3……Qd8 Scandinavian, The

Simple and Strong

Daniel Lowinger

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Russell Engerprises
176 pages

THE 3…Qd8 SCANDINAVIAN, SIMPLE AND STRONG by Dan Lowinger deals with a variation of the Scandinavian that is not so well known as the traditional 3…Qa5 and the modern and trendy 3…Qd6. The author, a master from Connecticut, does a good job in his introduction of explaining the motivations behind the seemingly illogical 3…Qd8, which appears to be a clear violation of opening principles. Lowinger points out that some Scandinavian players are looking for Caro-Kann type positions (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5) who want to avoid the advance variation (3.e5).

The Scandinavian is unquestionable the most self-directed of Black’s answers to 1.e4 as after 1…d5 only 2.exd5 makes sense. For practicality it is second to none for both amateurs and professionals. The question is just how good is 3…Qd8? The traditional view, familiar to anyone who remembers Fischer’s crushes of Robatsch and Addison, is that Black’s queen retreat is simply a lost of time. Lowinger begs to differ. He holds that in a semi-open position Black’s position can afford the loss of time. In other lines of the Scandinavian Black’s queen ends up on c7 and in the 3…Qd8 variation it often just arrives there via a different route.

The modern lines with 3…Qd8 often lend themselves to flexible play. After 4.d4 Nf6 5.Bc4 Black can choose between 5…a6 and 5…c6. The latter has definite Caro-Kann like tendencies after 6.Nf3 Bf5. Against 5.Bg5 Black answers with 5…h6 while on 5.Nf3 c6 6.Bc4 b5 or 5…Bg4. In the latter line after 6.h3 the retreat 6…Bh5? 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 e6 9.Bg2 c6 10.h4 Bb4 11.0-0! leaves Black in serious trouble. Instead 6…Bxf3 7.Qxf3 leads to a typical Caro-Kann/Slav structure (also with some similarities to the Fort Knox Variation of the French – 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bd7 followed by …Bc6xe4). White typically has a small edge in these type of positions but Black’s setup is solid if slightly passive. Those whose ambitions don’t extend beyond reaching a playable middlegame will find 3…Qd8 a good practical weapon be it as their regular opening to 1.e4 or as a surprise weapon.