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.
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 Chess.com, 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!)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.