Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 U.S. Chess Women's Chess Championship

Results R2:

1WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca1.02350FM Melekhina, Alisa0.523041-0
2WIM Zenyuk, Iryna0.52245IM Zatonskih, Anna0.524990-1
3WGM Baginskaite, Camilla0.02342IM Goletiani, Rusudan0.523671-0
4IM Krush, Irina0.02472WFM Abrahamyan, Tatev1.023261-0

Cross-table after R2:

Second Best Turnout Ever for Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII!

Whoopee!  Highest attendance ever was 107 players at Hales Corners Challenge IX.  Challenge XIII produced 102 players!

Three chess femmes (as far as I can tell from their names only) in the Open - results after R3:

Patrice Connelly IL 1574 1.0/3 (she's already won $40 for her win)
Rachel Ulrich IL 1462 1.0/3 (ditto)
Sandra Pahl WI 1380 1.0/3 (ditto)

(Added April 18, 2011:  Teja Karimikonda also played in the open and finished in 42nd place with 1.5.  And so, there were four ladies who played in the Open.  Outstanding!)

Total players in Open:  57.

Two chess femmes (as far as I can tell from their names only) in the Reserve - results after R3:

Susanna Ulrich IL 1229 2.0/3
Rebecca Mackey WI unr 0.0/3

Top female finishers in each section will have their entry fee paid for the next Challenge in the event they choose to enter. Stay tuned...

T-Mobile Rocks "Royal Wedding" Video!

This is awesome - love the "House of Love" music!

Interesting Horse Burials Uncovered in Hungary

Excerpted from, this article explains some of the ritual involved in Magyar horse burials.

Rich Old Hungarian grave could have belonged to prince
April 15, 2011
By Christopher Szabo.

Budapest - Rich grave finds from the Conquest Era of the Magyars or Hungarians have been uncovered by archaeologists in Pest Country, including ninth Century horse furniture and a belt, with a particularly rich sabretache, or pouch.

The “Gravediggers’ Journal” blog (in Hungarian, with good photos) says the initial dig took place April 5 to 8 after agricultural work overturned one of the graves. The “rescue dig”, followed when citizens called in the archaeologists of the Pest County Museums Management. Analysis of the finds and publication in archaeological journals will follow in due course.

The find is also covered by the English-language Medieval Hungary blog. This is the first significant archaeological find in Hungary since Old Magyar (700 A.D. – 1,000 A.D.) or Conquest Era graves, and a large number of Roman, Sarmatian and Bronze Age graves were found in February.

The Sarmatians were a semi-nomadic people who ruled the Ukrainian steppes and the Great Hungarian Plain from around the Fifth Century B.C. to A.D. 460. They were formidable enemies of the Romans and some formed part of the empire of Attila the Hun. They have also been linked to the Arthurian Legends because they invented heavy cavalry, using a lance called kontus.
(The “Conquest Era” refers to the time the Seven Magyar tribes entered and took the Carpathian Basin from 895-900 A.D. (some systems date it differently, including the first century of settlement, up to 1,000 A.D.)

Of the three newly-discovered graves, one had nothing with the remains; one was a “horse burial” of the type where only horse tack was buried with the body. In this case, the bit and stirrups were easily made out as well as other elements of horse furniture. The occupant of the grave was likely a warrior or hunter, as a quiver was found with the body.

The third grave contained typical materials of a mounted archer, including horse bones, the remains of horse tack and remains of archery equipment. These are typical of Magyar so-called “partial horse burials” which include the head and hooves of the horse. The reason for this is the meat of the horse was consumed during a wake or “tor”; the skin (including the head and hooves) would be placed over the grave mounted on a pole for a while and then buried, usually on a shelf or “padmaly”.

Warring States Tombs Uncovered in China

I found this article  very disturbing.  First, it doesn't say how these tombs were discovered.  From the photograph, it looks like the tomb or tombs are built out of timbers forming mausoleums that were above ground - not underneath it!  Second, what is the old man doing STANDING INSIDE THE TOMB?  I mean - this cannot be a professional archaeological dig because no archaeologist would EVER do that (except, maybe, Zahi Hawass) when it's clear as glass that there are still artifacts inside the tomb!  There are methods for working an excavation and this sure doesn't look like any method at all to me!  This looks to me like tomb robbery, not tomb excavation - and one of the thieves has got his picture in the local newspaper.  Geez!

Leather panels stitched together to form body armor.
The grave goods are impressive - that "armor" -- stitched together panels of leather - absolutely breathtaking and the large brass bowl the old man in the photograph is stealing would be worth a fortune on the antiquities market - and it looks to be in perfect condition. 

I wish I could see the bronze mirror.  I would like to know what other inscriptions or drawings were on its "back."  But only the intriguing clue "mountain" -- could this possibly be a reference to the great sacred mountain where resides the Mother Goddess Xi Wangmu (who in her archaic form was part woman, part tiger)?

Precious Relics Found in Ancient Tombs
Pub Date: 11-04-14 16:45 Source:
More treasures were found in two ancient tombs dated back to China's Warring States (475-221BC) in Lu'an, Anhui Province, as a well-preserved sword with exquisite workmanship, and a complete suit of leather-made armour were unearthed in the southern tomb, which suggest that the tomb master was probably a military officer with prominent status then.

If other clues, such as seal or epigraph are excavated in the tomb, combing with history records that are able to prove the master's identity can be found, the discovery of this ancient tomb is expected to be listed into national annual archaeological finds.

