One of the drawbacks of being a pro player is all the expectations. Even from yourself. Make a bad play or even just have a run of bad luck and people (yourself included) start thinking, “What’s so pro about that?” Of course the flip side is that something need only be remotely interesting and everyone ooohs and aaahs and you get this warm fuzzy feeling like you really are somebody. Like Prokoviev or Tchaikovsky or something.
Take last weekend for instance. After donking out of the OUI tournament Saturday in impressively immediate fashion, Jenn and I were invited to play in a smaller tournament run by our buddy Kamimura. Actually it was run by another of the parlors in his chain and he just invited us, but I prefer to give all credit to my buddies wherever possible. Unless I can claim it myself. Anyway, it’s a free roll that those parlors like to run every once in a while just to say thanks to the customers who come and play all the time. So the majority of the players are “amateurs” which I hate to say as it sort of implies I have the opposite expectation they have of the pros, and I think many pros do in fact think that way. I guess my point is just that I think they were a little too easily impressed.
Anyway anyway, on with the story huh. After 4 hands of non-stop crapola I woke up in the North seat with this:
The Lucky Dragon was , and with all that stuff in the middle there, Peace, Simples and 567 3-Colored-Runs seemed to be in my destiny. 8000 points at least! To that end I immediately set aside to discard first but what should my first draw be but another one of them. Blech. So much for Peace and Simples, that becomes my head, I figured, but then nothing comes until the 7th draw when I get another which is especially annoying as I discarded two on the 3rd and 5th draws and would have been ready already with 7 Pairs. Now what in the world am I supposed to do? With my dreams of the big score pretty much over, I dropped the (just in case I drew the Lucky Dragon, maybe I could work something out) but then a on my very next draw made me ready. Unexpected.
Still, both and are not very good waits, obviously I’m not going to reach with one of them. I threw the and my next draw was . Now if I reach throwing the from my hand, anybody who’s been watching is going to have to notice that I just pulled two tiles right next to each other out of my hand and something suspicious is going on so I kept waiting silently, but now on the . But wait, what about those two in my discards! Maybe people will notice that instead, especially after I didn’t Reach immediately. My next draw was and after a brief moment of hesitation considering it instead, I reached with it, Tsumo-giri-Reach (i.e. Reach by discarding what you just drew without changing anything in your hand) It doesn’t get much more suspicious than that. But no, apparently still not suspicious enough. The current leader threw my winner immediately and I got 6400 points. Not quite the 8000 or more I was hoping for but maybe even more valuable were the oohs and aahs from the table as they marveled at the perfectly (accidentally?) laid trap snaring its prey in perfect fashion. They were still talking about it when the game finished half an hour later. One player even said it gave him goose bumps. It’s no Romeo and Juliet, but if you can make a play in Mahjong to give someone goose bumps you must be the Prokoviev of Mahjong. (The Mahler of Mahjong sounded better but his first symphony is just a really close second. Prokoviev’s ballet music for Romeo and Juliet is pretty much the greatest music in history. So far. )