Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mon Roi Women's Grande Prix Finale

Hola everyone! I'm officially on vacation as of 12:00 a.m. and have glorious freedom to sleep late, indulge myself to the utmost and be absolutely lazy for the next nine days! Sooooo, I may not be hanging around here much unless I wake up at 3 a.m. and decide to post the odd what. Right now I'm taking a break from cleaning the bathrooms - one down, one to go - and for some reason it struck me as entirely appropriate to do a post here. Go figure :) Here is the official website for the Grande Prix Finale. There are eight women who made it to this finale: (1) IM Irina Krush (USA) (2) GM Pia Cramling (SWE) (she earned her GM ranking shortly after Susan Polgar did in the early 90's) (3) WGM Iweta Rajlich (POL) (4) WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (GEO) (5) WGM Jovanka Houska (ENG) (5) WGM Lela Javakhishvili (GEO) (7) WGM Cristina Adela Foisor and (8) Myriam Roy (CAN). First prize is $4,500 (I was in error when I published earlier that it is $7,000) plus a diamond-studded watch - too modern for my old-fashioned taste but a girl can never have too many diamonds. All hotel and transportation expenses for the players are being paid by the event sponsors. Nice! "Sofia" rules are in effect - no draws for the first 40 moves, so the players will be earning their pay. No offense against Krush, but Pia Cramling has always been one of my favorite players so I'm rooting for her to win this event!

Friday, July 20, 2007

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Goddesschess Brilliancy Prize

Hola darlings! One last post for the night - I'm running around the house like a maniac doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting, changing bed linens, stashing two-foot high piles of research and tabbed books under furniture, etc. etc. in preparation for the arrival of my Goddesschess guests, starting tomorrow, hoooraay! NEWS! Elizabeth Vicary has won the Goddesschess Brilliancy Prize, and well deserved indeed! I'm very happy for EV, and hope she will spend the $$$ on something entirely frivilous. Or buy a few shares of EEM :) Got the news by reading it at The Daily Dirt - well, why should I be surprised - they seem to know everything there - and EV just happened to post there that she'd won the prize :) Wonderful!

Living Goddess Gets Temporary Reprieve

Here's the original story. News today: Nepal reviews 'Living Goddess' decision By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, Associated Press Writer Fri Jul 20, 3:38 PM ET KATMANDU, Nepal - Nepalese authorities are reviewing their decision to revoke a 10-year-old girl's "living goddess" title after she broke tradition by traveling overseas, an official said Friday, following a rapturous welcome on her return. Sajani Shakya, who traveled to the United States last month to promote a documentary about the centuries-old tradition of Nepal's living goddesses, was met on her return home Wednesday by hundreds of supporters. They took her to the temple where she is worshipped in the capital, Katmandu, and held a brief ceremony to welcome her back. "We are consulting with elders, priests, and culture experts on whether it was appropriate for the living goddess to break tradition and leave on a trip," said Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses. He declined to comment further, but popular support for Sajani could have forced officials to review the case. Sajani is one of the top three "kumaris," or living goddesses, in Nepal. Living goddesses are worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. The girls are selected between the ages of 2 and 4 after going through several tests. They are required to have perfect skin, hair, eyes and teeth, and should not be afraid of the dark. They wear red, pin up their hair in topknots and have a "third eye" painted on their forehead. Devotees touch the girls' feet with their foreheads, the highest sign of respect among Hindus in Nepal. During religious festivals the girls are wheeled around on a chariot pulled by devotees. Living goddesses usually keep their title until they reach puberty.

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - The Final Day!

