Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shira Chess Challenge: Shira in Portugal

Shira has posted a brief video at You Tube showing some of the kids at the orphanage playing with their new computer thingies. I think they are called "Leapsters." Class on how to use these thingies starts on Monday. I hope the You Tube link works! Training Update: Mine is going crappy! I should have spent today studying the data bases Chessdaddy wants me to study. Oh well. I walked to the supermarket first, then after I relaxed from that trek (with several glasses of wine) I fired up the lawnmower and cut the front lawn. Then I relaxed again for several hours and had some more wine. Then I trimmed the front lawn all around the edges. Then I had some more wine. Then I watched some of my favorite decorating shows on television. Then I pulled the laptop outside and hoped it would rain (it hasn't). A few days ago I invited a new stranger at to a game of chess but he or she decided not to accept, evidently, cuz I haven't received an answer back by way of a move. Oh well. My other two games there are, hmmmm, let's just say that I have no idea how to conduct an end game and I believe I have managed to eventually lose that particular game, I just haven't given up on it yet; my other game with Frog Breath (what an awful name!) is in early stages and I just gave up my queen in order to save a rook and two bishops. Guess you can tell which way that game is going, heh? LOL! Oh what the hell, it's for Shira's kids :)

New Queen's Exhibit at Buckingham Palace

A new exhibition of some of the splendid items in the Royal Collection starts Monday, July 27, 2009, at Buckingham Palace, London. Several of the items are gifts presented to the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, from nations belonging to the British Commonwealth, and then there are spectacular gowns and, of course, jewels to go with. It's a knock-your-socks off exhibition - at least, to me. I love looking at beautiful gowns and jewels and the whole mystique about and the history behind being the Queen of the British Commonwealth. Here is an article (with video) about the exhibition from The Times Online. Here is a link to the official website about The Royal Collection, and a link to the official website about other collections. The Closet Grandmaster posted about a very special chess set that Nelson Mandela presented to Queen Elizabeth II and has a photo of some of the pieces. Check it out - it's absolutely one of a kind.

Jamaican National Women's Chess Championship

From the Jamaica Observer Richards prevails in women's chess champs Saturday, July 25, 2009 (Photo: Richards, right and Smith, left) Woman FIDE Master (WFM) Deborah Richards (JAM 1983) secured her eighth consecutive hold on the National Women's Chess Championship title on Sunday after securing a final round win against main rival Melisha Smith at the Norman Manley Law School. Richards ended the championship unbeaten on eight-and-a-half points, two full points ahead of her nearest rival. The final top-of-the-table clash between Richards and Smith was more of the same, as Richards emphasised her dominance over women's chess in Jamaica, when she uncorked one of the less used defences, the Benoni, to win the match. This was Richards' second straight tournament win this year, after returning to chess full-time from her studies at the University of the West Indies. She also won the main event of the Robert Wheeler Open in May, which saw some of Jamaica's top male players participating. Smith ended the Championship on 6.5 points, tied in second place with her sister Annesha, who got past Campion College's Ashley Ferguson to secure a share of the second prize.

Politiken Cup

One more round to go. Here are the standings after Round 9 (from the top 100 out of 307 players): 1 Vladimir Malakhov 2707 8.0 16 Viktorija Cmilyte 2470 6.5 59 Marie Sebag 2531 5.5 90 Eva Jiretorn 2150 5.0 Full standings.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Night Miscellany

