Artem Kachanovskyi is the Ukraine's answer to Russia's Ilya Shikshin: a young player who is already a major threat to win every amateur tournament he enters. He spoke at length with Ranka before the awards ceremony for the 7th Korea Prime Minister Cup.
Ranka: When did you start playing go?
Artem: I started when I was seven years old. A couple of years before that, my father read a newspaper article that explained the rules. At the time, he thought I was still too young for intellectual games, so he waited for two years and then started teaching me. At first we -- my father, my older brother, and me -- learned together from books, by solving problems, and by playing. Rivne, which is my native city, also had, and still has, a go club and a go school for kids. There was a teacher there who liked go a lot and had many go books, and there were some stronger players, I guess you could call them a whole generation of keen players, who were studying go actively, so I had a chance to play with them and learn from them. Later my father became a go teacher for kids, but my brother stopped studying seriously and only played for fun.
Ranka: What big tournaments have you competed in?
Artem: I played in the European U12 Championship in Praha, Czechia when I was nine years old. As a 6-kyu, I didn't expect to accomplish much of anything, but I was surprised to take third place. That was my first serious tournament. I was studying go a lot around then. I liked it. I used to spend evenings with a go board and books, one of my favorite ways of spending time. Sometimes I would wake up at six o'clock to watch pro games or play go on the Internet. I first played in the European Go Congress in 2010. Although I still did not expect to win any prizes, I took second place among European players. After that people started to expect great things of me -- especially my parents. At the 2011 Congress I finished second again. Both times it was Ilya Shikshin who took first place. In 2010 I was one up going into the last round but lost by half a point to a Korean player and lost out to Ilya on SOS. In 2011 I played Ilya in the semifinal. I was winning for part of the time but I couldn't keep the game stable and lost.
Ranka: Have you been to Korea before?
Artem: I came to Korea in 2008 to study go for two months. After that, I've come for tournaments, but not to study.
Ranka: Do you find Korea much different from Europe?
Artem: Well, for one thing, Korean food is interesting but I'm not sure I could survive on a steady diet of it. Anyway, it's always very interesting to come to Korea, China, or Japan and try the food. As for the people, there are definitely some differences between Korean people and Ukrainian or European people. Perhaps Koreans are more emotional. Or perhaps they show their emotions differently, although the emotions are basically the same.
Ranka: Are you satisfied with your performance in this tournament?
Artem: No. I'm not satisfied with my play. I lost to the player from Canada, and in the other games, even though I won, I'm aware of mistakes that I made. I thought I could have played much better.
Ranka: Have you competed in the Korea Prime Minister Cup before?
Artem: Yes, I took fifth place two years ago. But it was an easier field then than this year. To me it seems that the European players on the whole were more successful in this tournament than they have been in the past. European players are getting better, especially young European players.
Ranka: What are your current activities, besides playing go?
Artem: I'm studying computer science at the Ukranian National University, and I'm now also working as a computer programmer. It's an interesting job, somewhat similar to go.
Ranka: What are your future plans?
Artem: I'd like to study go in Asia, and I'm hoping there will be a professional league in Europe soon, but all this may be just wishful thinking. The Ukranian Go Federation has to rely on Asiatic people. We get no financial assistance for popularizing go. At the big go school for kids in Rivne the teachers do get some remuneration but it's very small. The school still has more than a hundred students, but lately, go does not seem to be getting as much attention as it used to.
Ranka: Thank you, and we hope to hear more of you and the Ukranian Go Federation in the future.