As you get started with Chess, it’s helpful to be aware of some the best resources for learning. Here are my favorites:
In my studies I’ve come to appreciate three websites most:
- Chess.com – Very well designed site with a decent amount of quality free content. Personally I gravitate towards this site first for general play.
- Lichess.org – Lichess is completely free and beginning lessons might be better for nascent players. So this might be a better starting point for those with no chess knowledge whatsoever.
- Chessable.com – A highly repetitive (in a good rote sort of way) educating tool for learning chess basics and concepts. As of the moment, I think their website navigation is wanting – but they are a growing site and will likely improve.
If you’re just starting out, check out the “Lessons” section of these sites to learn how the pieces move and the goal of the game. My Dad taught me chess basics when I was a kid, and I toyed with the game through my youth so for me these were mostly review. But it was a good exercise either way.
IMPORTANT FACT FOR NEWBIES: I got a little confused when I first started looking at computer chess because I didn’t know which way the pieces were suppose to go. Like… if it says white to move but it’s showing an endgame where the pieces are all over the place… are my pawns moving up? or down? This is a super simple thing, but it is never explained: Your color is always on the bottom of the screen moving up. The opponent’s color is always moving down. Again, if it says “White to move” then that’s you. And you’re moving Up.
I have the Chess.com and LiChess apps, but find myself mostly using Chess.com. At one point I tried Magnus trainer, but I think I tried it too late in my education. It might be great for those just starting out, but I found it a little tedious.
Once you’ve got basic moves under your belt, start building your conceptual chess understanding with John Bartholomew’s ‘Chess Fundamentals’ YouTube series. It is FANTASTIC.
- Undefended pieces (54m)
- Coordination (51m)
- Typical Mistakes (1h 33m)
- Pawn play (1h 25m)
- Trades (1h 27m)
Adding to your YouTube education, enjoy the series Beginner to Chess Master by Jerry from ChessNetwork.
One more I really enjoy: Hanging Pawns by Stjepan
It’s a chess journey youtube channel dedicated to education. I love the way Stjepan teaches and communicates. He talks through ideas not as tactics but more as strategies. I LOVE THIS.
Here’s the problem with chess literature. It takes too much space to show the board after every move, so the authors rely on chess notation for most game presentations. Chess notation is not for the beginner. I’m still terrible at reading it and keeping track of what’s going on. If you want to read books on chess, make sure you read them with a board in front of you that you can use to move the pieces while you’re reading.
My System by Aron Nimzowitsch
This is really well written for the layperson. It’s accessible and thorough. But again, you can’t read this at a beach. You need to read it at a desk with a chess board.
Fundamental Chess Openings by Paul van der Sterren
So far I’ve only used this as a reference book for the specific games that I’m playing. I wouldn’t recommend this until you naturally realize it’s time to learn opening strategy.
We just recently purchased Storytime Chess for our kids. It’s a board game that comes with a story book to explain who the characters are and why they move like they do.
It can be slow at times, but it’s designed appropriately. The intention is you read the story for the piece and then re-read it and play games that just use that one character. It’s pretty good. I recommend it.
Lastly: if you have any chess resources you’d like to recommend, please comment below. I’m always eager to explore