Saturday, August 14, 2010

90th City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

Prior information on the 2010 Championnat.

Hola darlings!  More good news!  WIM Yuanling Yuan, a member of the 2010 Canadian Women's Chess Olympiad Team, has confirmed her participation in the 2010 Championnat! 

Photo by Erik Malmsten, from
Mark Bluvshtein's blog
Some information about WIM Yuanling:

• 2010 Selected Canada's Olympiad Women's Team
• 2009 Top rated female Canadian at Year-end
• 2009 Awarded Woman International Master title
• 2008 Top rated female Canadian at Year-end
• 2008 Represented Canada at Women's Olympiad
• 2008 Awarded Woman FIDE Master title
• 2008 Woman International Master Norm, 12th North American FIDE Invitational, Chicago, USA
• 2008 2nd place, Pan-American Women's Championship; Woman International Master Norm
• 2007 Toronto Junior Champion
• 2007 Ontario High School Champion (while in Grade 7)
• 2007 Toronto High School Champion (while in Grade 7)
• 2003 Represented Canada at World Girls Under-10 Championship, 10th place
• 2003 Canadian Girls Under-10 Champion

According to the FIDE card on Yuanling, she is the #13 U-16 female player in the world, and currently holds the #1 spot of active female players in Canada, as well as #1 U-16 active female players in Canada. 

Chess games of Yuanling Yuan at

Yuanling Yuan's Chess in the Library blog

Iron Age Burials Uncovered in Tamil Nadu, Including Stone Circles

Stone circles back in the news, this time in Tamil Nadu, India, dating to the Iron Age c. 500-300 BCE.  In fact, there is an incredible mix of burial techniques uncovered in this excavation:

Fron the
Iron Age burial sites found in Tamil Nadu
Press Trust Of India
Tiruchirappalli, August 13, 2010

Hundreds of Iron Age megalithic burial sites of different types and habitational deposits of the contemporary period have been discovered by Archeological Survey of India (ASI) at Sengalur village in the Pudukottai District of Tamil Nadu. More than 500 megalithic structures believed to be dating back to about 500–300 BC have been found during excavations carried out in an area of about 25 hectares at the village near Tiruchirappalli, a senior ASI official said.

“The findings are rare and the megalithic sites are one of the earliest architectural attempts of the people in South India,” ASI Superintending Archaeologist, Temple Suvey Project Southern Region, D Dayalan said.

The findings include stone circles of laterite or granite boulders and made with cairn packing, cist burial of different types, pit burial and urn burial with or without capstones. A special feature was the rectangular shaped structure of Iron Age sepulchral monument. It was unique and not found anywhere in South India except a solitary finding at Sittannavasal in the same district, he said.

The excavations also yielded habitational objects like potteries of different shapes and sizes including bi-coloured (red and black) pots besides iron objects at Melappatti.

2010 Juniors and Girls U-20 World Chess Championships

Girls U-20 Round 11:  Melekhina wins!

Early results in among the top boards:

1 [7.0] 16 2249 IND Bhakti, Kulkarni Pradip 0 - 1 Muzychuk, Anna SLO 2527 1 [9.0] 1
2 [8.0] 3 2376 RUS Girya, Olga 1 - 0 Mammadova, Gulnar Marfat AZE 2260 13 [7.5] 2
3 [7.5] 11 2275 IND Padmini, Rout 1 - 0 Severiukhina, Zoja RUS 2341 4 [7.0] 3
4 [7.0] 25 2192 POL Warakomska, Anna 0 - 1 Guramishvili, Sopiko GEO 2298 6 [7.0] 4
5 [7.0] 12 2265 USA Melekhina, Alisa 1 - 0 Corke, Anya ENG 2257 14 [7.0] 5
7 [6.0] 22 2207 HUN Toth, Sarolta 0 - 1 Muminova, Nafisa UZB 2290 8 [6.5] 7

Muzychuk remains in first with an incredible 10.0/11!

Olga Girya, whom I confess I had not heard of before this tournament, remains ensconced in second place with 9.0/11 and continues to put unrelenting pressure on Muzychuk.  Who is this young lady?

Padmini Rout, whom I have been following for a couple of years, remains firmly in third place with 8.5/11.  This is a fabulous event for her, but I know she was going for the gold from Day 1 and may be disappointed in her result.

Who will be in fourth place - Melekhina with her win against near equal Anya Corke?  Or Guramishvili with her victory behind black pieces against 100  ELO lower rated Anna Warakomska? 

Muminova is fighting to the end.  Her victory today gives her 7.5/11, just a half point behind whoever falls into 4th and 5th places.

Two more rounds to go.  At this moment, the official website does not yet have the pairings up for R12.

Preserving Ancient Languages: Eyak

From The Wall Street Journal Online
In Alaska, a Frenchman Fights to Revive the Eyak's Dead Tongue
Natives Take Dialect Lessons From Guillaume Leduey; Blurting Out 'Keełtaak'
August 10, 2010

CORDOVA, Alaska—Mona Curry recently stared teary-eyed at a film of her late mother speaking in the native-Alaskan language of Eyak at a tribal ceremony. Then she turned to a 21-year-old Frenchman for translation.

"She said that it's beautiful," Guillaume Leduey explained without hesitation. "It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you God."

Mr. Leduey, a college student from Le Havre, France, has made it his mission to bring the Eyak tongue back from extinction. Eyak tribe membership once numbered in the hundreds in south central Alaska, then dwindled over the past two centuries as other tribes and Western settlement encroached.

Ms. Curry's mother, Marie Smith Jones, was considered by Alaska historians the last native Eyak speaker when she died in 2008. Her descendants and others didn't become fluent in the language because of a stigma around speaking anything other than English in Alaska's native villages.

Photo: Jim Carlton.  Guillaume Leduey (center) gives an Eyak
lesson to Dune Lankard (left) and Mona Curry.

Lots of local dialects across the world face extinction, but few have attracted a preservationist as unlikely as Mr. Leduey, an aspiring sculptor who until June hadn't left Europe. That month, he journeyed to Alaska to study under Michael Krauss, a 75-year-old University of Alaska linguistics professor who knows conversational Eyak. Mr. Leduey set out to traipse in the footsteps of the tribe that once inhabited this gritty fishing village on Prince William Sound.

Versed in French, English, German, Chinese and Georgian, and able to sing at least one song in Lithuanian, Mr. Leduey says he can't fully explain why he took on the defunct tongue. "It's like I have an inner voice that tells me I have to do that," he says.

More than a thousand years ago, the Eyaks are believed to have settled in Alaska's interior before migrating to the coast, hunting and fishing along the way, historians say. They passed down their language through storytelling. While as many as 20 native dialects remain in Alaska, Mr. Krauss says Eyak is considered extinct because there are no fluent, native speakers.

Mr. Leduey's preservation quest is littered with linguistic stumbling blocks. Eyak bears little similarity to English or the Russian spoken by some Alaskan natives. Sounds for letters often are uttered from the back of the mouth, rather than the middle as with European languages. Eyak's vowels followed by an "n" are nasalized, while the "m" sound rarely is used. It wasn't until academics began studying it that the language was formally put in writing.

There are no obscenities. "If you want to insult someone, you call them a 'nik'da'luw,'" Mr. Leduey says, using the Eyak expression for "big nose," which means nosy. And there are a number of one-word sentences. "If you want to say, 'I'll kill you," it is 'ige'xsheh,'" he says.

To understand more about Eyaks, Mr. Leduey also learned to cook salmon in the ground, a native tradition. On an overcast day here last month, he dug a shallow pit in the front yard of Eyak descendant Pam Smith, a niece of Ms. Jones's. He tended a crackling fire to roast two red salmon, each wrapped in giant skunk cabbage leaves. After 90 minutes, the fish were warm but still raw, so Ms. Smith threw them into an oven.

Mr. Leduey's Eyak odyssey began at age 12, when he happened on the language while trolling through an online dictionary of languages in his hometown of Le Havre. By searching more online, he discovered Eyak appeared to have only one native speaker, Ms. Jones.

"I was like, 'Wow, one speaker left. I must do something to learn the language'," Mr. Leduey says. His parents were less than thrilled. "They don't think it's useful," he says.

With little online material on Eyak, Mr. Leduey obtained one of Mr. Krauss's texts on the subject, and turned to Laura Bliss Spaan, a filmmaker in Anchorage, Alaska, who directed a documentary about Ms. Jones. Ms. Spaan sent Mr. Leduey the film and some more of Mr. Krauss's Eyak texts.

In April 2009, Mr. Leduey showed off his Eyak skills to Ms. Spaan while she was visiting France. "We were outside one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Paris and Guillaume showed me some graffiti of an octopus," she says. "He instantly told me three different ways to say 'octopus,'" which is "tsaaleexoquh" in Eyak.

Earlier this year, Ms. Spaan suggested Mr. Leduey visit Mr. Krauss in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he teaches. After Mr. Leduey's June arrival, Mr. Krauss cloistered him in a room for up to five hours a day to pore over Eyak documents. To break the monotony, Mr. Leduey sang songs in Eyak to Scamper, the professor's Norwich Terrier.

Mr. Leduey also traveled to Cordova, where the Eyaks made their last stand against being swallowed up by civilization. Cordova boasts Eyak Corp., a legal entity for native groups in Alaska, with about 400 members. Membership is dominated by rival Tlingits, who helped take over the Eyak territory, along with white settlers, says Dune Lankard, one of about 50 in the corporation with Eyak blood. Bits of the language remain alive even though its fluent, native speakers have died.

"There are people talking like they're Eyaks but they're not Eyaks," says Mr. Lankard, a commercial fisherman.

In Cordova last month, some part-Eyaks showed Mr. Leduey a demolished village site and took him to a natural attraction called Child's Glacier, where a harbor seal leapt out of the icy water. "Keełtaak," Mr. Leduey blurted out, using the Eyak word for the animal.

Later stopping to inspect a roadside sign about Eyaks, Mr. Leduey caught a barely perceptible error. The sign uses the Eyak word "saqehl" for people who go by boat; Mr. Leduey said it should be "saqehł," with a bar through the "l."

About 10 to 15 people have shown interest in Eyak lessons, he says. Mr. Leduey recently huddled at a kitchen table with Mr. Lankard, 50, and Ms. Curry, 53, for a lesson. "Adate'ya," Mr. Leduey said for "silver salmon." Mr. Lankard struggled with the guttural sound. "I can't even say that," he says.

