Wednesday, March 27, 2013

FIDE Women's Grand Prix Cycle 2013-2014

Finally - an announcement from FIDE.  So, there will be a FIDE Women's Grand Prix Cycle after all.  Geez!

Women's Grand-Prix announcement
Friday, 22 March 2013
FIDE announces the Women's Grand-Prix 2013-2014 which will give qualification to the Women's World Championship match 2015.
The schedule of the six events is the following:
* 2-16 May 2013 Geneva, Switzerland
* 15-29 June 2013 Dilijan, Armenia
* 17 September - 1 October 2013 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
* 2-16 May 2014 Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia
* 18 June - 2 July 2014 Tbilisi, Georgia
* 24 August - 7 September 2014 Erdenet, Mongolia

In total 18 players will participate, 10 qualifiers as per regulations (listed below) plus 6 nominees from the organisers of each tournament (to be announced) plus 2 nominees of the FIDE President (to be announced).

The 10 original qualifiers who have to confirm their participation by 26 March are:

01. Ushenina, Anna (World Champion 2012)
02. Stefanova, Antoaneta (finalist world championship 2012)
03. Ju, Wenjun (semi-finalist world championship 2012)
04. Harika, Dronavalli (semi-finalist world championship 2012)
05. Polgar, Judit (by rating 2703.78, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013) [she won't  play]
06. Hou, Yifan (by rating 2610.78, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
07. Koneru, Humpy (by rating 2598.44, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
08. Muzychuk, Anna (by rating 2593.33, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
09. Zhao, Xue (by rating 2555.00, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)
10. Dzagnidze, Nana (by rating 2551.89, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013)

The first reserve for any replacement needed is Lagno [Lahno], Kateryna (by rating 2546.33, average 9 lists Mar 2012 to Jan 2013).

The full regulations of the Women's Grand-Prix 2013-2014 are published here:

Women Star Chess Rapid 2013

Report from The Week in Chess.

Women Star Chess Rapid 2013
The Women Star Chess Rapid took place in Huashan City 17th to 21st March 2013.

  • Women Star Chess Rap
  • Sun 17th Mar 2013 - Thu 21st Mar 2013
  • Huashan City, CHN
  • 8 Players, 7 Rounds.
  • SRR
  • Time Control: 25m+10spm
  • Women Star Chess Rap Huashan City CHN Sun 17th Mar 2013 - Thu 21st Mar 2013. Category: 10. Ave: (2495)
    1Huang, QianWGMCHN2476#101===14.52600
    2Cmilyte, ViktorijaGMLTU25140#0=11114.52594
    3Kosintseva, TatianaGMRUS251711#=0===42542
    4Ushenina, AnnaGMUKR24770==#11==42548
    5Tan, ZhongyiWGMCHN2471=010#==13.52499
    6Ju, WenjunWGMCHN2505=0=0=#1=32444
    7Zhu, ChenGMQAT2491=0===0#=2.52394
    8Harika, DronavalliGMIND251000==0==#22335

    Awonder Liang Makes Master

    Woo woo!  Great news for the young chessplayer from Madison, Wisconsin.  Awonder often plays in the Southwest Chess Club (my adopted chess club) Hales Corners Challenge events.  I had the pleasure of meeting and having a nice conversation Awonder's dad a few years ago at one of the HCChallenges (it may have been Challenge XIII). 

    Published March 26, 2013, 12:49 PM

    9-year-old Wisconsin boy youngest American chess master

    Awonder Liang (front), at the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII, Milwaukee,
    Wisconsin, April 16, 2011, with Allen Becker, Tom Fogec and Robin Grohowski.
    Awonder made Expert Level as a result of his score in this event, 2 years ago!

    A 9-year-old Madison boy has become the youngest American to reach the rank of chess master.
    By: Associated Press staff, Wisconsin State Journal

    MADISON, Wis. — A 9-year-old Madison boy has become the youngest American to reach the rank of chess master.

    The United States Chess Federation has certified that Awonder Liang has earned more than 2,200 points, or master status, while playing at a weekend tournament in Dayton, Ohio.

    Federation rater Walter Brown says the fourth-grader is a week younger than the previous record holder, a California boy who set the mark in 2010.

    The Wisconsin State Journal says points toward master status are earned most quickly by beating better competition. Liang became a chess prodigy when he defeated a grandmaster, the highest rated player in the game, when he was 8.

    Brown says Liang currently is the 10th-best player overall in Wisconsin.

