Gaming Mahjong

World series of mahjong preview

Written by Jenn Barr

This article first appeared in the Jul/Aug 2010 issue of World Gaming magazine.

The official World Series of Mahjong is back this year and Macau is ready to catapult this event into a major international festival. On January 20th, 2010, World Mahjong Limited and the Venetian Macau-Resort- Hotel announced the official dates of this year’s events and mahjong communities all over the world started to prepare themselves for the biggest mahjong tournament in the world. There aren’t too many sleeps to go now and the world’s best are getting ready to descend on Macau.

The Venue

For two years the event was held at Wynn Macau, but after a one-year hiatus the WSOM struck a deal with the Venetian which has given it access to a wider variety of rooms and function centres. There are lots of changes at the event this year and Puyo and I am here to walk you through them.

The Event

The event runs from August 19 to 22. This year there are two events scheduled over four days. At HK$5,000, the entry fee is about ten times less than previously, so the number of players is expected to dramatically increase. The main event this year will be held over 3 days, including two flights on day 1.

On August 19 and 20 the second WSOM Reach Event (Japanese-style mahjong) will take place. With a US$1,000 (HK$8,000) entry fee, this will be the biggest Riichi tournament ever. is running regular satellites in Japan and online satellite schedules are in the works.

The Game

The WSOM main event works on an elimination system. Each round half of the field is eliminated based on accumulated points. Each round part of the accumulated score from previous rounds is carried forward and the tournament goes on until four players advance to the final table.

The official WSOM rules were developed by Alan Kwan, and you’ll see him throughout the main event supervising the referees and settling disputes. The Reach Event will be overseen by Shintaro Konno of the Japan Professional Mahjong League. Gemma Collinge of will be on the scene as well supervising and translating.

2008 Champion Alex Ho

2008 Champion Alex Ho

Who to look out for!

The 2007 champion, Hui Chung-Lai, and 2008 winner, Alex Ho, are expected to return to this year’s event. With the lowered entry-fee you can bet there will be a lot of players willing to take the boat ride over from Hong Kong for a weekend of mahjong. An official qualifier was held in Taiwan in March where ten qualifiers booked their seats into the main event. There are also major qualifiers scheduled for Japan and Australia.

This year you’ll want to watch the Japanese players. Professionals from Japan, including Jenn Barr and Garthe Nelson, will be there for the festivities and a number of others are also expected to show up. Despite the fact that Japan is the only market with a professional mahjong circuit, not many of the pro’s have ventured to this event in the past. This year that should start to change.

Even though mahjong is enjoyed by millions of players across the world it has never enjoyed the public profile it deserves. Stay tuned because this could be the year that the game joins the top echelon of gaming sports.

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