Friday 31st March: Ray Sinks, David Soars, Jaime Melts…

Tonight, Eri moved up one place on the “Grand Accumulated Points Chart” – without even playing a hand! What happened was that the “Ray Revival” never materialized and so Ray sank from the shallows to the depths – not quite as deeply as Kenyon, mind you, but still quite deep.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table the Martian David, who had been hovering as close to zero on the black side of the chart as Ray had been on the red side, soared upwards with springtime vigour towards the dizzy heights of Saturnian Noda and the Icarian Jaime whose

…waxen wings did mount above his reach,
And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow.

It did not look as if things would go that way after the first game as Jaime scored +10 to David’s -10 while Noda took first place with a clear lead which secured him a place in the black for the rest of the evening. That was despite his ending up with his Yakitori tessera still on the table at the end of the second game… That is his third so far this year.

David, on the other hand, had one hand which would have been a beautiful hand indeed – had it not had one too few tiles in it.

But the most inglorious balls up of the evening – of the year so far, I should say – was Ray’s Pon-Kan-Ron tangle. Jaime had a couple of open Pon sets including the Green Dragons and a few bonus tiles showing. Noda threw out a tile and Ray paused, said “Kan” but changed it to a “Pon” and then wondered aloud whether or not he could now go Kan on a different set (which is illegal after claiming a Pon. Realizing it was illegal and worried about Jaime’s hand he looked back at his own set of 4 x 2-Bamboo and reasoned that as Jaime had claimed a couple of tiles by going “Pon” then it should be safe to throw out one of those 2-Bamboo – Jaime would be unable to go “Pon” on it since Ray had the other three! “These are safe,” he said, or words to that effect, and David felt simultaneously a certain deja vu and a frisson of expectation, a sense that all was not well as Ray threw a 2-Bamboo.

Jaime promptly said “Ron!” and turned over his tiles to reveal a Hatsu – Honitsu hand that had been Tenpai on 2-or-5 Bamboo!!

Ray immediately realized the error of his ways! The sense of deja vu that David, and also Jaime had felt was because Ray’s observation that the 2-Bamboo was “safe” resembled Tim’s assertion to Kulcha Alex I, three years or so ago, that “that tile is definitely safe,” the discarding of which was promptly followed by Jaime going Ron!! In tonight’s occurrance it was a matter of Ray talking himself into trouble.

But perhaps the most dramatic hands was the very last one of the evening in which Ray was well down in negative territory, around -74 and Jaime was also in the red to the tune of -23. Both players had racked up numerous bonus tiles. I don’t know if Noda, the last Oya was playing safely, but he wasn’t giving anything away. If I remember rightly, Jaime went Riichi and then gave away the tile that Ray was waiting for and had to pay him 24,000 points.

David had had a long Oyaship and had supposed that a big win in the last game would actually cost him as he risked missing the last tram and having to catch a taxi home… However, Ray’s last win meant that David was able to make a bolt for the door and leg it in time to catch the last tram and so make a profit on the evening as well as move closer to the top of the pack.

With David and Ray both moving further away from zero, and with Noda coming second-and-in-the-black, the universe has ceased to expand so swiftly but it has become hollow in the centre.

David: -18, +33, +35, +90 = +140
Noda: +63, -15**, +3, +17 = +68
Jaime: +10, -19, -24, -57 = -90
Ray: -55, +1, -14, -50 = -118

One potential consolation for Ray is that the manager of the Parkside Hotel was playing at another table and it turns out that he and Noda are acquaintances so you never know, Ray might be able to wangle a free night or two when he next stays in town overnight…

David Hurley