Sunday, September 02, 2007

Scandinavian opening stats

I just went through over 50 Scandinavian games I played (as black) to see what my opponents tend to play. The results of the analysis are presented in the graphs below, which should be self-explanatory (click on a graph for the full-sized version).

Two things suprised me. First, the frequency with which 2. e5?! is played after 1. e4 d5. That e5 move gets no attention in the books (they all say something to the effect that "This is great for black, like a French without the blocked-in Bishop"), as they think it is just easy to handle. Personally, I find this position tough as black, especially figuring out what to do with my King's Knight. [Note added: I just found that this was discussed by Phorku about two years ago here.]

The second surprise was the amount of times white plays 3. Nc3 after 1. e4 d5 2. exd Nf6. This always ends up a fairly boring-looking position, as the next moves are almost always 3...Nxd5 4. Nxd5 Qxd5. Nobody has much real development, and the position is fairly symmetrical.


Anonymous Samuraipawn said...

Whenever someone plays 3. Nc3 in the Scandinavian, the sadistic little dwarf inside my heart sheds a single tear.

9/02/2007 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

With "2.e5 and a good version of the French" I place my bishop at g6 and my king's knight at f5. Since the center is closed you can take all the time you need to develop. For idea's, look at the French. In general, press on d4. You can use your bishop to trade off white's knight at f3, steping up the pressure against d4.

About your boring-looking position: since you are going to castle queenside, hell breaks lose soon.

9/02/2007 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

That e5 move gets no attention in the books ... especially figuring out what to do with my King's Knight.

A sample line (just to illustrate how you might position the black pieces) might run: 1. e4 d5 2. e5 Bf5 3. d4 e6 4. Nf3 Nd7 5. Be2 c5 6. O-O Ne7 7. dxc5 Nc6, etc.
(Just saying play Ng8-c6 didn't seem clear).

I am not surprised you have not faced the Wilson Gambit. (Wilson Gambit Games).

I've had incredible results with this against the Scandanavian in blitz. In the games link above, the games against Potassium, stefaan and Yaggie illustrate what White wants to happen.

It isn't sound but I'm not sure how much that matters in blitz (at least the first time or two against the same opponent). You'd be amazed how many players drop a bisop, queen or their King in the first ten moves of this opening.

Of course, no one should play it. That would be developing bad habits.

9/02/2007 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

I see 2. e5 a lot as well. Especially in blitz. I have found the same thing as you have about the books. Well at least one book, "Gambit Opening Repertoire for Black" by Schiller. His only comment is after Bf5 black gets the french with the bishop outside the pawn chain. This is somehow and mysteriously good for me. Yet I've had difficulty with this and I've been playing the Scandy for over 2 years.

My only thought is that in order to understand this line, I should probably delve into the French some to get some of the basic ideas for black together. I think many of those ideas are still there in the Scandy variation, but capitilizing on it is another matter entirely.

One thing is for sure, it 2. e5 does a nice job of sinking black's aspirations of an open game.

9/02/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

SP: lmao. Yes, that's how I feel. Both that and 2. e5 are very effective ways to put a pin in black's balloon. It's a conpsiracy to get us to stop playing the Scandy.

Tempo: very helpful tips, especially just pointing out I can take my time to develop in the 2. e5 variation. I tend to rush because I want to castle really quickly, which always leads to trouble. I realized yesterday, going over these games, that in the 2. e5 black needs to be willing to give up the two bishops, trading off his white bishop for the f3 knight. Plus, your Knight at f5 idea seemed crazy at first but white always castles kingside so for him to chase the knight off would really weaken things. Interesting...

Do you think reading about the French (advance) will help? So much of the text will be about what to do with the white bishop, I thought it might not be helpful. OTOH, I can still read it for general plans and the like, and smile sadistically when I read those bits about the weak Bishop.

Also, as for castling Q-side with the 3. Nc3 variation, that is certainly a good way to break the symmetry! I've been castling kingside in this "chinese water torture" variation of the Scandy.

Glenn: wow, both Knights moved to the seventh rank initially in that line. That's just funky! The maneuver from g8 to c6 is interesting. My goal is usually to move it to g6 to keep it on the K-side for defense. Though I guess moving it to c6 will help in a Q-side attack, which ultimately I suppose must be black's goal in this awful variation. Tempo's idea of bringing it to f5 is very interesting.

Are you sure you want your name associated with an unsound gambit? :)

PMD: It sounds much like my brief experience with the Scandy. I suppose we'll have to learn something about the French. This position really does radically change the course of the game. Let's put this line into our comfort zone, so that we are frothing at the mouth when black plays this move so we can test out our new ideas.

I have Watson's book on the French I, and Sam Collins book on the advance variation. I suppose I ought to take a look :) Who knew I'd start studying the French when I played the bloody Scandy!

9/02/2007 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Chess Teaching said...

Another interesting sample line in the 2.e5 variation may be
1.e4 d5 2.e5 c5 3.f4 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.Be2 e6 6.O-O Nge7

9/02/2007 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Sciurus said...

