After almost two weeks of chess, we're back now to normal programming. Truth be told: I'm totally knackered. Waking up at the same time as when I'm on regular working hours, then finishing some 12 hours later makes me feel like I missed out on what was meant to be a vacation! Still, I had a great time. But I won't do that too often. For now let me just write up a review of both Doeberl and SIO.
First up, Doeberl. I think most folks agreed that the Hellenic Club was truly a big leap above the Italo Club. I don't really want to spark an inter-ethnic riot here so let me quickly summarise what I liked about the Greeks. Good food, good lighting, spacious and wired. There was just one problem. The Greek Club is out in the middle of nowhere. Well, for a city guy like me, it seemed like that. In fact, the club is far enough from humanity that anyone driving around at night seriously runs the risk of hitting a kangaroo. Serious! To make things extra challenging - public transport in the evenings during that Easter long weekend is pretty infrequent. So unless you choose to stay in Woden itself, which is a silly thing to do because, well, there's nothing there - then it could be a problem.
One regular guest to Doeberl told me the other day that she misses Manuka. Yes, me too already. I miss the village atmosphere, alfresco dining, the leaf-covered walkways. Most of all, I miss the included breakfast in a nearby cheap motel!
Overall, though, this year's Doeberl edition was on multiple aspects the best I've attended.
Second, the SIO. The venue itself was nowhere near as good as Doeberl's. Like I said during one live blog, sit past board 21 and you feel like sardines in a tin, with barely space for those oversized scoresheets. But who cares really? The joint was good enough. Besides, when you're right in the middle of a city, with plenty of non-chess things for entertainment, everything balances.
But here's another thing: would the SIO organisers please provide free water like in Doeberl? It's not a problem for me, but our Pinoy visitors were troubled. Spending up to $4 per day, per person, on bottles of water is expensive for these guys. Against the appreciating AUD, their peso hardly buys anything. One Pinoy junior quietly complained that even in RP events, tea and water are provided gratis.
All in all - both Doeberl and the SIO were unforgettable. Two new features were particularly good: wireless internet and GM Rogers' commentaries. Thanks to on-site web access, we could live blog and blast out info almost the second they happened. Before I really neglect it, I must thank both sets of organisers for giving yours truly open access to virtually all information, including the juicy bits.
And of course there was Ian. The guy can really talk chess. Some bloke even claimed that after listening to one Rogers lecture, his play actually improved from one round to the next! Amazing stuff. And now that makes me think: will Rogers ever publish his memoirs? That'd be a bloody good read, I reckon.
See you again at the next big one.