In the meantime, clearing work in the other tomb, a smaller one, which was believed to belong to the tomb master's wife, was done, with 120 articles of relics, including copper wares, painting wares and pottery wares.

Among which, a bronze mirror , decorated with designs similar to the Chinese character of "ɽ"(mountain) on the back, was deemed as a much-treasured relic.

Total 54 articles of relics were unearthed in the southern tomb yesterday.

(By Zha Xuan)

Friday, April 15, 2011

2011 U.S. Chess Championships Begin!

The first game was today.  I've made no bones about the fact that I think the format sucks, big time.  I believe it gives an advantage to the higher-rated players who are now basically just playing two separate mini-tournaments. It also leads to "strategic" draws rather than fighting chess.  Personally, I do not belief that this is the way to determine Championship titles. The U.S. Chess Championships, which are supposed to be the premiere and most prestigious events in the United States, have devoled into horrid "knock-out" tournaments. 

Nakamura bowed out of the Championship this year.  Gee, I wonder why?  I'm sure there's a credible excuse - prior commitment, blah blah :)  Good to see Kamsky back to defend his title, I wish him luck.  I think he's a player with a lot of heart, and I like him, even though he's lost a lot of hair.

I love this photograph of some of the male players from the pre-game gala.  GM Ray Robson (far left) has sprung up so much, ohmygoddess!  He is now a lanky young dude instead of the boy I remember from just a few years ago.  How quickly time flies.  GM Robson must drink a lot of milk, the way his bones have stretched out. Wow. Robson has totally outgrown his suit - he needs a new one!  I probably sound like his mother now, LOL!  I hope he wins big money and springs for a few really smoking hot suit coats!  By the way, that's GM Gata Kamsky, reigning U.S. Chess Champion, next to Robson.  IM Daniel Naroditsky and GM Yury Shulman round out the four players from left to right. This photo is by FM Mike Klein from the USCF website.  Naroditsky, along with Robson, is another exciting young U.S. player to watch. 

My focus is the Women's Championship, but I'm finding it incredibly difficult to drum up enthusiasm for this new chamionship format.  To my way of thinking, fans won't have to pay any attention to the early games, just to the final four - like watching the last minute of an NBA game. And - really - what kind of measure of relative playing strength does such a format provide?  Not much, I think.  Too much chance for results to be the result of "luck of the draw" instead of going head to head with every other player.
Susan Polgar posted coverage on the big pre-game gala that took place last night and the pairings for the first game.  Game 1 (Women):

IM Irina Krush – WIM Sabina Foisor
WFM Tatev Abrahamyan – WGM Camilla Baginskaite
IM Rusa Goletiani – WIM Iryna Zenyuk
IM Anna Zatonskih – FM Alisa Melekhina

So - who won?  Here's the cross-table:

The offical website where you can see live games, etc.

The 2011 U.S. Women's field: from left to right: Zenyuk - love the new look, Iryna!,
Foisor, Krush, Baginskaite, Zatonskih, Gouletani, Abrahamyan, Melekina.
Photo credit:  FM Mike Klein, from News at CCSCSL website.
Goddesschess is sponsoring its fifth prize in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship!  As posted previously, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, Women's World Chess Champion 2008-2010, has graciously agreed to select the winner of the 2011 Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award from among the players of the U.S. Women's Chess Championship.  Right now GM Kosteniuk is playing in an event (information from her chess blog):  Apr 11-26: Russian Club Champ Tuapse and is following the U.S. Championship action online. 

Who will the winner of the Goddesschess Fighting Chess Award be?  Foisor's win behind the black pieces against stalwart player Krush (who was the youngest player ever to win the U.S. Women's Chess Championship title when she was just 14) was a shocker, but Foisor has hung tough in her prior appearances at the U.S. Women's Chess Championship.  I have often felt that Foisor's results did not adequately reflect the effort she displayed on the board.  Is she this year's "sleeper?"  No way of knowing under this new format.

Tatev Abrahamyan, multiple winner of prior Goddesschess Fighting Chess Awards, also started off with a bang with a win against one of the most experienced players in the Championship, Camille Baginskaite, who has been on many U.S. Women's Chess Olympiad Teams and has an unsurpassed depth of playing experience. 

I'm no expert (that's for sure) but it seemes to me just eyeballing it that the other players eventually agreed to strategic draws, waiting to see what tomorrow brings.  Don't wait too long ladies to make your moves - thanks to this new playing format, you no longer have nine plus games to battle it out. 

How did the young'uns do in the Main Event?  In Group A, not a win in sight. Robson and Naroditsky drew their games, I have to give them credit, against higher rated and mucho-more experienced players.  In Group B, Shankland and Hess, the other two young guns, drew against each other.  GM Yasser Seirawan, a sentimental favorite of mine, defeated GM Alexander Shabalov.  Well well, seems the men's Mini-Event I may be more entertaining than I thought. 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  While everyone knows that the Scholastic Center and Chess Club of St. Louis is the primary sponsor (backed by Mr. and Mrs. Sinquefield, with other local power brokers), there are other sponsors for the U.S. Chess Championships.  It seems we all have been relegated to a "fantasy chess" page this year, where it doesn't appear a whole lot is going on - not even logos for the "other" sponsors. 

