Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Major Egyptian Find from Reign of Unas

Story from the BBC News December 23, 2008 Pair of tombs discovered in Egypt Egyptian archaeologists say they have discovered a pair of 4,300-year-old tombs that indicate a burial site south of Cairo is bigger than expected. The tombs at the Saqqara necropolis belong to two officials from the court of the Pharaoh Unas, Egypt's antiquities chief said. One was for the official in charge of quarries used for building pyramids, the other for the head of music. Hieroglyphics decorate the entrances of both the newly discovered tombs. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top archaeologist, told reporters that the tombs represented a "major" find. "The discovery of the two tombs are the beginning of a big, large cemetery," he said. New discoveries are frequently made at Saqqara, including the unearthing of the remains of a pyramid in November. Mr Hawass said 70% of Egypt's ancient monuments remain buried. "We are continuing our excavation and we are going to uncover more tombs in the area to explain the period of dynasty five and dynasty six," he added, referring to a period more than 4,000 years ago. The contents of the newly found tombs have long since been stolen, Mr Hawass said. The entrance of the tomb of the official in charge of music, Thanah, shows carved images of her smelling lotus flowers. The other official whose tomb was discovered, Iya Maat, oversaw the extraction of granite and limestone from Aswan and other materials from the Western Desert for the construction of nearby pyramids.

Ancient Macedonian Reference to Goddess Discovered

Story from MINA Breaking News January 1, 2009 Macedonia archeologists uncover 4,000 year old writing Uncovered are the first traces of the old Macedonian language in the country, says "Dr. Dushko Aleksovski, paleolinguistics professor and honorary president of the World Rock Art Academy. "This is a very rare artifact, the name of the Goddess Vesta is written on it. However, the first written name is Bsefa, which later became Vesta. This is the oldest artifact written in the old Macedonian language discovered on our territory." says Dr. Aleksovski. The 4,000 year old signs written on the lid of the clay artifact, according to Dr. Aleksovski, are considered as a monumental discovery, first of its kind and very important for the paleolinguistics. The discovery was made in central Macedonia, the precise location is being kept secret by the Government so the area doesn't get over run by archeological poachers looking for treasures and artifacts. //12.29.08

Chess Can Reduce Anxiety

Story from the San Francisco Chronicle Brain workout may help anxiety, study suggests Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, December 17, 2008 Could Sudoku be a balm for anxious people? A new study suggests that intellectually demanding challenges like crossword puzzles or chess may be more successful at keeping worry-prone people from worrying than supposedly relaxing pastimes like watching TV or shopping. Contrary to theories that "as things get harder, anxious people fall apart, this suggests it's the opposite way around," said UC Berkeley psychologist Sonia Bishop, lead researcher on the study published online this week by Nature Neuroscience. The study showed that anxious people performed just as well as others when facing tasks that demanded concentration, but they took more time than others to complete tasks that were easier, Bishop said. Their slower response time to challenges not requiring full attention was accompanied by reduced blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which serves as the brain's CEO in thinking, planning and active memory. The study indicated that anxious individuals have a weakened ability to block out distractions and that they might benefit from mindfulness training, which often uses meditation and stress-reduction exercises to help increase one's awareness and focus. "With some very popular therapies like mindfulness training, people aren't sure why they work," Bishop said. "This perhaps gives us a rationale for why they do." The results also challenge another explanation for why anxious people face day-to-day problems in concentration and work-related cognitive function, Bishop said. It has been argued that the "fight or flight" response center of the brain, the amygdala, overreacts to threat-related stimuli in anxious people, thus playing a central role in undermining concentration. But the new study suggests that attention-focusing ability in such individuals is impaired even when the amygdala is not extra-active, and thus their difficulties with concentration may be determined by a different mechanism, she said. The study consisted of simple letter-recognition tests given to 17 volunteers, ages 19 to 48, while blood flow to a section in the front of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was measured by magnetic resonance imaging. The volunteers, seven female and 10 male, were from Cambridge, England, where Bishop did research at the University of Cambridge before becoming an assistant professor at Berkeley in July. The results were scored according to the difficulty of the tests, including the distraction level of extraneous elements, and correlated to the volunteers' degree of anxiety. Surveys indicate that nearly a fifth of U.S. adults suffer from one or more anxiety disorders in a given year, Bishop noted in the study, titled "Trait anxiety and impoverished prefrontal control of attention."

2009 WSCF All Girls Tournament

Just in - news that the 2009 Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation All Girls Tournament will be held on February 28, 2009. Details will be provided within the next few weeks. Here is some background information about this special event, from the January, 2009 WSCF newsletter received by email earlier today: The Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation, a 5 year old 501(c) (3) non-profit is hosting its third annual All Girls Chess tournament on February 28th. We expect over 100 girls from throughout Wisconsin to participate. The first year we had 21 girls participate and last year close to 60 students. We have funds and are committed to award scholarships in the amounts of $300, $250 and $50 to the champion of each of the 3 divisions. The WSCF is looking to increase the level of scholarship support for this worthwhile tournament. Here are excerpts from the WSCF newsletter: I am writing on behalf of all girls in Wisconsin who play scholastic chess in clubs, leagues and tournaments. You may already be aware of the rapid growth of scholastic chess across the nation and that the typical ratio of male to female participation is 9 to 1. This ratio has been true for centuries and many studies have done on this subject. There is a national movement to have tournaments just for girls and we believe we are a leader in this effort and expect the size of this tournament to grow each year. You may also know the power of long term participation in the learning of chess can increase students intelligence, critical thinking, logical, self-esteem and spatial awareness. Again, many studies have proven this and the result most often cited is the immediate raising of math and reading test scores. You can read more about this on our website . You may especially want to look at the article "Chess Empowers Young Minds" and the video by National Geographic "My Brilliant Brain - Make me a Genius," which features the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title, Susan Polgar. The gifts of chess empowers young people of both sexes. The WSCF is proud to have as its mission the teaching of chess to students all across Wisconsin. The All Girls Tournament is just one of our many activities to promote chess as a powerful educational tool. One goal of the WSCF is to provide motivation for more girls to play chess and one way to do this is via the All Girls Tournament and the awarding of scholarships. We have committed what our resources allow at this time but would like to increase these amounts with grants and gifts from interested individuals, professional groups, foundations and corporations. One goal would be the awards given in each division to be $1000, $500 and $250 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The second part of this goal would be to grow the fund to be able to do this each year. One hundred percent of donations that WSCF receives marked scholarships are deposited into our scholarship trust account. Scholarships awarded are paid directly and only to the school of attendance of the recipient. Your support and others you know may help in being a catalyst for some young girl to commit to studying chess with the goal of winning scholarships to help make college affordable. If you would like more information, a visit to your office, or a presentation to a group of your colleagues please contact me at , at our P.O. Box or at 262-573-5624. If you would like to donate directly you can mail a check to our P.O. Box marked "all girls scholarship"; or donate via a credit card on our website. On behalf of present and future female chess students in Wisconsin I extend my appreciation. Sincerely, Bob Patterson-Sumwalt President/Founder Wish I'd hit a big jackpot in Las Vegas so I could spread around some largesse): As it is, my desire to help far outstrips my ability to provide financial wherewithal, but I will be making a contribution, and I hope you will, too. I'm going to take advantage of the online contribution to get one in before midnight tonight so I can get one more charitable deduction for tax year 2008. It's for a good cause and if you itemize your deductions on Form 1040 it will help to reduce your net income tax. This is one event I will be following closely - will pass along the tournament information as it becomes available!

