Saturday, January 1, 2011

Recap of Chess Femme News - 2010!

A brief review of stories - some big, some not so big - of Chess Femme News during 2010.

December, 2010:
GM Hou Yifan of China becomes youngest-ever Women's World Chess Champion at age 16
Hou's triumph caps a years-long surge of Chinese feminine chess talent who are now the ones to beat (other than, perhaps, the Georgians)

Meanwhile, GM Judit Polgar showed she still could play blitz and rapid with the boys, but did not finish in the top 10 of either 2010 European Championships (Blitz/Rapid) event....

November, 2010:
GM Koneru Humpy is a class act, and the second-highest rated female chessplayer in the entire world; GM Judit Polgar retains the top spot despite slipping below 2700 ELO.  Despite losing out to Hou Yifan in the 2010 Women's World Chess Championships for a second time (Koneru also lost to Hou in the 2008 version of the Championship), Koneru's overall results demonstrate that she is the better chessplayer. 

Czech Coal Chess Match 
15th European Club Cup for Women 2010:
2nd best player overall;
#1 board on winning team (Cercle d'Echecs de Monte Carlo ) with 5.5/7, 1point ahead of team-mate GM Hou Yifan, wih 4.5 on #2 board

2010 Asian Team Chess Championships:
Indian Women were shut out of medals after drawing their final round with Vietnam.  The final three teams were China, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. 

October, 2010:
Retrospect:  Lisa Lane, U.S. Women's Chess Champion

Philippines Chess Federation pulls Women's Team from upcoming Asian Games, purportedly because they don't stand a chance to medal

U.S. Teams shut out of medals at 2010 Chess Olympiads - we sucked.

September, 2010

GM Kateryna Lahno wins 2010 Women's World Blitz Championship

More tomorrow - I'm too tired to continue tonight :)

Djoser's "Step-Pyramid" Being Restored With Aid of 21st Century Technology

An intersting article on new technology being used to aid in restoration of Djoser's "Step-Pyramid", with a You-Tube video:

21st Century Welsh Technology to Save 27th Century Egyptian Pyramid
January 1, 2011
From Past Horizons

Step Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara. Photo: Stu Rapley, Flickr

Turkish Chess Federation Gives the Finger to Female Chessplayers

Turkey threw a hissy fit because one person didn't like what an "uppity woman" from the European Chess Federation wrote in a certain email, and Turkey decided it does not abide by the rule of contract law after all, and has CANCELLED the European Women's Individual Chess Championship for which the TCF (Turkish Chess Federation) had bid for and won the bid to host in 2011. 

So much for the Turks thinking they are Europeans!  Since the Muslims have taken over the Turkish government it appears that this kind of sexist Muslim baloney sausage is happening more and more.  And FIDE - the international chess federation which is in charge of all this - has remained SILENT.  WTF?  Darlings, it's all about money.  It's always money.  And women and female chessplayers get THE FINGER once again.

The news was FIRST reported at - and it was not picked up on by any of the major chess blogs other than Susan Polgar's chess blog where I first saw the news - offered without any comment from SP.  The story was NOT picked up by any news service until, I see, this report at The New York Times chess blog, finally, tonight.

I had refrained from reporting anything on the story, waiting to see what would shake out - I wanted to see who would report what, comment on what, see if FIDE would actually exercise a leadership role and lay the law down to Turkey.  But - NOTHING!  And thus, the Turkish Chess Federation and FIDE have made it explicitly clear what they think about female chessplayers and female-only chess events.

So, Turkey, up yours.  I now know exactly what to think of YOU.   I've known for some time what to think about FIDE but, as the saying goes, hope springs eternal...

The New York Times Chess Blog
December 31, 2010, 8:45 pm T
Turkey Withdraws as Host of European Women’s Chess Championship

In a letter posted on the Turkish Chess Federation’s Web site on Wednesday, Ali Nihat Yazici, the federation’s president, announced that Turkey had withdrawn as host of the European Women’s Chess Championship. It was to be held in March 2011 in Gaziantep, a city in the southeastern part of the country.

[This may well be the key:] The prize fund was to be 104,000 euros (about $139,000 at current exchange rates), which would have exceeded the 101,000 euro prize fund ($135,000) for the overall European Championship, which will be held in Aix-les-Bains, France.  . . . .
[Darlings, the "overall European Championship" is MEN, with perhaps a token woman or two playing in the event.] . . .  .

This really frosts my butt (an old Wisconsin saying).  If TURKEY does not want to pay the prize money to female chessplayers, just come right out and say so, don't give the world a line of bullshit.

Shame, SHAME on FIDE for not IMMEDIATELY CENSORING this kind of behavior from a contractee.  Shame, SHAME on the Turkish Chess Federation. Shame, SHAME on the government of Turkey for allowing this behavior on TCF's part to go forward.

Well, for my part, there is nothing I can do other than lodge this public protest against such barbaric behavior.  From now on, no mention of any Turkish chessplayer or any Turkish-sponsored chess events will be reported at this blog or at Goddesschess/Chess Femme News. 

Here is the original report at

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, darlings!  May 2011 be healthy, happy and prosperous for all of you.

I spent the day cleaning, doing laundry, and working on various family tree projects.  Right now I've got the Rose Bowl on the radio.  The Wisconsin Badgers are playing against Texas Christian University (what is it about Texas and teams, heh?).  When I started this post it was half-time and Wisconsin was down by 1, now it's into the 3rd quarter and we're down 21-13 so obviously TCU scored sometime while I took a short break and was down in the basement on mouse patrol.  Yes, the mice are back and I tried to plug up the hole they tunneled through CONCRETE BLOCK from the outside and through supposedly inpenetrable foam insulation I had installed last year around this time.  I discovered, much to my horror earlier today, when I trekked downstairs to put in a load of laundry, that not only did I somehow manage to grow a crop of gigantic house flies that were hibernating on the west-facing basement window right above my dryer  which were not, I repeat, were NOT there a week ago -- I also discovered a HOLE that the mice (I assume they are mice, as I have had battles with them in the past...) managed to chew into the foam insulation which was sold to me not only for its insulating qualities (and I have to admit, it is much warmer in the basement now) - but also as "mouse-proof" -- said hole being positioned on the upper left-side of the window frame and, as far as I could tell by poking around inside it, not through the window frame!  Said hole also was not there a week ago - I'd have seen it -- it was very noticeable!  I don't mind mice, as long as they stay the hell out of my house!  And so, once again, it appears I am at war.  And, you can be sure, on Monday I will call the insulation company to get a rep out here as soon as I can manage it - and that will certainly not be a fun meeting (for the rep), let me tell you.  In the meantime, I climbed on top of the dryer several times and stuffed mothballs, fabric softener sheets and the odd puff of stray foam I found around the basement into the hole to try and clog it up.  The damn thing seemed endless - probably there is an entire network of  tunnels by now around the entire perimeter of my basement - and so I shall tell that insulation rep when I get him here.  Looks like I will be having entirely new foam insulation and fiberglass batting re-installed - for free - or I will take that company all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, I am that pissed. 

