I'm playing the Scandinavian Defence with 3...Qd8 a lot and I really like that opening. But I can't seem to find the right plan. I just develop my pieces towards the center (I don't fianchetto my bishop on g7) and then hope my opponent blunders. Could you please tell me on what I can improve? I'm a 1200 FIDE rated player.

I have already searched the web but the only thing I came up with, was that Scandinavian Defence is considered bad at high level.

I also saw some master games but that doesn't really help as they all play 3...Qa5.

  • 1
    Why would you allow white a sharp lead in development?? Also, playing hope chess is a road to nowhere fast. Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 22:03
  • @jossiecalderon I know it leads to nothing, but I cant find a plan in this opening. Also, the lead in developement isnt that sharp. Take a look at the philidor defence or the carocann. Both give white a developement advantage Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 22:13
  • 3
    Maybe read the book, "The 3...Qd8 Scandinavian: Simple and Strong" by Daniel Lowinger.
    – CWallach
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 22:31
  • 1
    @JossieCalderon Karpov begs to differ: chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1742232 Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 23:40
  • 2
    There's a ChessBase 60-minutes video by Andrew Martin on this variation, for something like 10 dollars. Might be a good investment if you plan to play this seriously.
    – TMM
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 22:43

4 Answers 4


If you really must, because your friend bet a wager that he can beat you as black in this position, here are the imbalances, concrete and possible, that you must look out for (as white):

[FEN ""]

1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8
  • Black's open d-file
  • Active LSB
  • Kingside pawn majority

Still, this is not without its weaknesses:

  • A delay in development. White can safely continue with d4, Be3, Qd2, O-O-O.

  • Black's reduced control of the squares on the e-file. Castle long and prompt to push his f-pawn somehow, followed by a minority attack g2-g4 (or g2-g4-g5).

  • Black's reduced control of the squares on the c-file. If black castles long, or the situation somehow else warrants it, break open the c-file, create an outpost on the c4-c5 square, and move a knight, bishop, or rook to this square where b7-b6 or b7-b5 has to happen. Now you'll have a new, but weakened structure to attack.

    Black will play to nullify white's knights with ...Bg4 (if Nf3), ...e6, ...Bc5, Ne7, and O-O, finally obtaining a solid position. If white castles short, black can launch a minority attack, creating holes which his knights can then infiltrate. He can place pressure on the d-pawn by restricting its advance, playing c7-c6, ...Rd8, and ...Nd5. If white plays c4, then the d-pawn has become weakened and serves as a target.

  • Thank you alot! What does lsb mean? Because i haze only 9 reputuation, my vote doesnt count. Too bad, Iwould have enjoyed putting you back to +0 Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 5:03
  • Yeah, no idea why someone down-voted it, though I don't really care - truth is self-evident. LSB = Light-squared bishop. Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 6:16
  • 2
    Black's LSB is not usually very active when white plays accurately - he can effectively prevent black from developing it to f5 or g4 with an accurate move order. (At 1200 level that is unlikely to happen, but at higher levels it is a problem for black.)
    – TMM
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 22:51
  • @Jossie Calderon - Welcome Back. how was the Chicago Open? You going to show us your games?
    – Priyome
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 1:27
  • 1
    @Priyome Let's move this conversation to the chat room. Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 17:19

I would say that the only obvious target for black (meaning a plan that's almost build into the opening) is applying pressure to the white d pawn, assuming white does play d4. Then of course he should try to break with either c5 or e5.

I can recommend checking out IM John Bartholomew, he's got a Youtube channel and he's a huge fan of the Scandi Qd8 line, I understand he's also got some tutorial on the line.


Fundamentally speaking, Black's position has no weaknesses, but is behind in development. Theory says if Black can solve his development, he will be equal. Magnus Carlsen has played this position as black (vs Fabiano, Tromsoe Ol, 2014, 0-1, 50), as have many other GMs, the likely reason because black has no weaknesses to speak of, and can draw equal. The Scandanavian Defense is deceptively resilient. So, in general, find good squares for your pieces. Black will play e6, complete his development and look for play where the game leads him. Since he has no weaknesses, White will be short of good targets. Since it is so early in the game, to elucidate on any plan this early is folly, as you have to take into account White's play and ideas. At 1200 level, mistakes will be made. Don't make the last one!

  • Carlsen can get away with playing offbeat variations like this Scandinavian sideline once in a blue moon exactly because he only plays those variations once in a blue moon. If Caruana had known Carlsen would play this, he would have been prepared and would have likely gained a considerable edge out of the opening. Of course high-level discussions like that game are not very relevant at 1200 level, but Carlsen having played it once does not mean it is a solid main choice for one's opening repertoire at master level.
    – TMM
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 10:18
  • "...but Carlsen having played it once does not mean it is a solid main choice for one's opening repertoire at master level. " Right. good thing I never said that.
    – Priyome
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 17:30
  • "...black has no weaknesses to speak of, and can draw equal." - You did. Against good players black will not "draw equal" unless white messes up. As I said, at best it is a decent surprise weapon.
    – TMM
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 18:20
  • Yes, that is totally me saying "it's a solid main choice for one's opening repertoire at master level", as you seem to ascribe. Nice try. I was expressing a believe about the position. Try again. Don't know why you feel the need to put words in my mouth.
    – Priyome
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 19:17
  • Ok, if you insist: you are wrong when you say "black can draw equal". Is that still putting words in your mouth? And if your statement were true, it would by definition be "a solid main choice for one's opening repertoire" even at top levels, which again it is certainly not.
    – TMM
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 4:07

Your main plan is to fianchetto, Ng8-h6-f5 to put pressure on the d4-pawn. Then, you can attempt to blockade it with the other knight, and then to put your rooks on the d-file. Basically, the strategic plan is to pressure White's d-pawn.

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