Saturday, August 15, 2009

Victor Keats - Chess Historian

Mr. Don is here, yippee! He arrived right on time, no hitches or problems in the itinerary, unlike the last few times he traveled here! As per usual, we got into one of our wide-ranging discussions while walking to the supermarket in high humidity and heat (I sweated, he did not), performing yard work (with lots of rest breaks - and I sweated, he did not) and before a late supper (served continental time at 9:00 p.m. in the air-conditioned comfort of the dinette area, where he shivered and later changed into what I consider winter-wear - who wears long-sleeved fleece when it's 87 degrees F outside?), the discussion somehow led to a chess historian that Mr. Don remembered as "Keene" - but what he was telling me of his recollections didn't jive with what I know about the only Keene that has anything to do with chess, so I said no, it has to be somebody else. We went back and forth, back and forth, and then I said I think I have two books written by Him. I dashed upstairs to my library and sure enough - there were two handsomely bound volumes on the origins/early history of chess written by Dr. Victor Keats. Hours later, I am now ensconced in the library upstairs working on this blog and Mr. Don is reading Keats (that is, chess historian Victor Keats) in the kitchen! Dr. Keats has a website, please pay a visit. Dr. Keats has a lot of important things to say about the origins of chess, information that is not readily available elsewhere than in his meticulously researched and assembled books. Here is a list of Dr. Keats' books I believe are available for purchase.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tania Sachdev Loses Chance at World Cup

One bad move and - the dream is gone for this year. Excerpted report from The Tania suffers a shock defeat Special Correspondent NEW DELHI: Top seed Tania Sachdev suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Bangladeshi National champion Sultana Sharmin Shirin in the sixth round of the women’s section in the Asian zonal chess championship at the AAI Club here on Friday. International Master Tania was cruising towards victory when she blundered on the 36th move. She resigned immediately. The unexpected result threw the championship wide open in the women’s event. Tania wound up her campaign with four points from six rounds. The rest of the field would vie for the title and the lone qualification spot for the World Cup. Nisha Mohota beat Monalisa Khaboo of Nepal to take her tally to four points, and will take on National champion Kruttika Nadig in the final round on Saturday. Sultana Sharmin Shirin has 3.5 points and enjoys the advantage of being paired in the last round with Sachini Ranasinghe of Sri Lanka who has only one point in her account. Earlier coverage also from The Tania loses crucial Asian Zone match, fails to qualify for WC Friday, August 14, 2009 New Delhi (PTI): Top seed and International Master Tania Sachdev's hope of qualifying for the World Cup went up in smoke after she lost her sixth and final game against Bangladesh's Sultana Sharmin Shirin in the Asian Zone 3.2 Chess Championship here on Friday. Against opponent rated 400 points below her, Tania blundered in the 36th move and immediately resigned. The Delhi teenager's loss left the championship wide open in the ladies section. National champion Kruttika Nadig and Women Grandmaster Nisha Mohota along with Sultana are now fighting for the single berth available in the World Cup. Nisha and Tania lead the table with four points but the later has completed all her matches. Kruttika, with 3.5 points, takes on Nisha in the final round, while Sultana is paired with Sachini Ranasinghe of Sri Lanka.

Malaysian Chess: Paralympics

From August 14, 2009 16:57 PM Paralympic: Chess Squad Eyes Six Gold KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 (Bernama) -- The national paralympic chess squad is determined to collect six gold medals in the B1 (blind) category at the 5th Asean Para Games (KL'09), starting tomorrow. Chief coach Abdul Latif Mohammad said it was not impossible for the team to collect six of the 16 gold medals up for grabs in the category. "We have experienced chess players, among them are those who won medals in the Asean Para Games in Korat, Thailand last year," he told Bernama here today. Abdul Latif said among the promising chess players in the national squad are Mah Hassan Omar (silver medallist at the Korat Para Games 2008), Idris Mat Saman (silver, Asean Para Games Manila 2005), Muira Mukri (gold, Asean Para Games Korat 2008) and three newcomers Amir Shamsuddin, Liyanah Abdul Hamid and Teo Suat Mui.On the B2 (impaired vision) category, Abdul Latif said, it would be tough to win medals judging from the Korat games which was monopolised by the Philippines with six gold and two bronze medals."Still, it does not mean we are not capable for a gold medal in the category," he said.The chess squad comprises 16 players, competing in the B1, B2 and B3 (partially-impaired vision) categories.

