Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shira Chess Challenge!

Ohmygoddess! I now somehow find myself playing chess games with Rob, Soheil, Mott the Hoople, and Frog Breath. And I believe more or knocking on my email door, but I have not as yet answered them. Who would call himself or herself Frog Breath? I suspect that other than Rob, and - possibly, Soheil, the others are grandmasters in hiding, waiting to get their jollies off on playing a hopeless patzer such as yours truly. I do hope I am wrong. I suspect I am not. Oh my. Oh, you ask, how am I doing? Not good. But for the moment, I am temporarily unparalyzed from making moves, however crappy they may be and in my world of the glass always being half full, this is a good thing! Ta, darlings!

Hales Corners Challenge X!

We have a flyer for the Hales Corners Chess Challenge X, yippee! It doesn't show up in all of its glory here - but I'll do my best to make it pretty :)
Hales Corners Challenge X Sponsored by The Southwest Chess Club Saturday, October 17, 2009 Two Sections – Open & Reserve (Under 1600)
FORMAT: Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day USCF Rated TIME LIMIT: Game in One Hour (60 minutes per player) ENTRY FEE: $35 – Open; $25 – Reserve (both sections $5 more after October 14, 2009) Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+: Entry fee subtracted from any prizes won SITE REGISTRATION: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ROUNDS: 10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm Pairings by WinTD---No Computer Entries---No Smoking PRIZES OPEN RESERVE 1st—$325* 1st—$100 2nd—$175* 2nd—$75 A—$100 D—$50 B & Below—$75 E & Below—$40 * guaranteed Goddesschess prizes for top performing females: Open Section: 1st - $60, 2nd - $40 Reserve Section: 1st - $40, 2nd $30, 3rd $20 Tournament Director: Tom Fogec Assistant Tournament Directors: Robin Grochowski & Allen Becker SITE: Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee—414-481-8000 (formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport) ENTRIES TO: Allen Becker—6105 Thorncrest Drive—Greendale, WI 53129 allenbecker@wi.rr.com QUESTIONS TO: Tom Fogec—414-425-6742 (home) or 414-405-4207 (cell) USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided Half point bye available in Round 1, 2 or 3 if requested prior to round 1; not available in Round 4. _____________________________________________________________________________ Checks payable to Southwest Chess Club (Please indicate section desired) __Open Section __Reserve Section Name: __________________________________________________ USCF ID#: ________________ Rating: _________ Expire Date: ___________ Address: ______________________________________ City: _____________________ State: _______ Zip: _________ Phone: __________________ e-mail Address: _______________________

Ancient Royal Chinese Tomb Discovered

Hola darlings! I do hope I have not previously reported on this discovery. I found this story at English.Chosun.com which is, I believe, a South Korean website (but don't quote me on that :)) Ancient Royal Tomb Found in China Arirang News / Jul. 07, 2009 12:10 KST Workers in northern China building water infrastructure recently uncovered a 1,400-year-old royal tomb containing ancient wall paintings. The tomb belonged to Gao Xiaoxu, the male heir of an emperor during the Qi Dynasty. The detailed frescoes of honor guard officials found inside are thought to date from 550-577 AD. [This is around the time that the game of Xiang Qi - Chinese chess - may have evolved in China from an earlier practice that was part divination/part board game called Xiang Xi, according to Dr. Joseph Needham]. However, the more than 1,000 years that have passed have taken its toll on the condition of the paintings. Sun Jinghua of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology says that the discovery needs the full attention of restoration specialists. Fragments will be secured and the wall will be removed to a location off-site for further study. The site is located in an area that contains 134 tombs mostly from the royal family of the Northern Dynasties which ruled from 368-581 AD.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wherever this place is, it sure is gorgeous! Donostia Chess Festival Action July 7 - 16, 2009. In addition to three other tournaments that are composed with only chess dudes (snore), there is a women only event with a well-mixed line-up of chess femmes: Diputacion Foral de Gipuzkoa Donostia (ESP), 7-16 vii 2009 cat. III (2318) Name Ti NAT Elo DoB Tania, Sachdev m IND 2410 1986 Milliet, Sophie m FRA 2388 1983 Pokorna, Regina wg SVK 2381 1982 Michna, Marta wg GER 2379 1978 Hamdouchi, Adina-Maria wg ROU 2324 1979 Zakurdjaeva, Irina wg RUS 2305 1982 Melnikova, Yana wg RUS 2285 1984 Ionica, Iulia-Ionela wg ROU 2263 1980 Rozic, Vesna wm SLO 2239 1987 Karlovich, Anastazia wg UKR 2211 1982

Significant Islamic Find in Japan

This discovery could possibly re-write the history, such as it is, of trade between Japan and centers that traded Islamic-made goods in the 8th century CE. 8th century Islamic vase found THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2009/7/6 NARA--Shards of an Islamic ceramic vase--the oldest uncovered in Japan--were excavated at the former site of Heijokyo palace, municipal researchers said. The 19 pieces of what is believed to be a vase more than 50 centimeters tall date back to the late eighth century, about 100 years earlier than Islamic ceramics found in Fukuoka Prefecture. The researchers believe the vase was used during maritime trade to carry spices from the Islamic world. Tatsuo Sasaki, a professor of archaeology at Kanazawa University, said the finding confirms that Nara was a terminus on the ancient Silk Road of the Sea. Heijokyo was the nation's capital during the Nara Period (710-784).(IHT/Asahi: July 6,2009)

Shira Chess Challenge: I Am NOT Ready for Beginner Chess

Oy, this is driving me crazy. Today I made a very bad mistake. I actually opened one of the data bases that Kelly a/k/a Chess Daddy sent to me, using Chess Base Lite. I forced myself to work through 1 and nearly a half games, and then I couldn't stand it anymore. Every single thing I do when I play chess is fricking WRONG. So WRONG, I found myself paralyzed and now I cannot make a move in my pending games (now 3 games). I am terrified of making a mistake. Which I know I will, because I suck. This is HORRIBLE. I don't know what to do. To add insult to injury, lately I seem to have come across a plethora of articles about "beginner" chess, like this one: Your Chess Coach Chess starts with the basics By Laura Sherman, Bill Kilpatrick INQUIRER.net First Posted 03:08:00 07/07/2009 Chess is taught by starting with the basics and building from there. It has to be done step by step. It is a big mistake to skip ahead too quickly with new strategies or techniques, when the more basic concepts are not well understood by a young chess player. Teaching “checkmate” is a perfect example. Coaches quickly learn it’s a big challenge to teach children the concept of checkmate. We have found that many beginners have trouble checkmating their opponents despite having an overwhelming advantage of pieces on the chess board. So how do you teach this seemingly basic concept? Break it down! Simplify it! Pull checkmate apart into little pieces that can be learned, one at a time. The first step is to drill easier concepts with your students. How do you attack a piece? When is a piece in danger? How do you trap a piece? There are dozens of such exercises that are needed in order to fully prepare the student to understand and apply the concept of checkmate. Once they have these components down, they must be able to recognize when the king is in check and understand that concept fully. Quiz them on the number of escape squares the king has. This usually requires a bit of drilling, but there will come a point where the student knows it, really knows it. Being able to recognize when a student has a concept and is able to move on is also important. The last thing you want to do is rehash something over and over that they already understand. There’s a certain look that a student gets when they fully understand something. Watch for that look, that confident gleam in their eye. Now they will have an easier time grasping checkmate. Show them many examples. Stick with exercises that are checkmate in one move, starting with extremely easy and basic positions. The more you drill these with your student the faster they will pick up the themes and be able to recognize reoccurring patterns.
Checkmate needs to be drilled regularly and often. The result will be that your students will take advantage of more opportunities on the board and you will have a strong foundation from which to move forward. _____________________________________________________
Laura Sherman founded Your Chess Coach with her husband, Dan Sherman. The couple's full-time profession is teaching children to play chess. Bill Kilpatrick, founder of several professional specialty schools, brings an entrepreneurial spirit to chess coaching. Together they provide consulting around the globe helping improve the ability of coaches, parents and educators to teach chess to children. Okay, so what about teaching someone like ME to play chess after years of doing it wrong? And please, do not say "forget everything you ever thought you knew about chess." My response: SCREW YOU. No way am I going to unlearn 40 years worth of playing chess the way I play. There has to be a different way to do this. I'm officially ditching the data bases. I cannot even remember the first four moves (2 for white and 2 for black). Sorry Chess Daddy, this ain't gonna work.

