Saturday, June 9, 2007
- Full scholarship to the winner of the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls (2007)
- Full scholarship to the winner of the Denker Tournament of HS Champions (2007)
- Scholarship (not designated as a "full" scholarship) to the winner of the 2nd annual Susan Polgar World Open Championship for Girls (2007)
- Scholarship (not designated as a "full" scholarship) to the winner of the 1st annual Susan Polgar World Chess Challenge for Boys in Las Vegas (2007)
In addition, SP announced that starting in 2008: "The University has also agreed to host the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls. Besides having a permanent home for the prestigious Polgar event at a magnificent university setting, players and their parents will have a chance to save up to $50,000 or more each year in lodging and meal expenses!"
I take this to mean that Texas Tech will make dorm space available to the participants of this event and their parents, etc. and provide meal service.
Friday, June 8, 2007
The archaeologists' conclusion that the Butrint artifact was a chess piece drew gasps of horror from most traditionalist chess historians. The Butrint artifact cannot be chess, they say, because chess may not have even been invented at the time; furthermore, they say, since there is only one such piece, it could be anything - it is probably a "finial."
It's doubtful that anyone will ever be able to pinpoint an exact date when chess was invented. However, that hasn't stopped people from trying! In the late 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, it was practically stated as fact that chess was invented in what is now part of Pakistan (pre-partition historians refer to this area as "northern India"), sometime during the 6th century CE. This date is used in H.J.R. Murray's work "A History of Chess," which is basically a chess historian's bible, and has been repeated ad nauseum on the internet. Since Murray's time, though, the possible date of the invention of chess has been pushed back a bit and most chess historians now accept a date somewhere in the middle to late 5th century CE. Well, guess where that puts the invention of chess - between 450 to 500 CE. According to news reports at the time of the discovery, the Butrint king is securely dated to 465 CE because of a distinctive type of Roman pottery found in the same level of ruins and some recovered coins.
What does current published archaeological and literary evidence reveal as to how old chess is?
The earliest "unambiguous" written reference to chess is, according to the traditionalists, in the Pahlavi (middle Persian) work Wizârišn î chatrang ud nihišm î nêw-ardaxšîr (The explanation of Chess and the invention of Nard), also called "Mâdayân î chatrang" or simply named "Chatrang nâmag" (The Book of Chess, per Murray), dating to about 600-620 CE.
Other than the Butrint piece, currently the earliest known chesspieces (chatrang pieces) were found at Afrasiab, near Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Those pieces are a king, chariot, vizier, horse (knight-image above), elephant, and two soldiers, all made of ivory. The Afrasiab discovery is significant because the number of pieces found and their configuration allowed chess historians to unequivocally declare that they were, indeed, chess pieces, albeit of the "figural" kind. That the pieces were figural and not abstract could reasonably suggest that the pieces are pre-Islamic, because of Islam's emphasis on not making "images" of living things.
The Afrasiab pieces are dated to about 760 AD because a coin, dated to 761 CE, was found with the chesspieces. The chess pieces could not, therefore, be any younger than the coin, but they could be older than the coin. This assumes that the excavated layer had not previously been disturbed, so that there is no possibility that the coin could have been introduced into a much earlier (or later, for that matter), layer of archaeological deposit.
H.J.R. Murray said that northwest India (ancient "Hind") was where chess originated, and for the better part of the 20th century, most agreed with him. However, there are other possibilities. A strong case can be made that proto-chess first arose in ancient China. There are literary references to such a game that predate the "Chatrang namag" by a couple hundred years. The great scholar Joseph Needham was of the opinion that chess was a Chinese invention. See his comments at Goddesschess (a large PDF file, will be slow-loading for dial-up users).
And our Chief, the late Ricardo Calvo, suggested that Persia itself might be the home of chess. See his comments at Goddesschess. I have been researching rather obscure and esoteric matters Persian that might support this hypothesis for the past several years. A woman's work is never done...
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Time and chess wait for no man - well, something like that. I know only too well the sad truth of that maxim whenever I accidentally look in the mirror at myself these days - of course, I'm not a man, but the sentiment is the same, alas... My goddess, to see super hunk GM Vladimir Akopian reduced to such straits - well, perhaps it's time I hung up my chess pieces, darlings.