    Social Networks Revealed in Ancient Southwest United States

    From Science Daily

    Artifacts Shed Light On Social Networks of the Past

    Mar. 25, 2013 — Researchers studied thousands of ceramic and obsidian artifacts from A.D. 1200-1450 to learn about the growth, collapse and change of social networks in the late pre-Hispanic Southwest.

    The advent of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have made us all more connected, but long-distance social networks existed long before the Internet.

    An article published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sheds light on the transformation of social networks in the late pre-Hispanic American Southwest and shows that people of that period were able to maintain surprisingly long-distance relationships with nothing more than their feet to connect them.

    Led by University of Arizona anthropologist Barbara Mills, the study is based on analysis of more than 800,000 painted ceramic and more than 4,800 obsidian artifacts dating from A.D. 1200-1450, uncovered from more than 700 sites in the western Southwest, in what is now Arizona and western New Mexico.

    With funding from the National Science Foundation, Mills, director of the UA School of Anthropology, worked with collaborators at Archeology Southwest in Tucson to compile a database of more than 4.3 million ceramic artifacts and more than 4,800 obsidian artifacts, from which they drew for the study.

    They then applied formal social network analysis to see what material culture could teach them about how social networks shifted and evolved during a period that saw large-scale demographic changes, including long-distance migration and coalescence of populations into large villages.

    Their findings illustrate dramatic changes in social networks in the Southwest over the 250-year period between A.D. 1200 and 1450. They found, for example, that while a large social network in the southern part of the Southwest grew very large and then collapsed, networks in the northern part of the Southwest became more fragmented but persisted over time.

    "Network scientists often talk about how increasingly connected networks become, or the 'small world' effect, but our study shows that this isn't always the case," said Mills, who led the study with co-principal investigator and UA alumnus Jeffery Clark, of Archaeology Southwest.

    "Our long-term study shows that there are cycles of growth and collapse in social networks when we look at them over centuries," Mills said. "Highly connected worlds can become highly fragmented."
    Another important finding was that early social networks do not appear to have been as restricted as expected by settlements' physical distance from one another. Researchers found that similar types of painted pottery were being created and used in villages as far as 250 kilometers apart, suggesting people were maintaining relationships across relatively large geographic expanses, despite the only mode of transportation being walking.

    "They were making, using and discarding very similar kinds of assemblages over these very large spaces, which means that a lot of their daily practices were the same," Mills said. "That doesn't come about by chance; it has to come about by interaction -- the kind of interaction where it's not just a simple exchange but where people are learning how to make and how to use and ultimately discard different kinds of pottery." [Just come out and say it -- diffusion -- oh, but  isn't that a dirty word these days in archaeology?]

    "That really shocked us, this idea that you can have such long distance connections. In the pre-Hispanic Southwest they had no real vehicles, they had no beasts of burden, so they had to share information by walking," she said.

    The application of formal social network analysis -- which focuses on the relationships among nodes, such as individuals, household or settlements -- is relatively new in the field of archaeology, which has traditionally focused more on specific attributes of those nodes, such as their size or function.
    The UA study shows how social network analysis can be applied to a database of material culture to illustrate changes in network structures over time.

    "We already knew about demographic changes -- where people were living and where migration was happening -- but what we didn't know was how that changed social networks," Mills said. "We're so used to looking traditionally at distributions of pottery and other objects based on their occurrence in space, but to see how social relationships are created out of these distributions is what network analysis can help with."

    One of Mills's collaborators on the project was Ronald Breiger, renowned network analysis expert and a UA professor of sociology, with affiliations in statistics and government and public policy, who says being able to apply network analysis to archaeology has important implications for his field.

    "Barbara (Mills) and her group are pioneers in bringing the social network perspective to archaeology and into ancient societies," said Breiger, who worked with Mills along with collaborators from the UA School of Anthropology; Archaeology Southwest; the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Hendrix College; the University of Colorado, Boulder; the Santa Fe Institute; and Archaeological XRF Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M.

    "What archaeology has to offer for a study of networks is a focus on very long-term dynamics and applications to societies that aren't necessarily Western, so that's broadening to the community of social network researchers," Breiger said. "The coming together of social network and spatial analysis and the use of material objects to talk about culture is very much at the forefront of where I see the field of social network analysis moving."

    Going forward, Mills hopes to use the same types of analyses to study even older social networks.
    "We have a basis for building on, and we're hoping to get even greater time depth. We'd like to extend it back in time 400 years earlier," she said. "The implications are we can see things at a spatial scale that we've never been able to look at before in a systematic way. It changes our picture of the Southwest."

