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 · #41



     The sequence illustrated by Eugene that leads to trouble for white begins with the mistake 5. Nxe5, a greedy move that is seen in many beginner/amateur games when this opening is used.  The standard Ruy Lopez (C60) ends with 3. Bb5 as there are many variations that can be played from that point forward (C60-C99).

    Check out for a very comprehensive overview of the Spanish opening and its variations.

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #42


    very good to know thanks for the advice
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #43


     RUY LOPEZ leds to marshal attack!!!!!
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #44


    This is a pretty good defense against Ruy Lopez
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #45


    Ruy Lopez? All this time I thought I was playing the jammer jam-up!!!
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #46


    prash -

     in move 17 Kh1, why isn't the response Qg2?  It seems to me, that is checkmate. 

  • 9 years ago · Quote · #47


    Cocsp2002 -- because until the knight moves down to cover g2, Qg2 exposes the queen.  King can capture the unprotected queen. It is only after black takes the knight with the f2 pawn that the queen is covered by the bishop to mate.
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #48


    ah, I see now.  thanks for the explanation
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #49


    White got greedy w/o protecting B.
  • 9 years ago · Quote · #50


    White retreated too far and lost the initiative.


  • 9 years ago · Quote · #51


    thanks for posting.
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #52


      I think g3 on move 14 is better, h3  invites black to take and expose white's king.



  • 8 years ago · Quote · #53


    Now I know about Ruy Lopez. I heard his name but I didn't know him personally. He!He!He! And I know that move but I didn't know (again) that it named to him. Thanks for the information, it really helps a lot
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #54


    Ruy Lopez is also known as the spanish!
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #55


    this is good to know. I have used this opening up to the point of Bb5 but have not gone to the extent of bxc6; I typically back the bishop off (Ba4) rather than go for the exchange early on in the game
  • 8 years ago · Quote · #56


    Thank you all for the explanation...Laughing."

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #57


      After white's premature Nxe5 move, black has the initiative via Qg5...

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #58


    the ruy lopez was such a nice move!!!☻Cool

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #59


    After reading all what you said definetly I stayed with the inicial explanation! Is the best attack for black after white mistake!

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #60


    liked it!

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