Saturday, February 22, 2014

Epic Love Stories: A Belated Salute to Saint Valentine's Day

I couldn't resist posting this.  Yes, it's past due, but you know, Mr. Don and I had our own EPIC love story.  Of such things life is made...

From Al-Ahram Online, published in Cairo

Issue No.1184, 13 February, 2014      12-02-2014 12:40PM ET

Tombs of legendary lovers

Nothing makes the heart flutter like a noble love story, and history contains a great many of them, writes Nevine El-Aref
Love is a blessing from God bestowed on humans. Throughout the ages, love stories have filled the world’s history books. Whether sad or cheerful, they have been told and retold from one generation to the next, prettified and dramatised by poets, sung and celebrated by people, and put on film.

However, some lovers have decided to leave a souvenir behind them that commemorates their story forever. They left tombs, temples and mausoleums that show how the loved each other to subsequent generations.

Among them were the New Dynasty Pharaoh Ramses II and his beloved wife Nefertari, the Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal in India, King Fouad I and his first wife Princess Shwikar, and Mohammed Shah Agha Khan and his wife Um Habiba.

 RAMSES II AND NEFERTARI: Queen Nefertari, whose name means “beautiful companion”, was one of Ramses II’s eight royal wives and his most beloved one.

Although Nefertari’s family background is unknown, the discovery of an inscription of the cartouche of the pharaoh Ay inside her tomb has led archaeologists to speculate that she was related to him. If any relation exists, she could be his great-granddaughter because of the time between the reign of Ay and Ramses II in Ancient Egyptian history.

Until now no decisive archaeological evidence has been found to link Nefertari to the royal family of the 18th Dynasty. Nefertari married Ramses II before he ascended the throne, and she bore him at least four sons and two daughters.

Being his most beloved wife, Nefertari appears as the wife of Ramses II in several scenes depicted on the walls of temples and tombs in the Luxor and Karnak temples, as well as being shown as Ramses II’s consort on many statues.

The greatest honour was bestowed on Nefertari by Ramses II as she was not only depicted in statue form at the great temple at Abu Simbel, but she also had a smaller temple dedicated to her and to the goddess Hathor beside the king’s own temple.

A lavishly decorated tomb, QV66, in the Valley of the Queens on the west bank at Luxor, is considered to be one of the largest and most spectacular tombs in the Valley, and it was dug so that her mummy would rest in peace for eternity.

The tomb was robbed in antiquity, but rediscovered in 1904 by the Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli. Several funerary items belonging to the queen were taken from her tomb, including gold bracelets, figurines and a small piece of an earring or pendant, all of them now on display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the US. A collection of figurines is also exhibited at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The tomb was closed to the public in 1950 for restoration as its wall decorations were in a bad state of preservation due to the infiltration of salts and humidity on the walls.

In 1986, the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation, now the ministry of state for antiquities (MSA), and the Getty Conservation Institute in the US embarked on a restoration project for the tomb’s paintings, but the actual work only began in 1988. In 1992 the tomb was reopened to public, though on a small scale in order to secure its conservation.

Ramses II’s love for his wife is registered on the walls of the queen’s burial chamber. He wrote a poem to his wife saying: “my love is unique – no one can rival her, for she is the most beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart.”

Cleopatra and Mark Antony: Although the location of the mausoleum of the lovers is not known, the love between the Ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra VI and Mark Antony is one of the most fascinating and touching of all. It was for this reason that William Shakespeare dramatised this love story in his play Antony and Cleopatra.

The story took place in 31 BCE, when Cleopatra and Antony fell in love at first sight. Antony then left his wife Octavia in Rome and married Cleopatra. Their love outraged the Romans, who were worried about the growing power of the Egyptians. Octavian, later the emperor Augustus, then invaded Egypt to defeat the lovers and subjugate the country. [Um, you should have mentioned that Octavian was Octavia's brother...]

During the campaign, rumours spread that Cleopatra had died, and Antony, devastated, fell on his sword. When Cleopatra found out about her lover’s death, she famously killed herself by causing an asp to bite her. Both lovers were buried together in a mausoleum, but until now the exact location of this remains a mystery. Several attempts have been made by archaeologists to uncover it, but all have failed.

