Is the scotch game a good chess opening? (The truth)

If you have watched some of Garry Kasparov’s games then you know that the scotch game is one of his favorites to play. This actually makes sense if you know the theme of this opening.

And that is the point of this article, I will be analyzing the scotch game and determine whether it is a good opening overall. I will list the positives and negatives of this variation.

Is the scotch game good? As a chess player here is what I know:

The scotch game is a good opening to go for if a player prefers aggressive positions. The former world champion Garry Kasparov plays the scotch game a lot due to his aggressive style, which tells a lot about its effectiveness. It has downsides but it is a good opening overall.

If you have no idea what does the scotch game looks like here is a good picture for you:

After pawn to d4, the position has now officially entered the scotch game. The picture above illustrates it.

I think this is a really good opening choice if it suits your particular playing style, this article should help you identify if this is for you. With all of that in mind, let’s get started.

The scotch game is a good opening if you want to play aggressively

The scotch game is a good opening to go for if you are looking to play an aggressive game, it offers a lot of variation for tactics and attacks.

The reason why the former world champion Garry Kasparov liked it so much is because he has an aggressive style overall, he likes taking risks and attacking when there is an opportunity.

This opening promises a lot of opportunity for attacks as white, in fact as soon as it is played, there will already be a variation that can stir things up (scotch gambit).

Tactical players often find it difficult to play a silent position where there’s not a lot of things going on, even if someone is a good aggressive player they still need to choose the right opening.

The scotch already challenges the center as early as possible giving chances for an attack, and this is not short term either. A lot of long-term variations in the scotch game also have attacking opportunities.

If you are looking to play a particular game aggressively then the scotch game is one that you should really look for, it is aggressive even though it is not a gambit.

The scotch game is a good opening if you prefer having active pieces

The scotch game makes it so that white would naturally have more activity over black (there might be few variations where it is the opposite but is not common). However, black should be fine if played properly.

It is very rare for white to not have an active piece development when playing the scotch, in the majority of the cases white will have very active pieces.

This is great if you are an aggressive player since having active pieces means that they can influence the game much earlier than anticipated, they will have a purpose for the game.

This early activity can be great later on even if it is not converted into a full advantage, having active pieces means having more chances later in the game.

It is important to note that even if white is slightly better in development it should be fine for black if played correctly, it’s not like black will be completely losing. So keep this in mind when playing this opening.

The scotch game is a bad opening if you are still a beginner

If you are a beginner, the scotch game might not be for you since it can be too complicated to understand. There are potential gambits in place that might not suit your level.

There is  so much variation to look at that it will make studying quite extensive and not very fruitful, you are better off learning other openings.

Beginners usually don’t have the time investment required for the amount of work that they do, it is just more efficient to study other openings that are more practical.

Plus there are so many ways that your opponent can deviate from this opening by playing the Petrov, French defense, Caro-kann etc., you might not be able to use the things that you have started.

If we look at the actual opening it is also difficult to absorb if you are just starting to learn the game, there are too many attacking ideas to understand.

A complete beginner is likely to be very confused about learning such ideas that they will become unproductive, it is better to start with a simple opening that is likely to be used in real games.

The scotch game is a good opening if you want to crush weaker players

It is a bad opening to go for if you are still learning but you can definitely use it to crush other lower-rated players. The complication that it brings makes it hard for weaker players to play well. 

When somebody is lower-rated they are less likely to find the best solution to complications without studying it beforehand. This applies to the majority of the players.

Those that are at lower end of the ranking are also likely to never studied an opening like the scotch game, it is less popular than the italian game or the ruy lopez for example.

If you play this opening against someone who has a lot of experience, they are likely to have learned some things about the scotch game over the years of playing. It would not be as effective.

If you play this against someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience in the first place, it is very likely that they have no idea how to play against it since it is not popular.

Of course you can still play this against strong opponents, but this variation is better when played against weaker opponents. 

If you are looking for beginner-crusher openings, then the scotch game is something that you may want to look for.

Final thoughts

Overall the scotch game is a good opening if you prefer an aggressive position where there are a lot of opportunities for attacks, it definitely carries some risks however.

The dynamic positions that it brings may be a double-edged sword that could backfire if not handled properly, this is why it is advised to actually study it before playing.

It gives a tactic-centric game where there might be a lot of positional weakness that can be taken advantage of, it is definitely a good option for white if they are looking for an aggressive game.

You may want to take a look at this opening if you describe your playing style as a bit “aggressive”, this variation might suit your taste. That is all for this article, sleep well and play chess.