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By Tom Sloper
December 8, 2013

No. 587

American Mah Jongg (2013 NMJL card). What would you discard?

1. Evens #5 (nine tiles). Discard 8B or 6D; keep 4D as joker bait. As explained in column 423, that's breaking up a pair midway through the game, on the chance that an opponent might call it and expose a joker for you to redeem on your next turn.

2. With this mess, go for numbers (the most numerous hands on the card) and lose a wind now, dragon later. Thinking not needed yet.

3. Consec. #1 and #2: 7 tiles each. The bams look disposable unless you want to consider risking #4, in which case don't throw 2B just yet.

4. Consec. #2 (nine tiles not counting J). Consec. #1 (seven tiles), or Consec #4 (also seven). You don't have any nines for Consec. #1, Consec. #4 is also weak, and Consec. #2 is always a good safe haven. Discard 7D or 8D (save 5B for joker bait).

5. W-D #3: 7. 10 tiles towards S&P #1 but it looks very unlikely. 10 tiles towards W-D #5. Throw 5B or 5C. If no neighboring dots come in, 5D can go out as joker bait.

6. Consec. #4: six tiles (not counting jokers). Like Nos. #2: ten tiles. Throw a seven.

7. It should be clear that 3C is just itching to be discarded. Don't spend any time thinking; get rid of it.

8. Sevens #1 (seven tiles), Consec. #5 (seven), or Like Nos. #1 (six). 7C and 9C are expendable in all cases.

9. Odds #2 or #3 (seven tiles each). Break up 5B now.

10. Evens #4 (nine tiles and jokers). 6D and 8C are expendable.

11. Odds #3 or #4. No-brainer: 4B is superfluous.

12. Six tiles (plus jokers) towards Odds #1, nine towards Odds #4. Odds #4 is clearly much stronger. The third 9C can go now; save 9B for joker bait.

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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.

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