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Title: The Ultimate Dragon Vol I + II Author: Eduard Gufeld & Oleg Stetsko
Language: English Pages: 270 + 160
Cover: Paperback Published: 2001
Publisher: Batsford Homepage:
Price: (I)£ 16,99 (II) £ 14,99 ISBN: 0 7134 8643 0/0 7134 8689 9
Reviewed by: Erik Søbjerg Date: 1/5 2001

"Is Ultimate more than Complete?" a friend asked me while I was trying to compare this two-volume manual to the Dragon variation with the same authors one-volume "The Complete Dragon" from 1997. "I guess so" was my answer, but after a closer look I am not sure if Gufeld, Stetsko and their Publisher Batsford are of the same opinion.

With very few exceptions it is the same material. The 1997 book has been split up into two, and a few variations is changed and added. If one is to trust the amount of new material in The Ultimate Dragon 1 + 2, not much has happened in the Dragon the past 4 years.... The Authors claim so in the preface which by the way is identical in both volumes, but I can't see it in the rest of the book(s). It might have helped if the authors had used the analytical material in Golubevs "Easy Guide to the Dragon" (Everyman Chess 1999) or Schneider's "Sicilian Dragon - The Yugoslav Attack" (Caissa 2000). Golubev and Schneider is both cited by Gufeld/Stetsko but only with old analysis from before 1997. Both Golubev and Schneider gives new personal analysis and ideas, something completely lacking in Gufeld and Stetskos work. Gufeld/Stetsko only collect and reproduce the work, games and analysis of others. But if Gufeld and Stetsko does not even bother to use all the material at hand (i.e. the above mentioned books) when making an "update" of their earlier book, it is really hard to find an excuse.

It is strange to see the "rewriting" that has been done. Most of the text has been changed, but the meaning is completely the same. Something like: "....with a winning white attack." is replaced by: "....and white has a winning attack.". It is like that page after page! I can't help to be wondering if it is Grandmaster Gufeld himself, or perhaps a secretary at Batsford who has done this tremendous job. It must have taken hours of typing!

All this leads me to the conclusion that there is one and only one explanation for the publishing of this book: Money!

"You can't argue with money" I have heard, so I will leave it here. But lets keep the spirit of these two books in mind when looking at the variations of this truly entertaining opening.


Volume 1

Volume 1 contains the variations with a white setup with Be3 and f3 which the authors choose to call the Rauzer Attack.

This book has a fairly good chapter on the very popular 9. 0-0-0 - after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 0-0 8.Qd2 Nc6 (DIAGRAM).

Black usually plays 9....d5 or 9...Nxd4 10.Bxd4, Be6 11.Kb1, Qc7 here 12.h4, Rfc8 13.h5 seems best and able to give white a small advantage in more than one way, though Golubev (1999) takes us deeper. But the hard nut to crack for white is 9...d5 where a brand new game Adams-Fedorov 2001 (from after the books where published I must add) seems to give black sufficient compensation after 10.exd5 Nxd5 11.Nxc6 bxc6 12.Nxd5 cxd5 13.Qxd5 Qc7 14.Qc5! Qb8! This is properly one of the most critical positions for the assessment of the Dragon right now.

The Chapter on 9.Bc4 is in general worse. The critical variations, as I will discuss in my review of Schneider's "Sicilian Dragon - The Yugoslav Attack" (Caissa 2000), are in several important points not covered by Gufeld/Stetsko.


Volume 2

Volume 2 contains "the rest":

  • The Classical Dragon 6.Be2
  • The 6.Bc4 variations
  • The 6.Bg5 variations
  • The Levenfish variation 6.f4
  • The Fianchettovariation 6.g3

The theoretical developments in the variations presented in Volume 2 is rather slow. White usually chooses these lines to avoid the huge amount of theory in the Rauzer Attack. Black is in general able to hold his own in these lines without too much difficulty. I will not go into detail with the variations here, just say that Gufeld/Stetsko seem to give a reasonable coverage of the current state of theory.

Both volumes have a collection of illustrative games which is always a good feature, but with as brief annotations as here it is not quite as useful at one could wish.

A large amount of material is systemized and made easily accessible to the reader. This is the clear strength of the book(s). But the book(s) are without personal analysis and new ideas. And the fact that the book has been "rewritten" in words but remains practically unchanged in content compared to the 1997 "The Complete Dragon" by the same authors makes it difficult for me to give an objective judgment of these book(s). I am too upset!

I will leave it to the potential reader/buyer to consider if he wants to support the authors and publisher who acts like this.



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