UK Mahjong Association

UK Mahjong Association


8th UK Open Riichi Championship

The eighth UK Riichi Open attracted forty competitors, including players from Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Italy and even China (although the winner, Yihe Lu, is in practice, presently studying at Warwick University). In fact, one of the longest distance travellers to the tournament was Brigit Berkitt – all the way from the Shetland Islands, 800 miles away from the Godalming venue, but still within the British Isles (just).

Yihe was never far from the lead throughout the tournament, although the early running was also made by Denmark’s Sebastian Lavallée, along with home based players James Green and local players, Andy Mathew and partnered locals Nick Dyer and Paola Bungaro.

By the end of rounds 3&4, James and Andy were overtaken in the lead by Martijn Gulmans from Netherlands, with Michael Donaghy and Ryo Fukaura also showing among the leaders for the first time.

It was in Round 6 that Yihe took first took the overall lead with a 70,000+ session at the expense of, among others early leader Martijn - a lead that he would never relinquish. A strong finish by Michael Donaghy, beginning the final round with dealer Baiman and dealer Haneman on the first two hands, propelled him up seven positions into second place, while Ryo and Jason swapped positions in the same round, finishing in third and fourth places respectively. The ‘Better 2Day’ prize was won by Martijn Klaar, moving up the rankings by thirteen places in the process to ninth spot.

With 10 tables in play over 8 rounds, (80 Hanchan) some ‘tournament titbits’ may be of interest:

Competitors recorded the playing time for 68 of the Hanchan which averaged out at 7.5 minutes per hand – that is the playing time including all shuffling, wall building, dealing, playing and scoring too!

Congratulations to the winners, of course, but also to all other competitors for a competition played in the excellent collaborative spirit of mutual encouragement that is the hallmark of Riichi mahjong.

See the full tournament results here.

Posted: 7th Aug 2017

6th Open European Championship OEMC (MCR) – Povoa de Varzim. Portugal

Although relatively little competitive Mahjong Competition Rules style mahjong (MCR) is played in UK, a small group led by John Duckworth has been playing for the past 12 months or so, and he has blazed a trail in a number of events on the European mainland. Two representatives from UK attended the 6th European MCR Championship in Povoa de Varzim. Congratulations to John (once again), playing in his first European Championship he finished a highly creditable 18th of 240 competitors. Not bad for a relative ‘beginner’!

Posted: 20th June 2017

2nd World Riichi Championship – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

The 2nd World Championship of Riichi mahjong will be held from 4-8 October, 2017 in Las Vegas. There are four places available for UK players and the following players have been selected:

Michael Donaghy, Martin Lester, Christopher Rowe and Yixuan Liu, current holder of the UK Open title.

In addition, based on his performance as the best placed European player in the first World Championship in Paris in 2014, John Duckworth will also be competing by right.

We wish all our competitors well, but can any of them match or even improve on John Duckworth’s semi finalist position in 2015 when he was the only European player remaining with seven Japanese pro players?

Posted: 20th June 2017

8th UK Riichi Open 2017

The website is now open for registration for the eighth UK Riichi Open which will take place in Godalming, Surrey on August 12th - 13th. Following the successes of last year’s UK Open tournament in Cambridge, and the successful staging of the European event we hope that more of our home grown riichi players will be looking to renew their rivalry in this popular event, along with the usual sprinkling of European and other overseas entrants.

Full details are available on the dedicated tournament website where players can enrol for the event.

Posted: 1st Apr 2017

2nd World Riichi Championship – 2017

The 2nd World Riichi Championship 2017 takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada October 4th to 8th.

The UK has been allocated 5 seats. Here again, applications are invited from UK players wishing to be considered for these places by contacting UKMA.

Posted: 1st Mar 2017

6th European MCR Championship 2017

Although the MCR mahjong code is still not as widely supported in the UK as Riichi, two places are available for this major championship which is to be held in Povoa do Varzim, Portugal from May 26nd – 28th.

Applications are invited from players seeking to represent the United Kingdom in this major event, and who should indicate their interest in the first instance by notifying UKMA via the Contact facility on this website.

Posted: 1st Mar 2017

The Mahjong News European Riichi Mahjong Championship 2016

The UKMA hosted the 4th running of this event at The Maltings in Farnham, Surrey over the 3 days of 7th - 9th October 2016. Farnham proved to be a very hospital and popular location with the visitors, and The Maltings proved itself to be an excellent venue for this major event. The UKMA benefitted from the support of a number of generous sponsors including Farnham Town Council with the Mayor giving the opening address.

This prestigious Championship attracted the best players from Europe (plus a number of important guests from the ROW); most of whom had to qualify though previous recent performances. This was the biggest Championship to date with128 players from 21 countries keen to prove that they deserved to be there, and to do their best for themselves and their country.