Egyptian archaeologists believe that the site of the mausoleum is near the temple of Taposiris Magna, southwest of Alexandria.

Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal: The love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, the Mughal royal couple, produced the famous monument of the Taj Mahal in Agra in northern India.

Their love story began in 1612, when the couple were married. In 1629, when Mahal was giving birth to her 14th child she died and Jahan fell into a deep depression that affected him emotionally and physically. His grief inspired him to construct one of the world’s great architectural monuments, the Taj Mahal, to be his wife’s resting place and haven. [So, he couldn't keep his penis in his pants and he killed his wife by wearing her out through incessant child-birth, and then he builds a memorial to her.  You know what, he should have cut off his penis instead.  Now that would have been a memorial.]

Some 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants worked for 22 years to build this immense mausoleum of white marble, which includes a mosque, a guest house, and a main gateway, as well as an outer courtyard and cloisters.

The Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and a universally admired masterpiece of world heritage. It was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1983.

According to Abdallah Al-Attar, former head of the Islamic section at the MSA in Cairo, several stories are told about the construction of Taj Mahal. It is said that the building is tilted towards the riverside despite the precautions that were taken during its construction, as four years after it was finished cracks apparently started to appear.

A second story has it that diamonds and gold that once covered part of the dome were stolen. Al-Attar said that in order to prevent any imitation of the building Jahan had the hands cut off and the eyes pulled out of its architects and sculptors.

Shwikar wife of king Fouad I: The mausoleum of Shwikar, the first wife of King Fouad of Egypt, is made of richly decorated marble, and it contains a bed-shaped tomb in the same material. Roses made out of marble are used for decoration. Unfortunately, the mausoleum is more related to the misery of the princess than her love story.

According to researcher Mohamed Ragab, Princess Shwikar was the first wife of King Fouad and the granddaughter of Ibrahim Pasha, son of the Khedive Mohamed Ali. Fouad married Shwikar for her wealth and neglected her by shutting her up in the Al-Zaafaran Palace in Cairo, where she lived a miserable life.

Although she gave birth to prince Ismail and Princess Rokaya, Fouad used to treat her badly. He also prohibited her from visiting her family. One night, according to Ragab, when Fouad was away Shwikar escaped to her family’s house and when the king came back and realised that she had left the house without his permission he divorced her. Shwikar then married Prince Wahid Yosry and had two children, a boy and a girl.

Mohamed Shah Agha Khan and Um Habiba: The love story of Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah Aga Khan, the 48th Imam of the Ismailis, a Shiite sect, and his wife the Begum Um Habiba, started at the end of the 1930s.

Coincidence played a role in the marriage of the Aga Khan and his French wife, born Yvette Blanche Labrousse, who later became the Begum Um Habiba. They fell in love at first sight when they met at a royal dancing party in Egypt in 1938.

Labrousse was born in 1906 in the town of Sete in southern France to a seamstress and tramway worker. She won the title of Miss Riviera in 1930. While the love between the two faced many obstacles — the Aga Khan was 30 years older than she was — the couple were married in 1944 and Labrousse became the Aga Khan’s fourth and last wife.

As Egypt was the place where they had first met, the Aga Khan built her a house in Aswan. Moreover, high up on the west bank of the Nile at Aswan stands the elegant pink granite mausoleum of the Aga Khan himself, built according to the Fatimid architectural style used in Cairo, with the tomb itself being made of white Carrara marble.

In his will the Aga Khan had expressed his wish to be buried there, and this took place after his death in 1957. Al-Attar said that Egypt had had a special place in the Aga Khan’s heart after his first visit there in 1935. His fourth wife, who died in 2000 and is buried beside her husband, used to put a red rose daily on his tomb.

Today, the mausoleum enjoys an excellent view, including of the Aga Khan’s white villa below and the nearby Monastery of St. Simon on the west bank at Aswan.

What's this -- no Mr. Don and Jan?  Ha - a lot they don't know about Herstory...

A woman in love with her photographer.  Mr. Don took this photo a few days before we left for Madrid on January 2, 2012, our last trip together.  He wanted to take a duplicate of a photo he'd taken of me with the same "Easter Island" head about 10 years before.  He made me look so beautiful in this photograph at age 60!  I miss him so.