I'm tired - this will be short. St. John's Catholic Church has it's festival going on this weekend and the screams of people on the rides and the noises of a really crappy band are blasting into my windows, even though I'm a good three blocks away from the action. Well, it's the same thing every year for the past 19 years except that, after numerous complaints, about 10 years ago the Church opened up its large soccer fields to parking so drunk people no longer park on the subdivision streets where I live and we don't have to clean up plastic beer cups and see staggering dudes urinate on our trees. On Sunday I'll have a front row seat on my deck to the spectacular Bartolotta Brothers fireworks display the festival puts on every year! All the neighbors have parties and invite people to watch the big show from their backyards. Two things on the agenda this evening, both of which have to do with the fact that we're DOOMED, DOOMED I say! Oh no! Oh yes! Was the latest Jupiter collision with - something really fricking BIG - a wake-up call to Earth? Hello, Earth? Geez, NBC just spent the last two Sundays broadcasting METEOR, with a really hot chick in a really bad script. Hmmmm, I sense a conspiracy did NBC know that something really really big was going to hit Jupiter right around this time? Okay, back to reality - really, do we have ANY kind of plan in place for deflecting something the size of whatever it was that hit Jupiter (which is causing the "wound" to grow ever larger and larger...) If not, we're in big trouble, and I'm talking mass extinction event like, wiping out all human life. Oy! This is even better than the SWINE FLU CONSPIRACY I vaguely recall posting about last week... (Photo:from the Times on Line, July 21, 2009 - not exactly reassuring, is it.) Speaking of which, I've read a couple of articles in my local Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel over the past week regarding said SWINE FLU that made the hair on my arms rise up like the Demon Army in Mummy (the movie)! Unfortunately, the "search" feature at isn't working right tonight - at least, not on my computer, so you can just take my word for it that I'm 100% correct in my recollections (har!), or you can just admit right now that we've all taken one big giant step - ONE STEP BEYOND - and we are all now living in THE OUTER LIMITS (cue spooky music...) The first article I read was something about the new SWINE FLU VACCINE not being ready in time, and therefore the GOVERNMENT is soliciting volunteers to be guinea pigs for this unknown vaccine. I found that rather disturbing - not that the vaccine wouldn't be "ready on time" but that the government is soliciting volunteers to test out something that they have no idea what it will do. I mean, don't they usually test this stuff on animals first? What's going to happen to a lab rat that contracts SWINE FLU? Will it grow pig's ears and a corkscrew tail? The second article I read was something about problems with SWINE FLU VACCINE PRODUCTION and therefore at best, the USA will only have 160 million shots of vaccine available sometime in October. The alarm is already being sounded by the CENTER FOR DISEASE COTROL in Atlanta, Georgia USA that the SWINE FLU is expected to really spike once all the kids go back to school in September. Okay - let's do some simple deductive reasoning (or is that inductive reasoning? I never could keep the two straight.) Kids go back to school in September. VACCINE isn't available until October at the earliest. Plus, there are only 160 million doses of vaccine available. Kids go to school and infect each other at enormous rates, and take the shitty virus home with them too. And of course it's on every touchable surface on the Milwaukee County Transit System buses because kids never wash their hands and cannot keep their hands out of their noses, mouths and eyes - plus we still have the illegals coming in from Mexico, where all of this began in the first place. It doesn't take a genius to deduce (or is that induce?) what will happen once the average joes start dropping like flies. WILL WE HAVE RIOTING ON THE STREETS? WILL PEOPLE BE HIJACKING SHIPMENTS OF VACCINE AND SELLING IT ON THE BLACK MARKET? WILL THE NATIONAL GUARD BE CALLED OUT WITH ORDERS "SHOOT TO KILL" AMERICAN CITIZENS WHO ARE STORMING CLINICS AND HOSPITALS IN A DESPARATE SEARCH FOR VACCINE? Geez, haven't we all read this before in some cheap sci-fi novel or seen it in some cheezy made-for-tv movie? I'm sure if you do the proper searches you can find sufficient evidence for every single thing I've written above tonight, including the conspiracy how the SWINE FLU IS AN ENGINEERED VIRUS DESIGNED TO WIPE OUT MOST OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION SO THAT THE ILLUMATI OR WHOEVER IS BEHIND THE CONSPIRACY WILL ENSLAVE THOSE OF US WHO ARE LEFT. I'll be left because I never get vaccinated for flu, but they probably won't want me, I'm too old and I have a smart mouth. That means I'll be shot or have my head chopped off or something equally undesirable. Oh - one other thing - by making people scared that there is not going to be enough vaccine to go around to save all of us, the GOVERNMENT is actually setting us up for wanting something that will actually kill us quicker than the SWINE FLU! We will all line up like sheeple to get our vaccinations and drop dead within 15 minutes afterward, or something like that. Now I'm going to bed! 'night, darlings!

