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Riichi Tournaments
(from left:) Michael Ha (4th), Nicolas Montenegro (3rd), Amauri Murai (1st), Francis San Emeterio (2nd) (photo credit: Alloatti/Fogel)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Amauri Filipe Murai Sanches from Brazil claimed first spot scoring 36.9 points in the second edition of the "Campeonato Sudamericano de Mahjong Riichi" ("South American Riichi Championship") which took place June 2-3. Second place went to Francis San Emeterio from hosting country Argentina with 30.8 points. In third position followed his fellow countryman Nicolas Isaac "Guile" Montenegro scoring 5.0 points and in fourth trailed Canadian player Michael Ha with -72.7 points.

With no intention of minimizing the huge effort Cristian Abarza del Solar and his crew from Santiago, Chile made to host the inaugural edition of the "Campeonato Sudamericano de Mahjong Riichi" in August 2017 this event could be categorized as rather modest: a total of eight players (three from Argentina and five from Chile) competed in four hanchan following WRC rules at local game shop 'Warpig Games'.

With riichi booming in South America the need for a more structured and professional approach was apparent: Matías Alloatti and his crew from Buenos Aires-based 'Club Argentino de Mahjong Riichi' had no problem catering to that need: an upscale venue, custom-made table tops (by local carpenter Adrian Porta/Ikigai Carpinteria), and a more balanced tournament format. The organizers even had souvenirs made, i.e. t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains and booklets. A dedicated trilingual website and Facebook page, and active promotion on social media quickly drew national and international attention, even though the latter didn't lead to participation from players beyond the South American continent (Canadian Michael Ha works in Argentina). In total twenty-four contestants representing five countries competed over two days following alternative rules: five hanchan round-robin on the first day, top eight players advanced to semi-finals and finals on day two, while the rest played friendly games using jansou rules. Similar to the first edition the "Mahjong International League" ("MIL") extended their support; not only did General Secretary Wenlong Li get personally involved helping the crew during their preparations, "MIL" generously rewarded the eight highest scoring players with seats on the upcoming "World Mahjong Sports Games" in China.

Day one (photo credit: Alloatti/Fogel)

Organizer Matías Alloatti reports:

"The 2nd SRC was decided in October 2017 in the WRC ["World Riichi Championship"] when the representatives of the South American countries met Wenlong [Li, ed.], Scott Miller and Tina Christensen [respectively General Secretary, Vice President, Vice President of "MIL", ed.]. Eight months later we did not expect to have such an amazing championship. A lot of people from the 'Club Argentino de Mahjong Riichi' worked really hard in order to make it possible.

The championship gathered twenty-four players, nineteen from Argentina, two from Brazil, one from Canada, one from Chile and one from Uruguay. Most of the South American players who went to Las Vegas assisted. Felipe Rojas from Chile, Amauri Murai from Brazil, Lucas Palmero and Matias Alloatti from Argentina. Former SRC champion Pablo Figoni could not be part of this second edition. There were also two judges and a few assistants.

Qualifiers

In the first day of the championship, the qualifiers took place. It was set on five hanchan rounds, all versus all format, and top eight players moved to the semi-finals. It was dominated by Guile [Nicolas Isaac Montenegro, ed.] from Argentina who achieved three wins and two second places, to get a huge 120 points advantage over the number two seed Arthur from Brazil. Qualified players included Facundo (Uruguay), Patricio (Argentina), Michael (Canada), Amauri (Brazil), Francis (Argentina), Inés (Argentina). That made four players from Argentina, two from Brazil, one from Canada and one from Uruguay.

Semi-finals

In the second day, the semi-finals were played. Michael showed a solid performance to win game one in the first semi-final, while Guile kept in good shape and finished second. On game two it was Guile who won, while Michael dropped to third, but still qualified to the final. Patricio and Inés did not have good sessions and were eliminated. The second semi-final matched up both Brazilian players, Amauri and Arthur, with Francis and Facundo. Amauri shined by winning both games, while Francis got second twice and also qualified. Facundo had a chance to qualify with his third place in game one and a riichi tsumo in the oorasu ["all last", final dealer's turn, ed.] of game two that needed ura doras, but the tile revealed did not grant him any so the hand was not enough to overtake Francis and clinch the qualification. Arthur could not keep the performance of day one and also was eliminated.

