Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Superstar Xie Jun Playing in Major Tournament!

From Vietnam News: Chinese chess and Go regional tournament to open in Ha Noi (07-05-2008) HA NOI — Chinese chess and Go players from Viet Nam will be up against some of the best in Asia this weekend when Ha Noi hosts a major regional tournament for the first time The Chinese chess (Xiangqi) and Go Ha Noi Open has been organised by the Ha Noi Sports Department, and is being jointly sponsored by China’s Guangxi Hualan and the C-Hope groups. Some 64 players from China, South Korea, Japan and Viet Nam will be competing in the event, which starts on Saturday at Quan Ngua Sports Palace. At a press conference in Ha Noi yesterday, organisers proudly boasted that Chinese chess stars such as Li Dong Jun and Xie Yun (from China) and Go champs Guangxi Yu Xue Jun (China), Miyata Takeshi (Japan) and Park Kyun-chul and Kwon Kwe-hyun from South Korea would be participating in the tournament. "We are honoured to be able to sponsor the tournament, which is being held for the first time in Viet Nam," said John Chin, assistant director of the Guangxi Hualan Group. Danny Kung, executive president of the C-Hope Group, said he hoped the tournament would boost economic co-operation and friendship between China and Viet Nam. In recent years, Viet Nam has become one of the leading Chinese chess nations in the region. "[Chinese] chess has been played in Viet Nam for a long time, but this is the first time Ha Noi has hosted such a big tournament, which has attracted top players from chess giants in Asia," said Nguyen Manh Hung, vice director of the Ha Noi Sports Department. "The event marks a new era [for the game in Viet Nam]." Among Viet Nam’s leading representatives at the competition will be Treng A Sang, Nguyen Thanh Bao, Tran Van Ninh and Nguyen Vu Quan. At the 10th World Chinese Chess Championship in Macau last year Viet Nam’s Nguyen Thanh Bao won a bronze medal. Also last year in Macau, Nguyen Vu Quan won a silver medal at the Asian Indoor Games. At the Asian Chinese Chess Team Championships in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau last year in which Viet Nam finished fourth, Quan caused an upset by beating world champion Lu Qin. The tournament ends on Monday. — VNS ********************************************************************************** GM Xie Jun was the Women's World Chess Champion from 1991-1996 and 1999-2001 -- that is, "international (or western)" chess, not "xiang qi" or Chinese chess. All I could find about Xie Jun and xiang qi was this information from Wikipedia: At the age of six Xie began to play Chinese chess, and by the age of 10 she had become the girls' Xiangqi champion of Beijing. I cannot be sure, of course, but it sounds as if Xie Jun has taken up xiang qi again, but there is no information available via a regular Google search. A search on Chinese Google wouldn't be helpful, though, since I don't read Chinese. It's great to see a great chess champion's name in print again!

Linear A - An Undeciphered Language

This is one of the exhibits from the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 B.C., which will be on view at The Onassis Cultural Center (645 Fifth Avenue) through September 13, 2008, Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. The catalog accompanying the exhibition is exceptional and well worth obtaining.

Identification: Clay tablet inscribed with six lines of Linear A writing, Zakros, end of Late Minoan IB (ca. 1450 B.C.)(Courtesy Onassis Public Benefit Foundation)

Jiroft Back in the News

Jiroft at Goddesschess. From the Tehran Times: Date : Wednesday, May 7, 2008 Jiroft is the ancient city of Marhashi: U.S. scholar Tehran Times Culture Desk TEHRAN -- Piotr Steinkeller, professor of Assyriology in Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University, believes that the prehistoric site of Jiroft is the lost ancient city of Marhashi. He developed the theory in his paper during the first round of the International Conference on Jiroft Civilization, which was held in Tehran on May 5 and 6. Marhashi, (in earlier sources Warahshe) was a 3rd millennium BC polity situated east of Elam, on the Iranian plateau. It is known from Mesopotamian sources, and its precise location has not been identified. An inscription of Lugal-Anne-Mundu, the most important king of the Adab city-state in Sumer, locates it, along with Elam, to the south of Gutium, an ancient polity in upper Mesopotamia. The inscription also explains that Lugal-Anne-Mundu confronted the Warahshe king, Migir-Enlil. Jiroft is the lost ancient city of Marhashi, which had been located between Anshan and Meluhha, Steinkeller said. Anshan was one of the early capitals of Elam, from the 3rd millennium BC, which is located 36 kilometers northwest of modern Shiraz in Fars Province, southwestern Iran. The Indus Valley Civilization has been tentatively identified with the toponym Meluhha known from Sumerian records. According to Steinkeller, Marhashi was a political and economic power in eastern Iran, which had been in a close contact with Babylonia. This relationship had been developed over two periods, which has influenced the political history of the region for at least a half century. Steinkeller had previously been searching the Kerman region in order to identify a site from the 3rd millennium BC, which he could consider it as Marhashi. He had found Tepe Yahya and Tall-e Eblis, but he believes that Tepe Yahya is too small to be considered as Marhashi and Tall-e Eblis has been has almost entirely been destroyed over the years. Thus, he said that Jiroft is the heart of the ancient city of Marhashi and hoped that upcoming excavations and studies would help archaeologists discover other parts of the city. According to the conference scientific secretary Professor Yusef Majidzadeh, over 700 ancient sites such as tepes and graves have been discovered in Jiroft over the past six seasons of excavation by a team of archaeologists led by Majidzadeh. Located next to the Halil-Rud River in southern Iran’s Kerman Province, Jiroft came into the spotlight in 2002 when reports surfaced of extensive illegal excavations being carried out by local people who went on to plunder priceless historical items. Majidzadeh team unearthed a great number of artifacts at Jiroft as well as three tablets in one of the present-day villager’s homes and a brick inscription near Jiroft’s Konar-Sandal region wherein they also discovered ruins of a large fortress, which previously was believed to be a ziggurat. The structure is surmised have been made of more than four million mud bricks. The pottery works and the shards discovered in the Konar-Sandal fortress date back to an interval between the fourth millennium BC and early years of the Islamic period, Majidzadeh said during the conference. Once, Majidzadeh had said that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta, which was described in a Sumerian clay inscription as an impressive center of civilization. In December 2007, he suggested that archaeologists use the term Proto-Iranian instead of Proto-Elamite for the script found at Jiroft. He believes that the world should revise its knowledge of the Eastern civilizations due to the inscriptions discovered at Jiroft. Majidzadeh describes the inscriptions as unique and also elaborates that the tablets and the brick inscription bearing a script which has been invented along with the Mesopotamia script at the same time. A great number of Iranian and foreign archaeologists and scholars will discuss latest studies on the Jiroft civilization during the conference, which will be continued in Jiroft from May 8 to 9.

Illegal Antiquities Traders Busted

Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 17:24 UK

Spain seizes 'priceless' antiques
By Steve Kingstone BBC News, Madrid

Spanish police have arrested a couple accused of illegally trafficking a "priceless" haul of artefacts from Latin America for resale in Europe.

The artefacts, which predate the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, were allegedly destined for France.

An Interpol investigation in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador led to the arrest of the Spanish man and Colombian woman.

Police searched their Spanish home and luggage to find 700 pieces allegedly looted from archaeological sites.

Items seized from the married couple included masks, pendants, paintings and ceramics.

Dozens of the smuggled items were made of gold, and all are at least 500 years old - offering a valuable insight into life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

Colombian middlemen?
It is alleged that the historic treasures were plundered from archaeological sites - mostly in Peru and Ecuador - and then sold on to the couple through middlemen in Colombia.

