~ The following article is from “Mahjong Kai No 9” ~
There are various kinds of issues that can occur during a game, and different parlors may have different ways of handling them. This time, Oogai pro gives an example. Let us learn all the cases and practice good manners according to his advice.
I always impose my own view on you like a tyrant, but not this time.
I am going to tell you about a problem I have not yet solved. I am unsure if these are just about manners, but just take a look.
The late ron declaration is one of my unsolved problems. It is a difficult problem for staff members to handle.
First, I will tell you a shameful story about myself. I began to have trouble with late ron declarations when I made a foolish mistake thirty years ago.
In those days, everyone played mahjong with manners so poor that present-day players would leave table after just one game.
I was just a student, and the elder players at the table would look at me and say, “Draw your tile faster!” (the implication being to sakizumo, or draw a tile before the player before me had made their discard).
In the middle of the final hand of the game, I was in 3rd place and got to tenpai for pinfu with 1 dora. Each score is below:
East player 25400
South player 24300 (me)
West player 26900
North player 23400
If I called riichi, I would get 1st place no matter who dealt into my hand, but I could be 4th place due to the riichi bet. I decided not to declare ron from either the east or north players.
This plan was very timid in spite of my youth. As it turned out, my toimen (the north player) discarded my winning tile. I saw my shimocha (the west player) moving both of their hands to the table, so at that instant, I declared, “ron”.
In those days, older players tended not to declare when they won, instead just opening their hands. As a result, my declaration was regarded as being earlier than my shimocha’s. Because of the double ron, I finished the game in 2nd place. Nobody felt strange because my declaration was very quick, but I know it was a kind of late ron.
As a result, I could not focus on the game for the rest of the day. Even after I finished playing, I was annoyed about it until the next day. It would be exaggerating to say that this was “self-hatred”, but it was worse than just a “bad aftertaste”, and this difficult feeling stayed with me for some time.
By the way, this is off-topic as usual, I heard some people saying “遅ロン” (late ron, “osoron”) as “chiron”. I think people should say “osoron” as they said traditionally. This is because it is easier for the listener to figure out its meaning. This is the same concept as reading “Shiun” as “yubiun”.
Returning to the main story, several years later, a similar incident occurred when I found myself working in a mahjong-related field. I was playing as a customer at a parlor, and a certain young pro at my table made a late ron. I remember that situation clearly for some reason.
He was not doing well at all that day. In the final hand of the 6th or so match, he was in 4th place and 6300 points behind 3rd place (who happened to be the manager of the store). When the half of the hand passed, he called riichi after some thought. I was very far ahead and the last dealer, so I did not need to win the hand. But my hand got to tenpai with kanchan waiting on
Should we warn osoron?
The reason why he called ron late was in his hand. The young pro’s hand was only riichi pinfu. His thought process before the riichi was probably, “If I win by tsumo get 1 ura dora, I can increase my placement. Also, the shuugi I can get from an ura 1 tsumo will cover the cost of this game, so I will pass if another player deals my winning tile”.
[Editor’s note: “Shuugi” refers to bonus payments often used in gambling parlors. Players exchange “chips” during the game based on certain events, such as winning with ippatsu, ura dora, or aka dora. These chips are worth money and do not directly affect the score of the game.]
So he tried not to win by ron, but suddenly another player did. As a result, he took 5 seconds to rethink his decision. He revealed the ura dora, got 1, and succeeded in placing 3rd after all.
After a while, an acquaintance told me that the manager ended up giving the young pro a warning.
“Thankfully, that late ron of yours didn’t cause any problems because you took it from me. But if you did that to a customer, you would be in trouble. And, if you had kept to your original intention of passing up your winning tile, that would have been much cooler.”
I heard this story and thought that I should provide guidance to my customers for the first time. Some players think this kind of late ron is unfair, but it may shun the players who do not think so. At the very least, it may make the latter feel uncomfortable.
I also thought that the manager was great because he stated his opinion clearly. Maybe he was worried about the young pro’s future.
Since then, for upwards of ten years, I have tried telling the staff and the customers who are earnest about playing mahjong not to do the immoral late ron. But it is impossible to let every customer know and be thorough. Even if I put it in the rule list, there is no way to stop what may be a snap decision by a player.
Even with all that, I feel as though this is not a topic that can be easily understood. I wonder if in such a situation I could easily deny another player’s late ron and convince them to accept it. After all, whether the player had decided to pass on their winning tile is only something they could know.
This is the problem that I have not yet resolved, even after so many years. If the chance arises, let me know what you think. I am stuck on the problem of how to handle it and whether it is unfair or not. Please feel free to share your opinions.
Author: Oogai, Hiromi
Profile: Born in 1960 and from Tokyo. With the 101 Kyogi-Renmei. The 22nd and 30th champion. After experiencing as a family-style restaurant manager, he fell in love with the competitive mahjong style and goes into the Pro Mahjong industry.
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Born and living in Japan. I play mahjong once a week at a mahjong parlor. I hope you enjoy mahjong and articles.