Understanding the Scotch Game C45

A fine Opening for White and Team Play

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4

30 Games to study.

The Scotch Game received its name from the celebrated correspondence match between London and Edinburgh in 1824, though of course the three opening moves are older. It is another opening that was mainstream in the ninetieth century and then more or less abandoned in the twentieth century. The Scotch is different, though, because it has been resurrected to nearly its significance of a century earlier. Gary Kasparov has led the revival, playing it in three successive World Championship matches (1990, 1993, 1995) and inspiring other grandmasters to add it to their repertoire.

The Scotch Game was considered harmless for most of the 20th century, but when Garry Kasparov resurrected it in his 1990 title defense against Anatoly Karpov, it became popular again. The resolution of the tension in the center is premature. 4.Bc4 Nf6 leads to the Scotch Gambit which can also arise from the Two Knights Defense.

The move 3.d4 more or less forces Black to give up the center with 3exd4. Black must then decide whether to attack the e-pawn, (with either 4Nf6 or 4Qh4), or to develop (with 4Bc5 or another move).

The Scotch has two faces. If White recaptures at d4 with the Knight, the games takes on a quiet nature. On the other hand,(No not that hand, the other hand) White can turn the opening into a gambit by delaying the recovery of the pawn, or making the gambit permanent by playing 4.c3. This approach, known as the Goring Gambit can lead to fierce play, and is very popular in amateur events. (But rarely at FICS. Here is your chance to spring a new and great gambit on your opponents)

Controlling the Center

The key to getting a good position from the opening is to control the center, especially the four most central squares sometimes called "The Sweet Center", with pawns and minor pieces. Understanding the concept of creating a equilibrium is essential in this control.

In the starting position both armies are in balance, or what Wilhelm Steinitz called it at equilibrium. Generations of chess players have debated the outcome of a game that was perfectly played by both sides. Would the games always be drawn? Because White disturbs the equilibrium by moving first, he gains the advantage of being able to develop his army as well as to lay claim to a piece of the center. Black reacts in such a way as to restore the equilibrium. Thus, there is a constant shifting in this elusive concept of the equilibrium. If White plays perfectly, then Black should always be playing catch up until the forces of both armies are exhausted, traded and the game drawn. Theoretically then, a victory occurs when one side has made a mistake and the equilibrium can no longer be restored.

Just because White's move is first doesn't mean that he can disturb the equilibrium in his favor. Can't White make a mistake too? Of course, he can. But, from the perspective of playing for control of the center, playing 1.h4 disturbs the equilibrium, with a serious error! By failing to play for control of the center, Black is given a free hand and after 1e5, Black has gained a central advantage and White's h4-pawn is a potential target as well.

In developing a opening repertoire choosing those openings that fight for control of the center are the ones that try to tilt the equilibrium in your favor.

The Scotch Game C45

Fritz and I battle it out for the finish of this game.
Scotch Game (Fritz)

Opening Report for The Scotch Game C45
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4

Earliest game De Labourdonnais, L - McDonnell, A London 1834
Games played since 1840 - 22,073. With the bulk being played since 1990, after Gary Kasparov played it in three successive World Championship matches in 1990, 1993, and 1995.

Strong GM's:
Garry Kasparov Result=18/22 =82%
Alexei Shirov Result=3/5=60%

Other Notable Players:
Dusko Pavasovic Result=33/49=67%
Joseph Henry Blackburne Result=32/45=71%
Robert Zelcic Result=27/39=69%
Kalle Kiik Result=26/32=81%
Nenad Fercec Result=21/5/31=68%
Seregei Rublevsky Result=21/5/32=66%

White scores above average (57%)
White wins: 9682 (44%) Draws: 5792 (26%) Black wins: (30%)

White wins are shorter than average (36)
Black wins are of average length (38)
Draws are shorter than average (34)

Moves and Plans:
a) 3exd4 You should play: 4.Nxd4
Critical line:
4Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 54% White
Alternative: 4.Bc4

b)3d6 You should play 4.dxe5
b) 3Qe7 You should play 4.Nc3
c) 3Qe7 You should play: 4.Nc3
d) 3Qf6 You should play: 4.d5
e) 3Nxd4 You should play Nxd4
f) 3d5 You should play: 4.dxe5
g) 3Bb4+ You should play: 4.c3
h) 3f6 You should play: 4.Nxe5
i) 3Nf6 You should play 4.d5
j) 3Be7 You should play 4.d5
k) Bd6 You should play 4.Bc4
l) 3f5 You should play 4.exf5

The Games

White Wins
1. Fabian - Marek
2. Ehlvest - Beliavsky
3. Svidler - Arkhipov
4. Vallejo Oms Pallse
5. Wieweg - Furhoff
6. Lyell Hadzinanolis
7. Scheurer - Eichner
8. Staunton - NN
9. Makovsky - Hahn
10. Chigorin - Schiffers
11. Euwe - Wiersma
12. Euwe - Von Hartingsvelt
13. Balcerowski - Kluger
14. Bednarski - Padevsky
15. Benko - Tesic
16. Stefl - Dobrovolsky - Mate in 12 Moves!
17. De Greef - Baecke

Black Wins
1. Kupreichik - Zakharov
2. Weide - Wells
3. Malashenko - Semenova
4. Welz - Trenner
5. Horvath - Peredy - Humble Pie!

The Goring Gambit C44

In The Goring Gambit (What a great name for a Gambit. It was named after Professor Goring who taught philosophy at the University of Leipzig.) white invests a pawn in order to gain rapid develop, as do most gambits. In this gambit the advance of the c-pawn gives the White Queen access to the b3 square and from there it can form a strong battery (not an Eveready or Duracell battery) with a bishop at c4 that could raise havoc on Black's King side pining the f7 pawn against Black's King.

Goring Gambit

The Mieses Variaton C45

The Mieses Variation received a big boost when Garry Kasparov chose it in his 1990 match against Anatoly Karpov. White gains space and time by advancing the e-pawn, but later in the game this pawn can become vulnerable. Black has serious problems developing the bishop from c8, which lands on a6, to which White reacts by planting a pawn at c4. More recent games have seen Black rally to reach equal positions. The opening, however is somewhat in decline at present in top level play.

Kasparov - Karpov

The Haxo Gambit C44

This ancient and obvious developing move can be met by a gambit continuation which insures an initiative for White. The Haxo Gambit sees White get valuable queenside real estate for the sacrificed pawn.

Schlechter - Nyholm

The Scotch Gambit C55

The celebrated and distinguished games of the masters in the 1800's are such a joy to look at because they are abound in beautiful tactics, simpler to understand, and very frequently end in fantastic mates, unlike so many of later games that just end and leave us wondering why did they resign? That is why I frequently use Fritz in these games endings to see if he can explain it to me.

Paul Morphy makes it look so simple. 1858
Paul Morphy - NN

Here is a beautiful mate by the Great Master William Steinitz in 1860.
Steinitz - Meitner

The prestigious Master Paul Morphy shows us this fantastic mate in only 20 moves in 1864.
Morphy Dominguez