A Cheeky Scandi, Part 2

Unsurprisingly, my gushing admiration of a Cheeky Scandi meant that my previous article went on long enough to warrant a Part 2 (and I suspect Parts 3, 4 and 5…). Last time we looked at one of White’s most common replies in long, over-the-board games. This time around we will see what happens when White plays naturally but greedily, a typical approach in online Blitz chess.

Before all that though, there were a couple of outstanding problems from last week that we will go over now.

Puzzle 1

After 14. Bxf6 Black ignored the piece to open up the kingside. 14… Rxg2+! 15. Kxg2 Rg8+ In the game both sides now exchange mutual blunders with 16. Bg5? More accurate was 16. Qg5 transposing into the game without giving Black an extra opportunity. 16… Rxg5? Faster was 16… Bf4! using the pin to win more material. 17. Qxg5 Qxg5+ 18. Kf3 Qh5+ Materially, White is doing OK but with the king open to the queen’s threat and passive rooks, he is lost. Well done if you got to the end without making the same error I did!

Puzzle 2

The attacked knight doesn’t retreat but instead jumps towards the White king. 13… Nh2! White’s best move is to surrender the rook on f1 but understandable in a rapid game he walked into 14. Re1 Nf3+! Again, the rook should be offered but this is a worse version than on the previous move. Instead, White demanded proof. 15. gxf3 exf3 The game ended after 16. Nd2? Qg5+ with mate next move. The more testing variation when 16. Re3 Qg5+ 17. Kf1 c5!! A beautiful move aimed at undermining the defence of e3 to open up either the d or e file. I was nowhere near seeing this line during the game; I just had the experience to know these Nf3+ sacrifices are dangerous in these types of position and that was enough intuition for a rapid game. Consider this solved if you got to the position after move 15.

Getting back to today’s topic, we will look at the one of the most exciting variations in the Cheeky Scandi and go over how an opponent might naturally stumble into it.

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Bg4 4. f3 White gets to kick the dangerous bishop away with tempo and constitutes the main line. 4… Bf5 5. c4 This, however, is getting on the greedy side but defending the extra pawn and building a solid centre seems natural. 5… e6 6. dxe6 White may expect a recapture when Black has some open lines for some compensation for the gambit. There are usually incredibly surprised after 6… Nc6!

Black offers another pawn for speedy development. In fact, 7. exf7+?! Kf7 is invariantly played online but computers agree that White is already incredibly close to lost. After all, White has spent the first seven turns moving their pawns, while Black is developing with tempo.

It is no surprise to me that Smerdon opens up his book on the Scandinavian with a chapter on this variation. It is exciting, incredibly sharp and sets the tone for a swashbuckling opening, a standard ploy in books about gambits. Let’s have a look at some common ideas from a recent 5+3 Blitz game online, where White got absolutely bombarded throughout the game even though the accuracy dropped a bit. The identities of those involved have been changed for their protection.

By no stretch of the imagination a perfect game but it shows how difficult things can be for White even after mistakes from Black. The game and its variations show common themes like Rxe3 and Ng4. The following puzzle shows another cool idea that is possible in such positions.

Puzzle 3

While researching my Blitz game for this post, I noticed this position had also been reached by Magnus Carlsen, so he’s in good company. We both came up with similar ideas in this position, me going 11… Qe7+ 12. Kf2 Nxd4 and Magnus going 11… Nxd4 directly, both exploiting potential pins on the g1-a7 diagonal. Sadly, I couldn’t copy the result of the World Champion despite being much better after our continuations. However, Black has a killer decoy available missed by both of us, when its refusal leads to key theme that has been mentioned before.

Solution next time.

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