Despite the early stigma about their language, "it feels right to learn now," Ms. Curry says. "This will help keep my mom's memory and spirit alive."

Preserving Ancient Languages: Grabar

Reverend Father Garegin Hambartsumyan: Grabar is not an extinct language, yet our negligence can turn it into such
August 11, 2010 - 18:15 AMT 13:15 GMT

PanARMENIAN.Net - Grabar is not an extinct language, yet our negligence can turn it into such, Reverend Father Garegin Hambartsumyan stated.

As the Reverend Father pointed out at August 11 news conference, Grabar is still used during church service, which makes it live on.

As the head of Tsirani cultural NGO Narek Ashughatoyan stated, free Grabar lessons are held under the organization aegis. To increase public awareness, Grabar: Language of Ancestors documentary premiere was held on August 10 in Yerevan.

“Grabar, the language our ancient literature was written in, takes us closer to our roots,” Narek Ashughatoyan emphasized at news conference.

In future, documentary screening in Armenian universities, as well as TV broadcast is planned.

More info:

Grabar Cheat Sheet - fun!  And some historical background on classical Armenian (Grabar).
Wikipedia info

I believe that, along with Sanskrit, Armenian is considered by linguists one of the "purest" languages still in use today showing directly relation to many proto-Indo-European words. 

Preserving Ancient Languages: Inuktun

Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language
By Thair Shaikh, CNN
August 13, 2010 1:21 p.m. EDT

London, England (CNN) -- A British anthropologist is setting out on a year-long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions.

Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in north-west Greenland, the world's most northernmost people, and record their conversations and story-telling traditions to try and preserve their language.

The Inughuit, who speak Inuktun, a "pure" Inuit dialect, are under increasing political and climactic pressure to move south, says Leonard.

"They have around 10 to 15 years left in their present location, then climate change and politics will force them to move south and they will be assimilated into a different culture, into a broader community, and their way of life will be lost," Leonard told CNN.

Leonard, who flies out to Copenhagen on Sunday before heading to Greenland, says there are about 1,000 speakers of Inuktun, an undocumented language.

Although most Inughuit are trilingual, also speaking Danish and Greenlandic, their primary language is still Inuktun.

"There is no doubt that this is a major linguistic challenge... they speak a very pure form of Inuit, partly because of their geographic isolation. Their entire culture is based on a story-telling culture."
Leonard, an anthropological linguist at Cambridge University, England, is under no doubt about the physical and cultural hurdles that face him. The average temperature is minus 25 degrees Celsius, although it can fall to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter.

Inughuit, which is the name of the northern Inuits, are hunter-gatherers; they do not have a cash economy and the men can spend weeks away from home hunting for walruses, seals and other mammals. They still use dog sleds in the winter and kayaks in the summer.

Hivshu, an Inughuit who now lives in Sweden, helped Leonard establish contacts with his former community in Greenland.

He has written about the Inughuit way of life on his website: "Even before I went to school I began assisting my father when he was out hunting, summer or winter, no difference. That was the way I heard the stories about my ancestors and their songs told and sung by the old people as it was a tradition to tell the stories and sing the traditional drum songs of Inuit to all of us during the hunting."

Leonard says he is determined to become a part of their community and plans to hunt with the men if he is allowed.

He is taking solid-state audio recorders that should work in the freezing conditions and plans to produce an "ethnography of speaking."

That he hopes will be a permanent record that shows how their language and culture are interconnected.

Linguist on mission to save Inuit 'fossil language' disappearing with the ice
Cambridge researcher will live in Arctic and document Inughuit culture and language threatened by climate change

Mark Brown, arts correspondent
The Guardian, Friday 13 August 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

90th City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

90th City of Montreal Open Chess Championships
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
September 10 - 12, 2010

WGM Salome Melia (center), 2009 Woman Champion
of City of Montreal Chess Championships, and friends,
at the playing venue - dig the checkerboard floor!
A great time was had by all, and memories for all time.
We struck up a friendship last year with Club Ahuntsic, organizer of the City of Montreal Open Chess Championships. Goddesschess sponsored class prizes for chess femmes in the 2009 Championnat and helped fund the appearance of WGM Salome Melia of Georgia, who finished in second place overall in the Championnat. Melia won the title "Woman Champion of Montreal."

2010 is the 90th year of the Championnat. Wow! Early on, Goddesschess and Club Ahuntsic planned for a 'bigger and better' Championnat. Club Ahuntsic sought out - and obtained - increased sponsorship for prizes -- $6,000 guaranteed in 2010! Ahuntsic also obtained - a fantastic new venue, beautiful and spacious, with many amenities onsite (including food!)and easier access from around the greater Montreal area via Metro (subway) and city bus. More information in general on the 90th Championnat and surroundings (how to get there, where to stay, etc.)

This is just the kind of local event Goddesschess wishes to support in hopes of attracting more local chess femmes to come and play! We set our budget and offered a fixed amount to fund both class prizes and assitance in obtaining the appearance of another WGM or rising female star or stars of chess.

This year, 2009 Woman Champion WGM Melia is playing on the Georgian Women's Olympiad Team and was not able to return to Montreal to defend her title.

2010 being a FIDE Chess Olympiad year, our search for a WGM to come to Montreal to play in the Championnat and be a role model for the local female chessplayers was - complicated. A list of WGMs as well as WIM stars and non-titled rising female chessplayers was compiled. Within the budget, could we find one or perhaps more'rising star'female chessplayers to play in the 90th Championnat?

Things are up in the air at the moment, and we've got our fingers, toes, eyes, arms, legs, ears, knees, legs, ankles and any other flexible joints crossed in hopes of good news at the last moment -

Here is some good news - the Goddesschess class prizes for chess femmes who play in the 2010 Championnat:

Section B (-2000 to 1600): $45; $35
Section C (-1600 to 1200): $35, $25
Section D (-12,000 - unr): $25, $15

More good news - the 2010 Championnat has once again entered into a special arrangement with Montreal's Chess 'n Math to encourage qualifying Chess 'n Math students to play in the Championnat. 2009 was the first time this took place, and the "experiment" was a great success for all involved! We hope to repeat last year's success, which resulted in an influx of younger male and female chessplayers, who gained valuable experience (we hope) on their end and enfused a new energy and enthusiasm into the mix of veteran players :)

Goddesschess' Don McLean will again be at the Championnat with his electronic gizmos to record this and that at the Championnat - still photos, videos and live interviews - see his impressions of the 2009 Championnat.

For Goddesschess, this is not just another chess event, it's one of our hometowns and that makes it particularly special. The 89th Championnat saw a record number of chess femmes sign up and play, and that is music to our hearts :) That is what we want to encourage! We hope to break that record for the 90th Championnat!

If you live in the greater Montreal area (or anywhere, actually!), please come out to play in the Championnat.Registration/information in English; registration/information in FrenchRegistration form in English

Want to know where to stay and what to visit when you come to Montreal?  Check out my post below on 36 Hours in Montreal. The Chess Goddess must be smiling upon us, because (as far as I know) none of us can command The New York Times to produce an article on "36 Hours in Montreal..." - and yet - it appeared!  Ta dah!  I added a few tid-bits that I experienced up close and personal for the discerning traveler to heed or disregard :) 

36-Hours in Montreal

From the popular The New York Times travel serial:

Published: August 12, 2010

FRENCH or English? One of the beautiful things about Montreal is that you never know in what language you will be greeted. Which brings up a second thing: Maybe it’s the good food, the open skies or the free-spirited students who call this city their campus, but the folks of Montreal are friendly. Ask someone for directions in the Métro, part of the vast Underground City that stays toasty during the winter, and you may end up making drinks plans later. That’s not a bad thing, bien sûr. With the city’s music-charged night life, slaughterhouse-chic restaurants and post-industrial revival, it helps to have a guide.

4:30 p.m.

Public bikes are sweeping Europe, so leave it to Montreal, “the other Paris,” to popularize the concept in North America. Some 5,000 gray-and-red Bixi bikes were deployed last spring, becoming an instant hit. Familiarize yourself with the system: it’s as easy as swiping a credit card at one of the 400 Bixi stations and going for a spin. (Go to for details.) It’s one of the quickest ways to get around and, at 5 Canadian dollars (about the same in U.S. dollars) for 24 hours, among the cheapest. To find the nearest Bixi station, including a large one on Rue McGill with 20 docks, download one of the many iPhone apps that offer real-time updates on available bikes including Bixou Lite (free).

5 p.m.

A bike is only as good as the network it’s on. And Montreal delivers, with 310-plus miles of bike lanes that crisscross the city, about half of which are physically separated from cars. To see why Montreal was designated a Unesco City of Design in 2006, point your handlebars toward the Lachine Canal, a former industrial waterfront that has been transformed into a lush green belt. The path is dotted with architectural gems like Habitat 67 (2600, avenue Pierre-Dupuy;, the Brutalist-style experiment in modular housing designed by Moshe Safdie. Or pedal along Boulevard de Maisonneuve, which cuts through downtown Montreal, where a 2.1-mile path was recently named after the late Claire Morissette, a cycling activist.

8 p.m.

Maybe it’s the hype, but Toqué!, once praised by critics as the city’s best restaurant, seems to have slipped. The most memorable thing about a recent dinner was the high price: 200 Canadian dollars for two, not including wine. Happily, Normand Laprise, who pioneered the use of fresh Québécois ingredients at Toqué!, opened a midpriced sister restaurant this summer, Brasserie t! (1425, rue Jeanne Mance; 514-282-0808; Situated at the foot of the Contemporary Art Museum, the brasserie looks like a sleek cargo container. Inside, a contemporary French menu showcases unfussy dishes like grilled flank steak and cod brandade; early reviews have been favorable. Dinner for two: 60 dollars, without wine.

10 p.m.

The music snobs may have moved on, but it’s still impossible to talk about the Mile End district without name-dropping bands like Arcade Fire and the gritty stages that gave them their start. The beloved Green Room recently closed because of a fire, but upstart bands are still jamming at Divan Orange (4234, boulevard St.-Laurent; 514-840-9090; Farther east, with a bigger stage and sound, is Il Motore (179, rue Jean-Talon Ouest; To see who’s playing, pick up either of the two free art weeklies, Hour or Mirror.

10 a.m.

