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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ruy Lopez : Exchange Variation.

Pin It The opening moves 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 were first mentioned by Juan Ramirez de Lucena in 1497, but it was Ruy de Segura Lopez who carried out the first through analyses in 1561, and the name of the opening used these days in the West comes from his last name. But, in the meanwhile time the nae 'Spanish Game' also appeared.

The Ruy Lopez has always been very popular. There are many long studies of this opening, and the positions that arise are often very complicated. Others are thoroughly analysed through to the endgame - the Exchange variation belongs to this type of system.

All players do not desire to navigate through such a thicket of variations, plans and ideas. To avoid this jungle of variation the choice of the Exchange Variation came on the stage. During the 4 th game of match between Von Minckwitz and von Schmidt (Leipzing 1866) this variation was played and then played occasionally by Louis Paulsen, Mikhail Chigorin, Symon Vinawer. However, it only really became popular at the end of the 19th century, when Emanuel Lasker started to use it.

In this variation exchanges his light squared bishop for Black's knight, resulting in doubled pawns on the c-file.
Black has two possibilities, to recapture the bishop with the b or d-pawn. One of the basic strategic principles is to capture with pawns towards the centre. However, in this instance we have an exception proving the rule. Positions after 4 .... b x c6 are similar to Steinitz Defence except with an extra tempofor White. Even if Black does not lose a tempo, he has serious problems with maintaining the balance. Having an extra move, White can easily develop an initiative and achieve an advantages.
So 4. .... d x c6 is necessary, after which a characteristic position arises. White's main strategic idea is based on reducing material and transposing into an advantageous ending. The ideal scenario is the exchange of all the pieces resulting in a characteristic Exchange Lopez pawn structure.

For example, after d2-d4 and the exchange of White d-pawn for Black's c-pawn, the pawn structure guarantees White an easy victory as White can obtain a passed pawn on the kingside whereas Black cannot do the same on the queenside.

White decides on playing d4, a queen exc hange is recommended for black, otherwise he often has serious troubles. However, he must be very careful over the further reduction of material. One of the most important tasks for Black is maintaining the bishop pair and opening the position so that the bishops will have as good propects a s possible. Active possiblilites fro Black include trying to attack the e4-pawn. Moreover, , he should attempt to take advantage of the extra pawn on the queen side. Although this taks is more complicated than White's, he can nevertheless gain extra space here and sometimes create weaknesses in White's camp.

These ideas were already realised a long time ago, and although the opening theory has developed considerably since that time, we can still learn much from old masters.