The Fearless Foursome of Goddesschess will be re-uniting in Las Vegas sometime after April 15, 2011!  Mr. Don will be coming to Milwaukee to play in his very first OTB chess tournament when he and I, and perhaps Shira Evans and her significant other Crispin Sandford make our appearance at the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII, on April 16, 2011.  Shira and Crispin may not be able to make it - their plans are very much up in the air at the moment including planning a marriage. That is why I drafted Mr. Don whom, I  hope, will be taken down a peg or two chess-wise (he usually defeats me when we play OTB).  It's no fun ego-wise to be defeated by 8 year olds who wipe you all around the board, but - I have to tell you the truth - it is funny!  And fun!  I had a lot of fun at the HCCCXII in October.  Hmmm, maybe I should adjust my attitude to take this all a bit more seriously???


Checking the score Badgers - TCU:  21-13 TCU nearly end of third quarter.  Damn!

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010-11 Rilton Cup

The Rilton Cup has, over the years, hosted an exciting mix of top-level and up-and-coming players of both sexes.  Not so many chess femmes this year, though, and I don't know why, but it is troubling to see. Has the prize structure that was so attractive to female players in prior years been reduced, due to economic strain? 

In any event, GM Pia Cramling of Sweden is participating in the Rilton Cup, and I am happy to see her in competition.  She is very selective these days in what invitations she accepts and the tournaments in which she plays. 

I have been a fan of Cramling ever since I first read about her career in 1999, when I was taking my first baby-steps on the World Wide Web, as it was called back then :)  I really did not know a thing about the 'world of chess' before then (other than the bare basics of how to move the pieces), but while I was searching for information on female chessplayers, after having quickly surmised the near absence of any female names on lists of players in event after event that was making "chess news" at the time, certain names began to crop up - rarely - in my research, but they were there - female chessplayers of note.  I made a trip to my local library branch and found a book about female chessplayers.  Already, at that time, it was "old," from 1987!  But it was the only book I could find about female chessplayers.  Need I say more?

It was that book - by John Graham, Women in Chess, Players of the Modern Age, that led me to explore further.  John Graham, to whom I will always be indebted, introduced me into an entirely new realm of experience (with some familiar echoes to my own experiences as a femme embarked on a career in an entirely different endeavor).  It was clear from what Graham wrote and how he wrote it that he had great admiration for the players he profiled.

Pia Cramling and Susan Polgar earned their respective GM titles within a month or two of each other, and they did it the "traditional" way, by meeting norm requirements, playing a certain number of games, and achieving a certain ELO rating. [Even today, with the advent of computer-assisted game analysis and many more opportunities to play in competitive events that would allow for earning GM norms, earning a GM title is not an easy thing to do, despite headlines given to 14 and 15 year olds who have earned the title].  Both players (at and after the time the book was written, circa 1987) went on to have fine careers, with Polgar ultimately winning a Women's World Chess Champion title, which she held from 1996-1999.  Polgar retired from competitive chess play in - I think 2006 (I have a recollection that her last competition was a NYC Mayor's Cup in 2006 but I could be wrong about that), and went on to other things (SPICE at Texas Tech, Susan Polgar Foundation, chess promotion, spokeswoman, etc.)  I do not know nearly as much about Pia Cramling's career, except that after a break of some years, she resumed competitive play, and has participated in the Women's World Chess Championship "cycle" (such as it was/is), as well as mixed-sex tournaments and women-only tournaments, with some success.  Both women married and have pre-teen children.  Neither woman's "competitive fire" has gone out, that's for sure!

Selected excerpts from John Graham's Women in Chess, Players of the Modern Age (at Goddesschess, of course!)

If you would like to explore the question of women's "ability" to play chess further -- check out our selection of informative articles from past and present at Goddesschess' Gender and Chess: The Ever-Changing, Never-Ending Question... 

Now - to the 2010-11 Rilton Cup! 

