Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ancient Lakshmi Sculpture Discovered in Kashmir

She's a beauty! Ancient stone sculpture of Goddess of 6th - 7th Century A.D. discovered in Indian Kashmir by Vijay Kumar August 01, 2009 Srinagar, August 01(Vijay Kumar) - In Indian Kashmir, J & K Police department discovered an ancient and magnificent stone sculpture of Goddess Lakshmi from an ancient spring at Village Nagabal Lesser in Kokernag area of South Kashmir. The sculpture is brilliantly carved in limestone (slightly brownish in colour) measuring 9-inches in height and 5-inches in width. The deity is seated on a lotus throne placed in between two lions. The main sculpture is enclosed in a stone frame and the top of which projects in the shape of elephant motifs, towards the head of the deity. However, the right top of the right side is missing. The deity is holding lotus stuck in her right hand, cornucopia in her left hand and shown with smiling face and wearing a very impressive dress. The deity is also shown wearing a necklace with a typical crown mostly seen in Kashmiri sculptures. The drapery covering the lower body of the sculpture does not pass through its shoulders but passes beneath the chest of the deity within series of folds and falls. The carving and costumes of the sculpture is a pure reflection of Gandhara Art, and speaks high of skilled craftsmanship of the ancient art of Kashmir. The preliminary study of the sculpture dates the artifact between 6th - 7th Century A.D. and places it very near to the sculptures previously found at Bijbehara, Anantnag, Kashmir. This is the only kind of artifact found from the Lesser Kokernag area of South Kashmir so far and the presence of pottery in an around Village Lesser reveals that there had been some ancient settlements which requires further examination. The department appreciates the efforts of the J & K Police department and Police Station Kokernag, in particular for recovery of the artifact which shall be shortly on display in the SPS Museum, Srinagar for the general public. *************************************************************** Interesting points of similarity with much older goddess sculptures: (1) Seated on a throne between two lions - cf. "Mother Goddess" or "Queen" discovered at Catal Hoyuk (I don't have the exact date at hand - it's about 8,000 years old -- 6,000 BCE -- maybe older) (2) Lotus throne - while I am not specifically aware of a lotus throne sculpture from ancient Egypt or a tomb painting or carving, the Egyptians revered the lotus, as did the ancient people of India. I do not know if this is independent development of iconography that happens to be identical or if it demonstrates some as yet undiscovered connection between the two cultures. (3) Elephant "motifs" - This might refer to elephant tusks that were broken off this little sculpture - it appears to me that they would have projected outward over the head of the goddess. Interestingly, I believe that the earliest "house of pharaoh" was a wickerware structure covered by an elephant hide, and over the main entrance was hung a pair of elephant tusks. This is very ancient - predates Dynasty Zero - again, working from my (very faulty) memory, I believe it dates to the time before the climate in Egypt got much drier and the elephants retreated, placing it earlier than about 4500 BCE. I believe that the enclosure symbol (think two brackets facing each other with a small space inbetween) for "par-o" or "per-o" remained the same in Egyptian hieroglypics until the language went extinct. However, there are accounts into historical times that small herds of elephants continued to live in the land between the two rivers (Mesopotamia), long after climate change had driven them out of Egypt. There are accounts preserved of ancient kings hunting elephants in this region. I believe the ancient word used in Persia for elephant was "per-u." Coincidence? (4) The mode of costume - most interesting. In ancient Egypt, Crete and no doubt other places as well, a woman's breasts were not covered by her clothes. Garments were wrapped around underneath the breasts, leaving them exposed; in later Cretan dress, sleeves were added to a sort of blouse that covered the back but left the chest/breasts bare, tightly cinched underneath, providing a sort of platform that projected the woman's breasts forward. I don't know exactly when it became "shameful" for a woman to go about in public with exposed breasts - perhaps with the advent of Christendom???

2009 FiNet Chess 960 Open Championship

Today the big ORDIX Open starts, but as part of the Mainz Chess Classic the 960 Open also hosted an incredible line-up of players! I'll try and pick out the chess femmes. US GM Gata Kamsky had the tournament in hand - he only needed a draw in the last round in order to win, but he suffered a loss and finished with 9 points. Devastating! Coverage at From Chessdom: The best female player in the FiNet was Kateryna Lahno with 8 points, Irina Gaponenko and Marie Rachel Sebag scored 7,5 points. I just checked the official website, the final standings aren't posted yet, they're only up through Round 10.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Night Miscellany

Tonight's FNM is dedicated to females whose presence has impacted history: First up is the late President of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino, who died earlier today. She was one of the most important women in the world in the last 25 years of the 20th century, shepherding a nation into democracy: Excerpted from The New York Times this evening: Corazon Aquino, Ex-Leader of Philippines, Is Dead By SETH MYDANS Published: July 31, 2009 Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines, who was swept into office on a wave of “people power” in 1986 and then faced down half a dozen coup attempts in six years as president, died Saturday in Manila, her son said. She was 76. Demure but radiant in her familiar yellow dress, Mrs. Aquino brought hope to the Philippines as a presidential candidate, then led its difficult transition to democracy from 20 years of autocratic rule under her predecessor, Ferdinand E. Marcos. That initial triumph of popular will — after a fraudulent election in which Mr. Marcos claimed victory, though most people believed that Mrs. Aquino had won — was a high point in modern Philippine history, and it offered a model for nonviolent uprisings that has been repeated often in other countries.
Hmmmm, does that scenario sound familiar to you, Mr. Ahmadinejad? Speaking of Iran - these days, the Iranian propaganda machine is geared right to Americans nut cases, it seems. Those propagandists (I think there must be several groups of them, all working under different power factions who run things in Iran these days) have evidently taken a lesson right out of the book of the so-called "birthers" (they claim that President Obama is not a "natural born" U.S. citizen and therefore cannot legally be elected as President under the United States Constitution), and are directly appealing to every fringe element living here and elsewhere. I believe they operate under the "X Files" dictum that the crazier the claim seems, the more people will believe it is Allah's Truth... On Wednesday Press TV, one of the "official" news outlets in Iran (there are several) claimed that martyred Neda Agha-Soltan, who was cut down by a bullet and died in front of dozens of witnesses on June 20, 2009 and whose gruesome death was caught on a cell phone video and subsequently viewed on You Tube by millions of people the world over, was actually killed by EVIL AGENTS - shot in the back - to enrage people against the current Shahs of Iran. Shades of a juiced-up Rush Limbaugh fantasy! According to this report, Neda's death caught on cell-phone video was really an elaborate hoax staged by Mosavi operatives/Mosavi sympathizers/foreigners seeking to destablize the current Shahs in control of Iran/name your choice -- with the goal of destablizing the rulership of the current Shahs of Iran. This claim was also floated in official Iranian press reports shortly after Neda was killed - I remember reading it and laughing through my tears - but it didn't get much circulation then as far as I can tell. Probably there was no one in Iran who believed it then, or believes it now. But here the story is once again being floated, no doubt with the hope that it will "take" this time. Here is the entry from The New York Times blog The Lede's coverage of events in Iran on July 30, 2009 regarding the false claims in Iranian press about Neda being shot in the back. Clicking on the links (which I hope will continue to work) will take you to the underlying stories that provide necessary background for my comments: Update 8:30 a.m. Iran’s state-supported, English-language satellite channel, Press TV, published a report on Wednesday supporting the theory floated by other pro-government Iranian news sites, that Neda Agha-Soltan was not shot by a member of Iran’s security forces or the Basij militia. The Press TV report is based on recent statements the broadcaster says were made by Hamid Panahi, Ms. Agha-Soltan’s friend and music teacher, who was with her when she was shot. Days after her killing, Mr. Panahi spoke to The Los Angeles Times in a much more defiant mood, after the Iranian governent had denied her family permission to bury or mourn her in accordance with Shiite tradition: Panahi said witnesses at the scene said the shooter was not a police officer but among a group of plainclothes security officials or militiamen lurking in the area. [...] Her loved ones were outraged by the authorities’ order not to eulogize her, to loudly sing her praises and mourn her loss. But they were too afraid and distraught to speak out, except for Panahi, who said he had nothing more to lose. “They know me,” he said. “They know where I am. They can come and get me whenever they want. My time has gone. We have to think about the young people.” [...] “She couldn’t stand the injustice of it all,” Panahi said. “All she wanted was the proper vote of the people to be counted. “For pursuing her goals, she didn’t use rocks or clubs,” he said. “She wanted to show with her presence that ‘I’m here. I also voted. And my vote wasn’t counted.’ It was a very peaceful act of protest, without any violence.” As to the person or persons responsible for her death, they will not be forgiven, he said. “When they kill an innocent child, this is not justice. This is not religion. In no way is this acceptable,” he said. “And I’m certain that the one who shot her will not get a pass from God.” For those of you who have been following events in Iran since the June 12, 2009 election, please check out The Lede's excellent coverage of what happened all over Iran on July 30, 2009 (40 days after the death of martyr Neda Agha-Soltan). The Lede's crew has done an excellent job of rounding up press reports, photographs and posted videos of what happened in Iran yesterday. Events on July 30, 2009 in Iran were also live-blogged at the Iran Protests to Honour the Dead The Iranian government may have also floated reports on/in their official news outlets that Neda is actually alive and hiding away in Greece (or Switzerland?), and will return to Iran when the time is right. I wonder - does the Republican Guard envision Neda riding on a big white charger with veils flowing behind her, leading a multi-million person army of irate Iranian voters toward Tehran? I know I read at least one "Neda is actually alive and living in ______" report on July 30th - but I don't remember where - at The Lede, the, or somewhere else. I have checked several of the places I usually go to get news on the developing situation in Iran since the June 12, 2009 election but could not find the particular story - maybe I overlooked it (I'm very tired), so I have concluded I read it somewhere else, perhaps by following a link to a link to a link. I didn't imagine it! I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. I tried a few Google searches to see if I could track down the story, but the few links back to the original story I found (at various blogs) are no longer operating. I do not for an instant believe that Neda Soltan is alive, or that her death was faked. I think the July 30th (or maybe July 29th) report actually existed, and then was yanked by elements in the Iranian government after someone amongst them realized how absolutely foolish such a report made them look!
Meanwhile, Hajar Rostami Motlagh, Neda Soltan's mother, mourns, and tells the world that while her family was coerced into not publicly mourning Neda's death and was prevented from visiting Neda's grave yesterday (on the 40th day after Neda's death), she takes some comfort from the fact that the world cried and continues to cry over her child's death.

