Ruy Lopez – Breyer Variation ⎸Chess Openings

Ruy Lopez – Breyer Variation ⎸Chess Openings


Hello everyone! This is Stjepan. In this video I’m going to cover the Breyer
Variation of the Closed Ruy Lopez. The variation got its name after Gyula Breyer,
who was a Hungarian chess prodigy from the beginning of the 20th century. He was a part of the modern school of chess
and he contributed a lot to opening theory. There are a few variations named after him,
but this is the most important one. He died young, in his late twenties, I think,
which is too bad because he could have definitely made a much greater impact on chess theory
had he managed to live longer. The theory of the Breyer Variation has been
developing for the last fifty years, I would say, and it’s one of the most important,
and one of the most often played variations of the Closed Ruy Lopez. It was a favorite of many players, such as
Anatoly Karpov, and even Gata Kamsky today. Magnus Carlsen is playing the variation, Bobby
Fischer played it. It’s a very solid way for black to fight
for control in symmetrical e4 e5 opening. And it’s considered to be one of the best
ways to fight the Ruy Lopez in general. The Ruy Lopez starts after the moves – pawn
to e4, pawn to e5. All moves are designed to fight for the center,
for both sides. Knight to f3, increasing the pressure on d4
and e5. Black defends with Nc6, and bishop to b5 now,
challenging the knight and indirectly fighting for the center. All the moves are designed to fight for central
control in the most direct way. The Breyer Variation branches from the Closed
Ruy Lopez which starts after pawn to a6, not going for the Berlin or the Exchange Variation. Bishop to a4, the bishop retreats, knight
to f6. In this position white has two options. one is to castle…which is the main continuation
and the one that leads to the Closed Ruy Lopez. And I would just like to mention another move
here in this position, which is d3. D3 simplifies the opening battle very much
and avoids almost all theoretical variations. And the move is not bad, it solidifies the
center, opens up the dark squared bishop and makes whites position much more stable. But, theory says that this is slightly less
active and that white is relinquishing a part of his opening advantage. It’s a move worth considering as a surprise
weapon perhaps, if your opponent is preparing for the Breyer or any other highly theoretical
line. And the plan is similar for white after d3,
instead of castling. He will play c3 eventually, place the bishop
on c2 and fight for the d4 break. this is just a different approach to achieving
the same goal. But castling in this position is by far the
main and the best move. It keeps a lot of white’s opening advantage. And with this move we are entering the closed
Ruy Lopez. which is the main theoretical line from which all the popular variations such
as the Chigorin, the Karpov variation and the Breyer Variation, which we are going to
cover today, branch out from. And first, let me point out one thing in this
position, knight takes e4 is a bad idea for black here, even though the pawn seems to
be hanging. If black plays knight takes e4, then white
is able to play rook to e1, attacking both the knight and the e5 pawn, and after the
knight moves, attacking the bishop, the bishop simply exchanges on c6, removing the defender
of e5 and after d takes, knight takes, threatening a discovered check on the king, so bishop
to e7 and d4. And in this position white has, not a winning
advantage, but he stands much better here. He has much more active pieces, black has
compromised his pawn structure and he is a few tempi down in development. So after castles the pawn can’t be taken. Black usually continues, in 99% of the games
continues with bishop to e7, preparing to castle, and white plays rook to e1. And now, this is finally defending the e4
pawn and really threatening the e5 pawn for the first time, so black has to react. White is aiming to capture the c6 knight,
removing the defender, and just simply win e5. the best way to stop that is to block
the bishop, therefore b5 is played. So, b5. And b5 has become the main move for a good
reason. It opens up a square or the light squared
bishop, it blocks the white bishop on a4, and it also gains valuable space on the queenside. And white, of course, retreats the bishop
with Bb3. And from this position, both sides develop
their pieces in a way that still fights for central control, and the d4 and the d5 breaks. One downside of black playing b5 on last move
is that white is now able to open up the a file at his own leisure with a4, and this
