Mahjong Virus

In troubling times it’s important to remember that we’ve always been troubled. I believe it was Christopher Walken who said, “I’ve got a fever, and then only prescription is more Mahjong!”

Ok, the virus is no laughing matter and I hope everyone in our community and their families and friends can come out the other side of this all in one piece. So while we’re doing our part to mitigate the awful, what awesome is there to augment the now and future?

First some tentatively awesome, for the moment at least WRC is still on schedule!

Yay! That will definitely be a bright ray of awesome come summer. Hopefully all those still hoping to qualify will still get their chance.

Now a few things that don’t seem to be happening. JPML has pretty much shut down any of its live mahjong for at least April. Our league season would normally start this month but it has been postponed. Our local WRC dates for this month are also off the calendar. And one of JPML’s signature tournaments, Mahjong Masters, looks cancelled entirely. I expect other leagues would be shutting down their league play as well and similarly, “Kyokai” seems to have cancelled their big event, Nihon Open. Saikyosen (not a league) would have been running qualifiers for its championship in the fall but at least those for April have been postponed til late summer/early fall. Even M-League has pushed out its final series to run from April 13-21.

However, to distract us from the loss of those distractions JPML has added events to get the pros online every weekday and some of the weekends! And the Internet Mahjong Championship is being played on Ron2 so that could be fun to watch, especially as it progresses to the later rounds.

And of course, if you’re in town, what better way to risk your life than by playing at an actual table with people you don’t know? Virus? Shmirus! They say. In my informal survey of mahjong parlors within walking distance of my house or the game center I frequent, 100% are open. In my english lesson today with an owner of a small group of pachinko parlors, he said he will obviously be open until the government officially shuts everybody down.

However, he expects that the larger chains (Maruhan for example) may be more accommodating to government requests for “cooperation.” I expect that will be the same for mahjong parlors, i.e., the bigger chains will be closed but until any forceful decree, independent parlors will stay more open. Which, let’s be honest, is probably safer. In my experience their customers are largely the same 3-9 people who have been coming every day for the last 25 years anyway. The shock to their systems of a day without mahjong would be way worse than any silly virus.

And finally more just my own lament than a concern for anyone else, all the game centers are closed! So for the moment, mahjong really will only happen from home. We have an 8 month old new born at home so the law has been laid down that I will not be going to mahjong parlors because they are obviously way more dangerous than some club in Roppongi somebody went to the week before.

So that’s about the state of it. I truly hope you and the everyone else in your lives can stay safe and vibrant throughout the age of Corona. May the day come again soon where we are seated around clinking tiles and the most we have to say about it is that adding lime or lemon to it elevates it to at best, drinkable beer.

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