Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Cow Jumped Over the Moon

See the post immediately below on the latest issue (Volume 19) of the Asia Institute Bulletin.  In it is an article:

Almut Hintze, The Cow That Came from the Moon: The Avestan Expression māh- gaociθra-

SynopsisIt is argued that the syntactic combination of ciθra- with the ablative case in the Avesta warrants the meaning "origin, offspring" and that such meaning is also present in the phrase māh- gaociθra- "the moon that holds the seed of the animal." This and other evidence indicates that the Middle Persian myth about the lunar origin of the numerous animal species on earth goes back to the Avesta.

I don't think I would try to read the article based on the synopsis, which sounds extremely technical and way beyond the bounds of my knowledge, but the underlying premise about an ancient Persian/Avestan tale that relates the creation of animals with the Moon - that fascinates me.  The first thing that sprang into my mind when I read the title of the article was "the cow jumped over the Moon."

Yeah, I'm crazy.  Bear with me. Do you remember the old nursery rhyme  - Hey diddle diddle - this is how I remember it:

Hey diddle diddle,
The Cat and the Fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the Moon,
The Old Dog laughed to see such Craft,
And the Fork ran away with the Spoon.

(See Wikipedia for few other versions of the rhyme, along with discussion of the rhyme's possible meaning.)

Some free association in Goddesschess style - feel free to join in:

I see a pattern of pairs that may hold a deeper meaning, in other words, the sum of the whole is greater than its parts:

diddle - diddle
cat - fiddle
cow - Moon
dog - craft
fork - spoon (or dish - spoon)

Could this be a "spell," a formula hidden in "code" that is very very old?

There are some other associations that immediately come to mind:

Line drawing of the Narmer Palette, c. 3500-3400 BCE,
Naqada, ancient Egypt.  She's across the top on the front
and reverse sides, with cow ears and horns.  Her
iconography is extremely old.
cat - dog: opposites; light/dark, ying/yang
cat: associated with witchcraft; ancient Egyptian goddesses (Hathor, Bast)

cow: Hathor, India
cow: milk, food, mother

Craft: witchcraft; wizardry; old magic

dog - Moon: dog howling at the Moon, crying for his mate
dog: ancient game pieces were often called dogs
dog: companion of the Triple Goddess in her death aspect, harbinger of death, bringer of knowledge and insight, faithful companion

Moon: long associated with the Triple Goddess, and with female power, menstruation, creation - birth, death (blood), soma, the Elixir of Eternal Life
Moon: Wife/Mother of the Sun

fiddle: ancient stringed instrument of any sort for making music

fork - spoon/dish - spoon: eating, offering, ritual, feast/festivity

You get the idea...

Is "diddle" really a reference to illicit sexual activity? Could it have some other meaning, something older that has fallen out of usage and collective memory? Or was it simply added somewhere along the line in order to rhyme with "fiddle?"

Could "Craft" be an oblique reference to witchcraft?

"Catgut" was used to string ancient and not so ancient musical instruments. I'm not kidding - check out these definitions of "catgut:"

Catgut is a type of cord that is prepared from the natural fiber in the walls of animal intestines. Usually sheep or goat intestines are used, but it is occasionally made from the intestines of a hog, horse, mule, pig or donkey. ...

A popular name for classical guitar strings.

I looked at the Wikipedia entry on "catgut" and found the following information:

The name neither implies nor derives from any association with cats.

The word catgut may have been an abbreviation of the word "cattlegut". Alternatively, it may have derived by folk etymology from kitgut or kitstring -- the word kit, meaning fiddle, having at some point been confused with the word kit for little cat. According to legend, string makers of the 17th century deliberately misled people to believe that the strings were made of cat intestines in order to protect their industry, as any association with cats was superstitiously believed to be extremely bad luck, and to be avoided at all cost.

For a long period, catgut was the most common material for the strings of harps, lutes, violins, and violas, as well as other stringed musical instruments, as well as older marching snare drums; however, most musical instruments produced today use strings with cores made of other materials, generally steel or synthetic. Gut strings are the natural choice for many classical and baroque string players, and catgut strings are still most commonly preferred in concert-tension pedal/grand and some lever harps because they give a richer, darker sound as well as withstanding high tension within low alto, tenor and high-bass ranges.

Sacred implements including bowls, platters, vials, pitchers and serving/mixing implements of all sorts, made out of all kinds of materials, have long been associated with the preparation of sacrifices to the goddesses and gods in ancient religious traditions. 

Fiddle brought to mind the ancient stringed musical instrument the lyre, which can be found (I believe) in Sumer, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, and ancient Greece.  Probably other places, too - ancient China?  So often one forgets about China and places to the far east of the Mediterranean in discussing herstory.  For instance, this blog that explores the meanings of words associated with the zodiac - in this case, the lyre - connects it to the concept of a tortoise shell.  That's fine - but it's all western analogies cited.  The tortoise shell in ancient China represented the mathematical basis of the first perfect 3 by 3 magical square, the Lo Shu, which may be incorporated into the ancient Chinese game liubo, which many Chinese scholars say is the predecessor of Xiang Qi -- Chinese Chess. All sides of the Lo Shu magic square sum to 15, and it is very very old, between 5000 and 6000 years old.  Perhaps as old as the Horns of Hathor.  And we should not forget what has been called the most ancient preserved zodiac in the world: that carved into the ceiling of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera.  Note: I cannot add graphics at the moment, something to do with Google Blogger maintenance, I believe.  If I remember tomorrow, I will add the necessary pics then.

Okay - so, putting it all together, could the old nursery rhyme actually be an incomplete and imperfectly remembered rendition of a very old spell -- tradition -- that had to do with making offerings of some kind to a deity?  Or a recording, in code, of the steps involved in making such an offering? 

Probably some brilliant graduate student has already written a paper on the subject :) 

Bulletin of the Asia Institute

No. 19 is now available for purchase and it's an incredible selection of articles on ancient Persia/Iran/Avestan and Zoroastrianism (is that a word?):

"Mulberry” in Khotanese: A New Khotanese Loan Deed in the Hetian Museum
Duan Qing

The Other in the Mirror: Iranians and Jews View One Another: Questions of Identity, Conversion, and Exogamy in the Fifth-Century Iranian Empire, Part One
Yaakov Elman

Church and State in Iranian History
Richard N. Frye

Vahrām III (293) and the Rock Relief of Naqsh-i Rustam II: A Contribution to the Iconography of Sasanian Crown Princes in the Third Century
Rika Gyselen

The Tribute Trade with Khotan in Light of Materials Found at the Dunhuang Library Cave
Valerie Hansen

From Earth to Heaven: Speculations on the Significance of the Form of the Achaemenid Censer
Prudence O. Harper

The Cow that Came from the Moon: The Avestan Expression māh- gaociθra-
Almut Hintze

Poetic Self-Reference in the Rig Veda and the Persona of Zarathustra
Stephanie W. Jamison

Le sacrifice et la nature humaine
Jean Kellens et Philippe Swennen

Paul Pelliot and the Deśanā-parivarta of the Suvarnabhāsa-sūtra
Hiroshi Kumamoto

An Alan Seal
Judith A. Lerner

The Herbēdestān as a Legal Source: A Section on the Inheritance of a Convert to Zoroastrianism
Maria Macuch

Annotations on the Book of Zambasta, II: Khotanese mamkyā-
Mauro Maggi

Sheep, Wheat, and Wine: An Achaemenian Antecedent of the Sasanian Sacrifices pad ruwān
Antonio Panaino

