Book Cover Of ‘Pump Up Your Rating’ by Axel Smith

Book Review Of ‘Pump Up Your Rating’ by Axel Smith

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Table of Contents

Pump Up Your Rating by Axel Smith is a comprehensive guide for chess players who want to improve their skills and ratings. 

The book covers every aspect of chess, from opening preparation to endgame technique, and offers practical advice on how to train and study effectively. 

Smith also shares his own experience of becoming a Grandmaster and reveals the methods and secrets that helped him achieve his goal. 

Smith includes anecdotes and stories from his own chess career, as well as interviews with other top players and coaches.

The book is written in a clear and engaging style, with a touch of humor and personality. 

Smith does not shy away from expressing his opinions and preferences and encourages the reader to develop their own style and identity as a chess player.

About the Book Author

Photo: Lars OA Hedlund

Author and chess player Axel Smith hails from Sweden. In 2016, he was awarded the FIDE Grandmaster (GM) title. 

Pump Up Your Rating, The Woodpecker Method, e3 Poison, Black & White Magic, and Street Smart Chess are just a few of the chess books he has written or co-authored. 

The Woodpecker Method, a book he co-authored with Hans Tikkanen, discusses how to sharpen your tactical abilities by working through a lot of riddles.

e3 Poison discusses an adaptable and global opening repertoire built on the move 1.e3.

Street Smart Chess is a book that discusses useful chess techniques including psychology, intuition, and computation.

Black & White Magic is a book that discusses chess color complexities.

Moreover, he has licenses as a FIDE Trainer and National Arbiter. 

He has competed in several national and international competitions, with a top rating of 2516 (August 2016). 

He is renowned for his lucid and captivating writing style, his useful and efficient training techniques, and his enthusiasm and character as a chess player.

Chapters Summarised

Pump Up Your Rating

The book covers all areas of chess, including opening preparation, middlegame play, and endgame technique. Smith also talks about the technical and psychological aspects of chess and provides tips on how to practice and improve.

This book, containing about 376 pages, is divided into two parts: 

The first part focuses on Positional Chess, the technical and psychological aspects of chess.

The second part provides a detailed training program that can be customized according to the reader’s needs and level. 

Let’s explore this in more detail.

Part 1 discusses thinking about chess and examining methods. 

It has 4 chapters which include these themes:

  • No Pawn Lever –No plan talks about pawn levers and their importance as pawns are the soul of chess.
  • Fair Exchange is No Robbery – This section talks about exchanges and imbalances of different types.
  • Auxiliary Questions – This section contains questions that need answers in relation to what was talked about in the first two chapters.
  • Calculation This section talks about the theoretical aspect of calculation.

Part 2 is focused on everyday training – what you need to do continuously to improve. It has 5 chapters: 

  • The List of Mistakes This talks about game analysis and how to do it yourself.
  • The Woodpecker method – This emphasizes taking the tactical part of chess seriously as most games are decided by tactics, especially for the tactical player.
  • Openings – The right ways to discuss openings are explained.
  • Endgames The author gives the best ways of studying and practicing endgames. One of the ways of practicing it is declining draw offers and playing the game to the end.
  • Attitude – This caters to psychology in chess.

Who is this Book For?

Chess players and enthusiasts who are ambitious should read this book. 

You shouldn’t let the term “ambitious” intimidate you since it actually refers to those who want to develop their abilities and ratings, as well as those who are prepared to put in a lot of effort and commit themselves to the game. 

The book is suitable for players of all levels, from beginners to masters, but it is especially designed for players in the range of 1800-2200.

What I Like About This Book 

The book will not only teach you the technical and psychological components of chess, but it’ll also offer you a comprehensive training program that you can modify to suit your own requirements and your current level of expertise. 

Throughout the book, the author discusses his experiences and the strategies he used to become a powerful player. 

In addition to this, the book is packed with illustrative examples, exercises, and exams that will test your ability to put what you have learned into practice.  

But you are going to need to put in a lot of effort, commit yourself fully, and have a strong interest in chess. 

What I Don’t Like About This Book

– I think the book may be too demanding or exhausting to follow, and requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and passion from the reader. 

Some readers may find it difficult to keep up with the book’s training program and advice, or may not have enough time or interest to do so.

– The book is mainly designed for players in the range of 1800-2200, and may not be suitable for players of other levels. 

Some readers may find the book too advanced or too basic for their needs and goals, or may not cover some important topics or aspects of chess that they want to learn more about.

– The book contains some random or out-of-scope content that may not be relevant or useful for the reader. 

For example, some readers may not be interested in the author’s anecdotes or stories, or may not need to learn some theoretical endgames that are covered in the book.

– The book has a silly title and cover image that may not reflect its content or quality. The book cover has an arrow showing a rating rise of 1200-2400. That’s actually misleading to some extent. 

Final Thoughts 

Because it’s not a conventional chess book that provides a fast cure or an easy answer, you will need to have the appropriate degree of interest and endurance in order to complete the whole book.

It’s also a book that rewards the reader with a greater grasp of chess, and a higher level of performance.

Finally, I feel that players need to put more of an emphasis on their own personal development as players rather than their ratings. 

Just enjoy the game, recognize what you have achieved, and grow by learning from your mistakes. 

If approached with the appropriate attitude and perspective, raising one’s rating may be a fulfilling and gratifying experience.

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