It was a big song from the Bee Gees. Another famous singer, Gene Pitney, had “Heartbreaker” and one more, “Only Love Can Break a Heart” (Only Love Can Mend It Again.)

If you’ve never had a broken heart, I suspect we could say you’ve never “lived” if YOU call that living… It’s more like Dying.

One morning I came downstairs and went to the Living Room and there on my California Bar table were my chessmen (The Grand Turk Set) and my Emperor chess board, water on and all around! Water coming off a chandelier and spreading its uneasy mess everywhere. There was a hole in my roof, a heavy rainstorm pushed water through the hole and down the chandelier (one of those inexpensive $70 kind from a place like Home Depot. Makes one sick to their stomach.

I called my friend Terry, brought another chandelier over and he fixed it and the roof, in reverse order.

Now, what about the set and board? On the set, for the time being, I fixed it with a special kind of wax. The board? A little tougher. What’s worse is that I brought it to an exhibition and as I was taking it home, it slipped off the luggage cart and landed on a corner of the board suffering a severe but anguishing bruise and coupled with a harsh sound. My friend Kirk came to the rescue and repaired it. Honest to Pete, when I picked it up, it looked better than when I originally got it! Oh Lord those were some (un)exciting times.

Today I am sending some pictures to another “K” friend (just like Kramnik and Kasparov!) I intend to start selling this board once again after first telling you another Bob Long story (none of these are ever made up!) I had these boards made by Ken Woodhead many years ago and sold more than I thought I would (no pun intended).

Last August, when I was at the Iowa Open in Coralville IA I was Mark Capron’s vendor. Some tables were set up and some new books were laid out. I had brought with moi the Grand Turk set, the Emperor Board (before it was damaged) and the smaller Gurkha set (the Baby Grand of the Grand Turk) and Lordy what a bunch of combustion that created!

Naturally I put the expensive stuff directly in front of me, it was THAT desirable! Carol was with me to help me take care of the customers. She said, “I couldn’t believe how animated these people were!” True. That was the time when a “white” Rook was missing from the h1-square and I replaced it with a quarter. (Did you ever have to do that for a missing piece?) Every kid in the joint was fascinated by that. I was doling out prices as I was asked. Everyone was fingering the pieces and the beautiful pawns because the Budrosewood Pieces were shining like they were on fire in the background of the sunlight coming through the rear window of the building.

The pieces were so striking that when someone started asking questions I would say, “Come over here to where I am sitting and then take a look. Several did and they were thunderstruck at the brilliance and delight. (The color and the deep grain were the secrets.) I had to tell them I could only give an approximate idea as to what the cost of the board would be because I hadn’t sold any of those Emperor boards in years (Also True). I had a set of leather bags (tan and black) which were of the softest leather I had felt, for the smaller Gurkha set. Sold those for $100 right away to a Mr. Anson. All kinds of uses for that but I preferred to use it for 3” chessmen.

This was before the custom boxes I had made. (One left.)

The boards, my guess is, will be priced somewhere North of $500 and Less than $600. Nothing firm, but I think so. The table was crowded with potential buyers and people asking questions. One lady asked how much I wanted for everything. That was interesting.

Wanted to tell you that I did get the Rook (boxwood) replaced for the h1-square. The set is still on fire with its 4 inch King (still tournament acceptable). Don’t get me wrong, I still sell ebony and boxwood, and in fact I have a set from Worthington which is incredible and I will tell you about that one later (as in “later this week”). My son and I used it last night. I have pictures taken but not ready to post yet, but if you ask for a limited brochure and picture, and send your request to me (, I will send one back to you with price and description… gratis! (That is Latin for, “great, and it’s free!”)

Often when I offer chess sets I will have only 1 or 2, such as that of the Worthington (out of England I believe).

On the Grand Turk I have several sets with both the green felt bottoms and with the black leather. I want to give you an advance heads up. The Grand Turks which are $895 and $995 NOW, will be going up $250 at the end of March. I have been warning about this since last fall, and now I see it actually going to happen. You can save yourself a potful of dinero by getting one with the lifetime guarantee before March 31 or wait around until April and see if I was just joking.

In the meantime here are the woods which Ken will be working with on the new Emperor Boards (2-1/4″ squares). (I have stories about people making their own boards which will soon be included in my next set of brochures. They aren’t pretty stories! Leave it to the Experts, the people who also make beautiful furniture!)

Woods: Purple Heart (a dark reddish brown similar to walnut.

Birdseye Maple good for the light squares.

Curly Maple, also good for the light squares.

Mahogany. My Emperor Board is made of this and Maple. Beautiful around the edges of the board.

Cherry. Could be used for the “dark” squares but I think it looks more remarkable in  a “box” to hold the pieces!

Wenge. A striated dark wood. Different and really nice.

Blood Wood. Very nice but “might” clash with a budrosewood colored set.

Walnut. Perfect for the dark squares.

That Other “Broken Heart.”

That’s the one too many of us have faced. It’s like the second of the Gene Pitney songs I mentioned in the above opening lines. Only love can break a heart (if you didn’t really care for someone how could they break your heart?) but if you really do care for that someone only Love can mend it again! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that seldom happens. If it does, lighten your heart’s load with a new Emperor board.

I will have more to say about this soon when I get the brochure written.

In the meantime, you can reach me at: or 563-271-6657.

Bob “the 25/8” Chess Guy

PS: Not joking on the price of the Grand Turk set. Everyone had their chance to make a move on them last Fall. Several took advantage. But something is DIFFERENT this time. Methods “give me a break” Payment, plus, a couple bonuses not offered the last time. If you want to WOW your friends and especially YOUR ENEMIES you might want to check out THE HEARTBREAKER (use that title in your email subject line to us!) Did I say “us?” I did. more will be explained later this week.


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