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By Tom Sloper (湯姆·斯洛珀)

December 31, The Year Of The Dog
Column #299

Chinese Classical & HKOS. This past week two readers have asked about what to do when the last tile picked from the live wall is a flower. The problem is only apparent to those who play an Asian variant that uses flowers and that leaves the last remaining 14 tiles unplayed, such as Chinese Classical or Hong Kong Old Style. To briefly define things, "Chinese Classical" is a name created by Millington to refer to the 1920s game in its "purest" form, but today is widely used to refer to the well-documented 1920s game. "Hong Kong Old Style" is a name created by Perlmen & Chan to refer to the game widely played in Hong Kong and environs, to differentiate from the newer style that they saw becoming popular (but which has not supplanted the simple HK game). In HKOS, flowers are optional tiles.

In both CC and HKOS, the practice is to leave a "dead wall" or "flower wall" or "King's hand" of 14 or 13 tiles unused in play. Players may take flower replacement tiles and kong replacement tiles from the dead wall. Table practices vary, but in general the classic way of dressing the dead wall is to place the last two tiles (the "loose tiles") atop the wall so players have a clear visual indication that this is the back end of the wall (and don't accidentally pick from here during play).

The classic practice is to replenish the dead wall after two replacement tiles have been taken, so that it never contains fewer than 13 tiles.

This week's question was "what do you do when the live wall is empty, and the last tile taken was a flower?" When this happens, go ahead and take a replacement tile. If that tile is also a flower, take another. Keep doing that until you get a non-flower.


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© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.