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By Tom Sloper
April 12, 2015

Column #634

American Mah Jongg (2015 NMJL card). Charleston. It can't always be about the Charleston, but it's the part of the game most folks struggle with. I promise to get to defense with the new card soon. In working these, use the four steps from column 630.

1. Two friendly pairs: 5D 7D, with many high friends. W and 4C will go, but you need a third tile to pass. You must decide between Consec. and Odds, so count odds vs. evens (hint: odds win). See the bottom Odds hand, and pass an even, say 6B.

2. One pair: eights. It has a lot of even friends, so zoom in on Evens, and pick a hand by counting. You have six tiles (not counting jokers) for hand #1 and #6, five for #s 2, 3, and 5. Evens #4 is no good. I shouldn't tell you, but I immediately saw #1 and #6 for this (I counted them all just for you). Dots and bams are out in the cold; choose three to pass.

3. Fives and nines and flowers fairly scream Odds #5 (and Odds #1, of course). Expendable: 8C 7D 7B N. If you want to hang onto 8C for a possible Consec. #1, that's understandable.

4. Eights in two suits, and a pair of twos. Like Nos. or Evens (not enough friends to point to a hand, though). Dump odds and S.

5. Flowers and ones and nines suggest Odds #3, but there's no soap. Odds family, don't you agree? Passing 4D 9D 7C leaves one Like Nos. option open.

6. Flowers, eights, and ones. They are not all mutually friendly. So, which two pairs have the most friends? Flowers and eights point to Like Numbers. Flowers and ones, though, look rather friendless. Pass low numbers (don't pass all threes at once). No matter what you pass, it's too "pretty" a pass, but offense outweighs defense during this phase of the game.

7. Those flowers cannot be ignored. What's friends with them? Pair of threes, and many low numbers. See Consec. #2 (although that wastes a flower), and Odds #5. You can safely pass 7D 2C 3B.*

8. If you go 2015 #1, you already have eight tiles. That's a bit better than the seven tiles you have for W-D #2 and W-D #5, but all are good options. You can pass R G 6D and wait to see what other tiles come your way.

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Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, including official rules not included in the official rulebook. 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).

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