20,000 Year Old Hearth Discovered on Taiwan

From the Tapei Times: Archeologists find 20,000-year-old hearth in Taitung EARLIEST HUMAN RELIC: The stone hearth unearthed at the Baisandong Historical Site proves that humans have been living in Taiwan for more than 20,000 years STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA Saturday, Jul 25, 2009, Page 2 A team from Academia Sinica has recently discovered a neolithic stone hearth in a cave in Taitung County that has been confirmed as the earliest human relic to have been discovered in Taiwan, Taitung County Government said yesterday. After a year of investigation and research, the prehistoric archeology research team discovered the hearth at the Basiandong (Eight Deities) Historical Site (八仙洞遺址), which carbon-dating reveals to be 20,000 years old, an official with the county’s Cultural and Tourism Bureau said. “The sample proves that humans were living in Taiwan more than 20,000 years ago,” the official quoted Tsang Chen-hua (臧振華), deputy director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of History and Philology, who led the research team, as saying. In addition to the fire place, the research team also discovered seven new caves, bringing the number of caves discovered at the Basiandong Historical Site to 24, the Taitung official said.Taitung Cultural and Tourism Bureau said the Basiandong site attracted the attention of Japanese archeologists during the colonial period and they explored the main cave, located in a coastal cliff area in the county’s Changbin Township (長濱). Between 1968 and 1969, a National Taiwan University archeology team led by professor Sung Wen-hsun (宋文薰) worked on the Basiandong Historical Site again, discovering four samples that were later carbon dated as being between 5,000 and 15,000 years old.To verify the dates of the relics, the Council for Cultural Planning and Development asked Academia Sinica to conduct a new round of research. “The discoveries by Tsang and his team are tremendously important in terms of Taiwan’s neolithic archeological research,” the official said.
From Discovery News: Altar to Mysterious Deity Found at Roman Fort Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News July 24, 2009 -- A massive altar dedicated to an eastern cult deity has emerged during excavations of a Roman fort in northern England. Weighing 1.5 tons, the four-foot high ornately carved stone relic, was unearthed at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, which was built by order of the Emperor Hadrian between 122-30 A.D. The Romans built the defensive wall across the north of Britain from Carlisle to Newcastle-on-Tyne, to keep out invading armies from what is now Scotland. "What should have been part of the rampart mound near to the north gate of the fort has turned out to be an amazing religious shrine," said archaeologist Andrew Birley. A jar and a shallow dish is depicted on one side of the altar, while the other side shows a god-like figure standing on the back of a bull, with a thunderbolt in one hand and a battle axe in the other. Romans called this god Juppiter Dolichenus, but it was originally an ancient weather god, known to the Semitic peoples of the Middle East as Hadad and to the Hittites as Teshab. It was in its war-like representation that the Anatolian god Juppiter of Doliche became a favorite deity among Roman soldiers. Indeed, an inscription indicates that the altar was dedicated to the Dolichenus god by "Sulpicius Pudens, prefect of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls." According to Birley, Sulpicius Pudens was the commanding officer of the Roman regiment based at Vindolanda in the Third century and he may have dedicated the expensive stone to the god in thanks for fulfilling a vow. This was a normal practice, as partial inscriptions from badly damaged Dolichenus shrines, all found in England, testify. "The Vindolanda shrine is unique as it is situated within the walls of the fort, something which has yet to be encountered elsewhere. This casts new light on ritual spaces inside Roman forts," Birley told Discovery News. Originally worshiped as a weather god on a hilltop close to the small town of Doliche (what is now the modern city of Duluk in southern Turkey) Juppiter of Doliche began attracting Roman worshipers by the early second century AD. From then on, the cult of Dolichenus took off and spread all over the Roman empire. According to Anthony Birley, chairman of the Vindolanda Trust and the author of many books on ancient Roman history, the discovery is important because "there are absolutely no literary references to Dolichenus, so all that we know about the religion is based on some 300 surviving inscriptions and sculptures from different parts of the Roman Empire." The shrine at Vindolanda includes a small feasting room and reveals evidence of animal sacrifice. "Since the worship of Dolichenus is not exclusively military, it is quite possible that all members of the military community, including non-combatants, may have worshiped at the shrine/temple and enjoyed the feasts held there," the archaeologist said. As for the success of the walled fort -- it's uncertain how long it may have held off advancing enemies since conflicts in the rest of Europe eventually drew the Romans away from this northern-most reach of the Empire. The altar stone is one of thousands of artifacts found from excavations at the fort and a settlement at Vindolanda. Home to Romans from 85 A.D. until about 410 A.D., the fort has revealed the largest early archive of Latin documents (over 1,500 documents known as "Vindolanda tablets") related to military movements. Other finds include letters home by Roman soldiers, written in ink on wood, asking for warm clothing and socks. While the excavation continues until mid-September, the archaeologists estimate that it could take more than a decade of work before Vindolanda reveals all of its treasures.
This is a very ancient god. Here is some information on him from the online Encyclopedia Britannica: Teshub In the religions of Asian Minor, the Hurrian deity in the the Hurrian weather god, assimilated by the Hittites to their own weather god, Tarhun. Several myths about Teshub survive in Hittite versions. One, called the “Theogony,” relates that Teshub achieved supremacy in the pantheon after the gods Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi had successively been deposed and banished to the netherworld. Another myth, the “Song of Ullikummi,” describes the struggle between Teshub and a stone monster that grew out of the sea. Teshub’s consort was Hebat (Queen of Heaven), and they had a son, Sharruma. In art, unless identified by name or associated with Hebat, Teshub is often indistinguishable from the Hittite Tarhun. At the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya near the ancient Hittite capital, the leading god is named Teshub and is represented treading on the bowed necks of two mountain gods. In other representations he is shown as a standing figure carrying a lituus (a long crook) or driving a chariot drawn by bulls. He reappears in the Kingdom of Urartu as Tesheba, one of the chief gods, and in Urartian art he is depicted standing on a bull. From Wikipedia - which adds an interesting note about the possible antiquity of goddess Arinna: Teshub (also written Teshup) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. He was derived from the Hattian Taru. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun (with variant stem forms Tarhunt, Tarhuwant, Tarhunta). He is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs. In the Hurrian schema, he was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess of Arinna—a cultus of great antiquity which may ultimately derive from the bull god and mother goddess worshipped at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. Myths also exist of his conflict with the sea creature (possibly a snake or serpent) Hedammu (CTH 348). His son was Sarruma. According to Hittite myth, one of his greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. The Hurrian myth of Teshub's origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu's genitals—is a likely inspiration for the story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod's Theogony.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Article Perpetuates Myth About Women Chessplayers

I just came across this Chessbase article that perpetuates the myth that difference in relative skill levels in playing chess between females and males is due to females having smaller brains and also that their brains are differently-organized so that the "skills" needed to play chess are lacking. BALONEY! (That is a polite way of saying BULLSHIT!) The truth is this: women have been culturally brain-washed into thinking that they are inferior to males when it comes to playing chess. A controlled blind study using the internet and gender-neutral names for players has demonstrated that there is no difference in results of female and male players with similar ratings when playing against others - as long as the female players did not know the sex of their opponent. Check it out. Chess-playing ability has nothing to do with so-called "spatial ability" or relative brain size (females have smaller brains only because they are generally physically smaller than males, and relative brain size has nothing to do with intelligence or other cognitive abilities). Duh - this is exactly the same kind of argument that was used in the 19th century by white males to legitimize the enslavement of black Africans. That argument was bogus then and the argument about females being inferior chessplayers now is equally bogus, it's just a different form of enslavement. A study that would be mildly interesting in a purely academic sense is why male chessplayers are so anal when it comes to female chessplayers. But the younger generation of chess femmes who are working their way up the ELO ranks today would probably just laugh if approached about such a topic.

