Snapshot of the front page, displaying the official ERMC2019 logo

’s-HERTOGENBOSCH, the Netherlands - Just two hours ago, the official tournament website of the "European Riichi Mahjong Championship 2019" (RERS5) was launched, indicating the Dutch are more than ready to welcome riichi players from Europe and beyond to compete in this prestigious event. For three days, June 21-23 2019, the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch will be the buzzing heart of the riichi community.

It's been five months since the General Assembly in Póvoa de Varzim granted the Netherlands the honor of hosting the next "ERMC". Since this will be the 5th iteration after Hannover2008, Hannover2010, Bad Vöslau2013, and Farnham2016, players have great expectations. But participants can rest assured, knowing the Dutch did an excellent job organizing the first European Championship MCR (Nijmegen2005) and the second World Championship MCR (Utrecht2010). The beautiful city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which is situated in the south of the country, will provide the perfect scenery for an event of this calibre. Local sports centre 'Maaspoort Sports & Events' will function as the tournament venue.

Participants, format and referee seminar

Compared to the previous "ERMC" editions this tournament will accommodate the largest number of competitors to date: one hundred and forty. At this moment the EMA website doesn't provide any information yet on how seats will be distributed. Like at any other high-profile tournament, it's safe to assume in addition to these quota special invitations will be sent out to persons who have been contributing or instrumental to the mahjong community.

Over the course of three days, the one hundred and forty competitors will enjoy twelve hanchan. While Farnham2016 followed a mixed format (ten hanchan round-robin, followed by two hanchan Swiss/Dutch - strong vs strong - 'locking' players in groups according to their ranking), the organizers of "ERMC2019" (John Kuijpers, Ans Hoogland and Olav Sommers, and Mahjong News and WRC founder Martin Rep in an advisory capacity) decided to implement a round-robin system: "Players take a number at the registration booth. Afterwards participants play everyone, like we're used to at [Dutch] tournaments. Needless to say people don't encounter the same opponent twice. Whomever has the highest score after twelve hanchan is the new European Champion." To keep players and interested parties up-to-date live ranking will be provided.

In line with EMA's view to shore up the number of riichi referees, prior to the event, on the 20th of June, there will be the opportunity to attend a referee seminar. At the end of the first tournament day a General Assembly will take place.

Still early days

While it's still early days, the launch of the dedicated website, Facebook page, and Instagram page shows the level of enthusiasm, dedication and professionalism of the organizing crew. It goes without saying some of the blanks aren't filled in yet (e.g. the entry fee is yet unknown, nor is there any mention of a referee team, additional clarifications of the used EMA rule set, scheduled free play or any "after-tournament activities"), and it wouldn't surprise anyone if any modifications were made in the upcoming nineteen months.

One thing, however, will remain unchanged: the Dutch are excited and ready to make the "ERMC2019" an event to remember!

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