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SLOPER ON MAH-JONGG

By Tom Sloper
April 2, 2017

Column #668

American Mah Jongg (2017 NMJL card). The 2017 card is with us! Let's go over it together, shall we? Just the hands that warrant discussion today. From top left...

2017 #2: The parenthetical says "2 or 3 Suits." Players often question how a three-color hand can be made in two or three suits. Well. Here's how:

2017 #3: Three suits. Some may not understand that the 2017 can be any suit; they may think the 2017 has to be made in craks because it's red. Per page 12 of the 2013 rulebook, a "specific color on the card does not specify a particular suit."

Like Numbers: the League unfortunately did not include a parenthetical saying "Any Like Numbers." But consider: if it was intended that these hands be made with ones only, the section name would probably have been "Ones" instead of "Like Numbers."

Like Nos. #2: This is one of two hands on the card that include flower pungs. Whenever you see a player expose a flower pung, you know that player can only be making either Like Nos. #2 or W-D #5.

Quints: gone is the 1123 hand that has confused so many. Gone for now, anyway. It'll surely be back.

Consec. #1: The usual alternate version (with pairs at the ends). Did you ever notice that every blue card since 2009 has the pairs at the ends? But don't count on that pattern continuing; the red 2008 card had them too.

Consec. #2: The most powerful hand on the card is in its usual alternate form (pung-kong-pung-kong), and in its traditional #2 position.

W-D #3, #4: Wind pungs are a "dead" giveaway. By that I mean, expose a wind pung and you're dead (these are concealed hands).

W-D #5: See discussion of Like Nos. #2, above.

S&P #3: some players think that a grouping of unlike tiles is a pung or quint or sextet. 336 is not a pung; it's a pair and a single. 33669 is not a quint; it's two pairs and a single. 336699 is not a sextet; it's three pairs. This section is called "Singles and Pairs," after all.

S&P #7: This is a first (or at least a first in a very long time): the card dictates suits. It was necessary to forbid dots, so that a player would never need four soaps. Making the hand with all four soaps would ratchet up the difficulty so much that it ought to be worth 75 (dots would then be worth more than craks and bams). Lastly, the League could have (should have?) shown GG and RR here, rather than the DDs.


A tip o' the Sloper hat to Ruthless Leslie, who called me out on some misleading wording.


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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 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).

Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.


© 2017 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.