Could someone recommend books or online resources on those two openings for intermediate players (about 1800)?

Since my opponents at this level are likely to go out of theory on move 4 or 5, I want to have the knowledge to see why their move isn't that good and how to respond to it.

For example, 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nxd4 d6. Here I used to trade 5 Nxc6 bxc6, and double black's pawns, but I'm told it actually helps black to open the b file and have an active middle game.

So I would like resources that have more explanations on the opening's idea/planning, not just comprehensive list of variations.

Edit: I bought the book "The Petroff: move by move". After reading for about 30min, I put it down and disliked it. The reasons are

  1. This book is supposed to be an opening book. But it runs all the example games to the end. The author should make a judgement when opening is finished, provide evaluation of the board and plan for middle game, then go on to next example.
  2. On one page, the author writes (for the Cochrane gambit) "(white's) Bc4+ should always be met with d5 since after Be6 Bxe6 Kxe6 black's king is pulled further to the center". And on the next page when white plays Bc4 a move later, black plays Be6, then the game continues Bxe6 Kxe6. No explanation here!
  3. There isn't any dedicated section for game plan/pawn structure/piece placement etc. These advice are scattered in the example games. Moreover, its explanations are more towards "why this GM's move is good", not "guidelines to find good moves".
  • Hi @jf328. Sorry the Move-by-Move suggestion didn't meet your expectations. Points 1 and 3 are the style of the Move-by-Move series, but point 2 is surprising. I don't have the book with me, but does the author give the game as a 'what not to do'? He does this in one game in the Caro-Kann: Move-by-Move, in the Nunn-Shirov line to demonstrate why black should not castle queenside.
    – user1108
    May 13, 2016 at 10:10
  • @Bad_Bishop, please don't be sorry for that. I had the book "The Tarrasch Defense Move by Move" already (by Sam Collins), and it is a great book. That's where the expectation of Points 1 and 3 comes from. This one of Petroff isn't as good as the Tarrasch one IMO.
    – jf328
    May 13, 2016 at 20:55

6 Answers 6


I can only make recommendations for the Petroff Defence, as I have never played the Scotch:

  • The Petroff: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala. An engaging author using a question and answer format in annotated games
  • Petroff Defence by Alexander Raetsky and Maxim Chetverik. This book is more orientated towards Black's point of view, but the explanations are accessible to the club player
  • thechesswebsite YouTube video on the Petroff Defence

Fundamental Chess Openings - FCO, by Paul van de Sterren.

Good explanations on planning and ideas, light on deep lines.


"An Attacking Repertoire for White" by Sam Collins has a chapter on the Scotch which does cover many of the offbeat variations. After 4. ... d6 he writes "No one does this, for the simple reason that it fails to pressurise White's center and allows him a free hand in developing. After 5. c4 Nf6 6. Bc3 Be7... 12. b4! White has a clear advantage." "e4 White is Better" by GM Dragan Barlov and Milos Jovicic is just many variations, but they cover more lines in this opening book.

Lichess has a forum where you could ask more specific questions.

  • Somehow the lines "simple reason", "clear advantage" put me down. But I guess most books are like this.
    – jf328
    May 9, 2016 at 13:11

Quality Chess will publish a book on 1.e4 (hopefully in a few month) which will feature the Scotch as far as I know. It is part of a two book repertoire and will be about 1…e5, Caro-Kann and minor lines.

This will be a "Grandmaster Guide" and not a "Grandmaster Repertoire" so it is aimed at slightly weaker players. It should contain the Scotch and the Petroff and books by QC are generally excellent. And of course it will be brand new, so it strikes me as your best bet.

  • I also expect it to be excellent, but they're obviously not great at getting their own books out around the date they predicted. They've been working on it for what, five years now? Nov 8, 2016 at 14:50

The best book on the Petrov is a book by Yusupov but it is very technical and high level stuff. You should look at the Chess Stars offer of books for the Scotch and also for the Petrov (in different books). There are also many books with entire chapters on the Scotch (ntirlis's quality chess book, emms's gambit book, etc...).

  • Yes, Chess Stars has Vladimir Barsky's The Scotch Game for White Nov 19, 2016 at 18:54

On the Scotch

Gary Lane has written two good books, Winning with the Scotch (first Batsford in the UK and then Henry Holt in the US, 1993) and The Scotch Game Explained, Batsford, 2005.

Starting Out: The Scotch Game by John Emms (Everyman, 2005) is a good guide; it talks about the main ideas in each line before showing sample games (which are complete, once they reach the middlegame the commentary tapers off).

Batsford has also published 4...Qh4 in the Scotch Game by Lev Gutman, 2001, which is an in-depth analysis of this line. It is considered the most dangerous line for White to face, but will have more material than you sound like you need. If you ever face the Scotch as Black, though, this is a great lifetime reference.

On the Petroff

Janjgava wrote a definitive book, The Petroff, in 2001, published by Gambit. I also endorse The Petroff Defense by Raetsky and Chetverik, from Everyman.

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