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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening (Read 4068 times)
Matemax
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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #10 - 06/02/08 at 11:44:17
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SWJediknight wrote on 06/02/08 at 11:29:41:
It's ironic in many ways that a double-edged attacking line like the Marshall is often seen and used as a drawing weapon these days.  It's probably more a reflection of the depth to which theory has spiralled on the variation, rather than the merits of the variation itself.

I remember that back in the early 1990s the Marshall was considered by many GMs to be quite unsound, but not any more.

That said, I've always had the impression that it was the "Berlin Wall" endgame, used so effectively in the Kasparov-Kramnik match, that caused most Ruy Lopez players to groan the most.

Chess theory is dynamic - thank god, otherwise the game would really be boring. New players, new ideas, more technique, better programs - I think at the moment more lines than ever are considered playable, cause the comps showed us how defendable worse positions are.

The Marshall is one of the memorizing tactical systems nowadays - therefore strong players use it with black to dig a "draw tunnel". On lower (lets say under 2.000) level I think it is still a dangerous attacking variation (many white players have no idea of the hidden tactics  Wink).

The Berlin Wall is strategical complex and therefore a very good answer to the Ruy for strong players. On the other side white players prefering to hold the position instead of playing actively may gain an easy draw.

I play the Ruy with white and black - I sometimes try the Berlin but never played the Marshall (recently had some ICC experiments with the sister variation "Gajewski" due to T. Kosten marvellous analysis) with black, cause I cant remember all the lines for 25 moves or more. With white I play the Anti-Marshall h3, d3 and a3 against weaker opponents (trying to win strategical) and the main line with d4 and Re4 against stronger opponents (they have to show me for what they have sacced a pawn).
  
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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #9 - 06/02/08 at 11:29:41
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It's ironic in many ways that a double-edged attacking line like the Marshall is often seen and used as a drawing weapon these days.  It's probably more a reflection of the depth to which theory has spiralled on the variation, rather than the merits of the variation itself.

I remember that back in the early 1990s the Marshall was considered by many GMs to be quite unsound (e.g. BCO2 gave White a big plus in the critical line), but not any more.

That said, I've always had the impression that it was the "Berlin Wall" endgame, used so effectively in the Kasparov-Kramnik match, that caused most Ruy Lopez players to groan the most.
  
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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #8 - 06/02/08 at 08:55:11
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Warning: This post is rather long (4500 words, in fact), so if you have no real interest in the Marshall Gambit or Anti-Marshall, then you will probably find the rest of this post a bit tedious.

The history of the 3...a6 Ruy Lopez, but focusing mainly on how the currently fashionable Anti-Marshall became the new main line:

Before the Anti-Marshall Variation, there was the Marshall Gambit. Originally this gambit was used by America to attempt to regain the chess crown after it was 'pinched' by Steinitz and then Lasker.

A team of American chess nerds, led by the swashbuckling tactician Frank Marshall, started looking at this move 8...d5. At first the chess players were skeptical, laughing at the audacity of Frank's typically crazy idea.

However, to their dismay, the other Americans were beaten game after game by Mr. Marshall in the US Championships, or whatever the chess tournament was called then. So the other strong American chess players asked Marshall how to successfully play this system.

He educated them, and they all pillaged points in the overseas chess tournaments, thus increasing their ranking in the tournament standings. This continued until a positional Cuban by the name of Jose drubbed Frank in the Marshall in front of the American crowds in 1918, which looked like a fatal blow to the Marshall Gambit.

However, Marshall was not one to give up on his idea, and his invention of 11...c6! in the Marshall revitalised interest in the variation. However, this time the chess pros were not so trusting in his analyses and continued playing their Chigorin Variation. The debate had ended, or so it seemed.

In the late 1960's, the Russians decided that in order to retain the world chess crown, they would need to defeat the Chigorin Variation in combat against the non-Russian chess players.

Therefore, all of the Russian GMs cunningly plotted new, complicated strategic plans that their opponents could not understand. Spassky in particular used a few of these plans to defeat Petrosian for the world title and a nice cheque.

Then Fischer 'stole' the chess crown from Spassky, ignoring the Russian's concepts in spite of being an avid reader of the magazine '64', and instead blowing away the Soviet opposition with the incredibly boring Exchange Spanish. But once Fischer retired, the Exchange Ruy was not so successful.

