1. e4 e5; 2. Nf3 Nc6; 3. Bb5
The Ruy Lopez is a very popular opening and is one of the most played openings in Chess. It is probably the most played e4 variation amongst intermediate and advanced players and is also quite common amongst beginners. There are many variations of this opening and this page looks at most of them. On this page you will find traps and advice on most variations of the Ruy Lopez so that you'll then be able to play this opening to a high level as both white or black. The Ruy Lopez is a favourite of Grandmaster's such as Kasparov and Anand. Outside of English speaking countries this opening is known as the Spanish Game.
Use the links below to go to a particular variation that you are interested in or you can simply scroll down through the page instead.
Avoiding the Marshall Counter-Gambit
9. .... Be6 Variation
Example games involving the Ruy Lopez
The main line after white plays 3. Bb5 is 3....a6; however there are a few other playable variations which I will analyse first.
This is one of the most commonly played variation amongst grandmasters. This variation can often lead to similar positions from other variations. This variation has famously used by Kramnik in his World Championship matches against Kasparov in October 2000 and he was reasonably successful with it. Not even Kasparov was able to gain much of an advantage from the opening as white. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to view those games.
Although at first it looks like white is giving a pawn away, it is best for white to play 4. O-O as the pawn can soon be won back anyway. Some players would instead try to defend the pawn by playing 4. d3 or 4. Nc3. These are playable but to try and get a better advantage from the opening it is normal to castle king side on move 4. After 4. O-O black can play 4....d6; which leads to a Steinitz Defense, 4....Bc5; which leads to a Classical Defense or 4....Nxe4, which is what distinguishes this variation from the other main variations. This is a bit similar to the Open Defense shown later on in this page.
There are two main options after 4. O-O Nxe4; (see picture below) which are 5. Re1 or 5. d4.
5. Re1 is a variation that is quite drawish, where white easily wins back the pawn and gets no real advantage from the opening, so 5. d4 is the recommended move if white wants to get an advantage from the opening. There are two main possibilities now for black after 5. d4 which are 5....Be7; or 5....Nd6; which is what Kramnik played against Kasparov in their World Championship matches.
5. d4 Be7; is known as the Rio de Janiero Variation. White needs to try and win back the pawn so white now has to play 6. Re1 or 6. Qe2, which is considered the better of the two. This threatens the black knight on e4 so black needs to either move it to d6 or f6 or defend it by playing 6....d5, all of which immediately allow white to recapture the pawn on e5 next move. The recommended continuation is 6. Qe2 Nd6; 7. Bxc6 bxb6; 8. dxe5 Nb7; 9. c4 O-O; 10. Nc3 Nc5; On move 7, it is better to recapture with the b pawn instead of the d pawn because white can play Rd1 which can cause black a few problems and also taking with the b pawn allows black to play Nb7 and then Nc5 to bring the knight back into a good position. Black can now also play Ba6 which puts the bishop on the same diagonal as the white queen and rook with a possible view to playing d5 if this is appropriate at the time.
5. d4 Nd6; This threatens the bishop on b5 so white needs to play 6. Bxc6 which is probably white's best option. After this black can recapture with either the b or the d pawn, as Kramnik prefers to recapture with the d pawn I am assuming that this is probably better although recapturing with the b pawn is perfectly playable. After 6....dxc6; white needs to recapture the pawn, 7. dxe5 is better than 7. Nxe5 as this threatens the knight and allows white to swap off queens on the next move. The best place for the knight to go is probably f5, so 7....Nf5; is recommended as the knight is being defended by the bishop on c8 here and there is no obvious attack on the knight that white can do other than to play g4, which is a bit risky as it leaves the king side a bit open. White might as well play 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8; to exchange off the queens.
White might have a slight advantage now in the middle and end game with black having doubled pawns on the c file. Black is now unable to castle but this isn't so much of a problem with the queens having been exchanged off and the king may need to move again to allow the rook on a8 to come out. However Kramnik playing as black was able to get draws with Kasparov from this position so it can't be that bad a position to be in as black. White has no obvious attacking possibilities now.
