The Amateur Eye — Ruy Lopez Kicks Butt

Lately the Ruy Lopez has been under a cloud where many have turned to the Giuoco Piano to test the black waters.  The following game from the US Championship played between GM Yaroslav Zgerebukh and GM Fabiano Caruana features a many time defensive pattern called the Breyer variation.  In either case, the oft played Berlin Defense put on the shelf gives the reader the joy of this titanic struggle.  In the end, the spirit of the Ruy Lopez reemerges to show it’s fangs are not pulled.

l. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5  a6  4. Ba4  Nf6  5. O-O  Be7  6. Re1 b5  7. Bb3  d6  8. c3  O-O  9. h3  Nb8  This, the Breyer variation has a long rich history in the Ruy Lopez book.

10. d4  Nbd7  11. Nbd2  Bb7  12. Bc2  Re8  13. Nf1  Bf8 14. Ng3  g6  15. a4!  c5

The general opening strategies are now complete which often finds much duplication in carrying out the general plan for both sides.  For white the plan he chooses is to close the center by d5 and hindering the mobility of the b7 bishop.  He will play dynamic moves to create pawn structure weaknesses on the king-side.  Black has a more difficult task of being patient and for the time being try to blunt any infiltration, especially on the king-side.

16. d5  c4  17. Bg5!  h6  18. Be3  Nc5?!  Although likely a normal play, I doubt if it is in the style of Caruana where he tries too hard to be original.

19. Qd2  h5  20. Bg5  Bg7?!  Although natural enough to add some defense for the wing dark squares, much better was 20. …Be7.  If then, white tries 21. Ref1  Nh7  22. B:e7 Q:e7.

21. Rf1!  Interesting would be 21. Nh4! Qc7  22. Bh6  Bh8  23. f4 with heavy pressure on the king-side.  Probably individual style determines a lot of how strategy is weighed.

21. … Qc7  22. Bh6  Bh8  Persistence doesn’t always payoff in defining a mission. Black in such a position should not initiate an exchange.  Let the opponent do it.  So, a fair try is 22…Qe7 23. B:g7  K:g7 where there is always that famous word ‘hope’!

23. Ng5  Nh7  24. N:h7  K:h7  25. Be3  Qe7 26. f4!  Typically a star square count sortie!

26. … e:f4  27. B:f4  Kg8  28. Rf3  Bg7  29. Raf1  Nd7  30. Bh6 White’s square count has zoomed while Black has been stifled.

30. … B:h6  31. Q:h6  Qf8  32. Qd2  Ne5  33. Rf6  Rad8 34. Qg5 Qg7  35. Bd1!  Finding the most active diagonal for the Bishop.

35. … Bc8  36. Qh4  Kf8  37. Qf4  Qg8  38. Kh1  Re7  39. B:h5 b:a4 40. Bd1  Qg7 41. B:a4  Qh7 42. Qg5 a5  43. Kg1  Qh8 44. R1f4  Qg7  45. Rh4  Nd3  46. Rh6  Ne5  47. Rf4  Bd7  48. Qh4  Kg8  49. Q:e7 Re8  50. Qg5  B:a4  51. Rf6  Black  resigns.

A well deserved finish where multi-ideas were feasible along the way.



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