Karpov used even more complicated plans in defeating the Chigorin Variation in the 1970's, and even his fellow Russians could not cope with his flawless positional play. They could not even have much respite in the endgame, since he was too strong in this area of the game as well. No wonder Fischer retired...

Ruy Lopez fans were being crushed in the Chigorin Variation, to the extent that even Karpov switched to other lines. However, Kasparov then jumped on the bandwagon and used extremely complicated opening preparation to defeat Karpov, in spite of all the controversy of their matches.

So in the late 80's and 90's, the Marshall Gambit was used as a drawing weapon, and guess what: The White players were getting mostly draws, with only some wins. The problem became even worse when in the very start of this millenium, the Marshall was looking at least as solid as the Petroff.

The New In Chess staff were fully aware of this, and even used the Marshall Gambit to increase sales of the Yearbook. The title succintly summarised the current status of the Marshall Gambit: "Ponomariov against the Marshall Attack; Sometimes you win, sometimes you draw".

The immense popularity of the Yearbook amongst top players caused them to wonder why they were putting up with the Marshall. They didn't want to give up on their Lopez, but this Marshall Gambit was, to put it mildly, a pain in the neck.

So a top chess player from India by the name of Anand popularised new "Anti-Marshalls" such as 8.h3, 8.a4 and 8.d3. All the top GMs jumped on the bandwagon, and the Marshall was no longer granting Black full equality; they had to settle for a slight disadvantage. Even Kasparov took up this line with success - a very good sign of a successful opening variation.

Nowadays the Anti-Marshall variation is like a pendulum; the evaluation swings from += to = back to += every few months. However, the current state of theory is that Black is close to full equality against each Anti-Marshall.

That concludes my essay on the history of how the Anti-Marshall Variation went from being unknown to becoming the main line of 1.e4 e5 nowadays. Some top players have diverged with other lines such as the Petroff, Berlin and Breyer, but the Anti-Marshall remains the 'modern' Ruy Lopez of today.
  

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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #7 - 06/01/08 at 11:45:56
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Awesome Mr Wisnewski, thanks so much for pointing to that direction
  
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IM Christoph Wisnewski
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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #6 - 05/31/08 at 17:42:55
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In 1813 Jacob Henry Sarratt published a book in english language titled "The Works of Damiano, Ruy Lopez and Salvio", in which he translated the works of the authors mentioned in the title.

I might also add that it is freely downloadable under

http://books.google.de/books?id=CbzvoZz3Jl4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22the+works...

As a personal note: books.google.de is a treasure chest if you are looking for pre 20th-century chess literature; you'll find many books there.
  

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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #5 - 05/31/08 at 14:50:50
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It would be interesting to know which lines Ruy Lopez scrutinized in his book. How much did he know about it? I would not surprised if he considered 3 ... Bc5 and 3 ... Nf6 and maybe 3 ... d6 as these seems to be the most natural moves. By the way is there someone here who's read Lopez book? Is it in print? I've read Reuben Fine was not impressed by it, so we have to assume that Fine owned a copy of it.
This book must be of great chess historian value.

  
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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #4 - 05/30/08 at 23:45:49
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Ah markovich!

You might have added the results were so impressive,
that another torture instrument was named after it:
"The spanish boot".
The more booked-up amongst us, might find an application of
this instrument in Hugo's "The hunchback of the Notre Dame".

Rumour has it there also existed a cruder variation: "the scottish boot" though this was considered less effective. Wink
  
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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #3 - 05/30/08 at 18:16:58
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It is an instrument of torture first applied during the Reconquista, the reconquest of Spain from the Moors.  Moorish captives were forced to take the black pieces (whence the expression, "black Moors" or "blackamoors") and then subjected to unspeakable positional torments. These included the gradual prying open of the blackamoor's kingside pawn carapace, often alternated with a vicious poking and proding of queenside soft spots. 

Later of course, this diabolical device was employed by the Inquisition, and its use rarely failed to result in recantation.
  

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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #2 - 05/29/08 at 23:03:45
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The opening is named after a 16th-century Spanish priest, Roderigo (Ruy) Lopez de Segura, who analyzed it in his book, Libro del Ajedrez.  As a result, some call it the Spanish Opening or Spanish Game, while others call it the Ruy Lopez.    
  
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Re: History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
Reply #1 - 05/29/08 at 21:00:01
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Quote:
How did 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 become known as the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening?



It is eponymic.
  

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History of the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening
05/29/08 at 19:50:49
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How did 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 become known as the Ruy Lopez and Spanish Opening?
  
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