Ruy Lopez – Ideas, Principles and Common Variations ⎸Chess Openings

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Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) is the most valuable weapon for 1. e4 players. It follows the basic opening principles and teaches you how to control the center, develop pieces and react to your opponent’s threats properly.

In this video I will be covering the main variations of the Ruy Lopez, explaining the basic principles and ideas behind each one, but each individual variation will be covered in much more detail in a separate video. Mastering the Ruy Lopez is something every string chess player has to tackle at some point and there hasn’t been a single world champion or a super grandmaster who doesn’t have it as a major weapon in their opening repertoire.

The Ruy Lopez starts after the moves:
1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6

From this position black is able to choose from two main moves, 3…a6 or 3…Nf6, each leading to completely different positions. After 3…Nf6 the positions enters the Berlin Defense:
1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bb5 Nf6, and the most common continuation ends in the so called “Berlin Endgame” after the moves:
4.0-0 Nxe4
5.d4 Nd6
6.Bxc6 dxc6
7.dxe5 Nf5
8.Qxd8+ Kxd8, a position in black has forfeited castling rights and accepted doubled c pawns in exchange for the bishop pair.

After 3.Bb5, the most common way for black to play is with 3…a6, immediately challenging the bishop and forcing it to either capture the c6 knight or to retreat. If white responds with
4.Bxc6, then after 4…dxc6 the position has entered the Exchange Ruy Lopez. Similarly to the Berlin, white is arguing that he has a better pawn structure and that any piece trades favor him.

After 3…a3, taking the knight is not as common, though, and by far the most common reply is 4.Ba4, retreating the bishop, but keeping the pressure on the knight, and from here the Ruy Lopez branches out.

The most common continuation after:
4. Ba4 is Nf6, challenging the center and attacking e4, and white continues with
5. O-O Be7
6. Re1 b5 – after Re1 this is now the Closed Ruy Lopez, the starting position of most variations played at top level, and play almost always continues with
7. Bb3 O-O
8. c3 d6 (after 8.c3, black is also able to strike in the center with d5, instead of playing the more passive and solid d6, and the variation is called the Marshall Attack)
9. h3, after which this is the starting position for 90% of high level games, and the first point at which players actually start thinking. Black is the one who gets to choose which variation to go for from here on. The most common continuations are:
9…Bb8 (The Breyer variation)
9…Na5 (The Chigorin variation)

The Ruy Lopez (also called the Spanish Game or the Spanish torture) is one of the oldest chess openings. It was named after Ruy López de Segura, a Spanish priest and chess player who lived in the 16th century. The first mention of the opening was found in Libro del Ajedrez (the book of chess) from 1561, and it has been analyzed and improved upon ever since then.


  1. Your videos are genuinely good, clear and straight to the point. Thanks a lot for this amazing channel

  2. I have watched a lot of videos on openings. But they tend to say a lot of things, and I get confused midway. But you explained this Ruy Lopez opening so well.
    Thank you so much..

  3. Oh my god !!! Your's are the best chess channel I ever saw on YouTube , thanks sir . Give us more resources to study : )

  4. Thank you sir, I’m learning chess openings only from your channel. Excellent work!!!

  5. Every time I have problems with any line or any theory i just type hanging pawans …..Love from india….

  6. "There are no attacking gambits" right after talking about the Marshall…

  7. hello, a beginner here
    ruy lopes was the very first opening i learnt for white and as a beginner i havent learnt many openings other than ruy lopes, vienna, pirc, queens gambit
    but often my opponent replies 1.e4 with scandinavian or sicilian and i dont know any theory of those openings.
    what opening should i play against these as a beginner ?

  8. 2:30 What choice do we have when b7 pawn moves to b5 attacking the bishop?

  9. Great video! When you get the chance, could you perhaps do a video on the Schliemann Defence? It's a great fighting weapon against the Ruy Lopez!

  10. Why does white have to play h3 in the closed variation?

  11. Hey! Thank you so much for crate this content. I believe this is the best channel for learning chess.
    I have a request. Could you please add to this series the Steinitz Defense?
    I have a hard time figuring out how to go against it

  12. Just watched this as I’m working my way through openings.
    I’m also watching ben finegold, Jon B, Gotham chess and Eric Rosen
    Does anyone know a good chess coach I can get lessons from?
    Also any good books you would recommend

  13. For the Ruy Lopez, don't lose the white bishop early in the game.

  14. You didnt présent the Schliemann variation the Riga variation the néo archangelsk variation the keres variation ore other.

    Anyway it s very usefull

  15. Lol you can tell by the sound of his voice that he is a GM

  16. After the bishop retreats to a4 because of a6, why don‘t you play e5 as black right afterwards?

  17. My unofficial chess coach , thanks for the video

  18. This is good but do you have any information on when the new chess update going to come out

  19. When those three diagonal arrows of the queen and bishops from black during the Marshall attack appear, I immediately cringed out of pain for white.

  20. very good structured teaching. tidy, all in one, complete. thanks stephan.

  21. Mr Hanging Pawns, huge fan. I would just like to inform you GM Aman Hambleton has just made the “Hambleton Defense” for black with 3. Qf6. I think you should make a video covering this fun defense (and in case you’re wondering 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Qf6 4. d4 is called the mayonnaise gambit (I’m not joking))

  22. Hello, your voice is very clear thanks a lot for free chess opening lessons. Forward to the best

  23. Thanks for the good lesson video

  24. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 (3… Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8) 4. Ba4 (4. Bxc6 dxc6) 4… Nf6 5. O-O Be7 (5… b5 6. Bb3 Bb7) (5… Nxe4) 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d6 (8… d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d4 Bd6) 9. h3 Nb8 (9… Na5 10. Bc2 c5)

  25. I only play d4 lines but because of you I'll play this even if it costs me a lot of rating points cause I dont know them very well

  26. 5:06 : starting position of closed Ruy-Lopez (20% of top GM games)

  27. I have not played chess in a long time and I got back into it recently. I have been playing the London system and have had some good success, however, I have always enjoyed the idea of learning and studying the Ruy Lopez. This playlist is probably a good place to start. Thank you!

  28. You should have many more subscribers. I'm a 500 player, only got back into chess after many years this past winter because of quarantine, and I've rediscovered my love for the game and its intricacies. The depth of your chess knowledge and the way it is presented combines to make some of the best chess content on YouTube imho. Keep up the good work man, I really love your videos.

  29. A great video.right into the content without wasting any time.and i love the fact that u creating separate videos for each main lines.that makes it easier to access whatever we want.thanks!

  30. This opening is so boring but just a perfect opening for advance players to improve pozitional chess this is not opening for beginers just nooo

  31. Love your presenting style, direct & very informative of the strategy & tactics of each opening. Thank you

  32. 4:28 sorry im really dumb and new to chess but what if pawn B5?

  33. 4:36 "The pawn on E4 still can't be taken…"

    The pawn on e4 can definitely be taken. Yes, Re1 is the response, but it certainly can (and does) get taken.

    EDIT: at 14:18, the variation is noted. All good, still a weird phrasing at 4:36 tho

  34. at 10:22 why does the black knight go back to attack the bishop?

  35. Excellent intro and explanation – thank you sir

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