Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation

Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation

Chess Opening
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Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation

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Description:
The Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation is a variation of the Ruy Lopez chess opening that begins with the moves

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bb5 a6
4.Bxc6


Black may recapture on c6 with either pawn; though 4....bxc6 is playable, 4...dxc6 is almost always chosen at master level. Black has gained the bishop pair at the cost of a weakened pawn structure, due to his doubled pawns on c6 and c7. In the Exchange Variation, by exchanging the 'Spanish Bishop', White aims to reach an endgame in which he has the superior pawn structure, which may become an important factor, thus Black is compelled to strive for an active position, generally avoiding piece exchanges.

ECO codes

There are two ECO classifications for the Exchange Variation. ECO code C68 covers 4...dxc6, with White's response of 5.d4 or 5.Nc3 to either capture. White should not capture with 5.Nxe5 as 5...Qd4 forks the knight and pawn, thus regaining the material, leading to positions where White has forfeited his structural advantage -the compensation for ceding the two bishops. Black has a variety of playable responses to the popular 4...dxc6 5.0-0 (The Barendregt Variation, which Bobby Fischer played with success). White now threatens to play 6.Nxe5 because the sequence 6...Qd4 7.Nf3 Qxe4, to regain the pawn, here fails to 8.Re1 pinning and winning the queen. ECO code C69 examines these responses to 5.0-0: 5...Qf6, 5...Qe7, 5...Bd6, 5...Bg4 or 5...Qd6 (all directly defending the e5 pawn, except 5...Bg4, an indirect defence of the...
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