Here's a contest for you - can you find a link tonight on either uschesschamps website or the website for the St. Louis Chess Club to this fantasy chess site?  I couldn't - but then I'm just an old going blind broad, who needs to wear her glasses to pluck her eyebrows.  First one to email me (use the contact information, darlings) by midnight my time (sorry, I'm no help there, it's daylight savings time in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I'm located so I can't tell you what it is standard time), will win a Goddesschess tee shirt! 

Hints That All Languages Came from One Source

Aha!  The first book I read (years ago) on the origins of language and etymology, The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue, was by Dr. Merritt Ruhlen.  His premise is that all languages descended from one "Mother tongue" and I was totally caught up in his explanations and examples.  Ruhlen's work created a lot of controversy in the world of linguistics (to say the least).  Perhaps too suggestive of the "Tower of Babel" fable from Genesis in the Bible.  Personally, I have always thought the hypothesis behind the old fable made a lot of sense. Since the late 20th century science is on the track to proving that mankind sprang from a very small sample of anatomically modern human beings, and it makes sense that those human beings all spoke the same language and were very closely related.  Tower of Babel, anyone?

Now, a new researcher, in a new generation, has uncovered intriguing hints that may point to an original "Mother Tongue" origin of all languages.

From The New York Times
Phonetic Clues Hint Language Is Africa-Born
Published: April 14, 2011

A researcher analyzing the sounds in languages spoken around the world has detected an ancient signal that points to southern Africa as the place where modern human language originated.

The finding fits well with the evidence from fossil skulls and DNA that modern humans originated in Africa. It also implies, though does not prove, that modern language originated only once, an issue of considerable controversy among linguists.

The detection of such an ancient signal in language is surprising. Because words change so rapidly, many linguists think that languages cannot be traced very far back in time. The oldest language tree so far reconstructed, that of the Indo-European family, which includes English, goes back 9,000 years at most.

Quentin D. Atkinson, a biologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, has shattered this time barrier, if his claim is correct, by looking not at words but at phonemes — the consonants, vowels and tones that are the simplest elements of language. Dr. Atkinson, an expert at applying mathematical methods to linguistics, has found a simple but striking pattern in some 500 languages spoken throughout the world: A language area uses fewer phonemes the farther that early humans had to travel from Africa to reach it.

Some of the click-using languages of Africa have more than 100 phonemes, whereas Hawaiian, toward the far end of the human migration route out of Africa, has only 13. English has about 45 phonemes.

This pattern of decreasing diversity with distance, similar to the well-established decrease in genetic diversity with distance from Africa, implies that the origin of modern human language is in the region of southwestern Africa, Dr. Atkinson says in an article published on Thursday in the journal Science.

Language is at least 50,000 years old, the date that modern humans dispersed from Africa, and some experts say it is at least 100,000 years old. Dr. Atkinson, if his work is correct, is picking up a distant echo from this far back in time.

Linguists tend to dismiss any claims to have found traces of language older than 10,000 years, “but this paper comes closest to convincing me that this type of research is possible,” said Martin Haspelmath, a linguist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Dr. Atkinson is one of several biologists who have started applying to historical linguistics the sophisticated statistical methods developed for constructing genetic trees based on DNA sequences. These efforts have been regarded with suspicion by some linguists.

In 2003 Dr. Atkinson and Russell Gray, another biologist at the University of Auckland, reconstructed the tree of Indo-European languages with a DNA tree-drawing method called Bayesian phylogeny. The tree indicated that Indo-European was much older than historical linguists had estimated and hence favored the theory that the language family had diversified with the spread of agriculture some 10,000 years ago, not with a military invasion by steppe people some 6,000 years ago, the idea favored by most historical linguists.

“We’re uneasy about mathematical modeling that we don’t understand juxtaposed to philological modeling that we do understand,” Brian D. Joseph, a linguist at Ohio State University, said about the Indo-European tree. But he thinks that linguists may be more willing to accept Dr. Atkinson’s new article because it does not conflict with any established area of linguistic scholarship.

“I think we ought to take this seriously, although there are some who will dismiss it out of hand,” Dr. Joseph said.

Another linguist, Donald A. Ringe of the University of Pennsylvania, said, “It’s too early to tell if Atkinson’s idea is correct, but if so, it’s one of the most interesting articles in historical linguistics that I’ve seen in a decade.”

Dr. Atkinson’s finding fits with other evidence about the origins of language. The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert belong to one of the earliest branches of the genetic tree based on human mitochondrial DNA. Their languages belong to a family known as Khoisan and include many click sounds, which seem to be a very ancient feature of language. And they live in southern Africa, which Dr. Atkinson’s calculations point to as the origin of language. But whether Khoisan is closest to some ancestral form of language “is not something my method can speak to,” Dr. Atkinson said.

His study was prompted by a recent finding that the number of phonemes in a language increases with the number of people who speak it. This gave him the idea that phoneme diversity would increase as a population grew, but would fall again when a small group split off and migrated away from the parent group.

Such a continual budding process, which is the way the first modern humans expanded around the world, is known to produce what biologists call a serial founder effect. Each time a smaller group moves away, there is a reduction in its genetic diversity. The reduction in phonemic diversity over increasing distances from Africa, as seen by Dr. Atkinson, parallels the reduction in genetic diversity already recorded by biologists.

For either kind of reduction in diversity to occur, the population budding process must be rapid, or diversity will build up again. This implies that the human expansion out of Africa was very rapid at each stage. The acquisition of modern language, or the technology it made possible, may have prompted the expansion, Dr. Atkinson said.

