Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kosintseva Sisters Leave Russian National Women's Chess Team

HOLY HATHOR!  The Kotsintseva sisters have quit the Russian National Women's Chess Team because they refuse to play under the leadership of team coach Sergei Rublevsky.

I haven't read about the specific issues that may have arisen with this male GM trying to coach an all-female chess team, but I know that issues have come up in the past regarding male coaches with other women's teams, including a medal-women U.S. Women's Olympiad Team the one and only time GM Susan Polgar played for a United States women's team.  So it's not exactly like these issues haven't come up before -- of course they have!

I am left wondering - what the hell did Rublevsky do to "emotionally shake up" the Russian Women's Team during the last Olympiad.  It's not sexist to say that a coach cannot treat a woman like he would treat a man.

In any event, the Kotsintseva sisters are OFF THE RUSSIAN TEAM, and the resulting team is left seriously weakened in their absence.  No ifs, ands or buts about it!  There is an article at Chessbase that sensationalistically exclaims:

Kosintseva sisters abandon the Russian women's team
06.02.2013– From 2-13 March 2013 the Women's World Team Championship will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Russian team, which won the Chess Olympiad last September, has lost it two top players, Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintseva. The sisters say they refuse to play for the team under the leadership of trainer Sergei Rublevsky, citing 'psychological incompatibility'. News and interview.

That article title, of course, is complete bullshit.  I suspect it would be more accurate to say that the Russian Chess Federation has abandoned two of its highest-rated female chess stars in order to support a mysoginistic bully because, well, that's sure what this looks like, dudes.

One can depend on GM Polgar to report all the chess news, and her blog picked up the radio interview of Nadezhda Kosintseva.

I am waiting to see if any of the remaining members of the Russian National Women's Chess Team, including popular players who have blogs, will comment on this development.  They may feel restrained from or refrain from doing so because of chess politics. 

3rd Century CE Temple of Mithras Awaits New Home

This very large dig (one square city block!) is taking place in the heart of London.  Oh, how I wish I could see it!


Temple Of Mithras Stays Boxed As City’s Big Dig Continues
February 6, 2013 at 9:27 am

British archaeology has enjoyed a surge of interest of late, with the recent unearthing of Richard III in a certain Leicester car park. However, one London archaeological site remains in limbo: the Temple of Mithras is still waiting for its new home, as one of the City’s biggest ever digs continues.

The temple, dating from 240AD, has been dismantled and is currently in storage with the Museum of London. It’s awaiting a permanent home in the rebuilt Bucklersbury House on Queen Victoria Street, which is set to be the European headquarters of media giant Bloomberg LP.

Bloomberg was granted planning permission in 2010 to uproot the temple’s remains and incorporate them into its new corporate base. However, work on the £300m project, designed by Foster + Partners, hasn’t yet begun. The site, occupying a huge city block, is still a big hole in the ground. Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), which is leading the project to move the temple, says it will be “a matter of years” before it is once again visible to the public.

Part of the delay has to do with ongoing excavation work on the Queen Victoria Street site, which has evolved into the Walbrook Discovery Programme, one of the largest digs undertaken in the City of London, according to MOLA, with more than 50 archaeologists combing through the mud of the Roman River Walbrook.

“The ground conditions are perfect for preserving organic remains and hundreds of metal, wood, bone and leather artefacts and wooden structures are being recovered and recorded,” MOLA says. “These finds will contribute to our understanding of life in this part of Roman London and will help to tell the story of the development of the Mithras site.”

The dig has uncovered the original foundations of the Temple of Mithras, which will inform a more accurate reconstruction. “Bloomberg LP will restore the temple to its original Roman location and in a more historically accurate guise,” says MOLA. “Upon completion of Bloomberg’s new development, the new reconstruction of the Temple of Mithras will be housed in a purpose-built and publicly accessible interpretation space within their new building.”

