Saturday, August 30, 2008

USCF Speaks About the WWCC!

Well - sort of. There is a report up now after the conclusion of Round 1 indicating that Rohonyan must go to a play-off against Zhukova while Zatonskih "got two days extra rest!" Whooppee! Mentioned at the end was the fact that America's best hope for earning a WWCC title, IM Irina Krush, declined to participate in the Championship because of security concerns (like, yeah, why would anyone in their right mind want to go to an area where bombs could fly at any second, separatist terrorists could attack at any second, or you could be abducted by bandits on a city street - or even out of your hotel room). Seems to me the chess femmes who showed up have placed very little value on their lives: $3,750, exactly, for surviving the first round; and only $5,500 for surviving the second round. That's a rather sad commentary on the state of women's chess, isn't it.

2008 Women's World Chess Championship

I have updated my coverage at Chess Femme News through the end of second game of the first round. The following players are advancing to the next round: CHN Xu, Yuhua IND Koneru, Humpy CHN Hou, Yifan BUL Stefanova, Antoaneta (by default) SWE Cramling, Pia POL Gasik, Anna (by default) CHN Zhao, Xue RUS Kosintseva, Tatjana RUS Kosteniuk, Aleksandra LTU Chmilyte, Viktorija SLO Muzychuk, Anna VIE Nguyen, Thi Thanh An (by default) HUN Hoang Thanh Trang UKR Ushenina, Anna ITA Sedina, Elena (by default) UKR Gaponenko, Inna ARG Amura, Claudia (by default) IND Harika, Dronavalli RUS Kosintseva, Nadezhda USA Zatonskih, Anna (by default) CHN Shen, Yang CHN Tan, Zongyi MGL Mongontuul, Bathuyang RUS Matveeva, Svetlana (by default) Players denoted "by default" did not have to play either of their two games because of the absence of 11 top players from the WWCC - the Georgian "team" of 6 players and five other players, including USA's IM Irina Krush and France's GM-elect Marie Sebag, who recently earned her third GM norm by her excellent performance in the "Men's" European Individual Chess Championship held earlier this year. In my opinion, these four players received an automatic pass to the next round who might not have made it otherwise: Anna Gasic, POL 2211; Nguyen, Thi Thanh An VIE 2323; Sedina, Elena ITA 2344; Amura, Claudia ARG 2345. It is also my opinion that these three players obtained an unfair advantage over the rest of the field by not having to play the first or second games and because they didn't have to expend time to prepare for the second game: Stefanova, Antoaneta BUL 2550; Zatonskih, Anna USA 2446; Matveeva, Svetlana RUS 2412. Also in my opinion, THIS IS NOT FAIR TO THE OTHER PLAYERS. There is no way to compensate for some players having to play two full chess games while other players did not! The following players will play-off tomorrow: UKR Zhukova, Natalia v. USA Rohonyan, Katerine AZE Kadimova, Ilaha v. GER Paehtz, Elisabeth ROM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca v. POL Socko, Monika ARM Mkrtchian, Lilit v. AUT Moser, Eva SRB Bojkovic, Natasa v. CHN Ju, Wenjun

Gold Wreath Found in Puzzling Burial

Ancient gold treasure puzzles Greek archaeologistsBy NICHOLAS PAPHITIS – 22 hours ago ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A priceless gold wreath has been unearthed in an ancient city in northern Greece, buried with human bones in a large copper vase that workers initially took for a land mine. The University of Thessaloniki said in a statement Friday that the "astonishing" discovery was made during its excavations this week in the ruins of ancient Aigai. The city was the first capital of ancient Macedonia, where King Philip II — father of Alexander the Great — was assassinated. Gold wreaths are rare and were buried with ancient nobles or royalty. But the find is also highly unusual as the artifacts appear to have been removed from a grave during ancient times and, for reasons that are unclear, reburied in the city's marketplace near the theater where Philip was stabbed to death. "This happened quite soon after the original burial; it's not that a grave robber took it centuries later and hid it with the intention of coming back," excavator Chryssoula Saatsoglou-Paliadeli told The Associated Press. "It probably belonged to a high-ranking person." The "impressively large" copper vessel contained a cylindrical golden jar with a lid, with the gold wreath of oak leaves and the bones inside. "The young workman who saw it was astounded and shouted 'land mine!'" the university statement said. Saatsoglou-Paliadeli, a professor of archaeology at the university, said the find probably dates to the 4th century B.C., during which Philip and Alexander reigned. "Archaeologists must explain why such a group ... was found outside the extensive royal cemetery," the university statement said. "(They must also) work out why the bones of the unknown — but by no means insignificant — person were hidden in the city's most public and sacred area." During the 4th century B.C., burials outside organized cemeteries were very uncommon. In a royal cemetery at Vergina, just west of Aigai, Greek archaeologists discovered a wealth of gold and silver treasure in 1977. One of the opulent graves, which contained a large gold wreath of oak leaves, is generally accepted to have belonged to Philip II. The location of Alexander's tomb is one of the great mysteries of archaeology. The sprawling remains of a large building with banquet halls and ornate mosaics at Aigai — some 520 kilometers (320 miles) north of Athens — has been identified as Philip's palace. Aigai flourished in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., attracting leading Greek artists such as the poet Euripides, who wrote his last tragedies there. The Macedonian capital was moved to Pella in the 4th century B.C., and Aigai was destroyed by the Romans in 168 B.C.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kasparov Comments on Miniputin's Misstep in Georgia

