Interview with Simon from Chuuren Potos Jansou (Marseille [FR])

Last November, Simon proceeded to open a business: a jansou in Marseille, France. We had a chance to interview him back in November, and are releasing the content of the interview on osamuko.com. Our interview was conducted live on IRC in front of a digital audience: this implies that separate lines have been separated by three dashes (rendered as an em dash) and that some responses may be slightly out of chronological order by a few seconds. Irrelevant comments were removed, but relevant interjections from the IRC channel were welcome and present below.

Introduction

♦Senechal: Anyways, to not make things difficult, I’ll probably just go through the question list I sent before and whatever comes up spontaneously we’ll find a way to work it in
♠Simon: Fine with me — I didn’t prepare any answers though so I may lag a bit..
♦Senechal: no problem — First of all, before we hit the questions part, tell us about Chuuren Potos, the first public jansou in Europe and only active one outside Asia.

♠Simon: I think we will all agree to say that mahjong, especially riichi, is just starting out outside of Japan. — In Europe it is mostly represented by organizations which aim at federating clubs. — Clubs in themselves are available in most major cities, so if you are a player you should be able to find some place where you can hit the table. — But what is mahjong remains a bit blurry. — What we wanted to do was to show people arround us what it is IRL. — and that’s what we try to focus on. — So this jansou is supposed to be not only a place to play but also to discover “the wonderful world of mahjong” if I may use this overused figure.
♦Senechal: Fascinating. You’ve had some time to research how jansou operate in Japan, correct? We were also wondering if there is any reason for using “jansou” instead of “club” or another group term… —and if the current location would match Japanese expectations
♠Simon: I don’t know if I’d say I researched how jansous operate in Japan, but I did go to a fair share. — I already loved mahjong before going there, but going to the jansou gave it a whole new dimension.
ikagamiwaseda: well what culture do you think revolves around it — if anything, the culture that revolves around mahjong is the unappealing part lol
♠Simon: We choose the word jansou for the place we opened, which hosts the club. — You can be a member of the club and don’t go to the jansou or go to the jansou without being a member of the club. — The jansou is supposed to be the place, and the club the group of people.
Moah: so you have to subscribe to both the club and the jansou ?
♦Senechal: Does that mean there will still be activity outside of the new jansou for the Chuuren Potos club ?
♠Simon: Yep, we have another setting still running that is cheaper because we don’t want to rule out players that don’t have money. — I don’t think it would live up to japanese players expectations to answer your question, but it is a step forward. — We don’t have automatic tables (although we are planning to in the not-so-distant-future)
♦Senechal: cool
♠Simon: But we do have corner tables to put your drink — And we serve drinks, kare-, don — To put on the corner tables. — And ramen of course.
♦Senechal: Feels like what a jansou could have been really like in 1975, before the autodealer
Moah: nihonchuu?
♠Simon: We can’t serve strong alcohol — We do have Asahi though.
Moah: so, what about gambling? I noticed the jansou works kind of cercle de jeux for poker — did you for license for that?
♦Senechal: but as Moah asks, what is allowed by the operation of your new enterprise? — oh ok then
♠Simon: Gambling isn’t allowed since we don’t have a license
Moah: ok — thanks for the answer
♠Simon: Although players may very well write down their scores and exchange money on the sidewalk.
Moah: now move your jansou to Paris please
♦Senechal: Heh, but you can have beer present. I’m just asking for those kinds of precisions because rules vary worldwide.
♠Simon: But we may organize some gambling nights.
♦Senechal: In Canada and the USA, that would be illegal without a specific licence — (the drinking)
Moah: this stupid law closed all waterpipe cafés that were opening
♦Senechal: a welcome change from the choice of “smoking” and “extra smoking” rooms
Yazphier: Moah: ? — oh — think i misread
♦Senechal: I’ll stop my share of the derail here… hookah shops are still legal here but lots of people hate them, some from the health POV, and others because they are ethnophobes — Anyways, back to mahjong Q&A — Going to ask Q4 and Q5 together, since the answers might mesh together

Yazphier: whoa, this an interview?

