Monday, May 31, 2010


The movies have been made. I was amazed that a lot of it has come back to me. But, I need to create a "theme" and perhaps a music intro. If I am on the ball tomorrow, it will be done Tuesday. The stuff is amazingly good. I'll tell you more about the surprise Killer Stuff once it is done.

These things always make me nervous because it seems like you can proof, you can check, etc. and there is always some concern about getting something wrong. This looks good and if everything works well, I will burn 1 of each and play them before sending out. Of course I am getting blue in the face looking and hearing them, but I WILL be trying some of these out though in advance I can't tell you which ones in case we run into each other!...LOL

Prices were published and you can check the PDF I sent out on DVDs. The deadline for great prices on the silver discs is June 16th I believe and a few have taken advantage, but not too many. I know I sold them to people on my lists, but these prices are absurdly LOW as I try to go mainstream.

Call me if you want and tell me which items you would like: 563-271-6657.

Back to the salt mines. I tried to miss my self-imposed deadline of May (recently) but because I am not much of a calendar guy, I thought May 31st was Tuesday! My todo list had 28 items on it this morning for this week. I've only gotten 5-6 done!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Years ago I had a chess colleague named Tom. Tom had an incredible memory. Tom was also a B.S.-er par excellence, finagler, and cheap as can be. But the memory thing was mostly tied to traps. In fact, Irving Chernev's Winning Chess Traps. 300 traps of all kinds. Some of them probably not worth publishing but 300 was the number, sort of like 1001 or 101.

For some reason people can't afford even a $2.95 book, which was what that book sold for at the time. Tom did buy that book, memorized most of the traps in there, especially stuff related to the Bishop's Opening or the Giuoco Piano (Italian Game for young people).

It sounds ridiculous but I saw instances where his opponents walked right into them, first foot forward, then the whole body, the hokey pokey with no taking of body parts out!

You would think, wouldn't you, that if you saw someone sacking their Q you might be suspicious. The problem is, in a few cases, by sacking his Q, Tom was usually already up a piece. When they took the Q he would deliver mate. None of these traps were particularly sneaky, they just worked that way.

I don't remember any of his victims coming to me and asking, "Do you know where he got that idea?" Nah, they just prayed they wouldn't do it again.

In 1998, for Gambit, Steve Giddins wrote 101 Chess Opening Traps. These are said to be "deadly." They must be because this book has been reprinted 3 more times! These are old and new. Lest you think only unknowns lose in this collection, you better have another look. Most games appear to be less than 20 moves. This book retails for $14.95. The G&L CHESS price is $12.75 and the Gold Card price is $11.25. It's hard to beat.

Next up is John Nunn's 101 Chess Miniatures. I mentioned this one in The Chess Reports recently and subscriber Chris Kim told me the book has been added to, title changed, and price raised. But it's only 24 more games. Th 101 book is $19.95 retail even though it is a 1999 book (but these games are timeless). The revised and larger book is $29.95 and titled Grandmaster Secrets: Winning Quickly at Chess. I suggest, don't SPEND your money! I like Nunn's writing skills but I really am tired of everything coming out of Gambit as a "Secret." None of us play like Gandmasters so why is he writing this book for us, or, is it for us? Gambit has been doing a lot of "retread" work too. When I see something like this my first thought is that the author not only wants to update what he did, but to correct problems with what originally happened--caused by the rush to publish.
The G&L CHESS price is $16.95 and the Gold Card price is $14.95.

You can buy BOTH of these from G&H CHESS at the following prices:
$25.75 + $4.25 shipping or $30.00 total.

For the Gold Card the 2-book price would be $24.95 + $4.05 for shipping or $29.00. There is power in owning a Gold Card. I can ship right away.

I hope all of you have a great Memorial Day Weekend. Don't forget the visit the graves site of those who have been important to you. It always brings me back to reality.

I won't be writing on Monday.

Friday, May 28, 2010


It's late afternoon and I am still working on my DVD Experience Salesheet, or, how to get some really great stuff for cheap. I don't prefer that road to be honest. But I had someone change big order numbers on me and I got stuck with a lot of "silver" DVDs (no printing on them). So I am selling them at greaaaat price reductions... will email out the details, and then maybe take a nap. This writing has been going on all day.

I think, to promote a really good story, along with beneficial results for everyone, takes time and thought. Maybe you will prove me right. I hope to get the new PDF out within the next couple hours.

Thanks for tuning in... Don't forget the Endgame sale which ceases at midnight tomorrow.

PS: New in Chess has just published a number of chess books for kids which I do not intend to stock. I hope they do well. For me, they are hard to market. From everything I have seen in the past from publishers for the younger set, it seems to me that when I was that age, I probably wouldn't have appreciated it much. But that could just be me. Are books such as this not sophisticated enough or just plain dumbed down. Maybe you can tell me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Customers have been sending me Credit Card info since the late 1980s, with no glitches.

Some are brave and send by email, some call, some write (few).

But, it's 2010 and I see a number of these numbers about ready to expire. So if yours is one and you will be using the same credit card number, just update me with your expiration date AND 3-digit security number on the back.

Some are reluctant to give that 3-digit number and I don't know why, so I will explain. That number is more for me than it is for you. My electronic machine asks for it. If I don't have it, I just hit the "enter" button, and usually it goes through. But it seems to me, that when I input the security code it virtually always goes through.

These Security codes were printed on the back of the card when there was a spike in online CC # theft from huge lists of card numbers (and expire dates only, but which did not contain a security code). When someone tries to order something on the phone from me and they do not have that 3-digit code, I know they don't have the card in their hand! When I tell them "I can't process the card" they often end up having to actually GET a card. They're probably annoyed with me, but as you can guess, I get out my duck feathers.

So as I said, we've never had a CC # problem, except, yes, in New York City. It was a former employee of a major credit card company. Last I heard he had faced several firing squads and then 10 years in the electric chair.

P.S. Some people send me their credit card info in 4-8 digit chunks via email. This has worked too.

NOTE: Unfortunately, new books scheduled to be received today have yet to show. Sometimes I get them at 6 P.M.! Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Skipped Wednesday, too much to do.

New in Chess Yearbook #94 came in today and autoship copies will be mailed out too. Looks really good.

Also Vol. 4 of Chess Opening Essentials is here and may be the best of the four! Reti, King's Indian Attack, lots on the English, and of course the BIZARRE moves such as h3, a4, f3, etc. And whatever was missing from vols. 1-3.

Tomorrow I expect Avrukh's Vol. 2 finally. And next week? Why we lose at chess.

Am finishing up the TPi DVD sets. Will be mentioned in issue #106 of The Chess Reports. which is ready for Friday along with a Gold Card ONLY sale. But it's only for 3 days!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


For years many knew that my company disposed of chess estates. Sometimes we bought and sometimes we sold on consignment. This was done for those who were alive and those who had passed away.

