Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blockbuster Story: Partial Remains of Queen Ketevan of Kakheti Possibly Identified

Holy Mother Hathor!  Well, I guess I won't just automatically dismiss as "myths" stories about relics of martyrs and saints being stashed away at this church or that monastary anymore... Too bad it took so long for this news to be published, seeing as the remains were recovered in 2004!  I first wrote about this discovery way back in April, 2009! 

Queen Ketevan. From the article, source Wikipedia Commons.  Tell me, do you think Cher looks like her?

From Past Horizons

Search for the relics of martyr Queen Ketevan

Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Increased in Humans with This Neanderthal Gene Variant

From BBC News Online

Diabetes risk gene 'from Neanderthals'

Why the Indus Civilization Collapsed: A Gruesome Story

Synopsis from Archaeology Magazine Online:

Indus Civilization Collapsed Amid Illness and Injury
BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA—Archaeologists are in agreement that the Indus Civilization, which flourished in present-day Pakistan and northwest India from the 4th to the 2nd millennium B.C., met its demise due to a change in climate. Now Appalachian State University anthropologist Gwen Robbins Schug adds to that narrative, showing that a weakened monsoon season led to both disease and social instability in the region. An inspection of 160 burials found at the site of Harappa, which collapsed beginning in 1900 B.C., turned up evidence of trauma-related bone growth, sinus infections, and telltale signs of tuberculosis and leprosy, as well as indications of systematic violence between the city's citizens. Women and children, in particular, who were struck by scarring diseases were most likely to have been the victims of assaults. The destabilization caused by the environmental changes appears to have led to violent displays of power directed at the lower classes.
The main article at Past Horizons:

Disease and trauma within collapsing Indus Civilisation

Of Course They Could Talk!

Hola darlings!  Happy New Year to you all.  While the weather here is absolutely dreadful, way below normal cold and tonight windchills dropping as low as minus 30 F, we only got about 8 inches of new snow on top of the more than a foot that fell during December.  UGH!  To the south of us in the suburbs of Chicago, some places got 16 inches!  Now the snow is headed out east and it's going to be one big bad mess for you folks out there.  I hope everyone will come through safely. 

Okay, enough moaning and groaning about the weather.  Can't do a damn thing about it except move, and that won't happen now with my health issues, as I want to be close to family just in case.  Thank Goddess for polar fleece, hot chocolate, down-filled throws and blankets, and my fireplace! 

Check out this article from BBC News Online.  I didn't see the reference in the BBC article, but a synopsis at Archaeology Magazine Online reported that the Neanderthal remains that yielded the hyoid bone are 60,000 years old. 
20 December 2013 Last updated at 11:06 ET

Neanderthals could speak like modern humans, study suggests

An analysis of a Neanderthal's fossilised hyoid bone - a horseshoe-shaped structure in the neck - suggests the species had the ability to speak.

This has been suspected since the 1989 discovery of a Neanderthal hyoid that looks just like a modern human's.

But now computer modelling of how it works has shown this bone was also used in a very similar way.

Writing in journal Plos One, scientists say its study is "highly suggestive" of complex speech in Neanderthals.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve 2013!

Hola darlings!

I hope you are all enjoying this final day of 2013 in your own particular way!  Here in Milwaukee it is bitterly cold and snowing (it started about 3:30 p.m. or so, as I was leaving the supermarket with New Year's Eve supplies), the snow forecast to fall continually through Thursday noon.  Not that I would be out and about for New Year's -- haven't done that in YEARS!  I celebrate at home in a quiet fashion and while I try to stay up until midnight, I don't often make it, LOL!

This time of year is filled with nostalgia, as well as hope as we look toward the unknown future.  We (and now just me) of Goddesschess, have always tried to do our best to make things better in whatever ways we could reach out and touch people.  Now not so much writing and researching and posting articles (and writing our own) and publishing information not then readily available in the early days of the internet.  But time changes things, and we change, too.  Today, it's mostly about funding prizes and trying to encourage people to take up the game of chess, especially girls and women but, really, anyone of any age!  Chess has so much to offer. 

