First Ever JPML Women’s League Champion Crowned

First Ever JPML Women’s League Champion Crowned

It took a little while to get this report finished (yes, I blame Vegas too), but here it is!Your own front row seat to the Final Table! (Brought to you by Garthe and Jenn)

A New Platform

In 2006, the Japan Professional Mahjong League joined its counterparts and opened a Women’s League. The league Started in May of last year and had 40 participants for 5 sessions of 4 Half-Games (East and South) each. After 5 sessions, it was decided that the top 20 would be initiated into the A-League for the second season and the lower scores would form a B-League. The A Leaguers would battle for a seat at the Final Table, where the girls would play 12 Half-Games over a period of 2 days. JPML’s A Rules (no 1st turn win bonuses for Reach and no Quad Drags or Hidden Drags) were used to increase the skill factor and tone down the luck. JPML has some of the top woman pro’s in Japan and it was a much anticipated a race to see who would win. The Nikaidou sisters, Kaori Shimizu, Keiko Kuwabara, our own Jenn and more fought for a year to see who would be the first to be first. The final contenders were Keiko Kuwabara, Marina Yasuda, Michi Yuuki and Ai Kashibayashi.

First Day Results

Keiko Kuwabara Marina Yasuda Michi Yuuki Ai Kashibayashi
1st Half-Game -12.1 -1.2(-10) +34.4 -21.1
2nd Half-Game +15.6 +3.6 +7.9 -27.1
3rd Half-Game +23.1 -38.6 +3.2 +12.3
4th Half-Game +3.7 +20.9 -26.2 +1.6
5th Half-Game -22.2 -14.2 +11.6 +24.8
6th Half-Game 6.3 +17.4 -18.7 +7.6
Total after 1st Day +1.8 +22.1 +12.2 -1.9

*Because Yasuda received a 10-point penalty on the first day for tardiness, the final scores will not add to zero by 10 points.

Final Day

Our intrepid reporter joined the final day’s action on the 3rd game of the day. Even after 8 games of play, the field was still surprisingly even. Yuuki had started the day in 1st and managed to increase her lead a bit with a win in the 1st and a positive 3rd place finish in the 2nd game. The 3rd game, though, really managed to shake things up. Yuuki had lost quite a few points on Kashibayashi’s turn as dealer. Unfortunately for Kashibayashi, she threw the winning tile to Yasuda’s 13 Orphans Limit hand and effectively ended her shot at winning the tournament with just that one throw. The rest of the game saw a couple players winning big hands but the points just seemed to move from one person to another and then right back again. At the end of 3 Half-Games on the second day Kashibayashi had slipped to last with Yuuki close on the leader’s heals as Yasuda jumped into the lead on the strength of her 13 Orphans win.

The 4th game saw more point trading for the majority of the game until Yuuki’s final turn as dealer when her destiny seemed to be decided. She Reached with a pair of Drags and managed to draw a third to snag 3900 points from everyone. A couple of more good hands on that turn as dealer and she had retaken a pretty comfortable lead by the end of the 4th game. Actually there was a spot in there where Kashibayashi was two away from ready on a 4 Concealed Triples hand, but bumped the 2 of Characters as soon as the first one came out. In at least one reporter’s opinion that bump was a little early as she also had two South tiles and was in the South seat. Could another Limit hand have been in the making? At least an 8000 pointer? We’ll never know. The South tiles ended up flowing to Yasuda who wasn’t taking any chances letting them go and the hand ended in a draw.

At the end of 4 Half-Games, the 3 contenders were Kuwabara in 3rd with +0.4 points, Yasuda in second with +12.6, and Yuuki starting to run away with it at +38.2. The 5th game, however, the Mahjong Gods and Yuuki showed that they had no intention of letting anyone else win that day. After two cheap hands ended Kuwabara’s and Yasuda’s turns as dealer, it was Yuuki’s turn to seal her fate as winner of the day. First she got lucky when Kashibayashi threw a cheap hand to her instead of drawing her winning tile on what would have been an 8000 pointer. Then her next hand she got two Lucky Dragons and Yasuda let her bump the third. With another 3900/all point grab on that hand, she hurtled into 1st again with 47,000 points after only 3 dealer turns in the East round. The next hand Kashibayashi took an 8000 point self draw, which was followed by some great challenges from the other players too. Kuwabara came close on her own 13 Orphans hand but alas, while still one away from being ready, the last East tile was discarded on the 11th draw. Kashibayashi got within striking distance of 1st place on her turn as dealer, but Yuuki on another early Reach, ended it with a 3900 point grab from Yasuda. Yuuki stole the next two dealer’s turns too, bumping twice to draw a Half Flush, and then drawing her inside straight for another 2000/3900, even after the dealer and another player had declared Reach. With Yuuki now at 59,600 points and the turns as dealer for both of the contenders already over, she was just coasting her way to champion for the rest of the day. It was now a battle for second place.

The last game saw a good battle between Yasuda and Kuwabara for second. It stayed pretty even until Yasuda’s turn as dealer in the south round. She had been working on a 7 Pairs Hand when Kuwabara got the perfect tile to make her hand Ready and Reached on an open ended straight draw. Not one to be cowed by Kuwabara’s strong move, Yasuda worked her way to ready with 7 pairs but when deciding which one to keep as single for her final pair, she threw Kuwabara’s winner. With her turn as dealer over Yasuda’s shot at 2nd was effectively over too. With Yuuki as the final dealer, Kuwabara made one great last ditch effort at overtaking her with a 4 Concealed Triples hand but couldn’t get closer than 2 away from ready. The tournament was Yuuki’s with Kuwabara finishing a strong second.

Final Day Results:

Keiko Kuwabara Marina Yasuda Michi Yuuki -Ai Kashibayashi
7th Half-Game -9.4 -14.4 +19.0 +4.8
8th Half-Game +14.9 +6.9 +3.2 -25.0
9th Half-Game -4.4 +47.9 -24.5 -19.0
10th Half-Game -2.5 -5.7 +28.2 -20.0
11th Half-Game +4.0 -28.1 +34.6 -10.5
12th Half-Game -1.5 -4.2 +15.2 -9.5
Final Score +2.9 -19.7 +87.9 -81.1

*Because Yasuda received a 10-point penalty on the first day for tardiness, the final scores will not add to zero by 10 points.

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JPML President, Asatarou Nada presents Michi Yuuki with Trophy for first ever Women’s League

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All 4 Competitors. From Left: Ai Kashibayashi, Keiko Kuwabara, Marina Yasuda, (Front) Michi Yuuki

Check out RM’s exclusive interview with JPML’s first-ever Women’s League Champion, Michi Yuuki!

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