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Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense (C65)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6

Number of games in database: 3017
Years covered: 1840 to 2016
Overall record:
   White wins 36.4%
   Black wins 24.6%
   Draws 38.9%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Viswanathan Anand  39 games
Peter Svidler  37 games
Magnus Carlsen  34 games
Vladimir Kramnik  52 games
Levon Aronian  40 games
Aleksej Aleksandrov  34 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Steinitz vs Chigorin, 1892
Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858
Capablanca vs O Bernstein, 1911
Marshall vs Lasker, 1907
Anderssen vs Steinitz, 1866
Anand vs Carlsen, 2013
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 page 1 of 121; games 1-25 of 3,017  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Von Der Lasa vs W Hanstein 0-133 1840 BerlinC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
2. Mayet vs Harrwitz 0-122 1847 Berlin mC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
3. NN vs Morphy 0-124 1850 New Orleans USAC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
4. Mohishunder vs Cochrane 0-135 1850 Calcutta mC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
5. Wallenrath vs Jaenisch ½-½54 1850 St PetersburgC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
6. Bird vs Horwitz 1-029 1851 London mC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
7. Szen vs Horwitz 1-038 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
8. Bird vs Anderssen 1-044 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
9. Nijmegen vs Gouda  1-050 1851 correspondenceC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
10. Mayet vs Anderssen 1-053 1851 BerlinC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
11. Bird vs Horwitz 1-059 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
12. Loewenthal vs E Williams  1-060 1851 London m5C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
13. H Kennedy vs Szen 0-130 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
14. Loewenthal vs Anderssen 0-130 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
15. Jaenisch vs Staunton 0-142 1851 London m4C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
16. J Trelawney vs R Brien  0-143 1851 ProvincialC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
17. E Williams vs Staunton 0-161 1851 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
18. Loewenthal vs Harrwitz 1-059 1853 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
19. Staunton vs Von Der Lasa 0-127 1853 Brussels mC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
20. Staunton vs Von Der Lasa ½-½69 1853 MatchC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
21. Zytogorski vs R Brien  0-127 1855 Kling's Coffee HouseC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
22. Cochrane vs Mohishunder  ½-½41 1855 CalcuttaC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
23. Bird vs Anderssen 1-038 1857 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
24. A Meek vs Morphy 0-129 1857 1st American Chess CongressC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
25. S Boden vs Morphy 0-124 1858 LondonC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
 page 1 of 121; games 1-25 of 3,017  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-17-09  LaFreaK: search "WESLEY SO-NI HUA"
May-18-09  spirosgr: How about
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4. c3!?
i cant find any games starting like this though
Jul-24-09  WhiteRook48: that's because 4 c3 isn't attacking
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day : Ruy Lopez,Berlin Defense 1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘f6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: The Ruy Lopez is strong, but not unbreakable.

Same for the Petroff

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘f6

click for larger view

May-28-13  dvpjal: Visit


Sep-25-13  Kikoman:

<Opening of the Day>

Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6

click for larger view

Dec-01-13  solskytz: I have a very basic question, as a totally non-opening-expert:

If black wants to play ...Nf6 early, isn't it more flexible for him to play 3...a6 first? And then on 4. Ba4, ...Nf6?

Doesn't this give him more options? Or is there something basic here that I'm missing?

Flexible because after 3...a6 and 4. Ba4, he can always break the pin if he wants, by playing ...b5 anytime he sees fit.

Explanation please! :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <solskytz> One reason is that Black cannot go for the Berlin set-up if White plays the Exchange Variaion with 4.Bxc6.

This goes back to one of the basic themes of the Ruy Lopez, the vulnerability of Black's e-pawn. Consider these two sequences:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Nf6 6.Nxe5

click for larger view

Since Black dare not play 6...Nxe4 7.Re1 as the open e-file will be deadly, he has simply lost a pawn.

Now look at this sequence:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.Bxc6 dxc6

click for larger view

Since White hasn't castled he doesn't have the Re1 idea ready, so if he plays 5.Nxe5 Black can safely play the standard counter 5...Qd4 regaining the pawn. If White tries to get back to the previous line with 5.0-0, Black has time for 5...Bd6.

Essentially, in these lines 3...a6 just wastes a move.

Dec-02-13  solskytz: Dear <Phony Benoni>

Thank you very much for taking the time to explain this, and with diagrams.

