Gelfand’s Harmless Looking Idea vs Anand's Meran

Gelfand’s Harmless Looking Idea vs Anand's Meran‎

NM GreenLaser
19 | Opening Theory


Two of the top grandmasters of the last twenty years met at Biel in 1993 to contest the Meran Variation. Boris Gelfand would win the game and his second interzonal. Viswanathan Anand, the future world champion, would lose, but keep the line as part of his repertoire. Anand used the Semi-Slav in three out of four games as Black against Anatoly Karpov in their FIDE World Championship match in 1998. The results of this game contributed to Gelfand’s first place finish with 5 wins and 8 draws (no losses) for a score of 9/13. At 8.5 were Adams, Lautier, Kamsky, Yudasin, Khalifman, v.d. Sterren, Kramnik, and Salov. Anand had 4 wins, 8 draws, and 1 loss for a score of 8/13. He tied with five other super GMs. The fifteen top scoring players were within one point of each other after thirteen rounds because the interzonal was a big swiss tournament instead of a more selective round robin.

The opening of Gelfand-Anand was the Semi-Slav Defense and entered the Meran Variation. Instead of Rubinstein’s 8...a6, Anand used 8...Bb7, which was popularized by Larsen. Gelfand did not play the usual 9.e4 or the slower alternative 9.0-0, but 9.a3. Gelfand called this a “harmless looking idea” and it is a regular feature of his praxis. Many of the game references show how he has handled this line.

The notes that I found and created, along with games, make the article long. I suggest the usual way to go over a game is to play through the actual game moves without the alternatives. Then, play over it again and look at the notes at points where interested. I hope the notes answer questions that arise. Then, if time permits, the entire game can be played through with all the notes. Readers comments and questions are welcome and may further elucidate the game.


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