Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Goddess Osun

From Nigerians flock back to their deserted gods Austrian leads the religious revolution It appears the western and eastern gods no longer appeal to some Nigerian natives of the Yoruba tribe as the annual Osogbo festival of the river-goddess Osun has had increasing participation by the year. Sunday 14 September 2008, by Konye Obaji Ori Surprisingly, thousands of people attended this year’s festival at the sacred grove to seek Osun’s blessings. The turn out is reported to have surpassed that of the previous year. With fasting and prayers not seeming to bring prosperity, healing and blessings amongst the citizens of an economically crawling country ravaged by corruption and mismanagement, some people have given up on the wait for a heaven promised after death, to seek the earthly blessings of the once charitable river goddess. The goddess, despite being abandoned by her people when foreign gods were enforced on them could have been more than happy to receive back her lost flocks. The followers were reported to scramble down to the river’s edge in the sacred grove, to drink of its water and be blessed by the white-robe-wearing priestesses of the dust-brown river. It is rather Ironic that the priestess of the goddess is someone whose people had come between the goddess and her people in the past. The 94-year-old Austrian who has lived in Osogbo for 58 years and has become a high priestess of Osun was glad to see the natives scuttle back to their original deity. The followers at the shrine offered sacrifices of goats, cows, chickens, rams, palm oil, yam tubers, kola nuts and everything they could offer at the feet of wooden built statues of the spirits in the grove. The goddess main blessing is said to be fertility and children who were born after sacrifices were made to her were brought back to the river for baptism. As the offerings were made, people cleansed themselves of bad spirits by passing their hands over their heads and clicking their fingers while professing good tidings on themselves. A native servant of the shrine took the offerings to the waters’ edge and tipped them in. The people screamed in excitement because it meant that their connection with the spirit world was renewed for another year. They could now hope the ritual will guarantee them prosperity and success. So if the social system, political and economic policies favour the masses and brings about prosperity, their prayers would have been answered.

The Kumari - From the Other Side

From The Sunday Tribune of India Sunday, September 14, 2008 Hope for the goddess Nepal’s Kumaris, who are shunned and denied basic rights when they lose their ‘divine’ status, can now look forward to a better and normal future, thanks to a ruling by the country’s apex court, writes Sudeshna Sarkar WHEN Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, chief of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the country’s former guerrilla party, was sworn in as the young Himalayan republic’s new prime minister, the event was hailed internationally as the climax to an amazing revolution that had ended the reign of the 239-year-old dynasty of the Shah kings, once regarded as incarnations of Vishnu. Along with that momentous event, Pundevi Maharjan (30) also quietly ushered in another revolution in a country that has been ruled by tradition and strong religious beliefs. The young lawyer has won a battle against Nepal’s famous Kumari tradition, setting in motion a change that will in future end the myth of virgin goddesses. "I come from the Shakya Bajracharya clan," Maharjan says. "They are Buddhists who were also the first inhabitants of the Kathmandu valley. Though Buddhists, it is the priests of this community who choose the Kumaris — Nepal’s living goddesses." After Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, the Buddhist shrines of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath, and the Hindu temple of Pashupati, the Kumari is probably the best known image of Nepal. The young girl wearing a crown and with a third eye painted on her forehead, who gazes out impassively from an intricately carved wooden window, draws tens of thousands of tourists as well as devotees every year. Regarded as an incarnation of Taleju Bhawani, the goddess of power, as well as the protector of the royal family, the Kumari was believed to have divine powers. She is also the only living being before whom the kings of Nepal bowed in obeisance. Nepal boasts of 11 Kumaris, who are chosen by priests from the Bajracharya community on the basis of certain criteria. The chosen one’s horoscope has to be compatible with the reigning king’s and she has to be free from any physical blemishes. The Kumari also has to be a prepubescent girl who loses her divine status once she begins menstruation. She is then succeeded by a new Kumari. Once selected, the Kumari leaves her family to go and reside in the Kumari Ghar — the palace designated for her in Kathmandu — where she has her own retinue. She is not allowed to leave the palace on her own and she must not walk on the ground. The most important of the 11 Kumaris is taken out in a chariot and has a red carpet placed before her so that her feet don’t touch the ground. "When I was in college, I began to marvel at the Kumaris," says Maharjan, who had filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court three years ago, saying that the Kumaris’ rights as children had been grossly violated. Once they lost their divine status and had to leave the palace, most found it hard to assimilate. Some had no education and had to start school at the age of 11, when they were placed in the same class with five or six-year-olds. They were also the victims of superstitions, like the belief that if a man married a Kumari, he would die. But no one ever thought of the trauma a former Kumari undergoes. A glaring example of the restrictions the Kumaris suffered is, Maharjan says, the case of Sajani Shakya, who until recently was the Kumari of Bhaktapur town. In an unprecedented move, her priests sacked the nine-year-old after she went to the US to attend a documentary festival that also screened a film on the Kumaris, including herself. Sajani’s priests said she had lost her holiness by going abroad and eating "impure" food. After fighting the suit for two years, Maharjan got a shot in the arm when she joined the Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), a leading NGO in Nepal that has been fighting for the abolition of anti-women laws and for protection of women. Nepal’s apex court recently ordered the government to protect the rights of the Kumaris. "Though the convention of child rights and interim constitution of Nepal have guaranteed minor girls the right to education and health, only some Kumaris enjoy these rights," judges Balaram K.C. and Top Bahadur Magar said. "There should be no bar on Kumaris going to school and enjoying health-related rights. They should not be treated as bonded labourers and there should be no restriction on their free movement." The judges have ordered the government to form a five-member committee from related ministries that would study the condition of the Kumaris and submit its report within a year. In addition, they have asked the Ministry for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to draw up a second committee to recommend schemes for providing former Kumaris with social security. Maharjan says she faced ostracism and harassment from her community when she filed the suit. She was accused of trying to humiliate her own people and of destroying a tradition that was the backbone of national culture. "I did not seek to have the Kumari tradition abolished," she says spiritedly. "I only want it to be modernised and freed from harmful practices. Instead of being treated like divine beings, the Kumaris should be seen as cultural icons that are unique to Nepal." Sapana Pradhan Malla, one of the founders of FWLD and currently a Member of Parliament (MP), who has been entrusted with the task of drafting a new constitution for Nepal, says the community should be asked to modernise the Kumari tradition. "There are other traditions related to women and religion that are harmful to women," she says. "Like Deuki (akin to India’s devdasi tradition in which a young girl is offered to a god and who finally ends up as a sex worker) and Jhuma (the tradition of a Buddhist family offering at least one girl child to become a nun without considering her wishes). While the Kumari is not like that, yet, it has to be viewed with different eyes." "Nepalis decided to abolish monarchy," says Janardan Sharma, one of the deputy commanders of the People’s Liberation Army, the Maoists’ guerrilla army, who is now a legislator. "We need to abolish all institutions associated with the crown. There is no need for Kumaris, Jhumas or Deukis." But the moderates in the party have decided to skirt the issue for now, fearing a public outcry. "The Kumari is not just associated with the king as his protective deity," says Dinanath Sharma, another Maoist lawmaker. "She is also a cultural symbol." — WFS

Tomb of Eve?