This variation from black is an attempt to avoid having the pinned knight which can be a bit of a problem for black. White now should exchange off the knight by playing 4. Nxd4 exd4; Black has doubled pawns on the d-file but the pawn on d4 can be a bit annoying for white. A typical continuation of the Bird's Defense variation would be 5. O-O c6; 6. Bc4 Nf6; 7. Re1 d6; 8. d3 Be7; 9. Nd2 with probably a better position for white.
In this variation black puts the bishop on c5 instead of the more normal position of e7 that would happen in the main line of the Ruy Lopez. The good thing for black is that the bishop is in a more attacking position as it is attacking the f2 pawn and the centre, however white can gain a few advantages from this by trying to attack the bishop and the bishop isn't in such a good position to defend against the threat of Bg5.
It is recommended that white should now play 4. c3 to lead to the threat of 5. d4 next move. Black has 3 main possible moves now which are 4....Nge7; the peculiar Cordel Gambit - 4....f5; or the main line of 4....Nf6; which are all analysed below:
4. c3 Nge7; 5. O-O Bb6; 6. d4 exd4; 7. cxd4 d5; 8. exd5 Nxd5; 9. Re1+ Be6; 10. Bg5 Qd6; 11. Nbd2 with probably a better position for white who has some strong files with the rook on e1 and also a rook on c1 if they want. The knight on d2 can also be looking to come out to either c4 or e4 which could be a bit awkward for black.
4. c3 f5; The Cordel Gambit can lead to some strange positions and there are many bizarre responses to it but it probably isn't black's best reply. The game could continue in any of the following unusual ways:
5. exf5 e4; 6. d4 Bb6; 7. Bg5 Nf6; 8. Ne5 a6; 9. Ba4.
5. d4 fxe4; 6. Bxc6 dxc6; 7. Nxe5 Bd6; 8. Qh5+ g6; 9. Qe2 Qh4; 10. h3.
5. d4 fxe4; 6. dxc5 exf3; 7. Qxf3 Nf6; 8. O-O O-O; 9. Bg5.
4. c3 Nf6; This is the main line. White should now play 5. O-O, black now has the option to take the pawn on e4 by playing 5....Nxe4; but this isn't the best move to do as white can now play 6. Qe2 d5; 7. d3 Nf6; 8. Nxe5 which leaves white in a winning position.
Instead of 5....Nxe4; black should play 5....O-O; which leads to 6. d4 Bb6; 7. Bg5 h6; 8. Bh4 d6; 9. a4 a5; 10. Re1 (see picture below).
10....g5; is risky because there is the option for white to play 11. Nxg5 hxg5; 12. Bxg5 and then 13. Qf3. After 10. Re1 white probably now has the better position which shows that the 3....Bc5; variation probably isn't black's best option.
This is a bit like the Cordel Gambit mentioned above in the Classical Defense. It is dangerous for black to play and is not really considered that good a response to the Ruy Lopez. The recommended move for white is the Berger Variation of 4. Nc3 but 4. d3 is also playable. After 4. Nc3 the recommended move for black is 4....fxe4; If black plays anything different to that move then white should play 5. exf5. After 4....fxe4 the game should continue 5. Nxe4 d5; 6. Nxe5 dxe4; 7. Nxc6 which is a very strange position that favours white who has options like Qh5+. Therefore black needs to play 7....Qg5 which leads to 8. Qe2 Nf6; 9. f4 Qh4+; 10. g3 Qh6; 11. Ne5+ c6; 12. Bc4. This leaves white a pawn up and in a better position.
This is not black's best option against the Ruy Lopez. White is able to play 4. d4 which leaves black two main alternatives which are 4....exd4; or the slightly better 4....Bd7;
After black plays 4....exd4; the game should continue something like 5. Nxd4 Bd7; 6. Bxc6 Bxc6; 7. Nc3 with a much better position for white.
After black plays the better move of 4....Bd7; the game should continue 5. Nc3 Nf6; 6. O-O Be7; (see picture below).