The Name of the So-called “Tumshuqese” Language
Rong Xinjiang

The Demon Weed
James R. Russell

Remarks on the Formal Brāhmī Script from the Southern Silk Route
Lore Sander

Apollo and Khshathrapati, the Median Nergal, at Xanthos
Martin Schwartz

Studying with a Magus/Like Giving a Tongue to a Wolf
Shai Secunda

Aramaic Loan-words in Middle Persian
Shaul Shaked

Nugae Epigraphicae
M. Rahim Shayegan

The Wizirgerd ī Dēnīg and the Evil Spirit: Questions of Authenticity in Post-Classical Zoroastrianism
Daniel Jensen Sheffield

Before the Quarrel: A Bactrian Purchase Contract
Nicholas Sims-Williams

The Strange Story of Samuel Guise: An 18th-Century Collection of Zoroastrian Manuscripts
Ursula Sims-Williams

The Emperor’s New Clothes
Werner Sundermann

Resurrecting the Resurrection: Eschatology and Exegesis in Late Antique Zoroastrianism
Yuhan Sohrab-Dinshaw Vevaina

A Pahlavi Papyrus from Islamic Times
Dieter Weber

Viśa’ Śūra’s Corpse Discovered?
Yutaka Yoshida

VOL. 19 = 246 pp.
Published in December 2009

Individual subscriptions are $75 annually.  Check out the catalog of prior issues.  Scroll down the left-hand margin to get to the Bulletins, click on one to bring up a Table of Contents for each volume.

Hathor: The Miners' Goddess of Ancient Egypt

Al-Ahram has an interesting feature article on a recent reported "theft" of a statue of Hathor. Very strange.
21 - 27 October 2010
Issue No. 1020

The miners' goddess
As world attention was focussed on a gold and copper mine in Chile, it emerged that there may have been a failed bid to steal one of the remaining sandstone statues of the goddess Hathor, the ancient Egyptian protector of miners. Nevine El-Aref accompanied the statues as they were transferred to a Sinai gallery for restoration

Some few thousand years ago, ancient Egyptians made their way overland to the Sinai peninsula -- or travelled there across the Red Sea -- in search of minerals. Their chief targets were the turquoise and copper veins which had been mined in the Sinai mountains since time immemorial.

Once they had achieved mastery over Sinai, the Egyptian overseers set up a large and systematic mining operation at Serabit Al-Khadim in South Sinai, where they carved out great quantities of turquoise which was so highly valued that it became an important part of ritual symbolism in their religious ceremonies. Even today, pure, unveined turquoise is weight-for-weight more costly than gold.

To mine the turquoise the Egyptians would hollow out large galleries in the mountains, carving at the entrance to each as a representation of the reigning Pharaoh who was the symbol of the authority of the Egyptian state over the mines.

This is a temple to Hathor? Not much left, is there.  How sad.
 During the 12th Dynasty, when Serabit Al-Khadim was the centre of copper and turquoise mining and a flourishing trade was established, a temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor was built on top of a massive, rocky outcrop at an altitude of 1,100m above sea level. One of few Pharaonic monuments known in Sinai, the temple is unlike other temples of the period in that it contains a large number of bas-reliefs and carved stelae showing the dates of the various turquoise- mining expeditions carried out in antiquity, the number of team members; and the goal and duration of each mission. From dynasty to dynasty the temple was expanded and beautified, with the last known enlargement taking place during the 20th Dynasty.

To reach the temple the visitor must pass through a sequence of 14 perfectly-cut blocks that form ante-rooms, and even a small pylon, before reaching the central courtyard. At the far end of this courtyard are the sanctum and two grottos, where the deities Hathor and Sopdu were adored and where their images still remain. This part of the temple was accessible only to the priests and the Pharaoh. Regrettably, a British colonial attempt to reopen the mines in the mid-19th century led to some of the reliefs being destroyed.

The site of Serabit Al-Khadim, which sits on top of a mountain 2,600 feet above sea level, was discovered by the British archaeologist Flinders Petrie in 1905. Petrie unearthed several royal and private sculptures, stelae and sacrificial tools dating back to the time of the Fourth-Dynasty King Senefru.

Petrie also found vestiges of the Proto-Sinaitic script, believed to be an early precursor of our modern alphabet. These scripts began with hieroglyphic signs used to write the names of the people who worked in the mines and to keep account of their labours. The signs developed into an "Aleph-Beta" script that recorded a Proto- Canaanite language.

The Serabit Al-Khadim temple resembles a double series of stelae leading to an underground chapel dedicated to Hathor. Many of the temple's large number of sanctuaries and shrines were dedicated to this goddess who, among her many other attributes, was the patron goddess of copper and turquoise miners. As we have seen, the earliest part of the main rock-cut Hathor Temple, which has a front court and portico, dates from the 12th Dynasty and was probably founded by Pharaoh Amenemhet III, during a period of time when the mines were particularly active.

A number of scenes depict the role Hathor played in the transformation of the new Pharaoh into the deified ruler of Egypt, which took place on his ascension to the throne. One scene depicts Hathor suckling the Pharaoh. Another scene from a stone tablet depicts Hathor offering the Pharaoh the ankh symbol, or key of life.

This older part of the temple was enlarged upon and extended during the New Kingdom by none other than Queen Hatshepsut, along with Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep III. This was a regeneration period for mining operations in the area after an apparent decline during the Second Intermediate Period. These extensions are unusual for a temple in the manner in which they are angled, that is to the west of the earlier structure.

On the north side of the temple is a shrine dedicated to the Pharaohs who were deified in this region. There are numerous stelae on one wall of this shrine. A little to the south of the main temple is another shrine, smaller than the one to the north, this time dedicated to Sopdu, god of the Eastern Desert.

Last year the whole site was subjected to restoration and documentation in order to make it more tourist-friendly and accessible to visitors. Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, head of the central administration for Lower Egypt antiquities, said that the restoration, which took about a year on a budget of LE500,000, removed all the signs of time that marred the temple's walls and reliefs. It also consolidated them and strengthened the fabric and colours of the wall paintings.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), said that every relief had been photographed, drawn and videotaped on all four sides and then returned to its original position. A site management project is now being carried out.

Early this month, however, with the site almost ready for its official inauguration, the archaeologist in charge of the temple reported that one of the six remaining sandstone statues of Hathor was missing from its original display inside the open court of the temple. The statue, which was erected during the reign of the New Kingdom Pharaoh Amenhotep III, features the lower part of the body of Hathor seated on a chair and holding the ankh symbol in her hand.

Six hours after the reported theft, with the help of the antiquities and tourist police and members of the local resident Bedouin community, the statue was found inside one of the mines tunnelled into the mountains during the ancient Egyptian era to extract turquoise.

Investigations revealed that the statue had not been stolen as was first thought, but had been hidden as part of an ongoing feud between two rival Bedouin tribes. It was the Bedouin themselves who led the police to the hiding place.

Abdel-Maqsoud confirmed that it was impossible to steal a statue of this description for three reasons. First, the temple was located 1,100m above sea level and is difficult to reach. Second, the statue was too heavy to carry over the rocks to reach the road. Third, Abdel-Maqsoud said, the site was protected by local Bedouin who did not allow strangers to enter the site, and furthermore the temple was guarded by a team of 24 guards and 10 archaeologists who made daily tours of inspection.

The SCA is currently removing the six statues in the temple to Qantara Sharq galleries for restoration and to await a second removal to the new Sharm El-Sheikh National Museum, which is planned for completion in 2011.

