Interview with Rumen Bachev and Stefan Piperov on 1st and 2nd IYPTs

Rumen Bachev and Stefan Piperov, early Bulgarian participants at 1st IYPT (1988) and 2nd IYPT (1989), unveil details and shed much light on the events. Remaining still unclear is the status of the 1st IYPT, and if a formal international ranking has been announced in early April 1988.

Rumen Bachev (b. 1971 in Sofia, Bulgaria) graduated in 1994 from Sofia University and earned his PhD from the Institute of Astronomy in Sofia in 2003. He works currently at the University of Alabama and at the Institute of Astronomy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Stefan Piperov (b. ca. 1971) graduated in 1995 from Sofia University and got a PhD in High Energy Physics from Humboldt University, Germany. He now works between Fermilab, CERN, and the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Download: Young Physicists’ Tournament: regulations and problems for 10th Moscow, the all-Soviet and the International Young Physicists’ Tournaments (Moscow, 1988), a 18-page booklet in Russian photocopied from sheets printed with mechanical typewriter, provided by Soviet organizing committee in 1988, and preserved by Rumen Bachev (pdf.)

I. M. A recently traced paper in Gift. Tal. Int’l gives your names as a Bulgarian participants in 1989, winning gold at the competition.

R. B. Indeed, I participated in the Young Physicists Tournament some 20 years ago! Actually I was a part of the Bulgarian team twice – in 1988 and 1989 (can’t be sure for the months). The second time we indeed won a gold medal, together with another foreign team (forgot which one). So, it will be a pleasure to answer your questions, as long as I can remember the details.

S. P.Yes, I was one of the participants in the Bulgarian team of IYPT both in 1988 and 1989 (and was probably even the captain of the team :)

I. M. It is fantastic that you were participants in 1988, because while some details are known for 1989, the 1988 still looks very obscure. Did you possibly preserve problems, notes, diplomas or photographs from the 1988 and 1989 events?

R. B. Yes, I believe I did. Let see when I return back home. Photographs I keep for sure.

S. P. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of the events, but my classmates and friends from the team surely keep some still. I’ll ask them.

I. M. Could you suggest if you remember on your diplomas or elsewhere the IYPT logo with horses and knights? I am checking when the logo was re-drawn into the version that it commonly used today.

R. B. I remember the logo and think it was present since the beginning (1988). But will double check.

I. M. Were you preparing any visual aids for your reports, like paper posters or transparencies, in 1988 and 1989?

R. B. I guess there were posters (not transparencies) but can’t be positive.

I. M. According to your impressions, most reports at the YPT were theoretical or there were many teams performing good experiments?

R. B.There were both but don’t remember many details.


S. P. In 1988 there was no formal competition in Bulgaria. It was only our team formed – for a very first time – in our “very special” high school, that participated straight into the finals in Moscow. There, we were not part of the “official” ranking, since we did not participate in the earlier – National – rounds. Nevertheless we played against the other team as equals. Just were rakned separately. If memory serves me right, we were the winners of the “international” part of the competition. There was an official winner of the “regular” competition, which was from a Moscow school, I believe, but I do not remember the name.

I. M. Can you suggest if you know people who represented Bulgaria in 1988, the year before you? (Unlike 1989, even winners for 1988 are uncertain.)

R. B. Ok, let see. Some of the people participating both years were:

  • Me – Rumen Bachev
  • Stefan Piperov
  • Nikolay Nikolov

Other people attending once or twice (can’t be sure):

  • Georgy Ognianov
  • Chavdar Chavdarov
  • Ivaylo …

.. perhaps somebody else. I can’t be sure, though, which year the other guys attended the Tournament. Two other people were with us – our physics teacher Liudmil Vasilev and another “Komsomol” guy – Jan Videnov, who later became a prime minister of Bulgaria for some time.

In 1988, I believe, we – perhaps as foreign guests – were not officially graded, so an USSR team must had been be the winner.

I. M. The experience of your team is extremely interesting. When you first heard of the IYPT, and how did your team organize preparation?

R. B. Can’t say for sure. In the school perhaps. We were studying in a high-level physics and math-oriented high school, so the first year they just picked up some people from our physics class. During the second year there was, however, a competition between several schools. We won and attended again.

I. M. Were you speaking Russian or English at the competition?

R. B. Russian. Some of the other foreign teams (Hungary, Austria, I believe) had interpreters.

I. M. What problem did your team report at the Finals, if you have participated at any?

R. B. I can’t be sure. When I check what I preserved I might have some more clear ideas about the problems.

I. M. There is a brochure published in 1996 which says (page 9) that in 1988 the gold winner was “USSR”, the silver winner was “USSR-Latvia”, while Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia won bronze.

R. B. This for sure is not correct, as long as our team is concerned. We did not participate in the final grading and won no medals.

I. M. This source also says that in 1988 there were 4 teams from 3 countries.

R. B. As I recall there indeed were only a few international teams (probably 2) and many other USSR teams.

I. M. I found and contacted two years ago with Yury Yufryakov, who represented a team from Moscow School 542 and (plausibly) was a winner among Soviet teams in 1988. By that time I was still unaware of the Czech paper and only had some late hearsay accounts. Yury is strongly convinsed that there was no international competition at all, and meetings with non-Soviet teams were like “friendly sessions”. Despite that, there were some accounts which claimed that Yury’s team was “a gold winner in 1988″, which Yury strongly disagrees with.

R. B. I fully agree with him.

I. M. I need to explain why I dig that much into details of 1988. There were many articles published in late 1990s where information on 1988-1992 appeared questionable and unreliable. For example, there are sources claiming that the winners in 1988 were Poland and Soviet Union.

R. B. Again, that is not correct. There might have been competition between the Soviet teams, but no international team participated in the grading.

I. M. Andrzej Nadolny (Polish teamleader in 1989) convinced me that there was no Polish team at all in 1988.

R. B. I would also say so, but can’t be positive.

I. M. Can you suggest if Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia were indeed the only teams outside USSR in 1988? (We really need to double check this information.)

R. B. Quite possible. I remember we were not the only foreign team at that time, but there were very few, perhaps two. Can’t be positive about Czechs though.

I. M. Can you confirm that the problems published in Kvant in August 1987 were in fact what you were discussing at the event?

S. P. Going through the excellent compilation of links that you’ve sent, I can say that I fully recognize the set of Problems for 1988. I remember very well our team building the “vechpriemnik” in two versions: one that used solar power and a tiny piezzo-speaker driven by an ingenuitive FM-radio, and another powered by a hand-crank generator. Also – the rest of the problems I recall pretty well. I myself worked extensively on the 4-color TV (problem #8), and Nikolay Nikolov made several excellent early-morning photos of the Sun for the Sunset Problem (#7).

I. M. Do you know if any articles on Bulgarian participation were published in Bulgarian journals?

R. B. Not that I know of.

I. M. Can you suggest that in 1988 and/or in 1989 your team played together with more-than-few Soviet teams throughout all selective stages? For 1989, the paper in Kvant suggests that possibly there was a pre-selection among Soviet teams before they could join “international” rounds and play with your team. For 1988, it is not very clear.

R. B. Can’t be positive, but we probably participated throughout the selective stages. However a pre-selection among the Soviet teams might have existed.

I. M. I contacted in September 2009 with Igor Nosov, who represented a team from Ashgabat. He recalls playing and discussing incandenscent bulbs with a Bulgarian team just at the selective fights.

R. B. This I remember for sure, we had to compete with someone on this problem.

I. M. Would it be possible to kindly ask you to have a look on the interview with Yury Yufryakov to detect mistakes or inaccuracies? Do you possibly remember opposing or reviewing his computer-aided report on the Ninth Wave?

R. B. He is very specific and shares many details that I can’t recall much about. No, I have no memories on the 9-th wave problem competition even if I believe was the one to work mostly on this problem.

S. P. Going through the photos on your page, I can certainly recognize this person. He was one of the organizers, wasn’t he? Unfortunately I cannot recall his name.

I. M. Yes, his name is Evgeny Yunosov and he was the key organizer of the event, often credited as also the author of the IYPT concept.


S. P. In 1989, there was a National round in Bulgaria, which our team – only slightly modified from the year before – won, and then went to the Finals in Moscow, where we won the gold.

I. M. Concerning the 1989, there is a detailed paper on 1989, confirming that you won gold together with the German team.

R. B. It is quite possible the second team was the german one.

I. M. The problems for 1989 were published in August 1988, and even translated into English for (at least) the Dutch team, as Hans Jordens informed me. However, there is now some evidence that the problems were changed in the very last moment, with 9 tasks fully replaced. Do you recollect the problems and could you comment on this point?

R. B. I must have at home the original problems that we had to prepare in advance. If I recall correctly at some point we were told that we shouldn’t prepare all the problems but only a part of them. In any case not all the problems from the journal look familiar to me, but all of those I remember are there. Except for one, perhaps, about the highest altitude a mosquito can fly.

S. P. The problems from 1989 also [as for 1988] seem very familiar – from beginning to end.
I remember working on the “Figuryj Hladni (#5), Soap bubble (#6), Flash (#13) and Triboluminscence (#14), and also on “Information” (#16). And, to answer you concern, I can say that the version in Kvnat is what
we prepared for. I do not see any discrepancies.

S. P. I will gladly answer your further questions, if you have any, since the Tournament still holds a special place in my heart, so many years later!

I. M. Many thanks for your very detailed and helpful answers! Your corrections and commentaries are among very few first-hand sources on 1988 that we have. The brochure scanned by Rumen is great (there are detailed regulations, description etc., all we have never saw before)!

