Friday, November 17, 2017

The Original Goddesschess Website: Status Update II

Hola, darlings!

I am happy to report that according to my new webhost, all of the Goddesschess files that create the gigantic original website have been transferred from my old webhost to the new one.  Giant sigh of relief.  However, they won't handle transferring files from the Internet Archive that actually captured a more current version of the Goddesschess website from May 2012 (five months before Don McLean's death in October of that year) as part of the "one free move" deal they offer to new sites.  So, I will have to attempt to tackle that myself.  Please pray to Caissa to grant me success!

Yesterday, I "believe" I managed to give the Goddesschess domain registrar online instructions to "repoint the DNS" to the new host's servers.  Fingers crossed it works - it might take up until tomorrow for it to go through.  I've no idea how that works.  Anyway, once that is done, I will officially "FIRE" my former webhost and then move on to Phase II - getting the updated Goddesschess files imported into the existing website files.

That's where I'm at right now.  After all this work, aggravation and frustration, I am feeling I should write at least one epic piece about - something - on chess (I've no idea what) that will live in the annals of chess herstory forever and ever!  For the time being, at least, the site that shows the evolution of the small band of dedicated folks known as Goddesschess who came together originally in December of 1998, reduced these days to, essentially, moi, will keep the site online. 

Man Deutch (WHO???) Versus World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

This is very entertaining - and actually true.  Deutch is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and the video comes straight from its own website:


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Original Goddesschess Website: Status Update

Hola darlings!

As many of you may know, our dear webmaster and one of the founding partners of the Goddesschess Partnership, Don McLean, passed away unexpectedly on October 12, 2012. He had taken over the webmaster duties for the Goddesschess website in 2004.  I continued to research and write occasional articles through the ensuing years, as did Isis/Georgia (she would email text to me), and I would format things in an ancient edition of Microsoft's Front Page 2000 used to create "what you see is what you get" web pages (no html coding knowledge required), and then - in a way I no longer remember - would somehow get the material "published" to an unpublished page on the web host and give the file name to Don to go in and "fix it up" with his own webpage creator, Dream Weaver.  Somehow, it all worked.  LOL.

By 2012, however, while I was still managing to use my old Front Page program on a very old Windows XP desktop, I had pretty much forgotten how to use the program to do much of anything else.  To make a long story short, after Don's death, the website sat for two years, essentially, untouched.  Don had all of the Goddesschess site files on one of his Mac computers, and I did not have access to any of those computers, nor did I know passwords, etc. to either access his computer(s) to try and find the correct files if I'd arranged with Don's sister to get access to them, or know what to do with the files if I had them!  Our Goddesschess website seemed - doomed.

I'd always intended to do new stuff for the G-chess website, but somehow, it just didn't happen.  I'd lost a lot of heart after Don's death, and concentrated on this blog and a new one I'd started up that was totally unrelated to chess. We'd both suffered through a lot during that Summer of Hell in 2012, health wise, and I'd received a dooming prognosis of death within 3 years while Don was ultimately given a relatively clean bill of health after a procedure to correct diagnosed atrial fibrilation.  Sadly, Don did not live out 2012.  I did, although at the time all I wanted to do after his death was die, too. 

I survived.  Guess I'm just too damn stubborn to die. My own heart condition is stable, my lungs are good.  My health is much better now than it was that horrid summer of 2012.

Then, in the spring of 2014, Mircrosoft stop updating their venerable XP OS and users were warned NOT to use it.  My old Front Page program ONLY worked on my XP system, although I did try it on my Windows 7 laptop at the time (reading elsewhere that it should work) I could not get it to work.  Frustration, all around.  Even if I had wanted to use XP at that point to post new material to Goddesschess, I was AFRAID that something dreadful would happen if I used an unprotected OS to try and add that material to our website.  Prior to the loss of security support updates in 2014, however, I posted a note on the website I had downloaded indicating what the problems were and why we were having them.  That was the last time anything was added to the Goddesschess website.

I ended up using my old Front Page program prior to the expiration of Microsoft's XP service pack and security updates to download an older version of the entire Goddesschess website from the Internet Archive, and then uploaded it all via Front Page's FTP function to a new web host.  Goddesschess reappeared back online!