The couple had just returned from a trip to the Colombian capital, Bogota.

Interpol played a co-ordinating role in the investigation.

The Spanish police seized documents and a computer which allegedly detailed a trade in cultural contraband stretching back years.

Smuggled goods are said to have been sold on in various European countries - principally France, where the couple had planned an auction later this month.

The confiscated artefacts are due to be analysed at a museum in Madrid, and will later be returned to their countries of origin. The artefacts, which predate the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, were allegedly destined for France.

An Interpol investigation in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador led to the arrest of the Spanish man and Colombian woman.

Police searched their Spanish home and luggage to find 700 pieces allegedly looted from archaeological sites.

Items seized from the married couple included masks, pendants, paintings and ceramics.

Dozens of the smuggled items were made of gold, and all are at least 500 years old - offering a valuable insight into life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus.

Caveman Bling!

From the Brisbane Times: Archaeologists uncover caveman bling May 7, 2008 - 6:28AM RABAT - Archaeologists have uncovered shells used for finery by prehistoric man 85,000 years ago in a cave in eastern Morocco, the country's heritage institute said today. A research team led by archaeology and heritage institute (INSAP) member Abdeljalil Bouzouggar and Nick Barton from Oxford University found the 20 perforated shells in a cave near Taforalt between March and April this year. The Nassarius gibbosulus shells are the type prehistoric man would have worn, according to a statement from the Moroccan Ministry for Culture. In 2007, Bouzouggar and Barton discovered 14 perforated shells in the same cave. "This discovery shows that the making and use of objects of finery is very anchored in the traditions of Morocco's prehistoric people," said Bouzouggar, in whose opinion the country is the original centre of artistic and symbolic creation. Objects of finery discovered in Morocco are "now considered to be even more ancient than those discovered in Algeria, South Africa and in Palestine", said the culture ministry. Known as the "cave of pigeons", the 30-metre deep and 10-metre high cave is situated 50km from Morocco's Mediterranean coast. AFP ********************************************************************************************* What was not explained - was the cave inhabited by so-called "modern" man, or by so-called "Neanderthal" man? Inquiring minds want to know!

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

Here are the female qualifiers for the next World Cup: № Rank SNo. Name IRtg FED Ptt 1 1 5 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 8.5 2 2 10 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 8 3 3 8 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 8 4 4 14 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 8 5 5 24 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 8 6 6 17 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 8 7 7 20 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 8 8 8 1 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 7.5 9 9 9 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 7.5 10 10 4 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 7.5 11 11 2 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 7.5 12 12 16 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 7.5 13 13 6 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 7.5 14 14 30 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2400 GEO 7.5

Olympic Athletes Warned - No Politics

A disturbing story from the Wall Street Journal this morning: Olympic Committee Tells Athletes To Avoid Political Statements By MEI FONGMay 7, 2008; Page A15 BEIJING -- To Olympic athletes contemplating wearing messages of support for Tibet, Darfur or even the notion of a better world, the International Olympic Committee is saying, "Don't." Last week, the IOC sent a letter to all national Olympic organizing committees saying athletes should stay away from clothes, gestures or moves that demonstrate "political, religious or racial propaganda" at venues for the Beijing Games. This includes "all actions, reactions, attitudes" by people, including "external appearance, clothing, gestures and written or oral statements." The letter appears to represent the IOC's most explicit statements to date clarifying an existing prohibition on the use of the Olympic Games as a political venue, and it is a bid to prevent protests from swamping what already has become one of the most contentious Games in recent history. Recent demonstrations over China's human-rights record in Paris, London and San Francisco during the Olympic torch relay have in turn fanned a wave of patriotism and anti-Western sentiment in China. IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the letter, earlier reported by the Associated Press, makes it clear the IOC won't allow requests by, for instance, French athletes to wear a badge marked "For a better world," an attempt by the French contingent to express its disquiet in a way that wouldn't offend its Chinese hosts. "We're not saying athletes can't express their views, but not at Games venues. The Olympics are about celebrating sporting achievements," she said. Athletes would be free to express their opinions outside Olympic venues, including in blogs, but must abide by local laws, she said. Under Chinese law, protesters must apply for permits, a practice that frequently isn't followed. Chinese officials have said that visitors to the Olympics must observe Chinese law. [What does this mean? Will you be arrested if you say that China sucks?] Activist groups that have called on athletes to express their views through clothing include Team Darfur, a Washington-based coalition of athletes, and a Danish group called the Color Orange, which is encouraging Olympic participants to wear orange to protest human-rights violations in China. "How can they ban a color? They look like fools," said Color Orange's founder, Jens Galschiot. He was denied entry into Hong Kong last week, when the Olympic torch relay was being held there. The Olympic prohibitions also might be challenged by patriotic Chinese wearing gear with a message professing love for China. Sales of such items have soared in recent weeks, as Chinese reacted with fury to outside criticism and perceived bias by Western media companies -- some of whom are underwriting the Games' running costs. Past Olympians punished for making political gestures include American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who protested racial inequality by raising black-gloved fists during the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. Both were suspended from the U.S. team. Another was Korean marathoner Sohn Kee-Chung, who in 1936 became the first Korean to win an Olympic medal. An ardent patriot, Mr. Sohn publicly lamented competing under Japan's flag -- Korea was at the time a de facto Japanese colony -- and openly wept when it was hoisted during his medal presentation at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin. Japanese authorities then banned him from competing in other running events, according to historian David Clay Large in the book "Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936." Separately, China acknowledged for the first time that it is tightening its visa policy ahead of the Olympic Games. Foreign-ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular media briefing Tuesday that "we are more strict and more serious" in approving visas. For weeks, travel agents and foreign businesspeople have complained of extra difficulties in obtaining business or tourism visas to China. Mr. Qin said the tighter measures were to be maintained indefinitely, to create "a safe environment" and ensure "all the foreign friends who come to China can feel safer and happier."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Goddess Aurora

Aurora’s tale a sad one of love May 05, 2008 05:07 PM Faces and Places By: Sean Pearce, Staff Writer Ever been to Machell’s Corners? Chances are if you are reading this, you’re sitting there right now. That’s because from 1804 until January 1, 1854, Aurora was called Machell’s Corners. With the arrival of the railway and what was perceived as the dawning of a new era, postmaster Charles Doan decided to re-christen the town, Aurora, the Latin name for the Greek goddess of the dawn. But who was Aurora? In mythology, Aurora was, as was previously mentioned, the goddess of the dawn. Each morning, she renewed herself and flew across the sky heralding the arrival of the sun.According to ancient lore, Aurora, or Eos as she was known in Greek mythology, was the daughter of the titan, Hyperion. In addition to her father, she also had a brother named Sol/Helios, the sun and a sister named Luna/Selene, the moon. Despite her role as the herald of the sunrise and her frequent references in Homeric poetry as the “rosy-fingered”, her love life was anything but rosy. One myth, adapted by a Roman poet from a story about the goddess, tells Aurora once fell madly in love with a prince of Troy named Tithonus. The tragedy being that Tithonus was doomed, as all mortals are, to age and die. Hoping she could cheat fate and be with Tithonus forever, Aurora went to Olympus and asked Zeus, the king of the gods, to grant her love immortality. Zeus consented, but, seeing as Aurora neglected to ask for Tithonus to remain eternally young, he was condemned to age forever. Realizing her error, Aurora, for some reason, turned Tithonus into a grasshopper. Still, Aurora couldn’t have been too heartbroken as she had many relationships before and after Tithonus and bore many children as a result. While a relatively minor figure in mythology, Aurora was immortalized by numerous artists. The Greek bard, Homer, made reference to her in the Iliad and the Odyssey and Aurora was also mentioned frequently by Shakespeare in his poems and plays. Incidentally, the tale of doomed love between Aurora and Tithonus was also adapted as a poem by the British poet laureate, Lord Alfred Tennyson. Apart from that, Aurora was also a well represented figure in other artistic mediums and, thus, her name has survived from antiquity until present day. Of course, around these parts, her legacy is most recognizably her role as the namesake of the community that still bears the name; Aurora.

