Saturday, September 26, 2009

2009 SPICE Cup - Norm Watch Update

This what U.S. players needed to do before Round 8 began in order to score norms (from Susan Polgar's blog):
  • IM Ben Finegold - He needs 1/2 point in 2 games to clinch his GM title. He will have White against FM Rensch in round 8 and Black against GM Perelshteyn in round 9.
  • IM Ray Robson - He needs to win both of his games to clinch his GM title. He will have White against GM Diamant in round 8 and Black against FM Rensch in round 9.
  • FM Danny Rensch - He needs 1 point in 2 games to clinch his IM title. He will have Black against IM Finegold in round 8 and White against IM Robson in round 9.
Here is where they stand after Round 8: IM Ben Finegold drew his game with FM Rensch. He has now earned his final GM norm and the GM title. Congratulations to IM Finegold, who really needs to change his eating habits and health regime - overweight and those dark circles around his eyes do not bode well. IM Ray Robson kept the dream for that final norm for a GM title alive by winning his game against GM Diamant. Robson needs to win Round 9 to earn that norm. A draw won't do it. FM Danny Rensch's hopes for his final IM norm are likewise still alive. With his draw against Finegold, he now needs to draw in Round 9 to clinch that norm and an IM title. Guess what - Robson and Rensch play each other in Round 9. WOW! High drama tomorrow!

40th Annual Badger Open Chess Tournament

40th Annual Badger Open Chess Tournament (A Wisconsin Tour Event) Oct 3 - Scholastic Section; Oct 3-4 for the Open and Reserve Section. Marriott Milwaukee West, W231 N1600 Corporate Drive, Waukesha, Wisconsin The 40th Annual Badger Open Chess Tournament will be held at the Marriott Milwaukee West on October 3rd and 4th. This tournament will offer a 2 day event on Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd and 4th with an Open and Reserve (U1400) section with individual cash awards. Like last year there will also be a 1 day Scholastic event on Saturday, October 3rd with 2 sections, K-4 and K-9, with both individual and team awards. Teams may consist of either school or club teams.All sections are USCF rated and require a current USCF membership to participate. This includes the 1 day Scholastic event. Open Section pre-registrations as of 9/20/09: Name Rating Veech, John 2031 Endsley, Barry E. 2000 Hoffman, Guy 1900 Liang, Yingming 1835 Coons, James J. 1810 Grochowski, A. 1754 Grochowski, R. 1735 Iyer, Venkat 1671 Liang, Awonder 1601 Pahl, Sandra R. 1527 Liang, Adream 1366 The information posted here is from the Southwest Chess Club blog, the Waukesha Chess Club website, and the Mill Valley Chess Team blog. I couldn't find the Badger Open listed in the Wisconsin TLAs at the USCF website. Okay - after having dug around online for quite awhile, I found the following further information at the Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Association website: 40th ANNUAL BADGER OPEN CHESS TOURNAMENT OCT. 3rd-4th OPEN TO ALL USCF PLAYERS. Two USCF Rated events at one location! LOCATION: MARRIOTT MILWAUKEE WEST W231 N1600 Corporate Court, Waukesha, WI 53186 Chess Hotel Room Rate of $85. Reserve Rooms Toll Free at 877-651-7666 (Until Oct. 1, mention "Badger Open") 4 SECTIONS: Open: 1st Place $250 (guaranteed); 2nd Place $150 (guaranteed). Balance of Prize Fund divided and based on the number of players in each class A-F. Reserve (U1400): Best D (U1400), E (U1200), F (U1000) Class. Scholastic K-4: Individual and Club or School Team Scholastic K-9: Individual and Club or School Team Scholastic Awards: Individual Trophies: 1st - 5th Place in K-4 and K-9; Medals to 6th - 15th Place in both Sections. Team Trophies: 1st-3rd Place Team in K-4 and K-9. ALL 4 SECTIONS ARE USCF RATED, YOU MUST BE USCF MEMBER TO PLAY, MEMBERSHIP CAN BE PURCHASED / RENEWED ONSITE (COME EARLY). The Badger Open main chess tournament is 2-day Wisconsin Chess Tour Event with two sections: Open and Reserve (Under 1400). Both will be a 5 Round Swiss with a G-120 Time Control. There is a $1200 Prize Fund, based on 50 players in the Open/Reserve Sections. 1st and 2nd Open Prize Guaranteed, A-F prizes are based on the number of players in each class - the more players in a particular class, the larger the prize fund for that class. For example, a large Class E group would mean more prize money in that class, allowing for 2nd or even a 3rd place prize. This system rewards those players who support the tournament by showing up to play, no matter what their rating might be. If more than 50 players show up, then the prize fund increases accordingly. There is also a 1-day Scholastic Only Tournament. This will be a 6 Round Swiss with a G-30 time control, and will be USCF Dual Rated (game results impacts both Regular and Quick Ratings), with a K-4 and K-9 Section. A Team Score will consist of the Top 2-4 players from the same school, OR chess club, added together. A team can have as few as 2 players, and as many as come, but only the Top 4 scores will count. Students can play in ANY Section. This is another great opportunity to build your USCF Rating by playing in the longer time-control Adult / Student Sections (Open & Reserve) or tune-up your chess tactics and skills in the 1 DAY Scholastic Only Section as the scholastic chess season begins. Flyer. Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Association members can register on-line. I sure wish it was easier to track down information for such events! I learned of this one entirely by accident while I was reading at the SWCC blog. It sounds like a great event, providing opporturnity for both scholastic and non-scholastic players. Some of Wisconsin's highest rated players will be playing in the Open section.

