Last night, Alex Ho Kwok-hung of Hong Kong defeated an impressive field to win the 2nd World Series of Mahjong title. He outlasted the strongest ever assembled field of Mahjong players, to collect the first place prize of US$500,000 in Macau.
Hong Kong is a world force at Mahjong. Not only did Ho Kwon-Hung win the illustrious, tongue twister title of “King of Mahjong from Hong Kong”, his two countrymen filled the 2nd and 3rd place spots.
Mr. Ho Kwok-hung, the 34 year old financial adviser with AIA, used his analyst background to overcome his opponents in a fiercely fought final round, in the sweltering heat of Macau. He bravely battled off the challenges from his two countrymen, one the retired 58 year old, Tong Kam-wing, and the other Lam Ho-nam a 22 year old University of Hong Kong, history graduate. Also involved in the four way confrontation for the title was Japan’s Shigeru Aono, an entertainment industry researcher.
Ho Kwok-hung has 10 years experience playing Mahjong. The delight on his face was obvious. He explained that, not even in his wildest dreams did he think he could win against this world class field. Ho, has already made plans for his US$500,000 prize purse. A man with strong family ties, he vowed to offer his father enough money to retire from his job and pursue his own dream, possibly to build his own business or enter into the world of stock trading.
2nd placed Tong Kam-wing collected a cool US$150,000 for his efforts. His competent countryman Lam Ho-nam claimed US$80,000. The best non Hongkonger, Shigeru Aono of Japan collected a respectable US$50,000, for 4th spot.
Often, Mahjong is played within the family structure, it is seen as a social game. 2nd placer Tong Kam-wing had seven other family members playing in this spectacular event. His son Tong Kwan-ho, a 32 year old doctor completed the tournament in 28th place, and his niece Wong Ngai-yin ended in 31st. Both players finished in the money positions.
Ho Kwok-hung didn’t have it all his own way, Anno came out with all guns blazing and was leading during the first game of the final round. The following 16 hands saw lady luck shine on the eventual winner.
There are several different variations of Mahjong to choose from. Shigeru Aono said he found the Japanese version a little boring so he switched focus to Chinese Mahjong. The switch has brought him some great successes. He has produced some excellent performances, placing in many of the top events in mainland China.
The four players defeated a wealth of talent, 298 contestants appearing from 17 different countries and regions. They battled it out over 7 rounds, starting on Friday and ending last night.
Hongkongers have a powerful tradition in the game. They entered the biggest contingent of players, and filled the first three spots. The also dominated last years event filling four of the top five spots with another Hongkonger, Hui Chung-lai winning the first ever World Series of Mahjong title.
This is the world’s biggest live Mahjong event and offers the largest prize pool. You can learn to play Mahjong online at sites like Mahjongtime.com. Chris Moneymaker the poker player, won the WSOP main event in 2003, after qualifying in a $30 satellite at Pokerstars.com. He proved that building experience online can work when you move onto real live events. His poker win brought him a cool US$4million, and opened the floodgates for online poker players worldwide.
If you like Mahjong or are hoping to learn, there is no better place to pick the game up on the internet.