What I did not realize at the time was that the site I had downloaded was only current at that time through April, 2011. The note I did in 2014 is there - on the April, 2011 opening page for Goddesschess that showcases Don's "Random Round-up," that he created on a monthly basis to keep Goddesschess "fresh."  The website prior to Don experiencing technical issues with our then current web host and then his health problems had been updated monthly between April, 2011 through May, 2012, so a year's worth of Don's wonderful monthly "Random Round-up" work had been left off of www.Goddesschess.com. 

I didn't realize this until - get ready for it - YESTERDAY!

How could this have happened, you say.  Well - I would not have even realized it, except that at SOME point in time, I added a link to what I called the "original Goddesschess website" at this blog.  And guess what - that link takes me to a Goddesschess.com website that is updated through May, 2012!  The reason I even clicked on that old link yesterday is because ----

---- (does this remind you of Donald J. Trump's "....." lead-ins in his tweets at Twitter as read by Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show"?) after discovering several days ago that I was being charged more than TWICE the price for the identical service that my then web host was charging others, and spending hours on the telephone with them, they refused to reduce the price to less than around $35 more than what they were offering the same service for to other websites!  So I decided the only smart thing to do was (1) move the Goddesschess website to a new and far less expensive web host and (2) file a complaint against the former web host with the Better Business Bureau.  For the time being, I am not mentioning the rip-off artist web host.  The worst of it is, last year I paid the same amount that was more than twice as much as advertised and didn't question it, I just paid it, DUH. (The bill comes due around this time, yearly.)

You do NOT advertise a service for about $80 a year and then turn around and charge your customer $179.40 for the SAME SERVICE and then ARGUE ABOUT IT ON THE TELEPHONE.  Do you see the steam coming out of my ears?

I have a new web host, and the web host offers a free migration of files service which was ideal for me, since I had no clue how I would do it all, otherwise!  And thus, today, when I was notified that the files from the "old" host had been moved to the new host, and I was asked to look things over (it took me a couple of hours to figure out how to do THAT - please, do not get me started...) to see if everything was okay, I realized that a year's worth of more current files were missing from the Goddesschess website.

Argggggghhhhhhhh!

So, I emailed the new host and explained the problem as best I could in non-technical language, because I have no idea how to explain it in technical language, LOL.  For instance, I think it's silly to call moving a file or an entire website "migration" instead of just calling it "moving a file or an entire website." 

So - this isn't over yet, but I am hoping for as happy an ending as I can get at this stage in my non-website creating "career."  Hopefully, soon there will be a Goddesschess.com available online containing Don McLean's final year of work.  I'll figure out SOME way to get it done, one way or another.  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Nishapur Chess Set Offered for Sale by Sotheby's

Hmmmm....

I receive advertisements from Sotheby's regarding various auctions they are hosting all around the globe.  To make a long story short, here is an offering from a recent auction held in London on October 25, 2017, Arts of the Islamic World.

Chess Collectors International members may most likely recognize the name of the owner:  Lothar Schmid (1928 - 2013), from his collection:

Image from Sotheby's auction website.

Sixteen (16) pieces of ivory described as "a rare Saminid part chess set, Nishapur, 10th/11th century, or earlier."  Estimated auction value was between 15,000 and 20,000 GBP (roughly $19,600 - $26,200 USD).

The pieces were evidently not sold (auction lot 138).  [Two rock crystal "Fatimid chess pieces" from the Lothar Schmid collection were also offered at this sale and also did not sell, Lots 136 and l37.]

I am having a few problems with asserting the age and authenticity of these pieces.  The catalog claims that these pieces are of a "set"  - nearly a complete set - and are as old as the dating range suggests:  "...an almost complete chess set of this early period."  Sixteen pieces, some from "each" side (I am assuming the somewhat darker colored ivory pieces are the "black" pieces and the lighter pieces are the "white" pieces, or the colored equivalents of what was prevalent in use back in that time period), are not a complete chess set of 32 pieces.

