My dad taught me how to play chess when I was in my early teens and although I enjoyed the game I didn't really play a great deal. Last month I came across this website and so started my addiction with the game.
I'm using the tactics trainer on this site quite a lot, trying to do about twenty problems per day. I can really see an improvement in this, my rating is steadily increasing (just over 1000 now) and I feel like I'm seeing the moves better. If you are new to the game I would certainly recommend using this. In addition to this I bought Laszlo Polgar's book 5334 problems,combinations and games, based on a recommendation from a fellow member. Again I would recommend this book to anyone new to chess. It has a nice overview of the game to start and a huge amount of problems and games, enough to keep you going for months, possibly years! I am currently working through the mate in 1 problems and am trying to do a page (6 problems) per day.
To a lesser degree at the moment I am using the chess mentor on this site. The feedback you get is useful and I like the way it tracks your progress. I have also tried the computer workout and really liked that although I haven't used it a great deal. Again it may be worth looking into these if you're just starting to play.
I have committed the cardinal sin of playing too may correspondence games, going against the sound advice I received from the same member who recommended the Polgar book. I really enjoy playing in tournaments, I love the competition however recently I have had four on the go. This has just been too many games and as a result I have made many sloppy mistakes and although I have had a couple of good wins, I have had lots of defeats. As a result my Elo has dropped from 1270 to below 1200 and will probably keep dropping! So my advice to any beginner is not to play too many correspondence games, don't learn the hard way like I have!
One positive from playing lots of matches is that some of my opponents have been significantly better than me (Elo of 1500+). Although this has meant I usually lose it has been interesting to see how that standard of player approaches the game. Even though it may be a bit disheartening getting soundly beaten it may be worth playing the odd game against much better players as a learning experience.
Another benefit of playing lots of games is that I have a better understanding of the structure of the game. After the opening moves (an area of the game I still need to understand better) I was straight away looking for the killer move(s). I've now got a better understanding of the middle game where position and taking material is possibly more important.
My aims for next month is to play fewer correspondence games and to use the tactics trainer, the book, computer workout and chess mentor more to learn the game more effectivley. I think I need to develop some game openings I'm happy with and focus on improving my play in the middle of the game.
I'll post an update next month.
The game below is my best win so far, where I won by resignation. I'd be interested to read any comments.
And here is one of my many defeats, any comments on this would again be appreciated.