Continuing our translation of Puyo’s guide to calling tiles, we move on to part 7.
This article will talk about something that new players often do: calling kan
New players love to kan. As long as they have 4 of the same tile, then they have to kan. But for strong players, on houou tables, the kan frequency is less than 5%.
There are of course advantages to calling kan, the biggest of which is that it increases the fu of your hand (a terminal/honor ankan is pretty much the same as 1 additional han). And you can also benefit from kan dora to increase your hand value a lot.
But because there are many disadvantages to calling kan, we should call kan sparingly. Below are some examples of when not to call kan.
1. Calling daiminkan with a closed hand
This is the simplest example:
If the player opposite discards , experienced players would definitely not kan here. Since you have a closed hand, you would give up the chance of riichi. It’s true that you have a chance of getting kandora 4, but this chance is only 1 in 34, and not at all worth it compared to the value of having a closed hand.
2. When your hand has a low chance of winning
We all know daiminkan is problematic, what about ankan then?
As there are four in the hand, newbies will often kan without a second thought. This is a major error. All of the advantages to calling kan that we mentioned earlier in this article only apply if you manage to win the hand. In other words, if your hand isn’t going to win, all the advantages of kan just go to your opponents. With this hand, you should discard the honors first, and then if there is no advancement you should consider folding without calling kan.
After a ka-kan, people who have declared riichi (or can declare riichi later) will have two more dora chances, while you only get one. As you have a lower chance of being able to use the dora, you must be extra careful of kans if your hand is not closed.
After drawing here, a common mistake is to ka-kan immediately. Instead, I would first discard and then observe the situation. I would only ka-kan when I am both tenpai and no one else has riichi. Ultimately, when you are not tenpai, it is very disadvantageous to kan because of the possibility that someone else might riichi before you can win. Additionally, if someone else attacks, you can discard the East as a safe tile.
It's true that if you chii or , then you have to discard East instead of kan. But this is currently only a 1000 point hand. The chance of getting kan-dora is low, and even if you get it, it is mostly likely still only going to be 2600. Remember that your opponents' chances of hitting the kan-dora are higher than yours.
If you draw afterwards, a useful tile allowing you to pon or for tenpai, now you can consider ka-kan with (as long as no one else has declared riichi). Of course in some situations, you would still not want to ka-kan.
A general rule is that when your hand is not yet tenpai or 1-away with good shape, you should not kan.
3. When someone else has declared riichi
As we have just discussed, when someone else has riichi you should usually not kan, because that will give two additional dora opportunities to them if they win.
Of course, there are exceptions such as:
- You are also tenpai with a closed hand
- You want to attack, and your hand is good (good shape 1-shanten or better)
- Good shape tenpai, and want the dora to increase hand value from 3900 to 7700
4. When you are leading
When you are leading, the kan-dora will lead to a higher chance that someone else will overtake you with a big hand. On the other hand, if you are way behind, you can aggressively kan, even daiminkan, to increase variance.
5. When calling kan damages the hand shape
This hand should first discard because it is overlapping. For the pinzu, we can chii or now, but once we kan we cannot do that. In this case we should not kan as it hurts our tile acceptance.
However, if we draw or , we can kan and then riichi.
Another example of a central tile kan:
We are dealer in the last round, and we can get 4 dora through kan, but I will definitely not kan here. One reason is that we are leading, but the most important reason is that we have revealed that the dora are gone.
For an opponent to overtake us, they need at least a baiman tsumo, and to get that they would typically need a lot of dora. For example, if opponent has:
The bad shape should be discarded, but because of the dora and sanshoku, they will instead discard other tiles. This is because they need to get a baiman hand. So their hand will be stuck here and never get .
This is the same for other players too. As long as you don’t kan, they will wait around for dora that are impossible to get.
But if I kan, then they will happily discard and advance their hands, and additionally, there are more dora and kan dora for them to exploit and overtake.
So, in the future, please think before calling kan!