Monday, January 30, 2012


If you sent something from Friday night to this morning that you felt was of some importance and it bounced back to you, please resend:

Turns out my web domain (thinkers' press) was up for renewal. I got the invoice two weeks ago, and they shut it down with only a teeny weeny "fine print" warning. Payments have been made, we are back. My my I wish I could run a business like that.

I will be painting my Gentlemens Chess Club place soon, on a Saturday. Anyone interested in helping out, I will supply the rollers, paint, tarps, etc. and PIZZA (from Happy Joe's). It will look great. Figure with 2-3 helps it will be done in 3-4 hours. Also plan to find out WHY the sink is so slow to release water in the basin though I have tried flushing it out with everything but dynamite.

If anyone is interested in a little manual labor, let me know (I expect a flood of volunteers! Haha)

Maybe I will post something else today, but probably not except to say that the next issue (Larsen the Hammer) of "The Chess Gangs of New York and London" is set to go to the printer. And, as usual, it ANNOUNCES who the next "gang member" is and he is called, "The Interrogator!" Won't give you his first name, but he passed away several decades ago. Great guy. If your purchases for the months of January (this one) and February (next one) total $100 or more, you will get a FREE copy of the one I will be working on this week.

By the way, the Larsen BOOK will have 76 annotated games (!) instead of the usual 40-50. It will also run a few extra pages. Of ALL the books in this series I have put together, this one, opening theory-wise, will do me the most good! A master exchanger, sacrificer of Exchanges, Mr. I Don't Mind Doubled Pawns, this guy was in HIS own class! Absolutely brilliant as he missed VERY few tactics!

Oh Yes... will be sending out some information to about 18 people asking them if they will renew their Gold Card from past years. Love to hear from you. For the past 4 years it has remained only $50.00.

Once again:

Sunday, January 29, 2012 EMAIL NOT WORKING

Don't know yet what the problem is or when it will be fixed. Will try going through gmail. Recheck my settings in "Mail," and so on. It seems like everytime this year something like this happens. Bills are not unpaid but sometimes we get some overzealous "newbie" who really doesn't know what they are doing (explanation: they don't get enough complaints so that they feel like they are doing a bad job). Last year I lost a ton of emails.

I live in one of those "zones" where there isn't much competition for my $$$. Even Google has crapped out.

I hear from friends and customers whose "internet has gone down."

If you want to get hold of me until this HS goes away, you can contact me through Facebook.

When you rely on email and the internet to conduct business, stuff like this is a disaster. So I don't see me giving up regular mail anytime soon. The wind blows hard, next thing you know, a line goes down. 60 years ago this stuff should have been buried underground, but it would "be too expensive." What's expensive now? Forget going to the moon, Mars, etc. fix things here first technocrats. Get the NASA engineers to work on these problems first. That other, "Where did we come from" stuff can wait.

Funny, in the scientific search to exclude God from the creation of anything, I laugh whenever I see science-fiction or current "real life fiction" explaining things by creating the "alien civilization" which visited earth stuff. Of course THEY do not answer the question of WHERE these aliens originated and how... but hey, minor details.

In the meantime, if you need to get hold of me or order something, 563-271-6657. Leave a message. I don't take my phone in the shower with me nor sleep with it. I might even go swimming this afternoon. No phone in the pool.

My internet was down this morning, it's back, but, email isn't. So I expect some work to be done. Where and when and how, do not yet know.


Friday, January 27, 2012


As I've mentioned previously, when I am not one here much it is because I am heavily involved in some projects.
Working on Stohl's terrific article for SCORE next week.
Working on David Rudel's next two books.
Working on headlines and package to get people to come to my tournaments.
Giving lectures at the Gentlemens Chess Club.
Talking to people about this 'n that to get a better view of what's on their mind.
Hence, Blog loses me.

Maybe something tomorrow.

HOWEVER, during all this, still been filling orders. Keep sending those in. I am determined, this year, to get a laptop so I don't feel tied to my home office.

Also working on Larsen the Hammer Chess Gangs AND the surprise #8.

And, I finished the main text of a new book I've written. Hope to find a major publisher for it. Not on chess.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Will be working on the Sicilian Poisoned Pawn and 1.c4 e5 for the next couple of days. When an author sends me an article, I always go over it, usually add a few diagrams where I think it's helpful, and hopefully I have enough time to get back to the author in case I have questions.

In the meantime, been working on accounting and bookkeeping--the biggest money loser, in terms of time, on the planet. The only thing I can think of that is worse would be smoking dope while sitting on one's ass. While I personally haven't done that I have talked to plenty who have... including those with addled brains.

Not that I am encouraging that kind of thing but I wonder if California has had any marijuana chess tournaments and if so, what did the results look like? Did the winners score as zeroes while the losers were one with the universe?

In the meantime, the Used book list I sent out recently needs to be updated and I would like to thank all those who I heard from--you are great.

Monday, January 23, 2012


For years I've had some of the greatest customers ever. I trust them, they've trusted me. Based on what I have heard from competitors, not everyone enjoys that tit-for-tat acceptance or relationship.

I talked to one of my oldest friends and customers last night who is in the hospital trying to solve some infection problems on a foot. Johnny and I have done business since 1969. That would be NM John Blackstone, now residing in Las Vegas. He is also the content creator (along with original showman Hermann Helms) of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle CD I put out last year. He spent hundreds of hours gleaning data from online sources and inputting the games in ChessBase format, about 2500 of them. Having done this kind of work I can attest to it being mind numbing and grueling--but like I, he was afraid this kind of "ancient wisdom" might be lost as so much was when newspapers were destroyed and micro-fiche started going bad (just like VHS tapes, hard discs, and floppies do). I still have Vol. 1 for sale at $34.95 + $3 for shipping in USA.

But John and I have known and trusted each other forever. He and I feel the same way about author John Hilbert who wrote a glowing review of Blackstone's sitzfleisch and the BDE. A volume 2 will eventually appear. More on that in another Blog.

But three other heroes I can think of: Don Aldrich, Ken MacDonald, and Patrik Ohagen recently mentioned to me that I had sent them extra copies of Abbazia 1912. That was due to a bookkeeping glitch (me). Ken has already returned the extra and since Patrik lives in Sweden I have worked out something with him. Ordinarily I wouldn't make too big of a deal about something like this but I have no plans to reprint this book and so the original total of 100 will make it scarce.

