‘With riichi, I have still a lot to learn’
- Published on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 00:19
- Written by Martin Rep
PARIS - When Mahjong News told Valérian Thomas that, based on his results, he has been acclaimed the best riichi mahjong player of 2011, he was quite surprised. "I thought that one of the Danish players, or maybe two of the French Nicolas's [Nicolas Campina and Nicolas Poilleux] were better placed", he says modestly. "But, it's a really good news."
Valérian is one of the young enthusiastic French who have just recently discovered the world of international mahjong. It more or less started with the French riichi championship in March, the first MERS-rated riichi competition in France. Valérian ended on 17th position. One month later, we saw sixteen of them back on the Cherry Blossom Tournament in Nijmegen, where Valérian made it to the 5th place. His fellow-countrymen Quentin Porcherot and his brother Quentin Thomas ended just before him, on 3rd and 4th position.
Just one month later, in June, the British were surprised by the massive French delegation to the UK Riichi Open. Valérian ended in the top-ten again, this time on position number eight. In September, in the Dutch Open, he ended on 11th position. Finally, he played in the Copenhagen Riichi Open in October (a modest 18th position, with 32 competitors) and in the recent TNT Red Eyes Riichi Tournament in Paris (get riichi or die tryin'), where he ended on the 4th place.
Mahjong News: Valérian, not many players outside France know you well. Can you tell a bit more about yourself?
Valérian Thomas: "Hmm… Well, I discovered mahjong via my brother Quentin; he was, in April 2010, the founder of our club TNT. We first played MCR, but we quickly learned trough Japanese manga about another rule: riichi mahjong. It was not really developed in France, so we played with my brother, his girlfriend, and another friend.
"With the organisation of the RCR tournament in Paris, we decided to create our own club: Tri Nitro Tiles. The first one hundred percent riichi club in France, in November 2010. So I can say that I have played riichi for a little bit more than a year.
"For us, it was not only a new club, but it also was a way to really learn the strategic basics of riichi. I remember that just before the tournament we organized a boot camp, to discuss about hands, offensive and defensive play. You will find some pictures of it on our webste.
"Today we are 24 players, and we are organising our first tournament close to Paris, in March next year. It will be the 'first detonation' of TNT."
"We initially played at home. I remember sessions in June 2011, with 12 people playing into my small apartment. Now we have a real nice venue, which we rent from the Town hall in Puteaux."
"To talk a little bit about me, I'm 29 years old, and I'm a project manager at the bank BNP Paribas. I live at Puteaux, close to Paris, with my wife.
"I really like to travel a lot: I have been in Australia, the USA, Singapore, Bali, Iceland. We planned to go to New Zealand, Canada, and if we can, Japan this year.
"My brother and I have always loved strategic games, and he initiated me to many things. I think with riichi, we have still a lot of things to learn."
My mahjong plans
"My mahjong plan for 2012 ? Well, I'll first work a lot with my brother, Quentin, and his girlfriend, Julie, to organize our event in March. Subscribtion will be open before 1st of January. And since French players are young and unexperienced in that domain, we have a lot of plan to improve their level of skill.
"The EC Riichi? I wouldn't say no to play in it! The World Championship Riichi Mahjong? It would be a great honor, and it should be very interesting to play with really high level players. In Denmark, I discovered a little bit what is the next level that I have to 'reach', and I hope to learn more and more about strategic in the following months and years.
"Playing in Japan... well, I had planned to go there last April, and we were in touch with Jenn Barr (of Reachmahjong.com) to play together, but unfortunately, because of the disaster in that country, I had to cancel the trip. But, of course, if in 2012 I can go to Japan, most certainly I'll try to play there!
"But for sure, in 2012, we'll try to participate to as many tournaments as we can. We really like meet other players, or new players in different places in Europe. I really like this riichi community, and we TNT, will try to have it grown more and more."
Valérian Thomas on Facebook