Yesterday, Warren (yes, a man) showed this hand after we had played to a wall game:
F 222 DJJ 111 DJJ
He had been sitting, waiting for a flower that never came.
I, of course, in my patronizing way said - Why didn't you switch it to:
FJJ 111J 222J DD
Same tiles rearranged. The first hand leaves you waiting for a pair, while the second hand is more flexible and either a 1, 2 or flower could give you mahjongg.
His answer, verbatim, was "Nothing personal, but the second is a more pedestrian (adj. commonplace, prosaic, dull) hand."
Well, I never.
It is true, though. The second hand is worth less simply because it is a little boring, with only one pair. A tried and true, steady and reliable hand. In fact, it is often on the card in consecutive runs. But its structure makes it one of the "easy" hands, and the chances of making a mahjongg are greater. However, Warren, chose to push the hand of higher value, more exciting because of its payoff and elegance of design. This hand won't be back for awhile, unless they use it next year, but more than likely it would be something more like 222 000 111 111.
So when do we decide to make the switch? Is this something that separates the men from the girls, so to speak? I know in tournaments the push is always on and every point counts, but then, too, the moment must come to decide, can I make it this way? Or should I switch it to this? Were I Warren, I would have switched. My personality is more the "play it safe" kind than the big kahuna kind. I just can't take the pressure! Although, I do see the value in sticking with a hand that even though the chances are eroding, the hand is so beautiful that you don't want to give it up. I will confess that sometimes even if I know I am dead, I will keep playing the hand because it is so nice to look at - especially the singles and pairs. Some may scoff and say well, what's the point of that? You'll never win that way. I know, I know. But I like to think about what might have been, or, even more, what should have been, what would have been. <sigh>
I guess my point is this: When to switch is one of those individual things. Suddenly the door swings open for another hand and you only have a second to make the decision. Often times you make the decision and then start picking the tiles for the hand you left behind. But sometimes you're going for the easier hand and the pairs hand becomes apparent. It's tough to throw out a joker, but you do it anyway. Then spend the rest of the game agonizing over your decision - until you get set and are on call, like Warren was, and your heart starts pumping a little faster. Oh, the joy of mahjongg!