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By Tom Sloper (湯姆 斯洛珀)
February 3, The Year Of The Dragon

Column #555

It's time for the annual Chinese New Year hand. The Year of the Snake begins next week, on February 10.

Chinese players refer to a run from 1 to 9 as a "snake." In some forms of mah-jongg there's a special hand that includes a 1-to-9 run; the hand is called "The Wriggly Snake." So this year's hand includes a 1-to-9 snake (in any suit), and a 2013 from American mah-jongg (in which white dragon represents a zero), and a green dragon. The green dragon character reads "fortune" in Chinese. So this hand symbolizes "good fortune in 2013, the Year of the Snake." It's a concealed hand, worth maximum score.

This is column #555, so let's fill out the column with some WWYDs (American), all incorporating fives.

1. You just have to decide between Consec. and Odds and Like Nos. I think Consec. #2 is your best bet; 9D and 7C can go (and then 5B and one of the 6Ds).

2. Shooting for Odds #7, but which way? If you shift the dots to the right, you'll see that 9D and a 9B can go. I'd throw 9B first, save 9D for joker bait.

3. A decision between Like Nos. and W-D #2. The latter is stronger, so throw F. I wouldn't throw the extra 5B first because Fs are traditionally hot, and you should throw hot tiles earlier rather than later.

4. Either Like Numbers or Consec. #5. Like Nos. is closer; discard 6B (save 4C for joker bait).

5. Consec. #2, but which way? The 4-5-6 option has nine tiles; the 5-6-7 option also has nine. So it comes down to choosing based on which one has its pairs. And that's the 5-6-7 option. Fours and 6C can go.

6. Elevens, but which way? If you go all bams, you don't have your 11. If you go three suits, though, the only challenge is to come up with more flowers. And flowers can be easy, because there are eight of them. I'd throw 7C - it's just a red herring trying to lure you to Consec. #5 (a weaker option).

7. The bottom Odds hand; get rid of that extra 7D, and you're ready for mah-jongg.

恭喜發財! Happy Year of the Snake, everyone!


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