The 2nd Vancouver Riichi Open was played earlier this month with 28 players from the University of British Columbia, Seattle (SRMC) and California (PML) represented.
Day 1 was filled with wild swings, the biggest highlighted by UBC player Celeste who started off with a huge win of 61.6 points (which wound up being the largest single round score posted), but then went last with -48.8, another first for 26.6 points and rounded off the day with a 2nd place and 3.6 points. All in all, good for 43 points and a 7th place standing.
5 of the top 8 were occupied by players from Seattle, with Shane Rideout using 2 strong first place finishes early and coasted to a 3rd place standing and 69.3 points. Daniel Moreno from the Pacific Mahjong League put in 4 solid performances, finishing in the top half each hanchan for 71.4 points.
Leading the pack however was UBC president Casper Tsai who played very solid throughout Day 1, yours truly playing against both Daniel and Casper on the same table almost ekeing out a 2nd place finish until getting directly hit on a riichi-ippatsu-tanyao-chitoitsu to send me into 3rd. But back to Casper, his aggressive, but intuitive defensive style of play gave him the advantage and the Day 1 lead of 21.9 points over Daniel.
Despite the fact the top 2 had broken away, there was still all to play for as 7 players were within 30 points of 8th. And that came into play as the tiles were not kind to many in the top 8. 3 players would finish third in their penultimate hanchan and 2 would finish last. Casper even could not avoid the bloodbath finishing in third himself. But one more huge 1st place finish meant that he still topped the standings, despite Daniel putting in 2 firsts of his own.
2 players who survived the battering were the aformentioned Shane Rideout who despite finishing 3rd twice, did not suffer huge losses and slipped into the playoffs in 3rd place. Kinyan Lui (SRMC) who had been sitting in 5th was knocked out the cut after round 5 and a last place finish, but slid into the final spot after finishing 2nd in her last hanchan. It really was good fortune though as Sylvain Royer (PML) had used a huge first place finish to move into the top 8 only to fall at the hands of his "teammate" Daniel and finish just 4 points off the final spot.
The biggest winner was Anne Qu (UBC) who fell behind early with a score of -47 after 2 rounds, but 3 large firsts and a second later moved all the way to 6th and in the playoffs.
In the playoffs there would be some rematches. One of which was notable in that on the drive back to Seattle, while all of us were flat out impressed with Casper's play throughout the tournament, David Li (SRMC) would mention that it was Casper who was impressed with David's play as David had given Casper his only third during the qualifying rounds, and then in the rematch in the semifinal had a commanding first. It would not be the last one however, as Casper would still finish in second setting up one final rematch between the duo. They moved on at the expense of Celeste who had one of her swings at the wrong time, and Kinyan who just couldn't get anything started.
While the first semifinal was pretty clearcut, the other semifinal was a close game throughout, but Shane Rideout would prevail with Daniel Moreno holding on against Pacific Mahjong Open winner Charles McDonell to move on to the final. And with the top 2 winning bids, there would be all to play for.
And with everything at stake, the game was played very close to the vest and the scores barely budged for the most part. However, in all last, David as dealer would hit Daniel hard catapulting him into 2nd place just 200 points behind Casper.
- Casper Tsai - 34000
- David Li - 33800
- Shane Rideout - 30600
- Daniel Moreno - 21600
Now, as far as everyone at the table was concerned, it was known that Casper would not be accepting the invitation, so at the time Daniel was the odd man out. But as Daniel is apt to do, he finds a way in the final hand, hitting a haneman against Shane Rideout, and he immediately exclaimed what we would eventually find out. A haneman plus the bonus was 12300, making the standings the following:
- Casper Tsai - 34000
- Daniel Moreno - 33900
- David Li - 33800
- Shane Rideout - 9300
Just 200 points separated the top 3 players!
And so to the table it seemed that Daniel and David would be the 2 representatives to go to the WRC. But that's when Daniel finally mentioned he already had a sponsor's exemption, so in the end it didn't matter. That meant that David Li and Shane Rideout have earned a seat for the World Riichi Championships! Congratulations!
Full standings can be found here (link).