The Captain Quarterfinals Part 1 – Why the Hell is Saki afraid of Kyouko?!!!

I’ve had this theory for quite sometime now. I’m just saving it here for posterity.

For those who are wondering what this is about, this will contain spoiler for Side-B Quarterfinals Block C so those who want to watch Saki Season 2 with unspoiled eyes; stay away from this post.

Remember, Saki said that she started the round by using the mental trick that Hisa taught her back in the first chapter. So this would be the beginning score :

Saki : 25,000 – 24,000 = 1000
Kyouko : 25,000 + 8,000 = 33,000
Kasumi :25,000 + 8,000 = 33,0000
Toyone: 25,000 + 8,000 = 33,000

East 1st round

Kyouko accidentally stopped Saki’s kan. Kyouko called something allowing Kasumi to get the tile Saki needs and since Kasumi is a really good defender she kept it. Anyway the round ends with Kyouko ronning Toyone. Thus the score for this is:

Saki : 1,000
Kyouko : 33,000 + 3,900 = 36,900
Kasumi : 33,000
Toyone: 33,000 – 3,900 = 29,100

East 2nd round


This round ends with Kyouko doing another quick tsumo. (2,000/1000) . Saki looks a bit surprised but she should be, in her perspective she is at zero points.

Saki : 1,000 – 1,000 = 0
Kyouko : 36,900 + 4,000 = 40,900
Kasumi : 33,000 – 1,000 = 32,000
Toyone : 29,100 – 2,000 = 27,100

East 3rd round

I think Saki is still a bit shaken in this round, remember from her perspective she is exactly at zero points. Unfortunately, this is Saki’s dealership and she got hit by a ron. Ouch. And consequently if we follow her perspective, she is also below zero. Double ouch. Notably, it was Kyouko who did this by directly hitting Saki.

Saki : 0 – 2,600 = -2,600
Kyouko : 40,900 + 2,600 = 43,500
Kasumi : 32,000
Toyone: 27,100

I hypothesize that this is the time wherein Saki decides to switch out of Hisa’s mental trick and go for the easier and more comfortable (for her, anyway) +/-zero route. If you check the manga page, we get Toyone and Kasumi’s reaction to this win which is in the variation of easy going comments about how Kyouko seems to be rushing her win. Saki doesn’t have any comment and now we know why.

East 4th round (Saki is already in the +/-zero mode)

This is Kyouko’s dealership. She is once again rushing to get a quick win. But, the moment she did a riichi, Saki called a kan on Kyouko’s discards and won.
Rinshan Kaihou for 8,000 points + 1,000 for the riichi stick. That was some quick revenge – she got all the points she lost and more. 😀

Additional Comments:

I am not surprised that Hisa’s mental trick didn’t work. In this match. that trick is more like a mental handicap. The reason why this worked in the early episode was because Saki has no idea there was a trick involved. She really thought that it was the situation back then, not so much here, where she is essentially trying to trick herself and probably causing cognition dissonance/ unnecessary mental stress on herself at the process.

To give you guys a rough idea of what Saki is trying to accomplish. A comparable analogy using a fighting game would be  trying to do fight your opponents without getting hit even once and then trying to finish with a predetermined exact score. That’s is to say almost impossible to accomplish even if your opponents are total mooks.

At least, Saki realized the futility of it here. She dropped the condition of not getting hit. On the other hand, we know she still finished with the exact score she wants while still winning in the process. Against powerful opponents at that.  Oh wait, I forgot she also has socks on at this match. What does that translates to, tying her hand behind her back? Lol! Mahjong is fun! But, you guys already know that.

Credits go for Felyndiira for the pics with comments.

Anyway, stay tuned for Part 2 where I will continue to analyze the Quarterfinal Side-B match.

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16 Responses to The Captain Quarterfinals Part 1 – Why the Hell is Saki afraid of Kyouko?!!!

  1. lightbringer says:

    I'm glad you made this post. This certainly cleared my confusion on why would Saki be afraid of Kyouko.

  2. overdue123 says:

    Dang, now I get why Saki was afraid of Kyouko! Thanks! 😀

  3. Cytrus says:

    That last kan is about the worst move one could make in the game… no yaku hand and dealer in riichi. Compared to the other monsters at the table, who are still hiding their powers at that point, Saki really has no qualms about announcing her game-breaking powers.

