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Ruy López Opening - a guide to the Spanish Game

Posted on:May 5, 2023

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Ruy López also called the Spanish Opening or Spanish Game is a very popular chess opening named after the Spanish Priest of the 16th century – Ruy López de Segura. The main point of the Ruy López Opening for White is to break Black’s pawn structure in the opening.


The Ruy López starts with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 resulting in this position:

ruy lopez

Morphy Defence - Main Line

The Ruy López Main Line is known for its rich positional and tactical ideas, as well as its potential for explosive attacks on either side of the board.

ruy lopez

Morphy Defence - Main Line PGN:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6

Morphy Defence - Exchange Variation

In this variation, white exchanges their bishop on b3 for black’s knight on a5, leading to a symmetrical pawn structure. White’s main idea is to gain space in the center and develop their pieces quickly, while black aims to create counterplay and challenge white’s position.

ruy lopez

Morphy Defence - Exchange Variation PGN:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. O-O f6 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 c5 8. Nb3 Qxd1 9. Rxd1

The Berlin Defence

The idea of this variation is to capture the hanging pawn on e4. Although it is considered a drawing weapon, the Berlin Defense still requires careful play from both sides, and there are still opportunities for both players to create winning chances.

ruy lopez

The Berlin Defence PGN:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Rd1+ Ke8 10. Nc3 Ne7 11. b3 Ng6 12. Bb2

Marshall Attack

The Marshall Attack is named after Frank Marshall, an American chess player who first used the opening to defeat José Raúl Capablanca, one of the greatest chess players of all time. Since then, it has become a popular choice for aggressive black players looking for a way to unbalance the game and create chances for a win.

ruy lopez

Marshall Attack PGN:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d4 Bd6 13. Re1 Qh4 14. g3 Qh3


The Spanish Game is a very popular opening but also respected and still played at the highest levels of chess today. It can lead to many different types of positions, depending on how the game develops. One drawback of the Ruy López for white is that it can sometimes allow black to equalize quickly and gain an advantage if white is not careful. Overall, it’s a very exciting opening to play as both white and black, with many options!