RECENTLY I watched an online video by one of my favorite marketers, Drayton Bird, from England. He’s about 80.

This guy knew success as well as the misery, panic and nervousness of everything, including his latest, his LAST HURRAH. In Bristol, several hundred pounds (sterling) worth.

Drayton sold his marketing business to David Ogilvy, of Ogilvy & Mather, years ago, for millions. Eventually he went off to do his own thing but not before David Ogilby gave the comment, “Drayton knows more about direct marketing than anyone alive.” Probably true.

But at his Last Hurrah he delves into the secrets and failures and the guy has a lock on the word “charm.”

He asked a question the other day which I think is appropriate: “When putting on an event doesn’t it usually work out that there is a flurry of people who sign up at the beginning, then a low point in the middle of the calendar, and ending with another last minute rush at the end?”

He had asked some of his friends if they had experienced a similar situation? They all said “yes!”

Is that true of CHESS FESTIVALS? Not necessarily.

On Chess Festival V it started out with 7-10 people signing up early, as well as the excuses for not being able to come, also early. We are in the “trough” so to speak now and it has been fairly even for the last couple months. Now we are getting to the last 2 months and it is dribs and drabs.

I think part of this reason is the Simultaneous Exhibition. We have 33 signed up and now we are down to those who want to go home on Sunday instead of playing or who don’t want to pay for another hotel night, or this surprising one: “I know I will lose if I play the Grandmaster and my ego can’t quite take that!”

Amazing. Are they saying they’ve never lost a game, or they did once, and it was unbearable so they would rather not play? It’s only $20. You can buy the set and board afterwards and take it home with you, autographed, right? A memory forever. Maybe the wrong kind of memory for some.

I can remember playing the Rev. Fr. Catich, probably in my 20s. We played 5 games without a clock (I didn’t know about them back then). Catich was one of those true geniuses, in everything: art, mathematics, printing, chess, and being a priest. He had been orphaned and stayed in an orphanage in Montana before being moved to Illinois.

He played in the Chess Review Golden Knights event and I saw a game of his published where he sacked 2 rooks and won. He played in one of those events and scored 49.5 out of 50. The half point came from a miscalculation which he caught in time. It was postal chess and while he was working that morning, he was thinking of the card he had mailed when all of a sudden it occurred to him he had written down on his card a “not so good move.” What did he do? “I went by the mailbox and waited for the mailman who picked up the mail.” He asked him if he could trade him “this” card for the one he stuck into the letter box. As he knew the USPS guy, the carrier let him. It turned a loss into a draw.

He loved correspondence chess and in a near future article in the Chess Gazette I will be promoting it! Here here.

I took an appreciation of Fine Arts class from him. It massaged my head. Wonderful stuff.

One night we played 5 games and I won one of them! Surprise for me. As I was leaving I asked if he would sign the 5 score sheets. With a sheepish look on his face he inquired, “Do I have to sign the loss?” My reply was brief: “Especially that one!”

You see I had spent a year in the math dept. at the University of Iowa and I bought copies of Chess Review from the Mott Drugstore magazine stand. And I read Jack Straley Battell’s Golden Knights section. So I had already known that Catich was one heckuva chess player and he was known at St. Ambrose College, where I went to school as one of the top calligrapher’s in the world.

Now, where is that score sheet? I need to clean up my basement, maybe it’s there.

Getting back to the Chess Festival V of 2017, won’t you please sign up for the Simul as well as the lectures? All forms of payment accepted (except Am. Express). $150 + $20. You will have the time of your life.

How do I know? I just got the word from Simon today that his request for a Work Visa in the US was accepted. We are both breathing a sigh of relief. Now if you sign up for Simon’s work interlude here, you will help me to breath a sigh of relief too.


Bob & Jack


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