It worked! I won at Taj Mahal last night by a 5 point margin. I followed yesterday's posting pretty much to the letter - dropping out of the first round to pick up three cards gave me an advantage in cards and elephants which lasted well into the middle game. Whenever I had the opportunity to fold with a win in elephants I did so immediately, even if it meant picking up no palaces at all. This meant I was often getting what I wanted from a province for only one or two cards. By about the eighth round I had built up a good points lead, and Keith Les and especially Trevor woke up to the need to give me some competition in the elephants bidding. By that time my hand was shrinking although I had picked up the extremely useful purple special card. I didn't get much from the last few rounds but my lead was just too big for Trevor to catch me up. Over the whole game I picked up 6 province tiles plus one small jewels tile. I don't expect to be allowed to get away with the same strategy next time we play.
One part of my plan that didn't come off was picking up the +2 special card. The courtesan in the yellow dress didn't favour me even once. She was too busy with Les and Keith.....