I (Simon) am very happy to have won the EMA 4-hanchan tournament at Edewecht, 2014-10-25.

Edewecht is considered the German mahjong capital. Many proliferous tournament players from Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark were competing. Mahjongnews.com has the final rankings and a photo.

The lunch buffet was amazing, as was the cake! And we've had many friendly discussions.

Playing a tournament calls for a different strategy than online play. Tournaments have few hanchans, with prizes only for the top few. So, you wish to push ahead strongly. It is still often correct to defend and fold, but I've pushed some hands I'd have folded online.

Online play is evaluated over many hanchans, and average table placing/average scores matter. The strategical difference is even larger on tenhou.net, where dan-ranked players have to avoid fourth place at all costs.

The best example is from my final tournament hanchan, the 4th hanchan. Between the 3rd and 4th hanchan, I'm ranked 2/27 on the wall list, about 7,000 points behind Stefanie. Several more trail similarly closely. To maintain a chance at top-3, I pretty much have to win the last hanchan.

It's South round, 3rd game, I'm oya. Table scores were approximately:
North: -17,000
Simon: -2,000
South: 6,000
West: 13,000

The South player has ponned 4 times:

3z3z3z 2z2z2z 5z5z5z 6z6z6z 0z

Tsuuiisou was unlikely from the player's discards, so it's a baiman. Nan is a double wind for this player.

I ignore it and push this iishanten:

8p8p8p 6p6p 4p4p 4s0s5s6s7s8s (6p is dora)

...to the following tenpai, then declare a riichi:

8p8p8p 6p6p 4p4p 0s5s5s6s7s8s (6p is dora)

With all four winning tiles still in the game, I tsumo a couple turns later for a sanankou oya baiman.

Dealing into the open hand would have meant I lose oya, finish the table as last player, and fall below rank 10/27. :-) In online play, especially while still in iishanten, I would have folded the hand.

Preparing a rules revision

I'm a committee member for revision of the EMA Riichi Competition Rules (RCR). Besides fixing errors and holes in the rules, we have competing design guidelines:

  • Should we do what the players want as a majority?
  • Should we do what is common in Japanese rulesets?
  • Should we do what is simplest from a game-rule-designing viewpoint?
  • Should we do what we, a small group of 7 Europeans, reason is best?

Between the hanchans in Edewecht, I was distributing a little survey, to find out what the playerbase wants. The survey was asking about these possible major changes:

Open tanyao (introduce, it's a standard rule): players seem 50-50 split; open tanyao is likely to come
Red fives (remove, most tourney rulesets lack them): players seem to like red fives
Kuikae nashi (forbid swap-calling chii/pon): players like it forbidden
Ryanhan shibari (remove 2-han minimum, it's uncommon in Japan): players like having it

I was only asking for personal preference here. I've removed any hint on the survey about what is Japanese tournament standard. The survey had several more questions for the less-proliferous rules like renhou, nagashi mangan, kiriage mangan, 3-second rule etc. My little website lists most discussion items, but the committee hasn't decided on anything yet.

The Dutch players were conducting this survey a little earlier this month. Many of them would like open tanyao, but would like to keep the red fives. One reason might be that their club is called Red Fives Riichi. :-)

The committee is still gathering info (yes, it's a year after it was founded) and will begin discussion in November. Sadly, not all committee members would like publicly visible discussion. I will relay interesting developments on IRC.

Best regards
Simon