By Tom Sloper

Friday, May 23, 2003

Column #48

American (2003 NMJL card). The last time we looked in on the group, we saw how Sophia danced the Charleston. She had shaped the hand nicely.

She had three possibilities, all in the 2468 family:

She didn't want to go for the concealed hand, but couldn't ignore the possibility. Sophia's first pick was a Joker. In the next few turns, she picked two Greens and a Flower. The picked tiles were clearly pushing her towards the concealed hand. To make matters worse, Esther discarded Red twice in a row. Sophia couldn't call them, even if she was ready to commit to a hand so early, since the card required that hand to be concealed. Then Sophia picked another Flower. Not a single tile had come in for 2468 #3, and she'd picked four tiles towards 2468 #4. There was no choice but to go for the concealed hand. The question now was which other hand should be kept in reserve, and which one had to get the axe?

No axe for 2468 #3 (she wanted to keep all the 2Cs). The 4D had to go. She figured she could use the 4Cs as Joker bait if she had to stay the course. In rapid order, her opponents threw G and 8B. Concealed hands are hateful! Then Esther threw a 4C - so much for the Joker bait gambit! When Sophia picked and threw 7B, Wesley konged it, throwing the last Red. Sophia sighed loudly so all would know her misery.

She picked G, which was a good thing. Esther threw another 8B, which was not. After a frustrating series of pick-and-throws (the wall growing ever shorter), Sophia picked a second Joker. She threw the last 4C.

No hope of getting R or 8B - they were all on the floor. There were only 3 tiles left. She could only hope someone would call so she could pick again. The others picked and threw. Nora won on the very last discard, complaining that the 2D had taken forever to complete her high-scoring seven-pairs hand. Sophia showed off her waiting hand. Although she'd danced the Charleston well, the prize had gone to another.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.