Shira Chess Challenge: Portugal Class 1 Graduates!

Shira has sent news (very early this morning) about her latest undertaking at Pire Lampo Orphanage in Olhos D' Agua, Portugal where she is giving a two week course to the kids on behalf of her Foundation, Computerlabs for Kids! The first group of kids (Class 1) has graduated from Shira's tutorledge! Check out the video at You Tube. This photo: Shira giving a lesson to the kids. How intent they are! Even the fellow I assume is the translator (the older gentleman in the back) is paying rapt attention! Here is a photo of the happy graduating class! You can check our more photos of the kids in Class 1 at this photo album posted by Shira. Enjoy! Training Update: Errr, I am not doing too well (what's new, heh?) LOL! S76 did not respond to my invitation to play a second game - probably thought it wasn't worth his or her time/effort to play me! My probational rating is currently 1075 (one starts out at 1200). I will not receive a permanent rating until I have completed 20 games. Frog Breath has reappeared - we are now on move 22 of our game. I honestly have no idea what I'm doing in this game. I think I am pressing - overthinking. Usually I don't think at all when I play chess, I just play. Probably not a good idea, though. Duh, Jan! To all you kids out there - THIS IS NOT THE WAY YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING CHESS! Take it from me. I'm a grown up, I know. Oh, the irony, the irony... I need to hustle up some new games. Chessdaddy has gone underground (I think he has now realized just exactly the extent of what it was he so cavalierly volunteered to undertake a scant month ago and is now hiding from me). Well - he says he's working 14 hours a day. Now honestly, in this economy, WHO is working 14 hours a day? Geez! Darling, the least you can do is come up with a more original fib :) (Since Chessdaddy doesn't read this blog, he'll never know I said that, tee hee).

Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls

The 2009 tournament has concluded. I've been following the action on Susan Polgar's chess blog and enjoying the photographs and videos. (Photos and information from SP's chess blog. Top photo: GM Susan Polgar and 2009 SPNI winner Yang Dai with the Winners' Cup) I think this year's coverage at SP's blog was the best yet. The photos and the posts I think really captured the feeling of comradery and fun the young ladies and their families had while at the Texas Tech campus. As you know, the young chess femme invitees receive free room and three meals a day for the entire week they are on campus, and their accompanying family members/guardians are provided accomodations and meals at nominal cost. I believe this allows the young ladies and their families to concentrate on the tournament (and having fun during the off-time events, as the girls play only one tournament game a day) and not worry so much about the expenses of staying away from their hometowns for a full week. The tournament concluded today. Here are the top 19 players, posted at Susan Polgar's blog: 1. Yang Dai 6. 02-3. Rachel Gologorsky, Epiphany Peters 5. 04-7. Linda Diaz, Courtney Jamison (2008 winner), Samyukta Bhat, Joanne Koong 4.5 8-19. Alexandra Botez, Dana Hannibal, Victoria Bian, Julia Jones, Michelle Chen, Margaret Hua, Indira Puri, Rebecca Lelko, Apurva Virkud, Sayaka Foley, Autumn Douthitt 4.0. The young lady I was rooting for - Mira Ensley-Field - from Wisconsin, was off to a hot start, winning 3 of 3 games! (Photo from Susan Polgar's blog, Round 5 action with Mira - facing camera) Final standings for all of the young ladies and games (not sure if all games) will be available later tonight. Congratulations to 2009 winner Yang Dai, and to all of the young ladies who participated in this great event. The photos and videos amply demonstrated that the girls were there to play chess, and also have a great time meeting each other and making new friends while enjoying all the extra-curricular activities this year's Tournament afforded. It looks like the family members, etc. enjoyed themselves too!


Get ready to rumble! July 27- Aug 2nd, 2009 Rheingoldhalle, Mainz Chess Classic Mainz 2009 (CCM9) 16. ORDIX Open World's biggest Rapid Chess Tournament This thing is HUGE! 638 players. Mig pointed out at his Daily Dirt blog that the top 10 players would be a Category XIX. Besides our current U.S. Champ Nakamura, Gata Kamsky is also playing - he's #17 on the list of entrants. The organizers made it very easy for me to pick out the chess femmes, as all players were designed either M or W. Here are the ladies - 41 out of 638: LfdNr Teilnehmer Titel TWZ Land 50. Sebag,Marie Rachel WGM 2531 FRA 60. Cmilyte,Viktorija WIM 2470 LTU 62. Lahno,Kateryna GM 2481 UKR 67. Gaponenko,Inna WIM 2444 UKR 70. Zhukova,Natalia WGM 2465 UKR 89. Gara,Anita WIM 2381 HUN 98. Medvegy,Nora IM 2344 HUN 101. Zakurdjaeva,Irina WGM 2333 RUS 106. Melnikova,Yana WGM 2325 RUS 121. Berend-Sakhatova,Elvira WGM 2339 122. Azarova,Nadezhda WIM 2296 BLR 155. Vaganjan,Irina WIM 2269 ARM 199. Pertlova,Sona WIM 2227 CZE 203. Fischdick,Gisela WGM 2238 212. Lauterbach,Ingrid WIM 2173 244. Endress,Anna 2109 249. Caoili,Arianne WIM 2199 252. Van Münster,Kirsten WFM 2186 305. Medvegy,Judit 2033 HUN 309. Stangl,Anita,Dr. WFM 2146 330. Janotta,Steffi 2058 332. Leveikina,Jevgenija 2042 387. Großmann,Susan 2015 422. Katte,Isabel 1952 436. Preiß,Veronika 1994 439. Renner,Gabriele 2023 464. Voigt,Ingrid WFM 2104 474. Kind,Veronika 1969 493. Carow,Annelen 1789 509. Froehlich-Dill ,Astrid 1922 510. Roos,Karin 1861 512. Zemke,Christine 1760 519. Lerch,Cornelia 1908 537. Becher,Anne 1698 565. Biebinger,Eva 1590 566. Riesch,Jennifer 1906 587. Perovic-Ottstadt,Sanja,Dr. 1443 594. Krings,Elisabeth 1398 604. Hock,Anna-Maria 1241 613. Peschk,Kathrin 848 637. Vasquez Rodriguez,Ma Elena ESP Sebag and Cmilyte recently played in the Politiken Cup, where Sebag finished in 32nd place with 6.5 and Cmilyte finished in 13th place with 7.0 (winner on tie-breaks was Parmerian Negi with 8.5/10).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shira Chess Challenge: Portugal Day 4

