We remember this phrase from 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, but I have a personal experience with this problem. If you want to know, read on.

If I have one major weakness it is in being too busy sometimes. Even today I have to make a number of appointments, pick up some things, etc. The usual. And I need to fill orders when new books come in today (hopefully).

But this sordid tale which I am going to relate happened many years ago when Mercedes was still alive. I was running a Game Shop and in order to find out what was happening in the gaming world, about 1980 or so I was going to take a trip with my wife to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Maybe it was 1976. Oh well.

Everything starts out innocently enough. But I didn’t reckon on one thing. I’ll tell you about it in a minute.

It was called GENCON and I had not been to it before. That should have been a CLUE. But I was Happy Go Lucky, and though I had been a Boy Scout, I was not prepared.

We toured the place where GENCON was being held. I knew there were avid gamers there. I even ran into some of my customers I knew. I have when I visit the Chess Club in St. Louis too. People walk up to me and introduce themselves even though I don’t know them from Adam. How do they know me?


As the day winds down I start thinking about a place to stay because I always had that reputation for finding a place even at the last minute. That is not real and it is not practical. When I remarried ten years later my wife (my first wife had passed away.) was better at this than I was. She would ask, “You want me to reserve a place, you know I get a government discount (she worked for the City of Davenport)?” So that would be taken care of.

This time, in Lake Geneva there was NOTHING available. So we went out to the hinterlands and still nothing!

I said, “Let’s try the Playboy Club.” She was OK with that as long as we had a place to stay. We knew it was going to cost a lot more due to insufficient planning on my part, you know, “the Genius?”

On the way to getting lost and not finding the Playboy Club (it was pitch black dark that night) we found another place and from the looks of it, it was going to be as expensive as what we thought the Playboy Hotel would be.

I went inside and saw a couple who had just gotten married and who appeared stranded. Still in their wedding clothes and no doubt fresh from partying, they were told “No room at the inn too.” So, I wasn’t the only luckless one.

That night, somewhere out in nowheresville we slept in the car. I had not done that before, too uncomfortable. Have not done it since.

We had to keep our car windows rolled up because the mosquitoes were the size of USAF Bombers! You could almost hear the sound of them hitting the windows! On top of that the night was muggy. It WAS NOT a good experience. What bugs mosquitoes?

That was the last time that happened to me.

But, I am warning you so it doesn’t happen to you!


I am writing about the event this August for the Chess Festival we are holding for that chess raconteur Grandmaster Simon Williams at the Ramada Inn, in Bettendorf, IA. If you tell the person on the phone [(563) 355-7575] about the chess event (everyone seems to want to call it a tournament so, get over that) you will get preferred pricing for your room. I know they have a selections of possibilities but the base rate is $79.95. I have already reserved 4 nights for Mr. Williams.

Why am I telling you all this 5.5 months away from the event?

Because only two have registered at the Ramada for the Chess Renaissance Festival. That’s what I call it. The KEYWORD is “CHESS” of course.

If that number stays small we are going to get nicked $700 for the room to hold the event in!! We were promised a reduced rate if we could get 50 rooms taken, and in fact, given a BLOCK of hotel space for about that amount.

You want to save money, I want to save $700.

I warned everyone when we first ventured on this course that there was an Antique Car Show also that weekend (“No problem ? Bob, that’s a long ways off!”)

This morning I just got the word that my “cut off” date for reserving the CHESS BLOCK of ROOMS had been shrunk to July 17th. My thought was that since they could do this, they could do it again.

Here’s My Thinking!

Go ahead and reserve your room with your credit card and if the worst should happen later and you can’t make it, THEN cancel your room reservation. That’s how a chess player would handle it: With foresight and planning.

I do realize that most people could care less about “my” problems and costs (for the hall space) I know that if we get enough “citizen chess players” to stay (it’s all about the number of nights) we could possibly get the HALL for nothing! Not only would that save me $700 but we wouldn’t have to step down to the next size space. The more we save the more I would be encouraged to try it again in 2018 with a different Grandmaster. I just heard last night that GM William Lombardy was (or will be) in Burlington, Iowa. Don’t ask me about it, I wasn’t told in advance! Who knows why he was there? A relative?

Last night someone registered for the Festival (No. 15!) and he said no one at the chess club told him about it! I know people at that chess club and apparently they said nothing to anyone. The guy who directs the monthly tournaments likes his own little domain. He also sells chess stuff so it’s not in his interests to promote anything else. The Iowa Open is also that weekend this August and I have asked the Editor of Iowa’s En Passant for some PR. I am waiting for his answer.

As I said, somewhere, not too long ago. Whereas before there was not enough chess stuff going on, now there is a glut.


I moved that headline to the right on purpose. If you want knowledge, a Grandmaster has it. If you want fun, laughter, and unusual chess business, Simon Williams is your man. He has now over 13,000 followers on YouTube but you know what, there is nothing like the Live, In Person experience.

Put it this way. If Elvis were still alive, would people still go to Las Vegas to see him even though he is all over YouTube? You are darn right they would.