At this very moment I can HEAR in the loud murmur of the chess universe, "I am not interested in the King's Gambit, tactics, tournaments, etc. There are too many chess books anyway." All of that can be true but the difference is between 100 and say, 1000 copies! Don't overlook that some can't see the forest because there are too many trees.  All it takes is someone like a Magnus Carlsen to say to a friend, "I ran across this Abbazia 1912 book and noticed a couple surprise ideas I might use." Then, 3-4 days later, I am all out of them. Can we not remember Kasparov giving up the King's Indian in 1997 after losing to Kramnik? The KID went into a major funk. That would have been a bad time to publish a book on the King's Indian. Kasparov was thought to be "Lord of all" when it came to the King's Indian. After Kasparov retired from active play, this young kid named Teimor Radjabov appeared in the wings and started winning with the King's Indian!! Kind of embarrassing eh?

While it can be notable to claim to be an "expert" at something it is too easy to receive potshots from those who think they are the real experts (and somehow seem to have an inordinate amount of extra time on their hands). Experts make me nervous. Some act like only they should be considered before anyone else is. I prefer to think of myself as "knowledgeable" but always willing to learn more. I have guys out there, for example, like Ed Yee who helps keep me informed about the latest twists and tangles of the French Defense. Andy Ansel keeps me posted about what is going on in Europe, one of the areas of the world which claims "expertness" at everything and from this high chair, I see no discipline, and no proof. Of course there are others who I have had long friendships with. Maybe we can start a lengthy one?

Years ago I got a note from Ken Smith, the publisher and chief salesman at Chess Digest. Ken and I had our beefs from time to time, but we kept our cards ON the table. I had just sent him a note and a check telling him the "extra $100" or so was because he totaled up the invoice incorrectly. He wrote, "You are the only one I have dealt with (meaning in the wholesale business) who has mentioned things like this and made them good." The implication was that since Ken basically added things mentally, he was sure he had made other errors. (BTW, Ken is mentioned as a Texas poker buddy in Doyle Brunson's The Godfather of Poker.)

It's called justification rather than differentiation. "So and so overcharged me for this book I bought (meaning, they thought, after purchasing it, the book's value to them was less than it was portrayed) so I am just getting even or my money's worth." It's like the guy who gets fired or resigns his job and while packing his stuff to leave throws in a stapler, pens, etc. which are usually owned by the company. He feels they "owe him."

Hence, I am blessed with faithfulness and some great and honest customers. If you want to join the "fray," drop me a line and maybe we can do some business.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Try as I might, as all of us do, sometimes we do not succeed at communication.

I received public and personal emails on yesterday's post about "forks and spoons" and ordering stuff. All that is good... thank you.

Clarity... may need work on that but am not sure what to do... yet.

I mentioned the USED (Previously owned list) catalog #3 I have in PDF form. A number of people told me they couldn't find the "link" or a link. There was no link. Links have to go to someplace, a web site (unless the link it an email address). I do not have a web site (yet). What I have at Thinkers' Press, inc. is a place holder with physical and email addresses and phone number of this business. My web guy and I will be starting trials within a couple weeks, probably first with GOLD CARD holders as I will contact them personally about instructions on what to do.

In the copy was a request. That is, requesting the Used #3 pricelist. I generally try to publish my email address at the end of each post so you can get hold of me. That's HOW people have been contacting me since 2009. Maintaining a website is time consuming and expensive. You will have occasion to note how many websites have not been updated for a LONG time (no pun intended).

I know some prefer to talk on the phone, but I have one of these 900 minute plans and they get chewed up quickly. Email works best because I can answer it when I get a chance (usually within 24 hours). I have no assistant here to HELP me and using the phone gets into conversations which tie up time. Please ask me anything, or request lists, using email and "stuff" will run on greased bearings. If I "link" it to my email account Google "warns me" that spammers may try to collect my email address to add to their sendings of Viagra!

Businesswise and personal wise, I love to hear from customers, and often do; those who are in touch with me regularly know this. Getting up early this morning I have books to gather from the USED #3 list which need to be packaged, invoiced, and dealt with using the post office for overseas shipment. The PO has all kinds of regulations which most people do not know about--weight limits--insurance (maybe, maybe not)--size and the laundry list goes on. Has to be well-packed so it doesn't get beat up. All this takes time and this morning (Saturday) will be no exception. When I am at the PO I wait in line like everyone else but I seldom take my phone in with me to avoid the rudeness so many others exhibit (when their ringer goes off, their LOUD speaking voice resonates, repeated phone calls, etc.) to other customers and the PO employees themselves. The PO used to put a sign in the counter area saying "turn cell phones off" but that didn't work because a lot of people pay no attention to signs (all of them seem to drive cars too, which is kind of scary)

It's a ritual. Dealing with me is a ritual. Come to one of my tournaments and get MORE of my time because I have no place else to be. TODAY I have clicked on the blog's "link" button so you can email me (whatever you want). It's an ugly blue-green item and a "form" will pop up for you to message me. I may turn it off tomorrow just to avoid being hammered with emails from those who are into pharmaceuticals in Canada.

All those who requested the USED list yesterday, after everything was clarified, were sent the list, promptly. Eventually, when the web site is up, you will be able to download these things from it--I have been told.

Today the catalog will be sent out to others who do not normally look at USED books in the hopes that, they will consider doing so... so those 36 who are now on the special USED books list for future emailing better get their list looked over and requests sent in right away, because the casual buyers do not know about you (and sorry to say, do not care about your wants).

The books are "reviewed" and itemized randomly. I do not bother to alphabetize them for a number of reasons:
1) Variety listings make people look at the WHOLE list not just "their" specialty;
2) Most people do not know the EXACT name of the book in the first place so an alphabetical listing wouldn't help much; and
3) Doing a whole section on one topic usually puts even ME to sleep!

For example, when I listed the Mordecai Morgan "Chess Digest" books. A few thought I meant Ken Smith's books (however, Richard R. knew what these were as he owned them too--thanks Rich)--whole different animal. Incidentally, that set just sold and I thank the overseas buyer. Not everyone depends on Amazon or eBay to get what they want.