Black now has a cramped position which leaves white with the advantage. The game could now continue 7. Bxc6 Bxc6; 8. Qd3 exd4; 9. Nxd4, or 7. Re1 leading to the Tarrasch trap after 7....O-O; where white can now play 8. Bxc6 Bxc6; 9. dxe5 dxe5; 10. Qxd8 Raxd8; 11. Nxe5 Bxe4; 12. Nxe4 Nxe4; 13. Nd3 f5; 14. f3 Bc5+; 15. Nxc5 Nxc5; 16. Bg5 Rd4; 17. Be7 winning the knight. Black can't play 16....Rd5; here to protect the knight as white could then play 17. c4 before 18. Be7 to win the knight.
In the main line of 3....a6; black tries to chase away the bishop on b5 which is currently pinning the black knight on c6. White now has two main alternatives which are the exchange variation of 4. Bxc6 or white can retreat by playing 4. Ba5. These variations are analysed below.
The exchange variation is quite common amongst beginners and intermediate players but isn't played that often by advanced players. This is what I used to play a bit when I was younger. The idea of this variation is that white gives black doubled pawns and will then attempt to keep the pawns like this while aiming for an end game as quickly as possible. White will then have a slight advantage in the end game because of this.
After 4. Bxc6 black can then recapture by playing 4....bxc6; or 4....dxc6; Recapturing with the d pawn is better. In this position there may be an undefended black pawn on e5 but it is wrong to play 5. Nxe5? as black is then able to play 5....Qd4; to force the white knight to move, this then allows 6....Qxe4+; which means that white is no longer able to castle because after 7. Kf1 or 7. Qe2 Qxe2+; 8. Kxe2, the white king has already moved. The error of 5. Nxe5? is surprisingly common.
Instead of taking the pawn it is best for white to play 5. O-O. A typical continuation would be the Gligoric Variation which is 5....f6; 6. d4 exd4; 7. Nxd4 c5; 8. Nb3 Qxd1; 9. Rxd1 with a slight advantage for white (see picture below).
In this variation white plays 4. Ba4 to retreat the bishop, this still allows a delayed exchange variation to be played but this is quite rare as it is considered a bit of a wasted move for white. The game would normally continue 4....Nf6; 5. O-O (see picture below) which leads to three main alternatives for black which are 5....b5; leading to the Arkhangelsk Variation, 5....Nxe4; which is called the Open Defense or 5....Be7; which is called the Closed Defense. These are analysed below.
This variation is an attempt by black to get strong diagonals for the bishops. The game continues 6. Bb3 Bb7; 7. Re1 Bc5; (see picture below).
This position is reasonable for black and there is also the threat of Ng4. White needs to do something about this, the best way to stop this is to play 8. c3, with a view to playing d4 after. Black has two possibilities now, one is to play 8....Ng4; anyway or to play 8....d6;
After 8....Ng4; white has to be careful as there is a checkmate trap that white can fall for. The game continues 9. d4 exd4; Now white must play 10. h3 which will leave white with the advantage now. If white plays 10. cxd4? instead then black has a smothered mate possibility after 10....Nxd4; 11. Nxd4 Qh4; 12. Nf3 Qxf2+; 13. Kh1 Qg1+; 14. Rxg1 Nf2++Mate. This might catch some players out. If white played 12. h3 instead then black gets an advantage after 12....Qxf2+; 13. Kh1 Bxd4; and white can't take the knight with the pawn because 14. hxg4 Qh4++; is mate.
The Open Defense is a variation that is played by some grandmasters. It was former world champion Mikhail Tal's preferred variation. There are many extremely strange variations in the Open Defense, some of which are looked at below.
This variation is a bit similar to the Berlin Defense mentioned earlier. Again white has two main possibilities after black plays Nxe4. White can either play the recommended move of 6. d4 or alternatively 6. Re1 Nc5; 7. Bxc6 dxc6; 8. d4 Ne6; 9. Nxe5 Be7; 10. Be3 O-O; which doesn't leave white with much of an advantage.
