Saturday, April 9, 2011

More on the European Individual Chess Championship and Judit Polgar

Dylan Loeb McClain, who lost his chess blog due to lack of interest I suppose (unfortunate for chess), has a new article up at The New York Times:

A Four-Way Tie for First, and a Controversial Finish
Published: April 9, 2011

Judit Polgar features in the article for her third place finish and her fine play.  McClain has a game that you can play through, Judit's victory over Viorel Iordachescu of Moldova -- it's the lower board or diagram in the article.  You can click on the board/diagram and if you have Java on your computer up will pop a chessboard with pieces arrayed, and a list of the moves on the left hand side.  To start the game, you just click on the first move in the list, the pieces move by themselves on the board, and you can go back and forth on the moves list as much as you want.

I played through Judit's game and just shook my head.  No way would I ever play a chess game this way.  Just about every move I was saying "why the hell are they doing that?"  LOL!  That's why I'm no grandmaster and will never, ever in my wildest dreams, be a Judit Polgar! 

Er, "Gay Caveman?"

LOL!  I couldn't resist posting this.  Really!  What newspapers won't do these days with misleading headlines in order to garner readership.  Ha! 

From The Montreal Gazette Online
'Gay Caveman' not definitely gay nor caveman, say archaeologists
By Mike Barber, Postmedia News April 8, 2011
Photo (c) Europics. Y-M-C-Cave: The skeleton was found in a
Prague suburb with its head pointing eastwards and surrounded by
domestic jugs - rituals only previously seen in female graves. Men would
normally be buried with weapons, hammers and flint knives
The discovery of a 5,000-year-old skeleton that was buried in a peculiar way has researchers suggesting the prehistoric man found outside modern-day Prague could have been gay or transsexual.

But archaeologists and anthropologists are urging those in the media who have dubbed the skeleton a "gay caveman" not to rush to any neanderthal-like assumptions.

Kamila Remisova Vesinova, a researcher with the Czech Archaeological Society, has said the male skeleton is believed have been a member of the Corded Ware culture, which proliferated in northern Europe between 2500 and 2900 BCE.

Corded Ware societies were known for burying men with their heads facing west and with weapons of war, typically a battle axe. But this find was positioned facing east and surrounded by domestic items, such as the pots from which the culture takes its name — the same way women from the society were buried.

The archeologists have speculated that this could mean these are the remains of a homosexual or transsexual man.

"From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously, so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake," Vesinova told a news conference announcing the discovery.

"So we think, based on data, that it could be a member of a so-called third gender, which were people either with different sexual orientation or transsexuals or just people who identified themselves differently from the rest of the society."

British newspapers, such as the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, jumped on Vesinova's comments as proof that archaeologists had found a "gay caveman," despite the fact the term "cavemen" typically refers to Neanderthals who lived 30,000 years ago.

Vesinova's team uncovered a single-room building at the dig site just outside of Prague, suggesting the society had clearly moved beyond living in caves.

As for suggestion the man was gay, experts say that isn't set in stone either. Kristina Killgrove, an anthropologist and archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, wrote on her blog, Bone Girl, that the burial site isn't necessarily proof of any sexual orientation.

"Just because all the burials you've found to date are coded male and female based on grave goods doesn't mean there aren't alternate forms you haven't found and doesn't mean that the alternate form you have found has a lot of significance," she wrote.

"If this burial represents a transgendered individual (as well it could), that doesn't necessarily mean the person had a 'different sexual orientation' and certainly doesn't mean that he would have considered himself (or that his culture would have considered him) 'homosexual'."

Rosemary Joyce, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who focuses on sex and gender in archeology, said there simply isn't enough proof to conclude anything about the skeleton's sexual identity. With no other burial sites having been attributed to third-sex individuals from that society, "in cultural milieu where burials normally fall into two groups based on position and grave goods, they have uncovered an anomalous burial."

Instead, Joyce suggested that the true sign of a burial site for a third-sexed individual probably wouldn't simply be a conflation of those for men and women, but rather a third format distinguishable from men and women altogether.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

After reading this article, the first question that came to mind was "are they sure the skeleton is a male?"  Then I wondered if this person might not be some kind of magical person or shaman figure - they were always a little bit "strange."  We need more information and further research before jumping to conclusions. What I would like to know if there are records of other unusual burials similar to this from elsewhere in the world?  Too bad there isn't a universal database available for this type of thing.  What a boon it would be to archaeologists and anthropologists. 


From the
First homosexual caveman found
Archaeologists have unearthed the 5,000-year-old remains of what they believe may have been the world's oldest known gay caveman.
10:00PM BST 06 Apr 2011

From the
The oldest gay in the village: 5,000-year-old is 'outed' by the way he was buried
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:35 AM on 8th April 2011

The Continuing Saga of the Search for Newton Ancestors

It was a few weeks ago that I discovered that the Wisconsin Historical Society has a great deal of information available online.  To make a long story short, I discovered that it had a death record for one of my ancestors, Andrew Forsyth, Jr., son of Andrew the Soldier Forsyth.

One of my family mysteries involves Andrew the Soldier Forsyth is his wife, Susan.  I have written before about their marriage.  Andrew the Soldier was born about 1795.  Susan was born about 1781.  That is quite a gap in their ages (14 to 15 years, depending upon when census records were taken).

Through connections I made with distant family members online, I received photocopies of some Forsyth family records, but nothing on Susan.  According to my contact, Susan's family name was AUGARNEL and she was born either in Belgium or the Netherlands in about 1781.

I could find no records online for anyone that might be Susan.  I couldn't even find any record of a family name AUGARNEL. 

I have searched under various spellings beginning with "A" and "O" and I have found - nothing.

Finally, a  few weeks ago, while digging around online records yet again, I turned up a record of the death of Andrew Forsyth, Jr., who died on August 7, 1902 in Preble, Brown County, Wisconsin.  He died on one of the family farms that was created out of land originally purchased by Andrew the Soldier (his father) way back in 1837. 

That death record was abstracted - an image of the actual record was not available.  It stated that Andrew, Jr.'s father was "Andrew Forsyth" born in England and his mother was "Susan Orugwhiel" born in Belgium.  However, I discovered I could order a copy of this record from the Wisconsin Historical Society for $15.00.  I gulped, and did so, via secure network and paid for the record with a credit card.  I could spend a fortune ordering records online and generally, I have avoided doing so.  But this record - I wanted to see.  My thought was - what if someone misread Susan's surname? What if it contains the vital clue I NEED in order to find out more about her and her antecedents?  After ordering ensued the waiting period for the record to arrive...

As far as I know, Andrew Forsyth, Sr. (whom I call Andrew the Soldier) was born in Granard, Granard Parish, County Longford, Ireland, in about 1795. Although I have not been able to find a church record of his birth or the names of his parents, from other military records I have found and that were sent to me by my online contacts, including Julie Neal, I am certain that Granard, Granard Parish, Longford, Ireland, was the location of this particular family Forsyth.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate any Forsyths living in Granard Town or Longford Town, or County Longford, Ireland from available online records, which date to about 1835, some 22 years after the last record I have of the brothers Forsyth, who enlisted (all three of them) in the 37th Regiment of Foot at Monmouth, Hants County, on 30 November 1813.