While it might make great fiction to write a story about predicting buyer's tastes and wants, actually, it is impossible. If I could say that chess books, in reality, were Cabbage Patch dolls I might be more successful, but I suspect that wouldn't last for long. However, only a Suspicion (Terry Stafford, eat your heart out!)

Last night I did borrow some video equipment to captcha me saying something "remarkable" for the Dan Kennedy conference but the deadline is so short it will be a miracle to get it done and off to those who view such things, in time in the format they want. They do these things on purpose, it winnows the heard and probably is winnowing me!

As to the chess set mentioned yesterday... I am hoping later this afternoon to get pictures taken and copy written to further incite the "drool factor." I can't say, boldly and with certainty, that $795 for a chess set is a lot of money. It is to some (me for example) but not everyone. So if someone drops me a line and says "Wow, I sure would like to have that but it's a lot of $$$" I take that to mean, for them it's a lot of money! To someone else, who has the wherewithal, we are just redistributing a portion of wealth. In my case a bunch of the dollars will end up going to the owner who has engaged me to sell it. So let's see what can be done.

In the meantime you can add a comment in the "comment box" below or write to me personally if you would like an answer:

WEB SITE Links are coming!

PS: Because I put something in BOLD type or colored type, that does not mean there is a "link" underneath when you click on it but there most likely will be something like that on the web site--but for now, your "Chess Butler" (thank you Patrik) has plenty to do to keep himself occupied.

Friday, January 20, 2012


You know how people (like me) complain that when they take socks out of the dryer that sometimes one is missing, not to be found (if ever) until you no longer need it? I have that problem with dinner forks!

Being single, I fix my own food, if you call microwaving frozen dinners fixing food. Generally these things require a fork. At one time, I had so many forks that to put them into the utensils draw and make them fit, along with spoons, knives, and those savagely cutting beasts--steak knives (not for steak but for everything else such as cutting open those infernal packages that cereal comes in!) I needed a wooden mallet to wedge them in.

Somehow I lose forks. This morning as I was filling the sink with hot dishwater, I see maybe, if I am lucky, 4 forks! Where are the rest of them. It's getting worse. I must've started with about a dozen. Are there fork thieves?

Because my daughter knows I am capable of this, through some incredible mystery to me, last year for Christmas she got me dinnerware settings of plates, and utensils, all the good stuff. I haven't opened them yet, but the day is approaching! I haven't opened them yet for fear of losing forks from that very nice set--the way I have misplaced the current collection of odds and ends.

Sometimes I do that with books too. Few people have seen my home office and those who do find that there are few if any extra chairs to sit on--on purpose--they take up space better allocated for something else, like books.

Last night, shortly after midnight, I issued Used Book List #3, the Janus Issue (Janus was the Roman god who looked fore and aft and therefore missed very little; I should have his sculpted bust ass here at my house to locate stuff for me!). 10 pages of #3 but which also include the first two catalogs (if you didn't get one, just request one, need your name and email address you want it sent to--will get it out right away).

This morning, very first item sold, Alekhine's Games by Skinner and Verhoeven, a monstrously large and great work, $75, no giveaway. No can find! So I printed the list out, couldn't find it on the list. Started over again--very first ITEM! So I went back to the shelf where I put the titles for list #3. There it was, the first one, the very first one, just like on the list! But the color of the cover (a maroon) was similar to the dark cherrywood of the bookcase, and it was in a shadowed corner (that should teach me, but will it?). It's a big book and I have to find a big box to pack it in. I will.

What was lost is usually found... my main point. My secondary point is--GET IT WHILE I HAVE IT. Let's say you have fond reminiscences of a book you once had, but for whatever reason, it is no longer in your possession (yeah, the poor old dog, eats everything). Make 2012 be YOUR YEAR. I have been selling some older chess sets which have not been photographed and put into a catalog because they were on display elsewhere. I am even going to ask the local museum curator if she wants to have an exhibit of chess sets. Who knows how much interest this might create, but, by doing nothing there won't be any created interest. So, look through this list, poke around, dawdle mentally, and think, "Wouldn't that be fun to have that Old Friend again?"

One Last BIG Thing--A Benefit for YOU and Me!
In a couple months a Super Conference will be held in Dallas, Texas, on Marketing. It all started in 1998 when I got a phone call from a guy whose name I can't recollect. He didn't identify himself at first but he said, "Do you know Dan Kennedy?" I said, "No, who is that?"

His response: "Amazing, you market just like he does!" I said, "How do I do that?" He replied, "Tell it like it is, no B.S., won't deal with sissies and crybabies, etc." Jeez, is that my persona? (Okay, so I know the answer.)

Over time I have mellowed, perhaps, 10%...haha. Dan has a marketing business called the "No B.S. Marketing Newsletter." I get it every month. 20 pages, a CD, and a specialty package of how to employ some marketing tactics or other. Almost $500/year. (Dan has personally helped over 100 people become millionaires--and he doesn't take on EASY DOES IT PEOPLE or whiners or crybabies.) There are some great ideas in his stuff, especially with the growth of online business (which I was into in 1997 before Dan even cared). But his main approach is DR, direct response, or mailings, which I was doing with Rita back in the 90s! However, he has methods and ways to fine tune, sharpen, and bulldoze (as a matter of hyperbole). Here's the latest thing: His Super Conference in Dallas will be western-theme based! As some of you know who have been reading my stuff on To The Point, mine is too! The Gary Cooper High Noon style image, the sheriff's star, gunsmoke, etc! Is this too much of a coincidence? I don't put much stock into coincidences.

The Super Conference is a 3-day fest of daylong, wall-to-wall, marketing information, exhibitor booths, and a chance to talk with the High Sheriff, Dan Kennedy, if I can win a video contest explaining how I use the Dan Kennedy marketing principles I have invested in since 2007! A FREE ticket. Someone has already offered to put me up for the week in Dallas! But, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Eagle Scout and I believe in Being Prepared (Plan B). I've also felt that 2012 is my year, God willing (speaking of God, my best ideas come from nowhere!--so that tells me where they really come from!) January has been my best January, ever, and I am getting old bills paid. What's in the water? I haven't even gotten started, but relish the idea.