“What’s so remarkable about this work is that it shows language doesn’t change all that fast — it retains a signal of its ancestry over tens of thousands of years,” said Mark Pagel, a biologist at the University of Reading in England who advised Dr. Atkinson.

Dr. Pagel sees language as central to human expansion across the globe.

“Language was our secret weapon, and as soon we got language we became a really dangerous species,” he said.

In the wake of modern human expansion, archaic human species like the Neanderthals were wiped out and large species of game, fossil evidence shows, fell into extinction on every continent shortly after the arrival of modern humans.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taxes - 2010 Edition!

OHMYGODDESS!  I swear it gets harder and harder each year, to fill out the required individual income tax returns required by the Federal and my state governments.  And each year, as it gets more difficult to understand the arcane language of the Tax Codes and the instructions for the required forms, while my income does not seem to get larger, my tax burden does. 

As I am not a billionaire, nor a millionaire, nor even a one hundred thousandaire, nor a fifty thousandaire, I just do not understand how this can be.  How can it possibly be that I, who earn less than the national "mean" income (that's not a pun, by the way), pay more and more taxes each year while a corporation like - say - General Electric (GE), that had NET INCOME IN EXCESS OF FIVE BILLION DOLLARS paid ZERO FEDERAL INCOME TAX and actually RECEIVED A FEDERAL INCOME TAX REFUND IN EXCESS OF TWO BILLION DOLLARS for fiscal 2010?

I am constantly being told that income taxes have been reduced.  Right.  Show me, exactly, where.  I, Ms. Nobody in Nowheresville, USA, keep paying out more and more of my modest income each year for Federal and state income taxes, and GE pays NOTHING.  Now darlings, is it just me, or is something very wrong with this picture? 

This morning, as I was frantically scrambling around trying to find my tax papers in order to put together my state income tax return (I filed my Federal income tax return on March 23), I suddenly discovered, in a shower of papers falling off the kitchen table -- GASP! -- that I had somehow not included the fact that I had installed a new energy-efficient qualifying gas furnace on December 13, 2010 (after my old furnace DIED of old age on one of the fricking coldest days of the year - of course), thus qualifying for a $958 credit.  I thought I was having a heart attack. Where the hell was that return?  Am I succumbing to Alzheimers disease?  Or just simple senile dementia?

I scrambled around trying to find that federal income tax return that I KNEW I had filed - and do you think I could find it?  Hell no!  I remembered (or thought I remembered) taking the draft and work papers into my office so I could type it up - but as it turned out, I ended up typing it up online and printing it out -- I do not trust filing online.  I signed it, copied it and mailed it out to the IRS.  I put my copy along with my work papers in a desk drawer... And I remember bringing those very same papers and copy home...

Anyway, after having scrambled around for over 30 precious early morning minutes trying to find my Federal return -- and failing, I had to run upstairs and get ready to go to work.  I didn't even have time for my one (and only one) morning cup of coffee.  To say I was upset is a gentle understatement.  It wasn't until 7:12 a.m., while putting mascara onto the eyelashes on my left eye that it occurred to me in a blinding flash of light that the tax return stuff I needed was in --

--  in a NEW but old canvas bag I'd rescued months ago from the office trash.  The bag was designed to hold a laptop computer and was roomy enough to old other stuff. It was one of those "give-aways" that are always available at high-priced seminars. Someone had thrown it into the garbage at the office months ago and, being Ms. Frugal, I'd fetched it from the trash and stashed it at the side of my desk, thinking I might one day be able to use it. 

About a week ago, as I was once again contemplating the demise of my much-loved Acer notebook (only 10 inches wide and able to fit in my regular purse) that had succumbed to the absolutely wicked and vile McCaffee flawed security update which, instead, totally wiped out its operating system while I was in Las Vegas last year (I still have its corpus, not willing to bury it as dead, despite a computer expert's best efforts to resurrect the little Acer notebook from its grave), I brought that canvas bag home, thinking that once properly cleaned out and laundered it would be perfect for holding my "new" cheapo Acer laptop (bought over Thanksgiving weekend at a really good price).

And so, - what was I thinking? - I stuffed my tax drafts and my copy of the filed Federal income tax return into it one evening -  and hauled it home.  Of course I would remember that my Federal income tax return and work papers were in it, as I would need them in order to do my state return.

Of course.

I placed the bag upright against the coffee table in my family room so I could see it from the dinette and thus would remember that it needed to be cleaned out and laundered so that I would be able to use it for my upcoming vacation to Las Vegas!

So, this morning, after I dashed downstairs, mascara wand still in hand, this morning -- there it was staring right at me -- the rescued canvas bag from the office. I looked inside and yanked out a sheath of papers.  Among them was - my tax crap, including the priceless copy of the filed Federal income tax return.

Darlings, needless to say, I have been TOTALLY out of fricking sorts all fricking day.  But at least I discovered those precious tax work papers, draft and the copy of my Federal return that I absolutely needed in order to put together my state income tax return tonight.

And I will be - someday soon (I hope), $958 richer courtesy of the U.S. federal government, to which I pay more than my fair share share of my gross income each year.

