By Tom Sloper

May 3, 2003

Column #28

Chinese Classical. The way Flowers are used varies from game to game, and sometimes from table to table. Wendell's problem today stems from that fact.

Wendell is sitting in for the first time with a group who plays Classical rules. As far back as the mists of mah-jongg history, every table has used its own individual twist on the rules. So Wendell asks for the table rules when he sits down. He's informed that this table has a 1,000-point limit, requires one double, and has a 16-tile dead wall (kong box). They don't allow seven-pair hands or jewel hands (although they do permit All Green).

His first deal suggests that he'll probably want to go for a clean hand (Bams).

When Esteban throws 2C, Soleil chows it. On Wendell's turn, he proceeds to throw dots and craks. When Soleil throws 3B, he chows it. Much later he's acquired three Flowers, including one of his own, and throws 2C. Soleil pungs it. And later, Soleil chows 789B. Wendell scratches his head, wondering what Soleil is up to. By the discards, the only thing she could have, he thinks, is South. He should have studied the exposures too.

Soon Noreen throws S and Esteban makes his first exposure. Noreen throws 7B and Esteban pungs that too. Soleil doesn't have her own wind after all (so that mystery deepens). And now there are two dangerous players.

Wendell delicately balances his desire to win with his desire not to throw a win. When he gets 6C, he throws it, but Soleil goes Out on it. Only now does he learn that she gets a double for having both her Own Flower and her Own Season. For the sake of harmony, he makes a mental note of the rule and pays graciously.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.