Orkney Dig Reveals 'Amazing Neolithic Cathedral'

From the Times Online: August 14, 2009 'Neolithic cathedral built to amaze’ unearthed in Orkney dig Lindsay McIntosh A huge Neolithic cathedral, unlike anything else which can be seen in Britain, has been found in Orkney. Archaeologists said that the building would have dwarfed the island’s landmarks from the Stone Age — the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. Nick Card, who is leading the dig at the Ness of Brodgar, said that the cathedral, which would have served the whole of the north of Scotland, would have been constructed to “amaze” and “create a sense of awe” among those who saw it. It is about 65ft in length and width and would have dominated the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness which stand on either side. These important sites, dating back about 5,000 years, might have actually been peripheral features of Orkney’s Stone Age landscape. Mr Card said: “In effect it is a Neolithic cathedral for the whole of the north of Scotland.” The shape and size of the building are clearly visible today, with the walls still standing to a height of more then 3ft — although they would have been far taller when built. They are 16ft thick and surround a cross-shaped inner sanctum in which the 40-strong excavation team has found examples of art and furniture made from stone. The cathedral was surrounded by a paved outer passage which the archaeologists believe could have formed a labyrinth that would have led worshippers through darkness to the chamber at the heart of the building. The team has also discovered that a standing stone which is split by a hole shaped like an hourglass was incorporated into the structure, something never seen before in buildings from the period. “A building of this scale and complexity was here to amaze, to create a sense of awe in the people who saw this place,” Mr Card said. “The perfection of the stonework is beautiful to look at. This is architecture on a monumental scale and the result is the largest structure of its kind anywhere in the north of Britain. “Today it is still so impressive and when you look down on it from above it is almost jaw-dropping. It is a real privilege to work here and we feel that this was a very special place.” Colin Richards, reader in archaeology at Manchester University and a leading expert on the period, said that the building would have stood at the heart of Neolithic Orkney. “A structure of this nature would have been renowned right across the north of Scotland — and is unprecedented anywhere in Britain,” he said. The dig, which has been operating since 2003, involves archaeologists from Orkney College and from Aberdeen, Glasgow and Cardiff universities. Volunteers have also travelled from the United States, Italy, Sweden and Ireland to take part. Last summer the team established that there was a very large building on the site, but it is only now that the true scale of the cathedral has been unearthed. The Ness of Brodgar site, which covers 2.5 hectares, has been described as potentially as important as the Skara Brae village, the world heritage site on the islands.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Into the Duat?????

For Shame! These people are using the concept of a very sacred place to try and make money - GROSS! Under the auspices of discussing Dan Brown's soon-to-be-released book "The Lost Symbol," a "conference" is scheduled. In my opinion, the best punishment for the people behind this project-for-profit would be to be cast into The Duat to navigate the challenges and terrors that await He/She who does not pass the Weighing of the Heart Ceremony after death. And I think THEY won't pass that test. Bwwwwaaaaaaahhhhhhh..... I got wind of this "conference" at the Conference speakers include: Simon Cox: a New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned expert on alternative history and ancient mysteries. His “Cracking The Da Vinci Code” sold more than 2 million copies and was translated into approximately two-dozen languages. Cox is acknowledged as the foremost authority on author Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series of novels, having also authored “Illuminating Angels & Demons” and “The Dan Brown Companion.” Cox’s latest book, “Decoding The Lost Symbol,” a companion to Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol,” is due to be published in November 2009 by Simon & Schuster. Michael Cremo: with a PhD in science and theology, he has presented papers at meetings of the World Archeological Congress, European Association of Archeologists, and the International Congress for History of Science. He has lectured at the Royal Institution in London, the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and at other scientific institutions around the world. Cremo is the author of the book “Forbidden Archeology.” William Henry: an internationally known investigative mythologist and specialist in the field of ancient, traditional science. He is host of the radio program “Revelations” and the author of more than 12 books. John Major Jenkins: the world’s leading authority on the traditions of the Maya and how the Maya employed symbolism to encode both astronomy and spiritual teachings. His books “Maya Cosmogenesis 2012,” “Galactic Alignment” and “The 2012 Story” are considered bibles of the field. Jon Rappoport: a Pulitzer Prize-nominated political journalist who has covered a variety of topics during his 25 years as a reporter and author including the covert influence of secret societies; medical research fraud; and the Oklahoma City bombing. His classic book, “The Secret Behind Secret Societies,” continues to inspire and stimulate readers all over the world. Are these speakers appearing at this conference for free in order to educate the public about their reseach and findings? Inquiring minds want to know!

Shira Chess Challenge: Graduation Day for Class 2!

