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Subject: Wrong play, crazy luck. rss

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Kelvin Lau
Hong Kong
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I have been playing mahjong for 10+ years. Now I play Japanese or Zung Yung mahjong for 10 hours on a Sunday every month in a local clubhouse with my friends. I usually play my hands optimally because I play money, I care about winning, and I do not have much luck with those rare hands. I took Economics and Mathematics, too, in university so I care a lot about optimal play. Most importantly, these are really some good players. If you know about the Japanese mahjong Tenhou, we are at least about 5 dan, which is about top 5% of the society. But some of us had been to 7 dan, which is the top 1%. So if one do not play try his best playing optimally, he bleeds money really fast like CPR isn’t going to save your ass although the rate is actually quite low. For the record, we are playing 1HKD/10 points or 1HKD/5points sometimes, where 7.8HKD=1USD. Healthy rate but a highly competitive environment. I would only try my luck having fun playing sub-optimally sometimes but with 7000+ sets I haven’t seen such crazy thing once.

I started with a hand filled with terminals, some 2378s and a couple of middle cards. It is a typical standard hand where one could not go out fast as a chicken hand so one is likely to go for terminal hands. Lucky enough I had enough cards for Three Similar Sequences. So it is natural to go that way. Even if it doesn’t turn out good, it still serves as a nice bluff and a hand to retreat.

With a bit of luck, I managed to get 113b1123a1178c with 999b exposed by turn 5. I looked at the discard pool. The players ‘behaved’ and didn’t look like they are going for big hands obviously and aggressively, i.e. they discarded honour tiles first. I thought that no one would get into my way so I decided to take a bit of risk and try to get Three Triplets as it seemed like they are going to discard terminals soon™. It turned out good. I punged 111a and 111c. The hand became 11b78c with 111a111c999b exposed. A not-quite-often but obviously scary expose.

When they saw such 9 scary cards lying down there, we started trash-talking in a friendly manner like usual. At first, one raised about the obvious guess that I have Similar Triplets. So if someone is so retarded to discard 1b, he doesn’t have to come next time. Then, one raised about chances of having a YAKUMAN, or a limited hand in Zung Yung. And it is natural for me to think that no one would discard 1b except if he at least has an 80 points two-sided waiting hand standing there. Chances of completing the Triplets are slim. No one is that stupid to discard the obvious 9c either as if even it doesn’t involve Triplets, a Terminal hand would be damaging also. So I decided I would go out with a 6c also with Small Three Similar Triplets.

Now, the crazy moment. Turn 12, I draw a 1b. What would you do?
The hand before was:
11b78c with 111a111c999b exposed

30 Small Three Similar Triplets
50 Pure Lesser Terminals (Perhaps)
80 points max, likely 30 points

Now it could become

100 Three Similar Triplets
30 All Triplets
130 at least

Cards available to win goes down from 8 cards to 3 cards. A more than 50% efficiency drop in the intuitive sense. But no one gonna deal 9c anyway, the only chance to win with a 9c is to self-draw. Hence, the drop isn’t more than 50% but less than 50%. With more than 3x bump in points, it seemed a good trade. Even better, I thought of not being greedy. I will wait for a middleish card with least availability. As the wall was becoming short, the optimal strategy here is to play somewhat close to defensive if you have a small hand as the chance to self-draw on anything would become very slim. The middleish cards with least availability are those easiest winning cards given a situational of the 9 scary laid cards as they are the seemingly safest cards. So I would counter-spell them with their optimal play. In another sense, I am pretty much satisfied with a 130 hand. Adding another 100 points for Mixed Greater Terminals isn’t a nice trade as no one gonna discard terminals anyway unless they have something as scary as said. So this was the strategy I would be taking.

But then I made a mistake here. I wasn’t satisfied of how ‘middleish’ and ‘unavailability’ the cards I am waiting. So at first I discarded a 7c. Then I discarded a 8c. I drew a 3b, not satisfied as it would involve people thinking that 3b would be part of the lesser terminals. I discarded and settled with a 5b, the least available and the most middleish card. But it was too late, not in time or turn sense. By that time, something wrong was figured out. The players realized that I kept picking out cards from my hand. And those are not terminals. My hand doesn’t seem like a bluff either. Something must have been very wrong. So they started to think very carefully and play even extra extra extra attention. Now I regret that I keep changing but whatever. Too late.

Then, miracle happened. I drew a 9c. DAFUQ

I wasn’t and am not regretting that I didn’t kept 1178c because THAT WAS WERTH IT. I am just so surprised that I am now waiting on a 400 points hand! Of course, no one is gonna ever discard a 9c but I decide I just have to go for it. It is quite a fail already, so if its gonna fail, MAKE IT A EPIC FAIL. One may not have even once going out with such a hand in their entire life. Even waiting on such a hand is extreme rare. I would regret if I didn’t go for it. So I decided to gamble with the last 3 draws. Well, the player to my right discarded 6c and one went out with a 15 point hand. They were happy and more than welcomed to pay that 15 points as they are out of the inferno of trouble. They are also interested in my hand so I opened it. A huge surprise as this is something you don’t see every day, thank god. I am not disappointed either. Although it didn’t go out, which was expected, this is moral victory already.


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Alan Kwan
Hong Kong
Hong Kong
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lofung_hk wrote:

For the record, we are playing 1HKD/10 points or 1HKD/5points sometimes, where 7.8HKD=1USD. Healthy rate but a highly competitive environment.


Thank you for your support of Zung Jung.

It should be noted that here the word "healthy" is supposedly a mahjong jargon with the Chinese translation of 衞生 instead of 健康 .

Quote:
When they saw such 9 scary cards lying down there, we started trash-talking in a friendly manner like usual. ...


Thank you for the nice write-up. It illustrates the interesting fact about Zung Jung that, even with a "big" hand, the play and counter-play can still be involving, and is far from mechanical.

Quote:

100 Three Similar Triplets
30 All Triplets
130 at least


Three Similar Triplets should be 120, not 100.

The fact that even a seasoned player has made a mistake about the pattern value demonstrates the rarity and difficulty of this pattern - despite its relatively high value in Zung Jung. If it were an easy and frequent pattern at a too high value, it would certainly become a core pattern known by heart to every veteran.

In other words, many other systems are not doing this pattern justice when they give it a too low value.
 
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