Today we are going to start a new chapter on the Ruy Lopez from White's perspective, the Moller and Arkhangelsk Variations. Lets plunge into it right away:
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0
The Arkhangelsk Variation (5...b5 6 Bb3 Bb7) and the Moller Variation (5...Bc5 or 5...b5 6 Bb3 Bc5) represent ambitious plans of development by Black. In particular, the variation 5...b5 6 Bb3 Bc5 has in the last few years become increasingly popular at the highest levels, so much so that it's even threatening to become Black's main reply to the Lopez . The closely related Arkhangelsk went through a similar vogue , although on a slightly smaller scale, in the early 1990s. Both variations can lead to very sharp play. Against these lines, recommended is that White should play c3 and d4, but care is needed with move-orders.
White Plays d4: Black Reacts with ...Bb6
In this theoretical position, if White plays 8 d4 Black reacts with 8...Bb6! , maintaining the pawn on e5 and keeping the pressure on d4. If Black were forced to play 8...exd4 , relinquishing the centre, then his whole strategy would have been at fault. 8...Bb6 works through tactical means, as can be seen in the theory section.
White Attacks with a4
With Black's bishop on c5 and knight on c6 (see diagram), there is no real opportunity for Black to link his pawn-chain with ...c5. This can in fact leave the b5-pawn rather isolated and vulnerable to attack. One of White's weapons in these variations is to attack the pawn with an early a4. This assault can be sustained by moves such as Na3 and Qe2.
White Protects d4 with Be3
In some variations White will try to negate the pressure from the b6-bishop by playing Be3. This protects the d4-pawn and thus allows White to continue to develop smoothly with Nbd2, Often White will play h3, in order to prevent ...Ng4. With the white bishop on e3, Black has to be wary of the possibility of d5, followed by Bxb6, which would leave Black with doubled pawns.
The main lines in these Variations revolves around Black's 5th move alternatives, while the sub-variations will include Black's 6th, 7th and 8th move alternatives. And bear it in mind, dear readers, it will be a pretty lengthy discussion because these variations demands that!
Let's start with Variation A: 5...d6:
Well, what do you think? I like it anyway, and I am ready to play and confront this everytime I play as White!!
We will study Variation B in our next post. Till then, study the position arising out of this reply from Black and make it clear in your head. We have a long way to go!!
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Thanks a lot. Enjoy!!
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