Time to throw in your hand

The rewards of a self-drawn hand are enormous. So much so that many players figure, “I’d rather throw my opponent’s winning tile rather than let him finish with a self-drawn one.” But as with all games, these issues are situational. Depending on what tiles you hold, you will have to make the decision to block certain tiles or throw in your hand. For example, the player to your right has melded the two chows shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

chow chow


He has discarded the 9 tiles shown. It appears that he is building a Pure Straight. But if you make ready, you should be willing to throw or ( is hardly even a concern, since he has discarded it earlier).

However, if you are still 2 tiles away, you are advised not to throw or . If you are that far from completing your hand, you should not be so willing to assist an opponent. The problem is this: if you give the opponent the winning tile, your score will fall behind all three opponents. Even the other two players, the “bystanders,” will gain almost a 20-point lead on you. Perhaps even worse, if the opponent holds the hand shown in Figure 2, throwing will guarantee his Pure Straight.

Figure 2

chow chow

Now that you’ve given him the points he needs, he’s very close to finishing. If he picks his last tile, all three remaining players will take a big hit. Remember, in many cases, it’s more devastating to help a player make ready than it is to give him a winning tile.

Figure 3

chow chow pung


Next, consider Figure 3. The melds of this player suggest All Types or Mixed Triple Chow. In this case, you need not block honors, but you should block suit tiles. With his discard, is dangerous honor that could complete All Types, and , or are the dangerous bamboos that could complete Mixed Triple Chow.

The difference is this: when you block the , you have nearly no chance of completing your own hand. But when you block , the chances of recovering are high. If you don’t have much of a chance of finishing, you may want to play it completely safe. But if you have a decent chance of building a hand, you should throw .