Friday, September 25, 2009

2009 SPICE Cup - Norm Watch Update

Wow! Well, I knew it would be a bust when I tried to snatch looks at the Antal-Robson game in progress today at the office. DID NOT WORK! Meh! I figured it would be an epic battle, as both players were in do or die situations as far as their norm hopes. After an exhausting game, the players agreed to a draw. That pushed Antal out of contention to score a GM norm, as he needed 3.0/3; the half point in Round 7 grounds any chance. Hope for Robson remains alive by a slim margin, however; he now needs to win his final two games to earn that third GM norm. Can he do it? How much pressure can a person take? How much pressure can a 14 year old person take? The result of Finegold's game was the first to be reported. He needed to score 1.0/3 for his final GM norm, and he moved toward that goal with a draw today against GM Andre Diamant. He now only needs 0.5 in his final 2 games to clinch his title. After Round 6, FM Rensch needed to score 1.5/3 for his third IM norm and title. He drew his game today with GM Bhat and so he needs to score 1.0 in his final 2 games. Stay tuned!

Rare Coins Discovered in England

I wonder if there would be merit to the U.S. enacting a national "treasure act" like Great Britain did. Would it work the same way that it seems to have worked in England - that is - encouraging people who find antiquities to turn them over to the government for official inquest, determination as "treasure trove" and then splitting proceeds with the land owner if the object(s) is purchased by a museum. Or would it work the other way - to encourage more looting of tribal lands, burial mounds, and ancient settlement sites? I don't know -- but this is certainly an interesting find, and it seems everyone will benefit: the finder, the land owner, and the public through the display of the rare coins at the museum that purchased them. Story from BBC News Rare coins find excites experts 25 September 2009 Four silver coins dating from Norman England have been found in Gloucestershire. It is believed they were minted in Gloucester in 1073-1076 and represent an unrecorded type of penny. The coins were found by a metal detector enthusiast but details of the site have not been revealed. Archaeologist Kurt Adams said the coins, which are just 0.8mm thick and about the size of a 10p piece, were incredibility rare. Treasure Act Reports of the coins are already exciting collectors because of their rarity, Mr Adams said. "Coins dating to the age of William I [William the Conqueror] are very rare finds, but these are unique," Mr Adams said. "The finder reported them to me and I have taken them in under the 1996 Treasure Act and reported the find to the coroner who will hold a Court of Inquest to prove they are treasure. "I'll then send the coins to the British Museum for examination. "If experts there decide they want the coins they have to be independently valued and the museum would have to find the money." "Half of that would go to the landowner and half to the finder.

Updated Family Tree of Confucius

I love this story! I had no idea Confucius' family tree even existed, let alone to 83 generations! Story from BBC News Confucian family tree 'triples' Friday, 25 September 2009 Two million people are now recognised as being descendants of the Chinese philosopher Confucius, more than tripling the number in the last count. The announcement was made as the fifth update to Confucius' family tree was unveiled on the 2,560th anniversary of his birth, say Chinese state media. Last updated in 1937, the book lists all 83 generations of descendents. For the first time women, ethnic minorities and descendants living overseas have been included. The 43,000-page document, spreading over 80 books, was unveiled at a ceremony in Confucius' home town of Qufu, said Xinhua news agency. It adds 1.4 million names to the family tree of Confucius, known in China as Kong Fuzi, and is believed by the authorities to be the world's largest. "Confucius' family tree is a national treasure," said Kong Deyong, a 77th generation descendant and head of the International Confucius Association. Mr Kong said the family tree was important not only for academic research, but also for "helping Confucius' descendants around the world discover their ancestors and strengthen family bonds". Confucianism has traditionally given women a lower status than men in its strict hierarchy, so female descendants were not counted, but genealogists announced in 2006 that they had decided to "move with the times". Mr Kong said that even if many descendants were not Chinese nationals or Han Chinese - the majority ethnic group in China - "we should count them in because we are one big family". Kong Dejun, a former university teacher who travelled from Switzerland for the ceremony, said being included in the book was "the most exciting moment in my life". "In terms of genes, Confucius' blood is flowing in our body," she told Xinhua, adding that the inclusion of women "shows Chinese females' status is improving". The new family tree cost 10m yuan ($1.4m; £1m) to produce, paid for by the descendants. Confucius was dismissed as bourgeois and a relic of China's feudal past by Mao Zedong during the 1960s Cultural Revolution. But Confucian thought has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years and the Chinese government has even funded a film of the philosopher's life, starring Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-Fat.

