Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chess Femme News!

(1) From The Huffington Post:

Phiona Mutesi, 17-Year-Old Ugandan Chess Player, Challenged By Bill Gates (VIDEO)
The Huffington Post By Posted: | Updated: 03/20/2013 4:14 pm EDTMy Note: Comments to this article are interesting. A range of, er, diverse opinions, to say the least, har! Seriously, I find myself constantly flip-flopping on the issue of all-female events, which consistently have been relegated to "steerage class"(or worse) status in the chess world.  Sigh.   (2) From Chess and Science Festival for girls

21.3.2013 - Many parents still believe that science, business and mathematics are for men and their daughters should not compete in these areas. It’s sad, but it is true – girls are encouraged to go into music, art, teaching… and stay away from the areas currently dominated by men. Three-time US Women's Champion WGM Anjelina Belakovskaia wants to do something about this – with a Kickstarter project. (Will be held in Tucson, Arizona -- coincindence that Tucson is the home of 9 Queens???) 

My Note:  Monetary contributions are needed for this event planned for April 13, 2013.  While the initial goal of $1,000 has been reached, more contributions mean more funds for monetary prizes for players.  If you can help, no matter how small your contribution, please consider making a donation.  (3) Elizabeth Vicary Spiegel, the Quiet Chess HeroineOkay, that's my own made-up title for this article from English online newspaper, The Telegraph.  She is one of my chess heroines.  She is an ongoing miracle producer in a world that is far short of them, and she is doing it daily, teaching "her kids" how to play chess for all the right reasons.  Elizabeth Vicary (now Spiegel) won the very first Goddesschess prize offered at a U.S. Women's Chess Championship, in 2007.  I've followed her chess/teaching career ever since.  Here's the actual title and byline for the article:Mini masters: the hard-up Brooklyn school producing chess championsBy
7:00AM GMT 22 Mar 2013

Not sure if this means the women will be playing the country's version of "traditional chess" or - something else.  But interesting, nonetheless:

(4) Myanmar to hold traditional chess event in Yangon
2013-03-21 14:34:28

YANGON, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar will hold traditional chess women's singles tournament at Aung San Stadium this month, according to sports circle Thursday.

Jointly organized by Sports and Physical Education Department under the Ministry of Sports and Myanmar Chess Federation, the chess event is scheduled to take place from March 24 to 29.  Myanmar traditional chess event will be included in the 27th SEA Games to be hosted in Myanmar in 2013.

(5) Interesting turn of events on the March 18, 2013 broadcast of The Amazing Race.  In Vietnam, the detour challenge was -- play a game of Chinese chess on a giant board with live people representing the pieces, or go to a local open-air market and buy the exact ingredients for a traditional chicken dish.  Wonder how many will choose to play the chess game?  LOL! 

This week's Detour then asked teams to "Make a Move" (playing Chinese chess on a giant board with human players) or "Make a Meal" (grab two empty baskets and another two filled with live chickens, then head to a market and get ingredients for the traditional Vietnamese dish pho, picking up exact weights for the ingredients on the shopping list).

I did not watch this episode (I watch other programs on Sunday night) but judging by the comments following this article, there was a LOT of controversy about some events that occurred in the episode, including - according to the comments - some (or all?) of the Amazing Race contestants "praising"' the Communist Vietnamese government???  Well, that's sucky, for sure.  I wonder - how many of those irate posters will actually follow through and never watch CBS again?  Easier than peeing to say you're going to do this or that; it is another thing entirely to follow through and actually do the actions your big mouth said you were going to do...

(6) Dylan McClain presents an interesting perspective on the recently concluded FIDE Women's World Team Chess Championship, and had high praise for the performance of IM Irina Krush, current U.S. Women's Chess Champion:

Ukraine Wins Women’s Event Skipped by Many Big Names
By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN Published: March 16, 2013  

The Rice Goddess

Hola darlings!