For Adults Only

From - brace yourself - The Biblical Archaeology Review: Did Captured Ark Afflict Philistines with E.D.? BAR 34:03, May/June 2008 By Aren M. Maeir I’ve always been troubled by the Philistine hemorrhoids. The Hebrew word is ‘opalim (Mylpe). That was supposedly their affliction when they captured the Ark of the Covenant and placed it before a statue of their god Dagon. The story is told about the Ark (sometimes called the Ark of God) when it was resting at Shiloh, cared for by Eli the priest, before it was ultimately brought to Jerusalem by King David. The Israelites had engaged their enemies the Philistines in battle at Ebenezer.a The battle went badly for the Israelites, and Eli’s sons allowed the Ark to be brought from Shiloh to the battlefield at Ebenezer as a paladin in the hope that this would turn the tide of battle. Instead, the Philistines captured the Ark (1Samuel 5–6). The Philistines took the Ark to Ashdod and placed it before a statue of Dagon in the Philistine temple. The next day, the Philistines found Dagon toppled, lying on the ground. They set him back up, but the same thing happened the next day. The text goes on to tell us that “the hand of the Lord was heavy on the Ashdodites.” The Lord afflicted them with “hemorrhoids” (‘opalim). The Philistines then took the Ark to Gath, another city of the Philistine pentapolis. This time the men of Gath were afflicted with “hemorrhoids.” Finally, the Philistines decided to send the Ark back to the Israelites. To mollify the Israelite God, the Philistines included five golden “hemorrhoids” (one for each city of the Philistine pentapolis) and five golden mice. (The text tells us that “hemorrhoids” and mice had been ravaging the land of the Philistines.) Rest of article (including footnoted articles).

Treasures from Afghanistan

Here is one of the artifacts from the exhibit:

Ring with an image of Athena, Tillya Tepe, Tomb II, Second quarter of the 1st century AD.Gold.National Museum of AfghanistanPhoto © Thierry Ollivier/Musée Guimet

Notice the serpent fringe that falls around Athena's knees.

A Different Take on the Origins of the Celts

From Our Celtic roots lie in Spain and Portugal May 5 2008 by Darren Devine, Western Mail THE Welsh have more in common with sun-kissed glamour pusses like actress Penelope Cruz and footballer Christiano Ronaldo than pale- faced Germans like Helmet Kohl, according to an academic. Professor John Koch suggests the Welsh can trace their ancestry back to Portugal and Spain, debunking the century-old received wisdom that our forebears came from Iron Age Germany and Austria. His radical work on Celtic origins flatly contradicts the writing of Sir John Rhys, who in the late 19th century established the idea that we originally came from central Europe. Sir John believed the Celts were the remnants of a great culture that extended here from modern-day eastern France, Switzerland, southern Germany and Austria. But Professor Koch, of the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies, in Aberystwyth, says archaeological inscriptions on stones show we came from southern Portugal and south-west Spain. He said: “Celts are said to come from west central Europe – Austria, southern Germany, eastern France and that part of the world. “That’s been the theory that everybody has grown up with for at least 100 years. “There is evidence that the Celtic languages were spoken there because of place names and people’s names. “But the assumption was that was where they came from. I think they got there later. “There is evidence in Spain and Portugal indicating they were there 500 or more years before.” Professor Koch says there are Celtic texts in Portugal and Spain way before they started springing up in central Europe during Roman times. One key piece of evidence is the earliest written language of western Europe – Tartessian, found on inscribed stones in Portugal and Spain dating back to between 800BC and 400BC. The professor maintains this language can be deciphered as Celtic. Expert on Welsh history and archaeology Dr Raimund Karl, says there is also biological and genetic evidence to support professor Koch’s theory. He said: “In the last couple of years there have been a number of genetic studies of human DNA indicating that the population of much of the western part of the British Isles is related to other communities along the Atlantic seafront. These include Brittany, northern Spain, Portugal and the French Atlantic coast. That’s their genetic origin.” But Dr Karl, of the University of Wales, Bangor, said there is also archaeological evidence suggesting a cultural link with central Europe. “There is evidence suggesting a link with central Europe from elite-material culture – stuff associated with the upper parts of society. This includes weaponry, feasting equipment, artwork on jewellery and other prestigious items.” However the academic said attempts to identify a biological Celt or notions of cultures emanating from a particular spot are meaningless. He believes human cultures and populations are constantly in a state of flux, drawing their influences from far and wide. Dr Karl, himself an Austrian, added: “I personally think the question of where Celtic culture originated is by and large meaningless. Culture is constantly changing and never has a single point of origin. “The biological Celt is meaningless because human populations inter-mingle.”

Monday, May 5, 2008


It's been a rough night. I worked like a maniac after I got home from the office to finish up my May, 2008 Chessville column which had been - ever so politely - called for, starting last Friday night. I started the thing three weeks ago but, per usual, at the end of the month crunch with all the news crashing down upon me and trying to decide which stories were most newsworthy for Chessville (well, damn it all, they all are, but then I may as well just copy and paste everything from Chess Femme News and this blog into a monthly article and be done with it - NOT! It would take up a large part of their website every month but, come to think of it, maybe that would be a good idea...) I worked on it Saturday AND Sunday, hours and hours. I didn't even realize that the IDJUTS at Chessville had been writing to me until this morning because they were using an alterate email address (not my primary - although they all bloody well know it). The reason I didn't realize it until this morning is because I DO NOT CHECK THAT EMAIL ADDRESS ON THE WEEKENDS. Well, that's the Chessville men for you. No wonder their website design is stuck somewhere back in the 1907's... Anyway, I absolutely hate this month's column - not because it's lousy but because it is so incomplete and disconnected. So, I emailed Mr. Webmaster (because my former Editor and I no longer SPEAK to each other) and said, okay it's ready. But you see, it's really not, but it's as ready as it is going to be because it's already far too long and has too many photographs of beautiful chess femmes (they're all beautiful in my eyes), and fascinating stories - arggghhh. I wanted to pick up on this month's theme of "fashion" but I ran out of space and time. The running gag (at least, it is supposed to be) is that Xena (who is a sort of action figure avatar for yours truly) does her thing every month and she allows me to snap some photos of her, which I use in the Chessville column, and every now and then "I" appear, as in March's column, where I showed up with my uber-expensive Coach bag and so women's handbags were a theme throughout the column. This month, Xena let me photograph her in a ratty looking pink towel - well - the fashion angles were obvious but I didn't have time to fully develop them and interweave them into the chess stories of the month. Not only that, I left out several interesting match and tournament results. Writing a column is @%^&3!)+. What I want to know is - where is that column that was only supposed to take an hour or two a month? That's what I was promised when I agreed to this undertaking. Ha! Double Ha! Triple Ha! In addition to compiling the chess femme news on a regular basis (which I do for Chess Femme News and when I'm not posting it there I'm posting it here at the blog, and that's all done out of sheer love for the game of chess, the female players I admire so much and just out of plain stubborness) I'm spending between about 18-24 hours each month putting Xena's Chessville column together. Talk about LABOR! Argggh, well, that's my vent for the night. As it's now past 11:30 p.m. and I'm absolutely exhausted, this is all the more I'm going to post tonight.

