Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII

Hola Darlings!

I cannot believe it, but Challenge XVIII will soon be here -- October 12, 2013 in Milwaukee, four games in one day.  Whew!

Goddesschess, which these days is reduced to moi (low in number but mighty in spirit), is once again sponsoring prizes for the chess femmes as well as a separate $50 prize for best game (anyone can enter), to spread a little love just in case a chess dude should have the best game.  Now who will judge the best game and all that, I leave that entirely to the folks at Southwest Chess Club.  I HEART Southwest Chess Club!

When Goddesschess was more than just me, way back at Challenge VIII, we put up our first modest amount of prize money.  So, Challenge XVIII is - get this - the 11th Challenge (not the 10th -- count it on your fingers if you do not believe me) to which we/I have provided prize money.  Whoop whoop! 

Link to flyer for more information!

Two or three or four Challenges ago (I forget, my memory isn't so good these days, damn it all!), I started a little bit extra for the chess femmes by creating gift bags for the top female finisher in each of the Open and Reserve Sections.  This year, the tradition continues! 

Let me tell you, it's no easy task scouring the internet and local stores for suitable chessly items.  But I love the challenge.  And I succeeded in finding some new chessly gifts for the femmes, which I sincerely hope they will enjoy! 

Will I be up to the challenge of playing in the Challenge?  Ahem, bad pun, yes.  Frankly, maybe not.  As some of you may know, my health has not been the best since last summer.  What I have doesn't go away, it is controlled at best, and right now it is not controlled despite the efforts of a cardiologist and an electrophysiologist, and if that isn't a mouthful I don't know what is.  Angry and frustrated am I, yes.  I will probably have to undergo another heart zapping procedure in an attempt to get my heart back into a normal rhythm.  The first one, done in November 2012 not a month after much loved Don McLean (my Mr. Don) died from a similar ailment, did not last more than six months.  Argggghhhh! 

I have, nonetheless, stuck to my pledge made this spring to train relentlessly and try to improve my OTB game.  Well, I'm not so sure I've improved any.  In fact, at times I think I have regressed and play worse now than I did years ago.  EEK!  But I persevere, darlings, I persevere.  Not much else to say, except


Get it? Not square, because square represents the 64 squares (plus one) of the chessboard, and that is tres cool.  We WANT to be square!  Well, technically I suppose ancient Byzantine Zatrikion, played on a round board, was a derivative form of chess.  But who the heck knows that who reads this blog -- probably no one, ha ha ha !  Okay, enough wine for tonight...

Does anybody really know what time it is:

British/German 19th Century Chess Propaganda Continues Unabated!

Read this article with several grains of salt on your tongue and try not to gag, it is so full of stinky garbage -- a  veritable charnel house of odiferous nonsense!

From Gulf News Online, Weekend Review

Chess: a chequered history

How chess explains the rise and decline of the empires and superpowers
  • By John Arquilla
  • Published: 21:30 September 5, 2013

  • Oh for GODDESS' SAKE!  I can't believe that after so many years of publishing the TRUTH about the real meaning of the term shah mat, writers who should know better are still publishing the bullshit that shah mat means "the King is dead."

    What sheer utter nonsense!  I wrote about this TEN FRIGGING YEARS AGO, people!  Here's a link to my article at Goddesschess (the website).  Read the truth of the matter, please! 

    The original term shah mat -- the oldest that we know of in a written text as far as I'm aware, from an ancient Persian epic, no less -- was in an ancient Persian language, NOT ARABIC!  Shah is a Persian word - NOT ARABIC!  The phrase was Persian, NOT ARABIC!  When the Arabs conquered Persia in the 7th century CE, they didn't know a Shah mat from a hole in the ground!  And they didn't know chess, either.  By coincidence, mat in Arabic means dead or death.  Hence, lots of 19th century Germans and English "historians" were eager to jump to the WRONG CONCLUSION that the phrase meant -- la da la da.  THEY - WERE - WRONG! 

