By Tom Sloper

August 22, 2004

Column #176

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Each hand of mah-jongg is a series of puzzles. Let's consider two consecutive hands and the puzzles they presented.

E round, N seat. First turn. What do you discard?

Four turns later. W has thrown 2M. Take it?

Middle of 2nd row of discards. Discard which?

Middle of 3rd row. E discarded 2S and 8S recently. S discarded 7P many turns back. What to discard?

New deal. E round, N seat (no one won last hand). The others have led with terminals in bams. You?

Turn 5. The hand is coming together - you can do anything you want, since you have the ao pung. Your left discards the 4th ao. Should you kong it?

Middle of the 2nd row of discards. What do you discard?

1. Sometimes you get a really bad deal. You have no choice but to play it. Throw any wind except E or N for starters.
2. No. The hand has not yet shown itself likely to make the 1-fan requirement, unless you feel like gambling that somebody will throw G (
3. G. You gotta go for
tanyao (all simples).
4. Wow. Who'd a' thunk it.
Chii toitsu, tanyao, ishanten. There are only two choices - 5S or 4P - you can declare riichi on either one. You have to look at the discards and pick one that's safe to throw (and with hopes to obtain the other). 5S looks safer to discard; 4P looks more likely to get. Discard 5S and declare riichi if you feel lucky.
5. The G (
ao) pair could be your ticket - or it could keep you from making tanyao. Keep R. Throw W.
6. You should only make a kong if you are fairly certain your hand will win. The
kan dora could double someone else's score, and that could bite you. And the other players will know to play more defensively.
7. 9P. And why? It fools your opponents into thinking you're targeting a
tanyao hand. This time you win!

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© 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.