Friday, January 7, 2011

Watching a City Die a Slow, Painful Death

The images say it all.  The Ruins of Detroit,, January 4, 2011.

Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel.  Closed, early 1990s.  Detroit, Michigan.

Rilton Cup

Final standings for the 2010-2011 Rilton Cup (9 rounds, 70 players).  Hint:  Pia Cramling did okay, she finished in 11th place (her start place was #12):

Plac.NamnNationRatingKlubbPoäng TB1  TB2 
1GMVolkov SergeyRUS25948,040,00,0
2GMShimanov AleksandrRUS2516Sollentuna SK7,539,50,0
3GMNaiditsch ArkadijGER26856,537,00,0
4GMKarlsson LarsSWE2466SK Rockaden6,531,00,0
5GMIvanov SergeyRUS2536Sollentuna SK6,529,50,0
6GMGrandelius NilsSWE2525Lunds ASK6,037,50,0
7GMSokolov IvanNED26426,031,00,0
8GMGleizerov EvgenyRUS25726,030,50,0
9GMBerg EmanuelSWE2627Burgsviks SK6,030,00,0
10GMÅkesson RalfSWE2434Västerås SK6,029,00,0
11GMCramling PiaSWE2526Sollentuna SK6,028,50,0
12GMMacieja BartlomiejPOL26365,533,00,0
13GMBerczes DavidHUN2526SK Team Viking5,531,50,0
14IMFurhoff JohanSWE2365Södra SASS5,530,00,0
15FMUrkedal FrodeNOR24385,530,00,0

37th Premier National Women Chess Championship

Final standings after Round 11:

Rk.NameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
1WGMSoumya SwaminathanIND2332MAH8,565,060,057,0
2WGMSwathi GhateIND2302MAH8,064,560,556,0
3WGMGomes Mary AnnIND2306WB8,064,560,056,0
4WGMPadmini RoutIND2352ORI7,565,560,557,0
5IMTania SachdevIND2385DEL7,066,561,558,0
6WGMMohota NishaIND2325PSPB7,065,060,056,5
7Pratyusha BoddaIND2086AP6,065,060,056,5
8IMKaravade EeshaIND2369MAH5,564,560,556,0
9WGMKiran Manisha MohantyIND2230ORI5,558,554,550,5
10WFMBharathi RIND2111TN5,558,554,550,0
11Harini SIND2063TN5,554,550,546,0
12Aparajita GochhikarIND1871AICF5,553,549,545,5
13Arunima KalraIND1866DEL5,551,047,043,0
14WFMSwati MohotaIND2090WB5,062,558,554,0
15WFMPujari RuchaIND2114MAH5,055,052,046,5
16Amrutha MokalIND2089MAH5,052,548,545,5
17A AkshayaIND2022TN5,051,048,044,0
18Preethi RIND2073TN5,051,048,043,5
19Rathore SonakshiIND1971RAJ4,550,047,042,0
20WFMSaranya JIND2123TN4,058,555,550,5
21Sithalatchumi AIND1917TN4,053,050,045,0
22Shweta GoleIND1906MAH4,048,545,543,0
23Minki SinhaIND1880BIH3,048,044,042,5
24Nivedhitha J GIND1819AICF2,547,043,041,5

The top finishers are a "who's who" of the best Indian female chessplayers, but I can't help but notice that their ELOs are declining from what they used to be, when they should be going in the other direction.  Welcome to the ghetto of women's chess.  Tania Sachdev's ELO used to be above 2400.  And where were Dronavalli, Koneru and either (or both) of the Subbaraman sisters? 

Judit Polgar Sighting

Judit Polgar. Photo from article.
 From Chessbase
Judit Polgar in Rocca di Papa
Report by Diana Mihajlova
January 7, 2011

Judit Polgar has made a conscious decision to return to playing chess events, despite knowing that with the time she wants to devote to her children and husband, she will probably never reach the top ranks again. ‘It is not easy with a child. I thought I would be back soon after my first child was born. It was strange to be off the list for a year[FIDE list of active players], during which time my sister took my place. When the second child came, I felt that if I would continue playing, it would be impossible to reach the level I want – either as a mother or as a chess player. So I decided to take a break from chess. I am coming back now. The results are not the best. In the last year and a half, I realized I can play again but not at the highest level.'

Judit Polgar’s next visit to Italy will be this spring at the new Ravenna International Chess Tournament – Lido Adriano, 2-10 April. She will play a simul on April 9th.  Here's a poster from that upcoming event:

Phiona Mutesi, Female Chessplayer from Uganda

I have no idea what was going on in this Gambit blog by Dylan McClain.  What was he trying to say?  What was his point?  That this young woman from a poor African country, a young woman who does not even know her own birthdate, is some kind of calculating fraud?  Is that what you were saying, Dylan McClain?

