Saturday, August 13, 2011

2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix: Rostov

Round 10 on 2011/08/13 at 15:00
12WGMRuan Lufei2479½ - ½GMHou Yifan257511
1GMStefanova Antoaneta25240 - 1GMLahno Kateryna253610
2GMKoneru Humpy2614½ - ½GMKosintseva Tatiana25579
3IMGalliamova Alisa24921 - 0IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina24278
4GMKosteniuk Alexandra24970 - 1GMDanielian Elina25217
5IMMuzychuk Anna2538½ - ½GMKosintseva Nadezhda25606

I'm a genius, har :) NOT! It seemed a foregone conclusion that Ruan and Hou would draw.

Current standings:
111GMHou Yifan2575CHN*0½1½111½1133.5002715
210GMLahno Kateryna2536UKR1*½011110½½32.5002627
39GMKosintseva Tatiana2557RUS½½*½½½1½1½130.0002637
45IMMuzychuk Anna2538SLO01½*½½½11½½628.5002598
56GMKosintseva Nadezhda2560RUS½0½½*½½½½1124.7502564
62GMKoneru Humpy2614IND0½½½*½½½110522.7502517
71GMStefanova Antoaneta2524BUL00½½½*10½½118.7502486
87GMDanielian Elina2521ARM00½½½0*101118.5002490
93IMGalliamova Alisa2492RUS000½½10*1½117.7502491
1012WGMRuan Lufei2479CHN½1000½10*½½419.7502456
114GMKosteniuk Alexandra2497RUS0½½½00½0½½*316.0002391
128IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina2427RUS0½0½01000½*13.2502347

Final match-ups tomorrow:
6GMKosintseva Nadezhda2560-WGMRuan Lufei247912
7GMDanielian Elina2521-IMMuzychuk Anna25385
8IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina2427-GMKosteniuk Alexandra24974
9GMKosintseva Tatiana2557-IMGalliamova Alisa24923
10GMLahno Kateryna2536-GMKoneru Humpy26142
11GMHou Yifan2575-GMStefanova Antoaneta25241

The only upset that could happen tomorrow is if Hou loses to Stefanova and Lahno and/or T. Kosintseva both win their games - thus creating a tie of 7.5 with two or three players. We'll see what happens!

Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 World Girls U-20 Chess Championship

Top Standings after R10:

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts.TB1 TB2 TB3 wwew-weKrtg+/-
1RUSWGMGirya OlgaRUS23718.52254227422968.56.711.791017.9
2PERWGMCori T DeysiPER23768.52250226922908.56.801.701017.0
3ROUWIMBulmaga IrinaROU22937.022722297232575.561.441521.6
4TURWIMOzturk KubraTUR22587.021782208222776.300.701510.5
5RUSDogodkina JuliaRUS21937.021042129215876.330.671510.1
6SWEWIMAgrest InnaSWE22207.020782101212876.940.06150.9
7GEOWGMPaikidze NaziGEO24166.52268228823096.57.09-0.5915-8.9
8INDWGMPadmini RoutIND23486.52200221622326.57.07-0.5715-8.6
9RUSWFMSemenova ElenaRUS21756.52198223422576.55.061.441521.6
10AZEWIMMammadova Gulnar Marfat QiziAZE22946.52181220222296.56.64-0.1415-2.1
11VIEWIMHoang Thi Nhu YVIE22046.52042206120836.56.340.16152.4
12GEOWIMTsatsalashvili KetiGEO23186.51999201620326.57.76-1.2615-18.9

Narmin Kazimova has dropped to 23rd place, currently with 5.5. She hung tough for a long time, I'm proud of her!

In the Open (all dudes), USA's GM Ray Robson is in 4th place overall, with 7.5, one point off the pace,  In sole first at the moment is GM Robert Hovhannisyan (ARM 2556) with 8.5. I believe there are 3 more rounds to go. He's got tough competition. Can he fight off the challenges and win a medal?

2011-2012 Women's Grand Prix: Rostov

 R9 - Hou Yifan proved she is not invincible; Lahno had something to prove.  Sadly, Humpy Koneru seemed out of it right from the get-go.  I am left wondering "what is wrong?"  She should not have lost a game (even with black) to Ekaterine Kovalelevskaya, who is having an absolutely horrid tournament.  It won't get any easier for Humpy - she has to face T. Kosintseva in R10 and Kateryna Lahno in R11!  Oh my!  One thing is sure, if she expects to have any chance against Hou in the Women's Chess Championship match, she'd better step up her game big time - in a hurry. 

