Krabman interviews… episode 12

Hej!

Tymczasowo wskrzeszamy sobie operację Osamuko. Dziś wywiad z jednym z najbardziej aktywnych członków szajki, a także jednym z najbardziej aktywnych, niejapońskich Kamieniarzy-rozkminiaczy w ogóle: xKime, czyli Nicolas Giaconia!

1. How did you start playing Mahjong?
I heard about this game from two of my friends. They didn’t invite me to play or anything, I just heard that they played a four player game called mahjong. One of them was Chinese, so she probably meant the Chinese version of the game. Then again, I didn’t know there were multiple rulings of the game back at the time. In fact, that was the first time I heard that the Taipei Solitaire tiles can be used for something other than visually hunting pairs and removing them from the board! I didn’t care enough to learn the game until much later, around September 2009, when I was browsing through an Anime Forum and noticed a mahjong-related post. The local Mahjong Club was looking for new members. I gave it a shot, and they took me in, taught me the basic rules (at the time not even they knew the rules very well, but they had the basic gist of it) and we spent the following weeks playing really long mahjong sessions. It was not unusual for us to meet up at 7 PM and play until 11 AM of the next day on weekends. Thinking back, those were some of the most gratifying times I had playing mahjong. They also introduced me to mahjong anime (they had all episode of Akagi in a DVD, and Saki was just airing live back then), the Game Design flash game to practice, and even told me where to get mahjong tiles. I couldn’t wait to get tiles back then, so while I was at home waiting for the next meetup, I played the Game Design flash game a lot. And I mean a lot. Eventually, thanks to a link in the Game Design website, I found Tenhou and I immediately fell in love with the game screen. The pinzu design was so beautiful, and the game moved so smoothly. Thus I started Tenhou and took notice of my stats and the fact you can look at your game logs, and that’s when I became more serious about my game.

2. What do you like the most about it?
When hands start coming together, I feel instant gratification. A completed hand satisfies my OCD right away. And you receive these rewards many times throughout a game. When I draw that 3 or 7 that completes a penchan, it makes me feel really good. Mahjong is like a drug. It gives you many small satisfactions that you have to keep playing to keep experiencing. Also, everyone I met in the mahjong community has been extremely kind to me; it makes me happy to be a part of that. Even today, though I may sometimes disagree or be rude to people, I consider all fellow mahjong players as my brothers and sisters. We can fight, disagree, argue or whatever, but at the end of the day if they need anything I’ll try to help them in any way I can, and so far they’ve done the same for me. I don’t know how other game communities are, but I found this with mahjong.

3. How often do you play?
I can’t go a single day without playing. I’ve downloaded Sega MJ on my cellphone (supports both, online and offline play) to play anywhere I go, I play many different mahjong servers on my computer (mainly Tenhou), and I also have mahjong cards and mini tiles for travelling. If I ever had to go without a way to play mahjong, I’d probably buy four decks of cards and improvise a mahjong set to play by myself. I cannot go a day without it. Even so, I don’t usually spam games; I take regular breaks and look at my game logs, look at games from better players and read mahjong books and blogs.

4. Online or live Mahjong – which one do you prefer and why?
It really depends. Technology is great, I can play with really strong people no matter where we are, and I can get a game going right away. Even while listening to music and just hanging around my house. But I love live mahjong as well, especially at parlors. There’s things that only online mahjong can give you (log reviewing, a good matchmaking system, convenience) but real life mahjong does help you get a lot stronger too, especially at picking up information from your opponents. At the time I don’t have too many chances to play offline, so if I’m offered to play a match online or to go somewhere to play live, I’ll choose live.

5. How do you practice?
I read mahjong theory from stronger people. Then I go and make a new account, and level it at least to Tenhou’s tokujou room (4 dan+). This allows me to practice new things with no risk at all, and since I’ll still win games in the lower rooms even if I make mistakes or learn something wrong, it encourages me not to stop. If I win, I feel good and want to play more games, which in turn helps me practice more. In the higher rooms, even if you play well you can still lose a few more games than normal due to variance, but if I start losing a lot of games in the lower rooms, then it means I’m definitely doing something wrong. Lately I’ve been thinking of doing practice drills, but playing is a lot more fun.

6. Favorite Yakuman?
Suu An Kou. It always looks beautiful.

7. Any tournament achievements?
Recently I’ve placed in the top 100 for the Suzuki Taro Cup in Sega MJ; I got +-0 in my last game, but if I had taken 1st place that game instead (or any positive score) I’d have managed to place in the top 50 which would’ve got me much better rewards. A few years ago, popular NicoNico broadcaster Ochaan (おちゃーん) used to host and stream a mahjong league on Janryumon with over 200 participants monthly and a first place prize of 2000 Yen. I made it to the final table for one of the seasons, and won; luckily I was also in Japan at the time, so I also was able to actually use those 2000 Yen. It’s not much, but it’s something! I don’t normally feature in any tournaments at all, instead concentrating on online rankings on different servers. I’m placed #3 on average hanchan placement in Maru-Jan for the year 2015 which isn’t that bad of an achievement. I’ve also some decent Speedrun Tenhou records, with 99 games (hanchan included) to 3d and recently on a new account 184 East Only games to Tokujou on an ippan start (remember that East Only gives fewer points than hanchan, and that I started from Ippan where 2nd place doesn’t get any points).

8. Your biggest Mahjong related dream?
It’s not exactly a great dream, but I just want to be able to live in Japan working at something mahjong-related. Most likely a part time job at some parlor. It’s extremely humble and perhaps even stupid, but if I could live just doing that, being surrounded by the sound of clattering mahjong tiles, I’d be more than happy.

9. Quick tip for Mahjong beginners?
If you have a talent for games, focus on another game; there’s very little to be gained from learning to play mahjong. But if you still love mahjong more than anything, then play every moment you can, but do it consciously. Play until you’re able to add an explanation to every discard you make. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, but at first it’s important that you have a clear reason for every discard you choose; then you can adjust and correct your reasoning as you improve.

Zdecydowanie jeden z najciekawszych wywiadów. Pasja xKime do Madziana wyziera z każdej linijki tekstu. Bardzo inspirujące słowa!

Yakumanów życzę!
Krabman


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