I don't do as much of that today, partly because of eBay (Amazon, B&N, etc.) and partly due to a decline in demand for used (or as I call them, "previously owned") items, books, magazines, souvenirs, equipment and DVDs--often because the items are WAY overpriced.

Used chess stuff is not THE chess niche because those places I just mentioned exhibit many prices which are totally unrealistic. For example, some time back someone paid $70+ for a set of 8 issues of SQUARES magazine(a TPi publication). Insane. I have about 100 sets at $30 each. Did the buyer contact me? No and he knew I existed! Strange but how can one make money when dealing with folks who don't know what they are doing and they have finely honed that skill? Someone informed me that Amazon was trying to sell Purdy's Chess Bits and… Obits for $160 as I had just told Amazon the day before it was out of print. What that told me was that there was a "leak" in Amazon AND that many of those "companies" who purport to sell things "no one else" has are owned or licensed/partnered by Amazon. When I reprinted the book (with no difference in the 1st or 2nd printing) Amazon has since ordered ONE copy of that book! So much for scarcity. The downside is that it makes other greedy people think such a book is worth that amount of money and they try to sell theirs for $5 less!

If one wants to make a LOT of $$$ all they have to do is find a great niche product and people who want to buy it. Isn't that the rub? What IS such a product and where does one find the people who want buy it? I KNOW one good chess niche but it is very expensive to carry it out. How does one find partners? Well, I wouldn't want those who are already doing such chess things to partner with me as I don't see their methods of handling it as being worthwhile or any good. They won't operate well for the long haul, it's all about their money NOW.

I still do sales by consignment but what I need is a complete descriptive list (title, author, publisher, year, condition in an email or on a CD--no more handwritten stuff--making a catalog takes long enough). And I have run into those who have bought highly discounted books and who want to re-offer them to me! Somehow if they think I am that stupid, then I might be stupid enough to not know HOW to PAY them! Everyone, it seems, has chess stuff to sell.

If you are doing estate planning you may choose to do business with me so it isn't a mess for your heirs. You can contact me at:

Monday, May 24, 2010


On Thursday last week in this Blog I suggested that after reading Masha Gessen's Perfect Rigor about Russian math genius Grigory Perelman that Robert Fischer had Asperger's Syndrome.

Well, blog reader Bob Woodworth sent a couple pages from Weekend Chess and the May 2008 issue featured an article by Kenny Harman titled "Could Bobby Fischer have been saved?" He too posits that Fischer had Asperger's Syndrome as a kid.

David Edmonds who was a co-author of Bobby Fischer Goes to War suggested the same thing. I had read about half that book but not the part(s) concerning his mental state. Harman also suggests that Fischer was a paranoid schizophrenic.

The part I found interesting was that ASD most likely helped Fischer to become world chess champion in 1972 because it "protected Bobby from the overwhelming stress that Spassky had to endure." Sounds quite reasonable. No I am not a doctor, and neither are most of you but when you compare the conditions (and explanations), a lot of soil has been turned over.

Thanks Bob Woodworth.

BTW, hot items of last week: Nigel Short DVD. Seirawan DVDs sold out, but still have plenty of the book.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

WHEN IS 2008 THE SAME AS 2010?

Batsford just released (finally released?) Anatoly Karpov's Find The Right Plan. Co-authored by Anatoly Matsukevich (I feel "sorry" for these guys who do a lot of the work but who get second billing).

Although it's not easy to tell who wrote what, this book is a step up from Karpov's usual stuff. One reason is that most of the games which are studied do not include Karpov's games! Let's face it, most of us will never play like Karpov and except for the stubborn, he's not that understandable.

What the book IS about is full games, short games, and game fragments as well as an exercises section. Chess planning is not that easy but the authors offer some great tips. I really need to do a deeper probe of the book, perhaps in The Chess Reports #107 because there are just too many good things which can't be covered in a blog. But I'll add a couple more: "Until the center is blockaded, operations on the flank may be premature." Notice he says may. But isn't that a point worth remembering? These things are mentioned throughout this 256 page book. Here's another, related one: "The main weapon against a mobile pawn center is to blockade it."

The retail is $22.95. The G&L CHESS price is $19.50 and for those who own 2010 Gold Cards the price is $17.25, a savings of $5.70.

The translation from the Russian was done by Sarah Hurst, but the copyright page says the book was available in the UK in 2008 but, as far as I know, it's only available NOW in the US. This is a typical Batsford tactic. What can they gain by this? The only thing I can think of is they didn't yet have a distributor in the US but that doesn't cut it anymore because Sterling, in NY, has been handling their books for years, including, this one. Batsford does not think of their authors.

Now on to something else from Batsford. I also got in more of two other titles: Andy Soltis' excellent The wisest things ever said about chess with over 250 annotated positions (retail $21.95, G&L $18.50, Gold Card $16.50) and Irving Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move, every move explained. This book has been printed and reprinted more than 20 times although this is not mentioned on the copyright page. Each time Batsford reprints around 3,000 copies. What really amazes me, and is so unbelievably ignorant of Batsford, is that they don't print 5,000. This is the "secret" number where publishers get their best cost/book benefit. Then they wouldn't run out of the book and therefore irk so many people! But Batsford, may have another idea... and that is to raise the price every couple years but that really hasn't been done egregiously. So what other possibilities are there? In one game in the above mentioned Karpov book a game is headed as being the Alekhine's Defense (and played in the game by Alekhine), but it ISN'T!! It's 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4; the Giuoco Piano or Italian Game. I've heard rumored many times that Batsford doesn't use a proofreader for their chess books anymore. So, you may ask, "What has that got to do with anything?"

Actually, a lot. It shows just how clueless they can be and that reprinting a book in a timely fashion just doesn't occur to them because it is an "insane" publishing policy of theirs. (Some old guard people quote the "that's the way we've always done it" argument to death!) The pricing for this at $21.95 is the same as for the Soltis book. Although the idea of Chernev's book is good, the design of the book is ugly and makes studying it a chore rather than a pleasure. Batsford simply doesn't care! I think THAT must be their plan and their policy.

One last thing. As I burn lots of DVDs on a weekend to be ready for next week's shipments, I am re-proofing the disks I will be using as my "master discs." One I am working on now is from Andrew Martin's Busy Man's Chess Openings. The disc on the ...b6 is truly absolutely fabulous. I've obviously heard and seen this video many times but as I relook again, I am simply mesmerized by how GOOD it really is! Soon they will be re-released and depending on the package you order, the pricing policy will be unprecedented by TPi (Thinkers' Press, inc.). Please WATCH THIS SPACE.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Progress. I am hoping that I will be able to print with no problems on the new publishing system now that the burned discs are coming out. And of course it's necessary to test samples to make sure they are okay, as even the master is tested.

