Ruy Lopez

  • Last updated on 8/31/14, 1:55 AM.

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Opening: Ruy Lopez (Spanish)
ECO: C60
ECO Variations: C60 - C99
Type: King's Pawn Game
PGN: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5
FEN:  r1bqkbnr/pppp1ppp/2n5/1B2p3/4P3/5N2/PPPP1PPP/RNBQK2R b KQkq - 3 3

The Ruy Lopez (also known as the Spanish Opening) is a chess opening beginning with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5. While this opening was first noted in the Gottingen Manuscript around 1490, it is named after Ruy López de Segura, a 16th century Spanish priest who published a book on chess in 1561. His book, Libro del Ajedrez, included analysis of the opening which would later bear his name.

The first ever recorded modern chess game with Ruy Lopez opening was in 1803 between Hermann Victor Hesse and an unknown player ended 1-0. Several notable games include:

  1. Lasker vs Capablanca, 1914 (1-0)
  2. Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918 (1-0)
  3. Tal vs Hjartarson, 1987 (1-0)
  4. Kasparov vs Karpov, 1990 (1-0)
  5. Shiven vs Pruijssers, 2011 (1/2 - 1/2)

The Ruy Lopez is regarded as one of white's best attempts to achieve an advantage in double king-pawn openings and is popular with both beginners and experienced players. It is commonly seen in games played at the grandmaster level.

The key is to put pressure on the e5 pawn quickly. However, after 3...a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nxe5 white gets into trouble with 5...Qd4! 

This is why White's 5th move in this, The Exchange Variation, is usually 0-0 or sometimes d4. The great thing about the Ruy Lopez is that Black doesn't have to play 3. ... a6 and White doesn't have to exchange if he does! The Lopez is a complex maze of opening possibilities and deeply analyzed variations that you could play your whole life and never get to the bottom of.  

The standard, accepted main line of the Ruy Lopez is: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 0-0 9. h3 and here, where Black picks his strategy to counter the impending d4 push by White in the center, the further course of the game is determined.

Ruy Lopez is regarded as the most frequent opening by the Chessmaster Grandmaster Edition database. The 18 steps of Ruy Lopez is 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Be6 10. d4 Bxb3 11. axb3 exd4 12. cxd4 d5 13. e5 Ne4 14. Nc3 f5 15. exf6 Nxf6 16. Bg5 b4 17. Na4 Ne4 18 Bxe7 Nxe7 which can be shown below.


Note that after 4. Ba4 Nf6, the variation is called Morphy Defence (C77), after 5. O-O Be7, the variation is called Closed System (C84) and after 9. h3 Be6 the variation is called Kholmov Variation (C92).Enjoy!


  • 9 years ago · Quote · #21


    Thx for you Akuni..u make it better and easier for me

    but guys i guess the Giuoco Piano more effective than Ruy Lopez! what do think?! i really wanna hear from u

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #22


    wow i use this opening a lot! i didnt think it could be exploited so easily!
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #23


    is it true that "Ruy" is actually pronounced as "Ree"?
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #24


  • 9 years ago · Quote · #25


    theres a lot to now about chess... i was using that oppening all the time.

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #26


    the bishop was supposed to restrict the knight not capture it and after a6 Ba6 is not a bad option 
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #27


    by murshid - 57 days ago
    is it true that "Ruy" is actually pronounced as "Ree"?

    In Spanish, no. It's pronounced Ruy, not that different from English actually.

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #28


    but is that the black defence  become weak b'cause of capture the bishop?
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #29


    nice article. the exchange-variation shown here shows very well why white isn't actually threatening to win the pawn - but nevertheless it's good to put some pressure on blacks knight, so you have the option to take it.


    I'd like to see a discription of the more common 3... a6 4. Ba4 4... Nf6 too

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #30


    I think Bxc6 is quite a bit hard to play for white! Bxa4 is much more playable and after ... b5 just Bb3 and the game is much more playable!
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #31


    i prefer the giouco piano but ocassionally use the ruy lopez...
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #32


    giouco piano............giouco piano..............giauso does it work.

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #33


    Good comments.  Has anyone studied the Max Lange attack off the Giuoco Piano?  As an old timer, I'd be interested in the modern interpretation?
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #34


    Giuoco Piano (C53) recreated below from


    Edited to add that the site allows you to explore the opening and check out famous games that used this opening.
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #35


    so in the Ruy Lopez black is in positional gain?


  • 9 years ago · Quote · #36


    white always has the advantage..

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #37


    i like the evans gambit better (1. e4 e5  2. Nf3 Nc6  3. Bc4 Bc5  4. b4 Bxb4  5. c3 Ba5  6. d4)
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #38


    their is alot of staergy involved in th lopez played well u have agood chance of queening e and f pawns i have moved on to equally interesting opening the piazzini e4e5,nf3nc6,c3
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #39


    the fried liver attack is my is very very crippled......however i use scotch also.....
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #40


    Is this the whole series that is considered the Spanish Opening? "1. e4 e5; 2. Nf3 Nc6; Bb5... "  Or, is there more to the named opening itself?  The variations from there are valuable but this seems to be where white still has the advantage.  After the series shown by Eugen it seems that black has the opportunity to reek havok with the queen  before white can bother developing anything.
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