MAH-JONGG
By Tom Sloper

COLUMN 017

April 22, 2003

American (2003 NMJL card). Nora's initial deal was fantastic.

She naturally targeted Evens, passing W, N, 7D. But in the first two passes, she got no more even craks.

That "run with opposite dragons" hand was on last year's card, and she longed for it mightily. Without a clear way to use any dragons, she passed 5C, Wh, G. By the end of the Charleston, the 5C came back, and it brought some relatives along for a party.

Now she was thinking to target sequential pairs (S&P #1), with Evens still a possibility (2468 #5). In the courtesy, she traded F G for 4C 8B. Then on her first pick she got a joker. "Eight Bam," she said.

A few turns later, someone discarded 5C. Plans A and B went out the window immediately. "Call! Eight Crak."

Now Nora was on a new plan entirely, Plan C (Run #1). It just sort of appeared spontaneously. The sixes were to be thrown last, as joker bait.

A few turns later, she'd picked a One and a Three. The Sixes had gone without netting any jokers, and she was waiting for a Three or a Joker. She caught herself squirming in her chair a little, and forced herself to stop.

Tile after tile went out, but no Three Crak. Pick after pick, but no Joker. Then Sue cried out, "Maj!"

Nora was crestfallen. She watched as Sue put up her tiles. Run #2. 7B 8C 9B R, with four Jokers no less. Nora put her own tiles up and asked for the sympathy of her friends. "I was waiting." But her friends had their own sob stories. "So was I. Just look at this!" "No wonder I couldn't get any jokers."

Sue's hand was out. "Fifty all." Nora sighed and reached for her purse.


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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.