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By Tom Sloper

February 11, 2007
Column #305

American Mah-Jongg (2006 NMJL card). Some ambiguous exposure problems. Here's what your opponent is showing:

Here's what you're holding:

Let's say neither of your two options is dead, judging by what you can see. The main question is this. From a defense point of view, what should you not discard right now? See answer #1 below.

Okay, next problem. Your opponent's exposures:

And here's what you've got:

What hand(s) are you working on? What do you do at this juncture? Can your hand still be rescued, can you pull a rabbit out of the hat? Or is it time to surrender, rather than die on that hill? See #2.

1. Ordinarily, you'd base your choice of what to discard on which hand you'd be more likely to win on. But in this case, you need to play defensively. Your opponent could be working on 13579 #2... or she could be doing 13579 #3. If the former, 7B is dangerous. If the latter, 1B and 3B are dangerous. If either of those goes dead, you can watch her for clues. You need to keep 1B and 3B for both of your options (so throwing those is out of the question regardless), but throwing 7B is extremely risky. So you have to go for 13579 #1, although it's highly likely your opponent will win before you can get very far. It's probably not even worth redeeming the 9C; if someone redeems the 5D too, your opponent's score would be doubled, jokerless. Throw non-bam tiles and hope she doesn't pick it herself.

2. She's doing a 369 hand, but which? Number 3? Or #5? Well, thimk a moment. Number 5 has to be concealed. If that's what she's doing, she's dead. Not that you can prove anything, mind you. The dangerous throws are 3D and 6B. The problem is, you gotta forget about S&P, since you have to keep all three of your 6B's. You have to go for the same hand she is: #3. That means the craks can go, and the flower. You can redeem the 3B and 9B. She's not going to win this, because you have her 6B's. You probably won't win it either, unless a miracle happens and you get a lot more jokers, but you won't be paying her double.


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© 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.