5,000 Year Old "Venus" Figurine Found

Only goes to show, you can't keep a good woman down! The one photograph with the story isn't very good, but you can see the white "Venus" figurine on the left, and the "seal" on the right, held by the man in the photograph. Story at todayszaman.con 5,000-year-old Venus figure found in Çanakkale 25 September 2009, Friday A 5,000-year-old Venus figure has been found as part of an excavation being carried out in Çanakkale's Ezine district. The excavation began in the field three weeks ago in cooperation with Germany's University of Tübingen. Assistant Professor Rüstem Aslan, who is vice head of the excavation, told the Anatolia news agency that the aim of the dig is to find settlements outside Troy from the Bronze Age. Some interesting findings have been unearthed during the excavation, Aslan said. “We found a 5,000-year-old Venus figure, which used to represent woman at the time, as well as a seal with which people used to mark their belongings in prehistoric ages. Such a seal is a rare piece. In addition to these items, we also found stone axes, well-processed and embellished pots and spindle-whorls, which were used for spinning wool.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Navrati Celebration at Assam’s Kamakhya Temple for Kumari Puja

From Thaindian News Devotees throng Assam’s Kamakhya temple for Kumari Puja September 24th, 2009 - 11:40 pm ICT by ANI Guwahati, Sep 24 (ANI): Hundreds of devotees thronged revered Kamakhya temple in Assam state on Thursday for Kumari Puja organised during Hindu festival of Navratri, in which young girls are worshipped. Kumari Puja is held at the Kamakhya temple every year prior to Durga Puja celebrations that began on Saturday and end on “Navami” (the ninth day of the Navratri festival). The tradition is as old as that of the origin of Kamakhya temple. It is believed that the Goddess, although omnipresent, surely exists in the virgin. Reverence to female children as goddesses is an age-old custom of India. The Kamakhya temple situated in Guwahati, main city of Assam, on the banks of river Brahmaputra, is dedicated to goddess Kamakhya, consort of Shiva, Hindu God of destruction. It is believed that at Kamakhya, the Goddess appears in the form of a virgin. So some of the pilgrims worship the living virgin as Goddess in this temple. Worship of a living woman as Goddess is of purely Tantric origin. It is stated that virgin worship is nothing but Shakti worship. The virgin worship is performed along with Durga, Kali and other Mahavidyas. The salutation mantra of virgin worship is the same as vidya’s salutation mantra. Sometimes, it is also seen that the virgin is fed and clad and saluted without any mantra. The tantrics believe that the virgin is the Goddess incarnate. “Her name is not Kamakhya but Kamakshi. People come here as their wishes are fulfilled here and that’s why we have come all the way from Bihar,” said Chandreshwar Pathak, a devotee from eastern Bihar. (ANI)

Treasure Trove - England!

From AP/Associated Press via Yahoo News Huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure uncovered in UK By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press Writer Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 39 mins ago PHOTO SLIDESHOW!!! LONDON – It's an unprecedented find that could revolutionize ideas about medieval England's Germanic rulers: An amateur treasure-hunter searching a farmer's field with a metal detector unearthed a huge collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver artifacts. The discovery sent a thrill through Britain's archaeological community, which said Thursday that it offers new insight into the world of the Anglo-Saxons, who ruled England from the fifth century until the 1066 Norman invasion and whose cultural influence is still felt throughout the English-speaking world. "This is just a fantastic find completely out of the blue," Roger Bland, who managed the cache's excavation, told The Associated Press. "It will make us rethink the Dark Ages." The treasure trove includes intricately designed helmet crests embossed with a frieze of running animals, enamel-studded sword fittings and a checkerboard piece inlaid with garnets and gold. One gold band bore a biblical inscription in Latin calling on God to drive away the bearer's enemies. The Anglo-Saxons were a group of Germanic tribes who invaded England starting in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire. Their artisans made striking objects out of gold and enamel, and their language, Old English, is a precursor of modern English. The cache of gold and silver pieces was discovered in what was once Mercia, one of five main Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and is thought to date to between 675 and 725. Rest of article.

