Wednesday, February 29, 2012


This is a big opportunity for You!

In 2000 I hosted Chess Festival #2. One of the celebrity guests was Ken Whyld, famed as one of the great chess historians; he also had a column in the monthly BCM magazine Quotes and Queries.

One of the things I asked the 20+ people who were coming were to submit questions to Ken, in advance, so he could properly research them. As friend Ed Y. noted, Whyld received few questions. I think Allan S. was another who submitted questions, perhaps, I think it was, about the Capablanca-Alekhine 1927 match.

Gee whiz.... Does everything have to be a bribe? Are readers, and ponderers that busy that even when they come to an event like that they don't EVER have any questions? Did everyone think someone else would keep the ship floating? It was the customers' event or I would have asked Ken a hundred questions even at the risk or annoying the attendees! Fact is, on our trip to the Quad-Cities from Chicago's O'Hare airport Ken and I discussed a ton of things such as: "What strong chess player was going for a PhD in Chess History but failed his orals?" Ken came up with the question but not the answer. He said, "Bob you would have done much better," implying that I would have been Dr. Long (he gave me some sample questions and they weren't that tough). Wow, I missed my chance to have a Phud in something!

I guessed at who I thought it was and he still wouldn't tell me. My guess? I think mine was on the money, but I will only tell you if you come to one of my events, esp. the one this October. Ken was one of a couple on the chess doctoral committee for Oxford University. Imagine having a PhD from Oxford. One of my nieces has one, but I forget the subject. Maybe English Lit.

At a Chess Clinic in 2010
I don't come up with little projects for no reason, there is always a reason, and it always is for something in the future and chessy. At a clinic several years ago I put out an illustrated paper featuring 12 famous chess people and of those 12 only one was possibly hard to identify so the trick was to get 11 and the other would pop out by default.

Some "guesses" were so bad that it told me I was getting my leg pulled (why waste our time?) or the person really need some chess lessons on what was going on beyond 1.e4.

At Chess Clinic IV I had a slew of caricatures of chess personalities and only one person got them all correct... GM Alex Yermolinsky! And he was one of the caricatured! Several others did very well, but Alex was the One who got them all and you probably thought he wasn't paying attention.

Definite Reasons
So... I have definite reasons for this question and here it is: To PULL people into a chess community, or a club, the newcomers always have "hidden" questions. They are often afraid to ask these questions for fear of looking dumb (that's dumb in itself). For example, if it is your first tournament, other than "Where is the bathroom or when does the next round start?" what might you ask someone so you would feel welcome or oriented while at the tournament site? That's a question, not so tough. Yes I might get, "How is my rating calculated" but you can go to the USCF web site for that information--that would be MY answer. Nope, Google does not have the answer to every chess question (I know I use Google or Bing all the time and the website, or one like it, always comes up and they don't have the answers to 75% of my questions).

High School and Babes
Belly up guys... don't always look to the person next to you like you did in High School.

I am trying to compile a list of the most commonly asked questions about chess. One of them I have already heard and been asked a million times is, "What chess book(s) should I study?" (I am glad they don't ask, "What one chess book should I study?" because the answer might be 10,000 pages thick!)

If I were some hot chick with great assets I am sure I would get all kinds of questions, but when it comes to something we should all be interested in, no one can be that lazy, can they? I read recently that people go to blogs for entertainment, relaxation, etc. and NOT to have to do anything where they exert themselves. OK, I already know that. But I only ask questions like this once a month!

For just 30 minutes I would like to be Garry Kasparov and ask you to send me questions. I am sure I would get MORE than enough dumb ones, but at least I would get them. And what might look dumb to me is usually not dumb to someone else. Here's a dumb one: Why are the squares on a chessboard black and red (or some set of colors)? Who cares? Here's a good one: "I'm kind of a conservative type (or aggressive type) what kind of openings would you recommend for me?" Literally there are thousands of questions which do not include, "What do you think about the French Defense?"

My goal is to catalog these and to find out what people are thinking. Then I will present my findings to schools or anyone who will listen.

You can send your questions (5 or 10?) to:

Last Question????
There I have even provided the link for you to send questions. You don't even have to include your name if you wish to remain that anonymous. My last question is for you to "guess" the name of the babe in the picture of this post! No it's not Vava Voom! Well, maybe it is.

Monday, February 27, 2012


When you send me your email address because you enjoy chess, I will send you a copy of a recent issue of The Chess Gazette. This is a cool newsletter because lately we've featured stories by John Hilbert and Phil Millett. (I encourage the sending of new stories.)

New items are mentioned too and discussed. There may be some sale items... this publication has been free since the 1980s!

And there are TIPS! For example I was at a recent tournament and one of the TOP players there offered a "secret" of some considerable importance to rating improvement. If you have watched either or both of the two Play Like Tal DVDs by Simon Williams, you will have an idea of what he was talking about. This will probably be touched upon in the next issue of CG.

It's easy to be on an email list and never do anything with the stuff sent to you. In fact eventually someone will ask to have their email address removed and I always comply. I have no idea why it took them so long in the first place.

Second Topic
What would it take to get you to come to a rated chess tournament?
The TD at this tournament suggested bigger prizes. That may be true but I told the TD I think it is more than that.

At any rate please send me REALISTIC reasons. That is, try to avoid the all inclusive and silly stuff. For example:
1. Free Food
2. Free Entry Fee.
3. No Stronger Players or Only Weaker Players.
4. Allow cell phone use during games or something else outlandish.

Must be things that would cause you to move from the couch to actual play. We are trying to build a consensus here. Myself I figure it would have to be something outrageous because the competition heats up among other alternatives such as texting, smartphones, and watching movies from Netflix.

