Saturday, January 22, 2011

Harriet Worrall: Female Chessplayer in the 19th Century

Harriet Worrall, from the
Philadelphia Inquirer, July 4, 1897
Well, it's one of those strange things that took me, circuitously, to visit Chessville and it's Delphi Message Board (which is still there but dead, which is an unfortunate circumstance, I am very sad tonight) and I happened upon a page of News from December at Chessville, and found this incredible article at Chess Cafe about Harriet Worrall.

I won't say any more - you have to read it for yourself, and I hope you do.  Image from Chess Cafe article.  Mrs. Worrall was about 60 years old when this image was sketched, when she was visiting England for about 3 months to participate in a chess event with "international" female players.  Mrs. Worrall was a woman who promoted her inner pawn.

"Pharonic" Tombs Discovered

The article is a little unclear -- are these tombs of early pharaohs, or are they graves of people who worked on building the tombs for the pharaohs  - but I sure got the point that the sewer workers who accidentally uncovered these graves were very pissed off that they were being left out of their "fair share."  From such dire poverty and ignorance (not to mention greed) is wholesale antiquities looting born...  Wonder how long it will take for Hawi Zahass to show up?  Oops - Zahi Hawass - to show up - okay, okay, I know it's an old joke that only readers of our really old old stuff at "Goddesschess Discussion Group" at Delphi Forums.  Wonder if it's even still there?  Haven't checked for a couple of years now...

Discovery of the tombs builders of the pyramids
Sun, 10/01/2010 - 16:16

Discovery of the tombs builders of the pyramids

Workers in Abu Yasseen village in Sharqiya Governorate found three pharaonic coffins and other artefacts while digging as part of a sewage project in the village.

Eye witnesses said two of the coffins were smashed. The antiquities were transferred to the governorate capital Zagazig, where they will be examined by experts. Guards imposed security around the coffins and the area where they were found.

Clashes erupted when workers demanded a share of their discovery while antiquities authority employees were transferring the artefacts.

“I found a huge stone less than one meter away from the earth’s surface, while digging for the project,” said Osama Mohamed Hammad, one of the laborers. “I informed the supervisor. People then gathered and said it was a pharaonic coffin.”

Hammad said representatives of the antiquities authority, which is part of the Ministry of Culture, took some of the artefacts that were found beside the coffins.

Antiquities official Ibrahim Soliman said Abu Yasseen village is known for the presence of antiquities and the Culture Ministry is aware of this, adding that he will inspect the area and announce any new antiquities found.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

The 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships sponsored this year by AT&T begins tomorrow - but it won't be until next weekend that action on the BIG events are shown on network television.  Official website

Television schedule for the BIG events (all times eastern):

January 29, 2011 2011 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships:

Pairs Free Skate, Free Dance (LIVE)
NBC 3:00pm - 6:00pm

Ladies Free Skate (LIVE)
NBC 9:00pm - 11:00pm

January 30, 2011 2011 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships:

Men's Free Skate (LIVE)
NBC 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Perhaps in honor of this august event, tonight at 8:00 p.m in the midwest ABC is showing "Blades of Glory."  If you can get past the initial gag factor of this movie, it's very very funny and, truth be told, probably cuts close to the bone in some depictions :)  Join me tonight in watching this er, film epic.  Okay, I admit to having an incredibly juvenile sense of humor because I think the scenes where the female figureskater's head was chopped off by her partner's blade is too funny for words - secret film from North Korea, no less.  Gotta watch the movie to know what I'm talking about...

Enjoy it all and have a good laugh.  It's a way to make the long cold, dark winter here pass a little faster :)

I Want My Own Name Back --

'Sis sent this article to me.  I think it ties in quite eloquently, despite being from half a world away (Japan), to the interesting fact my friend Ann passed along to me a few days ago that I mentioned in an earlier blog that, in the United States of America, between the years 1907 and 1920, a female citizen of this country LOST HER CITIZENSHIP if she married a man who was not also a citizen of the USA.  Under the eyes of this law, a woman ceased to exist as an independent person (or legal entity) when she married.  Absolutely, incredibly disgusting!

I wonder if the citizenship statutes that govern our laws today in the USA contain some equally horrible aspects denigrating a woman's being as well.  For sure in Japan they still do!
Government to face first suit on surnames
Tue, Jan 11 11:05 AM EST
By Yoko Kubota

TOKYO (Reuters) - After nearly fifty years of persevering with a life under her husband's surname, 75-year-old Kyoko Tsukamoto is taking the Japanese government to court so that she can at least bear her own name when she dies.

"My husband and I still love each other, but this and the issue of Tsukamoto are different," she said.

The former teacher uses her maiden name, but due to Japanese civil law requirements she had to take her husband's name when she married to make the union legal.

But debate over the surname issue, long a sore point with some women, has heated up as more women stay in jobs after marriage and juggle two names -- their maiden name at work and their registered name on legal documents.

"I thought that I would get used to my husband's name, but I could not, and a sense of loss grew inside me," Tsukamoto said.

"Now I am 75 and I was shocked to realize that I can't do things anymore that I used to be able to do last year. That's when I thought that I am Kyoko Tsukamoto and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto."

Tsukamoto is one of five people planning to file a lawsuit against the government and local authorities as early as February, saying the civil code that requires married couples to register under the same surname violates equal rights among married couples, as well as personal rights.

Men are allowed to take their spouses' name, but it is rare.

The group will seek compensation for what it says is the legislature's failure to enact change, the first such case to be debated in open court in Japan, the only country in the Group of Eight major industrialized nations with such a surname rule.

Hopes grew that the government would submit a bill to amend the civil code after the Democratic Party of Japan, which has advocated letting married couples keep separate names if they wish, took power in 2009. But opposition from a coalition ally caused the plan to stall.

"There were expectations that it could be enacted but unfortunately this did not take place. They do not want to wait any longer," said Fujiko Sakakibara, lead lawyer for the group.

The rule is tied to Japan's traditional concept of the family, which in the past ensured that property, businesses, and surnames were passed on to men within the family unit.

Some say it is outdated. In certain cases, couples repeat marriages and divorces between each other to avoid having to register their children as out of wedlock births, partly because the civil code limits inheritance rights for such children.

Tsukamoto, with her husband since 1960, is going through her second marriage with him after divorcing once in 1965 to get her maiden name back. They re-married when they had their third child but her husband has rejected requests for a second divorce.

Those against change say it's a matter of family unity and are wary of the impact on children's identities. They also warn of a possible increase in divorce.

Tsukamoto began studying women's issues at the age of 63, after she was freed of duties to nurse her parents. She has since taken up an activist's role.

"Others were getting by well in society and I have thought that perhaps I was stupid to insist on this ... Now things are changing in a good direction, unimaginable in 1960," she said.

(Editing by Elaine Lies)

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer with a Keen Eye

I happened across this article at BBC News Online. I love this woman's photography, there's just something about it, can't describe it, but the photos I saw in the article made me explore further and I found lots more information online (links will be provided below).  The mystery of Vivian Maier's life has yet to be fully explored (1926-2009), as does the artistry of her full body of work, parts of which are still being scanned and cataloged.  Both are equally intriguing to me, and I'm no connoisseur of photographic art.  It occurred to me while I was writing this that - Vivian Maier promoted her inner pawn.

21 January 2011 Last updated at 09:30 ET
Vivian Maier: A life's lost work seen for first time
By Katie Beck
BBC World News America

The photographs reveal teeming streets, children at play in an alley, couples captured in a sleepy embrace, the intricate latticework of an elevated train platform, a drunk smeared in filth.

The arresting, artfully framed scenes from the streets and byways of New York, Chicago and beyond seem alive with movement. And for years, they were probably seen by no-one but the solitary Chicago nanny and amateur photographer who shot them.

