Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...d5

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Scandinavian Defence
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)
Moves: 1. e4 d5
ECO code: B01
Parent: King's Pawn Opening

1... d5 - Scandinavian Defence[edit | edit source]

The Scandinavian Defense (or Centre Counter Defense) is one of the oldest chess openings, dating back the 16th century. This opening tries to break White's centre and stop white from taking control. The Scandinavian defense is Black's 7th most popular response to 1.e4 and grandmasters such as Magnus Carlsen occasionally play this move in tournaments. White has a few possible replies:

This is White's strongest reply, and exposes chief drawback of the Scandinavian Defense: in order to recover the pawn (while not mandatory) Black must now bring out his queen providing White with a target to attack. This was considered enough of a problem to put the opening out of business for much of the mid-20th century. However, modern players are a little more comfortable breaking the rules, and the Scandinavian has enjoyed some modern popularity.

  • 2. d4 transposes to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. If Black prefers to decline the gambit, he can steer the game into the French, Caro-Kann, or Nimzovich Defenses.

White can defend the pawn, but not comfortably:

  • 2. Nc3 is playable; it generally leads to the knight getting kicked with 2... d4 and retreating to e2 with a position that can develop into a reversed Kings Indian. It generally leads to strategic and maneuvering game where white hopes to strike with f4 or even play Nf5 if Ng3 is ever played, eventually trying to use pawn breaks to ruin black's center. A lesser option for Black is 2... dxe4, which generally leads to more open positions. Both options are just fine for either side.
  • 2. d3 and Black will gleefully exchange pawns, then queens, and White loses the right to castle (but this does lead to a rather drawish endgame), although after 2... dxe4, White can play the interesting 3. Nc3.
  • 2. c3, the Plano Gambit, allows White to regain the pawn after 2... dxe4 3. Qa4+, but wastes time and does not help development.
  • 2. g4 is called the Zilbermints Gambit.
  • 2. b4 is also called the Zilbermints Gambit.
  • 2. e5 is occasionally seen. Only occasionally, because Black has now has an opportunity to develop his queens bishop to somewhere useful before playing the natural e6, thus negating the main weakness of the French Defence which it resembles.
  • 2. h3 aims for a reversed Englund Gambit.
  • 2. Bd3 blocks White's d-pawn, shuts the d3-bishop in with the e-pawn and needlessly weakens g2, so now White will not have the possibility of capturing the d5 pawn because Qxd5 will threaten the g2-pawn. Black will play dxe4 followed by Nf6, gaining a tempo on the bishop.
  • 2. Nf3 (the Tennison Gambit) is a gambit seen in blitz chess. After 2... dxe4, 3. Ng5 follows. There is a well-known trap here after 3... Nf6?! (3... Bf5! or 3... e5! are better) 4. d3?! (4. Bc4 is better) exd3 5. Bxd3 h6?? (5... Nc6!, and white doesn't get any compensation for the pawn) 6. Nxf7! Kxf7 7. Bg6+! Kxg6 8. Qxd8, and white is completely winning. However, there are multiple ways to avoid this trap. Therefore, the gambit is generally quite rare in high-level play.

Due to this, the Scandinavian is arguably the most "forcing" response from black against 1. e4, but white gets plenty of options and development in the resulting middlegame. Nonetheless, the Scandinavian is a solid option for fans of the Caro-Kann (for example).

Theory table[edit | edit source]

For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation.

1. e4 d5
2 3 4
Center Counter with 2... Nf6 exd5
Nf6
d4
Nxd5
Nf3
Bg4
+/=
Center Counter with 2... Qxd5 ...
Qxd5
Nc3
Qa5
d4
Nf6
+/=
Blackmar-Diemer Gambit d4?!
dxe4
Nc3
Nf6
f3
exf3
=/+
Caro-Kann Defence ...
c6
Nc3
dxe4
Nxe4
Bf5
=
French Defence ...
e6
Nc3
Bb4
e5
c5
=
Center Counter Nc3
d4
Nce2
e5
Nf3
Bd6
=
Advance Variatione5?!
c5
c3
Bf5
d4
Nc6
=
2. d3 Variationd3?!
dxe4
dxe4
Qxd1+
Kxd1
Nf6
=
Plano Gambitc3?!
dxc4
Qa4+
Nc6
Qxe4
Nf6
=/+
2. Bd3 VariationBd3?!
dxe4
Bxe4
Nf6
Bf3
e5!
=/+
Reversed Englundh3?!
dxe4
Nc3
Nf6
Qe2
Bf5
-/+
Tennison GambitNf3?!
dxe4
Ng5
e5!
Nxe4
f5!
=/+
Zilbermints Gambitb4?
dxe4
Nc3
Nf6
Bb2
e5!
-/+
Zilbermints Gambit #2g4?
e5!
exd5
Qxd5
Qf3
Qc5
-/+

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References[edit | edit source]

  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.