Russian challenger Ian Nepomniachtchi started the first game against reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway with an opening played by many modern top grandmasters. The moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 form the Ruy Lopez opening (also known as ‘the Spanish’).
While today’s supercomputers verify it as one of the best ways to begin, this sequence of moves is by no means new.
It is named after 16th century priest Rodrigo ‘Ruy’ López de Segura, whose book Libro de la invencion liberal y arte del juego del axedrez (Book of the liberal invention and art of the game of chess) was one of the first published about modern chess in Europe. Dating from 1561, it contains a discussion of chess history and the game’s rules along with some openings – including the one that now bears his name (although he did not invent it).
A rare first edition of this work came up for auction the day after Nepomniachtchi and Carlsen had sat down for game one of their match.
Estimated at €1200 at German auction house Antiquariat A Klittich-Pfankuch in Braunschweig on November 27, it sold for €8000/£6800 (plus 15% buyer’s premium).
The item came from the Lothar Schmid (1928-2013) collection. Schmid was a grandmaster and known for having possibly the largest private chess library in the world, as well as a collection of chess art and chess sets.
He never played in a world championship match himself but he was the chief arbiter for three of them: Fischer-Spassky 1972, Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 and Kasparov-Karpov 1986.