(Photo upper left: VA at the 5th Gib-tel Masters, January, 2007; photo upper right: VA circa 1998)
It seems just a few years ago, back in August, 1999 when VA was one of the hottest properties in Las Vegas during the 1999 FIDE World Chess Championship at Caesar's Palace. I was there, panting after him - discreetly, of course. He was SO gorgeous - thick black hair, flashing dark eyes, slim, lithe, powerful, dangerous - and those fingers - oh my, those fingers when he picked up a pawn and moved it forward ever so gently yet firmly, just so...be still my heart.
Perhaps we could take up a collection and buy VA a year's supply of "Just for Men," the hair coloring agent that pretends not to be a hair coloring agent - oh, and a year's supply of Gillette razors - whatever the latest whiz-bang model is (I think it has five blades now, it shaves you all at once...)
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Monday, June 4, 2007
The question is why I feel drawn to these antique pieces? Part of it is because of my great love for history, especially ancient history. I’ve been fascinated by ancient cultures since I first learned to read. Part of it is the "story" I imagine behind each and every piece I see. Well, that’s always been the tension – tell stories and starve, or work for a living. I should have gone for a Ph.D in history and become a professor. Oh well.
One of my favorite places to visit from time to time is BC Galleries in Australia. I haven’t purchased anything from them but – maybe some day.
These are two lovely affordable pieces circa 1000 year old pieces, described as:
Two early Islamic bone game pieces, most probably chess pieces, each with concentric circle designs.
Origin: Circa 10th-12th century CE Afghanistan.
Dimensions: Height of each 3.7 cm
Price: AUD $575 USD $479
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Oh darlings! Things seemed to start out so promising yesterday morning. Not only was the weather here great (although with the constant threat of thunderstorms because we are centered under an unstable air mass), I was able to watch Judit's game taking place on my computer screen with virtually no problems - although sometimes a bunch of moves would suddenly show up all at once. Fortunately, I figured out how to back-click on a move to figure out what had happened. I'm not a college graduate for nothing, heh heh. Well, to tell the absolute truth - since I don't have any deep understanding of the kind of chess that people like Polgar and Bareev play, I often had no idea why they moved the pieces where they did. But - see below...
I was also trying to follow along with Susan Polgar's annotations of the game, and her comments gave me the necessary background to appreciate what was taking place on the screen.
Amazingly, I actually guessed a few of Judit's moves correctly - that is - I screwed on my thinking hat and stared hard at the screen, and said, okay, this is where I would move, generally without being able to come up with a good reason for doing so, other than to take a piece or move into what seemed a better position (of course, isn't that what all the really good players say? LOL!) And - lo and behold - sometimes she would move her piece there. This only happened a few times, and it was scary, man! The implications could be staggering for the future of my non-existent chess-playing career.
Oh no! Maybe Judit lost because I was filling the ether with my crappy chess moves and somehow, some way, she picked up on my brain waves out of the millions that were bombarding her from all over the world. Oh goddess! I sure hope that's not true!
Oh, Judit. How sorry I am that you did not advance. You would have had hundreds of thousands of women and even men chess fans rooting for you from all over the world. As it is, you get $40,000 less what I assume is FIDE's customary 20% off the top "take," and you go home to Gustav and the kids. Somehow, that doesn't seem right. But you'll be happy to see them, and happy to let your hair back down, until your event, whatever it is.
Shirov, who used to be so cute but who has let himself go terribly the past few years (weight and looks wise), made it through! Somehow, it seems like a "sign" to me - if you know what I mean (well, you probably don't; actually, not many people do, and most think I'm just a nut case). How well I remember that 1998 match in Germany between you and Shirov. You were both so cute back then - it was a sort of "battle of the sexes." If Shirov makes it through to the final four of the Candidates' to play in Mexico in the fall, I perceive that as a good sign for you. Yes, I know, it doesn't make much sense. But the Goddess works in very mysterious ways.
I guess all I want to really say is please don't retire any time soon, Judit. I love Humpy, but she's not ready to step into your shoes yet, and there doesn't seem to be any other woman behind her who can meet and beat the chess hommes on a regular basis. Not like you.
Wow, talk about pressure...