Individually, Jenn’s been in good position most of the season and really just needed to tread water one more game to stay in the running for the play offs. The game was general general awesomeness for the one player dominating until the final hand, and much less neato for the other three. First place was more than 20,000 points away from Jenn but second was less than 10,000. Jenn finally got a good starting hand with three pairs and one already completed triple, and 3 singletons all in the outside category, 1’s, 9’s and letter tiles. I think I would have been tempted to dream of 4 concealed triples and first place, waiting at least one possible “pon” before opening the hand. Jenn, however, was all business. She ponned two value tiles and while still not tenpai, drew the 4th 9m completing a concealed kong in her hand. That’d be a no brainer kong for me but once again Jenn chose to keep it “small” and simply discarded it. I think leaving those 9’s concealed in her hand probably played a huge role in her winning the hand. When she did draw another concealed triples she chose to wait on a single South. Only one was out, but with less information about her hand out there, the second place player didn’t hesitate to throw it away when it came!
Haneman bumped Jenn into a positive second place and padded her score in the individual standings. Without that hand she might have finished last and would be in a much riskier spot regarding playoff standings. It’s another situation where I marvel at how many world class plays must happen when it’s just some regular season game and nobody’s paying attention. Yet without that great play, that player’s post season might not have been possible.
Mio rounded out the day’s games, her first game proceeding as miserably as Jenn’s also until the last hand. With RM.com close to 200 points out of first place it felt like a series of miracles would be necessary to secure a team playoff berth. From dead last in the final hand there, Mio managed to draw a mangan to put herself into third and limit some of the damage from that game. Additionally, the leaders, Cabo, took last to even the field a bit.
That tailwind proved helpful to Mio who traded places at the top with Tomi a couple times throughout the game. The final important one was a doozy. Mio first got to tenpai with this hand ① was Dora:
Normally I would probably not reach here except that she’d thrown ⑤ earlier in the hand. That makes the ② somewhat more likely to come out, but more importantly, even if she does draw the ④ for a better wait and possibly sanshoku, it makes her furiten. How could she not reach here?!
Because she could see the future or something I guess? Tomi, who was dealer, reached soon after and I lamented a chance missed. Mio then draw the ④, again I prolly would have said screw it and reached with either wait. She chose to drop the West’s which was brilliant because her next draw was a ②. Holy cow now she’s open ended somehow AND she has sanshoku possible, so finally she reaches! Tomi’s had an unlucky season, at least for the games I’ve watched. She was not waiting for Dora so when she discarded it and 8000, she again swapped places with Mio. Mio also brilliantly played it out on the final hand to just hang on to the lead by 1300 points.
Jenn and Mio played a master class in making the most of meagre means. Whereas I can see myself heroically swinging for the fences and ending up with a whole lotta nothing in their situations, they took the steady course and are just now 100 points out of first. That’s about the same swing they made in this round, and in fact it’s basically 2 wins worth of points and there are 3 more games.
I’ve learned a lot this season “coaching” Jenn, Gemma, and Mio. If I could find a few more people needing my guidance, I might become a pretty formidable player some day. For the moment, I can’t wait for the final lesson of the regular season. Surprise arrival from London?