Our credo, and my personal credo, is to live the best life I can, and that means trying to make the lives of others better in whatever ways I can.  For me, these days, it's all about chess, darlings! 

A little trip down 2013's memory lane:

2013 opened with Goddesschess sponsorship at the Grand Pacific Open, a regional tournament hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia that draws from a wide area and, I like to think thanks in part to Goddesschess sponsorship, has hosted some very fine female players the past few years!  At the 2013 tournament (traditionally held over Easter weekend) WGM Kateryna Rohanyan, who received sponsorship funds, finished in 4th place overall, just missing out on a share of the tournament prize money, but she did take top Goddesschess honors -- $80.  Hardly the kind of prize worthy of a player who has participated in several U.S. Women's Chess Championships, but I as so happy she played.  Four other female chessplayers also took home Goddesschess cash prizes

On April 13, 2013, the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVII took place.  I had intended to play in Challenge XVII after withdrawing from Challenge XVI in October, 2012, which took just a few days after the death of Don McLean, my dear Mr. Don.  But I just wasn't feeling up to part in April while continually wrestling with health issues.  I hated missing Challenge XVII -- let me tell you!  Goddesschess paid out $540 in prize money to the chess femmes, including prize money to my chess buddy Ellen Wanek, pictured here with Tom Fogec (left) and Robin Grochowski (right):

On the heels of Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVII was the U.S. Women's Chess Championship in May, 2013, hosted at the beautiful Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.  Goddesschess sponsored a "Fighting Spirit" (I call it the "Fighting Chess") award of $500.  Twelfth Women's World Chess Championship GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, once again agreed to serve as judge and selector of the Goddesschess prize winner. 

Ultimately, she chose Anna Zatonskih as the winner of the Goddesschess Fighting Spirit Award.

June 15 - 16, 2013, Goddesschess provided prize money for the Second (2013) Milwaukee Summer Challenge, hosted by my adopted chess club (Southwest Chess Club).  Honestly, I don't have a clue who ultimately won the best game prize money for the sections, but I know for sure the folks at Southwest Chess Club would have worked hard to ensure that all was fairly done and that the prize money went to the best game in each section, regardless of the winner's actual rating. 

On October 12, 2013, after a summer of on-line training games with chess buddies Shira Evans Sanford and Ellen Wanek, stern but fun task-masters, I played in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII.  Looking back, I can't believe I actually did it. LOL!  Maybe not such a laughing matter, because October 12th is the anniversary of Mr. Don's death.  But if he'd been here, he would have egged me on to go play (and I'm sure he was thinking maybe I'd make a fool of myself, because we were that competitive when it came to our chess and he HATED it when I won the occasional game against him), and I would have tweaked him as a chicken-heart because although I challenged him to come and play, or at least stand around and take excellent photos of the players at one of the Hales Corners Chess Challenges many times since Goddesschess had begun sponsorship (back in Challenge VIII), he always backed down.  Ha!  See, I'm still tweaking him up in Heaven. 

So, it was with bittersweet memories that I met up with Ellen Wanek at Challenge XVIII at the playing venue.  Ellen surprised me with a gift of a lovely chess tote bag! 

I immediately put that tote bag to use, and I put my chess training to good use too, drawing one game against a player rated almost 2x higher than I (and he was cute, too), and giving what I felt were good efforts in two other games.  The last game, I totally crashed and burned.  It was my fault, as my head was hurting (felt like my brain was going to explode) and I was exhausted.  I should have given my opponent much more of a challenge.  I'm embarrassed by what happened!  I should have told the TDs that I was withdrawing after R3.  Oh well.  That's the way it goes, sometimes. 

I will not be stupid and say that I do not mind losing games, because I do - terribly!  But if I lose a game after what I consider a damn good effort on my part, well, that's a different story.  At least I can take pride in my effort, if not the result.  At present, I just do not have the stamina I need to put forth what I consider a decent effort to play four intense 60 minutes on each side chess games in a single day.

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII proved to be very lucrative for the chess femmes in terms of Goddesschess prize money -- $800A NEW RECORD!  The chess femmes came through and rose to my challenge made after Chess Challenge XVII, to break a record in prize money awarded to them!  I was soooo fricking happy!  Poor, but very very happy!  LOL!

