Last weekend, sixteen players gathered in Grapevine, Texas for two days of competitive riichi mahjong. Many were local to Dallas/Fort Worth, but half traveled from the far corners of the United States to attend. Eight hanchan were played over those two days at the Grapevine Convention Center. Six pre-seated hanchan after which all scores were halved prior to the 7th hanchan semi-final locking the top 8 into an upper bracket. Following that, the top 8 were broken into an first and secondary bracket for the final hanchan.
Day one saw a couple of players, James Bragg (CO) and Ryan Adams (FL), distinguish themselves early by recording some large points that carried them into the final cut. Daniel Moreno (CA) started modestly, but was the only player to record consistently positive points throughout the entire tournament granting him a seat at the final table as
well. Tina Koshimoto (TX) started the first day with negative points in hanchan 1 and 2, but made a huge hit in hanchan 3 with a kokushi muso (Thirteen Orphans) yakuman off of another player who was already stuck in noten riichi, saving him from the chombo but doing more damage to his score sinking it well into negative. On day two she recorded much stronger hanchan which landed her on the top table as well. In hanchan 6 played on day two, Scott Clark (TX) and Peter Burgos (TX), seated at different tables but both of whom were ranging in the upper end of the bottom bracket, each scored dealer yakuman hands with su anko (Four Concealed Pons) and shot into the upper bracket before the cutoff at hanchan 7.
In a tense final round Tina Koshimoto, currently placing 3rd, won the tournament in South 4, passing 2nd place James Bragg and covering the 20 points needed to unseat Daniel Moreno who ranked first after hanchan 7. Tina’s victory qualifies her for play in the upcoming World Riichi Championship taking place in Las Vegas this October.
The biggest and most disappointing fall in the semi-finals came from Eric Nguyen (TX). Although he made the top eight cut for round 7, he was caught in noten riichi which converted to a chombo and further lost enough points to take his table score negative from which he never recovered. Eric scored 8th due to the tournament’s locked bracket format.