Nigerian Chess Scandal - Will It Finally Be Resolved?

This is absolutely outrageous - a gold medal winner deprived of his medal for 10 years! Give the man his medal. GIVE THE MAN HIS MEDAL! HE EARNED IT. Story from Nigeria: Soyinka Wades Into Medal Saga 5 May 2008Posted to the web 5 May 2008 Femi SolajaLagos Almost 10 years after International Master Odion Aikhoje had been denied the honour of being in possession of the gold medal he won at the World Chess Olympiad held in Elista, Russia in 1998, there seems to be a ray of hope for the former national champion to reap the sweat of his efforts following the intervention of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. Aikhoje, one of the most colourful and entertaining Nigerian chess players whom a prominent international chess commentator once referred to as 'Young Casisus Clay of chess', took the world chess scene by storm at the Elista'98 Olympiad when he won a gold medal on board two to thus became the third African player to achieve the feat at that level. But as fate would have it, the Nigerian star could not wait for the medal presentation at the closing ceremony of the event because he had to meet up with a connecting flight back to Lagos with other members of the team. His medal was, however, sent to him by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to its Nigerian affiliate for onward presentation to the chess prodigy. However, the then President of the Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF) Arch Theophilus Caifias, allegedly decided to hold on to the medal claiming that the Sports Ministry had failed to refund the expenses incurred in attending the event. Four years ago Mr. Wole Elegbede, the International Coordinator of Chess, who reside in USA resurrected the issue at the last World Chess Olympiad in 2006 in Turin, Italy to the amazement of FIDE officials and only recently, the player in question, Aikhoje wrote a formal protest letter to the NSC boss, Abdulrahman Gimba. However, the good news is that Professor Soyinka, according to Mr. Elegbede has stepped into the lingering matter. "Professor Soyinka has waded into the matter he said 'Odion won his gold medal and should have it'", Elegbede explained. He also said that the professor has gotten across to both the NSC boss and Arch. Caifias and in the next few weeks or so the young man (Aikhoje) will have cause to smile because it better later than never," Elegbede confirmed in a telephone interview last week. He also revealed that the Nobel Laureate winner had been a lover of the brain game in his younger days and plans are underway to stage a major tournament in his honour probably early next year. "In his younger days, Wole Soyinka used to play chess and was part of chess enthusiasts that followed keenly the Late Bobby Fischer of USA and Boris Spassky of the then USSR's world title chess match. "Incidentally in September last year, at an international festival in Mantua, Italy at the Festivalettatura, Spassky, who was playing chess with a number of people, at a time wanted Soyinka to sit to have a game with him but the Laureate winner declined jokingly saying 'he would not want to be Spassky's sacrificial lamb!'".

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fraud by Chess Players in India

Oh my - I do not know what to make of this story. It does seem suspicious to me that so many girls would be cheating as to age, but no boys? Just what, exactly, is being examined during these medical examinations to determine age? Is there something else really going on here - discrimination against the girls, a way to force them out of the game? From The Sunday May 4, 2008 National champion found over-age in under-9 chess tourney New Delhi (PTI): In an embarrassing revelation, the under-7 girls' national champion -- along with five others -- has been found over-age in the ongoing under-9 National Chess Competition here. National under-7 champion N Madhumita, Akhila S, H Tejaswini, Sagarika ILVK -- all from Andhra Pradesh -- and Orissa's Shovna and Sonali Jena were declared over-age after the Delhi Chess Association (DCA) conducted medical examination of 14 players on Saturday suspecting the correctness of their submitted birth certificates. DCA President and All India Chess Federation (AICF) treasurer Bharat Singh Chauhan said if the organising committee has doubts about players' age, they can subject them to medical examination to verify their age. "We found it strange that some of the candidates who were born in 1999 got themselves registered only last month. As per the rules, it is the authorities' responsibility to register the child born in their hospital within 45 days of the birth," Chauhan told PTI. "How could they not do it in these cases was a bit difficult to understand and raised suspicion," he said. Chauhan, however, said they were still "open" to a second opinion if the AICF instructs. Here is the prior story I saw yesterday and meant to post here earlier: From The Four AP girls among five debarred Special Correspondent Includes last year’s National under-7 champion Tests on eight boys proves to be inconclusive NEW DELHI: The age-old malady of older children being made to play in the younger age-groups competitions in chess surfaced again when five girls, including last year’s National under-7 champion, were found ineligible to play in the on-going Parsvnath National under-9 chess championship here on Saturday. Andhra Pradesh, under the scanner of the All India Chess Federation for some time now, has done its reputation no good. Out of the six girls medically examined, four AP girls — National under-7 champion N. Madhumita, I.L.V.K. Sagarika, H. Tejaswini and S. Akhila — along with Orissa’s Sovna Sonali Jena were found “above 10 years of age” by the doctors of Fortis Hospital here. According to the AICF joint secretary and organising secretary of the National under-9 championship, Bharat Singh Chauhan, eight boys were also medically examined. “The boys were found to be between the age of eight and 10. The doctors could not conclusively prove whether these children were overage,” he said.[But they could conclusively prove that 4 of 5 girls examined were overage? Seems a bit strange to me, more than a coincidence, wouldn't you say?] “We have debarred these five girls from the tournament. One other girl, Priyavada Karmcheti, also from AP, was earlier removed from competition following complaints of her being ineligible. “We conducted enquiries and found out that she was a student of Class VI. Priyavada’s mother also admitted to this fact,” said Mr. Chauhan.

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

GM Kateryna Lahno won the Women's tournament and the gold medal outright with her 8.5/11, but there were tie-break play-offs for the silver and bronze medals as well as spots for the World Chess Championship. Silver: IM Victoria Cmilyte Bronze: IM Anna Ushenina Qualified for WCC: IM Elina Danielian IM Maia Lomineishvili

More on the Rochdale Circle

From the Rochdale Observer

Magic and mystery tour
Alice McKeegan 29/ 4/2008

(Photo: POINTING the way ... Observer reporter Alice McKeegan and archaeologist for a guided tour and (right) the breathtaking stone circle site.) AFTER a month of waiting and wondering, the mystery of the stone circle has finally been captured on camera.

I have just been treated to an exclusive guided tour of the moors north of Rochdale by Stuart Mendelsohn, the archaeologist who believes he has discovered a stone circle as old as Stonehenge.

We have been asked not to reveal the exact location of the stone circle until Greater Manchester’s county archaeologist visits the site, hopefully later this month, to investigate Mr Mendelsohn’s theory.

The Sweden-based archaeologist made a special trip to the Observer offices for a chat and then took me to the site to see for myself just what all the fuss is about.

Mr Mendelsohn said: "This discovery could really put Rochdale on the map and change the way that the town is viewed. I think that there will be more sites in the area which are significant but we will have to wait and see what the experts say when they visit."

Our photographer Sean Hansford was on hand to capture the moment and snapped some stunning images of the findings. [Too bad none of them accompanied the article, but then, it might give away the location, which I'm sure looters already know about anyway.]

Despite being warned to expect freezing temperatures, as usual vanity stood in my way and I turned up wearing my designer trench coat, Prada trainers and highly inappropriate jeans.

Within minutes I regretted not bringing some wellies and a woolly hat, but thankfully, photographer Sean (or Saint Sean as I’ve renamed him) did the gentlemanly thing and offered me his comfy coat which I duly accepted.

