|By Tom Sloper
March 30, 2014
American Mah Jongg (2014 NMJL card). The new card is here. A thing that jumped out at me was an inconsistency in hand structure across sections (a deviation from a tradition of cross-section structural consistency). What I mean by "structure" is the pattern of group sizes that make up a hand, without regard to the numbers or designs on the tile faces. But this is a complex matter involving defensive strategy, so I'll get into that next week. This week, let's just take a leisurely stroll through the new garden of hands.
2014 #2 - this hand contains the new card's only exposable dragon pung. If someone exposes a pung of white dragons, it's a dead giveaway that she can only make this hand. A pung of any other dragon (red or green) calls for a death challenge.
2468 #6 - four pungs and a pair would be extremely easy to make, so the League required this hand to be concealed. Same for Consec. #7. But check out 369 #5.
Like Numbers - the dragon hand is not present in this section this year. In general, dragons are used more on the card this year than last year.
Addition Hands - this is a new thing. In the past several years, addition hands have added up to either seven or eleven. This year the section could still rightly be called "Sevens," but the hands add up to eleven, twelve, or thirteen. I've long thought that thirteens would make a good family, and I've long wanted to see an "8 + 3" hand or a "9 + 2" hand (since those are numbers that the League never puts together). Also, note that Addition #3 is nearly identical to Consec. #5 this year.
Quints - that oh-so-confusing three-number run hand (Quints #1 in the 2013 card) is gone this year.
Consec. #1 - as per tradition, the League has alternated the structure of this hand. Rather than needing pairs of ones and fives (or fives and nines), the hand puts the two pairs at the beginning of the run. But now I'm getting into next week's topic!
13579 - last year's card had an unusually placed five-number hand (#5), but this year the only five-number hands are in the more traditional first and last positions in the section. All the other hands in this section are three-number hands.
Winds-Dragons - this year there are no exposable wind pungs on the card. If anyone exposes a wind pung, you can rightly call her deadAnd this year the twin number pungs requiring at least two jokers are in 369 instead of Winds-Dragons.
Next week: impact on defensive strategy.
A tip o' the hat to Nancey C. and Catherine H.!
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Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book in existence about the American game. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the official rulebook from the NMJL (see FAQ 3). Linda Fisher's website is the only website that describes American rules: http://sites.google.com/site/mahjrules/.
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