December 27, 2010 - January 5, 2011

Rank after Round 5

Rk.NameFEDRtgClub/CityPts. TB1  TB2 
1GMNaiditsch ArkadijGER26854,514,50,0
GMGrandelius NilsSWE2525Lunds ASK4,514,50,0
3GMVolkov SergeyRUS25944,514,00,0
GMShimanov AleksandrRUS2516Sollentuna SK4,514,00,0
5GMBerczes DavidHUN2526SK Team Viking4,012,00,0
6GMMacieja BartlomiejPOL26364,012,00,0
7IMFurhoff JohanSWE2365Södra SASS4,011,00,0
8IMSmith AxelSWE2448Lunds ASK3,512,50,0
9GMGleizerov EvgenyRUS25723,511,50,0
10GMUlibin MikhailRUS25523,59,50,0
Lindberg BoSWE2404Sollentuna SK3,59,50,0
12GMKarlsson LarsSWE2466SK Rockaden3,59,00,0
13GMCramling PiaSWE2526Sollentuna SK3,58,50,0
14GMTikkanen HansSWE2550Lunds ASK3,012,00,0
15GMSokolov IvanNED26423,011,00,0
GMHillarp Persson TigerSWE2528Lunds ASK3,011,00,0
17IMSemcesen DanielSWE2449SK Team Viking3,010,50,0
18FMUrkedal FrodeNOR24383,010,50,0
Jacobsen BoDEN23173,010,50,0
20GMBerg EmanuelSWE2627Burgsviks SK3,010,00,0
21GMIvanov SergeyRUS2536Sollentuna SK3,09,00,0
GMBellon JuanESP2394Sollentuna SK3,09,00,0
23GMBrynell StellanSWE2492Limhamns SK3,08,50,0
24GMÅkesson RalfSWE2434Västerås SK3,08,50,0
25Arman DenizTUR22973,08,50,0
26Astrup KimNOR22743,07,50,0
27FMLögdahl HaraldSWE2257Eskilstuna SK3,07,00,0
28Winge StefanSWE2290Södra SASS3,06,00,0
29FMStraeter TimoGER23252,59,50,0
30IMLeer-Salvesen BjarteNOR23602,59,00,0
FMGetz NicolaiNOR23172,59,00,0
32FMLuukkonen TommiFIN23092,59,00,0
33IMBlomqvist ErikSWE2449SK Rockaden2,58,50,0
34IMHolmsten AlekseiFIN23812,58,50,0
35IMSouleidis GeorgiosGRE24112,58,50,0
36IMGroetz HaraldAUT23142,58,50,0
37Kopasov AlexanderRUS21982,57,50,0
38Sipila VilkaFIN22622,57,00,0
39Ask JosefSWE2205Västerviks ASK2,56,50,0
40FMThompson Ian DENG22642,56,00,0
WIMCzarnota DorotaPOL22292,56,00,0
42Cederstam Barsk CarlSWE2020Kristallens SK2,55,00,0
43Azizi HaroonSWE2140Solna SS2,07,00,0
44WFMFrisk EllinorSWE2126Lunds ASK2,06,50,0
45Wenzel BirgerGER2060Wasa SK2,06,00,0
46Holving RasmusSWE2211Kungstornet2,06,00,0
47Eriksson JörgenSWE2202SK Rockaden Umeå2,06,00,0
Lindgren PhilipSWE2091Limhamns SK2,06,00,0
49Hobber AndersNOR21962,06,00,0
50Johansson LinusSWE1966Limhamns SK2,05,50,0
51Kudzma LaimonasLTU22322,05,00,0
52Egilstoft Nielsen RógviFAI21162,05,00,0
53FMSagit RauanSWE2406Sollentuna SK2,04,50,0
54Forsberg ViktorSWE2255SK Rockaden Umeå2,04,50,0
55Bazeev GermanRUS23342,04,00,0
56Östling HåkanSWE2206Rödeby SK1,56,50,0
57Hedström JohanSWE2043Bollmora SK1,55,50,0
58Markevich IlyaRUS21751,55,50,0
59Jansson Anders OwenSWE2171Sollentuna SK1,54,50,0
60Olander AleksiFIN19901,54,00,0
61Pettersson AndersSWE2127SS Gambit1,53,50,0
62Bouaraba MaxGER22191,53,00,0
63Wiander MichaelSWE2158Stockholms SS1,52,50,0
64Lokander MartinSWE1982SK Rockaden1,05,00,0
65FMByklum BjörnarNOR22631,04,00,0
66Wihlborn BengtSWE1895Växjö SK1,03,50,0
67Ölund JoarSWE2035SK Rockaden1,02,00,0
Thiborg JesperSWE20201,02,00,0
69Bryntze StefanSWE2135SK Rockaden1,01,00,0
70Palmblad Jan PeterSWE2142Kungstornet0,00,00,0

Tie Break1: Fide Tie-Break
Tie Break2: Fide Tie-Break (fine)

2010 ASEAN Women's Chess Championship

December 26 - 30, 2010

An array of under-rated chess talent who, mostly, do not have much opportunity to play in an international field.  That is why events like this are so crucial to the development of our female chessplayers.  Final standings (from

Final Ranking after 9 Rounds

Rk.NameFEDRtgPts. TB1  TB2  TB3 
1WGMNguyen Thi Thanh AnVIE23007,536,526,015,5
2WGMHoang Thi Bao TramVIE22717,037,026,015,5
3WGMLe Thanh TuVIE23166,536,525,515,5
4WGMSukandar Irine KharismaINA23826,037,526,515,5
5WIMPham Le Thao NguyenVIE23375,538,027,016,0
WIMNguyen Thi Mai HungVIE22535,538,027,016,0
7WIMDang Bich NgocVIE22034,536,525,515,5
8Lestari Baiq VinaINA21404,530,522,513,0
9WCMLindiawati EviINA21144,530,021,513,0
10Docena JedaraPHI20324,525,519,012,0
WFMBakri Alia Anin AzwaMAS19534,525,519,012,0
12WIMMendoza BeverlyPHI20424,031,023,013,5
13WIMHoang Thi Nhu YVIE22234,031,021,513,0
14WFMJose Rulp YlemPHI20384,031,021,012,5
15WFMLiu YangSIN20894,027,020,012,0
16WFMDewi Aa CitraINA19894,026,520,012,0
17WFMTay Li Jin JeslinSIN21243,530,021,512,0
18WFMLo Yin Ling MelissaSIN18822,528,021,513,0
19Palomo Jenny RosePHI18732,027,520,512,5
20Cheng Jie Ling ZerleneSIN18151,526,519,512,0

Is Vietnam the "future" China when it comes to chess?  Stay tuned...  For my part, my eyes remain on WGM Irine Kharisma Sukandar, who should be playing in more mixed events and against male players in order to build her relative strength.  Do culture and religion play a role in preventing this from taking place, or is it just a matter of no financing to allow it to take place???

Just a note - as far as I could tell, not being familiar with the names of 99.9% of the players, all of the players in the "Open" were male.

2010 North American Open

Bally's at Las Vegas has hosted this event for several years now.  This year it ran from December 26 - 29, 2010.  Perhaps one year Mr. Don and I will toddle down to LV for Christmas again and stay to watch some of the chess action -- the entry fee is way too rich for my blood - I was shocked at how much it is.

