Doubting Thomas Takes a Seat in the Electric Chair!

In the past sometimes I worried too much, especially as a businessman. Some say they don’t worry, I interpreted that as they “didn’t care.”

As I matured and became stronger in my faith worrying happened less and less.

Why worry about things which I had no control over? Why? Did it give me something to do? Like I need more things to do.


Not too long ago I found a newsletter of mine from September of 1976 when I was in the business of selling magic effects, books, equipment and seats to lectures! This magazine, named The Sorcerer’s Eyes, was way before the CHESS GAZETTE.

I wrote:

“Don’t forget the Don Alan lecture. We have sold a grand total of 6 advance tickets! I must admit I am very disappointed in the response of the area magicians or those who profess to be magicians. 30 is a minimum number of tickets for us to sell to break even. Don doesn’t appear to be worried (why should he be?), says that some people often wait until the last minute and then find out that once they get to the door, the room has been sold out. We asked the Sheraton for no more than 50 chairs because the room is not very large and we want everyone to be able to see. I have read John Mendoza’s manuscript that will be published later this year on choice magic only, and near the end of his REVISITED, he confides that “Don Alan is the best magician for close-up entertainment today.” I know John believes it. I readily admit that the admission price of $15 is high, or even the lower $12.50. However, over 100 in Minneapolis and at the Chicago site paid $15 EACH to see Dai Vernon, and Don Alan is probably as well known. So forget your excuses, scrape some cash together and come over and purchase  a ticket from us at THE THINKERS’ EMPORIUM before the Tuesday night. What tickets are left will be sold at the door, but don’t make me sweat any more than I have to. If you are interested in or care about magic, you should regret it for the rest of your magical days if you do not see him. Don should be in the store for talk, autographs, etc. between 6 and 7 PM. The show starts at 8 PM in the Sheraton Motor Inn in Rock Island. Only ticket holders will be allowed in the store at this time. I feel I have an obligation to those that bought the tickets, and moochers that try to get Don’s autograph without paying the price are unwelcome. We have stuck our neck out on the line, will you?”

It must’ve worked because we had nearly a full house!

Even my sister and brother in law were there and they had to buy their tickets! At one point Don was thumping his electric watch and putting it to his ear and he asked the audience, “Does anyone have a watch like this?” My brother-in-law, Bill, raised his arm and said “I do.” Then Don (a master comedy magician) replied, “Do you also have a set of jumper cables?” The audience went up in roaring flames. Bill loved the attention he got for his $30.00. He was really happy he came.

There was more!

Those were some pretty heady days back then. Early that afternoon we had some press over, a news photographer and Don asked the reporter if he had a quarter. Don lit a cigarette, took a couple puffs, blew on the quarter, mumbled some archaic phrase and pushed the cig straight through the middle of the quarter!! The photographer got the shot and the next day it was all over the newspaper! Too late for us to sell tickets to the show that night but newspapers are that way. In a couple days I will be contacting the newspaper and TV stations about Simon Williams, they’ll do their best, I am sure, to also cover us at the last minute. They wonder why they are in decline. Comments?

Back to the Electric Chair!

So far we have 36 who have PAID for their tickets. Another 4 tickets to 4 special people who have done favors for the Chess Butler. Like in the excerpt above, another 10 sold tickets at $150 each would go a long way to cover the cost of the exhibition room for Simon and his hotel room. We only have a few seats left for the Sunday Simul at $20 each because I am limiting the simul to 40 players.

We will have Simon merchandise for sale in the form of books and DVDs. My son Nate will be helping us with logistics and Christine (daughter, she has worked all my festivals) and Brianna (granddaughter) will be helping us in sales. Brianna, through our magnificent Canadian friend Ken MacDonald, will be handling food on mid-Saturday afternoon at the break. Also, FREE!

