Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Hola!  Just a brief note to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  I hope those who celebrate this holiday are with their loved ones - family and friends and special people.  As the old toast goes, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry."  I will be preparing my feast later on - a filet mignon, scalloped potatoes, and baby green peas.  And if I have any room left for dessert, I have a whole container full of 30 mini Chocolate Eclairs!  For back-up I also splurged on a bottle of "dessert wine" that is "dark chocolate and red wine" flavored.  YUM!

I've been working on putting up yet another new Christmas tree.  It's a 6 1/2 foot tall beauty with pine cones, and 928 tips.  I unpacked it yesterday and started "fluffing" the bottom third of the tree.  Today I did the second and third tiers to finish the tree.

It took FOREVER to "fluff" out each of the individual branches but oh my, it is a gorgeous tree.  Perhaps I will rotate this new tall tree with the 4.5 foot table top tree I bought a few seasons ago, depending on how ambitious I feel about lugging one tree or the other out of storage from the basement up to the main floor of the house, and then spending countless hours fluffing it up and decorating one or the other.  Good thing Christmas only comes once a year.  

For sure I won't be doing it today - tackling putting the lights on the tree.  I bypassed buying a pre-lit wired tree because they can give you a lot of problems and you end up adding in string lights to fill in burnt out areas sooner or later!  But after fluffing 928 branches, I'm done for the day, LOL!

Here she is, the bare naked tree after the first round of fluffing:


 A LOOOONNNNNGGGGG way to go to a fully decked out tree.  But this is all part of the wonderful and ultimately fulfilling process.  Now, I'm going to go cook me a medium rare filet mignon.

Monday, September 27, 2021

2021 U.S. Women's Chess Championship (October 5 - 19, 2021)

Hola darlings!

What a beautiful day in Milwaukee, 74 degrees, sunny, low humidity.  I wish the entire summer had been like this, but now I'm getting the yard in ship shape just in time for winter to arrive.  Sigh.  Well - not going to think about that right now.  The weather has energized me - it's a relief to be able to work hard and not break a sweat in 2 minutes.  The only thing missing today is a nice breeze, which had been consistent pretty much over the last week from the west/southwest.  

The 2021 U.S. Women's Chess Championship is hosted at the St. Louis Chess Club in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Opening Ceremony will be held October 5, 2021 and the tournament will run through October 19, 2021, in conjunction with the U.S. Chess Championship. 

There is $100,000 at stake for 12 female players this Championship.  We won't discuss the fact that the (Men's) U.S. Championship has a prize fund of $194,000 for 12 players (all male). Ahem.

The line-up (with bios) features some revered veterans and several players I'm not familiar with (but I haven't been following the players the way I used to, either, so there's that):

GM Irina Krush (2475)
IM Carissa Yip (2468)
IM Anna Zatonskih (2453)
WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (2403)
IM Nazi Paikidze (2386)
WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova (2375)
WGM Katerina Nemcova (2347)
WGM Thalia Cervantes (2316)
WGM Anna Sharevich (2296)
WGM Sabina Foisor (2286)
WIM Ashritha Eswaran (2286)
WIM Megan Lee (2268)

Monday, September 20, 2021

"The Queen's Gambit" in the News Again

Hola darlings!  Sorry I haven't been around all summer.  Too busy planting, pruning, raking, killing sod web worms (over and over and over again), mowing, mulching, edging the lawn (what a chore THAT was, wowsers!), harvesting my bounty of veggies, etc. etc.  Oh, and doing the COVID-19 cha cha trying to avoid getting a break-through infection.     

I've been ignoring my blogs (I have two, one not related to chess/ancient board games/archaeological finds) ALL summer and now here we are in autumn, the Autumnal Equinox is just a few days away.  I got busy about a week or so ago switching out the summer decor for that of autumn, "warming" up the house inside, so to speak, by adding cushy pillows in autumnal colors, adding soft afghans to snuggle under on a chilly night but not quite chilly enough to get a fire going in the fireplace or turn the heat on.  

But, regardless of my negligence, I'm sure you all know that last knight (ha ha - pun!) an Emmy was awarded to Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit" for "Outstanding Limited Series" - HOORAY!

I'm sure you've also all read by now about the great GM Nona Gaprindashvili, born in (Soviet Union era) Georgia filing a law suit claiming she's been defamed, or something, as she was mentioned in "The Queen's Gambit" mini-series based onWalter Tevis's novel written in 1983.  

