Saturday, January 3, 2009
‘Winning the World championship is my dream’ Story from The Hindu January 4, 2009 HYDERABAD: World No. 2 Koneru Humpy has decided to compete in more men’s events in 2009 with the specific objective of breaking the ELO 2650 barrier (her current rating is ELO 2621) and for that she is also planning extensive preparations to master some of the complicated lines in the middle-game. Talking to The Hindu during her visit to Hyderabad for the ONGC inter-active coaching camp, in which Super GM Krishnan Sasikiran, Sandeepan Chanda, Neelotpal Das and Konguvel are also involved, the 21-year-old Humpy said the semifinal defeat in the last World championship [that is, Women's World Chess Championship] still haunts her as she had lost that contest from a seemingly comfortable position. “I don’t think I had a moderate year in 2008 given the fact that I won a bronze in the World championship, helped my club Monaco finish second in the European Club championship, finished second after tying for the first place in the Mumbai International event and good rating points in the Spanish Ruy Lopez championship,” she said. Consistent About five years ago, Viswanathan Anand rated Humpy and Pentyala Harikrishna as the potential world champions. Does it hurt her that she is still to win the big title? “Certainly not. The fact that I have been the World No. 2 for more than three years, and considering the fact that Judith Polgar is the No. 1 despite not playing in the women’s circuit for a long time now, is proof that I am consistent at the highest level. But, no doubt, winning the World championship is the dream I am chasing now,” she said. Humpy said she needs to improve her openings repertoire and look for complicated lines especially in the middle-game. “There is no need for a ‘second’ even now. My father (Koneru Ashok) will continue to be my coach and he is capable of helping me realise my dream of becoming a world champion one day,” she asserted. “Yes, it is a pity that not many international Grandmasters tournaments are being held in India compared to countries like China. This is a major handicap for all Indians as playing abroad is a pretty expensive affair and it will be worse given the economic recession now prevailing,” she said. High expectations “I am aware that having won the 2001 World junior championship, expectations on me are naturally high. There is no doubt that I badly need a really big win to silence some of the critics,” Humpy said. “Definitely, the standard of chess has improved a lot in India in recent times. There are many more brilliant players now analysing the positions with a high level of excellence and the game is really getting competitive which is good.” For the first time in her international career, Humpy will be taking a three-month break before competing in an international event.
Sometime between the last time I logged off on 12/22/08 and the next time I tried to log in on 12/23/08 my desk top in the upstairs den got bounced off my wireless network - and one vacation, one telephone call to AT&T support hell and countless hours of trying to get this desk top back online later, I jerryrigged a connetion between my wireless router and the desktop just to get internet access. My bedroom is torn apart (that's where the telephone jack and DSL modem is, along with the wireless router), my den is torn apart, the computer hutch that houses the desk top is now wheeled into my bedroom and everything is a gigantic mess! At present, I'm just not up to another call to AT&T support. Maybe tomorrow, after a good night's sleep. Anyway, I see that Fearless Leader says that chess will soon be an Olympic sport. Yeah, he's smoking the really good stuff again. Ha! Talk about pipe dreams.
We were enroute back home when the North American Open started at Bally's on December 26, 2008. Too bad, I would have liked to stay and watch some of the chess. Oh well, such is life. Only a few chess femmes (as far as I can tell) participated in the 89 player Open, which was won by GM Giorgi Kacheishvili 2657 (he's listed as NY - never heard of this highly rated GM before, he cannot be an American resident, can he???) - with 6.0/7. Here are the chess femmes: 71 WIM Ruth I Haring 1936 CA) 2.5/6 79 Marian M Nita III 2120 (CA) 1.5/6 Brian Wall (2229), a chess friend from the days of Chess Goddesses website (2001-2004) finished in 51st place with 3.0/7. Way to go Brian, still slugging it out in the trenches! Dr. Eric Moskow (2229) also played in this event. He set a goal in 2007 to achieve an IM title. I'm glad to see he's still working toward that goal, finishing in a respectable 43rd position with 3.0/7. As the classes drop in ELO the chess femmes playing increase. In the U2100 (125 players): 31 Vanessa A West 2040 (CA) 4.0/7 48 Hana Itkis 2090 (NJ) 3.5/7 59 Megan Lee 1910 (WA) 3.5/7 72 Amanda R. Mateer 1987 (AZ) 3.0/7 96 Kelly Zhang 1936 (CA) 2.0/7
From The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka f/k/a Ceylon) January 3, 2009 Pramodaya first woman Master Pramodaya Senanayake of Musaeus College Colombo was the first Sri Lankan woman FIDE Master after competing in the 37th Chess Olympiad held in May-June 2006 in Italy. She scored six out of nine points to achieve this feat. She was attending school in that year and had also won a bronze medal at the Asian Schools Chess Festival held in Singapore in December 2005. Thereafter, Nirmala from Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo too had achieved the title of woman FIDE Master a few years later. Besides these two women, the latest girl to achieve this feat is Supeshala Thilakawardane also of Musaeus College. She achieved this title when participating in the Chess Olympiad held in Germany in November last year. It was inadvertently published by Daily Mirror that Thilakawardane was the first woman FIDE Master in Sri Lanka. We regret this error as credit must go to Pramodaya Senanayake who was also a student of Musaeus College. This fact was brought to the notice of Daily Mirror by G.S. Dissanayake who was the secretary of the Chess Federation for ten years since being elected in 1975 for the first time. R. Bodhinagoda was the president at that time. (TBR)
Hmmm, this all sounds rather suspicious to me. It has to be someone knowledgeable about antiques, not your run of the mill English burglar just rummaging around! From BBC News January 3, 2009 Antiques stolen in house burglary Hand painted pictures and candle snuffers were among a haul of antiques stolen from a Northamptonshire house. Burglars broke in through patio doors at the back of the property in High Street, Gretton, police said. Among the items stolen in the raid on Friday morning were a mahogany table with in-laid chess table with hand carved pieces in red and white. Northamptonshire police have appealed for anyone with information about the raid to contact them. Also stolen was a black writing box with a mother of pearl top and blue velvet interior with a silver and glass inkpot, various silver antique match boxes and a pair of flint lock pistols, one of which had a male's head in brass on the bottom of the handle.
