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I have decided to study chess after playing it leisurely for a while. I looked at some online chess courses like the ones offered by Igor Smirnov at the Remote Chess Academy, but these options seem to be quite expensive ($700+). I looked at one of these courses that my friend purchased and it contained some openings that were annotated and showed variations of an opening: This image is a snippet from one of the PGN files offered in the course covering the French Defence I was wondering whether there are freely available resources like the one in the picture below that have detailed annotations of openings, middle games, endgames, tactics, etc. If so, where would I be able to download them?

Alternatively, is there is any free/inexpensive software that acts as a trainer of some sort where one can practice openings, middle game strategy, end games, tactics, etc?

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You can have a look a chess.com forums where people share a lot of PGN games. pgnmentor.com offers PGN sorted with openings, middle game themes and endgame themes. If you are looking for an all in one platform, chessbase is the best so far, a bit expensive but will serve you well.

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I suggest checking https://chessforge.sourceforge.io/ the project is in active development and looks promising for me. another one is https://lichess.org/analysis#1 opening explorer where you can see opening lines some annotations, explanation and statistics and a link to the corresponding https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Chess_Opening_Theory page. a cheap software (in comparison to 700$) will be either https://www.shredderchess.com/windows/chess-tutor.html which are derived from the steps method https://www.stappenmethode.nl/en/ or check CT-ART here https://shop.chessok.com/

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I think Nibbler with Leela Chess Zero is quite good:

  • If you play LC0 at low node counts or no lookahead, it will still play a very strong game, and show a game that is good, solid, and does not require any insane tactics to understand.
  • Again at low node counts, LC0 analysis will show reasonable, strong candidate moves, and again, the tactics should definitively be within reach.
  • The graphical interface shows the candidate moves and their evaluation in an intuitive way.
  • On strong hardware and at unlimited depth, the best LC0 versions will play and analyze at roughly the level of the best Stockfish versions on strong hardware.
  • Especially in the opening, the evaluations and candidate moves suggested by LC0 build on the experience it has gained in billions of self-play games. The move suggestions and position evaluations one obtains this way are much, much better than lichess or similar statistics.

For understanding the strategy behind any particular opening, I would recommend using physical books (or their e-book equivalents, if applicable) written by chess masters. Which books are good then depends on the openings one wants to study. For exploring and practising concrete variations, top chess engines are second to none.

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For annotated games I can recommend a few resources (1) chess.com has Game of the Day (nearly 1500 annotated games so far), Best Games of All Time (nearly 120 games annotated by NM Copeland), a lot of games from some previous candidates tournament annotated by GM Yermolinsky. All of these games you can download from their library. (2) https://www.chessgames.com/ search 'annotated', and you will find many games. (3) search annotated chess games on the internet, and you will find a few collections of annotated games (I found more than 100 columns written by GM Kavalek. (4) Bill Wall's Chess Page - pgn files of large number of books, puzzle collections, endgame studies, and so on. This is without annotations, but most puzzle collections here would have solutions in pgn. (5) https://wtharvey.com/ Thousands of puzzles from the games of famous players, pdf files of puzzle collections, etc.

Lucaschess (https://lucaschess.pythonanywhere.com/) is a great GUI, which comes with 100s of training positions (tactics, middlegame, endgame, positional etc.) as well as some 50 chess programs at different skill levels, opening books, ... all just works out of the box, and you can get started in minutes.

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  • I want to add that some older books may be in the public domain. I remember to have seen Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals in study form on lichess.
    – chesskobra
    May 11 at 21:04

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