Really? As if anybody familiar with chess, particularly with the history of the greatest female chessplayers, wouldn't have known who Gaprindashvili was!  I don't have Netflix and haven't seen the mini-series, but I would have laughed out loud at the line about Gaprindashvili "not having faced" male chessplayers in Netflix's take-off of Tevis's novel.  Frankly, I'm surprised the Grandmaster hasn't been on every news and entertainment show in the United States and Europe laughing at the comment made in the series, reminding everybody of the FIRSTS that she and she alone did, maybe making some money from appearances while reminding people that yes - formidable female chessplayers actually do exist!  In any event, anybody who didn't know much or anything about chess but enjoyed the series wouldn't know that GM Nona Gaprindashvili is a real person, they would have thought her a fictional character taken out of Tevis's novel, if they ever even heard of Tevis's novel. So - where is the defamation?  We'll see where this goes.

If you haven't already read more than enough about the Gaprindashvili law suit because there seem to be a kabillion articles out there in the internet universe about it, here are links to just a few of the articles in the United States:

From Yahoo Entertainment
Netflix Hit With $5M Suit Over "Sexism" of 'Queen's Gambit' Line About Soviet Chess Legend
By Dominic Patten
September 16, 2021

From The New York Times
A Chess Pioneer Sues, Saying She was Slighted in 'The Queen's Gambit'
By Matt Stevens
September 16, 2021

From The Washington Post
Netflix's 'The Queen's Gambit' said the first female Grandmaster 'never faced men.' Now she's suing.
By Julian Mark
September 17, 2021

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Southwest Chess Club Reopening for Person to Person Play!

 Hola darlings!  I haven't posted for awhile, I've been busy with seemingly never-ending projects around the house and of course the moment the first hints of spring appeared I was outdoors savoring getting my hands in the mud again!  And then there was the yearly wrestling match (13 rounds) with the dreaded INCOME TAX RETURNS.  Ugh!  Every year there seems to be ANOTHER FORM that needs to be filled out and yet as a retiree my income doesn't change all that much and I always roll over my refunds to apply to next year's income tax liability and I don't have to pay in another penny.  Sigh.

Southwest Chess Club, my adopted chess club, is reopening for IN PERSON play on August 5, 2021.  

It's true the club members were holding weekly events online during this horrible pandemic but of course that's just not the same as face to face OTB.  I'm thrilled for the club and its members, and I'm hoping that soon the Hales Corners Chess Challenge tournaments will be returning, too.  Typically held twice a year, in April and October, the pandemic caused cancellation of the 2020 events, and it may be too late this year to book a playing venue for an October 2021 HCCC.  But with the Club reopening,  players will be able to socialize in person once again, and reacquaint themselves with OTB play, which is very different from internet play (no matter what the experts may say!)  

Getting back to something approaching "normal," hooray! But I will never look at "normal" again in the same way.  It truly is a blessing to be able to move around freely and without fear, and to interact with others without fear of catching a killer virus, something we took for granted.  But we should never take our blessings for granted.  Sometimes, I guess we need re-learn that lesson, and it can be a hard lesson to learn.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Well - Duuuuuhhhhhhhh! Female Hunters - of Course, But We Women Already Knew That, Thank You

 Still digging through my emails to myself of research and interesting articles I find here and there when I do my daily dive into the internet.  This is from January 2021 (not as bad as July 2020 - see post below, yikes!)  

What New Science Techniques Tell Us About Ancient Women Warriors
Recent studies show that man was not always the hunter.

By Annalee Newitz
January 1, 2021

Though it’s remarkable that the United States finally is about to have a female vice president, let’s stop calling it an unprecedented achievement. As some recent archaeological studies suggest, women have been leaders, warriors and hunters for thousands of years. This new scholarship is challenging long-held beliefs about so-called natural gender roles in ancient history, inviting us to reconsider how we think about women’s work today.

In November a group of anthropologists and other researchers published a paper in the academic journal Science Advances about the remains of a 9,000-year-old big-game hunter buried in the Andes. Like other hunters of the period, this person was buried with a specialized tool kit associated with stalking large game, including projectile points, scrapers for tanning hides and a tool that looked like a knife. There was nothing particularly unusual about the body — though the leg bones seemed a little slim for an adult male hunter. But when scientists analyzed the tooth enamel using a method borrowed from forensics that reveals whether a person carries the male or female version of a protein called amelogenin, the hunter turned out to be female.

