Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

Somehow I missed R4 - ah, I know, I was going crazy last night trying to get Sis' and Michelle's family tree done!

R5 standings:

1IM Krush, Irina2472x0  1 1 1  1 4.0
2WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca23501 x ½  0 1 1 3.5
3WGM Baginskaite, Camilla2342  x0 ½ 1 1 1 3.5
4WFM Abrahamyan, Tatev23260 ½ 1 x1 1   3.5
5IM Zatonskih, Anna24990  ½ 0 x 1 ½ 2.0
6IM Goletiani, Rusudan23670 1 0 0  x½  1.5
7WIM Zenyuk, Iryna2245 0 0  0 ½ x1 1.5
8FM Melekhina, Alisa23040 0 0  ½  0 x0.5

Generated by Swiss Master for Windows on 19-04-2011 at 19:12

Krush defeated Zatonskih today to move into the lead.  Foisor lost to Goletiani.  Not the way to keep pace for one of four spots to go into the women's "final".  Step up your game, girl.  Melekhina is having a horrid tournament.  Is she just out of form or is she not feeling well?  I know she's a better player than this record is showing.  Tatev is being - Tatev.  She always seems to be teetering on the brink and then she somehow manages to come through.  I would like to see her make it through to the "final."

Got to go - Mr. Don just called, he's downstairs, lost at the Concierge desk.  LOL!

Here were the rankings after R4:

Ranking after round 4 (Tuesday, 19 April 2011)

1WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca3.5F23502673+1.4411½1
2IM Krush, Irina3.0F24722579+0.530111
3WGM Baginskaite, Camilla2.5F23422469+0.6701½1
4WFM Abrahamyan, Tatev2.5F23262478+0.8110½1
5IM Zatonskih, Anna2.0F24992341-0.81½1½0
6WIM Zenyuk, Iryna1.5F22452293+0.20½010
7IM Goletiani, Rusudan0.5F23672024-1.62½000
8FM Melekhina, Alisa0.5F23042037-1.22½000

Generated by Swiss Master for Windows on 19-04-2011 at 19:12

We're Here in Sunny Las Vegas!

Whew - finally!  Flight went smoothly except for some turbulence here and there, nothing that was nerve-rattling, thank goddess!  I left behind about 34 degrees and sleety/snowy/rainy yechy when the cab came at 9:30 this morning.  Arrived in mostly sunny skies and 80 degrees in LV and am still in the process of cooling down my hotel room!  What a change - from turning down my heat this morning to 60 at the house and turning on the AC in this room!

After what seemed an unusual amount of frustrations I finally got the WIFI going and paid for three days access.  Well, it's a cheap hotel but excellent location on the Strip, so I don't mind paying for WIFI access.  Wish the air conditioning unit was a little less noisy, but then, it does tend to drown out the sounds of partying and , er, other activities on either side of me when Vegas really gets going about 2 in the morning, if you know what I mean. 

As you can tell since I'm writing this, the Southwest Airlines jet that brought me here did not lose it's roof at 38,000 feet!  It was a full flight - at the most there were like 2 seats left over.  Wow!  For a shitty economy people from Milwaukee sure are still piling into Vegas.  Flight arrived right on time and the shuttle ride actually took less than an hour!  Amazing, absolutely amazing.  I'm waiting for Mr. Don to get here from where he's staying (Riviera) which is not that far from me as the crow flies but in Las Vegas there is no such thing as a straight line for pedestrians :)  He suggested I head out and meet him half way but, knowing our hopeless senses of direction we'd miss each other by 10 feet and be wandering around all night trying to find each other and missing messages at our hotels. We are both dinosaurs - no cell phones!  I hate the fricking things, truth be told.  Before, at least I would have relatively peaceful and quite rides on the bus - but NOW, I am subjected to the most stupid drivel and most intimate secrets of strangers that - trust me - I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW.  Have people no shame?  Geez! 