Hola darlings! Email from Shira, providing more details about Computer Labs for Kids' latest charitable assignment and background information. Enjoy! Hello Everyone, I thought I'd send out a little more information about what I am doing here in Portugal. For those of you who just want a quick look at today's class, here is the You Tube link. I am in Olhos D' Agua, Portugal giving a two week course to the Pire Lampo orphanage. The course is on the Leapster, which is a handheld learning device designed for young children. My goal is to introduce young children to technology which will help them learn English and basic computing skills. I use computers that are age appropriate. For the Pire Lampo orphanage, I selected the Leapster because of it's popularity with children and in United States. The Leapster's activities have built-in tutorials and adapt automatically to the child's skill level. Orphans, unlike other children, have limited access to expensive toys and computers, so we feel the need to provide something that is both fun and educational. Our course is especially designed to increase self-esteem and responsibility. The course topics include what it means to be an owner. Each child learns to be responsible for their own equipment by carefully going over how to handle the Leapster, troubleshooting techniques, and other basics. At the end of the course they receive their own Leapster and a certificate of completion. The Pire Lampo class is divided into two groups. The first group graduates tomorrow, July 31st. The second group starts on August 10th nd will graduate on August 13th. More information on the Leapster Computer Labs for Kids Computer Labs for Kids at Facebook You Tube links: Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 I have also finished two other projects this year - one with a group of children near the Gaza Strip in Israel and another at an orphanage in Agra, India. Israel Video India Video Thank you very much for following along with the Computer Labs for Kids projects. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the replies I've received, and I appreciate so much your encouragement. Shira

Can You Read This?

If so - contact the archaeologists! From the Jerusalem Post: Jul 29, 2009 16:53 Updated Jul 30, 2009 9:38 Know what this says? By ETGAR LEFKOVITS A unique Aramaic inscription on a stone cup commonly used for ritual purity during the first century has been uncovered in a dig on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, an archeologist said Wednesday. The six-week excavation is being carried out within the Gan Sobev Homot Yerushalayim national park, close to the Zion Gate of the Old City. The 10-line Aramaic script, which is clear but cryptic, is being deciphered by a team of epigraphic experts in an effort to determine the meaning of the text, said Prof. Shimon Gibson, of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who is co-directing the excavation. "This is a difficult script, not one that is worn or graded, which demands research," Gibson said. He estimated that it would take a couple of months to determine what the inscription says. "It is like digging out grandparents' hand-written letters," he quipped. [Oh please, it wouldn't take me a 'couple of months' to read anything written by my grandparents, unless it was in Polish.] Gibson said the find uncovered two weeks ago was rare because few inscriptions from the Second Temple Period had been discovered in Jerusalem. The dig also uncovered a sequence of building dating from the First and Second Temple periods through to the Byzantine and Early Islamic eras. The additional finds include a house complex with a mikve ritual bath featuring a remarkably well preserved vaulted ceiling. Three bread ovens - dated to 70 CE, when Titus and the Roman army stormed the city - were also found in the house. Archeologists believe that this area of Jerusalem's Upper City was the priestly quarter during Second Temple times. A large arched building with a mosaic floor from the Byzantine period preserved to a height of 3 meters was also uncovered. It may be part of a building complex or street associated with the nearby Church of St. Mary.

Some More New York Photos

I've got the sprinkler on the front lawn which looks like a checkerboard - and I didn't even design it, that's the sad thing! Lots of totally dead patches from those sod web worms, seems I did NOT get the bug killer pellets down at JUST the right time to get rid of them, and what the sod web worms haven't killed, the drought has. We've had about 1/2 inch of rain during the last 7 weeks - next to nothing since those June floods! The only green spots on my front law are where the tree roots and shrub roots haven't sucked up all the water that I laboriously poured on the lawn with the sprinkler 2 weeks ago. Now I'm doing it all over again. My quarterly water bill will probably be about $200. Sigh. Here's happy stuff. A few more pics from that fantastic shop that dondelion and I stumbled across one day when we were headed toward Fifth Avenue where I wanted to window shop. As it turned out, we spent so much time at charming store dondelion and I stumbled is McKenzie-Childs. Great gifts!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Goddess 101: Aloe Vera is - Kumari!

Who knew? I sure didn't. All those posts I've done about the Nepalese Kumari. Kumari is aloe vera and also means "goddess" in Sanskrit! (Photo of aloe vera from the, manufacturers of herbal exports overseas!) Check it out, from Citizen Herb lore By Wendy Mullins published July 28, 2009 10:37 am Aloe Vera: The healing goddess The succulent juices of this plant have long been used to counteract the effects of aging and promote beauty. East Indian women associate it with the female gender. Hence this plant's Sanskrit name "kumari", which means "goddess." Typical of most herbs, Aloe Vera possesses a great many healing attributes, its medicinal properties known since antiquity to the fathers of medicine, Dioscorides, Celsus and Pliny. Aloe is indigenous to East and South Africa, introduced to the tropics and West Indies where it is extensively cultivated. In the West, the gel of Aloe Vera's fleshy leaves are used externally to relieve a variety of skin disorders. To moisten dryness, relieve irritation, reduce inflammation and infection, apply liquid aloe gel to the affected area. Aloe is considered an effective healing agent for cuts and burns-especially sunburn. I like to chill an aloe leaf for this particular application. The antibacterial, cooling affect of aloe gel is also helpful with eczema, dermatitis, poison ivy, and diaper rash, insect bites and on the gums for dental abscesses, to remedy gingivitis. Aloe is also used to relive conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. For the internal environment, aloe's bitter action helps to promote liver function and bowl movement and is also useful in treating peptic ulcers. When buying commercial blends, be sure the juice is at least 99 percent pure with less than 1 percent added oxidation and mold inhibitors. Aloe should not be used internally during pregnancy. For a luxurious spoil, experience aloe as a beauty product. To condition hair and skin, blend the gel with your shampoo, hand lotion or simply apply aloe alone. It feels cool and silky on the skin and is especially enjoyable during hot summer months. With so many uses, every household should have an aloe plant. Grow in clay pots with plenty of drainage, and expose your plant to lots of sunlight. Aloe is ideally suited to a desert environment, so water sparingly. With proper care, your aloe plant will be there to soothe and spoil year 'round.