Reporting on the Open only (131 players) - Top finishers and the chess femmes that I could easily identify:

# Name Rtng St Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Rd 4 Rd 5 Rd 6 Rd 7 Tot Prize

1 GM Jiri Stocek 2647 CZE W112 W36 W27 W22 D2 W11 D5 6.0 $7597.00
2 GM Giorgi Kacheishvili 2617 NY W108 W25 W33 W12 D1 D3 W11 6.0 $7800.00
12 GM Alexandra Kosteniuk 2550 FL W46 W119 W86 L2 D32 W53 D16 5.0 $135.00
22 IM Irina Krush 2552 NY W82 W114 W77 L1 L31 W58 D29 4.5
31 WIM Alisa Melekhina 2361 PA L3 W110 W72 W98 W22 L20 D24 4.5
39 WFM Tatev Abrahamyan 2410 CA W48 L62 W70 D36 L59 W63 D44 4.0
41 WIM Viktorija Ni 2349 NY L98 L71 W97 W48 W86 W75 L13 4.0
67 Vanessa A West 2167 CA L24 L108 D126 D116 D105 W122 W104 3.5
76 WFM Hana Itkis 2108 NJ H— L52 W83 D60 L58 W112 D68 3.5
100 Amanda Rae Mateer 2120 AZ L38 W82 D44 L54 W83 L56 L63 2.5
101 Marian N Nita 2114 CA L19 D111 L58 L83 W124 L65 W122 2.5
106 WIM Lorena Marisela Zepeda 2294 ESA L4 L113 W130 L72 L88 L105 W123 2.0
120 WIM Iryna Zenyuk 2320 PA W74 L77 L98 D84 L66 U— U— 1.5

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Atlantic City International

December 17 - 19, 2010
Final Standings (Open - 33 players) - Kamsky and Van Wely tied for first and top finishing females:
(1) GM Gata Kamsky (NY 2797) 5.0/6 -- $1,800
(2) GM Loek Van Wely (NED 2729) 5.0/6 -- $1,800
(7) IM Irina Krush (NY 2552) 4.0 -- $240 for a share of 5-7 places
(12) WIM Iryna Zenyuk (PA 2320) 3.5 -- $480 - U2400 1st
(17) WFM Hana Itkis (NJ 2108) 3.0 -- $90 - U2300 1st
(23) WFM Fan Yun (IN 2124) 2.5

Some of these players moved on to the North American Open in Las Vegas - will post about that tomorrow night.

Out of Africa Proponents Getting Desperate

Are you kidding me? What does the presence of lakes in the Sahara 11,000 years ago have to do with the spread of homo sapiens sapiens around the globe? If the hypothesis that is currently championed as "The Truth about Evolution" is to be believed, so-called "modern" man would have long before hiked out of Africa and slowly spread around the world.   Is this article meant to be a joke?  I thought so-called "modern" man was responsible for wiping out so-called Neanderthal Man (last evidence of so-called NM was 30,000 BCE or thereabouts), and the mega-fauna in North American (last evidence within 1,000 years or so of the end of the last Ice Age), peopling Melanesia and Australia X-thousand years ago, etc. etc. But now we're supposed to believe that none of this happened prior to some 11,000 years ago???  

Fish Swam the Sahara, Bolstering Out of Africa Theory
By Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
posted: 28 December 2010 05:14 pm ET [Excerpted]

Fish may have once swum across the Sahara, a finding that could shed light on how humanity made its way out of Africa, researchers said.

The cradle of humanity lies south of the Sahara, which begs the question as to how our species made its way past it. The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world, and would seem a major barrier for any humans striving to migrate off the continent.

Scientists have often focused on the Nile Valley as the corridor by which humans left Africa. However, considerable research efforts have failed to uncover evidence for its consistent use by people leaving the continent [maybe because there is no such evidence?], and precisely how watery it has been over time is controversial.

Now it turns out the Sahara might not have been quite as impassable as once thought — not only for humanity, but for fish as well.

"Fish appeared to have swam across the Sahara during its last wet phase sometime between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago," researcher Nick Drake, a geographer at King's College London, told LiveScience. "The Sahara is not a barrier to the migrations of animals and people. Thus it is possible — likely? —that early modern humans did so, and this could explain how we got out of Africa."

Yeah, right. This is really funny, LOL!

2010 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships

And the final four are - drumroll please...  ACH!  Not reported yet!  I just checked the official website and scores only through R5 are posted.

Okay - some news just flashed up (10 minutes later) - UMB-A and UTB-A agreed to draws on all boards.  Oh, really?   How can something like that be allowed? Why is this kind of obvious manipulating of game scores not considered cheating?   Ridiculous! 

And UTD-A defeated Texas Tech-A 2.5/1.5.  So, Texas Tech remains with 4.0/6 and may be bounced out of 4th place, depending on what the teams immediately beneath them have done/do.  I'll check the final standings later.

I must say it's surprising that games that started at 10:00 a.m. this morning still aren't reported.  I KNOW they haven't been playing this long!

Updated 8:35 p.m. local time:

Here are the final four and the final standings of all other teams:

Place Name/Team Rate Score USATx2 Pts MMed Solk
1 U of Texas, Dallas A (3) 2552 6.0 137.0 18.5 20.0 23.0
2 U of Maryland, Baltimore A (2) 2585 4.5 152.0 19.5 22.5 25.0
3 U Texas Brownsville-A (1) 2612 4.5 148.0 18.0 22.5 26.0
4 Texas Tech U-A (4) 2487 4.0 127.5 19.0 20.5 22.5

5 U of Maryland, Baltimore B (5) 2294 4.0 113.0 17.0 19.5 22.5
6 U of Texas, Dallas B (6) 2284 4.0 96.5 15.0 18.0 20.5
7 U of Toronto-A (9) 2155 4.0 78.0 15.0 17.0 19.0
8 U Texas Brownsville-B (7) 2247 4.0 76.0 15.0 18.5 19.5
9 Stanford U (8) 2211 4.0 75.0 14.5 16.5 18.5
10 Texas Tech U-B (13) 1995 3.5 60.0 13.5 15.0 16.0
11 Miami Dade College (15) 1940 3.5 52.0 11.5 17.0 18.0
12 Washington U (10) 2068 3.0 62.0 12.0 14.0 21.5
13 U of Chicago (14) 1983 3.0 61.0 11.5 13.5 19.5
14 U of Central Florida A (17) 1902 3.0 50.5 10.5 12.0 20.0
15 U of Texas, Dallas C (12) 2029 3.0 44.0 10.0 14.0 19.0
16 U of Minnesota (19) 1860 3.0 41.0 12.5 9.5 14.5
17 Yale U (22) 1672 2.5 58.0 13.5 12.0 16.0
18 Arizona State U (20) 1854 2.5 51.0 11.0 13.5 17.5
19 U of the West Indies (11) 2034 2.5 51.0 11.0 11.5 15.0
20 U of Maryland, College Park (16) 1924 2.5 49.5 10.0 14.5 19.0
21 Texas Tech U-C (21) 1774 2.5 36.0 11.5 10.0 14.022 U of Toronto-B (18) 1884 2.0 27.0 7.5 13.0 17.0
23 Reed College (23) 1475 2.0 26.0 8.5 10.0 14.0
24 Montgomery College (27) 1083 2.0 18.0 8.0 8.5 11.5
25 U of Central Florida B (24) 1327 1.5 20.5 7.0 10.5 13.5
26 Madison AreaTechnical Colle (28) 1022 1.5 4.0 6.0 9.5 13.5
27 Florida Atlantic U (26) 1300 1.0 22.0 6.0 8.5 12.0
28 U of Maryland, College Park (25) 1310 1.0 10.0 4.0 9.5 12.5
Congratulations to UTD-A, the #3 seed, for their perfect 6.0 score and to the top four finishers! 