Round 9 will be starting at noon my time, about 20 minutes from now. Will something really dramatic happen - what if Elizabeth Vicary defeats Zatonskih? Wow - that would be something; heck, if she draws with her that would be something! Chances are they'll be a play-off for the title, but I'm still rooting for EV and Melekhina, who has had an excellent tournament. More later - 6:22 p.m. I'm home from the office now and start a week's vacation, yippee! We have a new U.S. Women's Chess Champion - Irina Krush, who won her game with the black pieces against Tatev Abrahamyan to finish the tournament in clear first with 7.0/9. A respectable score :) SO, no play-offs! Krush also secures a spot in the Women's World Chess Championship something or other - STILL not sure how that works but Krush, along with Rohonyan and Zatonskih, who finished second and third, respectively, each with 6.5, take the other two zonal spots. No rest for Krush, who is off to Montreal to try for a $7,000 prize and a diamond watch in the MonRoi sponsored final of the Women's Grand Prix, that starts tomorrow. Rohonyan, who was tied with Krush going into the final round, had the white pieces against the tournament's youngest player, Melekhina, but had to settle for a draw. Melekhina had an excellent showing but perhaps she's just a wee bit disappointed that she didn't take the full point and qualify for her first WIM norm. I sincerely hope Melekhina continues to work hard to improve her game and keeps playing. She has a poise I admire, she never seemed to get rattled during this event although admittedly I can't pinpoint exactly why I think that, it's the impression I received while trying to watch snatches of her games here and there. This kind of event, where she met and, I'd say, more than held her own against more experienced and higher-rated players, is exactly the kind of development and exposure she needs. It is hard to believe she only just turned 16; I believe people will be paying attention to her from now on. I would be delighted to see her continue to play and take the championship in a few years. We need to develop a continuing stream of younger female players to push our current established female stars from behind (just like they do in figure skating). Please keep playing, Alina! My other favorite in this event, Elizabeth Vicary, seemed to be developing a nice game with the white pieces against Zatonskih, but her end game fell apart and she condeded defeat - hey, I'm no expert, I can't pinpoint exactly what move or moves did it, but it happened and I was disappointed but I was trying to watch the game while ducking reams of paper being thrown at me by people panicking at the thought that I'll be gone for six full working days and I'm not one to go back and play over her game to see if I can spot anything (not that I'd recognize it anyway; as I posted to Stern elsewhere in the blog, I can't play my way out of a paper bag, and that's no lie!) I wonder what EV thinks of her performance? She can hold her head up and be proud, although she's probably kicking herself for "this move" or "that move." I can say this with certainty, she never laid down, she never quit, she fought for each and every game. Her intensity burned through the computer wires! There is a quality to her chess that I can almost understand (Melekhina's too), and that drew me into this event in a way I've never been before. One other player I'm going to watch with interest in the future is Battsetseg! My overall impression of her chess was AGGRESSIVE and EXPLOSIVE. I like a woman who doesn't mind mixing it up some! I tell you - I can hardly wait for next year - assuming there IS a Women's Championship next year. It was great to be able to focus JUST on the women in this all-play-all format, rather than them getting lost in the shuffle of a large Swiss, swatting at each other in the lower third of the order. KUDOS and KISSES to Chris Bird who did a fantastic job with the official website - easy to navigate and even better, timely news and results, and I loved the format where I could watch all of the games on the same screen just by scrolling up and down. And thanks to Dynako for her fantastic photographs. Of course, thanks to the generous sponsor of this year's Women's Championship, Frank K. Berry. I don't know if Mr. Berry reads blogs, but if he does and if he happens across this one, here's a great big super smooch for you, Mr. Berry. Here are the final standings: 1 Irina Krush 7 ($7,000) 2-3 Anna Zatonskih 6½ (either $5,000 or $4,000)* 2-3 Katerina Rohonyan 6½ (either $3,000 or $4,000)* 4 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 5½ ($2,500) 5 Tsagaan Battsetseg 5 ($2,000) 6-7 Alisa Melekhina 4 (either $1,500 or $1,250)* 6-7 Camilla Baginskaite 4 (either $1,500 or $1,250)* 7-8 Tatev Abrahamyan 3½ ($1,000) 9 Elizabeth Vicary 2½ ($1,000) 10 Chouchanik Airapetian ½ ($1,000) *I'm absolutely ignorant as to whether the prize money for tied position is pooled and split among the tied players, or some sort of ranking is used to determine who gets the larger prize)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Squirrel Archaeologists (I'm Not Making This Up!)

You just have to read this, it's sooo funny - and just like the Goddess' sense of humor...

Jul 13, 2007 6:30 am US/Pacific

Squirrels Unearth Ancient Artifact In Roseville
Dennis Shanahan Reporting


An amazing discovery has been unearthed in Placer County. Amazing because of its historical significance....and amazing because of how it was found. Archaeologists did not carefully unearth the 8,000 to 10,000 year old artifact, but it appears some curious squirrels dug it up.Now, folks at the Maidu Indian Interpretive Center are trying to preserve what the squirrels unearthed. The center allows people to learn how Native Americans lived thousands of years ago. And it was here that the squirrels made their find in what could be called an ancient compost pile.