One person pointed out to me recently that socially the world has gone insane preferring handling social matters via Twitter, Facebook, etc. rather than face-to-face talk. As I passed by a restaurant table over the weekend I saw a couple with their small child (and being ignored by parents) who was eating and the parents each on their cellphone tapping stuff in. The kid will eventually feel disconnected and the parents will get divorced because they had "nothing in common" or there were communication difficulties!

Before there was a dearth of tournament directors. Now there are plenty but few audiences of any size or worth. The number of local players at this weekends' Quad-Cities championship was less than one-third of the people who attended (26)! Isn't this crazy? It points out that there are other problems locally than poor attendance at my own events. I've heard it is like this in other "chess communities" too. At least that's what mail to me suggests!

One Possible Solution
A FAST solution would be something like the USCF giving Bonus Points for attendance and reducing ratings for non-play throughout the year (we already have rating inflation at the top end so this isn't going to hurt anything). That is Kids would lose no points for non-play for a year, adults of different age strata would (this would bring some people to the tournaments who won't play for fear of their rating dropping--well it would drop anyway!). I know an 1800 player who is probably 1600 by now because he hasn't played rated chess in 20 years and he still thinks he is an 1800 rated player! Psychologists or aging experts could figure the arithmetic on this. It is done in IQ tests (by age) and some years ago FIDE, decrepit dolts they can be, gave women chess players of a certain standing an extra 100 rating points because the difference between them and some other top female star (J Polgar?) was so huge. That was ridiculous but something could be done.

One Big Complaint Against Kids
1. Adults do not enjoy playing against "kids." Usually they will lose to them.
2.Some kids have bad manners such as when they are winning their friends crowd around and there is this "silent glee" present about beating the "old guy." They have other bad manners such as frequently leaving the table (bored) after they have made their move.
3. Kid ratings are usually WAY inaccurate and unduly punish adults who play them as a result of getting paired against them. A kid at age 8-9 might have a beginning rating of 1000 (let's say) but as he gets enthused about chess, he starts winning against weaker players, then stronger players, but may only gain 30-50 points at a time. It may take him a dozen or more tournaments to get to 1600-1800 but he is already playing at a level MUCH higher than his rating indicates. Why the USCF hasn't done anything about this is beyond me.
4. Losing to girls bothers people too. I lost to one once, some high school kid. You just have to get over it.

If you legislate "kids can only play kids" then you run the risk of ignoring a future Capablanca or Morphy. So there should be some kind of Graduation Process. I hear it time and again, Adults DO NOT like losing to kids. The kids Adults can beat usually do not come to tournaments. When they do their ratings are often not high enough to play against the really strong players. As one TD told me recently (and I know this to be a fact in my own tournaments), "There are few Class C and B players any more. That is true!

So, thoughts on these matters WILL be published in The Chess Gazette and I really encourage some soul searching and thinking on this... and then do something. Maybe then I will be able to make a suggestion to the USCF which will carry some weight.


Friday, February 24, 2012


Friday, 8 p.m. $25. That's what it costs to enter Kevin Hyde's chess tournament at the Lodge in Bettendorf, Iowa. I'll be there tonight because I don't want to get up early this Saturday morning and play three games in 1 day. A nice alternative Kevin, thanks.

If readers know anything about the midwest we were hit with snow, drizzle, probably some icy conditions too last night. As I look out my office window it is white everywhere except for the streets where cars have been. No sun, just cloudy, limiting the vitamin D which "rains down."

Hope you can make it. Unless it gets worse, which I don't think it is supposed to, I will be there.

Shoring Up
Haven't played chess, rated, in a while, this will either show what I know or don't know, and where the weak spots are. Last night I was reading a book I have never read before and wish I had. It would have helped save me a lot of blood and sweat. Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals.

When I was younger I thought of Jose as a sort of pompous chess guy because I was a big Lasker fan. Lasker's conditions for a WCC title match were a little too strenuous. Capablanca wouldn't fight anyone until Alekhine and his backers came up with the prize loot. Everyone has their problems including you and I. As I got older I realized Capa was was just a terrific player and chess ambassador. Even more so, his books explains well but the layout, the continuous and long paragraphs interspersed with Descriptive Notation makes reading the book an unqualified dreary process. I want to see if I can do something about that.

The Black Gold Card
Lots of good news is being withheld until, like Baron Munchausen, all the "ducks are in a row." In the meantime more Black Gold Cards are being sold as we gear up for a great 2012. The Chess Butler is closing in on last year's numbers and have some new additions. Having a Black Gold Card (and I was "talking" to the maker of an actual card yesterday) is finally some "recognition" to chess as a mental bloodsport worth noting. I am trying to look for an alternate supplier of such club membership cards because it looks like ONE company has all the business and they dot the web with many different names. They have all kinds of sales people and so you know someone, somewhere, must be out there that can supply said cards at a much more reasonable price than $200 for 500 cards (!)

In the meantime you can contact me at:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Some years ago when Thinkers' Press' publishing business was going full tilt I was often asked this question, even by my own father. Yes, it is a key to GOING someplace, you have to have customers.

For one thing I did a lot of traveling on the ground, to various tournaments. For another I advertised in Chess Life classifieds.

But the third thing was the most elusive. I had books in bookstores such as Borders and Barnes & Noble (and other places). That is hard to do anymore since Borders is gone and B&N prefers to sell online as opposed to what most of their stores carry in the chess line.

Word of mouth was a biggie or some piece of news plastered somewhere. One morning we got an order for 5 of the same title from different parts of the country. How do you explain that? The only thing I can think of is that someone, somewhere, posted some positive comment and people liked what they read and voila! It wasn't easy to get that commentary and it definitely didn't come from bigger organizations such as the USCF because they jealously guarded their sales to members. They hated competition so much that when I put a display ad in Chess Life for MY books they put a competing ad on the opposite page for the very same books! Someone who knows nothing about business might say "What do you care, your books are being sold!?" Well numbnuts, my ad was placed with the idea that I would get all the profit, not just a smaller percentage PLUS I paid for the ad!

