Saturday, May 31, 2008

Women's World Chess Championship?

What's this - has Kirzan finally decided it's going to be held after all? This is an excerpt from a report at The Week in Chess, who got it from the Russian chess site The report is about Kirzan guaranteeing the prize fund for the Kamsky-Topalov match to go forward in Lvov. That's great, but that's man chess stuff and I don't care about that! The important part is bolded: The latest is that in a new phone interview with FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov with Yury Vasilyev (who reliably reports the FIDE line) reported at the chess site The match Topalov - Kamski takes place in Lvov. Just I has called the president of International chess federation Kirsan Ilyumzhinov who has arrived to Athenes from Moscow for participation in Presidential Council, and has asked him a question which excites now all fans of a chess. . . . KI: I give my personal guarantees. The prize-winning fund will be such what has been specified in the application of the manager of the grandmaster Gata Kamski Alexander Chernenko: 935 000 dollars. The players will receive together 750 000. Besides I shall declare tomorrow the world championship among women. It will take place in Nalchik from August, 28th till September, 18th. The prize-winning fund will be 630 000 dollars. This was posted on Friday, May 30, 2008. So does that mean we can expect an official announcement from FIDE today about the Women's World Chess Championship? Who is putting up the money? What happened to the Turkish Sport Federation's indication that it would be willing to host the Championship? Where the heck is Nalchik?

An Open Letter from IM Irina Krush

Published at Chess Life Online (USCF). I have not yet read the commentary this letter is sure to have generated. My initial feelings upon seeing that such a letter was published was surprise! Sharing the title seems an equitable solution, but not for the reasons stated. I'm in agreement with others that using rapid, blitz and an Armageddon game to decide the title was, under the circumstances, ridiculous. Now, people will be "taking sides" and it bothers me the amount of ill will that this open letter will generate and, of course, those who disdain women chessplayers and "women's chess" will be sneering even more than usual. I can just hear them now "isn't that typical of the stupid cows" they're be hooting to each other. My opinion at this time is that IM Krush's letter moves a matter that is essentially a private dispute that should be addressed by the organizers and TDs at the Championship and the officials of the USCF into the arena of public opinion - where nobody wins and women's chess loses. The haters will now be rubbing their hands in glee waiting for a cat fight between the two highest rated female players in the United States. Great, just great.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

It's warm and humid and the outdoors is calling. This will be short - very short. Last night it stormed like all get out about 3 in the morning, and kept me up with non-stop thunder, pounding rain, high winds and constant lightning flashes until nearly 4:30 a.m. I'm exhausted! I hate lightning, and now with every storm that comes I fear the giant elm out back will come crashing down on the house. But I hate the thought of having it taken down. The noise of the storm is what woke me up from a satisfying deep sleep. At first I thought it might be hail pounding against the house so, and so I staggered out of bed to the nearest window, lifted the curtain and peered out, just as a gigantic jagged flash of booming lightning crackled across the sky and, from the trajectory, into the ground, less than a block away. But I didn't stay at the window long enough to check it out. I jumped back into bed and it was all I could do not to pull the covers over my head like a scared little kid! I WAS scared! You probably thought I was kidding last week when I mentioned the next big thing - mining poop for gold dust (due to the increase of the uber-wealthy eating food dusted with gold). Darlings, you ain't see nothing yet! Bird poop wars Stealing Used Grease On a more somber note, a former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Geremi Gonzalez was killed last Sunday by a lightning strike in his home country. I heard about this a couple of days ago on the radio as I was getting ready for work and wasn't paying particular attention, but I thought I heard that lightning actually struck a necklace he was wearing at the time. How likely is that??? I did not find confirmation of this on the internet, but there are over 400 stories and I'm not going to look at every one. There are several news releases on the internet, all about saying the same thing, but this one does report that there are several different versions of what was actually going on at the time of Gonzalez's death. Believe me when I tell you that hearing stories like this one does not put my mind at ease about my fear of lightning! I'm outta here!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Body kept hidden to appease Goddess

From (don't click on the link unless you have a very good pop-up blocker) Wednesday May 28 2008 10:01 IST Express News Service DEOGARH: Raghu Adha (55) of Aadash village under Reamal police limits had died on May 24 after suffering from chicken pox and other ailments. But instead of cremating him, his family members confined the body in bales of neem leaves hoping that it would appease god. With folklore associating chicken pox to wrath of Goddess Mangala, villagers felt that if fire would be lit to the body, it would enrage the goddess, which would attract curse for the village. The family, hence, wrapped the body with neem leaves and hid it in nearby forest. However, after the incident came to light, a team of doctors led by Chief District Medical Officer, Rajarajeshwari Devi accompanied by BDO Biswamohan Ray visited the village and provided medical treatment to other chicken pox-affected patients in the village. They also facilitated cremation of the body through the Aadash panchayat.

Chicago Open

Final standings (chess femmes) for 2008 Chicago Open: Open: (19) Iryna Zenyuk (USA 2186), 4.0 Under 2300: (3) Tatev Abrahamyan (USA 2296), 5.5 (13) Tatiana Vayserberg (USA 2132), 5.0 (27) Yulia Cardona (CUB 2179), 4.0 (31) WFM Chouchanik Airapetian (USA 2143), 4.0 (74) WFM Hana Itkis (USA 2082), 2.0

World Zoroastrian Organization Seminar June 1, 2008

Short notice - I only just received it in email today. WZO’s 2008 Seminar on Zoroastrian Religion, History and Culture Held in association with the World Zarathushtrian Trust Fund Sunday 01.06.2008 - 10.00 - 16.00 Venue: Gulbenkian Room The International Students House, 229 Gt. Portland Street, London W1N 5HD (nearest Underground station: Gt. Portland Street) Sunday 1st June 2008 10.00 - Registration and coffee 10.25 - Welcome and opening address by Darayus S Motivala, President of WZO 10.30 - Morning Session commences 13:00 - Break for Lunch 14.15 - Afternoon Session commences 15:30 - Q & A with the panel of today’s speakers chaired by Ms Shahin Bekhradnia. 16:00 - Closing address by Ms Soonu Engineer. Speaker: Shapour Suren Pahlav Chairperson: Mr Noshir Umrigar “The conversion of Zoroastrian Shrines and Temples in Iran to Islamic Ones” Speaker: Prof Stanley Insler Chairperson: Mr Farrokh Vajifdar "Zarathustra: The Man and the Message" Speakers: Prof Kejia Yan (China) & Dr Takeshi Aoki (Japan) Chairperson: Ms Shahin Bekhradnia “Zoroastrians and the Sassanian Royal Family in the Tang China (618-907)” Please reserve your place by telephoning Mr Darayus S Motivala on +44 (0) 1844 352 887 or email: darayus ‘at’

Achaemenid Era Gold Cup in Taunton

An unbelievable but true story - this priceless cup was once used for airgun target practice! Notice the inter-twined serpents on the foreheads of both faces.

Story from Yahoo news
Childhood 'toy' revealed as ancient Persian relic
Wed May 28, 8:26 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - An ancient gold cup mysteriously acquired by a Taunton scrap metal dealer is expected to fetch some 500,000 pounds at auction after languishing for years in a shoe box under its current owner's bed.

Owner John Webber says his grandfather gave him the 5.5-inch (14-centimetre) high mug to play with when he was a child, back in 1945.
He assumed the golden cup, which is decorated with the heads of two women facing in opposite directions, their foreheads garlanded with two knotted snakes, was made from brass.

