Saturday, August 16, 2008

Goddess: Tamar, Georgian Goddess of the Sky

In Georgian mythology, Tamar was a Georgian sky goddess who controlled the weather patterns. Tamar enslaved Dilis Varskvlavi, the Morning Star, who was master of winter; whenever he escaped, snow began to fall, but annually she captured him and brought summer back to the land. She was an eternal virgin who rode through the air on a serpent saddled and bridled with gold. This serpent-riding sky goddess is also identified with the Georgian goddess Lamara - "eye of the Earth." Lamara is probably a cognate of Lamia. According to Barbara Walker's "A Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets": Lamia Greek name for the Libyan serpent-goddess -- Medusa, Neith, Athene, Anatha, or Buto.(1) Lamia was probably a variant of Babylonian Lamashtu, "Mother of Gods" worshipped at Der as a serpent with a woman's head. Though Lamashtu was feared as a Kali-like Destroyer, yet she was also revered as a supreme goddess, called Daughter of Heaven and Great Lady.(2) Greek myth made her another rival of Hera. The Latin Vulgate Bible gave "Lamia" as a translation of Hebrew Lilith, Adam's recalcitrant first wife. The Authorized Version rendered lamia as a screech owl [the owl was Greek goddess Athena's totem animal and is a carry-over from the archaic eye-goddess tradition of paleothic times, where the bird represented a shaman's ability to fly through the three realms of reality: the Earth, the Underworld, and the Heavens]. The Revised Version translated the same word as "night monster." During the Middle Ages, lamia became a general term for a witch. A 15th-century German professor of theology stated authoritatively that lamiae were "demons in the shape of old women."(3) See Vagina Dentata. Notes: (1) Graves, G.M., 1, 205. (2) Budge, A.T., 117. (3) Robbins, 295-96. Medusa - archaic Greek goddess of life and death; Neith - archaic goddess of Upper Egypt who, despite her warrior aspects and control over life and death, introduced weaving and other domestic arts to the proto-Egyptians; Athene - archaic Athene was a fierce killing goddess who sent people deemed worthy to death to be born again, in later Greece she was "domesticated" to a thematic warrior goddess but primarily identified with Wisdom, who in totemic form rode on her shoulder in the shape of an owl; Anatha - archaic mother goddess of the greater Middle East controlling life and death through fertility (cognates: Inanna, Anath); Buto - archaic serpent goddess of the delta region of pre-dynastic Egypt, a goddess of fertility and resurrection and an icon of protection for the pharaohs. You can probably figure out what Vagina Dentata signifies! Hint: Think about the chewing gum "Dentine" and the word "dentist." Both words spring from the proto-Indo-European root word -'den.' Oh, what the heck - here's Barbara's Walker entry on the chomping vagina. Think about the imagery of a backgammon board with all of those "pointy monster teeth"... Vagina Dentata "Toothed vagina," the classic symbol of men's fear of sex, expressing the unconscious belief that a woman may eat or castrate her partner during intercourse. Freud said "Probably no male human being is spared the terrifying shock of threatened castration at the sight of the female genitals."(1) But he had the reason wrong. The real reason for this "terrifying shock" is mouth-symbolism, now recognized universally in myth and fantasy: "It is well known in psychiatry that both males and females fantasize as a mouth the female's entranceway to the vagina."(2) The more patriarchal the society [right now I'm hearing the Village People's "Macho Man" playing through the strains of my mind...] the more fear seems to be aroused by the fantasy. I'm not going to copy the entire entry, which is lengthy but filled with fascinating information: Stories of the devouring Mother are ubiquitous in myths, representing the death-fear which the male psyche often transformed into a sex-fear. Ancient writings describe the male sexual function not as "taking" or "possessing" the female, but rather "being taken," or "putting forth."(7) Ejaculation was viewed s a loss of a man's vital force, which was "eaten" by a woman. The Greek sema or "semen" meant both "seed" and "food." Sexual "consummation" was the same as consuming (the male). [We now see the deep psychological roots for rape, which is not a crime of passion but a crime of fear, a desprate attempt to overcome fear by "domination." And who has not heard the old "wisdom" that a male athlete is not to have sex with a female before a major event, because it will "sap" his energy?"] Distinction between mouths and female genitals was blurred by the Greek idea of the lamiae - lustful she-demons, born of the Libyan snake-goddess Lamia. Their name meant either "lecherous vaginas" or "gluttonous gullets."(9) Lamia was a Greek name for the divine female serpent called Kundalini in India, Uraeus or Per-Uatchet [Buto] in Egypt, and Lamashtu in Babylon. Her Babylonian consort was Pazuzu [Damuzi, Tammuz], he of the serpent penis. Lamia's legend, with its notion that males are born to be eaten, led to Pliny's report on the sexual life of snakes that was widely believe dthorughout Europe even iup to the 20th century: a male snake fertizlizes the female snake by putting his head into her mouth and allowing himself to be eaten.(10) [Too bad so much of western culture is based upon "Greek" ideas - they've really screwed things up, haven't they.] Sioux Indians told a tale similar to that of the Lamia. A beautiful seductive woman accepted the love of a young warrior and united with him inside a cloud. When the cloud lifted, the woman stood alone. The man was a heap of bones being gnawed by snakes at her feet.(11) Mouth and vulva were equated in many Egyptian myths. Ma-Nu, the western gate whereby the sun god daily re-entered his Mother, was sometimes a "cleft" (yoni) and sometimes a "mouth."(12) According to Philostratus, magical women "by arousing sexual desire seek to devour whom they wish."(15) To the patriarchal Persians and Moslems this seemed a distinct possibility. Viewing women's mouths as either obscene, dangerous, or overly seductive, they insisted on veiling them. Yet men's mouths, which look no different, were not viewed as threatening. [I make exception here - as far as I can tell from their art, pre-Islamic Persian women did not wear veils; in fact, they dressed much as Persian men did, in loose-fitting trousers and tight sleeved blouses with over-vests resting at the waist.] "Mouth" comes from the same root as "mother" - Anglo-Saxon muth, also related to the Egyptian Goddess Mut. Vulvas have labiae, "lips," and many men have believed that behind the lips lie teeth. [Gee, how did we ever manage to survive as a race if men were/are so afraid of having sex? Is that why alcohol, in its earliest forms of beer and wine, was invented???] Well, you get the picture :) I'll leave you with this thought: Moslems attributed all kinds of dread powers to a vulva. It could "bite off" a man's eye-beam, resulting in blindness for any man who looked into its cavity. A sultan of Damascus was said to have lost his sight in this manner. Christian legend claimed he went to Sardinia to be cured of his blindness by a maraculous idol of the virgin Mary - wh0, being eternally virgin, had her door-mouth permanently closed by a veil-hymen.(20) Okay, so just why is it that male pilgrims in Mecca kiss a yoni-shaped silver-lipped idol which is part of a meteorite built into Islam's holiest site but was worshipped as a symbol of the Mother Goddess before the advent of Mohammed?

Chess Politics in India

From, August 13, 2008 National B Chess Tournament in crisis National B Chess Tournament, schedule to be held in Goa from September 15 to 23, 2008, may be cancelled as the GSCA is a defunct body. Barve, who represented Goa at National 'B' Annual Chess Tournament held in Tamilnadu, revealed this startling fact. SHRIKANT BARVE who represented Goa at National ’B’ Annual Chess Tournament held at Dindigul, Tamilnadu. in 2007, has raised his objection for holding National B Chess Tournament in Goa by Goa State Chess Association. He has submitted his objection to Sports Authority of Goa, which controls sports activity in Goa and finances Goa State Chess Association. Reason for objection: Goa State Chess Association (GSCA) is a defunct body. Barve came to know about the status of GSCA when he applied for certified copy of registration of GSCA. In reply, the registrar had stated that Regd No 39 of 78, in the name of All Goa Daman Diu State Chess Association alias Goa State Chess Association has not renewed its registration certificate till today. Therefore, it becomes an unregistered society under section 3(B)(5) of the Societies Registration (Goa Second Amendment ) Act, 1998. GSCA had a opportunity on April 27, 2008, to renew its registration under Registrar of Societies Act. An annual general body meeting of GSCA was fixed on April 27, 2008. This was fixed on January by the executive body meeting, wherein, Barve was also invited. Barve had offered the venue for annual general meeting (AGM) and an ex member had accepted Barve’s offer and he had booked an air-conditioned hall for April 27, at International Centre Goa (ICG), Dona Paula. In fact, on January, an executive meeting was also held at ICG. But Sameer Salgaocars, All India Chess Association vice president and president of GSCA and others cancelled that meeting without informing Barve. Had that meeting been held, everything would have rectified by now. But now it is too late. Please also note that selection for Goa team to represent Goa at National B has not been held till date. For the past 20 years, it was always held in last week of May or first week of June. GSCA knows that the state has not bothered to hold selection tournament for Goa team to represent Goa at National B. Also, a civil suit filed by Taleigao Chess Academy (TCA) against GSCA came up for hearing on August 12, 2008. It was regarding affiliation of TCA to GSCA. Barve is one of the respondents in that case. Next hearing of that case is on August 30, 2008. Defunct status of GSCA may crop up on August 30!

Hnefatafl Reborn

From BBC News August 15, 2008 Ancient Viking board game revived Enthusiasts in the Shetland Islands are staging the first world championship of an ancient Viking board game. Hnefatafl was popular in northern Europe for hundreds of years until it was eclipsed by the rise of chess. The game simulates a Viking raid, with the king and his defenders trying to escape a larger force. The contest between a dozen players, on the island of Fetlar, will be played on wooden boards with 121 squares and the king starting in the middle. Hnefatafl is a game with a pedigree stretching back 1,000 years. Warlike contest It was taken to Shetland by the Vikings and there were references to Welsh and Irish versions in the Norse adventure stories known as sagas. The game was popular because - like chess - it was a warlike contest. There will be no medals in the competition on Fetlar but the winner will receive a board, a set and the title Hnefatafl Grand Master. The games will be followed from as far afield as Texas and New York, where new players have been learning online. An interesting history of hnefatafl from Game Cabinet. See also Hneftafl: An Experimental Reconstruction.