Photo: Some of the kids at the Portugal orphanage during a lesson with Shira about the Leapster. IT'S GRADUATION DAY!!!!! The children of the second class at the orphanage in Portugal have reached graduation day after completing the classes on how to use their Leapsters. Every child gets a certificate for her/his accomplishment. While it's a brief video and choppy - mine lost sound toward the end (don't know if it's a computer thing or a video thing) - it is evident that the children cherish receiving their certificates of graduation, even if they try to act cool like they don't care. (You Tube video) I admit it - I'm a softy. This video chokes me up. Portugal was the last stop on the calendar for the Computer Labs for Kids Foundation this year. But a whole new schedule is being put together for 2010. As you can imagine, there is more need out there in that big old beautiful world of ours than there are Shiras to help fill those needs. Where will Shira go? Which kids, out of so many with so much need, will be visited by the Computer Labs for Kids? Stay tuned. Shira hasn't realized it yet but I've permanently attached her to my left hip! So when she knows, I'll know, and I'll pass the information along to you, darlings! AND ----- Shira and I are cooking up something -- don't know if anything will come of it, we'll see. I'll be meeting with my primary Goddesschess partners next week in Las Vegas (celebrating my birthday - I'm officially turning 39 again) and I'll put forth my ideas to them. If they approve (I will relentlessly browbeat them until they do) then we'll be researching for some suitable opportunities -- I will soon be starting a third full-time career. OY! In the meantime, that three-game chess match between Shira the Relentless and JanXena the Chess Incompetent is coming up fast!

Baltic Queen International Tournament

St. Petersburg, Russia, August 11 - 20, 2009. Some established stars and some players not so well known: GM Pia Cramling (SWE 2525)(Second chess femme, after GM Susan Polgar, to earn the "men's" GM title - photo, right, from website) GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant (SCO 2506) WGM/IM Elisabeth Paehtz (GER 2474) WGM/IM Vijtoria Cmilyte (LTH 2470) WGM Natalia Zhukova (UKR 2465) WGM/IM Ekaterina Atalik (TUR 2434) GM Zhaoqin Peng (NED 2418) WGM Anastasia Bodnaruk (RUS 2388) WGM/IM Irina Turova (RUS 2387) WGM Julia Demina (RUS 2378) Rav= 2445 GM norm 6.5 IM norm 5.0/4.5 (9 Rounds) Standings after Round 3 (not necessarily in tie-break order): IM Ekaterina ATALIK TUR 2434 2.5 GM Pia CRAMLING SWE 2525 2.5 IM Elisabeth PAEHTZ GER 2474 2.0 WGM Anastasia BODNARUK RUS 2388 1.5 WGM Natalia ZHUKOVA UKR 2465 1.5 GM Ketevan ARAKHAMIA-GRANT SCO 2506 1.5 IM Viktorija CMILYTE LTU 2470 1.0 IM Irina TUROVA RUS 2387 1.0 WGM Julia DEMINA RUS 237 1.0 GM Zhaoqin PENG NED 2418 0.5

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shira Chess Challenge: Portugal Class 2 Nearly Finished

It's getting close to the endof Shira's Portugal classes, darlings! Here is a You Tube video that Shira forwarded from the orphanage, an overview of the work she has done with the children. Tomorrow I'll post the video of the graduation of Class 2! Soooo- how is my training going for the three games Shira and I are going to play? In a word - okay, I'm not going to type that here, LOL! My coach, Chessdaddy (a/k/a Kelly Atkins of fame), has - I think - temporarily called a truce in our respective styles of playing chess. Not, of course, that I have a "style" per se, I only think I do :) Be that as it may, Chessdaddy and I have traded enough barbed communiques in the short course of our first training game (I believe we're now on move 6?) to blow up the house wherein a certain person is rumoured to reside - well, never mind. I must stay cool, calm and collected, and play chess with my substantial (ahem) intellect rather than my even more abundant (gross understatement) emotional instincts. In which case, the Earth would have long since been reduced to a burnt out cinder... It is not for nothing The Chief called me "Patton." I'm losing three of my current games and I'm certain that Chess Daddy has some nefarious scheme up his sleeve to crush me into minced garlic or something similar in our (my fourth) game. If I were not such an ethical person, I'd cheat against him! Oh yes, I would. That's an awful thing to say, isn't it. I'd do three Mea Culpas if I felt guilty about the thought - BUT I DO NOT. However, I do not own any chessplaying programs since my 1999 bootlegged copy of a certain very popular progam that shall remain nameless died after I upgraded to this now six year old desk-top. Oy! I'm too cheap (may as well be blunt about it) to purchase a new chessplaying program that I can use to cheat. I do, however, look back fondly on playing a certain chess entity identified as "Bobby Fischer" in that old program and actually lasting 19 whole moves. To quote Miss Elizabeth Bennet from the fabulous 1995 A&E production of "Pride and Prejudice", "So you see, it's a hopeless case." LOL! Please visit Computer Labs 4 Kids. Check out the Foundation's work and if the spirit behooves ye, please make a contribution to a most worthy cause.

