Sydney is a six letter word

10/25/2006 – The Opera House and Harbor Bridge, suckao and The Rocks, koalas and Caoili – Australia, and in particular the 4.3 million metropolis of Sydney has plenty to offer. Like the Sydney International Open Chess Tournament, which will take place in April 2007, with an A$13,100 prize fund. Like to join the fun? Then shout us a stubby, mate!

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Sydney is a six letter word

By Edwin Lam Choong Wai

Australia is well-known the world over as the Great Outback where koalas are aplenty, platypus roam the Yarra and kangaroos hop freely. To chess players – especially those from England and Armenia – Australia is also home to chess queen WIM Arianne Caoili, the subject of a certain Gormally-gate incident some months back. But, Australia is more than all that. It is the world’s sixth largest country and also home to the monolith called Uluru, the Twelve Apostles and of course, the iconic harbor city of Sydney.


WIM Arianne Caoili, one of the attractions of Australia

Sydney, populated by more than 4.3 million people, is the largest city in Australia. It was also the venue of the 2000 Olympic Games. Come April 2007, Sydney will also play host to the Sydney International Open Chess Tournament. Scheduled between the 10th and 14th of April 2007, this 9-round FIDE-rated event will be played at the time control of 90 minutes + 30 seconds increment from move 1. The total prize money for the Sydney International Open is A$13,100, making it the richest open chess tournament in Australia.


The Sydney Opera House

A fair dinkum Aussie myself, it doesn’t take me too much of effort to play tour guide on Sydney, having been there three times so far.

Water, water in the sea… Who is the fairest of them all?

Mention the name Sydney and the first things that spring to mind are the magnificent harbor, towering skyscrapers, waterfront homes, a multi-cultural population and nice beaches with perfectly tanned bodies surfing and sub-bathing. Images of the Sydney Opera House, Harbor Bridge, Bondi and Manly beaches are the best known exports from Sydney to the world. Not surprisingly, much of life in Sydney, just like in all other great cities around the world, is centered on water.

In the history of mankind, there is not (or, hardly, I would say) a capital city in the world that does not find itself situated in close proximity to a body of flowing water. Perhaps, with the exception of Mbabane in Swaziland, Maseru in Lesotho and Quito in Ecuador, there seems to be a universally accepted mathematical relationship that says “great cities = river / sea”.

Sydney and the f-word

“No, no… no vulgarities on the Internet, please,” screams the dear reader at this point of time. Don’t be mistaken, my friend. This headline does not refer to the four-letter f-word used by Premier Iemma earlier this year. Rather, the six-letter f-word that I am referring to in the title above is “fusion”.

Sydney is best defined by this six-letter f-word. With a diverse neighborhood of Italians, Vietnamese, Chinese, Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Balkans, Indians, Japanese, Koreans, Malaysians, Indonesians, Thais and Pinoys, Sydney is the Nirvana of “fusion” culture. Like a house of cards, with “fusion” culture, come other forms of “fusions” too.

First and foremost would be its influence on fashion and fad. Young Sydney designers have taken their multi-layered cultural influences and translated it into fashion. Not surprisingly, just walk down the weekend flea market at The Rocks and you will find Oriental-inspired fashionable accessories.


George Street, The Rocks

Aside from fashion and fad, there are certainly “fusion” influences on food. Since the 1970s, Australia has become famous in the culinary world for its “fusion” food thanks to the influx of migrants from Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Walk down any street in Sydney and you will find an Italian pizza joint or a Chinese sweet-and-sour chicken or “chow mien” takeaway. Korean restaurants serving their famed beef “bulgogi” or Italian cafes selling gelato is also a common thing in Sydney.

F stands for “fusion”. F stands for “food”. F stands for “fish market”. Anyone who has been to the Sydney Fish Market will never forget the experience of downing a fresh serving of oyster with thousand island salad dressing and a touch of lemon juice. Or, you can even have a freshly caught salmon fillet made your way. Be it smoked, grilled with garlic sauce or made sushi-style, this is “fusion” food at its best!

Italian mafias of Glebe and Chinatown’s dim sums

Sydney’s “fusion” food also includes the serving of the best tiramisu in the Italian enclave of Glebe. No mafias here, just very boisterous Italian descendents serving you the most delicious tiramisu.

Sydney’s Chinatown is really crowded on weekends, thanks to the yummy “dim sums”. This “yum cha” culture in Chinatown is about mouth-watering snacks served in steaming bamboo baskets and eaten with pots and pots of Chinese tea for brunch.

In a multi-ethnicity setting, “fusion” food has a much deeper context set to it. Contemporary Australian cuisine in itself is a “fusion” of modern Australian cooking methods with fresh Australian produce enhanced with a hint of international flavors and finally topping it off with Australia’s best New World reds and white wines.

