Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another post from Delphi forum... 163.1 II. A GAME OF CHESS 77 The title has many associations. It recollects the chess game in Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women, in which a widow is distracted by the playing of a game of chess from the duke's seduction of her daughter-in-law Bianca in the next room (on a stage balcony visible to the audience) (almost described as a rape, and in double entendre imaged as a chess game. The dramatist contrived that the accomplice should checkmate the mother at the moment when the daughter-in-law surrendered to the seducer). (The play satirized a marriage based on political expediency) The chess game often represents man's mortality -- for example, Igmar Bergman's film, The Seventh Seal, shows life as a chess game with Death. In the Grail legend, the knight sometimes visits a chessboard castle, where he meets a water-maiden. At the end of Shakespeare's The Tempest the two ancient rival kingdoms of Milan and Naples are united in the promised marriage of Prince Ferdinand and Prospero's daughter, Miranda, who are discovered together playing a game of chess -- signifying the rational basis of their love, their pre-marital chastity, and their marriage as the reduction of a real war to a mere game between lovers. In chess, two kings strive for supremacy by manipulating and sacrificing their Queens, Knights, Bishops, Castles, and Pawns (soldiers), although in fact the two Kings are the weakest pieces on the board. The movie "Seventh Seal" is an excellent movie. I really enjoyed this film. It is available at Netfix movie rentals.

We Don't Get No Respect

A comment made this morning over at Susan Polgar's blog caught my attention - Chessbase doesn't have any coverage on the U.S. Chess Championship. I checked it out this morning (8:54 a.m. CST) and - sure enough - nary a word. I then checked Chessdom, another website that is (I believe) run by Europeans and - no mention of the U.S. Chess Championship there, either. That's rather insulting. It's like the people who are running these "chess news websites" are saying to American chessplayers - you don't count, you're peanuts, you're pathetic and not worth the megapixels to report on you. But if they're "chess news websites," shouldn't they report on all the important chess news? Maybe they think we Americans are pathetic players not worthy of their exalted attention, but there are people out there who want to know whats going on in the U.S. Championship and they're not getting very current news from either the MonRoi website (the "official" website) or the USCF website. I'm reading Michael Aigner's blog (he's playing in the U.S. Championship) and Dylan McClain's New York Times blog. Susan Polgar is also reporting results and round match-ups seemingly before they're posted at the MonRoi site, lol! Good for her. Crowthers' The Week in Chess is reporting U.S. Championship results and updating on a daily basis. Thank goodness for the Brits! I report on all news that I can find on women chessplayers and women's chess and I don't care where the tournaments were held, what websites I find the information at or what newspaper the articles were published in. To the guys who are running Chessbase and Chessdom - isn't it about time you started treating American chessplayers and events with the same respect that I, a news operation run by me, me and only me, afford to all women players, whatever their country of origin? Geez!