While Mile End is still the place to hear bands, its retail scene has cooled off. The action has shifted to Old Montreal, where historic cobblestones and high foot traffic ensures the survival of indie boutiques. For homegrown designers like Denis Gagnon and Arielle de Pinto, squeeze inside Reborn (231, rue St.-Paul Ouest; 514-499-8549;, a small shop with a sharp eye. Down the block is À Table Tout Le Monde (361, rue St.-Paul Ouest; 514-750-0311;, an elegant store that carries exquisitely crafted ceramics and housewares. And while you’re exploring the historic district, drop into DHC Art (451, rue St.-Jean; 514-849-3742;, one of the city’s leading contemporary art galleries.

1 p.m.

Blame it on the poutine and foie gras, but Montreal was early to the nose-to-tail game, with countless meat-centric restaurants around town. But how many can also claim their own organic garden out back? That’s one of the surprises at McKiernan (2485, rue Notre-Dame Ouest; 514-759-6677;, the latest in a mini-empire of restaurants from the same trio behind the much-hyped Joe Beef and Liverpool House, which are next door. Another surprise? McKiernan might look like a farm-stand luncheonette, with checkered wax paper liners and tin baskets, but the food is top flight. Try the porchetta tacos, made with fresh tortillas (11 dollars).

4 p.m.

For the third summer in a row, the aptly named Gay Village has been closed off to traffic, creating a pedestrian mall along Rue Ste.-Catherine. But unless you want to start drinking at this hour, there’s not much to do. A more inviting strip is around the corner, along Rue Amherst, where a string of design shops, some gay-owned, have sprung up. Start at Headquarters Galerie + Boutique (No. 1649; 514-678-2923; for novelties and such, then pop into Antiquités Curiosités (No. 1769; 514-525-8772), crammed with little treasures. One of the smallest is also the nicest, Montreal Modern (No. 1851; 514-293-7903;, which feels like a midcentury modern jewel box.

8 p.m.

A neighborhood wine bar that happens to serve terrific food is one of those pleasures that make Paris, well, Paris. That’s the vibe at Buvette Chez Simone (4869, avenue du Parc; 514-750-6577;, an oaky bar in Mile End with sly design touches and a comfy brasserie menu. A roast chicken, served on a carving board with roasted potatoes, plus a green salad, is about 50 dollars for two. If you’re hankering for more inventive fare, bike over to Pullman (3424, avenue du Parc; 514-288-7779;, a high-end tapas bar that serves clever plates like venison tartare, foie gras cookies, and olives with candied lemon (2 to 18 dollars each). The crowd at both restaurants skews young, fashionable and chatty.

10 p.m.

In another sign of Euro-flair, techno music is huge in Montreal. And one of the coolest parties is thrown by Neon (, a digital music collective that has showcased a who’s who of electronic artists like Glass Candy and Hudson Mohawke. Many events take place at Le Belmont Sur Le Boulevard (4483, boulevard St.-Laurent; 514-845-8443;, an intimate club that has a pool table up front, and a pulsing sound system in the rear. For a more analog vibe, head to Velvet Speakeasy (420, rue St.-Gabriel;, a posh club that opened last October in the Old Port district.

11 a.m.

For a delightful brunch served in an old town house with communal tables, look no farther than Le Cartet (106, rue McGill; 514-871-8887). Part cafe, part grocery store, Le Cartet draws young families and professionals with hearty platters of eggs that come with figs, cheese and salad greens (about 16 dollars). On your way out, feel free to stock up on crusty baguettes, French mustards and picnic cheeses.

2 p.m.

If the sun is out, join Montreal’s barefoot and pierced crowd at Piknic Électronik (, an outdoor rave held on Île Ste.-Hélène during the summer. Bike or take the Métro to Jean-Drapeau Park, and follow the slithering beats to the Man, a giant sculpture created by Alexander Calder for the 1967 Expo. It hovers over the dance floor, like a space-age cathedral. The leafy island has other architectural ruins from the Expo. Between beats, stroll over to the Montreal Biosphere (, the iconic geodesic dome that still evokes a utopian vision of technology. It’s also a good place to meet friends.


Multiple airlines, including Air Canada, American Airlines and Continental, fly nonstop to Montreal from New York. A recent Web search found round-trip fares starting at about $340. The scenic drive from New York takes roughly seven hours, and is an easy trip up Interstate 87.

Montreal’s newest luxury property, the 123-room Le St.-Martin Hôtel Particulier (980, boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest; 514-843-3000;, opened in June in a 17-story building downtown with an outdoor pool and fitness center. Rooms from about 225 Canadian dollars.

Le Petit Hôtel (168, rue St.-Paul Ouest; 514-940-0360; opened in 2009 in a 19th-century building in Old Montreal with 24 cozy but modern rooms. Rooms start from 148 to 188 dollars, depending on season.
Having visited Montreal several times since 2001, my recommendations for a great visit:

Stay at Hotel Europa downtown or the Econo Lodge near Rue St. Lawrence

Eat at Mr. Steer - good food - an extensive menu, modest prices, and you can get wine and beer, too

Drink at McLean's Pub - a sports bar in an antique atmosphere.  A beautiful, high bar, comfy bar stools and t.v.s all over the place. Munchies, appetizers and actual food too, should you be so inclined.  Mr. Don and I spent more than a few hours arguing over our drinks at McLeans :)

Visit Chinatown, the historical museum, explore all along Rue St. Lawrence and Rue St. Catherine -- tons of quirky shops, great dash-in and dash-out delis and quick restaurants, bars, bookstores, too much to talk about, always something new and fascinating (well, at least to me).

Cafe Pi - public chess venue and art gallery extraordinaire!

Concordia University (way fun riding up and down the escalators and visiting various floors in the public buildings -- this is a vertical university, not a horizontal one).  Fab library!  Okay, I guess only historians like fab libraries, but Mr. Don and I found books there we couldn't find anywhere else, not even at McGill!

McGill University - great mini-museum with some incredibly rare ancient artifacts, and another fab library!

Botannical Gardens (spend an entire day there, actually - gorgeous, simply gorgeous)

Like churches?  Visit the downsized replica of the Notre Dame Cathedral in the Old City, and a must see, where the crutches from all of the miraculously healed visitors over the years are displayed, St. Joseph's, up on a hill; the view from the great terrace is windy but incredible, and the squirrels are very people-tame, curious and friendly.  Offer some food and they will walk right up your leg to your hand!  Do not be a jerk and fake them out.

Bulgaria and St. John the Baptist: The Latest --

Die Presse: Bulgarian Minister Spoils Archaeology Discovery
Archaeology | August 12, 2010, Thursday

This is hilarious - a follow-up on the battle between the Bulgarian Diaspora Minister and certain archaeologists.  The article of Die Presse argues that there is not sufficient evidence yet about the origin of the relics pointing out that Dimitrov’s claims are essentially based on an inscription that contains the name “John” and his “archaeology of the soul of the medieval person” which the historian believes is sufficient to declare that there were no fake relics placed in church buildings in the Middle Ages.

No fake relics were placed in church buildings in the Middle Ages - ha ha ha! Ohmygoddess!

From the ridiculous to the ridiculously sublime:

Bulgarian Diaspora Minister Said to Profit from Obscure Book Deals
August 12, 2010, Thursday

The Bulgarian paper 168 Chasa Weekly reports in its Friday issue that in the last few years the controversial minister and famous historian got contracts with the municipalities in Southeast Bulgaria for books that he authored and that were published by a firm called Akshaena 2007, of which 1/3 is owned by his daughter Maria Dimitrova.

The weekly paper has entitled its article using a word play of Dimitrov’s name and his recent notorious statements after the discovery of the alleged relics of St. John the Baptist in Sozopol, in which he called the Bulgarians and the Bulgarian archaeologists “fucking people.” A rough translation into English of the title of the 168 Chasa article is “Fuckidar Fuckerov”.

Oh my Goddess!

But now, thanks to The Wall Street Journal, the true reason for all of the silly macho-man demonstrations (did you know that "macho" actually has it roots in the words for "stupid goat?"  True!)  Of course, darlings, it comes down to money money money - MONEY!

AUGUST 13, 2010
Bulgaria Looks to John the Baptist to Resurrect Flagging Economy
Archeological Find Promises Fame, Tourists; Questions Remain Over Relics' Authenticity

SOZOPOL, Bulgaria—Archaeologists and clerics here say they have unearthed bones belonging to John the Baptist, an itinerant preacher revered by many Christians as the last of the Old Testament prophets.

Bulgaria's government is looking to the discovery for salvation—of a financial sort.

The remains, including a skull fragment and a tooth, were uncovered last month during the excavation of a fourth-century monastery on St. Ivan Island, off Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. They were in a sealed reliquary buried next to a tiny urn inscribed with St. John's name and his birth date.

Officials of this recession-scarred country think the purported relics will give a big boost to tourism, drawing believers from neighboring Orthodox Christian countries to this nearby resort town,

Tens of millions of dollars have already been earmarked to prepare for an anticipated surge in visitors. Construction crews are enlarging the port and building a big new parking lot. Tour guides are being rewritten and new signs are going up to direct people to the relics.

"I'm not religious but these relics are in the premier league," says Simeon Djankov, Bulgaria's finance minister and an avowed atheist. "The revenue potential for Bulgaria is clear."

Bulgaria's Orthodox church hierarchy has declared that the bones are authentic. "This is a holy find. It doesn't matter about the science," says Metropolitan Bishop Joanikii of Sliven, who oversees church affairs in Sozopol. "The holy relics of St. John radiate miraculous force. I cannot explain it by using words."

Kazimir Popkonstantinov, the archaeologist responsible for the finding in Sozopol and now hailed as a national hero, insists his discovery is in the same league as the Shroud of Turin. "This kind of discovery happens perhaps once every two hundred years," he says. "We have very strong proof that this is genuine. I know this is very important for the whole Christian world."

Some experts, however, are skeptical about the origin of the bones—as well as their earnings potential. Michael Hesemann, a religious historian who helps the Vatican date relics, says the bone fragments "appear to be authentic." But he thinks they lack the "box-office draw" of better-known religious attractions such as the Shroud, which believers say is Christ's burial cloth.

For its part, the Roman Catholic church says the matter requires more study. The Vatican's Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology said tests to gauge the age of the bones and other factors would have to be weighed before it could judge their provenance.

News of the find, meanwhile, is already drawing visitors. At the local church of St. George, where the presumed relics are now on temporary display in a silver chest donated by Bulgaria's prime minister, hundreds of faithful line up for a chance to view the bones, mouthing prayers and making the sign of the cross.

