This book’s journey began on the first day of January 2018 when one of my New Year resolutions was to write a chess book. The journey has been very long, but certainly fun, and has in many ways made me understand myself better, both as a person and as a chess player!
How did I fall in love with this beautiful Berlin Defense? In mid-2003, when I was preparing for the World U-10 Championship, I found that my Philidor Defense wasn’t good enough to be played in a tournament of such stature, and my coach at the time, IM Raja Ravi Sekhar, suggested the Berlin to me as it was at the peak of its popularity after the 2001 World Championship match between Kasparov and Kramnik.
The Berlin was a good fit for me then, as it didn’t have extensive theory (unlike now!) and the lines given in ECO were simple and easy to remember, which made me very happy, as I never really enjoyed memorizing moves in the opening.
The Berlin Defense has had a significant impact on my chess career, as it made me a positional player who would happily exchange queens in the firm belief of outplaying his opponents in practical endgames. The Berlin has made me enjoy these endgames and has had a huge impact on my playing style.
When I set out to write this book, I was clear on certain aspects, like keeping the moves simple and giving as much explanation as possible at the critical moments, as I wanted to ensure that someone interested in learning the intricacies of the Berlin doesn’t get swamped by long theoretical lines, but acquires a deeper understanding of the dynamics of the positions. If you manage to grasp the dynamics of these lines, then you can play not just the systems recommended in the book, but also other popular Berlin variations that have not been covered in this book for the Black side.