The format was innovative in that the aggregate scores from the first 10 hanchan defined in which of 8 “Divisions” each player was to play the final 2 hanchan, so that the highest 16 scoring players played in Division 1 to decide who finished in positions 1-16, and so on. After the first 10 hanchan, UK players were scattered throughout the Divisions, with two playing in Division 1 – Daina Chiba eventually finished 8th and Yixuan Liu (who gained a very late wildcard seat in the Championship by virtue of a late withdrawal and her win at the last UK Championship) finishing a creditable 14th. John Duckworth again finished towards the top of a major tournament by finishing 2nd in Division 2 and therefore 18th overall.

However, the European Riichi Champion for 2016 is Mikhail Lugovkin of Russia, who finished very strongly to overtake Désirée Heemskerk of Holland who had led for much of the tournament; Mateusz Wozniak of Poland finished 3rd. Mikhail gave a generous speech of thanks to everyone involved.

The feedback about the quality of the tournament – particularly the location, the format, the scoring program and the friendliness – has been very positive and heartening.

Posted: 6th Nov 2016

European Riichi Championship 2016

Plans are moving ahead for the staging of this prestigious tournament. There has been heavy demand both from home and abroad for the limited number of places available.

The following have been selected as UK representatives: Philip Bielby, Paola Bungaro, Daina Chiba, Michael Donaghy, Shaun Drury, Ian Fraser, Peter Langford, Martin Lester and Gemma Sakamoto.

Additionally, John Duckworth, as the best performing European player in last year's World Championship qualifies by right.

Posted: 12th June 2016

7th UK Open Riichi Tournament - 2016

This year’s UK Open Riichi Tournament (it is the seventh one) will be held in Cambridge on 30/31st July. As usual it will be a MERS2 rated event, recognised by the European Mahjong Association as part of its programme of events. Registration is now open here

Posted: 15th April 2016

2016 European Riichi Mahjong Championship

We are delighted to announce that the UK has been awarded the right to stage the 2016 European Riichi Mahjong Championship. It will be held from 7-9 October, 2016, in Farnham at the Farnham Maltings Arts Centre and feature top players from all over Europe.

Visit the championship website for full details.

Posted: 1st April 2016

UK success in Warsaw

The 8th certified Polish Riichi tournament held in Warsaw, 21-22 November 2015 produced a British winner. From 2nd place with one hanchan to play Michael Donaghy racked up 103,000 points in the final round to win by a staggering 109,400 points.

The second British entrant John Duckworth finished 6th after an indifferent 2nd day to make it a strong return overall for the British contingent.

There was stiff competition from the three Slovakian players who finished 2nd, 3rd and 7th. Polish players Mateusz Wozniak (European no. 2) and Bartosz Zuk (European no. 25) finished 4th and 5th respectively.

The event was held at the Asia and Pacific Museum just a short bus/tram ride from the city centre. Free chocolate was provided to all participants! A social evening was arranged after the first day’s play at Solec 44, a nearby hostelry. Dubbed a ‘fusion’ restaurant various Polish dishes and a wide range of beverages were available. Participants played social Mahjong, table football and enjoyed each other’s’ company over food, beer and wine.

Posted: 7th December 2015

6th UK Open Riichi Tournament - 2015

The 6th UK Open tournament was won by co-organiser and UKMA chairman, Peter Langford. He had shared the top two positions with Phillip Bielby, UK’s top ranked player, for several rounds, until their direct clash in Round 7, won by Peter with Phillip in second place. A narrow final round win for the new leader and a disappointing 3rd place for Phillip in Round 8 sealed the result, and also allowed Yihe Lu, a PhD student at Warwick University and Jasper Germeys from Sweden to edge past him into 2nd and 3rd places respectively.

Peter, one of the UK’s most experienced riichi players, was the first winner of a UK riichi tournament, in 2009, but since then his results have been more a reflection of the ill fortune by which he consistently claims to be dogged, rather than his undoubted playing ability. Could winning six of his eight rounds outright, including the critical head to head in Round 7, allied with one 2nd, and one 3rd place indicate that the spell may at last have been broken?

A record eleven nationalities were represented among the 40 competitors in what was undoubtedly the strongest field yet for the UK Open, and which was enhanced by a contingent of strong Chinese and Japanese players. Even so a handful of players were participating in their first tournament. One such newcomer, Katharina Schatz from Germany, was the winner of the ‘Better2Day prize’. This was awarded for the competitor making most progress up the list on the second day of the tournament, gaining a creditable 13 places to finish in a wholly respectable 25th place overall. Katie Lau was the highest placed first-timer in 8th place amid some seasoned tournament players. Katie and Katharina were not alone among the debutants in enjoying their first taste of tournament play. ‘Exhilarating’, ‘exciting’, ‘a great learning experience’ were just some of the positive comments from this group as well as ‘can’t wait for next year!’ – Already?

