The first European team tournament was held this year.
The premise was simple – to have players in country teams battle it out.
The ten teams were split into two groups to play four hanchan and then for the fifth and final hanchan, the teams would be seeded to fight it out for final placings.
I was part of the UK team which consisted of myself, Martin Lester, Ian Fraser and John Duckworth.
The first two of my games didn’t go very well, but I avoided last place and the uma.
The second two games went much better.
The UK team finished in the top two and so went into the finals.
Unfortunately, only Ian managed to score us any points with the rest of us each finishing in third. But Ian did secure us a third place in the team championship.
It was definitely a worthwhile experience and one that I would repeat. However, I do think some element needs to be incorporated to actually allow us to play as a team somehow. Otherwise we were just individuals who added our scores up in the end.
That was not the only story from the tournament though.
During the referee seminar the day before, slow play had been discussed at length. The EMA rules vaguely indicate that calls should be made within three seconds after a discard. In the first hanchan, Ian Fraser made a call after twenty seconds for a ron. Another player on his table called for the referee who ruled that the call was invalid. Ian and several other players protested that the rule was not included clearly in the EMA rules so an announcement was made in the second hanchan that this rule would be enforced.
A similar incident happened in the fifth hanchan with a Russian player, Oleg Erensov, who made a call allegedly six seconds after the discard. Another player on the table called the referee and the decision was made that the call was invalid. Oleg strongly contested that he didn’t see the discard immediately because of tile handling on the table. He strongly objected to the ruling so him and his teammates collected 200 euros to make a written objection and to request arbitration (a custom adopted from MCR). The results of the arbitration committee were not announced at the tournament but I think we can expect an update from the EMA, and also a clarification of the rules.
Plenty of people were objecting to this three second rule. Those who have opinions on this should definitely start expressing them so an open discussion on this matter is possible. I think I was loud enough in the referee seminar about it… I believe there are plenty of other places where time is unnecessarily lost, and I’d rather focus efforts on fixing those before we start declaring calls as too late by a matter of seconds. The rules and table etiquette are generally fairly lax in EMA so it seems inconsistent to make it so strict here. Plus we’re going to waste infinite amounts of time as I can imagine a lot of people are going to be calling for the referee on this.
This rules dispute was the only blemish on an otherwise very well organised tournament. The UK team members got to take a trophy home each and I got a toy for getting the highest points on one of the hanchan. He’s sooo cute!