By Tom Sloper

August 17, 2003

Column #113

American mah-jongg (2003 NMJL card). In this week's game, Esther played three hands. Let's call them "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

THE GOOD. After the first Charleston Esther's hand was showing a clear direction.

She was figuring 13579 #3. In the second Charleston, she got 5Bs. That changed her outlook on the hand (not the hand itself).

After the courtesy, she could call anything! So she did. She called 7B from Sophia, and 5B from Wesley. Now the other folks could tell what family she was playing, but they couldn't be sure if it was the first or third hand.

Esther picked a joker several turns later. Throwing the last unwanted tile, she was ready.

A few turns later, she had to throw a picked 9c. That caused a group "aha" to go up. She might be doing 13579 #1, but Esther (if anyone had been watching closely) had thrown 1B and 9B previously. Only the keenest observer would know for sure what Esther needed.

Not long after, Nora threw 7C and that was Esther's win. Nora's excuse: "I was set."

THE BAD. Esther looked at her tiles and moaned, "Whenever I get jokers, my tiles want to make singles & pairs." After the Charleston, she had three hands:

After a few picks, she had given up on the singles & pairs idea and was down to two hands. The better one was concealed, unfortunately.

Committing to the concealed hand, she wanted to pick 9D, 6C, 3B, or J, then she could throw F and be "set." Shortly, Esther picked 3B. Threw F. Still two away. She needed 6C - and she needed 9C or 9D.

Sophia threw 3B - Esther couldn't take it. Esther's next pick was a joker. Not wanting to show how close she was, she discarded 3B. "Same."

The wall was getting very short. Esther picked 6B. It looked dangerous, so she dogged the hand. Wall game.

THE UGLY. Esther's deal didn't have a single joker.

The 1234 in dots, and the 59 in craks, decided it for her. She targeted S&P #4. The hand was notoriously hard to make. Well into the wall, the hand was shaping up, but too slowly.

Esther got an 8C to sweeten things, and got rid of her flower. That was Wesley's maj tile. 2003 #4. Fifty cents from Esther, a quarter from the others.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.