With that information in hand, the researchers re-examined evidence from 107 other graves in the Americas from roughly the same period. They were startled to discover that out of 26 graves with hunter tools, 10 belonged to women. Bonnie Pitblado, an archaeologist at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, told Science magazine that the findings indicate that “women have always been able to hunt and have in fact hunted.” The new data calls into question an influential dogma in the field of archaeology. Nicknamed “man the hunter,” this is the notion that men and women in ancient societies had strictly defined roles: Men hunted, and women gathered. Now, this theory may be crumbling.

While the Andean finding was noteworthy, this was not the first female hunter or warrior to be found by re-examining old archaeological evidence using fresh scientific techniques. Nor was this sort of discovery confined to one group, or one part of the world.

Article continues...

I love The New York Times.  It has everything.  

And so, evidently, does my scholarly (ahem) personal library - well, most of the good stuff, anyway.  If you want to get some good reads, check out these books:

Warrior Women, An Archaeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines, by Jeannine Davis-Kimball, Ph.D. with Mona Behan, First Printing: February 2002

Women Warriors, a History, by David E. Jones, (c) 1997; first paperback edition 2000 

Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, (c) 2007, First Edition

Uppity Women of Ancient Times, by Vicki Leon, (c) 1995; edition published by MJF Books by arrangement with Conari Press

And no chess historian/researcher's library would be complete without Marilyn Yalom's incredible Birth of the Chess Queen, a History, (c) 2004, First Edition

Darlings, I've never 100% bought into the theory that chess is a "war game."  I always thought it had more to do with love and romance than anything else.  But upon reflection, and since I seem to be on a "lyrics kick" today of songs popular during my time on planet Earth, I have to admit that there are lots of examples of comparison of Love to War.  So if chess is a war game, its the battle of love that is being fought, not a battle for territory, or political principles, or the new code words for "let's go back to 21,000 BCE" - Republican "culture wars," or worst of all, over religious beliefs, dogma and domination.  A brief sample of songs comparing love to war below:

Love Is a Battlefield, Pat Benatar, released September 12, 1983

Soldier of Love, Sade, released February 5, 2010

Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms), Arthur Anderson (a pioneer in mixing Black Soul and Country music), released in 1962 as the "B" side of Where Have You Been (All My Life), which reached #58 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1962

White Flag, Dido, released September 1, 2003 (reached 18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 46th Grammy Awards (U.S.), lost out to Christina Aguilara's "Beautiful"

She Was Buried with a Silver Crown - in the Bronze Age in Spain

Queen?  Queen consort?  Just a rich woman with a yearning to be a "royal?"  Or a female leader of her clan, buried with honors and her mate buried with her?  What's your guess?

From The New York Times (online)

Bronze Age Tomb in Spain Hints Women Helped Govern 
By Jennifer Pinkowski
March 11, 2021

Credit...
Arqueoecologia Social Mediterrània Research Group,
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

About 3,700 years ago, a man and a woman were buried together in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula. Their tomb was an ovoid jar beneath the floor of a grand hall in an expansive hilltop complex known as La Almoloya, in what is now Murcia, Spain. It’s one of many archaeological sites associated with the El Argar culture of the Early Bronze Age that controlled an area about the size of Belgium from 2200 B.C. to 1500 B.C.

Judging by the 29 high-value objects in the tomb, described Thursday in the journal Antiquity, the couple appear to have been members of the Argaric upper class. And the woman may have been the more important of the two, raising questions for archaeologists about who wielded power among the Argarics, and adding more evidence to a debate about the role of women in prehistoric Europe.

Article continues...

What All Women Know - Men Have "Itchy" Feet

 Oh yeah, men seem to have been created to want to ramble around and explore everything and anything, while (most) women want to make homes and stay put!  It's been that way since the very beginning of humanity, evidently.  Men get a case of itchy feet and the women sigh, pack up, and are hauled along for the "adventure."

We even have it "codified" in popular music:

Ramblin' Man, Allman Brothers (recorded 1972, released 1973)

      Lord, I was born a ramblin' man
     Tryin' to make a livin' and doin' the best I can
     And when it's time for leavin'
     I hope you'll understand,
     That I was born a ramblin' man

Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, Bob Seeger (1969 - geez, the year I graduated from high school and most of my readers weren't even a gleam in their daddy's eye yet. Love me some Bob Seeger.)

