By Tom Sloper

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Column #75

Chinese Official (CMCR). Most of the time when playing mah-jongg, we find ourselves split between our fascination for the game's never-ending challenges... and our simultaneous hatred for the game's inventor. But then there are the times when we get a deal like Earl's...

This night, Earl's deal was damned good (if you'll pardon our French)! It had several possibilities.

Which hands do you think Earl should play? And what do you think his first discard should be? (See answer at bottom.)

Noriko threw R, just before Earl picked R himself. He now had a quandary. If he wanted to go for All Types, he needed more options than just the one G. But Noriko's discard cast doubts on the likelihood of his freshly-picked R's usefulness. Then again, what the hell. He threw 2C.

On Noriko's next turn, guess what she discarded? You guessed it: another R. Earl picked 6D, and his throw was a no-brainer now. He threw R too. His plan at this point was "call E if anybody throws it."

At this point, he had 678 in 2 suits, "Mixed Double Chow" (some call that "sisters"). No chance of turning it into triplets. But then, Samantha threw E. "Pung!"

Earl threw 3C and at this point he was waiting for G for an All Types hand. Earl's path was now set in concrete. ...Unless something happened to change things, of course.

It had become a waiting game. Earl couldn't call anything except G. This hand wasn't suitable for anything except All Types, so the only waiting tile he could hold was a dragon. R had been shot down, and just maybe if he picked a White he could switch, but basically...

Earl's interesting yet inherently boring thought process didn't have to keep on going like that, because, believe it or not, he picked a G himself.

Seat Wind, Flower, Mixed Double Chow, Self-Pick, One-Chance, and All Types. Total - 12 points.

Answer: With these tiles, Earl could go for All Chows, or he could go for Clean (Half Flush), or he could go for Five Types. To keep all these options open, his most logical first discard was 1D.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.