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EP.225 - GM Axel Smith

Perpetual Chess Podcast


This week I am joined by one of my favorite modern authors, Grandmaster Axel Smith. Axel is a two-time Swedish Chess Olympiad member, who is probably best known for co-authoring the 2017 book, The Woodpecker Method with his fellow Grandmaster, Hans Tikkanen. Axel has written a few other books, which are excellent guides for more advanced players. They are Pump Up Your Rating, e3 Poison, and his latest offering from Quality Chess, Street Smart Chess. In our interview we discuss all of these books, and touch on topics like the origins of The Woodpecker Method, Axel’s own experience with using spaced repetition, and his improvement advice for ambitious club players. There are lots of useful nuggets in our conversation, so I hope you will enjoy it. Please read on for more details, timestamps, and relevant links.


0:00- We begin by discussing what is probably GM Axel Smith’s most popular book, the famed The Woodpecker Method, which he co-wrote with GM Hans Tikkanen. The book is available from Amazon and is very popular on Chessable

Mentioned: Book Recap #6 discussing Woodpecker Method with Neal BruceEpisode 187 with Christopher Chabris, Episode 216 with Dr. Jana Krivec 

15:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by You can check out their latest offerings here: 

New Chess Courses Online - For All Levels in all -

16:00- In Pump Up Your Rating, Axel listed the 4 key components of chess improvement: “ (1) analyzing your games and making a ‘list of mistakes;” (2) using a De la Maza-esque program to study tactics; (3) doing serious opening work via the creation of ‘opening files’ in ChessBase; and (4) mastering approximately 100 key theoretical endgames.” 

Does he still think this is the best approach?


Mentioned: 100 Endgames You Must Know 


20:45- In e3 Poison, Axel mentioned that we may be entering a post theoretical era- what does he mean by that? 

Mentioned: GM Anish Giri 


24:30- What players does Axel look up to?

Mentioned: GM Stellan Brynell, GM Ulf Andersson, YouTube Video- Play Like Ulf Andersson -

27:00- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Check it out for free, and then, if you decide to subscribe, use the PromoCode Chess30 to save 30%.


28:30 What is the theme of Axel’s newest book, Street Smart Chess? 

Mentioned: Forward Chess, Street Smart Chess, Free book excerpt from Quality Chess here:

GM David Navara, GM Aryan Tari, GM Baskaran Adhiban, GM Laurent Fressinet,GM Peter Heine Nielsen, GM Magnus Carlsen, My Chess World, The Secret Ingredient by Jan Markos and GM David Navara 


39:45- What is the chess culture like in Sweden? 


41:00- What are some of Axel’s favorite books?

Mentioned: Learn from the Legends, Move First Think Later, On the Origin of the Good Moves 


46:00- Axel Smith shares some life and chess advice before departing. You can keep up with him via his website:

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