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By Tom Sloper

March 27, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #207

American mah-jongg (2004 NMJL card). Before the next American column appears, the 2005 card will be here. Today we look at Wesley's last 2004 hand.

A lousy pair of fives, and not much else. What hands did he see? See answer #1, below. Charleston. Got 1C 5B G, passed 1C 3D 7B - Why? See answer #2. Got 7D 1D 9B, passed 1D 9B and blind passed one. Got 1D S. Stopped the Charleston. Why? Answer #3. Offered 2 across, got one (9B). Picked 9D.

Yet another possibility now. Which? Answer #4. Discarded S. Got junk for two picks, then 5C, threw 9B. Sophia konged E (one J). Wesley picked junk again, then Nora threw 5D.

What to do? Answer #5. After picking more junk, Wesley picked 9D, threw 6D. Got more nothing for two picks, then got 5C.

Time to commit? If so, which hand to go for? Answer #6. Esther threw 5C. Should he take it? Answer #7. More junk picks, then he picked F, threw 7D. Next: 5B, threw 5C. Now he just needed Wh and R. Picked trash three turns in a row, then got 5D (threw it back), then his next pick was nothing. Sophia konged W (one J). Another nothing pick. Sophia redeemed her own E. More nothing picks, then the last R went out. His hand was now, finally, officially dead. There were only a couple of tiles in the wall anyway, and those too were soon gone. Wall game. The 2004 card had gone out, not with a bang but with whimpering cat's feet.

The group agreed on two things. The 2004 card had been a good, well-balanced card. But they looked forward to seeing the new card just the same.

1. Runs #4, S&P #2 or #5. Or maybe an Odds hand. Pass W, 1C, 2D.
2. Fives and dragons coming in, suggesting S&P #3. Pass 1C 3D 7B.
3. Because now the hand could be either Like #s, S&P #3, Run #4, or Run #6.
4. Odds #5.
5. Calling it would commit the hand to Odds #5 or Like #s. Too soon.
6. Not a single joker. Go for the S&P hand. Throw 7D or 9D.
7. No. Go for S&P. It's actually closer.

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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.