January 5, 2011, 5:10 pm
ESPN Discovers a Chess Prodigy. Or Not.

ESPN the Magazine has a story in the current issue about a young chess player from Uganda named Phiona Mutesi. The story is titled “Game of Her Life” with a smaller headline, “For 14-year-old chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, chess is a lifeline.”

Written by Tim Crothers, the article tells the story of how Phiona went to play in the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, last year, and about her impoverished upbringing. It is a touching story, full of vivid detail.

Crothers spent time with Phiona in Uganda and at the Olympiad and he interviewed her opponents in the competition, including Dina Kagramanov, the Canadian champion, who was generous in her assessment of Phiona’s skill, saying, “Anybody can be taught moves and how to react to those moves, but to reason like she does at her age is a gift that gives her the potential for greatness.”

But will Phiona achieve greatness? Is she a prodigy? Rest of article.

I think everyone should read the online article at ESPN, and judge for themselves about Phiona Mutesi and her life:

Updated: January 4, 2011, 5:58 PM ET
Game of her life: For 14-year-old chess progidy Phiona Mutesi, chess is a lifeline
By Tim Crothers
ESPN The Magazine

A Great Dog Story!

In the news today --

Heil Hound: Nazis dogged by Hitler-mocking mutt
By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press Kirsten Grieshaber, Associated Press – Fri Jan 7, 6:19 pm ET
Jackie the Dog and his pet Man.
BERLIN – Newly discovered documents have revealed a bizarre footnote to World War II: the Nazis' dogged obsession with a Finnish mutt who gave not a howl, but a heil. And, just as absurdly, the totalitarian state that dominated most of Europe was unable to do much about the canine's paw-raising parody of Germany's Fuehrer.

In the months preceding Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, Berlin's Foreign Office commanded its diplomats in the Nazi-friendly country to gather evidence on the dog and its owner — and even plotted to destroy the owner's pharmaceutical business.

Historians were unaware of the scheme until some 30 files containing correspondence and diplomatic cables were found by a researcher in the Foreign Office archives.

Klaus Hillenbrand, an expert on the Nazi period who examined the documents, called the episode "completely bizarre."

"Just months before the Nazis launched their attack on the Soviet Union, they had nothing better to do than to obsess about this dog," he told The Associated Press.

The Dalmatian mix named Jackie was owned by Tor Borg, a businessman from the Finnish city of Tampere. Borg's wife Josefine, a German citizen known for her anti-Nazi sentiments, dubbed the dog "Hitler" because of the way it raised a paw high in the air, much like Germans greeting the Fuehrer with a cry of "Heil Hitler!"

In one photo, Borg, a jovial businessman known for his sense of humor, appears with Jackie by his side wearing a pair of round sunglasses.

On Jan. 29, 1941, the German vice consul in Helsinki, Willy Erkelenz, wrote that "a witness, who does not want to be named, said ... he saw and heard how Borg's dog reacted to the command 'Hitler' by raising its paw."

Borg was ordered to the German Embassy in Helsinki and questioned about his dog's unusual greeting habits.

The businessman denied ever calling the dog by the German dictator's name, but acknowledged that his wife called the dog Hitler. He tried to play down the accusations, saying the paw-raising only happened a few times in 1933 — shortly after Hitler came to power.

Borg assured the Nazi diplomats that he never did anything "that could be seen as an insult against the German Reich," according to the documents.

The zealous diplomats in Helsinki did not believe him and wrote back to Berlin that "Borg, even though he claims otherwise, is not telling the truth."

The ministries involved — the Foreign Office, the Economy Ministry and even Hitler's Chancellory — meticulously reported all their findings about the hound.

The Economy Ministry announced that the German chemical conglomerate IG Farben, which supplied Borg's wholesale trade with pharmaceuticals, agreed to cut all ties, which would have destroyed his business.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office was looking for ways to bring Borg to trial for insulting Hitler. But in the end, none of the witnesses were willing to repeat their accusations in front of a judge.

So, when on March 21, 1941, the Foreign Office asked the Chancellory whether to press charges against Borg, the reply came back: "Considering that the circumstances could not be solved completely, it is not necessary to press charges."

There's no evidence Hitler, who owned a German Shepherd named Blondi, was ever told of the case, even if it made it all the way to his Chancellory, Hillenbrand said.

Finland cooperated with Nazi Germany during WWII, and Helsinki was one of the few European capitals the Nazis never occupied.

As for Borg, he and his company survived the war unscathed. He died in 1959 at age 60; his wife Josefine passed away in 1971.