An interesting money-making scam for the local community... (Image: Eve, the Serpent, and Death, by Hans Baldung Grien c. 1520-25 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). From The New York Times By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: September 10, 2008 Filed at 10:09 a.m. ET JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- On a sweltering August morning, a small group of Iranians crowded outside the green metal door of a cemetery. They wanted to go in to look at the remains of one particular tomb: the tomb of biblical Eve. Like hundreds of Muslims who visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage in nearby Mecca, the Iranians had heard the legend that Eve was buried in that spot. The two blue signs inscribed with ''The Graveyard of our mother Eve'' flanking the cemetery entrance appeared to add credibility to a story passed on by generations of Saudis but never scientifically proven. ''We hear this is the tomb of Eve,'' said Minoo Ghadimkhani, 45. ''That is why we want to go in.'' There is no archaeological evidence old enough to authenticate the story of Eve's burial in Jiddah, according to many Bible experts. But that hasn't kept the legend from persisting. Some say that the city's name, when pronounced as ''Jaddah'' -- an Arabic word that means grandmother -- is a reference to Eve. No one really knows how the story originated, and many in this Red Sea port city dismiss it as a myth. ''It's a legend, but it is one mentioned by many scholars,'' said Sami Nawar, general director for culture and tourism. Nawar, an expert on the history of old Jiddah, likes to lace a bit of the legend into his presentations on the city to visiting foreign dignitaries and journalists. ''Jiddah is the most feminine city in the whole world because it has Eve,'' Nawar says. The Quran, Islam's holy book, talks about Adam and Eve's expulsion from paradise after eating from the fruit of the forbidden tree. It does not say where they appeared on earth. But Arab tradition puts Adam in the holy city of Mecca, which is 70 kilometers (43 miles) east of Jiddah, where God ordered him to build the Kaaba, the sacred stone structure that Muslims face during their five daily prayers, according to Nawar. God then told Adam to go to a hill in Mecca to repent for his sins, said Nawar. After he repented, God sent him Eve, and the hill became known as Mount Arafat, from the Arabic word that means to know, he added. That story places Eve, Hawwa in Arabic, in the vicinity of Jiddah, which is the entry point for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca. It could explain how the legend of her burial began. Arab and Western historians and travelers have described a tomb outside the walls of old Jiddah that they referred to as Eve's Graveyard. Historian Hatoon al-Fassi said 9th century Mecca historian al-Fakihi reported that two of Prophet Muhammad's companions, Ibn Abbas and Ibn Massoud, mentioned Eve's tomb. The prophet died in 623. Writing about Jiddah in his ''Travels,'' Ibn Jubayr, a 12th century geographer, traveler and poet, born in Valencia, then the seat of an Arab emirate, says that ''in it is a place having an ancient and lofty dome, which is said to have been the lodging place of Eve, the mother of mankind, God's blessing upon her when on her way to (Mecca).'' The passage was quoted by the Arab News, a Saudi paper. The tomb no longer exists. And it's not clear how it was destroyed. Those who have been inside the cemetery say that in its place is a row of unmarked tombs, and there's nothing to indicate the tomb had been there. (The Wahhabi strain of Islam bans the marking of tombs, and women in the Saudi kingdom are barred from entering cemeteries.) William Dever, a professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at the University of Arizona and a prominent U.S. archaeologist, said there just isn't any archaeological evidence going back far enough to back up the claims. ''The problem is that these are all legends, these are all myths and we can't date them,'' said Dever, who specializes in the history of Israel and Near East in biblical times. ''My guess is the story could go back two or three thousand years, but we don't have any archaeological proof.'' ''There are lots of traditional tombs of saints of various kinds in the Middle East,'' he added. ''But they are never excavated or investigated scientifically.'' Asked if he had heard of any other final resting place for Eve, Dever said, ''No. There are tombs of Abraham all over the place, but I don't honestly know in Israel or the West Bank or Jordan of any Eve tomb in these places.'' On the quiet street of the cemetery, which faces low-rise, rundown buildings, the Eve legend remains alive even though those who grew up with the story don't really believe it. Ahmed Bakoudij, a 32-year-old mechanic, said he called his garage ''Hawwa's Garage'' despite his skepticism. ''I've been hearing about Hawwa's grave since I was a kid,'' said Bakoudij. ''But no one believes it. I have to see it with my own eyes to believe it.'' ''But,'' he added, ''if I ever have kids, I'll pass on the legend to them.'' Grocer Saleh Ba-Aqeel said hundreds of Muslim pilgrims from Iran, Indonesia and other countries visit the cemetery, especially before and after the annual hajj pilgrimage. ''When they come and ask me if Eve is really buried here, I tell them, 'God only knows,''' said Ba-Aqeel.
"Jaddah" is grandmother in Arabic - interesting. The connection of Adam/Eve to the kaaba is also interesting, since Mecca (Makkah) is an ancient center of goddess worship (the Triple Goddess) prior to the advent of Islam. It goes without saying that the black granite square built on the site of the original goddesses' temple (now inside a giant courtyard enclosed by a mosque) incorporates a sacred meterorite (like the meteorite that was worshipped as the Goddess Diana in ancient Ephesus) was NOT built by Adam who, if he existed, lived hundreds of thousands of years before its construction! Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" contains a lengthy entry on Eve, which I won't post in full here, just some interesting pieces from which I've omitted footnoted references: The biblical title of Eve, "Mother of All Living," was a translation of Kali Ma's title Jaganmata. She was also known in India as Jiva or Ieva, the Creatress of all manifested forms. ... The original Eve had no spouse except the serpent, a living phallus she created for her own sexual pleasure. Some ancient peoples regarded the Goddess and her serpent as their first parents. [for instance, the most ancient myths of China point to a half-human/half-serpent Empress and Emperor who created all living things and all useful arts and crafts for mankind]. Sacred icons showed the Goddess giving life to a man, while her serpent coiled around the apple tree behind her. Deliberate misinterpretation of such icons produced ideas for revised creation myths like the one in Genesis. ... [Eve was sometimes named] Nahemah, Naama, or Namrael, who gave birth to the original man and woman. One of Eve's Tantric names was Adita Eva: "the Very Beginning." In northern Babylonia, Eve was known as "the divine Lady of Eden," or "Goddess of the Tree of Life." Assyrians called her Nin-Eveh, "Holy Lady Eve," after whom their capital was named. ... The secret of God's "Name of power," the Tetragrammaton, was that three-quarters of it invoked not God, but Eve. YHWH, yod-he-vau-he, came from the Hebrew root HWH, meaning both "life" and "woman" - in Latin letters, E-V-E. [Compare to Arabic "Hawwa" mentioned in the article above]. With the addition of an I (yod), it amounted to the Goddess' invocation of her own name as the Word of creation, a common idea in Egypt and other ancient lands. ... Gnostic scriptures ... said Eve not only created Adam and obtained his admission to heaven; she was the very soul within him, as Shakti was the soul of every Hindu god and yogi. Adam couldn't live without "power from the Mother," so she descended to earth as "the Good Spirit, the Thought of Light called by him 'Life' (Hawwa)."
Where did the horrid fear of women (and their subsequent subjugation and persecution that such fear engenders) that permeates so much religion today come from? Why, for instance, would the particular brand of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia ban women from cemeteries (see article above)!?! Perhaps it is because, like all mother goddesses, Eve not only had the power to create and give life, she had the power to destroy and take life away. In other words, the Mother reflected the natural cycle of all living things: creation/birth, coming to fruition/reproduction, old age/decay, death, reincorporation into the earth/resurrection (reincarnation) into new life. Walker puts it this way: "This was the real origin of the church fathers' fear and hatred of women, which expanded into a sexist attitude that permeated all of western society: Woman was identified with Death. Her countervailing responsibility for birth was taken away, and the creation of life was lad to the credit of the Father-god, whose priests claimed he could remove the curse of death. ... Medieval theologians said Adam was forgiven (for his original sin). ... but for Eve there was no forgiveness. No peace was offered to her or her daughters. Presumably, they were left behind in hell. Christian theologians espoused the same theory as Persian patriarchs, that heaven was closed to all women except those who were submissive and worshipped their husbands as gods." Personally, I'd rather go to hell. Learn more about Eve from Christopher Witcombe.