Chess Femme News

A few updates - haven't had time to put these on the Chess Femmes News website, maybe this weekend. I hope you enjoy these: From the Young chess whiz wins tournament By Jane Bokun • • September 23, 2009 Emmie Wysywany and her coach are taking the game of chess to a whole new level. Chess whiz Emmie, 10, represented Louisiana recently at the National Chess Tournament in Lubbock, Texas. When the smoke cleared, Wysywany won the state title. "I love playing," she said. Following eight days of concentrated chess, Wysywany won three games but lost the final games. The competition included adults representing all 50 states. The daughter of Ken and Jill Wysywany is not the only one in her family to star at chess tournaments. Siblings Alexandra, Francis and Anna also play the game. The family even has a chess coach named Tommy Beckham, who works with the children on a daily basis and drives from Greenwood to do it. Rest of article. From The New York Times Chinese Women Remind the World of Their Prowess By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN Published: September 19, 2009 Sometimes when a champion emerges from a country that is not known for its chess, it can presage a new power in the game. when Xie Jun of China won the Women’s World Chess Championship in 1991, it was not clear if she was an anomaly. Any doubts have long since been put to rest: China is a world power in chess, particularly among women. China has produced three world champions — Xie, Zhu Chen in 2001-4 and Xu Yuhua from 2006-8 — and has four of the world’s top 20 players. China reaffirmed its status at the Women’s World Team Championship in Yingbo, China, Sept. 2-11. It fielded two squads in the 10-team competition, and its A team edged out Russia and Ukraine for the title after an unusual finish. Rest of article. (Note: There is, or was, some controversy about whether the last match-game may have been thrown so that China could/would win the title. I don't know enough about chess to be able to express an opinion as to that.)

2009 SPICE Cup

I usually don't report on tournaments where just chess dudes are playing, but because this is a Polgar/SPICE event, I'm making an exception! Polgar and SPICE (in conjunction with Texas Tech University) have worked practically 24/7 and have done a tremendous job of putting together world-class chess events and bringing lots of excitement to U.S. chess through the SPICE Cup and other SPICE-sponsored tournaments - in just two years. It's amazing to me how quickly I, one of the audience, have gotten used to seeing Polgar put on these quality events, and it seems like it's been a long time, but it's only been a little over two years since Polgar first made the announcement of the formation of SPICE at Texas Tech in the Spring, 2007 commencement address which she gave to that graduating class. This Tournament's B Group action is exciting, I have to say! It looks like IM Ben Feingold has a good chance to score his final GM norm - he has only to get 1 out 3 points! And 14-year old IM Ray Robson is still technically alive to scoring his final GM norm too, although he faces a much greater task than Feingold. Robson needs to score 2.5 out of 3. Can he do it? Oh my! Other norms are still possible too - here is the complete breakdown courtesy of Susan Polgar's chess blog: B group 1. IM Finegold 5.0 (needs 1/3 for GM norm and title) 2-3. GM Bhat, GM Perelshteyn 4.0 4. Robson 3.5 (needs 2.5/3 for GM norm and title) 5. IM Antal 3.0 (needs 3/3 for GM norm and title) 6-8. IM Papp, IM Kuljasevic, FM Rensch (needs 1.5/3 for IM norm and title) 2.5 9. GM Diamant 2.0 10. IM Ippolito 1.0 Of course, there is lots of fabulous chess taking place among the players in the A Group, too (what is wrong with Akobian? I do not think he is outclassed by the competition - does he have the flu or something?) - but you know, I always love an underdog and with American players vying for norms, call me sentimental - I'm rooting for them all the way! There has been something of an "explosion" of American-born chessplayers earning GM and IM titles the past couple of years - it is a very exciting time in American chess. Of course, I would like to see more chess femmes participating in the mix. Could Abby Marshall (first female to win the Denker) be our first home-grown GM? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When Was the Great Pyramid Started?

New research claims an exact start date for the construction of the Great Pyramid: August 23, 2470 BCE. Exact Date Pinned to Great Pyramid's Construction? Andrew Bossone in Cairo for National Geographic News September 21, 2009 The Egyptians started building the Great Pyramid of Giza on August 23, 2470 B.C., according to controversial new research that attempts to place an exact date on the start of the ancient construction project. A team of Egyptian researchers arrived at the date based on calculations of historical appearances of the star Sothis—today called Sirius. Every year around the time of the Nile River floods, Sothis would rise in the early morning sky after a long absence. "The appearance of this star indicates the beginning of an inundation period" for the Nile, said team leader Abdel-Halim Nur El-Din, former head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. Throughout their history, "Egyptians … started their main buildings, the tombs, and the temples at the beginning of the inundation"—an auspicious time, since floodwaters brought fresh soil, maintaining the region's fertility. In addition, pharaohs always started building their tombs at the starts of their rules. Khufu, the pharaoh meant to be buried in the Great Pyramid, took power in 2470 B.C., according to Nur El-Din and colleagues. The researchers therefore compared the modern calendar, the ancient Egyptian calendar, and the cycle of the star to find the exact day Sothis would have appeared that year. The team believes the ancient Egyptians observed the star from July 17 to 19, and the inundation period began 35 days later—on August 23. Rest of article.

