Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hales Corners Chess Challenge X!

I'm having issues downloading photos that Allen Becker emailed to me. Here are two from the SWCC blog. Top photo is Nicole Niemi v. Anthony Parker in R3. Bottom photo is Joanna Huang v. Ryan Thomas on Board 2 (front of table) and I believe Alena Huang v. Steve Etzel same table but toward the wall (Alena had black in the final round).

Hales Corners Chess Challenge X!

The final count is in: 75 players participating. This is down from the record 107 players who participated in Challenge IX in April. The recession is taking a hard toll on Challenge X. There are two women playing in the Open section (42 players): Nicole Niemi (winner of a Goddesschess prize in Challenge IX) and Sandra Pahl (winner of a Goddesschess prize in Challenge IX, playing in the Reserve section). According to information from SWCC, there are six chess femmes playing in the Reserve section (33 players). Here are their standings after R1: Open: 18. Nicol Niemi 1854 B 39 (W 7 R2 match-up) 1.0 40. Sandra R. Pahl 1527 B 19 (W 26 R2 match-up) 0.0 Not surprising, as her opponent outranked her by more than 300 points. Reserve: 8. Huang, Joanna 1383 B 25 (W 15 R2 match-up) 1.0 12. Ulrich, Rachel J 1351 B 29 (W 21 R2 match-up) 1.0 14. Huang, Alena 1320 B 31 (W 7 R2 match-up) 1.0 27. Schneider, Claudia 656 W 10 (B 5 R2 match-up) 0.0 (Claudia's first match was against Adream Liang, rated 1366) 30. Ilchenko, Isabella 590 B 13 (W 17 R2 match-up) 0.0 (Isabella's first match was against Shi Tinglin, rated 1210) I am missing a chess femme from the reserve section -- name, please? I will report results as they become available. UPDATE 3:55 P.M.: I can't locate results for R2, but I received this brief email report from Allen Becker on R3: I watched Nicole nearly defeat Anthony Parker (a very strong expert) in Round 2, and took some photos (I can send later). She ended up drawing. In the Reserve section, the Huang sisters are moving up the charts, now on Boards 2 and 3 in Round 3, with an eye on 1st place! UPDATE 8:20 P.M. - after R3: Open: 21. Niemi, Nicole (18)............ WI 1854 W19 D10 L8 1.5 42. Pahl, Sandra R (40)........... WI 1527 L27 L29 L32 0.0 Reserve: 2. Huang, Alena (14)............. WI 1320 W26 W9 W10 3.0 3. Huang, Joanna (8)............. WI 1383 W32 W13 D4 2.5 4. Ulrich, Rachel J (12)......... IL 1351 W33 W16 D3 2.5 23. Schneider, Claudia (27)....... WI 656 L18 L8 W29 1.0 25. Ilchenko, Isabella (30)....... WI 590 L12 W31 L9 1.0 32. Khunger, Simran (25).......... WI 872 L3 L28 -U- 0.0

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Chessbase presents photographs from Round 9 and the closing party featuring, of course, gorgeous chess femmes and some rather - well - let's just say some chess guys. Photo caption: The ladies applaud the announcement that there will be a repeat in 2010. Really? Was an announcement made at the awards ceremony about the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis hosting the 2010 USWCC? This was obviously a different event because the ladies have different outfits on from what they wore in the party party party photos. You can see Betsy Dynako's photographs of the event at the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship at the official website. Updated 3:16 p.m. October 17, 2009: It is confirmed from the USCF website (Chess Life Online) that the 2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship will, indeed, be played at the same venue as in 2009. Hooray!

Friday, October 16, 2009

New FIDE Undertakings to Promote Women's Chess

I just saw this at GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog. She is co-chairperson of the FIDE Women's Commission along with GM Susan Polgar. Two proposals submitted by GM Kosteniuk have been approved by the FIDE Presidential Board: KOSTENIUK CAISSA AWARD PROPOSAL From the Co-Chair of the Fide Commission For Women's Chess Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk: FIDE CAISSA AWARD The CAISSA AWARD will be awarded annually, every year in the Spring to the best female player of the preceding year. The voting will consist of 2 stages. The first phase: Any women chess player, rated above 2300 ELO, who played more than 10 rated games in the previous year (for example 2009), can apply to get this award, by sending her application to with cc to: "WOM Fierro Martha" before February 10 of the voting year (for example 2010). She should indicate her best results of the previous year (for example 2009) and number of rated games and exact results of each tournament played. The second phase: Out of the valid received applications, candidates shall be proposed by the members of the FIDE women’s commission based on a voting system (each member of the women's commission can suggest up to three candidates, with the 1st place getting 5 points, 2nd place getting 3 points and the third place getting 1 point, by email to with cc to: "WOM Fierro Martha" ) . The winner will be the player who gets the greatest number of points. The co-chairmen will count the number of points for each candidate and will propose the winner to the PB before the 1st quarter Presidential Board of each year. The PB shall review the results, decide in case of a tie, and after the result is known, the winner of the Caissa award is to be notified and announced officially by FIDE. The decision of the PB will be final. The winner is awarded with the FIDE CAISSA AWARD (for example 2010) and thus named the best female player of the year (for example 2009). Prizes: Grand Prize: 1,000 euros and a statuette. (The prize comes out of the FIDE Commission on Women's Chess) Winners may receive additional prizes if sponsors come forward. Winners must sign an affidavit and license and will be responsible for paying any taxes they may owe on the prize. KOSTENIUK GOLDEN ORGANIZER PROPOSAL From the Co-Chair of the Fide Commission For Women's Chess Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk: PROPOSAL FOR NEW YEARLY FIDE GOLDEN WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER AWARD. The organizers of tournaments with any time control and any system (except the official FIDE tournaments such as the World Championships, Chess Olympiads and so on) that have been held at least 3 times before the voting year with 10 or more female chess players took part in the tournament of the voting year can apply to get this award. In order to receive this award the organizers should send an application with the following information: 1. Name, place, dates and rules of the tournament. 2. Number of female participants that took part in the event. 3. Number and quantity of prizes for the female participants and other financial conditions. RULES FOR FIDE GOLDEN WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER AWARD 2010. Submission should be sent to with cc to:"WOM Fierro Martha" starting from January 1, 2010 until February 20, 2010, about qualifying tournaments that took place in 2009. By submitting an entry, each contestant agrees to the rules of the contest. Who may enter: The organizers of the tournaments with any time control and system (except the official FIDE tournaments such as the World Championships, Chess Olympiads, etc.) that have been held at least 3 times before and including 2009 with 10 or more female chess players took part in the tournament can apply to get this award. Entry deadline: All entries must be received by February 20, 2010. Judging: The winner shall be proposed by the members of the FIDE women’s commission to the FIDE Presidential Board based on a voting majority system. The name of the winner shall be announced by PB of FIDE on the 1st quarter Presidential Board of each year. The decision of the PB will be final. The winner will be notified and awarded with the FIDE GOLDEN WOMEN’S TOURNAMENT ORGANIZER AWARD 2010. The organizer of this event will receive a prize of 1,000 euros (from the budget of the FIDE comission on women's chess) which he/she should use for increasing the prize fund for women chess players in his/her next tournaments.
As I understand it, players who meet the requirements can submit applications for 2009 events for the Caissa Award and 2009 organized events that meet the requirements will be eligible for the Golden Women's Tournament Organizer Award to be awarded in 2010. Please read the entire post for further information at GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog.
I wonder if Susan Polgar's tournaments for girls (open and invitational) might qualify? Not sure about the US Women's national CC as that may fall under the FIDE exception. Also not sure about the Kasparov event for girls held every year. Would state qualification championships for girls qualify? What about the U.S. Women's Open?
I hope the end result will be that more organizers put together tournaments for female players.