Potential authors would go through the chess section of various stores, see my books there and contact me about doing THEIR book. If they also bought regular chess books from me they would definitely get more consideration but some of these non-business authors never seemed to think of that... it would be more FUN for TPi to promote their book, to my own customers, IF they were also one of my customers. This used to happen a lot!?

Loyalty in Sales
Today with the internet, blogs, and lots of people writing about things they know little about, it is much more difficult. There are buyers who love what is done at The Chess Butler but who won't tell their friends and my guess is: they don't want them to know about this "secret" source--or they are afraid I will tell their friends what their friend is buying (in the openings section)--not realizing I have to schedule time to hit the john I'm so busy. Speculation can run rife. I once sold $1400 worth of books to someone preparing for a title shot at Kasparov. This guy was serious and knew I would keep this secret.

Local "Experts?"
I recall an instance where a player at a local club disappeared for 6-8 months. He was throttling around 1400-1500 and when he came back his rating started growing 200-300 points (no joke). Not one of them could figure this out. One came to me and said, "What happened to Mr. B?" Turning to the befuddled petitioner I said, "It's obvious, he's been getting coaching." Of course they wanted to know by who. I remember saying something like, "Well it's clear it isn't from anyone at this club (that was a joke)." I had an idea who it was because TPi was a seminal collector of chess info from around the area and region. I talked with people who talked with me. One day I ran into the supposed "culprit" at Borders. He was reading one of the "Predecessors'" books by Kasparov. No board or men, just reading the book. He was a strong player, at least stronger than the ones around here and I knew he had played in a Chicago Futurity at one time. I commented asking him if he would EVER buy the book he was reading and got a grin back... of course not... too cheap. He was the tutor.

But there was one other secret. The person who skyrocketed had bought two CDs from me and that HELPED his rating climb like a mountain goat! A few wanted to know what the CDs were. Now that he no longer plays I could probably reveal it, but instead I just replied, "You don't have the iron discipline to study those CDs because they are a pain in the ass." I knew that fellow did because he really was tired of being humiliated (we never felt that way, he did) at the club.

Connections AND an OFFER
It's important to assess and reassess all connections, former and hopefully future. But I am going to make an OFFER to the 30 people who are registered (in reading this blog) and to the many who read it and won't register....

IF YOU REGISTER (or are already registered)... I will give you FREE a copy of the CHESS GANGS OF NEW YORK (Lasker, Blackburne, Alekhine, Pillsbury, Capablanca, Petrosian, or Larsen) if you will send me the name and email address of a chess guy you know who would be more than a little interested in hearing from TPi (or The Chess Butler). If that person starts buying from TPi or The Chess Butler (my retail arm) I will send him his choice also! $26 plus postage given away for a "free" but "valid" referral. That's being SERIOUS.

It's insanity, but, I like that at times. It gets people's attention! I do want THEIR business, and yours.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012


If you have read much of what I've written over the years you know I detest most chess book reviewers. I can take criticism, but I wish we publishers could criticize the reviewers and get THAT kind of publicity!

For example while entering data last night for the web site I will be unveiling (trite) I came across some blurbs on the back cover of John Watson's Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy. I thought it was a good book, not totally ground breaking, but infused with many thought out examples. Yet, the commentary on the back cover seemed so pedant.

Well, finally someone has done it! I believe it was self-mocking, but a video review from the "esteemed" Washington Post is now available which makes fun of book reviewers. And the examples this fellow provides range from seriously inane to hilariously off the wall. So I post the link for you to get your daily quota of Funny Vitamins. That's it, Vitamin F.

If anyone out there is wondering how the PizzaPak Kit is coming along, I will tell you, the content, in my opinion, should make you happy about the wait!

Monday, February 20, 2012


First I asked for chess questions and I have started getting some! Thank you gentlemen. One fellow, Johnny Owens is going to submit more. That's great.

I know from years of personal experience that many people are reluctant  or unwilling to DO much of anything unless they are mad about something or have a strong disagreement. If I wrote that Garry Kasparov beat up old ladies after each time he lost a game, I would, no doubt, hear from some Kasparov fans. If I said Garry was the "best whoever was" I don't imagine I would hear from very many people under 35, to the contrary.

At present I am reading Robert Ringer's Winning Through Intimidation and it is a truly remarkable book--unfortunately out of print but you can find copies (except for mint first editions which command a very FAT price) if you try for under ten bucks. In that book Ringer states that to be a winner, with no doubt, at real estate (and everything else) it is absolutely essential to be prepared to the hilt. You also have to understand that your reality may not be someone else's reality (and he goes into depth to examine this).

He is Not Boring!
The book MAY sound dry but it is not. His case stories using only himself are exceptionally good. I know a lady who was a real estate broker who waited in the office of a buyer for a full eight hours to get her ten thousand dollar commission check! Without discussing why this jerk was trying to avoid her (once the sale was made he just didn't want to pay the commission and would avoid her!) she told me she did this 8 hours in the outer office because she had READ Ringer's book! Reading CAN be very good for you.

Ringer wrote another book called Looking Out for Number One. It too is worth owning because if you pay a few dollars for each of them you won't feel bad at all about writing in the margins or underlining. What Ringer does is CONFIRM appropriate and good actions (not just intentions) with a reward. If a person lives in the Twi-Light Zone and wears Polyanna glasses he shows you why things aren't going so well for them! Yes, more people may like you than he said liked him, but that is ALWAYS what happens as you "Leapfrog" over the Standard Way of Doing Things. It's jealousy, not work that is operational here. Mr. Ringer believes, and proves it over and over, that his Methods work on anything. I know one guy who has read it at least a half dozen times and I intend to read it at least twice myself. How often can I say that about chess literature?

