Saturday, July 17, 2010

Harpocrates Found in Garbage Heap in Silchester

So much for the value placed on this Roman misinterpretation of the child-figure god Horus.

From the
Relic of Harpocrates, the god of secrecy and silence, found at Silchester
Archaeological dig at abandoned Roman city in Hampshire yields earliest representation of an Egyptian deity found in Britain
Maev Kennedy, Friday 16 July 2010 14.06 BST

A battered and corroded thumb-sized piece of bronze has turned out to be a unique find, the earliest representation of an Egyptian deity from any site in Britain – and appropriately, after almost 2,000 years hidden in the ground, it is Harpocrates, the god of secrecy and silence. (Image: An example of Egyptian Horus-as-child, Late Dynastic Period, 715-332 BCE)

The little figure was found at Silchester, site of an abandoned Roman city in Hampshire, in last summer's excavation, but his identity was only revealed in months of careful conservation work. His Greek and Roman designation as Harpocrates, the god of spymasters, is actually a transcription error.

"In Egyptian mythology the figure is known as Horus, the child of Isis and Osiris," said Professor Mike Fulford of the University of Reading, director of the Silchester excavation. "He is often shown with his finger in his mouth, a gesture that in Egypt represented the hieroglyph for his name, but was misinterpreted by the Greeks and Romans, resulting in his adoption as the god of silence and secrecy."

He was originally an ornament on an object, which is itself unique. "The figurine was attached to part of a charcoal-burning brazier which would have been used to provide heating and lighting. This brazier is the only one found in England so we are doubly excited," Fulford said. "The brazier, the sort of thing you would expect to find in Pompeii, is the first evidence of such a luxurious item from Roman Britain."

The context of the find suggests the brazier was imported, and later thrown out into a rubbish pit, in the first century AD.

Silchester is one of the most enigmatic Roman sites: after it was abandoned in the 7th century, with houses tumbled and the wells filled in, it was never reoccupied. A medieval abbey and manor farm clipped only a corner of the site; today, it remains open farmland surrounded by spectacular ruined Roman walls, still 20ft high in places.

Fulford has been digging at Silchester for half a lifetime and now returns every summer for training digs with his students and volunteers from all over the world. They are gradually peeling back the layers of an extraordinary history.

He now believes it was an iron age city of up to 10,000 people, the oldest and largest in Britain, built on the regular grid pattern which historians had believed arrived with the Romans. The evidence suggests Silchester never regained its wealth and power after the Roman invasion, and may have been burned to the ground and rebuilt in the Boudiccan rebellion of 60AD.

Among its puzzles are the dog skeletons which turned up all over the site, one found carefully buried standing upright, still on guard after 2,000 years. Other skeletons show cut marks from flaying, suggesting the inhabitants had a flourishing craft industry of making puppy-fur cloaks.
It's no mystery to me why this place was abandoned and never reinhabited.  It was cursed - by the Goddess - for the horrible abuse the residents committed against puppies and dogs.  Dogs were the special companions of the most ancient Goddess.  Puppy-fur cloaks, heh?  The Goddess finally gave them what they deserved, and they tore down their houses and filled the wells in superstitious fear as they fled, never to return.

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R 7 Results/Standings

Krush - Melekhina: 1- 0
Abrahamyan - Foisor: 1 -0
Baginskaite - Zenyuk: 0 - 1
Zatonskih - Marinello: 1 - 0
Rohonyan - Marshall: 1 -0

Pairings for R8:

1 WGM Sabina Foisor 2.5 2356 WIM Alisa Melekhina 3.5 2323
2 WIM Iryna Zenyuk 3.0 2286 IM Irina Krush 6.0 2521
3 WFM Abby Marshall 0.5 2211 WGM Camilla Baginskaite 2.0 2387
4 WIM Beatriz Marinello 1.5 2206 WGM Katerina Rohonyan 3.5 2322
5 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 6.0 2403 IM Anna Zatonskih 6.5 2518

Now a big battle for 4th place prize money.

Games in PGN:

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 7"]
[White "IM Irina Krush"]
[Black "WIM Alisa Melekhina"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "1"]
[Input "DGT6645"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Ne1 Nd7 10. Be3 f5 11. f3 f4 12. Bf2 g5 13. Rc1 Ng6 14. Nb5 Nf6 15. c5 g4 16. cxd6 cxd6 17. Nc7 g3 18. Nxa8 Nh5 19. Kh1 Qh4 20. Bg1 gxh2 21. Bf2 Ng3+ 22. Bxg3 fxg3 23. Nc7 Nf4 24. Ne6 Re8 25. Rc7 Bf8 26. Nxf4 exf4 27. Qc2 Bh3 28. gxh3 Qxh3 29. Ng2 Qh6 30. Rxb7 a5 31. Rc1 Re5 32. Qc8 Qf6 33. Qg4+ Rg5 34. Qe6+ 1-0

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 7"]
[White "WFM Tatev Abrahamyan"]
[Black "WGM Sabina Foisor"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "2"]
[Input "DGT4964"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Bg7 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Bc4 Qa5 8. O-O O-O 9. Bb3 d6 10. h3 Bd7 11. Re1 Rac8 12. Qe2 a6 13. Rad1 Rfe8 14. f4 Nh5 15. Qf2 Nxd4 16. Bxd4 Bxd4 17. Rxd4 Be6 18. Bxe6 fxe6 19. e5 d5 20. g4 Ng7 21. Re2 b5 22. a3 Rf8 23. Qe3 Qb6 24. Red2 Rc4 25. Ne2 a5 26. Kg2 b4 27. axb4 axb4 28. R4d3 Qa6 29. Nd4 Qa1 30. b3 Rcc8 31. Rf2 Kh8 32. Qd2 Qa5 33. Ne2 Rc5 34. Rd4 Rb8 35. Nc1 Rcb5 36. Ne2 Rc8 37. Ng3 Rf8 38. Kh2 Qb6 39. Nf1 Rc8 40. Ne3 Ne8 41. Ng2 Qb8 42. Re2 Nc7 43. Nh4 Rg8 44. f5 exf5 45. gxf5 g5 46. Ng6+ hxg6 47. Rh4+ Kg7 48. Qxg5 Kf8 49. Rh7 Qd8 50. f6 Ke8 51. f7+ Kd7 52. fxg8=Q 1-0

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 7"]
[White "WGM Camilla Baginskaite"]
[Black "WIM Iryna Zenyuk"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Board "3"]
[Input "DGT4948"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. b6 g6 6. Nc3 Qxb6 7. Nf3 d6 8. Nd2 Nbd7 9. e4 Bg7 10. Be2 O-O 11. O-O Qc7 12. f4 Bb7 13. Nc4 Nb6 14. a4 Rae8 15. a5 Nxc4 16. Bxc4 e6 17. Qf3 Nxe4 18. Nxe4 exd5 19. Bxd5 Bxd5 20. Nf6+ Bxf6 21. Qxd5 Qd7 22. f5 Bd4+ 23. Kh1 Re5 24. Qc4 Rxf5 25. Qxa6 Re8 26. Bf4 Bxb2 27. Rad1 d5 28. g4 Rxf4 29. Rxf4 Be5 30. Rff1 d4 31. Qc4 Qc6+ 32. Kg1 Re7 33. Rde1 Qd6 34. Re2 d3 35. Rd2 Bd4+ 36. Kg2 Qc7 37. Qxd3 Qxa5 38. Re2 Qa8+ 39. Rf3 Rxe2+ 40. Qxe2 Qd5 41. Qb5 Kg7 42. h3 Qe6 43. Qd3 Qd5 44. Qb5 h5 45. gxh5 Qg5+ 46. Kf1 Qg1+ 0-1

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 7"]
[White "IM Anna Zatonskih"]
[Black "WIM Beatriz Marinello"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "4"]
[Input "DGT4950"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 a6 7. Qc2 dxc4 8. Bxc4 b5 9. Bd3 Bb7 10. a4 Nc6 11. Qe2 Nb4 12. Bb1 bxa4 13. O-O a5 14. Rd1 Nfd5 15. Bg3 Ba6 16. Qd2 Bc4 17. Nxa4 Nb6 18. Rc1 Rc8 19. Nc5 Ra8 20. e4 Ra7 21. Qc3 Qa8 22. Ne5 Bb5 23. Qe3 Rd8 24. Bf4 c6 25. Qh3 Bxc5 26. dxc5 Nd7 27. Nxd7 Raxd7 28. Bd6 e5 29. Ra3 Rxd6 30. cxd6 Rxd6 31. Qc3 Qd8 32. h3 Rd1+ 33. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 34. Kh2 Qxb1 35. Rxa5 h6 36. Qxb4 Qc1 37. Ra8+ Kh7 38. Qc3 Qf4+ 39. Qg3 Qxe4 40. Re8 f6 41. Re7 Qg6 42. Qxg6+ Kxg6 43. b4 h5 44. Kg3 Kh6 45. h4 g5 46. hxg5+ Kxg5 47. Rg7+ Kh6 48. Rg8 Bc4 49. Rc8 Bd5 50. Rd8 1-0

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 7"]
[White "WGM Katerina Rohonyan"]
[Black "WFM Abby Marshall"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "5"]
[Input "DGT4947"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nc6 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. cxd5 Bxf3 5. gxf3 Qxd5 6. e3 e5 7. Nc3 Bb4 8. Bd2 Bxc3 9. bxc3 Qd6 10. Rb1 b6 11. f4 exf4 12. e4 Nge7 13. Qf3 O-O 14. Bxf4 Qa3 15. Bg2 Ng6 16. O-O Nxd4 17. cxd4 Qxf3 18. Bxf3 Nxf4 19. Rfc1 c5 20. dxc5 Nd3 21. Rc4 Nxc5 22. a4 Rad8 23. a5 Rd6 24. axb6 axb6 25. Rcb4 Rb8 26. h4 Rf6 27. Kg2 Kf8 28. h5 Ke7 29. Rb5 Ne6 30. Bg4 Kd8 31. Rd5+ Kc7 32. Rc1+ Nc5 33. e5 Rc6 34. f4 Rd8 35. Bf3 Rh6 36. Ra1 Rxd5 37. Bxd5 b5 38. Bxf7 Nd3 39. Kf3 Nb4 40. Ke4 Kb6 41. e6 Nc6 42. Rd1 b4 43. Rd6 Rf6 44. Rxc6+ Kxc6 45. e7 Rxf7 46. e8=Q+ Rd7 47. Qe6+ Kc7 48. Qc4+ 1-0

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R7

Melekhina is going down to Krush.  Unbelievably to my eyes, she just gave up a rook early on, seeming to bet that she had a good attack king-side.  It didn't turn out that way, unfortunately.  For some time Krush-Melekhina was tracking Robson's game with Zhao and it was really wierd watching it online and listening to the commentary. 

