By Tom Sloper

June 6, 2004

Column #165

American mah-jongg (2004 NMJL card). The complaint department has to work overtime on mah-jongg night. It seems nobody ever gets any jokers in the deal. Esther had good cause to complain...

With pairs of eights and wests, she could go for winds, winds and eights, or winds and dragons. She got rid of odds, and received more eights and another wind. Now she considered Like Numbers. Passed 2C, 4B, 7D across - got junk, passed those left and grumbled, "first." Got more junk, and passed those left as well. "Second." Got bupkis for the rest of the Charleston. A couple turns into the game, she'd picked a couple of Easts.

She got a joker, then had to make a decision when Wesley threw 8C. "Hold it." She counted.

The winds and eights was untenable (she had no 8Ds at all). That left her with two unrelated hands, both equal if she called. Which way would you go? See answer #1, below.

Not long after, another 8C went out, then she picked N. What would you throw? See answer #2.

Sophia threw 8B. Esther picked S, threw 8B. A few turns later, Nora threw F. What to do? See answer #3.

Finally, Wesley threw W. "Call!"

She threw 8B. Sophia threw another F. Only 10 tiles were left in the wall, so she reversed her previous decision.

She threw 8C. On her last pick, she got J, threw 8B. Finally she was waiting - too late.

1 Answer. To make Like #s, she'd need four 8Ds or two 8Ds. The Winds hand is easier (she just needs one N and some more S and F). She didn't call the 8C.

2. Answer - Throw 8C. Go for the winds. Hold 8Bs for joker bait.

3. Not many Fs have gone out. She didn't want to put up an easily redeemable joker if it could be avoided.

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© 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.