By Tom Sloper

Friday the 13th, June, 2003

Column #69

American (2003 NMJL card). Take a look at how Wesley strategized his hand. Do you agree with his strategy? (Would it make a difference if I told you he won the hand?) Here's his pre-Charleston deal.

His only pair (not counting the jokers) was fives. Suggests odds or runs first. Which three tiles would you pass? (See what Wesley did at bottom).

After the first across, he had another flower and a 5D. The pair of Fs changed things somewhat. With those two pairs, he could go for any of six hands: Like Numbers #1, #3; Quints #2; Run #6; 13579 #6, #8. Which made several of his "keepers" throwaways. Soon he had two more flowers and a 1C.

Now it was looking very much like Like Numbers (fives). With Run #6 as a fallback (too bad that a G had gotten away early in the Charleston).

A few turns into the game, a flower went out. Call? Or not? What would you do? Commit now? Or keep going? 66 tiles in the wall. Not yet to the halfway point - still a long wall (this is the first discarded flower). Common wisdom says let it go. So he did. And guess what. He picked a joker.

Pointer: you always stand a chance of picking a joker when you pick from the wall. You can never get a joker from the floor. Picking is a good thing.

A few more turns, and Wesley picked 5D. Finally, some progress. Now he decided to forget about everything except Like Numbers. Threw 6B.

When Esther threw F, he punged, and threw 5C. Now he was ready to call anything. Then he picked 5B, threw 7B, and just like that he was ready to go mah-jongg on anything.

Immediately, Sophia threw F. "Maj!" Like Numbers #3. Starting with her, he pointed at the other players in order as he spoke. "Fifty, twenty-five, twenty-five."

Is that how you would have played it?

Wesley's first pass: 6c N Wh

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.