But, I want to do better, help you and by my attendance at the Super Conference, one way or another, I hope to do that. So my PLAN B, that is, a plan for what happens should I not win the video contest, is to sell a lot of books, dvds, and services... to YOU... and especially those who love to read my stuff but from whom I otherwise never hear even one iota from! This conference will cost a couple thou and that means I have to dig deep, sell a bunch, and make it happen. I don't know whether I will make it there or not, but I am going to try. I suspect if I make it, I will come back, fully armed, to the teeth, to show you how this really should be done. One way is through partnerships. So much of the nonsense on the web about getting leads, etc. is just that: nonsense and annoying people to no end. This calls for IN THE TRENCHES action. G&L CHESS gets no favors from the USCF, Amazon, or anyone else... we are the OASIS in the desert chessland!

So what can I sell? Maybe chess sets, rare books and magazines (such as in list 3). When speaking of chess sets I recently wrote up some copy while running a tournament and the games were going. I was studying the Catalan Opening for white by using Nigel Davies' book on the subject, Play the Catalan. I was using this one set which was on display, made of gorgeous ebony and boxwood and the Knight seemed to "melt" to fit my fingers. The weighting heft couldn't have been more perfect if I was able to sit there with the woodcarver and tell him exactly what I wanted. I wrote some copy and had Steve Lamansky read it! He loved it except he said the weighting was even more beautiful than I had described! Steve's wife buys him nice Staunton sets. I think even he would admit he would like to own this baby! On top of all that, the wooden box it came in was worth at least $100 with the fine laser engraving on the top of the walnut lid. I don't know the name of this set, and only know vaguely where I got it, from one of two sources. It is Staunton supreme and I've wanted to advertise it, but I only have one! It would be a great start for stockpiling cash to go to the conference in Dallas, and I really hate to let it go... but that conference could change everything in the way I have been doing business and make it even better for you (wheeling and dealing, tremendous offers, new sources of contact and supply). All the speakers are first rate (Larry Winget is one), and like any gathering of 1,200 people (huh????--chess events such as the World Open don't have that many for the fee this thing costs to get into) there will be vendors there to SELL more fantastic marketing stuff on the side... and it's the perfect time for perfect discernment.

I will sell this chess set, eventually, and hope to get something written up and pictured over the weekend for those who must have something really great, once in their life time. Screw sticking it in the den, use it at home to study with. I did. I almost felt it was making me be a better player and YOU know I don't believe in that stuff! Don't take it with you to a tournament, only ignorant people do that. I am sorry if I have stepped on some toes, but it IS the truth. When the set is lost, stolen, or damaged, you WILL then believe me, even if you only lose ONE piece or pawn! Listen to me! I'll lose this argument at your peril.

The set, with a money back guarantee of terrific satisfaction, is $795 + $25 for shipping and packing, in the US of A. I will take credit cards, but if you send a check or money order, I will knock $20 off the price.

You can order it sight unseen or wait until I get the picture taken, the copy written, and so on. I wouldn't blame you, but like I said, I back this puppy 100%. I am so sure you wouldn't want to send it back for any reason I am willing to sell it sight unseen. And to answer one other question--"No, it is not some dipshit looking Staunton design." It's the real deal, in spades. It doesn't come with a letter of authentication (Staunton is DEAD!). It doesn't come with a few hair follicles from Staunton's scalp, and it doesn't come from Alabama (apologies to anyone reading this who is from Alabama).

If picking up the Knight and examining it is the first thing you always do, you will have to change your shorts when you look at this one! It is not a Craftsman set, that is the only one I would really put up against this, and it would cost you a whole ton more. I can't say it is a Jaques because I have no proof, even if it seriously reminds me of one... all I can say is that the WOW factor is off the frigging charts!

I hope you don't have to sell your first born, but, hey, at least consider it. How many extra cars do you own? Sell one. I am sitting here crying! I don't want to sell this even for $795 but I have to start somewhere. And I certainly don't want to display it in the Davenport Figge Museum (designed by a world famous architect).

If someone wants it right away, I will still take your name and put you on a list in the unlikely instance of it being returned. I only have UNO, and then, there will be none. It looks a lot like the set used in the Fischer-Spassky match of 1972, but as I said, I can't confirm its origins. You might, however, be interested in knowing I sold an ACTUAL set, one of 5, used in that very match for 7 times the cost of this one (but in all fairness, it also included a carrying "casket" (that's what they call them) which was worth almost $1000 itself!

If I can find it, I may have one other very valuable set available, which looks nothing like this one, also Staunton in design, but for which only ONE was made, and that was for the editor of CHESS, B.H. Wood. It's cost is a bit stratospheric, but I will look around and see if I have it before going hogwild. As you can tell, I really do want to go to this Super Conference. It's my FIRM belief that after this, you will see a completely different, and hugely improved, business model from what I have now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


It's pretty much impossible to keep up with ChessBase. They've created a juggernaut of software opening titles (mostly) with a few things on tactics and strategy tossed in for good measure. They come out with about 4 titles (or more) per month. Once ChessBase caught on, they had to keep publishing frantically like this to keep the cash flow going.

If there is one weakness to DVDs it is "attention." Not wandering attention, or distraction, but that to get much out of the DVD you have to sit and watch for some time (continuously). When Nigel Davies did his on the English it was 7 hours! Yes, it was a bargain, but it was a brain crusher.

We know (most of us anyway) that if we stop a DVD to take care of something else, our chances of picking it up again are like success in repeated marriages, about 50% of the last one!

For the presenter it makes sense to do a bunch of them at once to save on trips to Hamburg for ChessBase. And certain titles have no "spoilage date" because they are not about openings but timeless stuff--like Mikhalchishin's "Strategy University #4!"

I can't keep up! I get in a slew of DVDs only to find Germany has released two more that weren't available when my order was placed.

BUT.... BUT...BUT... DVDs have ONE terrific advantage if you can put up with the huge flow of information! Usually what you need to know, what is hot and current, is easy to find. If you are interested in the latest wrinkle of ZZZ, chances are, it's on the DVD.

As you may have guessed, a pile of DVDs came in yesterday... but I didn't order the quantities I usually do because getting "older" DVDs sold has become harder and harder because "newer" stuff is coming out faster than one can flush the john!

As I work on my new website (still under wraps) I realize my task will be formidable--keeping it current like in the old days. Every day people will pop in to see what's new or if I have that ITEM that was just announced overseas as if it is in the US right now! I explain all this stuff but getting everyone to read everything is a job! An impossible job.

