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By Tom Sloper
March 22, 2015

Column #631

...Continued from column 630.

3. High vs. Low. The most powerful section of the card is Consecutive Runs, which is precisely why it's in the center of the card. Consecutive hands are usually just three or four consecutive numbers. Count the high numbers (5-9), count the low numbers (1-5). You can also count the middle numbers (4-6) if you want to be thorough. If you see a large preponderance of highs (for instance), then you can just go for Consecutives, and you know what to pass. Remember: simple elimination.

4. Odd vs. Even. The second most powerful section is Odds (13579, just beneath Consec. on the card). Chances are, you have more odds than evens (there are 5 odd numbers between 1 and 9, and there are only 4 even numbers). But maybe you have more evens. If so, go for Evens; if not, go for Odds.

That's it? After you've gone through the Four Steps, you may have identified a direction. If you have, you can choose three tiles to pass. Or maybe you have identified many possible hands. If so, you can choose three tiles to pass, based on several factors:

After you've been playing for a while, you'll get better at the Charleston. The American game is the hardest form of mah-jongg to learn, and the Charleston is the hardest part of that, so don't beat yourself up. You've got a steep learning curve ahead of you. You have to "pay tuition" for a while, but you'll get there. And remember: the point of the Charleston is elimination.

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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 about the American game, including official rules not included in the official rulebook. 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).

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