But now, two years after her death in a nursing home, Vivian Maier is finally being recognised for her talent after a lifetime of obscurity.

Her life's work, hundreds of thousands of black and white and colour photographs, was locked away in an abandoned storage unit, only to be revealed to the world after her death.

Maier was born in New York City in 1926, but many details of her life remain a mystery.

She spent some of her formative years in France and when she moved to Chicago after World War II to work as a nanny, she spoke with a French accent that delighted her charges.

Years later, the children she looked after described her as a Mary Poppins-like figure who took them on wild adventures and showed them unusual things.

According to those who knew her, Maier was opinionated and incredibly private. She worked for one family in Chicago for 17 years and as they tell it, she neither made nor received a single telephone call the entire time.

Remarkable trove

On her days off, she would walk the streets taking photographs, poignant and humorous scenes from everyday life. A man sleeping on the beach, children smiling, a woman dressed in her finest climbing into a '57 Chevy.

Her black and white photographs, many taken in the 1950s and 60s, captured the energy and feeling of the world as she viewed it.

But as far as anyone knows, she never showed her work.

In 2007, John Maloof, then a 26-year-old real estate agent in Chicago, was working on a book about his north-west Chicago neighbourhood.

At an auction of the contents of an abandoned storage unit, he paid $400 (£252) for a box of what he thought were negatives of historical architecture photographs.

But after inspecting them, he saw that none of the roughly 30,000 negatives were architectural photographs and, disappointed, he set the box aside.

About two years later, curiosity got the better of him and he began developing the negatives and scanning them one by one into his computer. And he began to realise he had stumbled across a remarkable trove.

"It wasn't a 'eureka' moment," he says. "Over time, she taught me that her work was good. I looked at her photos and learned about photography, how hard it is to take a good photograph."

A novice to photography, Mr Maloof knew little about what he was viewing. Seeking feedback, he posted some of her work on the popular photography site Flickr. The response was overwhelming: hundreds of comments from shocked and impressed viewers.

Maier's quick eye and artful technical skill have garnered something of a cult following online.

She has been compared to great photographers Robert Frank and Walker Evans, and as more people discover her work, her stature continues to grow.

Seeking clues

Once Mr Maloof realised how special the work was, he set out to learn the photographer's identity. On the back of an envelope in one of the boxes, he found written the name Vivian Maier.

A Google search revealed a just-published obituary: Maier had died at 83 just three days earlier.

Using clues gleaned from the obituary, he got in touch with some of the families that had employed her over the years, and a picture of her life began to come into focus.

"She was a loner, a solitary person, she died alone with no kids or family or love life," Mr Maloof says.

He sees her as a patron for the poor, using her camera to give a voice to the voiceless. Many of her subjects live at society's margins, and her images show the truth about what she saw around her, not just the beautiful, Mr Maloof says.

He says she inspired him to become a photographer, and he set himself to saving the rest of her work.

He estimates he now has acquired 95% of her work from other collectors: hundreds of thousands of negatives, undeveloped rolls of film. He has been diligently developing and scanning her work and posting the photos on a blog he created for the collection.

Although Maier was a private person and kept her work to herself, Mr Maloof has received inquiries from exhibitors, book publishers and filmmakers, and her photographs have been shown in Denmark and Chicago.

"She was using photography to fill in a void emotionally, perhaps to satisfy herself," Mr Maloof said. "The work has a life of its own. People want to see it."
John Maloof's blog:  Vivian Maier - Her Discovered Work

Many incredible photographs are posted at this blog, including the one above that I call "Sphinx, Pyramids, and Horse's Ass."  I LOVE this photograph!  It's the beautiful and the banal in one incredible shot.  It's sense of humor and irony makes me laugh!  I assume it was taken during Maier's "grand tour" around the world in the late 1950's.  She travelled alone to some remote spots around the world, something that even today, in this age of "women's liberation," would be daring.  But from what I've read, she seemed oblivious to that sort of thing - convention - a bug to be brushed off without a second thought.

More photographs at Vivian Maier Photography - I didn't even get all the way through the first click - I found myself spending too much time (for being a blogger with limited "free time" on m hands) looking at each and every one, enjoying them.

From, a story that provides background information and facts (such as they are) about Vivian Maier's life:

The Life and Work of Street Photographer Vivian Maier

A LIFE IN SHADOW: The North Shore families who hired Vivian Maier as a nanny came to know a kind but eccentric woman who guarded her private life and kept a huge stash of boxes. A chance discovery after her death by a man named John Maloof has spotlighted her secret talent as a photographer and led to a growing appreciation of her vast work.
By Nora O’Donnell
[December, 2010]

A fascinating mini-portrait on the artist and John Maloof too in this Youtube video:

68th Georgian Women's Chess Championship

One more round to go!

Ranking crosstable after Round 12

Rk.NameRtgFED12345678910111213Pts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
1IMLomineishvili Maia2345GEO*11½½0½½11118.041.2560.0
2IMKhotenashvili Bela2440GEO0*½½½11½1½117.537.7550.0
3IMKhurtsidze Nino2436GEO½*11½01½½0½16.534.0040.0
4IMPurtseladze Maka2323GEO0½0*½1½111½½6.532.0040.0
5IMJavakhishvili Lela2438GEO½½0*½110½½1½6.031.7530.0
6IMMelia Salome2449GEO½0½½½*1½10½16.031.2530.0
7WIMNikoladze Sopio2254GEO101000*0½01115.528.7550.0
8IMKhukhashvili Sopiko2437GEO½½0½0½1*10105.028.5030.0
9WGMBatsiashvili Nino2396GEO½0½010½0*½1½4.525.0020.0
10WGMPaikidze Nazi2455GEO0½½0½11½*00½4.524.2520.0
11WIMMikadze Miranda2362GEO0010½1001*½½4.523.7530.0
12WIMDanelia Mariam2248GEO0½½0½00½1½*14.521.5020.0
13WIMArabidze Meri2315GEO000½½001½½0*3.015.7510.0

3rd India Cements Ltd Chennai Open

Just saw this Round 5 report at  One of my favorite players, Vijay Subbaraman, is playing.  And, a young lady with a rating below 2000 spanked a Grandmaster.  Hmmm....

Michelle stuns Grandmaster Arun Prasad

Chennai girl Michelle Catherina (1959) stunned favorite and higher rated Grandmaster Arun Prasad (2513) (photo from Chessdom, right) in the fifth round of the India Cements Ltd 3rd Chennai Open International Grandmaster Chess tournament at SDAT Multipurpose Indoor Stadium, Chennai:

GM Arun Prasad S (2513) - P Michelle Catherina (1959)

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.g3 Bb4 5.Bd2 Be7 6.Bg2 O-O 7.O-O c6 8.Qc2 Nbd7 9.Rd1 b6 10.b3 Bb7 11.a4 Rc8 12.a5 c5 13.axb6 axb6 14.Ra7 Ba8 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bxf6 Nxf6 17.Na3 cxd4 18.Nxd4 Bc5 19.Nab5 e5 20.Nf5 Bc6 21.Qd2 Bxb5 22.cxb5 Ng4 23.e3 Qg5 24.h3 Nf6 25.Ne7 Bxe7 26.Rxe7 Ne4 27.Qb4 Nxf2 28.Rd2 Qxg3 29.Rxf2 Rc1 0-1

There are 150 players in this event and the players' list doesn't indicate male/female, so I may miss some chess femmes because I'm not familiar with the names, my apologies.  Top players and the ladies' standings after R7:

Rk. Name FED Rtg Club/City Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3

1 GM Postny Evgeny ISR 2592 6.5 31.0 26.5 25.5
2 GM Zherebukh Yaroslav UKR 2565 6.0 31.0 27.0 25.0
3 IM Nabaty Tamir ISR 2565 6.0 31.0 26.5 25.0
4 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2671 6.0 30.5 26.5 24.5
5 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2624 6.0 30.5 26.5 24.5
6 GM Ni Hua CHN 2645 6.0 30.0 25.5 24.5
7 GM Greenfeld Alon ISR 2557 6.0 27.0 23.0 22.0
8 IM Thejkumar M S IND 2457 Rlys 6.0 27.0 23.0 22.0

49 IM Vijayalakshmi Subbaraman IND 2454 IA 5.0 24.5 21.0 20.0
57 Michelle Catherina P IND 1959 TN 4.5 29.5 25.5 23.0
76 WGM Kiran Manisha Mohanty IND 2230 ORI 4.5 24.0 21.0 19.5
78 WGM Gomes Mary Ann IND 2306 WB 4.5 24.0 21.0 18.5
95 WGM Nebolsina Vera RUS 2388 4.0 27.0 23.5 21.5
102 WIM Meera Sai IND 2162 IB 4.0 25.5 22.5 19.5
139 WFM Kotepalli Sai Nirupama IND 1900 AP 4.0 20.5 18.0 16.0

2011 Wijk aan Zee (Tata Steel Chess)

Hola!  I have results from the ladies' play in Group C, Game 7!  First of all, the good news:  Lahno won!  Second, the bad news, Sachdev lost :( 

Here is Lahno's game in PGN. I wasn't able to get the playscreen embed to work - crap!

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. Nc3 Bd7 10. h3 b6 11. b3 Kc8 12. Bb2 Be7 13. Rad1 a5 14. a4 h5 15. Ne4 c5 16. c4 Bc6 17. Nfg5 Kb7 18. Rfe1 Rhf8 19. e6 f6 20. Nf7 Rae8 21. Rd3 Nd4 22. Ng3 Nxe6 23. Rxe6 Rxf7 24. Nxh5 Bd6 25. Rxe8 Bxe8 26. Re3 Bc6 27. f3 Bd7 28. g4 Be7 29. h4 Bd6 30. Kf2 Kc8 31. Bc3 Bc6 32. Ng3 Bf4 33. Rd3 Rd7 34. Rxd7 Bxg3+ 35. Kxg3 Kxd7 36. h5 Ke7 37. g5 fxg5 38. Kg4 Kf7 39. Be5 Bd7+ 40. Kxg5 c6 41. Bc7 b5 42. Bxa5 bxa4 43. bxa4 Be6 44. Bb6 Bxc4 45. Bxc5 Ke8 46. a5 Kf7 47. Kf5 Bb5 48. f4 Be2 49. Kg5 Bd3 50. Bd4 Be2 51. f5 c5 52. Bxc5 Bf1 53. Bd4 Bd3 54. Bc3 Be2 55. f6 gxf6+ 56. Bxf6 Bd3 57. h6 Ke6 58. a6 1-0

Round 7 - Saturday the 22nd
K. Lahno - B. Bok 1-0
D. Swiercz - I. Ivanisevic ½-½
I. Nyzhnyk - S. Siebrecht 1-0
R. van Kampen - M. van der Werf 1-0
D. Vocaturo - R. Pruijssers 1-0
M. Kazhgaleyev - T. Sachdev 1-0
J.W. de Jong - M. Bluvshtein 0-1

Standings after round 7
1. I. Nyzhnyk
D. Vocaturo 5.5
3. K. Lahno 5
4. M. Bluvshtein 4
M. Kazhgaleyev
6. I. Ivanisevic 3.5
T. Sachdev
D. Swiercz
M. van der Werf
10. R. van Kampen 3
11. B. Bok 2.5
S. Siebrecht
13. J.W. de Jong 1.5
R. Pruijssers

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dacian Gold - Spectacular!

Photograph by Mihai Barbu, Reuters, Leaves and snake heads
adorn a Dacian bracelet in the Romanian National History Museum
(file picture).

'Sis sent this to me over her super-duper whatever phone (can you tell I don't have one?  Don't even know what they are or what they're called!) -- So - are they real - or ar they fake?  Check out the photograph of one  here and decide for yourself --

Ancient Transylvanians Rich in Gold, Treasure Shows
Ancient Transylvanians likely controlled untold riches in gold, suggests a new study of a cache of priceless, snake-shaped bracelets.

Showing "no economy of gold at all," craftsmen shaped each spiral cuff from an entire ingot, study author Bogdan Constantinescu said.

Most of the 2,000-year-old accessories tip the scales at about 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) each, more than some laptops—a heft that materials scientist Paul Craddock found "surprising."

"Yes," Craddock concluded, "they did have a lot of gold."

"They" are the Dacian people, mysterious contemporaries of the ancient Romans. Ruling Transylvania centuries before Bram Stoker dreamed up Dracula, the Dacians left behind no writings but, the bracelets suggest, were apparently flush with treasure—as historians have long suspected, given the mineral wealth of the region's mountains and rivers.

Counterfeit Claims
Looters unearthed some two dozen of the bracelets—12 have now been recovered by authorities—about ten years ago at the Sarmizegetusa Regia archaeological site in Romania's Transylvania region (pictures).

Perhaps hoping to avoid stiff penalties for archaeological plunder, the men claimed that a now dead comrade had made the bracelets out of melted-down ancient Greek coins—leading many experts to doubt the cuffs' authenticity.

The new study, though, points out that Greek coins are made of purer gold than the Sarmizegetusa (SAHR-mee-sheh-jeh-TOO-sha) hoard. Furthermore, the bracelets were found to be at least 2,000 years old.

Among the evidence of their age are dark blotches indicative of many years underground, researchers say. Also, the bracelets were found with coins produced between roughly 100 B.C. and 70 B.C., which suggests the cuffs were buried—if not necessarily created—during that time frame.

The bracelets seem to hail from the right place as well as the right time, according to study author Constantinescu, a physicist with the Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering in Bucharest.

Their chemical signature matches that of Transylvanian gold, and Constantinescu suspects the gold for the bracelets likely came from two rivers near Sarmizetusa Regia.

The Dacians of Transylvania
Now reduced to faint traces of fortifications and shrines, Sarmizetusa Regia was the Dacian religious and political capital in the last couple centuries of the culture's heyday, which lasted from about 500 B.C. to A.D. 100, when Rome conquered Dacia.

Though occasionally unified as a confederation, the Dacians were usually a loose collection of tribes. Mainly farmers and shepherds, the culture also included international traders, potters, and iron smelters, archaeological finds suggest.

But since the Dacians lacked a written language, we may never understand the extent of their accomplishments. Much of what's known about them, after all, was written by their Roman conquerors—"not necessarily a good source," said Ernest Latham, who teaches about Romania at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

For God or Country—Or Cash?
Starved of information about the Dacians, researchers are mining the bracelets for meaning. What were they for?

One thing they weren't for is day-to-day adornment, Constaninescu said—the cuffs show no sign of wear.

He suspects they may have been offerings to the Dacians' only god, Zalmoxis. This, he said, may explain why the hoard rested undisturbed for thousands of years—just outside the walls of a major Dacian center, no less.

"Probably there was divine punishment, damnation, for anyone who tried to take pieces" of the treasure, he speculated. "Gold belonged to the god."

Religious use "is a very good guess," said archaeologist Otis Crandell, of Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Crandell, who wasn't part of the study, thinks the bracelets may have been hoarded for trade or intended for distribution as tokens of royal favor.

He admitted, though, that it's all guesswork "until we find them in context"—that is, until archaeologists can reunite the bracelets and their accompanying artifacts in the exact spot where they were unearthed. [Rots of ruck.]

But the possibility of complete context may have vanished between 1999 and 2001, when the looters unearthed the bracelets—some in a chest hidden under a large slab of rock—and began selling them illegally.