Honor Killings Rage Unchecked in Pakistan

Here is jus a sampling from the Daily Times, which reports news from Pakistan. In almost all incidents, the victims are female: Monday, July 06, 2009 ‘Honour’ killings remain unchecked By Rana Tanveer LAHORE: ‘Honour’ killing seems to go unchecked in the city as it claimed three lives in two incidents during the last week. On July 2, a newly married couple was killed in the name of ‘honour’ in Barki police precincts. Ramazan shot dead Khalid and his wife Shamim, who had eloped and married without the consent of their families. Ramazan was Shamim’s cousin and both had been engaged. The other incident took place on July 5, when a boy, Irfan, killed his uncle Shahadat Ali for marrying his mother after the death of his father in Kahna police precincts. Reportedly, Irfan considered the marriage a matter of ‘honour’. In 10 weeks, nine people were killed in the name of ‘honour’ in the city. Among these incidents, on June 18, in Sabzazar police precincts, Iqbal killed his sister Adeeba (22) for having an alleged affair with a boy. The accused tried to hide the incident by shifting the body to some other city, but the police recovered the body after chasing the accused. On June 2, Nawaz of Ferozewala killed his sister Shehnaz Bibi, who was a mother of two, for having an affair with a man. On May 26, Ahsan Elahi gunned down his wife Shazia in Liaquatabad police precincts. On April 20, Zulfiqar Khokhar of Green Town killed his sister Shahnaz (35) and niece Farah (18) for honour. In Kahna, on April 16, a woman was killed by her in-laws in the name of ‘honour’.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Belated Happy July 4th!

(Photo of the "Living Flag" taken at Ellis Island, New York, May, 2009. This is the neatest thing! Depending upon your angle, you either get a straight shot of the flag of the USA, or something like this photograph, that shows that the flip sides of each part of the flag is made up of individual images of people who have come through Ellis Island. This is a motion shot that I think Mr. Don took showing a couple of people crossing the image, because during the busy part of the day when we were there it is nearly impossible to get a clear shot of this great flag art work.) Hola Darlings! Yesterday dawned warm, humid, and overcast. I had plans to spend some time with family later in the day. The first part of the day was spent sweating and puffing as I cut the front lawn, then laid down a layer of bug-killer pellets because those damn sod web-worms are back yet again this year, despite my best efforts! Argggghhhh! Then I trekked to the supermarket! Later I spent time attempting the ever-hopeless task of updating Chess Femme News at Goddesschess. I will do more on that later today. And, of course, I had my chess games going on. I left no time to post here. I am not doing very well in either of them, alas. However, Mr. Don has promised that as soon as he is out from under the revamping of the Goddesschess website he will give me a couple of practice games. He is as rusty as I am, so we will be an "even" match - I hope! I need something to boost up my confidence a bit. For some mysterious reason, I have usually been able to defeat him with the black pieces... Later, I visited my sister Debbie and her husband Randy's home where we had a small gathering of some of the family and a neighbor joined, too, because her husband was working and her kids are all grown up and moved away. Here is a photo of my 82-year old mother and my graduate-student nephew, Adam Varble, decked out in 4th of July regalia. Don't let Grandma Newton's water glass fool you - it was filled with some of my White Zinfandel wine! I took along the netbook and showed some of the photos from our May New York vacation -- they were a great success, and some of the truly horrid photos that Mr. Don took of me elicited much laughter, boo! I drank too much, and ate way too much of all the stuff that is so bad for one - grilled bratwurst, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw (a/k/a cold slaw), and cream-cheese topped blueberry bars for dessert, EEK! But Goddess, it all tasted so GOOD! Then we all played some crazy word game called "Banana" while the cheap wine I'd supplied freely flowed, and we had a marvelous time. When delivered home about 9:16 p.m. I collapsed into bed where I lay in the dark, windows opened wide to catch any hint of breeze in the warm, moist air, the bedsheet draped loosely about me. I drifted off to sleep as I listened to the booms of fireworks going off in all of the parks, close and distant, around me. It was a wonderful 4th of July!

7,000 Year Old Preserved Children

Cf. Garbage Children? I am not at all certain that what seems to be the prevailing theory in archaeology and anthropology of "disposable children" is a correct reading of the existing meagre evidence. For instance, there are these lovingly-preserved mummies of children (and some adults, too) that are 7,000 years old - from the New World, no less. Article at downtoearth.org Parents’ keepsake Savvy Soumya Misra The world’s first mummies: arsenic poisoning victims in Chile in 5000 BC
(Image: Reuters. A mummified Chinchorro baby in San Miguel Museum in Arica city) Seven thousand years ago, about 100 km from the contemporary port city of Arica in Chile, a child died. The grieving parents did not want to part with the last remains. They removed the head and internal organs of the child, stuffed it with animal hide, painted a clay model of his head and decorated it with tufts of his hair. The delicately preserved body was excavated in 1983. Archaeologists believe it is the earliest mummy. More than 100 child mummies were discovered in Camarones near Arica that year. Later, preserved bodies of adults were found as well. Archaeologists say the embalmed bodies were of people from Chile’s Chinchorro community. Unlike mummies in later civilizations—most notably Egypt that flourished for 2,500 years beginning 3,000 BC—that spun around prestige, wealth and power, Chinchorro mummification was based on a democratic and humanistic view of the dead, and everyone was mummified. Archaeologist Bernardo Arriaza, who studies the Chinchorro at the University of Tarapaca in Arica, wrote that unlike the Egyptians who hid the dead, the Chilean community embraced them. The child mummies even took their place besides their parents at the dinner table. A few years ago Arriaza launched a daring new theory: the Chinchorro were victims of arsenic poisoning. “I was reading a Chilean newspaper that talked about pollution and it had a map of arsenic and lead pollution, and it said arsenic caused abortions. I jumped in my seat and said, That’s it,” Arriaza said. Following the lead, Arriaza collected 46 hair samples from Chinchorro excavated from 10 sites in northern Chile. Ten samples from the Camarones river valley had an average of 37.8 microgrammes per gramme—much higher than one to 10 microgramme of arsenic per gramme that indicates chronic toxicity according to World Health Organization (who) standards. The sample from an infant’s mummy had a residue of 219 microgramme per gramme. One theory is that they could have washed their hair with arsenic contaminated water but pathologists explain that washing is unlikely to leave such high levels of arsenic traces. Arriaza has another explanation. Chinchorros were a fishing society. They collected plants along river mouths and hunted both sea mammals and wild birds. They made fishhooks out of shellfish, bone or cactus needles, spear throwers were used to hunt sea lions and wild camelids, while both lithic points and knives were manufactured using flint stones. The Chinchorro lacked ceramic vessels, metal objects and woven textiles, but this was not a social handicap: their simple yet efficient fishing technology allowed them to thrive along the Pacific coasts. But life was not without dangers. In the 1960s tests on water drawn by the city of Antofagasta in the Camarones river valley showed that it was laced with 860 microgrammes of arsenic per litre—86 times higher than the limits acceptable by who. Arriaza believes this was so even 7,000 years ago. Tests on the Chinchorro mummies strengthen the arsenic poisoning theory. He also believes Chinchorros suffered from chronic ear irritation and impairment probably due to continuous fishing in the Pacific Ocean’s cold waters. They also suffered from parasitic infections from eating poorly cooked fish and sea lion meat. “In highly stratified societies like ours, lower-class children receive simple or meager mortuary disposal. But in a small group, the death of children certainly threatened the survival of the entire group. Affection and grief may thus have triggered the preservation of children,” the archaeologist said. [Or maybe, just maybe, the parents loved their children and truly mourned their passing, despite what cultural mores today's archaeologists and anthropologists impose upon the ancient peoples they study.] Chinchorro morticians made incisions to deflesh the body and removed internal organs. Clay, grasses and feathers were used to fill the cavities. The bodies were painted bright red from head to toe, the face was painted black or brown. A long wig up to 60 cm was used to ornament the head. Facial features were modelled to convey life. [As I understand this article in plain English, the children often died at a very young age because of excess arsenic introduced into their systems via mother's breast milk and contaminated other food and water.]

