Monday, October 31, 2011


Years ago I accepted the notion that every cloud has a silver-lining. The problem for many of us is to find the silver lining. Sometimes it is easy, other times it takes more time than hoped for.

The Red Wing event in Minnesota July 30 and the Chess TNT event Oct. 21-23 are cases in point. The Gentlemens Chess Club keeps growing, picking up Earl Zismer from Dubuque, and Tony Britton (today) from Davenport. That's 9 members so far. I've extended the sign up to Nov. 15th for $50, then it goes to $100. There will be reasons for you to join, trust me, even if you are from out of town.

I did hear what a few wrote about the first two mentioned events, but understanding what they said can be difficult. Why? Because sometimes people have a feeling but the way they express it doesn't express it well--that is, it is too easy to shoot holes IN the message without touching the messenger! We see this in real life all the time. Pardon me if any ladies are reading this, but it's like when your wife or girlfriend says something to you and it doesn't make sense based on something ELSE she has told you. Once I was told, "You just don't have all the facts!" I replied, naturally, "Well why haven't you told me ALL the facts?" Well, chess guys do it too.

Red Wing and TNT were experiments. Those who came to either or both showed various degrees of success and enjoyment, but in the end, I would say most had a pretty good time (almost everyone personally told me they had a good time at the TNT). The ones who didn't come, for whatever reason, missed out on understanding a lot of things about themselves as chessplayers and probably as human beings too.

Finishing up on the King's Gambit Tournament for Abbazia 1912 I am finally starting to go through the scoresheets of those who played. My eyes popped open! Myself having to play in two rounds at the TNT event they popped open again! This is all valuable, consulting information. Most TDs don't have it because they won't wade through the paper--just get the results to the USCF for rating purposes. Most players do not even put their games into a database when they are finished (some don't know how, that is also a problem). I know why that is so in some instances. IM Martin backed me up on many assertions either in training he offered or things he observed.

Some of these points will be touched upon when Abbazia 1912 is published, for both events. Most of them will be held back by me to make any future events more successful (but it will need cooperation by attendees for proof). Amazingly, some of these points are purely "psychological." Yes, this can be read from the evidence or "on site" inspection.

Now I am more interested than ever to produce To The Point, The High Noon of Chess. The train has come in, who is getting off of it and why? Do those who get off the train succeed (in the movie they didn't)?

Shortly I will be producing a small Pizza Pak size offer for $9.95 for those who think they might be interested in the bigger promotion. I am still gathering materials, so an announcement will be made here. In the meantime I better get working on a Holiday catalog.

PS: By the way, the Petrosian the Punisher book has gone to the printer. 75 games, 55 pages. Billed as one of the hardest persons in the world to beat at chess in his day; he only lived for 55 years! There is one quote I really liked and it came from Spassky about Petrosian, in effect: Take your eyes off the ball at your own peril because then Petrosian starts playing like Tal! In this book you will see many examples of Petrosian playing like Tal. Also, I added the 22 games Petrosian and Botvinnik played against each other in 1963 (with a few notes). Thanks to Bob Woodworth for helping me fill in some holes. Price is $15.95 unless you are getting it FREE as part of the Sep.-Oct. promotion (if you have spent $100 or more for those two months by the end of today, you are entitled to get a FREE copy).

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Petrosian the Punisher will probably go to the printer on Sunday. $15.95 for more pages (52 or more) and more games (70+). FREE to those who purchased at least $100 worth of "stuff" from G&L CHESS and/or Thinkers/ Press in Sept.-Oct. For Npv.-Dec. we go back to the $12.95 price and LARSEN THE HAMMER.

Abbazia 1912 the King's Gambit Tournament is 95% finished. I need to find the games from Red Wing to go through to see what will be added. $30.00 or $15 to those who were in Red Wing and paid to register. Should be less than 100 pages. About 80-90 games. Spielmann won it. Richard Reti,a youth, was also in it and did well. The "infamous: Muzio Gambit won more games than you might think.

King's Indian Attack from SCORE + additional annotated games played by A player Mark Flowers against a KIA devotee. Also articles by IM Andrew Martin. $7.95. About 25 PDF style pages.

Friday, October 28, 2011


If you buy a copy of Fritz13 from G&L CHESS (a subsidiary of Thinkers' Press, inc.), send me your opinions on the new Fritzie. If you try out their new feature, "Let's Check" let me know what you think of that too.

As you know from past offerings I seldom offered much to say about analysis or playing programs because I think it really depends on the person using them. I do not play chess with them and only use them for analysis when I do use them.

The retail is $64.95. The G&L price is $59.95 + $2 for shipping in the USA. If you hold a Gold Card for 2011 the price is $54.95 + $2 for USA shipping. Both will go to you via First Class MAIL.

One feature you might like, very much, is that you get 6 months of Premium membership at which entitles you to watch/listen to special ChessBase programs. Another feature is "ten hours" of video training with grandmasters such as Daniel King (and others).


PS: Those who have Fritz13 backordered will be shipped to today, this Friday. Thank you for your purchase gentlemen and your support of endeavors from Thinkers' Press.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


This morning I took IM Andrew Martin to Chicago's O'Hare airport, British Airways, to head back to London's Heathrow.
Before he left my house he bought a book..... What was it (He actually bought two, the first one was "The Joy of Chess" and he said it was as good I said it was!)?... It was a book I have championed many times... he has the first edition... but he wanted the cleaned up edition, the fat one, the one with the index, and the one he recommended to a player who came to the TNT event... it was a Purdy book:

My Search for Chess Perfection
He wanted the algebraic edition. He was going to read it on the way back to England. Several times I heard him say that every "student" player who isn't already strong should read this book, and he was going to recommend it to others such as one person who bought lessons from him after the TNT event.

On the way to Chicago we talked about getting more members for the Gentlemens Chess Club even though Earl Zismer, an attendee, joined this past weekend! The idea was a good one and I am going to try it. All the work will be done by me but should it come off, I will pass it on to you as a method for increasing club attendance anywhere. The difference, I will be asking these people to PAY to join. Maybe "Gentlemens" should have nationwide chapters so you can sell them our nice nice t-shirts. Those nice people, the Fortunes, bought one for the designer of the original logo, Bill Hannan! Thanks Barbie and Jon.

Books On The List
Whenever Andrew comes for a week's stay he likes to go through my library and pick out titles to read or to scan through (john reading, breakfast, etc.). This time was no different. Here's what he was looking at or reading besides the above Purdy book:
1. Chess Catechism by Larry Evans. (He really liked this one.)
2. Attacking with 1.e4 by John Emms. (He even recommended to a student!)
3. How to Beat 1.d4 by Jim Rizzitano. (Also something I was reading.)
4. How to Play Against 1 d4 by Richard Palliser. (He mentioned seeing some of his own stuff in that book!)
5. Neil McDonald's book on the French, "Play Against 1.e4," or something like that.

And while he was here, and for a change we weren't doing a DVD, he wrote on the Ruy Lopez for the next issue of SCORE... morning and afternoon and he said it was more detailed and informational than even previous writings for SCORE! If you haven't subscribed, it's $20 to the end of this month. 16 fat issues. We also discussed the issue to follow and it will probably be The Stonewall!

In the between times we would go out to eat, we saw a movie (Johnny English Remade), and discuss chess projects. One I would like you to think about is subscribing to the British Chess Magazine. I will tell you why and what you will get when I have the details worked out. You'll get something, if this goes through, NO ONE else is getting. That's what makes Thinkers' Press different from everyone else.

We had a great time and the plans for next year are colossal and I will tell you more later. The experiment wasn't a flop, but perhaps my way of presenting it was. Always room for error. Lots of "upsets." I thought he lectures before each round were amazing and I didn't even make enough to pay myself to write that! I used what I heard in round 3 on the Sicilian Najdorf 6.Bg5 to win a game in 22 moves--and I hadn't played this before nor studied for it (I didn't even think I would be playing.) Mark Flowers, rated 1801, beat two players rated over 1900! Mark Moomey won the under 1600 prize and he was on a thrill ride as he said he had never won anything before! Mark Flowers won the "Above 1600" prize for his great score.