U.S. Chess School Begins - Girls Only!

All right. The new chess guy at the is bringing it! I've enjoyed each of his columns since he took over. Good job, Steve Goldberg. All Girls Chess Camp session set to begin - girls only August 10, 11:07 PM Chess Examiner, Steve Goldberg The U.S. Chess School, which is sponsored by Dr. Jim Roberts in conjunction with AF4C (America's Foundation for Chess), is devoted to developing the strongest young players in the country. Started in 2006, this 10th edition is the first exclusively for female players. Previous camps have been held in Kentucky, New York, Arizona, New Jersey and California. From press release by Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis: Each session is attended by eight to 12 players. The St. Louis edition includes eight players ranging in age from 12 to 19, who will be tutored by coordinator Elizabeth Vicary, Chess School president Gregory Shahade and grandmaster chess player Gregory Kaidanov, who was one of the 25 competitors at the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship in May. "We are delighted to host this 10th United States Chess School and the first one held exclusively for girls," said Tony Rich, executive director of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis. "This is the type of activity envisioned by Rex Sinquefield when he founded our club. While our staff has seen club membership grow to more than 500 members in our first year of operation, we are especially delighted with the interest shown by young women and men in this ancient game of discipline and skill. Fostering the development of young players is a significant component of our mission." The participants for the 10th U.S. Chess School in St. Louis, Missouri have been named. They are: Abby Marshall: 2161 USCF, 17 years old, VA Darrian Robinson: 2011 USCF, 14 years old, NY Amanda Mateer: 2002 USCF, 19 years old, AZ Sarah Chiang: 2000 USCF, 12 years old, TX Megan Lee: 1972 USCF, 12 years old, WA Eve Litvak: 1963 USCF, 15 years old, NJ Rochelle Ballantyne, 1918 USCF, 13 years old, NY Linda Diaz, 1882 USCF, 14 years old, NY

Begging for the Sake of Chess

From The Telegraph (Calcutta, India) August 13, 2009 Begging for the sake of chess JAYESH THAKER Jamshedpur, Aug. 12: Organisers of a national-level chess championship are on the road with begging bowls to foot the bill for the nine-day meet in October. Facing government apathy for years, the cash-strapped Chakradharpur Chess Association (CCA) has already ordered printing of donation slips of Rs 100 and Rs 500 denominations. CCA officials have also requested shopkeepers and sports lovers to help them collect donations for the national under-17 chess championship. It is not possible for officials to re-approach some local and outstation suppliers for help as they already owe the CCA over Rs 3 lakh for conducting the 2nd International Fide Rating Chess Championship last October. Repeated requests to the state government for releasing funds have also fallen on deaf ears. The national Under-17 chess meet is scheduled at the Railway Mandap in Chakradharpur from October 6-14. About 100 boys and girls from across the country would take part in the championship being organised jointly by the CCA and the South Eastern Railway Sports Association (Sersa Chakradharpur). Though the railways are providing infrastructure, the rest of the expenses has to be met by the association. According to CCA secretary Umapad Battabyal, they expect to raise about Rs 2 lakh through donations. “If not that amount, we can at least raise Rs 50,000 from people. We will soon hand over donation slips to shopkeepers and sports lovers to help us out,” he added. Battabyal told The Telegraph from Chakradharpur that they had been forced to prune their budget (for the chess meet) from Rs 7 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. “Initially, the budget was on the higher side, but we have now omitted fireworks and cultural programmes to curtail expenses. We will manage to raise Rs 3 lakh from industry, MPs, MLAs from the region, souvenir, entry money and catering. But we still need rest of the amount to host the championship,” he said. State sports department officials, on condition of anonymity, said that they were now busy funding the National Games to be organised in November-December. Chess, being not part of the Games, does not get priority for now. “We are already feeling the heat. Organising a national chess meet in a small town like Chakradharpur is itself a big thing. However, the government is yet to respond positively to our requests,” Battabyal added.

Whoa! Terracotta Army Belongs to an Empress!!!

