postheadericon The Scotch Gambit, And Why You Should Accept My Kindness

Aye lass, doont try'un deny me.

I simply do not know why people “decline” the Scotch Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 [something stupid that’s not exd4]). Is it because they know the Scotch is good? No, because if the Scotch is good down a pawn, it would be even better with that pawn. Is it because there’s a good way to decline the gambit? No. There’s only one other move that makes any sense, Nxd4 and it's not very good. (d6 is just a bad version of Philidor, and Nf6 leads to bad position).

What’s so menacing about taking a pawn? It’s not like, say, the Cottage Trap or Pratt Trap where taking the proffered pawn is clearly dubious. After 3... exd4, White’s biggest “threat” is to have a long term positional advantage, but if you feared that so much why'd you play 2... e5?

So what is it then? It seems like after I play 3. d4, my opponents assume I want them to take the pawn and that alone leads them to decline the gambit. If they thought about the position for a few minutes, they’d see that exd4 is clearly the best move. But no, instead of checking out a position, they simply avoid it using the “That’s what he wants me to do” reasoning. This is not the way to play chess.

To illustrate my point, I will post some of my games in which my opponents devise some whacky ways to decline the Scotch, and how they quickly get a bad position. The following game was against a 2200+(!) player, demonstrating how worthless the online ELO is.