Tom's Excellent WCMJ* Adventure
* World Championship in Mah-Jongg
October 22-27, 2002, Tokyo, Japan

WCMJ - Event Preliminaries 10/23/02

Registration. Pick up your badge and booklets.
I was surprised to see so many Americans - and even two Russian guys! (Ryan, left, and the two Russians on the right, Philippe and Fedor, actually all live in Tokyo. The only one in this photo who lives in the U.S. is Mike, 2nd from left.)
The Dutch team, resplendent in our uniforms. We got a lot of photographer attention this way.
The Swedish half of the Swedish-Russian team. Dan Glimne, a games writer, and his daughter, Linn.
We took the opportunity of a break to practice playing Chinese Official rules. Martin had brought a miniature set he'd acquired in China.

The miniature tiles were awkward for wall-building, but we demonstrated our flexibility and played. We got a lot of attention from passersby who all were surprised by the tininess of the tiles. Little did they know that everyone would receive such a set as a gift from the tournament organizers! That's Chad Hamasaki, looking on as Martin plays. Chad usually wore Hawaiian shirts (being from Hawaii), but he'd dressed up for the preliminaries.

Announcements and pronouncements to make sure we were all on the same page. There was a lot of press in attendance!
Everything had to be translated. All announcements were spoken in 3 languages: Chinese, Japanese, and English (not necessarily in that order). Ryan Morris and Keri Chang did the translating.
As happens at any tournament, when rules are clarified, questions arise. The Chinese Official rules being used for the first time in a tournament, there were several questions. The photographers got real busy whenever anyone spoke up or put heads together.
After the announcements were pronounced, I took the opportunity to meet Mr. Noguchi, chief sponsor of the tournament. That's Mr. Nagi, Vice-Secretary General of the JMOC, in the middle. Photo courtesy of JMOC and Mr. Nagi.
Another break in the activities. The Russian-Swedish team took the opportunity for a little practice. Linn's exotic looks attracted a group to the lounge corner table where they played.
We heard that the playing hall was open, so a bunch of us ran upstairs to check it out. A big magnificent hall, with 25 playing machines! The excitement was really starting to build among the contestants now!
(For more about these automatic tables, see FAQ 7f.)
The main event. The opening ceremony began with speechifyin'...
...and dignitaries. This is Ruth Unger, president of the NMJL.
Martin Rep made the toast.
I took the opportunity to finally meet Ruth Unger in person for the first time.
"Pinfu Lady" (a mah-jongg related play on the name "Pink Lady") did a song-and-dance.
The party over, the Dutch team headed to the playing hall to practice on the automatic tables. Left to right: Tom Sloper*, Dicky Rep-Mantel, Betsie Daanen, and Martin Rep (team captain).

* Yes, I played on the Dutch team although I am from the U.S. You got a problem with that? (^_^)
Photo courtesy of JMOC and Mr. Nagi.

The WCMJ was a multi-faceted event! Click on the links to read the chapters.

Copyright 2002 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.