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Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran (D49)
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 c6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 dxc4
7 Bxc4 b5 8 Bd3 a6 9 e4 c5 10 e5 cxd4 11 Nxb5

Number of games in database: 340
Years covered: 1924 to 2014
Overall record:
   White wins 38.8%
   Black wins 25.6%
   Draws 35.6%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
PRACTITIONERS
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Petar Trifunovic  6 games
Anthony Miles  5 games
Evgeny Bareev  5 games
John van der Wiel  7 games
Mikhail Botvinnik  6 games
Jesus Nogueiras  5 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Botvinnik vs Euwe, 1948
Capablanca vs Levenfish, 1935
C Kottnauer vs Kotov, 1946
Kramnik vs Anand, 2008
Kramnik vs Anand, 2008
Miles vs Kasparov, 1986
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 page 1 of 14; games 1-25 of 340  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. B Blumenfeld vs A Rabinovich 1-032 1924 Ch MoscowD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
2. Bogoljubov vs G A Thomas 1-031 1925 Baden-BadenD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
3. Colle vs J W te Kolste  1-047 1925 Baden-BadenD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
4. Bogoljubov vs Y Vilner 0-128 1925 USSR ChampionshipD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
5. I Rabinovich vs Verlinsky ½-½58 1925 MoscowD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
6. A Rabinovich vs S Gotthilf  1-033 1925 USSR ChampionshipD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
7. Kashdan vs Ed. Lasker  1-062 1926 ChicagoD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
8. A C Sacconi vs S Rosselli del Turco 1-015 1926 MeranoD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
9. P Krueger vs W Von Holzhausen  1-069 1927 BremenD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
10. K Makarczyk vs W Rivier  0-135 1928 The Hague ol (Men)D49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
11. Kevitz vs I S Turover  1-025 1929 Bradley BeachD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
12. W Cruz vs J de Souza Mendes Jr  0-140 1929 BRA-chD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
13. Spielmann vs Bogoljubov  ½-½52 1932 Semmering (Austria)D49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
14. H Johner vs Euwe ½-½34 1932 BerneD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
15. Stahlberg vs Spielmann ½-½27 1933 Stockholm m2D49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
16. E Glass vs Spielmann  ½-½28 1933 Trebitsch mem 16thD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
17. Alekhine vs Bogoljubov ½-½75 1934 Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship RematchD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
18. Botvinnik vs S Belavenets 1-025 1934 RussiaD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
19. Fine vs Kashdan  ½-½37 1934 SyracuseD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
20. A Becker vs A C Sacconi  1-036 1935 Tatatovaros itD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
21. Capablanca vs Levenfish 1-026 1935 MoscowD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
22. Kashdan vs A Elo  1-024 1935 USA-36.Congress MastersD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
23. A Schwartzman vs B H Villegas 1-033 1936 Mar del Plata it-03D49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
24. Reshevsky vs V Petrov 1-039 1937 KemeriD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
25. S Landau vs P F Schmidt  1-040 1937 7th olm finalD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
 page 1 of 14; games 1-25 of 340  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-27-03  thekleinbottle: okay, a better way of phrasing that is that no one has ever played that specific line against me (but I have played against other c6 variations). I've never studied the white or black side of that particular line in the slav. Actually, the club I attended just one meeting at a few weeks ago is quite good (the Arlington Chess Club in VA). However, I've been out of club/tournament chess for five years and thought I'd give it another run. I can tell I'm playing much better than I was when I stopped going to the club and thought I'd learn some more openings...
Apr-18-04  N N: From the Me page <Apr-04-04
Vischer: NN is an awesome player, beaten alekhine, j h sarratt, g barbero, blackburne, staunton, and philidor. I say we name an opening after him! anyone have any ideas? >
So let's rename it NN's defense! :)
Apr-18-04  N N: I meant to say that on Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran (D48) <
Apr-18-04
Vischer: Does anyone know where the name Meran Defense came from? Was there ever a player called Meran? Is Meran a place?

Apr-18-04
BiLL RobeRTiE: Meran's a place, I would guess that the Meran Variation 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 e6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 dxc4 is named that because it was "introduced" there?

Apr-18-04
tamar: Gruenfeld vs Rubinstein, 1924
Rubinstein's idea, first tried against Teichmann in Carlsbad 1923 which was a draw.

Apr-18-04
Calchexas: I'm guessing it has something to do with the events in "Merano" that can be seen on this page.

