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By Tom Sloper
December 21, 2014

Column #625

American Mah Jongg (2014 NMJL card). What would you pass? There is no right answer. I am suggesting a way of dealing with the novice player's biggest challenge, the Charleston, in four steps: (1) pairs; (2) friends; (3) high vs. low; (4) odd vs. even.

1. A pung of flowers, and little else to go on. Look for a hand that uses flowers. Nothing here points to Like Numbers, or Consec. #5, or Addition. Perhaps W-D #6, though, or Odds #3. Pass craks and winds.

2. Pairs of sixes and jokers. Any friends for the sixes? Yes: high numbers. Pass ones and E. Note: for now I'm keeping dragons (for Consec. #7).

3. There's a 2014 in there, and a pung of sixes. They don't go together, so which one has the most friends? Not 2014. This looks very much like an Evens hand. Pass odds and N. Let soap go only after it's definitely superfluous.

4. Pairs of eights and greens. Could make Evens #5, but 2C will be needed. Then again, look at all those single winds; suggest anything? Not really: S&P #1 would need more of those, and eights in the other two suits. It's not uncommon to see a lot of winds going around in the Charleston, though, so it might not be a bad idea to hang onto them for now. Pass 3C 4B 9B.

5. Three pairs: fours, ones, and sevens. Would be the makings of Addition #1, but for the fact that this is two suits, and Addition #1 needs to be three suits or one suit. Can't use all three pairs, so which two are best friends? The ones and fours need 7C and F; the ones and sevens need 4B and F. The fours and sevens need a pair of 1C, and pairs are hard. Those same fours and sevens, however, could be a start for Consec. #2, the most powerful hand on the card. Keep evens, pass 3D 5C S.

6. Ones, sevens, and soaps. Nothing uses all three. Ones and sevens suggest Addition #1. Ones and soaps suggest Odds #6. Passing pool: 2B 4B G N.

7. Flowers and eights. Looks like Like Numbers with eights. Passing pool: 1D 4B 2C G S. Don't be too quick to kong 8C; pairs are hard to make.

8. Eights and nines point to high Consec. Keep high numbers, and soap (Consec. #5). Keep 1B, 1C, and R for possible Odds #6. Pass 2D 5D 4B.

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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. Hit me with your best shot! Like this...

Column 625

>From: Deborah A
>Sent: Monday, December 22, 2014 9:42 AM
>Subject: Question 1, Column #625
>Hi Tom:
>I am wondering why you wouldn't consider W-D #3 as you have 6 tiles towards making this hand (FFF, E, W, G) and keep the winds. You could still pass the craks. I look forward to your explanation.
>Deborah A

I missed that one, Deborah. Good catch.
May the tiles be with you.
Tom Sloper
湯姆 斯洛珀
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
December 22, 2014

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