Friday, April 4, 2014

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX!!!!!

Hola darlings!

Goddesschess is funding prizes for the chess femmes who participate in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX on April 12, 2014, woo woo!  The same as we've done for several previous challenges: in the Open, $40 for a win, $20 for a draw; in the Reserve, $20 for a win, $10 for a draw.  Entry fees to Challenge XX will also be paid for the top finishing female player in the Open and Reserve Sections, if she chooses to register.

Goddesschess is also once again providing special gift bags to the top female finisher in each of the Open and Reserve Sections.  I have so much fun shopping for chessly items.  Be it noted that my definition of "chessly items" has somewhat expanded over the past several Challenges, as such unique items are rather difficult to find...

Challenge XIX is being held at the gorgeous Olympia Resort, a totally new venue:

Olympia Resort Hotel, 1350 Royale Mile Rd., Oconomowoc, WI 53066; 1-800-558-9573 (mention Southwest Chess Club for $99 room rate).

Life Master Sheldon Gelbart will also be providing post-game analysis to anyone who inquires.  I've quite got over my fear of him, LOL!  His insight is incredible, and his enthusiasm for our wonderful game - I would put him up against anyone!  I have kibbutzed during many analyses he has provided to players at all levels during various Challenges, and have always walked away feeling so enlightened based on what he said.  If only I could remember it all...alas.

FORMAT: Four Round Swiss System - Four Games in One Day - USCF Rated

TIME CONTROL: Game in 60 Minutes; 6 second delay

ENTRY FEE: $40 - Open; $30 - Reserve
(both sections $5 more after April 9, 2014)

Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+: Entry fee subtracted from any prizes won

SITE REGISTRATION: 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

ROUNDS: 10 am -- 1 pm -- 3:30 pm -- 6 pm

Pairings by WinTD---No Computer Entries---No Smoking    

You can print out a registration form and mail it in with your check, or register in person on April 12, 2014 between 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.  See also Southwest Chess Club's blog information on Challenge XIX

I will be following reports of the action closely at the Southwest Chess Club's blog, where results and photos will be posted.  In Challenge XVIII, Goddesschess paid out a record amount of prize money to the Chess Femmes.  Can we do it again???

What Would You Do -- Return Treasures to Crimean Museums Loaned Out Before Russian Take-Over?

I know what I would do.  What would you do?

April 4, 2014

Dutch doubt where to return Crimean gold

Should Dutch museum holding Crimean gold and treasures give them back to Ukraine or Russia?

Associated Press
A spiraling torque from the second century A.D., is displayed as part of the exhibit called
The Crimea - Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- A Dutch historical museum got more than the bronze swords, golden helmets and precious gems it bargained for when it organized an exhibition on ancient treasures from Ukraine: it also inherited a diplomatic mess.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula a month after the Allard Pierson museum opened the "Crimea — Gold and secrets of the Black Sea" exhibition in February. Curators say now they are not sure where to return the objects on display when it ends in August.

Officials from both Ukraine and Russia insist the Crimean treasures must be returned to them.
"We're investigating who the legal owner is," said museum spokeswoman Amber van Schagen-Fayein Friday.

The museum has enlisted experts from the University of Amsterdam and the Dutch Foreign Ministry for advice on what to do now.

Among the most stunning objects in the exhibition are a solid gold Scythian helmet from the 4th century B.C. and a golden neck ornament from the second century A.D. that weigh more than a kilogram (two pounds) each.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry asked the Dutch ambassador in Kiev last week to guarantee the safe return of the collection to Ukraine.

The country's culture minister Evhen Nishchuk said it was his office that approved the exhibition in the first place — in one of the largest releases of the country's historical collections abroad ever authorized — and it must return via the same route.

"This is about the national security of the cultural heritage of the Ukrainian state," Nishchuk said in a statement.

But four of the five museums that contributed artifacts are located in Crimea.

Somewhat poignantly, a major theme of the exhibition is the region's history of frequent conquests and as a crossroads for different peoples and cultures: modern Sevastapol was once the site of a Greek colony that traded grain for pottery from the Athenian Empire.

