Wednesday, December 16, 2009
And if you're selling girls' chess t-shirts, then must use female models!
I figured this was a long and proud tradition and I had no right to rock the boat. But I am also a pretty introverted guy and don't have much experience approaching attractive women to ask them if they want to be a chess model. But armed with the noble cause of creating a new breed of chess apparel and a love of hot chicks, I decided to blaze forward.
I thought finding a chess t-shirt model was going to be easy. I found several databases where I was able to search for models and then contact the ones I thought might be a good fit. And let's face it, there are worse ways to spend your time than searching for hot girls on the Internet. But it was also a lot of hard work. Several times I had to endure the personal sacrifice of skipping dinner...I would have to yell at my wife, "Not now! I'm trolling the Internet looking for girls."
But soon it got discouraging. There are millions of models out there, but apparently none that wanted to work with a small chess t-shirt company.
Then I found Jazmin. I had probably contacted 40 models by this time. About 50% never responded (in my mind, I figured they thought Endgame was lame). Another 40% politely said they were not interested. The last 10% were just really flaky...they would say that they wanted to be involved but I could never get them to commit to a date for a photo shoot. With Jazmin, there was never any of that bullshit. We set a date, I showed up with the photographer and we did work. We have shot several times since and she is always perfect. She comes with her little entourage with her hair and make-up done and several sets of clothes.
Now that I think about it, I'm not really sure why she even agreed to work with us in the first place. Hmmm...I actually need to ask her and make that a future blog post.
Now that things have been up and running, the story is different...we have been approached by several models who are just dying to be chess t-shirt models for Endgame. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Anyway, we're sticking with Jazmin!
Next up: "Male Models" ...a much different story.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
They are here.
After about a year of people asking, people suggesting and people just flat out calling us idiots...Endgame is now stocking 2XL sized chess t-shirts.
For the record, there was no conspiracy against the big guys...we just didn't think that there was much of a demand...apparently we were wrong!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Stop the presses!!
Hikaru Nakamura was spotted wearing Endgame!!
There is nothing better than seeing one of the world's elite chess players wearing one of our shirts. And is Hikaru just wearing the chess t-shirt around other chess players?
He's rocking it in the real world!!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
We hope you dig this chess t-shirt that was inspired by the classic fight posters of the 50's. It was hand drawn and printed on navy with light blue discharge inks.
You can find it for sale at www.EndgameClothing.com
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I know nothing about it, but was pretty stoked to see a major namebrand energy drink involved with chess.
Check it out and let me know if you have any guesses as to who is inside the can???
What do you think about this??
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Part 2 - The Bad Stuff
You're probably thinking that running the greatest chess t-shirt company on the planet is a dream job. Well, I'm here to tell you it's not all Grey Goose and Grandmasters.
Here are the tough parts:
1. Inventory. Ok, not very exciting, but very important. I HATE to disappoint customers and run out of stock. But the problem is that we can't just go and print a handful of shirts. Our shirts are printed by an amazing shop that prints for huge name brands. We feel very lucky to have them print our shirts. So in order to keep our costs reasonable, we have to print large quantities.
And this assumes that I am able to get the blank shirts from our supplier. For instance, right now we are out of a few sizes on the Horsey design. My supplier will not have the "faded demin" colored shirt in stock for approximately 12 weeks. 12 weeks?!?!? Are you fucking kidding me? How can anything in 2009 take 12 weeks to accomplish? I just got off the phone with a 12 week old kid who already had his first IM norm under his belt.
So from time to time, we run out of stock. Hopefully people understand that this is just one of the fun things you get when you deal with a smaller independent company.
2. Photography. This has been an eye opener. I have now realized that I have taken for granted every single professional photograph that I have ever seen. I have never understood or even dreamed of the amount of detail and work required to get good shots. I guess I always just kind of thought that if the picture sucks then you need a better camera. Still working on this, making headway...but we have HUGE room for improvement here.
3. Search Engine Optimization. This is like playing chess with Google, except Google doesn't tell you the rules. I am constantly beating my head against the wall with this. I mean, come on!! There are not that many chess t-shirts out there...and you are going to tell me that Endgame doesn't deserve to be ranked on the first page? This means that there are millions of chess players who have never heard of Endgame. That makes me so angry, I want to punch a kitten.
4. The Internet can be a lonely place. It's strange to create something for people all over the world and never see them face to face. Or typing a blog in a dark room when you are never really sure if anyone other than my mom is reading it. Sure, I can see the traffic numbers, but are people really reading? Are they getting it? Do they dig Endgame? Believe it or not, some people do not like our designs...I know, I know...its hard to believe and it technically doesn't make them bad people. But there is a certain amount of arrogance in me that believes that every single chess player on the planet is going to love every design we create.
