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By Tom Sloper

October 24, 2004

Column #185

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Shigeru got a bad deal. He tried something far-fetched, all the while playing his discards safe - but Etsuko bit the hand that fed her. Shigeru's deal:

When he saw the lone honors and terminals, he immediately thought of shiisanpuutaa (Thirteen Unique) but quickly saw that he had just eight tiles. If you were Shigeru, would you discard what he did? Answer #1, below.

While the others threw dragons and winds, Shigeru threw suit tiles. Eventually he picked 1S, keeping his dora tile. Immediately after, he picked another dora - what would you throw? Answer #2. His next pick was 2P.

He threw it back. Next, he picked another 1S and bit the bullet, throwing 5P. Etsuko went riichi.

When he picked 1M, he had to think about what was safe to throw. He threw safe tiles for a while, but then Watanabe went riichi.

Based on the shown discards of the two riichi players, what was safe to throw? Answer 3.

Both players were mostly throwing manzu (craks). For four turns, Shigeru maintained his hand, but then...

Trying to balance keeping the hand versus not discarding unsafely, he threw 3S. Etsuko won on it.

1. I hope you'd try something else, but he threw 8M. Aside from the honors and terms, 34S and 566P were his only other hope for a hand, so 8M was the only clear remaining choice.
2. Threw 6P - kept dora just a little longer...
3. You can see that Watanabe's safe tiles are W, N, S, 1P, 1256M, 457S. His half-safe tiles (per the 1-4-7 principle): 1S, 3489M, 4P. From Etsuko's discards shown here, her safe tiles are Wh, G, R, W, 7M, 6S, 347P. Her half-safe tiles: 16P, 4M, 39S. Although 3S seemed half-safe, it was Shigeru's downfall - for pair;
tanki. Very difficult to tell when that's the case.

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© 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.