Saturday, September 11, 2010

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

R3 Top Boards - Checkmate! 
Yuan v. Robichaud:


Lenderman v. Gerzhoy:

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships, R3 Top Boards

Top board games (Open) in progress - screen shots:

Lenderman v. Gerzhoy:


Hebert v. Sambuev:


Yuan v. Robichaud:

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships, R2 Results

Official count:  204 players!  Congratulations to Club Ahuntsic, the City of Montreal and the Quebec Chess Federation for putting together a great Montreal event!

Top Open pairings, Round 3:

While I know I should be rooting for the American GM Alex Lenderman, who is a very personable young man, I can't help but also root for IM Jean Hebert, Montreal's favorite chess son, who was a rising Canadian star in the early to mid 90's, only to leave chess (more or less, I do not think that anyone who loves chess ever leaves it entirely) and then come back within the last few years, now married with a family and some grey hair!

I see WIM Yuan Yuanling won her R2 game and so now she is at Table 3, and I can watch her game, Lenderman's game and Hebert's game! 

Here are the top Open standings after R2:

Top standings Section B after R2:
Top standings Section C after R2:
Top standings Section D after R2:

A Girly View of the Goddess Benzaiten

From The Japan Times online:
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010

JAPAN LITE
Benzaiten — Tomboy Goddess of the Sea
By AMY CHAVEZ

Our motorboat skimmed over the smooth water of the Seto Inland Sea. We were on our way to the mainland and I was attempting to apply last-minute beauty aids — nail polish to my fingers and toes. That's 20 appendages and, on a motorboat occasionally met by waves from passing cargo ships, that means 20 distinct possibilities for a nail polish disaster. But I was determined; I had a speech to give that day. I didn't want to look like I had just been swept in from the sea.

As we passed Benten Island, I caught a glimpse of the Goddess of the Sea laughing at me. Benten lives on her own island and sports long, flowing locks of hair and eight arms which hold an bow, arrow, sword, ax, spear, pestle, iron wheel and a silk rope. Do you realize that's 40 fingernails to paint? Well, I suppose she has to do something all day on that island. And at this point, I envied her.

It did make me wonder though, how does Benten do it? How does the Goddess of the Sea manage to maintain her beauty despite the hardships of sea life?

Benzaiten, locally known as simply Benten, lives among the elements all year long through wind, storms, high waves and even typhoons.

It's not easy trying to maintain a slice of femininity in this sort of environment, and that's not even counting the slimy octopus and sticky seaweed. Although Benten is often pictured with long flowing hair, this can't be possible because they would get all tangled in the salty wind and she'd have a glop of a mop in no time. Long eyelashes? Not a chance! They'd function more like a Venus fly trap, catching all the gnats that fly by in the wind.

When you live on an island like I do, you can only hope to maintain the femininity of a fish. Don't get me wrong. I'm still feminine, just on a different scale. I'm hoping I'll be reincarnated as a mermaid.

After all, the sea is supposed to be full of beauty enhancers. Sea salts are used in skin exfoliation, and sea soaps are said to be good for the skin. Eating fish and seaweed is healthy and good for the complexion. The sea is universally exploited in people's quest to become more beautiful than they already are.

Yet for those of us who live by the sea, it is quite clear that the sea hasn't endowed us with any special beauty. As a matter of fact, fishermen's wives may be the least beautiful of all women in Japan. Akita Prefecture has the "Akita bijin" (Akita beauties) and other parts of Japan claim they have beautiful women as well, but I can't say I've ever heard this about women living in the Inland Sea area.

When you also consider Benten's advanced age of 15 centuries old (in Japan), it just doesn't seem logical that Benten can be so beautiful. And since she is, I want to know how she does it.

Consider that in addition to being Goddess of the Sea, she is also the Goddess of poetry, music, education and the fine arts. She plays the lute. As a side job, she protects against natural disasters, which is what those eight implements she holds are for. I'm sorry, but there is just no way she has time to worry about how her hair looks.

She also doubles as the Hindu goddess "Saraswati," goddess of the river. That's a lot of traveling back and forth between Japan and India. We all know that flying is not good for your skin.

And Benten has one more thing up her eight sleeves — and this one really takes the cake — she can turn herself into a snake! Where's the beauty in being a part-time reptile? I mean, what gives?!

It could have to do with luck. As one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan she is also said to bring fortune, and that would include her own. With her fortune, she probably has the money for spa treatments, massages, facials and the sort.

However, I have a hunch it's something different. I think I've finally figured out her secret. It's not wealth and certainly not youth. I have come to the conclusion that Benten, the Goddess of the Sea, is a tomboy. Who else would want to turn herself into a snake? Only a tomboy would use those implements she holds such as a sword, ax and a spear.

She has short hair, and has never even considered painting her 40 finger nails. All this makes her very smart, much smarter than I am.

As a cargo ship passes in front of our motorboat, we skim over its wake. Inevitably, the boat slams down on the other side of the wake, creating a nail polish disaster. It's hard to hide the fact that I have just been swept in from the sea.

Benzaiten, tomboy Goddess of the Sea, just laughs.
****************************************************************
More information on Benzaiten from A to Z Photo Dictionary: Japanese Buddhist Statuary

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

Screen shot Round 2 action - Qin v. Lenderman:

As you can see, Gerzhoy and Sambuev have already won their games.  Qin still giving Lenderman fits!

Updated 2:01 p.m.  Lenderman wins.  Here is the final position:


Lenderman has under an hour before R3 begins.  Will he be able to rebound from such an unexpectedly long game?  Either Lenderman is not in form or Qin is very under-rated.  A GM rated more than 400 points above his opponent ought to have won this game with a minimum of fuss and bother. Pairings aren't up yet, I don't know who Lenderman will be playing, but I expect it won't be an easy game! 

2010 Romanian Team Chess Championships - Women

GM Pia Cramling, North Urals Cup 2008.
Our friends at Chessdom has a report on the 2010 Romanian Team Chess Championships - Women. 

GM Pia Cramling seems likely to win an individual gold medal for her performance. 8.0/8!  Here are the teams and their current performances with 1 more round to go:

Team-Composition with round-results
1. CS Politehnica Iasi (RtgAvg:2284, TB1: 15 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 WGM L'ami Alina 2339 ROU 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 6,0 8
2 WGM Paulet Iozefina 2247 ROU ½ 0 1 1 1 1 ½ 5,0 7
3 WIM Bulmaga Irina 2267 ROU 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 7,5 8
4 WIM Padurariu Ioana-Smaranda 2131 ROU 1 1,0 1


2. CS AEM Luxten Timisoara (RtgAvg:2303, TB1: 14 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 GM Cramling Pia 2509 SWE 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8,0 8
2 WGM Voicu-Jagodzinsky Carmen 2313 ROU ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 0 5,5 8
3 WNM Uta Adeline-Ramona 2087 ROU 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 ½ 5,5 8


3. CSM Bucuresti (RtgAvg:2402, TB1: 13 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 IM Vasilevich Tatjana 2399 UKR 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 3,0 6
2 IM Foisor Cristina-Adela 2395 ROU 1 1 1 1 4,0 4
3 IM Peptan Corina-Isabela 2412 ROU 1 1 0 1 1 1 5,0 6
4 WFM Foisor Mihaela-Veronica 2210 ROU 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 5,0 6
5 WCM Anusca Madalina-Maria 2009 ROU 1 1 2,0 2


4. CS Studentesc Medicina Timisoara (RtgAvg:2306, TB1: 12 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 IM Gaponenko Inna 2469 UKR 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 4,0 7
2 WGM Sandu Mihaela 2242 ROU ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 4,0 7
3 WFM Traistaru Teodora 2206 ROU 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 + 6,0 8
4 WFM Visanescu Daria-Ioana 1924 ROU 0 1 1,0 2


