Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oh Oh...

Happy Holidays to all!  For those of you who want to see this year's Christmas tree and skip all the blah blah blah, drop down to the end of the post.

It has been bitterly cold here -- we are under one of those nasty Polar Vortexes and we have had about 16" of snow over a span of 9 days.  Today blossomed less cold but extremely windy.  So windy that gigantic drifts are forming everywhere on the streets, in my driveway, on my sidewalk, and on everyone else's too, and there isn't a thing we can do about it until the winds die down.  That may be on Thursday. Windchills today were hovering around 10 below zero F to zero F, and it felt positively balmy outside compared to the past three days when windchills were 20 to 30 below zero F.  We are running about 29 degrees F below normal temperatures for this time of year.  I dread to think what January and February (always the worst two months of winter) will bring - weatherwise and otherwise.

Not to be outdone by Mother Nature, Father Time and History is throwing up all kinds of vomit (literally) all over the world the past several months, and 2017 promises to continue the unabated horrors.  St. Januarius's miracle blood refused to liquify on December 16th this year.  No bueno.  When this has happened in the past, BAD THINGS have happened.  Now this could not possibly be connected to the U.S. gone mad election of that man who is NOT my dictator, could it...

Or could it?

7:19 a.m. E 

One of the most famous recurring miracles — even if one not quite sanctioned by the Catholic Church — is the liquefaction of the dried blood of San Gennaro, or St. Januarius, a bishop of Naples martyred around 305 A.D. and the city's patron saint. Starting in 1389, the vial of San Gennaro's blood typically turns liquid three times a year: on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May; on his saint's feast day, Sept. 19; and on Dec. 16, the day Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 1631. The blood liquefied on Sept. 19 this year, but not on Dec. 16. "In local lore, the failure of the blood to liquefy signals war, famine, disease, or other disaster," Catholic News Agency reports.

The relic failed to liquefy in September 1939, when World War II broke out; during a cholera outbreak in Naples in 1973; and in 1980, the year of a deadly earthquake, Italy's La Stampa newspaper says. But Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, the abbott of the Chapel of the Treasure of San Gennaro, took a philosophical view. "We must not think of disasters and calamities," he counseled, according to the ANSA news agency. "We are men of faith and we must pray." Peter Weber

Well, I've been praying my butt off for months to the Great Mother Goddess for a miracle to get rid of Herr Hitler Donald Trump a/k/a the Antichrist before he manages to start WWIII and the Zombie Apocalypse by doing something - anything - to strike him down and, preferably, Mike Pence too, all in one fell swoop.  I keep hoping for reports of miracle lightning bolts appearing out of the sky to strike them down.  But nope - nothing yet.  So -- it looks like we are going to suffer through some dire visitation from Fate during 2017, unless the Great Mother intervenes.

Here is this year's Christmas tree.  Not my best effort, heart just is not in it this year.  Talk to y'all after the holidays - maybe.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Are You Investigating Moving to Canada? Forget It - They Don't Want Us Unless We're Billionaires...

My commentary on the election results in my home country.  I hope we survive four years of this.  In the meantime, pee your pants laughing as I just did and remember I did not vote for this when the missiles start flying, darlings:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXIV: Goddesschess Prizes Awarded

Hola darlings!

Another successful edition of the HCCC is in the books.

Here is the rundown on $835 in Goddesschess prize money paid out to our winners this event.

The prize structure is open-ended; for instance, if ten chess femmes entered and played in the Open, and they each won all of their games, the total prize payout from Goddesschess would be $2,000 ($50 x 4 rounds x 10 femmes).  In the Open, a win by a female player is worth $50 and a draw is worth $25; in the Reserve, a win by a female player is worth $20 and a draw is worth $10.  The top female player in each Section also receives paid entry into the next HCCC if she chooses to enter.  Beginning a Challenge or two ago, we also instituted a perfect score prize for the chess femmes, one for each Section: $80 in the Open, $40 in the Reserve.  All Goddesschess prizes are in addition to what a player qualifies for under the tournament's prize structure.

Each October beginning with the HCCC in October 2013, in memory of Don McLean, Goddesschess' late webmaster, researcher, writer and reporter, we also fund a Don McLean memorial prize of $100 for the top male scorer in the Open and $50 for the top male scorer in the Reserve.

Open Section:
Anupama Rajendra won $150 (also won free entry to HCC XXV, $40)
Ritika Pandey won $100
Susanna Ulrich won $50
Megan Chen won $25

Reserve Section:
Simran Bhatia won $60 (also won free entry to HCC XXV, $30)
Madeline Weber won $50
Miriam Luevano won $40
Ellen Wanek won $40
Aradh Kaur won $40
Radhika Gupta won $40
Kai Mills won $20
Nika Kwon had zero points and thus did not win anything

There was no perfect score by any of the chess femmes this Tournament.