    The Arabs got chess from the Persians.  The Arabs renamed some pieces because they had difficulties pronouncing some of the Persian namess for the pieces, and substituted names that made sense to them in their culture at the time.  But the Shah always remained the Shah. He was still the Shah when the last of a long line of actual Shahs was overthrown by the Islamic Nazis in Iran in 1979 and a couple hundred Americans were held captive by the Islamic Nazis for over a year.   Remember that, do you? 

    Consider this -- the king piece was NOT NAMED RAJA(H) when the Arabs conquered Persia and adopted the game of chess from them, which one would think would be the case if the game had originated in northwest India (Pakistan).  It was only much later, in about the 11th century CE, that abundant references begin to appear in Indian literature and references, including art work, to chess, and the Indians renamed the king to what they called their kings at the time - Raja(h).  Duh!  How difficult is that to follow, heh? 

    While many 19th century German and English chess "historians" claimed that the Persians got chess from the Indians, many prominent scholars and historians have (sometimes vehemently) contested that claim over the years and provided evidence to support their own hypotheses about the origins of chess.  China has been proposed by several researchers; Persia has been proposed by others.  Goddesschess' Don McLean (may he rest in peace), thought it likely the original inspirations and symbolism that ultimately culminated in the game of chess arose out of ancient Egypt.  Unfortunately, while Don was a wonderful speaker who could captivate an audience, he was not a very good writer, and when he unexpected passed away in October, 2012, what he did have in writing was locked away on his trusty old Mac notebook, in storage since his death. 

    Most of the counter-vailing hypotheses and evidence put forth have been ignored by supporters of the 19th century school of thought because, frankly, they cannot come up with convincing counter-arguments to shore up the hoary old hypotheses (accepted as Gospel Truth for so many years) proposed by H.J.R. Murray in his "A History of Chess."

    Today, some Indian scholars have their own reputations and vested interests to protect since they backed the German hypothesis of "chess out of India" seconded by Murray, and are not actually interested in uncovering the truth; they are as eager as the Germans to pooh-pooh anything counter to their own pet hypotheses and conclusions drawn therefrom.  Reputations and money are at stake.

    Who'd have thunk that such an esoteric subject that 99.9% of the world's population doesn't give a bloody damn about could generate such controversy and fire!  WHHOOOOSSSHHHH! 

    Don't fall for the standard line of crap that:

    (1) Chess is a war game (it was not initially, at all, but it did evolve into a SUBSTITUTE for war, based upon the ancient Persian tradition of the King's Champion or RUHKH  -- does that name ring any bells with you?  RUHKH was a war charioteer, and in today's western chess we call the piece the Rook or Castle.  And that herstory is mighty interesting how that switcheroo came about).

    (2) Chess was invented in India (it wasn't).

    (3) Shah mat (in English, checkmate) means "the King is dead" (it doesn't).

    Possibly of Interest to Collectors: Skyline Chess - London (Needs Funding to Bring to Market - Check It Out)

    Hmmm....  I don't know if this set will ever make it to production.  Some collector(s) might want to consider pursuing the prototype, which looks pretty dang cool!

    From Realty Today (of all places!)
    Posted by Rapti Gupta on Sep 06, 2013 03:40 AM EDT

    Checkmate: 'Skyline Chess' Casts London’s Architecture into Board Pieces

    Remember how a whole island in Japan was turned into the board game "Game of Life"? [Really? I never knew that!] Something similar is happening in London. Recently, a couple of London-based architects decided to combine their passion for the game of chess and architecture and converted the chessboard pieces to resemble the London skyline, literally.
    The 3D printed prototype of the game called "Skyline Chess" shows 'hand cast chessmen based on the iconic buildings of London'. The two architects, Chris Posser and Ian Flood, took to KickStarter to fund the project and commercialize the unique chess set.

    The ambitious designers don't want to stop at London. If the London one does well, they hope to create games where one can play city vs. city, for ex: New York vs. Rome, Dubai vs. Shanghai, etc.

    In the Skyline Chess set, each piece of the game will be represented by a famous building of London. While a common two story residence will signify the pawn, the 50 St Mary Axe or the Gherkin will be the bishop (as its shape suits the piece). The knight will be portrayed by the London Eye and the rook by the historic Big Ben. The London Shard will play the queen and the Canary Wharf building will signify the king.

