LAPOM Championship 2017

By Kira Nebilak on Feb 26th 2017 9:00am

The LAPOM Championship 2017 was held this last weekend from February 18th until 20th at the LAPOM dojo in Gardena, California. There were 28 attendees, mostly from LAPOM and PML, with a sprinkling of attendees from elsewhere. The tournament was organized by LAPOM with some help from PML. All of the mahjong tables were automatic, including two nearly brand new AMOS REXX.

The LAPOM dojo is the only public, kenkou (non betting and no smoking inside) jansou (mahjong parlor) that we're aware of in the United States, perhaps even on this side of the Pacific! The dojo occupies two office units: one houses the mahjong tables, the other is the club house and is for keeping track of records and relaxing. It's really quite a nice place to visit and the LAPOM staff are super friendly. The interior design is also rather cute. For more information including open hours and rules, please visit the LAPOM homepage.

Valentine's Day decorations are still up!

We left PML headquarters in Danville, CA in the early afternoon the Friday before the event. Weather was looking pretty dismal and the forecasters were saying it was going to be a big storm. Leaving early sounded like a good idea. Danville to Gardena is about 370 miles. It took us about 6 hours to get down there.

Danville to Gardena, CA.

Rough weather in the mountains, sirens going by as we make our way through.

We finally made it around 9:45pm after some slow traffic through the mountains. The other direction was terribly backed up so we were pretty fortunate to be driving southwards. We had a late dinner with LAPOM and went to bed.

The tournament room.

LAPOM hard at work preparing for the tournament before check-in.

Arriving around 9am, we settled in. There was quite a few last minute signups, so I got to work putting together the final player list and helped to sign people in as they arrived. Everything went pretty smoothly and we got to start the games on time.

The tournament was organized so that when players arrived, they would draw a tile. The tile correlated to a card that showed the table they would play at during each hanchan up until the semi-finals. LAPOM designed the placements this way to make sure that each player had about the same number of games on the AMOS REXX. Otherwise it was basically a round robin seating system.

Originally I was going to be playing in the tournament (LAPOM had been pushing for me to play during the weeks leading up to the tournament), but alas, it was not to be. Having gone from barely having enough players for 6 tables, we were now booked to capacity.

Aruto's kokushi musou, 1st hanchan.

Bichen holding on to Kotori during the 2nd hanchan.

The first couple of hanchan got off to a bit of a rocky start, at least from the staff's perspective. The humidity in the air was causing one of the older tables to act up. Staff had to ask the (very understanding!) players to wait in the club house a bit while they fixed the table. As it turned out, a hairdryer and some paper clips did the trick.

Meanwhile, tiles and pens were flying. Aruto-san from LAPOM scored an early kokushi musou. Staff were also fine tuning the best way to record hand information so that it could be put into the PML record keeping system.

The troublesome table is behaving.

Masa all dressed up recording the hands.

LAPOM is very serious about mahjong, so naturally even lunch break meant serious mahjong. Half of the players took a lunch break while the other half played their second hanchan. Staff didn't get much break so I ended up chowing down a bento box really fast during the second lunch period.

PML players placed very well during the first day, with Bichen, Mike, and Sylvain dominating the top 4 by the end of the 3rd hanchan. They maintained their positions through the 5th hanchan, which was the last of the day.

5th Hanchan Placements
1 Bichen Wang 859
2 Sylvain Royer 833
3 Masahiro Tsuruta 770
4 Mike Sudano 685
5 Teppei Noguchi 669
6 Anthony To 655
7 Terry Kurobe 544
8 Kenyu Hayashi 492

Tired and a little hungry, almost 20 attendees went across the street for dinner at the Korean BBQ place.

LAPOM super stars having some fun posing.

Rachel is very happy about dinner.

With good food, drink, and hopefully rest, day 2 began and the players assembled again at the LAPOM dojo for more mahjong.

The first hanchan started off with some early upsets as players jockeyed for a place in the semi-finals. This would be the last hanchan used to determine placements. Aruto snuck in to replace Terry as the 8th semi-finalist, and Teppei scored the top spot.

6th Hanchan Placements
1 Teppei Noguchi 992
2 Bichen Wang 936
3 Sylvain Royer 919
4 Anthony To 887
5 Kenyu Hayashi 762
6 Mike Sudano 748
7 Masahiro Tsuruta 720
8 Aruto Kurosaki 647

While the top placements didn't change much, a brutal surprise was in store for the semi-finalists as the seating was revealed: The predetermined arrangement of the players on the semi-final tables would essentially isolate PML from LAPOM players and turn them against each other!

