By Tom Sloper

July 18, 2004

Column #171

American mah-jongg (2004 NMJL card). In the Charleston, Nora tried to go for a Like Numbers hand, but this Runs hand kept asserting itself instead.

Here's what she was dealt:

She wanted to use all existing pairs or groupings whenever possible, so the logical place to play was in Consecutive Runs. She pulled out the 9B, the R, and hurriedly looked for a third tile, finally choosing 6D. Picking up her pass, she sorted and rearranged.

She quickly saw the 7C and 1D as passers. She could go for Like Numbers (fours) or Run #3 (33 44 333 444 5555) but couldn't decide what to do. The other players were waiting for her, so she just grabbed 3D (committing to the 3344 pairs in Dots, should she go for Run #3).

Got 8C F 7D. 8C and 7D were easy passers, but now what??? She didn't much like that Run hand - too many pairs - so decided to go for Like Numbers. Passed 3B.

Got and passed 5C 9B 6D left, then 1C 9C 8D across. Got 3B back! And 1D 6D (both familiar). She pulled 1D 6D and blind passed. Got 5C... and another 3B!

Sophia said, "I've got three." Nora's indecision was apparent: "Three?" She couldn't even find one to pull off the rack. Sophia finally said, "Never mind. Let's play."

Although the Charleston had been agonizing, it had gone unbelievably well for Nora.

Her hand was now perfectly poised between her original two hands, and was even better than before. She counted.

At this point, the Runs hand was much closer than the Like Nos. hand. Wackily, her first pick was J - forcing a decision immediately.

What's the solution?

The Run hand is much better. Throw F. It's one of the two easiest tiles to get anyway.

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

Question about this column? See an error? Let us know about it on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

Haven't ordered the 2004 NMJL card yet? Read FAQ 7i.

© 2004 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.