The Mt Buller Australian Open, played between December 2004 and January 2005, will go down in Australian chess history as the Ghost Who Walks.
After having died then revived as a sort of Frankenstein tournament, it died again only to have its spirit literally hang around Aussie chess circles like a bad smell. For nearly a year now, chess fans Down Under have been waiting, demanding and waiting some more for their memento from the event: a CD full of tournament bulletins and games. Each CD cost these fans AUS$12.
This week, however, the Australian Chess Federation's head honcho, ex-lawyer Denis Jessop, was forced into an humiliating backdown. Writing in the latest ACF newsletter, Mr Jessop admitted, "The ACF Council has decided not to proceed with the production of the CD that was to have included material relating to these events".
The ACF head then went on into a long explanation as to how this laughable situation came about. You can just about read all of it as saying, it's all been too hard, tough luck! Instead of receiving their CDs, disgruntled fans will now either receive a refund or they can choose to have their monies redirected towards the ACF's Olympiad Appeal.
Central in this laughable episode is South Australian chess organiser and himself an ex ACF president, George Howard. By all accounts, it was he who announced and promised the CDs. For whatever reason, he failed to deliver. A natural question is: what action will the ACF be taking against Mr Howard?
This is all very upsetting, not to mention embarassing, for Australian chess. Let's hope there is no repeat. And to do that, the ACF must get it into their collective heads not to be so easily mersmerised by the promises of a salesman. In the Mt Buller fiasco, the ACF certainly got their fill - not one, but two salesmen!