Chess Publisher Bob Long Dead at 74

Long-time chess publisher and entrepreneur Bob Long is dead at 74. He was found murdered in his home after an apparent home invasion and robbery.

Over a career that spanned five decades, Long’s various publishing and business ventures – Chessco, Thinkers Press, Gilbert & Lange, and most recently, the Chess Butler – were the launching pad for a number of important titles and prolific authors.

Long published the first edition of Jeremy Silman’s How to Reassess Your Chess, certainly one of the best selling titles of the last 30 years. Other well-known Thinkers Press titles include Mark Buckley’s Practical Chess Analysis, Alex Dunne’s How to Become a Class A Player and How to Become a Candidate Master, and Stephan Gerzadowitz’s Journal of a Chess Master.

Long was also the authorized publisher of the collected works of C.J.S. Purdy, described by Bobby Fischer as one of the best chess writers and teachers in the world. His final book, an expanded edition of Purdy’s Search for Chess Perfection, was released shortly before his death.

Ever the entrepreneur, Long was an inveterate chess promoter, bringing titled players from around the world to his Chess Festivals in Davenport, Iowa. After selling his mail-order chess business to Chess4Less in the early 2000s, Long returned to the chess marketplace shortly after his non-compete expired, and he continued to hawk chess books and equipment to his customers until his death.

Because my wife’s family lives in the Quad Cities area, I got to know Long a bit over the years, buying chess books from him both in-person and remotely, and I attended two of his chess festivals, both featuring his longtime friend IM Andrew Martin. I last saw him in the summer of 2018, when I visited his home for a few hours and picked up two books: How to Play Chess Endgames by Müller and Pajeken, and one of his last copies of Confessions of a Chess Grandmaster by Andy Soltis.

Bob was a curmudgeon, and there was a lot that we did not agree about. But no one can doubt his devotion to the game and to its literature.

People often say that someone was “one of a kind,” but Bob Long really was one of a kind. (Ask anyone who spent any time with him!) With his death the last of the stalwart, independent American chess publishers are gone, as is the link to a book business before Amazon swallowed everything whole.

Our condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed.

Comments

  1. Well said. He certainly was “one of a kind.” In addition to all that was mentioned above, Bob was a preserver of chess history and historical documents, and that is something the chess world is going to miss very much. RIP, Bob.

  2. wow read the report of the murder, what a terrible senseless thing. 19 year old kid killed him for his car? smh, sorry for this loss, RIP

  3. Tragic news. Bob published a lot of unique books before the explosion of chess publishing in the last 20 years. In my correspondences & dealings with him, he was always receptive, fair and, well…. frank! A “no-bs” individual. He would have been a great old man… as noted, above, he already had the “curmudgeon” part down perfectly. God speed.

  4. What a terrible loss to chess and chess publishing with the death of Bob Long! I always enjoyed our personal talks, learning about his latest chess project and helping him with an occasional chess research question. Bob had great enthusiasm and respect for chess history and its players. He was a very interesting, productive and unique individual. Rest In Peace, Bob

  5. Bob’s death comes as a great shock. We had been corresponding a lot lately about his latest Purdy book and he did the world a great service by continuing to publish Cecil Purdy’s writings. A great loss to chess.

  6. Thank you for writing this. Bob is my grandfather, and it is such a shame to see his final moments cast shadow on his legacy in the chess and publishing community. As I occasionally filed for him, it is nice to see names I’ve seen so often in his files write nice things about him. Grandpa was a no BS person with corny jokes and always available for his family and friends. Thanks again.

    • Tragic. My condolences. Bob worked for me at Rock Island Arsenal 1970 – 1976 timeframe. Lots of memories. Is there goin to be a service? If you’d like some memories , call me. 303-589-2682. Bill Rankin

  7. Tragic. My condolences. I hired Bob and he worked for me at the Rodman Laboratory at Rock Island Arsenal 1970 – 1976 time frame. Yes he was one of a kind – i had a department full of one of a kinds. Our group was involved in computerized war gaming and weapons development when computers were in their infancy. I assigned Bob the lead role in developing computer models to simulate “urban” warfare – street and building combat. Really interesting and challenging work. I went to work at John Deere in 1976 and communicated with Bob a number of times after that.

  8. What a shock, so tragic, senseless and sad. Bob did much for chess. He was appreciated by many across the world.

    Sincere condolences to his family, from Switzerland.

  9. I am shocked to hear this tragic news. My condolences. Bob was the person who inspired and got me started in the business of selling chess books and equipment. His work in researching chess history, putting together and publishing numerous chess books (a lot of which became best sellers) will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Bob.

  10. I was wholly shocked and dismayed when I learned about this deep and senseless loss to the world of chess. Bob Long is one of the few people I’ve ever known who truly lived his life on his own terms. I was fortunate enough to attend a few of the chess clinics Bob put on in Davenport and to have collected many of the books and various publications he produced. Bob’s emphasis on doing the best he could on behalf of his customers and his deep and abiding faith in God are two among many aspects of this unique man that I will hold as dear memories. I am proud and honored to have been a friend of Bob’s and it was because of his encouragement that I have now nearly completed my own book, the publishing of which we had hoped to collaborate this year. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

  11. What a senseless tragedy. My condolences to the family. I bought many books from Bob over the years, and met him many times in person at tournaments. He was always genuine, true to his beliefs, scrupulously honest and fair. Caissa has lost two of America’s great chess publishers and dealers recently, Dale Brandreth and now Bob. May he rest in peace.

