In Garthe’s Hands #3 – Reach

Last week I began a theme on hands that go well together with other hands. This week I’ll continue on that theme with 2 more hands in the same vein. However, these hands are not like the hands we’ve seen so far where you want to build certain combinations of groups or use certain tiles. These are more like situations: Concealed-self-draw and Reach. They are both possible any time a hand is one away from being basically completed. Another way to say it is that any combination of 4 groups of 3 and the 2 tile head will qualify for these hands.

Reach: 1 Hand Point
Reach, of course, is where Japanese “Reach Mahjong” gets its name. It is the “men” in the oft heard scoring phrase “men-tan-pin” (Menzen Reach (Concealed Reach), Tanyao (All Simples), Pinfu (Peace) in Japanese). It is what sets girls’ hearts a-racing in the spring. But figuring out how to use it is almost as hard as figuring out what is going on in said girls’ hearts. The concept is not so difficult; it’s really just like calling :uno; in the popular card game. You’re essentially warning everyone that you’re only 1 tile from completing your hand and now you can go out if you draw or anyone discards your winning tile. The problem is that not only are you announcing to the world that you are armed and dangerous, precluding any chance of sneak attack, but having done so, you are now committed to that attack. You’ve thrown down the gauntlet. You’ve declared war.

>Jenn’s Note> You literally do ‘throw down the gauntlet’. To declare ‘Reach’, you need to turn your declaring tile perpendicular to the rest of your tiles and throw out an extra bet of 1,000 points. After this declaration, you are no longer allowed to change the contents of your hand except for Quads.

Reach discard pile

Like Value tiles or Simples, Reach will be useful in situations where you really want to go out but you haven’t managed to get any other Hand points into your hand yet. But perhaps you already have Simples, Peace and a Lucky-Dragon and you want to change your 4000 pointer into 8000. Maybe you have absolutely nothing and you want to escape with something cheap before someone else hits a big one. Or maybe you’re hoping to get lucky with the Hidden-Lucky-Dragon. The possibilities with Reach are endless. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Concealed-self-draw is not so complicated, but an obvious drawback is that it can’t be won off of other players. It won’t often be the only point in a winning hand. Most likely it would happen in a situation where your hand had no Lucky-Dragons and nobody had called Reach. You’re just ending the hand with something cheap before someone can make off with a big winner.

Because any combination will work for these hands I won’t provide any examples. Just remember the key to really making effective use of these hands is going to be putting as many of them as possible into the same hand. If your hand already has a couple points in it, calling Reach and finishing with the Concealed-self-draw will turn your small jab into a full knock down punch.

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