(left to right) Chaolei Chen (2nd), Birgitt Rupp (1st), Alexander Doppelhofer (3rd)

TRIBUSWINKEL, Austria - After three days of celebrating Alexander Doppelhofer's 50th birthday and playing riichi, Austrian Birgitt 'Rubi' Rupp is victorious at the "Austrian Riichi Open" (RERS2), scoring 246,500 points. French 'Tri Nitro Tiles' player Chaolei Chen is runner-up with 209,800 points and organizer and birthday boy Alexander Doppelhofer is in third position, scoring 132,600 points.

Besides being an infamous mahjong player, Alexander Doppelhofer is known for being an excellent tournament host. To this day the manner in which he single-handedly organized the ERMC2013 in Bad Vöslau is still a topic of conversation, and of a quality and standard organizers aim to emulate. For his 50th birthday Alexander decided to go all out, and organize birthday party/riichi tournament. Unable to get an EMA certificate for an event to be held on his actual birthday, the 6th of December, Alexander decided move up the tournament and birthday celebrations a few weeks.

Alexander Doppelhofer welcoming the crowd

Tournament

Thirty-six contestants representing seven countries traveled to the tiny village of Tribuswinkel, thirty kilometres south of Vienna, to participate in twelve hanchan during three days. It was an interesting group of people: there were tournament veterans, and competitors who were making their international debut (the three Ukrainian entries). On the first day of play (five hanchan), Friday, Matthias Trinkl dominated the ranking on account of an oya tsumo yakuman (Ryuu iisou), with just a small point disparity between himself and Birgitt Rupp. Peter Hamilton, who was assigned at the last moment to be a playing referee (instead of a non-playing referee) was in third position. On the second day (four hanchan) Trinkl struggled to score positive, and dropped to the third place. French Chaolei Chen, in sixteenth position at the end of day one, won hanchan after hanchan and took second place. Rupp also kept up her winning streak, and convincingly took over the lead in the ranking. But it was birthday boy Alexander who made a dash for the podium at the last day (three hanchan), leaving Trinkl empty-handed. Both Rupp and Chen consolidated their position as respectively number one and number two in the final ranking. When asked how she felt about winning the tournament, Rupp answered, smiling from ear to ear: "Very, very happy!"

Alexander cutting his cake!

Birthday party

On Friday evening all players were invited to Alexander's birthday party, which was held in the same venue. Participants were treated to numerous Austrian dishes, and the alcohol was flowing freely (all on Alexander's tab!). Many players brought gifts and souvenirs from their home country, showering Alexander with wines and other spirits, chocolates, cheeses, and even a pewter beer mug. When everyone stood up toasting him, and sang 'Happy Birthday!' the host was visibly moved, restraining his tears. Highlight of the evening was the cutting of a delicious chocolate cake, with 'dragon decorations' (the recurring theme of this tournament), commemorating the Baden mahjong club. As to be expected at a gathering of riichi lovers a number of partygoers engaged in some social play, including a foursome which dared to play MCR.

Excellent host

Alexander was an excellent host: during the three tournament days the Austrian food was abundant and very tasty, and the venue was a charming pub where time had stood still. Alexander went out of his way to make the participants feel welcome and to keep them happy. He even put thought into the details: the numbers 1, 2 and 3, as well as the highest scoring player of each hanchan were awarded a dragon or a dragon themed prize. Apart from the huge figurine won by victress Birgitt Rupp, all prizes were designed and crafted by local artists. Overall a great tournament and get-together with a smooth yet competitive atmosphere: the perfect way for a mahjong aficionado to celebrate his 50th birthday.

One final and emotional speech from the host, to his left hand side referee Peter Hamilton

Austrian Champion

But the cherry on top was the fact Alexander managed to secure the title of Austrian Riichi Champion. With only one direct threat to the crown, Lena Weinguny, the "Austrian Riichi Open" was the arena for one final fight. Unfortunately the famous player couldn't replicate the stellar performance she displayed at the WRC2017, while Alexander raked in the points.

Final Results of the Austrian Riichi Open 2017 (RCR, RERS2), Tribuswinkel

Place Name Nat. Points
1 Birgitt Rupp AUT 246500
2 Chaolei Chen FRA 209800
3 Alexander Doppelhofer AUT 132600
4 Matthias Trinkl AUT 96000
5 Peter Hamilton AUT 92500
6 Dominik Hammerl AUT 89800
7 Lukas Gerhold AUT 85800
8 Martin Lester GBR 81200
9 Julien Fouques FRA 72500
10 Taka Teshima DNK 59400
11 Manuel Tomisser AUT 48000
12 Zoltan Dinyesi AUT 34900
13 Joe-Calberson Huynh FRA 33400
14 Vadim Horwat FRA 27600
15 Martin Meischel AUT 13500
16 Krisztian Deak AUT -4400
17 Juraj Jerguš SVK -6600
18 Matthias Hadolt AUT -7700
19 Jenifer Krawrik AUT -11600
20 Juraj Móza SVK -19900
21 Nicole Haasbroek NED -23200
22 Vitaly Balanyuk UKR -25900
23 Danil Shatokhin UKR -27300
24 Lena Weinguny AUT -29300
25 Matej Labaš SVK -37800
26 Anna Olefirenko UKR -38800
27 Jérémie Pierard FRA -39900
28 Michael Donaghy GBR -60000
29 Thomas Široň SVK -62800
30 Gemma Sakamoto GBR -75500
31 Lukas Puschmann AUT -115800
32 Daniel Široň SVK -143300
33 Alexander Wankmüller AUT -151100
34 Roland Maier AUT -164500
35 Michael Dusleag AUT -186700
36 Substitute player AUT -205600

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