Not much attention has been paid to the other games because of the interesting complication s of Krush-Melekhina and Zhao-Robson.  Last time there was commentary on Abby Marshall's game they thought she had a winning position.  Zatonskih is, also unbelievably, also seeming to be struggling against Marinello!  I don't know what the heck is happening, but I don't care.  The weather today got much better than expected, rather than worse!  I'm set up outside right now enjoying a breeze off the lake (from the northeast) rather than the forecasted furnace blast from the southwest; it's shady here and I've got the umbrella up; I'm also fully coated with super-duper strength bug spray because the mosquitoes are so bad. 

The back yard is raked in preparation either for cutting later this evening, although I may decide to watch a movie instead, or in preparation for the predicted severe storms that may blow through later this evening.  I don't know what's happening - perhaps I am morphing into a lizard woman.  The dew point is 61, which ordinarily makes me extremely uncomfortable, but I actually not only raked up the yard (albeit in 10 minute intervals with 20 minutes plus glasses of wine in between) and also pulled some more weeds (a never-ending battle) and I'm even thinking about chopping down that overgrown honeysuckle. 

Okay - I'm looking at the games now -- it's now 5:10 p.m. and Melekhina has resigned on move 34.  She played an extremely aggressive and risky game and paid the price when Krush found the best responsive moves.  I absolutely did not expect this from her, wow!  Tomorrow no rest for her, she's got another big game and she's battling for, probably, fourth place. 

Abrahamyan-Foisor is in big time trouble on move 27.  Foisor has 13 minutes left to whites's 4 minutes?  What the heck happened?  At one point it looked like Abrahamyan would wrap this game up with an overwhelming advantage.  Stay tuned.

Baginskaite-Zenyuk, B has like 4 minutes and Zenyuk has like 10 minutes - and they're on move 27.  Oy!  Black has a material advantage but I cannot tell you a thing about their relative board positions.  Suffice to say that whenever I think I understand a position, it turns out I was totally wrong, LOL!

Honestly, I do not understand why Zatonskih-Marinello is still going on - move 27?  What?  Zatonskih has 7 minutes and Marinello has 10 - this would be an incredible upset if Marinello can somehow pull out a draw - I'm not even going to mention the W word...

Rohonyan 6 minutes, Marshall 9 minutes, move 31 was just made by white.  Abby has an extra pawn.  Can she keep her end game technique together and pull off a win against the much more experienced Rohonyan?

Listening to the commentary, Finegold thinks Zatonskih's two bishops are really strong. 

Okay - I'm going to feed my chipmunks and squirrels now - will check back later on...

"First Contact" Painting Significant Find in Australia

The article's title is totally misleading since the 'painting' is not the oldest found in Australia - it dates only to the 17th century CE and the claim that it is Australia's oldest painting is therefore utterly ridiculous!  But it is important because it demonstrates that contact between Australian natives and southeast Asian fishermen and sailors most likely happened long before acceted history says it did. Actually, I do not see any reason why this contact would not have been going on from the time people from southeast Asia first navigated their way to Australia what - some 50,000 years ago - and settled there.  I mean, why not? 

Australia's oldest painting prompts history rethink
Posted Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:23am AEST

Archaeologists say a rock painting in Arnhem Land is the nation's oldest dated picture showing Aboriginal people's first contact with the outside world.

The rock painting is a picture of a sailing boat and it is located at a remote shelter in north-west Arnhem Land.

Archaeologist Paul Tacon says there are telling signs it is a depiction of a Perahu - a boat popular in Indonesia and Malaysia around the 17th century.

"One of the distinctive features is a tripod mast, another is a rectangular sail. And those are quite clear in this image," he said.

He says beeswax pellets stuck to the painting have been dated back to the 1620s, making it the oldest dated picture of early contact in Australia.

He also says there is clear evidence Macassars from Indonesia were sailing to north Australia to fish for trepang in the 1700s.

The painting is forcing archaeologists to rethink when outsiders first arrived on Australian shores.

"This find is extremely significant because it is our oldest reliably dated contact rock art image," Mr Tacon said.

"It's also important because it hints that Aboriginal people of northern Australia were interacting with peoples from South-East Asia on a more frequent basis and over a longer period of the past than what we've realised."

Archaeologists are also finding rock art showing early Indigenous contact with other cultures, including boats, knives, cups and even a monkey.

4th Century CE Well Preserved Mayan Tomb Discovered

An astonishingly well preserved tomb is discovered - hope they have armed guards and get all the goodies documents on site and out of there before the looters and robbers appear.  I don't know what they can do to keep the tomb paintings safe short of cuttimg them out and shipping them under guard to the nearest museum. 

Archaeologists Discover Mayan Royal Tomb
The tomb was found near the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz, in Guatemala
By Smaranda Biliuti, News Editor
July 17th, 2010, 07:56 GMT

A team of archaeologists from Brown University, lead by Dupee Family Professor of Social Science and professor of anthropology, Stephen Houston, found an ancient tomb of a Mayan king. The small room also contains remains of what are believed to be six children and a multitude of ceramics, carvings and textiles.
This tomb is dated between 350 and 400 AD and scientists believe that the Mayan king buried inside it might have been the founder of a dynasty. Houston's team knew that there was a small temple built in the locations of the diggings, a tribute to the sun god and figure of Mayan supremacy, still they were surprised by what they discovered.

“When we sunk a pit into the small chamber of the temple, we hit almost immediately a series of 'caches' -- blood-red bowls containing human fingers and teeth, all wrapped in some kind of organic substance that left an impression in the plaster. We then dug through layer after layer of flat stones, alternating with mud, which probably is what kept the tomb so intact and airtight,” remembers professor Houston.

On May 29, the team had the chance of seeing the Mayan treasures with their own eyes. After the final earthen layer was removed, a cavity was discovered and in the light of a bare light bulb they saw a rainbow of colors as the tomb was covered in paintings, pieces of wood, textiles and many organics Houston had never seen before. “When we opened the tomb,” he said, “I poked my head in and there was still, to my astonishment, a smell of putrification and a chill that went to my bones. The chamber had been so well sealed, for over 1600 years, that no air and little water had entered.”

The tomb was rather small, 6 feet high, 12 feet long and 4 feet wide. Even though Andrew Scherer, assistant professor of anthropology at Brown and bone analyst has not yet confirmed the findings inside the tomb, it appears to have held and adult male and six children, probably sacrificed at the man's death.

As for the man's identity, Houston says that “these items are artistic riches, extraordinarily preserved from a key time in Maya history. From the tomb's position, time, richness, and repeated constructions atop the tomb, we believe this is very likely the founder of a dynasty.” He added that a lot of work was still to be done. “Remember, we've only been out of the field for a few weeks and we're still catching our breath after a very difficult, technical excavation. Royal tombs are hugely dense with information and require years of study to understand. No other deposits come close,” he added.

The news of the discovery was made public two days ago (on Thursday) at a press conference in Guatemala City.

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Round 7

Hola darlings!

Huffing and puffing, I got the front lawn cut last night.  It was hot, but it was breezy too, and afterwards I was invited to join my neighbors to the north for a glass of wine out on the patio - they didn't care that I was all sweaty and funky, LOL!  They both work hard in their yard too, they know how it is.  It actually was quite lovely out last night while the breeze was still blowing, but once the sun sinks below the western horizon all goes still and I find I still need the central air conditioning on in order to get a good night's sleep.  While the air outside has been cooling off into the mid-60's at night, it does not manage to find it's way into open windows.

I was out by 8 a.m. this morning while it was still shady out front to get the trimming done.  It took about 30 minutes and I still managed to work up a bad sweat, whew!  In this weather one bathes a lot :)  The dew point is high today and will get even nastier tomorrow, but there still is a breeze so if one is just resting and not actually moving about, it is rather pleasant.  I plan on sitting out for a couple of hours in the shade after I finish this blog and catch up on a bit of reading.  I was chopping about out back earlier (removing various volunteer plants, trees, wild grape vines and thistles) while the sun was still out front; later it swings around to the south and drenches the yard in hot yellow beams except for half the deck, where I will be firmly ensconced underneath the umbrella. After about 2:30 p.m. the sun goes behind my nice tall Chinese Elms and the yard is shady and a good 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the ambient air temperature in the sun.  It stays that way all afternoon and most of the early evening.  I will cut the back grass later this evening if we don't get drenched first with one or more of the forecast thunderstorms.  I've got some cut piles of stuff to clean up.

But, you didn't tune in to read about my gardening exploits, you want to know what the heck is going on with the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship, and I'm here to tell you! 

Who's playing who?

1 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 5.0 2403 WGM Sabina Foisor 2.5 2356

2 IM Anna Zatonskih 5.5 2518 WIM Beatriz Marinello 1.5 2206
3 WGM Katerina Rohonyan 2.5 2322 WFM Abby Marshall 0.5 2211
4 WGM Camilla Baginskaite 2.0 2387 WIM Iryna Zenyuk 2.0 2286
5 IM Irina Krush 5.0 2521 WIM Alisa Melekhina 3.5 2323

I have my predictions up for R7 at Chess Femme News.  I also published the R6 games in PGN.  Click on the link at the bottom of the page for either Round 6 or Round 7 to get the updated stuff.  If you want to know my off the wall predictions, you must visit Chess Femme News today, I won't be publishing them here.  I will publish the results of my prognostications, whatever they may be, later on this evening at Chess Femme News.

I'll be watching the games beginning at 2:00 p.m. at uschesschamps live coverage and listening to the commentary by GM Ben Fengold and WGM Jen Shahade.  As this is a Saturday and therefore a mandatory nap day, I will probably zonk about somewhere around 2:00 p.m. until about 5:00 p.m. and wake up loaded with insect bites if I don't manage to make it to my recliner before ZZZZ land hits, and will probably have missed some herstorical chess games.  Sigh.  Such is my life.  Ah - time for a glass of wine and some lunch!

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's an Eye Goddess Symbol or a Goddess Spiral

Come on, dudes, it's as plain as the nose on your faces.  This is either a Bronze Age eye-goddess symbol or a Neolithic Goddess spiral pattern (similar to New Grange).

Cambridgeshire Quarry throws up 4,500-year-old find
July 16, 2010
( -- A remarkable piece of Neolithic rock art, unlike anything previously found in Eastern England, has been unearthed in the Cambridgeshire village of Over (photo).

The hand-sized artefact, which could date back to 2,500 BC, was found by a participant in a geological weekend course which was being run by the University of Cambridge's Institute for Continuing Education.

It consists of a hand-sized slab of weathered sandstone with two pairs of concentric circles etched into the surface - a motif which, according to archaeologists, is typical of "Grooved Ware" art from the later Neolithic era.

While examples of similar Grooved Ware art have been discovered at sites elsewhere in the UK, this is the first time that any such find has been encountered in Eastern England, which may provide more information about the connections of the communities who inhabited the area 4,500 years ago.

The motives of whoever created the design are unclear. Researchers say that it could represent the ornamental efforts of a Prehistoric Picasso, but may just as easily have been an aimless inscription.

