|By Tom Sloper
April 13, 2014
American Mah Jongg (2014 NMJL card). Defense by the numbers with the new card. An opponent is showing two pungs. What do you do?
1. Two possible hands: Consec. #2 and Odds #2. Hot tiles are 2C 3C 4D 5D.
2. This is Evens #4. The hot tiles are sixes and eights in the other two suits.
3. The hand is clear, but the hot tiles are tricky. It's 369 #5. The hot tiles are 3C 6C 9C and 3D 6D 9D. Sixes are key. What I mean by that is that the sixes have to be paired, and that can limit her chances (and focus your defense). When an opponent's exposures reveal a key like this, you can look for clues on the table. Look at exposures and discards. If you see more than two 6Cs or 6Ds, you know she can't make the hand the one way, and can only make it the other. Then you can adjust your defensive strategy.
4. This is a concealed hand (W-D #5). You should call her dead. Calling a player dead gives you two things: you get more chances to pick a good tile from the wall, and if she denies the death challenge, she'll owe you 25¢ (the penalty for playing after erroneously denying a death challenge). In fact, if she'd exposed the Wests first, you could have called her dead right then and there (no need to see any other exposures).
5. She's making Consec. #6. As with #3 above, you can look for clues; if 5C or 6C or 5B or 6B is dead (that is to say, if you can see more than two of either tile), then she can only be making the hand the other way, and you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
6. She's confused. There's no such hand. Call her dead.
7. This is 2014 #2. The hot tiles are ones and fours in the other two suits (dots and craks). The hand can be made either way.
8. This is 369 #5, and as in #3 above, 6B and 6C are key.
9. This can only be Odds #7, a concealed hand. Call her dead.
10. Consec. #2. The hot tiles are 4D and 6B.
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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. Like this...
> From: Daphne S
> Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2014 6:49 PM
> Subject: #3 in your latest post
> Hello Tom-
> I really enjoy your blog and learned most of my MJ strategy from it. Couldn't problem #3 in your latest post be the 369 hand #6- a closed hand? Call her dead?
Hi, Daphne. You wrote:
Couldn't problem #3 ... be the 369 hand #6- a closed hand?
Yes, it could.
Call her dead?
Absolutely not. She could also be making the hand I said she could (369 #5), which is not a concealed hand. If sixes in both suits are dead*, THEN you could call her dead, because if the sixes are dead, she can't make the exposed hand. It doesn't matter which hand she's trying to make, at this point. If the sixes aren't dead, then her hand is possibly valid, and it would be a mistake to call her dead.
* (What I mean by "dead" is explained in the column.)
May the tiles be with you.
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
April 13, 2014
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 in existence about the American game. 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). Linda Fisher's website is the only website that describes American rules: http://sites.google.com/site/mahjrules/.
© 2014 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.