Do you find yourselves asking how chess grandmasters like Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov start games with this much sureness and authority?’ To begin with, one of the approaches they favour when starting games is Ruy Lopez; this is an old and very strong chess opening that has been there for ages. This means that whether we are talking about someone who is still learning how to play chess or an experienced chess player that wants to understand more about this game, learning Ruy Lopez could help you gain a competitive advantage over others.


The Spanish Opening, or The Ruy Lopez Opening, has been among the earliest and highly esteemed chess move theories. It was given its name by Ruy López de Segura, Spanish priest who analysed it in the16th century and has been a favourite for top gamesters for many generations. It starts with the following moves:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bb5

By moving the bishop to b5, White puts immediate pressure on Black’s knight at c6, indirectly challenging Black’s control of the centre. This seemingly simple move opens up a world of strategic possibilities.


It is the combination point between aggressive attacks and flexible positions. It lets you do two things at once: fight for the centre of the board (like taking the best space on the playground) and get your pieces out quickly to be ready for anything. This opening is strong and doesn’t force you into one specific way to play too early. That means you can change your mind and surprise your opponent depending on what they do!


  1. Control of the Center:
    • Well, the Ruy Lopez is a good tactic to control sections of the chessboard economically, for instance between d4 and e4 central squares mainly staying for white chess players. This approach helps in facilitating movement options for the horses and other chessmen since controlling the centre plays a critical role in playing chess.
  2. Piece Activity:
    • The Ruy Lopez aims to develop pieces to active squares quickly. For White, typical plans include castling kingside, placing rooks on central files, and using the queen chess piece and knights to exert pressure.
  3. Pawns Structure:
    • The pawn structure in the Ruy Lopez is crucial. For instance, in the Exchange Variation, the doubled pawns on Black’s c-file can become a long-term weakness that White can target.
  4. Flexibility:
    • One of the great strengths of the Ruy Lopez is its flexibility. It allows White to adapt their strategy based on how Black responds. This adaptability makes it a favourite at all levels of play.


The Ruy Lopez is rich with variations, each offering different strategic themes and challenges. Here are some of the most important ones:

  1. The Morphy Defense (3…a6):
    • This opening is the best known movement of 3.Bb5 named after a distinguished legend of chess from America, Paul Morphy. Playing 3…a6 makes Black quickly challenge the location of White’s bishop hence he gets to make a choice. Moreover the bishop may move back alongside a4 or swap roles with Black’s knight at c6.
  2. The Closed Ruy Lopez:
    • After 3…a6, if White retreats the bishop to a4 and Black responds with 4…Nf6 and 5…Be7, we enter the Closed Ruy Lopez. This variation is highly strategic, focusing on piece manoeuvring and long-term plans rather than immediate tactical skirmishes.
  3. The Open Ruy Lopez (5…Nxe4):
    • Here, Black opts for an immediate tactical confrontation by capturing the e4 pawn. This leads to open lines and sharp play, with both sides needing to be cautious of tactical tricks.
  4. The Exchange Variation (4. Bxc6):
    • In this variation, White exchanges the bishop for Black’s knight on c6, doubling Black’s pawns. The resulting pawn structure gives White a long-term strategic advantage but requires precise play to exploit.


  1. Learn the Main Lines:
    • Familiarise yourself with the key variations and typical plans for both sides. Knowing the main lines will help you navigate the opening confidently and avoid common pitfalls.
  2. Focus on Development:
    • Rapid development of your pieces is critical. Ensure your knights and bishops are active and your king is safely castled.
  3. Understand the Strategic Goals:
    • The Ruy Lopez is as much about strategy as it is about tactics. Understand the long-term goals such as controlling the centre, creating pawn breaks, and piece coordination.
  4. Practice Patience:
    • The Ruy Lopez often leads to slower, more strategic games. Be patient and avoid rushing into tactical skirmishes unless you’re sure they work in your favour.
  5. Study Grandmaster Games:
    • Watch how top players handle Ruy Lopez. Analysing grandmaster games can provide insights into advanced strategies and nuances of the opening.


Did you know that Ruy Lopez has even made its way into pop culture? In the popular TV series “The Queen’s Gambit,” the protagonist, Beth Harmon, faces Ruy Lopez in several critical games. Her calm and strategic approach to the opening reflects the depth and complexity that makes the Ruy Lopez so fascinating. So, next time you play, channel your inner Beth Harmon and approach Ruy Lopez with confidence and poise.


To master the Ruy Lopez is a long and satisfying trek which can greatly improve your chess playing skills. Its rich history, strategic depth and flexibility have made it a favourite for all categories of players throughout time. There are many ways in which one can learn the key lines, concepts that govern them and other important hints that will help you get hold of this potent opening and attach it as another significant weapon for your starting library.

So, whether you’re aiming to improve your ranking or simply enjoy the strategic beauty of chess, give Ruy Lopez a try.Happy playing, and may your Ruy Lopez games be filled with brilliant moves and strategic triumphs!