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

I imagine everyone who was involved with the US Women's Chess Championship, from the players, to the organizers, to the commentators, to the cleaning crew at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis were exhausted by the time the championship proceedings finally wound down and everyone (except the cleaning crew) went home (party party from the closing party by Betsy Dynako who was also at the party as she was taking all of these photographs....Irina and Iryna in hot party party party... And you thought chess was just for nerds? Oh Goddess!) It took a few days (and perhaps some Alka-Seltzer and bloody marys to ease those aching heads, LOL!) - but the final Round 9 Championship Chronicle is up and running at the official site for the USWCC. I've been waiting for this with baited breath, Chris Bird! Well, actually, that's not fair - as I see CB dated the Final Chronicle October 14th, and it was posted at 21:55 hours yesterday October 15th (let's see - 21:55 minus 12:00 = 9:55 p.m.? Past my bedtime :)) However, I KNOW I visited at least a couple of times earlier today and I sure didn't see it - and I even hit refresh several times, just in case. Still didn't see it. Hmmm... What I really want to know is which games won the brilliancy prizes sponsored by 9 Queens? DRAT! I don't see a word about that. Inquiring minds want to know. Perhaps the judges are having a hard time narrowing down their picks? By the way, I saw at today that Zatonskih had a performance rating of 2817 in this USWCC. That PR speaks for itself, most eloquently. On a different note, please scroll down and take a look at the photos on page 7 by Suzy Gorman - ohmygoddess! The players are gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. I found each and every one of the ladies stunningly beautiful and I love the set-up of them romping with large chess pieces. My favorite photo is of Baginskaite, with Zatonskih's photo a close second. The images aren't jpgs so I can't figure out how to reproduce them here - I'll have to ask Mr. Don if he can do something. In the meantime, enjoy the photo of Irina and Iryna, above, just two of the lovely ladies who played in the 2009 USWCC.

2009 European Club Club (Women's)

Performance by points (all players on the women's teams): Final Ranking after 7 Rounds No. Name Rtg Team Pts. Games % Bo. Rp 1 GM Lahno Kateryna 2483 Spartak Vidnoe 5,5 6 91,7 3 2772 2 GM Koneru Humpy 2595 Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo 5,0 6 83,3 1 2714 3 IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2493 Spartak Vidnoe 5,0 7 71,4 2 2563 4 IM Skripchenko Almira 2448 Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo 4,5 5 90,0 4 2586 5 IM Kosintseva Tatiana 2536 Spartak Vidnoe 4,5 6 75,0 1 2663 6 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2527 Spartak Vidnoe 4,5 6 75,0 1 2638 7 IM Peptan Corina-Isabela 2387 CS Cotnari-Politehnica Iasi 4,5 6 75,0 2 2562 8 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2436 T-com Podgorica 4,5 6 75,0 3 2514 9 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2472 Samaia Tbilisi 4,5 7 64,3 1 2534 10 IM Danielian Elina 2489 Mika Yerevan 4,0 6 66,7 1 2636 11 IM Dembo Yelena 2482 CS Cotnari-Politehnica Iasi 4,0 6 66,7 1 2567 12 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2516 Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo 4,0 6 66,7 1 2514 13 IM Cmilyte Viktorija 2477 T-com Podgorica 4,0 6 66,7 2 2519 14 IM Muzychuk Anna 2533 Economist-SGSEU Saratov 4,0 7 57,1 1 2533 15 IM Ushenina Anna 2474 Economist-SGSEU Saratov 4,0 7 57,1 3 2430 16 GM Chiburdanidze Maia 2506 Samaia Tbilisi 3,5 6 58,3 1 2567 17 WGM Zawadzka Jolanta 2414 Polonia Votum Wroclaw 3,5 6 58,3 2 2514 18 IM Khukhashvili Sopiko 2451 Samaia Tbilisi 3,5 6 58,3 3 2437 19 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2482 Economist-SGSEU Saratov 3,5 6 58,3 4 2452 20 WGM Benderac Ana 2276 Radnicki Rudovci 3,5 6 58,3 4 2384 21 WGM Motoc Alina 2316 CS Cotnari-Politehnica Iasi 3,0 5 60,0 3 2388 22 IM Rajlich Iweta 2465 Polonia Votum Wroclaw 3,0 6 50,0 1 2501 23 IM Gaponenko Inna 2438 BAS Beograd 3,0 6 50,0 1 2460 24 GM Cramling Pia 2535 Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo 3,0 6 50,0 2 2407 25 WGM Stojanovic Andjelija 2323 BAS Beograd 3,0 6 50,0 3 2282 26 WGM Iljushina Olga 2364 Economist-SGSEU Saratov 3,0 7 42,9 2 2383 27 IM Harika Dronavalli 2474 Mika Yerevan 2,5 6 41,7 2 2397 28 IM Vasilevich Tatjana 2423 BAS Beograd 2,5 6 41,7 2 2288 29 WIM Szczepkowska-Horowska Karina 2321 Polonia Votum Wroclaw 2,5 6 41,7 3 2375 30 IM Khurtsidze Nino 2420 Mika Yerevan 2,5 6 41,7 3 2365 31 IM Melia Salome 2432 Samaia Tbilisi 2,0 4 50,0 4 2379 32 IM Lomineishvili Maia 2378 Samaia Tbilisi 2,0 5 40,0 2 2367 33 GM Socko Monika 2476 Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo 2,0 5 40,0 3 2283 34 WGM Chelushkina Irina 2333 Radnicki Rudovci 2,0 6 33,3 1 2357 35 GM Hoang Thanh Trang 2501 T-com Podgorica 2,0 6 33,3 1 2318 36 IM Foisor Cristina-Adela 2433 Radnicki Rudovci 2,0 6 33,3 2 2297 37 WGM Krupa Monika 2219 Polonia Votum Wroclaw 2,0 6 33,3 4 2292 38 IM Ovod Evgenija 2447 Spartak Vidnoe 1,5 3 50,0 4 2348 39 IM Maric Alisa 2405 T-com Podgorica 1,5 5 30,0 3 2251 40 WFM Steil-Antoni Fiona 2152 Vandoeuvre Echecs 1,5 6 25,0 2 2241 41 IM Petrenko Svetlana 2260 Radnicki Rudovci 1,5 6 25,0 3 2191 42 WGM Galojan Lilit 2326 Mika Yerevan 1,5 6 25,0 4 2166 43 WGM Kursova Maria 2295 Economist-SGSEU Saratov 1,0 1 100,0 4 0 44 WGM Vojinovic Jovana 2359 T-com Podgorica 1,0 1 100,0 4 0 45 WGM Paulet Iozefina 2342 CS Cotnari-Politehnica Iasi 1,0 2 50,0 4 0 46 IM Bojkovic Natasa 2429 BAS Beograd 1,0 5 20,0 2 2171 47 WGM Rudolf Anna 2286 Vandoeuvre Echecs 1,0 6 16,7 1 2207 48 Henrichs Wenke 2034 Vandoeuvre Echecs 1,0 6 16,7 3 2125 49 GM Arakhamia-Grant Ketevan 2499 CS Cotnari-Politehnica Iasi 0,5 5 10,0 1 2112 50 WIM Drljevic Ljilja 2207 BAS Beograd 0,0 1 0,0 4 0 51 Weigel Marie 1857 Vandoeuvre Echecs 0,0 6 0,0 4 1541

