The most impressive memory I cherish of Johannes Scott-Weijers, is him standing in a Hungarian restaurant near Dunaújváros, where we celebrated the conclusion of the First Hungarian Open Championship. It was a nice summer evening, August 2007.
Johannes was a bit drunk of course; otherwise he may not have dared to do it in the first place. He was perspiring all over, his shirt stuck to his body.
Johannes sang! He stood firmly, his forehead drawn a bit forward. He sang beautifully – a low, deep and very loud voice, which no one in that room could fail to hear.
He sang a Beatles song, I think it was For No One, with sad yet beautiful lyrics:
Your day breaks,
your mind aches
You find that all her words of kindness linger on
When she no longer needs you
Johannes loved to sing; music was his second life. When you heard his voice for the first time, you knew at once that you would never forget it.
UK citizen Johannes Scott-Weijers – he was from Dutch descent, hence his name - had lived in Germany and later on, when he had met with Hungarian mahjong player Ildikó Hargitai, he started to live at Dunaújváros. He had been a Hamburg resident for a long time, and Hungary was the sixth country he was to live in for an extended time; the others being the UK, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland.
The next time I saw the two of them, was three years later, at Dunaújváros again, when I was there for the Fourth Hungarian Open. Johannes was now living with Ildikó and they looked very happy together. For the first time, he participated in the competition; he ended on a modest 28th position.
It did not last long for Johannes to score much better mahjong results. 2010 was his great year; ‘Again, Johannes Scott-Weijers’, was the headline in Mahjong News when, two weeks after his first place in the Hungarian Green Dragon Tournament, he won the Open Baden Tournament in Austria.
One month earlier, he was runner-up in the Open Austrian and number three in the Open Hungarian, as a result of which he won the prestigious Sisi Cup, for the best accumulated results in these two tournaments.
‘Stupid, clever or lucky?’
Johannes was the first to put this success into perspective. ‘The Game of One Thousand Intelligences - you have to laugh at yourself - how many intelligences do you have?’, he wrote to me when I asked him, and some other mahjong players, about his expectations for the year 2011, where I wanted to write an article about.
‘For example, in Baden, although I came first, I missed Three Concealed Pungs on a self pick; today, in my self pick Three Little Dragons, I forget ‘All Pungs’. In [the World Championship at] Utrecht, I took a pung from the chap next to me, who threw the same tile immediately after, which would have given me last-tile-tile-hog-two-concealed-pungs. Is there a scale for feeling stupid, clever or lucky?”
Remarkably, though, Johannes did not play in the Open European Championship, which was held in Italy that year, 2011. Johannes was not the easiest person to communicate with. He preferred not to make the effort to qualify for the OEMC, since he did not agree that he would have to compete with the other UK player, Chris Redmond, while players from countries with a ‘defunct federation’ did not have to qualify.
To him, Mahjong UK – which is mainly occupied with riichi mahjong – had no relevance. ‘As things stand, I consider myself qualified as the best UK player’, he wrote me with a smiley. (The Battle of Britain, Mahjong News)
So, as the only Hungarian player – the others thought the OEMC 2011 was too expensive – Johannes’s friend Ildikó went to Italy. It must have been a sweet revenge that she won the competition and is still the reigning European champion.
The last EMA acknowledged tournament Johannes played in, was the Styrian Open at Weiz, Austria, in November 2012. Not long after that, he became seriously ill.
In Ildikó, he had the very best nurse he could have wished for. She had to give up her job, however, in order to help him. As a result of this, in the end she had hardly any income at all. But many mahjong players, all over Europe, supported her in this hard time in many ways.
Johannes’s last wish was to see his mother country again. He was able to travel from Hungary to Germany to see some physicians and to undergo surgery. He went via Cracow since he wanted to have ‘a last beer’ on his favorite plaza there. During his last months, he lived in Hamburg.
Unfortunately, he was too weak to make the trip to England. Instead, he made his final journey - never to come back.
The mahjong world has lost a very colourful person. We all will miss him. I will miss him.