Chess openings – Scandinavian Defence

Welcome back to Chess In today’s
video, we’ll take a look at the Scandinavian Opening, which begins with the moves, pawn
to e4 and pawn to d5. With the move pawn to d5, Black immediately challenges White’s central
pawn on e4, and also creates opportunities for his light-squared Bishop to get developed. In most cases as well, Black will have an
opportunity to bring his Queen to a somewhat active post. On the flipside, White has no
real difficulty in grabbing a quick and early development advantage. Also, even though White
finds it necessary to trade off his e-pawn early in the game, he often experiences no
real difficulty in placing his d-pawn on the fourth rank. We’ll get a chance to ponder
all of the implications of these small strategic nuances today. Let’s take a look. Black’s move, pawn to d5, kicks off the Scandinavian
Defense. White’s almost universal reply is pawn takes panw on d5. Black has 2 ways to
go about recovering the pawn: The main method is simply to play Qd5, leaving the Queen vulnerable
to the move, Nc3, which is in fact often played, and does gain some time for White’s development.
Nevertheless, Black gains a somewhat active square for the Queen, either by Qa5 or the
recently common and interesting move, Qd6. Black may also argue that despite his losing
the tempo in replying Nc3, the Knight may be placed just a little bit clumsily. Ideally,
White would have preferred to play the moves pawn to d4 and pawn c4, prior to playing the
move Kc3. Let’s back up for a moment, and take a look at another possibility for Black,
which begins with the move Nf6. With the alternative treatment of Nf6, Black
aims to recapture the pawn with the Knight. One of the attractive features of this move
is that if White tries to hold onto the pawn with the move pawn to c4, this opens the way
for a potential gambit with the move pawn to e6, pawn takes pawn, and Bxe6, whereupon
the development of the Be6, and the pawn Nf6, gives quite a bit of compensation for the
pawn and excellent attacking chances. Another possibility for Black would also be to play
pawn to c6, which also leads to a fair game. White does not need to hang onto the pawn
fiercely in this manner. Instead, it is quite possible for him to continue more quietly
with the move pawn to d4; this has been shown to be quite an effective approach. After Black’s
planned recapture, Nxd5, White only now plays the move pawnt to c4, this time, simply gaining
time at the Knight’s expense. After the frequent moves, Nb6 and Nf3, it is true that Black
has created some new options for himself, due to the Nb6. For example, a common approach
here is pawn to g6, making use of the Bishop’s free scope along the diagonal to pressure
the center and develop the pieces in a more imbalanced way. However, White’s central space
and the Knight’s awkward placement on b6 often allow White to seize a significant advantage
out of the opening. Thus, from Black’s point of view, the most
solid move is Qxd5. Now White normally continues Nc3, gaining a juicy tempo at the Queen’s
expense. At this moment, Black has 2 options about where to place the Queen: The most traditional
move has been Qa5 overtime, but another recently popular idea is also Qd6. We’ll spend the
video today looking at Qa5, which is the most traditional and still the most popular approach
in this position. White now continues pawn to d4. While it is
evident that White has a little extra space in the center, it may be difficult to understand
at first glance how White can make any use of this. Black has no real weaknesses in his
position, and as we’ll see in a moment, he doesn’t experience too many problems in developing
his pieces. However, the centralized pawn on d4 does confer to White some important
benefits: In the first place, Black’s e-pawn is deprived of its most attractive location
on the e5 square. Though the move pawn to e5 would be in the same spirit as the initial
move of the Scandinavian pawn to d5, here, Black simply doesn’t have enough time and
White would have a significant advantage after either pawn takes pawn on e5, or the even
stronger move, Nf3. After the standard developing moves Nf6 and
Nf3, Black can no longer dream about bringing a pawn to the e5 square. At the same time,
the pawn on d4 helps to create an outpost for the Knight on the e5 square. This will
come in handy as the Knight itself will be helpful in gaining some attacking chances.
Also, by releasing the f-pawn, which is behind the Knight currently, the kingside pawn majority
will also gain some flexibility at a later stage in the game. Another way that White tends to gain an upper
hand in the Scandinavian is by sometimes capturing the Bishops which Black finds active squares
for at a later stage. This is a common occurrence in the openings for Black that quite frankly,
when he finds active squares for his Bishops, he may find that they are also vulnerable.
For Black’s part the will simply want to continue his development. Play normally continues with
the move paen to c6. This is a solid move which has among its purposes, the creation
of flight squares for the Queen. It is quite typical to find the needing the insertion
of the move c7 to c6, since later, after White plays the move Bd2, the Queen may find herself
needing the flight squares, either on c7 or d8. Now White’s follow-up of choice here has been
the move Bc4. Since White knows that the mobility of his kingside pawns may later play a role,
he often ensures that his development scheme supports him in castling his King on the Queen