"It really is a fantastic find; certainly we have had nothing like it from any of our sites before," Dr. Chris Evans, Director of the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, which operates out of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, said.

"In fact, it's unique in Eastern England, with the nearest comparable example being the similar scratch patterns on a sandstone plaque from a Grooved Ware site in Leicestershire. Otherwise you would have to look to Wessex or Northern Britain and the much more formal Megalithic Art of the period."

"The big question in the case of the Over stone is whether we should actually be calling it meaningful art, or if it amounted to no more than Neolithic doodling. Either way it's a great find."

The stone will make its first public appearance since the discovery was made this Saturday (July 17th), when it will go on display at Over Village Carnival.

It was found by Susie Sinclair, who was taking part in the weekend course led by Dr Peter Sheldon (from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The Open University) at Hanson Aggregates' Needingworth Quarry. The quarry lies north and west of Over alongside the River Great Ouse.

The Cambridge Archaeological Unit has been excavating sites within the quarry for 15 years, partly in an effort to better understand the shape and nature of the landscape in prehistoric times. The remains of several settlement clusters from the late Neolithic period have already been found.

The Over stone, however, was hidden in the quarry's spoil, one of the heaps of waste geological materials discarded by quarry workers. Researchers believe it had been deposited within one of the river's ancient palaeochannels crossing the area and that, with the existing information they have about the geographical layout of the region, the point where it was found can be reconstructed with relative ease.

The area around Over and the River Great Ouse would have looked dramatically different 4,500 years ago. Huge, "S" shaped bends from the river originally meandered across the fens and efforts to tame them only really began in earnest in the late medieval period.

According to the latest research, at the time the Over stone was being carved, the countryside would have been dominated by the snaking course of the river, its tributary channels and flooding. This would essentially have broken the area up into a delta-like landscape of small islands, channels and marshlands.

News Coverage on the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

We know that the USWCC and US Junior are being covered by many chess blogs and websites devoted exclusively to chess news.  However, there is usually not much coverage in the more "mainstream" media of chess events - not even national championships!  I'll leave it to others to debate why it is that in the United States, the most important chess events in the country don't merit much regular news coverage, either in special interest or under sports.  But - there has been some coverage:

KDLT TV coverage of WGM Camilla Baginskaite, who now resides in South Dakota:
Sioux Falls Woman Will Compete in Chess Tournament: The Morning Show

by Danielle Dupuy, Reporter
July 08, 2010

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat , an article by Gentry Trotter:
GLOBE TROTTER: Future kings and queens of chess
By Gentry Trotter
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Mr. Trotter seemed to be somewhat bedazzled by the beauty of some of the chess femmes:)  As well he should be!  I think all of the players in the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship are lovely, each in their own way.  Some are downright gorgeous in the manner that turns men's heads.   This photo is from Mr. Trotter's article - Irina Krush is missing. 

Chess tournaments to be held in St. Louis
Associated Press - July 8, 2010 4:54 PM ET

ST. LOUIS (AP) - More high-profile chess play is getting under way in St. Louis.

After recently hosting the U.S. Chess Championship, St. Louis will be the site of the U.S. Women's Championship and U.S. Junior Closed Championship, starting Friday with opening ceremonies. Play will start Saturday and continue through July 20, with more than $75,300 in prize money available.

From The Los Angeles Chronicle:
Stage set for epic showdown at U.S. Women's Championhsip

July 12, 2010
By Mike Wilmering and Katie Baldetti

Very happy to see that Dylan Loeb McClain has written nearly daily articles about the 2010 USWCC and the 2010 US Closed Junior's Championshp at the New York Times Chess Blog.  Here are the most current articles:
July 16, 2010, 12:38 am

Zatonskih Holds Lead for Women’s Title; Two Are Tied for Junior Crown

July 15, 2010, 12:05 am

Zhao and Zatonskih Lead Championships

July 14, 2010, 9:00 am

Another Busy Day at the U.S. Championships

July 12, 2010, 11:27 pm

Fast Pace Continues at Two U.S. Championships

The Fighting Chess Award at the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

If you read here or if you've been following the live commentary of the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championshp provided by GM Ben Finegold and two-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion (2002, 2004) Jen Shahade, you've seen and/or heard that for the 2010 USWCC Goddesschess teamed up with 9 Queens, an organization whose work we greatly admire, to sponsor a $1,000 Fighting Chess Award.  The tradition of the Fighting Chess Award continues.

The seeds of the Fighting Chess Award began in 2007, when Goddesschess sponsored a $300 Brilliancy Prize at the 2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship.  That prize was won by Elizabeth Vicary for her game against Camilla Baginskaite.

In 2008 Goddesschess increased the amount of the prize and changed its focus from a brilliancy prize to the Fighting Chess Award, in honor of the fighting chess played by the Polgar sisters, iconic female chessplayers.  GM Susan Polgar graciously agreed to select the winner of the prize, which went to Tatev Abrahamyan for her score of 6 wins and 3 losses - no draws.

The winner of the 2009 Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award was again selected by GM Susan Polgar and was awarded to Anna Zatonskih, who not only won the Women's title, she did so in brilliant fashion, scoring an incredible 8.5/9.

Who will win the Fighting Chess Award in 2010? 

The women started off the 2010 championship they same way the concluded the 2009 event, with ALL DECISIVE games until Krush and Zatonskih, the two leaders in this year's championship, drew their game in Round 3. 

It seems the consensus among tghe players themselves that in order to win the title this year, 7.5/9 will be necessary.  Going into Round 7 tomorrow, three players are positioned to make a run: Anna Zatonskih, 5.5; Irina Krush, 5.0; and Tatev Abrahamyan, 5.0.  Barring a collapse, one or more of these players could reach 7.5/9, necessitating a play-off.  The next closest player in score, Alisa Melekhina, is at 3.5 and if she should win out, she would finish with an incredible score of 6.5/9, probably not enough to take the title.  Of course, anything can happen and sometimes does!

Please keep in mind that the winner of the title does not automatically win the Fighting Chess Award, the 2010 winner of which will be selected by currently reigning Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk.  Fighting spirit must be evidenced by the winner throughout the championship; poise and grace under pressure are important; the overall quality of the games as well as the play under time pressure and the relative level of experience of the players - all thse things and more are examined and taken into account. 

This year, our Judge has heavy duty!  I have seen the overall level of play and intensity among the players increase in the USWCC every year since I've been regularly following them (2007), and this year tops last year, which hardly seems possible but I tell you, it's true. 

So, please tune into to follow the action this weekend. 

Now I have to get out there and cut the grass - its still 90 degrees F but the dew point is relatively low so I probably will not collapse from heat prostration, which may very well happen tomorrow when the dew point is scheduled to climb back into the tropical zone (70 and above).  Oy!

"Kidnapped" Iranian Defector Gets "Disappeared" by Iranian Regime

I feel sorry for his family.  I hope he got a chance to say goodbye to his little boy and his wife.  A man so stupid to think he'd be able to go back to Iran and the government wouldn't retaliate for his obvious defection - because of course they KNOW he defected.  What a stupid, stupid man; pretty soon most likely a dead man.
Here's the story excerpted from The Wall Street Journal, which I read this morning:

JULY 15, 2010 In Iran, a Defector Disappears Again

Tehran Presents Researcher as Hero, Then Takes Him for Questioning; a U.S. Reward Is Left Behind

Iranian nuclear researcher Shahram Amiri arrived home Thursday, despite efforts by the Central Intelligence Agency to convince him to stay in the U.S., beginning another stage in a saga in which both countries suggest they came out on top.

U.S. officials say Mr. Amiri defected to the U.S. about a year ago and provided valuable information on the country's nuclear program. In return, he was offered the opportunity to resettle and given a $5 million resettlement package to establish his new life in the United States, officials say. CIA officials warned Mr. Amiri that he could face execution if he returned to Iran.

After his arrival Thursday, images of a smiling Mr. Amiri at the Tehran's Imam Khomeini Airport holding his son in his arms were broadcast repeatedly through the day on state television channels.

"I was under the harshest mental and physical torture," Mr. Amiri said, according to the Associated Press. He said he was offered $50 million and the opportunity to resettle in the West if he remained outside Iran. A U.S. official called the statement "ludicrous."

An Iranian official said the broadcasts were part of an effort by Iran's government to portray Mr. Amiri as a free man and give credibility to his claim that he was abducted by the CIA.

The official said Mr. Amiri was allowed to spend time with his wife and child at home under supervision. On Thursday afternoon, intelligence agents of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps took him away for debriefing for an undetermined amount of time, to answer questions about his contacts with the U.S. government and CIA, the official said.

U.S. officials said Mr. Amiri gave the Americans worthwhile intelligence. "This guy's given significant, original information that's checked out," an official said.

The $5 million payment was put into U.S. bank accounts that Mr. Amiri won't be able to access from Iran, officials said. The payment was earlier reported Wednesday by the Washington Post.

U.S. officials said Mr. Amiri was offered the opportunity to bring his family to the U.S., but they didn't want to come. It isn't clear whether they could have made it: The Iranian government generally blocks such attempts to leave the country.

After arriving in the U.S., Mr. Amiri began pursuing studies at a university in Tucson, Ariz. It is common for defectors who are resettled in the U.S. to set up a low-profile life in the U.S.

He had second thoughts in what seemed to be a combination of homesickness and fear for the safety of his family, who had received threats to pressure him to return, officials said.

"This guy went off the rails," said an official familiar with the matter, adding that "a tumultuous back and forth" ensued in which CIA officials attempted to persuade him to stay in the U.S.

Officials say that under pressure from the Iranian government, he recorded an amateurish video in April that was broadcast on Iranian television in early June, saying he was in Tucson and he had been abducted in 2009 in a "joint operation by terror and kidnap teams."

He regularly did Google searches on his name and began to worry about his reputation, so he asked the CIA to help produce a new video "to clear his name," as an official put it.

So, shortly after the first video aired, another video emerged on YouTube, where he wore a sports jacket and declared "I am free here and I assure everyone that I am safe." That video was more professionally produced.

But Mr. Amiri's concerns for his family mounted, officials said, and later that month, Iranian television broadcast a third video message in which he said he had escaped security agents in Virginia.

U.S. officials say the videos weren't credible. "Amiri wanted to see his family again and—sadly—he chose a stupid way to do it, lying about what happened to him here to try to build up his credibility back home. That's apparently the only avenue he saw to make it happen."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where Women Put on Fat Affects Cognitive Abilities Later in Life

The deck is really stacked against women, you know?  First of all, we go through menopause - men have NO IDEA what that is like, except for the occasional male who is killed by a female in the midst of an hormonal induced rage, or really really bad hot flash.  Then, our body starts piling on fat, even though we haven't changed our eating habits or our physical activities.  Once menopause hits, fat comes on, unless one goes on a starvation diet.  No meat.  No alcohol of any kind.  No fat.  No dairy.  No carbs.  You can eat green stuff like seaweed and all the fish you want contaminated with PCBs.  You can work out 35 hours a week with a professional trainer.  Then, and only then, may you maintain the same profile you had body-wise before menopause struck.

