Friday 13th July: Neil Joins the Fray; Sean & Ryan Dip Their Toes In.

A festive spirit prevailed tonight. Neil, one of our former colleagues in the days when we were all “dokushin kizoku” (batchelor aristocrats) at a certain English language school of ill repute, was back in town for the holiday weekend, blown in from Kyuushu by the typhoon.

We had agreed to meet at Koyo (a.k.a. Jantopia) jansou, to enjoy its friendly atmosphere. The move was proposed by Jaime. It was a cunning ploy on his part to turn around his recent fortunes. Pleasant as the parlour may be, the tables at Koyo have always played in favour of Jaime; they have never furthered the progress of David; indeed, pleasant pastures often prove painful to the progress of the pilgrim, as did By-Path Meadow to Christian and Hopeful, or the well watered plain of Jordan to Lot.

It will be remembered that the David’s recent good form at the tables of both the four-player and the three-player games resembled in magnitude, if not in glory, the double success the emperor Trajan had enjoyed over the pagans of Dacia and the star-gazers of the East. David’s successes had even continued across the dreaded change of quarter as June gave way to July and the previous night he had enjoyed victory in the four-player game at The Good Doc’s.

A victory by the PLC in tonight’s 3-player game would have completely routed the “4-player/3-player” rule in which victory at one table is said to presage defeat at the other. However, change is not conducive to the maintenance of empire and David’s conquests proved to be no less “transient… rapid and specious” than Trajan’s asiatic successes.

It will also be remembered that Trajan’s successor to the imperial purple was none other than that great and energetic defensive strategist, Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus, a.k.a. Hadrian, of wall-building fame.
“The resignation of all the eastern conquests of Trajan was the first measure of his reign. He restored to the Parthians the election of an independent sovereign, withdrew the Roman garrisons from the provinces of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, and, in compliance with the precept of Augustus, once more established the Euphrates as the frontier of the empire.” (Gibbon, D&FRE, Vol. I cap. I.)

Tonight’s was a ten-hour mahjong session in which numerous games were played and numerous beers quaffed and many pleasant distractions served to amuse the varied company.

Kenyon and David were the first arrivals. Then Jaime, Ray, Tim and Noda arrived as a party accompanying Neil straight from four swift “Happy Hour” beers at Kembys.

This was the part of the evening in which the laurels of victory were handed out with considerable liberality to the regular players of the drunken party so that at the end of the first game the results were:

Drunken Regular Players
Jaime – Victory
Noda – Victory
Ray – Victory

Drunken Occasional Player
Neil – Defeat

Other Regular Players (Sober or Not Yet Inebriated)
David – Defeat
Kenyon – Defeat

Non-Participating Drunkards Also Worthy of Mention

Noda, Ray, and Kenyon occupied one table, David, Jaime, and Neil the other. Five tiles into the first hand of the first game Jaime completed the first of many swift hands. Four tiles into the next, and the next hand a similar process occurred and we were half way through the game before you could say “Bob’s your uncle” and there were still two Yakitori tesserae on the table. Then Jaime racked up a few 100-Tenbou until Neil eventually completed a hand. Another swift victory brought us to last Oya and whoever it was did not last long at that post, so victory went to Jaime, with Neil suffering a modest loss and David commencing his “retreat from the Orient” with his Yakitori tesserae still on the table.

Over on the other table Kenyon suffered at the hands of the drunken regular players but avoided the ignominy of getting skewered. However, the sober player proved the least continent as the negative results accumulated to the prejudice an already tenuous mastery of the passions. I think it was Noda’s two-in-a-row completion of Kokushimusou as Oya that was the last straw for Kenyon. Or was it that time, familiar to us all, when Kenyon was Tempai on Kokushimusou himself, only to see Ray go out? Anyway, he jumped off his chair and paced up and down in a Choleric frenzy that I had not thought a herbivore capable of – choler being the humour natural to one who surfeits on summer mutton.

Ray inherited a number of 100-tenbou although as starting Oya and already on the South round he had yet to complete a hand. His corner of the table was looking rather crowded, as the photo shows!

Whereas play had started swiftly on Jaime’s table, it shortly slowed down apace as two new guests, Sean and Ryan, joined us to observe the game for the first time. By now David was entering into his cups and liberally abusing Neil for robbing him of the tiles he needed from the wall by his slow but all too frequent, and vain, declarations of “Pon”. (After all, what else does he return to Hiroshima for if not for the abuse he receives at our hands when he gets here?)

