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By Tom Sloper
May 29, 2016

Column #653

American Mah Jongg (2016 NMJL card). It can be tricky sometimes deciding between hands, and sometimes the mah-jongg goddesses force you to decide "right now," while the other three players are waiting. What would you discard in the following examples?

1. Not a difficult decision. Go for Odds #2, a 2-suit hand. That lone crak has to go. Save 5B for joker bait.

2. Must choose between Consec. #1 and Consec. #6. Count'em up: seven tiles towards Consec. #1 (I don't count jokers, if they can be used in all decision options), and nine towards Consec. #6. Can't call any tiles, since the latter is a concealed hand. For Consec. #1 I'd have to lose three Fs and a 6D. For Consec. #6 I have to lose the 9D pair. When you put it that way, I'd throw 9D and not look back.

3. If you throw a joker, you're waiting for a soap. Why take a chance like that? Force a pair: discard R or G.

4. Not a very good Evens hand. I see Like Numbers, in fours. I'd discard a two or six.

5. The problem with Evens #4 is that if you go with dots for the 2-4 part, you have no pairs. If you go with bams for the 2-4 part, you have to lose sixes. You can delay the decision a little by breaking up 8D right now.

6. Two ways of making Odds #5. One way you don't have your pair, and the other way you don't have enough raw material to go with the jokers. But a simple count puts dots ahead of craks. If you're feeling lucky, throw a crak.

7. If you go Consec. #3, which number for the middle? The craks suggest sevens, but you have no 7Ds. How about Consec. #5 instead? 6-7, 6-7, 8. Throw 8C or 8B.

8. Consec. #2 or Consec. #5 (eight tiles either way). 5D and 6C are not needed, so throw either one.

9. Consec. #1 (seven tiles, with half a pair) or #2 (eight tiles). As usual, Consec. #2 is the better bet. Discard 3D or 4D (save 5D for joker bait).

10. W-D #5 (nine tiles) or Like Numbers #2 (eight). When you count them like I did, this choice becomes obvious; go Winds-Dragons, and discard a six. The biggest problem is the missing N.

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