Don McLean Award:

Open Section:
Erik Sanntarius won $100

Reserve Section:
Sidharth Rane won $25
David Mertz won $25

Congratulations to all of the Goddesschess prize winners, and hope to have you all return for the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXV in April 2017!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXIV

Hola everyone!

The HCCC XXIV is now underway at the beautiful Olympia Resort Hotel in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  It is a long and grueling day - I know because I played in a few (a very few; my poor brain couldn't take the strain): Four rounds with the last round beginning at 6 p.m. (first round began at 10 a.m.).

Here's the breakdown of players from Southwest Chess Club's Tom Fogec ("CF's" are chess femmes):

Open--41 entered--4 CF's--9.8%

Reserve--37 entered--8 CF's--21.6%

Total--78 entered--12 CF's--15.4%

Good luck to all of the players, but you know I'm particularly rooting for those chess femmes!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Women's U.S. Chess Champion's Stand Against Iran Makes The Washington Post

National coverage - good for the current U.S. Women's Chess Champion and good for The Washington Post in publicizing her principled stand against this kind of religious tyranny and sexism!

The American Chess Champion Challenging Iran's Hijab Fetish

By Asra Q. Nomani and Masih Alinejad
October 5, 2016

Last week, FIDE, the international chess federation, quietly announced that Iran would host next year’s Women’s World Chess Championship, which means contestants will have to cover their hair with scarves to comply with a “modesty” law fundamentalist clerics put in place after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
As British Grandmaster Nigel Short spread the news, expressing concern, the 2016 U.S. champion, Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, a Georgian American, made a morally courageous move: Paikidze said she would skip the competition rather than comply with a law that denies women and girls fundamental human rights.
“I will NOT wear a hijab and support women’s oppression. Even if it means missing one of the most important competitions of my career,” the chess champion said. [visit link to read the article in its entirety].

Saturday, October 1, 2016

FIDE To Meet With Iran To Discuss "Player Comfort" At Women's World Chess Championship

The easy solution is for Iran to demonstrate how diplomatically magnanimous it is by waiving this horrid law's forced enactment on non-Muslim female visitors to the country.

What is the U.S. Chess Federation's position on this horrendous imposition of a Muslim religious rule on non-Muslim players?  It would be like all players coming into the United States to play in a chess tournament being forced to wear a crucifix around their necks upon pain of prosecution and threat of being jailed because - you know - this is the "Christian culture" of our country!

Well, you all know or should know that is horse manure and would never fly in the world today despite certain "christian" factions in the United States who would like to turn this country into a theocracy, but this is no different from Iran forcing a head scarf upon non-Muslim females who, if they want to play in the championship, have no choice but to go to Iran.  That sucks.

I hope ALL of the female players will choose not to play if they are required to wear a head scarf.

Female chess players protest wearing hijab at Iran world championship 

By Elizabeth Roberts, for CNN
Updated 7:35 AM ET, Fri September 30, 2016

(CNN) - Some of the world's top female chess players are upset that the next world championship will be held in Iran, where players are expected to wear head scarves.

The US women's champion, Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, will not be taking part in the event in Tehran next February due to her concern over the issue. Meanwhile former Pan American champion Carla Heredia -- who did not qualify for the Tehran tournament -- also called for the 64 women who are playing there to protest against the hijab rule.

"Iran has hosted chess tournaments before and women were always forced to wear a hijab," Paikidze-Barnes told CNN.

"We don't see this event being any different, forced hijab is the country's law." This, she said, is "religious and sexist discrimination."

She added: "If the venue of the championship is not changed, I will not be participating. I am deeply upset by this. I feel privileged to have qualified to represent the US at the Women's World Chess Championship and to not be able to due to religious, sexist, and political issues is very disappointing."

World Sports Issue

Meanwhile Heredia, originally from Ecuador and now living in Texas, said: "This is not only about 64 players, this is a world issue, a women's rights issue. That's why I'm speaking up. Sports should be free of this type of discrimination."
She said she hoped Iran would agree for women to play without hijabs without fear of punishment.

Islamic dress 

Islamic codes of behavior and dress are strictly enforced in Iran. In public places, women must cover their heads with a headscarf.

Susan Polger, the chairman of FIDE's Commission for Women's Chess, has so far not received any complaints from players on the matter. However, she said, if complaints come in, the commission will handle them "professionally and diplomatically."

