Just as I had in January, this past weekend I participated in another live session of Japanese-style mahjong, aka “Riichi” or “Reach” mahjong. It’s held by the “United States Professional Mahjong League,” but don’t take that name too seriously. These are not a bunch of hardened grizzled tile veterans who have mastered the game.
Since last time I’d done some more reading on the various types of mahjong out there, from Chinese to Korean to the outright outlandish American style (which features “jokers” of all things), and discovered that, for various reasons, Japanese mahjong is considered much more of a defensive game than the others. Not that this knowledge really helped me too much, but it was a new way of looking at the game. It also makes it clear why Akagi is so crazy: when it comes to his chosen game, a game where “not losing” is generally more important than “winning,” as Sub often puts it, Akagi is an incredibly aggressive player.
Speaking of Sub, he was there too, and we played two hanchan sessions together, i.e. the format which takes longer. I managed to do both well and terribly, winning the first session, where my waits were effective, and then hitting dead last in the second session, where I was largely unable to do anything.
Luck factors aside, and mahjong is certainly full of them, the big thing I realized about myself when it comes to the art of tile-slinging is that I have some issues with mental stamina. After a while, I was just making bad decisions because I couldn’t focus. Not to say I would’ve won had I done that, but I could actually feel my concentration slipping away partway through the second hanchan as I struggled to even think of hands to aim for. It’s something I really have to watch out for; maybe I should bring some fresh fruit to the event to keep my brain sharp and ready.
Or I could keep eating Pringles. Speaking of which, isn’t it amazing that the craving for Pringles feels so different from the craving for normal potato chips? I know I’m amazed.