Friday, October 18, 2013

Checkmate! Champion chess coach poaches entire TEAM of players to new college

By David Gardner In Los Angeles

Poached: Chess champion Susan Polgar brought an entire chess team to a new university
Poached: Chess champion Susan Polgar brought an entire chess team to a new university
It’s not unusual in sport for a richer rival to prey on the best players of a competing team after they’ve found success.
But even the New York Yankees couldn’t match the check-mate move that has shocked the genteel world of chess.
For just days after winning their second consecutive national college chess title the entire Knights Raiders team has jumped ship, poached by another university.
America’s reigning chess queen, four-time world champion and five-time Olympic gold medallist Susan Polgar, masterminded the unprecedented switch.
The team coach is taking all seven of her players with her from Texas Tech to the private Webster University in St Louis, Missouri.
Brains: America¿s reigning chess queen, four-time world champion and five-time Olympic gold medallist Susan Polgar, masterminded the unprecedented switch
Brains: America¿s reigning chess queen, four-time world champion and five-time Olympic gold medallist Susan Polgar, masterminded the unprecedented switch
A chess prodigy herself, chess grand master Ms Polgar became the world’s top ranked female player when she was just 15.
Her team, all chess masters, were offered full scholarships by their new college, an offer that Texas Tech couldn’t match.
The Midwest city is also hosting the US chess championships next month and is home to a brand new 6,000 square foot chess club.
‘St Louis today is the centre of chess in America,’ Ms Polgar told the Associated Press. ‘It just seemed like a perfect fit. The university is an overall good choice for them, but it is a decision each member made individually.
Switch: The team coach is taking all seven of her players with her from Texas Tech to the private Webster University in St Louis, Missouri
Switch: The team coach is taking all seven of her players with her from Texas Tech to the private Webster University in St Louis, Missouri
‘We are one family and in that spirit they know how much I fight for them and not just about chess, but with whatever they need help with. 
‘They all are international students and it is part of my job to ensure that they find a home away from home. I am very proud and very happy for them,’ she added.
Her team consists of players from around the world, including Germany, Iran, Israel, Brazil, Hungary and Aberbaiijan
Provost Julian Schuster, a native of the former Yugoslavia who calls himself 'a very strong fan and casual player,' helped broker the deal after learning of Ms Polgar's interest through mutual friends.
Game on: Webster University provost Julian Schuster is looking forward to his new chess team
Game on: Webster University provost Julian Schuster is looking forward to his new chess team
Commitment: Schuster was instrumental in bringing the defending national champion chess team from Texas Tech to little-known Webster University near St. Louis
Commitment: Schuster was instrumental in bringing the defending national champion chess team from Texas Tech to little-known Webster University near St. Louis
He envisions a broader academic focus revolving around chess, espousing a 'dream of connecting chess as not only a game but as a didactic tool, to apply in a learning setting.'
Neither Ms Polgar nor Schuster would discuss the specifics of the financial commitment to attract the program.
About 30 schools nationwide have competitive chess teams, from Yale and Princeton to Miami-Dade College and the University of West Indies. 
And while college chess remains a niche activity, Ms Polgar's unprecedented move has given the game a brief moment in the spotlight

