I Don’t Remember the Long Ass Acronym: Cheap Hands and When to Compromise

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Suppose you are in a crazy tough match with three lesbian mahjong players. They enjoy going for big closed hands. And getting ron’d by them hurts like a motherfucker. So what should you do? Ask Kastel to finish his mahjong guide, of course!

Wittgenstein on Mahjong

The great thing about online mahjong is that you’re shrouded by anonymity. You can be an asshole if you want to. Feel free to destroy people’s good closed hands. Sure, he or she might be going for a chuuren poutou (九蓮宝燈), the most beautiful yakuman on the planet. But fuck that player. You wanna win. I cannot stress this enough: Don’t be ashamed of doing an open hand; everyone wants to win.

And open tanyao (断么) is probably the most notorious yaku as cheap hands go. Once you realize it is a mahjong player’s best friend when in need, you will find mahjong easier to play.

This is from experience. I used to go for closed hands, but I kept on losing because everyone went for open tanyao. Mahjong is a dog-eat-dog world. Either ron or die.

Remember how to do a tanyao? Just discard terminals and honors. So when you chi or pon, make sure to not grab a terminal or honor. Make sets out of 2-8 tiles. It’s that simple. You can also do this as a closed tanyao if you want to add value. What makes it notorious is how easy it is to make.

You can also do a open yakuhai. Pon the wind tile that’s either your seat wind or the current round’s wind or any of the dragons.

With cheap open yakus, you have freedom to do whatever you want with your tiles. As long as you have one yaku, you can win. Players who tend to go cheap love to target tiles that are considered safe. For example, someone who has yakuhai might consider targeting a wind tile that isn’t his or her seat. Someone with tanyao who has discarded a bunch of numbered tiles might go for a numbered tile. Open hands are troll-ific.

Remember your aim is to win. Cheap open hands are sportsman-like. It’s the other players’ job to defend against it and they have no right to bitch about your hand.

Other cheap yakus and techniques to consider:

My favorite cheap hand is sanshoku doujun (三色同順) because it looks so badass. Basically, have the same set of numbers in all three suits. If it’s 3-4-5 bamboos, then get 3-4-5 for the other two suits. You can chi this. The great thing about this cheap yaku is that few people would expect it. Say you chi’d a 7-8-9 bamboo. Everyone would assume you’re either going for a terminal-inclined yaku or a chinitsu, but in fact all you need is a 8-character to finish your lovely hand. All you have to do is wait for a bumbling fool to discard one and voila~

Also, consider chii’ing or pon’ning a random set that seems like it would give you no yaku (terminals and wind tiles that don’t give you yakuhai). But you actually have a yaku in your closed hand. Yakuhai is great for that.

If nothing else, compromise:

What if your hand started out large but everyone else is a Saki? Or you keep drawing useless tiles that don’t make your chiitoi, or seven pairs, work? In the case of chiitoi, pon. Go for a toitoi. Or a tanyao. Anything. Learn how to make your hands shittier if you want to tenpai. Some hands will never work.

This advice has never failed people: If cheapening your hands makes you complete your hand faster, then do it.

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