Jenn makes the playoffs! Mio plays tight

Jenn and Mio hit up YukanFuji for the final session of the regular season last week. Jenn was in good position to make the playoffs so rather than risk a negative score jeopardizing that position, it was left to Mio to drag Reachmahjong.com from the depths into a miraculous first place.

It was always going to be a huge task, but I think a couple hands in the first game decided Mio and RM.com’s fate. They both came following a win before that hand and one was also her turn as dealer. I am of course the last person in the world to hold up nagare as a basis for any game changing decisions, but I also recognize that other people do subscribe to the philosophy. Especially during your turn as dealer, that’s your chance to throw your weight around a little more than you normally might. These hands I wished Mio had turned down her tightness meter and let loose even though the hands weren’t actually that great.
East 4, Dora 4, on the 7th draw she had
三四③③⑤234788白白 tsumo: ⑦
The choice here is not obvious, but one that I’d have ruled out is 7. With two 9’s discarded already, she reasoned that those players had 6’s in their hands and the open ended 78 wait was not as widely available as one might think. Also in the back of her mind, she was thinking chiitoitsu as a possibility. I feel like this was a mistake. Her next draw was ⑥, so then she chose to drop a 白 and then chi ニ for tempai on the following draw. While there are draws that make the 白白 useful, there are more draws that make the 788 useful and here the proof came immediately. If most draws lead to dropping the 白白 anyway, we should probably just do it here. Furthermore, with the now sub-optimal pair wait in her hand she was now forced to chi her open ended wait in a rush to get tempai. As it started to seem like the hand might end in a draw, she drew 5 and rather than slide it in and throw 2, she chose a tsumogiri hoping to induce the 8 to come out but alas, that was last place’s wait, 4446. Ouch! 3 Dora! Mangan shoved Mio right back down to last. Of course it’s easy to critique in hindsight, but after the game she readily agreed, and wished she’d played that hand differently.
The next significant hand was in the south round. Mio had just made a great play against Aya’s reach. She had 白白 in her hand which were Dora had chiied to be waiting for ⑦ making sanshoku and 2 Dora. After the reach, Mio drew another 白 but instead of changing her wait and improving the hand to mangan she tsumogiried Dora, kept just sanshoku and drew the winner the next hand for 1000/2000. Great play! The next hand she had an early tenpai with
四四五五④⑤⑥456789
I get that there a lot of draws that improve this hand: Dora was ③, 36 improve to tanyao, 六 made pinfu and sanshoku possible but one 四 was already out and two 六 were also already out. A reach here wouldn’t have been totally out of the question, though it’d be obviously out of character. As it turned out Aya reached soon thereafter so the tight play seemed prescient except! As it turned out, Mio would have drawn her winner before Aya who eventually drew 2000/4000. Now of course, I’m not saying that reaching in that situation is generally a winning play. I am saying that in a must-win situation, the argument could be made that a loose reach there is also not necessarily a losing play. The last couple hands ended without much fanfare, RM.com finished 3rd and the lukewarm starting game led to a lukewarm result for the rest of the day.
Incidentally, I know I’ve gushed about Aya Ishii’s play before but I feel like doing it again. I used to work with her at Ikebukuro Reds, also with Aiko Hinata now representing Abemas in M-league, and I am still a little shocked that she wasn’t even mentioned as a possibility at last year’s draft. She is sooooo solid. AND super cool (totally didn’t chap me for not recognizing her when we happened to get on the same bullet train coming home from unrelated guest mahjong events). Her individual YukanFuji performance of third place has earned her a straight shot the quarterfinals. Always rooting for Reds alums!
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