No Etruscan Link to Modern Tuscans

An intriguing article, and what I appreciate is that the author noted the experts indicated that their findings in no way indicate that there is NO LINK between the ancient Etruscans and modern-day residents of the same area, but only perhaps the DNA evidence has been so diluted we can no longer trace it with our current technologies. Unfortunately, the title and sub-title to this article are VERY misleading! 2009-07-03 17:06 No Etruscan link to modern Tuscans Study shows genetic discontinuity with Bronze Age people (ANSA) - Florence, July 3 - The current population of Tuscany is not descended from the Etruscans, the people that lived in the region during the Bronze Age, a new Italian study has shown. [If you read on, you will see that this is actually a mis-statement of what is currently known.] Researchers at the universities of Florence, Ferrara, Pisa, Venice and Parma discovered the genealogical discontinuity by testing samples of mitochondrial DNA from remains of Etruscans and people who lived in the Middle Ages (between the 10th and 15th centuries) as well as from people living in the region today. While there was a clear genetic link between Medieval Tuscans and the current population, the relationship between modern Tuscans and their Bronze Age ancestors could not be proven, the study showed. [But what about a link between the Bronze Age Tuscans and the Medieval Tuscans? That was not addressed in this article.] ''Some people have hypothesised that the most ancient DNA sequences, those from the Etruscan era, could contain errors or have been contaminated but tests conducted with new methods exclude this,'' said David Caramelli of Florence University and Guido Barbujani of Ferrara University. ''The most simple explanation is that the structure of the Tuscan population underwent important demographic changes in the first millennium before Christ,'' they said. ''Immigration and forced migration have diluted the Etruscan genetic inheritance so much as to make it difficult to recognise''. The scientific data does not necessarily mean that the Etruscans died out, the researchers said. Teams from Florence and Ferrara universities are working to identify whether traces of the Etruscans' genetic inheritance may still exist in people living in isolated locations in the region. The new study is published online by the scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. The Etruscans lived mainly between the rivers Tiber and Arno in modern-day Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany, in the first millennium BC. By the sixth century BC they had become the dominant force in central Italy, but repeated attacks from Gauls and Syracusans later forced them into an alliance with the embryonic Roman state, which gradually absorbed Etruscan civilization. Most of what is known about the Etruscans derives from archaeology as the few accounts passed down by Roman historians tend to be hostile, portraying them as gluttonous and lecherous. This problem is compounded by the fact that Etruscan cities were built almost entirely of wood and so vanished quickly, leaving little for archaeologists to investigate.
As far as I know, we have not yet been able to decipher the Etruscan language, although we do understand some individual words. The problem, as I understand it, is that there is a lack of long enough texts to be able to apply modern-day algorithyms, etc., that are now used to decipher a language. Another issue seems to be whether Etruscan is related to the Indo-European family of languages, or not.

Chesterfield, Missouri Site May Be Major Find

This is a great story. There is no way of knowing, unfortunately, just how many cities, sites and settlements of earlier resident Americans have been destroyed in the past, either knowingingly or unknowingly, as the people who eventually came to be known as the USA rushed to develop itself. Today we (hopefully) know better - Story at bnd.com, serving southwestern Illinois and the St. Louis region July 3, 2009 Archaeologists intrigued by Chesterfield site The Associated Press CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- Archaeologists digging at a site in west St. Louis County believe it was once a major market center for Mississippian Indians. Last year, Chesterfield workers excavating soil to build a retention reservoir cut into the ruins, exposing thousands of artifacts that included decorative pottery, ear spools, arrowhead and tool fragments, and beads used to make necklaces. Those involved in the dig hope to develop a more complete picture of what has been called Mississippian culture, a people who thrived from 1050 to 1400 then mysteriously disappeared. Archaeologists are especially intrigued because the site isn't far from the Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, Ill. Cahokia was a pre-Columbian political and religious capital and was the largest Native American city north of Mexico. "Nobody's ever looked at a major market center like this in eastern Missouri," said Joe Harl, vice president of the Archaeological Center of St. Louis. "The number of bowls, the highly ornate vessels that we are getting, tells us this was a major site." The excitement about the site has developed quickly. Not long after the artifacts were exposed last year, Stan Dampier was walking through the area with a friend looking for arrowheads. Instead, they found pottery shards that Dampier said looked "a little special." He contacted Harl, who was skeptical but still drove to the site about an hour after he spoke with Dampier. Harl quickly discovered a treasure trove of relics - copper ear spools, the remnants of homes, cooking and storage pits, even leftover deer bones. "That tells us there was a lot of ceremonial feasting," Harl said. All told, they discovered roughly 5,000 artifacts just in the initial search, although some were just tiny shards. The Army Corps of Engineers owns the site, so Harl and other employees of the Archaeological Research Center worked with the corps to get $150,000 in government money to conduct a dig, which began in earnest on June 24. Theories abound about what brought about the end to the Mississippian culture. Perhaps a minor ice age. Major crop failure. Political infighting. Economic competition. Flooding. Last Wednesday, excavation uncovered the remnants of a stockade wall - one more sign that the site was inhabited by a large community, Harl said. They also had found copper ear spools that probably came from the Great Lakes region. Among the Mississippians, wearing copper was a display of wealth. Harl's team had uncovered what they believed were the remains of a house. It was just a black patch of earth. The Mississippians built their homes with logs, vines, prairie grass and mud. The decaying remains left a dark square in the dirt, too well-defined to be a natural phenomenon. Harl said months of hard work and analysis lie ahead. The team planned on taking buckets of dirt and running them through a device similar to a washing machine, hoping to learn a little more about the Mississippian diet. Just one small part of a large mystery.