On Sunday Jon Fortune offered a draw to Andrew and Andrew took it!!! (Mr. Martin was hurting.) In the Blitz event Earl Zismer, from Dubuque, won! Congrats guys. Andrew was the TD for that event.

As always, you can contact me at:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I am not Steve Jobs, no one is. But I have had successes and failures too. Most of the time I tried harder than my colleagues and I am at it again, this time with the help of Dr. Tom Michlowski. You will find out more in due time, as for now, I need a rest. Thursday I take Andrew Martin to the O'Hare airport.

Eschewing the invention idea I had recently, and a chance to talk to a friend, and electronics engineer, on the way back from Chicago, I intend to get some rest until Friday. A prototype will be made for people who have a certain chess passion which might be described as "over the top." More later.

Finishing up Abbazia 1912 is next on the menu, a book on the state of the art of the King's Gambit in 1912. Then SCORE, due in 2 weeks I think, which is a detailed article on the Ruy Lopez and after that issue comes an article on the Stonewall!!! (I think.)

There should be some more work on the new web site and bookkeeping as well as a Holiday Catalog. If this sounds more than anyone can handle, you are probably right, but, give me a shot.

In the meantime, I urge you to get Jim Rizzitano's How to Beat 1.d4. I intend to restock the book. It is loaded with goodies and the To The Point High Noon Pak will have more including a color photo of Jim drawing Mikhail Tal!!! I forgot to mention that this has a completely satisfied, money back guarantee too, just $9.95.

And last but not least, work will begin on Purdy issue #4. I know the fans are looking forward to that. And, I love working on it.

A rubber derci for now:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Andrew spent hours and hours today working on the next installment of SCORE... this time it is the Ruy Lopez with 5 different black systems, at the elevated 2700 level. He even brings in the much loved/berated Berlin Wall to show you what true drudgery is!

While he was plowing away and furrowing his brow, I moved all the books from the shop to my office to organize them for the next catalog to be thrust upon the G&L CHESS public.

Then we retired to a health food store this afternoon. In the morning we had breakfast at Panera Bread. What do we do during these times? Easy enough to say, not easy to solve. We each offer thoughts and theories about "how to improve" and invariably it gets back to ONE thing. Are you willing to do the work? Unfortunately our discussions often end with, "Too many want a lot for nothing" or they won't do much anything at all. They WANT the SECRET!!

Myself I can remember spending a whole weekend studying some system for a potential chess club opponent on the coming Tuesday night and I knew that some of them were doing the same thing for me. I wanted that 2000 rating and to keep it. They wanted to get there too and it was MY job to see they did it by beating someone else. There was pride in achievement and in knowing one could do more if one was willing. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, I recall one person, a good friend, who wanted the achievement too much... so much so he was willing to cheat to get it.

Someone once said, "You can't cheat at chess, it is so one on one." Well, you can cheat at chess, and one way goes like this: If you have a friend and confident you trust, he can relay what you've told him to your upcoming opponent. Then that upcoming opponent has to fall in with it... and he did. (in other words my "friend" wanted me to lose so he could surpass my rating). I recall this one episode where I was Black and it seemed like my opponent could "read" my mind. I really, really, had to bear down. The game was one of the longest I ever had against this opponent, and I finally won, but I was exhausted. My opponent was an A player to begin with, probably about 1950, but to also be armed with info about what I intended to play, I am sure that gave him another 100 rating points if not more.

While he did want to beat me, it had seldom happened, and he acted like my winning against him was some kind of mortal sin. So it kept me on my toes. In chess there is more psychology than you might think, and keeping on my toes provided that edge. Their VERY behavior provided impetus for me to improve at THEIR expense.

When it comes to improvement today I sense a lot of chess players would love to get better through osmosis, just by having a sufficient chess library surround themselves but spend little time actually accessing it. This is one reason I will be strongly promoting To The Point in the near future. To tell the truth I've been surprised by the positive outlook on this venture. I will be working on a Package Promo Kit to send out for $9.95. If you want to get one it will contain AT LEAST a CD and a Newsletter and perhaps some other things I am trying to round up, based somewhat on a High Noon type theme. If you are interested, I am taking advance orders for this promo pak starting anytime this week. I should have something available before Christmas. More details will follow.

In the meantime, I am going over my weekend results for the sales at Chess TNT while Andrew plays some chess on ICC, one of his favorite activities and one I never indulge in.


Saturday, October 22, 2011


Ten people showed not counting the TD and houseman.
There were some knock down and drag out battles.
The pre round lectures were great and everyone said they learned a lot.

One of the most fun things was when the game was over the players would retire to the back room and Andrew Martin would go over their game with them, often punctuating their openings with, "What if...?" and showing many possibilities and things missed.

Dale Suilmann said the different openings were an eye opener in what they represented and how they were explained--and the true value of knowing main lines. Gorgeous examples including an English 1.c4 e5 where Korchnoi jumped out at the gate, as Black, and overwhelmed Greg Serper by seeing even deeper in a seriously complicated battle.

Mr. Mark Flowers will take home the prize for the above 1600 group at 3-1 and Mr. Mark Moomey will take the under 1600 prize for his 2-2 score.

The simultaneous starts tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. with 8 or so players finding out what a clock simul is all about.

The Saturday evening meal, which is a tradition, was held at Mo Brady's, a very nice steakhouse though yours truly and Mark Flowers had meat loaf (it was great). Also in attendance was Andrew Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Jon Fortune (great hosts), Dale Suilmann, Ed Reedy and Ron Deike.

I had already decided there would be no more Chess TNTs due to a lot of factors, not the least being those who said they were coming and did not show.

In the meantime Tom Gaul was there and Jon Fortune showed presenting the Gentlemens Chess Club with a nice framed portrait of Bobby Fischer done by Bill Hannan from 2000 I believe. Also a couple nice Portland t-shirts, and a Portland commemorative vinyl board for GCC presented by Barb and Jon Fortune.

John Hartmann played the first 2 rounds and was 2-0 when he had to leave for his grandmothers' 80th birthday party celebration.

Others in attendance: Roger Stanfield, Earl Zismer, and Ed Reedy. All looking dapper. And several GCC t-shirts were handed out.

Now I am hitting the sack. We had a great time and boy am I tired.
Those who didn't come really missed out on an eye-opening experience even they would have appreciated had they come.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


There are people who go to another local chess club who live close to me, and others who don't live much further away and yet they won't be at the CHESS TNT event. None have offered a reason, nor are they required to. But one principle of IM Andrew Martin's has always been, and I concur, "You scratch my back and I will scratch yours."

Then again you hear others use that well worn and hackneyed expression, "I will come next time!" Really?

Jon is a chiropractic researcher and he and wife Barbie live in Oregon. They came to the chess event last year here and today I find they are coming again to the CHESS TNT event. Yahoo! Jon never promised me he would come, didn't indicate he would come, he just told me, "We are coming." I believe him. I met him and Barbie years ago at a University of Wisconsin Chess Camp. Great people then, great people now... just like those who are coming. They are my regular regulars. BTW, I do realize that sometimes there are exceptions. This Blog is about TRUST (keeping your word), not exceptions.

That one of the Biggest concerns customers have is Trust and the Other is Sincerity. However, it is not always a two-way street. Let's look at Wal-Mart as an example. They have wrecked a lot of businesses over the years by making a promise that if you don't like something you bought at Wal-Mart you can bring it back for a refund. No hassle. In general, that's true. It's a promise they made and EVERYONE wants them to hold to it. But there is no similar promise on the customer's part that if Wal-Mart makes an error in the customer's favor, that the customer will do the right thing by Wal-Mart (I get around this headache with Wal-Mart by not buying ANYTHING from them, for several years now). It can be blown off with"They already have plenty of money!" The question really is: Is it right or wrong to screw someone over even if they are a big corporation?