The church says attendance at daily mass has jumped from about 100 to more than 3,000. Church officials say they are selling more votive candles in a day now than they used to sell in a year, and have just ordered another two tons of them to meet projected demand.

Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest nation, could use an economic miracle. The country's gross domestic product shrank 5% last year and contracted another 3.6% in the first three months of this year. Manufacturing has languished, and unemployment has climbed.

To help pull Bulgaria out of its worst recession since the collapse of communism here 20 years ago, the government is looking to promote tourism. Touting the relics is part of that plan. Mr. Djankov, the finance minister, says he wants to double government spending on the development of religious tourism so "we can make this history profitable."

Religious pilgrimages are big business globally, according to the World Tourism Organization, which estimates that up to 330 million faithful visit the world's key religious sites every year. Lourdes, the French town where worshippers believe the Virgin Mary appeared in 1858, draws about 5 million visitors annually.

The bones, though, make Bulgaria a member of a not-so-exclusive club of nations that say they are home to pieces of John the Baptist, who was beheaded on the orders of King Herod. Ancient tradition has held that his severed head was entombed in Herod's Jerusalem palace.

Over time, body parts believed to be St. John's have spread across Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. A church in Calcutta, India, claims to house part of a saintly hand.

The cathedral in Aachen, Germany, says it has the cloth used to wrap St. John's head after his decapitation. The Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, former seat of the Ottoman emperors, also claims to hold parts of one of St. John's arms and his head.

The presence of the relics of St. John hasn't translated into a tourist bonanza in any of these other resting places. Still, authorities in Bulgaria remain optimistic.

Orthodox Christians hold John the Baptist, who according to some accounts baptized Jesus, in especially high esteem. Services every Tuesday are dedicated to his memory in Orthodox churches.

There are some encouraging signs. Milenna Dimitrova, who has been selling fresh berries, figs and jams for 20 years from a stall here, says business has been so brisk that she doesn't have time to go to church. "The season was awful before—this is clearly a gift from God," she says.

Still, the hotel business in Sozopol continues to languish. Stanimir Stoyanov, a veteran hotelier who now runs the Hotel Duma, says occupancy is down by about a third since last year. "The government are telling us the town will become the next Jerusalem," he says. "We just hope that they're right."

2010 Juniors and Girls U-20 World Championships

WIM Alisa Melekhina didn't win or draw against Muzychuk (a hard task, indeed!), who has had a fabulous performance thus far, 9.0/10. Melekhina dropped down a few spots, from 4th place, within striking distance of a bronze medal, to 6th place.  So, she's got a hard job ahead of her if she hopes to place in the medals.  WGM Olga Girya is holding a game off pace and second place with another incredible performance, 8.0/10.

Current standings after R10 (top placements):

Pl Name Ti NAT. RtgI Pts ∑Rn-1 Prog. 1 Muzychuk, Anna IM SLO 2527 9.0 20464 50.0
2 Girya, Olga WGM RUS 2376 8.0 20467 45.5
3 Mammadova, Gulnar Marfat WFM AZE 2260 7.5 20618 42.5
4 Padmini, Rout WGM IND 2275 7.5 20424 45.5
5 Bhakti, Kulkarni Pradip CM IND 2249 7.0 19951 40.0
6 Melekhina, Alisa WIM USA 2265 7.0 19887 41.0
7 Guramishvili, Sopiko WGM GEO 2298 7.0 19848 39.5
8 Severiukhina, Zoja WIM RUS 2341 7.0 19536 37.0
9 Corke, Anya WGM ENG 2257 7.0 19076 36.0
10 Warakomska, Anna WFM POL 2192 7.0 18960 36.5
11 Muminova, Nafisa WIM UZB 2290 6.5 20442 44.0
12 Nakhbayeva, Guliskhan WIM KAZ 2216 6.5 19970 39.0
13 Pavlidou, Ekaterini WIM GRE 2182 6.5 19832 39.5

Pairings for R11:

1 [7.0] 16 2249 IND Bhakti, Kulkarni Pradip - Muzychuk, Anna SLO 2527 1 [9.0] 1
2 [8.0] 3 2376 RUS Girya, Olga - Mammadova, Gulnar Marfat AZE 2260 13 [7.5] 2
3 [7.5] 11 2275 IND Padmini, Rout - Severiukhina, Zoja RUS 2341 4 [7.0] 3
4 [7.0] 25 2192 POL Warakomska, Anna - Guramishvili, Sopiko GEO 2298 6 [7.0] 4
5 [7.0] 12 2265 USA Melekhina, Alisa - Corke, Anya ENG 2257 14 [7.0] 5
6 [6.5] 20 2216 KAZ Nakhbayeva, Guliskhan - Pavlidou, Ekaterini GRE 2182 26 [6.5] 6
7 [6.0] 22 2207 HUN Toth, Sarolta - Muminova, Nafisa UZB 2290 8 [6.5] 7
8 [6.0] 23 2194 RUS Semenova, Elena - Cori Tello, Deysi Estela PER 2403 2 [6.0] 8

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2010 Juniors and Girls U-20 World Chess Championships

WIM Alisa Melkhina playing for the USA has moved into 4th place (from 7th) after a R 9 victory against WIM Nafisa Muminova of Uzbekistan.  Four more rounds to go.  Here are the top standings after R9 (81 players):

Pl Name Ti NAT. RtgI Pts ∑Rn-1 Prog.
1 Muzychuk, Anna IM SLO 2527 8.0 18199 41.0
2 Girya, Olga WGM RUS 2376 7.0 18285 37.5
3 Padmini, Rout WGM IND 2275 7.0 18126 38.0
4 Melekhina, Alisa WIM USA 2265 7.0 17360 34.0
5 Mammadova, Gulnar Marfat WFM AZE 2260 6.5 18328 35.0
6 Muminova, Nafisa WIM UZB 2290 6.5 18182 37.5
7 Guramishvili, Sopiko WGM GEO 2298 6.5 17573 32.5
8 Pavlidou, Ekaterini WIM GRE 2182 6.5 17456 33.0
9 Ohme, Melanie WIM GER 2326 6.0 17711 34.0
10 Bhakti, Kulkarni Pradip CM IND 2249 6.0 17669 33.0
11 Heredia Serrano, Carla Sofia WIM ECU 2080 6.0 17577 28.0
12 Severiukhina, Zoja WIM RUS 2341 6.0 17329 30.0
13 Corke, Anya WGM ENG 2257 6.0 16996 29.0
14 Toth, Sarolta WFM HUN 2207 6.0 16936 30.5
15 Warakomska, Anna WFM POL 2192 6.0 16634 29.5

Outstanding performance also by Padmini Rout of India, currently in third place.  Highest rated Anna Muzychuk continues to lead.

Top pairings for R10 tomorrow:

1 [8.0] 1 2527 SLO Muzychuk, Anna - Melekhina, Alisa USA 2265 12 [7.0] 1
2 [6.5] 26 2182 GRE Pavlidou, Ekaterini - Girya, Olga RUS 2376 3 [7.0] 2
3 [6.5] 6 2298 GEO Guramishvili, Sopiko - Padmini, Rout IND 2275 11 [7.0] 3
4 [6.5] 8 2290 UZB Muminova, Nafisa - Mammadova, Gulnar Marfat AZE 2260 13 [6.5] 4
5 [6.0] 4 2341 RUS Severiukhina, Zoja - Toth, Sarolta HUN 2207 22 [6.0] 5
6 [6.0] 5 2326 GER Ohme, Melanie - Warakomska, Anna POL 2192 25 [6.0] 6
7 [6.0] 14 2257 ENG Corke, Anya - Heredia Serrano, Carla Sofia ECU 2080 44 [6.0] 7
8 [5.5] 10 2282 CZE Nemcova, Katerina - Bhakti, Kulkarni Pradip IND 2249 16 [6.0] 8

2,000 Year Old Gold Coin Found in Israel

Aug 12, 2010, 12:04 GMT

Jerusalem - Archaeologists working in Israel have uncovered a rare 2,200-year-old gold coin, the heaviest and with the highest contemporary value of any found in excavations in the country, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Thursday.

The coin, uncovered in the northern area of Tel Kedesh on the border with Lebanon, was minted in Alexandria in 191 BC and bears the name of Arsinoe II Philadephus, the wife of Ptolemy II Philadephus.

The face of the coin depicts Arsinoe II, and the reverse side shows two overlapping cornucopias decorated with fillets. The coin, which weighs around 28 grams, is almost six times heavier than other ancient gold coins previously found in Israel.

According to Dr Donald T. Ariel, head of the Coin Department at the IAA, the find is 'beautiful and in excellent preservation.'

'This extraordinary coin was apparently not in popular or commercial use, but had a symbolic function. The coin may have had a ceremonial function related to a festival in honour of Queen Arsinoe, who was deified in her lifetime,' he said.

He noted that it was 'rare' to find gold coins in Israel which dated from after the area came under Seleucid rule, around 200 BC.

Prior to that, the region was ruled by the Syrian-Hellenic Ptolomies. The only other gold Ptolemic coin found in Israel weighs less than two grams,' Ariel said.

The excavations at Tel Kedesh have been under way since 1997 and have so far uncovered a large Persian/Hellenistic administrative building, complete with reception halls, dining facilities, store rooms and an archive.

Iranian Woman Condemned to Death by Stoning Allegedly Confesses on TV

Yeah, right.  Well, I doubt anyone anywhere else in the world except inside Iran will believe that was actually the condemned woman confessing to assisting with a murder, etc. on live television.  I believe the woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, is already dead and the security forces who actually run the country put a ringer in her place.  To conceal their crime, the authorities (1) pixilated the t.v. image of the woman's face and (2) did a voice over so the audience did not actually hear her voice.  Thus, relatives, friends and her attorneys who have worked very closely with this victim of the Iranian "justice" system cannot positively identify that it was - or was not - her, except perhaps by body gestures.  Those, and voice, cannot be faked for long, no matter how good an actress someone may be.

Here is the article from the
Iran stoning woman 'to be executed after confessing to murder' on state TV
An Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning could be hanged imminently after she apparently confessed to adultery in an interview aired on state television, her lawyer has said.

Published: 1:14PM BST 12 Aug 2010

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani appeared to confess to being an accomplice to her husband’s murder and criticised her lawyer for publicising her case, saying it had brought shame on her family.

But her lawyer said she had been tortured before the interview was recorded in a prison in Tabriz.
“She was severely beaten up and tortured until she accepted to appear in front of camera,” Houtan Kian told The Guardian.

