Saturday, June 13, 2009

2009 Susan Polgar World Open for Girls

This tournament attracts players from all over the country and is held in conjunction with the National Open and the Susan Polgar World Open for Boys. This year held at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 4-6, 2009. The winners of each section in the Girls' event earned an invitation to the Susan Polgar National Invitational, which will take place July 26 - 31, 2009 at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas. The lovely young ladies who won are (from right to left): Linda Diaz (NY), Joanne Koong (CA), Brianna Guillen (TX), Emily Nguyen (TX), Christina Kao (CA). Photo: from Susan Polgar's blog. In addition, scholarships to Texas Tech University valued at $36,000 were each awarded to Sayaka Foley (AZ) (not pictured), Linda Diaz (NY), and Joanne Koong (CA). Congratulations to each of the winners! Here are the players and their standings in each of the Girls sections: Under 19 No. Ttl Name Team St Rate Pts 1 Diaz,Linda V NY 1817 5.0 2 Foley,Sayaka B WC001 AZ 1707 4.0 3 Delamerced,Anna Cusi OH 1443 3.0 4 Hoang,Cindy K TK001 NM 1145 3.0 5 Sierra,Lily TK001 NM 1116 3.0 6 He,Stephanie MD 1113 3.0 7 Perez,Bernadette Anne TX 853 2.0 8 Sanchez,Audrey Racquel TM001 TX 480 2.0 9 Drake,Kristen Marie VCR01 ID 738 2.0 10 Zheng,Emily CA 659 2.0 11 Gonzalez,Victoria UH001 TX 466 1.0 Under 14 No. Ttl Name Team St Rate Pts 1 Koong,Joanne CA 1617 5.0 2 Lampman,Becca Marie Xiufang WA 810 4.0 3 Ukoli,Elizabeth TX 1181 3.5 4 Treiman,Lauren UT 1288 3.0 5 Wang,Willa BC001 CA 1074 3.0 6 Anthopoulos,Shelley CA 1099 3.0 7 Zhou,Diana CA 885 3.0 8 Baker,Katherine TX 1137 2.5 9 Martinez,Alexia LC NV 972 2.5 10 Pemsler,Carmen VCR01 ID 606 2.5 11 Tisserand,Cecilia CG001 LA 777 2.5 12 Nicklen,Frances IV001 CA 756 2.5 13 Patterson,Katie Rae VCR01 ID 742 2.0. 14 Lambert,Maria Luisa IV001 CA 788 2.0 15 Walia,Sakshi IA001 CA 1019 1.5 16 Zheng,Belle BC001 CA 501 1.5 17 Simonyan,Yelena CA 641 1.0 Under 11 No. Ttl Name Team St Rate Pts 1 Kao,Christina IA001 CA 1345 4.5 2 Guillen,Brianna A BR001 TX 1249 4.5 3 Mortera,Victoria BR001 TX 1191 4.0 4 Cancio,Aiya CE101 AZ 1006 4.0 5 Eng,Rachael CE101 AZ 1349 4.0 6 Lu,Jennifer BC001 CA 1106 4.0 7 Chawla,Alisha NC001 CA 1250 4.0 8 Geary,Colleen UC001 AZ 355 3.5 9 Chang,Evangeline WA 1051 3.0 10 Deng,Queena BC001 CA 1329 3.0 11 Trang,Yvonne U TX 1059 3.0 12 Shao,Stephanie BC001 CA 1133 3.0 13 Provine,Shayna IL 481 3.0 14 Lambert,Adriana Valeria IV001 CA 423 3.0 15 Torres,Arissa Jade IA001 CA 1036 3.0 16 Wang,Ashley DU001 CA 460 3.0 17 Cardenas,Christalia AP001 TX 953 3.0 18 Wu,Iris Y S BC001 CA 897 3.0 19 Homidan,Jesslyn BC001 CA 734 3.0 20 Min,Kathy CD001 ID 500 3.0 21 Chillakanti,Mahima NC001 CA 579 3.0 22 Guillen,Sarai Alejandra BR001 TX 1162 2.5 23 Marquez,Alexis I BR001 TX 721 2.5 24 Lahoti,Nandna CE101 AZ 853 2.0 25 Mata,Isabel M TV001 IL 802 2.0 26 Lalonde,Arianna M WC001 AZ 206 2.0 27 Salvaryan,Alice CA 864 2.0 28 Alba-jimenez,Sandra Michelle AL001 TX 517 2.0 29 Mata,Victoria A TV001 IL 847 2.0 30 Morrison,Carrie CE001 AZ 101 2.0 31 Garcia,Bethamee Kyoko IV001 CA 235 2.0 32 Mann,Nicole CE001 AZ 395 2.0 33 Lopez,Jessica Anne HC001 CA 287 2.0 34 Jin,Carol CD001 ID 442 2.0 35 Deangelis,Olivia Raine VCR01 ID 2.0 36 Tam,Kayleen Alejandra ID 342 2.0 37 Tegtmeyer,Sara SV001 NV 395 1.5 38 Drake,Jolie Michele VCR01 ID 293 1.0 39 Sussman,Allison J TV001 IL 131 1.0 40 Chillakanti,Kirthi NC001 CA 204 1.0 41 Tanner,Cassandra J AZ 231 1.0 42 Ray,Cody Belle AZ 1.0 43 Ervin,Haley S CE001 AZ 188 1.0 44 Liu,Esther CA 177 0.0 Under 8 No. Ttl Name Team St Rate Pts 1 Nguyen,Emily Quynh CC001 TX 952 5.0 2 Ho,Desiree CA 858 4.0 3 Duffy,Madisyn CO 3.0 4 Yu,Jennifer R BC001 CA 737 3.0 5 Peterson,Gia CA 191 3.0 6 Bepar,Naisha WI 754 2.0 7 Barkemeyer,Jessica CO 2.0 Karabanoff,Evelyn CC002 TX 721 2.0 Van Voorhis, Kathe NV 331 0.5 10 Yang,Zhenni Jennie AZ 102 0.5

Iranian Girls U-20 Chess Championship

While the world was focused on the drama of a "democratic" (ahem) presidential election in Iran, chess femmes who live there were busy playing some serious chess. Now we know the election was rigged because Mr. "Imabadman" won with about 2/3rds of the vote, in a country where more than a third of the voters are under the age of 20. Hmmm. Did they get lost on their way to the polls after their text-messenging was cut off? Well, I don't care a whit about Iranian politics. I do care about their chess femmes. This event was held on May 26, 2009. It appears to have been 3 rounds, but only 2 rounds have been reported at chess-results.com. What I find particularly encouraging for the future of women's chess in Iran, is that 20 of the 37 young women who played in this event entered with no FIDE rating! Rank after Round 2 Rk. Name FED Rtg Club/City Pts. 1 Saeidpour Mona IRI 1829 Tehran 2,0 2 Vakilpour Azin IRI 1819 Gilan 2,0 3 WFM Hejazipour Mitra IRI 2097 Kh. Razavi 2,0   Alavi Homa IRI 1916 Tehran 2,0 Rahimi Tara IRI 1862 Golestan 2,0 6 Vardkar Mariam IRI 1811 Kh. Razavi 2,0 7 Asgarizadeh Minoo IRI 1947 Tehran 2,0 8 Azadvari Zahra IRI 1833 Tehran 1,5 9 Bagheri Taleghani Nadia IRI 1783 Tehran 1,5 10 Khalaji Hanieh IRI 1914 Tehran 1,5 11 Derakhshani Dorsa IRI 1749 Tehran 1,5 12 Farhadyar Kiana IRI 0 Tehran 1,0 13 Ghayebi Maral IRI 0 Mazandaran 1,0 14 Afshar Niusha IRI 1807 Tehran 1,0   Hakimifard Raana IRI 1784 Tehran 1,0 16 Seyfikar Sima IRI 0 Hamedan 1,0 17 Ghaemmaghami Pegah IRI 1580 Tehran 1,0   Sayyadi Parisa IRI 0 Golestan 1,0 19 Moradi Kimia IRI 1802 Tehran 1,0 20 Rashvand Avehei Negar IRI 0 Karadj 1,0 21 Azizi Khatere IRI 0 Gilan 1,0 22 Nikrou Noushin IRI 1555 Karadj 1,0   Omidian Nasab Shadi IRI 0 Tehran 1,0 24 Davoodi Yasaman IRI 0 Hormozgan 0,5 25 Moheimani Shadi IRI 0 Golestan 0,5 26 Khandan Zahra IRI 0 Golestan 0,0 27 Eftekhari S Mehrnaz IRI 0 Gilan 0,0   Mirzaei Negar IRI 0 Tehran 0,0 29 Ghaziolsharif Kimiya IRI 0 Tehran 0,0   Rezaei Panah Maedeh IRI 0 Tehran 0,0 31 Zare Zahra IRI 0 Yazd 0,0 32 Najafi Morvarid IRI 0 Tehran 0,0   Sadoughi Solmaz IRI 0 Tehran 0,0 34 Assadi Sara IRI 0 Tehran 0,0   Ghafouri Sima IRI 0 Tehran 0,0 36 Hamidi Kousha Nazli IRI 0 Hamedan 0,0 37 WFM Hakimifard Ghazal IRI 2072 Tehran 0,0