"You can see where little tiny flakes have been knocked off to sharpen this or to give it a certain shape." explained Cultural Interpreter Rick Adams who stumbled upon the unearthed artifact along the Maidu Nature Trail.

It's a carefully carved tool or ceremonial object. Experts say it appears to be partially volcanic and may have originated in the Rancho Murietta area about 20 miles from where it was discovered."We only find what the squirrels are giving us right now. And that's Okay. We don't want to dig." said Park Specialist Chuck Kritzon.

While the officials running the Maidu Center know there are probably more artifacts in the park, it is illegal for humans to dig them up on the protected land.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


Because this area is reserved as a "sacred" space for the local Native Americans, archaeological research within it's confines is prohibited. That sucks. The artifact dug up by the archaeologist squirrel(s) is exempt from federal law which protects this site because squirrels aren't human (don't tell them that, though, we don't want to trigger any traumatic stress syndrome and have the Confederated Squirrels of America sue the United States Government...) - and therefore, the artifact they uncovered is available for study by local experts. That's how come we know, for instance, the object is between 8,000 and 10,000 years old.

Given the ongoing turmoil and controversy regarding the subject of when the Americas were settled and by whom and from where, an artifact that is possibly 10,000 years old seems rather significant to me, particularly given it's location. Roseville is to the northwest of Sacramento, California, so the inhabitors of the sacred NA site might have originally arrived either by foot from the north (the "across the Bering Strait" theory) or by water (the "ocean-going" theory).

We need more cross-disciplinary studies on this subject, but will we get them? And then there is the whole separate issue of "sacred ancestral remains, etc. etc." that prohibit excavation and study from taking place.

Well, I, for one, sure hope those squirrels keep on digging.

2007 U.S.Women's Chess Championship - Day 4

Hola darlings! I'm behind the times tonight - it's after 9 p.m. and I'm exhausted. Dondelion's new computer (purchased in December) crashed from some unknown cause and we had an emergency telephone call this evening that lasted much longer than it should have, seeing as how he'll be here in less than 2 days! And the pre-twilight was so lovely when I got home (after working OT the past few days that has thrown my schedule totally off kilter) that I said to hell with everything, I pulled out the sprinkler and gave the gardens some much needed watering while I imbibed more than one large glass of cheap vino... Sooo, I'm half-looped right now and giddy from talking to my One and Only, and I don't have a report on Round 7 from earlier today. So sue me, heh heh heh! I was shocked to the ends of my toes when I logged on to the official Championship website just a few minutes ago to check out the live (my time) Round 8 action and saw - Krush (w) v. Rohanyan (b) DRAW! Well, to beat an old metaphor to death and then some, guess Rohanyan is a more of a dark horse than anyone gave her credit for, heh heh heh! AND the teenage queen, dressed all in black, Melekhina (behind the white pieces tonight), defeated Elizabeth Vicary - damn! I mean, I've been rooting for both of these chess femmes, the least they could have done was a cheapo draw like Krush and Zatonskih did a few round ago:) Decisive results all over the place! Speaking of Zatonskih (w), she dispatched Baginskaite (b) tonight in 29 1/2 moves. Eek! The two ladies from Mongolia are still battling it out... AMEN! Airapetian (w) finally gets 1/2 point in a draw with Abrahamyan (b) in a 46 move game. So, what are the standings now? Do any of you out there really give a flying - well - no, I'm not going to say THAT word, LOL! LEAP! Here are the cumulative standings from the official website as the chess femmes completed Round 8 (minus the results of the game between the two ladies from Mongolia): 1-2 Irina Krush 6 1-2 Katerina Rohonyan 6 3 Anna Zatonskih 5½ 4-5 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 4 4-5 Tsagaan Battsetseg 4 6-8 Camilla Baginskaite 3½ 6-8 Alisa Melekhina 3½ 6-8 Tatev Abrahamyan 3½ 9 Elizabeth Vicary 2½ 10 Chouchanik Airapetian ½ So, it seems that Krush and Zatonskih, the favorites coming into the Championship, are in the top 3 - and dark horse Rohanyan is a surprising #2 at the present time - who knows where she'll be after the end of Round 9 tomorrow morning??? Perhaps in #1??? Only the Chess Goddess and Time will tell...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blast from the Past - Ash Rai, Chess and Six Degrees of Separation

This was a little piece I did in January at Isis' request, we had some fun with it. I was reminded of it today when I read a post done under my "white horse" entry a few weekends ago :)

Aishwarya Rai and Chess - Six Degrees of Separation
Please contribute to your favorite charity through Kevin Bacon's

January 27, 2007

What's that adage about coincidence - "there is no such thing"... A few weeks ago my Goddesschess cohort and fellow goddess, Isis and I were email-chatting about movies and I recommended "Bride and Prejudice" to her as an hilarious romp with great dance scenes and music, a fun, feel-good interpretation of the Jane Austen classic "Pride and Prejudice." (It sure made me get out of my chair and shake my booty).