I have discovered online that unfortunately, many records have been lost or destroyed by fires over the years.  It is also possible that this family Forsyth were killed in the Irish famine of 1816, or they may have been wiped out in one of the many cholera epidemics that swept through Ireland again and again during the ensuing years.  Indeed, it is probably remarkable that my three Forsyth brothers:  Andrew (born about 1795), James (born about 1790), and John (born about 1788), survived and thrived in the New World. 

Back to Andrew the Soldier's wife, Susan. On Andrew, Jr.'s death record, she is listed as Susan ORUGWHIEL.

AHA! I said.  But I couldn't find any family names online remotely similar to this name, either.  So - another dead end.  At last, the photocopy of Andrew Forsyth, Jr.'s death record arrived.  Alas, it recorded in very clear handwriting that his mother, Susan's, last name was ORUGWHIEL.  Damn!  Another dead end.

Other than U.S. census records which list Susan as "Susan Forsyth," I have no records on hand or online that actually mention Susan except a birth record from Montreal, Quebec of her and Andrew the Soldier's son, Andrew, Jr.  Thanks to the records at, I have a photocopy of a microfiche entry in a church record from Andrew, Jr.'s baptism.  "Susan, wife of Andrew Forsyth" is listed as the mother, her maiden name is not provided.  This was an Anglican church record, not a French church record, which would have listed the mother's maiden name.  Drat! 

Do AUGARNEL and ORUGWHIEL sound alike? If Susan was, indeed, born in Belgium, my guess is that she was of French ancestry, and in a French accent spoken by Susan and with people not familiar with the language, they may have spelled Susan's surname out phonetically. That's the problem, of course.  If Susan's name sounded something like Augarnel or Orugwhiel, it could be almost anything.  I was searching under as many different variants as I could think up and wrote down (I've got name lists all over my kitchen table and in my notebooks, LOL!).  My best guess at this time is that Susan's surname sounded something like Aug-well or Org-well, or possibly Aug-wheel or Org-wheel. 

This is hopeless task at this point.  To demonstrate the difficulties of surname spellings and how they changed, I discovered another ancestor's wife, also born in Belgium:  Maria Fredricka Susan Ouise - as best I have reconstgructed her actual name. She was born in Belgium in about August, 1863, and married Benjamin Pierce Forsyth, who was the youngest son of Andrew Forsyth, Jr. and his wife, Annie McGinnis. The couple were married in 1881.

Maria Fredricka Susan Ouise was listed on census records after her marriage to Benjamin Pierce Forsyth as "Mary F" (1900), "Mary" (1910), "T Mary" (1920),  and "Mary" (1930).  It was thanks to birth records of her children that I found at that I learned she was variously listed as:

Maria Frederick, born Belgium -- on birth record of daughter Esther L. Forsyth, born 18 Nov 1894 in Scott, Brown County, Wisconsin

Maria Wise, born Belgium -- on birth record of daughter Esther L. Forsyth, born 18 Nov 1894 in Preble, Brown County, Wisconsin (yes, a second birth record for Esther L. Forsyth)

Maria Onise [Ouise?], born USA -- on birth record of female child Forsythi, born 04 Jul 1891 Bay Settlement, Brown County, Wisconsin

Susan Wise, born USA -- on birth record of son Chester W. Forsythe, born 05 Mar 1889 Bay Settlement, Brown County, Wisconsin.

I also found her on various family trees and other records listed as Wyse, Wise, Weiss.  Not as Ouise, which is my best guess at an original surname spelling from Belgium.

So, you see the problems one encounters when trying to decipher family relationships, kinship and surnames from the past!

Another note of mystery from the family line.  This is from Benjamin Pierce Forsyth's line - this line would be cousins to my family line.  At one point, Benjamine Pierce Forsyth and his wife, Susan Ouise (Wise/Wyse/Weiss) lived in South Dakota.  On the 1900 U.S. Census, when they were living in South Dakota, they listed Chester and Martha as children, which I have confirmed through other records.  In addition was listed as a daughter Ellen I. Forsyth, born March 1887 in South Dakota.

From a family tree of a relative, I found Ellen I Forsyth listed as Helen R. Forsyth.

Further digging produced the following information:

Hellen Ida Forsyth, born 7 Mar 1888 in Charles Mix County, South Dakota.
Father: Andrew Hanson Forsyth
Mother: Isabelle Paulson

I do not know what the relationship is between Andrew Hanson Forsyth and Benjamin Pierce Forsyth, but given the surnames, I assume they are somehow related.  I also assume that since Hellen Ida ended up in the household of Benjamin Pierce Forsyth and Susan Ouise/Wyse/Wise/Weiss, that her parents (Andrew Hanson Forsyth and Isabelle Paulson) died.  But - back then, who knows?

I can also tell you that I found records showing that one Helen Ida Forsythe born in Dakota gave birth to a son, Edwarfd Puyleart, on 06 Jun 1903, in Preble, Brown County, Wisconsin.  She was married to Victor Puyleart, born in Belgium.  The marriage records indicates that the couple were married on 25 Nov 1902 in Brown County, Wisconin, and the groom's father was Frank Puylaert, his mother was Mina Spanhoven, and the bride's father was Benjamin Forsyth and her mother was Mary Weiss.

So it goes.  I continue the search...

Friday, April 8, 2011

When Love Calls Your Name...

Signing off for tonight, darlings!  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  Me, I'm doing yard work and taxes (YECH to taxes) and busy putting together a special gift for our friends in Las Vegas that I'll be seeing soon - can't wait!

This is a fab song that I got familiar with listening to smooth jazz online since Milwaukee saw fit to delete it's only decent radio station in town, the former WJZI smooth jazz on FM.  Oh well, now I don't have to lsiten to ANY advertisements, I just listen to music as long as I have the channel playing on my computer in the background.  Love it! 

Catacombs for Upwards of Eight Million Dogs

Dogs, millions of them, sometimes only hours old, were ritually killed and then carefully mummified and buried inside wooden coffins in a labyrinth of tunnels lying underneath the sacred ground of Saqqara in Egypt.  Dating mostly to the Late Period (after pollution of Egyptian religious concepts by Greek and Roman practices, which tended more toward the barbarian), archaeologists claim the site is a testament to the enduring legacy of using an "intermediary" between man and gods - in this case, "dog" headed Anubis.  Hmmmm, I wonder if anyone bothered to check with Anubis to see what He thought about this slaughter of innocent canine flesh...

Story at Past Horizons
April 4, 2011

An elaborate labyrinth of sacred tunnels, containing the mummified remains of millions of dogs, has been excavated under the Egyptian desert. The Catacombs of Anubis project, led by Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University, is examining the tunnels beneath the desert at Saqqara, which make up the catacomb for the burial of animals sacred to the dog or jackal-headed god Anubis.

The Dog Catacomb has been known since the 19th Century but has never been properly excavated before. The excavation team’s latest estimate is that some 8,000,000 animals – most of them dogs or jackals – were buried there. Work on the animal bones suggests that they were only hours or days old when they were killed and mummified. It is likely the dogs were bred in their thousands in special puppy farms around the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.