Okay, yes, I know, I've been neglecting you all, again.  I've been busy with - dare I say it? - decorating!  Yes, the Celadon Curse has once again descended in full force upon Maison Newton.  Not, mind you, that I actually have a damn thing in this house that is true celadon.  Nope - shades of teal, turquoise, robin's egg blue, marine blue, seafoam green, sky blue and aqua grace the back of the house now as accents (and a beautiful wool area rug that, alas, is not the right color, but it's not going back because I didn't open it up out of it's packaging until a few weeks ago, a year since I bought it at, but not a speck of true celadon do I see.  Arggggh!

Well, that's another story and not one for here.  Suffice to say, though, that in one of those synchronicitous events that have blessed (?) my life for years (particularly since the advent of Goddesschess), earlier today while hunting down celadon inspiration I came across a wonderful blog filled with interesting things.  While there, I continued to read a little and came across this most fascinating information about the rice goddess, and a rice god, too.  A rice god? 

Rice Gods and Rice Goddesses

Photo from India Pied-a-Terre, link above to post.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

3300 Year Old Sundial Discovered in Egypt

Press Trust of India | London March 15, 2013 Last Updated at 16:05 IST

One of world's oldest sun dials discovered in Egypt

Researchers have unearthed one of the world's oldest Egyptian sun dials - possibly dating back to 13th century BC - used by the people to tell time with the position of the Sun.

The discovery was made during archaeological excavations in the Kings' Valley in Upper Egypt by a team of researchers from the University of Basel.

The team led by Professor Susanne Bickel made the significant discovery while clearing the entrance to one of the tombs.

During this year's excavations the researchers found a flattened piece of limestone (so-called Ostracon) on which a semicircle in black colour had been drawn. The semicircle is divided into twelve sections of about 15 degrees each.

A dent in the middle of the approximately 16 centimetre long horizontal baseline served to insert a wooden or metal bolt that would cast a shadow to show the hours of the day. Small dots in the middle of each section were used for even more detailed time measuring.

The sun dial was found in an area of stone huts that were used in the 13th century BC to house the men working at the construction of the graves. The sun dial was possibly used to measure their work hours.

However, the division of the sun path into hours also played a crucial role in the so-called netherworld guides that were drawn onto the walls of the royal tombs.

These guides are illustrated texts that chronologically describe the nightly progression of the sun-god through the underworld. Thus, the sun dial could also have served to further visualise this phenomenon, researchers said.

During this year's excavation in cooperation with the Egyptian authorities and with the help of students of the University of Basel over 500 mostly fragmentary objects that had been recovered in former seasons were documented and prepared for further scientific examination.

This also includes all the material of the lower strata of tomb KV 64 found in 2012. Inside the roughly 3500 year old tomb Basel researchers had discovered a sarcophagus that was holding the mummy of a woman named Nehemes-Bastet.

Pre-Clovis Remains Date to Circa 22,000 Years Ago

From Science News

Disputed finds put humans in South America 22,000 years ago
Brazilian site may have been home to people before the Clovis hunters
By Bruce Bower
Stone tools unearthed at a Brazilian rock-shelter may date to as early as 22,000 years ago. Their discovery has rekindled debate about whether ancient people reached the Americas long before the famed Clovis hunters spread through parts of North America around 13,000 years ago.

These relics of ancient South Americans add to evidence from nearby sites challenging the longstanding view of Clovis people as the first Americans (SN: 8/11/12, p. 15), a team led by geochronologist Christelle Lahaye of the University of Bordeaux 3 and archaeologist Eric Boëda of the University of Paris X reports March 4 in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

“We have new, strong evidence that the Clovis-first model is out of date,” Lahaye says.

Among other South American locations proposed as human settlements well before North America’s Clovis culture, the most controversial is Brazil’s Pedra Furada rock-shelter. There, archaeologists unearthed burned wood and sharp-edged stones and dated them to more than 50,000 years ago. Pedra Furada’s excavators regard the finds as evidence of ancient human hearths and stone tools. Critics, and especially many Clovis investigators, say the Brazilian discoveries could have resulted from natural fires and rock slides.

