By Tom Sloper

January 25, 2004

Column #146

American mah-jongg (2004 AMJA card). Today we meet a group who, tired of playing the old 2003 NMJL card, have just received the 2004 AMJA card and, excitedly, have gotten together to give that card a try. The 2004 NMJL card, of course, won't arrive until April 1st. And the AMJA card always has a quirky sense of humor to the hands and the family names. Let's look over Ed's shoulder and see what he's been dealt.

With just one pair and the otherworldly sense of bewilderment one gets when faced with a card that hasn't yet been learned, Ed fell back on basic American mah-jongg strategy. With just a pair of fours, he knew he'd have to go for evens, a run, or perhaps the "Mish Mosh" section. Accordingly, he passed 1B, 7D, 3C. He got 7D, 5C, and a third 4B. He passed 5C, 7D, 3D across, getting 3B, 4C, 9D. He noticed that Winona racked one of the tiles he'd given her, and passed the other two. And he noticed that no winds or dragons were coming his way.

We now skip to the end of the Charleston and the Courtesy. Here's what Ed had now:

Clearly, Ed wanted to go for something in the runs family. Probably #2 or #4. Also Mish Mosh #3 looked reasonable (but he'd need pairs of jokers and soaps for that one).

Threw. "East." His first pick: J! Threw. "One crak." Picked another 1C and threw it back. 6C went out; he didn't call it. All his possibilities needed pairs. Next he picked soap! (Good for Mish Mosh #3.) Then he picked a second soap, and a second joker (in between junk picks that just went straight back to the floor). And so he came to be one away from ready...

Now he needed 5C and F - one of which would have to be picked from the wall (then he could call or pick the last tile). As if to mock him, Winona threw 5C. And Sam did too. The hand had to be concealed, and it wasn't possible to meld a pair anyway. Just like that, there was only one 5C left, and it was time to sweat. Nathalie threw F, and Winona went out on it: Mish Mosh #1.

And so it goes.

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

To visit the AMJA website, go to http://www.amja.net.

To visit the NMJL website, go to http://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org/.

Copyright 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.