Dangerous Systems You Can Use to Beat the Scandinavian Defense

The Scandinavian Defense, a popular chess opening for black, has caused headaches for many players with the white pieces. From the club player to titled player, this chess opening can prove a handful.

In this article, you will learn two dangerous systems to choose from against 2…Qxd5 in this stout defense. If you enjoy playing the 1.e4 chess opening, you will certainly play against the Scandinavian Defense from time to time.

Scandinavian Systems for White blog image

These systems can easily be played by beginners but are dangerous enough to help you win against stronger players.

After 3.Nc3, the most common move for Black is 3…Qa5, but 3…Qd8 is also played by safety-first Black players. Here is IM Lawrence Trent showing you how to safely get an advantage against this Banker Variation.

The two systems against 2…Qxd5 you can learn to play with ease are:

  1. The 3.Nf3 system, and
  2. the d3 system.

Scandinavian Defense Chess Opening: White’s Classical Approach

This system is easy to play because it is based on the classical opening principles all of us learn as beginners. There’s nothing more classical than Nf3.

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3

Scandanavian Defense 3.Nf3
Scandanavian Defense 3.Nf3

Unsurprisingly, the most common move you will face is 3…Bg4. White can continue successfully with natural developing moves. 

4.Be2 Nc6 5.d4 0-0-0 6.Be3 e5 7.c4 Qa5+ 8.Bd2 Bb4 9.d5 Bxf3 10.Bxf3 Nd4 11.Nc3

Scandinavian Defense 11.Nc3
Scandinavian Defense 11.Nc3

White enjoys a space advantage in this position, and a simple centralization chess strategy will ensure he keeps this advantage.

Morozevich, Alexander – Grischuk, Alexander, 1-0, Moscow Tal Memorial 7th Blitz, 2012

Black Plays 3…Nf6

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 Nf6

Scandinavian Defense 3...Nf6
Scandinavian Defense 3…Nf6

What makes this an easy system to play is the standard development against both 3…Bg4 and 3…Nf6. The White pieces go to their most natural squares, making it easy to remember.

4.d4 Bg4 5.Be2 e6 6.0-0 Be7 7.c4 Qd8 8.Be3 Nbd7 9.Nc3 0-0 10.Qb3 Qc8 11.Rfd1 Rd8 12.Rac1

Scandinavian Defense 12.Rac1
Scandinavian Defense 12.Rac1

The pawns on c4 and d4 give White an excellent central presence and provide all the space needed for the pieces behind them. 

Here are two fantastic games showing how White can make use of his central control and well-placed pieces.

Vuckovic, Bojan – Mateuta, Gabriel, 1-0, MNT op 5th, 2004

Heberla, Bartlomiej – Rausis, Igors, 1-0, 2016.05.16

Scandinavian Defense Chess Opening: White Plays d3

A lot of Black’s counterplay in the Scandinavian Defense against the 1.e4 chess opening is playing against White’s d4-pawn. By keeping the pawn on d3, White gives Black no target to attack.

This system offers White two highly effective strategies depending on where he chooses to castle.

White can play Bd2, Qe2, and castle long or play Nge2, short castle, and attack with f4-f5.

Scandinavian Defense Chess Opening: d3 and Long Castle

Although White’s restrained d3 has denied Black a target, White still has the opportunity to attack on the kingside. The absence of queens often does nothing to ease Black’s position as White’s attack continues unabated.

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.d3 c6 6.Bd2 Qc7 7.Qe2

Scandinavian Defense with 7.Qe2
Scandinavian Defense 7.Qe2

White developed the knight and bishop with tempo against the Black queen. Gaining these two tempos while playing natural developing moves already gives White an edge.

7…Nbd7 8.Nf3 Nb6 9.Bb3 e6 10.0-0-0 a5 11.a3 a4 12.Ba2 Be7

Scandinavian 12...Be7
Scandinavian 12…Be7

When White plans on castling long, Nf3 is an excellent idea to tempt Black into playing …Bg4. This allows White to launch a kingside pawn storm by harassing the bishop.

Most attacks don’t end in checkmate, and if you get a positional advantage, you can consider the attack a success.

In the next game, Black entered the endgame with a bad light-squared bishop. The bishop was tied down even more to the defense of the a-pawn.

Kotan, Ladislav – Boricsev, Oleg, 1-0, Zemplen Cup op 8th, 1998

Scandinavian Defense Chess Opening: d3 and Short Castle

In this approach, instead of 7.Qe2 White develops with 7.Nge2 and advances the f-pawn. The common opening moves in the long castle and short castle variations make this an excellent chess opening for beginners.

Remember, even though this opening system is suitable for beginners, that does not mean it is less effective against stronger players.

This system is played by players rated 2300+ Elo with good effect.

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.d3 c6 6.Bd2 Qc7 7.Nge2

Scandinavian Defense 7.Nge2
Scandinavian Defense 7.Nge2

7…Bf5 8.0-0 e6 9.Ng3 Bg6 10.f4

Scandinavian 10.f4
Scandinavian 10.f4

Simple, effective, and straightforward play is all you need in chess. The most natural reply to 7…Bg4, instead of 7…Bf5, is correct – 8.f3.

Mokshanov, A. – Yanchenko, R., 1-0, Moscow Open A, 2015

In Conclusion

In chess, and in life, moderation is the key to doing well. This is especially true when Black plays the Scandinavian Defense against the 1.e4 chess opening. There is no reason to feel bad about settling for a slight advantage from the opening.

This slight advantage can and frequently does gather momentum as the game progresses. Nobody enjoys being forced to play from even a slightly inferior position. 

Because the Scandinavian Defense is a counter-attacking defense by removing the usual targets for Black to focus on, you force him into new territory. The territory you now know better than him and how best to navigate the middlegame positions that arise.

The Scandinavian Defense is only one defense to the 1.e4 chess opening. As a 1.e4 player you need a way to meet it that won’t take a lot of your precious training time.

IM Lawrence Trent has put together a repertoire that is as effective as it is easy to learn. Take advantage of this special offer to get 50% off and instant access to A Repertoire Against the Scandinavian.

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