Friday, May 18, 2007

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship - 2

Details for the 2007 Frank Berry U.S. Women's Chess Championship have been announced (finally) at the USCF website. It will be held in Stillwater, Oklahoma July 16-20, 2007. Total prizes are $25,000. The top ten rated women from the May list will be invited for a round robin. Here is the schedule: Rounds 1+2- Monday at Noon and 6 PM Rounds 3+4-Tuesday the 17th at 11 AM and 5 PM Rounds 5+6- Wednesday the 18th 11 AM and 5 PM Rounds 7+8- Thursday the 19th-11 AM and 5 PM Round 9- Friday the 20th at 11 AM Here are the prizes: 1st $7000; 2nd $5000; 3rd $3000; 4th $2500; 5th $2000; 6th $1500; 7th $1000; 8th $1000; 9th $1000; 10th $1000. There are three women's zonal qualifying spots for US players this year. If the top woman in the regular US Championship makes at least an even score (4.5), she will obtain one spot and the other two spots will be determined in the Women's Championship. If all women in the US Championship make minus scores, all three zonal spots will be determined in the Women's Championship. Here are the top 15 women on the April, 2007 list. At this point I don't know how much the May list will change: 1 Polgar, Susan Zsuzsa NY USA 2597 2 Zatonskih, Anna NY USA 2491 3 Krush, Irina NY USA 2480 4 Goletiani, Rusudan NY USA 2392 5 Baginskaite, Camilla CA USA 2361 6 Rohonyan, Katerine MD USA 2346 7 Abrahamyan, Tatev CA USA 2289 8 Tuvshintugs, Batchimeg CA USA 2259 9 Ross, Laura R NY USA 2251 10 Battsetseg, Tsagaan MD USA 2234 11 Marinello, Beatriz NY USA 2211 12 Zenyuk, Iryna NY USA 2199 13 Airapetian, Chouchanik WA USA 2188 14 Epstein, Esther MA USA 2180 15 Melekhina, Alisa PA USA 2149 We know that Susan Polgar won't be playing. Will Zatonskih play? And what about Goletiani? Will Krush, Zenyuk and Airapetian get a second kick at the cat and be allowed to play in the women's event, after having competed in the - well, they're not calling it the "men's" event but essentially that's what it is, otherwise the women would NOT be having a separate event! At stake are those three places in the zonal for the Women's World Chess Championship. Now I understand what Zatonskih was talking about in the letter Susan Polgar posted at her website. What is fair under the circumstances? My first inclination is that it's not fair these three women would have a chance to play in the women's championship. On the other hand, if the women did not know beforehand about the three qualification spots prior to accepting the invitation to the "men's" championship, it's also not fair that they might be foreclosed altogether from earning those spots in the zonal if they cannot compete in the women's championship. Hmmmm, what to do, what to do. Once again it has come down to a case of "who knew what and when." It seems that USCF decided to allow the three women the opportunity to play in the women's championship, if they accept their invitations. The USCF put itself in a very hard spot - given the circumstances, there are going to be some very unhappy female chessplayers. Nothing like adding a layer of drama to the championships. I've been following the women's performances closely because I'm interested in women's chess; now it will be even more interesting to see how the women do in the "men's" event, knowing that one zonal spot is at stake. And, instead of 10 women competing for 3 zonal spots, there will be 10 women competing for 2 zonal spots; their odds decreased by the decisions made by USCF from a 1 in 3 shot to a 1 in 5 shot. Yeah, I guess I'd be just a little upset about that.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chess Humor (Huh?)

Hola darlings! Spring is in the air and I’m feeling romantic and sentimental, so I thought I’d do a little reminiscing about my days as the Chief, Cook and Botttle-washer at the old International Chessoid. The Chessoid (we affectionately called it TIC, a gentle rib at The Week in Chess – TWIC, but I don’t know if anyone ever "got" it) was online between 2001 and 2004. TIC made fun of everything that was chessly, including the players, the events, and most of all, ourselves. TIC’s staff was the stuff that tabloids are made of – those really cheesy ones (the tabloids, not the staff members) – and, of course, soap operas. I started TIC when Ricardo Calvo was still alive and he contributed behind-the-scenes commentary and ideas – but he never wanted to take any credit for it. Gee, I wonder why… In the earliest "Meet the Staff" pages, The Chief’s (our nickname for Ricardo) photo was prominently featured as "Dr. Shah T. Ranj," but I later swapped out his photograph for an anonymous actor from the 1940’s. It wasn’t that Ricardo objected, and his reputation as a chess scholar was sufficiently strong that he could have taken any ribbing he might have received for being affiliated with our "wild and crazy" group, but in a conservative moment (one of my few) I opted for "prudence." If anyone out there remembers those early editions (and the later editions were probably worse), perhaps you’ll understand why :) Of course, as all respectable chess tabloids do, we had running intrigues among the ever-evolving staff members – a takeover by an evil Russian ex-GM, and then a takeover by a rich American countess (she married into the title) who looked suspiciously like the actress Jennifer Jones, but she got killed by a crazy religious fundamentalist who was a member of the "Chess University" panel of chess experts. Features at TIC evolved over time but in time readers could count on a column/interview with Judit Polgar, the "Chess Pin-up of the Month" and, as a running gag, the same photo kept showing up in nearly each month’s edition – "The Alien and (fill in the blank) – shaking hands. LOL! It was also at TIC that those Fabulous Las Vegas Showgirls were first introduced to the world as chess commentators and board games scholars, relentless in their never-ending quest for the truth about the origins of – well, read them for yourselves. There are plans afoot to resurrect at least parts of the old International Chessoid. Until (and if) that happens, we do have a "Humor" section at Goddesschess – and here’s a little something I whipped up for a few chuckles (I hope). Enjoy! The Top Ten Ways How Not To Improve My Chess:

10. Staying up all night playing against the Bobby Fischer personality on Chessmaster 4000.

9. Thinking I’m pretty darn good if I get to move 22 playing against Bobby Fischer (see #10) before he checkmates me.

8. Getting into flame wars on chess message boards.

7. Inviting people I get into flame wars with to play chess with me online. 6. Not learning the correct move for the bishop until I was 21. 5. Reading trashy romance novels instead of studying Botvinnik’s 100 greatest games. 4. Allowing my 8 and 7 year old nephews to "win" because I feel sorry for them. 3. Never studying openings, middle games or end games. And I’m proud of it. 2. Thinking I can get by on my looks. 1. Knowing I made much more money as a lawyer.

