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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)

July 10, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #222

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). Sometimes we have to go for the cheap win. It's always better than paying somebody else, and that goes double when you're East. Let's look at Etsuko's play.

Etsuko's initial deal had 3 pairs. She assessed it as a possible chii toitsu (seven pairs) hand, but wanted to keep other options option. So for starters she hung onto all her suit tiles - threw pei (N).

First pick was 5M, suggesting possible iipeikou (pure double chows). Threw ao (G). Next pick was 2S. Four pairs now - very strongly suggesting chii toitsu, or maybe toi-toi (all pungs) - and tanyao (all simples). Threw 9S. Now the only non-simple in her hand was the lone (E). Picked 3S, threw 8P. Wouldn'cha know it, next pick was 8P. Threw it back with a snort. (A demure Japanese ladylike snort.)

Picked 4S. Last discard of the first row. Time to give up the E. All simples now. Picked 4P, threw 5P since one had gone out recently and she wasn't gonna do chows anyhow. Picked, threw 9S. 2S went out. Decision time. Should she hold out for seven pairs, or go for a cheap tanyao?

Going for the quick cheap win, she punged, threw 2P. Picked 5M, threw 4P. Now she was waiting for 2S - 5S. Too bad iipeikou must be concealed. Junk pick, then 5S went out. "Ron!" Cheap 1 fan hand, better than nothing. She kept the deal.

Again an E and an N. But this looked better than the previous deal (could do pinfu, all chows). Threw N. Picked 2P, threw E; picked 3M (dora), threw 8M. Noriko threw 4M. Etsuko wanted it but picked to stay concealed a little longer, netting 4P. Threw 1M. Noriko threw 4M again; Etsuko called it this time. "Chii." Threw 1S. She could pung or chii, discard 1P, do another tanyao hand. Her next pick was 4P, threw 1P. Picked 5P, threw 8S. Picked 3M. It was hot, but two others had thrown it, so she did too. Several junk picks. N threw 2P. "Pon." Threw 5P, waiting for 4S.

She maintained her ready hand as the wall ran out, and wound up tenpai. She collected 1000 from each player. And she got to roll the dice yet again.

See what I mean? Cheap ain't all that bad.

* Dora tile shown, not dora indicator.

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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.