The Scottish squad at the World Youth Championships in Oropesa del Mar in Spain (Nov 2001) had selected a tortuous return journey going via Paris (to save cash). Graeme Nolan, squad coach, relates that the journey was made more interesting by a surprise passenger on the same flight.
Whilst waiting at Barcelona Airport with nothing to look forward to except a long boring journey home, Louise Macnab, looking back down the queue, asked "Doesn't that look like Vladimir Kramnik?" Wouldn't that be funny we all thought. It was him.
Not only that but the Scottish players were seated next to the champion on the flight to Paris.
At first he was just resting his eyes while Chris MacDonald, in the adjacent seat, was looking over his games from the tournament.
"Can I see your games?" Kramnik asked suddenly. Chris, understandably delighted, immediately handed over all of his scoresheets, and offered his chess set to assist Vladimir's analysis.
"This is not necessary." Kramnik responded and worked out the analysis in his head while annotating the scoresheets.
The world champion spent the rest of the flight giving the players chess problems (and autographs). One non-chessplaying passenger, confused by all the fuss, asked VK "Who are you?" - "I'm a chessplayer!"
A once in a lifetime encounter with a great diplomat for world chess. The journey home was much more interesting than expected.
|(l to r): Graeme Nolan, Chris MacDonald, Vladimir Kramnik, Louise McNab, Daniel McGowan, Steven Tweedie.|