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So, I've been wanting to get into chess officially for quite a while now. I'm still purely a beginner, but I think I want to start getting serious about playing.
The only problem is, I'm a poor college student with only around 500 bucks in my checking account, and there are almost no local chess events (bar a meetup at the local library once a month).
Does anyone have any advice on where I should go to get started and possibly getting formal instruction?
You will get lots of good ideas here.
Most will say that you don't need a coach or anything like that. You can get quite good without one.
The main sticking point is not having some better players to hang around. Chess buddies can spot your weaknesses and bad habits before you do.
So, you want some book suggestions or training ideas?
Try and join a good vote chess team; you'll be able to see the ideas and discussions that 2000+ players have when they're planning a move and have them evaluate your ideas as well. A lot of people don't really think about the educational value of vote chess.
Yes, I'd like that! Unfortunately, the only person I really am able to play with is my Dad, and for multiple reasons, I don't think he's really my best shot at learning.
Some advice re openings and the opening phase:
Don't bother to involve yourself in studying more than a few moves into opening theory, except in the case of having encountered a new move and you'd like to see what the masters do in response.
Let your best understanding of basic opening principles lead you, while keeping your game sound tactically.
Here's Fine's thinking on the matter for students:
"There are two fundamental concepts in the opening : development and the center. Development is getting the pieces out. The center consists of the four squares in the geometrical center of the board. The basic principle is that it is essential in the opening to develop all the pieces harmoniously and in such a way as to secure the most favorable position possible in the center.More elaborately, there are ten practical rules which are usually worth sticking to, though the expert player will be aware of the many exceptions. These rules are:
Of course there are exceptions as those are general rules. Discover them as you go along and you will have done your job very well!
IMO, and in those of some titled players here, a player can get well into class A USCF without becoming an openings bookworm, but you have to inform your moves with real thought. If you do, when you face the bookworm who is playing by rote you'll have a real advantage when he runs out of other players' moves--you'll have a much better idea of what's going on in the position at hand.
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