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The Berlin Wall: The Variation That Brought Down Kasparov Paperback – 15 Aug 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Quality Chess Europe AB (15 Aug. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9185779024
  • ISBN-13: 978-9185779024
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.8 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 838,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"You learn so much about chess from reading this book it is amazing! It is incredibly well-written."Carsten Hansen, ChessCafe

About the Author

John Cox is a lawyer and International Master from London. He is an experienced author whose previous books have received high praise.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Jet Lagged TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 19 Sept. 2013
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This mainly features one line of the solid Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez, or Spanish Game, namely: 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4. 0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8. It's the line where the dames come off.

After Kasparov's difficulties facing Kramnik's Berlin Wall, this opening is fast becoming more and more popular lately. Recently (July 2013) Michael Adams beat Caruana with it at Dortmund. (Adams in fact went on to win the tournament itself).

The author, IM John Cox, does a fantastic job here with his presentation of the material. What I really like about his approach is that he stresses UNDERSTANDING of the resulting positions - rather than yet another opening theory variation dump type of book. Even if you have no interest in playing this opening the book is still worth getting.

Cox divides the book into two sections. Part 1 is "Understanding the Berlin Wall". Part 2 is "The Theory of the Berlin Wall."

And he doesn't skimp on Part 1. For example, Chapter 2 ("Typical Berlin Endings") considers 18 different possible types of ending that can ensue. Part 1 alone Is worth the price of the book.

Part 1 is comprised of:-

Chapter 1 - Positional Introduction (8 pages)
Chapter 2 - Typical Berlin Endings (58 pages)
Chapter 3 - Positional Themes (60 pages)

Part 2 is comprised of:-

Chapter 4 ...Ne7 Systems without h3 (18 pages)
Chapter 5 ...Ne7 Systems with h3 (22 pages)
Chapter 6 ...Ne7 Systems without an immediate ...Ng6 (24 pages)
Chapter 7 ...Bd7 Systems (28 pages)
Chapter 8 ...Be7 Systems (22 pages)
Chapter 9 ...Berlin Endgame: White Alternatives and Miscellaneous Black Systems (24 pages)
Chapter10 ...White Plays 4.
Read more ›
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This book can really become a modern classic.
The book is devided in two parts.
The first part will teach you the typical endgames that will result from this tactical opening, and the typical middlegame plans.
The second part deals with the variations, grouped by themes rather that as a tree of variations. This section is also carefully anotated with an emphasis on the typical plans you need to know to play this opening.
The concept of the book perfectly matches the character of the Berlin Defence, as this defence does not require the memorization of long sharp lines, but to have a good understanding of how to handle these positions and which typical plans apply: which pieces to exchange and which pawn structure to strive for.
Recommended without any reservations.
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I remember reading somewhere that Kennedy's famous words actually meant he was some sort of sausage. Anyway, be that it is may, John Cox's book on the Berlin Wall is definitely meaty. As someone who gave up 1...e5 as an answer to 1.e4 too many years ago to mention, returning to this battlefield is almost like starting again. So a book that focuses on ideas, positional themes and tactical possibilities as well as covering the lines is very welcome. The presentation is clear and the organisation of the material really appealed to me. It isn't (and isn't trying to be) a complete 1.e4 e5 repertoire work so you will need something else to study if you want to be theoretically prepared when white doesn't choose to go down the Ruy Lopez path. This isn't a criticism just a point of information. If white does opt for the Ruy and if you've got your head round this book, then I suspect your opponent - even if he/she is pretty strong, isn't going to find you any kind of pushover. In short, this is a chessbook that I'm pretty sure will repay study for players at many different levels.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb opening instruction 21 Aug. 2009
By Goosemeyer - Published on Amazon.com
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I am completely in awe of the author's accomplishment.

How many times have you read about an opening book claiming to focus on ideas and been disappointed? Well, this time you won't be. Cox spends some 130 pages on deep deep explanatory material before he even starts talking theory. Now this isn't an easy opening and it's going to take alot of work to absorb all the positional motifs and endgame subtleties and piece evaluations, but the material is there for you. The book has done its job to perfection - the rest is up to you.

You learn which pieces are valuable and for what reason, which trades are advantageous, what plans White will likely adopt and how to counter them, which pawn moves are appropriate in which cases, how to position your King, how to coordinate your pieces to blockade White's pawn majority, specific recurrent tactical motifs, and I could go on and on.

