To view nav frame at left and columns list above, click here.
 To display only this frame and view this column full-screen, touch here.


By Tom Sloper
November 13, 2016

Column #660

American Mah Jongg (2016 NMJL card). Defend!

1. She's doing Like Numbers #1. The hot tiles are 6B and 6C. There's a pair in the hand, so look for three or more discards of 6B or 6C; if you see three of either of those key tiles go dead on the table, you know which one she has to use for the pair. If both are dead, you can call her dead. I know: there are people who think it's "not nice" to call a player dead, but hey -- mah-jongg players are grownups, right?

2. The only family where this combo could exist this year is Consec. She's making hand #2, the most powerful hand on the card. Her hot tiles are 3C and 4B.

3. Two possibilities with this one: Like Numbers #1 and Odds #5. The hot tiles are 1B 1D 3C 5C. The Ones are key tiles (as discussed in the first problem above), and 3C is also key. If you see a threesome dead on the floor, her possibilities become limited, thus your defense is simpler.

4. Two possibilities: 2016 #2 and W-D #1. South is key; if it's dead on the table, she can't make W-D #1 so you can defend against 2016 instead. 2016 is harder to defend against, with three suits. Look for dead soaps.

5. Elevens #1, right? Or Like Numbers #1, or 2016 #4. Ones and 6B are key; if any of those go dead on the table, her possibilities are limited, which makes it easier for you to figure out what she's doing.

6. No, she hasn't made a mistake. She's making 369 #5, and the hot tiles are threes, sixes, and nines in the other suits (with sixes being key tiles).

7. She's making Odds #5, or Like Nos. #1, or Elevens #1. Ones, sevens, and nines are key tiles.

8. This must be Odds #...? No, she's making Consec. #3. Sixes are hot, and they're key tiles.

9. Not 369, not Odds. She could be making Like Numbers #1 or Elevens #2. Think about what her key tiles are.

10. She was doing fine when she exposed that pung of soaps. But then she killed herself when she exposed the kong of sevens. No such hand! Call her dead (as discussed in the first problem above).

A tip o' the hat to sharp-eyed readers Daphne S., Bee G., Pam W., John H., and Kathryn Z.!

To read more columns, Click the entries in the header frame, above. Can't see header frame because you're viewing this column in full screen? Tap  this icon to see the list of columns with nav frames. Anytime you want to get rid of nav frames, you can just tap a  mobile icon.

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!

If you appreciate the free information on this site, your donation would be gratefully accepted,
and would help keep this site running as a free service. Thank you!


See Tom Sloper's interview at

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 in the outdated 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).

Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.

© 2016 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.