Monday, February 18, 2008

Jaime Ties The Knot

It is Monday morning, and I think I have recovered. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were spent celebrating Jaime's wedding. Activities included golf, bowling, mahjong, cigars, booze, the wedding ceremony itself and the reception at the Rihga-Royal Hotel, and parties at three bars: Kembys, Kulcha and Plasir, as well as regular trips to the sauna and bath-house to recover from one event and prepare for the next. 

The only activity that seems to be missing from the list is football, but the chief players of the DEH team showed up in force at Plasir and the young, skillful and good looking bachelors (i.e. the Japanese players) swiftly attracted the attention of the several attractive young women who were there ostensibly for Jaime & Sawako's nuptial celebrations, but mostly, it seems, to find themselves some young, fit, handsome Japanese bachelors...

A party of four headed up to Forest Hills Golf Club on a rather parky Thursday morning. The party consisted of Jaime, Tim (Jaime's friend from Barnsley who flew out to Japan to join the celebrations), Flynn (Jaime's 11 year old nephew), and David.

Here's a photo of Flynn just after topping his ball off the tee of the 13th, a par three hole with water on one side and a snow-filled bunker on the other side guarding the approach to the green. Flynn was playing his first ever game of golf, with a set of lady's clubs several sizes too big for him. In topping the ball he sent it straight between the obstacles and up onto the green where he potted it for his first par score. 

David did not bother to search among the trees for his ball, one of about twenty-five which went awol off the tee during the course of the day. Instead, he plopped another one of his diminishing store of balls onto the rough on the other side of the water to tap it onto the green for three, plus four putts before the wretched thing deigned to drop into the hole, for a score of seven. It was that hole (plus some creative counting, plus a whole series of dreadful scores) that sank David to bottom of the pile and enabled Flynn to claim his first adult scalp on a golf course!

However, in the first part of the evening entertainment, both Flynn and David were bested at the bowling by Connor, Flynn's younger brother.

After that the men headed over to Kemby's for Jaime's stag party. Kenyon and David took some time out of the party to show a chap called Rodri how to play 3-player mahjong and introduce him to the mysteries of the mechanical table. Rodri just happened to be passing through Hiroshima as part of a five-month world tour, and just happened to play mahjong back in England. Kodama was shut so we headed over to "Freelando" for a half-hour game consisting of three hands, the last of which was won by Rodri, who then had to rush back to his hostel before the gates shut at midnight.

Back at Kemby's it was time to move upstairs to Lone Ranger bar for cigars and whisky. At some stage Alex arrived and announced that he was opening up Kulcha for the rest of the night, so over there we all went - despite my resolution to fall into a taxi after Kemby's... Still, at least when I did finally get a taxi I didn't fall out of it as did Jaime's brother-in-law out of his.

We eased into Friday with a bath and sauna at 5pm and a quiet game of mahjong. Noda, Kenyon and David played three games before Jaime joined us for the fourth, with English and American Tim in attendance. 

The game followed recent form, with Noda and Jaime winning, David and Kenyon struggling. At first David looked like he would be the only sinker, but then Kenyon took over and sank swiftly while David managed a last game recovery. 

Jaime's game saw him enjoying some wedding luck and it concluded with an auspicious score of +13, his "lucky" number.

Noda +26, +21, +78, -27 = +98
Jaime --, --, --, +13 = +13
David -36, -20, -7, +35 = -28
Kenyon +10, -1, -71, -21 = -83

It had been hoped that Neil would be in town in time to play a game or two, but his arrival was delayed and by the time he got here the players had all agreed that an early night would be good and left when Noda did.

Finally, here is a pic of Jaime and Sawako on their way back down the aisle of the open-plan wedding chapel at the Rihga Royal on Saturday 16th Feb. Congratulations!

Jaime and Sawako's wedding, Rihga Royal Hotel, Hiroshima

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Friday 1st February: Jaime Back On Top!

Nobuhiro spent his free last week boning up on the rules of mahjong. He joined the four of us at Kodama midway through the evening. 

Midway. Hmm, an apposite allusion considering how the evening went for the Poor Little Cypriot. His aircraft scored some early hits, but unfortunately, his aircraft carriers were all sunk, and one of Kenyon's went down too. Noda went on a huge Oya-run in the second game, and Jaime, avoiding that assault, came in second on +45! Second! on +45!! At the end of the carnage TWO Yakitori tesserae were still sat on the table top - The Poor Little Cypriot's and the Young American's. 

The second game was the decisive game of the evening, but Jaime went on to win the third and fourth and gained a clear lead over Noda both for the evening and on the Grand Accumulated Results Table (+160 against +106).

We agreed to play a practice game to get Nobuhiro started. The game would not count on the GAR Table and there would be no exchange of shekels.

Kenyon and David therefore decided to adopt an all out offensive strategy, reasoning that it would probably lead to disaster, but best to get the bad luck over and done with at this stage and be ready for the turn of the tide in the fourth game! 