Sure, Wal-Mart will build "mistakes" into their pricing, but wouldn't it be great if they didn't have to? Smaller companies can't do that very easily because if they raise a price on something by a quarter a Neighborhood Watch person will report them to the Better Business Bureau and the local Police Station!! I know people who know the price of something better than the ones who stock the shelves and put the price tags out.

People want businesses to be sincere and trustworthy... that's a known fact. People who know me know that when I say X I mean X. Not sort of X, not Y, or maybe X, but X. Barring an accident and the usual acts of God, I will be there Fri-Sat-Sun. I pick up Andrew tomorrow. I know people who run LARGE events and they don't put themselves into the position of hearing lies, they assign someone else to listen to them.

Some find it hard to say "no," or "let me genuinely think about it!" Instead, they lie. Someone even told me the other day she used to use her husband as her excuse if she didn't want to do something though in reality she said he could've cared less. I hear this all the time in my business too, only in this case, "I need to ask my wife," or "My wife blah blah blah..." In these cases I have to go by past track records for veracity, most of them do not stand up. Often I know things that the person I have had to talk to doesn't know I know. Look at the one million letters to Steve Jobs on the Apple website. He died. I thought he was great. But I know people who would cuss him out, and the Apple products but now, they wished he was alive and living next door to him. When Michael Dell went to his funeral that was a real shocker since Dell had said in 1997 that if he was running Apple he would sell it off and give the money back to its shareholders! Now he says, 14 years later, he was mis-stated!!! It's already in the ether Mike.

Sometimes I am considered Irascible... Hard to Believe, I know!
Recently someone asked me if I wanted to do ABC. I said, "No," meaning, "Not really." When he asked "Why" I gave a direct answer, "Because I don't want to." Meaning, "You are starting your stuff again with me and that ruins the experience. So I am not willing to go through that again." Thus, my answer has an extension, but the direct "Because I don't want to" is succinct, and really hard to misinterpret. In fact, if it can be misinterpreted, you should be talking with someone else.

Why Do We Lie?
Everyone does to some degree. As Robert Ringer writes, we are Basically Honest or Basically Dishonest, but everyone lies in some form and maybe only infrequently, and if they don't think they do, that's a lie. For example: I remember someone asking me how she looked in something. I thought she looked awful. She might have even known it. I didn't want to hurt her feelings, cause a row, etc. so I said, "I think you look fine!" Which, all things considered, she did. We had a good time, no milk was spilt, but I wasn't 100% truthful, just basically truthful.
Another time, again I was asked the same question, by someone else, about her clothes. I was in a funky, ornery mood, and this time I said, "It looks like a nightmare," which, I thought it did, even though it wasn't the end of the world. I never heard the end of it. A lot of mileage out of one comment. I wish I hadn't said it at all. Later she used the "nightmare" line to get attention from others. So maybe it wasn't a total loss.

What it all comes down to is expectations and disappointments when one believes something someone says or writes and then they reneg. Ouch. And it is even worse when they make up an excuse to go along with it which is only 50% true. All of a sudden the conversation has gone from disappointment to anger, even if it is only mentally.

I remember, many moons ago, I would get an email from someone asking me to set aside several books, and I would. I would send a followup asking the pertinent question "When do you want me to ship these and pay for them?" No answer, ever. This went on several times. Probably three. I gave up on him but in the meantime those books were OUT of sales commission to others because I really (kinda hopeful) believed this dude. Fail!

Then, out of the blue, I get a huge order from this same guy. Paid for and where to ship. Of course none of the books he wanted were ones I had set aside previously. No explanation was given as to why he acted like he worked for the CIA. He has since gone back into hiding. My secret? No book reservations for him, ever again, unless I've already been paid.

Writing a Book for Would Be Entrepreneurs
For the nth time last night I thought about writing a chapter for such a book title. But I had too many other things to do and sales comes first. To be  a true entrepreneur you have to love working for yourself MORE than working for ANYone else.

But, I have also come to believe that even people who read books, lots of them, don't necessarily believe what is in them because that would require movement. Chess is not an exception. When it comes to business most people who start one just go ahead and plunge in with no plan at all. My plan was limited when I started but I did carry one around in my head and I thought about it a lot. It helped that I was doing some of "it" when I had another job. When the fateful day started, I was pretty jacked.

Yet, over and over I see businesses failing for simple reasons and most of them have to do with attitude and money:
1) Attitude: It's my business and my hours will be when I feel like them.
2) Money: I know it is suggested that I have lots of dollars to support me if I have a downturn. I'll worry about that IF it happens. (Believe me, it will always happen.)
I left out two biggies: Knowledge. Lots of people think (!) they know what it entails because they use themselves as a customer, a customer of one. Unless they are "insanely great" this is a pretty small population sample. Once you own your own business or start your own business you will find out what "hard work" really is.
Two, Assumptions. Goes back to a customer of one or knowing someone else, maybe a parent. I hear would be E-people say things that are so far out of whack I don't even want to know where they heard it in the first place (or if they made it up!). One is: "My place will be so cool I will probably have more customers than I can handle." Oh yeah, that one happens a lot. Maybe if you were KFC.

The Point?
I thank Jon for no promises, no mentions of maybe, and then just telling me he is coming... and I believe him. And I want to thank all the others who signed up and who are coming... you guys will always get first invitations to anything I do.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

USED LIST #2 out

Just distributed this List #2 this afternoon to those on the "Previously Owned" list.

Don't know for sure when List #3 will be available. There are still items to be had from List #1. If you like getting "older stuff" at often a less than new price, contact me.

I asked Franck Steenbekkers what he thought of issue #7 of SCORE. He wrote back: "It's excellent!!" He is from the Netherlands.

Hopefully in full PDF form in a day or two. $7.99.

The publication which I've touted, "To The Point" is getting a VERY decent reception! I might have finally hit the right nerve as this publication will tend to be an overall chess body massage! Still working on the packaging phase and the final details but people ARE sending their checks in!! I am rather excited about it myself and hope to put together an extensive brochure in the next week to CONVINCE others to sign up and part with their hard-earned. I see the possibility of a whole new breed of learners. So... as a friend recently said to me, "You are jacked!" Yes, I am.

Right now the unofficial votes for whether this event should be rated is about 50-50. Not exactly a mandate for either one. No comments at all from those who aren't attending.

That's all for today... many other projects in the works. Trying to figure out how to get a new chess catalog out. I have found that the Steve Jobs' approach seems to work best for me: Do what YOU (meaning me) think is best. If you put it out there for consensus nothing happens. Part of the reason is "personal." Everyone probably has an idea of what they like, but is it realistically feasible? Myself, I think it would be great to have a $150,000 boat (small yacht on a big lake) and a log cabin in the woods to get away from it all... but is it real or feasible? No way. No rich uncles. So then I can drop down to wanting a MacBook Pro. Feasible? Moreso, but probably not until 2012. So in the meantime, let's see if I can keep YOU happy with what is produced from TPi!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Am working on it. Probably won't be done until later tomorrow.

In the meantime, books still remain from the first list and only two people BUMPED into each other (wanted the same thing). It is uncanny how often it's the case that everyone seems to "skirt" around everyone else. I can't explain it.

I am annotating the last game. I really like how this is turning out. It will run about 30 or more letter-sized pages in the PDF. It's almost like a book on the KIA. And it contains TIPs, and a couple reprints from Andrew Martin and myself from the pages of The Chess Reports. In fact this will be called a Special Report on the King's Indian Attack from SCORE. It will be jam-packed. Last and certainly not least, I bought a small games collection which I annotated, of an 1800+ player who consistently met a 1700+ player (White side).

The commentary is ROBUST with ideas, clues, insights, and things to know about THIS opening and others. I have nicknamed his protagonist, A.P., for "auto-pilot" because he regurgitates, with small adjustments, the same kind of stuff you will often see when you are on the Black side facing White. I now understand this "system" a whole lot better myself.

Is there anything for White? You can count on it because even though White does lose some games it is mostly because of stereotypical play and an inability to think clearly or imaginatively on his own... something you will often see also from Colle players. But David Rudel is trying to straighten out THAT world.

