Canadian IORMC Qualifying Game: Play-by-play

Instead of choosing a top-level game from IORMC, I want to talk about a game I remember. (Perhaps this is the sort of self-centered behavior I need to discuss with a therapist.) But most of our games are not high-level manipulation but that long grind you need to get through qualifiers. A lot of the mahjong games we play are a test of stamina and mental health.

Although I played in this game as a reserve stand-in, I don’t want to discuss my game because it would just be me justifying each and every misstep. So I’m picking our Editor-in-chief, Grant. Also, SPOILER ALERT, I don’t win so it’s not a game I can posture on my greatness. It seemed a good choice.

I didn’t check the hands before and just went through and typed out my thoughts in a mahjong stream of consciousness. I did participate in the game so I have some recall, but I hadn’t seen Grant (Trundle)’s hands before writing this.

First hand!

I see sanshoku or ittsu. Dora is 九 so I am mainly focused on sanshoku if I have to make the choice.

What we doing here, Grant? Why cut the other yaku down so early in its youth?! I mean perhaps you wanted a safe tile but the East is there and looking pretty safe. Or throw the East and take the South as super safe because it’s your wind.

NO FEAR! I would have thrown the (7). I mean your hand COULD be good but it’s really not close enough to throw a potentially dangerous tile. Luckily, they don’t hit dora so it’s only 1600. But still… ☹

East Two
It’s your moment! What have we got…

Little good, little sucky (like life). Here I’d just go efficient. You’re East so a nice win is all you need. 

Huh? Really? Like what’s the plan here? It’s so early. You don’t need to lock yourself into tanyao QUITE yet. You have a lot of shrapnel to clear still.

Just gonna say, I’m not sure this is Daina™ -approved.

Kids, this is a moral lesson on getting tanyao-greedy too soon.

It’s like getting to a buffet when it’s looking a bit spartan so you grab whatever you can from the metal basins, even that slightly burned thing you’re not sure whether is fish or chicken. You’re too worried that if you don’t grab it all now, you’ll have wasted your money. BUT then the waiters come out and the fresh delicious fried treats are refilled. You’re stuck there then with a full plate of ropey looking mush, wondering what went wrong in your life. (Because mahjong definitely has a “No waste” rule at its yaku buffet.)

Not even a tempai payment to take the edge off this time…

East Three

I mean this is okay. I’m not excited. A pinfu, riichi, dora. Let’s see…

Hazar! This is beautiful and I like being right…

Amazing! And an Uradora! This is the turnaround point.

East Four

Or not… I’m a genuinely firm believer that we can identify pessimists and optimists, not by showing them some glass full of liquid, but showing them draws like this. People like me are gonna be sobbing. Others would be air punching and screaming something about orphans while the neighbors furiously call child protective services.

Whoever that cow is opposite you stealth dama-ed you. Doesn’t she know it’s rude to not riichi when you’re dealer?! (By the way, I’m Garbage – I mean that in all the ways you can read that sentence.)

East Four: 1

All is not lost… This isn’t a bad draw. I do think you should be really thinking long game at this point. You don’t want to be throwing away anymore points here. If you don’t get good draws, fold. Please, please, please do NOT call.

Better and better!

This I super like! This is the point where our bloodied hero pulls himself back up and dares to dream!

This I am not so keen on. The 二 has just presented itself so it’s safe, and the other one is already gone so you’re not going to be able to massage this into some sananko or toi toi. Plus I’m over there looking fairly dangerous on the 萬 suit. You’ve basically grabbed the grenade and held it close to your chest in case it turns into cake when you had every option to drop it down the hole.

Plus if you do draw the 6 and some other brave fool has cut the dora, you have some more options. I think this was a mistake. You’ve locked yourself into folding in the future.

Here, you would have had no choice to fold. I think for a fold the 六 would have been better. Plus if you had dropped the 二 when you had the chance, you’d still be flirting with a tempai.


There is no option but to keep folding now.

This is a good outcome for you.

Onward into the South round!

This isn’t bad. I’d just go for efficiency here.

Happy days! However, I would, perhaps controversially, suggest not declaring riichi yet with this.

  1. You’re not dealer and someone has declared riichi so you’re not intimidating.
  2. You need some points and riichi pinfu (potential tanyao) isn’t going to cut the mustard.
  3. You do actually have a chance to potentially massage this into a sanshoku. With either a (6) or 3 draw, you can give yourself a shot at not one but TWO extra yaku. That’s a big deal at this point.
  4. Our friend on the right has thrown two of your winning tiles. If the other players are playing safe, not drawing attention to your discard pile and keeping the focus over there could be to your benefit. If the 三 is played as safe against the declared riichi, you’ve got your tanyao.

Ah well…

South Two
Time for your East round and a triumphant return…?

Yuck. Sorry, mate.

You call that 四. I think this is a good idea. You still have a little way to go, but you kill the other player’s ippatsu. You’ve pushed yourself a little further ahead, and you’ve placed a little more pressure on everyone else. Good work!

Bad luck ☹

South Three

Now we really need some strategy. It’s not a great situation, you are in 4th place but 3rd is not unreachable. It is at this point where you need to work out which player you are targeting, and change your play according to this. Here it is, our player on the left. Watch him like a hawk.

I think you’re wanting to put some pressure on. It’s not ideal but you can only play the tiles you’ve been given.

I really am the worst. I’m sorry.

You’ve not lost any points but your position hasn’t improved and there is only one hand left. It is now time to pray to the mahjong gods.

South Four: Orasu

We can work with this! What do you need if you want to snatch third (first and second are not realistically viable). There are two riichi sticks on the table and 1 continuation.

If you directly hit the player on your left for 1 yaku 30 fu (pinfu), you will win. 1000+300+2000 giving you 16600, and the other player will sink to 15300. However, if it is not a direct hit and from another player, 1 yaku 30 fu is not going to be enough. You will need 1 yaku 40 fu, giving you 1300+300+2000 for a grand total of 16900 and a very exciting finish!

So if you end up pinfu tempai, you have to riichi. You have no choice. If you only get riichi, that’s still good! You don’t need to push for anything higher, it’s not going to be a big deal for your positioning. If it happens nice, but don’t kill yourself trying to force it.

123 Sanshoku chance gone ☹

And you can blame me, too. I deserved being thrown down to 2nd but it sucked for you that my reckless play shut down your chance to improve your position. Honestly, I don’t know why I threw (6), that’s a dumb move. So after pulling you apart, Grant, you can laugh that the very last move of the game was supreme idiocy on my part.

Well, I hope my presentation was diverting! Perhaps you learned something and it wasn’t just a terrifying glimpse into my mind when I play mahjong. See you at the table, kids!