Robert Ris: Fighting the Ruy Lopez Exchange

by Nisha Mohota
10/26/2015 – The Exchange Variation can be very boring – queens come off the board quickly and you find yourself defending a long endgame practically straight out of the opening. What to do, especially if you need to win your next game with the black pieces? IM Nisha Mohota has her own personal solution in this kind of an emergency: Listen to a 60-minutes course by IM Robert Ris.

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Fighting the Spanish Exchange with Qe7 in 60 Minutes


Some openings are very irritating to face. Imagine you are playing a tournament and want a win in your next game with the black pieces. You intend to play the Marshall Attack or the Breyer Variation of the Spanish, with some fighting middlegame, but your opponent spoils the fun by playing the boring Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez where the queens disappear very early and you are forced to endure a long endgame in which your counterpart keeps pressing in an almost equal position. Irritating, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be just better if you could keep the queens on the board somehow? Robert Ris in his 60 minute ChessBase DVD: Fighting the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation with 5...Qe7, proposes a nice line for those adventurous souls who hate to enter into an ending straight out of the opening.

The starting position of the DVD after the surprising 5...Qe7. Black wants to get a position
with kings castled on opposite sides, after which the fun begins!

Black’s idea is simple and easy to implement: the rook on the d-file
can pose some problems for White in certain lines.

Believe it or not, this final position from the game Almagro Llamas-Svetushkin, 2012,
has been reached from Exchange Ruy Lopez! Not excited yet? Read more!

This is a model game in this line: Sergey Kasparov-Ris, where Black gained the upper hand after the next move 27...Re6! Did someone say the Ruy Lopez Exchange variation leads to dull positions? Not anymore!

The Dutch IM points out that the move Qe7 is just really underestimated and from a practical point of view it is an excellent weapon for black players.

Robert divides the material into three parts: part one deals with lines where White avoids or delays d4,
and part two and three deal with variations with an early d4.

Ris is very energetic and wastes no time in this one-hour video. He feels that perhaps White can count on an edge in certain lines with precise play, but he has not found it yet and so he keeps playing this line time and again.

Robert Ris: Fighting the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation with Qe7 in 60 Minutes

The odd-looking move 5….Qe7 is an ideal surprise weapon against the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez. It was introduced in the 1970s by Smyslov and in the last years it has been fine-tuned by top GMs such as Svidler, Sokolov and Ivanchuk. 5…Qe7 is an ambitious attempt to fight for the initiative and leads to sharper play than most lines in the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez. In certain lines Black will even castle queenside and play for a kingside attack!

  • Video running time: 60 min (English)
  • Delivery: download
  • Price: €9.90

Sample video: Robert Ris - Fighting the Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation

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More stories by Nisha Mohata

Nisha Mohota became India’s youngest WIM in 1995 and India’s fourth WGM in 2003. Since February 2011 she has been a full IM – her highest ever Elo rating was 2416. She has represented India in 25 countries, playing for India in the 2004, 2008 and 2010 Olympiads. Her first love, chess, helps her continue her other passion: writing, photography and travelling.


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