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By Tom Sloper
February 12, 2012

Column #507

American Mah Jongg (2011 NMJL card). Continuing from last week's column.

11. Wes had these tiles after the Charleston.

12. His first pick: 6D, throws 5D. Picks 5C, throws it.

13. Wes gets lucky, gets a 4th joker. Discards N. You may recall that his two hands are 2468 #1 and 369 #4. The four jokers and the 6B pair are common to both hands. He has four other tiles for the 369 hand: 3D 6D R 9B. And he has three tiles for the 2468 hand: 4B 8B 8B; he belatedly notices that R is good only for the 369 option. The 369 hand is looking better. And he has no 2Bs at all, anyway. So he reorganizes his hand.

14. The player at his right (let's call her Rhonda, since that starts with R) discards 6B. Wes pungs it and discards 4B (keeping the 8B pair for joker bait).

15. Wes picks, discards W, then Esther discards R. Wes kongs it. He discards 8B. It just lays there.

16. Esther redeems a joker and discards 6D. Wes doesn't claim it (that would be silly, since with his jokers he already has his 6D pung). Wes discards his next pick, 9C; a 9B goes out, and Wes keeps his poker face; another 9B goes out, and still Wes makes no outward sign.

17. Wes picks the 4th R and redeems his own joker. Not wanting to reveal information yet, he discards 8B. Rhonda is expressing frustration, and the player to his left (let's call her Leah, since that starts with L) is giving off confidence vibes.

Wes picks and discards, picks and discards. The player at his left discards 3D. Wes has difficulty stifling a slight exhalation. Wes' next pick is a joker; no choice but to discard it. "Same." It causes groans, which grow louder when Ms. Smug Leah also discards one. Wes knows he's in trouble if he doesn't pick 9B or 3D, and fast. His next pick: nothing. His pick after that: yet another joker. He discards it, and a loud outcry goes up from Rhonda and Esther. Esther discards 2B, and that's Leah's win.

Wes kvetches, "I had five jokers and still I couldn't win!" He should have chosen a hand with no more than one pair. If he'd gone for Consec. #3, 369 #2, or Quints #2, he might have made it.

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