Dr Paul Nicholson, of Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: “Our findings indicate a rather different view of the relationship between people and the animals they worshipped than that normally associated with the ancient Egyptians, since many animals were killed and mummified when only a matter of hours or days old. These animals were not strictly ‘sacrificial’. Rather, the dedication of an animal mummy was regarded as a pious act, with the animal acting as intermediary between the donor and the gods.”

The team is hoping that the geological work on the catacomb will help the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, who have generously permitted the work, in monitoring the site for its long term preservation.

Afghanistan Set to Destroy Cultural Heritage - with Chinese Help

Typical.  Welcome to the Age of Aquarius - whatever happened to that, heh?  Life in the 21st century SUCKS if you're just an average Joe. 

From The Art Newspaper
Race to save Buddhist relics in former Bin Laden camp
Workers are desperately trying to excavate Mes Aynak before a Chinese mining company moves in
By Martin Bailey | From issue 223, April 2010
Published online 7 Apr 11 (News)

Headless Buddhist sculpturs from Mes Aynak.
May they rise up and hunt down their mutilators!
MES AYNAK. A rescue operation is underway to save as much as possible from ancient Buddhist monasteries in Mes Aynak, Afghanistan, before the mountains become an open-cast mine and the site is destroyed. In what is now the world’s largest archaeological dig, around 1,000 workers are trying to excavate artefacts from the country’s second most important Buddhist site (along with Hadda), after Bamiyan.

The site, a former training camp of Osama bin Laden, has been leased to a Chinese mining company for copper production. Only what can be excavated and removed to safety will be saved.

Despite the impending archaeological loss, Mes Aynak has received scant attention internationally. Moreover, Afghanistan’s heritage has suffered much in recent years from civil war, looting and the vandalism of the Taliban.

Mes Aynak (Little Copper Well) lies 25 miles south-east of Kabul, in a barren region. The Buddhist monasteries date from the third to the seventh centuries, and are located near the remains of ancient copper mines. It is unclear whether the monastery was originally established to serve the miners or if the monks set up there to work the mines themselves.

Here, 7,000 ft up the mountains, Bin Laden set up a training camp in 1999 to prepare terrorists for the 11 September attack. All traces of the camp have gone, but the region still remains a Taliban stronghold.

During the early 2000s, widespread looting occurred at the Buddhist sites after the Kabul government found it difficult to impose control. Archaeologists are now uncovering dozens of statues with missing heads that were broken off to sell.

Mes Aynak’s fate changed again in 2007, when the government negotiated a 30-year mining concession with the state-owned China Metallurgical Group. The archaeological remains sit on the world’s second largest copper deposit. The $3bn deal represents the largest business venture in Afghanistan’s history.

The mining project should bring major economic benefits for the country, but it involves digging a huge open-cast mine that will envelop most of the archaeological remains. Although mining has not yet begun, large numbers of Chinese workers are already developing the infrastructure.

The rescue excavations began in 2009 at Gol Hamid, which lies in a mountain pass adjacent to a Chinese camp. Work was undertaken by the National Institute of Archaeology and the Délégation Archéologique Française en Afghanistan. Part of the monastic compound was excavated, leading to the discovery of a vaulted chapel, monks’ cells and storerooms. Polychrome terracotta statues were also found, including a sleeping Buddha.

Last year the archaeological work moved to Tepe Kafiriat, higher up the mountains. The 260 ft walled complex originally had eight stone-clad stupas (ceremonial towers for relics), surrounding the main stupa. Among the finds are a 25 ft-long reclining Buddha and wall paintings. Archaeologists also discovered a pair of large feet, which are all that remains of a 10 ft statue (the main part was looted or destroyed in the early 2000s). An ancient wooden Buddha was also discovered, which very rarely survive.

Although comparatively little has been excavated, the archaeologists are supposed to complete their work within 14 months. Mining is due to start in 2014.

Last month The Art Newspaper spoke to Omar Sultan, the deputy minister for information and culture. He pledged that from this month, the number of archaeologists would rise from 30 to 65. The number of labourers would be increased tenfold, from 90 to 900. The site is guarded by a force of 1,600 soldiers.

Excavation costs are now estimated at $28m, although it is not clear whether the whole site has been surveyed. Funding is coming from the ministry of mines, and possibly from the Chinese company. The Chinese have also promised to send archaeologists.

The most important portable finds have been transferred to the National Museum in Kabul, although its storage and conservation facilities are inadequate to handle the volume of material that has been unearthed.

On 15 March, finds from Mes Aynak went on display in Kabul. “Along the Silk Road: Recent Excavations from Mes Aynak”, featuring 70 of the most important discoveries, was funded by the US embassy in Kabul.

The government has plans to build a new museum near Mes Aynak, on a site in Logar province. It will be five miles from the mine. There are hopes of moving some of the stupa bases and reconstructing them in the new museum.

Sultan has a personal interest in Mes Aynak, since in 1976 he worked with Soviet archaeologists on an initial survey. He remains optimistic: “Yes, we do have enough time. We have an agreement with the ministry of mines to safeguard the archaeology.” Archaeologists, however, have expressed their horror at the rush to mine the copper.

A Fascinating Story of Unintended Consequences

When some ancient flint artifacts were moved from their former drafty old castle into a cozy new home and placed on synthetic "rubber" mats, no one dreamed what would - or could - or might - happen.

A strong lesson on unintended consequences...

Artifact Staining Leaves Chemical Questions
April 6, 2011
[Excerpted from]

This winter, Gilberto Artioli’s team reported the structures of three new pigment molecules. Because the molecules came from samples that originated near Verona, Italy, the Univ. of Padua geoarchaeologist named two of the brilliant blue dyes after Verona’s Shakespearean star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Artioli’s dyes are also the protagonists of a drama of their own. And for some researchers, things might have been better if the pigments had never existed.

Artioli’s samples came from prehistoric flint tools that last year began showing very visible signs of contamination—a bright blue tinge. The mystery sparked a furor in Italy and in the archaeology community. In ensuing media coverage, the case became as much about finding human culprits for the damage as about finding chemical ones.

“Flint stones are commonly rather unreactive materials,” so the blue cast was especially puzzling, Artioli says. With blue-stained flint samples supplied by Laura Longo, then-curator of Verona’s Natural History Museum, and by the regional office of Italy’s Ministry of Culture, Artioli, analytical chemist Andrea Tapparo, and colleagues set to work. Their earliest tests detected contamination with hydrocarbons but didn’t turn up any colored molecules.

Because surface analysis wasn’t yielding any clues, the team decided to look a little deeper. They used warm acetone to extract the blue compounds from a flint sample. High-performance liquid chromatography purification and structural identification nabbed the three pigment perpetrators—Romeo blue, Juliet blue, and flint blue. The trio belongs to the triphenylmethane dye family, an old class of synthetic colorants that counts the pH indicator bromocresol green among its members.

Along with the structure identification, the Padua team’s work provides a possible explanation for the blue sheen, which cropped up after the ancient artifacts were moved in 2007 and 2008 to a former military armory when their original home—an 18th-century castle used as a storage site for the museum—was sold to raise funds.