2009 Maia Chiburdanidze Cup

International Open Women Chess Tournament Maia Chiburdanidze Cup 04.06-14.06.2009 Tbilisi, Chess Palace (Georgia, 0179 Tbilisi, M.Kostava str. 37a). I'm on the hunt for current standings. Unfortunately, the official website link doesn't work and I couldn't find this tournament at chess-results.com. Here's the full list of participants (from Susan Polgar's blog): RANK ID_No NAME TITLE WT FED RAT GAME BIRTHDATE SEX -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1) 13601903 Dzagnidze, Nana.............. g wg GEO 2541 24 01.01.1987 w 2) 14111330 Muzychuk, Anna............... m wg SLO 2533 28.02.1990 w 3) 13300601 Mkrtchian, Lilit............. m mg ARM 2479 09.08.1982 w 4) 13601458 Javakhishvili, Lela.......... m wg GEO 2463 0 23.04.1984 w 5) 13600656 Lomineishvili, Maia.......... m wg GEO 2447 22 11.11.1977 w 6) 14114550 Muzychuk, Mariya............. m mg UKR 2441 21.09.1992 w 7) 13602446 Melia, Salome................ m wg GEO 2440 31 14.04.1987 w 8) 13602055 Khukhashvili, Sopiko......... m wg GEO 2424 26 04.01.1985 w 9) 13600320 Khurtsidze, Nino............. m wg GEO 2424 22 28.09.1975 w 10) 13601440 Gvetadze, Sopio.............. m wg GEO 2364 22 15.11.1983 w 11) 13602640 Khotenashvili, Bela.......... wg wg GEO 2364 18 01.06.1988 w 12) 13601431 Charkhalashvili, Inga........ wg wg GEO 2363 30 23.04.1983 w 13) 13602659 Purtseladze, Maka............ m wg GEO 2327 9 18.02.1988 w 14) 13602888 Guramishvili, Sopiko......... wm wm GEO 2325 38 01.01.1991 w 15) 13301314 Galojan, Lilit............... wg wg ARM 2323 17.06.1983 w 16) 1206435 Hamdouchi, Adina-Maria....... wg wg ROU 2314 25.08.1979 w 17) 13602993 Batsiashvili, Nino........... wg wg GEO 2300 26 01.01.1987 w 18) 13603108 Mikadze, Miranda............. wm wm GEO 2290 11 18.09.1989 w 19) 13600737 Tqeshelashvili, Sopio........ wg wg GEO 2276 0 23.10.1979 w 20) 13600486 Tereladze, Sopiko............ wm wm GEO 2276 0 06.09.1972 w 21) 13600419 Khurtsilava, Inga............ wm wm GEO 2270 0 17.04.1975 w 22) 1205480 Ionica, Iulia-Ionela......... wg wg ROU 2266 04.07.1980 w 23) 13604040 Arabidze, Meri............... wf wf GEO 2258 22 25.02.1994 w 24) 13603434 Tsatsalashvili, Keti......... wm wm GEO 2254 38 10.06.1992 w 25) 13601926 Andriasian, Siranush......... wm wm ARM 2235 04.01.1986 w 26) 13600346 Khmiadashvili, Tamar......... wg wg GEO 2216 0 27.11.1944 w 27) 13600427 Nikoladze, Sopio............. wm wm GEO 2211 0 02.12.1973 w 28) 13602586 Gavasheli, Ana............... wm wm GEO 2202 0 06.03.1987 w 29) 13602560 Vakhania, Alexandra.......... GEO 2150 8 01.12.1986 w 30) 13604031 Zhorzholiani, Meri........... wf wf GEO 2135 0 20.07.1990 w 31) 13603663 Bokuchava, Madona............ wf wf GEO 2120 9 30.10.1990 w 32) 13601164 Tsalughelashvili, Lile....... wf wf GEO 2113i 0 28.09.1979 w 33) 13600397 Melashvili, Nino............. GEO 2100i 0 04.10.1961 w 34) 13602810 Meskhi, Teona................ GEO 2065 9 03.01.1989 w 35) 13603248 Mzhavia, Kristine............ GEO 2059i 0 14.02.1989 w 36) 13601911 Tandashvili, Margarita....... GEO 2055i 0 19.11.1958 w 37) 13603400 Beridze, Tinatin............. GEO 2054 0 08.03.1991 w 38) 13604252 Jalabadze, Natia............. GEO 2041 22 01.03.1994 w 39) 13604643 Rizhamadze, Patman........... GEO 1991 13 08.12.1992 w 40) 13605224 Goglidze, Eka................ GEO 1942 0 28.06.1991 w 41) 13605518 Unapkoshvili, Nani........... GEO 1930 23 05.07.1995 w 42) 13603221 Kalandadze, Nino............. GEO 1925 0 17.12.1988 w 43) 13605348 Kuchava, Ana................. GEO 1922 19 22.03.1995 w 44) 13600974 Imnadze, Nato................ GEO 1885 24 04.05.1996 w 45) 13605470 Tevzadze, Mariam............. GEO 1836 6 23.03.1993 w 46) 13600940 Gogishvili, Dea.............. GEO 1810 26 19.02.1996 w 47) 13601580 Kobeshavidze, Lika........... GEO 1803 34 22.02.1995 w 48) 13605356 Macharashvili, Tekla......... GEO 1786 18 31.01.1996 w 49) 13403729 Mammadzade, Gunay............ AZE 1764 19.06.2000 w 50) 13609335 Kankia, Mariami.............. GEO 1743 0 04.10.1990 w 51) 13603191 Khomeriki, Nino.............. GEO 1625 11 10.03.1998 w 52) 13600990 Liparteliani, Ana............ GEO 1562 16 29.01.1996 w 53) 13605569 Valishvili, Mariam........... GEO 1542 13 21.09.1996 w 54) 13605259 Imnadze, Nino................ GEO 09.09.1960 w 55) 13607847 Shubitidze, Mariam........... GEO 25.08.1999 w 56) 13603515 Tedoshvili, Ana.............. GEO 11.09.1998 w 57) 13606018 Tsomaia, Ia.................. GEO 28.05.1997 w ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Here's a report on standings from The Week in Chess reported on June 8, 2009 (after Round 3 of 9): Maia Chiburdanidze Cup Tbilisi (GEO), 5-12 vi 2009 Leading Round 3 of 9 Standings: Pl Name Ti NAT Elo Pts 1 Muzychuk, Mariya m UKR 2441 3 2 Khotenashvili, Bela wg GEO 2364 3 3 Muzychuk, Anna m SLO 2533 2.5 4 Mkrtchian, Lilit m ARM 2479 2.5 5 Khukhashvili, Sopiko m GEO 2424 2.5 6 Purtseladze, Maka m GEO 2327 2.5 7 Galojan, Lilit wg ARM 2323 2.5 8 Andriasian, Siranush wm ARM 2235 2.5 9 Dzagnidze, Nana g GEO 2541 2.5 10 Melia, Salome m GEO 2440 2.5 11 Batsiashvili, Nino wg GEO 2300 2 12 Arabidze, Meri wf GEO 2258 2 13 Charkhalashvili, Inga wg GEO 2363 2 14 Guramishvili, Sopiko wm GEO 2325 2 15 Khmiadashvili, Tamar wg GEO 2216 2 16 Melashvili, Nino GEO 2100 2 17 Javakhishvili, Lela m GEO 2463 2 18 Gvetadze, Sopio m GEO 2364 2 19 Hamdouchi, Adina-Maria wg ROU 2314 2 20 Tsatsalashvili, Keti wm GEO 2254 2 21 Gavasheli, Ana wm GEO 2202 2 22 Beridze, Tinatin GEO 2054 2 23 Lomineishvili, Maia m GEO 2447 2 24 Khurtsidze, Nino m GEO 2424 2 25 Vakhania, Alexandra GEO 2150 2 26 Macharashvili, Tekla GEO 1786 2 27 Mikadze, Miranda wm GEO 2290 1.5 57 players

Bat Girl and Chess

I don't remember if I've written about Sarah a/k/a Bat Girl and her website, Sarah's Chess Journal. It's a fascinating collection of information about chess players and chess history. I don't know why she is Bat Girl, but then, most people don't understand why I'm sometimes called Jan Xena :) After awhile it just gets to be too much to keep explaining over and over... Check out Bat Girl's archives. I'm adding her site to my list of links - she is in very exclusive company there, darlings! (ok, you can stop laughing now) P.S. I don't know who Bat Girl is, we've never "met" online or otherwise. I can only say this about her: she sure does now how to do research!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Night Miscellany

A short (very short) version, as I'm tired and it's time to go lay my head upon my pillow and dream sweet dreams... From The Daily Grail - all answers given without reading the article in question) Is Stonehenge a gateway to the infinite? (Answer: Yes) We all have fingerprints… ever wonder why? (Answer: No) What’s in a name? Heavyweight, unstable Element 112 has an identity crisis. (Answer: Is it undergoing menopause?) Startup turns human waste into fuel… No sh*t? (Answer: People have been burning dried-up poop in various forms for thousands of years. Now someone has finally figured out a way to make money from it??? Duh!) Good night.

