Everybody makes mistakes, especially businesses.

Today I am rectifying two of them

In my last combination of catalog and newsletter (issue #187) I priced ChessBase 13 at $160. I said that price would hold until the end of the year. Not anymore. Can’t justify it profit margin wise. It costs money to ship to me. Probably the best price around, that’s not a good reason either.

I have met my obligations to those who bought (thank you for thinking of me). The future price if anyone should want one is $185. Sorry I had to do that. Please note this.

The “box” as I call it which can hold a Grand Turk set has been found. It was called the Topkapi Palace. I remember bringing it home after it had the half dollar size Morphy Coin (the gold one) inserted into the lid. After that, everything went completely blank it seems.

Yesterday… I found it, in a very unlikely place… inside the front door, in a corrugated card box with some magazines piled on top! My friend Ed and I were moving some merchandise out of the way to take two sets of shelves upstairs. Why I would leave it on the floor is unknown to me, but it is unharmed, and looks as gorgeous as ever. I imagine it would hold any reasonable set with a 4 inch King height, but for this instance it was MADE expressly for the Grand Turk, for sure. I opened the flaps of the cardboard box and saw the gold coin, nestled inside and it just made my heart skip because I liked it so much.

As I was writing copy last weekend about stuff I had to sell, I kept thinking, “It will turn up… I hope.” It did. I looked inside last night, at the box and as someone said to me, “How did he (Kirk) think that up?” Well, it’s his business. He has been doing wood carving and teaching for years. And, he really understands geometry.

I know $1,595 is a lot of spondulicks (look it up) but we priced both boxes the same as they each took about the same amount of time. Then the “air grips” were cut into the walnut wood to make it even more inviting and protect the set with air flow even more. At the last minute the Morphy Gold Coins were added which meant he had to create another template for the sake of beauty… and boy did that work.

As I’ve mentioned, the carver has already been paid for both boxes and now, I want to get mine before the end of the year. At the moment Kirk is working on some other projects… so it’s all on me. We each agreed to knock $100 off the cost of the box out of our profits and I said I would knock a $100 off from the companies’ point of view, giving it a $300 discount!

And I was thinking, “Without giving away the farm, is there anything else I can do, that’s already been paid for, to sell the last PROTOTYPE?” I came up with a $75 incentive, best I could do, but by adding another $25 discount, I could make it $100, in premiums or barter.
A. The King’s Strongbox which includes the Wax paste used in the British Museum (a little dab will do you on the boxwood pieces). $50 worth also includes cotton gloves, rubbing cloths, and individual baggies for the pieces.
B. The book called Master Pieces by Gareth Williams, in color and showing some of the best-looking chess sets of bygone ages you have ever seen, including the Staunton by Cook. $25. Some copies may be previously owned as this book is out of print. I’ve seen the price as high as $35. I only have 4.
C. Another $25 off from the Chess Butler. So the price would be $1270. (of course shipping is extra, ranging from $35-$55 depending on how you want it sent). I recommend this Topkapi Palace to owners of the Grand Turk should they want a “casket” as they call them, OR, to new purchasers of a Grand Turk.

The set with the black leather bases is $995.00. The set with the green felt bases is $895.00. If you buy either one this week I will knock a further $50 off (I am trying to sell more this year than last). Maybe one of these days I will create all kinds of certificates, stories, etc. for this set, but really it is my own arrangement with the carvers. Having bought from them since 1985 I feel comfortable about that. Everybody loves a discount of some kind and everybody has “overhead,” more than we would like to be carrying.

A friend of mine had a great description about the Topkapi Palace (a name I came up with while watching the movie “Topkapi” starring Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustimov, and Max. Schell–one of the better “heist” movies). She’s gonna call me back later about this… which I will add later today.

The combination of the set (Grand Turk) has brought up another question from those who wigged out in Coralville in August 2014 at that tournament when I displayed my wares. “How much is the board?” The board was my own board from years ago. I was about to have it restored from scratches and an inadvertent drop (too painful to tell you about). I gave them a price to make them “go away” (well, that’s not exactly true but to dissuade as I was going to be packing to return home). It didn’t work. They were still interested. I just didn’t have any extras at the time.

Yesterday, in the mail, I got a box of “wood samples” from Ken Woodhead, my former board maker from yeas ago. He IS still around! Since Kirk is so busy and I wanted to stick with a top flight board (such as my own), I asked Ken if he would send me some samples…which he was kind enough to do. Here is what he sent:
Mahogany (dark)
Curly Maple (light)
Purple Heart (dark)
Cherry (light, better in my opinion for a box)
Blood wood (dark)
Walnut (dark)
Bird’s Eye Maple (light)
Wenge (dark)

I will be scanning all these woods, in color, to show you (upon request) what they look like. At last, some reasonable variety. Exotic and normal. All of them enticing.

In the meantime I will be waiting for the QUOTE on the board. My Guess? $500 and up.

Hang loose. If you want something great for your use or home, give us a try. Nothing is mass produced. All made with you in mind. I ask the questions Steve Jobs would ask. When you see (or if you see) someone claiming the “best chess sets in the world” it won’t be me. I have only ONE set that I feel I can claim that for, The Grand Turk and its baby Brother the Gurkha. Two sets, not scads of them. At the moment I am temporarily out of the Gurkha. No more until 2015.

I have pictures of the Grand Turk set which you won’t believe (the pieces). I hired a first rate commercial photographer(s), John and Lara, and I will present their review of these pieces in a brochure which should make your socks roll up and down and your eyes bug out! (Unbelievable!)

What comes next is going to be on a strictly first come first served basis.

Yesterday I bought two books of considerable value (not cost but value). The cost was not meaningless, but let me explain. In my recent personal sale I sold a copy of NAPIER THE FORGOTTEN CHESS MASTER for $20-25. Foolish. I didn’t bother to look and see if it was still available. I had about 5 people ask for it! No lie. Maybe because of the price, an example of being out of my gourd. Do you still want one? They, for all practical purposes, are extinct wholesale wise, because either I bought the last one or the publisher has given up wholesaling in quantity. My copy will cost you $60. Maybe one person will order it (I hope). It was by historical chess expert John Hilbert. He also wrote the magnificent work AMERICAN CHESS ESSAYS. I got ONE! I will sell that one for $60 too (I kept my personal copy! from John)

First person to contact me and say they will pay these prices for BRAND SPANKING NEW CONDITION copies get it (them). After that, no more.

So far, it has been an interesting morning. Make your day too Harry Callahan!

The Journey IS the reward.

The 24/7 Chess Guy. 563-271-6657 or

PS: Potentially I have been offered another consignment collection of publications. No deal has yet to be agreed but it looks promising. Will tell you more later IF and WHEN. Those “PS” are always important aren’t they?


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