Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...e5/2. Nf3/2...Nc6/3. Bb5/3...a6/4. Ba4/4...Nf6/5. O-O

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Ruy Lopez, Main Line

Ruy Lopez Main Line[edit]

Black has a number of options here:

Developing the f8-bishop to allow castling is a logical step.

  • 5...Be7 and
  • 5...Bc5 are both played; Bc5 carries more superficial attacking potential along the g1-a7 diagonal, but Black's natural plan of playing ...d6 will cut this bishop off from the defence of the kingside, plus it means White's natural plan of c3 followed by d4 will come with gain of tempo. Be7 is the most common move for these reasons. The bishop is not necessarily a bad piece on e7, where it supports the knight against any coming Bg5 ideas, and in the long term if Black is forced into playing ...g6 to evict a White knight from f5, it's useful to have the bishop available to redeploy to g7 via f8.
  • 5...b5 plans to develop the c8-bishop on b7 and the f8-bishop on c5, where they both aim at the kingside along adjacent diagonals. The difference between this move and the immediate ...Bc5 is that on ...Bc5 White can play c3 and get the bishop back to c2 in one move; here she must lose a tempo going via b3. Hence ...b5 is more common than ...Bc5.
  • 5...Nxe4 gives the a game a different flavour. Black tries to distract White from her development by snatching a pawn, leading to a more open position. As usual when a player grabs a pawn in the Ruy Lopez, trying to hold on to it turns out to be a bad idea.

Common Moves[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8{{{square}}} black rook{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black rook8
7{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn7
6{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king6
5{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king5
4{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king4
3{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king3
2{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn2
1{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} white queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white king{{{square}}} black king1
a b c d e f g h
5...Be7   (Closed variation)

a b c d e f g h
8{{{square}}} black rook{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black rook8
7{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn7
6{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king6
5{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king5
4{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king4
3{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king3
2{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn2
1{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} white queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white king{{{square}}} black king1
a b c d e f g h
5...b5   (Columbus variation)

a b c d e f g h
8{{{square}}} black rook{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black rook8
7{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn7
6{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king6
5{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king5
4{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king4
3{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king3
2{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn2
1{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} white queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white king{{{square}}} black king1
a b c d e f g h
5...Nxe4   (Open variation)

a b c d e f g h
8{{{square}}} black rook{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black rook8
7{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black pawn7
6{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king6
5{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black bishop{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king5
4{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king4
3{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} black king3
2{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn{{{square}}} white pawn2
1{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white knight{{{square}}} white bishop{{{square}}} white queen{{{square}}} black king{{{square}}} white rook{{{square}}} white king{{{square}}} black king1
a b c d e f g h
5...b5   (Neo-Arkhangelsk Variation)

Theory table[edit]

For explanation of theory tables see theory table and for notation see algebraic notation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O

5 6 7
Closed Defence O-O
Be7
Re1
b5
Bb3
d6
=
Open Variation ...
Nxe4
d4
b5
Bb3
d5
=
Columbus variation ...
b5
Bb3
Bb7
d3
Be7
=
Neo-Arkhangelsk Variation ...
Bc5
c3
b5
Bb3
d6
=

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References[edit]

  • Modern Chess Openings 15th ed, 2008. Nick de Firmian. Random House, New York. ISBN 0-8129-3682-5.
  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.