    A lot of thought and detail went into developing the pieces. The chessmen were conceptualized over a few games of chess and 'were scaled to best represent the quality of the chosen building'.

    Their KickStarter page reads:

    Our vision is to take our prototype chess set and bring it to market. We are currently in discussions with manufacturers and we hope to be able to market the sets in a weighted acrylic as well as cast them in metal.

    However, this project will only be funded if at least $39,000 is pledged by September 26. You can back the creation to win customized stuff and also get a mention on their website.

    There is a video at the article link (title at beginning of post). 

    European Individual Women's Chess Championship 2013

    From The Week in Chess and the official website (check it out - lots of photographs of the action and interviews with the chess femmes, among other things). 

    169 players.  Here are the top finishers only (see The Week in Chess for full table):

    ch-EUR Ind w 2013 Belgrade SRB Tue 23rd Jul 2013 - Sat 3rd Aug 2013
    Leading Final Round 11 Standings:
    1Hoang Thanh TrangGMHUN24679.0242173.079.0
    2Melia SalomeIMGEO24288.0245272.577.0
    3Mkrtchian LilitIMARM24548.0240470.575.5
    4Cmilyte ViktorijaGMLTU24978.0239368.573.5
    5Kosteniuk AlexandraGMRUS24898.0239367.071.5
    6Khotenashvili BelaIMGEO25128.0238869.074.5
    7Socko MonikaGMPOL24358.0236065.069.5
    8Kashlinskaya AlinaWGMRUS23347.5243369.573.0
    9Arabidze MeriWGMGEO23207.5243273.577.5
    10Pogonina NatalijaWGMRUS24787.5240768.072.5
    11Kovanova BairaWGMRUS23717.5239870.074.5
    12Muzychuk AnnaGMSLO25947.5239369.073.5
    13Girya OlgaWGMRUS24377.5239169.575.0
    14Stefanova AntoanetaGMBUL24977.5236265.070.0
    15Ozturk KubraWGMTUR22937.5236065.069.0
    16Cramling PiaGMSWE25237.5235664.570.0
    17Javakhishvili LelaIMGEO24657.5232459.063.5
    18Atalik EkaterinaIMEUR24307.5231959.063.5
    19Milliet SophieIMFRA23967.5229860.565.0
    20Arakhamia-Grant KetevanGMSCO23857.5228059.063.5

    Good to see IM Salome Melia doing so well - and she looks fabulous too!  Melia was a WGM at the time we brought her from Europe to participate in the 2009 City of Montreal Chess Championships, and a city fell in love with her.  Best of all, she earned a second GM norm, whoop whoop! 

    It seems like yesterday when Hoang Thanh Trang was a shy teenager with a bad haircut and thick glasses.  She was always a good chessplayer, and has maintained her high level of play.  Lilit Mkrtchian from Armenia (the place where the eight-spoke chariot wheel was first invented in the 19th century BCE, which revolutionized warfare and is, perhaps, memorialized in ancient chess pieces as the 'ruhkh' [often depicted as a horse-drawn war chariot]) has been near the top ranks of female players since her breakthrough performance a few years back in one of FIDE's knock-out format Women's World Chess Chamionships where, I believe (working from my badly leaking memory) she made it all the way into the quarter-finals.  Here's a pic from the official website of the top three finishers:

    Salome Melia left, Hoang Thanh Trang center, Lilit Mkrtchian right.
    Congratulations to the winners and also to GM Alexandra Kosteniuk who tied with 6 players with 8.0/11 (including Melia and Mrktchian). 