Borg's company Tampereen Rohduskuppa Oy went on to become Tamro Group, the leading wholesale company for pharmaceuticals in the Nordic countries.

And Jackie, the Hitler-saluting canine, also died a natural death, according to Tamro spokeswoman Margit Nieminen.

She said the company was not aware of the dog's place in history until the recent archive discovery.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Harappan Era "Stone Toys" Discovered in Kutch?

The Lothal artifacts.  Game
pieces, most likely.  But, could
they possibly be chess pieces?
"Stone toys" - could they be what some Indian archaeologists have identified as "chess pieces" from Lothal?  The article is tantalizing, and provides almost no information!

From The Times of IndiaOrnaments of Harappan era found in Kutch
TNN, Jan 5, 2011, 10.50pm IST

BHUJ: In a remarkable finding, officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have recovered a number of artifacts belonging to Harappan era from Khirsara (Netra-Gadhwali) in Nakhatrana taluka of Kutch district during an ongoing excavation.

Jitendra Das, superintending archaeologist, excavation branch ASI Baroda, said: "At least two necklaces, resembling present-day gold ornaments, have been recovered beside other artifacts like stone toys, utensils, weighing stones etc. The ornaments are similar to those recovered from a Harappan site in Lothal, near Ahmedabad. The artifacts will be sent to laboratory for determining their age."

A fifteen-member team of ASI has been camping at the site for past 18 months with over sixty labourers deployed at the site. The excavation is being carried out on a ten-acre plot of land.

5,000 Year Old Civilization Found in Iran?

Yeah, right.  Even if this report is true (the Iranian press routinely lies), by the time it's published (like - now) the looters, the locals and, most efficient of all, the Revolutionary Guard, will have been there and removed anything of value.  We've seen it happen over and over again.  One prime example I reported on at Goddesschess was the discovery of Jiroft, and the rash of looting and faked antiquities that came out of the area (under the auspices of the Revolutionary Guard) within a few days of its discovery.  But, for what it is worth, here is the article. I am very very sorry for the archeologists who must work under the current regime in Iran.

Archaeologists may have found 5,000-year-old civilization in southern Iran
Tehran Times Culture Desk
January 5, 2011

TEHRAN -- A team of archaeologists working on Bam riverside in Kerman Province have recently unearthed ruins of a large ancient site, which are believed to belong to a 5000-year-old civilization.

The site was discovered while excavating for a construction project in the Khajeh Askar region near the city of Bam, team director Nader Alidadi-Soleimani told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, part of the site was damaged during the excavation,” he said.

“Based on the artifacts unearthed there, the site was one of the early places of human habitation in Iran, whose inhabitants had a connection with other civilizations such as the Jiroft civilization,” he explained.

The team has also discovered a number of pieces of intact pottery and shards. Study of the artifacts suggests that use of potter’s wheel was not common at the site.

Alidadi-Soleimani also said that two styles of burial, one for a man and another for woman, have been identified at two cemeteries discovered at the site.

One of the bodies was buried in a fetal position and another was lying face up.

The bodies had been buried with various artifacts. A seashell containing chromatic material used for women’s cosmetics was found beside one of the bodies.

The Jiroft civilization was discovered next to the Halil-Rud River in Kerman Province in 2002 when reports surfaced of extensive illegal excavations and plundering of priceless historical items in the area by locals.

Since 2002, five excavation seasons have been carried out at the Jiroft site under the supervision of Yusef Majidzadeh, leading to the discovery of a ziggurat made of more than four million mud bricks dating back to about 2200 BC.

Many ancient ruins and interesting artifacts have been excavated by archaeologists at the Jiroft ancient site, which is known as the “archeologists’ lost heaven”.

After the numerous unique discoveries in the region, Majidzadeh declared Jiroft to be the cradle of art. [Well, it's not.] Many scholars questioned the theory since no writings or architectural structures had yet been discovered at the site, but shortly afterwards his team discovered inscriptions at Konar Sandal Ziggurat, causing experts to reconsider their opinions about it. [Not the oldest evidence for 'writing', however, so blah blah.]

The Konar Sandal inscriptions are older than the Inshushinak inscription, suggesting that the recently discovered inscriptions link Proto Elamite script, which first appeared in Susa about 2900 BC, with Old Elamite, which was used between about 2250 and 2220 BC.

Many Iranian and foreign experts see the findings in Jiroft as signs of a civilization as great as Sumer and ancient Mesopotamia. Majidzadeh believes that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta, which was described as a great civilization in a Sumerian clay inscription. [This last comment is pure propaganda and clear evidence of the current Iranian regime's religious inferiority complex to Iraq's religious sect].