Palatine Hill Checkerboards

So what is this place? It is a room in the "House of Gryphons" located on the Palatine Hill in Rome. I don't have time to search it out today, I'm behind my time, darlings, and have got so much to do this last day off before returning to the office tomorrow. Sigh. That black and white checkerboard in the middle of the floor is, as best I could determine in a brief search, dated back to the "Republican" era of the Roman Empire, so perhaps sometime between 300 BCE - 100 CE??? Not sure about the dates, but it's not "archaic." It's gorgeous, isn't it! In addition to the black and white checkered 11 by 6 board in the middle of the floor of the room, which itself has a pattern on which a large board game could be played, the walls have maroon/white checkerboard patterns. There is a related article at The New York Times (published July 3, 2009) about some spectacular preserved relics of the past being opened to the public this year, for the first time ever in some cases, thanks to increased funding to make guards and guides available. There are more lovely photographs. What was the purpose of placing this 11 by 6 black-and-white checkered board (with a border to mark it out, in case you didn't notice it first thing when walking into the room), in the middle of the room? If it was just a design element, why not make it the same colors at the checkerboard patterns that were incorporated into the design on the lower walls? And I cannot make any sense out of the middle "checkerboard" on the back wall (looking at the photographs's back wall, center) that measures 8 by 10. My eyes are not good enough to count the number of squares on the rest of the checkerboards on the walls. Are they all the same, or are each one of them unqiue? Can anyone with particularly sharp eyes help me out here? Is a 6 by 11 board significant? How about an 8 by 10 board? I know the ancient Romans did not play their games on square boards (such as 8x8, 9x9 or 10x10, etc.) Is there any significance to the colors chosen? Inquiring minds want to know!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Night Miscellany

Tonight, I'm feeling spooky - this could not possibly have anything to do with the fact that I'm watching a Dateline NBC special on Michael Jackson, could it? Out of Kansas, a tale of the teenagers with all-black eyes... Not so scary - a little boy has published a book called "Soul Survivor" and the families of all involved say they believe this is definitely a case of reincarnation. Join with me now in saying they all wish for a big "cha ching..." A collection of scary tales at American Folklore... Whoa! This one scared me! The Haunted School... The image of a "ghost sailor" playing chess - with a doggie looking over his shoulder. Technically it is the left shoulder, but looking at the photograph, it is on the ghost's right side, where the shoulder would be, if there really was a shoulder, except there isn't...

2009 U.S. Open Chess Championship

I received the July, 2009 edition of Chess Life Magazine in the mail today. The lovely Jen Shahade (a former U.S. Women's Chess Champion and current editor of the USCF's Chesslife Online) is on the front cover. I think women should always be on the cover of Chess Life Magazine. (Photo of Jen Shahade from her website). Curiously, I noticed for the first time in the lower right hand corner that the magazine sells "on the stand" for $3.95. Where? I've never seen it offered for sale anywhere - and I am a frequent habitutee of Borders and Barnes & Noble... Anyway, I must not allow myself to get distracted, darlings! I have a complaint about the "TLA" pages in Chess Life Magazine. The print is smaller than ant poop! Well, at least I assume it is, because I've never seen ant poop, but you can be sure it's very tiny, as ants are tiny creatures! But even with my magnifying glasses on, I cannot read most of the TLA announcements in Chess Life! Geez, guys, considering that a lot of old fogeys like me read Chess Life Magazine (rather than visiting the online version of Chess Life, which I generally don't have time to do when I'm online because I'm doing so many other things online, like playing chess -), can't you do us all a favor and make the frigging print a little bigger? Please? The BIG news about this event, as far as I'm concerned, is that GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (now residing in Florida with her nuclear family), will be playing in the event! But since there is no official website for the event, one has no idea just what players have signed up to participate thus far! For such a PRESTIGIOUS EVENT (Jerry Hanken's words in an article in this month's Chess Life Magazine) shouldn't it have it's own dedicated website? I don't disagree that this is a great event. It should be treated accordingly! Maybe a dedicated website is in the cards down the line - I sure hope so. And if it is, I sure hope the USCF makes it easy to find! A Google search under 2009 U.S. Open Chess Championship did not yield any dedicated website on the first page of search results, but did yield a lot of unrelated stuff. I was able to FINALLY decipher the url for the website for this event, ta da! Here's some of the poop, er, scoop: 110th United States Open Chess Championship A Heritage Event August 1-9, 2009 August 4-9, 2009 August 6-9, 2009 Indianapolis, Indiana Prize Fund $50,000 based on 500 paid entries - else proportional - $40,000 Guaranteed!! [80% of each prize]. Top five players qualify for the 2010 US Championship! A one section tournament with Class prizes. All schedules merge after Round 6. Prizes[Projected] Top Places: $8000-4000-2000-1500-1000-800-600-500. Clear winner - $200 bonus. If tie for first, top two on tiebreak play speed game [W - 5 min, B - 3 min and draw odds] for bonus and title. Class Prizes: Top Master (2200-2399): $2500-1200-800-500. Top Expert: $2500-1200-800-500. Class A: $2500-1200-800-500. Class B: $2500-1200-800-500. Class C: $2000-1000-600-400. Class D: $1500-700-500-300. Class E & Below: $1500-700-500-300. Unrated: $800-400-200. Half Point Byes: Must commit before round 4; up to 3 byes allowed for 2000/up2 byes for 1400-1999, one bye for Under 1400/Unr Zero point byes are always available in any round if requested at least two hours before the start of the desired round! Entry Fee: Online, $135 by 5/15, $155 by 7/29 By mail, $137 postmarked by 5/15, $160 postmarked by 7/23 By phone, $140 by 5/15, $160 by 7/29 At site, all $180 GMs are free

A Beautiful Chess Park Needs Some Help

Here are photos of the design award-winning chess park in Glendale, California. Will city politics result in the slow death of a beautiful chess park? FROM THE MARGINS:A few moves at Chess Park By PATRICK AZADIAN Published: Last Updated Monday, June 29, 2009 10:10 PM PDT It took a stroke of genius for park-starved Glendale to turn an unused alley linking a city parking lot into a pocket park. The 4,500-square-foot Chess Park is a space devoted to its namesake, with five illuminated oversized chess pieces standing guard over the 16 concrete tables. Glendale residents may not think much of the park, but as is sometimes the case, people don’t always appreciate the jewels they have in our own backyards. The park came to my attention through a modern and well-respected architectural magazine. I had to read the review to the end to realize the photos and more-than-complimentary commentary was about our own Chess Park. I had to do a double-take of the stylish photos. “Wow!” was my immediate reaction. The park received the 2006 General Award of Design Honor from the American Society of Landscape Architects. A juror described the park as “Fun, fabulous and quirky. Exactly what an urban pocket park should be: playful.” The Glendale Chess Club was instrumental in making the park a reality. They had approached the city as a group to request a designated space where its club and others could play. The city found a solution by utilizing the undeveloped Brand Boulevard passageway. In a unique and progressive partnership, the city brought the landscape architects together with the Chess Club to ensure the design program met the organization’s playing needs and celebrated the rich history and traditions of chess. The final design for the park found its roots in the history, evolution and rituals of chess and its unique pieces. Ideas of form, function and meaning of the game as an instrument of culture drove the development of the park elements. More importantly, and beyond its architectural and artistic virtues, the park’s existence is a tiny symbol of victory of intellect over consumerism. In an age where grand malls, chain coffee shops and video games are defining our free time, the concept of a park dedicated to developing young minds and bringing people together is quite noble and should be appreciated. The park did and still has its detractors. Ironically, the $540,000 price tag was not a major argument against the construction of the park. The budget had already been earmarked before the park’s concept had been realized. The main crux of the argument against the park was the idea that the park could attract the “wrong crowd.” This same argument is as valid for green spaces, malls and the ever-growing number of coffee chains around town. The difference being, the Chess Park’s premise is to encourage thinking and strategizing during a game that is well-respected around the world. Yet, despite the well-intentioned purpose of the park and the occasional chess tournaments, the park is rarely utilized to its maximum potential. The construction of the park was initially highly politicized, and anyone wanting to support and promote the park at this point may find themselves alienating powerful lobbying blocs in the city. Moreover, although the initial idea of the park took creative thought and leadership to execute, once the project was completed, the creative thought on how to utilize the park virtually dried up. Years ago, one of the main critics of the park observed that the park is too hot, has no shade and no restrooms, making it inconvenient for regular use. I find myself in the odd position of agreeing, but not for the sake of confirming the “I told you so” viewpoint. Despite its award-winning design, it is possible that the park also lacks some of the essential conveniences to make it a viable alternative for people to come together. The beauty is that if managed correctly, residents wouldn’t have to spend money on a cup of coffee or shop for the latest fashions to have fun. Chess Park can be an intellectual, architectural and artistic symbol for our city. Concurrent with earmarking budgets for new projects for arts and culture, we should also learn to best use what we already have. With the right type of planning, leadership and minor improvements, Chess Park can begin to fulfill its potential by developing young minds, bringing people together and becoming a hip venue. It will take some courage on behalf of city officials and residents to make this happen. The alternative is the slow death of a beautiful idea.

