For those of you who have not heard of this book Pump Up Your Rating by Axel Smith – let me say that it aims to show new avenues for training for an already advanced player. The author presents a road-map of improvement in your Chess training.
The real value of this book is its instruction that is interspersed with lots of personal experiences from author and his chess colleagues. The book focuses mainly on increasing one’s strength at classical time control chess (more than 60 minutes per player per game). So if you are a casual blitz player you will not be benefited by this book.
Pump Up Your Rating by Axel Smith – who can benefit?
This book is for class A players (those who are 1800+ in elo) and above. For those who are rated below 1800 FIDE rated, it may help if you have a trainer working with this book. Remember that this book is for Tournament players and not for the casual blitz player.
Pump Up Your Rating – voted the ChessCafe.com Book of the Year 2013 – read here.
About the Author:
Axel Smith – Author
The author is Axel Smith is an IM (International Master) from Sweden and a FIDE trainer. Axel Smith is an upcoming Swedish IM, who is on his path to achieving a GM title. He is also a succesfull coach with many students climbing the success ladder, to his credit.
Smith talks seriously about his chess preparation; he prepares in detail for his opponents sometimes going to great lengths like looking at his opponent’s ICC games too check out their weaknesses. Now isn’t that a creative streak?
Nothing motivates him more than winning in chess.
What is shocking is that anything not related to improvement is not worthy of his attention as he feels that studying Chess history is unimportant – “I don’t think I have ever seen a complete game by Bobby Fischer,” he frankly reveals in the book.
Why should you read Pump Up Your Rating by Axel Smith?
I know for sure that had I read this book I would not have wasted my 3-4 years of chess training some 15 years ago.
This book is a labor of love and fills an important gap in an improving chess player’s library. It answers many questions that a budding chess player has or should think of like finding a good training partner for those who can not find chess players nearby and how to use chess software to aid in preparation.
During training, Smith reveals that he does not watch TV, or use smart-phones or the Internet; and he avoids reading books while playing in a tournament, as these are a cause of distraction.This may not appeal to some as each person has his own way of unwinding and relaxing.
He comes across as some one who has walked the talk and wrote it all down.
What does the book look like?
It consists of two big parts and each part is a book topic by itself!
The first part deals with How to think in Chess, pertaining to the basic positional ideas and strategy. He talks about pawn levers (and how they are the anchor of all planning), piece exchanges and imbalances, and finally the most important skill of all – calculation.
- Chapter one – Pawn levers.
- Chapter two – Exchanges and imbalances – art of exchanging and the timing so as to create an imbalance in the position.
- Chapter three – Critical decision making and questions that need to be answered while coming across such positions.
- Chapter four – Calculation (different from Kotov’s tree of calculation)
The Second part deals with techniques on training in Chess. This is the fun part of the chess book and will make you read everything in one go.
Here Smith explains how he improved by following what he describes in this second part, in four chapters:
- Analyzing your games and making a ‘list of mistakes’
- A program to study tactics;
- Openings training using Chessbase software for the creation of ‘opening files’ and looking at games
- Learning the most important theoretical endgames first – roughly 100 in number.
He comes across as a live-wire author who is teaching you what you must learn and what you may avoid, in order to save precious time.
- As a bonus, you get an Appendix that has a List of theoretical endgames – however they are to be downloaded in PGN format from their official site which is here.
The database discussed in Chapter 7 – Openings can be downloaded (in PGN format) here.
The book he recommends in the chapter 6 – The Woodpecker – Method Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else – by Geoffrey Colvin can be bought from Amazon or Book depository.
For anybody thinking about buying the book – I can wholeheartedly recommend this one; it has delivers on everything it promises.Jacob Aagaard described it on Quality Chess blog as “reminding him of his own Excelling at Chess, only better”! Pump Up Your Rating by Axel Smith is a refreshing new book for chess coaches and players who are trying hard to make progress and find that they are stagnating. Those who are in need a different set of training techniques that are not old school, will gain a lot from this book. Some techniques may sound radical but then it worked for him so who knows – it may work for you…