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dropcut 161 ( +1 | -1 )
Ruy Lopaz and Berlin defense.. I'm an 1800 player. As black, my respons to 1. e4 is 1... e5. If I'm playing 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 I will answer 3. Bc4 with 3... Nc6 where I feel totally comfortable with any mainstream variation being throwed at me. My problem arises when my opponent plays 3. Bb5 going into the Ruy.

I guess everyone recognizes this:


I don't like it. I'm not comfortable in those kinds of positions. I just feel it is a static closed game and I get incredibly bored just looking at it. I don't have any plans, I can't create art in this climate :). I got the same feeling when I used to play 1. d4 as white and ended up in similar positions (King's Indian):


After realizing this, maybe instead of biting in the sour grape, I decided to create my opening repertoire where I set out to find lines that offered more sharp dynamic play. Not sharp static (like when e,d pawns are gone for both players and the rest of pawns are at the original position). So, the only "odd" line I found in Ruy Lopez that somewhat offered more was the Berliner defense.

I have played it for a while, but I have realized I can't create anything there either. It feels like I'm just waiting for my opponent to make that !? move and then I exploit that. So, can anyone understand what I search for and maybe provide me some material to work with? I'm dead tired of feeling emptyness everytime I see 3. Bb5 played.
ionadowman 68 ( +1 | -1 )
I can understand your feelings dropcut... I don't much like facing the Ruy Lopez myself. My usual responses have varied among opponents. I do like the Marshall Counterattack, and have played the Schliemann on several occasions. I don't especially mind if my opponent plays the Exchange Variation neither. But I also retained a fondness for the Siesta Variation (Modern Steinitz Defence), a line that, I gather, is unfortunately lying under a very dark cloud these days.
Like you, though, the only reason really for playing 2...Nc6 or 1...e5 for that matter was to play that prince of all openings, the Two Knights' Defence.
I'll be very interested to see what people have to say about the Berlin Defence...
Cheers,
Ion
tim_b 43 ( +1 | -1 )
Not a book player, me.... because I like the adventure that chess can offer, and my heart sinks too when an opponent plays 3. Bb5, it seems very prescribed, in fact, I intend to play Philidors defence more often just to pre-empt it!

Strange thing is, although I have only faced the Roy Lopez four times according to my personal database (useful thing), I've won all 4. So, prospective Roy Lopz opponents, you kindly leave off with 3. Bb5! ;)
ganstaman 72 ( +1 | -1 )
I can't really play the Ruy Lopez well, so don't trust anything I'm about to say. Really, after rattling off 20 moves of theory, I'm left trying to defend a position I can't imagine other players calling "equal."

So you want active piece play. Sounds like you should get your pieces out :)
I know of 2 ways to do this: the Open Ruy Lopez if you really enjoy the stabbing pain of a sharp line (at least I get lost just trying to follow a game in this variation), or some mix of the Arkhangelsk and Moller variation (basically playing Bb7 and Bc5. While this 2nd suggestion remains a closed game with white occupying the center, you will have active bishops on the queenside aimed at the kingside.
jsemmens 24 ( +1 | -1 )
About openings I don't like using the Queen's countergambit, but it certainly produces alot of complicated and interesting lines, and might surprise a few good players.
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3...

and then black plays 2...d5, opening up a whole can of worms, I suggest you try it in a few blitz games and see how you like it.
ionadowman 136 ( +1 | -1 )
Berlin Defence: Let's start with this (and hope we get some comments on this line). An opening book I have has this line:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 (this is the move that identifies the Berlin; 4...d6 transposes into something like the Steinitz) 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7... In his book "Chess with the Masters" Martin Beheim commented thus: "This seems really somewhat lamentable; the Knight has moved four times already, only to end up on this dreary spot."
This from a game Porges vs Em. Lasker played in 1896. It would appear that theory hasn't advanced very much. By the way, the comment and the game continued:
"Lasker often plays like this, and it is amazing how he suddenly obtains the better position after all."
9.b3? (c4 seems to be the move, tho' Beheim suggests 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Nd4 as more active...)
9...0-0 10.Bb2 d5
11.exd6ep cxd6 12.Nbd2 Re8 13.Rfe1 Bd7 14.Ne4? (leaving the Queen on the same file as the Black rook looks risky...)
14...d5 15.Ned2 Ba3 16.Be5 f6 17.Qa6 fxe5 18.Qxa3 (Look at that Black pawn phalanx!)
18...e4 19.Nd4 Qf6 20.c3 Rf8 21.f3 Qg5
22.Qc1 Nc5 (With a snort, the sleeping giant awakes...)
23.Nf1 Qg6 24.Re3 Nd3 (This knight has on his 7 league boots...)
25.Qd1 Nf4 (... and his flashing blade: backing up the threatened mate, but also threatening ...Nh3ch followed by ...Nf2ch picking up the Queen.
26.Ng3 h5 27.Nde2 Nxg2 28.Kxg2 exf3ch
29.Rxf3 Bh3ch 30.Kxh3 Qg4ch 31.Kg2 Qxf3ch
32.Kg1 h4 33.Nh1 Qe3ch 0-1 (34.Kg2 h3#)

