Interview with Theodor Toma - European Youth Champion under 12

by Sorin Gherman, July 2007

Theodor Toma, 11 years old, is the European Youth Champion at the "Under 12" category. He is Romanian, and he won the title in March 2007, undefeated, at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

Theodor will soon play in the World Youth Go Championship, in Boston (between August 6-12, 2007).

This is an interview I recently conducted with him over email.

Theodor Toma photo

When did you learn to play Go?

I learned Go from my father, a long time ago... I first registered in a Go tournament when I was 4, at the Romanian National Youth Championship, and I've played since in almost all youth tournaments (and many regular tournaments as well).

Why do you like to play Go?

I like Go because it is a strategy game: pure chance does not play any role. Also, it develops one's thinking process.

Do you play Go a lot?

I play 2-3 ore every day (but if you ask my father he'll say I play less than that :-))

Note: Theodor's father, Iulian Toma, is a 3 dan Go player.

How do you study Go?

I replay professional games and I study Go problems from books. But I mostly enjoy playing: I play Go both online (on KGS) and at our local club here in Braila (it is called "CS ATARI Braila"). I train with older kids, with my dad, and in general with stronger players.

What countries did you visit for Go tournaments?

I went to European Youth Championships in Czech Republic, French, Germany, Slovakia, Russia and Netherlands. I mostly liked Netherlands - because that's where I became European Champion...

I am looking forward to the World Youth Championship in Boston next month - this will be my first visit to the USA.

Do you like Hikaru no Go?

Yes, I do: I like it because it's about Go, and because it's Japanese - I like most of the Japanese cartoons.

Also, I like that Hikaru cannot get ahead of Touya no matter what he does - don't get me wrong, Hikaru is my hero, but I don't like the scenarios where the main hero always wins.

What do you do when you don't play Go?

I like to play computer games, to read Spiderman cartoons, and I also like to draw (mostly super-heroes).

Also, I spend a lot of time with LEGO type toys, I like to build.

I also like sports: I play handball (I am a member in our school's team), and tennis (2-3 times every week).

How is school - anything you like or dislike in particular?

My favorite subject is Mathematics. I also like Romanian literature and History.

About dislikes... I don't have any: you learn something interesting from every subject.

Any advice for other kids who are interested in Go?

Kids should pay attention to and try to understand everything their teacher tells them. They should play a lot and love the game. They shouldn't be upset when they lose - just keep learning, fight and trust that they'll succeed.