Some days later Georgia rented the video and she and Michelle (daughter goddess) loved the movie. Georgia decided to buy it for me as a gift (thank you, Isis). The beautiful Indian actress (1994 Miss World), Aishwarya Rai, starred in the film as Lalita Bakshi, Elizabeth Bennet's alter-ego. (Photo of Rai from

Rai, a superstar in her native India, has appeared in over 40 films since her debut in a 1997 Bollywood film "Iruvar." She is perhaps best known to western audiences for her role in "Bride and Prejudice," which was her first English-language film. Release of the film in the United States led to immense publicity for Rai, including appearances on popular programs such as "60 Minutes", "David Letterman" and "Oprah Winfrey" and presented her to a whole new segment of audience - the English-only speaking world.

Rai has many critics - they criticize her acting skills; they criticize her film choices; they criticize her personal life. But now that Rai has broken the east/west barrier, she has no intention of quitting. Rai has signed on to star with Colin Firth (who portrayed Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Benet's protagonist and love interest in A&E's 1995 production of "Pride and Prejudice," the best Darcy ever and arguably the best production ever of "Pride and Prejudice") and Ben Kingsley in 2007's historical epic "The Last Legion," as well as French director Coline Serreau's remake of her 2001 film " Chaos," which will cast Rai alongside Meryl Streep. Rai has not abandoned the cinema of her heritage, however, and has signed on for 2007 Bollywood movies including the "The Heart of India" and the historical romance "Jodha-Akbar" -- in which she will play the title role of Mughal king Emperor Akbar's Hindu wife and queen.

Read the rest of the article here.

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Day 3

Well, the standings are the first thing in order - they are being updated constantly as games finish so these are the accrued standings after Round 5: 1 Katerina Rohonyan 4 2-3 Irina Krush 3½ 2-3 Tsagaan Battsetseg 3½ 4-5 Anna Zatonskih 3 4-5 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 3 6-7 Camilla Baginskaite 2½ 6-7 Alisa Melekhina 2½ 8-9 Tatev Abrahamyan 1½ 8-9 Elizabeth Vicary 1½ 10 Chouchanik Airapetian 0 Here are the results from Round 5: 1. Chouchanik Airapetian 0-1 Alisa Melekhina 2. Irina Krush 1-0 Tsagaan Battsetseg 3. Katerina Rohonyan 1-0 Anna Zatonskih 4. Tatev Abrahamyan 1-0 Elizabeth Vicary 5. Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 1-0 Camilla Baginskaite Decisive results!!! - all over the place!!! Not a draw in the bunch!!! I was fixated on 2 games today Elizabeth Vicary's was one; seemed to me she missed a couple of - well - what the heck do I know about her level of chess when all is said and done? I thought she had the game in the bag. Drat! She ended up losing! The other game I was constantly trying to watch (while trying to dig out from a barage of work) was the youngest player in the group, Melekhina. She got another victory today, this one behind the black pieces! Battsetseg's game (b) against Krush (w) was awesome to watch - she had me on the edge of my seat. She came out swinging and never stopped - perhaps she played a bit too aggressively? Krush stayed calm and played precisely and came away with a victory - amazing after all of Battsetseg's fireworks! Round 6 is underway. Melekhina is (w) tonight against Baginskaite (b); they share the same score (2.5) and the two beauties, (w) with the least experience and (b) with the most experience in the chessly world should make an interesting game. Will Melekhina be able to maintain her level-headed play? Updated 7:52 p.m.: Battsetseg and Rohonyan have agreed to a draw. Updated 9:31 p.m.: Vicary lost to Tuvshintugs. Updated 10:25 p.m.: Whoa horsey! I just checked in again and see that Abrahamyan (b) drew with Zatonskih (w)! Krush (b) defeated Airapetian (w). Melekhina (w) and Baginskaite (b) are still slugging it out - well actually, not slugging - more like doing a ballet.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Day 2 Update