Apr-18-04
Vischer: <Meran's a place, I would guess that the Meran Variation 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 e6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 dxc4 is named that because it was "introduced" there?> that also brings up the idea of why is the sicilian called the sicilian? Was it first introduced in Sicily, or by Sicilian players?

Apr-18-04
Vischer: It seems it was first played by NN, against Greco, in Greco vs NN, 1620

>

Jan-25-05  aw1988: I wonder why in this opening there are no notable wins for black?
Oct-02-05  MUG: <aw1988> From the Chessgames FAQ page:

<The lists of notable games are calculated by finding the games which most frequently appear in our users' game collections. If you want to "vote" for a game, simply put it in one of your game collections.>

Looks like nobody cares much for Blacks position in this variation!

Oct-02-05  aw1988: Which is suprising, since this position should be dead equal.
Jan-02-06  MUG: Certainly not 'dead' equal. More like 'crazy, bonkers, barmy' equal! :-)
Jan-25-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 a6 9. e4 c5 10. e5 cxd4 11. Nxb5 Nxe5 12. Nxe5 axb5


click for larger view

I'd like to talk about this position. In my opinion it's one of the great positions in opening theory because it entails such a rarity in chess. With white to move in the above position, tell me, who among you would NOT play Bxb5+? Take a pawn with check sounds good, no? Can't do much better than taking a pawn with check, right? I've heard somebody comment "Any good player would play Bxb5+ without a second thought."

I submit to you that only a PATZER would play Bxb5+ without first checking out other options. The fact is that Bxb5+ is only one of several avenues, and in my studies I found the move to be lacking unless you are seeking nothing more than a draw.

The three main tries in this position are 13.Bxb5+, 13.O-O, and 13.Qf3. For now I just want to look at the obvious take-a-pawn-with-check move because I always have to pinch myself to remember why this move is not the best move in the position.

13.Bxb5+ Bd7 <13...Nf6? 14.O-O! and the threats of Qf3, and even Qxd4 are too much to bear> 14.Nxd7 Qa5+!! <aha! The intermezzo which saves Black's hide!> 15.Bd2 Qxb5 16.Nxf8 <16.Nxf6 gxf6! and it's equal but with a lot of fight left in the position>


click for larger view

The Opening Explorer has plenty of games where Black plays ...Kxf8 and ends up having a hard game for obvious reasons: his rook on h8 stuck in the corner, the overextended d4 pawn, and White's nasty looking q-side passers. Although ...Kxf8 is popular, it's not very good, and its statistics in the Opening Explorer are somewhat dismal.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference." (Frost)

Yes, the less frequently seen Rxf8 is actually the way to survive this line. Black will just play Ke7 and slide the h-rook into the action. Black will also use his active queen to suggest a queen trade. A flawless example is Kramnik vs Kasparov, 1999, where the game concluded 16...Rxf8! 17. a4 Qc4 18. b3 Qd3 19. Qf3 Qe4+ 20. Qxe4 Nxe4 21.b4 Ke7 22. f3 Nc3 23. Bxc3 dxc3 24. Ke2 Rfd8 25. Rhd1 c2 26. Rdc1 Rd4 27. Rxc2 Rxb4 28. a5 1/2-1/2

See: Opening Explorer

Jan-25-06  MUG: Hey <Sneaky>, thanks for the insightful look into this confusing variation. I have encountered this line of the Semi-Slav on only a few occasions, so am no expert. But I have a question:

Why is 16...Rxf8 the way to survive for Black? Does playing ...Kxf8 or ...Rxf8 really make much difference to the assessment of the position? You say <Yes, the less frequently seen Rxf8 is actually the way to survive this line. Black will just play Ke7 and slide the h-rook into the action.>. But surely Black can play this after 16...Kxf8 as well, without any loss of tempo or damage to his position?

I suppose my point is this, if Blacks game is difficult after 16...Kxf8, is it not still difficult after 16...Rxf8?

Jan-26-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: MUG, good question, here's my take on it:

White's got a dark squared bishop, right? The tactical melee that immediately follows 16...Rxf8 or 16...Kxf8 gets very intense, and White can derive a great benefit from slipping in Bb4+ at the right moment. Far better than he plays Bb4+ with only a momentary threat on the rook, it's annoying yes, but not as bad as a check.

For instance, consider this line which can happen after either recapture:

16. Nxf8 Rxf8 17. a4 Qc4 18. b3 Qd3!


click for larger view

The queen here can neutralize the position with Qe4+ just like in the Kramnik-Kasparov game.

