This morning DFWM Founder Donnie Clark appeared on Good Morning Texas along with club members Scott Clark, Jade Clark, and Maranda Lombardi.
On Wednesday, May 16, players from DFW Mahjong will be appearing in a short segment on Dallas based morning show, Good Morning Texas! The show airs on WFAA channel 8, an ABC network, from 9 A.M. to 10 A.M., so tune in for the brief appearance!
Yoroshiku onegai shimasu (よろしくおねがいします)
If you have ever played a hanchan of riichi mahjong with Japanese players or other traveled individuals, especially in formal play, you have likely seen players bow to each other at the table saying, “yoroshiku onegai shimasu,” before beginning the game. This formal opening is carried over from Japan, where social harmony is woven into the fabric of the culture. The words are a quintessential Japanese phrase that is difficult to directly translate to English, as the meaning implies a host of sentiment and manners that vary based on context. The general idea, in the context of mahjong, roughly translates to, “thank you for your time, nice to meet you, I am excited for our game, and will do my best.”
Not only does this show manners and respect towards your opponents, but it is also a promise to bring your best game to the table. I want to dig into this, as well as how it dovetails into good manners at the table.
An anecdote was recently related to me about a player who spent a good amount of time between their own turns chatting with others outside the game or was distracted by their phone. At the end of the hanchan, an opponent at the table said to them, “That was a good game. Too bad you missed it.” Nobody wants to compete for a victory that feels empty because an opponent phoned it in. What satisfaction is there in the challenge if other players, regardless of their skill level, didn’t make any effort to truly participate? Through either negligence or intent, that player is sending a message to the others which says, “you aren’t worth my time or effort”.
Respect at the mahjong table is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Four players convene in a common place at a given time, each armed with the sum of their own experience. Each offers and receives an opportunity to test their own skill against those of their opponents, as well as an chance to learn and improve. Poor sportsmanship, bad manners, or a half-hearted effort not only deprives ALL players of an opportunity to improve, but also cheapens the experience.
If you play mahjong, you owe it to yourself and those you play with to offer respect, good manners, and a strong effort.
The most immediate way to be respectful at the table is with your manners. There are a number of conventions in riichi mahjong intended to formalize manners:
Where possible, play with only one hand. There are extremes to this one (google games between Japanese pros and watch how they handle tiles) and players are going to vary in dexterity, but the spirit behind it is draw your tile and discard with one hand. This shows the table that you aren’t up to any possible shenanigans.
Play your discard before putting your drawn tile into your hand. The next player can’t start their turn until your discard hits the table. It is considered rude to make the whole table wait while you shuffle and rearrange tiles when this can easily happen while it is not your turn. Draw. Discard. Then sort.
Put away potential distractions. There is quite possibly nothing more frustrating to a player than consistently reminding someone that it is their turn, or repeatedly being asked, “what was your discard?” Putting a nose into a smartphone or holding a conversation on the side is not only distracting to other players, but says to the table, “this isn’t worth my attention.” Stow the phone and hold the conversation for a break. Use the time to look over your hand and consider possible discards. Speaking of which…
Know your potential discards. The shape of a hand can change quickly based on the draw, and sometimes a few extra moments are needed to consider this new information. But if the table is consistently waiting on you to choose a discard after your draw, you aren’t using your time wisely and the rest of the table is paying for it. The time between your last discard and your next draw should be used to evaluate your hand and consider what you might discard if you drew x. You’ll generally have a better idea what you’re about, the game can proceed quickly, and you’re showing a healthy respect for the time of the other players.
Be gracious when winning or losing. Nothing says “poor sport” like storming away from a table having lost, or gloating over your victory having won. While it feels superb to win a hanchan, if everyone has brought their best game to the table, then everyone walks away with something valuable.
Thank your opponents for a game well played. Win or lose, if everyone played their best, everyone had the opportunity to learn something. Thank the table for the challenge and opportunity.
What other conventions in manners do you know and use at the table?
DFWM is returning to the Japanese Garden at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden this weekend for their Spring Festival. Fall was our first visit and we had a great time meeting and teaching everyone that stopped to see us. We look forward to another successful weekend.
Fort Worth Botanical Garden
3300 Japanese Garden Ln
Fort Worth, TX 761076
April 28 & 29 10am – 5pm
Admission: Adults $12, Children 4-12 $4
Last post I shared some tips on reading suji, and received a surprising amount of positive feedback. Thank you to those that took time to read it, and I’m happy to know that these tips are helping your gameplay.
I am back to share some additional information. I got feedback that I should cover techniques that have not yet been discussed in the limited resources already available in English, so I am going through them to figure out what information would be fresh and new.
However, I expect this to take time, so please be patient. If there are any topics that you feel needs more coverage, I would appreciate suggestions.
Meanwhile, I will dive further into the topic of suji.
If you remember the last posting, the suji number groupings were 1-4-7, 2-5-8, and 3-6-9.
By reading Omote-suji (Front Suji) and Naka-Suji (Center Suji), you now know how to look for anpais. However, it is all too common that your hands do not have any anpais, or you have a good hand and you do not want to fold.
Out of the many not-safe-tiles (which are essentially everything other than anpais) it is important to know which tiles are more likely to be the other player’s winning tile. If the tile that you wish to discard is highly likely to be the winning tile, you may want to reconsider the option to fold.