Shira Chess Challenge: Portugal Day 3

Hola everyone! Shira has posted a new video at You Tube. The lessons have commenced! Photo: Shira giving a lesson to the kids using her laptop (from Day 3). If you look at the video, you'll see that Shira speaks in English, and what she says is translated into Spanish for the kids. These children look a little older. The lessons for the kids are geared toward their ages - it's not one size fits all. Training Update: Well, I know I shouldn't be posting this information - the ENEMY is reading it! But - what the heck. Here is the "best" game (I use that term advisedly) that I have had so far at Red Hot Pawn. This is the one that I resigned from last night: [Event "Open invite"] [Site ""] [Date "2009.06.24"] [EndDate "2009.07.29"] [Round "?"] [White "Shakerjan"] [Black "soheil76"] [WhiteRating "1075"] [BlackRating "1530"] [WhiteELO "1075"] [BlackELO "1530"] [Result "0-1"] [GameId "6445332"] 1. e4 d5 2. Nb1c3 d4 3. Nc3d5 c6 4. Nd5f4 e5 5. Nf4d3 Bf8d6 6. a3 Bc8e67. Ng1f3 Be6g4 8. Bf1e2 Nb8d7 9. b4 Ng8f6 10. Nf3xe5 Bg4xe2 11. Ne5xf7 Be2xd112. Nf7xd8 Ra8xd8 13. Ke1xd1 Nf6xe4 14. Rh1e1 Nd7f6 15. f3 O-O 16. fxe4 Bd6xh217. e5 Nf6d5 18. Nd3c5 b6 19. Nc5e6 Rd8e8 20. Ne6xf8 Kg8xf8 21. e6 h522. Bc1b2 c5 23. b5 Bh2g3 24. Re1e4 Nd5f4 25. d3 Nf4xe6 26. a4 Ne6f427. Re4xe8 Kf8xe8 28. Kd1d2 h4 29. c3 dxc3 30. Bb2xc3 g5 31. a5 Nf4xg2 32. axb6 axb6 33. Ra1a8 Ke8d7 34. d4 Bg3d6 35. d5 h3 36. Ra8g8 h237. Rg8h8 Ng2h4 38. Rh8h7 Bd6e7 39. Kd2e3 h1=Q 40. Bc3e5 Qh1xd5 0-1 My game with PC (last night I erroneously posted PC's name as CP, I corrected it without comment in that prior post) is going forward. PC has already rolled out a bishop. I believe this is - er - usual - in this position? LOL! Well, I looked at the board (we're on like move 4) and I thought I should roll out my bishop too - but then I realized that THAT move would be totally mirroring what PC is doing. So - did I do it, just for the heck of it? You know, psychology of chess and all that jazz. Or just maybe because it was the best move I could find with my limited understanding of the game? Noooooooo. I moved out my other knightess instead. LOL! BTW, I messaged Soheil76 (see game above) and asked if he or she would be interested in another game - I desperately need more practice! Honestly, I've no idea how many games I can fit in between now and when Shira and I will face off (Labor Day weekend) - but I need them all. Studying data bases doesn't do it for me. Hands on (and repeating the same mistakes over and over and over until something finally something clicks - or snaps and I go totally insane) is the way I work when it comes to chess. My training regime now includes watching "Searching for Bobby Fischer" every Saturday evening. Poor Mr. Don - he has no idea what he's going to be in for when he arrives here on August 15th. I'm going to have him tied up to a chessboard every single second! Oooooh, that kind of sounds kinky :)

2009 Thracian Princess Open

Standings after Round 6: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts 1 6 WIM Raeva Elitsa 2277 BUL 5,5 2 10 WFM Videnova Iva 2288 BUL 4,5 3 4 WIM Bulmaga Irina 2277 MDA 4,5 4 9 WFM Sgircea Silvia-Raluca 2199 ROU 4,0 5 14 Vladimirova Maria 2102 BUL 4,0 6 1 WGM Chelushkina Irina 2357 SRB 4,0 7 2 WGM Voiska Margarita 2355 BUL 4,0 8 7 WIM Dragomirescu Angela 2215 ROU 3,5 9 5 WGM Maksimovic Suzana 2255 SRB 3,5 10 13 Bednikova Stefi 2112 BUL 3,5 11 16 Stefanova Milena 2089 BUL 3,5 12 21 Ivanova Simoneta 1979 BUL 3,5 13 11 WFM Baciu Diana 2139 MDA 3,0 14 15 Sirkova Darena 2021 BUL 3,0 15 3 WGM Benderac Ana 2298 SRB 3,0 16 17 Krumova Ani 2035 BUL 3,0 17 24 Bulmaga Elena 1654 MDA 3,0 18 23 Milutinovic Stefana 1716 SRB 3,0 19 12 WIM Chilingirova Pavlina 2225 BUL 2,5 20 8 WIM Yordanova Svetla 2210 BUL 2,5 21 25 Shivacheva Donika 1935 BUL 2,5 22 19 Kosturska Yoana 1946 BUL 2,0 23 22 Vasova Mariya 1886 BUL 2,0 24 27 Lozanova Galabina 0 BUL 2,0 25 20 Dimitrova Aseniya 1847 BUL 2,0 26 18 Bocheva Margarita 1957 BUL 1,5 27 28 Valeva Ana 0 BUL 1,0 28 26 Avramova Maria 0 BUL 0,0 The Tournament concludes on July 31st. Here are the prizes the ladies are playing for: AWARDS: I - 600EUR II - 500EUR III - 400EUR IV - 300EUR V - 250EUR VI - 200EUR VII - 150EUR VIII - 100EUR IX - 60EUR X - 50EUR Girl under 16 - 40EUR Girl under 14 - 30EUR Girl under 12 - 20EUR Prizes not shared.

Ten Year Old Steals the Show

From The Republikien Online 29.07.2009 Nicola emerges as chess star NICOLA Tjaronda stole the limelight last Saturday [July 25, 2009] and clearly earned the title of player of the tournament at the Namibian School Sports Union (NSSU) and the Namibia Chess Federation’s (NCF) competition to select a team to participate against South Africa. All regions as well as the qualifiers of the Bank Windhoek Open Chess Championships were invited, however only six of the 13 regions participated with 63 participants. The NCF knows that Namibia has the talent and that it’s just a matter of time and resources before the country can conquer the chess world. Why can the NCF claim this? Well, Nicola Tjaronda, who is only 10 year old and has 1½ years of chess training at TWCA, defeated three high school boys and drew with two. She completely dominated the girls in their encounters. Her victories were against Victor Nangombe, Patricia Teek, Lishen Mentile, Paulus Shituna and Calvin Eichab. She drew against Julian Isaak and Eric Namaseb after she outplayed the young lads. She did not lose a single game and came third with 6/7, due to a lower progressive score. Nicola is the school girls’ champion for 2009. It’s the first time that the NCF saw a young lady who is not afraid to play against the boys. She remained focused throughout the tournament and played attacking chess like a genius. Her encounter against Calvin Eichab displayed Grandmaster technique. She is a definite talent and her coach Josef Nitzborn promises to teach her more good moves to rake in more victories. The overall winner of the National School Team Selection chess tournament was Hange Tjingaete, a learner at Academia and chess student at The Zandell Chess Academy, with a score of 6/7. Hange fought off Julian Isaak in their round 6 encounter which ended in a draw. He however could not convert a slight advantage in round 7 against Melvin Indongo and had to accept a draw. In second position was Julian Isaak with 6/7. Julian, another gem from TWCA, had to admit that Nicola was in top form and he had to fight hard to rescue a lost game. In third position came Nicola with her 6/7. She was clearly the player of the tournament with a phenomenal rating performance of 1745 according to the pairing system Swiss perfect. Ten learners qualified for the encounter against South Africa. They are: Hange Tjingaete, Julian Isaak, Nicola Tjaronda, Melvin Indongo, Eric Namaseb, Calvin Eichab, Uukelo Titus, Dantago Boois, Lishen Mentile and Jack Tjaronda. Five reserves where also chosen, should any one of the ten qualifiers not make it. They are Mitch Nitzborn, James Indongo, Kiiga Angula, Paulinus Shilombuleni and Israel Shikongo. The Namibian team is ready to participate in South Africa and will be coached by national chess coach, Charles Eichab.

