Mah-Jongg players from around the world gathered in Holland on June 25, 2005, to compete in the fourth world-class mah-jongg event. The first such event was the 2002 World Championship of Mah-Jongg in Tokyo; the second such event was the 2003 China Majiang Open Championship in Hainan, China; and the third was the 2004 China Majiang Open Championship in Hong Kong.
These events have all been played using the Official Tournament Rules, created in 1998 by the China Competition Mahjong Compilation Party.
It was my honor to attend the WCMJ, the 2003 CMOC, and now the 2005 OEMC. The official OEMC website is located at http://www.mahjongnews.com/. There you can read all about the results and you can see many other photos. This page is just for the photos that I took. It was unfortunate that my digital camera chose the occasion of my first visit to the Netherlands to up and die on me; I had to purchase some cheap disposable cameras to take these photos. And it appears that the film might not have enjoyed its passage through airport security, judging by the light streak that goes through most of the photos. Oh well. Such are the vagaries of international travel in the twenty-first century.
Nijmegen is a historic place - the city was enjoying its 2000-year anniversary when I visited. And the WWII battle called "Operation Market Garden" (portrayed in the film A Bridge Too Far) took place here. To clarify, the Allies did take the Waal bridge in Nijmegen (and the bridge is portrayed on the OEMC 2005 mah-jongg set), but it was the bridge near Arnhem that was the "bridge too far." A lot of casualties did occur in Nijmegen - the city was mistakenly bombed by the Americans. Many Polish, Canadian, and US troops are buried in the Jonkerbosch Cemetery in Nijmegen.
I did go on a sightseeing walk around Nijmegen with some of the Danish players, but my poor dying digica gave me only some photos that are far too blurry to show anyone. Too bad - there were some picturesque scenes! Tina Christensen kindly provided this first shot below...
After our sightseeing walk through Nijmegen, the Danish group and I ensconced ourselves at an outdoor cafe (in the shade, since it was SO hot) and practiced the Chinese Official rules with a miniature set (nobody'd want to lug a full-size set on a sightseeing walk!). From left: Martin W. Jacobsen, Tom Sloper, Tina Christensen, Morten Andersen. (Photo courtesy Tina Christensen; click here to see more of her photos.)
After the game, I went and got some of those cheap disposable cameras to document the tournament...
|This tournament was an olympic-style reunion, in a way. World-class competitions bring together players from all over the world, and it's a heady experience. Here I am with Martin Rep, who organized the OEMC (wearing black), and Ma Prem Sohana (in orange). I'd first met Martin in person at the 2002 WCMJ in Tokyo, and I'd first met Sohana at the 2003 CMOC in Hainan. They both live in Nijmegen (pronounced "nigh-may-gun"). Sohana graciously offered me a room in her home during the tournament. Sohana's orange shirt signifies that she was a referee at the tournament. Martin's duties as Man Of The Weekend precluded his competing in his own event.|
|Japanese players dominated the top three positions at the conclusion of the tournament (as has happened in previous tournaments). Ryan Morris, left, lives in Japan. At the right is Masato Chiba, who took the top honors. I'm embarassed to say that I never got the name of the man in the middle. Faithful readers of this website may remember Ryan from the 2002 WCMJ and his visit to Los Angeles during the 2003 JMPA Friendship Tour. He writes translations for video games and writes a biweekly column in KINDAI MAJAN, a mah-jongg comic book.|
|Ryan and I were the only two American players at the tournament. That doesn't exactly make a team, so we joined together with the two Swedish players, Dan Glimne and Linn Ritmalm-Glimne (you have got to click her name and read her blog! Her photos are much better than mine, and her descriptions even more so). The Swedish-US team took seventh place (out of 10) in this event. Ryan was our star player, of course (else we'd have placed a bit lower for sure).|