But in the end, the Bad Stuff means nothing.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
So I figured that when the chess t-shirts were first released, I would be immediately hoisted upon the shoulders of Grandmasters and paraded through hallowed tournament halls...I would grace the covers of chess periodicals...I would be celebrated by having openings named after me. I might even be invited to do that ceremonial moving of the first piece in the upcoming World Championship match.
Well, none of that shit happened.
1. Meeting Top Players. As a fanboy, one of the amazing things about chess, is that many of our heroes are very accessible...you don't have to get through a huge entourage to say "hi." Normally I am just a jackass from the lower section...but now I am a jackass with some chess t-shirts. Recognize! And I am very happy to say that most of the titled players that I have approached have been very receptive and supportive.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Last night marked the end of week one. There were several exciting upsets, but only one could be named The Endgame Upset Prize...
The winner of the coveted Upset Prize for week one is IM Jonathan Schroer from the Carolina Cobras!! Even though IM Schroer was up against a whopping 225 rating point difference, he was able to secure the draw against GM Kritz.
Everyone wants to know exactly how IM Schroer felt when he found out he was the recipient of this prestigious award. Unfortunately, emails to the international master were not immediately returned. He must still be celebrating!!
For further details and information on the U.S. Chess League, be sure to visit their homepage.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Well, summer is here and we almost have the spring shirts ready to go!! Best laid plans...
We have received a ton of emails asking when the new shirts are going to be released. We really appreciate how anxious everyone is, but we want to make sure everything is perfect.
We're not playing for a draw here, kids. The last piece of the puzzle is the photography. We want to make sure that every part of Endgame is the best we can do. Up to now I have been very proud of all aspects of Endgame...except the photography. Many of the photos on the site are just crappy shots I took with my cheapo camera. Some of them are just downright embarrassing. Well, that's all about to change!!
The photography with Jazmin, our female chess model, is finished and everything looks amazing. This afternoon, we are shooting our male model, Dan. So hopefully in a few more weeks, the photos will be edited and the site will be updated with the new chess t-shirts.
Hang in there, everyone...
In other news...Sean Trani filmed an interview with Grandmaster Var Akobian last month at the St. Louis Chess Club during the 2009 US Chess Championship. About halfway through the interview, Var has some very nice words to say about Endgame. Thanks, Var!!
Friday, July 3, 2009
One of my biggest wins from a ratings standpoint was against an elderly gentleman who's best chess days were far behind him...but he would still come out to the weekend tournaments every once in a while with a smile on his face. Even in the summer, he would wear a collar and sports coat...both of which had to be at least 30 years old. He had the look of a widower who had not purchased a stitch of clothing since his wife's funeral many years ago.
He was 19 years old and serving as a chemist in the military when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor...and one afternoon several of us were captivated by his retelling of the experience.
This man once had a rating that I will never come close to achieving.
But was now being crushed in the lower section by some jackass like me.
So many others give up or become bitter when their abilities fade.
Not this guy.
He died a while back and I think about him quite a lot.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
In other news, here's a quick update on what's happening around here...
1. The new designs are ready and the people in Vegas seemed to really like them. I am working to get the product photography done in the next few weeks and then they'll be up for sale on the main site.
2. We had a drawing in Vegas for a free Endgame t-shirt and the winner is David B! Thanks to everyone who entered!!! By the way, the results of the drawing were carefully audited by our 6 year old intern:
3. We will also begin to give away free t-shirts as prizes for tournaments hosted on chess.com. This is something we have been thinking about doing for a while so we are pretty excited to see how it works out. If you decide to become a member over there, be sure to say that "Endgame_Clothing" sent you.
That's all for now! See ya.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
It is going to be a crazy weekend, but I'm looking forward to every minute of it.
See you there!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Both of these designs will be available at the Las Vegas International Chess Festival being held at the South Point Hotel and Spa on June 4th through 7th. They will be available on the Endgame Clothing website shortly thereafter.
We truly appreciate all of the support everyone has given Endgame and we will always do our best to provide players with a unique way to support chess...both at the board and away from the board.
Also, if you haven't done so already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to receive coupon codes good for discounts on the new shirts.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
There is nothing worse than being convicted of a crime you didn't commit...just ask Andy Dufresne...or the A-Team. While serving a life sentence in prison, Andy decides to make his own chess set from the rocks found near the prison grounds. Andy describes chess as being "civilized" and "strategic." We don't get to see a whole lot of chess being played, but we know that chess is a pastime that Andy values greatly. What we learn from this movie: The same tactics that help you from being mated on the chessboard can't always help you from being sodomized in the prison showers.