The weather promises to be beautiful while we're here, except perhaps windy tomorrow and Thursday.  Sure beats what I left behind in Milwaukee!

Now, about that family tree I put together for 'Sis and Michelle - whew!  I STILL haven't finished the monster.  Well, it's my own darn fault.  Instead of steadily working on print-outs, hole punching and organizing the stuff in this gigantic binder I bought, I kept digging for further information.  So, there I was last night and it was midnight and I'm going - I'm never going to finish this!  I solved that problem by hole punching everything and just throwing it into my bag along with the huge binder already stuffed full of family information.  At least I fell asleep for a few hours, I was that tired when I finally hit the sack.  When I travel I don't sleep well the night before - and this morning I knew my blood pressure was abnormally high, even after taking my medication.  Drat!  But things seem back to normal now, thank goddess!  Later I'll finish sorting through the stuff that didn't make it into the binder and get it where it belongs.

I never realized how heavy this laptop is!  I mean, at the most it's like 3 or 4 pounds (it's not an uber-expensive uber-thin model) and this morning going to the airport, no problem lugging it along in a Land's End bag.  But for some reason when I got off the plane earlier this afternoon suddenly I swear the thing weighs a ton!  Now I have to find a hiding place for it in my hotel room - good luck with that, LOL! 

I'll see if I can get a few blogs in before Mr. Don arrives.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peruvian Textile Remnants Confirm Occupation at Least 12,000 Years Ago

Past Horizons has an excellent presentation on the recent dating of textile remnants recovered from the Guitarrero Cave high in the Andes Mountains 30 years ago!  Although other artifacts also recovered from the cave dated to about 12,000 years ago, it wasn't certain how old, exactly, the textile remnants were.  Now - applying the newest tecnological advances in dating delicate objects - we have an answer.

12,000 Year Old Textiles Found in Peruvian Cave
April 17, 2011

“By dating the textiles themselves, we were able to confirm their antiquity and refine the timing of the early occupation of the Andes highlands,” Jolie said. His team used the latest radiocarbon dating technique—accelerated mass spectrometry—to place the textiles at between 12,100 and 11,080 years old.

You can see from the woven fabric remnants the "checkerboard" pattern innate within the ancient weave technique. 

2011 U.S. Chess Championships

Young buck Sam Shankland has lept to the top of the pack in the B Group in the Championship.  For a dude who last year swore up and down he was quitting chess, that's pretty darn good.  LOL!  Good for you, Sam Shankland, keep up the good chess.  He's a cutie and he has a lot of passion for the game, always a good combination in my eyes :)

Larry Christiansen (wily veteran) and Robert Hess (another young buck) are behind him with 2.0 each.

In the A Group, Kamsky, Shulman, and Ivanov (all wily veterans) are on 2.0 each. 

Women's cross-table after R3:

I'm still not clear on what's going on with this event.  At this point, I know there is another round tomorrow for the ladies (the men, too).  After that, I don't know! 

Another Newton Family Beauty :)))

Meet Milena, the youngest edition to the Newton family via my nephew Ken and his wife Osayo.  She is seven months old and my sister (Grandma Debbie) is absolutely doting on her, her first grandchild.  She's gorgeous and you've got to love those two little teethies showing!  Ah, those big brown eyes, those chipmunk cheeks.  That brown hair, that little itty bitty chin.  Hmmmm, she could be mine, come to think of it...

So, this makes me a -- grand-aunrtie?  A great-auntie?  I don't know what the difference is, but I'm one several times over! 

Zahi Hawass Sentenced to One Year in Prison!

Unbelievable!  It's like - every time I open up my email something totally disfunctional is coming out of Egypt.  Egypt, oh Egypt.

Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass sentenced to one year in jail
Zahi Hawass was sentenced to one year in jail Sunday for declining to fulfill a court ruling
Hatem Maher , Sunday 17 Apr 2011

Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass has been sentenced to one year in jail on Sunday for refusing to fulfill a court ruling over a land dispute.

