‘Mahjong players more concerned about a pleasant play than about money’
- Published on Friday, 09 July 2010 13:24
- Written by Staff
MACAU - World Series of Mahjong will be using a new tournament format for its 2010 main event. An interview of Alan Kwan, the Rules Director of WSoM, who complied the new format.
Mahjong News: Why the new format?
Alan Kwan: “To make the event more fun and exciting for the players. We want everyone to go home with a satisfactory experience.”
What inspired the new format?
“It is just a variation of existing stuff. The non-elimination format is nothing new at all. The ‘new’ prize structure comes, of course, from casual mahjong.”
But there is the unfamiliar ‘match point’ system. Why the complication of the square root?
“It is inspired by the ‘IMP’ system in duplicate bridge. What it does is to change one's target score from the thousand or hundreds total over 6 sessions, to just a moderate positive score each session. This way a fine playing style of balanced offense and defense is rewarded. We don't want to encourage the players to throw aside playing defense and foolhardily attempt big hands all the time, because playing that way is just luck and takes little skill.”
But then why don't you use the table rank point system in other tournaments, such as MCR?
“I have never been a fan of the table rank system. Some may consider playing for rank an aspect of strategy, but to me it is distortion. Mahjong is supposed to be about winning points, not about winning more points than who and who.
“Mahjong is not duplicate bridge; the players at the same table play different hands, so there is no natural reason why their scores should be compared against each other - while scores from different tables should not.”
And that's your reason for the new prize structure, too?
“Yes. It's the predominant way mahjong is played. Its justifiability relies heavily on the balance and fairness of the mahjong scoring system. I am confident that the Zung Jung rules serve this purpose well.”
We'll see. Looking at the preliminary round, there are more players ‘in the money’ than players who advance. Why the discrepancy?
“We considered letting 32 players into final day, but that requires 4 rounds to be played in that day. In our experience, that tends to be too tiring for the players. So we settled for 3 rounds.”
One last question: from US dollars to Hong Kong dollars, that's quite a devaluation, isn't it?
“True. It's another of the things mahjong players want. Mahjong players, unlike poker players, are not so excited by huge prize money if they have to pay for it. Rather, they're more concerned about a pleasant playing experience, and we are trying to make that experience more affordable.”