NIJMEGEN, the Netherlands - How sad: the first Open European Mahjong Championship is over. But all players went home with a promise still in their ears. A promise that Ms. Tina Christensen of Mahjong Denmark had done during the closing ceremony of the OEMC, on behalf of the European Mahjong Association. That was: the second Open European Mahjong Championship will be held in Copenhagen, 2007.
Nijmegen 2005 was not only the scene of the first European championship in history.Two other historic events took place:
• The French players took the occasion of meeting each other to found the French mahjong association, which has as a major target uniting all existing intitiatives and clubs in France and thus preparing them for the next European mahjong competition; and
• The European Mahjong Association was founded. The delegates of all European countries present (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden) choose Mr. Uwe Martens of Germany as their president. They also choose for Copenhagen as the next location of the OEMC. An open European championship will be held every two years.
A number of Dutch players, not being patient enough to wait for Copenhagen 2007, is already discussing more options. Perhaps smaller European championships may be held in the alternating years, when there is no open tournament, they say. These smaller competitions could be quite basic, with a small entrance fee, and open strictly for European players.
The players at the OEMC in concert hall 'De Vereeniging' seemed happy enough. For the better part of them, it was the first event on an international level, and this made the tournament even more thrilling. Of course, the most striking team was the Japanese. They made their entry on the first day of the tournament all beautifully dressed up in kimonos and hachi-makis (headbands), and before each session they huddled for a team chear. Still, most impressive of all was the way they played. Most cameras were pointed at Mai Hatsume, ruling world champion. But in the very last session she lost two table points, so the first prize in the individual competition was for Masato Chiba, who had been number one for quite some time because of his high scoring points. His finished with an impressive 100 percent table score (28) and 1,420 scoring points. Mai was number two (24 resp. 1,163), and also at number three and four there were Japanese: Yoshinori Kato (24, 988) and Yuju Kohtari (22, 741). Of course also the first prize in the team competition was for Japan. The Japanese players had an average score of table points of 20.
The Chinese team was number two in the team competition. Their favorite Ma Yongliang (champion of China) ended on the 8th position, just after Jianguo Liang. A big surprise was the Danish team, which deserved fully the third team prize. Sune Korreman, at 5, was the best European player; another Danish player, Helge Møller Pedersen, reached the number 10 position. Luca Gavelli from Italy also landed in the top-ten, at the number 6 position.
The organizing Dutch mahjong association had by far the largest team: 43 players. But in the team competition they only left the German team behind them. The best Dutch player, Chris Scheffler, ended on the number 14 position. For Copenhagen 2007 the Dutch players will have some thinking to do about their strategy.