The Russian Pair Go Championship 2011

by Alexander Dinerchtein

It was the strongest tournament in Russian or even European Pair Go ever since. For the first time in history Svetlana Shikshina, 3p, took part in it paired with her brother Ilya Shikshin, 7d. Previously Svetlana once was the champion in Russian Pair Go with Oleg Mezhov, 6d.

Unconditionally the strongest Russian and European pair for many years straight – Dmitriy Surin, 6d, and Natalya Kovaleva, 5d, – were only second this time. They shared the second place with Artem Dugin, 5d, and Aigul Nureeva, 3d, from Kazan, both pairs scored with total 4-1. Ilya + Svetlana pair stayed undefeated (5-0). It was quite obvious even before the start of the tournament that it would be too hard for other pairs to fight with the Shikshins team.

deciding game

On photo: Deciding game for the 1st place: Surin/Kovaleva (left) vs Shikshin/Shikshina

I also took part in this tournament. I like Pair Go very much and it’s not for the first time I play it. I have started playing Pair Go since the Pair Go tournament on European Go Congress 1999 or 2000. At that time my partner was Julia Solomatina, 1d (Moscow). We did quite well and
even beat Saijo Masataka sensei + his 1k partner in even game, but in the end we did not get any prizes. The shared rank of our pair was too high, comparing to other teams, so we had to give a big handicap to many other pairs. Unfortunately Julia is not an active Go player anymore.

The last year I participated in European Pair Go Championship together with Elvina Kalsberg, 4d (rus172 on KGS) – one of the Insei League teachers. We got the second place, losing only to
Surin-Kovaleva pair. This year I was a bit late with the tournament registration, and all dan-
level girls were already “engaged” with other players. I suggested making up a team to Daria Koshkina, a 3k from Yaroslavl (veinarde on KGS). She was one of my students in Korean style Insei League on KGS and I knew her playing style as well as her weak and strong points in Go.

Our pair was not the strongest, as you know. We were #7, according to shared rating.
It was a big surprise for me when we beat 5d+5d pair (Vasily Andrienko + Dina Burdakova) in the second round. I suppose we found the right strategy for that game. I understood that it will be too hard for us to beat a 5d pair in yose, so we decided to play very aggressively from the early fuseki.

In the 3rd round we played against Shikshin-Shikshina team. You can see the record of this game
here:

To everyone’s surprise we were leading at some point in the middlegame! It proves that Pair Go is enormously different from the normal game. I noticed that even the two siblings had very different plans and it was quite hard for them to understand and follow each other. Check Black moves 51-53, for example when Ilya invaded and Svetlana played on the other side of the board.

Russian Pair Go Championship

On photo: Shikshin/Shikshina pair (left) vs Dinerchtein/Koshkina pair

In the last round we lost the important game to Dugin-Nureeva pair. We were leading, but lost
the favorable position just in 1 move, due to time pressure (the time limit was 1 hour without byo-yomi)

This experience was very exciting and I will surely take part in Pair Go tournaments again.
Try it too, if you did not play Pair Go before! It’s fun!

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