But he decided to get it valued when he was moving house last year and was told it was actually a rare piece of ancient Persian treasure, beaten out of a single sheet of gold hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Experts said the method of manufacture and the composition of the gold was "consistent with Achaemenid gold and gold smithing" dating back to the third or fourth century BC.

The Achaemenid empire, the first of the Persian empires to rule over significant portions of Greater Iran, was wiped out by Alexander the Great in 330 BC.

Auction house Duke's, in Dorchester, south-west England, will put the cup under the hammer on June 5, with an estimate of 500,000 pounds.

Webber, 70, told The Guardian newspaper that his grandfather had a "good eye" for antiques and picked up "all sorts" as he plied his trade in the town of Taunton in south-west England.

"Heaven knows where he got this, he never said," he added, revealing that as a child, he used the cup for target practice with his air gun.

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The only two-faced god I know of is the Roman Janus. Is this a goddess? Is the cup a cult implement of some kind or was it used in worship? Is it purely a decorative object, a wine cup? Is there significance to the two faces? What does the entwined serpent emblem on the forehead of each face mean? Are there any other artifacts like this one published in any museum or collector's catalog? So many questions - and no answers!

Lombard Warrior Buried with Horse

From the Thousand-year-old Lombard warrior skeleton discovered buried with horse in Italy By Malcolm Moore in Rome Last Updated: 11:44AM BST 28/05/2008 Italian archaeologists have discovered a perfectly preserved skeleton of a 1400-year-old Lombard warrior, buried with his horse. The skeleton, which was found in a park at Testona, near Turin, is of a 25-year-old Lombard who died of a fever. Unusually, his horse was buried alongside him. "This is a very rare find," said Gabriella Pantò, the archaeologist leading the dig. "We have not seen many precedents in Italy. We have seen horses' heads buried with warriors, but this find shows the area is vitally important," she added. The Lombards were a nomadic tribe of Germans who settled near the Danube and launched an attack on Italy in the sixth century. Under the leadership of King Alboin, the Lombards stormed across the Alps in the spring of AD568 with an army of around 500,000. Vicenza, Verona and Brescia were quickly conquered from the Byzantines, who were still suffering from battling the Goths. Lombardy was established across the whole of the north of the country, an empire which lasted for around 100 years. The dig revealed a Lombard camp had settled at Testona, and the skeleton of a dog was also found nearby. The invaders had built an aqueduct and irrigation system and a series of small wooden huts, without any foundations. The warrior was also buried with a treasure chest being x-rayed by archaeologists. In addition, a small bag held a pair of pincers, a bronze belt buckle and some armour. He wore a ring on his left index finger and also had both a knife and a "scramasax", a short sword designed for close combat.

Terracotta Warriors Damaged by Quake

From the Sydney Morning Herald
May 29, 2008 - 10:10AM
Photo from

Temples, ancient pieces of pottery and the famed Terracotta Warriors were among priceless cultural treasures damaged or destroyed in this month's earthquake, state press reported today.

The May 12 quake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale damaged 1,645 cultural relics in worst-hit Sichuan province alone, including 148 regarded as precious, Xinhua news agency said.

One of those severely damaged was the 2000-year-old Erwang Temple, in the same area as the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Dujiangyan irrigation system, which also suffered some impact, Xinhua reported.

The temple was built to honour two ancient kings and was until the quake a popular tourist destination.

A further 239 relics were severely damaged in the neighbouring provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu as well as in the Chongqing Municipality, Xinhua said, citing China's Cultural Heritage Administration.

Tong Mingkang, the administration's deputy head, said experts from all over the country would gather in the affected areas to help restoration work.

"Relics restoration in the disaster area is at the top of our agenda for our bureau in the coming several years," Tong was quoted as saying.

A team of 20 leading experts was already assessing the damage, Xinhua said.

In Shaanxi, to the north-east of the quake zone, seven of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors sustained minor damage and were among 41 precious cultural artefacts affected, according to the Beijing News.

The discovery of the more than 2000-year-old Terracotta Warriors, buried along with China's first emperor, counts as one of the great archaeological sensations of the 20th century. There are an estimated 8000 warriors.

The earthquake cost the lives of more than 68,000 people, according to the latest official toll, making it China's worst natural disaster in a generation.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Kings of New York

From Ch. 10, "The Women in the Room": The circuitous route to America took Irina Krush and her family from the Ukraine through Austria and into Italy, and while they waited in limbo for their papers to arrive, with nothing else to do, Irina's father, an accountant, taught her how to play ches. This was in 1989; Irina was four and a half. When she was six, she won twenty dollars in a tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club, playing against men six and seven times her age. When she was twelve, she became a master. by the time she was fourteen, Irina's rating had risen above 2400, and Murrow's reputation as a home to exiled Eastern european chess talent had been firmly established. If you were a competitive chess player from Brooklyn, you just knew, the way Irina did, that this was where Anna Khan had gone, and this was where you belonged. Maybe she could have taken the test and gotten into Stuyvesant, but what did she want with Stuyvesant? She had no desire to spend her formative years doing complex mat homework and competing for college admissions. to tell the truth, she'd never much liked math. This might have been due to her eyesight, which started to degenerate somewhere around the third grade; in the five years it took her to get over her pride and admit that she couldn't see the equations on the chalkboard, any passion she had for numbers died. And what did she want with numbers, anyhow? The reason her eyesight had deteriorated must have had something to do with all the reading she did in poorly lit rooms. She loved to read; she still does. If only she could have been a writen, or even a dancer - but for reasons she couldn't explain (maybe becuase she was an accountant's daughter), chess became her mode of self-expression. This has always been the way she's viewed the game, not as a clash of egos, not as osme grand metaphor for war, not like Fischer and Kasparov have characterized it, as an opportunity to emasculate another human being. The best games, like that time in Buenos Aires when she sacrificed her knight and then her rook (and still managed to win), form like pearls do, over time, over a series of moves, which is why she does her best work in games with longer time control, games that unfold in four or five glorious hours. Oh, she knows there's an inescapable logic at work here, and she doesn't deny it, and she can respect that sort of thinking as well. But this is not the essence of chess. The essence of chess is all wrapped up in beauty. Even if you lose. And maybe this is a feminine perspective, but hell, she's known plenty of men who can apreciate the beauty of the game as much as she can. Otherwise, why would they spend all those hours studying by themselves? Otherwise, what would be the point?

Ratatoskr, the Messenger Squirrel

Thanks to dondelion for passing along this information on Ratatoskr. In Norse mythology, Ratatoskr (anglicized Ratatosk) ("drilling tooth", an apt description of a squirrel) is a red squirrel who runs up and down the Great World Tree Yggdrasil, carrying messages between Veorfolnir, the Eagle who lives at the top of the Tree, and Niohoggr, the Dragon who lives in the Great Tree's roots. This entry from Wikipedia says Ratotoskr not only carries messages among the worlds, he also carries gossip. Not being able to read Old Norse, I am unable to vouch for the translation that is provided at this website. I don't know who put the website together, and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information. Still, it's a fascinating look at the world of the skalds back in the old old days. Skalds were, I gather, the carriers of ancient oral tradition, troubadours, poets, entertainers, diplomats, teachers and carriers of the old ways. This is (evidently) the only line in Snorri's Edda that talks about Ratatoskr: Ikorni sá er heitir Ratatoskr, renn upp ok niðr eptir askinum ok berr öfundarorð milli arnarins ok Niðhöggs. (The squirrel called Ratatoskr runs up and down the ash-tree, carrying hateful words between the eagle and Nidhogg). My initial take on this is that Ratatoskr has some aspects of Lokki, the mischief-maker - but I wasn't able to find anything else under a quick search on the internet. Anyone out there know more about the traditional role of Ratatoskr in Norse mythology???