The lawyer, whose location was not clear, said he feared Iranian authorities would act quickly to carry out the death sentence. Her punishment was reportedly commuted to hanging after an international outcry against her sentencing to death by stoning last month.

The International Committee Against Stoning, a human rights campaign group, called the TV interview “toxic propaganda”. Miss Ashtiani had previously denied the adultery accusations.

With her face blurred and her words voiced over to translate them into Farsi from local dialect, it was not immediately possible to independently verify the identity of the woman in the film, which was broadcast in Iran at 8.30pm on Wednesday.

In the interview, the woman describes how she had struck up a relationship with her husband’s cousin.

“He told me: ‘Let’s kill your husband’. I totally could not believe that my husband would be killed. I thought he was joking,” Miss Ashtiani appears to say. “Later, I found out that killing was his profession.

“He came (to our house) and brought all the stuff. He brought electrical devices, plus wire and gloves. Later, he killed my husband by connecting him to the electricity,” she says.

The head of the judiciary of Iran's East Azerbaijan province told the television programme that Miss Ashtiani had injected an anaesthetic into her husband.

“After the husband went unconscious, the real murderer killed the victim by connecting electricity to his neck,” he said.

It was not clear whether the cousin had been arrested.

Miss Ashtiani, a mother of two, has already received 99 lashes for having an illicit relationship with two men. The stoning sentence has been suspended pending a judicial review but could still be carried out, an Iranian judiciary official has said.

Murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, apostasy and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Iran’s Islamic law, enforced since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Mohammad Mostafaei, a lawyer for Miss Ashtiani who fled to Europe after the verdict, told Reuters in an interview earlier this week that Miss Ashtiani, who was convicted of “adultery while being married”, would likely be spared stoning thanks to international pressure.

Iranian authorities have issued a warrant for Mr Mostafaei’s arrest and held his wife in jail for two weeks in an attempt to get him to return to Iran, he said.

The show’s host said Western media had given the case so much publicity in the hope of pressuring Iran to release three Americans who have been in prison for more than a year after being arrested near the Iraqi border where, their families say, they were hiking.
The Iranian regime keeps managing to deliver the same message over and over: those in charge are incredibly inept dildo-heads. But they control the Iranian media, so they control the message inside their country, and there will always be mindless followers who drink the coolaide and go along.  It really must irk those in control, though, knowing that the rest of the world is laughing at them and holds them in utter contempt and derision.  If it did not bother them, they would not waste their time staging such an obviously fake confession or engage in such juvenile theatrics that fools prhaps 10% of the population inside Iran.  Such behavior smacks of insecurity and desperation. 

Syria, please do us a favor - drop a small H-bomb on the Iranian fearless leaders during prayer session some Friday, thanks. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2010 Juniors and Girls U-20 World Championships

R 8 Girls' is completed - and WIM Alisa Melekhina of the USA has moved up from 9th place to 7th place.  Way to go, Alisa, yeaaaaaahhhhhhh!  There are five more rounds to go.  IM Anna Muzychuk, who outrates all the rest of the young ladies by at least 150 points, has control of first place, but her margin of victory has narrowed.  Here are the top 25:

28th WJun Girls Chotowa (POL), 3-16 viii 2010
Leading Round 8 (of 13) Standings:

Pl Name Ti NAT. RtgI Pts ∑Rn-1 Prog.
1 Muzychuk, Anna IM SLO 2527 7.0 15901 33.0
2 Muminova, Nafisa WIM UZB 2290 6.5 15917 31.0
3 Guramishvili, Sopiko WGM GEO 2298 6.5 15046 26.0
4 Girya, Olga WGM RUS 2376 6.0 16036 30.5
5 Padmini, Rout WGM IND 2275 6.0 15869 31.0
6 Bhakti, Kulkarni Pradip CM IND 2249 6.0 15293 27.0
7 Melekhina, Alisa WIM USA 2265 6.0 15070 27.0
8 Corke, Anya WGM ENG 2257 6.0 14721 23.0
9 Mammadova, Gulnar Marfat WFM AZE 2260 5.5 16195 28.5
10 Iwanow, Anna WFM POL 2097 5.5 15498 23.0
11 Ohme, Melanie WIM GER 2326 5.5 15495 28.0
12 Pavlidou, Ekaterini WIM GRE 2182 5.5 15359 26.5
13 Andrenko, Irina WIM UKR 2133 5.5 14881 21.0
14 Abdulla, Khayala Mardan AZE 2193 5.0 15684 24.5
15 Nakhbayeva, Guliskhan WIM KAZ 2216 5.0 15547 27.0
16 Heredia Serrano, Carla Sofia WIM ECU 2080 5.0 15424 22.0
17 Newrkla, Katharina AUT 2105 5.0 15313 21.5
18 Severiukhina, Zoja WIM RUS 2341 5.0 15224 24.0
19 Kulon, Klaudia WFM POL 2230 5.0 15098 24.0
20 Tsirulnik, Maritsa UKR 2153 5.0 15089 22.5
21 Kaya, Emel TUR 2015 5.0 15067 19.5
22 Toth, Sarolta WFM HUN 2207 5.0 14921 24.5
23 Baciu, Diana WFM MDA 2127 5.0 14905 22.0
24 Warakomska, Anna WFM POL 2192 5.0 14404 23.5
25 Ziaziulkina, Nastassia WIM BLR 2293 4.5 15946 27.5

A Linguistic Mystery

Ooooohhh, the best kind of mystery!

10 August 2010 Last updated at 20:05 ET
Ancient language mystery deepens
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

A linguistic mystery has arisen surrounding symbol-inscribed stones in Scotland that predate the formation of the country itself.

The stones are believed to have been carved by members of an ancient people known as the Picts, who thrived in what is now Scotland from the 4th to the 9th Centuries.

These symbols, researchers say, are probably "words" rather than images. But their conclusions have raised criticism from some linguists.

The research team, led by Professor Rob Lee from Exeter University in the UK, examined symbols on more than 200 carved stones. They used a mathematical method to quantify patterns contained within the symbols, in an effort to find out if they conveyed meaning.

Professor Lee described the basis of this method.

"If I told you the first letter of a word in English was 'Q' and asked you to predict the next letter, you would probably say 'U' and you would probably be right," he explained. "But if I told you the first letter was 'T' you would probably take many more guesses to get it right - that's a measure of uncertainty."

Using the symbols, or characters, from the stones, Prof Lee and his colleagues measured this feature of so-called "character to character uncertainty".  They concluded that the Pictish carvings were "symbolic markings that communicated information" - that these were words rather than pictures.

The Kingdom of the Picts
Prof Lee first published these conclusions in April of this year. But a recent article by French linguist Arnaud Fournet opened up the mystery once again. Mr Fournet said that, by examining Pictish carvings as if they were "linear symbols", and by applying the rules of written language to them, the scientists could have produced biased results.

He told BBC News: "It looks like their method is transforming two-dimensional glyphs into a one-dimensional string of symbols.

"The carvings must have some kind of purpose - some kind of meanings, but... it's very difficult to determine if their conclusion is contained in the raw data or if it's an artefact of their method."

Mr Fournet also suggested that the researchers' methods should be tested and verified for other ancient symbols.

"The line between writing and drawing is not as clear cut as categorised in the paper," Mr Fournet wrote in his article. "On the whole the conclusion remains pending."

But Prof Lee says that his most recent analysis of the symbols, which has yet to be published, has reinforced his original conclusions. He also stressed he did not claim that the carvings were a full and detailed record of the Pictish language.

"The symbols themselves are a very constrained vocabulary," he said. "But that doesn't mean that Pictish had such a constrained vocabulary."

He said the carvings might convey the same sort of meaning as a list, perhaps of significant names, which would explain the limited number of words used.

"It's like finding a menu for a restaurant [written in English], and that being your sole repository of the English language."
The fact that so many different "knights" are depicted is fascinating.  And just what is that structure (?) at the top of the pylon, it looks like an Egyptian ankh on the left side and a scale on the right side, and they are linked by a diagonal line.  What is that?  And the form in the middle at the top - call me crazy, but it looks like a "false door" from an Egyptian tomb -- definitely some kind of door or entrance.  Absolutely intriguing.  What's going on with this pylon?

2010 FIDE 5th Women's Grand Prix - Ulaanbaatar

And the winner is --- GM Hou Yifan, by half a point, after agreeing to a draw with GM Antoaneta Stefanova, to secure first and second places. GM Humpy Koneru also drew with Xu Yuhua to secure third place for herself.

R11 results:

Stefanova, Antoaneta - Hou Yifan ½-½ 60 A14 Reti Opening
Zhao Xue - Sebag, Marie ½-½ 51 D45 Anti-Meran Variations
Kosintseva, Tatiana - Yildiz, Betul Cemre 1-0 39 C78 Ruy Lopez Moeller Defence
Chiburdanidze, Maia - Shen Yang ½-½ 14 E06 Catalan
Xu Yuhua - Koneru, Humpy ½-½ 60 B80 Sicilian Scheveningen
Munguntuul, Batkhuyag - Zhu Chen 0-1 63 C60 Ruy Lopez

Final Standings:

5th FIDE GP w Ulaanbaatar (MGL), 30 vii-11 viii 2010 cat. X (2487)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2
1. Hou Yifan g CHN 2577 * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 8 2654
2. Stefanova, Antoaneta g BUL 2560 ½ * 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 7½ 2613
3. Koneru, Humpy g IND 2600 ½ 1 * 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 6½ 2542
4. Zhao Xue g CHN 2462 ½ 1 1 * 0 1 0 0 1 ½ ½ 1 6½ 2554
5. Kosintseva, Tatiana m RUS 2562 ½ 0 ½ 1 * ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 6½ 2545
6. Chiburdanidze, Maia g GEO 2514 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ * 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 6 2521
7. Xu Yuhua g CHN 2488 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 * ½ ½ ½ 1 1 5½ 2487
8. Shen Yang wg CHN 2435 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ 0 1 5 2456
9. Zhu Chen g QAT 2476 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ * 1 1 0 5 2452
10. Sebag, Marie g FRA 2519 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 0 * 1 ½ 4 2382
11. Munguntuul, Batkhuyag wg MGL 2421 0 0 1 ½ 0 0 0 1 0 0 * 1 3½ 2360
12. Yildiz, Betul Cemre wm TUR 2235 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 * 2 2248

What's up with Tatiana Kosintseva?  She is way too thin. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Do the Crime, Serve the Time

It is particularly disgusting to me as a woman to read about a woman who rapes archaeological antiquities.  Unfortunately, this one will not rot in prison, which is what she - and all those who rape antiquities - deserve.

