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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)

July 31, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #225

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). The Japanese game is a lot like sumo wrestling. Players watch and wait, gauging each other, then with a rapid twist or turn, somebody unexpectedly goes down.

Dora: 4S. Shigeru punged Etsuko's first discard () and discarded 4M. Watanabe's first pick was 6S.

Three pairs - conducive to chii toitsu - but it'd also be possible to go for toi-toi or even a nothing riichi hand. So an honor tile would be first to go. Threw ao. Not long after, Watanabe picked 4M, threw sha. He had four pairs now. Then Noriko threw 9D - decision time. Still the first row of discards - too early (Watanabe was still a bit gun shy after all the "tuition" he'd paid) - so he passed. Picked 7P; threw 8M. Picked, threw pei. Then he picked 7P. Five pairs. Definitely ought to be going for chii toitsu!

He threw 6S. Next pick was 1P, threw 5P (better to throw hot ones earlier - less likely anybody else'd throw a 5 later anyway). His next pick was 7M. Instinct told him to keep the complete chow; and a 7M had gone out recently anyway, so he threw it back. Shigeru chowed 6S from Etsuko.

Two garbage picks. Then Etsuko threw 1P, and when Watanabe picked 8P he threw 1P as well. Shigeru threw 7P. But Watanabe stuck with his guns, picked 8S and threw it back. Etsuko went riichi. Watanabe's next pick was 9S. He regretted throwing one in the 2nd turn. And it could be hot, looking at Etsuko's discards.

He threw 3P; it looked safe to throw (1-4-7 principle). Next pick was 8P. Hiding his inner joy, he had to decide whether to throw 2P or 9S. 2P looked safer (1-4-7 again)... but... 9S was furiten. He wanted to go for it. It was a gamble - and that's what this game is all about. He threw 9S, and was relieved when nobody pounced. Two garbage picks. Unexpectedly, Noriko declared riichi. Then a rapid twist: Etsuko picked her own win - mangan.

* Dora tile shown, not dora indicator.


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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.