1st Artemis Cup

1st Leros Open - Artemis Cup 2009, held July 11 - 19, 2009, Leros, Greece Final standings (9 rounds, 72 players): 1. GM Evgenij Miroshnichenko (UKR 2696) 7.0 2. GM Mikheil Mchedlishvili (GEO 2592) 7.0 3. GM Tamaz Gelashvili (GEO 2605) 6.5 4. GM Aleksandr Shneider (UKR 2539) 6.5 5. GM Veljko (SRB 2487) 6.5 6. WGM Monica Calzetta Ruiz (ESP 2344) 6.5 (The Chief would be proud)(Photo: XXVI Open Internacional d'Andorra, July 21, 2008) 22. IM Liubov Kostiukova (UKR 2208) 5.5 23. WGM Bianca Muhren (NED 2312) 5.0 24. WIM Sheila Barth Shal (NOR 2217) 5.0 31. Maria Ikonomopoulou (GRE 2052) 5.0 35. WFM Marie Frank-Nielsen (DEN 2000) 4.5 37. Ellisiv Reppen (NOR 1905) 4.5 56. Antonia Anagnostopoulou (GRE 1005) 3.0 59. Maria Kourumpa (GRE 1000) 3.0 65. Dimitra Gountinta (GRE 1005) 2.5

Politiken Cup

Standings after Round 7 - a 3-way tie for first place, all places held by chess dudes - standings through Top 100 players (307 players) showing the chess femmes. There are three more rounds to go: 1 12. Parmerian Negi (Sf Katenberg) 2590 6½ 2 1. Vladimir Malakhov () 2707 6½ 3 10. Tiger Hillarp-Persson (Brønshøj) 2596 6½ 27 19. Viktorija Cmilyte (Helsinge) 2470 5 43 17. Marie Sebag () 2531 4½ 78 90. Eva Jiretorn (Bräkne-Hoby SK) 2150 4½ 98 54. Svetlana Agrest () 2260 4

Nymph Sanctuary Discovered in Bulgaria

Archaeologists Discover Nymph Sanctuary in Central Bulgaria 23 July 2009 A sanctuary where, during Antiquity, the nymph cult was celebrated was recently found by archaeologists in the vicinity of the Nicopolis ad Istrum ancient site, located near the town of Veliko Tarnovo in central Bulgaria. The experts discovered an alley, leading to a spring and covered with limestone tiles decorated in a stand-out relief. The find is a first of its kind in the region, Pavlina Vladkova, leader of the archaeological team, told national media. Until now, she said, the only testament of the nymph cult in Nicopolis ad Istrum used to be images on coins made in the second century under the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, as well as ancient inscriptions. Vladkova expects that her team will find the remains of a cult building where the nymph worshippers stayed. Nymph worshipping, according to the archaeologists, can be traced back to Ancient Greece, where the mythical female creatures were usually part of the retinue of a god, such as Zeus, Hera and Aphrodite. Although, planned archaeological excavations are currently taking place at the nearby Nicopolis ad Istrum ancient site, as recently reported, the sancuary was discovered by chance. According to the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, workers came upon the archaeological remains while installing a water pipe to the village of Resen, which called for the emergency excavations to begin.
I would guess that with the presence of the spring, this place was a sacred one much further back than the Greeks, and was probably a place of worship sacred to the Great Goddess. How fitting that it is a female archaeologist who will be leading the archaeological team.

Brooklyn Museum "Unwraps" Four Mummies

Unwrapping Brooklyn's Mummies July 23, 2009 There is an interview of Edward Bleiberg, curator of Egyptian, Classical, and Ancient Middle Eastern Art, and Lisa Burno, Head Objects Conservator, at the website for Archaeology Magazine, about the recent CT scans of four full mummies from the Museum's collection, the results of which yielded some surprises. dondelion and I spent a day at the Brooklyn Museum during our May visit to New York, after I managed to get past the turnstyle in the subway where we caught the number 2 train that eventually got us to our destination. It has a great collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts - I believe I read that it is the third largest collection in the United States. When we go back to New York again (which I'm sure we will), we'll spend more time there - now that I know the mystery of how to get past the subway turnstyle (hint: the Port Authority should prominently display signs advising left-handed people to swipe their fare card with the right hand!) (Photo: Taken May 17, 2009 by dondelion, a shot of the courtyard at the Brooklyn Museum. It is lined with replicas of classic columns and is used as a teaching tool for field trips of school children.)

Archaeological Site Destroyed in Iran: Update

From CAIS (Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies) LONDON, (CAIS) -- Following the recent destruction of part of an archaeological site in Khuzestan province by state controlled Iran’s National Oil Company’s subcontractors, an Iranian archaeologist claimed the site is the location of the lost Partho-Sasanian city of Azem. The ancient city of Azem was located 35 kilometres east of modern city of Ahvaz, the modern capital city of Khuzestan Province, beside the Gargar River, one of the branches of Karun River. The anciant city believed once had a large population prior to its destruction. Apparently a pre-Islamic inscription was unearthed during the bulldozing the site which points out to its ancient origin. The language of the inscription whether it was Parthian-Pahlavi or Sasanian-Pahlavi was not disclosed. According to archaeologist Hamid Reza Farrokh-Ahmadi, the city was mentioned in the ‘Figures of the Climates’ written over 1100 years ago by Iranian Geographer Estakhri. “Regrettably, ICHHTO does not care about the faith of the site, not understanding that these ancient sites are our national identity, and when they are ignored our identity is threatened”, said Farrokh-Ahmadi speaking to the Persian service of Mehr News agency. Although the existence of the city in the ancient times is not disputed, but it must have had a different name to what Estakhri stated as Azem; –such as the modern city of Ahvaz, which Estakhri recorded as Horm-Shir. Horm-Shir was a corrupted version of the Sasanian Hormuzd-Ardashir, and the modern name of Ahvaz / Ahwaz, is an anagram of the Old-Persian "Āvāz" and "Āvāja" which appears on Darius the Great' epigraph.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Get Hands-On Archaeological Experience

Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2009 (Serving Southwestern Illinois and the St. Louis Region) Archaeology buffs can get hands-on at the Mounds News-Democrat The fifth annual Archaeology Day will be held Aug. 1 at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic site in Collinsville. The event is free and open to the public and includes ancient craft demonstrations, excavation tours, demonstrations of archaeological techniques and artifact processing. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is sponsored by the Cahokia Archaeological Society. Artisans will demonstrate bow and arrow making, flintknapping and tool use, shell, bone and gourd carving, fingerweaving and fiber spinning. Visitors can tour the excavations and help sift soils from the digs and help wash artifacts found during the summer excavations, can try to play the chunkey game or throw spears with an atlatl spearthrower. A professional storyteller will present stories that will appeal to all age groups. For more information, call 346-5160 or visit

Discovery of Ancient Armor Proves Myth

From the JoongAng Daily (Seoul) - very interesting article, with lots of graphics. The horse armor is especially fascinating. I wonder if this could have been the model for much later horse armor used in Europe??? Ancient Silla armor comes to light The recent discovery of the armor of Silla Dynasty cavalrymen has provided proof of the existence of these mythical men. July 22, 2009 By Lee Kyong-hee GYEONGJU - The warrior’s body and bones are long gone, decayed into the soil. But the armor that once protected him from enemy swords and arrows has survived the passage of time and has been revealed for the first time in 1,600 years. The armor of the heavily protected cavalrymen of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. - A.D. 935) - proof of which has previously existed only in paintings - was discovered in the ancient tombs of the Jjoksaem District of Hwango-dong, Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang. The Jjoksaem District has the largest concentration of ancient Silla Dynasty tombs in Korea. The armor was believed to have been used by Silla warriors sometime between the fourth and sixth centuries. Although the discovery may not be as impressive as the terra-cotta figures of ancient China, it is just as important to the field of archaeology in Korea. This is the first time such a vast array of the armor of the cavalrymen of the Three Kingdoms period (57 B.C. - A.D. 668) has been unearthed in such good condition. The Three Kingdoms era in Korea refers to the period in which three kingdoms - Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla - ruled the country. Last month, archaeologists at the Gyeongju National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and officials of the Cultural Heritage Administration opened the excavation site to the public. The armor on display included complete sets of scale armor and barding, or armor for horses. “This is the first time in East Asia that such complete sets of the armor of the heavily armed cavalrymen have been found,” Lee Geon-mu, the chief of the Cultural Heritage Administration, said. “It’s also the first evidence of the existence of the Silla cavalrymen.” Rest of article.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Politiken Cup

Standings after Round 5 (through top 100 only, chess femmes only after first place players). Three players are still perfect: 1 2. Peter Heine Nielsen (Helsinge) 2678 5.0 2 1. Vladimir Malakhov () 2707 5.0 3 14. Jonny Hector (Nordkalotten) 2556 5.0 12 19. Viktorija Cmilyte (Helsinge) 2470 4.5 20 17. Marie Sebag () 2531 4.0 70 54. Svetlana Agrest () 2260 3.0 89 67. Dara Akdag (BMS Skak) 2198 3.0 97 90. Eva Jiretorn (Bräkne-Hoby SK) 2150 3.0

Inscription About Solar Eclipse Found In Indian Temple

[Image: Ajit Solanki / Associated Press
Visitors at Science City in Ahmadabad, India, try out solar goggles after a demonstration on how to safely watch a solar eclipse today.]

The total eclipse of the sun that was to be viewed in Asia was much in the news the past few days. Here is an article from ABC News about seeing it from eastern India, where it appeared as a total eclipse of the Sun. Another article from the Los Angeles Times.

And now crops up this article. Suspiciously auspicious, I'd say, particularly since a similar inscription in another temple indicates that contributions to the temple should be made during the time of the eclipse. Hmmm...

Stone Inscription on Solar Eclipse Found

India Express Buzz
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 7:56 AM IST
A portion of stone inscription at Periyanayaki Amman temple in Palani which mentions a solar eclipse during 17th century.
First Published : 21 Jul 2009 02:35:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 21 Jul 2009 08:43:19 AM IST

PALANI: Archaeologists have found a stone inscription at Periyanayaki Amman temple in Palani dating back to 17th century that mentions a solar eclipse that took place at that time.

Periyanayaki Amman temple is one of the important satellite shrines of Arul­mighu Dhandayuthapani Swamy temple in Palani. This temple was constructed in the 14th century by the Pandiya kings, who worshipped Lord Shiva. After its destruction by Malik Kafur, the Nayakkar dynasty built a shrine for Amman at the same site.

