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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Squeeze Play (Overexposed Redux)

(Cartoon credit:  Gary Larson - the Far Side)

I can recall two occasions in my mahjongg career when I fell victim to a squeeze play.  Squeeze play is a baseball term which describes a situation where a runner is on third, in scoring position; there are two outs.  The batter bunts and either the runner will score if the batter gets on base or if the batter gets tagged out the inning is over.  The pitcher must decide where to throw the ball - to home plate where the scorer can be tagged out or to first base where the batter will be thrown out.   

My mahj squeeze plays resulted from being over exposed - in one game I had no choice, but in another I did.

The first time it happened I was playing  FFFF 1111 2222 DD, the second time I was playing FF 3333 6666 9999.   In the first situation  I had four flowers, four 1s and four 2s exposed, leaving me set with one green dragon in my hand.  In the second, I had four 3s,  four 6s and four 9s exposed, leaving me with one flower in my hand.   The only difference between these two situations was that in the second game I didn't have to expose the sixes.  Before I exposed I had 1 flower, three sixes and a joker in my hand.  But I wanted a jokerless win, so I called the six and threw the joker. 

In both cases the stage was set - the hands were obvious, but had I not exposed the 6s, it would have been less obvious what I needed - a six or a flower?  If I let the six go, did it mean I was covered or did it mean I was short?

So anyway, what were the upshots?  Well, in both cases it was late in the game.  Other people had exposures out.  In game 1, a player had 1111 2222 out when I picked a flower.  There was one flower on the table.   The squeeze play was on, I had to either throw the flower or break my hand. I threw the flower and it went uncalled.  Whew.  

The second game was a tighter squeeze.  One player had 444 666 exposed and another player had 5555 6666 exposed.  I had one flower in my hand and then picked a 2 dot.  The squeeze came in the form of - do I throw the 2 dot to an obvious hand or do I throw the flower to a less obvious hand and break up my hand.  Ack!  Player 1 might have needed a 4 bam or 8 craks as well.  Player 2 may have had her flowers, she may have been going for a consecutive hand...but maybe not.  Ack!  Why did I expose those six craks??? I could have thrown the joker and been safe.  But, no!  Do I throw home or to first?  Risk taker than I am, I threw the 2 dot,  only to hear "Mahjongg" from someone other than myself.

Now, the situation could easily have been reversed and my exposures could have forced another player into a squeeze play if they had picked my flower or my green.  A more careful decision about over-exposing could have turned this "squeezee" into a "squeezer" and the "Mahjongg" might have been mine.

The moral of the story?  Be careful when you expose, especially when it leaves you with only one tile in your hand - if you pick hot, you'll be feeling that squeeze for sure.