By Tom Sloper

Monday, June 30, 2003

Column #86

Chinese Official (CMCR). When Noriko first learned mah-jongg, her Japanese teacher had taught her that the first thing to do when you get your tiles is determine whether or not you think the hand is a good one, to decide whether you should play defense or offense. "But sometimes," Sensei had said, "even when it's a bad hand, luck can be with you. And vice versa." Noriko's tiles looked like an unlikely start.

But Noriko was also mindful of the teachings of Dr. Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, who says that lucky people make their own luck. Accordingly, Noriko decided to see what she could do with this mess. She began with a traditional move, discarding S.

After a few turns, she was beginning to see possibilities for a Mixed Shifted Chow, All Simples hand. Then she picked 4D.

She had wanted 567 in dots to go with 678C 789B. But there was a flow going, and she had little choice but to go with it. She threw 1C.

When Wei-Hwa discarded 3C, Noriko got another idea. She could go 234C 345B 456D, but she'd need two more bam tiles. She chowed it and threw 9B. Another opportunity to make her own luck occurred a couple turns later, when Wei-Hwa discarded 2D.

She thought now about making Mixed Triple Chow, but she'd have to break up two pairs - and then not have a pair. She decided against it. Later, when she picked another 6D, she regretted that.

Soon, though, she'd remade the mess into a Mixed Shifted hand, waiting for either 5C or 8C.

Samantha threw the 5C. "Fu!" 14 Points. All Chows (2), Mixed Shifted (6), All Simples (2), Short Straight (1), and three flowers (3).

Dr. Wiseman's NPR interview of Saturday, June 28 can be heard at www.npr.org. His book, The Luck Factor: Change Your Luck - And Change Your Life (ISBN: 0712623884) is available in paperback at www.amazon.com.

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

Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.