Friday, December 30, 2011


It's kind of extraordinary (I avoided using the word "amazing" since for 2011 it was voted at the top of the list of most overused, banal, and of irritating words. I am surprised "impacted" hasn't won that award for the last 5 years.--at one time it wasn't even a word!) that as one gets close to finishing up a topic that a half a dozen other thoughts and entries want to make their way in... and this morning, I am trying to help that along.

Purdy's Chess Chronicles is NOT a newspaper, it is a 50+ pages PDF which recounts many things which appeared in CJS Purdy's three magazines: Australasian Chess Review (often incorrectly called the Australian Chess Review), Check!, and Chess World.

It seemed necessary to do this because the early issues were in a big danger of disrepair (is there such a word?)... especially if they weren't bound. They were even scarce in their day and several times Purdy offered to buy back copies no longer wanted from subscribers.

While Purdy's Chess Chronicles is a preserver of chess, it also points out areas where Purdy was way ahead of his time in thoughts, actions, annotation, and inclusion. He really loved chess in Australia and New Zealand. He became an International Master in 1953 when he won the world's first Correspondence Chess Championship over some very tough rivals.

For $69.95 and an email address, you can relive the "days of yesteryear" which they talked about in "The Lone Ranger," only without Tonto. You can contact me, Bob Long, at for more information.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I've been online for a while this afternoon looking for resellers in Germany who answer their emails and might want to do business. It's not easy to find them. Looks like the Big Boys scare them off.

I noticed that almost EVERYBODY and THEIR BROTHER are selling chess sets! I had thought about getting into that in 2012 and now I am not so sure. Here's a few reasons:

1) Perfection by a couple companies is viewed as "the only way." I'm sorry to tell these geniuses that while they are copying old designs, the old designs weren't perfectly produced and yet they were great to actually USE! Now the NEW ones are supposedly perfectly rounded, tapered, rolled, carved, etc. B.S. One reviewer of "perfection" found flaws and who is the reviewer? A chess set Nobody (I know the guy).

2) I know of only one designer of "perfect" sets and they were cut in Delrin, a DuPont plastic which is so hard a blow with it would wipe you out. Why is it perfect? Because he was a first class programmer who knew how to tool and die and have the right sharpening and cutting tools. I've handle the pieces and while no longer made, I waited too long to get one. Makes the word "gorgeous" seem inadequate. When you go into wood you can do quite well, but perfect, probably not.

3) One designer and chess set pattern maker had a gorgeous description written up years ago about how he fiddled with this, fiddled with that, etc. I am sure he did. He also had his plastic pieces made outside the USA. Within no time the weights started rattling even though they were guaranteed NOT TO. He's still in business, maybe making betters sets. I notice he does know how to raise the prices, so let's hope so. If you are around a while you hopefully learn something. He writes well, of that I agree, but after all these years I can read between the lines and notice what ISN'T said as well as what IS.

4) Most hide where their pieces are made. All the good stuff (I'll make one other exception, possibly Italy) is made in India. The mediocre stuff is made in Poland, Germany, and lord knows where else... probably Russia too, maybe shops in former Yugoslavia. There are a few places that have their own studios and carve their own men or lathe them (or both) and they DO know what they are doing, but it can take them awhile to make a set. Working on it hour after hour is mentally and physically fatiguing.

You see, chess set making is really, really, boring. After you've made a couple it gets really tiresome (many amateur wood carvers give up after one set)... hence the need for machine shop precision where the "tweaking" is done via software.

5) Here's another thing. Seems like 50 is the magic number. "Only 50 made!" Do you have ANY proof of that? It's like autographed baseball cards, equipment etc. Unless you know the star and you were on the spot when he was writing, that doesn't mean anything except to the manufacturer who I am 1000% positive would let you look at his records! (Right.) Some years ago Fischer's "signature" was on something and it was mentioned on (unbelievable). One look, for a nano second, told me it was crazy. But those who have never seen Fischer's autograph might believe it. I owned Fischer autographs from different sources for many years, before forgeries became the norm. He even signed a "My 60 Memorable Games" book I had, in Denver, on the spot, on the stage. I could reproduce Fischer's autograph 100 times better than these bozos, so if you want a real Fischer's autograph, you better REALLY be certain. Fischer's was not that legible, so when you see something nice, neat, and nearly "printed," rest assured, you are going to lose dough.

In my possession is a huge collection of miniature sets (travel and analysis sets) and regulation size sets made out of all kinds of materials. I've just started selling them again. Sold a very nice one, locally, to the wife of a friend of mine. He went nuts and wrote me:

The last time I was at the shop, I couldn't help but look at some of the used sets you had. I told myself I'd come back and look them over more closely after the first of the year. But I figured I would be hardpressed to find anything in my price range, especially when the first one I picked up was a Jaques set. 
"Apparently the Mrs. was reading my mind. She got me a beautiful set complete with walnut box. Not that I need another set, I already have several wooden sets plus the plastic standbys, but nothing as nice as what I opened on Christmas Day. 
"Thanks for steering her in the right direction. 
"She now knows more about sets -- the different woods, the importance of being weighted, what a knight will tell you about the set, and the size of pieces -- than she ever thought she would.
"Those details mean a lot to a chess player. "
(name withheld)

Is he thrilled? Certainly. His wife also got to inspect the set on my premises. I even showed her other sets. My friend hadn't seen this one when he was in earlier, I brought it down especially for her.

It really does pay to know who you are dealing with. I've sold chess sets, the good stuff, since 1971 (Jaques, imported from a friend in Denmark). Though I have non-Staunton sets, I prefer the Staunton design. If you are interested in seeing some photos and getting my list (when it becomes available), let me know.

PS: I've had discussions with "knowledgeable" chess set people. Maybe a few of them have learned a lot since I had talked to them, but expensive ISN'T the criteria except, WHEN it is! I recall one set I sold for $2,500 and this guy calls me up, freaking out. He's an expert on Staunton sets and there was no way it was worth that! So I asked, "Well Mr. Smartypants, what should I be selling them for?" He said he had his (same brand as what I had) for $1,000. I said, "I'll take all you have!" I wasn't joking. And to make matters worse, he had NONE! (I know this guy, he was lying to me. Once he realized I would buy 5 or 10 at $1,000 each all of a sudden, they weren't for sale. My respect for him plummeted after that. You can't shine up bad character [referred to as polishing a turd.])

I think I might have another set which was exclusively made for B.H. Wood, the publisher, years ago, of Chess. This may be a faulty recollection however. I have sold this set a couple times, bought and resold, same set. My records indicate it was sold for $2,700. So even if I do not have that one (one of a kind), I have one or two copies which were made (I think they were made for him too, but a different color from the original), for $500 each if anyone is interested. This is called pedigree but the only word you have is mine. These things don't often come with papers so when I see sets (and I've seen these offered by several different "manufacturers") with certificates of authenticity, brass plated, plastic insets, etc. I crack up. Anyone with the right equipment can make this stuff.

On the other hand, if you JUST LIKE the darn thing, and you can afford it, don't worry about all that other crap, just get it! Use it. Store it on your mantel. Hide it in your underwear drawer. Just don't get too anal. All the great old sets look like they have been used, even museum sets. Expect to pay something for them. When I hear people bragging about their chess set collection and the first thing they drag out is one made of onyx (or marble) from Mexico I want to leave town.


Monday, December 26, 2011


It was less than a year ago that I was on the tail end of finishing up The Chess Reports publication which had over 2,000 pages in the 10 published volumes.

Last night and today I was reminiscing, by actually looking through them, at how much really good stuff there was in them INCLUDING the contributions from readers. It's a slow process because now and then I get stuck on a couple issues and start reading. I find typos, and a few mistakes, but, you have to trundle on as they carried an enormously short deadline--one week in the early days.

I made up a stack of CDs to hold all 128 issues and I have it for sale at a very special price. The $199 is a steal, over 60% off of the regular retail of $545.00.