This article points out how Putin cut off his nose to spite his face. Tsk tsk. Fears of isolation as investors flee Russia By CATRINA STEWART – 6 hours ago MOSCOW (AP) — At the outset of this year, Russia proudly proclaimed itself an island of stability at the annual economic gathering in Davos, setting itself apart from the tumult of the global financial crisis. Then came the war with Georgia, which some here regard as Russia's 9/11. Within hours of Russia's retaliation to Georgia's move to take back its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, Russia had attracted widespread condemnation and threats of isolation and expulsion from the international community. "For the first time since the Crimean War, Russia has no allies," said Garry Kasparov, chess grandmaster turned opposition politician. "We are encircled by countries that are either suspicious or alienated and very angry." On the economic front, investors are hightailing out of Russia, while Western politicians have hinted at sanctions, visa restrictions and even the denial of Russia's right to host the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Increasingly cut off from the global world, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev risks undoing many of the successes of the past 10 years, ranging from the country's robust economic growth to a growing sense of national prestige and purpose. Stock markets plunged, and Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said more than $7 billion was pulled out of the country in just two days, exposing the fragility of Russia's nine-year economic boom. Stock markets plunged, and more than $7 billion was pulled out of the country in just three days, exposing the fragility of Russia's nine-year economic boom. The economy was already under strain. The five-day war followed months of bad news on Russia's corporate front, led by a high-profile shareholder tussle for control at TNK-BP, the Anglo-Russian joint venture. In early summer, Bill Browder's Hermitage Capital blew the lid on a catalog of intimidation and corporate theft at the hands of Interior Ministry officials, and in July Prime Minister Vladimir Putin publicly attacked steelmaker Mechel, sending its shares into a tailspin. Inflation was running at nearly 15 percent. But while the storm clouds gathered, investors clung on. The war was the tipping point, said James Fenkner, managing partner at Red Star Asset Management. French investment bank BNP Paribas has estimated that more than $25 billion has been withdrawn from the country since the outbreak of the conflict, and Russian stock markets have plunged more than 30 percent since May. It's a far cry from last December, when investors and analysts said 2008 was the year that Russia's stock markets would recover from the previous year's mediocre performance, even in light of the global turmoil. Now investors are pulling their money out in droves. "Very few investors have to be here now," said Fenkner. "Unless they are Russia-dedicated, they will move to friendlier environments. Sentiment is just very bad." To many, Russia's fundamentals look very attractive. "Russia is extremely cheap, and most of the growth dynamics are still in place," said Peter Halloran, whose hedge fund Pharos Fund has $150 million under management in Russia. "If I look forward 12 months, I want to own Russia." But as the uncertainty continues, Russia could be seen as a high-stakes geopolitical gamble. "If there is a perception of Russia as a risky place or as an undesirable place to invest, then the damage will be more long term," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib. "It will restrict the development of the economy and hurt the government's plans to create a more diversified the economy." The war has played well at home. Russians have rallied to the government's decision to punish Georgia for what it calls aggression and recognize the independence of South Ossetia and another separatist-controlled region, Abkhazia. Alexander Konovalov, president of Moscow's Institute of Strategic Assessment, said many in Western countries see a "big, strong, unmanageable Russia" attacking "a small, democratic, innocent Georgia." "In Russia," he said, "it is big, aggressive, undemocratic and irresponsible Georgia who took small and innocent South Ossetia." As Western politicians warn of sanctions and consequences, many ordinary Russians feel increasingly isolated — and blame the Western media for painting a distorted picture of the conflict. Russians "are sad about the situation and I have had many e-mails from people asking why the media is reporting the situation only from one side," said Lioudmila Siegel, chairman of an organization for Russians in Sweden. A minority of Russians, though, have denounced the government's decision to use military force in the conflict. The Union of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, for instance, has railed against the use of conscripts in Georgia, despite promises by the Defense Ministry that it would not do so. Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician, has said the invasion was a blunder, and that ordinary Russians will pay for it. "This is a strategic and long-term mistake, the effects of which will be felt by virtually all Russians," Nemtsov wrote. "This is the beginning of a new arms race." It could, he predicted, also mean visa restrictions, expulsion from the G8 group of countries, discrimination against Russian business abroad and a reversal of the decision to give Russia the 2014 Winter Olympics. But for the most part, liberal opposition to Russia's actions has been relatively subdued. "The liberals have been extremely quiet," said Konovalov. To stand up for "democratic values and cooperation with the West ... will be seen as a betrayal." David Cameron, head of Britain's Conservative opposition party, called for the British government to suspend visas for some Russian nationals and even, possibly, suspend Russia's membership of the G8 club of rich nations. Since the murder of Alexander Litvinenko on British soil nearly two years ago, relations between London and Moscow have deteriorated, and British tabloids were quick to pick up on anti-Russian sentiment. On Thursday, the Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper condemned British foreign secretary David Miliband for allowing "hundreds of Russian oligarchs who prospered under Vladimir Putin" to use "Britain as a bolthole." But while there is some popular bashing of Britain's very rich Russians — who the tabloids have long loathed because they benefit from Britain's relatively generous expat tax laws — the overwhelming political and business view of Russians in Britain is still positive. But analysts warn that, even if Russians themselves are welcomed abroad, it may become more difficult for Russian big business to expand there — especially in sensitive areas such as defense and energy. In a fit of pique two years ago, then-President Putin canceled foreign participation in the Shtokman gas project after European objections to a move by VTB, a major Russian bank, to acquire a minority stake in Europe's EADS aerospace and defense group. "This Russia phobia is nothing new," said Fenkner. "But it's going to turn up a couple of notches. It's not a trend reversal." ___ Associated Press writers Emily Flynn Vencat in London and Malin Rising in Stockholm contributed to this story. (This version CORRECTS SUBS 7th graf to correct time span.)

Good News for Peru Chess Champion!

29 August, 2008 [ 17:27 ] Peru company donates $10,000 to young chess champ Living in PeruIsrael J. Ruiz Martín Seminario, a young chess player from Chiclayo - the capital city of the Lambayeque region, will be able to fulfill his dream of traveling to a world chess championship in October in Vietnam. After reading reports of the help Martin and his father were seeking, Peruvian businessmen from Topy Top clothing company have offered to pay all of the expenses necessary for the chess champ to travel to Vietnam. Over the past weeks, Martin and his father were going to soccer matches in Chiclayo to ask for people's support. Many of the city's citizens were touched by the cause and donated money to help Martin, who recently won the Pan American title. With 1,500 soles donated by the governor of Lambayeque and 2,500 raised by Martin and his father, the father-son duo had managed to raise just over $1,000. $10,000 were needed for the trip.Topy Top representatives contacted Martin and his family on Friday afternoon and offered to pay the cost of the trip to Vietnam.

Howard Industries BUSTED!

