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Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer (C95)
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 d6 9 h3 Nb8 10 d4

Number of games in database: 1814
Years covered: 1954 to 2017
Overall record:
   White wins 32.6%
   Black wins 21.9%
   Draws 45.5%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Mikhail Tal  22 games
Efim Geller  17 games
Viswanathan Anand  16 games
Boris Spassky  54 games
Svetozar Gligoric  42 games
Krishnan Sasikiran  38 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Fischer vs Spassky, 1972
Fischer vs Spassky, 1992
Tal vs Spassky, 1980
Smirin vs Beliavsky, 1989
Robert E Byrne vs Spassky, 1974
Tal vs Spassky, 1965
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 page 1 of 73; games 1-25 of 1,814  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. V Zagorovsky vs G Borisenko 0-155 1954 URS-ch sfC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
2. L Rudenko vs V Borisenko-Belova 1-041 1954 URS-chTC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
3. Tal vs V Zurakhov  ½-½27 1955 RigaC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
4. Ravinsky vs Lutikov  0-145 1955 URS-ch sfC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
5. I Ivanco vs J Kozma  ½-½23 1956 CSR-ch sfC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
6. A Matanovic vs Smyslov  ½-½28 1956 Belgrade YUG-URSC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
7. V Ciocaltea vs G Barcza 0-140 1956 Moscow (ol)C95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
8. Vasiukov vs G Borisenko  ½-½42 1956 URS-ch sfC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
9. Boleslavsky vs Ragozin  1-041 1956 USSR ChampionshipC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
10. Geller vs Filip 1-038 1956 Amsterdam CandidatesC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
11. L Shamkovich vs Ragozin 0-140 1957 USSR, XXV-Champ.semif.C95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
12. K W Behle vs S Wolk  ½-½41 1957 Bad NeuenahrC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
13. Kholmov vs Y Kots  ½-½74 1957 URS-ch sfC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
14. P Clarke vs Blau 1-051 1957 Hastings 1957/58C95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
15. Geller vs Spassky 1-039 1958 USSR ChampionshipC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
16. R Bogdanovic vs Ivkov  0-139 1958 YUG-ch 13thC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
17. V Zurakhov vs Zamikhovsky  ½-½41 1958 Kiev-chC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
18. A Bannik vs M Levin  1-044 1958 UKR-chC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
19. A Bannik vs V Shiyanovsky  0-161 1958 UKR-chC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
20. T Weinberger vs I Rivise  1-045 1959 So. California ChampionshipC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
21. E Walther vs Unzicker 0-152 1959 ZurichC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
22. J Sherwin vs Benko  0-133 1959 U.S. OpenC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
23. Unzicker vs J H Donner  ½-½29 1960 Leipzig ol (Men) fin-AC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
24. Gufeld vs Zamikhovsky  ½-½48 1960 Avantgard-chC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
25. Unzicker vs Tal 0-126 1960 HamburgC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
 page 1 of 73; games 1-25 of 1,814  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: the breyer has always seemed to be one of the strangest lines you can play in the closed lopez, moving the knight back to b8 just seems way too odd to me, but at least it doesn't get stuck on the side of the board like it does sometimes in the tchigorin lines. somebody once told me that the knight has already done his job on c6, so it's okay to move him back to b8 and i guess white's already lost some tempi with the bihsop moves but i don't think i could play it ;)
May-30-03  Benjamin Lau: The closed Ruy Lopez in general has always been pretty weird to me- moving stuff back and forth for little reason. But it's still fun! I like the Breyer more than the others for some reason. I think that's just because it was one of the openings which helped me develop my positioning skills the most.
Feb-04-05  John Meriwether: I think the Breyer is a solid opening that in the hands of an experienced chess player would serve him (or her) rather well. I rather enjoy playing it even with the backward knight move to b8.
Nov-17-05  AlexanderMorphy: i have played this opening a few times and have drawn my 4's quite a drawish opening if neither side does anything too fancy, but white always has the better chance of winning/
Apr-19-07  gambitfan: GOD Thu 19/04/2007

Game of the Day

R Thimann vs O Lie, 1977

Aug-21-07  get Reti: I'm still learning and I'm not sure how to respond to 1.e5 as black. I'm a positional player (I like the queen's gambit). I've gone all over the place, from the french to the sicilian dragon, but have had no luck. This opening seems to suit my positional style, as it focuses on putting pieces on their best squares, for example, the knight goes to d7, the light bishop goes to b7, the dark bishop tries to go to g7, and the rook goes to e8. Another exicting thing is that black can play ...d5 if prepared correctly. Would anyone recommend this or is it too much theory for someone like me?
Aug-21-07  Open Defence: <Would anyone recommend this or is it too much theory for someone like me?> well the Closed Ruy is great, there is a downside on the amount of theory but you can narrow it down to a few lines.... another alternative might be the Petrov Defence.... rather than memorize the theory.. maybe you should just play many Ruy Games and note down your moves .. analyse them against the theory moves and then narrow your lines down.. once you have a feel for the Opening you sometimes dont need to memorize the lines and it just flows...

