Saturday, August 27, 2011

2011 FIDE World Cup

Watch it for fun and Goddess Bless!

Round 1 starts tomorrow (or today, depending on the time zones). This is mostly a dude event which does not interest me unless an American advances into the semi-finals -- not likely to happen (even with GM Gata Kamsky playing) but hey, miracles have been known to occur.  The top players in the world have all bowed out, tsk tsk.  But there are enough hungry GMs available to make an event anyway, and  they will receive a nice paycheck - if the checks don't bounce, ahem.

I will pay attention to see how the few chess femmes do.  GM Judit Polgar, playing for Hungary, has an ELO of 2699 and needs just a squeek to get back into the 2700 club.  Unfortunately, these days, that doesn't mean a whole lot, unless a player is up in the 2750+ range.  GM Polgar comes into the event ranked 33rd on the list of 128 players, and that says something about her incredible endurance as a top level player despite having taken time off to get married and have two children.  You go, Girl!  I'm rooting for Judit all the way!

The only other female player is GM Hou Yifan of China, ranked on the list at the official website at 2575.  Hou is the current women's world chess champion and has been very active in both women-only and mixed events since winning that title in December, 2010.  She is preparing for an upcoming match for the women's title against GM Koneru Humpy of India later this year.

So, let's see how the ladies do.  I will follow them as closely as I can, schedule permitting.

I will try to keep an eye on the US players, this year making up a nice contingent and featuring both seasoned veterans, a few more recent GM-earned titles (five years or younger titles) and some young, fresh bucks:

GM Gata Kamsky (USA 2741), ranked 8th of participants
GM Alexander Onischuk (USA 2675), ranked 51st of participants
GM Yuri Shulman (USA 2617), ranked 86th of participants
GM Ray Robson (USA 2560), ranked 103 of participants.  Ray is the youngest US player to earn a GM title.  He's a cutie and growing so fast his suits aren't keeping up with him.  I would say he's the equivalent of the Justin Bever of chess, but since relatively few girls of certain age follow chess, Ray doesn't have a screaming mad fan base of girls.
GM Samuel L. Shankland (USA 2539), ranked 111th of participants.  Sam Shankland is a hunk. If I were 40 years younger I'd be chasing after him myself, LOL!  He had his ups and downs on the path toward earning that not-so-easy and often elusive GM title and at one point announced to anyone listening that he was going to quit chess, at the ripe old age of 18.  Good thing he changed his mind :)
GM Alexander Ivanov (USA 2538), ranked 112th of participants

Realistically for the American representatives, Kamsky has the best chance to advance, simply by dint of his rating and extensive experience in playing in such events.   But this is a knock-out tournament, and anything can and ususally does happen.

Like the 2010 Chess Olympiad, this event is being held in the wilds of farthest away Russian - in Siberia, maybe even in an old prison camp - Mansky Kamsky.  Okay, that's just what I call it.  It's actually Khanty-Mansiysk.  I prefer Mansky Kamsky, it's easier to remember and it has a certain "ring" to it, if you know what I mean.  And I'm just kidding about the prison camp thing.  Czar for Life Putin made sure it's well hidden and no one without top secret clearance will be allowed anywhere near that area...

Rah rah Judit and Yifan!  Rah rah to the Americans! 

And a shout out to our Canadian friends:

GM Mark Bluvshstein (2611), starting in 89th place
IM Eric Hansen (2449), starting in 124th place.  Eric is one of a relative handful of IMs participating in this momentous event.  Yah, Eric!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Night Miscellany!

Hola darlings!  The weather has been gorgeous here the past week or so, a little more humid than I like but getting cool during the night and able to open up all the windows and sleep with fresh air!  Ahhhh!  Also saving on electricity big time because it seems for nearly 2 months straight I was constantly running the central AC!

What's on my mind tonight:

ONE:  Is the end of the world really coming?  LOL!  I'm joking, of course!  I don't believe it for a second.  I think all the stuff written in the various holy books for various religions are allegories and meant to teach lessons about "what will happen if you don't brush your teeth" -- your teeth fall out!  Or whatever.  You get the idea. 