And, in honor of Mr. Don and all that he meant to Goddesschess, I put up one-time cash prizes (in the form of Visa gift cards) of $100 and $50, respectively, to the top male finisher in each section (Invitational and Open). Don would have been so tickled about that!  A Goddesschess $50 best game prize was also on the table, open to all players. 

The photo above is of Mr. Don's corner of my desk in the front room, decked out for Christmas 2013, with glittery bird perched on a photo of a handsome Mr. Don in his prime (1999, when we first met), the one-armed warrior made out of a clothspin that Mr. Don rescued from the curbside outside his apartment and gifted to me one lovely Christmas visit, a pine cone from the grounds of St. Joseph's Basilica in Montreal, we spent a leisurely morning exploring there on December 7th after our memorable trip to Amsterdam in November/December 2001, the Queen Bird (moi, of course).  A precious photo of Mr. Don and I at the end of a carriage ride in old Montreal on that mild December 7, 2001 day, taken outside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Montreal. The lamp, embellished with the royal fleur-de-lis, is suitable for such a royal couple, don't you think!  Oh, and my version of the Eternal Flame, in the shape of a red glass heart that is either filled with an actual burning votive candle or a battery-operated votive candle.

Call me sentimental...

Like magic, I am reminded of the immortal words of the poets 'come live with me, and be my love...(Marlowe) ...the best is yet to come...'(The Scorpions):

In 2014:  Live your life doing good for others, in whatever way you can, in whatever way makes you most fulfilled.  Hey, darlings -- it's really not that difficult.  Just fricking do it, okay?  None of us lives forever, and we do not know what tomorrow holds. 

I'll once again be sponsoring these wonderful events (one in honor of Mr. Don's Canadian homeland). 

I love you all!  Here's to a fantastic and absolutely wonderful 2014!  The best is yet to come! 

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Woo woo, darlings!  Been sitting here on pin and needles since 3:25 p.m. this afternoon when the game started -- PACKERS v. DA CHICAGO BEARS at Soldiers Field in Chicago, IL, USA,amidst a snow storm.  Yeah, baby, NFL football in December!


In lieu of my heart condition, I chose not to watch the game in full. I didn't want to KILL myself with a massive heart attack! Instead, I turned the game on TV and then turned it off if the Pack was not ahead.  LOL!  Several times. Oh, my poor heart!  I last turned the t.v. off during the early minutes of the 4th quarter after DA BEARS went up by 8 points yet again.

And so it was only a minute or so ago that I clicked the TV on again and the Packers/Bears game was OVAH! I turned the TV off and rushed to coverage online at The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel, where I learned the Packers won by a score of 33 to 28. 

And now, the play-offs begin!

So, next weekend I'll be doing this drill all over again :)  Honestly, I do not know if I can stand this!

By the way, this just so happened to be THE DECISIVE GAME OF THE SEASON.  And it just so happened that QUARTERBACK AARON RODGERS CAME BACK FROM A BROKEN COLLAR BONE SUFFERED EIGHT WEEKS AGO TO LEAD THE TEAM TO VICTORY!  Well, if this isn't the stuff of legends, I don't know what is :)

Here is the box score, from JS Online coverage:

Green Bay at Chicago
GB 01371333
CHI 7014728

Watch the awesome video of Rodgers (number 12) throwing the pass to Wide Receiver Randall Cobb (number 18) and Cobb catching the perfect pass and then running for the winning touchdown  at SB Nation!

For video recap of this exciting game, check this out from Yahoo sports.

The Packers will host the San Francisco 49ers next weekend at Lambeau Field. The 49ers beat the Arizona Cardinals in the final seconds to secure the No. 5 seed. The Packers are locked in as the No. 4 seed.

OHMYGODDESS!  San Frickingcisco!  I HATE THEM! I hate then almost as much as I HATE THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS.  Bwwwwwwaaaaaahhhhhhh!  Where did they finish in the NFC North?  Oh, 5 wins, 10 losses, and 1 tie. IN LAST PLACE IN THE DIVISION.  Tee hee hee.  Okay, so it's mean to laugh.  I don't care - I'm a BEYATCH! 

