Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hide's Return "Pre-vented" By A Call!

I have been afflicted with a change-of-season lethargy, which might be akin to what Mr. Lightfoot refers to as the collywobbles.

I pack most of my teaching and consulting or whatever you want to call it into as little of the week as possible - Tuesday evening to Saturday lunchtime. Last week, I spent most of Friday falling asleep on the job so to speak.

Now, I have always been an advocate of sleeping on the job and waking up just as the lesson comes to an end and the students are leaving the room. The whole point of teaching English in Japan is that it is such an easy job that you can do your sleeping in class and feel refreshed in your free time. Unfortunately, an attack of the Summer Collywobbles causes that most distressing of conditions, "Free-Time Lethargy". I was overtaken by a leaden numbness and betook me to my bed. No mahjong, no games night, no football, no golf, and no account of the last time a game of mahjong was played...

Three days of lounging at home seems to have done the trick, although now we are back at the beginning of the busy part of the week again...

Anyway, here is my report of the last game of mahjong, played on Friday 16th May.

Noda and Kenyon were joined by David, who started off in good form and won the first game. Kenyon replied with a win in the second, and Noda, who was now in negative figures for the evening, won the third. Kenyon came back again to win the fourth, but was still the only player in the red, although nobody was far above or below zero. There had been several big hands, but they had been shared around, and two games had gone into the West round.

Kenyon informed us that we would be joined by Hide, hide nor hair of whom had been seen since last year. Indeed, Hide's name had recently been removed from the Grand Accumulated Results Table as it seemed as if he had given us up.

At some stage in the evening Kenyon received a phone call, and his serious, even conciliatory, tone led us to suppose that the matter must be work-related. It turned out however that he was being admonished for taking liberties and going so far as to request the pleasure of our esteemed and expected guest player's company. Uxor amici nostri was not amused at being bereft of company on a Friday evening if you catch my drift.

However, despite that interruption, which (in the older usage)
"prevented" the arrival of our guest, his arriving, although delayed was not (in the modern sense) prevented and, in short, he escaped from sotto il pollice della moglie and arrived.

After just one game, Hide was vying for second place on the Grand Accumulated Results Table, despite finishing on minus seven. After two games, he was definitely in second place, despite finishing once again on minus seven!

What had happened was that Kenyon won the fifth and Noda the sixth game, causing David to slip into the red both on the evening's score sheet and on the GAR Table. The sixth game was remarkable in that David filled up his tray with loot early on, but gradually, or less than gradually gave it away through the rest of the game as the other players also won big hands.

Noda relinquished his place at the table on +25 for the evening, not his best result, but still making progress towards the +1,000 mark on the GART.

David was also ready to finish but since Hide had barely warmed the bottom of his seat David agreed to stay, and continued to lose. Hide won the seventh game and Kenyon won the eighth, which, being the last game, he won on the biggest score of the evening to finish top.

So, for the second week running Noda finishes in the black but not top... Is his run slowing down??? Of course, nobody is actually closing the gap because the evening's winner one week is the evening's loser the next... Only Noda has showing any positive consistency so far this year.

Kenyon -52, +40, -33, +28, +58, -5, -17, +60 = +79
Noda +6, -26, +54, -19, -14, +24, --, -- = +25

Hide --, --, --, --, -7, -7, +19, -55 = -50
David +46, -14, -21, -9, -37, -12, -2, -5 = -54

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday 9th May: Noda Doesn't Finish Top Shock Report!

Having not shown his face inside a mahjong parlour for about three months, David returned to the fray tonight and managed to finish top dog for the evening.

Mind you, it was not without some fortuitious eventualities... If his evening may be compared to taking a shot on the 13th hole of the Forest Hills Country & Golf Club, it would go something like this:

"David took a mighty lurching swing at the ball, succeeded in making solid if imperfect contact with the top, and watched as it rolled down the hill, between the mighty rushing water obstacle on the left (Noda) and the dogwood coppice with its fading blossom on the right (Kenyon). Gathering momentum as it descended, it passed right through the "Five Coins" sand bunker directly ahead (Jaime) and rolled up the slope to come to a halt on the immaculate green (Nobuhiro) just a few inches from the hole, where it was effortlessly tapped in for a birdie."

The first fortuitous eventuality occurred in the very first hand of the first game. With both Noda and David declaring Riichi, Jaime trod a fine line between hand-building and safety until David plucked and tossed the tile Jaime needed to finish on 4,000 points.

When all the hands were revealed it turned out that Noda had been waiting, as Oya, for a Suuanko Tanki, threatening to take 144,000 points off any player hapless enough to throw a 3-Coins. It would not have been David because he also happened to be waiting for the 3-Coins (as well as the 6-coins), but for a more modest score that would have added insult to injury had Jaime discarded it...

As it was, David cheerfully paid out the 4,000 points that had saved him a heftier payment of 72,000 had Noda gone out on Tsumo.

For the rest of the first two games Noda played pretty much according to the recent form book and Jaime was bearing the brunt of the attack and suffering the distractions of misfortune that a surfeit of the melancholy humour sometimes induces. It was under those circumstances that the second fortuitous eventuality cropped up...

With Noda as Oya and firmly in the driving seat the game had gone to Ryanshi when David discarded a 5-Coins. Jaime took a tile from a wall, Kenyon flinched, Jaime discarded the tile and when play came back to David he went out, at which juncture Kenyon pointed out that Jaime could have claimed the 5-coins on Iipehkoh, Tanyao.

When the second game was over Jaime called for a seat change and Noda called it a night at that point, on plus seventy-something. He was amused to see Jaime use the foreigners-can't-be-bothered-with-Noda's-arcane-seat-allocation method of allocating seats, namely, the one where each player simply grabs a Wind tile and the player with East goes and sits in the seat of the winner of the last hand of the previous game and everybody shuffles around according to Wind order.

Jaime took over David's seat, David, Kenyon's and Kenyon Jaime's. Nobuhiro slotted into Noda's vacated seat and Noda promptly ordered another beer and sat down to observe Nobu's game and chivvied him along... This constituted the third fortuitous eventuality, the one that prevented Jaime's recovery. Chivvied along by Noda, Nobuhiro actually began to win some hands and the sum total of victories not only put him into the black - for the first time ever - on +1, but it also thwarted Jaime's looked for second-seat recovery and saw him finish the third game with his Yakitori nailed to the table.

One more game was played, I forget most or possibly all of the details except that Nobu sank again and David managed not to lose,
a remarkable circumstance and quite probably a wholly fortuitious eventuality in its own right. It enabled David to finish on plus eighty-odd and thereby get back into "second and in the black" so to speak...

A more detailed score sheet will be added shortly.

David +80+
Noda +70+
Kenyon -10
Nobu -?
Jaime -??*


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Thursday, May 08, 2008

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


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