The point I will make now is that while reading both of these books I related it to my business performances, successes, and failures... including chess! If you can extrapolate information like this it helps keep the Idea and Manufacturing section of oneself churning. One example of this is that I spent many hours last night working on notes for future presentations on HOW to develop an opening repertoire which all but guarantees chess improvement in the real world (THE real world).

When I tell students, customers, and/or friends that for 99% of them that online chess and speed chess doesn't contribute to their improvement they may agree and nod yes but they keep doing it anyway (not for fun but because they BELIEVE it is helping them in spite of what I've relayed to them). As Ringer writes (and even guys like Reuben Fine have written on this) "belief" and "wishing" something is true doesn't make it so. You have to Be Prepared, just like the Boy Scout motto. Don't believe that YOU are in that 1% category like those who believe THEY will win the lottery because they buy a ticket every week!

Now for Entertainment!
Two readers of this Blog reminded me about the story on Magnus Carlsen which aired last night on 60 Minutes. Regrettably I informed Bob W. and Steve L. that I did not have a working TV and had not watched TV in my own home since 1997. But Steve informed me that there was a link so that it could be watched through CBS. It was fun to watch. Notice that Carlsen, prodigy that he was, is basically a humble person. If you want to see it go to:;contentAux

Yes, here at the ranch I have some information I want to pass on that I am dying to tell you but clearances have to be made; "Timing is everything" someone once said. The news bears all the hallmarks of an "EXTRA EXTRA read all about it."

I hope you have a great Monday.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


This time I need some input from readers. If you send me a couple favorite questions of yours, concerning chess, I will do something for you. Yep.

Up to ten questions you would like to have answered.

And somewhere down the line I will add 10 questions you should have asked!

Be sure you send questions to my email address:, that way I will hopefully have your email address and your name so I can send you the PDF answers.

There are two types of questions I am looking for:

A) What you want to know an answer to (no analysis, I charge for that); and

B) What kind of effort have you made to find out, if any, this answer?

The problem, I know from experience, at least with the internet, is that people want quickie solutions to their problems but aren't (often) willing to put any of their own effort into finding out, especially if they Google or Bing it and Wikipedia doesn't know!

I don't mind different people sending me the same question. All I want is a genuine question(s).

I will do my best to answer these questions and make a PDF and send this information back to you (to those who give me an email address). So... none of this, "Why are the squares on a chessboard dark and light?" type stuff. This isn't chess philosophy 101.

This could be really worthwhile and I am willing to let this "effort" run for several days on my Blog. The most difficult people to hear from are those who think they know it all, already, whereas as historians like Edward Winter or Ken Whyld would have lots of questions. That's because they "know" (sort of) what they don't know... and there is a ton of that.


Friday, February 17, 2012


Guessing about Mr. X
Sometimes it takes time to get something right (or correct). While I myself seldom enter contests of any kind (the odds are usually horrible) my recent contest to GUESS who the persona of "Chess Gangs No. 8" is has struck a bell with those who were interested. I got more than half a dozen guesses as to who the International Master was who played at Grandmaster Strength. Overwhelmingly the vote was for Rashid Nezhmetdinov... and overwhelmingly incorrect. Thinkers' Press had already done such a book. But the guess was a good one though a little obvious I thought. There were a few other guesses, one which was plausible... but the Mystery Man known as "Mr. X" perseveres. The contest will close soon. If however a spate of people correctly guess I will be giving away 6 copies of that 40+ page book.

The interesting thing is that I have had tremendous fun putting this booklet together. If I say more it would quickly winnow the field. So you readers have another 2 weeks to send your guesses in. The book WILL include a number of his (a male obviously) essays.

An Emailing Later Today
Secondly, an emailing will go out later today or this evening with three other topics. Possibly all four on just ONE page. That will be brief enough as a reminder and detailed enough to get the gist. So look for it.

The other Topics will be:
2. The Black Gold Card.
3. SCORE 2
4. How to Set Up an Opening Repertoire.

Workshop: Setting Up an Opening Repertoire
Last night at the Gentlemens Chess Club workshop I began a series of "lectures" or briefs on how to set up a repertoire for playing in tournaments. It seemed to have gone over very well. A lot of times the BEGINNING is the hardest place to be because, chosen judiciously, everything else will follow--so.... how does one begin? I had notes. Eventually these will be put together and be a reason to join the Gentlemens Chess Club (GCC), at least for the next half year. They will be FREE to all current and Future GCC Members but when the notes are completed, FREEBIE status will be over.

Stay tuned.

PS: If you want to be a Country Gentleman, that is, a Member of the GCC from afar (out of town), the price is $50 for the next six months ending in August. My immediate Goals are two: (1) Get an actual plastic membership card (I am holding off because there may be some last minute changes--I am working with someone right now on that) and (2), to get a quickie web site up so at least we can have a calendar of events and a list of benefits for joining. If you want to leap frog all that and just get the HOW TO REPERTOIRE set up, send $50 today and you will be put onto the list.

PS: We are also looking at some cosmetic changes in the building where the club meets too. If you are a volunteer type, it will involve painting and masonry on the top of the building. We hope to transform the appearance to that of a Rook! Visible in town and through the state of Iowa. As I've said and written before: "Iowa is a well-kept secret" and most Iowans want to keep it that way...LOL. For chess we well make an exception.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Eliciting Information
When I've asked some lower ranked players why they don't play in tournaments I generally get TWO responses:
1. "I am tired of throwing my money away with no chance to win any!"
2. "I am waiting until I get better so I won't embarrass myself."

In general this information has been conveyed to me privately so I believe it has value and is truthful--as they see it.

My responses are based on real world experience and examples. I've been "in the field" for several decades! (1) People throw their money away on all kinds of stuff that are far more expensive than a chess tournament--getting a newer car, a bigger screen TV, buying an iPad when their computer is working just fine, etc. I don't have a problem with that at all, but it is disguising the real pain of losing money by going to chess tournaments.
(2) It is difficult for some who lose and who are not rewarded! They do forget their successes, often in a heart beat. Not that anyone wants to lose, but, everyone does lose. If you don't, you are playing in a pretty small pool of players and, not often! I knew ONE player who, "at the right time" entered a tournament and scored 3.5 out of 5! What no one else knew was that he and I played at lunch almost every day! How many of you get a chance to do that?