But the internet is buzzzzzzzing with the three quakes in the US (nobody cared about the much larger quake that happened in a remote area in Peru during the same time frame).  What is it about earthquakes on the east coast that brings out the Armageddon crew en masse?  Do the vibrations somehow alter the ratio of ozone in the air supply, affecting certain people's brains???  Oops - I think I just may have started a new "end of the world as we know it" scenario...  See, for instance:

Calm Down People...The D.C. Earthquake Is Not The End of The World

Of course, the same old crap was burning up the internet back in 2010 after Haiti and Japan:

Now an earthquake in Chile! Do these earthquakes signal the end of the world is near?

Think I'm exaggerating?  Ha ha ha!  Just try a search using words such as earthquakes and end times and watch what pops up.

TWO:  The quest for the not-so-little black dress.  Darlings, I am beginning to think that my brain has somehow been permanently altered, and it's rather frightening!  I can't seem to get black dresses out of mind, for one thing, and now I'm on a quest for the perfect yet comfortable dress shoe to go with the perfect not-so-little black dress!  What's more, I am fixated on the constant discount coupons I am now being slathered with from the online retailers I ordered merchandise from recently.  OHMYGODDESS!  Will it never end?  Hellllllllppppppp........

You know, it never occurred to me before, but Hellllllllppppppp........ is actually a contraction for the words HELL (echo, echo, echo, echo, echooooo.....) and GULP! 

Should I be grateful for this re-awakened fashion frenzy?  Hmmmm....  I actually ordered VOGUE.  Yes, I know, darlings.  Incredible.  A two years for the price of one special.  I couldn't pass up such a good deal :)

Anyway, as you know, I found this most incredible couture designer who also does alterations and tailoring - Ms. Diane Wilson of P'dia in downtown Milwaukee.  So I owe my quest for the perfect not-so-little black dress to meeting this incredible lady. 

"Maka" by Annie
As for those damn shoes - not so easy!  I do not, really, want to go shopping yet again tomorrow.  I'm tired!  So, tonight after work I dashed over to Rogan's Shoes near where I live because I found them online and I thought they would have all of these fabulous shoes in stock!  EPIC FAIL.  They have a huge store and it's all odds and ends!  I didn't spend 10 minutes looking before I knew it was a bust, and the 14 year old clerks were not an encouraging sign.  Soooo, I went back to Zappo's and ordered two pairs of shoes, crossing my fingers that they will arrive and at least one pair will fit and I'll be able to walk in them and stand for more than 15 minutes!   "Maka" is one of the styles I chose.  The other pair is - well, it just looks like granny.

But I expect that since rain is forecast for tomorrow, I'll be going shopping - again.  Sigh.

 THREE:  The World of Weird!  (or is that Wierd???)

From the news archives of The Daily Grail (yes, I still visit there!) - do you remember the movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still" with Michael Rene' as the alien, the uber-robot "Clatu," and the hot mother-babe (an archetype if ever there was one), Patricia Neal, back in the day in 1951!  Oooooohhhhhhh.....

Press Release
(Reported at DG on August 26, 2011):
Russian Scientists Decode Extraterrestrials’ Messages – Grave Warning for Humanity

The Earth is in the final stages in a cycle of development of human consciousness and the organic world. A critical decrease in the Earth’s magnetic field will cause global cataclysmic events. Extraterrestrial civilizations (ETC) have offered humanity the only avenue for escape on the eve of these predicted global cataclysms. This is the claim of two Russian scientists Victoria Popova, Dr. Sc., Ph.D., and Lidia Andrianova Ph.D. They have authored over two hundred publications and nineteen patents. ... .

And of course, I couldn't complete this post without something on our uber-evil U.S. MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, BWWWWWWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHAAAAAAAHHHHHH!  Those Evil Menaces are all over, they are all-seeing, they never rest, not even for a second.  They are the ones who have planted that micro camera inside the drips in your kitchen sink and yes - oh horrors, horrors! - your shower - EEEK EEEEK EEEEEEEK EEEEEEEKKKKKKK.    Okay, you get the point.... Ha ha ha!  Get it?  YOU GET THE POINT?  Ha ha ha!

