Horses and Sharks..

This time our trip to Iceland was more relax. As Gawain mentioned in his last post, we both flew over early to play in the Icelandic chess league. Its size and depth is amazing for such a small country.

I always feel at home in Iceland, even if the weather is greyer and colder then I’d like. It just feels like a lovely place to be, the nature all around reminds me of New Zealand and even the pigeons there looks healthy. The water is the supposedly the purest in the world and I’d be the first to agree. Be warned though, their electricity is heated up by geothermal activity which means when you shower you’ll get some of that sulphur smell. After a while you get use to it and of course it can be worse when you are driving through the lava fields with their vents!

We played the Icelandic League in Selfoss which Gawain mentioned is where Bobby Fischer is buried. Unfortunately due to the round times plus the fact we played long games we didn’t get go and visit. I’m sure we’ll be back and will go for a visit.

On the Sunday,it was my birthday and I was treated to a day riding an Icelandic horse. I was a bit afraid but after riding elephants in Thailand I felt I should be ok.


Nevertheless, I struggled with getting on the horse but i managed in the end. We rode our horses at ishestar which is in the town of Hafnarfjorfur which is where we climbed Mt. helgafell in out last visit.




My horse was called glowy and he was very friendly though he liked to chew his bit mouthpiece and I had to show his who was the boss. Iceland really is the place of all seasons, we went through warm sun to beautiful snow and also not so nice thick hail. The Icelandic horses are smaller then most other breeds which makes me think how do people get up on big horses gracefully! They are well known for their gentle nature and famous for the Icelandic toit. During our tour we at times went quite fast which the horses enjoyed.
We had dinner at the Posh Fish and Chips bar which was delicious! You should also check our their interesting dips made with Skyr.

The next morning we planned to go to the Blue Lagoon only to find out that Ginger GM Simon Williams and Icelandic IM Bragi Thorfinnson were also heading out that way. We were lucky enough to cancel our bus and catch a ride with them. The Blue Lagoon water’s actually very blue – a light turquoise and it’s very spacious. We spotted Dutch GM Erwin L’ami and his wife WGM Alina L’ami enjoying themselves. It’s all very fancy and well thought out. When you arrive, you receive these bracelets which effectively is your credit card. You use it to buy drinks (yes you can drink beer) and other things like ice-cream. I forgot to get my camera but Simon Williams took some pics that I hope he’ll email me soon!

That evening we met up with Runar Berg, an Icelandic player (2100) who is also a fisherman. We went to a restaurant highly recommended by Bragi for it’s whalemeat. Gawain was starting when we arrived so he ordered a starter which composed of various Icelandic delicacies and Simon was so excited about seeing Shark on the menu, he ordered a whole bowl full.

Can you guess the contents? Or do you want to guess?? There are some strange delicacies in there..

Now, we received a warning from Runar that we wouldn’t enjoy it but Si being Si decided to order it anyway. As soon as it came, we were wondering what exactly it was. The shark was cut into small cubes and you had toothpicks to eat it with – I put it in my mouth and started to chew.. and it was ice cold! (Frozen shark?!) Then all of a sudden I had a huge hit of salt water and I couldn’t eat it anymore. It was surely the strangest thing I’ve eaten and Simon had a whole bowl of it! In Iceland you drink it with Brennivin which is a brand of schnapps. It has a strong taste and a high alcohol contents which is probably why because can stomach the shark!

(It doesn’t taste so bad if you add bread and butter and tuna spread…)

Here’s what it looks like in store and it wasn’t served up much differently..

I came back to London after the first round and I left Gawain to fend for himself. He didn’t do badly finishing on 2nd= after losing in the 7th Round against Boris Avruk he bounced back to win the last two games to finish with 7/9. Here are the final results.

Today is also the start of the European Individual in Plovdiv, Games start at 3pm local time which is two hours ahead of London. Gawain is ranked 60th seed and unfortunately you can’t see his live games today! Check out the home page for more information (pairings/live games e.t.c). I’ll be visiting on Friday for a few days so hopefully will get some good snaps.