"Trojan" Couple Buried Together

Hmmm, let's see what the carbon-dating says - and what happened to the 'lower parts' of their bodies? What's missing, exactly? I could not tell from the photographs. Archaeologists find suspected Trojan war-era couple Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:14pm EDT ANKARA (Reuters) - Archaeologists in the ancient city of Troy in Turkey have found the remains of a man and a woman believed to have died in 1,200 B.C., the time of the legendary war chronicled by Homer, a leading German professor said on Tuesday. Ernst Pernicka, a University of Tubingen professor of archaeometry who is leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey, said the bodies were found near a defense line within the city built in the late Bronze age. The discovery could add to evidence that Troy's lower area was bigger in the late Bronze Age than previously thought, changing scholars' perceptions about the city of the "Iliad." "If the remains are confirmed to be from 1,200 B.C. it would coincide with the Trojan war period. These people were buried near a mote. We are conducting radiocarbon testing, but the finding is electrifying," Pernicka told Reuters in a telephone interview. Ancient Troy, located in the northwest of modern-day Turkey at the mouth of the Dardanelles not far south of Istanbul, was unearthed in the 1870s by Heinrich Schliemann, the German entrepreneur and pioneering archaeologist who discovered the steep and windy city described by Homer. Pernicka said pottery found near the bodies, which had their lower parts missing, was confirmed to be from 1,200 BC, but added the couple could have been buried 400 years later in a burial site in what archaeologists call Troy VI or Troy VII, different layers of ruins at Troy. Tens of thousands of visitors flock every year to the ruins of Troy, where a huge replica of the famous wooden horse stands along with an array of excavated ruins. (Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Moutai Prince Cup China National Chess King/Queen Championships

September 17 - 25, 2009 Eight Chinese men and eight Chinese women compete for money and titles. The men are only playing each other, as are the women. Here are the chess femmes: 1 Hou Yifan g CHN 2585 1994 2 Zhao Xue g CHN 2542 1985 3 Ruan Lufei wg 2486 1987 4 Xu Yuhua g 2485 1976 5 Shen Yang wg 2453 1989 6 Ju Wenjun 2443 1991 7 Tan Zhongyi 2435 1991 8 Huang Qian wg 2424 1986 Rank after Round 6 Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 1 GM Hou Yifan CHN 2585 4,5 0,5 13,25 3 2 Ju Wenjun CHN 2443 4,5 0,5 12,50 3 3 GM Zhao Xue CHN 2542 3,5 0,0 7,25 3 4 Tan Zhongyi CHN 2435 3,0 0,0 7,50 1 5 GM Xu Yuhua CHN 2485 2,5 0,0 7,50 0 6 WGM Shen Yang CHN 2453 2,0 1,5 4,25 1 7 WGM Huang Qian CHN 2424 2,0 1,0 5,75 0 8 WGM Ruan Lufei CHN 2486 2,0 0,5 6,00 0

InventiChess 2009

GM Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria and IM Anna Muzychuk are playing in the Invitational (website). Here are the standings after Round 5: 1. IGM E. Sutovsky 4.0 2. IGM E. Bacrot 3.5 3. IM A. Muzychuk 3.0 3. IGM G. Sargissian 3.0 4. IGM K. Sasikiran 2.5 4. IGM B. Socko 2.5 4. IGM A. Stefanova 2.5 5. IM B. Michiels 2.0 6. IGM J. Timman 1.5 7. IGM D. Howell 0.5

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

'Princess' Treasure to Go on Display

Kirkleatham Museum to display jewels from Cleveland grave of Anglo-Saxon princess By Culture24 Staff Published: 21 September 2009 Five "high-status" female graves and one sword burial lie in the Street House cemetery, located in farmland in East Cleveland An "unparalleled" hoard of gold jewellery found next to the body of an Anglo-Saxon princess in a secret Teesside Royal burial field will be revealed to the public with a £275,000 Lottery-funded display. The precious haul of fine pieces were placed in the grave on a decorated wooden bed in the second half of the seventh century, and are thought to have belonged to members of the Northumbrian royal family. It will go on show at The Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar, alongside a new Anglo-Saxon gallery including a reconstruction of the burial, a touring exhibition and learning programmes. "This is the only discovery of this kind and of this calibre in the North East and it is really important that we keep the pieces here for local residents and visitors to come and admire," said Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North-East. "These rare finds are a spectacular insight into the lives of the people who lived in the region long ago. The jewellery will provide an excellent learning tool and thrilling museum exhibition." Alan Pearce, Museums Curator for Kirkleatham Museum, said he was "absolutely delighted" with the cash award. "It recognises the quality of the objects and the unique story of a princess and her royal bed burial in East Cleveland," he added, announcing plans to open the exhibition by Easter 2011. "We can now conserve and research the jewels and create a stunning exhibition to enable everyone to appreciate and get close to them." Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism Councillor Sheelagh Clarke praised the HLF for helping the Council to create "a really exhilarating attraction." "I know they are as excited as we are about these finds," she said. "It just shows what a rich and varied cultural heritage we have in East Cleveland." Referenced venues Kirkleatham Museum Kirkleatham, Redcar, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, TS10 5NW, England

Be Surprised By How Much Difference You Can Make!

