Friday 16th March: Jaime Returns to the Fray… Enami-san Joins the Club!

Noda joined Jaime in the Bizenya ramen shop for a bowl of Stamina Ramen to set himself up for the mahjong parlour.

David joined them somewhat behind schedule but nevertheless in good time to catch Jaime expatiating on the subject of St Andrews and why anybody who attempted to maintain that it was not the best golf course in the world would be a blithering imbecile.

I just checked out the St Andrews website and think I now get why it is that you have to play backwards to get your ball out of some of the bunkers…

Apparently the Old Course used to be played clockwise, then,

“Old Tom Morris (pictured left on the first tee of the Old Course in 1896) created a separate green for the first hole, it became possible to play the course in an anti-clockwise direction, rather than clockwise which had previously been the norm. For many years, the course was played clockwise and anti-clockwise on alternate weeks, but now the anti-clockwise, or right-hand circuit has become the accepted direction.” (Page no longer available, )

Despite his stamina ramen, Noda-san did not start off too well at the mahjong table. His Yakitori tessera lingered on the table for much of the game as Jaime and David made the early running.

While we were playing out the first game Hide called to say that his father wanted to join us and a few minutes later he arrived at the jansou and introduced us to Enami-san. Hide went off again and Enami-san joined the second game, which he won by just 1,000 points over Noda who took “second-and-in-the-black”.

It was during this game that the first Chombo of the evening occurred. Jaime took a tile and promptly went out, revealing his hand. It was then pointed out to him that he had taken his tile from the wrong end of the wall!!

By now Hide had returned from going about his business and Kenyon had arrived. For the first time in quite a while we were able to form two tables of three. We drew tiles to allocate tables. Noda, Jaime and Enami stayed at the first table in the back left corner, while Hide, Kenyon and David moved to a new table.

Kenyon and Hide were very pleased to have avoided the Noda-Enami combination, with K opining that he could win on the new table. However, no sooner had we sat down at the table and pressed the button than the machine went haywire and disgorged tiles in a disordered wall on Hide’s side. We loaded the tiles into a basket and pressed the button again for the second set of tiles to disgorge themselves and we found some of the first set mixed up with them. After sorting the tiles and reloading the table the same thing happened again so Mama-san switched us to the table in the front right corner.

Then, after the first hand David scooped the tiles AND the Wind marker into the guts of the table so for a second time we found ourselves rummaging in the guts of the machinery!

Meanwhile, over on the other table, Jaime suffered a first-hand “Double Ron” and had to pay 16,000 points out to Noda and Enami respectively. Noda went on the charge and disaster was looming. Then Jaime staged a recovery sparked by a second “Double Ron”. This time, Jaime declared Riichi, Enami discarded a tile and Noda promptly declared “Ron”. Jaime turned to him to berate him for stealing the hand when he suddenly realized that he too could go out!

Back on David’s table Hide was enjoying a run of success, finishing top in the third and fourth (his first and second) games. David, who is officially on a Lenten alcohol fast, decided it was time for a medicinal glass of whisky to fight the ague and found his spirits restoring themselves and his fortunes reviving. By now play had finished at the first table and the Noda revival, which began last week was strongly reconfirmed tonight. As a result, Noda climbed up the Grand Accumulated Results table to fourth place on -25…

Hide and David were also in the black at this stage in the evening. Then, from the point of view of results rather than of entertainment value, David made two mistakes. He took more medicine and he played two more games!

After Noda and Enami left, David, Jaime, Kenyon and Hide returned to the back left table to play out two more games. In each of those two games Fortune strongly favoured one player. In the first (the sixth of the evening) Jaime could do no wrong with the tiles. Hands formed themselves within the first few draws and out he went. David and Kenyon bore the brunt of this assault. Indeed, by the end of the sixth it looked as if it would be a losing night for Kenyon, not one of his spectacular three-figure losing nights, but still something quite hefty.

But then we played one more game and Dame Fortune switched her allegiances in a most whimsical fashion. With Kenyon going four rounds as Oya, Hide to his right, and Jaime right of Hide, Hide declared and went out – but had forgotten that Ryanshi had kicked in and that his 1-Yaku was therefore invalid. It was this Chombo by Hide that triggered the avalanche… a fifth 100-Tenbou went up and then a sixth… seventh… eighth (no Paarenchan)… ninth… and finally a tenth 100-Tenbou as Kenyon put together a series of winning hands that raked in ever higher rewards (Oya gets a 1,000 yen bonus per 100-Tenbou so each victory makes the following one – if it comes – more expensive for the payers).

Hide’s tray swiftly emptied. Meanwhile, in the eighth hand, Jaime broke up a hand to avoid a costly throw. He took the risk of throwing a dangerous tile in order to get to Tenpai on the ninth, however, but was punished.

One of the hands that rocketed Kenyon up into the stratosphere included a Daisangen finish in which he needed just one more Haku (White Dragon) to go out. Both Jaime and Hide had declared Riichi, and Hide drew and had to throw a Haku tile right when the wall was exhausted of tiles… 52,000 points switched hands on that one alone!

Hide finally managed to complete a hand to conclude Kenyon’s term as Oya, so Kenyon took a break and play resumed at a more leisurely pace and with some hilarity as some swift manouvering by Jaime struck a chord with Hide who roared with infectious laughter, which brought Kenyon back to the table with a “What did I miss?” What about noting Kenyon’s eventual result? Ah yes, a complete reversal of the evening’s form, his +141 finish landed him in the coveted “second and in the black” spot with a respectable +55. It makes a change on recent form for Kenyon not to finish with three figures, positive or negative score although it took a three-figure positive score to get him to that position! I should also note that Hide, the chief victim of Kenyon’s charge, managed to recover from a position in which his tray was empty and he owed Kenyon 80,000 points (i.e. a total debt to the table of 130,000 points!!) to a position of relative respectability – “just” -51,000 total.

Altogether it had been a very entertaining night and a lively one too.

Noda -46, +18, +62, +40, +21, –, — = +95
Kenyon –, –, +2, -42, -8, -38, +141 = +55
Jaime +32, -37,* -35,** +4, -6, +93, -68 = -17
Hide –, –, +19, +52, -41, -14, -51* = -35
Enami –, +39, -27,** -44, -15, –, — = -47
David +14, -20, -21, -10, +49, -41, -22 = -51

* Chombo
** Double Ron

Hide drove David part of the way home. As he drove he gave him the lowdown on the “hostess” scene in the Hatsukaichi area… where good figures and cute looks come at a discount… or so he tells me.

David Hurley