Alexandre Dinerchtein 3p
In one sentence: 7 times European champion.
In 3 parapraphs:
I started to play Go in 1986. I was 6 years old and my father (10 kyu) was my first teacher. For the several years I was playing both chess and go, but from the age of 10 I gave up chess and started to learn Go more actively with a new teacher Valeryi Shikshin, 4 dan and his students. I was very fortunate to be living in Kazan, because it was the capital of Russian Go. There were so many top players around me : Ivan Detkov 6d, Valeryi Solovyev 6d, Ruslan Saifullin 6d, Rustam and Nail Sahabutdinov both 5d, Alexei Vasilev 5d and Roman Gataullin 5d. They kindly gave me Go lessons and I owe them a big debt of gratitude.
In 1996 (I already was a 5-dan) Cheon Pung-cho, 7-dan professional from Korean Baduk Association (KBA) invited Svetlana Shikshina (daughter of my teacher) and me to study Go in Seoul. First of all I was really surprised at the level of the Korean children. I was living in one of the largest Go Schools, and there were around 20 students who were both stronger and much younger than me. Later I changed clubs several times, but I was never the strongest player in any of them. I studied Go with Pak Yeong-hun, who was already the strongest Korean amateur (I only beat him once, in 1998), Pak Chi-eun 9p, Yi Chae-ung 6p, Yi Ta-hye 3p, Kang Don-yun 9p, Ko Kun-tae 7p and later, from 2001, with Pak Cheong-sang 9p, Chu Hyeon-wook 7p and Pak Chi-hun 3p. By the time you read this article many more of the children who were training alongside me will have become professionals.
I became a professional in 2002, by the special decision of the KBA with the kind support of Cho Nam-ch'eol 9p, an honorary member of the KBA, and my teacher Cheon Pung-cho 7p. I am probably not the weakest professional here, but to be honest, I would say that there is about 1 stone difference between me and the other new professionals in Korea. Nowadays I am still studying hard to make this difference smaller.