Pakistani Rape Victim: Update on Assiya Fighting Back

Prior post. I meant to post this last night but ran out of steam and opted for sleep instead. July 28, 2009, 1:15 pm — Updated: 1:15 pm --> An Update on Assiya By Nicholas Kristof After my Sunday column on Assiya Rafiq, the teenage girl who is trying to prosecute the police in Pakistan who raped her, an update. First, many, many of you donated money through Mercy Corps to the Mukhtar Mai fund (a total of $75,000 so far), and some of that was stipulated for Assiya. (The way to make the stipulation is in the comment screen toward the end of the checkout procedure.) Rest of update.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What Will Happen In Iran on Thursday?

Excerpted from The New York Times Reports of Prison Abuse and Deaths Anger Iranians By ROBERT F. WORTH Published: July 28, 2009 From Dubai, United Arab Emirates The prison abuses have also galvanized the opposition movement, whose leaders asked for permission to hold a mass mourning ceremony on Thursday in honor of those killed since the election. The Interior Ministry on Tuesday refused permission for the gathering, but the main opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi, said they would hold a public ceremony anyway, several Web sites reported. Thursday is a day of unusual symbolic importance because it will be 40 days since the shooting of Neda Agha-Soltan (see image above, from The, a young woman whose death during a demonstration was captured on video and ignited outrage across the globe. The 40th day marks an important Shiite mourning ritual; similar commemorations for dead protesters fueled the demonstrations that led to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Questions about the prison abuse have gained more importance in recent days, not only because of the opposition’s public protests but also because the stories have multiplied. One young man posted an account on Tuesday of his ordeal at the Kahrizak camp, which was ordered closed on Monday by Ayatollah Khamenei. "We were all standing so close to each other that no one could move,” he wrote in a narrative posted online. “The plainclothes guards came into the room and broke all the light bulbs, and in the pitch dark started beating us, whoever they could.” By morning, at least four detainees were dead, he added. In another account posted online, a former detainee describes being made to lie facedown on the floor of a police station bathroom, where an officer would step on his neck and force him to lick the toilet bowl as the officer cursed reformist politicians. A woman described having her hair pulled as interrogators demanded that she confess to having sex with political figures. When she was finally released, she was forced — like many others — to sign a paper saying she had never been mistreated. Mr. Moussavi spoke out Monday in unusually strong and angry terms, accusing the government of brutality and irreligion, and warning that its conduct toward the detainees could set off a much greater reaction. “They cannot turn this nation into a prison of 70 million people,” Mr. Moussavi said, adding later that “the more people they arrest, the more widespread the movement will become.” The prisoner release on Tuesday appeared to be the act of a government desperate to defuse the issue, coming just one day after the head of Iran’s judiciary promised that the detainees’ cases would be expedited. Government officials say that of at least 2,500 people arrested in the postelection crackdown, about 150 remain in prison. In announcing the release, Saeed Jalili, the secretary of the National Security Council of Iran, sounded a defensive note, saying that those still in jail “are people for whom there are documents stating they were in possession of firebombs and weapons, including firearms, and who had caused serious damage to public property.” But Mr. Mottahari, the lawmaker, said Tuesday that those responsible for the deaths of detainees must also be identified and punished. Others have gone further, saying the prison abuses suggest a government lurching dangerously out of control. “Those who have turned this society into a police state and have ordered the use of force have to be held accountable,” said Hamid-Reza Katouzian, a hard-line member of Parliament. “The police and the Ministry of Intelligence have told us that they are on the sidelines, and we do not know who is responsible or accountable.”
The Lede Blog at The New York Times had followed developments in Iran since the June 12, 2009 election, but has not followed events there every day. Some prior coverage of Iran at The New York Times: Iran Releases Protesters, but Still Holds 500 (July 9, 2009) After Four Years in Iranian Custody, a Queens Man Is Almost Home (August 11, 2008) Iran Executes 29 Convicts In One Day (July 28, 2008) Dissident's Tale Of Epic Escape From Iran's Vise (July 13, 2008) Thorough and nearly continual online coverage since the June 12, 2009 Iranian election has been provided by Nico Pitney on his Iran blog at the Huffington Post. Here is a post from yesterday - I read about this donation of thumb drives at - Nico Pitney's blog - last week: 2:24 PM ET -- Help Iranians get online: donate thumb drives. The Wall Street Journal spreads the word to its readers.

Lose This - Lose a Better Life

From The New York Times: Files Vanished, Young Chinese Lose the Future By SHARON LaFRANIERE Published: July 26, 2009 WUBU, China — For much of his education, Xue Longlong was silently accompanied from grade to grade, school to school, by a sealed Manila envelope stamped top secret. Stuffed inside were grades, test results, evaluations by fellow students and teachers, his Communist Party application and — most important for his job prospects — proof of his 2006 college degree. Everyone in China who has been to high school has such a file. The files are irreplaceable histories of achievement and failure, the starting point for potential employers, government officials and others judging an individual’s worth. Often keys to the future, they are locked tight in government, school or workplace cabinets to eliminate any chance they might vanish. But two years ago, Mr. Xue’s file did vanish. So did the files of at least 10 others, all 2006 college graduates with exemplary records, all from poor families living near this gritty north-central town on the wide banks of the Yellow River. With the Manila folders went their futures, they say. Local officials said the files were lost when state workers moved them from the first to the second floor of a government building. But the graduates say they believe officials stole the files and sold them to underachievers seeking new identities and better job prospects — a claim bolstered by a string of similar cases across China. Today, Mr. Xue, who had hoped to work at a state-owned oil company, sells real estate door to door, a step up from past jobs passing out leaflets and serving drinks at an Internet cafe. Wang Yong, who aspired to be a teacher or a bank officer, works odd jobs. Wang Jindong, who had a shot at a job at a state chemical firm, is a construction day laborer, earning less than $10 a day. “If you don’t have it, just forget it!” Wang Jindong, now 27, said of his file. “No matter how capable you are, they will not hire you. Their first reaction is that you are a crook.” Perhaps no group here is more vilified and mistrusted than China’s local officials, who shoulder much of the blame for corruption within the Communist Party. The party constantly vows to rein them in; in October, President Hu Jintao said a clean party was “a matter of life and death.” ... While not quite as important as in Communist China’s early days, when it was a powerful tool of social control, the file, called a dangan, is an absolute requirement for state employment and a means to bolster a candidate’s chances for some private-sector jobs, labor experts say. Because documents are collected over several years and signed by many people, they are virtually impossible to replicate. Rest of article.

