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By Tom Sloper

May 6, 2007
Column #317

American Mah-Jongg (2007 NMJL card). For the benefit of novice readers, let's follow a random deal through the Charleston. Wesley's initial tiles:

Wesley's opening strategy centered around the 2D pair. The first move is often simple elimination. Four tiles immediately looked incongruous - the seven, the nines, and N. No way those could go with the 2D pair. He passed 7B 9D N to the right.

Two pairs now. It's usually desirable to use both, if the circumstances (the other tiles) warrant. At this point, having two pairs, it's not so much elimination as family-seeking. Only two families where Wesley could work with twos and greens both: 2468 and Consecutive Run. 2468 #1 and Consec. #4 are out - greens and dots don't match. But 2468 #6 is a possibility, and so is Consec. #6; two possible hands.

Consecutives are the most common hands, so Wesley was inclined to maintain his options there. But 2468 didn't look so bad either. He had two obvious discards - 5D and 9B. 3C was his choice for the third. He passed across, and here's what he had then:

Now it looked very much like a 268 hand. Too bad that old Like Numbers hand is gone from the 2007 card. What to pass? N is a no-brainer. The other twos are unlikely to be useful with the 2D pair, so he passed those. Now:

Darn, multiple Norths going around. Esther shot Wesley a wry look for the ironic trade. 2468 #6 looking very likely, Wesley knew he wanted to keep the 2Ds, 8Cs, and Gs. He passed N 8B 6B, thinking he might want to fall back on 2468 #2. Next play:

Having a clear idea now, he passed 3B 8B 8D across.

Wow, a rare lucky acquisition in the second across. He passed 6C and blind passed two, getting an ironic 6C back. Traded 6C in the courtesy, getting 6B back. All in all, a very good Charleston for Wesley!


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© 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.