5IMMuzychuk Anna25381 - 0WGMRuan Lufei247912
6GMKosintseva Nadezhda25601 - 0GMKosteniuk Alexandra24974
7GMDanielian Elina25211 - 0IMGalliamova Alisa24923
8IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina24271 - 0GMKoneru Humpy26142
9GMKosintseva Tatiana25571 - 0GMStefanova Antoaneta25241
10GMLahno Kateryna25361 - 0GMHou Yifan257511


111GMHou Yifan2575CHN*½01½11111728.0002747
29GMKosintseva Tatiana2557RUS½*½½½11½½1625.2502642
310GMLahno Kateryna2536UKR1½*01101½½24.7502596
45IMMuzychuk Anna2538SLO0½1*½½11½½22.7502602
56GMKosintseva Nadezhda2560RUS½½0*½½½½11520.0002570
62GMKoneru Humpy2614IND0½½*½½1½1017.5002513
71GMStefanova Antoaneta2524BUL0½½½*0½1½116.7502521
83IMGalliamova Alisa2492RUS000½½1*10½14.2502458
912WGMRuan Lufei2479CHN0100½0*1½½14.0002443
107GMDanielian Elina2521ARM0½0½½010*113.7502449
114GMKosteniuk Alexandra2497RUS0½½½00½½½*314.2502417
128IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina2427RUS00½½010½0*11.7502379

There are two more rounds to go:

Round 10 on 2011/08/13 at 15:00
12WGMRuan Lufei2479-GMHou Yifan257511
1GMStefanova Antoaneta2524-GMLahno Kateryna253610
2GMKoneru Humpy2614-GMKosintseva Tatiana25579
3IMGalliamova Alisa2492-IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina24278
4GMKosteniuk Alexandra2497-GMDanielian Elina25217
5IMMuzychuk Anna2538-GMKosintseva Nadezhda25606
Round 11 on 2011/08/14 at 12:00
6GMKosintseva Nadezhda2560-WGMRuan Lufei247912
7GMDanielian Elina2521-IMMuzychuk Anna25385
8IMKovalevskaya Ekaterina2427-GMKosteniuk Alexandra24974
9GMKosintseva Tatiana2557-IMGalliamova Alisa24923
10GMLahno Kateryna2536-GMKoneru Humpy26142
11GMHou Yifan2575-GMStefanova Antoaneta25241

Ruan v. Hou in R10 I assume will be an easy draw - I expect that Ruan has received the "message" (if not an outright order) that she should not press Hou too much for a win, even though doing so (and winning) would prove a point of her own :)

China's Water Woes

In my opinion, it's just a matter of time.  Water wars are coming...

By Elizabeth Economy, World Politics Review
August 10, 2011

What is the biggest challenge that China faces?

Corruption, the gap between the rich and poor, and the rapidly aging population often top the list of answers to this question.

Yet a closer look suggests that the greatest threat may well be lack of access to clean water. From "cancer villages" to violent protests to rising food prices, diminishing water supplies are exerting a profound and harmful effect on the Chinese people as well as on the country's capacity to continue to prosper economically.

While much of the challenge remains within China, spillover effects - such as the rerouting of transnational rivers and a push to acquire arable land abroad - are also being felt well outside the country's borders.

China's leaders have acknowledged the severity of the challenge and have adopted a number of policies to address their growing crisis. However, their efforts have fallen woefully short, as they fail to include the fundamental reforms necessary to turn the situation around. Meanwhile domestic pressures, as well as international concerns, continue to mount.

Development Run Amok

China's water story begins with a challenging reality: The country's per capita water resources just exceeded more than one-quarter that of the world average, and the distribution of those resources throughout the country is highly uneven.

Northern China is home to approximately 40 percent of the country's total population and almost half its agricultural land, and produces more than 50 percent of GDP. But it receives only 12 percent of total precipitation. Southern China, in contrast, receives 80 percent of China's total precipitation, yet skyrocketing levels of water pollution dramatically reduce the south's natural advantage.

The spectacular economic growth that has made China the envy of the world has only exacerbated the challenge. Resources, particularly water, are consumed without consideration for future demand. Industry and agriculture are notoriously profligate water consumers: Industry, which accounts for about one-quarter of China's total water consumption, uses anywhere from four to 10 times more water per unit of GDP as other competitive economies.

Water used for energy is a singularly important drain on China's scarce resources. By far, the largest portion of China's industrial water use is devoted to energy: The process of mining, processing and consuming coal alone accounts for almost 20 percent of all water consumed nationally.

Hydropower raises the bar even further. Already the largest producer of hydropower in the world, China plans to triple hydropower capacity by 2020. According to Ma Jun, the director of the Chinese NGO Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, many Chinese rivers simply won't be running in 2020 if China meets its hydropower capacity goals.

Agriculture, which accounts for 62 percent of China's total water consumption, also takes a serious toll on China's water supply. Almost two-thirds of China's arable land lies in the perennially dry north, and irrigation practices in China continue to be inefficient, with less than half of the water used for irrigation actually reaching crops.