Setting aside one's reliance upon Grandmaster Schmid's collecting expertise (despite the fact that we know experts can be and have been fooled by clever forgeries of nearly everything in the world of art and collecting in the past and present), I have some qualms about assuming these pieces are authentic:

(1)  We have only one source cited for reference, a 1987 article in German from a publication that, you can be sure, is most likely not available online and would need to be translated by anyone who does not read/speak German.

(2)  We know nothing about how the pieces were acquired, when, where, or the circumstances surrounding their discovery/excavation.  Were the pieces individually carbon date tested to confirm age?  What were the circumstances of their discovery?  Who, what, when and where were the pieces discovered or excavated?  How did they come into the possession of Grandmaster Schmid?

(3)  Were the pieces purchased at the auction and, if so, by a museum?  My first assumption is that, given the rarity of such pieces, many museums would have been vying for ownership of the pieces to add to a collection of Islamic art and history -- IF (and that's a big IF) the curator(s) trusted their authenticity.

The pieces certainly LOOK authenticate; but then, remember what happened with the allegedly ancient gameboards supposedly excavated at Jiroft - and how they were exposed as frauds by a (now retired) research fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Oscar White Muscarella.

Most Scientists Now Reject Idea That First Americans Came By Land

Great synopsis of research that has led scientists to conclude that man first travelled here by water, not overland (or over ice) routes.

SO MUCH FOR THAT —

Most scientists now reject the idea that the first Americans came by land

Researchers embrace the kelp highway hypothesis in “a dramatic intellectual turnabout.”




It's been one of the most contentious debates in anthropology, and now scientists are saying it's pretty much over. A group of prominent anthropologists have done an overview of the scientific literature and declare in Science magazine that the "Clovis first" hypothesis of the peopling of the Americas is dead.
For decades, students were taught that the first people in the Americas were a group called the Clovis who walked over the Bering land bridge about 13,500 years ago. They arrived (so the narrative goes) via an ice-free corridor between glaciers in North America. But evidence has been piling up since the 1980s of human campsites in North and South America that date back much earlier than 13,500 years. At sites ranging from Oregon in the US to Monte Verde in Chile, evidence of human habitation goes back as far as 18,000 years.

In the 2000s, overwhelming evidence suggested that a pre-Clovis group had come to the Americans before there was an ice-free passage connecting Beringia to the Americas. As Smithsonian anthropologist Torben C. Rick and his colleagues put it, "In a dramatic intellectual turnabout, most archaeologists and other scholars now believe that the earliest Americans followed Pacific Rim shorelines from northeast Asia to Beringia and the Americas."

Now scholars are supporting the "kelp highway hypothesis," which holds that people reached the Americas when glaciers withdrew from the coasts of the Pacific Northwest 17,000 years ago, creating "a possible dispersal corridor rich in aquatic and terrestrial resources." Humans were able to boat and hike into the Americas along the coast due to the food-rich ecosystem provided by coastal kelp forests, which attracted fish, crustaceans, and more.
No one disputes that the Clovis peoples came through Beringia and the ice free corridor. But the Clovis would have formed a second wave of immigrants to the continent.
Despite all the evidence for human habitation, ranging from tools and butchered animal bones to the remains of campfires, scientists are still uncertain who the pre-Clovis peoples were. We have many examples of Clovis technology, with characteristic shapes for projectile points made from bone and stone. But we have no recognizable pre-Clovis toolkit.

That may be about to change, however. The pre-Clovis people traveled along a now-drowned coastline, submerged after the last of the ice-age glaciers melted. New techniques in marine archaeology, ranging from ROVs to underwater lasers, are helping scientists explore ancient submerged villages. A team even turned up a 14,500-year-old campsite in Florida in a blackwater sinkhole last year. [Would these "campers" have travelled from Europe?]