Chess on Television

From Fitchburg Pride (Massachusetts) online newspaper: On Monday, September 15, 2008 FATV, Channel 8, will broadcast at 7 p.m. another episode of "Chess Chat," a program hosted by Martin Laine and George Mirijanian, members of the Wachusett Chess Club at Fitchburg State College. The program's subject will be the 2008 New England Open Chess Championship, held over the Labor Day weekend in Boxborough, and will feature some of the local players who competed.

A Disappointing Loss for Koneru

There was plenty of game by game coverage in the Indian press during the Women's World Chess Championship as several Indian players participated in the knock-out event. The highest rated player at the WWCC and the second highest-rated female player in the world (behind only Judit Polgar), GM Koneru Humpy, lost during a second round of play-off games to 14 year old GM-elect Hou Yifan of China:
  • Humpy out of world championship (9/12/08) - Grandmaster Koneru Humpy bowed out of the World Women Chess Championship succumbing to 14-year old Yifan Hao of China in the blitz tiebreak games of the semi-finals
  • Yifan in final (9/13/08) - Chinese prodigy Hou Yifan inflicted a heart-breaking twin-defeat on second seed K. Humpy in the two five-minute blitz games for a 4-2 victory in the semifinals of the Women’s World chess championship...

It seems probable at this point that Hou will overtake Koneru on the women's ratings list by the end of 2008 and will storm toward 2700, much as another teen "prodigy" has - Magnus Carlsen (now storming toward 2800). Will Hou be unstoppable? If she wins the women's title, will she gun for the "men's" title? Hey Topalov, Aronian, Carlsen, Anand, et al., watch out boys!

Well, okay, maybe not. I don't think Hou is the best female player in the world - she's still extremely unseasoned and she hasn't had enough experience playing against higher-rated male players. Her results over the past couple of years have been highly inconsistent. Let's see what happens over the next three years or so.

