1st Half of the Vanguard Finals – Mysterious Cousins and Rare Yakumans

Half a year had passed and there are ten chapters of Saki I haven’t read!

Reading the chapters in one go, the Vanguard Final is really starting with a bang. They dropped two rare yakuman in one hanchan! It helped my mood that Ritz finally revealed the mysterious cousin’s name as well.

So for the first post of the year (yeah I know its March now, my 2019 writing is hideously unproductive), have some bunch of trivia to help you appreciate the Vanguard match.

We begin with some word trivia. Starting with mysterious cousin’s name.

Hikari-chan!

This name was actually contrary to my expectations. I was betting something related to water or the sea. In my defense, the only thing we knew about Hikari-chan at that time was the fact that she loved swimming and eating fish. That and she can no longer do the former because of some sickness or disability.

All the same Hikari (光) is an intriguing name choice for our mysterious cousin. It gives certain implication considering the obviously symbolic name associations established for this family.

As you know or if you watched enough anime, Hikari means “light” or “ray” This is interesting because Teru (照) means “illuminate” or “shine”. Thus, if you read the “light” meaning for Hikari, the two words are basically synonymous to one another!

This could mean many things. One, there are similarities between Teru and Hikari whether by power, personality or even role. In differing ways, Hikari and Teru could be interpreted as bright sources of light for Saki.

That said, it is also possible that the name association between Teru and Hikari is describing their relationship. While nearly interchangeable, shine (Teru) and light (Hikari) do have their differences. For example. as a noun, light could be said as the brightness that let you see things or something that produces such brightness. On the other hand, shine is the brightness itself.

Shine and Light relationship as nouns could be summed up like this: Something has a “shine” because it is reflecting “light“.

We have long speculated that whatever was wrong with the Miyanaga relationship has something to do with Hikari. It is entirely conceivable that Ritz might have reflected that on her name choices. I won’t be surprised if there were some future revelation which amounts to “Teru doesn’t shine because Hikari was missing or something.”

And this is if we only take the “light” meaning for Hikari! It is equally possible that we are meant to interpret that as “ray”. Or both. It is too bad we don’t get Hikari’s surname. That could be a clue if Hikari is a ray of something.

Also, I’m 90% sure Hikari-chan is alive somewhere. When Saki mentioned Hikari to Yuuki, there wasn’t any sign of grief or sorrow that you might expect when talking to someone beloved that has passed away.

…That and Ritz is name dropping the World Cup in the main series a bit too consistently. Who wants to bet that if Hikari is alive, she’s going to be there? ^^


And now lets us have some trivia about statistics!

In the latest chapter, we have Touka commenting Tenhou and Nine Gates to be one of the top 3 rarest yaku to get. Earlier, we even have the commentators saying the Tenhou Yuuki got was the first of its kind in the tournament.

Such comments made me wonder of the rarity of the yakuman. Thankfully, u/Lxa of r/mahjong has gathered such data already from Tenhou so I don’t need to do it. If he/she ever see this post, advance thanks! You saved me hours of calculation and data mining!

From their post, said data covers 147 months (12 years 3 months) period from October 2006 to December 2018. All rule types of 4-player games in all four ranking rooms, both East-only and East-South, are included. Note that 3-player games are not included.

This is a boon to us since it is incredibly close to Saki’s mahjong format. So without further ado, this is data presented by u/Lxa arranged in table format.

Note that this data was from 645,172,050 wins in 94,867,332 game sessions. I also took out the Kazoe Yakuman (Counted Yakuman) from the list. Many have noted that it was suspiciously high. (#3 on the chart) and there might be problems with the algorithm such as not counting kazoe yakuman made with dora.

Rarest Yakuman in Tenhou

As you can see, with some adjustment the data matches – Tenhou and the Pure Nine Gates are the 3rd and 2nd rarest yakuman, respectively. The rarest yakuman is freaking suu kantsu (which is fair, out of all the occult powers introduced in the manga only Saki has a feasible chance to do it and even then it would probably be tricky). In contrast, Teru already commented that Takami and Awaii have decent chances of getting Tenhou.

The reason for the rarity of the top 3 yakuman is also quite apparent. It’s especially obvious for tenhou since you need to have a tenpai for your opening hand, then draw the winning tile on the first draw!

Heck, Yuuki only got it by basically preparing the whole tournament – combining the peak of her ability with Hisa’s bad wait. It is only a hypothesis but I think Yuuki’s wave function counts the number of East round that passed. So, she should be not at be at the peak of the ability but a step close to it next hanchan. Still pretty powerful but I doubt a next Tenhou is in the cards.

For pure chuuren puuto, you need the exact 1-1-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-9-9 tiles of a specific suit for it. This is a tall order in itself. But, even if we assume based on tile distribution that you can get the pure nine gates someone has probably won the game before you can build it because this yakuman is slow. That and you’d probably content yourself with a Chiniisou or the none pure version. ^^

As for Teru, she’ll probably be a terror in the next hanchan again. Still, the activation for the guaranteed pure chuuren puuto (that not even Saki, Hikari and their Mom can stop) is apparently 8 consecutive tsumo wins. If the rest of her opponent cooperates maybe they can cut Teru’s winning streak short or force her to ron someone.

Last, in the top 3 yakuman is the still unused – suukantsu (checkov gun in the waiting? ^^). This yakuman the same problem as the pure chuuen puuto only worse. First, suu-kantsu as the name implies need four kan. Then, you need to aim for suu kantsu and not the other yaku you probably already formed in trying to complete it – rinshan kaihou, sashoku doukou, san ankou, san kantsu, suuankou and others. This is compounded by the fact that you need to call four kans to get it. Considering that kans wreck your hand more often than not and open kans make you vulnerable as well -calling 4 of them is really not advisable.

To be honest, even as I hypothesize that Saki can make a suu kantsu by analyzing her power, I halfway expect that we won’t still see it. Because it is also equally true that Saki could probably get a kazoe yakuman or a suuankou with less the effort needed in trying for a suukantsu. It would take a pretty special situation for Saki to go for it and not the easier low hanging fruits around. But, then again, that is the problem for the author isn’t it? ^^

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  1. I’m glad you’re writing again, night_sentinel. Speaking of nine gates, do you think the furiten rule contributes to he rareness?

    • Yeah. I think the furiten rule is the reason we have the unpure nine gates to begin with. Unless you are exceptionally lucky (always an important point when going for the three rarest yakuman) you would end up in furiten when going for the pure nine gates and have to self draw in order to win. Having nine possible waits sound amazing but kinda terrible in practice when you take account the sacred discard rule.