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Bishop-pair
The Ruy Lopez Question (2 of 2)

Point Count Chess, NO. 146A to NO. 146C, p208-209
Taubenhaus v. Tarrasch, 1903

Part 1 of 2, No. 145, introduces the Ruy Lopez Question.

In this example, (No. 146A to No. 146C), we see a game that helps answer the "Question."

Beneath the ChessFlash viewer, you'll find my analysis of the three positions featured in Point Count Chess:
  1. PCC, p.208, No. 146A, after 7...Nf5
  2. PCC, p.209, No. 146B, after 15...Bd3
  3. PCC, p.209, No. 146C, after 21...c5
  4. PGN
Additional analysis includes the:

The Ruy Lopez Question (2 of 2)
My Analysis

Position #1, My Analysis
PCC, p.208, No. 146A, after 7...Nf5

After: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A - Page 208
After: 7...Nf5

The following analysis looks at the build-up to the position of the Ruy Lopez Question, before seeing how Black managed to use his Bishop-pair, and Doubled Pawns, to answer the "Question" ...

1. Reaching the position of the Ruy Lopez Question

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 4.O-O Nxe4
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 4.O-O Nxe4
A slightly expanded sequence leading to the Ruy Lopez Question (No. 145 was a shorter sequence), as White takes the opportunity to Castle, and Black captures White's e4-Pawn, prior to the position of the "Question."
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 6.Bxc6 dxc6
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 6.Bxc6 dxc6
The game has reached the position of the Ruy Lopez Question: "Which has the better game?"

The key to answering this will be how White utilizes his two Knights, versus how well Black utilized his Bishop-pair.

2. The Battle to Answer the Ruy Lopez Question

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 7.dxe5 Nf5
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 7.dxe5 Nf5
White captures Black's e5-Pawn, to create an Advanced Pawn, which also forces Black's Knight to flee the d6-square.

Black's choice of 7...Nd7-f5 is significant, as it leads to an exchange of Knights, with White suddenly cut down to Bishop & Knight versus Black's Bishop-pair.

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Position #2, My Analysis
PCC, p.209, No. 146B, after 15...Bd3

After: 8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Qe3 Qxe3 12.Bxe3 Bb4 13.Ne4 Bf5 14.c3 Be7 15.Ng3 Bd3

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146B - Page 209
After: 15...Bd3
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4
Black completes the Knight exchange, with a gain of Tempo (the capture develops a new Piece -- Black's Queen -- while taking out White's Piece (Knight), wiping out the Tempos use in moving White's Knight in the first place).

Furthermore, White now only has Bishop & Knight versus Black's Bishop-pair ...

With the Center semi-Open (only White's e5-Pawn remains, at present), the game is shaping up to suit Bishops over Knights.

This is likely to be where Black begins to answer the Ruy Lopez Question, with the answer being in Black's favor.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Qe3 Qxe3
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Qe3 Qxe3
Black uses his light-Bishop to combine with its Queen, into forcing the exchange of Queens.

With Black already having the advantage of the Bishop-pair (on the near-Open board), it makes sense to remove the threat posed by White's Queen (which can move in multiple directions to attack and hassle the Bishops).

So, the trade of Queens has simplified the position, for Black's benefit.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 12.Bxe3 Bb4
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 12.Bxe3 Bb4
White's Knight completes the Queen exchange, and then Black brings out his dark-Bishop.

From here, Black focuses staying out of sight of White's remaining Bishop, while he goes about harassing White's Knight and exposed Rook.

White's just trying to repel Black's Bishop-pair. He can attack them, but their fast pace across open ground enables the Bishops to dash back to positions of safety, yet remain in contention to quickly return via other avenues (diagonals), to continue their harassment of White's army.


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Position #3, My Analysis
PCC, p.209, No. 146C, after 21...c5

After: 16.Rfd1 O-O-O 17.Rd2 c5 18.f4 h5 19.Rad1 c4 20.Kf2 h4 21.Ne2 c5

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146C - Page 209
After: 21...c5
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 16.Rfd1 O-O-O
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 16.Rfd1 O-O-O
White attacks Black's Bd3, with his King Rook (16.Rf1-d1), but Black's Queenside Castling (16...O-O-O) instantly defends the light-Bishop.

White can do nothing, as to capture (17.Rd1xd3) wouldn't only lead to an unfavorable trade for White (losing a Rook, for a Bishop, after 17...Rd8xd3), but would leave Black's Rook relatively safe, deep inside White's territory.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 17.Rd2
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 17.Rd2
All of Black's Pieces are in good positions (well coordinated in both defense and attack), so Black begins advancing Pawns on both sides of the board ...
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 17...c5, 19...c4 and 21...c5
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 17...c5 → 19...c4 → 21...c5
On the Queenside, Black advances both Doubled Pawns, on the c-file. The leading Pawn is to support the light-Bishop ...

