Meanwhile, at the mahjong table...
3rd: 12,400 (me)
The game is tight all around. 1st and 2nd have gone on killing sprees with self-drawn hands and nobody is dealing in big. This is the first time I've had a hand, and luckily for me I'm dealer too. In times like this, it becomes pretty damn important to be able to count up your potential hand value before you do anything...and here is a case in point.
If I discard 9 pin (and I do) this hand is tanyao, pinfu, two dora. 4 han 30 fu dealer is 11700 points. With reach, that's only improved to 5 han, which is dealer mangan, 12,000 points. If I draw it myself without reaching, it's mangan anyway. Negligible. In theory, the only thing that the decision to reach here does is freeze the other players into discarding only safe tiles and make an ura-dora draw possible, maybe boosting the hand to 18,000.
Had I not reached, there's the distant possibility that this hand could have improved with the draw of a 5 pin or 8 pin (ii pei kou, two of the same sequence, one han), a 5-pin and a 7-sou (sanshoku doujun, three of the same sequence in different suits, two han, would bring me to haneman without reach). At highest, this hand could have been dealer baiman, 24,000 points.
However, that's assuming at least two different tiles come in, and I don't count on that. I'm one away from winning right now, it's early in the round, and I have the ability to freeze the table and restrict everybody's discards with my reach. My waits are 4 and 7 sou: middle tiles close to the dora, unlikely to come out from the other players anyway. I have the intiative and a good wait, so I go for it, counting more on drawing the tile for a dealer haneman tsumo (18,000, 6000 from each player) than the other players dealing into me.
Of course, the best thing that can happen is one of the leaders deals into me and I fly to second place for another round as dealer.
The worst way I can win is that the guy to my right deals into me: with a 12,000 point mangan hand he survives at 100 points and I get a dealer repeat. The situation is precarious in that case (any tsumo will end the game) but I have a good shot at taking first or second place. But something else can happen. I can get the ura dora, and it's a dealer haneman. That's 18,000 points. The problem is that it's 18,000 points paid directly from the guy to the right of me. This busts him, ending the game, and the gulf is so great right now that 18,000 points doesn't even get me into second place. This is a possibility I just have to accept, and I don't really expect a deal-in to begin with.
So yeah, of course he's the one to deal into me. I didn't want to take this tile at all, but if I don't I can't get it from the other guys later (furiten rule) and I may never draw it at all. At this stage in the game, and technically in last place thanks to the 1000-point reach payment, I'm not letting this pass. I win the hand and hope to God that I don't hit the uradora.
CONGRATS, YOU HIT THE URADORA. It was the 7-sou, the very tile I won on. I end the game in third place. It's a loss... but I'm not in last. Would it have been better not to reach in the first place? With perfect foreknowledge of my eventual misfortune, perhaps.
But we have to make these decisions in the here and now with the information we have... and often we don't have a lot of it. The game's over and done with. Analyzing is good, but agonizing is useless. The best thing to do when you look back at your mistakes is take your lessons from them and move forward.