Sophie Matisse Limited Edition Chess Sets

Sophie Matisse Paints Limited Edition Chess Sets for the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair announces “The Art of the Game” exhibition by Sophie Matisse, great-granddaughter to famous painter Henri Matisse. San Diego, CA July 01, 2009 -- Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair (BTB) announces “The Art of the Game” exhibition by Sophie Matisse, great-granddaughter to famous painter Henri Matisse. This exhibition will feature five uniquely painted chess sets, each featuring a distinctive design and edition number. Each chess set can be purchased for $16,000 at The Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, San Diego, scheduled for September 2-4, 2009 at The Grand Del Mar. “We are honored to have Sophie Matisse’s exquisite exhibition on display at our fair,” said Ann Berchtold, executive director and founder of BTB. “The four chess sets have their own unique imagery but also come together to create a unique design. Chess had been an important family tradition to Sophie growing up and this body of work became a tribute to that memory for her.” Sophie Matisse was born in 1965 in Boston. She is daughter to famous sculptor Paul Matisse, granddaughter to famous art dealer Pierre Matisse and great-granddaughter to Henri Matisse, French painter and godchild to Marcel Duchamp.Like her great-grandfather Henri Matisse, she embraces the decorative potential of her pictures. Like her step-grandfather Marcel Duchamp, she rejects the notion that decoration is all they need to offer. Indeed, if she dreams of anything, it is to reconcile the two statements presented above into a singular, harmonious visual entity—a work of art that not only pleases our senses, but that also challenges our intellect. She studied at College of Art in Boston, Massachusetts, and at École des Beaux-Arts in 1990 in Paris. Some of her extraordinary works are "Lions Den" from 2005, "Queen Easter" 2005 as well as "The 100 Smiles of the Mona Lisa" from 2000, "Real to Surreal" from 1999. Sophie Matisse is represented by Francis Nauman Fine Art in New York. Lugano Diamonds is proud to be a main sponsor of the Exhibition “The Art of the Game” by Sophie Matisse. San Diego’s first Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair (BTB) is a 3-day contemporary art fair that will include national and international galleries featuring over 500 works by jury-selected established and emerging contemporary artists from all over the world, exhibiting in The Grand Del Mar’s expansive ballroom accompanied by numerous luxury exhibitors and food and wine events. The event will showcase over $4 million in artwork coupled with sponsors such as Maserati, Modern Luxury Media, Qualcomm, Christie’s, The American Institute of Wine and Food, The California Bipolar Foundation, Lugano Diamonds, and many others. BTB anticipates ATTENDANCE OF over 3,000 new and established collectors over the three days. The public is invited to attend the event, which marks the first time these national and international galleries with investment-grade art will be presented in San Diego. Go to the BTB website to purchase VIP Tickets and Day Pass tickets: http://beyondtheborder-art/.

Chess Mentor: Orrin Hudson

Posted on Fri, Jul. 3, 2009 Mentor to troubled kids, he's making all the right moves By JULIA TERRUSO Philadelphia Daily News When Orrin Hudson speaks, it's hard to tell whether he's talking about chess or life: Make every move count. Surround yourself with smart players who can make you better. You will win or lose based on the decisions you make. Hudson, 46, a two-time city chess champion now living in Birmingham, Ala., has a surplus of catchphrases, raps and inspirational sayings that he uses to keep young people out of trouble. Today he returns to Philadelphia after 10 years to compete in the World Open chess tournament, which runs through Sunday at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, 17th & Race streets. Hudson was here in 1999 to compete in the same tournament, his last chess competition, coming in fifth overall and winning $200, at the old Adam's Mark Hotel on City Avenue. A former Georgia state trooper, he started a youth program in 1999 called Be Someone, after hearing about a deadly shooting at a Wendy's in New York. "I heard about that and I said, 'Evil prevails when good people do nothing.' " Since then, he has committed his life (and most of his income) to fighting educational disparities and youth violence. Through Be Someone, he has spoken throughout the country, and estimates that he has reached 20,000 children through his chess boot camps and motivational lectures. Hudson uses pop-culture references and high-energy rap/poetry to keep kids engaged and on the right track. One such kid was Robert Curry, of Atlanta. Curry was skipping school, his grades were bad, and he was hanging around with gang members. His mother, Debra, said that she couldn't sleep at night, afraid that he might not come home. "In my vision, I saw my son either dying far too early or I saw him in jail," she said in a phone interview this week. "I was so desperate for a solution." She needed an intervention for her son, and after hearing about Hudson on TV, she gave him a call at 1 a.m. and asked for his help. Hudson began tutoring Curry in chess - and in life - in summer 2004. Curry admitted ambivalence at first: What could this man with his corny catchphrases about chess do to help him? But after nine months, Curry said, he started making better decisions. His grades rose. He recalled one night when some old friends came around wanting to take him for a ride and he opted not to, thinking that it could be dangerous. That night, the friends wound up in jail after the cops pulled them over and found illegal substances in the car. "Orrin used to always say, 'People don't think. You've got to stop and think.' And this one time, I did that and it actually worked," Curry said by phone from Atlanta. Curry said that the procedural aspects of chess also helped him make it through school, get his GED and then into Georgia Perimeter College. "He said: 'Here's where you are; here's where you need to go. See it in your head; put it down on paper and get to that point,' " Curry said. Hudson also had a troubled youth. He grew up in the Birmingham housing projects with 13 brothers and sisters. He was stealing and hanging around with the wrong crowd, when a high school teacher, James Edge, introduced him to chess and a whole new way of thinking. "He said to me: 'Orrin, you cannot fly with the eagles if you're scratching with the turkeys. You gotta get yourself around people who are doing great things, making the right moves.' " Hudson said that he owes his life to Edge and is dedicated to paying it forward. Today, he'll go against chess players from around the world, although he's admittedly out of practice. It hasn't been much of a challenge playing with young men for the last 18 years. But the odds have been against Hudson before: When he was young, people told him that he wouldn't amount to much, and he was ranked last in the two chess championships that he eventually won. "I beat some people who had much higher ratings, and it's because nature is neutral," he said. "I teach the kids that." "You have everything you need to win the game. It's not about blame, it's about your aim. If you make the right move, you can get the right results. You win or lose based on the decisions you make."
What a great story! Good luck to Mr. Hudson in the World Open! The "Be Someone" website.

