Scotch Gambit

The Scotch Gambit is an enterprising alternative to the Scotch Game where White offers the "d4’ pawn as a gambit, similar in some ways to the Danish Gambit. White leaves the pawn alone and develops the Bishop. The starting moves are those of the Scotch Game, but White simply does not recapture the pawn.

Diagram: Scotch Gambit

Black can safely accept the gambit (Scotch Gambit Accepted), or can decline in numerous ways, usually by transposing to another opening such as the Two Knights Defence, Giuoco Piano, or the Max Lange Attack.

Various lines include:

  • 4..Bc5
  • 4..Bc5, 5.c3!? (the Scotch Gambit proper)
  • 4..Bc5, 5.c3 5. Nf6 (the Giuoco Piano main line of the “Greco Attack” with c3 and d4)
  • 4..Bc5 5.c3, 5. dxc3 (the Scotch Gambit Accepted)
  • 4..Bc5, 5.c3 dxc3 (the Scotch Gambit Accepted)
  • 4..Bc5, 5.c3 dxc3, 6.Bxf7+ (White recovers the pawn in the Scotch Gambit Accepted)
  • 4..Bc5, 5.O-O, 5. Nf6 (the Max Lange Attack)
  • 4..Nf6 (immediately, this is the Two Knights Defence line with "d4’)

Scotch Gambit Proper (with 5.c3)

Line 4..Bc5: If Black plays Bc5, then White may continue the gambit with “c3” or alternatively White may castle, where Nf6 leads to the Max Lange Attack (“4…Bc5, 5. O-O Nf6, 6.e5 d5, etc.).

Diagram: Scotch Gambit

Scotch Gambit Tranposition to Max Lange Attack

Note that instead of “5.c3”, White could play “5.O-O” when “5..Nf6” is the Max Lange Attack (yet again). White plays “e5” and Black replies “..d5”.

Diagram: Max Lange Attack (via Scotch Gambit)

The Max Lange Attack lines are so old and so well-analyzed that they are not a threat to a strong player who knows the theory.

Scotch Gambit Tranposition to Giuoco Piano with 5..Nf6

Instead of accepting the Scotch Gambit with dxc3, Black can play 5..Nf6 and transpose into the main line of the Giuoco Piano.

Diagram: Giuoco Piano from Scotch Gambit

Line 4..Bc5 c3, 5..Nf6: Now, after 5.c3, if Black plays “5..Nf6”, then we’ve reached the Giuoco Piano line (with c3 and d4), which has been over-analyzed to death. But it’s not often seen in tournament chess these days, so it may even have surprise value!

Scotch Gambit Accepted (dxc3)

Diagram: Scotch Gambit Accepted

Line 4..Bc5 c3, 5..dxc3: Scotch Gambit Accepted: the main gambit line is if Black accepts the gambit with 5..dxc3. Then White has 6.Bxf7+ and 7.Qd5+ to regain the pawn, but the result can be a boring endgame with a Queen exchange.

Transposition to the Two Knight’s Defence with 4..Nf6

Diagram: Scotch Gambit Declined into Two Knight’s Defence

Line 4..Nf6 (Two Knights Defence): If Black plays 4..Nf6 (earlier than 5..Nf6), then we’ve already transposed into the Two Knight’s Defence (the d4 line). White can castle into the old boring line (“5.O-O Nxe4, 6.Re1 d5, etc.”), or 5.Ng5!? is the lesser-known “Perreux variation”.

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