Openings for Tactical Players: Ruy Lopez, Schliemann (Jaenisch) Gambit

Openings for Tactical Players: Ruy Lopez, Schliemann (Jaenisch) Gambit‎

GM Gserper
12 | Tactics

The Ruy Lopez is one of the most popular positional openings.  In fact, Capablanca recommended to play the Ruy Lopez in order to improve your positional play. So, what should a tactical player do in order to avoid the notorious " Spanish Torture"?  One way to solve the problem is to play the Schliemann Defense (also known in Europe as the Jaenisch Gambit). After the initial moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5!? (the Schliemann Defense) White has a number of moves.

4.d3 is the oldest response. Then the game resembles the King's Gambit declined with reversed colors.  Black gets good practical chances here, as the next beautiful game demonstrates.



These days White most frequently plays 4.Nc3, which leads to very sharp play.  The old main line (4...fxe4 5. Nxe4 d5) is not very popular today since one wrong move spells quick disaster for Black.  See what happened in the following game:
Instead, Black should try to finish his development as quickly as possible and only then start the tactical complications, as in the next game:
Now let's imagine that you are playing White.  You opened the game with the Ruy Lopez, hoping to get a long lasting initiative and suddenly your opponent lashes out his by employing the Schliemann Gambit.  You hate to defend since you are a sharp attacking player yourself. What should you do?  One possible option is a very sharp move 4. d4!? After 4... fxe4 5. Nxe5 Nxe5 6. dxe5 c6! White cannot move his bishop on b5, because then Black plays Qa5 check followed by Qxe5 and d5 netting an extra pawn, a very strong center and an essentially winning position. Instead White should continue 7. Nc3! cxb5 8. Nxe4  As a compensation for the sacrificed bishop White gets a dominant position in the center. Additionally, Black has troubles finishing his development.  The official theory is still unsure if the sacrifice is absolutely sound, but in a practical game it is much easier to play with White.  The next game is a good example:
Since it is quite obvious that it is impossible to provide a complete analysis of such a sharp variation as the Schliemann Defense in just one short article, that wasn't my goal. I just wanted to give you some general ideas about the key lines of this gambit variation as well as to show some typical tactical ideas.  If you like any of those lines, you should do your due diligence before employing them in your own games. The Schliemann Defense is a very exciting way to steer the game into tactical jungles and I hope you'll like it.
Good luck!
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