A Questionnaire
I have developed a Questionnaire... the Chess Butler's Questionnaire. The whole idea is to find out the truth before we look at a solution. You may have noticed over the years that when something "negative" happens I do not name names. If someone does something positive I am more than willing to shout it from the rooftops. (See my book "The Chess Assassin's Business Manual" for proof of this.)

When I put out this kind of Questionnaire I NEVER want a person to tell me what they "think" I want to hear; that means zero to me. If I am worth my salt as an instructor/evaluator my goal is for you to develop a "kick ass" attitude (very few opponents roll over and play dead these days). If I were a Boot Camp Sergeant when the time was over, you would be kicking ass and wouldn't care about whose names you were taking!

Tired of B.S.?
People rely TOO MUCH on a "rating" to measure THEIR value. Do you know that basically, in English-speaking countries I am one of the very few chess vendors who has a rating over 1800? (Many are in the 1200-1400 range!) The only reason I mention it is because for some reason it seems to put "trust" in my customers. In reality it shouldn't mean Jack IF one is only dispensing a product. On the other hand, if you hear of someone with a rating of 1200 dispensing advice on the King's Indian or the latest opening jolt... then their appraisal of a book or DVD is going to mean zippity-do-dah. Oddly, I have heard that kind of talk and their "friends" will listen with rapt attention! Sometimes it is because they talk a good story without really knowing what they are saying (because they have repeated it from something they've read). This is called B.S.

On the other hand, players from 1400-1800 are much harder to "educate" because they believe they can only learn from a Master, if anyone. My question then is, "So how much have you learned from a Master (any master) so far?" Usually, it is not much because what they NEED to learn is only PARTLY about chess!

In other words, the "art of getting better" is also about: psychology, self-discipline, motivation, and following the advice of someone who really does know MORE about what they are dispensing than you do. You may be looking for a secret recipe or sauce and not see it when it is offered! Most don't.

Back Tracking
Years ago, I had one person tell me ONE thing about my game which allowed me to raise my rating level 200 points. Later, another person told me ONE more thing, which allowed another 200 point increase. It really works and it wasn't about moves (so much)--it was about "correcting" what you are doing "wrong" and KNOWING more about yourself and what causes you to do what you do. Other things which caused another 100-150 point gain were LEARNED because of the Journey I was on. I believe, with a TUTOR for me, I could gain another 100-200 points and I know which areas I am really deficient in. But running this business is MORE than a full-time job and at my age, while I am willing to improve, the time is just not there. The IMPROVEMENTS I am talking about, for you, are more developmental than TIME oriented. That is, "Can you listen to advice and take it?" If not, you'll stay pretty much where you are.

A Few Examples
For example I know one person, right now, who has some tactical gifts. But other things he does prevents their practical application and success. I know another person who was risk-averse. His rating has since already shot up 100-200 points! Why? Because when he heard the same thing from TWO different sources, one a Master, the other ME, he realized, "There must be something to this... Bob Long doesn't even know this other guy!"

A friend recently told me she had the "gift of discernment." True, she does but it was more about others than herself! We often think we know ourselves better than anyone else, but sometimes those "personal facts" don't match up with the "outside facts." All of us see ourselves differently than those who seem to "know" us (all other things being equal).

If you are rated 800-1200 (USCF) and would like to be above 1400 as your first step, and are willing to send me $25 so I can send the questionnaire to you, that's a first start. The questionnaire, from a psychological viewpoint, is probably worth $150-200, but I am introducing it at $25 just to see if there are any people out there willing to step out on even a small limb. If, after the questionnaire and, my comments are deemed WORTHY to you (or a friend, acquaintance, etc... maybe school kids too)... then we can explore further how to GET further. But first things first. When prioritizing, there IS always a first step.

The Higher Rated
Like I said, the 1400 to 1800 crowd is more difficult to deal with because their ego issues are often off the chart (I had one tell me he thought he had a chance at becoming a Grandmaster! I told him he had to get past me first. As Reuben Fine once wrote, "Some are used to beating players weaker than they are, it's a natural human tendency.") Expectations can be unrealistic but when they ARE realistic, what are you willing to do NEXT to go further? Most people improve at chess like others improve at golf! Not at all!

You and I
Let's avoid the topic of HARD WORK at this moment as that scares people away (unfortunately). Let's just see if we can spot a few things to make some quick changes. Many of you I know through mail or email, a few in person. Hence our relationship, while possibly close in terms of customer/business, it is not so personal that you wouldn't mind me helping you. If you think I have to have a PhD in psychology to help you then you have more issues than you realize. There never has been even ONE world chess champion who has had a degree in psychology (most had no PhDs in anything)... thank God, he might've been unbearable.

If you are willing to risk twenty-five bucks for an evaluation, I will give you one. All I need is your honest answers and a willingness to really improve. The questionnaire is over several pages and will be kept confidential. It will be sent via PDF.

By the way, I love hearing YOUR story, your personal achievements (chess and otherwise) and there will be a place in the questionnaire for this information from you. If you are OUTSIDE of the 800-1200 zone and still want to take this questionnaire, be my guest. You will probably still learn something valuable. I do every time I task myself to do something like this.

Contact me at:

Monday, February 13, 2012


If you are like me you get these really lame USCF Sales for every holiday there is. I see nothing special about them -- they are always "extended" too--like everyone believes it was so good they kept it going. Why not a special holiday for those days which are NOT holidays?

Then there is The Chess Butler. We don't have these kinds of Special Days very often but when we do I try to make them memorable. After talking with Ms. King last night, you will see more memorable things in the future, if only to keep MY sanity.