    2013 Spanish Women's Chess Championship

    Taking place before the "main" event, the chess femmes faced off in Linares, Spain August 19th through August 25, 2013.  Here is the final ranking table, courtesy of The Week in Chess:

    ch-ESP w 2013 Linares ESP Mon 19th Aug 2013 - Sun 25th Aug 2013
    Leading Final Round 9 Standings:
    11Alexandrova OlgaESP24316.538.048.044.5
    28Calzetta Ruiz MonicaESP22216.536.543.543.0
    33Matnadze AnaESP23906.039.050.545.5
    46Hernandez Estevez YudaniaESP22306.037.047.543.5
    52Vega Gutierrez SabrinaESP24026.036.547.543.0
    64Nicolas Zapata IreneESP22535.537.046.543.5
    75Aranaz Murillo AmaliaESP22465.536.046.542.5
    811Vega Gutierrez BelindaESP21485.038.048.544.5
    915Perera Borrego MarielaESP20625.035.546.042.0
    107Garcia Vicente NievesESP22275.035.045.541.0
    119Guadamuro Torrente AnabelESP21955.033.543.039.5
    1210Collado Barbas LauraESP21515.
    1312Cerrato Torrijos MariaESP21485.032.541.538.5
    1417Redondo Arguelles GracielaESP20085.031.538.037.5
    1518Gonzalez Berruga Ana IsabelESP20044.533.542.039.5
    1616Ruiz Font ElisabetESP20594.532.542.039.0
    1713Fidalgo Fernandez LuciaESP21374.532.541.539.0
    1814Alfonso Nogue BeatrizESP20854.531.039.537.0
    1922Beltran Ortiz Edda GeorginaESP19064.530.539.537.0
    2021Iza Abete AmaiaESP19914.530.538.035.5
    2120Riera Morilla ElizabethESP19914.529.538.535.5
    2219Ordonez Torres Maria Del CarmESP19944.527.533.533.0
    2325Buiza Prieto EihartzeESP17234.027.032.532.0
    2423Romero Diez SandraESP18224.
    2527Erades Berenguer AnaESP15513.526.531.531.0
    2626Martin Dinares SoniaESP17083.526.034.031.5
    2724Barrio Ugidos AinhoaESP17523.025.030.530.0
    2828Gonzalez Benavides PilarESP15373.
    2929Acebal Muniz Maria ConcepcionESP12921.
    29 players
    Interestingly, IM Ana Matnadze, with the third highest ELO in this group, finished in third place overall with 6.0/9, while relatively speaking she performed much better in the Spanish Championship with 96 players, finishing in 15th place overall, also with 6.0/9.  Does that mean anything?  Does that mean, for instance, that the chess femmes are perhaps better players overall than their ratings would suggest, due to the effect of playing in women's ratings ghetto events?  Does it mean that some of the male players are not as good as their ELOs would indicate?  Inquiring minds want to know...

    78th Spanish Chess Championship 2013

    Hola darlings!  I'm still among the living, just been busy with other things.  Today too, but I'm stealing time today to post because I haven't been here since August 27th, eek!  Are there any readers left out there, echo echo echo...

    The 78th Spanish Chess Championship was held in the famous chess city, Linares, from August 29th through September 26, 2013.  Coming in clear first with 7.5/9 was GM Ivan Salgado Lopez (ESP 2614).

    The highest placing female player (96 players) was IM Ana Matnadze (ESP 2390) with 6.0, tying with several other players also at 6.0/9:

    86Perez Candelario ManuelGMESP2569652350
    910Castellanos Rodriguez RenierIMESP2510651.5360
    109Ibarra Jerez Jose CarlosGMESP2538651.535.50
    1117Teran Alvarez IsmaelIMESP2422651.532.50
    1229Andres Gonzalez IvanFMESP2311648300
    1326Torres Ventosa Pedro EugenioFMESP2317647.5300
    1420Astasio Lopez DavidFMESP2392647320
    1521Matnadze AnaIMESP2390647300
    167Alonso Rosell AlvarGMESP2550646.531.50
    1716Recuero Guerra DavidIMESP2454646.5290
    1815Gonzalez De La Torre SantiagoIMESP2472645.5290
    1942Gavilan Diaz MarioFMESP2225644270

    Other chess femmes who participated:

    2440Hernandez Estevez YudaniaWIMESP22305.548290
    2718Vega Gutierrez SabrinaIMESP2402549290
    3133Nicolas Zapata IreneWIMESP2253546.5280
    3736Aranaz Murillo AmaliaWIMESP2246543.5250
    4558Perera Borrego MarielaESP20624.542.521.50
    5653Vega Gutierrez BelindaWIMESP2148443210
    7493Redondo Benavente AnaESP15493.533.515.50
    7587Represa Perez MireyaESP17053.53213.50

    Possible Evidence of Ancient Bear Cult in Siberia

    From The International Business Times

    2,000-Year-Old Bear Ring Found In Siberia, Used In Ancient ‘Bear Cult’
    on August 27 2013 8:59 PM
    A Russian student has made a rare discovery in Siberia.