2009 Ukrainian Women's Chess Championship

Final standings, information from The Week in Chess: ch-UKR w Evpatoria (UKR), 23-31 v 2009   1. Doluhanova, Evgeniya wg UKR 2240 7½ 2436 2. Vasilevich, Tatjana m UKR 2399 7½ 2437 3. Kalinina, Olga wm UKR 2159 7 2421 4. Shvayger, Yuliya wf UKR 2160 6 2227 5. Breslavska, Galina wf UKR 2202 6 2195 6. Arutyunova, Diana wg UKR 2264 5½ 2162 7. Tsirulnik, Maritsa  UKR 2094 5½ 2223 8. Aslanian, Ludmila K wm UKR 2145 5½ 2191 9. Dolzhikova, Kateryna wm UKR 2291 5½ 2120 10. Andrenko, Irina   UKR 2201 5½ 2091 11. Huda, Maryana wg UKR 2247 5 2180 12. Ostroverkhova, Elena   UKR 2036 5 2265 13. Kostiukova, Liubov m UKR 2220 5 2112 14. Gritsayeva, Oksana wf UKR 2325 5 2178 15. Zingaylo, Anastasiya   UKR 2092 5 2140 16. Korniyuk, Mariya   UKR 2043 5 2234 17. Goreskul, Alyona wg UKR 2248 5 2086 18. Horoschavina, Olga  UKR 2073 5 2131 19. Kol'ba, Anastasiya UKR 1845 5 2103 20. Mamedova, Leila  UKR 2003 4½ 2082 21. Krasiuk, Kateryna UKR 2035 4½ 2085 22. Ivanenko, Olga I UKR 2002 4½ 2147 23. Orlyanskaya, Darya wf UKR 2053 4½ 2158 24. Tantsiura, Marja UKR 2008 4½ 2055 25. Rakhmangulova, Anastasiya UKR 2069 4½ 2099 26. Cherednichenko, Elena wf UKR 2134 4½ 2054 27. Yushko, Olga  UKR 2113 4½ 2073 28. Bogdan, Darya UKR 1929 4½ 2007 29. Barantseva, Alexandra UKR 1892 4 1996 30. Zingaylo, Antonina UKR 1671 4 1991 31. Petrova, Irina wf UKR 1986 3½ 1961 32. Rudakova, Zhanetta UKR 2026 3½ 1964 33. Feduk, Ivanna UKR 1962 3½ 1967 34. Bezkorovaina, Marija UKR 1875 3½ 1907 35. Trofimova, Anastasiy UKR 1984 3½ 1964 36. Antoshkiv, Anastasiya UKR ---- 3½ 1931 (comes in without a FIDE rating and goes home with 1931 ELO!) 37. Kravchenko, Yana UKR 2046 3 1907 38. Gnidash, Natalia   UKR ---- 3 1856 (see comment for 36) 39. Feduk, Irina UKR 1947 3 1853 40. Shitjuk, Bogdana   UKR ---- 3 1823 (see comments for 36 and 38) 41. Potapova, Margarita UKR ---- 1 1647 (see comments for 36, 38, and 40) 42. BYE

Engraved Pigments Point to Ancient Symbol Tradition

Hello Ece, are you reading this? This one is just for you. Story from Sciencenews.org Engraved pigments point to ancient symbolic tradition Incisions on ochre from a South African cave suggest modern human behavior emerged around 100,000 years ago (Image: Geometric patterns incised on pieces of ancient pigment, such as these 100,000-year-old finds, may reveal the surprisingly ancient origins of modern human behavior.Credit: Courtesy of C. Henshilwood and F. d’Errico) By Bruce Bower Web edition : 1:03 pm Scientists excavating a Stone Age cave on South Africa’s southern coast have followed a trail of engraved pigments to what they suspect are the ancient roots of modern human behavior. Analyses of 13 chunks of decorated red ochre (an iron oxide pigment) from Blombos Cave indicate that a cultural tradition of creating meaningful geometric designs stretched from around 100,000 to 75,000 years ago in southern Africa, say anthropologist Christopher Henshilwood of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and his colleagues. Their report appears online and in an upcoming Journal of Human Evolution. Much debate surrounds the issue of when and where language, religion, symbolic decorations and other facets of modern human behavior originated. Researchers such as Henshilwood hypothesize that modern human behavior developed gradually in Africa, beginning more than 100,000 years ago. Others posit that a brain-boosting genetic mutation around 50,000 years ago fostered modern behavior in Africa. Some researchers suspect that behavioral advances first appeared in Europe, Asia and Africa at that later time. Possible examples of symbolic behavior from around 100,000 years ago — such as proposed human burials in the Middle East and pigment use in Africa — have been controversial. "What makes the Blombos engravings different is that some of them appear to represent a deliberate will to produce a complex abstract design," Henshilwood says. “We have not before seen well-dated and unambiguous traces of this kind of behavior at 100,000 years ago.” Further studies need to confirm that the ancient incisions were not the result of, say, slicing into ochre with stone tools in order to remove powder quickly, cautions anthropologist Curtis Marean of Arizona State University in Tempe, who studies ancient human behavior at another South African cave (SN: 10/20/07, p. 243). [Anyone looking at the patterns scored into the small pigment stones would probably conclude otherwise. One would not have to score a specific geometric pattern into a pigment stone in order to remove colored pigment to mix paint. Any way of pulverizing pigment off the stone would do, including just making gouges. This is just common sense.] Even if the Blombos pigments contain intentional designs, fully modern human behavior — such as the use of figurative art (SN: 6/20/09, p. 11) — didn’t emerge until tens of thousands of years later, contends archaeologist Nicholas Conard of the University of Tuebingen, Germany. [Hmmm, could this contention possibly have anything to do with the fact that, for instance, the Willendorf Venus was found in Germany, and dates to c. 35,000 years ago?] Henshilwood and study coauthor Francesco d’Errico of the University of Bordeaux I in Talence, France, disagree. In their view, the Blombos pigments bear intentionally fashioned designs that held some sort of meaning and were passed down the generations for 25,000 years. Thus, the two researchers say, it’s likely that a 100,000-year-old society already steeped in symbolic behavior originally produced the ochre engravings. In 2002, Henshilwood’s team described evidence of symbolic engravings on two other ochre pieces from Blombos Cave. Those 77,000-year-old finds were excavated in 1999 and 2000. Engraved chunks of pigment in the new analysis were unearthed during the same excavations. Specimens came from either of three sediment levels with estimated ages of 72,000 years, 77,000 years and 100,000 years. A microscopic analysis indicates that ochre designs were made by holding a piece of pigment with one hand while impressing lines into the pigment with the tip of a stone tool. On several pieces, patterns covered areas that had first been ground down. Geometric patterns on the ochre pieces include cross-hatched designs, branching lines, parallel lines and right angles. [See images at beginning of article]. Pigment powder had also been removed from many of the recovered ochre chunks. Incised patterns may have served as models for pigment designs applied to animal skins or other material, the scientists speculate. Excavations of Blombos Cave sediment from before 100,000 years ago have begun. “The discovery of more, and perhaps even more striking, engravings is very possible,” Henshilwood says. [That remains to be seen...]

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nine mysteries of Emperor Qin Shihuang's tomb

Amazing how 8's and 9's keep cropping up time and time again in ancient board game iconography. Story from the People's Daily Online. I don't know why Questions 5 through 7 were left blank with no answers - not even an attempt at answers. Really bad form, People's Daily Online! Bad form! 17:09, June 11, 2009 The silent guardians of the tomb of Chinese emperor Qinshihuang are among the most important archeological finds of the 20th century. In the more than three decades since the underground legions of Terra Cotta Warriors were unearthed, millions from China and around the world have visited this eighth wonder of the world. However, until now there are still many mysteries about the tomb of Qinshihuang, which leave limitless space for people's imagination. Here are the nine most frequently questioned ones. First: How deep is the underground palace? According to history books like Shih Chi where the author Si Maqian comments, "down through three streams of spring", it is believed that the underground palace of Qin Shihuang's tomb is much deeper than can be reached. But how deep is it? That is still an unresolved question today. Second: How many doors dose the underground palace have? Actually the answer to the number of underground palace doors was put in Shih Chi thousands of years ago. However, it did not get attention from scholars. Third: Is it true that the palace has many astronomical and geographical scenes? According to what is recorded in the Shih Chi, the underground palace has many astronomical and geographical scenes. Is it true or not? Or, do the descriptions about the palace have some other meanings? Fourth: Does mercury really exit in the palace or not? The Shih Chi says Qin Shihuang created rivers and seas with mercury. And similar words appear in Han Shu, too. However, we may never know the truth about it. Fifth: How many rare jewels and precious stones did the palace seal and what are they? Sixth: Was the coffin of Qin Shihuang made from copper or wood? Seventh: Whether the underground palace has empty space or not? Eighth: About the automatic transmitter. It is well known that Qin Shihuang had spent huge efforts on preventing thieves. According to the Shih Chi, there is hidden equipment that can launch crossbows automatically to kill intruders. If this passage of words is true, that equipment could be the earliest automatic theft-proof equipment Ninth: Is the body of Qin Shihuang well-preserved? The well-preserved female mummified body discovered in the 1970s gave the whole world a great shock. Since that woman would have been alive around the same time as Qin Shihuang, people started to think of the possibility of a mummified Qin Shihuang. However, all the mysteries are still unknown until such time as the underground palace can be revealed before the people. By People's Daily Online

"Schoolgirls" Clinch Victory!

