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By Tom Sloper

May 22, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #215

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Ever wish for a time machine so you could replay a hand? Today's column is a sci-fi mah-jongg time-travel adventure. Etsuko played her hand and lost, so we gave her a time machine and let her replay the hand with full knowledge of what would happen. Her initial deal:

Lots of possibilities, but the two lone winds needed to go. At the 1/3 point, she'd built it up nicely:

Nobody had exposed or declared riichi yet, and it was mainly a matter of what to throw. She decided to go for chiitoitsu (seven pairs), and threw pei (N). Next pick was chun (R), which she discarded. A little later she regretted that (she'd picked another). Another mistake was throwing 7M, which she only figured out when she picked its sibling as well. Watanabe-san declared riichi with 7P. So when Etsuko picked 4P she figured it was safe to discard... but no, that was Watanabe's maj tile. Cheap hand, but Etsuko was so upset about not winning her hand that a dimensional warp opened up and she traveled back in time eight minutes, to before she threw chun and 7M. This time when she picked those key tiles, she kept them.

Much of what ensued thence was as before. Watanabe-san declared riichi with 7P right on schedule. A couple of turns later, Etsuko picked the 2nd chun. Her time travel had permitted her to redo or change all her actions - it did not change the arrangement of tiles in the wall. And since nobody called for any exposures, she picked the same tiles she'd picked before the time warp.

When she picked the 2nd chun, Etsuko threw 6P, knowing she would be getting 7M. She was so excited that she forgot to declare riichi. So on her next turn, she did, discarding a fresh-picked ao (G). "Riichi."

And one turn later she had it. "Ippatsu!"

She tallied it up: "Riichi, ippatsu, tsumo, chiitoitsu, dora, dora. Haneman!" The uradora indicator tile was 5S - she'd had to discard her 6S. She kind of wished she'd paid closer attention before entering the time warp, but the dimensional rift had already healed.

Besides, wouldn't want to be too greedy.

* Dora tile shown, not dora indicator.

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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.