To this day 12 of the looted bracelets remain missing. The other 12 are housed at the Romanian National History Museum in Bucharest.

How They Could Have Been Faked
Because of the murk surrounding the hoard's discovery, it may never be authenticated to scientists' full satisfaction.

For example, Craddock, formerly of the British Museum, said forgers could have cooked up an alloy simulating Transylvanian gold, then aged the bracelets in acid.

Even study author Constantinescu said he can't completely rule out the possibility that the bracelets were made in modern times. But he said it would've been in no one's financial interest to forge so many similar objects.

"The price would drop if you have 20 practically identical items," he said. "It would be crazy."

Whatever their provenance, the bracelets are enough to wow even seasoned researchers.

Please go to corresponding website for complete details.

Reminds me of Scythian artistry with gold, hmmm....  And the ancient symbol of the Goddess, the serpent, was still in use 2,000 years ago, as most beautifully expressed in this cuff.  Can you imagine wearing this on your arm, weighing in at 2.2 pounds?  Wow! 

Bonham's Auction of Chess Sets and Other Games Exceeds Expectations

Check Mate: Chess Sets from Around the World Exceed Estimates at Bonhams
Janury 21, 2011

LONDON.- An 18th century Russian mammoth ivory chess set was the top lot of the Chess, Playing Cards and Games auction that took place on 17th January at The Bonhams, Knightsbridge.

The intricately carved set was highly sought after and eventually sold for £19,000, against a pre-sale estimate of £2000-3000. The village of Kholmogory in Russia is famous for the local craft of carving in bone, which as existed there for over four hundred years.

From Europe a very rare, 300 year old south German, ivory and ebony figural chess set sold for £16,500. Made around 1700, the King and Queen were dressed in 17th -18th century interpretations of mediaeval dress and the pawns were dressed in baggy breeches and flared bottomed coats.

A Chinese, jade mah jong set made around 1920 that belonged to HM Queen Elisabeth of Greece sold for £9,000 against a pre-sale estimate of £1,200- 1,600. The silk-lined wooden case that held forty jade tiles with bone counters and four jade and gilt dice was sold with a letter from HSH Prince Marc of Hohenzollern-Roumanie explaining the provenance of the set, dated 1979.

“The Game of War”, an intricate 600 piece game dating from 1890 sold for £4,000, four times its pre-sale estimate of £1,500-£2000. It was designed to train British army officers at a time of uncertainty in the years leading up to the outbreak of The First World War in 1914. No-one could predict exactly when, but it was common knowledge that war was coming. As a result, the armies spent their summers at camp, in effect playing war-games, and training for the big European war that was on the horizon.

The game is played on a map drawn on a scale of six inches to the mile, and the troops are indicated by small slate blocks, coloured red for one force, and blue for another. It is a later British version of “Kriegsspiel”, a wargame originally invented by Lieutenant Georg von Reiswitz in the early 19th century for training officers in the Prussian army.

There is a LOT of money out there chasing these auctions.  Here is just one little item I found while scrolling through the online catalog at Bonham's:

Lot No: 34Y
An ivory Staunton knight
English, circa 1900
in the form of the horse's head based on the Elgin Marbles, on a raised circular base, 8.5cm high, 5cm diameter.
Sold for £960 inclusive of Buyer's Premium

For one Staunton ivory piece?  Okay....

2011 Wijk aan Zee (Tata Steel Chess)

Results from Group C, Round 6 (where the two chess femmes are playing):

Round 6 - Friday the 21st:

B. Bok - J.W. de Jong 0-1
M. Bluvshtein - M. Kazhgaleyev 0-1
T. Sachdev - D. Vocaturo 1-0
R. Pruijssers - R. van Kampen ½-½
M. van der Werf - I. Nyzhnyk ½-½
S. Siebrecht - D. Swiercz 0-1
I. Ivanisevic - K. Lahno ½-½

Standings after round 6:

1. I. Nyzhnyk
D. Vocaturo 4½
3. K. Lahno 4
4. T. Sachdev  3½
M. van der Werf
6. M. Bluvshtein 3
I. Ivanisevic
M. Kazhgaleyev
D. Swiercz
10. B. Bok 2½
S. Siebrecht 
12. R. van Kampen 2
13. J.W. de Jong1½

R. Pruijssers

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 Wijk aan Zee (Tata Steel Chess)

Round 5 Results - the ladies in Group C:

I. Ivanisevic - B. Bok 1-0
K. Lahno - S. Siebrecht 1-0
D. Swiercz - M. van der Werf 0-1
I. Nyzhnyk - R. Pruijssers 1-0
R. van Kampen - T. Sachdev ½-½
D. Vocaturo - M. Bluvshtein 1-0
M. Kazhgaleyev - J.W. de Jong 1-0

Standings after R5 (Group C):

1. D. Vocaturo 4½
2. I. Nyzhnyk 4
3. K. Lahno 3½
4. M. Bluvshtein
    M. van der Werf 3
6. B. Bok 2½
    I. Ivanisevic
    T. Sachdev
    S. Siebrecht 
10. M. Kazhgaleyev
      D. Swiercz 2
12. R. van Kampen 1½
13. R. Pruijssers 1
14. J.W. de Jong ½

Is the 2011 European Women's Individual Chess Championship Back On?

Who knows?  I didn't check chess news yesterday and found this today at Dylan Loeb McClain's chess blog at The New York Times:

January 19, 2011, 12:52 pm About Face: Turkish Federation Offers to Organize Event It Dropped
[Excerpted] Late last month, the Turkish Chess Federation withdrew as host of the 2011 European Women’s Championship. The reason given by Ali Nihat Yazici, the federation’s president, was that he and the federation had been treated badly by the European Chess Union, the governing body of the game in Europe.

Wednesday, in a letter sent to Silvio Danailov, the president of the E.C.U., Mr. Yazici wrote that the Turkish Federation was again ready to organize the event, but he said that he did not want to communicate with Sava Stoisavljevic, the general secretary of the E.C.U., who mostly dealt with Mr. Yazici in the earlier negotiations over the contract. He also asked for an apology from Mr. Danailov.

(Ms. Stoisavljevic wrote in an e-mail that she regretted using the words “double standards” in one of her e-mails to Yazici and was willing to apologize for that.)

Accompanying his offer, Mr. Yazici included a contract with the regulations for the championship. On the question of whether late entries would be accepted, which was the sticking point in the earlier negotiation, the contract says, “After the deadline, no players will be accepted to the event. This is the decision of ECU. If ECU wants a player in event after the deadline, 300 euro penalty should be paid to organizers.”

Ms. Stoisavljevic had said that late fees were unacceptable, but that the Turkish Federation could bar late entries if it was concerned about higher costs that it might incur.
The rest of McClain's blog post is about other very interesting matters, including a bombshell of an open letter signed by 18 high-level participants at the recently concluded 2010 Women's World Chess Championship also held in Turkey - about the outrageous prices for hotel rooms, nearly doubled those advertised on the hotel's website, the requirement that not only players stay at the "official hotel" but also all accompanying them!, the lack of decent portions and varied foods to suit the palattes of a range of international visitors, about the outrageous price charged for transfers from the airport to the hotel, the lousy accomodations with thin walls, on a busy, noisy road so the players could get no rest, no place to walk for peace and quiet, etc. etc. The open letter was posted at the 12th Women's World Chess Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's blog.  I blogged about it on January 15th.

I posted about the Turkish Chess Federation's cancellation of its commitment to host and fund the 2011 Individual European Women's Chess Championship on January 1, 2011. 