5. CSU Brasov (RtgAvg:2139, Captain: Sasu Adrian & Dragomirescu Angela / TB1: 7 / TB2: 3)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 WIM Videnova Iva 2283 BUL ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 0 0 4,5 8
2 WIM Dragomirescu Angela 2168 ROU 0 0 1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 4,0 8
3 WFM Ursente Maria-Eugenia 1966 ROU 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 - 4,0 8


6. ACS de sah Apa Nova Bucuresti (RtgAvg:2116, TB1: 7 / TB2: 1)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 WGM Cosma Elena-Luminita 2360 ROU 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 4,0 8
2 WFM Chirita Andra-Marina 1995 ROU ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 4,0 7
3 WCM Ilie Maria-Ruxandra 1994 ROU 0 1 0 0 1 1 3,0 6
4 I Serbanescu Diana-Maria 1816 ROU 0 1 0 1,0 3


7. CS Siciliana Eforie (RtgAvg:2075, TB1: 7 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 WIM Moldovan Corina 2249 ROU 1 ½ 0 0 1 0 0 0 2,5 8
2 WFM Plass Mariana-Camelia 2134 ROU 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 5,0 8
3 I Berintan Teodora 1842 ROU 1 ½ 1 0 1 0 0 0 3,5 8


8. Clubul Central de Sah Bucuresti (RtgAvg:2178, TB1: 3 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 WGM Ionescu Irina 2272 ROU ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 2,5 6
2 WIM Marin Irina-Luiza 2132 ROU 0 1 ½ 1 2,5 4
3 WFM Baciu Anca-Otilia 2130 ROU 1 0 0 ½ 1,5 4
4 WNM Baluta Elena-Camelia 2030 ROU 0 0 0,0 2
5 WCM Vasilescu Maria 1802 ROU 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 1 1,5 8


9. CS Spartac Bucuresti (RtgAvg:1921, TB1: 2 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 WFM Popescu Sabina 1947 ROU 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0,5 8
2 WFM Teodorescu Anca 2005 ROU 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1,0 8
3 WCM Botezatu Mirela 1812 ROU 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2,0 8


10. CSS Targu Mures (RtgAvg:1511, TB1: 0 / TB2: 0)
Bo. Name Rtg FED 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games
1 I Moldovan Petruta-Alisia 1681 ROU 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0,5 8
2 I Sonfalean Maria-Laura 1653 ROU 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0,0 8
3 II Dragnea Bianca-Alisa 530 ROU 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0,0 8

Humpy Gears Up For Blitz Chess

From The Deccan Chronicle On the Web:
September 11th, 2010
DC Correspondent

Hyderabad, Sept. 10: World No.2 and India’s top rated Woman Grandmaster Koneru Humpy is ready with the gambit as she makes her maiden attempt at the Women’s World Blitz Chess Championship to be held in Moscow on September 17 and 18.

Humpy, who qualified by virtue of her rating, is India’s lone hope at the prestigious event.

“This is the first time I will be playing this tournament and I am excited at the prospect,” Humpy told this paper from Vijayawada.

“The format of the tournament is different. It will be played in a double round-robin format where I get to experiment with both black and white. Each game last for about 7-8 minutes and we have to play 15 games a day,” Humpy explained.

“There will be a total of 16 participants — the top six rated players apart from the top four players of the World Championships and six qualifiers,” added Humpy, who has an ELO rating of 2593.

“This format is a true test of how one manages time and presence of mind,” said Humpy.

“I am looking forward to playing the tournament, and more importantly winning the title,” the Woman Grandmaster added.

Humpy’s last title at an official Fide tournament was at the Women’s Grand Prix at Istanbul in March 2009.
******************************************************************
NO OFFICIAL WEBSITE YET FOR THE WOMEN'S WORLD BLITZ CHAMPIONSHIP 2010, being held in Moscow.  Guess that shows you how important FIDE and the organizers think this Championship is.  I just checked - 12:56 p.m. - at FIDE's website.  Nada, nothing, zip.   

Possible Evidence of Ancient Trade?

There is a great "ah HA!" moment in this article.  The title is misleading - the contents of this wreck were recovered, evidently, sometime shortly after 1989 when the wreck was first discovered - but are first being analyzed now?  Hmmmm.  Anyway, fascinating:

Article from New Science.com
2000-year-old pills found in Greek shipwreck
Updated 10:57 10 September 2010 by Shanta Barley

In 130 BC, a ship fashioned from the wood of walnut trees and bulging with medicines and Syrian glassware sank off the coast of Tuscany, Italy. Archaeologists found its precious load 20 years ago and now, for the first time, archaeobotanists have been able to examine and analyse pills that were prepared by the physicians of ancient Greece.

DNA analyses show that each millennia-old tablet is a mixture of more than 10 different plant extracts, from hibiscus to celery.

"For the first time, we have physical evidence of what we have in writing from the ancient Greek physicians Dioscorides and Galen," says Alain Touwaide of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

The box of pills was discovered on the wreck in 1989, with much of the medicine still completely dry, according to Robert Fleischer of the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, also in Washington DC.

Herbal remedies
Fleischer analysed DNA fragments in two of the pills and compared the sequences to the GenBank genetic database maintained by the US National Institutes of Health. He was able to identify carrot, radish, celery, wild onion, oak, cabbage, alfalfa and yarrow. He also found hibiscus extract, probably imported from east Asia or the lands of present-day India or Ethiopia.

"Most of these plants are known to have been used by the ancients to treat sick people," says Fleischer. Yarrow staunched the flow of blood from wounds, and Pedanius Dioscorides, a physician and pharmacologist in Rome in the first century AD, described the carrot as a panacea for a number of problems. "They say that reptiles do not harm people who have taken it in advance; it also aids conception," he wrote around 60 AD.

The concoctions have also thrown archaeobotanists a few curve balls. Preliminary analyses of the ancient pills suggest they contain sunflower, a plant that is not thought to have existed in the Old World before Europeans discovered the Americas in the 1400s. If the finding is confirmed, botanists may need to revise the traditional history of the plant and its diffusion, says Touwaide – but it's impossible for now to be sure that the sunflower in the pills isn't simply from recent contamination.

Quacks no more
Drugs described by Dioscorides and another Greek physician known as Galen of Pergamon have often been dismissed as ineffectual quackery. "Scholars and scientists have often dismissed the literature on such medicines, and expressed doubt about their possible efficacy, which they attributed only to the presence of opium," says Touwaide. He hopes to resolve this debate by exploring whether the plant extracts in the pills are now known to treat illnesses effectively.

He also hopes to discover therian – a medicine described by Galen in the second century AD that contains more than 80 different plant extracts – and document the exact measurements ancient doctors used to manufacture the pills. "Who knows, these ancient medicines could open new paths for pharmacological research," says Touwaide.

The team presented their findings yesterday at the Fourth International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology in Copenhagen, Denmark.
****************************************************
Just how did extract of sunflower get into those c. first
century BCE medicinal pills recovered from a ship wreck
dated to c. 130 BCE? Sunflowers were not supposed to
have been imported  into the Old World until after c. 1500
when the Spanish  invaders discovered them in America. 
Pray tell - how could sunflower contamination possibly have occurred? It's not like extract of sunflower is just floating around in people's pockets! Historians need to revise their history on the diffusion of the sunflower? - you betcha! But I won't hold my breath. Despite ever-growing evidence, there is such a reluctance to let go of the hypotheses formulated 150 years ago and admit that there was extensive trade going on between the old and new worlds long before 19th and early 20th century scholars say it did. What we need to do as a world is to kick out most of that old "accepted wisdom" and start over from square one -- re-examine EVERYTHING!  We have new tools and new view points.  Time to let go of that German-Anglo past brought to us by the rod-up-the-butt dudes with the beards and sideburns and move things into the 21st century. 

