Sep 23rd, 2011
The Oranda Sai-Kou tournament held in the city of Utrecht was probably this year’s high-point of the European riichi mahjong scene. With 68 participants from ten countries gathering to Den Hommel (The Bumblebee) for nine sessions of riichi, this was the longest RCR event ever held in Europe.
This tournament also determined the Dutch Champion, who has been decided with total score from two separate tournaments that took place this year.
The winner was not clear until the last session, and a lot players had the chance to win the tournament. Many had held the first place position at some point during the event, and after the first day many thought that Jean-Marc Dedieu from France would be taking the first place. He had scores of over 130 000 after the first day and even scored a yakuman Su Anko (Four Concealed Triples). In the end the three best players were Bert Claessen, Sjef Strik and Nicolas Poilleux. Of course I had already made the prediction of Sjef and Nicolas making it to top five in the pre-report, but I was really surprised about the winner Bert Claessen, a name I had never heard before. With his final score of 175,100, I’m not certain if made a yakuman or not, or was his play just superb in every other fashion. I’m probably just a bit bitter about my final position.
Yours truly got the fourth place by playing really, really consistently throughout the weekend. I played on table 12 every single session and it usually was me who had to keep the score. I’m surprised how people can play the game, sometimes not actually knowing what they scored. The gong was also a bit confusing since the tournament used the 75+15 minute rule, which states that game plays out normal for 75 minutes, and if you’re not finished by then, you can finish your current hand and play one more.I had problems figuring out their announcements about the time and hands, thankfully only one of my tables wasn’t finished before the 75 minute mark.
First session was great. Getting a sanbaiman hand really got the blood flowing but after that it was a steady run of placing either 2nd or 1st with bad scores. Didn’t even score a haneman or a baiman hand once if I remember correctly. The only session I got a negative score in was my single 3rd place finish with -7900 (-3000 uma (placing penalty) included) so I must have done something right.
My play was my usual style if you can call it that, not taking unnecessary risks but going for it when I was the dealer. I had great time abusing the Kuikae (Chow Switch) rule when I tried really hard against people who had declared riichi, claiming tiles and throwing the claimed away to keep me ready and not drawing any dangerous tiles. I only played into a couple of hands throughout the tournament that I can recall. That still proves I have a long way to go, but I’m satisfied with my overall results of this tournament.
Of course I have to mention that Gemma reached her goal of being 30th in the final scores yay!
I really noticed that people have been improving a lot as players. A couple of years ago it was a struggle against people going obvious Toitoi (All Pungs) and Honitsu (Half Flush) hands every single time, but now it seems people are realizing the importance of riichi in RCR, and are starting to sway away from the MCR/CO (Chinese rules) style of play. Also people are starting to play faster and most of the tables were done before the gong rang.
In conclusion, the tournament was great and I hope that the tournaments in the future will use this tournament as a benchmark in regards to the atmosphere, and level of play.