The success of the hit TV show Casino, has created interest in Mahjong throughout Asia. The show teaches you the basic game rules. You will be guided through the steps during real game play. The game is played, pitting the hosts against the guests. If any guest happens to win 5 continuous sets, they will receive a prize of 500,000 NT dollars.
The Much-TV show revitalized Mahjong and has made the game fashionable within Taiwanese communities. It is not unknown for Taiwanese families to invite their friends over for the weekend to play Mahjong, much like the poker home game in the US. In many family structures, the game has taken central spot in the social calendar. The online version of Mahjong can now be played at Mahjongtime.com
This year, the 2nd annual World Series of Mahjong will be held in Wynn Macau. It starts this Friday, 19th September 2008, and is scheduled to be completed on Sunday, 21st September. Currently, there are over 300 players registered, arriving from a wide range of countries including China, Taiwan, USA, Canada, UK, Japan and Australia. We have no clear favorite for the event. Mahjong is a game of skill and you can be assured of a fiercely competitive battle.
Last year, the first ever World Mahjong Series was won by Hong Kong born, Hui Chung-Lai. He took home a cool 4 million Hong Kong dollars, and was given the title “King of Mahjong” in his own country. Chung-Loi is no flash in the pan, he has over 50 years Mahjong game play under his belt. His regular playing partners and close friends regard him as a great teacher, and an authority on Mahjong.Last years runner up Lisa Lau Lai-fun collected 1.17 million Hong Kong dollars. As a child she watched how her parents played the game. Her observations skills have brought her a long way. Inspired by her parents, she developed a lifelong love affair with the game. This year, she will be joined with her son who is continuing the family tradition. Lisa is aiming to go one better this year after spending the past year analyzing the World Series of Mahjong Rules.
Another Hong Kong player Tse Chi-Chung will also be there. An accountant with 20 years Mahjong experience, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Accompanying him will be his playing partners and close friends. They have spent the past year sharpening up their skills and strategy, all geared towards this years event.
Several influential names have been officially invited to this 2nd annual event. These big names include Ross Lai, the Public Relations Association of Hong Kong Chairperson. He has 30 years experience playing Mahjong. He views Mahjong as one of Chinas greatest cultural assets. He has spent the last 25 years researching and analyzing Mahjong clubs in Hong Kong. His focus is on customer service and game development. He is deeply passionate about the game and admires other who have respect for it.
The founder of “Steela & Steelo” the Hong Kong accessory brand, Angelina Chan has also been invited along for the ride. She received the “Hong Kong Best Brand” award from Capital Magazine for developing unique stainless steel products using joyful childhood style colors. Her brand is recognized worldwide. She is no stranger to Mahjong with over 20 year’s game experience. She is competitive by nature and this has carried her far at the tables.
On the invite list is another Hong Kong player, Antony Chum. He is an architecture computer aid design consultant who has previous experience competing for his country in various events, including the “Hong Kong Mountain Bike Race”, the “Asia Miles Action Asia Challenge”, and the “Motorola Action Asia Hong Kong Off Road Triathlon Race”. He is used to international competitions and believes that background will provide an edge to his game. He has been studying the World Series Rules vigorously. His 10 years of game experience and mental toughness puts him in contention for this year’s title.
Canadian Jim Kwong, winner of the second-annual Mahjong Charity Open held in Canada’s River Rock Casino Resort has 30 years of Mahjong knowledge to take to the table. He has devoted his life to charity, a key figure at his local cancer-prevention associations’; he is responsible for a variety of different fundraising projects. Before migrating to Vancouver, he was a regular Mahjong player in Hong Kong. He is a little nervous about the 4 day event and hopes to find a little luck to carry him through to the title.
US born Jenn Barr, now based in Japan has been on the Mahjong scene for the past four years. She joined Japan’s Professional Mahjong League as a primary member and has now established herself as an authority in the game. Through her website ReachMahjong.com, she provides up to the minute news on Mahjong. She was a little disappointed with last years 114th place in the events. This year, she has been developing a deeper understanding of the game. She has made Mahjong part of her life and is employed as a rules consultant for the inaugural Riichi European Championship (EMA Riichi Rules).