I got a large laugh reading this article in this morning's Journal/Sentinel. Found it in full here: AP Factory had tension between union, immigrants By HOLBROOK MOHR Associated Press Writer LAUREL, Miss. Friday, August 29, 2008 11:46:48 AM PT Union bosses in this region of rural Mississippi have long grumbled that the largest factories here hire illegal immigrants, and that the immigrants were starting to get more overtime and supervisory positions. Friction between the union and immigrant workers, along with a tipoff at an electrical manufacturing plant, boiled over this week into the biggest workplace immigration raid in the nation's history. When the first of the 595 suspected illegal immigrants was taken into custody Monday, some fellow workers broke into applause. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the investigation started three years ago after agents received a tip from a union member. In interviews with The Associated Press, both union members and immigrants spoke of a simmering tension. At least one immigrant said scare tactics were used to pressure people to join the union. Union members said they resented immigrants, who were often allowed to work as much as 80 hours of overtime a week when other workers were discouraged from doing so. All declined to give their names, saying they feared for their jobs. [Gee, I wonder why the illegal aliens were allowed to work as much overtime as they wanted???] Howard Industries, which makes dozens of products from electrical transformers to medical supplies, is in Mississippi's Pine Belt region, an area known for commercial timber and chicken-processing plants. Robert Shaffer, head of the Mississippi AFL-CIO, said Wednesday that members have long complained that companies in southern Mississippi hire illegal immigrants. "Jackson, Hattiesburg, Laurel and all areas along the coast, it's a little Mexico," Shaffer said. "I'm not against people trying to make living. I have a compassion for those folks. But at the same time, the taxpayers of Mississippi shouldn't be subsidizing a plant that won't even hire their own workers." In 2002, Mississippi lawmakers approved a $31.5 million, taxpayer-backed incentive plan for Howard Industries to expand. The company, with 4,000 workers, is the largest employer in Jones County, which includes Laurel. About 2,600 of Howard Industries' workers are in the union. Shaffer said he did not know whether any of those picked up in the raid were union members, or if nonunion workers were offered overtime while union workers were not. Shaffer said offering immigrant workers union membership would depend on the situation, but he doubted it could be done if immigrants were in the country illegally. Those detained in the raid came from Brazil, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru. Contacted Wednesday, Howard Industries referred reporters to the statement it issued Monday, which said the company "runs every check allowed to ascertain the immigration status of all applicants for its jobs. It is company policy that it hires only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants." No executives were detained in Monday's raid, but a spokeswoman said the raid was just the first part of an ongoing investigation. A 30-year-old immigrant from Mexico who has worked at the transformer plant for three years said union representatives pressured immigrants to join the union, sometimes visiting their homes, offering gifts such as shirts and indicating that if they joined the union they would make more money. [Oh, boo hoo! Here's an illegal alien complaining about UNION treatment??? Gag me!] The immigrant, who was not caught in the raid because he works the night shift, spoke on the condition that he be identified only by his first name, Jose, because he was concerned about being detained. [I certain hope they hunt this a-hole down and deport his butt - after detaining him in jail for five years or so.] "The union uses the tactic of saying immigration was coming and the members of the union would not be taken," he said through a translator. Jose said he did not join the union because he wasn't convinced it would come to his side if he were detained, and he felt his dues would not be returned. [Just like our income taxes are not returned - DUH.] At least eight of the workers caught in the raid face criminal charges for allegedly using false Social Security and residency identification. On Wednesday, hundreds of people lined up outside the plant to apply for jobs as news of the raid spread. A billboard had gone up last week, before the raid, saying the company was hiring. "I need a job and got kids. I heard that they need some help now," said Willie Keys, 20, who applied Wednesday. "All them Mexicans got fired because they didn't have a pass ... All these businesses have been taking Americans' jobs." [Willie Keys, you do not know how right you are]. The unemployment rate in Jones County was 6.5 percent in July, slightly higher than the national rate of 6 percent but below the state's 8.5 percent rate. William Gunther, an economics professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, said Mississippi has a labor shortage because people aren't moving there, which could explain why companies might hire illegal immigrants. [Yeah, right. Can everyone say BULLSH*T altogether now! What did the paragraph above say - hundreds of people lined up to apply for jobs once the word was out that the illegal aliens had been arrested. These people take away jobs from Americans. Is there any wonder why there was "tension" at the plant? Hooray and BRAVO for whoever it was who turned in these illegals.] "That leaves businesses with a serious problem," he said. "That doesn't justify, but it certainly explains why they might be hiring individuals who show up and say, 'I'll work for you.'" He said businesses could face higher wage costs and consumers could face higher costs for products and services if immigrants are taken out of the economy. [What is it the Republicans are so fond of saying - a rising tide raises all boats??? Ditto here, folks. Ditto here.] Ruben Castro, who owns La Fiesta Brava Mexican restaurant, is already seeing the effects. He had to bring in workers from a store in another town [ILLEGALS???] because he was so short-handed after the raid, when five other Mexican restaurants in Laurel closed because employees were afraid to come to work. [Do we really need MORE Mexican restaurants in the USA???] "It hurts the community," he said, because the town will lose 600 people who frequented stores like Wal-Mart [WAL-MART! Oh yes, that BASTION of American enterprise - gag me - locking workers in their buildings against the law, depriving workers breaks they are entitled to under state laws, depriving workers of health insurance, shifting hours so no worker can claim "full time" status", etc. etc. Oh yes, by all means, let's bow down and worship at the dregs of Wal-Mart] and paid sales taxes [the most regressive form of tax there is, hits the poor the hardest - but don't tell the "middle class" (fast disappearing) that - they may panic because, percentage wise, they pay the next highest in sales taxes!]. ___ Associated Press writers Shelia Byrd and Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson and Eileen Sullivan in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report. ********************** Oh yes, Howard Industries absolutely abided by the law in every respect in VETTING 595 ILLEGAL ALIENS. They ran "every check." And not a red flag to be found. Anywhere. Among 595 illegal aliens with illegal social security numbers. Yeah, right.

China Sends Two Old Women to "Re-education Camp"

I saw this article this morning on the "editorial/opinion" page of the local Journal/Sentinel newspaper and tracked it down online. I think this says all that has to be said about the regime in China - sending two old women to jail for a year. The rotten dirty filthy slimeballs. Will people remember this - or the fake fireworks and the fake singer and the drugged-up Chinese athletes hijacked from their parents at age 2 to go to "training school" and forced to perform on the world stage at ages 10 and 12 for the greater glory of China? Or will they remember the greater glory of the Borg showing their "superiority" over the rest of the world??? This photo was not part of the online article. There was a photo in the hard-print newspaper showing the two ladies, but I could not locate it online. I found this photo of the two grandmothers here. Web Posted: 08/24/2008 12:00 CDT Human spirit wins in Beijing Jonathan Gurwitz The Beijing Olympics have provided spectators with many inspiring individual achievements: Michael Phelps' eight gold medals, Nastia Liukin's graceful pantomime and Usain Bolt's superhuman speed among them. The most powerful performance in Beijing this fortnight was not, however, delivered by athletes. Not by the young and spry. Not by the swift or strong. Wu Dianyuan is 79. Wang Xiuying is 77. Both, reports the New York Times, walk with the help of a cane. Wang is blind in one eye. Neither had ever expressed any public discontent with the Chinese government. But they dared to apply to hold a legal protest in one of three zones designated for limited demonstrations during the Olympic Games. China's authoritarian leaders created the zones under pressure from the International Olympic Committee. Though strictly controlled, they were a nod to Olympic ideals about human dignity. On Monday, Beijing police announced they had received a total of 77 applications for protest. None was approved. The New China News Agency quoted a government spokesman as saying that 74 applications were withdrawn because the issues being raised were “properly addressed by relevant authorities.” Two applications were rejected because they were incomplete, one because the proposed protest violated rules. In China, the worlds of Orwell and Kafka seem to intersect. This is a small measure of the kinds of insults to human dignity that 1.3 billion Chinese people suffer on a daily basis. The spectacle of the Olympic Games can't disguise those indignities. The glare from digitally enhanced fireworks can't obscure them. The Chinese people deserve our admiration for economically, educationally and technologically raising their nation into the 20th century, in spite of oppressive and corrupt leaders. The oppressive and corrupt Chinese government deserves our disdain. Little Yang Peiyi is admirable. If you watched the opening ceremonies, it was her seven-year-old voice you heard singing the patriotic anthem, “Ode to the Motherland.” The Chinese authorities who deemed her to be insufficiently beautiful to serve the state are loathsome. They forced the little girl to sing backstage while a nine-year-old model of socialist perfection lip-synched before the audience of 90,000 at the Bird's Nest and millions more television viewers around the world. Yet another insult to human dignity. Presumably, the application to protest filed by Wu and Wang was among those that were “properly addressed.” They wanted to demonstrate against the limited compensation they received when the government seized their homes for redevelopment. Another insult to human dignity. For their effort, Beijing police sentenced the frail women to one year of “re-education” at a labor camp. Is it any wonder, then, that the authoritarian rulers who fear the strength of their small protest also fear the strength of “unofficial” churches, temples and mosques? Is a government that sentences old women to labor camps really deserving of the world's admiration? No crowd cheered Wu and Wang as they wrote out their application for protest. No high definition camera captured the moment when they filed it with authorities. No one saw their triumph. But Wu and Wang captured the gold in Beijing for the human spirit.
I have one word for the current Chinese regime: PUKE! Sad to say, I wonder how many Americans, upon reading this, will even understand the allusions to Kafka and Orwell?

