Yu Tian's daughter takes third place in mahjong tourney

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tue, Jun 19, 2007 - Page 2

The oldest daughter of veteran entertainer Yu Tian(余天) lept off her father's coattails and made a name for herself yesterday after beating out a Hong Kong mahjong master to take third place in the Mahjong World Series.

The youngest contestant in the first ever "world series" tournament for mahjong, Yu Shiao-ping (余筱萍), daughter of Taiwanese singer and actor Yu Tien, shone in the three-day contest boasting more than 400 players, all vying for the US$500,000 cash prize.

"I can't even remember when I learned how to play mahjong," Yu Shiao-ping, 29, was quoted as saying in the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper).

"When I was a baby, my granny would play it while holding me," she said. "Somewhere along the way, I just picked it up."

Held in Macau, the tournament attracted players from China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan, and lasted until the wee hours yesterday.

Despite her youth and lack of experience playing with 13 tiles -- the format for the Macau tournament -- Yu Shiao-ping was the only one out of six Taiwanese players to make it to the final match. The others had all been eliminated earlier.

Up against three Hong Kong finalists, Yu Shiao-ping beat out one of her competitors in a tense, prolonged game, taking home US$80,000 as the third-place winner.

The entry fee for playing in the contest was US$5,000, the tournament's Web site showed.

Asked how she would spend her prize, Yu Shiao-ping said her mother had lost NT$1 million (US$30,400) playing Baccarat in Macau casinos.

"I'll use my winnings to help Mom pay off [her debts], after which I'll donate a portion to charities in Taiwan," she said.

Taiwanese players in Chinese games of chance and strategy typically win big in international contests.

Chinese "go" champion Chou Chun-hsun (周俊勳), 27, took home nearly US$270,000 in prize money after winning the world "go" title in Seoul in March.