This severely compromised my style but my appearance was the last thing on my mind by this stage.

We were taken to see the circle and the cairns, which even impressed an old cynic like me. I was struck by the tranquillity and magical atmosphere of the site and the views of Rochdale were absolutely breathtaking.

The cairns were beautiful but some of the stones were obscured by peat – understandable after 3,000 years. After glimpsing the site, my imagination started to run wild and it wasn’t hard to envisage just what the area would have been like thousands of years ago.

As a Rochdalian, I was stunned by the rustic beauty of the countryside and the visit has inspired me to return with a picnic, albeit on a warmer day.

Even after just a few hours in Mr Mendelsohn’s company, it was obvious that his life is completely dedicated to archaeology and the strength of his commitment was inspirational. He is determined that the circle will be properly surveyed and the significance of the site noted in the record books.

So far, English Heritage has confirmed that the area was of Bronze Age significance and that there were two cairns that probably date from the same period as Stonehenge.

The Bronze Age was the period from 3,000BC to 700BC when metal first began to be widely used in Britain. Middleton-born Mendelsohn, aged 52, estimates 20 stones in a precise arrangement marked a sacred site to the people of prehistoric Rochdale.

The discovery hasn’t just captured our imagination, we’ve had dozens of letters and emails from experts, offering their help with possible excavations.

One of these offers came from Michael Newark, a member of the Megalithic Portals website. He’s a dowsing expert and wrote to the Observer to plead for further investigations to take place.

He wrote: "Having just a brief look around Rochdale I was amazed to find so many interesting places that show this unique energy from the past. Without doubt these places over time would have become places of worship where local and people from afar would have travelled to visit, and enjoy the power and influence for good of this site. These are places where a controlled dig should take place to ensure all finds are recorded."

Mr. Mendelsohn echoed these sentiments, hoping that the site will be secured and preserved for future generations to enjoy for thousands of years to come.

Saudi women had more rights at the time of the Romans than today

05/02/2008 12:30

This is shown by a book written by a female scholar and published in Great Britain. At that time, they are able to run businesses; while today, at a discussion of work for women in Riyadh, all of the women were in another room.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) - Arab women had more rights at the time of the Romans than they have today. At that time, in fact, their capacity to conduct their own economic affairs was recognised, which is not true in Saudi Arabia today. This is maintained by a female Saudi scholar, Hatoon al-Fassi, in a book entitled "Women In Pre-Islamic Arabia", published by British Archaeological Reports.

Barred from teaching at King Saud University in 2001, the scholar has examined the situation of Nabataea, a kingdom that at the beginning of the Christian era included parts of modern-day Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, and had its capital in Petra. Here, Fassi maintains, women were able to conduct business, without even the form of "protection" required by Greek tradition in these matters.

In her opinion, it is precisely because of the lack of understanding on the part of Islamic scholars of the influences of Greco-Roman legislation on sharia that the limited rights and freedoms for women have arisen.

"We now live the worst status imaginable": this statement from Fawziya al-Oyouni, a women's rights activist, is reported in the review of the book on Middle East Online, which highlights how, when religious authorities, ministers, and businessmen met last month in Riyadh to discuss work for women, there were no women visible, because they were confined to another room, and the men were able only to hear them.

Treasure Trove!

Hola! It's Sunday already and it's beautiful outside; I'm itching to get out there and start the long clean-up process of a winter and storm-tossed back yard. Yesterday I got so caught up in finding interesting stuff for our Goddesschess Random Round-up and then I was working on May's Chessville column (which I want to finish today and get off to the editors) - and then 'Sis and I spent close to 2 hours gabbing over Skype (what a wonderful invention - we can talk to our hearts' content for free!) - before I knew it it was after 10 p.m. and I collapsed into sleep. I rarely do those 1 a.m. nights anymore! I like this story. It must be a wonderful feeling to be out there doing metal detecting and find something like this: From the Sunderland Echo May 4, 2008 Brooch deemed treasure trove A Roman brooch that sat in an archaeologist's drawer for seven years has been declared treasure by a coroner's court. Metal detecting enthusiast David Scott, 64, found the trumpet brooch, dating back to AD200, in 2000 on one of his hunts on a friend's farm in Seaham. In 2001 he realised that it was silver and could be classed as treasure, so he took it to the Count ADVERTISEMENT y Durham archaeologist's office to be looked at.But for some reason it was forgotten about, and laid untouched in a drawer for seven years. David, who has been metal detecting for 32 years and meets most Sundays with the Dunelm Metal Detecting Club, said: "I knew what it was, I knew the age of it. I didn't know it was silver, it's the first silver one I've found. It's exceptional." Over the years, David, who regularly travels to East Yorkshire on metal detecting expeditions, has discovered all sorts of relics – from a Bronze Age knife to various coins and artefacts dating back to 1500BC. He's given the majority of them away to local and national museums – saying he prefers the hunt for the artefacts rather than collecting.The 4cm-long brooch, which is about three quarters intact, was found alongside a broken silver coin. David, who is from Seaton and works as a hyrdaulics fitter, said: "It's not worth a lot in money value, but it is in terms of history." He added: "Whoever owned this brooch was very wealthy and important."They might have been buried with the brooch, and if they were they probably lived there. I can't say those things for sure." At an inquest earlier this week, Graham Hunsley, assistant deputy coroner, ruled that the brooch is legally classed as treasure. He said: "To fall within the treasure legislation and to be deemed treasure in its legal sense an item has got to be at least 300 years old and made of precious metal. "This clearly being the second century it is well beyond the 300 years old requirement and as Mr Scott realised, this is substantially of silver and therefore qualifies as precious metal." The brooch was examined by an expert at the British Museum, who confirmed it dated back to AD200 and that something similar had been found in the past. It is believed that the brooch will now go to a local museum.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blast from the Past: 2004 World Youth Chess Championships

Harika regains sole lead November 12, 2004 19:39 IST Women Grandmaster Dronavalli Harika regained sole lead after settling for a draw with Alisa Melekhina of United States in the ninth round of the under-14 girls' section in the World Youth Chess Championships in Heraklion, Greece. Harika now has 7.5 points out of a possible nine and is half a point ahead of her nearest rivals, Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia, Elena Tairova and Melanie Ohme of Germany. With just two rounds remaining in the event, Harika needs just one victory and a draw to secure the world title. . . . Meanwhile, things worked in favour of Mary Ann Gomes in the under-12 girls' section. Having been in lead once, Mary defeated Abrahamyan Tatev of United States and moved to seven points. The Georgian duo of Maka Purtseladze and Bela Khotenashvili continued to lead the table after drawing their ninth round games and amassed 7.5 points. J Mohana Priya came back into reckoning for a medal in the under-10 girls category with a finely crafted victory over Diana Baciu of Moldova even as Mary Arabidze of Georgia continued to torment opposition and secured the gold medal with two rounds to spare. Arabidze recorded her ninth victory in as many games and now Mohana Priya is in joint second spot on 7 points. . . . Important results after 9th round (Indians unless specified) . . . Boys: Under 10: David Khachykian (6, Blr) lost to Hou Yifan (7, Chn)... Under 18: Nana Dzagnidze (6.5, Geo) beat Ian Nepomniachtchi (6, Rus)... Girls: Under 10: Mary Arabidze (9, Geo) beat Samadzade Sevinj (6.5, Aze); S Tejaswini Reddy (6.5) drew with Qurbonboyeva Sarvinoz (6.5, Uzb); Diana Baciu (6, Mda) lost to J Mohana Priya (7); Camacho Chardine Cheradee (6, Phi) beat Sirisha Gutta (5). Under 12: G Madanasri (6.5) drew with Mariya Muzychuk (6.5, Slo); Anne Haast (5, Ned) lost to P Lakshmi Sahiti (6); Irine Kharisma Sukandar (6, Ina) beat Anjali Datta (5); Amisha Parmar (5.5) beat Adam Andrea (4.5, Rom); Narmin Kazimova (4, Aze) lost to Devangi Patankar (5). Under 14: Alisa Melekhina (6.5, USA) drew with D Harika (7.5); Anna Muzychuk (7, Slo) beat Tairova Elena (7, Rus); Ohme Melanie (7, Ger) beat Saulyte Gabriele (6, Ltu); Anjanaa N Sowjanyaa (5.5) drew with Elena Ostroverkhova (5.5, Ukr); Sobierska Wioletta (5, Pol) lost to K Lakshmi Praneetha (6). Under 16: Maka Purtseladze (7.5, Geo) drew with Joanna Majdan (7, Pol); Bela Khotenashvili (7.5, Geo) beat Foisor Sabina-Francesca (6.5, Fra); Nebolsina Vera (6,Rus) lost to Atousa Pourkashiyan (7, Iri); Mary Ann Gomes (7) beat Abrahamyan Tatev (5.5, USA). Under 18: Anna Burtasova (6.5, Rus) beat Kadziolka Beata (5.5, Pol); Vera Papadopoulou (5.5, Gre) lost to Marina Guseva (6.5, Rus); Lovece Ruth (3.5, Arg) lost to M Rajadharshini (5).

