Complete Beginners Guide to Online Mahjong – Part 3 – Playan

TACOS: Ron^5 is a nice guy, and has been placing impressively in European tournaments of late. I had to badger him a lot into getting what I wanted, so thanks for the thingy! He grinds like 20 matches a day and has managed to internalize his thought process, so you’ll be getting more of the straight up action without me going on about not dealing into hands.

Ok, so mou asked me some others to contribute to a blag post of his, which is intended to guide beginners (who know the basic rules apparently) to a bit more advanced play. Being a nice guy and all, I immediately told him I’ll do it, SOON. Well, soon is pretty relative, so I ended up postponing this for quite some time, telling me and mou that I’ll get around for it one day.
Anyways, here it is but I doubt I really qualify for this, as I’m pretty bad-ish myself. I’ll give it a try though, please bear with me.

What I’m going to do is pick a random replay from my tenhou dan room games and analyze my own (maybe of my opponents too) play, mistakes, decisions and the reasoning behind it, at least as far as I can remember for the critical situations.

The replay I’m going to use is:

Ok, this apparently doesn’t look too bad for a dan room game, no R1800+ guy around in this hanchan/tonnansen on normal speed.

First round starting hand. 5 shanten, not so good.
I can’t really expect anything from this hand, if I’m really lucky, I might get to chi myself a junchan, sanshoku, dora, though it’s pretty unlikely.

South riichis, his discards don’t really give an idea of what he could be going for, so it’s pretty useless trying to analyze them or something. North riichis on the same turn. His and the Dealer’s discards make souzu appear really dangerous, so these are a no-go. Plain betaori is the way to go here.

As expected.

Next hand looks better, but is still 4 shanten.

Now this was a decision between 3s and 4m, but in retrospect, it’s probably really pointless to ponder about it. You will discard the other anyways the next turn you draw a 47s or 58m. In the end, I chose 3s.

WELL, what now? One could be greedy and get rid of 56s in order to get possibly 2 (+red) dora, but that would make souzu appear extremely safe once I riichi.

Derp. I really don’t see the point in someone going for such a hand at this stage of the game, but whatever.

Finally, my dealer turn. And only 3 shanten.

Dealing the 9m from the pair earlier when I got a 7m, “because I already have enough possible pairs” backfired. From here on, my game gets utter shit tier.

Dealing 4p probably only because it was isolated and I had no idea what to do with those sou tiles.

Follow up riichi with a possible riichi, pinfu tanyao iipeikou. Any other han from an ura dora or tsumo makes this mangan. If I wanted to play it really safe, I could have discarded 7s too, no pinfu though.
In retrospect, I should not have riichi’d. The most important thing here was to keep my dealer spot and possibly hinder south from gaining a larger lead. If I kept a damaten, someone in betaori might have dropped a 2m for a nice 5800 hand.

Round ends with south solidifying his lead.

Now this hand just cries out for ponpalace and going for an open tanyao. Thus, getting rid of otakaze should be the first thing to do.

It was ruined before I could call any tiles though. I didn’t try to betaori either because the outlook of the hand looked just too tempting to me.

That concludes the east round, with me being in third place, with quite a bit behind second and third, and only a 4000 points ahead of last.

My priority here is to prevent the dealer from winning, since he can easily top me with a tsumo or 3-4 han ron. Getting ready to pon the hatsu anytime.

No idea why I did that. Pointless.

Didn’t really get into tenpai here, but luckily the dealer in last dealt into a hand. Which also meant chances for second became pretty slim.

Kokushi, anyone? Dealer turn again, but with a haipai at 4 shanten. It’s a bit tempting to risk a hon itsu too.

I’d normally have discarded the ton here or a few turns before, but as it’s clear that north (and west) is going for a chin/hon itsu, dealing the dora shonpai or 6s here is suicide.

My fear was baseless though. West probably wanted to prevent me from scoring as dealer as well as I did before.

With this hand and the scores, it’s best to just go for a fast hand to secure third. Getting last means -75 pt here.

Now this doesn’t leave any room except betaori’ing. Chun is by no means anything near a safe deal here though.

Ok, so this replay was pretty uneventful, adding to my already dry explanations, but whatever.

There wasn’t much I could do in this game, my starting hands weren’t really good, I was forced to defend too often and did a few mistakes myself too. In the end, I didnt even win a single hand.

I guess the only thing to learn from this for (tenhou) beginners is that you should not force yourself to win hands, but have patience and secure a place that is not fourth.
At 3 dan, a last place in a hanchan drags your stats and pt way to the next dan level down quite a bit.

7 thoughts on “Complete Beginners Guide to Online Mahjong – Part 3 – Playan

  1. But… Can you pull off +/-0 three times in a row…

    Great guide! It’s better when the hands are more “mortal-like” anyways. Gives novices like me a chance to see what real hands look like and the thoughts behind them.


  2. I have small thoughts about this guide

    1st : pinfu rule -> tanki(head) can’t be made from honours so why on the 3rd page

    @this :
    but as it’s clear that north (and west) is going for a chin/hon itsu,

    north maybe but not west…

    First : we have already know that north will go for chin/hon itsu
    11 2 333 444 5555 666 7777 8 99 <<That is what's unknow who hold it…
    Also let's see that north didn't throw ANY of honors… so its much more he/she is going for hon itsu… so he has 4-5 more sou tiles on hand + honors probably…
    west throw 2x 1s tiles so he/she didn't need them and he throw them early in game meaning that he didn't have
    2-3-4s close by or have them already completed but seeing that 2 is not much left then let assume that he have 345 or 456 set on hand, also nobody took your 9s in 8th turn so it means that 9 sou is either completed as 789 or nobody need it so what's left possible is :
    (11 out)… (345,456 possible in west hand less possible other) (345,456,567 possible in north less possible other) (99 out)…

    if you are sure that north is going for hon/chin itsu then you can see that there is not much left sou for making another chin itsu so it is almost sure that west won't complete chin itsu hand… now because west throw his seat wind at 6th turn then you can assume he have either tan-yao hand or hon-itsu hand or san-shoku-hand (4-5-6) but after throwing 6,4,6 san-shoku possibilities went out… so only tan-yao or hon-itsu left but if he/she took it so long we can also assume that he/she thought that there is still opportunity for kazepai but he somehow throws that possibility so i could say 60% tan-yao + possible dora , 40% hon-itsu

    This is how I would get through the discards and hand possibilities… of course reading discards is freaking hard and often you get it wrong but still trying to think it about gives you some more safe tiles to throws in hard situation…

    Sorry for my bad english :)

    I like this Guide and I think it is written very very good, reading this i thought (if I saw this Guide when i started playing it could help me a lot in improving myself)

  3. Actually, the pair in pinfu can be honours, but only if it’s a non-value wind (i.e. not your seat wind or the round wind)

  4. Thank You all for you time to put this together. Red Dora are new to me, I’ve never played with them.. But I guess I will learn.. maybe.. Old horses tend to hold their way, plow and all you know.

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