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Michael Adams vs Ludger Keitlinghaus
Bundesliga (1997/98), Germany, rd 12, Mar-28
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. l'Hermet Variation Berlin Wall Defense (C67)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-11-19  nummerzwei: In 1999*, Christopher Lutz wrote an article on the recently popular Berlin Endgame that was published in Schach 10/1999.

About the Nxe6-structure that arises in this game after move 14, he said that it 'mostly leads to a small but enduring White edge. However, Black can then put pressure on White's f-pawn along the f-file and set up a kind of fortress, one that is difficult to break' (p.50).

This is accompanied by a diagram from this game in which Keitlinghaus played the waiting move 22...Bd8. This leads the reader to assume that Black's defense is impregnable, as is made out in the analysis of the game in the appendix of the article. However, I think that Black's position is shaky and that Adams could have made progress easily, at that point and later.

After 22...Bd8, just

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23.h4 h5 (otherwise 24.h5 and Black is squashed) 24.gxh5 Rxh5 25.Be3 (25.Kg4!?) b6 26.Kg4! (rather that 26.Rg4 Ne7, Lutz) and now

a) 26...Rh8 27.h5 Ne7 28.Nh4 Rf8 29.Rf4 Rxf4+ 30.Bxf4 with good winning chances due to Black's weak g-pawn

b) 26...Rf5 27.h5 Ne7 28.b4!? (now this is a computer suggestion, based on 28...cxb4 29.Ng5 Kd7 30.Rd4+ Nd5 31.Rxd5+)

And with the f-pawn already advanced, on move 37 White could have gone

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37.Kg3 Be7 38.f5 exf5 39.gxf5 Nh4 40.f6! (instead of Lutz's 40.Rf1) Nf5+ (40...gxf6? is unsound after 41.Kxh4) 41.Kf4 Nxe3 42.fxg7 Ng2+ 43.Kg3 Rg8 44.Kxg2 Rxg7+ 45.Kf3

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Black's doubled pawns are useless, so it is almost as if White was a pawn up.

*There is a common misconception according to which this line lay dormant before Kramnik used it in the 2000 World Championship match. In fact, it was frequently played in the 1990s, including by Kramnik himself in Topalov vs Kramnik, 1999.

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