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By Tom Sloper

July 2, 2006
Column #273

American mah-jongg (2006 NMJL card). It's great when your tiles suggest a straightforward plan and you can just go for it. But usually, you get a hodgepodge, then after the Charleston, you have 2 or 3 hands (all even). Just when you get a direction, a tile you need goes dead. You choose another direction, and you're getting really really close... then somebody else wins.

In this column lately, I've been giving several kinds of exercises: Charleston problems, calling problems, and defensive problems. Let's apply these all to one hand and see what happens. The deal:

Well. There's good news and there's bad news. Which do you want to hear first? Hmm... this being a column on the Internet, I couldn't hear your answer. So I'll just tell you the good news first. Guess what: there are three jokers! Bad news: the rest is garbage. (Ain't that the way.) So: what would you pass? (My answer: #1 in italics below. Try not to peek at the next hand until you've arrived at your own answer.)

By the end of the first Charleston, here's what you've got:

So what do you do now? If you don't stop the Charleston, what three tiles do you pass? (My answer: #2 below. Try not to peek ahead.)

Several turns later, someone discards 8B, and this is what you're holding (exposure at left):

Do you call the 8B? (Answer #3.) A few more turns later:

What do you discard now? (Answer #4.)

1. The usual hand winds up being in the dead-center section of the card: Consecutive Runs. The 579C and the 5B 6D all kinda go together. Which leaves the two dragons and the 1C and 4C as likely expendable. Before trashing a dragon, look at hands 4 and 6 (both of which need no same-suit dragons). Okay, then, the dragons not being dead-sure expendable, how about the flower? Yeah, hardly anything needs that. I'd pass F 1C 4C.

2. Others might get mad at me for stopping the Charleston, but I can't find three tiles to pass. I don't make a habit of always stopping the dance, but this time I do. I offer 2 tiles across: 1C, W.

3. I'd call the 8B. Working on Consec. #4 - sevens and eights, but without any of the pairs.

4. Look what you've done now: painted yourself into a corner. Leave me out of this. This is all your fault!


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© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.