Women in Archaeology: Theresa Goell

From the Jewish Women's Archive (online): Biographical Information: Theresa Goell, an archaeologist best known for her work as the the director of the Nemrud Dagh excavations in southeastern Turkey. was born in New York City on July 17, 1901. She grew up in Brooklyn and spend summers at the family's house in the Catskills Mountains. After graduating from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, Goell entered Syracuse University; she later transferred to Radcliffe College, from there she graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1923. While at Radcliffe, she experienced permanent hearing loss, diagnosed as otosclerosis. She initially overcame this handicap by learning lip reading; as technology developed, she took to wearing hearing aids. During her junior year at Radcliffe she married Cyrus Levinthal; after her graduation, they both studied at Cambridge University. They had one son, Jay, and were divorced in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Having earned the equivalent standard B.A. in architecture from Cambridge in 1933-35, Goell began doing archaeological field work in Jerusalem and Gerasa, Trans-Jordan, under the auspices of the American School of Oriental Research. In Jerusalem she made drawings of ceramics and restored terra-cottas, and worked as an architectural assistant. Theresa returned to New York in the late 1930s. She did interior architectural design and display work at department stores in the Bronx and in Newark, New Jersey. During World War II she did drafting for Naval Contractors in New York City and Brooklyn. While working, she took courses in prehistoric and European art at Columbia University, 1944-45. It was Professor Hartley Lehman at New York University who suggested that she look into the heretofore little studied contents at Mt. Nimrud on the Anatolian plateau of southeastern Turkey. Her own NYU Research from this period led to her life long pursuit to excavate this site, now known as Nemrud Dagh. Goell undertook her first professional archaeological field work during 1946 to 1953; it included a position at Tarsus as the architectural and archaeological assistant the the professor of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and work with other archaeological expeditions in Palestine, Jordan and Turkey. An active Zionist, Goell worked on numerous buildings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Goell's first arduous journey to Mt. Nimrud was in 1947; she returned for a second visit in 1951. Little was known about this site before she began excavations there in 1953. The Bollingen Foundation and the National Geographic Society supported the excavation; in March 1961 The National Geographic published an article about Nemrud Dagh and later the National Geographic Society produced a film about it. Goell became the Director of Excavations at Samosata, the city of Antiochus I of Commagene. In 1973, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic, the Cultural Ministry of Turkey awarded Goell in recognition of her contributions to Anatolian culture and art. She died in New York City in 1985, after a long illness.
* * * * *
This information about Goell is from a summary on a documentary film produced by Goell's niece in 2005, "Queen of the Mountain": Theresa Goell embarked on her career as an archaeologist with four strikes against her: She was a woman, divorced, extremely hard of hearing and a Jew working with Muslims. But all that didn't deter her. Born in 1901, she could have had a comfortable life as the wife of a lawyer and the sister-in-law of a prominent rabbi in Brooklyn, but she left her husband and son for a lifelong adventure that led her to a desolate mountain in Southeast Turkey. Martha Goell Lubell, who has lived in Wynnewood for the last 28 years, chronicled the life of her aunt Theresa, a pioneer female archaeologist, in a new documentary, Queen of the Mountain, filmed mostly on location in Turkey. Since Goell was hard-of-hearing, the film will be screened with open captioning to make the film accessible to hard-of-hearing and deaf viewers. Acclaimed actress Tovah Feldshuh, who recently starred in Golda’s Balcony on Broadway, is the voice of Theresa Goell. In addition to Lubell, who produced and directed the film, others from the Philadelphia area who had a role in the film were Sharon Mullally, the editor and writer; Carol Rosenbaum, who did additional writing; John Anthony, the sound designer; Kevin Diehl, the graphic designer, and Sumi Tonooka, who wrote the music. Lubell says, “I started hearing stories about my aunt’s exploits when I was a little girl growing up in New York.” The idea of putting the saga on film occurred to her while she was making her last film, Daring to Resist, which she produced with Bala Cynwyd filmmaker Barbara Attie. After Theresa Goell’s brother died in the late 1990s, Lubell’s cousins found boxes full of photos, letters, audio tapes and film relating to Theresa’s unusual career as well as her personal struggles: Theresa was nearly deaf, divorced, pursuing a career in what was then a man’s field and a Jewish woman working in a Muslim country. “There was a film in those boxes,” says Lubell. “And I decided to make a film about my aunt, knowing it would take me to those places that I had heard about from her decades before.” Theresa excavated the spectacular burial site of King Antiochus on Nemrud Dagh, a 7,000-foot-high mountain three days’ walk from the nearest post office. Antiochus ruled the kingdom of Commagene, and controlled the trade routes across the Euphrates River in the century before the birth of Christ. Theresa first learned of the site when she wrote a paper in graduate school in 1938. “Finding the tomb of Antiochus at Nemrud Dagh was always something Theresa wanted to do,” reports Donald Sanders, editor of a book on her work at Nemrud Dagh. “We know Antiochus was a very wealthy person. He would have had very elaborate materials buried with him. The contents of the tomb could have rivaled that of King Tut.” Theresa was determined to get to Nemrud Dagh and it took her six years to get permission to excavate, raise money for her excavations, find scholars to collaborate with her and equip a mountaintop camp for 50 people. In 1953, at age 50, she finally got there and kept working there over the next twenty years. Theresa was to work very closely with the Kurdish villagers who became the backbone of her excavations and were almost like her family. “They treat me like a mother,” Goell remarks in her oral history, “ And they’re very kind to me.” “She was thinking on all different levels,” according to Martha Sharp Joukowsky, a professor of archaeology at Brown University who is featured in the film. “Not only of what had to be done in the archaeological sense but also in the human sense, of the people who worked for her and were so devoted to her.” She brought clothing and medicine from New York and treated the medical problems of her workers and their families, and taught their wives hygiene and birth control. Her nephew, Jon Goell, relates: “She was considered queen of the mountain.” Goell never found the tomb but Nemrud Dagh has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous archaeological destinations in Turkey.

