On 4 August 1986 Melbourne Chess Club turns 120. 60 years have passed since Rosenblum's history of the club, and it is time for another. How should this be written? By dividing time up, a decade to a chapter, and saying who held office; and where the clubroom was to be found; and who played well and who played badly; and what matches and tournaments they had? Must every quotation show its source, and shall each page be buttressed by a mound of footnotes? Is there to be column after column of office-bearers and tournament results, like some vast outpouring of variations from the pages of Modern Chess Openings? Does it matter now whether Buzzard came third in the Annual Handicap tourney of 1901?
May a history be unsystematic and undocumented and so avoid being unreadable? Instead of carving up into neat slices, let us - to borrow a figure of speech - treat the last 120 years as a chess pie, to be attacked more roughly with a spoon.
Club minute books and other records, not always complete, must be the foundation. Other sources include the accounts of contemporary journalists and chess columnists, Bignold's Australian Chess Annual (1896), Rosenblum's Seventy years of Victorian Chess and the much more recent Australian Chess Lore series. The Melbourne Directory is a useful standby. The magazines have been invaluable, notably the Australasian chess magazine, the Austral, Australasian Chess Review, Check!, Chess World and Chess in Australia, the last including John van Manen's "Australiana" series.
The choice of persons, games and events is largely idiosyncratic. With facts that matter I have tried to be accurate. With those that do not I may once or twice have slipped across the ill-defined boundary separating inference from imagination. Hence the sub-title: not the history but the story of the Melbourne chess club.