Yesterday I got my latest 20 page marketing newsletter from Maryland. I read the first 6 pages, some more this morning, and will finish it off tonight and tomorrow. That is what MUST be done. Absorb it all, remember it like a chess variation. But it MUST be read. There were some good ideas in there. I have to take time out, somehow, somewhere, to take advantage of them to get my $$$s worth.

Tomorrow night I am going to be either giving a chess workshop on something fascinating I found a few days ago, or, better yet, look at a game recently played by a friend for comedy relief against someone who is trying to change his opening repertoire. My friend freely admits he was lost, but the guy who is changing his repertoire apparently has trouble in the "winning a won game" department. Should be full of hilarity and questions. Drop by. 6 p.m., 1101 W. 4th Street, Davenport, IA. If chess can't be about FUN, we've all missed the boat.

PS: I will be getting out a new Chess Gazette, #161, soon, with a clever article by Phil Millett.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Isn't that what the "Thing" in the Fantastic Four used to say as he was about to whip up on someone?

In Bent Larsen's case it is "Hammerin' Time."

I've had a LOAD of fun lately in putting together Larsen "kills" for the nest issue of The Chess Gangs of New York and London. He was a master basher. His pieces were all over the board in a sort of free fall but he knew, like God in the universe, where everything was and what counted.

He played all kinds of openings though he did have favorites.

I have been whittling down my selections from around 150 and it is REALLY tough. There are lessons all over his games. How to handle lots of WHAT ifs? I told one friend I may have to break Larsen into a Big book and a Chess Gangs book--he was that good from his early days to his prime years.

While he experimented it wasn't THAT much of an experiment. I think he had huge chunks of confidence in himself. After looking over his games he makes Fischer's technique look comparatively dry. He masters his subjects like David Bronstein. This is going to be a fun book. I almost hate to release it--the stuff is THAT good!

Won't be published until February. I know that is late, but I am timing that one and the next to get a much less expensive rate from my printer. It was unfortunate for those who buy from me that there weren't more who purchased over $100 worth of goodies from me in Nov.-Dec, but they were my two worst months last year! Of the 7 I have published so far, and there has been a lot of good ones, this one will be the best! While the price, in general, has been, $12.95, this one will depend on how much content it has, and the fact that Nov.-Dec. were lousy paired months. So as they say, "Size matters!" But those who purchased $100+ during those two months get theirs free no matter what the final price is.

A NOTE: I owe some Abbazia 1912s and some Petrosian Chess Gangs. Those should go out this week.

As always, appreciate your patience. Getting busier, need more hands, will do that when we get profitable.

Friday, January 13, 2012


This afternoon was one of those technological days. My internet connection was down. Don't know what causes it. I know others who have this service tell me that Mediacom sucks for them too.

Wanted to send out tomorrow reminders about the JANUARY 14th tournament at my chess hall (not the Monty Hall). Finally got them out about 6:45 p.m.! Is "better late than never" true?

Trying to get people to show up in spite of snow falling the other day. Everyone knows that the main streets and highways have been cleared but somehow it's a nice convenient reason (excuse) for staying home. Here's the problem. I would like to stay home once in a while too but I can't because a couple people (nice people obviously) will show up because for them, that particular day, playing chess is IN their bones.

Steve Lamansky, Earl Zismer, and Ed Reedy plan on playing. Anyone else?

If I just knew, for certain, no one else would show up tomorrow, I would stay home and finish up my inventory! But people don't call to say they aren't coming. In fact, most, according to other TDs I know, don't call to say they are coming either. I wonder if I had the Folies Bergere here if it would bring them in? (Probably not chess players.)

The only time I cancelled since August start of the GCC is one day when one person showed up and the furnace gas was out. Couldn't find anything wrong. Service man told me it was the best and easiest money he ever made. He couldn't find anything either. $90 just like that. To make me "feel" better we shot the bull a little bit. He thinks the gas line had an obstruction. "What?" I asked, incredulously. He said it might have been a spider. Yeah, you and me both want to know how spider webbing gets in there.

Hopefully good for another 10 years. Furnace is working great. I have the room preheated before we open up. Tables and chairs and sets all ready to go. Just waiting for customers. Reminds me of the old saloons where the barkeep and one drinker are the only one's in the place. Couple days later, a hanging, or something, is about to take place, and it is packed.

We need something to hang this Saturday! Volunteers?


Thursday, January 12, 2012


We are a quick self-gratification society. I found this out again yesterday when I went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. My friend wanted to see it too so we agreed upon the time to be there, bought our tickets... sat down and... he starts sniffling... badly. Last night and today I have a cold. I just got over one. Now I hope I haven't given this one to anyone because I did my usual workshop on Thursday night at the GCC but I really kept my distance, didn't shake any hands, etc.
Last week I pretty much stayed home.
Do people have to want to do something so much they don't care who else gets "hurt?" I think so, too much anyway.

We had a small "crowd," tonight, two people who braved the roads which had the snow cleaned off of! When I was a kid we loved "snow days" when I was going to elementary or HS, we just didn't have many of them. When it snows in the midwest the first reaction by many is to either:
a) Stay home (and supposedly their driving skills will get better when it snows the next time!);
b) Go out and drive slower than molasses thereby creating huge long lines and someone willing to take a risk and cause an accident;
c) Drive like nothing matters and end up wrapped around a tree (kids); or
d) Drive like you've done this "driving thing" before and it will all be OK.

It's a little different with chessplayers who tend to play the same old stuff game after game (if their opponent lets them). Tonight we discussed a Queen's Gambit (which I do not play, but, I like it!). Pillsbury-Wolf, 1903 Monte Carlo. Showed a real cool example of a crushing K-side attack with pieces rather than pawns and the Pillsbury Formation. You missed a great one, plus a couple "inside secrets."

This Saturday we have a rated tournament at the Gentlemens Chess Club (GCC). Starts at 10 a.m. 4 rounds. For those who aren't going to let a little snow deflect them. One of these days all the stars will align and we will have more than 10 there. Steve Lamansky is coming in from Ankeny. Thank you Steve. Maybe Earl Z in Dubuque? The problem is getting "locals," it's too far!! (Explanation: I want to stay inside.)

