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How does Black deal with the double pawns c7 and c6 on the Ruy Lopez exchange variation? In other words, after:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. d4 exd4 6. Qxd4 Qxd4 7. Nxd4

I feel that the doubled pawns are cumbersome, and I don't know how to use these two pawns in action. In the endgame, this can become a liability.

So, how can I use the doubled pawns to my advantage?

3 Answers 3

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Short: You don't.

Long: Those pawns will be a liability whatever you do (only in rare cases they do a breakthrough on the queenside - there was a very famous game with a b5 break), they aren't even very useful for center control. Your asset is the bishop pair instead, and you need to know how to use its full attacking and knight mobbing potential. The thought alone of trading f8 against c1 should make you scream in terror. Take a look at master games, the world championship games alone have enough material.

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Yes I agree this seems cumbersome. But I might suggest using that as a solid defense. Since double pawns make it trickier to try and attack your king, especially if you castle queenside.

Even if you castle kingside, you can use this solid defense to slowly weaken the opponent's queenside, even if white is too castle kingside (likely so since it is already open).

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I suggest a different approach. Play the Berlin! (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6).

There is a line that White plays Bxc6 anyway. However, if that occurs you will have have an extra tempo because you did not play a6.

You will have less lines to study.

The line that I am suggesting is the favorite of the top grandmasters. Kramink got the world title with this line against Kasparov. Most of the top grandmasters are not playing 3.Bb5 anymore for this reason. Instead, they play 3.Bc4.

Even, in the FIDE Candidates that was organized to select the challenger to the World Chess Champion, they played this opening. Even Black won!

Here is the link: https://lichess.org/study/GOhAdjoj/cKbcqNhZ

It seems that this game was played on 5 jul 2022!!!

enter image description here

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    You are right that 3.Bc4 is seen more often at the top level than it used to be, and the Berlin is a big reason for that. But it's far from the case that "Most of the top grandmasters are not playing 3.Bb5 anymore". Indeed, in the recent Candidates tournament, 7 out of the 8 players played 3.Bb5 at some point! The only exception was Ding Liren, who did not play 1.e4. According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candidates_Tournament_2022 , there were 13 Ruy Lopez games, 10 of them Berlin. Meanwhile there were 5 games with 3.Bc4 and 2 games with 3.Nc3. Jul 9 at 10:48
  • Good comment! I was just trying to "sell" my idea that it is interesting to play Nf6 instead of a6.
    – Beginner
    Jul 14 at 0:19

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