There’s still no word on what that space will look like, or whether it will take any cues from a similar space designed to display the nearby London Stone, which is also awaiting removal to new premises in a corporate building. The City of London Corporation did tell us, however, that the temple will be in a new display area at ground and basement level with a separate entrance as part of the new building.

The Temple of Mithras was dedicated to the Mithraic cult, which spread across the Roman Empire between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. The temple was a low, cave-like building and was in use for about 100 years. It was later rebuilt and dedicated to the god Bacchus.
The temple was rediscovered by chance in 1952 by the archaeologist WF Grimes, and caused something of a stir at the time, with crowds of Londoners queuing up to see the dig. On the final day of excavations, in 1954, the team discovered the marble head of a sculpture of Mithras, one of the biggest finds from the site and a key artefact of Roman London.

The temple’s history has been somewhat chequered since then: put into storage for the first time from the mid-50s until 1962, the remains were reconstructed (badly) 90 metres from the original site, nine metres above the original level and set in modern cement mortar. Chipping away that mortar has complicated efforts to rehouse it: Bloomberg had to hire expert stone masons to free the remains, according to the Museum of London.

So, it seems that the temple might be in limbo a little while longer, but it is at least furthering the cause of British archaeology. The Walbrook Discovery Programme has set up a blog to keep people up to date with the dig’s progress. And if you can’t wait for the site’s redevelopment, treasures from the Temple of Mithras – including the sculpture of the head of Mithras – are on display in the Museum of London’s Roman galleries.

Author Jon Yeomans writes a London/travel blog called Vida London.

2013 Moscow Open

Hola darlings!

The Moscow Open is back!  (January 31 - February 10, 2013).

This year, a large contingent of female players from India are playing in Tournament A ("Men's") along with several other chess femmes.  Altogether, 225 players are registered.  Now, will all of them play to the end?  Likely not. 

Because of the size of this event and my sparse "spare" time (nonexistent these days!), I will only report the final standings, unless I happen to read of some incredible femme chess feat during this event.

The Top Ten of Tournament A features some heavy-hitters in the male world of chess, but this year the field has been denuded of several of the creme de la creme players participating in other tournaments or just taking a break.  That being said, though, these top ten men are nothing to sneeze at and I doubt any of the chess femmes will be meeting any of them OTB.  Nope.  This is the kind of tournament a lower-rated player enters in the hope of gaining (1) great experience and (2) ELO points if one can manage to beat up on a lower rated competitor.  We'll see how the ladies do.  They may mostly end up playing each other!

Here are the chess femmes playing in Tournament A (by rank order):

42GMHarika Dronavalli IND2514
106WGMGomes Mary Ann IND2394
108IMKaravade Eesha IND2391
150IMMohota Nisha IND2327
162WGMCherednichenko Svetlana UKR2307
163WGMPadmini Rout IND2307
171WGMSoumya Swaminathan IND2291
197WIMAbdulla Khayala AZE2203
201WGMKiran Manisha Mohanty IND2188
210Zizlova Sofia RUS2129
215Michelle Catherina P IND2105
217 WFM Pujari Rucha IND 2100
218 WFM Bharathi R. IND 2099
219 WFM Monnisha Gk IND 2055

Tournament B is the "Women's" event.  This year, while I haven't checked to see what the prizes are for the chess femmes, I suspect that the prize fund has been greatly diminished, and the field of players therefore reflects this.  There are not what I would call any top female chess "stars" participating in Tournament B.  Here is the list of participants by rating.  Disappointing.

There are several other events as well, Veterans', Amateurs, Students' competitions, etc. If the next big star(s) emerge(s), I'm sure we'll read about it sooner or later at Chessbase :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ju Wenjun Stuck in Gibraltar Due to Visa Mix-Up

Chinese chess grandmaster stranded in Gibraltar after being blocked from UK

Women's world No 15 Ju Wenjun refused permission to board flight to London as she did not hold a transit visa,

A top Chinese chess player has found herself stuck between the Rock and a hard place after an airline refused to allow her to board a flight to London following a tournament in Gibraltar because she did not hold a transit visa to enter the UK.