GM Susan Polgar and GM Alexandra Kosteniuk are co-chairs of the FIDE Women's Chess Committee (they will hold their chairs through the 2010 FIDE elections). Yesterday (September 21, 2009), GM Kosteniuk posted at her blog that the FIDE 80th Annual Congress will be held in the period from October 11th to 18th in Kallithea, Halkidiki, Greece. During this time, the Women's Chess Committee will meet. This Committee is not light-weight! Almost all of the participants are famous titled female chessplayers with years of international playing experience under their belts. They know the ins and outs of playing professional competitive chess against males and females over many years - they've seen it all: [Co-chairs: GM Susan Polgar and GM Alexandra Kosteniuk] Secretary IM Martha Baquero Fierro Ecuador Councilor 1 GM Xie Jun China (former Women's World Champion) Councilor 2 GM Maya Chiburdanidze Georgia (former Women's World Champion) Member 1 GM Antoaneta Stefanova Bulgaria (former Women's World Champion) Member 2 GM Xu Yuhua China (former Women's World Champion) Member 3 GM Zhu Chen Qatar (former Women's World Champion) Member 4 GM Nona Gaprindashvili Georgia (former Women's World Champion) Member 5 Mrs Franca Dapiran Italy GM Kosteniuk asked for suggestions and recommendations to present to the Committee, and several people responded. I put in my two cents' worth, too. I liked what I wrote so much (hey, I'm an egotistical Leo, what can I say?), I'm posting it here, too: In countries where the culture encourages equality between females and males, we can encourage more girls and women to play chess by offering separate prizes for the females who play in mixed events. While I enjoy reading about and looking at the games in female-only chess events because they are gender-neutral, women playing against other women is a velvet trap ratings wise. The way to advance one's ELO is to play against and eventually prevail against higher-rated players. When the best players in the world are ranked 2760 and above (all men), one must bite the bullet and mix it up with the guys. The best female player in the world today has dropped below 2700; and the top range of other female players is below 2600: 1 Polgar, Judit g HUN 2687 0 1976 2 Koneru, Humpy g IND 2595 25 1987 3 Hou, Yifan g CHN 2585 9 1994 4 Zhao, Xue g CHN 2542 8 1985 5 Kosintseva, Tatiana m RUS 2536 11 1986 Rating alone may not be a true representation of one's relative playing strength, but it is what is looked at by everyone as a measure of success. Until women are encouraged through prizes and other incentives to play A LOT OF chess against males, as a whole females will not escape the ELO ghetto that they stay in by playing against each other and, I think, as a consequence, may continue to subconsciously consider themselves as second-class players. I'm working with others to encourage more girls and women to participate in small to medium sized local and regional tournaments. We do this by offering prizes for the female players. We have had success. This has encouraged us to put more money into local events. Start local and go global. Players like GM Kosteniuk, GM Susan Polgar, IM Jennifer Shahade, and many others are working tirelessly to promote the game of chess for females. We need all of these efforts, and more! And we need support. Stop schmoozing about it and start doing something about it! Get out and volunteer to teach chess to little ones. Start a program at a local library. Put your money where your mouth is - contribute to local programs that promote chess literacy. Contribute to organizations such as 9Queens and the Susan Polgar Foundation that support female chess initiatives. Got $100? Fund some prizes for chess femmes at a local chess tournament, and then work to publicize that event as much as possible. That's what we do - and let me tell you - it works! THOSE THINGS are just a few of what you can do to make a difference. Chessplayers are really cool people. Put your coolness to good use: do a little mentoring; publicize promotional efforts and chess femme results on blogs and websites; engage in outreach. It's as easy as starting a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the bus or standing in line at Starbucks :) People aren’t put off by chess – they are intrigued by it, and sometimes slightly frightened because they think you have to be a ‘genius’ to learn to play. You can show them otherwise. Enthusiasm is contagious. GM Kosteniuk has given everyone at the Hales Corners Chess Challenge X (Milwaukee, Wisconsin October 17, 2009) a big boost by providing, without charge, books, CDs and DVDs to hand out to chess femmes who participate in the tournament! GM Susan Polgar is donating her time without charge to determine the winner of the 2009 Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award in the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship (she also did this in 2008). You don't get if you don't ask! So get out there and start doing, and ask – you’ll be amazed at what can happen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Updates to the Look/Feel of this Blog

