This is the first ever blog post not written by me. I contacted Benjamin Boas a while ago and asked him for some info on GPC. Benjamin indeed provided some info which to me was enough to make a separate article! Here it goes….
The Good Players Club
The Good Players Club was founded by Masayuki Katayama and Hirokazu Baba in 2009 with the aim of improving mahjong’s image through well-mannered (but still relatively high level) play. Its members consist of players with ties to the mahjong industry with no “pro” affiliation, such as manga writers and voice actors.
Katayama is the most well known mahjong-manga writer in Japan and I suppose the world. He does all his own mahjong scenes by himself, which is a rare feat.
Hirokazu Baba is probably the Japan mahjong world’s best known commentator. He’s the inventor of the “what would you discard” problem.
Other high profile members include Nobuyuki Fukumoto, the author of Akagi and Kaiji, and Ryan Morris, the first American to become heavily involved in the Japanese mahjong world.
There are multiple leagues within the GPC with at least one for all of Japan’s major 4 regions. I’m not sure of the total number of players but it’s certainly in the hundreds. All the people I mention above play in the Kanto Celebrities league, which used to be the only league back in 2009 before GPC got big. I got the top score that league, which I suppose is what qualifies me to be a “celebrity.”
Incidentally Ryan Morris won the 2nd years league *and* the 3rd.
We play monthly matches and players compete to win the league. If you place high enough, you also qualify to enter the annual “Grand Championship” where the top 8 players from each national league compete to be the unified champion.
Players are generally quite good but the emphasis is on good manners. You’re supposed to be polite, respect your opponents, and play in a cheerful mood.
Things we’ve emphasized in the past have included efficient score payments. For example, if you need to pay 3900 you could pay with 3 thousand point sticks, 1 five-hundred point stick, and 4 hundred-point sticks. That’s 8 sticks total. You could also pay with 1 five-thousand point stick and receive 1 thousand point stick and 1 hundred point stick as change. That’s 3 sticks total, which means it’s easier to calculate and faster to settle.
Enforcement of that sort of thing isn’t particularly strict though. New people join the league every year (I assume through introduction) and some of them are beginners who can’t calculate that quickly. Everyone takes it in stride. The most important thing is for the game to be enjoyable for everyone.
If you’re familiar with the history of Japanese mahjong in parlors, you might notice that this contrasts from how play in some parlors can be. Some parlors have players that aren’t always so nice. This tends to hurt the game’s image as a whole and makes it harder for new people to learn. Katayama and Baba wanted to improve the image and get more people to think of Mahjong as an enjoyable game that anyone, beginner or otherwise, can have fun with. Hence the reason they started the league.
For those interested:
More articles from Benjamin may pop up in the future so stay tuned!
May Yakuman be with you!