Game on next week, darlings, at LEGENDARY LAMBEAU FIELDDDDDDD (cue echo effect...)

Is Hnefatafl Evidence That Chess Was Not Invented In India?

A recent email from Dr. Rene Gralla containing information that raises interesting speculation.  Here it is, complete with links to source information:

THE NEWS: Norwegian people have now learned that chess may not be a product from India (BTW, the author of the column nonchalantly talks of "Persia" in this context) but that chess may be a pure Scandinavian brand in the first place ... since the the roots of the Chess of the Vikings, that famous "Hnefatafl", that date back to LATRUNCULI which was the ancient strategic game of the Roman soldiers and which was much older than the proto-chess Chaturanga from India.
The foregoing fact has been the leitmotiv of a column on chess that has been published by Simen Agdestein in the No. 2 (!!) of the tabloids of Norway - called VG (that means: "Verdens Gang") - on last Wednesday, December 11th, 2013.
The chess columnist Simen Agdestein - who is very close to the new World Champion Magnus Carlsen - reports on his first own experiences with Hnefatafl ... and then adds some information on the "8th International Ladies Chess Gala" that had been organised by the German daily "neues deutschland" at Berlin on November 28th, 2013; as part of the program of the event Norway's WIM Silje Bjerke had played an exhibition game of Hnefatafl.
... please inform the visitors of your webseite about the fact that Hnefatafl has now become a topic even in one of the chess columns of Norway's very popular tabloid VG! And please publish the scan of that very column on your great website - since I think that the foregoing information is very interesting for the visitors of your website. 
Unfortunately, the article was in PDF and if there is a way to post a PDF here at Blogger, I haven't figured it out.  So I copied part of it using the "free tools" I have on my computer -- and after comparing the first sentence letter by letter, I saw that it was a total mish-mash.  So I'm going back to the drawing board on this and will try again!
Stay tuned!

Added December 29, 2013 at 6:14 p.m. Milwaukee, WI time:

Here is a scan of the article! Sorry about the resolution, this is the best I could do:


The Thistle and the Rose Chess Set Returns!

Hola darlings!

Before Christmas I was contacted by a person who owns a COMPLETE Thistle and Rose chess set, and I was about swooning over the prospect of publishing the photos he promised to send me.  True to his word, these arrived before Christmas, but I've only just now am publishing them:

I apologize for the lopsided photos. When I downloaded I saved them oriented the best way to view them, but for a reason unknown to me (and one I cannot figure out how to correct), they are posting here all cock-eyed. But I hope you will be able to enjoy them, nonetheless.

He has the pawns!!!!  He received the complete set (with board) as a gift from a neighbor some 30 years ago who, I hope I've got this correctly -- himself received it as gift during a business trip.  My set, in contrast, was collected over several flights by Ms. JS when she worked for an oil company and was a frequent flyer on British Caledonia Airlines.

I've tried, off and on, for a few years to collect some pawns -- unsuccessfully.  E-bay is a bait pit when it comes to Thistle and Rose pawns, as I learned the hard way.  I didn't know -- before --  that E-bay allows vendors to rig the bidding.  Now I know better, and I don't shop at E-bay anymore.  I refuse to be cheated.  I've therefore no pawns for my efforts to join the beautiful pieces that were gifted to me by Judith S. some years ago, before she retired from our mutual employer.  Goddess bless her, she knew I was "into" chess and wanted to pass her Beneagle's pieces along to someone she figured would appreciate them.

I am forever grateful to you, Judith!  I posted about this wonderful gift earlier:

September 8, 2009:  An Unexpected Gift
October 1, 2011:  More on the Beneagles Thistle and Rose Pieces

I probably won't ever own the pawns to complete my set, as Mr. T (I will call him, as I do not recall whether I obtained his consent to publish his name, and I was too lazy to check back through our email correspondence to find out, duh!) helpfully sent me a link to The Whiskey Exchange to illustrate what full sets of the Beneagle's Thistle and Rose are going for now -- 499 BPS (British Pounds Sterling) for a full set without board and 599 BPS with the board.  Holy Hathor!  [Does anyone remember Mr. T from the television series "The A Team?"  One of my favorite shows!]