From the Weird World News of Alejandro Rojas
New Mexico Cop Says Military Responsible for Cattle Mutilations
Posted: 8/22/11 02:03 PM ET

Wait a second.  What the hell is that?  I thought we were supposed to be writing about cattle mutilations - oh no!  It - it's - oh no!  It's the granny shoe that Jan ordered EEEK EEEEEEKKKKK EEEEEEKKKKKKKK EEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK - WHERE'S THAT' KNIFE, QUICK! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Shot Across the Bow in the DNA Wars!

23 August 2011 Last updated at 19:15 ET
Study deals blow to theory of European origins
By Paul Rincon
Science editor, BBC News website
[Note: The title is wrong. The gist of the article is that this latest research study shows the opposite!]
A new study deals a blow to the idea that most European men are descended from farmers who migrated from the Near East 5,000-10,000 years ago.

The findings challenge previous research showing that the genetic signature of the farmers displaced that of Europe's indigenous hunters. The latest research leans towards the idea that most of Europe's males trace a line of descent to stone-age hunters. But the authors say more work is needed to answer this question.

The study, by an international team, is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Archaeological finds show that modern humans first settled in Europe from about 40,000 years ago - during a time known as the Palaeolithic. [For convenience, I call these "the first settlers who became Europeans"].

These people survived an Ice Age some 20,000 years ago by retreating to relatively warm refuges in the south of the continent, before expanding into northern Europe again when the ice melted. But just a few thousand years after Europe had been resettled by these hunter-gatherers ['Europeans'], the continent underwent momentous cultural change. Farmers spread westwards from the area that is now Turkey, bringing with them a new economy and way of life. [See my comment below].

The extent to which modern Europeans are descended from these early farmers versus the indigenous hunter-gatherers who settled the continent thousands of years previously is a matter of heated debate. The results vary depending on the genetic markers studied and are subject to differing interpretations. [In other words, our technology is not up to the task of answering the question at present.  A refreshing change from most "scientific" articles that present the latest as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!]

Family tree

The latest study focused on the Y chromosome - a package of DNA which is passed down more or less unchanged from father to son.  The Y chromosomes carried by people today can be classified into different types, or lineages, which - to some extent - reflect their geographical origins.

More than 100 million European men carry a type called R-M269, so identifying when this genetic group spread out is vital to understanding the peopling of Europe. R-M269 is most common in western Europe, reaching frequencies of 90% or more in Spain, Ireland and Wales.

But while this type reaches its highest distribution on the Atlantic fringe, Patricia Balaresque and colleagues at the University of Leicester published a paper in 2010 showing that the genetic diversity of R-M269 increases as one moves east - reaching a peak in Anatolia (modern Turkey). [Hmm...]

Genetic diversity is used as a measure of age; lineages that have been around for a long time accumulate more diversity. So this principle can be used to estimate the age of a population. [A clear and concise statement that diametrically opposes at least one other statement in an article discussing a DNA study that said diversity decreases in a given population over time.  That was so counter-intuitive to general principles of logic that I wrote to Mr. Don about it and asked him to read the article and see what he thought - and if I was just reading it wrong.  He read the article and agreed with me.  But tonight, I'm tired and I'm not going to go digging around in old archived emails to find the specific email and article!]

When the Leicester team estimated how old R-M269 was in different populations across Europe, they found the age ranges were more compatible with an expansion in Neolithic times (between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago). [In other words, some people from the Middle East followed their idea of 'farming' into the West some several thousands of years after that idea had already been spread - by whatever means - into Europe, beginning with "Old Europe" and eventually spreading westward all the way to the edges of 'Europe.']

The team's conclusions received support from papers published in August 2010 and in June this year. But one study which appeared last year backed the idea of a more ancient, Palaeolithic origin for R-M269.

Age estimates

Now, a team including Cristian Capelli and George Busby at Oxford University have explored the question.

Their results, based on a sample of more than 4,500 men from Europe and western Asia, showed no geographical trends in the diversity of R-M269. Such trends would be expected if the lineage had expanded from Anatolia with Neolithic farmers.

Furthermore, they suggest that some of the markers on the Y chromosome are less reliable than others for estimating the ages of genetic lineages. On these grounds, they argue that current analytical tools are unsuitable for dating the expansion of R-M269. [Damn right. If I'm reading this correctly, 50% of the most current research says "they came from the Middle East" and 50% of the research says "nope, they were "always" here. LOL!]