Even municipalities suffer from serious water wastage: About 20 percent of urban water consumption is lost through leaky pipes. China's goal of urbanizing 400 million people by 2030 means that the water challenge will likely only increase. Urban, middle class residents - with water-consuming appliances, homes with lawns to water and a fondness for golf courses - use 300 percent more water than their rural counterparts.

China's widespread pollution adds another dimension to the country's water crisis. More than 90 percent of southern China's water withdrawal comes from surface water, but in the first half of 2010, almost a quarter of China's surface water was so polluted that it was not even usable for industry, and less than half of the total supplies of water were found to be drinkable. For decades, factories and municipalities have dumped untreated waste directly into streams, rivers and coastal waters.

The Shifting Landscape

China's economic growth, inefficiencies and wastage in water usage are transforming the geography and resource base of the country. First, the sheer amount of available water is declining. During the period from 2000 to 2009, the amount of accessible water in China decreased by 13 percent. By 2030, the Ministry of Water Resources anticipates that per capita water resources will decline below the World Bank's scarcity levels. Northern China reports some of the highest rates of water loss in the world.

Moreover, according to China's Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei, two-thirds of Chinese cities face increased scarcity of water, and overall the country confronts a water shortage of 40 billion cubic meters annually. In rural China, 320 million people - one-quarter of China's total population - don't have access to safe drinking water.

Second, the country is sinking. The extensive contamination of surface water has forced the Chinese to increase their exploitation of groundwater, leading to groundwater depletion and a dramatic drop in the ground water tables: 100 to 300 meters in Beijing, and up to 90 meters in other parts of China.

In Beijing, land subsidence resulting from this groundwater depletion has destroyed factories, buildings and underground pipelines. Saltwater intrusion as well as pollution is further compromising the diminishing groundwater supplies: Of the 182 cities with monitored groundwater in 2010, more than half registered "poor" to "extremely poor" in water quality. Even China's Ministry of Environmental Protection was forced to acknowledge, "It is not easy to be optimistic about the quality" of the groundwater.

Finally, desertification is advancing. While the south is often faced with catastrophic floods, desertification of the north has become widespread: One Chinese official estimated that it would take 300 years to reverse the desertification of lands that has already taken place - the majority in areas bordering the North's Gobi Desert - due to overexploitation of environmental resources. Even as local officials fight to reverse the trend, the desert continues to expand at a rate of more than 1,060 square miles per year.

The Hidden Costs

What really concerns China's leaders, however, are the social, economic and political impacts of this growing scarcity. As China's Minister for the Environment Zhou Shengxian suggested on his agency's website, "The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation's economic and social development."

For the Chinese people, the failure of local officials and factory managers to enforce environmental regulations translates into serious public health concerns, crop loss, poisoned fish and livestock, and a lack of water to run factories. For Chinese officials, the failure to protect the environment and provide adequate and safe water to their people is one of the chief causes of social unrest in the country and perhaps their greatest policy concern.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Update on Salme Boat Burial Excavation, with Tafl Game and Dice

Salme Yields Evidence of Oldest Sailing Ship in Baltic Sea
Sigrid Maasen
Published: 10.08.2011 10:04

The ancient ship burial site in Salme on the island of Saaremaa still has some surprises in store.

Image from Rescue excavations of a Vendel era boat-grave in Salme, Saaremaa (linked below)
The archeological excavations in Salme, soon to be completed, have yielded evidence that the ship that had been buried with 35 warriors and nobles had a keel, which in turn leads to the conclusion that it used sails. This represents the earliest known use of sails on a vessel in the Baltic Sea region, reported ETV.

"One piece of new information that we have been anticipating since winter was still to be found - namely, confirmation of whether it was a sailing ship or not. Now we have evidence that it used sails," said archeologist Jüri Peets of Tallinn University.

Peets called this discovery the cherry on top of the cake that was the nearly two-year-long archeological dig. "It is thought that sails were first introduced in the North Sea and Baltic Sea region at about 700 A.D., which is the conventional date. Our ship dates from the year 750. The ship from the year 700 was from the North Sea region, near Norway. However, here in the Baltic Sea region, this is without a doubt the oldest sailing ship that has been found," said Peets.

In addition to the discovery of the keel, the irregular rows of strong rivets found on the bottom of the vessel also prove that the ship used sails.

Maritime archaeologist Vello Mäss confirmed that the Salme ship was without a doubt a warship that used sails. Although sails had been long in use in the Mediterranean Sea region, it was the Norwegians who first started using them in the North Sea region. Mäss also suggested that perhaps two separate war parties on two different ships had met in Salme centuries ago. Such hypotheses concerning the Salme ship burial site are sure to keep the scientists busy for years to come.

