Sunday, April 30, 2006

Deckchairs on the Titanic

The dominant theme throughout tonight's five games, was chairs, or to be more exact the connection seats have with luck - good and bad. I admit to having a certain superstition about which chair I should position myself in at the start of a night's play. It has more to do with angles, seating position of other players and where best to avoid any smoke that may drift over my way. I would like to think that my ploy works more than it fails, and tonight's games were a test of my carefully worked out theory as I was second to arrive and could take my pick.

But first maybe an explanation into the etiquette of seat positioning for 3 Player Mahjong. The old Sage, Noda is the ringmaster with regards this attribution of chairs. During my years of playing with him, he has used 3 different systems for allocating where one sits prior to commencement. These are as follows:

"I have no Idea what Noda is doing" System.
The most complicated and frankly I suspect not entirely without prejudice way in which Noda chooses 6 tiles, (the 4 Winds and 2 suit tiles) and then wriggles them around to find out where we seat. It almost seems like how the Wise-man would read his runes and then offer a cataclysmic prediction. I can not explain further because neither Kenyon nor I could fathom the system on Friday.

"Winner Chooses his Seat" System.
This was the first method that I was introduced to back in the heady days of 9pm starts and regular 2 tables of play. The four wind tiles would be distributed to each of the players, the one who ended up with East chose his seat of preference and the others had to switch around to accommodate the Mahjong Winds cycle.

"Bloody Easy" System.
This is the one we normally adopt and is by a marathon margin the simplest. This being that whenever you get to the parlour you choose one of the available seats and then just get on with it.

It was the latter system that was adopted on Friday and almost immediately I was pining for a change of seats, a plea Kenyon was keen to ignore as he galloped into a commanding lead. At one stage Noda owed Kenyon 20,000 points and I was sinking slowly as one does in Saharan quicksand. The 1st game ended up with only one winner, Kenyon on +56, Noda slightly down after a recovery at my expense and myself with an empty tray...

It was midway through the 2nd game when again I was faced with an empty tray that my mind made the somewhat far-fetched leap to France of 1966. Whilst England were in the throws of World Cup celebration (something after the Rooney injury sadly not to be repeated this year) President de Gaulle was boycotting EEC Institutions over CAP financing. This led to a six month hiatus in which bugger all happened in European decision making because every time the matter came up the French delegate excused himself and left. I looked longingly at the empty chair to my left and decided that I needed to cuckoo it as soon as possible. Oh and in the actual game, Kenyon extended his lead to a Everestian 103 points. Noda was -21 and I -55. Things had to change. I was now effectively bottom of the whole Mahjong Pile less than 5 weeks after I was Hiroshima's Edmund Hillary.

Now Hurley has a theory about Mahjong being played in cycles. Basically, he believes that like the Ashoka Chakra, we mere mahjong mortals move between various moments of joy, bewilderment and a few things in between. Hurley's System operates in a 3-monthly cycle. From Christmas to April I was top dog, Kenyon was the pound pooch and Ray, Noda and Hurley in the middle somewhere. Since April I have been losing, Noda Top Cat and Kenyon and Hurley somewhere in the middle. Could I break the gnarled old Hurleydamus's predictions. Well, Yes I could actually.

At the beginning of game 3 we switched seats, I took over Kenyon's and Noda stayed where he was. Immediately the worm turned. I was winning and Kenyon was struggling. Just in case you are in any doubt about Kenyon's feelings, just count how many times he says "freaking". I racked up as Oya, the others didn't. I also managed a Kokoushimasou, but regretably as a tsumo and not a ron, which considering I was oya at the time....the game ended with me up a little and Kenyon down a lot. He wanted to move chairs, but Noda decided that we should change only after every 2 games played. That was fine by me.

The 4th and 5th games resulted in me moving ahead a lot and then having my wings clipped in the final game. Noda also stormed out of the hole he was digging for himself to finish only slightly down. The highlight of the last 2 games was the first Noda Chombo of the year. Whilst Oya and with a nice little hand developing, I threw out a risky 9 Bamboo. Noda was obviously collecting bamboo, and I was concerned that it could be a rather stupid thing to do. Yet still I did it - why? To my relief Noda looked at the discarded tile but made no movement, so Kenyon took the next from the wall and immediately thumped it on the table with a guttural like noise that sounded a bit like "freaking....". A puzzled look remained on Noda's face...he had made a chombo! Should have nailed me on my risky 9 and I would have been looking at a big loss. There was a small complaint about tiles being thrown out very quickly (Raise your eyebrows Roger Moore style here please). But he paid up and my night had turned around.

A 6th game was requested from Kenyon, but I decided now was a good time to leave before more damage could be inflicted. After all, it was time to change seats again....

Final Result

Jaime +42
Noda -17
Kenyon -25

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