Great Exhibit at the China Institute in New York

Exhibition: Along the Yangzi River: Regional Culture of the Bronze Age from Hunan
January 27– June 12, 2011

Here's our little friend, the elephant, showing up as a Hunan cast bronze from the - you guessed it - Bronze Age! 
And in the Exhibit too.  So much for one theory that Xiang Qi (Chinese Chess) had to have been imported from India
(at a much later date) because China did not "know" about elephants.  After all, so the argument goes,
 the game was named after an elephant. Next theory, please...
The middle bank of the Yangzi River is one of the most significant cradles of Chinese civilization and a historical area for study of Chinese bronze culture. Several important excavations in the past few decades have enabled us to examine the little known aspects of this culture through exquisite bronze vessels. This exhibition will reveal the fascinating story of this regional culture in three ways: the development and characteristics of Hunan bronzes, their function and patronage, and their cultural connection to central China.

This is an original exhibition organized by China Institute Gallery in collaboration with the Hunan Provincial Museum. The exhibition is directed by Willow Hai Chang, Director of China Institute Gallery, and co-curated by Chen Jianming, Director of the Hunan Provincial Museum, Jay Xu, Director of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and Fu Juliang, Curator of the Bronze Collection at the Hunan Provincial Museum. A scholarly bilingual catalogue will be published by China Institute Gallery.

125 East 65th St, between Lexington and Park Avenues

Gallery Hours:
Monday – Sunday               10am – 5pm
Tuesday and Thursday     10am – 8pm          
Free admission from 6pm-8pm

Closed in between exhibitions and on major holidays.

Adults $7 Students and seniors (with valid ID) $4Free Children under 12    Free Members of China Institute, Asia Society, and Channel Thirteen

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Linguistics: Maybe Jason and the Argonaut's Greek Isn't Extinct After All...

Absolutely fascinating - and what a discovery!

From the
Jason and the argot: land where Greek's ancient language survives
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Monday, 3 January 2011

An isolated community near the Black Sea coast in a remote part of north-eastern Turkey has been found to speak a Greek dialect that is remarkably close to the extinct language of ancient Greece.

As few as 5,000 people speak the dialect but linguists believe that it is the closest, living language to ancient Greek and could provide an unprecedented insight into the language of Socrates and Plato and how it evolved.

The community lives in a cluster of villages near the Turkish city of Trabzon in what was once the ancient region of Pontus, a Greek colony that Jason and the Argonauts are supposed to have visited on their epic journey from Thessaly to recover the Golden Fleece from the land of Colchis (present-day Georgia). Pontus was also supposed to be the kingdom of the mythical Amazons, a fierce tribe of women who cut off their right breasts in order to handle their bows better in battle.

Linguists found that the dialect, Romeyka, a variety of Pontic Greek, has structural similarities to ancient Greek that are not observed in other forms of the language spoken today. Romeyka's vocabulary also has parallels with the ancient language.

Ioanna Sitaridou, a lecturer in romance philology at the University of Cambridge, said: "Romeyka preserves an impressive number of grammatical traits that add an ancient Greek flavour to the dialect's structure, traits that have been completely lost from other modern Greek varieties.

"Use of the infinitive has been lost in all other Greek dialects known today – so speakers of Modern Greek would say 'I wasn't able that I go' instead of 'I wasn't able to go'. But, in Romeyka, not only is the infinitive preserved, but we also find quirky infinitival constructions that have never been observed before – only in the Romance languages are there parallel constructions."

The villagers who speak Romeyka, which has no written form, show other signs of geographic and cultural isolation. They rarely marry outside their own community and they play a folk music on a special instrument, called a kemenje in Turkish and Romeyka or lyra as it is called in Greek, Dr Sitaridou said. "I only know of one man who married outside his own village," she said. "The music is distinctive and cannot be mistaken for anything else. It is clearly unique to the speakers of Romeyka."

One possibility is that Romeyka speakers today are the direct descendants of ancient Greeks who lived along the Black Sea coast millennia ago – perhaps going back to the 6th or 7th centuries BC when the area was first colonised. But it is also possible that they may be the descendants of indigenous people or an immigrant tribe who were encouraged or forced to speak the language of the ancient Greek colonisers.

Romeykas-speakers today are devout Muslims, so they were allowed to stay in Turkey after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, when some two million Christians and Muslims were exchanged between Greece and Turkey. Repeated waves of emigration, the dominant influence of the Turkish-speaking majority, and the complete absence of Romeyka from the public arena, have now put it on the list of the world's most endangered languages.