But... in order to get you salivating at the type of contents you can find I am giving away FREE issue #22 which was about SLOWING DOWN THE "BLUNDER" BRIGADE. All you have to do is request it with your email address querying mine ( and I will send you one.

Those who have been buying Abbazia 1912 will find included with the first class shipment printed copies of two fantastic testimonial letters of those Chess Reports days. One is from USCF Expert Gary White and it's on staying current. The other is from another subscriber, Dale Suilmann and it describes the way he studies tactics (it's very good). These will be mailed free with any orders I receive requiring first class postage. He also says he is a "Purdy Man," meaning he gobbles up anything on CJS Purdy. And to that end, I want to inform everyone that issue #4 of the Purdy Chess Chronicles will be going out this week. A subscription is $69.95 for all 4 issues + the TWO Bonuses (Alekhine interview and a huge games index of the games reported in the various Purdy publications we have put together over the years).

Lots here to start out the new year.


PS: By the way, since the post office is not working today, the Abbazia 1912 books will not be mailed until tomorrow. Most everyone else works today but the postal union grabs some extras. They don't believe the government will allow the PO to fail, but they might be surprised at how it's all reconfigured... and they may end up having to get a job elsewhere. You grab too much you end up with nothing eventually. Time to work extra days like everyone else (I may as well toss bankers in there but you already get the idea). Yes, I know Sunday doesn't count as a Holiday but we have President's Day and a host of other stuff coming up. The other businesses are open... which reminds me, I better get to the grocery store.

Friday, December 23, 2011


At this very moment I know one chess person who has a LOT of money and still gets suppers at homeless shelters, food places, etc. He has $200K house (almost new), and gets thousands per month in income (part time job), disability, and other perks. It's irritating but no more, in fact likely much, much less, than big US corporations who get big tax breaks from Uncle Sam or outright cash (McDonald's in foreign countries). I love big oil's arguments. They feel they should be guaranteed 6-7% increases per year just like other stocks. There are no guarantees guys, not anymore.

Despite all that, and those losers!?, still give at this time of the year to reputable institutions such as the Salvation Army bell-ringers ensconced in front of grocery stores. Tip your waiters and waitresses well (they have kids too). Help the ladies who wrap packages inside bookstores. None of these folks are walking around with silver canes or walkers, they have more empathy than most. Finally, the SA is paying some of these folks to freeze their tush's off.

Put some real money in the collection plate. I've had people tell me they can't do such and such because they just bought a computer, an iPad, or their third smartphone. Those things, and their contracts, aren't freebies. Set aside some for the less fortunate. And if you really and truly don't have much, offer a great smile and a hello. That always helps even if it is only you!

I heard yesterday about some idiot in Utah who won a Lamborghini and wrecked it within 6 hours, driving too fast in bad conditions. I just saw another one of those Alabama Wal-Mart people postings. Depressing stuff. On the other hand, I just heard on NPR about the 5 Star  Taj Hotel in India and the fastidious, helpful, and over the top service the employees provided ALL guests when they were attacked by terrorists in Mumbai. Many of them lost their lives or the lives of members of their family.

In another statement of complete WTF!, the North Koreans announced that just before Kim Jong Il died, the mountain where he would be buried gave off a red glow. They embraced this idea but... I think we now know where the entrance to "hell" is!!

One last thought which I will cover in a future Gentlemens Chess Club newsletter: BE KIND to new chess players or new club players. I remember one time when 3 or 4 guys showed up one evening (not at my club, a different one I belonged to). You could tell they played chess with each other at lunch and probably other occasions (they did A/C installations). We paired them off against members of the club who proceeded to do their best at wiping them out!! They never came back. Sure, they weren't as good as they probably thought they were, that's common in chess... but there was too much "silent glee" at roasting and toasting the new guys. I am sure they "felt" the "you're new here aren't you?" vibes. Also who knows how many others they might have eventually brought to the club. For all their "thinking" prowess, lots of people, and lots of chess players, don't really manifest it.

Bad manners often go with bad character.

Otherwise, Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Bob Long

Thursday, December 22, 2011


As I've mentioned before, when I am "silent" on here I am usually working manically to finish a project and completely overlook that I haven't done a Blog. Intensity it is, right on Focus.

As I finished up SCORE today with many more pages than I intended (by including a 2 page order form for one), I was watching Simon Williams' DVD Play Like Tal. He was killing me! Funnier than ANY other chess DVD I've seen! It's interactive so you get to choose moves. So far on the first three I got the first one on the first try, and 2 and 3 on the second try. I wasn't concentrating enough (necessary).

But Simon offers hints on HOW Tal played. His stories of Tal are incredible and so was Tal's "lifestyle." Drinking while drinking and smoking while smoking. If he took showers he probably smoked in the shower! But, for a small guy, he had an incredibly powerful and intuitive brain and it was as fast as lightning. There was one story about Tal actually "thinking" for 45 minutes before making a move. Later people said they were amazed at his "depth" of concentration. What it actually was -- a story in his head about HOW to get a hippopotamus out of a swamp. When he finally made the decision to let the hippo "drown," the image went away, he came back to chess and the move to make was obvious!

I have a feeling I should have ordered more but the distributor IS very fast with me so don't worry about that. $29.95 (2 DVDs) for the G&L price and $27.95 for the Gold Card price. Add $2 for first class shipping. (BTW Williams DVDs on the Sicilian Dragon are full of juice and chess healthiness while Sam Collins' "Killer c3 Sicilian" has convinced me of an opening I need to know for those "sometimes 1.e4" games.

If you want additional info on these DVDs and books I can send you a free SAMPLE copy of the current issue of SCORE but you have to send me your email address.

With that, I am off to look at a gift and purchase for Rita? Remember her? She hurt her left foot and is off work for 3 weeks and loves the REST! I've heard of "rest," what is it? Well, she has a job where she gets a check every two weeks and I don't... so I have to interest my customers in something... and maybe that issue of SCORE will help. If you are a PAID subscriber you should have your issue by now, or within an hour or so... it's a biggie and there is a lot of traffic on the web today. Bandwidth boogey.

Send those letters, orders, cards, and baseball cards right here to:

Monday, December 19, 2011


You've probably heard that "bad news comes in threes?" So does good news.

I screwed up by only allowing two weeks for the next issue of SCORE, it should always be three or four. Well, it's possible issue #10 will be out this Friday as I have 50% of it completed with thanks to Andrew Martin. If it is out this Friday, then there will be a longer spell between #10 and #11.

Secondly, Purdy's Chess Chronicles #4 is almost finished and a big chunk of #5 is done, which won't be sold by subscription. Psychological reasons for that for me.

Thirdly, I got my boxes in today for my experiment of the PizzaPak Kit for To The Point. If I get that whole package out in December that will be a miracle and means I gave up on everything else, which is not quite possible yet. So expect it in January. Plus I have to go through a couple hundred games for the CD. Want you to LIKE TTP, not get turned off by it.

But, to continue on, it looks as though Abbazia 1912 might be here this week.

Sales have plummeted to the basement and I wonder whether the USCF 20% off of everything sale has anything to do with it? Those kinds of sales usually mean BAD news is coming. This is what makes it difficult to sell a commodity. After someone else has appeared to fail they have a giant sale and it kills the rest of us who have been doing this for years while the new people are still in diapers and resting on their laurels of "knowing everything." Tain't true, takes more than going to college. In fact, I think going to college hinders good marketing because it puts you into the mold of someone who only teaches it, and who doesn't practice it.

Anyway, am taking a day off tomorrow to see my friend Steve Lamansky in mid-Iowa. He promises food and fun and some chess "thinking." Hope I am up to it! In the meantime, while I am out of town, please flood my email box with orders, requests, that kind of thing. You'll make my Mom happy (she can let up on the CARE packages) and me delirious. When I get delirious then that means I have a few extra bucks and maybe can find someone to go to a movie with! Lots of good ones this week and next.

In the meantime, don't "goose" people you don't know, it usually annoys them.


