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By Tom Sloper

February 27, 2005

Column #203

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Shigeru's deal gave him very high hopes. Those hopes were dashed decisively, but he played a smart defensive game for a minimal loss. Here's how it played...

In his deal, Shigeru got eight unique honors & terminals and had to decide quickly whether or not he wanted a redeal. Before the oya could throw, he held up a hand and said, "Chotto matte..."

He decided, "What the heck" (or the Japanese equivalent, which I'd love to know) and made a "proceed" gesture to Etsuko (oya).

On his pick, Shigeru got 8S and threw it back. As he picked and threw, he tried to preserve other options while pursuing his main strategy - of course, he hoped to make kokushimusou (see column #188), but knew his chances were slim. He got chun (lookin' good!), then a second 8P.

Recall that in Japanese mah-jongg, it's okay to have the duplicate tile before winning (it's not necessary to hold 13 unique tiles and win on a 13-tile wait). He threw the 8P, then got 9S. A number of unimportant tiles came and went... and then Noriko said, "kan." This was very bad news for Shigeru, because what Noriko had konged was 1S. This meant that Shigeru's kokushimusou plan was dead, dead, dead. How many times can I say it - he had to forget about Plan One, and there was no way to recover. At the start of the 2nd row of discards, in the blink of an eye, Shigeru had to switch to defense mode. Forget Plan Two, go straight to Plan Three. Didn't even have a Plan Three until now! It's like what Lee Marvin said in the movie, The Dirty Dozen: "Adapt, improvise, overcome." When life happens while you're busy making other plans (oh wait, that's John Lennon), you have to make a whole new plan... and take action.

Shigeru picked 9M, threw 8P. His next pick was ao. By now he'd had time to look over Noriko's discards:

Threw chun. Checking the other players' discards, all winds looked safe to get rid of. 9M was also safe (the others had thrown those, and Noriko had thrown 6M). And his last discard was shiro (following the 3rd one thrown, by Noriko). He hadn't won, not by a long shot, but he'd minimized his losses. Not so bad.

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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.