I have artwork and stuff done for Black Shockers but the system isn't always cooperating so Friday eve. will be spent working on that, Gradually, it's coming together but I will say, software/hardware manuals haven't gotten better, and perhaps they are worse!

I planned on having a huge number of DVD reviews ready for the next The Chess Reports (#106) but that won't happen as the machine I was going to do them on has been hogged by the duplicator. However, to take its place is something you will also like, I believe… "What kind of player are you?" It's kind of a spin off of Lars Bo Hansen's Foundations of Chess Strategy and I will give him 95% of the credit and also hope to reward him with increased sales because taking what he wrote and turning it into something personal will give you clues as to how you are faring and perhaps show you whether or not you are the player you think you are!? And if that isn't enough, the lessons are definitely icing on the cake.

Back to duping more discs and hopefully get them printed and unto the hands of those who will learn a lot if given a little time.

Got a story about attending a chess festival or clinic I can use? Let me know.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I have plans for several web sites, offering specific promotions and sales.

For the time being I want to get some "placeholders." That is a web site, at low cost because it will be a while before I actually have the time to do something. I am aware of sites that can be bought for $2.95 or $8.95 etc. but usually they want you to get other services too. I barely have the time to do one at a time! Something for less than $10 a year with no strings attached is about right. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Second, I am announcing here, and as far as I know, something about Bobby Fischer that has never been touched upon. I think he was autistic or had the Aspberger Syndrome. Now I am no expert on this stuff but last night I was reading Perfect Rigor a terrific book on the math genius Grigory Perelman, the Russian math genius who solved the 100 year old Poincare problem. Fischer and Perelman share many of the same personality disorders: don't see the world the way others do, only interested in their view, narrowly define everything they do, and so on. It appears in this book (superb by the way) by Masha Gessen that many of the world's brilliant mathematicians are often like this, and physicists too (who are often mathematicians in disguise). When I hear the name "autism" I often think of a screaming kid, but it's more than that. So while I was reading about the recluse Perelman it came to mind that Fischer and he were very much alike. Gessen doesn't say that Perelman was autistic, but the evidence strongly points in that direction because people who live this situation often won't let anyone near them who they perceive as threatening. Their reasoning is sound if looked at in one light, but totally weird-city if looked at in another.

Lastly, for today, I have a review copy of Why we lose at chess by Colin Crouch, with a dark and foreboding cover. Laz Munoz highly recommends it. My stock won't be here for a week or so. But it looks like another Crouch winner, just don't confuse it with an older title, Why You Lose at Chess--a title that was quoted to me on the phone last week by an unidentified caller (no social skills). I told him I didn't have it. My book by Les Ault, called The Genesis of Power Chess was sometimes incorrectly referred to as The Genius of Power Chess. I am constantly amazed that people don't get what they want because they don't know the exact or real title. used to happen all the time in grad school. It was important to know names and authors.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


The official release date is May 28th, and that is in Germany. It then takes about a week to clear customs and get to my distributor in England. Then it takes 4-5 days to get here from the USA distributor.

As to the prices, those prices on the ChessBase web site don't mean much and most dealers know it. Our distributor adjusts his prices once a year pegged to the Euro. Well, now that the Euro officially sucks (bringing in those countries who show no restraint showed no restraint by the European Union who was more interested in "memberships" than stability (it always comes down to power and/or money doesn't it?)) Then there is country VAT (tax) charges which shouldn't affect us in the US. But international air shipping (freight) is added to the wholesale price too, so, life is not a bowl of cherries!

Some think $20-$50 for a 90 minute DVD is a lot of dough and I agree. So I have been sticking with the ChessBase DVDs which are seldom ever shorter than 4 hours.

Let's see if the distributor revises the prices downward this fall if the Euro is still collecting wind. I wouldn't bet on it! (Remember what I wrote above about money and power.) However, I did notice that while Shirov usually "gets" $40 for his DVDs, this last batch is $38. So there's hope!

I won't be able to publish the retail rices until next week when I ask for them from my distributor. But I can say that I'm already getting orders for Rybka--which is supposed to be even more aggressive and tactical. I must admit, I don't get that. Does it come down to positional wins versus tactical slugfests? There must be defense in there if the equation is to be "balanced." Shredder is an aggressive program but recently they "tamed" it to bring its evaluation function into parity with REALITY.

I think one thing we should ALWAYS be after in evaluations is truth and accuracy (as well as speed). Maybe you can win some games through crazy assaults but if the "opposition comes up with a tactical killer, then, nothing has been gained.

ONE LAST THING: If I depended only on book sales I would be dead in the water as a reseller. I do sell a lot of DVDs. One reason I recently got for LIKING DVDs came from old friend Don Aldrich. He had Heart Triple Bypass and he isn't up to studying books yet (which can be intense) and so he watches ChessBase DVDs. I do not encourage heart problems just so you can watch DVDs! Another reason is that on opening DVDs the presenters cut to the chase so you can quickly find out what the critical lines are. Most DVDs cost you less than $10/hour of watching. That's a good deal.

That ad in Chess Life about preorders is baloney. I'll have these Rybka's as soon as everyone else, assuming the oil spill doesn't pull us under!

Stay Tuned folks.


So goes a ZZ Top song.

I have had a new DVD duplicator for several weeks and so far it hasn't produced jack (or jill). I won't go into all the details or excuses, but I do intend to print some Wednesday or Thursday should everything go right. White skin ink jet top on dual layer jobbies. Not as fantastic as I had it originally but the darn thing was going through ink like crap through a goose and these puppy cartridges cost $50 each (if one well runs out, it's over!)

Tonight I am going to work on next week's TCR (The Chess Reports)... at least part of it, so this "museum piece" will be my Wednesday filing. It will have many meaningful "letters," DVD reviews, and the Diary of an A Player at last week's tournament. Sounds easy doesn't it? Don't try it at home, maybe a park bench with a bottle of hootch. I think you will like the selection this time, something a little different and all of it a very interesting read!

I'm still trying to figure out why those who I do not know are constantly requesting catalogs and I never hear from them again. I need a real grabber don't I? How about, "How to Become A Chess Grandmaster with no $$$ down and you only pay after you have become one!" Think that would do it? Not if it cost anything. I knew a fellow who turned down a board to play Fischer in a simul in the mid 60s because it was $5. He later said he regretted not paying. I asked him if Fischer were around (this was in the 90s) and wanted $200 for a simul seat would be pay now?" He started mulling. I said to him, "I thought so." He smiled. He got it. He was cheap. Nothing was EVER going to be the right price for him.