S. P. I want to include [in the correspondence] our then teacher and later professor in the University, who organized our participation in the Tournament – Prof. Ljudmil Vassilev from Sofia University. I’m CC’ing him, so that you can have his email for further questions. By the way, when I saw him lately, he was preparing a young new team from Bulgaria for this year’s edition of the ITYP (T.Yu.F.), so perhaps he
can bring in some fresh news ;)

Artifacts from Rumen Bachev’s private archive

The interview with Rumen Bachev was primarily taken on March 19-20, 2010. The interview with Stefan Piperov was primarily taken on April 10-12, 2010. Updates, fact checking, and document scanning by Rumen Bachev, were completed between October 6 and October 25, 2010.

Sergei Katsev speaks on 5th IYPT, 4th all-Soviet YPT, and shares original photos and printed documents

Sergei Katsev, now a researcher at the University of Minessota-Duluth, was a team member in gold co-winning Belarusian team at the 5th IYPT (1992) and an early Belarusian participant at the 4th all-Soviet YPT (1991). He corroborates  important information on the 5th IYPT, and unveils untraceable earlier documents and details, including the Russian problem set for 1992.

Sergei Katsev (b. 1975) graduated in 1998 from Belarusian State University and earned his PhD in 2002 from the University of Ottawa. He is now assistant professor at Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minessota-Duluth, focusing on sediment-water interfaces in natural and anthropogenic aquatic environments, and writing about his daily experiences in an LJ blog.

Download: two-page Russian text of the problems, without title, printed with a dot matrix printer, provided by Russian organizing committee in 1992 (pdf.)

Download: three-page brochure with the schedule of the 4th all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournament (Odessa, April 11-18, 1991), in Russian, photocopied from typewriter printed pages (pdf.)

I. M. Can you suggest if the problem set included into the 1992 paper by Leonid Markovich was indeed discussed during the 5th IYPT, or some problems were at a certain moment replaced? The tricky point is that problems are different among different sources (one version has a problem about lifting ping-pong ball instead of “Dam” (No. 3) and an additional 18th problem about “Superpreserves”; one version has 24 problems overall; and one more version replaces No. 6 “Matches” with a problem about height of a flame.)

S. K. I am pleased to hear that someone is still interested by those Physics Fights.

Seemingly, the problems are perfectly correct. There was certainly “Dam”, and no balls for ping-pong. Matches were there as well.

Concerning the 18th problem, to invite us for a Napoleon cognac, Markovich has never ended up with clearly formulating the issue :-)

I. M. Did you possibly preserve photos, leaflets or notes from 1992? What problem did you report in the Finals?

S. K. I certainly have something at my home. I can scan it for history :-)

Maxim Zaitsev and I reported “Fountain” at the Finals. The most work was performed by Maxim, and I only assisted him.

I dug into my archives and found the tasks in Russian. There are no pictures from the Tournament itself, but there is a picture of the entire team taken at the graduation party (from the Lyceum of Belarusian State University), including persons who worked on the problems, but could not go to the competition, because only 6 persons in a team were permitted.

Left to right are (with participants marked with *): Misha Khusid (*), Dima Chigrin (*), Sergei Lyapko, Leonid Markovich (team leader), Maxim Zaitsev (*, captain), Sergei Katsev (*), Alexander Klimovich (*), Dima Bogomolov, Maxim Chechetkin, Shura Bernstein (*).

The only one missing is Roma Loznikov, who constructed a train on magnetic suspension for the first problem.

I have also copies of a report for “Boiling”, schedule for the all-Soviet Tournament in Odessa in 1991, and a group photo from Odessa with three or four teams altogether.

Here is the Minsk team, several people from Odessa, and members of several more teams, but I do not already remember who is from where. I remember only the name, Irina, of a team leader from one of these two teams. Next to her is Leonid Markovich, our team leader.

It would be interesting to trace how many participants of the Tournaments of those days continued to work in physics. Out of six players in our team, three are directly connected to physics (besides me, Dima Chigrin and Max Zaitsev work at German universities), and one resides in Belarus (Klimovich.) Misha Khusid and Shurik Bernstein graduated from MIT, but Misha works now as an engineering manager, and Shurik decided to devote his life to travels worldwide.

I. M. Many thanks.

The interview was primarily taken on September 28-29, 2009 and on October 8, 2010.

Interview with Yaroslav Chinskiy on 6th IYPT, 1993 YPT of CIS, Ukrainian YPT

Yaroslav Chinskiy, member of Odessa teams in 1993, clarifies organizational details of 6th IYPT and post-Soviet selective competitions.

Yaroslav Chinskiy got team silver (2nd place overall) at the 6th IYPT, team silver (3rd place overall) at the 1993 all-Ukrainian YPT, and participated at the post-Soviet CIS tournament in Fryazino in 1993, representing the Richelieu Lyceum, Odessa and Ukraine. He studied physics at Odessa National Ilya Mechnikov University and got a degree in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in 2000. Yaroslav is now credit derivatives team lead at the Electronic Broking division of ICAP North America Inc.

I. M. When did you first learn about the IYPT?

Ya. Ch. We knew about IYPT. Our school, the Richelieu Lyceum, was represented in earlier tournaments and we had a goal to reach IYPT level as well.

I. M. Who were members of your team at the IYPT?

Ya. Ch. It was a fascinating time! In 1993, our team consisted of:

  • Roman (Odessa School 117)
  • Alexander (Richelieu Lyceum)
  • Alex Nikitin (Odessa School 117)
  • Vadim Neselovskiy (Richelieu Lyceum), vadimneselovskyi.com
  • and me

Only Roman and Alexander continued further work in physics.

I. M. In what non-Ukrainian YPT-related events, besides the 6th IYPT, have you taken part?

Ya. Ch. I took part in the 6th IYPT in Protvino and in a Tournament held in Fryazino in 1993. I believe that our team leader Sergey Kolos took part in earlier tournaments.

I. M. What was the Tournament in Fryazino? A selective local Russian competition, or…?

Ya. Ch. That was the 1st post-USSR tournament that replaced All-Soviet YPT. I saw a few references to it here: school1.fryazino.net

I. M. Can you recall what were the results of your team at the YPT in Fryazino in 1993?

Ya. Ch. Unfortunately, I don’t remember.

I. M. Am I not mistaken that the YPT in Fryazino and the all-Ukrainian YPT in Odessa were separate events? Thus, you have taken part at All-Ukrainian YPT in Odessa in 1993, Fryazino YPT for post-Soviet teams in 1993, and 6th IYPT in Protvino in 1993?

Ya. Ch. You are correct.

I. M. How much time did your team have for preparation to 6th IYPT? Did you have any joint preparatory meetings between Richelieu Lyceum and School 117 in 1993?

Ya. Ch. The combined team emerged after the UYPT which happened in the spring of 1993. So we had a few months to prepare. I believe that before IYPT we played only one tournament as a team which was held in Fryazino.

I. M. Was there a selection for the Ukrainian national team?

Ya. Ch. The team was selected based on the results of the All-Ukrainian YPT. I believe that team from hs. 117 won and we (Richeleu Lyceum) took 3rd place.

I. M. Were there any other Ukrainian teams at the 6th IYPT? Alexander Morozov says no, but a Czech source mentions a team from Luhansk (somehow saying it was a Russian, not Ukrainian team.)

Ya. Ch. There was some controversy regarding Luhansk. I do not remember the details and can not confirm their presence on the 6th IYPT.

I. M. Am I right that the key organizer of Ukrainian local tournaments was Valery Koleboshin?

Ya. Ch. Yes. He was and remains one of the key figures in UYPT.

I. M. Can you identify what problems were discussed by Georgian and Hungarian teams in the Final Fight? Seemingly, it was “Dominoes” by Georgia, and “Gagarin’s record” by your team. Can you recall what Hungarians reported?

Ya. Ch. I recall that Georgian team presented “Dominoes” but I do not remember any other details about the Final.

I. M. Who was the Reporter, the Opponent and the Reviewer at the Final fight from the Ukrainian team?

Ya. Ch. I am not 100% sure. I assume that Roman was the reporter, Alexander was the opponent and Vadim was the reviewer. I think that Roman received a personal achievement award as well.

I. M. Can you recall the situations of teams speaking English, not Russian? Alexander recalls that once he personally interpreted for the Dutch team at a Physics Fight.

Ya. Ch. The language of the 6th IYPT was Russian. So the foreign teams had to rely on the interpreters. I recall that Alexander was interpreting for some of the teams. I am not sure if it was Dutch.

I. M. Is there a chance that diplomas, photos or any other documents may survived in your archives?

Ya. Ch. I should have the diploma. I will forward you a copy.

I. M. Can you reveal any details that might have appeared inaccurate in our discussion with Alexander?

Ya. Ch. There are few mistakes about the team. The team was comprised for 3 students from each school. Roman and Alex Nikitin were from 117 and were in the winning team. I do not recall the name of the 3rd person from School 117. The Lyceum was represented by Alexander, Vadim Neselovskiy and me. We were classmates and members of the same UYPT team.

I. M. Did Evgeny Yunosov personally host the Finals or make talks at the Opening or Closing ceremonies in 1993?

Ya. Ch. Evgeny Yunosov played the key role. I do not remember the details of the ceremonies, but he was there.

I. M. We still have troubles with the Russian version of the problems for 1993 (although several translations have been found.) Do you possibly have a copy, or can advise who might have preserved it?

