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I'm a complete beginner and would like to ask for advice in finding the best source of learning materials and path to follow. I heard about chess.com as a one stop shop in terms of lessons as well as an online playing platform etc. I'm not young, hence looking for best recommendations. I don't mind paying small monthly membership for convenience of having everything in one place as reference material. I'm starting completely from scratch.

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Honestly, chess.com is great. There are free alternatives, though. Such as https://lichess.org/learn#/.

There are also so many free instructional YouTube videos, from Grandmasters and IMs. You might start by searching "St. Louis Chess Club" on YouTube and browsing the videos there.

Lastly, the website https://chessable.com is quite good, but courses can be quite expensive. It's still a really good resource to keep in mind, though.

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    lichess is not a real alternative to a paying chess.com membership. Not only don't you have the lectures created by masters on lichess, you also don't have their video library, and many other features. Furthermore, learning openings from Chessable before having learnt the opening principles etc doesn't make much sense. The St Louis Chess Club lectures are more for intermediate and advanced players than total beginners that just learnt the game.
    – Hauptideal
    Nov 23, 2023 at 0:06
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if want books you can get the step method https://www.stappenmethode.nl/ 6 levels great educational value.

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First of all, congratulations for taking up this great hobby.

I think, it will be very helpful to have a structured introduction to chess, rather than collecting different materials from many different sources.

If you choose chess.com as a one stop shop, I can recommend the short "Everything you need to know" series by IM Daniel Rensch. It is also very important that you understand the opening principles and learn about chess tactics and checkmating patterns. Regarding endgames, the first thing you should learn is how to checkmate with a queen or a rook.

You can start by only learning on chess.com, but you may find it very helpful to additionally buy a good book that gives you a structured introduction to chess. You can also consider ChessFactor, a site where you can learn a full chess course with exercises, choosing your own path depending on your level completely for free.

General

Make it a habit to check your opponent's options! Ask yourself, what your opponent's threat is, especially don't sacrifice/lose material without a good reason. A pawn is worth 1 point of material, a minor piece (bishop/knight) is worth approx. 3, a rook 5 and the queen 9 points of material. Make sure that you don't lose material when trading pieces.

Before making a move, check that your opponent cannot react in a way that will hurt you (e.g. win material by taking a hanging piece).

Don't play fast time controls (including Blitz). You'll pick up very bad habits (e.g. not checking your opponents options) that will prevent you from making progress. Start with long games (rapid) where you have enough time to think about your moves and only play Blitz when you've accumulated some experience.

Analyze each game after you played it and try to figure out what your worst mistake was and how you can prevent it the next time.

Opening

Learn the opening principles! I can not overemphasize their importance. They allow you to find good moves easily. You can get to at least 1200 with these principles without studying any concrete opening lines. Always ask yourself "what is my most efficient move", i.e. fulfilling most of the principles at the same time. For example, Nf3 is generally a better move than Nh3, even though both develop a piece, because the knight on f3 controls the center.

Learn what chess players mean by space, time and material.

You cannot go wrong by this very simple rule for your first opening move: Move your e (King's) pawn 2 squares forward at your first move. If you are Black and you cannot do that because the pawn could be taken, move the Queen's pawn two squares forward instead. This literally works against every first move that White can throw at you! You can learn a bit more opening theory, but total beginners typically invest their time more effectively by improving other parts of their game.

Middlegame

  • Learn about candidate moves (checks, captures, threats).
  • learn the most important tactics (motifs, such as pin, double attack, skewer, etc.) and practise them by solving chess puzzles
  • learn the most important checkmate patterns

Endgame

  • learn how to mate with a queen or a rook
  • learn how to promote a pawn against a bare king
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The best place to start is by joining a local chess club. There you will find other chess players who will be very happy to help you to learn and improve your chess. Just by going along to the chess club you will receive continuous support for what you are doing from other like-minded people.

Probably the best single thing you can do is to play over-the-board chess with other human beings. This provides far more feedback and help than playing online.

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Try the free website https://korpalskichess.com/?page_id=61138 which starts from the rules of the game and advances to quite complicated combinations.

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These are some resources I think anybody who wants to get into chess should use.

Good "beginner" chess books to read:

  • Mammoth Book of Chess
  • How to Win at Chess
  • Chess for Zebras

Online resources:

  • Chessable
  • Chess.com lessons
  • LearningChess.net

Puzzles:

  • Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess
  • Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games
  • Chess.com puzzles (should probably get membership if you want to solve a lot)
  • ChessPuzzle.net

Videos:

I hope these recommendations help you get better at chess and get more involved in the chess community.

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Tactics. Review old games. Learn openings.

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