    • Cytrus says:

      But when Saki played in the clubroom, everyone was playing regular mahjong. Here, Kyouko is the the only one who can afford ignoring point totals as long as she skips an opponent's turn, so they aren't playing on even ground.

      • About the uneven playing ground, yes I agree Kyouko did have the advantage in this match especially since Himematsu is first when they began. And it did give Kyouko, the luxury of going for cheap hands and calling tiles away.

        A part of your statement was unclear though, where you referring to the fact that Saki should not have played +/- zero here because of this?

    • I do agree that Saki has no qualms about hiding her Rinshan Kaihou. Though strategically, there is really no reason to hide her Rinshan because the way Saki keeps spamming them on the prefecture tournament, anyone who look at her records will note it. ^^

      On the other hand, Saki's predisposition to the yaku actually has some of her opponents convinced that its all that she can do. But, we the audience knows that she's not very limited to it. Besides, Ritz keep hinting about other powers/abilities that Saki possess that no one has yet to make note of.

      Anyway, regarding that I actually have a theory that Saki wants everyone know that she is doing Rinshan Kaihou. Perhaps, not because of the above strategy but a way to talk to a certain someone. We know that this yaku after all that Teru personally pointed out to her. Could it be spamming that yaku is an affirmation of her purpose on the tournament? Perhaps she just likes seeing the last tangible vestige of her bond with Teru? Perhaps she wants Teru to know she's using that yaku? Hopefully, all of the above? 😀

      Oh yeah. As you've pointed out that is really a reckless kan.
      But, after doing some tallying, I realized that's actually part of Saki's +/- zero game plan. Seriously, Saki needs that exact 8,000 score +1,000 for the riichi stick = 9,000 in all to get +/- zero.

      If you add it all up, from a normal +/- zero perspective, she gets 30,400. This is the reason why I mainly chose this round for the shift in Hisa trick to normal zero mode. Not only, did Kyouko get her into imaginary negative last round. But, with this one retaliatory move she got +/- zero.

      • Cytrus says:

        I don't think she has a choice but to play with +/- 0 or by aiming for rinshan kaihou. Saki's mahjong skills without probability manipulation aren't all that, as evidenced by her experience with online mahjong, where she did poorly. She did tell Hisa that she "couldn't see [the tiles?]" without resorting to +/- 0 in the match you analyze.

        • I hold the opposite position regarding that, at the very least Saki getting +/- zero should give her great point crunching, hand building abilities and situation awareness in mahjong. I believe that this things are one of the cause( the other being ridiculous luck) that give arise to her +/- zero ability, not the other way around. After all, the canon reason she developed her +/- zero was supposedly because she was winning too much against her family.

          I mostly believe that Saki plays this way because of residual habit. Saki did start this style when she was six so she has more than half a decade of bad habits to eliminate.

          And about that, I have a pet theory on why Saki did very badly playing with a computer. I'll post something for you somewhere next week. After all, after browsing your site, I have a feeling that like me you're going to watch a suspiciously similar show to Saki, just with tanks. 😀

      • Cytrus says:

        Point taken that at some point in time, Saki was good enough at non +/- 0 mahjong to play on equal ground (details unknown) against two adults and young Teru. We don't know if at that point she had already awakened to her Rinshan (likely), and if she kept on spamming that to win, or whether she could win with a variety of powerful hands like her Kokushi in the early chapters. Teru was probably not as powerful back then, and we don't know how good their parents are, but I do not believe you could match even young Teru without some level of supernatural flow control. So I have to concede that at some point Saki was not reliant on +/- 0 for her flow control.

        I do believe, though, that she grew reliant on it somewhere along the way. If you've read the conclusion to Achiga already, +/- 0 is what I'd brand Saki's "territory" – a necessary condition for her to unleash her full power. Getting +/- 0 (or basically any other score of your choosing) in every match you play is indeed even more difficult than just "winning" all the time, so it wouldn't be surprising that Saki had to sacrifice a lot and put additional restrictions on herself to get her hands on that much power (I mean, it actually worked on Teru, of all people). It all boils down to a bad habit, as you say. But habits are very powerful things, as they are very close to a person's true nature – things they do naturally, subconsciously, without having to think about them. Shizuno defined her territory through years of mountain climbing. If Saki defined her own through years of +/- 0, it will require a fundamental change in her character for her to change the nature of her power, if at all possible. Think of how difficult it was for Kuro to discard a single dora when she wasn't even trying to change the inner workings of her power.

