London needs more offline Mahjong players

So I had a chatette with Osamu and he gave me permission to write this article. Seeing as I’m new to the blog, I should care to introduce myself.

Ting. London Ting. Shaken. Stirred. Doesn’t matter really. Like the majority of you, I have a keen interest in Mahjong. Maybe half of that majority started playing Chinese Mahjong, then discovered Riichi. I was super, mega, hyper confused with the concept of ‘furiten’ when I first played riichi. (There is no furiten in Chinese MJ, well, there is, but not in the same way, argh… anyway!) I wanted to find more people to play offline mahjong with, both Chinese and Japanese. So, I started a club. The London Mahjong Fight Club.

We had our first session/lesson on Saturday. Turn out was good. Ten people give or take. Some were total beginners. Others were ‘experienced’. Why in quotations? I’ll come to that later. Before that though, a little rant from moi.

Living in London and not having anyone to play MJ with sucks. Big time. All the people I used to play with before have either died, emigrated, married, become hermits, lost a hand in battle, turned to other vices or just don’t want to play anymore. So, I’m stuck with my PSP and 麻雀格闘倶楽部. Still annoyed with ‘furiten’ I endeavoured to understand this mysterious concept that had plagued me for years. After conquering it and achieving マスター rank by collecting 56 dragonballs, I needed to find another fix. I remembered before that Yahoo! Games had MJ. Though… it was crap. There must be a Japanese online game. I mean, we’re not using dial-up modems anymore! Searching the depths of the Internet, I came across Osamu’s blog. Within the many fascinating articles was a guide for Tenhou. That’s where I am at present. Trying to understand Tenhou and configure the settings to my liking. (that 3 second to decide your discard pisses me off right now) But it’s not enough to play MJ online. I need to feel the tiles. With my bare hands. (well, thumb) Let’s now return to the main focus of the article.

I began ‘teaching’ my students about the tiles. Explaining the bleeding obvious in a not so condescending manner. Each tile is repeated four times, (except for the flower tiles). There are three families, dots, bamboo and characters. There are wind tiles. There are dragon tiles. You win by having 4 sets of 3 tiles and a single pair. (These are beginners, so I did not tell them about chitoitsu) You’ve heard it all before so I’ll spare you the first 20 pages of the MJ manual and skip to the part about the ‘experienced’ players.

We had two tables going. One was n00b, other not. After finishing my introduction to MJ, I let them loose into their first game. (We played one round where all the players hands were open, so I could see what they were doing and thereby teach them what to discard and what to keep) So, I move over to the other table, it’s in full flow. However! Something is wrong. It took me a while (1 ns) to realise, their play direction was clockwise! Does not compute. Error 4543 has occurred. *pacefalm*

Being the organiser, I decided to let them finish their round and then inquire. Trying to do so in an inquisitive manner, rather than opposing, I began with “Which set of rules are you playing?” One of the ‘experienced’ players responded, “China rules.” O…K… dot dot dot. China has over 30 provinces, each with possibly a different ruleset. There may be, slim, but may be a possibility that one of those areas in China play with a ‘different’ rule set. I pursued the questioning. “Where exactly in China?” “Well, we learnt this from the Confucius centre in London. People from China came and taught us how to play Mahjong.” (see link – http://www.soas.ac.uk/lci/)

An event to my childhood came in a flashback. I was taught  INCORRECTLY by my teacher that spiders had 6 legs. The other two were ‘hands’. So there were some seniors in school, talking about biology, as you do in the hallway. I don’t remember the exact flow, but I butted in with, “…actually, spiders have 6 legs. The other two are hands.” Brave and foolish soul. A fight ensued and we both got detention. Later on, I did find out CORRECTLY that spiders have 8 legs. And the fight was about a belief I had, which was supposedly taught to me by a reputable source (teacher). Sometimes, things people tell you are dead wrong. What happened to the teacher after, I’m not too sure. Was this flashback even real? Probably not. But it serves to illustrate my point.

