Sunday 25 September 2016

What a wonderful tournament!

Sjef Strik, one of the 152 participants to the Open European Mahjong Championship at Baden, Austria, is keeping a diary for MahjongNews about his adventures. Today, in his sixth contribution, he tells about the heat in the hall, his new target, and how he survived a protesting Italian. ‘I enjoy it to the full!’

If there is one thing that I will remember of this second day of the OEMC, it is not the heat in the hall where we 152 participants  gathered for four heavy rounds. Neither that my results are not as great as I had expected before.
No, what impresses me most, is the wonderful way the Austrians have organized this third European championship. Of course it was a great disappointment for them that ten Chinese failed to come, but the new playing schedules are just wonderful. I will play against just two countrymen, and this is very important. Everyone wants to play against people from other countries, especially against the Japanese and Chinese. I also like the Thursday’s trotting traces.
But it was not until today that I was struck by the way we players are treated. For example, at the first coffee break there were delicious cakes, and during the next one there was even fruit. The lunch was just wonderful, I enjoyed the roasted chicken very much. So, I suggest a headline for this little article: ‘What a wonderful tournament!’.



Yesterday I wrote that I was worried about the heat in the room where the competition is played. Of course, it was really hot today, but I have the impression that it was not as bad as it was yesterday. Still, all around me I heard people puffing, gasping and blowing, and I saw them waving with sheets of paper and even a Chinese fan. So I guess it must have had some impact on the play.
If this was also the matter with me, that is hard to say. I did make a mistake, but it is one I made before. I chowed a Character 2 tile, and I put a Character 1 and Character 2 on the table. The Italian at our table, Luca Gavelli, noticed it and said something about it. Tina Christensen, our referee was called. But she did not punish me, but she gave a warning to Luca for ‘passing information’. So I had one lucky escape… Luca, by the way, was lucky enough. He won that table with a great number of self-picks. I ended with 0 points.
Another table with 0 points for me, was when I played against Bo Lang (she is now number 1 in the general ranking). Two players had minus 33 points, I had minus 35 points, and Bo had 101 points. Just as I thought that I could win the last game, the final gong was struck.
But I also won one table. In all, I now have 9 points, and I am on position #95 in the individuel ranking. So I now have a new target for myself: I want to end with at least 10 table points!
Before the tournament, I was a bit afraid of a very strict mania for the rules. But I have to say: it’s not that bad. I heard that one Dutch protested - successfully - when someone said ‘self-pick’ instead of ‘hu’. The next session, I had to play against him. But another Dutch (they happened to be the only countrymen I will meet during the OEMC) looked at him and said: ‘We do not do that here, do we?’ It was a very nice session, without any dissonance.
Tomorrow: three sessions on the last day. I am looking forward to it!

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