Chess Openings: Ruy Lopez | Ideas, Theory, and Attacking Plans

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📥 Download the PGN of the Ruy Lopez chess opening from this blog-post –

🔹 5 Best Chess Opening Traps in the Ruy Lopez –

In this video lesson, GM Igor Smirnov teaches you the Ruy Lopez chess opening (also known as the Spanish Game or the Spanish Opening), its opening theory, general ideas, attacking plans, and more. It starts with the opening moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5.

It is one of the most popular chess openings and has been played by all the top players including Magnus Carlsen, Garry Kasparov, Vishy Anand, Bobby Fischer, etc. It is a classical and powerful chess opening that serves well from beginners to advanced level players. It is evergreen and has never been refuted.

However, a lot of beginner and intermediate level players are intimidated by the seemingly complex nature of this opening. That’s why GM Smirnov breaks it down and explains the opening in the simplest way possible, so that you can understand the main concept of the opening instead of just memorizing the moves without understanding the logic behind it.

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► Chapters

00:00 Ruy Lopez Chess Opening Theory
00:44 Basic ideas in Ruy Lopez for White
02:45 Why centralize pieces, control the center?
06:02 Morphy Defense: 3…a6
07:45 Key idea: Typical pawn structure
10:52 2 prophylactic moves: c3 & h3
12:50 Black’s mainline: Chigorin variation
14:30 Understand the logic, don’t just memorize
14:47 Transitioning to the attack!
17:35 Most common questions from students
19:04 Marshall Attack by Black
20:37 Stats: Black’s more wins in Marshall Attack
21:36 Berlin Defense: 3…Nf6
23:05 Does GM Smirnov recommend Berlin Defense?

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239 Comments

  1. Excellent tutorial!!! You get a gold star for this lesson !!😊

  2. great video but isn't there a follow up to the mid and end game or is it just over this way… cuz i think it's too simple to be true

  3. I like ur toutoria than others so clear

  4. as a professional 500 elo player, thanks

  5. 3:52 – actually stood up to check my front door, not realising the knock was in the video 🤣

  6. I’m sorry GothamChess. I have to learn it. FOR THE GREATER GOOD!!! (I really LOVE this opening, and it holds a neat and dear place in my heart for chess.)

  7. cOrporate accounts payable, Nina speaking… jUst a moment

  8. this is too complex for me to handle…probably the reason why i lose to all 1700s playing ruy lopez against me

  9. Thank you as a new chess player this helps out immensely!

  10. I stayed away from the rug Lopez cuz Gotham tells us not to but now that I learnt this I improved my rating from 900 to 1200

  11. I really like how you explain some of the moves, like why the pawn isn't really hanging, shows how experienced you are at coaching, best chess YouTube channel ❤

  12. great video, thanks for taking the time to enlighten us normal people 🙂

  13. Ruy lopez is annoying I watch this vid to know to counter it

  14. Really excellent descriptions and explanations for this opening

  15. Igor your videos really are immensely helpful to me they really are so thank you dude

  16. It never fails.. I spend my time here deep thinking theory until I'm ready to play online again then of course, I get black. Or worse,I get white but my opponent is playing some h6 opening that I've never seen.

  17. The sleeping cat at the table behind him is so adorable.

  18. i dont play chess. i play the Ruy lopez, Indian and Scandinavian

  19. I play this or I play a Giuoco piano opening. My go to as white, never loses against the casual player.

  20. thank you very much that you did this video it really helped me win more games with white at tournaments.

  21. Actually what I usually do is play e4,e5,nf3,nc6,bb5,a6,bxnc6,dxc6,nxe5,qd4,nc4,qxe4+,ne3 block taking control of d5 Square and f5 as well

  22. thanks for the video but very bad editing

  23. The Ruy, The Najdorf, the Kings Indian…tools of the Legends

  24. You are the best. One question: is you cat ok?

  25. Started learning this opening solely because it follows every principle of chess; it sticks to playing… well, chess. No fancy theory, super deep lines, a lot of it is general opening principles and choosing your moments to take, or to back off, etc. While it may not be as adventurous as other lines, it's definitely interesting.

  26. Your videos are very helpful, well explained, and as you say, give a clear understanding beyond simply memorising, that is useful for play generally. I'm from Wales and i wonder if you might cover the Evans Gambit (Evans was a Welsh sea captain and inventor)

  27. GM Igor – Thank you very much for explaining this opening in detail. Love your knowledge, experience and remarkable enthusiasm! 🙂

    I have several concerns about playing the Ruy Lopez…

    1. Why advance the King Bishop if you don't intend to capture the Knight on C6? This "pas de deux" seems indecisive and inefficient. In addition, if Black even casually advances pawns on files A and B, your Bishop is continually forced to "run and hide", defeating any opening plan you may have "entertained" in the first place. The lone Bishop becomes a liability and isn't really much of a coordinated threat.
    2. White's Queen-side pieces remain undeveloped for quite a while. Lost opportunity?
    3. Moving the Queen Knight (3 moves) to occupy g3 on the King-side is clumsy(?) and time consuming. Again, lost opportunites?

    4. The opening seems indecisive…

    For these reasons, I'm skeptical… 🙂

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Best,
    -Dan

  28. "The Ruy Lopez is the Queen of all the openings" (Capablanca)

    "You will not be a good chess player unless you master and fully understand the Ruy Lopez" (Kasparov)

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