Archaeologist Narayanamoorthy, architect Manivannan and professors of history from women’s college conducted research in the temple when they stumbled upon a stone inscription on the wall of the 'yaga sala', that mentions solar eclipse. [Are the professors of history unnamed in the article because they are female?]

Only four lines of the inscription are now visible, as all other lines had been obliterated over a period of time.

Narayanamoorthy said that from the available lines they could decipher that the day of solar eclipse was an auspicious occasion and on that day land was donated to the temple by royalty.

He said that the 17th century inscription shows that even at that time the Tamilians were able to forecast solar eclipse and indicate the times when it would occur.

A similar stone inscription was found in the cave temple in Palani, etched by King Malligarjuna Rayar. That inscription had also described the period of solar eclipse as the auspicious time for giving donations.

The Origins of Clothing

[Image: An example of early clothing from my image archives. Figurine from Plocknik, about 6,500 years old. Wearing a short string-skirt, bracelets, and a tight fitted blouse with long sleeves.] Our earliest ancestors were not born clothed, and nor are we. It makes sense that at some point we had to develop different kinds of clothing and the technology to produce it. So when did this happen, and why? A fascinating topic - rather like Goddesschess' quest for the origins of chess! The article was first published in September, 2008 but I didn't find it until tonight: When and wear: the prehistory of clothing Monday, 01 September 2008 By Simon Couper Ask Ian Gilligan about his research project, and he’ll begin with a contradiction. “My great interest is in clothing, because I think it’s our most important invention,” he says. “But the next thing I’m going to say is that I’m not interested in clothing at all.” Is this the sign of a confused mind, or a rampant contrarian? Far from it. The doctoral researcher from the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at ANU is simply making it clear that he’s not concerned with the vicissitudes of fashion: the latest outpouring of haute couture or prêt-à-porter. Instead, he’s fascinated by how humans came to develop clothing, and how that innovation might have in turn given our species an evolutionary edge over other hominids. Rest of article.

Ancient Writing: Indus Script

From the Smithsonian Can Computers Decipher a 5,000-Year-Old Language? A computer scientist is helping to uncover the secrets of the inscribed symbols of the Indus By David Zax, July 20, 2009 The Indus civilization, which flourished throughout much of the third millennium B.C., was the most extensive society of its time. At its height, it encompassed an area of more than half a million square miles centered on what is today the India-Pakistan border. Remnants of the Indus have been found as far north as the Himalayas and as far south as Mumbai. It was the earliest known urban culture of the subcontinent and it boasted two large cities, one at Harappa and one at Mohenjo-daro. Yet despite its size and longevity, and despite nearly a century of archaeological investigations, much about the Indus remains shrouded in mystery. What little we do know has come from archaeological digs that began in the 1920s and continue today. Over the decades, archaeologists have turned up a great many artifacts, including stamp sealings, amulets and small tablets. Many of these artifacts bear what appear to be specimens of writing—engraved figures resembling, among other things, winged horseshoes, spoked wheels, and upright fish. What exactly those symbols might mean, though, remains one of the most famous unsolved riddles in the scholarship of ancient civilizations. There have been other tough codes to crack in history. Stumped Egyptologists caught a lucky break with the discovery of the famed Rosetta stone in 1799, which contained text in both Egyptian and Greek. The study of Mayan hieroglyphics languished until a Russian linguist named Yury Knorozov made clever use of contemporary spoken Mayan in the 1950s. But there is no Rosetta stone of the Indus, and scholars don’t know which, if any, languages may have descended from that spoken by the Indus people. About 22 years ago, in Hyderabad, India, an eighth-grade student named Rajesh Rao turned the page of a history textbook and first learned about this fascinating civilization and its mysterious script. In the years that followed, Rao’s schooling and profession took him in a different direction—he wound up pursuing computer science, which he teaches today at the University of Washington in Seattle—but he monitored Indus scholarship carefully, keeping tabs on the dozens of failed attempts at making sense of the script. Even as he studied artificial intelligence and robotics, Rao amassed a small library of books and monographs on the Indus script, about 30 of them. On a nearby bookshelf, he also kept the cherished eighth-grade history textbook that introduced him to the Indus. Rest of article.