Texas Tech is going to the President's Cup for the second year in the row - a wonderful accomplishment since Texas Tech has only fielded teams to the Intercollegiate for the past two years!  Well done, Knight Raiders players and coaches Susan Polgar and Paul Truong. 

Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships

Top standings after R5:

Pan-American Team Champs 2010 — Team                         Wall Chart, Page 1
Name/ID                            Rate   Rnd 1     Rnd 2     Rnd 3     Rnd 4     Rnd 5     Rnd 6
1. U Texas Brownsville-A             |2612 |W15,4.0  | B8,4.0  | W4,2.5  | B3,1.5  | W7,4.0  | W2,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |   3.0   |   4.0   |         |
2. U of Maryland, Baltimore A        |2585 |B16,4.0  | W9,4.0  | B6,4.0  | W7,4.0  | W3,1.5  | B1,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |   4.0   |   4.0   |         |
3. U of Texas, Dallas A              |2552 |W17,4.0  |B10,4.0  | W5,3.0  | W1,2.5  | B2,2.5  | B4,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |   4.0   |   5.0   |         |
4. Texas Tech U-A                    |2487 |B18,4.0  |W12,4.0  | B1,1.5  |W14,4.0  | B9,4.0  | W3,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |   4.0   |         |
5. U of Maryland, Baltimore B        |2294 |W19,4.0  |B13,4.0  | B3,1.0  |W12,4.0  |W10,3.5  | B6,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |   4.0   |         |
Texas Tech-B in 13th place with 2.5; Texas Tech-C in 21st place with 1.5.
Last round today at 10:00 a.m. Texas Tech-A faces UTD-A.  The final four will play for the President's Cup in the spring.  Go, Knight Raiders, go!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Timothy A. Sawyer - New Book Out

[Edited AGAIN January 4, 2011 - sorry to Mr. Sarwer and Mr. Sawyer, I neglected to change the name in the Title!  Duh.  Mea culpa.  It is Mr. Timothy A. Sawyer who has written a new chess book on the trials and travails of a chessplayer and chess playing - A Patzer's Story.  The rest of my comments follow, when I was under the mistaken belief that it was Mr. Jeff Sarwer who had written the book, and the cross-outs are my initial edit when I was notified of the error in identifying/confusing the authors by someone who actually reads this blog, perhaps one of my 26 whole fans, LOL!  My apologies to Mr. Sarwer and Mr. Sawyer.  As for the folks who actually read here, they are probably quite used to being confused by what I write :)]

Sarwer has had his share of ups and downs in life, including a struggle with depression - a much misunderstood and insidious disease that is still pooh-poohed as "moodiness" and "just get over it" as if it is just a lack of willpower, by ignorant society.  I wrote a blog post about Sarwer in October, 2009.  Still a young man, Sarwer has now written a book intertwining the lessons he has learned from life and chess - A Patzer's StoryPress Release.  [Edited at 7:12 p.m. my time, after I saw the comment left that this was not written by Jeff Sarwer - it's actually written by a Mr. Sawyer.  Me bad - and I really must get my eyes checked and switch over to something stronger than Walgreens readers!  Sorry.  But the rest of the post is still valid info.  J.N.]

He had dropped off the radar for many years after making a big splash in the world of scholastic chess by winning the U-10 World Chess Championship in 1986, but I did find some information on him a few years ago when I went looking, wondering whatever happened to the boy on whom the "evil chess player" persona in the hit film "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was based.  Poor kid - cast as a stereotype!

I didn't find much of any information about him back then (early to mid 2000's) but what I did find had nothing in it about poker.  He had his own business, as I recall and was living in Europe - Germany, I thought (he resides in Poland, and may have been at the time too, and I just mis-remembered).  I remember checking the USCF website and at the time he was still listed as a playing member from Michigan!  Well, it was either Jeff Sarwer, or someone with the same name...  A few years later, more information about JS began appearing on the internet. 

Jeff Sarwer today. 
 Many chessplayers have found success as poker players, and make much more money playing poker than they ever did playing chess.  A sad commentary on our topsy-turvy world where a card game generates more income for a player than chess.  I recently saw a feature article on Sarwer from a poker website - he signed with an agency that represents poker players and has done well for himself playing poker.   

Here is Sarwer's website - which is not the website (or does not have the information in it) that I found years ago.   The videoclip at the beginning is fascinating and gives the back-story to Sarwer's younger life.  His introduction to the video is touchingly ironic.  Just remember, Jeff, not everyone is under 20 and 20 years ago does not seem like long ago and far away...  Oy! 

I think he could have been world champion.  But, like Josh Waiztkin, he moved on to other things.  Now you can find lots of information on Jeff S. on the internet, including interviews and photographs.  He's no longer in hiding, from himself, or from the world.  He played in a chess tournament in 2007(Malbork) and did quite well, tying for second place.  (See Chess Life Online interview with Jen Shahade - good stuff and reveals, starkly, some facts from those traumatic childhood years, including a stint in a foster home, although it sounds more like an institution than a home -- not clear on that.)  So, he proved to himself that he still has the chess magic.  I don't know if JS ever played on ICC (Internet Chess Club), and if he did, whether he still does. If he does play these days, it's for pure love of the game, and nothing more.  Really, what does he have to prove to anyone, chess-wise, or in any other-wise?  Not a thing. 

Wikipedia info on Sarwer. 
Games of Jeff Sarwer. 
Poker Icons signs Jeff Sarwer.

Best wishes to you, Jeff Sarwer, and to your sister, Julia.  By the way, at those 1986 World Chess Championships, Julia, a chess talent in her own right, won the Girls' U-10 title.