Price? A small $7.99. Can be delivered almost like magic. Don't have the openings index done however, so it might be a couple days.

I am telling you straight up... there are tactics in everything and it helps the "randomness in your chess life because these SAME IDEAS are applicable to all openings when it comes to the middlegame and endgame. NOOOOO JOKING.

One other reason for getting it? The money will be used to pay for the authors of SCORE as I still do not yet have enough subscribers to make it work to the end (issues 10-16).

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Below is a comment I received from a JW (I have no idea who this is) concerning my "piece" the other day on what might be useful to get more people to come to an event such as the upcoming CHESS TNT gala next week (Oct. 21-22). As you no doubt noted, I did not comment on JW's because I want to see what people will think. But I do have one point to make:

"Whatever stance you take, try taking the opposite stance (Devil's Advocate) to see what you come up with." You might be surprised. That is, take your point of view, then melodramatically imagine someone will give you $1000 to instead offer an opposing point of view and see what you come up with to present.

This will show you the difficulty of dealing with the public. Periodically I think of writing (in a book) on such issues, but not for the time being. I'm concerned that should I say anything the "viewing" audience might say "See he doesn't really want to know!" That's not it at all. I want to know what EACH individual thinks or feels for themselves, not for everyone else because they really don't KNOW everyone else.

Here are JW's comments:

It is always hard to know why people don't come to anything, since you really don't know who they are - because well, they don't come. But here goes some notions:
1. Timing: The fall is a busy time. Schools are back in session, a lot of professional and business meetings are held, there are a lot of holiday and social events. Football for example has a major social component (tailgating and parties) and consumes 6-8 weekends.
2. Timing and a Limited Pool of Potential Attendees: There was already one event this year up in Red Wing, MN. For many people there is only so much time (not to mention money – but you ask not to involve cost as a primary factor) budgeted to chess. Even regulars at local tourneys may only play in a big state event occasionally and play at a national meeting every few years. Time (and money) for a training session is clearly finite – and perhaps that was all consumed already.
3. Format/Method: This is a new(er) way of doing things so it may be a hard sell just because of the newness of the concept. Steve L. makes some good points; having an expert like Andrew push you to analyze positions, pick a move, and defend your choices is really helpful. As a patzer, it is interesting that even better players like Steve L. (to whom I have lost badly) face many of the same problems - it suggests a universality of these concerns. Opening books have traditionally sold better than middlegame and endgame books, so an opening theme is not necessarily a weak point. Clearly people are interested in openings. But I can see why some players may not feel that this is time well spent at a weekend training event.
Hope this helps some.

I appreciate JW's input, but mostly it is about what JW thinks concerning others, not JW's self. That is the ONLY valid criteria, each person.

If I should take the opposing viewpoint, from MY experience, you would see, of course, completely different commentary, which, in most likelihood, would also make sense.

I invite those who have reasons for why THEY don't do something (or, do do something), to tell me.

This morning I was confirmed as a "friend on Facebook" for Anatoly Karpov, the 12th world chess champion. Undoubtedly this was a fake as I never asked to be his friend. I had the opportunity to once, but chose not to. My friends on FB are either family, or clients of Thinkers' Press inc or G&L CHESS. Some are business interests, but in general I refrain from those invites from people who have 750 friends and want to add me to their list! Why, what advantage is it to me, or them? What a huge waste of the finite time we have left.

I am getting feedback on this new chess idea I am promoting, and it is GOOD-GREAT feedback (means people are actually sending the money in). And I am working on the content, design, etc. to put together a promo-pak for $9.95 which can be sent any place mail can legitimately be received on this planet. The genuine article and the details will not be available until February 2012 most likely but the ball has begun rolling. The amount is small and you will have a strong idea of what the purpose is. It is affordable and most likely will be a bright experience for the day it arrives in your mail box.

It's great to be in the "saddle" once again of creation, harmony, and doing something engaging and useful and taking on a "theme." Unfortunately, I got news yesterday that a company who has been courting my business for the past year doesn't really engage in the kind of packaging I am looking for. Their brochure said they did packaging but apparently some other, non-defined, kind. So last night I spent more time looking and while I came up with a couple nifty ideas, a packager wasn't among them. Interestingly, there used to be a company in town called Warren Packaging and they are no longer around or merged and moved somewhere else. But I have more ideas and one is to contact the HQ of a local Pizza Chain named Happy Joes. The company started here, years ago, a mile from me, and he expanded around the Midwest and became a multi-millionaire. His food was the best, but, he was the ultimate cheapskate (i.e., his vendors couldn't make any money off of HIM!). In time, there were problems with various management, etc. and though his company is still successful, somebody definitely took their eye off of the ball--as sometimes happens. But, I will contact THEIR packager and see what I can get for this project.

As my friend Sarah said the other day, "When you show you are enthusiastic about a project, others become enthusiastic too!" There will be a referral program. I launched one, early in the year and it was without a doubt, a total FLOP! As I said a few Blogs ago, "failures are more common than successes."

Getting others engaged in a really FUN way is paramount, and as I have looked around the chess landscape, for years, almost NO ONE is doing that. Thus, many subscribers are inured, or used to dealing with mediocrity. If I can rise above mediocrity, perhaps that can change things? I hope so, but complacency and apathy are ingrained in most of us because we have "other stuff going on."

Leave your comments. If you give me your name and email address (addressed to bob@thinkerspressinc.) then I can respond in private. Who knows, we might become lifelong friends and not the drivel one see so much on Facebook.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Hello. I was reading your blog and noticed that only 10 people have registered for the TNT event so far, and that you would like input from the readers, even if we don’t have all the answers either. Here are some of my thoughts. 
The target audience for the event is: beginning chess players who don’t know their openings yet. Some of your marketing is directed to non-beginners who have already joined USCF. I don’t think it is necessary to require people to be a member of USCF to attend chess training. A non-rated tournament might attract more beginners. Dave Kuhns (from Minnesota) has had success organizing a team chess league without requiring USCF membership or rating any of the games. There is a lot of pressure in knowing that if you lose a game, you will also lose rating points. You could offer the option of playing non-rated games, and see if more people are willing to make a commitment to come.
Most of us know who Neil Diamond is. A lot of people may not know who Andrew Martin is. You could try writing a longer biography about our guest lecturer. He has his own chess academy. He has coached several teams. He has raised money for charities. He has prepared quite a few DVD training videos on chess. I recall seeing his name on a list at the BCF for winning a chess oscar prize, along with GMs Nigel Short, Mickey Adams and Luke McShane. This guy is incredibly talented and appreciated in England, but people in the midwestern USA may not realize that.
Then there is the travel involved. Davenport, Iowa may be a bit far for some people. I think it will be at least a 6½ hour drive for me. By plane, it would cost $370.00, and there aren’t many flights during the day from which to choose. I am able to take leave from work on Friday, and am hoping I will get an early enough start back on Sunday so that I can avoid driving in the dark and fog on the way back. Other people may not be able to get the time off work to travel. Maybe if you dropped the requirement to join USCF and play rated games, you could get a few more participants who live in the Davenport area.
I think you are fairly close to the Rock Island Army Arsenal. You could call their public affairs office and offer a small military discount and free autographs to their personnel to get a few more participants. I looked up their number recently. I think it was xxxx.
Another marketing technique is to write a detailed schedule, to appeal to people who feel a need to see a schedule. Your flyer was very colorful, but I don’t think it included a detailed schedule. I am guessing it might look something like this:

Friday, Oct 21. 
1900 to 2000. Registration and check-in. Bob Long.
2000 to 2045. Lecture on the Ruy Lopez by IM Andrew Martin.
2100 to 2300. Round 1 using the Ruy Lopez opening. Registered participants.

