Scotch Game Guide

Scotch Game Guide

The Scotch Game is a chess opening for White that starts with the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4.

Scotch Game

The Scotch is the third most popular choice after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6. The Scotch Game is probably your best choice if you want to avoid playing the Italian Game (3.Bc4) or the Ruy Lopez (3.Bb5). Garry Kasparov was a big fan of this opening, and Magnus Carlsen has played it dozens of times with good results.

Main Ideas in the Scotch Game

The Scotch sets the stage for dynamic play right from the start, as opposed to the Ruy Lopez, which is more conservative.

The appeal of the Scotch Game lies not only in its simplicity but also because it avoids the labyrinthine theory often associated with other popular openings. By sidestepping the complexities of the Ruy Lopez, beginners and intermediate players can navigate the early stages of the game with more confidence and clarity.

With 1.d4, White strikes on the center and opens up the diagonal for its dark-squared Bishop, as well as asserting dominance in the center of the board.

However, like any opening, the Scotch Game has its drawbacks. White's premature release of central tension may grant Black opportunities for counterplay, and the extra tempo required to capture the pawn on d4 can disrupt the flow of development.

Nevertheless, the Scotch Game stands is still a versatile and potent weapon in the arsenal of any player.

Main Line in the Scotch Game

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6

Scotch Game

3.d4 exd4

Scotch Game

Black’s only good option is to take the pawn. Other alternatives lead to less sound positions for Black.

4.Nxd4 Nf6

Scotch Game

5.Nxc6 bxc6

Scotch Game

The idea of White taking on c6 was introduced by Garry Kasparov, who liked having the possibility of playing e5 afterwards.

6.e5 Qe7

Scotch Game

Black doesn’t want to move their Knight just yet.

7.Qe2 Nd5

Scotch Game

White defends their pawn and Black is now forced to move their Knight.

8.c4 Ba6

Scotch Game

The hunting of the Knight continues, but Black finds a way to develop their Bishop and protect the Knight at the same time.


Scotch Game

Variations in the Scotch Game

The Scotch Game allows you to play in a more positional or tactical way.

It all depends on the variations you choose to play.

Below you’ll see some of the most popular variations in the Scotch Game.

Classical Variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5

Scotch Game

In the Classical Variation of the Scotch Game, Black chooses a very active approach by instantly attacking the Knight on d4.

Schmidt Variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6

Scotch Game

The Schmidt Variation is the most popular variation of the Scotch Game at master level.

With 4…Nf6 Black doesn’t commit and simply develops a piece, attacking the e pawn.

Steinitz Variation

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qh4

Scotch Game

This is a super aggressive approach from Black, that can ultimately win a pawn, but White will get an advantage that will allow them to play more comfortably during the middlegame.

Scotch Gambit

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 Bc4

Scotch Game

In this variation, White gives up a pawn in exchange for rapid piece development and attacking opportunities.

Black must be flexible and don’t try to hold on to the pawn.

Goring Gambit

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3

Scotch Game

Similar to the Scotch Gambit, in the Goring Gambit White also gives up a pawn, in this case by playing 4.c3 instead of Nxd4.

Model Games

Related Courses

Scotch Gambit: Winning System for White with FM Amro El Jawich

Scotch Opening with FM Yuriy Krykun

Other Articles You Might Find Interesting

Chess Openings Mega Index

King's Indian Defense Guide

Master the Ruy Lopez

C44 Sub-variants:


Games on Database: 43119
Last Played: Jul 2024
Overall score:
43.3% 27.4% 29.4%

Played frequently by:

Sergei Rublevsky 103 games
Dusko Pavasovic 98 games
Robert Zelcic 82 games
Vladimir P Malaniuk 62 games
Oleg M Romanishin 58 games
Michele Godena 57 games

Possible continuations:

3... exd4  40221
41.1 % 28.6 % 30.3 %
3... d6  1387
70.9 % 15.9 %
3... f6  355
79.4 % 14.6 %
3... Nf6  342
77.2 % 15.5 %
3... d5  229
71.6 % 15.3 %
3... Bd6  219
73.1 % 19.2 %
3... Nxd4  152
67.8 % 21.1 %
3... Bb4+  97
78.4 % 15.5 %
3... Qe7  44
75 % 20.5 %
3... Qf6  39
76.9 % 15.4 %
3... f5  26
69.2 % 30.8 %
3... Be7  3
66.7 % 33.3 %
3... Nge7  2
50 % 50 %