The Egyptian criminal court also said Hawass must be relieved of his governmental duties and ordered him to pay a LE1000 penalty.

Hawass failed to adhere to a ruling in favour of his opponent over a land dispute when he was in charge of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

The SCA appealed the court ruling, arguing that the land includes monuments and therefore should be treated as government-owned land.

Hawass was recently re-appointed as antiquities chief in the newly-formed cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII - Final Update!

The final results/standings have been posted at the USCF website.  Final tally of players:  105!  This is just two players short of the highest-ever registration in Challenge IX in April, 2009.  Several photographs from Challenge XIII have been posted at the Southwest Chess Club's blog. Goddesschess' heartfelt thanks to Southwest Chess Club for once again putting on a fine event and congratulations to all of the winners.

There was a four-way tie for first place in the Open:

I hope I did not miss any chess femmes - here are the ones I have for the Open:
42 | TEJA KARIMIKONDA               |1.5  |L  24|D  20|L  43|B   0|
   WI | 14212197 / R: 1108  - 1138 
      |            Q:  882   - 921
  48 | PATRICE B CONNELLY             |1.0  |L  45|L  34|W  57|L  28|
   IL | 12728968 / R: 1587  - 1564
      |            Q: 1181  - 1203
 50 | RACHEL J ULRICH                |1.0  |W  56|L  16|L  26|L  29|
   IL | 13384485 / R: 1493  - 1508
      |            Q: 1440  - 1449
  53 | SANDRA R PAHL                  |1.0  |L  40|W  56|L  11|L  30|
   WI | 10318033 / R: 1349   ->1381
      |            Q: 1258  - 1281

Each win by a woman in the Open won $40 and each draw won $20 from Goddesschess. In addition, should the top female scorer choose to enter Challenge XIV, Goddesschess will pay her entry fee.

Reserve Section:

The ladies:

  8 | SUSANNA G ULRICH               |3.0  |W  38|L  19|W  20|W  21|
   IL | 13498414 / R: 1234  - 1361
      |            Q: 1059  - 1227 
48 | REBECCA RHEA MACKEY            |0.0  |L  17|L  42|L  39|L  44|
   WI | 14563835 / R:  363P7 - 351P11
      |            Q:  346P7 - 186P11

If she chooses to enter Challenge XIV, Goddesschess will pay Ms. Susana Ulrich's entry fee as her prize for finishing as top female scorer in the Reserve Section.

Congratulations to the ladies!  You go girls! 

The Texas Tech Night Raiders Win the Final Four of Chess

This is just an outstanding achievement by this young team.  The first part of the championship occurred in my hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the end of December, 2010.  Although I was unable to attend any of the games (December is crunch time in estate and tax planning), it was my pleasure to provide several gift baskets of Wisconsin goodies for the Texas Tech contingent.  Texas Tech's "A" Team made it into the final four, and Texas Tech's other two teams placed well in the overall competition.  Maybe fueling up on fresh  Wisconsin cheese, sausage, chocolates and assorted other goodies did the trick :)

Kudos to GM Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, who took over the coaching program at Texas Tech University in 2007 in conjunction with the establishment of the Susan Polgar Institute of Chess Excellence (SPICE) which, since it's founding, has specialized in hosting some of the highest-rated invitational tournaments in the history of the United States as well as hosting invitationals designed to give young American players changes to win important IM and GM norms.  This is not the easiest thing to do, as most American tournaments do not meet the many technical requirements necessary for players to score "norms" as set forth in regulations by FIDE (the international chess federation).  In addition to introducing the SPICE Cup as well as the SPICE Invitationals in the spring and fall, Polgar and team have taken the Texas Tech chess program from yawn to WOW in a just a few short years.  Outstanding, and my heartfelt congratulations to Polgar, Truong, Dr. Karlsson and the Texas Tech Chess Team.