Friday, January 2, 2009
This is a late announcement of this important news: The new posh St. Louis Chess Club will be hosting the 2009 U.S. Women's Chess Championship sometime in late summer or early fall. This announcement was made in October, 2008. I don't understand why firm dates have not yet been set! I mean, come on fellas, the ladies have to get their 2009 playing calendars firmed up and, as you are no doubt aware, invitations to events are often accepted and/or set months in advance. What's the hold-up on announcing firm dates for this event??? The purse is certainly attractive: $64,000.00 total with $15,000.00 going to first the place winner. ("Men's" Championship purse is $100,000.00 with $30,000.00 going to first place and will be held sometime in May, 2009 - I did not see exact dates at either USCF or St. Louis Chess Club's websites). Here is more information from the announcement: The tournament is a 9 round event, paired using the Round Robin pairing system with one round per day and a rest day between rounds 5 and 6. Time controls will be the classical 40 moves in 2 hours, with the remaining moves in 1 hour. Invitations will be sent to the top 10 U.S. women by their rating. Earlier this evening Isis and I had a little chat about the 2009 Goddesschess prize for the U.S. Women's Chess Championship. This will be Goddesschess' third year of funding a special prize for the Women's Championship. Stay tuned for further information - we're working on the details and arrangements.
Oy, I've got the Mother of all head colds. Drat! I have gotten sick after several trips in the past, but was hoping to buck the odds this time. No such luck. Everything that is said about the foulness and pestulescent tendencies of airplane air is TRUE! I'm certain I caught this virus courtesy of Air-Tran. My nose gushed like Niagra Falls all day at the office, and my eyes, particularly my left, eye, leaked tears whenever I sneezed or blew my nose (which was about every 5 seconds), despite medicating myself with cold-capsules and antihistamine. I'm exhausted and going to bed. Here are some more photos from Christmas vacation: Can you spot the Goddess in this still life taken in the Tropical Dome at Mitchell Park? One of my better compositions :) This is called the candlabra cactus. I thought it looked like a dinosaur, or maybe a couple of dinosaurs! From the Arid Dome at Mitchell Park. A still life of paperwhites and pointsettia in the Show Dome at Mitchell Park. Your resident Goddess reps, taken at Isis and Michelle's new digs on Christmas Day. Left to right: Michelle, Isis, and yours truly.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Hola darlings! Happy New Year to everyone, and may the Goddess bless you in 2009. I had off work today - a brief reprieve! I seem to have contracted some kind of something that affects only my nose. It's been running like a bad faucet all day, despite taking two cold tablets and an antihistamine! This better go away soon! Already gone through half a box of tissue and my nose is so sore now I can hardly touch it. I look like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That's not a joke! I did not last until midnight last night to greet the New Year - I was zonked out by 10:30 PM, LOL! I slept in this morning, not getting up until almost 7:30 AM when the squirrels tapping on the patio door finally mustered me to my household duties :) I trekked down to the store later and stocked up on mixed nuts which are now on sale. I will stop again tomorrow night after work, because soon they will be gone until next holiday season, and my squirrels will have to sustain themselves on peanuts (which they will turn their noses up at first, having been spoiled for the past couple of months with almonds, hazelnuts a/k/a filberts, pecans, Brazil nuts and walnuts!) I've got a new critter - he (or she) may be living under my next store neighbor's deck - that's where I saw it last duck when I startled it one night last week by turning on the patio light to check the snow. That must have been 12/23, the night dondelion arrived. It's either a fox or a young coyote, but I haven't seen it now for several days. Call me a sucker - I put some food out anyway, probably not the wisest thing to do but even coyotes must eat, and the possums, and the raccoons, and the skunks. Only thing is, the food I put out is cooked, not raw, and it will freeze up fast if some critter doesn't come along and munch it down. So, I wait until after sundown to put it out, but it will probably be frozen solid by 7 PM. So - no new resolutions for the New Year, just a continuation of my slow but steady weight loss program with less "bad" food and more exercise - sort of fell off the wagon during the whirlwind Las Vegas trip but I'm back to eating salads at lunch now, good girl that I am. And I suppose I should resolve to finally get all of my mounds of printed research in some kind of order, eek! That will take days - but we're so busy at the office it looks like I'll be working at least 1 to 2 Saturdays a month for the foreseeable future. Good for the pocketbook but bad for trying to keep on top of my second, "chessly" career. Argggh! Finally, this Sunday probably (because I'll be working Saturday) I will take down the Christmas tree as the holiday season ends. It's always a melancholy exercise taking off all of the ornaments, wrapping up the exquisite Egyptian blown glass ornaments in tissue paper, wiping dust off and putting the colored glass ornaments back into their boxes, and cleaning the crystal snow drops, icicles and spirals before they go back into their foam-padded boxes. It is an all-day process, punctured liberally by much drinking of wine and munching on chocolate-covered cherries, an indulgence I allow myself this one day every year. Then it will be the struggle wrestling the 6.5' tall tree that weighs what seems like half a ton all by myself past the living room furniture, into