Scotch Game - Complete Repertoire for White
The Scotch Game has recently gained popularity as many top-level players have used it frequently. One of the benefits of choosing this opening is that White is taking his opponent out of his comfort zone.
Nowadays almost all top players tried it from time to time, but Nakamura and Nepomniachti played it regularly and very successfully.
IM Ris is providing us with a complete repertoire for White which offers many new and unexplored ideas. The main tactical and strategical ideas are very well explained, but also many interesting novelties are revealed.
The database contains 15 Theoretical Chapters and 15 Test Positions.
After the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4, we reach the starting position of the Scotch Game.
Black tried almost all logical moves in this position. IM Ris analyzed 12 different moves here.
In chapter 1, he deals with all the rare lines. Chapters 2 and 3 are dedicated to the move 4...Bb4+ while Chapter 4 features the tricky 4...Qf6. Chapters 5-9 are about the move 4...Bc5. The last 6 chapters 10-15 provide complete coverage of the Mieses Variation (4...Nf6).
Chapter 1 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 - Rare Lines for Black
In this chapter, you will find all the rare lines which almost disappeared from the serious tournament practice. Ris analyzed 6 different continuations: 4...g6, 4...Be7, 4...Nxd4, 4...Nge7, 4...Qh4 and 4...d5.
All these moves are playable, but White easily gains an advantage.
Chapter 2 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bb4+ 5.c3 Bc5
There was a time when this system was considered to be a serious alternative to the main continuations, starting with 4...Nf6 and 4...Bc5. However, since the theory is developing, this mysterious provocation isn't that popular any longer. The alternative 5...Be7 is examined in the next chapter. In the position on the diagram, White should continue 6.Be3 Bb6 7.Nf5! forcing the exchange of dark-squared bishops and preparing a setup with pawns on c4 and e4 and knights on c3 and e3. In such a structure, White's space secures a lasting advantage.
Chapter 3 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bb4+ 5.c3 Be7
A system with a solid reputation, although the ensuing positions are looking passive for Black. The author suggests the most aggressive 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bc4!
Chapter 4 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qf6
Tricky move tried even by Magnus Carlsen. Black wants to trick White with the move order and transpose to 5.Be3 (or 5.Nxc6) 5...Bc5 which are out of the scope of our repertoire.
White has two moves with an independent value - 5.Nb5 and 5.Nb3. IM Ris chooses the second one and suggests some very important novelties in the line 5...Qg6 6.f3!
Chapter 5 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb4+
In case Black wants to refrain from the main lines with 5...Bb6, before retreating the bishop to e7, it makes sense inserting this check. IM Ris proves that White is better after the natural developing moves 6.c3 Be7 7.Bf4 followed by Nd2, Be2 and 0-0.
Chapter 6 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb6 6.Nc3 Setups d6 and/or Nge7
The system with 5.Nb3 was considered harmless for Black since 10 years ago, but in the past decade becomes the main weapon for White against the 4...Bc5 system. White's main idea is to castle long and then start pushing his pawns on the kingside. White has good control over the centre and for Black is not easy to come up with an active plan. The main move for Black is 6...Nf6 which will be the subject of the next 4 chapters. In this one, Ris deals with the systems in which Black starts with 6...d6 or 6...Ne7.
According to the analysis, White keeps an upper hand in those lines.
Chapter 7 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2 a5
This move got into fashion when Carlsen played it against Vachier-Lagrave back in 2014. It was also a recommendation of GM Evgeny Postny in his Black's repertoire database for Modern Chess. The move 8.e5 is the most principled continuation which leads to wild complications. This line is analyzed in-depth in the database. The author can't find an advantage for White and that's why he recommends the move 8.a4!. Then after 8...0-0 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bh4 we transpose to the positions which are analyzed in Chapter 9.
Chapter 8 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2 0-0 8.Bg5 Nd4
The move 8...Nd4 is the main alternative to the main line 8...h6 (Chapter 9).
Black is defending against the threat of Nd5 and is trying to regroup his pieces.