Kenyon’s calls for a change of table seating arrangements went unheeded (despite their impact upon the eardrums – loud noises often serve to deafen the hearers – ) as our games never quite seemed to come to a simultaneous end and none of the other players on either table found himself inclined to wait upon the sober player’s pleasure. Ray, their table leader, was quite happy with the way things were. Their table was now playing at a faster rate than ours and finishing ahead of us, Noda declared for a final game with seating arrangement as it was, so Kenyon rejoined the table and promptly turned in the best single result of the evening, reclaiming all the ground he had lost and finishing in the black on +2.

The effect of that turnaround had been to push Noda back into the red, which proved useful to David at the end of the evening as it contributed to preserving his position at the top of the Grand Accumulated Results Table in spite of his racking up the biggest defeat of any player in one session so far this year!

Noda and Ray departed the scene (in fact, Noda nearly flew from it by missing his footing at the top of the stairs) and so an opportunity arose for us to host a training session on one table and a regular game on the other.

Jaime hosted the first half of the training session and Neil second.

Kenyon joined David and Neil’s table, where his precipitous swing from the extremity of unmitigated disaster to that of outrageous victory continued through three more games, and did not begin to abate until a Chombo in the 8th was followed by another in the 9th game where he finally gave 39 points back to the market for Jaime to scoop up. Indeed, Kenyon’s late night advance did not prevent Jaime from continuing to make progress as well. Nor did it prevent the Poor Little Cypriot from ordering and polishing off his 11th beer for the evening and registering a loss throughout of approximately 20 points per beer! Perhaps it was that 11th beer that caused him to commit the most absurd of Chombo breaches – a breach in the wall which, when all the tiles had been replaced, left him with just ten tiles in hand!

I should say Kenyon’s evening accurately traced the fortunes of Sobriety when confronted by Inebriation; in the early stages your sober fellow can do nothing against the exuberant inspiration of the freshly intoxicated, but as the evening wears on he gains the advantage of a clear head over a befuddled noddle.

Jaime took the middle course and retired from his cups at a prudent moment and steered himself home.

David, however, who was late out of the traps, pressed on regardless, drinking with neither exuberance nor incontinence, but sinking, ever sinking, at the moderate rate of one beer every fifty minutes. Ah, how many wretches has a policy of “moderation” sent to Hell in a handcart?

In the penultimate game, David, by now sinking beneath the twin impresses of time and his tipple, tossed out a Red Dragon only for Kenyon to pounce and reveal a completed Kokushimusou! Jaime had seen the danger and held onto one of the other Red Dragons. David had only got so far as noticing that a couple of end tiles were cunningly placed among Kenyon’s discard pile and thought no more of it!

That was the fourth Kokushimusou of an eventful evening – Jaime had completed the third sometime earlier; but, to reiterate, the most amazing eventuality was Noda’s going out on Kokushimusou twice running.

Somewhere in the mist – er, I meant to type “the midst” but I find “the mist” somehow more apposite and pertinent – of these events Tim (who had, by the way, quit our company long ago for the pleasures of Sin in the Tents of Wickedness) returned with Alex, the renowned bartender of Kulcha. Our amiable Mama-san was once more aroused from her slumbers before the television and cheerfully set about pouring Tim his umpteenth beer of the night and then with equal equanimity received instructions from Alex about how to mix up his own choice of brew. There then ensued a conversation about Tim, a young lady, and Neil, and the carte blanche the first of the three was offering the third to do him the courtesy of showing her his favour…

A sense of modesty and propreity causes me to pause and spare the details of the denouement of that particular conversation, but I trust the varied scenes that presented themselves to our two observers, Sean and Ryan, will have beguiled them into joining us on a regular basis!

The results:

Kenyon -42, +11, -12, -91, +132, || +52, +89, +52,** -39,** = +154
Jaime +57, +21, +71, -30, (–), || –, -13, -17, +50 = +139
Ray +10, +31, +40, +14, -66, || –, –, –, — = +29
Noda +32, -42, -28, +77, -66, || –, –, –, — = -27
Neil -13, -25, -36, +23, (–), || +3, -43, –, –, = -91
David -44,* +4, -35, +7, (–), || -55, -33, -35, -11,* = -202

* Yakitori
** Chombo

The jaws of the Grand Accumulated Points Table are closing! The current top player performed the worst, the current bottom player performed the best tonight. Kenyon’s recovery puts him on the same number of points as Hide, but as Kenyon as played more games his batting average is not so bad so he moves off the bottom. David sets a new “worst result” record but manages to stay top; Noda drops back to 3rd place; Jaime gets back in the black; Neil enters the fray in 8th place and Ray improves his situation in fourth.

David Hurley