By Tom Sloper

February 8, 2004

Column #148

American mah-jongg (2003 NMJL card). This week let's take a look at a couple of unfortunate hands. We've all gotten them, and they've given us all trouble. They're worth a close look. After the Charleston, S picked 5C:

This is four hands: all in the Runs family:

The only obvious throwaways are the wind tiles. By the time those were all gone, S had picked some more suit tiles:

There was now a fifth 5-tile hand possible (in the 2468 family):

It isn't normal to have five possible hands, all of them even (all having the same number of tiles). But it does happen.

That game ended in a draw (nobody won).

Let's take a look at another "hand from hell." After the Charleston, South had:

This had five possible ways to go:

It was also possible to go for Run #2 using the 1D 3D sandwiching the 2C, but that used only one of the pairs, so S threw the dots away. Eventually S narrowed the possibilities down by killing the winds, but it was going nowhere fast. W won on E's discard, putting S out of her misery.

When you have a "hand from hell," you usually just have to play defensively and wait it out.

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

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Copyright 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.