Info on the history of the sunflower from the National Sunflower Association (USA)

Stupid, Stupid, STUPID Move

Unbelievable.  The British Museum is letting the Cyrus Cylinder out of its custody - sending it to IRAN.  Absolutely incredibly STUPID.

Cyrus Cylinder row resolved: 'Ancient declaration of human rights' to visit Iran
Submitted by Ann on Fri, 09/10/2010 - 20:12
[Excerpted] The British Museum has announced that it is lending the Cyrus Cylinder to the National Museum of Iran. Together with two fragments of contemporary cuneiform tablets, it will be the centrepiece of an exhibition that celebrates a great moment in the history of the Middle East.

The artefact – which is described as 'an ancient declaration of human rights' by the United Nations – was originally due to arrive in Iran in September 2009. At that time, the British Museum cited the 'political situation' in post-election Iran as the reason for the delay. In August this year, the loan was once again delayed, prompting Iran's Cultural Heritage Organisation to declare it would cut all ties with the British Museum. [I would have given Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization the one finger salute at that threat, one reason why I'm not a Director of a world-famous museum.]

In a statement released today, the British Museum said that “although political relations between Iran and the UK are at the moment difficult”, the Cyrus Cylinder will – after all – be send to Tehran, where it will be on display for four months.

STUPID STUPID STUPID. It's not the people at the National Museum of Iran whose integrity and honor I doubt - it's the Islamic regime in control of Iran that has no honor - none, zero, zip. What's Britain going to do if the regime refuses to return the Cylinder?

STUPID STUPID STUPID.

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

Round 2 started at 10:00 a.m. Montreal time, which was an hour and 10 minutes ago on my clock (it's now 10:11 a.m. here).  Here are the top pairings from the Open for R2:


Games of the top 3 boards can be watched here.  Ohmygoddess - Lenderman has 2 rooks, a knight, a bishop and his queen all bunched together in one corner of the board - looks like he can't bust them out.! Hmmm...(currently on move 18). 

Update 12:28 p.m. Milwaukee time (1 hour behind Montreal time):  Qin Zi Yi (2176) with white seems to be causing some problems for GM Alex Lenderman.  On Move 39 now - Queens are off the board, just went through a bloody swap of pieces.  Lenderman has six pawns though he is down a bishop, are Qin's three pawns plus bishop adequate compensation for him?  Lenderman's king looks much better defended to my inexperienced eyes.  He seems to be taking his time before making a push with some of his 'extra' pawns...

Update 12:41 p.m. Milwaukee time (1 hour behind Montreal time):  Lenderman has simplified the game down to his six pawns and a knight v. Qin Zi Yi's now two pawns, a knight and a bishop.  Things do not look promising for Qin.

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships - More R1 Photos

Before R1.  WIM Yuan Yuanling in yellow.
Playing venue, before R1.  It is a symphony of black and white - even the floor :)

No. 64 on the 64 squares.

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

Playing venue scene.  Beautiful surroundings.
It's official!  2010's Championnat has surpassed last year's mark with 198 players (my count based on R2 pairings, but there are 200 names listed in the R1 standings).  Our Club Ahuntsic friends are very happy.  There was (as last year) a surge of last minute on-site registrations but I believe Round 1 started on time - lots of byes were handed out.

Here are R1 standings.

Official website

Here are the R1 games that you can play through for the top 3 boards - I don't know how long they will be available.

Bernard Ouimet, our Ahuntsic contact, reported that at the conclusion of his game, GM Alex Lenderman wandered into the commentary room and surprised the heck out of the fellas giving commentary and everyone present by offering to go over his game, which happened to be on the big screen at the time - this is what Bernard writes (it will appear on the official website's blog but will only be in French):

A RARE SPECTATOR TREAT – Spectators in the live commentary room were spoiled during round one when Grandmaster Alexandr Lenderman casually walked in after winning his game. Seeing that the main screen showed the final position of his game, he offered his own commentaries on it. Offer accepted on the spot. Alex.then dazzled the audience with his in-depth view of the game, answering questions from the audience (many of them from his victim of the day). It was a great moment for the spectators. Alex certainly made many friends with his generous attitude.


WIM Yuan Yuanling (Open) drew her R1 game with Felix Dumont.  Kelly Wang (Group B) won her R1 game with Jeremie Gauthier.

Here's Don McLean, our Gchess reporter, tinkering at the baby grand piano I just knew had to be somewhere on these premises - Don has an instinct for finding keyboards. He played keyboard and guitar with a couple of bands back in the day and continues to compose.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Important Mimbres Find

Looting matters.  I'm very happy the woman who found this artifact not only marked the spot of the find, she also turned it into the forest rangers, who were then able to investigate and arrange for further archaeological exploration.  Thank you, Elizabeth Grover, and thank Goddess, there are still honest, good-hearted people in the world.  The Mimbres Culture existed in a relatively small area of the state of New Mexico (USA) between approximately the 1st to 12th centuries CE (100 - 1150).

From the Silver City Sun News
Woman finds Mimbres pot during walk in Gila National Forest
Sun News Report
Posted: 09/09/2010 12:09:36 AM MDT

MIMBRES - During a morning walk in the Gila National Forest last week, Elizabeth Grover, a resident of Lake Roberts, discovered what looked to her like a geode in the bank of an arroyo. It turned out to be a small clay Mimbres pot with unusual red markings on the rim.

Grover marked the spot where she found it with a stake and called the Wilderness Ranger Station in Mimbres to report her find.

Chris Adams, zone archaeologist for the Wilderness and Black Range Ranger Districts of the Gila National Forest, was contacted and made arrangements to meet with Grover to look at the location where the pot was found. This information is valuable in order to gain further knowledge about the history of this area that is so rich in culture, forest officials said.

"I'm so glad that Mrs. Grover did the right thing and told us about this incredible find. Now the public can enjoy seeing and learning more about the archeology of the area." said Al Koss, district ranger of the Wilderness Ranger District.

"This is what I thought I was supposed to do," Grover said after being thanked for turning the historic clay pot in to the Forest Service and not illegally keeping it for a private collection.

When artifacts are stolen and archaeological cultural sites are destroyed, important clues about the past are lost forever. Strict laws protect artifacts and sites on federal, state and Indian lands. The right thing to do is report any artifacts or cultural sites to local law enforcement or land management agency.

The National Forest Heritage Strategy, developed to protect significant heritage resources that are at risk, says, "These historic finds hold clues to past ecosystems, add richness and depth to our landscapes, provide links to living traditions, and help transform a beautiful walk in the woods into an unforgettable encounter with history."

The Met Puts on a Show!

A cool show at the Metrpolitan Museum of Art - for people there or who will be visiting New York, check this out:

Timeless Tales:
Aesop's Fables & The Chess Game
New York Chamber Soloists

The music...simply wonderful...its perky leitmotifs...capturing the quirkiness and beauty of Carroll's text.
—Lewis Carroll Society of North America

Timeless Tales
Saturday, October 2, 2010, 3:00 PM
Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
$30.00  Buy Tickets

The Soloists:
Melvin Kaplan, oboe
Jennifer Grim, flute
Curtis Macomber, violin
Adam Grabois, cello
Elizabeth Metcalfe, piano
Ynez Lynch, viola, narrator

Alice being chastised by the Red Queen.
Music and narration of two timeless tales - Aesop's Fables and The Chess Game - to excite and enchant both the young and the young at heart.

The Chess Game, by Gerald Fried is a brilliant musical piece with narration of three scenes from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (the sequel to Alice in Wonderland) which was commissioned by the New York Chamber Soloists. Based on a game of chess, played on a giant chessboard. Most of the main characters in the story are represented by a chess piece, with Alice herself being a pawn.

Gerald Fried is best known for his works for film and television, including the music score for Stanley Kubrick's films and many Star Trek episodes.