Cheers,
Ion

karoyl 61 ( +1 | -1 )
Flohr-Zaitsev (Fianchetto) Variation My suggest for playing the Black side of the Ruy is to go for the Flohr-Zaitsev Variation of the Closed lines. This is characterized by a Black fianchetto of the light-square bishop at b7. I actually have a lot of trouble playing against this variation as White, and Black often gets a very sound position. NCO gives equality for Black in pretty much all main lines of this line. The Berlin Defense has a reputation for solidity, but, in my experience, it generally kills the game early on, and gives Black few winning chances. This is a line used at GM level mostly to secure draws by stodgy defense.
kerksal 21 ( +1 | -1 )
If you want a 'sharp dynamic' game, it sounds like you want a Sicilian. If you don't want to learn all the long lines of theory in it, then maybe play a less-known variation, like the Kan (like I do).
dropcut 33 ( +1 | -1 )
I'm generally against the sicilian out of the same reasons that I'm against Ruy, it's just too much theory. If I can reach equality early on, taking my opponent out of the opening book, I like my chances a lot more.

I've started dumping the Berlin defense and am going for the classical line now, playing the not-so-known cordel gambit if there's a chance.
jstack 18 ( +1 | -1 )
Marshall gambit anyone? I'm surprised nobody mentioned the marshall gambit.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 with attacking chances for black. Its still played on top levels so it can't be all that bad.
ccmcacollister 108 ( +1 | -1 )
I would have mentioned ... pretty much what ionadowman already has: Marshall Gambit, Siesta, or Schliemann
(aka Janisch). Something uncommon is Bird's Defense to the Ruy with 3....Nd4, on which few people would be booked. But I don't know as it does much towards a more open position.
It's just going to be hard to "open up" a Ruy. If it could be done easily the WT side would hardly even be Sound! As wt gives up much time moving his bishop around in order to arrive at the game he wants to play. You could become a specialist in the "old"
Marshall Gambit with Nf6 return rather than the ...c6 move after Rxe5. It is seldom played nowadays. So while you would need to "Book", your opponent would probably be in worst shape as for familiarity. Just a thought.
Personally I like the Schliemann. Don't think I have the needed feel to play a Siesta. It just does not "feel" right or natural to me. But I cannot claim to know it very well. Capablanca and Marshall played to a draw in it tho, at one time.
ionadowman 96 ( +1 | -1 )
Siesta Varaiation... Here's an example played in the 5-way tournament for the World Championship. The Hague, 1948
White: Max Euwe; Black: Paul Keres
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a3 4.Ba4 d6 5.c3 f5 The move characteristic of the Siesta. I'm not sure why the line has this somnolent appellation, considering what can happen. It seems that Capablanca was its originator (or populariser).
6.exf5 ... Ordinarily, one would be reluctant to help Black's development in this way (see the latest Novice Nook thread, #53 I think).
6...Bxf5 7.d4 (the alternative is 7.0-0)
7...e4 8.Ng5 d5 9.f3 e3! 10.f4 Bd6
11.Qf3? ... 11.Qh5ch g6 12.Qf3 is a big improvement for White.
11... Qf6 12.Qxe3ch Ne7 13.Bxc6ch? (13.0-0) bxc6
14.0-0 0-0 15.Nd2 Ng6 16.g3 Rae8
17.Qf2 Bd3 It's already looking pretty dire for White!
18.Re1 Rxe1ch 19.Qxe1 Bxf4! 20.gxf4 Nxf4
21.Ndf3 Ne2ch 22.Kg2 h6 23.Qd2 Qf5
24.Qe3 hxg5 25.Bd2 Once his rook moves White's development will be complete ...
25... Be4 Curtains: White is about to drop a piece (26.Rf1 g4 27.Qxe2?? gxf3ch). 0-1
Although a one-time World Champion himself, Euwe's handling of the opening was far from ideal, but one has to remember that the line was undergoing considerable development at the time...
Cheers,
Ion