Something has gone terribly wrong in this country.  People who make multi-millions, and corporations that net billions, pay no income tax whatsoever, and yet I pay more than 20% of my gross income, but I sure don't take that gross income home to live on.  Nope.  There's federal income taxes, Medicare taxes, Social Security taxes, and state income taxes.  In addition, every month I pay excise taxes, sales taxes, "access charges", 911 fees, and miscellaneous fees and assessments on my utility bills that total several hundreds of dollars each year.  That does not include my real estate taxes and trash-hauling-fee taxes that I pay once a year (about an additional 10% of my income). 

Now, our new Nazi governor, Scott Walker, who says "no new taxes", has managed to give millions in tax cuts to his rich buddies while I will now have to pay a fee for state-mandated recycling that the Republican-controlled State Legislature and Senate wiped out funding to the municipalities, but did not wipe the mandatory recycling law off the books.  I expect it will be about another $400 to $500 a year added to my property tax bill of $4400.  Mind you, this is in addition to the mandatory fee of close to $500 I already pay for garbage pick-up that is conveniently added to my property tax bill.  Garbage pick-up does not include recycling pick-up. 

Gee, thanks, Scooter, for your "no tax increases" pledge.  You asshole. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII

There is still plenty of time to register for this all-in-one-day event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my hometown!  Check out the flyer for the particulars.  Worth 10 USCF Grand Prix points AND a Wisconsin Chess Association Tour event!

Goddesschess will pay the entry fee for the top female finishers in both the Open and Reserve sections for Challenge XIV, should they choose to enter.  Cash prizes for all females playing in the Open:  $40 for a win; $20 for a draw. 

Attendance records were smashed for Challenge IX two years ago, in April 2009, with 107 players!  The last two Challengex (XI and XII) each saw 78 players participate.  So far, so good!  There are 62 players pre-registered. Traditionally, there is a good walk-up turn-out on the day of the Challenge.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed and wishing for the best turn-out ever!

The playing venue is the Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel, 4747 South Howell Avenue, Milwaukee, WI (414) 481-8000 (mention chess rate $59).

Plan for a great day of chess, competition, and comraderie.  You can have your games analyzed in the skittles room by Life Master Sheldon Gelbart throughout the tournament! 

I'm the um, "mature" beauty :)  I look like I'm about to fall asleep
and those infamous "chipmunk cheeks" of mine are in full view.
Not the most flattering photo, especially next to the lovely Shira Evans
of  Computer Labs 4 Kids!  Oh well.  It was a long day and I was
exhausted for Game 4, which did not last very long.  I just wanted
 to go home.  I still did manage to whip up a gourmet meal when we
finally got there!  Note to self: never wear my hair short again.'
Ohmygoddess. Inside beats the heart of an 18 year old. 
 I will not, alas (cough cough), be able to repeat my performance from Challenge XII (zero wins, zero draws) at Challenge XIII.  I'd planned on it and had even drafted my sometimes significant other, Mr. Don, into coming to Milwaukee to suffer mutual humiliation with me; but after we received news that Shira Evans, my chess bud, was getting married, we changed our plans.  Shira also played in Challenge XII and did very well - it had been her first tournament in several years and she had a little rust but she won 2 of her 4 games against stronger players and finished at 50%.  She's currently listed in the USCF's active top 100 female chessplayers in the United States!  Hooray, Shira!

Next Women's Grand Prix Schedule Set by FIDE

Starting August, 2011 running through September, 2012:

1-15 August 2011, Rostov RUSSIA
1-15 September 2011, Shenzhen CHINA
8-23 October 2011, Nalchik RUSSIA
April 2012, Istanbul TURKEY
June 2012, Jermuk ARMENIA
September 2012, Kazan RUSSIA

Once again, unfortunately, Western Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Australia fail to cough up any money to sponsor a premiere chess event for women.

The prize money being offered is nice:
€60,000 (total)
In the case of any joint overall ranking, the respective accumulated prizes will also be split equally.
7. Prize Money and Grand Prix Points
7.1. The prize money which will be offered by host city organisers for each tournament is 50,000 Euros and is split 40,000 Euros as direct prize money for the tournament and 10,000 Euros towards an accumulated prize fund for the players at the end of the series:

7.3. Accumulated Prize Fund.
1st 15,000
2nd 10,000
3rd 8,000
4th 7,000
5th 6,000
6th 5,000
7th 4,000
8th 3,000
9th 2,000
€60,000 (total)
In the case of any joint overall ranking, the respective accumulated prizes will also be split equally.
9 prizes will be awarded from the minimum accumulated prize fund of €60,000 (Euros) as follows :

Overall Place Accumulated Prize (Euros)

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk has listed the following current qualifiers for this cycle at her chess blog:

01. Hou, Yifan (World Champion 2010)
02. Ruan, Lufei (finalist world championship 2010)
03. Koneru, Humpy (semi-finalist world championship 2010)
04. Zhao, Xue (semi-finalist world championship 2010)
05. Kosintseva, Tatiana (by rating)
06. Stefanova, Antoaneta (by rating)
07. Kosintseva, Nadezhda (by rating)
08. Muzychuk, Anna (by rating)
09. Lahno, Kateryna (by rating)
10. Cmilyte, Viktorija (by rating)
plus 6 nominees, one from the each organiser.

