Reviews - What do customers think about Play the Sicilian Dragon?
The Best Dragon Book out There! Aug 12, 2008
This book is a great work and probably your best shot at learning the Dragon. However, one small disclaimer. The book does take a 'tree format' rather that showing complete games. In such a very sharp opening like the Dragon, this is probably the best way to learn it, but, as the author admits 'is less enjoyable for the reader'. Another thing that you should know about the book is that dragon lines often will 'come under a cloud due' to a strong line found by white. So, a repetoire book about the dragon can easily go out of date (as many have). However, while 'Play the Sicilian Dragon' is a repetoire book, the author has wisely added extra variations in case he thinks white's play could be inproved in a certain line that he recommends, leaving the reader with a useful alternative in case the variation that he recommends turns out to be bad. Finally, Dearing is an excellent, and engaging author, and I recommend this book!
Not what I had hoped for Feb 17, 2008
I suppose the previous reviewers are correct re: what they have said about this book. It does seem to be a great book for anyone interested in playing the Sicilian Dragon, but only as the white opponent. I find this difficult to understand because it is completely at the black opponent's discretion just which variation of the Sicilian he will choose to play once white plays 2.Nf3. If black does not move 2...d3, then having a book teaching white how to play the Sicilian Dragon seems moot, at best. As white, I maybe had 3 opponents respond 1...c5 to my 1.e4 in my lifetime. However, as black, that is the only response I give to 1.e4 and I always play the dragon variation. I had really hoped this book was going to be a book that assisted the black opponent in this game, but alas, it is not so. If that is what you are looking for in this book, do not get it. If you need help as the white opponent, then this is a very good book for you.
Awesome Mar 18, 2006
Lots of explanatory prose, plenty of lines, this book is also huge. about the size of a college textbook. This review by John Watson sums it up much better than I can:
An excellent chess book about the Dragon Jan 21, 2006
Suppose you have Black in a chess game that begins 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3. What ought you do now? Well, I don't play this position for Black. But the most obvious moves are 5...a6, 5...e6, or 5...Nc6, after which White has a small edge in practice. White has a bigger edge after 5...g6. That move is the infamous Dragon Defence, and it is the topic of this fine book. Yes, 5...g6 is playable. But as this book shows, Black has to be prepared for a dangerous attack.
The usual White reply is 6 Be3, leading to the Yugoslav attack. After 6...Bg7 7 f3 Nc6 8 Qd2 0-0, White often plays 9 Bc4, which leads to complications in which Black has to be awfully careful. Dearing spends nearly 150 pages on this move. If I had to take Black's position here, I'd continue 9...Bd7 10 0-0-0 Rb8, (the "Chinese Dragon") a move the author gives six interesting pages of analysis on.
Of course, 9 Bc4 is not the only line Black needs to be prepared for. Maybe the biggest problem with the entire Dragon is that Black is apt to run into a very well-prepared line from White, who will confront Black with something ideally suited to White's particular style. Maybe it will be 9 0-0-0, which I think is White's deadliest move and has excellent results for White in practice. Dearing has over 50 pages on this move. I find this whole line scary for Black, and much easier to play for White. In the Dragon, it seems that Black not only has to be prepared for an attack in which one false move is fatal, but also for sudden White decisions to get into a roughly equal endgame of White's choice.
The author also discusses other strong White alternatives, such as 7 0-0, 6 Bc4, and 6 g3, all of which Black has to be prepared for. And there are a few pages on 7 f3 Nc6 8 Qd2 0-0 9 g4, the "positional" approach, which gives White an easy game in a different way.
While I think that, objectively, the 9 0-0-0 line is the best choice for White, I play 6 f4 (the Levenfish). Dearing spends seven pages on this move, and says that a well-prepared Dragon player should blast the Levenfish off the board. But I think that White can get equality against a well-prepared opponent. And that makes it all worthwhile, because if Black isn't well-prepared, White is probably going to win fast. That's why players who are under Master strength (or are playing opponents who are less than Master strength) sometimes try it.
I first tried the Levenfish decades ago, as an unrated player in the third game of my very first chess tournament (a Swiss, in which I had lost my first two games). The game went: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 f4 Bg2 7 e5 Nfd7 (as Dearing mentions, 7...Nh5 is essential here, and just about anything else tends to lose quickly) 8 e6 fxe6 9 Nxe6 Bxc3+. At this point, I sort of wished I could move my Queen like a Knight, as Qxc3 would threaten both c8 and h8. My opponent waited for me to make the obvious recapture, bxc3, but I hesitated and finally played 10 Bd2! (the first exclam move of my chess career) 10...Bxd2+ 11 Qxd2 Qb6 12 Qc3, after which I won easily.
Of course, Black does not have to play 6...Bg7. There's also 6...Nbd7, after which White's best choice may be 7 Nf3, keeping the threat of e5 alive. And Dearing recommends 6...Nc6, which is Black's usual reply. After this move, White almost always plays 7 Nxc6, but I play 7 Bb5 Bd7 8 Bxc6 bxc6 9 e5. Even here, Black can hang material: I once defeated a Candidate Master after he played 9...dxe5 10 fxe5 Nd5? with 11 Qf3 Bg7 12 Nxd5 cxd5 13 0-0 0-0 14 Qxd5 (against 10...Ng4, I intended to play 11 e6 Bxe6 12 Nxe6). Dearing's choice for Black is 9...Nd5 10 Nxd5 (I think White is equal after 10 exd6) 10...cxd5 11 Qf3 e6 12 0-0 Bg7, but I think White can hold this position with 13 b3, and get an advantage if Black makes a mistake.
If you simply must play the Dragon, I recommend this book to you. I also recommend it to those of us who would prefer to slay dragons than be served up as dragon meat on some restaurant special.
Dragon fans rejoice! Jan 8, 2006
If you like the Dragon, or are just learning it, then this is the book for you. Well written and enjoyable. I look forward to his future books.