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By Tom Sloper
July 19, 2015

Column #640

American Mah Jongg (2015 NMJL card). Charleston. What would you pass? Use the Four Steps strategy. I'd add a fifth step (before the four steps, so call it step zero): count jokers. If you have 3 or more jokers, consider quints. If you have no jokers, consider S&P. You could consider S&P if you have one joker, too, but don't spend a lot of time looking there.

1. The sole joker says "forget Quints." The tiles don't suggest S&P. The pairs suggest Odds #3 (6 tiles, not counting the joker). Other friends are 9C and 9D, suggesting Like Nos. as a fallback; 8B is friends with the 9Bs. Pass 4B 6B 4D.

2. The two pairs suggest W-D #3, but there aren't enough friends, so forget N. The low numbers aren't friendly enough with the fives; pass N 2B 1D.

3. Highs outnumber lows. Pass 1C 1D 4D. Note that I didn't spend any time thinking about pairs and friends; there are no pairs, so I just jumped straight to step three. The Charleston must move along quickly!

4. Those three jokers say Quints is an option, especially Quints #2. Lose G soap 8D. Consec. is an option too.

5. What's friends with 4B? Near numbers and evens - and maybe E and W. You can pass 1D 7B 9B.

6. What's friends with 1B? Lows, sixes, sevens, 9C, soap, F. That leaves us with three to pass: 9B E W.

7. What's friends with 4C? A lot of these tiles, actually. But you know W and N can go, and then you only need one more. Make it 1B.

8. Fives and eights suggest Consec. #5 but there are no friends for that one. So what's friends with the fives? All the other craks. And what's friends with the eights? 9D soap F and both the bams. This might turn into one of those "two different hands" scenarios, but you can pass 4B 6B 9C.

9. That pair of 3C is your key here, not W. Keep low numbers. Pass three from 6B 7B E W.

10. The sevens and eights are strong friends. Think Consec. or Like Numbers. Low numbers and G are passable: the pool is 2C 3B 3D 4D soap.

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