Indeed, Dr Capelli and his team say the problem extends to other studies of Y-chromosome lineages: dates based on the analysis of conventional DNA markers may have been "systematically underestimated", they write in Proceedings B.

But Dr Capelli stressed that his study could not answer the question of when the ubiquitous R-M269 expanded in Europe, although his lab is carrying out more work on the subject.

"At the moment it's not possible to claim anything about the age of this lineage," he told BBC News, "I would say that we are putting the ball back in the middle of the field."

Co-author Dr Jim Wilson from the University of Edinburgh explained: "Estimating a date at which an ancestral lineage originated is an interesting application of genetics, but unfortunately it is beset with difficulties."

The increasing frequency of R-M269 towards western Europe had long been seen by some researchers as an indication that Palaeolithic European genes survived in this region - alongside other clues.

A more recent origin for R-M269 than the Neolithic is also possible. But researchers point out that after the advent of agriculture, populations in Europe exploded, meaning that it would have been more difficult for incoming migrants to displace local people.

I Have Found a Treasure!

I am so thrilled!  I visited the tailoring and dress shop today during my lunch hour very near the office.  I met the owner, Diane Wilson, and was very impressed with her wonderful personality and talent.  She is the force behind P'dia, Custom Couture Clothing.  You can find her store-front right on East Wisconsin Avenue, 314 East Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI. 

We chatted while we decided on the best length for my new pencil skirt (I decided to keep it as a basic wardrobe staple since I got such a good deal on it) and discussed different ways we might take up the hem of my new not-so-little black dress I bought for St. Louis.  The solution was as genius as it was simple, and will result in a dress just the right length, without altering any of the lines, and a better fitting bodice and neckline!

Best of all, the cost is extremely reasonable and I will have my pieces ready on August 31st! 

Diane has more than 40 years experience in the field including designing and executing her own custom clothing designs for her customers.  After having met Diane, I am greatly tempted to have her design a flattering winter dress - I would love a warm dress with long sleeves and a cowl neck, skimming curves rather than highlighting undesirable lumps and bumbs!  Let me tell you, Diane knows exactly what a lady of a certain age needs to emphasis the positive and hide the negative! 

Diane's business is at Facebook and you can find out more about Diane and her business, and also get a look at some of her designs as well as an inventory of some lovely dresses (these are not her work), including some beautiful bridal gowns, that are being liquidated and sold at incredible (unbelievable) low prices!  Check it out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cache of Ancient Chinese Dynastic Coins Uncovered in Mongolia


Over 200 1,000-year-old coins unearthed in Inner Mongolia 2011-08-23 12:04:11

HOHHOT, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- More than 200 coins that were used 1,000 years ago were excavated in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said local archaeologists on Tuesday.

The green verdigris-covered coins, most from the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and some from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), were unearthed at a construction site in Araxan League, said Zhang Zhenzhou with the Araxan Museum.

Zhang added that the place where the coins were found belonged to the Western Xia Kingdom, which means that the area was probably a business hub between Northern Song and Western Xia.

Zhang's opinion is echoed by Li Daxiang, curator of Weiwu municipal museum in Gansu Province.

"Despite the many battles between the two kingdoms, bilateral trade was booming, which lead to the transfer of the Northern Song coins to Western Xia," Li said.

Probably people tried to hide their money during warfare by burying the coins, Zhang said.

The archaeologists are classifying and studying the coins in order to ascertain in which year the coins were buried and hopefully shed some light on ancient bilateral trade, Zhang said.

Historical records show that the Song silk, porcelain, iron and various textiles were traded to places as far as the Indus River and modern-day Iraq.

Historical records show that the Song silk, porcelain, iron and various textiles were traded to places as far as the Indus River and modern-day Iraq.  Probably much farther than that, and much earlier than that, too.  Silk, for instance, made a huge splash in Rome and that was before the final fall of the western Roman Empire - when was that?  Circa 435 CE?  I'm too lazy tonight to check the date, but that sounds about right.  I recall seeing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC several beautiful Chinese porcelains that were recovered from what is modern-day Iran that date back to approximately 900-1100 CE.

There were sporadic diplomatic contacts between the various early Chinese empires and the "west."  I vaguely recall at least one grand "adventure" during the Tang Dynasty and I believe that diplomat ended up in India and was gone from the Imperial Court some twenty years before returning.