Ya. Ch. I am sure there is a copy and all the stats available in the Richelieu Lyceum (www.rl.odessa.ua). You should contact Valery Yakovlevich Koleboshin.

I. M. Many thanks for your help.

The interview was primarily taken between August 27 and September 2, 2009, with minor updates and fact checking made on May 27, 2010.

Interview with Mikhail Goryaev and Sergei Sokolin on Physics Fights in 1960s

Historical IYPT interviews — ilyamartch @ 11:35 am

>New evidence is found that the Physics Fights (fizboi) existed in the Soviet Union as early as in 1965. They already relied on defending reports before opponents and jurors, but still had theoretical tasks to be solved immediately and no long-term research problems. Details on organization and highlights of these events are unveiled by participant Mikhail Goryaev and history amateur Sergei Sokolin.

Mikhail Goryaev (b. 1949 in Arkhangelsk) graduated in 1972 from the Department of Physics at Leningrad State University, defended a PhD in technical sciences at the Vavilov State Optical Institute in 1977 and a Russian habilitation degree of doktor nauk in technical sciences in 2000. He is now a professor at the division of Physical Electronics at the State Russian Herzen Pedagogical University in St Petersburg.

Sergei Sokolin (b. 1952) graduated in 1975 from the Department of Mathematics at Leningrad State University. He works now in the computer games industry and has published a detailed research survey on developments of science competitions for secondary school students, focusing on Olympiads and Mathematics Fights.

S. S. I read your message with much interest. As an author, I am very pleased that my note on Olympiads is of interest for someone. It would be my pleasure to help you more, but I always liked mathematics, never understood physics and never took part in physics competitions, with almost no relevant memories left after graduation from Physico-Mathematical School 45 in 1970.

My note on competitions in the SPbGU magazine was born quite occasionally. When visiting the Akademicheskaya Gimnaziya building on Kakhovskogo in early 2008 to meet my teacher Nina Kirovna Gutkova (who teaches there since 1964!), I visited the school museum, which is now run by Nina Kirovna.

I noticed mistakes in the list of winners of International Olympiads on one of the posters in the museum (after moving to Peterhof in early 1980s, after many teachers leaving the school, changing the focus to humanities, passing though the time of troubles in 1990s when no one took care of anything, it ended up that full materials on winners at Olympiads were missing.) “It would be nice to recover these materials”, Nina Kirovna said. It was the 45th anniversary of the school, and I wanted to help Nina Kirovna, because her museum work in collecting materials on the school’s history does not meet much encouragement from the principals. So I agreed.

I must note that I never was active with Olympiads after school, and unfortunately said farewell to mathematics a long ago, so I had to start from the very beginning. I looked through Kvant publications, but it has been issued since 1970, with no information on 1963-1970. I started searching graduates and inquire them. Kvant was sufficient to complete lists of our winners at international Olympiads in physics and mathematics, but I became more motivated and found memories from “old” Olympians… Meantime, a group of graduates led by Mikhail Alexandrovich Goryaev (gold medalist in 1966 who taught physics for 12 years in the Internat, now a professor at Herzen University) decided to prepare a small book of materials on the Internat’s history. I was planning to write a note for this book, relying on the collected materials. The note was written, but no book was published on time (to the Anniversary), so Nina Kirovna promoted the note to be published in the Anniversary issue of SPbGU magazine, which you have read.

I. M. Could you recall any details from the Physics Fights that you attended in 1960s?

S. S. I can vaguely recall a single Physics Fight, among teams of classes 8a and 8b in the school year 1967-68 at the Internat 45. I was there as an observer.

There were exactly two teams, and no problems were known in advance. The teams challenged each other to present the solutions, in turn. The “challenging” team was nominating a participant who reviewed the presentation, and could have earned points only if he found drawbacks in the solution of opponent. The same participant presented their solution and earned points if the “challenged” team had no solution. The “challenging” team could easily lose points, if they were found to have no solution (I remember a similar case at the Mathematics Fight among the same classes. The “challenged” team did not solve the problem, so the representative of “challengers” had to present their solution, but his solution was erroneous. )

The problems were not research-oriented, but normal, typical at written Olympiads. Quite strangely, I can approximately recall one of these problems,

“There are two identical steel balls. One of them is suspended on inextensible rope, and the second is placed on a stand. Both balls have the same temperature. They are heated up to the same temperature. Are the amounts of heat transferred to the balls also the same?”

The 8b class challenged. The representative was Sergei Kuchinsky (now a physicist, a PhD and a collaborator at one of the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences.) The reporter from 8a was Boris Petrov (now also a physicist, head of a division at Rosatom and a PhD.) The 8a did not solve the problem. Boris tried to solve the problem impromptu, but with no success. His considerations were wrong (due to lack of other ideas, he suggested that the amounts of heat would be the same in both cases.)

Sergei Kuchinsky presented a correct solution and his class earned the deserved points (I do not remember the solution, but it was related to changes in potential energy of the balls, as the center of the suspended ball was descending, and the center of the ball on a stand was lifting.)

Here is clearly visible the specifics of a team competition: as an Olympiad participant, Boris Petrov was much stronger than Sergei Kuchinsky. Boris was a triple winner at all-Soviet Olympiads and a first-position winner at IPhO 1979. Meantime, Sergei has never participated even at the all-Soviet Olympiad. Most probably, during this Fight, Boris was occupied with solving different problems from the list.

I. M. Do you have any detailed information on how the Mathematics Fights were held in 1960s?

S. S. I can say that the journal paper was published in a shortened way (11 pages left out of 19), and the editor made these revisions without me. Here I can share a section on Mathematics Fights, not included into the paper, but published in the book.

“The competition among Leningrad and Moscow university schools has been traditionally held even at a formal level. A Mathematics Fight, among these strongest schools nationwide, was annually held during the all-Soviet Olympiad. [...] The Mathematics Fight is a different form of competition, a team-based one. Several teams (most often, two teams) were offered with tasks to solve, and all participants within the teams were solving them together. Afterwards, teams in turn presented the solutions before jurors, all team members and observers. A correct solution was graded with points, which were then summed up to determine the winner. These unusual competitions involved a tactical strategy, in comparison to “individual” Olympiad. For example, if both competitors had solved exactly three identical problems, a team was losing if they were challenging competitors first! I personally remembered two Mathematics Fights.

One, in 1969, involved my team of 10a class and the famous team of “Alexei Alexandrov’s class” (9a at the time.) We won with a narrow margin, while it was later known that the competitors solved more problems! The strategical nature of a Fight and deducing points by the strict jury (led by Yu. I. Ionin) for “non-ethical remarks” contributed to that.

The second one, among teachers and students, was held seemingly in 1968. The juror, invited on purpose of the event, was professor Garald Isidorovich Natanson from the Department of Mathematics. Yu. I. Ionin, A. V. Yakovlev, L. D. Kurlyandchik, Yu. V. Matiyasevich, G. Rosenblum were certainly in the team of teachers. I recall S. Semenkov, A. Berzinsh, P. Suvorov in the team of students. The conference room in Internat, where the competition was held, was filled with people. I recall a funny episode when Anatoly Vladimirovich Yakovlev, who reported one of the problems, presented it “orally” with no formulas written on blackboard. In result, the audience consisting mostly of non-mathematicians (almost all school gathered there) ceased understanding anything at the first minute of the presentation. Murmuring, laugh and remarks “Whom are you speaking to?” spread across the room, and the kindest physics teacher, adored by all students, Viktor Kirillovich Kobushkin, experienced an emotional excess: he started laughing and could not stop. Yakovlev made a pause and pointed to Viktor Kirillovich, saying, “He makes me laugh.” The jury had difficulties calming down the audience.

Cold-blooded remained, however, professor G. I. Natanson and Pavel Suvorov who opposed on behalf of the team of students. When Yakovlev finished his presentation, Pavel imperturbably pointed to a mistake in the solution. [...]

Yu. I. Ionin, however, filled entire blackboard with his solution and explained everything very clearly, in his usual manner. I recall that teachers won at the event. [...]“

I. M. Can you possibly advice who may recall details on Physics Fights held earlier than in 1967-1968?

S. S. I will try to figure out who can preserve the information that you need, among people I know, and I will transfer the questions. My little experience evidences that everyone has forgotten everything.

I. M. Thank you.

M. G. I have received your inquiry about the history of Physics Fights from Sergei Sokolin.

The first Physics Fight in Leningrad was held in Spring 1965 between the teams of Physico-Mathematical Schools 38, 239 and 45. The key organizer of the event was Viktor Kirillovich Kobushkin, who initiated the name of the competition as such.

This Physics Fight was held at the Pioneer’s Palace and the jury chair was the professor at Leningrad University Nikita Alexeevich Tolstoi.

The problems were not distributed in advance and they implied not a fixed solution, but carrying out some investigation (although with no experiment) and specifying the task.

All the three teams took part in solving and discussing every problem and got specific points for their performance.

The next year, there were already several Fights, but mostly among Schools 45 and 239, because the School 38 (which had a strong team) soon ceased to exist as one specializing in physics.

Afterwards, due to tremendous activities of Alexander Alexandrovich Bykov, the Physics Fights were regularly held at the Internat 45 among classes of students. Viktor Maximovich Terekhov could tell about this period in more details.

I. M. Do you possibly know any publications concerning these early Physics Fights? Did you have an overall impression that the Physics Fights in 1965 were in fact the first ever of this kind? I will certainly try to contact Terekhov who seemingly works now in Lyceum 239.