Nobuhiro had some of the best beginner's luck ever and won three or four hands on the trot, so David and Kenyon were quite happy with the way things were unfolding.

Then, a bit later on, in the third or fourth hand of his tenureship of the Oya, David had collected Shosangen and was Tenpai. Kenyon, seeing one Chun on the table threw the other and was surprised when David went out with Daisangen! As you can see from the photo, Kenyon has just handed David a large number of score sticks, yet it is Kenyon who has the smile on his face and David who looks pained to have gone out on Daisangen in a game that doesn't count on the score card!

Nobu did not fair too badly in the final game of the evening that got him onto the scorecard. He finished on -7, which puts him above both Kenyon (-19) and David (-30), oh and Ray too (-210)!!

Jaime -25, +45, +41, +30 = +91
Noda -9, +75, -32, -- = +34
Nobu --, --, --, --, -7
Kenyon -4, -34,* +3, -13 = -48
David +38, -86,* -12, -10 = -70

*Double Yakitori!!

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday 25th January: Introducing Nobuhiro!

A rather odd sight presented itself to the Japanese players at Kodama jansou on Friday evening - the sight of a JAPANESE fellow being taught the rules of JAPANESE mahjong by three JOHNNY FOREIGNERS.

I use the word "taught" rather loosely. Nobuhiro, for that is the name of our new Japanese friend, was served up a dog's dinner of chopped messes as one or another of the doughty GAIJIN players would reveal some arcane principle of the game as the situation arose in his hand, to the great detriment of the said player's performance in that particular instance of the game.

The explanations were concocted of a particularly ripe form of the gaijin version of "Japlish", namely, "Enganese". For the oldest gaijin member it bore an uncanny resemblance to those days of yore when he sat at the feet of the great Masters of the Game, Noda (champion, 2006 & 2007) and Satoru (retired) and puzzled at the Japlish explanations that regaled him as he struggled with such notable concepts such as "hands" needing "heads", "five" being "four" which is actually compounded of "two and one", of disappearing "Yaku" and "temporary winds" and Noda's esoteric seat allocation ritual (only recently grasped by the foreign players, and yet to be unveiled on the Internet)...

Still, Nobuhiro must have enjoyed himself as a report from Jaime, whose student he is, poor fellow, informs me that he went home and spent the weekend studying the game - which probably means he spent the weekend wading through, the doubly poor fellow!

Tonight's session saw Kenyon surge ahead to +97 during the first two games, largely at the expense of Noda. The word "lucky" that has not of late attached itself to the name of the youngest member, was given a renewed airing, particularly during the second game in which Jaime also began to suffer the slings and arrows and felt appropriately outraged about his fortune. David spent the first two games securely entrenched and sandbagged in his foxhole.

But then the seats were reallocated. Jaime moved over to David's seat, Noda to Jaime's, Kenyon to Noda's and David to Kenyon's, with Nobuhiro now in the unfortunate position of watching the two least inspired players struggle away - for the seat change changed fortunes and Jaime went on his mid-evening revival, while Noda found a secure hole to dive into, and Kenyon, winded from the heat of his charge, was unhorsed, while David was driven from his trench by the effects of the bottle, the distractions of education, and the rather accurate discharge of hostile ordnance. Jaime racked up several victories in a row as Oya, depleting David's reserves and forcing Ryanshi on him and Noda.

In the fourth game Jaime was joined in recovery by Noda, who won back all but five points of his deficit. Strangely enough, although David's game pretty much fell apart, it was Kenyon who suffered the biggest loss in the fourth. In David's case, at least, it was not the tiles but the player. It was during this game that David racked up the first Chombo of the year when he found himself struggling to make a hand out of 14 or 15 tiles, and when Kenyon, who was not actually in the game at the time, rather tiresomely intervened to declare the Chombo! Then, Jaime had once again declared Riichi. The 7-Coins was dangerous, but the 8-Coins was in Jaime's discard row, so David discarded the 8-Coins, or so he thought, and when Jaime declared, "Ron", David trumpeted,


But the other three were all adamant that it was not - and when David actually took the trouble to look at the tile he had thrown he was dismayed to see that he had incompetently plucked the dodgy 7-Coins from the end of his hand instead of the safe 8-Coins, which had been sat next to it! The faux pas was compounded by the fact that David had been the Oya in the South round and thereby deprived himself of any chance of a recovery in that game.

Noda declared for the evening. It looked as if the rest of the party would play one more game, i.e. the "last" game, but, as if he had suddenly recollected that Kenyon usually wins the last game, Jaime called it a night too, and the evening ended with NO LAST GAME.

Jaime -3, -28, +66, +19 = +54
Kenyon +28, +69, -37, -56 = +4
Noda -19, -37, -1, +52 = -5
David -6, -4, -28, -15
* = 53

* Chombo

The convenient thing about Nobuhiro on Friday was that he had a car and as he lives on the other side of Rakurakuen, he was able to drop your humble reporter off at Rakurakuen with no concurrent inconvenience accruing to himself.

David Hurley

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