Jenn’s Corner #19 – Mahjong Fight Club

Happy Holidays everyone! I am reporting from the beautiful Emerlad City, Seattle, Washington (USA). I spend a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my family here and took about 3 days off. After working non-stop for the month of December, it felt good to take a few days with my friends and family, but I’ve already gotten anxious thinking about how much I still need to get done on RM and with my other projects and I definitely need to keep practicing while I’m here.

Garthe and I have our JPML League tourney right after we get back to Tokyo. On January 12th we’ll have the 4th session of our 5-session 2nd season for 2007. The season ends in February and that is when we will find out which 14 people move from D2 league to D1 league. Around that time we will also be recording our second Reach Mah‘jong-cast so look forward to lots of new things! Andy’s Blog is also up and running and going great. I hope everyone will join me in leaving comments and we can keep him writing regularly.

Today I want to introduce Konami’s video game, Mahjong Fight Club to everyone. I know many readers already know about this game and some may even be playing the PSP or DS version. The hot game in the game centers throughout Japan and Hong Kong right now is Mahjong Fight Club 6. MFC, as I’ll call it for short, is generally a networked real-time Mahjong game. There’s lightning for winning hands over 4-5 Hand Points, orbs to take from your opponents for winning and so many choices of game modes that the console never gets tired. Not only that, a new version of the game comes out every year or so and with it, new pro’s to challenge. There are over 20,000 machines throughout Japan and more in Hong Kong and Macau. At any time of day there are 10,000 people playing this game and in the evenings almost double that amount. There are currently 50 professional mahjong players featured in MFC including Takeo “Mr. Mahjong” Kojima, the famous Nikaidou sisters and your very own Jenn and Garthe. Not only do players have the chance to play against these pro’s live, you can challenge our CPU characters anytime you’d like. Not only that, you can meet pro’s as well at MFC events in game centers.

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In December, I joined Takeo “Mr. Mahjong” Kojima, Kozue Miyauchi and Rinka Tamura in an event in Niigata. The girls always wear Chinese qipao (dresses). The events start around 2pm and last for 4 hours. This was my second event with Mr. Kojima in a few weeks and I have to say, besides being my favorite Mahjong player (and a legend), he is definitely one of my favorite people to work with. Even though he is in his 70’s he is still a great Mahjong player, born as a professional during the “tile-shark” age when professionals were stacking the decks to make their living. Mr. Kojima was a revolutionary, creating the current age of pro’s and founder of JPML. He was picked up in Tokyo by the infamous Tetsuya Asada and molded into an icon. He is the only person in JPML who is shown respect with the title “sensei” and one of the only people in the entire Mahjong world who is universally referred to by the same title.

On this particular trip, Kojima-sensei showed up on the bullet train platform as he always did, with bags full of food. He loves food and loves sharing it with people. He had 5 lunch boxes that he bought on the way in, and gave us girls 4 to choose from after taking the one he wanted for himself. Once we get to the station of the venue, there is always a car waiting to take us to the arcade. We get in, get changed and start signing autographs. We sign about 20-30 autograph boards and a few e-amusement passes (the cards used for MFC) that will be used as prizes during the event. These events are like mini-concerts. We are in front of the crowd and the staff is escorting us in and out, so we usually don’t have any opportunity to give out personal autographs or take pictures with the guests.

Once the event starts, the first 2 hours are spent with 2 pro’s playing against 2 guests each with the pro’s hand on the big screen so all the guests may watch while the other 2 pro’s commentate on the game. Guests get prizes for beating the pro’s and pictures with their opponents. There is also time for the guests to ask questions of the pro’s and then a short break before the second half. There are more battles before another short talk show and then a Rock-Paper-Scissors competition for signed MFC goods. The events are tons of fun for everyone involved and one of my favorite duties as a pro. I love meeting people that come to the events and everyone is incredibly supportive.

Besides actually playing, the talk show is definitely the most fun for us, especially Kojima-sensei. Kojima-sensei loves to talk and the crowd loves him. One great thing about him is that he is not reserved in what he says. On this trip, I had been talking about my rivalry with my best friend and business partner, Garthe. This is a great subject and everyone loves to hear about rivalries and stories about the pro’s in our off time. It also prompted the question about other players and their rivalries. Well, apparently at this point Kojima-sensei doesn’t have many rivals, but he was sure ready to talk about Garthe and I. I’ll mention that when Garthe and I first started in JPML, there were many people in the industry that were skeptical. When Kojima-sensei started speaking, I thought this is what he would mention. But noooooo. Instead he said, “You know, when I first saw Jenn and Garthe, I definitely thought they were screwing each other.” This made everyone burst into laughter. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh myself or what, so of course I had a wonderful quiet laugh dripping with nervousness that I tried my best to compose. Thank god he continued with, “Then I realized that they weren’t screwing each other at all and that they’re just good friends that work well together. I think that being the only 2 Americans it’s important that they have someone who is easy to talk to in their native language and it helps them out. These two always come to our study sessions and the other night Garthe just killed me! He was losing and then in the 2nd to last hand he just started winning and kept winning ’til he came back and took the game! Ha ha ha. That Garthe is a great player. And you know what? He told his best friend and rival, Jenn, about that game right away! Ha ha ha.”


I could finally relax. If you ever get a chance to meet Kojima-sensei or there are questions you’d like to ask him in an interview, please contact me here and I will definitely set up an interview with Mr. Mahjong early in 2008. In the meantime, anyone in Japan or Hong Kong should definitely stop by an arcade and try out the game (MFC official site) but if you can’t get over to Asia, please check out the PS3, PSP and/or DS games. They are still only in Japanese, but it’s a great way to practice and learn about the pro’s in Japan. You can also play against opponents via wi-fi with these games!

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