M. G. I understand that my information is limited and poorly structured, but I have no possibilities to investigate seriously into the topic. I will try to find out if any publications existed. Bykov could have published something, and Terekhov (who indeed works at 239) could know about that.

Kobushkin could have effectively been the initiator of these events, as he was an extraordinary person and very motivated in his activities and in students. Moreover, he was among first university-based teachers at both Schools 239 and 45.

I. M. Thank you.

The interview with Sergei Sokolin was primarily taken between February 11 and February 14, 2010. The interview with Mikhail Goryaev was primarily taken between April 8 and April 9, 2010.

Interview with Eldar Sadykhov on YPTs of 1989-1991

1989, 1990, 1991, Historical IYPT interviews — ilyamartch @ 1:53 pm

>Details on YPT activities of one of the enthusiastic Soviet teams in 1989-1991, are shared by Eldar Sadykhov, team captain from Moscow School 18 in 1990.

E.S. I am very pleased to receive from you such a message from the past! Yes, I indeed was a participant at the all-Soviet, and then at the International Tournaments. Sergei Dmitrievich Varlamov was indeed the team leader. Our team in 1989-1990 included:

  • Sergei Dmitrievich Varlamov, leader
  • Myself, captain
  • Sergei Romanchuk (after graduating from university he worked, and possibly still works in Metallinvestbank, as one of the top executives there)
  • Anatoly Savchenkov (he studied at the Department of Physics, MSU, then worked in Braginsky’s group on resonators for a large Americal interferometer, left for America, works in science)
  • Pavel Mikheev (I lost the contact with him, I know he was from Stary Oskol, Belgorodskaya Oblast)

I remember a few details on the team from Physico-Mathematical School 18 of previous season, 1988-1989:

  • Andrei Vladimirovich Belov, leader
  • Nikolai Koblyakov (he later was an owner of a large company that was either record label, either CD producer)

The other year, the team of School 18 (possibly renamed into SUNC MGU then) included

  • Sergei Romanchuk, captain
  • Sergei Dmitrievich Varlamov as the team leader again

I don’t remember further details, as 20 years passed by. I suddenly found contacts of Sergei Romanchuk, who was the captain of the team that followed the mine in the next year (I think it was already called SUNC MGU.) He has seemingly even preserved some photographs from that time.

You certainly know that the Tournament was led by Evgeny Nikolaevich Yunosov. I am always pleased to recall my early years!

Eldar Sadykhov was born on September 14, 1973 in Fryazino. He entered the Physico-Mathematical School 18 in Moscow in 1988, developing a keen interest in astronomy. He works now at Art-Navigator, a web studio in Moscow.

Eldar summed up his YPT experience in an autobiography published in March 2006, “I got fascinated by an interesting game, Young Physicists’ Tournament. Something in between of Physics Olympiads and a team game in defending diploma on a given theme. My interest meant that I become the captain of the boarding school’s team. And we won at the all-Soviet competition. In both personal and team score. This helped me a lot, because as winners, we were awarded with papers that allowed going with no examinations to any physical or mathematical university in the country. Without that we would never be capable of writing essays at entry examinations – Oblomov, Goncharov, Pushkin – impossible… And like that I – immediately – appeared at the… Department of Physics, Moscow State University.”

The interview was primarily taken on October 16 and November 26, 2009.

Essay by Dmitry Runge, cover, interview with Evgeny Yunosov in Komsomolskaya Zhizn (December 1989)

Komsomolskaya Zhizn, the Soviet Komsomol’s bi-weekly magazine, featured in December 1989 a 5-page essay on the troubles of Soviet secondary educational system, the Young Physicists’ Tournament and the first all-Soviet School-Session for Young Talents in Ufa, where in August 1989 author Dmitry Runge approached and interviewed Evgeny Yunosov, devoting most of the essay to the interview and related discussion. The issue (No. 23, 1989) featured two of Yunosov’s photographs by Nikolai Kononov on its cover, and credited Yunosov not only as the YPT initiator, but also as the “Founder” of novel educational ideas in USSR.

Komsomolskaya Zhizn was founded in 1920. By December 1989, it circulated in 1 175 000 copies and cost 10 Soviet kopecks.

Download: original paper and cover, in Russian (pdf.)

Shh, Duma assembled

School today and tomorrow

Oh, oh! It was too late to repel a bee, and a reddish spot was swelling on the left hand. Here sounded a question that the host posed to the audience,

“What should you do, when a bee bit you?”

I did not wait until participants of a chemical victorine find the answer to this casual and very actual for me question.

“The alkaline medium is needed to neutralize the poison.” Team leader of young chemists, associate professor at Bashkir State University Natalya Anatolyevna Amineva chose among many others, one test-tube on which the formula NH4OH was derived, mysterious for me, outsider. (This is when you should regret that you forgot everything you learned in chemistry at school.) “Yes, this is common ammonia water. You can also treat the bite with a weak solution of washing soda. And the details of relevant properties of ammonia are in the section ‘Nitrogen’ of B. V. Nekrasov’s Bases of General Chemistry.”

The Chem-Show-89 then switched to the final stage. “A chemical tale with explosions and other effects” started and continued until “Dose 1” (20h00) and later until “Precipitation” (00h00), as supper and sleeping time were marked in schedule in the newspaper CHLOR (standing for Chemists are Curious and Wit Guys.)

A Chemists’ Day was coming to end at the pioneer’s camp Alye Parusa. There were others Days for physicists and mathematicians, geologists and ecologists, young space researchers, and certainly common to everybody, the Day of Bashkiria. Almost 250 children, representing different republics, regions and oblasts of the country, were attracted in August to the first all-Soviet School-Session for Young Talents, held near Ufa.

Digression on a topic

Do you know what the chairmen of the State Committee on National Education G. A. Yagodin was most afraid of, when he just became the minister (then, of the Ministry of Higher Education)? You will not believe it! He was afraid of… visitors.

“They do not know how to add unit fractions, but they very actively fight for their rights”, Gennady Alexeyevich shared his view with journalists soon after the February 1988 Plenum of Soviet Communist Party Central Committee where the questions of educational reform were discussed. “You ask a visiting girl (who came certainly with her mom) with a complaint about “not letting her” to a history department, when Lenin was born, and you hear “applicant’s” puzzled silence in response. This is not a private, but a social trouble. When trying to improve secondary education, we received a pseudo-secondary one.

Yes, the years of stagnation, did influence here as well. The prestige of intelligence, knowledge, teacher’s authority, especially in rural areas, fell (“My girlfriend can be anyone, but not that teacher”.) A half of educated teachers, people who got the pedagogy education, do not work in their specialization, spread across the country and can be found anywhere, but not in schools. An intelligence did not receive sufficient moral and material support in the society. Indeed, why to cultivate, starting from school, the ability and need to think independently, if the System itself not only left these qualities non-required, but sometimes cruelly suppressed dissidence, trying to “hold at a proper level” the ideological dogmas that came to crude contradiction with life.

Here they are cultivated, those numerous bighead and extremely self-satisfied “know-something” people, which are much more dangerous for the society than “know-nothing” people, according to G. A. Yagudin himself.

“A know-nothing-person will never take courage to solve what he doesn’t know. But the one who assumes that he knows something, will take such a courage.

There from come Chernobyl and others, not so global, catastrophes of the recent years; a “know-something” just assumed that he knew what to do. And is our catastrophic (I cannot call it otherwise) lag behind developed capitalist countries in terms of labor efficiency in industrial and agricultural segments, only a sequence of laxity and shortage of enthusiasm? No way, the point is in the smart, intelligent part of labor.

Should it be said in such conditions that the demand for talents is a social and even political demand from society. Hopefully, we start ourselves to gradually understand that large investments into education will improve the situation in the country.

On the history of the question

For E. N. Yunosov, the laboratory chief at the Physics of Oscillations division at the Department of Physics, Moscow State University, and also to all his associates, this year may be called anniversary.

Exactly a decade ago, in 1979, was held the first in the Union, Young Physicists’ Tournament, shortly YPT. Only 7 Moscow schools took then part in it, the perspectives looked dim, and no one thought of YPT to enter the international arena, even Evgeny Nikolaevich himself, who spearheaded the movement as the Founder (as he is now referred to.)

Today in Moscow alone, there are above 40 scientific groups of school students, enthusiasts of the Tournament. Several all-Soviet and two International YPTs have been held, and an Organizing Committee is created for preparing the Third one, to participation in which are invited the teams of Bulgaria, Hungary, Holland, Poland, FRG, and the Soviet Union.

“In comparison to the traditional Olympiads (individual contests of students), the Tournament is a collective and a long-lasting form of work, which quite accurately models all stages in a real scientific research: establishing the problem, choosing the solution method, obtaining a scientific result, and discussing it”, recounts E. N. Yunosov. “A further advantage of the Tournament is that it does not expose a child to a shock stressful impact, as it happens at Olympiads, when, in a few hours, one has to extract out of himself everything he has earlier learned.

How is the Tournament held? Everything starts with a Correspondence competition. In August, the physico-mathematical journal for children Kvant publishes the problems. I should note, very tricky problems, as none of them has a finite numerical solution. A school student, a teacher, a university undergraduate, a research institute can fight over such questions as, e.g. how much jam should Karlsson eat not to get thinner during the flight, or why draughts happen (if one thinks of what does the Hydrometeorological Service perform, they end up with measuring draughts of a global scale.) All of them will obtain a respectable result at each own level.

At the stage of Correspondence competition, creative teams of children are formed (and they can be created not only in schools, but also on the basis of out-of-curriculum entities, everywhere where enthusiasts exist.) When working, students use reference literature and the assistance of teachers.