Friday, December 16, 2011


Just got word it shipped from the printer. What I think it really means is they are confirming (!) they are shipping. This company prints well but their understanding of English and declaratory sentences both off the web and online, is definitely substandard in line with many other web sites.

Do ME a favor readers, register with this website and through Google. Don't be such a Big Baby and give me all that crap about "having to do something," "getting emails from everyone, etc." It isn't true. Google DOES want to own the world and they will try to do that through their Android devices, not the Blogosphere.

ADVANTAGE: People read this web site because they like the content. I know several IMs who read it all the time and LOTS of people who contact me or tell me over the phone they do, but it looks like I only have 19 people who give a damn. When this was Chess Museum there were around 60-70 and I know way more than that. Now people think they are boxing and "ducking and weaving." We are living in a commitment-phobic era. A friend who works in a law office told me that "divorces are always up around Christmas time." Cowards! Get out of buying a present for someone you used to love but now, "Waaaaah, my life is so miserable."

Google gives more credence to preferences IF I have lots of "registered" viewers. And who knows, if I get enough I can have somebody put some "I'll pay you enough to keep you from starving" ads on here (I didn't say you had to view them!) You can bet your rump it won't be a chess advertiser, esp. Batsford, Gambit or Everyman. I have tried all of them. The only one who would advertise with me was, McFarland! Good company. Robbie is one of the good guys, the rest couldn't make a decision if a gun was pointed at their heads. So they say "no," or "contact me later." We need a Universal Database to keep track of all the wimps and limps in the world so that we don't accidentally hire them!

Christmas is coming and Santa knows who the REAL bad boys and girls are. (Think Washington DC first, then go down the list.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I just opened a virtual "Christmas card" from my main printer. Yeesh, how crass. Was it from the people I deal with, 3-4 of them? Nope. It was a corporate thing of people on sleds, etc. sliding down a snowy hill and of course not wanting to offend anyone, it said "Happy Holidays."

Totally sleep inducing, and I didn't feel even 1% better that they spent their time on me even if I spend thousands of dollars a year with them, year after year while they invent new fees to charge (an example: My Merchant Statement from my credit card company has 14 different fees they charge me each month including a "Data Breach Fee." That is, if someone hacks into their credit card records instead of THEM being responsible for their security lapses, each merchant pays a $5 fee! And it goes on and on like this. Keeping track of all this crap on their fee list hires more people whose job is to do diddly stuff.)

I wish my customers good things, acknowledge them, tell them when their packages will ship. Some call this personalized service.

I am sure I have customers who are Christian, Jewish, atheists, agnostic, non-denominational, and maybe even Muslim. Thanks for your business and "looking in" from time to time. You mean something to me as you help keep the engine of industry churning and allow me to buy groceries, pick up a few presents for others and so on.

On the slightly damper side I noticed the US Post Office has stamps for Kwanza. What a fraud! This isn't winter solstice, a religious festival or anything like that. It is a bogus attempt for attention after the Watts riots in California. Why is there a stamp for this? Why is there anything for this? Aren't Americans Americans? Do I tell people I am German American, or Irish American, or Plutonium American? Nope and neither do most others.

We have become, as a nation, so politically correct (PC) anymore that you can hurt somebody's feelings by looking cross-eyed at them. Who was originally responsible for this? Answer: Weak people  (wimps) because to start this height-challenged stuff, weight challenged stuff, it empowers their weak little knees and tiny little head. Are any of these people in thriving and ongoing businesses or do they work for city, state, and federal governments or teach in the university-college systems where they have the time (and get paid for it) to play act? Real stuff takes real work (even chess) not "make believe work" on someone else's dime and time.

Then again I have problems with days like Columbus Day, President's Day, Martin Luther King Day. Fine people all, but THEY never needed a holiday to prove it.

And by the way, we have this terrific Holiday Season coming up called Christmas and I hope you have a blast (Hannukah, etc.). If you are single, or lonely, join the club. I am looking forward to 2012, but then again, I am always looking forward to the NEW year. Do something with your family. Play some chess with somebody. Do Something.

Now to show you this is Bob, not a substitute, send those orders, cards and letters in. Be glad to hear from you unless you have a hang up about this PC thing.

Last comment for the day: Thank you for reading this blog, for putting up with me, and for doing business with me if you do (and I hope you do). Life is a Quid Pro Quo in reality and I hope I give you good products and time for your $$$. I feel better already.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


G&L CHESS is putting out a 6-pager today of newly acquired chess books and DVDs and with a mention of several which are coming.

A special sale will be on for 2-days only to see if some of the "dead" can be wakened (a very tough obstacle by the way).

New in Chess 98 and 100 will make their appearance too.

In the interests of book cover design I have depicted Broznik's new 1.d4 BEAT The GUERILLAS. It has a "jungly-looking" cover but NO gorillas. The "jungle" is probably just a garden or forest with a green-filter lens, so, that's kind of fakey.

The book, however, has some genuinely interesting "non-fake" chess openings under the glass. I'm sure the nose in the air pundit sniffers will have some interesting things to say about this. From my viewpoint it brings to the table things we have heard about or even had to play into (or out of).

There will always be opponents who want us to think originally while perhaps that is not as true of them (after all, they know in advance what they intend to do).

Here is a rundown on extremely varied contents:

How does one deal with Black’s aggravating weirdities after 1.d4. The books is strong on content, useful games and “complete” like I have never seen. Here’s what I mean:

Part 1: Various 1st moves, Englund and Zilbermints Gambits(etc.), Dutch Benoni, The Woozle, Polish Defense, Owen’s Defense, 1…Nc6, Keres’ Def., the English Defense.

Part 2: Queen’s Gambit variants: Marshall, Austrian, Baltic, Albin, Schara-Hennig, Delayed Stonewall.

Part 3: Indian Specialties: Snake Benoni, Vulture, Fajarowiz and Budapest Gambits, and the Black Knights Tango.

Broznik believes that White shouldn’t have to put up with this stuff even if it only shows once in a while. 224 pages. G&L price is $21.50, the Gold Card price is $18.95. SIX dollars off of the $24.95 retail.

Your copy, if you are on my email list, should arrive today. If you aren't on said list, contact me and I will make sure you get one.

Monday, December 12, 2011


First off, I want to thank out of towners Steve Lamansky and Earl Zismer, who drove quite a ways to come Saturday.

Then I would like to thank Ed Reedy, Roger Kromphardt, Joe Willett (and a new GCC member to boot!), Justin Gilbraith (who joins GCC on a monthly basis), and myself (Bob Long) for coming to play.

Entry fee was $25 unless you belonged to GCC which almost all did.

We were done somewhere between 3 and 4 p.m., starting at 10 a.m.!

Steve was nice and footed the bill for pizza from Harris and it hit the spot. Thanks Steve. As you know I have free water and pop at GCC (Gentlemens Chess Club).

There were three place prizes and a trophy.
1st: Bob Long (my friend Allan Savage thought it was "rude" to win my own tournament and I agreed with him but I wasn't even going to play!) When it looked like we were going to have an "odd" number I was asked by the top-rated guy there, Steve Lamansky, to play, so I joined in. Once the event got started, another came making it 7. Back to "odd" again.
So I got the trophy to my own event too... and I would like to make this an annual thing not because I love annual events but because of the "comment" below.
2nd: Steve Lamansky -- we had a nice tug of war didn't we Steve?
3rd: Earl Zismer (who donated his winnings back to GCC--thanks Earl, cool!)

Annual thing: The kudos were many when it was over: UNRATED (lowering the pressure cooker part), fun, no scoresheets, no rankings or ratings, AND, when you were done you just played whoever was available. If you had played them before, you switched colors. No histrionics, problems... everyone was having fun. I had brought down a ton of work to do in the event I wasn't playing (I try to avoid playing at my own events) and got NONE of it done, but I had fun... which for me is not a too often thing.

If you were "thinking" of coming you should have called. People tend to draw their own conclusions as to when something will be finished and I dare say they often are incorrect. The time control was 10 minutes, no delay. But I gave an option of 15 minutes if both players agreed and I will report all games but my first one were 15 minutes for each side.