Fascinating Interview with Roger Penrose

Check out this article of Roger Penrose at Discover Magazine online. There is some fascinating discussion on quantum physics - oh, I know I know, sounds horridly boring. But it's not! Great stuff. Penrose has the bullocks to say that current quantum theory is all wrong because, as I understand what he's saying, it cannot account for what humans actually see and experience as existence. He expects it is some mechanism that is elegantly simple, and that the universe and the human brain run on the same principles. Wow! Penrose comes from a tremendously accomplished and achieving family. His younger brother, Jonathan Penrose (a psychiatrist), was British Chess Champion 10 times, between 1958 and 1969. From Discover Magazine online
Roger Penrose Says Physics Is Wrong, From String Theory to Quantum Mechanics One of the greatest thinkers in physics says the human brain—and the universe itself—must function according to some theory we haven't yet discovered. by Susan Kruglinski; photography by Oliver Chanarin From the September 2009 issue, published online October 6, 2009 Here are some parts of the interview: So I assume your father helped spark your discovery of Penrose tiles, repeating shapes that fit together to form a solid surface with pentagonal symmetry. It was silly in a way. I remember asking him—I was around 9 years old—about whether you could fit regular hexagons together and make it round like a sphere. And he said, “No, no, you can’t do that, but you can do it with pentagons,” which was a surprise to me. He showed me how to make polyhedra, and so I got started on that. Are Penrose tiles useful or just beautiful? My interest in the tiles has to do with the idea of a universe controlled by very simple forces, even though we see complications all over the place. The tilings follow conventional rules to make complicated patterns. It was an attempt to see how the complicated could be satisfied by very simple rules that reflect what we see in the world. The artist M. C. Escher was influenced by your geometric inventions. What was the story there? In my second year as a graduate student at Cambridge, I attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Amsterdam. I remember seeing one of the lecturers there I knew quite well, and he had this catalog. On the front of it was the Escher picture Day and Night, the one with birds going in opposite directions. The scenery is nighttime on one side and daytime on the other. I remember being intrigued by this, and I asked him where he got it. He said, “Oh, well, there’s an exhibition you might be interested in of some artist called Escher.” So I went and was very taken by these very weird and wonderful things that I’d never seen anything like. I decided to try and draw some impossible scenes myself and came up with this thing that’s referred to as a tri-bar. It’s a triangle that looks like a three-dimensional object, but actually it’s impossible for it to be three-dimensional. I showed it to my father and he worked out some impossible buildings and things. Then we published an article in the British Journal of Psychology on this stuff and acknowledged Escher. Escher saw the article and was inspired by it? He used two things from the article. One was the tri-bar, used in his lithograph called Waterfall. Another was the impossible staircase, which my father had worked on and designed. Escher used it in Ascending and Descending, with monks going round and round the stairs. I met Escher once, and I gave him some tiles that will make a repeating pattern, but not until you’ve got 12 of them fitted together. He did this, and then he wrote to me and asked me how it was done—what was it based on? So I showed him a kind of bird shape that did this, and he incorporated it into what I believe is the last picture he ever produced, called Ghosts.
I left out the real meat of the article so you can enjoy reading it for yourself!
Further information on tessellations (and image from) Totally Tessellated (a Thinkquest project). Ironically, the image above shows a superimposed hexagon (six-sided figure of equal sides) as being the basis for Escher's tessellated pattern.
Of course, those famous Las Vegas Showgirls, Bambi and Candi, wrote quite an article on tessellations and chess and Escher back in 2003, oooohhh!

Is This the Original Labyrinth?

Hmmmm... Story from the Has the original Labyrinth been found? Archaeologists shed new light on the inspiration for the Greek myth. Steve Connor reports Friday, 16 October 2009 A disused stone quarry on the Greek island of Crete which is riddled with an elaborate network of underground tunnels could be the original site of the ancient Labyrinth, the mythical maze that housed the half-bull, half-man Minotaur of Greek legend. An Anglo-Greek team of scholars who undertook an expedition to the quarry this summer believes that the site, near the town of Gortyn in the south of the island, has just as much claim to be the place of the Labyrinth as the Minoan palace at Knossos 20 miles away, which has been synonymous with the Minotaur myth since its excavation a century ago. The 600,000 people a year who visit the ruins at Knossos are told the site was almost certainly the home of the legendary King Minos, who was supposed to have constructed the Labyrinth to house the Minotaur, a fearsome creature born out of a union between the king's wife and a bull.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 European Club Club (Women's)

A WGM Salome Melia update! WGM Melia stole the hearts of many a chessplayer in Montreal when she arrived to play in the 89th Montreal Open Chess Championship, and won the title of Female Champion of Montreal for her 4.0/5 performance! Melia was part of the Georgian women's team Samaia Tbilisi (RtgAvg:2465) that participated in the 14th European Club Cup for Women 2009. Complete information about the performance of the Georgian women's team is available at Here are Melia's results -- 1 win, 2 draws, 1 loss: Melia Salome IM 2432 GEO Rp:2379 Rd. SNo Name Rtg FED Rp Pts. Res. Bo. 1 35 WGM Stojanovic Andjelija 2323 SRB 2282 3,0 w 1 4 2 4 IM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2436 RUS 2514 4,5 w ½ 4 4 26 IM Paehtz Elisabeth 2482 GER 2452 3,5 s ½ 4 6 49 WGM Benderac Ana 2276 SRB 2384 3,5 s 0 4 The Georgian women's team won the Bronze medal for their performance (photo above from official website. Melia is second player from the right). The uber-powerful teams Spartak Vidnoe took gold and Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo took silver. Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo won the European Women's Club Cup in 2007 and 2008.

Technology Aids in Understanding Ancient Language

I was really struck by the number of female specialists mentioned who are working on this project while reading this article. (Part of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project) From the University of Chicago website/news: Technology brings new insights to ancient language October 14, 2009 New technologies and academic collaborations are helping scholars at the University of Chicago analyze hundreds of ancient documents in Aramaic, one of the Middle East’s oldest continuously spoken and written languages. Members of the West Semitic Research Project at the University of Southern California are helping the University’s Oriental Institute make very high-quality electronic images of nearly 700 Aramaic administrative documents. The Aramaic texts were incised in the surfaces of clay tablets with styluses or inked on the tablets with brushes or pens. Some tablets have both incised and inked texts. Discovered in Iran, these tablets form one of the largest groups of ancient Aramaic records ever found. They are part of the Persepolis Fortification Archive, an immense group of administrative documents written and compiled about 500 B.C. at Persepolis, one of the capitals of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute discovered the archive in 1933, and the Iranian government has loaned it to the Oriental Institute since 1936 for preservation, study, analysis and publication. The Persepolis texts have started to provide scholars with new knowledge about Imperial Aramaic, the dialect used for international communication and record-keeping in many parts of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires, including parts of the administration at the imperial court of Persepolis. These texts have even greater value because they are so closely connected with documents written in other ancient languages by the same administration at Persepolis. “We don’t have many archives of this size. A lot of what’s in these texts is entirely fresh, but this also changes what we already knew,” said Annalisa Azzoni, an assistant professor at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University. Azzoni is a specialist on ancient Aramaic and is now working with the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project at the Oriental Institute. “There are words I know were used in later dialects, for example, but I didn’t know they were used at this time or this place, Persia in 500 B.C. For an Aramaicist, this is quite an important discovery.” Clearer images delivered more quickly Scholars from the West Semitic Research Project at the University of Southern California helped the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project build and install an advanced electronic imaging laboratory at the Oriental Institute. Together, the two projects are making high-quality images of the Aramaic texts and the seal impressions associated with those texts. They are distributing the new images to the international research community through the Internet. Inked and incised texts pose different problems that call for different imaging solutions. Making high-resolution scans under polarized and filtered light reveals the ink without interference from stains and glare, and sometimes shows faded characters that cannot be seen in ordinary daylight. Using another advanced imaging technique, called Polynomial Texture Mapping, researchers are able to see surface variations under variable lighting, revealing the marks of styluses and even the traces of pens in places where the ink itself has disappeared. Distributing the results online will give worldwide communities of philologists and epigraphers images that are almost as good as the original objects―and in some cases actually clearer than the originals―to study everything from vocabulary and grammar to the handwriting habits of individual ancient scribes. Researcher Marilyn Lundberg and her colleagues from the West Semitic Research Project built two Polynomial Texture Mapping devices from scratch at the Oriental Institute. They trained Persepolis Fortification Archive Project workers in using them, and also in using filtered light with a camera equipped with a high-resolution scanning device. Now a stream of raw images is uploaded every day to a dedicated server maintained by Humanities Research Computing at Chicago, then uploaded for post-processing at the University of Southern California. Fully processed imagery is available on InscriptiFact, the online application of the West Semitic Research Project, and in the Online Cultural Heritage Research Environment, the online application of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project. Seeing the whole picture The Polynomial Texture Mapping apparatus looks a bit like a small astronomical observatory, with a cylindrical based topped by a hemispherical dome. The camera takes a set of 32 pictures of each side of the tablet, with each shot lit with a different combination of 32 lights set in the dome. After post-processing, the PTM software application knits these images to allow a viewer sitting at a computer to manipulate the apparent direction, angle and intensity of the light on the object, and to introduce various effects to help with visualization of the surface. “This means that the scholar isn’t completely dependent on the photographer for what he sees anymore,” said Bruce Zuckerman, Director of the West Semitic Research Project and its online presence, InscriptiFact. “The scholar can pull up an image on the screen and relight an object exactly as he wants to see it. He can look at different parts of the image with different lighting, to cast light and shadow across even the faintest, shallowest marks of a stylus or pen on the surface, and across every detail of a seal impression.” “This is a wonderful way to look at seal impressions,” said Elspeth Dusinberre, another Persepolis Fortification Project collaborator. Dusinberre, an associate professor of classics at the University of Colorado, is studying the imagery and the use of seals impressed on the Aramaic tablets. “Some of the impressions are faint, or incomplete, on curved surfaces or damaged surfaces. Sometimes Aramaic text is written across them. You need to be able to move the light around to highlight every detail, to see the whole picture.” The Persepolis Fortification Archive also includes about 10,000 to 12,000 other tablets and fragments with cuneiform texts in Elamite―a few hundred of them with short secondary texts in Aramaic. There are also about 4,000 to 5,000 others with impressions of seals, but no texts, and there are a few unique documents in other languages and scripts, including Greek, Old Persian and Phrygian. “That’s what makes this group of Aramaic texts so extraordinary,” Stolper said. “From one segment of the Persepolis Fortification Archive, the Elamite texts, we know a lot about conditions around Persepolis at about 500 B.C. When we can add a second stream of information, the Aramaic texts, we’ll be able to see things in a whole new light. They add a new dimension of the ancient reality.” Impacts are far-reaching The collaboration between the Oriental Institute at Chicago and the West Semitic Research Project at Southern California began with support from a substantial grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2007. To date, the teams have made high-quality images of almost all the monolingual Aramaic Fortification tablets. The next phase of the work, supported by a second Mellon grant that runs through 2010, will make images of the short Aramaic notes written on cuneiform tablets, seal impressions on uninscribed tablets and previously unrecorded Elamite cuneiform texts. The tablets have been studied since they came to Chicago in 1936, and many of them have been sent back to Iran. Oriental Institute scholar Richard T. Hallock published about 2,100 of the Elamite texts in 1969, and Margaret Cool Root and Persepolis Fortification Archive Project collaborator Mark Garrison are completing a three-volume publication of the impressions made on those documents by about 1,500 distinct seals. These publications have had far-reaching results. “They have transformed every aspect of modern study of the languages, history, society, institutions, art and religion of the Achaemenid Persian Empire,” Stolper said. “No serious treatment of the empire that Cyrus and Darius built and that Alexander destroyed can ignore the perspectives of the Fortification Archive.” “If that is the effect of a sample of one component of the archive,” added Garrison, “imagine what will happen when we can have larger samples and other components, and not just the written record, but the imagery, the impressions made by thousands of different seals that administrators and travelers―the men and women who figure in the texts―employed.” By 2010, the collaborating teams expect to have high-quality images of 5,000 to 6,000 Persepolis tablets and fragments, and to supplement these with conventional digital images of another 7,000 to 8,000 tablets and fragments. The images will be distributed online as they are processed, along with cataloging and editorial information. “Thanks to electronic media, we don’t have to cut the parts of the archive up and distribute the pieces among academic specialties,” said Stolper. “We can combine the work of specialists in a way that lets us see the archive as it really was, in its original complexity, as one big thing with many distinct parts.”

