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By Tom Sloper

May 15, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #214

Chinese Official Tournament Rules. Samantha started out going for Mixed Straight, switched to Terminal Chows (AKA "Outside"), and saw her brilliance shadowed by a miscreant (goldurn Waiyee's misbegotten hide). Samantha's hand at the first pick:

Her initial strategy was to go for a mixed straight. The only hope for the 456 was in bams, and the 789 was already clearly in Dotsville, so she'd need a 2C... as well as 4B and 6B. Something else would surely shape up... or so she figured.

She threw 1D for starters. She picked 3B. Because of her initial mixed straight plan, 1B seemed to be the best discard, so out it went. To Samantha's chagrin, it was Noriko who got an opportunity to chow 2C and make 123. Samantha's next two picks were throwaways, then she got 8C.

This is when she decided to go for terminal chows instead of mixed straight. Out went 5B. Her next pick was garbage, and she realized she'd have to kill the 3B pung to make terminal chows. Three more garbage picks followed. The next pick was a duplicate 1C; threw 3B. Her next pick was 2B and she wished she'd known this was where she'd be heading. She never would've thrown 1B! Discarded 3B. Picked F, replaced by 2C, threw the extraneous 1C. Her next pick was 5C.

She decided to stay with Plan B; the 5C went right back out. The next pick was junk, followed by another fershlugginer 1C, which, being no less undesirable than its predecessors had been, was discarded alongside them.

Picked and threw 6C - it was chowed for a 678 by Waiyee. Earl chowed 7B from Noriko for 567. Samantha picked and threw S - it was punged by Waiyee, who threw E, which was punged by Earl. Samantha got two more junk picks, then Earl threw 8B. Samantha called for it, "chur." But Waiyee's call trumped Samantha's: "hu!"

Samantha felt some frustration, and that was only natural. But this sort of frustration would be magnified if such a near thing would happen at the upcoming Open European Mahjong Championship, to be held the weekend of June 25 at Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Samantha vowed to practice harder, using the Four Winds computer game to supplement the group's weekly sessions.

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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.