gives additional attacking prospects to white on the queenside, as opposed to black, who
can’t decide whether the queenside will be opened or not. So, another thing I would like to mention. If you are unfamiliar with the opening theory
of the Ruy Lopez and how to enter the Closed Ruy Lopez, I would recommend you watch the
video on the theory of the Ruy Lopez or the Spanish game in general. I will leave the link in the description below. But after Bb3, black now continues with d6,
which is opening up the bishop and solidifying his e5 pawn finally, because, black is aiming
to attack the bishop on b3, which is white’s most powerful piece, and he is going to do
that by playing knight to a5. And without d6 being played the e5 pawn would
fall, it would be attacked by the f3 knight. And now that d6 was played, white has to make
an escape square for the bishop, and giving up the bishop for the knight would be positional
defeat and positional suicide for white, so white plays the only move in the position
– c3. And, now, if black attacks the bishop, the
bishop can retreat to c2, when black would be wasting a move with Na5. So black now just castles, finishes development
in this position. And here white plays the last move of common
theory in the Closed Ruy Lopez, so to say, the last move before the Closed Ruy Lopez
branches out into several different variations. He has to prevent black from attacking d4,
and stopping the d4 push. The only way black can put more pressure on
d4 is indirectly by pinning the f3 knight. Black would like to play bishop to g4, and
Bg4 would pin the knight, and therefore reduce the defense of d4, and white wouldn’t be able
to strike with d4 in the center. So white has to stop that. He stops it with h3. This is now preventing the bishop from pinning
the knight. This is the final position of the Closed Ruy
Lopez. This will have been played “a tempo” in almost
all higher rated games, and you absolutely have to know this position and memorize it. And you also have to know the reasons behind
each move. This is absolutely crucial. You have to remember that white is fighting
for the d4 break the whole game, he is reinforcing it with c3, with the knight on f3, with the
queen on d1, and that’s his main idea in the center. And black is aiming to stop than and he is
doing that with his d pawn, with his knight. He will eventually try to play c5, he will,
perhaps, try to play f5, and he was aiming to pin the f3 knight as well. The whole idea of the opening is revolving
around the d4 break for white, the d5 break for black, and the control on all sides of
the board, but mainly in the center. And from this position the Closed Ruy Lopez
branches out. Today’s subject is the Breyer Variation of
the Closed Ruy Lopez. The other lines branching from this position
will be covered in separate videos. The Brayer Variation starts after black plays
knight to b8 in this exact position. And you might think this move is strange or
under developing, but it’s actually very logical and extremely useful in this position. If you think about it, the knight has already
served its purpose of defending the e5 pawn when it was necessary, and it has no use on
c6 anymore now that the center is solidified with d6. And the knight is, thus, being transferred
to a much more useful square, and it’s being given a more important role in the center,
in both defense and in the attack. The plan is to re maneuver the knight from
b8 to d7, a square from which it can support c5 and e5. The second main purpose of the move Nb8 is
that it allows the c pawn to move, so it’s no longer blocked by the knight. And, thirdly, the bishop on c8 can now develop
on the long a8-h1 diagonal, which is very important. So the move Nb8 definitely makes sense. White now replies with d4 in this position,
striking in the center. This is basically the only move white could
consider after Nb8. Everything else is far too inferior, far too
slow, and it’s not using the fact that black did play Nb8, wasting a tempo pretty much,
and not playing an aggressive move. And d4 is finally gaining central space white
has fought for since the start of the opening, since e4 and Nf3. And now he can finally do that because black
wasted time to re maneuver his knight. And the second purpose of the move d4 is the
knight maneuver which is thematic for the Ruy Lopez, for the Breyer Variation, but for
several other lines as well, and since white played c3, to be able to push d4, the b1 knight
has only one square. That’s the d2 square. The plan white has is to attack black’s kingside
by transferring the knight to g3 and then, ideally, to f5. As Ben Finegold would say – Knife f5! So the knight has a very good plan of going
