The Path of Houou Blog

During the National Mahjong Day stream, Daniel “Dasuke” Moreno presented an hour of tools and exercises for practicing aspects of riichi. Throughout the segment he made several references to the blog The Hopeless Girl on the Path of Houou, a site created by “Erzzy”, aka Amber, about her training with Dasuke as her tutor.

From: Nova Scotia, Canada
Favorite Tile: I like the North. I played a lot of sanma, and in sanma drawing a North is like getting a little present. It gives you a dora and a replacement tile. And that replacement tile could be anything! It could even be a North! Plus it feels super cheeky to do a North tanki in sanma. These feelings towards the tile linger in four-player Mahjong and help it stand out to me.

The details of how this blog started are found in Erzzy’s first post, but the short version is in May 2019 Daniel openly wondered how far he could help someone advance during six months of intensive tutoring. After some consideration, Erzzy followed up with him and the two decided to give the idea a try.

This tutoring could have stayed private between them, but Erzzy chose to document the process both as a written record to measure results, but also to provide a path for others to follow.

I wanted to share the exercises and methodology Dasuke used, in case anyone else wanted to follow in my footsteps. Sort of like Dasuke pointing the way through a jungle, and me tidying the path up a bit, I suppose.

Need a hand understanding how to determine shanten and count your ukeire? How about tips on learning the score table? Erzzy’s posts are packed with information. Weekly updates follow a format of a status update, replay commentary on a game from the previous week, practice summaries, and personal observations. She also takes time to detail the various exercises Daniel has given her, as well as the tools she has been using (including thorough instructions on how to use them yourself) like the Maru-jan Score Trainer.

Here’s the best part: Erzzy is also a capable coder and has created the Mahjong Efficiency Trainer!

Erzzy's efficiency trainer contains several tools to help practice your tile efficiency.

This tool is full of helpful functions that include an All Last Trainer (to help teach you how to calculate what kind of hands you need to move up) and Folding trainer (to practice safe discards), in addition to the obvious namesake (for practicing most efficient course towards tenpai). Pay attention to the disclaimer though. The efficiency trainer works without consideration of yaku or score building: it should only be one multi-tool in your toolbox.

So far, Erzzy has posted up through week 9 of the roughly 26 week proposal so there’s quite a bit of time left, but already there has been notable impact in her play. While overall rank on Tenhou hasn’t changed drastically, she’s noticed some more personal changes in herself.

On the one hand, I feel like I’ve become a more conscious player. I can see my mistakes, and I’m aware of what I need to do better. I can always find something I need to work on. I’m improving steadily.
On the other hand, being able to constantly see yourself making mistakes is really disheartening. If I can see my mistakes after the fact, why do I keep making them? Well, there’s only so much you can focus on at a time in a game, but still. It’s a lot easier to see what you’re still doing wrong, than to see what you’ve started doing right.

It will be interesting to follow along and see how far she gets in next few months, and what she does after. While nothing is certain, Erzzy has a few thoughts:

I don’t feel like I’ve been putting in the required time, especially the past few weeks where I’ve been assaulted by sickness and the summer heat, so I’ll probably keep it up beyond the basic end date until I feel like I’ve put in a good six months. I’d like to at least reach fifth dan to feel happy with my abilities.
After that, I imagine I’ll keep producing content. I’ve recently received the Houou replay logs, so I’ll post articles about replay analysis, certainly. And there are some aspects of the game I feel I don’t have a grasp of well yet, and that I can’t find articles of online, so if I ever find such answers, I’ll post those, too.

I am excited to see people in our community experimenting with different ways to teach and learn. I am really excited that they are sharing their experiences with the rest of us.