Last week Tim popped in for a beer on his way to Kulcha and he was here again tonight getting a buzz out of the noise of the tiles and the constant movement and shifts of the game even though he was sat at the table as a guest and spectator and not a player.
It certainly made for a lively first game as gossip was exchanged and good grub was served up. Mama makes simply the best Yakimeshi/egg&miso soup set that I have had anywhere. You get a large portion of steaming hot fried rice with a pleasing amount of oil in it – neither too dry nor too greasy so that when you stick your spoon into it, it gives but does not collapse; it yields up a stonking spoonful of nosh that does not spill all over the place and that can be delivered with one hand while the other is busily occupying itself with the tiles and, as it so happened tonight, with throwing in “Riichi” sticks and with turning over the tiles of another completed hand.
It had been a long and tiring day. After a night of being kicked around my futon a certain 3yo, I spent the morning listening to student “presentations” before offering them a presentation of my own: the finer points of the grammar and syntax of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, as for example, what occurs if the word “looked” is exchanged for “looking” in the sentence:
“Peter never stopped running or looked behind him till he got home,”
I spent the afternoon in the library trying not to be distracted by an obnoxious brat of a Japanese-Australian girl who was stomping around between her computer terminal and the printer while spitting fucks into her mobile phone.
I weighed up the worth of going over and handling her as the Duke of Albany handled Goneril:
“Shut your mouth, dame, Or with this paper I will stop it.”
The dear deceased paternal grandfather would have done so. He used to tear strips off malefactors for his recreation; we never used to cease from wondering at how he did it – and how it never failed to do the trick; surly shopkeepers turned into “silly ducking observants”; sullen civil servants forced to comply with the rules of civility; wayward children soundly admonished and reduced to quiet complicity. He carried authority about with him. I decided not to try and emulate him, but to be like my Dad and keep Mum!
I spent the early evening over coffee in the staff room while a couple of students who had missed the mornings “presentations” because of infurenza came and made their excuses. Apparently, infurenza is a virus so awful in its debilitating effects that suffering students are rendered too ill to attend classes, but have just enough vitality to be able to float around campus all day with their friends.
It was now time for another round of Peter Rabbit, delivered this time to the last TOEFL class of term, which only four students attended. They persuaded me that the unheated classroom was too cold to study in and suggested that we relocate to a presentation room in the library. Topping idea; the library is not only warmer and more salubrious (despite the occasional intrusions of sluttish and foul-mouthed hussies), it is also farther down the hill and so closer to the bus stop which meant that I was able to catch the 7:40 bus into town despite letting the class run late, an unheard of occurrence until now and testimony to the power of Beatrix Potter’s prose.
And so it was that I arrived deadbeat at the parlour, but that Mama’s Yakimeshi and a beer with Tim had such a reviving effect upon my constitution that I found myself to be ahead of the game and up by over 100 points.
At that point Tim left for Kulcha (we presume) and cheerfully announced that he was taking my luck with him – which proved to be correct as Noda, whose tray had been empty, went on a winning run and Jaime also nicked a bit back so that I finished albeit the only winner of the first game, but on +47 rather than +147. Noda had clawed back about 50,000 points from me in the first game. He then went on to win the second and the third by over 50 points each. Jaime found himself unable to complete Tempai hands, but he was most Stoical about it as if it was he and not me who had been reading Justus Lipsius’ “De Constantia” over the past week or so:
“Our minds must be so confirmed and conformed,
that we may be at rest in troubles,
and have peace in the midst of war.”
He was put most severely to the test on his eight-dora (bonus tile) wait that went up in smoke when Noda completed a hand, and he was tried sorely when he was Tenpai on Kokushimusou, waiting for the 9-Bamboo. Noda, who had a 9-Bamboo that he would have thrown had the 6-Bamboo slotted in to upgrade his hand by one Yaku with Tanyao (no 1s and 9s), suddenly got the tile he needed to reveal a reasonable hand. David had also been merrily throwing out 1s, 9s, Winds and Dragons thinking that a lot had been thrown already (Jaime’s discard row nicely disguised his Kokushimusou with 2 x 1-Coin, 1 x Green Dragon and 1 x 1-Bamboo).
It got down to the last hand of the third game before David got rid of his Yakitori – but it went. However, Jaime racked up another Chombo in exactly the same manner as he managed last week, and both times off David’s discarded 9. Jaime had a hidden set of Winds, but neither his nor the table’s and he neglected to go Riichi but was hasty in declaring Ron, which turned a payout from David into a much needed windfall from Jaime! A few hands later, Jaime declared “Ron” on a 5-Coins discarded by David, who was Oya. I asked him what he’d been waiting for and when he said “Fives and Eights” I pointed at the 8-Coins in his discard pile – but it happened that he was waiting with two heads: 5-Coins & 8-Bamboo! No Chombo!
It began to look as if Noda would be unstoppable but in the last game he carelessly discarded the 1-Coins which happened to be the Bonus Tile for that game and Jaime declared “Ron” and took 16,000 off him. Noda was mortified to have given away so much cash when he wasn’t even Tempai!
By this time the only other group of players, who had been smoking out the parlour, left. Mama complained profusely about their smoking habits as she busied herself cleaning up the mess.
David, now on his fourth beer for the evening had a revival of fortunes, suggesting that bad play and beer and tiredness are not necessarily connected (pace Doctor Mogami)!
Play wound up at 11pm and we can confirm that the Noda revival is underway.
Noda -1, +58, +51, -20 = +88
David +42, -14, -45, +44 = +27
Jaime -41, -44, -6, -24 = -115
According to the Grand Accumulated Results Table, the rankings now follow order of seniority, which is just as it ought to be! Noda is now the runaway leader, with David moving out of the red and up into second place. Jaime has slipped from top to third but is still in the black on the year. Ray, who has been keeping a low profile so far this year, is breaking even on 0 points with 0 games played. That leaves Eri and Kenyon propping the table up, their scores unchanged as they did not play today.
However, we shall be able to start play earlier next Friday as university term has come to an end…