History of Mahjong: Cheating

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History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by HotelFSR » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:11 pm

Although I have come to appreciate them in their own way, my two pet peeves in Mahjong are Ura Dora and Menzen Tsumo.

This is largely because they are bonuses that have nothing to do with the inherent value of the hand.



It recently occurred to me that these aspects of the game in particular must have been invented and propagated by hustlers and cheats. Both Ura Dora and Menzen Tsumo are a cheater\'s dream- they are (by definition) begging for a sleight-of-hand in the palm to switch tiles and provide a guaranteed score bonus!

Pretty fishy if you ask me. What more could a hustler ask for?

While the indispensable role of unsavory and dishonest people in the early days of the game is well known and documented, I was wondering whether anyone here might know some more specifics about this.

Anyone know?

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by WorTeX » Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:53 am

I don\'t think that tsumo has been an invention of cheaters, what sense would it make that you have a hand like 2-bam 3-bam 3-bam 3-bam 8-crak 8-crak 8-crak :east :east :east 5-dot 5-dot 5-dot waiting for 1-bam 2-bam and 4-bam, you wouldn\'t want to reach because of the slight chance of Su Anko, but if one of these tiles would come, you\'d probably just tsumo, giving the hand one point more (this of course is completely depending on the situation).

If you\'re a cheater, why bother to give yourself little edge by \"managing\" to self-draw one tile while you just could make the hand bigger by other means...

Tsumo is a good addition to the game, because there is no way you could rely on it, and your hand has to be closed and you don\'t get any bonus from closed hand anyways unless you draw it by yourself.

What comes to Ura-dora, the chances of using it as a cheat are quite small, you\'d have to get the die roll always right on your own turn, and also WIN the hand without opening the hand...

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by oxoboxo » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:12 am

There is a Kindai Mahjong Manga called Mukoubuchi, where the main character plays a very high risk version of Riichi where after a win is called, one to six more doras are revealed and are calculated into the hand! I think that is definitely the gambler\'s ultimate dream! I think the term is called \'Arisu\', I\'m don\'t know anything other than that, but I\'ll look into it.

However, I think ura dora exists to add more incentive for Riichi. Let alone the 1000 points bet, not being able to change your hand is very restricting, sometimes giving someone else a win, especially if someone else declares Riichi later on.

Also, if you watch shows like Akagi or Legendary Gambler Tetsuya, there are countless ways to cheat that involve more things than just the ura dora. I\'ll post some cheating technique videos in the media section!

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by Shirluban » Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:47 am

Menzen tsumo is necessary to the game as the only way to win a no-yaku hand without riichi.

Uradora is what makes riichi worth to go for it. Give up all defense and hand improvement for just a single han is not very great.

And for cheating: If someone wants to cheat by replacing tiles, he\'d better use this trick in a more rewarding way.
Cats don't do タンヤオ (tan-yao) but タニャーオ (ta-nya-o).
World Riichi Championship Rules
Comparison of riichi rules around the world

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by HotelFSR » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:30 am

It is very easy for hustlers to cheat with these!

NOTE: I do not condone cheating and have never cheated. Do not ever try this. It will obviously not work against observant people anyway.

Wortex: You don\'t need to get the right dice roll to replace the Ura Dora. It\'s far simpler than that in practice.

The cheater just needs to have a fake one in his hand, while he reaches for the real one. He switches it at the last second just as he is checking it, and it will look like it was there all along.

With Menzen Tsumo he does the same thing with his drawn tile; palm and switch. Even easier because it\'s not in the middle of the table.

It\'s definitely rewarding in both cases, because the cheater only uses it when he desparately needs +1 (i.e. 3->4 or 5->6 yaku). Swings the game entirely.

These kinds of moves are ideal for hustlers playing against suckers. It seems clear not only that they must have invented this, but that they tailored these aspects of the game for themselves. The same surely holds true for Chinese mahjong with its large self-draw bonus.




Some responses to the above posters:


* I\'m not sure I buy that Menzen is a necessary part of the game. I\'m also not entirely convinced you should even be able to win a zero-yaku hand without Reach. That\'s essentially your punishment for having zero yaku. I think the score inflation it creates with bigger hands outweighs this smaller defensive aspect by far. The competitive game is logically better off without it.

* There are already bonuses for a closed hand: the ability to Reach, greater flexibility, harder to read, and extra yaku for several hands, extra Fu, no Kui Sagari.

* I have no problem with Menzen Tsumo when it applies to specific hands like Three or Four concealed triplets.

* Reach is definitely still worth it without Ura Dora. Plenty of players use Reach alot in A-Rules, where there are no Ura Dora at all! It\'s more interesting without Ura Dora because you have to think more about whether you should Reach.

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by WorTeX » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:58 am

Hotel, if you like cheating, this probably isn\'t the place for you.. And your ideals how everything in riichi mahjong should be changed, well duh...

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by HotelFSR » Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:01 pm

???

I\'m not sure what you mean. This is all friendly discussion... isn\'t it?


Maybe I\'ve given the wrong impression or perhaps what I have written has been interpreted the wrong way. I do NOT condone cheating! I am not a cheater and I do not like it. I hate it just like anyone else! I\'m just a big fan of the game and am curious about its history. I\'m a normal honest person just like the rest of you.