So while I wish you a Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow, even if you are a guy (I have two sons I wish Happy Valentine's too, and a Daughter)... nothing special in the Valentiney line is going to happen--except that tonight a new Chess Gazette will be on its way to you. NUMBER 161.

Some nice sale items, some reviews, and a really cooool story by my friend in Hawaii, Phil Millett. I hope you (yes, the one reading this YOU) will send me some stories we can publish but chess must be connected, somehow. Maybe at a tournament. Maybe some oddity. Something strange in Greenwich Village (isn't everything?)... and so on. If you have no imagination to come up with something I am guessing your chess must be pretty pathetic too! I think we need to work on that!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Yesterday, Saturday... the Gentlemens Chess Club held our first Valentine's Chess Event... Though we have 15 paid members now (Thank you Kevin Hyde for joining yesterday), only 4 GCC members played in the event which had been advertised as early as last August! But, as a saving grace, there were two additional players, from Augustana College, proving that it pays to put a notice in the newspaper as opposed to sending out emails to members!

Upcoming February Event
If you are regional and DO want to play in a tournament, there is one coming up Feb. 24-26 which offers two starting options: play Friday night or Saturday morn (or, if you want to, both and take your best result). It's at the Lodge in Bettendorf, Iowa--site of several Chess Festivals of mine in the past.

The TD is none other than the Kevin Hyde who joined the Gentlemens Chess club and the entry fee is a smallish $20! if you get it in before the last minute! I registered yesterday. Yes, I am getting out once again to dabble in the arcane arts of playing and seeing how aging can affect us!! I even postponed another project I had set for that weekend (see? It can be done.)

Some people object to having their email address posted online and while Kevin is probably not one of them, if you are interested in the particulars, contact me ( So far he said he has gotten promises but small numbers to actually come through... even from the other club he goes to!

Outlawing Stuff!
I am surprised Obama hasn't issued a presidential mandate outlawing chess tournaments in February!

To get back to the tournament yesterday, Mr. 1400+, Kevin Hyde, won the tournament despite the fact that there were two 1700+s playing! During all that everyone (well, I think everyone) was munching on the two boxes of Godiva chocolates. Thus I quipped that Godiva was the "other" winner of the tournament. Long distance drivers Earl Zismer and Steve Lamansky came. Others were Ed Reedy and our two newcomers Hunter Winstead and Ryan Garcia.

An Anomaly Pairing
As the tournament director I discovered that with 6 people only, a round, using Swiss-based pairings, will come to a situation where there is an "impossible" pairing. I did not know that and Zismer-Reedy had to play each other twice (which can be allowed and was accepted by the USCF offices), but with opposite colors. Hence 7 players (i.e., an odd number) will work, and 8 or more is better to avoid this. So if you are reading this and would like to stop this anomaly in the future, come and have a good time.

Tonight I meet with a friend to discuss how to ramp up attendance and all that kind of good stuff so that those who enjoy friendly competition will know the place that it is happening and can count on new faces. For lunch we went to Wendy's, as usual, and declared that's almost as much fun as playing the games themselves.

Discovery Bonus
BONUS wise I discovered something yesterday, almost as a total fluke, which might be of interest to you readers: I was looking through some new books I had brought to the shop (and of course what sold were--OLDER books!) but one became obvious as I started playing through it that it was ALMOST the perfect preparation tool for a tournament which is only a couple weeks away. It is good for the black side against QP, and the scope for a player above 1800 is perfect. Research (oh Geez Bob, do I have to do a little work?) will reveal other worries but for laying out a doable map, a plan, and a way of giving White some serious fits, this book fits the bill like most do not (because they are full of 10,000 variations). I started annotating, for myself, a game last night to give me a feel for what I might encounter in a couple weeks and I am comfortable with this new knowledge. Very comfortable.

Should it happen that I won't get a chance to play it because my opponents play something completely crazy, I know it won't go to waste and will be used in the future. I am thinking of making a SCORE Special Report on this "system." Thus the info and book will be revealed then.  Andrew Martin gave me the idea several years ago in a video and I finally took the chance to more than check it out.

If you want to know the details, contact me via email address (The Chess Butler, at your service) as I am not going to reveal this publicly. The book is less than $30. If, however you are more dedicated to playing the Bozo Defense, or the Anti-Commie Maneuver, then you won't want to waste your time or mine (curiosity with no purpose IS a waste of time--it's called Dilly Dallying). It was a serious eye opener and has been played at a new level by GMs (no, it's not The Sniper--are there any GMs playing that?).


Friday, February 10, 2012


A couple days ago, for the first time ever, I plotted and schemed and asked questions about ham and beans (navy beans) soup. My Mom made it a lot when we were kids. It was uninteresting back then, although the cornbread helped.

Today I got to taste mine. It is great! I left out tons of other stuff that might be suggested. No tomatoes, garlic, etc. Mostly navy beans, a big hambone, some Nu-salt, and a smattering of minced onion. It does take some nerve to do this because for the first time around you aren't risking much $$$-wise but time wise and understanding-wise you are.

It's the same thing when getting off of your lazy carcass and attempting to learn something new about chess.

1. I have an inquiry in to get the postal address of GM Lajos Portisch. If YOU should happen to know of it, would you tell me so I can write him? I have a perfectly good idea for a project to involve this great Hungarian grandmaster. It's really sweet. This might cost some real dollars and so "investors" are welcomed but the project will be amazing--I can't settle for anything less! This will not be a loan, but investor-based and profit based. I intend to bring Thinkers' Press back to the forefront of publishing chess again. All this is subject to the laws of here and wherever you are from (what a pain in the ass)!

