>A set of advices for YPT beginners, published by Evgeny Yunosov, Tatyana Korneeva and Igor Yaminsky in August 1987 together with the problems for the 1st IYPT, is now translated into English. “These advices look absolutely fresh and up-to-date”, an earlier opinion indicates.
Advices for beginners at the Tournament
T.P. Korneeva, E. N. Yunosov, I. V. Yaminskiy
How to solve a tournament problem
The Tournament problems often confuse a beginner. Sometimes, it is not even clear what, actually, has to be solved. It is then absolutely incomprehensible how to solve such a problem!
In this case, you should do what physicists do. The problem should be maximally simplified, shortened and limited in the framework of simple and clear assumptions; a formalized and clear question should be posed, so that one can try to answer it. Then, you should try to find a qualitative explanation. Dimensional analysis, considerations of similarity, and your intuition may help you here. But don’t stop on this.
The solution should be logical and comprehensive. Be courageous to make experiments! Remember that almost all Tournament problems can be researched experimentally.
You should be aware that involving advanced mathematics is not the ultimate goal at the Tournament. First of all, the qualitative explanation and the physical essence should be clarified.
How to work in team
Hold workshops and meetings for that.
The first of these meetings is organizational. Invite everyone who is interested in the Tournament. Read the tasks and encourage the volunteers to choose the problems they like. It is not a trouble if some problems are interesting for numerous persons, while other problems are ignored. The main goal of the first meeting is to start working.
It is not worth immediately electing the captain and determining the list of team members, but a «coordinator» for your efforts is necessary. He should know everything about the current affairs: schedule for the next meeting, what problems will be discussed, who has already solved a certain problem, what problems are not ready yet, what problems are currently abandoned etc.
Next meetings should be held in working order. You can listen to the solutions and encourage team members to improve these solutions after discussing critical remarks and corrections. If one of the solutions was confirmed to be ready, it is preferable to immediately compose it in a presentable view and place it into the folder for ready solutions.
The creative communities and the ultimate teams are gradually formed at such meetings. Shortly, it will be figured out that some of the participants are good at solving many problems, others have strong organizational skills, thirds do not solve problems but suggest fresh original ideas; some are good at making critical remarks or can create a positive emotional atmosphere and improve creativity. All of them are on their place, and the team needs them.
In mid-October , a short summary of what has been done is necessary. If some problems occur to be unsolved or entirely abandoned, they should be distributed among working groups with strict deadlines announced. Collaborative solutions may be developed that way. (Shortened presentations are allowed by the regulations, if necessary).
The list of team members and the captain should be determined at the last meeting.
Who your assistants are
Firstly, they are your physics teachers. They will not solve problems for you, but they can give advices and criticize your solutions. The teachers’ help is especially necessary for organization, to bring all of you together, to send you home right on time, to encourage one, to console another, and to warn the third person; to provide you with equipment, to teach you how to work with it, etc.
Your parents may help you. You can expect them to help you with non-traditional approaches and to assist you with something that your school cannot give you. To a large extent, this also corresponds to your relatives and friends.
University students who graduated from your school may also help you. A reasonable cooperation with them will be very productive. But do not replace your own active research with searching for assistants and relying on their support. If you have managed to “find” a solution to a problem, without solving it, such a “heroism” is not worth much.
Finally, a book is your greatest assistant. Many topics mentioned in the YPT problems have been, possibly, solved before at a certain extent. Use these obtained results with your creativity (and do not forget to provide a reference to the source). A book can give many advices and may teach you a lot.
We wish you good luck and many creative achievements!
 In 1987, Soviet teams were expected to provide written solutions for several problems. The deadline was on November 16, 1987. Winners of this Correspondence Round were later invited to further Selective Rounds, including Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Finals, held on different locations from late 1987 to early April 1988.
This translation was originally published on March 31, 2008 as a POISK Centre news release.