Now look at the position if the other recapture is made:


click for larger view

D'oh!! Bb4+ wins the queen.

My opinions are formed by looking at GM games but also by playing these lines out against my computer. I start to get the feeling that things are more comfortable one way as opposed to another way. Please don't take these proclamations as the "final word on the subject"--this is just my opinion!

Jan-26-06  MUG: <Sneaky> I think you are right. After 16...Kxf8 17.a4 Black has little option but to accept the offered pawn on b2 (due to the tactics you mentioned) and allow White to castle. White will then have good compensation due to better development and safer king.

As you say, 16...Rxf8 allows Black the option of 17.a4 Qc4 18.b3 Qd3 making Whites game more difficult. It amazes me that in this line Whites two connected past pawns aren't as devastating to Black in practice as they might first appear.

e.g. HJ Paalman vs P Span, 2001

Jul-15-06  Hesam7: <Sneaky> What is wrong with:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 a6 9. e4 c5 10. e5 cxd4 11. Nxb5 Nxe5 12. Nxe5 axb5 13. Bxb5+ Bd7 14. Nxd7 Qa5+ 15. Bd2 Qxb5 16. Nxf8 <Kxf8> 17. a4 Qd5


click for larger view

to me Black's position does not seem that bad: 18. 0-0 h5 and Black will activate his rook along the h-file.

Jul-30-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: No, it doesn't look that bad--did you see J Lechtynsky vs Y Solodovnichenko, 1998? It's the only example in the database of this line, and Black wins from that position in just the way you prescribed. I said below "Black has a hard game with his rook in the corner" but maybe the remedy is to play ...h5 and ...h4 and bring the rook into the game via the flank. But White's not without his own strong points, just look at those deadly queenside passrs! I think the position is probably equal but exciting.

Anyhow, the fact that Black can stand to do so well in this variation is just more proof that White is foolish to get into the Bb5+ variation in this position in the first place


click for larger view

That leaves the question--what SHOULD white play here? That's a very interesting topic in itself. I am a proponent of the Qf3 variation because if your opponents are not well versed in the tactics it's real easy for either side to go astray. There are some lines where Black has to be willing to give up the exchange!

Aug-04-06  gambitfan: Don't we have the wrong move order with this :

1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 c6 5 e3 Nbd7

after : 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 then 3 cd ed 4 Nc3 Nf6 5 Bg5 Be7... and this is very favourable for White...

The right move order seems for me to be :

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 Nc3 c6 5 e3 Nbd7

Aug-04-06  euripides: <gambit> probably the most frequent move order is 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6.
Aug-04-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: However, the move order is acceptable. It even has it's own ECO code: Queen's Gambit Declined (D30)

And according to the opening explorer, after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6, 3.Nc3 is the most common with 8,541 games, while 3.cxd4 has only 97 games.

This opening seems highly transpositional in that there are many ways to get here. But I don't believe that the move order listed at the top is 'wrong.'

Aug-05-06  gambitfan: ok...

suppose 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 ...

then 45 cd (1339) arrives third after 4 Nf3 (9169) and 4 Bg5 (3222) in quantitative terms...

but please have a look at the winning chances...

4 cd gives 48/38/13 against 35/47/18 for 4 Nf3 and 42/38/20 for 4 Bg5

Then if 4 cd, it is no good for Black in qualitatuve terms..

move games win-draw-loss %

4. Nf3 9,169
35%
46.8%
18.3%

4. Bg5 3,222
42%
38.4%
19.6%

4. cxd5 1,339
48.2%
38.1%
13.7

4. e3 113
29.2%
32.7%
38.1%

4. Bf4 54
44.4%
33.3%
22.2%

4. g3 20
35%
20%
45%

4. a3 20
30%
20%
50%

4. f3 2
50%
50%

Aug-05-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <gambitfan: but please have a look at the winning chances...> Yes, I'd love to look at winning chances, but not by just looking at numbers. The stats are often a bad way to judge an opening.

1) A line may score well, but then a 'refutation' is found and the opening stops getting played, so the stats remain on the 'wrong' side.

2) You have to consider who uses the openings. The Grob (1.g4) for instance, is usually only played by very strong players against very weak players. This explains it's unusually high winning percentage for white despite being terrible.