Led by the likes of Michelin-starred Tetsuya Wakuda and Malaysian-born Cheong Liew, Australian dining is all about “fusing” the best from their country of origin with other modern cooking techniques. With influences of Asian cooking, coupled with the use of the finest Australian ingredients and having influences of flavors from the Mediterranean migrants, “fusion” cooking in Australia is about “yin” and “yang” or, the East and the West.

Talks about “fusion” food would not be complete without describing “suckao”.

Sucked, not sipped!

Just like how James Bond likes his Martini to be shaken, but not stirred… Syneysiders have a liking for their hot chocolate to be sucked, not sipped! Sounds weird? Not at all, if you are down at Max Brenner’s Chocolate Bar located along Oxford Street, in order to experience this innovative twist from the traditional hot chocolate.

Serving its signature “suckao” whereby an egg-shaped container with milk is heated by using a candle underneath, patrons would pour blocks of chocolate (either dark, milk of white) into the warm milk and then stir it using a metal spoon that also functions as a straw. As the blocks of chocolate began to melt into hot chocolate, these patrons could then begin to suck it through the metal spoon. This hip and funky café is a favorite of Sydneysiders, thanks to the “suckao” way of having a cuppa hot chocolate!

Can you already guess where did the name “suckao” come from? It’s quite obvious, isn’t it?


Sydney Townhall

Sun, surf and fun

Sydney is, indeed, the “fusion” city of the East. For those who want to get a tan, head straight to Bondi or Manly beaches on a clear, sunny autumn weekend. Sun and surf on a day of fun.

To those who live to shop, Sydney’s a paradise, too. From the magnificent Queen’s Victoria Building all through the various departmental stores along George Street, one can shop their hearts out. The Rocks is also a good place to shop, especially during the flea market on weekends.


An Australian bird

[Tony Dowden of Launceston, Australia, informs us that it is a kookaburra, a giant of the kingfisher family. Instead of eating small fish like most other kingfisher species, the kookaburra has an exotic diet including some of Australia's most poisonous snakes. The onomatapoeic Australian Aboriginal name of this bird is derived from its decibel-laden 'song', which for all the world sounds like manic laughter.]

One can also go for excursions outside Sydney. Check out the magnificent Blue Mountains and the various national parks around Sydney. To those who are less adventurous, but still want to have a night out of fun and entertainment, head straight to the Kings Cross or Star City.


Kangaroo, the great Australian icon

For the more laidback, they can simply take a sip of Crown lager and watch over the shimmering water of autumn on the sidewalks of Sydney’s Opera House. This is something that no money can buy!

Sydney is, indeed, the most iconic city in the Southern Hemisphere. To paraphrase Tourism Australia’s latest advertising campaign, “So, where the bloody hell are you?” Come on down to Sydney, mate!

Tournament Schedule and Details

The Sydney International Open Chess Tournament is nicely timed to coincide with the end of the 45th Doeberl Cup 2007 in the Australian capital of Canberra. The 45th Doeberl Cup, slated to start on the Friday, 6th April 2007 will end on Monday, the 9th April 2007. Foreign raiders can arrange their schedule as such in order to play in both back-to-back events of the Doeberl Cup and Sydney International Open.

Players’ meeting will be held on Tuesday, 10th April 2007 with the ensuing Round 1 on the same day. Entrance fees, for players with FIDE rating below 2500, range between A$50 and A$160. Free entrance is given to GMs, IMs, WGMs, WIMs and players with FIDE ratings above 2500. The tournament will finish by Saturday, 14th April 2007.

The top prize of A$4,000 is up for grabs at the Sydney International Open Chess Tournament. Prizes are given out to the top 12 participants, with a further 3 special prizes for the Best Female, Best Under-16 and Best Under-12 players. ANZ Bank, Coffs Harbor Surgical Group, Parramatta RSL Club, Dato’ Tan Chin Nam and Chess Attack Pty Ltd are sponsors of the event. The Parramatta City Council is sponsoring the tournament venue.

Many times Australian chess Champion GM Ian Rogers and GM Murray Chandler have already confirmed participation in the Sydney International Open. Perhaps, Arianne Caoili may also register herself soon! So, to all the Gormallys and Aronians of the world, the Sydney International Open could be a golden opportunity to catch a glimpse of this chess queen!


Sleeping koala in Taronga Zoo, Sydney

Registering and accommodation

  • Entry form for the Sydney International Open Chess Tournament (attached)
  • To register, please contact FIDE Master, Brian Jones, of Australian Chess Enterprises. He is reachable at either +612.9838.1529 (office) or +614.1318.2877 (mobile) or chessaus(a)chessaustralia.com.au (email).
  • The closing date for entries is on 30th March 2007
  • Accommodation is available at Courtyard by Marriott Parramatta Hotel
  • Alternatively, here’s a list of other available accommodation venues within the City of Parramatta
  • The venue of the event is the Parramatta Town Hall along Church Street, Parramatta.

What else are you all waiting for, mate? Go get yourself prepared, register yourself for the tournament and book your flight to Sydney! Come on over to Sydney this coming April 2007 and shout me a stubby, mate!



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