Saturday, October 2, 2010

Auction Watch: Christie's Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds October, 2010

Article at (The Financial Times of London):

Sale of the week: Islamic and Indian art
By Simon de Burton
Published: October 1 2010 23:37 | Last updated: October 1 2010 23:37
Sale: Islamic and Indian Art
Location: Christie’s, 8 King Street, London SW1. tel: +44 (0) 20 7839 9060
Date: Tuesday (October 5). On view Sunday 2pm-5pm; Monday 9am-4.30pm

Christie's online catalog for the sale.

Ohmygoddess!  Incredibly beautiful and rare art and artifacts.  Wish I was a billionaire.  Damn, I should have married so and so back in 1972...  Oh well. 

A few gameboards, etc. are up for auction.

A very beautiful intricately inlaid folding chessboard/case.  Here is the info from Christie's website along with a small photo:

Lot 162/Sale 7871
Estimate (Set Currency) £40,000 - £60,000
($62,920 - $94,380)

Lot Description
Formed as a rectangular box hinged in the centre, the exterior worked as a chessboard with alternating squares of plain ivory and micro-mosaic star-form panels, the edges decorated with alternating panels of chequered ivory and mosaic star lozenges, each end with one floral bouquet facing the player, the interior with a recessed backgammon board with geometrically-decoated darts on an ivory ground, the centre with floral sprays within stepped cartouches in rectangular frames with mirco-mosaic spandrels, the outer edges with ivory plaques pierced with holes alternated with square panels with mosaic stars, splits to ivory, some losses to inlay
Open 19in. (49.2cm.) square; closed 19 x 9½in. (48.2 x 24.1cm.)

Lot 163/Sale 7871
Estimate (Set Currency) £20,000 - £25,000
($31,460 - $39,325)

Another incredibly beautiful chess/backgammon board (this image shows a peek atg the backgammon board on the inside of the box):

Lot Description
Formed as a box hinged in the centre, the exterior worked as a chessboard with alternating ivory and ebony squares, triangles of geometric mosaic motifs around the sides, two further lines with finer mosaic triangles inlaid with silver wire along the short sides, opening to reveal a backgammon board with alternating white and brown wood triangles along each side, the centre of each face with a lozenge of mosaic work and clusters of four stars at each point, modern hinges, small areas of restoration
18¼ x 21¼in. (46.5 x 54cm.)

Chess Femme News!

Armenian press continues to write about their Open and Women's Chess Olympiad Teams even though, with only 1 round to go, neither team  has a chance for a medal, despite going in with high hopes (particularly Armenia's Open Team). A great show of support for the home teams:

World Chess Olympiad last round scheduled for October 3

October 2, 2010 - 14:08 AMT 09:08 GMTPanARMENIAN.Net - Armenian men and women’s teams will rival France and Slovenia respectively in the last round of the World Chess Olympiad on October 3.

Men pairs are: Levon Aronian – Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vladimir Akopian – Fressinet Laurent, Gabriel Sargissian – Vladislav Tkachiev, Arman Pashikian – Romain Edouard.

Women: Elina Danielyan – Anna Muzychuk, Lilit Mkrtchyan – Jana Krivec, Lilit Galoyan – Darja Kaps, Nelly Aghinyan - Vesna Rozic.

Currently, Armenian men’s team is 6th; women are in the 15th place.

Big news in Uganda as the Ugandan Women's Team defeats the Ethiopean Women:
CHESS: Uganda outwits Ethiopia
Friday, 1st October, 2010 E-mail article Print article
By Phillip Corry

Chessbase's report on Round 10 Action: Ukraine Crushes France; Russian Women are Gold
01 10 2010

Chessdom's report on Russian Women Win Gold with One Round to Go, including interesting information on how the tie-breaks are calculated

Chessvibe's report on Round 10 and the Russian Women's Victory.  Kudos to Chessvibes for putting up a selection of women's games, even though they are at the very bottom of the scroll-down list - see the list near bottom of article linked.  I believe that if the games were stripped of identification markers so that we were not able to readily pick out "Grandmaster so and so's game v. Grandmaster so and so" the ranking of these games in terms of interesting play would be a lot different! Some folks might be able to pick out a few games that exhibit tell-tale markers of the play of certain GMs, but overall, the average (and even above-average) player would not be able to discern a gender turn in the moves.  The bias against "women's chess" is so silly. 

IM Dronavalli Harika of India,
contemplative before a game
 Mainstream press coverage of the Indian Women's Team loss to China, which put them out of medal contention:
Indian eves out of medal contention
PTI, Oct 2, 2010, 11.30am IST
The Times of India

Indian Women played without the presence of the second highest rated female player in the world:  GM Koneru Humpy.  Certainly Humpy is good enough to play on the Open Team, and may have aided in that team's quest for a medal. I don't doubt that she would have been a valuable addition to the Indian Women's Team.  I don't know or care who is "right" or "wrong" in the dispute between Koneru and the official chess federation of India (the official federation at the moment - there is another organization contending for that role) - I just find it very sad because, ultimately, the game of chess itself and chess fans everywhere are the losers.  Frankly, in a game that is struggling for financial support and where all except the top few players in the world cannot make a living doing what they love and are best at, no one (that includes organizations) can afford to offend the game and its audience these days!  Like - duh!

Press coverage of the Vietnamese Women's Team:
Vietnamese girls shine at World Chess Olympics
Nhan Dan (not dated)

Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation - Fall, 2010 Newsletter

WSCF Website.

In addition to several events:

Oct 2 - Kenosha Tournament (sorry about the late announcement)
Oct 5 - WFB Club Begins
Oct 15 - Blitz Tournament
Oct 23 - Saylesville Tourny
Nov 6 - Lakeview - Kenoahsa Tourney
Nov 6 - Trinity Lutheran - Okauchee
Nov 13 - Sun Prairie Tourney
Nov 19 - 21 International Folk Fair Tournament/Simuls
Nov 26-27 Chess Camp
Dec 4 Community HS Tournament
Dec 11 Fairview Charter Tourney

two new chess clubs have been added:

The first is in Kenosha and meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month.  The club meets from 6:00 to 8:00 at Lakeview Technology Academy at 9449 88th Avenue, Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158.   The club is free for drop in players and members will pay dues, the amount as yet to be decided. Club leaders are Alan Cargille and Tom Chryst.

The second club is in Whitefish Bay and begins October 6th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.  The "Whitefish Bay Community Chess Club" meets at Roundy Memorial Baptist Church at 1250 E. Hampton Avenue. The first 10 week session of the club ends December 15 with one week off for Thanksgiving.   You can sign up for the club the first 3 weeks on site or you can sign up on-line (unfortunately, no link was provided) at or go to WSCF's website (see above).  Fee for the 10 week session is $40 or $5 for 1 evening. Students will recieve instruction at their level, participate in club tournaments and have lots of fun. Chris McElduff, local chess instructor will lead, teach and organize the club. Email for further information. 

Wisconsin has a young scholastic player who has been invited to play in the World Youth Chess Championships October 19 - 31, 2010, but his family needs financial assistance to make this dream a reality:

Awonder with his Co-Champion
Trophy at Supernations IV
 Send Awonder To Greece!

Awonder Liang of Van Hise Elementary in Madison is 7 years old , in second grade and is going to Greece. He has qualified in the U8 category to participate in the World Youth Chess Championships next month from Oct 19 - 31.

Awonder has competed in over 60 tournaments in only 27 months and as of this writing is rated 1812. Awonder qualified as one of 40 participants to represent the US at the World Championships where he will play 11 rounds of chess in as many days. Last December Awonder became the National 1st grade Champion.

The cost to send him to Greece is more than his family can afford so there is a fund set up to collect funds for his journey. Join WSCF in helping Awonder go to Greece by sending your donation to: Send Awonder to Greece, account #182374870661, c/o US Bank, 3609 University Ave., Madison, WI, 53705.

You can read more about his trip and his exploits in this Wisconsin State Journal article.

Ancient Egypt at the University of London - November, 2010!

A reminder of earlier posts!

Medicine, Health and Disease in Ancient Egypt
Saturday 6 November 2010

The Pyramid at the Lourve, Paris, France
Ancient Egyptian Art and Modern Design
Saturday 20 November 2010

Bloomsbury Summer School in Egypt
10 - 17 November 2010
For other interesting Egyptology events please contact the Bloomsbury Summer School: Lucia Gahlin.

Queen's Gambit

Hola!  I have finally started reading The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis.  I do not remember who it was who recommended the book (sorry) - it was someone at this blog - so whoever you are, thank you!

I knew Tevis had written The Hustler and The Color of Money but I'd no idea he had also written The Man Who Fell to Earth - which as a movie years ago absolutely blew me away.  Some of the imagery in that film is still vivid in my mind although I did not always understand what was going on in the film.  Astoundingly, David Bowie played the man who fell to Earth from the sky - yeah, the musician David Bowie.  The film was a stunning experience.  I'd no idea beforehand what it was about, except that it was classed as "science fiction" and I'm a big fan of science fiction - not the blood and guts stuff (alien monsters ripping humans or each other apart) but I like a good story like Star Wars type stuff - and so I went to see it on a date.  I don't remember who the date was - but I remember that film :)

Tevis, who once was an English professor, died in 1984; The Queen's Gambit was published in 1983.  Prior to his death he did some interviews, two of which I found recordings of online, and they are absolutely fascinating.  You can find them at Wired for Books: interviews with Walter Tevis.  The MP3 worked for me.

