Friday 30 September 2016

Martin Rep’s Hanover Diary

Editor Martin Rep of Mahjong News played in the Hanover Phenix Tournament. Read his diary: we all love Gemma!

Maurice gets his Golden Horse

Golden HorseHanover, May 22nd. Usually, the Golden Horse travels only between Nijmegen and The Hague. Now we have taken it with us all the way to Hanover, to give it away.
About once a month, Dicky and I play mahjong against our friends from The Hague, Marjan and Maurice. The trophy to be won is the ‘Golden Horse’, a beautiful Chinese horse of real glided plastic. The winner can enjoy it until the next competition.
The better part of the last year, the trophy resided at our place in Nijmegen, but the last time we played, Maurice had won it. Only: I had forgotten to bring it with me to The Hague. But since we all have subscribed to the Phenix Tournament in Hanover, we decided to hand it over there.
Marjan and Maurice make the trip by train, while we travel by car. So, as we meet in the lobby of the Amadeus Hotel, the first thing I do, is hand over the trophy to Maurice. ‘You have deserved it’, I say hypocritically. No doubt, we will have it back soon.

The mayor and the dog

Council ChamberThis has never happened to us before. All participants to the Hanover tournament are officially received in the beautiful town hall of the Lower-Saxonian capital. We may take a seat in the council chamber, where refreshments are presented, and where Bernd Strauch tells us everything about his beautiful city. He is the mayor of Hanover. There is also a Lord Mayor of Hanover, but him we do not see.
His speech is quite interesting, but also a bit long. When he is almost finished, he tells us that a dog can say just as much by wagging its tail five times, as a politician can do in a fifty minutes speech. That is just about as long as his address lasts.

At Kaiser’s

Suu AnkouThe Kaiser is dead - long live Gaststätte Kaiser. In this Hanover inn, you cannot only get a good beer and excellent food at fair prizes, but you can also play mahjong there. ‘Kaiser’ (emperor) It is the home of the local mahjong club, which organises the Phenix Tournament, and it is (or was, actually) run by Wolfgang Franke, a mahjong die-hard. Here, every week mahjong players gather. So, almost all the participants to the Riichi Championship come here to practise for the next day.
Dicky and I play against Marjan and Maurice. The latter does not dare to put the Golden Horse at stake again. So the beautiful Suu Ankou (four concealed pons) I make on a tsumo (self draw), may be historical, it does not give me the desired trophy back.

The Jazz Club

May, 23rd. An excellent breakfast at Amadeus, and then we drive to the Hanover Jazz Club. We could just as well have made the trip walking: it is just three kilometres from the hotel.
When we are there, I grab my video-camera. I plan to make a little movie about the tournament, to go with the article about the tournament on Mahjong News. I need a subject to act as the star of the movie. When I spot Gemma Collinge, the decision is made quickly. Gemma is very pretty, she speaks English fairly enough - no wonder, she is English - and she can play one hell of a riichi mahjong game.
The first time we met, and played against each other, was one year earlier, at the European Riichi Championship, also here in Hanover. She won that game. I had my little revenge when she came to Nijmegen, last Spring, for the Cherry Blossom Tournament. The night before the tournament, we played a game, together with Dicky and with Finn Tom Mustonen. Gemma did not stand a chance against me; unfortunately, the next day, at the real tournament, she beat me again.
Gemma is a very enthusiastic correspondent of ReachMahjong.Com, Jenn Barr’s virtual meeting point for riichi players worldwide. She immediately says ‘yes’ when I point the camera to her. In her introduction, she says that she is very tired because her train from Berlin left at 4 a.m. that morning. Unfortunately, I have pressed the wrong button, so I miss that quote.

First session

At my table, I meet Sebastian Kempe from Germany. It is his first tournament and he is very nervous. I try to reassure him, esp. after he ruins his first hand since he forgets to pick an additional tile after a kan. Eventually, he will be number 21 in the final classification, and that is one place better than me…
I take a shot of Gemma at her table, She is not really disappointed, even though she is only second. My mahjong friend Sjef Strik has taken the first place there. “Last year Sjef made me last one at the table”, Gemma comments.

Second session

Everybody looks happy, especially organisers Ilka Stummeyer and Beate Stöckemann, who are doing just great. But also the players feel at ease in the cellar of the Jazz Club. During the award ceremony, Ilka will reveal that she would love to organise next year’s European Riichi Championship, which is likely to take place in Hanover again, in the same venue. Which is almost her home: she is quite involved in the Hanover jazz scene.
Gemma is quite happy, she tells my camera. “Plus 45 K.”

Last session

Gemma, SjefGemma is nervous. She chews on her lips and gasps as if she is delivering. The camera loves it. Yet, the competition, e.g. Sjef, however quite close, is scoring less well. I am almost just as happy as Gemma. It looks as if my flash of inspiration to pick her as the subject of my movie, was a lucky shot. We may have a winner here!

We love Gemma

It is like the finale of the Eurovision Song Contest. Gemma is standing aside while the top ten players are called to the victory stand one by one. But by now, she knows for sure: she is the winner of this first German riichi championship.
She radiates with joy as she steps forward. I am lying on my knees before her and I am filming all of her. Thanks to the camera, I can take this privileged position. And, by Jove, what a happy girl to dedicate my movie to!

The Beer Garden

To everything, there is a season and  a time. After the tournament, we eat Bratwurst and Pommes in the near-by beer garden. Within an hour, we will play some more games in the Jazz Club. But first, we raise the mugs and we drink a toast: here’s to you, Gemma!

Report about the First German Riichi Open


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