What do you referring to with \'duh\' exactly?


P.S. I just added a disclaimer to my previous post so that people do not get the wrong idea. I also reworded the text to make this more clear.


No hard feelings I hope :)

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by oxoboxo » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:38 pm

Haha well the thing is riichi has a lot of arbitrary things; if we were to say that ura dora should be eliminated since it requires no skill, then we should cut out Tenhou/Chihou/Renhou and Kokushi yakumans as well because even if you knew what to do, luck and chance is what gets you a yakuman.

Specifically the Kokushi, when you keep throwing out 2-8\'s everyone\'s going to know what you are going for and immediately throw them out.

And the argument against strategy, i mean what keeps players from simply making tanyao hands during their turn as dealer and raising the stakes to two yaku hands? Or open riichi on a simple pinfu and tsumo-ing it? Or kan-ing something which happens to be all four of the kan dora?

I think the idea behind mahjong is that luck and skill are somewhat equally intertwined in the game; Menzen tsumo is actually pretty constricting to players of other variations, where yakus aren\'t necessary needed to win (chicken hands) The probability of a tsumo ron is rare enough that it should be a yaku I believe. It\'s the same idea with a furiten tsumo; it\'s so rare and against all odds that they might as well give it to you.


I believe that riichi in itself has enough variations to keep something like ura dora and menzen tsumo from making the game unfair. Let alone you\'re playing with three other people who might not play closed-handedly all the time or riichi with a two-sided wait. The idea behind ura dora and menzen tsumo is yes, essentially arbitrary, but I do believe it has merit, even in competition.

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by oxoboxo » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:41 pm

On a side note, I don\'t know the tournament rules at all, so if yakumans and kan dora are also prohibited, then I rescind my argument :P

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by HotelFSR » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:48 pm

In tournament rules there are no Ura Dora, Kan Dora, Kan Ura Dora, or even Ippatsu.

Yakuman is allowed, Double Yakuman is sometimes not allowed.

The difference, though, is that Yakuman hands are extremely rare. Therefore, I have no problem with them- on the contrary- I find their inclusion in the game fun and exciting. Your opponents can also see them coming to some extent. I also have no problem with things like last-tile Ron and Winning on a Kan replacement tile. They are also rare. They add spice to the game.

The key distinction with Menzen Tsumo is that it happens a very large percentage of the time. Look at player stats. It is extremely common. That\'s why I think it shouldn\'t really be in competition- especially when tournament rules don\'t allow Ippatsu, presumably for very similar reasons!

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by oxoboxo » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:59 pm

Hmm, interesting; yea I was kind of worried that I would have to change my way of playing if I wanted to enter some kind of tournament. I say house rules are always the best! It\'s very difficult to measure the competitive aspects and the cut out certain pure-luck aspects of a game like riichi. Very interesting that they would leave out just ippatsu but I can understand their viewpoint. Most players would never give a ron to someone who just riichi\'d, especially pros. I think the exclusion of the ippatsu keeps an ippatsu tsumo from getting any higher.

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by HotelFSR » Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:56 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention that competition style rules also tend to use no red fives.


Having said that, there are plenty of tournaments which use the full on gambling rules. Outside of Japan pretty much every tournament is regular rules. So I wouldn\'t worry about that too much.

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by pringle » Sat Jan 24, 2009 3:15 am

A player with good skill can increase the chance of getting Menzen tsumo. I do not know how commen it is in your statistic, but it possible that in pro game, it is more difficult to Ron, especially when you already show some of your hand. Thus players forced to tsumo, and by avoiding throwing into someone hand, it may difficult to get a big hand so they have Menzen as a reward.

Ippatsu is more about luck.


Back to original topic about cheat.

To guarantee a win with Uradora or Menzen tsumo, it requires a partner or two with complicated way of cheat. And you even stated it yourself, that Uradora and Menzen is all about luck. So i think creating that kind of rule just to cheat is pretty nonsense.

If I have a team of 2 (or better with 3 to force the rule to be in use), I would try to reduce luck parameter as much as possible, unless it somethings that easier to get. With 3 people gang up, it is not difficult to bust the last one up with just a common rules. On the other hand, more luck involve is more chance for your victim to come up with somethings crazy.

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by chalwa » Sat Jan 24, 2009 9:18 am

I think Ippatsu menzen is like a lot of luck, but normal ippatsu, when others throw your winning tile, is not our luck but thier mistake, that they discarded dangerous tile right after riichi.

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Re:History of Mahjong: Cheating

Post by HotelFSR » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:23 am

Exactly.

Ippatsu is luck only when it combines with Menzen (I would prefer taking out Menzen but allowing Ippatsu, except only on Ron). That seems more logical.

Also, Menzen is by definition about luck. You cannot make it more or less likely to happen. You can have a better wait, sure, but that simply makes you more likely to win, period. That does not skew things towards Menzen in particular. Doubling your score by self drawing is pure luck.

The main problem is not the small defensive hands, but when Menzen takes you from 3->4 or 5->6 yaku. That\'s too much reward for luck and it happens pretty often.

As for it being difficult to Ron when your hand is partly open, well, Menzen doesn\'t apply then so it\'s a moot point.

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