On the Origin of Good Moves: A Skeptic's Guide to Getting Better at Chess

The way a beginner develops into a strong chess player closely resembles the progress of the game of chess itself. This popular idea is the reason why many renowned chess instructors such as former World Champions Garry Kasparov and Max Euwe emphasize the importance of studying the history of chess.

Willy Hendriks agrees that there is much to be learned from the pioneers of our game. He challenges, however, the conventional view on what the stages in the advancement of chess actually have been. Among the various articles of faith that Hendriks questions is Wilhelm Steinitz's reputation as the discoverer of the laws of positional chess.

In The Origin of Good Moves Hendriks undertakes a groundbreaking investigative journey into the history of chess. He explains what actually happened, creates fresh perspectives, finds new heroes, and reveals the real driving force behind improvement in chess: evolution.

This thought-provoking book is full of beautiful and instructive ‘new’ material from the old days. With plenty of exercises, the reader is invited to put themselves in the shoes of the old masters. Never before has the study of the history of chess been so entertaining and rewarding.

Richard James, British Chess News:
"I’ve said before that we’re fortunate to be living in a golden age for chess literature, and On the Origin of Good Moves goes right in somewhere very near the top of my favourite chess books of all time. I found it well researched, endlessly fascinating, always thought provoking, often digressive, sometimes provocative and sometimes extremely funny. [...] Five stars and a top recommendation from me."

John Watson, Chess Life Magazine:
"Hendriks does a masterful job of showing how the standard story fails, and why. What makes the book delightful is that he does so with spectacular examples and loads of entertaining stories. [...] I’m certain that On the Origin of Good Moves is the most important and original work written about the evolution of chess ideas. Furthermore, he has made this subject accessible, easily comprehensible, and fun to boot. For those of you who want a break from opening study, improvement books, and games collections, I highly recommend getting a copy and enjoying a new perspective on our game."

Bab Wilders, Nederlands Dagblad:
"An extremely interesting book. It’s a real page-turner because Willy Hendriks has a pleasantly light touch and a cool sense of humour. You can’t help but learn a lot from this book."

Mark Haast, Schaaksite:
"Willy Hendriks lectures on the history of chess and shatters a fair amount of dogma's. Because of his humorous style and acerbic wit, the book fascinates until the last page. Both ambitious players and those who love stories from the old days are in for a treat."

Carl Portman, ChessPlus:
"Club players, stronger players and chess historians will surely devour it and everyone can benefit from a fresh perspective on chess history. I am a fairly strong club player, and fellow players with the desire to learn will find huge value in owning this book. I cannot even think of a book that I can compare it to, so take it for what it is. A stand-alone examination fo the origin of moves - and therefore chess in general. Finally, we get a critical examination of some of the chess played by the early greats. I wish I had read this 30 years ago."

Helmut Froeyman, Schaken-Brabo:
"It was again an absolute joy to read. Hendriks has written another masterpiece."

Chris Wainscott, On the Road to Chess Master:
"There are some quite interesting challenges to widely held viewpoints. The subject matter is fascinating and IM Hendriks' continued insistence on turning standard logic on its ear makes for compelling reading."

Erwin I'Ami, GM:
"Willy Hendriks book is terrific. It totally changed my view on the history of chess."

John Donaldson, Silman Book reviews:
"On the Origin of Good Moves by Willy Hendriks is a fascinating book that explains how chess has developed, not repeating the numerous myths passed from generation to generation as gospel truth. [...] Highly recommended to anyone who is curious how chess has developed."

Move First, Think Later: Sense and Nonsense in Improving Your Chess

WINNER: English Chess Federation (ECF) Book of the Year 2012 Award
RUNNER-UP: Book of the Year 2012

The chess instruction establishment claims that all you need to do is concentrate on the characteristics of a position. Stick to some rules of thumb and good moves will pop up more or less automatically.
But that is not how it works, finds International Master Willy Hendriks. Chess players, both weak and strong, don’t first make a plan before looking at candidate moves. Trial and error is a very common and in fact highly effective way to get to the best move.

In his journey into the chess-playing mind, Hendriks uses recent scientific insights in the working of our brain. He raises a number of intriguing questions:
• Can you, too (whether you are talented or not), become a grandmaster?
• Why does a chess trainer’s advice often sound like a horoscope?
• Can you find strong moves by ticking off a to-do list?
• Is it possible to reach master level without ever making a plan?

Presents a wealth of valuable, no-nonsense training material. In this refreshing, entertaining and highly instructive book, Willy Hendriks shows how you can travel light on the road to chess improvement!

The Judges of the English Chess Federation Book of the Year Award:
"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."

Jacob Aagaard, former British champion:
"Thought provoking, deeply intelligent and beautifully human."

Steve Giddins, author of '50 Ways to Win at Chess':
“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.”

Hikaru Nakamura, US Champion:
"For anyone interested in chess in a broader context, I highly recommend reading 'Move First, Think Later' by Willy Hendriks."

Martin Rieger, Rochade Europa:
"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."

Marshtower Chess Reviews:
"Readers of all playing strengths should find plenty of interest here (..) It is, by turns, inspirational, maddening, entertaining, instructive and witty. But most of all, it is thought-provoking and that seems to me to be the main point of the book."

Kuhan Chellappah, British Chess Magazine:
"It is light yet thought-provoking, controversial but not without substance, and most importantly it is a well written book that is truly fun to read."

Mark Crowther, TWIC:
"I can't really express just how much I enjoyed 'Move First Think Later' by Willy Hendriks."

Remco Heite, Leeuwarder Courant:
"The book is like a breath of fresh air. It is refreshingly different from the usual chess instruction, because of Hendriks' methodology as well as the way he lavishly enriches his exercises with anecdotes and curiosities. That's what makes the book so vivacious and readable."

Marco Kamphuis, Filosofie Magazine:
"Although MFTL is set up as chess instruction, it is primarily a clearly written, entertaining book on the chess playing brain."

Move First, Think Later is available in German, Spanish and Italian translation.