Sunday, March 09, 2008

Online MCR Tournaments

With my MCR (Mahjong Competition Rules) group failing miserably to play regularly (or rather, it is really half-dead), my thoughts turn to whether online play would be a more sustainable way of playing MCR mahjong in a place like Singapore where it is really difficult to find interested players (whether for casual fun or for competition).

There are several online mahjong servers, but few offer MCR, most notably Mahjong Time. Mahjong Time has teamed up with the European Mahjong Association (EMA) to offer online tournaments, such as the Open European Mahjong Championship–Online (OEMC-Online) and several national online championships such as the recent Online Hungarian Mahjong Championship (OHMC). Incidentally, Mahjong Time is also teaming up with World Mahjong Limited to bring the US$1,000,000 World Series of Mahjong (WSoM) online, offering the Zung Jung ruleset to online players and organising some online qualifying events for the finals in Macau in September this year.

Online mahjong may not have the atmosphere and authentic feel that some mahjong players like, but it does offer the convenience of playing whenever one feels like playing, without having to find three other players for a game. Moreover, it offers the intrepid mahjong player a chance to play variants not usually played with friends. It is thus the case with MCR mahjong. In Singapore, it is not a common variant, with most Singaporeans playing Singapore Style, or less commonly, Hong Kong Old Style, Taiwanese mahjong, or Malaysian mahjong. Since MCR mahjong has so many patterns to learn, it is also daunting for beginners. It would come as no surprise that the take-up rate is probably quite low. Online mahjong may perhaps then offer interested players a chance to learn, play, and advance in skill, variants not common in their home regions.

As I looked at the recent reports on OHMC [1], I was surprised to find ranked third in the tournament, a Singaporean player! No doubt, there are Singaporean players interested in playing MCR mahjong. However, since it would be difficult to find like-minded players to play face-to-face/offline games, online mahjong is a solution. This is probably the same for fans of other mahjong variants, most notably riichi maajan. There are at least two well-known Japanese servers providing quality online riichi maajan: Ron2 and Tenhou.

Singaporeans are not the only ones not able to find opponents and friends to play in face-to-face environments. The winner of OHMC, JulJul (her online moniker), also could not find friends to play 'real' games with her, and she had to turn to the Internet, since MCR mahjong is not commonly played in the United States. One participant of OHMC is from India, a country where mahjong is probably not very common either, much less the MCR variant!

Considering this, I am most tempted to give Mahjong Time a try, especially with regard to the online tournaments! If I am not able to compete in real offline tournaments, at least I could try competing in online ones. The pioneering success of my Singaporean compatriot is certainly inspiring!

1. Mahjong News had a brief report on the results of the online tournament, as well as an interview with the OHMC champion. The Online Ranking System (MORSE) on the same website revealed the nationalities of the participants of the online tournaments organised so far.


eNoVee said...

oh hi, i do play MCR in singapore. And has a group of friends who are playing with me regularly. maybe we can know each other and play casually

Anonymous said...


I'm looking for riichi players in singapore to play with. Only just picked up the game. Anyone please leave a follow up comment and i'll check back here again later thanks!

EP said...

This is probably not the best place to look for riichi players! Perhaps you can try Yakitori Online.

I moderate the comments to keep comments to my posts relevant, and to allow readers/enthusiasts to leave their email addresses for private correspondence. However, I do not want to become a message centre for players looking for other players.

That aside, it seems to me that not many people in Singapore actually play riichi mahjong. While riichi is probably not so alien to Singaporean players, being found as arcade, console and computer games, I believe not many players actually play it live and face-to-face.

n'Drea said...

Hi, I'm actually looking for rules and regulations of Singapore Style Mahjong. Because I am interested to hold a mahjong competition. Not sure if this is legal though, perhaps you can advise? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It has been a yr since last article, are you still playing COMJ or gone back to SG style?

EP said...

Apologies to Anonymous for publishing your comment so late, and for my very late reply.

I still play COMJ/MCR, or at least, I try to. My playing group for COMJ/MCR has been rather inactive partly because my players have been busy and I myself have been very preoccupied with work and studies.

In fact, for a while, because my regular group was inactive, I got myself an account with MahjongTime to play online with players from around the world. This indeed solved the problem of finding other enthusiasts for a game of COMJ/MCR, but sadly work took a higher priority.

Besides COMJ/MCR, I also do still play Singapore Style mahjong (my local variant) with several groups of friends. I am indeed more likely to play this style because of its popularity. Although I would prefer to play COMJ/MCR more often, any good mahjong game is better than none, regardless of style!

EP said...

n'Drea, I apologise for not replying your comment earlier, as I have been really, really busy with my work; general life outside mahjong is indeed a higher priority!

As far as I know, there is no 'official' set of rules and regulations for Singapore Style mahjong. It is unlikely as there is no national association for mahjong (Singapore Style or otherwise) in Singapore. I know that some recreational clubs and associations do hold mahjong tournaments occasionally, so perhaps you can find and contact such clubs to enquire about such rules and regulations.

I do find your query a most interesting thing to think about, and perhaps I will do a post in the near future when I find the time! I am sorry that I am not able to help you conclusively with your query though.