Riichi in 2020: What To Look For
As we sluggishly crawl out of the holiday season (the Lunar New Year is still around the corner), the news has also been a bit slow. No doubt you are all still shuffling tiles and passing tembo though. But there’s a lot of riichi in 2020 to look forward to.
WRC 2020: Vienna
Obviously this is the marquee event for this year—the international tournament courting the best players from around the world. Updates are rolling out and RR is publishing as soon as they are available. Player lists are not yet finalized (except for maybe Japan) so expect maybe as soon as the EMA updates its rankings.
That should put the last of the BIG blocks of information in place, although I don’t think anyone can actually book discounted rooms at the InterContinental just yet, but I’m told that the booking link is forthcoming. After that I expect a steady stream of updates regarding the schedules, events, and (hopefully) workshops.
WRC Rules Update
We didn’t see an official rules update in 2017 prior to the Las Vegas tournament. Instead, a supplemental document sought to address frequently asked questions and provide some clarification on the existing rules. This year I expect to see a complete rules update prior to the Vienna tournament that incorporates the supplement, as well as feedback from the public.
New Book from ReachMahjong.com
While we’re looking at trends that surround the WRC, should we expect to see another book published from the ReachMahjong.com team? Immediately prior to the inaugural 2014 WRC, Jenn and Garthe published the Riichi Mahjong Study Book. You know…the one without a clever name. At the 2017 tournament, Jenn was promoting the recently released Riichi Mahjong Prospective, and it was not unusual to see players doing their best to collect autographs from pros that had contributed to the book who were also in attendance.
A source close to ReachMahjong.com has leaked to Riichi Reporter that a new book is slated for 2020, and I would not be shocked if it made its debut in Vienna.
North American Open
The 2018 NAO was the first national tournament organized by NARMA and the USPML. It is my understanding that, if NARMA seeks to make this a regular event, the next one will come in 2021 setting a 3 year cycle similar to that of the WRC. Keeping with that trend, we should see announcements coming in 2020 regarding the host organization which should also tell us where it will be held.
Japan’s M.League is on the back half of the second season, running four days per week. We’ll know early March which teams will play the finals later that month. (Attention M.League! Updated team scores and rankings posted to the official site would be an appreciated feature.)
Australia has made a strong show this last year. I would expect to see more from the ARMA in 2020, accompanied by their usual bravado!
I’ve reached out (last minute of course) for any details they might have on plans for 2020, but given differences in time zones and the more pressing issues in Australia at the moment, ARMA hasn’t responded. I’ll update when they do.
Masters of Mahjong
It’s been a little while since we heard anything regarding the Masters of Mahjong documentary! WRC and other events happening around the world should help draw more interest towards production and push it closer to completion
…In other areas
The Open European Mahjong Championship (MCR) is appearing in Spain this year, but public details are sparse.
That logo is nice though!
National Mah Jongg League cards will be arriving in the spring. Michele Frizzell of Mahjong Central offered us a hot take on what she thinks might be expected on the new American cards this year given the repetitive digits in “2020”.
When I get the new National Mah Jongg League card, I do an analysis of the hands. Last year was challenging because of the predominance of 5s. There were also pungs and kongs of Flowers. 2018 had a similar challenge with Flowers because there were several hands with 2 pungs of Flowers. This year, players are especially curious about the Year category. The committee most likely reviewed the 2002 card as inspiration.
We can expect Mahjong Central to do an analysis of the card on her YouTube channel, followed a couple of weeks later by a live stream discussing her findings and talk about how players can transition smoothly to the hands.
What are you looking forward to in 2020? Leave a comment!