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By Tom Sloper

November 14, 2004

Column #188

Japanese Modern (riichi/dora). I was in Montreal to speak at a video game conference the week before last, and I used the opportunity to get together with yet another internet mah-jongg friend. Walter Wlodarski organizes biweekly games of mah-jongg, usually at Montreal teahouses that encourage customers to stay and play cards, Xiangqi (Chinese chess), or mah-jongg. Because my visit was a short-notice event, there were just three of us: myself, Walter, and Akira Watanabe.

We played riichi/dora majan. Walter made a lot of kongs (leading me to dub him "King Kong") and Watanabe-san favored chiitoitsu (seven pair hands). But my intent in this week's column is to brag about the very special hand that I made.

My initial deal had lots of single honors and terminals, suggesting a Thirteen Unique hand. I knew the hand to be unlikely (and I'd never seen anybody make it). But if you never try, you'll never do. Eventually, I became two tiles away from being ready.

It was getting close to the end of the wall (because we were just three, we played until each player had 19 discards). I thought it might be best to get rid of the second 1S, in hopes of picking chun (R) so I could have a 13-way wait. But then I remembered that the Japanese rules permit a 1-way wait for this hand. I discarded 6M.

Walter threw R. I displayed my hand: kokushimusou. I announced my score: "yakuman."

When he saw it, Watanabe-san stood up. I asked Walter, "What do you think?" He replied with a grin: "It's good enough."

Walter's website is at

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© 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.