Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 Montreal Open Chess Championship

It's been confirmed - WGM/IM Salome Melia (GEO 2441) will be appearing at the 89th Championship of Montreal -- Montreal Open Chess Championship! Goddesschess is happy to have had a part in making this possible by providing financial support, in addition to funding Class Prizes just for the chess femmes! (Photo: Melia, 12/23/08, Photos by Mothilal Guptha) As I understand it, this is the first time a WGM will be appearing at this historic Montreal chess tournament. Here is a current list of the chess femmes pre-registered for the Tournament (out of 150 pre-registered entrants), which will take place September 11 - 13, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec: # Name Section Rating 3 Melia, Salome A 2441 56 Wang, Kelly B 1580 67 Lei, Mei Chen C 1516 81 Ma, Indy C 1371 94 Trottier, Claire C 1202 97 Shi, Ling Yun C 1165 99 Bilodeau-Savaria, Cendrina C 1109 102 Paquette, Esther C 992 109 Gao, Christine D 1117 112 Brichko, Kate D 1054 115 Dubois, Lorraine D 989 116 Gao, Catherine D 971 120 Dormeus, Sandy D 850 The top-finishing female player will be awarded the title "Female Champion of Montreal," resurrecting a proud tradition from the early years of the Tournament. The organizers are hoping for a record turn-out this year. Can they do it??? We are particularly eager for more chess femmes to sign up and play in the Tournament. Please come out and try for one of the Chess Femme Class Prizes and a chance at earning the title "Female Champion of Montreal." Information at Monroi. List of players/biographies (grouped by Classes A, B, C and D).
Added 8/23/09 - information from Bernard Quimet:
Zahira El Ghaby from Morocco [will be playing in the Tournament.] She now lives in Beaumont (Quebec) and she remembers her ELO rating back when she lived in Morocco to be “about 2050”.

Vacation: The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

One of my favorite hotels in Las Vegas is the Venetian. It is so beautiful - perfectly proportioned in relation to its surroundings. I don't have to walk half a mile under the burning Las Vegas sun just to get to the entrance of the casino/hotel/shops and it's not right on top of the Strip, either. These photographs were all taken from various angels at the Venetian - great views! Great spaces! Interesting architecture and the design successfully evokes 15th century Venice through the lens of 20th-21st century technology. This photo looks out across one end of the "lagoon" toward Steve Wynn's original Las Vegas gamble - The Mirage Hotel. Yesterday morning as Mr. Don and I were leaving out hotel on the shuttle to the airport at 6:00 a.m., the sun was just hitting the gold panelling on The Mirage and it was a blinding sight, indeed! Across the street and just a little way down (or is that up?) the Strip from the Venetian is the ever-growing and now totally overwhelming Caesar's Palace, some of which can be seen in this photo to the right of the Venetian's bell tower. Alas, Caesar's has passed from kitschy to grotesque. I remember the Caesar's of 1980 when Linda Musil, one of my old high school chums, and I travelled to Las Vegas for the very first time and I won a $75 jackpot on a quarter slot machine! That was in the old old days when machines still spewed out actual cash and bells and whistles went off and you needed the large plastic containers to haul away your winnings! Goddess, that was fun! Linda and I were staying at the Flamingo at the time, which also still exists - although that 1980 hotel complex is also long gone. Alas, so is that Casesar's Palace of my fond memories, never to return. While today the gardens at Caesar's are lovely (as they currently exist - they may be gone next month or next year, who knows?), I think Caesar's has gotten too big to be adequately managed. But - back to the Venetian -- I believe its location on the Las Vegas strip is the best of all the current hotels. It is in the center of everything! Here is a photo looking in the opposite direction from the two photos above. Here you can seen one part of the Treasure Island Hotel complex. Alas, Mr. Don and I were not able to visit Treasure Island - and if the shows in the lagoon are still going on, we missed all of them, despite being on the Strip at all different times of the day and evening. I wonder if due to cost cuts the four-times-a-day battles between the Pirates and the British Navy are still taking place? I hope they are, but we never saw so much as a hint of crowds piling up on the "rope" styled walkway next to TI's lagoon area where the battle took place in prior years. But the ships are still there - so maybe our timing was just bad. I must give a plug to the shops at Caesar's Palace - I love window-shopping there. I think Caesar's has the best mix of high-end and not-so-high-end shops. Alas, we did not get to visit the shops there this trip. I do hope that by the time of our next visit to Las Vegas, whenever that may be, that the shops there have not transformed themselves into cookie-cutter imitations of the high end (and very empty, totally devoid of customers) shops that I saw at Encore, the Wynn, and the Palazzo (other than Bauman Rare Books - tres cool store). Here are a couple of photos of architectural details from the Venetian. One is a close-up of a facade; one is a shot taken from an inner outdoor gallery that is pleasantly shaded from that scorching sun - I swear the temperature is a good 20 degrees cooler in the deep shade of that walkway. While there, I could well imagine being transported back in time to an equally scorching Italian sun being down on Venice, and being equally thankful for the deep shade of that covered terrace as I moved from the Las Vegas Strip or the Via Venicia along a busy canal toward my ultimate destination (an air-conditioned casino). What I found fascinating is that the "Moorish" details of some of the building elements were faithfully reproduced - for instance, in the form of the arches and their openings, while the "four-leaf clover" of the earlier Romanesque architectural period were also present. The different column-tops were also fascinating -- not sure what they're called in architectural language. There was also an abundance of dart-and-egg detailing, serpentine shaped columnal decorations and enough tile-work to no doubt pave a walk-way from Las Vegas to New York City! Goddess symbols also abounded, but one has to hunt for them a little bit :) I cannot help but wonder if the designers who put this complex together were really focusing on all of these details, or if it was just lucky happenstance that it all came together "just so." Perhaps it doesn't matter, as long as the final result was so wonderful. I love lingering at the Venetian.

