Reports | October 05, 2012 15:53

Move First, Think Later wins ECF Book of the Year award

Move First, Think Later wins ECF book of the year award

The book Move First, Think Later by IM Willy Hendriks won the English Chess Federation's 2012 Book of the Year award. The book is "one of the most original chess books the judges have seen for a number of years", writes the report on the ECF website.

Here's the full verdict of the judges:

The choice for 2012 is one of the most original chess books the judges have seen for a number of years. Move First, Think Later by Willy Hendriks (published by New in Chess, £18.99) manages to be both serious and highly entertaining at the same time.

The subtitle gives an indication of Hendriks subject matter –“Sense and Nonsense in Improving your Chess”. The author is an IM and for 25 years a professional chess trainer. He graduated from university with a degree in Philosophy and is very well read in modern developments in neural research, learning theory and associated subjects. Hendriks believes these disciplines now have much to teach us about chess teaching and playing.

As a result he is interested in questions such as, for example, why are all chess players are not grandmasters? Is there a methodology for how strong moves can be found? Or, what is the role of planning? Above all Hendriks offers a substantive criticism of much of traditional chess training and literature, in particular statements such as “Against a wing attack, counter in the centre” which can be misleading generalisations. The judges are well aware that not all readers will readily accept that all his ideas are entirely valid, nor all his propositions sound, but considered that the arguments in the book will stimulate a lively debate on how chess is taught and played.

The book consists of 27 creative and thought provoking short essays on a wide variety of related chess subjects. Each chapter is illustrated by challenging chess exercise positions (certainly not of the routine White to play and win type) which serve to illuminate the text.

All the above describes the book, but does not give an adequate impression of its originality or especially of the stimulation which it provides the reader. Hendriks is also an entertaining writer with wit and a sense of humour, often against himself, which makes the book a pleasure to read.

All these qualities combine to make, Move First, Think Later a worthy Book of the Year 2012 winner.

- Ray Edwards, Julian Farrand, David Friedgood, 4th October 2012

Besides the winning book, also shortlisted were:

  • Advanced Chess Tactics by Lev Psakhis (Quality Chess)
  • Fighting Chess with Magnus Carlsen by Adrian Mikhalchisin & Oleg Stetsko (Edition Olms)
  • Gary Kasparov on Garry Kasparov Part 1: 1973-1985 (Everyman)

Willy Hendriks said:

I'm very happy with this prize. If you look at the other three candidates – Psachis, Michalchisin and, yes, Kasparov – then this is a great reward for my book. The qualifications of the jury - humorous, entertaining, original, stimulating - sound like music to my ears of course. The jury obviously had a "safe" choice (Kasparov), so it's kind of brave that they chose a somewhat controversial book instead.

Previous winners of the ECF Book of the Year: Nunn’s Chess Endings Volumes 1 and 2 (John Nunn, Gambit), Attacking Chess Volumes 1 and 2 by Jacob Aagaard (Quality Chess, 2010), Kasparov vs Karpov 1975-85 by Garry Kasparov (Everyman, 2009), From London to Elista by Evgeny Bareev and Ilya Levitov (New in Chess, 2008), San Luis 2005 by Alik Gershon and Igor Nor (Quality Chess, 2007), Van Perlo's Endgame Tactics (New in Chess, 2006), My Great Predecessors Part 4 by Garry Kasparov (Everyman, 2005), Pal Benko My Life, Games and Compositions by GM Pal Benko and IM Jeremy Silman (Siles Press, 2004), My Great Predecessors Part 1 by Garry Kasparov (Everyman, 2003), Fundamental Chess Endings by Karsten Muller and Frank Lamprecht (Gambit, 2002), Viktor Korchnoi's My Best Games Vol 1: Games with White by Viktor Kortchnoi (Edition Olms, 2001) and Queen's Gambit Declined by Matthew Sadler (Everyman, 2000).

ChessVibes reviewed Move First, Think Later on July 28th, 2012 here. We congratulate our compatriot Willy Hendriks and publisher New in Chess with winning this prize!

Update: Here's a presentation by Willy Hendriks of his book which he gave in December 2012 during the London Chess Classic:

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Mattovsky's picture

I'm reading this book right now and it's indeed fascinating. Congratulations!

Soviet School's picture

I read this book on the bus during the last fortnight was so interesting I left my IPad at home !
Hendrik's introduces each chapter with some positions, but they are generally not too difficult and serve as an appetiser for the text.

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