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By Tom Sloper
February 5, 2012

Column #506

American Mah Jongg (2011 NMJL card). Today's column has no football in it whatsoever! Herewith: anatomy of a mah-jongg hand.

1. The deal is always a mystery: "What will I get this time?" Once dealt, the mishmosh has to be sorted.

2. In this case. a happy beginning: three jokers and a pair of 6B... and the 6B has friends. Our intrepid player (Wes) must pass three tiles.

3. Wes sees some possible hands: 369 #4, 2468 #1. Consec. #1 looks unlikely (no 5Bs). Mustn't think too long; he chooses to pass 7B, N, Soap.

4. From the left, he receives 3C 5D E. He doesn't like any of them, and immediately passes them across.

5. In exchange, he receives 1C N W. He dislikes those and passes them left, and says "First left."

6. The player at his right, kvetching to the mah-jongg gods, passes him N 8B 9D. Wes announces, "Hold the Charleston, please." The kvetcher moans, "Please don't stop it."

7. Wes does a quick count. 2468 #1 has six tiles, and 369 #4 has just five. He decides to ditch the 369 option, and says, "I'll go." He forms N 3D 9D into a little pyramid, and says "Second left." While the Charleston proceeds, he positions his jokers and second guesses his choice; he has no 2Bs, and he'll need a pair of them. Shouldn't have passed 3D. But it's too late to turn back now.

8. He receives 5D E 7B. "These look familiar." Consec. #1 still unlikely; he passes them across.

9. In exchange he gets his erstwhile friends 1C N W, and passes them right.

10. And promptly gets N 9D 3D back again. With the 3D's return, he's back to his previous alternate option, 369 #4. "I've got two." He passes N 9D across.

11. He gets 5D N. Wes and Esther share a moment of wry amusement as Esther discards; "North."

Continuing next week...

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