A Double Shot of Scotch

A Double Shot of Scotch

| 12 | Strategy

In my last tournament, the SPICE Cup in Texas, I had 4 blacks out of 9 games. The first 3 blacks I had all saw my opponents open with 1.e4 (I wrote about the first game last week, at While I've normally been a French player for a long time, I've branched out by including 1...e5 into my repertoire again and that's what I chose in all 3 of my games in Texas.

One of the important things I've found when trying to learn a new opening is not just to study the basic theoretical moves. It's important to see complete games to get a sense of what kind of middlegames and endgames arise. The Scotch is one opening where a number of the main lines transition directly from the opening to the endgame. Decisions made in the opening usually carry over into the ensuing phases of the game, so putting the phases of the game into separate bins and only studying the opening part doesn't give you a proper foundation for playing the positions later on.

In both these games, I was a little surprised by my opponents' decisions to play the Scotch against me. It wasn't a total shock, but I had been expecting something else. Thus, while I hadn't spent a lot of time reviewing the exact theory in these games, I had absorbed enough of the moves and the general ideas to make the right decisions come game-time. I'm going to present the games in the opposite order they were played to make some general points.

And for those of you hoping for some Macallan to appear next to your keyboard ... sorry to disappoint. Maybe next week.

From my two games with Rensch in this line, it's clear what Black's "compensation" is for the doubled pawns he takes on in the endgame. He has to rely on piece activity and the strange placement of some of White's pieces, along with breaks using his f-pawns.

Although I hadn't played this game when I played Antal, I did have the experience from that December 2008 game where I learned those things (it was only in September 2009 that I applied them!). The result of the opening was a bit less theoretical, but it worked out quite well for me.

Question 1: What would you play for Black after 11.Bg5?

Question 2: What would you play for Black after 18.Kb1?


Question 3: What would you play for Black after 20.Ka1?

And here's the entire Antal game in one viewer:

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