The fat starts to pile on to a woman's body naturally because fat produces certain chemicals that leach into our systems that imitate the effects of the missing estrogen in our bodies.  It happens automatically, and we have few to no defenses against the effects! 

Every attempt by scientists to produce a substitute for the missing estrogen in post-menopausal women has led to disaster:  women with greatly increased risk of heart attacks and/or breast cancer and/or (I think) cervical cancer.  So - we can risk dying from cancer caused by the pills we take to try and counter the effects of menopause, we can get fat naturally as our DNA has programmed and die from complications of obesity, or we can starve ourselves together on "food" I wouldn't used ground up as fertilizer and die from starvation or PCB poisoning.  Oh - I forgot option Number Four: take one of the current "weight reducing" prescription meds on the market and die from the effects of that medication.  Big pharma knows we have short memories.  Does anyone remember how many thousands of women died and/or sustained permanent heart damage (and went on to premature deaths, or may have been as good as dead) when they took the popular weight loss pill (FDA approved, no less) known as "phen/fen?"  Nice.  Where's my gun?  Oh, I forgot - I don't own one.  Guess I can't shoot myself and put myself out of my misery after all.  See - ALZHEIMERS!  I forgot I didn't own a gun!

Now, it seems, research says that fat deposited on certain areas of a post-menopausal woman's body can also lead to cognitive impairment - what they used to call senility in the not so very old days and today diagnose as dementia and Alzheimer's disease. 

Isis also sent me this article from her Ipod or Zingy Thingy or whatever the heck it's called.  It seems there is no good news left in the world when it comes to being a female:

Study: Body shape affects memory in older women

A woman's body shape may play a role in how good her memory is, according to a new study.

The more an older woman weighs, the worse her memory, according to research released this week from Northwestern Medicine at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
So, I'm supposed to be happy that I've been non-stop battling fat around my waist since my 48th birthday because that means I may have a chance to NOT become demented in my later years? Gee.

Medicis Not Guilty of Murder - in These Two Instances...

From Isis:

Medici Family Cold Case Finally Solved
Malaria, not murder, was responsible for the deaths of two members of the clan that dominated the Florentine Renaissance.
By Rossella Lorenzi
Wed Jul 14, 2010 12:35 PM ET

Scientists who exhumed the remains of several members of the Medicis, the clan that dominated the Florentine Renaissance, have conclusively dismissed the theory of family murders, solving a more than 400-year-old cold case.

Malaria, not poison as long rumored, killed Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his second wife, Bianca Cappello, according to research to be published in Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The couple died a few hours apart in October 1587 after 11 days of agony. Their almost simultaneous deaths led to speculation that they had been murdered.

Rest of article.

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Chamionship - R6

Wow - Abby Marshall and Anna Zatonskih are still battling.  It is Zatonskih's move, 62; she had about 1:20 on her clock; Marshall has 2:39.  I can't say who has an edge here.  I'm amazed at the number of pieces still on the board!

All of the other games were decisive:

Zenyuk - Rohonyan:  0 - 1
Foisor - Krush:  0 - 1
Marinello - Abrahamyan:  0 - 1
Melekhina - Baginskaite:  1 - 0

Tomorrow is a rest day, thank Goddess!  I sure need one, it's been exhausting watching this championship. What must it feel like actually playing in it? 

Just took another look - Abby resigned after move 68.  Here are the unofficial standings:

Zatonskih 5.5
Krush 5.0
Abrahamyan 5.0
Melekhina 3.5
Foisor 2.5
Rohanyan 2.5
Baginskaite 2.0
Zenyuk 2.0
Marinello 1.5
Marshall 0.5

How did I fare with my prognostications?  Here is what I said last night:

Foisor/Krush: 0 - 1. I'll take a POINT on that, thank you very much. A 35 move game.

Melekhina/Baginskaite: 1/2 - 1/2. Outside chance for Melekhina to score a full point, but she's tired and it's showing. If it gets down to a game past time control, I'm saying draw, as neither player is in the mood for a 60 to 80 move battle that may end in a draw anyway. Melekhina will come out with some long drawn-out variations to try and wear Baginskaite down and attempt to force her into a mistake through sheer exhaustion. Yeah - doesn't make much sense, does it? LOL! The game was 34 moves and Baginskaite resigned - they didn't reach time control. There was some sharp play on both sides. I thought draw but gave Melekhina an outside chance at the full point if the game was short. The game was short and Melekhina won it. I'll take the POINT.

Zenyuk/Rohonyan: 1/2 - 1/2. Seasoned warriors that they are, they may well reach a dead-drawn game early on. Dead wrong! The players made time control and the game ended on move 49. Knowing the previous problems she's had with time in this event, I figure Zenyuk must have run into time troubles again and made some inaccurate moves that Rohonyan was able to capitalize on. Zero points.

Marshall/Zatonskih: realistically, Zatonskih should take the full point; but for some reason that makes no sense my intuition is telling me that this could well end in a draw - and a short one at that. Zatonskih may want to start her day off early. Zatonskih has not lost a game this Championship; she can spare a draw as long as she scores 2.5 more points in her final 3 games... Dead wrong. Marshall was clearly gunning for a win from the start but once again Zatonskih's greater experience saved her. The game wasn't short either. Zero points.

Marinello/Abrahamyan: 0 -1. Tatev is in no mood to compromise with anyone, not even for an extra half-day off time. I don't expect a slow, grinding down game no matter what Marinello attempts. POINT to Jan. (Photo of Abrahamyan from R5, against Abby Marshall, from Chessbase report).

My score:  3.0/5.

I am very impressed with Abrahamyan's record of a win, a loss and then 4 straight wins!  Her play has been impressive to me too.  I am very impressed with Melekhina's and Marshall's ability to come back after devastating losses of some very close games.  Both chess femmes have maintained their fighting spirit.  Indeed, no one is coasting to the finish in this Championship.  I wish we could give Fighting Chess Awards to all of them!

Okay, time to wrap this up, it's been an hour at least I've been working on this - time to get a move on with other things!

Does Anna Zatonskih have more lives than a cat?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - Round 5

Whew!  When I left the office shortly after 5 p.m. none of the other games had been decided, but it looked as if some of them might be shortly so.  I've been busy with other things since I got home and now, this is the first peek I'm having at the results from Round 5 other than what I already knew happened - the 12 move draw by Baginskaite and Krush.  Ordinarily I would not applaud such an action, but as a protest against having to play six such intense games in a row WITHOUT A BREAK -- yes, they STILL have to play another game tomorrow before their off day -- I will state again is really ridiculous planning, these chess femmes are my heroines!  I hope they greatly enjoyed their afternoon and early evening off the clock!  It's about 8:45 p.m. local time.


Marinello - Foisor:  0 -1
Zatonskih - Zenyuk: 1 - 0 (Zenyuk made a blunder, or caved in to time trouble, or both; when I left the office, she had a better position overall than Zatonskih.  Zenyuk resigned on move 41, after making time control.)
Abrahamyan - Marshall: 1 - 0 (Marshall came out swinging and as far as I know, did not relent during the entire game.  A true example of fighting spirit.  If I have any energy left before it's bed time, I'll listen to the final commentaries on this game to see if I can glean what happened.  Marshall resigned on move 41, just after time control, so she may have made some inaccurate moves during a time scramble.)
Rohonyan - Melekhina: 1/2 - 1/2
Baginskaite - Krush: 1/2 - 1/2

ROUND 5 STANDINGS - rather interesting:

Rank Name Score M/F Rating TPR W-We 1 2 3 4 5

1 IM Anna Zatonskih 4.5 F 2518 2734 +1.03 1 1 ½ 1 1
2 IM Irina Krush 4.0 F 2521 2607 +0.54 1 1 ½ 1 ½
3 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 4.0 F 2403 2586 +1.12 1 0 1 1 1
4 WGM Sabina Foisor 2.5 F 2356 2282 -0.50 0 0 1 ½ 1
5 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2.5 F 2323 2332 +0.05 1 1 0 0 ½
6 WGM Camilla Baginskaite 2.0 F 2387 2352 -0.25 0 0 1 ½ ½
7 WIM Iryna Zenyuk 2.0 F 2286 2267 -0.16 1 1 0 0 0
8 WGM Katerina Rohonyan 1.5 F 2322 2272 -0.35 0 1 0 0 ½
9 WIM Beatriz Marinello 1.5 F 2206 2190 -0.16 0 0 1 ½ 0
10 WFM Abby Marshall 0.5 F 2211 1949 -1.32 0 0 0 ½ 0

How'd I do predictions wise?  This is what I wrote at Chess Femme News last night:

Relatively speaking, I expect Abrahamyan to win against Marshall. She'll want to keep pace with the leaders, who will each be gunning for wins. Call me crazy, but I think Baginskaite will give Krush a hard time tomorrow - don't know about that one. Zatonskih should come out on top over Zenyuk - which means Krush will be pushing for a win to keep pace. If Krush draws, Zatonskih wins and Abrahamyan wins, suddenly Krush is in third pace. Hmmm....

Rohonyan and Melekhina - odds favor a draw but neither lady has been inclined toward drawish games! I can't say about Rohonyan but I'm fairly sure Melekhina does not want to settle for "middle of the pack" this Championship! Don't have a clue what may happen in that one. Marinello-Foisor, I think Foisor may pull out a win.

1.  Expect Abrahamyan to win against Marshall - POINT.
2.  Baginskaite will give Krush a hard time tomorrow - don't know about that one.  I'm awarding myself a full point, as the game ended in a draw after 12 moves, the position being dead even and likely to end in a draw (according to what I remember GM Finegold saying) even if it had been played out.
3.  Zatonskih should come out on top over Zenyuk - POINT.
4.  Rohonyan and Melekhina - odds favor a draw...don't have a clue what may happen in that one.  I'm awarding myself a full point on this one.
5.  Marinello-Foisor, I think Foisor may pull out a win.  POINT.

Hey, I'm getting pretty good at this prognostication stuff - five for five - LOL!  I was, however, wrong in predicting that Krush would end up in third place if she drew with Baginskaite and both Zatonskih and Abrahamyan won their games (which is actually what happened - wooo wooo!)  She is currently in second place, tied with Abrahamyan score-wise with 4.0/5.  Zatonskih leads with 4.5/5.

Foisor and Melekhina are even (at 50% - 2.5/5). 

If it is true that a clear winner will need 7.5/9 to take the title without an Armageddon play-off (I sure as hell hope that doesn't happen - what an awful way to decide a title), the top three women have their work cut out for them, that's for sure!  Zatonskih would need to score three more points in four games -- she could do it with two wins and two draws, or three wins and a loss; Krush would need to score three and a half points in four games - wow; so would Abrahamyan.  Not a smidgeon's worth of room for error for either the second or third place chess femme at this point, not unless Zatonskih falters.