Monday, May 17, 2010


In 1918 Frank Marshall unleashed what has become known as the Marshall Attack. It is all about precision. If you have a good memory, or are jammed with "logic", this is an opening you might consider knowing because it is a point maker! David Vigorito has written Understanding the Marshall Attack for Gambit. It retails for $23.95. Vigorito explains that there is an easier way to understand the Marshall... even at higher levels (where many moves are forced). Give it a try.

A few years ago British GM Aaron Summerscale produced a landmark book. It covered the Colle-Zukertort, the Barry Attack and the 150 Attack. It was landmark because no one had published this kind of stuff before in book form. (And I'll tell you why: several potential authors told me it was too much work--and I have heard that before. Since then David Rudel and Aaron Summerscale have done VERY WELL writing about these subjects!) It's called A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire and it has been released in a New Enlarged Edition AND with a co-author, Sverre Johnsen. Let me elucidate the contents: The three previously mentioned + Beating the Anti-Colle Systems, The Classical Queen's Indian, the Anti-Benoni, the Anti-Dutch, and some wild Odds & Ends.

I've decided to pick up a few more Gambit books because I've always liked them, and, they are quite good. I recommend them to anyone who wants to get better.

Chess Endings Made Simple by Ian Snape. First rate. $19.95 retail.

101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures by John Nunn. Expert chess opening advice in under 25 moves. $19.95 retail.

101 Chess Opening Traps by Steve Giddins. A little extra help in the openings' department to get those kind of games to finish off your opponents in record time. $14.95.

Two new other books are scheduled to be here this week: One by Karpov on finding the right moves and another by Andy Soltis.

These items are available now and will be in the next catalog. In fact I occasionally carry other items that aren't in the catalogs. A simple email to me will clarify whatever needs to be clarified.

Look forward to a chat. I had a fellow call me this morning to tell me how much better my service is than two well-known companies... and my prices were better too. More info to appear in The Chess Reports.


For those who remember this title by Andy Soltis published by Chess Digest, I am looking for a copy for a client.

Anyone out there have a copy they want to get rid of. Describe condition and price wanted.



NOTE: Just read on ChessBase today that there was a rumor that Topalov's team had (?) access to a 112 core computer cluster (makes Hydra sound weak) using Rybka 4. That's wanting to win really badly if that's true!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Today, Saturday, I will be playing chess at a one day tournament. It has a fast time control, 65 minutes + 5 second delay. Hmmm. Am I crazy?

I am doing this the day before so I will tell you about the DVDs I will be reviewing next week. Here's what I have IN stock:

1. O'Kelly Sicilian by Andrew Martin.

2. Sicilian Najdorf 6.Bg5 by A. Shirov.

3. Nigel Short Greatest Hits Vol. 1.

4. Power Play 13 The Squeeze by Daniel King.

5. The Slav and Semi-Slav Revisited by Alexei Shirov.

6. Spanish Exchange Variation by Andrew Martin.

7. The Queen's Gambit Accepted by Valei Lilov.

8. The Sicilian Kan Variation by Valeri Lilov/

9. The Two Knights Defence by Lawrence Trent.

Some really powerful stuff there. Already I've disposed of half of my PowerPlay 13s, so don't wait long.
If you order ANY of these today, I will give you my good price, but I will give you FREE shipping. Only for this Saturday.

Leave me e-mails at:

In the meantime, wish me luck and I will pray for success. You can do that too if you wish. I want to bring back good stories for upcoming The Chess Reports. Hang in their gang.

The Kid.

Friday, May 14, 2010


It seems the answer is: "No harder than it ever was." But, "How hard was that?" you might ask.

It's intense. I usually gather materials such as books and DVDs. Here's a few for The Catalan that I have been studying:

1. FCO by Paul van der Sterren. Fundamental Chess Openings. On pages 24-26 he gives an excellent overview (I recommend this idea). He gives typical move orders (and there are many) and it is classified under the Queen's Gambit rather than its own opening. This is a good start. $29.95.

2. Then, play the Catalan by Nigel Davies. Nearly 200 pages of details and yet at times it seems there could be more IF I had all that extra time to study. What I did do was input (into ChessBase) about 35 games from the book which interested me. I read Davies' observations and preferences, which were not inconsiderable. Davies can play sharp positions after suitable peparation but he seems to prefer solidity. On the other hand he will give you many games of others. $24.95.

3. Chess Opening Essentials 3 (Indian Defences, Complete) by Djuric, Komarov, and Pantaleoni. Even though this is a fianchetto, it is on White's side of the board! Hence, I do agree with van der Sterren's classification. But what does COE have going for it? Some repetition of the first two recommendations above, but an even further subdivide of: Open Catalan (Black takes the pawn on c4), the Semi-Open Catalan (like the previous but with the addition of ...Be7 instead of ...Bb4+), and the Closed Catalan where Black doesn't take on c4 or doesn't immediately play ...Bb4+. It's 17 pages including some special games played by top exponents. This "quickie" review of play and possibilities makes this book an excellent choice for study if you also want to look at some other things too. Part of a 4 vol. series (we expect vol. 4 within a month). Plus there are a number of reading aids to track players and different openings as well as key, color-differentiated diagrams. $32.95.

4. DVDs?? Nothing I know of.

Don't forget, there are a lot of complexities in this system. I played over a training game last night with a friend who knows something about this from the white side, though he played black against me. His assessment was that "many players with the black pieces don't know what they are doing." Since that was true for me (as White) also, I figure we may be starting on "even ground."

However, White also has many move orders and can sometimes get into Catalans from the Reti. But White can be faced with a Gruenfeld or a King's Indian (etc., etc.) and I am not at this moment prepared for those. The series on Kramnik's repertoire by Khalifman is great but that is about 8 or 10 books now with some of them being temporarily out of print. That's a lot of studying... but they are terrific for reference purposes.

Hence, if I go into a tournament, I will not be totally prepared at this time. It's a good reason for starting with 1. Nf3 and a bad reason for starting with 1. Nf3 (i.e., 1... Nf6). At this time it may be "Die and Learn." But because Black often plays screwball moves when faced with 1. Nf3, I may be okay after all (this time).

So I have referenced three books for one 3 page opening (in van der Sterren's book).

Lastly, this is how to build up your other opening preferences. After a while, you will have for yourself a set of openings which you prefer to play (rather than a repertoire, which I think is an "overused" term.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The announcement of Chess Clinic 6 is made here today and in #105 of The Chess Reports, which also goes out today. This will be my last Chess Clinic so if you've been putting it off, come to this one, your big and last chance. More details are forthcoming but already (3) people have told me, before I even knew WHERE it would be held, that they would be coming! The tentative facility looks excellent, the Clarion Hotel on Brady St. in Davenport, IA, October 22-23. All day Saturday and Friday evening--big room, regular tables!