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola darlings! Hard to believe, but I actually survived another week. It's been tough at the office; some changes are in the works (I'm not responsible for all, not by a long shot, but for a few, yes, I admit) and the tension is thick enough to slice with a knife. In the end, I hope for a better situation for myself, but who knows? Be that as it may, it's been crappy weather here - we're about 15 degrees F below normal temperatures for this time of year, and today we dodged several bullets in Milwaukee County by avoiding any tornado touchdowns or really severe weather. The danger is not over, though, more of the same is on tap for tomorrow. So much for yard work! I'm not into squishing 3 inches into muck while attempting to rake, no thank you! This has all the makings of a classic "La Nina" spring/summer - which means no spring, and then one day it's 90 degrees F with 200% humidity for the next 2 months before it drops t0 30 below zero. Welcome to Wisconsin! Maybe the yard work won't get done this year... Except I must do SOMETHING, as it's an absolute disaster in my backyard, after a season of endless windstorms and norwesters totally trashing my trees (and I don't even want to talk about what my "lawn" looks like, no no no) and Isis, Michelle and dondelion will be visiting again in July, yippee! I switched gears today and updated Chess Femme News with the latest on the 2008 European Individual Chess Championships (chess femmes only, of course!) so please check it out for the latest news. There's a lot of BS out there, per usual (baloney sausage, that is, ahem), and most of it isn't even worthy of putting up a link here (I have a very exclusive readership after all, double ahem). For what it's worth, here are my selections this week. Hope you enjoy! England passed a law recently attempting to regulate phoney-baloney "psychics": The Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951 is being scrapped, and they will in future come under the new Consumer Protection Regulations. Let the commentary begin. LOL! How J.K. Rowling and her "Harry Potter" novels were systematically deleted off the "Best Sellers" lists - and triumphed anyway. Very enlightening about how New York Publishing works - what a bunch of schmucks. Oh oh! Exposed: the great GM crops myth/Major new study shows that modified soya produces 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent. Why am I not surprised? Great ball of fire! Nomads saved astronauts Startled people saw a burning capsule fall from the sky down to Earth Okay, I'm not even going to attempt to write a by-line for that headline... The Black Death changed the world. It wiped out approximately 50% of the world's population at the time - in some villages, everyone died. It is estimated that at the time (during the 1340's) some 75 million people were killed by the Plague. So, what would it be like today, if something similar would hit us and wipe out about half of the world's current population - some 3 billion plus people? Think about it. What would it be like? Leave it up to a female...

Another Take on Akhenaten's Medical Condition

We all know him as the "heretic Pharaoh" who was married to the most beautiful woman who ever lived, Nefertiti, whose bust (which Egypt lusts after) is housed in a museum in Germany. Here's a new take on the medical condition that may have caused his rather unique appearance: AP The Androgynous Pharaoh? Akhenaten had feminine physique By ALEX DOMINGUEZ – 15 hours ago BALTIMORE (AP) — Akhenaten wasn't the most manly pharaoh, even though he fathered at least a half-dozen children. In fact, his form was quite feminine. And he was a bit of an egghead. So concludes a Yale University physician who analyzed images of Akhenaten for an annual conference Friday at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the deaths of historic figures. The female form was due to a genetic mutation that caused the pharaoh's body to convert more male hormones to female hormones than needed, Dr. Irwin Braverman believes. And Akhenaten's head was misshapen because of a condition in which skull bones fuse at an early age. The pharaoh had "an androgynous appearance. He had a female physique with wide hips and breasts, but he was male and he was fertile and he had six daughters," Braverman said. "But nevertheless, he looked like he had a female physique." Braverman, who sizes up the health of individuals based on portraits, teaches a class at Yale's medical school that uses paintings from the university's Center for British Art to teach observation skills to first-year students. For his study of Akhenaten, he used statues and carvings. Akhenaten (ah-keh-NAH-ten), best known for introducing a revolutionary form of monotheism to ancient Egypt, reigned in the mid-1300s B.C. He was married to Nefertiti, and Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut, may have been his son or half brother. Egyptologist and archaeologist Donald B. Redford said he supports Braverman's belief that Akhenaten had Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder marked by lengthened features, including fingers and the face. Visiting clinics that treat those with the condition has strengthened that conviction, "but this is very subjective, I must admit," said Redford, a professor of classic and ancient Mediterranean studies at Penn State University. Others have theorized Akhenaten and his lineage had Froehlich's Syndrome, which causes feminine fat distribution but also sterility. That doesn't fit Akhenaten, who had at least six daughters, Braverman said. Klinefelter Syndrome, a genetic condition that can also cause gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, has also been suggested, but Braverman said he suspects familial gynecomastia, a hereditary condition that leads to the overproduction of estrogen. The Yale doctor said determining whether he is right can easily be done if Egyptologists can confirm which mummy is Akhenaten's and if Egyptian government officials agree to DNA analysis. Braverman hopes his theory will lead them to do just that. "I'm hoping that after we have this conference and I bring this up, maybe the Egyptologists who work on these things all the time, maybe they will be stimulated to look," he said. Previous conferences have examined the deaths of Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Florence Nightingale and others. Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Update: Treasure Ship Found in African Diamond Mine!