Goddess Reading List

Goddess Reading List: "The White Goddess" - Robert Graves - "Amazon" - Barbara G. Walker "The Chalice and the Blade" - Riane Eisler "Old Europe" - Marija Gimbutas "In Seach of God the Mother" - Lynn Rollers "The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory" - Cynthis Ellers "Sexual Peace" - Michael Sky If you happen to know of more books on this subject will you please add them to the list.

Chess in Any Language

Here are some fasinating posts that were posted at the Delphi forum "Chess the Goddess and Everything". I am sure you will enjoy reading them. Isis This is Sunwolf: 169.1 Hi All: I went an took these simple chess words and translated them, to let them speak for themselves: chess, king, queen, pawn, rook, knight, castle, bishop, chessboard French: échecs, roi, reine, pion, tour, chevalier, château fort, évêque, échiquier Portuguese: xadrez, monarca, rainha, penhor, [rook], fidalgo, castelo, bispo, [chessboard] Danish: skak, konge, dronning, [pawn], [rook], [knight], slot, biskop, skakbræt Spanish: ajedrez, rey, reina, peón, grajo, caballero, castillo, obispo, tablero Welsh: gwyddbwyll, brenin, banon, gwystla, brân, farchog, castella, esgob, dawlbwrdd I find it fascinating that each laguage has a unique word for "Chess" and also the Welsh word "gwyddbwyll" is important because I think there is a myth associated with it. Anyone familar with it? Response: Hi Isis:I found that reference to "Gwyddbwyll", the Welsh word for "Chess" in the Goddess Weave. It was from a post by Philip Mistlberger on our old Art Bell home: " Philip Mistlberger - 05:13am Feb 8, 1999 MST (#194 of 673) Mark, what does your number magic say about the following, Peredur, Perceval, Grail, GWYDDBWYLL (correct spelling), black maiden, Empress. In terms of the Mabinogion connection, which pretty much confirms the chess-Goddess tradition link, the above terms are obviously important. I've long been interested in Perceval in the context of the Grail search, and feel he is a key to many things. The symbolism re the relationship between the Empress-Goddess, black maiden, chess, and Peredur is striking and relatively straightforward. A key to Celtic history is Druidry. I'm going to look that way. Jan, it'll be interesting to see if this Celtic link can in turn be bridged to the Chinese links you've uncovered. One other thing: The Druids are linked to Stonehenge, which has direct mathematical commonalities with the Great Pyramid. More later when I have time. Getting interesting." "Mark Borcherding - 09:37am Feb 8, 1999 MST (#195 of 673)dare to dream upon your own star Ref 194 Philip here is what I came up with: 9 numerology 26 numerology Reduction Peredur 42 67 6 Perceval 37 82 1 Grail 29 47 2 GWYDDBWYLL 47 137 2 black maiden 39 75 3 Empress 32 95 5 Black Madonna 37 91 1 Celtic 25 52 7 Holy Grail 53 107 8 Notice "Holy Grail" creates Jan's number "8" the chess board 8x8 squares. Grail also refers to bloodline and perhaps refers to DNA that has 8x8=64 codons. Perceval = 37 = Black Madonna , most of the paintings in the Templar churches have a "Black Madonna". Notice "Celtic" reflects itself with 25 mirror of 52. Empress = 32 = 32 white squares or 32 black squares. 1/2 of the DNA Codon. Perhaps each person carries both Male and Female DNA and can activate it in unity :) Thus ALL of us are the Holy Grail. Philip Mistlberger - 12:15pm Feb 8, 1999 MST (#196 of 673) Thanks Mark, maybe we should rent a mainframe before 2000 to get this solved... The plot thickens... In Egyptian mythology, the floor of the Great Hall of Judgment is a pattern of BLACK AND WHITE SQUARES. In order for the soul to progress on its journey into the afterlife, there must be an equal number of either coloured squares. More of black, or more of white, symbolizes that there is an imbalance in the soul that has to be corrected. Concerning the "Gwyddbwyll" game. In the Mabinogion the word is translated by Guest as "chess". Other sources say it is a board game that derives from an older Irish board game that is almost identical to chess but slightly different. John and Caitlan Matthews, well known Celtic scholars, describe it as synonomous with chess. In some versions the squares are not black and white, but red and white. Red and white is a pairing that shows up throughout the Hermetic and alchemical texts. The Menkaure pyramid of Giza (linked with Horus by some) was originally red and white. Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer, John Dee, found red and white alchemical powders in the Abbey Grounds of the Isle of Avalon. The Sanskrit nectar "Amrita" is a red/white elixer that streams out from the "moon" center in the head. And so the pieces seem to be coming together (pun intended). The original game appears to have been an alchemical code or cipher of some sort, containing keys for initiation and consciousness growth. Very similar to Tarot, with the modern version being a poor, trivial derivative. I suspect that the origins are Nile valley and/or Mesopotamian (as with most eveything, and before that probably something antidiluvian, like Atlantis). With the decline of those cultures it probably spread East through Persia, the Indus valley and India, Silk Road, and China. It also went northwest through Asia Minor and Europe, carried by Celtic tribes and hidden in the legends (such as the Mabinogion). Those are very preliminary speculations, of course. There is so much more here, such as the mathematics of Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid, the geometry of the Shiva temples, and the historical interfacing of the Goddess traditions and Druidism. There is also a stack of info around Sacred Geometry vis a vis the Avalon myths, Freemasonry, and their Egyptian roots. Bridge anyone? :-)" " Philip Mistlberger - 10:57pm Mar 4, 1999 MST (#296 of 321) Jan, in the info that I posted last month about the Celtic chess connection through the Mabinogion (Welsh bardic tales), they mentioned that the Celtic board game "Gwyddbwyll" was derived from an older Irish game that was very similar to chess but slightly different. As the Mabinogion dated from about 1100 CE, "older" would seem to fit with the "pre-500 CE" era you mention. In the Mabinogion the connection between chess and the Goddess is spelled out in a strikingly explicit manner. It is referred to as the "game of the Empress and the black maiden".