Chess Princess: Nisha N Patkar

Story from Express Buzz (Karnataka) Shimoga girl excels in chess First Published : 31 Dec 2008 10:29:00 AM IST Last Updated : 31 Dec 2008 01:18:35 PM IST SHIMOGA: “I want to play with Grand Master Viswanathan Anand and I dream of becoming a woman grand master,” says Nisha, the young chess champion of Shimoga. Nisha N Patkar, daughter of Nagaraj and Barathi Patkars, has scaled new heights in the field of chess. Nisha, in the seventh standard at Jnanadeepa School, has participated in many state, national and international chess tournaments and carved out a niche for herself. Trained by national chess player Sri Krishna Udupa of Nalanda Chess Academy, she now holds 1845 rank in the FIDE. She was ranked 20th in the Asian Youth Chess Championship in 2005. She took part in the Commonwealth Chess championship and Nagpur Mayor’s Cup in 2008. She has participated in around 35 national-level chess championships. She also bagged the best player in U-9 national-level chess championship in 2004. She has won 4th place in the CBSE south zone national competition in 2005 and in U-12 Nationals held at Sangli in 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Photos from The Domes

It's pretty funny - dondelion and I were together the entire time we visited the Domes on Sunday 12/28 and I took 30 more photos than he did - of the same stuff! LOL! Here's a photo of dondelion taking a photo of the Domes :) The next photo is a view from the entry into the "Show Dome" featuring the winter/holidays exhibit. It's a veritable feast of eye-catching color and textures. There were lots of people seeing the Domes when we were there - a lot more people than I've ever seen there during previous visits. The revamp (as I understand it, sponsored by a private philanthropical organization) is a great success, the place looks great. A new light show (haven't seen it yet) has also been added thanks to the financial grant that enabled the revamp. The Domes have always been a spectacular sight across the Menomonee River Valley at night to traffic on the expressways and drivers using the viaducts on 6th, 16th, 27th and 35th Streets. They glow and seem to pulsate in the night air - sometimes suggesting the homes of the future (geodesic domes), sometimes suggesting something from outer space. With the addition of a circle of color lights around the "collar" of each of the Domes near their apex, they are even more noticeable than before. Ahhh, looking at the photo of the show makes me yearn for summer. It's gotten very nasty weather-wise here tonight. The temperature has plummeted, the winds are howling and my driveway is once again loaded with ice pellets and snow drifted to half a foot already (we're only supposed to get an inch or two of snow tonight - HA!) Tomorrow will be even worse. Windchills back to 20 below zero while I'm hiking to the bus stop in the morning. Argh! On the plus side, I'm now stuffed with the leftovers from last night's outing to Joey Buona's - chopped salad and a large Supreme Pizza. Oh, it was soooo good! Okay, the salad was a wee little bit soggy after more than 24 hours in the fridge here, but it was still delicious. And dondelion left four pieces of pizza for my supper. Now I'm sleepy. Time to wrap it up for the night.

Susan Polgar On Chess

GM Susan Polgar's December 26, 2008 column from the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal (Online): Polgar: A year-end recap of Texas Tech, SPICE and chess in Lubbock Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Friday, December 26, 2008Story last updated at 12/26/2008 - 3:38 pm First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year! Secondly, I would like to thank everyone for your support and for sending in so many wonderful comments. Here is a recap of just some of the SPICE activities and various chess events in Lubbock in the past 12 months: • Members of SPICE conducted various Chess Workshops (hosted by the TTU English Department) for LISD teachers and educators in Region 17. • The TTU Knight Raiders Chess Team and SPICE conducted the Super Saturday Chess classes for local youngsters over four Saturdays. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation organized and hosted the first ever Lubbock Open Scholastic (K-12) Championship with 109 participants at Monterey High School. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation hosted and conducted the Susan Polgar All-Star Chess Training for some of the most talented girls in America as well as the "Chess: It's a Girl Thing" Summer Camp at TTU. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation hosted the 5th annual Susan Polgar National Invitational Championship, the most prestigious all-girls national championship in the U.S., at the Frazier Pavilion. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation organized and hosted the 2008 SPICE CUP International Chess Festival. The main event was the SPICE Cup Invitational, the highest rated 10-player round robin International chess tournament in U.S. history. Another highlight of the festival was the Texas Women's Open Championship. • Visit Lubbock and the Susan Polgar Foundation donated two giant chess sets to the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport. They are being placed on each end of the passenger terminal for all travelers to use. Lubbock is the first airport to have done this. SPICE helped started or supported chess programs in numerous schools in the area, for example at Harwell Elementary (thanks to the support of the Lubbock Area Foundation), the All-Saints School, Centennial Elementary, Murfee Elementary and Premier High School. We continued our excellent collaboration with Lubbock ISD and Region 17 to promote chess in education. I had the opportunity to present SPICE, Texas Tech and Lubbock: • at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. • at the Chess in Education Seminar in Chicago • at the Raytheon's Innovation Day in Los Angeles • at the TCA workshop in Houston with Dr. Alexey Root of UTD • in Budapest, Hungary • in Dresden at the 2008 World Chess Olympiad • at the Chess & Technology Conference in San Luis, Argentina, organized by "Universidad de la Punta" SPICE, Texas Tech, and Lubbock also received plenty of promotion: • at the National Elementary (K-6) Chess Championship in Pittsburgh, PA • at the third annual Susan Polgar World Open for Boys and Girls in Las Vegas • at the 2008 U.S. Open in Dallas • at the Chess Grand Slam Final in Bilbao, Spain • at the National K-12 Championship in Orlando, Fla. In the past year, through the Susan Polgar Foundation, we have given out hundreds of chess sets, chess boards, chess DVDs, chess curriculum, etc. to many of the local schools. Last but not least, Lubbock and Texas Tech received the prestigious "2008 Chess City of the Year" and "2008 Chess College of the Year" awards by the United States Chess Federation. Please keep questions and comments coming by e-mailing me at See also and for more information.

Dronavalli Harika Wins Arjuna Award

Excerpted from The Times of India Sport on! 31 Dec 2008, 0000 hrs IST, RUBINA A KHAN , TNN Check mate Chess-wonder Dronavalli Harika from the Guntur district holds the titles of Woman Grandmaster and International Master, and has been given the Arjuna Award. Her feats this year include the Girl's title at the World Junior Chess Championship in Turkey.

A New Year Resolution - To Learn Chess

A great idea! Make A Resolution to Stick To Last Update: 5:43 pm Web produced by: Jessica Noll Whether you are vowing to take up a hobby, get fit, learn a new skill, read more, become more computer literate, volunteer your time or get your GED in the New Year, the Kenton County Public Library can help with your resolution. Always wanted to learn to play chess? Here is your chance! The Mary Ann Mongan Library in Covington will offer a two-part Chess Class Saturdays, Jan. 17 and 31, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The class for children in first grade through adults will teach the basics such as pieces, point values, rules and moves. The Covington location also offers Chess Club for children in grades K-12 every Thursday from 3-5 p.m. It’s open to all skill levels.

As I Said Before - It's a Numbers Game

This isn't news - just further confirmation of earlier studies that I wrote about at Goddesschess some time ago. Women are NOT inferior to men when it comes to playing chess, it's just that the relative sample of women who do play is so much smaller than that for men, the statistics get skewed. Women players distribute across a classic "Bell curve" the same way that male players do, it's just that theirs is a LOT smaller. Chess isn't necessarily about testosterone or spatial perception, or even "superior" intelligence. Women do and can play as well as men, and will achieve equal levels of GMs and IMs with the guys - if we can somehow as a world manage to get to that "critical mass" of female chessplayers where the players that possess the skills required for chess reach equal levels. There is still a long way to go. So, darlings, don't be fooled by the folks who say that women can't play chess, or that women don't play chess as well as men, or whatever blah blah blah about the supposed "inferiority" of women when it comes to playing chess. It's a lot of baloney and fear on the part of the folks spewing forth these misleading statements (at best) or downright lies (at worst) about female chessplayers.

Chess Life Magazine January, 2009

Hola darlings! Damn, it is COLD outside. I was pelted smack in the kisser with sleety iceballs all the way home from the bus stop - 3/4th of a mile of sheer hell that would test the mettle of the most stalwart. Ach, I'm sounding like Hemingway - better stop now! The January 2009 issue of Chess Life magazine from USCF arrived in the mail today and there is one hot cover photo of a suited-up Gregory Kaidanov, he is just smoking in that photo! Well done to whomever took that photo, it's a great shot. The shot on the lead pages of the article (267-27) was nice too, but done in black and white. There was an equally fine shot of Jen Shahade on page 37 in the Hip Hop Variation article (about RZA's efforts to promote chess), also in black and white. Mostly I skip through Chess Life, because I do not play through any of the games or read any of the analysis, not being a "serious" chessplayer but a hopeless case -- my interest in chess stems from admiration for the people who actually play the game for something other than occasional amusement! I stop at photos that I find admirable and will read through an article occasionally if it about the ancient origins of the game, about a female or females playing chess or one of my favorite players. Now, I did not read this article, on the 2008 Women's World Championship by GM Pal Benko, but I will spend some time looking it over later because I admired his honesty in writing this - his lead-in says: As a conflict took place between Russian and Georgian troops, the women's world championship lost competitors to the political fallout. One consequence is the imprecision of many of the championship level end-games. I look forward to going over his insights in this article. I noticed last month - and again this month - in large ads, the 2009 National Open is not going to be held at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas in June! Why the hell not? What is, exactly, the "South Point Hotel" - the new venue? Off strip and out of the way and inconvenient! Ach! I think this is a big mistake, but hopefully the rooms will be LOTS cheaper for the patzer players who fork over their entry fees to pay for the prizes won by the big guns, and everyone will be happy - and, come to think of it - maybe some of those overweight dudes will walk off some of their bellies trekking to and from the South Point to the Strip, where all the action still, truly, is!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mitchell Park Domes!

