The Scotch game is an opening that appears very similar initially to the Ruy Lopez, one of White’s most popular setups. I personally always play the Berlin defense against the Ruy Lopez and 80% of the time that’s how it plays out, however I rarely saw the Scotch in the lower ELO brackets so when it did come around I out of book very quickly.
As you can see from the image below 3. d4 is what is played in the Scotch instead of 3. Bb5. This has an incredible change on the way the game continues on, it push center pressure immediately and there isn’t a great way to answer that pressure without conceding the center to White. Black’s best move is to take on d4 allowing White to recapture and have the pawn majority in the center.
This is in contrast to the Ruy Lopez where both sides will develop and castle before capturing usually, this is one of the reasons why knowing the theory for the Scotch is important if the aim is to play the typical defense to 1. e4.
First a little history on the QG opening, it’s one of the oldest known openings having been mentioned as far back as 1490 and anaylized throughout the 17th by Greco and 18th by Stamma. In early modern chess Queen pawn openings were not as common as King pawn, this was during the swash buckling and heroic Romantic Era on the board where grand Checkmates were the fashion. Opening with 1.d4 led to slower more positional games which hadn’t been picked up until the tournament in Vienna in 1873.
Here is our starting point for the QGD:Marshall as I will always capture the central pawn with the wing pawn. After cxd5 Black is forced to recapture with the Queen or the Knight if Black recaptures at all. Although I have never seen anyone play 3…c6 which leads to the Tan Gambit, it is a choice of response however the majority of the people will recapture. Rare as other variations may be I will still take a look at them in the analysis linked below along with the mainlines and personal preferences and why.