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

President Jefferson and the Egyptian Princess

This is one of those "Everything" entries :) What do Thomas Jefferson and an Egyptian Princess have in common? You'd be surprised, darlings! Since we've added Random Roundup to the front page at Goddesschess, I visit lots of websites in a kind of "circuit" to regularly review and note any articles that catch my eye, my curiosity or my sense of whimsy, besides doing daily sweeps of chess news, archaeology news and egyptology news. In late March I came across two intriguing articles at - get ready for this, now - The Daily Grail website. LOL! Yes, I know, only certifiables read anything at the Daily Grail, right? Wrong! Evidently DG is right up there as one of the most visited sites on the internet. I guess there are a lot of closet certifiables out there, me included... One article that caught my eye was published on March 28, 2007 at the website. It was news awhile back that Thomas Jefferson had been proven via DNA to have fathered one of the sons of Sally Hemings. The original work was done almost 10 years ago, and focused on the Y chromosome, "a male-specific part of our DNA that passes down from father to son." In the years since, technology has advanced; now why the researchers decided to further pursue study of Jefferson's DNA (the article doesn't say), I'll leave that to you readers to decide: "In a study reported in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. The presidential chromosome turns out to belong to a rare class called ‘K2’, which is found at its highest frequency in the Middle East and Eastern Africa, including Oman, Somalia and Iraq. Its closest match was in a man from Egypt. Could this mean that the President had recent ancestry in the Middle East? A careful survey revealed a few K2 chromosomes in France, Spain and England. Together, the K2s form a diverse group that may, in fact, have been in western Europe for many thousands of years. "Further evidence for Jefferson’s British origins come from the finding that two out of 85 randomly recruited men named Jefferson share exactly the same Y chromosome as the President. Prof Jobling said: ‘The two men have ancestry in Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and knew of no historical connection to the USA. They were amazed and fascinated by the link, which connects them into Thomas Jefferson’s family tree, probably about 11 generations ago.’ "The ultimate origins of K2 chromosomes remain a mystery, however, and need further investigation: while they may have been present in Europe since the Stone Age, another possibility is that K2s came to Europe with the Phoenicians, an ancient maritime trading culture that spread out across the Mediterranean from their home in what is now Lebanon. The US media has taken up a different theory, leading to the New York Times headline, ‘Jefferson – the first Jewish president?’: European K2 chromosomes may originate in Sephardic (Spanish) Jewish populations, who have their ultimate origins in the Middle East. "Prof Jobling said: ‘When we look closely at large collections of British Y chromosomes we find surprises, like this rare K2 lineage, and the African chromosome that we recently found in a Yorkshireman. These exotic chromosomes remind us of the complexity of British history and prehistory.’" Thomas Jefferson Jewish? I suppose that would be important to some people, but not to me. Nah, it was a few lines down at DG when I saw an article - "The Story of Princess Scota" - I just had to check it out. Over the course of a couple of years, at one time or another Don, Isis and I have all done some internet research on the legend of Scota, an Egyptian princess who ended up in Ireland after marrying a foreign prince (I believe one of the sons of Melitius). Some of the legends say that "Scotland" got its name from "the people of Scota" who eventually settled there after crossing over from Ireland, those people being descendants of the tribe founded by Scota and her husband. My interest in Scota is along etymological lines - what does her name mean, and where did it come from? And so, I clicked on the article, thinking perhaps someone had put together a sort of legendary biography of Scota. It turned out to be a book review of "Kingdom of the Ark," in which author Lorraine Evans "reveals archaeological connections between Egypt and Ireland. Evans argues that the connections between the two distant lands were plausible and there is archaeological evidence to support the theory." The review lists some of this evidence:
  • Bronze Age skeletal remains were excavated at the Mount of Hostages at Tara in 1955 by archaeologist Dr. Sean O'Riordan of Trinity College, Dublin, wearing a rare necklace of faience beads, made from a paste of minerals and plant extracts that had been fired. (Remains dated to around 1350 BCE). A study in 1956 that compared that necklace with Egyptian faience beads found they were "not only of identical manufacture but also of matching design."
  • The famous Tutankhamun was entombed around the same time as the Tara skeleton and the priceless golden collar around his mummy's neck was inlaid with matching conical, blue-green faience beads. An almost identical necklace was found in a Bronze Age burial mound at north Molton, Devon.
  • In 1937 in North Ferriby, Yorkshire, the remains of an ancient boat were discovered. While thought to be a Viking longship at first, continued excavation produced additional ships, wrecked in a storm. Further investigation showed that the boats were much older than Viking ships and were of a type found in the Mediterranean. It was concluded that these boats originated from 2000 years before the Viking age and were radiocarbon dated to around 1400 to 1350 BCE.

I find this absolutely fascinating! Could it really be that some ancient Egyptians visited and possibly even settled on the shores of England and Ireland sometime in the 14th century BCE? Shipwreck seems a plausible explanation. We do know, thanks to archaeological evidence that continues to be uncovered every day (together with fresh looks at older evidence accumulated during prior years), that ancient people and cultures had much more extensive trade contacts than most people give them credit for, going back much further than most people can easily imagine. Man was an explorer and trader from his earliest days, it seems. There is also that intriguing hint of Thomas Jefferson's and others' DNA showing that rare K2 chromosome - passed down from father to son, generation after generation. What if, in an indirect way, this DNA (whose closest match was from a man in Egypt) is evidence that supports the legend of Scota, Princess of Egypt, arriving on the shores of Ireland with a large contingent? Food for thought... We at Goddesschess encourage people to think outside the box. This all could possibly be related to chess - just what does Scota's name mean, and where did it come from???

