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Playing gomokunarabe on an international server, I saw a couple of Russian players saying "выиграть его," and the intended meaning apparently was "to win against him" as far as could judge from the context.

I got puzzled, because I had been taught that the correct way to say "to win against him" is "выиграть у него."

I did some research in Google and found that the preposition "у" is indeed frequently omitted:

(1) Впервые ХК «Сахалин» выиграл соперника всухую. (Source)

(2) Мирза Абдуллабеков боролся в категории 66 кг, представлял Республику Беларусь. В 1/8 финала выиграл соперника из Италии, в ¼ выиграл американца, в ½ встретился с французом, которому проиграл. За бронзовую медаль выиграл борца из Польши. (Source)

(3) В финале весовой категории 75 кг осетинский борец выиграл соперника из США Брэдли Гиллума со счетом 11:0. (Source)

(4) Я выиграл соперника в честном бою один на один, а не 30 на одного, когда они напали на автобус. (Source)

It is obvious that these examples are not typos. These sentences are from various sport articles, and Sentence (1) is even an article title. Sentence (4) is from the central Russian sport newspaper Sport Express. I also found really many similar examples.

I asked one of my teachers about this, and he said that "выиграть кого-то" means "to win someone as a prize." He insisted that the only grammatical way to say "to win against someone" is "выиграть у кого-то." But I did not show him any examples from sport articles, because I did not want to make him feel that I doubt the validity of his words.

I also found the following example in Google:

(5) Ты выиграл женщину, а я ничего. Чего тебе еще надо? (Source)

Apparently, this sentence is about winning a woman as a prize, not about winning against a woman.

I am so much confused. It looks like either many Russian journalists do not speak their own language properly or I was taught wrongly.

My question is this: Is it correct to say "выиграть соперника" if the intended meaning is "to win against the opponent"?

If yes, I want a reference to some reputable grammar source that explicitly allows omitting the preposition у in such phrases.

If no, I would like to know how it is that so many Russian journalists use that phrase.

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    I really do appreciate how you started to put more effort in making questions clearer, thank you very much for this! – shabunc Jun 19 at 17:08
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    i guess it's a result of laziness, because nothing changes other than presence of the preposition – Баян Купи-ка Jun 19 at 17:24
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It's sports slang, mostly used in wrestling and martial arts, however it seems to spill into other sports as well.

Using animate words as direct objects in accusative instead of whatever other case is prescribed by the literary norm is a frequent thing in Russian jargons: работать клиента (hairdressers), охотить оленя, глистогонить кота etc.

  • Question just for my personal information. [охотить оленя] has known to me form [охотиться на оленя]. But I do not know right forms for other your 2 examples. I myself do use [работать клиента] in our place it means [разводить лоха]. I do not say [глистогонить кота] just because I do not have any cats, but for my ear that form is 100% ok, cause it is 100% friend of [лечить кота], [мучить кота], but [играть с котом] and I would never say [играть кота]. So, plese, tell me what is your right forms for your exmaple #1 and #3? – Tchibi-kun Jun 19 at 22:54
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    @Tchibi-kun: обслуживать клиента, давать коту глистогонное – Quassnoi Jun 21 at 18:38
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Technically speaking, it's not correct, the only three options are:

  • победить соперника, одолеть соперника, одержать над соперником победу, выиграть у соперника, обыграть соперника.
  • проиграть сопернику, уступить сопернику.
  • сыграть с соперником вничью.

When one says "выиграл женщину" (however stupid this phrase might sound personally to me) - it's indeed about not winning the woman herself in a competition but rather winning her as an objectified prize, like "выиграл в тире плюшевого мишку".

As of @Quassnoi answer - it might be something professional indeed but I'm not so sure as him - I can clearly imagine those just being typos.

UPD: I've consulted a friend of mine who used to be a professional sportsman and it turns out @Quassnoi is right! I don't know about all kind of sports but in wrestling this usage is quite common.

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    So all journalists who write "выиграть соперника", including the authors of the articles from which I took sentences (1)-(4), are just unprofessional uneducated simpletons who do not speak their own language properly? I wonder how Спорт Экспресс hires such journalists... And how could the corrector and editor miss this? – Mitsuko Jun 19 at 17:10
  • I've updated the answer, @Mitsuko! – shabunc Jun 19 at 17:12
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    @Mitsuko: many Russian wrestlers and martial arts athletes are not ethnic Russians and this fact leaves its mark on their jargon. The Sport Express article quotes Khabib Nurmagomedov who is an ethnic Avar, it's his direct speech. – Quassnoi Jun 19 at 17:15
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    @Quassnoi : Oh, so it is a kind of "long time no see" and "my bad," right? Totally ungrammatical phrases that were introduced by non-native speakers and somehow became idioms, just like these two English phrases. – Mitsuko Jun 19 at 17:18
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    @Mitsuko - I really think that all journalists who write "выиграть соперника", including the authors of the articles from which you took sentences (1)-(4), are just unprofessional uneducated simpletons who do not speak their own language properly. They simply don't know that one's got to say either "обыграть соперника" or "выиграть у соперника", and nothing in between. And believe me, there are no more editors there, or they are as illiterate as the authors of those articles. That's because people stopped to read books nowadays... – Yellow Sky Jun 23 at 22:47
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Ты выиграл женщину, а я ничего. Чего тебе еще надо?

It means that he won this woman as a prize.

[Выиграл у соперника и выиграл женщину.] = He won against the opponent and got the woman as a prize. If the would fail against the opponent, the opponent got the woman as a prize.

Simply speaking, woman was a bet.

My question is this: Is it correct to say "выиграть соперника" if the intended meaning is "to win against the opponent"?

  1. I will not be surprised, if I hear this from someone or read it in an newspaper article, but I mark inside my head, that this person is not beauty language lover and is [малоначитанный].

  2. In strict meaning of the word [выиграть соперника] means, that you get the opponent as a prize. For example, there was a bet, the person who fails to win become the slave (personal assistant) for 1 week and do any dirty job. In that case [выиграть соперника] is ok.

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