    Distant Relatives Want King Richard III Interred in York

    The kicker is it's probably all about attracting future tourist dollars...

    From The Guardian Online

    Richard III's distant relatives threaten legal challenge over burial

    Relations say king should be buried in York and government's failure to consult them is in breach of human right to family life


    Fifteen living relatives of Richard III, whose body was exhumed from a Leicester car park last year, are threatening to launch a legal challenge seeking the monarch's reburial in York Minster.

    Although the last English king to die in battle perished almost 500 years before the European convention on human rights came into force, his distant relatives are claiming they were not consulted and that their rights have been breached.

    An application for judicial review is to be lodged by lawyers in Leeds on behalf of the Plantagenet Alliance. They are bringing the action against the Ministry of Justice, which granted the archaeological excavation licence to Leicester University.  The licence stipulated that the king's remains should be "deposited in [Leicester's] Jewry Wall museum or else be re-interred at [the city's] St Martin's Cathedral or a burial ground in which interments may legally take place".

    That latitude of interpretation has stirred up a popular debate over the location of Richard III's final resting place. Any site is likely to attract significant tourist business.

    The Richard III Society – which promotes research into the 15th-century ruler – says its proposed tomb will be inside Leicester Cathedral. The cathedral authorities have already held discussions with architects over plans for a suitable memorial.

    Leicester city council is planning a permanent exhibition centre in a Victorian school building overlooking the council car park which now covers the foundations of the medieval Greyfriars church, demolished in the dissolution of the monasteries.

    The Greyfriars priests bravely claimed Richard's body, and buried him uncoffined and in a hastily dug grave but in a position of honour in their church, after his body was brought back from the battlefield slung naked over the saddle of a horse.  But the Yorkists are determined to repatriate his remains and have launched their campaign under the banner of article 8 of the European convention, which guarantees the right to a private and family life.

    DNA tests on the bones found buried in Leicester's Greyfriars car park last year proved that they belonged to Richard III, who died at the battle of Bosworth outside the city in 1485.

    Richard died without any known surviving children. The closest traced relative, Michael Ibsen, a Canadian furniture maker now living in London and a direct descendant of Richard's sister whose DNA helped identify the bones, has supported the plans for burial in Leicester. 

    The Plantagenet Alliance is a separate Ricardian fan club from the Richard III Society, which largely funded the search for the lost remains of the last Plantagenet king.

    According to the Leeds law firm Gordons, the relatives will argue, "amongst other things, that the Ministry of Justice failed to consult with them over the terms of the licence and that such failure constitutes a breach of article 8 of the European convention on human rights (the right to respect for private and family life)".

    Matthew Howarth, the partner leading the Gordons team, said: "We have now written officially to the Ministry of Justice and University of Leicester, notifying them that we plan to issue these claims. This enables us to obtain some further information from them relating to the matters in question.
    "We will follow up by issuing the judicial review and other proceedings as soon as possible, but certainly within the next few weeks."

    The Plantagenet Alliance, which claims 15 descendants of relatives of the king as members, insists York is the most appropriate place, pointing out that although he was born at Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire – which has also been suggested as a possible burial place – he grew up in Middleham in Yorkshire, was known as Richard of York before he claimed the throne on the death of his brother, and visited York several times during his reign.

    Stephen Nicolay, a 16th great-nephew of the monarch and member of the Plantagenet Alliance, said: "We have every hope that [we] will succeed in … our quest to have Richard's remains buried at the most appropriate site, York Minster."

    A University of Leicester spokesman said: "As the licence holder, the university is responsible for the location of reinterment. Our decision was, and remains, that Richard III should be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral.

    "Reinterment on the nearest consecrated ground is in keeping with good archaeological practice. Richard has lain in the shadow of St Martin's Cathedral, Leicester, for over 500 years.

    "Richard III is believed to have no living descendants. Any distant relations are therefore descended from his siblings. Statistically speaking, many tens of thousands of individuals alive today are descended in this way. There is no obligation to consult living relatives where remains are older than 100 years."

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    How Ironic: Global Warming Aiding Archaeology

    Hola darlings!  Well, global warming, or to use the more politically correct phrase, global climate change (of which I see plenty evidence here in SE Wisconsin over the past 40 plus years, for sure), is destroying priceless archaeological sites as fast as it is revealing them!  Damn! 