Which at this point, realistically leaves Foisor, Melekhina, Baginskaite and Zenyuk battling it out for 4th place.  But hey, anything can - and seems to happen - in this Championship!

Exhaustion is taking it's toll.  None of the chess femmes had a very long game today - Marinello/Foisor was the longest at 48 moves each.  Two games didn't reach time control!  The other two finished on move 41, just after time control.  How about this for a plan - next year, schedule two off days, one after R3 and one after R6.  Or, if you really only want to schedule only one off day, do it after R5, NOT after R6.  I don't give an ultimate poop about watching chess over the weekend if the players are half-dead while they're doing it!Anyway, I work on Friday so if the ladies play on Friday I can't watch anyway! 

So, what's up for R6 tomorrow?  Here are the pairings:

1 WGM Sabina Foisor 2.5 2356 IM Irina Krush 4.0 2521
2 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2.5 2323 WGM Camilla Baginskaite 2.0 2387
3 WIM Iryna Zenyuk 2.0 2286 WGM Katerina Rohonyan 1.5 2322
4 WFM Abby Marshall 0.5 2211 IM Anna Zatonskih 4.5 2518
5 WIM Beatriz Marinello 1.5 2206 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 4.0 2403

My predictions:
Foisor/Krush: 0 - 1

Melekhina/Baginskaite: 1/2 - 1/2.  Outside chance for Melekhina to score a full point, but she's tired and it's showing.  If it gets down to a game past time control, I'm saying draw, as neither player is in the mood for a 60 to 80 move battle that may end in a draw anyway.  Melekhina will come out with some long drawn-out variations to try and wear Baginskaite down and attempt to force her into a mistake through sheer exhaustion.

Zenyuk/Rohonyan:  1/2 - 1/2.  Seasoned warriors that they are, they may well reach a dead-drawn game early on.

Marshall/Zatonskih: realistically, Zatonskih should take the full point; but for some reason that makes no sense my intuition is telling me that this could well end in a draw - and a short one at that.  Zatonskih may want to start her day off early.  Zatonskih has not lost a game this Championship; she can spare a draw as long as she scores 2.5 more points in her final 3 games...

Marinello/Abrahamyan: 0 -1.  Tatev is in no mood to compromise with anyone, not even for an extra half-day off time.  I don't expect a slow, grinding down game no matter what Marinello attempts.

So - we'll see whether should I contemplate relocating to Vegas and changing my profession to booky...  Yeah. right.

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R5 Action

Surprise!  Baginskaite and Krush agreed to a draw evidently by three-peat repetition and she and Krush are finished with their game after move 12.  Krush is analyzing right now.  She said she's tired after having had tough games 2 through 4, and is glad to have a day off, and will probably go to the pool.  Good for her!

Excavations to Start on Mound Under Pillar of Eliseg

From BBC News
July 2, 2010
Archaeologists are to start excavations on a suspected ancient burial site to try to understand the significance of a Llangollen landmark.

But the team will have to work carefully because the 9th Century Pillar of Eliseg, a CADW-protected ancient monument, stands directly on top of the barrow - burial mound - and the archaeologists can't disturb it. (Photo by David Crane; caption: The Pillar of Eliseg was moved to the site of a burial mound in the 18th Century).

Medieval archaeology Professor, Nancy Edwards, from Bangor University says it is the first time the site has been dug since 1773 when, it is believed, a skeleton was unearthed.

"We are trying to date the barrow in its broader archaeological context," she said, as the site could date back to the Bronze Age.

The history behind the monument and why it was erected on the mound in the late 1700s by Trevor Lloyd of Trevor Hall, who then owned the land, is not yet understood.

However, separate work has been carried out to try to decipher original and additional faded inscriptions by experts from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW).

Originally a cross, it was first erected at nearby Valle Crucis Abbey to commemorate an early medieval leader, Eliseg (or Elisedd).

Today, only the shaft of the cross remains and its inscription, which was already almost illegible when the antiquary Edward Lhuyd tried to transcribe it in 1696, has disappeared.

Some of the 18th Century inscription describing the re-erection of the cross on the barrow has since been discerned by the experts, but nothing that reveals why it was relocated.

Joining Prof Edwards on-site for the dig will be colleagues from the University of Chester and with help from Llangollen Museum.

The plan is to open one small trench within the barrow and three others in close proximity within the field which is owned by a private landowner.

Dai Morgan Evans, visiting professor in archaeology at Chester University, has his own ideas as to why the monument was relocated to the mound.

He told the Leader newspaper that Trevor Lloyd could have been implying he was related to the Welsh king named on the inscription and those in the burial below.

During the dig, David Crane from Llangollen Museum plans to blog regularly via the museum website to give people updates.

Carbon 14 Dating in the News

Thus sayeth Zahi Hawass:  "...carbon dating is useless. This science will never develop. In archeology, we consider carbon dating results imaginary." 

Thu, 08/07/2010 - 15:56
Egyptian archeologists comment on carbon dating
Valentina Cattane

a recent study published in Science Magazine on 18 June 2010, an international team of nine research professors (French, Austrian and Israeli) led by Bronk Ramsey, director of Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the Oxford University, have apparently determined more accurate dates for the ruling dynasties of Ancient Egypt by analyzing 211 samples.

The researchers tested seeds, baskets, and textiles, collected from tombs belonging to various museum collections across Europe and America, that had been previously dated.

The three-year study produced interesting results, some of which support the conclusions reached by conventional dating methods, while others don’t.

The dates of the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdoms roughly correspond to the conventional historical chronology, with minor differences.

However, the results obtained by Ramsey’s team suggested a different chronology for the New Kingdom. With an average calendrical precision of 24 years, the new carbon dating results indicate the kingdom came into existence a decade before the convetional date of 1550 BCE.

The new evidence also suggests the Minoan Santorin eruption, which is a crucial stratigraphic time marker in the eastern Mediterranean region during the second millennium BCE, happened between 1626-600 BCE, and not around 1500 BCE as it is widely thought. This is considered crucial by researchers to better understand relations between Egypt and the other Mediterranean societies.

“For the first time, radiocarbon dating has become precise enough to constrain the history of ancient Egypt to very specific dates,” said Ramsey in AFP report.

However, Zahi Hawass, Egyptian archeologist and secretary-general of the Egyptian Supreme Council for Antiquities, strongly disagrees with the use of carbon dating in archeology.

“Carbon-14 dating has a margin of error of 100 years. In order to date Egyptian dynasties, we need to have specific dates; you cannot use carbon dating," Hawass explained to Al-Masry Al-Youm. "This technique shouldn’t be used at all in making changes to the chronology of the ancient Egypt, not even as a helpful addition.”

Taliban Terrorize and Murder Women with Impunity

From The Wall Street Journal
July 14, 2010
The Taliban War on Women Continues
When 22-year-old Hossai was told to quit her job by the Taliban, she refused to be bullied. She was shot and killed.

Beware Taliban revisionism. You're going to hear much more of it in the coming months as policy makers from Kabul to Washington seeking to reintegrate Taliban fighters try to explain why the enemy isn't so bad after all. Bombs that slaughter civilians, acid attacks that disfigure school girls, assassinations of women in public life—all of this will be swept under the carpet.

In its place, a new narrative will be trotted out, one in which most of the fighters are "ten-dollar Talibs"—just in it for the money—or modern-day Robin Hoods fighting the injustices of their local government. While money or politics may indeed be the motivation for many low-level fighters, that doesn't change the fact that too many Afghan women are experiencing the same kind of oppression today they faced under Taliban rule.

"We as Taliban warn you to stop working . . . otherwise we will take your life away. We will kill you in such a harsh way that no woman has so far been killed in that manner. This would become a good lesson for women like you who are working." When Fatima K. received this letter she was terrified and left her job. Such messages—called night letters, since they are delivered after dark—are a common means of intimidation used by the Taliban.

When 22-year-old Hossai received similar threats by phone from a man saying he was with the Taliban in Kandahar, she refused to be bullied. She loved her job at the American development company DAI, and her salary supported her family. But one day in April Hossai was shot by an unknown gunman as she left her office. She died from her wounds.

A few days later another woman in Kandahar received a night letter. It demanded that she give up her job, or else she "will be considered an enemy of Islam and will be killed. In the same way that yesterday we have killed Hossai, whose name was on our list." This woman has since stayed home.

These stories are seldom heard, but it's not because they are rare. The victims are often too terrified to report such attacks to the authorities, or have little hope that anything will be done if they do. They can expect little or no protection from their government, which seems more willing to provide patronage to senior insurgents who switch sides than assist women at grave risk. When high-profile women are assassinated, their cases are not given the priority they deserve and their killers are rarely brought to justice. While men who run afoul of the Taliban are also attacked—particularly in Kandahar, where the murder rate in recent months has reached unprecedented heights—the situation for women is worse.

The reassurance offered by the Afghan and U.S. governments is that those Taliban who lay down arms through reintegration or reconciliation programs must accept the constitution, which enshrines equal rights for men and women. But given how often President Hamid Karzai has himself ignored the constitutional protections afforded to Afghan women—as when he approved the highly restrictive Shia family law in 2009—it is not clear why Taliban who return to the political mainstream would have any motivation to respect the rights of women.

Many women activists would prefer to see explicit guarantees put at the heart of negotiations with the Taliban. There are some rights that should be nonnegotiable: the right to work, to participate in political life, and to send their daughters to school. But when I spoke to Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, a founding member of the Taliban and its former ambassador to Pakistan, he did not inspire confidence that this would be possible.

Zaeef, who now resides in Kabul after a stint in Guantanamo, explained in our May meeting why he believes the freedoms won by Afghan women in recent years are "corrupting" them. "If you put a young adult man and woman in one room for some time, of course there will be some interactions, which is against Islam. This is like a virus here and it will spread," he said to me.

I emerged from my conversation with Zaeef uncorrupted. As for my questions about what gender segregation might mean for mixed work environments, like the Afghan parliament where women make up 25% of the members, I got no straight answer.

The Afghan government should have women's rights at the center of the reintegration programs. But the experience of the past nine years has been one of hasty deals and impunity for serious crimes. And with the need for an exit strategy weighing heavily on the minds of U.S. policy makers, there's a strong chance that justice and principle will once again be sacrificed.

American officials are often tempted to deny their own influence by claiming that this will be an Afghan process. But since the U.S. will pay for most of it, this is not a credible position. Worse still, it flies in the face of repeated U.S. commitments to help protect and promote the rights of Afghan women. The U.S. should make clear that if reintegration and reconciliation results in less freedom for Afghan women and girls, American taxpayers will not foot the bill.

Ms. Reid is the Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What is Turning These Artifacts Blue?

Published online 12 July 2010 | Nature | doi:10.1038/466306a
Ancient Italian artefacts get the blues
Scientists accuse officials of neglect as chemicals discolour stored relics.
Alison Abbott

A mysterious blue sheen that is creeping over precious archaeological artefacts has sparked a political firestorm in Italy. Scientists are battling local authorities to save the damaged collection — and determine who is to blame.

