"Zuke 'Em" book review

Aug 9, 2009, 4:16 PM |

I had initially posted this review on Amazon, however, I had found there to be fanboys and people who actually helped Mr. Rudel make his book posting 5-star reviews to help generate buzz for the sales of the book. When I attempted to write an honest review that revealed what I felt were faults with the book, I was immediately given low marks for my review. I've since marked my review on there for deletion because I'm not going to get involved in such antics. I find it childish and predictable that people can't take constructive criticism and seek to make a book out to be God's greatest gift to the chess world. Zuke 'Em is a pretty good book, but far from being 5-star material. Below is my honest take on Zuke 'Em:

Zuke 'Em by David Rudel is a repertoire book for white based on using the Colle-Zuckertort as the centerpiece for an attacking game. It's a noticably fast read compared to other repertoire books.  I sat down to just generally glance at each section and ended up reading pretty much the whole book. Normally I do a precursory read and then go back with my database program and enter in all the lines to build a repertoire based on the book's content, but this book seemed a little light on the variations, which is not a bad thing. Rudel speaking as a class player (only USCF rating listed was in the 1300's back in the late 90's), really tries to answer the more basic questions about his ideas, and as such keeps it somewhat simple. This made reading it more enjoyable from a casual standpoint. I also liked his tackling of black's tricky move orders, which pretty much all the previous authors wimped-out on giving solutions for. An example of this is Palliser's "Starting Out: D-Pawn Attacks" in which Palliser sheepishly tries to pitch one of his other books on the Colle if you want his thoughts on tricky move orders by black.
There were a couple things that I didn't like about the book. First, trying to make it light-hearted with joke questions and answers in various parts of the book only seemed to feel like it was wasting my time. It wasn't even all that funny to begin with and really added nothing to the book's appeal. I also wasn't too happy with having analysis planted at the end of the book as a final chapter. You basically have to figure out the chapter & sub-sections codes he uses, and then jump back and forth between chapters to connect up each variation. I'd rather Rudel had kept all analysis within it's given chapter. I can understand his reasoning for shoving the analysis to the end of the book, which was probably to make it more class-friendly to read. It just seems like it might be less than ideal for those wanting to make a database of variations from the book's content. Also of note were some vague and dubious "trailing off" of transitions to the middlegame in some of the variations where Rudel's plans were either unclear or downright weak. One example:

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 e6 4. Bd3 c5 5. b3 Nc6 6. O-O Bd6 7. Bb2 O-O 8. Ne5 Nb4 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Be2 Qc7 11. a3 Nc6 12. Nxc6 Qxc6







In this position, neither the concept chapter, nor the extra analysis chapter really give white a clear goal. All Rudel suggests is Bf3 "with the idea of exchanging bishops". I have to say Bf3 makes no sense to me here, and even Bxf6 doesn't seem all that great a move if we assume this was intended. Instead, 13. Nd2 seems quite logical to complete development, with the idea of playing Rc1 followed by pawn to c4, attacking the center and forcing the black queen to relocate. Perhaps examples like this are revealing Rudel's class rating, or perhaps it's just an error in the line on his part. Either way, I found more than a few of these types of vague or confusing moves suggested for the middlegame transition. Perhaps I was a little biased in that I just got done reading Palliser's book, which has more complete and professional analysis work.

Finally I have to say the price for what you get is a little outrageous. Compare $25 for this book and $25 for Beating the Open games, which has fully ten times the amount of chess material covered. There's just not enough content to justify that price range for Zuke 'Em in my opinion.
All in all, a decent book for club players, but stronger players may only find the book of interest for Rudel's ideas covering tricky black move orders. I'd recommend also getting Palliser's book if you plan on getting Zuke 'EM, if just for a more complete package.

In the works from Gambit is a new book that will be of major interest to those looking at Zuke 'Em or Palliser's D-Pawn Attacks. Stay tuned for the release of that book!