to d2-f1-g3, which is very ambitious, but it’s actually very much achievable in the
Ruy Lopez, and both sides get to achieve their plans without too much confrontation at the
start of the opening, because the Ruy Lopez, and especially the closed lines, are very
much maneuvering positions. In this position, after d4, black continues
with knight b to d7, black continues with his own plan, and he has a developing plan
as well. He will get his rook to e8, place the bishop
to f8, the knight is now very good on d7, he will play g6 to activate the bishop, the
light squared bishop will develop to b7, and black will eventually strike in the center
with c5 now that the pawn is able to move. That’s the beautiful thing about the Breyer
Variation. Both sides push their own ideas without too
much fighting until the maneuvering is done, and this is actually a very good opening to
learn how to re maneuver your pieces when you have a lot of time to do that. Unlike in some Sicilian positions, the Scandinavian
or the Panov Caro-Kann, this position, actually, gives you time to maneuver and you won’t be
punished if you make a single mistake. But, the side that makes a mistake will suffer
later on because of it. It’s crucial to know where your pieces go,
so studying the Breyer will definitely help you with knowing where your pieces should
be, even in other lines and in other openings. After knight b to d7, white now continues
with Nbd2, starting and continuing his knight maneuver to g3 and to f5. Bishop to b7 by black, developing the bishop,
but also now attacking the e4 pawn for the second time. And white has a great way to defend. He retreats the bishop to c2, defending the
pawn. Another purpose of c3 was that white is now
able to defend with bishop to c2, because otherwise he would have to play a strange
move, such as Qe2 in some positions, and the pawn is still sufficiently defended, but it
could change very fast. Rook to e8 here by black, reinforcing e5,
and white just minds his own business and continues to transfer the knight to g3, so
knight to f1. Bishop to f8, and knight to g3. White has now achieved hi perfect opening
setup, both knights are optimally placed for attack, the bishops are staring at black’s
kingside, and the queen is ready to jump into h5. From this position you can see why the Breyer
is potentially a great attacking position for white, and why it offers so many attacking
prospects, and why the games often turn out to be tactical brilliances. And black now, first of all, has to stop knight
f5, so g6 is a must-play move. He has to play g6, taking away squares from
the g3 knight and also giving more scope to the f8 bishop. White now finishes his kingside development
and the theoretical continuation here is to fight for an advantage on the queenside as
well. White strikes with a4. That’s using the fact that black weakened
himself with b5, which, once again, is not a bad move, it was the best move in the opening,
but it also has a downside. That’s the fact that white is able to open
up the a file when he feels like it. Black is able to strike back in this position
with the move he prepared a while ago by entering the Breyer Variation and transferring the
knight back to b8. He plays c5. The best move as a reaction to c5 is actually
just to close the center down with d5, and black now replies with c4. The position after c4 is considered to be
the main starting position of the Breyer variation of the Closed Ruy Lopez, and this is the position
you will get in almost every game if you know the theory and if your opponent knows the
theory. This is the absolute best line for both colors. Now black has a solid position, a great square
for the knight on c5, and he has great attacking prospects as well. It’s considered to be almost completely equal,
and from here the games actually start and players can branch out into several different
lines. There are around 700 grandmaster games from
this position, so really a large database to study from. From this position white will usually continue
with bishop to g5, this is the most commonly played move, threatening to play queen d2
and attack the h6 square twice, so black has to react immediately with h6, preventing that,
chasing the bishop away. The bishop goes to e3. From this position the games continue in several
different ways. I’ll quickly show you one sample game, or
a part of one sample game. It was played between Anish Giri and Sergey
Karjakin in 2014. Just to show their middle game ideas and how
white managed to exploit his opening advantage. Sergey Karjakin was black here. He continued with h5, expanding on the kingside. Queen to d2, Giri finishes development and
