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.