Significant Find in Peru

[T]he discovery is singularly important because it shows "we are practically in our infancy" when it comes to studying historical subjects, and there is "still a lot of research to be done," since many people refer to the Incas as their ancestors despite the fact that "thousands of years ago" there were already other people living here.

Yes, indeed, there were.  In Peru. In Ecuador. In Mexico.  More evidence just keeps cropping up again and again in archaeological discoveries.  For all we know, in North America too -- but we've destroyed them through relentless building, covered them up because we don't want to be bothered, or haven't yet uncovered them.  And when we do, what will we do, heh?  There's a big broo-ha-ha going on in Florida right now, for instance, since continuing discoveries of ancient "Native American" settlements are uncovered.  Do we stop building, and dig more to find what was there before?  Or do we bulldoze down a thousand or more years of herstory like they do in other southern states because they just cannot be bothered with digging up "nigger injun" history while a highway or a new Wal-Mart must be built. 

Does that date -- 2200 BCE -- mean anything to you?  Isn't that the date most attributed to the building of the Great Pyramid (by Cheops) at Giza?  We've got evidence of settlement here in Ecuador dating back more than 4000 years ago.  Hmmm.....

Story at Online

February 8, 2014 1:17pm

Building from 2,200 B.C. found in Ecuadorian capital

Quito, Feb 8 (EFE).- Archaeologists discovered a building from around 2,200 B.C. in an archaeological and ecological park in the Ecuadorian capital at the foot of Pichincha Volcano, sources at the excavations told Efe.

"It is the most ancient archaeological find in Rumbipapa Park and in the city of Quito," park supervisor Bernarda Icaza told Efe, adding that no identification or description has been made of the culture that lived in the area during the Formative Period when the building was constructed.  Icaza noted that the find has "enormous" historical importance, because "it opens doors to further archaeological, historical and heritage research."

The excavation was started two years ago by archaeologist Angelo Constantine. After digging down three meters, the flooring of a small dwelling was found.  Park guide Danny Villacis, who worked on the dig, told Efe that carbon dating was used to determine the age of the site, where traces of human feces and urine were found.  Also found were scraps of human and animal bones from another period, presumably from a time after Pichincha Volcano erupted.

Specifically, next to the building were also found traces of volcanic lava. "What destroyed this village was the eruption of Guagua Pichincha, and later the eruptions of Pululahua finished it off for good," Villacis said.

He said the discovery is singularly important because it shows "we are practically in our infancy" when it comes to studying historical subjects, and there is "still a lot of research to be done," since many people refer to the Incas as their ancestors despite the fact that "thousands of years ago" there were already other people living here.

Treasure Trove! Roman Gold Hoard Uncovered in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

So he doesn't give a damn that he dug it up illegally and ruined a priceless antiquity in the process, but the authorities sure do.  Guess he won't be seeing any Euros out of this discovery anytime soon.  Too bad, so sad.  NOT!

Article at The Local

Amateur treasure hunter finds Roman gold hoard

Published: 19 Feb 2014 11:18 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Feb 2014 11:18 GMT+01:00

German archaeologists have recovered a find of over a million euros worth of Roman gold and silver jewellery from an amateur treasure hunter who dug it up illegally in a forest.

The unnamed treasure seeker came across the buried treasure, estimated to be worth more than €1 million, while searching a wooded area in southern Rhineland-Palatinate with a metal detector.

The trove includes a number of leaf-shaped solid gold brooches which are thought to have formed part of the decorations from a coat of high office which once belonged a very important Roman ruler. They date from the late antiquity period - around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire.

Part of the hoard of gold and silver uncovered illegally by a treasure hunter.  The destruction of the silver-decorated
chair grieves me.  For that alone the asshole should be put in jail for 20 years.  Source
Experts say the find could be the largest and most magnificent collection of late antiquity pieces ever found in Germany. It also includes a solid silver bowl set with gold and stones and a set of gold and silver plated statuettes which formed part of a military commander's portable chair.

