I was first taught go in April 89' by Cristian Cobeli, at the time match teacher in my highschool after graduating the university in Bucharest. Now I believe his name is getting bigger in math research world. I made friends with the 3 other of his go disciples, Cramaru Marcel, Oancea Petre and Cristian Pop. Now all of them are quite strong amateur players. We played go all the time, even during school classes or late evenings in the park, when only white stones would stay visible.
Four months later I attended my first tournament. I was introduced by my friends as 6 kyu probation rank, and I played in the group of 10-4 kyu and won all my eight games. I recall the wonderful feeling of the tournament, it was played at the peak of the golden age for go in Romania and about 100 players attended it.
This succesful beginning and the fantastic connections that go created between people got me completely spell bound with the game. At the time, there was a tournament held every month and the enthusiasm of all players towards the game was just great.
In one year I made it to shodan, and one year later I was about 4 dan. I started to win also some small tournaments inside the country.
I started to participate to tournaments abroad, my first European Go Congress was in Canterbury, England. My first notable success was next year in Prague, when I got on the sixth place in the whole tournament and 3rd European tied with Laurent Heiser. My evolution in the Ing Cup also was interesting, from 16th place going down over the years to 8th, 5th and then in '95 I ended up in winning it. This was the year I went to Japan, at the kind invitation of Saijo Sensei, now the most prized professional in Europe, and as far as I can say, the best teacher one can ever have.
So in April 95 I went to Nagoya, Japan and become insei at the Nagoya branch of the Nihon Ki-in. Due mostly to the luck at having a wonderful teacher as Saijo sensei guiding me every step, as well as my own intensive study, I managed in only two years the breaktrough that many people in Europe were wondering if it will ever be possible. I was not the only one though who worked hard for this, so in the spring of '97 European go saw two of its representants turn professional: me and Hans Pietch from Germany.
My career as a pro went on quite as fast as the one as amateur: the same year I turned 2 dan, the next year 3 dan and the next one 4. Within two more years I managed to get to 5 dan, my actual ranking. This happened in the summer of year 2001.
Even as a pro I continued to participate to tournaments that gave me the oportunity to play in europe again: Fujitsu qualification tournament and the Ing Cup. I managed to win the Ing cup once more in '98 and Fujitsu in '97. I have to say that despite the tournaments in Japan being much better paid than those in Europe, in my heart I was always most happy when I came back to Europe to play go.