In the grave of a noblewoman who lived on Crimea's west coast in the first century A.D., archaeologists recovered an Egyptian scarab, Roman pots from Italy and France, and a Han dynasty lacquer box thought to have come from China via the Silk Road.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's culture envoy Mikhail Shvydkoi said the treasures must be returned to Crimea — but he acknowledged the situation is awkward.

"Since Crimea became part of another country, we have got a legal issue here but we're going to find a solution for it," Shvydkoi said.

The exhibition was put together by one of the most prominent archaeologists of the region, Valentina Mordvintseva. In the exhibition documents, she is listed as based at the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences in Simferopol, Crimea.
Associated Press reporter Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this story from Moscow.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Grand Pacific Open

Hola everyone!  This year's Grand Pacific Open takes place April 18 - 21, 2014 in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

As you know, Goddesschess is funding prizes for the chess femmes again this year and providing a little extra to help defer some costs. 


It's just a few weeks away now, woo woo!  Someday perhaps I will be able to travel to British Columbia, I really would like to see that part of the world. 

So far there are 89 pre-registered players in the Premier and U1800 Sections, plus another 15 players in the YCC.  The highest rated female players are WGM Katerine Rohonyan, who lives in Seattle, Washington (USA) FIDE 2299, CFC 2351 and Alice Xiao, FIDE 1874, CFC 2007, living in Vancouver.  I did not see WFM Chouchanik Airapetian's name on the list, so she must have withdrawn.  Darn.  No re-match of the two top female players from last year's event after all.

But this also opens up the possibility for other chess femmes to win Goddesschess prizes!

Stay tuned.  As we are still quite a way out from final registration I won't have a full list of female competitors for awhile yet. Last year, Rohonyan finished in 4th place in the Open with 4.5/6, just out of tournament prize money (but she won top Goddesschess prize). 

There is a Facebook page. 

Rah rah rah, chess femmes!  I'm looking forward to following the action :)

Field of Menhirs at Mizos

Wow - I don't know why I didn't ever read before about menhirs in India!  I had no idea there were any there.  I've always thought of menhirs as Celtic -- in France, England, Wales and Scotland.  Guess now they're Indo-European...

Article at The Indian Express

Field of menhirs promises to shed new light on history of Mizos

Written by Adam Halliday | Aizawl | March 26, 2014 10:30 pm
Mizoram has made an entry into India’s archaeological map. In a first, the Ministry of Culture has declared a 9,000 sq m area dotted with several caves, and more than a hundred menhirs embossed with figures of humans, animals and weapons as an ancient site of national importance.

Some 170 menhirs, each at least as tall as a man, stand at the site at Champhai district’s Vangchhia village, which lies on the bank of the Tiau river that separates India and Myanmar.
Villagers call the site “Kawtchhuah Ropui” (The Great Gateway) and have protected these monuments for years in spite of not being sure what they represent or how they came to be there.
The Mizoram chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) along with the state’s Art & Culture Separtment has been studying the menhirs, seeking help from the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) in interpreting the embossing.
There has been no significant breakthrough yet, either in reading the carvings or in understanding why the menhirs are there.
The ministry’s notification declares the menhirs, as well as the ground on which they stand, the surrounding caves and forest as protected.
INTACH is hopeful that studies on the menhirs and the figures on them will shed more light on the history of the Mizos, much of which was never documented. The community followed an unwritten, oral tradition until a script was developed a little over a century ago.
Menhirs with similar images have also been found in parts of eastern Mizoram including at Chawngtlai village near Khawzawl town and, according to Mizo historian B Lalthangliana, in the Chin Hills of Myanmar.
Where the heck is Mizoram?  A quick Google search -- I had no idea that India had those northeastern provinces.  It's like that area was tacked on to the country as an afterthought. 


Richard III - Or Not?

Um, I thought they had done DNA testing???

Article at The Mail Online

Skeleton discovered under car park may NOT be Richard III: Experts cast doubt over accuracy of DNA and dating results

  • The findings have been challenged by history and archaeology experts
  • They said remains could belong to any victim of War of the Roses battles
  • Equally, the DNA match could be from any descendant of the king’s mother
  • Researchers are calling for a coroner’s court to consider all the evidence
  • Meanwhile, Leicester University said its findings all point to the same result and challenges these new claims
  • Remains were uncovered by in a car park in Leicester in September 2012

Spain Re-Examining Phoenician Settlement

Article at Past Horizons

Phoenician colony in southeast Spain re-examined

Egypt Pulling Publicity Stunt

If there are three priest-kings buried with the more treasures than Tut, I'll take a bite out of my wool beret and eat it! 