Playing chess helps children excel in maths

Chess is a thinking game. It is a fair game in that the player is responsible for the fate of the game and there is no other thing intervention in the game either in the form of luck or in the form of chance. One thing that can be said to be a chance or luck is nothing but the mistake of the opponent. In general, the player needs to think, analyze, visualize, plan, decide and execute a series of moves applying tactics and strategies to say “checkmate” to the opponent.
If children were taught this noble game at their tender age and encouraged to play the game, they will perform better in their academic career and outshine others – this is a finding of a research study. Many countries have introduced the game of chess as part of their school curriculum and have made it a subject or game that each child should learn and play regularly.
How the game of chess will help children perform well in mathematics? Read on….
One of the important subjects that a child is taught in his schooling days is the subject of mathematics. This is a very important subject and one needs to master it to have a better score in the examinations and also to pursue higher studies.
The importance of the subject of mathematics is that it cannot be learned by memorizing it by heart. If you are learning a subject like history or literature, then it is easy to memorize the lessons, reproduce the things memorized in the examination hall, get enough marks to promote to the next grade. You can safely forget about that subject, because history is not going to help you lead a life unless you want to choose to become a historian or an archeologist.
But that is not case with maths. You cannot just memorize the formulas of algebra, reproduce it in examination and get away. The basics of mathematics such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division needs to be understood thoroughly and will be of use during your lifetime. Memorizing the nuances of mathematics and making use of the same at times of necessity is next to impossible. One needs to understand the concept thoroughly and apply thinking to solve the problems of mathematics.
Thinking, concentration, problem-solving and analytical abilities are the pre-requisites for the game of chess as well. And the good thing is that these good skills are taught in a fun way. Children enjoy the game and as part of their play, they learn these good skills.
Understanding the concepts, applying concentration, attention and analyzing the various types of problems is what is required in mathematics.
Playing chess will not only help children perform better in mathematics, but also teach very important and invaluable lessons to the children. According to research, it has been found that playing chess helps children to develop and enhance their:
  • visual memory
  • attention span
  • spatial reasoning skills
  • capacity to anticipate events
  • capacity to predict events
  • ability to use analytical skills to make decisions, and
  • ability to evaluate alternatives.
Most of these things are used to learn and excel in the subject of mathematics and also to face the problems with confidence and lead a successful life.
Now, teaching children the game of chess and encouraging them to play the game with fun has become much easier, thanks to the advancement of technology and the increased use of the Internet. Online chess helps children learn the game in a playful way with innumerable puzzles and tutorials.
It is true that children would live to play a lot in their young age. Involving in physical exercises, games, and sports activities make their body stronger and healthier. If the game of chess is also taught to the children, their brain would also be exercised and the children will become a healthy one – both physically and mentally, filled with confidence.
76:53PM +00:00

The month Senegal were better than France -- Remembering Metsu

Posted by Michael Cox
Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty ImagesBruno Metsu and Senegal gained worldwide attention due to Les Lions' performances in the 2002 World Cup.
As World Cups go, the 2002 edition was not a classic.

A combination of stifling heat and a draining European club season combined to leave the best players woefully out of form, with joint favourites France and Argentina both departing at the group stage.

There's nothing wrong with successful underdogs, of course -- but there was a feeling that the quality throughout the competition was particularly low. Turkey and South Korea both reached the semifinals, a genuinely remarkable achievement for both -- but neither side will be remembered particularly fondly by neutrals.

Instead, the side who emerged from the tournament with their reputation most enhanced was Bruno Metsu's Senegal. In fact, their victory over France in the tournament's opening game was the most memorable contest of the entire tournament, which both underlines the disappointment of the latter stages and what an enormous shock it was for Senegal to defeat the defending champions.

France, of course, had won the World Cup on home soil in 1998, and proved it wasn't a fluke by winning the European championship two years later. Metsu, a Frenchman, considered them almost invincible.

"They have the best team, made up of the best players," he told World Soccer magazine before the start of the competition. "They are really exceptional, and don’t seem to have any weaknesses. At the top, most teams have one, two or three superb players, but France has a whole team full of superb players. I honestly do not see who could beat them."

Many were speaking about Senegal as something like France's B team. Patrick Vieira, of course, was a Senegalese-born midfielder who opted to play for a significantly stronger France side -- and although not all of Senegal's squad were eligible to represent France, 21 of the 23-man squad played their football in Ligue 1, with the two reserve goalkeepers the only exceptions.

Metsu, despite his belief in France's strength, was insistent about his side's quality. "People are saying we are like a French reserve team. Listen, we have quality players, players who are good enough to get into the full French squad." It seemed a particularly optimistic observation.

However, Senegal were a genuinely impressive outfit. Metsu took charge when Senegal were winless in their qualification group, but they went on a tremendous run of form to qualify ahead of Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, considerably more experienced sides. They also reached the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations final, where they were defeated by Cameroon on penalties. Still, some bookmakers had France as 4-1 favourites for the World Cup, and Senegal 300-1 outsiders.

Metsu had Senegal organised, but he also had them motivated and confident. "Above all, I try to make the players feel as confident as possible; I talk very little to them about their opponents, a little bit at the beginning of the week of the match, then nothing other than to point out their weaknesses," he said.

The use of video footage was particularly prominent in his preparation for the game against France. "There are coaches who emphasize the opponents to such an extent that the players come onto the pitch feeling frightened. I use videos a lot; before the opening match against France, I showed the players all Le Bleus' weakness. I never spoke of the qualities possessed by Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet or Emmanuel Petit ... the players knew them already."