There are T-shirts which people want too, and we are past the 18 needed to order them from the printer (thanks!). They are $24.95 for sizes up thru XL. For XXL it is $27.95. And for XXXL to 5XL it is $31.95. You can PAYPAL us or use your credit card up through July 15. On July 17th I order them from Summit Graphics and you can pick them up on August 18th at our night before party at Old Chicago, right next to the Ramada. Come hungry. Pizza will be supplied FREE by Steve Lamansky, Mike Vuolo, and the Chess Butler.

Same for “last minute” registration, $150 now. $200 starting July 17-August 18. I have too many things to do at the last minute to be handling questions, and selling registrations. All the mdse. must be marked before we bring the stuff to the Ramada (563-355-7575). This is an incentive to move your fanny right now.


You’ll get both from Simon. On his DVDs which we will be selling, he is primarily serious. In person or on YouTube he is SIMON! Personally I like both for obvious reasons. Sometimes it is necessary to get down to business. In person a little light-heartedness can go a long way to keeping your tonsils busy.

High Def. video will be taken by Avenue Studios and we have to pay them in advance (there is no FREE lunch, get used to that) for all day work. Simon and his team in England will be putting together the lectures from Saturday (Aug. 19th) and sometime later they will be sold (at a discount to those who want the DVD of the lectures and who were registered).

This Probably Explains my Heightened Sense of Nervousness! or WORRY!

However, the minimum for the T-shirt order has been made. There will be no more t-shirts made on this premium Gildan cloth. So this is your chance. SOME have ordered more than one t-shirt, you might want to also. Must be prepaid.

Secondly, I was having problems with making the Simon Williams’ Shock & Awe Playbook! this past week. Finally they have been resolved. Erica, the gal who was overseeing my production wrote this morning:

“Thanks Bob,
I was giggling at your email this morning, “I am a former mathematician, and good at this stuff. Somewhere along my path I went off the rails.” I love math too and totally understand! I’m sorry you had to go through that, but I’m glad that things are working out for you. Continue onward to rethinking and rewiring! 

I am confident our copies will arrive on time. I will let you know in these pages.


Those who PAID for their registration will get a copy of the book on Simon’s Games (48 annotated) for FREE. Originally I planned to sell copies to others for $39.95. However, I have dropped the price to $29.95 because at the last minute I turned into a cream puff! How often has that happened? But, if you aren’t here you won’t get your copy autographed (if that is what you desire)!

One thing I don’t want to forget is the Sunday Evening Q&A. I checked my back records of previous Chess Festivals and in 2002 we had Ray Smullyan. The Professor regaled us with magic and music because he was a professional pianist, and he did imitations of Victor Borge! At lunch on the previous day Mike Fisher did a portrayal of Chess through the Eyes of William Shakespeare, at our lunch, which was a riot. He went on to do some recordings for Chessbase and their Fritz engines. Seating for the Q&A session is $25. We have about 8 seats left. Get YOUR questions answered while Simon relaxes with you for a couple hours. The PERSONAL TOUCH! I believe in the value of Feelings and Personality, they are my CORE thoughts and feelings in conducting business. Do you feel you get that from my competitors??

Simon will be working hard and we are hoping you can break into your piggy bank to make the trip to Bettendorf, Iowa Aug. 18-20. Summer is the busy Season. Our block of rooms disappears on July 15. They have good rates and are just waiting for your phone call. Be sure to mention the Chess Festival. (563-355-7575)

More details will be made available if you have given us your email or physical street address.

Contact Bob Long at:

PS: Doubting Thomas. Remember him from the Gospel? All the things on my mind sometimes makes me forget HE is watching over me, especially when I request it. A couple days ago a big box of Simon Williams DVDs arrived at the Chess Butler’s address. I am working on putting a brochure together to tell you about them and to offer you a special price on these extremely valuable disks. Might even help you to have a few questions for Simon at the Q&A! I hope to get the price list and comments out today or tomorrow.

So… profuse thanks to my Lord for watching over me and helping me in ways only he knows how to stop my worrying and just enjoy the time and what’s coming.

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