It’s been a slow month, and my drop in posts (relative to May and June) has resulted in a drop in the number of views my blog has gotten. Well, mostly anyway – there was an odd spike in views the day before yesterday, a surprising amount of interest in my 2010 harem post, and at least a couple of people who were referred via this image on Google… I shouldn’t judge since I’m the one who uploaded that to begin with, but come on! How many pictures of Nick are there in this blog, and why does nobody search for them!?
Last episode, Kaiji’s taunts convinced Ichijou to let him challenge The Bog himself, with only 7 hours of freedom remaining. Ichijou is convinced that Kaiji doesn’t stand a chance, but the upper management aren’t so sure, and he gets a call from Teiai’s No.2, Kurozaki.
Kurozaki tells him what should have been obvious – Kaiji is clever, and wouldn’t have returned unless he thought he had a good chance of winning. It is made clear that if Kaiji does win, and the casino loses 600 million yen, the manager won’t get off lightly… Ichijou is less worried though, as he knows the machine has no weaknesses, something that is particularly true at pin setting C.
It doesn’t take long for this confidence to be shaken again, however, as the balls fall into the jackpot area far more often than they should! Most are deflected by the flippers, and the others fall foul of the three trays, but that isn’t the point. One in every few hundred balls should go through at C setting, while Kaiji manages to make it look more like one in ten. Knowing that the machine itself is maintained daily and kept under close guard, Ichijou can only think of one way this could be happening:
Apparently this isn’t the first time this form of cheating has occurred, hence why Ichijou thought of it so quickly. But when he takes the balls currently being used by Kaiji and tests them on a ball-size-testing-tray, they appear to be normal. So has Kaiji also tampered with the tray? Nope. After grabbing the balls from one of the lesser machines and testing them on the tray, they turn out to be the same size.
To be fair to Ichijou, that was a logical thought process. The balls would be the obvious thing to replace, and if they could get the tray too it would make the trick all the more convincing. Having eliminated these possibilities, he is also quick to come up with a third way in which this could have happened, which is indeed the method used by Kaiji: the ball-on-a-stick used to measure the width of the pins was being changed daily. They accessed it via the vent in the office and a hole in the floor of the room above, lowering an electromagnet into the room when it was empty, fishing out the pin-checker, and making the ball slightly thicker every day. Now here’s the really clever part. Because Ichijou and another staff member alternate the days on which they maintain The Bog, when they checked and found the pins to be slightly too tight, they each thought it was the fault of the other and loosened them! Whereas if one person maintained it and found the pins to be to be getting tighter every day, it would be pretty damned suspicious!
With no easy way of proving that they’re cheating (the ball-on-a-stick is evidence, but they can’t prove Kaiji put it there), Ichijou decides that there’s nothing he can do to strengthen the machine’s first defense, the pins. He orders that the second defense, the block on the flipper, be activated. The problem with this and the reason he didn’t do so earlier is that the onlookers who crowd around every time The Bog is challenged have already witnessed this block in action, with Sakazaki having brought it to their attention in the previous episode:
It quickly becomes apparent that the block is in place, with many balls getting as far as the flipper, but none further. The crowd seem agitated, and tell Kaiji to bounce the balls into the windmill on the right side of the machine as Sakazaki did on his first try. But it seems that even this faint chance of success is considered too much of a threat to the casino, as the windmill no longer spins, and this alternate route to the jackpot has been closed off as a result.
The episode ends with Ichijou looking confident (if slightly manic) that he has defeated Kaiji, which past experience tells me he probably hasn’t. But exactly how the block, the stuck windmill and the loaded third tray can be overcome though, I haven’t a clue.