Sure enough, there was a fearlessness about Senegal -- they were tactically disciplined but clearly unafraid of France. Playing in a defensive-minded, counterattacking 4-1-4-1 formation, Senegal were up for the challenge.

Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesPapa Bouba Diop's game-winning goal against France was arguably the biggest surprise of the 2002 World Cup.
The only goal was extremely scrappy -- Papa Bouba Diop firing in from on his backside, after a mix-up in the French defence. "It wasn't a pretty goal," admitted Metsu. Still, it was a perfect demonstration of three things Senegal did excellently.

First, they won the ball quickly in midfield by pressing France. Slightly lost without either Zinedine Zidane or Robert Pires through injury, France were ponderous in possession, and were repeatedly forced into quick turnovers because of the vigorous closing down from Diop, Aliou Cisse and Salif Diao.

Second, they transferred the ball forward quickly to El-Hadji Diouf in the channels. Strange as it might seem today, Diouf was genuinely magnificent at this point -- the reigning African Footballer of the Year, he'd already been snapped up by Liverpool for 10 million pounds. He spent the match roaming the channels, pulling the Chelsea pensioners of Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf out of position, before attacking in behind them. Desailly, Lebouef, Vieira and Petit were all forced into fouls, while Diouf was flagged offside an incredible 12 times -- illustrating his strategy, even if it was a damning indictment of his inability to time runs. Nevertheless, for long periods, it was Diouf against France.

Third, they got midfield runners into the box. Diouf was brilliant with his movement out wide, but not consistently a goal threat, and Diop provided the finish -- the first of his three goals in the competition.

The players were fantastic, but Metsu -- with his relaxed demeanour and his confident but measured postmatch comments -- attracted most attention. Frankly, we were still trying to get our head around the two Camaras, the two Diops and the three N'Diayes plus Daf, Diouf, Diao and Diallo. With his distinctive Carles Puyol-esque hair on the sidelines, Metsu was the symbol of Senegal.

"It is like a dream -- not a miracle, though," he said.


Next up, Senegal faced Denmark, who had won their opening match against Uruguay. This contest was played in midafternoon in Daegu, at 32 degrees Celsius -- such ridiculous conditions for a World Cup match that the Danes had unsuccessfully appealed for the kickoff time to be moved, fearing Senegal would acclimatise better.

However, Denmark were the better side throughout the first half, going ahead with a Jon Dahl Tomasson penalty. Senegal’s approach was exactly the same as against France, with Diouf taking just two minutes to be flagged offside, but they needed to be more proactive.

Therefore, at halftime Metsu made a bold double substitution -- throwing on forwards Souleymane Camara and Henri Camara for winger Moussa N’'Diaye and central midfielder Papa Sarr. Senegal switched from 4-1-4-1 to more of a 4-2-1-3, and dominated the second half.

Their equaliser, scored by Salif Diao, was arguably the goal of the tournament. A 13-second counterattack took Senegal from a tackle in their right-back zone to the opposition penalty area -- courtesy of two first-time passes and a fine assist from Khalilou Fadiga. This time the goal was beautiful, and again it summed up Senegal -- direct, powerful, energetic and wonderfully cohesive.

"In the second half, with three strikers, Senegal were very dangerous," admitted Danish coach Morten Olsen.

Confidence was rising. Diao, later sent off, underlined the belief throughout the Senegal squad. "We think all the time about the Cameroon run in 1990 [to the quarterfinals], and anything is possible now," he said. "The problem in Africa has been that we have not had the discipline of European players. Now the Senegalese and many other Africans are in Europe, and they have that mentality to play for a win, that only victory counts."


Senegal's final group game was against Uruguay; a draw would see them progress, a defeat would probably send them out. During the first half, they produced probably their best spell of football under Metsu, leading a decent Uruguayan side 3-0 at halftime thanks to a penalty from Fadiga, and two from Diop, bursting forward from midfield yet again.

At this point, Senegal were cruising through. But then, astonishingly, Metsu's side managed to let a three-goal lead slip. A double halftime substitution from his opposite number, Victor Pua, was crucial -- substitutes Richard Morales and Diego Forlan both scored, before Alvaro Recoba converted a penalty with two minutes remaining. Suddenly, one more concession and Senegal were out.

Amazingly, Morales contrived to miss a simple late header, and Senegal progressed. A British journalist described it as "one of the most dramatic games in World Cup history." Sadly, most of the world didn't see this game -- they were instead glued to France’s match against Denmark, wondering whether the reigning holders and pretournament favourites would crash out at the opening stage. They did, failing to score a goal in their three matches.