The Glass Ceiling

It's hard to say why there aren't more women at the top of the ladder Mark Anderson, The Ottawa Citizen Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 Last week's column on women in business -- or the lack thereof -- garnered some interesting reader feedback, most notably a letter from an Ottawa researcher who claims women simply aren't smart enough to out-compete men for top executive positions. Among the "evidence" he uses to support this assertion, the letter-writer notes that 95 per cent of Nobel prize winners are male, and men outnumber women two-to-one on Mensa rolls. Needless to say, only the rashest of fools would agree to weigh in on this particular debate. So here goes. Are men smarter than women? Who knows? And in the context of corporate ladder-climbing, who cares? Because in most, if not all, businesses the smartest people in the room tend to be nowhere near the executive suite. Case in point: For years, the smartest person in a newsroom where I worked was not the editor-in-chief or even one of the section editors, but a lowly columnist. The guy, who I won't name, was a flat-out genius, able (and all-too-willing) to deliver hour-long, extraordinarily erudite monologues on virtually any subject. His evident brilliance aside, no one, himself included, perceived him as "management material" because, well, he just wasn't. Likewise, the IT geek with the PhD in electrical engineering, the accounting nebbish who can recite pi to 23 decimals, the archivist with the photographic memory, the custodian who plays chess at a grand master level. All might out-score the boss on standard IQ tests; none might be suited to the rigours of running a company or department. As long ago as the Renaissance and as recently as the Industrial Revolution it was posited that the world would be run either by intellectuals or scientists, neither prediction ultimately panning out. Indeed, surveying the current political scene, you could even argue there's an inverse relationship between brain-power and leadership: Michael Ignatieff and Stéphane Dion are by all accounts brilliant individuals and less-than-brilliant leaders. Paul Martin is a smart guy who failed spectacularly in the role of national leader. Ditto Kim Campbell. South of the border, Ronald Reagan was a revered leader few would confuse with an intellectual giant -- the Great Communicator rather than the Great Cogitator. So if raw intelligence isn't keeping women from top corporate jobs, what is? Could it be something as simple as testosterone? A recent study out of Britain found that the performance of financial traders varies with the amount of testosterone in their bloodstream. The higher the testosterone level, the more money they make on the trading floor, likely because they're more aggressive and daring in pursuit of their goals. Likewise, controlled aggression, risk-taking and the ability to make hard, fast, unilateral decisions are hallmarks of leadership, without which the corporate ship tends to drift and list, ultimately becoming prey to more ruthless competitors. Do women have this cut-throat combativeness encoded in their DNA, coursing through their veins? Some do. I wouldn't want to meet PepsiCo boss Indra Nooyi in a dark alley, much less Alcatel-Lucent CEO Patricia Russo or tobacco maven Susan Ivey, chairman, president and CEO of Reynolds American. Rest of article.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Need for Coal "Forces" Excavation

Well, at least they're excavating in an attempt to save something, and not just blowing up the mound to get at the coal. From Today's Zaman May 24, 2008 Energy needs spark resumption of mound excavation in Kütahya The urgent need for coal buried beneath an ancient mound, in the Aegean city of Kütahya has forced the resumption of excavation at the site after 10 years In a statement to the Anatolia news agency, Professor A. Nejat Bilgen from the Dumlupınar University (DPÜ) archeology department said they had located a 15-million-ton coal reserve under the protected archeological site of the Seyitömer mound, which is 30 meters high and 200 meters wide. "Upon the demand and initiative of the Turkish Coal Enterprises [TKİ] in an effort to make use of this coal reserve, the Eskişehir Archeological Museum began excavation in 1989, subsequently taken over by the Afyonkarahisar Museum, which continued the project until 1995. Then there was a long interval of 10 years [with little or no excavation taking place]. After a protocol was signed between our university and Seyitömer Lignite Enterprises as a result of the TKİ's efforts, they resumed excavations in 2006. The market value of this huge reserve is YTL 500 million, and it can meet the energy needs of the Tunçbilek thermal power station [near Kütahya]. With the utilization of the reserve under the protected mound, about a total of 10 billion kilowatts of electricity will be produced." Bilgen noted that they planned to finish unearthing all the historical artifacts and cultural strata of the mound at the end of an intense five-year period of work, adding that all the artifacts discovered would be given to museums. Also emphasizing that they would determine to which cultural strata the archeological findings that formed the mound belonged, he said: "We are making drawings of the archeological structure in the mound for the benefit of the world of science and Anatolia. All our efforts are being exerted to that end. We have also established a new archeology department at the university. There is a team of 40 people consisting of experts, archeologists, lecturers and students working on site. Including the workers, we are a team of 100 people who work for six months out of the year. We are trying to contribute to the history of Kütahya in a fast and lasting way," he said. World’s oldest ceramic workshop Bilgen said archaeologists had so far discovered layers from five different cultures at the mound. According to their findings, the top stratum belonged to the Romans and included a temple and sacrificial altar. "The excavation has so far revealed that the mound is about 5,000 years old. We have found that the site was densely inhabited during the Bronze Age and during Phrygian and Roman times. We have also found ceramic moulds that suggest there was a ceramic workshop around 3,000 B.C. in addition to some other uniquely important artifacts. The ceramic moulds have proven to be one of the world's oldest ceramic workshops," he said. Bilgen went on to say that containers, pitchers, earthenware pots, ceramic moulds, lamps, seals and other artifacts they found during the excavations were already on display at the Kütahya Archeology Museum. "By the envisaged end of excavation, we will have found enough artifacts to fill three or four museums."

2008 Chicago Open

I'll have to check to see if any other chess femmes played in this event (there were several sections) - this is the day I normally do updates for Chess Femme News so I'll let all know tonight. Jen Shahade wrote about Iryna Zenyuk's performance at the Chicago Open at Chess Life Online, shortly after playing in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship in Tulsa. There's a nice photo of Zenyuk and near the bottom in Betsy Dynako's mini photo-gallery, a nice photo of Hana Itkis. Okay, I'm looking at the cross-table for the Chicago Open - I don't think it reflects the final round. As it stands (without being updated), Zenyuk was in 31st place with 3.0 after Round 6. A quick look at the cross-table for the U-2300 shows Tatev Abrahamyan in second place with 5.0 after Round 6 (way to go Tatev!) Tatiana Vayserberg from Wisconsin (my home state) was in 24th with 4.0. Go, Tatiana! Chouchanik Airapetian, who did not have such a good U.S. Women's Chess Championship, was in 45th place with 3.0. Hana Itkis was in 67th place with 2.0.

Pengs are Prodigies in Chess

From YorkRegion.Com Michael Power, Staff Writer Published on May 26, 2008 Despite their young ages, Jackie and Janet Peng are clear on what it is about chess they enjoy. “The strategy and how you have to think what to do,” says Jackie, 10, who travels to Quebec City with her sister next month to compete in the Canadian Youth Chess Championship. Her younger sister Janet, 7, also enjoys the challenge the game offers. “The harder you play the harder you have to battle,” she says. The Richmond Hill sisters recently competed in their age groups at the Ontario Youth Chess Championship in Kitchener, organized by the internationally recognized Chess Federation of Canada. Not enough competitors signed up in the under-eight division, so Janet moved to playing against players 10 and younger, said the girls’ mother, Xuekun Xing. Both girls won in their age groups, she said. They can now continue to a national chess competition in Quebec City from July 14 to 17. Winners from that competition move on to the two-week World Youth Chess Championships in Vietnam this October. Jackie started playing chess about a year-and-a-half ago, Ms Xing said. She and her husband, Henry Ping, signed her up for a community program in the game and her school has a chess club. Jackie took to the game quickly, showing an ability to concentrate and think logically, said Mrs. Xing. “She got better and better and played more and more,” she said. “We saw she has a lot of potential in chess.” Jackie played in tournaments in the GTA representing Crosby Heights Public School and her parents signed her up with a private chess teacher two months ago. Janet learned the game largely by watching Jackie play with their father, Mrs. Xing said. She began playing regularly this year, as well, and soon gained skill. When the family arrived at the Kitchener tournament, her younger sibling asked to participate. They hadn’t expected to enter Janet, but registered her on the spot. Like her older sister, she won. “She has some talent, too,” Mrs. Xing said. The sisters also played in and won the Ontario Girls’ Chess Championship May 17. Jackie, especially, is studying hard for the Quebec City tournament. She takes two private lessons per week in the game, said Mrs. Xing. And according to their Thornhill chess teacher, the sisters could be a force during the competition. “I believe they have chances,” said Iuri Lebedev, noting it’s tough to say how good a chance that might be. Janet started playing more recently and does well for her age, while her older sibling competes among the best in her age group, said Mr. Lebedev, who has taught the game for 25 years.. Competing at that level is an achievement, given thousands of children play the game. But like sports, you have to be well-conditioned and healthy to play the game well, he said. Sitting for hours and thinking strategy takes more stamina than it might seem. And training beforehand and being well prepared add to the sisters’ chances. “We have some work to do,” Mr. Lebedev said.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Kings of New York

From Michael Weinreb's The Kings of New York, this is from the chapter "The Women in the Room." (The photo is 2003 U.S. Women's Chess Champion Anna Hahn, from an event in March, 2002.)

