|By Tom Sloper
April 21, 2019
American Mah Jongg (2019 NMJL card). Fourth and final part of my analysis of the 2019 card. There are arguably three mistakes on this card:
Now let's take a look at defense. When a player is showing two exposures, you can often tell what hand she is making.
If a player exposes two pungs, the following are the only hands she can be making: 2019 #1, #2; Evens #1, #2, #5; Consec #1, #2, #6; Odds #1, #2, #4; W-D #6, 369 #1, #2, #3, #5. - Fewer than one-third of the hands available on the card.
If a player is showing one pung and one kong, she can only be making the exact same hands listed in the paragraph above, or Quints #1. - Just over one third of the 53 hands on the card.
If a player is showing two kongs, she can only be making one of the following hands: 2019 #2, #3; Evens #2, #3, #4; Any Like #1; Addition #1, #2, #3; Consec #2, #3, #4, #5; Odds #2, #3, #5, #6; W-D #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6; 369 #2, #3, #4. - That's 49%, almost half the hands on the card.
I always refer to Consec #2 as "the most powerful hand on the card" because of its flexibility, its lack of pairs (and thus the ability to use jokers anywhere in the hand), and its traditional ability to mislead players into thinking you're making a different hand. But this year the ability to mislead is reduced somewhat by a change in the card's design. Consec #2 is a four-number hand, with two different-suit pungs separated by just one number and two different-suit kongs separated by just one number. Other hands where Consec #2 can mislead are: Addition #2 (two different-suit kongs one number apart), Quints #1 (consecutive same-suit pung and kong), Consec #3 (two different-suit kongs one number apart), Odds #2 (two different-suit pungs or kongs one number apart), 369 #3 (pung of sixes and different-suit kong of nines: two numbers apart). There is no hand in Evens that can be confused with Consec #2 this year.
To finish up, a couple of random observations:
W-D #2 is easier than it looks: two kongs and six singles. Compare to 2019 #3: two kongs, a pair, and four singles. But don't go for these unless you have most of the singles in the Charleston.
W-D #4 and #5 look difficult since they have three pairs, but one pair is flowers. Because there are eight flowers in the deck, flower pairs are twice easy as any other pair. So it's kind of like just two-and-a-half pairs. (But how many times have you tried to make a flower-pair hand and the second flower would never come?) (Yeah, me too.)
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Join Johni Levene's popular Facebook group, "Mah Jongg, That's It!" for lively conversations about American mah-jongg and all things mah-jongg.
Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.
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 outdated official rulebook. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND every player should have a copy of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the National Mah Jongg League (see FAQ 3 for info on mah-jongg books).
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