The Solid Scandi and why I <3 it
It's kind of funny. I used to play the Sicilian against e4 and basically hope and pray my opponents didn't know the sharp mainlines where I would almost certainly get outplayed in the attacking tactical messes they produced. I think most people play the Sicilian hoping FOR that kind of game, but I played it as a bluff and well, it worked usually I guess.. I ended up many games where people just avoided theory or didn't memorize the lines as long as I did so I could figure out how to be ok. But still, I definitely recall getting absolutely crushed in the opening as well. I planned to stick with it anyway.. I mean, its chess right? I need to learn it and get better at it so that was the plan.
Then I began watching videos by IM John Bartholomew (if you haven't seen his YouTube channel I highly recommend it!) and noticed that he played a very strange way against e4 by playing d5. The queen often came to the middle of the board on move 2 and I was like.. wow, this MUST be bad for black. What a silly opening!
And now it's all I play. hehe
And for good reason. The Scandi (Scandinavian Defense) surely is a little suspicious, I mean, it has to be when you lose tempos moving your queen around in the opening, BUT it also has many nice features to it as well. Such as:
1.) It's a bit of a rare line so people are less prepared against it
2.) Theory is limited. No matter how white plays against it you generally can set up your pieces the same way and get positions you are comfortable with.
3.) As far as e4 openings go, it's quite solid and will annoy attacking players
4.) It often results in end games, and at least for me, end games where I actually have a slight advantage as black! (due to the weakness on d4)
5.) It's flexible too. You can often castle kingside or queenside depending on your move.
Now I will say that you must must know the critical plans white has to demolish you in the opening.. those are lessons hard learned. But once you do know them (d5 breaks, sacrifices on e6 or h6, delaying development of a piece to create threats), I think the Scandi is a tough nut to crack for most players. And if they over press trying to do just that, black can get really active and has a nice game.
I played a 5/5 blitz game just today and relied on my trusty Scandinavian Defense. I think this game is a good example of how things can go. Often I will just play solid and safe and white will make some mistake. Like in this game a pawn is dropped in the early middle game. And after that... well, black gets a nice end game. And if you are lucky enough to play the end game better than your opponent, you often grab some fairly comfortable wins!