In the 6. d4 variation, white doesn't recapture the pawn immediately but instead tries to win more if black makes a mistake, knowing that they should be able to get the pawn back soon anyway. The recommend move now for 6....b5; but another variation worth mentioning is the Riga Variation which is very unusual. This variation goes 6....exd4; 7. Re1 d5; 8. Nxd4 Bd6; 9. Nxc6 Bxh2+; 10. Kh1 Qh4; 11. Rxe4+ dxe4; 12. Qd8+ Qxd8; 13. Nxd8+ Kxd8; 14. Kxh2. Black shouldn't make the disastrous mistake of playing 14....f5 to protect the e4 pawn as 15. Bg5++ is mate. Instead black should play 14....Be6; leading to 15. Nc3 f5; 16. Bg5+ Kc8; Black does actually stay a pawn up in this variation but white probably has the better position and should try to take advantage of the strong bishop pair in the middle and end game.
Black should play 6....b5; This simply threatens the bishop and forces 7. Bb3. Now it is recommended that black plays 7....d5; however there is another unusual variation known as the Trifunovic Variation which is 7. Bb3 exd4; 8. Re1 d5; 9. Nc3 dxc3; 10. Bxd5 Bb7; 11. Ng5 Be7; 12. Nxf7 Qd7; 13. Nxh8.
If black plays 7....d5; then this blocks off the white bishop's diagonal and protects the knight on e4. White can now recapture the pawn safely by playing 8. dxe5. This now puts a double threat on the d5 pawn so black should play 8....Be6; to defend this. The two main lines from here are:
9. c3 Be7; 10. Nbd2 O-O; 11. Qe2 Nc5; 12. Nd4.
9. c3 Bc5; 10. Nbd2 O-O; 11. Bc2 Bf5; 12. Nb3 Bg4; 13. h3 Bh5; 14. g4 Bg6; 15. Bxe4 dxe4; 16. Bf4 Qxd1; 17. Raxd1.
There are some other variations that can be played which are the Howell Attack (also known as the Kere's Attack) which is 9. Qe2 Be7; 10. Rd1 O-O; 11. c4 bxc4; 12. Bxc4 Bc5; 13. Be3 Bxe3; 14. Qxe3 Qb8; 15. Bb3 Na5; 16. Nbd2 Nxd2; 17. Nxd2 Rd8; where neither player looks to have an advantage and the Bernstein Variation which is 9. Nbd2 Nc5; 10. c3 d4; 11. cxd4 Nxd4; or from this variation 11. Ng5 Qxg5; 12. Qf3 Kd7; 13. Bd5 Bxd5; 14. Qxd5+ Bd6; 15. Ne4 Qxe5; 16. Nxc5+ Kc8; White is forced to exchange off the queens now as 17....Qxh2++ is mate. This again leaves quite an even position with no obvious advantage for either player.
The Open Defense is a complicated variation with many unusual looking variations. I personally wouldn't play it because of this but as you can see from some of the above variations you might be able to catch out your opponent if they are unsure on a few of the variations as either white or black.
This variation is more common and less complicated. In this variation black doesn't take the pawn but instead plays the more defensive 5....Be7; The game normally continues with 6. Re1 b5; 7. Bb3, as white is now threatening to play 7. Bxc6 dxc6; 8. Nxe5 to go a pawn up, therefore black has to play 6. .... b5; to chase the bishop away so it can no longer take the knight, the only place the bishop can now go to is b3. There are two other alternatives that can be played to 6. Re1 which are 6. d4 or 6. Qe2, these are analysed below along with the main line of 6. Re1.
In this variation white launches a quick attack on the centre before playing the normal c3 move first to support the pawn on d4. Black should take the pawn by playing 6....exd4; White should play 7. Re1 to defend the pawn on e4. The other alternative here is 7. e5 but black can easily equal out the position by playing 7....Ne4; 8. Nxd4 O-O; 9. Nf5 d5;
The main line of this variation is 7. Re1 O-O; 8. e5 Ne8; 9. Bf4 b5; 10. Bb3 d5; (see picture below) which leaves the position quite equal so maybe white should be looking to play a different variation if they want to get an advantage out of the opening.