Yeah, but these are not your ordinary schoolgirls :) Story at http://www.star.co.uk/ (serving South Yorkshire) (Photo from story: Winners: Francesca Fozard, Amy Greenhough, Rebekah Brown, Evie Hollingworth, Anna Cunningham and Megumi Parbrook) Schoolgirls clinch victory in national chess championship Published Date: 11 June 2009 By Richard Marsden BRAINY schoolgirls from South Yorkshire tested their tactics and concentration to the limit to win a national chess championship. Evie Hollingworth, aged 14, and Megumi Parbrook, 11, from Sheffield, Francesca Fozard, 13, from Barnsley, and Anna Cunningham, 11, from Rotherham, made up two-thirds of the victorious under 14s girls Yorkshire team. They were joined by Rebekah Brown, 14, from Leeds, and Amy Greenhough, 13, from Bradford, to win the day-long contest in Leicestershire. Opponents were from Lincolnshire, Worcestershire, Kent, and reigning eight-times champions Surrey. The competition involved three rounds of games lasting almost two hours each. Yorkshire got off to a stunning start, winning every match in the first round and remaining undefeated in the second with four wins and two draws. Going into the last round, the team was two points ahead of Kent and after losing two games, it came down to a nailbiting finish resting on the result of the last game – Yorkshire against Kent. Delighted team manager John Hipshon said: "It was a thrilling and tense finish. A victory for either player would have resulted in their team taking the title but our player kept her cool under pressure and won. "It was a very tough competition at a high standard. To come away with the trophy is a real achievement."

Iryna Zenyuk Simul

WFM Iryna Zenyuk will be giving a simul on June 13, 2009 at the Jackson (Wyoming) Chess Club, starting at 5:30 p.m., as part of a tournament scheduled for that day: Rounds will begin at 9 and 11 a.m., and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. at 3155 Beech Bluff Road. Directions and a map are available at the club's Web site, jacksontnchessclub.com. Registration will be from 8 to 8:30 a.m. on site for $35. A variety of food and beverages are included in the entry fee. All participants in the tournament will be able to take part in the simul. Full article. Iryna, who moved to the United States in 2001, finished 7th in the 2008 U.S. Women's Chess Championship after winning one of the qualifying spots.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Research Resources Online - for Free!

Great news for researchers and people interested in ancient history and archaeology! Story 1: The University of Chicago News Office (reported at newswise.com) Source: University of Chicago Released: Tue 02-Jun-2009, 16:00 ET Scholarship on Ancient Middle East Becomes Free Digitally Newswise — A wealth of material that documents the ancient Middle East has become available through a new, free online service at the Oriental Institute.
 The material comes from the extensive collection at the institute, which is a major publisher of important academic books on the languages, history and cultures of the ancient Middle East. The effort began in 1906, when the University started issuing publications that have been essential for studying the past.
 Since that time, more than 272 books have been published, ranging from dictionaries of the Assyrian and Hittite languages, to historical and archaeological studies and oversized folio volumes that document Egyptian temples and tombs.
 Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute, said, “Our publications are the lasting record of our excavations and research. They are fundamental tools for scholars of the ancient Middle East throughout the world. Making these books available to our colleagues, to educators and the public reflects our mission to share knowledge.”
 Publication of its research is a central tenet of the mission of the Oriental Institute. Equally important is making that research accessible to scholars and individuals throughout the world.
 Toward that end, in October 2004, the Oriental Institute announced the Electronic Publications Initiative, which stated that all publications of the Oriental Institute would be simultaneously published in print and electronically. New titles are made available for free download at the same time they are issued in print. Individuals, libraries and institutions may download one complimentary copy for personal use from the Oriental Institute’s Web site: https://oi.uchicago.edu/research/pubs/catalog/. More than a thousand copies of the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary have been downloaded since May 2008.
To date, 147 Adobe PDFs (portable document files), each containing an entire book, can be accessed at the site. Many of those titles are older publications that have long been out of print. An additional 125 older titles, which comprise the institute’s Egyptological collection published since the 1920s, such as the Epigraphic Survey, are being scanned in preparation for free Internet distribution.
 Another 138 older titles, which document the institute’s research on Anatolian, Arabic, Iranian, Mesopotamian, Syro/Palestinian cultures, among others, will continue to be scanned and distributed as time and funds permit.
 Response to the EPI has been overwhelming, with positive comments received from all over the world. Complimentary Web distribution ensures that publications of the Oriental Institute, whether new or old, are made available to everyone with access to the Internet, especially in countries where the institute conducts research.
 Thomas Urban, manager of the Publications Department at the Oriental Institute, said, “Technology now makes it possible for us to make these works widely available. So much effort goes into each volume—the author’s original research, editorial work, artwork and photography. It is rewarding that these books, many of which are long out of print, can be consulted.” Statistics on downloads of electronic files and sales of printed books have been carefully tracked, and the Publication Sales office has noted that the availability of free downloads has not adversely impacted the sale of the printed volumes. In fact, the availability of free PDFs of titles has increased print sales. After the complimentary distribution of 21 titles—books that had not been accessible via the Internet before 2008—print sales of those same titles increased by 7 percent compared to the previous two years. “It seemed counterintuitive that making the electronic files available without charge would actually stimulate the sale of hard copies, but that is what we are seeing,” Urban said. “We suspect that people are sampling the book through the download, then they decide they want a hard copy. This is an important message to others who are contemplating making their books available on the Internet,” he added.
 Print copies of the publications are available through the Oriental Institute’s distributor, David Brown Books: http://www.oxbowbooks.com/. © 2009 Newswise. All Rights Reserved. Story 2: From voxy.co.nz (New Zealand) Archaeologists Unveil New Zealand Digital Resource Tuesday, 9 June, 2009 - 14:27 An online digital resource that records archaeological sites in New Zealand called ArchSite (www.ArchSite.org.nz) will be officially launched on Wednesday 10 June at the New Zealand Archaeological Association's (NZAA) annual conference in Wellington. In 2007 the Department of Internal Affairs contributed funding to the NZAA to develop the Site Recording Scheme (SRS) into an online resource, with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) and Department of Conservation providing support as project partners. The SRS - the largest non-government archaeological site recording scheme in the world - has been active for 51 years and currently holds 61,000 paper records on this country's archaeological sites. NZAA president and NZHPT archaeologist Dr Matthew Schmidt said having the online service will make it much easier for members of the public, archaeologists and organisations to access information. "The public will be able to access archaeological data and use it for a range of things - for example, site management, education on our early history and appreciating Maori, Pakeha and Chinese heritage. "The launch night will mark the time when subscribers to the full online SRS service can access information. Basic information on New Zealand archaeological sites will also be able to be accessed by the public for free." The SRS has become crucial in supporting the archaeological provisions of the Historic Places Act 1993 and the protection of artefacts under the Protected Objects Act 1975. The online service will provide 'feature streaming' so archaeological site data can be directly fed into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In addition, an interactive web service will enable recorded archaeological sites to be viewed against a geographic map of New Zealand and allow information layers, such as topographic maps, survey information and legal descriptions for properties, to be displayed. "We're pretty much at the halfway mark of this project. It has taken 18 months of hard work to develop and build the system and over the next 18 months the NZAA will continue to add, refine and check digitised data," Dr Schmidt said. "The Site Recording Scheme was originally a special interest database but is now used, particularly by local authorities, in planning and legal issues for site identification, protection and management." The NZAA is an independent, non-profit voluntary association made up of professional and amateur member archaeologists. It was founded in 1956 and in 1958 it established the NZAA Site Recording Scheme - a paper-based system containing field notes, plans, photographs and drawings of archaeological sites throughout New Zealand and from the off-shore islands. The NZAA's annual conference runs in Wellington from 10-14 June, with its theme this year being Archaeology in the Digital Age. Story 3: From Ansa.it Italy puts Baghdad Museum online June 9, 2009 (ANSA) - Rome, June 9 - The treasures of Baghdad's National Museum went online for the first time Tuesday as Italy inaugurated the Virtual Museum of Iraq as part of an ongoing cultural collaboration between the two countries. Looted during the United States-led invasion in 2003, the Baghdad Museum partially reopened in February after six years but the website is designed to make its most important artefacts accessible to everyone. The site (www.virtualmuseumiraq.cnr.it), in Arabic, English and Italian, offers visitors the chance to walk through eight virtual halls and admire works from the prehistoric to the Islamic period, while videoclips reconstruct the history of the country's main cities. ''It's not a simple container of the objects in the museum but a real virtual journey, created for the general public and the scientific community, across 6,000 years of Mesopotamian history,'' said Italy's National Research Council Director Roberto De Mattei. Among the artefacts on display in the Sumerian hall of the virtual museum is the famous Warka Mask, a marble head of a woman from Uruk dated to 3,400-3,100 BC, which, as with many of the works, visitors can rotate to get an almost 360 degree view. In the Assyrian hall visitors can also admire colossal limestone statues of human-headed, winged bulls called lamassu, dated to the eight and ninth centuries BC, that guarded the ancient cities of Nimrud on the River Tigris and Dur Sharrukin, modern-day Khorsabad. Presenting the website Tuesday, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the virtual museum ''has allowed Italy's excellence in this field to shine and above all to make culture a tool to allow a population that has suffered greatly from the war to get back on their feet, to find through their own cultural and historic heritage a sense of unity''. The speaker of Italy's lower house, Gianfranco Fini, who promoted the virtual museum as foreign minister in 2005, was also present at the inauguration. Italy contributed one million euros and provided expert staff to help restore the museum, creating a restoration laboratory in Baghdad and overhauling the museum's Assyrian and Islamic galleries. In February Frattini said Italy would help Iraq create a new police unit to fight the trafficking of stolen works based on Italy's crack team of art cops, who have gained a worldwide reputation for their work in recovering stolen works and stopping illegal trading. He said Italy also planned to help reopen the museums of Najaf and Nassiriya near the ancient Sumerian city of Ur, recorded in the Bible as the birthplace of Abraham. Present-day Iraq lies on the site of ancient Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the Baghdad museum boasts one of the best collections of ancient artefacts in the world. Around 15,000 of the museum's relics were carried off during a 48-hour looting spree in 2003 in the wake of the US invasion.Denounced as the most catastrophic theft of antiquities since World War II, the plundering sparked international outrage and condemnation of America for failing to prevent the thefts. [Yeah, right. And no outrage against the locals who carried out the massive looting? What a crock of you know what!] Italian art cops were enlisted in the race to track down the looted treasures. While around 6,000 works have been returned, including the Warka Mask, many other pieces are still missing. The police believe many of the treasures found their way to a collection centre [where? Iran, for instance? It's well known the Revolutionary Guard who prop up the regime for the Ayatollahs are up to their necks in trafficking illegal antiquities] for smuggled Iraqi artefacts which has contacts with interested buyers, particularly in Britain, Switzerland and the United States.