Idaho State Journal
Woman sentenced for unauthorized excavation of archaeological resources
Posted: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 4:35 pm

Roxanne Hale, 60, of Arco, Idaho, was sentenced yesterday to three years federal probation for Unauthorized Excavation of Archaeological Resources, the United States Attorney’s Office announced. Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also ordered Hale to pay $9,265 in restitution. Hale is prohibited from being present at any archaeological sites on public lands and must have permission to be present at archaeological sites on private lands. Hale’s artifacts and sifting and digging tools seized during the search warrant were forfeited. Hale pled guilty to the charges in March 2010.

On September 12, 2008, in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, in Butte County, Idaho, Hale was found digging, without a permit, at the Wood Canyon #1 site. The Wood Canyon #1 site is a designated archaeological resource consisting of material remains of prehistoric human life and activity.

In sentencing the defendant, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill noted that everyone in the area knows that these sites should not be disturbed because of the great cultural value they have to the entire nation.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service.

2010 Juniors and Girls U-20 World Championships

Round 7 have come and gone. WIM Alisa Melekhina is rising in the standings, with 5.0/7.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of other young ladies also with 5.0 - but, she has broken into the top 10.  Can she continue to improve her position?  Seven rounds complete; six to go. 

Here are the ladies' standings after R7:

Place SNo. Title Name Fed. FIDE Total ∑Rn-1 Prog.
1 1 IM Muzychuk, Anna SLO 2527 6.5 13525 26.0
2 8 WIM Muminova, Nafisa UZB 2290 6.0 13642 24.5
3 13 WFM Mammadova, Gulnar Marfat AZE 2260 5.5 13897 23.0
4 11 WGM Padmini, Rout IND 2275 5.5 13579 25.0
5 3 WGM Girya, Olga RUS 2376 5.5 13509 24.5
6 6 WGM Guramishvili, Sopiko GEO 2298 5.5 12786 19.5
7 20 WIM Nakhbayeva, Guliskhan KAZ 2216 5.0 13290 22.0
8 44 WIM Heredia Serrano, Carla Sofia ECU 2080 5.0 13159 17.0
9 12 WIM Melekhina, Alisa USA 2265 5.0 12990 21.0
10 4 WIM Severiukhina, Zoja RUS 2341 5.0 12975 19.0
11 16 CM Bhakti, Kulkarni Pradip IND 2249 5.0 12952 21.0
12 14 WGM Corke, Anya ENG 2257 5.0 12505 17.0
13 7 WIM Ziaziulkina, Nastassia BLR 2293 4.5 13813 23.0
14 5 WIM Ohme, Melanie GER 2326 4.5 13316 22.5
15 41 WFM Iwanow, Anna POL 2097 4.5 13278 17.5
16 26 WIM Pavlidou, Ekaterini GRE 2182 4.5 13077 21.0
17 10 WGM Nemcova, Katerina CZE 2282 4.5 13048 20.0
18 22 WFM Toth, Sarolta HUN 2207 4.5 12794 19.5
19 36 WFM Baciu, Diana MDA 2127 4.5 12698 17.0
20 27 WFM Lach, Aleksandra POL 2179 4.5 12614 15.5
21 34 WIM Andrenko, Irina UKR 2133 4.5 12588 15.5
22 31 WFM Gosciniak, Maria POL 2149 4.0 13632 21.0
23 24 Abdulla, Khayala Mardan AZE 2193 4.0 13623 19.5
24 52 WFM Chierici, Marianna ITA 2016 4.0 13217 14.0
25 38 Newrkla, Katharina AUT 2105 4.0 13136 16.5
26 30 Tsirulnik, Maritsa UKR 2153 4.0 13073 17.5
27 47 WFM Osmanodja, Filiz GER 2061 4.0 12996 14.0
28 18 WFM Kulon, Klaudia POL 2230 4.0 12955 19.0
29 53 Kaya, Emel TUR 2015 4.0 12918 14.5
30 28 WFM Nesterovskaya, Anzhelika UKR 2177 4.0 12723 15.5
31 25 WFM Warakomska, Anna POL 2192 4.0 12627 18.5
32 32 WFM Exler, Veronika AUT 2143 4.0 12501 16.0
33 35 WFM Saduakassova, Dinara KAZ 2131 4.0 12428 14.5
34 73 Cyboran, Katarzyna POL 1777 4.0 12304 11.0
35 39 Forestier, Carole FRA 2103 4.0 12285 16.0
36 19 WIM Butuc, Maria RUS 2220 4.0 12266 12.0
37 23 WFM Semenova, Elena RUS 2194 4.0 12082 13.0
38 45 WFM Labedz, Patrycja POL 2076 3.5 13197 14.0
39 54 WFM Petrova, Irina UKR 2014 3.5 13151 11.0
40 17 WIM Skinke, Katrina LAT 2237 3.5 12809 18.0
41 62 WFM Guo, Emma AUS 1965 3.5 12623 13.0
42 15 WFM Olsarova, Tereza CZE 2252 3.5 12505 16.0
43 43 Mareckova, Martina CZE 2095 3.5 12463 12.0
44 37 WFM Adamowicz, Katarzyna POL 2123 3.5 12427 14.5
45 49 WFM Rysbayeva, Nazerke KAZ 2052 3.0 13497 16.0
46 46 Pratyusha, Bodda IND 2073 3.0 13443 13.0
47 59 Dragojevic, Marija SRB 1986 3.0 13106 13.0
48 51 Zmarzly, Aleksandra POL 2026 3.0 13105 13.5
49 56 Kasperek, Joanna POL 2001 3.0 12858 12.5
50 48 Deur, Zrinka CRO 2061 3.0 12850 11.0
51 2 WGM Cori Tello, Deysi Estela PER 2403 3.0 12825 14.0
52 61 Tomaszewska, Luiza POL 1968 3.0 12812 12.0
53 63 Anu, Bayar MGL 1935 3.0 12700 12.0
54 58 Unapkoshvili, Nani GEO 1997 3.0 12558 9.0
55 64 Correa, Jaqueline Pamplona BRA 1928 3.0 12493 9.5
56 33 WFM Guadamuro Torrente, Anabel ESP 2137 3.0 12459 14.0
57 50 Skrzypczak, Anna POL 2028 3.0 12299 12.0
58 9 WIM Ozturk, Kubra TUR 2286 3.0 12244 10.5
59 29 WIM Agrest, Inna SWE 2174 3.0 11991 12.0
60 40 Uta, Adeline-Ramona ROU 2099 3.0 10418 15.0
61 55 Khanamiryan, Ani ARM 2014 2.5 13175 12.0
62 69 Orehek, Spela SLO 1883 2.5 12944 11.0
63 65 Krumova, Ani BUL 1916 2.5 12566 9.0
64 21 WFM Rysbayeva, Aigerim KAZ 2209 2.5 12347 11.0
65 42 Edes, Zsofia SVK 2097 2.5 12302 10.0
66 67 Lis, Marcelina POL 1905 2.5 12273 8.5
67 57 Tonel, Giulia ITA 2001 2.5 12108 7.0
68 60 WFM Ursente, Maria-Eugenia ROU 1978 2.5 11954 7.5
69 80 Hoek, Adriana RSA 0 2.5 10050 9.0
70 70 Jablonska, Sabina POL 1876 2.0 12035 8.0
71 66 Misovic, Sanja MNE 1907 2.0 11922 5.0
72 72 Vanhuyse, Nele BEL 1779 2.0 11851 7.0
73 78 WCM Mejia, Salinas Lluvia Angélica MEX 0 2.0 11743 5.0
74 71 Lepeskaite, Migle LTU 1801 2.0 11460 7.0
75 68 WFM Ho, En Huei Danielle SIN 1898 2.0 11252 6.5
76 75 Oliver, Tamzin L AUS 1737 1.5 11888 5.5
77 76 Ferreira, Susana Carolina G POR 1726 1.5 10755 2.0
78 77 Gora, Antonina POL 1579 1.0 12521 7.0
79 81 Pedrak, Paulina POL 0 1.0 9891 7.0
80 79 Bryan-Vissi, Pearl CYP 0 1.0 9813 5.0
81 74 Rykala, Monika POL 1747 1.0 2207 7.0

7th China v. Russian Match

The 7th China vs Russia Match takes place 4th-16th August 2010.

After the standard time-rate games China lead 27-23 overall. In the men's half the score is China 15.5 - Russia 9.5. The Russian women lead 13.5-11.5.

The Rapid games (two per day) start 11th August.

The Russian ladies have tried to keep the Russian team in the match but the men didn't help much. Perhaps they will have more luck in the Rapid games phase. Here are the results of the rounds for the ladies:

Round 1 8am UK Time (August 5, 2010)
Russia 3½-1½ China
1.1 IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2551 0-1 WGM Ju Wenjun 2496
1.2 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2501 ½-½ IM Wang Yu A 2369
1.3 WGM Gunina Valentina 2462 1-0 WFM Ding Yixin 2385
1.4 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2397 1-0 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2461
1.5 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina 2352 1-0 WGM Huang Qian 2447

Round 2 8am UK Time (August 6, 2010)
China 2½-2½ Russia
1.1 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2461 ½-½ IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2551
1.2 WGM Ju Wenjun 2496 ½-½ WGM Pogonina Natalija 2501
1.3 WGM Huang Qian 2447 1-0 WGM Gunina Valentina 2462
1.4 WFM Ding Yixin 2385 0-1 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2397
1.5 IM Wang Yu A 2369 ½-½ WGM Kashlinskaya Alina 2352

Round 3 8am UK Time (August 7, 2010)
Russia 2½-2½ China
1.1 IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2551 1-0 WGM Huang Qian 2447
1.2 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2501 0-1 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2461
1.3 WGM Gunina Valentina 2462 0-1 WGM Ju Wenjun 2496
1.4 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2397 ½-½ IM Wang Yu A 2369
1.5 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina 2352 1-0 WFM Ding Yixin 2385

Round 4 8am UK Time (August 6, 2010)
China 2-3 Russia
1.1 WFM Ding Yixin 2385 0-1 IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2551
1.2 WGM Huang Qian 2447 0-1 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2501
1.3 IM Wang Yu A 2369 0-1 WGM Gunina Valentina 2462
1.4 WGM Ju Wenjun 2496 1-0 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2397
1.5 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2461 1-0 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina 2352

Round 5 8am UK Time (August 8, 2010)
Russia 2-3 China
1.1 IM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2551 ½-½ IM Wang Yu A 2369
1.2 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2501 0-1 WFM Ding Yixin 2385
1.3 WGM Gunina Valentina 2462 1-0 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2461
1.4 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia 2397 0-1 WGM Huang Qian 2447
1.5 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina 2352 ½-½ WGM Ju Wenjun 2496

2010 FIDE 5th Women's Grand Prix - Ulaanbaatar

R10 results and standings - only 1 more to go! Stefanova can win it if she defeats Hou Yifan tomorrow. Unfortunately, Humpy's loss put her out of contention. The best she can do, even with a win, is third place!