Accused Killers of Chess Player on Trial

From website of Union for Councils of Jews in the Former Soviet Union Trial Begins of Moscow Neo-Nazis Accused of Killing Chess Player (September 12, 2008) The trial of a neo-Nazi youth gang accused of killing the internationally known chess player Sergey Nikolaev has begun in Moscow, according to a September 12, 2008 article in the national daily "Kommersant." The 13 defendants, aged 16-18, face between five and 22 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors accuse the youths of two murders, ten attempted murders, and hate crimes. The trial is closed to the public, due to the under-aged status of most of the defendants. Moscow's chief prosecutor Yuri Syomin, referred to the gang's leader as "mentally retarded" but it is unclear if that is true, in which case it may have an impact on potentially sentencing, or if he meant it as an insult.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola! Ohmygoddess! Humpy lost the second game of the second set of play-off games today in Nalchik (where?) and has been eliminated from the Women's World Chess Championship by 14 year old Hou Yifan. So, it's Hou Yifan v. Alexandria Kosteniuk for the final. Now that every last one of my favorite players is out of the championship, I've totally lost interest. But I must - I simply must - suck it up and report on it at Chess Femme News. And I will - I swear. I will.
There's a long involved story about how I decided to set up a wireless computer network at home - I should have done it LONG ago! But, being technologically challenged I finally did not get serious about the idea until Sunday, when I purchased a new laptop computer. I'd been pricing them and doing comparison shopping for months, and finally pulled the trigger on a nice Toshiba for a great price. That got me thinking about how I'd be using this laptop at home. One modem - one desktop connected to modem, connected to the one and only phone jack upstairs. Where would I connect the laptop to the internet? Oops! Time to go wireless, Jan. And so I did some research online and it looked like a relatively simple procedure to hook it up, I just had to get the right components (wireless router and, for the desktop which I purchased in 2003 without wireless capability, a USB wireless adaptor). Purchasing the stuff was the easy part - I had a list of my top 3 picks and went to the OfficeMax in the mall on my lunch hour Wednesday. Ta da, less than an hour later, I had the top picks on my list for under $100 (tax included). The procedure for hooking everything up sounded easy enough too, reading it online. Hmmm....well, it's a lesson worth learning all over again. NEVER trust any directions about how to do something you read on the internet! NEVER! Soooo, I get my wireless components home Wednesday night and set things up in less than an hour. WRONGO! When I tried to go online last night, I had no internet connection! LOL! After trying various remedies and the SBC diagnostic tool (which told me I had no internet connection, duh), in desperation I re-connected the network cable that I had removed the night before from the back of the router to the computer ethernet port and voila! The internet connection was restored. However, that cable isn't supposed to be there! Obviously I'd done something wrong, but I was too tired to putz with it. The USB wireless adaptor wasn't able to connect to the router, either. Oh crap! I checked and double-checked the settings and the instructions on the DVD that came along with the little thingy (it looks like a zip drive) and thought I'd done everything a-okay, but obviously - NOT! So, today is one of my last day offs before the official end of summer (September 21) and I tackled the re-install of the router and adaptor before 9 this morning. What a comedy of errors! Trying to be "smart" (I should know better by now, wouldn't you think?) I thought "I must delete the prior installation information and start from scratch." So, I pull up my programs, and I can't find the router stuff anywhere. I did delete something - it turned out to be my ethernet drivers - but I didn't discover that until later on. Much later on... Two tries later I'm practically in tears (why is it that women start to cry when we get frustrated? Well, at least this woman does). I know I must do the dreaded call to "tech support" and speak to someone with an accent so heavy I won't be able to understand what he is saying. I pick up the telephone and dial. A mere 30 minutes later I have successfully manuevered myself past never-ending menus and mechanical voices and reach "Danny" who was either from India, Bangladesh or Pakistan judging by the accent; it wasn't as heavy as some tech support helpers I've talked to in the past, I could understand him and only had to ask him to repeat himself about half a dozen times during our 30 minutes on the telephone. Success! Danny got my ethernet drivers restored (all it finally took was a reboot of the machine, geez!) so I could get back on the internet and figure out how to "restore default settings" to my router. Arrrgggghhhh. After several attempts I was able to finally restore the default settings to my router and after that, I got it installed! (I hoped it was successfully installed, but I wouldn't know until I reinstalled the USB wireless adaptor if it really worked). Then I tackled the USB wireless adaptor. Oh my. I put in the DVD and follow the directions, but then in the middle of everything up pops this screen that says I have to download this other Linksys program - and although I tried and tried I couldn't get out of the screen; when I exited out of the DVD and tried re-running it, the same thing happened again at the same point in the installation. So, 45 minutes later, after this program had finished installing itself, I was able to complete the installation of the adaptor. Only - it didn't work! After several fruitless tries, it was sheer luck that led me to use the same password for the adaptor that I had selected as my "security key" for the router and it worked! Instantly there was the connection - all the little green lights on the modem and router were glowing! To make sure I had it right (finally), I cut the front lawn in a soft rain, took a long nap, and then I disconnected the network cable and powered everything up again. It all worked!
The Chinese are at it again. It wasn't bad enough that they killed thousands of Americans' beloved pets with pet food poisoned with melamine. Nope - now they're poisoning their own children with baby formula adulterated with melamine. The Chinese officials are "investigating." So they'll chop off the heads of a few peasant farmers and confiscate their land, and that will be the end of that. Geez.
Mother Nature flexes her muscles. New Orleans emptied out (good thing, actually), in the face of Hurricane Gustav; now Galveston is in the sights of Hurricane Ike. I LIKE the fact that these two devastating storms are named after guys. Ha ha. But I sure don't like the devastation that this storm is sure to bring, not to mention a big jump in gasoline prices. That affects me even though I don't own a car. It seems, unfortunately, that about 90,000 people were stupid and stayed behind on Galveston Island. Geez!
A tart that is sweet - yet savory. Hmmm....
Fascinating - the White Priestess of Yoruban Black Magic.
The appearance of The Goddess (in the form of the Virgin Mary) at Lourdes celebrates its 150th anniversary. Is the Pope still holding secret revelations that Bernadette gave him prior to her death???

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indians Training Hard for 2008 Chess Olympiad

From The Indians training hard for Olympiad Arvind Aaron September 12, 2008 CHENNAI: The Indian team’s training camp for the Chess Olympiad is on in full swing in Chennai and New Delhi. For the first time, both the men’s and women’s teams will field Grandmasters on all boards. Senior Grandmaster Lev Psakhis of Israel is training the men’s squad here and Elizbar Ubilava, who was with the men’s team at Calvia 2004 and Turin 2006, has been assigned the task of handling the women’s side. The camp, which began on September 9, will run till 23. “Such camps are required as the team members should know each other better. I have some material and want to analyse that with the five boys,” said Psakhis. The men’s team comprises Krishnan Sasikiran (TN, captain), P. Harikrishna (AP), Surya Sekhar Ganguly, Sandipan Chanda (both Bengal) and G.N. Gopal (Ker). The women’s side has Dronavalli Harika (AP), Tania Sachdev (Del), Nisha Mohota, Mary Ann Gomes (both Ben) and Swati Ghate (Mah). The players have been training for seven hours a day and the focus has been on endings so far, according to Harikrishna. “A role of a coach is to make the player think and play better. Success rests with the concerned player,” said Psakhis, the key man behind India’s gold medal winning performance at the 2006 Doha Asiad. Psakhis expects India, minus Viswanathan Anand, to match a team like Israel. About the placing one can expect, he said it would depend on how well the boys play. “India is already a top nation and in four years it will equal Russia in terms of quality of play at the top,” said Psakhis about India’s growing presence in the game. Predictions can go awry in a Chess Olympiad. A strong Russian team with Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Morozevich and other strong players could finish only sixth. “I am giving the boys a lot of work and I am trying to make them think. Computers are not there at the camp since we are not analysing the openings and what we learn today can become out of fashion when the games begin on November 12,” said Psakhis. New rules The Chess Olympiad to be held at Dresden (Germany) will see many changes. By increasing the players from four to five and boards from three to four, women’s chess stands to benefit. On the contrary, the numbers came down from six to five in the men’s event with the same four playing members. One important rule is that the players have to be at their table five minutes before the start of play. Also, a player cannot leave the table without the permission of the match arbiter when it is his turn to move.
Did GM Koneru Humpy decline the invitation to a board on the Indian Men's Olympiad Team because she thought she'd still be playing in Nalchik while the "mandatory" Olympiad training camps were being held?
The Indian Women's Team is a powerful one: Dronavalli Harika, Tania Sachdev, Nisha Mohota, Mary Ann Gomes and Swati Ghati. I would not be surprised if the Indian women place higher in the final standings than the Indian men.