2008 Women's World Chess Championship

It's official. Eleven (11) players have "withdrawn" from the WWCC: Maya Chiburdanidze (2489), Georgia (#18 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Lela Javakhishvili (2461), Georgia (#31 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Maia Lomineishvili (2414), Georgia (#55 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Nino Khurtsidze (2413), Georgia (#57 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Sopio Gvetadze (2355), Georgia Sopiko Khukhashvili (2408), Georgia (#62 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Irina Krush (2470), USA (#24 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Karen Zapata (2180), (Peru) Marie Sebag (2529), (France) (#7 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Ekaterina Korbut (2459), (Russia) (#35 on FIDE Top 100 Women) Tea Bosboom Lanchava (2358), (Netherlands) I believe that GM Nona Gaprindashvili (GEO 2376), ranked 83rd on the FIDE list of Top 100 Women, also declined to attend the WWCC due to its location. Although Gaprindahsvili was not playing, she was named on the official website as a member of the appeals committee. Hmmmm, so now the appeals committee only has 2 people on it. So how do they break "ties"? There is no denying that there are some very powerful chessplayers on this list - including some former SOVIET champions. Do you hear laughter, Miniputin? Nearly 20% of the total amount of players having withdrawn will certainly skew the results of the remaining players, giving easy victories to some players to pass to Round 2 who would not otherwise have done so. This affects prize money awards too. I wonder what the other players will think about this after the fact??? By its obstinate refusal to move the WWCC to a safer venue, FIDE has single-handedly made a laughing-stock and total joke of the WWCC. Why did FIDE not just cancel the event outright rather than go through and put its official "stamp" on this mockery of an event? FIDE and Fearless Leader Kirsan have thus signalled their obvious contempt for female chessplayers of all nationalities, while kow-towing to the Russians. Shame, shame on you FIDE and Kirsan. Here are the "results" from the first game of Round 1. Second game is tomorrow, and then 2 days of tie-breaks if needed, before Round 2 starts. 1 1-64 Xu, Yuhua (CHN) 1 0 Solomons, Anzel (RSA) 2 63-2 Alaa El Din, Yorsa (EGY) 0 1 Koneru, Humpy (IND) 3 3-62 Hou, Yifan (CHN) 1 0 Khaled, Mona (EGY) 4 61-4 Zapata, Karen (PER) - + Stefanova, Antoaneta (BUL) 5 5-60 Cramling, Pia (SWE) 1 0 Sanchez Castillo, Sarai (VEN) 6 59-6 Gasik, Anna (POL) + - Sebag, Marie (FRA) 7 7-58 Zhao, Xue (CHN) 1 0 Zuriel, Marisa (ARG) 8 57-8 Muminova, Nafisa (UZB) 0 1 Kosintseva, Tatjana (RUS) 9 9-56 Kosteniuk, Alexandra (RUS) 1 0 Pourkashiyan, Atousa (IRI) 10 55-10 Golubenko, Valentina, CRO) 0 1 Cmilyte, Viktorija (LTU) 11 11-54 Muzychuk, Anna (SLO) 1 0 Velcheva, Maria (BUL) 12 53-12 Zakurdjaeva, Irina (RUS) 0 1 Ruan, Lufei (CHN) 13 13-52 Zhukova, Natalia (UKR) 0 1 Rohonyan, Katherine (USA) 14 51-14 Nguyen, Thi Thanh An (VIE) + - Chiburdanidze, Maya (GEO) 15 15-50 Hoang Thanh Trang (HUN) 1 0 Arribas Robaina, Maritza (CUB) 16 49-16 Kadimova, Ilaha (AZE) 1 0 Paehtz, Elisabeth (GER) 17 17-48 Ushenina, Anna (UKR) 1 0 Le Thanh Tu (VIE) 18 47-18 Foisor, Sabina-Francesca (ROM) 1/2 1/2 Socko, Monika (POL) 19 19-46 Krush, Irina (USA) - + Sedina, Elena (ITA) 20 45-20 Zhang Jilin (CHN) 1/2 1/2 Gaponenko, Inna (UKR) 21 21-44 Javakhishvili, Lela (GEO) - + Amura, Claudia (ARG) 22 43-22 Nebolsina, Vera (RUS) 0 1 Harika, Dronavalli (IND) 23 23-42 Kosintseva, Nadezhda (RUS) 1 0 Mohota, Nisha (IND) 24 41-24 Gvetadze, Sopio (GEO) - - Korbut, Ekaterina (RUS) 25 25-40 Zatonskih, Anna (USA) + - Bosboom Lanchava, Tea (NED) 26 39-26 Kachiani-Gersinska, Ketino (GER) 1/2 1/2 Shen, Yang (CHN) 27 27-38 Mkrtchian, Lilit (ARM) 1/2 1/2 Moser, Eva (AUT) 28 37-28 Tan Zongyi (CHN) 1/2 1/2 Tania, Sachdev (IND) 29 29-36 Bojkovic, Natasa (SRB) 1/2 1/2 Ju, Wenjun (CHN) 30 35-30 Mongontuul, Bathuyang (MGL) 1 0 Rajlich, Iweta (POL) 31 31-34 Lomineishvili, Maia (GEO) - - Khukhashvili, Sopiko (GEO) 32 33-32 Matveeva, Svetlana (RUS) + - Khurtsidze, Nino (GEO) I invite my readers to do the math for themselves. The red marked players didn't show up. Some players got free passes to the next round, and FIDE didn't do a thing to change things, although it certainly had ample notice that some players, at least, would not appear. FARCE! How is FARCE spelled in Russian? I feel very sorry for the other players who showed up to play.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fair Decision?