How I miss New York!  It was love at first sight.  What a fantastic city.  I will visit again.

Chess Femme News

My focus this weekend will be on the City of Montreal Open Chess Championships, one of the local chess endeavors with which we are involved, and cleaning up my yard from the wreckage left behind by the strong winds that came through earlier in the week and made an absolute mess -- a jumble of downed branches and twigs and leaves.  I will be getting my work-out raking, for sure!

There was not much in the news regarding chess femmes when I checked earlier today --

From Rediff Sports.com
Humpy lone Indian to participate in world blitz chess
September 10, 2010 18:53 IST
 
GM Koneru Humpy, 2009.
World number two [#2 rated female chessplayer in the world] Grandmaster Koneru Humpy will represent India in the FIDE Women's world blitz chess championship finals to be held in Moscow, Russia on September 17 and 18.

Humpy is the only player to represent India.

She qualified for the finals by virtue of her world ranking. Humpy from ONGC has represented India in two women Grand prix tournaments this year as a part of FIDE Women's world chess championship cycle 2010-2011.

The Final Tournament will be played as a double round-robin event with a total number of 16 players, 15 rounds on the first day and 15 rounds on the second day (30 games in two days). Time control for each player will be 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move, starting from move one.

The other prominent players qualified for the finals are:

1. Alexadra Kostenuik (ELO 2524) , reigning women's world champion from Russia,
2. Stefanova, Antoaneta (ELO 2551), former women's world champion from Bulgaria,
3. Kosintseva, Nadezhda (ELO 2565), former Russian women's champion,
4. Kosintseva, Tatiana (ELO 2573), former European champion from Russia,
5. Muzychuk, Anna (ELO 2535), reigning world junior champion from Slovenia,
6. Lahno, Kateryna (ELO 2539), former European Champion from Ukraine.

I wish Humpy good luck!  She is one of my favorite players, I have been following her career since 2001 and watched her mature into a woman as well as a formidable chessplayer.  I do not believe, however, that blitz is a form of play she excels in.

Chantelle Foster, from article.
A the term "chess starlet" was used in the article - LOL!  Who is called a starlet anymore?  But congratulations are due to English chessplayer Chantelle Foster, thirteen years old, who will be playing on behalf of England later this month at the European U-18 Chess Championships:

From The Thame Gazette (thametoday.co.uk)
Published Date: 10 September 2010
Chess star's England call
Chess starlet Chantelle Foster has been selected by the English Chess Federation to represent England at the European Chess Championships in Batumi, Georgia, later this month.

Why did FIDE schedule this Championship and the Olympiad with overlapping dates?  My guess is that at least some countries had to decide whether to send their best chessplayers, who happen to be 18 or under, to the European U-18 Championships or the Olympiad.  Definitely not fair to countries that do now have a large player base to draw from. 

World University Chess Championship 2010
One more round to go. It's been a very tough competition for the ladies, no one is running away with it.  Here are the standings for the femmes after R8:

Rk. Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 IM Munguntuul Batkhuyag MGL 2412 6,0 6,0 28,0 37,0
2 WGM Guramishvili Sopiko GEO 2343 5,5 5,5 29,0 37,5
WIM Drljevic Ljilja SRB 2273 5,5 5,5 29,0 37,5
4 WIM Fuchs Judith GER 2237 5,5 5,5 28,5 37,5
5 WGM Tsereteli Tamar GEO 2384 5,5 5,5 28,0 38,0
6 WGM Tuvshintugs Batchimeg MGL 2333 5,5 5,5 27,0 36,0
7 WIM Borosova Zuzana SVK 2277 5,5 5,5 27,0 35,5
8 WGM Sukandar Irine Kharisma INA 2372 5,5 5,5 25,0 33,0
9 Zhang Ying CHN 2210 5,0 5,0 24,0 32,0
10 WFM Cheremnova Tamara RUS 2225 5,0 5,0 24,0 31,0
11 WIM Severiukhina Zoja RUS 2313 4,5 4,5 31,5 41,5
12 WIM Yanjindulam Dulamsuren MGL 2212 4,5 4,5 30,5 37,5
13 WGM Stojanovic Andjelija SRB 2337 4,5 4,5 29,5 39,5
14 Lkhamsuren Uuganbayar MGL 2206 4,5 4,5 28,5 34,5
15 WIM Melekhina Alisa USA 2273 4,5 4,5 27,5 36,5
16 WIM Seps Monika SUI 2184 4,5 4,5 27,0 35,5
17 WFM Salman Mahini Mona IRI 2001 4,5 4,5 26,5 35,0
18 WIM Kharashuta Ekaterina RUS 2298 4,5 4,5 24,5 33,0
19 WFM Nakhbayeva Guliskhan KAZ 2243 4,5 4,5 24,5 32,0
20 Alavi Homa IRI 1953 4,5 4,5 22,5 28,5
21 WIM Hoolt Sarah GER 2251 4,0 4,0 25,5 34,0
22 Lestari Baiq Vina INA 2177 4,0 4,0 24,0 32,0
Hemmatizadeh Nina IRI 1891 4,0 4,0 24,0 32,0
24 WFM Hegarty Sarah N ENG 2084 4,0 4,0 23,5 32,0
25 WFM Davletbayeva Madina KAZ 2163 3,5 3,5 26,5 35,0
26 Djukic Sandra SRB 2198 3,5 3,5 24,0 32,5
27 Garcia Liria Caetano BRA 1908 3,5 3,5 23,5 31,0
28 Van Nies Pauline NED 2167 3,0 3,0 24,0 32,0
29 WCM Lindiawati Evi INA 2133 3,0 3,0 23,5 30,5
30 Rajapaksha Ashanti K. SRI 1790 3,0 3,0 21,0 28,5
31 Naydenova Yordanka BUL 1924 3,0 3,0 21,0 27,0
32 Martinez Janine BRA 1949 3,0 3,0 21,0 26,5
33 Heinatz Maria SUI 1935 3,0 3,0 20,0 27,5
34 Dale Hannah ENG 1779 3,0 3,0 19,5 25,5
35 WCM Kadek Iin Dwijayanti INA 1889 3,0 3,0 18,5 24,0
36 Gunawardena Shanila SRI 0 3,0 3,0 16,0 21,0
37 WCM Liyanagedara L G A SRI 1844 2,5 2,5 19,0 25,0
38 Ferreira Ana Margarida POR 1816 2,0 2,0 16,5 21,5
39 De Silva Himeshi SRI 0 1,0 1,0 17,0 22,0

2010 City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

The action starts at 6:30 p.m. (Montreal is an hour ahead of where I am posting).  The latest pre-registered players count I have is 173.  Last year's Championnat had 191 participants - thanks in part to a day-of onslaught of onsite registrants -- so many people showed up that the start of Round 1 was delayed for quite awhile.  Hoping to prevent that this year, the organizers decided that registration will be cut off at 6:15 p.m. and anyone who registers after that time will have to take a 1/2 point bye. 

A little Championnat trivia: 
  • Largest turn-out ever was 310 in 1975
  • Second largest turn-out ever was 292 in 1977 which was won by Bill Goichberg with 5 1/2 - 1/2 - don't know if its the same person who was President of the USCF for many years and runs the Continental Chess Association
Don McLean will be onsite with camera and videocam to record the sights and sounds.  Game moves will be transmitted here - I am not sure now if it is limited to top boards only.

I'll have a R1 report tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

90th City of Montreal Open Chess Championships

Hola, darlings!

There's still time to register online.  If you arrive onsite to register on Friday, you'll have to pay in cash to register - so please hurry up and register on line!

Online registration

The Championnat is one of the local chess events that Goddesschess supports by providing funding as well as prizes just for the chess femmes.  This year, there are six cash prizes up for grabs for the ladies who play in the B through D Sections.

