I was wondering what are the main ideas for White are in the exchange variation, Ruy Lopez opening.

[fen "r1bqkbnr/1pp2ppp/p1p5/4p3/4P3/5N2/PPPP1PPP/RNBQK2R w KQkq - 0 5"]
  • 4
    Survive until the endgame and hope for advantage with the double c-pawns?
    – SmallChess
    Dec 1, 2015 at 15:23
  • This is a bit broad. There are many different lines. Dec 1, 2015 at 18:28
  • @DagOskarMadsen I am just asking some main ideas of the variation's main line, so I am not so interested in the different lines. Do you think I should edit my question in order to make it more precise?
    – johnny09
    Dec 3, 2015 at 16:34

3 Answers 3


Of course there are many ideas in this variation, but the single biggest one is to play d4 and trade the d-pawn for Black's e-pawn, then take advantage of the fact that it is much easier for you to make a passed pawn with your 4-to-3 advantage on the kingside than it is for Black to make a passed pawn with her 4-3 advantage on the queenside (because of her doubled pawns). If all the pieces get traded off and you end up in a pawn endgame, it is going to be very tough for Black. Naturally she will try not to let that happen.


The main idea, in the exchange variation of the Ruy is "exchange." White will play d4 next, followed by offering the exchange of queens in order to head for an early endgame. That's because he's traded away his light squared bishop, his best attacking piece.

The "classic game" for this opening was played in 1914 between world champion Emmanuel Lasker and future world champion J.R. Capablanca.

In "Chess Fundamentals," Capablanca noted that immediately after the queen exchange, "The reader should note that if all the pieces were exchanged, White would be practically a pawn ahead and therefore have a won game."

White relentlessly strove for the exchange of pieces in the game and won.


Its a fairly simple idea. White gets a 4-3 pawn advantage on the kingside and can create a passed pawn but, even though material is equal, black cant do the same on the queenside because of his doubled pawns. If you took all the pieces off the board, this is a completely won endgame for white.

Black has the 2 bishops and needs to use them to neutralize White's endgame advantage. White wants to trade off one of Black's bishops in order to take away Black's 2 bishops advantage. If white does that effectively it's just a matter of trading off all the pieces and going straight to the endgame

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