"With as few as 5,000 speakers left in the area, before long, Romeyka could be more of a heritage language than a living vernacular. With its demise would go an unparalleled opportunity to unlock how the Greek language has evolved," said Dr Sitaridou. "Imagine if we could speak to individuals whose grammar is closer to the language of the past. Not only could we map out a new grammar of a contemporary dialect but we could also understand some forms of the language of the past. This is the opportunity that Romeyka presents us with."

Studies of the grammar of Romeyka show that it shares a startling number of similarities with Koine Greek of Hellenistic and Roman times, which was spoken at the height of Greek influence across Asia Minor between the 4th century BC to the 4th century AD.

Modern Greek, meanwhile, has undergone considerable changes from its ancient counterpart, and is thought to have emerged from the later Medieval Greek spoken between the 7th and 13th Centuries AD – so-called Byzantine Greek.

Future research will try to assess how Pontic Greek from the Black Sea coast evolved over the centuries. "We know that Greek has been continuously spoken in Pontus since ancient times and can surmise that its geographic isolation from the rest of the Greek-speaking world is an important factor in why the language is as it is today," Dr Sitaridou said. "What we don't yet know is whether Romeyka emerged in exactly the same way as other Greek dialects but later developed its own unique characteristics which just happen to resemble archaic Greek.

Many of the world's languages are disappearing as once-isolated populations become part of the global economy, with children failing to learn the language of their grandparents and instead using the dominant language of the majority population, which in this part of the world is Turkish.

"In Pontus, we have near-perfect experimental conditions to assess what may be gained and what may be lost as a result of language contact," Dr Sitaridou said. [Oh my...]

Ancient Trade: Cretan Tools Point to 130,000 Year Old Sea Travel

You read that correctly - 130,000 year old sea travel in the Mediterranean.  Story at the

AP foreign, Monday January 3 2011
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Archaeologists on the island of Crete have discovered what may be evidence of one of the world's first sea voyages by human ancestors, the Greek Culture Ministry said Monday. [How can they be so sure this was a journey by "human ancestors?"  How do they know they have their dating right?  How do they know the accepted chronology of "evolution" is correct, for that matter - ah, but that's an argument for somewhere else.  If memory serves me correctly, so-called "modern" man appeared on the scene about 100,000 years ago.  But what if "modern" man is older than previously thought?  What if the entire chronology is flawed because we have so much information missing?  Just a thought --]

A ministry statement said experts from Greece and the U.S. have found rough axes and other tools thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old close to shelters on the island's south coast.

Crete has been separated from the mainland for about five million years, so whoever made the tools must have traveled there by sea (a distance of at least 40 miles). That would upset the current view that human ancestors migrated to Europe from Africa by land alone.

"The results of the survey not only provide evidence of sea voyages in the Mediterranean tens of thousands of years earlier than we were aware of so far, but also change our understanding of early hominids' cognitive abilities," the ministry statement said.

The previous earliest evidence of open-sea travel in Greece dates back 11,000 years (worldwide, about 60,000 years — although considerably earlier dates have been proposed).

The tools were found during a survey of caves and rock shelters near the village of Plakias by archaeologists from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Culture Ministry.

Such rough stone implements are associated with Heidelberg Man and Homo Erectus, extinct precursors of the modern human race, which evolved from Africa about 200,000 years ago.

"Up to now we had no proof of Early Stone Age presence on Crete," said senior ministry archaeologist Maria Vlazaki, who was not involved in the survey. She said it was unclear where the hominids had sailed from, or whether the settlements were permanent.

"They may have come from Africa or from the east," she said. "Future study should help."

The team of archaeologists has applied for permission to conduct a more thorough excavation of the area, which Greek authorities are expected to approve later this year.

37th Indian National Women's "A" (Premier) Chess Championship

One more round to go -- from

Orissa: Soumya Swaminathan snatches solo lead in national woman Chess Championship
Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Bhubaneswar: Former World Junior girls champion Woman Grand Master (WGM) Soumya Swaminathan scored seven points by the end of ninth round and snatched the sole lead in the 37th National Premier women Chess Championship at Infosys Campus here on Monday.

Soumy confronted center counter defence of WFM Swati Mohota and took control of centre, after winning many pawns transposed to a simple won rock and pawn end game. In the top board WGM Anna Mary Gomes forced to share the point with WGM Nisha Mohota, Gomes with 6.5 points placed second. While local favorite WGM Padmini Rout split the points with IM Easha Karaveda and scored six points and share the third place with WGM Swati Ghate and IM Tania Sachadev. Other Odisha players WGM Kiran Manisa Mohanty and Aparajita Gochhikar registered win in their respective rounds and scored five and 4.5 points respectively.

