Starting From Square One
By templedf on Jun 13, 2005
Since I've started playing chess on GameKnot (My username is templedf there. Come play me!) I've become painfully aware of what a disadvantage never having studied chess really is. While my opponents very often whip off the first four or five moves from rote memory, I start struggling with the first move. Same goes for end games.
To correct this problem, I've started doing two things. First, every time I play someone, I look their opening up on the web. I can then read about it, learn how best to play against it, and potentially use it myself in the future. A friend showed me a neat trick for finding openings on the web. Go to Google, and enter the opening's notation as the search text. For example, if you search for "1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d5," you will discover this opening is called the elephant gambit, and that it's not used very often because it doesn't ofter enough in return for the pawn.
The second thing I started doing is reading chess advice on the Internet. There are a large number of chess sites out there, many of which have useful advice sections. About.com's chess site has a neat feature where you can play through an opening, and it will tell you what it is. Unfortunately, though, their library is pretty narrowly focused on the mainstream moves.
The best site I've found so far, though, is Chess Kids. Yep. I'm learning chess from a site designed to teach 8-year-olds. There are 9 classes, with each class divided into 6-8 lessons. The first lesson is what the pieces are called and how they each move. Not exactly useful for someone who's been playing chess for 20 years. Fortunately, though, the lessons ramp up quickly. I'm currently in class 8 learning about the Sicilian Defense and the French Defense. In class 7, I learned about how to win or draw an end game with just kings and pawns. If you can get past being talked to like you're 8, this site provides a really good primer/refresher in the study of chess.