2009 U.S. Junior Chess Championships

(I obtained information from the USCF website and the WSCA website) Yippee! My hometown is hosting both the 2009 U.S. Junior Chess Championship (Closed) and the 2009 U.S. Open Junior Chess Championship. I am very happy to see an impressive line-up of the USA's most promising young chess talents competing in this year's Closed Championship (July 13 - 16): 1. IM Alex Lenderman (2654) 2. IM Sam Shankland (2564) 3. IM Ray Robson (2553) 4. IM Salvijus Bercys (2503) 5.FM Elliott Liu (2405) 6. FM Joel Banawa (2392) 7. FM Michael Lee (2384) 8. Maxx Coleman (2182, winner of the 2008 Junior Open) Alex Lenderman and Sal Bercys are among the chessplayers whom I happily followed during a year in their lives in "The Kings of New York" - a smashing good read! You don't have to "know" chess in order to appreciate the story the book tells. At stake are spots in the World Junior and the 2010 U.S. Championship. This tournament is right after the U.S. Junior Open , also in Milwaukee (July 10-12), which is divided into three sections: Under 21, Under 15 and Under 11. Frank Berry will act as chief arbiter. Time control is G/90+30sec/move increment. The games will be broadcast on the Internet Chess Club and CLO coverage will include players bios and reports from Alex Betaneli. I was not able to locate more information about prizes for the U.S. Junior-closed, the selection process, etc., and I am assuming it will be held at the same hotel complex as the U.S. Junior open, but I'm not sure! Here is more information about the U.S. Junior Open: 2009 U.S. JUNIOR OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR SIDE EVENTS ! ! ! ! (Entry Fee: $20 per event.) BLITZ: Friday at 7:00 pm. BUGHOUSE: Saturday at 7:00 pm. SIMUL: Saturday at 7:00 pm. PARENTS and COACHES TOURNEY: 3SS G/30 (not rated) Sat. 10:30 am - 2:15 pm - 3:30 pm. NEW LOCATION: RAMADA CONFERENCE CENTER MILWAUKEE 6331 South 13th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53221 Chess Rate of $79 is Valid until July 1st. Reserve Early at 414-764-1500 In an effort to bring more Regional and National USCF events to Wisconsin, WI Chess Academy, along with Vaja International Chess Academy and the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Association bring another USCF event, the 2009 U.S. Junior Open Championship to Milwaukee, Wisconsin over the July 10th - 12th, 2009 weekend! The entry fee for players is $35 advance, or $50 after July 9th. Cash Only at site. SPECIAL OFFER: Only $30 per player if 4 or more players pre-register together! More info. To register on-line, click on the "Tournaments" button at the top of this page, find the U.S. Junior Open Championship listing, then click on the red "Register" text link, follow the directions, and fill in the necessary information.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The True Origins of the Koran

From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" (Image: The Goddess Kore, from the PARTHENON, temple of the goddess Athena on the Acropolis. From the 6th century BCE. Photo Greek National Museum, Athens. Notice the artistry - are those just braids in her hair, or are they intertwined with serpents?) Koran Mohammedan scriptures, often erroneously thought to have been written by Mohammed. Moslems don't believe this.(1) But many don't know the Koran was an enlarged, revised version of the ancient Word of the Goddess Kore, revered by Mohammed's tribe, the Koreshites (Children of Kore), who guarded her shrine at Mecca. The original writing was done long before Mohammed's time by holy imams, a word related to Semitic ima, "mother."(2) Like the original mahatmas or "great mothers" in India,the original imams were probably priestesses of the old Arabian matiarchate. It was said they took the scriptures from a prototype that existed in heaven from the beginning of eternity, "Mother of the Book" - i.e., the Goddess herself, wearing the Book of Fate on her breast as Mother Tiamat wore the Tablets of Destiny. Sometimes the celestial Koran was called the Preserved Tablet.(3) There was some resemblance between this and other legendary books of divine origin, such as the Ur-text, the Book of Thoth and the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. As in the case of the Judeo-Christian Bible, the Koran was much rewritten to support new patiarchal laws and to obliterate the figures of the Goddess andher priestesses. See Arabia. Notes: (1) Encyc. Brit., "Mohammed." (2) Campbell, Oc.M., 443. (3) Budge, A.T., 52. *************************************************************** Kore Greek Holy Virgin, inner soul of Mother Earth [Demeter - The Divine Mother, she of the mare's head whose mane was entwined with serpents -- see earlier entry on Delphi]; a name so widespread, that it must have been one of the earliest designations of the World Shakti or female spirit of the universe. Variations include Ker, Car, Q're, Cara, Kher, Ceres, Core, Sanskrit Kaur or Kauri, alternate names for the Goddess Kali. Neolithic Asia knew a mysterious Goddess Ker, or Car, ancestress of the Carians.(1) Her city in the Chersonese was Cardia "the Goddess Car." Kardia became the Greek word for "heart," as cor became the Latin; both descended from the Goddess who was the world-heart. The same syllable is found in words for maternal blood relationships: Gaelic cairdean, kinship; Turkish kardes, maternal siblings.(2) The Goddess became Kardia ton kosmos: "Heart of the World."(3) Shrines of Karnak in Egypt and Carnac in Brittany were sites of gigantic temples and funerary complexes over 5000 years ago, dedicated to Kar or Kore. France had similar shrines in similarly-named locations, Kerlescan, Kercado, Kermario.(4) The last name combined the pagan Virgin with the Goddess Mari, who was sometimes her daughter, her mother, or herself, like Kali embodied in Kel-Mari.(5) Inhabitants of Carnac, and of Carnantum on the Danube, called themselves in Roman times the Carnutes, "people born of the Goddess Car."(6) In Egypt's early dynastic period there was a place called Kerma (Mother Ker) in Nubia, where mass sacrifices took place. A similar name, Kara, was held in reverence by several early Egyptian rulers. Egyptians spoke of an eastern land called Kher [possibly - Kehmet? -- land of the Mother Kar?], and called Palestine the country of Kharu.(7) Car or Carna was known to the Romans as "a Goddess of the olden time," whose archaic worship was connected with Karneia festivals of Sparta and the classic Roman Carnival.(8) Sometimes she was Carmenta, "the Mind of Car," who invented the Roman alphabet.(9) An extremely old temple on the Caelian Hill was dedicated to her.(1) A later variation of her name was Ceres, origin of such words as cereal, corn, kernel, core, carnal, cardiac. In the east this ancient Goddess was everywhere. Some said she was Artemis Caryatis, mother of the Caryatides of the Laconian temple of Caryae.(11) The Tyrian seaport of Caraalis (modern Cagliari) was sacred to her.(12) One of Israel's oldest shrines, the "garden" called Mount Carmel, was her place and that of her baalim (gods).(13) Kore was a great power in Coptic religion, with a flourishing cult at Alexandria in the 4th century A.D. Her festival, the Koreion, was held each January 6 , later assimilated to Christianity as the feast of Epiphany. [I believe this is the date the Holy Spirit in the form of "tongues of fire" was said to have descended upon the heads of loyal disciples of the LORD Jesus Christ who had gathered together in a room in Jerusalem to commemerate the 40th day after his death. This is an extremely ancient tradition that pre-dates Christianity and Islam. We have seen recently in Iran that people gather together to mourn the loss of a decedent 40 days after his or her death. The number "40" is mentioned several times in the Bible - according to Jewish tradition, this denotes a "long indeterminate period of time" but this is probably a later gloss-over of this number sacred to the Goddess]. Kore's festival celebrated the birth of the new year god Aeon to the Virgin, whose naked image was carried seven times around the temple, decorated with gold stars and the sign of the cross. The priests announced to the public that the Virgin had brought forth the Aeon.(14) The Koreion passed into British tradition as the Kirn, or Feast of Ingathering, which the church later changed to the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. Kirn was a cognate of the Greek kern or sacred womb-vase in which the grain god was reborn.(15) [I assume this is also related to cairn, sacred burial place of the dead, and to the word corn - a food of the gods in the New World, and related words such as kernel. I find it very interesting that earlier this evening I blogged an article about an intact Elamite "jar burial" -- perhaps another ancient tradition that is related to this equally old Mother Goddess.] Here again, the Kore or Ker was a virgin mother. The Goddess's harvest instrument, a moon-sicle, represented even the Christian versin of the festival.(16) The classic myth of Kore's abduction by Pluto was another instance of a god's usurpation of the Goddess's power, according to Gnostic sources. "Plutonius Zeus...does not possess the nourishment for all mortal living creatures, for it is Kore who bears the fruit."(17) Kore's resurrection represented the seasonal return of vegetation. She was also the World Soul animating each human soul, and looking out of the eyes. Reflection in the pupil of an eye was known as the Kore or "Maiden" in the eye. To the Arabs, it was the "baby" in the eye. The Bible calls either a daughter or a soul "the apple of thine eye" (Proverbs 7:2); and of course, every apple had a Kore. [Perhaps this belief is the source for the phrase in Bryan Adams' mega-hit song from "Don Juan DeMarco" When You Really Love a Woman, "...when you can see your unborn children in her eyes, you know you really love a woman... ." Notes: (1) Graves, W.G., 373. (2) Farh, W.P., 144. (3) Cumont, A.R.R.P., 72. (4) Encyc. Brit., "Carnac." (5) Braffault I, 474. (6) J.H. Smith, D.C.P., 39. (7) Erman, 228, 278. (8) Dume'zl, 386, 389. (9) Graves, G.M., 1, 280; 2, 137. (10) Encyc. Brit., "Carna." (11) Graves, W.G., 372. (12) Masa, 43. (13) Encyc. Brit., "Carmel." (14) Campbell, M.I., 34. (15) Neumann, G. M., 132. (16) Brewster, 424. (17) Robinson, 305.