Ruins of Sacred Lake Found at Tanis

From ABC News: Pharaonic-Era Sacred Lake Unearthed in Egypt October 15, 2009 CAIRO (Reuters) - Archaeologists have unearthed the site of a pharaonic-era sacred lake in a temple to the Egyptian goddess Mut in the ruins of ancient Tanis, the Culture Ministry said on Thursday. The ministry said the lake, found 12 meters below ground at the San al-Hagar archaeological site in Egypt's eastern Nile Delta, was 15 meters long and 12 meters wide and built out of limestone blocks. It was in a good condition. It was the second sacred lake found at Tanis, which became the northern capital of ancient Egypt in the 21st pharaonic dynasty, over 3,000 years ago. The first lake at the site was found in 1928, the ministry said. The goddess Mut, sometimes depicted as a vulture, was the wife of Amun, god of wind and the breath of life. She was also mother of the moon god Khonsu. (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; editing by Philippa Fletcher) Copyright 2009 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

A Dramatic Rescue! Mother Rescues Child

Mommy to the rescue! These images were sent to me earlier today in an email by a friend who knows I have a great fondness for squirrels. The young black dog (looks like a lab or lab mix) is crouched in a play position, ready to pounce upon the "prey" it has discovered at the base of the tree - a baby squirrel! Mommy squirrel rushes to the rescue - you can see the panicked look on her face! She jumps on the dog and uses those sharp nut-cracking teeth to full advantage, attacking the dog's neck area. Baby squirrel escapes and rushes toward the tree as mommy squirrel continues her desperate attack! The last photo shows mommy squirrel protectively hovering over the baby squirrel as she moves baby back up the tree trunk to the nest. I found these photos online at several different places, I believe (although not 100% sure), they first surfaced in February, 2009. I honestly do not know if they are real or if, somehow, a trained dog and trained squirrels were used. I have a suspicion, slight, only because in that final photo I cannot image a dog just sitting there watching the squirrels escape up the tree. Wouldn't the dog be jumping up on its hind legs, trying to catch the squirrels? On the other hand, after being bested by this mommy squirrel, maybe doggy thought better of that plan!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 European Club Cup: Kosteniuk v. Gaponenko

I am behind the times in reporting on this event, in which several women's teams composed of the brightest star female chessplayers from around the world competed. I will post more this weekend. For the past two years the club sponsored by Monte Carlo won the gold medal, and with the line-up of players the 2009 version of Monte Carlo fronted, I expect many spectators, myself included, assumed they would once again take home the gold. That was not to be -- Monte Carlo took home silver this year. But in case the link embedded in the image doesn't work (I've had the devil of a time trying to get it right) check out this annotated video of current Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who played for Monte Carlo, win against IM Inna Gaponenko.

Hales Corners Chess Challenge X!

It's nearly here! This Saturday, October 17th!!! I'm very excited, but anxious too. Goddesschess wants Hales Corners Challenge X to be the biggest and best Challenge in SE Wisconsin yet! And we want to see a record-breaking number of chess femmes come out and play. In HCCC IX, a record-breaking 107 players turned out -- many registering on the morning of the Tournament! Of those, 11 were females, for an overall participation rate of 10.28% (Open and Reserve Sections); female participation in the Reserve Section was a whopping 19.61%. The economy is lousy, money is tight, and playing four two-hour long games (total time both players) in one day is an absolute GRIND. Can we do it? I believe we can - more female players! For Challenge X, Goddesschess changed its prize structure a bit. We are now offering three prizes for the best female players in the Reserve Section, and two prizes in the Open Section in the hopes of encouraging more females to play in the Open. And for HCCCX, we have something new - current Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk generously donated several books (autographed) and other items just for the female players who participate in HCCCX! She has provided these items in the hopes of encouraging more female players to sign up and play in this great local event. GM Kosteniuk is co-chair with GM Susan Polgar of the FIDE Women's Commission, and is dedicated to improving playing conditions and enlarging playing opportunities for female chessplayers around the world, in addition to doing educational outreach. She does this while balancing family life and playing schedule (she just competed in the Women's European Club Cup on the Monaco team and is one of three women who will be playing in the upcoming World Cup).
October 17, 2009
FORMAT: Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day USCF RatedTwo Sections – Open & Reserve (Under 1600) TIME LIMIT: Game in One Hour (60 minutes per player) ENTRY FEE:$35 – Open; $25 – Reserve (both sections $5 more after October 14, 2009) Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+: Entry fee subtracted from any prizes won SITE REGISTRATION:8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ROUNDS:10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm Pairings by WinTD---No Computer Entries---No Smoking PRIZES: OPEN RESERVE 1st—$325* 1st—$100 2nd—$175* 2nd—$75A—$100 D—$50B & Below—$75 E & Below—$40* guaranteed Goddesschess prizes for top performing females: Open Section: 1st - $60, 2nd - $40; Reserve Section: 1st - $40, 2nd $30, 3rd $20 Additional items (books, CDs, etc.) just for female chessplayers donated by "Chess Queen" GM Alexandra Kosteniuk Tournament Director: Tom Fogec Assistant Tournament Directors: Robin Grochowski & Allen Becker SITE: Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel—4747 S. Howell Avenue—Milwaukee—Telephone 414-481-8000 (formerly known as Four Points Sheraton, across street from airport) ENTRIES TO: Allen Becker—6105 Thorncrest Drive—Greendale, WI 53129 QUESTIONS TO: Tom Fogec—414-425-6742 (home) or 414-405-4207 (cell) USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided Half point bye available in Round 1, 2 or 3 if requested prior to round 1; not available in Round 4. Registration form See the announcement in the September, 2009 print edition of Chess Life Magazine under Grand Prix. Goddesschess will increase the dedicated prize money for the female players in the next HCCC if we get one more female playing in Challenge X. And the more females who sign up and play in Challenge X, the more we will increase the prize fund and number of prizes available for Challenge XI.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

