I am working on multiple lines from Scandinavian defense, with the goal to resurrect them. One line I'm working on is 3...Qd8, and I have managed to achieve quite playable positions ( the results are the best so far, regarding other lines like 3...Qe5+ or 3...Qa5/Qd6 ).

Although I can get rock solid position from the opening, I just can't find the long term plan for Black.

The line I am referring is :

[Title "Scandinavian defense, with Qd8"]
[fen ""]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.Nf3 c6 5.d4 Bf5!? 6.Bd3!? Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6 8.O-O Nf6 9.Bf4 Nbd7

Here is a diagram that illustrates the kind of positions I usually face:

[Title "Black to move"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "r2q1rk1/pp1nbppp/2p1pn2/8/2PP1B2/2NQ1N2/PP3PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 1"]

I just don't know how to battle White's space advantage. I don't have a plan for engineering a freeing break.

Is there anyone who plays similar pawn structure, and is willing to give me some pointers on how to play this position as Black?

  • As Black's pawn structure is similar to the one in the Slav defense, maybe you should play for the typical there c5 and e5 breaks to gain some space and fight White's center. In the position above the c5 break seems reasonable. Hope this helps! Aug 19, 2014 at 13:15
  • @TomislavDyulgerov: That was my first thought, but I was unable to find concrete moves that implement this plan ( I need clear long term plan ). After 1...c5 2.d5!? I like White's position since he has initiative. Aug 19, 2014 at 13:23
  • I see, you're right. I'll try to come up with a more constructive long term plan, not just a single move. Aug 19, 2014 at 13:26
  • I don't play the Scandinavian as black... but a naive plan might be continued overprotection of d5 and lining the rooks up on the d-file, making d4 a permanent weakness
    – tbischel
    Aug 19, 2014 at 18:30
  • @tbischel: I have tried waiting tactics based on that idea, but in the above position it is hard to repost bishop and knight effectively to achieve rook lineup you suggest. I have tried with 1...Qa5 with ...Rfd8 + Nf8 -> Ng6 but still had no time to redeploy the bishop effectively... Aug 19, 2014 at 18:54

2 Answers 2


For logical reasons the 3...Qd8 Scandinavian is not popular among top grandmasters whatsoever , Stockfish 5 gives it 0.45 after running for around a 5 minutes compared to 0.00 in the French Defense after 3.Nc3 Nf6

For this variation I would recommend looking at the games of Montenegrin Grandmaster Nikola Djukic, who is the only grandmaster who employs the 3...Qd8 variation regurlarly. He also has a plus score with it against an opposition elo average of 2496 which is nice.

The 3...Qd6 Scandinavian is a lot more popular. The very strong Grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov has implemented it regurlarly with a massive plus score against an elo average of 2659.

The 3...Qa5 Scandinavian is the most popular of the 3, the Serbian Grandmaster Miodrag R Savic can be considered a specialist on this since he plays it approximately 71% of the time against 1.e4 with a very positive score against an elo average of 2508.

I've decided to just ignore the 3...Qe5+ variation, which is also called the "Patzer Variation" White scores 71.1% after 4.Be2

Of course this post would not be complete if I didn't answer your question on how to find a plan in the given positions.


Unfortunately the line you are referring to in the first game has only 2 games in Mega Database 2014.

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "?"]
[Round "?"]
[White "?"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "?"]
[Title "Scandinavian defense, with Qd8"]
[fen ""]

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.Nf3 c6 5.d4 Bf5!? 6.Bd3!? (6.Bc4) Bxd3 7.Qxd3 e6 8.O-O Nf6 9.Bf4 Nbd7

OK, in the final position black is solid but there is pretty much no way for him/her to win (naturally, with exceptions in human play). White is castled, has 3 pieces and a pawn putting pressure on the center with an added space advantage. White is clearly better, the game has certainly not equalized in blacks favor. Maybe you have avoided theory and complications but unfortunately that is all you have gained.

Another problem with such a position is that black is really lacking in play here. This makes it much harder to formulate a plan of some sort, maybe this is why you are struggling to find a long term plan.


