Jewish Journal


by Elaine Sandberg

October 10, 2010 | 11:22 pm

                              PLAN A AND PLAN B

I recommend to my strategy class to have a Plan A and Plan B in mind at the end of the Charleston, if the hand is not “set”.  A set hand should be one that you have no doubt about pursing and already have seven or eight tiles toward Mah Jongg, sometimes more.  The chosen hand is solid.

A Plan A and Plan B hand is one that has two options and can go either way, depending on what tiles become available. 

A Plan A and Plan B hand was the situation one of my students was in during a recent class.  The player had two Pairs, one useful toward one hand and one useful toward the other.  As the game progressed, she picked a couple of tiles for Plan A and that seemed to be the hand to choose.  It was obvious that the Pair for the Plan B hand was no longer useful.  But she was reluctant to part with it, her rationale being that she wasn’t sure about Plan A and Plan B might still be a good option.  I noticed that this was a “style” she had adopted..keeping unneeded tiles for a hand that was no longer doable..in case…

She’s not alone.  Novice players have a tendency to keep tiles for hands that are no longer useful, even though they are pretty sure they are no longer useful. It’s a sign of inexperience.

When the hand has eight or nine tiles toward Mah Jongg,  “in case” is no longer reasonable. Mah Jongg requires 14 tiles and 8 or 9 is well over half. You can’t win with two different hands—only when you have a definite hand.  Keeping extraneous tiles for hands you no longer pursue keeps you from focusing on the task at hand and is a distraction that leads to indecision.  Once you have a definite hand, stick with it and have no regrets about abandoning the useless tiles, even if they are an enticing Pair.

So I pointed out she already had eight tiles toward Mah Jongg.  Since Plan B only added to the uncertainty she was experiencing, getting rid of it was the proper play. And now she could focus on creating a win with Plan A.  Which she did and won!

Til next time,





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A kid from Brooklyn, a graduate of Syracuse University and an immigrant to California via Palo Alto, San Juan Capistrano, finally, Los Angeles, I have been here for the past 15...

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