Hola darlings! Today dondelion and I visited Mother Newton and later we visited the newly revamped Domes! It was much colder today than yesterday, brrrr. Yesterday was a day of rain and fog and massive amounts of melting snow! Then yet another weather system came through late last night or very early this morning - WHOOSH! - and it was back to Winter! Fortunately for us, the melt-off yesterday melted all of the accumulated snow from Christmas Eve Day! It was something amazing, actually. When the taxi pulled up to the house the evening of 12/26 bringing us home from the airport, the roads in the subdivision were still snow-covered and slippery. But it was already warming up amazingly, and the snow-caused fog was even then getting thicker by the moment. Indeed, by Saturday morning the Milwaukee airport was intermittently closed due to poor visibility. Today dawned cold and bright and crisp. We headed out around 10 AM and got back home about 5 PM. The Domes have been newly revamped! The metal structures of the geodesic domes were reinforced and damaged triple-pane glass replaced here and there -- restoring more than 40 years wear and tear! The interior public spaces were revamped too. The bathrooms were totally redone and enlarged, very nice (well, at least the ladies' room was very nice, dondelion didn't notice anything in particular about the mens' room! The ladies room had new sinks and stalls, and additional space, new flooring, and a new paint job.) The terracotta tiled floors were restored and/or redone in parts, everything got repainted, the ceiling was totally replaced, new lighting and benches were put into place, the admissions booth was relocated to the center of the entrance rather than the right side, the doors were replaced, the gift shop was relocated. And - get this - the admission price was lowered! I remember distinctly the last visit dondelion and I had to the rather sad and worn looking Domes - although the interior presentations of the Domes was still as fantastic as ever! I don't exactly remember the admission charge, but I know it was a bit more than $7 each. Now the admission has been lowered to $5 -- or maybe it was just lowered for the holidays? -- I hope the lowered admission is permanent because the displays in the Domes are spectacular and at $5 many more people will come. Indeed, there were lots of people there today when we arrived, shortly before 2:30 PM. The line moved quickly and I was really impressed with the improvements in the appearance of the place. More tomorrow. It's late here, I have to work tomorrow early, I'm working on my laptop after my wireless network crashed on 12/24 - I don't EVEN want to go there, darlings. Time to call it a night.

Happy Holidays - Whew!

What a whirlwind the past few days have been, whew! We're back home from Las Vegas and decompressing. We were fortunate in getting out of Milwaukee only about 2.5 hours behind schedule on Christmas Eve day! It started snowing early, and the cab driver on the way back on on 12/26 said we got between 12 and 15 inches (I believe it). Anyway, we arrived late in LV but the hotel we stayed at (Imperial Palace) had very nice rooms, both of us were comfortable and well looked after by the very friendly staff. More about our LV stay later. We spent Christmas Day at Isis' place and had brunch there, and watched happy Christmas movies until we suddenly had to run back to the Venetian to get our seat assignments for the Christmas Night show of "Phantom of the Opera." Wow - more about that later too. Then we had a rather interesting late dinner (10:30 p.m.) at what was billed as a top-notch Italian restorante - well, it wasn't quite what we had in mind - more about that later... The flight back home on 12/26 left LV on time and arrived in Milwaukee on time - wonderful! The weather - eek! Here is a photo of Mother Newton's Christmas Tree (we visited today).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Arab Women's Chess Championship

Arab Chess Championship: Egypt’s Mona Khaled Takes Lead Correspondent 23 December 2008 SHARJAH - Mona Khaled of Egypt is in commanding position in the Arab Women Chess Championship after taking a full point lead with 3 rounds to go after defeating Hamza Amira of Algeria. Mona is at the top of the table with 5.5 points. Women: Hamza Amira (3.5) lost to Mona Khaled (5.5); Mouradian Knarik (4.5) bt Latreche Sabrina (4); Mezioud Amina (3) lost to Mir Mahmoud Afamia (4.5); Essa Kulood (3.5) drew with Algildah Nibal (3.5); Fuad Natalie (3.5) drew with Jelda Fatma (3.5); Salem Amna (2) lost to Basil Ziana (3.5); Nouman (2.5) lost to Mona (3).

AICF to Host Women's International Tournament in 2009

AICF has announced it will host a women's international tournament in 2009: From The Tuesday, December 23, 2008 International women’s open MANGALORE: The All India Chess Federation (AICF) secretary, D.V. Mr. Sundar said the AICF would conduct an international open tournament exclusively for women next year. “Mangalore could host the tournament,” he added. “Though women could play in the various open international tournaments, we feel by conducting an exclusive international event for them, we could promote the women’s sport better. “We will bring Woman Grandmasters from abroad for the tournament.” — Principal Correspondent

More Shoveling... A Holiday Hiatus

It was a mere 10 below zero F tonight on the walk home and, now being sufficiently thawed out, I have to once again don the down filled coat, hat, two scarves, gloves and over-mittens to shovel out the drifts from yesterday's fierce windstorm. It's supposed to start snowing again later tonight, and I want to get this out of the way while I can. I've got the pot roast going in the slow cooker, 4 hours tonight, 2 hours tomorrow night and then on warm until dondelion arrives, Goddess willing, right on time (around 7 PM by taxi from the airport). I've still got to scrub the bathrooms and vacuum - and wrap gifts for various people at the office that I will haul in tomorrow morning. The temperature is supposed to moderate tomorrow and creep into the mid-20's F - a heat wave. No down coat tomorrow, back to the fiber-filled jacket and tall boots - there are still lots of drifts on the sidewalks that haven't been removed by weary homeowners and the streets are a mess - the city is having the same problem as moi - nowhere to go with the snow! I won't be blogging at all from Las Vegas - assuming we get there. Between tonight and Wednesday we may accumulate as much as 10 additional inches of snow, and the winds, much calmer today (up to 10 mph) than yesterday (sustained at 20-30 mph, with guest at 40 mph and over), are once again supposed to pick up. So - dondelion and my trip to visit Isis and Michelle in Las Vegas is in the Goddess' capable hands. If there aren't any new posts here for 4-5 days, don't run away darlings, I'll be back! Happy Holidays to all of our readers and fans. We appreciate your support and comments and emails. Now it's time to pull out the shovel and work some more at whittling my waistline down :)

Santa v. Rudolph Grudge Match

From the Muskogee Published December 22, 2008 06:45 pm - Chess battle at North Pole By Eric Morrow Sunday, Dec. 21, was the solstice and the first day of Hanukkah. It also marked the date of the much anticipated grudge match between Santa Claus and Rudolph. The source of the tension was their draw at the North Pole Championship in September. The game ended in a time scramble, as hoof and hand pounded the clock after each move. Rudolph fouled in the scramble when the compact horn on his front right hoof touched a pawn before moving his queen out of danger. The elves and reindeer inhaled as one but Santa moved before the arbiter could compel Rudolph to move his pawn, as required by the touch move rule. On Santa’s next move he, too, accidentally touched the wrong piece, as he reached to check Rudolf with his rook Santa’s sleeve brushed against his king. Dancer and Dasher burst out “Touch move!” But Rudolpf moved his king out of check before the arbiter again acted. Since then, Santa and Rudolph have been taunting each other with trash talk. A small, vocal minority of elves hinted that they can prove that Rudolph secretly got computer assistance when he went outside in the snow to relieve himself. Comet wrote a piece for the “Daily Pole” that Santa just got lucky. Vixon and Sugarplum Mary only fanned the flames when they joined forces and began taking bets. At sundown the match began. The first to win a game won the match. The first two games were hard fought draws. In the third game, however, Santa underestimated black’s attacking potential and failed on his previous move to trade his bishop on b2 for black’s knight at e5. With this hint in mind please try to find how Rudolph mated Santa in two moves. [No board diagram was included in the online version of the article, unfortunately, so we can't see how the pieces were aligned on the board]. Black’s bishop on b8, knight on e5 and queen on f4 are all posed to act in concert. Rudolph struck up the tune by moving his knight to f3, checking white. Black now threatens mate on h2 with its queen supported by either its bishop or knight. Because Santa is in check, he must either take the knight or retreat his king to h1. One way or another the queen next mates on h2. After Rudolph’s knight check on f3, Santa resigned. He took Rudolph’s hoof in hand and said, “Well done. And to all a good night.”
Don't let the author fool you with the references to "hoof" and "horn" - I think the Rudolph he's talking about is actually a coy reference to WIM Anna Rudolf of Hungary, who played in the Dresden Olympiad for Hungary Women's Team. Note the queen's mate attack :) Santa is recently widowed and word has it that he's making a list and checking it twice, looking for a new mate:) It's a wise man who knows that the way to a woman's heart is through a good mating dance. Ho ho ho.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2008 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship of India