Moah: hookah was the word i was looking for
♦Senechal: How large is your sphere of influence? Will people come from other cities regularly (such as Montpellier) and will they come occasionally from as far as Paris and beyond? And how about the mahjong scene in Marseille, with a comparison to Paris or generalized to all of France? — yeah Yazphier, content for Osamuko — an exclusive no other mahjong newssite has bothered to obtain (yet)
♠Simon: I don’t know how far people are going to be willing to come from. — I’m not sure people are willing to spend that much money in travelling just to go to a jansou. — I guess people who know we exist might stop by. — As for the mahjong scene in Marseille. — There’s a neighborhood where chinese people import textiles. I know for a fact that there are some home games using chinese traditional rules. — There’s a game bar that holds MCR nights twice a month. — And now, us. — For a 800,000 people city, we could say almost nothing. — -yet- — But we hope people will notice that mahjong is cool.
♦Senechal: We hope so too. The more who play, the more we get a chance to play with
♠Simon: People don’t play much yet but by now many people who are interested in japanese stuff have heard of us.
♦Senechal: follow-up: Compared to the rest of France, do you think Marseille can outpace cities of a similar size ?
♠Simon: I will quote wayne’s world. — “If you book them, they will come.”
♦Senechal: Excellent. {Shreds guitar}.
♠Simon: Seriously, I think that the more time we spend making people come, and the more space we can offer (in good conditions of course), the more they’ll come.
♦Senechal: Is there a sufficient Japanese community in Marseille and what do you hope for in terms of market presence from them?
♠Simon: There are some Japanese people. — Not as many as in Paris. — I don’t know exactly how many there are, but not THAT many. — They do tend to know each other though. — This being said, so far except for my wife we don’t have japanese people coming, although some said they may.
♦Senechal: It’s basically a race to getting one or two customers from the diaspora and then them bringing their friends along…
♠Simon: Also, since every japanese people know each other — And given the relative bad image of mahjong in Japan — I feel they are a bit shy. — We are not aiming at them exclusively though.
♦Senechal: It’s not like there are yakuza in Marseille, or anywhere in Europe though. And I agree that to be successful, you have to be able to attract people from all ethnic backgrounds. Best of luck in that regard.

