Wednesday 28 September 2016

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WMC kicks off with sing and play

wcm2010party2UTRECHT, the Netherlands - Holland lives through it wettest days of the year. Lots and lots and lots of rain are almost drawning the country. The mahjong players in the National Minds Sports Center shiver as they register. They have to walk to a little desk which is placed outside, in the cold. This way, registration of each player only takes seconds.


wcm2010party4On the day of the official opening, a boat trip through the canals of Utrecht is  being held for the participants to the third World Mahjong Championship. But during the party in the venue, I did not meet with one player who said he or she actually made that boat trip.

Jeroen Meijer, head of the organising committee, nervously walks in the large hall where, tomorrow, the world championship will start. Three days of mahjong. Nine sessions. You know how many times the tiles will have to be shuffled and walls will have to be build in that period? But every player here is just dying to start with that.

Everyone: that means nearly 200 players. 'We have a playing schedule for 208 players", says Jeroen. "Eight players, all from, China, did not show up. I do not know why."

Then he has to run to meet Mr. Dan Glimne, the representative of the sponsor, eMahjong. Dan played in the first world championship in Tokyo himself, eight years ago, but nowadays he is more involved in online gambling.


wcm2010party5eMahjong/Mahjong Logic is the main sponsor of the event, so it is no wonder that, during the official opening, just half an hour later, presenting lady Marianne Croeze asks a special applause for him.

Marianne gives a smooth show. She does not only introduce the 'Seaman's Choir', but shows that she can sing herself quite well.

And of course she intruduces Robert Rijnders, president of the Dutch Mahjong League -- the Dutch are the organisers of this championship -- and of the European Mahjong Association as well. “Last week, in Macau, another World Championship took place. But this here, this is the real thing!”, he calls.

Another person who can sing quite well is Hungarian mahjong player Zsanet Lakos. She does not need any accompaniment, only the clapping of the hands of the public. After that the seamen can sing again, and then the party is over.

Do go to bed early, Marianne advices. "Or better: do not. Then I will have a better chance to beat you tomorrow."

Tomorrow morning the gong will struke, and then play time is over. Or, perhaps, will just begin.

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