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993)
Every sport has a crowning cinematic masterpiece. Boxing has "Raging Bull," baseball has "The Natural" and ping-pong has "Balls of Fury." Few would argue that there is a better chess movie than "Searching for Bobby Fischer." This is a great movie with a legit all-star cast. The movie centers around the idea that chess is a game that has been drifting around in the doldrums since losing its greatest player. When an 8 year old prodigy appears to be the next incarnation of the fallen hero, the entire chess community pins its hopes that this child can save a once proud country of chess players. Little known fact: After seeing Lawerence Fishburne's performance in this film, the Wachowski Brothers wrote and directed a complete rip-off of "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and called it "The Matrix." In this pathetic imitation, we have nearly the same plot: The very future of a group (chessplayers) hinges on finding the identity of The One (Fischer). The One is supposedly a predestined person who is capable of seeing the secrets of all of life as we know it (chess).
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
In this film, we can't help but fall in love with two unlikely friends in the form of a Rockstar and an Accountant. In one particularly emotional scene, we come across the sexually inexperienced Accountant, on his honeymoon, confused with his new role as a husband and struggling with his very faith in God. As he desperately tries to understand God's reason for putting a playground next to a sewer system, he finds solace with the Rockstar. Through the creative use of an oversized chess set as a marital aid, the Rockstar is able to show the Accountant the beauty of the sexual act as well as finding a level of intimacy with his new bride that he never thought possible. Movie Life Lesson: We all can learn something from each other. As the Rockstar provides the benefit of his vast coital experience to the Accountant, we hope that in turn, the Accountant can lend his financial expertise to help prevent the Rockstar from becoming a cautionary tale on VH1's "Behind the Music."
Friday, April 24, 2009
In order for any of these things to happen, we must make chess more popular. And I am here to say that this is actually much easier than most people think. People have said for too long that chess will never achieve mainstream success. But in reality, an activity is irrelevant to its popularity. The largest determinant to whether something is popular or not is its promotion. And the promotion of chess in this country sucks.
Sure, we have problems with the federation that is technically in charge of promoting chess in this country, but that is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem, as I see it, is the lack of the human element. We tend to forget that 2 people are playing the game. These people have stories and personalities, but we never get to hear them.
The most horendous example of this problem is the Computer vs. Computer matches! Is there anything more boring and damaging to the image of chess than that? Are we suppose to revel in the glory of the computers' perfect play? Who gives a shit about perfect play!? That's like going to the movies to watch a film about a perfect life. BORING! Show me some guy who's life is fucked up and tell me how he overcomes it...that's what I want to see. That's what makes me cheer, laugh and cry.
To promote chess, we must make chess more human. So how do we do this?
1. The Internet. This has been a huge windfall for chess and chess communication. Chess blogs are all over the place (don't look now, but you're reading one) and online play has created millions of closet chess players. The best example of this is the one-stop, chess playing, social networking masterpiece called Chess.com. Anyone can play as well as connect with other chess players and truly feel like part of an online communty.
2. Focus on Character. Every person has a story. And the story of chess players in an amazing one. The incredible personal sacrifice to a game that never promises to give back as much as you put in? These people are not lured by flashy cars and supermodels. They are not leaving high school to go pro. They are sacrificing everything to play a game with little financial reward or prestige. Many get to the end of the road, and like a bitter drunk staring at a bottle, wish they had never seen a chessboard. Or others come from far away countries, dodging and weaving through years of beauracracy and political instability just to find a home. I don't give a shit about the tournament where they achieved their second GM norm, give me the stories of thier lives!!!!
3. Away from the Board Promotion. Chess is a very intimitating game for those who don't know how to play and can be downright cruel to those who do. And while the pieces may be beautiful, they aren't too cuddly. We need something softer, like....t-shirts!! Oh snap!!! See what I did there? I brought it back around to Endgame Clothing, The Original Chess Apparel. Apparel has been a standard for promoting activies for years. There are millions of people who wear Quiksilver or TapouT without every stepping foot into the ocean or an octogon. But people buy and wear the t-shirts because they support what the sport represents. Endgame Clothing t-shirts are an off-board expression of the love of chess.
My parents have never played poker. But my parents love watching poker on TV and they know all the players' names. They know who is nice and who is a jerk. Poker has done something very, very, right. They focus on the drama of the players, not the game.
"Hey, Mom, do you know any names living chess players?"
"Of course, honey, Bobby Fischer."
"Actually, he died a while back."
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The US Chess Championship will take place in May in St. Louis...
