IORMC: Arthur McAnally, aka “Corak”

From: Baltimore, MD
Club: Baltimore Mahjong Club,
Favorite Tile:  “Hatsu. Aside from the fact that it’s not colored correctly in most sets, it comes at really convenient times. Plus, it tends to bait people into misusing it because they try to go for the all-green yakuman, occasionally.”

The North American Riichi Mahjong Association (NARMA) has completed qualifying rounds for the team representing USA in the International Online Riichi Mahjong Competition (IORMC) this November. Among those qualified — for the second consecutive year — is Arthur McAnally of Baltimore, MD.

Arthur has a background in poker with an interest in statistical analysis to inform decisions. However, he feels statistics in that game have peaked. After viewing some mahjong anime (specifically Saki and Akagi), Arthur shifted his attention to studying mahjong and became hooked on the game; his analytical background informing his play-style.

[W]hat you’re doing when you are trying to improve is not just figure out what you are doing, but also adjusting to what everyone else is. And the only way to do that on a large scale is with existing statistics

Arthur has played riichi on Tenhou for about five years (6 dan), and has also played consistently well in The Mahjong Guide’s Quick-fire tournaments. While gaining some amount of reputation online as “Corak”, Arthur had remained, until recently, relatively unknown elsewhere in the riichi community.

However, in early March, Arthur quietly dominated the 2018 Rochester Riichi Open from the first hanchan.

It was a little awkward while I was there because it was obvious nobody had any clue who I was, and I was near the top of the leader board from the end of round one.

That’s not to say that the experience was a breeze.

It was intimidating. I hadn’t played live that much simply because the club I’m in right now, we’d met a total of twice.

This was only Arthur’s third time playing at a live table, the first two occasions playing with the very recently formed Baltimore Mahjong Club.

I was building slow walls. Getting the blocks forward was tough. I didn’t know anyone there or the skill levels or anything. I think in my first game I made a bad chi. I was going for a 789 sanshoku and called the 7-pin and revealed my 89-sou. It’s a pretty good indication of where my mind was at that point.

Regarding his qualification for IORMC, Arthur noted this year was a lot harder due to “two people that jumped out in front…everyone was left competing for those last two slots.”

We asked what he thought the IORMC means for riichi mahjong.

It’s basically a fun, casual tournament with the idea to get as many people into the competition scene as possible. Long term, it probably isn’t nearly as important as the North American Open where we’re establishing a solid footing. A lot of how it [IORMC] will affect U.S. and other similar countries will largely come down to results. If we get a lot of interest in later rounds, I expect that will drive a lot more attention.

Arthur also plans to attend the North American Open this October. Riichi Reporter looks forward to following Arthur’s placement in the IORMC and the NAO.