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By Tom Sloper

September 24, 2006
Column #285

American Mah-Jongg (2006 NMJL card). Before we start today's column, a word about the next few columns. Next month I'm participating in the 4th China Majiang Championship and Forum, in Tianjin, China. And for those of you who've been reading the column long enough, you know what that means - I need to focus on my Chinese Official game, and that means the column will, too. The column will return to its usual "2 American & 1 Chinese" schedule in late October or early November. We return you now to our regularly scheduled column...

Strategic thinking shouldn't stop when you're one tile away from mah-jongg. Consider this hand.

You know what you need - 8B. Nothing else will give you mah-jongg right now. That's great, but then... what if you pick G instead?

This is what happened to Wesley in last week's game. He knew he was likely to get 8B, since it wasn't dead on the floor, and he could see from melds what hands the others were working on (and they didn't need 8B). He couldn't sit there churning his inner computer for very long, so he threw G back.

Immediately after saying "green," he went back to his churning inner computer and saw what he should have discarded instead.

What did he wish he'd done? He wished he'd thrown "soap" instead, is what. Consider:

Now he'd be waiting for 8B or J or 8C. A three-way wait is much better than a one-way wait. This same quandary applies also to Consec. #4 (another hand with interchangeable pairs and pungs).

You'd been waiting for 8D (and only 8D), but you picked 9D instead. If you throw 9D back, you're still waiting for the one-way call. But if you throw 9B instead, you'd be waiting for 8D, J, or R - a three-way wait.

But this doesn't apply to 13579 #3.

If you pick 3C, you have to throw it back. And because the pairs have no interchangeability with the pungs, even if you pick 5B, 9D, or J, it's no good. You're still waiting for the 1C. Just throw it back.


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© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.