On December 27th, the Feast of St John the Evangelist, I found myself back at the Doc’s for a festive afternoon of mahjong.
The “revelation” I received was this – Doctor M junior was right! When we first began to play mahjong he prophesied that I might suffer at the four-player mahjong table as a result of my habitual playing of the three-player variation, or, on the other hand, progress in the four-player game could well be to the detriment of my three-player game.
And lo, even as he said, so it has been!
Thus, when I finished top in today’s game, as for every game in the fourth quarter of the year, it was a result that spake unto me with something of a convenient revelatory power! So that’s why I am doing so badly in the three-player league! I have my excuse! Nothing to do with crap play or the standard fallback excuses of being knackered after a gruelling week of toil, or of being too drunk/not drunk enough/sober – it is because progress at the four-player game has thrown a spanner in the works!!
Mind you, it looked as if The Poor Little Cypriot would have to pay out at the Mogamis’ as well as at the Friday night three-player sessions as the first two games went to the senior Mogamis while I was down on -13 in both games and had accumulated five Batsu, XXXX, X as well as recording my first Chombo at the Doc’s – indeed, it was the first Chombo that any of us has ever made in these sessions. It was a classic case of loss of concentration while changing the configuration of the hand. I had a set of melded open White Dragons and a hand that would be ready to finish (I thought) if I switched things around so that either the 6-Bamboo Dora or the 9-Bamboo would complete my hand. But I had forgotten that I had opened my hand, so when I claimed the 6-Bamboo I also committed a Chombo!
That was the low point of the afternoon for my game. The table also had a low point of its own during this part of the afternoon and it seemed about as reluctant to work as an English language teacher with a hangover. The table was opened up a couple of times and on the second occasion we found that a tile had got jammed in the feeder mechanism.
After two games we changed places, or rather, Doctor M jr and I changed places and after a promising start to the third game Dr M jr spent much of the afternoon struggling in the unlucky seat.
In the third game I was able to string together some nice hands and complete several of them – enough to make me the only winner on a nice healthy total and to wipe out the five Batsu, XXXX, X with six Maru, 000000 to go one Maru into the black on top of the now positive-looking score.
When things are going well in Mahjong you get the feeling of being in control of events and the sense that the risks you take are always reasonable and likely to succeed. An example of that was my last-tile discard in a game where nobody had declared Riichi. The tile I needed to throw was the North, which was also a Dora – a very nasty piece of work as no North tiles had been discarded. I just felt confident that the other North tiles were not together in a hand that was ready to go out and so I threw it to retain a Tenpai hand. There were gasps and exclamations of “Eehhh!” and “Waaah!” all around at my audacity, but it worked – and as I was the only player with a Tenpai hand I made 3,000 points out of it. Another time, of course, that is exactly the sort of play that would get you hammered! That is usually what happens when you are the player who finds himself unable to complete a hand and who is getting frustrated!
The winner of the fourth game was Dr M sr, who came second-and-in-the-black in the evening with yours truly in poll position and the junior doc having to pay out and Mrs M having her losses covered by Dr M sr’s winnings…
It was an entertaining afternoon with the usual endless supply of snacks, sandwiches, beer and soft drinks. At the end of the session I was asked if I liked Ebisu beer as I usually request Kirin. Yes, I like Ebisu, I replied, and it transpired that one of the patients recently did the decent thing and presented the clinic with a large supply of Ebisu in gratitude for his miraculous recovery so it looks as if I will be forced to drink beer while playing mahjong at the Doc’s throughout 2007 (DV).
Happy New Byeeearr!