Friday 27 February 2015

Conquering the Mountain in Kathmandu: A Mahjong Sojourn

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KATHMANDU Nepal, February 21st - When I first arrived in Kathmandu, the airport arrivals curb was busy and alive! The locals, noting a foreigner had arrived in their midst, surrounded me asking me all manner of questions as to the nature of my stay. Was I there to climb Mount Everest? Was I in need of a Sherpa guide? Did I have a ride to base camp at the foot of the mountain? Looking around at my fellow passangers, and the gear they were collecting from the terminal, there among them were backpack frames, ropes, cleated boots, and all manner of climbing paraphinalia. There was no doubt Kathmandu was the launching basin for brave expeditions to climb up the face of the tallest and most formidible mountain in the world. But I was in Kathmandu to conquer a mountain of a different sort; a mountan of tiles—Mahjong.

Scott D. Miller, MD of Mahjong News travels to Nepal to talk mahjong, learn new styles, and build new bonds in the basin city of Kathmandu, nestled in the shadows of the tallest mountain in the world.

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‘Biggest prize event in mahjong history’ suspended

In 2007 and 2008, tremendous prizes were handed over to lucky mahjong players in the Wynn Macau five star hotel/casino, where the tournament took place. Last year's winner, Kwok Hung Alex Ho from Hong Kong, received a 500,000 USD check from the organizers. The winner of the first event, Hui Chung Lai, also from Hong Kong, got a similar amount.

Jim Mehren admits that the world wide credit crises has caused the organizers to postpone the event. The organizers will seize the opportunity to modify the setup of the tournament. Shortly, the move of the event from Wynn Macau to larger facilities at the Venetian Macau will be announced, says Mr. Mehren. This move will make the Venetian Macau the future home of the WSoM for at least the next three years.  According to Mr. Mehren, this agreement took much longer to to finalize than was expected.

Jim Mehren: "In addition, we will be staging an expanded series of official qualifying events later this year, and next year prior to the Main Event in August, 2010.  Details and schedules will be announced in the very near future."

Media veterans

Kwok Hung Alex HoThe World Series of Mahjong was launched in 2006 by WML, a group of international media veterans and entertainment industry professionals, based in the Greater China region.  They like to call their event the ‘World Mahjong Championship’, claiming it has the biggest prize money in the history of mahjong. A report of the first tournament was broadcast by CNN (see below).

Subscription to the WSoM cost 5,000 US dollar, but seats could also be won in satellite tournaments. Such as the 'WSoM Reach event' in Japan, organized by American mahjong player Jenn Barr, who runs the Japan based website Reach Mahjong – the only way to play. Jenn was busy working on her qualifier for this year, when she suddenly had to call of the preparations. “We are now working on damage control”, Jenn tells MahjongNews.Com. “I do not know what has happened. It is postponed until 2010. It looks like it will still happen then.”
One of the sponsors and co-organizers of the WSoM was MahjongTime, a webserver where mahjong can be played on line. Last year, they gave an airline ticket plus free subscription to the winner of the Sisi Cup 2008, the combined championships of Hungary and Austria. Mr. Otto Myslivec from Austria was the lucky winner and he had a great time in Macau. Otto, quite active in the Austrian mahjong scene – he was one of the main organizers of the European championship 2009 in Austria - tried in vain to get in contact again wih WSoM, to have them sponsored the OEMC 2009.

“Begin 2009, we had contact with the organizers and they said the new event was scheduled for September, 2009. Last March we asked them to sponsor the OEMC 2009, but they never answered our e-mail. Their web site is out of date.  Probably they have run into financial problems”, Otto Myslivec says.

Read also:

Information about WSoM on Mahjong Wiki

CNN video about the WSoM on YouTube

 

 

 

Comments (2)Comments are closed
1Tuesday, 18 August 2009 12:01
Adrie van Geffen
For several months now the WSoM is no longer available as a playable variant on MahjongTime. Does Slava know more than his contribution in this article?
Sunday, 30 August 2009 10:35
Alan Kwan
The business partnership between MJT and WSoM has ended. It's a business decision, just that.
2Saturday, 05 September 2009 16:15
Alan Kwan
The business partnership between MJT and WSoM has ended. It's a business decision, just that.
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