Polger, who is retired from competing, said she has never had to play a tournament wearing a headscarf. However, she said that speaking personally, she would not have an issue with wearing one out of respect for a country's culture. [This isn't about "culture" - it's about misogynistic systemic oppression of females.  Of course, GM Polgar is - or should be - well aware of that.  She's been subject to plenty of misogynistic systemic oppression during her own playing career - like in 1986 ...]

Why Iran? 

Iran was the only country which made a proposal to host the event, a World Chess Federation (FIDE) spokeswoman told CNN in a statement. She added that since there were no objections from any of the other 150 national chess federations -- including the US (what she did tell you is that it's run by a majority of old men with 19th century ideas and the female players are NOT consulted] -- FIDE's General Assembly accepted the proposal.

FIDE is "reviewing all possible solutions for the players' comfort and will discuss all the issues with the organizers in Iran during meetings in the next few weeks," said the spokeswoman, adding that the organization had so far not received any complaints from players competing. [I don't believe this - but even if this is true, it would be because players fear making "official" complaints and being blacklisted by FIDE, which routinely punishes players who "do not go along."]

The irony that nobody is talking about is that if it were a men's knock-out championship, the male players wouldn't be forced to alter their appearances in any way.  Where is the fairness?  Where is the equality?

Top Female Chessplayers Threaten Boycott of World Championship Scheduled In Mysogynist Iran

My first knowledge of and comments about this outrage were made in the post immediately below this one earlier today, but really, I doubt my loyal readers would have to read my comments in order to know where I stand on this subject.
This article is from the Guardian:

'We won't wear hijabs': Chess queens threaten to boycott world championships in Iran after being told they MUST wear Islamic headscarfs

  • Female chess players will have to wear hijab at a 2017 tournament in Iran 

  • US champion Nazi Paikidze threatened to pull out of the games 
    in Tehran

  • Pan American champion Carla Heredia also voiced her anger at the move

  • All women in Iran must wear hijab if not they will face arrest or punishment

Top women chess players are threatening to boycott the world championship in Iran because they will be forced to wear hijabs.

Female Grandmasters will risk arrest if they do not cover up to compete in the strict Middle Eastern country due to host the knock-out tournament next year. 

The World Chess Federation, known by its French acronym Fide, has now been accused of failing to stand up for women’s rights after telling players to accept the laws and respect ‘cultural differences’, The Telegraph reported.

US women's champion Nazi Paikidze said: ‘It is absolutely unacceptable to host one of the most important women's tournaments in a venue where, to this day, women are forced to cover up with a hijab.

‘I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women's rights are being severely restricted in general. It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here.’

She added: ‘If the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event.’

The headscarves have been mandatory for women in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.  The strict regulation is enforced by the country’s ‘morality police’ and any woman found not wearing one in public faces arrest, a fine or public reprimand.

The UK government warns women travelling to Iran of the ‘strictly enforced’ dress code and says ladies must cover their heads with a scarf in public and wear trousers or long skirts.

Former Pan American champion Carla Heredia, from Ecuador, added: ‘No institution, no government, nor a Women's World Chess Championship should force women to wear or to take out a hijab.

‘This violates all what sports means. Sport should be free of discrimination by sex, religion and sexual orientation.’

American Grandmaster Susan Polgar, chairman of Fide's Commission for Women's Chess, has said the players need to respect ‘cultural differences’.

She said: ‘When I visited different places with different cultures, I like to show my respect by dressing up in their traditional style of clothing. No one asked me to do it. I just do it out of respect.

‘I personally would have no issues with wearing a head scarf (hijab) as long as it is the same to all players.

‘I cannot speak on behalf of others but from my personal conversations with various players in the past year, they had no real issues with it.’

Fide did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Mail.

Forced to Wear Hijab or Not Play Chess

There I was, quietly enjoying reading the news online this morning and all of a sudden I see this article (below).  What the BLEEP, I said out loud.  Now my day is ruined.

This is absolutely pathetic - and enraging.  And GM Susan Polgar - SHAME ON YOU.  You are endorsing FIDE screwing over female chessplayers just like it screwed you over in 1986.  Because - you know - it's the "culture."  Condoning and actively supporting the coercion of non-Muslim women to wear a symbol of religious repression and misogyny may be part of your "culture," GM Polgar, but it isn't part of mine.

Article at PJ Media


Sports competitors are often asked to conform to the rules of the countries they visit.  That might mean eating local cuisine or simply driving on the opposite side of the road.

For one elite chess player, embracing one country's religious customs isn't an option. And she may not be alone.

