Friday 27th July: Noda is a Dead Parrot!

David was joined by Ray at Kemby’s for some preliminary tuck, and double rations of beer as it was Happy Hour.

Noda’s Golfing Holiday…
Ray expatiated over the beer on the theme of arranging a holiday for Noda. Noda is a fanatical golfer. A few months ago Jaime was given the task of organising a golfing trip for him around New Zealand. Just recently Ray was commissioned with the task of organising a similar trip around Ireland. Noda, being Japanese, doesn’t get much in the way of holidays, but being Japanese, he sets about to squeeze as much manic activity into each and every day as possible. Thus, in a seven day trip, Noda and his chums are planning to play golf on a different golf course in a different part of Ireland every single day. No Irish travel agent has ever been burdened with such a challenge. Eventually, a driver was tracked down who was willing to follow the Japanese schedule and drive the Noda party around the emerald Isle. The gruelling schedule will see Noda and friends march off the 18th hole and into their mini-bus and then get driven several hundred kilometres to the next venue where, the following day they will be up at the crack of dawn, or Dawn’s crack – if you prefer the Saxon genitive – and thrashing their way around another of those lush Irish courses, with no time to linger for any Irish blarney. The final day’s golf will be followed by a 200 mile drive to the vicinity of the airport, then they’ll have to get up at 4am or something and jump on a connecting flight to Amsterdam. Naturally there will be no time to taste the pleasures of that sinful city as they will have to get straight onto their intercontinental flight back to Nippon. All of the aforementioned will be conducted in a haze of Guinness, whiskey and dodgy oriental rice alcohol, I don’t doubt…

Anway, back to tonight’s events, David had assured Jaime that tonight’s mahjong session would begin at 7pm, but that began to look optimistic once Ray’s mega chicken sarny with chips and salad had arrived with barely fifteen minutes left on the clock!

Then Kenyon joined us, and as only a few minutes of Happy Hour remained there was some debate as to whether or not he’d get double portions of booze, and if so, whether or not he – being more of a sipper than a swiller – would get it down the hatch in time… Now that Kemby’s have introduced a ticket system for every second Happy Hour drink it was noted both that Kenyon wasn’t given a ticket and that he didn’t ask for one! Had Tim been around (or Allan, r.i.p.), the missing ticket would have been procured and the free beer divvied up. Is the issuing of tedious tickets connected with the recent shutting down of the free booze stamp-cards? It used to be the case that you could get a free beer once so many stamps had been stamped into a little booklet. Tim used to get about five free beers a week. But suddenly, in a fit of shortsighted stingyness, Kemby’s withdrew the scheme; and now we get issued with silly little tickets to claim our Happy Hour beer… Hmm. Suppose we should be thankful that Happy Hour exists at all!

Nevertheless, our not bothering with Kenyon’s missing beer at least sped things up a bit and we were just 15 minutes late for the start of the mahjong at the old Kodama mahjong parlour.

As there were five of us we agreed to draw lots and Kenyon sat out of the first game and observed David playing a fairly laid back game and keeping out of trouble as Jaime established an early lead at the expense of Ray and Noda. When David declared an early Riichi with a one tile (9-Coins) wait, Kenyon made bold to declare that Noda would pip him to the post so David took the liberty of peeping at Noda’s hand and was amused to see that it was about five tiles away from Tenpai, leaving plenty of time for Ray to do him the courtesy of giving away the 9-Coins!

As David was the second placed player at the end of the first game he and Kenyon switched places and roles for the second game. Kenyon and David differ in their style of play but the result was similar, with Kenyon finishing in second place and Jaime once again taking the game. This time, however, Ray had got himself into the black in third place so Noda took all the punishment, and if I remember rightly, grumbled a bit when he was caught out by Kenyon on a tile that – ah, much abused phrase – “ought to have been safe”!

By now Hidé had arrived so we set up a second table and drew tiles. Ray was left on the original table with Noda and Hidé, while David, Jaime and Kenyon set up shop around the table in the far corner.

