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By Tom Sloper
September 1, 2013

No. #577

American Mah Jongg (2013 NMJL card). Charleston, the initial deal. What would you pass?

1. Garbage: low, high; even, odd; winds, dragons. A couple of strategies you can apply to a garbage deal: You can count highs vs. lows and evens vs. odds, and pass the minority. In this case, lows greatly outnumber highs, so you could go for Consec. And there are many more evens than odds here, so high odds can go. Another strategy would be to get rid of tiles that aren't widely used, like winds and dragons. With this hand, you could pass a wind (not both at once), G, and 7D.

2. Pair of ones, and pair of flowers - could go Consec., Odds, 2013, Sevens, or Like Nos. With these tiles, Consec. and Odds look best. I'd get rid of highs and evens. Pass 9D 6D and 5C.

3. Ones and fives, with lots of odds. I'd keep the 2D for possible Consec. #1, and I'd keep the flower for now; pass 9C 9B E. Remember, the first pass is often just elimination (not narrow targeting).

4. Pair 3Ds and 4Cs. Think Consec., pass high numbers and winds. Translation: pass N 7C 7B.

5. Flowers and eights. Think Evens, Like Nos., and Consec. (especially #3 or #5). Problem is: no other eights, no dragons, but things can change. Pass 3B, E, and 5D.

6. The twos suggest Evens, especially with all those other evens in the mix. Why not just pass 1C 5C and either wind for starters. Again, just eliminating stuff that doesn't fit (not targeting a specific hand yet).

7. A surplus of pairs: the ones and Fs and Ns and Gs cannot all be used. Four pairs can't be used, and no hand can use three of them, either. Look for the likeliest two-pair combo, and of course think W-D #2 (eight tiles) and #3 (five tiles). Besides those, there's also Like Nos. (five tiles). You can't preserve all three possibilities, so kill the weakest ones. Pass 1D 1C 5B.

8. Fs and fives: Odds or Consec. Ignore Consec. #3 in red; too weak. Pass twos and E, or E, R, and a two.

9. Pairs threes and nines: clearly 369 (no-brainer). Pass anything that isn't a 3, 6, or 9; keep soap, too.

A tip o' the Sloperama hat to sharp-eyed reader Stephani L.!

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Question or comment about this column? I often, um... intentionally... "miss" something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it! Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

Column 577

> From: "lindaz...
> Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:12 AM
> Subject: column # 577, Sept 1
> Hi Tom,
> On problem # 4, I would have considered 7 Hands ( 4's and 3's). There are 5 tiles toward the hand and the Charleston has not started. I would have passed N, White, 6B and saved any 3's, 4's, or 7's. I'd appreciate your comments, please.
> Thank you, Linda

4. Pair 3Ds and 4Cs. Think Consec., pass high numbers and winds. Translation: pass N 7C 7B.

That sounds good too, Linda.
May the tiles be with you.
Tom Sloper

Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
Los Angeles, California, USA
October 17, 2013

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