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To start off with, I'm not actually going to start playing the Meran, but instead a very similar line with white, posted below
However there are very few games played with this line, and due to the similarity with the Meran, I think it's a good idea to study some Meran games, as I really don't 'get' the resulting positions. So can someone post some typical, classical Meran games, or maybe explain some of the typical ideas?
These two games come to mind:
Looks like a whole lot of tactics and sacrifices.
Not quite what I'm looking for though, as from the move order I'm playing I won't reach similar postions to that..
To be honest I don't think the Meran analogy is very helpful.
In the Meran Black does not automatically castle kingside.
I would not rule out the possibility of breaking with e4 and keeping a 3 to 2 queenside pawn majority for the endgame. From your position 11. Nbd2 e5 12. e4 d4 13. c3 is by no means unnatural a rook could come to c1 and the knight to c4 at an oppertune moment, but there is no analogise Meran line.
Black's lack of c6, white's lack of c4, and the general formation here remind me more of a Colle system for white and an orthodox defense for black. I'm not convinced that many white players of 1.d4 are going to play an early Bd3, for example.
So I guess I'm not sure what you are actually asking here. Are you looking for a system against the Meran forms of the slav, or are you looking at simply playing a non-c4 version of the queen pawn game, like Colle? I see no particular advantage to what you are setting up here...?
The link, which is slightly tenuous, is that a Colle can resemble a reversed Semi-Slav a lot.
The issue is that in the move order given, white castled 0-0 really quickly, which doesn't occur in the Meran. Instead there black's king typically stays in the centre.
The second difference is that white in the Semi-Slav will usually play e4 (9. e4) to push for advantage in the centre, while in your Colle black is perfectly happy with ...e6 seeking just equality. So the plan with b4-b5 (...b5-b4 in the Meran) to kick out the knight and pressure the e-pawn doesn't work, simply because it's not there.
The upshot is you do have equality as white with the Colle, but unless black tries too hard you can't claim a really tangible edge.
Anyway, ideas in the Meran are ...b5-b4 to kick the Nc3 and kill e4 (not applicable in your Colle), ...a6 to deny Bb5+/Nb5 and to enable ...c5 before ...b4 (applicable I guess) and ...c5 as the main break and source of counterplay (usually executed before castling, but works in your Colle too.)
Sorry, perhaps I should have tried being a bit clearer with what I was asking. I am planning on learning and playing the line I posted first, but due to few games being played with this line, I want to study a few games of the Semi-Slav. I did a little research with the game explorer to try and find the line that most resembles what I'm playing, and got this
I don't know what this variation is called, but it seems pretty similar to what I'm playing. So from here black usually plays a6 and c5. Is c5 played with the idea of taking on d4 or pushing to c4, creating a queenside majority?
But in that semi-slav Black has to answer e4 with e5. 11. e4 c5? 12. Nxb5 Be7 13. e5 with two pawns and a kingside attack. White's other plan is 11. a3 a6 12. b4 a5 13. Rb1 axb4 14. axb4 Qe7 15. e4 which is a pawn sacrifice to keep the bishop on b7 out of play for as long as possible.
The good news is the pawn sacrifice 11. e4 e5 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. Nxe5 Bxe5 14. h3 a6 15. Be3 c5 is no longer a pawn sacrifice.
Immediate tactical lines aside, Black is going to lose the c pawn eventually because it's backward on an open file. White can stack up there and just kill it by force eventually.
I see a similar theme in the OP - I might argue that Black's development is better because he is beginning to control the half-open c and has more pieces in play, no organic pawn weakness, and has 0-0.
If you have access to Mastering The Chess Opening by John Watson, he takes a good look at this Colle/Meran situation. It is Vol 2 that you want.
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