Understand the Ruy Lopez
Introduction and Free Preview
The camp Understand the Ruy Lopez is already a digital product. This product includes all the videos from the masterclass as well as the PGN file related to the training sessions. Overall, the material consists of approximately 9 hours of video and a PGN database which includes 81 files!
You will find the following lectures:
Doubled Pawns on c7 and c6 - Typical Plans and Ideas - GM Petar Arnaudov
Must-Know Structures in the Chigorin Variation - GM Dejan Bojkov
Positions with Closed Centre in Ruy Lopez - GM Grigor Grigorov
Typical Structures with Early d2-d3 - GM Mihail Marin
Must-Know Structures in the Breyer Variation - GM Michael Roiz
Must-Know Structures in the Zaitsev Variation - GM Pavel Eljanov
In this article, we will briefly present some interesting moments taken from the lectures
Doubled Pawns on c7 and c6 - Typical Plans and Ideas
The exchange structure is one of the most important structures in Ruy Lopez. White is giving his bishop for the knight and hopes to get a static advantage. Also after this exchange, many endgames will favor White. I divide this structure into two parts.
The first one is the Exchange Ruy Lopez which arises after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6
This is a must-known structure for every Ruy Lopez player. The battle between better structure and bishop pair is quite interesting. As a general rule White is trying to exchange all the pieces and reach a winning pawn endgame. Surprisingly enough, Black is trying to exchange queens in many lines and prove that Black's bishops' activity fully compensates for the worse structure. White's best move here is 5.0-0, where Black has many possibilities. A better understanding of the arising positions is more important than concrete lines in this structure.
The second part of the article is dedicated to the positions when White exchanged on "c6" only after Black's knight is already on "f6"
Most of the examples are from the so-called "Delayed Exchange Variation" which arises after the moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Bxc6 dxc6
This is the starting position and White is on a crossroad. The e4-pawn is hanging and White has to do something about it. White has two main plans in this position. The first one is to prepare and open the game by means of d4 and the other one is to start a kingside play with f2-f4. The recent trend in similar structures for White is to castle long and to start pushing his kingside pawns. Black wants to manoeuvre his knight to e6 (via f8 or c5) and usually, he waits with castling. Very often, Black's monarch feels more comfortable on the queenside. The other manoeuvre which you should know is Nf6-d7-b8-c6. Some of the arising positions are quite sharp.
The article consists of 13 extensively annotated model games. Below, you shall take a look at one of them.
Must-Know Structures in the Chigorin Variation
Probably the Chigorin System is the purest illustration of all the typical Ruy Lopez concepts. It's not by accident that this is one of the oldest systems. For example, many games played by Rubinstein are still relevant for our understanding of this system.
GM Dejan Bojkov is famous for his passion for Ruy Lopez. One year ago, he published a wonderful course about the Ruy Lopez middlegame positions - Understand the Ruy Lopez.
In the current lecture, GM Bojkov explains all the must-know ideas in Ruy Lopez structures. Having played this system for both colours on regular basis, Bojkov provides a global overview of the arising middlegames.
The PGN version of the article consists of 18 extensively annotated model games.
Below, you shall take a look at one of them.
Positions with Closed Centre in Ruy Lopez
You cannot play the Ruy Lopez without having a subtle understanding of the closed positions. In this lecture, GM Grigorov examines closed positions that arise out of different Ruy Lopez systems.
Even though many structural modifications are possible, one should know the basic closed structure in Ruy Lopez.
Basic Pawn Structure
This is the most basic pawn structure regarding the positions with a closed centre in Ruy Lopez. When looking at this position, one cannot avoid drawing parallels between Ruy Lopez and King's Indian Defence. Even though there are many similarities, we need to understand some subtle differences. Instead of having a pawn on c4 (like in King's Indian), in Ruy Lopez, White's pawn is on c3. At the same time, Black's queenside is overextended. The nature of Black's overextended queenside is not one-sided. While in some cases Black can execute some favourable queenside breaks, very often White uses Black's further advanced pawns as a hook. As a result, Black often finds himself with queenside weaknesses. In this lecture, I deal with different queenside modifications. Generally speaking, White has two main strategies in this structure:
1) Closing the queenside and winning the game on the kingside
2) Creating queenside weaknesses and exploiting them
Very often, White manages to combine his queenside play with threats on the kingside. If White is not precise, however, Black can overtake the initiative on both wings. As we are going to see in this lecture, he can either play ...c5-c4 followed by ...Nc5 or execute the ... f7-f5 break on the kingside.
The PGN version of the lecture consists of 13 extensively annotated model games and 6 test positions.
Below, we present one of the model games.
Typical Structures with Early d2-d3
GM Mihail Marin is a well-known Ruy Lopez specialist. Besides having tremendous practice in this opening, he dedicated to Ruy Lopez numerous articles and books. Therefore, every Ruy Lopez player would benefit from Marin's understanding of the topical systems with d2-d3.
The starting point of his lecture is the position arising after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.d3
Here is how the author introduces the topic himself.
Due to White's desire to avoid a series of black systems, such as the Berlin Defence, the Marshall Attack and the Open (Tarrasch) variation, this move (played now, a bit later, or earlier, is quite frequent in modern practice. It apparently makes the position dull, as it seems to restrict both players to long manoeuvres leading nowhere. However, both sides dispose over a series of pawn breaks in the early middlegame, such as d3-d4 and f2-f4 for White and ...d7-d5 or ...f7-f5 for Black. Adding to these, after 6...b5 7.Bb3 White can also consider a2-a4, a move that can change the evaluation abruptly in several Ruy Lopez systems. This additional possibility, together with the relative weaknesses on c6 and c5, mark the main differences between The Italian Giuoco Pianissimo and the Ruy Lopez with d2-d3. Of course, in some cases, the space gained by Black with ...b7-b5 can do him a favour, so ...b7-b5 cannot be judged one-sidedly. It does not mean that the Ruy Lopez with d2-d3 is either better or worse than the Italian, but it makes it the more complex of the two relatively similar openings. The games selected for this database, subject of the recent webinar, illustrate the (sometimes fascinating) complications ensuing after any of the aforementioned pawn breaks.
The PGN version of the lecture consists of 9 extensively annotated model games.
Below, you shall take a look at one of them.
Must-Know Structures in the Breyer Variation
The Breyer Variation has the reputation of being a solid, flexible and reliable antidote to the Ruy Lopez. The soundness of this system is proven in a number of top-level games.
GM Michael Roiz is definitely the go-to person for the subtleties of the Breyer pawn structures. In 2019, he published an excellent Breyer Course for Modern Chess. Even though many new games have been played since then, the high-level practice confirmed the validity of the main concepts. In the current lecture, besides explaining the main pawn structures, Roiz provides a fantastic theoretical background. Therefore, this lecture can be considered as a kind of update on his Breyer database.
Must-Know Structures in the Zaitsev Variation
After studying the Breyer structures, it will be easier for you to understand the subtleties of another top-level weapon - the Zaitsev System. In the current lecture, Eljanov shows why this system managed to withstand the test of time.
The main starting position of the Zaitsev shows the philosophy behind this system.
Black is planning to increase the pressure on e4 by means of ...Bf8. Therefore, unlike the Breyer Variation, White does not have time for the manoeuvre Nbd2-f1-g3. The strong pressure on the White's centre is the cornerstone of Black's strategy in this line. Just like Michael Roiz, by explaining the main pawn structures, Eljanov builds a kind of repertoire for both sides.
Below, you shall take a look at one of the model games.