the hallway past the stairs and basement door, around the corner through the dinette, then turn another corner into the family room and out the door into the frozen garage. Yikes! It's a real work-out, worth at least 1,000 calories, no lie, so I won't feel so badly about scarfing down two boxes of Queen Anne brand chocolate covered cherries. Hopefully the entire tree will stick together this year and I'll get it out to the garage in one piece (it is a 3-piece jointed tree and the joints tend to separate as I lug/drag the tree along), where it will be wrapped up once again in freshly-laundered sheets that are pinned up at the bottom. Not that THAT keeps the bugs out, but I try, I try... I scared the crap out of more than one spider this year lugging the tree BACK into the house, LOL! That's what they get, the little buggers, for daring to nest in my artificial Christmas tree. Ha! Some more photos from dondlion's visit. I downloaded all the photos to the desktop but that still isn't up and running on my in-house network so I don't have access to them yet - I may tackle THAT reconnection issue on Sunday, sigh. These photos I've got on my laptop, downloaded from dondelion's flashdrive, all photos that I took on our visit to Mother Newton and the Domes on 12/28. First: dondelion at Mom's house, 12/28/08. Penny the Poodle is next to him, color-coordinated in her blue sweater. Penny is probably 200 years old now, and she's got cataracts so she doesn't see very well and doesn't hear very well, but she still has enough spring to jump up on the sofa when company arrives, and it seems she can see well-enough when she wants to and her doggy senses haven't been so impaired :) When dondelion and I were getting ready to leave at the end of our visit, Penny was jumping up on my legs like no tomorow, wanting to go along. Mom has overwhelmed the house with Christmas decorations, although she claimed she wasn't going to "celebrate" Christmas this year, LOL! Study this photograph carefully, you will be tested on its contents later. Note especially the home decorating program that is on the large flat screen television :) The large mirrored area behind the sofa is partially covered with a digitally lighted tapestry, a gift to Mom from Aunt Diane this year. It is so over the top, it actually is pretty. Second: A potted jade plant in full bloom with white delicate flowers, in the Arid Dome at Mitchell Park. I had no idea jade plants bloomed! As we strolled through the Arid Dome, there were several jade plants scattered about, and they were all blooming! I thought it was so pretty, and I was so amazed by these blooming plants at the end of December, I just had to take some photos. Third: A standard shot of the waterfall in the Tropical Dome at Mitchell Park. This is one of the most popular spots in this Dome - gee, wonder why, LOL! All the ice and snow and cold outside melt away while strolling through the Tropical Dome, with its birds, orchids, blooming flowers, high humidity and warmth. It's a wonderful place to while away several hours and it's amazing I was able to get a shot in this Dome without a person in it. But I cheated - I was leaning WAY over the little footbridge out of everyones' way to get this shot.
Iryna Zenyuk has been busy with her education and she had not appeared much in the news, but stepped up her chessplaying activities during 2008. She is a player with great potential. I featured Iryna my Chessville column in April, 2008. I was very pleased to see the news that Iryna earned WGM and IM norms in the 2nd Berkeley Masters Tournament which took place from December 14 - 23, 2008. Information from TWIC: The 2008 Berkeley Masters took place December 14th-23rd 2008 in Berkeley, California, Giorgi Kacheishivili won with 7.5/10. IM-norms: FM Daniel Rensch, FM Marc Esserman, WIM Iryna Zenyuk WGM-norm: WIM Iryna Zenyuk. It is a 10 round swiss, open to players rated fide 2200+. Space in the tournament and conditions for some Grandmasters are available on a first-come first-serve basis. Prize fund $5000 US. Games were broadcast on ICC. Info at http://dotq.org/chess. Final Standings: Berkeley Masters (USA), 14-23 xii 2008 1 Kacheishvili, Giorgi g GEO 2572 7.5 /10 2 Izoria, Zviad g GEO 2610 7.0 /10 3 Friedel, Joshua E m USA 2498 6.0 /10 4 Krush, Irina m USA 2452 6.0 /10 5 Rensch, Daniel f USA 2354 6.0 /10 6 Bhat, Vinay S m USA 2498 5.5 /10 7 Pruess, David m USA 2422 5.5 /10 8 Kraai, Jesse g USA 2502 5.0 /10 9 Sarkar, Justin m USA 2451 5.0 /10 10 Sharavdorj, Dashzegve g MGL 2441 5.0 /10 11 Esserman, Marc USA 2348 5.0 /10 12 Zenyuk, Iryna wf USA 2237 5.0 /10 13 Milman, Lev m USA 2488 4.0 /10 14 Naroditsky, Daniel f USA 2382 4.0 /10 15 Haessel, Dale R f CAN 2199 4.0 /10 16 Evans, Bela f USA 2258 3.5 /10 17 Kustar, Sandor m HUN 2356 3.0 /10 18 Lee, Andy C USA 2240 1.5 /2 19 Jahedi, Salar USA 2106 0.5 /3 20 Shivaji, Shivkuma f PLE 2308 0.0 /1
Final standings (from TWIC): 35th ch-IND w National A New Delhi IND (IND), 18-28 xii 2008 cat. II (2284) *12 player round robin) 1. Nadig, Kruttika wm IND 2387 8 2449 2. Sachdev, Tania m IND 2425 7 2372 3. Mohota, Nisha wg IND 2311 6 2317 4. Karavade, Eesha wg IND 2386 6 2310 5. Swathi, Ghate wg IND 2320 6 2316 6. Gomes, Mary Ann wg IND 2298 5½ 2282 7. Soumya, Swaminathan wm IND 2326 5 2243 8. Bhakti, Kulkarni wf IND 2163 5 2258 9. Amrutha, Mokal IND 2163 5 2258 10. Pon, N Krithika wf IND 2191 4½ 2227 11. Padmini, Rout wm IND 2235 4 2186 12. Kiran, Manisha Mohanty wm IND 2198 4 2189
December 22 - 29. No chess femmes played in the 8-player round robin invitational, but several played in the Open of 104 players and did quite well. The Open was won by IM Roi Reinaldo Castineira (ESP 2516) with 7.5/9. Congrats to the following chess femmes for their fine finishes: 6 VEGA GUTIERREZ, Sabrina WGM ESP 2278 6½ 8 RUDOLF, Anna WGM HUN 2318 6½ 12 DJINGAROVA, Emilia WGM BUL 2352 6 15 IGNACZ, Rozsa HUN 2061 6 Photo: Emilia Djingarova, Torino, 2006.
