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 9th 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. A lesser option for Black is 2... dxe4. Both are just fine for either side. However, it is easier for white to play for an advantage if white did play 2. exd5 instead.
  • 2. d3 and Black will gleefully exchange pawns, then queens, and White loses the right to castle, 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.
  • 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.

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
Center Counter with 2... Qxd5 ...
Blackmar-Diemer Gambit d4
Caro-Kann Defence ...
French Defence ...
Center Counter Nc3

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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.