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Davenport homicide victim was well-known publisher, chess player
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HOMICIDE VICTIM

Davenport homicide victim was well-known publisher, chess player

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Robert Long lived in a humble home on a modest street in Davenport.

The 74-year-old's sagging two-story faces the brick-covered 1500 block of LeClaire Street. High curbs cracked by time bulge to contain the neighborhood's shifting yards.

There is little, if any, sign of conspicuous consumption on the block — unless you count the discarded candy wrappers and dead leaves piling up against the sewers.

No one has said why Charlie Gary allegedly chose Long's home to rob Tuesday, Jan. 8. The 19-year-old told police he strangled Long before stealing his car. 

"We're just ordinary people on this block," said Connie Kindig, Long's next-door neighbor for "the last 10 or 15  years."

Kindig said she wants "to go back to ordinary" after Long's stunning murder in his humble home on the modest street. She's still friendly, but tired of talking to TV cameras and people who scribble in notebooks.

While Long's death grabbed headlines, friends and fellow chess players described a man who was anything but ordinary. Besides being an expert chess player, he was a mathematician, writer, small businessman and publisher.

He even wrote a book about internet dating for seniors.

John Beydler worked as an editor at the paper that is now the Dispatch-Argus for 48 years. He met Long in 1977.

"I decided I wanted to play a more serious level of chess," Beydler said. "I went in search of books, and I found a place called Thinker's Press. It was a little place up on Harrison Street."

Thinker's Press was a store that catered to chess players and other gamers. It featured books and equipment for chess players of all levels. It was the place where many met Long.

Beydler and a number of people tried to tell a little bit about Long's life through posts and comments on Facebook.

Beydler sat down to offer his own take, posting a remembrance Thursday.

"Bob's contribution to chess in the Quad-Cities and far beyond deserve to be more remembered than his end," Beydler wrote.

"Bob was just bright — he knew something about everything and had a wide range of interests," Beydler said Friday. "In his element, he was an outgoing guy. He could be growly — you know, irascible.

"But by God, it was fun to spend time with him."

Thinker's Press moved to 2nd Street and published books on chess. Long also started a mail-order business which Kindig said he converted over to online sales.

His imprint published titles from internationally known chess players. Long is said to have known famous chess recluse Bobby Fischer. Grandmaster Michael Rohde, writing under a remembrance post on Alex King's Facebook page, said Long helped him publish.

"I had many great discussions with Bob, concerning chess and other subjects, as he helped me to create my 1997 book ('The Great Evans Gambit Debate') published by his company Thinkers Press," Rohde wrote. "The genesis of the book was an article I had written about the 1995 game (between) (Garry) Kasparov and (Viswanathan) Anand — an Evans Gambit, the last game they played before their 1995 World Championship match. Bob ran with that and helped me grow it into a book."

Long's next-door neighbor knew a bit about Long's chess playing and his singular business.

"He was a very smart man, you could tell that by talking to him," Kindig said. "He was married for a while. I don't know her name, but the sticker on her car said 'Georgia Peach.' And she had another sticker that said 'I'm Bobby's Girl.'

"Rob, that's what we called him, was a good neighbor. He never made any noise or had wild parties, or anything like that. Sometimes we'd all stand out there in his front yard and talk about things, ordinary things. He was a good neighbor, a nice man."

Gary made his first appearance Thursday, Jan. 9 in Scott County Court, facing first-degree charges of murder, robbery and burglary. He was assigned a public defender and a second preliminary hearing was scheduled for 10 a.m., Jan. 17.

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