We knew yesterday that the mathematical winner of the 2009 USWCC is IM Anna Zatonskih, but everything else was still up in the air and on the line! Would Zatonskih go for a win in the final round to finish with 8.5/9? Who would win the battle for second place - Krush or the "veteran" player Camilla Baginskaite? Could Melekhina, who lost her R8 game, possibly pull out a win and - in an unlikely but mathematically possible scenario - tie for second place, forcing a 3-way play-off? (Photo from official website by Betsy Dynako, R8) What would happen among the other players who didn't have a shot at places one through four, but could still move up (or down) in the standings and gain (or lose) prize money? And what about the additional prizes that were up for grabs: 9 Queens sponsored $600 of best games prizes ($300/$200/$100) and Goddesschess once again sponsored a $500 Fighting Chess Award, the winner selected by GM Susan Polgar. Who might win those? There was much to fight for -- paraphrasing the words of Camilla Baginskaite -- one must play out the position for self-respect. Since last week I've been trying to watch the games and listen to the live commentary at the office - OHMYGODDESS! Not very satisfactory - particularly today with so much on the line! But I did manage to listen to most of the commentary, even though I wasn't able to follow along on the games very well. I suppose not much can be done over the course of such a long tournament to avoid games being played during working hours - but it sure would make it easier on fans who work 9 - 5. I nearly had a heart attack when Melekhina, who lost her game yesterday, rebounded today to win against Tsagaan and move into a mathematical tie for second place with Krush and Baginskaite (both with 5.5 at the time Melekhina won her game). And then - Krush lost her game to Abrahamyan! Krush stayed at 5.5! So Melekhina and Krush were tied for second place at 5.5 each, along with Baginskaite, who was still playing her game against never-say-resign Foisor! It took a LOOOONNNNGGGGG time for that game to reach its denouement, but in the end, Baginskaite prevailed, and secured 6.5 for herself -- clear second place. No play-offs! (Photo from official website by Betsy Dynako, R7) Final standings (full final cross-table): 2009 U.S. Women's Championship Standings # Name USCF FIDE Score 1 Anna Zatonskih 2492 2462 8½ 2 Camilla Baginskaite 2356 2317 6½ 3 Alisa Melekhina 2253 2220 5½ 4 Irina Krush 2490 2458 5½ 5 Tatev Abrahamyan 2342 2275 4 6 Sabina Foisor 2379 2320 3½ 7 Rusudan Goletiani 2437 2391 3½ 8 Iryna Zenyuk 2271 2285 3 9 Battsetseg Tsagaan 2265 2258 2½ 10 Yun Fan 2134 1935 2½ By now, the final results/standings have been published at many websites, blogs and even in print newspapers (I hope), and I hope that much more coverage, reporting, commentary and in-print analysis of this great championship and its games will be published over the coming days. Congratulations to Anna Zatonskih and Camilla Baginskaite for their fantastic tournaments and securing spots for the 2010 Women's World Chess Championshp. Congratulations and kudos to all of the players for their incredibly-displayed fighting spirit this year. You really inspired me, personally, to continue with my chess "training" - when, where and how are problematical but I will work on those :) A particular thank you once again this year to GM Susan Polgar for agreeing to select the winner of the 2009 Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award. So much was right this year with the presentation online of the 2009 USWCC that I don't want to be a downer - but -- There was a LONG period of time earlier today at the office, during the most crucial round, where the live commentary audio was lost at and all I could do was try to visit the remaining games still going on (in between telephone calls, visitors, and trying to push out work), to see if there would be a three-way tie for second place, forcing a play-off! If live commentary is once again offered next year (and I sincerely hope it will be because overall I greatly enjoyed it and thought it added much to my overall experience as an internet audience member), I hope some of these technical glitches will be smoothed out. I love the live commentary - it makes the games come so much more alive, particularly for someone like me, who is not very chess literate. I want to know WHY a move isn't so good, or WHY a move is particularly good, and WGM Jen Shahade, GM-elect Ben Finegold and Macauley Peterson from ICC Chess FM (connected to the Internet Chess Club) did a pretty good job of doing that. Not perfect - but pretty good, and I'm sure once some of the technical things are smoothed out, they will be a really great team! The analysis - as far as I could understand it - was great, spot on. But technically, there were fade-ins and fade-outs from the microphone. During some of the live post-game interviews, and even during some of the analysis, voices faded away and the sound was so faint I couldn't make it out - very frustrating. That was especially evident when soft-spoken Camilla Baginskaite was interviewed (several times over the past several days), but it happened several times during various interviews and during the live commentary throughout the Championship. Regarding publication of additional sponsorship and prizes offered for the players in the Championship, while I heard a great deal about the 9 Queens best game prizes and the Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award during the live commentary, particularly in the later rounds - I saw nothing in print at the website about these additional prizes. And I was paying attention - I was looking for mention of them in writing, particularly since I don't believe the live commentary is archived anywhere accessible to the general public and who knows how many thousands of followers of the Championship don't listen to it? Yes, our prizes are relatively small (but they mean a great deal to us of our hard-earned dollars), and -- these are dollars going into the pockets of the winners of these prizes and I hope the players knew, along with the audience, what was on the line as far as additional monies available. Perhaps the players, and the public, were aware of these prizes. But perhaps not. Not everyone listens to the live commentary. I would like to see this area of coverage improved. Speaking bluntly, Goddesschess contributes special prize money because we want to encourage women chess players on both national and local levels, and one of the best ways to do that is to increase their chances for earning $$$, but as a small organization with a limited donor base, we'd also like to receive some in-print publicity (other than at our own sites) for our efforts. Monroi - as far as I could tell, you did an excellent overall job of presenting the games live and getting the PGN up very quickly after the real time the games were finished. Well done!