Looking for the Queen in Alexandria

Nope, this is not an article about the lovely Chess Queen and current Women's World Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk :) This is about CLEOPATRA! (Image from this story at the Daily Mail Online, December 16, 2008) Article from the Global Arab Network: Alexandria - Looking for the Queen Edward Lewis Sunday, 26 July 2009 23:43 An archaeological mission taking place outside Alexandria could uncover the final resting place of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. As Edward Lewis reports, finding the tombs of history’s famous lovers could restore the reputation of ‘first city of the civilised world’ Exploring Alexandria’s past sometimes feels like a who’s who of ancient history. Starting with its founder, Alexander the Great, in 331BC and going on to include – among others – Ptolemy, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Cleopatra and the Roman emperor Augustus, the city was once the second largest and most influential in the Mediterranean, enjoying cultural diversity, enormous wealth and an unrivalled intellectual tradition. Within its boundaries it could boast the Pharos Lighthouse (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the Great Library and the tomb of Alexander the Great, in addition to numerous other exquisite sacred and public structures. The Roman historian Diodorus of Sicily described it as “the first city of the civilised world”. Today, the “Bride of the Mediterranean” (Arous el Bahr), as the city is affectionately known by Egyptians, gives little impression of the scale and splendour it once possessed. It lives in the shadows of Luxor, Aswan and Cairo, repeatedly a bystander as Egypt’s antique history has been unearthed. With the exception of some stunning recent underwater discoveries, archaeology has been obstructed by natural and man-made elements, including earthquakes, a rising water table and rapid urban development. But now, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities has released details of a mission taking place just outside Alexandria that could mark a remarkable change of fortunes for the city’s mute archaeological record. The Egyptian/Dominican Republic team aims to find the royal tombs of the Ptolemies – the Greek dynasty that ruled Egypt between 305BC and 30BC – including those of two of history’s most famous lovers, Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Goddess, queen, lover – Cleopatra has been immortalised through the works of historians (both ancient and contemporary), playwrights and film directors. The last of the Ptolemys, Cleopatra dedicated her life to retaining autonomy for Egypt while postponing the inevitable submission to Rome. Her love affairs and marriages, to Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, split the Roman Empire. Finding her tomb would place Alexandria on the archaeological map and rival anything previously discovered in Egypt. According to the Greek historian Plutarch, Mark Antony and Cleopatra were buried together in Egypt. Although neither a description of the tomb nor its location is recorded, according to Dr Said Altalhawy, the site director, and Dr Kathleen Martinez, the head of the mission, Taposiris Magna is a probable candidate. Situated on a spit of land between the Mediterranean and Lake Mariout some 45km west of Alexandria, Taposiris Magna was renowned in antiquity for its temple, founded in the third century BC and dedicated to the cult of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the underworld, and his wife Isis. The name means the “great house of Osiris”. “This is undoubtedly a funerary temple. It is a grand temple, a temple that linked the dead to another world,” explains Dr Altalhawy. “This is not a common archaeological site; it is a very important one.” Today, Taposiris Magna has been left behind as the surrounding area undergoes dramatic change. Vast Lego-like resorts line the coast. On the roadside near the temple, vendors sell watermelons, oblivious to the potential of what lies nearby. There are no signs or paths to the complex. Without specific directions or a knowledgeable driver, you could easily miss it. Yet it is precisely this isolation that has ensured Taposiris Magna’s preservation. After the modest archaeological discoveries of downtown Alexandria, the temple of Osiris is an impressive sight. Within its towering white brick walls, several structures are identifiable, ranging from Ptolemaic chambers to Byzantine chapels. Heads of columns lie on the temple floor and an intricate water system of narrow channels surround a small sacred lake. Scattered everywhere are the unmistakable shapes of amphora bases or handles sticking out of the sand alongside countless shards of sun-bleached pottery. “Everywhere we work, everywhere we dig we find something,” Dr Altalhawy says. One of the team’s most important discoveries is a temple dedicated to Isis, the Egyptian deity with whom Cleopatra is closely associated. That devotion to both Osiris and Isis is found within the same complex is, according to Dr Martinez, an example of “religious symbolism and a sacred union between Osiris and Isis; Osiris as Mark Antony and Isis as herself.” They also found coins depicting Cleopatra’s profile, further support, according to Dr Martinez, for the link between Goddess and queen. “After we saw Cleopatra’s face we knew the coins were important because we found them in the shrine of Isis where offerings to the gods were made.” Equally significant was a series of tunnels and chambers underneath the temple floor, which Dr Martinez strongly believes are tombs associated with a ruling elite. “We believe that it is inside the temple that we have the biggest possibility of finding a royal tomb. We have found a complex of tunnels and more than 10 chambers and shafts, some 25-30 metres deep that I believe will lead us to royalty.” Other striking finds include a fragment of a mask incorporating a cleft chin that bears a striking resemblance to Mark Antony, the head of a queen (thought to be that of Cleopatra) and a headless Ptolemaic statue. “Nothing we have found to date suggests this complex was an ordinary temple. They didn’t choose this area by chance,” adds Dr Altalhawy. Taposiris Magna, despite its size and obvious importance, was not even located in the regional capital. “We asked ourselves why is this temple here and not in the capital? It must have had an important function to be so isolated.” Whether or not the tombs of Cleopatra and Mark Antony are found, Taposiris Magna has yielded some remarkable discoveries, most significantly, a vast cemetery, some three kilometres square, that Dr Altalhawy believes is one of the biggest ancient cemeteries found in Egypt. Five metres under the topsoil, a tomb has been unveiled, the skeletons lying in the same position in which they were placed thousands of years ago. Each shaft is shared by a number of bones, some with their heads and feet missing, cut off by grave robbers eager to get hold of the valuable necklaces and anklets worn by the deceased. Surrounding the main chambers are shallow sarcophagi-shaped graves, no doubt created for the workers of the families who were often buried close to their masters. Most striking of all are two Ptolemaic mummies that lie side by side in a deep separate chamber. These mummies, and several others found, were once gilded, not only demonstrating the wealth of the occupants but also the importance of Osiris’s temple and its environs. This cemetery is similar to those at Giza and further south in Luxor, further suggesting that the complex houses royal tombs. “All the clues we have found leave me to the belief it is the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony,” enthuses Dr Martinez. The site is now closed for the summer, and the team will have to wait until at least January before they can continue the search for the resting place of Alexandria’s most venerated daughter. Global Arab Network This report appears in the National MAGAZINE, Copyright of Abu Dhabi Media Company.

Shira Chess Challenge: Portugal Day 2

Shira has posted a new video at You Tube! Fourteen photos Shira posted at her MobileMe Gallery from Day 1 at the orphanage. As you can see from the photos, the kids at the orphanage are all ages and all races. Training Update: Tonight I resigned my game with Soheil76. S76 had succeeded in promoting a pawn - I tried but failed to get mine moving despite sacrificing two (I had 4 going into the end game). S76 promoted to a Queen and promptly sucked up a pawn. My remaining pieces were misplaced, the Queen was ready to grab my remaining bishop and, frankly, I didn't want to waste any more time on that hopeless game. I may have been able to prolong things for a few more moves but I was outgunned and don't have the skills to pull some game-saving moves out of my hat (if there were any). Looking back, I'm actually amazed it lasted as long as it did! I would post the moves here, but unfortunately I do not have the ability to copy the moves from the review board - I believe it is because I have not subscribed to a premium membership at Red Hot Pawn. That really sucks! That means I have to write them down - and I ALWAYS make transcription errors so I don't bother to do that, it's a hopeless cause with my bad eyesight and developing old age dyslexia. Frog Breath has not moved in his or her game, but my new game with PC has started. Tonight I made my second move - I moved a knight out. Last time I did that - oh how painful it is to remember, yech! - I got slaughtered. But it still seemed a natural move to make, and so I made it. Data bases be damned! This is supposed to be fun, and I'm not going to kid myself into believing that I can turn from a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-patzer into a chess star :) LOL! Actually, I have been having some fun, so I'll suck it up and gird my ego and continue down my chosen path. TO MY CHESS DESTINY....OY! I've been thinking about dying my hair Flame Orange for my upcoming trip to Las Vegas. Wonder if I can find a pick-up game outside the Rio? I know money is tight, things are BAD out there in the real world. But I ask you to please consider donating to Computer Labs for Kids. Shira is doing good work, one kid at a time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Check It Out

Every week dondelion does a yeoman's job of putting together the latest edition of Axis Mundae at Goddesschess. I think you may particularly like this week's edition - I sure did! And - I've been working on updating Chess Femme News. Yes, I know - the never-ending story! LOL! There are some things there that you won't find here, but when I finish updating, everything you found here about women in chess will be found there. Gee, I wish there were about 10 of me! We've got a few things brewing - we'll let you know when we know. How does that song go - "If I had a million dollars, oh if I had a million dollars..."