I forced myself to put down the novel (which I started last night after working on the Family Tree project for hours) to do a few other things this morning - like blogging, LOL!  It was difficult, let me tell you!  I am totally captivated by the character of Beth Harmon and her world, which is all too shudderingly vivid.  Tevis' prose is "dense" - he packs tons of emotions and imagery into rather a few words (relatively speaking), it's absolutely amazing what he does with words.  Not the type of novel prose I'm used to reading but for this story it absolutely works - I "get it" at a visceral level and see the scenes inside my mind in technicolor. By the way, Beth is NOT plain.  Today she would be "Top Model" material.  But by the standards of the 1950's/early 1960's she is not "cute."  Any person who has that kind of intensity radiate out of herself  would be a powerful magnet, and to express her power through the moves of chess pieces - Damn, I wish Tevis was still alive, I would love to have a sit down with him and ask him more about this female character he created. 

It is interesting that over the years several projects to bring the novel to film petered off into nothingness - the most recent (2008) involved Keith Ledger, who died before much of the project came to fruition. 

Turning this book into a film would involve unique challenges, I think, because so much is interior and cerebral/mental - but after seeing how "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was put together, a film that also captivated me and is one of my all-time favorites, I believe The Queen's Gambit could be done.  The right sets, the right music to evoke the emotions that accompany the incredible revelations she discovers in blinding flashes, and the emotional roller-coaster that is Beth's interior life.  There is a scene, her first visit to Morris' book store, where she sees, all lined up in rows, dozens of books on chess - Goddess!  I know that feeling - oh, not about chess books, but what those books represent.  I know Beth.  The challenge would be to find the right actresses to portray her. 

Wikipedia info
Review by Michael Schaub (August, 2003) at Bookslut
Buy it at Amazon

Friday, October 1, 2010

Goddess Guanyin Enroute to Taiwan

From People's Daily Online (notice the "see how nice we play with Taiwan" touch by the Chinese government, but then, this is the propaganda newpaper geared toward English language folks)  By the way, the photo is hilarious!  The Goddess is gettng ready to do some deep sea diving  by the looks of it :)

1,000 statues of Buddhist goddess to be sent to Taiwan temples
19:38, September 27, 2010

Statues of Buddhist goddess Guanyin are seen at Laotangshan port in Zhoushan, east China's Zhejiang Province, Sept. 27, 2010. More than 300 Chinese monks and nuns boarded an Italian passenger ship with 1,000 statues Monday to the port of Keelung in southeast China's Taiwan. The statues, which are to be given as gifts to several temples in Taiwan, are from the Putuoshan Mountain that is famous for Buddhism culture. (Xinhua/Wang Dingchang)

Guanyin is also known as Kuanyin (and various other spellings), the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, and she has been ever popular. 

Check out Seven Syllable Kuan Yin Mantra by Robin Beck - you'll see the iconography is often identical to that of the Christian Virgin Mary with (and without) Christ Child

British Columbia to First Nations: We WILL Pave, But We'll Be Careful :)

Ancient history could be paved
9,000-year-old First Nations site threatened
Brian Lewis, The Province
Published: Friday, October 01, 2010

There's a vacant piece of property on the Fraser River's southern bank, slightly upstream from the Alex Fraser Bridge, that looks remarkably ordinary.

However, this changes abruptly once R.G. Matson, a professor emeritus in archeology from the University of B.C., explains what's beneath your feet.

What you are actually standing on is abundant evidence of human history that stretches back before the days of Stonehenge in the U. K or the pyramids in Egypt.

This is the Glenrose Cannery archeological site in North Delta, where since 1969 scientists have dug deep into its earth and discovered artifacts and other remains that confirm that ancient First Nations peoples were using this location as a temporary summer food-gathering place as long as 9,000 years ago.

It's certainly one of B.C.'s oldest heritage sites and it's also well known internationally in archeological circles, but as important and priceless as it is, that's still not going to stop the B.C. government from building the $1.2-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road over it.

And that's why a small gathering of concerned citizens and community groups assembled earlier this week to hear Matson explain the site's importance and why it should be protected.

"When I started work on this site in 1973, it was the first piece of West Coast archeology that I did, but ultimately, it may be the most important," he tells us.

Previous archeological excavations show evidence of human habitation such as stone and bone spear points, knives and other tools, as well as animal remains including elk, deer, harbour seal, shellfish and salmon.

Matson says the oldest traces have been found more than eight metres below the current surface and represent the Old Cordilleran period, which is between 5,000 and 9,000 years old.

However, from an artifact point of view, the site's most productive layers were found between about five and six metres deep, which represents the St. Mungo Period from between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago.

"You have to realize that, in this site's earliest days, the Lower Mainland and Fraser River delta looked very different," Matson says. "Richmond didn't exist, because that lower part of the delta hadn't been formed yet. Point Roberts was an island and this site was, in fact, at the Fraser River's mouth."

The Glenrose site is unique because its deepest parts are much older than similar archeological sites farther downstream on the Fraser, Matson says.

"Some of the questions that future archeologists will have can only be answered by having this site preserved," he warns.

Richelle Giberson, a nearby neighbour who is organizing a campaign to save the site, is particularly frustrated by a lack of information from the Gateway Project group, the B.C. government agency building the four-lane, 40-kilometre SFPR that will connect Deltaport with Highway 1 in Surrey.

"Nobody at Gateway has any answers, other than to tell me there will be an impact on it," Giberson says. "Why are we building a freeway though this site?"

A Ministry of Transportation spokesperson said Thursday that steps are being taken to minimize impacts on the archeological site, but declined to go into details.

"I think we're going to have to watch this site like a hawk," Matson adds.

© The Province 2010

The Peopling of America: Did Australian Aborigines Get Here First?

Did Australian Aborigines reach America first?
Thursday, 30 September 2010by Jacqui Hayes
Cosmos Online

SYDNEY: Cranial features distinctive to Australian Aborigines are present in hundreds of skulls that have been uncovered in Central and South America, some dating back to over 11,000 years ago [9000 BCE or older].

Evolutionary biologist Walter Neves of the University of São Paulo, whose findings are reported in a cover story in the latest issue of Cosmos magazine, has examined these skeletons and recovered others, and argues that there is now a mass of evidence indicating that at least two different populations colonised the Americas.

He and colleagues in the United States, Germany and Chile argue that first population was closely related to the Australian Aborigines and arrived more than 11,000 years ago.

Cranial morphology
The second population to arrive was of humans of 'Mongoloid' appearance - a cranial morphology distinctive of people of East and North Asian origin - who entered the Americas from Siberia and founded most (if not all) modern Native American populations, he argues.

"The results suggest a clear biological affinity between the early South Americans and the South Pacific population. This association allowed for the conclusion that the Americas were occupied before the spreading of the classical Mongoloid morphology in Asia," Neves says.

Until about a decade ago, the dominant theory in American archaeology circles was that the 'Clovis people' - whose culture is defined by the stone tools they used to kill megafauna such as mammoths - was the first population to arrive in the Americas.

Clovis culture
They were thought to have crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia into Alaska at the end of the last Ice Age, some 10,000 or so years ago, following herds of megafauna across a land bridge created as water was locked up in glaciers and ice sheets.

But in the late 1990s, Neves and his colleagues re-examined a female skeleton that had been excavated in the 1970s in an extensive cave system in Central Brazil known as Lapa Vermelha.

The skeleton - along with a treasure trove of other finds - had been first unearthed by a Brazilian-French archaeological team that disbanded shortly after its leader, Annette Laming-Emperare, died suddenly. A dispute between participants kept the find barely examined for more than a decade.

The oldest female skeleton, dubbed Luzia, is between 11,000 and 11,400 years old. The dating is not exact because the material in the bones used for dating - collagen - has long since degraded; hence, only the layers of charcoal or sediment above and below the skeleton could be dated.

"We believe she is the oldest skeleton in the Americas," Neves said.

Luzia has a very projected face; her chin sits out further than her forehead, and she has a long, narrow brain case, measured from the eyes to the back of the skull; as well as a low nose and low orbits, the space where the eyes sit.

These facial features are indicative of what Neves calls the 'generalised cranial morphology' - the morphology of anatomically modern humans, who first migrated out of Africa more than 100,000 years ago, and made it as far as Australia some 50,000 years ago, and Melanesia 40,000 years ago.

New finds in seven sites
When Neves first announced his discovery of Luzia in the late 1990s, he faced criticism from a number of archaeologists, who claimed the dating was not accurate. He has since returned to excavate four other sites, and is still cataloguing skeletons from the most recent dig.

In total, there are now hundreds of skeletons with the cranial morphology similar to Australian Aborigines, found in seven sites - as far north as Florida in the United States to Palli Aike in southern Chile.

