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Ruy Lopez, Marshall (C89)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Be7 6 Re1 b5
7 Bb3 O-O 8 c3 d5

Number of games in database: 1121
Years covered: 1893 to 2018
Overall record:
   White wins 30.7%
   Black wins 24.3%
   Draws 45.0%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Viswanathan Anand  32 games
Peter Leko  19 games
Judit Polgar  16 games
Michael Adams  37 games
Levon Aronian  30 games
Mark Hebden  29 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Capablanca vs Marshall, 1918
Judit Polgar vs Svidler, 2005
Kramnik vs Aronian, 2007
Kramnik vs Leko, 2004
Shirov vs Aronian, 2006
Judit Polgar vs Adams, 1999
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 page 1 of 45; games 1-25 of 1,121  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. K A Walbrodt vs Conill / Ostolaza / López / Herrer 1-0441893Consultation gameC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
2. S Sittenfeld vs V Soldatenkov  0-1251901Casual gameC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
3. W Frere vs Marshall 0-1171917freeC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
4. Capablanca vs Marshall 1-0361918New YorkC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
5. J S Morrison vs Marshall 0-1841918New YorkC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
6. S Sery vs Z Vecsey 1-0181921BrunnC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
7. J W te Kolste vs Loman 0-1181921NED-chC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
8. B Moritz vs K Emmrich 1-03319222nd Play-OffC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
9. Lasker vs H R Bigelow 0-1191926Simul, 30bC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
10. Ed. Lasker vs Marshall  ½-½301926ChicagoC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
11. L Steiner vs K Helling 0-1181928It BSGC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
12. M Fox vs H Steiner  1-0221929Bradley BeachC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
13. A Gromer vs J van den Bosch  1-0581930Hamburg ol (Men)C89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
14. Stoltz vs H Steiner  1-0361930Hamburg ol (Men)C89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
15. Loman vs J van den Bosch  1-0361932The HagueC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
16. J Battell vs Marshall 0-1281938ch Marshall CCC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
17. Z Solmanis vs Keres 0-148194420.12.44C89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
18. Pinkus vs B Altman  1-0411944USA-chC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
19. R H Steinmeyer vs Santasiere  ½-½491944US OpenC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
20. A Tsvetkov vs A Preinfalk  ½-½471945YUG-chC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
21. M Christoffel vs H Steiner 1-0451946Hastings 1945/46C89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
22. M Luckis vs R Sanguinetti ½-½421946Mar del PlataC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
23. W Shipman vs G Katz  ½-½23194647th US OpenC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
24. B Simonovic vs Mihailo Trajkovic  0-1341946YUG-ch Semifinal EastC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
25. Petrosian vs Averbakh 0-1401947Ch URS ( 1/2 )C89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
 page 1 of 45; games 1-25 of 1,121  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  TheAlchemist: I have recently tried the "original" 11...Nf6 instead of the usual 11...c6:

11...Nf6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Ng4 14.g3 Nxh2 15.Kxh2 <this is a mistake, maybe 15.Qh5> Qh4+ 16.Kg1 Bxg3 17.fxg3 Qxg3+ 18.Kh1 Bg4 0-1 <A beautiful line, that I have discovered with my computer, is 15.Bd5 Bxg3 16.Bxa8 Bg4 17.Qd3 Qxa8 18.Qxg3 Nf3+> This is another game I've won quickly, in the usual line 11...c6:

11...c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Nd2 <usual is 15.Be3, now Black has the advantage already> Bg4 16.f3 <better is 16.Nf3> Bxg3 17.hxg3 Qxg3+ 18.Kh1 Nf4 0-1

I like the Marshall, because White really can't afford any slips in the opening. That's probably why many players avoid it, I've even had much higher rated players avoid it against me.

Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: Marshall v. Anti-Marshall

in the position

click for larger view

short has had c3 played against him 50% of the time and a combination of a4, d3 and h3 the other 50%. is this typically what marshallers find?

