Two Martins chatting during the buffet: Martin Divis from the Czech Republic, (l), current European Riichi Champion, and Martin Lester from England.


PUTEAUX - The outskirts of Paris are buzzing with international excitement as 120 competitors from 23 countries decend upon the prestigious site for the world's first ever World Riichi Mahjong Championship.

Co-organizers Valerian and Quentin Thomas kicked off the rousing opening ceremony by welcoming everyone in attendence, with a special nod to Martin Rep, Editor-in-Chief of Mahjong News and the man credited with imagining the idea of a World Riichi Championship. Also providing his welcome and words of encouragement was the man whose support and assistence allowed this event to flourish, the President of the Japanese Professional Mahjong League Mr. Sigekuza Moriyama. Audiences also heard from many of the other leaders who helped carry this event into reality, including David Bresnick, Tina Christensen, Sebastien Berret, and Gemma Collinge.


Achoring the opening presentation was Head Referee Sylvain Malbec, who summarized the tournament's organization, schedule, and rule highlights. A bit of a murmur was heard from the Japanese contingency when the rule regarding a three-second window for a pon to take precedence over a chi was announced. The Japanese professional players are more accustomed to speed establishing such precedence, with a pon trumping a chi only in the event of a simultaneous call; a cultural difference this friendly world competition is sure to nagivage with great success.


Following the opening presentation the international fellowship of competitors was treated to a fine buffet feast in the beautiful and prestigious surroundings of the Puteaux City Hall.
Mahjong News wishes every competitor good luck and well wishes, and reminds everyone that no matter which player or country takes the first-ever title of World Riichi Champion, the real winner here is international friendship, cooperation, and goodwill.