The smorgasbord is great as presenter IM Andrew Martin has been working on a FIDE project which fell through but all is not lost as he is going to use parts of that publication presentation at the Chess Clinic! Another topic covered will be the importance of Pawn Endings. Last night I was reading Efstratios Grivas' book Practical Endgame Play--mastering the basics and he too comes right out and says in the endgame that, most positions are reducible to pawn endings (usually through the queening of a pawn). John Nunn in his various endgame works says the same thing. In other words, KNOW pawn endings. You will win more games and that's what most of us want to do.

"So where does the passion for excellence come in?" you may ask. I belong to an organization called FREE FREEHAND. It has over 5,000 designers as members. Freehand originally was the best darn drawing tool ever in software form. It was intuitive, it was expedient, it was gratifyingly excellent in every way. It's opposite was Adobe's Illustrator, a clunky jacked together tool use for illustration and which can be unwieldy and obtrusive. Adobe bought out Macromedia and with it Freehand which they proceeded to abandon (though periodically they will steal something from their own Freehand and add it to Illustrator). Lots of us would like to see Freehand brought back, sold, licensed... something, so a campaign was born, Free Freehand. It has members from all over the world.

Here's the issue: The organization asked all of its members to send a postcard or letter, poster, etc. to Adobe's headquarters, to take some action, make some money. Adobe is "mulling" this I've heard (after initially ignoring us). But only 500 people, so far, have taken any action. That's 10%!? What about the other 4500+? Those are the ones who will plead: too busy, too much effort, I don't know what to say (the organization already prepared postcards so that excuse is invalid), can't get around to it and so on. This too is what happened when I had a Chess Festival or Clinic.

All year long I would hear "I'm coming to your next Chess Festival or your next Chess Clinic" but they never did. Not one time did I hear it was "too expensive," or "we're in a recession." (Fact is, as I read books back to the 1950s, the story lines often are about people being in their own or a national recession, everybody is always short of money.) One after another I read or hear, "Andrew Martin is coming? I've got to go." But then they don't show.

Here's what's surprising, the real surprise. If I get some new people (and I do) invariably they are REPEATS for future attendance! Last year, in October at Halloween time I had my biggest crowd. 21. This time I am going for 50 (or more). There will be incentives to register early. If you can't clear your schedule 5 months in advance, you don't want to.

Most of all, this will be my last chess clinic so if you want to see Andrew at work (he is funny, exciting, and chooses great topics), THIS is the one. To top it off, the hotel has a great restaurant 20 feet from our meeting room! More details later on.

So... if you have a "passion for excellence" this will be the event. There will also be my sales area for the best in books, software, and equipment.

I invite all readers of this blog, domestic and international, to set aside those dates. If you are interested let me know and I will put your name (and email address, please include that) on the list of those to send MORE info to. If you have a Gold Card, that will allow you a discount too, a big discount.

You can contact me at:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Bad behavior antics make people resolved or give up... I don't see any half-way point.

I felt sorry, somewhat, about Topalov's loss primarily because he was such a fighter (and we saw that Anand is no sissy either when someone hits the Tiger's paw.) Did he get bad advice?

1) Because of the "ash in the air" thing the Bulgarian's gave Anand only a one day reprieve knowing full well that driving a 40 hour road trip would make Anand and his team very tired. Aruna, Anand's wife, stepped in and handled her managerial duties like a champ herself! Women do that for the man they love. So if Danailov had anything to do with that he just hurt himself. It was a calculated risk and it backfired. Rather than disarm Anand with "niceness" they just made him more determined and he struck back in Game 2 (they were wrong on that score too. Read about how Kasparov "schmoozed" Seirawan in The Chess Reports #105 when it comes out this Friday and when Yasser was ready to punch Garry into another "time-zone.")

2) The Sofia Rules, it turns out, weren't that bad. Maybe some games looked dreadfully boring in the beginning but they certainly weren't toward the end (of each game). And I can imagine you can ask the players if at any point they felt the games were boring and they will tell you "No." Too much tension. The few spectators that were there, if they paid, got their money's worth.

3) When it was over Topalov shook Anand's hand twice. If he meets Anand again that will be a great gesture.

4) The Bulgarians did an absolutely lousy job of promoting this event. They had it online and were upset that ChessBase was allowing the moves on their PlayChess Server, which they were prohibited from doing without previous arrangements. I side with the Bulgars on this one. I never saw anything on CNN or Google News unless one searched for it. There were guys I knew who had no idea this match was going on until I told them!

5) Topalov, true to form, was not afraid of mixing it up, even near the end. To read Giri's report that Topalov "panicked," I would ask Topalov if he really did, or if he made a miscalculation. I particularly find it annoying when someone else professes to be able to read someone else's mind without confirmation.

I am looking forward to a book on this extremely short match (thumbs down on 12 games), but I hope it will be written by both players rather than Ray Keene or someone who has never been there!

You guys (Anand and Topalov) were great! (I read a post on the ChessBase web site this morning where some "dips" from Bulgaria and Germany were complaining about ChessBase's bias toward Anand. I didn't read that, and I didn't really see that in GM Anish Giri's comments, or IM Pein's comments either. Often the "loser's fans" behave with extremely unsportsmanlike conduct. This is way too often true in Europe in things like soccer. Is their "life" so bereft of entertainment they have to make comments like that? (To be fair, we have pundits and opinionistas over here on politics, computers, etc. by those who bear no responsibility when it comes to truth or accuracy in their lambasting of someone.)) Fortunately the world does not live or die by these idiots.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


At this moment the Anand-Topalov match is on the 12th and last game of the regular series. If still tied then we go into "rapid play" (25 minute games) and if still congested, then Blitz mode. Topalov has shown himself to be a tough competitor against Kramnik and against Anand.

While I've played over some Topalov games in the past year, one thing struck me: in general (that means, not always) his play revolves around 2-3 move combinations. When he couples that with something a little "offbeat" he ends up forming "double attacks," a particularly venomous form of winning chess.

For example, I am at the 29th move mark and while I am no master, I've seen the last 4-5 moves for both sides. That's a good thing. So has Anand and Topalov (naturally). The position has some clarity and Topalov has been interested in winning the a-pawn (Anand has black) for some time. It looks like he might not be able to do so. If that holds will the game be drawn? With these two it's hard to say. While the Sofia Rules (in effect playing to the end) have their detractors they are also making chess more "human" (i.e., error prone). So be comforted you guys.

If you want to know where I am watching this game (live), go to

I must get back to working on the final details of issue #105 of The Chess Reports. See ya later. (Oh, by the way, I've been reading more of Seirawan's Chess Duels even AFTER I reviewed it for TCR. Lots of admissions of bad or strange moves--so all of us have hope although some of those games he just plain lost. I couldn't resist mentionning, in the review, how Seirawan came within an "ace" of punching Kaasparov in the mouth (he says "jaw") because Garry's behavior was deplorable and one I've see other players do too!)