Try a search under "Julia Sarwer chess" and you come up with - not much.  Most of the articles are about Jeff and Julia is mentioned in passing.  I did find this very disturbing series of posts from 1994, purporting to set forth contents from an article co-authored by Julia Sarwer and Gillian Sadinsky in The Kingston Whig Standard on May 9, 1992.  We know enough now of past abuses in such systems all around the world, including in my own hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so I won't deny that these posts may be truth.

As I gather from reading what Jeff has said in various interviews, grown-up Julia, like grown-up Jeff, is very happy.  She has a family of her own now and has a passion for writing. Good luck with that, Julia.  I've had a love affair with writing for years.  I joke that I came out of the womb with a book in one hand - and not told before - a pen and notebook in the other. With the advent of the internet, I can vent my passion for writing for anyone who is interested to read it, in this blog, and in articles written at Goddesschess, and during a year's stint as a columnist at on women's chess - but none of my half-finished novels started during my passionate 20's will ever see the light of day, and thank Goddess for that :)  Let's just say I'm no Jane Austen... 

Some commentary on Julia appeared in this article by Dr. Lynn T. Goldsmith on female child prodigies - date of publication not given but it may be 1987.  It is a fascinating paper, and contains a brief section on girl prodigies in chess.  Julia Sarwer was featured, along with the three Polgar sisters.  Hmmm, where have I heard that name before...

2010 Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championships

Round 3 Standings - Brownsville A narrowly defeated Texas Tech A:

Pan-American Team Champs 2010 — Team                         Wall Chart, Page 1
Name/ID                            Rate   Rnd 1     Rnd 2     Rnd 3     Rnd 4
1. U Texas Brownsville-A             |2612 |W14,4.0  |B16,4.0  | W5,2.5  | B3,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |         |
2. U of Maryland, Baltimore A        |2585 |B18,4.0  | W8,4.0  | B7,4.0  | W4,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |         |
3. U of Texas, Dallas A              |2552 |W12,4.0  | B9,4.0  | W6,3.0  | W1,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |         |
4. U Texas Brownsville-B             |2247 |W21,4.0  |B24,4.0  |W16,3.0  | B2,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   3.0   |         |
5. Texas Tech U-A                    |2487 |B19,4.0  |W10,4.0  | B1,1.5  |W11,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   2.0   |         |
6. U of Maryland, Baltimore B        |2294 |W20,4.0  |B13,4.0  | B3,1.0  |W10,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   2.0   |         |
7. U of Texas, Dallas B              |2284 |B15,4.0  |W11,3.0  | W2,0.0  | B9,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |   2.0   |         |
8. U of Toronto-A                    |2155 |W23,4.0  | B2,0.0  |W18,4.0  |B12,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
9. Washington U                      |2068 |B25,4.0  | W3,0.0  |B19,3.5  | W7,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
10. U of Texas, Dallas C              |2029 |W27,4.0  | B5,0.0  |W20,3.5  | B6,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
11. U of Chicago                      |1983 |W26,4.0  | B7,1.0  |W21,3.0  | B5,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
12. U of Central Florida A            |1902 | B3,0.0  |W22,2.5  |B17,3.0  | W8,0.0  |
|     |   0.0   |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |

Texas Tech-B is in 13th place with 1.5; Texas Tech-C is in 21st place with 1.0.

Rounds 4 and 5 take place today; the final, Round 6, takes place tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.  Come on Knight Raiders - you can do this! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2,600 Year Old Celtic Noblewoman's Tomb Uncovered in Germany

Celtic tomb hailed as great archaeological find
Published: 28 Dec 10 15:26 CET

In a discovery described as a “milestone of archaeology,” scientists have found a 2,600-year-old aristocratic burial site at the Celtic hill fort at Heuneburg in Baden-Württemberg.

The noblewoman's tomb, dating from early Celtic times, measures four metres by five metres, and is exceptionally well-preserved. It contained gold and amber jewellery that makes possible for the first time the precise dating of an early Celtic grave.

Using heavy cranes, the excavation team lifted the entire burial chamber out of the ground as a single block of earth and placed it on a special truck so that it could be carried off for further analysis.

Cranes used to lift burial chamber intact!  How cool is that?
 The dig leader and state archaeological chief Dirk Krausse labelled the find a “milestone of archaeology.”

Judging by the ornamentation in the chamber, the archaeologists believe the tomb was built for a woman from the nobility of the Heuneburg fort, though this couldn’t be said with certainty until further investigations could be made under laboratory conditions.

This will be done by the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in Stuttgart. Initial results are expected to be announced in June 2011.

The Heuneburg hill fort site is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in central Europe and possibly the oldest settlement north of the Alps.

It has been the focus of intense interest because it reflects socio-political developments in early Celtic Europe when, after about 700 BC, wealth, population and political power began to be concentrated in small areas.

It was the area of a large settlement from about 700 BC and became one of the key centres of power and trade in southern Germany.

DAPD/The Local/djw

Ancient Maps: 2000-1500 BCE near Hampi, Karnataka, India

From the
Prehistoric man drew maps
Archaeologists from Bangalore discover maps near Hampi; unlike modern maps that rely on technology, ancient man banked on his eyesight and memory
Niranjan Kaggere and Suchith Kidiyoor
Posted On Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 12:14:31 AM

Satellite technologies have made the task of locating places easily, thanks to GPS or global positioning systems.  However, a team of researchers from Bangalore have unearthed maps in Karnataka that date back to 1500-2000 BC.

A team from the Archaeological Survey of India has found the proto-historic man, who had inhabited the region around Tungabhadra river near Hampi, had drawn maps similar to those found on the internet.  The map was depicted on the roof of their cave dwellings. What was once thought to be a megalithic burial site with just paintings of animals and humans, is proof of the proto-historic man’s cartographic skills.

The discovery by deputy superintending archaeologist T M Keshava and his colleagues a few months ago in the caves of Chikramapura village on the Tungabhadra river’s left bank (Koppal district) has drawn the attention of many researchers across the country.  Keshava’s finding is believed to be the first-ever aerial map of a region drawn by a pre-historic man.

While the present-day maps rely heavily on satellite images and other optical instruments for precision, the proto-historic man had only his eyes and memory to bank on.

While paintings of animals such as cows, hunting scenes and human figurines are common across pre-historic settlements, only the Chikramapura village caves, also called Kadebagilu rock shelters, feature maps.

