Sunday, August 25, 2013

John Niven Scandinavian Defence

The Scandinavian Defence (also called the Center Counter Defence) 1.e4 d5 used to be considered a weak opening that few masters would play. However, over the past 40 years it has gradually become more and more popular at the grandmaster level. If White wants a theoretical advantage 2.exd5 is preferred. But 50% of the time as White I transpose to my other passions with 2.Nc3 (Queen's Knight Attack) or 2.e4!? (Blackmar-Diemer Gambit).

After 2.exd5, Black has two ways to recapture. The most popular variations are:
(A) 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5; (B) 2...Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6; or (C) 2...Nf6 3.d4 Bg4.

Once in a while (about 6% of the time), I play this opening as Black. In the 1989 USCF Golden Squires Finals, I chose the Scandinavian Defence vs John Niven. We avoided the critical lines, even though in postal chess we could use books. Play was inaccurate before the game was simplified with all queens and center pawns exchanged. It turned out to be a final round short draw. Our ratings were only 2 points apart - so, no rating change.

Niven (1959) - Sawyer (1961), corr USCF 89SF10, 28.07.1992 begins 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 [3.Nc3] 3...Bg4 4.Nc3 Qa5 5.Be2 [5.h3+/=] 5...Nc6 6.d4 e5 [6...0-0-0!=] 7.Bd2 0-0-0 [Black should try the wild line 7...Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Nxd4 9.Bxb7 Rb8=] 8.dxe5 [Now the tension fizzles out. White should win a pawn with 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.Bxg4+ Nxg4 10.Qxg4+ with little compensation for Black.] 8...Nxe5 9.Nxe5 Qxe5 10.h3 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Qxe2+ 12.Nxe2 Bc5 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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