A nice win for Melekhina over Tuvshintugs in Round 4! Vicary and Rohanyan draw; Battsetseg won against the luckless (and evidently outclassed) Airapetian, who has yet to score even 1/2 point. Baginskaite and Abrahamyan are still slogging it out in a slow game. More tomorrow. Updated on July 18, 2007: Here are the results from Round 4: 1. Alisa Melekhina 1-0 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 2. Camilla Baginskaite 1-0 Tatev Abrahamyan 3. Elizabeth Vicary ½-½ Katerina Rohonyan 4. Anna Zatonskih ½-½ Irina Krush 5. Tsagaan Battsetseg 1-0 Chouchanik Airapetian After her victory against Airapetian (still out of luck), Battsetseg was the leader going into Round 5 this morning!

The Ken Whyld Association (KWA)

The Ken Whyld Association (KWA) website contains a lot of interesting information in addition to news and announcements for the Association’s members. Membership fees are reasonable and support the great work the Association is doing – a monumental effort – nothing less than compiling a comprehensive index of all existing chess literature and chess-related publications in the world! From the website: The initiator of this idea was the Dutch collector Dr Jurgen Stigter, whose appeal led to the formation of the "Amsterdam Group" in November 2002. The official foundation of our Association which was named after the English chess historian Kenneth Whyld (* March 6th, 1926 † July 11th, 2003) took place in November 2003. We had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Stigter in Amsterdam at the IGK Symposium in 2001, and it was there we also met the late Ken Whyld, who became a good friend of Goddesschess until his death in July, 2003. Dr. Stigter, a personable gentleman, owns an extensive collection of chess literature. Ken Whyld’s extensive collection of chess literature and chess-related publications, etc. (his second collection; his first was liquidated upon a divorce years ago) was purchased from his family through a donation by a private party that was arranged through/to the Swiss Museum of Games (Musée Suisse du Jeu, Schweizerische Spielmuseum) at La Tourde-Peilz on Lake Geneva, where it will be accessible to scholars and historians from around the world. Tim Harding wrote an article that discussed the KWA, you can find it here at the Chess Café.

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Day 2

Rounds 3 and 4 are the action today and things haven't lightened up any from yesterday's games! I was again able to kibbitz a bit on Round 3 while at the office. In looking at the games today, it seems everyone came out with great fighting spirit, and that was reflected in the pace of the games and in what seemed to me a large amount of material still left on the boards of several pairs even after 2 1/2 hours had passed! Everyone had their thinking caps on, and a few players may have been caught up in time troubles. The player I'm rooting for, Elizabeth Vicary, lost in Round 3 behind the black pieces to Krush, here's hoping she can recoup and win in Round 4 - a late night victory like she pulled off last night in Round 2! Here are the results from Round 3: 1. Tsagaan Battsetseg 1-0 Alisa Melekhina 2. Chouchanik Airapetian 0-1 Anna Zatonskih 3. Irina Krush 1-0 Elizabeth Vicary 4. Katerina Rohonyan 1-0 Camilla Baginskaite 5. Tatev Abrahamyan 0-1 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs Round 4 is underway as I type this. Here are the current standings (includes the Round 4 draw between Zatonskih and Krush): 1 Anna Zatonskih 3 2-4 Katerina Rohonyan 2½ 2-4 Tsagaan Battsetseg 2½ 2-4 Irina Krush 2½ 5 Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 2 6 Camilla Baginskaite 1½ 7 Elizabeth Vicary 1 8-9 Tatev Abrahamyan ½ 8-9 Alisa Melekhina ½ 10 Chouchanik Airapetian 0

