Four paragraphs were written this morning before I took John Carlton’s advice and tossed them in the trash. They were worthy but not focused enough. I am going to look at VINTAGE this morning. Chess history for example. It can be a very FUN environment… and boy do we need that. PLUS, a bonus topic.
Here’s an email I got from Steve Lamansky over a week ago:
“Hello Bob, Ah the ‘Red Wing’ chess extravaganza weekend! I remember it well. What a great time–good exchanges of information, fun time playing (although I still don’t care for the King’s Gambit), and the fellowship during meals was as good as it gets. I am truly sorry for those who chose not to make it there.
“I have to admit that you peaked my interest with this mailing! I’m always looking for chess boards and sets, and your reference to a new board intriguing. Anyway, sign me up for ‘Bob’s News Letter’ so I can stay up to date on what is happening… Hope you gave a great 2015!”
It was a small crowd (6 attendees + me) but it was amazing how much fun you can have with only 6 people. And GM Alex Yermolinsky was there too as the celebrity! That was in 2011. It was in Red Wing, MN about 50 miles or so from Minneapolis/St. Paul where there are 100s of chess players! Those that came showed up from several hundred miles away such as Dr. Julian Wan who lives in Ann Arbor, MI.
So what was the problem? As Attorney friend the late Don Aldrich said to me, “Red Wing is too close to the Twin Cities to stay in a hotel and too far to move out of one’s comfort zone (the Twin Cities).”
I got his logic, but I was fighting City Hall here. People were not interested as much in chess as they were in their own comfort zone and that problem was solved by NOT GOING. In a way Las Vegas is like that. It’s in the desert state of NV. It is a 5 hour drive to big cities in California. It’s not JUST about gambling (except for some people).
While I get it, I don’t understand it. Maybe I never will. Local tournaments here don’t do that well with locals. But people from around where I live will drive to Dubuque, IA, Cedar Rapids, IA, and Peoria, IL. All 70-90 miles away. But going to Des Moines is more troublesome, farther away, might have to stay over night and that costs money. In fact, it might be the single biggest obstacle to going out of town to play chess.
But here is what I don’t understand
Lately I have been doing a lot of research in chess magazines. I found that in the past, in the Midwest and elsewhere, strong chess players were traveling everywhere to play. I don’t know that lower rated players were doing that quite so much (fanatics are always excepted.) The stronger players had the chess bug, and apparently repeated play, anywhere, was increasing their strength (i.e., rating). So there is ONE secret worth knowing, PLAY A LOT.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “dilettante” in one category as a person who has a superficial interest in an art or branch of knowledge. Don’t you think many of us are dilettantes? Crowd followers. Look at the Fischer era. He raised USCF memberships by the thousands and a short while later it dropped back, not exactly to where it was before. but “ascendancy” was not maintained. It took a gradual building up to succeed, especially when kids were involved.
When the Russians succeeded it was because the game was played in offices, factories, and in the military as well. It became engrained. Over here it is mostly about school kids.
Maurice Ashley and his friend Amy are going to run their million dollar event again this year! Last year it was won by Wesley So who was from where? The Philippines. In fact, lots of foreigners played. Saved up their money, came over, stayed and played. So won $100,000. At the moment he is trying to catch Carlsen at Wijk aan Zee. You have to admire his goals and pluck. He had a goal and sticktuitiveness like Kevin Costner’s character in “For the Love of the Game.” These are the people who make their own success. And o course, that is fun for them.
Looking at October, What Do I See?
In the past 6 months I have become enhanced and entranced with two things: Paul Morphy, and growing the number of readers for my News Letter. Paul Morphy has grown into the Morphy Inner Circle Klub ($295 less a $25 discount for those who join before March 31). There must be at least a dozen different significant member benefits to joining, the sum of its parts being greater than the whole.
The News Letter ($29.95 for a year, just like the Morphy Inner Circle Klub but included FREE when you join the Morphy Klub) keeps people up to date in books, news, fun things and articles. It is in color and is emailed out as a PDF once a month. Gary White, a big collector in Missouri told me “I like reading it!” Steve Lamansky just commented recently about chess boards mentioned in the latest issue (#188) while reminiscing about a Thinkers’ Press event that took place almost 4 years ago!