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The semi-finals will take place on April 4th. More info can be found here.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I feel a little embarrassed that I didn't realize how powerful this community has become. I have always been a US Chess Federation kind of guy. And it might be a completely inbred, dysfunctional family, but it was my family. And even though mom and dad always argue and have taught me to have extremely low expectations which they continously fail to meet, I have stuck with them. I mean, they are the sanctioning body for chess in the United States...you can't get any better than that, right?
But damn...look at Chess.com. They have everything! It is a completely integrated online home for chess players. Playing chess can be a very cold and lonely endeavor at times and I think that is why the game loses so many of its casual players. But Chess.com has made a very comfortable place to hang out and find mentors and friends.
The visionary behind all of this is a guy named Erik. He has put his heart and soul into this chess community and it shows. But he isn't just some guy who runs the site and holds his constituents in contempt...he is an active part of the community. The amazing thing is that if there are any problems with the site, he is the first one to accept blame and ask the members for help and suggestions for improvement. His openness and transparency of action is not only endearing, but makes the members feel like they are all part of the journey. The USCF could learn a thing or two (or two million) from Erik and Chess.com.
Is this face the future of chess?
Oh, and Erik also wrote some very cool things about Endgame Clothing. You can check out the whole thing...here.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
For those of you out of the loop, this bombshell came out a while ago, but I have been waiting for the rest of the International Chess News Corp to pick up on it. I figured this would have been a huge story! I guess I'll just have to report it myself...
The popular rock band, Rise Against, released their fifth studio album in October of last year. The name of the album is "Appeal to Reason" and it premiered at #3 on the Billboard 200. The album was immediately embraced as a critical and commercial success.
While this is all well and good, people seem to have overlooked the real importance of this album. It employs major chess imagery. Watch out Wu Tang! There's a new band on the block for chess players to desperately look to for validation on the musical landscape.
So without any further ado, I present what I am calling "See? It told you chess is cool #47 "...
What's that? You don't see anything? Well, look a little closer...
My high school years have been officially vindicated! I knew I was cool...I fucking knew it! I just didn't know I was ahead of my time. Here we have a successful band (but not too successful...we don't want to lose street cred) showing some heavy chess love.
So why does Rise Against have a bishop on their album cover?
No. I'm asking you, "Why does Rise Against have a bishop on their album cover?" Because I don't know. I have messaged them on Myspace, but haven't heard anything back. I'll let you know if there are any late breaking developments, but right now I need to go set the record straight with a few girls from high school that didn't understand what a visionary I was...
By the way, both the band and this album are great. And although it lacks the chess imagery, their previous album "The Sufferer and The Witness" is a favorite of mine.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
This first is a video review by Coty Gonzales. All this guy does is review t-shirts...he has seen a million of them...he eats t-shirts and craps cotton...let's see what he has to say about two of the Endgame shirts...
Glorious Nonsensities 2x06: Crazy Bananas, Endgame Clothing and Chess from Coty Gonzales on Vimeo.
In addition to the video, Coty interviewed me one-on-one for his "Indie Tee Spotlight"...this can be found here.
We were also mentioned on MilitantGeek.com, who reviews "T-Shirts for a Geek Friendly Future." Here's what they had to say:
"Chess geeks have had it rough. When somebody would go and attempt to make some game inspired gear it usually turned out on the french-horn-in band side of extracurricular lame. Not John. John started his shop, EndGame Clothing with a mission: create chess inspired shirts that would be equally at home raiding the frat house as they would be castling. That’s quite an accomplishment."
Sunday, February 15, 2009
But for every person that didn't like my shirts, there were 2 that loved them. This was great and I want to thank everyone who came by to say, "hi." In particular, there were a group of guys from Cal State Northridge who where totally stoked to see my shirts and I even met 2 people who follow this blog!
This was my first attempt to promote Endgame in the offline world. I took a few pictures of my vendor table posted them in the draft for this blog entry, but after seeing them, I took down the pictures...they look too boring. I can now see that my set-up really failed to capture the majesty that is Endgame Clothing. I'm not going to let that happen again...I have some great ideas for next time.
By the way, the shirt that was in "poor taste" was my second best seller.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I will be peddlin' my wares and pimpin' my shirts at the 24th annual U.S. Amateur Team West tournament on Saturday, February 14th. The tournament will be held at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA. Be sure to come by and say, "Hi!"
More info about the tournament can be found here.
Here is a little bit of my friend's conversation with this person...
My Friend: When does the confetti fall from the ceiling?
Lottery Employee: What confetti, sir?
My Friend: There should be confetti that falls from the ceiling when a big winner like me comes around. Come on, where is it?