Vacation: The Palazzo and Bauman Rare Books

It's back to the grind, but I'm still in vacation mode! There's so much chess news to review and posts to catch-up on, but I said to heck with that after I spent a couple of hours chopping through the front lawn that had grown several inches from the last cut I did - that had to have been a week ago Wednesday or Thursday (the day a generator blew and the office lost power). Whew! Even though it's cool and overcast here today (thank Goddess!) it was a lot of work. I'm sure I gained 5 pounds in LV too, and I was huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf trying to blow down the houses of the Three Little Piggies. It's time for serious salad meals and 30 minute high intensity dance sessions to get back to where I was. Sigh. Here are a few photos from the Palazzo, which is right next store to the Venetian. The hotels, casinos and shops of each are connected by a covered logia with "people movers" which shields visitors from the worst of the Las Vegas sun and gives fantastic views over that part of the Las Vegas Strip. There is a very large atrium that connects the Palazzo casino to the Palazzo shops, and it is spectacular. They are a little hard to see -- there are slender ribbons of water pouring from the ceiling all the way to the pool far below -- it's at least four stories tall although visitors can only advance to the second story. The opened umbrellas are strategically located and their handles intermittently glow with lazer light to a complicated rythym as the "rain" falls. The first two photographs were taken from the second floor area overlooking the atrium toward the casino below. As you can guess, the ground floor area in front of the wall of water (third photograph) is a popular spot for photographs! The Palazzo is the home of Bauman Rare Books (three locations in the US) and Mr. Don and I made a point to visit -- first because we love books of all sorts and second, just to see what they had and what they were all about. On the day of our arrival I'd caught sight of the huge Palazzo electronic display on a side of the hotel as our shuttle was stopped at a red light enroute from the airport to our hotel - and an "ad" for Baumans popped up. It caught my attention and I mentioned it to Mr. Don but the light turned green and we sped away before the "ad" cycled round again, so he didn't see it. Somehow, rare books and Las Vegas don't go together -- so we wanted to find out more. Our visit to Baumans was lovely! Not only are the staff well informed and helpful, they were not adverse to chatting away with up pleasantly for our entire visit, which lasted perhaps 40 minutes. Mr. Don disappeared with the Manager for awhile behind some door or other and was taken to a special library which he raved about later on over dinner, while I had an excellent conversation with a young lady who was very knowledgeable about a number of different books I looked at, including a limited edition three-volume set on British royalty and some books on Native Americans by 19th century ethnologists (no Culin, though). Until we visited the Las Vegas location, I'd had no idea Bauman's existed! They have a site in Manhattan on Madison Avenue and we must have passed within a few blocks of its location several times during our May visit to that great city. The next time we visit New York we will make a point of visiting. Alas, it didn't even occur to me to ask permission to take a few photos - I do not know if Mr. Don obtained any either - we were too busy chattering away and oohing and aahing over the various books offered for sale and engaging in refreshingly erudite conversations with informed persons! Goddess, I know that sounds awfully snobbish, but darlings, honestly, you have no idea what it's like out there sometimes, trying to carry on conversations with people who are more attuned to Yogi Berra than Yogi Maharishi (that's a joke). Alas, it is true - Mr. Don and I are horrid bores! Sometimes I bore myself! The Bauman staff were not at all off-put by our going on and on about chess history,collections, ancient board games and, in my case, a few rare stone-carved gameboards of North American Indians. Clever people - at the very least, clever enough to engage us in conversation about what we love best :) LOL! Lovely people - a lovely store. If you're in Vegas and want to make a great investment if you hit it big on the Wheel of Fortune or the craps tables, consider buying a limited edition or rare book at Baumans. You will be treated like a Queen - or a King (and rare books retain their value very well, whatever the stock market and craps tables are doing). A quick search at Baumans website under "chess" yielded these gems (not exhaustive