Spanish Opening? No Hablo?
I decided recently to change up my opening repetoire (slightly). As white I've been exclusively playing 1. Nf3 and using a King's Indian Attack setup. I decide to start opening with 1. e4 and playing the Ruy Lopez (the Spanish Opening) when black responds with 1. ... e5. To other responses, I can just slide back into the KIA.
So, the first slow game I play where things line up for the Ruy Lopez happened in the Team4545 League tournament today. And black chose to go into the Open variation (of which I know practically nothing; I didn't even realize that that was what it was called!). I had watched Dan Heisman's video on the Closed Ruy Lopez opening tabiya (see a list of all of Dan's videos here --- many of these are available only to ICC members. Sorry). The one thing that I remembered from the video about the Open variation was Dan saying that if black plays 5. .... Nxe4 that the best play for white was 6. d4
This gave me some comfort that I was on the right trail in the game. As it turns out, my opponent made a very poor choice on move 6 which I didn't capitalize on. But I probably would have if I had already watched Dan's video on the Open Ruy Lopez!
I spent some time in somewhat unfamiliar territory (like, when you play the KIA you don't get both of your bishops lined up together like you can in the Ruy Lopez). If you look at the game below, you'll probably see that I was searching for a plan, and held a small advantage which I wasn't capitalizing on until black blundered and gave me the exchange on a silver platter. After that, the position nearly played itself.
While I'm happy with a win, I've still got lots of work to do. But it was a learning experience and I have to say it was fun to be playing a game which is positionally rather different than what I have usually encountered.
And it is amazing to me that chess players (and now computers) have been analyzing the Ruy Lopez for centuries, but it still maintains a freshness about it.
Here's to learning new things. And may the odds be ever in your favor!