Yes, I know it’s been some time since I wrote something. Yes, I do have a decent excuse. Yes, I do know that no excuses will be accepted. We all have things we’d rather be doing than banging out a couple hundred words for the leisurely perusal of our readers, including a steadily-increasing contingent of Slovakians and Mexicans. Shoutout to them, as well as the dude on old-style Arpanet. Still, come the day when I can’t summon up some walls of text for your reading pleasure, you can drag me off to the glue factory.
For some time I had been preparing a cute article entitled ‘How to win an EMA tournament’. While not exactly critical in its opinions towards the current tournament formats, it does paint a rather bizarre picture of the things you’ll need to do, to maximize your chances of accomplish aforesaid goal. Of course, the only way to alter the allure of this ideal but not-quite-conventional strategy is to move the goalposts, by overhauling some elements of the current tournament format.
Change, they say, is the only constant. And if I were on the EMA committee I would be fed up to the back teeth with it. Early June, a mahjong website editorial expressed dissatisfaction with the EMA ranking system. A new system was rolled out within the month. Last month, there was a bit of a to-do regarding the enforcement of some rules infractions during the European Championship. The committee is now drafting up a chapter on ‘mahjong etiquette’ for tournaments. If I were running the thing and someone murmured the c-word near me I would throw up, turn purple and beat him within an inch of his life.
It must be tough running an international association, especially one large enough to require the burden of officialdom, and yet small enough that you can’t brush aside the concerns of individual members. The internet is a great way for vocal minorities to make a difference, especially when nobody tells you that you’re doing something right. Change for the better is viewed as improvement. And yet when a lot of stuff is changed within a short time, it’s harder to convince people that things are improving rapidly. After all, stability is just as important as a willingness to change for the better.
If I were the EMA, I’d have a committee meeting, say, a few times a year, at fixed dates. When someone put something to me I’d then be safe to gush about how right he is, why didn’t I think of that, and how I would bravely take it up with the committee next meeting. Maybe then I wouldn’t have blag writers wondering whether the ship can take one more salvo. I’ve often said that even if there were a worldwide mahjong association, I wouldn’t chair it for anything. The EMA is certainly doing its part, and it’s in my interest – and the interests of people unwilling to organize their own international tournaments – not to rock it all at once.
And that’s why ‘How to win an EMA tournament’ will remain a draft for now, and will not be read except by people with gold account subscriptions.
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