"There are no ghosts, of course, except in the movies," writes Robert Byrne, chess editor of the New York Times, "but the nearest thing to one came back to haunt the chess world three weeks ago.

"Henrique Mecking returned from a 12-year absence to play a practice match with the Yugoslav grandmaster Predage Nikolic. The Brazilian grandmaster lost by a 2 1/2-3 1/2 score in Sao Paulo."That was no failure for a player kept out of the game for so long by a serious disease: myasthenia gravis, an often incurable affliction of the muscles. Now it remains to be seen whether Mecking can get back into the circle of world championship contenders, where he was in 1977. He is now 39 years old.

Heinz Wirthensohn writes in Die Schachwoche for March 22 that Mecking has described his recovery as a miracle brought about by his turning to Roman Catholicism. The article says he wrote a pamphlet, "How Christ Saved My Life," studied at a seminary and obtained a pontifical blessing before making his comeback in chess.

Before the match, Mecking asked his Brazilian fans to pray for his success.

All the games were drawn except the third, in which a fine piece of positional play gave Nikolic the decisive victory.

Mecking was born in 1952. He was awarded the title of international grandmaster in 1972.

He qualified for the 1974 series of candidates matches by winning the Petropolis 1973 interzonal tournament. But he was eliminated in the first round by Victor Korchnoi. In the next series Mecking repeated his interzonal success by taking first place at Manila in 1976 when his ELO rating was 2620.

- JUNIOR CLASSIC - The Utah State 1991 Elementary Chess Championship is scheduled to get under way Friday, April 12, at 5 p.m. It is being held at the Rowland Hall St. Mark's Upper School, 843 Lincoln (940 East), in Salt Lake City.

The tournament, being sponsored by the Rowland Hall St. Mark's Chess Team, will be a seven-round, Swiss-system tournament and will continue through Saturday, April 13.

Visitors are welcome, without charge, to watch the games being played by Utah students attending grades K-6.

It was anticipated that more than 100 of the best elementary school age players will be participating. They are competing for 40 trophies and awards. The tournament is under the direction of Peter Johnson.

- ADVICE - How do you win by defense? You persevere ingeniously. How?

You spot the opponent's threats early - preferably before he becomes aware of what stratagems are available to him.

And then you create a veritable mine field of traps.

It is quite all right if he sees his way through the labyrinth, as long as he must concentrate intensively and calculate copiously to unearth your machinations.

The plan is to wear the opponent down, to frustrate him repeatedly, to get him so agitated that his judgment wavers. Or perhaps he begins to distrust his overall conception of the position.

In that case, such an unfortunate opponent either underplays his hand or overplays his chances and falls on his face.

In the game between former world champion Anatoly Karpov of the Soviet Union and Viswanathan Anand, the grandmaster from India, this happened.

In the second round of the Ninth International Tournament played in Linares, Spain, the rapidly advancing player from Madras defended so skillfully that his illustrious opponent played into his hands and was defeated. Karpov resigned on his 47th move in a game with the "English Opening."

- TOURNAMENT - A four-round, Swiss-system tournament will be held Saturday, April 13, at 160 S. 500 West in Salt Lake City beginning at 10 a.m. Registration is set from 8 to 9 a.m. Rounds will continue at 12 noon, and 2 and 4 p.m. Rate of play has been set at 60 minutes per game. The entrance fee is $15, USCF membership. Prizes are from $150 down to $25.

- CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SOLVERS! - O. Kent Berg, Larry Butler, Jim Reed, Eugene Wagstaff, Stanley Hunt, Joe Sias, Kim Barney, Hal Harmon, Ramon E. Bassett, Gordon Green, Richard Schow, John K. Crandall, B.J. Peterson, Edwin O. Smith, William DeVroom, David Moody, Alison Hermance, Steven L. Staker, Camrin Copier, Hal Knight, David D. Kirk, Aaron T. Kennard, Raeburn Kennard, Nathan Kennard, Roger E. Neuman, Prof. Ardean Watts, Kay Lundstrom, Russell Anderson, Ted Pathakis, Robert W. Lee, David Wilhite and Stephen R. Clark.