ReachMahjong.com caught up with one of the founding members of Kasu, the popular Japanese game club in Austria, Raphael Hobbinger. Raphael is currently studying in Niigata, a prefecture just North of Tokyo, and will be there until September learning Japanese and honing his Mahjong skills. He took the time to answer a few questions for us about his accomplishments and goals in Mahjong and his studies.
ReachMahjong.com: What’s your best finish in a tournament?
Raphael Hobbinger: I´m sorry but I can´t remember *laugh*. I only played 3 tournaments so far and each one I was in the middle, but I´m looking forward to play a tournament after my stay in Japan.
RM: What are your goals as a mahjong player?
RH: To become capable to play only mangan or more. I don´t want the small hands anymore and furthermore to get a view for the development of hand at the beginning of a round. You know, just to look at the hand and say “Okay this will be a pinfu tanio and ippeko” for example
RM: What are your goals as a mahjong event promoter
RH:To get as much as possible players to the game. In europe only a few people know this game and I want to make it big. Furthermore I want to get the good players from Japan attracted to Europe and the scene, so that one day maybe we will have a world tournament without money and small entry fee, where only the best of the best can win and everybody has fun.
RM: What do you hope to accomplish by studying in Japan?
RH: In mahjong or my life ? Its hard to say but I wanted to get a new point of view to my life and the experience to be far away from home. For my mahjong one of my goals is to play at least one tournament in Japan and get under the top 10
RM: Have you had the chance to play with many Japanese mahjong players?
RH: Yeah ! I play twice a week in a non rating parlor in Niigata and at Mahjong Smile in Tokyo when I´m in Town. Its everytime a nice and relaxing atmosphere.
RM: Do you think your mahjong has improved in Japan?
RH: Definitely. All the small things that matter in Mahjong you can only learn in Japan nowadays, because europe don´t have the same style or the same level in mahjong. So for everybody who wants to become good I recommend to come to Japan, at least for a month and play the hell out of it 😉
RM: What do you plan to focus on when you get back to Austria?
RH: University and music. Of course I will play mahjong too but after this trip I need a rest and will only play tournaments I think. As I mentioned before on such a trip you learn much about yourself and now I know what I want to do in the next years. I think that mahjong will leave the focus but will stay a part of my life.
RM: What are Kasu’s goals and your goals with Kasu?
RH: In the future I want to share my knowledge about Mahjong, that I gathered in japan and try to make mahjong even popular in Austria. Maybe I will organize two tournaments in the future in austria, but we need to discuss that and furthermore I want to promote other games like shogi or Koi Koi.