2014 U.S. Women's Chess Championship

I don't remember if I've already published this or not.  What yanks my chain is the HUGE discrepancy in prize money between 12 men fighting for $171,000 plus a $64,000 up for grabs Fischer prize if one wins all 11 rounds, and 10 women fighting for $65,000.  I mean, REALLY?

Dates:  May 7 - 21, 2014

Place:  Chess Club and Scholastic Center, St. Louis, MO
It's a beautiful venue, if a bit cramped, and in a gorgeous neighborhood. Lots of shops, bars, restaurants, night life galore.  People all over, and yet surrounded by quiet residential streets of homes that very much remind me of parts of the ever-trendy east side in Milwaukee, WI.   I walked all over that neighborhood in 2009, it was wonderful, but hot and steamy!  Even attended a couple sessions of analysis during the Kings v. Queens Tournament while I was in St. Louis in September that year attending a CCI meeting.

Invitations for MEN's Event:
  • 2013 U.S. Champion: Gata Kamsky
  • 2013 U.S. Junior Closed Champion: Daniel Naroditsky
  • 2013 U.S. Open Champion: Josh Friedel (Will be cheering wildly for GM Friedel, now a WI resident)
  • (1) - Wildcard (TBD)
  • (8) - Rating (TBD - March supplement)
Invitations for WOMEN's Event:
  • 2013 U.S. Women's Champion: Irina Krush
  • (2) - Wildcard (TBD)
    (7) - Rating (TBD - March supplement)
So, we won't know for awhile yet who the bulk of the players will be.  I am interested in seeing who will be invited as wild card choices. 

February, 2014 top 20 U.S. Women:

1Krush, Irina (12543137)NYUSA2554
2Zatonskih, Anna (12873912)NYUSA2520
3Abrahamyan, Tatev (12851435)CAUSA2474
4Baginskaite, Camilla (12716466)SDUSA2358
5Zenyuk, Iryna V (12846035)PAUSA2352
6Goletiani, Rusudan (12807449)NYUSA2335
7Rohonyan, Katerina (12973020)WAUSA2325
8Belakovskaia, Anjelina (12559824)AZUSA2317
9Foisor, Sabina-Francesca (14012260)MDUSA2311
10Ni, Viktorija (14449677)ILUSA2302
11Nemcova, Katerina (14723368)TXUSA2294
12Melekhina, Alisa (12726115)PAUSA2268
13Chiang, Sarah (13091081)TXUSA2261
14Inapuri, Ramya Krishna (15185381)ILUSA2243
15Kats, Alena (12980885)NYUSA2233
16Tsodikova, Natalya (12634942)CAUSA2226
17Marinello, Beatriz (12537449)NYUSA2210
18Eswaran, Ashritha (14044705)CAUSA2199
19Liao, Simone (13228302)CAUSA2189
20Yu, Jennifer R (14117950)VAUSA2166

I'm partial to Belakovskaia.  I would love to see her get an invite, accept and come and kick some butt!  Last year she was rusty and tentative, and it showed in her results.  She showed occasional flashes of her former brilliance, though.  So I have high hopes for Anjelina! 

And isn't it about time that Tatev A. finally took the title.  She comes every year and kicks butt, but somehow falls short in the end.  Sooooo frustrating, I can imagine how it is for her, LOL!  I'm just a spectator and a fan and I'm utterly worn out by it! 

Irina Krush has earned a GM title, congrats.  Want to see a lot more American chess femmes strive for that -- and not by being awarded a GM title because of winning the women's world chess championship -- although we have no player close to being able to do that.  Sigh.

Would love to see Katerina Rohonyan back at the U.S. Championship.  She played last year in the Grand Pacific Open and is back again for another go at the title in Victoria, BC in 2014!  Go Katerina! 

What's this?  I'm not on the list.  Hey, what the heck?  Well, okay okay, so my rating is something like 500 teens.  Last year I got a draw against a player rated nearly 1000 points higher than me.  I was brilliant!  I was so brilliant, I even moved his pieces!  Ha!  Take that, USCF!

