For Beginners

This section is under construction: please bear with us!

How Do I Keep Score?
Here's a good brief explanation (PDF) of the two major systems: algebraic notation ("pawn to e4" or "1. e4") and descriptive notation ("Pawn to King Four" or "P-K4").
Books and Software for Beginners
Building a chess library is a good way to spend a lot of money quickly. Many beginners’ books are easily found in public libraries. However, it generally makes sense to buy the more advanced books, as it takes much longer to read a chess book (correctly!) than it does to read a novel.

It’s a good idea for the young player to participate in the purchases, as s/he will generally have a sense of which books are “too easy” and which books are “too hard.” Again, I don’t recommend skipping the easy books, but in many cases, they may not need to be read quite so carefully. Save a buck and use the library card. 

Many classic (pre-1980) books are written in descriptive notation (“1.P-K4 P-K4 2.Kt-KB3”); almost all modern books are written in the more logical algebraic notation (“1.e4 e5 2.Nf3”). The serious student should know both systems of notation. 

It's generally easier for beginners (and masters!) to understand games played before World War II, so On the lower left side of  the blog, I've listed several of the books that I first read forty years ago. Several of these books are out of print, but can be readily obtained via eBay.

Alternatively, the first two volumes of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series (Part 1 and Part 2) cover much of the same historical ground., but these books will be far too advanced for most beginners.

As for computers, any strong chess engine is good: Rybka is generally considered the best commercial engine, but Fritz, Chessmaster, and Junior are all incredibly strong, too (of these, Chessmaster is particularly beginner-friendly, with lots of instructional material) There's no need to spend money on a hioh-end playing engine at this level: beginners who enter their games into the computer will be able to find mistakes that they couldn't identify in the post-mortem. Stockfish is free and excellent.