Ruy Lopez – Archangel (Arkhangelsk) Variation ⎸Chess Openings

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Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) – Archangel Variation – The most aggressive way to face the Spanish torture
For the theory in the Ruy Lopez watch this video on the basics:
Learn the Breyer Variation – a positional approach by black:

The Archangel (or Arkhangelsk) defense is a great response to the Ruy Lopez. It’s one of the best ways for black to fight for an advantage early on, without leaving white with a free hand in the center.

The variation starts after:
1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bb5 a6
4.Ba4 Nf6
5.0-0 b5 – instead of playing 5…Be7, black is immediately advancing on the queenside
6.Bb3 Bb7 – developing the bishop on the long a8-h1 diagonal

It’s obvious that black decided to compromise king safety in exchange for the initiative, and he got increased central control and piece activity, especially when compared to some lines of the Closed Ruy Lopez. The Archangel is a very fighting defense and one of the best tries for black in the Spanish Game.
The opening was very popular in the 90-es and all the greatest names, such as Kasparov, Shirov, Kramnik and Topalov played it with great success. Its fate was sealed (and that of many other lines in the Ruy Lopez) when Kramnik introduced the Berlin Defense as an excellent weapon against the Spanish in his World Championship match against Kasparov in 2000.
The Berlin is a great opening, but it’s far less active than the Archangel. Perhaps playing the Berlin is beneficial on 2700 level, but for all other rating ranges the Archangel gives much more winning chances and attacking prospects for black.
Play the Archangel if you want to go for the win. Even against stronger opponents. It will often be a surprise weapon, because people seem to have forgotten it exists. The Arkhangelsk Defense was never refuted, it’s just considered that playing Closed lines or the Berlin is safer for black.

To learn the Archangel study the games of Alexey Shirov and Garry Kasparov.


  1. My favorite Spanish variation for black. This channel is so legit.

  2. Engine now says that on move 9 Nd5 is the best plan

  3. thanks for going into detail. I'm learning a lot.

  4. Very clear description of the moves and the potential of each. Thanks, I will be trying this in the future.

  5. Great youtube chess channel, thanks for your work. Please make a page on patreon.

  6. 6:30 The comment here is a bit of a shock to me, given the history of the variation. Older books used to spend the most coverage on 7.Re1 and 7.c3 (arguably the most direct attempt to refute the variation). The variations with 7.d3 parallel the Anti-Marshall. Some variations even directly transpose: 7.d3 Be7 8.a4 0-0 9.Re1 is a common transposition to the 8.a4 Anti-Marshall. A few older sources even omit 7.d3 Be7, claiming it is a transposition to another opening! Mikhalchisin's ChessBase DVDs are the most recent sources for Black that I recall other than encyclopedias references and survey articles. 7.c3 and 7.Re1 leads to some wild tactics, but seems like Black has held his own in the complications leading White to choose the more positional options with 7.d3. Seeing this video feels like watching a video on the Marshall, but only seeing Anti-Marshalls even if it reflects current practice. Without historical context, one could face many unpleasant surprises! (I know it's a long time ago, but even Khalifman recommended the sharp 7.c3 at the dawn of the 21st century. :P)

  7. Great video. You are the best site on youtube I've found for going deep into opening theory.
    Request — could you please do one on the Modern Archangel?

  8. At the end of the …Bc5 line, can't white just trade rooks and then win a central pawn?

  9. why wouldn't black take on e4 after white castles?

  10. 1:07 you can reach similar positons aganist Italian game I play aganist computer computer reach like this positon
    I get better (White have edge) positon at 19… with White pieces aganist stockfish (full power)
    d3 c3 Italian White knight at d2
    12:18 or play on Queenside maybe

  11. Love the video ! Absolutely gonna subscribe !

  12. helo i suggest adding to your vidios also games of each variation so we could learn ideas and plans for midgame

  13. Sorry if my question has an obvious answer that I’m missing but at 3:10, when there is a threat of discovered check by white knight to e5, why wouldn’t black go Kxe5 instead of Be7? If rook captured on e5 couldn’t black do e7 then, in response to the check?

  14. Thank you sir,it is a super video,sir in this archangel line c3 line is also there the video is became so nice sir

  15. Instead of 7. Re1 or 7. d3. How should black react to 7. Ng5 targetting f7

  16. Great video; but, why not consider 7. C3

    C3 is common with other closed variations

  17. Will you be covering the Neo-Arkhangelsk?

  18. this must be super helpful when people actually play the moves you show :/ God I wish I was higher rated so I could use all this

  19. really good video…thanks for your time and your passion…

  20. Also to consider for white on his 7th move is 7.c3 planning to expand next move with d4 and opening wide the center with black's king still in the center and white's king safely castled.

  21. This variation is legendary. I play it alot and win 60% of my games

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