Chapter 171 is up as well as the leaks for the next chapter. I think that I’ll be covering that in my next post since the two are interconnected. For now, since I’m already covering the first episode of Saki, I might as well continue it? This time with some actual mahjong analysis!
I would also like to give special thanks to Katreus for his mahjong expertise. Without him, this post would have come out sometime next year?
….Or not at all.
…..Probably. The writing muse is a fickle mistress.
According to Saki, this is the first game she played which is similar to what Teru will tell Sumire in the flashback. That implies the siblings stopped at roughly the same time. More than likely, it’s the same event that led to such stopping! Due to this, we can be assured said event is before Teru’s enrollment to Shiraitodai. Not much but it helps to narrow down the timeline at least.
Also, some mahjong explanation.
To make it easier, I would like everyone to remember that at its roots mahjong is a gambling game. Thus, imagine all 4 players having 30,000 points before the start of the game. The players then give 5,000 points and put it into the imaginary pot leaving each of them with 25,000 points. Whoever wins the game (i.e. first place) gets the imaginary pot of 20,000 points. Thus, for example, Nodoka finishes with a +3 getting first place. By getting first place Nodoka gets the bonus +20 making her final score +23.
Incidentally, this rule meant that it is impossible for Saki to be in first place and get +/- zero even if she manipulates the score to the eleventh degree. Luckily(?), as we discover in the next few games; Saki’s +/- zero has no bearing on what rule set but is based on Saki’s head.
In any case, we begin with the first game.
Saki’s lightning spewing flower summoning rinshan kaihou is flashy but we shouldn’t forget her other forte which is point manipulation. It is even the first thing that the manga introduced about Saki’s mahjong.
And yeah, its blatantly obvious that Saki gave the win to Yuuki for this round.
Yuuki called chi exclusively for the circle suit forming 2-3-4 and 5-6-7 melds of circle tiles. The only other meld that isn’t a circle (pin) set is the valueless honor tile (north). Yuuki’s discard pool, on the other hand, showed no circle tiles (pin). Anyone who is familiar with the game could see that Yuuki is collecting the circle (pin) tiles and thus the basic counter strategy – not dropping any circle tiles.
Kyoutarou and Yuuki justified in thinking Saki is a newbie here.
To make it more obvious that Saki gave this win, the anime added a few scenes. If you look at Saki’s discard pile, you don’t see her discarding circle tiles except for the lone terminal 9 pin. Another warning sign is Saki breaking her 3-4-5 set to discard the 3 of circles.
A normal Saki discard would be the eight of bamboo considering it is on Yuuki’s discard pile and thus safe. That and since this is Saki, the six of bamboo meld is more than likely kan material so she has to discard the eight of bamboo for hand development anyway.
Ritz skipped until the last round wherein Kyoutaro declared a riichi and discarded one of circles.
And as said by the subtitle, Ritz made a mistake. That hand isn’t a sanshoku. By winning with one of circles it became a pinfu. See:
22 pairs of bamboo – 234 meld of bamboo – 234 meld of characters- 123 meld of circles– 456 meld of circles.
A sanshoku need to have the same sequence of melds on all suits. Meaning it needs to have a 234 meld of circles instead of the 123 meld here. It is easy to fix though. In order for this to be a sanshoku, Kyoutaro should just discard a four of circles or a seven of circles to preserve the 234 meld of circles and make the last meld (4)56 of circles or 56(7) of circles.
That said, according to Yumi-chin (in the comment section), the line in the anime could be a mistranslation by the subs. Instead, of Saki getting a Sanshoku, the line is supposed to be Saki throwing a Sanshoku yaku for a less valuable hand. Which you guys know is something that happens a lot when Saki does +/-zero.
Also makes Saki’s score at the end blatantly suspicious.
Two +/- zero in a row.
Its a bit of an eye-catching score isn’t it? Hisa noticed the shenanigan once she saw the scoreboard. Heck, the only reason people don’t go crying bullshit sooner is the fact that it is ridiculously improbably to ensure ones score to end up +/-o (or any other way to be honest).
That said, the first game is quite close. If we take out the first rank bonus from Nodoka, she ends up as +3 – a mere thousand point away from Yuuki. Yuuki, on the other hand, is 2,000 point away from Saki.
