Take the 2-minute tour ×
Board & Card Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who like playing board games, designing board games or modifying the rules of existing board games. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am interested in learning chess. I am already familiar with the rules of the game, but I am very weak when it comes to tactics and strategy.

I am afraid that if I just register at chess.com and start playing games, my ability to improve to my chess score will be limited by the fact that I won't understand the reasons for my losses.

On the other hand, I don't feel like there is anything worth doing well that you can completely learn from reading a book. I'm also just not sure how to find the book that is right for me. Most books seem to either be for beginners that don't know what the pieces do, or for rather advanced players whose techniques just don't apply to me yet.

Also, I don't own a Windows machine, so running Chessmaster or Fritz would be difficult, though not out of the question.

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by LittleBobbyTables, Paul Marshall, Patters, user1873, Andrey Oct 24 '13 at 21:58

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
4  
Also the tutorials in Chessmaster (which is available for Mac also) are really good - that's how I started learning however many years ago. Finally, I can't recommend chesstempo.com highly enough. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 17 '12 at 16:06
    
@Danny Thanks for pointing out chesstempo.com! –  Cory Klein Apr 17 '12 at 19:47
    
gnuchess and xboard are available for almost all Unix-based platforms, including OS X. –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Sep 27 '13 at 13:04

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

When I started working on my chess, I improved a lot just by playing at least one game a day with more experienced tournament players who would point out reasons why I lost afterwards. It was definitely more efficient than just reading chess books, which I did on the side. If there is a chess club nearby, you should definitely check it out.

I am guessing from your focus on online chess sites, books, and chess softwares that playing over the board with a human opponent is not an option. On chess.com, you can ask if your opponent would want to discuss the game afterwards. Even if that does not work out, just by playing alone you are already building up your collection of chess patterns. In my case, I learned the dangers of the Nc7 fork, vulnerability of the f7-pawn, the Q+N smothered mate combination, among others just by having them inflicted on me. After you have fallen victim, say, of the Nc7 fork several times, it will be so much harder for your next opponent to pull the same tactical trick on you. You may even be the one to inflict the Nc7 fork in your next game. There is no substitute for practice.

As for books, you may want to try books with lots of tactical puzzles. For one thing, you will be actively solving problems rather than passively absorbing information. And for another, the time you spent working on tactics will pay immediate dividends at the board. To get started, you may want to look at Heisman's annotated list of chess books. The link jumps straight to the section on tactics, but you should definitely check out the rest of the page as well.

I hope that helps.

share|improve this answer

I also am very bad at chess, but one thing that has helped me improve somewhat in both chess and Go is reviewing my own games. After I finish, I go back over it and see, with the benefit of hindsight, what I could have done better. This works even better if you have someone more experienced (perhaps the opponent from that game) to reveiw it with you.

Also, I agree that books are of limited help. But readin and then playing a game and actively trying to apply what you read about does seem to help me.

With that said, I am very much a beginner myself, so take everything with a grain of salt.

share|improve this answer

At my low level I would say that in game of chess strategy is secondary one should concentrate on tactics a good site to do it is http://www.chesstempo.com/

share|improve this answer

One really cool way to learn chess solo is "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess". It's and older book, but if you can find it I believe you'll find the effort worthwhile. It starts with mate in one problems and progresses to mate in 3, using a

share|improve this answer

To learn a game like chess, the very best is to have a teacher, friends to play, and maybe a chess club to play at. a very good chess teacher can be $75/hour however, registering for USCF membership is $50/year to play rated chess games at a chess club.

I'll stick more to books, software, and websites, since that is what I have more experience with.

Currently, I'm trying to study chess myself and these articles by Dan Heisman are the best I've found on the subject. Dan Heisman's General Book Guide, Chess Books and Prerequisites, An Improvement Plan

Currently my study plan would be (as an advanced beginner)

  1. Puzzles
  2. Theory
  3. Play
share|improve this answer

I am going to have to agree with the comments above, go to a chess site and play a few games, try to find an opponent that will explain what they did after the game is over. On sites like chessworld.net, your opponent can see your score, and if you ask honestly what you should have done, most will tell you.

In a lot of cases when I found those willing to help, I challenged them to another game, and it involved running dialog... Probably not fair games, but it did help to see what they were doing at the time they were doing it.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.