In India, New Seat of Power for Women

Story from the Washington Post Prospective Brides Demand Sought-After Commodity: A Toilet By Emily WaxWashington Post Foreign Service Monday, October 12, 2009 NILOKHERI, India -- An ideal groom in this dusty farming village is a vegetarian, does not drink, has good prospects for a stable job and promises his bride-to-be an amenity in high demand: a toilet. In rural India, many young women are refusing to marry unless the suitor furnishes their future home with a bathroom, freeing them from the inconvenience and embarrassment of using community toilets or squatting in fields. About 665 million people in India -- about half the population -- lack access to latrines. But since a "No Toilet, No Bride" campaign started about two years ago, 1.4 million toilets have been built here in the northern state of Haryana, some with government funds, according to the state's health department. Women's rights activists call the program a revolution as it spreads across India's vast and largely impoverished rural areas. "I won't let my daughter near a boy who doesn't have a latrine," said Usha Pagdi, who made sure that daughter Vimlas Sasva, 18, finished high school and took courses in electronics at a technical school. "No loo? No 'I do,' " Vimlas said, laughing as she repeated a radio jingle. "My father never even allowed me an education," Pagdi said, stroking her daughter's hair in their half-built shelter near a lagoon strewn with trash. "Every time I washed the floors, I thought about how I knew nothing. Now, young women have power. The men can't refuse us." Indian girls are traditionally seen as a financial liability because of the wedding dowries -- often a life's savings -- their fathers often shell out to the groom's family. But that is slowly changing as women marry later and grow more financially self-reliant. More rural girls are enrolled in school than ever before. A societal preference for boys here has become an unlikely source of power for Indian women. The abortion of female fetuses in favor of sons -- an illegal but widespread practice -- means there are more eligible bachelors than potential brides, allowing women and their parents to be more selective when arranging a match. "I will have to work hard to afford a toilet. We won't get any bride if we don't have one now," said Harpal Sirshwa, 22, who is hoping to marry soon. Neem tree branches hung in the doorway of his parents' home, a sign of pride for a family with sons. "I won't be offended when the woman I like asks for a toilet." Satellite television and the Internet are spreading images of rising prosperity and urban middle-class accouterments to rural areas, such as spacious apartments -- with bathrooms -- and women in silk saris rushing off to the office. India's rapid urbanization has also contributed to rising aspirations in small towns and villages. On a crowded highway that runs into this village, about 170 miles north of New Delhi, young women, once seen clinging to the backs of motorbikes driven by their fathers or husbands, now drive their own scooters. One recent popular TV ad shows a rural girl sheepishly entering a scooter showroom, then beaming as she whizzes through the parking lot on her new moped. With economic freedom, women are increasingly expecting more, and toilets are at the top of their list, they say. The lack of sanitation is not only an inconvenience but also contributes to the spread of diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid and malaria. "Women suffer the most since there are prying eyes everywhere," said Ashok Gera, a doctor who works in a one-room clinic here. "It's humiliating, harrowing and extremely unhealthy. I see so many young women who have prolonged urinary tract infections and kidney and liver problems because they don't have a safe place to go." Previous attempts to bring toilets to poor Indian villages have mostly failed. A 2001 project sponsored by the World Bank never took off because many people used the latrines as storage facilities or took them apart to build lean-tos, said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Center for Social Research in New Delhi, who worked on the program. But by linking toilets to courtship, "No Toilet, No Bride" has been the most successful effort so far. Walls in many villages are painted with slogans in Hindi, such as "I won't get my daughter married into a household which does not have a toilet." Even popular soap operas have featured dramatic plots involving the campaign. "The 'No Toilet, No Bride' program is a bloodless coup," said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, a social organization, and winner of this year's Stockholm Water Prize for developing inexpensive, eco-friendly toilets. "When I started, it was a cultural taboo to even talk about toilets. Now it's changing. My mother used to wake up at 4 a.m. to find someplace to go quietly. My wife wakes up at 7 a.m., and can go safely in her home." Pathak runs a school and job-training center for women who once cleaned up human waste by hand. They are known as untouchables, the lowest caste in India's social order. As more toilets come to India, the women are less likely to have to do such jobs, Pathak said. "I want so much for them to have skills and dignity," Pathak said. "I tell the government all the time: If India wants to be a superpower, first we need toilets. Maybe it will be our women who finally change that."

Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Today IM Anna Zatonskih clinched the 2009 title with one round to spare! I found it particularly exciting today trying to watch the games and listen to the live commentary of IM Jen Shahade and GM-elect Ben Finegold while trying to get work done! The big match-up of the day was between Krush and Baginskaite. Baginskaite had been in sole possession of second place going into the game, and both Melekhina and Krush were playing catch-up with games running out! But Krush scored the victory today with the white pieces and moved into a tie for second with Baginskaite. I do not understand all that happened, but it seems that Melekhina, who had the black pieces today against Zenyuk, somehow lost what I thought I heard the commentators call more than once a winning position. She lost the game - and her shot at second place, barring both Krush and Baginskaite crashing and burning tomorrow while Melekhina wins her R9 game. I don't think that will happen, but it sure would make a great movie! Abrahamyan pulled a rabbit out of the black pieces and won against Tsagaan who, I believe, once again succumbed to severe time pressure after she had some stunning play to obtain a very favorable position. I expect that this is a somewhat disappointing tournament for Abrahamyan, who last year scored six wins against three losses and no draws, albeit the field this year is MUCH tougher. With her full point today, she now stands at 3.0/8. I have become a fan of Yun Fan who scored her second victory of the championship today, against unlikely victim IM Rusudan Goletiani! Wow! Standings after R8: # Name USCF FIDE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score 1 Anna Zatonskih 2492 2462 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 - WINNER AND REPEAT CHAMP! 2 Irina Krush 2490 2458 0 1 ½ 1 - ½ 1 1 ½ 3 Camilla Baginskaite 2356 2317 ½ 0 ½ - 1 1 ½ 1 1 4 Alisa Melekhina 2253 2220 0 ½ ½ 1 1 0 ½ - 1 5 Sabina Foisor 2379 2320 0 0 - 0 ½ 1 1 0 1 6 Tatev Abrahamyan 2342 2275 0 - 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 3 7 Iryna Zenyuk 2271 2285 0 ½ 0 1 0 0 - ½ 1 3 8 Goletiani Rusudan 2437 2391 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ - 1 0 9 Tsagaan Battsetseg 2265 2258 0 0 0 - 1 0 ½ 0 1 10 Yun Fan 2134 1935 - ½ 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 Today's games in PGN: [White "Tsagaan, Battsetseg"][Black "Abrahamyan, Tatev"][Result "0-1"][WhiteELO "2265"][WhiteTitle "WIM"][BlackELO "2342"][BlackTitle "WFM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.e5 c5 5.Qg4 g6 6.dxc5 Nd7 7.Ngf3 Nxc5 8.Qd4 Bd7 9.Nb3 Rc8 10.Be3 Nxb3 11.axb3 Rxc2 12.Qxa7 Qc8 13.Bd3 Rxb2 14.O-O Rxb3 15.Rfc1 Bc6 16.Bc2 Rc3 17.Ba4 Bxa4 18.Qxa4 Kf8 19.Rxc3 Qxc3 20.Rc1 Qb4 21.Qd7 Kg7 22.h4 h6 23.Rc7 Qb1 24.Kh2 Qf5 25.Rxb7 g5 26.Kg1 gxh4 27.Nd4 Qg6 28.Kh2 h3 29.gxh3 Rh7 30.Rb8 Bg5 31.Qe8 Kh8 32.Nc6 Bxe3 33.Ne7 Bf4 34.Kh1 Qe4 35.Kg1 Rg7 0-1 [White "Zenyuk, Iryna"][Black "Melekhina, Alisa"][Result "1-0"][WhiteELO "2271"][WhiteTitle "WIM"][BlackELO "2253"][BlackTitle "WIM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Bg5 O-O 6.Qd2 Na6 7.f4 c6 8.Bd3 Nc7 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Bc2 Ne6 11.O-O-O Nd7 12.Qf2 Bxf3 13.gxf3 h6 14.Bh4 Nxf4 15.Qd2 g5 16.Bf2 Nh3 17.Be3 e5 18.Ne2 b5 19.cxb5 cxb5 20.Bb3 Nb6 21.Kb1 Qf6 22.Rhf1 Rfd8 23.Ng3 a5 24.dxe5 dxe5 25.Nh5 Qg6 26.Qxd8 Rxd8 27.Rxd8 Kh7 28.Ng3 a4 29.Bxf7 Qxf7 30.Bxb6 Qf6 31.Ba5 b4 32.Rd7 Qa6 33.Bc7 Qb5 34.Re7 b3 35.Bxe5 bxa2 36.Ka1 Kg8 37.Rxg7 Kf8 38.Bc3 a3 39.Rd1 axb2 40.Bxb2 Qb6 41.Nf5 Nf4 42.Ba3 Ke8 43.Nd6 1-0 [White "Foisor, Sabina"][Black "Zatonskih, Anna"][Result "0-1"][WhiteELO "2379"][WhiteTitle "WGM"][BlackELO "2492"][BlackTitle "IM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.Qc2 c5 7.e3 cxd4 8.exd4 Nc6 9.Bb5 Qb6 10.Nge2 O-O 11.Bxc6 Qxc6 12.O-O Be6 13.Rac1 Rac8 14.f3 Qd7 15.g4 b5 16.a3 Ne8 17.Qb3 a6 18.Bg3 Rc4 19.Rcd1 f6 20.Rfe1 Bf7 21.Nf4 Nc7 22.Qc2 b4 23.axb4 Bxb4 24.Qf5 Qxf5 25.gxf5 Nb5 26.Nfe2 Nxc3 27.bxc3 Bxc3 28.Nxc3 Rxc3 29.Kf2 Rfc8 30.Re3 Rxe3 31.Kxe3 Rc3 32.Rd3 Rxd3 33.Kxd3 Bh5 34.Ke3 a5 35.Bd6 Kf7 36.Kf4 Ke8 37.Ba3 a4 38.Ke3 Kd7 39.h3 Kd8 40.Bf8 Ke8 41.Bc5 Kf7 42.h4 Kg8 43.Kf4 Be8 44.Ba3 Bb5 45.Ke3 Kf7 46.Bb4 Bc4 47.Kd2 Bf1 48.Ke3 Bh3 49.Kf4 Ke8 50.Ba3 Kd7 51.Bf8 Kc6 52.Ke3 Bxf5 53.Kd2 g5 54.Be7 gxh4 55.Bxf6 h3 56.Be5 Be4 0-1 [White "Krush, Irina"][Black "Baginskaite, Camilla"][Result "1-0"][WhiteELO "2490"][WhiteTitle "IM"][BlackELO "2356"][BlackTitle "WGM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.cxd5 Qxd5 4.e3 e5 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd2 Bxc3 7.bxc3 Nf6 8.f3 O-O 9.e4 Qd6 10.d5 Ne7 11.c4 Nd7 12.Nh3 Nc5 13.Nf2 f5 14.Bb4 c6 15.Be2 fxe4 16.O-O Bf5 17.fxe4 Bg6 18.Nd3 b6 19.Bf3 Rfd8 20.Qe2 cxd5 21.cxd5 Rac8 22.Rac1 Re8 23.Nxc5 bxc5 24.Ba3 Qb6 25.Qc4 Bf7 26.Bg4 Qg6 27.Bxc8 Nxc8 28.Bxc5 Nb6 29.Bxb6 Qxb6 30.Qc5 Qg6 31.Qxa7 1-0 [White "Fan, Yun"][Black "Goletiani, Rusudan"][Result "1-0"][WhiteELO "2134"][WhiteTitle ""][BlackELO "2437"][BlackTitle "IM"][Source "MonRoi"]1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Qc7 7.a3 Nc6 8.Be2 Ne5 9.Be3 h5 10.h3 Ng6 11.Qd2 b6 12.f4 e5 13.fxe5 Qxe5 14.O-O-O Bc5 15.Nf5 Bxe3 16.Qxe3 O-O 17.g4 Nf4 18.gxh5 d5 19.Ne7 Qxe7 20.Qxf4 dxe4 21.Rhg1 Kh7 22.Qg5 Rg8 23.Nxe4 Bb7 24.Nxf6 Qxf6 25.Bd3 Kh8 26.Qxf6 gxf6 27.h6 Bg2 28.h7 Rg7 29.Rxg2 Rxg2 30.Be4 Rc8 31.Bxg2 Rxc4 32.Kb1 Kxh7 33.Rd6 b5 34.Rxf6 b4 35.axb4 Kg7 36.Rxf7 1-0 Tomorrow's final round match-ups: Baginskaite vs Foisor Abrahamyan vs Krush Melekhina vs Tsagaan Goletiani vs Zenyuk Zatonskih vs Fan Baginskaite and Krush are not only fighting for that second berth at the 2010 Women's World Chess Championship, the other ladies will be battling for final positions in the hopes of NOT splitting pooled prize money. There are also additional cash prizes up for grabs: $500 for the Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award and $300/$200/$100 for "best game" prizes sponsored by 9 Queens.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The "Royal Disease"