Okay - I'm trying to restrain myself. I wanted to write something like HISTORIAN LOBS NUCLEAR MISSILE AT COMMIE DIE-HARDS, or something like that, LOL! Here's the story reported by AFP: Terracotta army 'may have belonged to empress' (AFP) – 12 hours ago BEIJING — China's famed ancient terracotta army which surrounds the tomb of the nation's first emperor actually belonged to a female ancestor, a historian told a state-owned newspaper Wednesday. The army of life-sized figures discovered near the northern city of Xi'an is usually thought to be guarding the burial site of Qin Shihuang, who presided over the unification of China in 221 BC and declared himself the first emperor. But historian Chen Jingyuan told the Global Times he believes the emperor's ancestor Empress Xuan, who died 55 years before Qin's birth, was the real mastermind behind the army. Chen presents his evidence in his new book "The Truth of Terracotta Warriors," which details discrepancies such as the army's distance from Qin's tomb and the hairstyles and clothes of the warriors which he says indicate they belonged to the empress. "The hairstyle, the ancient Chinese characters found on some unearthed warriors and other evidence indicate the owner of the warriors was Empress Xuan," he told the paper. The clothes of the warriors were also painted in many colours, in contrast to the sombre black-clad soldiers of the emperor. "Empress Xuan, the so-called 'Empress Dowager Cixi of ancient times,' was one of the most powerful women in China's history. "During her reign, the Qin State was thriving and flourishing. This prosperity meant that this powerful woman had enough money to conduct such a huge project," Chin told the daily. But other historians and archaeologists disagree with his findings. Rest of article.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Southwest Chess Club: Popular Lecture Series!

LECTURE THIS THURSDAY, August 6, 6:00 pm: Arlen Walker: "Rudolf Spielmann, Caissa's Forgotten Hero" Arlen will be giving a short bio, at least three games, and several more positions to talk about, including maybe a few of his own, influenced by Spielmann's own statement: "A good sacrifice is one that is not necessarily sound, but leaves your opponent dazed and confused." The lecture starts at 6:00 p.m. 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. At 7:00 pm, we will have our 6th and Final Round of the Club Championship. 6 players are tied for first going into the last round, so there should be some exciting battles. Check out our blog for ongoing comments, and updated news and schedule. Here are the top board pairings: 1. ___ Becker, John R (4.0,2050) / Grochowski, Andrew (4.0,1788) 2. ___ Grochowski, Robin (4.0,1680) / Veech, John (4.0,2038) 3. ___ Zhou, Jerry Zhexua (4.0,1566) / Becker, Allen J (4.0,2010) 4. ___ Ireland, Johnathan (3.5,1778) / Fogec, Thomas G (3.5,1623) 5. ___ Coons, James J (3.0,1843) / Mhaskar, Rohan (3.0,1653) 6. ___ Gaddameedi, Vilas (3.0,1377) / Munoz, Daniel A (3.0,1840) 7. ___ Joachim, Peter Jam (3.0,1398) / Cirillo, Corrado (3.0,1826) 8. ___ Pokorski, Jeffrey (3.0,1733) / Brower, Nathan Jos (3.0,nnnn) 9. ___ Sagunsky, David L (3.0,1654) / Hildeman, Jonathan (3.0,1485)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chess Femme News

Some current news on chess femmes from around the internet -- I haven't had time to update Chess Femme News at Goddesschess, this will have to do for now, sorry! Chessdom has an interview with IM/WGM Tania Sachdev of India. Asian U14, Junior and Senior Champion, and won the national Indian Women Championship in 2006 and 2007, also being a runner up in 2008. She is also holding bronze medal from the World U12 Championship, awarded an Arjuna Award by the President of India in 2009. WGM Monica Calzetta of Spain won the Spanish Women's Chess Championship (July 28 - August 2, 2009) with 6.0/7, and earned E800 for her efforts. Congratulations to WGM Calzetta, way to go! Calzetta was a favorite player of IM Ricardo Calvo, one of our friends at Goddesschess, who passed away in September, 2002. It's hard to believe so much time has passed, sometimes it seems like yesterday and The Chief, as he was known amongst our small group, would call me from Madrid every now and then on a Saturday afternoon and have Carmen practice a few words of English with me over the telephone, LOL! As long as WGM Calzetta continues to play chess, I will follow her career in The Chief's memory. Report at Chessdom in English, website in Spanish. Chessbase has an article on GM Monika Socko's win of the Arctic Chess Challenge (August 1 - 9, 2009), calling "it the greatest performance of her career." She looks very happy in this photo from the Tournament taken by Sven W. Nilssen. As a result of her performance (TPR 2639), Socko (POL 2449) will gain 22.6 ratings points - way to go! Not many chess femmes participated in this event, but Katrine Tjølsen (Norway) scored a WIM norm. Of note - bragging because he's so cute and he is home-grown USA, IM Ray Robson finished in second place after tie-breaks and scored a GM norm! You can read about the final round at the "Chess Phantom's" blog - in English (thank you!) with lots of photographs and on-site observations. It's a lot of fun to read. The 96th British Chess Championships were held July 26 - August 8, 2009. Two Women's titles were won by IM Jovanka Houska (ENG 2393), with 6.0/11 finishing in 26th place overall: 2009 British Womens Champion and 2009 English Womens Champion.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Goddess: Maize Goddess Chicomecoatl - Follow-up