connects rooks. Knight to c5, using the strongest square black
has in the Breyer Variation, and setting up his octopus knight. And Anish Giri immediately takes the monster
knight with bishop takes c5. And, I think placing the knight on c5 was
a mistake, perhaps, because white just played Be3 and he was prepared to give up his bishop
for the much more active knight. So d takes c5, queen to e3, attacking c5,
rook to b8, knight to f1, bishop c8, N1d2 and white stands better here, but Anish has
smartly changed plans. He is no longer pushing all his pieces to
the kingside to attack, and he was able to exchange Karjakin’s strongest piece and he
is now centralizing and reinforcing his strong center. This was only a five-minute game, though,
so Sergey shouldn’t be blamed for his errors. I wanted to use a blitz game as an example
on purpose, because it relies almost on pure intuition so it’s easier to see what the players
are thinking about automatically in a position which occurs from the Breyer opening. The position continued with bishop to d7,
axb5, axb5, as you can see, Giri is now able to open up the a file to his own advantage,
rook to a6, infiltrating. And he is much better now, and that’s all
because of the b5 pawn push by black in the opening of the Spanish Game, and a4, which
is thematic for the Breyer Variation. Remember the a4 move. You have the option to open up the a file
when the position suits you best. So rook to b6, Ra7, Qb8, challenging the rook,
Rea1, Qd6, Bd1, and there is no need to go through the game any further. Anish Giri managed to win convincingly and
this position is almost completely winning for white. But how he did it is key to understanding
the Breyer. He used his main assets in the position. The strong d5 pawn, the a file, which white
decided to open when it suited him best, and the provocation of black’s weakening kingside
moves g6 and h5, which are also very important. Which you provoke by playing queen to d2. And it’s also very instructive how he maneuvered
the knight all the way back from g3 to d2 once more, even though he wasted three moves
to put it on g3 in the first place. But the knight was needed in the center much
more. And Sergey went wrong in this position and
he allowed white everything he wanted and he gave away the a file, the kingside king
safety and the c5 knight in a very unfavorable fashion. So this was one sample continuation of the
opening. Let me just run over the opening once more,
just to recap. After white plays h3 in this position, so
the Closed Ruy Lopez, the Breyer is knight to b8, transferring the knight to d7 into
the center. White strikes with d4. And the game continues with Nbd7, continuing
his plan, white now starts his own plan of transferring the knight from d2 to f1 to g3
and to control the f5 square and start an attack. And the basic plan is to get both bishops
to aim at the black’s king, to get the knights to jump into h4, h5. The queen is looing at the h5. The game continues with Nbd2, bishop to b7,
black is developing on the long diagonal, bishop to c2, he has to defend e4. Rook e8, and now both sides develop normally,
Nf1, bishop f8, knight to g3, g6, stopping knight to f5. it might seem as if black is
on the defensive throughout the whole opening, but black actually has a lot more prospects
which couldn’t show all in one video. It would be too long. I will recommend studying games of old masters
such as Vassily Smyslov and Anatoly Karpov in this position, or from the newer masters
you should check out Gata Kamsky. There are also 700 games from the main line
of the Breyer, and studying them will definitely help you understand how to play the position
much better. Ok, everyone! Once again I would like to remind you that
if you would like to see the main opening Ruy Lopez, the theoretical lines, you should
check out the video. I’ll put the link in the description below. I hope you liked this video on the Breyer
Variation, and I hope you got to learn the position and how to play it. Thanks very much for watching! And stay tuned for more chess videos! Thanks very much!

7 thoughts on “Ruy Lopez – Breyer Variation ⎸Chess Openings

  1. Thank you so much ! This is really useful for the good understanding of Ruy Lopez, and you explain the moves as logical sequences and not as vulgar theoretical moves that can remember very easily.

      Thanks again :-).

  2. LOve your videos. YOu are very thorough in explaining why certain moves are made and even talking about history of an opening. YOu are my go-to channel for opening preparation.

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