I continue to learn something new every day, and it's so wonderful to do so! I didn't know this before - that there was a so-called "Royal disease" among the royal families of Europe and that it has now conclusively been proven to be hemophelia via DNA analysis. Hemophelia is a horrid genetic defect which, until relatively recently, could not be successfully medically treated. Here is the article, from Science Now: Case Closed: Famous Royals Suffered From Hemophilia By Michael Price ScienceNOW Daily News 8 October 2009 Queen Victoria's male descendants were cursed with poor health. The 19th century British monarch's son Leopold, Duke of Albany, died from blood loss after he slipped and fell. Her grandson Friedrich bled out at age 2; her grandsons Leopold and Maurice, at ages 32 and 23, respectively. The affliction, commonly known as the "Royal disease," spread as Victoria's heirs married into royal families across Europe, decimating the thrones of Britain, Germany, Russia, and Spain. Based on the symptoms, modern researchers concluded that the royals suffered from hemophilia--a genetic disease that prevents blood from clotting--but there was never any concrete evidence. Now, new DNA analysis on the bones of the last Russian royal family, the Romanovs, indicates the Royal disease was indeed hemophilia, a rare subtype known as hemophilia B. Hemophilia prevents proteins known as fibrins from forming a scab over a cut or forming clots to stop internal bleeding. Even minor injuries can lead to bleeding, which lasts for days or weeks and can be fatal. The disease is recessive and is carried on the X chromosome, meaning that men are more likely to develop it, whereas women usually act as carriers and don't show symptoms. Such was the case with Prince Alexei Romanov, son of Tsar Nicholas II, great-grandson of Queen Victoria, and heir to the Russian throne. From an early age, Alexei was prone to prolonged bleeding, and his family feared that he wouldn't make it through his first month of life, says Evgeny Rogaev, a geneticist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. The disease didn't kill Alexei, however: He was murdered at age 13 in 1918 along with the rest of the Russian royal family following the Russian Revolution. Earlier this year, Rogaev and his colleagues reported that, based on DNA analysis, the bodies of two children found near the murder site were indeed those of Alexei and his sister Maria. They further confirmed that the other bodies near the site belonged to the rest of the Romanov family. But Rogaev wanted to solve the final Romanov riddle: Did they really suffer from hemophilia? He and colleagues analyzed DNA from the royal bone fragments again, this time looking for genetic markers of hemophilia. The most common type of the disease, hemophilia A, accounts for about 80% of hemophilia cases and is caused by a mutation to a gene called F8, which encodes a protein involved in blood clotting. They didn't find the mutation. So Rogaev moved on to looking for a rarer form of the disease, hemophilia B, which involves another gene, F9. This time, the team found a mutation in F9, which would have inhibited clotting, in bones from Alexei, his sister Anastasia, and their mother Alexandra. The findings, published online today in Science, indicate that Alexei did indeed have hemophilia B and that his mother and Anastasia were carriers for the disease, bearing out the previous speculation. They also confirm that the other instances of "Royal disease" in the family line were hemophilia, Rogaev says, because they all shared a common genetic heritage. The last carrier of the disease in the royal family was Prince Waldemar of Prussia, who died in 1945. The disease impacted not only the Romanov family but also probably Russian history, Rogaev adds. Alexei's frail condition encouraged his mother Alexandra to keep close company with the Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin, who claimed to wield healing magic. "There was no medication at that time," Rogaev says. "She tried to do everything possible." According to some historians, when Rasputin used his close relationship with the Romanovs to influence bureaucratic affairs in his favor, the public grew increasingly suspicious of the regime, possibly hastening the revolution. Katherine High, a hematologist who studies blood coagulation at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, says that the mutation found in the Romanov bones fits an established genetic pattern known to cause hemophilia B, further supporting Rogaev's findings. Tracing this pattern back to the royal family and its history of disease is "very interesting and very exciting," she says. People affected by the disease today should be excited to see hemophilia B step out from under the more common A-type's shadow, says pediatric hematologist Paul Monahan of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "Now it's clear it's had an enormous impact on Western history." One of my nieces has gone into the field of hematology, devoting herself to lab research in the hopes of discovering clues that may lead to cures for a myriad of blood-related disorders and diseases. I am very proud of her.