Anna Khan was sixteen years old and the reigning women's chess champion of Latvia when she enrolled at Murrow High School, the latest pubescent prodigy to arrive in Brooklyn from a distant corner of the crumbling Soviet empire. This was in 1993, ten years after Eliot Weiss founded the school's chess club and a few months after it won its first national championship. And for reasons entirely beyond Weiss's control, Anna Khan was the first female ever to compete on his traveling team.

Anna Khan would lead Murrow to two more national championships, in 1993 and 1994. Eventually, after changing her name to Anna Hahn, she won the U.S. Women's Championship in 2003 and earned the title of WIM, which is the abbreviation used for a "Women's International Master," a less stringent title than "International Master," and one that many of the best male players in the world deride as a second-class designation. On a Web site that archives past games from top players, the comments under Hahn's entry and photograph are a catalog of puerilities ("Anna Hahn can mate me any day. Growl.") But then, this is the way it has always been. Since the inception of competitive chess, the upper eschelons of the game have reeked of sexism, and women who dare intrude upon this sanctity are often treated with as much subtlety as if they'd wandered into the back room at Scores. "Guys aren't going to stand around and watch a guy's game because he's a guy," Bruce Pandolfini says. "Maybe if he's Bobby Fischer, but not for any other reason. But that's not why they stand around women. And if they say it's for any other reason, they're lying."

Forty-five years earlier, when a U.S. women's champion named Lisa Lane drew a sudden barrage of media attention (she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and was profiled in Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine, which described her as "comely" and "shapely"), Fischer, an equal-opportunity bigot, dismissed her and her entire sex with a barrage of insults. "They can't concentrate, they don't have stamina, and they aren't creative," he said of female chess players. "They're all fish." And that attitude didn't cease with Fischer: in 2002, Garry Kasparov told the Times of London that "chess is a mixture of sport, psychological warfare, science, and art," and that "when you look at all these components, man dominates. Every single component of chess belongs to the areas of male domination."

Of the top players in the world, only one, Hungarian Judit Polgar, is female, and fewer than ten of the world's 950 international grandmasters are women. [This information is somewhat dated.] Some efforts are being made to alter this: in recent years, Kasparov's own foundation has sponsored an all-girls national championship. But there remains a consensus among many of the best male players that this imbalance exists for a reason, that women are not wired for chess in the same way as men, that they they are, by nature and through societal pressure, more social creatures, and that they would prefer to interact with others than be locked in a room by themselves, poring over esoteric middle-game theory. Which is why most of these girls, when they reach the age of twelve or thirteen, an age that Bruce Pandolfini calls "crucial" to one's development as a chess player, simply fade away. Which is why approximately ninety-seven percent of competitive chess players in the United States happen to be male.

Of the thirty-five participants in the high-school varsity section at the city championships, two were girls. One of them was Anna Ginzburg, who came up through the Chess-in-the Schools program and landed one of those coveted spots at Stuyvesant High School. Ginzburg wears wire-rimmed glasses and has a tangle of thick brown hair and a penchant for feminine accessories, like her "Mrs. Affleck" tote bag. On the back of her Chronos digital clock, she's written her name in permanent marker, dotting the I with a flower and underlining the whole thing with a feminine flourish. when she was younger, she was painfully shy, but now she's gotten used to it, to being out-numbered and overlooked. At times, she is able to assimilate into this boys' world, beating them at cards and surprising them over the board and returning their banter when necessary. (Anna's rating is 1656, about the same as Oscar's whom she defeated at cities after an overconfident Oscar hung a rook). But the worst part, she says, is that when she travels to tournaments, she has so few people with whom she can share a hotel room. In that sense, she is very much on her own.

Because there is such disparity in numbers, the women who break through to competitive chess, the women who can manage to thrive amid a sea of testosterone, tend to be unique and forceful personalities. Some, like Elizabeth Vicary, admit that they thrive on the attention (one Russian women's GM, Alexandra Kosteniuk, has posed for so many risque photo shoots that she's been called "the Anna Kournikova of chess"). [Actually, Kosteniuk is a GM who just happens to be a woman]. Many say they've never felt discriminated against, and that if anything, it's just the opposite: men are so deferential, so cowed by their presence, that their brains often seize up and start melting when they play. Adults turn into randy adolescents. They make silly moves they would never make against other men, and when they are called on these things, they attribute their carelessness to the sex of their opponent: Against a man, I would never make such a move. "In most games, I am thinking about girls for fifty to seventy-five percent of the time, another fifteen percent goes to time management, and with what's left over I am calculating," grandmaster Alex Shabalov once admitted to Jennifer Shahade, the strongest female player ever to be born in this country.
* * * * * * *

I'll bet Shabalov never figured those words would be immortalized in such a way. Har! Oooohhhh, Alex, Mr. Ladies' Man.