Interview (in full) from Susan Polgar's chess blog:

The golden coaches of the Knight Raiders about the Final Four success
Susan Polgar and Paul Truong in a large interview

The Knight Riders were successful at this year's Final Four. The team led by Susan Polgar and Paul Truong managed to win a title in what can be viewed as the Final Four with largest mass media coverage.

After the success, coaches Polgar and Truong gave an extensive interview to Dr. Hal Karlsson, Associate Professor of GeoSciences at Texas Tech University.

Dr. Hal Karlsson: Susan and Paul, first of all, congratulations! This Final Four victory is simply fantastic and quite unexpected. How did it happen?
Susan Polgar: Thank you. I think the team did great, and even though we were the lowest seed, as a team, we believed that we could win. I also think we were more unified and working together more as a team than our competitors. I’m very proud of our guys that they gave their all.

Paul Truong: It is a good feeling for the entire team because they’ve worked very, very hard to be able to accomplish this. As Susan said, they gave it their all and they deserve it.

SP: They were also fearless. They were not intimidated facing much stronger opponents, even ones they had bad records against in the past. In the first round, Grandmaster Timur Gareev of UTB, the highest rated player in Texas, offered our top board, Grandmaster Anatoly Bykhovsky, a draw in a very complicated position. Bykhovsky just lost to Gareev in an earlier encounter in Berkeley. Even with that in mind, Bykhovksy refused the draw offer against a much higher rated opponent and went all out for the win.

In the critical final round, a similar thing happened. Grandmaster Leonid Kritz of the defending champion UMBC, the highest rated player of the entire Final Four, offered our team captain Grandmaster Davorin Kuljasevic a draw with the white pieces. In the same matchup last year's Final Four, Kuljasevic lost to Kritz. Just as Bykhovsky, Kuljasevic refused the draw offer and went all out for the win. Both of them succeeded and they gave our team two vital points toward the national title. As their coach, I could not be more proud of this.

HK: Clearly all the teams must prepared very hard for the Final Four given what was at stake here. But what accounted for Texas Tech's success. What was the secret?
PT: I believe the secret is quite easy. We simply worked harder. We not only studied the games of our opponents just as everyone else, but we also study our opponents' demeanor, body language, movement, facial expression, pattern of thinking and decision making, etc. We dissected every inch of every possible aspect of the game. We put countless hours into the preparation. Even after our players were asleep, Susan spent hours double checking all the analysis to make sure there was no error. We were lucky to even get a few hours of sleep.

It does not mean that we will succeed every time. It just means that we will put our team in the best possible position to win. We had a similar approach when Susan and I ran the 2004 U.S. Women's Olympiad program which brought home the first four ever Chess Olympiad medals (2 gold and 2 silver) for the United States. If you want to win, you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else. No one will just hand the title to you. If you want it, you have to get it.

Another thing we did different than other teams is our approach before the start of the Final Four. The team arrived in Washington, D.C. very late Thursday night. We had Friday free until about 6 p.m. Other teams stayed in the hotel to do some last minute preparation. Being a world class competitor herself, Susan realized that the players were under tremendous pressure. So she decided to give them two choices:

1. To stay in the hotel like other teams to cramp in last minute preparation. 2. Go for a tour in Washington, D.C. to relax, stay fresh, and build further team chemistry.

The players voted to go to D.C. So we spent the day on the famous Double Decker bus tour to visit the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, and other landmarks. The players had plenty of good times and good laughs. It worked out great. But if it did not work as planned, I am sure others would be quick to criticize her decision. But as a coach, you need to make tough decisions.

HK: That is impressive. But Susan also accomplished something else in this Final Four.
PT: Yes. Last year, Susan became the first female head coach to take a men’s division I team to the Final Four. This year, she is the first female to take a men's division I team all the way. You cannot even imagine, let’s say, a female coaching a men’s basketball team or men’s football team to the national title, but in chess, she showed that it can happen.

