Saturday, January 2, 2010


I saw a brilliant performance of Sherlock Holmes (the movie) by Robert Downey Jr. See it. Forget that "I'll wait 'til it comes to DVD" procrastination line. Downey expresses an athleticism we all could use--it keeps the brain pumping. Imagine working on this movie while also working on Iron Man 2.

You might recall, if you are a Holmesian buff like I used to be, Holmes didn't have anything nice to say about chess, remarking that it was "The mark of a scheming mind!" (He's right!)

However, for today, I would like you to carry out this thought while you are busy in the coming week. If you were writing a script where Sherlock (or Mycroft, his smarter brother!) is involved in playing chess (thinking of course of Downey playing the role since Jeremy Brett is no longer with us), what would you write? Would you include Moriarty or a new foe? And if you were getting a chess advisor (don't be fooled, some of these advisors are idiots, and sometimes the producer is the biggest idiot) for Downey (assuming he doesn't play chess), who would you tag for that spot?

One final comment about Holmes. I've seen a few movie reviewers question Holmes' fighting/action capabilities (as were apparent in the movie). Once again we have journalists who know nothing writing about something they should leave alone. As a matter of fact, in one of the Holmes' stories he dukes it out with a guy in a bar--and levels him like a pancake.

Though there are only a few copies left of Bob Basalla's Chess at the Movies, I am reminded how he regales us with lots of the inanities of filming chess for the movies. The book was a monster 422 letter-sized pages! 500 copies were sold!
You might recall in 2002 I had raconteur and full-time genius Raymond Smullyan at the 3rd Chess Festival. Though he doesn't consider himself a chess player he is full of fun and mind games including one puzzle about chess which was a tremendous display of deduction. It was published in his book The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, which set him on the road to a fabulous series of books about logic. Thinkers' Press, inc. (me) published his autobiography, Some Interesting Memories A Paradoxical Life (ret. $15.95). Ray is still writing even though he is approaching 90!
Heard from Staunton chess set designer and manufacturer Frank Camaratta Jr. yesterday. He sold his House of Staunton business some time ago but he has a company called House of Staunton Antiques. He is also preparing a book on the Staunton pieces and its predecessors. He said the project has ballooned out of scale and he is discovering how much a person doesn't really know once you apply yourself to a heady project (any project). I can empathize. I suggested cutting the work into two volumes.

The word "Antiques" intrigued me because about 15 years ago I introduced a chess catalog called something like Antiquarian Chess. There were a number of people who wrote and asked me what "antiquarian" meant and I am sure some of them didn't purchase anything until they found out! Aren't there dictionaries available anymore? Isn't the word an obvious take-off of "antique?" Maybe that's the problem, the word antique--it might only be associated with the word "grandpa."
I'll probably take Sundays off from writing this blog though I must admit, so far I have enjoyed it. I recall, years ago, the blog and my catalog pages were getting millions of hits a year, but the orders weren't commensurate despite "everyone" telling me having a web site was the only way to go. This may blow up your pantaloons, but about 20-25% of my customers stubbornly refuse to get or use a computer and want me to send them paper catalogs. Unless they pay $10 for them (some do), "it won't happen;" too costly to print and mail anymore--and yet-- I can't include all the photographs I used to do because it makes the PDF huge--so you can count on an eventual web site.

1 comment:

  1. You're right about Holmes' athleticism and physicality. From the first, Watson notes that Holmes is an expert swordsman and boxer. In one story, Holmes straightens out an iron poker that had been bent into a curve by a rude visitor.