They say that an additive from synthetic rubber mats in the armory storage cabinets is the source. That additive, the antioxidant 2,2,4-trimethyl-1,2-dihydroquinoline, somehow desorbed from the mats to the tools and trimerized to form the blue contaminants. It’s not yet clear how that happened, Artioli says. The flint’s silica surface could be involved, but his team thinks it’s more likely that iron species from inclusions in the flint catalyzed the reaction because the intensity of the blue discoloration lines up with the inclusions in microscope images.

“I’ve been active in [conservation] for 15 years, and it’s the first time I’ve seen something like this,” says Francesca Casadio, a senior conservation scientist at the Art Institute of Chicago. Artioli’s team “does a very good job in characterizing the dyes and proposing what the precursor may be,” she adds.

The stone tools remain in the armory, but the regional office of the Ministry of Culture has asked museum officials to remove the rubber mats on the basis of Artioli’s recommendation, says Vincenzo Tiné, the regional supervisor of the ministry. Tests are ongoing to confirm Artioli’s work and to determine whether bacteria from the flint’s surface contributed to the blue dye formation, he adds.

To Longo, who is now director of culture for the municipality of Florence after resigning from her position with the Verona museum in December 2010, those actions come as too little, too late. She says Italian law requires rigorous environmental testing prior to moving artifacts, and testing should have been done when relocating these to the former military armory, which was not explicitly designed for sensitive specimens.

Longo was on leave from the museum from 2005 to 2009 and was not involved with the move. She was suspended without salary from her curator post in July 2010 after complaining that the tools hadn’t been properly transferred. “We have very strict laws for cultural heritage in Italy,” Longo says. “We know exactly what we have to do when we move collections or when we lend archaeological material for exhibitions. So you cannot say ‘Oh, I forgot’ or ‘I didn’t know.’ ”

Longo notes that Neanderthal bones in the same collection as the stained tools were once used in studies of Neanderthal DNA. To the best of her knowledge, the bones and other items in the collection didn’t turn blue, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t chemically contaminated and their scientific value compromised as well, she says. “Can we rely on the results from any new studies on these materials?”

Artioli’s team is still trying to determine whether the blue discoloration can be reversed.

The case of the blue flint is still far from closed. The Italian press reports that on March 7, two senators in Italy’s Parliament introduced a petition to Sandro Bondi, Italy’s minister of culture, demanding that the prehistoric collection be transferred out of the armory to a safer place and that parties responsible for damaging the artifacts be identified. Last summer, eminent archaeologists and paleoanthropologists signed a similar petition. And Verona’s chief public prosecutor is reviewing evidence to determine whether crimes have been committed under Italy’s cultural heritage laws. [A day late and a dollar short.  Typical, so typical.]

Ancient Italian Artefacts Get the Blues, July 12, 2010

A Little Judit Will Do You Good

Judit Polgar wows European Championship with mother of all displays
Leonard Barden, Friday 8 April 2011 13.42 BST

Though Russia's Vladimir Potkin won the European Championship at Aix-les-Bains on tie-break, it was the bronze medallist Judit Polgar who most delighted the global online audience by her creative chess. The world's all-time No1 woman player won four imaginative attacks and two subtle endgames in her 8½/11 total.

Polgar is now a mother of two and plays few events, making her result the more impressive. Here she counters White's slow 4 Qc2?! by fast development, then sacrifices a whole rook to keep the white king in the centre. Computers are unconvinced, but over the board defenders usually err in such positions, and 19 Rc1? (19 Ng5) and 26 Qf3? (26 g4) led to a Polgar piece invasion where 31...e3! stops perpetual check.

L Pantsulaia v J Polgar

1 c4 e6 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 g3 d5 4 Qc2?! c5 5 d4 cxd4 6 Nxd4 e5 7 Nb3 Nc6 8 Bg2 Nb4 9 Qd1 dxc4 10 N3d2 Bf5 11 Na3 b5! 12 Bxa8 Qxa8 13 Nf3 Nd3+ 14 exd3 Bxd3 15 Nxb5 Bb4+ 16 Nc3 0-0 17 Rg1 Ne4 18 Bd2 Rd8 19 Rc1? Nxc3 20 bxc3 Ba3 21 Be3 Bxc1 22 Bxc1 Rb8 23 Nd2 Qd5 24 Qa4 a5 25 Qd1 h6! 26 Qf3? Rb1! 27 Kd1 e4 28 Qf4 Ra1 29 Qb8+ Kh7 30 g4 Qd7 31 Qe5 e3! 32 fxe3 Qa4+ 33 Ke1 Rxc1+ 34 Kf2 Rxg1 0-1

Sebastien Feller's unbeaten 8/11 and seventh place was a huge result in the context of the French Chess Federation's ban on the 20-year-old for alleged computer cheating at the 2010 Olympiad. At Aix, with no possibility of outside help, Feller's performance was 50 rating points higher than in the Olympiad, a fact which will surely be quoted when his appeal against suspension is heard.

He was booed at the prize-giving, but the controversy has divided French chess and is set to run. Feller was the only home player in Aix to qualify for the World Cup in August. England No2 Luke McShane lost in the final round but his 7.5/11 was also enough for a World Cup place.

Polgar exploits Black's slow opening (9...Nxd4!) by a classic king's side pawn storm.

J Polgar v C Philippe

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 d6 7 Be3 Nf6 8 g4 h6 9 h4 Bd7? 10 Rg1 d5 11 exd5 Nxd5 12 Nxd5 exd5 13 Qd2 Rc8 14 0-0-0 Bb4 15 c3 Be7 16 f4 b5 17 Kb1 Na5 18 Nf3 Bc6 19 Bd4 0-0 20 g5 h5 21 Ne5 Nc4 22 Bxc4 dxc4 23 Qe2! Qe8 24 Nxc6 Rxc6 25 Qe5 f6 26 Qd5+ Kh8 27 g6 f5 28 Qf3! 1-0

3186 1 Bc6 Ke8 (or Bxc6 2 dxc6 Ke8 3 f5!) 2 f5! and White queens.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Census Tells the Tale

India's lost girls - and what the hell is India going to do?  Twenty years of girls are now gone - millions of girl babies aborted, and those boys that were born at the beginning of this period are going to be looking for wives.  Who are they going to marry? 

Census spotlights India's 'missing girls'
by Rupam Jain Nair Rupam Jain Nair – Sat Apr 2, 10:52 pm ET
NEW DELHI (AFP) – The problem of India's "missing girls" has been put under a harsh spotlight by new census data showing the ratio of female to male children at its lowest level since independence in 1947.

According to the latest national headcount, there are now just 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, down from a ratio of 927 for every 1,000 a decade ago.

Despite India's steady economic rise in the past 10 years, the figures show the social bias against having girls remains as strong as ever, with illegal sex-selective abortions facilitated by cheap ultrasound technology.

"The figures should make us think 100 times before we call ourselves citizens of a progressive nation," said Delhi University social scientist Gitika Vasudev.

India's sex ratio has been falling continuously since 1961, when it stood at 976 girls for every 1,000 boys, and Vasudev said the latest data was "proof of India's collective failure" to protect girl children.