Friday, August 15, 2008

South Ossetians Looting and Worse in Georgia

For those of you out there who don't think the Georgia women chess players have legitimate fears for their safety playing on Russian soil in Nalchik, read this: From The New York Times By SABRINA TAVERNISE and MATT SIEGEL Published: August 14, 2008 TBILISI, Georgia — As the conflict between Russia and Georgia enters its second week, there is growing evidence of looting and “ethnic cleansing” in a number of villages throughout the area of conflict. The attacks — some witnessed by reporters or documented by a human rights group — include stealing, the burning of villages and possibly even killings. Some are ethnically motivated, while at least some of the looting appears to be the work of profiteers in areas from which the authorities have fled. The identities of the attackers vary, but a pattern of violence by ethnic Ossetians against ethnic Georgians is emerging and has been confirmed by some Russian authorities. “Now Ossetians are running around and killing poor Georgians in their enclaves,” said Maj. Gen. Vyacheslav Nikolaevich Borisov, the commander in charge of the city of Gori, occupied by the Russians. [Why are the Russians in Gori? - it's not in South Ossetia.] A lieutenant from an armored transport division that was previously in Chechnya said: “We have to be honest. The Ossetians are marauding.” The hostilities between Russia and Georgia started last week when the Georgian military marched into the disputed territory of South Ossetia, and the Russians responded by sending troops into the pro-Russia, separatist enclave and then into Georgia proper. Dozens of houses were on fire on Tuesday in the northern suburbs of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. Reporters saw armed men moving on the streets, carting away electronics and other household items. It was not clear who the men were. They did not appear to be part of the Russian forces, but the Russians were not stopping them. “We’re not a police force, we’re a military force,” said a Russian lieutenant colonel in response to a reporter’s question. “It’s not our job to do police work.” Still, there was some evidence that the Russian military might be making efforts in some places to stop the rampaging. A column of 12 men with their hands on their heads, several wearing uniforms, were marched into the Russian military base in Gori on Thursday afternoon. The identities of the men were unclear. [Probably Georgian prisoners of war.] Human Rights Watch issued a report on Thursday that documented attacks by ethnic Ossetians in and around Tskhinvali on Wednesday. Researchers saw a number of houses on fire in the town of Java. They quoted a South Ossetian intelligence officer as saying that his fighters had burned the houses to “make sure” that the Georgians could not come back. The report’s findings also seemed to indicate that early Russian accounts of casualties, which in the first days of fighting reached 2,000, were far too high. In Tskhinvali , where the heaviest fighting took place, the local hospital received 44 corpses and 273 wounded people from Aug. 6, after clashes between separatists and Georgians, to Aug. 12, the report said, citing a doctor. The report quoted the doctor as saying that the majority of the wounded were affiliated with the military, although it was not clear if he meant the Russian or Georgian armies or Ossetian fighters. As of Aug. 13, none of the wounded remained in the hospital, the report said. Many were transferred to mobile hospitals in the Russian Emergencies Ministry. An elderly woman from the village of Kurta who gave only her first name, Elene, said she had been forced to walk three days to safety after Russian-speaking men broke into her house. An Ossetian man was with them, she said. “They entered the houses, took whatever they liked, and burned everything.” They threatened to shoot her after taking her valuables, but her neighbor, a Russian woman, intervened on her behalf. “She said, ‘Please don’t do this,’ ” said the woman. The men shot at the ground several times and then left. She fled. Five villages in her area were looted and people driven out, she said. In one of them, Oreti, she said she saw the bodies of two women decomposing. The walk was terrifying. She spent one night in an empty house. She was reminded of the violence that took the life of her husband in the early 1990s, when Ossetians and Georgians fought an all-out war. “I wish I’d died soon after my husband,” she said. “There are so many deaths.” A Georgian official said some of the worst “ethnic cleansing” was in the towns of Eredvi, Ditsi, Tirdznisi and Kuraleti. A man from the village of Karetezhvyari said he returned to check his house on Thursday, only to discover several houses on fire. The man, who gave only his first name, Nukri, was livid about the lootings and the Russian advance. “They were a big empire, and they fell,” he said, “but they can’t stop acting like one.” Sabrina Tavernise reported from Gori and Tbilisi, Georgia, and Matt Siegel from Tskhinvali, Georgia. Bryon Denton contributed reporting from Gori.

Kill the Oceans, We All Die...

What would happen if the oceans could no longer sustain life? Think about it... From National Geographic News "Dead Zones" Multiplying Fast, Coastal Water Study Says Anne Minard August 14, 2008 "Dead zones" are on the rise, says a new study that identified stark growth in the number of coastal areas where the water has too little oxygen to sustain marine life. There are now more than 400 known dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, compared to 305 in the 1990s, according to study author Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Those numbers are up from 162 in the 1980s, 87 in the 1970s, and 49 in the 1960s, Diaz said. In the 1910s, four dead zones had been identified. Diaz and co-author Rutger Rosenberg, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said in a press release that dead zones are now "the key stressor on marine ecosystems" and "rank with overfishing, habitat loss, and harmful algal blooms as global environmental problems." Their study appears in the August 15 issue of the journal Science. Dead Zones Dead zones occur when excess nutrients—usually nitrogen and phosphorus—from agriculture or the burning of fossil fuels seep into the water system and fertilize blooms of algae along the coast. As the microscopic plants die and sink to the ocean floor, they feed bacteria, which consume dissolved oxygen from surrounding waters. This limits oxygen availability for bottom-dwelling organisms and the fish that eat them. (Related story: "Ocean Dead Zones Growing; May Be Linked to Warming" [May 1, 2008]) Many marine ecosystems experience low oxygen levels between spring and fall, Diaz said. But the lack of oxygen becomes persistent if nutrient levels stay high. Earth's largest dead zone, in the Baltic Sea, experiences oxygen deprivation year-round, the press release said. The second largest dead zone surrounds the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite decades of efforts to clean up U.S. rivers and lakes, high nitrogen levels are currently combining with strong water flow to make that dead zone larger than it has ever been. Government-supported scientists not involved with Diaz's review are forecasting an expansion of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone to a record 8,800 square miles (23,000 square kilometers), an area larger than New Jersey. (Related story: "Gulf of Mexico "Dead Zone" Is Size of New Jersey" [May 25, 2005]) Nancy Rabalais, executive director and professor at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, said the paper "shows that there is a lot of lost production of [seafloor] animals—those living in the sediments—that could be food" for fishery stocks. Diaz and Rosenberg note in the press release that dead zones tend to be overlooked until they start to affect organisms that people eat. Another researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, fish pathologist Wolfgang Vogelbein, said high rates of disease [missing word?] Bay stripers are due to the stress they encounter trying to escape the Chesapeake Bay's summertime dead zone. Mixed Efforts Some local and regional governments have stepped in with conservation and cleanup efforts to combat dead zones. Maryland, for instance, gives $18 million a year in grants to farmers who plant additional crops after their harvest to absorb leftover fertilizer before it ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. Rabalais, who was not involved in the Diaz review, said she has seen little sustained effort to combat nutrient runoff in the Mississippi River. "In the recent years of increased acreage of corn and biofuels, the amount of fertilizer used and the amount of nitrogen per volume of Mississippi River water has increased dramatically," Rabalais said. "What we have is this pulse of nutrients that are coming down our rivers every year," Diaz added. "Somehow we have to find a way to stop that. "The loss of fertilizer is an economic drain on the industry. It is not something the farming community wants to happen, and controlling it is the key to controlling the spread of dead zones."

Georgian Chess Femmes Refuse to Play In Russia

For their own safety, the Georgian women's chess team has withdrawn from the Women's World Chess Championship which begins on August 28, 2008 in Nalchik, in a Russian Republic not far from the war zone of South Ossetia, Georgia. I just cannot fathom how some people refuse to understand why the Georgian women do not want to play in a Russian republic close to the war zone! For goddess' sake, take your heads out of your doofusses! I saw the announcement at Susan Polgar's blog (as always, her blog is on top of the news) and tracked down the link. Here is the article: From Report: Georgian chess team won't play in Russia ASSOCIATED PRESS 11:23 a.m. August 15, 2008 MOSCOW – The Interfax news agency says the women's national chess team in Georgia is refusing to play in the World Women's Chess Championship because it will be held in Russia. The team's refusal stems from the conflict between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Interfax quoted Maya Lomineishvili, a member of the team, as saying it is not boycotting the championship, but rather refusing to play in Russia. The tournament is scheduled to begin in two weeks in Nalchik, Russia, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the South Ossetian border. Boris Kutin [note the name - a Russian], president of the European Chess Federation, says on the event's Web site that he cannot see an alternative to holding the event as planned.

Women's World Chess Championship

More baloney from Russian puppets mouthing from Putin's script. Does no one in Europe have any cojones other than the chess femmes who made the initial protest? Shame, SHAME on the ECU. Shame, SHAME on anyone who is not speaking up about this travesty! First, this statement from European Chess Union President Boris Kutin - yes, you read that right, BORIS KUTIN. Sure sounds Russian to me, smirk. Reports from Statement of the ECU President Boris Kutin regarding the World Woman Chess Championship in Nalchik After yesterday's message from the FIDE President Kirsan Ilymzhinov regarding the Women World Chess Championship in Nalchik, today a letter from the ECU President Boris Kutin followed. 14.08.2008 Following the recent dramatic developments in South Ossetia and the public reaction of certain chess players concerning the World Women's Championship in Nalchik (Russia), I would like to emphasize that mixing politics with sports is clearly against the spirit of the international chess community. Always and everywhere. From my side I cannot see any alternative other than organising this event as planned and doing everything possible in order for all participants of the World Championship to arrive in Nalchik and start, without any postponement, the battle for the highest title in women's chess. Gens Una Sumus! Boris Kutin President of the European Chess Union Well of course there ARE alternatives, so why put the women players and, particularly, the Georgian players, in danger near a war zone? Why would any female player in her right mind want to play chess anywhere in Russia and possibly subject themselves to the "tender care" of the Russian army and/or armed militia from North and South Ossetia roaming around the area? Is Kirsan going to provide the players with armed body guards? Can he absolutely guarantee their physical safety from snipers and would-be rapists? Is he going to put a cordon of tanks around the hotel and playing venue to prevent a raid? For that matter, one shell dropped on the roof and kaboom, good bye top women chessplayers. Think I'm kidding? Think again. Putin is capable of ANYTHING. Then, this statement - it's a "gag me" but what would you expect from another Russian puppet? Why would anyone give any veracity to a statement made by the RUSSIAN ORGANIZING COMMITTEE? Like - DUH! Statement of Arsen Kanokov Chairman of Organizing committee of the World women’s championship 2008 The Organizing Committee of the Women’s World Chess Championship 2008 is deeply disappointed and bewildered by the attempts of some circles by no means spots ones to break up the competition of the strongest women chess players of the world scheduled to be held in Nalchik. Sharing entirely and fully attitude of FIDE and European Chess Union toward an open letter of Georgian women chess players, we believe that representatives of a famous chess school shouldn’t be pawns in somebody's unworthy game. The preparation for the Championship has entered its final stages and the Organizing Committee claims that high requirements of FIDE to all aspects of preparation and holding the most significant chess event of the year will be met and nothing will prevent chess players of the participating countries from showing their game potential. See you in peaceful and hospitable capital of Kabardino-Balkaria! We are one family! Arsen Kanokov, Chairman of Organizing committee of the World women’s championship 2008. Nalchik, 14 august 2008 These people are the ultimate hypocrites and totally lacking in moral courage to say and do the right thing. "We are all one family." Yeah, right, dudes. I hope they get their just desserts some day from the Devil and his pitchfork!