Prior post. Following-up on my comment to Carlos in response to his comment under the original post, I am not able to post images in a comment, so I thought I would post some images here, to show the remarkable coincidence of imagery between the old world and the new. When I first saw Chicomecoatl, I was very much struck by the "tower"-like crown she wears. It reminded me of other Goddesses I've seen wearing similar headdresses/crowns. Here is an image of the Goddess Cybele (which may be from Pergamum) - I was wrong in the information in my post - this is NOT the image of Cybele sent to Rome in c. 204 BCE. That Cybele was a sacred Black Stone that fell from the sky (a meterorite), similar to many other sacred Black Stones from Heaven worshipped as the Goddess -- Diana of Ephesus, for instance, and the sacred Black Stone in the Kabala at Mecca, which pre-dates the foundation of Islam. I do not have a date on this Cybele. By the way, Diana of Ephesus was also often depicted with a tower-like crown, many-breasted, and with cornucopias of fruit and grains. There are many sculptures and icons, going back as far as Catyl Hoyuk, showing a Goddess seated on a throne flanked by two lions, often wearing a towering crown or an actual tower as a crown. Here is an image of the Syrian goddess Atargatis, also known as Dea Syria by the Romans: Goddess wearing an impressive mural crown and flanked by doves, probably Artargatis identified with Aphrodite/Venus. Relief from the temple of Adonis at Duro-Europos. Dated to around the 1st century BCE. (Bilde attributes it to Khirbet Et-Tannur.)Drawing © S. Beaulieu, after Bilde 1990: 175, fig. 7. More tomorrow - got to show down now - another severe thunderstorm with a lot of lightning is rolling through now. I can see this is going to be a sleepless night. Time to pull out a good book.

Arctic Chess Challenge

Final standings - 120 players (after Round 9): 1 GM Monika Socko 2449 7.0 PF 2639 2 IM Ray Robson 2491 7.0 PF 2628 - earned a GM norm! 16 WGM Natalia Zdebskaja 2412 6.0 23 WFM Katrine Tjølsen 2138 6.0 31 IM Anna Zozulia 2341 5.5 48 Marianne Wold Haug 1975 5,0 56 WIM Silje Bjerke 2233 4.5 72 WIM Melissa Greeff 2038 4.0 91 Sandra Van de Venter 1665 3.5 92 Elise Forså 1375 3.5 94 Anita Bratbak 1226 3.5 110 Dericka Figaro 2.5 111 Gorata Leso 2.5 112 Taniá Rista De Beer 1203 2.5 113 Liné Nieuwoudt 1024 2.5 114 Isabella Asiema 2.5 116 Danielle Pienaar 1071 2.0 118 Rachelle Hoareau W 0.5

Egyptian Carving Looks Like Michael Jackson

I couldn't resist. This story reminded me of a feature we used to run in The International Chessoid, featuring chess players and look-alikes from the past. This image was posted on July 28, 2008 but as far as I know, articles about it have only recently appeared. Image is from the website Totally Looks Like. The statue is from the New Kingdom period, part of the collection at the Field Museum in Chicago. By the way, it's a woman :) Egyptian statue 'looks like Jackson'