From The - Round 4 Report. Five players currently tied with 2.5/4. Current leader is Kruttika Nadig with 3.0/4. December 22, 2008 Kruttika outplays Swati, in sole lead Kamesh Srinivasan NEW DELHI: Kruttika Nadig sailed past former champion Swati Ghate in the fourth round of the Parsvnath 35th National ‘A’ women’s chess championship at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture here on Sunday. Kruttika played the closed Sicilian with a rare touch of authority to cruise home in 31 moves, for her third win of the tournament. Kruttika is the sole leader with three points, while defending champion Tania Sachdev, Amrutha Mokal, Eesha Karavade, Mary Ann Gomes and Soumya Swaminathan were breathing down her neck with 2.5 points each. On a lively day, when five of the six games were decisive, Kruttika took the cake with her crafty handling of a sharp variation. “I sacrificed a pawn to gain initiative. Eventually, I not only got the pawn back but also a strong positional advantage. I usually don’t play this, but had prepared it in the morning,” said Kruttika. Eesha beats Soumya The fine run of Soumya hit a speed-breaker in the form of Eesha. “I surprised her with the French opening, but she played badly,” said WGM Eesha, after her 34-move demolition of the overnight leader. Amrutha continued to fight hard despite her constant trouble with time. In fact, the lesser the time on her clock, the better she played, as she check-mated the better-rated Padmini Rout in 32 moves. Tania back on track Tania of Air-India revived her fortunes with a clinical performance against last year’s runner-up Kiran Manisha Mohanty. She galloped on an active knight in the end game, against her opponent’s frozen bishop, to grab a crucial point. Asian junior champion Mary consolidated her position with a victory over Pon N. Krithika in 49 moves. The results (fourth round): Amrutha Mokal 2.5 bt Padmini Rout 1; Kruttika Nadig 3 bt Swati Ghate 2; Nisha Mohota 1.5 drew with Bhakti Kulkarni 1; Mary Ann Gomes 2.5 bt Pon N. Krithika 1.5; Tania Sachdev 2.5 bt Kiran Manisha Mohanty 1; Soumya Swaminathan 2.5 lost to Eesha Karavade 2.5.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

The weather notwithstanding! Despite the dire economic news that is pounding on us nearly non-stop, I am a happy person and filled with the holiday spirit. Someone else is, too... another Golden Eagle has shown up in a Salvation Army pot. From NPR: In Fla., A Mystery, Annual Gift To Salvation Army Listen Now [2 min 1 sec] All Things Considered, December 17, 2008 · For the third year in a row, a Liberty Eagle gold coin worth almost $1,000 was dropped in a Salvation Army kettle. Each time, the coin has been accompanied by a small note, "In memory of Mimi." Megan Spears, resource management director of The Salvation Army of Lee County, Fla., talks about the donation.
The red kettles showed up earlier than usual this year, because the need is greater than ever. I put a dollar in every kettle I pass, and I pass then quite often because there are kettles at both the local Walgreens and Pick 'n Save supermarket that I visit nearly every night after work for something or other. If everyone could put in a small contribution each time they pass a red kettle, Salvation Army would maybe receive enough money to help everyone who needs it through fiscal 2009. These are scary times; you do what you can do and thank Goddess for your blessings, and try to share what you can with others less fortunate, having faith than in due course things will change for the better.

Unique at Chesstique: Chessly Gifts

If you're looking for a last minute chessly gift, or something unique for yourself, please check out our boutique at Chesstique, featuring unique chessly designs by dondelion and Isis. Not the usual stuff. Here is one of Isis' gorgeous hand-made cloth chessboards, this one with satine ribbon, velvetine and gold braided trim. Standard 8x8 playing surface. Several one of a kind pre-made boards are offered, or contact Isis and she'll make up a custom order according to your specifications. We also offer tee-shirts and hoodies for men, women and kids, tote bags, coffee mugs, and various other goodies with our unique Goddesschess designs.

Mysterious La Palma Stone

Story from No estimate of age of these findings was given in the story - not even a hint. I found that rather odd. Also note the reference to tourists already showing up in the area because of publicity (?) given to these recent finds, and how the regional authorities are already geared up for an influx of tourists, busy training guides and setting up rest-stops and food vendors! Hmmmm... I guess I just have a suspicious mind. The "stone" is interesting - no way of telling from the photograph how big it actually is (no size was given in the story), but it looks large - and long. At first I thought it was a vertical carving, like on a cliff face (the story did mention caves), but after looking at it more closely I see mountains on the horizon with sky above, so this rock or stone is laying horizontally on the ground. All the easier to carve??? I see what looks like a grid of lines (for a board game?) (upper portion) and what look like cup holes (lower portion), in addition to a sort of zig-zag line that ends in what looks sort of like an angular figure-eight (center of stone, lower portion). Petroglyphs, ceramics, dwellings and cave art found in Amazonas, Peru Bagua Grande, Dec. 16 (ANDINA).- Petroglyphs, dwellings with vaulted niches, ceramics and cave art were discovered during cleaning works in Pachallama hill, located in the village of La Palma, in Jamalca-Utcubamba (Peru’s Amazonas), according to researchers who arrived in the zone. Elvis Chugna, archaeologist and member of the research group of the Sub-regional Directorate of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Bagua-Utcubamba, said that these findings have been confirmed by a recent expedition sent to this zone. He recalled that a first expedition group, integrated by local authorities and of the provincial municipality of Utcubamba, has recently reported this finding. Chugna indicated that the petroglyph includes a group of elements which designs can be viewed according to the sun’s position; in the morning, some geometric shapes can be seen, and at noon, and sunset others figures emerge. In the zone, several caves have been also found with ceramics, thermal waters, fossil mollusks, and impressive flora and fauna, besides of a great variety of orchids. In turn, Benedicto Perez Goicochea, coordinator of the area’s tourist circuit denominated Pachallama, said that due to this discovery, 124 tourists have already visited the zone who have been properly registered in a visitor book. He said that an accommodation is fitted out for tourists that arrive in this place, located three kilometers far from Pachallama hill. The food and security are in charge of peasant patrols of the zone. Pérez also indicated that community members are organized and they continue with the cleaning works. About five hectares have been cleared in the zone (covered of lush vegetation) finding evidences as the petroglyph, which is a stone with engravings and geometric designs that inhabitants denominate the mysterious stone of La Palma. Elkin Herrera, director of the Sub-regional Directorate of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Bagua-Utcubamba, said that a series of activities have been launched in La Palma village such as courses of orientation and training of people, who have been organized as tourist guides. (END) APV/JOT/GCJ/LVT
One other note - there was only one other photograph of a find from this discovery - photograph two in the Andina article shows a partially re-assembled piece of pottery. Again, no age given. There were no photographs of the "cave art" or "vaulted niches" inside the caves. I understand that a newspaper has limited space to present a story - but why show a broken piece of pottery when you could show a cave painting instead? This all seems rather strange to me, and more than a bit suspicious.

Bronze Hoard Discovered at Cuzco

From 277 bronze artifacts found at Archaeological Park of Sacsayhuaman Cusco, Dec. 17 (ANDINA).- Skilled workers and professional staff of Peru's National Institute of Culture in Cusco (INC) founded 277 bronze artifacts (champi) when conducting archaeological research at the Archaeological Park of Sacsayhuaman located on the outskirts of Cusco 179 plumbs (cylindrical cone-shaped weights) of different types and 98 nose rings were discovered inside the enclosure No. 06 of the archaeological site of Inkacárcel that, according to preliminary investigations, was a warehouse or "qolqa". The director of the archeological park, Washington Camacho, said that these artifacts were found with decomposed human remains, and burned products such as corn, among others. He highlighted the importance of this discovery, which would confirm the hypothesis that Incas had different methods of construction used to build their houses, and employed high-quality techniques to control vertical alignments of their buildings. (END) NDP/PZA/JOT/

Orion over Mount Nemrut (Turkey)

A breathtaking photo. See the larger photo for its full impact. Orion Dawn Over Mount Nemrut Credit & Copyright: Tunç Tezel (TWAN) Explanation: What's that in front of Orion? Forty kilometers north of Kahta, Turkey, lies Mount Nemrut, a mountain adorned with the fragments of vast statues built over 2000 years ago. The stone sculptures once stood nearly 10 meters high and depicted lions, eagles, various ancient gods, and King Antiochus I Theos, who ruled Commagene from 86 BC to 38 BC. Ruins of the bodies of several sitting figures are visible on the hill above, illuminated by moonlight. Zeus' head can be found near the above image's center, while the king's head is seen next closest to the horizon. Visible far in the distance in this image, taken three months ago, is the familiar constellation of Orion. The red patch just below Orion's belt is the Orion Nebula, while the bright star to the left of Orion is Sirius. On the far left, a red and brightening horizon announces that the Sun is beginning to rise.

