Sunday, May 4, 2014

Opening Repertoire - Ruy Lopez (Spanish Opening)

Spanish Opening, for guys who play 1. e4

The best by test 1.e4 - Bobby Fischer

Ruy Lopez

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5

Candidate moves for Black:

Berlin Defense 
3...Nf6 (Most played #games 228k+)  

3...a6   (#games 15,000+)
3. Bc5 (Classical line)

Today we will discuss the closed Ruy Lopez, where White does not take the knight on c6.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6

The most popular move here for white is
5. 0-0  (#games 144k +)
Less popular
5. d3
5. d4

So after 5. 0-0 Candidate moves for black


I have seen all of these been played at the high levels and this is what I think for each of them

5... Be7 keeps the position closed, not too greedy yet to take the e4 pawn, A solid structure for black
5...Nxe4 goes into a sharp line where white can have the options to play Re1 (X-ray down a pin maybe take Nxe5 and try discovered attack tricks)
White can also play d4
5...b5 is eventually played in 6 if not now in these lines, and Black can then think of developing the bishop to b7 controlling the diagonal a8-h1

Variation A                                                                                                    Variation B

As mentioned, b5 will eventually be played forcing Bb3.

Variation A: Closed Ruy Lopez
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6

In this variation black has the option to go Be7 or Bg4 as desired.
White's Bishop on c1 needs some help

Variation B: 
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5

In this variation we can expect white to play Re1, (X-rayed pin / discovered check tricks)

Small trick in Ruy Lopez if 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nxe5
Exchange Variation
So if after 3...a6 4. Bxc6 this is how the position looks like and though black has double pawns, for that compensation he has the Bishop pair, as well as both the diagonals open for the bishop. On the bother hand white paid off with a bishop for black's double pawn structure. Both are fine here.

Now if you see the pawn on e5 is hanging, but can't be taken that easily by the knight. As black can reply back with Qg5 strong move. Sub optimal move can be Qd4 (to regain the pawn back).

But Qg5 here does a lot, taking the g2 pawn will ensure that White can't short castle, the rook moves and is cramped. And again e4 will hang, keeping black a pawn up then.

Some noteable games in the Ruy Lopez and who better than Former World Champ and World Champion themselves. Anand - Carlsen from World Chess Championship match 2013.

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