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By Tom Sloper

December 26, 2004

Column #194

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Etsuko's exemplary pursuit of a classic strategy was cut off at the pass by Shigeru's lucky pick.

When Etsuko first beheld her tiles, she quickly determined that it was suited for a typical chow hand more than anything else.

With no preponderance of any one suit, she discarded W (sha) for starters. Over the next few turns, she acquired 3P, 1S, and 8M, getting rid of G (ao) and R (chun).

The typical way to go (and for good reason, mind you) is to ditch the terminals and go for chows with a two-way call (pinfu), with all simples (tanyao). And usually (but not always) to remain concealed to add riichi into the mix. Thus Etsuko's next discard: 9S.

Her next pick was a second 7P. She threw 9P. Her next pick was 9P, which she threw right back. Picked 7M, threw 1P.

Then a quandary. Noriko threw 2P. Etsuko could call it, and go for tanyao... but forget about riichi. She decided that making an exposure would shake things up a little and move her hand forward, so she did. "Chii."

It was the first exposure on the table. She discarded 1S. Having the 23S needing 4S was a bold move. She could only self-pick it, under the furiten (sacred discard) rule.

She picked 9S, threw it back. Picked 4M, threw 6S. Picked 2S.

She threw 3S to void the furiten problem. Shigeru discarded 6M, turning it sideways. "Riichi."

Etsuko's next pick was 4M. Judging it safe under the 1-4-7 principle, she threw it away. Shigeru reached for the wall and felt the tile with his thumb. Loudly he pulled the tile against the table lip in front of him, revealing it to be ao. "Sananko, riichi, tsumo, ippatsu. Mangan. Yonsen, nisen."

Translation: "Three concealed pungs, riichi, picked it myself, on first turn after declaring riichi. Five fan. Dealer 4000, others 2000."

*Note: dora tile shown, not dora indicator tile.

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© 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.