Saturday, Oct 22. 
0900 to 0945. Lecture on the Queen’s Gambit Declined (QGD) opening. IM Andrew Martin.
1000 to 1200. Round 2 using the QGD opening. Registered participants.
1200 to 1330. Lunch. (on your own)
1330 to 1415. Lecture on the Sicilian, Najdorf opening. IM Andrew Martin.
1430 to 1630. Round 3 using the Najdorf. Registered participants.
1630 to 1730. Admin announcements and chance to visit G&L sales table and review games. Bob Long.
1730 to 1930. Dinner. (Recom-mended restaurant with table reservations for those who RSVP by end of check-in on Friday; otherwise, on your own.)
1930 to 2015. Lecture on the English opening with 1.c4 e5. IM Andrew Martin.
2015 to 2215. Round 4 using the English opening. Registered participants.
2215 to 2300. Admin announcements, awards, thank-yous. Bob Long.

Sunday, Oct 23.
0800 to 0845. Register and set-up for Simul event. Bob Long.
0900 to 1300. Simultaneous chess exhibition. Registered participants play IM Andrew Martin.
1330. Depart for home station.

*I guessed at the times. I don’t know exactly what G60 means. Does it mean each player gets 60 minutes, or each player gets 30 minutes, or something else? Maybe other potential participants were not real clear on the time involved either.
I hope we get more people to come. I think you said that the room could hold 40 people, and it would be nice to fill all the seats. I guess you could remind people that the number of seats are limited, in case there are a few procrastinators out there who think they can wait until the last minute to register.
I hope this is helpful.
Char Richardson
Roseville, Minnesota

Bob Comments
Char, I loved your letter because you actually raised points and commented on things instead of remaining silent as so many do. Steve Lamansky also wrote about why he isn’t coming. In fact, when I asked others about coming, directly, they gave me reasons.
My friend Sarah wished I had a full or part-time marketer to handle everything. Yep, great idea and I agree with it. That person would be responsible for determining how far in advance something like this should be announced and then all the follow up necessary.
Char also indicates I should get more great info from Andrew Martin about his persona and I have asked Andrew for more information. He said he will send it after having his morning coffee and so I will hold two columns open for him (Saturday!)
Perhaps these two fine people can be more persuasive than I have tried to be. I hope Char is right!

PS: This post first appears in the #7 issue of SCORE which goes out today on Friday.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Life is full of failures, so chess life must be too.

In marketing, or making presentations to generation sales, by some method, some ideas work best with timing that is near perfect, or a product which is so cool, and so new, that it elicits gasps (oohs and aahs).

Possibly the introduction of a certain celebrity can help or not.

But when all is said and done the "offer" must be so compelling as to overpower all the reasons to do nothing. But there is one factor which shouldn't be ignored and it is the NUMBERS. Being a math guy, I can appreciate this.

If a proposal is made to 1,000 people and 1% respond positively, or 10 people in this case, then is THAT compelling? It depends on other "numbers." If the unit (as Steve Ehrbach would have called it) is $100,000 that might be enough, but then we have to look at some other numbers, such as, "How much is the unit going to cost us?"

We keep coming back to numbers.

Some could look at 990 people saying "No", in effect, as a failure, but if the product cost $25,000 each, then a profit of $750,000 might be considered a huge success.

Similarly, but conversely, if you gave away something for FREE and 80% thought it to be worthy enough to say "Yes" while the "unit" cost was $10 each, then that $800,000 expense better have a big "Whammo" upon final rollout or somebody might just go down the drain.

So while it is perspective, it's also numbers. It doesn't do any good for me to scratch my head and ask WHY there isn't a bigger turnout for the "Chess TNT" event if NO ONE CARES! To "care" something must be compelling, something to get us out of our rocking chair and take action. E.g., if our car has bad brakes, most of us will take some kind of action to solve that problem because life and limb are at danger here--a pretty good sized priority.

But, if we forgot to put out the garbage one week, that's inconvenient, maybe smelly, but probably not life threatening. So where's the "in between?" Marketers ask themselves that question ALL the time, so by that FACT alone (i.e., "all"), there must be lots of "failures."

What happens when there is a big SUCCESS? There is an attempt to duplicate it in many cases. When Elvis Presley died the t-shirt vendors, music companies, etc. went crazy selling "stuff" and still have. Maybe it was only a minor success (because there were so many different vendors). But when Steve Jobs died those "marketers" tried the same thing with bobbleheads, etc. and from what I have read, the lovers of Apple products didn't respond (unless it was an iPhone 4S). It's ALWAYS dicey.

The guy who marketed the Farrah Fawcett posters sold millions of them but he went broke! "How's that possible?" Lots of distributors he sold them to didn't pay him what he was owed. They kept the money they made, but he was left high and dry. He probably lost everything and possibly the printers did too.

This pretty girl came up to a dude and he asked her if she would sleep with him for a million bucks. Quickly she said, "Sure honey." Then he said, "Would you do that for five bucks?" She replied, "What kind of girl do you think I am?" He backed up and said, "We already know what kind of girl you are, we are just trying to agree on a price!"

Successful events are like that too. What is the right price, the right location, the right venue, and the right time? Is Neil Diamond worth $150 in Chicago but only $60 in Davenport, Iowa? Is he coming on a week night or a weekend? (Funny thing, Neil Diamond can come to the Quad Cities where I live, on a Thursday night, and sell out 10,000 seats, but running a chess club on a Thursday night, which is close to free, can get only a half dozen or less involved.) Has the potential ticket buyer seen that show before and is it necessary for it to be different to see another one?

In all honesty I don't have the answers and even the "numbers" guys are wrong from time to time (that's the "bell curve" for you), more than you might believe because "how hot is hot?"

Maybe something "outrageous" would draw people like watching Jerry Lee Lewis play "Great Balls of Fire" while playing chess too on a board that is on fire. But the chess would be incidental. If magician Chris Angel was playing chess with Garry Kasparov and made Kasparov's Queen suddenly disappear, would people come to see that? Would you? It would cost a sack of donuts to get those two guys to show--and know that there would be a lot of media there and it would probably have to be done on TV or closed circuit TV. The logistics would be pretty incredible.

If you have been with me for all this, WHAT would it take for you to attend a chess event? Let's take ONE thing out of the mathematical expression: COST. What would you like to see or do? And how long would your attention span be? What hurdles would you be willing to give up to come?

My bet? Only a few people who read this Blog (or maybe none) will take even 2 minutes of their life to answer. In many cases there has to be an "event" just to talk about the Main Event. That is, a captive audience.

One reason I am curious: Recently someone spoke to me about "Next Year's Event" and the first thought which came to MY mind, was "What do they know that I don't know?"

I'd like YOUR input even if you think it isn't valuable because it is. There will be others who think or behave JUST LIKE you do. No kidding! You won't lose points with me. This is a fact-finding mission. I do not have George Gallup to help out. Don't guess what you believe someone else would do (i.e., other chess players), just what it would take for you. I have some ideas of my own, which could be presented in 2012.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I think it was IM Jeremy Silman who once proclaimed that "New in Chess Magazine" was the best chess magazine of all time, or words to that effect.

I have to admit, it IS very good.

At this time I am reviewing complete years for part of a USED book list I want to put out this week. It is hard to get through the piles of magazines because it is too easy to get caught up in reading things whether written by Jan Timman, Hans Ree, the subscribers, or Dirk  Jan ten Geuzendam or just put together by Rene Olthof. If you get tired of reading about Kasparov there are other articles and there are opinion pieces decrying Garry's abysmal behavior at times. If you like to read stuff by people with some sort of axe (Peter Acs from Hungary?) to grind, this is the place. Each issue these days runs about $13 each, and there are 8 per year, so right off the bat there is more than $100 worth at full retail whether at the current price or the older prices--the stuff IS that good (in general).

One person has told me he is interested in investing in the Andy Soltis update project (Confessions of a Chess Grandmaster). He is willing to go forward if a couple others chime in for a piece of the profits. I know asking something like this on a Blog is iffy because many are reluctant to write anything at all, but over the years I have learned to live with that. I recall when my column ended for "Chess4Less" I did get a lot of mail from those who read it, of which I was completely unaware.