U.S. women's chess champion Nazi Paikidze-Barnes won't appear at February's world championships to be held in Tehran. Female players will be expected to wear a hijab, which is mandatory by Iranian law.  That isn't acceptable to her:
If the venue of the championship is not changed, I will not be participating. I am deeply upset by this. I feel privileged to have qualified to represent the US at the Women's World Chess Championship and to not be able to due to religious, sexist, and political issues is very disappointing.
Paikidze-Barnes' may have company soon enough. Former Pan American champion Carla Heredia wants the 64 female players slated to participate in the event to protest the mandatory hijab garb as well.

"Sports should be free of this type of discrimination," Heredia explained.

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 led to Iranian women being ordered to wear hijabs in public or face punishment. [Unless you were born, dear reader, AFTER the so-called "Revolution," and so are not aware that Iran once had a modern secular society in which women were equal partners, movers and shakers, women in Iran were never FORCED to wear a head covering.  The "Revolutionary Guard" actively sought a return to the DARK AGES for all females in Iran - you know - RULE BY THE PENIS.  Let's call it what it is - it's religious bigotry of Iranian males being forced upon non-Iranian non-Muslim females.  It is also a violation of everybody's fundamental right to have freedom of conscience and freedom of - and from - religion.  It is disgusting. ]

For Heredia, having the event in Iran means more than wearing hijabs. "The obligation to use hijab is one issue, another one is that women can't share room with a male if she is not married to him," she said.

Susan Polgar, chair of Fide's Commission for Women's Chess, said the hijab ruling shouldn't be an issue. It's a matter of respecting local culture, Polgar says, adding the dress code will apply to all players.

Sporting events are often ways for cultures to find common ground. Even as the Third Reich rose in Germany the world came together in Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games.

We live in much more fractured times. And examples of sexist treatment in Iran are now commonplace thanks to the web and media outlets.  It will be interesting to see if women's rights groups rally to the chess players' side on the matter. On the surface, it's a glaring example of infringing on a woman's right to free expression. Yet these very same groups aren't always vocal about misogynistic practices in the Islamic world.

Will the chess player's protest become a cause celebre among feminists? Or will they stay mostly silent and let the events play out over the coming weeks?
Either way, their actions may speak volumes.  

Note to author Christian Toto:  Don't confuse lack of knowledge about this OUTRAGE and therefore LACK OF ACTION with lack of caring on the part of women's organizations.  Chess is not a publicized sport in the United States and in general people who follow chess (mostly males) often refer dismissively to "women's chess," - you know, like it's the equivelent of second grade tiddly-winks.  

And, Christian Toto, until you've walked a mile in a professional female chessplayer's shoes, you have NO FRIGGING IDEA what you are talking about.  For too many female chessplayers, this event is the ONLY opportunity they will have of making some decent money, or even just getting out of their home countries for a once-in-a-lifetime trip, even if they get bounced out in the first round.  Principles are much easier to live by when one is well fed and has money in the bank.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Queen of Katwe" Movie Review in the New York Times

It was only a matter of time before this story was turned into a movie.  Some of you may remember some years back the big splash of publicity of young female chessplayer from Africa received - Phiona Mutesi.  I wrote about her in 2011.

She had her "15 minutes" of fame and was feasted and courted, and then it all faded away.  The movie should, however, renew interest in this young lady and the plight of other young women and girls just like her around the world.

Review: In 'Queen of Katwe,' a Pawn Finds Her Crown Through Chess

  •  NYT Critics’ Pick
  • Directed by Mira Nair
  • BiographyDramaSport
  • PG
  • 2h 4m

“Irresistible” is one of those adjectives that critics should handle with utmost care. No matter how universally charming or winning a movie or a performance might seem to be, there is always a chance that somebody, somewhere, will be able to resist it. For all I know that may be the case with “Queen of Katwe,” but if there is anyone out there capable of remaining unmoved by this true-life triumph-of-the-underdog sports story, I don’t think I want to meet that person. [Click the link to read the rest of the review.]

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Never-Ending Question About Female and Male Chessplayers

I think I missed this 2015 article, it's a good one.  It continues a discussion started at the Goddesschess website a long long time ago.

Where's Bobbi Fischer?
Hana Schank
July 13, 2015

Published online at Aeon

Little girls sign up to play chess in droves.
So why are so few of the world's top players women?

