Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Happy Holidays 2019!

Hola.  I know it's been awhile since I last posted - sorry, I've been very busy with family and domestic matters.  Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, Happy Winter Solstice to those who do not!  Now daylight will increase each day, hooray! 

I'm sentimental (as long-time readers know).  A souvenir kilt pin from Castle Duart, home of the McClean clan in Scotland, which Mr. Don gifted to me on one Christmas many years ago.  And the Nefertiti charm that goes on a necklace was also a gift from him one Christmas.  They have been on my Christmas tree each year since as a pairing once I had both.  Appropriately of course, the Knight's sword from Duart Castle is in a lower position in homage to the Queen of Egypt.  I miss him very much but I have happy memories of Christmases past spent with him.

It's a new tree this year, I retired the 6 1/2 footer to the recycling center and bought this 5 foot tall "real tree" version which features PE branches that are soft, pliable and look very much like the branches and tips on an actual pine tree.  It's standing on a 24" inch tall table so I don't feel like a giant when I'm standing near it :)  I decided that next year I'll add another 240 lights, it's not quite bright enough for my liking.  I like a runway bright Christmas tree!

Tonight I will enjoy a fire in the fireplace as I feast on roasted beef and cheesy potato casserole, with turtle cheesecake for dessert.  YUM!  I didn't make the cheesecake but I did make the beef (slow cooked over 8 hours in a sweet red wine sauce with mushrooms, onions and carrots yesterday) and later today I will make the casserole.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

2019 Women's Grand Prix - Skolkovo

Event held September 10 - 23, 2019

Final Cross-Table/Results:

Skolkovo WGP 2019 Skolkovo RUS (RUS), 10-23 ix 2019cat. XI (2512)
1.Koneru, HumpygIND2560*½½½11½½1½1182682
2.Goryachkina, AleksandragRUS2564½*½½½½11½½112639
3.Ju, WenjungCHN2576½½*0½1½111½12638
4.Lagno, KaterynagRUS2545½½1*½0½½½½112573
5.Paehtz, ElisabethmGER24790½½½*1½½1½½½62550
6.Gunina, ValentinagRUS25020½010*111½½½62548
7.Harika, DronavalligIND2503½0½½½0*½01½152476
8.Kosteniuk, AlexandragRUS2495½00½½0½*1½012448
9.Kashlinskaya, AlinamRUS24870½0½0010*½112448
10.Sebag, MariegFRA2450½½0½½½0½½*½042415
11.Stefanova, AntoanetagBUL249100½0½½½10½*½42411
12.Cramling, PiagSWE24870000½½0001½*2302
Is a woman other than Judit Polgar ever going to break 2700?  They're not going to do it playing chess against other 2400 - 2500 ELOs.

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXX - Wrap-Up

As promised to Ellen!

Alice Down the Toilet Looking Glass.
Missed Connections.
Aching Legs.
Leave It to Ellen.

Alice Down the Toilet Looking Glass.
Oh Alice, Alice, Alice.  I don't know how many people these days actually read Alice in Wonderland and the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, but I vaguely remember having at least parts of it read to me when I was very little.  However, Alice Through the Looking Glass in particular, should be revisited in adulthood - after you've had a few years of experience as a "grown-up" behind you!  (Read "The 64-Square Grid Design of 'Through the Looking Glass'," at the Smithsonian website.

Kudos to my chess buddy Ellen who, during our reunion (it's probably been 5 or 6 years since I've last seen her) at HCCC XXX told me a story that would raise the hairs on the back of any chess femme's neck!  She went to the restroom and stopped at the counter where the mirror is over the sinks to check her hair, when lo and behold, from behind out of the area where the stalls are saunters a man who stops in his tracks, and then says "this is the Men's Room."


To her credit, Ellen left the Men's Room after explaining (briefly, very briefly) that she'd made a mistake.  To be fair, however, before I heard about Ellen's, er, mishap, when I was looking for the Ladies' Room I had to look twice and then again at the signs on the doors to make sure that the door I'd decided to go through was, indeed, for women.  The symbols on the doors of the rest rooms are, shall we say, somewhat ambiguous...  Ellen thought she was going into a "shared" bathroom.  Well - I will keep my opinion of those in a public place filled with strangers (not family and friends), to myself.  A shared bathroom at home is one thing.  A shared bathroom in a public accommodation is entirely another.  Ahem.

If it had been me I probably would have accused the man of being a liar and attempted to use my "Go ahead, make my day" moves on him.  Okay - the less said about that, the better, but there was this one time during a long hot summer and during a long wait at an extremely crowded bus stop I was approached by a grifter and - oh, well, never mind...

