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Scandinavian Defense

  • Last updated on 6/24/14, 6:21 AM.

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The Scandinavian Defense (also known as the Center Counter) is the chess opening characterized by the first moves 1.e4 d5. At first characterized as a beginner's move, it has recently been revived, with several GM's trying it. Although the Scandinavian is not played as much by grandmasters, it is generally considered to be an opening that is easy to learn and worth trying out for beginners and club level players. 

Main variations

After 1. e4 d5, white usually continues with 2. exd5 when there is a major split between two choices for black. After 2... Qxd5, white usually continues 3. Nc3 when there is again a split between the popular 3... Qa5 and 3... Qd6 and some minor alternatives such as 3... Qe5+ and 3... Qd8.

The variation 3... Qa5 is considered the classical main line. It has enjoyed steady popularity at club level throughout the years, but it has not been played by grandmasters a lot. One famous example of this variation being used in top level chess is the game Kasparov vs. Anand in their match in 1995, in which Anand managed to get a good position out of the opening as black but still lost.

The other variation, 3... Qd6, has enjoyed a big increase in popularity lately. Not only are club players attracted to its dynamic and refreshing nature, but also some grandmasters such as GM Sergei Tiviakov play this variation regularly. Even former World Champion GM Vladimir Kramnik tried this variation at the 2009 World Blitz Championship, where he used it in 14 of his 21 black games, scoring 4 wins, 3 draws and 7 losses.

Instead of 2... Qxd5, black has also p, also known as the Marshall Gambit. Black intends to capture on d5 with the knight instead of the queen. Some common subvariations are 3. c4 c6 4. d4 cxd5 (transposing to the Panov-Botvinnik attack of the Caro-Kann), 3. c4 e6!? (known as the Icelandic Gambit), 3. Nc3 (transposing to a variation of the Alekhine's Defense), 3. d4 Bg4?! (the Portuguese variation), and 3. d4 Nxd5 is generally considered to be the main line.

After 1.e4 d5, White can also play 2.e5 or 2.Nc3. This is not recommended because white fails to gain any advantage.

Some statistics

After 1. e4, the move 1... d5 is the 8th most played move in the Chess.com Master Games database. Out of the nearly 600,000 games beginning with 1. e4, only 2% of the games (almost 13,000 games) continues with 1... d5. In those games, white has scored roughly 43% wins, 30% draws and 27% losses.

After 1... d5, nearly all of the games in the database saw white playing 2. exd5. Then 57% of the games continued 2... Qxd5, and about 43% of all black players chose 2... Nf6. In the games with 2... Qxd5, nearly all of the white players played 3. Nc3. After this 70% of the black players chose 3... Qa5, while 22% chose to play 3... Qd6.

Literature

Since the Scandinavian is not as popular as openings like the Sicilian Defense, not many books and DVDs on the Scandinavian have appeared over the years. However, since the theory of the Scandinavian does not develop so quickly, older works on the Scandinavian may still be useful, since most of the theoretic assessments still hold. 

Below is a list with the books published on the Scandinavian by the most renowned chess book publishers, such as Everyman Chess, Gambit Chess, ChessBase and Russell Enterprises.

  • Starting Out: The Scandinavian by Jovanka Houska (2009, 320p)
  • The Scandinavian: The Dynamic 3... Qd6 by Michael Melts (2001, 214p)
  • The Scandinavian: The Dynamic 3... Qd6 (2nd ed.) by Michael Melts (2009, 301p)
  • The Scandinavian (2nd ed.) by John Emms (2004, 160p)
  • The Scandinavian - The Easy Way by Andrew Martin (2004, DVD)
  • The Scandinavian - The Easy Way (2nd ed.) by Andrew Martin (2009, DVD)
  • The Scandinavin Defencapple of an elephant ial Center Counter by Andrew Martin (2004, 141p)

Comments


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #21

    Lord-Svenstikov

    "- 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Nf3 Qxd5?! 4. Nc3 Qh5? doesn't look optimal either. The idea of 2... Nf6 is to keep the position dynamic and take on d5 with the knight."

    Now I disagree on you with this one. It is a very good opening and I have played it at high club level successfully. In fact it is one of my chess couch's favourite openings. The principle is to get the bishop to g6 then after white plays o-o and h6 then a bishop sacrifice opens up the king's side.

    I know a lot of the white moves in this are a bit iffy to say the least, but they are all things that people have played against me.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #22

    jazzEnigma

    Brattboy23, 'mistakes' like that costs you the game! I am not trying to crucify you friend, however that is the nature of the BEAST we call CHESS. She's like Angelina Jolie's character "Grendel's Mother", in "Beowulf". She gives you the world for the price of your soul.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #23

    Skillz88

    in his defense he only wrote the moves wrong, he wouldnt do dat in a proper game Undecided would he??

    and yeh, the scandanavian defense is always my reply to 1... e4, if he plays

    2. Nc3 is 2... e5 a good move???

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #24

    aMI

    cool
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #25

    Phobetor

    Lord, first of all it only works if white plays 2. Nf3?, which is a bad move. It does nothing to either protect the pawn or to get a stake in the center. But if white plays 2. Nf3 after all, I still think Nxd5 is better. Like I said, it's more dynamic. If you prefer the "Queen takes"-variations of the Scandinavian, then you may want to play 3... Qxd5, but then I wonder why you didn't play 2... Qxd5 right away.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #26

    BruiserMac

    It is playable and can be lethal!
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #27

    babatee

    sure
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #28

    jonathanwesterberg

    I think that scandinavian opening is bad beacuse white is better in almost every variation.

    It is just lazy people using it.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #29

    Skillz88

    that is so wrong in so many ways... how is white better here

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #30

    Lord-Svenstikov

    He's right. People play that all the time.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #31

    kurtgodden

    I have a book on the Scandanavian, but haven't studied it yet.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #32

    kurtgodden

    p.s.  Several people have played it against me here on chess.com.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #33

    Nalikill

    Because that's not Scandinavian, Skillz. That's... some other opening, but not scandinavian. Scandinavian is characterized, at the very minimum, by 1. e4 d5 2.exd5.
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #34

    scandinaviandefense

    Here is a trap in the 2. Nc3 variation:


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #35

    Skillz88

    kool Chesslover96... 

    and i am sorry Nalikill, it is the scandanavian...

    it is simply a variation of the scandanavian, whenever some1 plays 1... d5 it is the scandanavian defense

    PS. i do not play the Scanadanvian Defense anymore, i now play the Sicilian... i havent got that many wins with black in reality but i hope this doesnt discourage ppl to play it... it is very useful up to club level!!


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #36

    bigmac30

    foxey openings have something called center counter carnage with im Andrew martin you should watch it
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #37

    chessfanforlife

    try the petrov's allot....
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #38

    leonelcm

    In my chess experience, I don't use it, I rather Petrof's defense. I'vo won many chess games when my opponents uses Scandinavian, I think I've won those games 'cause they don't know how to use Scandinavian. I experienced that if my opponent goes for material gaining at the very begining in Scandinavian´s, I'll win because of my pieces development...
  • 7 years ago · Quote · #39

    drew_kennon

    thanks

     


  • 7 years ago · Quote · #40

    dezigner

    thank u .. very useful

     


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