      
But I got to ramble (chorus: Ramblin' man)
     Gamble (chorus: Gamblin' man)
     Got to got to ramble (chorus: Ramblin' man)
     I was born a ramblin' (chorus: Gamblin' man)

My Elusive Dreams and Schemes, Curly Putnam (recorded by Curly Putnam March 1967, released June 1967, made popular by David Huston and Tammy Wynette in October 1967, recorded by multiple artists, including a second version by Tammy Wynette and George Jones, lyrics below)

T: I followed you to Texas
T: I followed you to Utah
G: We didn't find it there, so we moved on
T: I went with you to Alabam'
T: Things looked good in Birmingham
G: We didn't find it there, so we moved on
Chorus: (Both)
I know you're tired of followin'
My elusive dreams and schemes
For they're only fleeting things
My elusive dreams


So, darlings, it comes as no surprise to me that research from an article I came across in my emails as I was cleaning them out from July 2020 (bad Jan, yes - I'm behind) showed up, and here it is. It's not like we (women, that is), didn't already figure this out, and we're not surprised, LOL!

From The New York Times (online)

By Carl Zimmer
July 8, 2020

About 3,000 years ago, people on the eastern edge of Asia began sailing east, crossing thousands of miles of ocean to reach uninhabited islands. Their descendants, some 2,000 years later, invented the double-hulled canoe to travel even farther east, reaching places like Hawaii and Rapa Nui.

Archaeologists and anthropologists have long debated: Just how far did the Polynesians’ canoes take them? Did they make it all the way to the Americas?

The results of a new study suggest that they did. Today, people on Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, and four other Polynesian islands carry small amounts of DNA inherited from people who lived in Colombia about 800 years ago...


Ritual Art?

 I have a bone to pick when it comes to classifying this item of art - or any art - as "ritual" unless there is substantial evidence to back up such a conclusion.  How do we know when something as old as the Shigor Idol is "ritual art" or not?  Just because it's old?  Just because it was evidently "portable" - at least, it could be taken down and moved if the assumptions archaeologists and anthropologists, etc. have made over the years about "hunter-gatherer societies" are all true.  Was the Venus of Willendorf "ritual art?"  It was carved of stone, small, and could be moved easily from place to place. What about the cave paintings at Lascaux?  Ritual?  

The truth is - WE DON'T KNOW. In the articles I read, I did not see any convincing evidence discussed to suggest that the Shigor sculpture was intended to be ritual in nature.  If you spent tons of hours carving a nine foot tall totem pole on a piece of wood, wouldn't you move it with you when you moved your camp too? We should hesitate before applying 20th century assumptions to ancient items.  We often have zero clues (or are just outright wrong - but people usually don't talk about that when that happens - oops).  Just admire it for what it is - a thing of interest (not what I'd call a thing of beauty) and extreme rarity, having survived thousands of years.  End of rant.



Additional articles on the Shigir Idol for your reading pleasure (if you want to learn more):

From The Smithsonian Magazine (online):


From Science Magazine (online):

By Andrew Curry
April 25, 2018
(Sounds like somebody may have read "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown, written in 2000)

From Archaeology (Magazine, online):

By - not credited
April 5, 2021

Are Recurring Cycles of Violence Something We in the U.S. Have to Live With?

 Hola!  Spring has sprung here and when weather has permitted I've been working hours outside daily doing the massive spring yard and garden clean-up.  I swear there is more to clean up every year - or else I'm just getting older and slower.  When I haven't been working outdoors I've been working on the house - there is always new decor to bring in and changes to make with the change of the seasons, along with thorough indoors cleaning from attic to basement.  Whew!

Today I'm posting several items I've piled up over the past week or two or three.  Enjoy!  First up:

Have any of you heard of Dr. Peter Turchin?  I can't recall ever hearing or reading about him until just this past week, and the article that I read made the hairs on the back of my neck tickle and stand up, wowsers!  Like Dr. Allan Lichtman, co-creator with Dr. Vladimir Keilis-Borok of the incredibly predictive "Thirteen Keys to the White House" in 1981, Dr. Turchin's predictive model of recurring cycles of violence in the United States approximately every 50 years (other than in 1820) has thus far proven remarkably accurate.

Check out this article from Live Science and note the date:  IT WAS WRITTEN ON AUGUST 12, 2012.

Will the US Really Experience a Violent Upheaval in 2020?
By Natalie Wolchover, August 3,  2012


Circa 1870, the North fought the South in the Civil War. Half a century later, around 1920, worker unrest, racial tensions and anti-Communist sentiment caused another nationwide upsurge of violence. Then, 50 years later, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement triggered a third peak in violent political, social and racial conflict. Fifty years after that will be 2020. If history continues to repeat itself, we can expect a violent upheaval in the United States in a few years.