© Copyright Al-Ahram Weekly. All rights reserved

2010 World Youth Chess Championships

After R4:

Awonder Liang (U8 Open, USA, no FIDE rating) is hanging in there, in 7th place with 3.5/4.  Standings.

My girl Narmin Kazimova of Azerjaiban is the only player left in the Girls U18 Section with a perfect score:

The lone USA chess femme playing in this section, Data Anjali, is currently in 49th place with 1.5, out of 72 players.

How are the other USA girls doing?

Girls U16:
44th Anna Matlin USA 1923 2.0 (of 97 players)

Girls U14:
21st WCM Chiang Sarah USA 1864 3,0
31st WCM Munoz Claudia USA 0 2,5
34th Regam Jessica USA 0 2,5 (of 99 players)

Girls U12 (posted only through R3):
21st Hua Margaret USA 1943 2,0
40th WFM Liao Simone USA 1673 2,0
62nd Dong Alice USA 0 1,5
79th Oreshko Mariya USA 1651 1,0
90th Virkud Apurva USA 0 1,0 (of 117 players)

Girls U10:
7th Palakollu Samritha USA 0 3,5
21st Devina Sevagharan USA 0 3,0
31st Zlotchevski Nicole USA 0 2,5
46th Singh Reva USA 0 2,0 (of 107 players)

Note: Canada's Kelly Wang is also playing in this section:

41st Wang Kelly CAN 0 2,0
60th Peng Janet CAN 0 2,0
79th Bai Minya CAN 0 1,5

Kelly Wang has won Goddesschess prizes in tournament play in Canada :) Go, Kelly!

Girls U8:
7th WFM Wang Annie USA 0 3,0
14th Joanna Liu USA 0 3,0
16th Nguyen Emily USA 0 3,0
39th Ramesh Kaavya USA 0 2,0 (of 81 players)

Old Game Teaches Kids New Lessons

From NBC News EducationNation, October 20, 2010 - testing to see if this embedding works:

Life lessons taught by chess (planning, patience, strategic thinking and, to borrow a phrase from Susan Polgar, winning with dignity and losing with grace) can stand kids in good stead in later life.  I learn from my mistakes.  Okay Jan, girl, write that 10,000 times on your chalkboard, and really mean it.

Chess, Chess and More Chess!

Notwithstanding that the brilliant strategy I thought I'd devised in my current came at with Shira Evans blew up and I just resigned, being a pawn down with two more soon to follow and no way to defend or mount a counter-threat (boo hoo and I am really, really pissed off and ready to throw all my chess sets in the garbage),  the world is abuzz with chess this weekend.  There are the usual super-tournaments with the same chess dudes that I don't pay much attention to because, actually, I find them boring.  It's like watching a whizzing match - I can pee farther than you can.  No you can't.  Yes I can.  No you can't.  Yes I can.  Watch that target on that elm over there at 50 yards - boing!  Okay, so maybe you can - this time.  Yawn. 

The European Club Cup Championships are going on and I follow some of the action because of the women's teams.  I find their chess exciting and more relatable on an esoteric level.  Yeah yeah, I'm sure some will read that and laugh,  more fools they because they don't get what is magical about chess.  Oh well, you remember the old ditty about the kitty's titty :)  Here are the current standings for the women's teams:

Look at all those Russian-sponsored teams clustered up there in the top five.  The Georgian team has run into some buzz saws!  The formidable Cercle d'Echecs de Monte Carlo has won the Club Cup before and has put itself in a position to do so again.  Here are the members and where they stand after R6:

Irina Krush, from the 2009 U.S. Women's
Chess Championship, copied from Goddesschess
copycat website Chessalee. Cheers, darlings.
 The SPICE Cup at Texas Tech will be revving up next week and I usually follow the action because I admire GM Susan Polgar and I like the mix of players she puts together for the SPICE Cup, not to mention that the SPICE Cup is the top rated invitation in the USA.  Not the same old, same old, you know?  This season's SPICE Cup B Group features a chess femme - IM Irina Krush, who is aiming for a GM norm.  I hope she gets it.  She's been close many times.  It is not an easy task.  I believe her next chance for a GM norm will be at Gibraltar in January.  May the Chess Goddess be with her and grant her both norms (she has one, she needs two more).  ScheduleRound pairings for both A and B Groups. 

Several top level female players, including former Women's World Chess Champion GM Zhu Chen, and GM Judit Polgar, the highest-rated female chessplayer in the world for - almost since she was born, are also playing in the Cap d'Agde (October 22 - 31, 2010).  Check out this line-up (information from The Week in Chess):

Vasily Ivanchuk (2754) UKR ; Hikaru Nakamura (2733) USA ; Xiangzhi Bu (2695) CHN ; Liem Le Quang (2694) VIE ; Judith Polgar (2682) HUN ; Sebastien Feller (2649) FRA ; Romain Edouard (2636) FRA ; Jon Ludvig Hammer (2633) NOR ; Truong Nguyen Ngoc (2633) VIE ; Anatoly Karpov (2619) RUS ; Yannick Pelletier (2592) SUI ; Tatiana Kosintseva (2573) RUS ; Nadezhda Kosintseva (2565) RUS ; Kateryna Lahno (2539) UKR ; Zhu Chen (2480) QAT ; Sophie Milliet (2388) FRA. Time control: 25 minutes + 10".

Here's the official website - in French.  There is a google translation button to English.  Here is the set-up for the Trophy (Invitational) portion of the tournament:

2 groups of 8 players meet in a first step in a round robin tournament.

The presentation of the players and the matches (draw) of each group were held Friday, October 22.

Saturday 23 October to Tuesday, October 26, 2010 tournament takes place all round, Wednesday 27 is devoted to possible tie.

The first 4 in each group qualifying for the knockout stages.

The knockout stage is played in a game of two successive parts of Thursday, October 28 to Sunday, October 31, 2010.

Round 1 live games from - I do not know how long this link will stay active before being replaced with R2.  PGN for the R1 women's games (remember, this is rapid chess):

K. Lahno v. T. Kosintseva:
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 Nbd7 7. Rc1 h6 8. Bh4 c5 9. dxc5 Qa5 10. a3 Bxc3+ 11. Rxc3 Ne4 12. b4 Nxc3 13. Qb3 Qa4 14. Qxc3 O-O 15. e3 a5 16. b5 Nxc5 17. Qxc5 Be6 18. Qd4 Qxa3 19. Be2 Qc1+ 20. Qd1 Qb2 21. O-O a4 22. Bg3 f6 23. Nd4 Bf7 24. Bd3 a3 25. Nf5 a2 26. Qg4 g5 27. Nxh6+ Kg7 28. Qf5 Rh8 29. Nxf7 Kxf7 30. Qg6+ Ke7 31. Qg7+ Ke6 32. f4 gxf4 33. exf4 Qd4+ 34. Kh1 Qxd3 35. f5+ Qxf5 36. Re1+ Qe4 37. Rxe4+ dxe4 38. Qg4+ Kd5 39. Qf5+ Kc4 40. Qxe4+ Kxb5 41. Qd5+ Kb6 42. Qb3+ Kc6 43. Qc4+ Kd7 44. Qf7+ Kc6 45. Qxf6+ Kd5 46. Qe5+ Kc4 47. Qe4+ Kb3 48. Qxb7+ Kc2 49. Qe4+ Kb3 50. Qd3+ Kb4 51. Bd6+ Ka5 52. Qd5+ Kb6 53. Qc5+ Ka6 54. Qc6+ Ka5 55. Be5 Kb4 56. Qc3+ 1-0

