Nigel vs Hannes or Iceland in the Winter

by ChessBase
1/5/2002 – For Nigel it is a trip from sunny Greece into the Arctic winter. Ah, but Iceland has beautiful scenery, great hot springs and really cool logos! And lotsa GMs. One of them, Hannes Stefansson will meet Nigel Short in a match of six games in Reykjavik City Hall on January 8 to 13. More information and coverage is available here... – Correction: From icy Greece to sunny Iceland!

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From warm, sunny Greece into the Arctic cold?
You must be joking!

After we published our news flash about the match Nigel Short vs Islandic Grandmaster Hannes Stefansson, implying that for the Britisch GM, who resides in Greece, it would be a trip from sunny Athens into the bleak Arctic winter.

An hour later Nigel was on the phone. "You must be (expetive) joking!" he said. "I may not even be able to make it on time to Reykjavik in time, because of heavy snow – in Athens!" For the first time in living memory the capital of Greece is covered in snow. "If they are able to clear the airport and take off I'll be flying to sunny Iceland!" Nigel said. Great stuff for his children, who for the first time in their lives were able to make a snowman on their balcony in Athens. But tough for the GM father, who expects a flight delay of oh, maybe nine hours.

A snowman in Athens, with the Acropolis in the background

Update: Sunday, January 6
Nigel makes it to London

"I will consider my match against Hannes Stefansson a success if I succeed in getting to Reykjavik in time for the closing ceremony," said Nigel Short after waiting for fourteen hours at Athens airport for his flight to Iceland. It could have been worse – instead of arriving for the scheduled 04:40 a.m. departure time Nigel had the presence of mind to call the airport. He was informed that 9:00 a.m. would be sufficient. However, the blizzard in Athens had become worse and just getting to the airport in his car (no other form of transport was available) was a major adventure. At 8p.m. he was informed that there were good chances of getting onto a plane for London. At 11 p.m. he was still waiting, shortly after midnight his flight took off.

The Greek news agencies report that the freak winter storm has paralyzed much of southern and central Greece, blanketing the region with snow, blocking roads and disrupting flights. Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis told reporters that it was the worst weather in 40 years and asked citizens to take care and limit their travel. The capital Athens was covered by up to 20 cm (eight inches) of snow early on Saturday, a rare occurrence that left streets almost deserted and shut down much of Saturday shopping.

Greeks trying to cope with the freak blizzard in Athens. Our picture does not
show Nigel driving to the airport in his car. But listening to his story leads us
to believe that this is approximately what it was like for him.

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