Thumbs up! The best mahjong players of the world: John O'Connor (US, left, 2nd place), Mai Hatsune (Japan, m, World Champion) and Yuuchi Ikeya (Japan, 3rd place).

TOKYO - Mahjong has a World Champion - and she's a lady. Mai Hatsune from Japan today has won the first World Championship in Mahjong. The second place was for John O'Connor, 22, an American actor, living in Japan, and on number three another Japanese success: Yuuchi Ikeya.

Betsie Daanen of Holland on number 20 was the first ‘foreign’ (Western) player, since the second American player - he landed just before her on number 19 - was also a Japanese American: Shinnioni Tokuda. The best team was the Young Pros Team B from Japan.

One hundred players have participated in the first World Championship in Mahjong. The most of them (44) from Japan, the country that hosted the event. Then there were players from the People's Republic of China (28), the USA (12), Taiwan. East Asia and Holland (all 4 players), Russia and Sweden (both 2). There was an individual competition and a group competition. For the latter, the results of the individual players were added.

In the Tokyo Grand Palace Hotel the tournament was considered a great success, in spite of poor media coverage. During the official dinner after the tournament, deputations of all participating countries said the World Championship in Mahjong should become a yearly or a biennal event, to be held always at the same time of the year. Several countries, esp. from Asia, put themselves forward to host this next event. But Mr. Kyoichiro Noguchi, chairman of the board of directors of the Mahjong Museum and one of the driving forces of the WCMJ, said that first much work has to be done, the most important of which is the institution of an international committee to organize the WCMJ.
The American National Mahjongg League (NMJL) was nominated by Martin Rep of the Dutch team to organize the event. But according to NMJL's president Ms. Ruth Unger this cannot be done until the WCMJ has become an well-known institution.


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