(Macau, June 18th 2007）
The three-day, first annual World Series of Mahjong, held at the Wynn Macau Resort, ended play at 12:30am in the early morning of June 18. A total of 265 mahjong players from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, U.S., U.K. and Denmark participated in the game this year. Although the finals finished past midnight, there were about thirty international and local media still present and waiting anxiously for the results. The championship went to Mr. Hui Chung-Lai, the Hong Kong player who has more than 50 years of experience in mahjong and scored the highest point total of 423.11 points. He received the golden mahjong medal and the US$500,000 check from the tournament spokesperson Mr. Philip Chan and CEO of World Mahjong Limited, Mr. John Hardyment. Another two Hong Kong players got the second runner-up and fourth runner-up, while the third runner-up went to the Taiwanese actress, Ms.Yu Chieh-Ping.
Tournament winner Mr. Hui Chung-Lai was exhilarated about winning the tournament, and contributed his success to his dedication to practice over the last 50 years. He didn’t think he had a chance at one point in the tournament when his ranking was lower than the second runner-up Ms. Lisa Lau. However, when it came to the last few rounds, he scored more than Lau and passed her point total to gain the championship. The 62 year-old Hui was a designer before his retirement and likes playing mahjong with his friends. After spending three full days on the mahjong tables, Hui was very exhausted when being interviewed by the media, but the joy on his face was still evident. Following the tournament, Hui is looking forward to a good rest followed by a vacation with his family.
On the other hand, the Taiwanese player Yu Chieh-Ping was extremely excited about winning. Although she did not win, she was proud of her achievement, since she was the only member from the “Taiwanese Star Team” to reach the finals. Ms. Li Yeh-Ping, Yu’s mother who is also a Taiwanese celebrity, had been around supporting her daughter although she herself did not enter the finals. The mother and daughter shared the joy of winning and Yu decided to give half of her prize money to her mother and half to her favorite charity.
During Day One of the tournament, the players were more relaxed in general and most of them talked freely about strategies with each other during breaks. However, starting on Day Two, the players has obviously become more serious and quiet, due to the fact that half of the players would be eliminated during each round and each of the thirty-two players entering Round Five would be entitled to a minimum prize of US$5,000. During both Day Two and Day Three, the game finished at nearly 12:30am the following morning, which was far beyond the anticipated finishing time of 10:00pm. On the last day of the tournament, there were Round Six, Round Seven and Finals, and the participating top sixteen players came from Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Macau and Denmark.
Danish player, and lone Westerner to reach the round of 16, Mr. Niels Torben Hansen had been a top player and media focus during Day Two, but he was defeated by three Hong Kong players during Round Six. He finished in sixth place and received a check for US$15,000.
Another hot player, the popular Taiwanese TV host Hsu Nai-Lin, was defeated by Sung Ping, champion of the 2006 Sino-Japanese Mahjong Tournament and representative of the Chinese Mahjong Competitive League, during the last game of Round Five. Consequently, Hsu could not enter Round Six and was awarded US$5,000 for his twentieth place.
The first annual World Series of Mahjong is owned and organized by World Mahjong Limited. The company was founded by a team of international media and entertainment professionals who are based in the Greater China region and are well-versed in the management of high-profile international sporting and entertainment events. The tournament will be held annually in Macau. The top four players from this year have received free invitations to participate in the 2008 tournament.