Friday 19th January: Fortune Changes on Two Tables

I think it would be fair to say that the Hiroshima Cockseye Mahjong club held two separate games tonight.

The first game, between the Old Guard (Noda, David and Jaime) commenced around 8pm and finished at about midnight. The second game, between Kenyon, Hide and Hide’s friend Tsuyoshi who joined us for the first time tonight, started around 9:30pm and finished in the early hours of the morning long after the other three had left. The character of the two games was also very different – the only thing they had in common seems to be that they reversed the fortunes of last year’s two most successful players, Noda and Kenyon.

The evening can be said to have begun when David bumped into Tim on the way to Kemby’s to join Jaime for preliminary beers and nosh. Seeing Tim reminded David that he had forgotten to purchase the 2006 Cockseye Three-Player Mahjong Trophy so he and Tim doubled back to Book Off and headed downstairs to the second hand treasure trove where they found a glazed terracotta bull for 500 yen – the very thing for such a bullish player as Noda! (I hope a pic of the trophy will follow shortly!)

We were joined by Eri and Momo at Kemby’s and they accompanied the three of us over to Kodama’s to join Noda and present the prizes.

At Kodama there was just one other table in use and the men made fussy “shushing” noises when we barrelled in and greeted Noda. That caused a certain chilling of the atmosphere as the British party rather objected to being told to shut up on what we have come to regard as home territory. We also noted that when an hour or so later another group of players came in they were not requested to shut up.

Tim presented the awards – a yellow duck to the duck (David) and a raging bull to the bull (Noda). David wore the duck around his neck when it was not doing active service as a Yakitori marker on his side of the table.

Eri and Momo could not be persuaded to play as they were keen to whisk Tim off for a bit of karaoke, or at least that was their story. We hear that Tim is quite an accomplished karaoke crooner…

The mahjong commenced and the main competition for ascendency tonight was between Jaime and David. Jaime took an early lead while David drank his way through the evening and yet never “lost it” – well not quite “never”… there was the comedy of his retracting a Riichi to avoid Chombo only to commit a Chombo on his next turn by changing his hand and declaring Riichi with a different tile only to notice that that wait was also illegal!

Apart from that the PLC managed to maintain something of a lively awareness of what was happening on the table and how to respond to it despite the presence of his two old friends Madam Fatigue and Sir Ian E. Briated. The only time I can remember his giving away an egregious tile was when Jaime declared Riichi during the first game and David drew a West Wind. Jaime had thrown a Red Dragon and David had the other three but was unwilling to break them up so despite smelling a rat, he threw the West which, of course, Jaime needed to complete his hand!

In the fourth game Jaime declared Riichi and David, chasing Suuanko went Tempai on the next tile and followed suit with Riichi. Noda and Jaime discarded without incident and then David drew the 9-Bamboo to claim Suuanko.

Noda vaguely threatened a revival but never really got into the game, perhaps because he has not completely returned from the golf courses of New Zealand yet, so the result was a complete reversal of fortune for the 2006 Cockseye champion:

David -20, +34, -7, +60, +26 = +93
Jaime +36, -11, +37, -48,** +2 = +16
Noda -16,** -23, -30, -12, -28 = -109

** Yakitori

Shortly after we had started playing, Hide arrived with his friend Tsuyoshi who was joining us for the first time. Kenyon rolled into the parlour at just gone half past nine and the three of them made up a second table as we were in the middle of our game. Our games remained out of sync for the rest of the evening so I hand over to Kenyon for details of the action on his table:

Tsuyoshi +60, -9, +33, -9, -39, -15, +29, +97 = +147
Hide -32, +32, -35, +100, -13, +31, +2, -54 = +31
Kenyon -28, -23, +2, -91,** +52, -16, -31, -43 = -178

** Yakitori

“In game one we did the introductions. As we’re starting the second hand I ask Tsuyoshi if he’s strong and he says, ‘No,’  immediately. Hide chimes in that Tsuyoshi’s fairly strong and he proceeds to crush us the first game.

“They proceed to trade back and forth the first four games, Tsuyoshi winning games one and three and Hide winning games two and four, with game four being +100 with me finishing down -91 and Yakitori.

“I amazingly rally in game five and tread water in games six and seven. Then came the final game of the night, which was an absolute wild one. I was starting oya and quickly go out for maybe 12 points on the first hand. Second hand, Hide pons Chun off Tsuyoshi, then Hatsu off of me. Both coming in like the first five discards. I soon after pick up Haku, which Hide pons. So now I’m staring down Yakuman with the third player free to discard what he likes. Scary scary scary. But I managed to tsumo out for a decent hand, 19 if I recall.

“I proceed to win a third hand as oya, and build up a nice stack of tenbo. At this point I’m feeling good about this game and think I’ll finish up and have an acceptable evening, down maybe 80 in total.

“Nothing particular happens in the rest of east round. I’m up to mid 80s about; Hide’s around starting position and Tsuyoshi is well down. But then an absolute last oya rampage occurs, with me and Hide just getting beat down. I got ronned on my Oya by Tsuyoshi and then he gets to Oya and rolls. He won the first six hands, which I think five were tsumos and one was taken off of me. We ride out the hand, with him Tenpai again to just dodge Parenchan, which is a bloody miracle at that. He wins the eighth hand. It should be mentioned that he was lurking early just about every hand and me and Hide were both entirely pessimistic about our chances. Finally Hide ends Rianchi and then Tsuyoshi gets Hide on his last Oya to end the game. So in all in that final game I went from about +3 to the final -43 to end up on -178 for the evening.

“I must say that Tsuyoshi seems very good. He went out a lot, as is obvious from +147, but was lurking a lot more than that. He also likes Jaime’s one tile waits. The number of times he finished on 1s or 9s of characters is too many to count. I think he did it maybe 4 or 5 times in the evening. I can’t recall an evening where I felt outgunned as much as that. It just seemed like all night he was ready to go out.

“Combined with Hide, who is good in his own right, and it was a long evening. Next time some of you have to join me in tangling with them.”

K. C.

David Hurley