Here’s a story my father likes to tell. When I was five, my family spent several months living in Barbados. Since we were in a rental house, there weren’t many games or toys around, save for the beat-up travel checkers set we’d packed in our suitcase. The hours I didn’t spend in school learning to add a ‘u’ to the word color, or inspecting shells on the beach, I spent playing checkers, first with my family, and then, when they got sick of it, with the visitors who straggled through our cinderblock bungalow. One of them, a computer science professor, thought he’d humour my parents by playing with their sunburned kid. I destroyed him in two games. ‘I told you she was good,’ said my father. ‘Yes,’ said the professor, ‘but the second gameI was trying.’

I don’t remember this particular instance because it was unremarkable. I destroyed lots of people in checkers. The game turned out to be my gateway drug, and soon I began playing chess. Chess didn’t have the speed of checkers or the satisfying click the pieces made when you snapped one on top of the other and whispered: King me, but I liked that it had a story and characters and the ability to come back from near‑annihilation in a few swift moves. So when my school offered a chess club in fourth grade, I promptly signed up.

XXIV Hales Corners Chess Challenge!

Hola!  It's that time of year again, chess femmes, and I'm looking forward to the largest turn-out yet of female chess players at the October 15, 2016 Hales Corners Chess Challenge.  I hope you will come out and support this great Tournament.  Not to brag (ok, we're bragging), but the Challenges have a tremendous turn-out of female players.  Female chessplayers in the US and in the world are about 7.5% of all players.  The Challenges typically have a female turn-out about twice as large as that national/international average.  Now that's saying something.  Let's continue to break records, shall we, ladies!

As you know, Goddesschess has sponsored special prizes for female players since we first began supporting the Southwest Chess Club's wonderful Chess Challenge events, beginning with Challenge VIII way back before I started getting grey hair.  The prizes for female players are awarded IN ADDITION TO any other prizes which a player may win.  We have tweaked the prize structure a bit to try and entice more of  you to sign up to play in the Open section, instead of playing it safe in the Reserve :)  The prizes for female players in the Open are now more than 2x as large as in the Reserve.  Also continued are the recently introduced Perfect Score bonuses for the femmes playing in both Open and Reserve sections.  Come on, chess femmes, I know you can do it!

Gone but not forgotten is our former webmaster and the magician who regularly updated the old Goddesschess website on a weekly basis.  The website still exists, but has not been updated since Don McLean's untimely passing on October 12, 2012.  In Don's memory, Goddesschess provides special prizes in the October Challenges only for male players.  Yep, dudes, Goddesschess spreads the love once again in this October Challenge and gives you a chance to win a cool $100 in the Open or $50 in the reserve for the top-finishing male player.

PDF of the Tournament flyer and entry form.


Saturday, October 15, 2016
Two Sections – Open & Reserve (Under 1600)
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 October 13, 2016) 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

 1st—$325                     1st—$100
 2nd—$175                    2nd—$75
 A—$100                       D—$50
 B & Below—$75          E & Below—$40

SITE: Olympia Resort Hotel---1350 Royale Mile Road---Oconomowoc, WI 53066—1-800-558-9573 (mention Southwest Chess Club for $99 room rate)

ENTRIES TO: Robin Grochowski – 3835 E Morris Avenue—Cudahy, WI 53110 --- rgrochowski@wi.rr.com QUESTIONS TO: Tom Fogec -- 414-405-4207 (cell)
USCF I.D. Required -- Bring your own clocks – Sets and Boards Provided

Good luck to all!  I'll be following the action via periodic reports from my chess buddy Ellen Wanek, who will be playing, and also following updates on the Southwest Chess Club blog.

Genetic Clues to What Happened in Australia About 4,000 Years Ago???

See the post (below) I just did a few minutes ago:

Linguistic and Genetic Mystery in Australia, discussing an article in today's news that was reported at PhysOrg, from an article in Science.

So after posting that article, I'm scratching my head thinking about what could have happened to initiate this cultural and linguistic change that evidently started in northeastern Aboriginal Australian culture around 4,000 years ago.  This change left its mark by introducing one or more new stone tool technologies and altered the language markedly.  So great were the impacts of these changes that a few intrepid someones from this first impacted group set off on a grand adventure for reasons unknown to us, and these intrepid someones eventually reach enough isolated outposts of Aboriginal Australians scattered across the length and breadth of the continent.  They stayed long enough to pass along trace DNA into the populations, as well as the new language and stone work technology or technologies.  They either then died off from old age or moved on to find a new group of people, but their genetic footprints remained among the isolated population groups they had visited.

At least, this is the premise presented in the September 22, 2016 article.

My first thought was that there had to be some kind of outside contact that acted as an explosive wake-up call to the Aboriginal Australians in the northeast.  But with whom?  Being an incurable romantic, I immediately was thinking about some culture from the Mediterranean - like a Phoenician ship blown off course!  But that didn't fit the DNA evidence which, the article states, shows that the agents of change were genetically Aboriginal Australians from the northeast, not folks from off-continent.