"It is a historic day for Senegal -- it was engrossing, moving, difficult and it was a fantastic spectacle," said Metsu. "I'm really pleased to have made it to the last 16, and now we want to create a wonderful story for African football."


The second-round match, against Sweden, was a slow-burning game lit up with a couple of moments of brilliance from Henri Camara, who scored both goals -- including a fine golden goal winner. In fact, this game probably saw the best "golden goal" period in its brief usage in World Cup football -- it was frantic, end-to-end stuff.

Again Senegal rode their luck -- a superb spin-and-shot from Anders Svensson was inches away from sealing Sweden's progression, but Senegal fans would point out that Diop was denied his fourth goal of the tournament because of a wrong offside flag earlier in the game.

Now Senegal really believed in their chances. Diouf, in particular, had an interesting message. "Today we are representing Senegal, Africa, but also France," he said. For Metsu, who had rarely distinguished himself in his home country but now found himself as France's only representative in the competition, that was particularly true.


Then came the quarterfinal against Turkey. This was as far as an African side had ever gone in the World Cup, and Senegal were being spoken of as a genuine World Cup winner, given the exits of many major contenders.

Unfortunately, their performance at this stage was extremely poor. There was one near-miss, after 17 minutes when Camara somehow managed to block a goal-bound shot from an offside position, but while Turkey took until extra time to score, with Ilhan Mansiz's fine strike, they fully deserved the victory.

The strange feature of the game was Metsu's insistence upon keeping his starting XI on the pitch for the duration, even into extra time.

In a tournament played at extraordinarily high temperatures, with games coming thick and fast, and considering his excellent use of the bench previously, it was a peculiar decision, and remains something of a mystery. There was a surprising level of criticism for the performance in the Senegalese press, but one player pointedly hit back. "In ten years' time, they will look back on this as the golden age of Senegalese football," he said.

Later, Metsu would hint that his squad became overconfident, believing in their own hype too much. "Ahead of our quarter-final against Turkey, the press started to talk about us reaching the semis, which perhaps indirectly affected our determination," he told a decade later. That element of complacency was certainly glimpsed against Uruguay in the group stage.

Senegal were out, but their achievement in reaching the quarterfinal was rightly celebrated. They'd equalled the best ever achievement by an African side, and had recorded arguably the greatest one-off shock in World Cup history with the win over France.

"Yes, we lost to Turkey, but if we made any mistakes they were down to the errors of youth and over-enthusiasm," said Metsu after the defeat. "I take my hat off to the players, not just as players but as men. They are marvellous men and it is no wonder everyone has fallen in love with them."


The tournament seemed to signal the emergence of Senegal as a genuine international force, and introduced a raft of talented footballers set to have a major impact at club level. Yet neither has occurred -- Senegal haven't qualified for a World Cup since, and while no fewer than 11 footballers from the 2002 squad ended up joining Premier League clubs, few were genuinely successful. It demonstrates what a magnificent job Metsu performed with, in hindsight, a relatively limited group.

Perhaps the key to Metsu's success was how totally he embraced his new country -- he later married a Senegalese woman and converted to Islam, changing his name to Abdullah Metsu.

"I've seen a number of European coaches and even Frenchmen fail in Qatar, the UAE or Africa because they arrive very sure of themselves and want to apply principles imported from Europe," he once said. "It doesn't work. We should not forget that we are brought in to serve the players, to take their environment and habits into account in order to increase efficiency on the pitch."

He spent the remainder of his career in the Middle East, winning the AFC Champions League in 2003, and the Gulf Cup of Nations with the UAE in 2007. Nevertheless, he was forever linked to Senegal, and was linked with a return to their managerial role in 2012.

He was diagnosed with cancer last year. "I have learned a lot about myself and family values," he told L'Equipe in July. "Today, I can watch my children grow up and I have had nine months of happiness at their side and it's so much better than football." He also spoke of taking great inspiration from the story of Eric Abidal.

He died earlier this week, at just 59. Perhaps the most telling tribute came from one of the 2002 heroes, Souleymane Camara. "More than a coach, he was a big brother to us," he said. "What I liked about him above all was that when we needed to work, we worked, but when we needed to have fun, we had fun too." At the 2002 World Cup, Metsu’s Senegal provided the fun.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Haj enters final stage with stoning ritual | Business Standard

Haj enters final stage with stoning ritual | Business Standard

It been a year today Missed the

Haj enters final stage with stoning ritual

Over a million Muslims, including more than a lakh Indians, today participated in the symbolic stoning of the devil in Mina Valley of , the final stage of the annual Haj pilgrimage.