This British squirrel has gone punk - Purple squirrel baffles experts Last Updated: 12:38AM GMT 22 Dec 2008 Teachers and pupils at Meoncross School in Stubbington, Hants, were amazed when they saw the creature through the window during a lesson. Since the squirrel, now nicknamed Pete, was first seen, it has become a regular fixture at the school but no one has been able to say whether the animal has fallen into purple paint, had a run-in with some purple dye, or whether there is another explanation. Dr Mike Edwards, an English teacher, said: "I was sitting in my classroom and looked out the window and saw it sitting on the fence. I had to do a double take. "Since then it's been a bit of a regular at the school - everyone's seen it. We thought it might have been paint or something but then when you look at it up close, it's an all over coat, not in patches like you'd expect if it had been near some paint. Its fur actually looks purple all the way through. It's an absolute mystery." Pupils, staff and parents have contacted vets and even e-mailed television nature expert Bill Oddie to see if an explanation could be found. Lorraine Orridge, the school's registrar, believes Pete's coloured fur looks like a school uniform. She said: "The squirrel has become a bit of a legend among staff and pupils at the school. He makes an appearance most days and we always look forward to seeing him. "We don't think he is a mutant squirrel but he may have had a mishap around the school. The old building where we have seen him nipping in and out is a bit of a graveyard for computer printers. He may have found some printer toners in there. "We haven't seen any purple baby squirrels yet." TV wildlife expert Chris Packham believes Pete will moult and lose his purple fur in time for spring. He said: "I have never seen anything like it before. Squirrels will chew anything even if it's obviously inedible. It is possible he has been chewing on a purple ink cartridge and then groomed that colouring into his fur. Alternatively he may have fallen into a bucket containing a weak colour solution that has stained his fur. "Underneath there's a normal grey squirrel who has just given himself an unusual hair colour - you would pay a fortune for that in some salons."
I remember how shocked I was some 10 years ago, when Isis first mentioned the child sex trade to me. I refused to believe it was a problem, not having read anything about it (that I could recall) in news coverage and news magazines. I wasn't online back then - that happened in December, 1998 at work and I didn't have my own computer at home until March, 1999. Since those days, I've read many articles and news reports about the international sex trade in children of both sexes and, particularly, young girls. It is a sickening reality that, unfortunately, most people are unaware, just like I was. Here is an article from today's New York Times. Op-Ed Columnist The Evil Behind the Smiles By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Published: December 31, 2008 PHNOM PENH, Cambodia Western men who visit red-light districts in poor countries often find themselves surrounded by coquettish teenage girls laughingly tugging them toward the brothels. The men assume that the girls are there voluntarily, and in some cases they are right. But anyone inclined to take the girls’ smiles at face value should talk to Sina Vann, who was once one of those smiling girls. Sina is Vietnamese but was kidnapped at the age of 13 and taken to Cambodia, where she was drugged. She said she woke up naked and bloody on a bed with a white man — she doesn’t know his nationality — who had purchased her virginity. After that, she was locked on the upper floors of a nice hotel and offered to Western men and wealthy Cambodians. She said she was beaten ferociously to force her to smile and act seductive. “My first phrase in Khmer,” the Cambodian language, “was, ‘I want to sleep with you,’ ” she said. “My first phrase in English was” — well, it’s unprintable. Sina mostly followed instructions and smiled alluringly at men because she would have been beaten if men didn’t choose her. But sometimes she was in such pain that she resisted, and then she said she would be dragged down to a torture chamber in the basement. “Many of the brothels have these torture chambers,” she said. “They are underground because then the girls’ screams are muffled.” As in many brothels, the torture of choice was electric shocks. Sina would be tied down, doused in water and then prodded with wires running from the 220-volt wall outlet. The jolt causes intense pain, sometimes evacuation of the bladder and bowel — and even unconsciousness. Shocks fit well into the brothel business model because they cause agonizing pain and terrify the girls without damaging their looks or undermining their market value. After the beatings and shocks, Sina said she would be locked naked in a wooden coffin full of biting ants. The coffin was dark, suffocating and so tight that she could not move her hands up to her face to brush off the ants. Her tears washed the ants out of her eyes. She was locked in the coffin for a day or two at a time, and she said this happened many, many times. Finally, Sina was freed in a police raid, and found herself blinded by the first daylight she had seen in years. The raid was organized by Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who herself had been sold into the brothels but managed to escape, educate herself and now heads a foundation fighting forced prostitution. After being freed, Sina began studying and eventually became one of Somaly’s trusted lieutenants. They now work together, in defiance of death threats from brothel owners, to free other girls. To get at Somaly, the brothel owners kidnapped and brutalized her 14-year-old daughter. And six months ago, the daughter of another anti-trafficking activist (my interpreter when I interviewed Sina) went missing. I had heard about torture chambers under the brothels but had never seen one, so a few days ago Sina took me to the red-light district here where she once was imprisoned. A brothel had been torn down, revealing a warren of dungeons underneath. “I was in a room just like those,” she said, pointing. “There must be many girls who died in those rooms.” She grew distressed and added: “I’m cold and afraid. Tonight I won’t sleep.” “Photograph quickly,” she added, and pointed to brothels lining the street. “It’s not safe to stay here long.” Sina and Somaly sustain themselves with a wicked sense of humor. They tease each other mercilessly, with Sina, who is single, mock-scolding