Baiman

The finals were played by Guile, Michael, Amauri and Francis. The emotion experienced in the final table was incredible. Everyone remained in silence spectating and when the hands were won there was respectful rounds of applause. Game one was won by Amauri with a big lead over second place Francis. Michael and Guile had a bad first session and had to go for a huge comeback in order to revert the situation and win the title. In the oorasu of the second final and with ten minutes to go, Amauri in third place had the lead in the overall score. Francis in second had the necessity to overtake Guile in first, who was around 4,000 points away, to become the new champion. Francis, with the dealer position, accomplished some cheap wins in order to keep repeating the oorasu and cut off the difference up to 400 points with Guile. But when the time run out Guile finished the game with a riichi tsumo chiitoitsu dora dora. Amauri raised his hand, but immediately realized that the ura dora granted Guile two more fan, so that big baiman hand could have made Guile the champion. After calculations it was not big enough and Amauri was declared victorious. The awards ceremony was emotional with Amauri’s little brother Arthur giving him the first place medal and the trophy, and everyone congratulating each other for the job done."

Interested parties can watch the final's oorasu/"all last" and award ceremony here (courtesy of Adrian Porta).

Passion For Mahjong

Amauri Murai's response to his victory: "I feel like reading all those books and learning more and more about the game have paid off once again. I was a bit sad to see my little brother eliminated in the semifinals after getting 2nd in the preliminary stage, but I guess I managed to honor him! Also, more than the title per se, what made me happy was feeling the atmosphere there. People watching the final around the table, showing surprise as the match unfolded (when Oya made a Kan with 7p and the new indicator was 6p, for instance), getting as nervous as the finalists themselves... and giving an ovation after a tough (and well-played) round ended. It was beautiful and instantly reminded me of the WRC ["World Riichi Championship", ed.] finals broadcasted at the Palms [Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas, ed.], another unforgettable experience. The passion we feel for Mahjong is awesome, and hopefully more people will feel that too - we'll work hard for this! I have to thank everyone in the tournament for putting their efforts in making it such a great event, be it organizers, sponsors and the players themselves, who gave all they got and put up a really good fight. Muchísimo gusto y gracias por todo, Argentina!"

Additional pictures can be viewed on the tournament Facebook page (photography: Barbara Alloatti and Micaela Fogel)

Group photo participants and organizers (photo credit: Alloatti/Fogel)

Final results of the South American Riichi Championship 2018 (Riichi, no RERS), Buenos Aires

Place Name Nat. Points
1 Amauri Filipe Murai Sanches BRA 36.9
2 Francis San Emeterio ARG 30.8
3 Nicolas Isaac Montenegro ARG 5.0
4 Michael Ha CAN -72.7
5 Facundo Benitez Zipitria URY -23.2
6 Giselle Inés Panfil ARG -27.1
7 Arthur Murai de Oliveira BRA -78.7
8 Patricio Mariano Bruni ARG -87.5
9 Román Petrecca ARG 30.5
10 Lautaro Di Gregorio ARG 26.2
11 Matias Santiago Alloatti ARG 13.3
12 Adrian Matias Porta ARG 9.5
13 Jess S. Fogel ARG -0.7
14 Lucas Palermo ARG -1.6
15 Lucio Sardo ARG -7.1
16 Fernando Temes ARG -14.9
17 Marcelo Mecozzi ARG -23.0
18 Mauro Couto ARG -59.6
19 Felipe Rojas Vallejo CHL -66.6
20 Nicolas Pfleger ARG -90.6
21 Claudio Oscar Chavez ARG -91.7
22 Lucía Vigliano ARG -111.8
23 Adriel Galarza ARG -120.2
24 Matías Gómez ARG -195.4

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