If Ray had blanched somewhat at being left to fend for himself on the Japanese table, his misgivings were misplaced. It was at this point in the evening that the famous “Ray Revival” took place. He strung together the best combination of game scores for the evening so that when the “Ray Slump” (i.e. the “Hidé revival”) hit it still left him on a big enough positive result for the evening to carry him back into the black on the Grand Accumulated Points Chart! His third-game victory was almost entirely at Noda’s expense and his fourth-game victory was charged to Hidé’s account, along with the Yakitori that was still left sitting on his side of the table.

The result of that superb performance was that Noda had sunk back into the red for the first time in several weeks. Noda’s assault on first place, which had threatened and yet not delivered for some time, was killed off tonight. I don’t doubt he’ll be back soon, resurrected and terrible as an army with banners and all that, but for the time being at least, Noda is a dead parrot despite his modest fourteen point revival over the last two games.

Meanwhile, over on the foreigners’ table, the third game saw each player completing several big hands. First Jaime took 24,000 off Kenyon, then Kenyon took it back, then David took 18,000 points off Kenyon. I think it was at this stage when Kenyon declared Ron when Jaime set aside the Pei and turned over the hidden part of his hand to reveal Daisuushi. (Pei is a Bonus, or Dora in the three-player game because there is no “North” player – a player can go out when somebody else sets aside a North bonus tile if it completes Kokushimusou, or Dai/Shosuushi – Big or Little Four Winds.)

However, the game went to David and was enough to see him avoid defeat for the evening although he finished modestly down in the last three games.

As a rule, David needs to win early to mid evening because Kenyon tends to get his game together as the night progresses. It all comes back down to swilling and sipping. Your swiller thrives on early inspiration (and the occasional very late “don’t-ask-me-how double-vision victory”) whereas your sipper is all fingers and thumbs in the beginning but retains a clear head for the later play. Your middling slurper, however, such as Jaime, for example, might well find himself becalmed in the latter stages of a mahjong session.

Thus it was tonight, that David, after the inspiration of the third, declined through the fourth, fifth and sixth, but only at a moderate to match his relatively moderate swilling. Jaime lost his early slurping inspiration and his final four games cancelled each other out.

Kenny-boy, on the other hand, continued to fiddle-faddle around until the last game. Ah, the last game! There was Kenyon discarding Bamboo like billy-oh. David idly supposed that Kenyon was planting a bamboo forest and so he merrily developed his own hand by discarding Character tiles, Winds and Dragons. Jaime had the deeper insight and suspected a cunning attempt at Kokushimusou, but nevertheless tried to squeeze out the 9-Bamboo – David looked at it with some surprise, thinking it risky to throw such a tile to Kenyon’s Bamboo hand. Indeed, Kenyon promptly turned over a completed hand – Kokushimusou! Kenyon, for his part, had supposed that David had known what he was up to and had been supposing that he was not ready!

Kenyon’s last game revival brought him back into the black for the evening, and as a result, all four foreigners forged forward. David moved up modestly, but with Noda’s big loss and despite Jaime’s return to triple figures, some space once again opened up between first and second and third places. Noda fell four places into the red. Ray got himself back into the black but Kenyon’s modest gain was not enough to get him off the bottom of the table. Hide’s loss was relatively small and he drops below his father-in-law into ninth place.

Jaime +42, +47, -19, +28, +22, -36 = +84
Ray -25, +2, +51, +60, -54, — = +34
David +9, –, +48, -7, -14, -17 = +19
Kenyon –, +11, -29, -21, -8, +53 = +6
Hidé –, –, -1, -67,* +47, — = -21
Noda -26, -60, -50, +7, +7, — = -122

Hiroshima Sunday Blues Football Update

Last Sunday DEH played FC Dynamo on a brand spanking new astro-turf pitch near Hatsukaichi. We were down 2-0 at the end of the first half. Then the two foreigners came on in the second half, Jaime up front and David right back. It was a classic game, one of the best to be involved in. Jaime has written a report of our great 3-3 come-back over at Hiroshima Sunday Blues.

David Hurley