Ancient Thracian Sanctuary Discovered...

...by spelunkers! Wow, it looks like a spectacular place. As majestic as any medieval cathedral. Just looking at this photograph sent shivers up and down my spine. This is definitely a sacred space/sacred place (it's got rock/stone/water in or nearby and it was [or is - like Lourdes] revered by people as a special place of worship). Now that it's been publicized, it won't take long before it's plundered. Unfortunately, enough information was provided in the article to enable determined looters to find it. I sure hope the archaeologists are already there and that guards have been put in place, with orders to shoot to kill. (That's how I feel about looters - they are barbarians, destructors of everything good, and should be killed on sight). From Novinite.com Bulgarian Speleologists Discover Unique Thracian Sanctuary July 1, 2009, Wednesday Speleologists from the city of Veliko Tarnovo have discovered an absolutely unique Thracian sanctuary in Northern Bulgaria. The news has been announced by Evgeni Koev from the speleological club "Dervent" based in Veliko Tarnovo. The speleologists came across the Thracian sanctuary several days ago as they were studying cavern objects along the Danube. Koev has preferred not to reveal the exact location of the sanctuary, which in his words is similar to the so called "Womb Cave" near the southern city of Kardzhali. It includes tombs, niches, and an altar. There also drawings of humans on the walls of the cave which look differently depending on the intensity of the sunlight falling on them. Koev believes that the fact that the sanctuary is located in a very inaccessible area has saved it from treasure hunters; in his words, the complex is in an excellent condition. [Not for long.]

7,000 Year Old Bulgarian Settlement Discovered

Novinite.com July 2, 2009, Thursday Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a 7 000-years-old settlement close to the northeast city of Shumen. The village dates back to the Stone-Copper Age, and is located in the locality of Chanadzhik, near the village of Sushina and the Ticha Dam. The archaeologists have discovered over 300 finds, most of which are made of marble. "These items are extremely rare. They were worn by very specific people. These are decorations that were not available to the masses. There are also others that are made of clay or bone," explained Stefan Chohadzhiev, an archaeology professor at the Veliko Tarnovo University, as quoted by bTV. The most valuable find of the archaeologists, however, is a fortification that protected the village mound from the west. According to Ivan Babadzhanov, an archaeologist from the Regional History Museum in Shumen, the fortification probably consisted of a stone wall; the items discovered there are Chalcolithic (Copper Age) ceramics.

Garbage Children?

Did ancient residents in the south of Vietnam dispose of very young dead children (and newborns) as if they were garbage? Here's the report: Ancient child deaths uncovered Friday, 03 July 2009 Australian National University An archaeological excavation in southern Vietnam of a site more than 3000 years old has shed new light on how the death of young children was viewed by community members and uncovered the oldest clear evidence of rice agriculture in the region. The excavation, led by Professor Peter Bellwood and Dr Marc Oxenham from the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology, studied a site 3-4000 years old named An Son. The research team’s findings suggest that death in young children was so common that community members were unlikely to revere the death of their offspring until they had survived for more than five years. “The burial of a new born baby without any associated grave goods and positioned within discarded kitchen material may suggest high levels of infant mortality, as well as a reduced emotional investment in very young children that may not live long anyway,” said Professor Bellwood. “On the other hand, the burial of a 12 year old child with high quality ceramics and stone tools might mean children that survived the danger years – birth to five years old in most cases – could be revered by family or community members in death.” The excavation has also revealed the oldest clear evidence of rice agriculture in southern Vietnam and uncovered the varied diets and agricultural practices of the pre-historic community. “While this excavation has revealed the earliest clear evidence of rice agriculture in southern Vietnam, their diets were extremely broad,” said Dr Oxenham. “A wealth of animal bones – some probably domesticated – attest to the dietary breadth of these early Vietnamese, including species of cattle, pig, deer, freshwater crocodile, shellfish and reptile and amphibian remains. “We also found a large number of stone adzes, many shouldered to accommodate long-since rotted wooden handles. That suggests a significant amount of forest clearance was occurring, presumably to increase the area of cultivatable land.” The excavation team has also found a large quantity of pottery from humble cooking vessels to massive, ornately-incised and patterned ceramics. The research team worked with students from ANU in collaboration with the Centre for Archaeological Research, Hanoi and members of the An Son village community. The work is part of a four year ARC-funded project, The Creation of Southeast Asian Peoples and Cultures, 3500BC to AD500.
How could Dr. Bellwood or anyone, for that matter, make such claims on the basis of two burials?

Elamite Jar Burial Transferred to Museum for Safekeeping

I hope it will be safe in the museum; you never know what the fundamentalist nut-cases who are running Iran may do. They've already flooded out countless ancient Persian ruins with their "dam building" projects and bulldozed others into rubble with their "road building" projects. Still others have been vandalized by bajis - the asshole thugs who think their shit doesn't stink. Ha! I've written about the Iranian government's deliberate destruction of pre-Islamic Persian culture many times in this blog. This was reported by CAIS from a report on Mehr News: Elamite Jar Burial Transferred to Haft-Tappeh Museum Wednesday, 01 July 2009 00:00 LONDON, (CAIS) -- Iran’s most intact jar burial, which dates back to the Elamite era, was transferred to the Haft-Tappeh Museum last week. Containing a skeleton in fetal position, the jar was discovered during the latest excavation carried out several months ago at Haft-Tappeh, a major Elamite site near Susa in Khuzestan Province, the Persian service of CHN reported on Tuesday. “This is the first time such an intact jar burial has been unearthed,” director of the Restoration Department of the Haft-Tappeh and Chogha Zanbil Center Kazem Borhani said. “Urgent actions were taken to preserve the artefact in situ in order to safely transfer it to the centre for restoration,” he stated. A piece of the jar has been removed to enable visitors to see the skeleton inside it, Borhani explained. An anthropologist has begun a series of studies to determine the gender of the skeleton, which is believed to date back to the Middle Elamite period (c. 1500-1100 BCE).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Reconstructions of the “Mykenaia”