Jan-04-08  Open Defence: I see Mamedyarov playing the Breyer now and then... maybe Aronian too ?
Nov-18-08  Cactus: Many play it from time to time. It is very solid. Top level results lately favour black!
Aug-17-10  rapidcitychess: <rather than memorize the theory.. maybe you should just play many Ruy Games and note down your moves .. analyse them against the theory moves and then narrow your lines down.. once you have a feel for the Opening you sometimes dont need to memorize the lines and it just flows...> Wow! Good idea for any heavy theory opening, like Sicilian and Semi-Slav.
Aug-02-11  wuvmuffin72: I've studied the Zaitsev back then with the idea that I could have a back up defense to the Sicilian. I ended up ditching the Sicilian because I had way too much theory to deal with with the my two defenses to 1. e4. Eventually I ditched the Sicilian to work on the open games because I was winning a lot of games as Black against weaker players and obtained equal positions against stronger players with 1. ... e5. After playing the Zaitsev for a year I studied the Breyer because I had an old copy of Chess Informant on the Breyer from the early nineties and was quite surprised that my prep work on the Closed Ruy has lessened significantly compared to the Zaitsev and that lines going past move 20-24 hasn't changed all that much in the past decade or two. I was quite surprised by this fact and did some updating on modern moves using chessbase.

The quality of the Breyer is almost equaled to the intuitive playability of the Nimzo-Indian... I said almost. Breyer might require some intensive learning, but improvising when you forget some of the theory after move 15 tends to be more forgiving compared to some openings. I feel much worse about forgetting the theory to the (Max Lange or that Italian/Scotch gambit complex in general) attack compared to forgetting the theory to the Breyer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer Defense
1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 4.♗a4 ♘f6 5.O-O ♗e7 6.♖e1 b5 7.♗b3 O-O 8.c3 d6 9.h3 ♘b8

click for larger view

Jan-19-13  Tigranny: Does Black have better chances of winning with the Breyer than with the Chigorin?
Jan-19-13  Marmot PFL: Probably the Chigorin is better for complicating the game while the Breyer is very hard to beat.
Jan-19-13  Tigranny: <Marmot PFL> Thanks!
Jan-19-13  Marmot PFL: For a while I found the Breyer almost impossible to beat so I started playing it. I won a last round game against a player 200 points above me that we both wanted to win just by playing solid and letting him use up most of his time trying to find an attack. It can be hard to win for black though (at least quickly) as the game sometimes gets very closed with white having more space.
Mar-25-13  WiseWizard: Why is this considered more solid than the Chigorin? I feel like Black's queenside play in the chigorin is more straightforward and flexible since he has the pawns side by side on c5 +b5. Whats black's goal/dream position out of these openings?
Aug-30-13  Amarande: <WiseWizard> You can have your cake and eat it too in this case; Nb8 doesn't in and of itself commit Black not to adopt the Chigorin formation.

In any case, if you want to play c5 you're going to have to move Nc6, so the Chigorin and Breyer difference largely boils down to how you want to redeploy this Knight, which there are three choices in regards to (assuming that you aren't planning on moving Be7 anytime soon, and that if you plan c5 you also plan to wait to move the Queen until she can go to c7), namely a5 (Chigorin mainline), b8 (Breyer mainline), and a7.

Each has its merits and faults.

Na5 - The Chigorin move forces White to make a decision as to whether or not he wants to retain the Spanish bishop with Bc2 or permit it to be exchanged (which is actually not as bad as it seems; the exchange gives White an open a-file, and the Spanish bishop often loses its efficacy after the opening stages in the closed Lopez - this being particularly so if White decides to seal the centre with d5). On the downside, the Knight is the most out of play on this square compared to the other two choices, and in many variations it's going to get pushed to d8 (an especially poor square) or have to retreat via b8 anyway.

Nb8 - The Breyer move is a very flexible choice, on the other hand. From b8, the knight can easily come back into play at d7, after which it can assist in kingside action (via f8 to g6, eyeing f4) or in the centre or queenside (at b6 or, if Black foregoes the pawn advance, at c5). The lost tempi are not so crucial in a position like this one, where both players have castled, the centre is closed and positional manoeuvring begins to be the order of the day for the time being; besides, it's debatable whether Black has really made a net loss of time at all here, being that as noted before the knight's likely to have to move from c6 anyway, and in addition to this White has lost time as well (8 c3 is now a wasted move, serving no useful purpose as the Bb3 no longer needs a haven and no sane player of the Black pieces is going to play exd4 anytime soon, and on top of that it blocks a square for Nb1!). The Spanish bishop remains on b3, but this doesn't seem to matter much.

Na7 - An odd move; I'm not sure if this variation has a name. The knight's reentry point here is c8, after which it can go to b6 or later on through e7 to g6 eyeing f4; in this regard it seems likely to lead to strategies similar to the Breyer.

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