It sounds like pseudoscience, but it's a published theory. "My model suggests that the next [peak in violence] will be worse than the one in 1970 because demographic variables such as wages, standards of living and a number of measures of intra-elite confrontation are all much worse this time," said Peter Turchin, an ecologist, evolutionary biologist and mathematician at the University of Connecticut.

Article continues...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

It's Cherry Blossom and Chess Time!

 Well, at least in some parts of the country and the world it's cherry blossom time!  No cherry trees blossoming around SE Wisconsin yet unless there in a arboretum, but spring is springing up more and more, a wee bit here and a wee bit there as the weather continues to warm.  

Every LAST BIT  of my 4 foot plus tall snowbanks have melted away in mid-March - like the kind of good old fashioned kind of spring I remember when I was a kid!  What a wonderful gift from Mother Nature after several years of never knowing when the cold might finally end and when the snow would finally all melt away.  I've been busy when it's not soggy outside, slowly cleaning up my numerous garden beds and raking seemingly endless pine needles, mini-pine cones, dead leaves and branches out of the lawn that seem to fly into my front, side and backyards somehow on magic winds.  We had about half an inch of rain last night and this morning I noticed the difference outdoors immediately - my grass already looks much greener and there are buds forming on the ornamental cherry outside my bedroom window that I swear weren't there yesterday (I've been checking).

Here is my fabulously beautiful ornamental cherry tree about 3 years ago, completely covering my bedroom window
at the corner of the house. She's a beauty!

Speaking of cherry trees, a timely reminder appeared in my email from Katherine Neville's website.  Her Cherry Blossom and Chess News Letter dated March 22, 2021 contains a lot of information for the curious to dig into and research further!  (Hint:  Ancient beliefs related the cherry blossom to the cycle of birth, death, rest, and renewal to start the cycle all over again.  Infinity, eternal, the concept that the sideways "Eight" represents.)  

I was excited to read that Neville has been writing a new book during interminable social distancing and lock-downs as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on and on and on.  Wow!  Been waiting for YEARS for a new Neville book to come out, so too have thousands of other Neville fans around the world.  This is good news for us.

Here's the info in particular I want to pass along - 

  • The Madwoman’s Book Club — inspired by The Queen’s Gambit mini-series and created by two-time US Chess Champion, Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade — has chosen The Eight as its April book club selection! I’ll be joining their group to discuss The Eight on April 16th. To learn more, see News on my website.

What's this all about - sounds like a book club right up my alley, woo woo!  Here's more info:

U.S. Chess Federation
Chess Life Online

The Madwoman's Book Club
Readings on Chess, Mindset and Intellectual Adventures

Coming up on April 16, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. EDT:  The Eight with Katherine Neville


Hmmm - is this one of those zoomy things?  Argh, can you just put it on a Youtube video for me, please? (Maybe it is - I need to check on that).  You can also find some information at Chess.com.  

April showers are arriving about on schedule - there is a hum of "normalcy" in the air that has been absent for more than a year from 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Oooooooooh Brother! The Bongcloud Attack Returns!!!

 As possibly the most ignorant and utterly incompetent chessplayer in the entire world since the beginning of time, I confess - I never heard of the Bongcloud Attack.  But it's a real thing.  Geez Louise, who knew?

I can't help it, there are sooo many things about...well, I'll just let you see them for yourselves.  This is the article from The Week online, beginning with a mistake (? or is it deliberate and nefarious...) of mispelling the word "Chess" in "Today in Ches:"


Today in Ches

Chess Grandmasters Can't Stop Laughing After Opening Tournament Match With the Worst Possible Moves

March 16, 2020

Fans of The Queen's Gambit will get a kick out of Monday's match between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and the United States' Hikaru Nakamura at the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.

The game between the grandmasters started with Carlsen moving his king's pawn up to e4, a popular first move; Nakamura mirrored it. But it was then that things got silly: Carlsen next moved his king up to where the pawn had been, an opening known as the Bongcloud Attack, and "one of chess' worst possible opening moves," Vice reports.

"Don't do this!" one of the commentators watching the match blurted.

When Nakamura saw his opponent's move, though, he burst into laughter — and mimicked it. Both Carlsen and Nakamura had already qualified for the next stage of the tournament, and their Bongcloud game, which was just for laughs, ended in a draw. You can review the game at Chess24Jeva Lange

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