Open Tanyao

Japanese Reach Mahjong Rules. Strategy, news, sets - anything!

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Tina
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Open Tanyao

Post by Tina » Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:49 pm

Hi,

This is in response to Gemma\'s Journal on EMA riichi rules:

http://www.reachmahjong.com/home/index. ... 4&Itemid=1
However, should things like open tanyao be opened for discussion, now that the players are more established? Should there be a more democratic stance taken on these controversial points? Or perhaps more than one sort of rule set should be allowed but that all rules approved by the EMA will count towards the EMA ranking… That might be a compromise that we could all get behind.
EMA is certainly democratic, I would hate it if people think otherwise, and of course rules can - and should be - debated!

Before returning to the questions posed, let\'s begin with a little background on the EMA riichi rules.

In early 2008 EMA established a riichi rules working group which consisted of Dutch and Danish players and some English speaking advisors from Japan including Jenn Barr and Ben Boas. The Dutch and Danish riichi player communities were and are the largest in Europe, to the best of my knowledge. And independently of each other we played virtually the same riichi rules, which it turned out were in some instances a bit oldfashioned compared to modern day riichi in Japan. We changed several rules to be more up to date, but some we chose to keep, full well knowing that they would seem outdated to the pro Japanese players.

Keeping Tanyao concealed was not due to a fear of change, or anything like that. It was motivated by the different play level and thus play style of pro Japanese and most Euro players. Expert players know when and how to use Tanyao: defensively for a quick win in order to keep a dangerous opponent from winning, or offensively if combined with e.g. several dora tiles. But if the field of players are less experienced they might simply go for the hand almost every time, in a way a pro player never would. It tends to spoil the fun of the game somewhat. In a way the concealed tanyao is there in order to increase the defensive element in the European riichi game.

Pro players really ought to have no problem changing between rule sets, but yes you need to remind yourself if you\'re used to other rules. One day\'s intensive training should do the trick. I recommend showing up a day early for tournaments, this usually allows you to play with the competitors, e.g. Friday night before the tournament the next day, as well as having time to meet and greet with new and old mahjong friends.

EMA is not ready to make changes to the riichi rules just yet; the issue has just been discussed. This is not a top down, stubborn, undemocratic decision; actually we also talk to players. In the Danish riichi community the concealed Tanyao is strongly supported. The concealed Tanyao is still well motivated, and rules should not be changed too often. But one day EMA might be ready for Open Tanyao.

Lastly I must say that I am strongly opposed to the idea of allowing different kinds of riichi rules sets in European ranked tournaments. It would kill the whole idea of a standard, unifying rule set. Standard rule sets is what allows mahjong to spread, and what allows us to play with each other across borders.

I hope this sheds some light on the process and the motivation of the rules.

Tina

(EMA vice president, President of Mahjong Danmark and author of the EMA riichi rules)

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Tom Sloper
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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by Tom Sloper » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:47 pm

Tina,
I think the reasoning (re closing tanyao) is sound. It\'s the same reason why there\'s a 1-fan minimum, why some HK players set a minimum fan requirement, and why MCR sets an 8-point minimum. In American mah-jongg, I once played with a man who would only try for one hand (the easiest one on the card). The other players got very annoyed with him. They tried to set a rule that he couldn\'t play that hand every time, but it was unenforceable.

But mainly I appreciated something you said:
>Standard rule sets is what allows mahjong to spread, and what allows us to play with each other across borders.

This is so true! And it\'s another reason why I get resistant when folks propose creation of new rule sets.

To close, a very trivial question about your avatar. Who is that in the picture?
Cheers,
Tom
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gemma
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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by gemma » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:23 pm

Hey Tina!

Thanks for the response! Especially the backstory to why the decision was made in the first place!

I have to agree with Tom, that the reasoning behind the decision is sound!

Despite my journalistic stir, I strongly advocate a standard rule set. Without a standard rule set, I don\'t think reach mahjong in Europe would have had any chance of coming as far as it has.

The current EMA rule set is also an excellent compromise between some quite variant play styles. For example, I have heard tell of some clubs in Europe playing without furiten. If a decision had been made by the EMA to remove furiten, I don\'t think there is any way I could have been involved in Europe.

I think that what the EMA have done is create a strong set of rules that we can all get behind and the organization should be applauded for that. Difficult decisions will always have to be made but, as Tina says, the European mahjong scene is democratic so we can have our say and not feel isolated!

