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By Tom Sloper

May 14, 2006
Column #266

American mah-jongg (2006 NMJL card). Take the discard? Or not? The tile on the left is the current discard. Assume middle of the wall, nobody else has exposures, none of your needed tiles are dead. My answers in italics below. No peeking ahead!

1. Two possible hands: Lucky 13 #3 or Consec. #5. Both hands need a kong. Grabbing the discard for kong keeps both your options open. Take it.

2. Could be 369 #3 or #5. The latter is a concealed hand, so if you pung the 3B, you are committing to 369 #3 - which would be a shame, because you're closer to 369 #5. Let it go.

3. If you pung it, you're dead. Pungs of dragons exist only in concealed hands on this year's card. Better not.

4. Two best hands: 2006 #5, Like Nos. #s 2. Both are concealed, so you mustn't pung. Konging the 6C would commit you instead to Like Nos. #1, necessita-ting throwing away the dragons. Not a good idea.

5. Not enough flowers to make a sextet. No choice but to let it go.

6. Did you catch on that this is a trick question? You can never call a discarded joker, no matter what, end of story, period, full stop. All you can do when somebody throws a joker is pull out your hair and cry to the heavens, "Oh! I wanted that!" If that.

7. You need a pair of E. Of course you can't call it! Prior to making mah-jongg, you can only call for pungs, kongs, quints, and sextets. You knew that!

8. That's the tile you need for mah-jongg (2006 #3). Of course you can take it. What's the name of the game? Say it loud and say it proud. Go on, say it!

9. You're working on a Consec. #3 hand. Taking the 3D doesn't give away what you're doing. It's going to take luck to get another 4C and 4B, but if I were you, I'd call the 3D now, and use one of the jokers to kong.

10. There isn't yet a clear enough direction to the hand. Why commit when you don't know what you're doing yet? I'd advise picking from the wall instead.


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© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.