I am new to the game and I so far like it. I have watched people on the internet play, tried to copy their moves and have been maintaining an 800 rating on Chess.com and around 1000 on Lichess. I have played around 70 rated games (both sites and 1/2 minute blitz games full of blunders included) at most so the rating may not be accurate. I never read a book nor watched a complete tutorial video of chess. I read on this site that developing tactics and recognizing checkmate patterns would be a decent start instead of worrying about theory; and based on this, I downloaded the following books :

  • John Nunn : 1001 deadly checkmates
  • John Nunn : Learn Chess Tactics
  • The Soviet Chess Primer

And started to play tactics on Lichess. I don't have a type that I play, I try any puzzle that the site gives me.

I was planning to learn and try out different openings, probably with one of the Italian game, the Berlin Defence and the Ruy Lopez. There is no particular reason why I chose these, it's just that the usual 1. e4 openings start that way. The London opening looks a tad common at this level, although too many people just do not like this for its uncreative starting moves. My questions :

  1. Have I chosen the right books or do I need to modify the list? I am looking to absolutely dedicate my chess study time to not more than two books at the moment: suggest me which two out of these should I go with, or if there's anything better, what should that be in your opinion.
  2. Do I work on my opening repertoire now on one of those I mentioned above? (I think the "start with 1. e4, develop the minor pieces, control the center, castle" feels monotonous after a point.) Or read books on middle/end games?
  3. I don't think (say) in a 1-hour long tutorial video one is able to memorize all of it in one go especially when one is new to the game. I intend to to cross 1500 on Chess.com and participate in OTB tournaments (not to pursue to a professional career but rather for fun) in the next 6 months. I am in college and I can spend not more than 2 hours a day on an average. Is it too much to ask for? (It absolutely does not mean I will discontinue Chess otherwise, I am just trying to have that as a goal.)
  4. Am I going to face absolute rookie opponents on my first OTB? What type of preparation am I going to witness?
  • 1
    This is a Q&A site where you ask one question with a definitive answer. We don't ask several questions in one and we don't ask opinion based questions which invite discussion.
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 9:13

2 Answers 2

  1. I don't know these books myself, but John Nunn is an excellent author and tactics are an important topic, you can't really go wrong with those.
  2. If you want some variation in your training, maybe now's the time to start with endgames. They may look boring (to most) at first glance, but if you dive deeper, you will notice more and more how rich and educative they can be. A "repertoire" on the other hand is not something you need until much later (see 4).
  3. Having goals is never bad and yours is not unrealistic!
  4. Most opponents below 1500 FIDE Elo (or national equivalent) (warning: not directly comparable to chess.com or lichess ratings) won't know more than the very basic moves of their openings by heart and will never specifically prepare against you (maybe if you have already played more than 3-4 games against them). For this reason, working on a "repertoire" that deserves the name doesn't yet make sense. Your opponents won't follow book lines for long anyways (often not even the ones from the introduction chapter! Making most if not all of the later chapters moot).
  • I like endgames, especially working them out in the course of a game. I haven't studied any of it yet. For 2, I have Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual in mind. As for 1, John Nunn has an ample number of books: I just selected these two randomly after going through suggestions I found online. The idea is to start with one or two books and re-evaluate later. If you have better recommendations, please feel free to add them. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 7:56
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    @dictatemetokcus No offense of course, but Dvoretsky might be too difficult for your level. Consider trying something more basic first (Averbakh or Portisch-Sarkozy maybe).
    – sleepy
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 8:28
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    @dictatemetokcus I agree with sleepy, Dvoretsky is way out of your league right now. Those books are generally aimed at players of expert strenght (2000+ Elo) and are not at all suitable for novice players. I'd suggest looking into something by Silman, his big book on endgames is very accessible to players of varying levels.
    – Scounged
    Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 12:17
  • @sleepy I didn't know of that. Thanks. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 17:40
  1. books: Nunn is a very good author. Maybe try something by J. Silman too, see if you like it. There are many books for beginners, you might need to spend time to find the one you like the most (always a good idea to check that the author is at least an IM though).

  2. I'd say opening prep is not very critical for you, just yet; most games will probably start with 1. e4 e5 and go in the direction of four knights/italian etc. You do, however, want to at least roughly understand how to play if you opponent stays within his first three ranks and does not compete for the center.

  3. Tutorials video are designed to come back to them multiple times to refresh the ideas. If you indeed can spend 2 hours per day it will be very good. It's also better to spend an hour every day rather than spend an entire sunday and forget about chess for the rest of the week.

  4. most of your games will be decided in "simple" tactics (blunder pieces etc). Make sure you know how to convert material advantage (e.g. exchange pieces, make a passed pawn, push it, promote it, checkmate with the queen).

Good luck.

  • I appreciate your insight. Thank you. Commented Jun 8, 2021 at 17:41

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