Treasure Trove: Two Tons of Ancient Coins!

Ohmygoddess! Here's the story: Two tonnes of ancient coins found in history-laden Chinese province www.chinaview.cn 2009-06-10 15:49:24 XI'AN, June 10 (Xinhua) -- More than two tonnes of ancient coins dating back to as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907) have been unearthed on a playground of a primary school in Shaanxi Province, northwest China. Zhao Aiguo, director of the cultural relics protection and tourism bureau in Liquan County, Shaanxi, told Xinhua Wednesday that the coins were found when workers were excavating the grounds Tuesday for construction of another building. They reported their discovery to the bureau and soon more than 70 archaeologists, officials and police were sent to the site. It took more than five hours to dig the ancient coins out of a vault made of grey bricks. Zhao said they were in circulation for more than 750 years during the Tang, Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) Dynasties. The vault measures 1.5 meters in width and length and one meter in height. It is believed to have been built during the Yuan Dynasty. The coins have been sent to a local museum and archaeologists were counting them. Because there were so many, it might take a week to know the exact number and categories, Zhao said. The site of the discovery was part of a temple built by an ancient emperor in memory of his mother between 180 BC and 157 BC. Zhao cited archaeologists as saying that the coins might be donations from believers who visited the temple. In 2006, archaeologists in the same province discovered an ancient tomb, possibly of a coin collector, dating back more than 600 years. It contained more than 150 coins of 20 kinds from the Tang, Song and Jin (1115-1234) Dynasties, spanning about 600 years. Editor: Yao

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Goddess Alive!

At last.... Oh, Miss Etta James, sing it for us, lady! Here's a magazine dedicated only to the Goddess: GODDESS ALIVE! Oops! Mea culpa! I see from the copyright notice at the bottom of this magazine that it's been available since at least 2002. Er. Well, better late than never, darlings. Well - knock me off my chair with a feather! The current issue (Issue No. 15 - Spring/Summer 2009) starts with a short piece (online) featuring what sure looks like a rock carving of a fecund female, popularly known as a "Venus": The Acheulian Ancient Mother: The Oldest Goddess in the World. Take a look! The thing is, "[T]he figurine was found between two layers of volcanic ash, the upper one 232,000 and the lower one 800,000 years old." Okay - so you're thinking this HAS to be wrong. And so did I - except earlier today (one of those synchronicity things that regularly crops up in my life), I just happened to briefly read at Science Daily (don't have a url) that so-called "modern man" dates back to about 200,000 years ago. So much for Cro-Magnon Man appearing 35,000 years ago like I was taught in high school years ago. Ha! So, it is entirely possible that this little "Venus," beautifully shaped using the natural properties of the stone on which she was carved, is as old as "modern man," and possibly even older - much older. What is even more intriguing is that this discovery raises the possibility that the "hominids" who lived in this area where the Venus was found had enough cognitive abilities to create art that predated by far, the oldest representations of "art" of which we are aware; this was something of which the experts say only "modern man" was capable. I need to do more research on this intriguing find from the Golan Heights in 1981.

Chess Camp Begins!

Summer camps and outreach sponsored by the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation are all ready to go! All right!!!
WSCF Summer Camps Begins Tournament Dates Reservation Begin In this Newsletter: Summer Camps Begin Juneteenth Days on June 19 Tournament Date Resevations Begin
WSCF Summer Chess Camp Registration and Information Form.
WSCF summer camps are designed for the beginner to intermediate player, grades K - 12, rated 1400 and below in the Wisconsin and USCF Rating systems. All students will be challenged at their level with individual assignments as needed. Students will work toward their pawn, knight and bishop certificates. All camps will conduct a 5 round Swiss tournament and all participants will receive a medal. Top three participants will receive a WSCF t-shirt. Camps are designed for a balance of teaching, chess play, competitive play and fun.
Questions to: WSCFSummercamps@wisconsinscholasticchess.org. If registering with the WSCF, complete and mail to WSCF Summer Camps, P.0. Box 170843, Whitefish Bay, WI 53092
June 22 - 23 - 24 Wausau Chess Camp For Information and Registration download information flyer for the Wausau Chess Camp. $60
June 22 - 26 JCC Mequon Water Park 1:00 - 4:00 pm $95, $125 Non-member Register with the JCC at 262-964-4444 or on their website at http://www.jccmilwaukee.org/
June 29 - July 2th Kohler Elementary School 8:30 - 12:00 noon $45 333 Upper Road Kohler, WI 53044
July 6 - 10 JCC Mequon Water Park 1:00 - 4:00 pm $95, $125 Non-member Register with the JCC at 262-964-4444 or on their website at http://www.jccmilwaukee.orgj/
July 13 - 14 - 15 Advanced Camp with Dr. Sheldon Gelbart and John Veech. This camp will work on end game strategy and study famous endgames of the masters. Will also work on overall strategy, tempo and time management. For players over 1200 in the Wisconsin and USCF rating systems. 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. $105. At Our Lord and Savior United Methodist Church. 5000 Sunnyslope Road New Berlin 53151 Register with on line form and mail to WSCF.
July 20 - 24 N'Joy Coffee and Tea, 8:30 to 12:00 , $60 651 Walton Drive Plymouth, WI 53073
August 3 - 7 JCC Mequon Water Park 1:00 - 4:00 pm $95, $125 Non-member Register with the JCC at 262-964-4444 or on their website at www.jccmilwaukee.org
August 10 - 14 Peawaukee Elementary School Camp 8:30 - 12:00 noon , $60 Lake Elementary School, Cafeteria, 436 Lake St. Pewaukee 53072
August 17 - 21 Daniels-Mardak Boys & Girls Club, 1:00 - 4:30, Free for B&G mem; $25 students living in City of Milwaukee; $60 outside Milwaukee. 3500 Mother Daniels Way, Milwaukee, WI 53209 Register for this camp by mail or submit at any Milwaukee Boys & Girls Clubs.
August 17 - 21 Whitefish Bay Recreation Department Chess Camp 8:30 to 12:00 $75 resident/$85 non-resident. Course code: 160506 Lydell Community Center 5205 N. Lydell Avenue, 53217 Register with the Whitefish Bay Recreation Dept. at 414-963-3947 Registration: Complete this form print and mail to WSCF. Circle the camp(s) above you wish to attend. Do not register here for JCC's or Wausau camp or Whitefish Bay Camp.
Student Name _________________________________________ Birth Date ________________ Address ____________________________________ City ________________ Zip ___________ School of Attendance _____________________________________________________________ Wisconsin Rating ____________ USCF ______________ No rating _________ (please check) Parents/Guardians Name ________________________________________________________________ Phone(s) : Home___________ Cell ____________ Work____________ Enclosed: _$______
Juneteenth Days Chess Tent Each of the last two years WSCF has put up a chess tent on June 19th and take part in one of the largest celebration of Juneteenth Day in the country. We pass out WSCF Literature, sell boards and t-shirts and take on all comers for $2. If they win they get their money back. Youth pay a $1. Come by and play chess or make a donation to WSCF. 2009-2010 Tournament Reservations We are currently scheduling dates for the upcoming season. Some months fill up quickly so please contact Bob at http://us.mc379.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=bob@wisconsinscholasticchess.org asap. We will send you a contract and you can send back a deposit. If deposits are not recieved by Sept. 10 we will take your school off the schedule and not put the tournament in the program catalog. We are also interested in editing or evolving the contract. We are looking for a small committe of 4 -6 past tournament hosts to go over and discuss procedures and pricing. We will do this via a chat room and email that will be set up for that purpose. This work needs to be done by August 1st so contracts can go out. If you would like to be on this committee please let us know asap.

