As part of our quest to bring you closer to the best mahjong players in the world and get a little bit more inside their heads, Jenn and I have each chosen a couple players in particular whose performance we’ll follow a little more closely. I’m following Takizawa and Miyauchi Kozue. Who knows, maybe we’ll learn a little something from them too. By the way, Takizawa is mostly known endearingly throughout the league as “Takki”, which is what I’ll be referring to him as here too.
“I wanted to win this time more than anything but ended up with negative 40. I was in a good position but ended up back to zero. Mahjong isn’t a game that shows results exactly according to skill but maybe my focus is a bit off. This is m 4th year in A2. I’ve never been in danger of falling down, but am never really in a position to move up either somehow. My elders keep asking me when I’m going to move up to A1 but I don’t get stressed about it. If I improve my skill I think the results will come naturally.”
We watched Takki from the beginning, even though it was hard to reserve a spot to watch behind him since his adoring fans crowded around his table. Takki was at the same table as Hiro Yamada, a fellow Mahjong Fight Club player. Things just didn’t seem to be going his way this month. He generally had pretty awful starting tiles, and once in a while when he did start with 3 Lucky Dragons or was a few tiles away from ready, another player managed to draw out faster.
In the first game he had 9,700 as the final Dealer and continued once, but couldn’t keep it going. In the 3rd game he drew a 12,000 point hand as the final Dealer again, but that was only good enough for a smaller negative than the other games. In the last game he finally took 2nd place with 37,200 points bu tit wasn7t enough to overcome the 4th place and 2 3rd places preceding it. Hoping to see a few more chances come his way next month. Of course, maybe he’s saving it up for his 3 consecutive OUI title…..
“Today I was up against Sarukawa, Iwai and Konno. It was as if we were playing with the same state of mind and it was a very worthwhile match. We ended up finishing in less than 3 hours, way before anyone else but for me speed is an important aspect of the game so I was grateful for that.”
I was really looking forward Hisato’s table this month as it was a veritable who’s who of people we talk about on the site and our podcasts: Shintaro Konno, our rules director at the World Series; Sarukawa, this year’s Masters winner and final tabler in 10 steps Tourney; and Kenta Iwai, also as new to JPML as Hisato yet like Hisato winner of both Champions League and the Special league to get himself into B2 a lot quicker than Jenn and I seem to be getting there. The table was moving at breakneck speed so by the time I got there they were already nearly done with the third game after just a couple of hours. Hisato took first in the first game but had two negatives in the second and third to put him below 0 before the last game. Apparently he was saving it up for that last push.
The first hand was key. The Red Dragon was the Lucky Tile and Iwai woke up with two of them in his starting tiles and only 2 away from ready. Hisato’s hand looked like this when he drew the last Red Dragon to go with the one already in his hand:
In watching his play there weren’t a lot of situations where his decisions differed from what I would have done but this time was a big one. I would have thrown so that I could call for the if someone threw it out. He knew better and threw the instead. Of course, what did he draw two turns later but the , after which he reached and drew his winner immediately, BLAM! 2000/3900 to start off the game with a big lead. The rest of the hands were pretty uneventful, 1000 or 2000 pointers back and forth though Hisato had another first draw win to give him a fairly strong first place lead. That first place gave him 13.9 points for the day and moves him up to 6th in B1’s field of 16. It’s still quite a distance from the top 2 who will move up to A2 next season, but it’s also a little more breathing room between him and the bottom 6 who will drop down to B2. Looking forward to checking out his play next month.
“In the first half of the day I couldn’t get a hand and I didn’t even win one in the first game. I couldn’t do anything through the 2nd game and was down 30 points, but then took 2nd place twice in a row with small positive scores. My total was negative 6.6 for the day. In the 4th game in the first hand I had this Baiman (16,000 points) hand that could have even been a Limit Hand if I had drawn it myself, but I couldn’t win (T.T)
I’m still at about zero for my total score so I’m aiming for 3 positive scores in the final 3 sessions so that I can move up. (*^-^*)”
Unfortunately we missed the opportunity to watch Saki this month but we did interview her for the site and you can check that out in a few weeks. After her victory in Pro Queen last month it must be hard to go back to the mundane League tournament, but if anyone can pull of 3 big scores in a row, she is definitely one of them. Keep your eye out for our coverage next month.
“This time I was able to push my lead up as a result of my points, but there are a few hands that I played badly that stand out.
In the first game I was lucky and took 1st place. In the 2nd game I had a great 7 Pairs hand with 2 Lucky Tiles (dora), waiting for the 2c, but when it got near the end of the game and I hadn’t won I got frustrated and changed my wait. My next draw was that 2c.
With this kind of miss there is no way I can win that hand.In Mahjong you not only have to put your entire body and soul into the game, you need to also trust yourself completely.If you lose the heart then you lose the right to win hands. I keep that in mind everyday while I’m playing but changing my wait like that proves that I was playing weakly.
After that, since I had a lot of points and there was no pressure I had other careless mistakes. There were certain hands that I could have won had I played differently but didn’t. The way I was running I should have gotten a lot more points.My task from now is to not take the points I have for granted and see if I can play Mahjong correctly.If I look at it that way, I learned a lot from this session.”
Watching from behind, it seemed as if Kozue was playing in “the zone.” In the first 2 games no one could stop her from winning. Even a hand like this:
Became an 8,000 point hand when she ponned the last , discarded , drew a , drew a (the Lucky Tile) and won on her opponent’s discarded .
The last 2 games she was a bit quieter, but she ended up with the best final score at her table thanks to the 2 wins in the beginning.
One of the things Kozue said in her comment before this month’s session was that she thinks that when she’s running well, she’s good at keeping the run going. She certainly seemed to have every intention of riding that wave as she posted the highest positive score in C2 for the second month in a row with a relentless attack, even as they mounted their own strong attacks. It’ll be interesting to see how long she can make it last, and how/if she changes her play if/when the run comes to an end.
All 4 of our featured players can be found as featured pro’s on Ron2 and Mahjong Fight Club.