More photos are promised, and I will post them when they arrive.  Such a lovely set! I am NOT a collector but, by default, I happen to own three chess sets, two of which I've purchased over the years because I fell in love with them (not collector-worthy) and one set that was a gift (the Lewis Chess pieces set), plus my incomplete Thistle and Rose set (also a gift).  I also own a USCF regulation set with a roll-up board and woven vinyl shoulder case to hold the lot. I believe I paid something like $14 for the entirety, on sale a few years ago.  Woo woo! 

Now maybe I'm crazy (a likely possibility) -- but I dug out my research from a few years ago and found some interesting things price-wise:

June 29, 2009, a "Wade Full Set of White (Rose) Chess Pieces Beneagles - winning bid: GPB 51.00.  I believe that pawns were not included, as the photograph on the E-bay entry that printed out on Septenber 8, 2009 showed only the major pieces.

Also printed out on September 8, 2009, an auction preview sheet from, Lot 634, estimated at 400 - 600 BPS, pieces minus whisky and I'm not clear from the description whether pawns were included, but a "copper chess-board" was included.

On October 1, 2011 I printed out an auction offering (Tennants Auctioneers) offering a full set of "Wade porcelain ches pieces designed by Ann Whittet and Fredrick Mellor, a bottle of Beneagles Etra Special Scotch Whisky, 26 2/3 Fl. Oz., 70 degree proof, in original cellophane wrapper, a copper effect chess board and information leafelet, in original box."  Estimated price 100 - 200 BPS.

If I haven't written this before, Fredrick Mellor worked for eorge Wade & Sons, Ltd., Stoke-on-Trent, and the pieces were "fashioned in the fine Wade Porcelain at Portadown in Northern Ireland."

Consider Year-End Giving!

Hola darlings!  I hope EVERYONE had an absolutely wonderful Christmas.  Mine was fabulous - spent in peace and solitude and I thoroughly enjoyed getting away from the rat race for a few days!  I made all of my favorite dishes for myself, gorged myself on good chocolates and wine (lots of wine, heh heh) and had fires in the fireplace every night.  It was WONDERFUL! 

There she is in all her glory, Maison Newton, complete with a snow storm (those white specks caught by the camera on "scene" don't capture how hard it started snowing seemingly the moment I stepped outside to try and capture a night image of mon maison in all of its Christmas-time glory)!  Let me tell you, that fireplace sure has come in handy:)  This photo was taken on December 16 and we've gotten a lot more snow since then -- still a foot on the ground now, even after Friday and yesterday's "melt-off" (we had a high of 44 degrees F yesterday and it felt positively spring-like outside!)  By this evening, temperatures will be back below zero F and the 'highs' for the next several days will be in the single digits F!   Brrrrrrrr shiver shiver! 

For U.S. taxpayers who itemize their deductions, many make year-end donations to "up" our charitable deductions for the year.  If you are one of those fortunate enough to have enough deductions to top the Federal Standard Deduction, I ask you to please consider making a donation to either or - preferably - both of these very worthy chessly charitable endeavors!

The Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation is conducting its 2013-2014 Annual Campaign to raise funds for the coming year's chessly activities.  Straight from the email:

2013-2014 Annual Campaign
This year's annual campaign will run through Feb 1, 2014. Each year WSCF raises funds to complete its annual budget. Funds are used to offer scholarships at end of the year tournaments, pay entry fees for Title I students at tournaments, help students attend summer chess camps, purchase online memberships, and pay for FirstMove (FirstMove) curriculum in Milwaukee Schools. Over $1500 has been raised to date toward this years goal.
WSCF activities and annual budget continues to grow each year. The end of the 2012-2013 season found over 1650 players participating in over 45 tournaments across the state. Tournaments were held in Green Bay, Appleton, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Plymouth, Sussex, Fall River, Watertown, Kenosha, Port Washington, Greenfield, Waukesha, Fox Point, Glen Dale, Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee. Nearly 200 campers attended 14 camps from Baraboo, Sheboygan, Kenosha and places in between. This fall WSCF teachers taught in 13 different schools in the Milwaukee Metro area and WSCF helped 9 different schools start the First Move curriculum in it 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms.
Your continued support will help WSCF expand its mission of providing scholastic chess to thousands of students across Wisconsin.
To donate click on this link to give on line via our First Giving page Annual Campaign or mail a check to our office at: WSCF 2819 W. Highland Blvd. Milwaukee, WI 53208. Your support is greatly appreciated.

