Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Drama in the Mahjong Time–EMA Saga

The whole Mahjong Time saga is turning out to be quite dramatic. In a report that was deleted just hours after being published by Mahjong News, the two main actors in this little turbulent episode, President of Mahjong Time, Slava Novozhenya, and President of the European Mahjong Association (EMA) and the Dutch Mahjong Association, Robert Rijnders, claimed that the breakdown in communication between the two presidents because of unhappiness over inappropriate responses (to work proposals and correspondence) led to the unfortunate cancellation of partnerships between Mahjong Time and the EMA. It was earlier speculated that Mahjong Time may be in some form of trouble, perhaps financial (see Mahjong News' earlier report). But Mr. Novozhenya insists that Mahjong Time is not having financial problems in an official response (see Comment 8 under the Mahjong News' article MahjongTime does a lot more than just making money). The original report was deleted for reasons explained in a replacement article.

Well, it does seem that this saga may just be a small hiccup for the developing international mahjong scene. If what Mr. Novozhenya says is true, then perhaps international online tournaments for MCR will continue. With the bad blood between Mahjong Time and EMA now, however, there will be some uncertainty with regard to the status of tournaments being hosted by Mahjong Time, the only online mahjong platform suitable for tournament play.

For now, there is an unofficial European ranking for online tournaments, following the successful alternative German Mahjong Open that was organised in place of the official one cancelled by Mahjong Time "for technical reasons". An emerging view is that such do-it-yourself tournaments may be the way to go, but these are only possible on gaming platforms that have features that allow for DIY tournaments, which is apparently only Mahjong Time, ironically.

It does seem that we still have to adopt a wait-and-see approach for now, to see how all the various parties resolve these problems. It could be that there will be no more proper online tournaments; or if there will still be such tournaments, they may be hosted by other platforms (for example, the new Mahjong Logic), or they may be small-scale and organised with sanction and without technical assistance from a host gaming platform, such as the just-concluded alternative German Mahjong Open was.

[Editor: Updated at 03:30, 11th November 2009]


Anonymous said...

Have you tried tournament format?

EP said...

No, I have not. is a Chinese-language website and I am not particularly skilled in navigating websites in Chinese as my skill in Chinese is really quite poor. I doubt most of the European and American players can either. So, even if I play on this website, I would not get to play with most of the European players who are also active on the live tournament circuit, which is not the case for Mahjong Time where there is a strong European presence.

Part of the attraction of MCR is that it is meant to be an official ruleset for international play, so participation of players from countries outside China is important and English is crucial to allowing this participation.

So, while may indeed be a mahjong platform with MCR as the ruleset, it does seem to be geared towards a Chinese-speaking audience only, and players who do not speak/read Chinese would not be so keen to try this alternative.