While I was going for a "perfect" no losing streak (wins and draws) I would like to mention here that Earl upset that applecart by beating me at the end of the tournament. He said that was for beating him at the beginning. Thanks Earl for a lesson in "revenge."

The "impression" I got was one of "let's do this type of event again!" What I liked was no paperwork to the USCF and no sending then a rating fee either.

If more had been there we would have had a SINGLE round with each player. Those who had to leave early for work, or had something else on their menu could... that was one tremendous feature. If your results weren't going so well and you wanted to leave to take care of something else, it would hurt those who hadn't played you, so there was a tendency to "pick up" games as soon as possible with little to no waiting around.

But I am going to begin "ruining" things by advertising in Chess Life and getting who knows who because I have a mortgage, utilities, and taxes to pay on this building.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Some of the details were posted yesterday, please refer to that.

Joe Willetts is coming but the only one 100% confirmed. Does anyone out there have an IDEA of what to say or do to get people to acknowledge they will come? I don't mean the entry fee in advance is much lower than the one at the door because in my experience (these days) and from what other TDs have told me, it doesn't make much difference. People look at many tournaments as "disposable," "take them or leave them."

Joe joined the Gentlemens Chess Club last night, making paid member #13 and Justin Gilbreath has the type of job where he can't always be sure that on Thursday evening he won't be called into work, so he is looking at a Monthly Membership. Which by the way folks is $12.

So I want to congratulate these Gentlemen and also look forward to the first LADY who joins.

BTW it's $100 now. The deadline was Nov 30 for the $50 fee, it has passed. However "Country Gentlemen" can still join for $50 (must be more than 90 miles away.

That's it for today... will be down at the shop photographing chess sets for a new catalog.

What have you been up to? Getting any chess gifts for Christmas? Pounding the doors down of

Gotta go...


Thursday, December 8, 2011


Been busy as you may have figured.

1) SCORE #9 is due tomorrow but I am trying to send it out today.

2) Supplemental BONUS and Holiday Catalog goes out this evening and includes BONUSES (which I call BONI) if your order exceeds $60. FREE books. You probably don't own them either.

3) ABBAZI 1912 the King's Gambit Accepted tournament book, full of tactics, vim, vinegar and bizzaro comments by winner Rudy Spielmann is at the printer. As I mention in ads in SCORE 9 and the Catalog, only 100 will be printed (unless the demand is over the top, which, being a tournament book, is doubtful). It will be shipped in the USA for FREE. It is 89 annotated pages. The Muzio Gambit (and its decline) is kind of interesting. Spielmann won 1000 crowns and then he immediately moaned about the type of tournament and how the King's Gambit sucked more than a Hoover.

4) Have to prepare a game for tonight at the Gentlemens Chess Club. I already have it picked out and invite you to show at 6 PM at 1101 W. 4th St in Davenport, IA.

5) Sent out TUXEDO JUNCTION newsletter Sunday or Monday for the LAST MAN STANDING tournament this weekend at the GCC. $25 ($20 if you are a GCC member). One day, Saturday. Starts a 10 AM and is UNRATED for a change. The concept of Last Man Standing started with my knowledge of the Bruce Willis movie. Details for asking (

6) I am working on 2 books for another author at the moment and... I am looking for my manuscript for the Feb release of MODERN CHESS BRILLIANCIES HUSTLED. Sometimes there is just too much going on.

Also hope you make some purchases to keep this enterprise going. Been a tough year.

Gold Card renewals are ready for 2012. $50.



Monday, December 5, 2011


After three weeks or more of waiting for my Certified TD results on the Local TD level, I finally got an email telling me I flunked! I missed 9, allowed to miss 8. Another guy I know, a pretty sharp Army colonel missed 8 and squeezed in!

I was told which ones I had wrong.

Actually, I spent more time on this test than it was worth. I am still certified as a Club Level TD and have asked HOW SOON I can take the test again (I really don't even want to be a TD anymore--it's a thankless job)? This should have been on the Fail Report.

As I was taking the test, and mentioned some Blogs back, I could see some amazing "hair splitting" in the answers. Hair splitting results when you are up against a chess lawyer. A guy with nothing else to do but argue.

The Weird Part
Here is the weird part and I wonder if this has happened to you. When you were in H.S. or College didn't you pretty much know whether you had aced, bombed, or passed a test and you were usually right? Me too. Of course I am referring to tests with Multiple Choice (like this one) not essays where one might try to B.S. their way through an event of epic proportions!

I thought I had aced this test. So now I have to re-evaluate, look at the answers I gave (I kept a copy just for this purpose) and see if I can REASON my way to CONFORMITY. I really think that is what this is. The OTHER possibility is that there was a big sheaf of CHANGES I hadn't read! Reason: Time and this was for the Basic Level, directing tournaments in the neighborhood. So now I will read the SHEAF and see whether Up is now Down and IN is really OUT.

Not mad, just disappointed that it took so long to get the results (that's how mixups happen) and I wasted so much time on reading the Rule Book (which I've said before I took the test, was poorly designed). The point of these tests, I am guessing, is reasoning powers: mine vs. theirs so that a TD can make an ON the SPOT judgment in some sort of "iffy" situation. As I've said before, lots of these situations can be eliminated if there are hard and fast rules. FIDE now has it that if you are late, even for one minute, for the game, YOU LOSE! That's the way it should be. All this grandstanding, sleeping in late, mocking and all this other crap is just that, crap. It is Political Correctness AMPED up. As with victims of crime, there is little or no consideration for the GUY or GAL who showed up on time and actually planned to. Most sales people are on time or a little ahead of time because their livelihood depends on NOT ticking off the person they want to sell too. Being late ticks them off.

And the clocks play an important part. EVERY chess player in an event should bring a working clock, chess set, board, scorepad or recording device. If you don't have the basic tools, you forfeit. How often have we been at tournaments where higher-rated players show their complete disdain for us commoners by not having ANY tools to use at the table? And these people have gotten away with this for years. Sammy Reshevsky claimed he didn't even own a chess set! We know for sure he didn't own a clock because he had the bad habit of claiming that the clock he was using was defective IF he lost on time. If I recall reading correctly one TD told him, in effect, "Tough Apples Buddy" and refused to consider Reshevsky's complaint of a defective clock. He had even been caught keeping his finger on the button so that his opponent couldn't push down his button! (Cleveland US Championship). This attitude is PC at its worst--fear of upsetting a muckety muck, or perceived muckety muck.

Other high rated players have coughed incessantly when it is your turn to play or keep knocking the clock over. I recently heard from someone who wants me to publish his book and he was a known offender like this. Folks, it AIN'T gonna happen! The word "lout" is in the dictionary for a reason even if it only refers to ONE person!

PS: If I was the person in charge of TD quizzes and I had a backlog, the solution is simple. I would take them home, grade them there while watching a DVD, listening to some music, etc. until they were caught up. It can be done and people do that. Being at work in the evening is no guarantee of accuracy, but if one takes their time and even only does 5-10 such quiz sheets, within a week or two, everyone will be caught up--but the problem is one workers often have--it ain't my job off hours. Well, employers don't feel that way (or shouldn't unless they have an employee mentality). I heard someone say recently they hadn't gotten a raise in 3 years. I almost asked, "And... have you done something above and beyond what you were getting paid for to merit such a raise?" But I knew I would get the "deer in the headlights look." If someone agrees to work for $15 an hour making widgets, they don't deserve a raise unless they have done something beyond making widgets. It's not in the Constitution. It's not a right. The only way I get a raise at MY company is to produce more and to sell more.

PS: Don't forget there is a tournament this weekend at the Gentlemens Chess Club. Last Man Standing, details tomorrow (I hope).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today I turned to as I rolled out of bed and before heading for the shower and I see a Mr. Portman discussing the newest Fritz (13) edition. He's a good writer. I especially chuckled at the "could be improved upon" paragraph which wasn't much and yet raised an important point (the back button!). A nice issue too that he raised.