For further information about this ship burial (at least 35 individuals were buried with the ship) see Rescue excavations of a Vendel era boat-grave in Salme, Saaremaa
by Marge Konsa | Papers by Marge [Konsa]
Published in "Archeological Fieldwork in Estonia 2008"

I do not recall seeing such a game piece with a human figure carved on it before - very interesting, and a convenient way to depict the "king" piece; it rather reminded me of how Chinese game pieces are marked.  Here is the description of the find from the article; I could not get the article to download in PDF (so I could cut and paste text) so I just snipped out pertinent portions - those are the blocks outlined in red:

Next is described a limestone slab that was found in conjunction with one of the gaming pieces and a die, which led me to believe it could possibly be a gameboard - such as the type that would have been used for a 'tafl' game.  However, it wasn't described with any marks inscribed upon it - I suppose then that is why the archaeologists did not describe it as a gameboard.

I would like to see all of the recovered gaming pieces arranged on a board one day, to get an idea of what they would have looked like in actual use.

I still wonder about that limestone slab. Forty centimeters is about 15.74 inches. That would make a fair size game board. What about the use of the word "diameter" in describing the slab? Isn't diameter only used in describing a circle? So, was the limestone slab actually circular??? That would seem to take it out of the realm of a possible game board for a tafl-type game - at least, based upon the few extant examples of surviving game boards with which I'm familiar that are all square or rectangular shaped, but then, who really knows? There is so much we don't know!  Circular game boards are not unknown in antiquity.  In the far past are surviving carved stone boards from ancient Egypt for the game of Mehen; and in Byzantine times a form of chess was played on a circular board. 

If anyone out there comes across this post and has further information or suggestions, please feel free to comment!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Maryhill Art Museum to Expand


Maryhill Museum says expansion on schedule
Updated 04:56 p.m., Tuesday, August 9, 2011

GOLDENDALE, Wash. (AP) — An expansion at the Maryhill Museum of Art is on schedule and slated to open in spring 2012.

The 25,000-foot expansion is the first in the museum's 97-year history. The expansion will allow for a dedicated art education center, storage for art collections, an outdoor plaza and a café with terrace seating and views of the Columbia River Gorge.

The museum said in a statement Tuesday that its capital campaign has raised $9 million toward the expansion, with $500,000 still to be raised.

The museum, founded by Northwest entrepreneur Sam Hill, opened to the public in 1940 on a hill overlooking the river near Goldendale. Its permanent exhibits include more than 80 works by Auguste Rodin, European and American paintings, Orthodox icons and unique chess sets.

International Chess Sets is one of the permanent exhibits at the Maryhill:

A 1957 exhibit curated by the museum’s director Clifford Dolph led to the creation of this permanent exhibit of chess sets. Today there are about 100 sets of these sculptures in miniature, representing the many countries, cultures and periods in which chess has been played.

Some of these precious and incredibly beautiful sets were featured in Colleen Schaforth's excellent book "The Art of Chess."

2011 World Girls U-20 Chess Championship

Standings after R7 (top players):

Rk.NameFEDRtgIPts.TB1 TB2 TB3 Rpwwew-weKrtg+/-
1RUSWGMGirya OlgaRUS23716.0226522992344254464.661.341013.4
2PERWGMCori T DeysiPER23766.0221422362265250165.090.91109.1
3ROUWIMBulmaga IrinaROU22935.522602298234724545.54.071.431521.5
4POLWFMKulon KlaudiaPOL22275.521292156217923315.54.600.901513.5
5AZEWIMMammadova Gulnar Marfat QiziAZE22945.520982116214223095.55.360.14152.1
6GEOWGMPaikidze NaziGEO24165.0224122682300237455.19-0.1915-2.8
7RUSWFMSemenova ElenaRUS21755.0214921972228227054.030.971514.6
8RUSDogodkina JuliaRUS21935.0205820892129219254.850.15152.3
9SWEWIMAgrest InnaSWE22205.0205320832126217955.08-0.0815-1.2
10INDWGMPadmini RoutIND23484.521972221225022764.55.01-0.5115-7.7
11INDNandhidhaa PvIND21014.521812263229822124.53.271.231518.5
12AZEWIMKazimova Narmin Nizami QiziAZE22924.521532197224822184.54.90-0.4015-6.0
13UZBTokhirjanova HulkarUZB21194.521492204228022094.53.560.941514.1
14TURWIMOzturk KubraTUR22584.521442185220722094.54.77-0.2715-4.1
15ECUWFMRomero Echeverria AbigailECU20714.521182173224821594.53.540.961514.4
16INDWIMKulkarni BhaktiIND23174.520982112212321764.55.57-1.0715-16.0
17INDWFMSaranya JIND21214.520942136218621644.54.060.44156.6
18MGLWFMLkhamsuren UuganbayarMGL21634.520752110214821514.54.500.00150.0
19INDChandika DivyasreeIND21234.519892012204020634.54.89-0.3915-5.8
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