The solutions for problems are discussed at Physics Fights in the form of scientific debates, in which a very active participation is taken by the seniors – university undergraduates, PhD students and university scientists. The Physics Fights are most commonly held with the scheme of “Reporter-Opponent-Reviewer”, and teams consequently present themselves in each of these roles.

The last stage is the Finals: the Final Physics Fight, the introduction of teams and jurors, the contests for Captains and Observers, the determination of winners. Everyone – and this is principal! – is invited to the Finals, which is most often turned into a bright, memorable physics festival.

Roughly the same scheme is used at the city-wide, the regional, the Republican and the all-Soviet tournaments: children send to respectful Organizing Committees the solutions for correspondence contests , and they choose the most original ones and invite participants.

I will not speak now in more details of the structure, features and regulations for holding a YPT, as any school can request them from the Organizing Committee (address: Moscow, GSP, Moscow State University, Department of Physics, YPT Organizing Committee.) Besides, the advices for participants and organizers are placed in Nos. 8 of Kvant in 1987 and 1988. I can tell only what is recognized officially (including the decision of the International Consultation Meeting): the Tournament is an effective form of searching and supporting the talented youth.”

“It can be developed not only with regards to physics, but practically to all areas of science and technology. To ‘flop’ Tournaments to other sectors of knowledge and entire spheres of human activity, e.g. the exploration of outer space, is one of the main tasks of our School-Session”, says Lyudmila Ermolaeva, an instructor from Komsomol’s Central Committee.

Democracy Camp

This is how children themselves called Alye Parusa.

We were having a discussion in the Pioneer’s lounge, where rooster Petrusha was walking with dignity.

“He lives here”, children shed light to my silent question. “Petrusha was to be awarded as a prize at the national Bashkir fest Sabantui, but it was felt sorry to prepare a Kulesh from it, so it was settled here. We normally hold all entertainment events in the afternoon. And after breakfast, there are lectures and seminars.”

Lecturers from Moscow and Bashkir State Universities, other leading universities, undergraduates and PhD students worked in the camp with school students who were winners at all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournaments, republican and regional specialized Olympiads. “Motion and design of rockets”, “Types of expendable launch systems”, practice with a movable map of night sky, work on computers, all that is the schedule for just one day and just for one group (young researchers of space), as copied in travel notebook.

“That’s a pity that you visit us for such a short time. On the 20th, there’s a Cosmonautics Day in the camp. We will feed everyone with genuine space food – from sealed packets and tubes. As early as in April, we came to an agreement with Biryulevo experimental plant in Moscow. They say, it is fantastically tasty, especially nuts with dried plums”, said deputy director of Ufa city pioneer’s palace Galina Streltsova.

I did not unfortunately try space delicatessen, but did manage to see how much have the organizers of the unusual School made for children.

In the “Duma Assembly” (the seminar building in the camp), there were modern computers, and the videocafe in Alye Parusa did not see shortage of visitors. Lyuda Ermolaeva asked me to name the main sponsors responsible for that, among them Ufa city centers for scientific and technical creativity of the youth Ritm and center for scientific and technical service Faktor, that I have the pleasure to do. I think however, that the main sponsor of the School became the enthusiasm of all its participants and organizers. The one about which we sometimes speak with a note of irony, for an unknown reason.

“We are treated with an abstract respect”, sadly confirmed the Vice-President of the Organizing Committee of International YPT E. N. Yunosov. “The seniors who came here are mainly non-mainstream individuals, addicts of enthusiastic work with students.”

(I can say in parenthesis that Evgeny Nikolaevich himself, and most instructors send to Alye Parusa on business trip from Komsomol’s Cenrtal Committee, were on personal holidays and received here no money.)

“Bosses at work gave up with many of us”, continued Yunosov. “Certainly, the enthusiasts are not convenient for local and regional bureaus of national education that still want instructions and order lists. Just imagine: a teacher abandoned his lessons and went with his team to a Tournament!”

I ask Evgeny Nikolaevich of what should be done to change the situation, rearrange the mechanism of work with talented teenagers, and I write down his

Founder’s monologue

In May, the USSR State Committee on National Education hosted a special collegium focused on the work with talented youth. It was decided to develop such a work, but it is so far not at all clear how exactly to do it. The obstacle is not the question of money itself. There was an example given at the collegium: out of 18 million rubles granted to schools in the previous academic year to develop out-of-curriculum work, only 2 million were spent. I am convinced, as a matter of fact, that a united governmental system for searching and supporting young talents is required. Until it is not existent, we cannot avoid the spontaneous and accidental character of many processes.

For example, we have ourselves learned to reveal talented youth through various forms: the same Tournaments, Olympiads, School-Sessions, and others. But how can we speak of a serious effect from a science conference for the students, if even the list of participants is not traceable a year later? That is why a coordination center should exist, a “bank manager” having all the necessary information available for the interested parties. Such a center can, let say, function within the country’s State Committee on Education. If we have gained an experience, the center could support the project immediately with people, money, and promotion. Each child should also understand that his achievements are not disappearing, but are somewhere recorded.

And certainly, the work with school students should become prestigious and highly-paid. For how long, indeed, we will recognize only on words, that investments into youth are the society’s investments into their own tomorrow?

See Americans who decided several years ago that they are doing badly with space programs, and that some new ideas were needed. They created an association for young astronauts, and just in a year hosted a summer school for 40 000 participants. They have found from somewhere both the abandoned venues, spacesuits for children, simulators, centrifuges, and gravitational models. What do we have? Several spacesuits are brought for several days here to Ufa, and boys could wear them. But is that an impetus for immediately becoming a cosmonaut? Are you becoming a general if you wear a general’s uniform?

Needless to say, we lag behind for I don’t know how many years, even in manufacturing simplest school equipment. Even here, in Alye Parusa (despite everyone has an accreditation badge, like at “adult” symposiums), children do not have laboratories, and opportunities for experiments in physics and chemistry are limited. However, things are moving. Together with Komsomol’s Central Committee, we are thinking of the Second all-Soviet…”

We put here the points of ellipsis. Let these points be optimistic. You remember the Grin’s Alye Parusa, scarlet sails, that Assol suddenly saw above a snow-white ship after waiting for many years. It is a symbol of hope.

Dmitry Runge,

Special Staff Reporter for Komsomolskaya Zhizn


Interview with Peter Fedorcsak and Peter Falus on 4th IYPT

>Details and recollections on the 4th IYPT (1991) are shared by the members of gold-winning Hungarian team in 1991, Peter Falus and Peter Fedorcsak.

Peter Falus is the instrument responsible for Neutron Spin-Echo spectrometer at the Time of Flight and High Resolution Spectrometers unity of Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France.

Peter Fedorcsak is the laboratory chief at the Rikshospitalet University Hospital in Oslo, Norway.

P.Fed. I have quite a vivid, but rather fragmented memory of Moscow ´91. I was like 18, it was quite a chaos all around, so it must have been difficult to focus. We’ve stayed at a large youth compound (hotel?) near Sheremetjevo airfield and were bused around the city for sightseeing. One trip went to the physics department of Lomonosov university, located in a hilltop in one of those skyscapers of Stalin era (seven sisters?), where we were given a physics show with fountain of liquid nitrogen, and all that infotainment stuff that you get 20 years later in science museums. We were impressed.

Since that time I have given up physics, graduated in medicine, and now live in Norway. I have still my old records back in my parents’ house in Hungary, so I shall send you all the photos and other stuff I may have kept.

Some time ago I found a webpage on Hungarian YPT participants, probably not any more available, which I attach.

P.Fal. I was indeed at the tournament. It was held in Olympiets for sure.

I.M. How exactly did your team organize preparation? Did you have joint meetings, collaborative experiments or everyone worked on their own research projects?

P.Fed. I am quite uncertain with the details, but it is how I recollect. We were a small band (n ~ 10) of high school pupils from around the country who attended a seminar at the Eötvös University. It was an invitation-only event, and I guess performance on various national tournaments was a selection criterium.

The seminar was held once a week (or bi-weekly?) by folk from the physics department, and had a more general purpose of motivating for higher level physics than just preparation for competitions. Something similar was also in place for maths, and some guys went also there. Skarpits & Rajkovits selected the team from this band.

I.M. Was Lajos Skrapits your only team leader during the IYPT, or Zsuszanna Rajkovits went to Moscow in 1991 as well?

P.Fed. I think Rajkovits was also there.

I.M. There are questionable accounts of a separate “Russian” and a separate “Soviet” teams at the 4th IYPT.

P.Fal. I cannot remember from where the Soviet teams were.

I.M. Was it a common practice of making reports with paper posters, or with transparencies and overhead projectors?

P.Fal. It was all oral with classic transparencies ( transparent foil+permanent pen, no inkjet printers yet ;) )

P.Fed. Transparencies were used.

I.M. Did the Russian remain the most used working language at the 4th IYPT? Was your team accompained with interpreters, or you were sufficiently fluent in Russian?

P.Fal. I think most of us spoke Russian in the team but the official language was already English (to make sure the Dutch visitors understood everything, so the tournaments after could be international) I do remember receiving questions both in Russian and English, though.

P.Fed. We used Russian. That time I was quite fluent, as was Peter Falus, so we were the interpreters. As far as I remember, my contribution in physics was more limited.

I.M. Did you have an impression that the Tournament was already influenced by political instabilities in the Soviet Union (such as formally independent teams from former national republics, changes in travel documents etc.)?