But what I really miss is DOES ALL THIS GIMMICKRY actually do anything other than "swell my head?" That is, does the "Bob Long Variation of the Muzio Gambit" really amount to anything in the scheme of chess openings? Nothing was devoted to this.

Some posts ago I asked readers who bought Fritz13 from me to comment on the "Let's Check" feature. So far, none have done so. I am sure there are some, like Kevin James in the Die Hard 4 movie, who sits in his basement all day long, and getting cookies from his Mom, who have spent untold hours deciphering Man's Plan for His Existence.

The idea of working hard on some variation of the Advance French and sending it to the German ChessBase servers to burp out to the rest of the world doesn't encourage me. So what if something I have done has my name on it? Isn't this the worst form of looking at oneself in the mirror all day long, first a full front face shot, then a profile, etc.? "What about that hair sticking out?" Good grief, we need one more narcissistic thing don't we?

Do I really relish the idea of taking something I have discovered myself and sharing it with potential opponents or even publishing companies? Or, wait awhile, and have some person add to the Bob Long line, the Zelda Xynx variation refuting the Bob Long line? This easily gets out of control. Something like the Sicilian Defense would be loaded full of lather or rather.

But there is this--maybe there is something I am not getting about all this. In Mr. Portman's article he seemed pleased but he gave NO examples of how he used this, on any opening. Nor did he say how FAST this analysis is when compared to "real time" use. Nor HOW does one move (on their own) deeper into the "French Fry" line for example. All he said was it was EASY (that is a common ploy in the marketing world and 50% of the time a total lie).

And then there are COMPETING lines (both with the same evaluation and different engines, etc.) Do I want to waste hours (and that's what I would be doing) looking all this over on my own? Do I not have a job and family to talk to? Was a Tutorial of all this provided on the DVD? No mention that I read. (I didn't completely read ALL of his paragraphs as some were increasingly long and dense.)

And speaking of other enhancements I am told there is an improved engine. What does that mean? Faster? More accurate? Higher rating? What?

Sorry, this review, nicely written, didn't tell me more than what I already knew or read except for the Back Button thing.

What do you guys say? I'll even listen to you who bought Fritz13 from someone else! This NEW feature sounds intensely gimmicky with very little useful value to me. Virtually everyone who bought one from me was to get a "new and improved" analysis engine, not one mentioned being excited about any particular features.

PS: Today or tomorrow I will be sending out, through the mail, Specials on famous chess players and their autographed books per Wray McCalester, a very old friend, and top notch friend, of mine. He's moving to Mexico next year. Not my choice, but then I am sure Wray has spent a lot of time thinking about this as he does with most anything.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


In 2002 at the Jumer's Hotel in Bettendorf, Iowa Thinkers' Press put on Chess Festival III.

The luminaries there were pretty amazing:
Prof. Raymond Smullyan, now about 90-91 and still going strong.
GM Jonathan Rowson, who then proceeded to tie for first at the World Open, and win the British Championship
IM John Donaldson, chess historian, player, and traveler
IM Malcolm Pein, publisher, and owner of Chess & Bridge (in London), and
Michael Fisher, chess player and Shakespearean actor (great fun too).

It wasn't our first, that would have been 1998. Others were 2000 and 2004.

It wasn't the first Chess Festival in name. I think Italy or some European place used that title. But at what we did I would like to think we were first and that was to invite audience participation, sales, workshops, and only at the end, a chess event such as the Triple Hammer where those who paid (80% of the attendees) played three masters simultaneously!

It was a hoot and the best of the four. I think 54 people paid $75 or so (an insanely small amount) to fly all those personalities here (except for Michael Fisher), put them up for 2-3 days and pay them. Clearly $4000+ wasn't going to pay for that. This is where SPONSORSHIP came in. It was sponsored by Thinkers' Press and that was done through sales of merchandise, t-shirts, etc. My staff was small: Rita, Nate, Diana, and my wife Sarah. You might include the KITCHEN staff as when Michael Fisher was doing his bit upstairs in the loft for 50-60 people, they all stopped working to watch him amaze and amuse (and he did).

As I said, it was a hoot. One of the evenings, probably Saturday, my wife and I hosted a free get together in a 3-room suite at the Castle Lodge. I think it was for "friends of Thinkers' Press. There was food of all kinds and a chance to get more intimate with our special guests in conversation, photo taking, etc. Everyone had a great time.

The next day, Malcolm Pein (pronounced Pain) told me he had been to chess parties all around the world and "this one was the best!" Maybe he said that in the heat of the moment BUT it was a pretty good time wasn't it? And it came AFTER the tragic 9/11 event the year before. While others were hiding in their basement, we took the RISK of doing something really cool for chessplayers, collectors, lovers, etc. They loved it. We're all ten years older now.

Now the Big Deal is the London Chess Classic, sponsored by whom? Malcolm Pein of Chess & Bridge. Everyone of note will be there. But more than that, there are all kinds of side events, not just a GM or IM annotating some games like in American tournaments, but special concoctions such as John Nunn and Vishy Anand taking spectators on an astronomical tour of the universe, a screening of "Bobby Fischer Against the World," etc.

I'm not jealous or envious--we did it first. I'd like to think it planted the seed in Malcolm's head. Would be fun to do again, but before I do that, I would rather write a book about the labor and expense involved because the mere thought would give those with a small staff a brain calamity. It could be done though picking new celebrities would be a monstrous job. I have one in mind who would electrify chess people, but not only does it take "Two to Tango," it take 3-4 or more. Ticket prices would probably be $250. At this time there are those who, no doubt, would think it was worth it, but not enough of them unfortunately. The cost of marketing could be the biggest expense. TPi would need some additional sponsors as "only a fool spends his own money" they say.

So as you read today, for you who came to that Festival in 2002, you might remember we were the Grand Daddy of the plush chess event.


Monday, November 28, 2011


NTD William Broich, from Des Moines, is looking for ONE FIDE titled player to come to the January event held at the Gentlemens Chess Club, 1101 W. 4th St., Davenport, Iowa 52801.

Bill's email address is:

The January event is: January 7-8 at the above address. If you are within traveling distance and would like to help Iowa get a CORE group of FIDE (International Chess Federation) rated players, we can go from there and you will be more than a little appreciated.

He told me the following have accepted:

Robert Keating FR
Luis Peralta
Jim Ellis FR
John Hartmann
George Eichhorn FR

Where FR = FIDE rated.
So he needs one more, and if you are passing through, just want to help out, whatever, contact Bill would you?

This one will take place in March, and hopefully the extra FIDE rateds from January can help with this. It too is at the Gentlemens Chess Club, same address as of this writing. The DATE: March 24-25, a weekend of course.

Once we get a pool of players it can be self-generating.

While I will be there it will be to sell books and equipment. I am not playing, not that I wouldn't like to, but business is first. He is advertising for 20 for March and hopes for 14. Take a tip from the Event Guy (I've had a few successes and a few failures), go for the 20 or even 24. It's $50 I think and a good cause (YOU!).

Bill wants to be an International Chess Arbiter if I have that right. Gets to fly to places like Pogoville, Antarctica, Moscow, and Dollyland. Seriously, give Bill a heads up. Talk is cheap, writing is cheap, so let's make it a real thing.


For the March event he is allowing any USCF paid member to play… isn't that you?

Friday, November 25, 2011


I've sent a Chess Gazette and two catalogs out in the past two weeks.

No response to speak of. I am hoping everyone got this Black Friday thing out of their system. Did you save any money? I didn't go out to buy anything and my business online purchases were made last week. No personal purchases yesterday or today except some sandwiches.

I also have been told my New in Chess Yearbooks (98 and 100, plus a couple other New in Chess titles) will be in late next week or shortly after that.

As I write this, late Friday night, I am finishing up Abbazia 1912 The King's Gambit Accepted. I hope you like it. It is the second book from TPi on the King's Gambit but this isn't so much about the opening as the TACTICS that I hope buyers will take away from this.