Inter-organizational relations

♦Senechal: Next question: Do you think this will raise the attractiveness of mahjong in France overall, and how do you view other mahjong actors such as the French Fed, as companions, competitors, rivals?
♠Simon: We are part of the french federation, so they are companions — This being said. — I think having a federation is nice, and being a part of it we have our word. — I think now some things don’t suit us exactly, but they don’t put a gun on our foreheads and tell us what to do. — So we do our own way, take part in what we think is good, and just skip the rest. — Also, the french federation (and probably the EMA, though I don’t know them as well) are pretty young and pretty small, compared to other game federations.
♦Senechal: Essentially, the Fed has its uses, but that CPM will aim to grow, unbound by the bureaucracy…
♠Simon: And they are bound to grow, we hope in the good direction.
♦Senechal: We hope so too.
♠Simon: Anyway, like I said, we are part of it, so we are the ones to blame if it doesn’t succeed.
♦Senechal: Does CPM have any special relationship with other clubs, friendship, rivalry, etc?
♠Simon: We played with some people from Bordeaux’s Furitenya, and I talked with their boss a bit. — But that’s all.
♦Senechal: Both your clubs are fairly new, we wish the best to the both of you for future growth.
♠Simon: Right now we’re focusing on the local level, but we’re all ears
♦Senechal: Given that the French Fed and the EMA are still currently the largest entity in France, as a follow-up to the previous question, given that the only statistics available at this time depict a 4:10 ratio of riichi to MCR players in France, how long do you think it will be for riichi to overshadow MCR and other rule variants in France and beyond?
♠Simon: I have no idea if it will or when, but I think they both aim at two different publics.
♦Senechal: And as an extra, what do you think yourself of Mahjong Competition Rules ?
♠Simon: I learned mahjong with MCR so I know what the game is like, although I’m not a very good player — And I think that most people who love one of the both wouldn’t like the other so much. — I’m not sure there’s a competition (or rather : I’m not sure MCR is more of a competitor as other games) — I don’t like the current competition rules
♦Senechal: Would you consider go and shougi to be bigger competitors than MCR ? Or even chess ?
for the share of the gaming population as a whole?
♠Simon: our standard rules are pretty usual ari-ari rules. — Honestly, I wouldn’t know — I know a share of go players who can play mahjong. — So they may go hand in hand. — I don’t know.
♦Senechal: I had other questions but now that you mention ari-ari, would you mind reminding us what that means, and what other rules that are in use at Chuuren Potos ?
♠Simon: Well players are welcome to play with any rules they like as long as they make it clear before they start playing. So far, nobody has bothered. So ari-ari is our de facto standard rule. — Ari-ari being a family of rules where two key rules are allowed — one being that you can start calling tiles even though you don’t have a guaranteed yaku — and the other being that kuitan (open tanyao) is allowed. — If I’m not mistaken. — They are anyway what’s played in most japanese jansous (and websites)
♦Senechal: What is your approach to the rules of the game? Do they resemble European or World rules or are they as faithful to Japanese customs and manners as possible? How would you deal with eventual complaints at tables regarding rule miscommunications or table disputes?
♠Simon: You mention manners.
♦Senechal: Yes, manners.
♠Simon: We are trying to teach manners to our members, although they are not mandatory. — When I talked before about mahjong culture, that’s part of it. — Beside making the game smoother, they also add some character to it. — When I answered the rule-reformation survey we got, in the notes, I added that although manners can’t be made mandatory by essence, players should be invited to learn them and as much as possible abide by them.
♦Senechal: Some European players have unfortunately developed negative reflexes regarding both manners and playing around the rules.
♠Simon: Yup.
♦Senechal: Would it be fair to suggest that there could be a lack of empathy behind some of those behaviours? I mean some could be explained by an innocent lack of knowledge as well, but there were cases at the last WRC that were questionable at the least… (regarding the Europeans, not your people)
♠Simon: I wasn’t at the WRC, so I wouldn’t know. — What I witnessed mostly so far ressembled mostly ignorance
♦Senechal: I won’t beat a dead horse any further then, but one thing that came up was the “3-second call” rule
♠Simon: We don’t play with chess watches as far as I know.
♦Senechal: where some players waited as long as they could before calling, or waited beyond 3 seconds to play their next turn.
♠Simon: I think what we could call “fair play” is also part of the culture that surrounds the rules.
♦Senechal: Japanese professional players were taken aback by the fact that their call made instantly after a discard could be overridden 2.5 seconds later
{{ Interview interrupted for time constraints… there was discussion for planning the follow-up the next day. }}
SBelmont: that was interesting

