The Ruy Lopez symmetrical center is a structure that comes from the Ruy Lopez tense center, after White has played the pawn exchange dxe5 dxe5.
Central formations with a symmetrical center are much less complicated than the Ruy Lopez closed center or the Ruy Lopez mobile center. The fact that the e pawns block each other simplifies the position and reduces both sides’ options when it comes to central and queenside play.
It will no longer be possible to complicate matters in the center or to advance queenside majorities. Things are switching to kingside play. With the exception of the open d file, which both sides will share, the action is switching to the kingside.
This formation is, along with being simpler to navigate, much more likely to lead to trades and simplifications which can result in a draw. The open d file is a magnet for rook trades, for example.
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d5 versus d4
The biggest feature of these types of centers is the difference between the security of the d5 and d4 squares.
For black, things are made much more difficult because of his early advance to b5.
d3 versus d6
White has his own weaknesses. Black can often try to employ a strategy similar to what white does against the d5 square. By advancing the pawn to c5, black can try to advance further, to c4, or he will induce a weakness from white in the form of b3.
On d3, the Knight will prove how powerful a Knight on the sixth rank is.
Never play f6 ?
These symmetrical pawn centers call for desperate measures. This is not really a strategic plan, but it has to be pointed out. The weakness of the e pawns is an issue for both sides.
The symmetrical structure is certainly less complex than the other Ruy Lopez pawn structures, hence this rather short article.
We have two interesting pawn structures to see now: the Marshall pawn center and the Exchange pawn center.