By Tom Sloper

August 17, 2003

Column #115

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Watanabe-san arranged his tiles.

Three pairs - threes, eights, and nan. The souths looked pretty useless, unless all he wanted was a riichi hand. Little did he know...

He discarded nan. Then its twin on the next turn. After getting rid of the winds, he started discarding terminals. As the game entered the 2nd row of discards, it was shaping into a chiitoitsu (all pairs) hand.

Or maybe toi-toi (all pungs). But definitely tanyao (all simples), either way. He threw 1S. His next pick threw some doubt into the plan: 7P. Now he had a pung. Maybe go for toi-toi. The 67S was looking superfluous now, so he threw 6S. Next, he picked 4S. Threw 7S.

His next pick was a second 4S. Now he decided to go for chiitoitsu. His possible discards (besides the third 7P) were 3P, 4P, and 5P. One 4P showed among the discards (Shigeru's). So he threw 7P for now. His next pick was 5M - he threw it back. Then he got 6P, and had a decision to make.

"I hate chiitoitsu," he thought, as he discarded 4P. Next pick: 8M. Back it went. Next pick: 5P. Now he had six pairs, and had to decide which tile to discard.

3P? or 6P? Noriko had discarded 6P three discards ago. So that was the one. As he went to place it on the table, he had to think about whether to place it rotated sideways or not. Riichi? Or not to riichi? That was the question. Since there were two recent 6Ps on the floor, someone might well deem 3P safe to throw... what the hell. "Riichi."

Next pick: 5M. No ippatsu. Shigeru declared too. "Riichi."

Then Watanabe picked 3P. "Tsumo!" Would've happened sooner if he'd just kept nan, though...

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Some fun links about Japanese-style mah-jongg.

Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.