Blunders vs Poor Tactics
I've noticed in club play it isn't the occasional "drop dead" blunders that cause club players to lose, or miss winning, but the fact that their eye isn't sharped keenly enough to see even short tactics.

In this 90 page book there are LOTS of tactics to be found; if I were to delay this project another month, there would have been even MORE alternatives to point out--pitfalls others would fall into, but not US! (Haha.)

Lastly, 8 of the 12 King's Gambit Accepted games played in Red Wing, MN last July made it into this book in annotated form at the back. There was some interesting play by the way. I wanted to speed up play and thus chose the Game in 60 venue to produce MORE tactics. I am not sure this happened; maybe it produced more conservativism.

The book is $30.00 postpaid. $15 to those who were at Red Wing. Completely annotated> Games that have never been found were left out (no kidding!).

Quit worrying about your rating unless you have a real reason to (ego doesn't count).

Happy Post Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Recently I mentioned to my friend John Blackstone that in the past year there appeared, at least on the surface, to be a lot of games at these "big tournaments" where if there was a WIN, there was a better than even chance it was by Black. Go back and look at some of the "crime statistics" on ChessBase's daily web site and see if you agree.

John remarked that Fischer, back in the day, was not satisfied with "equalizing" as Black, but going for the gusto from the beginning, i.e., "crossing the line." John, a master originally from California, played Fischer in a simul which managed to make it as a note in Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games.

That was one observation. Another, back in the early 90s or late 80s, I had mentioned in the Chess Gazette that top chess players were really stretching to win a game, no matter how. Opening theory was not dismissed, but was undergoing heavy "re-evaluation." So STUFF was tried. There were experiments. Former "lesser" systems were given second thoughts. Later, when John Watson (another John!) came out with his wildly popular Mastering Chess Strategy, he said the same thing.

This morning another thought occurred ("pattern recognition.") There was commentary on the CB website about another round of draws, but not unexciting ones and this was the second or third round in a row (Tal Memorial) like that. I looked at the picture of Carlsen, that very talented kid from Norway. He's bearing down. But I "sensed" tiredness.

Here's the gist. Last night while reading voraciously the brand new Caissa Editions book Pasadena 1932 which just came out, I noticed that once again those older tournaments had an eclectic mix of players. The winner was Alekhine. But Fred Reinfeld had a draw with AAA. Also in at 5 points was Reuben Fine, but Reinfeld had beaten him! Isaac Kashdan finished second and then there was a bunching: Reshevsky, Arthur Dake, and Herman Steiner. Dake in his game with Alekhine, won, and with certainty. On the other hand there were lesser lights such as Harry Borochow, A.J. Fink (finished last but beat Steiner), J.J. Araiza, Sam Factor (brother of the cosmetics magnate Max Factor), and Jacob Bernstein. The notes are great fun to read.

The real point is: DIVERSITY. When you have all that power at the Tal Memorial or any other big event like that, it truly turns out to be a mental endurance contest. There is no rest for the wicked OR the pure. Imagine, you are a top cat and in your room the night before your brain is saying "Oh who do I play tomorrow? Oh no, not him. I need a break, I am tired. I've just got to make sure I don't lose." Losing for these guys is a Major Suck (look at Fischer, his attitude was the same). It doesn't mean they don't lose and it doesn't mean they won't recover, but every day it is the same old same old. The occasional one day breaks don't help and nowadays games are played to the finish. It is obsessively relentlessly mind crunching and spirit draining.

If promoters want a little more winning action they should "dot" the scene with a few players who aren't the very cream of the crop. They will surprise you from time to time and they will be given a chance to compete. And naturally, some will want to prove themselves as Capablanca (Pillsbury, and others) did. The Big Boys get a chance to beat up on the mere 2600s and the "mere" 2600s get a chance to play the Big Boys. And we all know that saying, "Stuff happens."

By the way the Pasadena 1932 book is available now (errata sheet coming next week) and it's $44 but KNOW this, as good as the book is, and with the help of all kinds of contributors (and in hardcover), NM Bruce Monson added a chapter on Ladies chess and the parallel tournament (and another parallel tournament). What was so special about that? Two people: LaVieve Hines and Gabrielle Andrieux. Hines, hands down, was a MAN killer in the sense she had beaten many of the best (and fended off advances from men). She played Alekhine and lost in a simul. The second time her game was much better, but she did lose again. The third time, she was offered a draw by Alekhine who "smelled" eternal success was not going to happen. There was even a non amorous photo of the two of them and he spent some time at her "estate" and her mom's. He gave her opening tips and ideas in her further quests and she was punching men out all over the place and gave NO thought to the "women are inferior at chess compared to men" line. She "rebuffed" the advances of Clif Sherwood, who later became a writer on chess for the LA Times! But old Cliffie boy went after Gabrielle and when that didn't work out, he murdered her! (Norman Whitaker wasn't the only bad guy.)

The whole book is totally satisfactory, well done, and as mentioned in the first paragraph, John Blackstone also contributed to this one by finding some lost games of this event as Johnny had lived in LA for years. In fact John is a chess games' database sleuth and we expect to have more game databases from him in the near future. He and I are working on one right now. He did the recent one of Hermann Helms games column for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. That CD is temporarily reduced in price to $27.96 (regularly $34.95). Shipping is $3.50 in US.

Last night I sent out my new openings catalog for 2011 and my bulk emailing program kept stopping leaving 93 senders unsent! My guess is, I approached the limit for this month (and people say using the internet is free (!?)). So if you didn't get the catalog last night or this morning, please let me know and I will get one to you via the non-bulk sending. There are a number of new things in it and some cool Discounts you won't want to miss. I am already hearing from people.

While I am taking Thursday off (imagine that) my shop at 1101 W. 4th St. in Davenport will be open and I will have a lot of chess sets on display and for sale from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. I have not done this in years. A good time to get your Christmas shopping done. Little stuff, big stuff. Cheap and expensive.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Black Friday sounds ominous like some sort of calamity, but it's just retails' way of saying, "We need a cash infusion at this time of the year." Sure, some businesses like Wal-Mart don't need that, but for the rest of us, it's a great way to meet mortgage payments, insurance costs, property tax payments, and added payroll (which I won't have). Not to mention inventory invoices.

So this coming Friday, instead of taking a day off to squander and wander, I will be at the 1101 W. 4th St. SHOP in Davenport from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. I hope to have some chess sets, books, and other chess doodads there on SPECIAL to open the floodgates.

Of course, being Thanksgiving the day before, there will be no Thursday evening workshop. Will spend some time with my son Nate's family and friends and maybe even play a little chess! Hope you get a chance to do that too.

Am just about finished with a new catalog, this one a little different format, and fewer pictures (to make for a faster download) and only on TWO SUBJECTS : Openings and Chess History plus a few odds and ends.

All of a sudden three items are finally starting to move and maybe it's the holiday season or they have just been discovered, I do not know. They are three TPi products:
a) Lasker & His Contemporaries #6;
b) The Center Counter Rising DVD and 205 page PDF; and
3) The King's Indian Attack downloadable PDF.

If you are in town this Friday, stop by. BTW, there is no tournament this coming weekend.
The NEW catalog will be released tomorrow or Wednesday with another slightly different ordering approach, so make sure you have ink cartridge replacements handy to print it out. I print out virtually everything I send to my customers and possible customers for quick reference.

What I found interesting about the Openings Pricelist/Catalog was TWO things:
1) Almost every opening is represented and some in inventory depth (Slav and Sicilian for example); and

2) Even though it is about 10 pages or so, it's lean. That is, there could be more titles listed but for those which aren't there is little customer interest. And there are a few titles I am currently out of and can't get in time to list with this catalog, so they will be added as a Supplement.

I've been mistaken about enclosing non-first class mailed catalogs in packages I send out, apparently I am not supposed to do this. Even though such items go 4th class, the post office wants their 44 cents. So the only way I can get new promotional material to you is through PDF downloads (whereby the post office gets nothing, to their ultimate detriment) or through first class mailings.