The global average is 1,050 girls for every 1,000 boys.

Married women in India face huge pressure to produce male heirs who are seen as breadwinners, family leaders and carers when parents age.

Girls are often viewed as a burden to the family as they require hefty dowries to be married off.

"Measures put in place over the last 40 years have not had any impact on the ratio," conceded India's home secretary G.K. Pillai, announcing the need for a "complete" family planning policy review.

India has a long history of female infanticide -- of girls suffocated, poisoned, drowned or left to die.

More common now, thanks to technological advances, is the abortion of female foetuses, or "female foeticide" -- a simple, cheap and difficult to police process with ultrasound tests costing as little as $10.

Signboards at clinics stipulating: "No sex determination tests done here" often pay little more than lip service to the law, and portable ultrasound machines mean tests can be carried out in the most remote villages.

As many as half a million female foetuses are estimated to be aborted each year in India, according to a 2006 study by British medical journal Lancet.

Social activists say legal safeguards have been rendered toothless by official apathy.

"It's not difficult to trace doctors who perform these tests but the government has not found it important enough to nab them," says gynaecologist D.P. Roy, director of "Beti ka Saath" or "A Daughter is a Companion", a voluntary group in the northern state of Haryana.

"Instead of spending money on seminars and public meetings, the government should post a cash reward for anyone who helps catch offenders," she said.

In the last few decades, successive governments have launched an array of schemes to change attitudes towards girls, including offering cash incentives, but they have had little impact.

There had been hopes that the growing affluence produced by India's rapid economic rise would help erode long-held prejudices, but some analysts say it has actually reinforced them.

"It's a misconception that English-speaking, suave, rich Indians do not use sex determination tests," said P.M. Kulkarni, a demography expert at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.

"Shockingly, some rich Indians believe they have a right to choose whether they want a boy or a girl," Kulkarni said. "Society has to change, mindsets have to change, attitudes need to change to save the girl child."
What's going to happen when the young men of India realize there aren't enough females of marriageable age for every man who wishes to marry?  Will forced child marriage become even more prevalent? Trafficking in females? Abduction and rape? Will young males from one village raid other villages for their females? Could regional wars break out - and spread? Think I'm exaggerating what could happen? 

Follow-Up: Rescued Japanese Dog Reunited with Owner

Prior post.

From Yahoo News/Associated Press
– Mon Apr 4, 3:26 pm ET

"Ban," rescued dog, in April 1, 2011 photo with his rescuers.
 TOKYO – A dog rescued from drifting ocean debris immediately jumped to her owner and wagged her tail at their reunion more than three weeks after Japan's tsunami.

Toshio Suzuki described Monday's reunion at the animal shelter he heads in the tsunami-wrecked Miyagi region of northern Japan. The owner of the 2-year-old mixed breed named Ban saw Friday's rescue on television.

The woman was not identified for privacy reasons. Suzuki said she has an adult daughter and that the family suffered tsunami damage but was not specific.

Public broadcaster NHK aired images of the reunion with the woman hugging Ban and the dog warmly wagging her tail.

A coast guard helicopter crew spotted Ban more than a mile (two kilometers) off the tsunami-hit town of Kesennuma in Miyagi. It wasn't known how long the dog had been at sea.

Suzuki says the shelter keeps 19 dogs and several cats separated from their owners after the March 11 tsunami.

National Geographic Wildlife Correspondence Mireya Mayor

Adventures of the 'female Indiana Jones'
March 31, 2011|
By A. Pawlowski, CNN

Photo credit.
 High above the jungle of Guyana, an explorer sat perched on a narrow ledge on the side of a mountain so ancient and mysterious that it's known as "the lost world."

One wrong move could mean a catastrophic fall, but the visitor was intent on staying for a bit. So a fragile tent went up, hanging by a single pin attached to the cliff wall of Mount Roraima.

Already jittery, the explorer couldn't sleep. Then a spider the size of a dinner plate showed up.

Welcome to a day in the life of Mireya Mayor, Ph.D.

In her treks around the world, she has discovered the world's smallest primate in Madagascar, swum with unusually aggressive sharks in Mexico and chased after giraffes in Namibia.

She's also drunk cow blood in Tanzania, shared a raw goat kidney with the Maasai warriors of Africa and ingested leaves to calm down an angry 400-pound silverback gorilla in Congo.

Mayor, 37, recounts her transformation from a sheltered Cuban-American "girlie-girl" growing up in Miami to a worldly animal expert in her new book, "Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey From NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer."

Her exploits have earned her the nickname "the female Indiana Jones," but the fashion-loving Mayor always packs an accessory Harrison Ford's character never would: a black dress -- "should an unforeseen occasion arise," she writes.

Mayor, who has two young daughters and is expecting twin girls in July, recently talked about her adventures with The following is an edited version of that interview.

CNN: What draws you to these remote, difficult, dangerous parts of the world?

Mireya Mayor: The animals. A lot of the places you just described, which are the remote oftentimes dangerous places, is where you find the most biodiversity, the rarest of animals that are on the verge of extinction and that we know very little about precisely because of their location.

So that's what draws me to it, not so much the danger. I'm not an adrenaline junkie.

CNN: You have all these different nicknames: the female Indiana Jones, the real-life Lara Croft, the female Steve Irwin. How do you feel about that?

Mayor: I don't have a problem with it.

I think that it's pretty clear by the names you just put out there that there aren't a lot of women who do what I do.

People need an image they can relate to and everyone knows Indiana Jones and Steve Irwin, and so I think by just attaching the word female in front of them, it lets people get an instant connection to what I do.

So that's OK. And actually, I'm in great company -- Steve Irwin and Indiana Jones. I can't complain.

CNN: What has been your favorite expedition so far?

Mayor: Probably spending time with the Western Lowland Gorillas in Congo and also just trekking across Tanzania while I was doing "Expedition Africa," which was a reality show where we retraced the steps of [Henry Morton] Stanley's search for [Dr. David] Livingstone. That was an unbelievable experience.

CNN: You fly on many different airlines in remote parts of the world. What's that like?

Mayor: Unpredictable, I suppose is the word that comes to mind. A lot of these flights get canceled the last minute for any reason -- they don't really need to give you one, things just happen. So you have to be willing to go with the flow and not have your heart too set on traveling any one day. You have to be able to go with it.

Other than that, I have found people to be really very friendly and the flights to be the same.

At some of these airports, you [might] see a chicken inside the airport or running on the tarmac with dogs and that sort of thing. Some of these places don't even have a landing strip. You have to be willing to sort of release your expectations of what you know and be open to the unexpected and exotic.

CNN: You survived a plane crash in the Congo. How did you ever get on a plane again after that?

Mayor: That wasn't so easy. I must admit that I started becoming a rather nervous flier, which I had never been. In fact, I was an extremely good traveler where I could just fall asleep in any position on any flight.

After that, my heart rate would definitely go up when I knew it was time to go catch a flight. But then you have to really think rationally about what the probability is of being in a plane crash. So I feel like if I survived that one, hopefully I beat those odds, it will never happen again.

CNN: Did you ever find out the cause of that crash?

