Ranka: Please tell us about your present life in Canada.
Svetlana: I moved to Canada in late June last summer. We’ve been living in a village with my husband’s parents, and I haven’t really gone anywhere for the last sixth months. I’ve been to only one tournament, the Canadian Open in Toronto in August. I played simultaneous games and saw many players. They had men’s, women’s, and children’s tournaments running at the same time. The winner of the Open was a young Chinese player. Most of the strongest Canadian players came originally from China, although there are a few Caucasian 5- or 6-dan players. I also met some professional players who were visiting from Korea and had a chance to speak Korean with them. It took three hours to get there, so I stayed there for the tournament, but I can’t do that type of thing often.
Ranka: And what were you doing before you came to Canada?
Svetlana: I was living in Russia, and I was doing many things, teaching in schools and playing in tournaments, but I can’t do that in Canada yet. We need to move to a bigger city first.
Ranka: Since you have Korean professional qualifications, will you continue to play in Korean professional tournaments?
Svetlana: In 2007 I moved back to Russia to have a baby. In January 2008 I got a letter from the Korean Baduk Association in which they told my they had promoted me from shodan to 3 dan, but I had to sign some papers agreeing to work to spread the game in Russia and other countries, and not to participate in Korean professional tournaments in the future–only in international tournaments.
Ranka: Are you now teaching Canadian go players?
Svetlana: No, there are very few people in the village where I live, and our house is far away from everything else. Even to go shopping you need a car, but I don’t have a driver’s license, so I just stay home. I only teach on the Internet.
Ranka: Please tell us more about your Internet teaching activities.
Svetlana: I have six or seven students. They’re from Russia or other European countries, but one of them is from Canada.
Ranka: Are you and your husband planning to live in Canada permanently?
Svetlana: Yes, but we intend to travel to Russia every summer, or at least I would like to take my son to Russia every summer, so that he won’t forget how to speak Russian. After going to school in Canada for six months, now when he speaks to me, sometimes he puts in English words when he can’t remember the Russian word.
Ranka: To change the subject, we’d like to ask you how you rate your brother Ilya.
Svetlana: I think he is as strong as the shodan women professional players in Japan and Korea, but still weaker than the shodan men professional players in those countries. But when he won the European championship a few years ago he was the strongest European player, and he is still one of the strongest.
Ranka: Can you tell us anything about the plans to start a professional system in Europe?
Svetlana: There is talk about this, but there was also talk about it a few years ago and nothing has happened yet. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Rank: Please tell us about the time you won the European Championship.
Svetlana: That was in 2006. That was my best tournament ever. I lost only two games and won the other eight. One player I lost to was Professor Lee Kibong, amateur 7 dan, my teacher at Myongji University in Korea. The other was to a Japanese player. The European Championship was an open tournament so anyone could participate. One of the eight players I beat was my brother Ilya. I beat him twice, in the European Championship and in the Masters’ Tournament, which I also won. Because of winning those two tournaments I was able to come to the Fujitsu Cup for one last time in 2007.
Ranka: Finally, what would you like to do to spread the game of go in the future?
Svetlana: If possible, I would like to start teaching children in Canada. When I was in Russia I taught at a chess club. Besides chess, they taught draughts and go. I was teaching primary school children. They liked my lessons, and when I had to leave they were all sad–some children even cried–they didn’t want me to stop teaching them. So I would like to teach children in Canada too, but I need go sets and a big demonstration board. I’ve already talked to the director of the school my son attends. They say I can teach there on a volunteer basis. The parents would probably approve of go lessons, because I wrote a paper about how go makes you smarter. Maybe next spring I’ll be able to start teaching at that school, if we can get the equipment.
Ranka: Thank you very much.
Note: be sure to check out Svetlanas website.