Hi. I'm a member of the GOP - Grumpy Old Patzers. I was born (in 1954) and raised in California. I was taught the basics of chess in about 1967 by my father and played often until 1972 when I joined the Army. Since then, I've only played a handful of games.
My interest in chess was recently (2011) renewed after finally watching "Searching for Bobby Fischer". I got online and was amazed at the wealth of chess-related information available. For those who are too young to know the "good" old days, you may not appreciate just how valuable this resource is.
1972 - research was available only through books, books which all too often seemed to be written for those who DIDN'T need them. Living in a small rural town, discussion/play was mostly limited to our high school chess club.
Fast forward to 2011 - Holy time capsule, Batman! I find access to famous players I'd never heard of, a seemingly unending supply of extraordinary games available for study, quality analyses by strong players, a VERY active forum for discussing the often obscure reasons behind the tactics, I get to play against GMs via the Puzzle Of The Day and The World vs The GM and there are Kibitzers ready to pounce (politely) on patzers like me. And this is all available at one site!
As to favorite player - Bobby Fischer of course but I have now discovered Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, et al. Each bringing their own twists - each advancing this extraordinary game.
"May you live in interesting times"