Prior post. From the International Herald Tribune: Treasure trove found on shipwreck off Africa The Associated Press Published: May 2, 2008 JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: The ship was laden with tons of copper ingots, elephant tusks, gold coins — and cannons to fend off pirates. But it had nothing to protect it from the fierce weather off a particularly bleak stretch of inhospitable African coast, and it sank 500 years ago. Now it has been found, stumbled upon by De Beers geologists prospecting for diamonds off Namibia. "If you're mining on the coast, sooner or later you'll find a wreck," archaeologist Dieter Noli said in an interview Thursday. Namdeb Diamond Corp., a joint venture of the government of Namibia and De Beers, first reported the April 1 find in a statement Wednesday, and planned a news conference in the Namibian capital next week. The company had cleared and drained a stretch of seabed, building an earthen wall to keep the water out so geologists could work. Noli said one of the geologists saw a few ingots, but had no idea what they were. Then the team found what looked like cannon barrels. The geologists stopped the brutal earth-moving work of searching for diamonds and sent photos to Noli, who had done research in the Namibian desert since the mid-1980s and has advised De Beers since 1996 on the archaeological impact of its operations in Namibia. The find "was what I'd been waiting for, for 20 years," Noli said. "Understandably, I was pretty excited. I still am." Noli's original specialty was the desert, but because of Namdeb's offshore explorations, he had been preparing for the possibility of a wreck, even learning to dive. After the discovery, he brought in Bruno Werz, an expert in the field, to help research the wreck. Noli has studied maritime artifacts with Werz, who was one of his instructors at the University of Cape Town. Judging from the notables depicted on the hoard of Spanish and Portuguese coins, and the type of cannons and navigational equipment, the ship went down in the late 1400s or early 1500s, around the time Vasco de Gama and Columbus were plying the waters of the New World. "Based on the goods they were carrying, it's almost certain that it dates from that time," said John Broadwater, chief archaeologist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "This find is very exciting because very few vessels from that period have been discovered," he said, adding that many early ships were thought to have wrecked in that area. It was, Noli said, "a period when Africa was just being opened up, when the whole world was being opened up." He compared the remnants — ingots, ivory, coins, coffin-sized timber fragments — to evidence at a crime scene. "The surf would have pounded that wreck to smithereens," he said. "It's not like 'Pirates of the Caribbean,' with a ship more or less intact." He and Werz are trying to fit the pieces into a story. They divide their time between inventorying the find in Namibia and doing research in museums and libraries in Cape Town, South Africa, from where Noli spoke by phone Thursday. Eventually, they will go to Portugal or Spain to search for records of a vessel with similar cargo that went missing. "You don't turn a skipper loose with a cargo of that value and have no record of it," Noli said. The wealth on board is intriguing. Noli said the large amount of copper could mean the ship had been sent by a government looking for material to build cannons. Trade in ivory was usually controlled by royal families, another indication the ship was on official business. On the other hand, why did the captain have so many coins? Shouldn't they have been traded for the ivory and copper? "Either he did a very, very good deal. Or he was a pirate," Noli said. "I'm convinced we'll find out what the ship was and who the captain was." What brought the vessel down may remain a mystery. But Noli has theories, noting the stretch of coast was notorious for fierce storms and disorienting fogs. In later years, sailors with sophisticated navigational tools avoided it. The only tools found on the wreck were astrolabes, which can be used to determine only how far north or south you have sailed. "Sending a ship toward Africa in that period, that was venture capital in the extreme," Noli said. "These chaps were very much on the edge as far as navigation. It was still very difficult for them to know where they were." Rest of story.

Chess News Update

Chess Femme News has been updated, May 2, 2008, to reflect the final standings of the 2008 European Individual Chess Championships, and more. Enjoy!

If you didn't know it before, you do now -

This information has been out for some time, the consensus being that the book purportedly written by Bobby Fischer in December, 2007 "My 61 Memorable Games" was a fraud. Here is the article by GM Larry Evans from the Bobby Fischer book appears to be fake May 4, 2008 "No other chess figure has had, has or will have more autograph imitations than Bobby Fischer GUARANTEED!" — Fisching for Forgeries, by Lawrence Totaro Last December, a month before Bobby Fischer died in Iceland, an auction on eBay Canada announced a new revised edition of his classic My 60 Memorable Games called My 61 Memorable Games purportedly written by him. Bidding reached $3,050 for the first 50 copies when eBay pulled the plug: "We recently suspended this seller's trading privileges. Due to privacy concerns we cannot share further details." Fischer angrily denied writing it. Yet the seller denied any hoax and insisted the auction was withdrawn solely because of death threats received online from someone called "Jews Against Fischer." "So what should I do with all these books then?" said the seller. "Why not send them — if they exist — to Fischer in Iceland?" I replied. In extensive e-mails over the next three months the seller repeatedly promised to send me a copy of the new book but never did. I think it may exist on someone's computer but it has not yet appeared in print. Obviously a strong player using a computer did a lot of work updating the manuscript. But Fischer had nothing to do with it and the seller's story appears to be a fairy tale. The Canadian came up with excuse after excuse for not sending me a copy of the book. I played along to gather more information, then encountered one falsehood after another — too numerous to mention. In order to convince me the book exists, the scammer sent me a photo of the cover and page 79, naively asking who this Weinstein was that Bobby kept attacking (knowing full well that Weinstein was Kasparov before he changed his name). This sample page pointed out a flaw in analysis by Kasparov in his series My Great Predecessors (Volume 4). To mimic Bobby's sarcasm, the author was called "Weinstein" and then boasted: "I'll say this only once — Fischer beats Kasparov!" If the book does surface one of these days, we can rest assured it was NOT written or authorized by Fischer. For the full story, see Chess Life Online ( Larry Evans is a five-time U.S. chess champion and nationally syndicated chess writer. Write to him at P.O. Box 1182, Reno, NV 89504.

2008 European Individual Chess Championships

Standings after Round 10: 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2479 UKR 8.0 (W, defeated Kovalevskaya) 2 WGM Zhukova Natalia 2450 UKR 7.5 (drew with Ushenina) 3 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 UKR 7.5 (drew with Zhukova) 4 GM Cramling Pia 2539 SWE 7.5 (drew with Skripchenko) 5 IM Skripchenko Almira 2443 FRA 7.5 (drew with Cramling) 6 IM Houska Jovanka 2390 ENG 7.0 (drew with Anna Muzychuk) 7 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2466 LTU 7.0 (drew with Natalija Pogonina) 8 IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2413 ARM 7.0 (B, defeated Margarita Voiska) 9 IM Dembo Yelena 2429 GRE 7.0 (B, defeated Sopio Nikoladze) 10 IM Muzychuk Anna 2486 SLO 7.0 (drew with Houska) 11 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2470 RUS 7.0 (drew with Cmilyte) 12 IM Danielian Elina 2479 ARM 7.0 (B, defeated Tatiana Stepovaia) 13 IM Socko Monika 2505 POL 7.0 (B, defeated Melia Salome) 14 IM Dzagnidze Nana 2443 GEO 6.5 15 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2421 RUS 6.5 (B, lost to Lahno) 16 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 6.5 (B, defeated Jana Jackova) 17 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2400 GEO 6.5 18 WGM Demina Julia 2337 RUS 6.5 19 IM Repkova Eva 2381 SVK 6.5 20 IM Rajlich Iweta 2411 POL 6.5 72 Kazimova Narmin 2071 AZE 5.0 (W, defeated WIM Popova Natalija 2239 BLR) In round 11, Narmin (B) faces FM Petra Schuurman (NED 2295), also with 5.0. It’s Lahno’s tournament to lose; behind (W) she will have her hands full with Ushenina (B). Interesting to note that of the top 16, five players won with the black pieces in Round 10.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tse-whit-zen artifacts languish in storage

