If you are starting to play the Ruy Lopez, you might find yourself asking why you can’t just take the e5 pawn on Move 5. See the diagram below.
The effects aren’t devastating if you take the pawn actually, at least not at lower levels of play. The main problem is that White lets Black equalize the game immediately. At high levels of play, this is a much bigger problem, but even at lower levels, we should be developing opening repertoires that put more pressure on Black, not less pressure.
As your rating moves up from beginner to intermediate, you won’t see White make the mistake of taking too quickly on e5, at least not too often. But just the other day, while I was waiting for the video in my previous post to finish publishing, I played a random game and, guess what, a 1600+ player played 5.Nxe5 (see analysis in the video below).
So if you are an Exchange Ruy Lopez player as White, check out the video to understand why not to take on e5. If you face the opening as Black, you’ll also want to know how to respond to this error so that you can immediately equalize and have an easier game than you would otherwise. It doesn’t mean that you are winning, but having a very slight edge out of the opening with Black is more than we can ask for, especially after just a few moves!