In 2005, he published a paper in the U.S journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analysing the characteristics of a further 81 skeletons he recovered from one of four sites, in which he said strengthened his argument that there were migrations to the Americas from at least two major populations.

Not related to Native Americans
In June 2010 in the journal PLoS ONE, Neves and colleagues Mark Hubbe of Chile's Northern Catholic University and Katerina Harvati from Germany's University of Tübingen, showed that it was not possible for the Aborigine-like skeletons to be the direct ancestors of the Native Americans.

Nor was it possible for the two populations to share a last common ancestor at the time of the first entrance into the continent, they argued, based on the 57 cranial measurements that can be made on a skull.

So far, almost all DNA studies of Native Americans points to a single entry from Siberia. This may mean that the original population died out, or simply that DNA studies have been too narrow, argue a number of archaeologists

Genetic evidence needed
"The lack of a perfect match between morphological and molecular information can be easily explained by a very frequent event in molecular evolution: loss of DNA lineages throughout time," Neves says.

"At first, I thought there had been a complete replacement of the population [in South America]," just as there was a replacement of a similar population in East Asia during the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary.

However, he now thinks that the original people were, at least partly, absorbed into the colonising groups. "I have not detected anything that could say they interbred [such as skulls exhibiting mixed cranial features]. "But I think we will. It would be unlikely if these people lived side-by-side for 10,000 years and did not interbreed," he added.

Neves is now calling on molecular archaeologists - experts in the recovery and analysis of DNA - to turn their focus to the question of who Luzia's Aborigine-like people were.

2010 Chess Olympiad - 1 Round to Go!

Russian Women 1 have the gold locked up, they can mail it in tomorrow and still win, evidently.  China, whom some (who shall remain nameless) had counted out about 4 rounds ago, is in place to win a medal, as is Ukraine, Georgia and - well, you can read all about it at Susan Polgar's blog:

Top Standings (Open and Women) After R10
Possible Medal Scenarios for Open and Women (like figuring out the wild cards in the NFL) 

I've lost interest since neither American team is in the medal hunt - I've been concentrating on the Family Tree project, realizing about 4 days ago that I've still got much to do on my family's tree and more to do yet on a couple of Tree projects that I'm doing as surprise gifts. 

Report on Russian Women 1's win at official website.  The Russian press is acting like it's a miracle, which is pretty funny, actually, considering how strong the team is; but then, since the Russian Open and Women's Teams didn't do squat in Dresden in 2008 a lot of pressure was/is on the players this year to WIN, and thereby prove that a tolatarian regime where most of the top players no longer live in the country because it absolutely sucks to do so is still a mighty chess power with nuclear weapons and He-Man Putin, the man behind the curtain.  Cough cough.  So, kudos to the Russian Women 1. The Kosintseva sisters are fab, darlings.  I really would like to see them mix it up a lot more in open tournaments against higher rated male players instead of staying in the women's ratings ghetto.  I really would like to see them move elsewhere and earn a decent living for their chessly efforts.  Sigh.

US Open Team (Men) are in 14th place.  US Women are in 8th place.  There is day off tomorrow, which is very strange since then 1 game and closing take place on Sunday.  What a silly schedule. The players would probably have benefited most from a 4 game/off day/4 game/off day/3 games schedule.  Perhaps the rationale behind this schedule was to give the Russian teams a day off for prep before the final round - but it cuts all ways as the other teams who are in the hunt for medals also get time for more prep.  Best scenario on Sunday in my book:  Ivanchuk of Ukraine is the hero!

Judit Polgar watch: 

Polgar is playing Board 3 on the Hungarian Open Team, which is currently in 5th place after R10 in possibly in medal contention (see link to SP's blog above - Possible Medal Scenarios...).  Judit had two losses out of 9 games and played 9 straight; she did not play R10.  Her score is 5.5/9 which is not the best on her team, but her performance rating is 2712 so that's good (it's above her current ELO of 2682). 

Since R11 will be crucial to Hungary's chances for a medal, I expect she will play unless she is on her death bed. 

There is excellent news for Canada today: IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon earned his third GM norm and with the ratings points earned at the Olympiad, will qualify for the GM title! Hooray! Here is the info:

IM Thomas Roussel-Roozmon 2484 CAN 6,5/9 (with no losses) PR 2600 ELO + 16.3

Team Canada started in 53rd in the Open and is currently in 41st, an excellent showing with one more round to fight for higher position.

Canadian Women, who started in 58th place, are in 53rd place after R10, so they are still playing to move up in final position. Here are the stats for the Canadian women through R10:

53. Canada (CAN / RtgAvg:2054, Captain: Shi, Shao Min / TB1: 10 / TB2: 185,5)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Pts. Games Rp w we w-we K rtg+/-
1 WIM Yuan Yuanling 2189 CAN 1 0 1 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 1 7,5 10 2317 6,5 4,05 2,45 15 36,8
2 WIM Kagramanov Dina 2086 CAN 1 1 1 0 1 0 ½ 0 4,5 8 2075 3,5 2,91 0,59 15 8,9
3 Lacau-Rodean Iulia 2024 CAN ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 1 ½ 3,5 8 1936 3 2,87 0,13 15 2,0
4 Orlova Yelizaveta 1917 CAN 1 1 0 ½ 1 0 0 3,5 7 1945 2,5 1,86 0,64 15 9,6
5 Kagramanov Dalia 1866 CAN 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 3,0 7 1810 2 2,21 -0,21 15 -3,2

As you can see, WIM Yuan Yuanling is the best on the team and the workhorse - playing 10 out of 10 and no doubt will be back on Board 1 on Sunday to try and move her team up a few more notches in the final standings. Canadian Women will face Venezuela on Sunday. They started in 54th place (one below Canadian Women) and are currently in 63rd place.

By the way - Russian Women 2 play Russian Women 1 on Sunday. Yeah. Who doesn't think that Russian Women 1 will lay down to help Russian Women 2 currently in 5th place) possibly into medal contention? But perhaps I'm being overly cynical, darlings :)

I'll be back on the Olympiad Sunday to do a wrap-up.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chess Politics - Really Really Suck!

This headline says it all, from First Post:

Man abducted by aliens beats Karpov in chess vote
Controversy in Siberia as eccentric Kirsan Ilyumzhinov wins battle to head governing body of chess [The election was held in conjunction with the Chess Olympiad being held in Mansky Kamsky, Siberia, not exactly a "must see" tourist destination]

By Jonathan Harwood
The world of chess has been thrown into chaos after former Soviet world champion Anatoly Karpov failed in his bid to become head of the sport's governing body, losing out to a multi-millionaire Russian businessman and politician who claims to have been abducted by aliens.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is the reigning head of Fide, the sport's governing body, retained the role he has held since 1995 after winning a poll of national federations 95-65. But the result was greeted with chaotic scenes as delegates shouted abuse at each other at their meeting in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk.

Ilyumzhinov has been accused of refusing to let Karpov's supporters address the meeting - even turning their microphones off - and using "bully-boy" tactics in the run-up to the vote. The result has infuriated many who are concerned about the future of chess under the leadership of the eccentric Russian, who was stripped of the leadership of Kalmykia, a small, oil-rich Buddhist region near the Caspian Sea earlier this year after claiming to have met aliens.

He has also introduced several controversial tournament rule changes and Malcolm Pein, the International Master who writes on chess for the Telegraph, said this month that Ilyumzhinov "has been the ruin of chess".

Karpov had the support of the English, French, German, Swiss, and US chess federations, but their influence was unable to sway the smaller nations who backed the incumbent. However, as many as 56 countries voted by proxy at the meeting. The Guardian claims that Zambia voted on behalf of Kenya, China for Burma and the UAE for Kuwait.

CJ de Mooi, the president of the English Chess Federation told the newspaper: "It was unbelievable. This was a farce of a vote. You wouldn't believe the blatant breaking of rules and Fide's written statutes. It's amazing. There wasn't even a pretence of fairness and free speech."

Ilyumzhinov hit the headlines earlier this year after he told Russian TV how aliens wearing yellow spacesuits had appeared on his balcony in 1997, taken him aboard their ship and flown him into space.

Shortly after that admission he lost his job as leader of Kalmykia after MPs raised concerns with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that he might pass state secrets on to the aliens that he claims to have met.

Despite his controversial views about extraterrestrials he retained the support of the Kremlin in his capacity as the head of Fide and was the official Russian candidate for the role. But that may have been down to the complex workings of Russian political favouritism. Karpov was backed in the campaign by his arch-rival from the 1980s Garry Kasparov, who is an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin.

Since winning the vote, Ilyumzhinov has offered Karpov the vice-presidency of the federation, but after accusing his rival of incompetence and corruption during the campaign and questioning his sanity, it seems unlikely Karpov will accept the offer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

2010 Chess Olympiad - Women Round 8

Brief summary tonight only.  Here are the top 10 Women's Teams after R8 - USA Women are out of it, in 15th place with 3 rounds to go.  Are Russian Women 1 the real winners?  Not yet convinced, sorry ladies. Too many matches skated through by the skin of your teeth.

