By Tom Sloper

Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Column #88

Taiwanese. The number "8" is considered fortuitous in Chinese numerology. Today's column being #88 ought to make it doubly fortuitous. But for Norman, today's hand is just a classic illustration of the principle that the fastest way to mah-jongg is the chow. Norman's deal had a lot of suit tiles and a pair of winds (not his).

Miss Wu's first discard was 2B, and Norman chowed it right away, throwing 9B. A few turns later, Miss Wu threw 6D - a second chow for Norman.

He threw the 9D. On his next turn he picked 8C and discarded R. He was toying with the idea of punging S if it went out. Then Miss Wu punged 2D from Samantha. That would make it hard for him to complete his 1-3 split. Miss Wu's discard was 9C. Norman decided not to take it, and he also realized at this point that the S pair was inviolable. As soon as he made one more set, he'd be waiting for mah-jongg. His next pick was 4D, which helped him in light of his 1-3 split waiting for the case 2.

This way he'd be waiting for 2 or 5, a much more likely call. He discarded the 6B on the principle "unsafe early, safe late." Miss Wu punged it. Then Samantha punged Miss Wu's discard. Norman's next pick was R; he sighed silently as he threw it away. His next discard was Wh, which Miss Wu wanted for pung. She was getting very dangerous now. Three exposures up.

Norman's next pick was 5C, which is what he needed. Throwing the 1D, he was waiting for 5D - and maybe 2D if luck was with him. A few turns later, Norman gave Samantha a 1C pung (Mr. Dong had wanted it for chow but lost out). Norman then gave Mr. Dong a 2C pung, just to be fair. Samantha gave Miss Wu a 7B kong, just to keep things interesting.

Samantha discarded the case 2D, and that was Norman's win. She paid him five (2 for mah-jongg, 3 for the flowers). Not "doubly" fortuitous, but it'll do.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.