World Juniors Chess Championship (Girls)

The results are in! Here are the top results for the final round: 1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 10 ½ - ½ 8 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 2 WFM PAIKIDZE Nazi 2277 GEO 8 1 - 0 9 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 3 WIM GOMES Mary Ann 2316 IND 8 1 - 0 8½ WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 4 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 8 1 - 0 8 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 5 WFM BODNARUK Anastasia 2394 RUS 7½ 1 - 0 7½ WFM SGIRCEA Silvia-Raluca 2167 ROU 6 WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 7½ 0 - 1 7½ WGM MAMEDJAROVA Turkan 2284 AZE 7 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 7½ 1 - 0 7½ GUO Qi 2048 CHN 8 WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 7 1 - 0 7 ALAVI Hour Homa 1723 IRI 9 WIM NADIG Kruttika 2241 IND 7 1 - 0 7 WGM CORKE Anya 2255 HKG 10 WIM YILDIZ Betül Cemre 2236 TUR 7 ½ - ½ 7 MUMINOVA Nafisa 2242 UZB 11 ISGANDAROVA Khayala 2207 AZE 6½ 0 - 1 6½ WGM FOISOR Sabina-Francesca 2337 ROU 12 WIM HAMRAKULOVA Yulduz 2145 UZB 6½ ½ - ½ 6½ WIM MAJDAN Joanna 2323 POL 13 WIM DAULYTE Deimante 2288 LTU 6½ 1 - 0 6½ WIM IVAKHINOVA Inna 2248 RUS 14 MISOVIC Sanja 1914 MNE 6½ 0 - 1 6½ WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA Here are the top final standings: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts 1 1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 10½ 2-5 2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 9 31 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 9 7 WIM GOMES Mary Ann 2316 IND 9 14 WFM PAIKIDZE Nazi 2277 GEO 9 6-10 18 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 8½ 12 WGM MAMEDJAROVA Turkan 2284 AZE 8½ 4 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 8½ 38 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 8½ 3 WFM BODNARUK Anastasia 2394 RUS 8½ 11-13 10 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 8 8 WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 8 25 WIM NADIG Kruttika 2241 IND 8 14-23 33 WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 7½ 13 WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA 7½ 23 WFM NIKOLOVA Adriana 2242 BUL 7½ 48 GUO Qi 2048 CHN 7½ 24 MUMINOVA Nafisa 2242 UZB 7½ 26 WIM YILDIZ Betül Cemre 2236 TUR 7½ 5 WGM FOISOR Sabina-Francesca 2337 ROU 7½ 16 WIM POURKASHIYAN Atousa 2269 IRI 7½ 11 WIM DAULYTE Deimante 2288 LTU 7½ 34 WFM SGIRCEA Silvia-Raluca 2167 ROU 7½ Congratulations to all of the chess femmes! The Indian women are proving a power house. Dronavalli ran away with the event this year with 10.5, good for her! Mary Ann Gomes played excellently in the second half and finished in 4th place with 9.0! Tatev Abrahamyan won her final game and finished in 15th place with 7.5 - a score achieved by several players. Narmin Kazimova was impressive, finishing in 9th place with 8.5 after a final round victory and picking up 45 ratings points. If she had not run into the buzz saw named Dronavalli, she would probably have finished much higher; but actually, 9th in the world juniors girls is an amazing achievement for a player who has not had much international exposure. (Well, she did mix it up with the elite women in the European Individual World Chess Championship earlier this year - valuable experience). Special congratulations to Kubra Ozturk who wins the bronze medal for her home country, host of this year's World Junior Championships. The hype surrounding Ozturk in the Turkish press has been justified (she picked up 57 ratings points for her performance) - but she's not a player who has been much on the chess radar. It's great to see that Turkey has stepped forward and has hosted some excellent events over the past couple of years, raising it's profile as part of the continental European chess scene. In the World Juniors, WGM Hou Yifan finished in 6th place with 9.0, behind winner GM Gupta Abhijeet (IND 2551), with 10.0. Yifan gains 19 ELO ratings points, a performance rating of 2661 and her second GM norm.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Job Vacancy: Apply To Be a Kumari Today!

From the Independent (UK) Situation vacant: Girl, 3, wanted for role of living goddess. Must offer blessings By Andrew Buncombe, Asia Correspondent Thursday, 14 August 2008 Nepal's astrologers are reviewing horoscopes to find the replacement for the current goddess, who is 11. "If we don't change her now, we'll have to wait until next year which could be late," said Deepak Bahadur Pandey, a senior official at the state-run Trust Corporation that oversees cultural affairs in the politically turbulent Himalayan nation. "If the girl starts menstruating while serving as kumari, it is considered inauspicious." For hundreds of years, living goddesses have been held sacred in Nepal and their blessings have been sought by officials and others seeking good fortune. Many campaigners believe the practice is outdated and harmful to the young girls, who must be willing to give up a normal childhood, live a cloistered life and offer occasional blessings. The contract is terminated when they reach puberty. There are more than a dozen kumari in Nepal, but it is the Kathmandu or chief Kumari that is the most important goddess. The abolition of the 240-year-old monarchy earlier this year and the declaration of Nepal as a republic has complicated the selection process this time. Traditionally, Nepal's king received the Kumari's annual blessing and astrologers would look for a child whose horoscope matched that of the monarch. Now officials have to find someone else to fill the king's shoes. Chunda Bajracharya, a professor of cultural studies at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, said the republican status of Nepal was no excuse to drop centuries-old traditions. "We cannot end these traditions just because there is no king." For the Kathmandu Kumari, cut off from the outside world, carried everywhere and not allowed outside her temple, life is not easy. Yet many families still put forward their daughters for the role, both for the supposed honour and for the modest compensation given to the family. In recent years campaigners have pointed out the detrimental effects of the tradition and former kumaris have told of their difficulty in adjusting to normal life once their contracts have been terminated. Three years ago, Pundevi Maharjan, a human rights lawyer in Kathmandu, filed a lawsuit claiming the children's rights were being abused and demanding reform. "I said exploitation and discrimination has been going on. This should be eliminated," she said last year. "We don't want to end the tradition but we have to change for the protection of the culture." But Mr Pandey said the secret selection process was already well under way for a new kumari. The girl must have perfect eyes, teeth, hair and not even the smallest scratch on her skin. Nepal held elections in April and former rebel Maoists are now poised to form the country's new government. Having campaigned stridently against the discrimination of the Nepalese Hindu caste system and for the establishment of a republic, it is unclear whether they will allow the kumari tradition to continue. Another person already out of a job is the former royal priest, Madhab Bhattarai. Perhaps not surprisingly, he regrets the abolition of the increasingly unpopular monarchy. "For centuries Nepal has remained socially harmonious, despite being a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-faith country," he said. "It was the king who was a central point of unity."

GM Maurice Ashley in Madison, WI!

I think GM Ashley is just one of the coolest guys, ever. So, it bothers me that this event did not get the publicity it deserves! It's tomorrow, for goddess sake! If I had known ahead of time, I'd have arranged things so I could have been at Madison to watch the proceedings in person. As it is, all I can do is write about it now. The GM is in Madison to promote financial education in America, and this is vital information for each and every one of us. If I had known 40 years ago what I've learned about investing since I joined my first investment club in 2001, I'd be a millionaire x2 by now. Sigh. University of Wisconsin-Madison News Play a chess grandmaster at Memorial Union Aug. 14, 2008 by Nicole Fritz Chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley will simultaneously play up to 25 of the best chess players at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., at an event scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 15. Up to a dozen playing places remain available for UW-Madison students, faculty and staff on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, e-mail with your name, phone number, age and address. Ashley is a world-renowned chess player and the only African American international grandmaster of chess. The Asset Builders of America are sponsoring Ashley's visit to Madison, as part of a weekend-long conference about financial education." As part of the conference, to be held Saturday, Aug. 16, at Wright Middle School, Ashley will also lecture on chess openings and address the conference about chess as a metaphor for life. "The mission is to promote financial education and wealth building for low and moderate income families and communities," says Robert Wynn, director of Asset Builders of America. "A lot of financial success is built off of education and education requires analytical thinking. Chess helps to develop cognitive and analytical thinking. We approach our mission from a very big picture perspective."

