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A New World Champion?

JulJulBy Martin Rep

SAN DIEGO, March 5th - The current world champion in mahjong is called Li Li - so it would not be a great change for everyone if the next would be called JulJul. A girl from the East Coast in the USA. She is now the absolute number 1 player in online tournaments, since she won the Open European Online Tournament last September, and also the next official online tournament, the Open Hungarian, last weekend.

Yet, she hardly touches a real mahjong tile anymore. She used to play with her family, but now that she is addicted to the 'New Mahjong', she cannot find any friends to build walls with and play the real game at a real table. Unlike in Europe, Mahjong Competition Rules are virtually unknown in the United States.

So, she plays online. At least two rounds a day a the Mahjong Time server. "Is that a lot?", she asks me. (Yes, I think it is!) And she is quite good. Winning in two hard online tournaments in a row, that is no 'small beer', as the Belgians say. Although JulJul says humbly: "I am shocked myself, they were both unexpected. I'd still give credit to luck."

First of all: JulJul is not her real name. That is just the name of her Mahjong Time-avatar. In real life, she is called Juliani Leo. She would love to find players to play the real game with, but so far no luck. She misses it: "I think 'live mahjong' is more fun as we make the wall and tiles are not computer-drawn."

Will we see her at the next European championship, in Austria? Or the World Championship 2010 in Holland maybe?
Juliani is planning to join the OEMC 2009 in Austria, and if all goes well, she will also play at the World Championship in Holland. " After I missed the tournaments in Denmark and Chengdu, I promised myself I have to make it to the next one, and there's still plenty of time to make plans for it."

Last question: how does she survive those long hours during the on line tournaments?

Juliani: "As I've always played mahjong online, I'm pretty used to sit and play for quite a long time. I had my chips/crackers/cookies and juice/coke ready before the tournament started :-) For me, having something to munch while playing really helped to calm the nerves."

By Martin Rep ,http://www.mahjongnews.com/
Monday, 5 March 2008
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