My message to a beginner
Hey... I saw you on the Gambit Gang and noticed you joined the Elephant Gambit tournament. I also noticed your rating and have a few pointers for you when playing online chess.
The first thing is you need to do is practice tactics, tactics, tactics. This is the heart and soul for beginner players. Anyone under 2000 should practice tactics. I do at least 100 problems a day and I think if you only do 20 you'd improve your rating dramatically. I practice at a great site and its free to sign up: http://chess.emrald.net/ I highly suggest this site and it will teach you a lot. Also, look up Dan Heisman online, he has some great info for beginners and I'm on his site all the time. Check it out!
Secondly, play a couple of games in the live room a day. A bunch of 1 min games go fast but they teach you openings. You'll learn to avoid traps really quick! After your one min game play at least one game that's 5 mins or higher. This teaches your brain to think in an appropriate amount of time.
Lastly, online chess is correspondence chess. So using books and databases is ok. Meaning, you can use the game explorer here on chess.com. It's located under the Chess.com symbol above and under the 'learn' dropdown. I know at first you'll think you're cheating or not doing the work but when you're not doing it, your opponent is. I have played plenty of 2000 rated players that who only used the opening explorer and after 10 moves they falter because they don't know basic tactics. Also, if you don't use the opening explorer you lose out on a very valuable tool. The explorer will teach you opening theory and show you traps to avoid.
I hope this helps and please know that I just want my team to be as strong as possible! Chess is a game that is to be played and not won. Practice, Practice, Practice and your rating will go up quick. Thanks and good luck in the tournament.