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ChessCafe book of the Year award 2013

There are a number of different awards in chess, ECF, ACP, Boleslavsky and the Guardian are all decided by a group of selected people (though the ACP group is rather big!). The ChessCafe.com award is special as it is open for anyone to vote for.

This year Quality Chess has two candidates on the three book short list. John’s King’s Gambit book and Axel Smith’s Pump up your Rating. In case anyone is wondering, we are all going to vote for Axel. We support our authors as much as we can – and his book is pretty awesome!


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  1. Boki
    January 8th, 2014 at 11:54 | #1

    I just wonder why there is no award for the best non-qualitychess chess-Book and non-qualitychess Opening Book of the Year them. Everybody Would have a Chance

  2. Aranha
    January 8th, 2014 at 15:31 | #2

    The book Pump up Your rating is te undisputable book of te year!

  3. TonyRo
    January 8th, 2014 at 16:29 | #3

    It would be interesting if Shaw’s book won – an opening book hasn’t won in over a decade!

  4. wok64
    January 8th, 2014 at 16:46 | #4

    I was a little bit upset that they feature a review of one of the candidates for book of the year this week. I don’t care too much who wins but In my opinion this is unfortunate and shouldn’t have happened while the competition is ongoing.

  5. Jacob Aagaard
    January 8th, 2014 at 18:30 | #5

    I do not think this will play in.

    I just hope that people will vote!

  6. Gilchrist is a Legend
    January 8th, 2014 at 20:45 | #6

    The book is not in the list, but Playing the French to me is my favourite book of 2013.

  7. Confiteor
    January 8th, 2014 at 20:49 | #7

    I voted for Pump up Your Raiting!! wonderful book

  8. Ray
    January 8th, 2014 at 21:00 | #8

    Me too, though it’s a tough choice…

  9. Michael Bartlett
    January 8th, 2014 at 21:15 | #9

    @wok64 yes I was surprised to see that as well. However I think given the first volume of this won last year, and given what was said about Opening Books, I think Axel’s book is definitely a likely winner.

  10. Trefor
    January 8th, 2014 at 23:35 | #10

    I have been working through From GM to Top Ten and would most likely have voted for it if it hadn’t been released so late in the year, I received my copy the day after Boxing Day 🙂 But it seems as fantastic as volume one.
    I have also been reading GM Rep 12 and Playing The French, both really good reads and just so crammed full of ideas – Pump up Your Rating will be my next purchase I am sure, I am just a little afraid that i will be the reader that proves the rule when I finish it 🙂

  11. January 9th, 2014 at 00:25 | #11

    I have just voted for Pump up Your Raiting!! wonderful book. I am looking forward to part 2!! I know it would be really hard to write second part of the book, but the author surely has something hidden at his jacket 😉 :).

    Good luck for winning ChessCafe.com 2013 Book of the Year AWARD! 🙂 Please keep your finger crossed my friends! 🙂

  12. January 9th, 2014 at 01:16 | #12

    I could not resist to notice some amazing details 😉 🙂

    1. Aron Nimzowitsch 1928-1935 by Rudolf Reinhardt – amazing historical and biographical book. Some says it is a continuation of previous classical sequels (My System and The Blockade).

    2. The King’s Gambit by John Shaw – a true dedication to publishing such type of book! Really hard to compare any other book due to long time (comparing to today’s standard) dedicated to writing this book.

    3. Pump Up Your Rating by Axel Smith – the best improvement book (in one volume) as I have ever seen! It is an honour to read, study and digest this book. The author dedication and passion to share his broad knowledge and experience – worthless!

    All in all – the voting will be really unpredictable as we do not know what kind of chess lovers is going to prevail. If I would be a judge – I could chose the last book – Axel did SUPERB material and presented it in a very entertaining way!

