The Scandinavian Defense is a highly popular choice for club players and for a good reason. In this article, we are going to take a quick look at some of the advantages of playing this opening.
We will also take a quick look at some of the ideas you need to be aware of.
The Scandinavian is a very interesting choice for black. And, it can be a good weapon if you’re trying to play for a win or just get unbalanced positions out of the opening.
The Scandinavian, which starts after the moves 1.e4 – d5 is one of the oldest recorded openings in chess:
Without further ado, let’s take a quick look at some of the ideas of this defense. If you are considering to include The Scandinavian in your repertoire, these are a few things you should know about it:
1. It is a straightforward reply to 1.e4
Right from the start, black is challenging white’s center. And, he is forcing him to go into the territory black wants to go into. Here, compared to other 1st move replies, you don’t have to worry about white’s many options, since there aren’t as many systems your opponent can choose from.
2. Low theory opening
The theory of the Scandinavian Defense is rather limited compared to other openings. This is good news since you don’t have to be constantly aware of the latest theoretical updates or learn long forcing lines. But, you can instead focus on studying the other parts of the game.
3. It is an awkward defense to meet for the 1.e4 player
This isn’t because the Scandinavian is an especially dangerous reply for white. It’s because the lines where the first player can obtain an advantage are complicated and can be difficult to remember.
4. Scandinavian is a tricky defense
White needs to be careful and watch out for possible tricks since some lines can get quite tactical. E.g. a common tactical trick many players have fallen for with the white pieces is seen in the following line.
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.d4 Nxd5 4.c4 Nb4 5.Qa4+ N8c6 6.d5?
Here, after 6…b5! Black will have a decisive advantage. If you didn’t know this idea, I recommend you look into this line and check out all the tactics available for black.
A little warning here, though – tactics can go both ways! White also has some tricks up his sleeve in some lines. So, you have to be aware of them to avoid quick and painful losses.
5. Numerous options for Black
As you can probably see from the line shown above, black can play the Scandinavian in many ways. Good options are available right from the start – the second move! – and you have even more options later on. Even in the main line (1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5), black has quite a few set-ups available after the move 3.Nc3.
The most common reply for black is 3…Qa5, while you can often see moves like 3…Qd8 or 3…Qd6 in practice as well. If you’re trying to surprise your opponent, you have other options as well – trying 3…Qe5. For example, by a few strong players, with good results.
6. Ideas rich opening
With so many possible set-ups for black, it is safe to say that the Scandinavian is rich in ideas. You have enough room to create a diverse repertoire inside the same opening.
Playing the same line and same middlegame positions can get boring at some point. But, with the Scandinavian you can pick a few lines that you like and go for a change when you feel like it.
7. Confusing for your opponent
Having a few options inside the same opening isn’t only good for variety, but you can also easily confuse your opponents. I mentioned earlier how the Scandinavian can get tricky for white.
This is a great way of catching your opponent unprepared. Also, you can increase the chances of getting a big advantage out of the opening.
8. Great for avoiding opponent’s preparation
If you’re not looking to make the Scandinavian Defense your main weapon, it is also a good opening to know and be able to play when you want to avoid deep preparation from your opponents. Since it’s not very difficult to learn either, it can be a great choice for a second opening that you have in your repertoire.
9. Trusted by top players
While it’s true that you can’t often see the Scandinavian at the highest level, a quick search in the database will show that even the best players actually used it from time to time.
Many times, it has been a surprise reply in blitz or rapid games, but you will also find some great classical games as well. Perhaps one of the most famous is Magnus Carlsen’s win over Fabiano Caruana in the 2014 Olympiad. This is definitely a model game to save and add to your opening database!
10. Easy opening to play for White
Finally, we can conclude that the Scandinavian is a rather easy opening to play, and learning it shouldn’t take too much of your time. The resulting middlegames are balanced and you can choose whether you want to go for solid or more tactical play.