S. Milliet v. T. Nguyen:1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Qb6 5. Nf3 Bd7 6. Bd3 Bb5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. b4 Be7 9. O-O Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Nd7 11. Na3 Qc7 12. Nb5 Qb8 13. c4 a6 14. Nc3 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Qxe5 16. cxd5 Nf6 17. dxe6 O-O 18. exf7+ Rxf7 19. Bb2 Ng4 20. Qg3 Qxg3 21. hxg3 Bxb4 22. Ne4 Re8 23. f3 Ne5 24. Rad1 Nc4 25. Bd4 Rd7 26. Bf2 Red8 27. Rb1 Ba3 28. g4 b5 29. Bh4 Rc8 30. Rfd1 Rcc7 31. Bg3 Rb7 32. Bf2 Bf8 33. Rdc1 Nd2 34. Nxd2 Rxd2 35. a4 b4 36. Rc8 Kf7 37. Rc6 b3 38. Be3 Ra2 39. Rb6 Rxb6 40. Bxb6 b2 41. Bd4 Bc5 0-1

Zhu Chen v. T. Gharamian:
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. dxc5 Bxc5 6. Nf3 Qb6 7. e3 Be7 8. Be2 a6 9. b3 Qc7 10. Bb2 d6 11. Rc1 b6 12. O-O Bb7 13. Rfd1 Nbd7 14. Ng5 Rc8 15. Qb1 Qb8 16. Bf3 Bxf3 17. Nxf3 O-O 18. Nd4 g6 19. h3 Qb7 20. a4 Rfd8 21. Nde2 Nc5 22. Ba1 Nce4 23. Qb2 Rc5 24. f3 Nxc3 25. Nxc3 e5 26. Rc2 Rdc8 27. Rcd2 Bf8 28. Rd3 Qd7 29. Qd2 Qe6 30. e4 Nh5 31. Nd5 b5 32. cxb5 axb5 33. axb5 Rxb5 34. Bb2 Nf6 35. Nxf6+ Qxf6 36. Ba3 Rc6 37. Rc1 Rxc1+ 38. Qxc1 Qe6 39. Qc3 Rb8 40. Kh1 Rc8 41. Qd2 Ra8 42. Qc1 h5 43. Qb2 Rb8 44. Qc2 Rc8 45. Qd1 Rb8 46. Rd5 Rb6 47. Qd3 h4 48. b4 Qc8 49. b5 Rb7 50. Kh2 Rc7 51. b6 Rc6 52. Bxd6 Bxd6 53. Rxd6 Kg7 54. Qd5 Rc2 55. Qxe5+ Kh7 56. Qf6 Qc4 57. Qxh4+ Kg7 58. Qf6+ Kh7 59. Rd8 Rxg2+ 60. Kxg2 Qe2+ 61. Kg3 Qe1+ 62. Kf4 Qc1+ 63. Ke5 Qc3+ 64. Rd4 Qc5+ 65. Kf4 Qc1+ 66. Kg3 Qg1+ 67. Kf4 Qc1+ 68. Kg3 Qg1+ 69. Kf4 Qc1+ ½-½

J. Polgar v. N. Kosintseva:
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Qe2 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. d4 Bg4 10. Rd1 exd4 11. cxd4 d5 12. e5 Ne4 13. Nc3 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Qd7 15. h3 Bf5 16. Nh2 Na5 17. Nf1 Nxb3 18. axb3 a5 19. Ne3 Bg6 20. Ba3 b4 21. Bb2 bxc3 22. Bxc3 Rfb8 23. Bxa5 Rxb3 24. Bxc7 Rxa1 25. Rxa1 h5 26. Ba5 Bg5 27. Bd2 Rb2 28. Qe1 Qb5 29. Nf1 Bxd2 30. Nxd2 Qb4 31. Nf3 Qxe1+ 32. Rxe1 Be4 33. Ng5 Bf5 34. Ra1 Rb1+ 35. Rxb1 Bxb1 36. h4 f6 37. exf6 gxf6 38. Ne6 1-0

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Four New Wari Mummies Discovered in Peru

Pre-Inca mummies discovered in Lima
Thu, 21 Oct 2010 2:26p.m.
Four 1,150-year-old mummies have been discovered in an ancient burial site in Lima, archaeologists revealed yesterday.

The preserved bodies are believed to be the remains of an elite woman and three children, one of which may have been sacrificed. All came from the Wari, or Huari, culture, a pre-Inca civilisation that spread along the Peruvian coast between 600 and 1,000 AD.

The discovery was made in the Huaca Puccllana archeological complex in Lima's Miraflores neighbourhood. The semi-circular tomb was found at the top of the site's main pyramid - a 25-metre structure made of adobe and clay - and was untouched by looters.

So far archeologists have been unable to determine the age or sex of the primary mummy, but the ornamental offerings left with the body - including several ceramic vessels and textile bags decorated with amorphous drawings - suggest that it was a woman.

Archeologist Gladys Paz was led to the tomb after discovering its adobe roof.

"This time, we have found an intact tomb for this era - we are talking the second part of the 'horizonte medio' era or 850AD - with an age of 1,150 years. Around the tomb, a principle bundle with a fake head has been noted, along with three accompanying bundles, which for their size would have been children. Two of them are from high social rank and one was probably sacrificed," said Paz.

As the only intact Wari tomb to have been found at the top of the pyramid, it is a important discovery for those studying the period. Mummies and offerings previously found in the area have been found in poor condition.

Huaca Puccllana was one of the most important sites for Lima Culture, a pre-Incan civilization, before it became taken over by the Wari. It is a site that attracts large numbers of students and tourists from around the world.

(c) Reuters

Smithsonian Does Not Say It''s a Fraud...

...which is significant.

Smithsonian does not dispute authenticity of archaeological find in Vero Beach
By Elliott Jones
Updated Wednesday, October 20, 2010

VERO BEACH — The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., has found no reason to dispute the authenticity of an one-of-a-kind archaeological discovery that might help confirm a human presence here up to 13,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age.

In early 2009, local fossil collector James Kennedy cleaned off an old bone he found two years earlier and noticed some lines on it — lines that turned out to be a clear etching of a walking mammoth with tusks.

The location where he found it hasn’t been disclosed, except that it came from an area north of Vero Beach.

University of Florida researchers scrutinized the four-inch etching on the 15-inch prehistoric bone with an electron microscope and their tests showed it to be apparently genuine.

In May, Kennedy took the bone to the National Museum of Natural History for further studies. There Smithsonian Institution archaeologists made a copy and used advanced techniques to look at the etching.

“We have found no traces that would indicate that a (modern) metal tool was used to carve the bone,” said the institution’s Dennis Stanford, who specializes in early North American archaeology.

“While we see no evidence that it is a forgery” the institution doesn’t authenticate objects unless they are donated to the museum, Stanford wrote in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Kennedy is keeping the bone in hopes of selling it by auction.

“I want to auction it to the person with the most money, although I would rather it go to a museum,” Kennedy said.

It is presumed to be the oldest known art object of its type found in the New World, said Richard Hulbert, a paleontologist with the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville.

The person who created the etching, presumably with a shark tooth or flint implement, had to have seen a live animal to have drawn it in such detail, he said.

“I’d like to have that (an image of it) flying on a flag outside the museum,” Hulbert said while visiting Vero Beach during the spring.

“I pulled out of the dirt,” Kennedy said. “People have looked at it with all types of equipment and it has all come back positive. It is what it is.”

