Understanding before Moving 78: Pawn Majorities (2)

by ChessBase
5/8/2022 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 78th instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman continues to talk about pawn majorities. | Photo: Pascal Simon

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


In the previous episode we talked about pawn majorities and looked at a game in which White played the Spanish Exchange Variation and won thanks to his majority on the kingside. It is interesting to compare this structure with a typical structure of the Berlin Defense.

The big difference: in the Exchange Variation White has a pawn on e4, in the Berlin it is on e5. But this difference is important.

It was former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik, who made the Berlin popular. When preparing for his World Championship match against Garry Kasparov in London 2000, he discovered that Kasparov did not handle queenless middlegames as well as other positions. Therefore, Kramnik chose the "Berlin Wall" as his main defense with Black. The plan worked wonderfully: Kasparov never managed to gain an advantage with White in any of his games and had to resign himself to a draw every time.

But Kramnik won twice with White and became World Champion. In the video I explain the difference between the "Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez" and the "Berlin Wall" and I show two games between Kasparov and Kramnik with the "Berlin".

The position below is also from a game between Kasparov and Kramnik and with 24...Rh5? Kramnik had just made a huge blunder (Black had to play 24...f6 or 24...g6 to keep control over the important square f5). But Kasparov missed the chance offered to him. How can White get a position that is almost won strategically?



This week’s show (for Premium Members only)


Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.