Another Japanese based professional Mahjong player is Garth Nelson. He was born in the US but soon caught the Mahjong bug when he migrated to Japan 10 years ago. His favorite hand is the concealed triples. He has formed a close friendship with counterpart, Jenn Barr, joining the Japan Professional Mahjong League in the same year. Last year he broke through, climbing his way into the JPML Champions League Best 16 and finished with individual and team titles. This year Garth finished 7th in the Riichi European Championship. Many people will know Garth from Konami’s Mahjong Fight Club video game.
Australian Donald Wong began his Mahjong education at the tender age of 12. Introduced to the game by his grandmother, he competed with his cousins after school, gradually developing a multitude of skills and techniques. Donald considers Mahjong as a sport and is a strong believer in good sportsmanship; he still plays regularly with old school and workmates. He now has a network of competitive friends throughout Sydney.
Danish born Niels Hansen had a great run in last years event, finishing 6th, making it to the final day of the competition. He has lived in Asia for the past 30 years and currently works as a CEO of a top container terminal company. He first learned of Mahjong on his travels to Taiwan back in 1979. He is under no illusion over the difficulty of the task that lies ahead of him this year. He hopes lady luck will take a shining to him to take him beyond the strongest Mahjong field ever assembled.
UK based Manlee Wan has a Poker background. He has studied psychology, economics and poker probability from and early age, competing in several professional poker tournaments worldwide. His win rate at the poker tables is an impressive $230 per hour. He is taking a mathematical approach to Mahjong but is also using his vast knowledge of psychology to psyche out the opposition. He believes that poker and Mahjong are closely related and is expecting to place in the money at this years event.
Sung Ping of China has 10 years of playing experience, competing in district and international events. She has won multiple Chinese National Mahjong titles. She was headhunted in 2006 to be the spokesperson for a mahjong program at CCTV. Her knowledge of mahjong theory and live tournament experience is unquestionable. Her role was to share her game experience and answer questions on the game. She was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response from her TV viewers. Last year, she made it through to the last 32 of the event, proving herself as one of the true Mahjong masters, beating Taiwanese Star Nei Ge and finishing in a respectable 17th. She is looking forward to this year’s world event, meeting players from a multitude of backgrounds and pitting her wits against the best players the game has to offer.
Taiwan are represented by TV celebrities Pan Hui-Ru and Hsu Nai Lin (Nei Ge). Both are hosts in the ultra popular MUCH-TV show, Casino. They have a wealth of experience between them. Last year, Nei Ge finished 20th in the event, eventually losing to Sung Ping of China. This year expect to see firework’s if both players meet at the tables. Pan Hui-Ru is disappointed at missing last year’s event. She is from a famous Taiwan girls group. She is eagerly anticipating this year’s competition and can be considered a dark horse for the title.
Four other tough Taiwan stars are competing in this year’s event. They qualified their way to the tournament by defeating strong competition during MUCH-TV’s, World Series of Mahjong Taiwan Celebrity Game. They are bringing a little extra glamour to the tables. Hot female Mahjong stars Zhang Ben Yu and Kung Ming Jie will be in attendance, along with a familiar face and regular male lead in many popular TV dramas, Chen Guan Lin. Zhao Hong Gao a member of Taiwanese girl group, Seven Flowers, will also be there to prove her ability at the Mahjong tables.
One of Taiwan’s big guns Yu Xiao-Ping will be there, hoping to improve on her 3rd runners up spot. She is known as the “Taiwanese Mahjong Diva”, and had been the centre of media attention for the upcoming event. She was asked to be this years World Series of Mahjong spokesperson for Mahjong Taiwan Qualifying Tour. Her parents are Taiwanese Stars Li Ya-Ping and Yu Tian. She was taught to play Mahjong by her grandmother. This year will be a bit of a family affair. She, her mother and grandmother will be fighting it out at the tables. With three generations of Mahjong experience in the family, this year’s event is set to be an exciting one. Yu, will have in her possession two powerful traditional Chinese mythical creatures. She hopes these good luck charms will pave her way to glory at this weekend’s 2nd annual World Series of Mahjong Championships.
World Mahjong Limited launched the World Series of Mahjong in 2006. Players from all corners of the globe will be competing for the US $1.0 million first place prize purse, and a dream World Mahjong Title. Who will be this year’s winner? It’s so difficult to predict.