Jewish Journal


by Elaine Sandberg

July 11, 2011 | 1:15 am

                                                                          THE END OF THE GAME

I’ve been playing with a group of friends over the week-end and I was a little surprised to see what these pretty good players discarded at the end of the game.
But let’s define what I mean by “the end of the game”.  I teach my students that when there are only two or three picks left in the Wall for each player, it’s “the end of the game”.. time to aggressively defend by discarding the only really safe tile—the Joker—painful tho it may be!

In my experience, if I am two or more tiles away from Mahj, the chances of me winning are zero—I can’t win.  Mostly, since the Exposures have given away the hands being pursued,  players will not (should not) be discarding any tiles, other than Jokers. So I use my Jokers to defend against giving an opponent Mahj..  Even when I have no Jokers, I break up my hand and find the safest tile to discard.

If you are “waiting”, again, your chances of winning are close to zero, because in most cases, the others will not discard your Mahj tile or any tile, but they will, again be discarding Jokers.  The only chance you have to win is to pick the tile for Mahj—very, very, very slim. And if you pick an opponent’s Mahj tile, you are forced to discard Jokers and/or break up your hand.  Discarding tiles, hoping someone will discard your Mahj tile at the end of the game, is dangerous and can be costly.

So, I was surprised to find these players discarding tiles other than the Joker at the end of the game— players sometimes discarded Flowers—something I teach my students to never do!  But I stayed silent, not wanting to appear critical.  But playing with fire inevitably leads to getting burned and at the end of one game my friend, Marsha, threw the Mahj tile for another player. 

She was roundly chastised by the others and, no longer being able to contain myself, I “suggested” that discarding Jokers was the correct and preferable play, explaining something I thought every player knew.  It turned out to be a case of “All’s Well that Ends Well” because after that,  for the most part, playing ended “well”.

Til the 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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