    Pre-Viking tunic found by glacier as warming aids archaeology
    Thu, 21 Mar 2013 16:41 GMT
    Source: reuters // Reuters
    By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
    OSLO, March 21 (Reuters) - A pre-Viking woollen tunic found beside a thawing glacier in south Norway shows how global warming is proving something of a boon for archaeology, scientists said on Thursday.

    The greenish-brown, loose-fitting outer clothing - suitable for a person up to about 176 cms (5 ft 9 inches) tall - was found 2,000 metres (6,560 ft) above sea level on what may have been a Roman-era trade route in south Norway.

    Carbon dating showed it was made around 300 AD.

    "It's worrying that glaciers are melting but it's exciting for us archaeologists," Lars Piloe, a Danish archaeologist who works on Norway's glaciers, said at the first public showing of the tunic, which has been studied since it was found in 2011.

    A Viking mitten dating from 800 AD and an ornate walking stick, a Bronze age leather shoe, ancient bows, and arrow heads used to hunt reindeer are also among 1,600 finds in Norway's southern mountains since thaws accelerated in 2006.

    "This is only the start," Piloe said, predicting many more finds.

    One ancient wooden arrow had a tiny shard from a seashell as a sharp tip in an intricate bit of craftsmanship.

    The 1991 discovery of Otzi, a prehistoric man who roamed the Alps 5,300 years ago between Austria and Italy, is the best known glacier find. In recent years, other finds have been made from Alaska to the Andes, many because glaciers are receding.

    The shrinkage is blamed on climate change, stoked by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

    The archaeologists said the tunic showed that Norway's Lendbreen glacier, where it was found, had not been so small since 300 AD. When exposed to air, untreated ancient fabrics can disintegrate in weeks because of insect and bacteria attacks.

    "The tunic was well used - it was repaired several times," said Marianne Vedeler, a conservation expert at Norway's Museum of Cultural History.

    The tunic is made of lamb's wool with a diamond pattern that had darkened with time. Only a handful of similar tunics have survived so long in Europe.

    The warming climate is have an impact elsewhere.

    Patrick Hunt, a Stanford University expert who is trying to find the forgotten route that Hannibal took over the Alps with elephants in a failed invasion of Italy in 218 BC, said the Alps were unusually clear of snow at 2,500 metres last summer.

    Receding snows are making searching easier.

    "I favour the Clapier-Savine Coche route (over the Alps) after having been on foot over at least 25 passes including all the other major candidates," he told Reuters by e-mail.

    The experts in Oslo said one puzzle was why anyone would take off a warm tunic by a glacier.
    One possibility was that the owner was suffering from cold in a snowstorm and grew confused with hypothermia, which sometimes makes suffers take off clothing because they wrongly feel hot. (Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Venus of Nimes Decapitated

    I can only read a few words of the French - a whole article, or even a sentence in local vernacular - nope!

    But someone or someones decided to cut the head off a beautiful ancient statue of Venus gracing the grounds of the archaelogical museum at Nimes.

    A Nîmes, la Vénus du musée archéologique mutilée
    20/03/2013, 06 h 00
    Des questions se posent après le vol de la tête de la célèbre statue au musée archéologique le vendredi 15 mars.