The prehistoric treasures — including human bones and stone tools — come from sites near Verona, which were inhabited by some of Europe's last known Neanderthals when anatomically modern humans were beginning to dominate the region. Scientists say that comparing DNA from the remains with DNA from Neanderthal bones found elsewhere may show how the last Neanderthals moved across the continent seeking refuge, for example.

But now some of the remains face irreparable damage, as they lie deteriorating in a former military armoury in northern Italy. The artefacts were moved there in 2007 and 2008 after Verona's town council sold their original home — an eighteenth-century castle that provided overflow storage for Verona's Natural History Museum. The money from the sale was intended to refurbish the arsenal to provide a new home for all of the museum's collections, but the funds were subsequently reallocated.

Concerned scientists are about to send a petition to Sandro Bondi, Italy's minister of culture, demanding that the artefacts be immediately transferred to safe premises. They are also calling for an expert committee to assess the damage, and for an investigation to identify who is responsible for endangering the collection — potentially a crime under Italy's strict laws on cultural heritage.

Reid Ferring, a geologist and archaeologist at the University of North Texas in Denton, says he signed the petition because he finds it "devastating that the collection with such a high scientific value has been damaged". He points out that Verona is a World Heritage Site. "You would think they would have paid better attention to their historic collections."

The collection's curator, Laura Longo — who declined to comment to Nature because she has been asked by the museum not to speak to the press — first became concerned when she gained brief access to the relocated artefacts in February, and found that some of the flint tools were turning bright blue. She then provided four samples of the discoloured flint to Gilberto Artioli, a geo-archaeologist at the University of Padua, for chemical analysis.

Over the next three months, she reported the problem to the museum's director and also to Vincenzo Tine, the regional representative of the ministry of culture in Venice. Last month she sent a formal report to Stefano de Caro, the ministry's general director for archaeology in Rome, and to the department of military police concerned with crimes against cultural heritage. That department has already referred the case to Verona's public prosecutors.

Meanwhile, Artioli's first analyses quickly showed that the samples — and also the cardboard they were delivered in — were impregnated with hydrocarbons, which he says may come from petrol, or from lubricants once stored at the arsenal and used to keep the weapons there in working order. "But this did not explain the blue colour," he says. He suspects that hydrocarbon vapours carried a pollutant onto the flints, where it reacted to form a "very stable and durable" blue pigment that was previously unknown.

More chemical detective work could easily determine the source of this pollutant, Artioli says. But the results would be political dynamite. If the contaminant came from the walls or floor of the building, the municipality of Verona could be guilty of allowing cultural heritage items to be transferred to a building that had not been properly checked for pollutants.

Tine, whose office is responsible for ensuring compliance with cultural-heritage laws in the Veneto region, suggests that the source of the pollutant may be the padding in the storage cabinets acquired for the artefacts in their new premises. He also plays down the seriousness of the problem. "Only a hundred or so of the millions of objects in the collections have turned blue, and they can easily be restored to their original colour," he says.

But scientists see things very differently. "Up to 30% of the flints are turning blue," says Artioli. "Sure, we can bleach the colour out, but then palaeontologists will never be able to do any meaningful analysis from a chemical point of view." And although they have not changed colour, the bones and pottery are more porous than the stone tools and therefore will have a deeper exposure to the chemical pollutants, he says. "Now the summer temperatures are accelerating the chemical transformation," he adds. "The matter is urgent."
I just don't understand this - why can't the museum people move the artifacts elsewhere and everyone can bitch and argue about the issues later?  Isn't preserving the artifacts the most important thing?  So why is everyone standing around pointing fingers at one another and not doing a damn thing to save the artifacts?  Is someone keeping the artifacts locked away under armed guard so that the experts cannot get to them and move them?  I mean - come on folks - how about some rationality? 

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R4 Games

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 4"]
[White "IM Irina Krush"]
[Black "WGM Katerina Rohonyan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "1"]
[Input "DGT6645"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. c5 Nbd7 6. Bf4 Nh5 7. Bd2 Nhf6 8. Qc2 g6 9. h3 Qc7 10. e4 Nxe4 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. Ng5 h6 13. Nxe4 Bg7 14. Bc4 Nf6 15. Nxf6+ Bxf6 16. Qb3 e6 17. Be3 Bd7 18. Qc2 Bg7 19. O-O O-O 20. Qd2 Kh7 21. Bf4 Qd8 22. Bd6 Re8 23. Rfe1 a5 24. Re3 b6 25. Rae1 bxc5 26. dxc5 Bc8 27. Qe2 a4 28. Qf3 Qd7 29. b4 axb3 30. Bxb3 Ba6 31. h4 h5 32. g4 Bh6 33. gxh5 Bxe3 34. hxg6+ fxg6 35. Rxe3 e5 36. Bc2 Re6 37. h5 Rxd6 38. cxd6 Kg7 39. Rxe5 Qxd6 40.
Rg5 Rf8 41. Qc3+ Rf6 42. Rxg6+ Kf7 43. Qxf6+ Qxf6 44. Rxf6+ Kxf6 45. h6 c5 46. Kg2 Bc4 47. a4 Ba2 48. Kf3 c4 49. Ke3 1-0

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 4"]
[White "WGM Sabina Foisor"]
[Black "WGM Camilla Baginskaite"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Board "2"]
[Input "DGT4964"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 g5 8. Bg3 Ne4 9. Nd2 Nxg3 10. hxg3 c5 11. a3 cxd4 12. axb4 dxc3 13. bxc3 Be6 14. e3 Nd7 15. Bb5 Qf6 16. Ra3 O-O 17. Bxd7 Bxd7 18. Nf3 Rfc8 19. Qd4 Qxd4 20. Nxd4 Kg7 21. Kd2 a6 22. Ra5 Be6 23. Rha1 Rab8 24. f4 Rd8 25. f5 Bc8 26. Rc5 Rd6 27. g4 Kf6 28. Raa5 b5 29. Rc7 h5 30. Ra1 hxg4 31. Rh1 Bd7 32. Rh6+ Ke5 33. Rxd6 Kxd6 34. Ra7 Rb6 35. Ke2 f6 36. Kf2 Bc8 37. Rf7 Ke5 38. Re7+ Kd6 39. Re8 Bd7 40. Rd8 Rb7 41. Ra8 Rc7 42. Rxa6+ Ke5 43. Ra3 Bxf5 44. Nxb5 Rb7 45. Nd4 Bd7 46. Ke2 Rc7 47. Kd2 f5 48. Ra1 f4 49. Re1 Kf6 50. Rf1 Ke5 51. Re1 Kf6 52. Rf1 Ke5 53. Re1 1/2-1/2

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 4"]
[White "WIM Alisa Melekhina"]
[Black "IM Anna Zatonskih"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Board "3"]
[Input "DGT4948"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 dxe5 5. Nxe5 c6 6. Bc4 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. O-O O-O 9. Ne4 Nd7 10. f4 N7f6 11. Ng5 e6 12. c3 Qc7 13. Qe1 c5 14. b3 h6 15. Ngf3 cxd4 16. cxd4 Re8 17. Bd2 Bd7 18. Rc1 Qd6 19. Bd3 Rec8 20. Bc4 b5 21. Bd3 Rxc1 22. Bxc1 Be8 23. g4 Ne7 24. Qa5 Nc6 25. Qa6 Rb8 26. g5 Rb6 27. Qa3 Qxa3 28. Bxa3 Nd5 29. Bc5 Rb7 30. Be4 Rb8 31. Bxd5 exd5 32. h4 Nd8 33. b4 Rb7 34. Nh2 Bd7 35. Nxd7 Rxd7 36. Ng4 hxg5 37. fxg5 Ne6 38. Nf6+ Bxf6 39. gxf6 Rc7 40. Re1
Rc6 41. Re5 Nf4 42. Re8+ Kh7 43. Re7 Rxf6 44. Bxa7 Kh6 45. Kh2 Ra6 46. Rxf7 g5 47. hxg5+ Kxg5 48. Bc5 Kg4 49. a3 Rxa3 50. Rg7+ Kf5 51. Re7 Rd3 52. Re1 Kg4 53. Rg1+ Kf3 54. Rf1+ Ke4 55. Rf2 Re3 56. Rf1 Rh3+ 57. Kg1 Rg3+ 58. Kh2 Rh3+ 59. Kg1 Rf3 60. Re1+ Re3 61. Rd1 Nd3 62. Rb1 Re1+ 63. Rxe1+ Nxe1 64. Kf2 Nc2 65. Ke2 Nxd4+ 66. Kd2 Ne6 67. Ke2 d4 68. Be7 Kd5 69. Kd3 Nf4+ 70. Kd2 Kc4 71. Bd6 Nd5 72. Bf8 Nxb4 73. Bd6 Nd5 74. Bf8 Nc3 75. Bg7 b4 76. Kc2 Na4 77. Bf6 Nc5 78. Bg7 b3+ 79. Kd1 Kc3 80. Kc1 b2+ 81. Kb1 Nb3 82. Ka2 Kc2 0-1

Abrahamyan at her most efficient and deadliest.  She dispatched Zenyuk in 36 moves.
[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 4"]
[White "WIM Iryna Zenyuk"]
[Black "WFM Tatev Abrahamyan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Board "4"]
[Input "DGT4950"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. g3 Bg7 8. Bg2 d6 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. Rb1 Qa5 11. O-O Nb6 12. a3 Bb7 13. b4 cxb4 14. axb4 Qa6 15. e4 O-O 16. Nd4 Qc4 17. Bb2 Nfd7 18. Nce2 Ra2 19. Qd2 Ne5 20. Rfc1 Qd3 21. Qxd3 Nxd3 22. Rc7 Nxb2 23. Rxb7 N2c4 24. Bf1 Rfa8 25. Nb3 e6 26. dxe6 fxe6 27. Ned4 Nd2 28. Nxd2 Bxd4 29. Rd1 Rf8 30. Nb3 Bxf2+ 31. Kh1 Be3 32. Nc1 Ra1 33. Bh3 Re8 34. Re1 Nc4 35. Nd3 Ra3 36. Nb2 Nxb2 0-1

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 4"]
[White "WFM Abby Marshall"]
[Black "WIM Beatriz Marinello"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Board "5"]
[Input "DGT4947"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Qb3 Bxf3 9. gxf3 e6 10. Qxb7 Nxd4 11. Bb5+ Nxb5 12. Qc6+ Ke7 13. Qxb5 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Qd5 15. Qe2 Rd8 16. O-O Qd3 17. Qe5 Rd5 18. Qc7+ Kf6 19. Qf4+ Qf5 20. Qxf5+ Kxf5 21. Be3 Ba3 22. Rab1 Rc8 23. Rb7 Kf6 24. Rxa7 Rxc3 25. Rb1 Kg6 26. Ra4 Bc5 27. Bxc5 Rdxc5 28. Kg2 Rg5+ 29. Rg4 Ra3 30. Rb2 h5 31. Rg3 Kf6 32. f4 Rga5 33. Rxa3 Rxa3 34. h4 g6 35. f3 Kf5 36. Kg3 Ra5 37. Rc2 f6 38. Rb2 e5 39.
fxe5 fxe5 40. Rc2 Ra3 41. Re2 Ra4 42. Rb2 g5 43. hxg5 h4+ 44. Kh3 Kxg5 45. Rg2+ Kf5 46. Rg8 Rxa2 47. Kxh4 Kf4 48. Rf8+ Ke3 49. Re8 Kd4 50. Rd8+ 1/2-1/2

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R4

Ach - it was over when Melekhina lost her only pawn.  She resigned on move 82.

