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Move First, Think Later: Sense and Nonsense in Improving Your Chess, 2nd Edition Paperback – August 16, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: New In Chess,Csi (August 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056913980
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056913984
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


One of the most original chess books the judges have seen for a number of years. Both serious and highly entertaining at the same time.
(Judges of English Chess Federation)

What a fantastic book! I have not enjoyed reading an instructional book so much in years. I was laughing out loud throughout, because it is very witty, but it is also a really important instructional volume.

(Steve Giddins)

Hendriks uses many new examples to make his point. A very entertaining and provocative read. I'm sure readers will improve their chess.
(International Master Arthur van de Oudeweetering ChessVibes)

I can't really express just how much I enjoyed Move First Think Later by Willy Hendriks.

(Mark Crowther The Week In Chess)

For anyone interested in chess in a broader context, I highly recommend reading Move First, Think Later by Willy Hendriks. (Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura)

Really a fantastic book, loaded with fresh ideas and excellent examples. After reading this book you will feel like Neo in the film The Matrix, when he discovers that his life so far was an illusion and that his real life will start only now.

(Martin Rieger Rochade Europa Magazine)

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Customer Reviews

Multiple times it seems that his (probably unconscious) grasp of the position is what allowed him to "start" with the moves.
Weak players "move first and think later" because they don't think and are ignorant, not because they have postional "feel".
Amazon Customer
Hendriks disparages the advocates of plans and adages because verbal protocols don't really help us find good moves during a game.
Christopher J. Falter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Falter on August 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
In this collection of miniature essays, International Master Willy Hendriks presents the implications of recent advances in cognitive science for chess players and trainers. Hendriks is the little boy who, observing the parade of standard chess pedagogy, cries out that the king is in fact naked. While he is not afraid to name names, this is no diatribe; his playful wit and pithy phrases make this book a fun and instructive journey. (I don't think his cat really got to expert level after a year of chess lessons, but it was a fun way to talk about how talent might prevail over deliberate practice!)

Hendriks aims his empirical fire at several deeply cherished notions in the chess community:

* The right thinking process over the board will make you strong.
* Develop a good long-range plan before you think about specific moves.
* Follow adages, such as "respond to a flank attack with a central counterattack."
* Trainers know the right methods of chess improvement.
* Anyone can become an international master with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.
* Pay attention to your recent results to figure out where you are and what's working.

Citing the research that shows grandmasters don't analyze more deeply than experts, but use their memories much more intensively during a game, Hendriks concludes that our subconscious engages in matching candidate maneuvers to a reservoir of patterns to find a good move. This is why a chess player does not really engage in rational thought, or long-range planning, before looking around for good moves. After the game he might provide a narrative for what happened, but the ensuing narrative does not necessarily reflect his actual thinking during the game.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Igelfeld VINE VOICE on September 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's not very often that an entire book is summarized by the title, but this is such a book. The outrageous title is the author's way of making a point that is actually quite old or namely if you expose your brain to good moves in a given position, your brain will assimilate this into it's inner processing and help you choose the best move.

The book is filled with psychology, philosophy, and quite frankly opinion. The basic idea really is that many of the conventional approaches to chess improvement simply are contrived and hard to implement into a clear and coherent method for OTB play. I can't argue with him on that having read many (hundreds) of chess books. The author argues that making a plan is close to non-sensical because very few people can see how a game might morph too far in advance. He also is highly critical of "advice" given by authors who are trying to shape the thinking of their book-reading students. Jeremy Silman is heavy target of Hendriks because of his "advice-like" style of chess instruction. But to be fair, the author rejects almost all chess advice given in books and instead himself just advises "pick a good move".

He spends most of the book trying to justify this approach and it relies heavily on his work on the theory of mind. I tend to think he's on to something here and it really is based on force feeding the brain with well-annotated games. The idea being that if you see a good example of an idea that is tactically possible, you'll consider it yourself and hopefully calculate correctly if it works in your position. So, this is good for young developing brains, but not so great for aging chess brains (probably over 25), and if true, means that you can't expect to really advance much as an aging chess player (again, anyone over 25).
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33 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Joe on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book with much enthusiasm, but ultimately it was somewhat dissapointing. For the typical club player rated USCF 1200-1800, there's not much here. Allow me to provide specifics in no particular order:

PROSE and WRITING STYLE: The prose - oh the prose! It's a very choppy writing style that I found cumbersome.

OVERALL MESSAGE IS VAGUE: In a nutshell, Hendriks' point is that traditional thinking methods are either incorrect or overrated. He is particularly critical of the popular Jeremy Silman, stating that his system of assesing the position first and THEN looking at moves in bad advice. He bashes Silman's The Amateur's Mind, but does not provide any real, concrete alternative.

ORGANIZATION: The book is basically "all over the place" and reads like a collection of separate articles.

Basically, this work is more philosophy and "chess entertainment" than practical advice that can be brought to the tournament hall. His challenge of traditional thinking/coaching methods is interesting but I really didn't pick up anything new. Some good tidbits, but ultimately it's just "okay." If you want excellent, pragmatic advice about the mental game and the thinking process, pick up Chess for Tigers by Webb, The Seven Deadly Chess Sins by Rowson or The Survival Guide to Competitive Chess by Emms. They're much better reads.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Rickman on February 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I think this book is fantastic. Rather than giving artificial rules on analyzing positions, the author emphasizes that what really matters is your repertoire of patterns. This is gained with a lot of experience at the chess board, playing your own games and going over and analyzing GM games.
This is what I try to do on a daily basis:
1) Play at least 3 games each day on the internet. First, analyze them on your own and write down the thoughts you had during the game. Then, run it by a strong chess program. Make note of any chess patterns you find interesting. Are they similar to patterns you recall in a GM game?
2) Choose at least 3 GM games from the active strong GM chess tournaments being contested. Two of these games should come from the realm of your own opening repertoire (one as White, one as Black). The third game should come from an opening/defense that you are not familiar with. Thoroughly analyze at least two of these games on your own and with a strong chess program. What you want to experience is as many different types of positions as possible. This way, you'll increase your repertoire of chess patterns. During your own games, your unconscious will access these patterns and feed your thinking. The more you do such practice, the stronger, wiser, and more intuitive you'll become as a chess player.
3) As bedtime reading, get a chess book which presents chess positions to solve.
If you do this on a daily basis, you will be guaranteed to become a difficult player for your opponents to play against.
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