Club Ahuntsic, who organized the Championnat again this year, has outdone itself:
  • There is a gorgeous new playing venue with lots of amenities onsite including - very important - food service :)  There is access by the metro and bus line.  Information
  • The prize fund has been increased by $1,000 from last year - to $6,000! 
  • The weather is gorgeous!  Though, perhaps we have The Goddess of Chess to thank for that :)
More information on the 90th City of Montreal Open Chess Championshps.

Please come out and support this wonderful Montreal event, celebrating its 90th year!  It has a venerable history and your name could be added to a long line of Montreal chess champions. The winners of the 89th Championnat were IM Jean Hebert of Montreal (Open) and WGM Salome Melia of Georgia (Woman Champion). 

Who will the winners be this year?  Pre-registered players include GM Alex Lenderman, GM Bator Sambuev, IM Jean Hebert - defending his 2009 title, WIM Yuan Yuanling - highest rated Canadian female chessplayer and a member of the 2010 Canadian Women's Chess Olympiad Team, many Canadian masters, and one of Canada's up-and-coming chessplayers, Ms. Kelly Wang - 138 players so far.  Ms. Kelly Wang won the Class B Goddesschess prize in the 2009 Championnat and also won a Goddesschess prize offered at the 2008 Canadian Open.  More about Ms. Kelly Wang, who was a "Featured Chess Femme" at my 2008 column for Chessville (scroll down to the end of the column to see Ms. Wang.) 
official website

A New Theory on the Origin of the Lewis Chess Pieces

Kudos to Dylan Loeb McClain for this article from his Gambit blog at The New York Times.

September 7, 2010, 12:30 pm
A New Theory on the Origin of the Lewis Chessmen
By DYLAN LOEB MCCLAIN

[Excerpted.]

"Oy vey!  A new theory on the Lewis Chess Pieces!"
Scholars have studied the pieces since they were discovered and say that based on the style of their carvings they were made between 1150 and 1200 A.D., most likely in Trondheim, Norway. On Saturday, Sept. 11, there will be a conference on the Lewis Chessmen at the Scottish national museums timed to coincide with a tour of some of the pieces, called “The Lewis Chessmen: Unmasked.”

The question of the provenance of the chessmen may seem academic, even trivial. But scholars say their design, how they were created, who created them, even why they were made reveal important clues to the history and development of the North Sea region.

The two men pushing Iceland as the birthplace of the pieces are two chess aficionados, Gudmundur G. Thorarinsson and Einar S. Einarsson. According to a Web site created to explain his theory, Mr. Thorarinsson is a civil engineer and a former member of the Icelandic Parliament. Mr. Einarsson, a former president of Visa Iceland and a friend of the late chess champion Bobby Fischer, is helping to promote the idea.

They wrote e-mails to the organizers of the Scottish conference asking that the Icelandic theory be added to the agenda, but they said they were told the schedule had already closed. Still, they say they plan to attend and discuss the idea with scholars there.

Rest of article.
***********************************************************************
It really is a shame that Thorarinsson and Einarsson weren't able to officially present their intriguing hypothesis to the Conference.  Unfortunately, pointed exclusion is a method that has so often been used to shut out the voices of people who disagree with the accepted line. 

Thank Goddess for the internet. 

Through its power, hypotheses and theories - no matter how far out they may seem - may now be discovered and pondered over.  It is no longer an academically controlled shut-out on people who like to think Outside The Box.  Isn't that what we are supposed to do?  Stimulate discussion.  Stimulate thinking.

Personally, I believe that Thorarinsson and Einarsson  have advanced a viable hypothesis that is worth further exploration and discussion.  Just off the cuff, I found the "bishop" information very compelling.  Check out their website: The Origin of the Lewis Chessmen

The Catamites of Afghanistan

I didn't "know" - actually - although I suspected such practices still exist, particularly in certain areas of the world - but still, to read about something that is a perverted practice and condemned as such thousands of years ago, I was not shocked to see it alive and actively growing today.  Saddened, but not shocked.  What is happening to this world?

7 September 2010 Last updated at 19:42 ET
The sexually abused dancing boys of Afghanistan
By Rustam Qobil
BBC World Service

Image from article.
It's after midnight. I'm at a wedding party in a remote village in northern Afghanistan.  There is no sign of the bride or groom, or any women, only men. Some of them are armed, some of them are taking drugs.

Almost everyone's attention is focused on a 15-year-old boy. He's dancing for the crowd in a long and shiny woman's dress, his face covered by a red scarf. He is wearing fake breasts and bells around his ankles. Someone offers him some US dollars and he grabs them with his teeth.

This is an ancient tradition. People call it bachabaze which literally means "playing with boys".

The most disturbing thing is what happens after the parties. Often the boys are taken to hotels and sexually abused.

The men behind the practice are often wealthy and powerful. Some of them keep several bachas (boys) and use them as status symbols - a display of their riches. The boys, who can be as young as 12, are usually orphans or from very poor families.

Omid's story

I spent months trying to find a bacha who was willing to talk about his experience.  Omid (not his real name) is 15 years old. His father died in the fields, when he stepped on a landmine. As the eldest son, it's his job to look after his mother - who begs on the streets - and two younger brothers.

"I started dancing at wedding parties when I was 10, when my father died," says Omid. "We were hungry, I had no choice. Sometimes we go to bed on empty stomachs. When I dance at parties I earn about $2 or some pilau rice."

I ask him what happens when people take him to hotels. He bows his head and pauses for a long time before answering.

Omid says he is paid about $2 for the night. Sometimes he is gang raped.

I ask him why he doesn't go to the police for help.

"They are powerful and rich men. The police can't do anything against them."

Omid's mother is in her early 30s, but her hair is white and her face creased. She looks at least 50. She tells me she only has half a kilo of rice and a few onions for dinner. They've run out of cooking oil.

She knows that her son dances at parties but she is more concerned about what they will eat tomorrow. The fact that her son is vulnerable to abuse is far from her mind.

In denial

There have been very few attempts by the authorities to clamp down on the bachabaze tradition. Muhammad Ibrahim, deputy Police Chief of Jowzjan province, denies that the practice continues.

"We haven't had any cases of bachabaze in the last four-to-five years. It doesn't exist here any more," he says.  "If we find any man practising it we'll punish them."

According to Abdulkhabir Uchqun, an MP from northern Afghanistan, the tradition is not just alive, but steadily growing.

"Unfortunately it is the on the increase in almost every region of Afghanistan. I asked local authorities to act to stop this practice but they don't do anything," he says.  "Our officials are too ashamed to admit that it even exists."

Afghanistan is a country where Islamic values are cherished so I asked a Grand Mullah at the Shrine of Ali in Mazar-e Sharif - the holiest place in Afghanistan - for his views on bachabaze.

"Bachabaze is in no way acceptable in Islam. Actually, it's child abuse. [but honor killing young females isn't?] It's happening because our justice system doesn't work.

"This country has been lawless for many years and responsible bodies and people can't protect children," he explains.

Dancing boys are picked out at a young age by men who cruise the streets looking for effeminate boys among the poor and vulnerable. They offer them money and food.

The Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul is one of the few organisations that has attempted to address the bachabaze practice. The group's head, Musa Mahmudi, says while it is common in many parts of Afghanistan there have been no studies to determine how many children are abused across the country.

He takes me to the street in front of his office to show me just how difficult it is to protect children here.

The streets of Afghanistan are full of working children. They polish shoes, they beg, they gather plastic bottles to resell. They will take on any job which will earn them some money, he says.

Dancing bells

Every Afghan I spoke to knew about bachabaze. Many tried to convince me that it exists only in remote areas.

But I went to a party late at night in the old quarter of Kabul, less than a mile from the government's headquarters. It was there that I met Zabi (again not his real name), a 40-year-old man who is proud to have three dancing boys.