Law suits filed by "native Americans" and cut off of Federal money prevent examination of results from the largest excavation ever undertaken in the state of Washington. By Jonathan Martin Seattle Times staff reporter Story - One of the Pacific Northwest's most astonishing archaeological finds in a generation has languished for more than a year, lingering on metal shelves in a Seattle warehouse, unseen by the public and unexamined by scientists. No one questions the discoveries — artifacts from a 2,700-year-old Native American village excavated from the Port Angeles waterfront amid great public interest — should be exhibited, analyzed and celebrated. But the 900 boxes of artifacts — such things as spindle whorls carved from whale vertebrae, along with animal bones and shell fragments — remain hung up in a bureaucratic no man's land. Questions about who owns and controls access to the collection are still in dispute. And there's also another all-too-familiar problem when the government gets involved: The money to study the collection evaporated. The federal government had promised analysis of and public education about the village, Tse-whit-zen, but backed out when excavation mushroomed in scope and controversy. There's some hope that the local congressional delegation may step up. But until then, frustrated local historians evoke the final scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," when, after all the adventure and fuss, the Ark of the Covenant is crated and carted into obscurity inside a cavernous government archive. "This is a big, important site, and it is sad that it is languishing on the shelf," said Steve Denton of the University of Washington's Burke Museum, which is taking care of the collection for the time being. Time of the essence Tse-whit-zen (pronounced ch-WEET-sen), nestled in the elbow of Port Angeles' Ediz Hook, was once a thriving fishing village inhabited by the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe. It is the biggest Native American village found in the state since the Ozette village, once inhabited by the Makahs, was unearthed in the 1960s. In August 2003, state contractors began digging a dry dock on the site to build bridge pontoons to repair the Hood Canal Bridge. Although crews began finding artifacts and human bones within weeks, the project was not shut down until 2004, after a tense, emotional clash of cultures involving the tribe, the city of Port Angeles and state and federal transportation managers. About $90 million in state and federal money was spent on the failed dry-dock site, including about $10 million for archaeological work. The result is more than 80,000 items or samples excavated from Tse-whit-zen, including carved bone harpoon points, fishing hooks and stone tools such as hammer stones and a finely polished adze head. For some, the star of the collection is a delicate bone comb, crowned by an exquisite carving of cormorants hovering over a child. Ken Ames, a Portland State University archaeologist who specializes in Native American coastal tribes, said the site is so large and well-excavated that "you could reconstruct life 2,200 years ago." Even shell fragments found there could be useful: Molecular analysis could show the water temperature of the Strait of Juan de Fuca thousands of years ago, helping global-warming researchers. But time is also of the essence, Ames urges. Records could be misplaced. And artifacts deteriorate. "At some level, I'd say they might as well have not excavated it if they don't analyze it," he said. A question of ownership Once the village began to be unearthed, an agreement among state, federal and tribal authorities in 2004 called for exhaustive analysis of the site and public education about the findings. How did villagers make tools? Had there been a tsunami there? What shellfish were prevalent? But the agreement was changed in 2007, after more than 300 human remains were dug up and tensions erupted into lawsuits. The new agreement allowed the tribe to focus on reburying its ancestors, and gave local officials, angry about losing jobs from the aborted pontoon project, millions of dollars. But because the flow of federal road-building money stopped when the project was killed, money for the analysis and education was stopped, too. Tom Fitzsimmons, who negotiated the project as Gov. Christine Gregoire's chief of staff, said he was focused on resolving the disagreements, leaving the issue of analysis for the future. "There are differences, and emotions, but we untied the huge Gordian knot to do this," said Fitzsimmons, who has since left state government. Under the agreement, the state will hold the artifacts in storage until the tribe builds a museum-quality education center on land leased to the tribe by the state. At that point, the artifacts will be released to the tribe. But one big part of the deal remains contested: ownership of the artifacts. Fitzsimmons argues the state Department of Transportation owns the collection because it owned the land where the artifacts were found. That gives the state — not the tribe — power to grant access to study the collection. But the tribe vehemently disagrees. "As far as we're concerned, they are the tribe's artifacts," said Frances Charles, the chairwoman of the tribe. The tribe successfully stopped carbon dating of the human remains, and is also opposed to testing of the other artifacts, she said. "The archaeological firms are interested in the scientific methods," Charles said. "Ours is the sensitivities and culture part of it. Science is science, and culture is the culture. We don't want you dating the bones, and also dating the artifacts." For now, the tribe is more focused on plans to rebury their ancestors in a ceremony this summer, but members also have begun planning an education center and trying to find a way to pay for it. "We'd like to tell our story," Charles said. "Enormous" potential Nonetheless, a group of Pacific Northwest scientists from Portland State and other universities is preparing an application to the National Science Foundation for money to study the artifacts. Archaeologists estimate a thorough study could be done for about $1 million, a relatively minuscule amount compared with money already spent. "We spent a lot of money excavating an archaeological site and for whatever reason, rightly or wrongly, the public won't get to obtain the scientific value of the material," worries Allison Brooks, the state historic preservation officer. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, who supported stopping the dry-dock project, is willing to support the application — or find other funding — if he were asked, said his chief of staff, George Behan. Thus far, Dicks hasn't been asked. So for now, the collection still sits in the Burke Museum, in bubble wrap, at the back of a huge UW warehouse on the former Sandpoint Naval Air Station, unavailable to the public. One day last week, Denton, the held-in-trust program manager for the UW's Burke Museum, lifted the cherished cormorant bone comb out of its special acid-free box and suspended it on a piece of twill cloth. "This is one of the most significant excavations ever in Washington," he said. "The research potential is enormous." Then he lowered the comb back into the box, closed the lid, and put it back in a metal filing cabinet. Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Columbus Era Shipwreck Recovered - in a Diamond Mine!

From De Beers Finds Shipwreck, Treasure From Columbus Era (Update2) By Chamwe Kaira April 30 (Bloomberg) -- De Beers, the world's biggest undersea diamond miner, said its geologists in Namibia found the wreckage of an ancient sailing ship still laden with treasure, including six bronze cannons, thousands of Spanish and Portuguese gold coins and more than 50 elephant tusks. The wreckage was discovered in the area behind a sea wall used to push back the Atlantic Ocean in order to search for diamonds in Namibia's Sperrgebiet or ``Forbidden Zone.'' ``If the experts' assessments are correct, the shipwreck could date back to the late 1400s or early 1500s, making it a discovery of global significance,'' Namdeb Diamond Corp., a joint venture between De Beers and the Namibian government, said in an e-mailed statement from the capital, Windhoek, today. The site yielded a wealth of objects, including several tons of copper, more than 50 elephant tusks, pewter tableware, navigational instruments, weapons and the gold coins, which were minted in the late 1400s and early 1500s, according to the statement. The Namibian government will claim ownership of the treasure found, Halifa Mbako, group corporate affairs manager at Namdeb, said in a telephone interview from Windhoek today. Namibian Law ``By Namibian law, discoveries of this nature belong to the state,'' he said. ``The discovery was found in our mining area, but the treasure belongs to the state.'' The Namibian government is in consultations with the governments of Spain and Portugal to try and identify the ship, which was most likely a trading vessel, given the goods on board, said. On April 1, Bob Burrell, the head of Namdeb's Mineral Resource Department, found some rounded copper ingots and the remains of three bronze cannons in the sand. ``All mining operations were halted, the site secured and Dr. Dieter Noli, an archaeologist and expert in the Sperrgebiet, was brought into the project and identified the cannons as Spanish breach-loaders of a type popular in the early 1500s,'' Namdeb said. The find may be the oldest sub-Saharan shipwreck ever discovered, Namdeb said. ``If this proves to be a contemporary of the ships sailed by the likes of Diaz, Da Gama and Columbus, it would be of immense national and international interest and Namibia's most important archaeological find of the century,'' according to the statement. Diamonds have been mined along the south-western coast of Namibia and in its coastal waters for the last 100 years. De Beers, the world's largest diamond company, is 45 percent owned by Anglo American Plc, 40 percent held by the Oppenheimer family and 15 percent owned by the government of Botswana.
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