Friday, August 29, 2008 Pestaño: An unfair decision By Frank “Boy” Pestaño Chessmoso MY BARKADA and drinking buddy in college Rogelio “Tata” Morelos who, belongs to a family of chess players, just gave me a handwritten note criticizing the showdown between grandmasters Eugene Torre and Joey Antonio that was dubbed as the QC Chess Road Show. “Dear Chessmoso, Just recently, two top Filipino grandmasters had a showdown with a reported P200,000 as prize money offered by the sponsors. I was eagerly waiting for the result of the seven-game confrontation, which to my dismay ended in a draw. What left a bad taste to my gin and tonic-watered mouth was that the two, who tied on the sixth game, did not play the tiebreak seventh game, but instead, decided by themselves to divide the pot money. I find this to be beggarly and highly impolite for the GMs to do. It is like Pacquaio and De La Hoya stopping at the 10th round of a scheduled 12 rounds and deciding to call it a draw after being informed by the judges that both have the same scores. Are the actions of the two GMs allowed in chess tournaments? If so, the people who drafted the rules should be made to swallow the chess pieces of that tournament and add the board as dessert. The tournament was supposed to be a showdown on who is the master of whom.” I personally would like to know who the better player is, as I have been following their careers for a long time. Now, after much hype and publicity, there is no decision. I don’t know the inside story but isn’t it unfair to the chess-playing community?
Interesting. I wonder what the reaction of the "chess world" would have been if Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih had decided amongst themselves to stop playing and split the prize money at the 2008 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - and declare themselves de facto "co-winners." Would that have generated as much screaming, hair-pulling and collective angst (mostly among male players, it seems) as the Armageddon play-off that actually place did?

Koneru Humpy a Favorite at Women's World Chess Championship

Assuming she doesn't get injured or killed by a terrorist bomb or arrested by Russian forces because she is deemed a "threat" to the local peace (not to mention Alexandra Kosteniuk). This isn't exactly a solo article on the Indian GM Koneru, more like a review of the team of Indian women participating in the WWCC at Nalchik. All of them are armed - and dangerous OTB. By the way, I don't know where the newspaper dug up that ancient picture of Koneru - she has grown into a quite lovely young lady these days. I think that photo was taken when she was about 15 and experiencing lots of growing pains personally, professionally, and with her image. How well I remember being that age. Eek! Story from Nalchik, Aug 28: Grandmaster Koneru Humpy will have a chance to make history for India and put the nation on top of the chess world when she starts her campaign in the World Women's chess championship here. Humpy, who spearheads the Indian challenge, is the top-rated player in the event. If she lives up to her billing and come out triumphant in the tournament, India will rule the game as Viswanathan Anand already enjoys the World champion tag in the men's section and D Harika and Abhijeet Gupta are the world junior champions in the men's and women's category respectively. Apart from Humpy, much is also expected from International Master Harika who is fresh from her triumph in the World junior girls' championship. However, with a busy schedule in the recent past the Andhra-girl candidly admitted that she did not get enough time to prepare herself for the World Championship. Another Indian, expected to make her presence felt in the tournament that kick starts later today, is Asian women champion and IM Tania Sachdev. However, it might turn out to be a tough going for Woman Grandmaster Nisha Mohota. The only thing that might work in her favour is the experience of playing at the big league. "It's never easy to participate in such big events and one has to play consistently to make an impact here," said Nisha, who was the only Indian to make it to the second round of the 2001 World Championship. Meanwhile, defending champion Xu Yuhua of China, her 14-year old compatriot Yifan Hou, Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria and Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia are the main contenders in the premier women's event that has come first time to Nalchik. For the records, 64 participants will take part in a knock out event spread over three-weeks. There will a mini-match of two games in each round with both white and black pieces and the final will be spread over four games. In the event of a tie in mini-matches, the result will be decided in games of shorter duration. Indian players: Koneru Humpy, D Harika, Tania Sachdev and Nisha Mohota. Bureau Report
Well, darlings, not exactly 64 players. Earlier today reported that 53 players will participate in Round 1.

Virgin Mary in Tree Trunk

A giant snicker for this one :) From The Virgin Mary spotted in suburban tree trunk A likeness of the Virgin Mary spotted in the trunk of a suburban tree is being touted as a divine “blessing”. By Matthew Moore Last Updated: 4:53PM BST 28 Aug 2008 The image, which resembles the mother of Jesus in her traditional open-armed pose, has reportedly been causing local residents to shake and cry in wonder. Christopher Moreau, who first spotted the tree’s markings in his neighbour’s garden in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, believes that it may have helped the health of his mother-in-law, who recently recovered from cancer. "At first I thought I was seeing things," the 47-year-old said. "Then I went and got my mother-in-law to tell her. She was overwhelmed by it. She was crying." "I don't know why it's there, but I think it's a blessing," he told the Toronto Sun newspaper, adding that he hoped it would help others looking for a miracle. "She's not there just for me. She's there to share." Eulalee Hamilton, Mr Moreau’s neighbour and the owner of the tree, said that she was happy for people to come see the likeness as long as they did not damage her garden. Laughing off suggestions that it was a sign from God, she said that the Virgin Mary image was just the scarring from a limb that was cut off the tree a year ago. "Chris can have all the people he wants on his back deck but I don't really want people trampling on my garden," she said. Mr Moreau has admitted he was drinking in his garden when he first spotted the likeness, but insists he was completely sober. "I'm not a wacko," he said. "It raises the hair on your neck, it gives you chills," he added. A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto said that it does not investigate the veracity of such “appearances”. There have been hundreds of "sightings" of the Virgin Mary down the centuries, but recent years have seen her appearing in ever more unusual places. A decade-old toasted cheese sandwich said to bear her image was sold on eBay $28,000 in 2004.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pre-Incan Wari Female "Mummy" Excavated

