One for all? Or one against all?
- Published on Monday, 24 May 2010 15:03
- Written by Martin Rep
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.