2009 Montreal Open Chess Championship

Check out the uber-cool website for the 2009 Montreal Open Chess Championship! September 11 - 13, 2009. Goddesschess is pleased to sponsor three Class Prizes just for the chess femmes in Classes B, C and D this year. Here is some background about the Montreal Championship: The first official Montreal Championship dates to 1923. In 1938, a women's club, "La Circle Femina," was born. With its yearly club championship tournaments, it was dynamic enough to give birth to distinct Women's Championship events from 1949 to 1952. Then it stopped. It was shortly revived in 1964 and 1966, after which there are no records of any subsequent event. The tradition of a large open championship was established in 1950 and (with minor variations), has been going strong ever since. The Canadian player who has won the most Championship titles is Montreal-born GM Kevin Spraggett (now resides in Portugal), who won it EIGHT times! In addition to the link to the official website above, you can find more information about this great event at the official website for the Quebec Chess Federation (Federation quebecoise des echecs). It will be held at the Centre de loisirs (Recreation Center) Sts-Martyrs-Canadiens, a grand, beautiful place that took my breath away the first time I saw it. Here is a photo that dondelion took of yours truly in one of the gardens at the Center in October, 2002. It's twin JanXenas under the sign of the pesch en kef - run for the hills, EEK!

Southwest Chess Club: Sizzling Summer Cook-off Swiss!

Hola everyone! My adopted chess club, Southwest Chess Club, is introducing a new tournament just in time for summer! How about a nice blue font, to celebrate the gorgeous robin's egg blue summer skies! Tom, are you serving grilled brats and hotdogs??? This Thursday, June 11, a new tournament starts at the Southwest Chess Club. The Sizzling Summer Cook-off Swiss is a two section, three round tournament with games on June 11, 18 and 25 (7 PM start time each night). Time Control is Game in 100 minutes. See details below. We plan to start promptly at 7:00 p.m. this Thursday. Registration is 6:30-6:50 p.m. I will close the registration at 6:50, and if you arrive after first-round pairings are prepared, you will have to take a 1/2-point bye in the first round. However, if you want to play but anticipate being a few minutes late, please e-mail me at: tfogec@fogec.com, or call me (414-425-6742) anytime this week up until 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 11, so I can include you in the pairings. If you need a first round half point bye, please let me know as soon as possible. I hope to see everybody on Thursday for the Sizzling Summer Cook-off Swiss. Remember we continue to play at our new location: St. James Catholic Church, 7219 S. 27th Street, Franklin, WI 53132. Use the south entrance to the Parish Center building, which is directly in front of the church. Tom Fogec Tournament Director 414-425-6742 tfogec@wi.rr.com Sizzling Summer Cook-off Swiss: June 11, 18 & 25 3-Round Swiss in Two Sections. (Open and Under 1600) Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5. One ½ Point Bye available for any round (except last round) if requested at least 2-days prior to round. TD is Tom Fogec; ATD is Robin Grochowski.

2009 French Women's Chess Championship

I saw the announcement today at Chessdom.com: The French Women Chess Championship 2009 (National féminin 2009) will take place in Nimes, the south of France, from 10th to 22nd of August 2009. Jean-Claude Moingt (President of the French Chess Federation) first announced the news on Chess & Strategy in November 2008, now details are available. There will be 6 participants in a double round robin. It is a change from last year when 12 players competed in the event. This year's contenders for the French title are: IM Almira Skripchenko 2449, IM Sophie Millet 2379, WGM Maria Leconte 2334, IM Silvia Collas 2316, WFM Nino Maisuradze 2261, WFM Pauline Guichard 2257 Average ELO: 2332,7

Monday, June 8, 2009

Update: Shira Evans and Computer Labs for Kids

Here is the latest on Shira Evans' Foundation, Computer Labs for Kids, that provides free laptop computers and training on how to use them to underprivileged children around the world. I'm summarizing in my own words: The Egypt trip has, unfortunately, been cancelled. However, thanks to a friend that Shira knows through ICC (Internet Chess Club), Shira will next be travelling to Portugal and she is very excited about this new project. I can't wait to hear about it. You can follow Shira's projects at Facebook, where she posts her videos and updates on her projects. You can also find her videos at You Tube. Shira wants to play a game of chess with me on ICC! LOL! All the years I was reporting on Shira's results at the various tournaments she played in as an American chess femme, all those emails we exchanged, it never occurred to me that Shira didn't realize that I am the worst chess player in the entire world and, quite possibly, the entire Universe. I'm nearly certain I didn't represent myself to her as a great WGM, for instance :))) Geez - I don't even have an account at ICC! Oh oh, panic time... Hmmm, okay, I just had a hot flash in my brain (I still occasionally get them even though I'm post-menopausal for nearly 10 years now). Would you pay $$$ to see me get my newly-toned and much trimmer butt handed to me on a chessboard by Ms. Shira? All $$$ would be donated directly to Computer Labs for Kids. Well, just a thought. Who can I get as a trainer... Photo: From the official website of the Wyoming Chess Association and the Cheyenne Chess Club, at the time of the 2nd Tri-State Championship, October 15 - 16, 2005, in Jackson, Wyoming. Shira is the chess femme on the right.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Different Kind of Fraud at the Brooklyn Museum

Mr. Don and I spent May 17th exploring the Brooklyn Museum - wish we'd had two full days dedicated to doing that instead of only one. Now I came across this sad story at The New York Times. Geez! Arts, Briefly Former Brooklyn Museum Employee Arrested By ROBIN POGREBIN; Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF Published: June 5, 2009 A former payroll manager for the Brooklyn Museum stole more than $620,000 from the institution by issuing fake paychecks that were directly deposited into his bank account, according to court papers made public on Thursday. The former employee, Dwight Newton, 40, faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud if convicted. Mr. Newton worked at the museum, right, from 2002 until he resigned in 2008. Starting in 2005, the complaint said, he created a payroll profile for a fictitious employee with the name “Brooklyn Museum” or “Brooklyn” and subsequently issued checks that went into his personal account. The theft was discovered during a routine annual review of payroll documents, the museum said. Mr. Newton was arrested and charged on Thursday and was released on bond. He was not available for comment on Friday. A woman who answered the phone at his home in East Brunswick, N.J., said, “No comment.”
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This Newton is no known relative of mine! According to family lore, our Newton family name was translated from the French words for "new town" sometime in the late 18th century or early 19th century when my great-great-great-(great?)-grandfather was working as a lumberjack near what is now Antigo, Wisconsin (Wisconsin wasn't a state back then and Antigo probably didn't exist) and the locals couldn't wrap their tongues around the French pronounciation of our surname. Well, that's the family lore, at least. That same family lore further reports that the ancestral Newton came over to Louisiana, which was then French territory, some time during the 1700's - no reason given for leaving France behind but, based upon his descendants, it probably was not due to religious persecution :) Family lore further reports that said Newton, with his family (no mention of family coming over from France, so I assume said Newton Pater married or, at the very least, procreated, upon arrival in the New World), worked their way up the Mississippi River, presumably leaving Newton family seedlings all along the way, until finally settling down to work as lumberjacks in the Antigo (Wisconsin) area. I am given to understand that I have third or fourth or fifth removed cousins still in and about Antigo whom I've not met, and am unlikely to do so. Wait - I believe those are cousins on the side of my Grandmother Ida Newton, whose maiden name was Bellanger (my dad insisted that the name was pronounced in the French way, Be-LAUN-shay), whose second cousin of a second cousin (or something like that) was the mother (or father) of a famous major league pitcher whose last name was Bellanger, only I don't remember his first name and I don't remember what team he pitched for, but it had to have been sometime in the 1950's or early 1960's. The person I remember most from all of the behind-the-hands talk about ancestors is my Uncle Jack Bellanger, who almost never showed up but I do remember as a handsome "old man" with sparkling blue eyes that crinkled at the corners when he smiled, tall and lean, and always dressed in a suit and driving a big car. I realize now, as I did not as a child, that Uncle Jack was actually my Grandmother Newton's brother - don't know if he was an older brother or younger brother. I don't remember what color hair he had, only that he wore a big ring with a blue stone on one of his hands (I don't remember which hand) and he was always smartly dressed. And he seemed to always have money, or at least, what passed for money in our family, which isn't saying much. By all accounts (whispered around the dining table after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners) Uncle Jack was a real lady-killer and he may have been married several times. I don't exactly remember, but I have a vague recollection that Uncle Jack died either shortly before, or shortly after, my Grandmother Newton died, I think that was about 1960 - I was 8 or 9 and you don't think about such things at that age. Now that I'm thinking about it, I believe I heard a story somewhere along the line that it may have been Uncle Jack who introduced my dad to his first wife (something I only heard about in half-whispered conversations when I used to hid under the dining room table after meals). I think her name was Victoria - or else that was the name of my older half-sister born of the marriage. Anyway, it didn't last long and ended in divorce (or maybe an annulment). And then my father met my mother and the rest, as they say, is history -- four daughters and two sons later. Eek! With such illustrious antecedents, no way am I related to a dude in East Brunswick, New Jersey named Dwight. Anyway, we don't have such a dweeby name as Dwight in our family line!

