By Tom Sloper

December 28, 2003

Column #142

American mah-jongg (2003 NMJL card). Nora's deal had nothing but a pair of flowers and a single joker. But she managed to parlay it into a winning hand. Let's watch...

She'd be passing S for sure. The R had to stay for now, since it could go with 4B, 6B, and 5C. And with FF 5C 6C as well. So for her first Charleston pass, she selected to get rid of 5D, 8C, S.

After picking up her first right, she had a pair of 8Bs. For her first across, she passed 1D 8D S. In return, she got yet another 8B. It was shaping up like a 2468 #1 hand in bams, except the pair of Fs wouldn't be useful for that - and she didn't have any Gs. The R and its associated tiles were not going anywhere useful, so she decided to get rid of them. She passed 5C 6C R left. For her second left, she passed 3B 4C 5D, and got another 4B.

For her second across, she passed 5B 5D 1C. For the last right, she passed W S and a blind third tile. And look what Nora had wound up with by this point:

Not knowing what (if anything) she'd want to pass in the courtesy, she told Sophia she passed. But then her first pick was 7B, and she already had to decide what to do. Although she didn't have any Gs, she decided that Run #6 had to be one of her choices - and Run #1b had to be the other.

She discarded 2B. Within the next few turns, she'd gotten a G and two Js.

Soon, she had a fourth J, the 6B was gone, and she was waiting for G to go Maj. She picked another J. She had to decide whether to throw it back (revealing that she needed to make a single or pair), or throw 7B, 8B, or F as a diversionary tactic. She decided to throw the J - you never knew, somebody might call one of the others.

A couple turns later, she picked the G herself. Fifty all.

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.