I started learning chess seriously around 20 years ago. During high school, I read a few chess books and went over hundreds and hundreds of games played by chess Grandmasters (GM). At the same time, I played rapid online chess (blitz) on websites such as Yahoo! Games. In blitz games, each player has less than 10 minutes to make all his moves. Some examples of blitz time: 2+0 (two minutes without increment), 3+2 (three minutes with a two-second increment after each move), 5+3 (five minutes with a three-second increment after each move).
Even though I enjoyed learning and studying the game, during a period of five or six years (my “formal training”) I only took lessons with a private tutor for a few months. I did most of my learning on my own, reading books, and going over Chessbase annotated games and tutorials. Also, I never played a rated (ELO) tournament. Later on, in my early thirties (as I’m writing this in 2021 I’m 34 years old) I would participate in a handful of semi-rapid chess tournaments that started and finished on the same day.