"My youngest bacha is 15 and the oldest is 18. It wasn't easy to find them. But if you want it badly - you will find them," he says.

Zabi says he has a good job and he gives them money.

"We have a circle of close friends who also have bachas. Sometimes we gather together and put women's clothes and dancing bells on our bachas and they dance for us for two-to-three hours. That's all."

He says he has never slept with his boys, though he admits he hugs and kisses them.

I tell him that many people think this practice is wrong.

"Some people like dog fighting, some practice cockfighting. Everyone has their hobby, for me, it's bachabaze," he says.

When we leave the party at two in the morning a teenage boy is still dancing and offering drugs to the men around him.

Zabi is not especially wealthy or powerful, yet he has three bachas. There are many people who support this tradition across Afghanistan and many of them are very influential.

The Afghan government is unable and some say unwilling to tackle the problem. They are facing a growing insurgent movement. How long international troops will stay in the country is uncertain. The justice system is weak, poverty is widespread, and there are thousands of children on the streets trying to make a living.

So bachabaze will continue.

Ancient Liubo Set Recovered from Western Han Dynasty Tomb

From Peoples Daily (English version online)  Note: I do not believe that most western chess scholars agree that liubo was an early form of "chess," but writer David Li wrote a book several years ago, "The Genealogy of Chess", that made this argument.  From the comments made by archaeologist Fan Shuhai in the article, it appears that the theory of liubo as an ancient form of chess may be accepted as fact in China.

Ancient chess set from original version of game found in Hebei
16:13, September 08, 2010

Recently, an archaeology team from the Hebei Cultural Relics Research Institute has found a chess set for Liu Bo Chess, thought to be the original version of Chinese chess and chess, in an ancient tomb belonging to the Western Han Dynasty in Pingshan County.

Since May of this year, the archaeology team has carried out a protective excavation along a train station reconstruction site in Pingshan County. On a field to the west of the railway, archaeologists found 100 ancient tombs from a period lasting from the Warring States Period to the Qing Dynasty and unearthed some very rare and precious cultural relics from those tombs.

Fan Shuhai, the leader of the archaeology team, announced on Sept. 7 that they found a Liu Bo chess set, including chessmen and chess-prods, near one male's remains in a Western Han tomb. He said the discovery was "one of the most important discoveries," because "several chessboards of Liu Bo Chess have been found in China, but hardly ever the chessmen and chess-prods."

He said the chess game was invented before the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, and it includes three major tools, the chessmen, chess-prods and a chessboard. The game symbolized a battle, and two players had to use their wisdom and strategies to attack each other and to win the game by forcing rivals into a deathtrap.

According to Fan, the form of chess was on the wane after the Eastern Han Dynasty, and the playing method and rules were gradually out of record both in people's memories and history books.

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online
***********************************************************
Information on the game of liubo (including several images), from Cazeaux's comprehensive website on ancient chess and chess-like games.

For those interested:

A story well told is not necessarily true - being a critical assessment of David H. Li's "The Genealogy of Chess" by Peter Banaschak

A letter by Dr. David Li to E. Meissenberg of the Initiativ Gruppe Koenigstein, in response to an invitation to give a presentation at a symposium to be hosted by the IGK.

A 2005 interview of Dr. David Li at Chessbase that discusses, among other things, "The Genealogy of Chess."

Another interview of Dr. David Li at Sonshi (possibly from 2006).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Are the Women Carved Into Angkor Wat?

This is a fascinating article about how one man, not a professional archaeologist or historian, started asking questions and kept asking them and seeking answers - eventually assembling a team of various scholars dedicated to solving the same mystery.

From The Independent
The 12th-century facebook of Angkor Wat
Monday, 6 September 2010

Identities of the mysterious women carved into the Cambodian temple could finally be revealed. Andrew Buncombe reports

ALAMY.  Exquisitely stone-carved Asparas dancers at the
Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat.  A closer examination of the
dancers in this image revealsdifferent body types, a  range
of ages (from young to mature) and the headdresses are
not identical.   Also note that the body positions of each of
the dancers is slightly different.  
Amid the splendour of the 12th-century temple at Angkor Wat, they stand and stare like silent sentinels, sensuous rather than erotic, carved with elegance and care. But exactly who are these 1,786 mysterious women and why, more than a century after Cambodia's famed Hindu temple was rediscovered byWestern archaeologists, did it take the efforts of an amateur researcher from Florida to push experts into trying to resolve the puzzle?

Though Kent Davis had lived in South-east Asia during the 1990s, he did not have an opportunity to see Angkor Wat until 2005. Like most visitors to the huge complex in the centre of the Cambodia, for many years cut off from the outside world because of the presence of theKhmer Rouge, he was mesmerised by the experience.

But he was also left with a flurry of questions. "I went to Angkor as a tourist and I was startled when I got there to notice these women," said Mr Davis, 54, a publisher and writer who now lives near Tampa, Florida. "I was not prepared for it. The human element of them struck me and I wanted to know who they were. I asked one of the guides and he said they were there to serve the king after he went to heaven."

Mr Davis's interest was tweaked, so he wanted to know more. He vowed he would return to the US and investigate. Yet when he got home he found there was essentially nothing written about these women, who appear throughout the temple complex in full body carvings.

Indeed, the only study of the female carvings he could find had been made in the early 20th century by the daughter of Frenchman Henri Marchal, then the curator of the temple site. Frustrated but intrigued, he decided he would find out for himself. Five years and several trips to Angkor later, Mr Davis has slowly begun to get some answers.

Rest of article.

17th Graz International Chess Festival - WGM Tournament

As part of the larger international chess festival, a WGM Tournament was held at Graz, Austria, August 28th - September 5th, 2010. Here are the final standings from that tournament:

17th WGM Graz (AUT), 21 viii-5 ix 2010
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
1. Lujan, Carolina m ARG 2296 * ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 8 2577
2. Moser, Eva m AUT 2440 ½ * 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 7½ 2483
3. Schneider, Veronika wm HUN 2292 0 0 * ½ 1 1 1 0 ½ 1 5 2270
4. Limontaite, Simona wm LTU 2230 0 0 ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 4½ 2234
5. Daulyte, Deimante wm LTU 2333 0 ½ 0 0 * 0 1 1 1 1 4½ 2222
6. Pertlova, Sona wm CZE 2206 0 0 0 ½ 1 * ½ ½ 1 1 4½ 2236
7. Kopinits, Anna-Christina wm AUT 2187 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 ½ 4 2195
8. Exler, Veronika AUT 2143 0 0 1 0 0 ½ ½ * 0 ½ 2½ 2077
9. Schink, Barbara AUT 2052 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 * ½ 2½ 2087
10. Novkovic, Julia wf AUT 2157 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ * 2 2022

Russian Women's Higher League 2010

The Russian Women's Higher League took place in St Petersburg, Russia August 26th - September 3rd, 2010. Top 10 final standings (9 rounds):

Nazi Paikidze at the 2010 Polonia Wroclaw
International Chess Tournament.
July 1, 2010.  Wikipedia.
Rank Name Ti Fed. Elo Pts TPR W-We 1
1 Paikidze, Nazi WGM GEO 2346 7.0 2534 +2.16 1
2 Girya, Olga WGM RUS 2376 6.5 2479 +1.25 1
3 Shadrina, Tatiana WGM RUS 2374 6.5 2413 +0.54 1
4 Zaiatz, Elena IM RUS 2398 6.0 2447 +0.57 0
5 Matveeva, Svetlana IM RUS 2379 6.0 2462 +0.99 ½
6 Nebolsina, Vera WGM RUS 2349 6.0 2440 +1.16 ½
7 Romanko, Marina IM RUS 2411 5.5 2422 +0.15 1
8 Savina, Anastasia WGM RUS 2392 5.5 2359 -0.35 ½
9 Manakova, Maria WGM SRB 2306 5.5 2456 +1.87 1
10 Ivakhinova, Inna WIM RUS 2279 5.5 2373 +1.17 ½