Study of Horse Domestication Focuses on Y Chromosome

Interesting press release - but please, give it to me in "layman's English" next time, heh?

Public release date: 23-Aug-2011
Contact: David Garner
University of York

Ancient wild horses help unlock past

An international team of researchers has used ancient DNA to produce compelling evidence that the lack of genetic diversity in modern stallions is the result of the domestication process.

The team, which was led by Professor Michi Hofreiter from the University of York, UK, has carried out the first study on Y chromosomal DNA sequences from extinct ancient wild horses and found an abundance of diversity.

The results, which are published in Nature Communications, suggest the almost complete absence of genetic diversity in modern male horses is not based on properties intrinsic to wild horses, but on the domestication process itself.

Professor Hofreiter said: "Unlike modern female domestic horses where there is plenty of diversity, genetic diversity in male horses is practically zero.

"One hypothesis to explain this suggests modern horses have little Y chromosome diversity because the wild horses from which they were domesticated were also not diverse, due in part to the harem mating system in horses, implying skewed reproductive success of males. Our results reject this hypothesis as the Y chromosome diversity in ancient wild horses is high. Instead our results suggest that the lack of genetic diversity in modern horses is a direct consequence of the domestication process itself."

The Y chromosome is a valuable tool in population genetics, providing a means of directly assessing evolutionary processes that only affect the paternal lineage. So far mitochondrial DNA studies have failed to discover the origin of domestic horses. However, these new Y chromosomal markers now open the possibility of solving this issue in detail.

As part of the study, researchers sequenced Y chromosomal DNA from eight ancient wild horses dating back from around 15,000 to more than 47,000 years and a 2,800-year-old domesticated horse. The results were compared to DNA sequences from Przewalski horses - the only surviving wild horse population – and 52 domestic horses, representing 15 modern breeds, which had been sequenced previously.

Domestication of horses dates back approximately 5,500 years. DNA from the skeletal remains of a 2,800-year-old domesticated stallion from Siberia showed that in contrast to modern horses, Y chromosomal diversity still existed several thousand years after the initial domestication event for horses.

Professor Hofreiter said: "This suggests some level of Y chromosomal diversity still existed in domestic horses several thousand years after domestication, although the lineage identified was closely related to the modern domestic lineage."

The study was carried out in Germany by Sebastian Lippold, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. The results were then independently replicated at the Centre for GeoGenetics at Copenhagen University, Denmark.

Sebastian Lippold said: "Working on ancient Y chromosomal DNA was especially challenging but the only opportunity to investigate Y chromosomal diversity in wild horses. For now we have a first idea of ancestral diversity and therefore a better impression of how much diversity has been lost. Basically this was an important first step and points to the potential the Y chromosomal marker could have in order to further investigate domestication history in horses."

Beth Shapiro, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the Pennsylvania State University, USA, carried out the analysis and interpretation.

She said: "Most ancient DNA research until now has focused on a different part of the genome – the mitochondrion – which is much more abundant in cells and therefore much easier to work with when the DNA is degraded. This has been a serious limitation in ancient DNA research, because we generally only have a good idea what happened along the maternal line. Here, we've been able to look at what happened along the paternal lineage, and, probably unsurprisingly, we see something different going on in males than in females.

"This is exciting stuff, and means we can start getting a much better picture of how events like domestication and climate change have shaped the diversity of organisms alive today."

Researchers had found that Przewalski's horse displays DNA haplotypes not present in modern domestic horses, suggesting they are not ancestral to modern domestic horses. However, while the Y chromosome data supported historic isolation, it also suggests a close evolutionary relationship between the domestic horse and the Przewalski's horse, since the Przewalski Y chromosomal haplotype is more similar to the two domestic ones than any of the ancient wild horse haplotypes.

So, does the last sentence indicate that there is or are one or more at present unknown ancestors between the domestic horse and Przewalski's horse? And if that is indeed the case, why didn't they just say so? Perhaps this all make sense to people schooled in the field, but to the average person interested in ancient and not-so-ancient history and other related subjects, it's like trying to read the Cyrillic alphebet (in other words, nearly impossible without a road map and much labor translating from "techno-speak" into plain understandable English words.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Success!!! I Have Found A Black Dress!