Day 2: Manners

♠Simon: Hi
godzilla: Hi pseudoboo-friend.
♦Senechal: wtf — lol — welcome back
♠Simon: Thanks
♦Senechal: Glad you were able to stay for so long yesterday, hopefully today will be a bit quicker
♠Simon: No problem
♦Senechal: I only had a few more questions in the list, but then any spare time you have could make its way in somehow
♠Simon: Well, it’s not so late yet so I guess I can hang around a bit!
♦Senechal: My main question was about manners as well, but I see this topic can be spun in multiple directions, so here’s the first. — Speaking of manners, this is a question we have to ask on Osamuko. What is your stance on the placement of foreign objects on the mahjong table, such as coffee cups or tile racks? — I guess with the fact that you mentioned the presence of side tables, most of these should not be a concern…
♠Simon: That would be a big no. — And as you mention, that’s where the corner tables come in handy — They are 5 cm above the level of the main table — So the risk of a drink being spilled is quite low. — There are two points here — The first is that putting something on the table is a nuisance to the game — By having to take it into account, one moves aren’t as smooth
♦Senechal: I’m guessing that the second has to do with risk of damaging material.
♠Simon: But the other one is that a spilled drink other than water causes damage
♦Senechal: Back at the WRC, there were two players who had tile racks at a “world event”
♠Simon: And tile racks are also bad if you always put them at the same place
♦Senechal: Isn’t that a form of provocation, basically saying “this game is no more sophisticated than Scrabble”
♠Simon: About tile racks
♦Senechal: Anyways, here’s to hoping that the quality of all players for the next WRC improves.
♠Simon: Yeah, as I said I wasn’t there to witness it so I’ll rely on you for this opinion
♦Senechal: Next question — actually, wait — more about manners
♠Simon: Yeah?
♦Senechal: What do you think about learning the point scores thoroughly and using Japanese terms?
♠Simon: Hah.
♦Senechal: I mean, that does sound like a biased question that sounds overtly favorable to the riichi community — but — I was gobsmacked by the lack of use of consonants (“on” or “ung”) — as well as “chaud” being used in France to call a run
♠Simon: About point tables : In Japan after a while I found “my” jansou, so I went only there, so we got to talk with the staff while waiting for a seat to become available. — One day one of the staff asked me to describe the play in Europe. — When I mentioned that most players couldn’t score without a sheet he asked me “yeah, of course, not everybody can do it, but I mean players who play on a regular basis?”
♦Senechal: –> The justification I heard was that Mahjong is a chinese game, so it’s “important” to use chinese terms, which is senseless as the Chinese do not say chow and much less a francophone imitation of it.
♠Simon: In Japan it is a given. Japanese players had a hard time understanding that regular players in Europe didn’t bother learning sheets.
♦Senechal: Well, if you play once a week, shouldn’t players have learned the scoring table within say… 6 months ?
♠Simon: If they tried!
♦Senechal: Indeed.
♠Simon: It’s not so hard, but if you always rely on the score sheet without ever trying to guess it’ll never come. — There’s another aspect — Most players never got the fact that these sheets come from rigourous maths and have meaning. — That you don’t need to look at the score sheet for fus if you hear the word “pinfu”.
♦Senechal: I believe anyone can learn the scores for 20 to 60 fu, whether they learn that the scores are following a mathematical pattern or not.
♠Simon: That the 25 fus line and the 50 fus line are the same if you just double the hans — etc. — So when players start counting themselves, I think it’s a good idea to not only explain how it is done, but give some directions. — Pinfu tsumo is always 20, if you have only one set of three the value is 30 or 40, etc. — If you cover the most current cases players should be able to count pretty easliy 90% of the time. — And it makes it less scary.
Senechal: Any player seeking directions on the subject should feel free to ask explanations on the subject.
♠Simon: Indeed.
♦Senechal: Sometimes, that implies taking some time before and after games. Just not during, because that’s rude.
♠Simon: About the pronunciation, I think it’s a good practice to stay as close as possible to the Japanese pronunciation, without overdoing it (national accents are hard to fight, for example). — Regarding the terminology itself, I don’t see any harm in using some translation if it has a meaning. — I’d rather hear somebody call an ankou a closed set of three than a pon.
♦Senechal: Yes, that is important.
♠Simon: About taking time during or after the games — I think it all depends on the context — Some games are intended at learning, some at fighting. — I don’t see the wrong in interrupting the play in the first case, but it is indeed pretty rude in the latter…
♦Senechal: True. I just think it is proper to take time between hands in a learning game, and not to do so during fighting games.
♠Simon: Yup.
♦Senechal: There is a legitimate case where Russians had problems separating “pon” and “ron” though — because the “p” in Cyrillic is pronounced “r”
♠Simon: I think it all comes down to whether you’re struggling or you’re actually lazy…
♦Senechal: Here’s to hoping we can motivate at least one more person to make the effort to learn.
♠Simon: (same goes for points, I have no problem with somebody taking time to count because they’re trying to do it themselves, but somebody who’s played for 10 years and doesn’t try tends to irritate me) — I think when we reach a critical mass of players who are able to count — Other will follow
♦Senechal: Darn, I had a question…
♠Simon: If one person in twenty can do it, it’s a rarity that gives you prestige, if you’re the only one who can’t you just look like a fool.

♠Simon: If one person in twenty can do it, it’s a rarity that gives you prestige, if you’re the only one who can’t you just look like a fool.