Somaly: “At least I had plenty of men until you had to come along and rescue me!” Sex trafficking is truly the 21st century’s version of slavery. One of the differences from 19th-century slavery is that many of these modern slaves will die of AIDS by their late 20s. Whenever I report on sex trafficking, I come away less depressed by the atrocities than inspired by the courage of modern abolitionists like Somaly and Sina. They are risking their lives to help others still locked up in the brothels, and they have the credibility and experience to lead this fight. In my next column, I’ll introduce a girl that Sina is now helping to recover from mind-boggling torture in a brothel — and Sina’s own story gives hope to the girl in a way that an army of psychologists couldn’t. I hope that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will recognize slavery as unfinished business on the foreign policy agenda. The abolitionist cause simply hasn’t been completed as long as 14-year-old girls are being jolted with electric shocks — right now, as you read this — to make them smile before oblivious tourists. I invite you to comment on this column on my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Story from the BBC News December 23, 2008 Pair of tombs discovered in Egypt Egyptian archaeologists say they have discovered a pair of 4,300-year-old tombs that indicate a burial site south of Cairo is bigger than expected. The tombs at the Saqqara necropolis belong to two officials from the court of the Pharaoh Unas, Egypt's antiquities chief said. One was for the official in charge of quarries used for building pyramids, the other for the head of music. Hieroglyphics decorate the entrances of both the newly discovered tombs. Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top archaeologist, told reporters that the tombs represented a "major" find. "The discovery of the two tombs are the beginning of a big, large cemetery," he said. New discoveries are frequently made at Saqqara, including the unearthing of the remains of a pyramid in November. Mr Hawass said 70% of Egypt's ancient monuments remain buried. "We are continuing our excavation and we are going to uncover more tombs in the area to explain the period of dynasty five and dynasty six," he added, referring to a period more than 4,000 years ago. The contents of the newly found tombs have long since been stolen, Mr Hawass said. The entrance of the tomb of the official in charge of music, Thanah, shows carved images of her smelling lotus flowers. The other official whose tomb was discovered, Iya Maat, oversaw the extraction of granite and limestone from Aswan and other materials from the Western Desert for the construction of nearby pyramids.
Story from MINA Breaking News January 1, 2009 Macedonia archeologists uncover 4,000 year old writing Uncovered are the first traces of the old Macedonian language in the country, says "Dr. Dushko Aleksovski, paleolinguistics professor and honorary president of the World Rock Art Academy. "This is a very rare artifact, the name of the Goddess Vesta is written on it. However, the first written name is Bsefa, which later became Vesta. This is the oldest artifact written in the old Macedonian language discovered on our territory." says Dr. Aleksovski. The 4,000 year old signs written on the lid of the clay artifact, according to Dr. Aleksovski, are considered as a monumental discovery, first of its kind and very important for the paleolinguistics. The discovery was made in central Macedonia, the precise location is being kept secret by the Government so the area doesn't get over run by archeological poachers looking for treasures and artifacts. //12.29.08
Story from the San Francisco Chronicle Brain workout may help anxiety, study suggests Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, December 17, 2008 Could Sudoku be a balm for anxious people? A new study suggests that intellectually demanding challenges like crossword puzzles or chess may be more successful at keeping worry-prone people from worrying than supposedly relaxing pastimes like watching TV or shopping. Contrary to theories that "as things get harder, anxious people fall apart, this suggests it's the opposite way around," said UC Berkeley psychologist Sonia Bishop, lead researcher on the study published online this week by Nature Neuroscience. The study showed that anxious people performed just as well as others when facing tasks that demanded concentration, but they took more time than others to complete tasks that were easier, Bishop said. Their slower response time to challenges not requiring full attention was accompanied by reduced blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which serves as the brain's CEO in thinking, planning and active memory. The study indicated that anxious individuals have a weakened ability to block out distractions and that they might benefit from mindfulness training, which often uses meditation and stress-reduction exercises to help increase one's awareness and focus. "With some very popular therapies like mindfulness training, people aren't sure why they work," Bishop said. "This perhaps gives us a rationale for why they do." The results also challenge another explanation for why anxious people face day-to-day problems in concentration and work-related cognitive function, Bishop said. It has been argued that the "fight or flight" response center of the brain, the amygdala, overreacts to threat-related stimuli in anxious people, thus playing a central role in undermining concentration. But the new study suggests that attention-focusing ability in such individuals is impaired even when the amygdala is not extra-active, and thus their difficulties with concentration may be determined by a different mechanism, she said. The study consisted of simple letter-recognition tests given to 17 volunteers, ages 19 to 48, while blood flow to a section in the front of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was measured by magnetic resonance imaging. The volunteers, seven female and 10 male, were from Cambridge, England, where Bishop did research at the University of Cambridge before becoming an assistant professor at Berkeley in July. The results were scored according to the difficulty of the tests, including the distraction level of extraneous elements, and correlated to the volunteers' degree of anxiety. Surveys indicate that nearly a fifth of U.S. adults suffer from one or more anxiety disorders in a given year, Bishop noted in the study, titled "Trait anxiety and impoverished prefrontal control of attention."