Mayor: One reason we were given is that they actually ran out of gas. The truth is I don't think I'll ever know what happened. But that was one possibility.

CNN: You seem to encounter tarantulas a lot on your trips. What should a traveler do if they encounter a tarantula?

Mayor: It depends on the proximity to the tarantula, but normally you don't really need to do much. Tarantulas don't really want to hang out with humans so normally you just have to be aware that they're there and then not get any closer.

I haven't had a tarantula bite me, ever. Because they're big and hairy and just not cute looking, I think they get sort of a bad rap by just showing up. But they're not aggressive animals.

CNN: You wrote at one point that you actually played with them. How do you do that?

Mayor: I had one in South America, for example. I remember I had it sitting on my hand and then it started climbing up my arm and then it went on top of my head and the locals thought it was hilarious.

CNN: You keep going back to Madagascar. Why do you love it so much?

Mayor: For a traveler, it's a really, really beautiful place. For a biologist, it's really a dream come true because of all the amazing endemic species that are found nowhere else on the planet.

I find that the people are extremely warm and friendly and I just think it's such a lovely place.

CNN: When traveling in Guyana, you were struck by Kaieteur Falls, which you write are about five times higher than Niagara Falls and one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. What is it like to be there?

Mayor: The place is just -- I can't explain it in a word other than magical. And there is this allure to the edge of the falls that is also inexplicable. You just want to go as [close to the] tip of the edge of the falls as you can.

I think if we were anywhere else in the world, there would be ropes telling me to stand back but I think that's when it would lose that magic.

It's such a sight worth seeing, it's so beautiful and it's right on the jungle's edge.

It almost looks like you're on the edge of the Earth, really. Very, very pretty spot.

CNN: Do you ever enjoy traveling to industrialized places or do they bore you?

Mayor: Oh, no. I still like my comforts and I still think that traveling domestically can be a lot of fun, for sure. It doesn't just have to be expeditions. In fact, for me it's a nice break to do something more tame.

CNN: What are your favorite places to vacation when you have time off?

Mayor: I love being near the water. So anything Caribbean, like Turks & Caicos I absolutely love. I love Hawaii, I think Costa Rica is a fun mixture of both adventure and the beach.

CNN: Where would you like to go where you haven't been yet?

Mayor: I think I would have to say Antarctica or Alaska. I haven't been to the cold places yet.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring will be here soon, Spring will be here soon, Spring will be here soon...

Part of back yard - early May - forget what year.
After going through a hail storm today that I thought was going to bash in my front window for sure with its fierceness and having endured a seemingly endless series of rolling thunderstorms with the same crappy sub-normal temperatures for the past 3 days, I am really looking forward to Las Vegas in a few weeks!

Not to mention - shortly after our investment club meeting split up (about 10 minutes before the hail storm hit) - and with lightning all about and high winds thrashing my trees this way and that, the metal tent hooks that hold the trellis (see photo) anchored in the ground worked lose from the rain-saturated earth and it was in danger of blowing away.  I made a mad dash outdoors, righted the structure (it is relatively light because it is made out of vinyl plastic) and then frantically searched the ground for the pegs - found them and fortunately was able to pound them back in place with my shoed foot as I did not stop to take a hammer outdoors with me!  The ground was that wet.  So far, so good, the trellis has held and I hope the worst of the weather is over, but it doesn't look like it.  Sigh.

Guess what - this is the first time I booked a flight to LV on Southwest Airlines (they had the best fare the day I was shopping for fares) and what is in the headlines but that a Southwest Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing because a hole - yes, a hole, that was FIVE FRIGGING FEET LONG AND ONE FRIGGING FOOT WIDE - where do they get off calling this a "hole" - suddenly appeared in one side of the 737 as it was flying at 36,000 feet!

"Hole" in the Southwest jet provided by passenger Christine
Ziegler , shows an apparent [APPARENT?] hole in the cabin
on a Southwest Airlines  aircraft Friday, April 1, 2011
in Yuma, Ariz. Authorities say the flight from Phoenix to
Sacramento, Calif., was diverted to Yuma due to
rapid decompression in the plane.
 Okay, now all of you who are Twilight Zone graduates remember the pre-Captain Kirk episode of the Zone where William Shatner was the scared-to-death-to-fly passenger sitting in a window seat and he sees this brown furred creature dancing about on the wing of the jet who rips up the metal like it was nothing and then starts tampering with the electrical wires!  HORRORS!  I do believe that episode was called something like Terror at 36,000 Feet!

Well, except (maybe) for the dancing monster on the wings, that's exactly what happened at 36,000 feet on this flight a few days ago - TERROR.  Can you imagine sudden decompression at 36,000 feet and there - PLOP - is that oxygen mask thingy right in front of your horrified eyes -- and what the hell do you do with it, exactly, because no one bothers (except me) to listen to the flight attendants' schpiel about flight safety anymore...

I haven't read any reports about anyone not wearing their seatbelts being sucked through that "hole" - HOLE? EXCUSE ME - HOLE?  But these days I don't trust the press to come up with what actually happened anymore and I'll bet the government has tamped down more tightly on what REALLY happened to the passengers on that flight than on the fake moon landings.  Well, I don't believe the moon landings were fake but on the other hand - there are a hell of a lot of people who do and you know what, with the things I've seen and heard over the past few years, who the hell really knows anything anymore, unless you're right there front and center.  And those people aren't talking, evidently.

Which seems rather odd, doesn't it? 

Okay, so I'll be headed to Las Vegas on a Southwest flight.  I am putting my affairs in order...

Historic Costume Covered in Beetles' Wings Restored to Former Glory

It's not archaeology, per se, but it is a wonderful story about what conservators can do - in this case, restoring a costume worn by famous English actress Ellen Terry over a century ago that was garnished with 1,000 irridescent wings of the aptly-named jewel beetle.

I had no idea who the lady was in this iconic painting - now I know - it's Ellen Terry herself, in her hey-day!  She sure was a beautiful and striking woman.  And in this portrait, she's wearing the very dress that was so painstakingly conserved.

The Archaeology of a Dress
March 29, 2011

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth,
by John Singer Sargent
 [Excerpted] A Victorian dress decorated with 1,000 real beetle wings is set to go back on display following 1,300 hours of painstaking conservation work carried out by a team led by Zenzie Tinker.

A stage costume worn by Ellen Terry, one of the most celebrated and glamorous actresses of the Victorian age, has now returned home to Smallhythe Place in Kent – now a National Trust property.

The emerald and sea green gown, covered with the iridescent wings of the jewel beetle (which they shed naturally), was worn by Ellen when she thrilled audiences with her portrayal of Lady Macbeth at London’s Lyceum Theatre in 1888.

It was one of the most iconic and celebrated theatre costumes of the time, immortalised by the John Singer Sargent portrait now on display at the Tate Gallery.

At over 120 years old, the dress had seen many years of wear and tear and was subject to much alteration. It was structurally very weak and a shadow of its original self. Two years ago the intricate process of conserving it began.

For Zenzie and her team, the challenges of repairing and conserving the dress were considerable as it had already withstood enormous strain even within Terry’s lifetime as she even continued using it for appearances at village fetes and theatrical extravaganzas long after she retired.