The pilgrims converged in Mina Valley to hurl stones at concrete pillars representing the devil. The ritual began early this morning and sizeable numbers of pilgrims, wearing the ihram or two-piece seamless white garment, participated throughout the day.

The ritual is meant to mirror Ibrahim's stoning of the devil when he appeared to try to dissuade the prophet from obeying God's order to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Eid-ul-Azha is celebrated to commemorate the bravery of Ibrahim.

After offering prayers at Mount Arafat yesterday, pilgrims travelled to nearby Muzdalifa to collect stones for the ritual in Mina Valley, located on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca.

Early this morning, they began assembling in Mina for the stoning ritual, which has been marred in the past by stampedes and fires in tent camps.

To overcome these problems, Saudi authorities have expanded the stoning area to accommodate more pilgrims and fire-proofed the tents.

About 1.5 million pilgrims are performing the Haj this year. Some 100,200 Indians are among 1.38 million Muslims from 188 countries who have converged in Saudi Arabia.

The total figure is almost half the 3.2 million, including 1.75 million foreigners from 190 countries, who performed the pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's holiest site, last year.

Saudi Arabia reduced the number of foreign pilgrims by 21 per cent this year and cut permits for domestic pilgrims by over 50 per cent over fears linked to the MERS respiratory virus and due to projects to expand the capacity of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Even as the Haj entered its final stage, Muslims in some countries, including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and the tribal belt of Pakistan, celebrated Eid-ul-Azha.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Think you’re about to be fired? Here’s how to stay three moves ahead of your employer

A few discreet moves can help you later if you believe your employer is about to dismiss you.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty ImagesA few discreet moves can help you later if you believe your employer is about to dismiss you.
When is employment law like a chess match? When you have to think three moves ahead.
That’s typically the advice for executives who, though they have not been terminated either expect to be, or believe they have been constructively dismissed.
How the employee reacts to these situations can make the difference between checkmate and stalemate. If you are still working, you have definite advantages, including access to people and information.
Here are some tips to help you make the right moves:
Don’t jump to conclusions Too many senior employees draw unwarranted conclusions. For example, employees who are transferred or provided new responsibilities often feel shunted aside — their previous contributions and service disregarded. Yet, the employer may, instead, be placing great faith in the employee, giving them new or additional responsibilities.
If you are in this situation don’t immediately resign, instead sit down with your employer and discuss the reasons for the changes and what might lie ahead. If the explanation is acceptable, then the employment relationship has been repaired and any misapprehensions eliminated.
If it turns out it is a demotion, then you know where you stand and you have a stronger constructive dismissal case. At the very least, this dialogue prevents the employer concocting a less culpable explanation later.
Retain relevant documents If you are still working but feel your dismissal is pending, use the opportunity to discreetly take home copies of relevant memoranda or financial information to rebut any allegations your employer may make against you.
When I proffer this advice, some say, technically accurately,  “If it is relevant the employer must produce it in the litigation process.”
Without casting aspersions on employers, most of whom obey the rules, evidence can be deleted inadvertently, innocently overwritten, lost through normal business processes or simply not located given the volume of electronic and paper transactions. If there is a large volume of material, it should be done discreetly over a few days. I don’t recommend emailing such information to your house (or lawyer’s office) because that can easily be detected. And be careful that the information you take home is not used for any other purposes. If it is, for example, used for competitive purposes it constitutes cause for dismissal and would be fatal to any claim for wrongful or constructive dismissal.
Record important meetings Although I rarely recommend this, it is not illegal to record a meeting or telephone call in which you participate. It is sometimes useful to record an important call or meeting. With smartphones, the technology is readily available and raises no suspicion. How and when to use such evidence is up to your lawyer. If litigation ensues the recording must be produced.
Put nothing in writing without your legal advisor’s input Where the employee’s feelings have been hurt, there is an inclination to lash out and write seething denunciations of the employer’s actions. Although cathartic, it may seal the employee’s fate and the judge’s potential sympathy. Harsh words can cause irreparable harm to the relationship and provoke your dismissal when that had not been the employer’s intention.
Above all, do not resign. If you have correctly adduced the employer’s intention, why forfeit the severance pay?