Unofficial standings:
Krush 3.5
Zatonskih 3.5
Abrahamyan 3.0
Melekhina 2.0
Zenyuk 2.0
Baginskaite 1.5
Foisor 1.5
Marinello 1.5
Rohanyan 1.0
Marshall 0.5

Pairings for R5:

1 WIM Beatriz Marinello  2206 - WGM Sabina Foisor  2356
2 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan  2403 - WFM Abby Marshall  2211
3 IM Anna Zatonskih  2518 - WIM Iryna Zenyuk  2286
4 WGM Katerina Rohonyan  2322 - WIM Alisa Melekhina  2323
5 WGM Camilla Baginskaite  2387 - IM Irina Krush  2521

Relatively speaking, I expect Abrahamyan to win against Marshall.  She'll want to keep pace with the leaders, who will each be gunning for wins.  Call me crazy, but I think Baginskaite will give Krush a hard time tomorrow - don't know about that one.  Zatonskih should come out on top over Zenyuk - which means Krush will be pushing for a win to keep pace.  If Krush draws, Zatonskih wins and Abrahamyan wins, suddenly Krush is in third pace.  Hmmm....

Rohonyan and Melekhina - odds favor a draw but neither lady has been inclined toward drawish games!  I can't say about Rohonyan but I'm fairly sure Melekhina does not want to settle for "middle of the pack" this Championship!  Don't have a clue what may happen in that one.  Marinello-Foisor, I think Foisor may pull out a win.

We'll see.  Perhaps I should try divination by writing the players' names around the rim of a bowl, floating a toothpick on water and see where it points when I ask specific questions...  Probably the toothpick would not deign to move.

Exhausting R5 tomorrow, and STILL one more round after that before a day off for the players. Oh I know, I know, I'm SOOOOO picky. 

Coverage the rest of the week will be sketchy until Saturday - I just can't watch enough of the games and listen to the commentary during the work week while they're actually being played, and I don't have the energy or the hours to do that after I get home from a hard day at the office.  Wish I had some staff to do tht for me but - alas --

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R4

Melekhina-Zatonskih is on move 56 and still going as of a few second ago.  Melekhina has about 4 minutes left plus the increment, Zatonskih had a little over 2 minutes plus increment.

Krush-Rohanyan 1-0
Foisor-Baginskaite 1/2 - 1/2
Zenyuk-Abrahamyan 0-1
Marshall-Marinello 1/2 - 1/2

As expected, Krush defeated Rohanyan, but it looks like she had her hands full to do it!  Abby Marshall gets on the score board with a draw.  Abrahamyan is continuing her winning ways and she's going to be right there at the end -- she's only 1/2 point behind current leader Krush.  Zatonskih must win this game to keep pace with Krush - at least as of the end of R4.

Sure is shaping up to an interesting championship.  I just took a look at Melekhina-Zatonskih - they are moving very quickly now.  Melekhina has 3:26, Zatonskih 3:10.  Rooks were traded and are off the board.  Zatonskih has 2 pawns to Melekhina's 1, Melekhina has a black squares bishop, Zatonskih has a knight.  It's pretty obvious Zatonskih is trying desperately for a win, but short of Melekhina making a blunder, it looks like a draw to me.

Egyptian Women Work - But No Rights

From The New York Times
The Female Factor
In Egypt, Women Have Burdens but No Privileges
Published: July 13, 2010

CAIRO — Hoda Gameel is 22 and one of the millions of women in Egypt thrust by need and circumstance into the world of work. While the act of leaving home to work may have liberated some women in the past, Egyptian women have found no recognition and are fleeing instead back toward tradition.

“I used to be ambitious, and I had dreams. Now I just want to get married and stay at home,” Ms. Gameel said. “My only hope is to be able to rest when I get married.”

She wakes at 7 a.m., makes breakfast for two younger brothers, walks them to school, returns home to iron clothes and goes to work, selling headscarfs at a booth in a glitzy mall. At night, after battling Cairo traffic on a 90-minute ride in a dilapidated bus, she has a late dinner, studies and — finally — sleeps.

It is a grind that yields barely $100 a month even with extra shifts, and a story drearily familiar in countries where tradition still deprives most women of opportunity, and poorly paid drudgery is the only choice.

Ms. Gameel has the burdens, but not the privileges, of her male counterparts. “I feel like a man,” she said. “Men are the ones who are supposed to struggle and carry the burden of their family. A woman is meant to provide love, affection and be sheltered. She shouldn’t be out and about all the time.”

The oldest of four children, Ms. Gameel, in her fourth year of accounting studies, had to provide when her father, an illiterate construction worker, retired with severe asthma at 51 and her mother grew too overweight to sew clothes in a factory for less than $50 a month.

At first, when she was 19, she worked as a secretary in a small company that sells air-conditioners. She liked the office job, and her salary was twice what she makes selling headscarfs. But her boss was a little too attentive — “he would keep dropping things on purpose so that I would have to bend down and get them.” When Ms. Gameel complained to colleagues, word got to her boss, and he fired her.

Women’s greater presence in the work force has not translated into any fundamental shift in prevailing attitudes toward women in public life.

Indeed, in a recent survey in association with the International Herald Tribune by the Pew Research Center in Washington, Egypt emerged as one country where women in the workplace clearly take a back seat to men and equal rights are a goal rather than reality. Sixty-one percent of respondents in Egypt said women should be allowed to work outside the home. But 75 percent said that when jobs are scarce, men should have more right to work.

“Yes, more women are working, but not every work is liberating,” said Iman Bibars, chairwoman of the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women, based in Cairo. “So in the end, a lot of the younger generation do not want to work. It is regressive and reactionary.”

“At the same time that women are out to work, and this is a modern indicator, traditions continue to have the upper hand,” noted Madiha el-Safty, professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo.

Egypt is ranked 120 out of 128 countries in gender equality by the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report, with emphasis on its low performance in the subcategories of political empowerment and genuine female opportunity in the economy.

Things may in fact be getting worse for women. In Egypt, the government sector has traditionally proved more hospitable to women. As the economy has shifted toward the private sector, women are losing out. According to a 2010 Population Council report, the unemployment rate for women ages 15 to 29 is about 32 percent, compared with 12 percent for men the same ages.

Women in Egypt occupy only eight out of the 454 seats in Parliament — and five of those female deputies were appointed by the president. There are just three female ministers and no women among Egypt’s 29 governors.

When women applied to be judges in the State Council, Egypt’s highest administrative court, the council’s general assembly voted against, arguing that women’s emotional disposition and maternal duties rendered them unfit. The decision was overruled in March after Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif appealed to the constitutional court, but no women have been appointed.

Similarly, Parliament passed a law last year, initiated by the ruling National Democratic Party, giving women a 64-seat quota in an expanded lower house over the next two five-year terms, starting with elections this autumn.

Spheres like law and politics are scarcely open to women of Ms. Gameel’s modest background, noted Fayzah el-Tahnawy, a member of the ruling party and a former member of Parliament from the conservative region of Menya.

Only affluent women “can afford to have ambition,” while most women belong to the middle or lower classes, she noted. In addition, female illiteracy remains high: the most recent Egyptian Labor Market Survey found that 47 percent of rural women and 23 percent of urban women could not read or write.

“This is why we had to implement the quota system in order to make room for women in politics,” said Ms. Tahnawy. “It didn’t just happen on its own.”

How any of these measures would help Ms. Gameel is unclear. She doggedly pursues her degree, and English language courses in summer. She wants a job in a bank for favorable hours (work ending at 2 p.m.) that she sees as her only shot at a dignified career and happy marriage.

“I work like a machine,” said Ms. Gameel. “There are no promotions, my salary doesn’t increase, and there is no mercy. Where is the sense of fulfillment in that?”

It is 11 p.m. Ms. Gameel totals sales for the day, calls in to the owner and shutters the booth. She is carrying frozen okra, which her mother will cook for dinner. She shuffles to the bus. She gazes out the window. Halfway home, she finally speaks. “This bumpy ride alone is bound to kill me.”

Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R3

Okay, while I was taking the bus home Krush somehow managed to lose good winning chances by really putting the screws to Zatonskih and they ended up drawing the game!  Ohmygoddess!  I missed the commentary too, drat!  If I have time later I'll see if the video is up and take a look.  Me trying to work my way through these games is about useless, LOL, but listening to the commentary is usually enlightening if I can follow the way those pieces zip around during the analysis!  So, the decisive games streak in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship is over, and begins anew.  Is Krush kicking herself around the block right now? 

In the meantime, Marinello scored a victory with the white pieces against Iryna Zenyuk who was in horrible time trouble; I don't recall exactly because I was rushing peeks at the office but I believe the last time I looked at their game she was down to like 2 minutes on her clock and she had at least 13 moves to go to make time control.  Thus, Marinello scores her first victory.

Abby Marshall lost her game to Sabina Foisor, who wins her first, behind the black pieces.

I can't figure this one at all (without having looked further at the game) - Rohonyon lost to Baginskaite who, when I had last glanced at the game at the office, also seemed to be in some time trouble.  Thus, Baginskaite also scores her full point, behind the black pieces.

And I see the score just went up - Abrahamyan defeated Melekhina.

Zatonskih 2.5/3
Krush 2.5/3
Zenyuk 2.0/3
Melekhina 2.0/3
Abrahamyan 2.0/3
Rohonyan 2.0/3
Baginskaite 1.0/3
Marinello 1.0/3
Foisor 1.0/3
Marshall 0.0

Pairings for R4:

1 WGM Sabina Foisor 2356 WGM Camilla Baginskaite 2387
2 IM Irina Krush  2521 WGM Katerina Rohonyan  2322
3 WIM Alisa Melekhina  2323 IM Anna Zatonskih  2518
4 WIM Iryna Zenyuk  2286 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan  2403
5 WFM Abby Marshall  2211 WIM Beatriz Marinello  2206

My predictions - for what they're worth (probably not even 2 cents):

Now that Foisor and Baginskaite have each seemed to get their legs underneath them, it may be a horse apiece despite their best efforts to pull off a win.

Krush should handle Rohonyan and score the point.

Melekhina was defeated in their 2009 game and she's going to have her hands full, as Zatonskih will be pressing for the full point to maintain pace with Krush (figuring that Krush will win her game against Rohonyan).

