After a battle of 8 rounds, the 4th tournament of World Series of Mahjong concluded in Jeju, Korea on Nov. 14. Chinese players won the team title and Zhou Yong from east China's Yangzhou city won the individual title. Jiao Linghua, a female player from China's Shanxi province won the runner-up and the third place was taken by a French player.
Zhou Yong, 39, boss of private computer company in Yangzhou, east China's Jiangsu province, feels very excited to win the game, "Foreign players are slightly better in psychological quality, but not as good when it comes to control of detail. After all, we practice frequently and are a little more experienced," said Zhou.
The ancient game, thought to date to about 500BC, involves 144 tiles showing Chinese characters. It is massively popular in Hong Kong and the mainland. Different rules are used around the world, but organizer of World Mahjong Limited operates a standardized set of rules in international contests.
According to Zhou, the Chinese and Japanese were the only noteworthy teams before, as Mahjong originated in China and Japan also has a professional league playing at a very high level. However the European level has developed rapidly in recent years. The French, Danish and Russian players are strong opponents. Yong said that the European Mahjong players are generally senior intellectuals such as engineers or scientists.
At last year's 5th Open European Mahjong Championship in Strasbourg, France, among the 51 teams, China finished an embarrassing 37th while the top Chinese player, Yan Wenying, was ranked 30th. A Japanese player won the individual competition with a German player coming second. The result sparked somewhat of a fury among many Chinese, who wondered how foreigners could beat them at their national pastime — a game often synonymous with gambling in the modern age.