Monday, March 31, 2008

Doeberl and SIO - Final Remarks

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.


Anonymous said...

$4 per day for bottled water. So what? Sydney is an expensive place to live. Get over it

Anonymous said...

Why wasnt this bought to the organisers attention during the tournament, instead of waiting until after the tournament when nothing can be done about it now?

Anonymous said...

Next time you are up for Doeberl, I'll take you for a walk to Woden Plaza, which is literally 5 minutes walk from the Hellenic Club. It is a very big shopping mall and has lots of pavement cafes on the outside. While it is nowhere near as nice as Manuka, it is not bad and there are a variey of different restaurants and cafes. There is also a big cinema complex, a skating rink, food courts for cheap meals and a resonable market area.

Thanks again for your blogging efforts. :)


Anonymous said...

good feedback on the water. a few players (maybe from philippines and india) did not know the tap water was safe to drink. i really enjoyed this event. all the gm's seemed very friendly and were watching games at the end of the session. overall, a great vibe!

Anonymous said...

I know Woden Plaza is just across the carpark. I think one of the main issues was with accomodation. No doubt the venue itself was a huge improvement, along with additions such as commentary by Rogers, but there was no real 'walk to the venue' option for interstaters.

Anonymous said...


I was answering Amiel's comment about Woden being in the bush with only Kangaroos for companionship, not the bit about being able to walk to the venue.

There is a "walk to the venue option", but it is not a cheap one.

I agree cheap accommodation is an issue with Hellenic. Unfortunately we are a country town of only 300,000 - we don't have as many options as in a big city.

The Italo Australian Club was not available (it has been in huge finacial problems and its membership has had to put in money to save it from closing), nor was there anywhere else in the Manuka area. From there your only options in order to have the ability to walk from cheap accommodation to a venue would be to be in Civic. As far as I know your only viable venues would be something like Fenner Hall (- used previously for Doeberl and the venue was so crowded that it was hard to control noise), Lakeside or the Convention Centre.

Without putting the entry fees up to something astronomical, the latter two are just not viable.

I raised cheap accommodation as an issue at the outset of the planning for Doeberl and I know Charles and his crew looked hard for an ideal venue that was affordable and matched the criteria of being close to accommodation. Unfortunately the Hellenic was as close as they could get.

It is also unfortunate that the long weekend meant that Sunday bus time tables are used, because on normal days getting from Civic to Woden is quick and easy.

I think given the shortage of options in Canberra and what a great venue the Hellenic turned out to be, that it is going to continue.


Anonymous said...

Bear it in mind for next year, but I stayed at Victor Lodge and had room for 5 passengers each day :)