By Tom Sloper

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Column #50

American (2003 NMJL card). "You are so lucky," Esther told Nora. "I had two of the Five Bams. You picked the case tile."

"Huh?" asked Sophia. Wesley explained, "The last tile of its kind is called the case tile. Esther is saying that the other three Five Bams were accounted for."

Here's how the hand had transpired for Nora. Her initial deal had a triplet, and nothing else.

The 4D triplet was promising, but nothing else in the hand suggested a family. Usually, the best way to go when you have one set and nothing else is to look at the Consecutive Runs family, and either Evens or Odds, depending. She passed 9C 7D W to the right, since those didn't work with any other possibilities. Nothing that came in in the first right gave her any ideas, but after the first across she had a pair of 6Cs.

The pair of sixes suggested a Run hand (particularly, #5). It just needed some 3Ds. The next couple of passes were also uneventful, taken one by one. But by the end of the second left, she'd gotten a couple of 4Bs, suggesting Run #4 as a better way to go.

Nora counted.

What had previously been her main plan was now her fallback. No changes came about during the remainder of the Charleston.

As play progressed, Esther kept throwing tiles Nora could take but didn't want. First the case 4D, then a third 4B. Then Nora picked a Joker. She threw out the Flower, pretty much committed to Run #4 by this point. She could call 5D if it came up, and of course 6C. One or the other (not both).

Her musings were interrupted when Sophia called the F, making a pung. "Aha," thought Nora. Sophia was making either 2003 #4 or Like Numbers #3. Nobody better throw another Flower...

The next couple of picks and throws were uneventful. Then Wesley picked a Flower and redeemed it from Sophia's rack. Nora's next pick was a third 6C. Her Jokers were now used as 5Ds.

Nora threw 6B. On Esther's next turn, Nora and Wesley both held their breath after Esther threw a Flower. It was a dangerous move, but Sophia only sighed.

Nora's next couple of picks were throwaways. But her next pick was 5D - the first one she'd gotten, and it was getting late in the game.

She threw 8B, and got a happy chance when Sophia threw 5D. "Call."

She discarded 9C, and now was waiting for 5B. There were none on the discard floor, and unless somebody got set, it was unlikely to be discarded. The next couple of minutes lasted Nora an eternity. She picked and threw four times, getting more tense with each move. But then, happy day! She picked a 5B.

"Maj! I picked it! Fifty all."

Esther showed her tiles. She had a pair of 5Bs which she'd been using. "I don't believe it. Look at this."

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.