I didn’t want to fight this player. There would be no point. Even though I knew I was 100% correct. Another reason is she could have remembered the rules incorrectly. As I later found out she had been playing for 7 years… ONLY with her friend. Rather than be confrontational, which was sooooo 2004 for me, I decided on this. “Well, I’ve not heard of play order being clockwise before. This is the first time I’ve heard of it. Others who have played MJ for a long time too, it’s also their first time hearing this. I would suggest an anti-clockwise play order as that is quite common these days.” Cop out? Not really. It was also to save face. Their face. No one likes to be told that they are wrong. EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG.

Moral of the story. Step back. Look at it from their point of view. Ask yourself why they are saying what they are saying. Avoid confrontation if possible.

Also, if you’re in London, contact me! I mean, come on. It’s London and there are only 2 riichi players? If there are no replies, I might have to do a PSA. (Myself and sumiomondo aka hotelfsr) Yeah, I’m calling you out! Let’s get some offline riichi sessions going!

Love, peace and happiness to you MJers. I leave you with three random pics from my Saturday class.

Preping my students for world domination!
Preping my students for world domination!
How Chinese MJ is played. A messy dead pool.
How Chinese MJ is played. A messy dead pool.
Strange red tiles. OK quality. Would rather they were green.
Strange red tiles. OK quality. Would rather they were green.

22 thoughts on “London needs more offline Mahjong players

  1. hahaha makes me feel happy to have more or less
    8 people playing Riichi in Athens every week
    and made a 20-people Tournament last september :D

      1. It’s not very central, but there is Mahjong of various levels going on at the Library Pot games cafe in Richmond most Tuesday evenings and some Sundays. For info, see: http://librarypot.uk/ http://meetup.com/Richmond-Games http://meetup.com/Richmond-Mahjong-Club

        (I need to add some more events to that last group, it currently only has RSVPable entries up through tomorrow)

        Also, if you’re looking for a day full of Mahjong, there are some people getting together near Piccadilly Circus roughly once a month for Mahjong on a Sunday, from 9:30am through to 6pm.

      2. What Max said. Find me on Facebook if you’re interested in an invite to play near Piccadilly Circus.

  2. I live in London! I’m 15, 16 this October. Is that alright?
    And I’m sorta intermediate at riichi. I haven’t learnt the unique hands and I need to learn some other things but I can play with reasonably weak points.
    You can contact me via email: baltazar.vel@googlemail.com
    Or Skype, username: bazzov

  3. Hello. I’m Japanese who has recently moved to London and I played the richi mahjong with my friends in Tokyo for a long time. Please contace me at clocknil_3104@hotmail.co.jp as I’ve been desperately looking for someone (and the place) whom I can play the riichi mahjong with.^^

  4. I come to London every month for two weeks due to work. I am addicted to Riichi Mahjong for 3 years already, usually will play with my colleagues in my hometown, please contact me at kwancheukki@yahoo.com.hk Look forward to play Riichi mahjong together and share experience.

  5. I’m one of 4-5 players playing weekly in West London (Chiswick). Gathering up an appropriate multiple of four players can be tricky, so it would be great to make contact with more players.

    Contact me at _@maxb.eu (yes, my email address is weird, by design :-)

  6. I am based in London but found it difficult to find people for Mahjong (MJ).
    I am used to playing Hong Kong MJ, then learnt to play taiwan MJ. I would love to meet up and learn Riichi or other types of Mahjong too.

    Please contact me at leonaldchan@hotmail.com

  7. just learnt the Chinese way of playing mj. do you still need players though not back in the country till 27th Oct. Oh and have never heard of richie. Would love to know what it is, and was taught by a chinese/malay lady and told its clockwise.

  8. Hi, I just returned from living in Hong Kong and playing HK style mahjong for 4 years. Now living back in London and looking for people to play with
    Please let me know where I can can you to play

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