These are desperate times in Egypt.  We all know that tourism, the life-blood of modern Egypt, has fallen off some 95 to 98% during the continuing unrest of the past four years.  Egypt went from Mubarak (a dictator), to a weak coalition government (a form of democracy), to an Islamic majority (another dictatorship), to a military coup.  American tourists, who are considred "rich" by much of the world, are staying away in droves.  Well, who can blame them?  At least BBC is no longer broadcasting images of unemployed Egyptian males burning Americans in effigy and trampling the Stars and Stripes.  Like I would EVER spend an American penny in your country, dudes?  Ha!

I think this is bullshit - but, we'll see...

Archaeologists race to secure ancient burial site of three Egyptian kings that will make the treasure of Tutankhamun's tomb look like a 'display in Woolworths'

  • British archaeologist John Romer, 72, believes he knows location of tomb
  • It is believed three priest kings - Heridor, Piankh and Menkheperre - were buried there
  • Romer claims the site in Luxor, Egypt, contains magnificent treasures
  • Rival archaeology teams are now in a race to find and secure the tomb
By Suzannah Hills |

Origins of Ancient African Cattle

Ah ha!  Okay okay, you guys all know that I'm considered a nut case because I do believe there is more than just myth about Noah's Ark.  As to what kind of god would allow himself, the Supreme Creator of the Entire Universe, to get so pissed off at a bunch of puny humans who thumbed their noses at his teachings that he determined to not only punish them but also kill millions of innocent animals and infants, I leave that to theologians to debate.  Whether one believes in a great flood or not, I do believe there is more and more evidence becoming available all the time pointing to a sort of "explosion" of civilization coming out of the region of Ararat and mountains in Turkey and spreading then into the Fertile Crescent around 9500 BCE.  This is just another piece of the puzzle.

Article at Science Daily

Ancient African cattle first domesticated in Middle East, study reveals

Date:  March 28, 2014
Source:  University of Missouri - Columbia
Summary:  The genetic history of 134 cattle breeds from around the world has been completed by a group of researchers. In the process of completing this history, they found that ancient domesticated African cattle originated in the 'Fertile Crescent,' a region that covered modern day Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Israel.

Geneticist and anthropologists previously suspected that ancient Africans domesticated cattle native to the African continent nearly 10,000 years ago. Now, a team of University of Missouri researchers has completed the genetic history of 134 cattle breeds from around the world. In the process of completing this history, they found that ancient domesticated African cattle originated in the "Fertile Crescent," a region that covered modern day Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Israel.

Lead researcher Jared Decker, an assistant professor of animal science in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, says the genetics of these African cattle breeds are similar to those of cattle first domesticated in the Middle East nearly 10,000 years ago, proving that those cattle were brought to Africa as farmers migrated south. Those cattle then interbred with wild cattle, or aurochs, which were native to the region, and changed their genetic makeup enough to confuse geneticists.

In their study published in PLOS Genetics, Decker and a team of international researchers compared the similarities and differences among the genetics of many different cattle breeds to determine how the breeds are related. Their research found mixing of native cattle in Indonesia with imports from India, European and African cattle in Italy and Spain, and European and Asian cattle in Korea and Japan. The MU researchers also determined that unique American cattle breeds, such as Texas longhorns, are the result of breeding between Spanish cattle, transported from Europe by explorers in the 16th century, and breeds of Zebu, or Brahman cattle from India imported into the U.S. from Brazil in the late 1800s. Decker says these discoveries help advance genetics and uncover important information about human history.

"In many ways, the history of cattle genetics mirrors human history," Decker said. "In the case of African cattle, anthropologists and geneticists used to suspect that domesticated African cattle were native to the continent, when in fact, they were brought by migrating peoples thousands of years ago. By better understanding the history of the animals we domesticate, we can better understand ourselves."

Decker also said that cattle breeding is important for animal farmers looking to maximize their herds' meat and dairy production. He says that understanding the genetic history of cattle breeds is important when looking for solutions to agricultural issues.