    Alexander Korchagin, a student at Novosibirsk State University, discovered a 2,000-year-old bronze ring that may have belonged to an ancient tribe that saw polar bears as sacred animals, the Siberian Times reports.

    “The ring is tiny in diameter so even a young girl, let alone a woman, cannot wear it. We concluded that it was used in a ritual connected with a bear cult and was put on the bear claw,” said archaeologist Andrey Gusev, from the Scientific Research Centre of the Arctic in Salekhard.


    The ring was found during an excavation at Ust-Polui, an ancient sanctuary in Salekhard that sits on a bank of the Polui River, not far from the confluence with the Ob River. Since 1932, excavations have taken place at the site, which is believed to have functioned as a spiritual center since the first century B.C.

    “Ust-Polui is rich in such objects. More than this, many of them have genuine artistic value and help us understand something about the beliefs of these ancient inhabitants. This is the case with this ring showing the head and paws of a bear, which we have found this year,” Gusev said.

    While the Khanty tribes left no written evidence for their existence, the ring’s discovery may help fill in the gaps on how the ancient tribe lived.

    “After killing the bear they had a bear festival to honor the animal's memory,” Gusev said. “The head and front paws of the bear was adorned with a handkerchief, rings, and left lying a few days in the house. This combination of images on the ring and the fact that it was found in the sanctuary of Ust-Polui led us to believe that there was also practiced a bear cult.”

    This isn’t the first relic uncovered at the site. This past year archaeologists unearthed a bird with a mask on its chest and a pendant showing a furry animal biting a bird -- both made from bronze.
    Natalia Fedorova, a senior fellow from the Center for the Study of the Arctic, says the remote location functioned as an “intertribal sacred place” in the first century BC.

    "It was located on the crossroads of the natural zones and the cultural traditions,” Fedorova said.  While meeting there during the sacred ceremonies the people from various territories of the Ob region exchanged knowledge, technology and cultural achievements, in these meetings they created new cycles of magic legends and epic tales, the motifs of which inspired the ancient artists.”
    Yearly excavations have taken place at the site since 2006 and are scheduled to continue until 2015.

    More photos and a biography of the article's author at the original link. 

    Neolithic "Venus" Figurine Discovered in Racibórz, Silesia

    From Science and Scholarship in Poland

    Archaeologists discovered a unique woman figurine in Silesia

    Unique on the Polish scale clay figurine from the Neolithic period (fourth millennium BC) depicting a stylised woman figure has been found during the excavations in Racibórz.

    "This find is a sensation in the archaeological world, because so far only a few and small fragments of human figurines from this period have been discovered" - told PAP Jacek Pierzak from the Silesian Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments.

    Photo by Piotr Szejnoga
    The object was discovered during the survey of the planned flood reservoir Dolna Odra, conducted by the Archaeological Rescue Research Team at the Centre for Prehistoric and Medieval Studies of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAS in Poznań.

    The figurine was dubbed "Venus of Racibórz" because it is similar to other finds of this type known from Paleolithic sites. It has clearly shown legs, wide hips, breasts, and three nodules at the top, the central of which is a schematic representation of the head, while the outer two are interpreted as hands raised in a gesture of oration. Figurine from Racibórz, however, is made of different material, than Venus - it is made of clay, while Venus was sculpted in stone. Discoverer of the "Venus of Racibórz" is Marek Anioła, archaeologist who conducts work at the site.

    "Female figurines are associated with the worship of fertility and the mother goddess, they are also considered by some scientists to be evidence of the importance of women in the Neolithic period" - said the coordinator of the archaeological work Dr. Przemysław Bobrowski.