Baku Open

August 23 - 31, 210
Azerbaijan
2010 Baku Open International Chess Tournament

USA's GM Gata Kamsky took clear first with 7.5/9. The 150 player event had several chess femmes playing. The highest finish was 18th place by Georgian IM Leyla Javakhishvili (2469) wih 6.5. Other chess femmes who participated and their final standings:

26 WGM Mamedjarova Zeinab AZE 2231 6,0
38 WFM Hejazipour Mitra IRI 2233 5,5
45 WFM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat IRI 2097 5,5
48 WIM Umudova Nargiz AZE 2239 5,5
52 WGM Mamedjarova Turkan AZE 2280 5,0
55 WFM Mammadova Gulnar Marfat qizi AZE 2260 5,0
57 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2499 5,0
58 WCM Fataliyeva Ulviyya Hasil qizi AZE 1942 5,0
61 WIM Isgandarova Khayala Ilqar Qizi AZE 2172 5,0
62 WIM Kazimova Narmin Nizami Qizi AZE 2255 5,0
64 Mammadbayova Farida Tofiq qizi AZE 2036 5,0
69 WFM Hakimifard Ghazal IRI 2173 5,0
72 Khalafova Narmin Ilqar Qizi AZE 2063 4,5
73 Hasanova Turkan Zakir Qizi AZE 2038 4,5
74 WIM Abdulla Khayala Mardan Qizi AZE 2193 4,5
94 Ibrahimova Sabina Oqtay Qizi AZE 2054 4,0
99 Bakhtiyarly Aysel Anvar qizi AZE 2040 4,0
100 WFM Aghasiyeva Fidan Aydin qizi AZE 2075 4,0
102 Mammadova Aysel Alishiraz qizi AZE 1965 4,0
103 Aghayeva Gulshan Qabil Qizi AZE 1893 4,0
107 Babazade Zhala Sharafaddin Qizi AZE 1898 4,0
108 Soyunlu Narmin Asat qizi AZE 1775 4,0
110 Amrayeva Aytan Arzuman qizi AZE 1811 3,5
111 Eyyubzada Maryam AZE 0 3,5
112 Aghayeva Aytan Qabil qizi AZE 2003 3,5
118 Asgarova Turan Nizami Qizi AZE 1961 3,5
124 Novruzova Nigar Farman qizi AZE 1778 3,5
125 Khalilova Khadija Gyunduz Qizi AZE 1704 3,5
126 Guliyeva Sabina Ilqar Qizi AZE 2010 3,5
137 Mammadzada Aysel Sahib qizi AZE 0 3,0
143 Zamanova Bikakhanim Rufat qizi AZE 1790 2,5
149 Nasirova Gunay Imran Qizi AZE 0 2,0

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Monstrous Crime of Honor Killings - Growing and Spreading

Honor crime victim Fakhra Khar,
drenched in acid by her husband in
Karachi in 2001.  She lived.

Where are the voices of Islam crying out against this practice, these horrible crimes?  Read just a few examples of "honor" killings that I included in this excerpted article below and you tell me - why are the leaders of Islam not speaking out forcefully against this practice?  Why are they not screaming against it and issuing fatwas outlawing the practice and authorizing the killing of its practitioners from their mosques?  Don't read this article if you don't have a strong stomach.
From the Independent.com

The honour killing files:

The crimewave that shames the world

It's one of the last great taboos: the murder of at least 20,000 women a year in the name of 'honour'. Nor is the problem confined to the Middle East: the contagion is spreading rapidly

By Robert Fisk
Tuesday, 7 September 2010

It is a tragedy, a horror, a crime against humanity. The details of the murders – of the women beheaded, burned to death, stoned to death, stabbed, electrocuted, strangled and buried alive for the "honour" of their families – are as barbaric as they are shameful. Many women's groups in the Middle East and South-west Asia suspect the victims are at least four times the United Nations' latest world figure of around 5,000 deaths a year. Most of the victims are young, many are teenagers, slaughtered under a vile tradition that goes back hundreds of years but which now spans half the globe.


A 10-month investigation by The Independent in Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank has unearthed terrifying details of murder most foul. Men are also killed for "honour" and, despite its identification by journalists as a largely Muslim practice, Christian and Hindu communities have stooped to the same crimes. Indeed, the "honour" (or ird) of families, communities and tribes transcends religion and human mercy. But voluntary women's groups, human rights organisations, Amnesty International and news archives suggest that the slaughter of the innocent for "dishonouring" their families is increasing by the year.

Iraqi Kurds, Palestinians in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey appear to be the worst offenders but media freedoms in these countries may over-compensate for the secrecy which surrounds "honour" killings in Egypt – which untruthfully claims there are none – and other Middle East nations in the Gulf and the Levant. But honour crimes long ago spread to Britain, Belgium, Russia and Canada and many other nations. Security authorities and courts across much of the Middle East have connived in reducing or abrogating prison sentences for the family murder of women, often classifying them as suicides to prevent prosecutions.

It is difficult to remain unemotional at the vast and detailed catalogue of these crimes. How should one react to a man – this has happened in both Jordan and Egypt – who rapes his own daughter and then, when she becomes pregnant, kills her to save the "honour" of his family? Or the Turkish father and grandfather of a 16-year-old girl, Medine Mehmi, in the province of Adiyaman, who was buried alive beneath a chicken coop in February for "befriending boys"? Her body was found 40 days later, in a sitting position and with her hands tied.

Or Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, who in Somalia in 2008, in front of a thousand people, was dragged to a hole in the ground – all the while screaming, "I'm not going – don't kill me" – then buried up to her neck and stoned by 50 men for adultery? After 10 minutes, she was dug up, found to be still alive and put back in the hole for further stoning. Her crime? She had been raped by three men and, fatally, her family decided to report the facts to the Al-Shabab militia that runs Kismayo. Or the Al-Shabab Islamic "judge" in the same country who announced the 2009 stoning to death of a woman – the second of its kind the same year – for having an affair? Her boyfriend received a mere 100 lashes.

Or the young woman found in a drainage ditch near Daharki in Pakistan, "honour" killed by her family as she gave birth to her second child, her nose, ears and lips chopped off before being axed to death, her first infant lying dead among her clothes, her newborn's torso still in her womb, its head already emerging from her body? She was badly decomposed; the local police were asked to bury her. Women carried the three to a grave, but a Muslim cleric refused to say prayers for her because it was "irreligious" to participate in the namaz-e-janaza prayers for "a cursed woman and her illegitimate children".

Rest of article.

Egyptian Papyrus In the Lining of 1,200 Year Old Irish Psalter

From Physorg.com
Egyptian papyrus found in ancient Irish bog
September 6, 2010
Irish scientists have found fragments of Egyptian papyrus in the leather cover of an ancient book of psalms that was unearthed from a peat bog, Ireland's National Museum said on Monday.

From the original 2006 AP report, found at
Knight Science Journalism Tracker.
The papyrus in the lining of the Egyptian-style leather cover of the 1,200-year-old manuscript, "potentially represents the first tangible connection between early Irish Christianity and the Middle Eastern Coptic Church", the Museum said.

"It is a finding that asks many questions and has confounded some of the accepted theories about the history of early Christianity in Ireland."

Raghnall O Floinn, head of collections at the Museum, said the manuscript, now known as the "Faddan More Psalter", was one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in Ireland.

It was uncovered four years ago by a man using a mechanical digger to harvest peat near Birr in County Tipperary, but analysis has only just been completed.

O Floinn told AFP the illuminated vellum manuscript encased in the leather binding dated from the eighth century but it was not known when or why it ended up in the bog where it was preserved by the chemicals in the peat.