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

2007 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Oh for Goddess' sake, what the heck is going on? I'm trying to enjoy a quiet evening at home after having just spent well over an hour watching the endgame of Onischuk v. Browne (USCF Championship) broadcast at MonRoi (run by a woman, heh heh) (I was rooting for GM Browne, but he succumbed in the end - but it was a hell of an endgame!), and here I read at Susan Polgar's blog this message: "Today, I was copied on another email by the reigning US Women's Champion. Here are some parts of this important email: " 'At the moment there is no official information from US Chess Federation, although, according to some other sources, the female US Championship could start as early as mid-July. As far as I understood, this event is going to be held 16-20th of July, which means we would have to play two rounds a day. I believe these dates to be unacceptable from every point of view: firstly it is an important event and WCh. Qualification, and secondly, this tough schedule would make my own participation almost impossible (for reasons you are well aware of). Furthermore, it is made clear, that this schedule was partly created to fit into plans of a certain player and exact days were never discussed with other participants. Another major point I would like to mention is that the idea to give places in World Women Championship from US Men Championship sounds to me both absurd and incorrect; absurd because women have to qualify having played other women; and incorrect, because nothing of the kind was initially mentioned in the contracts. Furthermore, some players would thus get two chances to qualify and others only one. I think it is in everybody’s interests that USCF makes an official statement clarifying all this, so that all the people involved could discuss the situation. I don’t believe that decisions, taken at the last moment, or even, as it happened in 2004 with WCh. Qualifications, after the events, help us to develop chess in USA. " 'Best regards, Anna Zatonskih US Women’s Champion' " I repeat - what the heck is going on? Where are the players reading this stuff - certainly not at the official USCF website! I do what I can to pick up "gossip" and such at Polgar's and Mig's blogs, but I do not have time to surf the internet all day. And in any event, I think some people must be "wired" into the "gossip chain" - or else they're being deliberately contacted/ targeted by receiving copies of emails and other correspondence that is flowing to/from USCF. After all, how could John Donaldson make an announcement that the Women's Championship would be held in July, hosted by the Berry brothers, when there has been NO OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF SUCH at the USCF website? How DARE the USCF go ahead and schedule a Women's Chess Championship without giving any consideration to the women - including the current U.S. Women's Champion - involved! And what the heck does this mean: Furthermore, it is made clear, that this schedule was partly created to fit into plans of a certain player. WHAT certain player? What is going on?

2007 U.S. Championship-7

Hola Darlings! Dylan McClain has a new chess column up at the New York Times in which he talks about sponsors (past and present) for some American tournaments. Most recently, of course, we have Mr. Frank Berry to thank for "bidding" $50,000 to host the U.S. Chess Championship ("Men's" event, although they're not calling it that officially - a separate Women's event is to be held in July); otherwise it's unlikely a championship would have been held this year. Of interest is the mention of Dr. Eric Moskow, who recently posted a message on this blog and also at Susan Polgar's blog - and also communicated with Mig Greengard over at Daily Dirt/Chess Ninja - about his willingness to pay good money to play in the U.S. Championship but - Dr. Moskow says - politics got in the way and he was prevented from participating because of his support for Susan Polgar in the upcoming USCF Executive Board election. Mig blogged: "Eric Moskow, a real chess patron who has done his share of pay-to-play over the years, was trying to get in but to play online because he is traveling. Unfortunately, such games couldn't have been rated by FIDE, ruining norm chances for his opponents according to the