The position after 9.Nxd4 Bxd4 is what Black is aiming for. That's why the author suggests 9.Qd2! Nxb3 10.axb3
A critical moment as Black has some issues to solve. First of all, the knight on f6 is pinned and that's quite unpleasant for Black who is struggling to complete the development. Secondly, White has a pleasant space advantage hence Black should try to generate counterplay against the pawn on e4 by playing ...Re8 or break with ...d7-d5. White's chances are preferable in all lines.
Chapter 9 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nb3 Bb6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2 0-0 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bh4
The main line in our variation. Black has a choice among four different continuations: 9...a5, 9...Nd4, 9...d6, 9...Re8.
The author shows that in all these lines, White's play is easier. The pin is quite unpleasant and White has a clear plan - to organize a kingside attack.
Chapter 10 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 - Introduction and Rare Lines
Move 4...Nf6 or so-called Mieses Variation is the most popular way for Black to face Scotch game. The positions are unbalanced and very often quite sharp. The point of White's play is to exploit Black's early development of his king's knight. Black, on the other hand, should try not to waste too much time moving around with his knight. As a rule of thumb, we could state that in case White manages to consolidate and strengthen his position by overprotecting the pawn on e5 he should be doing fine. However, Black should try to challenge the pawn weakness on e5, thus proving White's position overextended. In this Chapter, we briefly discuss the minor alternatives 6...Ne4 and 6...Nd5, while in the next chapters we are focusing on our main line 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4
The move 8.h4!? is quite rare and less explored in the opening theory. The reader can see how IM Ris explains his choice.
The move which back in 1987 had been employed quite successfully by Scotch expert John van der Wiel. The line soon disappeared from GM level play, until 2015 when Alexander Morozevich picked it up and made some important contributions. Recently, top GMs as Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura, and Cheparinov have shown that the line is worth further investigation. As so often with opening theory, I don't think I'm able to prove an advantage for White in most of the lines. However, my main goal with this repertoire is to provide the reader with an overview on the current state of this and make you well prepared in a line you are likely to know better than your opponents. The theory is still fresh here and I imagine a lot of new contributions are expected to follow soon!
Chapter 11 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4 d6
Even though the 8...d6 is logical and most popular reply for Black, the author proves that White easily reaches a slightly better position after the logical 9.c4! Nb6 (9...Ba6 and 9...Nb4?! are also analyzed) 10.exd6!
In this position both 10...cxd6 11.Be3 and entering the endgame by 10...Qxe2 failed to equalize.
Chapter 12 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4 f6
Quite logical try to undermine White's centre. The main line continues 9.c4 Ba6 (9...Nb6?! was also analyzed) 10.Rh3!?
This adventurous move shows why you should love to play 8.h4!.
The arising positions are quite interesting and the author suggests some new and unexplored ideas.
Chapter 13 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4 Qe6
Another logical try for Black. White tried different setups here, 9.Nd2, 9.c4, 9.g3.
IM Ris made a full overview of all of them.
Chapter 14 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4 Bb7
This move became popular in the Main Line (8.c4) of the Mieses Variation with 8...Nb6, thanks to the efforts of Kramnik who won a spectacular game against Shirov in 2011. The idea is to castle queenside and aim to strike in the centre. However, I'm not sure if it makes too much sense here as White has the option to go for a rook lift on the 3rd rank.
Chapter 15 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4 a5
Modern opening play - a rook's pawn move should be answered with a rook's pawn move on the other wing! On a serious note, I think Black's move is quite useful as well. Some points:
1) White often wants to strengthen the pawn formation by creating the chain a2-b3-c4. In such a case Black is ready to play a5-a4, opening the a-file and activating the rook on a8.
2) In some cases, Black wants to develop the bishop to a6.
White has several possible continuations: 9.c4, 9.Nd2, 9.g3, 9.Bg5. The author makes an overview of all of them and explains very clearly the pros and cons of each one.
In this section, you will find 15 interactive exercises which allow you to test your understanding of the theoretical positions.