A mahjong night in Florence
- Created on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 22:18
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 18:00
- Written by Martin Rep
- Hits: 2058
There’s a mahjong club at the village of Edewecht in Germany. There’s one at Temse at Belgium, like there is one at Dunaújváros in Hungary, and at hundreds of places all over Europe. The mahjong club in Florence, Italy, is not much different from the club at Guildford in the UK or Toldijk in the Netherlands. The only difference is: this is Florence, one of the most beautiful cities of the world. The city where once the family of De’ Medici ruled, and which, for a short time, was the capital of Italy.
So here we were, in the basement of the Hotel Meridiana in the Viale Don Minzoni, just a few kilometers from the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower and the Ponte Vecchio. I always love to be invited to play mahjong when on holiday, and Giacomo Lamporesi, the president of the Florence ‘Six Dots’ club, did not mind inviting me and Dicky, my wife.
This is just a simple story of a mahjong night at one of the many mahjong clubs which are scattered all over Europe. Is it important? No, because Six Dots is just another mahjong club. Yes, since in small rooms like this one in Florence you will find the people who love to play the Game of a Thousand Intelligences just for fun. Who do not compete in international tournaments, because they like to be just amongst friends. Maybe because they are not good enough. Or maybe because they think they are not good enough. Anyway - in these small meetings you will find the people who love the game, who love a chat, who love to have fun. That is why I think meetings like this one are important: they show you the real face of mahjong.
There were 23 players: 20 Florentines, two Dutch and one Chinese. “We have an international company”, the players smiled proudly. I would like to tell more about the Chinese girl, but unfortunately she left immediately after the tournament was over so I had no chance to talk to her.
During these monthly tournaments, all players pay a little deposit. I thought it was for expenses, but this turned out to be different.
With 23 players, you have a little problem in mahjong, where there are always four players at a table. Not in Florence, where they installed five tables of four players and one of three. In the first session, I was assigned to play at the table of three. ‘At a table like this, the dead player always get zero minipoints’, my fellow players explained. ‘So in the end he may have 1, maybe 2 table points.’
What struck me the most, that evening in the Hotel Meridiana, was that the players were happy. There was chitchat and there was laughter. Everybody really enjoyed the game, and this is a rare experience if you are used to tournaments where, during gameplay, there is the silence of the grave.
What probably also helped a lot to enjoy my mahjong night even more: I was lucky. I have a Character 7 and 9? Okay, in the next turn I draw Character 8. I have a pong of Dots 5 and I am waiting for the last Dot 5 to complete my final chow Dots 4-5-6? So I did draw that last Dots 5 - which, combined with an open kong of White Dragons, meant I could win that game (3 points for that kong, 4 points for last tile, 1 point for closed wait). I think luck will come to you when you really have fun in mahjong. And tonight, that was the case.
Also on the second session I was lucky, even though I made a faulty mahjong. I claimed ‘hu’ for a chicken hand, but I appeared to have two pairs; after which I, silly riichi player I am, supposed the game was over and started to knock down the remaining tiles of the walls. Sorry again for that, ragazzi!
All went just as well in the final, third session, so I was afraid that I would run away with the first prize. Would it be polite for the guest from Holland to win the tournament?
Ten seconds before the final gong I was still in the lead. Five seconds later, Giacomo drew the winning tile from the wall, so he won that last table.
No first prize for me; I ended in second position. To my surprise, I had won sixteen euros: the deposit fee was distributed amongst the players 1~6. First money prize I ever won with mahjong!
So, now you all can be sure: mahjong in Italy is alive and kicking. I saw it at the OEMC2011 in Venice and I saw it here, in the basement room of that nice club in Florence. And I promised myself: as soon as that too high reward for self-draw is skipped in MCR, I surely will play it more often.