For her calmness under, er, fire, Ellen has won the "Alice Made a White Queen" award!

Above, image courtesy of  That's Ellen, er, Alice, in the center, with her new White Queen crown and sceptre!

Missed Connections. 
Part of my contribution toward lunch was to do some online research to find nearby or easy to reach by car restaurants in the area.  I'd concentrated on the area around 27th and College.  But the leader of our small pack and driver (Ellen's husband) had different ideas.  He headed straight toward El Fuego Mexican Restaurant on 9th and Layton.  I haven't been there in years, and was surprised at how much it had changed.  For one thing, much much larger than the restaurant I remembered.  And on the inside, along a wall of glass windows, one overlooks a large waterfall (not kidding - it's humongous) flanked by two large fireplaces on a patio dining area, complete with covered bar area on one side of the large space!  We had an excellent meal and as is my wont these days  - or my woe, depending upon how you look at it - I wasn't able to finish my entire platter of delicious food (two large beef tacos with all the fixings and sour cream, beans and rice) and glass of wine.  I chose the wine.  Okay - you'll understand when you're older.

The patio area and waterfall at El Fuego Restaurant, Milwaukee, WI.

On the way to the front desk to pay the bill, Ellen and I were walking in front of her husband.  I'm sure Ellen said we're going to the ladies' room and in we went.  Meanwhile, he paid the tab.  Ellen and I finished and didn't see her husband when we came out of the restroom so we headed to the door and out into the parking lot, chatting and laughing all the way.  We stood out there for awhile, waiting for Ellen's husband to finish inside the restaurant.  I'm not sure how much time passed as we were busy chattering away and laughing, but eventually we noticed that our driver hadn't yet appeared out of the restaurant.  Should we go look for him?  Ellen suggested calling him on her cell phone, and I had to laugh.  Geez Louise!  Let's go look for him inside - come on, I said.  And in we went, laughing all the way.  Sure enough, there he was, standing by the front desk area looking rather, er, forlorn.  Yes, forlorn is a good word to use in this situation.

Simultaneous outbursts of WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, WE/I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU.  Oh yes, a good laugh was had by all.  Al thought we'd been in the Ladies Room all that time.  Well, I'm not sure what Ellen was thinking, I thought perhaps Al had taken a wrong turn somewhere and gone out a back door and was looking for the car...  Of all the dumb things one could manage to do, we managed to do just about the dumbest, and had a good laugh about it.

Aching Legs.
Oh my poor 68 year old aching legs.  There was no Skittles Room to which to retire and relax, and very few places to sit for parents and friends attending the tournament.  Every available chair was taken.  And trust me darlings, if I'd have gone down on to the carpet and sat like some of the younger and more vital (and flexible) players) were doing as they finished up their games, one by one, it would have taken at least two strong men (possibly three) to pull me up and then walk me back and forth up and down a hallway several times to make sure everything was still in good working order, well, at least enough for me to make it to a taxi.  LOL!

Leave It to Ellen.
After the second round, I was ready to call it quits.  I hadn't even intended to stay that long, initially.  My plan was to show up sometime during Round 1, go out to lunch with Ellen and Al, and then leave to go back home during Round 2.  But Ellen had other plans...

For one thing, she wanted me to meet the parents of one of the chess femmes.  She introduced me to them after Round 2, by which time my legs felt like each of them weighed as least as much as 10 tons of concrete.  It seems Ellen wanted to introduce me to everybody, but I figured by then's most people had pretty much figured out that I was one of those Goddesschess chicks - those who didn't vaguely recognize me from tournaments past.  And Ellen wanted to get a group photo of all of the players - and me.  I sort of skulked along behind her because (1) I am not generally very keen on having my photo taken, as a woman of "a certain age" (which of course I blew my cover earlier in this article so you know how old I am anyway, but hey - don't you DARE bring it up to my face!) and (2) I was hoping to make a break for it, but these days try and find a public telephone call to make a call.  Non-existent!  And since I am still firmly rooted in 1951, the year I was born (there I go again, blowing my disguise as a younger woman, ha!) I don't own a cell phone and refuse to get one of those nuisance thingies.  But of course I borrowed one of those nuisance thingies to call a cab for myself.  No - not Uber, and not Lyft.  A genuine Yellow Cab.    Yes, I am definitely rooted to my old fashioned ways.  Anyway, I was sorta/kinda hoping I could just fade out of the picture and suddenly not be there on the premises when Ellen was ready to have our group photo taken.

