Q. Congratulations on winning the European Championship! Do you feel that your Go improved a lot during the last year?

A. Thanks. Well.. I really feel that I got stronger. I think its the result of my trainings in Korea last year. I needed some time to realize and learn how to use the knowledge that I receive there. And now it worked perfectly.

Ilya Shikshin, prizegiving ceremony, Tampere 2010

On photo: Ilya Shikshin (on the right) during the prizegiving ceremoney of the European Go Congress-2010

Q. What do you think about the future of the European Go after 10-20 years. Will the game become more popular or stay on the current level? How soon will we see the players, who can fight for top titles with Asian pros?
A. I hope we will be able to reach a new level of European Go. New level of players, organization and sponsorship. I think we go for it. Go becomes more and more popular. Now when I ask people “do you know what is go?” they answer “well.. I heard something about it”. But I dont think that Europe will be able to compete with Asia in near future. We have lack of traditions and respect for this game, which we can see on the Orient. Maybe something will change in 50 years…

Q. We created European Professional Go League few weeks ago in Tampere. What do you think about it?
A. Actually, I didnt know it was already created. I thought its a project for the next year. Anyway, in my opinion, its a good undertaking. It will raise authority of go in Europe, more people will want to play this game, increase their level, and me too.

Q. Do you use any computer programs, while preparing for tournaments at home?
A. No, I dont. I just watch new games of pro on wbaduk.

Q. You worked as Insei League teacher during 6 months. What can you say about this project? Do you feel that inseis are improving quickly?
A. I can say that creation of Insei League was a good idea. Unlike regular games on the Internet, games in this league inseis played seriously, as on tournament. That’s why they were getting stronger. Because, for example, when I play on the Internet I dont actually care about result and can lose to someone who is much weaker than me. I can play thousands of such games and I wont get a bit better. But when I go to tournaments, I work really hard during my games and strongly worry about the result. After I play a couple of tournaments I feel that I’m getting stronger.
(A.D: Ilya will still stay in the project, but next month he will only review league games, instead of playing simultaneous)

Q. You got the first place in blitz tournament on EGC-2010. I saw some games myself and was impressed. It’s not a big secret that you play well on handicap. Can we imagine one situation: Lee Changho, 9-dan has 50-50% chances with someone (about amateur 1d-3d) on 7 stones. Which handicap can you give to the same person for getting 50-50% chances?
A. Well.. it’s a trick question. Lee Changho is not best player on handicap, but I dont think I can do as good as him. I watched him playing batoo and he was counting points every single time. Its really tough to compete with someone like him.

Q. Who is your favorite professional and why?
A. I have 4 favorite professional players – Lee Sedol, Lee Changho, Gu Li and Kong Jie. They have different playing style, but most of their games come to the one end – to their win. That’s why I like to watch them.

Q. You just returned back from the European Team Go Championship. Russian team got the 3rd place, but you won all of your games on the first board. Were you disappointed?
A. No, I think we play well, as a good team. We had a really strong opponents. Teams from Serbia and Holland were at full strength. Well.. we could do better, but I dont think the result was bad.

Q. Do you play other games, except Go? I heard you had some successful results in poker
A. Yeah, I play poker on the Internet, but I dont have great result yet. Maybe one day it will be my way of earnings.

Q. There is an opinion, that young players must go to Asia, if they plan to improve a lot in Go. How do you think, is it possible to reach pro level, while staying in Europe or USA?
A. I think its possible, but it depends on many things. First, a boy should realize that go is not just a hobby for him, and he really wants to be a professional go player. Second, he need to have good books. Third, he should have a possibility to go to tournaments where he will be able to play serious games and compete with strong players. If he can get to the first row of European rating – I guess he will reach professional level.

Q. What do you think about your chances on KPMC in Korea in October?
A. I participated in this tournament in 2006 and took 7th place. I hope now I will be able to do a bit better.

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