Ruy Lopez – All You Need to Know About the Spanish Opening in Chess

Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular openings in chess. Also known as the Spanish Opening, it’s one of the oldest openings in the game and many great players like Alekhine, Capablanca, Smyslov, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Shirov and Short included it in their repertoire. In this article, you will find the basic principles of this opening and the reason why Grandmasters use it.

The origins of the Ruy Lopez opening date back to 1561 when the Spanish Bishop Lopez mentioned it in his book. Nowadays, many players use it but it’s not that popular in comparison with other openings despite the fact that this opening doesn’t have serious weaknesses. Actually, it’s full of tricks and maneuvers for both Black and White and players could have used it a lot more. In this point, I would like to share a historic game of chess of Ruy Lopez. You can easily notice that the differences in modern chess are way big.

An Introduction to Ruy Lopez

The initial moves of this opening are: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5.

White in his second move is trying to add pressure in e5 square by placing his Knight in f3 square. Black responds by advancing his own Knight and he tries to capture the center of the chessboard. White, in his third move, is advancing his Bishop and the pressure upon the black pawn at e5 square will help White to capture the center of the chessboard by moving his pawn to d4 square. Black can stop him and create serious threats. Let’s check the main variations.

Open Variation

Marshall Attack

Marshall Attack is an interesting variation where Black sacrifices a pawn in order to quickly advance his pieces.

Closed Defense

Illustrative games of the Spanish Opening

The best way to understand the Spanish opening is through analyzing games played by the best players on earth. I have selected interesting and instructive games that have been commented in order to make this procedure way easier. I encourage you to analyze each move and discover the essence behind it.

Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense

Ruy Lopez, Marshall Counter-Attack

Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer, Borisenko Variation

Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense

Ruy Lopez, Closed, Ragozin-Petrosian (Keres) Variation

Ruy Lopez, Closed (6.d3)

Ruy Lopez, Archangelsk (Counterthrust) Variation

Recommended Books and Courses

Nowadays, Ruy Lopez is considered some of the most popular openings among Grandmasters. So, mastering it is extremely important for all players. There are countless variations related to the Spanish Opening and I believe only a book or a course can provide a lot of information in a structured way. After some research, I have selected some books that will help you practice Ruy Lopez. So, take a look at the following books because I am certain that you will find at least one exciting book.

  1. Ruy Lopez: Move by Move
  2. Bologan’s Ruy Lopez for Black: How to Play for a Win against the Spanish Opening
  3. My Secrets in the Ruy Lopez
  4. Bologan’s Black Weapons in the Open Games: How to Play for a Win if White Avoids the Ruy Lopez

Final Thoughts

I strongly recommend you to take a look at my other articles about chess strategies like the English Opening, Pirc Defense, and Nimzo-Indian Defense. Ruy Lopez is a very useful opening for Black and White. With a little practice, you can master this opening. I hope that you liked this article and you have found great value in it. Please comment and share it with friends. Enjoy playing chess.

1 thought on “Ruy Lopez – All You Need to Know About the Spanish Opening in Chess”

  1. Since I don’t play the Lopez as white, all I have to do is know one defensive line. I love the Bird Defense 3…..Nd5! Disappointed not to see any games in that line.


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