Friday 2nd May: The Mahjong Ashes

In Affectionate Remembrance,
Gaijin Mahjong which died at Kodama,
2nd May, 2008
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing
Friends and acquaintances.
NB – the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Noda’s house.
The fat lady has now retired. If it was over last week, the race for the title is obsolete after this week’s play as Noda’s lead now stretches to 804 points. Nobody else resides in the black and at the current price of points it is going to be a marathon trundle till the tape in December.
The first game in May was a very long night, painful for two, financially rewarding for one. Eight games were played and Noda finished in the early hours with over 4000 nestling in his increasingly bulging wallet. Kenyon was the most pained and left with his own purse somewhat lighter after shelling out 4180 onto the green baize. Jaime, who at times looked down at an empty tray and an additional debt of a small African nation, somehow succeeded in forking out only 250.
There was an intriguing moment that I think leads to a conclusive judgement on how seriously Noda sometimes plays MJ with us green gaijin. At the end of the 5th game of the night, Jaime was leading incredibly on +39, Kenyon was down a tad on -28 and Noda had slipped from +80 to -11. Upon hearing the news Noda was now in the red, he ordered another shou-chu and stated that he should “concentrate more”. The result? Oh but a trifling turnaround of 172 points in 3 games including the brutal 6th when he gleaned 104 points and the horrific 7th where he triumphed with only 97 points. Maybe we shouldn’t have told him he was losing….
Those 6th and yth games of the night were bloody for Kenyon and Jaime, both at times having nothing to relieve themselves with (not even a pot, although Jaime had decided alcohol would suffice as an antidote, but Kenyon resolutely stuck to Georgia’s finest) and both with debts pushing triple figures. Ryanshii was common; including a comical oyaship of Jaime’s which saw 9 green hyaku tenbo in his corner. The only problem being that he had only managed to win two of them, the rest resulting from careful / blind luck defensive play. Ultimately Jaime suffered from a Noda ron choosing the one dangerous tile (and only wait for Noda) to relieve him of 32,000 points. What can you do?
Bizarrely the final game of the night concluded with an orange skewered sparrow in Noda’s right hand corner. The man who had finished on +161 somehow had managed to go a complete game with winning once. The joy of mahjong some might philosophically conclude…
Noda +51 +29 -11 -63 -17 +104 +97 -29* +161
Jaime -12 -18 -20 +71 +18 -52 -30 +28 -15
Ken -39 -11 +31 -8 -1 -52 -67 +1 -146