09 March 2011

Ruy Lopez!

In the ChessBase database of 4.8 million games. more than 400 thousand reach this position:

In nearly half of these games White played 3.Bb5. The second most popular move 3.Bc4 (the Italian opening) has 95 thousand fewer games.

No opening is more popular than the Ruy Lopez, or Spanish as it is known in some circles.*

Edit: It has been pointed out to me, correctly, that the Sicilian Defense is more popular than the Spanish Opening. The Sicilian's popularity begins in the late nineteenth century.


  1. Do you consider the Sicilian Defense to be "an opening" or a system of many different openings (Najdorf, Dragon, etc)? There are definitely more Sicilian games played than Ruy Lopez games, but the Ruy may beat out any particular named variety of Sicilian.


  2. Thanks for the correction, Hank. After 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 (not White's only continuation, but the best and most popular), Black's third most popular choice 2...e6 has fewer games than the Ruy Lopez. Both 2...d6 (nearly three hundred thousand games) and 2...Nc6 (more than a quarter million) are more popular than the Spanish.