By Tom Sloper

December 21, 2003

Column #141

Chinese Official rules (CMCR). I say that I am a mah-jongg expert, because I know many things about mah-jongg. I wish I were a better player, though. I placed near the bottom at the 2003 China Majiang Open Championship a little over a week ago... and I know why. It was a combination of four things.

Oftentimes, I could see that a discard was dangerous, but I'd throw it nonetheless (from a desire to win the hand). Other times I couldn't figure out what tiles were dangerous to throw. A couple of times I just plain blundered (missing a chance to take a tile, or discarding a tile I'd meant to keep). And sometimes I was just unlucky. Like this example from the last day.

Of course I was trying for a Pure Straight (a dragon, or leung, as the Chinese call it). The player to my left threw 7D so I chowed it.

"Chur." (The Chinese players, coming to the tournament from all over China, all tended to pronounce the word differently - "sheung," "cheung," "shur," and "chur" all seeming to be acceptable ways to say it.) I threw the 2D. I mused on the fact that I didn't have my pair yet, and on my next pick, I lucked into a 7B. Throwing the 8B, I was waiting for 3C.

Now it was a waiting game. I stopped worrying about what the other players were doing -- whatever I picked that wasn't a 3C went right back out.

It took forever, but finally the man to my right threw 3C.

"Hu!" "Hu!"

No, I didn't say "hu" twice. The lady to my left said "hu" also. And because she was before me in the order of play, she took the tile - and the win. She, like me, had needed it for a 123 chow. I was too upset to look closely at what hand she'd made. And nobody much cared what hand I'd been making.

I did win a few hands, though. This was the second-to-last hand of the final round:

I picked 4B, threw 7B. The player to my right then threw 1C, which frustrated me because I couldn't take it. To make matters worse, it was punged by the player opposite me. I figured I was dead.

But then the player to my left threw the last one. "Chur." I discarded 3C. My opposite threw my 6B. "Hu." Mixed Triple Chow, All Chows. Ten points.

Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.

Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.