Rk. SNo Team Team Games + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 1 Russia 1 RUS1 8 8 0 0 16 241,0 25,0 80,00
2 17 Serbia SRB 8 6 1 1 13 185,0 23,0 71,00
3 5 Russia 2 RUS2 8 5 3 0 13 182,5 20,5 72,00
4 2 China CHN 8 6 0 2 12 204,5 22,5 80,00
5 4 Georgia GEO 8 6 0 2 12 202,5 22,5 81,00
6 3 Ukraine UKR 8 6 0 2 12 199,5 22,0 81,00
7 18 Cuba CUB 8 6 0 2 12 196,5 23,5 72,00
8 9 Hungary HUN 8 5 2 1 12 178,5 20,0 81,00
9 8 India IND 8 6 0 2 12 173,5 21,0 75,00
10 12 Bulgaria BUL 8 5 2 1 12 171,0 18,5 79,00

Under the Road Again...

Archaeological sites discovered during road work:

Amazon Road Workers Find Ancient Earth Carvings
by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil on 09.28.10

Road workers in Brazil were preparing to pave a highway through the Amazon rainforest recently, when they made an important archeological discovery -- a series of enormous earth carvings, barely perceptible from the ground. Known as geoglyphs by researchers, these complex geometric designs are thought to have been crafted by ancient civilizations centuries earlier, though their purpose, to this day, remains a mystery.

From BBC News
27 September 2010 Last updated at 08:58 ET
Work unearths previously unknown Roman road in Kent
A previously unknown Roman road and evidence of a medieval manor house have been uncovered during excavations in Kent.

2010 U.S. Class Championships - Still Time to Register to Play!

Cajun Chess Presents:

2010 U.S. Class Championships
Oct 1-3, 2010 - Houston, TX
5SS, G/120

(2-day or 3-day Schedule Available)
$10,750 based on 200 full-paid entries!
70% Guaranteed !!

The 2010 U.S. Class Chess Championships will be held at the Hilton Houston Hobby Airport Hotel during the weekend of October 1-3. So far, the Masters Division includes: GM Timur Gareyev, GM Axel Bachmann, GM Maurizio Flores, GM Ioan Chirila, IM Marko Zivanic, IM Puchen Wang, IM Salvijus Bercys, IM Julio Sadorra, and IM Max Cornejo. Of course, this event is open to all, including previously Unrated players. Just a few days remain before the cut-off of the early entry fee, so SIGN UP TODAY!

National Championship Title awarded to each Class Winner !!!

Hilton Hobby Airport Hotel
8181 Airport Blvd.
Houston, TX 77061

Hotel Rate: $89
(Use Group Code USCC)

Hotel Phone:


8 Sections:
(Rated players may play up one class only;
October 2010 Rating Supplement will be used)

Master (2200/up), FIDE Rated $1,200+Plaque-550-300 (U2400: $400-200-100)
Expert (2000-2199) $800+Plaque-400-200
Class A (1800-1999) $800+Plaque-400-200
Class B (1600-1799) $800+Plaque-400-200
Class C (1400-1599) $800+Plaque-400-200
Class D (1200-1399) $800+Plaque-400-200
Class E (U1200) $300+Plaque-200-100
Unrated $300+Plaque-100

Tiebreaks: MSCO

Entry Fees:
Regular Entry Fee - $85

Special Entry Fee (each one counts as 2/3 of a paid entry) - $55 by 9/24 for all Class E, Unrated Section, and Juniors (U18) in Class C or D.

Free entry for GMs.
Free entry for IMs - EF deducted from winnings.


Info and On-line Registration at:

On-Site Registration:

Friday (Oct. 1), 5-7 p.m.
Saturday (Oct. 2 - for 2 day schedule), 8-9 a.m.


3-Day Schedule: Fri 8pm;
Sat 1pm & 6:30pm;
Sun 9:30am & 2:30pm.

2-Day Schedule: Sat 10am (G/60), 1pm & 6:30pm
Sun 9:30am & 2:30pm.

Note: Both schedules merge at Round 2.

Byes available for all rounds - must commit
before the end of Round 2.

Questions: Contact Franc Guadalupe
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1,000-year-old tomb found at Anhui construction site

There is something about this story that is not quite right - perhaps it is the photograph. Why is the dude inside the tomb with a pick-ax when partial walls have already been uncovered? If this is a staged re-enactment of discovery of the tomb for the photographer, they didn't do a very good job. Hmmm... I can't help but wonder how much time elapsed between the actual uncovering of this tomb by the construction workers and when the phone call "to the authorities" was finally made. For the tomb of a family of some wealth (else they could not have built such a tomb), there seems a lack of artifacts, particularly intact artifacts. I'm suspicious. I wonder how many artifacts have already been smuggled out of the country and are now up for clandestine bidding by uber-rich private collectors. Or perhaps some of the artifacts are at this moment resting in climate-controlled locked cabinets owned by high-ranking "People's Republic" officials.

From People's Daily in English:

11:00, September 28, 2010
Photo by Xu Jixiang, People's Daily Online
Six cultural relics, including a pottery jar and pot as well as damaged pottery spindle whorl and an iron sword, were recently unearthed out of a 1,000-year-old tomb from the Southern Dynasties period found at a construction site on Huangguan Road in a chemical industry park in Anqing, Anhui Province.

The relics were handed over to the Anqing Museum on Sept. 25.

The Anqing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage received a call on Sept. 15 saying that an ancient tomb was discovered at a construction site in the Anqing Chemical Industry Park and archeologists were expected to investigate.

The administration immediately dispatched a group of archeologists to the tomb who later identified that it was indeed an ancient tomb. Therefore, the administration immediately put the tomb under protection and submitted an application to the Anhui Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology for more experts to jointly carry out archaeological excavations. The institute soon approved the application and sent out their experts.

With careful preparations, Anqing Cultural Relics Bureau decided to start excavations on Sept. 18. After experts made on-site investigations, the general framework of the tomb with three coffins was formulated. The masonry tomb is in the shape of the Chinese character tu (凸) and the coffins are arranged side by side.

The tomb is not large but given the structure of the tomb and other factors, experts believe that the tomb is quite likely to be a family tomb and the owner was wealthy. Further excavations have shown that the bodies in the coffins are already decayed and there are a few funeral objects within the tomb. As the tomb has no epitaphs or tombstone, the identity of the tomb owner cannot be revealed.

Through five days of continual work, archaeologists unearthed six items, including a pot with a dish-shaped mouth and two handles as well as some pottery jars. Half of the items are intact and the other half are not. The pot with a dish-shaped mouth and two handles is mainly intact and is believed to meet the standards of at least a third-grade national cultural relic.

According to cultural relic experts in Anhui Province, the tomb has existed for more than 1,000 years since the Southern Dynasties and is one of the earliest tombs found in the province. The excavation of the tomb will provide research into Anqing's funeral customs in the Southern Dynasties period as well as its historical and cultural development with more material evidence.

By People's Daily Online

Spectacular Find in Crete: Unlooted 7th Century BCE Tomb

From The Canadian Press as reported at Google:

Archaeologists on Crete find skeleton covered with gold foil in 2,700-year-old grave
By Nicholas Paphitis (CP) – 8 hours ago

ATHENS, Greece — Greek archaeologists have found an ancient skeleton covered with gold foil in a grave on the island of Crete, officials said Tuesday.

Excavator Nicholas Stampolidis said his team discovered more than 3,000 pieces of gold foil in the 7th-century B.C. twin grave near the ancient town of Eleutherna.

Cemeteries there have produced a wealth of outstanding artifacts in recent years.

The tiny gold ornaments, from 1 to 4 centimetres (0.4 to 1.5 inches) long, had been sewn onto a lavish robe or shroud that initially wrapped the body of a woman and has almost completely rotted away but for a few off-white threads.

"The whole length of the (grave) was covered with small pieces of gold foil — square, circular and lozenge-shaped," Stampolidis told The Associated Press. "We were literally digging up gold interspersed with earth, not earth with some gold in it."

The woman, who presumably had a high social or religious status, was buried with a second skeleton in a large jar sealed with a stone slab weighing more than half a ton. It was hidden behind a false wall, to confuse grave robbers.

Experts are trying to determine the other skeleton's sex.

The grave also contained a copper bowl; pottery; perfume bottles imported from Egypt or Syria and Palestine; hundreds of amber, rock crystal and faience beads; as well as a gold pendant in the form of a bee goddess that probably was part of a rock crystal and gold necklace.

"If you look at it one way up, it's shaped like a lily," said Stampolidis, a professor of archaeology at the University of Crete who has worked at Eleutherna for the 25 years. "Turned upside down, you see a female figure holding her breasts, whose lower body is shaped as a bee with wings. The workmanship is exquisite."

The ruins of Eleutherna stand on the northern foothills of Mount Ida — the mythical birthplace of Zeus, chief of the ancient Greek gods. Past excavations have discovered a citadel, homes and an important cemetery with lavish female burials.

The town flourished from the 9th century B.C. — the dark ages of Greek archaeology that followed the fall of Crete's great Minoan palatial culture — and endured until the Middle Ages.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

2010 Chess Olympiad - Women Round 7

It's been a long rough day so this is going to be short.