Then I happened to scroll down a little bit - still on the same page as the original article at PhysOrg, and saw this article:

Gene flow from India to Australia about 4,000 years ago

January 14, 2013
It is certainly food for thought -- but how to reconcile the genetic findings in the study reported in the September 22, 2016 PhysOrg article with the Max Planck study, which states, in part:

"A study led by researchers of the  Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, now finds evidence of substantial gene flow between Indian populations and Australia about 4,000 years ago. In addition, the researchers found a common origin for Australian, New Guinean and the Philippine Mamanwa populations." [Emphasis added.]

So - you tell me, experts out there - what the hell is correct???

I'll tell you what I'm thinking right now.  I'm wondering if there is some kind of hocus-pocus going on with people tippy-toeing around genetic findings about Aboriginal Australian populations because of the current political explosiveness of what is being discovered as researchers continue to dig further into our pasts and genetic herstories.  And I'm wondering if the Max Planck genetic findings reported in the 2013 PhysOrg article are just full of shit and biased by a Germanic preference for the "Indo-European out of India" slant that the German school of scholars from the 19th century forward have traditionally applied to such things as the development of language and mathematics, etc. and even right down to asserting a northern Indian origin for the game of chess despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.  And I'm wondering what we will say about all of this ten years from now.  I hope to still be around in ten years, so I'll have to make a note to myself on one of my kitchen cabinets with a sticky to check back on this.

One rather, er, interesting explanation I came up with while further pondering this as I was typing away:  there was perhaps no genetic swap of DNA between visitors from India and the Aboriginal Australians in northeast Australia despite enough meetings for language communications to have developed and exchange of technologies and ideas because all the contacts/exchanges were solely between males.  Now, given the male penchant for discovering a skirt hiding 500 miles away from the nearest landing point, I find this somewhat unbelievable.  Another possibility is that the Aboriginal Australians killed any children born after such cultural exchanges that they believed might have been fathered by the "foreigners."  Hmmm...

Linguistic and Genetic Mystery in Australia

Hola darlings!  I'm back, at least for this post.  I'm still very busy doing "homey" things around Maison Newton and, frankly, have not felt much like posting.

I am still funding prizes, though, for the chess tournaments that Goddesschess helps to sponsor, rest assured.  The latest was the Montreal Open Championship, I'll write about that soon.  Upcoming is the - I lose count - the 20th-something Hales Corners Chess Challenge in October, going all the way back to Challenge VIII.  As this is the fall challenge and it is traditionally held around the anniversary of Don's death, in his memory we also fund prizes for the best male player in both the Open and Reserve sections.  More about this upcoming event later.

Okay - so this article jumped out at me this morning as I was doing my morning news check.  The wonderful thing about being retired is that I can take 2-3 hours every morning during coffee, breakfast, and feeding my various outdoor critters and other puttering about the house, to enjoy visiting multiple news sites to see what has happened while I was sleeping.  Is there anything more decadent than spending so much time just enjoying reading the news on my computer???  Okay, that was a rhetorical question...

The article is from PhysOrg.  I won't post the entire thing, it is lengthy, but worth the read.  The part I found most fascinating, however, was tucked away at the very end of the article in the last 4-5 paragraphs!

Unprecedented study of Aboriginal Australians points to one shared Out of Africa migration for modern humans

September 22, 2016 by Tom Kirk

I have questions about the methodology employed in this study but, of course, I'm by no means an expert and wouldn't ever claim to be!  From the article:

"...[Aboriginal] DNA extracted from saliva.

This was compared with existing genetic information about other populations. The researchers modelled the likely genetic impact of different human dispersals from Africa and towards Australia, looking for patterns that best matched the data they had acquired. Dr Marta Mirazon Lahr and Professor Robert Foley, both from the Leverhulme Centre, assisted in particular by analysing the likely correspondences between this newly-acquired genetic evidence and a wider framework of existing archaeological and anthropological evidence about early human population movements."
The "model" would only be as good as the information used to create it, of course, so that is a natural concern.  Interpretation of data is also subject to preconceived notions because, as we know, what we think we know about any given subject is not always correct, and an analysis based upon erroneous information is, itself, erroneous.

Map showing main findings from the paper. Credit: St John's College, Cambridge
So - the latest data and interpretation thereof point to NO multiple mass migrations out of Africa over time that led to the entire world being colonized by so-called "modern" man, and particularly, that Papuans and Aboriginal Australians were not descendants of a separate "out of Africa" event, but part of one event that occurred around 72,000 years ago, and THAT one event led to the populating of the entire globe with so-called "modern" man.