World Juniors Chess Championship (Girls)

See the news story in the prior post below! Here are the top results for the chess femmes in Round 12: 1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 9 1 - 0 7½ KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 8½ ½ - ½ 7 WFM BODNARUK Anastasia 2394 RUS 3 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 7½ ½ - ½ 8 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 4 WFM PAIKIDZE Nazi 2277 GEO 7 1 - 0 7½ WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 5 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 7 1 - 0 7 WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 6 ALAVI Hour Homa 1723 IRI 7 0 - 1 7 WIM GOMES Mary Ann 2316 IND Here are the top standings after Round 12: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts Fide Rtg+/- Ra Rp 1 1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 10 66 8 2244 2517 2 2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 9 63 9 2273 2466 3 18 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 8½ 58½ 35 2245 2403 4 31 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 8 54 48 2304 2354 5 10 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 8 52½ 14 2224 2349 6 7 WIM GOMES Mary Ann 2316 IND 8 51 7 2215 2320 7 4 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 8 48½ -6 2217 2342 8 14 WFM PAIKIDZE Nazi 2277 GEO 8 44½ 5 2166 2274 9 33 WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 7½ 56 36 2267 2290 10 12 WGM MAMEDJAROVA Turkan 2284 AZE 7½ 49½ -2 2178 2256 11 38 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 7½ ½ 39 2217 2311 48 GUO Qi 2048 CHN 7½ 47½ 60 2271 2336 13 3 WFM BODNARUK Anastasia 2394 RUS 7½ 44½ -18 2209 2231 14 34 WFM SGIRCEA Silvia-Raluca 2167 ROU 7½ 40 0 2088 2116 The 1, 2 and 3 spots remained the same - but there are several players who are gunning for that 3rd spot. Narmin Kazimova dropped from 6th place to 11th place after losing to Dronavalli - well, I knew she'd had a tough match-up but to put her up against the #1? Wow! Turkey's WFM Tubra Ozturk is having a great tournament and rebounded after her loss to Dronavalli. Can Kazimova do the same tomorrow? India has 3 players in the top 10. Other than one lone player in the Junior Girls, Guo Chi (#12 currently), I guess the Chinese put all their money on Hou Yifan, about whom Susan Polgar wrote about earlier today will become a GM by virtue of her results in the Juniors Tournament. Nothing wrong with promoting Hou Yifan, of course, but since it seems the Chinese are intent on nothing less than TOTAL DOMINATION of all forms of sport, why the chintzy response to the World Juniors? Perhaps they spent all their allowance this quarter on the Olympics... Hou Yifan is in 7th place with 8.0 after 12 rounds, and a performance rating of 2641. Thus far, she's gained 14 ELO points on her rating of 2557, which would not be enough to push her up to 2600 needed to qualify for that GM title she will earn her third and final norm form in this event. How did our girl Tatev Abrahamyan do? WFM SGIRCEA Silvia-Raluca 2167 ROU 6½ 1 - 0 6½ WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA As a result of this loss, Tatev fell to 21st place. Keep your eye on this young lady, she's got the goods. The problem is, she's playing in the USA, and we don't support our chessplayers and certainly don't provide them with anything approaching a living should they choose to attempt to do so playing chess on a full-time basis. And chess is a jealous mistress - she doesn't countenance less than full devotion. That's why the USA usually loses it's most promising young players to the mundane reality of having to earn a living in the real world! Okay, enough editorializing for the day. I've got a casserole calling my name...

Dronavalli Wins World Juniors (Girls)

Ohmygoddess! They parired Narmin Kazimova against Harika Dronavalli! From Harika wins World Junior Chess; Chance for an Indian double GAZIANTEP (Turkey), August 14: Top seeded International Master India's D Harika proved her top billing right by winning the World Junior Girls Chess Championship with one round to spare after beating Narmin Kazimova of Azerbaijan in the 12th and penultimate round. Harika took her tally to an unassailable 10 points out of a possible 12 and steered a full point clear of Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine who was held to a draw by Anastasia Bodnaruk of Russia. It implies that, with her better progressive score, Harika is assured of the title with one round still to come in the premier junior event for girls. Harika is the second Indian girl ever to win the Junior World champion title after Koneru Humpy in 2001. Harika had won the 2006 World under-18 girls title and was plain unlucky not to win this title last year when she lost the last three rounds after being in lead. Harika had to work hard in the final round game against Narmin Kazimova as the latter played cautiously for the major part of the game. Starting off with English open as Harika established a minimal advantage and later liquidated to a better rook and pawns endgame. Kazimova lost a pawn first and when it became a race between passed pawns, Harika's forces were more adequately deployed. For the records, the game lasted 68 moves. While the 20 member Indian contingent rejoiced at Harika's brilliant show, there was more good news coming in as Grandmaster Abhijeet Gupta grinded overnight leader Arik Braun of Germany in the open section and jumped in to joint lead along with compatriot Parimarjan Negi and David Howell of England. With all these three leaders on 9 points, it is clear that the winner will be amongst these three only which gives a chance for an Indian double in the championships organized simultaneously. It was a fine effort by Abhijeet with white pieces in a Slav defense game. Getting an interesting endgame, the Indian junior champion outclassed Braun after winning a rook for knight. Parimarjan also displayed top form in defeating Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son of Vietnam in a French defense game while Howell won a long drawn affair against second seed Maxim Rodshtein of Israel.

State-Sponsored Cheating at Olympics

Hola! This will be my 1,501 post since the start of this blog on April 28, 2007. Well, no one ever accused me of being shy, retiring, and never having enough to say...

Saw this news report. There have been other stories about the discrepency in reported ages for three of the Chinese "women" gymnasts and what their "official" passports say. Come on - I remember what Michelle Kwan looked like just after turning 13, and how her coaches try to "mature" her with costuming and fancy make-up. While Kwan was, indeed, a figure-skater mature beyond her years, no amount of make-up or costuming could disguise her youth when you saw her right next to a 16 or 17 year old skater.

These Chinese girls - they are babies. In this photo of He Kexin from a few days ago, she doesn't even have breasts - she could wear a tee shirt, she doesn't have enough bustline to fill out a training bra!

The world gymnastics federation says they accept passports issued by the government as valid proof of age (avoiding the issue, of course, about the veracity of the issuing authority!) and the US Gymnastics Association won't make a fuss - it's up to the world federation, they say. But we all know what the truth is. China's totalitarian regime and its butt-kissing yesmen can (bullshit - oops - delete that naughty word) DISSEMBLE all they want about the "true" age of these girls - and get the girls to parrot correct responses to the press (I mean, it can't be that hard for the girls and even their parents to lie with a straight face, who'd want to go down in history as a known cheat - and lose gigantic "face" under the mores of Chinese society?) I had a good laugh over Zhang Hongliang saying that the writers of CHINESE press reports in CHINESE newspapers didn't check to get the ages of the girls right! Yeah, right. That may fly as "truth" in Bejing, but it doesn't play here, darlings!

It's very sad. The Chinese don't HAVE to cheat. They've got more than enough talent who meet the age requirements (which have been around at least as long as the Chinese Communist government's extensive programs to breed and raise autobot athletes for the Brave New World). How pathetic that the Chinese government still feels compelled to cheat - not only in front of its own people this time, but in front of the entire world.

Yahoo news
State-media story fuels questions on gymnast’s age
By JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer 10 hours, 49 minutes ago
BEIJING (AP)—Just nine months before the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government’s news agency, Xinhua, reported that gymnast He Kexin was 13, which would have made her ineligible to be on the team that won a gold medal this week.

In its report Nov. 3, Xinhua identified He as one of “10 big new stars” who made a splash at China’s Cities Games. It gave her age as 13 and reported that she beat Yang Yilin on the uneven bars at those games. In the final, “this little girl” pulled off a difficult release move on the bars known as the Li Na, named for another Chinese gymnast, Xinhua said in the report, which appeared on one of its Web sites,

The Associated Press found the Xinhua report on the site Thursday morning and saved a copy of the page. Later that afternoon, the Web site was still working but the page was no longer accessible. Sports editors at the state-run news agency would not comment for publication.

If the age reported by Xinhua was correct, that would have meant He was too young to be on the Chinese team that beat the United States on Wednesday and clinched China’s first women’s team Olympic gold in gymnastics. He is also a favorite for gold in Monday’s uneven bars final.

Yang was also on Wednesday’s winning team. Questions have also been raised about her age and that of a third team member, Jiang Yuyuan.

Gymnasts have to be 16 during the Olympic year to be eligible for the games. He’s birthday is listed as Jan. 1, 1992.

Chinese authorities insist that all three are old enough to compete. He herself told reporters after Wednesday’s final that “my real age is 16. I don’t pay any attention to what everyone says.”

Zhang Hongliang, an official with China’s gymnastics delegation at the games, said Thursday the differing ages which have appeared in Chinese media reports had not been checked in advance with the gymnastics federation.

“It’s definitely a mistake,” Zhang said of the Xinhua report, speaking in a telephone interview. “Never has any media outlet called me to check the athletes’ ages.”

Asked whether the federation had changed their ages to make them eligible, Zhang said: “We are a sports department. How would we have the ability to do that?”

“We already explained this very clearly. There’s no need to discuss this thing again.”

The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has said repeatedly that a passport is the “accepted proof of a gymnast’s eligibility,” and that He and China’s other gymnasts have presented ones that show they are age eligible. The IOC also checked the girls’ passports and deemed them valid.

A May 23 story in the China Daily newspaper, the official English-language paper of the Chinese government, said He was 14. The story was later corrected to list her as 16.

“This is not a USAG issue,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “The FIG and the IOC are the proper bodies to handle this."

The Giuoco Piano a/k/a C50 in ECO Terms

Hola darlings! Rick Kennedy, one of the three people who read my Chessville column every month emailed me a little while back and something I wrote back to him (for the life of me, I have no idea what), triggered a brilliant idea in his mind to write about whether/if, etc. chess femmes play something called Jerome's Gambit. I had a vague idea that it must have something to do with chess but for some unknown reason "go fish" pops into my mind whenever I read the words "Jerome's Gambit." The other thing "Jerome's Gambit" conjures up is a memory from my murky past long long ago, on a planet far far away...of a street hustler named Boney Jerome who used to hold court on the steps outside the apartment building where I lived at the time. Boney Jerome tried to lure me into an "unspecified relationship" by attempting to bribe me with large gold and cubic zirconia rings (the gold was probably as fake as the stones), which I always rejected with a sweet smile. He eventually gave up on me, declaiming to all in the neighborhood that I was way too smart and sassy-mouthed for my own good, always throwing quotes from Shakespeare at him. For my part, I was impressed that Boney Jerome knew the name Shakespeare. I digress. Today Rick did write about chess femmes and the Jerome at his blog entirely devoted to the Jerome Gambit, and now I actually understand it's a series of moves at the beginning of a chess game that starts out e4/e5, Nf3/Nc6, and has nothing to do with fishing, the card game "go fish" or street hustlers. Well, darling, why didn't you just say so to begin with? After doing a little research, I found a database at where this opening sequence of moves is not called the Jerome's Gambit but is called something like Guicci's Piano, only it's not Guicci the designer, it's some Italian guy who played chess ages ago or maybe he didn't really play, he just wrote about chess like I do, but he managed to get something named after himself like any good designer should. It seems Jerome's Gambit is an offshoot of Guicci - a Chinese knock-off, one could say. The first game recorded under the ECO "C50" is from the 1600s! Cool! As per usual there aren't a lot of games by chess femmes, but there are enough to show that they do play the Piano.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chess' Fearless Leader Has Spoken!