1st 15,000
2nd 10,000
3rd 8,000
4th 7,000
5th 6,000
6th 5,000
7th 4,000
8th 3,000
9th 2,000

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sorry I haven't been posting much

It's been HECTIC around here, to say the least.  We're in a big push at the office to get everyone taxes filed on time and/or get extensions signed and filed!  There are, literally, thousands of returns our Trust Department pushes out every year, and while I am not a member of that Department we share Estate/Probate/Trust Admin work responsibilities and this time of year everyone helps out whenever one can.  I've been typing so much at the office my fingers are about to fall off and I just don't have much get up and go left when I get home the past few weeks.

Add to that - things have really been hopping with my other sideline (besides all the chess stuff) at where I have five (yes FIVE) separate family trees going, including my own, which is the biggest and baddest of 'em all, Yeah Baby!  I'll take ancestry back on pater's side of the family to 1550 anytime, thank you all very much :)  Hell, back in 1975 I thought it would be a great thing if I could actually prove true my dad's story about one of my Grandma Newton's ancestors who fought in the Civil War taking a bit of an unauthorized leave to come home - just for awhile.  The CIVIL WAR, I thought.  Holy Cow Goddess! 

Well, I have proved that story to be TRUE!  And I discovered many Forsyth relatives (a very interesting group, I must say) who had sons who also fought in the Civil War. that's a big thing this week because of the 150th anniversary of that horrible episode in American HIStory.  Women would have never acted so stupidly.  Well, that's what happens when we let macho men rule the world.  Slaughter, innocents killed all over the place, useless loss of life while the officers were far back from the battle lines directing things like on a video game (where the director of the action never feels any real pain or loss), all for "principle."  Yeah, right. 

I have not been able to prove true by testimony or written documentation another old family story that members of the local Indian Tribe (I think it was probably the Potowatomi) came up to the back porch of the Jerome Forsyth homestead in Bay Settlement, Brown County, Wisconsin every morning during season begging for jam and bread because they loved the sweetness of the jam!  This would have been during the middling 1800's. 

Anyway, just this past week (fewer than 7 days, actually), I've been contacted by three different individuals who either are or may be related distantly to people in my various trees - and - well, it's been hectic.  And frustrating, because I just don't have the time right now to devote to these inquiries as they deserve to be responded to.  I'm getting ready for vacation, people!

Of course, the five pounds I laboriously managed to lose over the prior two weeks of eating salads and counting every single gram of fat, I somehow managed to regain over the course of last Saturday and Sunday.  @%#A*@+%@#!  How do I say that in French? 

People, if you have not been watching "Who Do You Think You Are?" on NBC on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. Central Standard Time, get with the program and tune it in!  Honestly, you're going to be sucked into the story lines of the celebrities who come on each week and trace a family member or two (or sometimes even three) backward through time. Watching that show may even get you itching to start digging around a bit in your own ancestry.  I encourage you to do so.  You will be amazed by the people you meet - who they were and what they did!  I know it sounds corny and if you watch the t.v. show (link above) you'll hear people say it over and over again - this has been a life-changing experience.  But you know what - it really has been! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

India: Rare copperplate inscriptions found in Ahmednagar

Published: Saturday, Apr 9, 2011, 15:37 IST
By Pallavi Kharade | Place: Pune

Two sets of rare copperplate inscriptions belonging to the Vakataka dynasty were discovered in Khandvi, in Ahmednagar district.

The artefacts have records about the grant regarding the Sahuli Village in Bhandara being donated by Vakataka ruler second Pravarsena in 442 AD. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute’s (Bori) assistant curator, Shreenand Bapat, gave the information during the PK Gode memorial lecture organised at the institute on Thursday. The ancient pieces were in the possession of farmers Bhagwanrao Vayase and Punajaram Vayase, and Popatrao Mergal for the past 10 years.

Bapat said, “Vakataka was a very powerful royal Indian dynasty that originated from Deccan in 275 to 500 AD. The copperplate is issued from the royal camp of Bharatwada in Nagpur district to a person named Kaluttakswami residing in Padmanagara. The original name of Sahuli is Chudubhunaka and it is situated on the right bank of the river Vainaganga. The rulers of the Vakataka dynasty which includes Pravarsena I, Rudrasena I, Prithivishena and Rudrasena II have been mentioned as predecessors of the donor king in the inscription. One also finds a reverent mention of Prabhavatigupta, mother of Pravarsena II, who was the daughter of Chandragupta Vikramaditya in the inscriptions.”

According to Bapat, the inscription has four plates put together with a ring and a royal seal. “The inscription measures 20.2 x 10.2 cm and weighs 1,719 grams. The grant is written in Sanskrit and inscribed in Brahmi script.”

MK Dhavalikar, who presided over the function, underlined the great contribution of Sanskrit scholar and archaeologist, VV Mirashi, in the study of Vakataka dynasty.
Not explained: how these priceless copperplates ended up in the possession of farmers Bhagwanrao Vayase and Punajaram Vayase, and Popatrao Mergal 10 years or so ago. Also not explained, how these artifacts have now come to light...

2011 European Senior Chess Championships

The tournament is taking place right now in what looks to be an absolutely gorgeous place in northern Italy, having started on April 4 and runs through April 14, 2011. There are two championships going on concurrently: regular and rapid chess.  Rapid chess titles have been concluded.  The women's champion title in the larger tournament will be decided among top finishers in the main event - no separate women's event held.  The prizes are modest but the titles are coveted.  Senior men have to be at least 60 to qualify; senior women at least 50 years of age.