But she obviously read my mind.  Well, she is the mother of grown children and moms are really good at reading people's minds.  Drat.  She more or less kept me in tow and just after she disappeared into the playing room to hunt down some of the missing chess femmes, I thought I could make a break for it.  I was still on hold on Al's borrowed cell phone while I waited for the next available Yellow Cab local operator to take my pick up address and destination and I turned to head back down the hallway where we'd left Al when Ellen came flying out in her pixie fairy way from the playing room to yank my reluctant body in there behind her.  Sigh.  No escape, unless maybe I fainted???...

Alas, too late. The pics were snapped, two of them, one from further away and one from closer.  The one that was published here was the one taken closer.  If I didn't have dark hair, one might mistake me for a Pillsbury Dough Girl.  But it was a respectable photo.  I sure wish I was 21 and 110 pounds in a halter top disco dress again.  Sigh.

The End.
So there you have it, folks, the entire sordid story of my proving to a new generation of chessplayers (and proving to some older ones who may have forgotten) that yes, I am actually a real person, still alive, and yes, Goddesschess is actually a real thing.  We are a tiny but mighty group.  The End (for now).

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXX, October 5, 2019

The scores are now up at the USCF website.

In the Open, the chess femmes did very well, I'm so pleased and happy for them!  [Inserted at 7:10 p.m.]:  By the way, here's a photo of 7 of the 8 chess femmes who participated in HCCC XXX, plus yours truly - yes, that's me trying to look important with a borrowed cell phone while I was on hold waiting for the next available booker from Yellow Cab to get my ride home, LOL:

In clear 1st place, Susanna Ulrich (2177) with a perfect score of 4.0.  Ms. Ulrich thus won $200 for her 4 wins from Goddesschess and an extra $100 for the Goddesschess perfect score prize, Goddesschess paid admission to the next HCCC event should she register to play, in addition to whatever prize money she qualified for otherwise. 

Showing in 8th place, Madeline Weber (1781) with a score of 3.0.  Ms. Weber thus won $150 for her 3 wins from Goddesschess, in addition to whatever prize money she qualified for otherwise.

In 18th place, Gauri Menon (1920) with a score of 1.5.  Ms. Menon won Goddesschess prizes of $75 ($50 for 1 win and $25 for 1 draw).

In 29th place, Nandini Prakash (1643).  Ms. Prakash did not win any points but she played 3 rounds, and has my admiration for her grit and determination.  I know what it's like.

Erik Santarius (2453) finished in 2nd place overall and therefore it appears he won the Goddesschess $100 Don McClean Award as the top male finisher in the Open section.

In the Reserve, we had a little bit lower chess femme turnout than usual, but many familiar names and faces nonetheless:

In 8th place overall, Simran Bhatia (1481) with a score of 3.0.  Ms. Bhatia thus won $60 for her 3 wins ($40 for 2 wins and $20 for 2 draws) from Goddesschess and as the top finishing female in the Reserve Section Goddesschess paid admission to the next HCCC event should she register to play, in addition to whatever prize money she qualified for otherwise.

In 14th place, Radhika Gupta (1409) with a score of 2.0.  Ms. Gupta won Goddesschess prizes of $40 ($20 for 1 win and $20 for 2 draws), in addition to whatever prize money she qualified for otherwise.

In 15th place, Sandra R. Hoffman (1393) with a score of 2.0.  Ms. Hoffman won Goddesschess prizes of $40 ($20 for 2 wins), in addition to whatever prize money she qualified for otherwise.

In 28th place, my chess buddy Ellen Wanek (1171) with a score of 1.0.  Ellen won $20 for 1 win.

Franzein Halipa, from the Philippines and now residing in Wisconsin, came into the game unrated and leaves with a provisional rating of 1840, with a perfect score of 4.0 and finishing overall in first place.  I had the pleasure of meeting this player's mother and had a lovely long chat with her during the first game before the lunch break.  For his performance Mr. Halipa won $50 for the Reserve Don McLean Award, in addition to whatever prize money he qualified for otherwise.

[Edited to correct prizes awarded in the Reserve Section and add two chess femmes in the Open Section]. Congratulations to all of the players.  Total Goddesschess prizes awarded (including prepaid entry for HCCC XXXI for the top finishing chess femmes in the Open and Reserve, should they choose to play), totalled $925.

I had a wonderful time chatting with some of you and meeting some of your parents.  Chess folks are the best folks!

More later...

What Would Cleopatra Do???

I love this article from author Jennifer Wright, who wrote We Came First: Relationship Advice from Women Who Have Been There, from The Washington Post article published in the October 2, 2019 issue.  

Cleopatra was the queen of making the first move: Relationship lessons from women throughout history.

