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ERC 2016
Congratulating Mikhail Lugovkin From Russia.
Congratulating Mikhail Lugovkin From Russia.

FARNHAM, United Kingdom - Sitting on the plane flying back to windy Amarillo, I had a moment to take stock in the days events in Farnham, England, and the ERMC.

To begin with, the UK Mahjong Association deserves accolades for running a very smooth tournament. I think every single hanchan started exactly on time, and if there were any that didn't start on time, it was only because they meant it not to, that's how well they ran the show. I myself woke up on the second day at 8:50, exactly 10 minutes to 9:00 (when the second day was supposed to start). That was just enough time for me to throw on some clothes and run the entire distance from my hotel to the venue, to slide into my seat exactly at 9:00 as they were saying, "Are there any tables not ready to start?" There was no way I was going to let myself be "that guy", and being in my seat on time, the games started on time, like clockwork, and all was well. Whew. (By the way, there is a setting on the hotel alarm clock for weekdays or everyday. Be sure and check that setting if you rely on the hotel alarm clock to get you up on a Saturday). Congratulations to the UKMA, and thanks to them as well, for all their hard work for a successful European Riichi Mahjong Championship.

The town of Farnham was an excellent choice for the venue. The town itself even got intimately involved in the ERMC as one of it's sponsors. The Mayor himself John Ward began the event by first inviting leaders of the tournament and some of its sponsors for tea the morning of the first day, presenting gifts of welcome and support. Mayor Ward also opened the competition with a welcome speech to the assembled players from the stage of the Farnham Maltings. Part of his speech was to encourage the players to get out and enjoy all that the town had to offer, which included delicious cuisine, rich history, and gorgeous scenery.

The Mayor of Farnham's presentation of gifts to ERMC guests of honor.

Another nice side benefit for me, as a player at the event, was getting to meet more of my fellow countrymen and women from the United States who made it to the event, as there were five of us (seven counting referee and a neighbor from the North in Canada). European players may be wondering how it is that I haven't met some of these players from my own country before today, and in particular, there were two of us from the same state of Texas, and we had never met. How could I not have met another player from my own state before this? You can drive in Texas, for example, over 800 straight miles (1288 kilometers) and still be within the state of Texas. Living as far apart as we do, I had not yet had the opportunity to meet all of them.

 Texas over EuropeTexas in particular is famous for doing things big, and I was no exception during this tournament, when I dealt into dealer Pauline Van Der Linden's hidden daisangen (大三元, Three Great Dragons) for a blistering 48,000 point loss. Ouch. How did she manage to collect so much of that concealed so quickly?

But more than meeting my fellow country folk, I reconnected with many old friends that I had met and made in prior tournaments in Europe, and made many more new ones to look forward to meeting again someday. For me, that is the best of mahjong, which is bringing people from many countries and cultures together at one table for camaraderie and competition, and I hope to meet all of these friends, new and old, again sometime soon over the tiles.

Being so close to London, I couldn't resist taking this opportunity to explore all that historic city had to offer before going home. With family in tow, we managed to squeeze in most of the great sights we'd be remiss to have missed. Catching Stonehenge, Farnham Castle, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, London Eye, and Greenwich, among other sites, has given my children plenty to write about in their reports due for the school as penance for missing a week of school mid-semester. They get to go home and explain to their classmates all about the 8000 year old portions of the famous henge, and about the poor bones of the Crown-Prince Edward the V buried in the steps of the Tower of London, among other things.

Discovering mahjong friends at the Pizza Express of Farnham.
Discovering mahjong friends at the Pizza Express of Farnham.
The ominous monument of Stonehenge perhaps jinxed my mahjong game during the ERMC.
The ominous monument of Stonehenge perhaps jinxed my mahjong game during the ERMC.
Guard from the Tower of London warns robbing the kong is a day in the stocks.
Guard from the Tower of London warns robbing the kong is a day in the stocks.

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Comments (4)

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  • Guest - Flydragon

    I see the tournament from a different angle, I see it from the viewpoint of the last organizer. Because the tournament was a normal tournament without highlights. The tournament cost 95 pounds, what did the player get? A bag with a men's and women's perfume, a ballpoint pen, brochures about Farnham. Oh, forget the player pass. The food was always the same, no tradition, no food with the players, no certificates for all players, no prices for the referees, no flour-meal in the breaks, only biscuits.

    Comment last edited on about 2 years ago by Guest
  • Guest - Sam

    >The food was always the same
    >no food with the players
    >biscuits
    There's your British traditions

  • Guest - Flydragon

    Oh, poor Englishmen always have the same food, and have taken the food from India (chickens with curry), Mexico (chili) and Hungary (goulash). There is nothing more to eat in England than these three dishes. Oh, poor Englishman.

  • Guest - john

    Congratulations Jelte. It is hard to believe this is the first tournament that you won.

    Comment last edited on about 1 year ago by Vitaly Novikov

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