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.

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