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Spanish opening exchange variation

The Spanish opening is one of the most solid options for masters all over the world, today we will see the Spanish opening exchange variation. It has been an opening that gave the greatest results to the greatest masters of all time, included Bobby Fischer, Magnus Carlsen, and many others.

Despite its simplicity, the Spanish opening counts with excellent weapons to get a good advantage in the game of chess. There is lots of theory about the Spanish opening and its variations because of how often it is played.

The Spanish opening exchange variation in special has been neglected for many masters that sustain that there are better ways to play with white. However, the exchange variation of the Spanish opening is sure a weapon to respect and is known for how poisonous it can be.

Black must be prepared to face this variation, otherwise, he will struggle for sure. Even if the Spanish opening exchange variation looks really quiet, many things could go wrong.

If you want to master the Spanish opening exchange variation and dominate in tournaments keep reading.

The mainlines of the Exchange variation

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To enter the Spanish opening exchange variation we have to play the following moves:

And this is considered the mainline of the exchange variation in the Ruy Lopez. It’s also possible for black to take with the b-pawn, but it isn’t considered as strong.

At first, this seems like a bad move, because we are exchanging the “Spanish bishop” the piece that we are not supposed to exchange in the Ruy Lopez. However, we also have some assets here, let’s take a close look at the position.

We have a better pawn structure, and we count with a small lead in development, in exchange, black has the pair of bishops. There are many possible moves for white here:

  • O-O
  • Nc3
  • d3
  • d4

The first move O-O is considered the best for white, simply continuing development, there is an incredible number of moves with black, and different lines. For example, you could play aggressively with black:

But you can also choose a quieter line, for example:

Quiet positional game with opportunities for both sides.

Or you can also go for an early endgame: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.O-O f6 6.d4 exd4 7.Nxd4 c5 8.Ne2 Qxd1 9.Rxd1 Bd7 10.Be3 O-O-O.

Nc3 is the other line, which is considered more active for white, and the game could go like this:

When you can castle short and get an opposite castle position, or you can play Ne3.

The move Nc3 also allows you to play in a simpler way and still get good chances, here is another possible line:

And you have good chances.

d3 is an underestimated move that was considered too passive, but the GM Magnus Carlsen proved that it was a powerful weapon:

With a good chances position.

Finally, the move d4 is also one of the most popular, and it is one of the most aggressive lines too, blowing the center open once for all. The game could go like this:

And this position offer good chances for both players.

Plans and ideas in the Spanish opening exchange variation

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The plan in the Spanish opening is always to get an active play and open the center as fast as possible. It’s different in the Spanish opening exchange variation because you give away the light squares bishop, a very powerful piece.

The Spanish opening is one of the best for beginners because it secures some advantage with white. You can also get a good game with many variations, and if you know how to play the Spanish opening exchange variation you can trick many opponents.

You will have to figure out the best maneuvers and play positionally to get an attack, focus on your d5 outpost, and pushing d4.

Sample games with the exchange variation

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