Something Wrong with this Picture...

Is it only me, or is there something wrong with this picture? Why are these chess dudes (2008 Nanjing), only one of whom is Chinese, all dressed in these 21st fantasy versions of the Mao jacket? YECHY - and damn scary, too! What does this say about the modern Chinese mentality? Reminds me of the Borg - EEK! Now that's really scary! (Photo from Susan Polgar's excellent blog)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh no, it's snowing again...

It's begun - the snow - but current forecast calls for a mere 1-3" tonight, an additional inch tomorrow with possibly another inch accumulating after 6 PM tomorrow night. The big story is strong winds and plunging temperatures that have not hit - yet - but are in the forecast through noon on Monday. Great, just great. That means I get to walk to the bus stop Monday morning in -40F winds with blowing frozen snow slapping me in the face the entire 3/4 mile.
I thought I'd look for some long underwear - can't get it delivered in time for Monday morning's trek, of course, but it would be a wise wardrobe addition for January, February, March and April, which is roughly the span of winter in Wisconsin in addition to November and December. Sigh. I found these red and white striped very cute long johns - but don't dare wear them unless you weigh less than 100 pounds and are at least 5'10" tall. Obviously not made for anything remotely resembling a REAL American woman like yours truly, LOL!

Blast from the Past: Kramnik the Lucky Loser

Chess News by Jude Acers from March 27, 2000. London, England. World top five chess grandmaster V. Anand of India has shocked the chess world today by rejecting a two million dollar ($2,000,000) -16 game match with world number one rated superstar G. Kasparov. Mr. Anand reportedly demanded $300,000 from the fund being held in escrow in advance , withdrew when the cash did not arrive. Mr. Malcolm Pein (The Daily Telegraph) reports that V. Kramnik of Russia will be offered the challenger's role with launch date April 5, 2000 for all arrangements....the startling developments today complete the near miracle luck of Mr. Kramnik, now guaranteed $665,000 loser's purse and the Kasparov match in one of the apparently great rip-offs of all time --.Mr. Kramnik was badly beaten, losing two and drawing 8, winning NONE versus superstar A. Shirov for a Kasparov match two years ago...Readers will recall that Mr. Kramnik WAS PAID A REPORTED 200,000 FOR LOSING, Mr. Shirov left with huge bills, received nothing for winning when world number one Kasparov disappeared with collapse of the "guaranteed 3 million dollar" Kasparov-led match arrangements. Mr. Shirov, ALREADY deprived of one million dollars PLUS a match with Kasparov earned one thousand times over, must now only watch in agony as fate robs him of everything anew. Mr. Shirov, probably a de-facto world chess champion after defeating all of the top three available chess players in MONACO last week ( including Anand, Kramnik, Karpov etc. with a tremendous first place score: 14.5/22 in the Melody Amber half blindfold play/half rapid event, is so far quite the most unlucky chess grandmaster in history...
With the FIDE-imposed rule changes regarding the Grand Prix and the creation of a new eight-player tournament to determine a challenger to Anand for the world title, Kramnik will have yet another kick at the can without having earned it. Most everyone who has commented on the matter assumes that the Russians will come through with a bid for the event and nominate Kramnik as their man to play.
What's the old saying - the more things change, the more they stay the same...

2008 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship of India

The Indian press is giving enthusiastic coverage to the National 'A' Women's Chess Championship this year - the best yet, I'd say. Perhaps the fantastic year that Indian chess stars have had, including the successful defending of his world chess champion title by GM Vishy Anand, has fired the press up as never before, and interest is at an all-time high in chess across the country. I love seeing this kind of enthusiasm for the game I love, particularly for a chess femme event. Here is a sampling of article that cropped up in a news search a few minutes ago: Kruttika defeats Bhakti Hindu, India - 1 hour ago NEW DELHI: Kruttika Nadig took the long route to victory against former National junior champion Bhakti Kulkarni in the third round of the Parsvnath 35th ... Amrutha holds Soumya in Parsvnath National Women Chess Bombay News, India - 5 hours ago Maharashtra's Amrutha Mokal held overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan to a creditable draw on the top table in the third round of ongoing Parsvnath 35th ... Amrutha holds Soumya in Parsvnath National Women Chess SINDH TODAY, Pakistan - 6 hours ago New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) Maharashtra’s Amrutha Mokal held overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan to a creditable draw on the top table in the third round of ... Amrutha holds Soumya in Parsvnath National Women Chess, Thailand - 7 hours ago New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) Maharashtra’s Amrutha Mokal held overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan to a creditable draw on the top table in the third round of ... Tania, Amrutha held at National Women championship Indiatimes, India - 8 hours ago 20 Dec 2008, 1833 hrs IST, PTI NEW DELHI: Defending champion Tania Sachdev was once again held to a draw, while overnight leader Soumya Swaminathan also ... Soumya stuns Tania Hindu, India - 22 hours ago NEW DELHI: Soumya Swaminathan surprised defending champion Tania Sachdev with her clean calculation under time-pressure to emerge as the leader after two ... Here's the first article from The Hindu. The writer enthusiastically conveyed the excitement and tension of Round 3, which was keenly fought by all of the chess femmes. Sport - Chess Kruttika defeats Bhakti Kamesh Srinivasan (File photo: Kuttika Nadig) NEW DELHI: Kruttika Nadig took the long route to victory against former National junior champion Bhakti Kulkarni in the third round of the Parsvnath 35th National ‘A’ women’s chess championship at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture here on Saturday. With the leader Soumya Swaminathan being held to a draw by a gutsy Amrutha Mokal, the 20-year-old Kruttika had reasons to be satisfied with her position, half point behind. “It was a very funny game,” observed Kruttika. Complicated position After the Slav Defence had led to a complicated position, Kruttika conceded that she tried ‘all kinds of tricks’, to find a breakthrough. Eventually, she had two bishops against a rook, but combined her queen with the bishops to wreak havoc and swallowed the rook as well. Kruttika could have sealed the match with a bishop move on the 62nd turn, but drove the enemy king all over the board before executing the checkmate in 73 moves. “I sacrificed to gain tempo, but she made some mistakes and lost,” said Kruttika, even as she agreed that she did not play the best moves, owing to time trouble. Three-time Asian junior champion Mary Ann Gomes, grappling with a bout of cold, bolstered her sagging morale with a 37-move victory over last year’s runner-up Kiran Manisha Mohanty. “It was a very tough game. She had an attack, but once it failed, my pieces became active. I gained material advantage too. “I should not have let the match drift for so long. There should have been a better option,” said Mary. She took her tally to 1.5 points with the victory in 37 moves. Swati Ghate was also happy to get back to winning ways after an error in the second round when she had to endure the ignominy of being check-mated following a hasty king move. The 28-year-old sacrificed to gain momentum, but did not have to work hard on her strategy for long as her opponent blundered the queen and lost her way. “I could have played a better course, but there is a long way ahead,” said Swati. Time trouble Soumya played as well as she could, but found dark horse Amrutha a tough nut to crack, despite the latter facing her usual enemy, time trouble. At one stage, Soumya took so much time to plan her course, nearly 20 minutes for a move, that there was hardly any difference in the clock of the two. “She played very well. There was nothing much I could do,” said the 19-year-old Soumya who had upset defending champion Tania Sachdev in the second round. The 22-year-old Tania revealed her craft in holding WGM Eesha Karavade to a draw in 53 moves, despite being a pawn less in a knight against bishop end-game. Pon N. Krithika continued to impress with her understanding of Ruy Lopez, as she snatched half a point from WGM Nisha Mohota in a 36-move encounter. The results (third round): Soumya Swaminathan (2.5) drew with Amrutha Mokal (1.5); Eesha Karavade (1.5) drew with Tania Sachdev (1.5); Kiran Manisha Mohanty (1) lost to Mary Ann Gomes (1.5); Pon N. Krithika (1.5) drew with Nisha Mohota (1); Bhakti Kulkarni (0.5) lost to Kruttika Nadig (2); Swati Ghate (2) bt Padmini Rout (1). Fourth round pairings: Amrutha-Padmini; Kruttika-Swati; Nisha-Bhakti; Mary-Krithika; Tania-Kiran; Soumya-Eesha.