Anna Zatonskih was the difference on USA Women's team today by coming through with a victory - good for Anna.  She has, I hope, shaken off whatever was ailing her the first games in the Olympiad, and has won two in a row.

Round 7 on 2010/09/28 at 15:00
Bo. 6 United States of America (USA) Rtg - 7 Armenia (ARM) Rtg 2½:1½

5.1 IM Krush Irina 2490 - IM Danielian Elina 2466 ½ - ½
5.2 IM Zatonskih Anna 2480 - IM Mkrtchian Lilit 2484 1 - 0
5.3 WFM Abrahamyan Tatev 2352 - IM Galojan Lilit 2373 ½ - ½
5.4 WGM Baginskaite Kamile 2328 - WGM Aginian Nelly 2282 ½ - ½

Here are the top 10 Women's Teams after R7:

Rk. SNo Team Team Games + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 1 Russia 1 RUS1 7 7 0 0 14 176,5 21,5 60,00
2 4 Georgia GEO 7 6 0 1 12 157,5 21,0 59,00
3 8 India IND 7 6 0 1 12 148,0 20,5 53,00
4 17 Serbia SRB 7 5 1 1 11 147,5 20,5 55,00
5 9 Hungary HUN 7 5 1 1 11 143,5 18,0 61,00
6 6 United States of America USA 7 5 1 1 11 134,0 19,0 56,00 7 5 Russia 2 RUS2 7 4 3 0 11 131,5 17,5 54,00
8 12 Bulgaria BUL 7 5 1 1 11 131,0 16,5 59,00
9 2 China CHN 7 5 0 2 10 155,5 19,0 64,00
10 3 Ukraine UKR 7 5 0 2 10 152,5 19,0 64,00

Top match-ups tomorrow:

No. SNo Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team SNo
1 8 IND India 20½ 12 : 14 21½ Russia 1 RUS1 1
2 17 SRB Serbia 20½ 11 : 12 21 Georgia GEO 4
3 5 RUS2 Russia 2 17½ 11 : 11 19 United States of America USA 6
4 9 HUN Hungary 18 11 : 11 16½ Bulgaria BUL 12
5 36 RUS3 Russia 3 19 10 : 10 20 Cuba CUB 18

How did Canadian Women do? They split the match points:

Round 7 on 2010/09/28 at 15:00
Bo. 58 Canada (CAN) Rtg - 64 Singapore (SIN) Rtg 2 : 2

32.1 WIM Yuan Yuanling 2189 - WFM Tay Li Jin Jeslin 2119 1 - 0
32.2 Lacau-Rodean Iulia 2024 - WFM Liu Yang 2083 0 - 1
32.3 Orlova Yelizaveta 1917 - Neo Xiuwen Christabel 1846 1 - 0
32.4 Kagramanov Dalia 1866 - Lo Yin Ling Melissa 1814 0 - 1

Canadian Women moved up one spot, to 53rd.

There are four more games to go. Can the American Women advance further? They're back where they started - in 6th place. People are already crowning Russian Women 1 the Gold Medalists, and perhaps they are right. But, as the saying goes, it ain't over until the fat lady sings :)

The women playing on Open teams:

GM Judit Polgar, Hungary, Board 3: Bounced back from her loss yesterday, with a win against GM Alexandr Fier of Brazil. Judit's score is 5.0/7 with a current performance rating of 2782. Very nice :)

GM Viktorija Cmilyte, Lithuania, Board 3: She did her part by holding a draw against a higher rated player - "The Hammer" - GM Jon Ludvig Hammer 2633 of Norway - GM Cmilyte Viktorija 2513 ½ - ½. However, very few players can overcome GM Magnus Carlsen on Board 1 and neither could Lithuania's first board.  Lithuania lost to Norway by 2.5/1.5. Cmilyte's score, 3.0/6; her current performance rating is below her ELO (not good).

GM Zhu Chen, Qatar, Board 3: Zhu Chen drew her game
31.2 GM Zhu Chen 2480 - Erdene Ganzorig 2330 ½ - ½
Zhu Chen's score is 4.0/7 and her performance rating is below her ELO (not good).

GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, Scotland, Board 2:
29.2 GM Arakhamia-Grant Ketevan 2451 - GM Drasko Milan 2486 ½ - ½
Ketevan was the only draw, her teammates all lost their games to Montenegro. Keti's score is 4.0/6 and is the best performance on her team, but her performance rating is below her ELO.

WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni, Luxembourg, Board 5:
WIM Steil-Antoni Fiona 2152 - Shiomi Ryo 2105 1 - 0
Luxembourg took the match against Japan 3.5/0.5
Fiona has not lost a game and has a score of 4.5/6. Her performance rating is a little above her ELO, which is good.

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 Scotiabank Nuite Blanche

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche
2010 Event
October 2, 2010
6:57 p.m. to sunrise!!!

Toronto's annual sunset to sunrise celebration of contemporary art returns to mark a five-year milestone.

I received an email about this event with the following information:

Reunion 2010 is part of the annual all-night long arts festival, Nuit Blanche starting at 6:57pm on Oct. 4 (

The event revisits the chess games between composer John Cage and famous artist Marcel Duchamp and his wife Teeny Duchamp held at Ryerson in 1968.
In order to explore the artistic lineage of both Cage and Duchamp, several artists who have knowledge of these two figures have been asked to either perform as chess players or to present related works.

As in the original performance, it is a musical event that relies on chance, "purposeless play". The basic configuration is an electronic chess board on stage and each square has a light sensor on it. The moves of the
players will trigger a number of live electronic performances by several electronic musicians and artists. The chess position will be shot by an overhead camera and projected onto a large screen.

Beyond the artists who will be playing the board, there will be a game between IM Lawrence Day, Toronto Star and CFC columnist, and IM Allan Savage, chess journalist and Duchamp scholar, and between two-time American Women's Chess Champion, WGM Jennifer Shahade (she has written game analyses for Duchamp's matches) and GM Pascal Charbonneau (2002 and 2004 Canadian Champion).

Between 2:30 and 5 am audience members will be invited up to make a move on stage, assisted by chessplayers from the Chess Institute of Canada.

This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to use this board and to contribute to a musical event by making a chess move. Depending on the number of interested players, there may be speed games. You may get a
chance to play one of the masters.

2010 Chess Olympiad - Women Round 6

USA - Tatev Abrahamyan, R6
Sigh, the USA fell to the Georgian Women's today and it wasn't pretty.  I'm sick at heart and I really do NOT want to report tonight but for the sake of our millions of fans out there (ahem), I will carry on as best I can, sighing mightily every few seconds or so...

Round 6 on 2010/09/27 at 15:00
Bo. 4 Georgia (GEO) Rtg - 6 United States of America (USA) Rtg 2½:1½

2.1 GM Dzagnidze Nana 2534 - IM Krush Irina 2490 1 - 0
2.2 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2451 - IM Zatonskih Anna 2480 0 - 1
2.3 IM Melia Salome 2439 - WFM Abrahamyan Tatev 2352 1 - 0
2.4 IM Khotenashvili Bela 2464 - WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca 2293 ½ - ½

As a result of its match loss today, USA Women fall from 3rd place to 8th, and Georgia moves into 3rd. That really sucks. One good thing - Anna Zatonskih won her game today!

Not a good result for Canada, either:

Round 6 on 2010/09/27 at 15:00
Bo. 34 Belarus (BLR) Rtg - 58 Canada (CAN) Rtg 3½: ½

17.1 WGM Sharevich Anna 2283 - WIM Yuan Yuanling 2189 1 - 0
17.2 WIM Ziaziulkina Nastassia 2284 - WIM Kagramanov Dina 2086 1 - 0
17.3 WFM Homiakova Elena 2156 - Lacau-Rodean Iulia 2024 1 - 0
17.4 FM Stetsko Lanita 2148 - Orlova Yelizaveta 1917 ½ - ½

Canada falls from 29th to 54th place, drastic!
Here are the top 10 Women's Teams after R6:

Rk. SNo Team Team Games + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 1 Russia 1 RUS1 6 6 0 0 12 123,0 17,5 43,00
2 9 Hungary HUN 6 5 1 0 11 120,5 18,0 42,00
3 4 Georgia GEO 6 5 0 1 10 121,0 18,5 44,00
4 3 Ukraine UKR 6 5 0 1 10 120,5 17,5 46,00
5 2 China CHN 6 5 0 1 10 117,0 17,5 43,00
6 8 India IND 6 5 0 1 10 113,5 18,0 39,00
7 14 Romania ROU 6 4 1 1 9 104,5 17,0 42,00
8 6 United States of America USA 6 4 1 1 9 104,5 16,5 43,00
9 7 Armenia ARM 6 4 1 1 9 99,5 17,0 38,00
10 17 Serbia SRB 6 4 1 1 9 96,0 17,0 39,00

GM Judit Polgar, Hungary, Board 3:

Round 6 on 2010/09/27 at 15:00
Bo. 2 Ukraine (UKR) Rtg - 5 Hungary (HUN) Rtg 3 : 1

2.1 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2754 - GM Leko Peter 2724 1 - 0
2.2 GM Ponomariov Ruslan 2749 - GM Almasi Zoltan 2707 ½ - ½
2.3 GM Eljanov Pavel 2761 - GM Polgar Judit 2682 1 - 0
2.4 GM Efimenko Zahar 2683 - GM Berkes Ferenc 2678 ½ - ½

GM Viktorija Cmilyte, Lithuania, Board 3:

Round 6 on 2010/09/27 at 15:00
Bo. 69 Turkmenistan (TKM) Rtg - 39 Lithuania (LTU) Rtg 2½:1½

19.1 GM Amanov Mesgen 2493 - GM Rozentalis Eduardas 2611 1 - 0
19.2 IM Annaberdiev Meylis 2465 - GM Sulskis Sarunas 2544 0 - 1
19.3 FM Atabayev Maksat 2318 - GM Cmilyte Viktorija 2513 1 - 0
19.4 GM Odeev Handszar 2397 - GM Malisauskas Vidmantas 2510 ½ - ½

Not a good match for Lithuania today.