Maybe I should have been a bit more precise in my question... I'm a 2000+ player, and of course I'm familiar with the exchange variation and this early play on winning or not winning the e pawn (Nc3 on the 5th move also threatens to win it, but is no longer popular after the 2nd world war).

So I will now be more specific, and hopefully you would still be able to help.

It is true, that 3...a6 takes the risk, that white will play the exchange variation. However, the vast majority of Ruy Lopez players don't go for the exchange variation, which has many resources for black, and in which, much like the Berlin itself, the two bishops often tell in the Q-less middle game, and black goes like "Good luck exploiting that K-side pawn majority".

So the precision of my question would now be - let's suppose that white ISN'T going to play 4. Bxc6, but would make the usual retreat to a4.

Under these circumstances, does the Berlin gain in power and flexibility for black by merit of including ...a6, Ba4? Or does it not?

Dec-02-13  Calar: <solskytz> It usually doesn't, since in many Berlin line Black gains time by attacking White Bishop on b5 with Nf6-Nxe4-Nd6 maneuver. With inclusion of a6 and Ba4, White could simply ignore Black's Nd6 and continue with his plans. Some examples are:

3...Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 (White must parry Nxb5 threat) dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 : famous Berlin Wall line

3...Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Bf1 (or even Bd3; but again White spends a tempo to parry Black's threat)

<So the precision of my question would now be - let's suppose that white ISN'T going to play 4. Bxc6, but would make the usual retreat to a4.> Then it's not Berlin defence anymore. 3...a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 is considered main line of Ruy Lopez and is different system than Berlin defence (defined by 3...Nf6).

To conclude, Nf6 is good and playable both with or without inclusion of a6 and Ba4; it just leads to different type of positions between these two lines.

Dec-02-13  solskytz: Oh, <Calar> - I guess that this is the kind of answer I was waiting for! I kind of suspected that this had to do with an attack on the Bb5, but missed the precise details...

I'll get home, prepare a cup of tea and go carefully over the variations you prepared, and finally learn something of value :-)

I'm sure that <Phony>, if he saw my second post earlier, would answer along similar lines, pretty much, so thanks to you as well :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <solskytz> If you're rated 2000+, I was wasting both of our time trying to answer your question!

I'm very glad that <calar was able to furnish a more appropriate response.

Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: In the standard line, after 3....Nf6, 4. Nc3 is a perfectly playable move, transposing the game into a 4 Knights Game. I would not be suprised if we didn't see more players opting to play that way.
Dec-02-13  micartouse: <RookFile: I would not be surprised if we didn't see more players opting to play that way.>

I would. :) Just kidding, I agree completely with what you meant to say. 4 Knights has all the qualities of a typical opening that gets revived. It's only a matter of time.

I'm a very weak player to throw in a point with you guys, but I've noticed the inclusion of ...a6 and ...b5 isn't all roses for black. It has both plusses and minuses. No doubt it's inclusion makes an improvement tactically in the development of the variations regardless of whether black was intending to set up with ...Bc5, ...Nf6, or ...d6. But positionally, it is slightly loose and committal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: <Rookfile> As a matter fact Ivanchuk and Nakamura did just that in a recent World Team Championship:

Ivanchuk vs Nakamura, 2013

The game was a hard-fought draw (though I suppose Carlsen would have kept playing on the final position.)

Dec-02-13  solskytz: <Phony Benoni> Definitely not! Even if you are rated way below 2000, you may still know more about certain aspects of chess than I do.
Dec-02-13  solskytz: <Rookfile> I liked this idea :-) Never crossed my mind actually...

I once beat a 2100 player (when I was below 1900 myself) with a game that started from the Berlin, 4. 0-0 Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dc and now 7. Nxe5, instead of the more customary 7. ed.

As I didn't know the theory, my idea was simply to get my Q to f3, play c3 and enjoy a space advantage on the K-side. I still think that this variation has potential.

Eventually in that game, I played a very successful sacrifice of my Ne5 on c6, capturing a second time with my Q (from f3), where it netted me his queen after some more complications. It felt amazing!

Apr-23-14  Garech: Does anyone know where the Berlin Defence got its name?


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: The first game at the top of this page is clue.
Apr-23-14  RedShield: Does anyone know where the Panama hat got its name?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: It was a Panama Hat that killed Morphy's dad.
Nov-04-14  Tigranny: Starting to like and use this opening more than my typical French, particularly in the Berlin Wall variation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <RedShield: Does anyone know where the Panama hat got its name?>

Yes. Tom Miller does.

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