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ECF Book of the Year 2012

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

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