2014 Bangladesh Women's National Chess Championship

Thanks to FIDE Women's Commission coverage for news of this event held February 7 - 18, 2014.  Results were reported at

Final Ranking after 11 Rounds

Rk.SNo NameFEDRtgRtgIPts. TB1 nwwe
WIMShamima Akter LizaBAN216621669.00.01199.11
WFMKhan NazranaBAN201220128.50.0107.56.53
WIMHamid RaniBAN198219828.00.01076.13
WFMSultana ZakiaBAN194419448.00.01075.65
WFMSultana Sharmin ShirinBAN197819787.50.0106.56.13
WFMParveen TanimaBAN204320437.00.01177.78
Jahanara HaqueBAN165016504.50.0114.52.40
Sharmin Samiha ShimmiBAN182218224.00.01043.99
Jahan Dilara NupurBAN178517853.00.01134.12
Chowdhury Mahmuda HoqueBAN172317232.
Hamida MahmudBAN170417042.00.0912.56
Kiswara Shajrin EvanaBAN177217722.00.01023.69
Tie Break1: Play-off points

2014 Croatian Women's Chess Championship

From The Week in Chess, February 4 - 9, 2014:

ch-CRO w 2014 Zagreb CRO Tue 4th Feb 2014 - Mon 10th Feb 2014
Leading Final Round 9 Standings:
14Golubenko ValentinaCRO22707.
26Francisković BorkaCRO22777.03.027.500.0
32Medić MirjanaCRO22276.
45Sarić KristinaCRO21885.51.017.750.0
53Deur Sarić ZrinkaCRO20965.01.016.750.0
67Jelica MaraCRO22294.01.012.750.0
71Berke AnaCRO20973.51.514.000.0
88Iveković TihanaCRO20413.
910Grgić NeomiCRO18962.00.04.750.0
109Sargac RajnaCRO21661.
10 players

2014 Cuban Women's Chess Championship

2014's round of national women's championships is off and running.  Here are the results from the Cuban Women's Chess Championship, courtesy of The Week in Chess:

ch-CUB w 2014 Pinar del Rio CUB Wed 5th Feb 2014 - Sat 15th Feb 2014
Leading Final Round 11 Standings:
15Pina Vega SulennisCUB22798.040.003.05
29Vigoa Apecheche YaniraCUB23217.537.503.05
38Marrero Lopez YanietCUB23247.537.003.06
42Ordaz Valdes Lisandra TeresaCUB23637.035.252.55
53Arribas Robaina MaritzaCUB23096.531.502.04
611Hernandez Moya YuleisyCUB22275.526.751.53
77Linares Napoles OleinyCUB23345.026.502.52
81Miranda Llanes YerisbelCUB22285.023.751.52
910Llaudy Pupo LisandraCUB22604.521.251.52
106Miranda Rodriguez TaniaCUB22024.018.001.52
1112Romero Nunez WendyCUB21013.517.001.00
124Fleites Marti YuleikysCUB22252.011.001.00
12 players

Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX!

Hola darlings!

It's coming around to that time of year again, chessplayers.  The Hales Corners Chess Challenge XIX, on April 12, 2014!

This year's playing venue is a well known gracious hotel in southeastern Wisconsin:  The Olympia Resort Hotel, Spa and Conference Center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

Olympia Resort Hotel lobby

You can get all the information you need on and print out the entry form.  The Challenge is worth 10 Grand Prix points and Junior Grand Prix points (don't know how many Junior GP points).

This is all in one day action (4 games), G-60, 6 second delay.  Early registration fee (prior to April 9, 2014) is $40 for the Open Section and $30 for the Reserve Section.  $5 more each after April 9th and same day entry.  Games are at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.  Prizes are awarded at end of play.

Goddesschess is once again sponsoring prizes for female chessplayers.  The top female finishers from Challenge XVIII receive entry fee paid by Goddesschess, should they choose to play in Challenge XIX.  Female prizes are awarded in addition to any other prize a player may win.  Open Section: $20 for a win; $10 for a draw.  Reserve Section: $10 for a win; $5 for a draw.  Entry will be paid by Goddesschess for top female finisher in each Section if they play in Challenge XX in October, 2014.

For the past few Challenges, I've had lots of fun putting together gift bags of chessly items (or chess-themed items) for the top female finisher in each Section.  I am already shopping, darlings! 

