Sunday, June 25, 2006

Friday 23rd June: How Noda Disqualifies Our Excuses...

When you find yourself in a losing streak, such as my losing streak this quarter, you search around for excuses... Unfortunately, as this latest mahjong session amply demonstrated, all excuses are invalidated by Noda.

Excuse no 1: I got drunk.

The Noda Disqualification: Noda regularly wins while drunk...

Excuse no 2: I am knackered because I have had a busy week...

The Noda Disqualification: Noda's working day starts just as early as yours, if not earlier, and today it included a business trip by car to a city three hours drive away from here...

Excuse no 3: It's the World Cup...

The Noda Disqualification: Noda got up at 3:30am this morning to watch Japan get eliminated from the World Cup by Brazil. Then he went to work etc....

Excuse no 4: Mahjong is simply a game of chance and I have been unlucky...

The Noda Disqualification: If it were simply a game of chance then Noda would stand as much chance of going into the red as the rest of us, but he has been in the black all year and in either second or first place, mostly first...

Mind you, even Noda has his losing periods, as in the last quarter of 2005...

Ah yes!
The Hirohurl Law of the Quarters! Omnia Tempus Habent. To every thing in this transient life there is, as Solomon sayeth, a season, and this is not the Poor Little Cypriot's season for mahjong... In Q1 I did well; Q1 was my quarter, but in Q2 I have suffered loss upon loss and none has given me quarter. Roll on Q3!

The first game was entirely Jaime's affair. Noda did enough to get rid of his Yakitori but over in the Poor Little Cypriot's seat absolutely sod all was coming together and his Yakitori remained glued to the table.

The first game was the only one that Jaime won, but it was enough to keep him in the black and help him progress up the table.

The PLC eventually won a game but that was not enough to redeem the evening's losses.

Despite all that it was a thoroughly entertaining evening. Perhaps for the first time ever, each game produced just a single winner, and that tells a story in its own right...

Games won: Jaime 1, David 1, Noda 4.

The last three of those games went on to the West round so things were not as one sided as the results suggest.

The PLC was sunk chiefly by three events - the Yakitori in the first game, Jaime's Kokushimusou in the second game, completed by Tsumo while the PLC was Oya
and the PLC's stubborn discarding of the 6-Bamboo rather than break up a Tenpai hand while Oya when both Noda and Jaime had declared Riichi. That was a reckless play which proved to be costly when both players declared Ron!!

Shortly after the PLC had got stung Noda threw out a tile (I forget which) and was stung by double Ron himself - so the PLC got some of his cash back and managed to finish the game on +40.

Jaime and Noda committed a Chombo each during the course of the evening. Jaime had declared three open Pon only to discover when he went to draw a tile on his next turn that he already had five tiles in his hand.

Noda's Chombo was just as farcical but I forget the details... It was almost certainly induced by the Japanese alcohol he was imbibing at a steady rate throughout the evening....

...which reminds me, there was a spectacular off-table "Chombo" committed by Jaime who had bought a beer on the strength of his first game victory and then sent it flying off the side table and smashing to the floor with an Italianesque elbow jab.

We changed seats twice using Noda's esoteric tile-shuffling formula. This was followed up by Noda's comical inability to count up to one when he cast the die and supposed that Jaime was the starting Oya...

Having had a late lunch, David did not order his usual yakimeshi.
As the "potato salad incident" of last week intimates, it is not always necessary to do so as Mama sometimes serves up some pretty substantial side dishes when you order a drink. Tonight's treat was cured pork on a salad bed. Ah well, lost mula at the table but saved mula on the grub front; a score draw, lost on penalties!

Noda -30, +33, +28, +34,3 -30,4 +16 = +51
Jaime +84, -24,2 -13,3 -10, -10 = +14
David -54,1 -9, -15, -21, +40,4 -6 = -65

Double Ron payout

David Hurley
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Friday 16th June: Gaijin Shuffle

After a couple of weeks in which no mahjong was played at all, the four regular players met up at Kodama on Friday night to resume battle.

Noda, who has shed a few points in recent encounters, racked up an early lead finishing the only winner on +46. Jaime took all the punishment in the first game and most of it in the second.

David turned up during the West round of the first game and was able to consume a plate of yakimeshi while sitting apart from the fray.

Tim also popped in and sat at the table and the conversation turned to the World Cup which may account in part for Noda's emergence in the West round as the only winner since he took no part in that lively discussion, most of which probably went right over his head.

What emerged from that conversation was a confession by Kenyon to a fondness for the Italian team, second only to his support for the USA. I write this report the day after the game between the USA and Italy during which "
De Rossi disgraced himself with a sickening, needless elbow on Brian McBride" (BBC). Much as I love Italy and am fond of the Italian people, the Italian football team has never had any appeal for me so I was pleased to see America hold on for the draw. Meanwhile in the same group Ghana beat the Czech Republic two-nil scoring a fine goal in the opening seventy seconds. After watching the inability of the American team to penetrate the Czech defences in their opening game, and having seen the effectiveness of the Czech attack - they beat America three-nil - I had been telling people how impressed I was with their performance. But, as Jaime pointed out, their team consists of a lot of old timers. Facing a team with more panache' than the USA their weaknesses were revealed. Ghana, on the other hand, so wasteful in their game against Italy, seemed to have learnt from their mistakes and battled their way back into contention. I hope Ghana go through.