Heh. Just noticed, 2,000 points is the exact number that Saki fed to Yuuki with the ron honitsu in the first hand. I wonder if that meant anything?
Game 2 is where Nodoka dominates with an 11,000 point from 2nd even without the first rank bonus.
As for Kyoutaro… Better luck next time. ^^
And now, for our last hand of this post. We are back to Saki shenanigan.
You see, when Hisa passed by the table she got a glimpse of Saki’s hand. Which is a pinfu tanyao sanshoku doujun. Saki has a 678 meld of characters -(2)34(5) waiting meld of circles – 678 meld of circles- 22 pair of bamboo – 678 meld of bamboo.
At the minimum, if Saki calls a ron this should net 4 han 30 fu which is 7,700 points. If Saki draws the tile herself, the hand is already a mangan worth 8,000 points (4,000/2,000). And judging from the discard table, the two-way wait isn’t bad either.
So when Saki calls a ron for 1,000 points. Hisa knows something is up.
One of the thing that doesn’t make sense is when Saki drew the 9 of characters and discarded the 6 of characters. Discarding the 6 of characters destroy the 678 meld and thus destroys the chance for a sanshoku. Remember the same sequence (in this case 678) must occur in all the sequence. It would have been palatable if the 9 of characters is a dangerous tile but if you look at the discards it seems safe. (Not to mention, its a terminal tile, which in my experience is a bit safer than tiles in the middle sequence).
Hisa quickly realizes it when Saki’s score is +/-zero for the third time.
It is only now when we’re introduced to Teru, reigning champion of inter-high and someone who walks all over her opponent without trying that the full implication of the above image is clear. Not to mention the probable power level of Ai Arctander AKA Miyanaga Mom…
The implication of Saki’s reason for developing her +/- zero playstyle; Saki wins too much and Saki doesn’t like the consequence of losing.
If Saki ever develops to her full potential she will be ridiculous.
On a lighter note, I’ve noticed that the consequence of losing is changed from the manga to the anime. It is losing candy in the anime while it is losing her new year money in the manga. Though, I note that the rewards are not mutually exclusive as regular games could have candy as a bet while new year games can have money.
As I read Teru’s flashback in the manga, I think the change is a plot point. We know that Teru has a massive sweet tooth. The reason why Teru entered the Shiraitodai mahjong club is because of SWEETS and PANCAKES. And unless I’m missing something this is a trait that Saki doesn’t share with Teru.
Remember that the Miyanaga family games in the anime have candy as the prize for winning and losing. Teru who has an established sweet tooth might have fought harder in those games simply because she like the reward better. It would neatly explain why Teru doesn’t mind selling her mahjong skills for pancake and sweets as well. It would be business as usual for Teru! A continuation of her family games.
Saki, on the other hand, unless I’m missing something doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth which makes the daily mahjong prizes in their household less appealing. Not to mention Saki’s self-sacrificing tendency. Besides the reaction of other family members, Saki might feel guilty for getting more than her fair share if she wins. Thus, +/- zero wherein Saki wouldn’t take someone’s share and just keep her rightful share.
This also neatly explains why the Kiyosumi team would have to try harder in bribing Saki than Teru. Saki has more antipathy for mahjong as a game and they don’t have much of a hook. More on that later…
Whenever I analyze Saki’s match, I’m reminded of Saki’s playstyle. It is a sharp contrast to Teru’s playstyle which is straightforward. It makes me think about personality and mahjong which in the Saki-verse is strongly correlated.
I’m then reminded of Saki and Teru’s answer for why they hate mahjong to Nodoka and Sumire respectively. In many ways, even if Teru gave less detail to Sumire “have painful memories”, it is probably the more truthful answer. It conveyed the appropriate context of the situation. Saki’s +/-0 explanation of their family mahjong games while not lying managed to make light of the situation.
And yet, I’m hesitant to label Saki as deceptive and Teru the more honest of the two. Perhaps, it is more accurate to say that Teru is straightforward like her playstyle? Teru directly tells the truth or Teru directly tells lies. In contrast to Saki whom like her playstyle is circuitous and obscured? While Saki does tell the truth more often than not, her answers need context.
Finally, I’m glad that there seems to be a reason why Ritz changed the reward to candy from New Year’s Money. It is a bit reassuring that even back then when the anime first aired Teru is set to have a sweet tooth. ^^