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
December 25, 2016

Column #662

American Mah Jongg (2016 NMJL card). Watched It's A Wonderful Life again last night. Buffalo gals came out and danced the Charleston, and perhaps our continuing dance from last week could result in "a very interesting situation!" Our foursome's situation after first across:

1.3. Following the four steps, we have only one pair: reds. The problem with dragon pairs is that they can sometimes lead you astray, especially with the paucity of dragon hands on the 2016 card. Player 1 was entertaining three options (Like Numbers #2, 369 #1, Consecutive Runs #4), each using the dragon pair. Three options is too many. Count! Like Numbers: four tiles (not counting the joker); 369: five tiles; Consec.: five tiles. Two strikes against Like Numbers: fewest tiles, and it's a concealed hand. There are 2 ways to go for the Consec. hand: 2B 3C 4B RR, and 3D 4C 5D RR. That leaves three passers: 2C 6D W. Say "first left."

2.3. Only pair: flowers. High numbers is all player 2's got; pass W N and a low number, like 2D. "First left."

3.3. Another player whose only pair is dragons; in this case, G. As noted above, dragon pairs may not do anything. Consec. #4? There's 4B 5C GG (just four tiles). How about Odds #4? 5C 7C GG (just four tiles). 2016? There's a 2016 in craks (four tiles), without any friends. Like Numbers #2? 6D Wh GG 6C (five tiles, but a closed hand). There's junk here: S 1C 2C.

4.3. Two pairs: threes. Like Numbers #1, or 369, or odds. Too many choices. Since the strength is threes, keep low numbers (something player 4 had not considered in the first two passes). Pass N 8C, and blind pass one (only to preserve lows and 369s).

1.4. Consec. #4's two options give you flexibility; 369 #1 is still a reasonable option. Make a pyramid of 2D W N and say "second left."

2.4. High numbers with (still) no direction. Say "second left," and pass lows: S 1C 2C (keeping a 369 option).

3.4. Regretting passing 2C and 1C last time (could have gone for a 2016 hand with winds). Winds are going around, and those Gs aren't doing anything. Total shift: pass G G 4B and say "second left."

4.4. Stay with 3s, 6s, 9s. Pass 1D 4B 2C. "Second left."

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.