Those of you who are looking for a more in depth and serious interested in chess will likely find more delight in the future articles. This, however does not completely isolate the casual chess enthusiast. Information here will still be easily understandable to the most basic players. As I mentioned I won't be teaching chess tactics... that's what your handy dandy text books are for.
What's important for any growing professional is to know where you are, where you're heading and goals to meet along the way. Personally for me I prefer to break down player development into groups. So for this article I would like to introduce a sort of flow chart.
Beginner - Understanding the rules of the game. How do you win. What piece moves where.
Novice - Understanding the idea of strategy in chess. Tricks and tips. This is where you creatively visualize in-game tricks. Building a nice position. Creating an interesting combination. Success isn't really prominent here but players will begin to express themselves as competitors.
Intermediate - An educated chess player will reside around this area. This is where a player decides he wants to fill in some of the gaps in their development by investing in their knowledge. It's not until a player reaches this state where they understand how far they truly stand. The danger is where a play may choose to max-out at this stage.
Advanced - This is where an intermediate or educated chess player will learn some of the patience and discipline of the game. An intermediate player may still tend to break away from their plans. A more advanced player begins to put together a major portion of their refined fundamental knowledge and will play more bold. You'll see more (! - a good move) in their analysis. It will be common for an advance player to create true threats amongst professional players for short periods of time. Honestly while 60% of players will fail to reach this state it is reachable by anyone through commitment.
Semi professional - Very comparable to a professional player in terms of skill and creativity. The major difference between an advanced player and semi-professional is having insight on more definitive long-term development of a in-game series. Being able to play game winning moves instead of momentarily satisfying developments. Their game-play will come together as a whole or they may pursue a career in non competitive chess environments such as authoring. Some will argue this is the state where talent alone will allow this plateau to be reached however I believe a player can reach this state at a minimal if time, devotion, and means are present.
Professional - A consistent mindset with a wealth of knowledge. While blunders will still occur in any players game, the ability to recognize in-game and make viable fixes is present - and not only after. A semi-professional player will take satisfaction in such post-game diagnosis.
Master - This is more or less where a player can reach GM IM titles.