The conservation team conducted a thorough scientific investigation, which included microscopic analysis of 70 tiny thread samples taken from the repaired seams. The results were then combined with evidence of deterioration and wear which were compared alongside the Sargent painting and contemporary photographs of Terry in the unaltered dress.

The conservators then went on to separate, repair and reunite pieces of the original dress from what is believed to be an amalgamation of two costumes, probably originally very similar in construction. This second costume was possibly a spare costume for the understudy or just a slightly different version for another scene in the play.

Conservation was complicated by the unusual construction of the dress which is hand crocheted and knitted from Bohemian yarn, described by the designer Alice Comyns-Carr as being, “ a twist of soft green silk and blue tinsel”. Conservators supported the now weak and stretching dress on a custom dyed nylon net after painstakingly repairing all the holes in the crochet using a re-crochet technique. They also focussed on restoring the original length and fullness to the elaborate sleeves.

Paul Meredith, House Manager, at Smallhythe Place, added: ‘We had collected the beetle wings that had fallen off over the years so that the conservator was able to re-attach many of the originals, plus others that had been donated to us – 1,000 in total. ‘The one hundred or so wings that were broken were each carefully repaired by supporting them on small pieces of Japanese tissue adhered with a mixture of wheat starch paste.’

Zenzie said: ‘We have restored the original shape of the elaborate sleeves and the long, trailing hem line that Ellen so admired. If she were alive today, I’m sure she’d be delighted. She really valued her costumes because she kept and reused them time and again. I’d like to think she’d see our contribution as part of the on-going history of the dress.’

The dress is now in a new display space which also features items from Ellen’s dressing room that have never been shown in public before.

National Geographic Weighs on on Ancient Trade of Turquoise for Cacao

Prior post.

Prehistoric Americans Traded Chocolate for Turquoise?
Chemical traces of cacao found at New Mexico site
Christine Dell'Amore
National Geographic News
Published March 29, 2011

A rare turquoise mosaic mask displayed at The Britrish Museum
on April 7, 2009 in London, England. The Aztec mask,
originally from Mexico will be one of the key exhibits to go on show
at the Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler exhibition.
Talk about a sweet deal—prehistoric peoples of Mesoamerica may have traded chocolate for gems from the U.S. Southwest, a new study suggests.
Traces of a chemical found in cacao—the main ingredient in chocolate—were found in several drinking vessels from various sites in Pueblo Bonito, a complex of sandstone "great houses" in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.

Ancestral Puebloan peoples built the complex, the epicenter of the ancient Chaco culture, in stages between A.D. 850 and 1150.

But cacao, a tropical fruit that grows in Central and South America, was cultivated in prehistoric times only in Mesoamerica, a region that stretches from Mexico to Costa Rica.

The findings suggest the New Mexico complex also served as a trading hub for Mesoamericans and Puebloans between the 11th and 14th centuries—and that the two groups had a "much tighter connection" than previously thought, said study leader Dorothy Washburn.

Visiting Mesoamericans may have bartered cacao beans for gems unique to the Southwest, such as turquoise, which is known to have been mined by Puebloans in what's now New Mexico. (Take a chocolate quiz.)

"We've erected this wall between the Southwest and Mesoamerica for the whole of prehistory, [when] it was just one area—the Americas," said Washburn, of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.

"This is just another way of seeing how these people interacted."

Ordinary People Also Drank Chocolate?

Archaeologists already knew that some trade existed between Mesoamericans and Southwest peoples. For instance, the remains of parrots and copper bells that originated in Mesoamerica have shown up in places such as Pueblo Bonito.

Scientists have also found remnants of turquoise in the ruins of the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá, located in present day Mexico, which has no turquoise deposits.

In 2009 archaeologists reported the discovery of the cacao chemical theobromine in vessel fragments near Pueblo Bonito—suggesting cacao had reached the Southwest.

This finding prompted Washburn and colleagues to test 75 vessels that had been used by both Chaco elites and farmers who lived near the complex.

Traditional methods of testing chemical residues require crushing or boiling vessel fragments. But study co-authors William Washburn and Petia Shipkova—both of Bristol-Myers Squibb in Princeton, New Jersey—were able to use a noninvasive technique that washed the insides of the vessels with water.

Shipkova tested this water with a highly sensitive instrument that can detect nanogram concentrations of theobromine.

The results showed that 50 of the 75 vessels had theobromine—including the commoners' vessels.

Finding the chemical in the farmers' vessels was "most unexpected," Dorothy Washburn said. "We were bowled over. ... That meant that a lot of people had access to [chocolate]."
John Henderson, a Mesoamerican expert at Cornell University who was not on the study team, was similarly struck by the idea of ordinary folks drinking chocolate, normally a beverage of the elite.

He suggested that the Chaco great houses may have put on huge feasts that would have allowed commoners to intermingle with elites.

Frothy Chocolate a Favorite Prehistoric Drink

Chocolate was almost always on the menu in Mesoamerica, where "any important social occasions included cacao," Henderson said.

When Spanish conquererors first encountered the 16th-century Aztec emperor Montezuma, they described a lavish banquet featuring more than 50 big jars of foam-topped liquid cacao, said Dorothy Washburn, whose study appeared in March in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The Puebloans would have probably made this crude form of chocolate much like the Mesoamericans—by taking the dried beans and mixing them with water and other substances, she added.

To make the bitter mixture palatable, people would have added in chili peppers, honey, or vanilla beans. For the finishing touch—a layer of foam—a preparer may have used a stirrer similar to an eggbeater to whip up a froth or might have poured the liquid from jar to jar.

There's a physical foundation for this ancient cacao obsession: Theobromine stimulates the heart and relaxes the airways, helping people breathe easier, co-author William Washburn noted.

This "invigorating" effect, he said, is part of the reason Mesoamericans would give cacao to soldiers to pump them up prior to battle.

Chocolate Chemical Not From Native Plants

After their initial experiments, the study team consulted native plant databases and concluded the theobromine found in the Chaco vessels did not come from another type of local plant, such as Ilex vomitora, a species of holly.

Cornell's Henderson said the team went to "extraordinary efforts" to rule out another explanation for the theobromine's presence.

The scientists overall were "very careful" with their scientific techniques, "so there isn't a chance that their surprising result is the case of contamination," he added.

Likewise, the theory that Southwest peoples traded turquoise for cacao also "seems plausible," although there's no direct evidence of such an exchange, Henderson said.

Indeed, without more chemical evidence that offers hard science, "the story is not told," Dorothy Washburn said. "We do not have the penultimate understanding of the [culture at] Chaco.

"That's what's exciting about it—there's lots more to do."

Hawass Is Back!

Well, to tell you the truth darlings, I didn't think he'd be able to stand being out of the spotlight as the head of Egyptian Antiquities for very long, especially with his Baby, the new antiquities museum being constructed facing the pyramids at Giza, coming online soon (Egyptian "soon," that is).  All smirks aside, I'm glad to see he's back in the saddle because he is passionate about Egypt's glorious history and I believe he is scrupulously honest and a man of integrity.  Misguided in some of his beliefs sometimes about what some of that stuff from the past means, but you know, he's an archaeologist - it's a hazard of the profession :)

Egypt antiquities chief becomes minister
(AFP) – 4 days ago

CAIRO — Egypt's chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass, the guardian of some of the world's most important treasures, was on Wednesday named minister of antiquities, the official MENA news agency reported.

