Scotch or Scotch Gambit?

Mar 2, 2012, 3:40 PM |

I used to play Scotch Gambit as white a lot in my early years. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 - with some success against school level and weak club players. Another one with an easy recipe for success: develop pieces, make a big tactical mess in the middle, opponent makes a mistake, pick up the quick mate or the quick material gain with the swap-swap-swap win the endgame sort of formula.

Against higher level players who will omit step 3 I often found I was making the tactical error, or ending up in a poor endgame position.

So, I changed to Scotch Game for a while. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4

Some interesting stuff in the Scotch. Yelena Dembo has a nice book about it and the Sam Collins "An Attacking Repertoire for White" encourages the Scotch Game as the white default for 1.e4 e5 (when black doesn't play Philador/Petroff/other 2nd move variations) instead of Ruy Lopez

Some interesting games with the Scotch too

But having run up against some people dead set keen on playing the Mieses variation and giving me this R+B+N vs 2R and a bunch of pawns set up I am having second thoughts about Scotch Game and am tempted to return to Scotch Gambit a la Lev Alburt / Roman Dzindzichashvili where they use it to get into favourable lines of Giuoco Piano or Two Knight's Defense.

Here's one of the Mieses var games

Going through Yelena Dembo's book on the Scotch Game, there are a bunch of variations from about move 12 with black castling short or long but many terminate something approximating this situation at move 18 where black has 2 rooks and a mass of central pawns they need to shepherd down the board. White has a R, N and LSB and a pair of Q-side pawns that can be wangled through the Q-side gauntlet. White is down 2 pawns! Yet Sam Collins thinks white's position is better. Certainly it's not something I'd want to play in a blitz game.