This is the perfect tournament to shake the "rust off." Usually no big hitters, chances for players of similar skill to torture each other. Somebody invariably does well. EF is cheap, $30 I think. $25 if a GCC member. $2 less if you let me know by midnight tonight that you are coming.

I chide, I wrassle, I allow no lousy excuses to deflect my life's path. If I play I play. I do not call at the last minute and copout. There are people who can be counted on, I love them the most. The busiest people are the biggest doers. The other "I don't have time" people often are those with more time than I have.

It's almost 9:15, I will get back to finishing up SCORE because I do not have a TV. And I discovered a long time ago, we may have weathermen, but so far none of them have figured out a way of CHANGING THE weather. Last week I got around to getting some new tires on the back end of my vehicle. It ran great in this messy weather. I saw people driving around on "donuts!" (and they were stuck!)

Do something different, play this weekend at 1101 W. 4th St. in Davenport. Stay warm inside, have fun. Remember when you were younger and still had fun, even when there was snow outside? Do it again. The #1 aphrodisiac in chess is "winning." It's not greed, it's great!


PS: Mark Flowers and Justin Gilbraith showed tonight. Thanks guys, I had preheated the building at 4:45 and it was great inside. Shoveled the walks, and put out ice melt on the sidewalks. Do you think I wanted to do that? Just do what ya gotta do, that discipline makes you a better chess player.

Monday, January 9, 2012


A vote doesn't mean the outcome is right, never has, it just represents a consensus of those willing to get out of their La-Z-Boy recliner.

But here's a letter I got the other day from a southern Master, Mike Stewart:
"Hope you reprint GM RAM this year. All the great books I've bought from you over all these years, that's the very best!
"It's old time hard work, weights instead of machines. Rocky vs. Drago!"

Others have told me they want to see Extreme Chess by Purdy reprinted.

Others want to see the Purdy series called The Art of Annotation (4 vols) redone. And I've thought about combining vols. 1-2 and 3-4.

There are those who are interested in Soltis expanding on his Confessions of a Chess Grandmaster.

I keep getting requests for The Genesis of Power Chess by Les Ault and Practical Chess Analysis by Mark Buckley. Both authors have consented to reprinting. Can I sell them to the USCF? That is doubtful. Since the new owners have taken over they've bought ONE title of mine and nothing else! (The Chess Gospel of John*)

My main guess is that the reason people want these books is because they have heard they were good or great (and other books too) and now that they have wanted to get them, the prices that some of the savages want on the net are completely looney.

I've even had one reseller tell me he would take 100 but I don't believe him. If I reprint a book he takes only half or I have to remind him that they are available 30 times (only a slight exaggeration!). Resellers want to fill a short term demand with long range promises. Remember that.

The ONLY buyers who count are YOU. And based on past experience, lots of people just won't stick their neck out. They know a new edition will cost more (duh!) but I can say it will be a lot less than the jerkwaters out there want for their copies.

Cool statistic: I've bought lots of chess book collections over the years and I have noticed, time and again, the only way TPi books are included is when the collector has passed away OR, is getting rid of EVERYTHING (lock, stock, and barrel). Many collectors hold back TWO major items: My 60 memorable Games and TPi books.

The books I will most likely do first are the ones which will get the most BUYING VOTES. For example, someone told me that scanning around the web there are people who still want The Genesis of Power Chess. But the book was set in type and pasted up. I no longer have those mini-computer files of the books so I would have to reset it from scratch and that is a lot of time and work! That was the FIRST color cover I ever designed and it was based on the colors of then Apple Computer's logo. The Apple tree in the Garden came to mind which of course brought to my mind Genesis 1 in the Bible. Rob showed me how to use some software back then and that's how it happened. If you did a book with me, wouldn't YOU want to have a back story? I don't have to make them up, they just come to me, often after some contemplation. In our ADHD society today no one wants to take the time to do value work: "Get it over with" is one of the mantras.

Wait till you see what we have planned for David Rudel's next two books. Jarringly good! Expensive and hugely time consuming. They will no doubt get criticized by GM Kevin Spraggett who must have nothing else to do in Portugal where I am sure Mr. Rudel's income from his books makes Mr. KS look more like a sap than a Vermont maple tree. David puts out thoughtful, good research and no doubt laughs all the way to the bank. Don't pay any attention to those who love putting down the efforts of others. Let's see, what has Spraggett done in the book line? Hmmm. Nada? DVDs? Hmmm... nothign there either.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Very recently "Jason" commented on my comments about the "Cheating Rybka Scandal" and mildly taking me to task for not exonerating Rajlich the way Riis did in parts 3 and 4 of the ChessBase article on this mess.

I can't respond part by part because Google doesn't give me the email addresses of those who comment and he (Jason) didn't leave one. That's not all bad because I certainly wouldn't have the time to answer everyone. But I go back to my roots of asking a "reviewer" who panned a book I published to let me answer his comments. Which he wouldn't do. In fact, there were two such people.

When I and a NM who helped me with the book (and the author) responded to the critiques with a point by point rebuttal we couldn't get any traction because "they" were better known, and surprisingly, bigger a-------! There were bigger issues and they wouldn't deal with those instead taking a book they didn't like and in effect, making up complaints (trying to make it look like they were being "fair" when in reality they weren't at all) that held no water. So, Jason has his say and he asks if I would have a change of heart.

In all honesty, I lightly skimmed articles 3 and 4 because they were too long and I would come across points which I felt Riis still wasn't answering in full (but I didn't want to make the article but even longer!) He deluged us with "data." An old lawyer trick.

I invite everyone who is interested to read articles 1-4 in full (not me, too much to consume) and form their own thoughts and reasonings. It was my understanding that initially Rajlich did admit to taking some Fruit code and now Riis says "no" and then adds, and what if he did, "it wasn't important?" Doesn't that call into question two things:
1) Who reported he admitted doing it initially? Was it true?
2) If it wasn't important, then why was it taken in the first place?

And I addressed a question to the panel, which I never saw covered: In effect, "If Fruit was so important, why wasn't it a better and more well known program than Rybka?" Basically, Rybka must've been quantum leaps better at something to maintain it's degree of "sophistication." What was that "something?"

And of course my initial question, way back, "Why was ChessBase saying nothing until now?"

