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1. e4 d5

The Scandinavian Defense (also known as the Centre-Counter Defense) is a variation on the King's Pawn Game, and is classified under ECO code B01. It is named after the sub-region Scandinavia, which includes Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway, among others. The opening moves are:

  1. e4 d5

It is the eighth most popular response to the King's Pawn Game according to ChessBase.


The first noted usage of this opening comes from the poem Scachs d'Amor (Valencian for Chess of Love). The poem uses a game of chess as an allegory for a love affair. The name itself comes from Swedish master Ludvig Collign, who was the first to analyse the opening extensively and named it for his homeland. That was in the late nineteenth century; after a short burst of popularity, the Scandinavian fell out of favour among masters after WWI. However, by the sixties, the opening had a resurgence, and is today still considered a highly defense response for black.

Main Line[]

White will almost always capture with 2. exd5, trading the e-pawn for black's d-pawn. Black then has two main choices: the main line, also sometimes known as the Mieses-Kotrč, is 2... Qxd5. This allows a fair trade of two centre pawns; however, black has broken an important developmental rule by developing their queen before their minor pieces. This is not per se a blunder, but it does allow 3. Nc3, developing white's knight with a tempo. Black is forced to retreat the queen. The most common, and widely considered "best" move is Qa5, as white's d-pawn may become pinned to the king. However, Qd8, a full-scale retreat, and Qd6, the Gubinsky-Melts Defense, are also both considered viable.

An example Main Line:[]

3. Nc3 Qa5
4. d4 e6
5. Nf3 Nf6
6. Bc4 Bf5
7. Bd2 e6

This gives black a pawn structure similar to the Caro-Kann Defence. Sometimes white will respond to this line with 4. b4, a gambit, but this gambit can be easily won with proper play from black.

An example for 3... Qd8:[]

3. Nc3 Qd8
4. d4 ng6

With the intention for black to Fianchetto their king's bishop. This was once considered a strong play, but is now seen as the more passive option for black.

The Gubinsky-Melts Defense:[]

After 3... Qd6, white should finish their setup with the moves d4, Nf3, g3, Bg2, and 0-0, in no particular order. Black should watch out for Nb5 and Bf4 attacking the queen, but strong development should render these threats irrelevant.

The Patzer Variation:[]

Characterised by the move 3... Qe5+, this move is regarded poorly. An example line:

4. Be2 c6
5. Nf3 Qc7
6. d4

Whatever black plays next, white has a clear advantage from this point.

Also worth mentioning here is the possibility for white to play 3. Nf3. A typical game might go:

3... Bg4
4. Be2 Nc6
5. O-O O-O-O

This is a fairly equal position.

Modern Variation[]

The Scandinavian Defense, Modern Variation begins with black's response 2... Nf6. This allows black to recapture white's pawn in a more convenient manner.

2. e5[]

This move by white is regarded fairly poorly. If played, black should respond with 2... c5. After developing their light-squared bishop, black can also play e6, at which point a pseudo-French Defense is reached, but one which favours black more than usual.

2. Nf3[]

This interesting but rare response to black's initial defense is known as the Tennison Gambit. It is a tricky gambit line for white, but one that can be very rewarding.


2. d4 transposes to the Blackmar-Diemar Gambit.

2. Nc3 transposes to the Dunst Opening (1. Nc3).

3. d4 Nc6 (from the main line) transposes to the Nimzowitsch Defense.