Gruesome Evidence of Human Sacrifice

Peru archaeologists find pre-Inca sacrificial tomb By ANDREW WHALEN – 1 day ago LIMA, Peru (AP) — Archaeologists in Peru say they have discovered the jawbone of a fetus among the remains of a sacrificed woman in a pre-Inca tomb, suggesting the Lambayeque culture practiced the atypical sacrifice of pregnant women and their children. The remains of the woman and unborn child were found in a tomb with three other sacrificed women and several sacrificial llamas, lead archaeologist Carlos Wester La Torre told The Associated Press. In all, Wester La Torre's team reported finding the remains of seven women in two tombs at the Chotuna Chornancap archaeological site, each showing signs of having been cut at the throat. The sacrifice of a pregnant woman "is very unusual" in the pre-Inca world, said respected Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva, who was not involved in the discovery. [Maybe they should re-examine prior finds and recalibrate earlier assumptions about what the pre-Inca did and did not do!] "The concept of fertility was well respected, so this could represent a sacrifice for a very important religious event," he said Wednesday. Chotuna Chornancap is a sacred site of the Lambayeque culture, which flourished in northern Peru between 800 and 1350 A.D. Wester La Torre said he believes the sacrifices were made to honor the reconstruction of the temple at Chotuna Chornancap or an important member of the Lambayeque culture possibly buried nearby. The archaeologist said his team plans to continue excavating the site and hopes to find a possible central tomb. Also Wednesday, archaeologist Luis Guevara said that eight tombs containing the remains of 21 bodies were discovered in a separate dig, in a temple in the Sacsayhuaman fortress in the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco. Guevara said the largest of the tombs contained 10 bodies, probably servants to Inca royalty buried in the temple. Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

New Treasures Uncovered at Grecian Burial Site

Greece unearths treasures at Alexander's birthplace Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:15pm EDT ATHENS (Reuters) - Archaeologists have unearthed gold jewellery, weapons and pottery at an ancient burial site near Pella in northern Greece, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, the culture ministry said on Thursday. The excavations at the vast cemetery uncovered 43 graves dating from 650-279 BC which shed light on the early development of the Macedonian kingdom, which had an empire that stretched as far as India under Alexander's conquests. Among the most interesting discoveries were the graves of 20 warriors dating to the late Archaic period, between 580 and 460 BC, the ministry said in a statement. Some were buried in bronze helmets alongside iron swords and knives. Their eyes, mouths and chests were covered in gold foil richly decorated with drawings of lions and other animals symbolizing royal power. "The discovery is rich in historical importance, shedding light on Macedonian culture during the Archaic period," Pavlos Chrysostomou, who headed the eight-year project that investigated a total of 900 graves, told Reuters. Pavlas said the graves confirmed evidence of an ancient Macedonian society organized along militaristic lines and with overseas trade as early as the second half of the seventh century BC. Among the excavated graves, the team also found 11 women from the Archaic period, with gold and bronze necklaces, earrings and broaches. Nine of the graves dated to the late classical or early Hellenistic period, around the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. [This is a bit confusing; the photo above seems to describe this archaic period jewelry. Did 11 graves date to the archaic period? Or were there a total of 11 graves, 9 of which date to the late classical or early Hellenistic period? There's about 500 years difference!] Alexander, whose father Philip II unified the city states of mainland Greece, conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks before dying at the age of 32 in Babylon. Educated by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, Alexander was never defeated in battle. Reporting by Daniel Flynn and Renee Maltezou; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

2008 Women's World Chess Championship

Humpy Koneru won with white today against Hou, forcing a play-off tomorrow. Pia Cramling wasn't as fortunate, only managing a draw against Kosteniuk, who now advances to the final. So, who's it going to be tomorrow - Humpy or Hou? I've got off tomorrow, so I'll be able to watch the games live! Yippee!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Temple of Athena Found in Turkey

From Ruins Of Temple Of Athena Found In Bodrum September 10, 2008 BODRUM - Ruins of the Temple of Athena have been found in the popular resort town of Bodrum in western Turkey. In an interview with the A.A, Profesor Adnan Diler, who leads the archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Pedasa, said, "we found the Temple of Athena, one of the most important works of arts in Anatolia, in Konacik hamlet in Bodrum. The findings we have unearthed so far showed that we finally found ruins of the temple belonged to the civilization of the Leleges around the 6th century B.C." "We found walls of the temple and an inscription. Our excavations will continue to bring the temple into daylight," Diler added. Athena, was the shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavour in Greek mythology. (UK) (CUL)