Being the commercialist that I am, I suspect there is a newer Rybka version about to spring forth. Secondly, the money and "prestige" that Rajlich got initially might have been flattering, but if I had "invented" Rybka, I would care little about the Computer organization (just another damn organization of which we don't need more), the small amounts of monetary awards, and instead be more concerned about universal sales and royalties.

Maybe Rybka isn't as good as everyone thinks it is because it works with multiple CPUs (clusters) and the like... but since most of us can't afford all that and are concerned about what works well on OUR duo-core or quad-core computers (PCs) that should have been addressed too.

Personally, my #1 choice for data analysis is Deep Rybka 4. But when I don't like the answers I see, I turn on Fritz or Shredder.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Of course if you answer "no" she might say, "Well, what does?" Are you going to say, "That box of cookies you ate last night and the week before might've contributed."

Sometimes you have to be careful how you answer a question, like if the fate of the entire free world depends on your answer.

But often a simple "No" should suffice. For example, you need a 4th person to run a rated quad and you ask 3 other people and they all say "Yes" they will come. One of them answers, "It looks good." That may be a problem. The day of the event arrives and you get a phone call. You can tell by their voice they just got up and are looking for a dodge to get out of playing. Could they have said, the day before, "No I won't be playing." Naw, you see if they put it like that it sounds too determinate, and "No" can be such an offensive word. But pulling out, having no conviction in the first place, I think most of us find that intensely more offensive than the word"no."

What in the heck is going on in this country? There is more weaseling than ever. In the past month or so I have had several German chess resellers contact me about distributing my products, and one other who told me last year, he would be putting in an order. I require payment in advance and they know that, but still they hope I will relax the rules for THEM. If I don't get paid (or they take forever), it's a long trip to Germany isn't it?

If I follow up and get more affirmation, "Yes, I want this stuff" it may be followed by, "In Germany there is a law where we have to pay an additional 19% import fee." My answer, "So what? Complain to your politicians." On the other hand, it is these excessive fees which are probably bailing out Europe in the first place.

But it's stall, stall, stall because they can't say "no." Why? Most likely they are afraid someone else will barge in the line in front of them with the guts, the glory, and the $$$. This has been going on for a couple years. I have one more reseller I will be trying. I've had good comments about him from people I know whereas the three jackals I have been dealing with all say the other guy is a jerk and imply "slow pay" or "no pay." But none of the three have said anything negative about the no. 4 guy. In business you just keep trying. If he and I work a deal guess who I am going to recommend my German customers go to?

But it isn't just the business guys. I heard from a guy in Brazil a month or so ago who wanted a bunch of TPi stuff from me. $400-$500. He asked 2 questions. I answered them both although in one I asked if he could explain question #2 because I didn't understand it. He's gone silent (I've sold to him before). Could he write and say "I've changed my mind?" Nope. That's too chivalrous. In general, when dealing with "bargainers" they want you to make some kind of counter offer. Hey, I haven't even seen the glint of their silver! And are these one-sided rules? Am I "playing" by their rules? My rule: "Get the $$$ first, commitment follows."

Lots of folks out there with extra time on their hands to play.

Having been in business for 40 years I can't say I've "seen them all," but am pretty familiar with human psychology, and manners, and civility is getting harder to locate. Too often the younger generation thinks nothing of standing up someone. I thought this only happened in dates. Nope, a disease. Later they might open a business (ha) and wonder what is the matter with their customers????

There's a place in the New Testament where Jesus said, "Let your 'yes' mean yes and your 'no' mean no." Good advice. Makes everything plain and not ambiguous. On the other hand, answering the question about "big butts," that's a different matter.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I hope to release this today... more from the Hong Kong collection where the owner told me:

"Your descriptions sounded so good that I was almost tempted to order some of the books. I liked reading your descriptions!"

Two lists have already been released (you can order the first two if you missed out). List #3 is a little bit different and features a wide array of excellent titles. Plus, for color, I'm tossing in a few pictures as well as the descriptions.

As time travels on, without delay, some of these will become more and more difficult to locate despite the tendency of some to think eBay is the only answer to anything. I've seen, first hand, an eBay freak who knew the price of many things (every thing??) and yet no matter what the price, he NEVER bought ANYTHING! Constant jabber, picayunish remarks, but he would NEVER pull the trigger. He was 180 degrees the opposite of a spendthrift.

Lots of hardcovers but also some books which maintained a degree of focus on certain topics. I especially like anything on Alekhine, special talents such as Bologan and Tony Miles, and such. There are not many (any?) openings books in this collection--none I can think of offhand.

FREE. Just send me your email address and full name.

Thanks again for buying at G&L CHESS. We can't fix your car or recommend Art Deco furniture (although I would try!) but we know a couple things about chess.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Years ago my Philadelphian friend Manfred Roessler cooked up a list of chess collectibles. It was TPi's first book, Chess in Art (1973?). I think we made 200 of them. I imagine it is rather scarce. On that list we had paintings and other chess objects. But, he collected other chess stuff too like, if I recall correctly, cigar bands, while I was selling chess on stamps stuff (I still have huge inventory if anyone is interested in taking that off my hands).

We both knew about the Pepperidge Farms cookies with the chess symbols on them. Chess, literally, not figuratively, has been used in about everything.

A couple weeks ago I picked up a box of cookies for $2.95 with the name cafe BISTRO. Most of us have seen cookie selections before but besides the white and dark chocolate profile of a chess knight these cookies are outstandingly good!

There are shortcake cookies, chocolate chip cookies, neopolitaners (chocolate covered wafers), butter cookies, almonds, and more. I don't know what a "chokie" is but I ate it too. The chocolate is delicately threaded throughout the whole line. Enough to interest and satisfy but not so much you'll gag, and I doubt if you can eat just one unless you are a hardcase.

The copy on the box says "Cafe Bistro cookies are to be eaten slowly, savoring every bite." Take them at their word, you will enjoy them immensely.

$2.98 you say? Where? If you have an Aldi's, they probably have them. Maybe they exist online (you can look that up). I like Godiva as chocolates, but I don't think if they made cookies they would taste any better than this.

They are called Continental Assorted Cookies and they come with dark, milk and white chocolate. Scrumptious, and a great stress reducer on you AND the wallet. This is NOT a paid advertisement, I just "like 'em."

