How true is the word on the street about 13 Wonders?
In When the odd ones out get in (2021) by Kray Chen
13 Wonders ( 十三幺 ) / 13 Orphans is undoubtedly the best finishing hand in Mahjong. Based on probability, you have a 1/2464 chance to game with 13 Wonders. Even though there are other hands with a lower probability - eighteen arhats ( 十八罗汉 ) or the big four blessings ( 大四喜 ), 13 Wonders is still the most superior hand. Even when someone 暗扛 the final tile or wins with the tile, as long as you are waiting to game 13 Wonders, you can steal their tile to win. Given the nature of the hand, not many players have gamed with 13 Wonders before. Today, I have gamed thrice with 13 Wonders in my Mahjong career. You may be surprised to hear that some people have not won with 13 Wonders after years so playing the game. And by years, I mean 10, 20, or 30 years, maybe even longer. Since it is so difficult to game with 13 Wonders, shouldn't it be luckier than jinxed for the individual?
Well, let's compare some anecdotes.
In traditional Hong Kong Mahjong films, we frequently see the protagonist winning with 13 Wonders on the last hand and staging a comeback. After the lead character triumphs over the villain, the protagonist then proceeds to live a fulfilling life. Based on the show, we can say that 13 Wonders does not affect the protagonist's luck negatively. Instead, it helped to settle some old scores and bring peace to the protagonist's life.
Now, let's take a look from another perspective. In the eyes of western people, the number 13 also bears an ominous feeling. For instance, for some hotels, the lifts will not have a level 13 button. Instead, the management will skip level 13 and indicate the floor as level 14. In another instance, special days like Friday the 13th are also considered unlucky based on western superstition due to certain unfortunate events. And from what I know, I believe Friday the 13th is also a taboo for Christians. If even a massive religion believes in the unluckiness of the number, does that mean we should also abide? If that is how the number 13 appears in western people's eyes, it is probably safe to conclude that 13 Wonders is an ill-omened hand.
How about the Chinese opinion? In my field of knowledge, the number 13 is auspicious. When 13 is directly translated, its wordplay translates to one eternity ( 一生 ). Therefore, 13 is used regularly with other numbers to represent other blessings like 1314( 一生一世 ), meaning forever. This phrase is used by many to congratulate newlyweds so that they can remain as a couple forever. Henceforth, we can infer that the Chinese do not think 13 Wonders is a cursed hand in Mahjong.
Before we conclude, let me also share my experience with 13 Wonders. You may not believe this but hear me out. I have gamed with 13 Wonders twice in a game before. Trust me, I am not lying. What is more shocking is that after my first 13 Wonders, I open my next hand with all four animals. At this point, I know my story sounds ridiculous. But I can guarantee you I have multiple alibis for that night. And since I gamed twice with 13 Wonders, does that mean I will have double the effect for unluckiness? Frankly, I was worried about my well-being on my way home. Thankfully, nothing happened to me. After that day, I continue winning my Mahjong games with a few losses here and there. Life was usual. Ergo, based on personal experience, I can say 13 Wonders is a lucky hand. Not to mention, it is also my favorite hand in Mahjong.
Photo from Seedly
To sum it all up, 13 Wonders is not as cursed as whatever the rumors say. After all, these are all hearsay and superstitions. Instead, if one ever games with 13 Wonders, consider oneself lucky as the odds are just so low. Also, how can we let a single winning hand define our life? Life is all about decision makings and there are bound to be ups and downs. Never let a 13 Wonders hand decide your fate.
Since these are just my professional thoughts, I like to see if there are other personal anecdotes to counter my argument. If so, please feel free to share your story with us.