Here are my Top 20 chess URLs -- with annotations! (in no particular order, so keep reading, some of the best are down below)
[OK, OK, there are really 21. Or is it 10101? Computer Scientists will understand, in either case.]
I have to put this first. It's the online book "Predator at the Chessboard" by Ward Farnsworth. Forget books written by grandmasters. Farnsworth is a Professor at the Law School of Boson University, and if you want to learn tactics and improve QUICKLY, this is the book. I kid you not. I can't believe that this is not yet THE site that everyone knows about. It's very long, but easily digested with a diagram for every page.
Large and growing database of downloadable games. Wonderful "Game of the Day" feature, and the hosts have an uncanny sense of the clever pun. Many other features, including a great chess quote every day. Anyone can add comments to any game on the site. Special section for openings, endings, etc. I have a premium membership.
"On the Morals of Chess" by Benjamin Franklin. This essay is available on many sites, so if this one disappears, just search for it elsewhere. Big Ben enjoyed the Game of Kings.
A *very* extensive portal for all things chess. Short tutorials on many openings, a wealth of other links, interesting articles, and you can sign up for a periodic email. (I think it's weekly?)
4. http://www.pitt.edu/~schach/ ("Schach" is German for chess.)
Univ. of PIttsburge Chess Club, and the best sub-page is:
Univ. of PIttsburgh Chess Archives. Lots of great stuff here.
The famous ICC (Internet Chess Club) where lots of masters hang out, but anyone can join and play.
Another chess portal with lots of articles/columns, etc.
If you don't know about Bill Wall's Chess Page...well, then you just don't know. Incredible, unbelievable, funny, fascinating stuff. Better have a some free time when you go there, because you won't want to leave.
Don't want to buy score sheets for tournaments? Print your own.
Huge chess games site. Over 2M games here to view or download. If you can't find it on chessgames.com, you'll find it here.
When I was a kid growing up in Clear Lake, Iowa I remember the local newspaper had a chess column. Sadly, those days are gone, but the NYT does still have one. Scroll down a bit (don't be fooled by the URL name) and click on the chess link to get the latest column.
Yet another huge chess portal. While you're there, sign up for their free weekly newsletter.
Index of openings to vast downloadable collections by ECO code.
A free openings explorer.
Silman is the best contemporary chess author, imho. (Chernev is the best classic author for beginners/novices.) This is his site.
What list of links would be complete without a reference to Morphy? Would someone from Hollywood PLEASE make this guy's story into a movie?? His life has all the mystery, drama, and tragedy you could ask for. Oh, yea. He was the world's best chess player in the mid-19th century, and an American, no less.
And speaking of American chess legends, this is Bobby Fischer's website. I can't decide how best to characterize it here: weird or sad.
And while we're on the topic of great players, here is the USCF page on IM Ben Finegold, the best chess player in Michigan, and one of the two best 'Merican born players in the country. Grandmaster in strength, if not (yet) officially. And he has a great sense of humor too. His personal web page seems to have disappeared. (Anyone know if he has a new one?)
Kasparov is often cited as the best chess player who ever lived. He is currently heavily involved in Russian politics. Not a native Russian, Kasparov was born in Azerbaijan.
I originally discovered Wikipedia when it was just a few months old, and there was almost nothing there. "Cute", I thought, "but nothing will ever come of it." This was not the first or last of Godden's Great Gaffes. Wikipedia has a great chess site.
For the seekers of esoterica, here is an essay on the Theory of Corresponding Squares. I'm a research scientist, so I like stuff like this. I did have a more academic link than this one, but it seems to have disappeared.
I have more links than this, but these are the BOB's (Best of the Best).
Next, I'll post an annotated list of good books for beginners and novices.
In the meantime, choose your move carefully, in chess and in life.