Cup: #8 held the last of its qualifiers for the 2010 World Series of Mahjong on Sunday this weekend.

We saw some new faces along with many of the regulars who come and make the event the funness that it is. Notable among the new faces was Hatsune Mai, winner of the 2002 World Championship of Mahjong.

I joined the group this time to fill out the tables and dominated the first round winning 3 of 4 games and finishing with 145 points to go into the semifinals in first place. I won the 2nd game with 70,000 points! I was closely followed, however, by Azuma (also a member of the same Japan Pro Mahjong League as Jenn and I). She was second with 109 points going into the semis.

Actually we were at the same table for the 4th game and she was on fire. She had just overtaken me for the lead in the tournament as I got a weak 3rd place in the 3rd game, and she was looking to finish the first round strong. The first three hands were rather uneventful until we got to her turn as dealer and then blam, 12,000 points for a Half Flush, Double East and one dora. It was looking like she was going to take this game too. Not so! 3 hands later, I got my groove back and won 4 hands in a row to take the game and the lead for the first round.

But that was where my story was to end. First of all, after 4 games we only carry 25% of our first round score into the semifinal round. Second of all, for the semis I was up against Murofushi (JPML), who always has the potential for explosive wins, and Izumi (also JPML) and SOME GUY. No surprise, just because I had cleaned up in the first round didn’t mean anyone was going to lie down for me in the semis and they attacked and attacked while I couldn’t find any opportunities. Murofushi’s first turn as dealer lasted 6 hands and she amassed a quite insurmountable lead by the end of just the East round. I won the hand to end her turn as dealer with a Reach, First Turn win (Ippatsu), Concealed Self-Draw (Tsumo), Peace (Pinfu) for 1300/2600 and thought that at last perhaps my time had come. But it wasn’t to be. Murofushi quickly ended my last turn as dealer and I finished with another 3rd place which was just weak enough to keep me off the final table by about 1000 points. Ouch!

So the final table was essentially Murofushi versus Azuma who had also won her semifinal game. Having both won in the semis they had 73 and 75 points respectively, putting them both more than 50 points away from the other two players SOME GUY and SOME OTHER GUY who needed a bit of miracle to steal the game from the girls.

SOME OTHER GUY did make a game of it by winning some big hands early to take a considerable lead. However, on her last turn as dealer, Murofushi put herself pretty comfortably in second place, so that OTHER GUY’s lead wouldn’t be enough to overtake her. But the last dealer turn of the game was Azuma’s and after 4 continuations, she put together enough points to steal 2nd from Murofushi and slide into 1st place.

So congratulations go to Saori Azuma, the last of this year’s qualifiers for the Reach event at the World Series of Mahjong. It looks to be a fantastic weekend of Mahjong. If you’re interested in trying to join the action, check out here for details on how to get in.

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