I've started a new spreadsheet for doing first class mailings. The spreadsheet will serve as a database to make occasional first class mailings to buying customers, something you don't see much of these days. If I can get a printer and label making to cooperate, regular buyers will hear from me more often via mail (called Direct Response).

All the time and one was in a 3 hour phone conversation yesterday to Las Vegas while sipping a hot chocolate in Barnes & Noble. I hope to tell you more about it in 2012. Designed to:
1) Help under 2000 rated players; and
2) Help those rated over 2000 to 2400.

But they are TWO different objects. Let's see what happens. This fellow could use the $$$ and I can use the Action, so stay tuned.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Most of us know that next week is Thanksgiving in the US and I think also in Canada.

Everyone pushes for Greeting cards, presents, and best behavior for the upcoming Christmas and Holiday Season but I want to offer something to my customers, and soon-to-be customers a month before that, for Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow, at the Gentlemens Chess Club at 1101 W. 4th St., Davenport, IA 52801, I am having a HAT DAY tournament (wear some kind of funky hat!).

But I want to do more than that. I have someone interested in Leasing/Buying my building and I would like to find out whether there is any chess growth potential beyond the 12 PAID members I have. Maybe a couple FIDE events there next year, my chess shoppe, a place to play and congregate.

I am aware at this time the hours are a little funky because there is only one of me. I think I could triple membership, and all that in time.

Last night I gave my 7th workshop lecture and 2 people showed. It was on an opening this time, the Sicilian Sveshnikov. Not real encouraging to me since I put a lot of time in preparing it.

But Thanksgiving is coming up and that creates all sorts of reasons for people to do other things... at least that's what "everyone" is telling me. In the late 80s and 90s I was selling chess products at a big tournament, every year, at Thanksgiving. There would be 100-150 people there, in Milwaukee. I made it to like 12-14 events! People were glad to see me and purchase everything I brought, and this was before the internet. Thus, people were going out of their way to have a fun time at Thanksgiving and it ran, 4 days!!!

Maybe because all those guys (and a few gals) are older now, their priorities have changed, but all I am saying is that, "It's Thanksgiving" doesn't really explain anything.


The Entry Fee for tomorrow is $35, $30 if you are a GCC Member or wear a Funky Hat. But I am going to drop everything $10, for a ONE DAY EVENT, Saturday. So regular EF will be $25, or $20 if you are a GCC member or wear a Funky Hat.

In the past week I have gotten RSVPs about NOT coming, but not one about COMING, so it is pretty hard to PLAN anything (tables, chairs, boards, etc.)

So let's see if this makes ANY difference. Round 1 starts at 10 a.m. Nov. 19th. Game in 60. Let's bring down the house.

Tomorrow I will have some of my Opening Chess Books there for sale. At present I am working on a NEW catalog.

See ya there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Probably I watch 85-90% of all the DVDs on chess which I receive so I can properly evaluate them. Once in a while I will forego the "pleasure" of doing that if, for example, a Grivas DVD is sent because he READS from his notes! Why not just put them on a PDF and send out? No personality, and even the content isn't interesting. I can't seem to find others who will agree with that sentiment, online. Maybe they are afraid ChessBase will quit sending them review copies! Offline they DO agree with me.

In some sense that is changing because now we have to Download the DVDs from Germany which means, at least to me, burning them to a DVD to watch them because storing them on a hard drive is going to use up space very fast. In fact, I don't know of anyone who stores CB DVDs on their hard drive. I'm sure there are some.

At any rate, I was online for a bit tonight looking for "The Baltimore Bullet," one of my favorite "pool playing" movies. I have it in VHS, but can't remember when I last watched anything on my TV. I see it is available as a Region 2 (Japan, Europe, etc.) I looked to see what one had to do to watch a Region (Zone) 2 movie. Good grief. Special cables, a laptop which eventually will get stuck on that particular zone, etc. The movie was good enough for VHS, as was the "Fourth Protocol," but not good enough to get a Region 1 label. Then there is the "Jigsaw Man" with Michael Caine and Lawrence Olivier. Not available in Region 1 either.

But, as far as I can tell, the ChessBase DVDs play on all Windows machines, but not Macs! Lots of people have Macs these days, ask their competitors: Dell, Asus, Acer, Lenovo... and even wily but confused HP. But CB refuses to do programming for the Mac. In fact, CB does a lot of strange things. However, in order to save postage CB will be sending all DVDs via the internet now. That doesn't sound like a very quick method of sending unless somehow they have just compressed the daylights out of it!

The Good Thing!?
But here's the good thing about DVDs. Like anything else, you can watch them over and over. Unlike other things and Regions, to get better and better you probably will enjoy watching them again and again, esp. if you are selective in what you want to see, and you can easily do that. That's a biggie.

Recently, in Chess Gazette 159 I recommended the 3 series set by Viktor Bologan of his famous Sicilian DVDs, and I still do. If YOU didn't get one of my DVD catalogs, send a request and I will fire one off to you. In the meantime I will be working on getting the numbers up at the HAT tournament this weekend at the Gentlemens Chess Club. And a USED booklist, and a Catalog.

So keep sending those cards, letters, and orders in to keep me in the mood.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Well, we do it when we have faster access to good DSL speed. That's one reason, another is it takes all day to get it done and I want to send it before going to bed!

Veteran writer, author, and chess historian John S. Hilbert has graced several pages with his great review of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle CD and accompanying story. In return for that favor I have listed a batch of Hilbert chess books which we should be getting soon. I love mutual back scratching but it isn't always easy to find that in the chess business. Everyone is trying to hang on to their customers with a clenched fist. I don't think that works. People want content as well as FREE!

Page 4 is for chess futurists and what are some of the possibilities at Thinkers' Press.

Later pages give more details on new publications.

Lastly, a nice sample of the output of Mr. Mordecai Morgan is offered on the "Previously Owned" pages, or an excerpt from List #3 from the Hong Kong Collection.

If you don't have something from me by Wednesday morning, and you want CG 160, write and I will send you a copy. Will need your name and email address, or course.

G'nite Gadies and Lentlemen!

Monday, November 14, 2011


These days TESTING is required to be even a local TD, at least every 3 years I was told.

The test questions can be quite tricky. You only need 80% correct to pass, but it is not necessarily an easy 80%.

I am reading the 5th edition USCF Rulebook which is monstrously large... 370 pages.

There's already been a slew of changes or additions which came AFTER the 5th edition. I haven't read those yet and probably won't. Hopefully, they are for the MORE advanced tests!

In general the authors Tim Just and Daniel Burg have done an amazing job if they aren't in the bughouse by now. Constantly keeping track of "claimant" and "opponent" must've been a daunting task and I wouldn't want to see their original EDITS!

The index probably has most of the information (for looking something up) but often only ONE word is used to describe a situation. If it is a problem in pairings don't look for "troubleshooting" or "problems," you won't find those, you better go to Pairings and then go through nearly three columns of indented subheads! There are many examples of this.

Speaking of Subheads, wow! Whoever did the typography for this book has absolutely NO imagination. The MAIN heads and variations are in bold, which is OK, but when it comes to indexing, nothing. Here's the DEAL with indexing a book like this and even computer manuals (which also often do a lousy job): make sure your READER can find what he or she is looking for. If you have to twist your arm or your pen a little more, so be it. For example, FORFEIT. The index has "double" and "non-appearance." Okay, that's fine and true. But then there are "reporting forfeits," "writing the info on a WALL CHART," or "on PAIRING CARDS." That's twice as many entries as formerly and probably there could be several more. The indexer has to be a TYPE of mind-reader. This is one of the big failings of computer manuals too--if you aren't thinking o the exact word the author is, you waste a lot of time trying to figure out what word (if any) the author used to describe a particular item/issue.

There are professional indexers and I suspect they are of varying degrees of competency, like anything else. The design/layout programs CAN do some of this work IF your brain can keep track of ALL the possibilities, and one will reach a point where it most likely can't. When I created the 20 page index for Purdy's My Search for Chess Perfection, I couldn't be more happy than when it was completed! Ideally it's good to do an index outline.