Patra tiered dress with flutter sleeves
Hola, darlings!  It's certainly not a "little" black dress, ahem (the winning dress: right).  But it does fit, covers various figure flaws pretty well, and did not look too horrible (although I look nothing like the model).  It's probably 4 inches too long, so I'm going to take it to the tailor tomorrow and see if she thinks it can be hemmed without ruining the line.  Ideally, I would like it to hit at the bottom of the knee.  It's also a tad low cut for my taste (much lower cut on me than on the model), but what the hell, these days my boobs are about the only assets I have, aside from my "fine eyes."  LOL!  A drawback to the wide open and deep neckline is my farmer's tan issue!  No way to resolve it although I will desperately try self-tanning stuff to try and even out the color differential somewhat.  I'm going to have a two-toned v-neckline and bosom.  A zebra in a black ruffled dress.

This is one of two dresses I'd ordered from Macy's online, and this was one of two dresses that I ordered in a "W" size (for plus size woman - please, no jokes!)  The second Macy's dress (not a "W" size) is gorgeous and it fit me which, in and of itself, was a major shock, but the sleeves were too short and being part spandex, hugged in just the wrong spots too much on my awful upper arm; and while the dress looked fabulous straight on in my full-length mirror, when I turned to the side and looked at my profile - it was definitely a FAIL.  So, the second dress is going back.  Unfortunately, I also received someone else's order in my box!  Eek! The unwanted dress and the un-ordered blouse (? -- not sure if it is a blouse, a tunic, or a very short and thin dress) are going back to Macy's tomorrow. 

Mind you, darlings, the boxes that were waiting for me this evening (from Macy's and Kyonna via Catherine's online) contained the last three of seven dresses I'd ordered online.  After having sent back the first four dresses as EPIC FAILS and while waiting for the final three dresses to arrive (figuring that none of them would fit or be flattering, or both, either), I decided to go the "separates" route and thus an additional shopping expedition ensued!  I made my purchases, including a pencil skirt that fit but was far too long (hit my legs in exactly the wrong spot) -- and so I had my wardrobe for the St. Louis trip all planned.  And then tonight I tried on the Macy's dresses and - well, I changed my mind.  I decided to keep the Patra dress and take back the pencil skirt.  If I were being thrifty and wise, I'd keep the pencil skirt, pay for some tailoring, and send the much more expensive Patra dress back.  Oh well...

So - I must go back to Southridge Mall tomorrow night after work to return the pencil skirt. 

About dress seven --  The lace overlay dress I'd ordered from Catherine's (actually Kyonna brand) was gorgeous! It looked even better in person than the photographs online.  Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a size 0X (a Women's size), I didn't even bother to try on because it looks like a size 10.  I mean - really? The label on the dress said size 0 and it's a lie.  Did they send me a 0 instead of a 0X (for those unintiated, 0X is between 16 and 1X, which is where my measurements place me, GASP!) 

NOW comes the hunt for the final parts of a lady's outfit: perfect shoes and accessories!  I've already got my Saturday shopping expedition for shoes planned.  I scouted out shoes online and, amazingly, there is a shoe store near where I live and can easily get to that stocks the W and/or WW (width) that I need - and in fashionable styles!  GASP!  I wasn't kidding about teetering around in 3 inch heels.  That's nothing these days, when your 20-somethings teeter around in 5 inch plus heels with platforms.  Ohmygoddess, those are some damn ugly shoes.  The highest heel I ever wore was a 4 inch spike - and no platform!  That was in 1983, my second year in law school. I had a 23" waist and nice legs back then. My life could have taken a whole 'nother turn because of those heels...

But that's not a story I'll ever write here :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ancient Mesopotamian Chess Cooking Challenge!

Brought to you by none other than BAR (Biblical Archaeolgy Society).  This sounds like a lot of fun - and really, really difficult at the same time.  I imagine one will either need a great deal of cooking knowledge and skill, or an incredible amount of luck, to create an edible (I won't say palatable) dish!