GM Zhu Chen, Qatar, Board 3:

Round 6 on 2010/09/27 at 15:00
Bo. 55 Qatar (QAT) Rtg - 95 Monaco (MNC) Rtg 3½: ½

39.1 GM Al-Sayed Mohammed 2495 - GM Efimov Igor 2433 1 - 0
39.2 GM Zhu Chen 2480 - Nelis Jean-Francois 2238 1 - 0
39.3 IM Nezad Husein Aziz 2394 - Gentilleau Jean-Philippe 2182 1 - 0
39.4 Al-Tamimi Hamad 2250 - Ribbegren Karl Johan 2153 ½ - ½

GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant, Scotland, Board 2: did not play today.

WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni, Luxembourg, Board 5:

Round 6 on 2010/09/27 at 15:00
Bo. 115 Korea (KOR) Rtg - 90 Luxembourg (LUX) Rtg 1½:2½

54.1 CM Lee Sanghoon 2146 - IM Wiedenkeller Michael 2431 0 - 1
54.2 Lee Kiyul 1971 - Linster Philippe 2264 0 - 1
54.3 Chogdov Munkhbat 2236 - Jeitz Christian 2235 1 - 0
54.4 Jung Young Hoon 1923 - WIM Steil-Antoni Fiona 2152 ½ - ½

Top pairings for R7 tomorrow:

No. SNo Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team SNo
1 1 RUS1 Russia 1 17½ 12 : 11 18 Hungary HUN 9
2 2 CHN China 17½ 10 : 10 18½ Georgia GEO 4
3 3 UKR Ukraine 17½ 10 : 10 18 India IND 8
4 5 RUS2 Russia 2 15 9 : 9 17 Romania ROU 14
5 6 USA United States of America 16½ 9 : 9 17 Armenia ARM 7
6 17 SRB Serbia 17 9 : 9 14½ Switzerland SUI 46

Learning Chess Assists At-Risk Students

From The Wall Street Journal:

Monday, September 27, 2010
Chess, as a Survival Skill
School Uses Chess to Teach Self-Control, Critical Thinking to Troubled Students

ST. LOUIS—At a school for troubled kids on this city's tough North Side, life's lessons are learned on a chessboard. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon for The Wall Street Journal.  Brandi, right, playing chess Thursday at a St. Louis school for students with behavioral problems that requires them to take classes in the game.)

In Room 103, Marqwon, 16 years old, kicked out of his regular school for bringing in a nail-studded piece of wood, tapped his forefinger in the air as he mapped out his next six moves.

Across the board, 15-year-old Joann, sent here after throwing a punch at a classmate, was losing the match and wasn't happy about it.

"You're just embarrassing me," she said, toppling her king with a smack. "You know it's over."

Her action coaxed chess instructor Bill Thompson to the table. "Let's not give up," he said. "Let's think of a way to get out of this."

Chess has been a part of after-school programs for at least 40 years, but mainly in the suburbs. In the last decade, it has exploded in popularity in urban areas as research showed that students who play chess do better on achievement exams, especially math.

But few schools offer chess as an academic subject—and fewer still require it, especially for students already labeled as troublemakers, like the ones here.

Innovative Concept Academy was opened last year by a St. Louis Juvenile Court Judge Jimmie Edwards. Tired of watching teenagers get kicked out of school, land in his courtroom and then drop out, Mr. Edwards created his own school to nurture students back to academic, emotional and mental health. The city's school district pays for the building and teachers, while money from not-for-profit groups provides the rest of the funding.

The Academy, housed in a three-story former middle school, caters to sixth through 12th graders who have either been suspended or expelled for fighting, bringing weapons to class, getting caught with drugs or other illegal or disruptive behavior.

The top floor of the three-story school is occupied by teenagers who have been criminally charged and gone through the juvenile court system.

Students attend class from 9 a.m. until 5:45 p.m. and have access to counselors, psychologists and mentors. Aside from the academics, the school offers courses in ballroom dance, creative writing and golf.

The twice weekly chess classes are mandatory for most of the school's 97 students and are an integral part of Mr. Edwards's strategy to curb bad behavior and teach alternatives to violence. He knows that chess won't solve all the behavior problems, but says it offers lessons about self-control and critical thinking.

"Most of my kids are impulsive, reactionary and they lash out without thinking through the consequences," said Mr. Edwards, who walks the school's halls almost daily. "Chess teaches them patience and teaches them that there are consequences to bad decisions."

"In chess, you can lose your queen," he added. "In life, you can lose your life."

The chess program at the Academy is paid for by the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis, which opened in 2008 and already has 700 members.

The club wants to make St. Louis the chess capital of the U.S. and has hosted the national chess, national women's chess and junior chess championships.

About a million students play chess in local clubs and after-school programs, officials of the United States Chess Federation estimate. Chuck Lovingood, who oversees scholastic chess programs for the non-profit group, said chess teaches students problem-solving, focus and how to build—then execute–a plan.

"Chess is not a game of instant gratification, and that is an important life skill for all children to learn," he said.

In one 90-minute chess class earlier this week, many life lessons were on display.

When the instructor suggested Joann find a way out of her predicament—Marqwon had her Queen trapped in one corner of the board—she plotted a strategy to escape, then knock off his knight.

Joann, who had never played chess until this school year, eventually lost. But she captured seven of Marqwon's pieces and made him chase her around the board.

Chess, said Joann, "messes with your brain and makes you think about something before you do it. And it makes you think there's a way out of something if you think about it hard enough."

Jesus, an 18-year-old junior, learned the hard way that impulsiveness is a bad trait in chess. When an opponent tried to capture Jesus' pawn with a knight, Jesus reached for his rook, hoping to take the opponent's knight.

But the boy had not yet lifted his hand to complete his initial move and he quickly pulled back his knight.

"Bro, you're cheating," Jesus screamed out.

But the opponent pointed out that, until he lifted his hand off the piece, the move was not complete. Jesus leaned back in his chair, covered his face with his hands and groaned. "You're right," he said.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Break An Ankle for Charity Run

Er, whose idea was this?  Bad, bad, bad!  A 150 yard DASH in minimum 3 inch high-heels?  Yeah, way to go, "Heart Truth Campaign."  Hope you had liability insurance in place...

Kristin Chenoweth, Kelly Ripa, and AnnaLynne McCord took part in the "Live With Regis and Kelly" High Heel-a-thon in New York's Central Park on Wednesday. Participants in the 150-yard dash had to wear at least 3-inch heels, which, for Ripa, was "like wearing flats because I usually wear 6-inch heels," she cracked. Proceeds from the event went to the Heart Truth campaign, which raises awareness about heart disease and women's health.

7,000 Year Old Village Uncovered in Bulgaria

We (me included) have got to get it out of our heads that the cradle of civilization was in the Middle East - it wasn't!  This is one more example of ruins uncovered of an extensive series of settlements in southern Europe to the west of (and around) the Black Sea coast -- "Old Europe."

Bulgarian Archaeologists Unearth 7000-Year-Old Village
Archaeology | September 25, 2010, Saturday

A prehistoric home dated back 7000 years has been uncovered by a team of Bulgarian archaeologists at Telish in the central northern District of Pleven.

The team led by archaeologist Ventsislav Gergov is convinced that the home found in a place known as "Laga" is part of a village with at least 30 houses.

"Our ancient predecessor constructed amazingly robust homes, much more robust than many of the contemporary apartment buildings," Gergov believes.

"The walls of the homes were made of stamped clay mixed with cow manure and straw, and were additionally supported with wooden poles. This is how the home becomes monolithic and acquires amazing heating isolation," [insulation?] he explained.

Gergov has found parts of over 40 highly-ornate ceramic vessels inside the home as well as two clay ovens built one over the other.

The excavations of the site will continue for one more week because of lack of funding. All finds will be turned in to the Pleven Regional History Museum.

This is not Gergov's first prehistoric discovery at Telish; a place which has turned out to harbor some of the oldest remains of civilized settlements in the world.

The archaeologist is also the author of a local project exhibiting two reconstructed rammed earth homes modeled after the findings in the prehistoric excavations as part of an open air museum.