A Chess History I Want!

Hint hint, Mr. Don. Remember that birthday that we're going to Las Vegas next month to celebrate? Yeah - that one - mine. LOL! Here's something I would absolutely love for a wee little gifty, besides your own sweet company, of course. Smooches darling! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX JanXena Available at Alibris Books (one of my favorite places to shop, darlings!) Chess the history of a game by Eales About this title: Not since Murray in 1913 has there been a seriously researched history of chess which is also readable. Eales concentrates on what can be identified through archaeological and written evidence. The key text for lovers of chess history.

Shira Chess Challenge: Update

Hola darlings! More news from Shira at the orphanage in Portugal: The Lessons Have Begun! Check out Shira's Day One video at You Tube. The kids are so cute! After successfully learning the parts of the Leapster, they each receive a Leapster of their own in a special ceremony. The final few seconds is very special - one of the older girls is showing a younger girl how to use the stylus. Here is Shira's Chesslabs for Kids' Facebook Cause site, where you can find the Day 1 Photo Album. Note - I got a script error message when I clicked on the Photo Album page, but after clicking on it a few times it went away and the photos showed up. I don't know if it's just this balky computer (it's practically an antique now, I got it in 2003). There are 14 of them, you can get a pretty good idea of the kids, the place where they are, and some of the caretakers. There are wee little babies, too. Training Update: I am in serious trouble in my end game with Soleil76. Crap! I am just so STOOPID sometimes. I overlook the most elementary moves that the other side can make to block all my best made plans. I have no strategic skills whatsoever. BIG SIGH. On a happier note, although I feel badly rejected by the no response from the third person I had earlier invited to a game (I conclude I wasn't enough of a challenge, heh!), I received a new invitation from another person who has been following the story here, at the blog! Yippee! So I am very happy to play, although this person will probably use me to wipe up the computer screen. Hey - practice is practice, right? LOL! My game with Frog Breath is totally out of my control. I just moved my Queenside rook (now I'm minus my Queen) to a center file in a bid to threaten suicide penetration. It seems we're in an end game and we didn't even get out of the beginning. I definitely think Frog Breath is Shirov. I think I may throw a little of my "Moro" at him and play something totally crazy. Well, on second thought, that won't work. I already play crazy as it is. Hmmm, back to the drawing board... Liz Vicary - do you read this blog? Can you HELP me??? You teach kids about chess. Surely you can take on a woman of a certain age (ahem) who has delusions of grandeur (me). Do I really need to study those blasted data bases Chessdaddy sent me??? Oh Goddess!

2009 Thracian Princess Open

Chessdom has a report on this event (love the name): Youth and experience in the 2009 Thracian Princes chess championship Open Women's Bulgarian Chess Championship, 25-31.07.2009 The report includes several photographs of some of the participants. Here are the current standings from the official website, after Round 4: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts 1 6 WIM Raeva Elitsa 2277 BUL 4,0 2 14 Vladimirova Maria 2102 BUL 3,5 3 10 WFM Videnova Iva 2288 BUL 3,0 4 1 WGM Chelushkina Irina 2357 SRB 3,0 5 4 WIM Bulmaga Irina 2277 MDA 3,0 6 7 WIM Dragomirescu Angela 2215 ROU 2,5 7 9 WFM Sgircea Silvia-Raluca 2199 ROU 2,5 8 13 Bednikova Stefi 2112 BUL 2,5 9 12 WIM Chilingirova Pavlina 2225 BUL 2,5 10 5 WGM Maksimovic Suzana 2255 SRB 2,5 11 2 WGM Voiska Margarita 2355 BUL 2,5 12 11 WFM Baciu Diana 2139 MDA 2,0 13 3 WGM Benderac Ana 2298 SRB 2,0 14 16 Stefanova Milena 2089 BUL 2,0 15 15 Sirkova Darena 2021 BUL 2,0 16 17 Krumova Ani 2035 BUL 2,0 17 21 Ivanova Simoneta 1979 BUL 2,0 18 23 Milutinovic Stefana 1716 SRB 2,0 19 24 Bulmaga Elena 1654 MDA 2,0 20 27 Lozanova Galabina 0 BUL 2,0 21 8 WIM Yordanova Svetla 2210 BUL 1,5 22 19 Kosturska Yoana 1946 BUL 1,0 23 22 Vasova Mariya 1886 BUL 1,0 24 18 Bocheva Margarita 1957 BUL 1,0 25 25 Shivacheva Donika 1935 BUL 1,0 26 20 Dimitrova Aseniya 1847 BUL 1,0 27 28 Valeva Ana 0 BUL 0,0 28 26 Avramova Maria 0 BUL 0,0

Sun Pyramid was Axis Mundi

An interesting article at Art Daily (July 27, 2009): Sun Pyramid was the axis mundi for Teotihuacan culture, a space from which celestial and underworld levels were accessed symbolically. The four directions of the universe parted from here as well, and this scheme was adopted later by Tolteca and Mexica societies when drafting their ceremonial centers. The later was informed by archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma during his participation at “Teotihuacan, identity and heritage of Mexico” master conference series, taking place in the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA) as part of the 70th anniversary of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) celebrations. For the INAH emeritus professor that collaborated with the Teotihuacan Project (1962-1964) and directed a special archaeological initiative there in the early 1990’s, there are several elements that confirm the sacredness of the Sun Pyramid. Rest of article.

2009 Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls

The event is underway - Round 1 was held yesterday afternoon. Round 2 is set to begin today at 1:30 p.m. on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. The girls will play one round each day with the final Round on Friday, July 31. There are 60 girls competing in this year's Invitational, the largest yet. Scholarships are at stake, including a full four-year scholarship to Texas Tech to a qualifying winner (see Rules and Regulations). You can follow the action at Susan Polgar's chess blog with links to posted games and lots of photographs. Good luck to all of the girls!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chess in Nagaland

This article is from KHE conducts Chess Coaching Camp (Photo:Resource person Er. Mhonlumo Kikon with the KHE officials and the participants poses for lens during the camp.) WOKHA, July 26 (MExN): The Kyong Hungjantaren Ekhung (KHE) Wokha, for the first time conducted a chess coaching camp as a part of its ‘capacity building programme’ with Er. Mhonlumo Kikon, former general secretary Nagaland Chess Association (NCA) as the resource person, who demonstrated live chess game through computerized example and distributed free materials and CDs at LMS school Wokha, Saturday 25 July. He stressed on the need to cultivate chess as a hobby as it develops the brain faster than any other games. Around 95 students ranging from standard V to college students from various schools and colleges and 13 school teachers attended the camp where they were given free chess boards. Earlier KHE Sports secretary Nzanbemo Jami chaired the function and LMS School proprietor, Yanren Tungoe pronounced the invocation prayer, while KHE Chairman Y.Likhao Humtsoe welcomed the guests and participants and encouraged them to cultivate chess as a vocation and gave the example of the renowned international Grand master Vishwanathan Anand. He also added that students who play chess has a higher IQ and perform better than other in their academic career. And he further said that this chess coaching camp will culminate into Wokha District chess competition and also stressed that the KHE will continue to cater to the needs of the present generation through games and sports to harness the hidden talents. Meanwhile the KHE has specially thanked all the schools/ colleges for participating wholeheartedly. KHE special thanks go to the resource person and his accomplice Er. Solomon Solo, proprietor LMS School, headmasters, principals, hostel wardens, parents and the students who attended the camp to make it a grand success. I had to check where Morung is. I'm still not exactly clear on this, but it seems to be a part of a "tribal area" in northeastern India, officially a part of India, but not really a part of India. I may be wrong about this, but the analogy that comes to mind is the American Indians with their separate independent tribal reservations within the United States, except this area in India is (are?) not sovereign nation(s) like recognized American Indian tribes are (under U.S. federal law). Readers, please educate me about this.