2010 World Youth Chess Championships

Awonder Liang won his second round game against the #7 ranked player in the Open (Boys) U8 Section:

5 62 Liang Awonder (USA) 1 1 - 0 1 Zlatea Cezar-Stelian 7

The other American young men playing in this section had equally tough assignments!

1 2 Lomasov Semen 1 1 - 0 1 Kumar Aravind (USA) 56
8 10 Amon Nejc 1 0 - 1 1 Praveen Balakrishnan (USA) 87
32 104 Taghizadeh Rayan (USA) ½ 1 - 0 ½ Gruzman Ilya 40

It's very early in the tournament and anything can happen. I'm rooting for this young American Open team. Tomorrow, these young players will face off as follows:

2 87 Praveen Balakrishnan (USA) 2 2 Ram Aravind L N 4
5 9 Sadhu S Adithya 2 2 Liang Awonder (USA) 62
18 30 Doknjas Joshua 1½ 1½ Taghizadeh Rayan (USA) 104
22 56 Kumar Aravind (USA) 1 1 Amon Nejc 10

Turning my attention to the ladies:

In the Femme U18 Section:

  • WIM Narmin Kazimova (AZE 2260) currently sits in 2nd place with a perfect 2.0 score. Way to go, girl!
  • WGM Cori Deysi (PER 2368) currently is in 22nd place with 1.5. I expect she will definitely move up the ranks.
  • Anjali Data (USA 2025), the lone American competing in this section, is currently in 39th place with 1.0 (out of 72 players).
I'll put up more reports as we get deeper into the competition.

A Fun Chess Set

Chess Board and set, designed by Mellington Cartwright in alliance with Tim Yates. Born out of the desire for stability and for the travel freaks, this chess board harmonizes balance between stability and instability. Standing 2 ft. by 2 ft at 6 inches tall, the board is made from over 100 hand-cut, hand-measured, rivets and washers and 15 different Tetris-like shapes of commercial bronze. One-of-its-kind piece, the innovative design stands for a price of $6,500.

2010 World Youth Chess Championships

I received the following update from my friends at Southwest Chess Club:

This first part is from Mike Nietman, President of the Wisconsin Chess Federation:

Here is an e-mail I just got from Yingming ‘Will’ Liang. Awonder was paired up to board one and defeated the top seeded player in the section, a Vietnamese FM who is the Asian U8 Champ!

Note that they are using FIDE ratings and in that section especially, there are a lot of unrateds like Awonder. So, it’ll take several rounds to figure out who all the real players are.

Daily updates from the coaches will be on the headlines at In addition, the direct website for the event is Games start at 8 A.M. central time and top boards may be shown on the internet at a link on the USCF’s story page. It doesn’t look like they have all of the pages on the event site working yet but it is just day one.

This summary is from Mr. Liang (Awonder's dad):

I am very delighted to report to you that in the under 8 boys section at the World Youth Chess Championships here in Porto Carras, Greece, our boys played very well in the first round. They came up with a nice result of 3-1/2 out of 4. Praveen Balakrishnan quikly overpowered his opponent and won first. In a long battle, Aravind Kumar defeated a very strong opponent from Russia in style. Rayan Taghizadeh provided us with a hard-fought draw. Awonder had just pulled out an upset victory against the number one seeded player and the only FM in his under 8 boys section. Seeded number 61, Awonder played black with the Sicilian-Najdorf Opening. After 50 some moves, facing losing his Queen or King, his opponent, Anh Khoi Nguyen, the current Asian under 8 champion from Vietnam, saved both of them by running down his own clock.

Let's hope that all of our boys and girls will keep playing real good chess here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hunting for the Dawn of Writing

The Oriental Institute in Chicago is hosting a new exhibit that looks at the development of writing in ancient Egypt, Sumer, China, and by the New World Maya. 

Hunting for the Dawn of Writing, When Prehistory Became History
Published: October 19, 2010

Sumerian goods "tag" c. 3200 BCE
with proto-Cuneiform symbols.
CHICAGO — One of the stars of the Oriental Institute’s new show, “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond,” is a clay tablet that dates from around 3200 B.C. On it, written in cuneiform, the script language of ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia, is a list of professions, described in small, repetitive impressed characters that look more like wedge-shape footprints than what we recognize as writing.

In fact “it is among the earliest examples of writings that we know of so far,” according to the institute’s director, Gil J. Stein, and it provides insights into the life of one of the world’s oldest cultures.

The new exhibition by the institute, part of the University of Chicago, is the first in the United States in 26 years to focus on comparative writing. It relies on advances in archaeologists’ knowledge to shed new light on the invention of scripted language and its subsequent evolution.

The show demonstrates that, contrary to the long-held belief that writing spread from east to west, Sumerian cuneiform and its derivatives and Egyptian hieroglyphics evolved separately from each another. And those writing systems were but two of the ancient forms of writing that evolved independently. Over a span of two millenniums, two other powerful civilizations — the Chinese and Mayans — also identified and met a need for written communication. Writing came to China as early as around 1200 B.C. and to the Maya in Mesoamerica long before A.D. 500.

“It was the first true information revolution,” Mr. Stein said. “By putting spoken language into material form, people could for the first time store and transmit it across time and space.”

The Oriental Institute spent two years assembling the show, much of which comes from its own collections. However, it did borrow important Sumerian pieces from other institutions, including the clay tablet from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, which has never before been seen in the United States.

Rest of article.

Chess Femme News! has an interview with IM Martha Fierro (on video).

2010 World Youth Chess Championships
Started today.
List of the U18 girls. includes Narmin Kazimova of Azerbaijan whom I first saw play a few years ago in the European Women's Chess Championship and was impressed. I haven't seen much of her since then - she did not play on the Azerbaijani women's chess team at the Olympiad. I'll be interested to see what she does - she's coming in ranked #6. The US has one participant in this section: Datta Anjali, rated 2025 and ranked 37th out of the 71 players entered in the section. Peru's Cori Deysi is the #1 seed and probably the favorite to take home the gold medal.

The USA has a contingent of 40 players (boys and girls) at this championship.

Following Wisconsin's Awonder Liang, his R1 pairing in the Boys' U8 Section is against Vietnam's Nguyen Anh Khoi. Nguyen, rated 1980 (wow) has white.

The 15th European Club Cup for Women
You can find the teams and their
rankings after 4 games at  Many of the top ranked female players in the world are playing on these teams.

AVS is in first place at the moment:
Team-Composition with round-results
1. AVS (RtgAvg:2511, Captain: Georgiev, Vladimir / TB1: 7 / TB2: 10,5)
Bo. Name Rtg FED FideID 1 2 3 4 5 Pts. Games RtgAvg
1 GM Stefanova Antoaneta 2551 BUL 2902257 1 ½ ½ 2,0 3 2456
2 GM Lahno Kateryna 2539 UKR 14109336 ½ ½ ½ ½ 2,0 4 2401
3 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2491 RUS 4147855 ½ 1 ½ ½ 2,5 4 2366
4 IM Muzychuk Mariya 2464 UKR 14114550 1 ½ 1 ½ 3,0 4 2325
5 WGM Savina Anastasia 2404 RUS 4196872 1 1,0 1 2104

As you can see - a very strong team!