On the first table: Teppei, Anthony, Kenyu, and Aruto. On the second: Bichen, Sylvain, Mike, and Tsuruta. Tsuruta scored a dora-dense kazoe-yakuman (scored as sanbaiman), and together with Bichen's 549 points effectively shut out Sylvain and Mike. Meanwhile on the LAPOM table, a fierce game of 13 smaller hands was played with Aruto and Anthony coming in the lead. That said, Aruto's lead this game wasn't enough to overcome Teppei's carry over score from the main bracket and he wasn't able to proceed to the finals.

Semi-Finals Results
東 Teppei N : 270 南 Anthony T : 417 西 Aruto K : 356 北 Kenyu H : 157
東 Sylvain R : 219 南 Mike S : -185 西 Masahiro T : 617 北 Bichen W : 549

After the second to last hanchan of the day, the main bracket players including the eliminated semi-finalists played out their final hanchan. The eliminated semi-finalists played together to determine the 5th through 8th placements, while the rest of the players fought for the 9th through 28th placements. The semi-finalists table players were placed only by their scores during the last hanchan, while the other players were placed based on their cumulative score.

Preparing the stage.

Testing the table.

After the main bracket played their last game, Ryan and the LAPOM staff went to work on setting up the stage for the final game. Through some elaborate planning the final game was streamed from the mahjong room into the club house on a big screen. The setup kind of worked, and the switching between hands as player's drew tiles was really cool. (Thanks Ryan!) We will work on some better ways to handle video capture in the future.

The final game was rather intense. All but one of the hands was pretty heavy hitting, interspersed with a few ryuukyoku. Teppei gained an early lead and grew it throughout the game.

Final Hanchan - Winning Hands
南3 - 1 Tsumo 5/- +93 Teppei
南1 - 2 Ron 1/40 +29 Teppei (from Tsuruta)
東4 - 0 Tsumo 4/20 +78 Teppei
東3 - 0 Tsumo 5/- +80 Anthony
東2 - 0 Tsumo 3/40 +62 Bichen
東1 - 0 Ron 4/25 +64 Teppei (from Bichen)

The game ended well under the time limit after 9 hands, Teppei victorious.

Finalist Hanchan Results
東 Anthony T : 280 南 Masahiro T : 221 西 Bichen W : 191 北 Teppei N : 498

The victor emerged from the dojo and the award ceremony began immediately. Teppei was awarded the LAPOM Championship trophy, and the rest of the players got to choose a prize from the table according to their final placement. The prizes were donated by Marchau and included such things as pens, DVDs, and tile cleaning towels. Tom Sloper from Sloperama joined us in the celebration too!

Gathered around for prizes! Tom Sloper standing and taking pictures.

The prizes. Lots from Marchao, one of the tournament sponsors!

Final Placements with Cumulitive Score
1 Teppei Noguchi 1260
2 Anthony To 1184
3 Masahiro Tsuruta 1058
4 Bichen Wang 976
5 Kenyu Hayashi 838
6 Mike Sudano 200
7 Sylvain Royer 718
8 Aruto Kurosaki 367
9 Terry Kurobe 790
10 Shigeko Tsuruta 639
11 Joey Vuyou 550
12 Wolfram Poh 340
13 Tom Riedel 196
14 Ruriko Duer 126
15 Shuji Komai -15
16 Yutaka Taketa -159
17 Rachel Halperin -203
18 Lawrence Liem -207
19 Daniel Pascua -314
20 Nicholas Vachon -467
21 Kenta Kitada -489
22 Chizu Ookawa -632
23 Takashi Masui -697
24 Jason Han -718
25 Akihiro Iwasaki -995
26 Kazuki Tada -1243
27 Yohei Fujimoto -1432
28 Koichi Tanaka -2131

After the tournament was over we all had dinner at a conveyor belt sushi place called Gatten. It was good fun but fortunately didn't go too late. By 10pm it was bed time. As staff I wasn't able to play a single game all weekend so of course I was looking forward to finally play some mahjong on the last day of the event, which had been set aside as a free play day.

The staff finally get some games in.

A pretty view coming down the mountain.

Another storm approaching and the afternoon quickly passing by, we left and started the long drive back to the Bay Area. The hills were rather pretty leaving the Grapevine, but otherwise the trip was quite tedious and probably a little dangerous in the evening with the storm roaring about.

Overall I felt the LAPOM Championship 2017 was a great success! Really special thanks to the hardworking LAPOM staff (Masa, Kenji, Junko, Omi, Shisho) and PML SoCal's Ryan! It was also nice to finely meet some of the SoCal players that I hadn't met yet, and also play with them on Monday! To all the tournament players and staff, I hope we can met again and play more mahjong one day!

For more information on this event, please consider checking out these other pages:

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