USCF. Too bad they couldn't have made it work out as Moskow was offering an amount close to the current first prize!" Dr. Moskow indicated that he was prepared to pay $10,000 to play this year, and another $10,000 for next year's tournament. It is unfortunate that things could not be worked out so that Dr. Moskow could pay to play; I'm sure the players would have appreciated an infusion of more cash into the prize fund and $10,000 toward next year's championship (which we all hope will be held) would have been a nice nest egg too! Oh - I see that Mig has just posted that two players chose to pay to play and were accepted: $3,000 from GM Walter Browne and $5,000 from IM Jay Bonin. Both gentlemen have been participants in the U.S. tournament circuit for many many years and, of course, GM Browne is a former U.S. Chess Champion. It is both generous and gracious for these two gentlemen to pay to play. I hope they will both do very well in the Championship. Interestingly, Mig thinks that the players will be gunning for the top five spots because those positions are qualified to play in the next FIDE World Championship cycle. I think it's more realistic for the players to gun for the other prizes: places 6 through 10 receive free room and board at the Continental Championship. The National Open is offering several prizes (not specified) according to a post by John Donaldson at The Daily Dirt (mentioned in my May 7 post about the U.S. Championship). There are probably only four players in the U.S. right now who would have any chance in advancing in the Championship Cycle: Nakamura, Onishuk, Kamsky, and Susan Polgar. Polgar has basically retired from "serious" chess play, she's got the Polgar Foundation, the Polgar chess school, two sons to raise and now the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence in Lubbock, Texas to run into the foreseeable future, and her other projects, so that leaves the three men to carry the banner for the United States. There was a nice article published today in the Cushing Daily Citizen (Cushing, Oklahoma, population 25 - only kidding!) about the Championship. There is a little confusion about the number of spots that would actually qualify to advance in the World Championship cycle because the Cushing Daily Citizen article mentions only the top two spots So, which is it? Five spots or two spots? Speaking of prize funds, Mig has got up a collection for a brilliancy prize fund, thanks to a base of $500 contributed by Chess Ninja. IMs John Donaldson and John Watson have volunteered to be judges for the awards. As of about 6:30 p.m. today, folks about contributed $481 toward the fund. This doesn't include my $25 donated a few minutes ago, so once that's counted the contributions from fans will be officially over $500. Hooray! Wouldn't it be great if a couple thousand dollars could be collected this way? Just from fans on the internet. The Cushing Daily Citizen article says: "To reward hard fighting, the Stillwater National Bank is awarding a $100 prize for the hardest fought or best played game after each round." I hope the judges for all brilliancy and "fighting" awards spread them around to as many players as possible. Many of the players are going to need help defraying expenses and $100 can help with the hotel bill. In conjunction with the U.S. Championship, the New York Times has started a chess blog - of COURSE it would - we start one little chess blog to try and attract readers to the greatest miscellaneous chess website on the internet - GODDESSCHESS - and all of a sudden their are sixty kajillion chess blogs! Who's going to read here when they can read at the New York Times and feel superior ("I read the New York Times chess blog, dahlings")? I must get a grip on myself, I must... The NYT blog is called "Gambit" - not original, but what the heck. It premiered yesterday; there will be coverage of the U.S. Championship and after that, it will be a general chess blog as well as covering future chess events, developments, etc. etc. Good luck to all the participants of the 2007 U.S. ("Men's") Chess Championship, and particularly to the three chess femmes playing: IM Irina Krush, WFM Chouchanik Airapetian and WFM Irina Zenyuk. I hope they kick serious chess butt! Play for every single woman chess player in the USA, ladies! Go go go!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Elaine Saunders