P.Fed. No, it didn’t. I was some years before in the Soviet Union on a Komsomol tour, and this one was just as efficient, if you like.

P.Fal. Well I just started to travel those days I had really no comparison how it was before. I found Russian burocracy difficult (invitation letter, visa whatever), but I heard it was already a simpler procedure than before. I vaguely remember market places where you could buy anything if you had dollars, and shops where you could buy nothing for rubels. At the competition though none of it was felt, it was strictly scientific.

I.M. According to your impressions, most reports at the YPT were theoretical or there were many teams performing good experiments?

P.Fal. There were definitely good experimenatal works. At that time I was already quite experimental oriented, would not have been interested in the tournament if it was otherwise.

P.Fed. It was more experimental than we anticipated. I cannot recollect ever doing experiments on preparatory courses, but the other guys had quite a practical knack (especially, Peter and Istvan), so it went fine.

I.M. Do you now have an impression that the IYPT was much more “research oriented” than “problem solving” competition?

P.Fal. Definitely yes as I already told you. We just came that time from the Physics olympiade (in Cuba) which was strictly problem solving. I did feel the difference.

I.M. I am checking when the IYPT was re-drawn into the version that it commonly used today. The earliest known appearance was in 1982 for a local Moscow event, but then the logo was slightly re-designed into it’s current form around 1990-1992 or even earlier.

P.Fal. I did not really recognize this logo, I think in 1991 the two knights were on one blue shield, and I think h\nu was not written on the knights rather betwen them? But not exactly sure about this.

P.Fed. I cannot say for sure, but I think it was there.

I.M. Can you recall what problem did your team report at the selective Fights and in the Finals?

P.Fed. I can hardly recollect anything of the contest, apart from a single problem I was given to deal with: determining the in situ oritentation of a 3×3x3 cm large wooden cube.

P.Fal. I do remember presenting the “geyser” problem which I modeled by immersing a wire wound power resistor in water and observing the eruption period versus water temperature and heating power.

After looking at the problems, I think we definitely presented : 3,4,8,9 ( geyser, self excitation, tv screen photo, propeller) I am sure 3,4,8 were my projects. I probably presented self excitation in the final ???

One another note, I found it interesting the many interviewees do not live in their home country. Did you find it like that too?

I.M. Yes, that might be true about people living abroad, but it is difficult to generalize, because it might have been easier to trace them and to find out they were IYPT participants.

Could you detect any notable differences between the English problem set prepared by the Soviet Organizing Committee and the Hungarian translation for 1991? (some problems are found to be about entirely different topics in parallel language versions for some early IYPTs.)

P.Fal. For starters, the Hungarian and English translations do correspond (except that there are more typos in the English version.)

I.M. Andras Czirok vaguely recalled Peter Falus to be with him in the 3rd IYPT’s Hungarian team.

P.Fal. We never went to IYPT together, Andras went to the 3rd and I did go to the 4th.

I.M. Thank you.

Interview with Ilya Mashkov on 3rd IYPT, YPT trips to UK and Czechoslovakia

>Ilya Mashkov was the captain of the team from Moscow School 542 winning gold at the 3rd IYPT in June 1990. He took part in the IYPT-related visit to Czechoslovakia in summer 1989 and to Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge in July 1990. He now shares rare photographs and papers, and sheds much light on organizational details and results of YPT-related events in 1989-1990.

Ilya Mashkov graduated in 1996 from Moscow Engineering Physics Institute. He leads today Mezonproekt, an architectural engineering bureau in Moscow, founded in 2000.

Trip to Czechoslovakia

I.M. Konstantin Yufryakov recalled that in 1989 you went to Czechoslovakia, possibly with your team leader Vladimir Alminderov. Can you describe the journey?

I.Mash. Yunosov also went there with us. That was a Summer School. We had several Physics Fights with Czechs, but not in the framework of Young Physicists’ Tournament as such. A Czech team was there, but they did not take everything very seriously. There was one or two Physics Fights, and some Czech professors read us lectures in physics.

I.M. Where exactly was this School held?

I.Mash. I preserved some slides and photographs that I filmed there, possibly even on color reversal films. I certainly remember there was a mountain called Certovka, as I was intrigued by the name. It was held in a small mountain hotel.

I.M. After some searches, I can suggest that it this Certova hora was near Harrachov, in northern Czechoslovakia (http://certova-hora.ceskehory.cz/.) Was that Zdenek Kluiber who hosted your delegation in Czechoslovakia?

I.Mash. May be. Yunosov should remember that. All I remember, is that the Czech person who arranged our trip was of large constitution type.

Trip to United Kingdom

I.Mash. We went to England as well, still on the basis of activities with Young Physicists’ Tournament. It was introduced as a school exchange, but we went there, and they did not came to us, in turn. A local paper, Cambridge Evening News, published a paper about us, called Moscow Perspective on the Western Way, and I preserved a copy.

I.M. When exactly did you go to England?

I.M. It is not easy to recall. I only remember we had blue service passports, issued by the Ministry of Education. We went from Moscow to Berlin on train, then took a train to Ostend in Belgium where took a ferry to Dover, and there we went to London again by train. We were picked up and went to Cambridge by car.

I.M. Yunosov went there with you?

I.Mash. Yunosov, Aminderov and Nikolaev went there. Nikolaev later worked in Cambridge, if I am not mistaken.

3rd IYPT in 1990

I.M. When you were first acquainted with the Tournament?

I.Mash. I came to School 542 in autumn 1988 and graduated in 1990, studying there for two years. All that time we were playing in the YPT. We had a Physics Theoretical Seminar, held by Alminderov. It was organized around the Tournament, and we took part in all important competitions, making journeys with the team as well. Already by 1989 we were active participants.

I.M. Can you suggest if you have taken part in the Tournament held in April 1989 in Olympiets?

I.Mash. What I clearly remember is the Tournament held in Olympiets, where we played in the Finals with teams from Riga and from the Netherlands.

I.M. If I am not mistaken, that might have been in 1990, because in 1989 the winners were from Germany and Bulgaria.

I.Mash. At the Tournament that I remember, there was no Bulgarians at all. There were the teams from the Netherlands, from Moscow School 18, possibly from Fryazino. But possibly there was no Fryazino there, as I might confuse that event with the Summer School in Protvino. But I hope to have preserved the notes, and may possibly trace more details. I recall as well a team from Crimea, Simferopol as an active participant in those years.

During that event, we played in the Finals with the Dutch and the Riga teams, and ended up as winners. I remember a girl from the Netherlands, Ietje Penninga, and a boy from Riga. We all were seen on photographs made at the competition.

I.M. Konstantin says your team went to Tbilisi in February 1990.

I.Mash. We went there, and it was warm outside. In fact, we were in Tbilisi twice. The first time, there were Physics Fights at the Tbilisi State University, and all was organized quite seriously. Good scientists were team leaders, and the Georgian team was quite strong. The second time, there was a Summer School. By the way, in the end of 1990 or even 1991, I also accompanied the team of School 542 to Summer School in Protvino, where Physics Fights were held as well, but that time I was a team leader and helped the team.

I.M. Who were your team members at the 3rd IYPT?

I.Mash. Here is the team list:

  • Ilya Mashkov, captain
  • Alexei Pechenkin
  • Fedor Sigaev
  • Kostya Yufryakov
  • Sergei Volkov (who was a replacement member and did not solve any problems)
  • Sasha Fedotov (I am not perfectly sure, as he was a year younger and might possibly have not been in the main team, I will verify that.)

Sasha Fedotov was the team captain of Physico-Mathematical School 542 in 1991.

If you are interested,

I.M. There are recent accounts from Ashgabat participant Igor Nosov that a combined Soviet team played at the 3rd IYPT as well. Can you corroborate or deny that?

I.Mash. It is possible that a combined Soviet team was there. If so, it was a third team from the Soviet Union.

I.M. Konstantin Yufryakov suggests that the Tournament, where you won in the Finals with Riga and Dutch teams, was in June 1990. Can you confirm that?

I.Mash. June 1990 is very probable. We had graduation exams from school that time, and I remember that I could avoid writing essay in Russian language. If it was held in Summer, then 1990 is very probable. We were awarded with certificates allowing admission to any Soviet university without examinations. My certificate had number 3 or number 4.

I.M. Can you recall what problem did you report?

I.Mash. It would be difficult, because there were so many Physics Fights. By the way, do you know where might be now the wonderful historical rheostat?

I.M. You mean, the rheostat that was the prize at the Tournaments? I have no idea where it is now.

I.Mash. It served as the Challenge Cup of the Tournament. It was made in the beginning of the 20th Century and came from an old laboratory of Moscow State University. Bronze plaques of the winning teams were glued onto it. We made our own engraving and glued the plaque onto the rheostat. We even disassembled it, put our photograph inside, and then assembled it again. It was of size of a car rechargeable battery, not that large. The device was was there all the years, but where it might be now?

I.M. Was there an autograph of physicist Umov on it? There is a paper by Yunosov, where he describes a Challenge Prize of the Tournament, which was exactly the rheostat with physicist Nikolai Umov’s signature on it. I mean, the Umov who introduced the Umov-Poynting vector.

I.Mash. It is quite possible. But it was the only Challenge Cup of the event. I remember there were special regulations for storing this prize. Either it was stored at the Department of Physics, either by the winning team. I remember, we stored it it, but not for a long time. It must be at the Department of Physics, I think.

Are you familiar with the name Kuzyakin?

I.M. Not yet :-) .