10th Annual Lindsborg Open at the Karpov Chess School

A nice story on this Kansas event - and good to see some teenaged girls with trophies as well as the boys!  As reported at 

10th Annual Lindsborg Open

Photo:  Attached – Caption:  (l to r): Hannah Purdy, Elijah Purdy,
Peter Bradshaw, Gabriel Purdy, Rachel Hasch, Tyler Kocher,
Lyle Taylor, and Braden Johnson. 
Photo credit: Mellisae Stiles | Buy Journal Photos
Thirty-three chess players from throughout Kansas came to the Karpov Chess School in Lindsborg to compete in the 10th annual Lindsborg Open.   The Lindsborg Open has been called the Kansas Christmas tournament because of its close proximity to Christmas.

Jason Wawrzaszek, a chess Expert from Wichita, narrowly won 1st place with 4.5 points out of a possible five.   “Jason has been a consistent winner of a number of tournaments, including our Spring Quads,” said Marck R. Cobb, president of the International Chess Institute of the Midwest (ICIM).  ICIM owns and operates the Karpov Chess School in Lindsborg, Kansas.

Peter Bradshaw, Concordia; Lyle Taylor, Pratt; Gabriel and Hannah R. Purdy, Oxford, Kansas tied for 2nd place with 4.0 points, each.   Gabriel and Hannah Purdy are both members of the well-known Purdy Home School chess team that often competes and wins scholastic chess team events.  Tom Brownscombe directed the event.

Rilton Cup

One more round to go.  GM Pia Cramling is, coincidentally (?) in 12th place, where she started the tournament ranking-wise.   Results below from

Rank after Round 8

Rk.NameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2 
1RUSGMVolkov SergeyRUS25947,032,00,0
RUSGMShimanov AleksandrRUS2516Sollentuna SK7,032,00,0
3SWEGMGrandelius NilsSWE2525Lunds ASK6,031,50,0
4GERGMNaiditsch ArkadijGER26856,030,50,0
5POLGMMacieja BartlomiejPOL26365,527,50,0
6HUNGMBerczes DavidHUN2526SK Team Viking5,526,00,0
7NEDGMSokolov IvanNED26425,525,00,0
8SWEGMKarlsson LarsSWE2466SK Rockaden5,524,50,0
9SWEGMBerg EmanuelSWE2627Burgsviks SK5,524,00,0
10SWEGMÅkesson RalfSWE2434Västerås SK5,523,00,0
11RUSGMIvanov SergeyRUS2536Sollentuna SK5,523,00,0
12SWEGMCramling PiaSWE2526Sollentuna SK5,522,50,0

Southwest Chess Club Action!

This Thursday --

Ice Bergs Floating on Lake Michigan Swiss” (see below for details).  We plan to start promptly at 7:00 p.m.  Registration is 6:20-6:50 p.m.  Registration closed at 6:50.  If you arrive after first-round pairings are prepared, you will have to take a 1/2-point bye in the first round. 

However, if you want to play but anticipate being a few minutes late, please e-mail Robin Grochowski or Tom Fogec or call Robin 414-861-2745 or Tom 414-425-6742 prior to 4:00 p.m. on January 6, so we can include you in the pairings.  If you need a first round bye please let us know as soon as possible and you can have one.  Thanks.  Hope to see everybody on Thursday. 
Ice Bergs Floating on Lake Michigan Swiss, January 6, 13, 20 & 27
4-Round Swiss in Two Sections (Open and U1600).
Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5.00. (One ½-Point
Bye Available for any round (except round four) if requested
at least 2-days prior to round).
TD is Grochowski; ATD is Fogec.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Replica of Phoencian Ship Successfully Completes Journey

From The Dorset Echo (online):

The history maker
8:24am Friday 31st December 2010
By Laura Kitching [Exerpted]

A DORSET expedition leader is celebrating a successful sailing year after recreating the first circumnavigation of Africa in a wooden boat.

Philip Beale battled the odds to complete his dream quest of re-enacting the 20,000 nautical mile historic voyage, believed to have been undertaken by Phoenicians more than 2,500 years ago, according to Greek historian Herodotus.

It took two years and two months and involved in-depth research into Phoenician history, ship construction, design and building of a 20m wooden replica Phoenician ship in Syria and teamwork by international sailors to safely navigate through the pirate-infested waters off Somalia.

Now Beale, of East Chaldon, near Lulworth, has made history but rather than rest on his laurels, his sights are set on bringing the vessel back to the United Kingdom – and to its home port of Weymouth – in 2012/13.