“We were stunned by the discovery,” said Keshava. “A previous study in 1984 at these caves by scholars like Dr R Sundara had concluded they were just megalithic burials, but we can now say that they are maps,” he said.

According to Keshava, the pre-historic man obtained a bird’s eye view of an area by climbing a hillock and standing at a vantage point. He would then observe his settlement — houses, pathways, waterbodies, etc. With these images in mind, he would paint them in his cave. “We compared them with the present maps and we were dumbstruck with the findings,” he said


Deciphering the exact meaning of the paintings was not easy for the experts. Reaching the site itself was an arduous task as it was surrounded by a hillock overlooking a valley and accessible only through a narrow passage.

Researchers found many similarities with the modern-day maps. The triangular marks used to represent hillocks on these maps are similar to the symbols used by surveyors.

Further, the narrow passage has been compared to the figure of a human being, while the ladder-like symbol indicates a pathway. It took Keshava and his team almost a year to confirm the findings.

The paintings have been depicted on granite and done with red laterite clay. The circular-shaped settlement is 35 metres in radius. “However, due to the exposure to elements, some parts of the paintings have got spoilt,” said an archaeologist.


The experts say credit for the discovery goes to some shepherds of Anegundi village. “We were camping at Hampi late in 2008 when some youngsters led by Veeresh and his friends told us about these paintings,” said Keshava.

“Later, along with colleagues G S Narasimhan, M V Visveswara, C S Sheshadri and others, we visited the spot and undertook a detailed study around the site for more than three months. Though many rock paintings were reported from Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. There were no sketches that could be identified as maps of proto-historic settlements.
This is the first such painting,” he said.

The paintings, however, are in danger of being lost forever, unless measures are taken quickly to safeguard them. Areas surrounding rock shelters have become quarrying centres and this could destroy the paintings.

Archaeologists believe the area could be turned into a tourist site as it is close to Hampi, a world heritage centre. It will also ensure the paintings are well preserved.

Southwest Chess Club Action!

Hola!  No chess club this Thursday, December 30.  But - 2011 starts out with a great event!  Play your way through it during the entire month of January --

Ice on Lake Michigan Swiss: January 6, 1320 & 27
4-Round Swiss in Two Sections (Open and U1600).
Game/100 minutes. USCF Rated. EF: $5. (One ½-Point Bye Available for any round (except round four) if requested at least 2-days prior to round). TD is Grochowski; ATD is Fogec
Tom Fogec/President/Southwest Chess Club/414-425-6742As always, you can find more information on current and future tournaments at Southwest Chess Club at its website

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII!!!!!

Shortly after Challenge XII in October - an announcement about Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIII was heralded, setting the date:  April 16, 2011!

HCCC XII was the very first tournament I ever played in and I swore it would be my last.  Dare I call it a traumatic experience? I had so much fun!  Maybe semi-traumatic is more apt - I didn't even score a draw, which was my goal. There's nothing like a woman of a certain age losing to such youngsters to deflate one's chessplaying ego, let me tell you, darlings.  They were all the merest infants (ahem)...

Challenge XIII (thirteen just happens to be a very important number of the Goddess) will be played at a familiar venue -- Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel, 4747 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Since that number - 13 - is sooooo important, Goddesschess is planning some special stuff. Well, we think it's special stuff.  Stay tuned as more details will be revealed the closer we get to XIII!

2010 Pan American Collegiate Chess Championships

The "final four" of this event will compete in Spring, 2011 for the President's Cup.  I'm blatantly biased and cheering for SPICE/Texas Tech's Knight Raiders.

Here are the standings after R2 - R3 is currently in progress:

Pan-American Team Champs 2010 — Team                         Wall Chart, Page 1
Name/ID                            Rate   Rnd 1     Rnd 2     Rnd 3
1. U Texas Brownsville-A             |2612 |W15,4.0  | B8,4.0  | W4,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
2. U of Maryland, Baltimore A        |2585 |B16,4.0  | W9,4.0  | B6,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
3. U of Texas, Dallas A              |2552 |W17,4.0  |B10,4.0  | W5,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
4. Texas Tech U-A                    |2487 |B18,4.0  |W12,4.0  | B1,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
5. U of Maryland, Baltimore B        |2294 |W19,4.0  |B13,4.0  | B3,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
6. U of Texas, Dallas B              |2284 |B20,4.0  |W14,3.0  | W2,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |
7. U Texas Brownsville-B             |2247 |W21,4.0  |B28,4.0  | W8,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   2.0   |         |

Individual results (for Texas Tech-A only):

Texas Tech U-A
15. Kuljasevic, Davori                |2572 | P 76  | P 49  | —   |
13218291               Board 1 |     |  1.0  |  2.0  |  2.0  |
16. Diamant, Andre                    |2486 | P 77  | P 50  | —   |
14255502               Board 2 |     |  1.0  |  2.0  |  2.0  |
17. Bykhovsky, Anatoly                |2497 | P 78  | P 51  | —   |
14508330               Board 3 |     |  1.0  |  2.0  |  2.0  |
18. Sipos, Istvan                     |2395 | P 79  | P 52  | —   |
14486674               Board 4 |     |  1.0  |  2.0  |  2.0  |
Texas Tech B is currently in 13th place:
13. Texas Tech U-B                    |1995 |B26,3.5  | W5,0.0  |B20,0.0  |
|     |   1.0   |   1.0   |         |
Texas Tech C is currently in 21st place:
21. Texas Tech U-C                    |1774 | B7,0.0  |W26,3.5  |B14,0.0  |
|     |   0.0   |   1.0   |         |
There are 28 teams competing. 
I had to laugh upon reading an article earlier today from a Texas newspaper that talked about how cold and snowy it was here and how that particular team was packing heavy coats, etc!  Right now we're actually enjoying what we Wisconsinites consider rather balmy temperatures and hardly any snow on the ground at all - just a few inches in Milwaukee (although, to be fair, up north did get a lot of snow a few weeks ago and once it snows there, it stays until spring).  Better yet, instead of the usual overcast gloom we often have to suffer through during the long winter months, the clouds have cleared away by mid-morning the past few days and it has been SUNNY outside.  For people who don't live here, you don't know what a blessing this is!  Yesterday it's true it only got up to 28 degrees F and there was a wind out of the southwest so it felt colder and raw outside.  Today it nearly got up to 32 degrees F and the wind was not as strong, though still out of the southwest.  That's important because that wind is bringing warmer temperatures and moisture from the Pacific.  We may have 40's and rain by Friday.  Perhaps so many teams playing here from Texas brought the better weather from the southwest with them :)

Texas Tech Knight Raiders Group

Good luck to the Knight Raiders!  I hope all the teams, their coaches and supporting personnel have a wonderful time in my hometown.  The Crowne Point is a fine hotel, I think the players will be very comfortable there, and I hope they are able to take an extra day or two to explore Milwaukee a little. We've got first class cultural entertainment, fine ethnic restaurants, and the bar scene on Water Street downtown is jumping at night :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Talking Heads

I'd seen this story last week and a few days ago, 'Sis sent me a heads-up (har!) on it too, so I thought, make a post... I can't find the exact story any longer, but here is a link to a story from Reuters of the same date (although shorter).

