MAH-JONGG
By Tom Sloper

May 2, 2003

Column #27

American (2003 NMJL card). It's important to be flexible and keep multiple hand options open, but sometimes your original instinct turns out to be right on the money.

Wesley got pairs of threes and nines in different suits in his initial deal. This setup was suitable for only two families: 13579 and 369. He passed everything that didn't belong to those families. After the courtesy, he had yet another pair of nines.

At this point there was only one hand that used all three of his pairs: 369 #2. But without any 6Cs, he deemed that one to be a pipe dream. In his first several turns, he kept options open for other 369 hands and 13579 as well.

Esther infuriatingly threw Joker after Joker, probably close to a big hand. Eventually, Wesley picked two Jokers. Now there were three on the floor, and three in Wesley's hand. Only two more in the game, with little probability of Wesley getting any of them.

When he picked a second Flower, he wished mightily that he had some 6Cs. 369 #2 was still the hand most suited for his four pairs, but without sixes it was an unrealistic goal. 369 #1 was also out (for the same reason) so he discarded Red.

13579 #5 also looked unreachable, since he had no fives, and he hated to have to waste two pairs to go that way.

When Nora threw 9B, Wesley had to think what options were open to him! "Hold on a second."

Suddenly a light came on. Like Numbers. (Duh!) "I'll take it."

He threw the 7C. On his next turn, Wesley picked from the wall and got 6C. Feeling that the fates were mocking him, tantalizing him with a hand he'd already deemed impossible, he rolled his eyes. If only... then a light went on in his head.

Not only was it attainable, but if he kept the 6C and threw 1C, he'd be ready right now! Waiting for another 6C, for 369 #2 (per original scheme). No 6Cs on the floor -- still a long wall. So he did it.

And on top of everything, it turned out to be Esther (she of the Joker discards) who threw the tile for him.


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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.