Blast from the Past: Those Las Vegas Showgirls "Do" Tessellations!

(Image: Tiled ceiling showing use of tessellated patterns, Shiraz, Iran). Goddess' truth! As I was looking up the definition of onomatopoeia for the previous post about domestication of cats, I grabbed my trusty 30+ year old edition of Webster's Collegiate Dictionary off the bookshelf in the den and flipped it open as I settled it above my computer keyboard; it opened to pages 1204 and 1205. On the upper right hand side, page 1205, are the key words "tessellation (to) tethering." When I saw "tessellation" I immediately thought of a Las Vegas Showgirls article that Isis and I put together many moons ago! Check it out: Chess - Tesselations - Knight's Tour - Escher - "Harry Potter May 20, 2003 (Note to self: Please take Mr. Don to task for forgetting his editing task to such an extent that he omitted to close the quote at the end of "Harry Potter. Of course, I suppose that could have been taken as a sign of things to come back then...) For further information on the blow-your-mind subject of tessellations: Lots of cool tessellation graphics at Tessellations.org Refresher on what a tessellation is from Math Forum: What Is a Tessellation? The word tessellation is derived from the Latin word for tile - "tesserae" - as in mosaic tiles. Although the art of creating amazing mosaics out of small bits of colored clay or stone tiles was known from before the Roman period, my recollection is that it was the Persians under Islamic rule who took the art to its highest form, creating intricate geometrical colored patterns out of myriad tesserae and larger glazed bricks. See, for instance, Iran: Visual Arts: History of Iranian Tile.

New Evidence on Domestication of Cats

(Image: Bastet, from the Louvre Museum, 26th Dynasty, 664 - 332 BCE) It's a lengthy article. Here are the key points summarized neatly at Scientific American Online:
  • Unlike other domesticated creatures, the house cat contributes little to human survival. Researchers have therefore wondered how and why cats came to live among people.
  • Experts traditionally thought that the Egyptians were the first to domesticate the cat, some 3,600 years ago.
  • But recent genetic and archaeological discoveries indicate that cat domestication began in the Fertile Crescent, perhaps around 10,000 years ago, when agriculture was getting under way.
  • The findings suggest that cats started making themselves at home around people to take advantage of the mice and food scraps found in their settlements.
From the June 2009 Scientific American Magazine The Evolution of House Cats By Carlos A. Driscoll, Juliet Clutton-Brock, Andrew C. Kitchener and Stephen J. O'Brien It is by turns aloof and affectionate, serene and savage, endearing and exasperating. Despite its mercurial nature, however, the house cat is the most popular pet in the world. A third of American households have feline members, and more than 600 million cats live among humans worldwide. Yet as familiar as these creatures are, a complete understanding of their origins has proved elusive. Whereas other once wild animals were domesticated for their milk, meat, wool or servile labor, cats contribute virtually nothing in the way of sustenance or work to human endeavor. How, then, did they become commonplace fixtures in our homes? Scholars long believed that the ancient Egyptians were the first to keep cats as pets, starting around 3,600 years ago. But genetic and archaeological discoveries made over the past five years have revised this scenario—and have generated fresh insights into both the ancestry of the house cat and how its relationship with humans evolved. Cat’s Cradle The question of where house cats first arose has been challenging to resolve for several reasons. Although a number of investigators suspected that all varieties descend from just one cat species—Felis silvestris, the wildcat—they could not be certain. In addition, that species is not confined to a small corner of the globe. It is represented by populations living throughout the Old World—from Scotland to South Africa and from Spain to Mongolia—and until recently scientists had no way of determining unequivocally which of these wildcat populations gave rise to the tamer, so-called domestic kind. Indeed, as an alternative to the Egyptian origins hypothesis, some researchers had even proposed that cat domestication occurred in a number of different locations, with each domestication spawning a different breed. Confounding the issue was the fact that members of these wildcat groups are hard to tell apart from one another and from feral domesticated cats with so-called mackerel-tabby coats because all of them have the same pelage pattern of curved stripes and they interbreed freely with one another, further blurring population boundaries. In 2000 one of us (Driscoll) set out to tackle the question by assembling DNA samples from some 979 wildcats and domestic cats in southern Africa, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and the Middle East. Because wildcats typically defend a single territory for life, he expected that the genetic composition of wildcat groups would vary across geography but remain stable over time, as has occurred in many other cat species. If regional indigenous groups of these animals could be distinguished from one another on the basis of their DNA and if the DNA of domestic cats more closely resembled that of one of the wildcat populations, then he would have clear evidence for where domestication began. In the genetic analysis, published in 2007, Driscoll, another of us (O’Brien) and their colleagues focused on two kinds of DNA that molecular biologists traditionally examine to differentiate subgroups of mammal species: DNA from mitochondria, which is inherited exclusively from the mother, and short, repetitive sequences of nuclear DNA known as microsatellites. Using established computer routines, they assessed the ancestry of each of the 979 individuals sampled based on their genetic signatures. Specifically, they measured how similar each cat’s DNA was to that of all the other cats and grouped the animals having similar DNA together. They then asked whether most of the animals in a group lived in the same region. The results revealed five genetic clusters, or lineages, of wildcats. Four of these lineages corresponded neatly with four of the known subspecies of wildcat and dwelled in specific places: F. silvestris silvestris in Europe, F. s. bieti in China, F. s. ornata in Central Asia and F. s. cafra in southern Africa. The fifth lineage, however, included not only the fifth known subspecies of wildcat—F. s. lybica in the Middle East—but also the hundreds of domestic cats that were sampled, including purebred and mixed-breed felines from the U.S., the U.K. and Japan. In fact, genetically, F. s. lybica wildcats collected in remote deserts of Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were virtually indistinguishable from domestic cats. That the domestic cats grouped with F. s. lybica alone among wildcats meant that domestic cats arose in a single locale, the Middle East, and not in other places where wildcats are common. (Emphasis added). Rest of article. Excerpts:
  • To get a bead on when the taming of the cat began, we turned to the archaeological record. One recent find has proved especially informative in this regard. In 2004 Jean-Denis Vigne of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and his colleagues reported unearthing the earliest evidence suggestive of humans keeping cats as pets. The discovery comes from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where 9,500 years ago an adult human of unknown gender was laid to rest in a shallow grave. An assortment of items accompanied the body—stone tools, a lump of iron oxide, a handful of seashells and, in its own tiny grave just 40 centimeters away, an eight-month-old cat, its body oriented in the same westward direction as the human’s. Because cats are not native to most Mediterranean islands, we know that people must have brought them over by boat, probably from the adjacent Levantine coast. Together the transport of cats to the island and the burial of the human with a cat indicate that people had a special, intentional relationship with cats nearly 10,000 years ago in the Middle East. This locale is consistent with the geographic origin we arrived at through our genetic analyses. It appears, then, that cats were being tamed just as humankind was establishing the first settlements in the part of the Middle East known as the Fertile Crescent.
  • Although the exact timeline of cat domestication remains uncertain, long-known archaeological evidence affords some insight into the process. After the Cypriot find, the next oldest hints of an association between humans and cats are a feline molar tooth from an archaeological deposit in Israel dating to roughly 9,000 years ago and another tooth from Pakistan dating to around 4,000 years ago. Testament to full domestication comes from a much later period. A nearly 3,700-year-old ivory cat [c. 1700 BCE] statuette from Israel suggests the cat was a common sight around homes and villages in the Fertile Crescent before its introduction to Egypt. [Baloney!] This scenario makes sense, given that all the other domestic animals (except the donkey) and plants were introduced to the Nile Valley from the Fertile Crescent. But it is Egyptian paintings from the so-called New Kingdom period—Egypt’s golden era, which began nearly 3,600 years ago [c. 1500 BCE - after the Hyksos were kicked out rulership]—that provide the oldest known unmistakable depictions of full domestication. These paintings typically show cats poised under chairs, sometimes collared or tethered, and often eating from bowls or feeding on scraps. The abundance of these illustrations signifies that cats had become common members of Egyptian households by this time.

[Well known associations of the lion with the ancient Egyptian Sun God, RA, and the association of the lioness or lion-headed goddess as one of the "Eyes of Ra" - Sekhmet, an aspect of equally ancient Goddess Het-Hert (Hathor) indicate a much older association between the ancient Egyptians and cats. As far as I am aware, both of these deities pre-date the founding of the dynastic period in ancient Egypt, c. 3500-3400 BCE and are therefore at least 5500 to 5400 years old, and quite possibly older. See, for instance, this information from the Louvre Museum indicating that the bones of a cat were discovered in a predynastic tomb dating to around 4000 BCE - that is, about 6000 years ago].