♦Senechal: one more thing regarding manners — got it. — When Japanese games start, most players say “o-negai shimasu”
♠Simon: I like it when players say something at the beginning of a game, but “have a good game” seems acceptable to me
♦Senechal: Western games tend to start with “good game” (which in most games is said at the end, as if the result is pre-ordained) or with nothing at all — “Have a good game” does sound more polite
♠Simon: Just a quick bow of the head with a smile is already something.
♦Senechal: Do you think there is a cultural gap missing regarding a respectful game culture ?
Dasuke: yeah
♦Senechal: Something that chess players seem to have some of the time, and poker players none of the time…
Dasuke: i mean, its common sense
♠Simon: I’ve been wondering, actually
Dasuke: but enacting it..
♠Simon: But poker is all about how to use your body to bluff — Whereas in mahjong… Oh, wait, are we going on shamisen again?
♦Senechal: Oh boy, shamisen… we could say plenty on the subject but it’s not really relevant to this kind of interview.
♠Simon: Heh. — But seriously
♦Senechal: I’m just saying that in poker, people are playing to actively destroy their opponents almost exclusively for monetary gain
♠Simon: Mahjong isn’t chess since it involves luck and is (at least originally) gambling — But it isn’t exactly poker either
♦Senechal: that and there’s one thing that poker has that mahjong does not — a playerbase of millions of players in dozens of countries each.
♠Simon: About that
♦Senechal: I think people think the poker playerbase is so large that you can treat your opponent as “expendable” — whereas that attitude in mahjong, and especially outside Asia, is counterproductive
♠Simon: No, actually, I’ll save it for later, just remind me to discgress about the growth of poker in France
♦Senechal: whether gambling or not. — Sure, we can get back to that.
♠Simon: Yeah, I get what you mean.
♦Senechal: I know it is very soon to ask this, but are there plans for growth in the works in case of success?
♠Simon: Sure, why should we stop if we don’t hit a wall? — Actually we have some cool stuff already in the making — And some we’re just talking about… — On the short term, we’re planning to buy some auto tables as soon as we reach the critical mass, we’re hoping in early 2015 — There’s one cool stuff that you’ll probably see at some point but we don’t know when (could be one month, could be one year)
♦Senechal: We can’t wait to see.
♠Simon: But since I’m superstitious I won’t talk about it until it’s well on the way
♦Senechal: I might be required to visit France next year or the year after.
♠Simon: At our club level we’re thinking about organizing some “mahjong trip” in Japan
so that players get to see japanese jansous.
♦Senechal: If so, I will definitely take a ride from the North to visit
♠Simon: Can’t wait, heh.
♦Senechal: Although I say the North facetiously, as I’m as far South as you are. — It’s just much colder here.
♠Simon: So I heard.
♦Senechal: But yes, organizing a jansou tour sounds like a lot of fun, especially when Japanese jansou are expecting players from Europe
♠Simon: We have other stuff on the go but they’re not as “sexy”, they’re more about how we operate.
♦Senechal: There are some jansou that are apprehensive at the presence of foreigners who may or may not be used to Japanese manners and etiquette
♠Simon: Yeah, and also it’s hard for european players to play, since the english level is pretty low in Japan
osamu: Senechal: did you ask about other games?
♦Senechal: which other games — OH
osamu: if people are allowed to play other games, baduk, shogi, etc
♦Senechal: yees
♠Simon: Nobody asked us yet if they may play other games, so we didn’t really think about it
♦Senechal: If it’s a slow night at the jansou, will there be other games available for players 5 and 6 when only 6 are present?
♠Simon: Although there already are some go and shogi clubs in Marseille — I do have some hanafuda though — And I can teach how to play koi koi. — But it’s not the same level
♦Senechal: heh. — there were things to get back to, now that we finished with the pre-made questions
♠Simon: I’m all ears!
♦Senechal: Stuff about gambling and about the other scenes, poker in France as a whole, and maybe some more info on the go and shogi clubs in Marseille
♠Simon: Where do we start?