I found some information online about Elaine Saunders, who was mentioned in the Chess Prodigies post yesterday. Chess historian Edward Winter has five photographs of a young Elaine (scroll down to her entry, they are in alphabetical order, last name first), including a nice photo of Elaine with one of the greatest chess players of all time, Vera Menchik, at his website along with some biographical information and one of her games. He reports that Elaine married David Brine Pritchard on February 29, 1952 (she would have been 26) and that Pritchard was a chess writer. Sadly, Mr. Pritchard passed away in late 2005. Elaine was British Women's Chess Champion four times: 1965, 1956, 1946, 1939. I also discovered further biographical information on Elaine at a rather interesting website that is not very well put together (both the website and the information). It is apparent that the website's owner, A. J. Goldsby, is a fan of women chessplayers. The enterprising AJG writes that he (or she) entered into a correspondence with Elaine and/or members of her family, and was able to obtain information to fill out what he has previously reported at his website. I am a little confused by his reference to "Mrs. Richardson" - I don't know if he means this was Elaine Saunders Pritchard's name at the time he made his entry (as best I can tell, it was sometime after he received a letter on November 14, 2005) or if Mrs. Richardson is a relative of Elaine Saunders Pritchard who gave him the information in the letter. Elaine learned how to play chess from her father when she was 5. By age 8, she was beating good players - of course, there is no mention at all of how many hours of study and effort must have gone into her chess education. In addition to the information that Winters supplied, Goldsby indicates that Elaine was awarded the title of WIM in 1957, and won a silver medal (but he says he doesn't know what board) at the 1976 Chess Olympiad at Haifa; if my calculations are correct, she would have been 50 years old at the time. What an achievement - not because she was 50, although there aren't too many 50 year olds playing boards at Chess Olympiads these days! No, it was an achievement because it seems to be a crown to her long chess career, most of which us internet dependent folks won't ever know about because when people were writing about Elaine, there was no internet and the articles were mostly British newspapers and chess journals; to track down that information takes a lot of hard work and dedication. So, kudos to Winters and kudos to Goldsby for providing us with this glimpse into the chess life of Elaine Saunders. I did a little further research regarding the 1976 Chess Olympiad, since it may not have been available online at the time Goldsby wrote his web entry. The gold/silver/bronze by Women's Teams were won by: Israel, England and Spain. The English Women's Team consisted of: Jana Hartston (2230) on board 1 (she was British Women's Chess Champion LOTS of times), Sheila Jackson (2055) on board 2 (ditto), WIM Elaine Pritchard (2055) on board 3, and Susan Caldwell (2060), who played "reserve" but played eight games. Hartston had a performance percentage of 81.8 (9.0/11); Jackson 66.7 (6.0/9); Pritchard 62.5 (5.0/8); and Caldwell 50% (4.0/8). To put this silver medal into perspective, no British Women's Team has won ANY medal, before or since. So - Elaine Pritchard did win a Team Silver medal at the 1976 Chess Olympiad. This year Ms. Pritchard will be 81.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chess Prodigies

