By Tom Sloper

August 24, 2003

Column #118

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Shigeru's deal looked promising.

Three pairs - all terminals and dragons, with three more fanpai (honor tiles) in the hand. And the 8M was dora, to boot. Maybe chanta (all terminals and honors, with terminal chows).

He started by discarding 6S. And he kept an eagle eye on the discards, ready to grab 9M, 9S, and white, if any came out. And one did - Etsuko discarded white. "Shiro pon."

With that exposure, he could make any hand at all, but Shigeru was greedy. He discarded the sixes, only to pick more. Next pick - ton. Good. Discarded 4S.

Soon, Noriko declared riichi. It became important now to watch her discards.

Shigeru's next pick - 7S. He now had four pairs. Three possible discards.

It was unthinkable to discard 8M. Dora was abunai at this point. Noriko's wind was pei, so that too was abunai. The only safe discard among his singles was ao.

Then the unthinkable - Etsuko discarded 8M. That tile now shown to be safe, Shigeru and Watanabe also discarded theirs. Then Noriko discarded E. "Ton pon."

Going for gusto, he discarded dangerously but survived. Then what he'd feared would happen... happened. He picked 9C. The N had to go.

He threw N and survived, so Watanabe threw one as well. From then on, he had nothing but dangerous choices with each discard. His final pick was 2S. All of his tiles were raw. 7S seemed safest, based on Noriko's 4S and the 1-4-7 principle. So that was his last discard. As it turned out, Noriko had made furiten riichi, needing to pick a 4S. She was kicking herself! Shigeru could have been tenpai if he'd thrown 2S, but 1000 points was cheap.

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Some fun links about Japanese-style mah-jongg.

Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.