2009 Montreal Open Chess Championship

The 89th Championship of Montreal is fast approaching! Soon it will be here - September 11 - 13, 2009. The Tournament will be held at the Centre de loisirs (Recreation Center) Sts-Martyrs-Canadiens. Check out one of my prior posts for some historical background on this great event. Club d'echecs Ahuntsic is organizing everything and sponsors Recrutnet, Inc. and the city of Montreal guaranteed a prize fund of $5,000 CAD. Goddesschess is sponsoring three class prizes for the chess femmes in Classes B, C and D. In addition, Goddesschess is providing funding assistance to bring IM/WGM Salome Melia (GEO 2441) to Montreal to play in the Championship! We are very excited about this opportunity. Right now, we are all on pins and needles, awaiting word on whether WGM Melia can get a visa in time to arrive in Montreal to play in the Tournament. Stay tuned for further news! Photo of Melia from Queens of Chess, 12/23/08. Melia, born in 1987, is currently ranked 44th of the top 100 women. In the meantime, 87 players have registered for the Tournament! Registrations are going well -- As of August 1st, 73 players had registered. The tournament organizers are hoping for a record-breaking turn-out, and so are we! Live coverage and more will be provided by Monroi. Official website of the tournament. 2009 Montreal Open Chess Championship Prize Fund = $5,000 Section A (Open) : Prize Fund = $2575: 1-$1300, 2-$650, 3-$325, Class Prizes: $200, $100 Other Sections, 1st 2nd 3rd Class (1) Jr. Section B <2000> Section C <1600> Section D <1200> Unrated Prize: $35(2) (1) The classes will be defined before the start of the second round; dependent upon the rating distribution. (2) An unrated player is also eligible to win any other prize in any section, up to a limit of $100.A player whose rating index is 100 or more points greater than a section's limit may not play in that section. e.g., xxxx.13 may not play in Section D. Schedule: Friday September 11 - late entries 17:30-18:15- Round 1 at 19:00 Saturday September 12 - Round 2 at 10:00 Saturday September 12 - Round 3 at 15:00 Sunday September 13 - Round 4 at 10:00 Sunday September 13 - Round 5 at 15:00 Entry Fees: Section Until Aug. 1 - After Aug. 1 - At the Trmt. A Open $50 $60 $70; B -2000 $40 $50 $60; C -1600 $35 $45 $55; D -1200 $30 $40 $50. Free for GMs, IMs and FMs. Free for Quebec Masters who confirm their participation before September 1st. If later, $30 with no additional fees. FQE membership required. All participants must be members of la Fédération québécoise des échecs (FQE). Register online. Register for FQE membership online. Don't quote me on this because my French is terrible, but it looks like a player can purchase a one-time "pass" to play in a particular event for $10 CAD, or can opt to purchase a full one-year membership in the FQE for $40 CAD. Several young chess femmes will be playing in the Tournament, including Kelly Wang (CAN 1580), who won Goddesschess' Promoted Pawn prize in 2008 for her performance in the Canadian Open.

Stormy Weather!

Whew! We finally got the rain we so desperately needed around here. It started raining off and on Friday afternoon. Yesterday morning (Saturday), we got a series of thunderstorms blowing through, and we got the bulk of our rain. The grass, particularly my neighbors' lawns who hadn't watered, literally grew greener in front of my eyes. Yesterday morning started out cool, although damp, of course, from the rain. I was able to sleep with the windows open Friday night. As more storms swept through Saturday morning I had the front door open to catch the breezes from the east and the patio door open in the back of the house to get good cross-ventilation as I watched t.v. in the living room. At one point there were some fierce blasts of wind and downpours and I thought "tornado!" - scrambling to turn on the radio to see if there were any warnings in the area. But I heard nothing out of the ordinary (nor were there any scrolled warnings on the bottom of the t.v. screen, the kind you see during severe weather). It happened three times in short succession, and then things calmed down, although it continued to rain for another hour. At about 11 a.m. the rain stopped and I quickly walked to the supermarket and back, because the forecast was for HOT AND HUMID, and I don't do well in such weather. When I got back to the house I wiped myself down, closed down the house and turned on the central air. Ahhhhhh, relief! It's been on since, and will be on for at least the next four-five days as the forecast is for HOT AND HUMID, with Heat Advisories in effect. The Heat Index will zoom over 100F today and will stay there for awhile. The dew point yesterday rose to 74! Anything above about 53 for me rates from extremely uncomfortable to sheer torture. It's actually going to be a treat to get to Las Vegas' dry 105F air! When I got back home from the supermarket and shut down the patio door I saw for the first time a very large limb down - obviously torn off one of trees, I figured during one of those microbursts. It had smashed down on some of my planting beds near the west fence line, so I dragged it to an area in the yard where I would be able to work on deconstructing it later on. That sucker was HEAVY! I don't think the photo shows just how large and heavy it was. Later on - after another series of storms rumbled through in mid-afternoon - I noticed some foilage that didn't belong where I was seeing it as I opened up the patio door to survey the backyard. I stepped out to investigate, down by the west fence line behind the "island" of trees and plantings. Sure enough, there was a very large limb down, straddled over the fence, sort of caught between two of the arborvitaes on the other side of the fence and one of the trees on my side. Much too large for me to attempt to remove myself. Thankfully, Mr. Don will be here on Saturday, so that branch can wait until then, when he can help me move the white trellis out of the way and then heave that branch from over the fence out into an open area of the yard where we can tackle it with clippers and saws. In the meantime, before 8:30 a.m. this morning, I girded my loins (figuratively speaking), pulled out the clippers and heavy gloves and commenced to deconstruct the large tree limb I'd pulled up to the hill the day before. It's not finished yet. With several breaks dashing inside to cool off, I worked about 20 minutes and then I couldn't take it anymore. Most of the easy work is done (clipping off the foilage). I have to tackle what's left with a saw. I'm waiting for the shady part of the afternoon to come around (after 2 p.m.) Meanwhile, I suffered several new mosquito bites. I should have drenched myself in bug spray but it's absolutely unbearable to wear that stuff when you feel like you're swimming in hot tea! Yech! That's what the air is like outside right now. Me, I'm staying inside as long as I can. The grass will NOT be cut although it needs it - not until the dew point drops below 60. That hazy look in the photographs - that is not intentional, or poor photography. That's how much moisture is in the air right now - it's like shooting through fog.

