Physics Fight regulations at the 1st IYPT (1988)

1988, Historical IYPT documents — ilyamartch @ 4:42 pm

Regulations of a Physics Fight, as they were accepted before the 1st IYPT (1988), were published in a booklet provided to participants (pp. 13-16.) These Regulations are now translated from the Russian.

Download: the original Russian text, in the booklet Young Physicists’ Tournament: regulations and problems for 10th Moscow, the all-Soviet and the International Young Physicists’ Tournaments (Moscow, 1988), preserved by Bulgarian participant Rumen Bachev (pdf.)

The Physics Fight regulations

The Physics Fight is carried out according to the “Reporter–Opponent–Reviewer” system in 6 stages under the following scheme:

The stage regulations:

a) Presentation of the Reporter 5 min
b) Discussion of the report
- individual performances in the discussion
1 min
c) Presentation of the Opponent 3 min
d) Presentation of the Reviewer 2 min
e) Concluding discussion
- individual performances in the discussion
1 min
f) the Jury takes the floor (concluding remarks) 4 min

The Challenge

The Opponent may challenge the Reporter on any problem offered in the given Physics Fight. The Reporter may reject the challenge (without explaining the motivation, e.g. for tactical considerations); if so, a new challenge is carried out. A team may reject the challenge only twice during a single Physics Fight.

The team performance

The Reporter (a single or a few team members) present the essence of the solution to the problem, attracting the attention of the audience to the main physical ideas and conclusions. It is preferable to show drawings, posters, [framed] slides [for a slide projector], photographs (all prepared in advance), and to demonstrate experiments if the problem is an experimental one.

In the polemics, the solution presented by the Reporter is discussed. The Opposing team has a priority in the sequence of performances. The Reporter answers to the questions from the audience.

The Opponent in his performance presents critical remarks about the report, pointing to inaccuracies and errors in the understanding of the problem and in the solution. The performance of the Opponent should not become a presentation of his own solution.

The Reviewer presents an estimation of the presentations of Reporter and Opponent.

In the concluding polemics, the presentations of the Opponent and the Reviewer may be discussed. The Opponent and the Reviewer may present their own solutions, at the discretion of the Jury.

Limitations of the number of presentations

No member of a team may take the floor as Reporter, Opponent or Reviewer more than twice during one Physics Fight, and only once in the role of the Reporter.

Additional performances in the discussion are without limitations.

The Jury of a Physics Fight

The chairperson of a Physics Fight monitors that the Regulations are complied, gives the floor to the participants (or deprives them of the floor), and coordinates the actions of the teams.

The Jury of the Physics Fight grades the presentations of the Reporter, the Opponent and the Reviewer and all additional performances, and summarizes in their concluding remarks the discussion of the problem, pointing to the advantages and the drawbacks of the solution.

The grading of the team performance is carried out according to an extended school grading scale. “5+” and ”2” are exceptional marks and may be put only with a compulsory explanation of the reason.

The marks are transformed into grades according to the following table:

The grading of the additional performances is carried out according to the school grading scale, and the marks are transformed into grades according to the following table:

Invitation letter to the 1st IYPT (1988)

1988, Historical IYPT documents — ilyamartch @ 8:22 pm

The formal invitation letter to the 1st IYPT (1988), published in a booklet sent to international participants, is translated from the Russian by Alexei Shekochikhin. The document announces the expected schedule of the event and provides rationale of why the International Young Physicists’ Tournament was to be launched.

Download: the original Russian letter, in the booklet Young Physicists’ Tournament: regulations and problems for 10th Moscow, the all-Soviet and the International Young Physicists’ Tournaments (Moscow, 1988), preserved by Bulgarian participant Rumen Bachev (pdf.)

Dear comrades,

Since 1979, Moscow Young Physicists’ Tournament is annually held in the Soviet Union for the students from secondary schools of the country of grades 8-10 (11) .

During these years, the Tournament turned into one of the important forms of work with gifted youth and gained wide popularity in the USSR.

M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University is the organizer of the Tournament.  The Organizing Committee and the Jury are formed of scientists and students of the University.

The main difference of the Tournament from the Physics Olympiads is in the fact that its tasks are the physical problems, which students are to solve collectively during a long time (1-2 months.) Discussion and defense of the proposed solutions have a format of scientific discussion.

Moscow State University with the support of the Central Committee of All-Union Leninist Young Communist League (CK VLKSM) is taking an initiative to organize the International Young Physicists’ Tournaments. We address you with an offer to participate in the 1st International Tournament for the students from socialist countries, which is to take place in Moscow at the CK VLKSM’s Olympiets International Youth Center from March 28 to April 2, 1988.

We suppose every country to be represented by a delegation of 7 persons:

1. Team of students prepared for participating at the Tournament – 5 persons. (The knowledge of Russian language is preferred, but not compulsory.)

2. Team leaders – 2 persons

As it is expected during the Young Physicists’ Tournament to carry out an extensive exchange of experiences in work with talented youth and to discuss the question of establishing the Tournament’s International Organizing Committee, it is appropriate, in our opinion, for both team leaders to have an experience of work with students (in Physics Olympiads or in other forms.) One of them may be a university student.

All costs, except for return journey to Moscow, are covered by the host country (USSR.)

For you to have an opportunity to get acquainted in more detail with the idea of carrying a Young Physicists’ Tournament, we forward you the approximate schedule, regulations,  and problems of the forthcoming Tournament, and the booklet with problems from the Tournaments of past years.

We will be grateful if you inform us about your opinion on participating in the Tournament, and also about possible wishes and suggestions, before March 1, 1988 at the address USSR, 119899, GSP, Moscow, MSU, Department of Physics, Young Physics Tournament Organizing Committee.

We hope that holding the International Tournament will contribute to the further development of creative contacts and the friendship among the youth of our countries.

Rector of MSU, vice-president of the USSR’s Academy of Sciences, A. A. Logunov

Secretary of CK VLKSM, L. I. Shvetsova

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.

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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