October 5, 2003
Taiwanese (Modified). This week's column involves an interesting set of rules I played at Farmers Market here in L.A. a couple of years ago. The group's leader had learned mah-jongg in Taiwan, but for the purposes of the group, he had modified the rules to use fourteen tiles (rather than seventeen), and -- most interestingly -- the group used flowers as wild tiles.
North had had two frustrating hands - just as he had become ready for mah-jongg, he had discarded the winning tile. Now, as we join him, he got an amazingly good deal. And without the help of flowers.
North decided to go for a "Missing One Kind" hand (all craks and dots). East discarded first, announcing the tile's name in Mandarin (as the leader had taught the players to do). "Ee wan."
North pounced. "Pung!" The other players gasped that North was acting on the very first discard - this was surely a bad sign for them. North discarded 8B: "Ba tiao."
Soon it came around to North's turn again. West had just discarded 5D. North could have called, but saw no good reason to do so. North picked 9D and discarded N: "Pei."
West's next discard was 7D. "Chee tung." North went for it. "Pung!"
North discarded 9D. "Jiuh tung." North knew that now 3D would have to be the pair, thus all North could call were 1C, 4C, 3D, and 6D (and could only chow from West).
East discarded 6D. "Liu tung." North gnashed teeth a little. Then gnashed more, as South punged it.
North's next pick was the fourth 7D. "Kong." The replacement tile was 8B, which was discarded. "Ba tiao."
Soon, West discarded 6D. "Chow!" Throwing 7C, North was waiting for 1C or 4C for mah-jongg.
North's next pick was 6B, so out it went. "Liu tiao."
South showed his hand. "Wu!"
It just wasn't North's day.
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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.