Embalmed head of France's King Henri IV found
Fri, Dec 17 12:30 PM EST
By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters) - A team of scientists say they have positively identified an embalmed head, presumed lost in the chaos of the French Revolution, as that of King Henri IV of France who was assassinated in 1610.

The head was apparently lost after revolutionaries desecrated the graves of French kings in the royal basilica of Saint-Denis near Paris in 1793.

Few remains of those bodies have ever been found and positively identified since.  But a team of experts using advanced scientific techniques say they have conclusively identified the head, passed down over the centuries by private collectors, as that of the monarch.

The multi-disciplinary team, led by forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier, announced the discovery in the British Medical Journal.  Charlier said features consistent with those of the king's face were found including "a dark mushroom-like lesion" near the right nostril, a healed facial stab wound and a pierced right earlobe.

The king is known to have sported an earring, along with others from the Valois court.  Head hairs and remnants of a mustache and beard, colored red and white, on the mummified head fit with the known characteristics of the king's hair at the time of his death. Many features matched those in portraits of the king, the team said.

Charlier said three "cutting wounds" were also visible, corresponding to the separation of the head from the body by a revolutionary in 1793.  Radiocarbon dating also gave a date of between 1450 and 1650, "nicely bracketing the year of his death," the report said.

In addition, a digital facial reconstruction of the skull was fully consistent with all known representations of the king and the plaster mold of his face made just after his death.

Henri IV was one of the most popular French kings, known as "the good King Henry" and as "the green gallant," because of his attractiveness to women.  In 1598, nine years after ascending the throne, he enacted the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed religious liberties to Protestants and brought to a close over 30 years of fighting between French Protestants and Catholics.  He was assassinated in Paris at the age of 57 by Catholic fanatic Francois Ravaillac.

Jacques Perot, director of the Societe Henri IV in France, said the head will be buried next year in the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

"It will be a beautiful ceremony," he told Reuters. [Yeah, I'll bet.]

(Additional reporting by Maria-Victoria Buffery)
(Editing by Steve Addison)

Okay, so to the talking heads thing.  You cannot imagine my shock many years ago when I first became acquainted with the concept that ancient (and not so ancient) cultures actually revered the skulls of dead people and kept them in their houses and/or places of worship, sometimes to "consult" as an oracle.  For whatever reason, belief was predominant that the skulls could be consulted and actually provided answers - some were reputed to speak, so I am given to believe.  Hmmm....  Alas, poor Yorrick, indeed!

Of course, we have currently "alive" talking heads -- at least, I presume they are alive, but you know - they may be zombies. I actually call them dildo-heads, because they are just hired pricks when it comes down to it - oops - no one under 17 years of age should read that comment. They are the "pundits" and "politicians" who appear without fail every Sunday on round after round of "informational" shows on network television, such as "Meet the Press."  I watched such shows for many years and finally gave them up when I connected my migraine headaches and "stomach" problems to said shows. When I stopped watching the shows, the medical problems disappeared. 

What I find absolutely intriguing is the possibility that the embalmed head of King Henri may have been kept all the years since his tomb was first desecrated as an "oracular" head.  Why the hell else would anyone in this so-called "Age of Enlightenment" keep such a thing - like, totally yechy!!!  Might the head of King Henri IV have been passed down from generation to generation, and then from collector to collector, out of some never-articulated and shudderingly half-suppressed belief in the supernatural oracular power of his mummified head?  Did the late actor Vicent Price, later-day King of Cheap Horror Motion Pictures, ever play King Henri IV of France?  Methinks they bear a resemblance to each other...

President Gerald Ford.
After having fallen on his head
one too many times, he began
to exhibit supernatural powers and
in time, became an original
American Talking Head.
 Sooooo, who was the first talking head in history?  No, not Chet Huntley/David Brinley, who for many years as a young child I thought were one-and-the-same person...  It may have been a Celtic god that we now know by the name of Bran, as in Bran Flakes.  Yeah, the dude was a "corn god," which is simply a generic term for a god of vegetation, generally the kind of vegetation that humans eat, like wheat, corn, rice, and other grains lesser and greater...  He was also a "Brain" - ahem - probably the brain was eaten upon Bran's death in a ritual in which the consumers hoped that the consumee would convey to them some worthwhile essence of wisdom, or something, other than nausea or spongiform encephalopathy.  In any event, Bran's skull was reputedly preserved for millennia after he died, perhaps forced to commit honorable suicide after his ratings dropped.  It was this brainless skull that was a higly-regarded Oracle.  I suspect that the actual practice dates back several thousand years before the Celts worked their way to "Brandom" after they settled in the British Isles.  A version of the Talking Head is yet alive today in the British Prime Minister's office - yes - author J.K. Rowling "outed" the practice in her popular series Harry Potter and... . It is said that there is a portrait of some ancient worthy-or-other with a pipeline to the wizards at Hogwart's School of Wizardry.  Yes, of course the Prime Minister's Office and all British Officialdom other than the Queen herself have denied - hmmm, what if it's not a joke...

And I don't want you to get sidetracked, but lecturer Mary Beard, who is always fascinating, wrote what I thought was a wonderfully cheeky review of Jerry Toner's POPULAR CULTURE IN ANCIENT ROME .  People who poo-pooh the reading of book reviews miss tons of valuable information.  For instance, it was through reading this review that I learned of the Oracles of Astrampsychus. Not a talking head, but a sort of "talking" book, like an adolescent's version of the I Ching.  Hey - I'm not laughing.  I still read my "fortune" everyday in the newspaper, as do millions of other people all around the world.  If they didn't, such "fortunes" would not exist...
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