"Now that we have this more complete genetic history of cattle worldwide, we can better understand the diversity of the species," Decker said. "By understanding the variations present, we can improve cattle for agricultural purposes, whether that is through breeding more disease-resistant animals or finding ways to increase dairy or beef production."

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Jared E. Decker, Stephanie D. McKay, Megan M. Rolf, JaeWoo Kim, Antonio Molina Alcalá, Tad S. Sonstegard, Olivier Hanotte, Anders Götherström, Christopher M. Seabury, Lisa Praharani, Masroor Ellahi Babar, Luciana Correia de Almeida Regitano, Mehmet Ali Yildiz, Michael P. Heaton, Wan-Sheng Liu, Chu-Zhao Lei, James M. Reecy, Muhammad Saif-Ur-Rehman, Robert D. Schnabel, Jeremy F. Taylor. Worldwide Patterns of Ancestry, Divergence, and Admixture in Domesticated Cattle. PLoS Genetics, 2014; 10 (3): e1004254 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004254

Cite This Page:
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Ancient African cattle first domesticated in Middle East, study reveals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2014.

Did you hear the one about Archangel Michael and the Sudanese Lady...

Well!  I could say plenty about this but will suffice to suggest that the tattooing of the name "Michael" on her inner thigh may have been meant to be a warning to maintain chastity, and not for "protection" as the story alleges; and that perhaps this branding was a predecessor to the later more grotestque form of assuring a woman's "virtue" by cutting off her clitoris.  Then again, an entirely different interepretation could be given to this tattoo:

Part of image of female mummy from article.
I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that this could also represent a vulva and a phallic symbol, incorporating a clever bit of old magic by using the cross (which predates Christianity by thousands of years) as the phallic symbol.  Hmmm...

Startling DIscovery: Tattoo found on inner thigh of 1,300-yr-old Sudanese mummy

So-Called "Neanderthal" and So-Called "Modern Human" DNA - This Story Ain't Going Away

This just makes me laugh, LOL!  So-called "evolution" is getting more complicated by the second?  Gee, I wonder why?  Maybe because the entire "theory" needs to be junked...

Photo Adapted from: Tetra Images/Alamy (from article)

Article from

Human evolution: The Neanderthal in the family

Thirty years after the study of ancient DNA began, it promises to upend our view of the past.
An equine oddity with the head of a zebra and the rump of a donkey, the last quagga (Equus quagga quagga) died in 1883. [What a dirty rotten shame that we let that happen then, and we're still letting it happen today.  When a species goes extinct, do we not also lose a piece of our own herstory?]  A century later, researchers published1 around 200 nucleotides sequenced from a 140-year-old piece of quagga muscle. Those scraps of DNA — the first genetic secrets pulled from a long-dead organism — revealed that the quagga was distinct from the mountain zebra (Equus zebra).
More significantly, the research showed that from then on, examining fossils would no longer be the only way to probe extinct life. “If the long-term survival of DNA proves to be a general phenomenon,” geneticists Russell Higuchi and Allan Wilson of the University of California, Berkeley, and their colleagues noted in their quagga paper1, “several fields including palaeontology, evolutionary biology, archaeology and forensic science may benefit.”
At first, progress was fitful. Concerns over the authenticity of ancient-DNA research fuelled schisms in the field and deep scepticism outside it. But this has faded, thanks to laboratory rigour that borders on paranoia and sequencing techniques that help researchers to identify and exclude contaminating modern DNA.
These advances have fostered an ancient-genomics boom. In the past year, researchers have unveiled the two oldest genomes on record: those of a horse that had been buried in Canadian permafrost for around 700,000 years2, and of a roughly 400,000-year-old human relative from a Spanish cavern3. A Neanderthal sequence every bit as complete and accurate as a contemporary human genome has been released4, as has the genome of a Siberian child connecting Native Americans to Europeans5.
Enabling this rush are technological improvements in isolating, sequencing and interpreting the time-ravaged DNA strands in ancient remains such as bones, teeth and hair. Pioneers are obtaining DNA from ever older and more degraded remains, and gleaning insight about long-dead humans and other creatures. And now ancient DNA is set to move from the clean-rooms of specialists to the labs of archaeologists, population geneticists and others. Thirty years after the quagga led the way, Nature looks to the field's future.

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