The Georgians aren't laying down and playing dead, though:

Team-Composition with round-results
2. Samaia Tbilisi (RtgAvg:2464, Captain: Giorgadze, George / TB1: 7 / TB2: 9,5)
Bo. Name Rtg FED FideID 1 2 3 4 5 Pts. Games RtgAvg
1 GM Chiburdanidze Maia 2500 GEO 13600036 ½ 1 ½ 2,0 3 2537
2 IM Javakhishvili Lela 2451 GEO 13601458 0 0 ½ 0,5 3 2471
3 IM Melia Salome 2439 GEO 13602446 1 1 ½ ½ 3,0 4 2456
4 IM Khurtsidze Nino 2435 GEO 13600320 ½ 1 1 ½ 3,0 4 2388
5 IM Khotenashvili Bela 2464 GEO 13602640 1 0 1,0 2 2208

What is perhaps most notable about the Georgian women is their consistency, game after game. I'm glad to see Goddesschess' friend IM Salome Melia playing.

The team in 4th place at the moment boasts the two highest-rated female players after GM Judit Polgar and one of the first women to earn a GM title the traditional way, GM Pia Cramling:

Team-Composition with round-results
4. Cercle d'Echecs de Monte Carlo (RtgAvg:2554, Captain: Skripchenko, Almira / TB1: 5 / TB2: 11)
Bo. Name Rtg FED FideID 1 2 3 4 5 Pts. Games RtgAvg
1 GM Koneru Humpy 2593 IND 5008123 1 ½ 1 ½ 3,0 4 2441
2 GM Hou Yifan 2578 CHN 8602980 1 1 ½ 2,5 3 2424
3 IM Muzychuk Anna 2535 SLO 14111330 1 0 ½ 1,5 3 2265
4 GM Cramling Pia 2509 SWE 1700030 1 0 ½ 1,5 3 2370
5 IM Skripchenko Almira 2464 FRA 13900145 1 1 ½ 2,5 3 2194

What is shocking to me is that Koneru Humpy has dropped below 2600 and that Hou Yifan has not yet been able to breach 2600! They're both playing in too many women-only events and get trapped in the women's ratings ghetto. I know they're better players than their ratings reflect, and so is Pia Cramling. But strange things happen in the women's ratings ghetto, and both players have been spending an inordinate amount of time playing in women-only events.

Manitoba Chess Femme Getting Noticed

Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Chess player making all the Knight moves
Ranked provincially and nationally by Canadian chess organization
By: Rob Brown

Posted: 20/10/2010 2:51 AM

Dariya-Mariya Petryshyn doesn’t look very imposing, but she can send shivers down the spine of even the most seasoned chess player.

Petryshyn, 12, is ranked among the Top 10 players in the country in a handful of categories rated by Chess n’ Math, a national scholastic chess organization that pro­motes the game among Canadian youth.

The Fort Richmond product solidified her reputation as a phenom last month by finishing first overall in her category at a competitive tournament hosted at the University of Winnipeg that was open to all school aged children. She is currently ranked second among Manitoba Grade 8 students and second in the province for girls of all ages. She is currently ranked eighth among Grade 8 girls across Canada.

Petryshyn, a Grade 8 student at Stanley Knowles School, says what she likes most about the game is that it demands logic and making the right decisions.

"I like the strategy involved in the game," she says.

Petryshyn has come a long way since taking up the game just two years ago. Her mother, Orysya, says she didn’t starting taking it seriously until she was urged to by a couple of her teachers.

"Soon however, teachers wanted her to keep at it," her mother recalls.

Cecil Rosner, a leading Winnipeg authority on the game and a member of the Manitoba Chess Association’s board of directors, says the game is catching on with youngsters across the country.

"There is a bit of a trend going on with kids right now, the national organization Chess n’ Math has been really active in setting up and getting kids to play," Rosner says.

Rosner says while it is not uncommon for youth to learn how to play chess, kids like Petryshyn who take it seriously enough to become ranked are few and far between. He said the competitive chess community in Manitoba currently numbers about 150 members.

"There are few adults and fewer youth applying themselves this way, taking it seriously," he says.

Despite her passion for chess, Petryshyn still manages to find time for other pursuits. She plays a handful of musical instruments including flute, saxophone and violin and enjoys science and math at school.

She also recently helped organized a Haiti relief effort at school and is in the midst of organizing a chess club at Stanley Knowles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Newest Great-Niece Tripping Out to Music

She's so lovely!  My apologies if I've already posted this pic earlier - I honestly don't remember and I'm too tired tonight to go digging back through the archives tonight to check.  I also have not yet figured out the intracacies of grand-niece/great-niece -- not that she cares. She just wants to be loved and spoiled rotten by her Great-Aunty Jan :)

Peru Geoglyphs Slideshow

Check out this fascinating slideshow display. Mostly I saw bird's heads - lots of birds' heads.  In picture 7, what IS that orange-colored figure in the lower right hand area???  A stylized scorpion?  Something else?  I did not see a serpent in that image, despite the hint that it's eye was a lake and its forked tongue was two rivers.  Just did not see it.

So - are they there - or are we (the viewers) just imagining things, like seeing images in the clouds that are there for some moments and then disappear and form into something else?  One thing is certain, if there is anything there, it will soon be gone forever, wiped out by modern encroachment. 

And if there is something there, how the hell did they do it??? These images, if images they are, can only be recognized from on high.  What kind of technology did they utilize to create the birds' heads, and whatever other figures are there?  Would not the construction of the figures entail some very sophisticated mathematical calculations and surveying skills, in addition to directing an army of workers on a scale to rival those put to work building the pyramids and other great monuments in ancient Egypt?

We still have so much to learn!

Peru Geoglyphs: Slide Show
by Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Oct. 14, 2010 -- Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, assistant professor at the department of physics of Turin's Polytechnic University used Google satellite maps and AstroFracTool, an astronomical image-processing program which she developed, to investigate over 463 square miles of land around Peru's Titicaca Lake.

Enhanced satellite imagery suggest that some land forms were not only the remains of extensive agricultural systems, but also designs made to represent birds, snakes and other animals.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna
Read the full story

The Caral Figurines

Caral, in modern-day Peru, a center of settlement and substantial ruins dating back at least 5,000 years ago, and so a contemporary of Indus, Egypt, Sumer, but younger that Catalhoyuk and the civilizations of Old Europe.

Reported on at
The Caral Figurines
October 16, 2010

[Excerpted] The first civilizations in the Americas had their origins in the northern coastal valleys of the Peruvian coast, thousands of years before the Olmecs of Mexico. Only proven in the last decade thanks to the work of Ruth Shady at Caral, dozens of even older sites have now been discovered.

Caral, principal city of a civilization that has its founding traced back as far as 5000 years has given up a number of amazing surprises, one being the earliest quipu ever found which completely changed researcher’s ideas on their development and their age.

Not stopping there, Caral’s ancient people have offered up new opportunities for researchers to investigate.

The discoveries have also highlighted the importance women had in social structures, as evidenced by two statues discovered in recent years in the nearby site of Miraya of a priestess and her male companion. The woman, of high social status is shown in a solemn position in lavish attire and with many ornaments. The male is clearly shown to be waiting on her decision.

It seems women in these earliest of civilisations were often found in positions of importance, something seen in many of Peru ancient cultures.

So far, archaeologists in the Supe valley have found over 150 figurines, all made of unbaked clay from 5 to 11 cm in height.
For more information on the Caral civilization, please visit the links at the end of the article.

Ruins of Five Settlements Discovered in Azerjaiban

Ancient settlements discovered in Azerbaijan's Shaki and Gakh
Tue 19 October 2010 12:58 GMT | 7:58 Local Time

A group of archeologists discovered five ancient settlements.
A group of archeologists of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences discovered five ancient settlements in the territory of Shaki and Gakh regions of Azerbaijan, head of the archeological expedition Nasib Mukhtarov said.