A Dog (and Her Boy) Uncover 2,000 Year Old Roman Pot in England

The heroine of this story is actually the doggy, Meg, who starting digging and uncovered the pot but, alas, no photo of Meg, the springer spaniel, in the article and nor is she credited with the discovery!  Bad, bad newspaper!

From the
Seaton boy finds priceless Roman pot in Maryport
Last updated at 23:12, Thursday, 23 September 2010

TEN-year-old Nathan Poland stumbled upon something special when his dog dug up a 2,000-year-old pot as they walked around Maryport.

Nathan Poland and the 2,000 year
old pot his doggy, Meg, uncovered.
Nathan and dad Lee, of Hunter’s Drive, Seaton, often walk their Springer Spaniel Meg in the town, and when she began doing what she loves best by digging a hole, Nathan spotted what looked like an orange brick.

“When I pulled it out it was a pot with decorations all around it and I knew straight away it was Roman,” said Nathan, who has found several other pieces of pottery and Roman nails in the past.

Jane Laskey, curator at Maryport’s Senhouse Roman Museum, said the pot was a piece of Samianware from the late second century or early third.

It was a “remarkable find” because, although the Romans brought a lot of Samianware to Britain, this piece was in very good condition and had a lot of decoration.

“There are images of hunting scenes,” she said.  “There’s a deer, lions, hunting dogs. It is not as gaudy as some of this pottery can be.  It looks as though the artist has really thought it out.”

She said it had been recycled as a cremation bowl, and tests were being carried out on its contents to see if bones found within it are human, animal or a mixture of both.

Mrs Laskey said: “We will be able to tell if there was one or more people in the pot. If there are animals’ bones it could give us an insight of what might have been eaten at the funeral feast.”

The pot also contained nails which may have been hob nails from shoes, nails left in scrap wood used for the funeral pyre or even nails from a stretcher on which a dead person or people lay.

“I do not know the commercial value of this pot but it is priceless because it can tell us so much,” said Mrs Laskey.

Nathan, who is now the owner of the pot, has given it to the museum to keep for him and it is on display there.  Details of where and when it was found are being kept secret to preserve any other artifacts at the site.  The museum did not make the find public until it had been checked by experts.

First published at 19:34, Thursday, 23 September 2010
Published by

Pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut gets nearly as much press as Cleopatra VII!  Glad to see it. This extraordinary female ruler of ancient Egypt, whom history bad-mouthed for so long, deserves her place in the eternal spotlight. 

From Al-Ahram Weekly Online
23 - 29 September 2010
Issue No. 1016

Queen Hatshepsut King of Upper and Lower Egypt
Framed by steep cliffs and poised in elegant relief is the mortuary temple of Deir Al-Bahri, known in ancient times as the "Most Holy of Holies". We now know more than ever before about the plans and ideas of the remarkable woman who built it, says Jill Kamil

Hatshepsut, with royal beard.
I believe this is from the Brooklyn Museum.
 Hatshepsut, as the offspring of the Great Royal Wife Ahmose, was the only lawful heir to the throne of Tuthmosis I [after her two brothers by this wife died]. Custom, however, prevented her as a member of the female sex from succeeding as Pharaoh. So she took the only step open to her: she married her half-brother Tuthmosis II.

"She came to the throne at a crucial time in Egyptian history," said Zbigniew Szafranski, director of the Polish Institute in Cairo at an illustrated talk at the institute last month. "The 18th-Dynasty (1567-1320 BC) emerged from a long-awaited liberation from Hyksos rule; Nubia had become the core of an independent African kingdom; and innovative ideas came from Persia, Palestine, northern Mesopotamia and the Minoan kingdom."

For several years Hatshepsut acted as a typical co- regent, allowing the young Tuthmosis to take precedence in all activities, already there were signs that Hatshepsut was not afraid of flouting tradition. She adopted a new title, "Mistress of the Two Lands", in clear reference to a king's time-honoured title "Lord of the Two Lands"; she commissioned a pair of obelisks to stand in front of the gateway to the Karnak temple complex; and, by the time her obelisks were cut and transported from the quarries at Aswan, she had become a king. She assumed the throne name Makere, "one of many", and she was depicted in relief and statues wearing a royal skirt and ceremonial beard.

The Polish - Egyptian mission has been excavating and restoring the temple of Deir Al-Bahri for 30 years and has recently come upon remarkable evidence on which to hypothesise more about Hatshepsut's life and times. Back in 1969, the team unearthed a small temple built by Tuthmosis III to the south-east of the upper terrace of Hatshepsut's stepped structure, and a year later they found another terrace. Scattered around were hundreds of blocks and fragments of statues from the temple of Hatshepsut, along with plaster casts of blocks from the temple that were taken to the Metropolitan Museum between the years 1911-1931. This enabled enthusiasts to set about reconstructing 26 colossal Osirid statues, many bearing traces of the bright colours with which they were originally painted.

Also discovered -- or should one say excavated from beneath the rubble -- was a temple that Hatshepsut herself appears to have built to the south of the upper terrace. It includes what Szafranski called "a family chapel" dedicated to her parents, their mothers and their grandmothers. "Reading between the lines, this complex subtly reveals a cult of parents," he added.

It was in the seventh year of her reign that Hatshepsut decided to present herself as "King of Upper and Lower Egypt". Indication of this appears in her image, carved in relief, honouring Amun at the entrance to the main sanctuary on the upper terrace, which was first painted pink (the usual skin tone of women), and then over-painted in red, denoting that the god was being honoured by his son. "Her images are beautifully sculpted, even those carved on such high registers on the wall that they could not possibly be seen from the ground. "Evidently she employed the most talented artists in her workshop," Szafranski said.

Indeed, it was her most talented architect, Senmut, who designed the terraced temple for Hatshepsut. "[It] was dramatically different from New Kingdom temples because it was meant to function as a memorial monument, sharing such components as gates, pillars, columns, Osirid statues and sphinxes," Szafranski said. In fact, when approaching the temple from the east one becomes aware that, far from belittling the temple, the stark purity of the cliffs to its rear -- water-worn for thousands of years by hot winds and flash floods forming deep cracks and crevices -- forms a dramatic backcloth.

The structure appears to have been inspired by the adjacent 11th-Dynasty temple built by Hatshepsut's distant predecessor Pharaoh Mentuhotep II (whose temple has also been restored), but it was carried out on a very much larger scale. Senmut adopted the idea of the terrace and added an extra tier, so that the whole temple comprised courts, one above the other, with connecting, inclined planes at the centre. The Polish mission has recently been hard at work on the upper terrace, a festival courtyard and two chambers which were added later -- one in honour of Hathor and devoted to the cult of the queen and her parents, and the other devoted to Anubis. These will soon be open to the public.

"Examining the innovative architecture, especially the large statue of Hatshepsut herself in the form of Osiris in what is known as the Coronation Portico, and also the reliefs on each side of a doorway showing her wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt (to the left), and the Double Crown (to the right), one gets the impression that Hatshepsut herself influenced the project, and may indeed have personally designed her chapel towards the end of her reign," Szafranski said.

The sanctuary of Hatshepsut has a vaulted ceiling and some of the wall paintings bear a marked resemblance to those to be found in Old Kingdom tombs at Saqqara. Here are such scenes as Hatshepsut in front of an offering table, and registers of offering bearers. One cannot help but feel, along with Szafranski, that a little of Hatshepsut's whim and fancy went into the elaboration of this most magnificent of mortuary temples.

Hatshepsut had two tombs. The first she had dug in the Valley of the Kings, where all members of the royal family were laid to rest in the 18th Dynasty. The second was in Taket Zeid Valley, to the south of Deir Al-Bahri overlooking the royal valley. Hatshepsut's mummy was found in neither. It has been suggested that her body may be one of the couple of "unknown woman" found in the shaft at Deir Al-Bahri, but this is by no means certain.

Deir Al-Bahri is best viewed early in the morning when the sun is low in the sky and the air is cool. Later in the day it tends to be very hot and the reliefs are all but invisible. You'll want to see details of the famous colonnades of the voyage to Punt and the Birth Colonnade in their best light. The former commemorates an expedition ordered by Hatshepsut to the East African/Somali coast to bring back myrrh and frankincense trees to be planted on the terraces of her temple, where, at the centre of a long wall, is a scene of the queen (defaced) offering the fruits of her expedition to Amun: frankincense trees, wild game, cattle, electrum and bows. The Birth Colonnade includes a scene of the ram-headed Khnum shaping Hatshepsut and her ka on a potter's wheel. Among the particularly fine representations is one of the queen mother, Ahmose, full with child and radiating joy as she stands dignified in her pregnancy, being led to the birth room.

© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved
Check out archaeologist Judith Weingarten's fab blog Zenobia: Empress of the East

With her training and field work experience, Judith brings a learned but never stuffy/pedantic point of view to archaeology, with an emphasis on the females that history so often has left behind, buried under eons of dust and muck. She has posted about Hatshepsut, Pharaoh/Queen of Egypt, many times. Here is one of her posts regarding Hatshepsut.

