Saturday 01 October 2016

Marco Foschi, president of FIMJ: ‘The OEMC2011 will become a memorable event’


Does the OEMC2011 still have value now that there will be no Chinese delegation, and the Hungarians backed out since they cannot afford the tournament? What does FIMJ say about the critics the event being too expensive? What is this FIMJ in the first place? A talk with Marco Foschi, president of the Italian mahjong federation: “In Venice we have a location for the tournament which is unique in the world.”

Mahjong News: Marco, many people do not know much about FIMJ - yet the oldest European national mahjong federation.  

Marco Foschi: “The FIMJ was founded in 1986 by a number of fans who wanted to break away from a very large group of mahjong players in Ravenna to choose a new direction in organized mahjong, with the disclosure of the then brand-new ‘Italian game’
The Ravenna group still exists and plays the former Italian rules, adapted in the nineteen-seventies or so, still very popular.
“Currently, FIMJ has twelve clubs throughout central and northern Italy: Udine - Mestre - Milan - Reggio Emilia - Florence - Bologna - Cesena - Forlì - Faenza - Cervia - Pescara.
Beside it, there are other small groups meeting that are not yet organized enough to start their own club.
“Up to three years ago, in FIMJ the Italian method was the undisputed star of the stage, but nowadays it has to share this prominent position with MCR, the Mahjong Competition Rules, which is gaining place in the hearts of the players and at the mahjong tables. You could say it is creating real rifts between the Italian players.
“FIMJ has about 200 licensed members who play regularly. I would say that 80 of them regularly play MCR. But what counts is that these 80 MCR players are the beating heart of FIMJ. They are most frequent players.
“Each club has its own mini-league which normally starts in October and ends in May. Then there is the national individual championship in the Italian rules, the MCR-championship, the Italian championship for club teams and the new Italian cup for individual teams: teams of players who are not only linked to a single club, but who can also be four friends from different clubs.
“These championships take place during three major events, in March-October and November. The Italian MCR-championship is held in Milan."

Organizing the OEMC

I think for all the organizing countries, OEMC is a very hard task. Can a task like that be done by volunteers?

“Organizing an event like the OEMC2011 is putting a strain on our organization. Besides, it happens in a period in which an important internal reorganization of FIMJ is taking place. So it is a delicate and important task indeed, which at the same time is very satisfying and fills us with pride…
“All members who make up the heart of the Federal Council (the body that guides the FIMJ, consisting of seven persons) are helping physically and psychologically. The organization itself turns around a dozen people, led by the organizing committee.These are Marco Milandri, David Montanari, Giuseppe Bau, Renato Tiengo and Matteo Tenderini. And finally myself.
“With the commercial and marketing, a small group is occupied, consisting of Ombretta Tassinari, Orietta Serafini, Marco Bazzocchi and my wife Giusy Argentiero ... others will be involved in the organizational work when the tournament will have actually started. Special thanks goes to our graphic expert Stefano Mondini, Giacomo Lamporesi, who did the contacts with the Asian mahjong players, assisted by Stefania Gori, To the sisters Franca and Luisa Pece, who did the English translations of many articles for the OEMC website. And to a friend who followed us from the first moments, a Martin Rep… without him, the site of the championship would not have been so full of news!"



It was a pleasure! What do you think of the criticism that the OEMC2011 is too expensive? Do you think OEMC2011 will stand the comparison with Nijmegen 2005, Copenhagen 2007 and Baden 2009?

“From the beginning one had to realize that in the month of July, a highly popular tourist city like Venice could be costly. In the two years of organization, we never stopped trying to minimize the cost for the participants. So now the players can come to Venice for four days, in the high season, to play a European Championship, sleep in a four star hotel on the lagoon for just € 500, apart from the travel cost of course. I am convinced that this only has become possible thanks to the huge Italian organizational effort. In Venice we have quality and organization, but above all a location for the tournament which is unique in the world!

“Considering the registration fee: no, I do not think 230 euros is too expensive. In Holland last year we paid 222 euros, and we were not in Venice… (Marco smiles, and adds hasiily:) Even though I have to admit that I loved Holland very much... In the fee, all lunches and snacks during the coffee breaks are included, plus the final gala dinner. As a player you only pay for two extra meals.

“The location of the Laguna Palace Hotel blends beautifully with the prestige of the event and has very little impact on the pockets of players, thanks to the sponsors of the event. Around the main building there are many smaller and less expensive hotels for almost every budget.

“I am not saying anything about the merits of previous OEMC’s, I do not like making comparisons, but I like to think that the OEMC2011 will become a memorable event and a reference for all participants and for all who want to organize the OEMC in the future. In Italy people spend a lot of money in many regions and cities, but in July this situation reaches its peak almost everywhere along the coast. With pre-set packages and special agreements, an OEMC2011 player can count on reduced meal rates and preferential transfers during the entire event. Unless they want to buy up all of Murano [the glass island of Venice - MN] and sleep on the Piazza San Marco.


Do you regret that the Chinese will not come? Is not this a devaluation of the tournament?

Marco Foschi: “The absence of the Chinese players is a loss for everyone who loves the game, a bit like watching the final of the Champions League without Leo Messi or Wayne Rooney in the field. It remains a mystery why they fail to come, but in time we will surely find out what has happened. What remains is the regret that at the green tables we will not be able to meet some of the best players of the world. But the fact that the European players are getting better and better, and the participation of the Japanese will make this tournament very competitive and worthy of its name.”

What is Italian Mah Jong?

Characteristics of Italian mahjong, a mix between the Chinese classical game and (Japanese) riichi mahjong.

Tiles 144 (Flowers and Seasons)

Claiming rules for going out: Multiple winners

Rule of Ready, Rule of Riichi: voluntary declaration; unlike in Japanese mahjong, the hand does not need to be concealed, but 8 tiles must be left in the Wall before the declaration and the declared hand must be a one-chance hand (one that can be completed with only one kind of a winning tile); the hand is locked after the declaration and if Flowers and Seasons are drawn from the Wall, they must be discarded; going out on the first possible discard is not required; payment: 1 dbl if succeeded, no consequences if failed.

Payment Between all players; East pays/receives double 

(FourWinds Mahjong)

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