The Anti-Meran variations have become the more popular choice for white to fight the Semi Slav than the normal Bd3 Meran. By avoiding black’s simplest plan to equalize, white is trying to go for advantage!
The Meran positions occur after the move 6. Bd3. All other moves, Qc2, which is the most popular in particular, are named the Anti-Merans. By not playing Bd3, white is not allowing black to play the tempo gaining sequence starting with dxc4 and b5, chasing away the bishop and preparing to play a6, Bb7, and c5 – the life saving pawn break black has to play in order to open up his worst piece, the bishop on c8 which is stuck behind the Semi-Slav pawn triangle.
So black has to adjust his strategy. Going for a Meran plan would be close to suicide. It simply doesn’t work. So black has to prepare his liberating break carefully. Black’s main opening goal is still to free up his only weakness, the light squared bishop, but against the Anti-Meran, that will take more time.
Along with c5, in positions arising after Qc2, black has the option of breaking the position open with e5. This is another pawn break which opens up the light squares and makes room for the c8 bishop.
E5 and/or c5 have to be prepared. So most lines in the Anti Meran are going to require more patience and maneuvering, and will involve less tactics and will seldom lead to open, crazy positions which are common in the Meran.
For more info on Anti-Meran positions, I would recommend my favorite book on the Semi Slav: “Meran and Anti Meran”, written by one of the best Semi Slav players of all time, Alexey Dreev.
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