My 1.e4 e5 journey began in 2007, when I finally understood that the French Defence was no longer my cup of tea. I really enjoyed analyzing the classical positions with my trainer, GM Peter Lukacs, and despite starting out with lines such as the Chigorin arising from 5...Be7, in other variations such as the Italian or Scotch I used to like putting my bishop on the active c5-square. During those early days, though, The Ark just felt too distant. Fast-forwarding to 2013, when I had my peak rating of 2661, and I was asked to play on first board for the Hungarian national team for the first time ever! I thought I was in a need of something fresh against the Ruy Lopez, and I finally felt I was ready for the challenge and started preparing The Ark for that very tournament! This exciting defence, which is characterized by the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 b5 6. Bb3 Bc5, always amazed me. Quite an aggressive setup, Black is aiming to get very dynamic play (even at the cost of some material in many cases) in order to put a lot of pressure on White players as early as possible! No wonder that great, ambitious players such as Anand, Shirov, and Caruana, just to name of a few, like to employ it regularly. The variation also gained some attention at the Carlsen-Karjakin world championship match from 2016.
The Ark has always been considered one of the theoretically-heaviest defences in meeting the Ruy Lopez, though also the most exciting and definitely the most beautiful of all. It requires tactical vision, good calculation and memory, but not just from us – from the White side too. Let’s not forget that! I also must say that no good lines are absent of theory, so if we’ve decided to learn something “finally”, I argue that it can very well be an ambitious, double-edged line too!