Ju Wenjun found herself stranded after taking part in the 11th annual Tradewise chess festival held in Gibraltar, having travelled there on 19 January via London from Hong Kong on a British Airways flight. However, when she went to board her return flight to China via Heathrow on 1 February, the day after her 22nd birthday, she was denied entry onto the flight.

"I don't have a UK transit visa and they let me board (in Hong Kong). When I arrived in the UK, I told them I was going to play in Gibraltar at the Tradewise festival. I showed them my airline ticket and they let me pass through. They let me show my tickets and my invitation," said Ju on the telephone from Gibraltar.

Ju is a grandmaster, ranked No 15 in international women's chess and No 3 in China. The
tournament organisers, who have been rallying on her behalf, said she has been told she must send her passport to the UK to be issued a transit visa and then have it sent back to Gibraltar. But Ju doesn't understand why she should have to go through this when she was allowed to pass through the UK in January on her way to the chess tournament.

"I don't want to send my passport to the UK. It takes time, and my parents are worried about me," she said. "I hope this will end soon."

The tournament director, Stuart Conquest, said Ju is growing increasingly distressed about her extended stay on the Rock. "I think they should use a bit of compassion and let this girl go home. What is the point of making her send her passport to the UK? Everyone's waiting for her in China," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that the UK Border Agency was not responsible for visa checks made by airline carriers outside the country. "It has nothing to do with us," she said.
At the time of publication, British Airways was unavailable for comment.

Conquest says this is the first time any incident like this has happened to international players participating in the tournament in the 11 years it has been running.

In the meantime, Ju is being looked after by Conquest and others in Gibraltar, even being treated to a meal out - at Kowloon Chinese restaurant.

Revisiting the Peopling of the Americas

I thought this was funny, The Smithsonian Online doing a gigantic article on a site that is, after all, merely dated 1,000 years before Clovis.  I mean - really

When Did Humans Come to the Americas?

Recent scientific findings date their arrival earlier than ever thought, sparking hot debate among archaeologists

  • By Guy Gugliotta
  • Illustration by Andy Martin
  • Smithsonian magazine, February 2013

  • Any artifacts that scholars said came before Clovis, or competing theories that cast doubt on the Clovis-first idea, were ridiculed by the archaeological establishment, discredited as bad science or ignored.

    Take South America. In the late 1970s, the U.S. archaeologist Tom D. Dillehay and his Chilean colleagues began excavating what appeared to be an ancient settlement on a creek bank at Monte Verde, in southern Chile. Radiocarbon readings on organic material collected from the ruins of a large tent-like structure showed that the site was 14,800 years old, predating Clovis finds by more than 1,000 years. The 50-foot-long main structure, made of wood with a hide roof, was divided into what appeared to be individual spaces, each with a separate hearth. Outside was a second, wishbone-shaped structure that apparently contained medicinal plants. Mastodons were butchered nearby.

    The excavators found cordage, stone choppers and augers and wooden planks preserved in the bog, along with plant remains, edible seeds and traces of wild potatoes. Significantly, though, the researchers found no Clovis points. That posed a challenge: either Clovis hunters went to South America without their trademark weapons (highly unlikely) or people settled in South America even before the Clovis people arrived.

    There must have been “people somewhere in the Americas 15,000 or 16,000 years ago, or perhaps as long as 18,000 years ago,” said Dillehay, now at Vanderbilt University.

    Of the researchers working sites that seemed to precede Clovis people, Dillehay was singled out for special criticism. He was all but ostracized by Clovis advocates for years. When he was invited to meetings, speakers stood up to denounce Monte Verde. “It’s not fun when people write to your dean and try to get you fired,” he recalled. “And then your grad students try to get jobs and they can’t get jobs.”
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