I read a website every day called MacNN and it isn't uncommon for me to voice several opinions and facts over each weekly period. Several times per week!!! Every day!

Just heard from one of next week's participants and he couldn't believe that there were only 10 people registered for next week. He's coming anyway even though he's got eye surgery coming up and can't play! He was willing to bet $10K he could get 100 people to show up from schools, cities, etc. from around the Midwest area at $100 a pop and couldn't understand what the problem is (I would have to give him a year--wonder if he would put his professional practice on hold while gathering the wool and the sheep!?) I told him, a well-known psychiatrist (Scott Peck, who died a few years ago) said in his experience, the number one SIN on this earth could be summed up in 6 letters: apathy (don't care, one way or the other).

Well, my friend didn't agree with that. Maybe he was thinking of the Occupy Wall Street protestors who aren't very apathetic. Good chess requires getting out of one's comfort zone, doing the work because it won't do it for you, and a thirst for doing more and being more. As some people age, it's all they can do to take a leak and so they choose to pee on the floor. (Believe it or not, not that I will give the details of the episode, but I even have a "pee" story.)

My biggest concern right now is having enough people to at least make the pairings reasonable (I'd like to have at least 16 for a 4-rounder); and
To not have an odd number. If we do, I'll have to play and I've always liked avoiding being the "house man" at my own events. People might think I have "something up my sleeve."

If all the people came who told me originally they would, I'd have 20 or more. My friend opined that maybe people don't want to play other than "their" openings. Isn't that sad? Everyone there, pretty much, will be in exactly the same situation! And if I have to play, so will I as I play none of those openings. As I mentioned once before, what some want is to play THEIR openings, which means they wouldn't have to study much, just play along (there are hundreds of tournaments throughout the nation on weekends just for that). Why, as a society, are we so averse to learning something new? I love learning new stuff maybe because I've always had to.

Just for the HECK of it, I am going to do something I have never done before just to see what the reaction might be. Maybe I will be totally off course. Here it is--choose one:

a) If you sign up for CHESS TNT for Oct 21-22 next week, by tomorrow night (wed midnight), it will only cost you $50.00; or,
b) If you come to Chess TNT and pay the full $125, I will give you a Subscription to TO THE POINT, deluxe $250 edition, for another $125! A twofer.

Has to be by tomorrow night. You don't have to appear at the Chess TNT, but it would be nice if you told me you weren't coming (I don't need a reason I already have plenty of those).

Just looking for a way Andrew and I can make a few bucks from this event and not go into a bigger Black Hole.


Sunday, October 9, 2011


Several have contacted me concerning two extracts from Andy Soltis' book published by Thinkers' Press, Confessions of a Chess Grandmaster. Ah, you guys are great (Bob Woodward, Don Griffiths, and Ken MacD my long-time Canadian friend).

Every one of you has been helpful. Thank you.

Once again it appears that the best way to get a reaction is to REQUEST something in this Blog. I am sure I can come up with more in the future. LOL.

In the meantime, To The Point has been interesting to enough people that they have paid or will pay (and have already committed). Now I have to do some more shuffling and reshuffling in order to bring many more into the fold. Doing an even better version of The Chess Reports with fewer subscribers is not my idea of success although I am sure it would be for those who subscribed.

And what's in it for me? Most likely three things:
a) Research and writing always keeps my interest in chess alive;
b) Getting paid more than minimum wage and I'm too smart to ask for "appreciation" from fans way back (I've noticed that grocery stores won't accept 'appreciation' in lieu of payment);
c) Extending my marketing skills to SHOW that there are people out there who would actually be interested in the written side of chess and not just the playing side. Many moer than are currently involved.

As we get older we pick and choose our next "contest." From these people I would like to know two things:
a) What are their best stories about their involvements in chess?;
b) Would they be willing to pay to read those stories by others? (I have some dandies coming up)

There is still tremendous "educational" work which should be going on. I see that the latest issue of Chess Life has coverage of "chess apps." That's progress but still, national publicity for chess isn't much more than it was, percentage wise, before Fischer became a real contender.

In some cases it can be blamed on the economy, I'm sure, but if you read back to Gutenberg's times "it has ALWAYS been the economy!" When you watch movies, read books, do research, there pretty much has always been more lean times than prosperous times if you look at the period as a whole.

But basically, when one goes to a chess tournament, as I did a month ago to sell, what did I see? I noticed those who were there, including some old timers my age, and those who weren't there. Of course on any given weekend people have those busy days and some not so busy days. Today I will spend some time sending out a few thank you notes, pen in hand, to those who have made my life more "interesting" recently.

I haven't talked or written much about the CHESS TNT event coming up in a couple weeks. October 21-23 (including simul day on Sunday). I have probably reached the acme of effectiveness in marketing, probably 10-11 people. Still, I see people look me in the eye, when I ask if they are coming, and they say "Yes." And... I am pretty sure they won't be there. I'll get over it and force myself to realize that if there is a BETTER way of spreading chess enjoyment, I have yet to find it and am rapidly losing interest in the "real live way" anymore.

Years ago I was selling at a tournament in Peoria and I noticed a prospect looking at the books I had laid out on the tables. Really inspecting them. Trying to make a decision (I think). I asked him a question: "If I could show you a new chess book for sale that had 500 or more pages in it, was hardbound, with a dustjacket, and priced at $5.00 would you buy it?" With the excitement of a kid let loose in a candy store to grab anything he wanted, he enthusiastically said, "Yes!" (Oh really?)

Then I said, "Apparently those are the only requirements. You didn't ask what the contents would be. Of course you would want it, it's a bargain for you (and a loss for the manufacturer)." It's the mentality of "any deal is a good deal as long as it is cheap, doesn't matter what it is."

I saw this recently at the closing of the local Borders store. People lined up at the cash registers, with armloads of total crap! Before someone says, "Maybe they were shopping early for Christmas," I will say two things:
a) I would hate to be the recipient of any of those lovely items;
b) Some of the stuff was products that Borders was NOT known for selling in that store such as fluffy animals, furry rugs and slippers, etc. Not book materials.
The stuff was "cheap" and therefore desirable (?). But none of it was really cheap... it reminded me of the "slum" that is given away on the Midway at a Carnival where the entrepreneurs buy those teddy bears and other geegaws at HUGE discounts. What does the guy do with that monster panda bear he wins, he GIVES it to his girlfriend (he doesn't want it!).

Someone said, "We live in interesting times!" Another person said, "Not so much."


Saturday, October 8, 2011


GM Andy Soltis' book through Thinkers' Press did well. It was huge and priced at $26.95 at the time, which the cheapskates didn't like, so it wasn't an instant sell out.

Andrew had sent me a followup addition, a healthy supplement to do a second edition. But it is easy for a publisher to get skittery when one is selling a $26.95 book while others of lesser fare were going for $20 for fewer pages, insight, etc. Printing a goodly number so that everyone could get one was part of the mix too.

Still, while it takes times for those books to sell through, a lot of dough in printing costs is sitting on the shelves. Royalties have to be paid. It takes No Talent to spend money and Thinkers' Press did it, often to the detriment of other projects. "Personal sacrifice" is what kept us alive. Loans from banks, new projects kept us going. Still, I am not a big fan of banks.

I would like to do #2 but TPi would need a backer. Takers? Andy would have to update the update!

In the meantime, I can't even find a copy of the first edition by TPi. Nowhere. I suspect it got sold under the mistaken impression I had a few more copies lying around somewhere. There is a quote IN that book by Soltis about how he had to keep beating John Fedorowicz when John was younger because one day the tide might turn (it did). Anyone with a copy of that book? If you would be so kind, could you send me the exact paragraph quote from the book? I am working on some additional testimonials for "To The Point" and would like to use that one.

It's too bad that I can't find that book but it was my view to make the customer happy even if that meant a temporary inconvenience to me, or more likely, what might become a permanent inconvenience. Rats.

Thanks... contact:

Friday, October 7, 2011


A friend wants to know if I will ever take another vacation!?