Just in - news that the 2009 Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation All Girls Tournament will be held on February 28, 2009. Details will be provided within the next few weeks. Here is some background information about this special event, from the January, 2009 WSCF newsletter received by email earlier today: The Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation, a 5 year old 501(c) (3) non-profit is hosting its third annual All Girls Chess tournament on February 28th. We expect over 100 girls from throughout Wisconsin to participate. The first year we had 21 girls participate and last year close to 60 students. We have funds and are committed to award scholarships in the amounts of $300, $250 and $50 to the champion of each of the 3 divisions. The WSCF is looking to increase the level of scholarship support for this worthwhile tournament. Here are excerpts from the WSCF newsletter: I am writing on behalf of all girls in Wisconsin who play scholastic chess in clubs, leagues and tournaments. You may already be aware of the rapid growth of scholastic chess across the nation and that the typical ratio of male to female participation is 9 to 1. This ratio has been true for centuries and many studies have done on this subject. There is a national movement to have tournaments just for girls and we believe we are a leader in this effort and expect the size of this tournament to grow each year. You may also know the power of long term participation in the learning of chess can increase students intelligence, critical thinking, logical, self-esteem and spatial awareness. Again, many studies have proven this and the result most often cited is the immediate raising of math and reading test scores. You can read more about this on our website www.wisconsinscholasticchess.org . You may especially want to look at the article "Chess Empowers Young Minds" and the video by National Geographic "My Brilliant Brain - Make me a Genius," which features the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title, Susan Polgar. The gifts of chess empowers young people of both sexes. The WSCF is proud to have as its mission the teaching of chess to students all across Wisconsin. The All Girls Tournament is just one of our many activities to promote chess as a powerful educational tool. One goal of the WSCF is to provide motivation for more girls to play chess and one way to do this is via the All Girls Tournament and the awarding of scholarships. We have committed what our resources allow at this time but would like to increase these amounts with grants and gifts from interested individuals, professional groups, foundations and corporations. One goal would be the awards given in each division to be $1000, $500 and $250 for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. The second part of this goal would be to grow the fund to be able to do this each year. One hundred percent of donations that WSCF receives marked scholarships are deposited into our scholarship trust account. Scholarships awarded are paid directly and only to the school of attendance of the recipient. Your support and others you know may help in being a catalyst for some young girl to commit to studying chess with the goal of winning scholarships to help make college affordable. If you would like more information, a visit to your office, or a presentation to a group of your colleagues please contact me at email@example.com , at our P.O. Box or at 262-573-5624. If you would like to donate directly you can mail a check to our P.O. Box marked "all girls scholarship"; or donate via a credit card on our website. On behalf of present and future female chess students in Wisconsin I extend my appreciation. Sincerely, Bob Patterson-Sumwalt President/Founder Wish I'd hit a big jackpot in Las Vegas so I could spread around some largesse): As it is, my desire to help far outstrips my ability to provide financial wherewithal, but I will be making a contribution, and I hope you will, too. I'm going to take advantage of the online contribution to get one in before midnight tonight so I can get one more charitable deduction for tax year 2008. It's for a good cause and if you itemize your deductions on Form 1040 it will help to reduce your net income tax. This is one event I will be following closely - will pass along the tournament information as it becomes available!
Story from Express Buzz (Karnataka) Shimoga girl excels in chess First Published : 31 Dec 2008 10:29:00 AM IST Last Updated : 31 Dec 2008 01:18:35 PM IST SHIMOGA: “I want to play with Grand Master Viswanathan Anand and I dream of becoming a woman grand master,” says Nisha, the young chess champion of Shimoga. Nisha N Patkar, daughter of Nagaraj and Barathi Patkars, has scaled new heights in the field of chess. Nisha, in the seventh standard at Jnanadeepa School, has participated in many state, national and international chess tournaments and carved out a niche for herself. Trained by national chess player Sri Krishna Udupa of Nalanda Chess Academy, she now holds 1845 rank in the FIDE. She was ranked 20th in the Asian Youth Chess Championship in 2005. She took part in the Commonwealth Chess championship and Nagpur Mayor’s Cup in 2008. She has participated in around 35 national-level chess championships. She also bagged the best player in U-9 national-level chess championship in 2004. She has won 4th place in the CBSE south zone national competition in 2005 and in U-12 Nationals held at Sangli in 2008.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
It's pretty funny - dondelion and I were together the entire time we visited the Domes on Sunday 12/28 and I took 30 more photos than he did - of the same stuff! LOL! Here's a photo of dondelion taking a photo of the Domes :) The next photo is a view from the entry into the "Show Dome" featuring the winter/holidays exhibit. It's a veritable feast of eye-catching color and textures. There were lots of people seeing the Domes when we were there - a lot more people than I've ever seen there during previous visits. The revamp (as I understand it, sponsored by a private philanthropical organization) is a great success, the place looks great. A new light show (haven't seen it yet) has also been added thanks to the financial grant that enabled the revamp. The Domes have always been a spectacular sight across the Menomonee River Valley at night to traffic on the expressways and drivers using the viaducts on 6th, 16th, 27th and 35th Streets. They glow and seem to pulsate in the night air - sometimes suggesting the homes of the future (geodesic domes), sometimes suggesting something from outer space. With the addition of a circle of color lights around the "collar" of each of the Domes near their apex, they are even more noticeable than before. Ahhh, looking at the photo of the show makes me yearn for summer. It's gotten very nasty weather-wise here tonight. The temperature has plummeted, the winds are howling and my driveway is once again loaded with ice pellets and snow drifted to half a foot already (we're only supposed to get an inch or two of snow tonight - HA!) Tomorrow will be even worse. Windchills back to 20 below zero while I'm hiking to the bus stop in the morning. Argh! On the plus side, I'm now stuffed with the leftovers from last night's outing to Joey Buona's - chopped salad and a large Supreme Pizza. Oh, it was soooo good! Okay, the salad was a wee little bit soggy after more than 24 hours in the fridge here, but it was still delicious. And dondelion left four pieces of pizza for my supper. Now I'm sleepy. Time to wrap it up for the night.
