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By Tom Sloper

April 30, 2006
Column #264

American mah-jongg (2006 NMJL card). Quandary exercises. You've just picked the tile at the right. Which tile do you throw away? In each case, no tile you need is showing on anybody's rack, one is out on the discard floor, and it's halfway through the wall. My answers in italics at bottom. No peeking ahead!

1. Just before picking 6B, there were 3 best hands: 369 #5 & #6, and S&P #5. But the 6B reduces the desirability of 369 #5. The closest hand is 369 #6. To focus on that would require discarding F. But F is needed for S&P #5. To focus on S&P #5, the possible discards are J, 3C, 9C. To keep both options open just a little longer, I'd toss 3C (it being slightly more likely that somebody will throw 9C than 3C).

2. Two hands: 2006 #2 and Like Nos. #2 (the dragon hands) are far and away better than anything else. No discard leaves both options open. 2006 #2 will be easier to complete, so that's the way to go. Could throw a two, but for now I'd throw the third soap back.

3. Two possibilities: Lucky 13 #3 or Consec. #5. To go for the latter, throw the 3C and wait for F, 7C, or J. To go for the former, throw J and wait for 1C. The three-way wait is much better. Throw 3C.

4. There are some Consec. possibilities with this, but it's definitely a 13579 hand; either #2 or #8. Either way, the 6D pair can go.

5. Two best possibilities: Winds #1, S&P #1. The latter needs less tiles, and is worth more, but will be harder to make. The former is safer, but go for the gusto. I'd throw F (it's the easiest to replace later, if need be).

6. Looks like a Like Nos. hand, but no. Quints #3. Throw 4D. A 2C will have to go eventually.

7. 2006 #1 or Winds #2. For the former, J or Wh has to go. For the latter, 2B has to go - and one N and an S. 2006 is much closer, but risky (gotta get 6B). It's worth more, though, so throw J and hear the groans.

8. 2468 #6 is riskier than 2468 #5, but again, it's worth more and is closer. Lose a 2D for now.


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© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.