It's DONE! (for now...)

The driveway is finished! I got back from the store at 1:40 PM and shoveled for another hour and 10 minutes and it's finished! This go-round I didn't even crack a sweat.
I stocked up on nuts for the squirrels and goodies for me and a meaty pot roast with fixings that I will make in the slow cooker Monday nigh, store overnight in the fridge (the inner crock pot removes from the heating element and has a glass dome cover) and finish up Tuesday night in anticipation of dondelion's arrival. Nothing better than having a good home-cooked meal and a tall glass of wine and warm rolls waiting for one after a long hard day of traveling. What can I say - I spoil the man rotten :)

Saturday Morning and No Heart Attack!

Hola darlings! I've survived the storm - now another one is on the way. New bulges on the arms - I tell you, I WILL have Popeye arms in another week or two if this keeps up. This new storm will be a doozy, not so much because of the amount of snow that is expected (maximum a mere 7") but because of strong winds and plunging temperatures that will push sustained windchills to 35 to 40 below zero F starting later tonight, and all day tomorrow. Blowing and drifting snow is expected to cause major travel hazards locally and white-out conditions. So, I've got a lot more to do today before the storm hits - it's already noon! I got behind the time when Isis called from Las Vegas - where more snow is forecast! We chatted for a good hour at least. I slept in today, did not get up until 7:30 AM, eek! I've been shoveling. Got out at 9 AM and put in a good hour this morning in addition to the initial 40 minutes yesterday and then an hour and 15 minutes later yesterday, moving the heaviest of the snow -- clearing out the base of the driveway where the plow piled up chunks of ice and hard snow to 4 feet deep. Here's what my driveway looks like at present:

You can now barely see the mail and newspaper boxes from the front stoop now (compare to photos taken 24 hours ago) The fresh layer of snow that accumulated over the past 24 hours is also clearly visible - ha, the weather dude said "no accumulation" expected from lake effect snow, which I ALWAYS get.

The driveway is now much narrower since the last shovel-out and is also "crooked" - lol! There are also decided curves in the cleared area although my driveway is a straight shot from the road. Well, it was hard to judge where to plunge the shovel into the snow banks to start shoveling yesterday when the snow was still blowing in my face. Once I get the rest of the bulk shoveled away (starting where the shovel is buried) closest to the house and garage door (probably another hour's worth of steady hard work), I will whittle away on the sides of the snow banks to widen out the driveway area and attempt to straighten out the curves. I don't need to do this, of course, since there is no car parked in the garage that I need to drive in and out. But it's damn good exercise, both aerobic and muscle-wise. Since I'm not walking anymore during lunch-hours I need to get in what exercise I can, when I can. I still want to get down to the weight I was in November, 2003, the last time delion and I visited Las Vegas. The scale keeps fluctuating - I either have to lose 5 lbs. or 3 lbs., depending on what time of the day it is. Can I do it? Assuming we can get out of Milwaukee on 12/24, I've only got a few more days to lose those last pounds! Eek! The left shoulder is aching again - I'm very mindful of not wanting to tear my rotator cuff, so I try to get equal time in on the right shoulder, but despite my best efforts there is just no comparison.

But first I've got to hike down to the supermarket and get a few things, some wine (for moi) and nuts (for the critters), and start stocking in food for dondelion's visit, assuming he can get here. Weather is very iffy in both Montreal and Milwaukee for his Tuesday flight, we're crossing out fingers. I won't be stirring outdoors at all tomorrow other than to shovel off the deck for the critters, the weather is supposed to be that bad. The forecasters are already warning about the mini-blizzard conditions, which is bad enough. It's the 35 to 40 below zero F temperatures that most bother me. My hands freeze up in nothing flat despite investing this season in supposedly super-duper thermal gloves. Ha! Fraud! Well - at least they have a waterproof outer coating which comes in handling when shoveling because with the winds whipping around I get lots of blowback - mostly in the face but on the hands and jacket too. Arghhh! Okay - time to get a move on. Have much cleaning and then doing Goddesschess stuff to do before I'll be back here blogging. Right now, time to put the boots back on and bundle back up and head to the Pick 'n Save. I do not look forward to battling the mad crowds there, which there are sure to be! Heave Ho, Jan. Time to brave the elements once again...

Furry Friends

The squirrels are out in force this morning - no doubt they can anticipate the new storm blowing in that may dump another 7" of snow here starting later on this afternoon, yech! Here are three different visitors all within a minute of each other: (1) on a thin branch (nice view of my neighbors' shed and backyard :)) (2) Ninja squirrel - demonstrating her stealth and wary mode (3) and (4) are the same cheeky little gal - she's covered in snow because she loves to dig deep in the snow. I missed a great shot of just her tail sticking up out of a deep hole, lol! I whistled my presence at the patio door and she came up out of the hole and made a beeline for me. She's checking me out with the camera - not sure what the heck it is, but she grabbed a nut anyway and then paused long enough at the top of the edge of the snow for me to grab the final shot. You can see the fresh snow that fell after I shoveled the deck yesterday morning and all of the critters' paw prints all over the place - as well as their pathways from the trees up to the partially excavated deck.

Friday, December 19, 2008

King Tut's Father Identified

At least, Zahi Hawass says so :) King Tut's Father ID'd in Stone Inscription Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News Dec. 17, 2008 -- An inscribed limestone block might have solved one of history's greatest mysteries -- who fathered the boy pharaoh King Tut. "We can now say that Tutankhamun was the child of Akhenaten," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News. The finding offers evidence against another leading theory that King Tut was sired by the minor king Smenkhkare. Hawass discovered the missing part of a broken limestone block a few months ago in a storeroom at el Ashmunein, a village on the west bank of the Nile some 150 miles south of Cairo. Once reassembled, the slab has become "an accurate piece of evidence that proves Tut lived in el Amarna with Akhenaten and he married his wife, Ankhesenamun," while living in el Amarna, Hawass said. The text also suggests that the young Tutankhamun married his father's daughter -- his half sister. "The block shows the young Tutankhamun and his wife, Ankhesenamun, seated together. The text identifies Tutankhamun as the 'king's son of his body, Tutankhaten,' and his wife as the 'king's daughter of his body, Ankhesenaten,'" Hawass said. "We know that the only king to whom the text could refer as the father of both children is Akhenaten, himself. We know from other sources that Ankhesenamun was the daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Now, because of this block, we can say that Tutankhamun was the child of Akhenaten as well," Hawass said. Found among other sandstone slabs in the storeroom of El Ashmunein's archaeological site, the block was used in the construction of the temple of Thoth during the reign of Ramesses II, who ruled around 1279-1213 B.C. But the block wasn't freshly cut by the workers of the temple. Instead, it was recycled and brought there from el Amarna, along with some other thousand blocks, originally used to build the Amarna temples. Now known as el Amarna, the city was once called Akhetaten after the "heretic" pharaoh Akhenaten (1353-1336 B.C.) had established the capital of his kingdom, introducing a monotheistic religion that overthrew the pantheon of the gods to worship the sun god Aton. When Akhenaten died, a state decree was issued to purposefully destroy Amarna and its building materials were distributed for use elsewhere. According to Hawass, the block comes from the temple of Aton in Amarna and the forms of the inscribed names clearly date it to the reign of Akhenaten. The best-known pharaoh of ancient Egypt, King Tut has been puzzling scientists ever since his mummy- and treasure-packed tomb was discovered in 1922 the Valley of the Kings by British archaeologist Howard Carter. Only a few facts about his life are known. While he lived in el Amarna, his name was Tutankhaton ("honoring Aton" -- the sun god). When he ascended the throne in 1333 B.C., at the age of nine, and moved to Thebes, he changed his name to Tutankamun ("honoring Amun" -- a traditional cult). As the last male in the family, his death in 1325 B.C. at age 19 ended the 18th dynasty -- probably the greatest of the Egyptian royal families -- and gave way to military rulers. Mapping out the lineage of the Egyptian pharaohs is one of Hawass's latest challenges. King Tut has been either credited to be the son of Akhenaten or the offspring of Amenhotep III, who was Akhenaten's father. Doubts also remain about King Tut's mother. Scholars have long debated whether he is the son of Kiya, Akhenaten's minor wife, or Queen Nefertiti, Akhenaten's other wife. Egyptian researchers are currently carrying out DNA testing on two mummified fetuses found in King Tut's tomb, believed to be his offspring. "If the fetus DNA matches King Tut's DNA and Ankhesenamun's DNA, then we would know that they shared the same mother," Hawass said. According to Swiss anatomist and paleopathologist Frank Ruhli, head of the Swiss Mummy Project at the University of Zurich, Hawass' finding is very important. "It supports one of my favorite theories about King Tut's parentage. DNA of proven relatives would help if it matches with the one of King Tut," Ruhli told Discovery News.