Russia's Actions Have Consequences

Well, Miniputin, don't say I didn't warn you, darling! The Russian stock market has been on a crash course since the ill-advised invasion of Georgia, and no end in sight now that commodities prices are beginning to moderate. The New York Times reported on 9/5/08 about it - the "summer sell-off" they called it. Some people may blow off a report in The New York Times because it's that "liberal" newspaper. But today none other than The Wall Street Journal reported on the Russian market crash - the CONTINUING Russian market crash, tee hee hee. I don't have a subscription to the online Wall Street Journal - I read it in the print edition at the office this morning. But Pravada speaks in the words of the Russians and THEY said it too! Decreasing oil prices destroy Russian stock market 10.09.2008 Source: Pravda.Ru The Russian stock market went lower than 1,400 points due to the reduction of the oil prices and the ongoing of outflow of capital, which investors currently conduct. Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin added more fuel to the fire when he said that Russia’s oil companies would not be provided with an additional reduction of tax burden. The RTS index dropped by 7.51 percent to 1,395.11 points. This level was previously reported in June 2006. MICEX index dropped by 9.08 percent to 1,158.07. The price of a barrel of oil reduced to $104.23, having lost $1.25 in comparison with Monday. Rosneft’s shares slipped by 9.54 percent, Gazprom – by 8.47, Lukoil – by 9.29 and Surgutneftegaz – by 6.16 percent. Ore-mining companies followed the oil sector. The shares of Norilsk Nickel reduced by 12,76 percent. Russia’s Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin said in Moscow during the annual Reuters Investment Summit that there would be no additional tax concessions made for oil companies in the nearest future because the concessions from 2009 would be enough. “As an economist, I can say that Russia has reached the line when we can not reduce taxes anymore. I hope the president will put an end to the tax debate in September,” Kudrin said. The opening of US stock exchanges exacerbated the situation on the Russian market even further. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 0.23 percent to 11483,95. Standard & Poor's 500 lost 0.55 percent and made up 1260,78 points. The positive effect from the news about the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lasted for only one day. It became clear to everyone that it was short-term news that would only give the market a short break. Market members paid attention to the general situation on the market, which remains negative.
Tee hee hee. Just how many billions of foreign capital have fled the Russian markets, heh???
And darling Miniputin, don't say I didn't warn you when I did - quite clearly - about the folly of your actions. What was this I saw today at The New York Times? Oh my goddess - it's an article about how the Russian government's RECOGNITION of two break-away areas in Georgia, a sovereign state, have now given Russia's own break-away areas NEW HOPE. Gee whiz, who could have ever predicted that, heh?
“In the long term, they could have signed their own death warrant,” said Lawrence Scott Sheets, the Caucasus program director for the International Crisis Group, an independent organization that tries to prevent and resolve global conflicts. “It’s an abstraction now, but 20 years down the road, it won’t be such an abstraction.”
Moscow’s position is that South Ossetia and Abkhazia were extreme situations, in which decisions were driven by the threat to the lives of its citizens. Russian troops poured across the border early in August, after Georgian forces attacked civilian areas in the city of Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, with rocket and artillery fire. [NOT TRUE - 43 people were killed in South Ossetian action BEFORE Russians rolled in and started targeting civilian populations OUTSIDE OF SOUTH OSSETIA.] Anyone who reads a newspaper or a non-biased source online knows for a fact that the Russians lied about the number of casualties used as an excuse for this invasion. And the separatists in the areas just itching to break away from Russia realize it too. Duh!
To add yet more pain to the international humiliation being heaped upon Russian where it hurts much (their foreign reserves), the US Dollar is strengthening against both the Euro (chicken-sh*ts who could have but refused to give Russian a well-deserved spanking) and even more against the Ruble. Bwwwwwwaaaaaahhhhhhh!

2008 Women's World Chess Championship

Dylan McClain reported on the final four of the WWCC. Today was the first game of the semi-final. Both Koneru and Cramling lost with the black pieces, so tomorrow they MUST win with the white pieces in order to force play-off games against, respectively, Hou and Kosteniuk. Unfortunately, stopped doing blog-by-blog reporting, which I thought was very exciting. Susan Polgar has picked up the resulting slack and today did a periodically updated analysis blow-by-blow of the Hou-Koneru game. My personal thoughts - not necessarily reflective of any kind of logic!!!!
  • I think Hou is far too young to win this title, I don't care how "good at chess" she is; she's not ready to handle it.
  • I don't think that Kosteniuk deserves to win this year, having sat out too many events and not performing all that well in the ones she played in! It seems she did some kind of MONDO prep and training for this event, which is all fine and good. But does being the champion only mean that you train like hell for six weeks before the event and sluff off before and after? I think being a champion requires more commitment than Kosteniuk is willing to give.
  • I have followed Koneru's career since 1999, nearly 10 years! For the first several years of my advent onto the internet and into chess and the women who play the game at this level, Pia Cramling was absent. I did not see her name start to crop up in chess tournaments again until 2004 and then, it was very sporadic. It's only since 2006 that she's really started playing again (more events each year), the way she used to do in the "old days" - before marriage and children. I'm really torn as to whom I'm rooting for at this point (since my American players have been eliminated). On the one hand, I really want Koneru to win; on the other hand, I think it would be absolutely fabulous for Cramling to win the title so many years after earning her GM title and showing that yes, a 45 year old mom CAN do this.
  • By expressing these thoughts I don't mean to take anything away from Hou and Kosteniuk as chessplayers; I'm trying to balance competing emotions and preferences honed over the course of many more years than any of the final four can boast, so I'm leaning toward the player who have shown the most commitment to the process (Koneru) and the player who has the most overall experience (Cramling).

What will happen tomorrow? I've no idea, darlings! Stay tuned!

Monday, September 8, 2008

2008 Hales Corners Challenge

Yaaahhhhhh! My adopted local chess club is hosting a USCF Grand Prix event: Our popular Hales Corners Challenge (held each year in April and October) is coming soon. Mark your calendar now! Tournament information is below, and a flyer is attached to this email (or go to ) NOTE !! NEW LOCATION THIS TIME ! Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee (Phone—414-481 October 4, 2008 Hales Corners Challenge VIII GPP: 10 Wisconsin 4SS, G/60. Two Sections: Open & Reserve (under 1600). Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee (Phone—414-481-8000; formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport). EF: $35-Open, $25-Reserve, both $5 more after 10/1. Comp EF for USCF 2200+, contact TD for details. $$ Open (b/25)=1st-$325 (guaranteed), 2nd-$175 (guaranteed), A-$100, B & Below-$75; $$ Reserve (b/25)=1st-$100, 2nd-$75, D-$50, E & Below-$40. Reg.: 8:30-9:30, Rds.: 10-1-3:30-6. Ent: Payable to Southwest Chess Club, c/o Allen Becker, 6105 Thorncrest Drive, Greendale, WI 53129 ( Questions to TD Gary Wright 414-226-5753. Hales Corners Challenge VIII Sponsored by The Southwest Chess Club Saturday, October 4, 2008 Two Sections – Open & Reserve (Under 1600) FORMAT: Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day USCF Rated TIME LIMIT: Game in One Hour (60 minutes per player) ENTRY FEE: $35 – Open; $25 – Reserve Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+ (call TD for details) (both sections $5 more after October 1, 2008) SITE REGISTRATION: 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ROUNDS: 10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm Pairings by WinTD---No Computer Entries---No Smoking PRIZES OPEN RESERVE 1st—$325* 1st—$100 2nd—$175* 2nd—$75 A—$100 D—$50 B & Below—$75 E & Below—$40 * Prize fund in each section is based on minimum of 25 players in that section; however 1st and 2nd prizes in Open Section are guaranteed ***Special Additional Prizes provided by*** Top Finishing Female Player--$50/Best Game by Female Player--$25/Best Game by Male Player--$25 Tournament Director: Gary Wright Assistant Tournament Directors: Tom Fogec/ Allen Becker /Robin Grochowski SITE: Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee—414-481-8000 (formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport) ENTRIES TO: Allen Becker —6105 Thorncrest Drive— Greendale , WI 53129 QUESTIONS TO: Gary Wright—414-226-5753 USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided Irrevocable half point bye available in any round, except round 4, if requested prior to first round _____________________________________________________________________________ Checks payable to Southwest Chess Club (Please indicate section desired) __Open Section __Reserve Section Name: __________________________________________________ USCF ID#: ________________ Rating: _________ Expire Date: ___________ Address: ______________________________________ City: _____________________ State : _______ Zip: _________ Phone: __________________ e-mail Address: _______________________
P.S. Also a $25 prize from Goddesschess to the best female finisher in the U1600 Section.
In July, 2008 Goddesschess sponsored a $100 prize to the "most improved" player at the 2008 Canadian Open Chess Championships held in delion's home city of Montreal, Quebec. The winner was Kelly Wang. See details at Goddesschess' Random Round-up Coverage of August 3, 2008 (scroll to date). We're still looking for a local chess event in or around Las Vegas, Nevada that would like $100 for prizes from Goddesschess. Goddesschess will be sponsoring more prizes for local events in 2009, in addition to its third special prize for the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship to be held in St. Louis, Missouri in May, 2009!

