The Ruy Lopez Opening: a complete guide of Ruy Lopez Opening

The Ruy-Lopez is one of the most popular chess openings. ”The Spanish Torture” is the nickname of this very famous chess opening. The Ruy-Lopez is one of those chess openings that have been the choice for deep analysis and discussion among chess experts. In this article, we are going to discuss the Ruy-Lopez opening in detail. And we are also going to learn about its main variations and some of its history. No more tantrums. Let us move ahead and learn about the Ruy-Lopez chess opening.


The Ruy-Lopez is among the oldest chess openings. It is very important because it is also named in the list of most famous chess openings ever. The name for this opening, The Ruy-Lopez, goes back to a chess player from the 16th century. He was Ruy Lopez de Segura. Surprisingly, he was a Spanish priest. And he also published a book on chess in 1561. The book was Libro del Ajedrez. The popularity of Ruy-Lopez exists at all levels, from grandmasters to novice chess players as well. Let us proceed further and know about Ruy-Lopez in detail.

 Libro del Ajedrez
Libro del Ajedrez

Why to master the Ruy-Lopez?

The Ruy-Lopez is among the most knowns in the list of chess openings for any chess player belonging to any class. It doesn’t matter if he is a novice or an expert, The Ruy-Lopez is one of the essential chess openings and everyone needs to master its basics very well. The Ruy-Lopez helps the white to capture the center with pawn while rapidly developing the gameplay. There are numerous pros to opting for the Ruy-Lopez opening. A few of them are listed below-

  • Provides rapid development to the white
  • Provides with so many variations to opt for
  • Helps in castling to the saftey

Although, Ruy-Lopez is the best choice to go for. Still, it has some cons like-

  • Black has so many defensive moves against it
  • White has a vulnerable bishop at light square
  • Some of its lines are too much theoritical

Now, let us proceed further and learn the Ruy-Lopez in detail.

The Ruy-Lopez

It is very important for every chess player to learn and master the Ruy-Lopez chess opening. Because of its tactical and strategical gameplay, it becomes very important among all the other chess openings. What makes it special among so many chess openings is the fact that it progresses to both the types, closed and open positions during the gameplay. The basic chess moves defining the Ruy-Lopez are as follows-

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bb5

These simple and very basic moves allow white to capture the center with the pawn. The Nf3 move helps in attacking the black central pawn on e5. The Ruy-Lopez is definitely the opening of choice for white as it helps them in achieving the three basic yet very important objectives. They are as follows-

  • Control of the center
  • Rapid development
  • Preparation of castling to saftey
The Ruy-Lopez
The Ruy-Lopez

There are a lot of variations of this famous chess opening available to opt for both sides. In this article, we are going to discuss three of them. Let us move further and discuss three main variations of the Ruy-Lopez opening in detail.

The Ruy-Lopez Exchange Variation

The Exchange variation arising from the Ruy-Lopez opening is often opted by beginners. This is useful when you want to create doubled pawns against your opponent as quickly as possible. The chess moves leading the progression of the Ruy-Lopez into the Exchange variation are listed below-

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bb5 a6
  4. Bxc6 dxc6

The created doubled pawns could be a weakness or strength. It all depends upon how you use them against your opponent. There are a few key things that are needed to be taken care of by black in this variation. Black should try to trade off the doubled pawns, if possible, and open up positions as much as they can.

Ruy Lopez variation - pawn structure
Ruy Lopez variation – pawn structure

The Closed Ruy-Lopez

It is very much similar to the Exchange variation of the Ruy-Lopez but it differs at the white’s moves. The typical chess moves involved in this variation are as follows-

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nf6
  3. Bb5 a6
  4. Ba4

White has to take care that it does not fall into a common trap after the move Ba4.

The Noah’s Ark Trap

This is the variation of concern for white while playing the Ruy-Lopez. This trap is so powerful that many players while playing Ruy-Lopez with white fall into it and resign quickly. Therefore, white need to be careful while playing the closed Ruy-Lopez variation.


The Spanish opening or the Spanish torture, the common names for the Ruy-Lopez opening cites back to its creditor, the Spanish priest, Mr Ruy Lopez de Segura. The popularity of the Ruy-Lopez chess opening is prevalent at all levels, ranging from the novice to the expert. Because of its rich varieties providing tactical and strategical gameplay, it is even more common among chess grandmasters.

The Ruy-Lopez is one of the most extensively researched and analyzed among all the other chess openings. There are citations present for some of its lines as deep as up to 30 moves. There are so many preachers of the Ruy-Lopez in the current modern-day chess world, who use Ruy-Lopez frequently in their gameplay. Some famous elite modern-day chess players who favour Ruy-Lopez are Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand, and Fabiano Caruana.

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