I love learning about everything and solving puzzles, but here is some of my chess history.
I first learned chess when I was 9. My mother was the strongest player in the house. She would always keep her finger on a piece for 5 seconds after moving it before say, "and I think nothing can touch me." My brother and I quickly beat my father, were competitive with each other, and soon beat my mother. Then my brother and I examined the scholars mate and merits of 1. e4 and concluded we had solved chess, thinking we were better than the grandmasters in books.
My parents bought us a chess book, Combination Challenge, and a small handheld chess computer that was not very strong, but strong enough to give practice. My skills increased, and I easy beat any chess player at my elementary school, winning by capturing pieces with forks and then promoting at least 2 pawns to queens and trying to not stalemate.
Later, at my junior high, I met a class D chess coach who visited one day per week. He taught me how to checkmate with just a king and rook, and then king, two bishops, then bishop and knight, and connected me with the USCF, bringing me up to near his level. I easily won a 30 student tournament at my brother's high school, which did not have a chess coach. My brother was my only real competition. I played at a 1400 level in a USCF adult tournament a few cities over, and coffee house downtown had players who could beat me pretty well.
I did not play or study much chess during high school or college, though I did OK the few times I played at my university chess club.
It was not till after college that I bought and worked through 4 chess books on tactics, endgame, positional chess, and openings, and discovered chess.com. My online rating climbed from 1200 to a solid 1400+ with my knowledge increasing 10 fold.
I plan to get better, but I have other goals and obligations in life, and am on the look out for a faster way to get stronger.
I play chess at a coffee house with friends every week. We have all gotten used to each other's playing styles, coached each other, and have all become about the same level. My friend Mike, who used to always beat me, now wins 3/5 games. My other friend, Tanner, who used to be very weak, now beats me 1/3 games. I bought him a very good tactics book, which I'm sure helped. I still come on chess.com for lessons, tactics, analysis, and general discussion. When I play people who have not heard of the USCF or FIDE, I give them queen odds and usually win.
I really want to program a chess computer. Learning actual chess will always be there.