GM Susan Polgar's December 26, 2008 column from the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal (Online): Polgar: A year-end recap of Texas Tech, SPICE and chess in Lubbock Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Friday, December 26, 2008Story last updated at 12/26/2008 - 3:38 pm First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year! Secondly, I would like to thank everyone for your support and for sending in so many wonderful comments. Here is a recap of just some of the SPICE activities and various chess events in Lubbock in the past 12 months: • Members of SPICE conducted various Chess Workshops (hosted by the TTU English Department) for LISD teachers and educators in Region 17. • The TTU Knight Raiders Chess Team and SPICE conducted the Super Saturday Chess classes for local youngsters over four Saturdays. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation organized and hosted the first ever Lubbock Open Scholastic (K-12) Championship with 109 participants at Monterey High School. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation hosted and conducted the Susan Polgar All-Star Chess Training for some of the most talented girls in America as well as the "Chess: It's a Girl Thing" Summer Camp at TTU. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation hosted the 5th annual Susan Polgar National Invitational Championship, the most prestigious all-girls national championship in the U.S., at the Frazier Pavilion. • SPICE and the Susan Polgar Foundation organized and hosted the 2008 SPICE CUP International Chess Festival. The main event was the SPICE Cup Invitational, the highest rated 10-player round robin International chess tournament in U.S. history. Another highlight of the festival was the Texas Women's Open Championship. • Visit Lubbock and the Susan Polgar Foundation donated two giant chess sets to the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport. They are being placed on each end of the passenger terminal for all travelers to use. Lubbock is the first airport to have done this. SPICE helped started or supported chess programs in numerous schools in the area, for example at Harwell Elementary (thanks to the support of the Lubbock Area Foundation), the All-Saints School, Centennial Elementary, Murfee Elementary and Premier High School. We continued our excellent collaboration with Lubbock ISD and Region 17 to promote chess in education. I had the opportunity to present SPICE, Texas Tech and Lubbock: • at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash. • at the Chess in Education Seminar in Chicago • at the Raytheon's Innovation Day in Los Angeles • at the TCA workshop in Houston with Dr. Alexey Root of UTD • in Budapest, Hungary • in Dresden at the 2008 World Chess Olympiad • at the Chess & Technology Conference in San Luis, Argentina, organized by "Universidad de la Punta" SPICE, Texas Tech, and Lubbock also received plenty of promotion: • at the National Elementary (K-6) Chess Championship in Pittsburgh, PA • at the third annual Susan Polgar World Open for Boys and Girls in Las Vegas • at the 2008 U.S. Open in Dallas • at the Chess Grand Slam Final in Bilbao, Spain • at the National K-12 Championship in Orlando, Fla. In the past year, through the Susan Polgar Foundation, we have given out hundreds of chess sets, chess boards, chess DVDs, chess curriculum, etc. to many of the local schools. Last but not least, Lubbock and Texas Tech received the prestigious "2008 Chess City of the Year" and "2008 Chess College of the Year" awards by the United States Chess Federation. Please keep questions and comments coming by e-mailing me at Susan.Polgar@ttu.edu. See also www.SPICE.ttu.edu and www.SusanPolgar.blogspot.com for more information.
Excerpted from The Times of India Sport on! 31 Dec 2008, 0000 hrs IST, RUBINA A KHAN , TNN Check mate Chess-wonder Dronavalli Harika from the Guntur district holds the titles of Woman Grandmaster and International Master, and has been given the Arjuna Award. Her feats this year include the Girl's title at the World Junior Chess Championship in Turkey.
A great idea! Make A Resolution to Stick To Last Update: 5:43 pm Web produced by: Jessica Noll Whether you are vowing to take up a hobby, get fit, learn a new skill, read more, become more computer literate, volunteer your time or get your GED in the New Year, the Kenton County Public Library can help with your resolution. Always wanted to learn to play chess? Here is your chance! The Mary Ann Mongan Library in Covington will offer a two-part Chess Class Saturdays, Jan. 17 and 31, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The class for children in first grade through adults will teach the basics such as pieces, point values, rules and moves. The Covington location also offers Chess Club for children in grades K-12 every Thursday from 3-5 p.m. It’s open to all skill levels.
This isn't news - just further confirmation of earlier studies that I wrote about at Goddesschess some time ago. Women are NOT inferior to men when it comes to playing chess, it's just that the relative sample of women who do play is so much smaller than that for men, the statistics get skewed. Women players distribute across a classic "Bell curve" the same way that male players do, it's just that theirs is a LOT smaller. Chess isn't necessarily about testosterone or spatial perception, or even "superior" intelligence. Women do and can play as well as men, and will achieve equal levels of GMs and IMs with the guys - if we can somehow as a world manage to get to that "critical mass" of female chessplayers where the players that possess the skills required for chess reach equal levels. There is still a long way to go. So, darlings, don't be fooled by the folks who say that women can't play chess, or that women don't play chess as well as men, or whatever blah blah blah about the supposed "inferiority" of women when it comes to playing chess. It's a lot of baloney and fear on the part of the folks spewing forth these misleading statements (at best) or downright lies (at worst) about female chessplayers.