        I think I'm holding back on Girls und Panzer until the last episode is released so that I can watch them back to back. We waited three months, what's one week more ;)?

        • Hmm… I agree with a lot of your points. The plus/minus zero thing is probably an integral part of Saki’s character by now. I mostly think of it as Saki’s safety blanket in mahjong. She defaults to it in times of great stress. But, I don’t agree that it is a way Saki could show her potential “full power.” Because, the plus/minus zero, no matter how i looked at it is a restriction. By its very nature as long as Saki uses it she is under a very big handicap.

          Though, I do get your point. I once thought that Saki must use +/- zero as a way to show full control at the beginning of the anime. The captain prefecture match demolished my belief in that though. Saki was perfectly able to use her flow control or table control even when she isn’t aiming at +/- zero proving that its not a restriction she must adhere too. Its not like Kuro’s dora wherein she must not discard or her skill will go kaput.

          To summarize, for me:
          Flow control —-> +/- zero
          Saki’s flow control give arise/allows her to get +/- zero not the other way around. Which meant the ridiculous flow control is the power while the +/- zero is the end result.

          But, this argument is mostly academic, anyway. I do agree at the current moment, Saki uses flow control best when she is using +/- zero, but I contend this is because Saki is used to doing it so it makes things easier for her.

          Its like someone putting heavy weights on and practicing running for several years. At first, she was slower but after becoming accustomed and after such a long time, the runner cannot think of running without the weights on. Heck, she may even become a faster runner due to the sheer amount of training she put even with her current handicap.

          On the other hand, once she took off those weights. Perhaps she will put too much force on her steps due to the weights but since they are no longer there. It may mess with her running posture causing her to lose speed. It may make the runner feel uneasy since there is no longer any familiarity. Things like that may cause her to be slower without the weights for the moment, but as she becomes more accustomed, she would surely be able to gain a better running speed than when she has weights on.

          But, this is going to be a long term project. Its a good thing as far as Saki is concerned, I’m seeing what can be interpreted as progress on this font.

          On GuP,
          I envy your patience. I actually watched the livestream because I couldn’t wait. ^^
          I think you should watch it too. Besides, I think waiting and theory-crafting is half the fun.

          Come on!!!
          You know you want to,
          Watch the episode, Its awesomesauce. Lol

          Anyway, I should warn you that if you don’t want to watch there is something that is very spoiler prone regarding that episode and you should avoid a lot of forums from now on. 😀

      • Cytrus says:

        So yeah, we basically think the same, except for the "egg and chicken" problem with Saki's general flow control and the more specific +/- 0. I think both approaches are equally reasonable, but both leave some questions unanswered. If you go with my approach, you have to answer why Saki could play well against Koromo despite not being stated as playing +/- 0 there. With your approach, there's the question why Saki found the quarterfinals table so much more challenging than the Koromo table, and why she couldn't see the tiles before resorting to +/- 0.

        I'll just add that when I say that Saki is at her most powerful when using +/- 0, it does not necessarily mean that's the best way for her to play. This just means that it's the most surefire way for her to override the abilities of others. There are plenty of situations in mahjong where going for +/- 0 would not give Saki's team victory, so it would be quite useless. To begin with, mahjong as played in the series is all about getting 1st (at least in the finals), and not +/-0, so the ability to get 1st 80% of the time is superior to getting +/- 0 100% of the time (even if that can sometimes give you 1st place anyway).

        Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Hisa found some way for Saki to overcome her bad habit before the finals. If that happens, we'll have Saki play a more varied and unrestricted game… with plenty of rinshans, though ;).

        I like GuP a lot so I'm sure it'll be worth the wait ^_^. Glad to hear you were satisfied with the episode, though, puts me at ease. As you say, I have a lot of evading to do this week :].

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