Monday, July 16, 2007

Chess Politics - the Same the World Over

As always, the ones who get hurt by chess politics is the players - in this instance, players who had been counting on going to the Asian under-8, 10, 12, 14 chess championships in Dubai starting August 21. This really sucks. IndiaTimes - Sports BANGALORE, July 14: The Indian chess players are paying a heavy price for the tussle between the All India Chess Federation and the ministry for youth affairs and sports. The players for the Asian under-8, 10, 12, 14 chess championships have been told to be prepared to fund themselves if the ministry does not sponsor the trip. This situation has arisen as the ministry decided to withhold grants to AICF. Until recently, the ministry funded players for the exposure trips. But now the AICF has asked the players to be prepared to source funds for the championship, which is to be held in Al Ain (UAE) from August 21. As a matter of fact, the government had not funded the team for the Asian Youth Chess Championship (Uzbekistan) in June. Most of the players fended for themselves while some were sponsored by AICF. DV Sunder, secretary-general, AICF said: "I had a meeting with the ministry on July 9. They have assured me that they will do the best. We have sent these letters as a precautionary measure. Because if the government does not fund, then the players will have to manage on their own." He said the AICF will not be able to contribute much. "AICF does not have enough money. We can fund one or two, but funding 25-30 players is impossible. Even if we fund, it should be a continuous process, we cannot stop with just one tournament." The ministry has refused to provide grants as the AICF has not submitted its accounts for the previous years. "The earlier administration under Ummer Koya has not submitted the records. The government had asked us to submit it within 2004. But we could not do it as we were not even given a single record," Sunder said. Girish Koushik, who won the World U-10 chess championship last year, has qualified for the tournament.

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Day 1

Round 1 is finished, Round 2 is underway: Results Round 1: 1. Anna Zatonskih 1-0 Alisa Melekhina 2. Tsagaan Battsetseg 1-0 Elizabeth Vicary 3. Chouchanik Airapetian 0-1 Camilla Baginskaite 4. Irina Krush ½-½ Batchimeg Tuvshintugs 5. Katerina Rohonyan 1-0 Abrahamyan I caught snatches of the game at the office but - for obvious reasons - I couldn't spend ALL afternoon glued to the computer screen trying to scry out what was going on. I'm a patzer wannabe and I make no bones that when it comes to chess I know very little - I can play the game, that's about it! So, based on my powers of limited observation and actually no knowledge whatsoever of opening theory, middle game or end game, I can say that it appeared to my eyes that Melekhina and Vicary fought long and hard, especially Vicary - she had the longest game behind the black pieces by far but in the end she succumbed to what appeared to me to be an amazing mating attack Battsetseg. Four decisive results and one draw - and I see already that in Round 2 that Krush has another draw, this time with Baginskaite - a short draw, after 16 1/2 moves. These two are some of the "veterans," with lots of experience from prior Championships. My guess is that they're conserving energy for the new rounds tomorrow, and they'll figure the younger players will bash each other's brains out for the first few days and then collapse from exhaustion and be easier pickings. We'll see if I'm right... Results from Round 2: 1. Alisa Melekhina ½-½ Tatev Abrahamyan 2. Batchimeg Tuvshintugs ½-½ Katerina Rohonyan 3. Camilla Baginskaite ½-½ Irina Krush 4. Elizabeth Vicary 1-0 Chouchanik Airapetian 5. Anna Zatonskih ½-½ Tsagaan Battsetseg Update added July 17th: Check out Jen Shahade's commentary and coverage at Chesslife Online, including several photographs of the chess femmes.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Interview with David Shenk on "The Immortal Game"

Howard Goldowsky has written a book "Engaging Pieces" and one of his interviews, with author David Shenk, who wrote best selling "The Immortal Game", is excerpted at the Skittles Room at Chess Cafe. I've had "The Immortal Game" since November but have only recently begun reading it. It's a book I highly recommend - it's well written and engaging, and Shenk has managed to achieve just the right balance between scholarship, history and storytelling. Here's part of the excerpted interview (I don't know how long the Skittles Room link will be valid): Excerpt: Engaging Pieces Interviews and Prose for the Chess Fan by Howard Goldowsky HG: How did you convince your editors that a book about chess would sell, and who is your target readership? DS: This book is not solely for chess players. I dearly hope that all chess players will appreciate it, and I’m gratified by a number of recent comments from serious players that it holds their interest, but it’s also for anyone who loves to read about history and ideas. The history of chess is a spectacular lens on the history of civilization over the last 1,500 years. In the book, I tried to balance an appreciation for the game itself with an appreciation for how the game has influenced ideas over many centuries. In many ways, it’s impossible to understand the evolution of modern thought without chess as a crucial tool. For the insider, my ambition was nothing less than to write a formidable companion to Murray. Obviously, my book doesn’t have anything close to the level of detail or scholarship that Murray’s does. But I hoped that by fleshing out chess’s cultural and intellectual significance, and by conveying the power of the game, we’d have something that would sit nicely alongside his definitive history. For the more casual audience, who knows and cares nothing of Murray, the book has to stand on its own, which I hope it does. HG: Chess certainly has transcended many time periods and cultures. What, in your opinion, makes the game so addictive? DS: Chess’s cultural and historical transcendence is the single curiosity that drove this book. How could one game resonate with 7th century Persians, 8th century Muslims, 11th century Spaniards, and on and on up to 21st century school kids all over the world? The answer, I think, comes in two parts. First, the game itself has a magical combination of accessibility and near-infinite complexity. A five-year-old could learn to play, and yet the game could also occupy the full-time attention of an adult for many decades. Chess obviously touches on spatial and abstract qualities that tickle the brain; it’s fun to play regardless of one’s level of education, background or other interests. Secondly, there is a strong social resonance that seems to take place everywhere the game has traveled. People feel connected to it, because each army represents a social hierarchy. People reading the book will be blown away, as I was, by how popular chess has been as a social and political metaphor throughout the centuries. Chess actually helps us understand ourselves in all sorts of ways, and that has helped insure the game’s survival as other games have come and gone. More about "The Immortal Game." More about "Engaging Pieces."

