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By Tom Sloper
November 15, 2015*

Column #645

American Mah Jongg (2015 NMJL card). Shall we dance? How would you Charleston with these deals?

1. Following "the four steps," we first note that this has two pairs; W and 3C. Then we look to see if those are friends with one another; no, they aren't. In fact, the Ws don't have any friends here. So we look to see what's friends with the threes - and that's most of the tiles. The nine could be friends with the threes for a 369 hand, but there are no sixes, so push that tile over to the right of the joker. Pass 9C W and soap.

2. Three pairs: F 9D and N. Are they all friends? No. N and 9D are friends for W-D #3, but you'd need some Souths (and more 9Ds). The Ns and Fs are friends for W-D #2, but that's a lonely little mini-clique. As usual, winds are not much help. How about friends of Fs and 9Ds? The 3D (369 #4 and #5), the 1D (Odds #3), and 7B 8C (Consec. #2). That leaves 4B and 6C free to go on their merry way. Pass 4B 6C N.

3. Two pairs: eights and ones. They are not friends with one another, so which one has the most friends? You can do some rearranging if necessary, but make it quick. I tried but it's ugly, friends-wise. So compare highs (7 tiles) versus lows (5 tiles), odds (6 tiles) versus evens (5 tiles). Take the high road; pass 2C 1B 4B, breaking up the 1Bs to simplify things.

4. Two pairs: threes and sixes. Could go 369 or Consec., so pass 4C W 8D. Easy choice on this one.

5. No pairs, and almost all low numbers. Consec., or maybe low Odds. Odds #6 is tempting, but with two jokers and a 5-pair hand, the mah-jongg gods are sure to get stingy on you (I'm just saying, don't go for a 5-pair hand when you are joker-rich). I'm drawn to the 2D 3D 4C 5C combo, for Consec. #5 - so keep all tiles between 2 and 5; pass 1D 1C 6B.

6. Look at those dots, will ya. Makes you think S&P #2, doesn't it? What the heck; pass craks and winds. You can always switch to Consec. #1.

7. Three pairs: 7B 8C 9B, which fairly screams Consec. #4 (but for some Reds!). It's a strong beginning. 5B and 8D can go; keep F for Consec. #2; add 6C to the pass (retaining a potential Odds #2).

8. One pair: 7D. What's friends with 7D here? Think Odds (not Sevens) and Consec., so keep near numbers. Pass 2B and a three and a dragon, your pick.

* Note: this column was supposed to go online on November 15, but due to a webhost migration that locked me out of my website, it didn't go online until November 17.

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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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