Repertoire Explorer: Nigel Short (black)

Jan-06-06  KingG: The Marshall has killed the Ruy Lopez at the top level IMO. No one wants to allow it because Black get's an attack which even if White knows what he is doing seems to be analysed to a draw, and the anti-Marshalls also seem quite drawish. Certainly they are not as fun to play for White as the mainlines.
Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: <kingg> so do you think that 1.e4 e5 is a draw at GM levels? between the marshall/anti-marshall and the petroff?
Jan-07-06  KingG: <refutor> No, i think that 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 is extremely drawish at super-GM levels, because it allows either the Petrov or the (anti-)Marshall. If White wants to win against 1...e5, i think it will soon be necessary to play either 2.f4, 2.Nc3 or even 2.Bc4.

New ideas might be found in the Petrov and the (anti-)Marshall, but i doubt it. To be honest, i'm not sure why the anti-Marshalls should be drawish, but that's how it seems to go. Look at Kasparov, when was the last time he won with an anti-Marshall?

Another possibility if you play the Ruy is to play a sideline like Moro has been doing recently (eg Morozevich vs Khalifman, 2005). Even then, you have to avoid the Petrov.

Mar-12-06  WTHarvey: Here is a little collection of winning combinations in the Marshall Gambit:
Apr-05-06  Holden: [Event ""]
[Site ""]
[Date "2006.4.5"]
[Round ""]
[White "Holden"]
[Black "NN"]
[TimeControl "5 min / 5 sec inc"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 <I always allow the Marshall> d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d4 Bd6 13.Re1 Qh4 14.g3 Qh3 15.Be3 Bg4 16.Qd3 Bf3?! <I was expecting Rae8. He doesn't really think white is going to bang out sixteen moves of theory and get mated on g2, does he?> 17.Qf1 Qh5 18.Nd2 Nxe3 19.Rxe3 Bd5?! <Black really shouldn't be this eager to trade pieces in the Marshall. Black is running full speed to an ending that is better for white.> 20.Bxd5 Qxd5 21.Qg2 f5? 22.Qxd5+ cxd5 <The endgame arrives. My opponent has much more time on his clock, but with the 5 sec increment, I'm feeling confident.> 23.Rae1 <White has doubled rooks on the only open file on the board.> f4 24.Re6 Rad8 25.Kg2 <A safe move, but not necessary or even particularly useful. An immediate Nb3 would have been better.> fxg3 26.hxg3 h6 27.Nb3 Kh7 <Black's pieces are all tied up. Perhaps Rf6 would have been better, in an attempt to free up the position. White would still be winning but would be forced to think longer each turn.> 28.Nc5 Bxc5 29.dxc5 Ra8? <Drops a pawn.> 30.R1e5 Black resigns.

Apr-22-06  CapablancaFan: The Marshall is a double-edged opening in which black must have utter confidence in his abilities to play. If your black, unless you are prepared to sacrafice at least a pawn in exchange for a fast attack, stay away from this.
Jul-07-06  SirChrislov: ** To all aficionados of the Marshall **:
Play a game(free,unrated) via e-mail against me with wht or blk using the Ruy Lopez Marshall(move order: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5) S.C."TromPOWERski" at or (please introduce yourself).
Aug-19-06  positionalgenius: <syracrophy>Here's the line in our game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: <KingG>, don't forget the Scotch Game. So far in 2006, the number of draws has been quite low, and the number of White wins quite satisfactory (according to the database).

I see that since my previous posts on the drawishness of the Marshall, the gambit seems to have become even more peaceful (yes, I realize there are exceptions). For example, in the main line (11...c6), 12.Bxd4 yields wins for Black less than 20% of the time. Not the sort of opening to play when you're Black in the last round and you need a win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  bumpmobile: <All> Fritz 7 seems to hate the idea, but does 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 Bb7 12. d5 Bd6 offer any chances for Black?

click for larger view

After 13. Bxd5 Bxd5 14. Rxd5 Bxh2+ 15. Kxh2 Qxd5 White seems underdeveloped and black looks like he is threatening something, but I can't seem to make it go anywhere. Anyway, I don't normally post analysis but I was curious.

Feb-05-07  e4Newman: < bumpmobile: > 12.d4 typo

Interesting position - never seen it.

It will take white a few moves to develop those pieces, although they're free to do so. Is it worth doubling black's rooks on the open file?