2008 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship of India

Story from The Times of India: Soumya upsets Tania to jump into sole lead 20 Dec 2008, 0055 hrs IST, TNN NEW DELHI: Soumya Swaminathan jumped into sole lead with 2 points after upsetting defending champion and top seed Tania Sachdev in the second round of the 35th National Women’s A Chess Championship on Friday. The day saw a lot of surprises as the four decisive results went in favour of underdogs. Amrutha Mokal got the better off WGM Swati Ghate in 35 moves. In another surprise result, N Krithika overcame second seed Kruttika Nadig in just 30 moves. Another WGM, Nisha Mohota also suffered a setback as she lost to Kiran Manisha Mohanty of Orissa. Padmini Rout and Eesha Karavade signed the peace treaty against Bhakti Kulkarni and Mary Ann Gomes respectively in the other matches.

Blizzard Aftermath

So, about 12:15 PM I pulled the boots back on, bundled up, and headed out to the deck to shovel. I did about half of it before running out of steam. Then I tramped lots of snow through the house to go out the front door and tackle a pathway to the road. I was outdoors altogether about 40 minutes and made some headway, as you can see from the photos (bel0w). I came in to warm up and take an hour's break. I came upstairs with the memory card and sat down at my desktop. LOL! I kid you not, while I was sitting here shortly after 1:00 PM downloading the photos this email from Travelocity appeared: Jan, you need a break. Here's the bad news: you look tired. [Gee, I wonder why>] But here's the good news: we can fix that! You might not know it, but you've still got time to book a vacation before the end of the year. Whether you want to head home over the holidays or spend them lying on a tropical beach, we've got some great deals just for you. Head over to and you'll find the following: Low fares, a variety of destinations, and thousands of customer-reviewed hotels Our convenient FareWatcher Plussm tool, which lets you watch up to 10 destinations and tells you when the fares drop Our cutting-edge ExperienceFindersm planning tool Our industry-leading Guarantee, which ensures that we'll look out for you all trip long—even before you go Plus, we'll help you out with a great holiday offer [travel coupon]. dondelion and I do have a get-away planned - to the relative warmth of sunny Las Vegas which only received 3.6" of snow on Tuesday, if he can actually get here from Montreal on the 23rd and if we can actually get out of here Christmas Eve morning! Photos: Deck - about half-shoveled, I shoveled off the part that only had a foot of snow first. The second half has about a foot and a half to two feet of snow, I think I'll wait until it melts in the spring... Front - stoop is now somewhat cleared and I have the start of a pathway not quite half-way down the drive. The goal is the mail box and paper box that you can see behind my shovel in the far distance... It's now 1:41 PM. I think I need a nap...

Blizzard Aftermath

It's officially over - for now. My area got 13" of snow. But the winds have not abated, so I'm getting a lot of blow-off from my neighbors and my drifts are getting bigger and bigger, arggghhh! Roads are being cleared - not mine yet, so I won't even bother to start shoveling the front driveway until the plows have been through again. I'll start on the deck. The bluejays showed up about 30 minutes ago, I threw some peanuts out for them and "called" them in my croaky "jay" voice and they came right away, diving for the peanuts in the snow on the deck. I am now doing research on snowblowers, I've got to get one, I just can't do another season of shoveling this kind of snow. I hate the thought of another smelly, big heavy gas-guzzling machine that I won't be able to handle. Where are the kids who go around house to house looking for shoveling work for $$$ when you need them? I've lived here nearly 20 years now and I've YET to have a kid come by and ask if I need help shoveling out! Back to consumer reviews of snowblowers.

Christmas Tree

This year's version of my Yule Tree. I know, I know, it looks fully loaded, but it doesn't have the gold beads or the burgundy crystal snowflakes this year!

View from My Desk Downstairs

Living room decorated for Christmas. This is a view from my desk.

View from My Front Window

Right after I took this shot someone dressed in black and yellow cross-country ski gear (complete with goggles) glided past the house - the flash was recharging on my camera so I could not get the shot! It's now 10:38 AM and I hear snowblowers going all over the neighborhood, but it's still snowing. I'll wait until it stops before attempting to shovel a path for myself. The small part of the deck that I shoveled out earlier this morning is covered now with at least an inch of fresh snow, so it has slowed down, no longer snowing 2" an hour.

Blizzard! Views from the Front Porch

Photos from my front door, taken about 10:00 AM. You can barely make out the tracks I made earlier in the morning going to the road to fetch the paper, about 8:30 AM.

Intrepid Squirrels During Milwaukee Blizzard

Another camoflauged squirrel - he's hanging upside down on the right side of the trunk, just above the middle of the frame. It's not clear but he's eating one of the hazelnuts I tossed around the base of the tree. The picture looks greyed out - that's the heavy snow falling/blowing.

Intrepid Squirrels During Milwaukee Blizzard

One of my squirrels had fetched a nut from the base of the Chinese Elm and climbed up to a safe limb to enjoy the start of his breakfast. You can't tell from the photo, but it's snowing hard and blowing. This little guy is protected from the wind out of the northeast by the tree trunk.

Intrepid Squirrels During Milwaukee Blizzard

He's well camoflauged, but he's there - one of the squirrels that had gathered around the base of the big Chinese Elm out back, on the tree trunk on the left near the top of the frame. The snow in that part of my backyard isn't as deep as on the deck (see prior post photos) - you can see tracks from the honeysuckle bush in the background leading to the tree, and nearly filled-in tracks in really deep snow from the top of the retaining wall headed toward the deck!


Right on time, the snow started around midnight. "Officially" we have about 9 inches at the moment, with more at the lakefront and downtown because of strong northeast winds off the lake. It's supposed to mostly taper off by noon, but there could be lake effect snow (I'm within five miles of downtown so I get it) until 3 PM. Winds are gusting up to 35 mph but are to "calm" to 20 mph as the front moves to the east. I'm taking a few pictures, figuring they're the best way to convey what I'm dealing with here at the moment. I didn't sleep well last night, I finally gave it up at 5:15 and went downstairs to look out the front door. At the time, there was a large drift where the driveway curves to head toward the road from my front porch, but the porch itself had only about 5 inches of snow; later, about 8:30 AM when I ventured out to get see if Sue, my intrepid newspaper deliverer, had made it through, I had to shove the storm door hard to open it through more than a foot of snow that had piled up since 5:15 AM. I had my tall boots on (they come up to my knees), and they weren't tall enough to keep the snow out. I managed to get to the mailbox and paper box at the road. Am totally plowed in, and the plow has only been through once. The road is already covered again with snow, so he'll be through again. There is probably a 18 to 24" of snow in my driveway, drifts are higher. (Photo: This is as much of my deck out back that I managed to shovel. Tell me, do you think this is a "mere" 8" of snow??? That little speck in the middle of the shoveled area is a hazelnut that fell out of my pocket as I was shoveling. You can see some of the tracks of the squirrels who had ventured from the big tree, looking for food). I dialed the office employee hotline after I put coffee on at 5:15 AM to hear the official announcement - our Milwaukee and Waukesha offices are closed today. Milwaukee County government offices are closed; Milwaukee City government offices are closed; all schools are closed. Last I heard, buses were still running, but many are getting stuck in high drifts. Plows and salters have been out all night but they cannot keep up with the snow that continues to fall, let alone the blowing and drifting. Entrance and exit ramps to the expressways are clogged shut. White-out conditions exist in many open areas. (You can hardly see him, but if you look to the left of the big tree below the top of the retaining wall, you can see what looks like a grey lump. It's a squirrel emerging from deep snow, where he had been digging for something to eat). I had my coffee, turned off the lights and settled down in my recliner with a toasty down throw. When I awoke from my doze about 8:20 AM I checked the patio to see - to my absolute astonishment - squirrel tracks in the deep snow! So, after I fetched my newspaper I attempted to shovel the deck. I didn't get very far. There were several squirrels gathered at the base of the big Chinese Elm, the base of which is sheltered by an old railroad tie retaining wall so the snow wasn't too deep there, so I threw several hand-fulls of hazelnuts there for them, and watched them scampering up and down the tree, fetching and eating the nuts. The older squirrel who has that "dropsy" disease was there - it is amazing to me he is still alive; it's been a tough winter, colder and more snow than normal, although this is the second year in a row we've had these bad snows. It was months ago I pointed out this squirrel to dondelion because he kept falling over whenever he stopped moving. Presently, the forecast for tomorrow is another 6 inches of snow starting tomorrow night into Sunday, and more on Tuesday. Three guesses what I'll be doing all weekend...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday is Ladies' Chess Night!

