Désirée Heemskerk beams during the award ceremony of the ERMC 2016.

FARNHAM, United Kingdom - She looks far from unhappy – yet she would have the right to be. Désirée Heemskerk from the Netherlands is celebrating her runner-up position in the European Championship 2016, while she could have been champion instead of her Russian competitor Mikhail Lugovkin – if only it would not have been for that last ron she gave to Freddy Christiansen.

But, instead of being disappointed, ‘Dees’ is celebrating her second place in a nearby pub. “I played in three European riichi championships and in the world championship”, she recalls, “so I never had the illusion that I had a chance here at Farnham.”
Yet, that is exactly what happened. After five hanchans in the ERMC she took first place in the general ranking. She remained in that position for the rest of day 2 of the tournament.
“Outside the tournament I kept doing what I always do”, she tells Mahjong News, “and that is making fun with my friends, enjoy a good meal and have some drinks. And go to bed in time.”

Third day

The first hanchan on the third day she lost. “It was disappointing indeed”, Désirée admits, “But I was glad I did not lose too many points and that I kept the first place.”
Then, the Finals. Désirée: “It was a thrilling eleventh hanchan. I was behind, but after two mangans on East I won that table. I was in first position of the top-sixteen.”
Subsequently, the twelfth, final hanchan. “It was all or nothing. The difference between me and the runner-up player was just 20K, so anything could happen. I started badly, had to pay 7700. Then Freddy [Christiansen] got a haneman from another player. Okay, it’s over, I think. But then I can tsumo a baiman while Freddy is East, which makes me number one again.
“The last East. I plan to make a small win to go out. Waiting for a one yaku hand. Nobody seems to be tenpai yet. But then I discard Bamboo 5 and – again – Freddy says: ‘Ron.’ Ouch!! I have to pay him 12,000, I end in second position. Game over.“
Now, things got really thrilling for Dees. What did the competition do? Mikhail Lugovkin seems to win – but will he have enough points to overtake Désirée? “Yes, he had, so I end in second position in the final standings.”
But, she says: “I am very proud of that position. This was a great tournament experience. But the most important thing for me was meeting so many different people. “
Dees, again: “I would like to thank the organisation for a wonderful event, they did just great. I thank all players for the nice games we played and with whom I had such a wonderful time. “
She laughs and says: “You know, I was the last Dutch who qualified for the ERMC. I think I have shown now that I deserved my qualification.”

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