By the way, Frida Kahlo's advice worked very well for Mr. Don and I, but we didn't live in separate but connected homes next store to each other, we lived in different countries, har!  We had an incredible relationship as a result, our quality time together 2 or 3 times a year was the best, and the rest of the time we didn't get on each other's nerves and I didn't have to continually feed the man, who was a food beast with two hollow legs growing underground all the way through the globe to China.  

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXX, October 5, 2019

Hola everybody!

Good to See Ya, Good to See Ya.
Alice Down the Toilet Looking Glass.
Missed Connections.
Aching Legs.
Leave It to Ellen.
Thank Goodness for Taxis (the pre-Uber kind).

That's the summary of my day at the Crowne Plaza Hotel where the 30th rendition of the Hales Corners Chess Challenge was held today. Some details below, more details tomorrow.

NO SKITTLES ROOM.  Not sure how that can be accomplished, but I hope that can be addressed before the next HCCC - my legs cannot take standing around for hours waiting for games to be completed.  There literally was no place to sit and be comfortable while waiting for players to finish their games, and nowhere to hang out in between rounds except in the hallways - or in one's car (I don't have one of those - refer to previous mention of taxis above).  I'm really happy I'd decided before I left the house this morning not to bring my computer - I would have had nowhere to use it!  I saw some of the younger players sprawled about on the floors here and there, but I can't do that, folks.  Once I'm down that low, I'm out for the count and it would take 2 or 3 strong men to get me back up on my feet, LOL!  Me strong like bull, but my knees -- not so much.  And you need strength in your knees to move from sitting on the ground to a standing up position unless you have something to hold on to and clamber up.  Just wait until you're 68 - you'll see...

We did get a group photo of the chess femmes and moi, with a borrowed cell phone glued to one ear while I was on hold waiting to connect with a Yellow Cab.  Such is life.  Ellen showed me one of the photos, but thank Goddess I didn't have my glasses on - it was a colored blur where I could tell it was people standing in a group, but that's all I could really make out without my Walgreens reader on.  I would have probably grabbed her phone away from her and figured out how to hit the delete button before she could snatch it back if I'd actually been able to see that photo! 

I left about 20 minutes after Round 3 began.  I can report that while Round 1 seemed to wrap up fairly quickly in both the Open and Reserve sections, Round 2 was very much different.  Players were fighting right up until the end of their time, or close to it. 

I love taxis!  The ride was less than 20 minutes (both ways) in a spotlessly clean car, with a driver I know is licensed as well as licensed by the city as the owner of a taxi license, $21 plus I always tip 20%.  For that, I connected with a very nice driver whom I can now actually call directly and make arrangements with him for transportation wherever and whenever I need it, with a wait time of 15-to 20 minutes, no more and often less.  He's driven in Milwaukee since 1991 - pre GPS days - so he knows this city and surrounding areas like the back of his hand.  I will definitely be calling him for future rides.  Yes, I'm sure Uber and Lyft are less expensive, but in all the years I've taken Yellow Cabs, I've never had any issues and was never frightened for my life like some of the scary stories I've read about people's experiences in Uber and Lyft services.  Call it an old lady thang - I like the thought of being safe as possible. 

I will report more tomorrow, once I have the photos emailed from Ellen in my hot little hands and know the final results for the chess femmes.  It was good seeing Robin and being introduced to Chris Wainscott, Rachel Ulrich was taking time from her busy sophomore in college schedule to visit the tournament and support sister Susan, and Mr. Ulrich was there as well.  I hadn't seen them for several years.  I met some other parents and stayed long enough to prove that yes, there actually is a real person known as Jan Newton who acts as the official "voice" for Goddesschess.  I think the last event I played in (of 2 or possibly 3 - the extent of my "tournament playing" career) may have been in either 2012 or 2013, so its been awhile since this unforgettable (ahem) face was last seen in the sacred halls of a HCCC event.  Ta for now, darlings!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The End of the Golden Era of Chess

From The Atlantic

The recent passing of Pal Benko and Shelby Lyman draws the curtain on an American period that produced some of the game’s most sparkling play.

By Peter Nicholas
September 5, 2019

Outside the cloistered world that serious chess players inhabit, few would have taken any special note of the death last month of Pal Benko, at age 91.(1)  Benko was a top grand master and one of the game’s great artists. After defecting from his native Hungary in 1957, he moved to the United States, competing in tournaments and composing ingenious puzzles that introduced generations of young players to the mysteries of the endgame.