I.Mash. I think he should be credited a lot. He was a representative from the Ministry of Education, who ensured patronage for the Young Physicists’ Tournaments and helped them a lot. His name was Alexander Pavlovich Kuzyakin, I have just verified that.

I.M. Did Yury Yufryakov support your team in 1989-1990?

I.Mash. Exactly, he and Denis Pospelov were our senior colleagues and helped us. Alexei Silvestrov, who was a student at that time, also helped and supported the team a lot.

I.M. Did all the rounds take place in Olympiets Center?

I.Mash. The Moscow rounds were mostly held at the Department of Physics, while those international competitions were held in Olympiets. By the way, a lot of video material was filmed there. There was a special camera men, seemingly from Kuzyakin, who filmed us and inquired into the competition. There should be plenty of video, as every single Physics Fight was filmed.There was even a special psychologist who interviewed us and made notes.

I.M. On Yunosov’s photographs, a girl looking like a radio journalist is visible. She had a microphone and a large tape recorder, but I don’t know if anything was ever on air.

I.Mash. When we went to Ufa for a Summer School, we visited Ufa radio station, where attended a special radio conference with Moscow, in a show called Rovesnik. Something was on radio in Moscow as well. I don’t remember anything to be on television.

I.M. Do you remember any publications related to the Tournament?

I.Mash. There was an article in MEPhI’s journal Inzhener-fizik, and later I wrote a paper to the same journal as well. I preserved the paper. You certainly also know the Kostya Yufryakov’s paper in Kvant on a droplet falling into water.

I.M. Do you remember interpreters at Physics Fights?

I.Mash. I remember them, as Russian was the key language and jurors were Russian.

I.M. How did teams prepare posters?

I.Mash. Colored ink, large wove Whatman paper, and technical drawing instruments.

Photos from Ilya Mashkov’s archives

I. Mash. Yunosov.

I.Mash. This photo was presented to us by boys from Riga when they were leaving and (well done!) wrote down their names:

  • Andris Eiduks
  • Viktor Kutuzov (captain)
  • Dmitry Terno
  • Anatoly Fridman (team leader)
  • Alexei Tutov
  • Maxim Enbaev

I.Mash. The team of the Netherlands, their leaders, and Yunosov.

I.M. I just contacted the leader of the Dutch delegation in 1990, Hans Jordens. He wrote me: “On the picture is the complete Dutch team together with Yunosov. The names on the photo are, from left to right: x, Ietje Penninga, Rixt Buwalda, x, S. Buwalda (leader), A. Holvast (leader), E. Yunosov, x. ‘x’ are the three boys in the team; there names are: Gerrit Venema, Mark Brouwer, Gert-Tom Draisma; but I don’t know whom is who. I can find out if you want.”

I.Mash. Captain of team from Netherlands, Ietje Penninga (city of Balk.)

I.M. I sent this picture to Jordens as well. He wrote, “Thank you very much for the photos. The girl on one picture is indeed Ietje Penninga.”

I.Mash. In the right is Yunosov. On the grass are having rest: me (from the right) and an English friend (from the left.) Are girls are English. The place is Cambridge.

I.Mash. Here on the photo is an English person from the host college (http://www.hrsfc.ac.uk/), in the center is Nikolaev (from the department of physics, MSU), in the right is Yunosov. I made this photo. The place is Cambridge.

I.Mash. An article in Cambridge newspaper.

I.Mash. During a Physics Fight: contest of captains. In the left am I, in the right, I don’t remember for sure, possibly Viktor Kutuzov. It was requested to name the maximum number of physical properties of a brick. The place is Department of Physics, MSU.

I.Mash. My apparatus for the problem “Franklin’s wheel”.

I.Mash. Department of physics, MSU, we are singing “Gaudeamus igitur”.

I.Mash. A very important photo. We are going either to Protvino, either to Ufa for a summer school (but possibly even to Tbilisi), I will verify that. The girl third from the left is Anastasia Zubova (captain of team from city of Fryazino). The third from the left in bottom row is your humble servant. The third from the right (with a backpack) is Alexei Silvestrov, he made a lot for the YPT in those times, he supported our team when he was a student at the department of physics of MSU, he is a good educator.

I.Mash. On the photo with a reference book in hands am I, to the right from me on photo is Denis Irz. I don’t remember the names of others.

I.Mash. Document from the Ministry of Education.

I.Mash. I completely forgot about that, but have recollected when found this document. We went for 2 or 3 days to Stavropol on the basis of the Tournament. We held a demonstration Physics Fight at the Stavropol Pioneer’s Palace. I don’t remember if I made any photos there.

I.Mash. Left to right are: Alexander Fedotov (who was a year younger and who was the team captain of School 542 the next year), Kostya Yufryakov, Alexei Pechenkin (behind Kostya), Ilya Mashkov, Dima Ukrainsky (who was not a team member), Fedor Sigaev, Sergei Volkov, Vladimir Alminderov. The photo is made in Olympiets.

I.Mash. The photo on the left shows Ilya Mashkov. The photo on the right shows Robert White, Andrei ? (his head is behind Robert, ? ?, ? ? (behind Fedor), Fedor Sigaev, Ilya Mashkov, Masha Goncharova, ? ? Nikolaev, Olya Bruns, Evgeny Yunosov, ? ?, ? ?.

I.M. Thank you very much for this extremely valuable information, photos and articles.

I.Mash. All my notes are in a paper box in my garage, and I can find further details. If I find any further materials, I will certainly be able to share them.

The interview was taken between April 6 and November 15, 2009 with most photos traced ans scanned by Ilya Mashkov in September 2009. Updated on November 22, 2009 with the scanned newspaper articles.

Interview with Igor Nosov on 1st IYPT, 2nd IYPT, 3rd IYPT

>Igor Nosov has taken part at regional, all-Soviet and International Young Physicists’ Tournaments in 1988, 1989, and 1990. He shares rare documents and clarifies many details of the competitions.

Download: Evgeny Velikhov’s address to the participants of 1st IYPT, 1988 (scanned leaflet.)

Download: Igor Nosov’s personal diploma from 3rd all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournament, 1990 (scanned document.)

Download: Igor Nosov’s certificate No. 11-8 allowing admission to any Soviet university without examinations, issued by USSR State Committee on National Education, signed by F. I. Peregudov on June 7, 1990 (scanned document.)

Download: Blank certificate allowing admission to any Soviet university without examinations, issued by USSR State Committee on National Education, 1990 (scanned document.)

Download: Order No. 92 issued on March 21, 1990 by the Ministry of National Education of Turkmen SSR “On the results of the 1st Republican and final round of 3rd all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournaments in school year 1989/90 and on holding the 2nd Republican and 4th all-Soviet Tournaments in school year 1990/91″, signed by Minister M. A. Alieva (scanned pages: first, second, third,fourth.)

Igor Nosov was born in 1973 in Ashgabat, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. He was an active science and technology amateur in his school years and took part in many Union-wide conferences, becoming a member of all-Soviet Society of Inventors and Rationalisators in 1988. He worked on aerospace engineering projects when a university student and kept his interests until today. Between 2004 and 2008 he led a small company selling machine tools. Igor Nosov is now representative of Kress Tools in the Volga region of Russia and boasts being an professional pneumatic drill user.

I.N. You certainly know that the Tournaments in those years were organized with initiative from the Soviet Ministry of National Education and the Lomonosov Moscow State University. I can name several initiators of those Tournaments, Velikhov, Zatsepin, Yunosov; there was certainly someone from the Ministry of National Education, but I don’t remember the names on that level. I have preserved the copies of orders and prescriptions from the Ministry of Education concerning the YPTs.

The top teams were from Physico-Mathematical School at Moscow Physics Engineering Institute and Physico-Mathematical School 18, Moscow, if I am not mistaken. I represented teams of regional scale and during these three years had to deal even with organization problems.

The Tournament for me was a springboard. It is a unique event, very actual even today. It allowed me to develop an algorithm for behavior and analysis, and to well adapt to various life situations. Until today, I do not quit physics and continue my fundamental theoretical projects, even though I work in a completely different area.

These years, I took part in many scientific and technical youth events and I may say that the organizational level of all Tournaments was very high. The Tournaments were held in a modern and comfortable youth sport center in the village Ivakino (I don’t remember the name of the center.)

As far as I remember, there were teams from different countries. I personally contacted boys from Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. These boys were making reports in Russian, but there were also presentations in English, I clearly remember that.

I can clearly recall all successes and failures of my teams, as I was the captain throughout these three years.

The third team I had, in 1990, was the strongest one.

I.M. What teams did you represent?

Throughout these three years, we were the only team from Central Asia, I don’t know why. The information came from the Ministry of National Education, and was transferred to the Small Academy of Sciences. I was then a very known and active person in science and technology amateur projects (sorry for self promotion) at the USSR level; my name was familiar to responsibles at the Ministry, and it may have led to the decision they took. Another possible explanation is that there was no specialized physics and mathematics school in Ashgabat, and my school was the only with a focus in mathematics and physics (even though the name was just a secondary school.)

I am sending you all the documents that survived from the Tournaments. The problem sets and all other papers were thrown out by my wife as early as in 1992. I have a quality to always keep the information, and often look for something in my archive which weights 5 tons. My wife often refreshes it and I feel bad afterwards.

I.M. The name of the center was Olympiets. Did all teams live there throughout the Tournament?

I.N. Yes, only participants from Moscow possibly did not live there. The nightlife was sparkling with discos, videos and girls.

I.M. Can you try to complete the list of international participants in 1988-1990?

