The 1st North American Riichi Open drew players from all over Canada and the United States for a two-day tournament of reach mahjong action! Running Saturday and Sunday, it was an ambitious first step into a continental tournament scene.
Over the weekend, players played each other in seven pre-determined East-South games, with the final eighth matches based on the points collected in the first seven.
Tournament winner Claudel took day one with a string of first places, and held onto that lead in the second to coast to a well-fought victory. He had time for a quick Q&A:
Claudel learned about Mahjong through watching television programs. He started playing on his smartphone after learning how to play via Wikipedia. He moved to real tiles shortly thereafter, joining the local club, and playing on Jan Ryu Mon and Tenhou as of last year.
“It was my first time playing in a tournament and I was nervous but at the same time excited to play against new people. I saw new types of plays and learned a lot from this experience. Thank you and I hope I’ll get to play with many people in next year’s tournament too.”
He considers himself more of an offensive player than a defensive one, often going for mid-range open hands. His usual games do not use open tanyao (which the tournament used), and it showed – he often went for extremely fast yakuhai hands incorporating dora, along with multi-called half and full flushes. He says that red 5s accent his style of quick, higher-value hands. Claudel does not often worry about the style of mahjong his opponents’ use, preferring to force them to react to his method of playing.
Second place went to Sean H. of Waterloo, Ontario, and third was shared between the local player Marc-Andre and Luke M. of Western New York. ( a note from the author: I specifically listed the top three because I’m the New York guy. Yay, bronze! 🙂 )
Montreal’s local mahjong club has been around for over ten years, meeting semiweekly in a number of cafes throughout montreal. You can contact them via their homepage, http://riichi.ca/site/
There is another tournament being planned for next year, around early to mid June. We look forward to more information soon!