|Moves||1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6|
The position may readily be reached by a number of different
Black is threatening to capture the white
For the Semi-Slav the
The main line continues with 5...Nbd7. The bishop moves 5...Bd6 and 5...Be7 are seldom seen, as masters realized early on that at e7, the bishop was passively placed and does nothing to further one of Black's aims, the freeing move ...e5. The unusual move 5...a6 is considered solid for Black. Some sources call 5...a6 the "accelerated Meran".
The main variation of the Semi-Slav is the Meran Variation, 6... dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 (ECO codes D46 to D49), when play usually continues with 8.Bd3, with 8.Be2 and 8.Bb3 less common alternatives. The line was first played in 1906 in the game Schlechter–Perlis. The variation takes its name from the town of Meran (
After the move 8.Bd3, Black usually plays 8...a6. Bent Larsen introduced the move 8...Bb7, which has been dubbed the "improved Meran". According to one source, the move was first played in 1923, but since it was developed by Larsen, it carries his name. Black can also play 8...Bd6, which is the move Anand played in his victory over
Though appearing in contemporary master play with less frequency than the Meran, there are other possibilities: 6...Be7, 6...Bb4, introduced by the Italian master
6...Bd6 and now 7. 0-0 0-0 8. e4 dxe4 9. Nxe4 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 is the most common line. There are now several alternatives for Black, with one a clear error, as it loses a pawn: 10... e5 11. dxe5 Nxe5 12. Nxe5 Bxe5 13. Bxh7+ Kxh7 14. Qh5+ Kg8 15. Qxe5. This line, however, has a strong drawish tendency in practice, due to the opposite-colored bishops, although all the heavy pieces remain on the board.
Black's other choices include 10...c5, although theory regards this as premature as it enables White to play for a kingside attack with 11.Bc2, followed by Qd3 and Bg5. 10...Nf6 has also been played, but this misplaces the knight and does nothing to further Black's play against the center by means of the pawn breaks c6–c5 or e6–e5. Bisguier preferred 10...h6 and it has come to be considered the strongest plan.
The other ideas, 6...Be7, which has the same drawback as after 5.e3 Be7, and 6...Bb4, have become sidelines in modern play.
The main alternative to 6.Bd3 has become 6.Qc2, once a sideline, this move exploded in popularity in the 1990s, in large part due to
7.Bd3, Karpov first played 7.Be2 but it soon transpired that the d3-square gives White better chances.
Another increasingly common gambit line used in the Anti-Meran is the sharp 7.g4. Popularized by