Understand the Ruy Lopez
Preview by the Author
“Milking a cow.” This is how once Bronstein described the Ruy Lopez opening. Despite the heavily explored lines this remains one of the most colourful and rich openings ever. The complex nature of the arising positions, the huge variety of tactical and positional ideas make it a must for every chess player.
The classical openings are often considered a “world championship match openings.” Indeed, the Queen’s Gambit is not just the name of a popular movie show but is quite a natural and solid reply against the 1.d4 move that has been tested in multiple matches. However, the true champion of all the classical openings is the Ruy Lopez.
There was never a world champion who did not have it in his repertoire either with the white or the black pieces. And often, the champions would play it with both colours.
Matches were decided in the complex Spanish structures. World champions have been determined. Almost every single top player of the past has enriched the opening himself. Many lines are named after some of our great champions. Think about the Steinitz and the Smyslov lines. Some of those champions invented or heavily contributed to more than just one line.
Chess eras have started and ended thanks to the Spanish. Kramnik did not invent the Berlin but explored it in-depth and found a way to beat the almighty Kasparov, thus ending his spectacular reign.
Nowadays Carlsen successfully outplays his opponents with both colours, once more proving that the Ruy Lopez is an inexhaustible opening.
Just one opening sub-line can lead to three different pawn structures, as the classical Chigorin line suggests:
White can now decide:
- To trade in the centre which would be the Rauzer line.
- Block the position with the d4-d5 advance which would lead to slow positional play when White typically attacks on the kingside, whereas Black counters on the opposite wing.
- Or he might decide to keep the pressure which can further lead to various splits and a large variety of pawn structures.
And this is just one line!
The more we study and the deeper we dive into the Ruy Lopez the more and more secrets will be revealed and the better the understanding of the structure and the typical ideas would become.
I now invite you to the starting part of this wonderful journey, the ideas without which we cannot be proper Ruy Lopez players!
Free Chapter: Black Has a Kingside Majority