Why did I compile these resources for you?
When I was first learning chess, the problem was a serious shortage of information.
I lived in the remote Blue Mountains of Australia and had limited access to chess books, coaching (none! 🙁 ) and opponents, and at that time the internet was not really a big thing yet.
This was 1998 and I was 15.
I used to go to the local Katoomba library and borrow 20 year old chess books, written in descriptive notation (ie 1.P-Q4, P-Q4 2.P-QB4, P-K3 etc) and tear them to pieces trying to improve my game.
Almost two decades later this shortage of information is no longer a problem.
A Problem of Selection.
Due to the internet explosion, we now have waves and waves of information available at the click of a mouse (or the tap of your device’s screen) and instead of the desperate search for material, we are now faced with a need to FILTER through enormous amounts of information and, find the best materials for learning and/or enjoyment of our chess.
In fact, I have a strong suspicion that many players in modern times struggle to improve simply because they have no idea which materials to use and waste so much time studying irrelevant material or stuff that’s unsuited for their level.
This post is designed to point you toward some useful resources that I use or recommend and even better, all resources are FREE. Let’s get into it!
ChessBase.com is a site that I have been using for years to see the latest happenings in the chess world, and watch video interviews with players, pgn downloads, articles and more.
The Week in Chess is a site I have used since I was a teenager mainly for their fantastic weekly pgn downloads of every week’s most important chess games. Haven’t had time to follow Magnus in the recent tournament? Just go to this page and download the most recent TWIC and you’re set.
Arena is my favorite software for tweaking and running tournaments between chess engines. There are tons of features, few if any bugs/crashes and a nice interface.
LucasChess is also an excellent software for beginner to intermediate players to use for training against engines, solving tactical puzzles, studying openings and more. The chess sets included in this software are beautiful too!
The Best Engines for players U1600 ELO is a post where I review and suggest the best 6 chess engines for learning players to train against, that are human-like in playing style but weak enough for you to have a chance. Highly recommended.
Rhetoric 1.4.3 is another excellent chess engine which I like to tweak in order to make it play super-tactically and aggressive.
Stockfish 7 is a super strong (3400 CCRL Rating) engine for analysis, which I’d suggest as an analysis tool only for stronger players. The analysis is so deep that a lot of moves will not make sense to players below 2000. It is indeed a “truth finder” engine as I have spoken about in the glossary section.
Chess Tactics Training:
ChessTempo is a great site for players who already have a decent tactical foundation (see above) and who are ready to take it to the next step and build those tactical chess muscles with deliberate, systematic training.
Chess Playing Sites:
Internet Chess Club This is where all of the big boys like Kramnik, Carlsen and Kasparov play on their secret accounts. It’s the longest standing and most professional chess playing site online and I’ve recently returned to playing here as well. There are tons of strong players, varied time controls and no engine cheats – fantastic! This is a paid site (it’s cheap and worth it anyway!) but you can get a whole month free trial by clicking here.
Chess.com has basically taken over as the leader of websites giving chess players the ability to play rated games against players of all levels for free.
LiChess.org is a newcomer, but is already presenting a serious threat to chess.com’s dominance. it offers rated games, tournaments, and tons of features and in my opinion has much more beautiful pieces/boards to play on.
ChessnCognac.com: My goal is for this site to be an amazing community for guys who want to master chess and enjoy the process – without the B.S!
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So those are my picks for the main (free) weapons the aspiring chess player can use to improve their chess rapidly and without confusion or getting distracted by B.S.
I know there are a few I missed, but these are the 20% that in my opinion will give you 80% of your results. Let me know in the comments what are your favorite chess tools and I’ll write an update soon! 🙂