You can make a donation online, I just did! 

Seriously, every little bit helps these kids a LOT!  If you prefer, you can send a check directly to the WSCF:  WSCF, 2819 W. Highland Blvd. Milwaukee, WI 53208.  All donations to WSCF are tax-deductible for those who itemize their U.S. Federal income tax deductions.  There are still a few more days to donate.  Wouldn't it be grand to send WSCF on its way to 2014 with $1,000 or more in its funding!

Another one of my favorite chessly groups is 9 Queens!  9 Queens was established by Jen Shahade and Jean Hoffman in 2008 in Tucson, Arizona:  9 Queens is dedicated to empowering individuals and communities through chess by making the game fun, exciting, and accessible. We offer free chess education programs specifically designed to promote critical thinking skills, academic performance, and self-confidence. Our mission is to use chess as a tool to motivate, empower, and engage under-served and under-represented populations to realize their potential and achieve academic and personal success.

Donations to 9 Queens are tax-deductible for those who itemize their U.S. Federal income tax deductions. I am proud to have been a supporter of 9 Queens since I first learned of the organization; for a few years, 9 Queens and Goddesschess collaberated to provide a special prize to the U.S. Women's Chess Championship. 

Arizona residents have a special opportunity to direct their local tax dollars toward 9 Queens objectives:

You decide where your tax dollars go...
To support 9 Queens please dedicate your Public School Activity Tax Credit to the Mexicayotl Academy!

If you pay taxes in Arizona, you have two choices about where that money goes:
#1: Send your tax dollars to the state, where legislators will decide how and where that money will be used.
#2: Keep your tax dollars in your community by making a donation to an organization you support.
Mexicayotl Academy is a qualifying charter school that is able to receive your Public School Activity Tax Credit. This tax credit is in addition to and completely separate from the Private School Tuition and Arizona Charitable tax credits. You may participate in any or all three if you are able to.
Individuals can claim a credit of up to $200, and couples filing jointly can claim $400. Click for more information on the tax credit from the Arizona Department of Revenue.
Your donation affects our community and supports our mission by helping the Mexicayotl Academy students learn a skill that is proven to help them with their critical thinking skills in math and science and in their self esteem. They are the future of Tucson-help us give them an opportunity they might not have had without us.
To make your donation to Mexicayotl Academy:
  • Mail your donation before Dec. 31, 2013, to Mexicayotl Academy 667 N. 7th Ave, Tucson AZ 85705
  • Please note on your check that it is for the CHESS PROGRAM.
Also, 9 Queens is a 501(C)(3) Non-Profit EID#77-0711937 and your donations are tax deductible!
For donations to 9 Queens please send your check to:
9 Queens P.O. Box 41838 Tucson, AZ 85717
Or go directly to to click the donate now button.
I just made a donation to 9 Queens, and I hope you will consider making one, too!  I know I sound like a broken record, but every little bit DOES help tremendously, because all of those little bit donations can add up!  But only you can help them add up by making a donation.
If either of these chessly endeavors don't ring your chimes, please please consider making a chessly endeavor donation elsewhere.  Chess in the United States is not a government-supported activity.  Chess is not something on most people's radar!  We chessly types must develop our future chess champions on our own, and corporate and charitable foundation sponsorship is sadly lacking for most of our local programs, in whatever state you live in.  'kay, enough said!  Goddess bless you all, darlings, and I sure do hope you will be celebrating New Year's Eve like I intend to celebrate mine :) :) :)
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