[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR"]
[Title "Berlin Defense"]
[StartFlipped "1"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Bb4?!

When White castles, Stockfish evaluates the game to be roughly equal. After Black responds with Bb4, the evaluation goes to around +1 and Stockfish labels it as an inaccuracy.

What is wrong with Black’s move? It leads to a more symmetrical position so I’m surprised that it’s considered bad.

1 Answer 1


Easy: The bishop not only shoots thin air, but also asks to be kicked around with c3, such that White wins a tempo with a move he likes to play anyway in Italian/Spanish positions to make a big center with d4. Thus, after c3 (immediately, or after Re1), White is simply a tempo up with respect to "normal" variants. The position is still closed and Black is rather lucky it is "just" 1.0. Look at a few Morphy games to see how opening errors like these get punished mercilessly.

  • 1
    it was played in 2018 though?
    – BCLC
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 19:30
  • 6
    And white has scored 83% after the position in question was reached, so I'd expect the best answer to that is "There are very few moves so bad that they've never been played, even in a rapid game."
    – Arlen
    Commented Dec 11, 2021 at 20:01
  • @Arlen: And note the game linked by BCLC was drawn after 8 moves...You can never be sure nowadays if such a move contains a deviously prepared computer trap :-) Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 7:50
  • Have to admit I didn't analyze it deeply. I saw it was a rapid game, and know the shorter the time control the easier it is to "talk" your opponent out of playing the most principled lines, saw White didn't play c3, and left it at that. When I play ...e5 I lean more into the Classical Defense (...bc5) than the Berlin, and time is finite. (Also, I'm not crazy about the idea of taking on c6 when Black hasn't wasted time with ...a6.)
    – Arlen
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 19:52

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