The "Key Holders," Heroes of Afghanistan

Another compelling article about the current "Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan" exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The article contains photos of some of the treasures - check them out! 2,000-year-old treasures tell wild story NEELY TUCKER; The Washington Post Published: May 25th, 2008 01:00 AM An exhibit in Washington, D.C., reveals gold, intrigue and jewelry once buried in Afghanistan. The finds have survived looters and wars. WASHINGTON – You can go see Indiana Jones and the temple of whatever if you like, but it’s probably not going to be as good as the Bactrian Gold and the Secret of Tillya Tepe. The former is at any multiplex. The latter is at only the National Gallery of Art. It’s one of those ripping good yarns of yesteryear, the kind you used to see on cliffhanger serials before the main feature. This one is set in a dusty corner of Afghanistan. It’s about ancient art, looters, gravediggers, the Russians, the French, the Taliban, an invasion or three, civil war, the Silk Road, the Dragon Master and 22,607 pieces of gold and ivory and lapis and turquoise. There’s a surprising role played by pink Chinese toilet paper and six mysterious safes in a sealed underground vault at the presidential compound. OK, so the plot gets a little crowded. That tends to happen when your story is true and covers more than 2,000 years. The show is “Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures From the National Museum, Kabul,” and it is a remarkable display from a remote outpost in the world of antiquity: a dusty land of foreign traders, violent nomads, dangerous women and the unmistakable glint of gold. It has a great subplot of archaeologists winning one against the black market. It plays until Sept. 7. Like any good archaeological thriller, this one features valuable antiquities and modern twists, set into world-shaping international politics. After being covered by dirt and mud for nearly 2,000 years, most of the artifacts in this show were discovered in digs made during the 1930s or the 1970s. Then, once found, they were lost again, as the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the rise of the Taliban in 1996 raised successive clouds of dust over their whereabouts. Most archaeologists feared they had been lost forever to the black market or destroyed by the Taliban. Then, three years after the Sept. 11 attacks and the subsequent defeat of the Taliban, the sealed cases and footlockers were opened in vaults in the Arg, the Afghan presidential compound in Kabul. Nobody was sure what was in them – the keys had been lost – until they were broken open with a hammer, crowbar and finally a power saw. “This power saw starts going – bbbrrrzzzzttt!!! – and the sparks are flying, and at first I thought we were going to open them to find a couple of potatoes in a sack with a note saying, ‘We got here first! Your friends, the Taliban,’” says Frederik T. Hiebert, the show’s curator, who was representing the National Geographic Society when the safes were hacked open. “Or I thought the sparks would set something on fire, and it would burn up all these great artifacts inside.” Hiebert’s worries were well founded. It turned out much of the ivory and gold and glasswares had been packed in pink Chinese toilet paper. Which did not catch fire, and instead had preserved tens of thousands of items the wider world has not seen since the time of Christ. Here was the fabled Bactrian gold, named for the region in Afghanistan where it was found, in the graves discovered at a place called Tillya Tepe (“hill of gold”): Bracelets. Necklaces. A golden belt. A woman’s crown, thin hammered orbs of gold, designed to be pulled apart into five pieces and stored flat. Pendants depicting the Dragon Master of lore, a nomadic man holding a dragon’s foreleg in each hand. Here, in another case, ivory carvings from the ancient warehouses found in archaeological digs in the city of Begram. A woman astride a mythical leogryph. A fish-shaped flask, made of glass, stunningly blue. A bronze statue of the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis-Heracles. More than 23,000 objects in all. “This is probably our best picture of how the Silk Road actually worked,” Hiebert is saying, giving a walk-through of the exhibit. He gets enthusiastic, pointing to a series of decorative plaques. They are flat and rectangular and carved of ivory. They depict women in various poses, sitting, standing, reclining. All these were part of an elaborate chair or throne, the rest of which is missing. On the adjacent wall, a flat-screen monitor shows a rotating three-dimensional re-creation of how all the pieces would have been placed together on the throne. “This is the first time in 2,000 years anyone has seen that throne,” Hiebert says. The Silk Road of which you’ll hear much in this exhibit was not actually a single thoroughfare, but a series of trails, pathways and trading routes that ran from Rome, Greece and Egypt, and stretched all the way to China, with connections to Siberia, India and Persia. Those roads pretty much all ran through northern Afghanistan. “Nowhere in antiquity have so many different objects from so many different cultures – Chinese mirrors, Roman coins, daggers from Serbia – been found together in situ,” Viktor Ivanovich Sarianidi, the Russian archaeologist who made the historic find at Tillya Tepe in 1979, wrote in National Geographic in 1990. As recounted in that article, he was the leader of a joint Soviet-Afghan project that had been digging among ancient ruins in the region, off and on, for nine years. In 1978 he spotted a bit of painted potsherd on a nearby hillock. They dug beneath it. They uncovered a confusing site, as layers of villages from about 300 B.C. were lying atop the ruins of a massive edifice of walls and turrets more than 1,000 years older. That edifice had been built and collapsed and rebuilt, and apparently sat unused for more than 600 years. And amid these ancient ruins, they made a remarkable discovery: Tombs, from perhaps the 1st century A.D. It was a historic find, but civil war and the Soviet invasion were closing in. Sarianidi got the artifacts from the first six graves to Kabul before war broke out. He left in February 1979. In the intervening years, the national museum was bombed. Tons of Afghan artifacts turned up in Europe, traded on the black market. The Taliban, which did not allow graven images, destroyed more than 2,500 pieces of artwork in the museum. Archaeologists figured Sarianidi’s historic find had been sold off, melted down or destroyed. The find was thrilling in its day, but again, war intervened: World War II ended the dig. The artifacts were shipped to the national museum in Kabul and duly lost. It turns out they were in the footlockers in that vault in the Afghan presidential compound, the same place the goods from Tillya Tepe were taken. A small society of “tahilwidars,” or keyholders, had kept them safe, never saying a word about the treasure. Omara Khan Masoudi, the director of the national museum, was one. After the country was stabilized, they informed Karzai, and the world found them again. “To me, this exhibit isn’t just about archaeology, it’s about keeping culture alive, about real heroism in hiding and saving these artifacts,” Hiebert says. ********************************************************************************** The tahilwidars are heroes.

Women Warriors

I've made a point in this blog of writing about some of the history of women in war and women warriors. It is a tradition that goes back into the mists of time, something about which I am still learning (for we sure didn't study any of this stuff in school!) and now studying. (A few good resources to get you started: "Warrior Women," by Jeannine Davis Kimball, Ph.D.; "Women Warriors: A History," by David E. Jones; "Woman As Force in Long History: A Study in Traditions and Realities", by Mary Beard) Women have always fought, usually side by side with their husbands, fathers and brothers. History has given short-shrift to them, but there are examples from every age of women warriors who have made it into the history books. The thought of women being "too fragile" to fight seems to be a peculiarly late 19th century concept out of the age of Victoria that, at some levels, still seems to hold root in popular imagination in western cultures today but which denies a very different reality. Now, with the advent of "modern" warfare, more women warriors than ever are being injured and killed in the line of duty. This op-ed piece from The New York Times brings home some bitter truths about a different kind of injury in today's reality of women in war: For Women Warriors, Deep Wounds, Little Care By HELEN BENEDICT Published: May 26, 2008 THIS Memorial Day, as an ever-increasing number of mentally and physically wounded soldiers return from Iraq, the Department of Veterans Affairs faces a pressing crisis: women traumatized not only by combat but also by sexual assault and harassment from their fellow service members. Sadly, the department is failing to fully deal with this problem. Women make up some 15 percent of the United States active duty forces, and 11 percent of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly a third of female veterans say they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military, and 71 percent to 90 percent say they were sexually harassed by the men with whom they served. This sort of abuse drastically increases the risk and intensity of post-traumatic stress disorder. One study found that female soldiers who were sexually assaulted were nine times more likely to show symptoms of this disorder than those who weren’t. Sexual harassment by itself is so destructive, another study revealed, it causes the same rates of post-traumatic stress in women as combat does in men. And rape can lead to other medical crises, including diabetes, asthma, chronic pelvic pain, eating disorders, miscarriages and hypertension. The threat of post-traumatic stress has risen in recent years as women’s roles in war have changed. More of them now come under fire, suffer battle wounds and kill the enemy, just as men do. As women return for repeat tours, usually redeploying with their same units, many must go back to war with the same man (or men) who abused them. This leaves these women as threatened by their own comrades as by the war itself. Yet the combination of sexual assault and combat has barely been acknowledged or studied. Last month, when the RAND Corporation released the biggest non-military survey of the mental health of troops since 2001, it unwittingly reflected this lack of research. The survey found that women suffer from higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression than men do, but it neglected to look into why this might be, and asked no questions about abuse from fellow soldiers. Terri Tanielian, the project’s co-editor, told me that RAND needs more money to explore these higher rates of trauma among women. As the more than 191,500 women who have served in the Middle East since 2001 return home, they will increasingly flood the Veterans Affairs system. To ask those who need help for post-traumatic stress disorder to turn to a typical Veterans Affairs hospital, built in the 1950s and designed to treat men, is untenable. Women who have been raped or sexually assaulted often cannot face therapy groups or medical facilities full of men. At the moment, the Department of Veterans Affairs operates only six inpatient post-traumatic stress disorder programs specifically for women. And although all 153 department-run hospitals will treat women, only 22 have stand-alone women’s clinics that offer a full range of medical and psychological services. This number of clinics may seem adequate for the 1.7 million female veterans currently at home, especially since they represent only 7.2 percent of all veterans at the moment, but it isn’t. Many clinics are miles from where soldiers live, and many more are open only a few hours a week and lack staff members trained to deal with sexual assault, let alone assault combined with combat trauma. The Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to open more clinics for post-traumatic stress disorder, but how many will be only for women remains undecided. Women are the fastest-growing group of veterans, and by 2020 they are projected to account for 20 percent of all veterans under the age of 45. Not all of these women will have suffered sexual assault, but many will have medical or psychological needs that conventional department hospitals cannot meet. The Department of Veterans Affairs must open more comprehensive women’s health clinics, designate more facilities for women who have endured both combat and military sexual trauma and finance more support groups specifically for female combat veterans. The best way to honor all of our soldiers is to do what we can to help them mend. Helen Benedict, a professor of journalism at Columbia, is the author of the novel “The Opposite of Love” and the forthcoming “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq.” ************************************************************************************* I did not publish this piece to denigrate the service of our male warriors. They, too, are being short-changed by inadequate funding of veterans' support and medical services. The situation as it exists today is absolutely appalling! If our President is willing to send our brave members of the armed forces and the armed forces reserves into dangerous combat situations, we as a nation should do whatever it takes and fund whatever it costs to serve them and treat them when they are injured as a result of service for their country. Anything less is just a disgrace, pure and simple. If we have trillions to fight wars in foreign lands, why don't we have trillions to treat and provide services to our veterans? Shame shame on the President. Shame shame on Congress.