In this variation, white defends the e4 pawn with the queen instead of the rook and is looking to play Rd1. Black should be looking for a Marshall Counter-Gambit type attack (more on the main line of this below) by playing 6....b5; 7. Bb3 O-O; 8. c3 d5; 9. exd5 Bg4; 10. dxc6 e4; 11. d4 exf3; 12. gxf3 Bh5; with a weakened king side for white. White is better off playing 9. d3 (see picture below) which leaves the position quite equal so white should be looking to play a different variation if they want to get and advantage from the opening.
6. Re1 - The Main Line
This is white's best move as it gives white the best chance of an advantage from the opening. As mentioned above, the game will normally continue 6. Re1 b5; 7. Bb3 (see picture below).
This position is the main position than can arise from a typical Ruy Lopez Closed Defense. There are two main ways that the game can continue from this point and these are:
7....O-O; which leads to the more dynamic Marshall Counter-Gambit.
7....d6; 8. c3 O-O; which leads to the less dynamic variations such as the Chigorin Variation and the Breyer Variation.
I will begin by looking at the Marshall Counter-Gambit.
The Marshall Counter Gambit is quite famous and is played by quite a few people. The game continues 7....O-O; 8. c3 d5; (see picture below).
8....d6; is playable and this leads to the other variations such as the Chigorin Variation but with moves 7 and 8 played in the other order, see below for more information about those variations.
In this variation black sacrifices a pawn but gets a very good position from the resulting attack which can sometimes be won from if white isn't careful.
The game continues 9. exd5 Nxd5; 10. Nxe5 Nxe5; 11. Rxe5 c6; 12. d4 Bd6; 13. Re1 Qh4; 14. g3 Qh3; (see picture below).
Now the position looks extremely good for black despite being a pawn down. White has a weak king side and black has many good attacking options such as Bg4, Re8 and f5 leading to f4.
This opening is a risk to play as black because a good player as white is believed to be able to hang on to the pawn advantage and make good use of it. If you play this opening as black then you should get some wins as a result of the attack you gain after the pawn sacrifice.
The obvious attack that black should be looking for is to play Bg4, Bf3 and then Qg2++. White needs to stop this by playing Qd3 and then Qf1. White will be looking to attack later on by playing moves such as a4.
The game would normally continue 15. Be3 Bg4; where white plays Be3 to block off the e-file which is quite important after black plays Re8 and black begins the attempt to get a quick checkmate. Now the game would normally continue 16. Qd3 Rae8; White has to play Qd3 otherwise it is too late to avoid the mate after 16....Bf3; 17....Qg2++; and black plays Rae8 to bring another piece into the attack.
There are many possibilities that can be played from this position. One example is 17. Nd2 Re6; 18. a4 f5; 19. Qf1 Qh5; 20. f4 but you will find many others. I personally would recommend that black avoided exchanging off the queens after Qf1 is played. White might like to try and play Bxd5 which leaves black with an isolated pawn and exchange off the pawns after a4 to give black another isolated pawn and white the threat of an attack up the a-file, Ra5 is a move I have used successfully before after these exchanges.
If you don't like the look of playing against the Marshall Counter-Gambit as white then it is possible to avoid. There are two main ways to do this which are:
To play 8. h3 instead of 8. c3. You might find that some players will still play the Marshall Counter-Gambit but they won't be able to get as good an attack as they can no longer play Qh3. White should be able to win now with the pawn advantage.
8. a4, black now has to do something about the threat of 9. axb5 instead of playing 8....d5; so instead needs to play 8....Bb7; black can now no longer bring out the bishop in the normal way of a Marshall Counter-Gambit attack so the Marshall should be avoided.
In the main line of the Ruy Lopez white would normally play c3 but this isn't recommended here because black gets a good position by playing the Marshall Counter-Gambit - 9. c3 d5; 10. exd5 Nxd5; 11. Nxe5 Nxe5; 12. Rxe5 Nf4;
Instead a typical continuation would be 9. d3 which could continue 9....d6; 10. Nc3 Na5; 11. Ba2 b4; 12. Ne2 c5; which is quite an equal position.
