By Tom Sloper

December 14, 2003*

Column #140

Chinese Official rules. *This week's column was written and posted in advance. On December 14th I was in China, having just participated in the 2003 World China Mahjong Campionship.

North seat - here's what I was dealt.

My first thought was to shoot for pure straight in bams. Threw 8C.

My next two picks were 5C and 6C, losing White. Thinking I might want to go for something with all suit tiles (perhaps an Outside hand), I broke up the pair of E. My next pick was 7C, and I regretted having thrown the 8 right off.

I threw the other E, and my next pick was 8D. This was getting weird - like the mah-jongg gods were trying to tell me something! I discarded 3B.

I got another F, replaced by 4D, which I threw back. My next pick was garbage, then W threw 4C. I could have called it, but I could make a Mixed Straight without it, so let it go.

Then I got the last two Easts in a row. If the mah-jongg gods were talking to me, they were talking in riddles!

My next pick was nothing, then I got a 9D. Now I had to break up either the 789B or the 567C. I liked the 789B (it made a short straight with the 456 I was hoping to make), so I threw 7C.

I got a couple of garbage picks, then W threw 4B. "Chow!"

Now I had to throw either 5C or 6C, and the remainder would have to be paired for mah-jongg. There were two 6Cs on the floor - there was one left, unlikely to get. I threw 6C, and was waiting for 5C for mah-jongg. One was on the discard floor - I had two chances.

E chowed my 6C, making a 456. W made a kong when I discarded a picked 3D. A few turns later, W made a pung of 8D (again from my discard). Then W punged S (again from me). West was looking very dangerous! Three pungs, and possibly clean (dots). He threw 7D. My next pick was 9D. It was dangerous, but I had to go for it. And he didn't bite. Then E threw 1D... and that was West's maj tile.

I hate when that happens!

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.