I'm new to chess (around 1000), and I like to practice the Scandinavian defence. I started to check the theory related to it, and I've never seen a single source talking about this queen move after Nc3.

[FEN ""]
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qe5+

I guess it's a bad one, otherwise they would mention it. But why is it a bad move? I've been playing this since I started (unconsciously) and I see no particular drawback (I just need to be careful not to make my queen stuck).

I understand that this opening violates the rule of development, but I don't feel the late when I play it. I often find a way to harasa my opponent (maybe it's because of my low rank, it becomes more visible at high rank?). Here are 2 variants I often end up with. As you can see I develop as good as white and I have even the queenside castling (almost) ready.

When defending with bishop:

[FEN "eoui"]
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qe5+ 4. Be2 Bg4

When defending with knight:

[FEN ""]
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qe5+ 4. Nge2 Bf5 5. d3 Nc6
  • 2
    Many users below have pointed out that your queen will be attacked again. If White plays Nf3—the most natural square for the knight—then the queen will be harassed again. Note that the Scandanavian Defense is a good opening in spite of the fact that Black gets their queen out early. If you move your queen to the right square, then it can usually prove its 'nuisance value'. However, if you move it to e5, or move it back to d8 (another common mistake), then you are just wasting your time, and White will complete the opening with a small advantage. – Joe Jun 12 '20 at 12:41
  • 1
    @Joe I would like to note that 3. .. Qd8 Scandinavian is quite playable. I would not advise it to the novice, but I would not call it a mistake either. – Anton Menshov Jun 12 '20 at 13:03
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    @AntonMenshov I agree. Whether or not it is a mistake in theory, in practice I would advise against it. It's a bit like playing 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5. That's technically not mistake, as it is often quoted in opening books, but is a terrible move to recommend to a beginner. The Qd8 example is a little less extreme, but I think the same idea holds. – Joe Jun 12 '20 at 14:36
  • 1
    While the early queen excursion to d5 in the Scandinavian defies the basic opening principles by bringing the queen out early, it only does so in order to achieve a concrete purpose: the temporary misplacement of white's queen's knight as it goes to c3, blocking the c-pawn. Your proposed follow-up 3...Qe5+ also defies the basic opening principles, but this time there is no clear purpose besides helping white in their development. – Scounged Jun 12 '20 at 17:06
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    In your last diagram, why does White play 5.d3 instead of 5d4? Is it considered ungentlemanly to attack a queen with a pawn, or what? – bof Jun 12 '20 at 23:58

This is a bit trivial as an answer, but too long as a comment. You claim that you can develop "as good as White" but that is simply not true. White begins by interposing the Bishop 4.Be2. You play 4..Bg4. It is now a mistake to play 5.Nf3 because 5..Bxf3 spoils whites Pawns and makes his King insecure. But 5.d4! also gains a development tempo, and forces Black to choose one of the two moves that does not lose a piece.

If 5..Qe6, then I would choose 6.Bf4 from among many good moves. Then 6..c6 7.Qd3 and the contrast between positions is huge.

If 5. Bxe2, then Nxe2, with a similar outcome.

Perhaps you were only concerned about losing a tempo to Nf3 and forgot about d4? I think that White is close to winning. Even if not, you have a long and perilous defence to look forward to.


The 3. .. Qe5+ is not a great continuation for black. Because:

  1. It does not threaten anything really. White can block with developing (!) a bishop: 4. Be2.
  2. It places blacks Queen in the center very early in the game where it will be a target of the attack for many whites pawns and pieces. Square e5 is far from a permanent position for the black queen, and black will spend several more queen moves, while white attacks the black queen with development. In short, the black queen certainly does not belong to e5.
  3. Usual black continuations are 3. .. Qa5, 3. .. Qd6, and 3. .. Qd8. In all of them, the theme is to get the queen out of the potential harassment. I strongly suggest looking at 3. .. Qa5 and 3. .. Qd6 ideas as they entail quite different plans and lead to interesting games.
  • Thank you for the reply. I edited my question. I don't really feel this lack of development, could you provide examples / sources? Maybe I miss sth. I would like to understand better. – soywod Jun 12 '20 at 14:10
  • @soywod It's a matter of counting tempi, which is a big deal in the opening. If you play 3...Qe5+, then you've spent 2 tempi on moving your queen around. At some point, white is going to play d2-d4 (a developing move that white wants to make in regardless of your queen's placement), forcing your queen to make a third move in the opening. While you spend 3 moves on moving your queen around the board, white will use the same 3 moves to develop their pieces harmoniously. So you end up severely behind in development in the end, after which it is going to be hard for you to catch up. – Scounged Jun 13 '20 at 2:22

But why it's a bad move?

You are moving your queen to a square where it is going to be attacked again soon and then you will have to move the queen for a third time. Meanwhile white is developing fast and you have no pieces developed.

  • Very good summary. I'd like to add that this is a common mistake newcomers to chess make, even after studying the game for a little while. Simply checking your opponent, with no follow-up, and no plan whatsoever, is invariably a bad idea. – Joe Jun 12 '20 at 12:36
  • Thank you for the reply. I edited my question. I don't really feel this lack of development, could you provide examples / sources? Maybe I miss sth. I would like to understand better. – soywod Jun 12 '20 at 14:12

Qe5+ is not a blunder or a mistake but it is definitely inaccurate play. Qa5 (most popular line) keeps a check on 2 central squares as well as Qd8.

Defending with bishop

Also in the second line you mentioned (Bc2) after Bg4, white has an excellent move d5! Now white has a tempo in development, space as well as development whereas black is trying to play with two pieces. Once you play the recommended Bxe2 Nxe2 the advantage for white is apparent as black scrambles to position his queen and start development when white has two pieces and a pawn out in the game.
This is why it's a bad idea to play Qe5+. It may not look like you're losing much but the advantage white has is more apparent the higher the level you play at.


I own the old books from Dr. M. Euwe, still the most comprehensive for chess opening moves. The 9th volume covers Scandinavian defense starting on p. 137; this variant is not mentioned. So I tend to agree that from a development standpoint this is a bad move


It's a classic beginner's mistake to make a check for check's sake. You have to ask yourself what you have gained from that check? You basically allowed your opponent to develop one more piece. Their king will be safe after castling which you have helped speed up, and your Queen will be ripe for the picking. In essence you lost a tempo (due to you having to move the queen out of harm later) while your opponent gets the opportunity to further their development.

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