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The Third China Majiang Championship and Forum

October 29-31, 2005, Beijing, China

Starting to get adjusted to the time zone. I got up early enough to get out and explore the hotel grounds a little. View from the top of the hill, looking down on the lobby/restaurant building and the pond.
View towards the Conference Center.
The Chinese love games. There's a go (wei qi) table here in the overlook building.
This boy has found a really interesting use for the inlaid snake sculpture. He's running his toy car through it! It went smoothly from head to tail (or was it tail to head) (eh, what's the diff).

On my way to the Conference Center for the Forum meeting, I ran into Henrik Leth.
The meeting room where the Forum was to meet.
The Forum has begun. The main topics of the Forum were:
1. How to promote mah-jongg worldwide, build its popularity.
2. Suggestions for ways to improve the rules.
3. When and where to have the second World Championship.
Stéphane is setting forth France's view (and, in fact, the view of the European organization) on points 1 and 2 - mainly, that a good English translation of the official rules (using standard English mah-jongg terminology) is very sorely needed. ...Hey! That's what I was going to say!!!
The top Chinese delegates to the Forum. I regret that I didn't take better notes as to everyone's names, and I hope I have this right. L to R (skipping the man in the back row): Mr. Liu, Mr. Jiang Xuanqi, Vice-Director of the Executive Committee, and... (skipping the man in the back row) ... um, Olivia's mother (she was also at 2005 EOMC).

Henrik Leth, representing Denmark, takes notes. You can also see Mr. Nagi and Mr. Okuma. A video camera recorded the event.
Folks listen attentively to the proceedings.
Larry and David Unger, representing the United States. Rabbi Benlai in the background.
This view of the hotel's lobby/restaurant building is taken from the decorative bridge.

In the lobby, I posed with Mr. Okuma and Mr. Nagi. We're getting to be old friends, having been at so many tournaments together.
The Forum's lunch was hosted by Mr. Yu Guangyuan, Honorary Chairman of the tournament. Here, he has presented a gift to Mr. Okuma (representing the Japan Mahjong Organizing Committee).
Mr. Yu presents a gift to Larry and David Unger (representing the National Mah Jongg League of the USA).
Photo opp.

Stéphane accepts Mr. Yu's gift on behalf of France.
A gift is bestowed to Denmark (represented by Henrik Leth).
Hungary (represented by András Boda) also receives a gift from Mr. Yu.
The leader of the Japan Sports Mahjong Association, Mr. Saga, receives a gift. The JSMA was one of the surprises (for me, anyway) of the 2005 CMCF. The JSMA sent two teams to the event. And these two teams took 1st and 2nd place prizes! The thing that amazed me was that these players were so strong, yet I'd never met any of them at any previous tournament.

Our lunch was extremely short. We had to bus to the tournament hall (where the other players were all waiting for us). I mentioned before that riding on China's roads is... shall we say... terrifying? I wanted to try to capture a photo to illustrate why. This is a typical road scene. Observe that our driver is straddling the center line. In the opposite lane (on the left), many vehicles are parked directly on the pavement (meaning that opposing traffic must edge over the center line into our lane). And directly ahead in our lane, someone is sweeping the road. You probably think he or she will move aside once aware of our approach? Think again!
The blue three-wheeler has crossed over the center line to pass another vehicle... putting it head-on with the approaching green bus. The bus driver is undoubtedly laying on his horn... oh, wait, no. The blue three-wheeler is the one honking his horn. The horn means "I'm coming through, so you better react accordingly." In fact, you sometimes see signs telling drivers to honk their horn!
You can also see that our driver is going to have to edge over the center line, to get past the tri-color three-wheeler at the right. This will put us directly head-to-head with the green bus!
This kind of thing goes on constantly on China's roads. If you're riding on the roads, the best thing is to just close your eyes and not look.
Here we are, arriving (safely, believe it or not) at the JiXian Training Center for the afternoon's tournament rounds.
I guess I must've been distracted or something. My absolute worst round was against this lady. Her name is Jiao Linghua (of the China Jiexiu team). Twice when I was playing against her, I was waiting to make Seven Pairs. When it came time to decide which of two tiles to throw, I picked the one she needed for mah-jongg. Twice! Another time that round, she won on my discard - it looked safe because the other three of them were out, and of course she got extra points from me because the tile was the last of its kind. But the crowning blunder was when I threw Wh to her two dragon exposures. She got Little Three Dragons, for 84 points. If I hadn't made that one stupid play, I might have ended up at 88th place (see Column 242 for details).

Sune Korreman wasn't having all that great a round either, by the looks of things.
In between rounds, the referees reconcile each table's score sheets, and also make sure that the tiles are orderly for the beginning of the next round.
Stéphane Parcollet competes.
Laurent Mahé played a round with Aya Furukawa as one of his opponents.

One of the referees was Wenlong Li. He's a Ph.D. student in Sustainable Development (Environment Impact Assessment) at Peking U.
Back home at the Yuxinyuan Hotel, some ladies were practicing in the lobby of Building 2. I didn't catch the names of the ladies on the left, but the one at left (in tan jacket) was the videographer for the Forum meeting. Facing us at upper R is Ma Huidi, who works with the government. At far R is Olivia, who was in Nijmegen and who met me at the Beijing airport on my arrival.
A view of the practice floor.
Dinner with the French guys and the JMPA players.

Stéphane tells a story.
Andy brings out a Hungarian drink.
Kaori Tanaka (L) was the videographer for the JMOC. Mah-Jongg is huge in Japan. These tournaments have to be videotaped and narrated and will be shown on Japanese TV. Oh. And that's Mai Hatsune (reigning world champion) on the right.
I wonder what image Stéphane is showing Kajimoto-san that has Aya Furukawa so shocked!?

Pretty lighting on the hotel grounds, viewed from the bridge.
The lighting scheme on the lobby/restaurant building.
Meanwhile, back in Building 2, a late-night game was going on. The Forum videographer at left; Ma Huidi at upper left getting a pointer from Olivia's mom. Olivia at lower right.
I was invited to sit at the other table, to teach the folks a thing or two about the game. One of the players was unclear on the manner of building walls; she'd started to make the walls tile-lengthwise, which caused a chuckle or two.

As we started to play, kibitzers started to show up.
Talk about kibitzers - you can't get ask for better over-the-shoulder advice than these folks. Mr. Gao, Kajimoto-san, and Mai Hatsune.
Pretty soon, all the folks I was teaching? Playing against? Had the ultimate advisors. One player had Mr. Gao, one had Mai Hatsune, and one had Masato Chiba. And these superpowers were all arrayed against poor poor pitiful me!
The lady on the right in blue and yellow is Jun Wong. She speaks great English, and I think she was involved in writing the English translation of the official rules. She acknowledged that they need help with standard English mah-jongg terminology.
When the hand ended, I got up and let Mr. Gao have my seat. The others got up too, and now we had an All-Stars game going.

I'd wanted to get my picture with Rabbi Benlai. He played on the Danish team.
This is me with my new heartthrob, Japanese TV videographer Kaori Tanaka. (She's not opposed to coming out from behind the camera once in a while.)
This was more fun than you can imagine, but I gotta get some sleep! The game went on for who knows how long.

Friday, October 28, 2005 - First Day in China
Saturday, October 29, 2005 - Tournament Day One
Sunday, October 30, 2005 - Tournament Day Two
Monday, October 31, 2005 - Last Tournament Day
Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - Sightseeing in Beijing
Thursday, November 3, 2005 - Last Beijing Outing

Copyright 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.