Lesson 1) Ruy Lopez Opening
For our first beginner's lesson, I would like to play through a game and thoroughly explain each move so that the reader can see the logical pattern of thought that exists in chess play. Strong chess play follows a methodical plan based on positional and tactical considerations.
1.e4 Bobby Fischer called this "the best (move) by test". Of course, even as a young player, he tried to play the sharpest moves, which made him a dangerous opponent to all levels of players in the world. The move 1.e4 meets the criteria of good chess opening play by "controlling the center", "opening lines for the pieces, i.e. queen and bishop", and "expediting development of the kingside pieces so that castling can be accomplished rapidly". If Black allows it, White will continue with 2.d4, occupying the center with two pawns and controlling four critical squares, thus denying Black placing his pieces there. The one drawback is that the pawn is undefended and can be attacked immediately by either 1...Nf6 or 1...d5. Players who open with 1.d4 restrict the queen's development in return for a protected pawn in the center. This is viewed as a minor concession in return for a strong center. Both moves are good and tend to reach different positions after the opening moves. For this lesson, 1.e4 is chosen since it leads to early tactical play in the center and will exemplify proper play with an underriding tactical theme.
1...e5 Though Black could challenge White's pawn with the aforementioned moves, 1...e5 meets another criteria of "blockading White's pawn move" and " equally controlling squares in the center, thus denying those squares to White's pieces". White can either challenge Black's 1...e5 with 2.d4 or simply attack it with a developing move, 2.Nf3. Aggressive, but not recommended, is 2.Qh5, but with proper play, Black can make White lose time with his queen and equalize. Attacking Black's center with the move 2.f4 is known as the "King's Gambit" and leads to a very tactical game with each player's kings exposed to attack. Though risky and sharp, it is an exciting opening for players who like double-edged conflicts. Moves such as 2.Nc3, 2.Bc4, or 2.c3 defer attacking Black's center until a later time. In order to follow a logical tactical theme, let's choose the fine developing move 2.Nf3, which immediately challenges Black to defend his center pawn or lose it and not only be materially down, but diminished in his control of the center squares.
2.Nf3 This develops a kingside piece to an active square, attacks an undefended pawn, clears one of the pieces on the kingside which will facilitate early castling, but with the drawback of blocking the queen's activity on the white diagonal. Chess is a game of choices based on net gains and losses. Still this is a good move which has been proven over many years. Black has multiple choices in reply to this move, some based on defense of his center pawn and others based on counterattack, ignoring the threat on his center.
2...Nc6 This defends the center pawn while developing a queenside piece. Other moves are simply to defend the pawn with a pawn by 2....d6 or counterattacking with 2...Nf6 which threatens White's e-pawn, ignoring the attack own his own e-pawn. Defense in chess is either protection of material or squares or counterattacking the opponent's material or squares. One has to choose which is more advantageous in each situation. With Black defending his center pawn with a piece (2...Nc6), he allows White to threaten a common tactic in chess called "removing the defender". In other words, if you attack the defender of a threaten piece or pawn, you threaten to win it by either capturing the defender or making it move, then capturing the initially attacked piece or pawn.
3.Bb5 This move constitutes the beginning of the age-old opening called the "Ruy Lopez", which was named after a Spanish monk from the 16th century. Its based on a very simple theme of attack, defense, attack the defender, etc. As we progress into a game using the "Ruy Lopez", this common theme will impact nearly every move selection until there is either a material deficit or checkmate. If Black can counter all the threats and equalize the game, he then has chances to outplay White and win.
3...Nf6 [With 3...Nf6, Black ignors White's threat and counterattacks by developing his kingside pieces. This move order is called the "Berlin Defense" and has been known to be a sound defense to the "Ruy Lopez". Other moves like 3...d6 (called the "Steinitz Defense" after the 19th century German world champion) simply defends the e-pawn and allows White to develop easily. ; Also ignoring White's threat and developing rapidly with 3...Bc5 is another way for Black to proceed. This move consitutes the "Classical Defense" and was thought to be sound though White will gain a tempo with the eventual c3 and d4.; The move 3...a6 was played by the American world champion, Paul Morphy, and has become the most common answer in the Ruy Lopez Opening. Since White's threat of 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5 can be countered by either 5...Qd4 or 5...Qg5, Black can afford to challenge the bishop and make it declare its intentions. After the bishop moves or captures, Black can then proceed with the above developing moves with more options.; Finally, Black can" throw caution to the wind" and strike back with 3...f5 , which is called the "Schliemann Defense". This move attacks White e-pawn from the wing and is very similar to the "King's Gambit" for Black.]
4.0-0 [Though White is threatening to win Black's e-pawn by "removing the defender (Nc6), it does not work well unless he has castled first due to Black's counterattack, i.e. 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.Nxe5 Qd4 6.Nf3 Qxe4+ 7.Qe2 Qxe2+ 8.Kxe2 and Black has a good game with his two bishops offsetting his weakness of doubled pawns. Castling early is a key move for White in the "Ruy Lopez" and many tactics from this point on favor him due to his safe king position..; Note that if White plays 4.Nc3 , Black can simply play 4...Bb4 and transpose to the "Four Knights Game". This contains less "venom" for Black than the "Ruy Lopez" and leads to a quieter game.]
4...Nxe4 Black follows up with his plan to counterattack White's center pawn and not defend his own. White's strategy now is to try to exploit the fact that Black's king is still in the center and any move by Black which opens the e-file could be disasterous for him. [With 4...Bc5 , Black could transpose back to a variation of the "Classical Defense".; 4...d6 would lead again to the "Steinitz Defense".]
5.d4 continues the threat on Black's center pawn while trying to tempt him to trade it for White's d-pawn and open the e-file to his king. [5.Re1 is another method of "breaking the Berlin Wall", but with 5...Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bd3 0-0 , Black has no problems.] *