Not to toot my own horn - oh hell, yes I am.  LOL!  Chessbase reported on the latest TCF renewal of its offer to host the 2011 IEWCC and said this in the intro:

TCF renews offer to host the 2011 European Women Championship

19.01.2011 – Three weeks ago the Turkish Chess Federation withdrew its offer to host this attractive event, due to a conflict with the European Chess Union. According to a New York Times report the ECU President Silvio Danailov implied that the TCF had simply run out of funds. Now the Turkish side is renewing its offer: we will stage if you will be polite. Open letter + new NYT article.

See - I told ya, darlings, it was all about money, filthy lucre!  And the Muslim regime in control of Turkey now that is slowly and insidiously destroying the Attaturk legacy - well, that speaks for itself, doesn't it. 

Soooooo - is the Championship on - or is it not?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Champion of Women's Rights in Wisconsin

How quickly we forget those battles that were fought in the 1960's for equal rights for women in this country.  It's better now, but we're still not there, and there are forces afoot in some political circles in this country that would like the clock to be turned back about 200 years!  Just as an aside, I had no idea until my friend Ann emailed me the other night that, between 1907 and 1920 in this country, a woman who was a United States citizen by birth lost her citizenship if she married a man who was not a U.S. citizen! 

Think about how it used to be - not so very long ago, in the "good old USA" - and think about how it still is for a majority of females in most of the rest of the world at this very minute.  Each of us - women and men alike, for men are the beneficiaries of the "liberation" of their female counterparts (whether they realize it or not) - owe thanks to Esther Doughty Luckhardt and countless women like her, who fought to give us in the west the rights we have today.  Thanks, Ms. Doughty Luckhardt. 

Obituary [Excerpted]
Esther Doughty Luckhardt
Luckhardt a pioneer of women's rights as member of state Assembly
By Amy Rabideau Silvers of the Journal Sentinel
Jan. 18, 2011
AP photo. Esther Doughty Luckhardt (right) signs the oath of office book
 before being seated as a member of the state Assembly in 1963. Lillian Quinn
 (left)  was the Assembly’s assistant chief clerk.
 Esther Doughty Luckhardt did not set out to champion women's rights but found things that needed changing during her long years in the state Assembly.

First elected in 1962, she was then the only woman to serve in the Assembly - and only the ninth to serve in Wisconsin history. Her opponent in that first race ran a campaign ad that read: "It's a man's job."

She later lost a 1969 bid to become the first woman ever elected to the state Senate. Luckhardt served in the Assembly for 22 years and was the longest-serving woman when she decided not to run for a 12th two-year term in 1984.

"I felt like I led the parade," Luckhardt later said.

Luckhardt died of congestive heart failure Friday. She was 97. Luckhardt was a lifelong resident of Horicon.

A self-described "rock-ribbed fiscal conservative," she entered politics more interested in promoting business and curbing taxes. Along the way, though, she kept bumping into basic issues of equal rights for women.

She found there was no convenient restroom for women anywhere near the Assembly chambers. During certain procedural times, legislators were to be escorted, but there were no female pages to escort her to the restroom. She eventually got those things changed, and daughter Patty Doughty even got to join the ranks of Capitol pages.

Then there was the name problem.

By state law, women were required to change their names with marriage and to use their married name when running for office. Long involved in Republican Party politics, she first ran for office after the death of her husband, Lyle Doughty.

She later remarried, but the voters wouldn't know who Esther Luckhardt was. And - given the fact her full maiden name was Esther Hulda Louise Schwertfeger - no one was sure what her legal middle name was.

"A name is valuable to a woman with a profession or in business or politics," she said in 1969. "No man has to make this change."

The law was eventually changed, but not right away in 1969.

"I got the bill passed, then Warren Knowles vetoed it on grounds it would create too many problems with credit," Luckhardt recalled. "They called me a flaming liberal at the time. The governor's veto was upheld."

She pushed for other changes, too, large and small.

Luckhardt took pride in revising state laws that allowed women to become licensed as engineers, plumbers, bartenders and in other fields, in addition to traditional professions such as nurse and teacher.

A dress code for women employees at the Capitol finally fell when Luckhardt and other female lawmakers began wearing slacks themselves.

Advocate for equality
"It's not that I'm a feminist or suffragette, but no one had paid any attention to women's interests before," Luckhardt said.

"I think she was proud of getting all of it - bits and pieces of legislation - that collectively gave women legal equality with men," said her son, Tom Doughty. "She believed in smaller government, less taxation, market regulation, personal responsibility. But when she saw these impediments that kept women from equal footing, she would get things changed."

Luckhardt also owned and operated an insurance and real estate business, including developing the Park Meadows subdivision in Horicon with her first husband.

She was long active with the former Lutheran Deaconess Hospital, including the creation of what became the Bethesda Fair as a hospital fund-raiser.

In 1987, Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed Luckhardt to serve on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, and later appointed her to the National Committee on Aging.

Chess at Sundance Film Festival

Not that I'm a person who goes to Sundance (or film festivals, in general), but it's too bad I didn't know about this sooner - I would have plugged it here earlier.  It sounds like a really really cool event and features two of my favorite chess femmes:  Jennifer Shahade, a two-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion and author of Chess Bitch, and WIM Iryna Zenyuk, who has played in multiple U.S. Women's Chess Championships. 

You can find more information at Chesslife Online, the site of the U.S. Chess Federation, what is below are just snippets of the information:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Role Model: Soumya Swaminathan

Soumya Swaminathan , a role model for budding chess players
Published: Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011, 11:50 IST
By Ashish Phadnis | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA

Soumya Swaminathan has checkmated many in her 21 years. A three-time national junior (under-19) chess champion, Soumya became a world junior champion in March 2009 and Woman Grandmaster in the same year.

In fact, when she bagged the world junior title, she became only the third Indian girl after Grandmaster Koneru Humpy and Woman Grandmaster, Dronavalli Harika, to achieve the rare feat.

Last week, Soumya won the senior national title in Bhubaneshwar and has become a role model for budding chess players in the city.

Presently, sitting pretty with an ELO rating of 2353, she is considered he fifth strongest woman chess playerin the country.

However, Soumya has a big appetite. The DES Law College student is already gunning for the Men’s International Master (IM) title. Having completed the basic norms, she is working towards a 2400 ELO rating. Born in Palakkad, Kerala, in 1989, Soumya grew up in Aurangabad and now resides in Pune. Sadly, she had to bear the tragic loss of her mother in an accident at a very young age.

However, the brave girl has continued to win laurels in chess despite the loss of a parent.

Soumya, who is under a scholarship with the Indian Oil Corporation, has seen her ELO ranking rise from 2140 to 2315 in a very short time. Soumya, who hopes to get a foreign coach soon, wants to become a world champion. “It is a long path ahead,” she says.

2011 Wijk aan Zee (Tata Steel Chess)

Group C standings after R4:

1.D. Vocaturo
2.M. Bluvshtein
I. Nyzhnyk
4.B. Bok
K. Lahno
S. Siebrecht
7.T. Sachdev
D. Swiercz
M. van der Werf
10.I. Ivanisevic
11.M. Kazhgaleyev
R. Pruijssers
R. van Kampen
14.J.W. de Jong½

I Actually Won a Game!

Unbelievable - I never thought I'd win a chess game again.

