By Tom Sloper

August 10, 2003

Column #111

Chinese Official rules. The best laid plans of mice... would probably have worked out better than Samantha's.

Her thinking - a conventional all-chows approach was best. She discarded S for starters. She would soon regret that, when her very next pick netted her its twin. She had little choice but to throw it back.

On subsequent picks, she got 8B and 7D, discarding Wh and 5D.

On her next pick, Samantha doubly regretted her initial discard - she picked a third S. And had to throw it away to join its two siblings. Two points she could have had. On her next turn she got a flower, replaced by 6C, discarding 8D. Shortly, Earl made a chow, throwing 3B. Samantha chowed it and discarded 1C.

At this point she was thinking about not just all chows but all terminal chows. The 6C flew in the face of that, as did the 8B pair. She hoped to pick or chow serendipitously. (Whatever had made her think that such hopes were reasonable, we shall never know!)

In fact, if it weren't for the 8-point minimum, she would be waiting for mah-jongg with a 2-way call (6D or 9D) right now. But no matter how she figured it, she couldn't come up with the 8 points, without some significant change to her hand.

When Earl threw 9C, Samantha called it, discarding 6C. Now she just needed to replace her pair with something fitting.

Her next pick was 6D. So close to mah-jongg, yet so far! She had to throw it back. Her next six picks were useless. Then she got 9B. A way to get rid of her evil 8B pair. She threw 8B.

Earl threw 9D, and Samantha took it.

Now all she had to do was discard 8B, right? Yes, but for one thing. Three 9Bs were already on the floor. An untenable position. She needed to wait for 7B and break up her one chow that had been complete since deal one. She threw 3D. To make a long story short, it was all downhill from there. She got rid of 2D but the 1D was dead. At the end she was left holding G waiting for its mate when the wall ran out.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.