Today it was reported that Apple, inc. is averaging 7.8 million downloads per day! That’s beyond belief and it’s because of their eco-system. If you are an Apple-hater don’t bother to read the rest unless you want to look at Joe Byrnes’ testimonial on his Taj Mahal storage box for his Grand Turk set. (Near bottom of page)

For Apple, they are deeply into planning (my second Black Secrets book). quality control, fixing mistakes, and putting together fewer products but enchantingly great ones. Ones that people upgrade (like to their iPhone6) or have so many new and “valuable” features that those who can afford them, want one. How can that happen in chess? Well, it doesn’t very often to be honest.

Most likely it is a long haul process. It takes a lot of education, reminding, more tries until everything clicks. As I wrote yesterday, I liked the world chess championship match (except for it being in an out of the way place in Russia). The design, atmosphere, and such looked very good. I would have loved to have been there. Now the good news is Carlsen doesn’t have to defend his title for another 2 years (who set that rule?).


For years we have had 64 squares, a chess set, a chess clock, and a scorepad and even those last two are not necessary. Then came books, videos, and demonstrations. Many still have the idea of chess as an “old man’s game” and not even realizing the world chess champion is only 23.

But chess, mentally, is ever-lasting. So in an attempt to infuse more life into it, a few souls make new creations. For example, I read, somewhere that FIDE paid somebody to design the chess set which was used in the world chess championship. It’s a simple design, functional, and I didn’t pay that much attention to it, but I am not sure it is one of those “things” that capture the imagination (or fancy). As it is, “art” has its limitations due to what one person likes versus another.

Invariably when a new concept comes along there is the risk of rejection. It is easier to say “No” than to “like” something new. I’ll give credit to Zuckerberg’s team for that one (Like us.)

Some years ago I saw the Grand Turk chess set made of budrosewood and boxwood. I couldn’t believe it. Compared to the other sets in that far off catalog, it stood powerfully tall over all the rest. Even they were making mostly ebony and boxwood sets.
Before this I had been an ebony and boxwood aficionado. I was stunned, however, by the richness of that reddish-black color from the “rosewood family.” It’s like seeing a woman for the first time who is so beautiful she flummoxes your senses! You can’t wait to tell someone else about her. It was an expensive chess set. I thought I could sell a lot of them to people who were into having the best, for less. Sure, you could take any chess set and add diamonds to it and make it more expensive, but that doesn’t make it “best.” Best is a completely different apparition. You know it when you are around it. When you can’t afford it you come up with all kinds of reasons to not get it now. But in your heart you are thinking, “Holy cow. Why did I buy what I got? I was too impatient. I know Bob already knows I want one!”

When I was younger I filled in at a deluxe cigar store in my hometown of Keokuk, Iowa. It was called Stadler’s Cigars. The regular guy was in the hospital for something and I worked 3 weeks. During that time I saw the “best of” everything type of stuff. The humidor, the different pipes, and the knick-knacks. Even sterling silver serving bowls, which I learned how to wrap. I saw the “Sherlock Holmes” (OomPaul) pipes. I helped customers make selections even though I didn’t know diddly about smoking pipes (or anything else). It just had, “built in class.” I sold stuff to others who didn’t know diddly either.

But, my Dad smoked a pipe for awhile, reminding me of Milton Caniff from the Steve Canyon comic strip series. My Grandfather smoked a pipe for a bit too. Later I did but quit as relighting it every 15 seconds was becoming a chore. It smelled good, to others!

You can learn a lot from this type of atmosphere.

In looking up verification of spellings for some themes I ran across lots of other things such as resin models of Doc Savage and the Shadow for sale with prices running from $150 for 150 reproductions to $250 for 500. I bought a resin model of Doc Savage years ago for $100+ and now they command in excess of $500. Some of you might remember I had a resin cast made of Emanuel Lasker in the past, 9 inches tall. Still have 1-2 left. Expensive if $500 is your idea of expensive. That was my first chess INVENTION.

The point is, the Lasker bust was done by a local who has since become a well-known sculptress nationally. I know what I like and once you see it, it seizes you! What did she make before doing stuff like this? Cakes! Specialty cakes. That and grit is all it takes to start your own business. That plus FANS.


So the buying, selling, and marketing of the GRAND TURK set began. But before that I made contact with an Indian company in 1985. I have been doing business with them ever since; when you are satisfied you don’t switch! I learned a few things about sets and started buying and selling them. Sticking to wood and the Staunton design, I even gathered (for consignment) chess sets of all types and styles, one from a huge collection in California! Still have a lot of them because I haven’t had time to photograph and write all of them up. There are some chess set collectors, but not very many. Maybe there once was.

Hopefully, one of these days I can put out a fancy illustrated catalog but, who would I sell to?


New Yorker Joe Byrnes had bought a Grand Turk set from me. Joe apparently liked nice things and is a gung ho chess guy. He and I roomed together for the Sinquefield Cup this year. Then later he popped for a storage box from me, a deluxe one, called the Taj Mahal. Made of walnut, dovetailed joints, no lock and key, but instead, inner magnets. The interior wood and trim was paduak, an incredible wood with a subdued vermillion hue like you might see on 1930s racing boats. I had found a craftsman exactly for this! All the Grand Turk pieces fitted exactly inside. The “box,” as we called it, was nicer than most “gun chests” I’ve seen (I knew a commercial photographer who bought type from me who photographed guns and any kind of thing that involved engraving and/or carvings.) So I was constantly being tutored.

And finally, the “piece d’resistance” the sculpted Morphy Coin, which was inserted in the lid (to tell you which way to open the box), in gold plating. It’s so brilliant in the light that I’ve found it hard to photograph. So my son Rob suggested taking a picture outside on a cloudy day. If I have any of those boxes left, I will do that.

Anyway, to end this all, here is an email I got from Joe this morning:

“Hi Bob,
I picked up the storage box Saturday morning. Although I had a very busy weekend scheduled, I took some time to open it, and put my Grand Turk pieces into it. It really is a great concept, and such a well-constructed storage box, and the Morphy Coin just finsihes it off so well. The set and box are something I will be proud to show off, and something that will last a lifetime. Some day I’ll have to figure out who gets the set and box in my will! But for now it’s all mine, and i really love it!

and he followed that with another email:

“The coin on the lid is something! I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but I’m very impressed.”

I couldn’t have asked for a better testimonial if I had bribed him! (which, fortunately, I don’t do. The truth always comes out better.)

Let me know if you are interested. I am sure I can make you an offer that will tickle your whole insides and go easy on your wallet, and do it in time for Christmas or any other occasion! I have a few sets and only 1 deluxe box left!

Have a great day.



PS: Oh, you want to know how much? The total retail is $2,590. But for you…? Yep, you! Call me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s