Reading between the lines, Kirsan is actually saying "Girls, I don't care if your butts may be in danger by playing chess in Nalchik. Suck it up. We're all going to have a good time pretending nothing, absolutely nothing is wrong." Er, I think Fearless Leader had better start wondering if his republic (Kalmaykia) might soon be on the terrorist Putin's short list of countries to invade during his spare time... Here's the official poop from FIDE: Dear chess friends! After having read the open letter of several participants of the forthcoming World Chess Championship in Nalchik (Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Russian Federation), I would like to make the following statement: The World Chess Federation is in close contact with the Russian Chess Federation and the Championship's Organising Committee. The FIDE delegation visited the city of Nalchik during 5-6 August and took part in the meeting of the Organising Committee. According to the information received, the preparation for the tournament has entered its final stages, and a lot of attention has been given to the issues of food, accommodation as well as the provision of all necessary security. [Meaning: I have accepted a lot of bribes and cannot back out now, unless I want to find a dead horse's head on my pillow tomorrow morning.] We are aware of the recent developments in South Ossetia, and would like to express our most sincere condolences to all who have become victims of this terrible tragedy. However, in the current situation I appeal to all not to mix politics and sport, and not to involve FIDE and the world chess community into political, territorial and other disputes. [Oh, this is rich, really rich, coming from a consummate chess politician who has single-handedly done more to f*ck up the world of chess through his years of interfering in local politics, particularly in third world countries.] All the issues should be settled at a chess board, and not beyond its limits. [Meaning: Girls, you cannot come up with enough money or other incentives to tempt me to do the right thing.] This issue is particularly critical during the days of the Olympic Games. [There goes Kirsan, marching off into the red sunset with his Chinese Communist Politburo buddies, har!] I am confident that we shall witness a very interesting World Championship in Nalchik [he's actually wondering whether any of the chess femmes will take a bullet between the boobs like I mentioned in this month's column at Chessville, and whether he can find a way to make money off such an event], which will be organized on a proper level. See you in Nalchik. We are one family. [Gag me - what a frigging hypocrite.] Kirsan Ilyumzhinov FIDE President Elista, 13 August 2008

Empty Seats at Olympics

Okay - isn't this rather unusual? I'm watching volleyball on t.v. at the moment and the place is at least half empty. And who IS it that is playing that goddess-awful ancient pop rock junk music in the background with those cheesy kind of pre-recorded cheers one only hears in baseball and NFL stadiums? I thought Olympics were always THE hot tickets. I also noticed a lot of empty seats last night during the Women's gymnastics finals. Now you can't tell me that isn't one of the hottest tickets in the world - but plenty of people either didn't show up - or the seats were never sold in the first place... Guess the Chinese government kept out a few too many foreigners, heh. LOL! Supposedly all the tickets were sold. Yeah, right. Here's the official poop: From BBC News Tuesday August 12, 2008 Empty Olympic seats cause concern By Michael Bristow BBC News, Beijing Chinese officials have admitted that they are concerned about the lack of spectators at some Olympic events. They have hired volunteers, dressed in yellow shirts, to fill up empty venues and improve the atmosphere inside. But Wang Wei, a senior official with the Beijing organising committee (Bocog), said other Olympics had experienced similar problems. [Oh, really? Which ones would those be?] The comments came after spectators and journalists noticed that certain venues were far from full, even though all events are sold out. Weather? Speaking at a daily press briefing, Mr Wang said: "We are also concerned about this not full stadium [issue]." He said a number of factors had contributed to this, including the hot and humid weather in Beijing, as well as the rain. [Yeah, like the Bejing weather during the summer is some big frigging surprise! Isn't it always hot and humid and rainy there during this time of year? Of course it is. Duh!] Mr. Wang said some spectators were also only turning up for specific events, even though they had tickets for a whole session. "For competitions like beach volleyball and basketball, [spectators] have one ticket for the whole afternoon, morning, evening," he explained. "They may choose to go to one of them, but not all them." Mr Wang, executive vice-president of Bocog, said local authorities were hiring volunteers to fill empty seats. "If they find that there are not enough people, or if they find that there are too many empty seats, they organise some cheerleaders," he said. These cheer for both sides to "create a good atmosphere", he added. Although some events are full - such as Sunday's clash between the men's basketball teams from China and the United States - others have been less well attended. Corporate sponsors These include sessions of judo, badminton and water polo. "There were heaps of empties. It's sickening," said one spectator who went to the judo expecting to see a full house. There were even a number of empty seats at the opening ceremony on Friday. One reason for less-than-full venues could be that seats allocated to corporate sponsors are not being used. Many of these tickets are handed out the night before events take place, sometimes too late for those who get them to attend, according to someone with access to these tickets. [Where are the people they're handing out the tickets located? The North Pole?]

World Juniors Chess Championship (Girls)

Round 11 has finished. Hold on to your hats! Results (top chess femmes): 1 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 7 0 - 1 8 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 2 WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 6½ ½ - ½ 8 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 3 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 7½ ½ - ½ 6½ WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 4 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 6½ 1 - 0 7½ WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 5 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 6½ 1 - 0 6½ WGM MAMEDJAROVA Turkan 2284 AZE 6 WFM BODNARUK Anastasia 2394 RUS 6 1 - 0 6 WGM CORKE Anya 2255 HKG 7 WGM FOISOR Sabina-Francesca 2337 ROU 6 ½ - ½ 6 WFM NIKOLOVA Adriana 2242 BUL 8 WIM GOMES Mary Ann 2316 IND 6 1 - 0 6 WFM BOROSOVA Zuzana 2254 SVK 9 WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA 6 ½ - ½ 6 GUO Qi 2048 CHN 10 WIM DAULETOVA Gulmira 2267 KAZ 6 0 - 1 6 WFM PAIKIDZE Nazi 2277 GEO 11 ALAVI Hour Homa 1723 IRI 6 1 - 0 5½ WFM HOOLT Sarah 2298 GER Dronavalli is back on top at 9.0 after having dispatched Ozturk, who was having an excellent tournament :) Tatev Abrahamyan moved to 6.5 after a draw with Guo Qi. And Narmin Kazimova is having another one of those streaks where she can do no wrong! She won today, to go to 7.5 points and - well - you'll see: Here are the top standings after Round 11: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts Fide Rtg+/- Ra Rp 1 1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 9 56 6 2252 2514 2 2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 8½ 54 9 2262 2473 3 18 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 8 50 34 2241 2416 4 33 WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 7½ 48½ 41 2266 2320 5 10 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 7½ 44½ 15 2221 2354 6 38 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 7½ 40 42 2194 2327 7 31 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 7 46 37 2301 2321 8 7 WIM GOMES Mary Ann 2316 IND 7 43 5 2238 2340 9 8 WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 7 42 6 2223 2325 10 4 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 7 40½ -12 2209 2311 11 3 WFM BODNARUK Anastasia 2394 RUS 7 37 -18 2191 2213 60 ALAVI Hour Homa 1723 IRI 7 37 87 2073 2327 13 14 WFM PAIKIDZE Nazi 2277 GEO 7 36½ 0 2166 2249 14 13 WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA 6½ 47½ 7 2240 2305 1-2-3 stay the same as they've been for the past three rounds. Tatev Abrahamyan's draw today did not prevent her from dropping lower in the standings - from 11th yesterday to 14th today. Tatev is at the top of a large group of players with 6.5 points. And Narmin - she's jumped from 10th yesterday to 6th today, with 2 games to go! Go Narmin! She will probably have her hands full tomorrow, as I expect she'll be matched with one of the players above her - not a pleasant prospect. There were 9 draws today, up from yesterday's 4. That left 24 decisive matches.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Goddess: Chudel Mata

From The Times of India Witch temple is 'high court' 13 Aug 2008, 0256 hrs IST, Ashish Vashi,TNN KUNGHER (PATAN): Looks like people of this small village want justice from none other than the almighty. In Kungher village in Patan, high court is temple of Chudel Mata (witch goddess). Thousands flock to the temple on Sunday with their grievances. "People find that their problems get sorted out quickly when they come here. That's why the temple has been dubbed 'high court of Kungher'. Now, that's how it's commonly referred to," says Umedbhai Patel, temple trustee. Rush of devotees has risen in the last two to three years because of favourable word-of-mouth publicity. "The village has had a small shrine for the goddess for more than two decades. But, it was considered evil and people were frightened to come near it. Now, people are showing tremendous faith in Chudel Mata and her popularity is soaring by the day," says Jayantibhai Naik, another trustee. Interestingly, the temple has no idol of the goddess and people worship a flame representing her. The faithful stand in queues for hours to catch a glimpse of the flame. Kungher has also changed in character. It's now dominated by small shops selling photographs of the goddess, audio-cassettes, coconuts, chunadis, toys and sweets. Khakhi-clad villagers keep order among the crowd. Immense popularity of this temple has also been a boon to the entertainment industry. More than 50 audio-cassettes and music videos are in the market with bhajans and songs about Chudel Mata. Moreover, there are a couple of telefilms also available titled 'Chudel Mata, High Court of Kungher'. Two Gujarati films are also on the floor with legend of the goddess as central theme.

