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

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📥 Find the Ruy Lopez chess opening variations in 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.

► 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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#IgorNation #RuyLopez #ChessOpenings


  1. 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.

  2. "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)

  3. (E4,E5)(Nf3,Nc6)(Bb5,Nd4) variation pls explain this one

  4. I stopped playing for a while, and was really struggling. This opening brought me back to a higher level.

  5. Wow! You have a wonderful way of simplifying. You're a superb teacher.

  6. its too much…. u keep adding a but after every move

  7. This video is a great explanation of the opening and what it achieves, sadly my 800 rated opponents do not develop and the game turns out a mess ;(

  8. Question: If black does not answer your move white pawn e4 with black pawn e5, but moves for example black pawn to c5, it is not possible any more to play the complete Ruy Lopez opening, right? Is it called in this case also spanish opening because white started with the move white pawn to e4 or is it called only spanish opening if black answers with black pawn e5……? Thank you

  9. Thanks #Igor Smirnov, you are helping me understand chess more in depth and I have been winning many more games than I ever have. I'm learning openings more clearly than before and have been using the skills you've taught me to help build better openings and pawn structures

  10. When you said bishop is stronger than the knight i'm disappointed.

  11. what if he plays d5 now what i am fcked🥺

  12. It's a bit misleading to make beginners believe the Ruy Lopez is appropriate for all levels. It's just not.
    Unless you know most of the variations you have no controls over what black will do by the bishop hit B5. It's simply unsuitable until you punch above 500 at the very least.

    I'm not saying it's a bad opening. Just that for low and even mid level chess players there are a lot of more suitable openings that won't risk you falling in your own traps because you loose control of the board.

  13. Thank you for the video and explanation behind the moves.

  14. So once white play 8.c3 why cant black just go Bg4 directly and delay castling wouldn't that create the annoying pin and forces white create weakness by pushing pawns

  15. How many opening to know if someone want to be a professional chess player🙏

  16. Why should black castle instead of playing Bg4 right away? Even if white plays d4 trying to open the centre and punish the uncastled king, it is black with the advantage with the pin right?

    EDIT: Engine analysis shows (at least my interpretation (I am a beginner)) that the bishop pin works better when d4 has already been played. Engine plays d3 after h3 and enters the Pianissimo?? if you play Bg4 instead of castle. So basically you castle as black hoping white plays d4 without playing h3 first or something like that?

  17. Is there any point in A4 with the rook?

  18. and NOW! they can either play f4 or ANOTHER! move in this case they move the BISHOP! to the edge of the BOARD! and ask their opponent what are they going to DO! about it.

  19. It's 2 am and I swear that knock at the door gave me a mini heart attack….

  20. Lol the random edit for the lightsquare bishop

  21. Hey Igor, I have a question. I am looking a lot of your videos, the Problem is, that I can't remember all the moves of all your Videos in games and I think its not the main idea to remember all the moves. I have a rating of 1300 and can't get higher for a year.

    Do you have an idea what I could concentrade on to get better?

  22. wow, I always just trade the pawn. I learned something.

  23. What about the bird and gunderham variations. I can’t figure out how to deal with them

  24. 6:50 isn't there just Qe2 it blocks the check defends the Knight and pins oppents queen so it can't leave the e file

  25. you kick butt! awesome enthusiasm! I'm an agamator fan as well.

  26. Oh my. You are the one I've been looking for. Incredible insight here, thank you so much.

  27. I have a quick question. What's the purpose of rerouting the b knight to g3? Is it just to bring it into the kingside attack or are there more uses?

  28. An excellent introduction to the Spanish opening, thank you!

  29. Bro didn’t say hikaru 🤦🏽‍♂️

  30. I have a question sir are you a russian? Cause your accent is kinda russian

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