UPDATE to Match
After 50 moves it looks like Topalov has a lot to worry about.

The Game lasted 56 moves. Anand's move, 55… Qg7 was a brilliant retreat, but Topalov was in trouble before that as he had tied his R to the defense of his N and that couldn't last forever, because as Purdy always said, the "rules" of the game means players have to make alternating moves.
Congratulations to Vishwanathan Anand. He has made chess extremely popular in India.

Monday, May 10, 2010


I hope the "vacation" has been as good for you as it was for me, but soon we will both be back to business with The Chess Reports.

In the meantime I have learned how to operate a DVD publisher and printing machine for the DVDs which Thinkers' Press has released from Andrew Martin. More on that and what is available will be published in issue #105.

I am priming the pump again to bring in new readers/subscribers and gently jog the memory of those who have forgotten. It is amazing to me that my core subscribers keep coming back for more and, it invigorates myself at the same time.

Throughout the day or the week I casually come across things which tease my brain and I hope tease yours (about chess—mowing the lawn doesn't count). There is still a promotion going on. Originally it was intended to end with the beginning of the first issue, but I have decided to let it run through May 29th to simplify the "bookwork" at this end. Here's the deal:

You can subscribe to the Gold Standard version for only $29.95 (less expensive than the Motley Fool or hundreds of other publications out there) or the Platinum Edition for $59.95 (or $49.95 if you possess a Gold Card). I was surprised (really) that all the subscriptions which have come in so far are for the more expensive Platinum Edition. Of course you get "more" with that edition and maybe that's what people really want! (Perhaps you too!)

Concession: I've decided to do one thing to perk up subscriptions and buying from my new company, G&L CHESS, but it will only run through May 29th, 2010. I am reinstituting the Gold Card 2010 for $50 for several more weeks. I thought it was clear about the purpose of the Gold Card (bigger discounts on purchases, special events, and special sales) but some thought it was like a gift card!? Nope. The Gold Card is like a Barnes and Noble book card ($25) which gives you 10% off of retail items in their stores. Mine is twice as expensive but on books you get about 25% off the retail price (15-20 % off on DVDs). Plus, as I mentioned, it is good for things other than just books such as Chess Clinics, other subscriptions, and things I am still working on (such as White Shockers DVDs.)

Now that that is out of the way, let me explain what is in The Chess Reports:
a) Gold Standard: Articles and games; book and DVD reviews (this week it will be Learn Chess Tactics by Nunn); what's going on in the Chess Museum; Improvement Tips (a good one where Nimzovich, who never lost with 1.f4 (but once) succumbs, quickly, against Lajos Steiner, when he played the "normal" looking b3 at the wrong time!); Strategy and Tactics; chess monsters; quotes; advice; upcoming events and projects; and the endgame. Obviously not every one of those topics will be in EVERY issue since the average issue will run 8-10 pages! Still you'll get more porridge in your bowl than happened for The Three Bears. That's $29.95.

b) The Platinum Edition: Everything which is in the Gold Standard series plus: a monthly column by IM Andrew Martin (the one in issue #105 will be on the endgame); How Tos (such as using ChessBase or setting up a digital clocks--made easy!); opening revelations; the editor's thoughts; more reviews (such as Seirawan's Chess Duels this week); and some of the bestest and most fabulous letters I have seen/read in a long time. That's for $59.95, or, double the cost of the Gold Standard Edition. Save $10 if you own a Gold Card for 2010.

PLUS: If you get the fancy schmancy edition (Platinum), you can get a FREE copy of Paul Hoffman's superb book called King's Gambit. Yep, FREE but there is a catch. I give it to you free, no extra shipping costs but you have to purchase something (book or dvd) from G&L CHESS where that purchase involves paying for the shipping on that product (that way I can ship it along with your product at no additional cost (well, not much) to me except for what I paid for the book and the time spent sending out catalogs. PLUS I want to introduce more of you to G&L CHESS. Most subscribers have opted for the free book but I still have a bunch of them waiting on my shelves, looking for a cared-for home!

Hoffman's book is an easy read, all 433 pages, plus, it is informative (and it's not really about opening theory). The icing on the cake is that it is a hardcover complete with a nicely thought out dustjacket.

That's the pitch for today. One other thing, the Gold Standard edition offer ($29.95) is good through THIS weekend, May 15th ONLY. The offer for the Platinum Edition offer is good through May 29th to get the free book.

Final Moment of Thrill: The Gold Card really is a good deal and what comes extra with it is only limited by my imagination, which hopefully you won't find too weak.

Tomorrow: Anand-Topalov, and "how is it going?" Some think Topalov will have the advantage because he is White. Maybe, but Black chooses the defense and no doubt Black has some hot theory in the wings just like he did, as Black, for Kramnik. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I do have a website,, but nothing much is really on it. In fact it is mostly a place holder until I get my planned website for the Summer of 2010 up. Even using a template it is estimate to take 10-15 minutes for each listed item. Since I have several hundreds, that's a lot of hours.

What I am mulling, at the moment, is how to setup multiple prices because what I have examined doesn't seem to allow that. I just need one of those days (literally) where I can explore and investigate. In the meantime chess life goes on: doing books, putting out pricelists, publishing and printing DVDs, and ordering and receiving inventory... among whatever else.

I hear from "cheap" people who want a printed catalog and don't have a computer nor want one to access the web. If they had one they would be too cheap to even print a catalog out. (Don't think I am kidding, I've dealt with this.) Actually it's complicated. Some have no access to the web because they want it that way and prefer to save their money for something else.

So while this site I just mentioned is a placeholder it does serve a few useful functions. I am not likely to run into crooks who steal credit card numbers and other personal info because as of yet I have nothing like that stored on a server someplace in Timbuktu... just here on my accounting system, which is completely separate. So that eases the nervousness of those who have been bilked, scammed, screwed over, or whatever you want to call it (they call in their credit card info.)

On the other hand it doesn't make it "easier" ("good grief, how easy should life be?) for those casual purchasers who show up now and then and assume I have a functioning website because everyone else does! In other words, they take a minute of their very busy life to contact me about why I don't have a website to make their life easier to order something for which I would make $2 on the sale.

My good old friend, Bernie Ostrowsky, used to get after me and after me about getting a web presence back in the 90s because that would be the coming thing. Bernie was right except he wasn't right entirely. I started in 1997 (a long time ago) and what I learned was that building a website, updating it (we did, every day), paying the monthly maintenance fees, and all the collateral "etc.s" that go with that was turning into a zero-sum game! We didn't make any money at it! (People, yes, real people, have to pull this info off the web and give it to someone to pull inventory, pack and invoice!)