Check this out. Notice the interesting burial position of this female - she was buried in a sitting position. And - well, you'll see... From Reuters Tue Aug 26, 2008 7:08pm EDT Pre-Incan female Wari mummy unearthed in Peru By Dana Ford LIMA (Reuters) - Archeologists working at Peru's Huaca Pucllana ruins pulled a mummy from a tomb on Tuesday, thought to be from the ancient Wari culture that flourished before the Incas. Besides the female mummy, the tomb contained the remains of two other adults and a child. It is the first intact Wari burial site discovered at Huaca Pucllana in the capital Lima, and researchers believe it dates from about 700 AD. "We'd discovered other tombs before," said Isabel Flores, director of the ruins. "But they always had holes, or were damaged. Never had we found a whole tomb like this one -- intact," she said, standing on the ancient plaza, a huge partially excavated mound of rocks, bricks and dirt. Workers wrapped the female mummy in tissue paper before lifting it onto a flat wood board. They exposed her face, revealing two big, bright blue orbs in her eye sockets. They extracted the other adult mummies, which were also whole, earlier in the week. "Her face startled me at first," said Miguel Angel, 19, a worker at Huaca Pucllana who helped unearth the tomb. "I wasn't expecting to find anything like that," he said. It was not clear what the fake eyes were made of. The Wari people lived and ruled in what is now Peru for some 500 years, between 600 AD and 1100 AD. Their capital was near modern-day Ayacucho, in the Andes, but they traveled widely and are known for their extensive network of roads. Flores said about 30 tombs have been found at Huaca Pucllana, surrounded by Lima's busy streets. When in good condition, Wari tombs can be identified by the ceramic and textile offerings placed around the dead. Small children were often sacrificed and it is common to find their bodies alongside adult ones. The child discovered with the adult mummies at Huaca Pucllana was likely sacrificed. The discovery at Huaca Pucllana confirms the Wari people buried their dead in what is now Lima and offers a more complete picture of how burials were done. "This enriches Lima's story," Flores said. (Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Kieran Murray
Aside from the bug-eyes - how interesting! - made out of a blue mineral??? Wonder what they'll find. Well, anyway, compare this sitting-down image of a Peruvian mummy to this much OLDER image of a "Bactrian princess." Note that the Peruvian mummy seems to have been buried encased in some kind of clay-like shroud (baked???) that has stayed intact all these years. That, in and of itself, is absolutely amazing. As far as I have been able to determine, the earliest "Islamically correct" images of a Wazir/Vizier/Mantri (in Europe, the Queen) chess piece was a figure slightly smaller than the "king" piece, but otherwise identical in all respects, depicted as a sort of anthrophomorphic throne. That's about the same time the Wari female may have been buried. The most interesting part of this puzzle is that the "Bactrian princess" figurines go back to at least 600 BCE - almost 1000 years before. I find the resemblance striking.

Turin Shroud Update

New "news" on the latest effort at definitively dating the Shroud of Turin, putative relic from Christ's Passion and Death: From The Sunday Times August 24, 2008 Age of shroud of Turin disputed again John Follain A LEADING expert on the shroud of Turin has won the support of an Oxford University laboratory for new carbon dating tests on the venerated but controversial relic, which was dismissed two decades ago as a fake. Carbon dating tests carried out in 1988 indicated that the shroud, long revered as the winding-sheet in which the body of Jesus was wrapped for burial and bearing his imprint, had been made between 1260 and 1390. The Catholic church admitted at the time that the shroud could not be authentic. John Jackson, a physicist at Colorado University and a prominent expert on the relic, has argued that the tests were skewed by 1,300 years because of high levels of carbon monoxide. He said many other elements of the shroud, including details of the image, indicate that it is much more ancient. “It’s the radiocarbon date that, to our minds, is like a square peg in a round hole. It’s not fitting properly and the question is ‘Why?’,” Jackson told an interviewer. Oxford has agreed to work with Jackson to reassess the age of the shroud. He will now try to demonstrate through experiments in his laboratory that the results were flawed, in the hope that this could prompt new tests on the relic itself. Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit that tested the shroud in 1988, said: “There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed.” Scepticism about the 1988 tests is widespread. A conference at Ohio State University earlier this month heard findings from the Los Alamos National Laboratory that they were unsound because the samples tested came from a portion of cloth that may have been added during medieval repairs. Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, spokesman for the commission that manages the shroud at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Turin, said any new tests would have to wait until after it is put on public display in 2010. “The decision is a matter for its owners, that is the Holy See, and the Vatican has said nothing must be touched,” he said.

An Encounter with a Juvenile Racoon

Okay okay, so I know it's all my fault for feeding the flora and fauna in the neighborhood for the past 19 years - hey, let's go over to Jan's, they all say, she's got good stuff! I always have fresh water and I feed 365 days a year. But that doesn't mean I invite unruly teenagers! I don't like unruly teenagers. They are so - so - so - disrespectful! Arrrggghhh! This guy isn't afraid of anything! Unfortunately, since I was watering another part of the yard with the sprinkler, I did not have my first weapon of enforcement at hand - the water hose. Drat! I thought I had picked up all of the unconsumed peanuts for the night but I sure was wrong! This fella found them with unerring ease, and he wasn't afraid of me banging the patio door, yelling at him, chasing him away from the deck (which he came up on twice!) or flashing the camera at him either. This is one of the best pics I took - the sun was already down and it was that in-between time where the human eye can still see just fine, but the camera's eye isn't so good. I had two other shots that came out not totally black, lol! But this one will do. I'm not familiar enough yet (or an instinctive photographer) with this camera to have thought about changing the setting to night shots - I just grabbed it off of the bookcase in the family room and started shooting as fast as I could. I think the batteries are running low... Notice the evil glowing eyes (cue spooky music) wooowhooohooooo...wooowhooohoooo... Is this a Demon From Hell Sent To Torment Me??? Er, alright, not the best damn shot in the world - looks rather like a bunny, or a large cat. Drat! Should have tried to get the stripes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Study Shows Crows Recognize Faces

