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."


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