The web is a unique experience because in many instances it's hard to develop any personal relationships because... they aren't personal, they are just words! The web can't show me (easily) helping some guy with a problem, offering some extra care, or showing them how to deal with some issue because it's all electronic. It's almost as bad as texting. The web provides people with a way to do shopping comparisons which often mean nothing. How can someone compare my price for The Chess Reports with someone else's price for The Chess Reports. They can't! I am the publisher and I don't sublease this magazine.

Most databases are volatile and it's not a good idea to publish, online, how many copies one has of an item because that can be a DEAL killer too. If I have 25 copies of book ABC it's easy to think, "Hmmm. I'll get that book next week or next month, he has plenty of them." By then they have forgotten about it, that is, No Sale. If instead they see I have 1 or 2, it can cause a stampede and the confluence of many disappointed people. That's not good marketing either.

Most of this business is psychological in its ways of survival and dealing with common place problems. I get overjoyed people who write and are thrilled that I answer their emails so quickly. Web sites don't do that in most cases if they answer at all. Or, as has often happened to me, their answers are "go see our FAQ," or even worse, you get an unintelligible answer.

I've been on web sites that are so complicated no one can figure them out or want to. Skip city. My placeholder gives info on contacting me.

I still get regular mail orders! Can you imagine web sites handling "regular mail?" I can't because many of them have no provision for doing so (except the dating web sites!!) at all. That gets a personal touch response in most cases.

In summary, what I am saying is that my method of handling emails and orders, without a proper website, has worked to some degree. I will eventually get an automated system to help those who want to buy and fly, but first, I prefer to help the customers I already have.
Since forming the new company, G&L CHESS, in the past year I have really tightened inventory. Just the other day I was watching some world championship site (Anand-Topalov stuff) and I noticed an ad for a type of "blowout" chess sale. Tons of total crap were offered at 40% off. I think I had only ONE of those books, maybe two, in my inventory. And most of this stuff is from a well-known current or former publisher (I can never tell which). Years ago I had spotted those books and turned a thumbs down to stocking that inventory. Sure I probably lost a few sales, but apparently not much as a large percentage of items were on the block, uniformly because they were all around ineffective, boring, and useless stuff with designs that were even worse! Hard to believe but a decade (or more) was in the oven for producing shredded trees. In some ways I was glad to see others had the taste buds for avoiding them too.

Life's interesting. Today I attend a birthday party and don't have grass to mow for another week. I will be working on new things to tantalize you. And as usual, I will return to my cybernetic toy (this machine) and retrieve emails to fill your orders and give you some pleasure as life moves along. To me, you are valuable in many ways.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Today I will be gone for a while but people can still email me.

Another draw, Anand performing some Houdini-like work in escaping from a position that didn't look too fun the way I saw it. Getting down to crunch time isn't it?

I've become a fan of the mysterious and inscrutable Catalan, so I got more copies in stock of:
play the Catalan (Sam, I'll send you one tomorrow);

Also in the heavy box:
starting out: Open Games (when I was younger there was nothing more fun to play than open Games). By Flear.
The Complete Chess Workout finally showed after I ordered it three times! These 1200 puzzles are in a book of 318 pages and is very comfortably laid out (thank God!), (BTW, I have an idea for such a DVD which no one I have seen or heard has ever thought of and I think it would get more people to work on these!)

Some other books showed in more quantities than I ordered because when I asked if I had anything on back order and was told "no" I ordered a couple books I really wanted. You guessed it, they shipped what I really did have on back order and my revised order, all in the same box! This company and the folks who handle chess books for me are truly one of a kind and I hope they stay that way!

Also here are:
Chess Duels by Seirawan, one of the most engaging chess books I have read in a long time. More info will be on it in The Chess Reports.
And, Play like the PROs by Gormally.
These last two I am completely over stocked, so if you buy them together, I will drop the shipping charges. G&L CHESS price for the two is: $52.50. I'll drop that price to $50.00 and give you FREE shipping.

For you Gold Card holders I will ship both for $45.00 and give you FREE shipping. This is not an unlimited offer. After I reduce the number by, say, 5 sets, then I will go back to the regular pricing.

Am taking the afternoon off--something I rarely do.... but in the past day I have been working on the graphic designs for Busy Man's Chess Openings, Black Shockers, and White Shockers for the TPi DVDs by Andrew Martin. By next week I should have some pretty stuff for you though I have to finish the editing on the White Shockers.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


... but not wanted apparently.

If you want to entertain yourself google "chess blogs."

I knew the game today was drawn and I wanted to see what people had to say. Amazing. If you've seen the movie with Richard Dreyfuss called "Let it Ride" you do what he did when betting. Find out who the favorite is, and bet on the other guy!

It seems that the stronger you are the more doubt you have about best play (esp. if you don't have a chess playing computer at hand). But the internet babies are always tossing their two cents worth in and invariably their analysis is either computer driven or "wishful thinking" driven. In any case, they would be easy betting marks.

Some are thinking that Anand missed a critical move to win. Probably, but my connection to TWIC just froze near the end of the game. Apparently the server was over-loaded or freaked out. It reminds me when I was in the typesetting business and had a $1200 Black Box modem installed, the best in the business... to take orders from customers. The damn thing never worked despite hours on the phone with tech people. Until the internet came along, I had no faith in electronic communication and apparently the broadband can behave like the old modems.

Another game tomorrow. Who are you hoping for?

By the way, just sent out a new catalog with FREE books available if you meet some minimum requirements. I re-sent the previous catalog hoping that anyone who missed it would get it this time. So there are a couple catalogs out there in the ether.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Instant news, instant analysis (?), instant finger pointing.

Anand lost yesterday and many commentators both pro and amateur have been writing and talking about "the blunder," how could he... he had a draw in the bag.

How many of these people were looking at a computer with a chess engine on it all along? Most of the pros were who were commenting because you could tell in their analyses. That's kind of "unfair" isn't it? Yes, it is. This isn't "love and war" this is chess.

I was watching the moves in the late 40s (with ut computer aid) and said to myself, "oooh, this is uncomfortable." Everything appeared to require precision. Uncomfortability + precision ?? Isn't that when many of us make mistakes? It happens to the Big Guys too. Most of us don't have a Topalov sitting on the other side of the table waiting for a mistake, but that's what Anand had, it was all Topalov could hope for.

As I wrote to a good friend last night, what matters now is if Anand can "shake the loss off again." If he can go back to calm, use his bag 'o tricks once again, he'll be in this for the long haul. And don't think for a second that Topalov is so confident that he's going to sit back and let Anand drop his pants.

These two guys are bruisers. To read after the first game Anand won that Kasparov was so disgusted with bxa3 that he walked out of the room in a pique of childishness was boorish behavior. Kasparov was always "emotional" and theatrical.

