History of Young Physicists' Tournament in Russia - Features of Early YPTs

Features of Early YPTs

The structure of a Physics Fight was rather flexible in early 1980s and it took some years to reach quite a stable scheme. Some discrepancies between current IYPTs and early 1980s YPTs in Soviet Union are listed below.

  • The YPT was organized in several major rounds: the Correspondence Round, the Semi-Finals and the Finals. Since 1981, when the Quarter-Finals were held, Semi-Finals and Quarter-Finals were mentioned as Selective Fights. During the Correspondence Round, the students were supposed to provide written reports on selected problems that were later graded by jury. The teams that have sent researches of sufficient number and of sufficient quality were invited to Semi-Finals (As in 1980, 8 teams reached Semi-Finals. In 1981, 6 teams fought in Semi-Finals. Throughout 1980s, the number of teams at the Correspondence Round was at the order of 40).
  • In 1980s, the Semi-Finals were quite similar to today's common YPTs because the teams discussed the problems of the Correspondence Round (that they had known in advance). However, these problems were typically released just in few weeks before the event.
  • Not all the problems were known before the competition; some problems were delivered to the participants just at the Finals (as for 1980, the Finals included “big” problems (to be solved in 1 hour) and “little” problems (to be solved in 10 min). Since 1982, mostly 1-hour-problems were proposed). The method of solving challenging tasks at a competition (still with a possibility to use any advice, literature reference, experimental evidence etc.), now abandoned, may have provided a chance to check if the participants could apply their skills to certain problems, without long preparatory phase.
Examples of 1980 “big" problems: “Estimate the contact time between a floor and a given elastic ball as it falls down from a height of 1 m”; “Study and explain the behavior of a filament of a light bulb when it is approached by charged bodies”.
”Examples of 1980 “little" problems: “A magnet doesn’t influence on a wooden match. However, if a match is burned, it is attracted by a strong magnet. Explain this phenomenon"; "If you align a sheet of metal foil on a rigid surface and you move your nail in a certain direction, the metal foil will tend to bend upwards. Why?
An example of 1986: it was proposed to determine the mass of the paper replica of Montgolfier balloon that was provided at the finals of YPT in 1986, but the participants could not approach the replica.
  • Number of students in a team was flexible. In 1981, no more than 15 participants within a single team were allowed.
  • As for 1981, an Opponent was not allowed to ask more than 8 questions to the reporter.
  • Observers, or so called bolelschiki (fans), were also solving certain problems. In 1980s, every observer that had gained some points could grant his points to any of the participating teams. In 1982 the observers had 50 min to solve their problems, but only 5 min in 1985.
  • All in all, at least 25-40 problems were to be solved at a certain YPT (at a Correspondence Round, at Semi-Finals, at Finals, at Captain’s contests, at Observers' contests etc. ) Not all the problems were published, and as for 2007, it is quite common when former YPT participants reveal unpublished problems from their archives.

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