AND, another mysterious "hominin" has made a mysterious appearance, evidently somewhere in southeast Asia, that interbred with a portion of the "out of Africa modern humans" headed toward eventual settling in what was then an Australian supercontinent.  It was not specified in the article when this intermingling occurred, but it was evidently after 58,000 years ago, when ancestors of the Papuans and Aboriginal Australians split from the main "out of Africa" group.  The mysterious hominin DNA shows up in Aboriginal DNA, but researchers haven't found it anywhere else (yet).  It is not Denisovan, but it is somewhat like it?  Hmmm...  As this research is still in its early stages, it will be interesting to see how things develop as our understanding (and technology) continues to mature.

Now - here's the WILD CARD KICKER in the article:

[T]he research also offers an intriguing new perspective on how Aboriginal culture itself developed, raising the possibility of a mysterious, internal migration 4,000 years ago.
About 90% of Aboriginal communities today speak languages belonging to the "Pama-Nyungan" linguistic family. The study finds that all of these people are descendants of the founding population which diverged from the Papuans 37,000 years ago, then diverged further into genetically isolated communities.
This, however, throws up a long-established paradox. Language experts are adamant that Pama-Nyungan languages are much younger, dating back 4,000 years, and coinciding with the appearance of new stone technologies in the archaeological record.
Scientists have long puzzled over how – if these communities were completely isolated from each other and the rest of the world – they ended up sharing a language family that is much younger? The traditional answer has been that there was a second migration into Australia 4,000 years ago, by people speaking this language.
But the new research finds no evidence of this. Instead, the team uncovered signs of a tiny gene flow, indicating a small population movement from north-east Australia across the continent, potentially at the time the Pama-Nyungan language and new stone tool technologies appeared. [Emphasis added].
These intrepid travellers, who must have braved forbidding environmental barriers, were small in number, but had a significant, sweeping impact on the continent's culture. Mysteriously, however, the genetic evidence for them then disappears. In short, their influential language and culture survived – but they, as a distinctive group, did not.
"It's a really weird scenario," Willerslev said. "A few immigrants appear in different villages and communities around Australia. They change the way people speak and think; then they disappear, like ghosts. And people just carry on living in isolation the same way they always have. This may have happened for religious or cultural reasons that we can only speculate about. But in genetic terms, we have never seen anything like it before."
So what the hell happened here???  And no, darlings, I don't believe that it was "gods from outer-space," LOL!    But, clearly, SOMETHING happened that impacted a small group of genetically Aboriginal Australians in the northeast of the Australian continent around 2000 BCE that led to them developing a new language and a new technology and - not only that - but ALSO inspired them to undertake the daunting task of SPREADING WHAT THEY HAD LEARNED!

This is MASSIVE - EARTH-SHAKING LINGUISTIC AND CULTURE CHANGING EVENTS.  Bu we're only just NOW beginning tentative steps to unravelling the mystery, and it wasn't even planned -- the genetic "surprise" was entirely serendipitous.  Holy Hathor!

I wonder if Aboriginal legends would tell us anything about what might have happened.  Where to find Aboriginal Australian legends -- if any are even recorded???  Would Aboriginal Australians even consider revealing any information they might know to outsiders?  They have good reason not to!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Milwaukee Summer Challenge June 11 - 12, 2016

Hola everyone!

Milwaukee Summer Challenge V     
June 11-12, 2016, Pewaukee, WI
USCF Junior Grand Prix

5SS, G/120; d5 in top 3 sections: Master/Expert (closed section), U2000, U1500.
4SS, G/60; d6 in U1000 section.

Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee, WI; 1-800-247-6640;
(Mention Southwest Chess Club for $139 room rate, including Waterpark access).

EF: $40 in top 3 sections, $25 in U1000. All $5 more after 6/10.

$$GTD: Master/Expert = 1st-$300, 2nd-$200, 3rd-$100.  U2000=1st-$150, U1500=1st-$80, U1000=1st-$50.
Plus Goddesschess Prizes for females in all sections*.

Schedule:  Reg: 8:30-9:30.
Top 3 sections-Saturday June 11: 10:00 am, 2:30 pm, 7:00 pm, Sunday June 12: 10:00 am-3:00 pm.  U1000 Saturday June 11 (only): 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:30 pm, 6:00 pm.

Entries to: Robin Grochowski, 3835 E Morris Avenue, Cudahy, WI 53110 or rgrochowski@wi.rr.com.
Questions: TD Tom Fogec 414-405-4207.