Rick and his colleagues write that the big question now is when pre-Clovis people actually arrived in the Americas. They suggest the arrival could be as early as 20,000 years ago on the verdant kelp highway. Other researchers, however, say people could have arrived during a temperate period about 130,000 years ago. A recent paper in Naturedescribes what appear to be the 130,000-year-old butchered remains of mastodons in California, along with sharp stones used to deflesh the animals. There is plenty of skepticism in the scientific community about this discovery, but the evidence can't be ignored.
To the best of our knowledge, the kelp highway brought humans to the Americas. Using boats and fishing tools, humans made it all the way from Asia to the Americas, founding many coastal communities along the way. And now for the next debate: who were they, and when exactly did they arrive?
Science, 2017. DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5473 (About DOIs).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

St. Louis Chess and Scholastic Center: Champions Showdown November 9 - 14, 2017

A big line-up but, sadly, ALL males.  I won't be paying attention, except to mention in passing that I'm glad to see the names of some veterans like Grischuk and Topalov.  You can find more information at the Club website

It will be a nice pay-off for all players, with $60,000 going to the winner of each of four pairings and $40,000 going to the "second place" finisher of each of the four pairings, for a total prize package of $400,000. 

There will also be a grand opening reception at the World Chess Hall of Fame "Global Moves: Americans in Chess Olympiads."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Final Results for the Chess Femmes, Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXVI

[I updated the post at 8:31 AM on October 16th to reflect ALL of the female players in the Open Section (I had somehow managed to leave Megan Chen off the list yesterday, sorry Megan) and to update the percentage calculations for female participation.]

Hola everyone!

It seems the bad weather may have greatly depressed turn-out this year for HCCCXXVI overall, but we had a great turn-out of chess femmes yesterday and I'm thrilled to report their results here.  The Sun is back today (after much needed rain that pleased this gardener), hooray!

FIRST TIME EVER (if my failing memory serves me correctly) - A HALES CORNERS CHESS CHALLENGE HAS BEEN WON BY A CHESS FEMME!!!!!!!  Okay, so I'm over the Moon, LOL.  Anupama Rajendra (2105) won straight up with 4.0 outright, so she took home the HCCC first place prize money as well as an additional $200 of Goddesschess prize money for 4 Ws AND an extra $80 for the Goddesschess perfect score prize in the Open (awarded only to chess femmes).

My chess buddy and a great chess mentor in Sheboygan, WI, Ellen Wanek, who has played in the past several Spring and Fall HCC Challenges, sent me two photos of the chess femmes and there were 12.  Me bad, ladies, sorry - I only know who a few of you are with any certainty so I've left names off:

What a gorgeous group of chess femmes!

A total of 51 players registered (31 in the Open, 20 in the Reserve).  A ratio of 14 chess femmes to 51 total players yields a female player participation rate of 27.45%  Holy Cassia!  That's the best yet, ever ever EVER!

So, without further ado, here is how the chess femmes did (Goddesschess prizes):

OPEN 6/31 = 19.35% chess femme participation rate:

Anupama Rajendra (2105), 4.0.  $280 total - $200 ($50 x 4 Ws) plus $80 for perfect score prize.  She also will receive Goddesschess paid entry fee should she choose to play in HCCC XXVII in Spring, 2018.

Rachel Ulrich (2196), 3.0.  $100.

Susanna Ulrich (1851), 1.5.  $75.

Gauri Menon (1666), 2.0.  $100.

Madeline Weber (1569), 2.0.  $100.

Megan Chen (1673), 2.0.  $100.

RESERVE 8/20 = a whopping 40% chess femme participation rate:

Simran Bhatia (1554), 3.0.  $60.  Also will receive Goddesschess paid entry fee should she choose to play in HCCC XXVII in Spring, 2018. 

Aradh Kaur (1436), 3.0.  $60.

Sandra Hoffman (1428), 2.0.  $40.

Ellen Wanek (1273), 1.0.  $20.

Mansha Ghai (1220), 2.0.  $40.

Radhika Gupta (1100), 2.0.  $40.

Olivia Schaenzer (1164), 2.0. $40.

Runxin He (UNR), 1.0.  $10.

There are photographs from Round 3 at the Southwest Chess Club blog, many showing the chess femmes in action.  Full cross-tables at USCF.

The Don McLean Awards (for male players only in the October Challenges) were won by Anthony Parker (2225, 3.5) in the Open ($100) and Alexander Jentsch (1473, 3.5) in the Reserve ($50).