Story from The Brooklyn Paper December 18, 2008 Pawns in the game of love By Sarah Portlock Ladies night: Christian Whitted of the New York Chess and Game Shop in Park Slope offers free chess for people without Y chromosomes on Thursdays. So if you’re name is Bobbie Fischer, this place is for you. Finally, a place where you can check out potential mates while also check-mating them. In the great Reese’s tradition of putting together two seemingly mismatched things, a new chess and gaming emporium on Flatbush Avenue has turned Thursdays into Ladies’ Night, where everyone from Bobby Fischer brainiacs to Bobbie Fischer rook-ies can get free chess games all night long. The fun is at the new New York Chess and Game Shop, at 192 Flatbush Ave., near Dean Street. Owner and chess master Christian Whitted, who teaches at York College in Queens, said women always ask him where they can play outside of class. So he built out the space for them, and for budding neighborhood chess fans alike. “We want to create a hub in the community,” Whitted said. “This is like theater of the mind — we will entertain you as well as keep you informed.” The spot opened earlier this fall, and boasts 25 tables on two floors where gamers can play chess, checkers, backgammon, Scrabble, Monopoly or cards. There’s also a coffee counter in the corner, and boards and other chess memorabilia for sale. And you can have all that gaming for cheap — customers rent the tables for $3 per person per hour, or challenge the resident masters. Those games are $3 for a three-minute game, $5 for a five-minute game, or $7 for a 10-minute or untimed game. But how far will that $5 get you? Not that far. “I can beat an average player in 30 seconds,” Whitted said, confidently. The shop makes it money on its semi-private tutoring sessions, which are $90 for five 90-minute classes, and comes with a free chess set. The most fun is, of course, on Thursdays. “Ladies’ Day is always good,” Whitted added. New York Chess and Game Shop [192 Flatbush Ave., near Dean Street in Prospect Heights, (718) 398-3727]. Hours: Daily, 11 am–11 pm. For info, visit ©2008 The Brooklyn Paper

2008 National 'A' Women's Chess Championship of India

From Tania off to a flier in National Women's 'A' chess Published: December 18,2008 New Delhi, Defending champion Tania Sachdev of Air India got off to a flying start defeating Amrutha Mokal of Maharashtra in the first round of the Parsvnath 35th National Women schess championship here today. Second seed Kruttika Nadig and fourth seed Soumya Swaminathan also scored fine victories over Kiran Manisha Mohanty and Asian Junior champion Mary Ann Gomes respectively. Third seed Eesha Karavade was lucky to escape with a draw against Nisha Mohota in the opener. In the other games of the day, Swati Ghate played imaginatively to beat Bhakti Kulkarni while youngest participant and under-14 girls world champion Padmini Rout played out a draw with Pon N Krithika. The 12-player, 11-round event saw some fascinating games in the first round and Tania was quite impressive in her mauling of Amrutha who was outplayed after a bad opening. Playing the white side of Queen Indian defense, International Master Tania controlled the game early. Amrutha fell under time pressure and gave up in just 28 moves. Playing with black pieces, Soumya Swaminathan accounted for in-form Mary in a Sicilian Najdorf game. Launching a side variation in English attack, Soumya benefited from a strategic error in the middle game from Mary and won after 33 moves. Mohanty tried a recently popular variation in the Sicilian Najdorf against Kruttika Nadig but her plans were foiled by the latter in a fine display of counter attacking chess. Kruttika won in 37 moves. Round One Results: Tania Sachdev beat Amrutha Mokal; Bhakti Kulkarni lst to Swati Ghate; Soumya Swaminatha beat Mary Ann Gomes; Kiran Manisha Mohanty lost to Kruttika Nadig; Pon N Krithika drew with Padmini Rout; Eesha Karavade drew with Nisha Mohota.

Irene Kharisma Sukandar Earns WGM Title

This is great news for Ms. Sukandar and Indonesian chess - but this is hardly the pinnacle of this chessplayer's career and the "WGM" title is NOT the world's highest chess title. I believe she has a lot farther and higher to go yet. She's only 16! Indonesia gets first woman grand master of chess Thursday December 18, 2008 JAKARTA (Xinhua): Indonesian chess player Irene Kharisma Sukandar finally reached the top of career as the first Woman Grand Master (WGM) and Woman International Masters (WIM) after earning her third norm, the coveted WCM title, the Jakarta Post reported on Thursday. "Of course, I'm happy (to be named Indonesian's first WGM) and very grateful to God Almighty," said Irene, adding that she hoped that her achievement will encourage other Indonesian women. She received a certificate of her debut highest achievement in Singapore last week, while at the same time competing in the Singapore Open chess tournament. Irene, 16 years old, earned norm during last month's Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany, and was presented with her new ranking by ASEAN Chess Confederation president Ignatious Leong. Irene is the first woman in Indonesian history to attain the chess world's highest title. Several Indonesian men have already attained the title of grand master.

Mummy Murder Mystery

The headline from The Sunday Mercury goes one better: "Museum Mummy Murder Mystery" - presented for your entertainment: Dec 15 2008 By Ben Goldby IT is the murder mystery which has spanned thousands of years. Archaeologists have long questioned how an unidentified man entombed in a 1,700-year-old mummy at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery met his death. Now they hope the macabre case may finally be solved with the help from medical experts from the Midlands. The elaborately-bandaged Greco-Roman mummy, with gilt terracotta studs, was donated to the museum in the 1920s by Albert Phillips, a Birmingham bedstead maker who often travelled to the Middle East. Results from previous X-rays revealed an unidentified metal object lodged in the back of the mummy’s neck, which some archaeologists believe may be an arrow head – meaning he could have been murdered. On Friday the mummy was sent to Stafford Hospital to undergo a full CT scan which will provide 3D images which may finally help establish a definitive cause of death. The mummy is believed to contain the remains of a male in his mid-30s, but his identity is another unsolved mystery. An amateur archaeologist came up with the scan plan after attending an event at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery earlier this year. Robert Loynes – an Egyptology enthusiast and former orthopaedic consultant – recommended the unusual experiment when he discovered that the earlier X-ray had spotted the mysterious metal object. He suggested that the mummy be sent to Stafford Hospital, which houses highly sophisticated CT scanning equipment that may help to establish what happened to the man beneath the bandages. Two other mummies from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s collections, called Padimut and Namenkhetamun, and two mummified heads were also CT scanned at the hospital on Friday. As well as providing 3D images, the X-rays could offer information on how old the people were when they died, their gender, what they may have looked like, their skeletal structure, their teeth and other fascinating facts about their lives. The scans, which have been partly funded by an anonymous sponsor, may also reveal jewellery and other trinkets that could be concealed within the mummies’ wrappings. Stafford Hospital’s strict infection control procedures were strictly observed throughout the procedures, with the mummies kept inside sterile body bags to prevent dust escaping from the ancient remains. Results from the imaging will now be analysed by a crack team of forensic Egyptologists from Birmingham Museum, but it could still be several weeks before the mystery is finally solved. For further information on the mummies, or any of the other exhibitions at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, visit

Let It NOT Snow, PLEASE!

What's going on with the weather? Despite the weather guys saying over and over again that this winter will NOT be the same as last winter, Wisconsin is suffering a basic repeat of last year's near record-setting snowfall and, in addition, we've had well below normal bone-chilling temperatures and windchills that have, I believe, set my teeth permanently on edge. Tonight, right around midnight according to the latest forecasts, a massive and fierce thundersnow storm is supposed to start, dumping 2" of snow or more an hour. Gee, rush hour tomorrow morning is going to be a whole lot of fun - NOT! I got finished with the shoveling in the driveway just in time for the new round of snow. Only this snow is supposed to be wet and heavy. Oh great. We may also get snow on Saturday, and more on Sunday, and some more on Tuesday, when dondelion's flight is due in. Oy! I'm keeping my fingers crossed he gets here more or less on time and in one piece, and that we get out of here on time with no travel problems on Christmas Eve. Las Vegas is calling, despite the snow... Yes, even Las Vegas got 3.6" of snow - their first measureable snow since 1979! Unbelievable! This photo is from The New York Times earlier today. Oh crap, I see they changed the photo. I KNEW I should have saved that earlier photograph. Well, here's the story.
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