PS: We start the New Year tomorrow night at the Gentlemens Chess Club with a Botvinnik game on the French and next week, a tournament in the evening.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


It's on fire again, the opening. Yes, recently Carlsen and Nakamura have played it. Both won. Nakamura's may have been "iffy" but the point is, Black has to KNOW a lot! If caught by surprise (had Naka played it before?) it can be dreaded. If the guy did play it "once" before, did he stop playing it because of that one time?

In other words, lots of questions to answer. And Nakamura is liable to play anything.

Many years ago, when the King's Gambit was in one of its lulls, Thinkers' Press published a book by Larry Christiansen and Bob Raingruber (and maybe Manual Joseph?). It had three printings, which for TPi was a big deal.

Then later came Gallagher's book and after that, into hiding again.

Since I knew that tournament books don't do too well anymore (which is unfortunate because a TB is a lasting memory of the many things that happened. And it's in ONE book not spread over a search revealing 10 bazillion entries like we get when a Search is made.

When I decided to do Abbazia 1912 (I even like the name!) I knew it wouldn't do very well as a tournament book, so I cut it to an openings books and a tactics book. I don't know if that was the right decision yet but I have sold over 20% of the 100 I had printed and I really haven't even had a chance to push it. You'll probably hear more about it soon, if I haven't run out.

Now I understand that a book on the King's Gambit is scheduled by Quality Chess and one other company (?) I've heard the schedule has slipped on the King's Gambit book, so we don't know when (if) it will actually show.

In the meantime our "puppy" is $30 and shipped anywhere in the USA for free. If you are from out of the country, add $5.00 and I will go through the custom's form filling out process and post it to you first class. Already I am getting orders for it from overseas.

Thanks... that's it for now.

PS: Any comments on yesterday's ChessBase piece on Rybka or my reaction? More has been posted by CB today and it has that "irritating ring" of yelling loud enough to not only make a point, but to follow old lines of logic that if one is forceful enough, the argument itself, whether true or not, beats the opponent into sob-mission.

Monday, January 2, 2012


At last ChessBase acknowledges there's been something "rotten" in Denmark about Rybka 4.1. (ChessBase and Convekta manufacture commercial versions of Rybka.)

A Dr. Soren Riis has begun outlining an article (paper?) in two parts. What he sets forth is less than exciting--even following code could be more interesting.

How he defends and/or proposes to defend Rybka's creator, IM Vasik Rajlich is enough to drive anyone to distraction or else it is a lesson on how to become an expert in ADD (attention deficit disorder). I "knew" in advance the line of defense would follow along the path of, "how much copying" is infringement? Basically, "what percentage of code is present in Rybka that was in Fruit?"

In a way that is an interesting question and does point to a problem with the investigating body's laws. Rajlich himself says that anything he copied was, in effect, fair use, and not that important to the case. Aha, any decent lawyer (is there such a thing?) would pounce on that remark. If it wasn't important, why was it included in the first place? Did he even state that in the coding? (I don't think he did.)

In an article in the most recent issue of Photoshop User, the subject of "fair use" comes up and the author rightly says that in many cases "fair use" is up to the courts to (actually) decide and that in a large number of cases we see "fair use" being claimed when in reality it isn't "fair" at all. On YouTube, for example, songs and videos are dotted everywhere with the "exclusion clause" of something like, "I am not the owner of this work but am putting it forth under article whatever in the copyright law as fair use and for educational purposes." The claim isn't vague, but it's intents to publish something created by someone else is waaaay over the top. All the "owner" of the copyright has to do is claim infringement and Google takes it down (you are aware Google owns YouTube aren't you?) Google is the pervasive company that was going to scan as many books and magazines and newspapers as it could, willy nilly, and store that data online for all to see and use regardless of who actually created the content. Publishers and authors, so far, have halted that.

The article on the ChessBase website itself needs drastic editing as many (75%?) statements are repeated again. The game positions are shown only once (thank God) but reading the article feels like deja vu all over! I estimated 75% because, unlike what Riis claims, unerring, undying accuracy to defend "copying" by "how much is enough," I am not in a court of law and not wasting my time counting words.

He (Riis) admits to the vitality and erudition of many (that number again) of the 32 programmers used on this "case" to determine how much Rajlich violated the ICGA's guidelines. Unless these guys have an axe to grind, they should have HUGE "weight" on this problem... that is, they recognized "naughty, naughty" WHEN THEY SAW IT (Riis tries to make light of this concept to some degree (vague again)).

As a former programmer myself (Fortran) I only have two questions:
1. Everyone codes differently no matter what this article says. We use different variable names, include comments (or not) and using loops, or whatfors, etc. may be similar but often there are various ways of "skinning the cat" so was Rajlich's stuff "straight copying or not?"
2. Even IF Rajlich did take common use code (say from a published search algorithm available for wide use) WHAT made his program superior to all the others in terms of rating strength? Was it a combination of using the BEST of OTHERS works or what? If the best was not plagiarism, that is, previously existing code (available to all), then there is no problem.

(Recall Kasparov's never ending complaint against Deep Blue's cheating. GM Joel Benjamin answers Kasparov in American Grandmaster. Kasparov was, to put it plainly, incredibly embarrassed when he called his 6th move of the last game a "fingerfehler." Does it get any weaker than this? Blaming his finger? No, blame the programming.)

But the fact that somewhere short of 32 "experts" deciding on this matter constitutes "proof" they come up with: "Rajlich, you've been a very bad boy," is most likely enough in an investigation of this type. Certainly the ATF had no damning, and absolute photo evidence of Mr. Anthrax when they said in a report that they believed Bruce Ivins was the one responsible for the anthrax deaths. Their report was very deep. One researcher admitted, as soon as she heard the case, the first person she thought of was Ivins. Only the "conspiracy theorists", who must be the same people in the questions of the Kennedy assassination, the no man on the moon blow up, etc. would be impossible to convince. (Although it's a shame that the "investigators of the Kennedy assassination" weren't available for the Warren investigation to call upon. It's tricky when the "government," in effect, investigates itself.)

The semantics of "how much" is supposed to allow avoidance of contempt. Who says so?

It would have been much easier for Rajlich, at the very beginning, to just include in the program, "I used Mr. X and Mr. Y's code for purposes of blah blah blah, but the implementation and organization is all mine and this program will kick anyone else's ass!" And until Houdini came along, it did. Now, can we ask at this point how "original" Houdini's code is?