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By Tom Sloper (湯姆·斯洛珀)

July 1, The Year Of The Pig (2007)
Column #325

Note: due to the age of this column, some links no longer work. You can try the Wayback Machine to visit now-defunct sites.

Mahjong Competition Rules. An incredible thing happened at OEMC '07 in Copenhagen last week. Actually, a couple of incredible things.

In the first session of the tournament, I had one of those "which way should I go" hands, something like this:

I had to decide between a Knitted & Honors hand or Thirteen Orphans. Counting my tiles, I found that I was closer to Thirteen Orphans. Although my chances were slim, I judged it the best way to go. Soon I had a pair of Easts, and one of everything except 1C. Figuring I'd never possibly win, I was calm enough. But then Tatsuro Tanioka threw my tile. I said "hu" and revealed my tiles. I heard "Oh my god!" from the player opposite me. I took the 1C and added it up. "88 points and two flowers: 90. Plus 8, 98." He sighed, "I'm so dead!" I made sure to hand my camera to the referee to capture the moment. My hands were shaking as we shuffled to play the next hand.

The next incredible thing that happened was that Tanioka-san did not lose that session - he rebounded, winding up with a higher score than me at the end. I got one lousy table point despite my incredible hand.

L-R: Chris Redmond (UK), Eduardo Herrera (SP), me (US), Tatsuro Tanioka (JP)

At the end of the second day, I heard a rumor that one of the Japanese players had been caught cheating. Guess who? Tatsuro Tanioka. The next morning it was confirmed by EMA president and head referee Uwe Martens. Tanioka was disqualified, and two of his teammates had resigned in support.

Other players, suspicious that Tanioka was cheating, had alerted referees. Two referees witnessed him holding two extra tiles on his chair between his legs. You can read more details at I imagine Tanioka took the tiles when the walls were built. Having an extra two tiles, even random tiles, would definitely give one a competitive advantage.

It's hard to believe someone would do such a thing. But given my session with him, I'm a believer.

  • See the official OEMC results at
  • See the MahjongNews site's report on OEMC '07 at
  • See my photos of OEMC '07 at
  • Read my teammate Andrew Feist's report at .
  • Read my teammate Benjamin Boas' report at
  • Pro player Jenn Barr will surely write about it on her site at


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    © 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.