Crispin and I started two games.  One is still going on - this one he resigned from.  I had the black pieces:

[Event "Friend invite"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2010.10.17"]
[EndDate "2011.01.16"]
[Round "?"]
[White "crispinsandford"]
[Black "hcccxii"]
[WhiteRating "1059"]
[BlackRating "1100"]
[WhiteELO "1059"]
[BlackELO "1100"]
[Result "0-1"]
[GameId "7847724"]
1. d4 d5 2. Nb1c3 Bc8e6 3. Ng1f3 Nb8c6 4. e4 dxe4 5. Nc3xe4 Qd8d5 6. Ne4c3 Qd5d6 7. Bf1e2 Be6d5 8. Nf3h4 O-O-O 9. Be2g4 e6 10. O-O Ng8f6 11. Bg4f3 g6 12. Qd1e2 Nc6xd4 13. Qe2b5 Nd4xb5 14. Nc3xb5 Qd6b6 15. Nb5c3 Bd5xf3 16. Nh4xf3 Nf6g4 17. Bc1e3 Ng4xe3 18. fxe3 Qb6xe3 19. Rf1f2 Bf8c5 20. Ra1f1 Rd8d2 21. Nf3xd2 Qe3xd2 22. Kg1h1 Bc5xf2 23. Nc3d1 Qd2e2 0-1

I feel terrible for defeating Crispin. So much for having a competitive drive, heh?  Defeat someone you like and feel awful (except when it's Mr. Don, ha ha ha!)  Even worse, I've no idea if this game is any good or not.  I don't have a program that can analyze this game and show me better moves. 

Not to get too cocky, this is a game I resigned from yesterday.  I thought I was doing okay until - damn!

I was white in this game:

[Event "Challenge"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2010.11.25"]
[EndDate "2011.01.18"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Shakerjan"]
[Black "Pritrix"]
[WhiteRating "1155"]
[BlackRating "955"]
[WhiteELO "1155"]
[BlackELO "955"]
[Result "0-1"]
[GameId "7955527"]
1. d4 Nb8c6 2. Ng1f3 b6 3. e3 Ng8f6 4. Bf1c4 g6 5. Nf3g5 e6 6. c3 d5 7. Bc4b5 Bc8d7 8. O-O h6 9. Ng5f3 Nf6h5 10. Nb1d2 a6 11. Bb5d3 Bf8d6 12. a3 Nc6a5 13. b4 Na5b7 14. Bc1b2 Nh5f6 15. Nf3e5 h5 16. Ne5xd7 Qd8xd7 17. Nd2f3 Nf6g4 18. g3 c6 19. Qd1c2 h4 20. Bd3xg6 fxg6 21. Qc2xg6 Ke8d8 22. Qg6xg4 a5 23. Qg4g5 Kd8c7 24. Nf3e5 Qd7h7 25. Ra1e1 hxg3 26. Qg5xg3 Ra8g8 27. Bb2c1 Rg8xg3 0-1

So, back to the drawing board.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Wijk aan Zee (Tata Steel Chess)

Gotta mention Nakamura on the A Team - USA Rocks, Man!

Results in C Group, where the only two chess femmes in the Invitational are playing:

Round 3 (January 17, 2011)
Lahno, Kateryna- Pruijssers, Roeland1-041C63Ruy Lopez Schliemann
Vocaturo, Daniele- Kazhgaleyev, Murtas1-062C41Philidor's Defence
Nyzhnyk, Illya- Bluvshtein, Mark½-½25E10Blumenfeld Counter Gambit
Siebrecht, Sebastian- Bok, Benjamin½-½100A15English counter King's Fianchetto
Ivanisevic, Ivan- Van Der Werf, Mark½-½66E32Nimzo Indian 4.Qc2
Van Kampen, Robin- De Jong, Jan-Willem1-043C91Ruy Lopez
Swiercz, Dariusz- Tania, Sachdev0-172D37QGD 5.Bf4

Group C Standings after R3:

73rd Tata Steel GMC Wijk aan Zee (NED), 14-30 i 2011cat. XI (2507)
1.Lahno, KaterynagUKR2518*.½..1.1......2761
2.Vocaturo, DanielegITA2570.*....½..1.1..2784
3.Bluvshtein, MarkgCAN2590½.*½........1.22654
4.Nyzhnyk, IllyagUKR2530..½*.....1...½22679
5.Siebrecht, SebastiangGER2439....*.½½1.....22583
6.Tania, SachdevmIND23910....*....1.1.22687
7.Bok, BenjaminmNED2453.½..½.*.½.....2482
8.Pruijssers, RoelandmNED24840...½..*..½...12404
9.Van Der Werf, MarkmNED2439....0.½.*.½...12382
10.Kazhgaleyev, MurtasgKAZ2637.0.0.....*.1..12389
11.Ivanisevic, IvangSRB2630.....0.½½.*...12313
12.Van Kampen, RobinmNED2443.0.......0.*.112423
13.Swiercz, DariuszgPOL2540..0..0......*112347
14.De Jong, Jan-WillemmNED2437...½.......00*½2231

XIVth Colloquium Board Game Studies May 2011

The XIVth International Board Games Colliquium will be held in Brugge, Belgium this year:  KHBO-Spellenarchief, Campus KHBO, May 4th – 7th, 2011.
Here is a reminder of the original "call for papers" - there's still time to submit an abstract.  February 1, 2011 is the deadline!!!!!

Summaries, Abstracts and PresentationsParticipants interested in presenting a paper should submit a topic title and informal summary, written in English, not exceeding 200 words. Summaries should be submitted by February 1th 2011.

You can use name.doc or name.docx or name.pdf as file format.

If your paper is accepted, you will be asked to make a presentation at the Colloquium. You will then need to submit a formal abstract (you may use your summary as your abstract). These abstracts, of 200-500 words, due 28th Februray 2011, will be printed in the colloquium programme, which all participants will receive at registration, all abstracts must be in English.

All presentations will be given in English and should not exceed 30 minutes; there will be a 10 minutes period for questions following each presentation.

Please make a Powerpoint (name.ppt or name.pptx for Windows or Mac) ) or Keynote (name.key for Mac) to support your presentation.

Summaries, abstracts and enquiries should be emailed to Piet Notebaert (
Detailed information on program, registration, colloquium dinner, etc. will be available at the beginning of 2011.

Link to official website

Where to stay - in English. 

What's the big deal about the Chinese Tiger Mother?

I read the Chua's commentary on her book in The Wall Street Journal and I've read several articles and blog entries after the uproar!  Here is one I read this morning at The New York Times

For Xi Wangmu's sake!  Relax, people!  Amy Chua is not a demon mother from Hell and her children sound well-adjusted and normal to me - besides being very accomplished.  Chua taught them the fine arts of discipline and hard work and those are invaluable lessons to learn.  Alas, too often today these are lessons that are not being taught to American children, and we see the consequences in mediocre test scores and the greedy rantings of the "me me me and only me" generations that such parental laziness has produced since the 1960's.   

My parents were not perfect, but I thanked them many times after I reached adulthood for the lessons they taught all of us - lessons that have stood me and my siblings in good stead over the ensuing years:  (1) No one will ever give you anything worth having for free; (2) Whatever you want you will have to work your butt off to get it for yourself; (3) Support each other.  My folks taught us these precepts both by words and by their actions not only as we were growing up but throughout the course of their lives.  These lessons don't sound much different than what Ms. Chua was attempting, in her own way, to teach her own kids.

My solution for solving the problem of encroaching and soon-to-be-overwhelming mediocrity and ennui in American society -  more Chinese Tiger Mother types!

Rare Map Given New Life

Cunning, Care and Sheer Luck Save Rare Map
New York Times
Published: January 16, 2011

A replica of the 1770 Ratzer map of New York
 [Excerpted] It was rolled up among other yellowed maps and prints that came off a delivery truck at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s stately office near the East River. Carolyn Hansen, the society’s map cataloguer, began to gently unfurl the canvas.

“You could hear it rip,” said Ms. Hansen, 29, still cringing at the memory. She stopped pulling. But enough of the map, browned with age and dry and crisp as a stale chip, was open to reveal a name: Ratzer.

“We have a Ratzer map,” said James Rossman, chairman of the society, who happened to be in the building that Monday last May. That statement, despite the reverence in its delivery, meant little to the others in the room, but it would soon reverberate in cartography circles and among map scholars.