EU Individual Open Chess Championships 2008

Billed as the "strongest-ever chess tournament held in Britain" (I find this rather amazing, actually), 138 players will test their skills and wits for prizes totalling 30,000 BPS in the 2008 EU Individual Open Chess Championships September 9 - 18, 2008. Here are the chess femmes playing: 43 13600168 Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan m wg 2452 47 723916 Dembo, Yelena m wg 2431 52 405094 Houska, Jovanka m wg 2405 (British Women's Champion) 56 1607456 Moser, Eva m wg 2383 70 1210246 Motoc, Alina wg wg 2303 87 12802506 Limontaite, Simona wf wf 2200 102 4628730 Von Herman, Brigitte wf wf 2085 114 411000 Wilson, Alexandra wf wf 2059 134 406830 Bentley, Emma (Emma is 10 years old and the youngest player in the event) 1740*

Marostica: Living Chess Game

I wrote about this waaayyyy back in 1999 when Goddesschess was new-born! Check it out. Boardgame Travel: Pawns, Kings and Queens Gather in Italy Where: Marostica, Italy 9/08/2008 at 9:30 AM This week in the town of Marostica in Italy, a chess game will take place that is so much more civilized than the sport of chess boxing that we recently discovered. Marostica, northwest of Venice, is home to the biannual Living Chess Game, when live people and animals adorned in medieval costumes play a game of chess on a giant board in front of the local castle. It's based on a tale of a love triangle from the 1400s when two men had to play chess to decide who would win the fair damsel. These days there are no women at stake and it's more a matter of pure entertainment for the four thousand-plus spectators who crowd around the board. If you've seen it before, that doesn't matter--the script (and game play) changes every year. First pawn moves on September 12 with replays on September 13 and 14. If they don't get to checkmate too fast then it's bound to be a good night's entertainment. Related Stories:· Marostica Living Chess Game [WEG]

2008 Women's World Chess Championship

And then there were four... Kosteniuk defeats Ushenina and Cramling draws with Stefanova. Both Ushenina and Stefanova have been playing excellent chess all year (I have to say, though, so has Cramling). Kosteniuk and Cramling in the final four, this has shaped up to be one excellent world championship, despite the absence of 20% of the invited players. That is a dirty rotten shame - a shame on FIDE, and I will continue to remark upon it as long as I write about women's chess. Here are the final four and their match-ups tomorrow: GM P. Cramling (2544) - GM A. Kosteniuk (2510) GM H. Koneru (2622) - GM-elect Y. Hou (2557) I have no idea what will happen when these players face-off tomorrow. Could Susan Polgar be right, thinking that perhaps this is finally the veteran Cramling's year to win it all? At 45, she is (and was) the oldest player in the entire field - she's been a GM since 1992 and, like Koneru and now, Hou, she earned her GM the hard way - playing against men. Here are the results from the second game of Round 4: GM Cramling (2544) 1/2 - GM Stefanova (2550) 1/2 GM-elect Hou (2557) 1 - IM_Mkrtchian (2436) 0 WGM Shen (2445) 0 - GM Koneru (2622) 1 WGM Ushenina (2476) 0 - GM Kosteniuk (2510) 1

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Humpy crushes Shen Yang; semis beckon

Another enthusiastic article title from the Indian press which, according to reports at the official website of the WWCC, turned out in force at Nalchik to report on the Indian chess femmes who went to the WWCC. Only Humpy is left, and she carries the hopes and aspirations of more than a billion people on her shoulders in this Championship, being the only Indian player to have survived the previous rounds. It actually contains a report on all of the others games from Round 4 Game 1, too. From Press Trust of India Sunday, September 7, 2008 (Nalchik (Russia)) Grandmaster Koneru Humpy on Sunday outclassed Shen Yang of China with some brilliant manoeuvres in the first game of the quarterfinals and now needs just a draw in the second game to advance to the semifinals of the world women's chess championship, underway here. The highest rated player of the event, Humpy displayed some excellent attacking chess well compiled with fine positional ideas and Yang was outdone in all departments of the game. The victory gave Humpy a crucial 1-0 lead in the two games mini-match of this knockout championship. It was a Slav defense by Yang that spelt doom for her. Going for a not-so-popular variation the Chinese was in troubles right in to the early middle game when Humpy unleashed a king side attack.Yang is considered to be a fine talent from the Chinese factory but Sunday turned out to be a bad day in office as she just could not produce any counter play with black pieces. Humpy to her credit, played some positional moves before uncorking a piece sacrifice on the 21st and black's position collapsed in quick time thereafter. Yang lost her extra material a few moves later but her king's position had become vulnerable. On the 27th move, Humpy came up with another knight sacrifice and it was curtains for the Chinese four moves later. In the other games of the quarterfinals former world champion Antoaneta Stefanova suffered a major setback when she was beaten by Pia Cramling of Sweden. Stefanova also faced a Slav defense but failed to produce the magic of Humpy with white pieces. Cramling gained ground in the middle game and knocked down a pawn, won an exchange in late stages of the middle game and thereafter salvaged a desperate onslaught by Stefanova to emerge a winner after 54 moves. Cramling now needs a draw with white pieces in the return game. Lilit Mkrtchian of Armenia was quite content taking a draw against Yifan Hao of China who played black. The Nimzo Indian by Yifan led to a balanced queen-less middle game wherein Yifan went for some regulation exchanges to spilt the point. The other game of the quarterfinals between Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia and Anna Ushenina of Ukraine was apparently heading for a draw at the time of going to press. Results quarterfinal game 1: Koneru Humpy (Ind) beat Shen Yang (Chn); Antoaneta Stefanova (Bul) lost to Pia Cramling (Swe); Lilit Mkrtchian (Arm) drew with Yifan Hao (Chn); Alexandra Kosteniuk (Rus) playing Anna Ushenina (Ukr).

