With over a decade of mahjong excellence in the West, Club Riichi de Montréal has been playing for longer than many have known the game even existed. We did a quick interview with one of the Club’s leaders, Alexandre Boily:

Tell us about your club!
The Club Riichi de Montréal has been alive, in one form or another, since 2003. Debuting in 2013, the current incarnation is still quite young. Our web presence is minimal, as we like it analog and old-fashioned, but we setup a Facebook group (link) a few weeks ago to make our club a little bit more visible. We meet every two Sundays, in a shifting rotation of local cafés.

It is rare for a club to not be college- or business-based. How do you attract new members?
We find new players almost entirely through word of mouth, friends of friends, coworkers, etc. Some of our members joined our club after attending the Otakuthon, Montréal’s anime convention. In extremely rare cases, they directly contacted us through online presence. As mentioned, we would like to hear about new people more by social media.

Players from your club have done well in tournaments throughout the years. Do you have a particular training regimen? Club playing style?
When we had more players, we used to have training games with various limits in effect. For example: closed tan’yao, permanent ryanhan shibari, yakitori to enforce riichi; anything to break players’ habits. This is something that we would like to bring back, to continue performing in upcoming tournaments.

I believe our club attracts a lot of diversity in playing styles. We have aggressive, artistic, unlucky, devious, classical players… We are not afraid to experiment and charge through uncommon hands, just to see what happens next.

You personally did quite well at the RRO. Tell us more about your playing style.
I like to play the psychological game around the tiles. There is a nice challenge in understanding other players, and being flexible enough to shift my hand into setting up traps. The best hands are those where I can gamble my way into horrible and outrageous waits.

How long have you personally played? How did you get into the game?
I started playing around 2009, very approximatively. My first games were Chinese classical rules, because that was what I found in English on the Internet. I switched to riichi soon after that, then joined the club in 2011 after moving to Montréal.

Your club has its tournament coming up. Tell us about it!
We are having our third Montréal Riichi Open (link), June 3 and 4, 2017! Come and enjoy tile shuffling in Montréal, with authentic poutine and French nightlife! And don’t worry, there is no snow up here in June.

We’ll be there, and hope others will too!