 [Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Black to Move"]
[Black ""]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "r2q1rk1/pp1nbppp/2p1pn2/8/2PP1B2/2NQ1N2/PP3PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "5"]

1... Nh5 (1... Qb6 2.c5 Qd8  (2. a3 c5)) 2. Bd2 (2. Bg3 $6 Nxg3 3. hxg3
$11) 2... Nhf6 3. Rfe1 Qc7 4.Rad1

In the second diagram your main plan should probably be the elimination of the f5 Bishop, which is severely cramping your position. So therefore Nh5 comes to mind, if the Bishop retreats to g3, simply chop it off and the position is equal, however white can retreat the Bishop and it is not so clear how to proceed for black. I have given some small variations to go by but overall the position seems to be completely devoid of play for black. Black is lacking in any sort of counter-play to put it bluntly. OK maybe after 3...Qc7 you can centralize the rooks with rook a8 to d8 and rook f8 to e8 and slowly maneuver your pieces, waiting for white, maybe move your d7 Knight to f8 to clear open the d-file and prepare a possible ...Ng6. Black basically just has to sit and wait. The engine recommends ideas involving ...a6 but I find this quite dubious and unnatural, not suited for human play.

White on the other hand has the clear idea of d5, centralizing the rooks, h3 to maintain the powerful dark squared Bishop. The position is rich for white. Better to say the least, because he/she has a clear plan to follow by.

I know that the computer evaluation is a powerful thing, but we are not computers. I highly suggest picking another variation to go by, one which involves "play". For a position with counter-play and imbalances is much more important than a dry one such as this one despite the silicon machine saying 0.36.

I personally think that the 3...Qd8 Scandinavian variation is a very dubious one which should be avoided at all costs by the improving chess player and should only be played for the element of surprise.

All statistics courtesy of Chessbase Mega Database 2014

  • Thank you for your help ( this post is limited only to ...Qd8. I am not interested in ...Qa5 and ...Qd6. The point is to resurrect old lines ). The position is indeed easier to play 4 White but I believe that Black can reach fully playable position ( I have found few plans but they are not 100% proven to work in every case scenario ... ). At the moment I must redirect my attention to job offerings but I will return to this post soon. Upvoted as a small token of gratitude. Aug 20, 2014 at 20:45
  • Thanks for the up-vote and appreciation, more information has been added to improve the question.
    – sco-ish
    Aug 21, 2014 at 1:36
  • In the line you gave you don't have to trade the B immediately in the variant you brought up.
    – user8213
    Sep 29, 2015 at 5:26

I inputted your position into Stockfish for analysis, and this is the continuation that the machine suggested:

[Title "StockFish analysis"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "r2q1rk1/pp1nbppp/2p1pn2/8/2PP1B2/2NQ1N2/PP3PPP/R4RK1 b - - 0 1"]

1...Rc8 2.Rfe1 Nh5 3.Be3 Qb6 4.Qe2 Qa5 5.a3 Rfe8 6.Qd3 Red8 7.b4 Qc7 8.Qc2 h6 9.g3 b5 10.c5 a5 11.Ne4 Ra8 12.Bd2 a4 13.Nc3 Re8 14.Be3 Red8 15.Rad1 Rac8 16.Ne4.

We end up with the following position:

[Title "Resulting position"]
[StartFlipped "0"]
[fen "2rr2k1/2qnbpp1/2p1p2p/1pP4n/pP1PN3/P3BNP1/2Q2P1P/3RR1K1 b - - 0 1"]

Additionally, even though White has an +0.52 advantage, nothing much can be done with that advantage since Black managed to create a very solid defense (without any attacking perspectives). If I would be playing this, I would propose a draw.

I also tried from this position to move Nd7-f6, but then that gets countered with Ne5. N:e4, Queen recaptures, but that once again doesn't lead anywhere after Nh5-f6. Drawish position, no attacking chance for Black if White play it carefully.

  • 2
    Unfortunately, your position is strategically almost won for White ( I have played very similar positions a lot as Black and it isn't "nice" ). Similar position is covered in Andrew Soltis-Pawn Structure Chess (1995). Holding a draw in such positions is nearly impossible, especially against stronger opponent. Thank you for your help, I have upvoted your answer. Aug 19, 2014 at 11:27
  • I have edited your answer with proper diagrams and notation ( we use English notation -> N for knight, K for king, Q for queen... ). You can learn how to create diagrams by reading this post. Aug 19, 2014 at 11:35
  • 6
    I am not very fond of mere computer analysis (which I'm sure even AlwaysLearningNewStuff) can do. The question is, what is the "plan". Computers don't plan. They just make moves. Aug 19, 2014 at 14:09

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