Significant Gold Artifacts Found in Macedonia

Ohrid, Macedonia: Archaeologists Discover Significant Gold Artefacts from Hellenistic Period 20 July 2009 This Saturday, archeologists in Ohrid unearthed exceptionally valuable finds dating to the fifth century BC. [No photos, unfortunately] On the road between the Upper Gate and the St. Bogorodica Perivlepta Church were discovered 17 tombs from the Hellenistic Period, Pasko Kuzman, head of the Macedonian Department for Cultural Heritage told the Dnevnik daily newspaper. In one of the tombs was buried a 15-year-old girl, which most likely belonged to the nobility. “There is something here which, from a scientific point of view, is more important even than the golden mask [discovered in Ohrid earlier], since the personality buried in this tomb had a golden object in the shape of eye glasses, a rhomboid-shaped golden plate on the mouth and a golden plate with a sun with 16 rays in the area of the heart,” Kuzman stated. “The two objects that were placed on the eyes and the mouth mean the dead person was masked. This kind of combination of masking was unique on the Balkans. Until now, separate golden plates were discovered, especially in the Aegean, but this kind of combination was unknown until now,” the archaeologist explained. The other valuable artefacts discovered on Saturday include a 40-centimetre-long golden belt, amphorae-shaped golden pendants for a necklace, bronze and silver gloves and golden object with a conical shape which are quite rare for this part of the world. [Not sure what this 0r - these? - conical shape or shapes are. In ancient Egypt, conical shapes were gaming pieces.] Also found were objects from amber, a material which – as Kuzman explained, was not found in these lands but was transported from the Baltic area when there was a strong trade connection between North ad South. “We should be proud of this priceless treasure being discovered [in Macedonia] and thankful to all the archaeologists who have invested all their energy and knowledge,” Macedonian Minister of Culture Elizabeta Kanchevska-Milevska told the publication. The state and the Ministry will continue working with the same speed and intensity towards the protection of cultural heritage and the exploration of a large number of sites, Kanchevska-Milevska added. Ohrid is the leader in Macedonia in terms of the golden ornaments discovered in the area, numbering 450 objects so far, Kuzman stated. This, according to him, has to do with the city’s location, near the ancient Via Egnatia road which connected Rome to Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul). Excavations at the site, according to the publication, will continue in the fall and an exhibition of all the golden artefacts discovered so far will be organised by the end of the year.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Site of South Han Palace discovered in Guangzhou

Evidently, as part of a large area of ruins dating from the Five Dynasties South Han Kingdom -- there is a video at the article. BEIJING, July 17 - Archaeologists from the Nanyue Kingdom Palace preparatory office announced Wednesday that the site of a Five Dynasties palace was discovered July 14 in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. As the seat of the Western Han Nanyue Kingdom and the Five Dynasties South Han Kingdom, the site has been the center of Guangzhou for some 2000 years. Cultural relics of 12 dynasties, covering the Qin Dynasty to the People's Republic of China, are being discovered there. Soundbite: Li Zaoxin, director of the Archaeological Research Department of the Nanyue Kingdom Palace preparatory office, said, "We are now in the backyard of the second South Han Palace. All of the floor tiles here are decorated with images of butterflies. This is an important discovery in art history, since we thought the butterfly decoration was often used in the Ming and Qing dynasties." The South Han is one of the Five Dynasties of south China, during which kings built grand palaces in the capital of Guangzhou. According to Li, the newly-discovered site might be one of the palaces where kings handled their daily affairs. Soundbite: Li added, "We are standing in the South Han dynasty section now. We can also see sites of other dynasties, for this was the center of Guangzhou during the Qin Dynasty, and capital of the Nanyue and South Han Kingdom." Archaeologists will furthur excavate the ancient treasure, and plan to preserve it as a museum. Xinhua News Agency correspondents reporting from Guangzhou.

Dakhleh Oasis

Ongoing discoveries from Dakhleh Oasis are highlighted in this article: Buried City in Oasis Lends View of Ancient Egypt By Rob Goodier, LiveScience Staff posted: 15 July 2009 12:04 pm ET A trench that was cut through collapsed mud bricks and the compacted debris of buildings leveled centuries ago is revealing a dusty scene of roof-topped streets in ancient Amheida, a city marooned on an oasis deep in Egypt’s western desert. The latest in a chain of archaeological discoveries in a site that dates back at least 5,000 years, the covered streets are a glimpse into rural life under the Egyptian sun. At Amheida, archaeologists led by Roger Bagnall at New York University have sifted through the remains of a settlement far removed from the thoroughfares of the Nile Valley. The site is in the Dakhleh Oasis, 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Cairo and 185 miles (300 kilometers) from Luxor, a religious and political hub of ancient Egypt. The archaeological work has yielded a treasure trove of art and writing. Through this rural lens, archaeologists are shifting their notions of education in ancient Egypt during the Greek and Roman empires. And they have noticed deep connections between powerful central governments and the outposts in the oases. Bagnall described the latest discoveries at a conference in Manhattan last month. First glimmer of Egyptian culture The Dakhleh Oasis stretches several hundred square miles below a barren escarpment, hedged by the dunes of the eastern Sahara that roll to its edges. The sand contrasts with the farms and the cattle-grazed meadows within. Wine, olives and dates remain important to the economy for the 75,000 residents of the oasis today. People settled in Dakhleh at least 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic period, the twilight of the Stone Age as agriculture began to catch on. At that time, the climate was wetter and residents were surrounded not by a desert, but a savanna. Bagnall suspects that Egypt's first farmers may have worked in the oasis before agriculture arrived in the Nile Valley. Rest of article.