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For information on the Egyptian cat Goddess, Bast or Bastet, see: Tour Egypt, The Gods of Ancient Egypt - Bast Per-Bast.org For information on the importance of the cat in ancient Egypt (this would extend to any country where grain and other crops subject to the ravages of mice and rat infestations were a problem), see: Wikiland Mythology: Why were cats important in ancient Egypt? One of the key points I gleaned from this information is that the ancient Egyptians called cats "miu" or "miut" ("he or she who mews" - the "t" sound or glyph at the end of Egyptian words often designated a female) for the "meowing" sound that they made! That article cited above I found at the Louvre Museum says that "'The Ancient Egyptian word for cat was "mau", an onomatopoeia for mewing.' " Onomatopoeia is just a fancy word for this definition (from my trusty Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: "the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it."

Gruesome Evidence of Inca Human Sacrifice

Why were the majority of the victims girls, around 15 years of age??? And was the number of victims - 33 - significant? From Yahoo News Peru finds human sacrifices from Inca civilization Thu Jun 4, 4:20 pm ET LIMA (Reuters) – Researchers at an archeological site in northern Peru have made an unusually large discovery of nearly three dozen people sacrificed some 600 years ago by the Incan civilization. The bodies, some of which show signs of having been cut along their necks and collarbones, were otherwise found in good condition, said Carlos Webster, who is leading excavations at the Chotuna-Chornancap camp. The sprawling 235-acre (95-hectare) archeological site is 12 miles outside the coastal city of Chiclayo, near the ancient tomb of Sipan, which was one of the great finds of the last century. The sacrifices were made just decades before Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Peru. Although archeologists regularly find evidence of human sacrifice from Incan and pre-Incan cultures, it is rare to find the remains of 33 people in one place, researchers said. Scientists say human sacrifice was common within the Incan culture, which flourished immediately before the arrival of the Spanish in what is now parts of Peru, Chile and Ecuador between 1400 and the mid-1500s. "Most of the remains belong to young women, around 15 years of age. One of them appears to have been pregnant because in her abdomen, the collarbone of a fetus, probably around 4 months, was found," Webster said of the latest find, made over the past year and a half. "The majority (of the bodies) are in good condition -- skin tissues and hair have been preserved. They were found in a dry area more than 7 feet underground," he said. Incan civilization is best known for its capital city, Machu Picchu, the ruins of which are Peru's top tourist destination and considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Dana Ford; Editing by Peter Cooney)

The Sardonic Grin

This article gives new meaning to a well-known but poorly understood phrase! (Image: A fourth-century B.C. Phoenician mask found in Tunisia displays a grin not unlike those seen on victims of an ancient Phoenician "sardonic grin" potion administered on the island of Sardinia.Scientists in May 2009 said they had finally uncovered the source of the potion's lethal, smile-inducing effects: the hemlock water-dropwort plant. Photograph by DEA/G. Dagli Orti via Getty Images ) Ancient Death-Smile Potion Decoded? James Owen for National Geographic News June 2, 2009 Thousands of years before the Joker gassed comic book victims into a grinning death, Phoenician colonists on the island of Sardinia were forcing smiles on the faces of the dead. Now scientists say they know just how the ancient seafaring traders created the gruesome smiles some 2,800 years ago—not with a toxic gas like Batman's nemesis but with a plant-based potion. And someday that plant might be used to Botox-like effect, perhaps reducing rather than adding smile lines, the researchers speculate. Ancient Death Grins By the eighth century B.C., Homer had coined the term "sardonic grin"—"sardonic" having its roots in "Sardinia"—in writings referring to the island's ritual killings via grimace-inducing potion. Elderly people who could no longer care for themselves and criminals "were intoxicated with the sardonic herb and then killed by dropping from a high rock or by beating to death," according to the new study. For centuries the herb's identity has been a mystery, but study leader Giovanni Appendino and colleagues say they have discovered a sardonic grin-inducing compound in a plant called hemlock water-dropwort. The white-flowered plant grows on celery-like stalks along ponds and rivers on the island, now part of Italy. Modern Suicide, Ancient Mystery About a decade ago, a Sardinian shepherd committed suicide by eating a hemlock water-dropwort, leaving a corpse with a striking grin. The death spurred study co-author Mauro Ballero, a botanist at the University of Cagliari in Sardinia, to study every dropwort-related fatality on the island in recent decades. For the new study, Ballero and colleagues detailed the molecular structure of the plant's toxin and determined how it affects the human body. Study leader Appendino, an organic chemist from the UniversitĂ  degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale in Italy, said, "The compound is highly toxic and causes symptoms similar to those described by the ancients for the sardonic smile, including facial paralysis." Hemlock water-dropwort "was already known to contain neurotoxins and was the most likely candidate for the sardonic herb," Appendino said. The hairy buttercup (aka the Sardinian buttercup) was also a candidate, but that plant doesn't grow in the damp places mentioned in ancient texts, nor does it make sense in terms of its toxic properties, Appendino said. "Besides, Sardinia is the only place all over the Mediterranean where [hemlock water-dropwort] grows," he added. A Better Botox? A member of the deadly hemlock family, the herb is especially dangerous because of its fragrant smell and sweet-tasting roots. "Generally poisonous plants are bitter or in some way repel people," Appendino said. Hemlock water-dropwort "is only the second case I know of a toxic plant that is actually attractive to our senses. People might easily eat it in a potion," he added—or perhaps apply it in a lotion. Appendino speculates that the plant may prove to have a cosmetic application. "It relaxes the muscles," he said, "so it removes wrinkles." Findings published in the Journal of Natural Products.

Weighing Legal Interests: Iran v. Victims

From Payvand.com: 06/05/09 Persian Antiquities in Peril: A Legal and Cultural Panel Discussion Press Release by Iranian American Bar Association Presented by: Dr. Matthew Wolfgang Stolper, Professor of Assyriology in the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago Dr. Patty Gerstenblith, Director of the DePaul College of Law's Program in Cultural Heritage Law Sue Benton, Esq., Partner, Winston & Strawn LLP and Lead Counsel for the Chicago Field Museum Dr. Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009Time: 5:45pm - 8:00pm CSTLocation: University Center, 525 S. State Street, Chicago, IL 60605 In September of 1997, three Hamas suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowded pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, killing five and wounding nearly 200. Several of the American victims sued the government of Iran, accusing it of being complicit in the attack, and won a $412 million default judgment. In seeking to satisfy that judgment, the plaintiffs have gone to court to seize ancient Persian artifacts being held by the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, the Chicago Field Museum, several Harvard University museums, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Most of these artifacts date back 2,500 years, to the earliest days of the Persian Empire. The plaintiffs' cases are currently pending in federal court in Chicago and Boston. The museums have all entered the cases to prevent the artifacts from being seized; the Field Museum, the Harvard University museums, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts argue that they, and not the government of Iran, own the artifacts. The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute has not made that argument – stating that the artifacts in its possession are "on loan" from the government of Iran. Thus the case against the Oriental Institute will most likely turn on the meaning of "commercial activity" under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which was originally passed by Congress in 1976. If the plaintiffs succeed, the artifacts may be dismantled and sold at auction. If this happens, the IABA believes that not only will the archaeological value of the artifacts be compromised, but the museums are also worried about the likely chilling effects such a decision would have on scholarly exchanges. The National Iranian American Council, an Iranian American lobbying organization, is separately concerned about the cultural impact resulting from a decision to seize the artifacts, and has tried to persuade the federal court in Chicago to deny the plaintiffs' request. In an effort to raise awareness about these cases and to further explore their cultural and scholarly impact, the Chicago Chapter of the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) will host a panel discussion on Wednesday, June 10 from 5:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the University Center, 525 S. State Street, Lake Room, Chicago. The panelists include Dr. Gil Stein and Dr. Matthew Stolper of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, Dr. Patty Gerstenblith of the DePaul University College of Law, and Sue Benton, lead counsel for the Chicago Field Museum. To reserve space for this event, please visit www.iaba.us. IABA is a non-religious, independent organization and is not in any way affiliated with any other organization. IABA is not a lobbying or advocacy group, but primarily an educational organization. As such, IABA seeks to educate and inform the Iranian American community about legal issues of interest, and to ensure that the American public at large as well as our representatives and other government officials are fully and accurately informed on legal matters of interest and concern to the Iranian American community. Attorney Hermine Valizadeh, President of the Chicago Chapter of the Iranian American Bar Association is available for commentary on this most important case and can be reached directly at hvalizadeh@usebrinks.com or 312-321-4810. Or for additional information on this program, please contact Masoud Naseri at 312-840-3183 or at mnaseri@piercelaw.edu. Tickets are free for IABA Members, $10 for non-Members, and $5 for students. Please note seating is very limited. If there is availability on the day of the event, tickets will cost $15 at the door for members and non-members and $10 for students. To RSVP, please visit this link to purchase tickets.
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Hmmmm, well it seems one will not get a very balanced presentation of arguments, as it appears there will be no legal representatives for the plaintiffs appearing at the forum.
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