Well - I could have told them that if they'd asked! After feeding families of crows here for nearly 20 years, I can tell you that not only do they recognize the place (house/yard), they also recognize me as opposed to my sister, Darlene, who looks very like me. They also distinguish me from Don, which is much easier - he's the skinny one with white hair! From The New York Times Friend or Foe? Crows Never Forget a Face, It Seems By MICHELLE NIJHUIS Published: August 25, 2008 Crows and their relatives — among them ravens, magpies and jays — are renowned for their intelligence and for their ability to flourish in human-dominated landscapes. That ability may have to do with cross-species social skills. In the Seattle area, where rapid suburban growth has attracted a thriving crow population, researchers have found that the birds can recognize individual human faces. John M. Marzluff, a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington, has studied crows and ravens for more than 20 years and has long wondered if the birds could identify individual researchers. Previously trapped birds seemed more wary of particular scientists, and often were harder to catch. “I thought, ‘Well, it’s an annoyance, but it’s not really hampering our work,’ ” Dr. Marzluff said. “But then I thought we should test it directly.” To test the birds’ recognition of faces separately from that of clothing, gait and other individual human characteristics, Dr. Marzluff and two students wore rubber masks. He designated a caveman mask as “dangerous” and, in a deliberate gesture of civic generosity, a Dick Cheney mask as “neutral.” Researchers in the dangerous mask then trapped and banded seven crows on the university’s campus in Seattle. In the months that followed, the researchers and volunteers donned the masks on campus, this time walking prescribed routes and not bothering crows. The crows had not forgotten. They scolded people in the dangerous mask significantly more than they did before they were trapped, even when the mask was disguised with a hat or worn upside down. The neutral mask provoked little reaction. The effect has not only persisted, but also multiplied over the past two years. Wearing the dangerous mask on one recent walk through campus, Dr. Marzluff said, he was scolded by 47 of the 53 crows he encountered, many more than had experienced or witnessed the initial trapping. The researchers hypothesize that crows learn to recognize threatening humans from both parents and others in their flock. After their experiments on campus, Dr. Marzluff and his students tested the effect with more realistic masks. Using a half-dozen students as models, they enlisted a professional mask maker, then wore the new masks while trapping crows at several sites in and around Seattle. The researchers then gave a mix of neutral and dangerous masks to volunteer observers who, unaware of the masks’ histories, wore them at the trapping sites and recorded the crows’ responses. The reaction to one of the dangerous masks was “quite spectacular,” said one volunteer, Bill Pochmerski, a retired telephone company manager who lives near Snohomish, Wash. “The birds were really raucous, screaming persistently,” he said, “and it was clear they weren’t upset about something in general. They were upset with me.” Again, crows were significantly more likely to scold observers who wore a dangerous mask, and when confronted simultaneously by observers in dangerous and neutral masks, the birds almost unerringly chose to persecute the dangerous face. In downtown Seattle, where most passersby ignore crows, angry birds nearly touched their human foes. In rural areas, where crows are more likely to be viewed as noisy “flying rats” and shot, the birds expressed their displeasure from a distance. Though Dr. Marzluff’s is the first formal study of human face recognition in wild birds, his preliminary findings confirm the suspicions of many other researchers who have observed similar abilities in crows, ravens, gulls and other species. The pioneering animal behaviorist Konrad Lorenz was so convinced of the perceptive capacities of crows and their relatives that he wore a devil costume when handling jackdaws. Stacia Backensto, a master’s student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who studies ravens in the oil fields on Alaska’s North Slope, has assembled an elaborate costume — including a fake beard and a potbelly made of pillows — because she believes her face and body are familiar to previously captured birds. Kevin J. McGowan, an ornithologist at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology who has trapped and banded crows in upstate New York for 20 years, said he was regularly followed by birds who have benefited from his handouts of peanuts — and harassed by others he has trapped in the past. Why crows and similar species are so closely attuned to humans is a matter of debate. Bernd Heinrich, a professor emeritus at the University of Vermont known for his books on raven behavior, suggested that crows’ apparent ability to distinguish among human faces is a “byproduct of their acuity,” an outgrowth of their unusually keen ability to recognize one another, even after many months of separation. Dr. McGowan and Dr. Marzluff believe that this ability gives crows and their brethren an evolutionary edge. “If you can learn who to avoid and who to seek out, that’s a lot easier than continually getting hurt,” Dr. Marzluff said. “I think it allows these animals to survive with us — and take advantage of us — in a much safer, more effective way.”

Peru Pan American Champ Needs Funds

From Living in Peru's Pan American chess champ needs funds to travel to Vietnam Living in Peru Israel J. Ruiz August 26, 2008 Due to a lack of support from the Peruvian Sports Institute, Martin Seminario, Peru's Pan American chess champion and his father have been forced to take to the streets and ask strangers for money. In an effort to travel to Vietnam and take part in a world chess championship, the young Peruvian champ and his father are asking for money on the streets of Chiclayo to raise what is needed for plane tickets. The father-son pair began collecting funds on Sunday at a match between Cienciano and Juan Aurich football clubs.While young Martin was supported by those sitting in the stadium's less expensive seats, authorities and businessmen in higher priced seating ignored the Pan American champ, reported El Comercio. Martin's father made a call to all private businessmen to help his son participate in the world championship by helping him raise the $10,000 needed to cover airfare and accommodation costs. The only person in Lambayeque that has helped us is Governor Yehude Simon Munaro, who donated 1,500 soles to pay for our trip, said Martin's father. The young champion had the same problem when he wanted to compete in Argentina, where he won the Pan American title.

Dronavalli Harika

Dronavalli Harika won the gold medal at the recently concluded World Juniors Chess Championships (Girls) with 10.5/13, finishing 1.5 points ahead of her nearest competitor. Chessbase has an interview with Dronavalli and, at the end of the article, a list of some of Dronavalli's accomplishments (cut short at 2004, perhaps copied from a website that has not updated the list in quite a while!)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Irene Kharisma at Malyasian Open

From The Irene best women's player in Malaysia KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia's Irene Kharisma was declared the best women's player at the Malaysia Open chess tournament, which ended in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, a release said. Women's International Master (WIM) Irene, who on Saturday was assured of a GM norm, defeated Igor Goldenberg of Australia on Sunday to earn overall points of 7.5 from 11 rounds. Achieving a GM norm puts Irene one step away from attaining a full GM title. GM Li Chao of China won the tournament with 9 points, followed by GM Zhang Zhong of Singapore with 8.5 points. Indonesian chess star Susanto Megaranto was in a group of five players with 8 points, and, after a Solkoff tiebreaker, ended up fourth below Marat Dzhumaev of Uzbekistan, said Kristianus Lien, Indonesian Chess Association (Percasi) spokesman. --JP

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Senet Image from 6th Dynasty Tomb

I found this tonight while scooting around the Louvre website and using their search feature - it's all in French though and my French (learned in high school eons ago) is not up to the task!
Peintures du tombeau de Métchétchi vers 2350 avant J.-C. (début 6e dynastie) Saqqara ?
By guesswork and deduction more than my skills as a translator, I believe this is from the Tomb of Metchetchi, about 2350 BCE, Egyptian 6th Dynasty (Old Kingdom), possibly from Saqqara.
This tomb painting of two people playing Senet is part of a series of scenes showing Metchetchi in a variety of domestic situations - with his wife, with his children (sons and daughters), his daughters playing musical instruments, his sons engaged in various activities, Metchetchi and his wife on a boat, etc.
6th Dynasty is incredibly old but, even more incredibly, this tomb painting showing Senet is about 1,000 years younger than some of the oldest senet boards excavated in Egypt.

Squirrel to Protect Chessplayers in Nalchik

Breaking news from Armed and dangerous: a squirrel from an undisclosed country is headed to Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkar Republic, Russia, CNN has learned, to protect any chessplayers who show up for the Women's World Chess Championship scheduled to begin in Nalchik on August 28, 2008. Thus far, ten percent of the invited chessplayers have chosen to withdraw from the lucrative championship rather than risk travelling to and staying in the unstable Caucasus region. Sources within FIDE (the International Chess Federation) who declined to give their names because they have not been authorized to speak with the press, have informed CNN that the warrior squirrel was hired as a last ditch effort by FIDE presiden Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to "save" the WWCC from increasing world wide concern about the safety of the female contestants travelling to an area in such close proximity to Georgia, which was invaded by Russian forces on August 7, 2008. Nalchik itself was the site of terrorist attacks in 2005. Ilyumzhinov took the step, sources say, to stop the spread of condemnation for FIDE's perceived capitulation to the Russians and refusal to address the concerns of Georgian chessplayers published in an "open" letter at a popular internet web site, on August 12, 2008. "Fearless Leader does not wish to be seen as one with weak-knees," said one source." He continued "Therefore, FL has hired relative of Rocky Flying Squirrel, graduate of Rambo Training School in Annapolis, Maryland, USA, to protect women chessplayers from all threats."

