Semi-Slav - Complete Repertoire for Black - Part 1
We are happy to present the new database of IM Renato Quintiliano - Semi-Slav - Complete Repertoire for Black. The database consists of 10 huge theoretical chapters, 20 interactive test positions, and Memory Booster. The running time of the Video Version is 7.5 hours.
Below, the author provides an overview of his survey.
The first important position arises after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3
Continuing our study of the Semi-Slav, in this database, we will study in detail the lines in which White adopts a positional approach with e3. As we'll see, these lines are anything but boring, and also offer many interesting ideas for both sides.
I also examine the alternative move order with 4.Nf3 e6.
Still, to cover as many interesting lines as possible, I felt obligated to include two variations that differ from our main topic but are essential and can't be neglected by Black. This way, in Chapter 1 I analyse 5.g3, which has always been an interesting option, leading the game into Catalan paths.
Chapter 2 is dedicated to 5.Qd3!?, a move I used to consider a harmless sideline, but nowadays it has gained some popularity and certainly deserves attention.
Let's return to the position after 4.e3.
In Chapter 3 we see different ideas on White's 5th move. These moves usually aim to take some advantage of the flexible position of the Ng1, enabling Ne2 sometimes. White's most promising option is 5.b3, which was even played by Carlsen recently. However, analysis shows that Black has more than one way of getting a good game against the lines seen in this chapter.
Other flexible moves such as 5.Bd3, 5.a3, 5.Qc2, 5.cxd5, and 5.f4?! are also analysed in Chapter 2.
The next important branching point arises after 5...Nbd7
In Chapter 4, it's time to see different options on White's 6th move. The most played is again 6.b3, but things look even easier for Black here, as the knight is already on f3. After 6...Bb4, White is forced to reply 7.Bd2, when although White's position is playable, analysis and games seen in this chapter show that the Bd2 is clearly misplaced, allowing Black to equalize in a very comfortable way.
In Chapter 3, I also examine many other possibilities for White on move 6, such as 6.a3, 6.Bd2, 6.Ne5!?, 6.a4, 6.Nd2, and 6.h3.
Some of these lines are simply harmless, while others are good to know a little bit.
Nevertheless, I've dedicated a whole chapter to another possibility for White on the 6th move, which is 6.Be2!?.
This move order has gained popularity in recent years and I think it deserves careful study. White's main goal here is to keep a flexible position and try to achieve a favourable version of the more popular lines. This idea shouldn't be underestimated, and I tried to explain how to deal with it in Chapter 5. I should note that some chapters from the next database are going to provide better knowledge of the positions analysed there.
The move 6.Qc2 will be studied in the next database.
From the next chapter, we start examining the most important position for the database - 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5
The famous Meran Variation. Developed by the great Rubinstein at the beginning of the 20th century, this aggressive approach has been used by many strong players over the years. It's definitely an ideal choice for players who aim for a complicated game with chances of taking the initiative at the first mistake by their opponents.
White's most popular continuation is 8.Bd3.
In Chapter 6, I explain some ideas behind the less popular retreats: the aggressive 8.Bb3 and the positional 8.Be2!?.Both options are not totally harmless, but allow Black to get a good position with correct play.
After 8.Bd3, I suggest the move 8...a6.
This is the most direct move and the classical main line. Black intends to fight for the centre immediately with c6-c5. At this point, White's main move is 9.e4.
Before delving into the wild complications of the last chapters, in Chapter 7 we see how to play in case of a less aggressive approach by White, with natural moves like 9.0-0 and 9.a4. Although both moves don't pose real problems for Black, it is useful to know how to handle the positions, especially when playing for more than equality.
One of the most topical Meran positions arises after 9.e4 c5.
White has to choose between two equally interesting options now. Firstly, I start dealing with 10.e5!?.
This is a forceful option and leads to an open fight. This move was chosen by Kramnik in his World Championship Match against Anand in 2008. The next moves are the most played, though not entirely forced: 10...cxd4 11.Nxb5 axb5 12.exf6 gxf6! 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Qe2
Now it's Black who faces a crossroads. The most popular 14...b4 is analysed in Chapter 8. Black stays a pawn up but needs to solve some development issues and at the same time deal with White's initiative. The positions are very complicated, but I'm convinced that Black has enough resources to keep control.
On the other hand, I couldn't find a refutation of Anand's idea 14...Bb7!? 15.Bxb5 Rg8!
Here things develop in a quite different way: Black is not interested in keeping a small material advantage anymore but instead looks for quick coordination and active piece play. The lines seen in Chapter 9 are full of interesting ideas for both sides and show how brilliant the concept was that brought Anand two decisive victories in his world championship match against Kramnik.
The final important position arises after 10.d5 c4 11.dxe6 fxe6 12.Bc2 Qc7.
We have a very dynamic structure on the board, which ensures a complicated fight. White has a kingside majority and chances of developing an initiative by exploiting the weakness on e6 and advancing the pawns in the centre. On the other hand, Black has a dangerous initiative on the queenside and also intends to develop in an active way to fight for the initiative. The positions arising here are not as forceful as those seen after 10.e5 but are no less interesting and complex. Black needs to be aware of tricky move orders and typical dynamic ideas to fight for the initiative. In many cases, both sides have to play only moves to avoid being in trouble, and some lines have their theory developed as far as move 30 already. Of course, handling such a complicated position is a tough challenge for both sides, and I tried to explain the correct path through this labyrinth in Chapter 10.
At the end of the database, you will find 20 interactive test positions.