She knows the answer: Not until I get some projects cleared away to pay the bills. She's 65 and she isn't retired either.

With BoA whining they have a right to make a profit, and now charging for debit cards, they didn't answer the key question: "Do we have a right to make a profit by doing so in an ethical way?" Yes, but you have lost the consumer's trust. The consumer and homeowner considers that you are liars and crooks, and, you were. Now you want to maintain your former bales of money attitude by trying another "trick." Why not GIVE US something before you ask for more? People are angry, they do not care if you go down the drain. Many have lost everything... what have you lost? You wanted out from under Uncle's thumb so you paid your loans off to get rid of the regulators. Big mistake by Uncle Sam. He should have set some conditions for several years after the TARP loans were paid back. Uncle has done some pretty dumb things too. So did you who bought an extra home you couldn't afford because someone once said "Real estate is always a good investment because there is no more!" I guess that was proven wrong.

I have nothing good to say about Wells Fargo either. A few years ago someone introduced me to a local Wells Fargo bank VP (Loans) in a bar/restaurant. I said, "I have a great tagline for you guys!" All he did was arch one eyebrow while waiting for me to finish: "The stagecoach that robs you!" Not pleased.

Business should be allowed to have a State of the Nation Address too. Especially good businesses, businesses which aren't greedy. Businesses which behave well. And I will say my piece:

Support good businesses and those with good business practices. You already know who some of the bad ones are. Withhold your spending, go somewhere else. Be like a Steve Jobs, live YOUR life not someone else's. When you buy from companies whose corporate heads prove over and over that all you are is an ATM to them, take your business elsewhere. If you like chess products, and probably you do because you are reading this, I hope you will consider my small company: G&L CHESS and Thinkers' Press. Providing chess services and goods for 40 years--starting in 1971.

At the very least, I have going on right now:

Chess TNT Oct. 21-22.
SCORE --issue #7 coming up.
To The Point, a new publication just advertised.
The Gentlemens Chess Club for those who enjoy their fun IN person.
"Petrosian the Punisher" for the Chess Gangs of New York and London.
And several other publications coming + The New Chess Gazette.

Once I get you to lean in my direction, maybe then I can take a vacation. As to the banks, "What are they afraid of? They didn't mind taking YOUR money, but they sure as heck are loathe to loan it back to you!" I would like to see the media quit giving them so much air play. As to China and its money manipulation! We did that one ourselves by setting up Big Boxes where most of the goods were imported from China and Mexico. They have our $$$ because we gave it to them by the boxcar load. It's time to take responsibility for our actions.

By the way, play in a tournament. Join a club, maybe mine. Become a director. Buy a book. DO SOMETHING! Don't grieve over Steve Jobs if you yourself are not a doer because that's exactly what he was... a doer. Now get away from your computer monitor for a while, and do something. Kiss your wife, hug your kids, call your parents. Do something.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I seldom am stunned by the death of famous people.

But Steve, I will miss him, his crispness, his boldness and inventiveness, and his willingness to risk and promote. I remember owning and using an Apple II+ and writing a program in Basic on it which caught my banker ripping my company off!

Then I bought a Mac Plus about 1987. Then a LaserWriter. Then a Mac II, a 630 Centris, a G3, a G4 and G5, and a MacBook. They've all been extremely reliable.

Most of you have read books I created with Mac equipment. The reason I used them IS to get work DONE. I am using one right now.

I owe it to a visionary and a one of a kind. I've been in many Apple Stores, you know, the ones which were supposed to fail and now there are 357 of them!

MS's Steve Balmer told us the iPhone would fail, the Zune was going to kick ass, the iPad was a joke, and on and on. I saw lots of tributes come in this evening, but none from Ballmer nor Wozniak (we'll probably see his tomorrow).

Over the years I've met many publications deadlines because of the Mac. More are on the list. In fact, when he was referred to as a true genius, that was defined, as someone who has touched people all over the planet. That's heavy.

Once I took an evaluation which came back with the result: visionary philosopher. In Jobs' case he was a visionary DOER, and boy did he do!

Steve, I will really miss your innovation, your challenges to your competitors, your softness and your toughness. What a model to emulate.

You are in a better place, and my condolences go out to your colleagues, friends, and especially your family.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Today I am sending out a 12 page prospectus on the newest and probably the best thing I have ever done. For a change, I am trying to make a few bucks instead of "giving it away" like with SCORE (which if I get 50 more subscribers I still won't break even!). If you haven't gotten your copy, send me your email address (to: and I will forward one.

It is an interesting experiment but I know beforehand the dangers of a radical price increase. The FACT that subscribers will get so much more than before won't be lost on a few people, but probably will be on many. As it is well known than MANY successful businesses, still operating today were started in depressions and recessions, I wanted to take a chance.

It involved a MONTHLY printed publication which helps make use of books you probably already own but haven't read. It involves "stuff" I will be digging up or have dug up which you won't know about at all. And it involves in shipping CDs every month or every other month (I don't know anyone doing that).

A year or so ago Andrew Martin paid me a Big Compliment. It was part of my job to submit chess quizzes for the "Right Move," an English chess publication for youths of which HE was the chief editor (I was the designer). Andrew said my quiz selections were some of the best he had ever seen! There was a reason for that, a Secret which I have still kept and will continue to use.

Since I can do that type of selection, which is not exactly the easiest thing in the world, I figure I can also choose GAMES to go onto a CD you have never seen and EXTRACT the maximum benefit through light notes. Imagine, if you can, coming up with 167 different games, each or every other month to be annotated and put onto a CD. Sounds easy except:
a) I won't be getting these from books known or unknown;
b) Many, maybe 80%, will be players you will never have heard of; in the rest you might recognize the names but probably NOT the games;
c) I have a method for selection, which I will not reveal, which will cover games from all eras but in proportion to the number reported (played);
d) The likelihood of using ANYTHING in the CD collection I have used before is so remote that as I was putting games together for statistics, I think I may have recognized 1-2 out of the first 400! That's a half of 1%. I will be doing 10,000 of them out of a database of 680,000 games.

The reason that last stat is a biggie is because one client wanted the new "Tactimania" book by Glenn Flear because he was looking for positions he hadn't seen before for a change (they are all original with Glenn or his wife, a former 5X Women's Chess Champion (France)). I have heard this complaint before and it is easy to see why it has BECOME a complaint--here's the answer: editors and writers sometimes have their back up against a deadline and may need something--so they go to something they remember doing or a friend of theirs did, and LIFT it.

I've never liked that or its justification for doing it in the first place. Thinkers' Press won its spurs for originality and not for doing retreads like a tire company. It costs more (dollars and time) to do that. I've been reading, or finishing I should say, Robert Ringer's book, "Getting What You Want" and there are big discussions in there of dealing with "bad" people. Maybe the worst are "nice" bad people. When you are aware someone is a crook, or loser, you can deal with them because you already know that. You may not like it, but you know WHAT to expect usually. But when you deal with "nice" people who will cheat, steal, and lie to get what they want, and have a smile on their face, it's much harder.

He gave as an example an acquaintance who told Ringer he really liked Ringer's ethical and moral philosophical approaches to matters, and, that he was just like him!  Well, he wasn't! Later the conversation came up about software and he told Ringer that he obtained lots of "pirated software" but figured he was doing the manufacturer a favor (!!) When Ringer asked how that could possibly be, the guy gave him a line I (personally) have heard before, but still find it hard to believe: "If I like it, I will tell others and they will buy." I think we should assume that is NOT the case and what actually happens will be:
a) He will brag to others how he got the software and how they too can get theirs for free; and
b) If someone calls him on it (as I have had the temerity to do in face to face events) he will use that well-worn excuse, "They are making plenty of money anyway and they won't miss thirty bucks from me!"

If you took Logic or Ethics (or both) in college you know how weak and disingenuous this argument is (1) they have no way of knowing that what appears lucrative really is and (2) they will miss the $30-$150 anyway, because there are 10,000-100,000 others out there with the same attitude, and that means millions.