Anyway, when you\'ve seen me play with open tanyao, I\'m pretty sure you\'ll all agree that perhaps Europe isn\'t ready for the rule yet. (Or at least when I\'m playing :side: )

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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by Tina » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:36 pm

Hi guys, thanks for your comments. I should also thank Gemma for taking up the subject, because it is indeed worth discussing.

Tom, my avatar is me. That\'s a photo of me taken last summer.

Tina

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Tom Sloper
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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by Tom Sloper » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:49 pm

OK, I didn\'t think it looked very much like you (I\'ve seen better photos of you). I\'m shutting up now...:S
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silent observer
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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by silent observer » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:59 pm

Tom Sloper wrote:It\'s the same reason why there\'s a 1-fan minimum
But there\'s not - there\'s a 1 yaku requirement. You can get a han from dora, but that won\'t allow you to declare a win.
Gemma wrote:Anyway, when you\'ve seen me play with open tanyao, I\'m pretty sure you\'ll all agree that perhaps Europe isn\'t ready for the rule yet.
Getting a bit full of ourselves, are we? You ended up what, -50k on your first game in Austria, according to reports? I don\'t think Europe need be worried about your open tanyao, to be honest.

Best part is, absolutely, the fact that Tina, vice president of EMA, says that European players suck. I love that. :)

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Tom Sloper
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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by Tom Sloper » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:04 pm

silent observer wrote:But there\'s not - there\'s a 1 yaku requirement.
I sit corrected.
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gemma
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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by gemma » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:16 pm

@ silent observer

Sorry, I think you misunderstood my comment or I didn\'t word it correctly. What I meant is that I am a mediocre player and if open tanyao was permitted, I would play it in all the wrong places and probably cause a lot of irritation to players on the table.

I\'m fully aware that I\'m not a skilled player. I lack experience.

I think that is what Tina means. That although there are many excellent European players, there are also mediocre players like myself. There is a big variation in skill levels. I know this must be very frustrating for the more talented players.

Perhaps in the future, there could be leagues so we could play with our own skill level, but I just don\'t know if there are enough players in Europe yet to make that a reality.

Anyway, please don\'t misunderstand, I am fully aware that I am not a good player.

July
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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by July » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:28 pm

silent observer wrote:
Tom Sloper wrote:It\'s the same reason why there\'s a 1-fan minimum
But there\'s not - there\'s a 1 yaku requirement. You can get a han from dora, but that won\'t allow you to declare a win.
Gemma wrote:Anyway, when you\'ve seen me play with open tanyao, I\'m pretty sure you\'ll all agree that perhaps Europe isn\'t ready for the rule yet.
Getting a bit full of ourselves, are we? You ended up what, -50k on your first game in Austria, according to reports? I don\'t think Europe need be worried about your open tanyao, to be honest.

Best part is, absolutely, the fact that Tina, vice president of EMA, says that European players suck. I love that. :)
Everyone has bad games every now and then. There\'s no need to go around insulting people~ :)

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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by MortenA » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:56 am

@Gemma I don\'t think I\'ve actually played you but you seem fairly skilled to me. Then again I seem fairly skilled to me so I guess I could be mistaken :)

Anyway I am one of the seemingly few people in Denmark who would like to play with Open Tanyao. I haven\'t actually tried playing with it yet but I think I\'ll try to arrange an Open Tanyao day soonish.

However even though I am a proponent of the Open Tanyao (at least in theory) I completely agree with Tina. Europe is just not ready for it yet. And no Tina is not saying that European players suck..she is saying that some do. There are a lot of good players, a lot of mediocre players and some bad players as well. It\'s the difference in skill-level that\'s the problem.

In a few years the general skill level of the european riichi players will very likely have improved. I am seeing that improvement already and perhaps then we\'ll be ready to open our Tanyaos but untill then we will just have to keep our hands a bit more concealed.

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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by Robert » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:13 am

I will not play closed tanyao, period.

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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by MortenA » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:19 am

Robert wrote:I will not play closed tanyao, period.
That\'s your choice of course...could you elaborate on why?

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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by Senechal » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:24 am

So far the three things I see \"against\" kuitan is:

1- irritant hand (shuts down most attempts beyond mangan)
2- \"tradition\"
3- beginner\'s trap, of systematically calling if their hand isn\'t made of yakuhai.

The case for 3, while self-obvious, reflects on an individual\'s play style and the ban a reflection of the unwillingness to adapt to your opponents. In a short timeframe like a tournament, this is a skill that has to be heigtened to its maximum, not ignored for the sake of reducing their options to menzen, toitoi, flushes or yakuhai.