Hawass had served as head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and later became minister of state under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Nationwide protests that erupted on January 25 overthrew Mubarak and saw power handed over to a military council.

Hawass's appointment is likely to anger pro-democracy activists who have been calling for the cabinet to purged of all old regime elements.

His nomination comes amid multiplying calls by the UN cultural agency to protect Egypt's heritage after reports of looting and theft during the unrest that followed the popular uprising.

UNESCO said on Tuesday that it would write to Egyptian authorities to officially ask for more protection for the country's archaeological sites. Earlier this month, the UN body voiced growing concern for such sites which it said were threatened by pillaging. Robbers raided several warehouses around the country, including one in the Egyptian Museum, after the uprising gave way to looting and insecurity.

An antiquities official said last week that 800 relics stolen by armed robbers from a warehouse east of Cairo were still missing.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

2011 European Individual Chess Championship

A great outing by the best female player and a long-time top player in the world, GM Judit Polgar of Hungary.  Judit finished in 3rd place overall with 8.5/11 and qualifies for the World Cup that will be held in August-September in Mansky-Kamsky.   Yes, I know, it's not really called that but that's what I call it - easier for me to remember and spell. 

For her efforts, Judit earned 11,000 euros and if I'm reading the regulations and the final standings correctly as posted at, Judit also earned a performance rating bonus of 700 euros and picks up 13.4 ELO points.  That would put her ELO up to 2699 - just one point shy of that 2700 "super GM" mark.  It would be great to see Judit back in the 2700s, where she used to be when she was playing full-time, before marriage and children came along.  That's difficult to juggle now, with two small children, even with a supportive husband and extended family to help with child care, etc. 

Here are the top finishers - there is some confusion as to who qualified for the World Cup - it seems it may  be the first 26 players, because some of the players included in that number have already qualified by other means, so the cut-off dropped down by 4 places.  It is also possible that player #27 qualified, so I am including him, too.

Final Ranking after 11 Rounds (393 players)

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 Rpwwew-weKrtg+/-
1GMPotkin VladimirRUS26538.5284963.578.028228.56.072.431024.3
2GMWojtaszek RadoslawPOL27118.5282663.077.028128.57.051.451014.5
3GMPolgar JuditHUN26868.5279963.577.027818.57.161.341013.4
4GMMoiseenko AlexanderUKR26738.5275562.074.527908.56.871.631016.3
5GMVallejo Pons FranciscoESP27078.0281966.580.0276487.180.82108.2
6GMRagger MarkusAUT26148.0278362.576.0276885.722.281022.8
7GMFeller SebastienFRA26578.0276658.570.5276386.461.541015.4
8GMSvidler PeterRUS27308.0275162.576.5275787.580.42104.2
9GMMamedov RaufAZE26678.0275161.074.0275486.761.241012.4
10GMVitiugov NikitaRUS27208.0274163.076.5274487.610.39103.9
11GMZhigalko SergeiBLR26808.0273259.572.0273187.250.75107.5
12GMJakovenko DmitryRUS27188.0271960.072.5270487.870.13101.3
13GMKorobov AntonUKR26478.0269761.575.0274086.661.341013.4
14GMInarkiev ErnestoRUS26748.0269560.072.5273587.150.85108.5
15GMPostny EvgenyISR25858.0263352.064.0267686.601.401014.0
16GMAzarov SergeiBLR26157.5277662.575.027237.55.791.711017.1
17GMKhairullin IldarRUS26347.5277161.574.527207.56.121.381013.8
18GMKobalia MikhailRUS26727.5275457.070.527167.56.800.70107.0
19GMGuliyev NamigAZE25227.5273959.571.026527.55.072.431024.3
GMZherebukh YaroslavUKR25607.5273959.071.527127.54.992.511025.1
GMRiazantsev AlexanderRUS26797.5272860.072.526877.57.300.20102.0
GMIordachescu ViorelMDA26267.5272562.076.027167.56.081.421014.2
GMLupulescu ConstantinROU26267.5272258.071.026777.56.620.88108.8
GMMcshane Luke JENG26837.5271859.072.526847.57.410.09100.9
25GMFridman DanielGER26617.5271756.569.026847.57.110.39103.9
GMMotylev AlexanderRUS26777.5271659.071.027107.56.960.54105.4
27GMIvanisevic IvanSRB26177.5271258.571.027047.56.091.411014.1

The other chess femmes did not fare as well in the standings. However, kudos to them for playing in this tough event. That's the way they'll sharpen their skills and get those ELOs to rise - they have to stay out of the women's ratings ghetto by only playing against lower rated women in women-only events. 

105IMDembo YelenaGRE24576.5254952.561.524645.54.111.391013.9
125IMJavakhishvili LelaGEO24376.0258655.065.5247253.351.651016.5
134IMMuzychuk AnnaSLO25286.0253757.068.5249766.09-0.0910-0.9
147IMHouska JovankaENG24196.0250850.561.5249164.971.031010.3
164GMCmilyte ViktorijaLTU25266.0244655.066.5245366.60-0.6010-6.0
167WGMCherednichenko SvetlanaUKR22786.0242746.057.0236064.761.241518.6
169GMZhukova NataliaUKR24436.0241648.558.0232955.53-0.5310-5.3
180WIMBoric ElenaBIH22926.0230243.053.0229365.890.11151.6
188IMMilliet SophieFRA23695.5250449.060.024755.53.971.531015.3
195WGMZawadzka JolantaPOL23865.5247951
253IMMelia SalomeGEO24625.0230751.562.5225257.03-2.0310-20.3
254WIMPavlidou EkateriniGRE22045.0230445.054.5223942.921.081516.2
257WIMDolzhykova KaterynaUKR22655.0228847.557.5226154.780.22153.3
265WGMPtacnikova LenkaISL23075.0225146.057.0225455.61-0.6115-9.1
297WFMCherednichenko ElenaUKR21414.5219344.054.021373.53.110.39155.8
302WGML'ami AlinaROU22974.5215845.056.521734.56.16-1.6615-24.9
304Klek Hanna-MarieGER21494.5214546.555.521564.54.65-0.1515-2.3
307WIMMakka IouliaGRE21194.5210344.053.521134.54.76-0.2615-3.9
315Boyard MarieLUX19764.5198140.548.519363.53.62-0.1215-1.8
324WIMSteil-Antoni FionaLUX21174.0215743.553.0212744.07-0.0715-1.0
337WFMOsmanodja FilizGER20554.0200640.048.5202344.65-0.6515-9.8
354Bismuth LeaFRA19463.5183238.047.017072.53.04-0.5415-8.1
376Lucheva VelislavaFRA03.0147530.038.516073
377Karsenty MadeleineFRA14153.0144631.537.5159000.71-0.7115-10.6
379Aubert LauraneFRA03.0132930.538.016101
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