By Tom Sloper

February 17, 2004*

Column #149

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). My friend in Little Tokyo had a fully concealed kong, and had to decide which tile to discard.

The hand is chinitsu (pure), but it isn't mah-jongg yet. Chinitsu can be very confusing because of the many possible ways the hand can go. He could expose the kan and take a replacement tile, but if it wasn't a crak, he'd have an awkward 5667, waiting for another six. He could discard the 5M, using the eights as a pon, and he'd be waiting for ro-kyuu (six-nine). Or he could do what he did - discard an eight. He thought he was waiting for suu-chii (four-seven), but on his next turn he picked 6M. He was cogitating what to do with it, when you could practically see the light bulb turn on in his head. He'd suddenly realized that it was tsumo (mah-jongg by self-pick)!

And it was a big one, too. Pure, concealed, by self-pick, tanyao, with three concealed pungs. No dora, though - the dora indicator was 9M (thus dora was 1M - and I had three of those in my hand when he shut me out).

I didn't take any other notes that evening, so I can't write about the good hands that I made (nor even about the frustrating "but I was ready" hands). So let's look at another chinitsu example.

Which tile would you discard, and why?

If the 9M goes, then the hand can score extra for tanyao (all simples). And it's waiting for either five or eight (wu-pa), a two-chance call. Or have I missed anything? (Answer below.)

If the 2M is discarded, then the hand is waiting for three, six, or nine. And depending on which tile is obtained, the hand might also score extra for iipeikou (twin chows).

If 3M is discarded, the hand is waiting for four or six. Discarding 4M leaves the hand waiting for five or six. Discarding 5M leaves the hand waiting for six or nine. Discarding 6M makes for a two-five wait. Discarding 7M or 8M would be a mistake.

So which way would you go? Hurry and decide! So you see why chinitsu is so challenging.

Answer: Yes, I did. The hand can also win on a 2M. It all depends on how the tiles are allocated to chows or pungs.

Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.

* My apologies for the lateness of this column. The night I played in Little Tokyo and observed the first example hand described above was Friday the 13th. When I got home, I discovered that my site migration had finally occurred. I stayed up late, setting up the website in its new home. Then spent the whole long Presidents Day weekend trying to get the bulletin boards working again. You can read a detailed technical explanation here. If you really need to.

Some fun links about Japanese-style mah-jongg.

Copyright 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.