♦Senechal: Moah mentioned previously that while gambling won’t be commonly present at the new jansou, there was talk about maybe having an occasional night where gambling might be permitted — I have no clue what French law actually allows, so I do not want to interject preconceptions from North America on the subject
♠Simon: So in France gambling is a government monopoly — Some structures may however get a license and organize gambling — But that’s not what we’ll do since that would require our association to be focused on gambling.
♦Senechal: Makes sense.
♠Simon: There are some situations where you may be allowed to organize gambling events, following some rules
osamu: is smoking banned from public places in france?
♦Senechal: We do ask this question out of general curiosity, the Osamuko staff do not want to pressure anyone in participating in gambling if they do not want to. — osamu : Yes, we mentioned that yesterday
osamu: ah
♠Simon: We still don’t grasp the full picture so I won’t elaborate too much but if we do it it would only be small amounts and more to satisfy some curiousity than to actually gamble. — This being said, if somebody really is interested in gambling, they can make their own place — No harm in going in a no rate place on friday and go lose your money on saturday. It’s just two different things.
♦Senechal: What do you think them of organizations like Parisuzume that do active gambling then ? They do restrict access based on ethnicity (on top of language proficiency), so I don’t think they are a model worth emulating…
♠Simon: So I just heard about Parisuzume recently — I don’t have much information
♦Senechal: http://www.franceseikatsu.com/parisuzume.html
♠Simon: But I don’t think they’re drawing a lot water
osamu: I wonder if the pros visited it
♠Simon: If people want to get together and gamble, why not, but I don’t think they will bring a lot of new players
♦Senechal: About the local go and shougi scenes… — do they have similar arrangements to the Chuuren Potos jansou ? — or do they organize in a totally different manner
♠Simon: I just met with the shogi guys, so al I know is that they play shogi.
♦Senechal: We had shougi organizations here form and fold over the years, an activity that seems to be in a similar situation as mahjong
♠Simon: Go players meet once a week in a nice bar, and I guess they also meet here and there when they want to play — But I don’t think they’re planning to open they’re own place anytime soon
♦Senechal: Heh. — You also wanted to touch upon the poker scene in France.
♠Simon: Yeah. — The poker scene in France is quite young actually — Of course there always were some people that played — But it wasn’t a big thing — Most people only saw Mavericks and didn’t think much more about it
♦Senechal: Our poker scene here was annihilated by a back-door maneuver between the poker association that was here and the Quebec government in 2011. Poker now exists only as reruns on RDS and ESPN
♠Simon: I don’t know enough about poker to know if there’s a pro circuit or something like that — But there are many places that organize poker games and tournaments — And I think it started about 10 years ago — Not with a book about rules or stuff — But when one singer that is traditionally loved by teenage girls and young women started commenting poker on TV. — The point is, the cool rules is what make people keep playing/get addicted — What brings them to play in the first place is that it looks cool, for a reason or another
♦Senechal: So is Texas Hold’em really the coolest form of poker, and by extension, is riichi the coolest form of mahjong?
♠Simon: Right now if you mention mahjong people usually answer something along the line of “yeah, I play it on facebook all the time” — I don’t need to say they don’t play riichi or even really mahjong.
♦Senechal: Ah, those people — If they put 144 insects into a bugpile and oulled them out 2 by 2, are they playing mahjong? — Of course not. — But it is yet another hurdle to overcome
♠Simon: So I think making mahjong big involves showing it’s a cool game as much as teaching people how to play it — (I won’t answer your question about Texas Hold’em since I only play beginners closed poker, but riichi is indeed the coolest form of mahjong :p)
♦Senechal: I like that answer
♠Simon: Maybe we should lobby and get Brad Pitt to play mahjong. — I think this is called “product placement”
♦Senechal: Aren’t there a few celebrities who did commercials in Japan in front of a mahjong table ? — I think Arnold Schwarzenegger was one, but I am not certain…
♠Simon: I didn’t think about it, to be honest