5th Holly Heisman Memorial Chess Tournament

Direct from friend site Chessville (lots of friends there, and a few friendly enemies :)): 5th Holly Heisman Memorial Tournament (Tournament Information) Susan Hollis “Holly” Bloom Heisman “Susan Hollis “Holly” Bloom Heisman (1953-1994) was Dan Heisman's first wife, who passed away from breast cancer. Holly worked as a social worker, helping women in need such as runaway teenagers and battered wives. After her passing, Dan’s sister Eileen Heisman, who is a professional gift trust fundraiser, suggested to Dan and his mother that they all pitch in and make contributions to start a charitable trust in Holly’s name at the Philadelphia Foundation ( to, appropriately, support women in need, specifically those with breast cancer, battered wives, and runaway teens. This was done in 1995 and Eileen was appointed as the primary point of contact with the Foundation. However, by 2001 Eileen had bigger charitable interests to run (like the National Philanthropic Trust, of which she is President), and Dan took over as the point of contact for the Fund with the host Philadelphia Foundation. The Foundation had raised a Fund’s minimum endowed limit to $10,000 in order to generate grants. Dan looked for ways to make the Fund more active. Soon after, he had a brainstorm to create the first charitable chess tournament: he donates his time as organizer and TD, the Kaiserman Jewish Community Center in Wynnewood, PA (just outside Philadelphia) donates a playing room, and the players would play USCF-rated chess for free. In order to attract more players, Dan asked some of his contacts to donate prizes. In turn, the players are asked to voluntarily make contributions to the Holly Heisman Fund. The first event was held in the summer of 2003. Over the years the Holly Heisman Fund has raised over $14,000 towards these charitable ends for the Philadelphia Foundation, thus achieving Dan’s initial goal of “activating” the Fund. About half those funds have been raised via the Holly Heisman Memorial tournament. Among the annual prize donors are Chessville, Plunder Chess, Bookup, House of Staunton, the Internet Chess Club, John Bain, and IM Igor Khmelnitsky. This year is the fifth annual event, and it features two major new sponsors: USCF Executive Director Bill Hall donated a free Tournament Life Announcement (TLA) and radio personality Howard Stern has donated a prize of a tour of his radio studio/show (limited to adults only!) In 2005 Dan decided to create a second charitable Fund at the Philadelphia Foundation, the Dan Heisman Chess Support Fund, which supports scholastic events in the Philadelphia area through the Philadelphia Foundation and the PA State Chess Federation. The 2007 Holly Heisman Memorial tournament will be held Aug 12. It is a five-round swiss, G/30, with three sections: Open, Under 1500, and Scholastic Under 900. More on the event: To make mail or online donations: the Chess Support Fund). Thanks! - Dan Heisman If you can do so, darlings, please contribute to this worthy cause. Thank you. Jan (a/k/a JanXena a/k/a Alpheta and my real name is (as if you haven't already figured that out by now)...Janet Newton - ta da!)