2. G&L CHESS' name has now gone to The Chess Butler. Finally, this will necessitate stationery, labels, and the like. It will also involve a logo which is already twirling in my bean. It will be a response to a recent request for a chess tagline for my business, which I came up with my self, but the Chess Butler was Patrik Ohagen's (he's from Sweden) idea. He will get a book autographed by Garry Kasparov for his help. The logo is already being collaborated on with my son. I received other FINE suggestions and they may be implemented in another way. Chess players and chess buyers CAN have an imagination!

3. All the remaining FREE copies of Petrosian the Punisher went out today to those who were owed them. Mention was made that Larsen the Hammer is going to the printer this weekend (finally finished). The monograph on Larsen's Openings by FM Allan Savage has also started going out ($10 unless you are a Black Gold Card holder and then it is only $5).

4. There is a "local" tournament tomorrow at the Gentlemens Chess Club. I have the Godiva candy there (man it looks irresistible), and a few other things Ed Reedy helped me fix up--taken care of. It's $30 (unless you are a GCC member, then it's $25), three are pre-registered... hoping for more. The tournament next month might be changed from March Madness to Fischer's Funnies! His birthday anniversary is in March.

While "everyone" was wondering when I would get my web site up, only one person has test-tried it so far. Hope this isn't a repeat of 1997! My friend Bernie Ostrowsky kept clipping me on the back of the head about getting a web site up... I did. It was very expensive. But it's use was limited... basically, I was breaking even. I have a feeling lots of web sites are like that (or worse). The maintenance time and costs are THE killers. When my other son Nate was helping me he understood chess and so what went on the web site was always worth while and informative. I've seen too many chess web sites where it doesn't look like the owner knows the difference between a pawn and a coconut. So if you need a recommendation, don't count on them for that.

More later... and possibly, Kate King... one of the business genius gals I am happy to know and have known. The Chess Butler is going to SHAKE things up while at the same time, "serving you"!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


This afternoon I have been working on a list of TWELVE reasons to come to the ONE DAY chess tournament at the Gentlemens Chess Club this Saturday. One of them is that 12 (or more) would be the first time we had more than 11 people at a GCC/Thinkers' Press event. A little milestone there.

There's a couple of other things too such as:
Two: Silent auction on a book signed by Gary Kasparov. About a $50 value.

Three: Many previously owned chess books on display and for sale for the first time at GCC. Mostly one ofs.


In fact I am emailing to 42 people who live close enough to "possibly" be interested and who I think could come, if "things" are just right in the air. For one thing, we aren't dealing with the usual type of lousy weather we get in February.

Four: It's just one day. We are all busy, even me. But one day should be great. In fact, buddy Steve Lamansky is coming in from Ankeny (a few miles north of Des Moines) and staying over night at his sister's house in Bettendorf. Three day tournaments are killers for me, and no doubt many others and--two days are tough enough. Of course that means a faster time control, but nothing is perfect. Myself, I don't care for G/60 at all even if I have done well in some of those tournaments. For one thing, it does hyperaccelerate your thinking (a good thing).

If you would like a copy of the list, maybe to use at your own Club, which might be farther away, drop me a line.

Five: You can call and register in advance (563-271-6657) so you only have to show up for the first round at 9:30. That's your pre-registration. Back in the old days people would do this, and sometimes, not show up! But with cell phones, that problem is now minimized (although I won't be answering cell phone calls in the tournament room while games are running--so don't wait until after the round has started! [9:30]).

Six: Food and drink. Godiva chocolates. Cider and hot chocolate. Still trying to figure out how I will handle that. GCC does have a microwave!

There are 6 more!

It is a RATED event by USCF. Entry fee is $30 or $25 if you are a GCC member. Must have a paid up USCF ID card (I have forms in case yours has just run out). Game in 60. The usual stuff.

Hope you can come. Have room for 24. Relax, leisurely. Everyone gets along at the GCC events... everyone. No one has been invited to not come back. Tight ship, good sailors.
1101 W. 4th St., Davenport, IA.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


One of the great and affable Grandmasters, our booklet (50+ page) on GM Bent Larsen called THE HAMMER, will be going to the printer tomorrow. If you are seriously interested in knowing HOW you can handle certain openings and defenses, I recommend this. I'll be using his ideas in my own repertoires. Remember, Larsen played Catalan systems for quite some time. If you didn't qualify for a FREE copy from Nov.-Dec. purchases of $100 or more, than the price of the book is $12.95 + $3.50 for S&H. It is #7 in the Chess Gangs of New York and London series.

The other Larsen piece, called GM BENT LARSEN ON OPENINGS by Allan Savage should be ready to ship tomorrow as a PDF. Some additional material in the form of quotes and further Larsen books by and about him have also been added. The Bonus material will come later in the year, for FREE. This 16 page monograph on Larsen is from FM Allan Savage who also engaged in some correspondence with Larsen as well as played against him. The price is $9.95 unless you have a Black Gold Card ($50) and then the price is only $5.00. There are advantages to having the Gold Card (now called Black Gold Card) as several more Special SCORE Reports will be issued in 2012. Deadline to purchase the BGC is March 31, 2012.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Some good news filters in. This morning I received links to a web site (somewhere) from Patrik O. and Ron N... about the recent TPi book: Abbazia 1912. Here is what it said:

As you may know there is a great chess, where you can play games with good level players. One can also participate in team leagues and that’s my case as well.
I am a proud member of team called Advanced Beginners together my great Twitter fellows @farbrortheguru@ellazwart@logiske and@64rdb64. The first named one is also our team captain.
During the last season of the team league he announced a small competition for the best commented game. I sent three of my games and as I was the only who did it I won the competition by default. OK, I admit it was an easy win :)
This week I received a prize from @farbrortheguru as the best commentator of our team. The prize is a rare book (only 100 copies have been printed!) with games from King’s Gambit Accepted tournament Abbazia 1912. It was a tournament where players like Rudolf Spielmann (winner), Oldrich Duras, Richard Reti or Erich Chon participated.
It is a very good book for all players who like King’s Gambit Accepted and sharp and concrete style of playing. The book also contains a few games from the 2011 Red Wings King’s Gambit Accepted tournament in Minnesota.
Thank you, @farbrortheguru for the book! You hit my taste! ;)
Thinkers' Press still has copies at $30, postage paid, to anywhere in the USA. If you don't like or appreciate gambits then it is better to pass this by.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


This SCORE Special Report "pamphlet" (#2) will be available in a few days, at least by Feb. 8th.