Volcabulary and Mahjong Politics

♦Senechal: and here, the previous club leader championed the use of “sapèques” for pinzu — because French seems to have this marvelous thing called “vocabulary”, which has a rich collection of words with specific meanings
SBelmont: What is the definition of sapèques if I may ask?
♦Senechal: then again, “caractères” (for manzu) is also a misnomer, as everything in written Japanese is a “caractère” — The English word used (for sapèque) is “cash” — coins with a hole in them
SBelmont: ahh
♠Simon: One thing is for sure: I’m pretty sure newcomers get a bit frightened when someone uses only japanese words (especially since the intended effect is to look cool but it usually looks fatuous)
♦Senechal: It makes sense, but if every organization uses a varied set of vocabulary, wouldn’t that cause more confusion?
♠Simon: Also, “caractères” could clash if we one day change the “honneurs” term to something more along the line of jihai
♦Senechal: between European languages, they confuse the use of “terminals” (yaochuuhai) and “ends” (routoupai) — That’s another valid point. There is nothing honorable about winds that procure no yaku — so using honors indiscrimately in any language is another blind spot in the translations
♠Simon: But I was saying that the question seems different if you’re thinking about global organizations that aim at exchanging, meeting, organizing tournaments — and newcomers who’re just looking for fun
♦Senechal: I’m just saying there was talk from various organizations worldwide that have been wrestling with this question for over 10 years now
♠Simon: There may be both a standardized nomenclature and some local ones
♦Senechal: and the progress on preparing standard teaching material is still at zero.
♠Simon: What do you call standard teaching material?
♦Senechal: Something that can be made available to all players that will bring them from initiate to competent player
♠Simon: Ah, right
♦Senechal: The few examples we have available treat riichi like “one version among many” when it is so much more profound than other mahjong variants
♠Simon: And also probably more different than the others than any of them are from each other
♦Senechal: Chengdu mahjong would be the most egregious example of a bad thing to treat as something equal to riichi mahjong
♠Simon: What about Jenn’s book?
♦Senechal: I didn’t get a chance to read it from A to Z., and I remember more their second book than the first.
Moah: it was ok in my opinion — but not great — mostly made to teach you riichi if you don’t know mahjong at all
♦Senechal: There are issues with how it tried to overtranslate terms that didn’t need to be
osamu: Jenn’s book has the problem where there’s a whole chapter on defense is useless because of a misprint
♦Senechal: “Lucky Drags” for dora
♠Simon: I don’t have a clear memory of it, but it seemed to teach at least what you need to know to play
♦Senechal: The other issue with teaching mahjong with yet a new set of variant translations is that it becomes impossible to communicate with players from different backgrounds
SBelmont: Hmm, would soccer/football be a good sport to use in comparison to Mahjong for localization of terms between countries? Considering it’s played worldwide
Moah: not really — because there’s an international committee overseeing it
♦Senechal: It’s hard to say you got “Peace, All Simples, Lucky Drag” when the person in fromt of you might only know the terms in Russian and all each player hears is “@#%?%$@&?@&%&#%&%@$$%”
SBelmont: ahh — thats true
♦Senechal: there is a “World Riichi Championship committee” , but no world organization
♠Simon: I think the problem will find a solution, in a way or another, when mahjong becomes big.
♦Senechal: the EMA tried to fulfill that role but they can be outvoted by the MCR playerbases.
♠Simon: People who speak about mahjong are still few — But if many people start talking about it
♦Senechal: That and there have been very shady interpretations of “democracy” by some members, with public proof..
♠Simon: In a way or another, some words will become current and some won’t…
osamu: SBelmont maybe go/shogi is a better comparison
♠Simon: Guys I’ll go around 8pm french time — Simon: So that would be 20 minutes from now!
♦Senechal: that’s cool — well, I don’t want to project any more biases than necessary on the current state of world collaboration. — that and some people confuse doing what is in the best interest of the game and what is in the interest of their members.
♠Simon: Yup.
♦Senechal: Given that we love the game of mahjong, that should take priority
♠Simon: I think language making is not an organized process — Apart from a few man-made languages that have yet to become mainstream — Languages were made in kind of the same way as evolution
Moah: don’t diss esperanto!
♠Simon: that have yet to become mainstream
♦Senechal: Should there be some preferential treatment of members who bothered to organize? Sure, however I don’t believe that excluding the rest as pariahs is a benefit to the game — Also, since even though eSports are multiple levels of magnitude larger than mahjong, should there be some kind of promotion of star players, with their personal identities/handles being part of the promotional method