The new discovery came at Toca da Tira Peia rock-shelter, which is in the same national park as Pedra Furada. It also has drawn skeptics. The site’s location at the base of a steep cliff raises the possibility that crude, sharp-edged stones resulted from falling rocks, not human handiwork, says archaeologist Gary Haynes of the University of Nevada, Reno. Another possibility is that capuchins or other monkeys produced the tools, says archaeologist Stuart Fiedel of Louis Berger Group, an environmental consulting firm in Richmond, Va.
The age of Toca da Tira Peia artifacts has also drawn debate. Dating the artifacts hinges on calculations of how long ago objects were buried by soil. Various environmental conditions, including fluctuations in soil moisture, could have distorted these age estimates, Haynes says.

But archaeologist Tom Dillehay of Vanderbilt University in Nashville has seen some of the Toca da Tira Peia finds and regards them as human-made implements. Similar tools have been unearthed at sites in Chile and Peru, Dillehay says. His team previously estimated that people settled Chile’s Monte Verde site by 14,000 years ago, and possibly as long as 33,000 years ago.

An absence of burned wood or other finds suitable for radiocarbon dating at Toca da Tira Peia is a problem, because that’s the standard method for estimating the age of sites up to around 40,000 years ago, Dillehay says. But if people reached South America by 20,000 years ago, “this is the type of archaeological record we might expect: ephemeral and lightly scattered material in local shelters.”

Lahaye and Boëda’s team excavated Toca da Tira Peia from 2008 to 2011. Digging turned up 113 stone artifacts consisting of tools and tool debris in five soil layers. Using a technique that measures natural radiation damage in excavated quartz grains, the scientists estimated that the last exposure of soil to sunlight ranged from about 4,000 years ago in the top layer to 22,000 years ago in the third layer.

Lahaye says that 15 human-altered stones from the bottom two soil layers must be older than 22,000 years. The researchers plan to calculate when those artifacts were buried.
C. Lahaye et al. Human occupation in South America by 20,000 BC: The Toca da Tira Peia site, Piaui, Brazil. Journal of Archaeological Science. Doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.02.019. [Go to]

Learn More About Dunhuang

The China Institute is presenting a fabulous series of programs over the next - year!  Yes, you read it right :)  A series of programs on the fabulous city of Dunhuang, which was a gateway city at the eastern edge of the Taklamakan Desert into the Chinese Empire, one of the important points upon the ancient Silk Road (northern route).  Website


Dunhuang: Buddhist Art at the Gateway of the Silk Road

April 19 – July 21, 2013
This exhibition will feature work found in the caves of Dunhuang, including sutras (Buddhist scriptures on paper scrolls), high-relief clay figures, wooden sculpture, silk banners, and molded bricks from the golden eras of the Northern dynasties (420-589) and Tang dynasty (618-907). To re-create the magnificent cave settings, a replica cave from the 8th century that contains the beautiful Bodhisattva of the Mogao Caves and a central pillar from the 6th century will also be on view.
You will have the opportunity to explore each of the Dunhuang exhibitions from your own computer or mobile device with our virtual tours. (The virtual tours will become available after the exhibitions open.)
Highlighting paintings and sculptures by a dozen modern and contemporary artists, this exhibition will explore Dunhuang’s profound influence on generations of artists beginning with master painter Zhang Daqian. Other artists to be featured in the exhibition include contemporary art luminaries such as Zhang Hongtu, Liu Jude, Liu Dan and Yu Hong.
You will have the opportunity to explore each of the Dunhuang exhibitions from your own computer or mobile device with our virtual tours. (The virtual tours will become available after the exhibitions open.)
A fully illustrated catalogue will accompany each exhibition. They are available for sale here.


Discover China Through Art Group Tours
Discover China Through Art (DCTA) offers art education through an innovative three-part program for all age and interest groups that complements the current exhibition. The program generally features a docent-led gallery tour, a video presentation, and a hands-on art workshop. Participants will be given an introduction to the culture of Dunhuang’s Buddhist Art by taking an in-depth look at the artworks, guided by a knowledgeable docent. The program concludes with an interactive painting workshop of a mural scene that has been chosen from the exhibition.

There's much more!  Lectures!  Classes and courses!  Gallery tours!  And you can take full advantage for free of online resources :)  Please check things out. 
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