Ancient Mesopotamian Cookoff Challenge Underway
Bible and archaeology news
Biblical Archaeology Society Staff • 08/19/2011

Laura Kelley, author of The Silk Road Gourmet, has challenged fellow chefs, ancient historians and food enthusiasts to compete in the first ever Ancient Mesopotamian Cookoff Challenge. Participants are invited to make dishes inspired by recipes preserved in the cuneiform tablets of ancient Mesopotamia. Featured recipes include Meat with Wild Licorice, Lamb with Barley and Mint, and Mersu, an ancient dish filled with dates and pistachio nuts. There’s only one catch: The recipes typically include only the ingredients, with little mention of amounts or directions, meaning chefs will be putting their own spin on what Mesopotamian food looked, smelled and tasted like. The competition began August 1 and will wrap up September 30.

Here is one of the recipe entries:  Lamb with Licorice and Juniper Berries (sounds delicious, actually!)

Another entry:  Mersu by Catherine McLean (three distinct recipes and entries - one a macaroon type cookie!)

1st Metropolitan Chess International

This L.A. organizer brought in a big gun in GM Mickey Adams (he's so cute with the English nose of his!)  Adams is fresh off his win at the British Chess Championships.  GM Loek Van Wely has been appearing in a lot of U.S. tournaments.  Is he now a GM for hire?  If so, good for him, and Mickey Adams, too!  It's a way to make a living but he still has to play damn good chess.  All too often in these big U.S. events 6,7,8,9 or even 10 players tie for first place and the upshot is that hardly anyone takes home a decent paycheck! 

Note: This event was also called the 1st Metropolitan FIDE Invitational
1st Metropolitan International (Los Angeles USA)
Wed 17th Aug 2011 - Sun 21st Aug 2011
1st Metropolitan Int (9 Rds Swiss Indiv TC:90m:30m+30spm(1))

1st Metropolitan Int Los Angeles USA Wed 17th Aug 2011 - Sun 21st Aug 2011
Leading Final Round 9 Standings:
1Michael AdamsENG27157.5
2Loek Van WelyNED26836.5
3Timur GareevUZB26136.5
6Robert RuckHUN25696.5
7Dejan BojkovBUL25446.5
8Mesgen AmanovTKM25446.5
16Conrad HoltUSA24386.5

The ladies who played in the event finished below 50%:

45Alisa MelekhinaUSA22633.5
61Lorena ZepedaESA21873.5
74Amanda MateerUSA20963.5
32Tatev AbrahamyanUSA23433
77Sonia ZepedaESA20683

2011 French Women's Chess Championship

In progress, August 16 - 26, 2011; ch-FRA w 2011 (6 players 10 Rds DRR Indiv TC: 100m:40m+30smp(1))

ch-FRA w 2011 Caen (FRA), 16-26 viii 2011cat. III (2308)
1.Milliet, SophiemFRA2355**1½1.½.½.1.2496
2.Leconte, MariawgFRA23270½**1.½.1.½.2369
3.Bollengier, AndreeawmFRA22070.0.**1.1½½.32324
4.Maisuradze, NinowgFRA2329½.½.0.**0.1132306
5.Guichard, PaulinewgFRA2305½.0.0½1.**½.2234
6.Collas, SilviamFRA23230.½.½.00½.**2115

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some Chess Auction Results

Chess sets, chessboards, individual chess pieces, chess art, chess books, and objects of art with a chess theme are offered for auction several times a year.  I don't check as often as I should, probably :)  Here are some auction results I found of interest. All of the following are from Christie's:

Lot Description
A close-up of the masters playing chess.
Finely carved in high relief and openwork rendering a mountainous landscape scene detailed with a group of seven scholars in various pursuits including playing a game of chess, reading a book, appreciating a distant waterfall, in conversation with their attendant, all amidst bamboo, pine and wutong trees, under wispy clouds encircling the hardwood mounted mouth rim
4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm.) overall height, hardwood mounts, box

Price Realized (Set Currency)
Price includes buyer's premium
HK$120,000 - HK$150,000 ($15,522 - $19,402)

Sale Information
Sale 2832
Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
1 December 2010
Hong Kong

Lot Description

Comprised of sixteen red-stained Chinese figures and sixteen natural Western figures, each in traditional costume
5¼ in. (13.5 cm.) high, the red-stained king

Price Realized (Set Currency)
Price includes buyer's premium
$4,000 - $6,000

Sale Information
Sale 2350
500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe, Including Oriental Carpets
21 - 22 October 2010
New York, Rockefeller Plaza
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