Scotch Game Schmidt Variation

The Schmidt Variation is what Karpov chose when Kasparov used the Scotch Game as a surprise weapon in 1990.

For an introduction to the Scotch, watch this video on the basics:

It is very rare that the most popular variation among grandmasters is a very fund and complex attacking one. That exactly is the case with the Scotch game! On the highest levels, the Schmidt variation (also known as the Mieses Variation) is the most popular way for black to face the opening.

As opposed to the classical variation (Bc5), the Schmidt (Nf6), leads to an imbalanced pawn structure, with black accepting weaknesses on the queenside, and white accepting a Alekhine-like over extended e5 pawn which can often become a liability.

Most often, the pawn is even going to be sacrificed for an initiative, and white is seldom going to achieve a safe position with the pawn traded off or defended. These factors, along with the most common positioning of the bishops for both sides (which and up on the long diagonals) mean that most games in the Schmidt Scotch end in a decisive result!

The resulting middlegame positions are complex, volatile and double edged. Most strong players have to improvise very early on due to the vast number of options and piece tension.

White is the one who chooses what the game will be like. Early on, as soon as black plays Nf6, the Schmidt, white can go for two different moves. Nc3 is safer and I would say easier to play. After that move, black is not going to want an endgame because his structure is worse and any endgame should be better for white.

If white goes for the main move, Nxc6, then white is saying that he is going for the win! Accepting risks and weaknesses of his own and attacking at all costs!

To study the variation, look at Garry Kasparov’s games. He was the one who revived the Scotch in the 90s, and his contribution is vast. After his match against Karpov in Lyon, it soon gained popularity and you can find numerous grandmasters who now use it as one of their main weapons!

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