Russian Hackers Attacking Kasparov Website

The Putin Russians - what a bunch of juvenile assholes. They need to be spanked and set to bed without their supper. From Associated Press/Google Russian hackers continue attacks on Georgian sites By PETER SVENSSON – 8 hours ago NEW YORK (AP) — Attacks by Russian hackers against Georgian Web sites, including one hosted in the United States, continued Tuesday even as Russian President Dmitri Medvedev ordered a halt to hostilities against Georgia. Tom Burling, acting chief executive of Atlanta-based Web-hosting firm Tulip Systems Inc., said the Web site of the president of Georgia was the target of a flood of traffic from Russia aiming to overwhelm the site. Burling said bogus traffic outnumbered legitimate traffic 5000 to 1 at "Literally, our people aren't getting any sleep," Burling said. Tulip's firewall was blocking most of the malicious traffic. The site has been periodically inaccessible, though it was working midday Tuesday. Burling said the attacks have been reported to the FBI. The site was transferred from servers in Georgia, the small nation south of Russia, on Saturday. Georgian-born Nino Doijashvili, Tulip's chief executive and founder, happened to be in the country on vacation when fighting broke out Thursday. Doijashvili offered help to the government when it became apparent that Russian hackers were getting the upper hand, shutting down several government and news sites. The U.S.-based Shadowserver Foundation, which tracks Internet attacks, said they had noticed commands to attack Georgian sites being issued over the weekend to "botnets," or networks of computers that have been surreptitiously subverted by hackers. The computers are used to send bogus traffic to targeted sites, slowing them or in some cases bringing them down. The same botnets are also targeting Russian news sites and the Web site of Gary Kasparov, the Russian chess player and political activist, according to Steven Adair at Shadowserver. On Monday, hackers took over the Web site of Georgia's parliament and replaced it with an image that drew parallels between Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili and Adolf Hitler, Adair said.

World Juniors Chess Championship (Girls)

You know it's getting serious when only 4 games were drawn out of 33 today, in Round 10. Three more rounds to go. Here are the top results: 1 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 7 ½ - ½ 7½ IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 7 1 - 0 6½ WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 3 WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 6½ 1 - 0 6 WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA 4 WFM NIKOLOVA Adriana 2242 BUL 6 0 - 1 6 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 5 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 5½ 1 - 0 6 GUO Qi 2048 CHN 6 WFM BOROSOVA Zuzana 2254 SVK 5½ ½ - ½ 5½ WGM FOISOR Sabina-Francesca 2337 ROU 7 PREETHI Rajkumar 2183 IND 5½ 0 - 1 5½ WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 8 WFM HOOLT Sarah 2298 GER 5½ 0 - 1 5½ KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 9 WGM MAMEDJAROVA Turkan 2284 AZE 5½ 1 - 0 5½ WIM NADIG Kruttika 2241 IND 10 WGM CORKE Anya 2255 HKG 5 1 - 0 5½ WFM PERTLOVA Sona 2217 CZE As you can see, Dronavalli drew her game with Mikadze (a player who snuck up into the top 3 without seeming to draw any attention at all!), so she stands at 8 points of 10. Meanwhile, Maria Muzychuk (younger sister of Anna) defeated Swaminathan of India, and with the full point she is now in a tie-score with Dronavalli! The sole American, Tatev Abrahamyan, can't seem to get unstuck from 6 points, losing her game, while young Narmin Kazimova won her game behind the black pieces against a player rated 150 points higher! Way to go, Narmin! Here are the top standings after Round 10: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts Fide Rtg+/- Ra Rp 1 1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 8 47 5 2259 2499 2 2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 8 45½ 10 2259 2499 3 18 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 7½ 42 32 2228 2421 4 33 WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 7½ 41 49 2279 2384 5 31 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 7 39 40 2283 2344 6 10 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 6½ 37 7 2214 2324 7 12 WGM MAMEDJAROVA Turkan 2284 AZE 6½ 35½ -1 2161 2250 8 8 WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 6½ 35 3 2204 2314 9 4 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 6½ 33½ -9 2205 2315 10 38 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 6½ 32½ 34 2197 2306 11 13 WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA 6 41 11 2259 2331 Playing in the Juniors, Hou Yifan has slipped to 13th after drawing her Round 10 game today. She was defeated yesterday by IM Arik Braun and currently has 6.5 points. The sole juniors leader is GM Maxim Rodshtein with 8.0. Barring a complete collapse at the top, Hou won't be able to medal, but I'm sure she wants to pull herself into at least the top 10 and will be going no holds barred for the last 3 games.

2008 Women's World Chess Championship

From Susan Polgar's blog today: The following Open Letter was published by Open letter by the participants of the Women World Championship of FIDE We, the participants of the Women World Championship 2008, express our worry about the current dangerous situation near Cabardino-Balkaria. We think when there is such a tense situation, it is not expedient to hold such a high level tournament in that area. That’s why we kindly ask you to move this tournament to the safer place, which would be convenient for all the participants. If you agree with the above, please join us with signing this letter, and please send it to FIDE and to us (Maia Chiburdanidze, Lela Javakhishvili, Sopio Gvetadze, Nino Khurtsidze, Maia Lomineishvili, Sopiko Khukhashvili) by e-mail: We do not have the email addresses of all participants and kindly ask you to send this message to other participants you know. I was informed this past weekend that at least one of the U.S. players has withdrawn due to safety reason. I do really hope that this can be changed ASAP. ****************************************************************************************** For those of you not so familiar with chess, the women who "signed" the letter are all Georgian chessplayers. Maia Chiburdanidze, a highly respected and well-liked player, is a former Women's World Chess Championship, holding the title from 1978 to 1991. The other players are all highly ranked Georgian women. The Women's Championship is scheduled to start later this month - August 28th I think, in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, Russian Republic. Obviously the Georgian players would feel somewhat "concerned" about playing in Russia after it has invaded Georgia and bombed and shelled innocent civilians, engaging in ethnic cleansing of all Georgian peoples from the invaded territories preparatory, no doubt, to annexation into the Russian Republic. And people call America a barbaric country - ha! Putin is the undisputed leader, surpassing even Al Qaeda for terrorism. Mig at his Daily Dirt blog pointed out a few months ago that Nalchik has a past history of violence itself. The Georgian players would be walking targets and the people who are running Russia now wouldn't care if there was "collateral" damage - so what if a few stupid women chessplayers from other countries get killed in the process of taking out the Georgian enemies of the state! Here is the story at Chessbase. The handy map there shows that Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria borders Georgia to the north, including (it appears) at least part of South Ossetia (where the Russians have invaded). See WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia's commentary on the situation. Belakovskaia, who immigrated to the US in 1991, is a three-time U.S. Women's Chess Champion (1995, 1996, 1999). Here is her personal website.

Little Girl Singer at Olympics Part of a Switcheroo!

From the Olympics: Child singer revealed as fake Tania Brannigan, in Beijing, Tuesday August 12 2008 12:34 BST When nine-year-old Lin Miaoke launched into Ode to the Motherland at the Olympic opening ceremony, she became an instant star. "Tiny singer wins heart of nation," China Daily sighed; "Little girl sings, impresses the world," gushed another headline, perhaps in reference to Lin's appearance on the front of the New York Times. Countless articles lauded the girl in the red dress who "lent her voice" to the occasion. But now it emerges that Lin lent someone else's voice, following high-level discussions - which included a member of the Politburo - on the relative photogenicity of small children. The recording to which Lin mouthed along on Friday was by the even younger Yang Peiyi. It seems that Yang's uneven teeth, while unremarkable in a seven-year-old, were considered potentially damaging to China's international image. "This is in the national interest. It is the image of our national music, national culture. Especially the entrance of our national flag; this is an extremely important, extremely serious matter," Chen Qigang, the event's general music designer, explained to a Beijing radio station. Chen said that director Zhang Yimou - who created the ceremony - had demanded a "very cute" child; a standard certainly met by Lin and, many would suggest, by Yang. "We made the decision that the voice we would use was Yang Peiyi's. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression. "Lin Miaoke is excellent in those aspects. But in the aspect of voice, Yang Peiyi is flawless," he explained. But at the last minute, officials decided a switch was needed, according to the translation by the China Digital Times website. "We had been through several inspections - they were all very strict. When we rehearsed at the spot, there were spectators from various divisions, especially a leader from the Politburo, who gave us his opinion: It must change," said Chen. "I think it is fair to both Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi. That is to say, we have a perfect voice, and a perfect image and representation - in our team's view - combined together." It appears that Lin, already a veteran of TV adverts, may not have been aware that Yang's voice was used. Chen said they had recordings of both girls and their voices were fairly similar. Yang appears to have taken the snub in her stride. Asked by a CCTV journalist whether she was sad to have missed the opening ceremony, she replied: "No, my voice was there." Not everyone has reacted so calmly. "Adults may lie, but leave the kids out of it," one angry internet user wrote. Her tutor, Wang Liping, wrote in her blog that Yang is cute and well-behaved, with a love for Peking opera. "She doesn't like to show off. She's easygoing," she added. Yang's school could not be reached today. The switch may reflect underlying cultural preferences as well as the incredible attention paid to Olympic preparations. Research by Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at the University of Texas, has suggested that the "beauty premium" in parts of China is far more pronounced than in the west for women. Dr Hamermesh's work shows that ugly people earn below the average income while beautiful people earn more. In Britain, attractive women enjoy a +1% premium. But in Shanghai, the figure was +10%. ********************************************************************************* Lots of coverage on this story - here's direct quotes and a u-tube video of the ringer's performance. When you cut out the crap, they changed up singers because they considered the original little girl too ugly to represent their "national image" even though her voice was "flawless." Now I'm wondering - was that little boy prancing around with the big basketball player actually nine - and was he actually a hero? Come to think of it, wasn't his presence something of a slap in the face to all of the parents who lost children in schools that collapsed in the June earthquake while all around other buildings withstood the quake with minimal damage? Thousands of children were killed and rather than investigating official corruption and malfeasance in office, the central government is trying to buy off bereaved parents with a couple hundred bucks each.