The Eight - Cinq (Philidor's Tale Continued)

Philidor’s Tale continued (Page 171) Euler and I complimented the aging composer upon the cleverness of his work. I was then requested to play three games of blindfold chess simultaneously against the king, Dr. Euler, and the kapellmeister’s son Wilhelm. Though the older man did not play chess himself, he enjoyed watching the game. At the conclusion of the performance, where I won all three games, Euler took me aside. "I’d prepared a gift for you," he told me. "I’ve invented a new Knight’s Tour, a mathematical puzzle. I believe it to be the finest formula yet discovered for the tour of a Knight across a chessboard. But I should like to give this copy to the old composer tonight, if you don’t mind. As he likes mathematical games, it will amuse him." Bach received the gift with a strange smile and thanked us genuinely. "I suggest you meet me at my son’s cottage tomorrow morning before Herr Philidor departs," he said. "I may then have time to prepare a little surprise for both of you." Our curiosity was piqued, and we agreed to arrive at the appointed time and place. The next morning Bach opened the door of Carl Philipp’s cottage and squired us inside. He seated us in the small parlor and offered us tea. Then he took a seat at the small clavier and began to play a most unusual melody. When he’d finished both Euler and I were completely confused. "That is the surprise!" said Bach with a cackle of glee that dispelled the habitual gloom from his face. He saw that Euler and I were both totally at sea. "But have a look at the sheet music," Bach said. We both stood and moved to the clavier. There on the music stand was nothing other than the Knight’s Tour that Euler had prepared and given him the prior evening. It was the map of a large chessboard with a number written in each square. Bach had cleverly connected the numbers with a web of fine lines that meant something to him, though nothing to me. But Euler was a mathematician, and his mind moved faster than mine. "You’ve turned these numbers into octaves and chords!" he cried. "But you must show me how you’ve done it. To turn mathematics into music – it is sheer magic!" "But mathematics are music," Bach relied. "And the reverse is also true. Whether you believe the word ‘music’ came from ‘Musa,’ the Muses, or from ‘muta,’ meaning mouth of the Oracle, it makes no difference. If you think ‘mathematics’ came from ‘mathanein,’ which is learning, or from ‘Matrix,’ the womb or mother of all creation, it matters not…" "You’ve done a study of words?" said Euler. "Words have the power to create and kill," Bach said simply. "That Great Architect who made us all, made words, too. In fact, He made them first, if we may believe St. John in the New Testament." "What did you say? The Great Architect?" said Euler, growing a little pale. "I call God the Great Architect, because the first thing He designed was sound," Bach relied. "’In the Beginning was the Word,’ you remember? Who knows? Perhaps it was not only a word. Perhaps it was music. Maybe God sang an endless canon of His own invention, and through it, the universe was wrought." Euler had grown paler yet. Though the mathematician had lost the sight of one eye by studying the sun through a glass, he peered with the other eye at the Knight’s Tour that sat upon the clavier stand. Running his fingers over the endless diagram of tiny numbers inked across the chessboard, he seemed lost in thought for several moments. Then he spoke. "Where have you learned these things?" he asked the sage composer. "What you describe is a dark and dangerous secret, known only to the initiated."

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - 3

How quickly the time has passed! The Championship starts tomorrow in Stillwater - two games tomorrow, eek! Good luck to all of the players. Unfortunately, since most of the play will be taking place while I'm at work, I won't be able to watch. Sigh. There's been a conversation going on at Mig's Daily Dirt since July 4th when he posted about the U.S. Women's Championship and was kind enough to give us some publicity about our Brilliancy Prize for the Women's Championship and a plug for Goddesschess and this blog. You can find the conversation here. Someone (I think it is only one person although there have been several postings of similiar ilk under different "names" - none that reveals anything about the poster's true identity, of course) has taken serious offense at women chessplayers. The gist of his complaint seems to be that he, as a 2400 level player, cannot make a decent living at chess because women chessplayers with lower ratings are raking in cash from their women's events and special prizes only available to them, thereby sucking cash away from him/his level of male players. Hey - I'm not making this stuff up! The level of venom and spitefulness/hatefulness this poster demonstrates toward women is instructive - and revealing. He's not brave enough, though, to reveal his true identity - typical all bluster and no guts when it comes right down to it. On the plus side, many insightful and thought-provoking posts have been made by the regulars who hang out at Mig's Daily Dirt, most of them male. And - to tie this ongoing conversation into the current event - Elizabeth Vicary, who will be playing in the Championship at Stillwater, made some posts too. Ms. Vicary is the lowest rated player in the Championship but let me tell you, if she plays chess as well as she writes, she'll come out of Stillwater with the winner's trophy :) After reading her recent interview with Jennifer Shahade at Chess Life Online and reading her posts at Mig's, I've become a big fan and I'm rooting for her all the way.
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