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By Tom Sloper

April 10, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #209

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Watanabe-san "read the river" to decide which tile to discard, and it saved him some money.

His deal was unexciting, containing several single honors he'd have to get rid of. He threw S (his first pick). His next few picks were 7M, 8S, 7S, and his throws were R, E, W. Just two more ones to get rid of, then he'd be all simples (tanyao). Picked 4S, threw 1P. One more one to go. His next pick and throw was R, then he got 6S and threw 1M.

Etsuko threw 7S; Watanabe didn't bite. He picked 9S and threw it back. Shigeru threw 8S; Watanabe passed. Garbage pick, then he got 8P, threw 3P, then two more garbage picks. Then Noriko went riichi.

Watanabe passed another 8S discarded by Shigeru, then he picked 9S. It was safe to throw. He was disgusted when Noriko picked and threw 7P, which Watanabe wanted but couldn't take. Then Etsuko went riichi.

Watanabe picked 2S and had to think.

6P was safe to throw. And it was unlikely anybody except a riichi player would throw 7P (dora). Yet he didn't want to give up the potentially lucrative set. Shigeru had thrown three 8S's, so he threw his and stayed the course.

Whew. Safe. His next pick was 2P. The aggressive move would be to throw it (it didn't fit his hand). But the safe move would be to throw 7S. The wall was getting extremely short, and thus safety was very important. Threw 7S. Next two picks and throws were E and 9P, and the game was over.

Shigeru and Watanabe were both noten. A look at Noriko's and Etsuko's hands told the tale.

Noriko's unresolved tiles were 66778M (waiting for 5-8). Etsuko's hand was chiitoitsu, and guess what tile she needed to complete her seventh pair? 2P.

Good thing Watanabe hadn't thrown 2P. Only cost him 1500 points. He paid it happily.

* Dora tile shown, not dora indicator.

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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.