Another Forgotten Line: The Steinitz Defence to the Ruy Lopez

Here’s another in my series on forgotten chess openings, today’s forgotten line being the Steinitz Defence to the Ruy Lopez. It was played with success by three of the greatest World Champions, Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker and Jose Raul Capablanca. Yet these days very few people will touch it.

Why is this? I believe that it’s largely a question of fashion. People don’t play it and then seem to need to justify why they don’t play it by giving various reasons (too passive, cramped etc.). But when I look at the positions and the supposedly good lines for White it doesn’t look that clear.

I’m not the only one to think so. The Argentinian GM, Daniel Campora, has been playing it for years with 2500+ results for Black, not far from his overall rating (with White and Black). That’s a pretty good performance, plus he’ll have a better quality of life through not having to study the latest theory for 5 or more hours a day!

Looking at Campora’s games with the Steinitz he won a lot of them in the endgame. But there’s also this one, a miniature against very a strong player.

Nigel Davies

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About NigelD

Nigel Davies is an International Chess Grandmaster living in Southport in the UK. The winner of 15 international tournaments he is also a former British U21 and British Open Quickplay Champion and has represented both England and Wales on several occasions. These days Nigel teaches chess through his chess training web site, Tiger Chess, which has articles, recommendations, a monthly clinic, videos and courses. His students include his 15 year old son Sam who is making rapid progress with his game. Besides teaching chess, Nigel is a registered tai chi and qigong instructor and runs several weekly classes.