Having the money could mean the difference (leaving moral issues aside) in building a manufacturing facility with cash and borrowing from one of those loser-banks which helped get us into the mess we are now in. Personally, and businesswise, I don't have much good to say about banks or bankers as when you question them on anything, they blame someone else. I want to get my home loan paid off, and pffft, I'm finished with banks!

So I know that because past purchasers of TPi products were getting something that wasn't exactly cheap (Purdy's Chess Chronicles, for example), raising the bar as I have done with "To The Point" is going to be a bigger gulp for some! It's economics. If I put out a publication for $20 a head and have 100 subscribers, that's $2,000 and that doesn't cover the cost of the writers, research, layout, design, etc. So the solution is to get 1000 subscribers--that is NOT easy to do.

We are in this "privacy" age where every weenie who sits at his computer all day long resents "emails" from someone who might try to sell him something. He can unsubscribe or hit "delete" but instead wants to vaporize you with his vast knowledge of the FCC regs. (hot air). I haven't done this, but I have been treated as if I had.

Or, I can put out a $200 publication for 100 subscribers, like an exclusive, and make the same amount of money IF I can get the 100. Same amount of money, but 90% fewer questions and emails which are major time-suckers.

Personally, I like the idea of "exclusives" as I have been left out in the cold in the past whether it was magic or chess or something else.

Having concluded the recent Red Wing event at the end of July I "know" what the problem was. Yermolinsky was a GREAT asset to me (and those who came), but wasn't looked on as such by everyone else. "Yawn, so what, 2X US champion, I've seen him at other events." He hasn't created an aura of 'scarcity' like Fischer did, even though he was good. He was genial rather than irritating. People, in general, WANT bad boys (lots of women LOVE them bad boys). If I had advertised that the Grandmaster who last year came to his table and was drunk, I would have had MORE to show up up! If I said, "Grandmaster X is coming and he wants to armwrestle your grandmother while she wears a thong and a tramp tattoo," the turnout would be much bigger. The news media would be there. Sensationalism.

So I have created a new publication, let's see what the chess world thinks. Will a path be beaten to my door? Don't know, but I will be promoting it outside of my usual email circle of contacts.

My contention IS, if you are willing to play through 10,000 annotated games (not annotated by GMs), you will become  a mortally strong player). You may think you have the time to do it yourself, to save $25.00 a month, but 99% will NEVER do that despite their "best" intentions.


Sunday, October 2, 2011


When something is new, there is a tendency for a lot of questions to be asked. My new publication, monthly, To The Point, is no exception. One fellow ALREADY subscribed, no questions asked, just based on my past performance. Ya gotta love that.

However, I have been earnestly working on a more complete description of what this is all about, and in a couple days, should be providing 12 pages (or more?) of "content" just on what it includes and why you should GET it! Lots of things designed just for YOU!

Besides the monthly publication, printed both sides, there will also be:
1) A Pad for making notes (not an iPad, but a paper one);
2) A CD every other month with USEFUL content + 167 games;
3) A "POINT" SYSTEM (pun intended) for you to tally each month (and send to me)--and I will total at the end of the year and show your level of improvement. It's all an honor system and YES it does require you to actually do something, but YOU can set the time and pace for doing it!

I will set up the monthly reporting spreadsheet.

The end of year issue will have a complete index.

It's $195.00 and if after the first month you are unhappy, for any reason, I will cheerfully (d0 you really believe anyone means this? Well, if you know me, you know I do) refund your money, no questions asked, for the remaining 11 issues, pro-rated.

No one, to my knowledge has ever had a program like this which MEASURES your effectiveness by using my "Development Point System--DPS"--and it is fun enough you most likely will actually DO it!!!

The games on the CD (every two months) contain games from 21-30 moves. If you want to really make progress, you can get a CD for every month, twelve months, for an additional $69.95, making it over 2,000 games per year to study... all lightly annotated. In 60 months you will be awarded the 10,000 VIOLINS AWARD TROPHY (a pretty nice trophy by the way).

If you want both the newsletter and the extra CDs so that you are getting the program every month it is $249.95. If you want to charge it to your credit card every month, the fee for the $195 offering is $20/month, and for the combined offer, $24.95 per month. All mailed first class postage.

Even those who sometimes feel lethargic can handle this if you have a computer with ChessBase light  (or Full) installed. And the thing I like about this, as I pondered how to make it work, is that it is actually FUN. Imagine, getting annotated games, on a CD, all year long, all kinds of openings (including the ones you like), tactics, strategical gems, and increasing your skill level just by playing through them and letting your neurons rebuild themselves into a potent memory force!

More details will be in the 12-page brochure, FREE for the asking when it is available.


Saturday, October 1, 2011


On Iowa Public Radio they have occasional commercials. I must too; it helps pay the bills.

Just received are the following:

The Gruenfeld Defence Volumes One and Two by Boris Avrukh. SALE price $51.50. Gold Card price $45.50. Retail is almost $60.

Tactimania by Glenn Flear. Husband and wife team present tactical exercises from THEIR own games. Flear is a British GM. SALE price $23.95. Gold Card price $21.25. Save as much as $6.70.

The Grandmasters Battle Manual by Vassilios Kotronias. Greek GM, considered a completist at opening theory. SALE price $30.25. Gold Card price $26.75. Save as much as $8.20.

Experts on the Anti-Sicilian edited by Jacob Aagaard and John Shaw. The Sicilian from White's point of view. The original, ABOUT the Sicilian did pretty well, I expect this one to do even better. SALE price $25.75. Gold Card price $22.75. Save as much as $7.20.

Karpov's Strategic Wins 1-2 by Tibor Karolyi. A massive 1,000+ pages of strategic wins from 1961-2010. SALE price $51.50. Gold Card price $45.50. Save as much as $14.40. I expect I will have to reorder this one.

ZUKE 'EM The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionized expanded to include the Zukertort-Phoenix Attack by David Rudel. Through a mistake by the printer, I have more of these than I originally ordered. I have offered these to some re-sellers but they are so slow in responding that they will be gone by the time they get around to it! This is the August 2011 version which involves clean up, a few revised explanations, corrected diagrams, etc. Retails for $25.99, 315 pages. $17.95 to anyone who wants one plus pays the S&H prices for USA. More copies of the Koltanowski-Phoenix Attack should be here next week (the printer shipped the wrong books).
I don't need make this stuff up, I just report it as it happens. Sometimes resellers are too defensive because we don't believe anyone out there could fully grasp just how screwed up many companies are and we are afraid of taking the heat for THEM! But most customers aren't like that. I do have one who is unbelievably antsy though--when I told him I ran out of book X, the one that was stolen from him by someone in the PO, he reminded me that "others have it on their web site!" What the heck does that mean?

Capablanca the Mouthpiece, perhaps next week. Part of the "Chess Gangs of New York and London" series. $12.95 for those who are ineligible for FREE copies.

I am still inputting tons of data for my website. It is 50% complete. Expect to have the rest done in a week, then we will have other parameters to tweak. In the meantime this Blog will have to serve as the commercial selling part.
Please do me a favor, order early. That way if I do run out of something I can get the reorder in right away. Otherwise I usually wait several weeks on reorders--everyone has to get paid.

the Ruy Lopez move by move by Neil McDonald. This was a complete sell out. SALE price $23.95. Gold Card price $21.25. Save as much as $6.70.

Dangerous Weapoons: The Caro-Kann by John Emms, Richard Palliser, and Jovanka Houska. If you've wanted to spice out your CK, this is the book to catch opponents off guard. SALE price $23.95. Gold Card price $21.25. Save as much as $6.70.

Chess Lessons by Vladimir Popov. Lessons from a well-known coach. SALE price $25.75. Gold Card price $22.75. Save as much as $7.20.

Shipping and handling is EASY. $5.00 for the first two books (except for the Karpov set, that is $6.00), $1.50 each additional item. USA only.

If you've done business with me in the past 40 years you know the kinds of payment I take: PayPal, checks, money orders, credit cards (Visa, MC, Discover). In person, I can take cash.