For the final part of our translation of Puyo’s Guide to Calling Tiles, we will look at situations where we may still want to call even though it doesn’t decrease our shanten.
The main benefit of calling is to increase your speed of winning, meaning that when we call we usually want to decrease our shanten. However, there are quite a few situations where we will call even if it doesn’t decrease shanten. Doing this well requires good mahjong judgement. In this introductory post we won’t go into too much depth, but hopefully can give a good introduction to some common situations where it might be the right choice.
Improving to good shape
Let’s look at this example hand:
If we can chii , or pon or , then that would be a good call, as it would immediately bring us to tenpai. However there is one more tile that we should definitely call.
If our left player discards , we should call with , leaving us with . This hand’s weakest point is the shape. Calling doesn’t advance the hand, but means we can discard the , and all our remaining blocks are good shapes.
This type of shape-improvement calling is a very common technique. Some more common situations:
By seeing the shape, we can see that are also tiles we can chii.
A common blind spot for beginners is that they can only see “pon” of and , but we can also chii and , which gets rid of the bad shape of duplicated .
Here is a simple exercise. For each hand we already have a pon of yakuhai dora 3, so are only concerned with the fastest route to winning. Please list all of the tiles you would call:
a) This is already in tenpai, but even here we can call to improve the shape. The and shanpon is a bad shape, and urgently needs improvement. There are many chances to improve. Firstly, we can see the manzu as a + shape. Seeing it further as + + , we can see that we should chii any of , and then discard .
Secondly, the pinzu can also be seen as + , so we can chii or . And finally, we can pon and discard if we see it as + + .
b) Similarly, with this kind of hand, we’re not restricted just to calling . We are not happy with the bad shape of due to the overlapping wait, so we want to get any chance we can to improve it.
We should pon , which allows us to discard our bad shape for a ryanmen. Similarly, we must pon , to get the remaining shape of . Even though three are gone, it is still an improvement over the shared wait from .
We also should chii or . Even though it will not completely solve the problem, it leaves us with:
But now, we are able to pair up any tile from for tenpai, which increases our chances of getting there a lot.
We should not chii as it would leave us with this hand:
After discarding the
, we are left with a bad shape of . Since our shape didn’t improve, there is no point in electing to chii .
This is a very illustrative example. The should not be seen as an excess tile. If we drew a safe tile and discarded the , this would be a bad mistake, as the gives us several ways to improve the shape.
Calling without improving shanten can improve the hand shape, and can be especially useful for hands that are already open.