By Tom Sloper

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Column #85

American (2003 NMJL card). Something a little different today. A mah-jongg quiz.

1. Charleston (1st right). Which three tiles should be passed, and why?

2. There are 20 tiles left in the wall (you'll get 5 picks). You have seven ones in three suits, pairs of N and S, and three flowers. Others have been discarding norths, souths, flowers, and jokers. Which tile should you discard?

3. Charleston (1st right). Which hands should be targeted with this deal?

4. Quandary. It's early in the game yet, but you have to decide between two hands. Which hand should you go for?

5. Charleston (last right). What should you pass?

6. Charleston (1st left). You have to pass three tiles left, and then decide if you want to stop the Charleston or not. What should you do, and why?

1. Answer: 6D 5C E. The norths and ones suggest Winds #2. The ones and twos suggest Run #1, thus the 4B has to stay. Might also get tiles to make Like Numbers (ones) or Quints #2.

2. Answer: If you go for Winds #2 you have four tiles to discard - flowers and 1B. If you go for Like #s #1, you have five tiles to discard - winds and one flower. You're a little closer to Winds #2. But your chances of making the hand are low at this point. If you want to keep trying, check the exposures to see if someone might be doing Run #1. If not, 1B is probably reasonably okay to discard. Safest discard, though, is the winds.

3. Answer: It's a basic principle that when you have two pairs that can be used together, you should use them as the basis for your plan of attack. This hand has pairs of sixes and dragons in same suit. Three hands that come to mind instantly are 369 #1, 369 #4, and Run #2. Those hands are all even: six tiles each, counting the joker. There's one other hand that can use these pairs: S&P #5 (but then the joker would have to go).

4. Answer: It's a straightforward count. Both hands need flowers. 2468 #2 is much closer - you have 11 tiles, including jokers. You have only 9 tiles towards Like #s #1. Any other hands you might have been thinking of are even further away than that. Best discard is 2C or 2B.

5. Answer: Of course you'll pass 5D 8B. The third tile is the question. Should you hang onto both twos for a possible 2003 hand? Myself, I'd rather hang onto them and blind pass the third. But it's usually easy to get the single two and three later on. Since you don't have both, and since you don't have any soaps, you could flip a coin and pass either two, or blind pass. So: eeny meeny miny mo on the third tile. What, you were expecting an unequivocal answer? Oy!

6. Answer: Five possible hands: Evens #1, Evens #6, Like #s #1 or #3 (think of those as one hand for now), Run #4, and Run #6. 7B is the only clear passer (passing anything else messes up one of the possibles). Blind pass two and warn the others you may stop. If what comes in clearly indicates one hand, see if you have three passers. The way mah-jongg luck works, if you break up one of your possibles in the Charleston, your first pick afterwards will make you wish you hadn't.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.