3) We don't learn anything from just providing stats. Tell me why the move order is bad, what it does to black's position that is so terrible.

and finally, 4) I don't know anything about this opening. I was simply reporting to you that this move order is used and is therefore not 'incorrect.' If you feel a different move order is better, by all means tell us why so that we can avoid falling into a bad position early on. But bringing stats to the chessboard isn't going to help us win the game.

Aug-05-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: Sometimes unusual move orders have a low winning percentage, because the players who make such unusual move orders simply aren't very good players.
Aug-05-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: Also, the move order listed at the top of this page may be the original move order, but it could have been found to have weaknesses so players today play a different move order.

One sort of example of this is 1.e4 d6 2.d4 f5?!, which is known as the Balogh Counter-gambit. You may ask why it's a counter gambit, expecially when white hasn't gambitted anything for black to 'counter' yet. But the reason is that the original move order for this dubious opening is 1.d4 f5 2.e4 <Stauton Gambit> d6.

So I think 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 is the original way of declining the QG. How things have developed since then I don't quite know.

Aug-07-06  gambitfan: Hi everybody !

Let's have a look at COE (Chess Opening Explorer)...

With 136 141 games, 1 d4 is the second most common first move behind 1 e4 (193 024 games)...

If after playing 1 d4 you play on COE the statistically most common moves, you obtain following series :

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3 a6 9. e4 c5 10. e5 cxd4 11. Nxb5...

This is the line above with a transposition of moves concerning the four first moves...

COE's database gives 226 games happening from 1925 until 2006...

Since I am (like Bobby Fischer) a 1.e4 player, I concentrate on Black winning games : there are 61 of them (27% of 226).

Among Black winning games with great players, there are :

Miles vs Kasparov, 1986

Van der Sterren vs Shirov, 1995

Kan vs Botvinnik, 1953

Lilienthal vs Botvinnik, 1941

The position of most common line apparently held by Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran (D49) might in fact be challenged by one of the King's Indian lines...

After 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 you have :

2... e6 (33 320 games)
2... g6 (21 228 games)

At the second move QGD "beats" the King's Infian but 2...e6 also leads to Queen's Indian, Nimzo Indian,... while 2...g6 is less "split"...

After 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 we obtain 4 220 games

After 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O (King's Indian most common line) we obtain 6 982 games, which makes KI more common than QGD after the 5th move...

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Ne1 Nd7 10. Nd3 f5 11. Bd2 gives 262 games, which, after the 11th move for White, makes the King's Indian, Orthodox, Aronin-Taimanov (E99) more common than the Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran (D49)

After 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 COE gives 3. Nf3 (18 768 games) as the most common 3rd move before 3. Nc3 (16 405 games)...

If 3. Nc3 is played, then 3... Bb4 (13 640 games) is by far more common and more aggressive (25.3% Black winning chances) than 3... d5 (6 044 games, 18.5% Black winning)

3. Nc3 clearly incitates Black to play the Nimzo Indian by far more aggressive... 3. Nc3 is a "sharpening" move...

3. Nf3 avoids the Nimzo-Indian ansd seems to "force" Black to answer 3... d5, which leads to a "quieter" game...

3. Nf3 is a "softening" move leading to a "stable" game...

Aug-07-06  gus inn: Thanks for info <gambitfan>. 1.d4Nf6.2.c4e6.3.Nf3-c5(!?) will sometimes lead to the Benoni.And if white goes 4.d5-then 4.-b5(!?) is the Blumenfeld(gambit).Said to emphasize how rich chess actually is. Best wishes , guss inn .
Aug-16-06  NateDawg: <3. Nf3 ... seems to "force" Black to answer 3...d5>

After 1. d4 ♘f6 2. c4 e6 3. ♘f3, Black has a serious alternative in 3...b6, leading to the Queen's Indian Defense. This is actually more common than 3...d5, which only appears to occur in more games because the Opening Explorer includes the games which reached this position by 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. ♘f3 ♘f6.

The Queen's Indian Defense appears to give Black better winning chances than the Queen's Gambit Declined (20.5% vs. 19% in QGD), and White wins less often in the Queen's Indian (29.7% vs. 33.8%). Many players, most notably former World Champion Anatoli Karpov, use the QID. Karpov only lost 14% of his games in which he played the QID.

Oct-22-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  jamesmaskell: We can probably expect a relaunch of this line after Anand's use of it against Kramnik in Bonn.
Aug-04-13  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Semi-Slav, Meran

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.♘f3 c6 5.e3 ♘bd7 6.♗d3 dxc4 7.♗xc4 b5 8.♗d3 a6

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