But his singular contribution to American chess wasn’t at the board. Without Benko, there might not have been Bobby Fischer—at least not the Fischer who delivered the U.S. perhaps its greatest cultural victory of the Cold War. His competitive career fading, Benko stepped aside in 1970 and let the younger, more talented Fischer take his place in the competition to determine a challenger for the reigning world champion, Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. Fischer, who had been playing sporadically throughout the 1960s and who seemed on the brink of quitting the game altogether, tore through the qualifying tournaments before dethroning Spassky in a 1972 match that riveted America.

CreditCreditAssociated Press

Benko and Fischer hadn’t always been on the best of terms. Playing in a tournament in 1962 in the Caribbean, they squabbled one night and got into a fistfight—“the first fistfight ever recorded by two grandmasters,” Frank Brady wrote in his Fischer biography, Endgame. But they reconciled and stayed friends to the end. “Pal felt that Bobby could change the chess world—which Bobby did—and if Bobby became world champion, that would benefit the whole game,” Susan Polgar, a friend of both men and a former women’s world chess champion, told me. “His own personal interest was secondary to the bigger picture."

Another chess master who was central to the Fischer story also died last month: Shelby Lyman.(2)  Though not a world-class player, Lyman did more to popularize chess in America than anyone not named Bobby Fischer. He was teaching chess in New York when one of his students, a TV executive, tapped him to host a PBS show covering the Fischer-Spassky match. Lyman proved a natural showman, explaining densely complicated chess positions to TV viewers, many of whom thought of a fork only as an eating utensil. (In chess, it’s a move where a single piece makes at least two simultaneous attacks.) Like tons of other kids at the time, I’d turn to Channel 13 in New York that summer and follow Lyman’s commentary move by move, sparking a lifelong interest in the game. After becoming a journalist, I wrote about Lyman, and from time to time we’d talk about the match.

“I had no concept of TV,” he told me. “I never watched television. I had no idea how a talk show host should act.” But, he added, “chess is a dramatic event. You could hear the swords clang on the shields with every move. They went at each other. The average person is turned onto chess when it’s presented right. Trying to figure out the next move is a fascinating adventure—an adventure people can get into.”

Shelby Lyman, Image:

With his bushy brown hair and endearing miscues (in that low-tech era, he’d fumble for the pieces he used to shove onto demonstration boards), Lyman became a mini-celebrity, while interest in the ancient game boomed. In the year before the match, membership in the U.S. Chess Federation was about 27,000. A year after Fischer won the title, it had more than doubled, to about 59,000. “Shelby was the face of chess in America,” Bruce Pandolfini, the coach and author who was played by the actor Ben Kingsley in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, told me.

The loss of Benko and Lyman draws the curtain on an era in American chess that produced some of the game’s richest personalities and most sparkling play. The players and teachers who dominated the firmament in the mid-20th century were the game’s greatest generation. They bested a Soviet pipeline of grand masters who once had a stranglehold on the title.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hales Corner Chess Challenge XXX

Hola darlings!  It's that time of year once again.  You know autumn is here when Southwest Chess Club hosts its Chess Challenge every October.  You can check out specifics and news on the HCCC XXX at the Club's blog

This year mark the date:  October 5, 2019

This year marks the return of the HCCC to Milwaukee, hooray!  It's returning to:

Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel
6401 South 13 Street
Milwaukee, WI 53221
(414) 764-5300

This is a USCF Grand Prix and USCF Junior Grand Prix event, and a Wisconsin Tour event.

You can find the flyer online - just print and mail it in to enter early.  
You can also register and pay the entry fee online.
You'll pay $10 more to register for either the Open or Reserve Sections after October 3, 2019.

Entry Fees:  $50 Open; $40 Reserve.
Comp Entry Fee for USCF 2200+:  Entry fee subtracted from any prizes won

Site Registration:  8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Rounds:  10:00 a.m.; 1:00 p.m.; 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Pairings by WinTD -- No Computer Entries -- NO SMOKING


             OPEN                        RESERVE
             1st— $325                 1st—$100
             2nd—$175                2nd—$  75
             A—    $100                    D—$  60
             B and Below—$75       E and Below—$50

Goddesschess Prizes for female players (awarded in addition to whatever prize(s) a player may qualify for):  Open: $50/win; $25/draw.  Reserve: $20/win; $10/draw.  Perfect Score Prizes:  $100/Open; $50/Reserve.  In addition, the top female finisher in each Section receives paid entry fee paid for the Spring 2020 Hales Corners Chess Challenge, usually held in April each year.  

In each October event, Goddesschess also sponsors special prizes for male players in honor of our late webmaster and partner, Don McLean.  Top finishing male:  $100/Open; $50/Reserve.  

Maybe I'll see you in the Skittles Room, I'm stopping by for lunch with a friend.  

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