Monday, August 11, 2008

432 - An Interesting Number

August 11, 2008 There Are More Things In Heaven and Under The Earth, Horatio. An archaeological dig has uncovered what could well be the remnants of the theatre where Shakespeare's plays debuted to adoring crowds. The theatre was discovered during excavations carried out by Museum of London staff at a site in Shoreditch, East London. Prior to excavation the site was an old garage and was scheduled to be demolished to make way for a brand-new theatre. Builders clearing the site unearthed the structure and quickly called in archaeologists to prevent further damage. The discovery of the 432 year-old foundations did not come as a complete surprise to archaeologists at the Museum of London. They have suspected that the site had some exciting secrets to yield for some time. Despite suspicions that the theatre was around the Shoreditch area, the exact location of the building was difficult to pin down. A lack of maps, drawings or even reliable descriptions of the bard's debut playhouse made tracking down the forgotten remnants of the building near-impossible. When it opened in 1576 the newly-rediscovered Elizabethan playhouse was simply named "The Theatre" and was among the first dedicated playhouses in England. Shakespeare and his company performed at The Theatre in the 1590s and it has been suggested that many of the bard's best known works such as, Romeo and Juliet and Richard II premiered at the site. Of course, the theatre is in no fit state to be used, spending over four centuries underground has done it no favours. The ravages of time were not the only factor in the decay of The Theatre. A dispute with a landlord in 1597 forced Shakespeare and the Lord Chamberlain's men to move. As they owned the theatre but not the land the building was simply disassembled, moved across the Thames and renamed "The Globe". Only the foundations were left behind and it is these that archaeologists have discovered. Academics are very excited about the find, suggesting that the foundations will reveal a great deal about the playhouses of Elizabethan London. The Tower Theatre Company are equally excited about the discovery as the site is going to be home to their new theatre. Talks are underway between English Heritage, the Tower Theatre Company and their architect to attempt to find a way to leave the thrilling find in-situ. The Tower Theatre Company is a tiny, two-man company who stage up to an incredible 18 shows a year in London with no external funding. The discovery of Shakespeare's first theatre in what will become their basement is undoubtedly a lovely surprise for the company who need all the publicity they can get for their upcoming fund-raising campaign. Money raised by this campaign will be used to purchase the freehold for the site and to begin construction of the new theatre. One can only imagine what an inspiration the find will be to future performers at The Tower Theatre Company's new venue. The opportunity to tred the boards mere feet from where the bard himself once performed is enviable indeed. Published by: Jonathan Dudley ********************************************************************************** Check out the fascinating significance of the number 432.

Oh oh...

It seems I just posted some stuff about climate change a few days ago - darlings, I can't keep track, it's all a blur... But this isn't funny. Instead of taking 60 years (I'd more than likely be buried - oh yeah, and dead - by then, being about 110 years old if I survived - on the other hand, who the heck knows, hmmm...) - it is now being estimated that the North Pole could be free of ice in just five years. Yep, that's not a mistake. Five years. Scary stuff. I hope the Russians get drowned first, the dirty buggers. They started a new cold war and then heated things up, well, they're going to get zapped for their pains from an unexpected source! From the Meltdown in the Arctic is speeding up Scientists warn that the North Pole could be free of ice in just five years' time instead of 60 Robin McKie, science editor The Observer, Sunday August 10 2008 Article history Ice at the North Pole melted at an unprecedented rate last week, with leading scientists warning that the Arctic could be ice-free in summer by 2013. Satellite images show that ice caps started to disintegrate dramatically several days ago as storms over Alaska's Beaufort Sea began sucking streams of warm air into the Arctic. As a result, scientists say that the disappearance of sea ice at the North Pole could exceed last year's record loss. More than a million square kilometres melted over the summer of 2007 as global warming tightened its grip on the Arctic. But such destruction could now be matched, or even topped, this year. 'It is a neck-and-neck race between 2007 and this year over the issue of ice loss,' said Mark Serreze, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado. 'We thought Arctic ice cover might recover after last year's unprecedented melting - and indeed the picture didn't look too bad last month. Cover was significantly below normal, but at least it was up on last year. 'But the Beaufort Sea storms triggered steep ice losses and it now looks as if it will be a very close call indeed whether 2007 or 2008 is the worst year on record for ice cover over the Arctic. We will only find out when the cover reaches its minimum in mid-September.' This startling loss of Arctic sea ice has major meteorological, environmental and ecological implications. The region acts like a giant refrigerator that has a strong effect on the northern hemisphere's meteorology. Without its cooling influence, weather patterns will be badly disrupted, including storms set to sweep over Britain. At the same time, creatures such as polar bears and seals - which use sea ice for hunting and resting - face major threats. Similarly, coastlines will no longer be insulated by ice from wave damage and will suffer erosion, as is already happening in Alaska. Other environmental changes are likely to follow. Without sea ice to bolster them, land ice - including glaciers - could topple into the ocean and raise global sea levels, threatening many low-lying areas, including Bangladesh and scores of Pacific islands. In addition, the disappearance of reflective ice over the Arctic means that solar radiation would no longer be bounced back into space, thus heating the planet even further. On top of these issues, there are fears that water released by the melting caps will disrupt the Gulf Stream, while an ice-free Arctic in summer offers new opportunities for oil and gas drilling there - and for political disputes over territorial rights. What really unsettles scientists, however, is their inability to forecast precisely what is happening in the Arctic, the part of the world most vulnerable to the effects of global warming. 'When we did the first climate change computer models, we thought the Arctic's summer ice cover would last until around 2070,' said Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University. 'It is now clear we did not understand how thin the ice cap had already become - for Arctic ice cover has since been disappearing at ever increasing rates. Every few years we have to revise our estimates downwards. Now the most detailed computer models suggest the Arctic's summer ice is going to last for only a few more years - and given what we have seen happen last week, I think they are probably correct.' The most important of these computer studies of ice cover was carried out a few months ago by Professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Using US navy supercomputers, his team produced a forecast which indicated that by 2013 there will be no ice in the Arctic - other than a few outcrops on islands near Greenland and Canada - between mid-July and mid-September. 'It does not really matter whether 2007 or 2008 is the worst year on record for Arctic ice,' Maslowski said. 'The crucial point is that ice is clearly not building up enough over winter to restore cover and that when you combine current estimates of ice thickness with the extent of the ice cap, you get a very clear indication that the Arctic is going to be ice-free in summer in five years. And when that happens, there will be consequences.' This point was backed by Serreze. 'The trouble is that sea ice is now disappearing from the Arctic faster than our ability to develop new computer models and to understand what is happening there. We always knew it would be the first region on Earth to feel the impact of climate change, but not at anything like this speed. What is happening now indicates that global warming is occurring far earlier than any of us expected.'

World Juniors Chess Championship (Girls)

Girls' results after Round 9: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts Fide Rtg+/- Ra Rp 1 1 IM HARIKA Dronavalli 2461 IND 7½ 39 7 2259 2532 2 2 WGM MUZYCHUK Mariya 2413 UKR 7 37½ 7 2255 2475 3 18 WIM MIKADZE Miranda 2258 GEO 7 34½ 28 2202 2422 4 33 WFM NAKHBAYEVA Guliskhan 2170 KAZ 6½ 33½ 40 2280 2348 5 10 WIM SOUMYA Swaminathan 2293 IND 6½ 30½ 12 2192 2358 6 13 WFM ABRAHAMYAN Tatev 2277 USA 6 35 21 2269 2394 7 23 WFM NIKOLOVA Adriana 2242 BUL 6 32 18 2211 2336 31 WFM OZTURK Kubra 2188 TUR 6 32 31 2289 2315 9 48 GUO Qi 2048 CHN 6 27½ 46 2258 2353 10 32 PREETHI Rajkumar 2183 IND 5½ 30 16 2234 2221 11 25 WIM NADIG Kruttika 2241 IND 5½ 29½ 16 2239 2308 12 9 WFM HOOLT Sarah 2298 GER 5½ 29 -2 2203 2283 12 WGM MAMEDJAROVA Turkan 2284 AZE 5½ 29 -7 2152 2208 27 WFM PERTLOVA Sona 2217 CZE 5½ 29 24 2264 2323 15 8 WFM SEVERIUKHINA Zoja 2300 RUS 5½ 28½ -2 2206 2286 16 21 WFM BOROSOVA Zuzana 2254 SVK 5½ 27½ 0 2167 2247 17 4 WGM NEMCOVA Katerina 2372 CZE 5½ 27 -11 2222 2302 18 38 KAZIMOVA Narmin 2148 AZE 5½ 26 23 2185 2265 19 5 WGM FOISOR Sabina-Francesca 2337 ROU 5½ 25 -18 2150 2230 I just can't see that Dronavalli is going to give up her lead - consider her the gold medal winner. So - the fight is for silver and bronze. Dronavalli drew with countrywoman WIM Soumya Swaminathan (IND 2293) (I don't know if her name should be reversed - I should check that, but I'm just too tired tonight). The early leader, USA's Tatev Abrahamyan, fell down to 9th after Round 8 (eek!), but has bounced back to 6th place after her defeat today of WIM Inna Ivakhinova (RUS 2248), and is still in the medal hunt. Go, Tatev, go! Narmin Kazimova (AZE 2148) has moved up in the standings to 18th place, after drawing with fellow countrywoman WGM Turkan Mamedjarova (AZE 2284). Only four more rounds to go!

Supporting Local Chess: Announcements

From the Emporia Gazette (Emporia, Kansas, USA): The Emporia Chess Society meets from 1:30 to 4 p.m. and from 6:30 to 9 p.m. every Saturday at at the Granada Coffee Company. All ages and skill levels are welcome, including children. There is no charge.

