What’s up people!
Today my guest is Rosti (Chris Rowe) from Competitive Riichi Hub on Discord!
1. How did you start playing Riichi?
When I was probably like 11 or 12 I got one of those CD-ROMs with a bunch of games on, and one of them was Mahjong: Game of Four Winds. It’s Chinese rules, not riichi, but I played it quite a lot and even bought a set and convinced my family to play occasionally. Then around 10 years or so ago, I watched Akagi, and noticed that the game was slightly different to the mahjong I was used to playing, so I looked into it a bit more and discovered riichi. From there I got onto Tenhou and set up a club at Cambridge University to play it more often. I stopped playing it for a few years and then recently picked it back up again because the UK Open was in the city I live in.
2. What do you like the most about it?
There’s such a phenomenal amount of depth and complexity to it. Since I started playing again a couple of years ago, I’ve been training and studying pretty hard and I feel like I’m still so far from the top players – even now I’ll read articles and learn new aspects of strategy. There’s so much strategy to learn, and it’s a game that rewards you for putting in the hard work and improving your own play.
3. How often do you play?
Live tiles I tend to play once a month at the Jankenron club in London. Online I usually play every day or two, and typically get around 40-50 hanchan in a month.
4. Online or live Mahjong – which one do you prefer and why?
Probably live mahjong – when the games aren’t that serious then it’s good fun and I enjoy the camaraderie at the table. When the games are serious then with live tiles it’s a really intense way of playing, and I find things like riichi contests get my heart racing a lot more than when I’m just playing online. I do like the convenience of online mahjong though, and I think in general it’s better for training – you can get a lot more games in, and you can go back and review your decisions and mistakes in a way that’s not usually possible with live tiles.
5. How do you practice/learn strategy & theory?
I try and read books and articles and implement what they say into my own play. It can be difficult bceause there’s so much going on, and I usually find I have to read through things multiple times before I’ve properly absorbed what it says – I’m probably on my fifth or six read through of Daina’s Riichi Book I. If I’m playing on Tenhou, then I’ll usually have a notepad in front of me so I can write down points that I want to go back and review later. I find it’s really helpful to be able to look at problems with no time pressure and work out what the right choice would be, or ask stronger players about it. I’d say I owe a lot of my own progress to the 6d+ players on the Competitive Riichi Hub Discord server for being able to talk through tough decisions and get their advice.
6. Favorite Yakuman?
Probably Daisangen, because it was the first yakuman I ever got.
7. Any tournament achievements?
I’ve not played in that many tournaments – a couple of EMA ones and some online tournaments. I’ve fairly consistently finished in the top half in the tournaments I’ve played in, though unless you count the online quick-fire tournaments I’ve yet to win any (yet?!). A tournament win would be nice but I’d say that I probably value Tenhou progress above one or two-day tournaments.
8. Biggest Mahjong related dream?
If I could make the cut at WRC then I’d be ecstatic. I’d say getting to the Houou lobby in Tenhou would be my main goal. I’d also like to see the western scene grow and for us to start getting more players up in to the 6dan range and above. When I first started playing, good mahjong strategy articles were hard to come by unless you could read Japanese – I think that’s starting to change and hopefully it’ll have a big impact on the average skill in Europe and America.
9. Quick tip for Mahjong beginners?
Don’t worry too much about the results when improving – there’s a lot of luck in mahjong. Try and stick to what books and articles tell you, and if it doesn’t pay off for you in one hand, trust that it probably will do the next time. But mostly just have fun; there’s no point playing if you don’t enjoy it. Also check out https://mahjong.guide/
May Yakuman be with you!