7....d6; 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Variations
This is the main other variation to the Marshall Counter-Gambit after 7. Bb3. These variations are less dynamic but are all very playable and some of them I would recommend more than the Marshall Counter-Gambit.
You'll be surprised how many players play 9. d4 instead of 9. h3. This isn't very good for white as it allows black to play 9....Bg4; This causes white many problems such as being unable to move the knight on f3 unless white wastes a move first by playing Qd3. White doesn't really want to let black exchange off the bishop for the knight unless the queen is defending the knight as black gets a good position after Bxf3 gxf3; where black has doubled pawns and a badly weakened defense around the king. Chasing off the bishop by playing h3 and g4 isn't that good either as white weakens the defense around the king and black gets a double threat on the e4 pawn after Bg6.
Some players as black play 9....Re8?; which is completely pointless as white can play 10. Ng5 and black has to move the rook back again.
There are 4 main variations that can be played now, which are the 9....Be6 Variation, Breyer Variation, Smyslov Variation and the Chigorin Variation. These are analysed below.
This isn't as commonly played as the others. The game continues 10. d4 Bxb3; 11. axb3 exd4; 12. cxd4 d5; 13. e5 Ne4; 14. Nc3 f5; 15. exf6 EP Nxf6; (see picture below). I personally don't think this is the best variation as black doesn't get that good a position out of the opening.
Black plays 9....Nb8; This variation is a bit unusual but the idea behind it is satisfactory, black redevelops the queen side knight to d7. The things that this variation allow that others don't are that in other variations the queen side knight can sometimes be quite weak as it can end up doing very little on a square such as a5, b7 or d8 after white plays d5. The queen side bishop can be more effective on b7 in this variation than in others and with the support of the knight on d7, black has a good attacking possibility on the centre now with these two extra pieces supporting the attack.
The game continues 9....Nb8; 10. d4 Nbd7; 11. Nbd2. Black has to be a little bit careful here. If they play 11....Re8?? then white can win the queen which is now blocked in by playing 12. Bxf7+ Kxf7; 13. Ng5+ Kg8; 14. Ne6 or if black plays 12....Kf8; or Kh8; then white can simply take the rook on e8 to go a rook and a pawn for a knight up.
Black should play 11....Bb7; to put a double attack on the e4 pawn, white replies by playing 12. Bc2 to defend the pawn with another piece. White wants to move the knight on d2 soon but needs to defend the e4 pawn with another piece first so Bc2 is needed. Now it is safe for black to play 12....Re8; as the bishop on b3 has moved.
This is the typical position of a Breyer Variation. Black is looking to bring the bishop to g7 after playing Bf8 and g6. Black might also like to play h6. This is a bit awkward for white as white is unable to put any pieces on the 5th rank which is often what white is aiming to do in the Ruy Lopez Closed Defense.
White has two options now which are either attack on the queen side by continuing 13. b4 Bf8; 14. a4 or attack on the king side by playing 13. Nf1 Bf8; 14. Ng3 g6; 15. a4 c5; 16. d5 c4; 17. Bg5 h6; 18. Be3 Nc5; with white attacking on the king side while black is trying to attack on the queen side.
This is probably the most common variation that black will play from a Closed Defense. It is the variation that I play and would recommend most. The variation continues 9....Na5; 10. Bc2 c5; 11. d4 Qc7;
What white is planning to do in this variation is to try and shut out the black knight on a5 and launch a king side attack by bringing out the queen side knight to d2, f1, e3/g3 and then f5. There are many other possible attacking possibilities for white such as bringing the other knight to g5 or to g4 via h2, white might play f4 or Qd3 to try and get a checkmate on the h7 square by playing f4 and then e5. There is also the option of trying to exchange off the knight on f6 by playing Bg5 and then Bxf6. This weakens the defense of the h7 pawn. There is also the option of attacking on the queen side if black gets a strong defense on the king side.
Black's plans are to attack on the queen side while also trying to defend the king side at the same time.