    Elle n’avait qu’un bras, et depuis les jours derniers, c’est la tête qui disparue. Volée à la suite d’un acte de vandalisme. L’acte a été découvert le vendredi 15 mars en fin d’après-midi, au moment de la fermeture du musée archéologique, boulevard Amiral-Courbet, site qui abritait cette Vénus de Nîmes, extraite en 1873 de fouilles opérées rue Pavée (actuellement rue Fernand-Pelloutier).
    Depuis, la pièce décapitée a été placée derrière une structure de grilles, et le musée est fermé au public. "Dès sa réouverture, il fera l’objet d’une surveillance accrue, et un gardien sera affecté en permanence dans la cour du cloître des Jésuites" a informé d’entrée Daniel-Jean Valade, adjoint à la culture, lors d’un point presse programmé hier. Dès le constat de cet acte, une plainte a été déposée par Dominique Darde, conservatrice du musée, tandis que l’information a été notifiée à l’Office central des biens culturels, lequel a transmis les éléments à Interpol.
    Cet acte de vandalisme pourrait être le fait d’au moins deux personnes
    Pour Dominique Darde, pas question d’extrapoler sur l’éventuelle valeur que la tête de la Vénus de Nîmes pourrait avoir sur le marché. Selon ses précisions, la statue, d’une taille initiale de 1,35 mètre, composée de marche ancien et moderne, et de plâtre, serait sans doute une œuvre d’importation, et avait été découverte brisée en plus d’une centaine de morceaux. Pièce ayant fait l’objet de nombreuses restaurations, elle "ne serait pas négociable". Et la tête disparue serait plutôt "mal recomposée". Rien à voir donc avec une autre Vénus, célébrissime entre toutes, et découverte sur l’île de Milo. Selon certaines déductions, cet acte de vandalisme pourrait être le fait d’au moins deux personnes. Les résultats du laboratoire expertisant les traces ADN seraient peut-être prochainement susceptibles de le confirmer.
    Tandis que la Vénus de Nîmes, toujours sur son socle, mais désormais décapitée, pose bien sûr la question de la surveillance des œuvres d’art dans les musées, les actes de vandalismes sont cependant, sur les divers sites nîmois, exceptionnels. Selon Daniel-Jean Valade, le dernier en date était l’œuvre de Pierre Pinoncelli. Véritable spécialiste des happenings culturels, ce peintre avait, au cours de l’été 1993, à Carré d’art, uriné sur “Fontaine “, pièce signée Marcel Duchamp, avant de lui asséner un violent coup de marteau.
    Dégradation gratuite ou action commandée ?
    À la suite du vol de la tête de la statue qui, même si elle ne figure pas parmi les antiquités majeures et précieuses du musée archéologique, fait évidemment partie du patrimoine cher aux Nîmois, l’interrogation sur l’identité et la démarche du (ou des) auteurs de cet acte demeure. Dégradation gratuite ou action commandée ? La tête disparue sera-t-elle retrouvée un jour ? Où et dans quel état ?
    Ou trône-t-elle déjà sur la cheminée d’un amateur passionné de la civilisation romaine ? Aucune piste pour l’heure. S’agit-il d’un pari stupide et inqualifiable (histoire de mesurer le degré d’efficacité de la surveillance des musées), ou ce vol est-il l’œuvre d’un visiteur fréquentant régulièrement le cloître des Jésuites ou celle d’un déséquilibré ? Toutes les hypothèses semblent envisageables, et le mystère restait encore, mardi soir, absolu.

    More on Ancient Chinese Coin Found in Kenya

    From The Smithsonian Online

    March 15, 2013 9:17 am

    Six Centuries Ago, Chinese Explorers Left This Coin Behind in Africa

    The 600-year-old coin is made of copper and silver and has a hole in the center. It’s called a Yongle Tongbao and was issued by Emperor Yongle, who reigned during the Ming Dynasty between the years 1403 to 1425 AD. It was found on Manda, an island in Kenya, announced researchers from The Field Museum and the University of Illinois, and it’s a tangible piece of evidence of Chinese exploration and trade in Africa, years before European explorers reached this part of the world.
    It’s easy to date the coin: it features the emperor’s name. Yongle was perhaps best know for starting the initial construction of Beijing’s Forbidden City, but he also sent huge fleets of ships, under the command of admiral Zheng He, out across the ocean to faraway lands.
    UCLA‘s International Institute explains:

    Upon the orders of the emperor Yongle and his successor, Xuande, Zheng He commanded seven expeditions, the first in the year 1405 and the last in 1430, which sailed from China to the west, reaching as far as the Cape of Good Hope. The object of the voyages was to display the glory and might of the Chinese Ming dynasty and to collect tribute from the “barbarians from beyond the seas.” Merchants also accompanied Zheng’s voyages, Wu explained, bringing with them silks and porcelain to trade for foreign luxuries such as spices and jewels and tropical woods.

    The researchers who found the coin describe Zheng He as “the Christopher Columbus of China.” But this admiral’s fleet was much larger than Columbus’. Zheng He commanded as many as 317 ships with 28,000 crew members; Columbus had just three ships and fewer than 100 crew to command.

    The Chinese expeditions started out closer to home, but a voyage that began in 1417 made it to Africa. The fleet’s treasure ships brought back strange animals—giraffes, zebras, and ostriches—to the court at home.

    After Yongle’s death, though, successors soon banned foreign expeditions and destroyed much of the documentation of the Zheng He’s voyages. The coin provides one of the few tangible links between Africa and China at that time. As for Manda, where the coin was discovered, that island was home to an advanced civilization for around 1,200 years, but it was abandoned in 1430 AD, never to be inhabited again.

    Gavin McKenzie - vindicated,  heh heh heh!
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