A review of Zuke ‘Em: The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionised

Reviewed by Paul Kane

Zuke ‘Em: The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionised
By David Rudel
Thinkers’ Press
June 2008, Paperback: 260 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1888710359

Typically, the Colle-Zukertort arises after the sequence 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.b3, though naturally this move order may vary. Once White’s queen’s bishop is developed on b2, the ‘Horwitz Bishops’ – to employ Nimzowitsch’s term – will exert sustained pressure both in the centre and on Black’s kingside. It is a simple yet elegant system and, as David Rudel shows in this excellent book, it should not be underestimated. Rudel demonstrates that White has promising play against the Bogolyubov Defence (where Black goes … Nc6 and … Bd6) and the Classical Variation (where Black’s king’s bishop is developed on … e7), as well as against various minor or less frequently played defences. Against the Classical Variation, Rudel presents an attacking scheme of Kovacevic’s that is rather neat. It involves a rook lift (Re1-e3) and the transfer of the queen to the kingside by g3 and Qf1-h3; and it was played in Kovacevic-Farago, Hastings 1982-1983, if you’d like to play it through from an online database. One wonders whether Kovacevic’s inspiration was Fischer’s 21.Qf1!? from his first game against Larsen at Santa Monica 1966, though the idea wasn’t successful there, of course.

Rudel’s consideration of deviations from the above sequence (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.b3), the so-called ‘anti-Colles’, is impressively detailed overall; and naturally he looks at deviations that might arise from a different move order, such as 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Bg4 or 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Bf5 or 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5. However, it is not quite exhaustive. One would be interested to have the author’s suggestions as to how a Zukertort player might meet the Polish Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b5!?) or an Old Indian set-up, where the … d6/… e5 pawn chain might make a quite effective bulwark against the Bb2.

Zuke ‘Em: The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionised is a book with many virtues: it is lucid and rigorous and interactive and authoritative and engaging. Its lucidity is most apparent in the way the author organises his material; most chapters begin with a ‘Familiarization’ section – a gentle introduction to its main themes – after which the teddy bears are taken away and we get down to brass tacks. Rudel deals rigorously and methodically with most every plan or option for Black, and most every way of implementing that option. Each option is dealt with by explanation, on the whole – the emphasis throughout is on understanding – but is supported by games and analysis where appropriate. Rudel’s explanations are ‘interactive’ in that he has a gift for provoking questions in the reader (this reader, anyway) and anticipating them in the text. He will often make a complicated statement or point and then ‘unpack it’, explaining it more fully. We respect this author in part because of this Socratic style of exposition, and in part from the fact that he has played the Colle-Zukertort for 15 years or so: this book is the distillation of much thought and experience. Rudel also uses statistical data incisively and well, and will often tell the reader how frequently a line has been played and how successful it has been. Finally, the book is written in an engaging, conversational prose style with quirky touches of humour. In particular, Rudel’s remark that Richard Palliser’s book on the Colle, given its downbeat tone, was ‘the chess equivalent of Ecclesiastes‘ raised a smile. Well, at least it doesn’t bear comparison with Job…

There are a few typos in the text, but the meaning can be gleaned in virtually every case except one: the note to Black’s 13th move on page 155 makes no sense, as 15 … Bf6 is an illegal move. (My guess, for what it is worth, is that 15 … Bxf1 16.Qxd5 Ba6 17. Rxe7+ is intended instead.)

The bibliography is fairly comprehensive, but it omits to mention two works of value. Colle, London and Blackmar Diemer Systems by Tim Harding (1979) has a substantial section on the Colle-Zukertort and, though the book is now out of print, it is not perhaps out of date. Theory advances slowly in the queen’s pawn openings; and Harding was and still is an excellent writer and researcher. Valery Bronznik’s The Colle-Koltanowski System (2004) is of interest to Colle-Zukertort players for at least three reasons. First, for its useful discussion of various anti-Colle lines. Second, for its detailed analysis of the consequences of 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e3 e6 4.Bd3 c5 5.0-0!? c4 6.Be2, should White wish to delay the decision of whether to play 5.b3 or 5.c3 for a move or so. (And why might White want to do this? Well, on studying Rudel’s book, White may wonder whether he can profitably avoid the underrated 5.b3 cxd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+!? by first playing 5.0-0.) Third, paradoxical though it may seem given his book’s title, Bronznik does give the occasional Colle-Zukertort line. In particular, he provides a deep analysis of the game Yusupov-Anand, Linares 1991, an engrossing struggle between two world-class players. The current world champion was clearly lost in that game, though he managed to scrape a win in the end.

To pronounce a critical judgement on the book under review: Zuke ‘Em: The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionised is an excellent, well-nigh essential introduction to a sound and straightforward opening system that provides the first player with promising attacking possibilities and good prospects of an advantage. David Rudel’s book is clearly the fruit of much eunoia (thank you, Christian Bok) and it will undoubtedly be the cause of plenty of eunoia in other chess players’ games: make sure you are one of them. And, as is plain to see, it has a brilliant cover.

To end, and as a small bonus, here are pointers to a couple of online resources:

• David Rudel maintains a forum about the Colle-Zukertort at www.zuke-dukes.com/forum; as well as discussions of the opening, there is a database of games beginning 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.e3… where Black adopts a KID set-up.

• A few of David Rudel’s articles are on the web, and as a preface to his book I would recommend especially the introductory ‘Four Keys to the Colle-Zukertort’: http://www.chessville.com/instruction/Openings/FourKeystotheColle-Zukertort.htm Incidentally, this article is a good showcase of David’s prose style, with its felicitous mix of humour and rigour.

About the reviewer:Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com