side. This is one reason to move the Bc4, leaving the e2 square as an attractive square
for the Queen. The Bishop also makes an important contribution in attacking along the a2 to
g8 diagonal, which will be felt over the next several moves. From here, ordinarily, Black plays the move
Bf5. It may appear tempting to try the move Bg4 instead, but here, practice indicates
that White gains an advantage by gaining the Bishop pair. He does this by means of playing
h3, Bh5, pawn to g4, Bg6, and then Ne5, and then capturing the Bishop over the next few
moves. In this position, since White is very likely to castle onto the queenside, the movement
of the kingside pawns is actually quite legitimate and may even constitute a gain of time if
White expands the pawns forward at a later time. By the way, it may appear that after
the move Bg4, White has the tactic; Bxf7+, Nxf7, and now Ne5+. Here, White would be in
for a rude awakening after the move Qe5+, pawn takes Queen, and Bxd1. When despite the
fact that White has 2 pieces available for capture, he will still remain down a piece. Thus, instead of Bg4, Bf5 is a bit more logical
and has been played more frequently. Play continues naturally with the move Bd2; and
while it’s true that the Bishop is now eyeing the Queen for discovery attack, as of yet,
White doesn’t have any particularly powerful method of exploiting this fact. Therefore,
the move e6 has been played, simply continuing to develop by opening the way for the f8 Bishop. In cases were Black has modestly retreated
the Qc7 instead, White has typically used the extra time to again pursue the Bishop
pair and extra space, with the move Ne5, which attacks the f7; pawn to e6, g4, Bg6, and now
often the move pawn to h4, with an advantage. Thus, the move pawn to e6 not only contributes
to Black’s development, but it also blunts the Bishop’s trajectory on c4, and thereby,
solidifies Black’s position. There follows now the move Qe2, preparing the way for queenside
castling. From here, it is quite common for play to continue, Bb4, when after castling
queenside, White often eventually plays a2 to a3, netting the Bishop pair and maintaining
an opening initiative. The move Qe2 contains a hidden threat, as
well. If White was able to violate the rules of the game and move a second time consecutively,
he would then have the excellent tactical shot pawn to d5; when right away, the dogpile
on the e6 pawn has serious consequences immediately. If Black is willing to play C takes d5, it
appears that he has escaped most of the difficulty, but in fact after this simple move Bb5+, there’s
no healthy way for Black to deal with this simple check. If he plays the move Nc6, White
would then play Nd4, attacking both the Knight on c6 and also the Bishop on f5, due to the
pin given by the Queen. After the natural move castling queenside which appears to handle
both threats effectively, White would simply win material with Bc6, Bc6, and Nc6l forking
both the Queen and the rook. Another attempt in place of Nc6 could be Nd7.
Here, White is ready to deliver the powerful move Nd5, bringing the Queen on a5 under attack,
regaining the pawn, and developing decisive threats. After Qd8 which is the only safe
square for the Queen, White wins more material after simply playing Ne5. Threatening to play
Knight takes up 6 check, and then followed by capturing on d7. The only move which even
comes close to defending the position is e takes d5, but there are numerous ways for
White to win after this move, the simplest being Nc6+, winning the Queen. It turns out that either entry position by
the Nb8 causes problems, and the other moves also do not work. If Black plays Knight F
to d7, he will still succumb to various threats after Nxd5, Qd8, and then Bf4, with an unstoppable
threat on the c7 square. Also, if Black were to try the move Nd8, then after Nxd5, he would
actually find the Queen on a5 trapped without an escape square. It turns out that after the move Qe2, White
is threatening a 1-2-3 punch of pawn to d5, and then after the natural C takes c5, Bb5+,
that’s 2, Nxd5, that’s 3, which is also made possible by the Bishop’s placement on b5,
since it cuts off the rank from the Queen. This tactical punch helps explain why White
is comfortable leaving the c2 pawn hanging in this position. The move Bc2 also leads
to disaster after the powerful move, pawn to d5. Interestingly enough, the otherwise seemingly
natural move, Knight B to d7 also encounters difficulties after the move pawn to d5, C
takes d5, and Nxd5. The exchange of pawns on d5 still gives White considerable direct
tactical pressure on Black’s position. These situations are not immediately winning for
White, but still offer excellent play, with one example line continuing, Qd8, Nxf6+, Qxf6,
and castling queenside, when Black is still barred from castling thanks to the move Bg5.
White has a very strong threat to simply play the move Bb5, followed by great chances to
win material, let’s say, because of Bc3 or Ne5 as well. All of this helps to explain the necessity
of Black addressing the threat of d4 to d5, and this is why Black generally plays a timely
move, Bb4 here, leading quite often to an eventual loss of the Bishop pair after castling
queenside, Knight B d7, and a3. Yet, Black can still claim to have a solid position with
adequate development. These positions appear to offer White a slight advantage. That’s all for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed
some of the twists and turns in this video on the Scandinavian Defense. We’ll see you

