Hostilities have kicked off at the inaugural SIO tournament here in Parramatta. The local mayor opened with the Orangutan in the traditional opening ceremony. As always, something always goes wrong. The start of the opening ceremonies was delayed because one of the sponsors had apparently gone on a walkabout. Other than that, everything is advancing along smoothly.
There are a number of notable names in Australian chess here. I see IMs Guy West and and Leonid Sandler. The latter will be providing game commentaries, I hear - if only they can actually sort out the wireless connection. Even the normally invisible NSWCA president Bill Gletsos is here too. Ah, and there's Gary Wastell - the big man of the ACF himself. I'm just way too shy to talk to the guy. He looks mighty serious, I have to say - what with that bluetooth wireless device attached to his ear.
Welcome back to chess Arianne Caoili. After a long lay-off she sounds quite excited to play again. She's forgotten what 1.d4 is all about, she says. Well, you know, I know something about 1.d4; that's all I play!
And I see some familiar Kiwis, too. The Smiths, Garbett. Nice of them to return the favour after Queenstown. I hope they have a great time. Parramatta isn't anywere near like that gorgeous New Zealand adventure capital, but this Sydney town does have its fine features. For example, I just love the fact that there are half dozen internet cafes within a stone's throw from the venue.
The Town Hall itself is quite small, hence the cap on entries. There's just enough room to be comfy between boards and along the aisles. Also, the top 12 boards are situated on the stage. In some sense this is a good idea but I don't know what the organisers will do with the crowd if they then want to watch the top games. There is no room up there! Brian hasn't said that he'll ban people from going up on the stage. No problem for me so far as I can get away with being a pretend "photographer"!
Silly me, I forgot to bring my laptop battery to the venue. So I'm signing off now. TCG will try to give near live pics every day of the event except for next Saturday - the last day. I'll be on a plane for London then. Sad really as the final day is often the most exciting.
I have more photos from the event here.