♠Simon: I don’t watch eSports so I’m not sure, would that relate to the japanese pro mahjong scene?
♦Senechal: The day we can comment a mahjong tournament with Peter “DoublePon” Peng acing his opponents is the day we can rejoice
♠Simon: Haha, yeah, that sounds like something worth looking forward
♦Senechal: we are seriously lacking both the playerbase and the commentary to make mahjong cool.
♠Simon: Yeah, and the media presence — Even without commentary of games
♦Senechal: The pre-game coverage of the WRC by the mahjong orgs was somewhat okay
osamu: simon__: any chance of streaming games from your club?
♦Senechal: the post-game coverage was almost inexistant because most countries had their representatives wiped off the map
♠Simon: Hah, I’m not sure the level right now qualifies for that — But if there are intersting games to be seen, why not organize that
♦Senechal: France basically denied mentioning the event afterwards, because they didn’t make top 32 — Germany didn’t say anything else after both their members took themselves out.
osamu: there were not many japaense reports
♠Simon: Yamai is still on the top page of ma-jan.or.jp
♦Senechal: the only winners were the players themselves, and maybe Poland and the UK
♠Simon: But yeah, as you say the players may be the winners — Also, it may not have been a complete success, but it was a first
♦Senechal: Players gaining something from the experience is fine and dandy.
♠Simon: I couldn’t watch the final on youtube
♦Senechal: The point is, how much does the community win
osamu: simon__: On news sites. Yahoo reports on the 3 arrows stuff/a lot of other mahjong related nonsense, but I couldn’t find a report on the wrc
♠Simon: but I did see the travelling video diaries of some pros
♦Senechal: I think the community as a whole lost out
Moah: well riichi is not *that
popular, osamu
♦Senechal: and that WRC2017 basically has to reinvent the wheel from scratch
Dasuke: ‘Merica style
osamu: I think kinma should give EMA give seats to saikyousen
♦Senechal: EMA will do something stupid by blocking participation to a tournament to only its upstanding members who were able to tower the rankings (new countries get dick) and then win at an event overpopulated by the Netherlands.
osamu: Moah: yahoo has quite a lot of mahjong news — http://news.search.yahoo.co.jp/search?p=%E9%BA%BB%E9%9B%80&ei=utf-8&fr=news_sw
♦Senechal: if that were even a possibility — ideally though, mahjong lacks some attractiveness because their tournaments can’t even run prize events
osamu: yeah
Moah: oh japanese yahoo
♦Senechal: in some countries, it’s illegal, in others, it’s hard to make legal.
Moah: i thought you meant general yahoo
osamu: upcoming go tournament in london has a 400gbp 1st prize — would be amazing if mahjong tournaments could offer that
♦Senechal: Britain is an exception to the modern world, you guys can bet on anything
Dasuke: start sponsoring some osamu ;3
osamu: I’m too poor
Moah: osamu: it’s easier on go/chess because there are no luck elements — therefore it’s not “gambling”
♦Senechal: Moah : Mahjong is a skill game in France — which legalized the ability to play “videopoker”-style tile matching gobbing money — poker is still not widely recognized as a skill game in the USA
Moah: semi luck or semi random in france — same as poker — you can only organize prize events for those in “cercles de jeux” or casinos
♠Simon: (why not do it?)
♦Senechal: Technically, just playing billiards for say a twonie in a bar is illegal here — because they are in an establishment that makes money from their presence (table fes, or even just selling a beer or a pepsi) — but the government doesn’t do anything against that — only against poker that attracts masses of people and games with 200$+++ in the pot
♠Simon: Hey, sorry but I’ll have to go!
osamu: bye!
♦Senechal: Yeah, take care of yourself. I’ll let you know when I have a draft ready to publish
Moah: bye Simon
SBelmont: Thanks for coming!
♠Simon: Anyway, thanks for asking me stuff, even though I’m not sure if what I have to say is really relevant
♦Senechal: We’ll try to make it as relevant as possible
♠Simon: Sorry also because I suck at IRC and it’s hard for me to take part in a conversation — Haha thanks
♦Senechal: and cut out some of the less relevant stuff — Hard for everybody — but Skype might have dried your throat out — Anyways, hope to hear from you soon
♠Simon: Anyway, looking forward to meeting you around a real table one of these days! — See you!
Senechal: Bye

ENDS — 以上

We would like to thank Simon for taking the time to answer our questions in such a free format. Considering this is a community interview, the respondent’s answers were bolded and not the questions/replies of the interviewer. This is intentional. Future interviews might appear more polished, but we’ll accept this one for what it is.

For more information, please consult the following:
Chuuren Potos website: http://chuuren.fr/
Location: 5, rue Saint-Antoine dans le Panier, 5 minutes from Sadi Carnot tramway station and 10 minutes from métro Colbert ou Joliette stations. (Marseille, France)
Open: Fridays 18:00-24:00, Saturdays 18:00-24:00 and Sundays 14:00-20:00.

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