By Tom Sloper

Saturday, July 5, 2003

Column #91

Hong Kong (3 fan). Being Chinese, Susie isn't Jewish, but she enjoys kvetching as much as her American counterparts. And she actually glowed as she kvetched about the hand she'd just won. "Three fan, the hard way. You should have seen what I started with."

With a suit breakdown of 2-7-5, craks were in the clear majority, but that could change. For starters, she threw 4B, planning to get rid of bams, inside out.

But her next two picks were 9B and 8B. So much for Plan A. It was starting to look like she'd have to do all chows. Which meant she'd have to self-pick and have her own flower (or not get any flowers). Susie worried that all those single-wait terminal chows were going to be the death of her. It would be nicer to have mixed triple 789, not that it scored anything, but just for the prettiness of the pattern. So she threw 2C, breaking up the lone low chow.

Her next pick was 2D; she discarded 1C.

Now the table started to liven up. Nathan punged R from Earl. Susie had to pass up the chance of chowing 3C. Good thing, too, because when she picked, she got 7C. Throwing the 4C, she was now ready to pick 7D. Still flowerless, she could just manage her three fan. Pin woo, self-pick, flowerless.

Nathan punged Susie's 4C. He now had two pungs and two flowers (none of them his). Waiyee also had a flower showing (her own). Susie's heart sank when Nathan discarded 7D. She couldn't take it - she'd have to self-pick another to make her three fan minimum. She picked and threw 2B. Waiyee punged it and discarded yet another treasured 7D. Susie's already-sunken heart now started pumping. There were two 7Ds left - could she pick one? Waiyee turned the pressure up another notch when she punged 5D from Earl. And Earl punged 8B from Waiyee, then shortly, punged his own wind (E) from Nathan.

In this charged atmosphere, it's understandable that when Susie actually did pick her 7D, she'd need to tell the others how the hand had developed, and the awful trepidation she'd felt when the others had started throwing away, wasting, her holy 7Ds.

Click here to see rules for HKOS 3-fan mah-jongg.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.