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Official results after R7, 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship: # Name USCF FIDE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score 1 Anna Zatonskih 2492 2462 ½ 1 1 - 1 1 1 1 - 6½ 2 Camilla Baginskaite 2356 2317 ½ - ½ - ½ 1 1 1 1 5½ 3 Irina Krush 2490 2458 0 - ½ 1 1 1 - ½ ½ 4½ 4 Alisa Melekhina 2253 2220 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ - 1 - 1 4½ 5 Sabina Foisor 2379 2320 - - 0 0 1 0 ½ 1 1 3½ 6 Rusudan Goletiani 2437 2391 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ - - 2½ 7 Tsagaan Battsetseg 2265 2258 0 0 0 - 1 0 - ½ 1 2½ 8 Tatev Abrahamyan 2342 2275 0 0 - 0 ½ ½ - 1 0 2 9 Iryna Zenyuk 2271 2285 0 0 ½ - 0 - ½ 0 1 2 10 Yun Fan 2134 1935 - 0 ½ 0 0 - 0 1 0 1½ Two more rounds to go! Tomorrow's match-ups: Round 8 Monday, October 12, 2009, 12:00 pm Foisor vs Anna Zatonskih Yun Fan vs Rusudan Goletiani Iryna Zenyuk vs Alisa Melekhina Battsetseg Tsagaan vs Tatev Abrahamyan Irina Krush vs Camilla Baginskaite All eyes will be upon the match-ups of Krush-Baginskaite, battling for second place, and Zenyuk-Melekhina -- Melekhina also battling for second place. But I'm not counting out Foisor-Zatonskih, which I think some folks are writing off as a mail-in because of Zatonskih's commanding lead. Foisor lost a tough game today behind the black pieces against Krush, and I imagine she'll be out for blood tomorrow. At this point, and with these players, Zatonskih having a 1 point lead with 2 games to go is NOT insurmountable! What will happen if Foisor draws with Zatonskih or defeats her tomorrow, and the next three players in the standings draw or win their games? It's like trying to figure out the play-off schedule in the NFL/AFL!

2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

After grinding out the first six rounds, today's round is wrapping up in under five hours (assuming Krush-Foisor closes out soon. According to the commentary, Krush has a commanding position and a material lead). Results and games from R7: Melekhina - Fan: 1-0 Baginskaite - Tsagaan: 1-0 Abrahamyan - Zenyuk: 1-0 Goletiani - Zatonskih: 0-1 Updated 5:01 p.m.: Krush - Foisor: 1-0 [White "Melekhina, Alisa"][Black "Fan, Yun"][Result "1-0"][WhiteELO "2253"][WhiteTitle "WIM"][BlackELO "2134"][BlackTitle ""][Source "MonRoi"] 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.Nh3 Nf6 7.Nf4 e6 8.h4 c5 9.h5 Be4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.d5 a6 12.c3 Qd7 13.Be3 e5 14.Nh3 Be7 15.Bd3 Nf6 16.c4 h6 17.Bd2 Qd6 18.Bf5 Nbd7 19.g4 b5 20.b3 Nb6 21.Qc2 Rb8 22.O-O Nbd7 23.Rae1 Rb6 24.f4 e4 25.Nf2 Nf8 26.Nxe4 Nxe4 27.Bxe4 g6 28.hxg6 fxg6 29.Ba5 Rb7 30.Bc3 Rg8 31.Be5 Qd7 32.d6 Bh4 33.Bxb7 Bxe1 34.Rxe1 Qxg4 35.Qg2 1-0 [White "Baginskaite, Camilla"][Black "Tsagaan, Battsetseg"][Result "1-0"][WhiteELO "2356"][WhiteTitle "WGM"][BlackELO "2265"][BlackTitle "WIM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 O-O 5.Bg2 d6 6.Nc3 Nbd7 7.O-O e5 8.e4 exd4 9.Nxd4 Re8 10.h3 a6 11.Be3 Rb8 12.a4 Nc5 13.Qc2 a5 14.Rad1 Nfd7 15.Ndb5 Na6 16.Rfe1 Ne5 17.Nd5 Be6 18.Nd4 Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nb4 20.Qe2 Nd7 21.Nb5 Nf6 22.Qc4 Rc8 23.Na7 Ra8 24.Nb5 Rc8 25.Na7 Ra8 26.f4 Nh5 27.Kh2 Bxb2 28.Nb5 Na6 29.g4 c6 30.dxc6 bxc6 31.Nxd6 1-0 [White "Abrahamyan, Tatev"][Black "Zenyuk, Iryna"][Result "1-0"][WhiteELO "2342"][WhiteTitle "WFM"][BlackELO "2271"][BlackTitle "WIM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Bc4 O-O 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.Qd2 Rb8 11.h4 h5 12.g4 Na5 13.O-O-O b5 14.Bh6 Nc4 15.Bxc4 bxc4 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.gxh5 Nxh5 18.Rhg1 Qb6 19.b3 cxb3 20.axb3 Qa5 21.Kb2 Rfc8 22.Ra1 Qc5 23.Rg5 e5 24.Nde2 Rh8 25.f4 Nf6 26.f5 Rxh4 27.Rag1 Rh6 28.fxg6 fxg6 29.Ng3 Rg8 30.Nf5 Bxf5 31.exf5 Kh7 32.fxg6 Kg7 33.Rf1 Rf8 34.Rxf6 Rxf6 35.Ne4 Qc8 36.Nxf6 Qd8 37.Nh5 1-0 [White "Goletiani, Rusudan"][Black "Zatonskih, Anna"][Result "0-1"][WhiteELO "2437"][WhiteTitle "IM"][BlackELO "2492"][BlackTitle "IM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 e5 5.d3 Nf6 6.O-O Nd7 7.e3 Be7 8.exd4 exd4 9.Re1 O-O 10.Na3 Nc5 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.Rxe5 c6 13.Nc2 a5 14.b3 Bd6 15.Rh5 Ne6 16.Bb2 Be7 17.Re5 Bf6 18.Re1 Qb6 19.Rb1 Bd7 20.h4 c5 21.Qh5 Bc6 22.Bh3 g6 23.Qg4 Rfe8 24.f4 Ng7 25.Qd1 Nh5 26.Kh2 Qc7 27.Bg4 Nxf4 28.Rf1 Be5 29.gxf4 Bxf4 30.Kh3 h5 31.Bxh5 gxh5 32.Qxh5 Bd7 33.Kg2 Ra6 34.Rf3 Rg6 35.Kf1 Bg4 36.Qd5 Re5 0-1 Updated just before 4:30 p.m. CST: The live commentary at has concluded -- Krush v. Foisor is still going on. Foisor is down a bishop but has an extra pawn. This lady know show to fight - it will be interesting to see how the game is finally completed. [White "Krush, Irina"][Black "Foisor, Sabina"][Result "1-0"][WhiteELO "2490"][WhiteTitle "IM"][BlackELO "2379"][BlackTitle "WGM"][Source "MonRoi"] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.f3 Nbd7 8.e4 Bg6 9.Nxc4 Be7 10.Be2 O-O 11.O-O Nb6 12.Ne5 a5 13.Be3 Nbd7 14.Nd3 Qb8 15.Kh1 e5 16.dxe5 Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Qxe5 18.f4 Qe6 19.f5 Bxf5 20.Rxf5 Nxe4 21.Rf3 Nxc3 22.bxc3 Bf6 23.Qc2 b5 24.axb5 cxb5 25.Bxb5 Rfc8 26.Bd2 Rc5 27.Bd3 Rh5 28.Rf5 Rh4 29.Rfxa5 Rd8 30.Be1 Rh6 31.Bf1 Qc6 32.Ra6 Qb7 33.Qe2 Qc7 34.h3 g5 35.Qf3 Kg7 36.Rb1 Qe5 37.Rbb6 Rg6 38.Bg3 Qe7 39.Qf5 Rd1 40.Kh2 Bxc3 41.Rxg6 fxg6 42.Qf3 Rc1 43.Rc6 g4 44.Qd3 Qb4 45.Rc7 Kf6 46.Qd8 Ke6 47.Qd7 Kf6 48.Qf7 1-0 Post comment 5:03 p.m.: Once again all decisive games. The women are battling down to the last second on the clocks to make time control, they are battling for every square afterwards. No one is giving up and coasting to the finish just to earn prize money. Preliminary standings (my rough adding up points): Clear first - Zatonskih: 6.5 Clear second - Baginskaite: 5.5 Melekhina, Krush: 4.5 Goletiani, Foisor: 3.5 Tsagaan: 2.5 Zenyuk, Abrahamyan: 2.0 Fan Yun: 1.5
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