Information from The Week in Chess:
11th European Senior (9 Rds Swiss Indiv TC:90m:30m+30spm(1)) - Games in PGN: Games | Live
ch-EUR Senior Rapid (9 Rds Swiss Indiv TC:25m+10spm

Current top standings -- there are 100 players in the Senior Championship and 35 players in the Senior Rapid Championship:

11th European Senior Courmayeur ITA Mon 4th Apr 2011 - Thu 14th Apr 2011
Leading Round 4 (of 9) Standings:
1Butnorius AlgimantasGMLTU23884.06.010.54
2Plachetka JanGMSVK23553.55.510.03
3Okhotnik VladimirIMFRA24583.55.010.53
4Mishuchkov Nikolai MFMRUS24083.55.09.03
5Kupreichik Viktor DGMBLR24313.54.59.53
6Gaprindashvili NonaGMGEO23623.54.59.03
7Strutinskaya Galina NWIMRUS22693.54.58.53
8Cebalo MisoGMCRO24863.53.57.53
9Rooze JanFMBEL23153.05.511.03
10Vikulov AlexanderFMRUS23163.05.011.03
11Suba MihaiGMROU24653.05.010.52
12Jackson Oliver AENG21863.05.08.53
13Lederman LeonIMISR22663.04.010.03
14Khmiadashvili TamarWGMGEO21943.04.09.53
15Hohler PeterFMSUI21443.04.09.03
16Estrada Martinez CesarESP21933.04.09.02
17Iudicello GiovanniITA21803.04.08.52
18Werner ClemensFMGER23533.04.08.03
Sinelnikov IgorRUS21903.04.08.03
20Tseitlin Mark DGMISR24203.04.07.53
21Rosino AntonioFMITA22333.04.07.52
22Gardi GiuseppeITA20613.04.07.03
23Chireykina NataliaRUS18313.03.58.03
24Gruzmann BorisFMRUS22813.03.58.02

ch-EUR Senior Rapid Courmayeur ITA Mon 4th Apr 2011 - Thu 14th Apr 2011
Leading Final Round 9 Standings:
1Kupreichik Viktor DGMBLR24316.541.052.05
2Mishuchkov Nikolai MFMRUS24086.540.051.05
3Cebalo MisoGMCRO24866.539.550.05
4Okhotnik VladimirIMFRA24586.536.546.56
5Timoscenko GennadijGMSVK25026.534.544.06
6Butnorius AlgimantasGMLTU23886.039.550.04
7Strutinskaya Galina NWIMRUS22695.537.547.54
8Gaprindashvili NonaGMGEO23625.536.045.53
9Lederman LeonIMISR22665.535.545.05
10Tseitlin Mark DGMISR24205.534.044.54
11Schultheis HeinzGER20585.533.543.04

Madame Nona still has what it takes, with a very good result in the rapid championship, finishing in 8th place.  Kudos to top female finisher WIM Strutinskaya in that event. 

Both chess femmes are neck and neck in the larger tournament, sitting in 6th and 7th places with 3.5/4. 

For their final standings in the Rapid Chamionship, Strutinskaya earned 150 Euros and Nona earned 100 Euros. 

Chinese Championships 2011

This year GM Hou Yifan, the reigning women's world chess champion who won her title in December, 2010, is competing in the Championship (not the Women's Championship, which is a separate event).  So far, so good for Hou, who is holding her own against some tough male competition.  Good for her, glad to see it.  Hou was not able to pull a Polgar and finish in the top three (as GM Judit Polgar did in the recently-concluded European Individual Chess Championship), but her 5th place finish is VERY creditable given the competition.

Hou's women's champion title will be put on the line later this year, presumably (has a sponor been found for the Women's Championship Match???), in a match with GM Koneru Humpy, who won the right to challenge earlier this year by her finish in the Women's Grand Prix events.  Koneru is ordinarily a formidable opponent but for some reason she seems to have developed a bad case of the chess yips when playing Hou.  Will she be able to over come the yips and play the kind of chess I know she's capable of?  Stay tuned.

Here are the final standings in the Chinese Chess Championships courtesy of The Week in Chess:

ch-CHN 2011 Xinghua Jiangsu (CHN), 30 iii-10 iv 2011cat. XV (2609)
1.Ding, LirengCHN2637*1½½½1½1111192868
2.Ni, HuagCHN26460*½11½10110172707
3.Zhou, JianchaogCHN2660½½*½½½10½11172706
4.Zhao, JungCHN2580½0½*½0½1111172713
5.Hou, YifangCHN2602½0½½*½1½½½1½62645
6.Wang, YuegCHN27340½½1½*0½0½112597
7.Yu, YangyigCHN2652½00½01*½½½112604
8.Li, Chao bgCHN26460110½½½*½00152569
9.Bu, XiangzhigCHN267700½0½1½½*01152566
10.Xiu, DeshunCHN25080000½½½11*½½2552
11.Li, ShilonggCHN2520010000010½*12483
12.Zhang, ZiyangmCHN24420000½0000½0*12240

I am shocked to see Wang Yue and Bu Xiangzhi, seasoned veterans on the international circuit, in such lowly positions!  And Ding Liren (who?) with a performance rating of over 2800.  Wow.  Who is this dude? 

