So if you’re like me, you’ve been enjoying John Bartholomew’s excellent YouTube chess channel for a while now. And if you have been watching his channel, you know that he is an avid proponent of the Scandinavian Defense for Black. I think part of this is a smart move by him to set up a group culture–people will naturally want to be part of #teamScandi.
Personally, I’ve never really liked playing the Scandinavian Defense with Black. Obviously, the opening is fine, and Karpov used it throughout his career when he wasn’t playing the Caro-Kann. So I’m not saying that the opening is refuted or wrong, but it does break basic chess principles, so Black has to be careful in a lot of lines, or he can run into trouble.
White, on the other hand, has to be careful not to get too hung up on punishing an opening that, when played correctly, can’t really be punished. Instead, what I’m learning from some video series that I’m watching, is that White can develop naturally and look for opportunities to create a small advantage out of the opening. This is the case with a lot of openings, but maybe this “small advantage” can be a bit more comfortable for White than the small advantage in some other openings. Or maybe it is just a matter of preference and knowing what to play for.
Anyway, the video below shows an opening trap in the Scandinavian, Meises-Kotroc variation, where, after White hits Black’s Queen, he simply drops it back to d8. I’ve also heard it referred to as the Banker variation. Well, names aren’t really that important, but I throw them in because I like to learn them myself, and it’s helpful to know if you want to look up more information on the lines. This is the position after Move 3:
After this, you can make some straightforward moves as White, such as Nf3 and Bc4, setting the stage for a trap that Scandi players can very easily fall into if they are just making their standard opening moves without thinking much. I just got a game in this line and got to play the trap, so that inspired the post. Credit goes to GM Lawrence Trent and his Chess 24 video series on playing against the Scandi, which is where I learned the trap. I cover some different lines here and quickly show my game (spoiler alert if you want to try to figure the trap out for yourself first).
The video below shows the trap, as well as the ways that Black can avoid it, and then how White should play if Black defends correctly to ensure a small but, I think, pretty nice advantage.