By Tom Sloper

Friday, June 20, 2003

Column #76 (That's the spirit!)

American (2003 NMJL card). Mah-Jongg blends skill and luck in a way that keeps players coming back for more, time and time again. In today's game, Esther played with reasonable skill, but the luck was with another. She hadn't had to think very long at all about what to pass first...

Besides the two pairs, she set aside two other tiles not to be passed. Can you guess which? (See answer at bottom.)

She got a 9C in her first pass, and decided to hang onto it for the time being. By the first left, she actually had to think hard about what to pass.

She wanted to keep both hands in contention. Run #6 (she had an R) and Quint #1 (she had no 1Cs) were also possible, but seemed less likely when you counted them. She had two tiles she could pass left, including R (bye-bye Run #6). She blind-passed one tile, warning the others that she might have to stop the Charleston. She got an F and wished she hadn't passed R. Thinking it might come back, she opted to continue the Charleston. (In case you were wondering: it didn't.) A couple of turns into the game, she picked a second F.

Her best options now were Run #6 (needing pair R), and Run #5. She wasn't quite ready to commit to either just yet. She hoped to pick something - she didn't want to be tempted by a discard. She was trying to calculate her chances on those two, based on what she could call. Run #6 required a pair, and she didn't even have one R (having passed it in the Charleston). Run #5 looked like her best bet. She could call 6C, and she could call either 8D or 9B (not both). After a while, Wesley threw 9B. Kvetching all the while, she konged it with two Js. And threw F.

Wesley punged it. Esther had a second one to get rid of as well. Better sooner than later... Long wall yet... maybe Wesley couldn't call it... (In case you were wondering: he could. And it was his Maj tile.)

Answer. Esther would target Runs with this hand. Run #5 is the out-front favorite, so she had to keep the 8D. Run #6 was a second choice, so she kept the R as well. If she wanted to target Run #4, well, that was just another reason to keep the 8D. So: R 8D.

Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.

Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.