By Tom Sloper

Sunday, June 1, 2003

Column #57

American (2003 NMJL card). In today's game, Sophia and Nora were both developing their hands nicely - just not as fast as Wesley (thanks to his three-joker deal). As for Esther, she erred by making an unwise exposure too early.

Let's start with Wesley's deal.

It was a dream hand ... at least as far as jokers were concerned. But sometimes you have lots of jokers, but nothing to go with them. Wesley didn't have much that could go with these.

Diddly! No matter what, 1D and W were going to get passed. But he needed a third tile - it would have to be either a seven or an eight. This group tended to pass eights, which meant he might collect some. So he chose to pass a seven.

He got a second 5B, which gave him his first natural pair and confirmed his direction (a Runs hand). He would need Six Dots too. Little did he know Sophia had one and had a plan for it.

In the first across, Wesley got a 5D and a 6B. This was Plan B, then. Together with his 34C, he could go for Run #5 in one of two ways.

In the second left, he got another 4C, further cementing Plan A. And in the last right, he got yet another.

In the courtesy, he offered two to Esther: 1D 4D. One of the tiles she gave him was 8B.

Nora's hand was closest, but because it was a concealed hand, she couldn't call anything until she was set. Wesley's first pick was 5B and his first discard was 8B. Nora couldn't call it. On Wesley's next turn, he picked and threw yet another 8B. Nora sighed heavily. On her turn she threw 5B. She made an exasperated noise when Wesley konged it.

He threw 6B. On her turn, Sophia threw a Flower, and Esther called it for a kong. As we shall see, this was a big mistake on her part.

A few turns later, Wesley picked 6D. Just a couple away now, he threw 7D.

When he picked a second 3C and threw the 5D, Wesley was set, waiting for 3C or 6D. Sophia never would have thrown 6D; it was Nora who did the deed.

Sophia and Nora had both been two away from concealed hands. After Esther had committed to the flower kong, she'd vainly tried to find a hand.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.