Please come out and support this wonderful 2X a year southeastern Wisconsin regional event.  Southwest Chess Club also sponsors the Milwaukee Summer Challenge, this year scheduled for June 21-22, 2014 (Holy Summer Solstice!)  Goddesschess will also be offering prizes for the chess femmes in that event.  Stay tuned!

P.S.  I did a quick check of restaurants in the area of the Olympia Resort Hotel, in case you feel the need to spread your wings rather than eating at the hotel's restaurant, and there are several within a mile or less, although it doesn't look like there are any sidewalks so walking to them rather than driving -- problematical.  You might also want to check a travel aggregator like Expedia to see what room rates are available. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

9th Annual Wisconsin All Girls Chess Championships

The Wisconsin Scholastic Chess Federation is sponsoring its 9th Wisconsin All Girls Chess Championships

This year the tournament will be on April 5, 2014 at the University SchoolWebsite.

Money from the WSCF that has been awarded to Tournament winners is set aside (held in escrow) and sent directly to the bursar's office of the college of the enrollee's choice upon confirmation of enrollment so - not to put too fine a point on it - donors know that their donations are going exactly where they want -- to fund winners' college semesters! 

Right now, WSCF is doing fund-raising for the 9th Wisconsin All Girls Chess Championships and the 4th Queens Game All Girls Chess Camp.  The goal this year is $9,000.  This season, some special incentives are being offered to donors who donate at a certain level:

Receive a reward when you donate at a certain level!
For your generous donation, you will receive the following reward when you donate at the specified level.

One Year Membership to
Heavy Pink Tournament Chess Set (or color of your choice)
A 30 min Private Lesson with Chess Coach Leonid Aranovich
A Saitek Chess Clock
One Night Stay at the Kalahari Resort

(Italicized portion above from an email I received). 

Personally, I don't need any additional incentives to donate to a program I believe in so much and have supported since Day One.  I have to tell you though, I rather like the idea of a pink chess set.  I have no idea what a Saitek Chess Clock is...  As for a private chess lesson, is Coach Aranovich single and is he cute???  Just kidding! 

8th Annual Grand Pacific Open

Goddesschess is once again a proud sponsor of the Grand Pacific Open that takes place in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada).  This year it's on for April 18 - 21, 2014.

The tournament will once again be hosted at the spectacular Grand Pacific Hotel in downtown Victoria, BC. 

You can get all of the tournament details online, and also register online (please do). 

Goddesschess funds separate prizes for the top five finishing female chessplayers as well as funding to help defer the expenses of a WGM to play at the GPO.  Traditionally, the Grand Pacific Open has had a great turn-out of female chessplayers.  That is one reason we are proud to offer sponsorship to this Canadian event, beginning with the 2011 Grand Pacific Open.  As some of you may know, Don McLean, who was an integral part of Goddesschess and webmaster of the Goddesschess website for many years, was a Canadian, and we stretched our dollars to provide funds to both Canadian and American events. Don died in 2012, but his memory lives on in Goddesschess.

In 2014, the GPO is featuring two veterans from U.S. Women's Chess Championships:  WGM Katerina Rohonyan and WFM Chouchanik Airpetian -- both returning to the 2014 GPO!  Rohonyan and Airpetian made their first appearances and faced off against each other at the 2013 Grand Pacific Open, where Rohonyan bested Airpetian and took the top women's prize.  Will Airpetian get revenge this year, hmmm?

I hope you all will support this great regional event that draws players from far and wide.  GM Hikaru Nakamura played in the GPO a few years ago.  You never know who may show up...

2014 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival

Here I am now reporting on the final results, more than a month later.  Slap my face, darlings!  LOL!

Here was my intro reportOfficial website (for full details and photos).  And here are the final results, ta da!

