Sunday 25 September 2016

One for all? Or one against all?

martinrep2004Do teams in mahjong tournaments add someting to the game? Or are they just a living contradiction in terms? Martin Rep gives his opinion, as does Tina Christensen. So why don't you give yours?


NIJMEGEN - The three musketeers would have made lousy mahjong players with their device ‘all for one, one for all’. One of the thrilling things about mahjong is that you play ‘all against one, one against all’. Not 'team against team', like in contract bridge. It’s all about going out the first and then, depending on the rules, one of the others or all the others pay you.

But then, in 1998, China lifted the ban on mahjong. And the new rules which were designed, supervised by the Chinese government, became more than politically correct: no gambling - no smoking - no drinking (it’s a wonder mahjong is still played there in the first place!). And, the most unknown rule: playing by teams.

This is quite remarkable for the most individual of games which mahjong is. It was a new challenge for organizers of tournaments. You had to take care that never two or more players of the same team were seated at the same table.

Not that many people cared about this. Would you refrain from going out on behalf of your team mate at the same table? Well - perhaps you would; I most certainly would not.

Anyway - ever since the introduction and the relative success of the Beijing invented ‘new mahjong’, participants in official tournaments are teamed up. The points and table points of the individual members were added up and, voilà - you might win the team prize.

I have been in the organization of lot of tournaments, but about half of the players who subscribed, never bothered to set up a team with others. Some did, of course: members of the same club, the same family, friends or foes. I threatened them: 'If you do not fill in the team of your preference, then I will put you in a random team.' No one seemed to care much.


Okay - that’s just my opinion about teams. I asked Tina Christensen, the eminent president of Mahjong Denmark, about it, and she said that she doesn't share the feeling that people don't take the team competition seriously. And she may know better than me - after all, the Danish players are amongst the best in Europe.

Tina: “In my experience, many of Europe's traveling players, of all nationalities, like the friendly competition between the teams, the comparisons in the break of the results between the competing teams etc.

“As I see it, the team competition has succeeded in it's dual and contrary purposes of competition and social integration of (new) players. It has been my experience that it is nice when you come to you first tournament, it's nice to be put in a team, because you automatically have someone to talk about something with in the breaks, so I find it very socially inclusive that way.”


And how about you?

So. Now it is up to you. Please give your opinion in our new Mahjong News poll: how about teams in mahjong? Do they give something extra to the game? Do you like teams? Do you think it is just rubbish?


Please surf to our new poll (you will find it on the front page) and let us know what you think!



Martin Rep is the editor of Mahjong News.


Comments (5)Comments are closed
1Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:33
Gertjan Davies
Alltough i have an idea about organizing a Mahjong pair tournament (2 vs 2) The "team-play" on tournaments are not my cup of tea. If somebody asks me to join there team i usually say yes, but realy i don't care. Why? Because the teamplay is an artificial one on Mahjong tournaments. It isn't like a real teamsports like soccer for example where i can give an assist to a fellow teamplayer so he/she can score. But if people like it to be a part of a tournament, i don't mind if this exists or not. Just don't expect to defend or propagate it. I wouldn't make different choices because i'm in a team.
2Wednesday, 26 May 2010 18:28
Edwin Phua
I think having a team prize is a nice way of involving people. Mahjong is primarily an individual game (unlike contract bridge), and prizes for tournaments so far only reward the best players (example, top three). A team prize can be the goal for a team where the players are not necessarily the best individual players, but strong as a team of four players.

A lot of sports also have 'team' events even though the sportsmen cannot help each other during the game (e.g. badminton, tennis, table tennis etc.), but the combined efforts of all the players in their own events (e.g. singles, doubles, mixed doubles etc.) can give them a team prize. So, I think the idea of having teams in mahjong tournaments works along these lines.
3Wednesday, 26 May 2010 18:32
Edwin Phua
All that said, I think it would be interesting to have a mahjong tournament that is based solely on team-play. That is, the only prizes go to teams that do well together.

For example, a tournament may have preliminary rounds where only the top 4 teams progress to a final and the best three teams get prizes.
4Wednesday, 26 May 2010 23:36
Playing in teams would make sense if a ranking was maintained, e.g. by EMA. This would mean, in tournaments teams ought to be the same during a given period. But this probably is virtually impossible.
5Thursday, 27 May 2010 14:48
Adrie van Geffen
Like Gert Jan I didn't care much. But now I follow the approach of Tina. Why? Getting called to the stage at the end of the WMC in China 2007 to get the fair play cup as team Rotterdam did something to me.
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