The game of Mah Jongg is fun. Whether you win or not is based on your own skills but also there is a factor of luck. It is based on who you play with and it is all about making the right decisions at the right time. Will the tiles you need come your way at the right time or will players at the table keep the tiles you need for their own hands?
Like many of you, I play with a regular weekly group. We usually play with 5, one sits out and rotates in replacing whomever was East in the last game. We do not bet which is just fine with me. We play fast usually finishing a full game in less than 15 minutes consistently. We also play very defensively, hoping for a wall game rather than taking a chance on throwing a potential MJ tile. Last week was a very usual evening of games and play.
Two games in a row the player to my right discarded 5 flowers – almost in succession. She happened to be playing hands that required no flowers so what did she do? She drew a flower and then another one and another one. The bulk of her hand was already set so why make a major change when you start to draw the flowers? And who knew that she would draw five almost in a row! She also did not want to be stuck with having to throw flowers at the very end of the game because at that point someone could need a flower to finish off a pair and her hand. So imagine my frustration as my singles and pairs hand fell nicely into place and guess what I was missing? Yes indeed – two flowers! Each call of a flower went right through me. Couldn’t I draw one or two? The key was also to know how many flowers were left. I kept count and once another two flowers were on the table I knew the hopes I had of completing my lovely Singles and Pairs hand was fruitless.
So I switched into defensive mode first determining I was too far away to switch to another hand. What I find challenging and fun is how to play to not lose. We all want to win but if you do not have a winning hand can you adapt and not have to pay out?
This night of play was also unusual because if you were lucky to draw a joker you usually had more than one but if you had no jokers– well then you never got one. Certain seats brought the luck of jokers while other seats left some of us whining. We all do it. So a strange kind of evening — bouquets of flowers when you did not need them and absentee jokers. This week I am sure it will be something else. But that is what makes the game fun — you never know how things will play out.