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Unless the players are evenly matched, Chess always seems like too high of a strategic learning curve to to just jump into. Or maybe it's mostly that I've always preferred shorter term tactical decisions as opposed to games where I have to constantly be looking as far ahead as possible. There are definitely far better abstracts than this out there.
I played competitively in middle school, but quit once most people started to memorize openings and play for money. I will still play against friends and have meant to look into variants that are less prone to memorizing optimal plays.
I'm not a Chess fanatic. I enjoy the game, I know how the pieces move and the general tactics and strategy in the game. I do not know the names for the beginning sequences or anything like that. In fact, I really dislike that aspect of chess - that's it's so well known and has been played so much that you're just acting out a script, until someone deviates from it. You're playing out the same games other people have, over and over again. I'd rather play Go or Navia Dratp, but Chess enjoys widespread popularity and I still enjoy playing ... against people who regard it as a game!
(+) Pieces with different movements, almost everyone knows how to play, good mixture of tactics and strategy, has a lot of depth to the gameplay (-) No theme, no variable setup, prone to AP
An abstract game that is plenty old. My biggest gripe with it is that experienced players will destroy new players which I think makes me less willing to play it if you're not playing with people at or near the same level as you.