Originally posted by ouwe belg
If you just started chess this year I think you'd be better of getting a tactics puzzle book than any opening book....
These guys are right. It's way too early in your chess learning to be studying openings. See tip #4 below:
Steve Lopez wrote an article 'Improvement for the Average Player' for Chessbase's T-Notes on March 30, 2003 (which I have printed off and refer to often). I'm paraphrasing, but the main points are there. These are his ideas, not mine, so please don't think I'm coming off as a know-it-all. I'm quite the opposite, and I have A LOT to learn. Anyway, here is the "meat" of his article:
How to Improve Your Chess Game
1. Study tactics!!! Chess is mostly short-term tactics.
2. Study endgames. Studying endgames is incredibly boring, but it's almost as important as learning tactics. It's good to know how to win (or draw!) in an endgame. Endgame study separates men from the boys. Spend most of your time on those two subjects: tactics and endgames.
3. Spend some time studying positional play/long-term strategy.
4. Do NOT spend a lot of time studying or memorizing opening systems/theory until you reach Elo 2000+. That is a hard rule to unlearn, but follow it.
5. Play as much chess as you can, especially with a stronger player. Swallow your pride and allow yourself to get beaten on the board. Your Elo will thank you for it.
6. Record your games and go over them--especially your losses--with someone stronger.
7. Replay over games of other good players (www.chessgames.com is good for this) and try to really understand why they made the moves they did.
8. Don't kick yourself when you lose: losing teaches you things, and there are more important things in life than winning at chess.
Those methods the books people here have recommended have helped me *tremendously*.