Kan or Sanshoku? No no NO!

Contentious WWYD problem

Gemma sent over this interesting hand yesterday, let’s see what a mess I can make of it. Especially since I hear it was part of an actual game so we know what happened afterwards and it will be easy for people to say “See how dumb Garthe is? Kan AND Sanshoku were the right answer!”

First of all, perhaps saying no Sanshoku is not necessary but just in case, NO! A lot of people feel an overriding desire to make sanshoku happen, even when it is actually further away than it appears. Sanshoku is still 3 tiles away from winning and would require very specific tiles whereas tanyao/dora is only 2 tiles away and allows us more options.

Second of all, we’re pretty far behind and yet we still have the whole rest of the south round and our turn as dealer. There’s no need to start throwing Hail Marys yet. One mangan here and we’re right back in it nearing our dealership. That’s most likely if we can reach and draw our winner (reach, tsumo, tanyao, dora -> mangan). So we’d like to give ourselves a good reachable shape which means hopefully reaching on an open ended wait.

Next, why no kan? We only kan if we’re playing in Ronron or Fight Club where we get pressured to make a decision before we’ve really thought it out. We definitely want to preserve our one nice tanyao open ended wait. Right now, that’s our best candidate for a good reach wait.

So it really comes down to choosing between giving up on a 5 in the manzu or souzu. I feel like there is less loss if we keep the souzu and (for the moment, give up on manzu). For one thing, there are more souzu near the 5 already on the table making it feel like they’re probably not being used yet, they are more likely still in the deck, and we are more likely to be able to draw them. Also, if we throw 4s and then that 5 comes I feel less disappointment than the other way around because if we’ve left the 4m, now we CAN readjust and go for sanshoku! In fact depending on what weird order things come in, adjusting for 456, 567, or 678 sanshoku are actually all possibilities.

I know I know! I said “No Sanshoku!” What I really want to say about sanshoku is not that we have to spitefully ignore it. We can still let it happen if that’s where the draws take us. It’s just that with the current shape of the hand, we should be focusing more here on the higher probability directions for just winning it at all.

Another reason I favor souzu here is because while 6678 in the manzu is indeed sort of open ended, we can already see 2 6s and 3 9s. That leaves us with a total of only 3 remaining tiles in that open ended wait. Leaving 4m dangling out there actually allows us the same number of remaining tiles (albeit less variety), and there’s still that outside chance of adjusting again for sanshoku.

So my answer for this specific hand is discarding 6m here.

Ooooh I can’t wait to get berated for my crazy decision in the extra light of what eventually happened. Fire away!

PS. Ooooh, feedback already! Jenn did a very informal survey of like the first 10 pros who came up in her Line chat, including the whole range of Renmei from leagues A1 to D3. 100% of them agreed that I am wrong and would all throw 4s! Holy b’goley! Don’t they know collusion isn’t allowed? Now I’m more interested than ever to hear what actually happened.

RM on Social

5 thoughts on “Kan or Sanshoku? No no NO!

  1. Without any knowledge of what happened down the line:

    -No kan. Duh. Why would I want to destroy two, maybe even three possible outs for this hand to get to tenpai?
    -This might become sanshoku, but it’s not the kind of hand where I’d bet on it. It’s true that getting there requires some very specific draws, and I’m not going to count on that.
    -Still, I agree with the informal pro interview – I’d discard 4 bamboo. That discard East has going looks suspiciously like a honitsu in characters, and there are no low tanyao character tiles on the table. I’d let someone else play canary in the coalmine here.

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