Ruy Lopez – Ideas, Principles and Common Variations ⎸Chess Openings

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Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game) is the most valuable weapon for 1. e4 players. It follows the basic opening principles and teaches you how to control the center, develop pieces and react to your opponent’s threats properly.

In this video I will be covering the main variations of the Ruy Lopez, explaining the basic principles and ideas behind each one, but each individual variation will be covered in much more detail in a separate video. Mastering the Ruy Lopez is something every string chess player has to tackle at some point and there hasn’t been a single world champion or a super grandmaster who doesn’t have it as a major weapon in their opening repertoire.

The Ruy Lopez starts after the moves:
1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6

From this position black is able to choose from two main moves, 3…a6 or 3…Nf6, each leading to completely different positions. After 3…Nf6 the positions enters the Berlin Defense:
1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bb5 Nf6, and the most common continuation ends in the so called “Berlin Endgame” after the moves:
4.0-0 Nxe4
5.d4 Nd6
6.Bxc6 dxc6
7.dxe5 Nf5
8.Qxd8+ Kxd8, a position in black has forfeited castling rights and accepted doubled c pawns in exchange for the bishop pair.

After 3.Bb5, the most common way for black to play is with 3…a6, immediately challenging the bishop and forcing it to either capture the c6 knight or to retreat. If white responds with
4.Bxc6, then after 4…dxc6 the position has entered the Exchange Ruy Lopez. Similarly to the Berlin, white is arguing that he has a better pawn structure and that any piece trades favor him.

After 3…a3, taking the knight is not as common, though, and by far the most common reply is 4.Ba4, retreating the bishop, but keeping the pressure on the knight, and from here the Ruy Lopez branches out.

The most common continuation after:
4. Ba4 is Nf6, challenging the center and attacking e4, and white continues with
5. O-O Be7
6. Re1 b5 – after Re1 this is now the Closed Ruy Lopez, the starting position of most variations played at top level, and play almost always continues with
7. Bb3 O-O
8. c3 d6 (after 8.c3, black is also able to strike in the center with d5, instead of playing the more passive and solid d6, and the variation is called the Marshall Attack)
9. h3, after which this is the starting position for 90% of high level games, and the first point at which players actually start thinking. Black is the one who gets to choose which variation to go for from here on. The most common continuations are:
9…Bb8 (The Breyer variation)
9…Na5 (The Chigorin variation)

The Ruy Lopez (also called the Spanish Game or the Spanish torture) is one of the oldest chess openings. It was named after Ruy López de Segura, a Spanish priest and chess player who lived in the 16th century. The first mention of the opening was found in Libro del Ajedrez (the book of chess) from 1561, and it has been analyzed and improved upon ever since then.


  1. Liked you clear explanation on a very popular positional opening which follows classical Chess opening principles. It has retained its premier position for centuries. Hats off to Ruy Lopez de Segura.

  2. I have been looking for this kind of content for very long time, and finally I get it now, that too in a beautiful Russian like accent.

  3. Your videos are the most informative as far as theory goes. I watch plenty of other videos but it seems like i only learn my lines from yours. Thanks

  4. Your courses are wonderful, but I'd like to know what is the best way to get a familiarity with an opening – for each variation there's an intricate series of moves, what is the best way to get those memorised?

  5. Are there any books you would recommend to learn openings and especially the Spanish Game?

  6. With Nb8 you called that the what variation of the closed RL?

  7. Great video and very nicely explained. If I may……please speak a little slowly so people like me can follow each move. 🙂 But thanks for this, and other videos.

  8. Thanks, I’m a new player and learning a lot.

    Edit: but why not knight to E7 to protect? It advances minor pieces and keeps the pawn structure even.

  9. As a person who wants to learn chess, which of your videos do you recommend I should watch first?

  10. A Really great video. I've been trying soooo many different opening throughout my 1st few months playing online chess. Not a great idea. I'm trying to figure out 1 with white and 1 with black that allows for what I've been told are the 3 keys to beginners climbing the rating ladder- (1. Control Center 2. Development of pieces 3. King safety ), and this one was recommended to me today . Ruy Lopez folds those 3 concepts nicely into a neat package.
    In my experience, as extremely limited as it is, I have seen all sorts of responses to an opening theory that I put down. I cant say what my opponents' might do, but even if it's not the same as in the videos, I trust this one will be a great way to start really focusing on those 3 principles.

  11. Great introduction for me to learn more about improving my chess openings and foundation for understanding concepts and principles. Thank you for the video!

  12. After knight takes the pawn on E5, and the queen attacks, why can’t king move to f1 to avoid the attack?

  13. I don't understand, why did you move the white pawn to C3?

  14. Just starting to get back into playing after a few years, and these videos have been invaluable. Keep up the great work!

  15. NG ????????? How dare you speak to a white man like that.

  16. Give you idiots an inch and you take a mile. No wonder we keep you down where you belong.

  17. Great video but we need to be selective on the NG’s. Go home.

  18. is it not a waste of time for white to move his Nb1 all the way to g3 post and the only thing it achieve is move it to position. those 3 moves of the knight would give black ample time to prepare a defense and counter attack. ?

  19. Thanks a lot… Can't express my joy to find this channel…

  20. I just stumbled upon this
    I’m so happy I did

  21. When white castled at 4:39 why didn’t Black Knight on f6 just take White Pawn on e4 ?!

  22. Thank you for an excellent tutorial on my favorite opening! Great stuff!

  23. Who else is watching this to learn the Ruy Lopez?

  24. Why dxc6 and not bxc6 in the exchange isnt that better cause black isnt removing his middle pawn?

  25. I just bought your Ruy Lopez t-shirt to support your channel. Thanks for all the good work, keep it up!

  26. Hello Stjepan loved you video on Ruy Lopez opening.

  27. Fantastic video! Thank you very much!

  28. In the closed Ruy Lopez, why do u need to move pawn to h3 instead of continuing with another move?

  29. What do I do if knight takes E4 after castle instead of bishop to E7? He's just getting a free pawn as far as I can see

  30. can some one explain me how to play this at IM level ?

  31. I turned on the bell notification. Missing your videos would be a blunder. 🙂

  32. Its free and it helps alot … thank you

  33. this is like 1600 elo +… i love learning it but my opponent always takes the pawn on e4 after i castle, then i move rook to e8, my opponents never really play bishop e3. i'm elo 1400. i think i'm winning 55% of when i play run lopez

  34. Clear explanation, great video, one of the best out there. Thank you

  35. Hello, i just discover your chanel,i search and watched a lot lot of content on so much chanels but dear and i must say you are a absolute marvel! Your explanations are so clear! Just what i needed! God bless you! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

  36. this series of ruy lopez is really helpful. i dont know how to thank you man!…..ill like all your videos

  37. 2:41 what if he played black pawn to b5 won’t the bishop be in trouble ?

  38. usually, instead of playing bishop to e7, they take the weak pawn on e4, anyone.. suggestions?

  39. Great video, learnt a lot in just the first 10 minutes about why I struggled with the ruy lopez

  40. Your videos are genuinely good, clear and straight to the point. Thanks a lot for this amazing channel

  41. I have watched a lot of videos on openings. But they tend to say a lot of things, and I get confused midway. But you explained this Ruy Lopez opening so well.
    Thank you so much..

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