20 June 2007

Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Deferred

Continuing with Smyslov's Sparklers and Ruy Lopez Same Old, Same Old?, why the interest in the Lopez? It's the opening that occurred in the next game I'm looking at : Smyslov - Reshevsky, 1948 World Championship.

The game started 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c3 Nge7 6.d4 Bd7, which is an opening I never see these days. After establishing that 4...d6 (the Steinitz Deferred) is relatively unpopular among the 2700+ players, I wondered who plays it at the next level and what they play. Going back to Chesslab.com, I found 93 games played since 1997 where at least one player was rated higher than 2600. The following table shows how often the main variations were used.

Although Reshevsky's variation (5...Nge7) was never played in the sample, I learned something about the more popular lines. A long, critical line appears to be 5.c3 f5 6.exf5 Bxf5 7.O-O Bd3 8.Re1 Be7 9.Bc2 Bxc2 10.Qxc2 Nf6 11.d4 e4 12.Ng5 d5 13.f3 h6 14.Nh3 O-O 15.Nd2 exf3 16.Nxf3 Rf7. Of the nine games using this, eight ended in a draw.

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