Saturday 28 February 2015

Conquering the Mountain in Kathmandu: A Mahjong Sojourn


KATHMANDU Nepal, February 21st - When I first arrived in Kathmandu, the airport arrivals curb was busy and alive! The locals, noting a foreigner had arrived in their midst, surrounded me asking me all manner of questions as to the nature of my stay. Was I there to climb Mount Everest? Was I in need of a Sherpa guide? Did I have a ride to base camp at the foot of the mountain? Looking around at my fellow passangers, and the gear they were collecting from the terminal, there among them were backpack frames, ropes, cleated boots, and all manner of climbing paraphinalia. There was no doubt Kathmandu was the launching basin for brave expeditions to climb up the face of the tallest and most formidible mountain in the world. But I was in Kathmandu to conquer a mountain of a different sort; a mountan of tiles—Mahjong.

Scott D. Miller, MD of Mahjong News travels to Nepal to talk mahjong, learn new styles, and build new bonds in the basin city of Kathmandu, nestled in the shadows of the tallest mountain in the world.



Maurice's Longest Thirty Minutes

The EC Riichi 2010 - Day 2

ecriichi2010topthree HANOVER - Day 1 of the European Championship was the day of Gemma Collinge from the UK, of Joel Ratsimandresy from France and of Sjef Strik from Holland. Gemma topped the ranking after the hanchan (rounds) 1 and 2. After three rounds, Joel Ratsimandresy took over, and then it was Sjef Strik from the Netherlands who got to the number one position after hanchan 4 and 5.

On day number 2, however, Sjef ran out of luck, while his major rival, his fellow-countryman Maurice Demmer, did not. The latter played quite strong in hanchan 6 and 7. So as the eighth (and last) hanchan started, he had a comfortable margin of 31,000 points over Joel Ratsimandresy, who also kept playing strong.


But then, in the last round, Maurice lost 34,900 points. Also the competition lost points. So the waiting for the announcements of the results must have been the longest thirty minutes in Maurice’s life.


For the very last time, the players made it to the dark and hot basement of the Hanover Jazz Club. Organizer Ilka Stummeyer summoned the top-ten players to the honorary stage, in alphabetical order. Everybody received his certificate and could take his seat again.

Five minutes later, only three people were left: David Bresnick from the USA, Maurice and Joel. And when the final results were announced by Ilka, it appeared that Maurice had done just 700 points better than Joel. That’s less than the value of one riichi declaration, and just a tiny bit more than the payout of two markers. You can call that a narrow win alright!



Sjef, by that time, had accepted his bad luck of the second tournament day. I did not meet my Nijmegen team mate until the seventh hanchan, and  by that time my major concern was not to end on the last spot. One of the few wins I could make in that particular round, was a haneman (limit), which was fed to me, of all people, by Sjef. Including the uma penalty he got as a result of that since he had the worst result of that table, this bad move cost Sjef 18,000 points, as he told me after the tournament. “Without that, I would have ended on the fifth position”, he said.

But, after all, ninth position is not a bad result, as I answered him. Sjef agreed and then he ran for his car, to get home in time for the final of the soccer World Cup. (Which, by the way, turned out in a far more disappointing result, since Spain beat the Dutch team.)

Anyway, Sjef did a much better job than Gemma Collinge, who, after the first two hanchan, had hopes for a historic championship. She found herself back on position 63 in the final classification.

Well, that is still 14 places over me.

The top ten players

ecriichihanovertop10thumbThe top ten players of the EC Riichi 2010 on the honorary stage in the Hanover Jazz Club. From left: organizer Ilka Stummeyer, Hanover  mayor Bernd Strauch, Sjef Strik (the Netherlands), 9th place; Joel Ratsimandresy (France), 2nd place; Chang Xue (Austria), 7th place; David Bresnick (USA), 3rd place; Gertjan Davies (the Netherlands), 6th place; Tina Christensen (Denmark), 4th place; Maurice Demmer (the Netherlands), 1st place; Dominik Kolenda (Poland), 8th place; Robert Jensen (Denmark), 10th place; Akihiro Honda (Japan), 5th place.

Click for very large picture (1.1 Mb)

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