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By Tom Sloper

January 23, 2005

Column #198

American mah-jongg (2005 AMJA card). The group was all excited. They'd received the new 2005 card from the AMJA (that "other" mah-jongg society), and tonight they'd give that a go. They weren't dissatisfied with the 2004 NMJL card (which still has another three months to go), but anything that added spice to the evening was something to look forward to.

Sophia almost gasped when she saw her deal.

An obvious family. Still, she had to look at the card real hard, because it was new, and she only had two tiles to pass. It amazed her that she'd have to narrow the field down to a specific hand on the first Charleston pass! She decided to go for the fifth hand. She passed 45D and 3B, not wanting to pass a flower right off.

She received junk tiles in the Charleston - nothing but 3C and R. But she had to stick with the plan, it was so clear and strong. On her third pick she got a third 3C.

Threw 4B. Soon picked G, threw 3C. Got Wh. She wished somebody would throw some nines already! Two players threw R, so on her turn Sophia didn't flinch. She picked W and threw R.

And finally Nora threw 9D. "Call!" Her sharp response made Esther flinch.

Esther took Sophia's joker when her turn came around. Sophia eventually picked 9C, but she was having no luck getting another J or 9B. Then she did pick a 9B. Discarding the last dragon, she was ready.

When Esther discarded a joker, Sophia moaned aloud (giving away information about her hand, as the female players sometimes did). Pick after pick, she got the wrong tiles. The elusive 9B was nowhere to be seen. She started suspecting others of intentionally withholding it, but such was not the case. 32 tiles left... Nora discarded another J. Another moan. 20 tiles left...

With only 16 tiles left, Sophia picked her third F and, with a cringe, discarded it... whew. Safe! Her next pick was a joker. "Maj! $1.20 from everybody!"

And the new card was properly inaugurated.

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

Haven't ordered the 2005 NMJL card yet? Read FAQ 7i.

Need rules for American mah-jongg? Go to AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the booklet from the NMJL (see FAQ 3).

© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.