The name Ratzer is invoked as something of a Da Vinci of New York cartography, and the map was an early edition of his best-known work: a Bernard Ratzer “Plan of the City of New York” in its 1770 state.

There were widely believed to be only three copies of this exact map in existence. One of them belonged to King George III and remains in the British Library in London, where it is displayed occasionally. The other two — one legible, the other tanned and dark with shellac — are at the New-York Historical Society on the Upper West Side and remain in storage but for two or three times a year, when they are pulled out for students.

Restoring this surprise fourth map, aged beyond its 240 years by its destructive shellac coating, became an immediate priority in Brooklyn. Its transformation from literally untouchable to clearly legible and mounted behind glass, to be unveiled at a private party at the society on Wednesday night, involved science, patience and more than a little bit of kitchen-sink cunning, calling to service, at one delicate point, boiling pots of old books used to distill the color of aged paper.

The map had been cut in long strips to allow it to be rolled up for storage. The strips were so brittle they broke when touched. It took a lot of squinting and bending, breath held in, to discover that it was a Ratzer 1770 — its name perhaps an error, as it was most likely completed in 1769.

The two 1770 maps at the New-York Historical Society were gifts of its founder, John Pintard, on Jan. 4, 1810, according to its catalog. That would make, barring the existence of other copies unknown to map archivists, this fourth map in Brooklyn the first one discovered in 200 years.

“It’s incredibly significant,” Mr. Knutzen said. “It’s a needle in a haystack.”

The provenance of the Brooklyn map is a little murky. On the back of the linen that Ms. Hansen began unrolling last May, the name Pierrepont was clearly legible, from the prominent Brooklyn family. But there was no indication how or when it came to land in the Connecticut warehouse, the society said.

Fearful of causing more damage, the society called Jonathan P. Derow, a paper conservationist in Park Slope, who came right over. “It was in terrible condition,” Mr. Derow, 44, said. “I suggested it not be rerolled. Every time it was handled, more pieces were broken apart, and the damage was increased.”

It was too brittle to move to his office, so he made a makeshift plastic tent in the society’s office and inserted a humidifier. The hard paper softened, and Mr. Derow, a conservationist since 1991, carried it away in a mode unthinkable at the time of the map’s creation: a Zipcar.

He washed the map for four days in an alkaline bath that removed acid and grime, and he cut away the linen backing. He aligned the pieces, using a strong magnifying glass and tweezers, and let the map dry, only to see tiny gaps appear between strips, the result of the paper’s shrinking. He rewet it and started over, but let the pieces overlap slightly. That worked: the map shrank perfectly in place.

White lines were visible where the map had ripped, the brighter inner fabrics of the paper standing out from the stained surface. Mr. Derow visited Argosy Book Store on the Upper East Side and bought a handful of obscure old books — among them, for example, “The Select Dialogues of Lucian, to Which Is Added, a New Literal Translation in Latin, With Notes in English,” from 1804 — that were printed on cloth paper, like the map, and not wood pulp.

He performed on them a technique that should chill the blood of any author, wondering where his books will be in 200 years: he baked them in his kitchen stove and boiled them in water. He painted the resulting brackish stew onto the white lines, matching them to the rest of the map.

He framed the finished product behind plexiglass. The society, which paid a reduced rate of $5,000 for the restoration, plans a public viewing in the future.

I don't know if this link will work correctly - it is a photo from the Brooklyn Historical Museum's Facebook page which shows the map in very bad "before" condition unrolled on a table top and a partial view of the conserved map "after." 

Infanticide on the Rise in Pakistan

Warning - this article is not for the weak of stomach.

Killings of newborn babies on the rise in Pakistan
by Hasan Mansoor Hasan Mansoor – Mon Jan 17, 2:40 am ET

KARACHI (AFP) – The lifeless bodies of two tiny babies are being given their final bath before burial in Karachi, after they were left to die in the southern Pakistani city's garbage dumps.

"They can only have been one or two days old," says volunteer worker Mohammad Saleem, pointing at the two small corpses being gently washed by his colleagues at a charity's morgue.

In the conservative Muslim nation, where the birth of children outside of marriage is condemned and adultery is a crime punishable by death under strict interpretations of Islamic law, infanticide is a crime on the rise.

More than 1,000 infants -- most of them girls -- were killed or abandoned to die in Pakistan last year according to conservative estimates by the Edhi Foundation, a charity working to reverse the grim trend.

The infanticide figures are collected only from Pakistan's main cities, leaving out huge swathes of the largely rural nation, and the charity says that in December alone it found 40 dead babies left in garbage dumps and sewers.

The number of dead infants found last year -- 1,210 -- was up from 890 in 2008 and 999 in 2009, says the Edhi Foundation manager in Karachi, Anwar Kazmi.

Tragic tales abound.

Kazmi recounts the discovery of the burnt body of a six-day-old infant who had been strangled. Another child was found on the steps of a mosque having been stoned to death on the orders of an extremist imam who has since disappeared, he says.

"Do not murder, lay them here," reads a sign hanging outside the charity's Karachi base where it has left cradles in the hope that parents will abandon their unwanted children there, instead of leaving them to die.

"People leave these children mostly because they think they are illegitimate, but they are as innocent and loveable as all human beings," says the charity's founder, well-known humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Most children found are less than a week old.

Khair Mohammad, 65, works as a watchman in the charity's vast graveyard in the city outskirts. It is dotted with tiny unnamed graves.

"We acquired this land to bury children after another plot was filled with hundreds of bodies," he says.

The death toll is far worse among girls, says manager Kazmi, with nine out of ten dead babies the charity finds being female.

"The number of infanticides of girls has substantially increased," Kazmi says, a rise attributed to increased poverty across the country.

Girls are seen by many Pakistanis as a greater economic burden as most women are not permitted to work and are considered to be the financial responsibilty of their fathers, and later their husbands.

A Pakistani family can be forced to raise more than one million rupees (11,700 dollars) to marry their daughter off.

Edhi says that up to 200 babies are left in its 400 cradles nationwide each year and that it handles thousands of requests for adoption by childless couples.

Abortion is prohibited in Pakistan, except when the mother's life is at risk from her pregnancy, but advocates say that legalisation would reduce infanticide and save mothers from potentially fatal back-street terminations.

According to Pakistani law, anyone found to have abandoned an infant can be jailed for seven years, while anyone guilty of secretly burying a child can be imprisoned for two years. Murder is punishable with life imprisonment.

But crimes of infanticide are rarely prosecuted. "The majority of police stations do not register cases of infanticide, let alone launch investigations into them," said lawyer Abdul Rasheed.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 NFC Championship: Packers v. Bears!

The Bears defeated the Seattle Seahawks in snow flurries in Chicago at Soldiers' Field today, and so it will be the Packers travelling to Chicago next week Sunday to play for the NFC Championship.

Ka statue.
 So much for my vision of the Pack playing the Seahawks for the NFC title.  That vision was based on faulty information, so it could not have been true!  I got suspicious and did an internet search and discovered that the arch-traitor Mike Holmgren is now the "President" of the Browns - bwwwwwwwaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!  He's not coaching the Seahawks any longer, despite the presence of so many Holmgren era players on the roster.

Maybe I knew that already and conveniently forgot it. Ah well - forget the Seahawks.  Matt Hasselbeck has lost most of his hair - okay, I should not laugh...

Packers v. Bears - HOLY FOOTBALL GODDESS!  May the ancient Football Goddess and her Ka be with the Green Bay Packers next Sunday.

Da Vinci Masterpiece

This tag line gave me a great laugh this afternoon: 

Woman recreates da Vinci's 'Last Supper' with lint
Updated:11:29 p.m., Saturday, January 15, 2011

The "Lint Last Supper"
[Excerpt] ROSCOMMON, Mich. (AP) — A northern Michigan woman has put her own spin on Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" by making a replica out of laundry lint.