On the women's side of the table, here are their final standings:

ch-CHN w 2011 Xinghua Jiangsu (CHN), 30 iii-10 iv 2011cat. VI (2382)
1.Zhang, XiaowenwgCHN2344*1½½1½11½½112596
2.Zhao, XuegCHN24950*½1111011½182547
3.Wang, JueCHN2275½½*½001½11½12457
4.Wang, Yu A.mCHN2398½0½*½½0½11112446
5.Tan, ZhongyiwgCHN2428001½*01½½1112443
6.Ju, WenjunwgCHN2519½01½1*0½½01162406
7.Guo, QiCHN2331000101*1½1½162423
8.Huang, QianwgCHN239401½½½½0*½1½052345
9.Shen, YangwgCHN2443½000½½½½*0112311
10.Gu, XiaobingwgCHN2369½00001001*½142281
11.Ding, YixinwgCHN23760½½000½½0½*12250
12.Xu, TongwmCHN221700000001000*12014

Looks like Wang Ju (finished in 3rd place) is ready for prime time, and Xu Tong (finished in 12th place) is not.  I wonder if Ju Wenjun and Shen Yang will be demoted now?  I would have expected either of them to win.  It will be interesting to see what the Chinese authorities do. 

Holy Goddess! Stormy Weather On The Way!

Friday I went to work in my light winter jacket, felt beret and gloves.  I slept with an extra light-weight down throw on my bed Friday night. 

Semi-cleaned up area, back yard looking south.
 Yesterday it was mostly cloudy but the temperature got into the 50's and I worked outdoors for about 3 hours, starting the arduous task of spring clean-up!  My yard is a disaster area, to put it bluntly.  Now I'm seriously thinking about hiring someone to come in and do the clean-up because it will take me until July if I try to do it myself!  I filled up one of my big yard waste containers and I've barely dented the yard.  Most of my work yesterday was spent sweeping the deck clean yet again of nut shells and starting the arduous task of raking up a winter's worth of nut shell accumulation from feeding my critters. I also tackled a couple of the flower beds but I won't kid you - they need more work! I worked outdoors with a sweatshirt with long-sleeved top underneath. I didn't break a sweat.  Last night I once again slept with the down throw on my bed.

Looking north - not yet touched with rake.  Sigh.
 This morning my windows were fogged over!  I knew what that meant.  Sometime during the night a warm front came through and it was now warmer and more humid outside than inside the house (which I keep at 64 degrees during the winter - still have the heat on by the way because it's been dropping into the 40's and sometimes the 30's at night despite it being "spring."  Often "spring" doesn't come to Wisconsin until June.)  I opened up the patio door and wooooosh, in rushed a flow of warm, wet air.  It was so wet outside, everything had a film of moisture on it.  It look like it had rained out - except it hadn't!  It was WARM out there, and no breeze to speak of.  Wow - what a change!

It was mostly cloudy when I got up, but every now and then the sun would peak out and when it did, the temperature zoomed upward substantially.  I made the mistake of wearing a sweatshirt and jeans with my tennies and socks to my walk to the supermarket at 9 a.m.  Forty minutes later I'm huffing and puffing up the hill back home lugging two heavy bags of groceries with sweat dripping off my eyebrows and running down between my breast.  Yech! 

Looking southwest off the deck - most of the yard not yet
touched.  I've got to clip that peony - new growth is popping
up and last year's stems are still there, eek!  Yesterday
I did re-level the concrete birdbath seen in the distance.
It had been tilted all winter and was driving me nuts!
Severe weather is being predicted, and frankly, given the level of humidity in the air and the instability in the air mass (there is a 20 degree temperature differential between what it's like at the airport, which is on Lake Michigan, and my house, about 8 miles due west!)  I'm preparing for tornado warnings - already got the basement set up and - TA DA - I have flashlights with working batteries!!!

But right now I'm airing out the house and it feels great, even if it is damp.  It's wonderful to be sitting here in a tee shirt and shorts typing away with the patio screen door open and windows (with freshly cleaned screens) wide open in the rest of the house, even if it's only for one day.  Back to "normal" tomorrow, which means, if we're lucky, temperatures in the 50's.  For now, if I had some shampoo at hand I could wash my hair without approaching the shower, my hair got that wet with sweat on the walk back from the supermarket.  Wow!  Right now it's just brushed up into a bun with a giant clippy to get it out of my way as I work.  There is now a breeze coming through the patio door screen, feels good! 

Meanwhile, the birds are going absolutely bonkers outside!  Mating season is in full force and with the warm weather and the patio door open, I'm hearing mating calls and songs I've never had much opportunity to hear before.  It's awe-inspiring, actually, to see all this male showcasing going on as they compete to attract mates.  Guess the dudes in India and China will learn about this soon enough for themselves, given their countries' cock-eyed male/female ratios due to bias against girl children and rampant aborting of female fetuses and female infanticide where abortions aren't available.  Let's see, in China I believe the ratio is something like 100 females for every 121 males.  Hmmmmm....  And that's just numbers-crunching.  That doesn't even begin to tell the full story of how many of those female would be considered "desirable" -- although I suspect the definition of "desirable" will be greatly broadened over the ensuing years...  Some females (as well as males) just won't be marriageable (or shouldn't be considered marriageable) because of disabilities, for instance.  Well, it will be interesting to see what happens in both India and China over the next 30 years, during which I hope to be very much alive and observing.
Lots to do yet, lots to do.  Looking west by northwest from the deck. It's hard to believe that in just a few
more weeks the grass will be green and the trees will be leafing out!  The daylilies are popping up, as
are the Swedish daisies, the catnip, and the fox glove.
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