The Road Not Taken

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As Robert Frost said so eloquently:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


How many times have we played Mah Jongg and had to decide between two hands? There we are, staring at the card, trying to decide which hand to play. We use all the known tactics to decide- counting the tiles we have for each hand, deciding which ones need singles or pairs to complete, examining the discards, figuring the odds of getting each needed tile. We finally decide which hand to play based on all those criteria and more, and begin discarding unneeded tiles.


How many times should we have taken the other path? It seems that often, after finally deciding to give up on a potential hand, we pick those tiles on our own that we thought so difficult, such as singles and pairs! Or perhaps the tiles we now need were just exposed by another player, and our chosen hand will most certainly not materialize.


Why is it that we can get five flowers for a hand when we only need two, and can’t get any for another hand? How often are two players vying for the same tiles for similar hands? Why do we wish for 4 Dots in one hand, and finally get three of them the next hand, when we’ve already decided to play Odds?


These are among many burning questions for which Mah Jongg players have no answer. Are there Mah Jongg gods? Perhaps. It would be so nice to know, however, which road to take, when faced with two potential hands.

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