Play Flexibly

Play Flexibly

Having finally joined the Twitter bandwagon I recently had the chance to chat with Makoto Fukuchi about a tile efficiency question found in a book he edited.


With the hand on the bottom, it's supposedly better to discard 2s rather than 8s, which may seem rather counter intuitive at first. Fukuchi was kind enough to write up a brief article on his blog explaining the logic more fully, so I've decided to translate it here.

I think this was from a foreigner.

This is a common WWYD mistake taken from Uzaku's book.

This WWYD came up in discussion in Osamuko's Discord chat. I understand the reasoning behind discarding 2s but I'm not entirely convinced.
You're more likely to get 2m5m before 5s7s, so your immediate tenpai would be a weak 5s kanchan. If you don't have the time to widen your hand shape, isn't it fine to discard 8s?

In this problem 3m4m4p5p6p6p7p8p2s4s6s7s7s8s -- dora: 2m there's not really an immediate difference between discarding 8s and discarding 2s.

(The dora is 2m, so let's forget about making a pair from the manzu.)

Depending on the situation, you might sometimes want to fix your souzu shape as a pair plus a kanchan.

But if you think about this problem one turn into the future rather than just in the here and now, it changes considerably.

If you discard 2s here and draw any of 3m4m, 3p6p9p, 4p7p, 5p8p, 6s9s8s, you get a nice, continuous shape.

Think about the possibility of making a continuous shape.

Even with a hand like this that seems unlikely to extend 3m4m2s4s6s7s7s8s2z2z2z4z4z4z -- dora: 2m

If you discard 2s, you could draw 3m4m6s9s8s.

As long as there are no other circumstances such as the dora being 2s or sanshoku being possible, it's better if you don't solidify your hand shape.

The key is to play flexibly.

When you think about it it's a rather simple lesson, and it may seem like stating the obvious, but many people (myself included) still often fall into the trap of fixing the shape of their hand. The two key takeaways here are this:

  1. Don't make decisions simply based on the immediate circumstances, but consider the possibilities of future developments. By the way, this also applies when deciding whether you should riichi immediately or try to improve your wait.

  2. At iishanten or ryanshanten it's easier to form pairs than to complete a mentsu. If your hand shape can easily widen, it becomes even easier to form pairs.