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Every Russian Schoolboy Knows: Botvinnik Semi-Slav revisited #3

Opening: D44: Queen's Gambit Declined semi-Slav, Botvinnik system (anti-Meran)

Player(s): Yermolinsky, Gurevich, Shirov, Azmaiparashvili, Van Wely, Smeets

The storied history of the Botvinnik Variation of the Semi-Slav is well-documented in chess literature. From the early experimental works of Klaus Junge to Botvinnik's post-WWII famous victories that earned him the right to have his name attached to this opening line, and then off to the glory days of the 1980-90's, when Kasparov seemingly refuted it from the White side, only to play it himself much later on against his young rival, Kramnik - all those are the golden pages forever engraved in the annals of our game. The question is, where does the Botvinnik stand now, in the age of the merciless computer dissection of the entire opening theory? The fact is, the Botvinnik isn't played very often nowadays, having been largely replaced by the Moscow Variation, where 5.Bg5 is answered with 5...h6. There's only one man standing tall to fearlessly defend the black colors in the Botvinnik, and his name is Alexei Shirov. As a young disciple of the great Tal, Alexei learned to play this crazy line by heart through his own experiences, and that to this day enables him to go on and meet the challenge against a new generation pf players, armed to the teeth with computer preparation.

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