No unsolvable problems: two stories of the International Math Olympiad participants

No unsolvable problems: two stories of the International Math Olympiad participants
Gold medal winner Oleg Smirnov and silver medal winner Ivan Gaidai-Turlov told how many stages you need to go through to get the coveted award. Spoiler: a lot of them.

Task: six Russian schoolchildren, four of them Muscovites, went to the United Kingdom to participate in the International Math Olympiad (IMO). For two days they will have to solve complicated problems. In addition to children from Russia, teenagers from 112 countries attend the Olympiad. Question: what result will the Russian team show if its participants have come only for gold and silver medals?

Without complex mathematical calculations, the answer is obvious — the team has coped with the task. Moscow schoolchildren Timofei Kovalyov and Oleg Smirnov from the Kolmogorov Boarding School won gold medals, and Valery Kulishov and Ivan Gaidai-Turlov from school No. 57 became silver medalists.

The 60th International Math Olympiad was held in the United Kingdom from 10 to 22 July. It was attended by 112 countries, with each representing a maximum of six students. In total, the competition brought together about 600 participants.

It had two rounds, with three tasks in each. Students demonstrated knowledge in geometry, number theory, algebra and combinatorics. In 2020, IMO will be held in St. Petersburg.

Last year, the Russian team took second place at the 59th International Math Olympiad in Cluj-Napoca (Romania). School students won five gold and one silver medal.

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How to become a member of the Russian national team, how does the love to mathematics start and how do victories in Olympiads help in life? had a talk with gold and silver medalists of the International Math Olympiad.

Oleg Smirnov: I guess I'm talented in something, and I guess this something is mathematics

Gold medal of the International Math Olympiad

Kolmogorov Boarding School

A week ago, the International Math Olympiad, considered the most prestigious one, finished. The Olympiad was held in the UK, in Bath city, and lasted seven days. For two days we performed tasks, and then five days we recreated and waited until the jury, consisting of international experts, renowned mathematicians, will check our work. As a result, the Russian national team has two gold and four silver medals. The team included four Muscovites, who won 2 silver and 2 gold medals.

We were preparing for the Olympiad as seriously as possible. Naturally, we had been set up to show the best result. And it depends only on how many math problems you solve. I coped with four of them considered simple ones. I also solved one of the two very difficult problems a maximum 30 people coped with, and made great progress in solving the second difficult problem that resulted in a gold medal. Those who have silver medals, missed only three points to get the gold one.

The first three winners in the team event are the USA, China and South Korea. All of them were quite ahead of us in the total number of points scored. Surely, we may say we were not lucky enough with the option, but I think we just need to work harder to show the best result next year. You need to admit your mistakes. There is room for improvement, and we can perform even better.

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My Olympiad career began in the 4th form, when I started to attend the math club. After the 6th form was over, my family moved to Moscow from St. Petersburg, and I proceeded with my studies at the Pedagogical Excellence Centre. Later, I participated in the All-Russian Olympiad four times, after the second time I was invited to a high-profile summer training camp to train the international Olympiad applicants.

Now, I have graduated from the 11th form, and it was my last Olympiad. I have already entered the Higher School of Economics, the Mathematics Department. I see my future like that: perhaps I will engage both in mathematics and economics to bring benefit to my country, and at the same time use some of my abilities, because, I guess, I am talented in something, and, perhaps, this something is mathematics.

I do not want to engage in science only, but in something that has to do with real life, most likely, it is mathematics and economics or mathematics and programming combined.

I had an opportunity to enter the mathematics department in any university, as I have a diploma of All-Russian Math Olympiad's winner, the diploma of the Olympiad in Economics' winner and the diploma of Physics Olympiad's winner, too. With the list of universities to enlist me without exams being quite wide, I have chosen Higher School of Economics. It is believed that Russia boasts several universities with a specialized intensive educational curriculum, with the Higher School of Economics among them.

Ivan Gaidai-Turlov: To take part in the international tournament, you need to prove every time that you deserve it

The silver medalist of the International Math Olympiad

School No. 57

During two rounds of the Olympiad we had to solve three problems, arranged by complexity. We had 4.5 hours to do it.

I had no doubt that I would have a medal. But after checking the completed tasks, I realized that I could not count on the gold medal. I had 28 points — four problems solved, with lost points on two more difficult problems. This year, to get the gold medal you had to score 31 points. Each year, this rate varies depending on the degree of problems' complexity.

I took interest in mathematics when I was 5. My mother printed out logic puzzles for me, and I solved them. At some point, she could not find any tasks for me left, so I started to attend a math club.

I graduated from the 10th form of the school of mathematics No. 57. This means that I have a chance to take part in the International Olympiad once again. Next year, it will be held in St. Petersburg. To get into the top six, you need to pass difficult qualifiers. There are no indulgences for this Olympiad’s winners and awardees — all school students are treated equally, and to be enlisted for the international tournament, you have to prove each time that you deserve it. But I am ready to go through all the qualifiers again to enter the Russian team in 2020.

Qualifiers are as follows: first, you have to show good results at the All-Russian Math Olympiad, and then about 200 people are selected to attend the summer training camp, with about a month of classes and two Olympiads, each lasting two days, held. We have to solve four problems in five hours.

Those who show the best result — 25-30 people — get to the winter training camp, where they prepare and prove themselves at the intermediate exams. The camp has two stages, with one Olympiad in each stage. According to the results, only 15 people pass further. They take part in three training Olympiads and participate in All-Russia Olympiad, then 6 people are selected according to the results to be included in the national team of Russia.

I prepared for IMO at the classes in the 'Ermine' math club and the Pedagogical Excellence Centre, and in addition solved problems on my own. Also, I received good training at the training camp.

I have not yet decided where I will go next year, but definitely my profession will be related to mathematics. I'm also fond of programming, but I will not participate in the Olympiad, as it takes too much time to prepare, and I do not have it, with all my efforts spent on mathematics.

This year, we had three programming projects at school, within which we had to create apps. One team made a testing system for strategy games like tic-tac-toe. Another team made a foreign language interpreter, and we were engaged in the development of the Labyrinth game. It was not very successful. This was our first experience; we will try to improve our skills next year. This also applies to mathematics.