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By Tom Sloper
August 17, 2014

Column #616

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American Mah Jongg (2014 NMJL card). The Charleston. What would you pass?

1. No joke, a pung of sixes! That has to be the cornerstone for your hand. Not enough 3s and 9s to support 369, and not enough even numbers to support 2468. So think Like Nos. and Consec. Maybe even W-D #5. Passers: S 1B 2B soap; choose three.

2. Again with the sixes. This time 369 is a good option. Don't spin your wheels trying to pick a hand yet (just go for the 369 family); pass 1D, W, 4B (retaining near consecutive numbers for a fallback).

3. Eights, nines, and greens. This time the tiles point to two specific hands (in two different families). Get rid of anything that doesn't fit Like Nos. or Consec. #3 (including those green herrings; they're stinking up the place). For now, pass 1C 4C G.

4. Garbage hand; two jokers, but Quints is a long shot (too long). High numbers outnumber lows; these weakly suggest Consec. #6. Passers are N 1D 2C 3C Wh G; choose three.

5. More garbage; think low Consec., maybe 2014. Pass winds. A problem with passing multiple wind tiles: another player may have a way to use them all. Ideally, you'd want to break them up, but sometimes your other tiles just won't let you.

6. Low Consec.; the passers: winds, R, 7C.

7. High Consec. or Odds; pass winds and 3B.

8. Could go low Consec., or Evens... too bad there are no soaps this time (otherwise could go 2014). Passers: W, S,* sevens.

9. When you get three jokers, look for hands made of pungs, kongs, quints. This one could go low Consec., or Quints #2. Kill the outliers: pass sevens and 1B. Avoid the temptation to go for Consec. #3 unless you get passed a lot of threes.

10. Fives! W-D #4 is not an option (no N or S yet). Think Like Numbers and Odds. Pass W, 2C, and either 8C or 8D.

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:

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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:

© 2014 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.