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By Tom Sloper (湯姆 斯洛珀)
August 10, The Year Of The Rat

Column #376

World Series of Mahjong. Less than six weeks from now, the second World Series of Mahjong will take place in Macau. The first event, last year, was a resounding success, and this year's event is a mustn't miss! That said, I'm going to have to miss it. I spent way over budget on the EOMC and WMJC last year, and I don't have a budget for any travels this year. But don't let that stop you from going. If I could, I surely would. The chance to see old friends and make new ones. The chance to be present at mah-jongg history. The headiness of the big money prize.

The WSOM is a separate thing entirely from the World Championships, which are played under the auspices of the World Mahjong Organization, using the Mahjong Competition Rules. The WSOM is owned and managed by World Mahjong Limited, founded by a team of international media and entertainment professionals. The WSOM rules were created by mahjong scholar Alan Kwan, based mainly on HKOS with some patterns borrowed from other Chinese variants. Kwan balanced the scoring using precise mathematical concepts.

The WSOM offers a $1,000,000 prize for the top winner. When there's a big money prize, there is a buy-in, so contestants have to fork over $5,000 to compete. A very different thing from the Olympic-style medals-only competition of the events organized by the World Mahjong Competition Committee and the European Mahjong Association.

Of special interest in the 2008 event is the addition of a "mini event" being held the day before the main event. Jenn Barr, the American pro player in Japan discussed herein before, conceived the event to help extend the WSOM's popularity to players of other variants—starting with Japanese riichi/dora majan. The buy-in for the Reach Mahjong Mini Event is $1,000. Those riichi players who wish to also compete in the main event will, of course, have to buy into the main event, and play by Kwan's WSOM rules.

Left: I had tea and board games with Alan Kwan in Hong Kong in January 2002. Right: Jenn Barr was here in Los Angeles just a couple of weeks ago.

To get information about the WSOM and register, go to To get information in Japanese about the Reach Mahjong Mini Event, go to The mini event takes place on September 18 at the Wynn Macau, and the main event takes place September 19-21 at the same place. It's sure to be fantastic!


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© 2008 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.