Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Olympiad Opening Ceremony

Team Lunch
Most of the team had arrived by lunchtime so we sat down together to discuss strategy and exchange travel experiences. We were still missing Biljana Dekic and Sally Yu. Both arrived soon after. 

The food was so good that the queue stretched out to the foyer. Former world champions lined up along with unrated players from small island nations.

My favourite part was desert. Turkish desserts are mouth-watering. Stewed apricots filled with almond custard, pistachio and honey pastry, fresh fruit etc etc. I will not admit how many times I went back.

The opening ceremony started with some traditional dancing against a backdrop of a slideshow of some of Turkey's most picturesque tourist attractions. It was very colourful lively and entertaining but I could not help but think of Borat during the performance.   

Stay tuned for more, have a nice day :-)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Singapore Chess Academy

Friends, new and old

I made a new friend today. Philip Chan runs the Chess Academy Singapore and invited me for lunch at a great Laksa joint, then to the best sweet shop in Singapore. Its like he's telepathic! Perhaps one day we can have a Academy challenge! Doubleroo Brisbane v Chess Academy Singapore. 

Not only did I make a new friend but found one I had not seen for ages. As it happens Cristine Mariano, a former member of the Filipino national team teaches at the Academy. I caught her at work :)

Chess in schools is really taking off in Singapore as it is in many places in the world. Chess has long been known to increase a whole range of cognitive functions. Thinking made fun :) Philips walls are plastered with pictures of children having fun.  

Airport Comparison

Remember my irate rant about OOL? Well compare that to Changi International Airport in Singapore. I had a choice of counters for checking in.

Same with the security screening. To be fair I did have to queue for nearly a minute for passport control. Plenty of time for shopping, having a drink at the Tiger bar and posting this story with the free, lightning fast Wi-Fi. 

I feel like dancing with joy. This is what travelling should be like...and oh yeh, not a single stupid form to fill out. Singapore, I love you :-)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Olympiad, here I come!


Travel used to be exciting. Now it's worse than going to the dentist. But that could be because I have a great dentist :-) Direct flights from Brisbane were too expensive or too inconvenient (via Beijing) or both, so I booked a Scoot flight from the Gold Coast to Singapore and then a direct flight with Singapore Airlines.

OOL aka Coolangatta Airport was unbelievably bad yesterday. I arrived just before 7.30am for a 9am flight. After waiting in line for over an hour to check in it was time for the next queue for the security screening. Laptop out, coins out of pockets, Jacket off etc. Finally through. But this was only the preliminary screening. For international flights it was straight to the next queue and the same procedure all over again.

 An interesting novelty was the "outgoing passenger card". Also they wanted to see my onward booking from Singapore...not that one is needed. By the time we boarded I was already in a foul mood.


This budget carrier was founded by a Kiwi who was a former Singapore Airlines executive. His inspiration must have been Ryan Air. It is nearly as bad. They have a water dispenser but no cups! Bring your own or buy a drink on board if you want water. Unlike Ryan Air, the legroom was acceptable but otherwise they could be twins. 

This young lass was forced to work as a trainee stewardess for the entire flight :-) We did finally arrive and after filling in another form (arrival card) we got off the plane only half an hour late. Singapore customs was friendly and efficient and a nice welcome. Booking a Hotel at the Airport was also easy as was the Taxi to my Hotel the 81. 

This seems to be the food area of Singapore, where eating is the national sport. Geylang Road  has nothing but great restaurants sprinkled with the odd Buddist temple

or Hindu statue ( Ganesh)

I am embarrassed to admit how many small meals I had in the few hour before bed. My last one was at a great Muslim Indian 24 hour joint where I will go have breakfast as soon as I finish writing this post.

Anyway, getting hungry :-)
Have a nice day all and stay tuned for Istanbul updates. Also check out the Academy website which will be more chess orientated than this, my personal blog. 

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Scholar's Mate

I went to Somerville house girls school in Brisbane, where I teach to see how my students are doing. Not all the teams were seated yet and Jana Chehade had already Scholar's mated her opponent and packed up the set! I had arrived too late to take a team photo :( 

Above, Jane Nimmo delivers a delayed Scholars to her opponent only moments later. Milton state school, which had been travelling well until then was now two down with two to play. Parents, if your kids play inter-school chess, make sure they learn this. Click on the link above and replay it for them until they get it. If you yourself have fallen for it, same applies.

Harbourside Markets Simultaneous Exhibition

On Saturday I gave my second simultaneous exhibition in as many weeks at the Harbourside markets. Twenty-four students from various schools sent ambitious youngsters hoping to win a game against yours truly and a few came close but lost focus at some stage. The last "survivor"  won a voucher for $100 at this fine-food centre.

From above
Last week I was again treated to a Helicopter flight. The picture below is of Brunswick heads, my current retirement target. 

Brunswick Heads
And below you see New South Wales to the left and Queensland to the right


After filling up at Coolangatta Airport we headed up to the mountains  via Murwillumbah.


Just felt like I had to share a few of these with you, especially my overseas friends.  I need to look at them sometimes as well to explain why I am living in a country with hardly and chess tournaments. I admit that I am suffering withdrawal symptoms and can't wait for the Olympiad. Speaking of which, it is now 23 days since I decided once again to quit tobacco. So far so good. I will not claim no hiccups but the occasional OP (other persons) should not constitute failure.

Academy news

Welcome to our newly opened store! I have been too busy(lazy) to do much to build the Academy lately and we have been waiting for stock and other things...and been a bit lazy, lets be honest here, but our store has new products!

I will just show you these pieces to wet your appetite. Nice? They are even more spectacular to play with. They are specially weighted so nearly impossible to knock over. To play with these pieces adds extra pleasure to playing a game of chess.

Anyway, no rest for the wicked, soon a group of youngsters will turn up at the Academy for Monday after school chess. Cheerio!