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By Tom Sloper (トム·•スローパー)
2017年 10月 22日
Column #690

My apologies that no column has appeared in this space for the past month. But I have been active in the mah-jongg world, and very busy at my day job (teaching at university). I want to tell you about two events at which I was honored recently, even though I proved myself to be human on both occasions!

The 2017 WRC (http://wrc2017vegas.com/) was the second world competition for players of Japanese riichi/dora majan (the first having occurred in Paris, France, three years ago). I was not able to travel to Paris, due to work and financial considerations, but Las Vegas is very near Los Angeles. Although I couldn't attend the whole event and compete, I was able to go on the weekend to observe. I was delighted to find several people I knew from past mah-jongg competitions in China and Europe and the L.A. area. During a play session break, I was honored by an announcement recognizing the influence my website had made on the riichi/dora community.

I intend to say more and share my photos, but I will have to find the time. But for now I do want to say special thanks to David Bresnick and Gemma Collinge Sakamoto, and to shout out to Benjamin Boas and Jenn Barr. I was delighted to finally meet Scott D. Miller and Garthe Nelson, and to reunite with Tina Christensen, Henrik Leth, Morten Andersen, Wenlong Li, Ryan Gan, and Kira Nebilak. And I met Nicole Haasbroek from MahjongNews.

Last Thursday (the 19th) I journeyed to Irvine, California, to deliver a talk on American mah-jongg to a welcoming and appreciative audience of 156 ladies. They seemed to enjoy my talk on the true history of mah-jongg and the development of American mah-jongg, with some strategy tips, followed by a fun Q&A session. The presentation slides are available at http://sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/MerageJCC171018b.pptx. Afterwards I had a book signing, and then wandered through the game rooms as the ladies played. I had a big surprise when I looked up from signing to see Peggy Marsh, with whom I played American mah-jongg for several years. It's always the people who make mah-jongg events like these so special.

At the outset of this column, I said I'd "proved myself to be human" at both events. It's time to fess up; I make mistakes sometimes.

At the WRC, I sat and played a few games. On one occasion, I won a cheap pinfu hand. I couldn't say how much it was worth, and I erred in placing the taken discard in the pair rather than on the end of a chow. I was so rusty, I'd forgotten that a prerequisite of pinfu is that the wait must be a two-way (not a single). Embarrassing!

At Merage, as I wandered the tables, I got confused as to whether players are supposed to take turns clockwise or counterclockwise! Can you imagine, "Mr. Mah-jongg" forgets such a basic fact. I've gotten rusty. So I'm human. Still, I shall long cherish the memory of both events.


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