- We had our first day of league in the second half of the season this last Sunday. It was a heart-stopping calamitous RESOUNDING, “meh.” At least for this session I was struck by the difference in how effective naked aggression was in comparison to something for the moment I’ll call “good play.”
Session 1 could have been more interesting had the first game not been such a disaster. I won a couple cheapies that I might have increased in value a bit had I reached but I opted to keep them small for the easier win. When I went for it with the bigger hands they all crashed and burned with someone either drawing out or me throwing into a monster. Ide had played similarly but managed to avoid the big crashes while the other two players just seemed to be on non-stop offensives.
A little exasperated I just felt like going for it myself beginning the next game and got a quick 5200 point half flush on a cheeky pon-pon-pon with single white dragon wait. Then on my turn as dealer I got to tenpai with this hand, 北 was Dora:
六七④⑤⑥112234北北 tsumo 八
With one 2s already on the board and having thrown 6s earlier I was tempted by “good play” to throw 4s and wait for the 3s quietly. If I could karagiri reach, that is draw something already in my hand but discard it from my hand instead of tsumo-giri, I would do that but otherwise wait quietly.
Nope! I was tired of hoping other players would give me a win and also it would have been a huge miss if I opted not to reach so that another player could advance their hand because they could feel safe throwing Dora without a reach out there. I chose to throw 2s waiting for 1s and Dora, and eventually drew 1s myself for 3900 all.
Similarly the next hand I got to tenpai in 4 draws with this hand
But there were already two 1p’s on the board. With no yaku for 1p, I thought about waiting quietly for someone to throw into me with a 4p but chose instead to listen the logic of the previous hand, reached and drew 4p the next draw for another 3900+100 all.
The next hand I had this decision on the 2nd draw
Dora was 西 so not currently an issue, the hand was quite likely to max out at Reach, pinfu, Tsumo for 1300 all. If I keep Sanshoku alive I at least have the possibility of another 3900 all. I dropped the 67, and two draws later I drew 1 for tenpai. Ok, I gave up pinfu but sanshoku is a sure thing, Reach!! In my next 3 draws I drew 4p and 5p but still didn’t feel like it was a loss because now someone was almost sure to throw 2p.
Maybe their hands just weren’t worth risking any attack at all, or perhaps the previous two hands scared them off. For whatever reason everyone seemed to go into a rare extreme safe mode throwing only tiles from my discards. The hand ended in a draw, a net 2000 gain for me, and continuation as dealer.
Even though it didn’t have an immediate and obvious payoff, I still like my move there. Before that turn as dealer, I think the other players were looking past me as a threat and concerning themselves with just the other two players. That little run, culminating in hand that could still have cost them 7700 if they used 5p to hope 2p was safe, put a little fear of Garthe back into them.
Of course if you’re just going for it all the time, people are eventually going to start generally disregarding your attacks and you end up in the same boat. The whole game is always trying to find the right balance between aggressive play and “good play” which all to often really means good defensive play. But I’m starting to remember how much more effective aggression is than defense. When you’re not on the attack, you just have to get luckier to win, and you really have to play the defense perfectly.
I’ve never been that guy that carefully observes his opponent to know exactly what he’s doing and I think often it’s just impossible. My strength has always been putting together big hands and then just plowing ahead whatever else is going on around me. I should go into politics.
Anyway I hope I remember that from the beginning of the next league’s session, and hit the ground on the attack.