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By Tom Sloper

May 1, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #212

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). When Noriko looked at her tiles, she said, "Mayday." Watanabe looked puzzled: "Meidei? Nan' des' ka?" Shigeru explained, "M'aidez. Furansu-go da." It's a French word, it means "help me!" Noriko had gotten exactly 8 unique honors and terminals, and a duplicate. (She'd been asking the French gods for help deciding what to do.) She chose not to request a redeal.

On her next turn she picked 8S. Again she wished the gods could help. She wanted to discard something that didn't kill both her hands. Those, of course, were kokushimusou (thirteen unique) and honitsu (clean). She reasoned, if she got rid of the duplicate wind, she'd probably be able to get another duplicate of something at some point. So that's what she did.

And immediately she regretted it. The wind pair could easily be punged - and it was her own wind. Not only that, she realized too late that the pair went well with the honitsu option (which was, in hindsight, much better because it was so much more likely).

Her next pick was 7S. The gods were definitely not making things easy. Now she really regretted throwing the pei before. Giving up on kokushimusou, she now threw 9M.

Her next pick was junk, then she got 3S twice in a row, losing nan (S) along the way.

She threw the other N with a sigh. She sighed again when she picked and threw another S. Another junk pick, then Watanabe threw 5S. "Chii." Discarded shiro (Wh).

Yet another sigh - picked a third pei. Could've had her own wind! She silently cursed the French gods. She even dredged up a French 5-letter word, and it became a sort of silent mantra as she discarded E.

She passed when Watanabe discarded 3S, but she pounced when he discarded 2S. "Chii." But Shigeru held up a hand. "Kan."

So much for her 1S. It was now a sore thumb in her hand. Her next pick was 4S so she threw the 1S. Soon she picked G. Throwing the danged N, she was waiting for G or 4S for mah-jongg. A couple of junk picks, then Watanabe threw the last 4S. "Ron!"

Exposed honitsu: 2 fan. Watanabe, it turned out, had been Noriko's French god. Who'd'a thunk it?

* Dora tile shown, not dora indicator.

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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.