Sorry that I haven't been posting much of late. It's been an exhausting summer and particularly the last three weeks. Oy! Rewarding as all get out, but exhausting, darlings, that's no lie. Now, there is lots of end-of-season yard work to perform, besides the usual rush during the weekend to get laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping done, plus investment club stuff plus taking care of a TON of Goddesschess business. Whew! Sometime yesterday, I have no clear recollection of exactly when, which is somewhat disturbing, hmmm... I started reading Dan Brown's latest, and after I slogged through a slow start of 100 pages or so it's now getting rather gripping, I must say :) Certainly makes the hour bus ride to and from the office go much faster, but the damn book weighs a ton and slows me down, and I don't need any help these days to be slow, thank you very much (NOT), Dan Brown. Ach! Today I did some modest updates to the blog:
  • I added an important link to Sacred Threads with original essays by Tracy Boyd, who has been doing research on the goddess and related subjects even longer than we have, and we're passed ten years now online. Please check out Ms. Boyd's essays, they are very finely wrought, completely annotated, utterly absorbing and written in 'plain English' and not high-falutin' academia language that no one understands, not even the author. While we Goddesschess folks were plugging away at that old Art Bell message board on our particular topic "IS CHESS THE GAME OF THE GODDESS?" way back in December, 1998, Ms. Boyd was doing her own goddess-related research. Those Art Bell posts became The Goddesschess Weave and formed the basis for the beginning of our website, Goddesschess. Meanwhile Ms. Boyd was creating her own wonderful Weave. We highly recommend Ms. Boyd's essays, which will provide a depth of information on the goddess and ancient traditions that we have discovered complements perfectly much that we have discovered and written about at Goddesschess.
  • Our list of sponsorships was getting a bit long and long in the tooth, so I cut it off at 2009's sponsorships. Goddesschess is now maintaining a list of our sponsorships, more or less current :)
  • I also added a banner created by Mr. Don celebrating our sponsorship of the 2009 Fighting Chess Award for the U.S. Women's Chess Championship. I love the symbolism that Mr. Don has incorporated into this banner. There are the wings, of course, which are emblematic of the winged goddesses of old and also of the United States' sacred symbol of the bald eagle. Wings represent freedom, but also the search for, striving for and ultimately the achievement of enlightment as the winged body strains ever higher toward the Heavens. There is the glistening Pearl of Wisdom/Pearl Without Price in the center, which also represents each of the female participants in the 2009 Championship. The pearl in the center also represents many sacred moon goddesses; and if you shift perspective just slightly, that orb becomes a glistening sun symbol, representative of the rarest and oldest of all mother goddesses - the Sun goddess (who, in later times, became the 'Mother of the Sun.') The blue color represents both the color of the sky and the Heavens and also the 'mare' -- the sea, to which many moon goddesses are closely allied. That 'sea' color, that gorgeous blue, is reflected in semi-official national anthems of the USA: God Bless America and America (the Beautiful), as well as in the blue field of America's star-spangled banner. By the way, those stars represent goddesses :) But don't tell anyone.

Okay, that's it for the night. "The Lost Symbol" is calling my name. My middle name seems to be synchronicity these days, and isn't it just a pip that we should meet up with Tracy Boyd AND Mr. Don creates that lovely banner for the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship AND I should happen to have started Dan Brown's absolutely symbolic-laden tome -- all at the same time.

And it all makes perfect sense. But I tell you darlings, I sure wish I'd stop dreaming about chess - and then waking up at 2 AM and tossing and turning thinking about that last stupid move I made - all the rest of the night. The bags under my eyes now have bags of their own. It's not a pretty sight, and make-up does NOT cover them. Arggggghhhhh!

Oh Goddess, please either make me a real good player real fast, or let me just forget all about it, okay? I can't take this! I do not think you wish to kill off this faithful servant yet - well, unless I did something that really got you P.O.d? But then, join the crowd!

Southwest Chess Club: Cool Autumn Breezes Blowing Swiss

This Thursday, September 24, a new tournament starts at the Southwest Chess Club. The Cool Autumn Breezes Blowing Swiss is a two section, four round tournament with games on September 24 and October 1, 8 and 15 (7 PM start time each night). Time Control is Game in 100 minutes. See details below. Start time 7:00 p.m. this Thursday. Registration is 6:30-6:55 p.m. Registration closes at 6:55 sharp, and if you arrive after first-round pairings are prepared, you will have to take a 1/2-point bye in the first round. However, if you want to play but anticipate being a few minutes late, please e-mail Tom Fogec at:, or call Tom (414-425-6742) prior to 5:00 p.m. on September 24, so he can include you in the pairings. If you need a first round, half point bye please let Tom know as soon as possible. Location: St. James Catholic Church, 7219 S. 27th Street , Franklin , WI 53132 Tom Fogec Tournament Director 414-425-6742 Cool Autumn Breezes Blowing Swiss: September 24 & October 1, 8, & 15 4-Round Swiss in Two Sections (Open and Under 1600). Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5. (One ½-Point Bye Available for any round (except round four) if requested at least 2-days prior to round). TD is Fogec; ATD is Grochowski.

