Ruy Lopez, Noah's Ark Trap

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a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
d7 black bishop
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
d6 black pawn
b5 black pawn
d5 white queen
c4 black pawn
e4 white pawn
b3 white bishop
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
e1 white king
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 11...c4. The white king bishop is trapped.

The Noah's Ark Trap is a chess opening trap in the Ruy Lopez. The name is actually used to describe a family of traps in the Ruy Lopez in which a white bishop is trapped on the b3-square by black pawns.


Discussion[edit]

The origin of the name is uncertain. The shape of the black pawns on a6, b5, and c4 may resemble an ark, or the name may suggest that the trap is "as old as Noah's Ark".

Even chess masters have occasionally fallen victim to this trap. An example is a game between Endre Steiner and José Capablanca at the Budapest tournament in 1929:[1]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. d4

Better moves for White are 5.c3, 5.Bxc6+, and 5.0-0.

5... b5 6. Bb3 Nxd4 7. Nxd4 exd4 8. Qxd4??

Alexander Alekhine recommended this move in the tournament book for New York 1924 as a means for White to draw, but it is a mistake that loses material. White should instead play 8.Bd5 or try a gambit with 8.c3.

8... c5 9. Qd5 Be6 10. Qc6+ Bd7 11. Qd5 c4 (see diagram)

The white king bishop is trapped. White resigned after 32 moves.

In the Sicilian[edit]

A variation of this trap can occur in the Sicilian Defense after the moves 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 (the Rossolimo Variation) a6 4.Ba4?? (4.Bxc6 is necessary and the point of 3.Bb5 itself) b5 5.Bb3 c4 (see diagram) and the bishop is similarly trapped.

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
c6 black knight
b5 black pawn
c4 black pawn
e4 white pawn
b3 white bishop
f3 white knight
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
h1 white rook
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 4.Ba4?? b5 5.Bb3 c4

References[edit]

Bibliography