    It's not only interesting archaeological discovery made during the work in the Racibórz area. The study includes 15 archaeological sites from different periods. They are part of a larger project conducted by the Consortium of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, the University of Wroclaw and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, at the request of the Regional Water Management Authority in Gliwice.

    PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland
    szz/ tot/ mrt/
    tr. RL

    Note the description above.  I don't know about you, dear readers, but what I see is a headdress, not a symbolic representation of a woman with a pin-sized head and raised hands.  Nope - this figurine's arms/hands are held behind her back (Is she bound???)  The image shows the front (on the left) and back (on the right) sides of the figurine.  I cannot see any other explanation for what look like arms to me held behind one's back than that -- they are arms.  So, if this lady's arms are behind her back, they cannot simultaneously be held above her head in a gesture of adoration, exultation or greeting, unless she had two sets of arms.  But why would one set of arms be so clearly depicted, and the arms held above her head not be depicted at all?

    Doesn't make sense to me.  I'm going with the easiest explanation for what appear to be arms held behind her back is probably the correct one.  That makes the headdress idea extremely intriguing, doesn't it, because to my eyes, that headdress looks more or less like a crown -- or perhaps it's a 4th millenium BCE rendition of a spikey punk style hairdo, held in place with gel made from the hoofs of aurochs...

    New Timeline for Establishment of Dynasties "Zero" and I in Ancient Egypt

    Tres interesting.  I'm eager to see what other conventional timelines are erased and redrawn as modern techniques continue to be applied to re-analyze old discoveries and new ones, alike.

    From BBC News Online

    A team from the UK found that the transformation from a land of disparate farmers into a state ruled by a king was more rapid than previously thought.

    Using radiocarbon dating and computer models, they believe the civilisation's first ruler - King Aha - came to power in about 3100BC.  The research is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

    Lead researcher Dr Michael Dee, from the Research Laboratory for Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: "The formation of Egypt was unique in the ancient world. It was a territorial state; a state from which the moment it formed had established borders over a territory in much the same way we think of nations today.

    "Trying to understand what happened in human history to lead people to establish this sort of polity we felt was a gap in understanding that needed to be filled."
    First dynasty

    Until now, the chronology of the earliest days of Egypt has been based on rough estimates.

    With no written records from this very early period, a timeline has been based on the evolving styles of ceramics unearthed from human burial sites.

    Now though, scientists have used radiocarbon dating of excavated hair, bones and plants, with established archaeological evidence and computer models to pinpoint when the ancient state came into existence.

    Previous records suggested the pre-Dynastic period, a time when early groups began to settle along the Nile and farm the land, began in 4000BC. But the new analysis revealed this process started later, between 3700 or 3600BC.

    The team found that just a few hundred years later, by about 3100BC, society had transformed to one ruled by a king.

    Dr Dee told the BBC World Service programme Science in Action: "The time period is shorter than was previously thought - about 300 or 400 years shorter. Egypt was a state that emerged quickly - over that time one has immense social change.

    "This is interesting when one compares it with other places. In Mesopotamia, for example, you have agriculture for several thousand years before you have anything like a state."

    Archaeologists believe Egypt's first king, Aha, came to power after another prominent leader, Narmer, unified the land.
    The team was also able to date the reigns of the next seven kings and queens - Djer, Djet, Queen Merneith, Den, Anedjib, Semerkhet and Qa'a - who with Aha formed Egypt's first dynasty.

    The model suggests that King Djer may have ruled for more than 50 years. This is such a long period, it raises the possibility that there may have been other kings or queens of Egypt that we do not know about or that the state may have collapsed and reformed.

    Commenting on the research, Prof Joann Fletcher from the department of archaeology at the University of York, said: "This is highly significant work, which pulls the beginnings of Egypt's dynastic history into much sharper focus - it is tremendously valuable to have such a precise timeline for Egypt's first rulers.

    "The study also has ramifications for the earlier pre-Dynastic period, allowing us to better understand these key periods of transition."
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