New Sumerian Temple Discovered in Southern Iraq

From Azzaman in English:

French scientists discover new Sumerian temple in southern Iraq
By Khayoun Saleh
Azzaman, September 24, 2010

The Antiquities Department says French archaeologists have recently unearthed a new Sumerian temple in the southern Province of Dhiqar.

The department’s information officer, Abdulzahra al-Talaqani, said a team of French excavators did a short season of digging at al-Rafaai, the district where the Sumerian temple was found.

The French were expected to resume digging to provide a good picture of the new discovery, he said.

Details are sketchy but Talaqani said the department would provide by December “the engineering details that will elucidate (the temple’s) archaeological significance and its contents.”

Excavations normally start in Iraq in autumn when temperatures start dropping. Excavation teams normally suspend digging in the summer, due to scorching heat.

Dhiqar, of which the city of Nasiriyah is the provincial capital, is Iraq’s richest in archaeology. It is the birthplace of the Sumerian civilization, the first to invent writing and civilized government some 5,000 years ago.

Sumerian ruins such as Eridu, Ur and Lagash top Iraq’s archaeological attractions.

Despite decades of excavations, only a fraction of the province’s ancient marvels has come to light.

There are more than 1,000 archaeologically significant sites awaiting excavation.

The province’s massive richness in archaeology is said to have turned it into a haven for smugglers and illegal diggers – there are only 100 guards for the 1,000 sites.

Hales Corners Challenge XII!

It's getting to be that time of year again - the Hales Corners Chess Challenge will be here in mid-October to welcome Wisconsin Autumn.

Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day
Game in One Hour (60 minutes per player)

$35 – Open; $25 – Reserve
8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: 10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm
The playing venue is the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel—6401 S. 13th Street—414-764-5300, I94 to College Avenue East exit, College to 13th (one block), turn right on 13th to hotel (two blocks on right). 
The Challenge is worth 10 Grand Prix Points.

For Challenge VII Goddesschess is trying out a new prize structure.  Our goal is to encourage more girls and women to come out and play in this one day, four-round tournament and for the ladies who regularly participate in the HCCC, to aim for the higher prizes.

if you draw - you win $; if you win - you win more $.  If you draw or win against a player rated 100 or more points than you, you win yet more $; if you draw or win against a player rated 150 or more points than you, you win even more $$.  Prizes in the Reserve Section are one-half the prizes for chess femmes in the Open:

W 150 ELO or higher = $30
D ditto = $15

W 100 ELO or higher = $20
D ditto = $10

W = $10
D = $5

Goddesschess prizes are in addition to any other prize a female player may win.  The top female finisher in the Open and Reserve sections will have her entry fee for Challenge XIII paid for by Goddesschess, should she choose to play

Come on out and go for it, ladies.  Anything can - and does - happen in chess.  The Mighty Magnus Carlsen lost his R4 Olympiad game to a player rated more than 100 points lower.  Just saying...

2010 Chess Olympiad - This and That

Hola!  Darlings, I lied to you - TWICE! 

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  I thought this Olympiad goes only 9 rounds, but actually I learned by visiting Susan Polgar's chess blog earlier today that it goes 11 rounds.  I also had previously reported that Mansky Kamsky did NOT have an airport - but it does!  However, the airport is too small or something - maybe not enough guards to keep out hoards of invaders from third world countries? - anyway, not big enough to land jumbo jets or whatever.  I don't know - anyway, it's too fricking small to do what it should have been able to do in order to get all of the people to Mansky Kamsky with a minimum of fuss and bother, so it ranks with Podunk City as far as necessary amenities, plus it's in Siberia, darlings.  Geez!

I thought it would be nice to bring you some more photographs of some of the lovely chess femmes at the Olympiad.  A look at some of these women will convince you that chess is not a "game for geeks" :) All photos are from the official website, unless otherwise stated.

GM Susan Polgar (left) and GM Judit Polgar (right).  Photo (c)2010 Albran.
 I saw this photo yesterday at The Week in Chess as I was reviewing news coverage after R5.  I don't know who the fellow is but whatever he said must have been very funny.  Susan Polgar is, of course, the founder and one of the authors of the popular chess blog Chess Daily News and Information.  Her chess career is extensive - she's been there and done just about all of it, including being Women's World Chess Champion 1996-1999 representing Hungary at the time. She was the first female to earn a GM title the traditional way, by earning norms in qualifying events and meeting the ELO requirement. In 2004 she helped the United States' Women's Chess Olympiad team win it's first ever medal at a Chess Olympiad - Silver - and also won an individual Gold Medal for her performance on Board 1 - one of many individual gold medals she has won through the years for her Olympiad performances.  SP has won many other championship titles, awards and accolades.  These days she makes her home in Lubbock, Texas where she runs SPICE - the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence - at Texas Tech University and coaches the surging Texas Knight Raiders chess team.  SPICE has also instituted a series of elite invitational tournaments with highly-rated international GMs as well as tournaments designed to provide opportunity for American players to earn coveted IM and GM norms.  It seems she has retired from tournament chess but I hope that someday someone will be able to lure her out of this retirement :)

Susan Polgar's youngest sister, GM Judit Polgar is, quite simply, the best female player in the world - ever, and prior to her marriage and motherhood's duties filling her days, was routinely in the top 10 and then the 20 players of the world with an ELO above 2700.  JPolgar has not lost her competitive fire and, with a supportive husband and famiily, has announced her intention to put more time into competitive chess endeavors.  She never left the chess scene, exactly, but appeared in what I call "fluff" events which were, nevertheless, enormously popular.  JPolgar continues to be a huge chess star and a giant draw for any event in which she plays, and organizers of events are well aware of her star power.  But, JPolgar is far from "fluff" on the board, as her record thus far anchoring Board 3 for Team Hungary in the Open at the 2010 Chess Olympiad well attests. 

Photo from R5:  Bulgaria versus Ukraine.  Board 1 saw a show-down between GM Antoaneta Stefanova (fur-collared
jacket slung over the back of her chair, far left)  a former Women's World Chess Champion, and GM Kateryna Lahno,
the newly-crowned Women's World Blitz Chess Champion, on Board 1, sitting across from  Stevanova, hand under chin)
This is one of the photos from the official website which, I must say, is putting up a lot of great photos. It caught my eye not only because of the dramatic match it depicted but because of all those black leather jackets! I had no idea black leather jackets are de rigeur this season but, evidently, they are. If you noticed, Susan Polgar was wearing a black leather jacket in the top photo - with a ruffle no less! Geez, guess I'm really out of the loop fashion wise, spend too much time with my nose in history books and at this blog...

I called Bulgaria-Ukraine a show-down and that's no lie, it was.  If Bulgaria hoped to stay in contention for a shot at a medal, it had to - ideally - defeat the powerful Ukraine Women's team - or at least split the match for a point each.  Bulgaria's team is anchored by former Women's World Chess Champion GM Antoaneta Stefanova, who has been one of the best female players in the world for many years.  However, Bulgaria's women's team drops off sharply on the bottom two boards compared to Ukraine, and that was the difference in results in R5:

Round 5 on 2010/09/25 at 15:00
Bo. 3 Ukraine (UKR) Rtg - 12 Bulgaria (BUL) Rtg 3 : 1

1.1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2539 - GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2551 ½ - ½
1.2 GM Zhukova Natalia 2499 - WGM Voiska Margarita 2314 ½ - ½
1.3 IM Ushenina Anna 2466 - WIM Nikolova Adriana 2295 1 - 0
1.4 IM Gaponenko Inna 2469 - WIM Videnova Iva 2283 1 - 0

It was astonishing to me, frankly, that Margarita Voiska held a draw against the powerful Zhukova; Nikolova and Videnova lost their respective games to Ushenina and Gaponenko, two more established chess stars who have played in elite Women's events around the globe, with their much higher ELO ratings.

Now darlings, you should know if you've been following this blog, that Ukraine Women sit in FIRST place after R5; RUSSIA 1 is in SECOND; and those fighting-chess-chicks from the USA are in THIRD place, yippee!  Bulgaria is in THIRTEENTH place at the moment.

Anna Zatonskih, date unknown
 USA Women have to face tough as nails Georgia in R6.  Georgia is currently in SIXTH place and is gunning to get back into the top 3.  I have some favorite players on the Georgian Team, but in this case nation takes trumps, and I'll be rooting for USA all the way.  While Irina Krush has been burning up Board 1 and at this point is in line for an individual Gold Medal for her Board 1 play, it is critical to USA Women's performance in the second half that Anna Zatonskih MUST get her game in gear.  Is Zatonskih ill (she has had health issues in the past)?  Is she missing her husband/best friend/chess advisor GM Daniel Fridman, who is not playing on the German Open Team because of a horrible controversy that erupted between the best German players and the German Chess Federation?  It may be neither of these things, or something else, or a case of the chess "yips" (similar to not being able to putt in the crunch in money games of golf).  The thing is, great players find a way, somehow, to rise above "yips" and illness and everything else that distracts us ordinary mortals, and they play their asses off when it counts.  Anna, I love you, but you are not playing your ass off.  Get going, girl friend!
R1, I do not know who she is, or what team she is on.

Round 3, I do not know who she is or what team she is on.
More later - right now I've got to get outside and cut the front lawn...
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