Tina Christensen: ‘A less expensive championship is not easy to achieve’
- Created on Tuesday, 02 August 2011 07:41
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 18:00
- Written by Martin Rep
COPENHAGEN - Never in her life she had a more splitting headache than at Mestre, when she was elected president of the EMA. We had an arrangement to talk about a number of mahjong things the day after. But when she came to me, she looked very, very pale and she insisted that she had to rest for an hour.
The next day, she felt a little bit better. But I had to wait with my most curious questions until some weeks later, when she was back home in Copenhagen. So we did the interview by e-mail.
Mahjong News: Are you satisfied with the past OEMC? About the way it was organized, and about the level of play? Is it increasing? Or did we really miss the Chinese?
Tina Christensen: “Very satisfied! The organization was excellent, everything went smooth. It was Italy, so of course the food was delicious. The tables at first looked a little unstable and unfortunately they were not lipped, but in the end I actually didn't experience problems. The tiles were supposed to be without Arabic numerals, but the manufacturer delivered them with numbers.
“Regarding play level, it is increasing in Europe for sure, but at this tournament we missed a lot of strong Hungarians and French. Also of course the Chinese, who are still a level above the Europeans. I think it is nice to have small Chinese and Japanese delegations at our European Championships, not only because of the increased skill level and different playing styles, but also very much for the networking and the cultural exchange.”
Did the OEMC2011 set a new example in building a great and luxurious mahjong feast? Or will EMA strive for a downgrade: less expensive, more simple?
Tina: “I am sure a very vast majority of European players would like less expensive championships, but it's not simple to achieve! Unless you have contacts to a special venue, you need a deal with a professional place, hotel or conference centre, as we have seen at OEMC 2011, WMC 2010 and OEMC 2009. At such places you cannot choose your own catering; the catering is included in the package, and the price level is high. Attracting sponsors is extremely difficult, and this situation is not likely to change in the near future.
“So again, unless you have special contacts to a cheap or free venue, I don't see how it's possible to keep the registration fee below the level of €220 for an OEMC or WMC. For some countries the price levels are different from Venice, Utrecht, Vienna and Copenhagen, and maybe they can make it cheaper. It's a huge effort, I cannot stress this enough, to organize such events, and never have EMA received competing proposals. I know that every organizer has strived to keep the costs down.”
Some people think that the level of play could be improved by organizing a smaller competition, with stronger players. Do you agree with that?
“I don't think this is the direction we want to go. I definitely see the level of play increasing in Europe, so I don't think we need to do this for the sake of increased play level. Of course you could make a cheaper event if you only need room for 10-15 tables, but will it be as great an experience to go to such a tournament? I think the element of meeting many players, networking, exchanging ideas, making and renewing friendships is an important element. So is visiting and sightseeing a city with a bunch of your national comrades.
“Also, from the position of the EMA presidium I cannot help thinking that with very small EC's it would be almost impossible to make physical EMA General Assemblies feasible, and you need physical meetings even in this modern world.
“An event as sketched by Adrie van Geffen on MahjongNews.Com with some four players from each country is a future dream for a professional mind sport, I think. Mahjong in Europe is nowhere near a professional sport. All players need a surplus of time and money in order to participate in tournaments. I do not at all see the proposal that the national organizations finance the travel of a few of their top players as feasible. It's hardly feasible for the three organizations with more 200 players, and it is completely out of reach for the smaller organizations.
“Then there is the proposed alternative of making a B event; but if you after all need to accomodate over 100 players in the two combined events, then where did the argument that smaller is cheaper go? I think a reasonable number of players at an OEMC is on the order of 120-160, but I think it should also depend on the options available to organizers. Let me say that I am very happy to see new ideas put forward, and I follow the discussions on Mahjong News with interest, because the opinions of the player community are very important to me.”
Will EMA continue seeking contact with WMO - an organization with an incomprehensible structure and a virtually invisible presence - or does it consider expanding its contacts in China by contacting other organizations?
“In my experience, contact with other organizations in China have not been easier. The latest development with China Majiang (the Chinese organization in WMO) is that Andy Zheng (whom many will remember from the period 2005-2007) is back at the forefront, and he is one of the organizers behind the Fifth China Majiang Championship and Forum which takes place on a Yangzi cruise 19~23 Nov 2011. I am in email contact with him, and I very much hope to go there and have some nice talks with him this autumn.”
What will be the sequence of OEMC, WMC and ECR in the near future?
“The decision of the EMA General Assembly was to go from a two-year cycle to a three-year cycle for European Championships. Thus I would expect the next riichi EC in 2013 and the next OEMC in 2014. But since EMA has not as yet received acceptable proposals for these events, nothing is announced yet. I hope we can reach agreement with the Kasu Club who has proposed a Riichi EC in Vienna.
“As reported on MahjongNews.Com, the Kasu club has proposed to play by a rule (the rule that a player can go bankrupt and which stops the game immediately) which is not included in the EMA rules. This is a cash game rule which EMA finds inappropriate for tournaments, and which is not used in professional riichi tournaments in Japan. A single rule set for riichi across Europe is essential for the success of international tournaments, and I really hope that the Kasu Club will decide to accept this, because I would love to play in Vienna, and I know many of the Kasu Club players as skillful riichi players and wonderful people.
“Regarding the OEMC 2014, I am sure that EMA will receive one or more proposals before the end of the year, and that a decision can be announced early in the new year at the latest. Regarding WMC, China Majiang has announced that they will organize a WMC in 2012, but there is no date or place announced as yet. I expect to learn more over the next months.
“It would be convenient for Europe if the WMC could also enter a three-year cycle, so that the three big mahjong events will never occur in the same year. I have lately learned to my great delight that the idea of Riichi World Championship has been launched by the Netherlands, and this obviously complicates the issue, but in the best possible way, if you know what I mean.”
Note by Mahjong News: Tina Christensen here refers to an investigation into the possiblities of organizing a similar championship, which is lead by Martin Rep of Mahjong News, under the authority of the Dutch Mahjong League. Mahjong News has contacts with various Japanse mahjong organizations. The investigation is in a prior stage.