IM Mariya Muzychuk took top honors for the women:

Congratulations to Ukranian IM Mariya Muzychuk for winning the top female prize of £15,000. She drew her last round game against GM Simen Agdestein and achieved a score of 7/10 (+6,=2,-2) and with it, a GM norm!
What a fantastic showing for Muzychuk!  She picked up over 21 ratings points for this performance:

1955IMMuzychuk MariyaUKR25037.02654265474.862.141021.4

The world is, sadly, aware of the political turmoil engulfing Ukraine for the past few months.  I find it truly amazing that people like Mariya Muzychuk and the Ukrainian athletes participating in the Winter Olympics at Sochi (where dog slaughter is a state-sanctioned sport) are able to continue doing the amazing things they do when their hearts must be filled with angst.
I'm trying to pick out the chess femmes' results (Masters' Tournament) from the final results at  Apologies if I've missed any chess femme:
2534GMZhao XueCHN25677.02566256176.750.25102.5
2677GMZhukova NataliaUKR24497.02558255375.411.591015.9
3054GMXu JunCHN25106.52612261264.701.301013.0
3484IMJavakhishvili LelaGEO24306.5259125846.54.252.251022.5
4351GMCmilyte ViktorijaLTU25156.5248924896.56.71-0.2110-2.1
4453GMHoang Thanh TrangHUN25116.5248724876.56.52-0.0210-0.2
4863WGMTan ZhongyiCHN24836.0260025995.53.901.601016.0
5376WGMGuo QiCHN24506.0253825325.54.281.221012.2
66 47GMCramling PiaSWE25256.02430243067.07-1.0710-10.7
7256GMSebag MarieFRA25016.02401240167.11-1.1110-11.1
75120WIMFuchs JudithGER23156.02378230754.050.951514.3
8059WGMPogonina NatalijaRUS24955.5251725175.55.120.38103.8
8574IMPaehtz ElisabethGER24585.5243224285.55.66-0.1610-1.6
8799IMMilliet SophieFRA23905.5241924085.54.960.54105.4
89110WIMAbdumalik ZhansayaKAZ23445.5240224025.54.650.851512.8
9281IMMunguntuul BatkhuyagMGL24385.5238523815.56.09-0.5910-5.9
9362GMStefanova AntoanetaBUL24865.5237523745.56.78-1.2810-12.8
9936GMMuzychuk AnnaSLO25665.52342234057.34-2.3410-23.4
112113WGMVojinovic JovanaSRB23355.02354233654.650.35155.3
114115WGMHoolt SarahGER23315.02345232454.710.29154.3
11795IMSavina AnastasiaRUS24025.02332232155.78-0.7810-7.8
12091IMHouska JovankaENG24155.02310230156.27-1.2710-12.7
122106WGMKochetkova JuliaSVK23515.02297228755.57-0.5715-8.6
12780IMTania SachdevIND24425.02278227356.91-1.9110-19.1
139156WGMDolzhikova OlgaNOR22035.02181218155.26-0.2615-3.9

There were 256 players.  The women listed above finished at 50% or higher in the field (I may have missed a few).  As you can see, a number of highly rated veterans, some of whom have played in this event before, didn't do too well this year.  The competition is getting tougher. We may now be passing the time when a female chessplayer can make a name for herself in the small world of chess by safely playing mostly in the ratings ghetto of female only events.  The transition period will be agonizingly painful for many players personally and to watch from afar but, like the changing economy as we work through a 21st century paradigm, it must be and will be fought through no matter what.

I do not have a breakdown of which other chess femmes won prize money, I did not see it at the official website.  However, here are items of note:

Zhao Xue (China) had led the chase for the £15,000 women's prize after her breathtaking streak of five wins between rounds five and nine but it was brought to an end in the last round when she had Black against Nikita Vitiugov. This loss left her on 7 points and she was caught on that score by Mariya Muzychuk (avove), who finished with a draw against Simen Agdestein, and Nataliya Zhukova, who did well to defeat US GM Alex Lenderman in the last round and finishing with a burst of 3/3. The tournament rule for this prestigious prize specifies that the £15,000 goes to the player with the best tournament performance rating. Mariya's was 2654 – incidentally, more than enough to qualify for a GM norm – while Zhao Xue's was 2561 and Nataliya's 2553, so the honour and money went to Mariya. It was a fitting reward for a consistently excellent result, having played six grandmasters and beaten two of them.