list): “ONE OF THE STANDARD OPENING BOOKS OF THE TIME”: CHESS-PLAYER’S MANUAL, 1902 GOSSIP, G.H.D. and LIPSCHÜTZ, S. The Chess-Player's Manual. Philadelphia:, 1902. Second revised edition of this compendium of chess openings, profusely illustrated with explanatory diagrams. $1600. “THE FIRST ORIGINAL AMERICAN BOOK ON THE GAME OF CHESS”: THE ELEMENTS OF CHESS, 1805, IN ORIGINAL BOARDS (PHILIDOR, François). Elements of Chess. Boston, 1805. First edition of the second chess book printed in the United States, the first written by an American, in original boards. $1500. STUDIES OF CHESS, 1810, INCLUDING PHILIDOR’S LANDMARK ANALYSIS OF THE GAME OF CHESS, IN CONTEMPORARY BINDING (PHILIDOR, A.S.) (PRATT, Peter). Studies of Chess. London, 1810. Two volumes. Second edition of this early 19th-century English anthology of chess writings. $950. “THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOK ON THE MODERN GAME” KENNY, W.S. Analysis of the Game of Chess. London, 1819. 1819 English translation of Philidor’s L’Analyze du jeu des échecs, with engraved frontispiece portrait of Philidor and illustrative chess diagrams, in original boards. $850. RUSSIAN CHESS CHAMPION GARRY KASPAROV’S FIRST BOOK, SIGNED BY HIM KASPAROV, Garry. Russian Test of Time. Baku, 1985. First edition of the Russian chess champion’s first book, a combination of game analysis and autobiography, signed by Kasparov in Cyrillic on the title page and dated 12/03/2006. $450. CHESS CHAMPION GARRY KASPAROV’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, SIGNED BY HIM KASPAROV, Garry and TRELFORD, Donald. Unlimited Challenge. New York, 1990. First American edition of the Russian chess champion’s autobiography, signed by Kasparov on the title page and dated 04.02.2004. $350. ANAND, Vishy and NUNN, John. My Best Games of Chess. London, 1998. First edition of the Indian chess master’s analysis of his games, inscribed on the title page: “All the best, V Anand, 8-7-05.” $250. “IF YOU DO NOT MISS ANYTHING, YOU CAN ACHIEVE VERY GOOD RESULTS” KRAMNIK, Vladimir and DAMSKY, Iakov. Kramnik: My Life and Games. London, 2003. Later edition, signed by Kramnik in Cyrillic on the title page. $200. “VICTORY”: INSCRIBED BY VISHY ANAND ANAND, Vishy and NUNN, John. My Best Games of Chess. London, 2001. Expanded “World Champion” edition of the Indian chess master’s analysis of his games, inscribed on the title page: “Victory, V Anand.” $200. So, you see, Baumans offers books of interest to chessplayers, chessophiles and chess historians in every price range. Goddess, it's a good thing I didn't happen across any of these volumes during our visit to the Las Vegas location. I LOVE Vishy Anand!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Southwest Chess Club: Updates

We're back home from vacation and it's time to catch up and take care of business. Thanks to Tom Fogec of SWCC for the following news and results of the Club's 2009 Championship. Tom reported that a record 48 players participated in this year's Championship, including 9 chess femmes (hooray!): Club Championship: 1st: John Becker 2nd: John Veech 3rd: Jerry Zhou 4th: Allen Becker Class A/B (combined): 1st: Johnathan Ireland 2nd: Andrew Grochowski 3rd: Corrado Cirrilo 4th: Robin Grochowski 5th: Jeff Pokorski 6th: Tom Fogec Class C: 1st: Robert Penkwitz 2nd: Steve Richardson 3rd: Jonathan Hildeman Class D: 1st: Vilas Gaddameedi 2nd: Peter Joachim 3rd: Alena Huang Class E: 1st: Reid Seghers 2nd: Justin Luebbe 3rd: Curt Neumann Under 1000/unrated: 1st: Sabrina Huang 2nd: Jacob Glumm 3rd: Nathan Brower 4th: James Jester 5th: Ravina Sachdev 6th: Charles Lippert You can find further news and results, including a cross-table, at the Club's blog. SWCC is busy! Upcoming events: Dog Days of Summer Dance August 27, & September 3 & 10 3-Round “Round-Robin” (a “Quad”). Four chess players to a Quad. Game/90 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5. TD is Grochowski; ATD is Fogec Southwest Chess Club versus Waukesha on August 29 at ProHealth Care Park, 2950 South Sunny Slope Road, New Berlin (event will be held outdoors, weather permitting) First Round game starts at 10:00 a.m. Each person will play two games (G/60) against an opponent, one with the white pieces and one with the black pieces. We will be providing drinks and snacks also. Colored Leaves Rattle-the-Pawns Blitz: September 17 10-Round (Round-Robin) in One or more Sections (depending on number of players). Game/5 minutes. USCF Quick-Rated. EF: $5. TD is Becker; ATD is Grochowski SWCC membership is only $10 a year. If you live in the area (or even if you don't), please consider joining the Southwest Chess Club and supporting a great group of chessplayers!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Las Vegas Pics

