The 16th Russian Go Congress got off to an exciting start in Saint Petersburg on June 29th and 30th when 18-year-old Mikhail Svyatlovsky, a shodan from Moscow, won the Valery Astashkin Memorial Tournament. The traditional first tournament of the congress is held in honor of Valery Astashkin (1945-2008), the “Father” of modern Russian go. Astashkin (right) and Georgy Nilov were the first to spread and promote go in Russia in the 1970s. Together they published a series of introductory teaching articles in “Nauka i Zhizn” (Science and Life, a very popular Soviet/Russian magazine of the time) that produced hundreds of new players, clubs and tournaments. In 1977, Astashkin initiated the first USSR Go Championship and in 1989 he became the first president of the new USSR Go Federation.
This year’s Valery Astashkin Memorial Tournament attracted 55 players ranging in strength from 5-dan to 20-kyu. Its distinctive feature is a full handicap system, making it especially enjoyable and appreciated by kyu players who get a chance to take on stronger players as well as high dans who can practice their fighting skills. Three young aspiring Russian players topped this year’s event. In addition to winner Mikhail Svyatlovsky, who had already shone in several local and youth competitions, Anton Radyushkin 8k from St Petersburg came in 2nd and in 3rd place was Kim Shahov, a 5-kyu from Moscow who is just 11 years old.
The Congress, which attracts hundreds of players from all parts of the big country, as well as foreign guests, runs through July 7th and includes several go tournaments, including the Russian Team Championship and annual Russian Cup.
- reported by Daria Koshkina, Russian Correspondent for the E-Journal. Photo credits: Astashkin photo from Astashkin family archive; Svyatlovsky photo by Alexey Kozhunkov. Click here for tourney results (in Russian, not yet submitted to EGD).