The trailing c-Pawn, going to c5, has a dual-purpose, as it'll deny White's Pieces access to the d4-square, while it can replace the c4-Pawn, to continue supporting the Bd3, if White attempts to capture with the b-Pawn (e.g. b2-b3 → b3xc4).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 18...h5 and 20...h4
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 18...h5 → 20...h4
On the Kingside, Black advances his h-Pawn, to repel White's Ng3, and remove the g3-square from White's Knight, which is now restricted for squares to expand to.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 21...c5
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 21...c5
White still has his Bishop & Knight pairing, but it's got problems: the Bishop is "Bad" -- it's hemmed in by its own Pawns and Pieces, while it cannot break out via either c5 or h4, as Black's dark-Bishop has both exits covered.

Knowing this restriction, and with the advantage of the Bishop-pair, and having taken out the first major threat (White's Queen), Black proceeds to trade the other major threats off the board (White's Rooks).
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 27.Rxd8 Bxd8
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 27.Rxd8 Bxd8
The Rook threats are gone, for both sides. But White still has the "Bad" Bishop, which cannot develop into a good position even to begin contemplate about working with the Knight.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Bishop-pair, The Ruy Lopez Question, After 48...b3
The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 48...b3 (0-1)
Black wins the game, with his Bishop-pair still helping to dictate play. White's Bishop & Knight still aren't capable of coordinating attacks effectively; their awkward pairing a disadvantage against Black's Bishop-pair.

H&M-S had mentioned that some players, such as Tchigorin, prefer working with the two Knights, when the Ruy Lopez Question arises (see text beneath image No. 145). In this game, all was going well for White, until Black eliminated White's Knight pairing, and with a more Open position, his Bishop-pair proved to be the answer.

Black also used his Doubled Pawns to his advantage, as they helped support the light-Bishop (15...Bd3), and increase White's Cramped Position, on the Queenside, which restricted White's ability to break out of his own territory.


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An Answer to the Ruy Lopez Question...

It would seem that the answer to the Ruy Lopez Question is that both sides have roughly an equal chance of winning the game, until Black, with the Bishop-pair, manages to take-out one of White's pairs of Knights.

Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Ruy Lopez Question, Result, After 9...Qxd4
(RESULT) The Ruy Lopez Question,
Bishop-pair vs. Bishop & Knight, After 9...Qxd4
Reduced to Bishop & Knight, White's Minor Pieces cannot coordinate themselves as effectively as Black's Bishop-pair can, to attack the enemy and defend their position.
Point Count Chess - IE - Diagram 146A to 146C - The Ruy Lopez Question, Result, After 21...c5
(RESULT) The Ruy Lopez Question,
After 21...c5
And, regarding the structural weakness of Black's Doubled Pawns ...

They can be turned into an asset by advancing them down the board, to give White a Cramped Position, on the Queenside, which serves to restrict White's ability to break out of his own territory.
← Back to the Chess Glossary
(The Ruy Lopez Question)

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PGN

[Event "Monte Carlo"]
[Site "11"]
[Date "1903.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Jean Taubenhaus"]
[Black "Siegbert Tarrasch"]
[ECO "C67"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "96"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 {PCC p.208 No. 146A}8.Qe2 Nd4 9.Nxd4 Qxd4 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Qe3 Qxe3 12.Bxe3 Bb4 13.Ne4 Bf5 14.c3 Be7 15.Ng3 Bd3 {PCC p.209 No. 146B}16.Rfd1 O-O-O 17.Rd2 c5 18.f4 h5 19.Rad1 c4 20.Kf2 h4 21.Ne2 c5 {PCC p.208 No. 146C}22.Ng1 Kc7 23.Nf3 Kc6 24.Ne1 Be4 25.Ke2 Rxd2+ 26.Rxd2 Rd8 27.Rxd8 Bxd8 28.Nf3 Bb1 29.a3 Bd3+ 30.Ke1 Be4 31.Ke2 Bd3+ 32.Ke1 Be4 33.Ke2 Bd3+ 34.Ke1 Kd5 35.Bf2 h3 36.g3 b6 37.Ng1 Bf5 38.Nf3 Ke4 39.Nd2+ Kd3 40.Nf1 Be4 41.Ne3 Be7 42.g4 b5 43.g5 a5 44.Kd1 b4 45.cxb4 cxb4 46.axb4 axb4 47.Nc2 c3 48.bxc3 b3 0-1

End.

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