I'm working on the 8 inch Acer netbook in Las Vegas so I'm not sure how the spread between the pictures will turn out. These are more photos at the Wynn. The building in the first photo is actually the Encore, a companion property to the Wynn. The Wynn was built in part upon the site of the former Desert Inn, a hotel I remember fondly from my first visit to Las Vegas in 1980. When Mr. Don and I visited in November, 2003, the Desert Inn had been closed and had been used in a - I believe - Jackie Chan (or was it a James Bond?) movie - and spectacular special effects showed explosions coming out of some of the windows evidently. By the time we'd arrived, the filming was over, but the evidence of the "explosures" was plain to see on the skin of the old Desert Inn Hotel - scorch marks all over the place! Shortly after we left Las Vegas that year, the Desert Inn fell to the wrecking ball. It was a sad day for many Las Vegans, as an original part of the "old" city disappeared to the gigantic Wynn complex.


Some Las Vegas pics. Here is a photo of our hotel room on arrival day, Mr. Don is hard at work at the table. The next photos were taken at the Wynn yesterday morning. They don't do justice to the beautiful waterfalls and small lake/lagoon surrounded by lush greenery and artificial rock outcroppings. It's all fake, but it is lovely and it's fun. While we've been here, Las Vegas has been reaching record-breaking temperatures - figures! Yesterday 106 F; today, 108F. Tomorrow perhaps 109F, but we're flying home tomorrow early morning, thank Goddess! I love the feel of Las Vegas and we've had a great time here visiting Isis and Michelle and celebrating my 39th (ahem) birthday, but the heat is overwhelming; even short walks from casino to shops to casino to restaurant, etc., can be quite overwhelming!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


JanXena and dondelion are officially on vacation -- as of yesterday. Posts will be sparse or non-existent, until probably Saturday August 22. I AM keeping up with my chess games, however. I will take along to Las Vegas my Acer netbook that did such fine duty while we were in New York in May :) -- just so I can continue to play. I'm losing three of those four games but it really has been quite educational. My game with Chess Daddy is in early days; at this point no way to tell how it will go. I'm trying not to fall into that mental trap "he's got an actual rating and therefore he will smush me like a bug on a windshield". Maybe it's the weather front that is coming through, tossing thousands of twigs on my trees around like pick-up sticks (I get to do all of the pick-up) -- the humidity is slowly (ever so S-L-O-W-L-Y) lowering and even though I am not taking a nap like dondelion has (since about 4:30 p.m., with no end in sight) I am feeling re-energized. Yeah, baby! This is one of my favorite pics. (I'm sure I've written about it before). It was taken on top of Mount Royal (Montreal) in October, 2002. I look pregnant - I wasn't - trust me on that! I did have a lot of stuff in my pockets and that distorted the line of that jacket -- which I wear to this very day. A stranger, the dad of the little kid hanging out on the ledge/wall to the left of donelion, obligingly took this pic with dondelion's camera. Later that night, dondelion and I left from Montreal enroute to Madrid. It was a happy time, and also a very sad time. The trip to Madrid had been planned to visit Ricardo and Carmen Calvo, but Ricardo passed away on September 16, 2002. I haven't written much about it. Even after all this time, I still tear up thinking about it. The time isn't yet here where I can write about that trip with the proper perspective. Someday we will go back. Suffice to say, I think that dondelion is as handsome as ever, and he doesn't seem to mind all my myriad imperfections - or the fact that I've gone away from my natural red-head hair color and these days sport a suitable "Xena, Warrior Princess" nearly black hair color. Hmmmm, does that mean something serious???
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