7,000 Year Old Female Icon Discovered

Archaeologists find unique 7000-year-old statue By ČTK / Published 5 September 2008 Masovice, South Moravia, Sept 4 (CTK) - Czech archaeologists have uncovered a torso of a unique female statue created about 7000 years ago near Masovice, which is the second similar find in this locality, Zdenek Cizmar, head of the archaeological research, told CTK Thursday. The woman's statue found in the area last summer was given the name "Hedvika of Masovice," while "her sister" is called "Johanka," according to the female names in the calendar on the days when the artifacts were found, Cizmar added. "Though the statues come from the same period, each of them is different and exceptional," Cizmar said. Both sculptures, created by people of the Moravian Painted Ceramic culture, probably served as idols, symbolising life and fertility. The lower part of the half-a-metre tall "Hedvika" statue is the oldest sculpture of such a large size found in central Europe. The torso of "Johanka," measuring "mere" 35 centimetres, consists of four fragments of the body that were put together. The legs are missing. "It has a realistically shaped face. Distinctive ears with holes are also interesting features. Hands, chest and lap are very well apparent. Moreover, Johanka was completely white," said Cizmar. He added that the statue was polished with a resin base covered with a white colour finish. Masovice is a significant archaeological site where remains of prehistorical settlements as well as a high number of artifacts have been found. Among other rarities from the locality is the "Masovice rondel," of which a double circular ditch with a 110 metres in diameter has been preserved. It served as a ritual place and possibly as a calendar. Czech archaeologists, slightly exaggerating, call it a Moravian predecessor of the famous Stonehange in Britain. ***************************** This is what I found on "Hedvika:" From Radio Praha Archaeologists in Moravia discover 7000 year-old sculpture [19-10-2007 13:40 UTC] By Jan Richter
The find of the century is what Czech archaeologists are calling the discovery of a 7000 year-old statue in Masovice, a village just west of Znojmo, South Moravia. Although only the lower parts of the sculpture have been found, experts say that Hedvika, as the statue has been named by those who discovered it, is a unique find in a European context. On Wednesday, experts from the Brno Archaeological Institute marked a discovery that could change the way historians look at the era of 7 000 years ago, known as the Neolithic Age. During an emergency survey on a building site in the community of Masovice, some 8 km north of Znojmo in South Moravia, they discovered fragments of a ceramic female sculpture. Archaeologist Zdenek Cizmar, who was the first to lay his hands on this unusual find, explains the significance of the discovery. "The sculpture is unique for two reasons; one of them is its size. The fragment we have found is 30 centimetres tall, from its feet to the waistline. We therefore estimate its overall original height to be 55 to 60 centimetres; this means that it is the largest statue of the Moravian Painted Ware culture ever found in the whole Middle Danube Basin". The people of the Moravian Painted Ware culture formed a part of the Neolithic civilization of central Europe in the period between 5000 and 4000 BC and they were particularly distinguished for their pottery skills. Many other figurines have been found in sites across Moravia, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria, but the recently discovered statue is different in yet another way - it is hollow. As Zdenek Cizmar says, archaeologists are still not quite sure why. "We have two possible explanations. It could either be some sort of a technological issue to make sure the statue was easier to dry and burn. It is also possible that the sculpture, which surely served some ritual purposes, could also be used as a vessel to pour liquid from during ritual ceremonies." Following an unwritten rule of their profession, archaeologists from the Brno institute gave the statue the name of Hedvika, as Wednesday was Hedvika's holiday in the Czech Republic. Now the experts are hoping to find the rest of the figurine in remaining parts of the survey zone that are yet waiting to be uncovered and explored. The fragments of Hedvika are currently being studied by scholars from the Brno Archaeological Institute but they promise that next year, it will be displayed at the South Moravian Museum in Znojmo.

2008 Women's World Chess Championship

Humpy Koneru is cruising along, as is Pia Cramling. Who will win the championship title this year? I don't have a clue! Here is Round 4 Game 1 action from official website: Two wins, two drawsSeptember 7, 2008 In the first day, quarter final matches brought long battles as predicted here and only two ended with victories. Koneru (India) played her quiet, positional style and gradually has overcome her opponent. Once again, the opponent was deprived of the counter play opportunities and had to resign. Cramling (Sweden) played with Black against former World Champion Stefanova (Bulgaria) and achieved a good position at the end of the opening. But thereafter as she told us in the press conference, somehow she let the opponent to regain territory and nearly to equalize the game. Then again, she could strengthen her game and went with a substantial advantage into the Queen/Rook against Queen/Bishop endgame with even a pawn plus. Move by move, she increased the pressure on the White, gained more advantage and won the game at move 54th. Anna Ushenina (Ukraine) started the game very well, had a slight advantage after the opening but gradually she lost it and had to cope with a little bit worse position in the endgame. The agreement of the players on the draw came at move 57th. Hou Yifan (China) reached a draw quite early (29th move) against Mrktchian (Armenia) in a Queen Indian with Black. RUS Kosteniuk, Aleksandra 2510 ½/ UKR Ushenina, Anna 2476 ½ IND Koneru, Humpy 2622 1/ CHN Shen, Yang 2445 0 ARM Mkrtchian, Lilit 2436 ½/ CHN Hou, Yifan 2557 ½ BUL Stefanova, Antoaneta 2550 0/ SWE Cramling, Pia 2544 1
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