"It appears the manuscript's leather binding came from Egypt. The question is whether the papyrus came with the cover or if it was added.

"It is possible that the imperfections in the hide may allow us to confirm the leather is Egyptian.

"We are trying to track down if there somebody who can tell us if this is possible. That is the next step."

O Floinn said the psalter is about the size of a tabloid newspaper and about 15 percent of the pages of the psalms, which are written in Latin, had survived.

The experts believe the manuscript of the psalms was produced in an Irish monastery and it was later put in the leather cover.

"The cover could have had several lives before it ended up basically as a folder for the manuscript in the bog," O Floinn said.

"It could have travelled from a library somewhere in Egypt to the Holy Land or to Constantinople or Rome and then to Ireland."

The National Museum in Dublin plans to put the psalter on public display for the first time next year.

(c) 2010 AFP
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More information provided in this article:
Manuscript dug from bog rates among our top 10 biggest finds
By JEROME REILLY
Sunday September 05 2010

Background information from Wikipedia.

July 26, 2006 article on the initial discovery from BBC News (with photo).

March 10, 2010 article from The Irish Times (with photo).

The Psalter has its own Facebook page.

Were Chess Relics Uncovered During a Moscow Construction Project?

This "oh by the way" throw-away segment in the following article from The Moscow News online in English caught my eye:

Moscow’s chess lovers ready to practice
by Lidia Okorokova at 06/09/2010 22:15

Chess on display

Chess also has its own museum in Moscow, established in 1980, but it is currently closed for refitting and renovation.

“The chess museum may be re-opened soon with a new collection of chess that were discovered recently at a construction site in Moscow during an archaeological excavation,” chief Moscow archaeologist Alexander Veksler recently said at a press-conference at Interfax.

The museum’s collection has unique sets of chess pieces from 18th – 20th centuries, including chess boards made from jade and gems from the Urals, so one can only hope that it will be open to the public again soon.

Address: Moscow, Gogolevsky
Bulvar 14, Kropotkinskaya metro.
Phone: (495) 291-4429
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Hmmmm, seems I missed the announcement.  Just what is this "new collection of chess" that were discovered recently at a construction site in Moscow?

I mean, if someone tossed away a 19th century Staunton set in Moscow in 1910 and it was buried under the rubble of a building blown up during the Revolution or one or both world wars, who cares?  That is hardly earth-shattering news and although such a set might merit interest in a local museum - really - it's hardly worth a news report on the Interfax. I was not able to find anything else online on the discovery and I'm not a subscriber to Interfax so, that's it, folks.  Unless someone else out there has further information.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dog Graves Uncovered in Colonial Virginia

From UPI.com
Colonial-era dog graves found in Virginia
Published: Sept. 4, 2010 at 6:21 PM

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Dog remains were discovered in two Colonial-era graves on the campus of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

When two "small, rectangular shafts" dating to the late 1600s to mid-1700s were discovered July 13, archaeologists initially thought they contained the remains of children, Joe Jones, director of William & Mary's Center for Archaeological Research, told The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot Friday.

But the bone fragments, most of which were smaller than a fingernail, turned out to be from small to medium-sized dogs, Jones said, calling the discovery "unprecedented."

"During this period of early Colonial history in Virginia, there's no good evidence for people keeping dogs for household pets. And if not the English colonists, what else might be going on?" Jones asked, leaving open the possibility that the graves were the work of American Indians, who would have been on campus during the early years of the college, which was established in 1693.
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Hmmmm, how about perhaps the dogs were sacrificed when a building or buildings were being built or dedicated on the fledgling campus? Some Eastern Europeans practiced dog sacrifice well into the 20th century under just such circumstances, and I believe the English practiced dog sacrifice too, into the 19th century I think.  While I'm certain that most of the significance and true meaning orginally behind such sacrifices had been lost over time, it is interesting to think that ultimately, the people who engaged in such rituals were asking for the protection of the Great Mother Goddess in a rather bass-ackwards way, by sacrificing the very creatures who were her talismen and faithful companions.

The goddess Gula with her dog.
Detail from a boundary stone
dated to the reign of Babylonian
king Nabu-mukin-apli, 978-943 BCE.


Drawing © Stephane Beaulieu,
after Black and Green 2003: 101.
Some information about various goddesses (and a few gods) associated with dogs through the ages:

Cailleach: Celtic (Irish & Scottish) Goddess of disease and plague. A Destroyer, or Crone, Goddess, she was also called "Veiled One". As the Crone, she ruled with the Maiden and the Mother. Monsterous Dogs guarded the gates of her afterworld realm where she received the dead. Celtic myth has her gatekeeper dog named Dormarth "Death's Door". Irish bards who could curse with satire were often called cainte "dog".

Xolotl: In Aztec and Toltec mythology, Xolotl ("The Animal", Lord of the Evening Star, Lord of the Underworld) was the god of lightning and a psychopomp, which is to say that he was the one who aided the dead on their journey to Mictlan, the afterlife.

Xolotl was also the god of fire and of bad luck. He was the twin of Quetzalcoatl, the pair being sons of the virgin Coatlicue, and was the evil personification of Venus, the evening star. He guarded the sun when it went through the underworld at night. He also brought forth humankind and fire from the underworld.

In art, Xolotl was depicted as a skeleton, a dog-headed man - "xolotl" can also mean "dog" in Nahuatl, the Aztec language - or a monster animal with reversed feet. He was also the patron of the Ulama game. He is identified with Xocotl as being the Aztec god of fire.

The axolotl, a type of salamander native to Mexico, is not directly named after the god. Instead, its name derives from the Nahuatl words for water ("atl") and dog (also "xolotl").Xoloitzcuintle is the official name of the Mexican Hairless Dog (also known as Perro Pelón Mexicano in Spanish), a canine species endemic to Central America dating back to Pre-Colombian times. This is one of many native dogs species in the Americas and it is often confused with the Peruvian Hairless Dog. The name Xoloitcuintle makes reference to Xolotl because, historically, one of this dog's missions was to accompany the dead in their journey into eternity. In spite of this prominent place in the mythology, the meat of the Xoloitcuintle was very much part of the diet of some of the ancient peoples of the region.

Anubis, perhaps the best known of the "dog" gods - jackal headed, associated with post-death rituals of embalming and the crucial "Weighing of the Heart" ceremony; also functioned as a protector of the deceased's remains which were crucial to be preserved as a dwelling place for the deceased's spirit to return to nightly. More info at Wikipedia, a good start for info on this extremely ancient wild dog-god.

Among the more familiar goddesses closely associated with dogs (often as harbingers of death and protectors of the deads' spirits):  Artemis, Athena, Sarama, Roman Diana, Lupa.

Gula:  The "Great One" whose name is not known, lost in the mists of time but held the title.  She was a healing goddess and her alter-ego was a dog.  Check out "Going to the Dogs" by Johanna Stuckey. 

Isis Sends News: King Tut DNA Story in National Geographic

King Tut bust. National Geographic.
Looks like Michael Jackson in later years.
Good timing guys, in conjunction with the popular "King Tut" exhibition currently at the Denver Art Museum and an expected $100 million poured into the local economy as a result of people visiting to see the exhibition and spending while in the city.

Master promoter of Egyptian antiquities (not that they need any promotion, ancient Egypt has always been a favorite with people everywhere) Zahi Hawass, Extreme High Mucky Muck of Egyptian Antiquities (he will probably have himself cloned so he never has to give up his position) wrote the National Geographic article.

Here is a nice cover article from the Summit Daily News
King Tut DNA findings
National Geographic reveals the mystery behind the boy-king
By Kimberly Nicoletti
September 5, 2010

And from the National Geographic website
Tut's Family Secrets
September 10, 2010 issue
Includes a neat graphic of Tut's family tree through his great-grandparents.
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