And the success was not only in division I. In just in the past two years, the Knight Raiders also won the national division II, III, and IV titles, in additional to many other individual honors. This is simply another gender barrier that she was able to break. What is even more amazing is this is only our second year competing in division I.

UTD and UMBC have been ruling the collegiate chess world for the past decade. For us to catch up with them on this level, this fast, was pretty amazing. I am sure the competition will be a lot tougher next year as all the schools will try to improve their rosters.

Susan now has done it all. She won Olympiad gold, five of them. She won the Women's World Championship Triple-Crown (Rapid, Blitz, and Classical). Her students have won National Scholastic Championships and now Collegiate Championships. But don't worry, she'll find more barriers to break, I am sure.

HK: Was there any particular player who stood out for Texas Tech in this Final Four?
SP: No. It was total team work. They fought hard as a unit and a different player came through for us in each round. It was Bykhovsky in the first round, Sipos in the second, Kuljasevic in the final round. Diamant was solid all the way through. And Aleskerov, as a reserve player, was the biggest cheerleader for his teammates the whole time. Just like the famous song by Sister Sledge, "We Are Family", the Texas Tech Knight Raider family.

HK: I saw the Final Four chess boards the Knight Raiders were holding up. Those look unique. Did you make those and how can one get one of them?
SP: Those are very special Final Four commemorative boards. They are not for sale. Only twenty of them were done and they were made by our friends at GLOSgames.com. This is an American company out of Kansas City, Missouri. They have done a lot of good things to promote chess and bring kids into the game. When I told them about Final Four, they immediately designed and produced these twenty special boards to give out to each of the four teams and the sponsor, Booz Allen Hamilton. They also sponsored other scholastic events of mine in the past. It is a good company and good people and I am proud that they support chess and the Knight Raiders. You cannot buy these boards but you can design your own chess board with them or use one of their over 110,000 designs.

HK: That is pretty neat. So what is the next step? A long celebration or vacation? I understand the team is going to Vegas (not Disney World like football players). What was that all about?
SP: There is no time to rest. Winning it is hard. But defending it is even harder. We already started to prepare for next year with recruiting. We have a tradition of excellence at Texas Tech and we hope to win many more championship titles.

We are lucky to have strong support from Chancellor Hance, President Bailey, Provost Smith, our supervisor Vice President and Vice Provost Dr. Juan Munoz, our donors, and so many other people at Texas Tech and in Lubbock. To have people waiting to cheer the chess team on at the airport when they returned at midnight was pretty incredible. The media also prominently covered the team success. Everyone believes in us and we want to continue making all of them and this university proud. We will do everything in our power to help Texas Tech become a Tier One university. Through chess, we will attract some of the greatest minds to this university.

HK: What other goals does SPICE have in mind?
SP: As the chairwoman for the FIDE (World Chess Federation) Commission for Women's Chess, I am working with SPICE to promote women's chess and help raise the playing level of the next generation through various important initiatives. SPICE is also actively working to get chess in more schools. This is a very important part of our goal.

University Interscholastic League (UIL) of Texas, the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world, has approved the proposal from SPICE to include chess puzzle solving as a statewide competition. This can potentially be the biggest scholastic chess initiatives in the United States as more than 2,000 schools in Texas are competing in a number of UIL competitions each year.

I am also hoping to work closer with FIDE to enhance various chess in the schools and chess in education projects in the United States. The future of chess is very bright.

HK: Thank you, Susan and Paul, for your time. Once again, congratulations and Go Tech! Check'em Knight Raiders!
SP and PT: Thank you, Hal.

Dr. Hal Karlsson is originalli from the chess loving country Iceland. He is an Associate Professor of GeoSciences at Texas Tech University. He is also the founder of SPICE as well as a student advisor for the Knight Raiders.
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