Today I am sharing some additional ways to utilize suji to find kikenhais 危険牌– Danger tiles. Note that this skill again assumes that the other player has a two-sided wait (ryanmen.) This technique is useful and worth studying, but it is a theoretical concept and should not be heavily relied on in your playing.
Ura-suji: translates to “Back Suji”. When a player discards a number tile, the neighboring number and its suji is dangerous. For example, if a player discards a 1p, the 2p (following number) and 5p (suji of 2p in the 2-5-8 grouping) are dangerous.
How do we know? Let’s look at the tiles from the player’s perspective. If you had a 1p-3p (kanchan wait), then drew a 4p, you would discard the 1p and hold a 3p-4p for a better wait. Now you have a two-sided wait on 2p and 5p, the ura-suji of the discarded 1p.
This pattern applies all across the number tiles, but discards higher than 5 should look at the lower neighbor. If the discard was a 8m, the 7m (next of discard) and 4m (suji of 7m in the 1-4-7 grouping) are dangerous. From the player’s point-of-view, if you had a 6m-8m, then drew a 5m, you would discard 8m and change this into a two-sided wait. As a result you have 5m-6m and the winning tiles are 4m and 7m.
1 2 & 5
2 3 & 6
3 4 & 7
4 5 & 8
5 1, 4, 6, & 9
6 2 & 5
7 3 & 6
8 4 & 7
9 5 & 8
These skills are most applicable towards the tiles discarded on or a few turns before riichi (or dama tenpai if you can tell!), because the players are more likely to start organizing the tile groups into a preferred two-sided wait as they get closer to tempai.
For several reasons, I find it alarming when a person discards a 5. First, it has the most kikenhais: 1, 4, 6, 9. Why so many? Because the discarded 5 does not give away whether the player is holding the lower numbers or higher numbers.
For example, the player may have had 3-5, then drew a 2. He discards 5, resulting in a 2-3 two-sided wait for a 1 or 4. He also could have had a 5-7, then drew a 8. He discards 5, resulting in 7-8 two-sided wait for a 6 or 9. This is virtually impossible to tell, and I will need to look for more hints.
Second, WHEN the 5 is discarded will provide different information. Generally, the center tile 5 connects easily with others and is a tile that most people hold on to in the beginning. If the 5 is discarded in the beginning, there is a high chance that the player is or is close to tempai, and the 2-3 or 7-8 wait is ready in place. Given the possibility of chanta and an extra han, the 1 or 9 tile will need to be handled with care.
On the other hand, if the 5 is discarded in the middle or towards the end of the game, there is a high chance that the matagi-suji 3-6 and 4-7 are dangerous. As discussed above, people are more likely to hold longer on to a 5. Thus, it is common for the hand to develop into the shape of 455 or 556. Then later, at tempai, the 5 is discarded for a 4-5 or 5-6 two-sided wait.
During a recent game review with LAPOM Riichi Mahjong Group らぽん, I believe Nima mentioned that one of the pros shared this idea in a video. I forgot the pro’s name and don’t know where to find this video, but if someone can locate it maybe I can help translate that part of the discussion.
Matagi-suji is a topic I haven’t covered, but is available for reading at the following website: https://osamuko.com/umaikeiki-defense-guide-betaori-and-su…/
If it needs to be discussed more in depth, I’d be happy to.
I hope this helps. Happy Riichi!
It has taken a couple days to get this post up to close the 2018 DFWM Riichi Open. I’m so sorry! I came home from the event a little sick and didn’t have much energy to futz with blog posts and updates.
Congratulations, Masahiro Yeahata (CA) of LAPOM, for this crashing late-tourney win. Masa finished day 1 in 12th place. A first place win in hanchan 5, the first game on Sunday, helped close the gap to the top 8. But in a stunning win 6th hanchan win, immediately before the semi-final cut, Masa raked in 94.3 points, shooting to the top of the standings and bumping returning champion Tina Koshimoto (TX) to 2nd!
Tina K. and Hirotaka Takeuchi (IL) topped their semi-final table, with Masahiro and David Bresnick (NY) placing first and second at their table, beating out tournament hopeful Jarid Earnest (FL) for seats in the final four.
After a tense final round, Masahiro came out on top, though points at the table were very close – Hirotaka was less than 6,000 points behind for second, David B. in third, and Tina K. only 1,100 points behind him for fourth.
This was an exciting tournament that drew riichi players from all over the U.S. and Canada (thank you Grant and Mason for making the cross-border journey!) At the end of the day, Masahiro kept his first place position, and Tina had enough points banked throughout the tournament to place second, pushing Hirotaka to third.
There were other notable performances throughout the tournament. Jarid Earnest (FL) seemed a sure challenger for first at the end of day 1. James Bragg (CO) and DFW newcomer Thomas Graham (TX) put up some strong points and were in contention for the top 8, but were ultimately held back by a significant loss in an early game. (Final rankings posted below.)
Saturday night, following the day’s hanchan, fourteen attendees and staff went to Lewisville for a fun night at 1 Hour to Escape where they hosted us in a large room dubbed The Ruins. We solved the room in just 33:36, approximately 5 minutes shy of the room record. It was a fun night, and it was really great getting a chance to talk to all of these different people outside of the tournament.