This month, Mahjong Time is spotlighting the Russian player VItaly Novikov (username: ComboRus). Vitaliy has been playing at Mahjong Time for over 3 years, earning a brown belt - one black stripe in MCR and a green belt - one brown stripe in RCR. Vitaly currently ranks 16th in the Mahjong Time community MCR ratings! In addition to his great Mahjong skill, Vitaly is also a skilled writer! His series, Sherlock Holmes Mahjong Mysteries is a clever and compelling take on Mahjong through the lens of the mystery genre. His weekly interactive stories captivate and entertain readers by presenting interesting and truly challenging Mahjong puzzles, with solutions offering rescue to those stumped from the week before. Mahjogn Time got the chance to ask Vitaly some questions:
Q: How did you originally discover multiplayer Mahjong?
A: I was always interested in games, especially exotic ones, their rules, strategies. Once I have read an article about games in Japan. I found riichi rules, that was back in 2003.
Q: How often do you play online?
A: I play several times per week. I can spend an hour or more close to midnight.
Q: How long have you played at Mahjong Time?
A: I found Mahjong Time in August 2008.
Q: What do you like the most about Mahjong Time?
A: I like interface, its 3D-view as opposed to "flat" 2D at other servers. In general it is very user-friendly. And, of cause, I can meet a lot of players both foreign and from Russia. Russia is not as compact country like many European ones. For some Russian players Mahjong Time offers opportunity to play Mahjong and to play with Russians.
Q: Tell us more about yourself! What would other Mahjong Time players be surprised to know about you?
A: Now it is not surprise already. I am a creator of the Sherlock Holmes Mahjong Mysteries, which soon will start again in the Independent Internet Mahjong Newspaper (Mahjong News). I have started this series more than two years ago. There are more than 50 items written and posted in Russian at www.mahjong.ru
Q: Which style of Mahjong do you like best? Why is this your favorite?
A: Despite the fact that my first rules set was riichi I have played a lot MCR rules set, at first against computer at FourWinds software. So, for 90+% of my time I play MCR, sometimes play RCR. And, as complete exotics I have tried HK. That IMHO is good rules set to start with.
Q: What is better: playing live or playing online?
A: I don't know about Europe but in Russia is not as easy to open mahjong club. In my opinion whenever there is an opportunity is far better to play live. Though, since lack of places, players and appropriate time to allocate 4 playes the only option is left to play online. Online is surely a different game. And I know many players who perform better only in one type of playing: live or online.
Q: On the subject of online play, what kind of advice would you give to the online player?
A: First of all, try to use online helpers whether a tile is last or not etc. In live it is not as easy to make choices promptly. Secondly, you could use System options to adjust playing as a training before live event. For instance, play 4 rounds and without help. And, lastly, try to play tournaments even 1-round ones as opposed to stand-alone games. That would increase you level of play.