Same experience here. I also read that getting your light squared bishop out is supposed to be an advantage but somehow I always feel bothered a lot by the white pawn at e5. May be looking at the French for some ideas would really be a good idea. But this takes so much time and I am not even finished analyzing the basics of my White repertoire yet...

On a side note, I am always surprised how many chess bloggers play the Scandinavian. May be we should all get together and exchange ideas.

9/02/2007 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger likesforests said...

1.e4 d5 2.e5 c5! is a sharp reply. The idea is to delay developing your light-squared bishop until you can decide whether to place it on f5 or g4. It scores slightly better than 2...Bf5 in my database.

I also studied games that reached similar positions so that I would have a good plan.

The important thing is not so much which line you pick, but that you understand the plans in your line at least as well as your opponent. :)

9/02/2007 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

LF: nice post, thanks! I missed that one.

The problem is knowing the plans for me. With this position I really have no idea, and variation-dump opening books offer nothing. Telling a Scandy player "Oh, that's just the French with an active white Bishop" (which all the books do) is not all that helpful, as Scandy players likely know crap about the French. What are the general plans? Which side to castle on, which side to attack, best squares for Knights, examples of some successful attacks to form templates are all crucial, and it takes me forever to learn that crap on my own (which is why I buy opening books, which with some exceptions are really bad about describing plans: why do so many opening book authors withold the most important information?!).

9/02/2007 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I think I'll start a new post that will try to describe the major plans in the two weird sidelines of the Scandy: 2. e5 and 3. Nc3. I'll list some, and solicit comments to see if we can build up something useful.

9/02/2007 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Samuraipawn said...

Off topic: BDK, thanks for your last comment. I seem to have stumbled upon something very important to me, and your last comment at my blog was one of the final pieces to the puzzle I'm trying to solve.

It's interesting how one can use psychological methods in one's profession with patients, without realising that oneself might actually benefit from the same source of knowledge.


9/02/2007 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Has anybody ever tried the Leonhardt gambit against you? I dont know much theory in this opening, but I've played this gambit as white against some lower rated players in blitz with great success. It looks easy to deal with, but there are some crazy lines...

Heres an example of Lasker winning with it :

9/02/2007 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Joe: no, but I play 2..Nf6 rather than Qxd5.

9/02/2007 07:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi BDK - I also see 2.e5 in my blitz games, although hardly ever at the club. I've been thinking lately that I really ought to dig in and figure out how to deal with this, because I'm always been uncomfortable with the resulting positions. Thanks for getting this discussion going - there's a lot of good ideas in the comment thread for me to look at.

I'm usually happy to see the board after 3.Nc3 Nxd5 4.Nxd5 Qxd5. Since White's queen knight is gone, Black's queen is not immediately attackable. She can sit out there for a little while, ready to cause trouble on both of the long diagonals, or on the e-file to White's king.


9/03/2007 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Steve: yes, good point. The only way to directly hassle the queen is with 4. c4?!, but that creates all sorts of weaknesses on the d file which probably aren't worth the gained tempo.

9/03/2007 10:31:00 AM  
Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said...

Something I had not thought of until now. If you have Chessbase and one of the Big Reference databases, you can run an opening report on some of these variations to get ideas. So far I've checked out 1. e4 d5 2.e5 with blacks two recommendations being c5 and Bf5. White scores poorly with 2. e5 overall, but that doesn't really mean anything for a patzer like me.

If I can get some time in here, I'll post a little more about the ideas here.

9/05/2007 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

PMD: I really would like a big database. The chessbase one is 300 bloody bucks. Patrick at chessforblood had a great post about making a freedatabase but his blog is down and I haven't been able to find the free million+ game database.

9/05/2007 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Foreclosure Forum said...

For slow games, the 3...Qd3 variation is now the mainline and I have enjoyed a great deal of success with it. In Blitz, the Scandinavian can get busted pretty easily and it usually involves early yet fierce attacking from White.

1.e4 d5 2.e5 Black's light squared bishop getting out of the pawn chain with 2...Bf5 is clearly equalizing, but attacking in blitz is worth way more than a small positional plus out of the opening.

2.e5 causes black the most problems when the typical French king side attack ensues with the f-pawn advancing. If the black king gets overexposed, White can check you until your nose bleeds. We don't want that.

Remember, White gets into a French where an e4 player is on familiar ground and the Scandi player is not. This means black has to think more and in blitz, that tick-tock, tick-tock losses games.

A much better way for Black to avoid the Scandinavian is with the Blackmar-Deimer Gambit. This usually gives White good attacking chances with a half-open file for his rook for the cost of a mere pawn. A big problem in blitz!

I developed a repertoire for blitz based on 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qe5+!? If White effectively demolishes this or successfully defeats me with an aforementioned sideline--then it's time for a different line. For example, 1.e4 d6 2.d4 e5!? and black soon equalizes in blitz.

3/18/2008 03:55:00 AM  

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