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Archaeologists Perhaps Closing in on Lost Satellite Pyramids of Queen Ankhnespepy II

From Newsweek

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDION FOUND NEXT TO LARGEST OBELISK HINTS AT EXISTENCE OF QUEEN’S LOST CHAMBER

Mata Hari: A NASTY Woman

"Mata Hari" by Isaac Israels, 1915
Kroller-Muller Museum

Many American women (and the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico) are proud to wear tee shirts proclaiming they are NASTY - the kind of woman that scares the pants off of men like Donald J. Trump and the GOP in general (Hillary Clinton; Nancy Pelosi; Michelle Obama).

After reading this review of an exhibit coming in the Netherlands, birthplace of Margaretha Zelle a/k/a Mata Hari, it seems to me that Zelle was reviled and feared by many men (and some women) not because she was a master spy but because she was a NASTY woman: sexually free, independent, capable of supporting herself in style without depending upon ANY male, assertive, intelligent.  She was perceived as a threat by many because she did not conform to the norms of the day.  Zelle was 41 when she was "executed" by a firing squad in France, after having been convicted of being a German spy.

Mata Hari in 1914.
Mata Hari, 1914.  Source: rarehistoricalphotos.com
Regal, beautiful, threatening to men.

From The New York Times
Nina Siegal, October 13, 2017

Femme Fatale, Fallen Woman, Spy: Looking for the Real Mata Hari

LEEUWARDEN, the Netherlands — In December 1915, Margaretha Zelle, the woman known to all the world as the exotic dancer Mata Hari, was traveling by ship from one of her lovers in Paris to another in The Hague. The international sex symbol was famous for provocative routines in a nude body stocking with a bejeweled bra and golden headdress. Sometimes she would tell people she was a Javanese princess or the daughter of an Indian temple dancer, but only rarely would she reveal that she was Dutch.

It was the middle of World War I and her circuitous route took her through British waters, where the authorities stopped the boat to question those on board.

After looking at Zelle’s papers, and searching her possessions, they made a note: No evidence of anything had been found on her person, but she was nevertheless a “bold sort of woman who is not above suspicion.” In the charged atmosphere of the war, this was enough for the authorities to call for her arrest if she ever tried to enter the United Kingdom again. A copy of their report was sent to the French secret service, where it landed on the desk of a French military intelligence officer, George Ladoux.

Ladoux, convinced that Zelle was a spy, became determined to catch her in an act of espionage. He recruited her to work for French intelligence, sure that she was a double agent for the Germans.

In early 1917, Ladoux later arrested and interrogated Zelle, and garnered what he took as a confession: She admitted to taking money from the Germans, though she firmly denied having ever provided them with any useful espionage. On Oct. 14, Mata Hari was executed by firing squad. Newspaper reports described her as refusing to wear a blindfold and blowing kisses to the soldiers who raised their rifles against her.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Update: Hales Corners Chess Challenge XXVI

Hola:

Where does the time fly, geez Louise!  The HCCC XXVI is TOMORROW, wow!

I don't have a players' list but I was informed a few minutes ago that there are currently 49 pre-registered players, 11 of whom are chess femmes, YAY!  As of right now, that means our female player partcipation rate is at 22%, which is FAB-U-LOUS, dahlings.  Four are playing in the Open and seven in the reserve.  Good luck, ladies!

The October Challenges are the one event a year where Goddesschess shares the love with male players, in the form of the Don McLean Award.  The highest scoring male in the Open Section wins $100, and in the Reserve $50.  (All Goddesschess prizes are in addition to prizes paid by the tournament organizers).  Don, who was one of the founders of Goddesschess and a primary force behind it from its founding in 1999, passed away five years ago.  He covered some events Goddesschess sponsored in Montreal and loved meeting and mixing with the players.  He was a slightly better chessplayer than I, which is to say - not even good enough to earn the "patzer" title :)  We had some rip-roaring games out on the back deck at my former Maison Newton during the summertime and in front of the fireplace during Christmas holidays.

You can find the flyer here.  Players can still register tomorrow between 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.  Four rounds:  10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m., 6:00 p.m. 

I hope there will be a big turnout.  Good luck to all!
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