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Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black 
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King
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Post Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
Hi all,

I am trying to develop a 1.e4 e5 repertoire for black because i am getting a bit bored of the Scandinavian (and some variations are no fun for black as i mentioned in the "Scandanavian" [sic] thread).

So before getting too deep into this i wanted to settle on a backbone, a response to the Ruy Lopez. Feels like shopping for a new car. I narrowed down some options:

1. Open Lopez. (Open Lopez by Flear)
Image
+ Tarrasch proclaimed it as best; Korchnoi swore by it
+ Occurs on move 5...Nxe4
- Seems to have problems in critical lines
- Not played by many GMs nowadays

2. Marshall Attack. (new book Fighting the RL)
Image
+ Played by top super GMs, no shortage of great games
+ Learning "theory" is instructive in learning general attacking chess
- But, tempting to memorize too much theory and play like a robot
- Occurs at move 8, so there are some anti-Marshalls to bother with

3. Bird defense (chapter in Dangerous Weapons: 1.e4 e5)
Image
+ Occurs on move 3; no Anti-Bird and no exchange variation
+ Positions are interesting and unorthodox
- Black must play precise moves, less margin for error else black gets killed
- Hardly any theory but i think this means it's a one-track opening, not very rich

4. Modern Steinitz
Image
+ Alekhine trusted this in the 1930s and developed a lot of the theory.
+ Many ways to play, many plans available, tactically and strategically rich
+ Occurs on move 4.
- No good repertoire book/resource on this that i know of.
- White can close down the position more easily in this than the other 3. (i much prefer wide open active games)

I'm just thinking out loud-- i don't have a real focused question here. I already ruled out the Schliemann. Perhaps i need to look into the Moeller/Archangelsk setups... Any input?

EDIT:
5. Berlin Defense (Berlin Wall by John Cox - new book!!)
Image
+ Tarrasch believed in this, 2nd only to the Open Lopez.
+ A great opportunity to work on endgames and round out my game.
- Does not play to my strengths, but this helps me work on my weak spots.
- Possibly boring if you are in a fighting mood or need to be somewhere that evening.

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Last edited by katar on Tue Aug 11, 2009 3:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:32 am
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
Interesting summation. No Zaitsev, no Berlin- I'm curious why. Zaitsev has a strong pedigree, many games/plans. The Berlin is interesting and surprisingly strategically rich- someone posted that they thought it was a bad choice for low rated players- personally, I disagree but I'm just a class B players so what do I know? Dennis seems to believe in it- his enthusiasm got me to try it. I'm curious why you discarded the Schliemann. Of the choices you offer, I like the Bird- the fact that there is little theory means that there is undoubtedly more to discover. The fact that it happens so early gives you a chance to be a big expert in the line as you can focus on fewer white alternatives- I'm pretty sure he line has not been refuted. Good luck in any line you choose- they all look like viable choices so I doubt you can make a "wrong" decision :)

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Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:57 am
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
Hi Katar,

My experience playing 1. e4 e5 in CC games was that most of the time I saw 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 rather than 3. Bb5 -- so you've got to prep against the Italian and all of the other fun things White can do on moves 2 and 3. Lots of work -- but probably worth it once you get the hang of it (not that I claim to have done so myself...).

As for the Spanish, I deliberately chose the Berlin Defense just because it looked like the best of the third move deviations for Black. It tends to be drawish at the highest levels, but most of the draws come at White's expense rather than Blacks (i.e., White's winning percentage is less than the typical 54%). I never once got to the famous Berlin Wall position though. More often it would end up looking a lot like an Exchange variation with a caveman attack from White down the e-file. Here's a typical game against a guy who claimed to be rated >2000 USCF. I won the game due to obvious blunders not the opening or any brilliant play on my part; but it's the sort of game I saw over and over (and ultimately got bored of...). He was one of those guys who plays 100 games at once, so I doubt I had his full attention if he really is an OTB expert:



Maybe you see better opening prep at the class A/expert level where you play. Down in class-B and below, no one seems to know enough theory to get to the end of the Spanish (or any other) main line so opening prep past move 5-6 (except for personal understanding of the opening and enrichment) doesn't seem to be all that useful. You could spend a lot of time studying the Zaitsev (or Breyer or...) and seldom see it in a game.

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Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:07 pm
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
Replying in the classical spirit is a huge subject. I would advise you to be sensible in your choices, because if you are too ambitous in your choices you may just get frustrated. White has many roads to choose from, make sure your preperation is not wasted on lines you will hardly or even never get to play - a very easy trap to fall into.

Good luck.


Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:35 pm
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
I have a book called "spanish gambits". It has a lot of different options for both sides, including a lot on the marshall attack. It also features a lot of off-beat lines.


Sat Jun 27, 2009 1:45 pm
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
kamus wrote:
Interesting summation. No Zaitsev, no Berlin- I'm curious why.

Not a summation of all worthy responses by any means, but merely a subjective list of candidates. Zaitsev and Berlin are "slower" ways to approach the position, and i prefer something "fast". So i ruled out the CLosed Chigorin lines as well. Schliemann is just too loosening, white has some simple lines where black seems to be playing for a draw and nothing more. I mentioned Moeller/Archangel b/c they are somewhat "faster" ways to play as black.

Right now i am leaning toward the Marshall Attk book. Feels quite intuitive to me and, above all, it looks the most FUN (which is the only reason to play the game in the first place right?)

About the time investment-- i believe that studying attacking setups / piece sacrifices / dynamic compensation / bishop pair / minority attk in the Marshall is no different than studying those same themes in a middle game book. To limit the lesson's application to the particular opening is to give it short shrift. Except for some "alien" openings like Sveshnikov where some of the moves are (to me anyway) completely counterintuitive and impossible to find OTB.

