Today is the first full day of spring, and one theme pervades games everywhere:
WHEN IS THE NEW CARD COMING OUT?
This is what is running through my mind as I sit supposedly working at my unglamorous day job. I am tempted to lift up the phone and call home: "Did the mail come yet? Is there anything from the League?" And I know you are out there peering in your mailbox as well. Now, I always thought the League sends the card en masse on March 31. Not so, says my cousin Barbara in New Jersey. "We'll have it by next week," she said to me last night by phone. Oh, no, I thought, I'm having a "farewell to the card" party on the 26th! We will eulogize our beloved 2010 card, wax nostalgic about our favorite hands - mine is the uber-utilitarian like numbers with dragons - and get to hold it in our hands and play one last time before we dump it on the pile of useless cards from years gone by. But, if we do get the new card, we can hurriedly switch to a "welcome 2011 card" party and begin the brain-stretching process of reforming habits and crying about "Where has my favorite hand gone?" I fully expect my favorite hand to fade into mahjongg hand oblivion, maybe to resurface in the 2030 card. Hopefully I will be there to say, "Oh, they had that hand on the 2010 card! I loved it!" I should be. I'll only be 78.
Why does the League do this to us every year? Players of other forms of mahjongg do not go through this agony of waiting. They eternally play the same hands, committing them to memory, the more skillful players creating complex variations of the tile sets. Yes, there are limits and rules, but there is no Card, there is no panel of elders that sends a representative up the mountain to return with a tablet of Official Standard Hands.
If we take a sociological view, we might say that the differences in mahjongg style parallel differences in political and theological style when it comes to East and West. We are American! We like our rules written down. We like to have an omnipotent body who benevolently and tirelessly works on our behalf to provide us with a code of play so that we may be ever challenged to do our best.
The new card promotes democracy - everyone is on the same level now. New players, this is your chance! No one will kvetch if you stop to think. We all have to stop and think when the new card comes. Hurry, the window will close quickly. As soon as the card comes, put it side by side with the old one. Check out the changes, compare and contrast, and play, play, play! I've got my first tournament with the new card booked on April 29th, so I have a job ahead of me.
Before I close this post, I want to give a shout out to Arthur the parrot. I played with some new friends this weekend, and I could have sworn Arthur was the fifth player. He was in his cage behind me, but he had a bird's-eye view of my hand. When I arranged my tiles, he would cluck and squawk, and I could swear he was giving me clues about what to play. And when I threw a one bam he screamed "WHAT?????????"
I should have listened to him, as I lost that game, but he sure made us all laugh.
Well, my next post will either be about the new card or about our farewell party. I better go now and earn my salary, but first I have to call home to see if the mail came.