I.N. Unfortunately, I spent all Tournaments working on the problems and did not have time to make acquaintances. I never took part in the social life of the Tournaments, because I am more a lone person.

I.M. Did you preserve the team diplomas as well?

I.N. Our team leader confiscated the team diplomas. I am affraid they have not survived.


I.M. How did you first learn of the YPT and how your team was selected?

I.N. It all began when my supervisor at the Small Academy of Sciences of Turkmen SSR V.I. Karabash (a PhD specializing in solid state physics) announced at a lesson that a tournament in physics was planned in Moscow in 1988. That is why the first team all consisted from members of the physics section at Small Academy of Sciences, in Ashgabat.

I received a small brochure with problems for the Tournament. Five participants and one team leader were required.

Our supervisor knew personal capabilities of every participant, so he distributed the problems. It was reported to us, as always, “well in advance”, namely in two weeks before the Tournament.

Our main problem was to get airplane tickets to everyone, it was more difficult than to solve all Tournament problems. I needed to run around offices of several officials in several governmental departments, and we succeeded to get the tickets in the end.

In general, the idea and principles of the Tournament were an absolute novelty and were not known to anyone in the wide science community. That is why the authorities (I mean, republican) paid no attention to the composition of the team, to participants and to the team leader. It was important only to take part in the event.

Most our solutions were on posters, like as solutions by other teams. There was someone who made reports with transparencies, I can recall overhead projectors.

I.M. How the Inernational rounds in 1988 were organized? Was there a selection for the combined national Soviet team?

I.N. There was no Soviet national team, I don’t remember that. There were just teams from many Soviet schools, and foreign teams.

I.M. Can you suggest that the 1st IYPT had differences in organization in comparison to the 2nd IYPT and 3rd IYPT?

I.N. The 1st IYPT and the 2nd IYPT were the most pompous. There was even a diner at Hotel Ukraina in the end, if I remember correctly.

But my first debut in 1988 was not successful for me as my performances in further years. Everything was new to me, not like as at Olympiads. When I reported my solution, a juror told me that it was not correct to show calculated results with the precision of 4 or 5 digits after the decimal point, and my score was decreased due to that. Since then, even now, I never show results with the precision of more than one digit after the decimal point.

I am attaching an address by Evgeny Pavlovich Velikhov. It was a separate sheet of paper, in a nice cover, and was distributed to all participants of the competition. I personally contacted a lot with Evgeny Pavlovich. He was then very young, but already a member of Academy of Sciences, and personally signed diplomas.

I.M. Can you suggest if international teams took part in all Selective Fights with Soviet participants?

I.N. Check the list of problems for 1988. There seemingly was a problem on “Incandescent lamp” in 1988. That means, boys from Bulgaria were there in 1988, because I remember us and them at a Physics Fight discussing this problem.

I.M. That clearly means that all teams, all Soviet and all international, played in all Selective rounds together.

I.N. Ideologically, we played on an equal basis, together.


I.M. There have been concerns about the problems discussed at all-Soviet and international rounds in 1989. If I am not mistaken, some problems at the correspondence rounds differed from the final problem set.

I.N. In Moscow, we discussed exactly the same problem set we received in Ashgabat. But it was primarily important of how you solve something, not what exactly you solve.

We were sometimes supplied with additional problems, “as a snack”, to see who and how can solve them without preparation.

I.M. Can you recall any of problems you discussed in 1989?

I.N. I remember the problem “Mosquito”. I refused to solve it as I considered this problem a bad joke.

There was a problem about Karlsson. I personally solved it but saw that jury was not happy. They said, “the solution is too technical.” I solved the problem similarly to the helicopter theory, but there was strawberry jam instead of fuel.


I.M. Am I right that in 1990, the IYPT was held as a separate event from the all-Soviet YPT?

I.N. It was not held as such, at all. It was expected to be held outside USSR in May-June 1990. It was first planned to be held in Czechoslovakia, but there were political events there in 1990. Then, there were thoughts of London, but seemingly there was shortage of money. So finally, it was held in Moscow, in the same Olympiets Center.

I.M. What problems did you discuss at Tournaments in 1990?

I.N. Once, I opposed the problem on the cylinder in a tube reported by the Physico-Mathematical School 18 from Moscow. They made a mistake because they made calculations for a tube opened from one end, but it ought to be closed, according to the task, so all dependences would be completely different. I got 5+ for that.

But that was not in the combined team, we were in a Turkmen republican team during that Physics Fight.

There was a problem on the Franlklin’s wheel, a reverse sprinkler, and it was very tricky.

There was a problem on cubic planet, you must know it. I recently argued with an astrophysicist about this problem.

I.M. You were a member of a combined Soviet team at 3rd IYPT?

I.N. Yes, I was. But I hardly can remember anyone from the team. We saw each other only several times.

I went to the competition in Summer 1990. Out of Soviet teams, there was a combined team, a team from School 542 and School 18, if I remember correctly.

I.M. I can suggest that there were students from Riga in this combined Soviet team. Can you confirm that?

I.N. I cannot remember anyone from Riga. And why do you ask about Riga? I heard a lot about Odessa there. There was a very strong and very sociable boy from Odessa, but I don’t remember his name.

I.M. So students from Odessa took part in the combined team?

I.N. Students from various teams were in the combined group, but I cannot remember them, because there was no Tournament as such, I just saw them several times.

I.M. How the combined team was selected? Did you take part in the combined team in Summer 1990?

I.N. The physics fight with School 18 was when I was in a team from Turkmen republic, it has nothing common to the Soviet combined team. I was selected into the Soviet combined team in result of earlier achievements. And, yes, I went to join the combined team in Summer 1990.

I.M. I am very impressed of the document allowing admission to any Soviet university without examinations.

I.N. You know, when we got these certificates, we could no longer think of the Tournament.

The diploma was returned to me from the archives of the University. The diplomas I got in 1989 were exactly as this one from 1990. And one from 1988 was more beautiful. I did not see the team diplomas much and do not remember them because they were immediately confiscated.

The documents from the Ministry mention these personal diplomas as having different degrees. That seems strange to me because I have never seen any degrees on personal diplomas throughout the three years.

I.M. Thank you for your help and for scanning these fantastically rare documents.

I.N. If you succeeded in finding me, you will succed in finding the lists of participating teams. I remember only those I contacted personally and cannot be certain for entire list.

The interview was primarily taken between August 26 and September 2, 2009

Svetlana Mesyats shares YPT photos from early 1988


Svetlana Mesyats took part at the 10th Young Physicists’ Tournament and the 1st IYPT on behalf of Physico-Mathematical School 542, Moscow. She soon entered the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute and graduated with a degree in quantum electronics. Svetlana learned ancient languages in the Yu. A. Shichalin’s Greek and Latin cabinet, and started her PhD studies at the Instite of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, defending her thesis on “Aristotelian physics in neo-Platonism. Proclus, Stoicheioses physike” in 1999. She is now a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, working in the sector of philosophical problems of the history of science. Svetlana collaborates with the Center for the study of ancient philosophy and classical tradition, Novosibirsk State University, and gives lectures at the State University of Humanities on the history of ancient philosophy, metaphysics and ontology.

S.M. I was very pleased to hear from you that the Young Physicists’ Tournament, in which I took part long ago, has grown into an international event and it’s history is of interest.

I indeed was a participant of the 1st International Tournament in 1988 representing the team of Scholl 542 and took part in the “summary session”, but I could not recall any specific details. I don’t even remember if there were any European teams at all. Teams from Soviet republics, e.g. from Estonia, were certainly there, but I cannot say anything concerning Bulgaria, Hungary or Poland.

Unfortunately, I cannot even say if we were officially announced winners and were awarded with a diploma. Seemingly, that it because too much time passed by, I left physics aside and now work in a different area.

What remained, are several photos from the Tournaments (from the meetings held in the Moscow State University) and a general feeling of success from a first independently made scientific work (in which I had to determine why the Sun looks flattened at sunset.)

I.M. Can you please scan these photos?

S.M. Four of them are made at the Department of Physics, Moscow State University, where the competitions were held. They show a Fight between our school and School 710 (it was from Chernogolovka, if I am not mistaken.) On the photos, you can find Yury Yufryakov, Anton Kuzmin, Alexander Fokin, Lena Gubankova, Filipp Alpatov, Alexander Cheburkin, Zhanna Pak, me, and many other persons whose names I already don’t remember, unfortunately.

There is a date on the back of these photos, January 20, 1988.

Photo 1: In the left, near the blackboard, stands Anton Kuzmin. To the right is the team from School 710.

Photo 2: In the first row is Alexander Fokin. In the second row are Yury Yufryakov, Svetlana Mesyats, and Elena Gubankova. I don’t remember who is in the third row. In the fourth row, a young man in glasses is Filipp Alpatov, and a smiling girl is Zhanna Pak.

Photo 3: Near the blackboard with a briefcase is Anton Kuzmin. Near him, with hands on the table, is Alexander Cheburkin. By the way, the resuts of the competitions are seen on the blackboard.

Photo 4: Boys from School 710, our competitors.

One more photo, taken on a railway station, shows our team during a visit of friendship to Tallinn. We are on this photo with the boys from the Tallinn YPT team. We became so close friends during the International Competition that they invited us to their town. In the far right is Vladimir Alminderov, next to him is the team leader of the Tallinn team (I don’t remember his name), then four boys from Tallinn, an then are we, Yury Yuryakov (looks out from behind), Alexander Rodionov, me, Lena Gubankova, and then stands another boy from Tallinn.

The photo is dated April 30, 1988.

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