My chess rating is somewhere between 400 and 500 and I have a lot of trouble countering the Scandinavian Defense. My first move is usually e4 but when my opponent uses the Scandinavian Defense (d5), I have a hard time countering that. I heard from everyone that only beginners do it for a reason but I can't exactly figure out why nobody else would use that defense. I am curious if you know an aggressive counter to the Scandinavian defense.

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    If that's 400 to 500 USCF rating you are a beginner. It is highly unlikely that the opening is your problem. Most likely you'd want to study tactics and learn general principles first. – user1583209 Aug 26 '19 at 19:43
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    USCF? Why do Americans have to invent their own system to measure everything? – David Aug 27 '19 at 7:45
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    @David I don't know if Americans invented their own measuring system for everything, but in the case of chess, I think it's because there were no scientific rating systems in existence when Americans invented the first ones, starting with the CCLA and the USCF. The Elo system, devised by USCF member Arpad Elo, was adopted by the USCF around 1960, and by the FIDE some years later. – bof Aug 27 '19 at 13:29
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    What's so "scientific" about ELO? It's just a bunch of arbitrarely-chosen numbers! Indeed, ELO regulations change every year based on the decisions of a selected group of people. Anyway, many national federations have their own ratings that are now basically meaningless, but Americans for some reason want to keep talking in their own terms! – David Aug 27 '19 at 16:12

I heard from everyone that only beginners do it for a reason but I can't exactly figure out why nobody else would use that defense.

It's not true that nobody but beginners use the Scandinavian - I use it, and my rating is in the 1700s. The opening is, however, somewhat rare; I've only seen it about 4% of the time when I've played 1.e4 in tournament games. Some beginners perhaps like this opening because it gets their queen out early. But this is actually a bad thing for Black, not a good thing.

As White, one good idea is to make that queen your target. This game is the fastest I've lost playing the Scandinavian, and I lose when my opponent (rated 2042) traps my queen:

[FEN ""]
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nf3 Qa5 4.Be2 Nf6 5.O-O Bf5 6.d4 c6 7.c4 Nbd7 8.Nc3 e6 9.Bf4 Be7 10.a3 c5 11.Nb5 O-O 12.dxc5 a6 13.Bc7

And here's a game where a beginner (rated 535) tries the Scandinavian against me. Notice how, when possible, I attack his queen with moves that also develop my pieces.

[FEN ""]
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 {I attack his queen. So far this is the mainline.} Qd4 {This is where we deviate from the mainline Scandinavian. This isn't the best square for his queen.} 4.Nf3 {I attack his queen again.} Qb6 5.Bc4 {I develop another piece. I don't attack his queen with Nd5 or Na4 because that wouldn't help me develop.} Nf6 6.O-O Qd6 {He moves his queen again. His plan is probably to trade off my f3 knight with Bg4 and Bxf3, and then play Ng4 to threaten Qxh2#.} 7.h3 {To prevent his plan. It wouldn't work, but Bg4 is annoying so I prevent it.} Nh5 {Moving his knight again and putting it on the edge of the board. That's usually not a good idea.} 8.Re1 {Activating my rook. It's not the strongest move I could have played. Ng5, attacking f7 and discovering an attack on his knight, was better.} Qg6 {Moving his queen yet again! We're on move 8, and he's moved his queen 5 times. His threat is Bxh3, and I can't play gxh3 because the pawn is pinned by the queen.} 9.Ne5 {Threatening his queen again. He can't play Bxh3 if his queen isn't safe. This also threatens his f7 pawn.} Qg5 {Still threatening Bxh3.} 10.d4 {A discovered attack on his queen. Perhaps I should have just played Bxf7+ now, but this also works.} Nf4 {Blocking the attack on his queen and threatening Qxg2#.} 11.Bxf4 {I have to do something about his checkmate threat.} Qxf4 {Eleven moves in, and his queen is his only piece that isn't on its starting square, while my army is just about fully developed. It's time for me to attack.} 12.Bxf7+ Kd8 13.Bd5 {Threatens Nf7+ forking his king and rook.} Qg5 {Trying to set up Bxh3 again, but it just makes my impending fork worse.} 14.Nf7+ {King-queen fork.} Ke8 15.Nxg5 h6 {From here I have a forced mate.} 16.Qh5+ Kd8 17.Nf7+ Kd7 18.Be6+ Kc6 19.Qc5# 1-0 
  • You are choosing examples where Black is playing awfully bad! Why 3...Qa5 on the first game? It makes no sense! The second game is not about a player using the Scandinavian. He started with the same moves, but is playing nothing like an Scandinavian Defence. He is just randomly moving his queen around – David Aug 27 '19 at 7:42
  • @David This is in the context of a 400-500 player asking the question. I therefore doubt he's seeing a lot of people playing the best moves. 3...Qa5 was bad, yes; I think I played it because I was anticipating Nc3. You aren't going to see a lot of 13 moves games where Black plays good moves. – D M Aug 27 '19 at 9:38
  • "Bad moves" is one thing and "moves that make no sense" is a very different one. Learning how to counter reasonably-looking moves that are bad for some tactical/strategical reason is a graet way to improve your chess. Analyzing moves that make no sense at all is not! – David Aug 27 '19 at 9:45
  • 3...Qa5 looks like a typical beginner reasoning of "I expect him to play 3.Nc3 which I answer by Qa5. Oh shoot, he played 3.Nf3 instead. What to do now? Ah well, screw it, I'm just going to play my move anyways! It's not an obvious blunder, so it's fine in this opening, right?". – Annatar Aug 27 '19 at 13:08
  • @DM There are grandmasters who played 3...Qa5 – Alexander Micharski Aug 28 '19 at 4:42

If you are having trouble with it, maybe you need to slow down the aggression!

My advice is to play 2.e5. It is theoretically a "bad" move because it allows your opponent to play an improved Caro-Kann or French. But at your skill level, nobody who goes for the Scandinavian will know anything about how to play those!

  • Nobody at this level will know all too much about the main lines either. But studying (not memorizing!) those will be much more useful in the long run. – Annatar Aug 27 '19 at 13:13
  • @Annatar Actually, I think understanding the position resulting from 1.e4 d5 2.e5 will serve your chess much more in the long term than understanding the Scandinavian main line – David Aug 27 '19 at 13:15

You are correct to seek an aggressive line since at this stage in your chess development you should be going for the throat.

Here is a suggested line:

1.e4 d5

2.d4 dxe4

3.f3 or Bc4 [EDIT] 3.Nc3 is most common, then the ideas of f3 or Bc4.

Seeking fast development. You can target f7...

  • 3.f3 e5 is likely to result in an early exchange of queens, which is probably not what white wants. 3.Nc3 is usually played nowadays (knights before bishops). – bof Aug 28 '19 at 3:33
  • Why would you do f3 or Bc4? f3 blocks your knight on the right and doesn't open up any openings for any other pieces. Bc4 feeds your bishop to your opponent's queen. – Alexander Micharski Aug 28 '19 at 4:41
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    @bof The "knights before bishops" rule is among the most counterproductive pieces of advice I've ever heard – David Aug 28 '19 at 7:12
  • @AlexanderMicharski not sure what you mean by feed's the bishop to the queen (which is on d8). and f3 threatens fxe4... – Ywapom Aug 28 '19 at 19:03
  • @Ywapom The queen can capture the bishop next move and white won't be able to capture the queen succeeding it. – Alexander Micharski Aug 28 '19 at 20:05

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