How Many Away

In Reach Mahjong’s second Jong-cast, we brought up the “Away” concept. The idea is keep a count of how many tiles away from Ready your hand is at all times and make decisions based on this basic concept. It doesn’t mean that it will always be optimal to make sure your hand is moving towards Ready, but it is an important basic strategy and skill necessary to improve your game from the beginning to the intermediate level.

Let’s look at a normal starting hand:

Active ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive Image

This hand is 2-Away from Ready. Tiles that will move it closer are Active Image, Active Image, Active Image, Active Image, and Active Image.

There are other ways that this hand might get to Ready, but the shortest route is 2 tiles with Active Image and Active Image being discarded in the process. In general, a winning hand will be between 2-Away and 4-Away from Ready at the deal. 4-Away or more and you should immediately think of an escape route to give up on the hand although, usually you won’t need to start giving up until the 5th or 6th discard.Making decisions is the hardest part of the game. One of the classic dilemmas is, “Should I pon/chow or not?”. Let’s look at some obvious situations for emphasis. For example:

Active ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive Image

This hand is 2-Away from Ready. In this situation, chowing something in the cracks to make a run won’t get you any closer to Ready. A chow with a discarded Active Image to makeActive ImageActive ImageActive Image >will still leave you 2-Away. On the other hand, a chow with a Active Image, Active Image, Active Image or Active Image will get you 1tile closer to Ready as will ponning a Active Image, Active Image, or Active Image. For those of you that have full memberships at Ron2, try going back on your Hand History and see if all of the called tiles in your hands got you closer to Ready. < One of the most common situations that players ignore the "Away" concept is when going for half-flushes. Take a look.
Active ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive Image

This hand is 1-Away from Ready. Any Active Image, Active Image, Active Image, Active Image, Active Image or Active Image makes the hand Ready. That’s 20 tiles. Depending on the draw and the point status, you may need to go for the Half-Flush to win the game, but if you draw a tile that makes you Ready and then discard the Active Image instead, you’re taking a Ready hand and making it 1-Away but with the risk of a Missed Win (furiten).

Active ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive ImageActive Image

That’s a lot of steps to catch up if your opponents are going for speedier hands.Next time you’re playing, try to consciously consider how many “Away” you are from a Ready hand. You should see improvements to your game imediately.

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