The pace of play is always interesting in tournaments – and typically faster than the social play to which many are accustomed. Overall the pace of play was good, but there was quite a wide variation. One hanchan was completed in 55 minutes (eight hands only) while another required virtually all of the available 90 minutes to complete just seven hands. Operating on the usual basis of 75 minutes plus an additional hand after the bell, half the tables completed the East and South rounds, while half were cut short, most commonly in South round 3rd seat. Ten hands played was typical of both the completed, and the incomplete tables, the highest number played being a distinctly swift 13!

The Top Hanchan award went to Gemma Sakamoto, with a score of 78,700 in the final round propelling her up five places into 5th place overall. Although the main trophy winners are debarred from winning the minor prizes (under the ‘one prize per competitor’ rule) neither Katharina’s progress award, nor Gemma’s Best Hanchan score was bettered by anyone.

In the course of the closing presentations, Peter graciously thanked all participants, in particular the overseas travellers and his fellow organisers, self-effacingly observing that he tended to ‘lend his name’ to proceedings. The mystery remains as to why they had wanted to borrow that, rather than a potentially more productive shoulder.

See the full tournament results here.

Posted: 18th August 2015

Further UK Riichi Success

After the opening Riichi tournaments of 2015 the UK has moved a further position up the ranking list into third place behind Russia and Denmark, and narrowly (but pleasingly) ahead of Austria, courtesy of some excellent performances by UK players.

In the Graz Open, the UK duo of Martin Lester and Philip Bielby finished 7th and 9th respectively in a strong field which included several of the top European players. The winner was Henrik Leith (DK), with Alexander Doppelhoffer (A) as runner up and EMA President, Tina Christensen (also DK) in 3rd.

In May, Daina Chiba who finished second in the 2014 UK Open, took 3rd place in the Aachen tournament. Daina has only played in these two tournaments so far, and so, like Shaun Drury (presently ranked No.4 in the UK) his personal ranking is only likely to improve when his next tournament results are known.

A full description of the system of ranking is available on the EMA website, but to simplify it down to its essentials the system works (narratively) as follows. By winning a tournament, a player gains 1000 points which progressively reduces down the field to award 0 points for last place. An individual’s points ranking is a combination of the average points earned in the qualifying period in all the MERS ranked tournaments a player has played, and the three best results each player has achieved in that same period. A weighting is applied to make bigger/longer/more important competitions be reflected more strongly. It is a dynamic system whereby points earned atrophy by 1/3 per year for three years, after which time old results, however good or bad, count for nothing. Country rankings are arrived at by balancing the average rating of all players in that country and the rating of their top three players.

However, it is always assumed that a player has played in at least five tournaments to achieve their points tally. So the good news for Daina and Shaun (and maybe UK too) is that despite having played only two and three qualifying tournaments respectively, their individual ratings are presently artificially low.

Posted: 22nd May 2015

UK Moves Up the Rankings

The European Mahjong Association maintains a ranking list of players of both MCR and Riichi, based on their performances in major tournaments. Just like the world golf and tennis rankings this ranking list is fluid as older results fall away to be replaced by more recent ones.

Despite being a relative newcomer to the European Mahjong scene, at the latest issue of the Riichi rankings, UK is rated 4th among the European countries based on its players’ performances, behind Denmark, Russia and Germany, but ahead of much more established countries such as France and Netherlands.

A major contributor to the UK’s progress is Philip Bielby whose spectacular record to date shows two outright wins and two second places in just six tournaments, elevating him to Europe’s currently No. 3 rated player.

Pride of place among the UK players’ achievements of recent time however goes to John Duckworth, the Guildford based player. John was one of seven UK competitors in the World Riichi Championship recently held in Paris which was organised on a round robin basis initially, followed by a knockout stage contested by the top 32 players. John was one of nine European players to reach this stage of the competition but one of only two to progress to the quarter-final (16). John went on to contest the semi-final stage along with seven Japanese professionals, narrowly missing out on a place in the final was eventually won by Yamai Hiroshi. Both the semi-finals and final featured live on Japanese TV.

Asked about what he learned from the event, John said, “Playing in such a prestigious tournament was a terrific learning experience. The strategies deployed by international competitors’, etiquette and even scoring competencies were a real eye-opener for me. I found that I had to learn and copy some of the methods in order to keep up. One feature in particular is that at this level other players do not wait for you to sort your tiles from the deal. East discards at the earliest opportunity and if you want the tile you’ve got to be quick or the opportunity has gone. It was quite common for North to sort their tiles and then look at the table to find 3 discards already down!”

It just goes to show that the old adage applies to Riichi too – “a fast game is a good game” (and vice versa).

Posted: 23rd March 2015