Summer and Squirrel

Last Sunday dawned dank and gloomy, but by 9:00 a.m. when I met the ladies for our investment club meeting at Meyer's Restaurant, it had turned gorgeous outside! There was a nice breeze, it was sunny and, most important to my aching bones these days, DRY! The dew point had dropped into the 40's and it was very comfortable. Ultimately the temperature got up to around 85F, but during the afternoon on the deck, in the shade of the backyard, it was lovely. I pulled the laptop outside and worked on the deck for several hours. While I was out there, the birds were busy taking baths, the yellow finches were out in force picking at the seed heads on the catnip and wild fox glove, and the squirrels kept coming because they knew I'd continue to toss them almonds while I was there and they were there! LOL - those squirrels really have me trained. Then, about 5 p.m. or so, along came this very old squirrel. It moved so slowly, and its whiskers were very grey. There were lots of wrinkles around his eyes and nose. Maybe he had bad teeth too, because he couldn't seem to crack through the almond shells. Fortunately, I had some peanuts and he was able to bite through the peanut shells to get to the "nut" underneath. He greedily ate several, and then settled down for a nap, right on the grass! Here are a couple of photos. He hung around the yard for a couple of hours. At one point, he was very close to the deck, laying on the grass, and he was so still, I thought he may have died. Well, if I were a squirrel I could think of a lot worse places to die. My yard is pretty cool (from a squirrel's point of view - free food tossed out throughout the day, plus lots of berries and roots and bugs, always clean water and plenty of trees to live in. What's not to like? I've buried other dead animals in the backyard over the years, so I was mentally preparing myself to pull out the shovel and grab some plastic bags. But the old fella was just napping again. He eventually woke up and wandered off along the north side of the house toward the east. I saw him last Monday morning shortly after 6 a.m. and I tossed him some more peanuts. I haven't seen him since then.

2009 Euro Chess Young Masters

Final standings (after Round 9): 1 1 Zhigalko, Sergei 2621 7.0 2692 2 4 Moranda, Wojciech 2545 6.5 2649 3 3 Geetha Narayanan Gopal 2575 6.5 2628 4 2 Iotov, Valentin 2603 5.5 2540 5 5 Giri, Anish 2518 5.0 2500 6 8 Burg, Twan 2422 5.0 2486 7 11 Pruijssers, Roeland 2401 4.5 2455 8 6 Melia, Salome 2441 4.5 2413 9 12 Kleijn, Christov 2377 4.5 2399 10 9 Ringoir, Tanguy 2406 4.0 2361 11 10 Van Oosterom, Chiel 2402 4.0 2355 12 15 Otte, Marijn 2298 4.0 2329 13 16 Hoolt, Sarah 2240 4.0 2323 14 14 Van Assendelft, Floris 2332 4.0 2293 15 7 Miedema, Roi 2432 3.5 2314 16 13 Bok, Benjamin 2360 3.5 2268 17 18 Rademakers, Evert 2154 3.0 2216 18 17 Schut, Lisa 2212 2.0 2115

Shira Chess Challenge: Portugal Class 2 Day 3

Direct from Shira -- Hello, Today we had our last official class and graduation for our second group of children at the orphanage here in Portugal! (Video at You Tube) I will be back next week to answer their questions and help a few children who couldn't make it today. Before I leave Portugal, I'll be sending out a summary video of the project which will tell more about the children here and my plans for next year. Thank you very much for following along. Sincerely, Shira
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