Hou Yifan - Munguntuul, Batkhuyag 1-0 44 B80 Sicilian Scheveningen
Koneru, Humpy - Zhao Xue 0-1 39 E15 Queens Indian
Shen Yang - Xu Yuhua ½-½ 24 E32 Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Zhu Chen - Chiburdanidze, Maia 1-0 48 E32 Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Sebag, Marie - Kosintseva, Tatiana 1-0 69 B69 Sicilian Rauzer
Yildiz, Betul Cemre - Stefanova, Antoaneta 0-1 39 B19 Caro Kann

1. Hou Yifan g CHN 2577 * . ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 7½ 2664
2. Stefanova, Antoaneta g BUL 2560 . * 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 7 2620
3. Koneru, Humpy g IND 2600 ½ 1 * 0 ½ 1 . 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 6 2548
4. Zhao Xue g CHN 2462 ½ 1 1 * 0 1 0 0 1 ½ . 1 6 2558
5. Kosintseva, Tatiana m RUS 2562 ½ 0 ½ 1 * ½ ½ ½ 1 1 0 . 5½ 2541
6. Chiburdanidze, Maia g GEO 2514 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ * 1 . 0 1 1 1 5½ 2526
7. Xu Yuhua g CHN 2488 0 0 . 1 ½ 0 * ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 5 2476
8. Shen Yang wg CHN 2435 ½ 0 0 1 ½ . ½ * ½ 0 ½ 1 4½ 2454
9. Zhu Chen g QAT 2476 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ * . 1 0 4 2423
10. Munguntuul, Batkhuyag wg MGL 2421 0 0 1 ½ 0 0 0 1 . * 0 1 3½ 2385
11. Sebag, Marie g FRA 2519 0 0 0 . 1 0 ½ ½ 0 1 * ½ 3½ 2376
12. Yildiz, Betul Cemre wm TUR 2235 0 0 ½ 0 . 0 0 0 1 0 ½ * 2 2265

Final pairings:

Chiburdanidze Maia vs. Shen Yang
Munguntuul Batkhuyag vs. Zhu Chen
Stefanova Antoaneta vs. Hou Yifan
Kosintseva Tatiana vs. Yildiz Betul Cemre
Zhao Xue vs. Sebag Marie
Xu Yuhua vs. Koneru Humpy

Monday, August 9, 2010

What Do the Norwegians Get Out of This???

An interesting development in the story on the alleged "St. John the Baptist" relics and St. Ivan Island story out of Bulgaria (see post below for details):

Archaeology: Excavation and restoration of St Ivan island near Sozopol financed by Norway
Mon, Aug 09 2010 12:09 CET by The Sofia Echo staff

Excavation works and renovation of the monastery complex on St Ivan Island, off the coast of Sozopol in southern Bulgarian, have been financed by the Norwegian embassy in Sofia, an embassy media statement announced on August 9 2010.

The embassy has provided 580 000 leva, covering 90 per cent of the cost for the excavation and restoration of the monastery grounds, encompassing a total of 62 projects in all, the report said.

According to the Norwegian embassy announcement, there will be a second phase of financing, covering the period until 2014, worth about 126.6 million euro, which the Scandinavian country will provide to Bulgaria for a number of different projects such as preservation of cultural heritage, green energy, improvement or energy efficiency, scientific research, education and others.

At the end of July, excavations on Saint Ivan island, part of the Norwegian-sponsored project, unearthed an exquisite marble reliquary incorporated into the church’s altar, the historian Bozhidar Dimitrov, director of the National History Museum and minister without portfolio in charge of Bulgarians abroad, told Focus news agency on July 28 2010.

He suggested that the reliquary might hold the relics of John the Baptist.

St Ivan Island is the largest of five Bulgarian islands in the Black Sea, with an area of 0.66 square kilometres just off the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near Sozopol, a town rich in history and a popular tourist destination, and is separated by a strait several hundred metres long from the small neighbouring St. Peter Island. It is 920m from the Stolets peninsula, Sozopol's Old Town.

Once the island was converted to Christianity, a monastical complex was built between the 5th-6th century on top of the ruins of the old Roman temple, including the Basilica of the Mother of God. Around the 7th-9th century, the basilica was abandoned only to be reconstructed in the 10th century.

The Monastery of John the Forerunner and the Baptist grew into an important centre of Christianity in the region. Archaeological research was carried out after 1985 for two years, which revealed a royal residence, a library, part of the fortified wall with the gate and several monastic cells.
Veselin Topalov used to
have hair!
It became apparent in his statements in the articles cited in the post below that Diaspora Minister Dimitrov fervently desires to turn St. Ivan Island and Sozopol into "pilgrimage" stops for devout Christians (despite the naked women visiting the relics),  featuring the allegedc relics of St. John the Baptist as well as the ruins of several early churches - a sort of Christian Mecca.  That is a fine and worthy goal for a cultural minister, seeking tourist development for his country.

What I want to know is what the heck do the Norwegians get out of funding this multi-year and very expensive archaeological endeavor? 

Look! Magnus Carlsen is
not in diapers anymore!
Call me paranoid.  Call me suspicious.  Call me suspiciously paranoid.   I can't help but wonder if this has something to do with a possible future anticipated world champion chess match between World Chess #1 Norwegian Magnus Carlsen and World Chess #2 Bulgarian Veselin Topalov.  Oh my oh my, what machinations are going on behind the scenes, heh?  Is Silvio Danailov related to Minister Dimitrov by any chance?  Hey, just wondering.

You may be right, I may be crazy, but then it just may be a lunatic you're looking for - so sayeth Billy Joel...

Bulgarian Diaspora Minister Contracts Foot in Mouth Disease

Never say the Bulgarians don't know how to have some fun during summer holiday! This is absolutely hilarious - enjoy!

The first bru-ha-ha started with the announcement of the discovery of supposed relics of St. John the Baptist  The alleged relics are very few:  bone fragments of a human skull, hand and tooth.

Shortly after the announcement of the discovery appeared, some Bulgarian archaeologists (along with archaeologists from other countries) expressed  reservations about what they considered (1) a premature and (2) sensationalized announcement of the alleged discovery.  For instance, the bones have not been scientifically dated and there is no way to ascertain to whom they would have belonged in any event, even if it is ultimately determined that the bones are of the correct age and the reliquy is actually from the 5th century CE -- so what?  John the Baptist was killed in the first third of the 1st century CE and his alleged relics are claimed to rest in many churches.  Not mentioned at all is under what conditions the reliquy was opened, which may become critically important later on.

It was then that Bulgarian Disaspora Minister Bozhidar Dimitrov, an allegedly "renowned historian," cut loose, lambasting those who had criticized both the manner of the announcement and the announcement itself without further study:

Diaspora Minister and renowned historian Bozhidar Dimitrov...has expressed absolute certainty in the fact that the relics found on the St. Ivan Island belonged to St. John the Baptist. He has pointed to an inscription on the marble sarcophagus holding the relics as the greatest evidence for their origin.

“The other archaeologists are shaken by wild envy of their colleague, Professor Kazimir Popkonstantinov. He is a rarely lucky man. It is very seldom that one would find an inscription, and in archaeology the inscription is considered the most authentic proof,” stated Dimitrov, who is a former Director of the Bulgarian National History Museum and a native of Sozopol.

The inscription in question found on the reliquary states that “some time in the 5th century a man named Toma transferred the holy relics exactly on the birthday of St. John the Forerunner.”

More insults were hurled and comments exchanged on August 6, 2010:

Bulgarian Minister Exchanges Insults with Top Archaeologist over St. John the Baptist Relics
Archaeology | August 6, 2010, Friday

“Why, damn it, why, where is all this envy coming from?! This is what I cannot find an explanation with this fucking people, with these fucking colleagues,” the Diaspora Minister and a former Director of the Bulgarian National History Museum, said when expressing his indignation that some of the Bulgarian archaeologists had declared the triumph over the relics of St. John the Baptist premature.

“Please don’t interpret literally the words of a 65-year-old nationalist who has proven himself to the Bulgarian people. I did not say “fucking people, fucking colleagues”. The second part of this sentence makes it clear that I had in mind a group of people calling themselves archaeologists. You can see from the context of the conversation that this does not refer to the entire Bulgarian people and its qualities. I am condemning several archaeologists, who had made anonymous statements in the press, and who did not express doubt but, rather, envy and hate for their colleague. I was just defending out colleague Popkonstantinov,” Minister Dimitrov told Darik Radio Friday.

He further identified Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov as the main critic from among those “anonymous archaeologists”. This has resulted from a comment by Ovcharov published Friday in the 24 Chasa Daily.

“I am starting a discussion. Today Ovcharov came out with his name, and started quarreling with me. The “fuckers” are no longer anonymous. We are now going to be fighting personally, with our names,” Dimitrov said.

Then came:

Outraged Bulgarian Archaeologists Strike Back at Minister
Archaeology | August 9, 2010, Monday

The Bulgarian Archaeologists’ Association has expressed its deep distress and resentment over the recent “offensive” and “cynical” statements made by Diaspora Minister Bozhidar Dimitrov after the finding of alleged relics of St. John the Baptist.

This has been made clear in an open letter sent by the Archaeologists’ Association to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in which they scold Minister Dimitrov for describing the Bulgarians and the archaeologists as “fucking people”.

Minister Dimitrov evidently believes in the honored age-old game known as tit-for-tat, except in the Bulgarian some players use the "f" word a lot on the record:

Bulgarian Archaeology Scandal Grows as Minister Declines to Apologize
Archaeology | August 9, 2010, Monday

“I have no intention of apologizing to anyone,” the Diaspora Minister told bTV on Monday explaining once again that the Bulgarian word for “fucking” or “damned” that he used did not actually have a pejorative connotation. [Really? LOL!]