|Linn and Dan (her dad) had both participated in the 2002 WCMJ. In this photo, Mai Hatsune (the reigning world champion, having earned 1st place at the WCMJ) is presenting Linn with a ring. Linn said it gave her luck. Whether it was due to the ring or not, Linn's score in this event was much better than in 2002 (I hope I am not further inflating her ego by saying so). Mai Hatsune remembered me from the 2003 CMOC. She recounted a joke I'd told then, and she quizzed me on videotape for an upcoming broadcast on Japanese TV.|
|Members of the Danish team. Your eyeballs undoubtedly noticed Tina Christensen, front and center. She's very active on the OEMC forum and the mahjong newsgroup, as is Morten Andersen (in long hair, behind her to the left). This was the first time I'd met either one! I love meeting internet correspondents in person. Behind Tina to the right is Sune Korreman, who took the honored "Best European Player" award. I went on a Nijmegen adventure with Morten and Tina, and Martin W. on the right (I called him "Dubya"). I'd show you some pictures, but it was on this adventure (preceding the tournament) that I discovered that my digital camera was nonfunctional.|
|Here I am with Dragon Chang. He was at the the 2002 WCMJ and the 2003 CMOC, and he participated in an American tournament in Las Vegas (and he visited me here in Los Angeles). He's written a book. You should buy it! Um, sorry for getting commercial there. In this photo I'm wearing my "dragon" Hawaiian shirt (I wear it at just about every tournament) and my "dragon" hat (given me by Japanese pro player Tamaki Abe during the 2003 JMPA Friendship Tour).|
|Posing with Mr. Gao Yu Ting. He's Commissioner & Major Judge of the Arbitratration Committee of the Organizing Committee of the World China Mahjong Championship. He was at both the 2002 WCMJ and the 2003 CMOC, so this was the third time we'd met. At the OEMC he served as the presiding judge for any rules or conflicts questions.|
|At the start of every round, the Japanese team huddled for a team cheer. And I observed Masato Chiba, the #1 trophy winner, to meditate with the tiles prior to each round, striving to achieve spiritual oneness with the tiles.|
|One of my worst rounds was when I played against Mai Hatsune. But she wasn't the only one scoring big time that round. Luca Gavelli of the Italian team (right, in blue shirt) was also an awesome player. I'll be mentioning one of his hands in my weekly mah-jongg strategy column in the next month or so. Needles to say, I scored Zero table points this round! This photo was taken the first day of the tournament when it was very hot and muggy in Nijmegen. I'm wearing my T-shirt from the 2003 CMOC.|
|Posing with Takunori Kajimoto, whom I'd met at the 2003 CMOC.|
|One more shot with Ryan Morris. Although he's playing on the US-Sweden team, he lives in Japan. He wore this Japanese garment to be cool and to show that he's "Turning Japanese" (I really think so). I mean, come on! It was really hot in Nijmegen that day, give him a break! Those of you who actually checked out my photos from the 2002 WCMJ may recall that Ryan was captain of the American team then - and I wasn't even on the American team then! I was on the Dutch team, with Martin, his wife Dicky, and Betsie Daanen. Dicky and Betsie both played in the OEMC, of course. Ryan shared some valuable tips with me, and I'll share them with readers of my weekly mah-jongg strategy column.|
|On Monday, June 27, the day after the tournament ended, there was a "friendship game" in Amsterdam. Japanese, Chinese, and Dutch players gathered to play the Chinese tournament rules (and the Japanese rules too). Oh, and two American players with whom you're already familiar. Kajimoto-san did me a favor and took these photos with my camera.|
|That's Martin's wife Dicky on the left, me on the right.|
|One more shot of the room, courtesy Kajimoto-san. That's Sohana in the red floral outfit (freed from her referee uniform and duties). The OEMC was a tremendous success - a true mah-jongg historical event. And this evening's game was icing on the cake.|
The official website of the 2005 OEMC.
Linn's Blog - lots about the OEMC there. Great photos.
More photos here, on Tina Christensen's site.
More photos of the OEMC, taken by Chinese attendees.
The 2002 World Championship of Mah-Jongg.
The 2003 China Majiang Open Championship.
Get the Official Tournament Rules.
On this trip I also visited Amsterdam, Poland, and Berlin...
A day in Amsterdam
Business in Poland
A brief walk in Berlin
A previous visit to Germany
Copyright 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.