He said the winter settlements discovered in Shaki and Gakh were allegedly founded in the period from 2nd millennium AC until 3rd century AD. Traces of the Gakh settlements were discovered in the territory of a former collective farm. Ceramics and potteries were found there. The archeologists also found ruins of a stone building in one of settlements.

Mukhtarov said a three-hectare settlement was discovered in Hajinohur area of Alazan-Haftaran valley in Shaki. They found ruins of burial mounds which prove that there were mines in that area in the end of the second millennium BC.

The archeologist said earlier the plain of Hajinohur was a white page for the Azerbaijani archeology, but materials found there will be very useful for the researchers of the Azerbaijani and regional history.
I don't pretend to be an expert on what the fight is about between the Armenians and the Azerbaijani but, ultimately, it's just lines someone drew on a map, just lines - and it wasn't the Armenians or the Azerbaijani who drew those lines. Those lines have nothing to do with the reality of where the ancestors of both Armenians and Azerbaijani came from originally, or how inter-related genetically they may be today.  It makes me sad.  I'd like to know more about these settlements, and how they relate to ancient tribes that were known to have settled in the region 5,000 plus years ago, and forget about all the baloney hostility, that extends even to chessplayers refusing to shake hands or even refusing to play each other.  That is just so silly.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XII: Reserve Section Standings for the Ladies

I told you how Shira did playing in the Open section of HCCC XII, here are the chess femmes who played in the Reserve Section, their standings and scores.  37 people played in the Reserve Section.

4. Anjana Murali unr to 1477 3.0 (Anjana has played in scholastic tournaments)
8. Sandra Pahl 1449 3.0
12. Joanna Huang 1367 2.5
18. Alena Huang 1369 2.0
22. Sandra Michelle Alba-Jimenez 806 2.0
32. Sabrina Huang 1075 1.0
34. Isabella Ilchenko 880 1.0
37. me (I would not take a prize that we're putting up the $$$ for even if I qualified for one)

Anjana Murali
Sandra Michelle Alba-Jimenez (?)

If the mental energy expended during a chess tournament could be
captured it would probably be enough to light New York City for
24 hours!  Concentrated mind power at work here.
I hope HCCC XIII will have an even better turnout.  Shira would like to return in April, 2011 for HCCC XIII but much depends on what part of the country her work will take her to at that time.  If she is able to visit me on April 16, 2011, barring unforeseen circumstance, I pledged to her that I would play in my second tournament with her.  Yes, I know - LOL!   

Awonder Liang

Awonder, one of the four chessplaying Liang children who hail from Madison, Wisconsin, will be representing the United States at the World Youth Chess Championships in Greece which start tomorrow.  Here is a recent newspaper article by Doug Moe about Awonder and his family. 

I had an opportunity to see the Liang children in action this past Saturday (October 16) at the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XII, and after I finished my last game and was decompressing at a table outside the playing room, I was introduced to Mr. Liang and enjoyed a chat with him.

Awonder, a very bright young man who is in the gifted program at his school, is good at lots of things according to his proud dad.  And he's a thoughtful young man, too, with a big heart.  He told his dad recently that if he gets money some day he wants to create a foundation to help other people.

At 7 years of age Awonder is already a national champion in his age group and is currently the top-rated player in the country in his age group.  Awonder has been playing chess since he was about 5 and has a USCF rating of 1807.  He is currently ranked 77th on the Wisconsin Top 200 Players List (no age restrictions on that list).

There are probably thousands of gifted young chessplayers in a similar position - they show great promise at an early age and would greatly benefit from instruction by a strong chess teacher.  The issue, as with other sports, is where do the funds come from to pay for needed training. Top Grandmaster instructors can charge between $80 to $100 per session, and as I understand it, typically there is one session a week.  The cost quickly adds up - a year's instruction would run between $4,000 to $6,000. 

Sponsorship - where does one find sponsorship for ongoing training expenses for a promising 7 year old chessplayer?

I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for Awonder as he plays in the World Youth Chess Championships and will root for him to have a great tournament.  By the way, Awonder played in the Open section at HCCC XII and finished in 20th place (out of 40 players) with 2.0, and improved his rating to 1842.  Brothers Adream and Able played in the Reserve section and finished, respectively, in 3rd place with 3.5 and 35th with 1.0, out of 37 players (I finished in 37th place, LOL!) 

NCFP to Philippines Women's Chess Team - You're Not Good Enough

Story at
NCFP pulling out RP ladies from Asiad
By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) Updated October 18, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Citing a slim chance to land a podium finish in next month’s 16th Asian Games, the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) is pulling out its five-member women’s team out of the quadrennial meet in Guangzhou, China.

NCFP executive director Willie Abalos told The STAR that upon the instruction of NCFP president Prospero Pichay, he will begin facilitating the withdrawal of the women’s crew composed of WFMs Cheradee Camacho, Sherily Cua, and Catherine Perena, national champ Rulp Ylem Jose and alternate Jedara Docena from RP’s Asiad delegation.

“The NCFP has made an honest-to-goodness assessment of the women’s team and Cong. Pichay feels their chances are slim against opponents like powerhouse China, which won second place in the last World Chess Olympiad, India, and Vietnam, which beat us, 4-0, in the Olympiad,” Abalos said in Filipino yesterday.

“At the same time, this is in line with what the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) and PSC (Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) have been preaching all along, which is not to send those with slim chances for medals to the Asian Games,” he added.

Apart from the “bleak medal prospects,” Abalos said the NCFP leadership feel the women’s team, which placed 44th overall in the recent Olympiad, does not have sufficient preparation for the Nov. 12-27 Games.

“They lack preparations and we feel the players are not fully concentrated on training, having to juggle training with work or studies. Some of them couldn’t even participate in tournaments we hold here,” he said.

With this, the NCFP will bank on the men’s team of GM Wesley So, newly reinstated board 2 player GM Joey Antonio, and GMs John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo and Eugene Torre for its medal aspirations in Guangzhou.

The five will compete in the men’s team standard competitions while So and Antonio will vie for the rapid individual gold.
The reasons given for pulling the Philippines Women's Chess Team from the upcoming Asian Games are assinine, and I doubt anyone will believe them except suck-ups. At least be honest about it - it's about money. It's always about money. Philippines says it doesn't want to fund a chess team that doesn't have a chance to win a medal - so they cancel the female players because, after all, there are no "international stars" on that team.  They will send the Men's Chess Team because of GM Wesley So.  but guess what - the Philippines Men's Chess Olympiad team, which had "international stars" including So - sucked!  It went into the games ranked 37th and finished in 50th place, while the Women's Chess Team composed of "no names" went in ranked 52nd and finished in 44th place - BETTER than the Men's Team performance.  So much for the "international stars."

The leadership of the NCFP sucks. Way to go, dudes, real encouraging for your country's chessplayers to know you don't back them 100%, particularly if they're female.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XII - Yet More Photos

What the 'bleep' am I doing here? And my hands were freezing!
Shira, either R1 or R3.  Look at that
determined look on her face.

Another photo of the same Shira game.
Robin Grochowski and Tom Fogec of Southwest Chess Club,
between rounds.

Round 2 action - notice all my black pieces taken off the board.
Geez, Jan!  What the bleep are you doing?  Well, I did manage
to make this game last against Suraj Kandukuri (USCF rating 1159)
for 27.5 moves before I resigned, LOL!

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XII - More Photos

Tom Fogec, Tournament Director.

Tired Jan - and it was before R1 started!

