|OVERVIEW: Making an early pung = Avoiding pungs = Deciding whether or not to kong a tile|
One of the biggest temptations, especially for beginners, is to make an early pung. However, one has to consider the following:
- Is the pung a major or a minor? If it’s a minor, it is only worth 2 points.
- You are destroying your chances of a concealed hand [d] – the same tile may still be in the wall.
- You are closing down your options to change what you want to collect.
- You may be propelling yourself towards a low-scoring MJ.
- You are probably losing the option of going for a special hand.
- If you want a clean hand [d], you are revealing the suit that you want to collect. You are also committing yourself to this suit and giving others the chance to disrupt you. They may then be wary of discarding this suit or deliberately make an early discard (particularly of a major) on the supposition that you are unlikely to have more than one in your hand.
- You may still be able to make a pung later and this may be helped by others thinking that no one is collecting this set (because there will be a discard on the table).
- No one else will be able to make a pung (or even a pair) of this discarded tile.
- You are losing one chance of picking up an honour or bonus tile from the wall.
- Patience can pay dividends – a lot of good tiles may come your way later.
Note that the fewer pungs you have made, the more choice you have of tiles you can discard from your rack (and the safer your discard can be).
The more concealed a hand is, the more difficult it is for others to guess your intentions.
A pung which would give you a dirty hand is best avoided (see “Avoiding a dirty hand“). Try to make it a rule that you will not pung for a dirty hand. If a dirty hand cannot be avoided, you might be able to get a double from a concealed hand.
It may seem obvious that you would want to kong a tile, should the opportunity arise. However, there are some considerations which may change your mind:
- If it’s a major or honour tile, you would no longer be able to collect the special hand of “All pair honours”.
- If you have no exposed sets, you are forfeiting the chance of a double from having a concealed MJ.