The game continues 12. Nbd2 Nc6; where white is beginning to bring the queen side knight across to help in the king side attack. Now that black has forced the white bishop back to c2 it can then go back to supporting the centre again on c6. The other alternative for black is to play 12....cxd4; leading to 13. cxd4 Nc6; 14. Nb3 a5; 15. Be3 a4; 16. Nbd2 Nb4; 17. Bb1 Bd7; 18. a3 Nc6; This still leaves white with the better centre but black has got a bit of an attack going on the queen side.
One possible continuation from this point is 13. dxc5 dxc5; 14. Nf1 Be6; 15. Ne3 Rad8; 16. Qe2 c4; 17. Nf5 Rfe8; but 13. d5 is the recommended continuation. This threatens the knight so black should play 13....Nd8; which is better than 13....Na5; as white can play 14. b3 to leave the knight in a poor position.
White now has two main options after 13. d5 Nd8; One is to begin a king side attack which black can get quite a strong defense against. There are many ways that white can attack and this is one of them: 14. Nf1 Ne8; 15. Ng3 g6; 16. Bh6 Ng7; 17. Nh2 f6; 18. Ng4 Nf7; but black has a very strong defense which even players better than you will struggle to get through. Other options include moves like g4 and f4 but if black aims for the position from the example above, white is going to find it very difficult to get through the defense. Black even has a few attacking possibilities of their own by playing f5 or by bringing the knights out. I recommend leaving the bishop on c8 for now as this stops the queen coming out to g4 to join the attack.
The other attacking option for white is to start an attack on the queen side. The recommended way of doing this is to play 14. a4 Rb8; 15. b4. Black shouldn't play 14....b4; as 15. Nc4 is good for white here.
The idea behind this variation is similar to the idea behind the Breyer Variation. Black is looking to put pawns on g6 and h6, play Re8 and bring the bishop out to g7 via f8 and also play Bb7 like in the Breyer Variation.
The game would normally continue 10. d4 Re8; 11. Nbd2 Bf8; 12. Nf1 Bb7; 13. Ng3 Na5; 14. Bc2 Nc4; 15. b3 Nb6; 16. a4 c5; and like in the Breyer Variation there is no obvious way for white to try and get a win from this position.
There are a few alternative moves which some people might play which aren't as good as they might look. If white was to play 12. d5 like they might in other variations then black can play 12....Ne7; and then 13....c6; which is quite good for black. If black plays 14....c5; then white can play 15. d5 which shuts out the bishop and knight a bit and leaves them in weak positions where it is difficult for them to get into the game.
These are all of the main variations of the Ruy Lopez. It comes down to personal preference really but as white I would hope for the Closed Defense and accept the Marshall Counter-Gambit if it is offered. As black I would play the Chigorin Variation as it is probably the safest variation for black while the Marshall Counter-Gambit may get you a few wins as black as a result of the opening, it may also get you a few loses as well when black is unable to get the pawn back. You'll just have to try a few different variations and see how you get on with them.
The Berlin Defense and the Chigorin Defense are probably the most commonly played variations.
See the games below for matches involving some of these variations. They might give you ideas on ways of attacking and defending options after the opening. Most of these games are grandmaster games including the Kasparov v Kramnik games from their World Championship match where Kramnik played the Berlin Defense. There are games from grandmasters such as Anand, Leko, Shirov, Spassky and Timman. At the moment there are 118 example games.
Click here to go to a collection of games involving many variations of the Ruy Lopez
This is a collection of checkmate puzzles. There are sets of 12 puzzles for beginners, intermediate and advanced players.
From this page you will find links to my various openings pages. There are pages about the Blackburne Gambit, Budapest Gambit, Hippopotamus Defense, Ruy Lopez, Slav Defense and St George's Defense and a collection of Unusual Openings. In total there are over 700 example games involving these openings.
Chess Opening Statistics
These are statistics compiled from over 2 million games. It shows for each opening and variation what percentage of matches were won by white, black and were drawn. Also included are white's and black's best and worst 10 openings statistically and what are the most and least drawn openings. There are statistics for nearly 300 different openings and variations.
Play Chess online against a computer opponent.
How to Beat Chess Computers
This page gives tips and advice on how to beat Chess Computers. It gives advice on what to do and what not to do against Chess Computers and includes example games that demonstrate a few key points.