The Unexpected Benefit of Playing a Closed Hand

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2014-10-13 21.53.03

I admit that I usually don’t play a closed hand. When trying to make sense of the 13 tiles before me, my eyes generally avoid the “C” hands on my card. Occasionally I have played one, which I have sometimes won, but these generally aren’t my hands of choice. They have seemed more difficult to me because there is a smaller pool of tiles available for choosing.

Last week I played two closed hands during my weekly Mah Jongg game. I didn’t win either- the Mah Jongg gods were not smiling on me that day. However during the second “closed hand” I realized that I was calmer than usual. It surprised me. It suddenly occurred to me that this hand was actually easier.  There was less pressure on me. I did not have to decide quickly about whether to call for a discarded tile- I couldn’t! The only decision to make was when it was actually my turn- whether to keep a tile I picked or to discard it- it either matched the hand I had chosen or it didn’t. So there was no agonizing over the usual issues- whether I should use my lone joker to complete a kong or pung, or whether I was exposing too early or too much of my hand.

Of course there’s always the possibility that the tiles needed are thrown and the hand becomes dead. But that can occur in any game. So I will no longer fear the closed hands, and I’ll play one if the tiles in my hand support it.

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