From The American Journal of Archaeology (online) Volume 113 No. 3 July 2009 Abstract of an article by Bernice R. Jones. (Figure: Fig. 21. Reconstruction B of the Mykenaia with outline of the Striding Lady from Thera (drawing by R. Ruppert (modified from Doumas 1992, pl. 6). This study presents evidence for reconstructing two frescoes, including the well-known "Mykenaia," found at the Southwest Building at Mycenae. It argues that the Mykenaia did not depict a seated goddess facing right but a life-sized, standing woman striding to the left and that the other fresco portrays a half-life-sized enthroned woman, likely a goddess, facing right and holding a miniature female figure. The reconstructions are based on detailed examinations, drawings, and photographs taken to scale of the fragments and on comparanda. The argument is based on the innovative use of both experimental costume replications and digital imaging that superimposes details from other well-documented frescoes onto the fragments to test possible poses and details. The reconstructions proposed here are based on costume details depicted by the frescoes and on textual data, including intriguing Linear B ideograms. These reconstructions are then set within the larger spectrum of cult scenes in Aegean art, and some details of the dress worn in these frescoes are connected to Aegean cult.
There are lots of reconstructed images and other images to view. The outfit on the image pictured above (left) is very typical of what females of the Mycenaean culture wore: a tight-fitted short-sleeved blouse that buttoned under the breasts, on the ribcage and followed the natural line of the woman's waist downward, except in this instance the breasts appear to be covered by a very sheer fabric. Otherwise, the cinched-in waist and the bell-shaped, multi-layered skirt, are very much like that depicted on the so-called "Snake Goddess" (image right) which I believe dates to about 1650 BCE (not working from my notes tonight, so that may be wrong). Compare the images!
Notice the checkerboard patterns on the reconstructed image. The patterns remind me of similar patterns I've seen on lots of funereal objects and in tomb paintings from ancient Egypt.

Naked Goddess to be Carved into Hillside

This earth-shattering (ahem) story was reported in the Telegraph.co.uk: Giant naked goddess to be carved into hillside (400 metre long naked "Green Goddess", which was designed by artist Charles Jencks, and will be carved into the Northumberland landscape. Photo: PA ) A 400-yard naked "Green Goddess" is to be carved into the Northumberland landscape, under a new plan revealed by a mining company. Published: 11:46PM BST 01 Jul 2009 Dubbed the "Goddess of the North", Northumberlandia will be made from two million tonnes of earth dug out from an open cast mine in Cramlington, and tower 112ft into the northern sky. The Goddess, designed by artist Charles Jencks, will recline over the Shotton open-cast mine and form the centre piece of a new public park at the site. The open-cast mine, which began coaling earlier this year, will produce around 3.4 million tonnes of coal, two million tonnes of shale and 750,000 tonnes of fireclay during its eight-year lifetime. The entire development is estimated to cost around £2.5 million, and work will begin on the sculpture next year. Plans for the sculpture, which will be visible from the A1, were originally blocked by Northumberland County Council 2006 after 2,500 people objected to the proposals. But after a successful appeal to the Government by the Durham based The Banks Group, which runs the mine, the Goddess will now be able to go ahead. Northumberlandia represents an "attempt to provide a tangible, early and permanent benefit for south-east Northumberland", said The Banks Group. Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the firm, said: "Our duel aims with Northumberlandia were to create an outstanding artistic landmark which stands alongside the region's other main tourist attractions and to provide high quality leisure facilities for the local community, and we believe this final design will succeed on both counts. "Northumberlandia has already garnered interest and responses from people right around the world, and we're very excited to now be unveiling the project's final form. "It will take around 20 minutes just to walk all the way around her, and the design has been enhanced with more paths to allow visitors to the park to easily ascend the figure. "As well as the artwork itself, the surrounding landform park will offer important nature conservation and public health benefits, giving both local people and visitors an ideal place to exercise, picnic and enjoy themselves." "This artwork could not exist without the adjacent mining operation, and the sculpture will be part of the long-term local legacy that we always wanted the Shotton scheme to leave." Bob Downer, chief executive at the Blagdon Estate, which owns the land earmarked for the sculpture said the project was "bold and exciting". "Northumberlandia is a unique opportunity which will provide an exciting location for many future generations to come," he said. Northumberland County Council was unable to comment, but county councillor Wayne Daley told the BBC the Goddess was "ridiculous". "If we wanted something like this why didn't we just ask Jordan to open a theme park," he said. "It really is ridiculous to think that something like a naked woman, who is only there as a result of all of the slag and the coal from the mine, is a good way of attracting people to Cramlington."
Er, well, I don't know about you, but I think she's ugly.

Shira Chess Challenge!

Ohmygoddess, darlings. I'm not going to survive this. I'm not. I hope all of my faithful followers will commune and write a really fabulous epitaph for me, for I feel sure I'm soon to expire. For those of you who don't dig poetic crap, that means kick the bucket. Croak. DIE. aHHHHHH, I'm dying, Egypt, dying..... The good news is that Kelly a/k/a ChessDaddy has been amazingly patient with me - I'm shocked! Shocked and Awed! Tonight he instructed me to download a later version of Chessbase Lite. Skeptical all the way, I did as he instructed and it downloaded seamlessly. I ran into a hitch when I had to reboot my computer, which refused stubbornly to reboot! I solved that problem by kicking off the safety plug thingy that I've got all the techy stuff plugged into. I counted down from 10 and then kicked it back on. Amazingly, the computer booted up in much less time than ever before! Even more amazing, after re-downloading the data base thingies that Chess Daddy sent to me on June 24th, I opened up the Chessbase Lite 2007 program and hitting "open" and then "open" again (as Chess Daddy had previously instructed me to do, except there was no such function in the prior Chessbase Lite program I'd managed to download), I was able to download the data base thingies with no problem whatever! Now, of course, I have to figure out a number of things: (1) How to get rid of the old Chessbase Lite program that I previously downloaded. Mysteriously, it did not show up in my list of "programs" when I opened up the thingy to add/delete programs. So, where the hell is it? If I cannot find it, how do I get rid of it? (2) How to use those data bases I have now successfully downloaded to the Chessbase Lite 2007 program. (3) How to find the time to study everything that Chess Daddy has decreed I MUST. Oh Goddess. I'm already having nervous breakdowns over the two games I'm currently playing. I'm trying to do everything that GM Susan Polgar advised in her prescient Sunday article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and it's exhausting! And driving me crazy. And at the end of the day, I cannot escape this haunting, mocking feeling that I've no idea whatsoever what I'm doing. I'm scared to death every time I make a move! This cannot be normal! Help!

Southwest Chess Club: Coming Up...

This week's lecture (tomorrow night) (6:00-7:00 pm) will be given by Allen Becker. ANTHONY PARKER, as defending Club Champion, will be giving a SIMULTANEOUS EXHIBITION from 7:00 - 10:00 pm. This is a Free Event. Here is our major upcoming event for the summer: Southwest Chess Club Championship: July 9, 16, 23, 30 and August 6 & 13 6-Round Swiss in One Section. Game/100. USCF Rated. EF: $7 (must be a member to participate). SWCC Membership $10 (can join prior to first round). (Two ½ point byes available in rounds 1 through 5 if requested at least 2-days in advance; no byes available for round 6.) TD is Becker; ATD is Grochowski. Thursday events are held at St. James Catholic Church in the lower level of the Parish Center building (immediately in front of the church). The address is 7219 South 27th Street in Franklin. Parking in rear, enter through south door.
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