This table of female players were several ahead of me.  I started
out at table 16; after R1 was moved to table 17 and stayed there!
I don't remember if I already posted this - Crispin and Shira
in the skittles room after R2.
Shira in action; she had black in Rs 2 and 4 and
unfortunately lost both games.  Don't know
which R this is.
Isabella Ilchenko

Hales Corners Chess Challenge

We set a new record for this HCCC of number of female players attending:  9!  Out of 77 players, that's a percentage ratio of (quick, pull out the calculator--) almost 12%!  We were very happy with that, and hope to build on that and see more chess femmes at HCCC XIII in April, 2011. 

My friend Shira Evans won $40 for her performance in the Open Section in addition to paid entry in Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII, should she choose to play.  I'll post other Goddesschess prize winners here soon.

Here are some of the promised photos - but I am experiencing problems loading some the photos from the tournament here, don't know why.  The ones that are working are not necessarily in time-sequence order!

Shira before the start of HCCC XII.

Jan and Shira outside the Chapel at Forest Home Cemetery.  I was saying
something naughty to Shira about Crispin, the photographer :)

Crispin and Shira at St. Josephat's Basilica (crew setting up altar area
in background for a television shoot).

Me digging inside my purse for the Goddesschess flyers.  Tom
Fogec was kind enough to present one to each female player.
The rest went on display and only 1 was left at the end of play.

Some of the female players before the start of a round.  The man
in the background, this was his first tournament too.  He came in
unrated and had a win, and joined the Southwest Chess Club!

Shira at the board before R1.  She started at
Table 16, I believe she finished at Table 11, maybe higher.

A Poem by Crispin Sandford

Thanks to Crispin for allowing me to reproduce this absolutely splendid poem here.  The circumstances of its creation occurred one late summer afternoon as he was taking a stroll through the countriside on a perfect day, one of those days that takes your breath away in its perfection.  As he walked along, revelling in the beauty of the crystalline sky, the feel of the ground beneath his feet, the rich scents of earth and flowers and greenery on the air, and the sights of the verdent flora, he gradually "heard" music inside his mind - an opera - the most beautiful, indescribable music he'd ever heard and he seemed to be transported to another level of existence, a sort of super-awareness and consciousness. Was it the Music of the Spheres that he was somehow attuned to for those moments and "heard" in its awesome majesty and beauty?  To me, this is an achingly beautiful paeon to the Goddess:


When she sings, all my worldly
concerns evaporate, dissipate, crumble and
degenerate into petty foibles that now are gone.

No more is my attention hell-bent
against them, fueling and enflaming them
with fury.

All that matters is that I hear the
truth she sings, and how she sings it; the
subtleties that her heart and attention
reveal - how she frames it, how I taste it -
the intricacies that now seem as real and
deadly as tempered steel in the hands of a warrior king.

Oh such piercing blows. Oh such
devastating blows. Yet, they are from
wisdom’s armory, and hit upon one with
the delicacy of a summer breeze. Yet, they
do sting, oh how they sting.

And I, upon my knees can only weep:
bravo, bravo.

Crispin H. Sandford

Bravo Copyright 2004 Crispin H. Sandford. All Rights Reserved. Printed by the Parley Press in the U.S.A.

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XII

Standings/results are already posted at the USCF website.

Shira is happy that her rating increased to 1747 from the results at the Challenge (scored 50%).  I now have a provisional rating, which is pretty funny, actually.  As I told Tom, it felt very strange to be playing chess against players young enough to be my grandchildren.  As I came in an unrated player, I was matched against lower rated players and those are the younger ones.

It wasn't exactly that I was "prepared" to play in the tournament but I felt I had my nerves fairly under control, until the first game started after my young opponent, a very nice young man, showed me how the clock works and I suddenly realized that I needed to record the moves of the game.  EEK!  I got so flustered and could not focus on either playing or writing the moves down very well - after a couple of moves I forgot about even trying to write down my opponent's moves, I was having a hard enough time just writing down my own!  Several of them are probably wrong in any event, because I am not so familiar with the chessboard that I instantly recognize where a piece was moved to, I really had to look -- check the file, check the rank -- to get the letter and the number of the square!  As a consequence, but no excuse, the game was a fiasco!  I lasted all of 14 moves and resign well before 30 minutes (for both of us) had passed!

I did not expect any of my games to result in wins, I had hoped I might score a draw and my best chance probably came in game 3.  I recognized one move too late a real killing move, too late to also prevent my opponent from recognizing the threat and saving herself, eventually going on to win the game.  At least games 2 and 3 were over 30 moves each, and I was proud of my efforts in those 2 games, even though I lost them both.  Game 4 I was utterly exhausted and did not play well at all.  I think I just wanted it to be over!

All in all, I greatly enjoyed my first chess tournament and my hosts from Southwest Chess Club, Allen Becker, Tom Fogec, and Robin Grochowski, who were attentive and helpful.  I had some flyers for Goddesschess which Tom passed out to each female player present and the rest were placed on a table for anyone interested, along with flyers on various upcoming tournaments, advertisements for coaches, etc. 

Crispin, Shira's significant other, decided against playing and when he wasn't taking photographs and watching us play, he was working on his laptop in the skittles room.  He took lots of photographs, I am going to post many of them here.

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII (the number of the Goddess, by the way), is set for April 16, 2011 at the same hotel, which was a very nice one with clean, modern facilities, pleasantly decorated and lots of bathrooms!  My only complaint is that the "pantry," as it was called, a sort of self-serve mini-store, was very expensive.  $1.50 for candy bars and not a large selection, but I paid it because after Game 2 I badly needed some chocolate!  A bottle of wine would have helped too although certainly would not have aided my play :)

Hales Corners Chess challenge XII!

It's all over - for now, darlings!

I came, I saw - I lost!  LOL!  Every single game.  I'm exhausted.  I must get in shape, geez!  It's hard work playing against people young enough to be my grandchildren.

Shira Evans, playing black, Round 2, HCCC XII, October 16, 2010.
Today I put my foot where my mouth is and showed up, as promised, at the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XII, together with my friend and chess buddy Shira Evans and new friend Crispin Sanderson.  Crispin didn't play, but he cheered both Shira and I on as Shiras played in the Open, the only chess femme to do so, and I played in the Reserve Section along with five other chess femmes.

For my efforts, despite losing all four games, I have earned a tenative USCF rating of 700-something.  Honestly, I was so tired earlier this evening when I asked Shira to do a preliminary calculation and was right in the middle of cooking supper for us, a very hungry and very tired trio, that I do not remember what she said, but I do remember 700--something.  LOL!

We had filet mignon, mashed new red potatoes drenched in butter and cream, and spring peas that, unfortunately even given a bath under water and then a rescue-me drench in butter in the microwave, turned out icky. They were frost-bit and dried out, nothing could save them, alas.  I should take the package back to the Pick 'n Save and demand my money back!  The steak and potatoes were fab, that saved the evening, plus we were all starving!  Just about anything tastes great when one is starving.  So, my reputation as a five star cook remains, more or less, intact :)

More tomorrow when I've gotten some sleep under my belt.  It's about 1:50 a.m. now  We capped the night off watching that most wonderful movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and it reaffirmed to me just why I made a fool of myself today - for the love of the game, which I will never be any good playing because I lack discipline but, you know, as the saying goes, "hope springs eternal."

The good news is that Shira, the only female playing in the Open Section, scored 50%, winnings games 1 and 3.  Preliminarily, we calculated she added ratings points to her ELO.  More tomorrow when full reports will be available on standings and which chess femmes won prizes for their wins and draws.
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