Northwestern 2019 Spring Open

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

I'm Mitchell Smith, a second-year Computer Science major at Northwestern University. I am also the President of the newly formed NU Riichi Mahjong Club. We're a small group of only a handful of students, but last weekend we organized our first tournament here on campus to great success!

To begin, we reserved an event space on campus dubbed the "Great Room," with old stain glass windows and a very authentic vintage feel. Definitely the first time this venue's been used for mahjong, that's for sure!

17 people participated in our tournament, coming from all across the greater Chicago area, some even coming from as far as Michigan. Our own members participated in the tournament, battling it out against some of the best mahjong talent the Windy City has to offer. From start to finish, the tournament lasted 10 hours, and some of those who stuck around for the final hanchan were even caught napping! It was a fun day of mahjong busts and booms all around, and a great way for us to involve the local community here at Northwestern.

A special congratulations to Steve, who came out on top in the final game, taking first place. He won the mini-tile set, graciously provided by Masahiro and LAPOM. First through fourth place participants also received Starbucks giftcards from our club.

Me (right) presenting the mini-tile set to Steve (left).

To get into the nitty-gritty for those interested, the tournament consisted of 5 hanchans, with each participant playing 4 of those hanchans. Out of these hanchans, the top 4 scoring players played a final game, no time limit, winner takes all.

In regards to the initial table arrangement, I ran computer simulations to minimize the number of times players play each other, as well as to account for a varying number of participants. Essentially, if there is a multiple of 4 participants (16, 20, etc), then the tournament can run like most, with no one sitting out. But if there is not a multiple of 4 participants (15, 17, etc.), then a certain number of people sit out each hanchan and play their last hanchan in the 5th time slot. In the case of our tournament, with 17 players, only 1 person had to sit out each hanchan. While this approach is definitely not perfect, it did allow us to adapt the table arrangements for however many participants actually showed up the day of. And it also eliminated the need for us to have substitutes on standby, which was an issue because our club is so small.

Follow this link to view the scoretable from our tournament and see how everyone did. If you would like to view our unique approach to table arrangements, please click the second sheet titled "Tables."

And that's all, folks! We definitely hope to do this agian next year. Special thanks to LAPOM for their support as well as Chicago Area Mahjong.

Please feel free to reach out to me anytime if you are interested in spreading riichi mahjong to other NA colleges or if you have any questions about our activities at Northwestern. You can find me on our FB group.

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