The e4 d5 Opening: Scandinavian Defense

If you play e4, you might face the reply 1. … d5 occasionally.

What are you supposed to play against it?! Fear not, this post will teach you how to win against this defense with confidence.

What’s the name of the e4 d5 opening?

The move order 1. e4 d5 is called the Scandinavian Defense.

scandinavian defense 1. e4 d5 chess

If you know what you’re doing, you’ll have an easy and comfortable game with white.

After d5, you can just take the pawn: 2. exd5

e4 d5 opening pawn takes

Now black has two options: Take back with the queen directly or delay the capture and move the knight to f6.

Black delays the capture: Nf6

After black plays 2. … Nf6, white has a lot of options:

scandivian defense Nf6

We recommend 3. Bb5+. It’ll immediately challenge black and allows you to hold on to the captured pawn on d5.

Scandinavian e4 d5 bb5

You already create problems for black! Blocking the check with the knight allows you to keep the pawn – so does the blockade with the bishop.

On the amateur level, you’ll often face the move pawn to c6 – and after dxc6, you’re just a pawn up for nothing.

The most played move here is 4. … Bd7, which white answers with 5. Bc4, saving the pawn — at least temporarily.

chess opening scandinavian

White already has an edge in this position and it’ll be hard for amateur players to play against this line.

You can start an analysis at Lichess to dive deeper into this line. Now let’s look at the main line:

Black Captures with the Queen: Qxd5

The immediate queen capture is the most common response from black:

chess opening e4 d5

The Scandinavian surprises many people because it breaks a fundamental opening rule: Don’t move the queen in the opening.

An advantage of playing against this e4 d5 opening is the fact that white can play very natural moves and achieve a good game. Here, Nc3 is the most obvious, because it attacks the queen and develops a piece with tempo.

Black has three choices: Qa5, Qd6 or Qd8.

Queen move scandinavian chess opening

Let’s look at the most common move, 3. … Qa5. White can respond with 4. Nf3 to develop another piece.

After 4. … Nc6 5. Bb5 Bd7 and 6. 0-0, we achieve this position:

castle chess

White has a lead in development and the king is safe. This position should be intuitive to play for you.

For your entertainment, take a look at this great game between the chess legends Garry Kasparov and Vishy Anand. Anand played the move 5. … c6, which caused Kasparov to go for the attack immediately with 6. Ne5!?:

The alternative moves 3. … Qd6 and 3. … Qd8 can be followed up by natural development moves, such as Bc4, Nf3 and 0-0.

The Scandinavian Defense has the big disadvantage that it gives white a small development advantage, and is at the same time being easy to play against for white. Again, you can dive deeper by getting the opinion of the engine on Lichess.

If you choose to play the Scandinavian Defense with black, you have to accept that it’ll give you a solid game, but that you’ll be fighting to equalize instead of fighting to win early on because of the tempo loss. That’s why grandmasters rarely play it in classical time formats.

Nevertheless, the Scandinavian Defense has been played by strong players such as International Master John Bartholomew, and even Magnus Carlsen played it in recent blitz games! It can be a surprise weapon that often forces the white side out of theory.

White players rarely study the Scandinavian e4 d5 opening in detail, therefore you can get an edge as black because you come prepared and know all the plans while white might have to figure out how to respond to this e4 d5 opening over the board.

We hope that this ChessTIER post helped you out!