It was written by FIDE Master Allan Savage and it contains some highlights, a personal annotated game, some commentary on Larsen's eclectic batch of openings and ends with a survey of books by him or about him.

Savage's main ability has always been in his devotion to research his subject and then put it all together in a cohesive way. This pamphlet runs 15 pages exclusive of cover but there is a BONUS down the road too.

That bonus will be more material. Greg Delaney sent, for example, a game he played Larsen in a simul. I have games I researched but didn't use in Larsen the Hammer (space issues!) I found a little piece (small pamphlet) on Larsen too from a tournament. I thought all my files on these guys were up to date and I thought I knew where they were, but at this moment, it's as if an Alien Spaceship rode off with them. They will show, and I will add to Savage's treatise. Don't know when exactly that will be done, but my guess is, within the next few months.

It's always been a Thinkers' Press inc. policy to give more than the buyer thinks they are getting. In this case I have a few great photographs of Larsen (which I got in 1971) which will be added to an updated edition and for which buyers of THIS Special Report, will get for FREE. Therefore buyers can 3-hole punch the pages and put them into a binder.

And speaking of binders here is what I absolutely recommend: It's made by Avery-Dennison. It's Heavy Duty. It will hold 40% more items than a regular round ring. It says on the cover, ONE TOUCH EZD. I have nearly 20 of them and with their easy release it is clearly the best I have ever used and my shelves sport a lot of binders! I do not know what they cost but I got them at Staples. I got them as a big lot they were clearing because they were the wrong color blue! (What a crock!) In my businessman's opinion they are worth an easy $8.

Since it is a PDF download all I need is your name and email address. But it will cost you ten bucks (actually, $9.95). If you have a Black Gold Card, it's only $5.00. PayPal is OK too. By now many of you know how to use that. Go to your PayPal accounting and enter the correct amount and send it to my email address (below).


Simple answer. Simplicity in his outrageousness! I don't look at that as a drawback but a time saver. Look at Larsen's lines, work with them and your opponent's will mostly freak if they think you know more than they do; which, you probably will.

I have been recommending Larsen's play in the past week to a number of people over 50 who are concerned about "keeping up with their opponents." STUDY Bent Larsen, you can almost bet your opponent knows NOTHING about Larsen's play. If you have a little tactical flair, they will collapse, that much sooner!

The Chess Gangs book will be $12.95 but won't be printed for 3 weeks. Add $3.50 for shipping in the USA. it is called Larsen the Hammer. Artwork is by Rob, my son.

Friday, February 3, 2012


I had to do some shriveling of its size! Last night I tried to send it out and it wouldn't budge. Even though there were no error messages the problem was, SCORE #12 was too big! Too much stuff, esp. in the graphics arena.

So this morning, I did some rework, and sent at a lower speed and everything appears to be OK now.

If you haven't subscribed and are starting to think you might like to, I am offering a short window of a price reduction. While $49.95 is the regular price now, I will sell subscriptions at $29.95 if you are among the first 100 I receive. I have 122 people on a special list who I think will be more than a little interested. I am going to send out MAILED OUT invitations--so if you let me know you want is, via email, you will be served first.

SCORE is packed, 27 pages, letter-sized.
1. The indepth details and resurgence of the Sicilian Poisoned Pawn, modified.
2. What is winning worth to you, a possible new magazine from TPi, ENDGAME SCORE with a GM at the helm on particular subjects in a much more direct and simplified way.
3. Joe Willett donates money to create a FREE chess tournament on a Saturday in May at the Gentlemens Chess Club.
4. Mention that Part II of Igor Stohl's article will be on the Reversed Sicilian (English 1.c4 e5) in issue #13.
5. A link about a FREE graphic novel on Bobby Fischer. Actually, it's pretty good.
6. Getting the Black Gold Card for 2012 is better than ever.
7. The ad and facts of CHESS FIGHT CLUB.
8. Readers' letters.
9. Thumbnail reviews. 7 items including Kasparov's new book on himself from 1973-1098.
10. The G&L CHESS Web Site.
11. DVD Land --Latest from ChessBase
12. Larsen Two Ways--the Chess Gangs book (The Hammer) and a Special Report on Bent Larsen by FM Allan Savage with an added section by Bob Long.
13. Updates on Thinkers; Press products.

Even author GM Igor Stohl got such a kick out of his own copy he wrote to tell me more about the Austrian wunderkind Froewish, who in a game in #13 absolutely demolishes his opponent. Igor said the "kid" is a friend of his and he just got his IM title! You WILL want to see this game in issue #13.

SCORE is cheaper than "paid for sex" and probably much better!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Tomorrow I hope to deliver some "essentials" to the Black Gold Card members who help support this enterprise. This will be a chance to "play around" and test the web site which is being set up.

I expect questions.

Initially we will be set up for PayPal, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay (those last two I don't know much about by my web meister assures me you can use your credit card through them without a problem--we will see).

Anyway, orders will be "dummy orders" because the site is not yet ready to go live.

Also, only some of my inventory will be on there because I wanted to get it ready to test.

Once "things" are worked out, it will be ported from demo mode to LIVE. Then, I am sure, because this is still a one-horse town operation, a few other things will raise their heads. But, things will settle in and down.

So... those who have signed up for the Black Gold Card will hopefully be my testers.

Back to proofing SCORE #12... and what an issue it is!