Lottery Employee: (No answer. Just a dead blank stare. She cuts my friend a check who then studies the check very closely for a full minute.)
My Friend: Oh, this can't be right.
Lottery Employee: What do you mean?
My Friend: This check is too small.
Lottery Employee: No, sir, it is for $20,000...exactly the amount you won.
My Friend: No, I mean, the check is too small. Where is the big check, the huge one that I have to carry with two hands?
Lottery Employee: What?
My Friend: You know, that 4 foot long one.
Lottery Employee: That is only for ceremonies.
My Friend: Is there a suggestion box around here? I think you guys should make some changes...
I was cracking up when my friend told me this story, but can you image how soul crushing it must be to sit behind a counter all day and just hand out lottery winning?
So what does this have to do with chess? Well...nothing, really.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
In organized chess today, the scholastic programs make up the majority of the members of the United States Chess Federation. And on one level, that is a great thing; the Federation needs every member it can get. But as a result, the Federation has created an environment that is wwaaayyyy too kid friendly. We are so busy kissing their prepubescent asses and trying to keep their parents happy that we end up trying to please everyone from ages 5 to 95. This is an impossible task!
So what we all get is a big serving of bland, boring, uninteresting dullness. Is it any wonder why so many people drop out of the chess scene after a few years? Unless you have completely dedicated your life to the game, are an 8 year old, or the overprotective parent of an 8 year old, I just don't many things that hold the attention of the casual player. The casual player needs to be given some other type of social reward or fulfillment.
Now don't get me wrong...I like kids, I have kids and I even used to be a kid. And I believe that if kids are around, then everyone has a personal responsibility to set the best example possible. But sometimes I also like to curse and get pissed that I hung a piece for the thousandth fucking time!
I am here to say that this squeaky clean one-image-fits-all is wrong! I am here to say that is one of the MAJOR reasons that chess in America is in such a sorry state!
And this is one of the reasons I started Endgame Clothing...that's right, dear reader, to save chess!!!
End Part One
Monday, January 26, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
A customer of Endgame Clothing sent me the following quote...
"If alterna-rock were a chess game, Lit would control the all-important mid-board squares, where the diagonals of cutting force intersect with the horizontals and verticals of straightforward pop-melodic appeal."
Talk about an amazing coincidence! This is from an article written in the LA Times back in 1999. Fast forward 10 years and a few million albums later and the guitar player, Jeremy Popoff, is wearing one Endgame's chess t-shirts. Awesome!!
By the way, if you do not own Lit's "A Place in the Sun," you have to get it. It is simply one of the best pop/punk albums ever.
The full article with the above quote can be found here.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
So what does this have to do with chess t-shirts? Well...nothing, really.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Poker is boring. Golf is boring. Billiards is boring. They are all so boring that each of them is usually accompanied by massive amounts of drinking. But they are also all on TV. Take a gander on ESPN2 on a Sunday afternoon and you will see nothing but boring sports. Billiards, golf, poker, spelling bees, scrabble and sandcastle building. Seriously? Sandcastle building? And did I mention that cooking has an entire channel?
Now I'm not here to pick on anyone, (well, maybe the scrabble people, I mean they're just so smug with their big vocabularies) but instead I want to spotlight what these other "boring" sports are doing right and what chess can learn from it.
When we're watching golf and the camera just happens to cut away to some guy in 19th place, we know he is going to make a spectacular shot. Go spend some time in a poker room and tell me that's not one of the most boring places on the planet. But when we watch on TV, every hand is pure excitement.
We're not talking about rocket science here...with chess you would film hours of play, do massive post-editing to just show the critical moves and put in some decent commentary. With the help of computer analysis, you can explain to the casual player or layperson what the best move is and illustrate it on-screen with some snazzy computer graphics. Flesh out the players with some filmed interviews and narratives with compelling back-stories. And, of course, some hot chick to conduct post game interviews.
People don't watch TV to see games, they watch to see human drama and joy. By itself, does it really matter if someone sinks a 20 foot putt or catches a spade on the river? No! But what I find engrossing is the passion and dedication it took to be able to sink a 20 foot putt. And I love to see the child-like excitement when someone catches a spade on the river to complete a flush. I want to see the victory and defeat, the journey, the competition, the stakes and the winnings!!
Do I really give a shit if a kid knows how to spell "alopecoid?" Hell, no! I just want to see something like this:
Good stuff. Human stuff. Ridiculous stuff. And is there anything more ridiculously human than sitting for hours, deciding which little piece to move on a board?
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Speaking of photos...what do we have here?
It looks like IM Sam Shankland sporting the Wandering King! Thanks for the support, Sam!