Arianne Caoili

Now that I've got your attention :) The press loves beautiful women, and when a beautiful woman also happens to be a Woman International Master of chess, she naturally warrants a column indicating where she will be playing next (but naturally!) This beauty isn't adverse to such publicity, but take note - she's got brains too. From Dance star to play chess on Coast Steve Spinks August 12th, 2008 SHE has danced with the stars and is one of Australia's top chess players, but Arianne Caoili has put the pursuits that shot her to fame behind her as she grapples with university study. The 21-year-old will make a rare appearance on the Gold Coast later this month when she plays in the Surfers Paradise Chess Open. Caoili is using the event as practice before heading to Beijing later in the year to represent Australia at the Chess Olympics. She is also hoping to improve her rating from international master to grandmaster. "I haven't played for a while so that's why I'm going up," said Caoili. "I've been studying in Canberra and in Germany for various reasons. I'm doing my honours in international relations so I've stopped doing some things because I want to be able to give everything to my study. "I'm happy at the moment and I'm enjoying what I'm doing." Caoili last shot to national prominence when she made it to the final of the Channel 7 program Dancing With The Stars. The Australian chess champion eventually lost out to AFL footballer Anthony Koutoufides after being partnered by Carmello Pizzino. Caoili made headlines around the country after accusations she had professional dance training before the show and had lied about it when questioned by controversial judge Todd McKenney. But that was two years ago and the former Gold Coast girl is looking forward. "I just want to finish university with flying colours," she said. "I like to succeed in what I'm doing so I'm really doing a lot of work and it's enjoyable because it's different ... a completely different focus from what I was doing." The chess pin-up caused a storm in 2006 when she was dubbed the 'Anna Kournikova of chess' after a love rivalry ended in a nightclub punch-up in Italy. The former Somerset College student was branded a temptress by the international media, but she said the incident was blown out of proportion. [Check out Goddesschess' take on the subject, "Tussle in Turin"] Caoili was dating GM Levon Aronian for several months and was depicted in several photos with the GM at various chess events; I don't know if they're still a couple.

Iranian Islamic Regime Destroys More Persian Culture

10,000 sq.m. of Partho-Sasanian Site in Susa Destroyed to Built a Hotel From CAIS August 11, 2008 LONDON, (CAIS) -- The ancient city of Susa is renowned for its thousands of years of history and its resident-archaeologists are angry and tearful as the Islamic republic has rubbed them out of their heritage. Last week a hotel construction company belonging to the prominent members of the Islamic Republic bulldozed out 10,000 sq.m. of the pre-Islamic ancient Iranian site of Susa in order to prepare a foundation for construction of a hotel. Experts have dated the destroyed strata to the late Parthian (248BCE -224 CE) and Sasanian (224-651 CE) dynasties. The dug out area is 100x100 metres wide and 6 meters deep. During the excavation a human skeleton most probably being either Parthian or Sasanian, large Partho-Sasanian earthenware vessels, a large number of Partho-Sasanian potsherds and other relics were taken away and destroyed. The illegal permit for construction of Laleh Hotel was issued by Khuzestan’s Province Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (KCHHTO). Speaking with journalists in Tehran, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) on Sunday, asserted the wrongdoers will be prosecuted. Although it was Rahim-Mashaei himself who attended the commencing-ceremony along with the director of KCHHTO, and ordered the construction to begin. To add insult to injury, when Rahim-Mashaei was questioned by journalists about his participant in the destruction of the site, the director of ICHHTO, claimed that he was not aware of the historical importance of the site. Susa was registered on Iran’s national heritage site in 1930s and every elementary school child in Iran knows the historical importance of Susa and its special place in Iranian history and civilisation. According to the archaeologists with the Susa Research Centre, the dug out earth from the site was taken away to a secret location unknown to them, perhaps to destroy any traces of pre-Islamic Iranian heritage.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Philippines Chess: Mary Israel Flores Palero

From the Sun Star Davao Sunday, August 10, 2008 Mary Israel Palero: Exuding beauty and brains By Marianne L. Saberon-Abalayan "CHESS is the battle of the brains," replied the five-foot-three Mary Israel Flores Palero when asked why she chose chess as a sport. When you see this 15-year-old daughter of Joseph and Eden Gener Palero, you wouldn't think of her to be involved in a serious sport as chess. With her height and good looks, she could even give beauty pageant contestants a run for their money. But Mary confines herself to the challenge of pushing pieces and outwitting her rivals, whether male or female. In the recently-concluded Gaisano South Citimall and Primovit Rapid Age-Group Chess Championships, she won against a male opponent bringing home the P2,000 runner-up cash prize in the under-16 category. "I started playing chess at age nine. My father encouraged me to play the sport," she told Sun.Star Davao. Mary, a graduating High School student at the Holy Cross of Davao College (HCDC), made her competition debut during the Davao City Athletic Association (DCAA) Meet in 2003 where she also finished second. She at last won the DCAA title in 2004 but she landed at the fifth spot during the Davao Regional Athletic Association (Davraa) Meet, thus, denying her a slot in the Palarong Pambansa. In the 2005 Davraa Meet in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, she captured the crown. She then kept the title for the next two years. She finished fifth place in Palaro at the Iloilo City (2005) and in Naga City (2006). She occupied the sixth slot in the 2007 Koronadal Palaro and in the 2008 Puerto Princesa Palaro. Mary, however, has her own share of triumphs like bagging the kiddies' title of the 2006 Shell National Youth Active Chess Championship Davao-Mindanao leg held at SM City Davao. "I feel proud of myself when I became champion because I did not expect it," she said. She also swept the championship trophies in the 2005 Araw ng Dabaw chess tournament, 2005 Kadayawan Sportsfest and 2005 Pahalipay ni Mayor sa Pasko chess tournament. She placed fourth in the 2008 National Age-Group Chess Championships in Metro Manila, earning her a slot the to country's team set to see action in the World Youth Chess Championships in Vietnam in October. Mary completed her elementary education at the Banganga Elementary School in Cabantian. She got into the HCDC High School varsity chess team through the recommendation of HCDC coach National Master (NM) Prospero "Bebot" Cruz to sports coordinator Billy Cruzada. Mary however said she continues to give studying importance. "I'm enjoying a full scholarship now being a varsity scholar. I also avail of allowances. I also put weight on my academics while I train for chess," she said. "I usually wake up at 5 a.m. for my regular exercise then I'm off to school. When I return home, I go through my home works and study then I give myself two to three hours to play chess before I sleep," she added. She said being in sports has helped her to be more outgoing because she is a shy person. "I've met different people from different places with different values and skills in playing chess. I've been learning a lot through these experiences," she said. She hopes that she could get sponsors for her stint in Vietnam this October so she could also be exposed in an international competition. "It's really my greatest dream to be the most popular woman chess player in the world," she shared. Mary also dreams of becoming a successful flight attendant 10 years from now with two bachelor degrees to her credit. [Okay, if she earns two bachelors' degrees, why would she want to become a flight attendant? Is that what educated women in the Philippines do?]

Susan Polgar On Chess

Here is her latest column from Lubbock Online: Polgar: Many winners, great success for chess tourney held on Tech campus Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Sunday, August 10, 2008 Story last updated at 8/10/2008 - 3:31 am A record 52 players from across the country participated in the fifth annual Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls held at the Frazier Alumni Pavilion, which ended Aug. 1. This is the first year this prestigious event was held at Texas Tech University. In past years, it was held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (2004), Phoenix (2005), Oak Brook, Ill. (2006), and Cherry Hill, N.J. (2007). The winner of the 2008 SPNI is Courtney Jamison of Texas. Even though she had come close before, she was not able to capture this elusive title. However, this was her year. After starting out on fire with five straight wins, she took a quick draw in the final round against a dangerous Linda Diaz of New York to clinch the title. 2008 SPNI Final Top 10 Standings The winners are listed below by name, rating, state and final score: 1. Courtney Jamison, 2,046, Texas, 5.5 2-3. Linda Diaz, 1,726, N.Y., 5.0 2-3. Ashley Carter, 1,877, Michigan, 5.0 4-6. Rebekah Liu, 1,699, California, 4.5 4-6. Angel Bohannon, 1,700, Texas, 4.5 4-6. Nisha Deolalikar, 1,726, California, 4.5 7-13. Brianna Conley, 1,573, Ohio, 4.0 7-13. Michelle Xue Chen, 1,762, Massachusetts, 4.0 7-13. Amelia Wheeless, 1,711, North Carolina, 4.0 7-13. Rita Mirchandani, 1,813, Florida, 4.0 7-13. Sylvia S Yang, 1,911, Texas, 4.0 7-13. Michelle Farell, 1,506, Oklahoma, 4.0 7-13. Fiona Lam, 1,727, Maryland, 4.0 • Nisha Deolalikar (California) was the winner of the Texas Tech four-year academic scholarship as the highest-finishing player who has not graduated from high school by August. The scholarship must begin the following year at Texas Tech in Lubbock. • Linda Diaz (N.Y.) was the winner of the $500 Ursula Foster award as the highest-finishing player younger than 14. • Crystal Qian (Arkansas) won the 2008 SPNI Miss Congeniality award. She received the highest total of votes from her fellow players. • Faith Munoz (Texas) was the winner of the SPNI Sportsmanship Award. • Morgan Mahowald (Minnesota) won the biggest upset award. She is rated 994 and defeated a player with a rating of 1,683 in the first round. For her effort, she received a $100 cash scholarship, sponsored by Dewain Barber and American Chess Equipment. Melanie Newell (Mississippi) scored the biggest cumulative upset. • Randy Wheeless, father of Amelia Wheeless, president of the N.C. Chess Association, was the co-winner of the SPNI Parents & Friends Open. He tied for first with my elder son Tommy Polgar. Chess Dad Greg Gossell won the Parents & Friends Unrated Section. Congratulations to all. Special thanks to Jerry Perez, Dr. Hal Karlsson, Dr. Rich Rice, Chase Watters, Peggy Flores, Paul Truong, Mr. and Mrs. Grimaud, Randy Wheeless, and all other volunteers for transporting the players and their families from and to the airport. Also special thanks to Chief TD Frank K. Berry of Stillwater, Okla., for running the tournament and chess dad Matt Mahowald for running the Parents & Friends and Bughouse events. This was truly a team effort to make the tournament a big success. More than $150,000 in scholarships and prizes were awarded in this event and an additional $25,000 was budgeted for housing, meals and organizational costs, etc. This level of support for chess from a university is unprecedented. Once again, special thanks to Texas Tech, the Susan Polgar Foundation, American Chess Equipment, Internet Chess Club, Lubbock Convention and Visitor's Bureau, U.S. Chess Trust, and others for sponsoring this fantastic event. I am looking forward to an even bigger and better 2009 SPNI. Prior to this tournament, only one of the 52 players had visited the magnificent Texas Tech campus. At the end of the tournament, I asked the players to fill out a tournament survey. After spending a week on campus, approximately 40 of the 52 players expressed interest in attending TTU in the future. In fact, some have started the process to apply. Thank you for sending in many wonderful comments. Please keep questions and comments coming by e-mailing me at You can also find a lot of information at or through my daily chess blog,
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