Maoists Move to Abolish Living Goddess Custom

What a bunch of party-poopers. What is wrong with maintaining an ancient religious tradition - oh, I forgot - these dudes are MAOISTS. They don't believe in anything except communist corruption. From the Randeep Ramesh, South Asia correspondent Thursday August 21 2008 Nepal: Goddess has right to go to school A centuries-old custom in Nepal of worshipping a virgin girl-child residing in a palace as a "living goddess" has been scrapped after it was branded outdated by the supreme court, which ruled that the "deity" must go to school. Religious authorities are searching for a new Kumari - chosen from a handful of three-year-olds - after it was revealed the current living goddess would retire later this year. Such a process looks likely to be scrapped, however, after the country's highest court accepted arguments that keeping a girl locked up in a medieval palace in the capital, Kathmandu, breached her fundamental rights. "There should be no bar on the Kumaris from going to school ... as there are no historical and religious documents restricting Kumaris from enjoying child rights," the supreme court said. Analysts said the ruling was in response to a new atmosphere in the Himalayan nation under former rebels, now ruling Maoists, who are determined to end feudal practices. Kumaris, which are revered until they menstruate, preside over key Hindu festivals in Nepal. The tradition was started in the 16th century by the Nepali monarchy, which believed the girl would protect them. Attributes are said to include a voice "as soft and clear as a duck's, the body of a Banyan tree and the chest of a lion". One of the first acts of the Maoist government was to scrap the 240-year-old monarchy. It was custom for Nepal's king to be blessed by the Kumari, whose horoscope had to match that of the monarch. Maoist MPs have described the institution as an "evil symbol", although some would say a Kumari's life is not too harsh: she can eat what she likes and act with impunity. Her parents are not allowed to tell her off.

Supporting Local Chess: Announcements

MARYLAND From the Chess The Elkridge library, 6540 Washington Blvd., sponsors a chess club for ages 13 and older from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Players of all abilities are welcome, but they must know how to play chess. Snacks will be provided. 410-313-5077. From the (different edition) The South Laurel Recreation Council is accepting registration for fall classes, which begin Sept. 13 and thereafter. Chess classes will be held in South Laurel elementary schools and at the Montpelier Neighborhood Park. Information or registration: 301-776-2805, or stop by the Deerfield Run Community Center on Route 197 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The registration deadline is Sept. 10. TEXAS (Fort Worth) From the Northeast Tarrant Community Calendar Tuesday (August 26, 2008) NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Watauga Chess Club, 7 p.m., North Richland Hills Parks and Recreation, 6720 NE Loop 820. Free. Wednesday (August 27, 2008) WATAUGA — Chess club, 3-5 p.m. Watauga Public Library, 7109 Whitley Road. Ages 5-18. 817-831-6465. Thursday (August 28, 2008) KELLER — Chess and other board games, 2-3:30 p.m., Keller Public Library, 640 Johnson Road. 817-743-4841. ILLINOIS From Tuesday (September 9, 2008) Chess club Steger-South Chicago Heights Public Library, 54 E. 31st St., Steger, offers a chess club from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month. Beginners can join the club. Registration: (708) 755-5040. From (different edition) Saturday (September 6, 2008) chess/scraBble Homewood Public Library, 17917 Dixie Highway, hosts open chess and Scrabble for participants of all ages and abilities from noon to 4 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of every month. Information: (708) 798-0121, Ext. 222. GEORGIA From A different way to get involved in chess - this agency is looking for volunteers to play chess with blind people: Savannah Association for the Blind The organization is looking for volunteers to help at the agency, located at 214 Drayton St., as well as in the homes of some of the group's clients. Some activities volunteers participate in include manning the Talking Books Library, bowling with clients, playing chess and other board games, writing grant proposals for the agency, grocery shopping, assisting with writing and paying bills and more. Call 232-6048. CANADA West Vancouver From the North Shore News Another opportunity to volunteer and play chess: Chess players are needed at Parkgate Community Centre. Info: 604-983-6376. PENNSYLVANIA From Chess, 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Perkins Restaurant, 2175 Lincoln Highway. Call Bill Dillon, 396-0097. IOWA (Keokuk) From the Monday (August 25, 2008) Tri-State Chess Club - 7 p.m., Keokuk Hy-Vee, 3111 Main St. Open to all levels of play.

Treasure hunter finds medieval diamond ring

Article by Jessica Salter Last Updated: 12:19PM BST 21 Aug 2008 John Stevens, 42, from Hinckley saw that the ring had lettering when he brushed the mud off that indicated it was from the early medieval period, possibly the 11th century. The ring has not yet been valued but is thought it could be worth tens of thousands of pounds. Antiquities specialist Brett Hammond said: "It was clearly an important item of treasure. It is a gold ring possibly containing a rare black diamond. "It is a beautiful early medieval inscribed finger ring that would have been owned by a very wealthy person, in the Church or possible even royalty. "Common people in that era were not even allowed to own gold, so it must have been owned by a powerful person." Black diamonds are rare today and would have been even rarer nearly 1,000 years ago, having come from Africa. Mr Stevens said he was with friends in a ploughed field when he came across the ring about five inches down. He said: "It is boldly inscribed with lettering that certainly looks very early medieval to my untrained eye. "I don't know yet what the letters spell out, but if they indicate a royal owner it might be worth tens of thousand of pounds."

Gold Pendant Discovered by Metal Detectorist

Metal detector find dates back 1,500 years Published Tuesday August 19, 2008 by Gerry Warren When a Kent metal detecting enthusiast found something in a field of stubble he thought it looked interesting...and he was right! The gold pendant he discovered dated back more than 1,500 years and has been declared treasure trove. Fork lift truck driver Andy Sales, from Deal, found the ancient artefact near Worth. A coroner has declared the item treasure trove after an expert from the British Museum examined and dated it to between 491-518 AD. In his report to the hearing, the curator in early medieval coinage, Dr Gareth Williams, said it was a gold tremissis bearing the image of the Byzantine emperor, Anastasius the First. But he said the coin was actually not Byzantine but a later visogothic imitation. Mr Sales, 43, has been metal detecting for 25 years. He said: "I have found all sorts of stuff including Roman and Saxon broaches and coins but nothing that has been declared treasure trove before. I still don't know if it's of any great value."
Hmmm, I don't know about you, but on this view of the coin/pendant, it doesn't look like an emperor's image to me! For one thing, there are too many appendages...
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