Toitoi Dash

You may have heard of the toitoi dash – it’s the hot new meta, popularized by zeRo and his new book 0秒思考の麻雀 (Zero-byou Shikou no Maajan), and it’s taking the mahjong world by storm. This article will explain what it’s all about.

The What

Let’s start with an example. Given the following starting hand, what would you do?

If you had five pairs, anyone would think of toitoi or chiitoitsu, but what if you only have four pairs like with this hand?

Even if you’re conscious of toitoi, the normal thing to do is to go for a regular hand instead. However, doing a toitoi dash means discarding here and chasing toitoi from just four pairs. You’re short one block for toitoi, though; what do you do about that? The answer is simple – you pick it up along the way, just as you would for honitsu.

The How

Naturally, it’s harder to draw pairs and triplets than it is to form sequences. That’s exactly why you should consciously hold onto tiles that will be easier to pair up, tiles that are easier to call, tiles that are safer to hold onto or tiles that will raise the value of your hand. Rather than a tile that’s been discarded once, keep live tiles that haven’t been discarded at all. Instead of middle tiles, keep edge tiles. Instead of edge tiles, keep honor tiles.

The Why

Now let’s take another look at the hand above. All the pairs are easily callable edge tiles like 1289 and chun. With chun and toitoi, the hand is worth 5200 points. On the other hand, if you proceeded normally, you’d likely end up with chun only, worth a mere 1000 points. With that in mind, you might as well abandon forming a normal hand and instead go for a toitoi that’s both high in value and high in safety. You might occasionally get stuck in iishanten after two or three calls, but even if another player pushes, if you make sure to keep safe tiles you can easily defend.

Additionally, it’s advantageous to have pairs that are next to each other, like the here. That’s because if you pon one pair, it becomes easier to pon the other pair too because it’s harder for other players to use it. Toitoi is also much harder for other players to defend against than honitsu.

The When

And now we come to the all-important rules of engagement. When do you do the dash? What are the conditions for success? Let’s take a look at another example. What would you do with the following hand?

To answer this question, let’s lay out the rules of the toitoi dash. They are as follows:

  1. At least four pairs in the early stages of the round (i.e. within the first six turns)
  2. If you call, the hand will be worth at least 5200 points
  3. Of the four pairs, at least three are easy to call (i.e. 1289 or honor tiles)

If you meet these three conditions, you should consider a toitoi dash.

Now, the hand above doesn’t meet rule number three, but zeRo says to discard anyway. This is because even if you went for a regular hand, it’d likely be quite slow, so the hurdle for chasing toitoi is lowered. Similarly, even if you meet all three conditions, if a normal hand looks faster then you shouldn’t dash.

That aside, rule three is particularly important to the toitoi dash. Even if you call three times and are left with a hand like this:

You can usually still defend if someone else attacks.

Other than these rules, there are two other conditions to consider:

  • There is a pair that doesn’t look like you’d be able to call it, such as a middle tile with one already discarded)
  • You have multiple floating dora or akadora

If either of these conditions are met, you should consider going for a regular hand or chiitoitsu instead of toitoi, even if you have five pairs.

The Bluff

The final trick to pulling off the toitoi dash is, if possible, to bluff that you have a hand such as honitsu or chanta. By forcefully discarding middle tiles or tiles of only two suits right from the beginning of a round, you can make other middle tiles and tiles of those two suits easier to call. This is another reason to discard from the hand above.

The Wrap-up

With all the conditions that must be met, chances to do the toitoi dash are actually few and far between. Even when a chance comes around, it’s not uncommon to get stuck without being able to advance your hand. However, making a hand while you have four pairs is usually quite difficult anyway. The toitoi dash is a way to capitalise on an otherwise weak hand, making it useful for both attack and defense. Expand your horizons and add the dash to your repertoire, and you’ll be able to adapt to such situations a little better.

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