Non Ruy Lopez tries do not scare me at all, b/c i have tried most of them as white, and i remember why i ditched them. I think non-RL lines are about as dangerous as the Anti-Sicilians.

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Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:36 pm
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
I recommend the Open Lopez. It is a nice tactical response to the mostly positional Ruy Lopez. Maybe it is having some problems in the main lines, but that is nothing to be scared of if you are under 2200. Also you can easily avoid the main lines, as there are multiple good moves for black in every position. I have played it against the Ruy Lopez whenever I didn't feel like playing a Caro-Kann and I have excellent results with it (a 75% win rate).

By the way, if you think about playing the Bird's Defense you should take a look at this game:
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1251936

I think it's the worst opening there is against the Ruy Lopez.

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Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:13 am
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
Hi Katar,

I agree with bartcaissa about Bird's Defense. I tried it in a CC game against a weaker player after reading the chapter in Dangerous Weapons and got killed. I'll try and find the game and post it later.

BTW, there's a great series of videos waiting to be made in that comment you made about the Non Ruy Lopez tries for White. I'd love to watch it myself! I might even go back to 1... e5 :D

L8erz...
=wild=

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Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:02 am
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
Here's the promised Bird's Defense game. I think in the end I muffed the defense, but it seemed like I was always in the hole and never could quite get on an even footing:


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Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:59 am
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
I play the Bird's Defense and have scored pretty well against higher rated players (class A-B) as the pawn structures and general ideas seem to be foreign to my opponents, and I have prepared lines against them, so I always feel i'm in the drivers seat. There are critical lines, especially in the Ba4 ideas by White but Black has counter-play if you know where to search for it. If you are going to play Bird's Defense the only line you need fear is Ba4 and that's where the fun is because there is lots of room for development of theory! I haven't met anyone over the board yet (when I do get to play the defense) whom attacks it correctly.

Btw Wildman...

Usually Nf6 is recommended over Ne7 in Ba4 lines, where the Knight hops to Ng4(after White's f4, Black's f5) and the queen swings to Qh4 pretty early after White takes on c3 Bxc3 Nc3 0-0 maybe.... Ne2 Bb6 etc... also black usually doesn't take on c3 first


Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:04 am
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
dicod3r wrote:
If you are going to play Bird's Defense the only line you need fear is Ba4


I'm sorry but I have to disagree with this. Kasparov played the Bc4 line and scored 3/3 with it. Also, take a look at this position:

Image

This is the main line of the 6.Bc4 variation. I don't know about you, but I think this is definitely better for White and I would fear this line as Black. Fritz 11 agrees with me and gives it a +1.10 advantage for White (I know that that's not so important, just wanted to mention what the computer thinks of it).

But 6.Ba4 is a strong line too and scores a little better, but according to my database the average rating of 6.Bc4 players is more than a 100 points higher than the rating of 6.Ba4 players. That shows that stronger players think that Bc4 is stronger and thus you should fear the 6.Bc4 line.

I stick to my point: The Bird's Defense is a very weak opening and with good play probably already winning for White. There are probably people who will disagree with me on that, and I would like to know what you see in the Bird's Defense. Please show me a line that is good for Black - because I don't know any :D

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Tue Jun 30, 2009 5:44 am
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
That's not the main line of the Bc4 variation, here is the main-line preferred for Black after White's 6 Bc4 with ideas of c6, Ne7 and eventually d5 with play on the c-file

Image

Your position is akin to an inferior move order that is not recommended for Black...

1. e4 e5 2.Nf6 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4 Nxd4 exd4 5 0-0 c6 6 Bc4 d5 7 exd5 cxd5 8 Re1+

Instead Black improves as early as his fifth move with 5..Bc5 6 d3 c6 7 Bc4 d5 which is fine for Black. If White goes Bb5+ after exd5 cxd5, Kf8!? (maybe this position doesn't suit you, but does not mean its bad) has a good reputation locking White's Bishop out of play, keeping White cramped as in the following.

Image

Plans follow easy as Black will utilize the c-file for counter-play and f-file as well, I've been in this position against many stronger players and I've done quite well.

PS
I think you need to fear every line when playing Kasparov, so that doesn't make the defense useless because he's 3-3 against it, he could use any dubious opening and go perfect against us mere mortals


Tue Jun 30, 2009 1:29 pm
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
[Event "Calcutta"]
[Site "Calcutta"]
[Date "1986.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "0-1"]

Anand falls to the Bird...




Tue Jun 30, 2009 3:41 pm
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
My $.02:

Of course I think very well of the Berlin, as was mentioned earlier in the thread. It places a premium on understanding, and can be played against anyone, whether they're bookish or not, positional or tactical (assuming that distinction really makes sense). Even top players use it as a weapon (not: drawing weapon) - Aronian recently said that he uses it when he wants to play for a win (the Marshall is his drawing line). A caveat - also mentioned above - many players will avoid the Wall. Frankly, that's good news for Black, as almost all the sidelines give him full and easy equality. There are some sharp variations you need to have down cold though.

As for the Schliemann, I have a lot of experience with that variation. If you're playing someone U2000 or lazy wrt theory, you can play it as a legitimate winning option. Over 2000, however, it's at best a drawing weapon - and not an overly pleasant one at that if they're up on 4.Nc3 or 4.d3 theory. (Exception: you can play 4...Nf6 against either of those moves. It's "dodgy", as the Brits like to say, but at least it's not dull.)

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Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:44 pm
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Post Re: Ruy Lopez repertoire for Black
As someone who hopes to go into an exchange variation as white (which does have a drawish reputation but I feel has interesting end game play) I feel least comfortable playing against a Berlin. It does tend to come up more often at my level in internet play though, I hardly ever get it OTB.


Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:12 am
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