Here's an article from a Guyana newspaper about chess prodigies: Chess Fascinating chess prodigies With Errol Tiwari Sunday, May 13th 2007 We are fascinated by chess prodigies, and marvel at their intellectual capabilities. Quickly, we realize, they think differently from others. They rattle us with their tactics and their strategies, in games that can result in gigantic conceptions. They have this ability to synthesize and come up with an unexpected, unflawed sequence that separates them from others. Even though they are children, they can be beaten only by persons who are great chess players themselves. Prodigies can see certain inherent positions in a situation that less gifted intellects cannot begin to envisage. All of a sudden comes the unexpected thrust, the flash of vision, and it is a moment of intellectual and aesthetic beauty. A chess prodigy or a chess genius is allied to a genius in any art form. He aims for beauty; he takes a situation that is composed of materials available to everybody and by sheer imagination creates something unique and perfect, something that nobody could duplicate. Psychologists have been unable to explain such strokes of genius, but there it is-that combination of logic plus technique, plus intuition leading to a "coup de theatre" that stands in unflawed perfection. Experts say the four greatest prodigies in chess history have been Paul Morphy, Jose Raul Capablanca, Samuel Reshevsky and Bobby Fischer. But many others are in, or almost in that class. Henry Mecking for example, was champion of Brazil at 13, and at 14, he was the best player in South America. Morphy learnt chess at eight. At five, Capablanca was already a strong player. He defeated the Cuban chess champion at 12. Reshevsky began playing at four by watching his father play. At eight, he was already at Master strength. Fischer's sister taught him the moves of chess when he was six years old. Their mother bought a chess set and they puzzled out from the directions where to put what where. In his time Fischer became the youngest grandmaster ever at 15 years, six months and one day old. But over the years, because of new technology, with computers making it possible to learn and train faster, and being able to play strong foreign players over the internet, the records for youngest grandmasters have been shattered. Judit Polgar, among others, broke Fischer's record by becoming a grandmaster at 15 years, four months and 28 days old. Bu Xiangzhi from China became a grandmaster at 13 years, ten months. and Parimarjan Negi from India at 13 years, four months. The record is now held by Sergey Karjakin (Ukraine) at 12 years, seven months. Born in 1926, Elaine Saunders was a celebrated prodigy in the 1930s, and her exploits were well documented in British chess periodicals of the time. World champion Dr Alexander Alekhine played her in a simultaneous exhibition when she was 12, among 30 of Kent's strongest players. He called her a genius. After four and a half hours he had won all but three of the games. Saunders, at the time British girl champion, held to the very end, succumbing in a Rook and Pawn endgame in the very last game to finish. An onlooker in the crowd screamed: "Give the child a draw". But Alekhine said he knew what he was doing and continued playing for the win. All important players have an aptitude that shows up early. If a player these days has not made a reputation by the time he is 20, he will never do so; for chess is a young man's game, and the peak years are from 25 to 35. At home, in an effort to pursue local talent, the Guyana Chess Association in collaboration with the YMCA would be hosting a three-week chess camp for children and teenagers in July-August. The idea is to involve as many schools as possible in the Georgetown area. The association is hoping to attract about 60 participants from about one dozen schools. Each school's representatives would be requested to carry the game back to their respective schools so it could be popularized. At the same time, tutors would be on the alert for special talent. Thereafter, similar experiments would be carried out for schools in the rural areas. Rudolph Speilmann was one of the strongest players in the world in the 1920s and 1930s. This game is taken from a simultaneous exhibition that he gave. The British 12-year-old chess genius Elaine Saunders takes him apart in a Sicilian Defence. Rudolf Spielmann - Elaine Saunders Sicilian Defence 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 d6 5 c4 Nf6 6 Nc3 g6 7 Be2 Bg7 8 Be3 O-O 9 Nxc6 bxc6 10 h4 Qa5 11 Qd2 Ng4 12 h5 Nxe3 13 Qxe3 Qb4 14 Qd2 Be6 15 hxg6 fxg6 16 a3 Qc5 17 O-O-O Rxf2 18 b4 Qe5 19 White resigns. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Talk about synchronicity - just a few days ago I checked out The Parrot's column at Chessville and he wrote about Elaine Saunders too. That was the first time I've heard of her! I don't know how much information about Saunders is online, I'll check it out. She's certainly worth an article at Goddesschess.
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