Alone, you can\'t make the case with 1, it\'s like saying you are pre-ordained to win in Texas poker with Ace-Ace. Chances are good, and you probably will. But you can\'t put your cards down and say \"Okay, pay me.\" pre-flop. Or drop 10 pin-zu tiles first turn and say \"Well, this is a pure flush in the making. 8000 please (12000 with dora)\". Playing what you have will give you different results. Removing open tanyao is extra insurance for big hands, not a guarantee, but a good protection.

Then there\'s 2. Alone, it should on its own, and it won\'t be made to change in the near future. I don\'t like the circular proof of \"the EMA does it because look, this is how the Danes do it\". I don\'t like the idea of having what amounts to a house rule turning into Gospel in which we say that our wish is to not have open tanyao anywhere so there could be one unified rule set (across Europe). And I don\'t like the justification of \"it raises skill level\" because at the end of the day, with kuikae active and red dora, it\'s a channeling of the player\'s minds to ignore one set of attacks and channeling one\'s own hand into a more pre-ordained playstyle with extra insurance to big payouts.

Essentially it becomes 2-han minimum, \"but you can win with a cheap hand as long as it isn\'t tanyao\". Pretty much a HK clone. I accept your right to play it the way you want, and create the organization around such principles, but in the end, it\'s the problem of having a monolithic reference that says \"all these rules are cool except this one, one of the most common in the game\" and people instructed to use these references as if they were solid gold. And it\'s already happening now in 2009. Imagine 5 years from now, people outside Europe using the internet as a reference on a playstyle inexistant in North America (I\'m talking closed tanyao, not riichi), most media (apparently fansubbers of Saki were told to use the EMA as reference) and as a final open question in Japan, how much of the mahjong population even plays without open tanyao ?

Probably some of the pro organizations play more that way than the general population, but we\'re pretty much all amateurs here (aside from Jenn and Garthe and the guest pros), that\'s where the sample should have been taken.
Club Riichi de Montréal (Canada) http://riichi.ca/ (If you're from elsewhere, keep in touch with us too!)

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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by MortenA » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:42 am

Senechal wrote:
Then there\'s 2. Alone, it should on its own, and it won\'t be made to change in the near future. I don\'t like the circular proof of "the EMA does it because look, this is how the Danes do it". I don\'t like the idea of having what amounts to a house rule turning into Gospel in which we say that our wish is to not have open tanyao anywhere so there could be one unified rule set (across Europe). And I don\'t like the justification of "it raises skill level" because at the end of the day, with kuikae active and red dora, it\'s a channeling of the player\'s minds to ignore one set of attacks and channeling one\'s own hand into a more pre-ordained playstyle with extra insurance to big payouts.
I agree with you on some points but you seem to misunderstand.

First of all the argument is not that we play like that in Denmark therefore Europe should play like that. When we first made the EMA rules it was mostly a collaboration between Denmark and the Netherlands with some assistance from Jenn and Benjamin Boas. It was decided then that we wanted to have tanyao as a concealed hand. So yes much of the EMA rules may be based on the way the danes played but several changes were made compared to that and the danes have adopted those changes.

Second the argument is not that concealed tanyao improves the skill level. I don\'t think it does nor do I think open tanyao would. The argument I am trying to make at least is that open tanyoa would be \'abused\' by less skilled players creating an environment based more on luck. Open tanyao should be used mostly as an insurance against Big Hands but I don\'t think it would be in the current european environment. Instead it would be used as a fast and easy way to score points even in cases where it doesn\'t make sense.

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Re:Open Tanyao

Post by Shirluban » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:07 pm

To be quick:
Everyone (or almost) made good and pertinents comments.
I don\'t have much to add about open tanyao.

Just wanna say:
@ Silent observer: If all you have to say is improper comments about what you\'ve misunderstood aboud Gemma and Tina said, you\'d better stay as your nick said.

@ Gemma : For my part, you\'ve word correctly in the first place. We never played together, but I didn\'t think you\'re a \"mediocre player\".

@ Robert : Please explain why.

@ Tina : Are you realy sure it\'s you on your avatar? I mean ... ok I shut up.


---
One more thing:
Why EMA rule use red fives?
IMHO, it goes against riichi spreading in europe since it\'s kinda hard to find sets with red fives.
Mahjong players who want to try riichi can\'t just take their sets and play EMA rule with. They have to:
- buy new sets (imported directly from japan),
- find and pay someone able to engrave and paint tiles (supposing they have extra blank tiles),
- write on their sets.

I don\'t think either that using red fives improve the skill level.
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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