The "Cobra" (Topalov) was just sitting there waiting for the right moment, what else could he do? He wasn't privy to all those "it looks like a draw due to Bs of opposite color" comments. When I was a regular at the chess club I used to hear that a lot (and then, somehow, by some miracle, the draw would turn into a loss for someone). That position yesterday didn't seem "ironclad." Something in Anand's psyche betrayed him. That was yesterday, let's see what Thursday brings.

Sometimes people want something so bad that it is hard for them to forgive someone who, in their minds, upsets THEIR applecart. I am sure Anand was more upset than they were.

Another emailing goes out today! Check your inbox later.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


So far three people have mentioned they didn't get my emailed catalog which I sent out last Thursday. They saw it mentioned on this blog that indeed I had sent it out. If you were one of those, please contact me--perhaps it's an overreactive spam filter (they cause me more problems than the help me with). I will send one out right away.

A customer is looking for Bobby Fischer's book... I was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse. If you have one you want to sell, please let me know and the amount you are asking and I will pass on to my customer.

CHESS CLINIC 6. This week I intend to ask various places about the venue to hold this and will report here what I have found. A few folks are referring to this as the Chess Festival, which it is not. It's a fun clinic, a workshop for chess aficionadoes. More details to come.

Nothing else today, I have a lot to finish. Thanks. I will be checking in on the Anand-Topalov match. Who are you rooting for?

Monday, May 3, 2010


I have an amazing Receiving Arena. I check once or twice a day for packages, back orders, the mail, etc.

I had just written my post (you know by now that I don't write them in advance like some Bloggers do) about endgames (see previous, another post for this day) when a package arrived with CHESS DUELS My Games with the World Champions. It is in hardcover and with a dustjacket and carries a retail tag of $35, quite reasonable.

Great contents. Starts out with his beginnings before chess, then a whole chapter on Fischer (with lots to tell), and then the world champions he encountered or played. No photos unfortunately. 427 pages. A readfest of background, stories, and "what happeneds?" AND games.

The Gilbert & Lange (G&L) price is $29.75--that's the discount price everyone gets. If you have a Gold Card, the price is reduced even further to $26.25.

I'll review the book later in The Chess Reports or Chess EXTRAS, but I'll make an offer now: buy this new Seirawan book, and one of the endgame books mentioned in the previous Blog, and I will ship FREE to you who live in the USA! Offer good through this weekend or supplies are gone, which ever happens first.


It occurred to me that there are more different endgame positions than there are openings positions, by a huge amount, and yet, endgames aren't popular with the chess public. There are all kinds of reasons why people feel that way but if you are to win more games, none of them stand up to scrutiny.

I have been going over Nigel Davies' book play the Catalan. There are endgames in it! There are allusions to how the upcoming endgame will be drawn or won IF this or that move is played. And these are recent games! So endgames are still being played. Sometimes that is the ONLY way to win.

To get a couple things out of the way: pawn endgames can be very difficult; Rook endgames are supposedly the most common. In general Q+N is better than Q+B. Routine stuff. Recently I got in two very FAT books on the endgame, one by Grivas and one by Flear. I wonder what I was thinking. I've had some interest but no sales yet. The Panchenko books on the endgame haven't sold yet either. I was optimistically "thinking" (if you want to call it that) that what is important to me about endgames are:
a) pattern recognition;
b) confirming the status of your current game position and your Elo ranking;
c) they are still necessary to know; and
d) satisfying when you can extricate yourself or find some cool win.

Going back to the first paragraph--I suspect many readers believe that there are TOO many endgame positions to know (of course there are!). On the other hand, I remember a Dzindzichashvili video where he said there are endgame positions strong players know are won or drawn long before they get there, and thus can plan on making it happen. Is that, or is it not, invaluable information?

One of the books I am throwing out in front of you is Glenn Flear's Practical Endgame Play--beyond the basics. The subtitle is very interesting: the definitive guide to the endgames that really matter. Wow! That's what all of us are after--definitiveness.

In John Nunn's recent book Understanding Chess Endgames he builds an edifice of 100 position types which are fundamental and intrinsic to many endgames. This book is positively worthwhile even though different from Grivas' basic book: Practical Endgame Play -- mastering the basics, the essential guide to endgame fundamentals. Davies' book on the Catalan SHOWS me I do have to know opening theory these days, which can be very cluttered. I wish I could JUST study the endgame.

Hey! Game 6 of the world championship is going on today. I've run into chess friends who didn't even know it was happening. Tells me two things: poor publicity AND they don't read this blog!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


On Friday the lights in Sofia (not in Georgia) went out during the Topalov-Anand game (and I'm sure many other things were interrupted as the central city electricity freaked out). Mig Greegard and others said they were getting emails from people who were wondering if Elista-like shenanigans might be responsible. In fact, this very agitation is grist for the mills of the panicky-manicky types who must live a wretched life always wondering if someone is coming to get them or their friends.

The problem with "conspiracy theories" can be basically be brought to four important points:
1) So many get floated around that when (or if) one really is true, it is easily dismissed after a while like the little boy who was always crying wolf.
2) If you are discovered to be wrong one too many times you are listed as a "nut;" probably forever. Anything you write or say after that has no credence except to other nuts.
3) Do you have any idea how difficult it is to hold a conspiracy theory together if it is TRUE? Only the true blue, dyed in the wool patriots, cross my heart hope to die conspirators can keep a secret (if they did, no one would ever know). If one other person is told a "secret," that is one too many persons.
4) The embarrassment factor of being discovered would most likely end a whole lot of careers. Only crooks don't seem to mind as they already have no careers... people who will believe that anything is morally and legally justified at Goldman-Sachs for example. Could you imagine the accusations of Topalov getting "signals" from Danailov--if there was absolute proof? It would end his chess career (but some do not really imagine that possibility until it actually happens) immediately. The spin doctors would become whirling dervishes trying to save their "man."

I am not saying the "dictatorial" days are past (where many things were possible), you can't put anything OFF the table when it comes to human incredibility. There are those who want their 15 minutes and it seems like there are more and more of them, though percentage-wise, I doubt it's true.

When Fischer didn't show up for the 1975 world chess championship I am certain in his heart of hearts that it made Karpov very uncomfortable because he had to spend the next ten years of his chess life "proving" he really should be champion anyway. Read the story on Fischer in NIC's 25 Years... Fischer was going into "nutjob" mode... the perfect conspiratorial person.

I decided to avoid reading these "lights out" stories. These kinds are always typified as: living with their mother, in a basement, and with banks of computers and food lying around them (Die Hard 4, and The Score). Who needs that?

Conspiracy theorists, in general, only come around AFTER someone else has revealed potentially bad news. Then they "knew."

The "fake" moon landings, flying saucers, aliens keep tabloids going. I just hate to see chess going down that slippery slope.

PS: If anyone out there did not get my new catalog on chess artifacts yesterday, let me know and I will send another. You have no idea how much I don't want to miss a sale!