Laura Bell of Roscommon collected lint from her dryer and fashioned it into a 14-foot-long, 4-foot tall reproduction of the Italian Renaissance painter's masterpiece.

Bell says she needed about 800 hours to do enough laundry to get the lint, and 200 hours to recreate the mural. She bought towels of the colors she wanted and laundered them separately to get the right shades of lint.

What is wrong with the picture?

From People's Daily Online (English):

Two ancient city ruins found under Wangjinglou heritage site
14:48, January 13, 2011

In a recent archaeological excavation of Wangjinglou heritage site in Xinzheng City of Henan Province, Zhengzhou Academy of Cultural Relics and Archaeology accidentally [say what?] discovered two large-scale ancient city ruins from the Xia and Shang dynasties with a total area of nearly 1.7 million square meters.

According to archaeologists' initial speculation, the city from the Xia period might have been the capital of a kingdom, while the city in Shang period might have been an important garrison town.

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online

Here's the picture - those skeletons are not identified - don't have any idea if they are from the Xia period or the Shang period:

Photo, taken on Jan. 12, shows reporters photographing and interviewing at the Wangjinglou heritage site. (Photo by Xinhua/Zhao Peng)
What the heck is wrong with the skulls of these skeletons?  They look deformed.  Oh oh - have the Chinese accidentally revealed evidence of ancient alien infestation of Mother Earth???

What Is An Eidolon?

I ask because the term cropped up in a very interesting article by Mary Beard (hereafter exerpted) and I have never heard of it.  There doesn't seem much information available online, but perhaps I am not searching correctly. I found this: 

An Eidolon is a ghoul or a phantom first written about in Greek Mythology. The word literally means “image of the ideal.”The Eidolons were ghostly women created by Zeus from light and mist.  From

Not very satisfactory as an explanation, but perhaps the only information available. The term came up in the context of Helen of Troy whom, Herodotus wrote, actually was sequestered in Egypt and it was her eidolon that went to Troy.  So, Paris had the hot itchies for the equivalent of a Doppelganger???  Hmmm.....

From The Times Online
A Don's Life
Mary Beard
January 15, 2011

The face of Paris -- and Cleopatra

The "Paris" grafiti, Temple at Luxor.
[Excerpt - Cleopatra portion omitted] The next bit of graffiti we have been chasing is the rather rough and ready image of Paris at the head of this post. It is scratched on a column in one of the main halls of the Egyptian Temple at Luxor. It is headed "Paris", though you can only just see a trace of this at the very top. And, so far as we can tell,it shows a statue (at least it's on a base) of the Trojan (anti-)hero, holding an apple in one hand and a quiver in the other.

We were looking for this in the temple (though -- fair dues -- it was the son who actually found it). One idea, according to some article I read, is that this is a Greco-Roman graffiti, which represents the famous lost statue of Paris by Euphranor. But, more than that, so the same article claims, it is also a reflection of the idea, made famous in Euripides' play Helen, that Helen of Troy did not actually go to Troy at all, but only an image of her (an eidolon).

How come? Well, this graffito has been scratched right next to a statue of Nefartari.  So here, the argument goes, the Roman scratcher has seen an image which he has interpreted as the eidolon of Helen and depicted Paris next to it.

It was the husband who pointed out that this doesn't quite add up. But something quite close to it does For starters, on the Euripidean version it was Helen who went to Egypt and the eidolon that went to Troy -- so logically this statue of Nefertari can't have been re-interpreted as the eidolon (it's the wrong place). The husband must be right to say that the graffiti artist saw the Egyptian statue (naked) as an image of Aphrodite.. which is why, as in the judgement of Paris, the graffiti figure is holding an apple in his hand, all ready to award it to the Goddess of Love. Still, it is a nice Roman re-interpretation of an Egyptian image, but probably no connection with Euripides.

See Wikipedia on Euripides' play "Helen" for further information.  Image, left:  Helen of Troy, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, oil 1863.  Who does she look like?  A younger Uma Thurman?  Kathryn Heigel?  Jessica Simpson?  That gorgeous and abundant golden wavy hair, the big blue eyes and those red, pouty lips - yeah, she was an icon of beauty then and she's an icon of beauty still. 

The Dart Aphrodite Donated to the University of Southern California

Lovely - and the model wasn't anorexic, either.

From USC's Daily Trojan Online
New sculpture donated to USC’s Tutor Campus Center
By bridget mcanany · Daily Trojan
Posted January 12, 2011 (4 days ago) at 11:54 pm

The Dart Aphrodite.
All that is left is her head!  Oh my!
The Ronald Tutor Campus Center is now home to an additional attraction: an extremely rare, 2,000-year-old ancient Greek sculpture, of which there is only one other known replica in existence currently residing in the Louvre in Paris.

The Dart Aphrodite is a product of the ancient Roman practice of making copies of ancient Greek pieces to preserve aging artwork. USC’s Dart Aphrodite will be displayed outside the Admission Center on the second floor of the Campus Center against the recycled glass wall.

The sculpture is a slightly larger than life-size head of Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love. The head is all that remains of the original piece, as the rest of the body has been lost over time.

Part of the goddess’ nose has been scraped off, but overall the piece is in surprisingly good condition, said Cindy Robinson, educational program coordinator at the Campus Center.

“This piece will be beautiful, convenient and educational,” Robinson said. “We’re going to have an artifact on campus and professors, students and guests alike are going to seek it out and study it.”

In the mid-1990s, the piece’s owner, actress Jane O’Brien Dart, patron of the arts and donor of the Roski School of Fine Arts at USC, invited then-Dean of the School of Fine Arts John Pollini to visit her while the Dart Aphrodite was at her home in Los Angeles.

“I thought [the Dart Aphrodite] was an interesting piece so I did more research on it and eventually wrote an article on the head,” said Pollini, who is now a professor of classical art and archeology in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.

Pollini published his article 15 years ago, and when Dart passed away in April 2009, her son Stephen got in touch with Pollini and decided to donate the artwork to USC.

“I had met Stephen earlier when I met Jane as I first saw the piece,” Pollini said. “He remembered me and my article and decided to donate the Dart Aphrodite to USC.”

The sculpture was donated to USC’s archeology lab, where it arrived in late November for examination. Robinson said that although the archeology lab officially owns the piece, it is on permanent loan to the Campus Center.

“We don’t have any kind of date set for when the piece might be removed,” Robinson said. “If it were to be removed, it would be in a very long time and it would have to be for extenuating circumstances.”

After being examined at USC, the piece was sent to a shop in Pasadena for a custom-made glass installation case. Because of the specific style and weight of the sculpture, the installation piece includes a special mount that goes into a hole at the bottom of the neck.

Pollini said that since the university does not currently have any other major pieces of ancient Greek or Roman art, the acquisition of the Dart Aphrodite is important to the USC community.

“This is literally something you would possibly study in an art history or archeology-minded class, so the fact that we’re going to have it on campus and see it in person is going to be infinitely more valuable than studying it in a book,” Robinson said. “It really makes being able to study it in this context priceless.”

2011 Wijk aan Zee (Tata Steel Chess) - Photos by Fred Lucas

Ohmygoddess!  What were the organizers thinking - squeezing that many people into so small a room - and with "sea and chess" murals on the walls, no less!  Entirely claustrophobic.  I would not be able to stay in that room for a minute, let alone the hours it takes to play a chess game.  Holy Cow!  Not even enough room for a good stretch!

Here are the ladies:

GM Kateryna Lahno, playing in C Group, R1.

Sachdev v. Lahno, C Group, R2.

Tania Sachdev of India, playing in C Group, R1.
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