Ruy Lopez, Closed System - KNOWLEDGE

Jan 25, 2012, 8:55 AM |

When I play the Ruy Lopez, i play it differently for both sides, for I do not want to memorize line after line after line and then try to adopt a single system. For White I usually try to get that "ideal" set up with e4, Nf3, Bc2, d4, c3, Nd2, Re1 and so on... because I can easily understand those ideas in such a position, where you clamp down on the center with literally everything. Then, for black I try a simple approach. Equalize the game early by inviting white into the space in the center... I like the d6 lines without Bd7 because the doubled c pawns dont bother me as much. I also like the simple a6 lines, but Im never really sure which is better for my style of play. I just played a game against a 1660 opponent and I was white in this closed Ruy Lopez game. The first 13 moves are standard if not "out of order" but on black's 14th move I was put in a pickle (in my own mind) because it was a terrible move. Let me show you .







I was thrown off by this move because I suspected that I had missed something. I was focused on the queenside pawn struggle and with the knight on a5 I wasn't exactly sure how to go a bout developing the queenside. I know a2-a4 is the counter against b5 at some point, but the knight on a5 was threatening to get into b3 and if I were to play b2-b3 this knight on d7 could perhaps swing to c5 and eye be x2 as well as the d3 and e4 squares. However insignificant that is with respect to the position I still felt that Nf6-d7 deserved some attention. My biggest question up until 14... Nd7 was where to develop my d2 knight. That standard Nb1-d2-f1-g3/e3 manuever is always delightful to complete, but after Nd7 I somehow instinctively felt that it was no longe necessary. From f1 the knight can (in this game especially) move to e3/g3 to support f5 square (i.e. Ng1-f3-xd4-f5) but from d2 it can move straightaway to f3 to support the center quicker, also that c4 square looks delicious for the knight if black were to play the a5 knight away and push b5-b4. Unlikely, yes, but the Nf6-d7 move somehow froze my d2 knight. I decided to keep it in place and see how black handles the next moves. I thought for sure that black would continue with Nd7 to elsewhere since the d6 pawn is now blocked from the protection of the black queen. Then the unthinkable happens... I play 15. Nf5 and then 15... Nf6 again! Now I knew that black was totally fried. Usual 14th moves in the position call for Rf8-e8 to access the e-file, and g6 or h6 to prevent white pieces from entering into the kingside. Neither were played and instead Nf6-d7-f6 was a complete waste of time. I checked the databases and the move is never played, and for good reason. Black can simple not afford to try and force anything on the queenside, which is what I surmised from the knight moving away from the kingside. I later got in b2-b3 with Bc1-a3 to attack d6 after I exchanged the e7 Bishop, which was trapped consequently because Nd7-f6, Qd8, Rf8 and d6 blocked any escape. :) I enjoy the Ruy Lopez especially as white, and I've got to say that each time I play the Ruy Lopez I find new ideas and learn more about chess. If I am white I will recognize now that Re8, g6 and h6 are necessary in this position, and for black I will note that Nf6-d7 is probably a bad move in the early stages, especially because I insist on the d6 defensive lines. I also try the same setup for most king pawn games as black, thus...

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Be7 (I love the Hungarian defense) then d6 soon after

1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nc3 d6

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6

It's a solid defense, but black has problems to overcome... notably the d6 pawn is half-advanced and the knights become particularly important for these games. Their positions are critical and d7 is certainly a rotten square for any knight in these systems, I think anyway because what Nf6-d7 accomplishes is very little

a. Knight on d7 eyes f8, f6, e5, c5, b6, b8

b. Knight on d7 blocks the d file and may block the c8 bishop as well.

c. knight on d7 (especially Nf6-d7) vacates the kingside by retreat only, which means that it cannot stay on d7 for very long, which is why in this game Nf6-d7-f6 was a total waste of time.


THOUGHTS? This is my 'unenlightened' knowledge of the Lopez systems and I hope I was informative but I also hope to learn something from you readers. THANKS