By Katie Engelhart - Friday, January 4, 2013 - 0 Comments
A conversation with the best-ranked woman chess player
Judit Polgár is the best-ranked female chess player in history. Born in Hungary in 1976, she earned grandmaster status when she was 15. She has played, and bested, the likes of Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. She is now the only woman on the World Chess Federation’s top 100 players list. Maclean’s caught up with Polgár in London, where she was playing in the London Chess Classic.
Q: Are you nervous?
A:It’s not about being nervous. It’s about preparation.
Q: How do you prepare? Do you have a morning ritual before competitions?
A: Well, I wake up around 9:30 or 10 a.m. Then I go to the gym and have some breakfast. But then I’m preparing for my specific opponent. I study how he plays, his repertoire. You see, in chess we have styles—like in any other field. There are also fashions in the kinds of systems that people play. So I’m trying to know my opponent as much as possible. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM - 5 Comments
How sex selection of babies has led to a huge surplus of men and why that’s bad for all of us
FLUENT IN CHINESE and Spanish, Mara Hvistendahl is a Beijing-based correspondent for Science magazine and a former journalism professor at Fudan University in Shanghai. She is the author of Unnatural Selection, about how and why rampant sex-selective abortion in Asia is skewing the entire world’s gender balance.
Q: The natural sex ratio at birth, resulting in equal numbers of men and women, is 105 males to 100 females. But in Asia, that ratio has been skewed for a generation, and demographers calculate there are now over 163 million women “missing” from the continent’s population. Which countries have been most affected?
A: The areas most affected are eastern China and northwest India—the most developed parts of those nations—as well as South Korea, Taiwan and northern Vietnam. The important thing is that it’s beginning to appear in other parts of India and China.
By Stephanie Findlay - Monday, June 6, 2011 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
Where have all the girls gone?
When it comes to girls, China gets the bad rap. But it’s not the only country with an overwhelming preference for boys. The 2011 Indian census revealed that there are 7.1 million fewer girls than boys aged under seven. The sex ratio in that age group is now 914 girls to 1,000 boys, the lowest since records began in 1961. And a study released last week concluded the growing gender imbalance is a result of selective abortion of female fetuses.
The study found that selective abortion of Indian girls, especially for pregnancies after a first-born girl, has increased substantially over the past 10 years. It used to be that the phenomenon was restricted to a few northern Indian states, but it is now common throughout India’s population. Prabhat Jha, a University of Toronto professor and author of the study, says the abortions are consistent with the country’s economic development: as fertility drops and a preference for sons continues, families with the means to select the gender of their child will do so. Jha says the repercussions of the skewed ratio are glaring. “In the hardest hit places of India, they’re importing brides,” he says. “There just aren’t enough women.”
By Malcolm Gray - Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Suicide bombers bring the North Caucasus conflict to Moscow’s doorstep
They struck during Moscow’s morning rush hour. On Monday, two female suicide bombers—members of a team police say may have included as many as 30 people—ignited belts of explosives in two of the city’s subway stations, killing 39 and wounding at least 70 more. The double bombings amounted to the worst terrorist attack in the Russian capital in six years. And they raised fears that the blasts could be followed by similar attacks across the country by insurgents from Russia’s south.
Agents of the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) had an uncomfortably close perspective; the first explosion, at 7:52 a.m., occurred at Lubyanka station, underneath FSB headquarters. Another detonation, three stops further south along the same line, occurred 40 minutes later. Both underscored the intelligence failures of the bureau, the successor agency to the KGB. Earlier in March, the FSB did manage to find and kill Said Buryatsky, a Muslim convert who had rapidly become the chief ideologue of the persistent Islamic insurgency in Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus. But these bombings showed that the rebels could hit back, and that armed resistance to Moscow’s rule had now spread across five republics—Ingushetia, Dagestan, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, as well as Chechnya.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who built his enduring popularity in part through a military win in Chechnya, had characteristically tough words following the attacks—he promised to destroy those responsible. President Dmitry Medvedev took just as hard a line. “We’ll find them and we’ll eliminate them all—to dust,” he said. Medvedev had wanted to bring economic modernization and a campaign against corruption to the impoverished region. But those goals are now threatened by Kremlin hard-liners favouring a military solution. Also holding such views is Ramzan Kadyrov, the Moscow-backed Chechen strongman who has imposed a repressive regime on his republic, and called it peace. Writing in Izvestia after the bombs went off, he said: “Terrorists must be hunted down and found in their lairs; they must be poisoned like rats, crushed and destroyed.”