Castling queenside in the Ruy Lopez with Sergei Tiviakov

February 21, 2016 Matthew Sadler No comments exist

One of my favourite chapters in Chess for Life (a new book I co-authored with WIM Natasha Regan – see the books section on this blog for more details) is dedicated to the analysis of the Black opening repertory of Russian Grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov, in particular his use of the 3…Qd6 Scandinavian (1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6). This has been Sergei’s exclusive choice against 1.e4 for the past 10 years and has served him amazingly well at all levels of the game. In Chess for Life we explain how Sergei – despite sticking to a consistent repertory for many years – still manages to remain unpredictable and difficult to prepare for!

Sergei tends to think in terms of opening schemes rather than specific openings. A good example of this is his White repertory against 1.e4 e5 in which he has built up enormous experience in slow Italian or Lopez systems such as the Qe2 Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf5 5.Qe2 or after 5.0-0 Be7 6.Qe2). It’s a system which I’ve played quite a lot since I came back to chess in 2010 so I was extremely interested to see a Chessbase DVD by him entitled “Attacking with the Italian Game and the Ruy Lopez”. In this DVD Sergei explains how he treats the opening using examples from his enormous practical experience.

Sergei introduces several interesting attacking themes in his DVD and one in particular caught my eye: the theme of castling queenside in the Ruy Lopez. The most famous example of castling queenside in the Ruy Lopez has to be the classic game Steinitz-Chigorin. Just sit back and enjoy!


Steinitz – Chigorin World Championship 1892

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.d3 d6 5.c3 g6 6.Nbd2 Bg7 7.Nf1 0–0 8.Ba4 Nd7 9.Ne3 Nc5 10.Bc2 Ne6 11.h4 Ne7 12.h5 d5 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Nxd5 Qxd5 16.Bb3 Qc6 17.Qe2 Bd7 18.Be3 Kh8 19.0–0–0


Steinitz-Chigorin World Championship Match 1892, after White's 19th move 19.0-0-0
Steinitz-Chigorin World Championship Match 1892, after White’s 19th move 19.0-0-0

19…Rae8 20.Qf1 a5 21.d4 exd4 22.Nxd4 Bxd4 23.Rxd4 Nxd4 24.Rxh7+ Kxh7 25.Qh1+ Kg7 26.Bh6+ Kf6 27.Qh4+ Ke5 28.Qxd4+




I was incredibly pleased with myself when I managed to castle queenside against the Norwegian player Danny Kovachev at the 2011 Oslo Open. I look at this game in some detail in my book “Study Chess with Matthew Sadler”. I was willing to give any number of pawns away to open lines and clear a path to the opponent’s king!


Sadler – Kovachev Oslo 2011



20.0–0–0 Nh7 21.Bd2 f5 22.g4 fxg4





Aaah, I still love that move! I don’t want to exchange queens: I want the h-file open!


23…gxh3 24.d4


And now the b1–h7 diagonal! Bc2 is coming!


24…d5 25.Qxe5 Bc7 26.Qh5 h2 27.f4 Rxf4 28.Qxh2 g5 29.Qh6 Rf7 30.Bxg5


That’s what I was looking for!


30…Qd6 31.Qh5 Qd7 32.Bc2 Raf8 33.Bf6+ Rxf6 34.Qxh7+




My pride in this (unusual – or so I thought) concept was rather tempered when I watched Sergei’s DVD and calculated that in my database he’d castled queenside 26 times in the Ruy Lopez! And he‘s had some great games too! Take a look at this one which Sergei discusses at length in his DVD:


Tiviakov – Buhmann Pfalz open 2009


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.c3 a6 6.Bb3 Ba7 7.h3 d6 8.Nbd2 0–0 9.Nf1 d5 10.Qe2 Be6 11.Bc2 dxe4 12.dxe4 Nh5 13.g3 h6 14.Ne3 b5 15.Nh4 Nf6 16.Nhf5 Ne7 17.g4 Ng6 18.Ng2 Nd7 19.h4 Nc5 20.Qf3 Re8 21.Bd2 c6 22.b3 a5



23.0–0–0 a4 24.Bxh6 Qb6 25.Nxg7 axb3 26.Nxe8 bxa2 27.Nf6+ Kh8 28.Kd2 Nf4 29.Nxf4 exf4 30.Qxf4 Bc4 31.Ke1 Rd8 32.Ra1 Qa5 33.Nd5




Well, it will take a while but I might as well start trying to catch up now! At least after the recent 4NCL in February, the score is now 26-2 as I managed to castle queenside in my Saturday game against the young English IM James Adair!


Sadler – Adair 4NCL 2016



Black’s opening has gone rather wrong and the only thing White has to watch out for is the trick …Nd4, cxd4 …exd4 opening the e-file. It’s time to get the White king out of the centre.

17.0–0–0 Qe6 18.Nd2 Bf8 19.Qf3 Nh7 20.Bb3 Qd7 21.Ne4 Nd8 22.d4


White’s attack really plays itself. This move completes the activation of all White’s pieces. Black cannot resist against so much firepower


22…Ne6 23.dxe5 Qc6 24.Bf6 Kh8 25.Qg4 Nxf6 26.Nxf6




Just 24 more to go!


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