SESC NSU 8th and 11th grade students, Nikita Sharov and Olesya Karpenko, won bronze medals as part of the 33rd International Tournament of Young Physicists (O-IYPT 2020) Russian national team. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tournament was postponed several times before it was officially canceled in August and they announced an online version that took place in September. In an official statement the Tournament organizers said,
Although this event cannot be considered a formal IYPT event due to our inability to meet all requirements, it will simulate the Tournament as closely as possible. We call on all teams and jury members to participate in this event.
The delays and uncertainty meant the Russian team was determined only two weeks before the start of the Tournament. Five members of regional teams who successfully played in national tournaments last season represented Russia at O-IYPT 2020. Many Russian coaches helped to prepare the team including Yuri Leonidovich Bashkatov (SESC NSU), Dmitry Spinov, Artem Sukhov, Anastasia Chervinskaya, and Alexey Krotov.
The Tournament was conducted on the Discord video conferencing service. Karpenko talked about the format,
I will only speak for myself, but I'm sure the majority of participants share my opinion that it was very inconvenient. A tournament is not only a solution to physics problems, results, etc. It is also communication during preparation, discussions about physics during the fight itself, and after the tournament. It is an incredible feeling when you sit in the lab for weeks with the whole team and coaches discussing, training, and getting ready. You really become one for the tournament. During the fight contact between the contestants and the judges is very important. It is much easier when you are all together live to present a report or an opposing discussion, etc. This provides completely different sensations.
According to Karpenko, the members of the national team had very little time to feel like a team since they were in different cities. Participants fr om Novosibirsk were lucky because Karpenko, Sharov, and Nikita Chernikov, one of the team leaders, prepared together and were video conferencing together during the competition.
Teams from 12 countries participated in the Tournament. The Russian O-IYPT 2020 team had five rounds against national teams from China, Taiwan, Canada, Slovakia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Hungary.
Sharon described the competition,
I made a report during the last fight of the Tournament, not including the final of course, and also helped my teammates to prepare our opposition and review. A physics fight requires teamwork and everyone is important. Let's say our team opposes another team, during their reporters presentation, our team should listen carefully, identify the key physics points, take notes for a presentation after our opponents. More importantly, in my opinion, teamwork happens earlier, when EVERYONE prepares for the fights, forms a general understanding of the physics of the problem for the opposition, carefully selects topics for discussion, or prepares a report and speaker as soon as possible.
In the Tournament results, the "Gold" went to the Canadian team, "Silver" to China and Ukraine, and Russia, Georgia, and Taiwan shared the "Bronze".
I am totally satisfied with our team’s results. It is surprising that we got medals considering we were established only two weeks before the Tournament, we were in different places, and never saw some of our teammates offline. It should be noted that tournament players from different teams and cities helped. Therefore, this was really a team of players and a team of leaders.
The Russian national team has not won an IYPT medal for several years. Yes, the situation this year was unusual. Yes, many strong teams did not participate in the online Tournament, but a result is a result. It means that this year the Russian national team and its leaders did something right. We will not be satisfied now with what has already been achieved. I am so pleased with our team’s result that I am ready to work next season to make it even better.
The IYPT in its traditional offline format is held annually in different countries. It is conducted according to YPT standards wh ere teams solve research problems alternately acting as a reporter, opponent, and reviewer. Many tasks, as in the Russian stages of the tournament, do not have unambiguous solutions. Students at SESC NSU are regular members of the national team including Ekaterina Zamaraeva (2019) and Polina Turishcheva (2018).