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By Tom Sloper

April 17, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #210

American mah-jongg (2005 NMJL card). It's tough learning a new card, especially when the new card has new things like sextets. Wouldn't you know, Wesley's first deal on the new card pointed straight to a sextet hand. Wesley made a valiant effort, but he didn't make it. But then, neither did anybody else. Such is the way with a new card sometimes. Look at Wesley's deal and see if you wouldn't have done the same thing he did...

Along with everyone else, he had to take longer than usual to look over the card. Last year's card was spare in its use of flowers, but he'd already noticed that that situation had changed. Still, he wasn't sure he really wanted to try for the sextet hand at the bottom of the 13579 section first thing... but this is where the hand was pointing. And two ways, at that (fives and nines in bams, or ones and fives in dots). So he proceeded to get rid of everything except the flowers, ones, fives, and nine. And of course the joker (it being against the rules to pass that). His Charleston:

Passed Received
First right 2C N G 9D 9C 6C
First across 2 6C 1C 9B 4D 8D
First left 4D 8D 9C 2C 3D G
Second left 2C 3D G 1B 4D 7D
Second across 1B 4D 7D 9C 4D N
Last right 9C 4D N 6C 3D G
Courtesy 6C 3D G 9C 4D 7D

After Nora threw 9C, he planned to follow suit, but picked 5C. So he threw 4D. On her next turn, Nora echoed his throw. Wesley picked 7D.

This wasn't working out according to plan. Not that he was unclean or anything, but he wished he had some soap. That's a joke - he was eyeing 13579 #4 now. He looked for other hands that would let him use his flowers, sevens, and nines. There was nothing. In light of 13579 #2, his best discards were 1D and 5C. He threw 1D. Soon he picked soap, threw 5C, picked J, threw 9C. He switched to 13579 #4 by konging 9D, but he knew getting the other soap would be chancy.

That was as close as he got to a hand that time. It ended in a wall game. And so the new year was off to a sputtering start.

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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.