It’s time for Konsta Lensu aka Iapetus from the Competitive Riichi Hub to answer some questions for us!
1. How did you start playing Riichi?
I learned about the Mahjong manga “Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku” in July 2010, started reading and was instantly hooked. I got my first Mahjong set a few months later, though I only played a few games with my family with it. Early 2011, I discovered the Saki manga/anime, and became a total Mahjong fanatic. After reading some Osamuko articles to get started, I began playing on Tenhou, and made it to 4d in about half a year before finding my first live Mahjong club.
2. What do you like the most about it?
I like it how you can become stronger by just piling up small improvements, bit by bit. I like how it never gets repetitive, as the random element keeps creating new scenarios every time.
3. How often do you play?
I play weekly at the local Mahjong club’s sessions, training for tournaments that use EMA rules. My online play has been fairly inconsistent as of late. I’m sorta disappointed in that, as it means I can’t grow strong as efficiently.
4. Online or live Mahjong – which one do you prefer and why?
I can’t really say. Live Mahjong gives the opportunity to banter with friends and enjoy the feeling of real tiles. On the other hand, online Mahjong lets me just focus fully on the game and play at maximum speed.
5. How do you practice/learn strategy & theory?
The best way to practice is to play. Last year, when I practiced for the WRC, I set a quota of at least 2 full Tenhou hanchans per day. Me and the other local WRC representatives also organized practice sessions so we could get used to the WRC rules. When it comes to theory, I mostly hang around at the Competitive Riichi Hub. I’ve read basically all of the English materials available, but there’s some Japanese books at our club I’ve been trying to read. With my poor kanji skills, that doesn’t help too much yet.
6. Favorite Yakuman?
Chuuren Poto. The impure form has tons of interesting shapes, and the pure form is sheer mathematical beauty. I’ve never gotten either, though.
7. Any tournament achievements?
I’ve won five Finland-only tournaments, the latest being the 2017 Finnish Championships. My best international result is winning Riichi Open Bratislava 2016.
8. Biggest Mahjong related dream?
That the scene would keep growing forever. That more and more clubs would pop up and flourish, that more and more tournaments would be held, and that the game would get more and more recognition. And ultimately, we’d have those “few hundred million” players. Winning the WRC and getting Tenhoui would be nice too.
9. Quick tip for Mahjong beginners?
For the absolute beginners: Tile efficiency and a basic grasp of defense is the most important, learning yaku is secondary.
For slightly better players: Point calculation is not something you do when the hand is over. It’s something you have to keep in mind all the time. Even in the early game it effects your decisions, and at the endgame it’s vital when aiming for placement.
Thank you, Iapetus!
May Yakuman be with you!