If Fischer was still in his prime and alive, would some big shot pay him a mill for just wandering around the match site of a world championship even though he would still proclaim himself “the champ?” The publicity and future worth would guarantee it. A Yugoslav banker coughed up a lot of “somebody’s dough” to get Fischer with Spassky in 1992. An American, of today would do that, but not in 1992. (I said, “in his prime,” meaning no rants about terrorists kicking our butts).


To call the Ramada right away (563) 355-7575 to register for rooms. Get them while you can. I am too busy to try and find rooms for people who had a chance to do it but decided to put it off. This will be a primo event, you have to make your own choices.


Registered Festival Attendee Cody Noble told me last night (thanks Cody) that a reduced airlines fare (Allegiant) flies into Moline, IL (MLI) from a number of places in the U.S. Call their customer service number at 702-505-8888.

What is Allegiant’s motto? “Pay Less, Fly More.” Give them a try if distance is your concern as well as price. Are they a “no frills” airline? I don’t know, call 702-505-8888 to find out.


T.J. Rohleder (Remember that name because I will be quoting him for the next 5 months) says “Action has its own wisdom. It’s a deep learning experience. The ‘How to do something’ always comes last. The courage to do it comes first.” I surely do know that one.

As I wrote at the beginning of this epistle, I implore you to take action. Register with us, register with the Ramada. Avoid the little birdie who constantly says “Cheap, cheap, cheap.” Live a little. Have mucho fun. Laugh with Simon. Meet new and wonderful people (they help as much as anything to make something a success. Put our event on your resume and your calendar. Show others you are one who takes action to broaden yourself and enjoy your time while you are doing it!)


You probably enjoy chess and that’s why you read this blog. Only 35 are signed up for it but many more than that read it. Why not JOIN and that way all new blogs, including updated ones, will automatically come your way.

Register for the Festival and you will automatically get THE CHESS GAZETTE for FREE emailed to you whenever there is a new one (twice a month).

Remember, a lie sounds better than the truth because it appeals to our lazy nature. That’s why you will get the most out of being around people who aren’t lazy. An example of 2 of these great guys are Ron Nurmi and Steve Lamansky. They are responsible for encouraging others to come. What’s in it for them? They LOVE having a good time don’t they? I know they do. For 5 Festivals we have had great presenters. I have gotten great “leads” from guys like Allan Savage. I expect this will continue if we can make this August event thrive.

So… give Jerry or Maria a call at the Ramada and tell them you are coming. That phone number is (563) 355-7575 to register for rooms.


What on earth does that mean? It means the Chess Butler sells good stuff only and you will be able to find it at the Renaissance event (including a SWAP MEET.) No Homer Simpson chess pieces like the USCF was selling at past National events. We may have a few previously owned chess sets, nice stuff at knockdown prices. You can pre-order the event T-shirts in L, XL, and XXL at $25. Wear it home. I already have ideas for the design based on Simon Williams himself! Like in the picture we could well have a Simon Williams ball cap, get Rusty Miller to come he might get several of the T-shirts as he has been known to order and re-order our Fischer t-shirts, our all time best seller; partly  because it was in 4-colors! He got noticed, wore it in a lot of places.

We will have not only good books but hope to introduce the new Purdy book (Secrets of the Chessboard) at this event. If you have prepaid you can pick it up at the Festival. The cover has already been made. $24.95 if you pay for it in advance. If you aren’t at the Festival to pick it up we will mail it to you if you live in the USA.


Silly me, I have done this before. Write a Blog and instead of sticking to one topic, introduce several. The reason for this marketing rule is to help people focus and take action. The reason I break it is because I never know what will strike a person’s fancy. Warning them about the reserved block of rooms isn’t all that sexy UNTIL you need a room! I don’t want those who wait until the last minute like it is a bad habit to be angry at me because more people would rather see an Antique Auto Show than come to a chess event. But you might want to consider a FORM of a COMPROMISE. About 15 miles from where I live is a company in LeClaire, IA called the American Pickers! The folks on TV who sell everything from soup to nuts including Paul Morphy’s chess table!! (I thought that would wake you up.) If you intend to stay an extra day or two (One guy who came to our past chess clinics stayed 5 days!) You might want to give them a call to make sure when they are open as they are open to the public. I couldn’t find their phone number but you can go online to sign up for their newsletter.

And now something about LeClaire, IA: LeClaire has dining that ranges from gourmet cuisine, comfort food, fast food to local favorites as well as wine tasting, brewery, distillery, coffee and a variety of bars. And something the ad forgot to mention, great chocolates! Brung your significant other.

Oh yeah, one other thing: One of the Pickers, I’ve been told, lives in Davenport, Iowa! As I have mentioned previously, there are 1,300 events in this area between June and September. We are, at select times, a tourist hot spot. So, once again, be sure to call the Ramada Inn at (563) 355-7575 to register for rooms. So, even if you can find a place for $5-10 cheaper, it’s always BEST to stay where the event is being held. Isn’t it? TAKE ACTION chess Knight.


Bob & Jack





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