  12. My sincere condolences to Bob’s family and friends. I’m not a chess enthusiast, but I knew of Bob’s passion for all things chess. I came to know Bob in the late 1990’s when I was a church musician at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Rock Island, IL. Bob attended several events that I was part of in the church and we had lots of great discussions about church music and liturgy. A very smart guy and a good man. RIP, Bob.

  13. I am very sorry to hear this on many levels.

    I did not know that I even “knew” Bob. Frankly, I had never heard of him, however, I have been an avid collector of chess books for 40 years, and I have quite a number of books that he published; and even though he cannot hear me, I want to thank him for his contributions to chess.

    My deepest condolences to his family.

  14. My most sincere condolences to his family, A tragic loss.
    News like this one makes one fall in an odd feeling of voidness, of absurdity…
    May he rest in peace.

  15. Sorry to hear about Bob’s murder. I knew him well back in the 70’s and 80’s when I played in a lot of his chess tournaments and purchased many books he published. One of the first books Bob published “The Nimzovich Defense” by Hugh Myer, I purchased from Bob at one of his tournaments, and became a big Nimzovich Defense player for many years.
    My condolences to all of his family.

  16. Bob loved the game, loved being with other players, and was a great ambassador for chess. I had a few food games and more interesting conversations with him. A tragic end to a great friend of Cassia. RIP Bob.

  17. The anger that I feel over Bob Long’s senseless murder is beyond description. There will be those who leap to the defense of the desperate low-life who did it — but that person will have no future, only a long prison sentence or a government-sanctioned death sentence.

    I bought many books from Bob’s businesses…and I was fortunate to have a small article published as one of his “Chess Hammer” series.

    Bob’s legacy will live on in the chess libraries of thousands of people. The sad ending of his story will fade — as it should.

  18. Bob was very independent and not one to sugarcoat matters, whether with local tournaments, FIDE, clocks, book formats, etc. He was also not one to hold back praise for those deemed praiseworthy. He was very well read, not limiting his chess eye to US Chess- he subscribed to several regional publications to see who was writing in the chess hinterlands- he cared! Terrible news, best wishes to his family, just utterly senseless

  19. My dad and I got to know him -bought lots of books from him. I did some proofreading for some of his books, his magazine Squares etc.

    He truly loved chess. Had his family involved in the business -his sister Rita answered the phone and took orders for books and equipment. . Son did some work for the business too. Lasker and His contemporaries was a terrific publication of which he produced 6-7 issues.

    I don’t understand how a man of faith could meet such a tragic end.

    David G. Arganian
    Seattle

  20. I knew Bob for probably 30 years and bought many books from him over that time. I am shocked and saddened to learn of his death. My condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed in the chess world.

  21. i knew bob from maybe the early 1970s. he usually would defeat me when we played.
    that his life could have been taken in such a senseless manner makes me wonder what was going through the perp’s head.
    in any event, it’s a tragic loss for the chess world.
    may you always win on that great chessboard in the sky!

  22. One of the most down-to-earth personalities in the chess world, Bob told it like it was and worked hard at his craft. He loved the game of chess, it’s history and the players involved. He didn’t care what the “experts” said and laughed at freeloaders. We worked on several projects together and he always followed through with whatever he promised. My condolences go out to his family and may he rest in peace.

  23. A terrible shock – my condolences to his family. The chess world too, has sustained a great loss. Through his publishing business, retail business, book reviews, chess festivals, and his chess advocacy, Bob epitomized the consummate chess professional. His service to the chess community will live on for countless years in the players and customers who were influenced by his work.

    Personally I participated in all of the above and more for over 40 years. Bob published my books and articles; I attended most of his festivals where I met GMs and IMs; way back I edited his Chess Atlas for a few years.

    Above all, his single-handed promotion of Purdy via the many volumes of Thinkers’ Press’s Purdy Chess Library, may be Bob’s greatest legacy for another generation or two. When I think of all the chess students, including my own, that were influenced by Purdy’s teachings, it was and is in large part due to Bob republishing and keeping Purdy’s work alive.

  24. Uncle Bob was a great guy and a great brother to my dad. He always took interest in what I was up to whenever we would see each other. It’s really nice to read the tributes to him here.

  25. I am Bob’s daughter, Christine. Thank you so much for all your prayers and condolences. It means a great deal to our family and myself. I miss you, Dad!

  26. Had several phone, email, and snail mail coversations with Mr. Long. From those conversations and the way he treated me as a customer, I knew he was someone I would like to meet (and worth meeting). I am sorry that it will never happen. The world is a sadder place without him in it. And if you want to talk about a legacy, as so many others have mentioned, it is the Purdy works. Thanks Bob!

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