There are extremely FEW illustrations in the book, which makes reading incredibly tiring.

A few rule things are not what they USED to be, so you have to read carefully and understand slowly because the questions can be tricky, or, in my opinion, "incomplete." For example, annoying or harassing an opponent; there are various penalties and remedies. In one instance it was stated that White kept offering Black a draw. What is "kept?" I think most of us would say, "repeatedly and not just 2-3 times but many, many times." The Director gets called in and rules that White is a ninny. (I would have warned him and then forfeited his ass if he kept it up.) Then White APPEALS the Director's decision!! (Stall tactic.) I realize that in the past (maybe still) there were directors who took NO account of extraneous situations and made dumb rulings, but the director should be able to say, "Look bozo, I warned you not once but twice about annoying your opponent. If he thinks the situation merits a draw, let him offer it to you. In the meantime, You are fired!"

It's precisely because of people who are late, don't show, rude, have improper equipment, don't understand the basic laws, play with their pieces, etc. that books like this are so fat! There is not even a place where the authors say, "All things being equal," or "Common sense dictates..." because there are, unfortunately, a lot of people out there with NO common sense. They are, bluntly, pains in the asses. They should be banned from civilization, not just tournament rooms. Some of them are the higher-rated players who are there for the money/prestige only and will go for ANY edge they can get. (See next paragraph.)

Mr. Coolio
In 1988 I played in the US Open in Boston. EVERY set on the 100 tables were of the standard club variety. In the rulebook it states that organizers have the right to do this. But my opponent, a well-known master, took it upon himself to dump a bunch of broken wooden pieces onto the board and then ask, "Is it OK if we use my set?" He also had the white pieces (he doesn't even get choice of equipment). He was a total ass. Being outrated and not wanting to cause a scene (my girlfriend was there), I said it was OK though I was burning with fury inside. He got crushed in under 30 moves and I loved every minute of it. Sometimes you can push people too far. Years later, on the other side of the country, he tried his intimidation stuff on a different subject with me, that time he didn't get away with it.

If this rule book was put into a Graphic Comic book format, it would be 10X easier to understand and a visual aid is worth a ton. As much as I admire the work the authors have done to get this book out, it will create migraines faster than dealing with cheapskates!


PS: There are many who read this blog, as I've mentioned before, and who are not registered. When someone makes a comment, especially a comment that is totally in error because of lack of information, or they can't read, it isn't easy to respond to them because they have no email address listed. I suspect some do that on purpose because they like to LET fly with some brain dead remark and KNOW you can't reply and show them the places where their "thinking" was ...

I read CNN online a lot and I am always astounded (no more) about the replies to an article they get. Often there are comments with absolutely NOTHING to back their assertion. I really do hope these people do not vote for anything or body or we are really in trouble next year. When Steve Jobs passed away, it seemed like everyone who didn't know him in any way, and who hated Apple, wrote in. Incendiary, lunatic comments. Hoping Apple fails. This company in the US employs tens of thousands of people and these mental midgets are hoping it fails!? They missed the bus and hope everyone else does too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


To make sure EVERYONE has gotten the latest Thinkers' Press inc. catalog I shrunk it 25% (so they would get to you faster).

I almost fell for another ploy whereby they would "work" with my bulk email provider and "guarantee" to send out my PDFs so they wouldn't get stuck in your Spam filter. Think about it for a second--is there an easier way for Amazon to collect additional names for their already huge list! And the cool part? They charge ME for giving them this info.

Anyway, the new catalog is on its way and hopefully faster getting to you.

Don't overlook the BONUSES either.


Friday, November 11, 2011


You should see the lineup of what it is like to suck air in other subjects! No joke.

First, let me say that what I am about to list does not mean that there aren't books in these areas which aren't good, probably some of them are. But they lack a couple features: marketability (an audience to target) and a reason to exist. By "reason" I mean other than a University Press cranking out stuff which hires editors, printers, proofers, designers... all people I love in those professions, but for which an audience of any valuable size is non existent. In other words, trees are suffering and so is the environment because of the plenitude of books on stuff few care about. These should be done (if at all, and I would vote thumbs down on 80% of them) in small press private quantities instead of enveloping warehouses and waiting for a landfill burial.

Some are reasonably priced (?), some are in "this will never sell" hardcover.

African-American Studies (job creation, not over national guilt)
History pre 20th century (beating subjects like Lincoln, Jim Crow, etc. into the ground, more books on the Civil War than those who died IN the Civil War!)
Ancient and Classical Studies, Anthropology (you mean all the "old stuff" is really bad?)
Architecture and Art and Graphic Design (the branch of unreality when it comes to making dollars but wanting others to pay for their excesses)
Asian studies (written mostly by non-Asians!)
Books on Books and Map Making (wow, lots of losers here too)
Classical Music and Opera (lots of time on their hands writing instead of performing)
Cookbooks (and yet there are big collectors of these)
Cultural Studies (Colleges love this stuff since you don't have to prove anything)
Economics and Business History (lots of incorrect second-guessers)
Fiction & Poetry (probably the BIGGEST losers on the list... everyone has a story... but not everyone can tell one well)
Film, Television & Theater (another cultural and artistic boondoggle, do not publish these)
Judaica (lots published but the buyers are too cheap? sort of like poetry)
Latin American Studies (the people about whom these are written have no money, so it must go mostly to professors (who often get them free)... Latin American chess books aren't very popular either)
Law (one might expect this)
Literary Studies and Memoirs... probably on a par with fiction (novels). Everyone has an opinion but few want to read others'.
Mathematics and Physics. These often sell well (if they aren't given away) but the quantities printed are often over the top.
Medieval and Renaissance. A time past and missed. Opinions and wishful thinking.
Military History. A major yawner but lots of aficionados.
Philosophy. Isn't this just a scientific sounding name for "opinion?"
Photography. Kept Kodak alive, for a while. Now with digital they are in trouble. Another great art form but way too many.
Political Science. You can tell can't you, in advance, what the losers will be because they have the biggest sections in the stores, the slowest sales, and absolutely no reason for that shelf space. Stuff like this didn't help Borders. Maybe argumentation doesn't sell.
Popular music. Lots of musicians out there. In fact in any "craft" where there are a lot of people employed (gainfully, or otherwise, you can expect to see books--except when it comes to blue collar labor because those guys/gals read books about OTHER stuff!)
Psychology. Well, no surprise here. Statistics coupled with opinions and theories.
Science and Natural History.
Social Science.
Sports and Games. Some of this sells but often are just photographs and stats.
Technology and Computer Science. The "older" it is, the less well it does.
Theology and Religion.
Womens Studies. Worth studying, not so sure about writing about.

Few books have been remaindered on:
Antiques and Collectibles (ah, making money off of old stuff)
Australian and the Pacific (a mystery to me)
Chess (Questionable, all the remainders are mostly from Cardoza!) Smaller printings?
Children (I think publishers are holding back because there are WAAAY too many of these)
Comics and Graphic Novels (lots of under 40s still buying this stuff)
Dance (my suspicion? few are actually written, but then there is always the merengue!)
Medicine.... Always expensive... Jury is still out.
Middle East
Occult and New Age. No accounting for taste I guess.
Pop culture and current affairs. The "People" magazine crowd.

Of course there are subjects I didn't mention because the sample size is not easy to determine. But if you've been to many book shows, or remainder shows, and I have, the "losers" mentioned above are in HUGE supply and when you look through them, some of them are quite good, but for one reason or another, price, quantity, audience, marketing... they just didn't do that well EXCEPT for publishers who deliberately overprint and try to recoup their expenses from reselling remainders.

And by the way, just because it has sex in the title doesn't make it a best-seller. When I was in San Francisco many years ago, there was a store whose name I can't recall but they had a big section on gay and lesbian stuff. But, NO ONE was in there reading, buying, gawking, or paying any attention to those books and this was SF!! When it comes to rallies and complaining they show up, but when it comes to spending cash, that's a different story.

Properly done, marketing can change minds but it can't change real unadulterated facts.