Hola darlings! Damn, it is COLD outside. I was pelted smack in the kisser with sleety iceballs all the way home from the bus stop - 3/4th of a mile of sheer hell that would test the mettle of the most stalwart. Ach, I'm sounding like Hemingway - better stop now! The January 2009 issue of Chess Life magazine from USCF arrived in the mail today and there is one hot cover photo of a suited-up Gregory Kaidanov, he is just smoking in that photo! Well done to whomever took that photo, it's a great shot. The shot on the lead pages of the article (267-27) was nice too, but done in black and white. There was an equally fine shot of Jen Shahade on page 37 in the Hip Hop Variation article (about RZA's efforts to promote chess), also in black and white. Mostly I skip through Chess Life, because I do not play through any of the games or read any of the analysis, not being a "serious" chessplayer but a hopeless case -- my interest in chess stems from admiration for the people who actually play the game for something other than occasional amusement! I stop at photos that I find admirable and will read through an article occasionally if it about the ancient origins of the game, about a female or females playing chess or one of my favorite players. Now, I did not read this article, on the 2008 Women's World Championship by GM Pal Benko, but I will spend some time looking it over later because I admired his honesty in writing this - his lead-in says: As a conflict took place between Russian and Georgian troops, the women's world championship lost competitors to the political fallout. One consequence is the imprecision of many of the championship level end-games. I look forward to going over his insights in this article. I noticed last month - and again this month - in large ads, the 2009 National Open is not going to be held at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas in June! Why the hell not? What is, exactly, the "South Point Hotel" - the new venue? Off strip and out of the way and inconvenient! Ach! I think this is a big mistake, but hopefully the rooms will be LOTS cheaper for the patzer players who fork over their entry fees to pay for the prizes won by the big guns, and everyone will be happy - and, come to think of it - maybe some of those overweight dudes will walk off some of their bellies trekking to and from the South Point to the Strip, where all the action still, truly, is!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Hola darlings! Today dondelion and I visited Mother Newton and later we visited the newly revamped Domes! It was much colder today than yesterday, brrrr. Yesterday was a day of rain and fog and massive amounts of melting snow! Then yet another weather system came through late last night or very early this morning - WHOOSH! - and it was back to Winter! Fortunately for us, the melt-off yesterday melted all of the accumulated snow from Christmas Eve Day! It was something amazing, actually. When the taxi pulled up to the house the evening of 12/26 bringing us home from the airport, the roads in the subdivision were still snow-covered and slippery. But it was already warming up amazingly, and the snow-caused fog was even then getting thicker by the moment. Indeed, by Saturday morning the Milwaukee airport was intermittently closed due to poor visibility. Today dawned cold and bright and crisp. We headed out around 10 AM and got back home about 5 PM. The Domes have been newly revamped! The metal structures of the geodesic domes were reinforced and damaged triple-pane glass replaced here and there -- restoring more than 40 years wear and tear! The interior public spaces were revamped too. The bathrooms were totally redone and enlarged, very nice (well, at least the ladies' room was very nice, dondelion didn't notice anything in particular about the mens' room! The ladies room had new sinks and stalls, and additional space, new flooring, and a new paint job.) The terracotta tiled floors were restored and/or redone in parts, everything got repainted, the ceiling was totally replaced, new lighting and benches were put into place, the admissions booth was relocated to the center of the entrance rather than the right side, the doors were replaced, the gift shop was relocated. And - get this - the admission price was lowered! I remember distinctly the last visit dondelion and I had to the rather sad and worn looking Domes - although the interior presentations of the Domes was still as fantastic as ever! I don't exactly remember the admission charge, but I know it was a bit more than $7 each. Now the admission has been lowered to $5 -- or maybe it was just lowered for the holidays? -- I hope the lowered admission is permanent because the displays in the Domes are spectacular and at $5 many more people will come. Indeed, there were lots of people there today when we arrived, shortly before 2:30 PM. The line moved quickly and I was really impressed with the improvements in the appearance of the place. More tomorrow. It's late here, I have to work tomorrow early, I'm working on my laptop after my wireless network crashed on 12/24 - I don't EVEN want to go there, darlings. Time to call it a night.
What a whirlwind the past few days have been, whew! We're back home from Las Vegas and decompressing. We were fortunate in getting out of Milwaukee only about 2.5 hours behind schedule on Christmas Eve day! It started snowing early, and the cab driver on the way back on on 12/26 said we got between 12 and 15 inches (I believe it). Anyway, we arrived late in LV but the hotel we stayed at (Imperial Palace) had very nice rooms, both of us were comfortable and well looked after by the very friendly staff. More about our LV stay later. We spent Christmas Day at Isis' place and had brunch there, and watched happy Christmas movies until we suddenly had to run back to the Venetian to get our seat assignments for the Christmas Night show of "Phantom of the Opera." Wow - more about that later too. Then we had a rather interesting late dinner (10:30 p.m.) at what was billed as a top-notch Italian restorante - well, it wasn't quite what we had in mind - more about that later... The flight back home on 12/26 left LV on time and arrived in Milwaukee on time - wonderful! The weather - eek! Here is a photo of Mother Newton's Christmas Tree (we visited today).