News from the Ken Whyld Association

Photo: Isis and Ken Whyld, IGK Symposium, Amsterdam, November, 2001. From personal album, taken by dondelion.

From the Ken Whyld Association website:
New Chess Literature

Alessandro Sanvito has written a new book about old chess manuscripts: Scacchi manoscritti (120 p.; price: 22.-- €) has been published by Caissa Italia editore where you will find further details.

A new Correspondence Chess Database on CD Ultracorr 2 has been announced by Tim Harding for June/July 2008 which will only be produced if at least 60 advance orders will be received by end of May. The advance price is 32 Euro. Orders can be made via his web site, here the direct link to the order page. Moreover a new book on olympiads has been announced by Mario Tal, you will find more details (in English / German) in this pdf-file!

A number 9 of Dr Hans Ellinger's series "Tübinger Beiträge zum Thema Schach" a reprint of the Lasker drama Vom Menschen die Geschichte [The History of Man] has just been published, you will learn all essential things from this flyer which also contains an order slip (in German; pdf-file).

The KWA serves a worthwhile cause, originally championed by chess historian Ken Whyld (d. July, 2003). Ken spent the greater part of his life researching and writing about chess and its history (including the elusive origins of the game) and amassed a huge collection of chess literature and writings on chess that were, after his death, donated by his widow to the Swiss Museum of Games, curator Dr. Ulrich Schadler (a friend of Goddesschess). Please consider supporting the worthy goals of the KWA via membership.


Mr. Don has put together this week's edition of "Random Round-up" at Goddesschess (it's on the main page, on the right hand side, underneath Access Mundae). Mr. Don has outdone himself this week, LOL! Please visit and check out the poster he put together for "Arkansas Smith and the Temple of Chess," featuring stars of Goddesschess from left to right: Isis, Mr. Don, yours truly as the Woman in Dark Glasses and our resident beautiful young person, Michelle. Rock Crystal is his theme this week, and he takes us on an adventure in chessly directions...

Memorial Day 2008

My Dad died in early November, 2002, at 80 years of age. He was a WWII vet, like the fathers of so many of my baby-boomer generation. I think about my Dad all the time, but especially on Memorial Day.

This year, I noticed for the first time that there were no veterans out in the shopping malls and the stores selling red poppies. Why not? What happened? I've always bought a poppy, even when I was just a kid and I didn't even know what it meant, just because Dad said we should always remember and buy a poppy from a veteran. Even when I was a punk-butt teenager who thought she knew it all, I always bought a poppy (although I would hide it inside my purse). As I got older and learned something more about life and the world, I would seek out the veterans who'd be out on the street corners or inside shopping centers selling their poppies a few weeks before Memorial Day. But I saw no veterans selling poppies this year. Is it because so many VFW posts have closed, all their members either dead or too old to participate any more? Where are the younger veterans? Do they not care to carry on the tradition (at least, in my hometown)?

This is my Dad in his uniform (Army, enlisted man). He sure was a handsome guy. He had light blue eyes and curly hair. As a kid his hair was light blonde but it grew darker as he grew older. By the time I was born in 1951 all vestiges of his blondness had gone, leaving him with brown curly hair, but he passed on the blonde hair and blue eyes to several of my siblings. In the strange way of genetics, I inherited the "dark" streak from the Newton side of the family - olive-toned skin, dark auburn hair, brown/hazel eyes and a petite bone structure, like two of my "Italian" looking Newton aunts! My hair was always stick straight until a few years ago, I noticed a definite "frizz" starting to develop, much to my horror! Now when I wash my hair and let it dry naturally, it is quite wavy (and it frizzes in the humidity of the Wisconsin climate, eek!) A legacy from my Dad, I guess, that is showing up in my "mature" years (no comments from the peanut gallery about my age, thank you very much!)

To all of our veterans and their families, my heart is with you today. I miss my dad a lot, but I'm glad to have known him. He was a wonderful man.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Mehen was both a goddess - the protector of Ra - and one of the earliest known board games played in Egypt. (Image: Mehen, British Museum, c. 2800 BCE). While online you'll find many references to Mehen as a "god," in her archaic form Mehen was definitely a female protectoress of the Sun God, perhaps closely allied with (or perhaps, an incarnation of or subsumed into) the Egyptian serpent-goddess and protectoress of Pharaoh, Uadjet. Upon the uniting of Upper and Lower Egypt, the vulture goddess Nekbhet of Upper Egypt and the serpent goddess Uadjet (also known as Buto) of Lower Egypt were united in one of the ceremonial crowns worn by Pharaoh to protect the physical incarnation of Ra on earth.

Stone Mehen board games have been recovered from First Dynasty Egyptian tombs but it's origins lies somewhere in the pre-dynastic period. The game gradually lost favor over the ensuing thousand plus years after the founding of the united Egyptian kingdom and ceased to be played in Egypt during the Intermediate Period. According to Peter Piccione, "Later in the Saite Period, the play of the game is again depicted on the walls of two tombs, as part of the neo-Memphite revival--when Old Kingdom artistic motives and themes were temporarily revived for socio-political purposes. The pattern strongly suggests that the *mehen*-game ceased to be played in Egypt after the Old Kingdom."

By that time, Senet and the 58-hole game (or Hounds and Jackals) were very popular in Egypt and Senet had taken on religious significance and mystical connotations that may have been appropriated from Mehen.

A form of Mehen evidently continued to be played by the Baggara Arabs of the Sudan called "the Hyena game." The modern "Game of the Goose" which also employs a spiral playing board is not, however, related to ancient Mehen.