50 thoughts on “Chess openings – Scandinavian Defence

  1. A great chess opening video once again, Dereque! Your chess lessons are always helpful, clear and colorful. I always look for an opening first that is taught by you. I hope you can make time for more chess opening video lessons on Youtube! Could you please, if you do create new chess videos, have the black openings from the black player's perspective, Dereque? It makes it readily understood for us mere mortals. Thank you, oh great chess master and teacher with that winning smile. Do you flash that smile on your opponent as soon as you win a game? Happy New Year 2016, and the best of success n' health for you, Dereque!

  2. It looks to me that the Scandinavian is not a good opening for black, seeing the pawn structure I prefer playing Caro-Kann then.

  3. Hi Dereque! Your youtube material has been a huge influence on my game. Even the videos on openings that I don't currently use have helped me to think about the game and the opening in ways that I previously did not.

    I think that there is quite a bit more Scandinavian material that could be covered if you ever do make more opening videos. I've noticed that almost all youtube content covers 3… Qa5 and sometimes 2… Nf6, but only mentions 3… Qd6 as an interesting alternative and never even bothers with 3… Qd8 at all, despite the fact that both are completely viable and possibly even better choices! In any case, the character of the game is completely different if white isn't using Bd2 to threaten d4-d5.

    There are even numerous other lines than 3. Nc3, where white seems to acknowledge that the blocked c-pawn represents adequate compensation for the tempo, and play revolves around white's quest to play c4 before Nc3 under advantageous circumstances, where Black must play very vigorously to avoid being overrun. For instance, after 3. Nf3, 3… Bg4 4.Be2 Nc6 5.d4 O‑O‑O is almost the main line in most databases, and Black has a fine evaluation and score from that position.

    Again, thanks for making this channel. Cheers,

  4. 3:44 what if Qe6 or Qe5? I always get checked here and end up getting material picked off and or pinned by the queen early. How do I counter this?

  5. Great video well explained! but what I do if white push the pawn to e5? and are there traps in black favor in this opening?

  6. In the variation where black plays Nd7 to block the check from Bb5 – can't Black just capture the knight on d5 with the knight instead of the pawn? Love you'r videoes by the Way!

  7. I know a lot of people say this, but ypur videos are the best. Every time i am looking for an opening, i go to your channel first to see if theres a vid about it, and only after it i check the internet. Keep uploading good opening videos and variations.

  8. 06:55 if he plays this move Bg4 one move earlier (without c6), is it also ok to reply h3 and g4 then? in this position, the tactic with Ne5 works- that's no question. but could this have any long-term consequences, which a beginner might miss? you can also understand this as a general question: how careful do I have to be with converting theory in chess?

  9. Hello brother , there's a wrong in 8.Qe2 + d5 at the same time, when you explain the idea of d5 you didn't make the move 8…Bb4

  10. I find it more strategic whenever I move e4 and my opponent plays the Scandinavian defense d5, to just simply advance my pond to e5.

  11. At 9:05, doesn't moving the queen drop c2? I can't see how white could punish Bxc2 :/ I'm probably overlooking something.

    EDIT: I was! The answer to my question is d5 !! completely overlooked that.

  12. You're very knowledgeable but you're all over the place! I couldn't keep up with you it's just too much for some 1 like myself who is novice in chest! You're talking as if we're all on your level of chess! If you would learn to take your time and talk in an novice way but still come across in an advanced way I would give this video a thumbs up! You're very knowledgeable but my only critic of you is it's too much all at once!

  13. I've been using a kamikaze variation of the Scandinavian with the Queen to e5 after taking pawn. It generally creates awkward position for white and allows black to develop and position for a kingside attack. Anyone familiar with this variation?

  14. In my opinion, this defense is 100% losing for Black unless Black plays the Icelandic Gambit. There's just no other way to turn the offered Queen's pawn into an advantage, it only makes sense to aim for quick development, and the knight and bishop combination in the Icelandic Gambit is absolutely deadly.

  15. Excellent video, thanks. There's only so much one can cover in one video, so I'd like to see more on this. The option of taking w/ queen then moving the black queen to a5 seems aggressive but fraught with traps. I prefer a solider position as black. So I'd like to see an exploration of other lines like Nc6.
    ps. For those who say the Scandinavian is not sound and isn't played at the highest levels much, I say: "thanks. I'll stop playing it when I end up facing a lot of IMs." When playing lower rated players, it is a good strategy for breaking them out of their opening book.

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