Zenyuk will experience a case of the yips and once again fall into serious time trouble early on; I expect this to be one of the first games decided, in Abrahamyan's favor.

Going out on a bit of a limb, but I think despite her 3 losses Marshall is a better player than Marinello;  Marinello is shaking off the rust, but I see a win for Abby.  It won't be easy, though.

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R3 Action!

Wow!  Zatonskih/Krush is a barnburner.  Krush made some moves that I actually understood and approved of - wow, guess that identifies me as a super-aggressive non-positional player who goes for sharp positions -- LOL!  Yeah, as if I know what I"m talking about!

Seriously, it's SOME game and I'm going nuts here with my headphones on trying to work and sneak peeks at the board and listen to the live commentary all at the same time.  Gotta go - commentary is coming back on after a short break.  Don't know how much longer I can get away with having my door shut (which around here means absolutely do not disturb - they may thing I died or something).

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - R2 Games in PGN

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 2"]
[White "WGM Sabina Foisor"]
[Black "WGM Katerina Rohonyan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Board "1"]
[Input "DGT6645"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bxc4 e6 5. Nf3 c5 6. O-O a6 7. Qe2 Qc7 8. Rd1
Nc6 9. Nbd2 Bd6 10. Nf1 O-O 11. Bd2 b5 12. Bb3 Bb7 13. dxc5 Bxc5 14. Rac1 Qe7
15. Ng3 Rfd8 16. Bc3 Bb6 17. a3 h6 18. h3 Rac8 19. e4 Na5 20. Bc2 Nc4 21. Bb1
Nd7 22. Nh5 e5 23. Nh2 Nc5 24. Ng3 Nb3 25. Rxd8+ Rxd8 26. Nf5 Qf8 27. Re1 g6
28. Ng3 h5 29. Nf3 Qc5 30. Ba2 Nd4 31. Qf1 Nxf3+ 32. gxf3 h4 33. Ne2 Bc8 34.
Bb4 Qc7 35. Qg2 Kg7 36. Bc3 f6 37. Kh2 Qc5 38. Bxc4 bxc4 39. Rf1 Rh8 40. Bb4
Qc6 41. Rg1 Qe8 42. Bc3 Rh5 43. Bd2 Bd4 44. Bc1 Bc5 45. f4 exf4 46. Bxf4 Bb7
47. Nc3 Bd4 48. Qf3 Rf5 49. Ne2 Bxe4 50. Qg4 Bxf2 51. Rf1 Ba7 52. Qxh4 g5 53.
Qg4 Bd3 54. Ng3 Rb5 55. Nh5+ Kh8 56. Nxf6 Rxb2+ 57. Kg3 gxf4+ 58. Kh4 Qf7 59.
Qxf4 Qg7 60. Qf3 Qh6+ 61. Nh5 Bxf1 62. Qc3+ Kh7 63. Qxb2 Bb6 64. Qe5 Bd8+ 65.
Kg4 Qg6+ 66. Kf4 Bxh3 0-1

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 2"]
[White "WGM Camilla Baginskaite"]
[Black "IM Anna Zatonskih"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Board "2"]
[Input "DGT4964"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e3 Nf6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Be2
Bb7 9. O-O Be7 10. e4 b4 11. e5 bxc3 12. exf6 Bxf6 13. bxc3 c5 14. dxc5 O-O 15.
Ba3 Be7 16. Rb1 Bd5 17. c4 Be4 18. Bd3 Bxd3 19. Qxd3 Nxc5 20. Qe3 Qc7 21. Rb5
Rac8 22. Rfb1 Rfd8 23. h3 a6 24. Rb6 Rd3 25. Qc1 Rcd8 26. Ne1 Rd1 27. Qe3 h6
28. R6b2 Bf6 29. Bxc5 Bxb2 30. Rxb2 R8d3 31. Qe2 Qxc5 32. Kh2 Rd8 33. Nf3 Qd6+ 34. g3 Qd3 35. Qxd3 R1xd3 36. Kg2 Rc3 37. Rb6 Ra3 38. c5 Rxa2 39. c6 Rc2 40. Rxa6 Rc8 41. Ne5 f6 42. Ng6 Kf7 0-1

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 2"]
[White "IM Irina Krush"]
[Black "WFM Tatev Abrahamyan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "3"]
[Input "DGT4948"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Na6 8. Be3
Ng4 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bc1 Kh8 11. h3 Nh6 12. a3 c6 13. dxe5 fxe5 14. Bg5 Qc7 15. b4
Nf7 16. Be3 Qe7 17. c5 Nc7 18. cxd6 Nxd6 19. Qd2 Ne6 20. Rfd1 Nf7 21. Na4 Rd8
22. Qc3 Re8 23. b5 Nf4 24. Bf1 Ng5 25. Nxg5 Qxg5 26. Kh2 cxb5 27. Nc5 Qh5 28.
Nd7 Ne2 29. Bxe2 Qxe2 30. Rd3 Qh5 31. Rad1 Qh4 32. f3 Qe7 33. Qb3 b6 34. Qxb5
Rd8 35. Nxb6 Rxd3 36. Nxc8 Rxc8 37. Rxd3 h5 38. Qa6 Qe8 39. Qxa7 Ra8 40. Qc7
Bf8 41. Bg5 1-0

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 2"]
[White "WIM Alisa Melekhina"]
[Black "WIM Beatriz Marinello"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "4"]
[Input "DGT4950"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bd3 Nbd7 5. O-O Be7 6. Nbd2 O-O 7. b3 b6 8. c4
Bb7 9. Qc2 c5 10. Bb2 Rc8 11. e4 dxc4 12. bxc4 cxd4 13. e5 Ng4 14. Bxh7+ Kh8
15. Be4 Qc7 16. Bxd4 Nc5 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Rfe1 g6 19. Nb3 Kg7 20. Qd2 Nh6 21.
Nxc5 Bxc5 22. Bxc5 Rxc5 23. Qf4 Rfc8 24. Rac1 Qe7 25. Nd2 b5 26. Rc3 Nf5 27.
Rh3 bxc4 28. Ne4 Rd5 29. g4 Qb4 30. Rf1 Rd3 31. Ng3 Qd2 32. Qxd2 Rxd2 33. Ne4
Re2 34. Nc3 Nd4 35. Rd1 Rd8 36. f4 Rc2 37. Kf1 Rh8 38. Rxh8 Kxh8 39. Ne4 Nf3
40. Rd8+ Kg7 41. Nf6 Nxh2+ 42. Ke1 Nxg4 43. Rg8+ Kh6 44. Nxg4+ Kh5 45. Ne3 Kh4  1-0

[Event "2010 U.S. Women's and Junior Closed Championships"]
[Site "St. Louis"]
[Date ""]
[Round "round 2"]
[White "WIM Iryna Zenyuk"]
[Black "WFM Abby Marshall"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Board "5"]
[Input "DGT4947"]
[Owner "St. Louis Chess Club"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bf4 Bg4 4. e3 e6 5. Be2 Nf6 6. O-O Bd6 7. Ne5 Bxe2 8.
Qxe2 Bxe5 9. dxe5 Nd7 10. e4 O-O 11. exd5 exd5 12. Nd2 Re8 13. Nf3 f6 14. Rad1
Ndxe5 15. Bxe5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 Rxe5 17. Qb5 Rb8 18. f4 c6 19. Qc5 Re2 20. Rfe1
Rxe1+ 21. Rxe1 Qb6 22. Qxb6 axb6 23. Re7 Kf8 24. Rc7 Re8 25. Rxb7 Re2 26. Rxb6
Rxc2 27. a4 d4 28. Kf1 Ke7 29. a5 Kd6 30. a6 Rc1+ 31. Ke2 Ra1 32. Kd3 Kc5 33.
Rb7 Rxa6 34. b4+ Kd5 35. Rd7+ Ke6 36. Rxg7 Rb6 37. Kc4 h5 38. Rg3 Ra6 39. Kxd4
Ra2 40. Rh3 Rxg2 41. Rxh5 Rg4 42. Ke4 Rg2 43. Rc5 Kd6 44. h4 Rb2 45. Rc4 Rh2
46. Kf5 Rxh4 47. Kxf6 Kd5 48. Rc5+ Kd6 49. Kg5 Rh1 50. Rc2 Kd5 51. Rc5+ Kd6 52. Ra5 Rb1 53. Ra4 Kd5 54. f5 Ke5 55. Ra5+ Ke4 56. f6 Rxb4 57. f7 Rb8 58. Rc5 Rf8 59. Kf6 Rc8 60. Re5+ 1-0

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

R2 results:

Foisor/Rohonyan 0-1
Baginskaite/Zatonskih 0-1
Krush/Abrahamyan 1-0
Melekhina/Marinello 1-0
Zenyuk/Marshall 1-0

The streak of all-decisive games continues.  GM Nakamura, who has done commentary the first two rounds of the Women's and Junior's Championships, seems somewhat perplexed and, perhaps, even astonished by this.  But darling, it's just women's fighting chess :)  He's just not had much exposure to it, the young'n. 

Not sure about this since the standings after completion of R2 have yet to be updated at the official website, but I think things stand (in no particular order):
Zatonskih 2.0/2
Krush 2.0/2
Melekhina 2.0/2
Zenyuk 2.0/2
Abrahamyan 1.0/2
Rohonyan 1.0/2
Foisor 0.0/2
Marshall 0.0/2
Marinello 0.0/2
Baginskaite 0.0/2
I can't believe I have to work tomorrow - yech - not when Krush and Zatonskih are facing off against each other in Round 3!  Melekhina said in her post R2 comments that her game tomorrow with Abrahamyan could decide which way the Championship will go for her.  I'll be trying to take peeks at the live action while I work, and will have my headphones on, but honestly, the office isn't the best place to follow what's going on, LOL! 

There's a long way to go yet.  I do not expect Baginskaite, Foisor, Marshall or Marinello to stay at 0.0 for the next 7 rounds.  Can Zatonskih repeat?  She doesn't seem so sure of herself this time around.  Krush, Melekhina and Zenyuk seem in fine form, but can they maintain the pace?  I think Abby Marshall is a wild card.  I think she's much better than her results have shown thus far, and she could catch fire at any time, causing some upsets.  I agree with Melekhina - my gut tells me her game tomorrow with Abrahamyan will be important, in ways I'm sure I haven't even thought about! 

Exhaustion will take its toll as the rounds grind on, even with one free day.  Being a 'spectator' is hard enough watching from 2 p.m. through beyond 6 p.m. as has been the case the past 2 days.  I can't even begin to imagine sitting down and playing such intense games as a Championship for 9 straight games, up to 6 hours each day, and then trying to prep for the next day's game and get a good night's sleep (yeah, right, har!) 

And with that, I'm signing off for the night - at least with respect to chess!  I've updated Chess Femme New's coverage of the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship.  Please visit and give me some stats :)
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