By Tom Sloper

Cinco de Mayo, 2003

Column #30

Chinese Official (CMCR). The first tenet of mah-jongg strategy is "evaluate your deal and decide if you need to play defense or go for it." Consider Samantha's deal:

What would you target with this? All Pungs seems remote. Same for All Types. If she wants to go for All Simples, she has to throw away six tiles. If she wants to go for Clean (Half Flush) she only needs to lose five (but those five are nicely connected).

She decides she probably isn't going to win this hand. She starts divesting herself of Honors. When she throws E, Noriko pungs it. When her Honors are all gone, here's where she stands:

What would you do? She throws 9D to target All Simples.

When Earl throws 7B, she chows it - but should she go for Pure Double Chows or for Mixed Shifted?

Mixed Shifted, definitely. She makes 567, not 678. And throws 8B. Now she needs 3C and another 6D for the pair (in hindsight, she regrets having thrown 8B - should have thrown the second 9D). Her next pick is 1B. She throws it.

A bit later she picks 7D. Throws the 9D.

When Earl throws 6D, she chows it and throws 7D.

Now Samantha is one away from mah-jongg. All she needs is 3C, and she's got her eight points (Mixed Shifted Chows for six, All Simples for two) - and she'd probably pick up another point or two with the last tile. She thinks she's just about won after all. Still, the outcome is nowhere near certain. Some would call the emotion she feels now "excitement" as she waits to see if she'll get the 3C.

Earl throws 6C. Samantha can't call it (not enough points). But Noriko goes Out on it.

Guess what - Samantha was right in the first place, when she figured she probably wouldn't win this hand.

Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.

Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.