Larsen’s Improved Meran: The Great Dane Deigns to Allow Check
Bent Larsen (pictured) was born March 4, 1935 and died September 9, 2010. He was Champion of Denmark six times from 1954-1964. He was a candidate for the world championship in 1965, 1968, 1971, and 1977. He won the interzonal in 1964, 1967, and 1976.
Boris Ivkov plays Larsen in the main game. Ivkov was born November 12, 1933 in Belgrade. He won the first World Junior Championship in 1951. He won the Yugoslav Championship in 1958, 1963, and 1972 (the first two were ties). Ivkov played in the interzonals of 1964, 1967, 1970, 1973, and 1979.
The moves of the Meran Variation of the Semi-Slav Defense as popularized by Rubinstein are: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 (D48). Larsen would omit 8...a6 in favor of 8...Bb7 (D47), which sometimes allows White to play Bb5+. Larsen used this twice in his candidates match with Ivkov, which he won 5.5-2.5. The game continued 9.e4 b4 10.Na4 c5 11.e5 Nd5 12.Nxc5 Bxc5 13.dxc5 a6.
Some things to look for in the notes are pointed out here. Instead of 6.Bd3, Larsen, as White, avoided the main line with Bb3 or Be2. Instead of 12...Bxc5, Larsen used 12...Nxc5 against Uhlmann in 1971. In that game, Larsen permitted Bb5+ and went on to win using pins, even pinning the unpinner. Instead of 13...a6, Larsen played 13...Nxc5, allowing Ivkov (in another cm game) to play 14.Bb5+ for the first time.