I’m Getting the Itch Again!

Hello fellow chess travelers! Well, W. So won and Giri ended in the basement at St. Louis.

Now, how do I nab one of these fellows for a Chess Clinic? Notice I didn’t say Chess Festival, an event which to put on is deliriously expensive. For a minimum of 3 celebrities, air travel, lodging, their fee…it is impressive between $5,000-9,000.

The last Clinic we held was in 2010 and we had 35 people show up. I don’t recall the fee to come, probably something nuts like $100.

One fellow humorously suggested Magnus Carlsen. Haha. Someone is always suggesting Anand, Karpov, or Kasparov but these suggestions do not come with a fat check! I gave my business card to his father (Magnus’s Dad) a couple years ago in St. Louis and never heard back, so what do you think that means? One year a customer offered to foot the bill for a Festival because he liked the one with Rowson that we put on. But I knew it would come with a price, he would want to decide who would come (celebrities) and I told him, “I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I don’t think you will let me choose the celebs, and you will pick friends NONE of my people really know (as in, who is this GM?)” He was crestfallen because I think he realized I could read his mind. So there you have a story I haven’t told before, I have lots of them.


How about a little survey? This is one where you have to drop me an email and put down a couple things in your email. You know, do what you need to do to get action from me?

  1. Who would you like to see at a mini Chess Festival? Give me a name of someone you think we can afford WHO MIGHT CONSIDER COMING! You never know.
  2. You’d probably arrive here on Friday. The event would be on Saturday plus most likely a simul. And then leave on a Sunday. So I could send you the list of a number of places and their probable fee structure to stay overnight. I have a few connections I would get in touch with. My guess that average overnight accommodations would be $100-$120 per night. The Friday before we would pick some nice place for drinks or supper.
  3. What would be entertaining for you? Lectures? Going over important games? Simul? Analysis of your games. Stories? Even a fantastic book review? (This was done for 3 hours by Yermolinsky at an event of ours in Red Wing, MN in 2011 and it blew everyone’s mind!!! No joke. “Revolutionize Your Chess” by Moskalenko was 10 times more insightful than any booK review published ANYWHERE! Even by IM John Watson or GM Glenn Flear. He even played a hair-raising clock simul with our attendees.
  4. From what I have been told (no one will write a review they just call me on the phone to tell me what I wish I could get them to put on paper!!) the Festivals, the Clinics, have all been first class. We had Andrew Martin about a half dozen times and so I thought it was time to get another performer but I have no idea who you might like.

Based on past experiences the events which have done the best were the ones I lost money on because registration was so cheap. Errr, we gotta stop that. It’s possible that those who haven’t been to one of our events have absolutely no idea how enjoyable these things are. I have seen though how people love to rub shoulders with the celebrities. In fact at one event, 2010 I think it was, a number of people wanted to sit in a booth with Andrew Martin and rub shoulders but they were not my spending customers. Does this make sense? I didn’t embarrass them by putting someone else in their place (like in the Bible) but I would like to have done that. Crude.

At any rate if you are willing to spend a little time making your wishes known that would be fantastic. Getting Tobey McGuire here or even Liev Schreiber would be fantastic wouldn’t it? And maybe one chess celeb? The combination of a chess celeb who was also a GM and a simul-giver, I thought, was a great idea. So I picked Alex Yermolinsky in 2011 and we had a whopping 6 people show in Red Wing. We were hoping to draw from Minneapolis/St. Paul. My impression. Red Wing was too close to spend any lodging money!

What do people want? I daresay it seems to be, “To have a vicarious experience about chess.” Heck if Reinfeld or Chernev were alive and willing to do the tour, I think they would be fantastic!

Your ideas?

Tell Bob or Jack at info@chessbutler.com


In poker it’s not wise to show your hand but since publishing this Blog two votes have come in and it made me think it would be wise to expand my reach.

  1. One customer suggested GM Larry Christiansen, which was a good choice as I know Larry (I sent him royalty checks in the past). But he didn’t signal whether having Larry come would make him (my customer) come to the event, all things considered. And what would said customer feel like was a reasonable price to charge for tickets.
  2. Another customer suggested IM John Donaldson. Now John’s a good guy and everything, but we had John at our 2002 Chess Festival as one of our 4 celebrity guests! I would also like the suggester to tell me what ticket price would get him to come.


Our most successful event was our 2002 Chess Festival (Rowson, Pein, Donaldson, Smullyan). It was $75 for each one partaking in what we offered. Unfortunately one guy fed his parents and one other person (a sibling) off of our inexpensive Mexican bar! (You just can’t believe how some will take advantage and pretend to be your friend.) I believe we also had an actor doing chess and Shakespeare. It was a phenomenal event. That gig even allowed him to do some chess recordings for ChessBase! It was a great show. My attorney friend Don Aldrich thought this whole idea was a joke and a huge time waster! But we had the last laugh. When Mr. Fisher’s show was over (which was given during our dinner break) he came up to me and said something like, “I had no idea this would be this good!” We took the risk, and that’s been necessary, every time. How do we get our customers to take even a small risk? It’s only some money, inflated pocket change. Ya can’t take it with you!


A thought recently came to me and it wasn’t a particularly good one. People who spend money or airfare, food, and a ticket to a CHESS FESTIVAL could otherwise use that dough to get more chess books and DVDs!!!! Their penury misses two points:

  1. They might learn something that they haven’t so far read in a chess book, which would improve their chess life and possibly their performance.
  2. They’ve forgotten how to have fun. As my wife said to me once, “Bob sometimes you have to stop and EAT the roses!” A joke of course, but also a subliminal message.

Sometimes a good event can make you feel like chess has all been worthwhile. I actually ENVY the attendees. I am usually so busy taking care of things, making sure the computer network is up and running that I miss most of the events and lectures. To video record the proceedings costs money too. To make them into DVDs takes time and more money. Besides, I am not the USCF. At one time in the not too distant past, it cost 50-60 cents to produce one monthly issue of Chess Life (in color!). Multiply that times 12 and add a little postage. You pay $40-50 for a membership if you aren’t getting by with a life membership! What do they do with the rest of the money? Well, it’s like that here too.

Live a Little

Did you know that Larry Christiansen once beat Anatoly Karpov in 10-12 moves? How would you like to hear that story? We are trying to get past the “Chess Players are cheap” syndrome. I think Maurice Ashley is finding this out in his “Millionaire Chess!” though I wish him and his friend the best. Many of his registered guests are from outside this country who still think our streets are paved with gold! Someone should show us chess guys exactly what streets these are!

Bob & Jack (he’s 2!)


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