An Amazon Culture Withers As Food Dries Up

Article from The New York Times By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL Published: July 24, 2009 XINGU NATIONAL PARK, Brazil — As the naked, painted young men of the Kamayurá tribe prepare for the ritualized war games of a festival, they end their haunting fireside chant with a blowing sound — “whoosh, whoosh” — a symbolic attempt to eliminate the scent of fish so they will not be detected by enemies. For centuries, fish from jungle lakes and rivers have been a staple of the Kamayurá diet, the tribe’s primary source of protein. But fish smells are not a problem for the warriors anymore. Deforestation and, some scientists contend, global climate change are making the Amazon region drier and hotter, decimating fish stocks in this area and imperiling the Kamayurá’s very existence. Like other small indigenous cultures around the world with little money or capacity to move, they are struggling to adapt to the changes. “Us old monkeys can take the hunger, but the little ones suffer — they’re always asking for fish,” said Kotok, the tribe’s chief, who stood in front of a hut containing the tribe’s sacred flutes on a recent evening. He wore a white T-shirt over the tribe’s traditional dress, which is basically nothing. Chief Kotok, who like all of the Kamayurá people goes by only one name, said that men can now fish all night without a bite in streams where fish used to be abundant; they safely swim in lakes previously teeming with piranhas. Responsible for 3 wives, 24 children [obviously they don't practice birth control] and hundreds of other tribe members, he said his once-idyllic existence had turned into a kind of bad dream. “I’m stressed and anxious — this has all changed so quickly, and life has become very hard,” he said in Portuguese, speaking through an interpreter. “As a chief, I have to have vision and look down the road, but I don’t know what will happen to my children and grandchildren.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that up to 30 percent of animals and plants face an increased risk of extinction if global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in coming decades. But anthropologists also fear a wave of cultural extinction for dozens of small indigenous groups — the loss of their traditions, their arts, their languages. “In some places, people will have to move to preserve their culture,” said Gonzalo Oviedo, a senior adviser on social policy at the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland. “But some of those that are small and marginal will assimilate and disappear.” To make do without fish, Kamayurá children are eating ants on their traditional spongy flatbread, made from tropical cassava flour. “There aren’t as many around because the kids have eaten them,” Chief Kotok said of the ants. Sometimes members of the tribe kill monkeys for their meat, but, the chief said, “You have to eat 30 monkeys to fill your stomach.” Living deep in the forest with no transportation and little money, he noted, “We don’t have a way to go to the grocery store for rice and beans to supplement what is missing.” Tacuma, the tribe’s wizened senior shaman, said that the only threat he could remember rivaling climate change was a measles virus that arrived deep in the Amazon in 1954, killing more than 90 percent of the Kamayurá. Cultures threatened by climate change span the globe. They include rainforest residents like the Kamayurá who face dwindling food supplies; remote Arctic communities where the only roads were frozen rivers that are now flowing most of the year; and residents of low-lying islands whose land is threatened by rising seas. Many indigenous people depend intimately on the cycles of nature and have had to adapt to climate variations — a season of drought, for example, or a hurricane that kills animals. But worldwide, the change is large, rapid and inexorable, heading in only one direction: warmer. Eskimo settlements like Kivalina and Shishmaref in Alaska are “literally being washed away,” said Thomas Thornton, an anthropologist who studies the region, because the sea ice that long protected their shores is melting and the seas around are rising. Without that hard ice, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to hunt for seals, a mainstay of the traditional diet. Some Eskimo groups are suing polluters and developed nations, demanding compensation and help with adapting. Rest of article.

A Pakistani Rape Victim Fights Back

It is a very sick society that puts "shame" on a female and expects her to commit suicide or be killed by a male relative for being a victim of rape which, as we know, has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with sadism and machismo on the part of the male perpetrators of this vicious hate-filled crime against defenseless females. (Photo: By Nicholas D. Kristof, Assiya Rafiq, front, and her mother, Iqbal Mai, in the background.) Article from The New York Times Not a Victim, but a Hero By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Published: July 25, 2009 MEERWALA, Pakistan After being kidnapped at the age of 16 by a group of thugs and enduring a year of rapes and beatings, Assiya Rafiq was delivered to the police and thought her problems were over. Then, she said, four police officers took turns raping her. The next step for Assiya was obvious: She should commit suicide. That’s the customary escape in rural Pakistan for a raped woman, as the only way to cleanse the disgrace to her entire family. Instead, Assiya summoned the unimaginable courage to go public and fight back. She is seeking to prosecute both her kidnappers and the police, despite threats against her and her younger sisters. This is a kid who left me awed and biting my lip; this isn’t a tale of victimization but of valor, empowerment and uncommon heroism. “I decided to prosecute because I don’t want the same thing to happen to anybody else,” she said firmly. Assiya’s case offers a window into the quotidian corruption and injustice endured by impoverished Pakistanis — leading some to turn to militant Islam. “When I treat a rape victim, I always advise her not to go to the police,” said Dr. Shershah Syed, the president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Pakistan. “Because if she does, the police might just rape her again.” Yet Assiya is also a sign that change is coming. She says she was inspired by Mukhtar Mai, a young woman from this remote village of Meerwala who was gang raped in 2002 on the orders of a village council. Mukhtar prosecuted her attackers and used the compensation money to start a school. Mukhtar is my hero. Many Times readers who followed her story in past columns of mine have sent her donations through a fund at Mercy Corps, at, and Mukhtar has used the money to open schools, a legal aid program, an ambulance service, a women’s shelter, a telephone hotline — and to help Assiya fight her legal case. The United States has stood aloof from the ubiquitous injustices in Pakistan, and that’s one reason for cynicism about America here. I’m hoping the Obama administration will make clear that Americans stand shoulder to shoulder with heroines like Mukhtar and Assiya, and with an emerging civil society struggling for law and social justice. Assiya’s saga began a year ago when a woman who was a family friend sold her to two criminals who had family ties to prominent politicians. Assiya said the two men spent the next year beating and raping her. The men were implicated in a gold robbery, so they negotiated a deal with the police in the town of Kabirwala, near Khanewal: They handed over Assiya, along with a $625 bribe, in exchange for the police pinning the robbery on the girl. By Assiya’s account, which I found completely credible, four police officers, including a police chief, took turns beating and raping her — sometimes while she was tied up — over the next two weeks. A female constable obligingly stepped out whenever the men wanted access to Assiya. Assiya’s family members heard that she was in the police station, and a court granted their petition for her release and sent a bailiff to get her out. The police hid Assiya, she said, and briefly locked up her 10-year-old brother to bully the family into backing off. The bailiff accepted bribes from both the family and the police, but in the end he freed the girl. Assiya, driven by fury that overcame her shame, told her full story to the magistrate, who ordered a medical exam and an investigation. The medical report confirms that Assiya’s hymen had been broken and that she had abrasions all over her body. The morning I met Assiya, she said she had just received the latest in a series of threats from the police: Unless she withdraws her charges, they will arrest, rape or kill her — and her two beloved younger sisters. The family is in hiding. It has lost its livelihood and accumulated $2,500 in debts. Assiya’s two sisters and three brothers have had to drop out of school, and they will find it harder to marry because Assiya is considered “dishonored.” Most of her relatives tell Assiya that she must give in. But she tosses her head and insists that she will prosecute her attackers to spare other girls what she endured. (For readers who want to help, more information is available on my blog at: Assiya’s mother, Iqbal Mai, told me that in her despair, she at first had prayed that God should never give daughters to poor families. “But then I changed my mind,” she added, with a hint of pride challenging her fears. “God should give poor people daughters like Assiya who will fight.” Amen.
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