Cox offers repertoire coverage of three systems of development after the initial position, Kramnik's ...Bd7 against Kasparov, Kaufman's ...Be7, and the contemporary ...Ne7, each of which has a different character. He does not offer coverage of divergences before 3...Nf6 but refers you to Mihail Marin's Beating the Open Games (outstanding itself, but in a different style).

Now I mentioned that it is not easy material. Some of the endgame discussions, for example, assume you have a clue, which in my case was a bit optimistic, but even in those cases it offers great material for study and analysis so that you can come to understand his points as you improve. The third endgame study, to offer one example, passes over a long corresponding squares sequence (I think) without comment. There is still enough simple material though for modest players to get their money's worth many times over straight out of the gate.

The Berlin is one Ruy that you might actually get to play, given that it has a short entry sequence. If you don't get that far then Mihail Marin's wonderful book has your back. The combination is a remarkable collection of material that will help any player learn and play the open games seriously and with growing confidence. You really couldn't ask for more.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece on the Berlin Wall 6 Aug. 2016
By Thijs - Published on Amazon.com
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As I was looking for an opening to play with black, I came across this book, and after reading many positive reviews I decided to give it a shot. Reading the book I was very surprised how the Berlin Wall can actually be so entertaining (both to read about and to play as black!), given the bad reputation it has in the chess world as hoping for a draw with black. Against average opponents however the Berlin Wall is both a solid choice, as a rich choice with many options for white to go wrong and win the game as black.

+ Very well-written, an absolute pleasure to read
+ Completely changed my mind about this opening, after reading this book
+ With Kramnik having beaten Kasparov with the Berlin, this is a durable choice as well, even if you get to the GM level

- There is an annoying "bug" in the book which causes many punctuation marks to be missing, which makes it a bit less of a pleasure to read
- As for the opening, it is not the most convenient in the sense that there are many enormous sidelines: before you get to the Berlin on the 8th move, white could already have deviated in many ways, and black has to be prepared for those sidelines as well. (Many of these sidelines are covered in this book as well though, but e.g. you may also face the Scotch, the Italian game, the King's gambit etc.)
12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Be forewarned 8 Dec. 2012
By Farley - Published on Amazon.com
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If you want to buy this book, you should first know a few things about it. It's not about the Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez. It's about ONE variation of the Berlin Defense, namely: 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4. 0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd6+ Kxd8. NINE of the eleven chapters of the book deal with this variation. That means the next time you go to the club, you'll have to arrange with your opponent for him to play exactly like that; otherwise the book will be rather useless. Only in the last two chapters does the author talk about the "deviations," the deviations being anything else in the Berlin Defense which is not the variation mentioned above;and even so the author tells you that he only covers things from Black's viewpoint.
But what is more surprising is the reason the author gives for doing that. He said that the things covered in the last two chapters occur more at club level, whereas the variation he covers in the bulk of the book is more common in international level!
In other words, the book is not for us, club players.
It's for international masters. I wonder if I were an international master if I'd need a book like that. I'd have my own files.
This also begs an interesting (rhetorical)question:
who in the ultimate analysis actually supports this lucrative industry of chess potboilers? We do. But the book is for his peers. I had a teacher in graduate
school that told me that 98% of technical books are written by authors just to show off to their peers.
And I thought he was too radical!
Another thing you have to be prepared to read this book is to tackle the English. The book is written in extremely poor English. There are a lot of run-on sentences. You have to stop in the middle of several sentences and start reading them again trying to find the separation between the ideas because there is no punctuation at all. It's terrible. And the funny thing is that the back cover of the book tells us this author is a lawyer!
I keep thinking about this guy writing a petition to a judge in this kind of English. Has he ever won a case in court?
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough in opening theory as well as positional themes 28 July 2010
By James Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
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Cox explains in great detail the various plans white and black have in the Berlin Wall variation of the Spanish.

In the first part of the book he examines the various endgames that may arise - the pawn ending, rook ending, double rook, knight vs bishop, bishop vs knight, other bishop vs knight, etc.

However, the Berlin Wall doesn't directly lead to these endgames, but to a queenless middlegame. Thus the next part is devoted to showing numerous examples of typical positional themes and tactical blows.

The final chapters deal with the opening theory - and Cox looks at alot of lines and variations, practically all of black's (and white's) tries get a look.

The only small problem I had was that often, in the notes to a game, punctuation would be forgotten, which sometimes makes it a bit hard to understand where Cox is coming from. But overall this book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the Berlin Wall defense.
4.0 out of 5 stars For endgame obsessed Berlin players 15 Jun. 2015
By Chris - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Many endgame examples with all major piece combination possibilities. Could use more thematic teaching methods, but good analysis overall and mostly engaging without overkill
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