*Goddess Chess Prizes for this event:
(1) in Master/Expert, $150 to top scoring female finisher provided at least 2 females play;
(2) in U2000, $100, to top scoring female finisher provided at least 2 females play;
(3) in U1500, $50, to top scoring female finisher provided at least 3 females play;
(4) in U1000, $25, to top scoring female finisher provided at least 3 females play;
There are no tie-breaks; if tie score the prize money is split; and
Must score a draw or win in any section to qualify for prize.

Jan Is Alive And Well And - Working Her Butt Off

Hola darlings!

Just a quick note to let you know that I'm still here.  Primarily one of my brothers and I have been working to get our mother's house ready for sale.  Our other four siblings have vanished into the ether, or so it seems.  I've been putting in 3 or 4 days a week of between 4 to 6 hours a day, not including a 2 hour bus round-trip when my brother isn't available to give me a ride (he is still working a full-time job).  This entire thing has been - overwhelming.

Today I started painting the plaster acanthus pattern crown molding in the living room and hallway from the living room leading to the bedrooms, bath, and kitchen.  I spent a couple hours yesterday going up and down a ladder taping off and I'm glad I did, because let me tell you, painting acanthus pattern crown molding is no easy task and I slopped paint all over the tape for the first 10 minutes or so of painting.  I worked on it off and on from 8:15 until 1 p.m. when I dashed out to catch a bus to start my journey home.  I was tired and my arms hurt from working "up" and "over" despite balancing precariously on the third rung of the step ladder to get me to eye level.  And, my left hand kept cramping from holding the brush for so long.  I do not believe I have dibbed and dabbed so much in my entire life.  So many nooks and crannies to get paint into!  And this is just the first coat (and may be the only coat, for I'll be damned if I get up on that ladder again to add a second coat of paint to molding in a house we're selling).  I managed to get two "lengths" of molding painted (one length and one width of the living room); one more each of length and width to go in the living room, and then the hallway area which, by the time I get there, I should be able to do with my eyes closed and paint with the brush between my toes.

I haven't forgotten chess, darlings.  I am sponsoring prizes for female participants in the Milwaukee Summer Chess Challenge hosted by the Southwest Chess Club.  I'll post more about that later - if I stay awake long enough and remember to do it; these days I'm running rather exhausted and decidedly distracted.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Well La Dee Da - Chess Makes the "Regular" News

Knock me off my bar stool with a feather, darlings.  Hola!  Got my coffee at 6 a.m. and sat down with my croissant to read the news and lo and behold - at Yahoo is a story about - gasp - chess!

Inside the Ultra-Competitive World of Professional Chess
Daniel Roberts, Yahoo Finance
Apr 29, 2016

I think you'll enjoy this video - it was included in the article.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Holy Hathor! Abrahamyan Blew It!

Final standings 2016 U.S. Women's Chess Championship:

Tatev Abrahamyan had the championship in her hand and she blew it.  All she had to do was control her nerves and win a game over a lower rated player.  But she lost.

Final standings:

1.  Paikidze, Nazi  8.5/11
2.  Abrahamyan, Tatev  8.0/11
3.  Zatonskih, Anna 7.0/11
4.  Mencova, Katerina  6.5/11
5.  Foisor, Sabina-Francesca  6.5/11
6.  Krush, Irina  6.0/11
7.  Eswaran, Ashritha  5.5/11
8.  Yu, Jennifer R.  5.0/11
9.  Yip, Carissa  4.5/11
10.  Gorti, Akshita  4.0/11
11.  Bykovtsev, Agata  3.0/11

Coverage a Chess Champs.

This is what I wrote today at Facebook to one of my chess buddies, Ellen Wanek, who does a lot for chess in the Sheboygan area:

The U.S. Women's Chess Championship is taking place in St. Louis right now, today is the final round and it will be an exciting one. Tatev Abrahamyan is poised to win her first ever U.S. title but Nazi Paikidze is within striking distance at 7.5; she will have the black pieces against Irina Krush, who is in the uncomfortable position of third place with 6.0, and right behind her is Anna Zatonskih also with 6.0, but she will have a much easier match against a lower rated player. It's possible Paikidze could win her game and in the unlikely event Abrahamyan loses her game, could take the title! Or, if Abrahamyan draws, she and Paikidze would go to a play-off. So - lots of drama in store. I will be glued to my computer listening to the live coverage on U.S. Chess Champs.

What a blow to Krush, wow, dropping all the way to 6th place. And Zatonskih proved yet again how tough she is, a remarkable performance when she needed to pull it through. And so, we have a brand new U.S. Women's Chess Champion.
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