For general information on Mehen:
P.S. Neely's website entry on Mehen (including post done by Peter Piccione in 1994 on the old ANE network)

Pascal Romain's website entry on Mehen (he posits a date as far back as 6000 BCE for the game outside of Egypt)

See also Board Game Geek, although it really is not known just why Mehen ceased to be played in Egypt, Neely's speculations (based on Kendall's) aside.

Mehen the Enveloper from Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:" Egyptian serpent-goddess who enclosed the Phallus of Ra every night, as Hindu phallic gods were enveloped in their sleep cycles by the serpent-goddess called Infinity. See Serpent.

Walker's entry under "Serpent" is 7 pages long! There's a thunderstorm going on here now, I'm going to power down for the night -

2008 President's Cup

Held in Baku, Azerbaijan May 12 – 20, 2008 I'm a little late reporting the final standings - it took me awhile to work my way down the list and confirm the chess femmes because I was not familiar with most of the names! 1 9 GM Najer Evgeniy 2627 RUS 7,5 ($7,000) (not a chess femme!) 16 24 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2538 BUL 6,5 ($600) 43 38 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2449 GER 5,5 ($500) 56 52 WGM Khotenashvili Bela 2333 GEO 5,0 ($400) 57 54 IM Zozulia Anna 2332 BEL 5,0 ($300) 59 59 WIM Batsiashvili Nino 2304 GEO 5,0 ($200) 64 56 WGM Mamedjarova Zeinab 2322 AZE 5,0 ($200) 67 128 Abdulla Khayala 1982 AZE 5,0 69 63 WGM Mamedjarova Turkan 2271 AZE 5,0 74 80 WIM Gavasheli Ana 2191 GEO 5,0 83 111 Kazimova Narmin 2072 AZE 4,5 87 83 WFM Mammadova Gulnar 2188 AZE 4,5 88 102 Agasiyeva Fidan (AZE 2095), 4.5 90 98 Huseynova Sahar (AZE 2106), 4.5 91 79 Isgandarova Khayala 2193 AZE 4,5 98 99 Khudaverdieva Afag 2104 AZE 4,5 102 95 WFM Ni Viktorija 2120 LAT 4,5 112 118 Asgarova Turan (AZE 2020), 4.0 117 130 Babazade Jale (AZE 1974), 4.0 120 119 Guliyeva Sabina 2020 AZE 4,0 121 147 Soyunlu Narmin (AZE 1784), 4.0 128 132 Agayeva Gulshan (AZE 1956), 4.0 129 140 Hasanova Turkan 1897 AZE 3,5 131 74 WIM Umudova Nargiz 2222 AZE 3,5 134 131 Mammadova Aysel Alishiraz qizi 1962 AZE 3,5 139 124 Agayeva Aytan 1989 AZE 3,5 142 121 WCM Fataliyeva Ulviyyya (AZE 2003), 3.5 146 172 Kazimova Firuza Bakhlul qizi 1700 AZE 3,0 156 Khalafova Narmin Ilgar qizi 1954 AZE 2,0 174 156 Khalafova Narmin Ilgar qizi 1954 AZE 2,0 180 171 Karimova Nazrin Faiq qizi 1700 AZE 1,0

2008 U.S. Senior Open

I looked down the final standings table for chess femmes in this 78 player event held in Boca Raton, Florida April 28 - May 3, 2008. I found one - and only one, Hannalore Catania (1800), who finished in 69th place with 1.5 The event was won by IM Larry Kaufman (2383) with a perfect score of 5.0/5. Here are some familiar names who also played in the tournament: (5) IM Joseph M. Bradford (2467), 5.0 (7) GM Dmitry Gurevich (2594), 5.0 (16) Jerry Hanken (2200), 3.0 (30) Eric D. Moskow (2248), 3.0 (a very young "senior") (36) Al Lawrence (2000), 2.5 (38) Tim Redman (2000), 2.5 (78) Joel Channing (1283), 0.0

Chess in Africa

We don't see much news about chess in Africa. Here's an article about a tournament that Johnnie Walker Black Label Company sponsored in Ghana. Story posted at Hasford wins Chess Championship By GNA Sun, 25 May 2008 Sports News John Kojo Hasford scored 4.5 points, to win the Black Label National Chess Championship played at the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra on Saturday. Peter Anane-Nsiah, Francis Anquandah, John O’Neil and Kees Hoogenda scored four points each to take the second, third, fourth and fifth positions in that order. The one-day competition, which attracted about 80 players, was sponsored by Johnie Walker Black Label Company. Mr Eddie Thompson, Vice Chairman of the Ghana Chess Association said the association would do everything possible to ensure that the game was developed. He appealed to corporate bodies and institutions to help the association in its developmental efforts. The next competition will be held on July 1.

A History of the Governess

As an avid reader of "historical" (a/k/a romantic) fiction, particularly period Regency romances, I am intimately acquainted with the poor lot of the governess. Of course, the most famous governess in literature is probably the fictional "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte (at least, I think it was Charlotte - well, it was one of the Bronte sisters). There have been several "made for t.v." movies and some theatrical releases made of Jane Eyre's story - and I've watched every single one. My personal favorite is the one that stars the ugly George C. Scott as Mr. Rochester and the fabulous actress Susannah York as Jane (1970 made for t.v.) I've yet to see a performance equal hers as Jane Eyre. So, here is a book on the history of the British governess, aptly titled: Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres, by Ruth Brandon. Sounds rather fascinating, if uneven (according to the New York Times review).

Exhibit to bring temple of Artemis to İstanbul

From Today's Zaman May 22, 2008 Archaeological finds from Artemision, the Temple of Artemis in the ancient Aegean site of Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, will be exhibited for the first time in İstanbul. The exhibition, "Artemision: A Temple of a Goddess," will be inaugurated today at the İstanbul Archaeology Museum with a ceremony that visiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer will attend. The exhibition will showcase 453 items on loan from the Ephesus Museum in Selçuk and 72 works from the İstanbul Archaeology Museum's own inventory, reported the Anatolia news agency. The artifacts to be displayed include bronze, glazed, precious metal, ivory and amber findings from the archaic period and about 100 electron coins created in the oldest known coin minting in history. Some of these artifacts were preserved in the treasury room of the İstanbul Archaeology Museum and have not been on display since 1970. Likewise, a majority of the artifacts brought from the Ephesus Museum will be put on public display for the first time, Anatolia said. The Temple of Artemis, or Artemision in Greek, was designed and built by Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes in 550 B.C. The construction of this all-marble temple was financed by Lydian King Kroisos. The temple was unearthed by British archaeologist John Turtle Wood in 1870 after a long search that lasted for seven years. Upon application by the British Museum, David Gorge Hoghart started conducting archaeological excavations in 1905 on the temple and its surrounding area. These excavations unearthed not only parts of the temple, but also thousands of amber, bronze, ivory and glazed objects and coins dating back to sixth and seventh centuries B.C. Since 1965, the excavations at the site have been carried out by an Austrian team of archeologists, who discovered new findings that helped shed more light on the architecture of the temple. By expanding the excavations, the team found important evidence that relates to the early period of the temple dating back to the second millennium B.C. ********************************************************************************* More information on the Temple of Artemis (a/k/a Diana) at Ephesus, including photographs. This information makes it clear that this incarnation of Artemis was actually related to the Anatolian mother goddess Cybele, who wore a tower on her head as a crown (representing city walls).
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