Natalia Kovaleva (left) and Ilya Shikshin

Natalia Kovaleva began competing in tournaments in the far east in 2004, when she and Alexei Lazarev won three games at the International Amateur Pair Go Championship in Tokyo. A high point in her career so far came at the World Mind Sports Games in Beijing in 2008, where she won a game from a Japanese professional opponent. For the past couple of years she has been working for the Russian Go Federation. Ranka spoke with her after the first pair round, in which she and Ilya Shikshin lost to Japan’s Mukai Chiaki and Murakawa Daisuke.

Ranka: Please tell us about the place where you grew up and how you learned to play go.
Kovaleva: I was born in Chelyabinsk, which is a city of about a million people in the Ural moutains, already in Asia. I lived there until two years ago, when I moved to Moscow where I live now. So Chelyabinsk is where I started to play go, when I was seven years old. I began because my older brother played go. At first I saw go as a game that children play, and then it became a way for me to travel.

Ranka: Please tell us about your job with the Russian Go Federation.
Kovaleva: I help to organize tournaments, master classes, and other events like that.

Ranka: Who teaches at the master classes?
Kovaleva: I do. I also have time to study the game myself and learn more about it.

Ranka: Are you enjoying the World Mind Games?
Kovaleva: Yes, of course, of course. Except for the weather it has been a very good tournament. I like having so many different games here: chess, bridge, and the other games. It’s interesting to talk with the players of these other games. It’s also been very good as a go tournament because so many very strong players are here, and it’s turning out very well for me.

Ranka: What has been your best game here?
Kovaleva: I guess the pair-go game against the

Japanese pair. It was a very interesting game, and I like to play pair go. In my opinion pair go is more interesting than playing single.

Ranka: Thank you.