Anyway, back to mahjong. Tim headed off to Kulcha to watch the first game of the evening (Argentina versus Serbia and Montenegro) and David took his place at the table and ordered his second beer for the evening. Mama brought the beer and a dish loaded up with potato salad which David offered to Kenyon who wolfed it down to earn himself a new sobriquet, id est Ningen-soujiki (human vacuum-cleaner).

The other notable event of that game was Jaime's fifth chombo of the year. It was effectively two Chombos in one. After going "Pon" a couple of times Jaime changed his hand so that it was no longer a Toitoi hand. Apparently he thought he was safe because he had a set of three Winds. Ignorning the fact that the Wind triple was claimed Atozuke and that that Wind (West in this case) was neither Jaime's Wind nor the Table Wind he proceed to go out on a run of three.

In the last hand of the game the Ningen-soujiki went out thereby pipped the Poor Little Cypriot to the top spot.

Jaime, who had now lost 100 points, put in a strong request for a change of seats and so Noda led David through the arcane procedure that is the Noda-method of allocating new seats and which will one day be added as a supplement to the rules over at but which for now remains a mystery. The result was that the Ningen-soujiki occupied what had been the Poor Little Cypriot's seat while he moved to the right and Noda occupied what had been the Ningen-soujiki's seat. The only player who did not move was - much to his chagrin - Jaime!

However, the pattern for this quarter has tended to be one in which Kenyon makes the early running at Jaime's expense and then Jaime spends the second half of the evening turning around his early losses, irrespective of whether he changes seat or not and tonight was no exception to that tendency although the losses were distributed liberally among the other players until the last game...

Several subterfuges were resorted to during the course of the middle games. First of all Jaime kept up a barrage of World Cup Trivia questions with which to distract Kenyon, questions such as:

"Which coach has played most World Cup games?"

David tried a similar ploy on Noda-san by chanting a famous terrace chant and asking Noda how to translate it into Japanese, which perplexed him immensely as he protested that that was not the sort of thing that a Japanese man would say to a girl. The chant we were studying was:

Get you tits out, get your tits out,
Get your tits out for the lads,
Get your tits out for the lads.
David proposed that the first clause might best be translated thus:
Oppai dashite, oppai dashite...

However, feeling that the essential tone of the chant was hardly conveyed by such standard fare he gave it a bit of a tweaking and came up with a much improved version, thus:
Oppai daseyo, oppai daseyo...
The next question was how best to translate the second clause. An initial sally yielded up the following:
...bokutachi no tame ni.

Variations were suggested, but the final version went thus:

Oppai daseyo, oppai daseyo,
Bokura no tame ni
Bokura no tame ni
As a ploy it proved most effective indeed as it became evident to everybody but Noda that Noda had got distracted and somehow reduced his hand to twelve tiles. His was an open hand, but even so it took him a long time to notice his blunder!

Mind you, that was not the first time that a player had found his hand reduced to twelve tiles. David, who rarely spends an evening at the table without at some stage reducing his hand to twelve tiles, had earlier got distracted by the World Cup talk and failed to pick up a tile from the back of the wall after declaring a Dora. Kenyon was urging David to play aggressively so either he had not noticed or he was engaged in a cunning ploy...

Noda called it a night and headed for home where Bogey, his dog, awaited him.

Going into the last game of the evening, each of us had a reasonable chance of finishing the evening in the black. This proved to be a long game. We began it at about ten minutes after midnight thinking that we would be able to make it to Kulcha for the start of the Holland-Ivory Coast game. However, it took an hour to polish off the game, by which time Kenyon had secured a big enough win to claim top spot for the evening and move up another place on the ladder, as did Jaime, both at the expense of the Poor Little Cypriot, who dropped two places.

Right now, Noda is way out in front and the three foreigners are all in double figures and separated by no more than nine points...

The reckoning:

Kenyon +12, +37, -17, -20, +34 = +46
Noda +46, -8, +6, -19, -- = +25
Jaime -58, -42, +32, +53, -12 = -27
David --, +13, -21, -14, -22 = -44

The three of us headed over to Kulcha to join Tim who had invested in some 100yen wooden elephants with which to bait Dutch Alex. The elephants were corralled behind a beer glass when Alex treated us all to silky shot of something or other after each Dutch goal, but they emerged once again when "
Kone waltzed past two Dutch defenders before unleashing a stunning drive that flew into Edwin van der Sar's top corner - incredibly the first goal in competitive internationals the Manchester United stopper has conceded since October 2004." (BBC)

After the game Alex asked me what music I wanted to hear so I requested some Ska. It just so happened that Alex was dead keen on The Specials, so we indulged in a lengthy session of Nutty Dancing which has left me with the biggest blisters ever on my big toes!

The three mahjong players left the bar after 3am. Tim was sleeping on the couch.

I caught a taxi home and the driver enthused most of the way home about England and English and so forth. The bill came to 2,980 yen or something. I gave him a 10,000 yen note and he rummaged around for a while and then gave me 7,000 yen in change and said "Saabisu" as if he was giving me a discount. It was only while hobbling the last few yards home that I realized that it was me who had given him "Saabisu"...

David Hurley
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