Plans in the Scotch Gambit

Me and my practice buddy met on FICS the other day. Topic was the Scotch Gambit. I must say, practice buddies are a great improvement “tool”, especially if they happen to be stronger than you! Nothing compares to listening to a stronger player articulate his plans.

We focused on one line of the Scotch Gambit in particular: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Ld7 8. Bxc6 bxc6. Here’s the tabia:

The conclusions we reached hark back to two classical principles: the principle of securing the centre before attacking on the flank, and the principle of two weaknesses. To get more concrete, here are some plans for White:

  • castle and develop (obviously)
  • challenge Black’s knight on e4
  • prevent Black from playing c5 (securing the centre before attacking on the flank)
  • attack on the queenside with pawns to provoke a second weakness in Black’s camp and distract Black’s kingside defenders
  • attack on the kingside with the pawn ram f3-f4-f5-f6
  • once you manage to get Black into a bind (if you do), either bring your pieces to the kingside or invade on the queenside

I won’t go into details, and I’m not quite sure how to convert such plans into gifs. Here’s a gif showing key positions from one of our games in which I’m steamrolled by White, who’s putting the above plans into practice.

Speaking of pawn pushes, here’s an idea: don’t move your pieces to squares where you intend to push your pawns ;)

Update: To rub it in, here’s a gif summing up some plans for the player with more space (partly also inspired by Silman’s The Amateur’s Mind).


3 Responses to Plans in the Scotch Gambit

  1. lihnuxguy says:

    That 4.Bc4 is like fools-gold, IMO, but very popular on the internet. Show me the world championship match where that line got played. hehe.

    I think I would prefer to be Black in that diagrammed position and give White the move.

    • chunkyrook says:

      You’re right that the Bc4 line is not world championship material, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there ;)

      I think it’s a neat opening for the improving player. Straightforward plans, piece & centre play, and is more likely to throw off your opponent in the beginning because it’s not a direct Giuoco Piano / Four Knights, but a sort of roundabout way of getting there.

      By the way, I noticed some super GM’s (in particular Radjabov) use the Giuoco and the Four Knights lately, which is encouraging. And here’s a game by Nakamura in this line:

      Edit: Just for the record: I don’t really believe in assessing openings for the 1700-2000 bracket in terms of how successful they are at grandmaster level. Once you go past 2000, it’s a different story because then players actually are able to figure out why exactly certain openings fail at expert level by looking at what the grandmasters play. That’s my guess, anyhow.

  2. gambaz says:


    thanks for the interesting explanation! :)

    BTW: black should play better with 7. … Bc5


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