Mysterious Ruins May Explain Maya Exodus

From USA Today Mysterious ruins may help explain Mayan collapse ('9/21/2009 2:53 AM')) 17h 52m ago By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY Ringing two abandoned pyramids are nine palaces "frozen in time" that may help unravel the mystery of the ancient Maya, reports an archaeological team. Hidden in the hilly jungle, the ancient site of Kiuic (KIE-yuk) was one of dozens of ancient Maya centers abandoned in the Puuc region of Mexico's Yucatan about 10 centuries ago. The latest discoveries from the site may capture the moment of departure. "The people just walked away and left everything in place," says archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson Miss., co-director of the Labna-Kiuic Regional Archaeological Project. "Until now, we had little evidence from the actual moment of abandonment, it's a frozen moment in time." The ancient, or "classic" Maya were part of a Central American civilization best known for stepped pyramids, beautiful carvings and murals and the widespread abandonment of cities around 900 A.D. in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador. They headed for the northern Yucatan, where Spanish conquistadors met their descendants in the 1500s (6 million modern Maya still live in Central America today). Past work by the team, led by Bey and Tomas Gallareta of Mexico's National Institute of Archaeology and History, shows the Maya had inhabited the Puuc region since 500 B.C. So why they headed for the coast with their brethren is just part of the mystery of the Maya collapse. New clues may come from Kiuic, where the archaeologists explored two pyramids and, most intriguingly, plantation palaces on the ridges ringing the center. Of particular interst: a hilltop complex nicknamed "Stairway to Heaven" by Gallareta (that's "Escalera al Cieloa" for Spanish-speaking Led Zeppelin fans) because of a long staircase leading from Kiuic to a central plaza nearly a mile away. Rest of article.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Does Dionysus' Birth Myth Reveal Ancient Knowledge?

I've no idea what to make of this -- is this plausible? Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-09-20 [03] Dionysus myth a clue to ancient neonatal care? Ancient Greeks may have had considerable knowledge about how to care for premature babies, according to an analysis presented on Sunday during the 15th Hellenic Conference on Perinatal Medicine taking place in Thessaloniki. This was posted by doctors from Agios Savvas oncological hospital in Athens, working in collaboration with private colleagues in Hania. In an essay entitled "Mythological description of an incubator", the doctors say that the description given in ancient myths of the birth of the god Dionysus and how he was cared for very closely approximates the requirements for an incubator used in modern hospitals. According to some versions of the myth, Dionysus was born prematurely in the eighth month of pregnancy and had a low birth weight. He was carried by the god Hermes to Mount Nysa and delivered into the care of the Hyades, the nymphs of warm rain, that placed him in a cave having all the requirements of an incubator - an air filter, double lining and protection from draughts. The ancient myth-makers did not, of course, describe technological appliances or fixtures but rather natural items that appear to serve an equivalent purpose. The 'air filter' is a stand of pines planted by the Hyades at the entrance of the cave, the 'double lining' is formed by the branches of a virgin vine and the small god is protected from draughts by a covering of thick-leaved ivy. Combined, these served to maintain a warm and slightly moist - in other words thermically neutral - environment for the newborn. The above is all in the realm of myth and may only indicate a flight of the imagination by some bolder story-teller of antiquity, rather than evidence that the ancients knew how to care for premature babies. According to the doctors, however, it would be a strange coincidence if the makers of the myth had hit upon the requirements needed without this knowledge having arisen from some specific experience or practice of the time. Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of an ancient sculpture depicting the god Dionysus.

Goddess Reunion Has Political Undertones

From Sea Goddesses in north Taiwan have a reunion TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Twenty-one goddesses of the seas, or Matsu, in north Taiwan had a reunion at the February 28 Memorial Park in the heart of Taipei, yesterday. One of the Matsus was enshrined there in 1888 by Liu Ming-chuan, the first governor of Taiwan. The other 20 are her avatars. Mayor of Taipei Hau Lung-pin was joined by his counterpart in Keelung Chang Tung-yung in a reunion ceremony this morning. Images of Matsu came from all over north Taiwan for the reunion. The goddess of the seas at Guandu in suburban Taipei did not take part in the reunion. The temple Governor Liu founded was torn down to make the New Park by the Japanese colonial government, with the image of Matsu removed to Sanchih near Tamsui. The park was given the present title in memory of the February 28 Incident of 1947. Tens of thousands of innocent people were massacred by government troops sent from China in March 1947 to suppress the spontaneous riots across Taiwan. Hau and Chang begged for blessings from all the goddesses of the seas for the people of north Taiwan. ************************************************************************************* Learn more about this goddess: Wikipedia
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