“I cannot issue an apology to anonymous people. The apologies must be personal. Do you understand. I need to be able to apologize to that man, and that man, and that man. None of them has shown up with specific arguments, and they aren’t able to do that. They are just repeating that we must carry out tests of the relics of St. John the Baptist. What kinds of tests exactly – they never explain!,” he declared attributing once again the criticism by archaeologists through media publications of the discovery of the relics in the town of Sozopol to the envious nature of certain individuals.

“I will cite here a 10th century Arab chronicle which says about the Bulgarians that whenever somebody among them rose above the others, they would come to him, and would say, “You surpassed us, we are not good enough for you, you are good enough only for God.” And they would then hang him,” says Dimitrov who is known as a renown historian.

Dimitrov has pointed out that with the discovery of the holy relics the Bulgarian Black Sea coast should be able to develop as a destination for pilgrims throughout the entire year, not just with the finds in Sozopol but also with the nearby town of Nessebar, which has remains of 44 churches.

Not one to know when to stop inserting his big foot into his even bigger mouth, the Minister had some choice things to say about Bulgarian women who were coming to view the alleged relics:

Minister: Nude Bulgarian Women Come to Venerate St. John Relics
Society | August 9, 2010, Monday

“The Bulgarian women go to church in very revealing clothes, with only their nipples covered; compare them with the Russian women, of whom even the lowliest whore would put a headscarf on, and then enter a church,” Dimitrov commented at the end of last week. On Monday he elaborated his point:

Bulgarian Diaspora Minister Dimitrov.  Hubba hubba!  
I love everyone, especially naked Bulgarian women!
“The clergymen who are listening to me now will confirm this: going to church requires some kind of a religious and human culture. There is no other place in the world where women are allowed in churches with clothes that leave their shoulders, legs, or bellies exposed. These days there are huge lines of people waiting to venerate the relics of St. John the Baptist laying in state in the St. George Church in Sozopol. You can identify the Russian women immediately – they all have headscarfs on and all wear dresses and clothes covering their entire bodies. I don’t say that all Bulgarian women enter a church the way I am about to describe but there have Bulgarian women in Sozopol who had come to see the relics straight from the beach – in revealing swimsuits, with only a towel tied around their waists. So this is how they come to see the holy relics. This is no good, damn it,” explained Dimitrov his indignation.

“Some people are now angry with me, and they want me to apologize to them. I am not going to apologize. When they put clothes on, then I will apologize. Nobody can say about me that I don’t love the Bulgarian women. I have shown that in past 60 years or so. I am always loved the Bulgarian women, and they have always loved me. But one must know when to take their clothes off and when to put clothes on,” the Diaspora Minister concluded.
No, I do not have any photos of the naked women at church but no doubt some enterprising Bulgarians have already come up with thousands of them!

New Explorations of Ancient Indian City

From The Times of India

Note: The location is on the east coast of India, Bay of Bengal, in Odisha or Orissa state. 

A city bigger than Athens?
Sandeep Mishra, TOI Crest, Aug 7, 2010, 01.25pm IST

Just outside Bhubaneswar, around 2,000 years ago, stood one of old India's biggest cities. When they chanced upon Sisupalgarh, excavators could only gape in astonishment at its modern ways

Sisupalgarh sounds like a happening settlement by historic standards: a sprawling urban settlement that housed 20,000-25,000 people, street-linking gateways, pillared meeting halls, water storage systems and disposable vessels for daily use. In one of the richest hauls for archaeologists in the country in recent times, a 12-member Indo-American expert team discovered the remains of a city from the early historic period in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar two years ago.

The team, comprising representatives from Deccan College, Pune, and the University of California, in collaboration with the ASI, had conducted surface excavations at the fortified site first reported by Prof B Lal in 1948. Fresh excavation was restarted in 2005 to learn more about this mystery city. A large quantity of debris, including household pottery and terracotta ornaments, were discovered during the exercise.

Enthused over the findings, the head archaeologist of the excavation, Monica L Smith from the University of California, had then told TOI: "This is the most visible standing architectural monument discovered in the country so far. It is a huge city existing about 2,000 years ago."

The pillars were possibly part of a gigantic structure and used for public gatherings. According to an archaeologist from Deccan College, Pune, R K Mohanty, a city could be known from its walls. "When it has such well-built walls and such a big expanse, it means it was a very important city," he says. Explaining the importance of the ancient city, Mohanaty says Sisupalgarh has four gateways and could have housed a large number of people (compare this to the 10,000 Athens could manage). From photographs taken through geophysical research methods, the team had found that a huge urban setup, a much larger area than could possibly be excavated, had existed at the site.

"The findings were mind-boggling. The lifestyle of the people then could be more advanced than present-day life," Smith had said. "Potteries found are polished and have ownership marks. The huge number of cups and bowls suggest people then practiced a use and throw system."

It is hard to say what sent Sisupalgarh into terminal decline. The data and findings when they will be made available to scholars could lead to a conclusive answer.

2010 FIDE 5th Women's Grand Prix - Ulaanbaatar

Round 9 results:

SNo. Name Rtg Res. Name Rtg SNo.
5 GM Zhu Chen 2476 ½ - ½ WGM Shen Yang 2435 12
6 GM Chiburdanidze Maia 2514 ½ - ½ GM Hou Yifan 2577 4
7 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag 2421 1 - 0 WIM Yildiz Betul Cemre 2235 3
8 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2560 1 - 0 GM Sebag Marie 2519 2
9 GM Kosintseva Tatiana 2562 ½ - ½ GM Koneru Humpy 2600 1
10 GM Zhao Xue 2462 0 - 1 GM Xu Yuhua 2488 11

Standings after R9:

Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts SB Res.
1 4 GM Hou Yifan 2577 CHN * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 6½ 25,00 0
2 1 GM Koneru Humpy 2600 IND ½ * 1 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 6 26,50 0
3 8 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2560 BUL 0 * 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 ½ 1 6 24,25 0
4 9 GM Kosintseva Tatiana 2562 RUS ½ ½ 0 * ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 5½ 24,75 0
5 6 GM Chiburdanidze Maia 2514 GEO ½ 0 ½ ½ * 0 1 1 1 1 5½ 21,50 0
6 10 GM Zhao Xue 2462 CHN ½ 1 0 1 * 0 0 ½ 1 1 5 21,50 0
7 11 GM Xu Yuhua 2488 CHN 0 0 ½ 0 1 * 1 ½ ½ 1 4½ 16,00 0
8 12 WGM Shen Yang 2435 CHN ½ 0 0 ½ 1 * 0 ½ ½ 1 4 15,75 0
9 7 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag 2421 MGL 1 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 * 0 1 3½ 14,50 0
10 5 GM Zhu Chen 2476 QAT 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ * 1 0 3 12,75 0
11 2 GM Sebag Marie 2519 FRA 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1 0 * ½ 2½ 8,75 0
12 3 WIM Yildiz Betul Cemre 2235 TUR 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ * 2 7,25 0

Two rounds to go.  Any of the top five players could win it.

2010 Mainz Chess Classic

IM Anna Zatonskih won the women's title in the 2010 Grenke World Rapid Chess Championships, congratulations Anna!  Zatonskih finished in 26th place overall in the Rapid - outstanding performance in a field of 701 players - and 2 places above husband GM Daniel Friedman :)  Fellow-USA player Gata Kamsky took the Grenke World Rapid Chess Championship title with a score of 10.0/11 and no losses!

Here are the top 10 female finishers:

Rang Teilnehmer TWZ Attr. Land S R V Punkte PktSum MiBuch
1. IM Zatonskih,Anna 2470 W USA 8 1 2 8,5 52,0 65,5
2. WIM Dolgova,Olga 2262 W RUS 6 4 1 8,0 43,5 51,5
3. WGM Kosteniuk,Alexandra 2522 W RUS 7 1 3 7,5 51,5 67,0
4. WGM Berend-Sakhatova,Elvira 2311 W LUX 7 1 3 7,5 51,0 64,0
5. WGM Zhukova,Natalia 2516 W UKR 7 1 3 7,5 49,5 61,0
6. WIM Skripchenko,Almira 2458 W FRA 6 3 2 7,5 45,5 56,0
7. WGM Pourkashiyan,Atousa 2308 W IRI 7 1 3 7,5 44,5 59,0
8. WIM Foisor,Cristina 2381 W ROU 7 0 4 7,0 46,0 55,5
9. WGM Foisor,Sabina 2317 W USA 5 4 2 7,0 42,0 53,5
10. WGM Paridar,Shadi 2264 W IRI 6 2 3 7,0 41,0 54,0

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Course at The China Institute, New York

Chinese elephant figurine.  Could it be a game piece?
Chinese chess is called "Xiang Qi" which can be translated as "elephant game."
The chance to take a class like this is only one reason why I wish I lived in New York.  Oh well. Maybe in my next life, when I come back as a Rockefeller heiress. 

Chinese Art and Archaeology

Resident Scholar and Consulting Archaeologist to UNESCEO World Heritage Centre and Discovery Channel’s Ancient Manmade Marvels series, Dr. Hsin-Mei Agnes Hsu, will teach a five-week long course introducing Chinese art and archaeology from the Neolithic period to the Bronze Age. This the first in a series of short courses on Chinese art and archaeology to be offered in the next few years in conjunction with our exhibitions.

Dr. Hsu was on the faculty of Brown University (2004-2007) and a research scholar at Stanford University (2008). In 2002, she was the first American graduate student to receive a Mellon Foundation fellowship to conduct research at the Needham Institute at Cambridge University for her work on ancient cartographic science. Dr. Hsu’s publications include “Structured Perceptions of Real and Imagined Landscapes in Early China” in Geography, Ethnography, and Perceptions of the World from Antiquity to the Renaissance (2010), “An Emic Perspective on the Mapmaker’s Art in Western Han China” in Journal of the Royal Society of Asiatic Studies (2007), and The Exceptional Universal Value of the Road Systems in Ancient Empires: A Comparative Study of the Chinese Oasis Route of the Early Silk Road and the Qhapag Ñan, UNESCO (2006).

Tuesdays, January 11, 18, February 1, 8, and 15 ~ 6:30-8:30 PM
$200 member / $250 non-member (5 sessions)
$45 member / $55 non-member (per session)

To register, please click here.

Information on more upcoming courses provided in the August, 2010 China Institute newsletter.
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