The Top Female Players

December, 2010 List from USCF (top 10 only):

1Krush, Irina (12543137)NYUSA2552
2Zatonskih, Anna (12873912)NYUSA2525
3Abrahamyan, Tatev (12851435)CAUSA2410
4Baginskaite, Camilla (12716466)SDUSA2379
5Melekhina, Alisa (12726115)PAUSA2361
6Belakovskaia, Anjelina (12559824)AZUSA2354
7Foisor, Sabina-Francesca (14012260)MDUSA2347
8Zenyuk, Iryna (12846035)PAUSA2320
9Rohonyan, Katerina (12973020)WAUSA2319
10Grinfeld, Alla (12717614)NYUSA2252

GM Judit Polgar checked in at #53 on the January, 2011 FIDE Top 100 ratings list (not women-only) with a rating of 2686.  The elite players are all now rated above 2700, with the top 3 in the world rated above 2800!

Coming back down to earth, here is the list of the top 10 women on the FIDE world list:

Susan Polgar Honored by Young Chess Star

I have written here from time to time about the personal kindness of Susan Polgar and her behind-the-scenes-acts of charity and generosity.  I am therefore very happy to report this, which I just saw at her website.  I think it is a wonderful expression of admiration and gratitude for one of our chess greats.  Here, the information is from Claudia Munoz's own website:

ChessCampeona Editorial Council

We have selected GM Susan Polgar as the winner of the 2010 ChessCampeona Award in the category of “AMERICAN CHESS ORGANIZER COMEBACK STORY OF THE YEAR”. GM Susan Polgar faced numerous political chess problems in 2009 that caused the USCF to remove its support of the SUSAN POLGAR NATIONAL INVITATIONAL. This tournament was an important event in the annual cycle of the owner of this website, 13-year old WCM Claudia Munoz.

We congratulate GM Susan Polgar for innovating a different style of event as she created the SUSAN POLGAR GIRLS INVITATIONAL to substitute the SPNI. Although Claudia was unable to attend this event due to the recuperation process of a gall bladder operation, GM Susan Polgar took the time to personally call and inquire on Claudia’s participation.

The easiest thing for GM Susan Polgar was to give up in girls chess, she has only gotten started. This is the reason why we symbolically award her our recognition.

2010 was a very successful year for the Knight Raiders at Texas Tech, whom Polgar coaches.  In addition, SPICE (Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence) sponsored prime time invitational chess events featuring more players than ever before.  The Susan Polgar National Open for Boys and Girls will take place in Chandler, Arizona March 4 - 6, 2011.  Stay tuned for more news on Polgar and SPICE events.

Recap of Chess Femme News - 2010 Part 2

Picking up from yesterday:

August, 2010:

Three-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion, WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia, starts her own chess program/camp for kids
I selected this article as an event because (1) I love Belakovskaia's "back story"; (2) instead of doing nothing, she did something about what she perceived to be a lack and/or problem in her area; (3) I love stories with happy endings.  Belakovskaia's life-story shows that with hard work and true grit, you can make your dreams come true.  I was also glad to see that Belakovskaia has been playing in an event here and there once again, after being absent from OTB play for several years.

Girls U-20 World Chess Championship
Gold, Silver and Bronze --
1 1 IM Muzychuk, Anna SLO 2527 11.0 0.00 81.0 27298 2557 0.42

2 3 WGM Girya, Olga RUS 2376 10.5 0.00 75.0 27158 2501 1.88
3 11 WGM Padmini, Rout IND 2275 10.0 0.00 73.5 27433 2477 3.37