Apr-02-07  gambitfan: In the game (Golddim, Gambitfan, 1995), I played the Marshall Gambit with Black with a disastrous result...


I really want to deepen my knowledge of this Gambit!

May-19-07  WarmasterKron: <If White wants to win against 1...e5, i think it will soon be necessary to play either 2.f4, 2.Nc3 or even 2.Bc4.>

What about 2.d4? I admit, I never used to think much of the Centre Game, but that was before I discovered the Danish Gambit!

Premium Chessgames Member
  norami: <WarmasterKron> For the average amateur, any opening you know well will do. It's a different story with the top pros. I looked at the openings of all games between 2700+ players played last year. There were 91 games starting 1.e4 e5. Ruy Lopez 66 times, Petrov 21, Philidor twice, Four Knights once, Bishop's once. No King's Gambits or Scotch or Italian. Looks like after 1. e4 e5 the Ruy must be best.
Jun-28-07  Timeline: To deal with the anti Marshall with h3, is Bb7 considered stronger for black than transponsing with d6 to the mainline Ruy Lopez including the Chigorin?
Jul-18-07  Timeline: Can someone tell me why 16.Qf3 of Modern Mainline went out of fashion?
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Blame it on shortened attention span, no one can memorize a line 16 moves deep anymore.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <Timeline> For the Main Line Opening Explorer the most common choice is 15. Be3. Note 15. Qf3 Bg4 16. Qg2 Qh5 Opening Explorer and Black won all 3.

As to 16. Qf3, it would depend on White's 15th move, plus Black's response, yet 15. Be3 Bg4 rules that out anyway.

Jul-19-07  Timeline: Modern Main Line is 15.Rd4 g5. These days I only see 16.Qf1 in the top level while 16.Qe2 is still employed occasiaonally. I don't see 16.Qf3 played anymore, even though it has scored quite well in the database.
Jul-27-07  CapablancaFan: Wow, I didn't know there was a book dedicated soley to the ins and outs of this line, but there is!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I began playing the Marshall back in the 1970s out of desperation. Whenever I played the Black side of the Ruy I would hang a pawn, so I figured I might as well sacrifice it deliberately.

The problem with the Marshall, as I see it, is two-fold. First, there are the anti-Marshalls--and not just on move 8. White can anti on moves 7, 6, 5, and 4 as well with perfectly sound lines. It's just too hard to get into a Marshall.

Secondly, the burden of learning the analysis is all on Black. White does need to know one adequate defense, but he only has to learn that one. Black, on the other hand, must study and prepare for them all, since there are fewer sidelines for Black to specialize in.

As for some of the questions raised above: after 8.h3:

click for larger view

My experience is that 8...Bb7 is good for Black. You'd be amazed the number of opponents who will go into a particularly vicious type of Marshall with 9.c3 d5 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxe5 Nxe5 12.Rxe5 Nf4!

As for the Qf3 line, I think what was meant was 15.Qf3 in this position:

click for larger view

Two lesser-played possibilities for White here are 15.Qd3 and 15.Qf3. It's been years, since I studied this carefully, but I think the gist is that Black should <not> attack the queen with his bishop; that is, play 15.Qd3 Bg4 or 15.Qf3 Bf5. Please don't ask me why, but that's what I remember.

There is another nasty trap in the latter line: 15.Qf3 Bf5 16.Bxd5 cxd5 17.QXd5 Rae8! 18.Be3?? Be4! I've caught a few with that one too, and it also works after 18.Rxe8 Rxe8.

I have to admit that these days I've been taking up 3...f5. There's not quite as many anti-Schliemann lines around.

Jul-26-08  offtherook: What's White's best shot at winning against the Marshall? The 15 Re4 g5 16 Qe2 line ends in a fairly simple draw, does 16 Qf1 offer white anything? Or maybe 15 Be3? I've been trying to learn the Ruy as white, but it's discouraging to see a line in it where it seems that black can at least force a draw- and that after memorizing reams of theory to be able to fight against all of black's dozen or so other defenses.
Jul-27-08  Red October: you could try anti marshalls with a4 or h3
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