Need to pick your last tile to win? No problem!

Players quickly become comfortable with the easier combinations, such as Mixed Shifted Chows, Mixed Triple Chow, Mixed Straight, Pure Straight, and All Types. They have a bit more trouble making 8 points with an All Chows (2 pts.) + Fully Concealed Hand (4 pts.) combo that requires a few extra points. It is more difficult to combine the smaller combinations than it is to build a single larger combination. For example, take Figure 1.

Figure 1

When self-picked, you have at least Fully Concealed Hand (4 pts.) + All Chows (2 pts.) + Mixed Double Chow (1 pts.). With the , add another Mixed Double Chow (1 pt.). With the , add a Short Straight (1 pt.). In either case, you have 8 points.

If you pick your last tile, you will score enough points to go out. But you cannot go off another player’s discard. This is a position some players like to avoid. But what is the value of this hand? It gains value from being a 2-chance hand. It’s limited by the fact that you must pick your last tile. But this is somewhat counterbalanced by the fact that when you do successfully pick your last tile, you gain a very significant point bonus.

When you are ready on combinations like Mixed Shifted Chows, Mixed Triple Chow, Pure Straight, or All Types, you will find that you will usually be dependent on a single tile to finish (even if you have a 2-chance hand, one of the chances often does not score sufficient points --- as in Figure 2).

Figure 2

You’ve made ready, but will any tile do?

chow chow

If you are trying to pick your last tile, the hand in Figure 1 is double the value of the hand in Figure 2 (because it has double the winning tiles). In most cases, of course, you will want the chance to go out on players’ discards. Therefore, in general, you should aim to create a hand like the one in Figure 2. But the added value gained by the 2-chances in Figure 1, when compared to the more commonly seen 1-chance hand in Figure 2, is significant.

Now, for a quiz. What tile would you discard with the hand in Figure 3?

Figure 3

Discarding the gives you Mixed Shifted Chows, All Chows, and Short Straight. Discarding the gives you just enough points, but you must pick your tile: Fully Concealed Hand (4 pts.) + All Chows (2 pts.) + Short Straight (1 pt.) + Mixed Double Chow (1 pt.). Either the or will do.

The authors (Mai Hatsune and Takunori Kajimoto) prefer to discard . Our reasoning is that, with the added value afforded by self-drawing a hand, why sacrifice a 2-chance hand just to make a 1-chance hand that can be taken off an opponent’s discard? Even if an opponent throws the winning tile, the hand is really not worth that much. In that case, we’d rather go for a larger hand, even if it means that we have to self-draw the winning tile.

Finally, take a look at the 3-chance hand in Figure 4.

Figure 4

If an opponent discards any of these tiles, you can finish your hand. If you had this hand very early in the game, you should seriously consider letting a tile or two through, so that you can have a shot at picking the tile yourself and substantially adding to your score.