By Tom Sloper

Mayday+1, 2004

Column #160

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Watanabe-san was ready to declare riichi.

He had to throw either 6P or 7P. In general, it's better to wait for a 2-way chow call rather than a two-pair call. But Watanabe wanted hard data - namely, the discards of the others (expecially of Shigeru, who had just declared riichi).

Each player had discarded 9P, which indicated that 6P was probably safe to throw (under the 1-4-7 principle). Shigeru and Etsuko had both discarded 4P (which indicated that 7P was probably safe to throw).

Shigeru's discards were honors, craks, and dots - and a bam. Hard to tell what he might be doing (often the sign of a seven-pairs hand). Nothing indicated any advantage in throwing 7P over 6P.

So per his initial instinct, Watanabe threw 6P, declaring riichi. The resulting group gasp was music to Watanabe's ears.

Both Shigeru and Watanabe stood to earn ippatsu (immediate win after riichi). Noriko's discard would be doubly risky, as would Etsuko's.

Noriko threw 1M (safe).

Etsuko threw 1P (safe).

Shigeru reached, felt hopefully with his thumb, and reluctantly threw 3P.

Watanabe picked. 8P. "Ippatsu!" He displayed his hand and counted. Riichi, ippatsu, concealed tsumo - 3 fan. Not bad for a nothing hand.

Interestingly, Watanabe had deduced correctly that Shigeru's hand was chii toitsu (seven pairs). Shigeru had been waiting for 7S - and he would never have gotten it. Etsuko was using one, and Noriko was using the other two.

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