Shira Chess Challenge: Update

Shira has arrived safely at her next assignment, an orphanage in Portgugal. Shira will be teaching the kids how to use a computer through a Truth About Drugs lecture (see Drug Free World). Shira sent this beautiful photo taken of sunrise from her hotel room. I am sure that is a dove, one of the birds of the Great Goddess, flying across the sky, bringing blessings to Shira's endeavor. I don't think I posted about this - because my training is going so poorly (that is, I am doing poorly at training, that is, all this is driving me absolutely bonkers and I'm not training at all, that is, well - forget it) Shira and I have moved back the date of our momentous three-game chess match. It is now scheduled for Labor Day Weekend, 2029 - only kidding - it is now scheduled for Labor Day Weekend 2009. So - deep breath - I have some extra time in which to prepare to be beaten into the chessboard by Ms. Shira. But I have achieved a certain equilibrium (at least, this week), and have consigned my Ego to sacrifice on the altar of Charity... As for my training, here is the latest report: I think I already posted that I resigned my game with Rob. He's back from vacation now, I may try him shsom, knowing now that he professes to know nothing about the game. He didn't believe me when I professed the same thing. Now he knows better. This time I'll be black and for some reason I always seem to play better with black. Silly, isn't it. Mott the Hoople spanked me - naughty Mott! My hapless black king was trapped by no less than three pieces - and here I thought the game had been going rather even (well, sort of), until I saw the WRITING ON THE WALL. Last ditch defensive moves probably had Mott rolling on the floor with laughter. Sigh. My games with soheil76 is in the end game phase and - what do I know? - I'd say I have a slight edge even though I have only 2 pawns to S76's 4 - but I've got a pesky rook and a bishop on the dark squares, S76 has a knight and a bishop also on the dark squares; the game with Frog Breath is in early moves yet and honestly, I don't think either of us knows what the hell we're doing - FB plays bizarre moves just like me. That's rather frightening, come to think of it...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2009 Canadian Open Chess Championship

Final standings at Monroi - corrected 7/20/09 (203 players) Winner: GM Mark Bluvshtein 2598 7.5 (won on tie-breaks) 1 GM Mark Bluvshtein 2598 7.5 2 IM Edward Porper 2510 7.5 3 GM Alexei Shirov 2748 7.0 4 GM Michael Adams 2699 7.0 5 GM Eugene Perelshteyn 2588 7.0 6 IM Irina Krush 2481 7.0 14 GM Xue Zhao (Zhao Xue) 2544 31 WFM Dina Kagramanov 2140 6.0 35 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2315 5.5 73 Dalia Kagramanov 1941 5.0 98 Gabrielle Nadeau 1912 4.5 115 Nicka Kalaydina 1879 4.0 120 Jasmine Du 1810 4.0 202 Leah Green 1298 0.5 Our friend, Wayne Mendryk (CAN 1440), finished in 161st place with 3.5. A comment received under Round 7 pointed out that I left off GM Zhao Xue - oops! Thanks for the tip. Anonymous, I added her here in the final standings.

Hales Corners Challenge X!

Hola Darlings! I'm taking a short break after raking up all the twigs and debris in the back yard (whew!) left by several windstorms since the last time I cut the grass (3 weeks ago!). I'm going to change and walk to the supermarket for necessities such as toilet paper and bird seed and then change back into my sweat-soaked, insect-repellant impregnated clothes and rev up the 6 hp gas-guzzling lawn mower to give the grass out back the once-over. I wanted to take a moment to remind all of our millions of faithful fans (ahem) of this absolutely fabtastic event coming up in October - the Hales Corners Chess Challenge! It's good for 10 Grand Prix points! Goddesschess increased its special prizes just for the chess femmes for this tournament. There are now 2 prizes offered for femmes playing in the Open, and three prizes offered for femmes playing in the Reserve section. We hope more chess femmes than ever before will come out and play, and compete for the prizes.
Hales Corners Challenge X
Saturday, October 17, 2009
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 (both sections $5 more after October 14, 2009) Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+: Entry fee subtracted from any prizes won 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* guaranteed Goddesschess prizes for top performing females: Open Section: 1st - $60, 2nd - $40 Reserve Section: 1st - $40, 2nd $30, 3rd $20 Tournament Director: Tom Fogec Assistant Tournament Directors: Robin Grochowski & Allen Becker 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: Tom Fogec—414-425-6742 (home) or 414-405-4207 (cell) USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided Half point bye available in Round 1, 2 or 3 if requested prior to round 1; not available in Round 4. _____________________________________________________________________________Checks Check 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: _______________________

2009 Politiken Cup

Round 3 in progress, so some of the scores for Round 3 have already been incorporated into the standings. Here are the chess femmes in the top 100: (4) 54. Svetlana Agrest 2260 2½ (17) 17. Marie Sebag 2531 2 ((40) 47. Jasmin Bejtovic 2307 2 (74) 19. Viktorija Cmilyte 2470 1½ (79) 154. Susanna Berg 2020 1½ ( There is a long way to go. I'm sure Cmilyte will pull up in the rankings, as will Sebag.

2009 Scottish Chess Championship

An Open and a Championship combined. Today is the last Round (9). At the moment, GM Keti Arakhamia-Grant is in 6th place with 5.5, tied with several others. Leaders are: 1-3. GM S. Arun Prasad IND 2556, GM Magesh Chandran Panchanath IND 2493 and GM Mark Hebden ENG 2468 - 6.5 4-5. GM Jan Markos SLO 2555 and FM Gudmundur Kjartansson ICE 2356 - 6.0 6-12. GM Keti Arakhamia-Grant SCO 2506, GM John Shaw SCO 2462, GM Aaron Summerscale ENG 2454, IM Andrew Greet ENG 2443, FM Iain Gourlay SCO 2349, FM Craig Thomson SCO 2320 and Jonathan Grant SCO 2254 - 5.5 Keti's final round match-up: GM Keti Arakhamia-Grant SCO 2506 - IM Andrew Greet ENG 2443 You can find Keti's Round 8 game to play through at According to the official website, assuming the necessary number of players is met, places 6 through 12 will earn 100 British pounds and top female will earn 200 British pounds - I assume only the best prize will be awarded to the top female who also finishes in the money via score. Good luck to Keti.
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