July, 2010:
2010 U.S. Women's Chess Championship
IM Irina Krush staging a dramatic "come-back" from a rather dismal performance (for her) in the 2009 Championship, and dominated the tournament throughout its run.  The Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award went to Tatev Abrahamyan, the second time she has won the award that Goddesschess has offered since 2007. 
June - nothing, NADA!
May, 2010 - I was recovering from an illness for much of the month and wrote no chess news to speak of.  Judit Polgar did take part in the President's Cup in Baku but she did not have a very good result, finishing well back on the list of strong players with 3.0. 
April, 2010:
Judit Polgar pulled a performance rating of 2901while defeating rising star David Navara at the .  ČEZ CHESS TROPHY
Board Games Studies XIII Colloquium took place in Paris - and proved to be extremely popular.  Gee, I wonder why...
March, 2010:
Sad news when IM Elena Tairova of Russia passed away at just 18 years of age.  She had been a very promising talent with an ELO of 2455 at the time of her death. 
Women's FIDE Grand Prix Series Announced
While there were some great tournaments held under these auspices, the final one in Chile did not, to my knowledge, take place, and as far as I am aware no new announcements have been forthcoming regarding the continuation of the Women's Grand Prix series.  So much for FIDE's efforts to develope women's chess.  We get screwed over, again.  
"Chess Divas" play simul to raise money for Haiti Relief Fund
European Individual Women's Chess Championship
Won convincingly by GM Pia Cramling, clear first with an incredible 9.0/11
February, 2010:
Judit Polgar - Gregory Kaidanov Sicilian Theme Match.  Money was put up by a private sponsor just so he could watch Polgar play some chess up close and personal.  Judit won.
2010 Aeroflot - a very large, and very important Russian super-tournament that showcases new talents and gives a chance for them to compete against the "wily veterans."  As a group, female players did 'bleh', except for WFM Gulnar Marfat Mammadova of Azerjaiban, who led the B Group the entire way except for the last round, when she accepted a draw rather than going for a win.  She took second place with 7.0/9.
London Chess Centre closes location after 18 years.  This was dismal news, like losing the Manhattan Chess Club all over again. 
January, 2010:
Gibtelecom (Gibraltar Chess Festival) once again featured a great mixed sex line-up of players with tempting prizes that lured top level players from all over the world. It was a fierce battle all the way to the final round with Koneru Humpy in 10th place overall.  In the end, though, she had to settle for 12th place overall after being leap-frogged by Natalia Zhukova, who earned her own GM title this year by the way.  GM Michael Adams took home top prize money after winning play-offs. 
And, finally, the awful litigation that engulfed the USCF and various Executive Board members after the 2007 Executive Board election was settled.  Mr. Sam Sloan, who began all the trouble by suing the USCF and everyone (nearly) under the sun for alleged defamation and other "acts" blah blah blah once again threw his hat into the ring and ran, unsuccessfully as it turned out, for one of two vacated seats on the EB.  Since there were only three people running for the two vacant EB seats, I leave my readers to draw their own conclusions...

Starcevo "Bird Goddess" Figure

Hola darlings!

I know people think we're nuts because we think Chess is the Game of the Goddess and that its roots are much more ancient than current historical consensus allows.

But -

This morning while I was checking out something that Mr. Don sent to me, I came across this figure and it absolutely blew me away.  When looked at straight on, it looks like a "bird goddess" figurine - sometimes also identified as an "eye goddess."  Bird and eye goddesses are very old - dating back at least to the Augnacian period.  There are local variations, but she has passed down from Neolithic (stone age) times, generation by generation, all the way into the civilizations in the Fertile Crescent. 

What I saw for the first time in this figurine is that, when viewed from the side, it is obviously the body of a female - the breasts are prominent and easily identifiable; the waist is narrow, flaring out to hips.  The cross-hatching design is also extremely ancient - goes back to at least 25,000 BCE if not beyond - I've seen examples of the cross-hatch design on all sorts of ancient objects, particularly those associated with females and/or "goddesses."  Various interpretations have been given to the design, including that it might designate "weaving" - i.e. - clothing.  And that is certainly possible.  However, after looking at dozens and dozens of these cross-hatching patterns on various objects, including ancient board games from Egypt, Sumer and the Middle East, as well as northern India gameboards that were used for chaturanga and other games, I think in many instances the cross hatching represents water (compare the Egyptian hieroglyphic "N" for water ['nun' - the primordial waters out of which the first land, and then life, arose]), and sometimes perhaps water and land together - as in a 'field' or 'grid,' symbolic of where life comes from, and also to where it goes back.

[Bird Goddess: STARCEVO-CRIS archaeological site. Starcevo is a little village near Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Eponymus site of the Neolithic Central Balkan, Carpatho-Danubian and Dniester civilizations. (Starcevo-Cris culture). First European pottery and the first painted with geometrical motifs pottery. Clay figurines of bird goddesses. A great ancient civilization on the Danube river, c. 6000 BC. (Gimbutas, M., The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, University of California Press, Los Angeles, 1996, Gimbutas, M., The Language of the Goddesses, Harper, SanFrancisco, 1991, Gimbutas, M., The Living Goddesses, University of California Press, Berkley, Los Angeles, London 1999, Larina, O., "Culturi din epoca neolitica", Stiinta 1994, p. 28-42].

Enlarged al-fil piece. See
Anna Contadini's article atGoddesschess for a
clearer graphc and more
sets with the same style
of al-fil, which is the
bishop in western chess.
Now, compare the Starcevo bird or eye goddess figure from about 6,000 BCE to this Islamic chess piece carved about 7,000 years later.  The "protrusions" identified as "tusks" from the 'al-fil' piece (known in the west as the bishop), taken from the Persian chess piece known as 'pil' - elephant.  But - was it really an elephant???

Let's see - how does the Billy Joel song go?  "You may be right, I may be crazy. But then it just might be a lunatic you're looking for..."
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