For the record, pairings and results for Mariya Muzychuk:

55182Kenney Jason 211200 - 10IMMuzychuk Mariya 250355
4755IMMuzychuk Mariya 250311 - 01WIMFuchs Judith 2315120
914GMLi Chao B 268021 - 02IMMuzychuk Mariya 250355
3755IMMuzychuk Mariya 250321 - 02IMWelling Gerard 2326116
106GMTomashevsky Evgeny 27153½ - ½3IMMuzychuk Mariya 250355
1655IMMuzychuk Mariya 25030 - 1GMEdouard Romain 265820
42109FMBen Artzi Ido 23440 - 1IMMuzychuk Mariya 250355
2255IMMuzychuk Mariya 25031 - 0GMSutovsky Emil 266318
1325GMSandipan Chanda 26090 - 1IMMuzychuk Mariya 250355
1155IMMuzychuk Mariya 2503½ - ½GMAgdestein Simen 262722

One remarkable feature of the tournament was the achievement of GM norms solely by female competitors – Mariya Muzychuk (Ukraine), Lela Javakishvili (Georgia) and Tan Zhongyi (China). This is quite appropriate for a tournament that prides itself on promoting and supporting women’s chess (not to mention one in which the women beat the men in the Battle of the Sexes rapidplay). Women also chalked up a number of the IM norms: Natalia Pogonina (Russia), [and] Qi Guo (China).

Last, but not least, ladies beat the dudes at some fun rapid chess:

On the evening of 1 February, there was a Battle of the Sexes rapid match between the Men (captained by Nigel Short) and the Women (captained by Viktorija Cmilyte) at a time limit of 10 minutes for all the moves plus an increment of 5 seconds a move. Photos (and not entirely serious captions) here.

The Women won the match by 2-0, with a third game (played at 10+0) played and won by the Men.

The winning team: Viktorija Cmilyte, Irina Krush, Thanh Trang Hoang, Tania Sachdev, Jovana Vojinovic, Elisabeth Paehtz, and Natalia Zhukova.

Conservation Efforts at The Villa of the Mysteries

Hola darlings!

Blizzard here today, I am home from the office.  It is horrid, absolutely horrid, outside.  Winds in excess of 50 mph and while not much snow, it is fine and gritty snow causing white-out conditions and torturing the eyes and exposed skin of any pedestrian trying to brave the elements.  This is on top of the ice storm yesterday, before the ice melted last evening and thunderstorms and the winds came.  And then, the temperature plunged again.

I came across this striking image at Archaeology Magazine online, and have to show it to you.  I am curious to see if you have the same reaction to it that I did:

(Pasquale Sorrentino)
This panel of the Dionysiac frieze depicts a seated woman, possibly the initiate. A cupid holds a mirror in which her reflection is visible.  Source

Isn't she stunning!  I cannot put my finger on it, but she reminds me of someone.  And there is such a "modern" sensibility about her.  I cannot explain why she strikes me so.  She looks like she could step out of the wall painting and be entirely at home in today's world.  I am also fascinated by her coloration.  It appears she has golden-red hair and possibly blue or light eyes.  She has very fair skin; rather a shock considering this is a fresco from Pompeii.  And the gown she is wearing.  Am I imagining it?  Doesn't it look like something out of Downton Abbey - very Edwardian?  Other women in other sections of the fresco look to be attired in pretty much what one would imagine from Roman times.

The article from which the image above is taken is about the use of some of the most modern conservation techniques (and also tried-and-true techniques) that are being employed to try and save and preserve the incredible frescoes found at Pompeii, these in particular at the Villa of the Mysteries.  When the villa was buried under the ash of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 CE, it was already over 200 years old! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 Olympics Ladies' Short Program Top Ten

Fresh off the internet, woo woo!

Place Start NumberCountry Name Total Segment Score
117KOR Yuna KIM 74.92Q
229RUS Adelina SOTNIKOVA 74.64Q
326ITA Carolina KOSTNER 74.12Q
422USA Gracie GOLD 68.63Q
627USA Ashley WAGNER 65.21Q
712USA Polina EDMUNDS 61.04Q
824JPN Akiko SUZUKI 60.97Q
928FRA Mae Berenice MEITE 58.63Q
1018GER Nathalie WEINZIERL 57.63Q

All three American skaters are in the top 10 and, theoretically, within striking distance of a medal.  We'll see.  Long program is tomorrow, I think.
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