    Pump Up! Pump Up!! Pump Up!!! Yeeeesssss……! 🙂

    January 9th, 2014 at 15:24 | #13

    Jacob, could you tell me where is the right place to read PUMP UP. After the 9 Yussupov, After the first 3, along the Yussupov ?
    I have browsed PLAYING THE FRENCH (christmas present): very interesting but very thick compared to HOW TO PLAY AGAINST 1. e4. I think , I will begin with advance/exchange… before mooving to 3.Nc3/Nd2 agains t whom I will keep the Fort Knox variation. Good Job

  14. January 9th, 2014 at 16:01 | #14

    I was 3.5 books into Yusupov when I read Pump Up Your Rating and it was not over my head. A lot of it is about Smith’s recommended process for improvement, and the earlier in your career you read that the better! The strategy chapters were perfectly accessible to me as a 2000. The calculation problems were pitched towards a 2300 but in general they weren’t out of reach for me (even if I didn’t always succeed in reaching them). You will find that some of his advice is aimed at masters (e.g., the detail of his sample opening analyses) but you can calibrate most of it to your own level.

  15. Jacob Aagaard
    January 9th, 2014 at 16:09 | #15

    Thx. In general I do not think any knowledge can do damage. The worst that can happen is that it is not greatly useful. But this again varies from person to person.

  16. Ihab
    January 9th, 2014 at 16:14 | #16

    I voted for pump up your rating and left a positive review at amazon uk.

    I think it is more useful for any player > 1800 ELO

    An excellent book and deserves the award.

  17. wok64
    January 10th, 2014 at 10:09 | #17

    This is how I handle this book:
    I started with a first quick walkthrough just focusing on the described methodologies and skipping over most of the examples and excercises. By doing so I learned that I’m a mummy and got an initial idea how to change that.

    Next step was to take a decision what to focus on given my limited amount of training time. In my case (ELO around 2000) it was easy to decide on tactics training and on further identifying the specific shortcomings of my game. So I reread the corresponding chapters again, this time working through all the examples and excercises.

    Afterwards I choose a tactics book (Weteschnik) to apply the Woodpecker method and started working on it (still some way to go …). I actually even considered applying this method to the Yussupov series but it’s too many positions for my available training time, it’s not only tactics but also strategy and some of the positions may be too tough. After all, Smith’s recommendation was to use “easy” tactical positions.

    In parallel I started to step through my tournament games to identify the shortcomings of my game (still on it). I’m not sure if a player on my level can complete this task without a trainer (How do you know what you don’t know?). Some of my games shortcomings are obvious (e.g. being rusty due to playing too few tournament games and inconsistent “mummy-like” training) but others may be very well hidden from me.

    Next step is to approach these shortcomings (most likely with the help of a trainer, too)

    Final step will then be to tackle the endgames (although I’m already fairly good for my level) and then I’ll approach the openings (my biggest weakness but clearly not the number one reason for my losses).

    Obviously for other people a different order may be more appropriate.

    I see the true value of this book for players of all strengths in
    a) the wake-up call (you’re a mummy and if you want to change it you have to start working harder)
    b) the very clear presentation of a methodology how to tackle specific areas of the game
    For strong players there’s the additional benefit of clear examples and excercises. Weaker players may get a bit frustrated by them.

    Hope this helped.

  18. Jacob Aagaard
    January 10th, 2014 at 11:28 | #18

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Curiously, Andrew is also doing woodpecker at the moment, with… Chess Tactics from Scratch!

  19. william
    January 18th, 2014 at 08:33 | #19

    I want to pump it up, but my wife is enraged that the house is mostly chess books. Please get this book in to my local B&N bookstore, because if I ordered it for delivery it will be intercepted!

  20. SimonB
    January 18th, 2014 at 08:39 | #20

    Ay yes, a house crammed with chess books. Afflicted here too. Save us trouble from our wives. Get onto ForwardChess sharpish please!

  21. Ray
    January 19th, 2014 at 08:51 | #21

    Maybe it’s time you get your own ‘man cave’ 🙂

    Judging from this site: http://mancavesite.org/ your demands are not that outrageous…

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