Someone recently asked about my USP (Unique Selling Proposition) as a chessist over other people in the business. While I though about it, here is what came to mind: we have unique events, we hooked up with the Purdy family to keep CJS’ legacy going, we carry only the best chess literature, and our knowledge base is deep. This is a subject to which dilettantism has no place. Our prices are on a par or better than anyone else (and with no card or extra fees) in the industry! At my most experienced level I was a rated USCF Expert and a knowledgeable Editor/author/writer for 30 years. What else could you want?
This brings me to October 2015. I would really like your feedback on what is coming. I would like to have a chess event centered around Paul Morphy, perhaps the greatest chess player in his time period of ALL time, and, an American ass kicker. You can subscribe to Morphy’s Gazette for $119.95 for a year (12 issues) if you don’t want to go whole hog. It may be called Morphy’s Magazine.
If NM John Lutes was still alive I would have asked him to come in a New York minute (he lived in Peoria, IL–only 90 miles away and was one of the funniest raconteurs of chess I ever met!) If I could afford to have GM Simon Williams come I would bring him over too barring problems with his schedule. Why? Because these guys knew and know the King’s Gambit inside out. And the King’s Gambit was very important to Paul Morphy. He could win games standing on his head! (And, I think he did!!) He played the top players in Europe, many times, but only at ODDS! He beat their collective butts without odds and so to put some fire and ice into the game, he started giving them pawn and move, and then the N on b1! He still crushed them like little grapes. It was embarrasin’!
Funny thing, like Steve, you might dislike playing the King’s Gambit (though buddy Steve did WIN that tournament in Red Wing playing the King’s Gambit!) but when you would have heard Lutes and Williams you would probably change your mind!
I have a Proposition For You!
Andrew Martin is also interested in coming again this October. Davenport, IA is his “vacation home!” That means air travel from London, England. Costly. If I can get WIlliams, more airfare. Hence, if you make a $50 deposit now, that will take some of the “bite” away from the ticket price.
It may be a 2-day event, say Friday-Saturday. People can fly home or drive home on Sunday. A date and $$$ amount hasn’t been set yet but an advance deposit amount has, $50.00. If you are a Morphy Klub member you will get another $25 discount. Right off the top you could be “saving” $75 off the final ticket price. Morphy Klub members will also get front row seating just like at the 2002 Chess Festival.
Are You Willing to Take a Chance?
In order to pull something like this off lots of publicity has to be put out there which means I will have to get cracking. If you can give me the names of a secretary/treasurer to your chess club so that I can contact them, I will ADD another $10 to your deposit. First with information to me about a specific club will get the $10 ADD ON. Hence, you could be making your final ticket price $85 less. Now it starts to seem feasible.
Know this. You getting me jacked will produce great results. I already have some people in mind. Volunteers are always welcomed if they pass the Bob Long test (and I know some great volunteers). I will have to repeatedly promote so I hope you don’t get tired of that because IT IS NECESSARY.
This could be big but I don’t know HOW big. In 2010 we had 35 people show up. In 2015 I would like to get 70, or twice that. What I have found in bigger crowds is MORE of an opportunity for you to meet like-minded people, those you could cherish their friendship forever. As you know, I have always preferred adult ticket holders (there are a lot of reasons for this). I try to think, if I was a “kid” and thought something like this would be the coolest of all time, what age would I have to be to at least get in, and I would say, how about 14?
I’ve done a lot of these events over the years, especially since 1998 but even before then too. If you are interested, I will create an escrow account for the deposits. If you let me know 30 days in advance that for some reason you can’t make it, your deposit is totally refundable. Send $50 to: Chess Butler, 1524 LeClaire St., Davenport, IA 52803 and you will be on the publicity list. Info on hotels and other things will be forthcoming. Twice we have been at the Quality Inn in Davenport, IA and excellent as it was, it’s not big enough. More soon.
Paul Morphy… Andrew Martin… and others. Our first monster event since 2004. Details coming. Give me excuses for WHY you can come. Hey, thanks for reading this far. You know Thinkers’ Press puts on a great party. Always has.