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By Tom Sloper
May 21, 2017

Column #675

American Mah Jongg (2017 NMJL card). You've been playing multiple options, but you've reached a crux. What would you discard?

1. Consec #2 (8 tiles, not counting joker) and Consec #4 (9 tiles but missing a key tile). F is not needed for either of those hands, and it's a hot potato getting hotter. F is, however, one of seven tiles towards Consec #3 (the lowest tile count of the three options). Unless you have a positive clue that someone needs F, the sooner you throw it the better.

2. You've been toying with Thirteens #3 (9 tiles, 1D key) and Consec #1 (10 tiles, 5D 9D keys) and Consec #5 (8 tiles, soap key). For each of your hands, you're missing keys. See any on the discard floor, or exposed on someone's rack? Consec #1 is the riskiest (even though you have 10 tiles) since you need two key tiles. Consec #5 is the weakest, so discard soap. (Of course, the mah-jongg goddesses will then hand you a soap with your next pick. But they surely would have messed with you no matter what decision you made.)

3. Evens #1 (7 tiles), #2 (8 tiles), #6 (9 tiles but a concealed hand missing a key F). #1 is the weakest choice countwise, but there's no tile you can discard that's unique to it. #6 being concealed lessens the value of its tilecount lead; its missing F is not a particular problem (since there are 8 Fs and since you have to rely on picking anyway) unless more than one opponent is using Fs. The easiest/laziest answer is to go with the concealed hand (trust fate and don't worry about calling). The safest answer is to go with Evens #2 (it doesn't need any keys, and is one tile closer to mahj than #1). If your brain hurts, discard a bam (save 6B for joker bait if you're not halfway through the wall yet). If you're concealed-averse and the wall isn't short, discard F (see caveat in problem 1).

4. Consec #2 vs. 369 #2. They're even (9 tiles each, and neither hand needs keys). To go Consec, you'd discard 6D or 9C (killing 369). To go 369, you'd discard 4D 5C or 6C (killing Consec). For 369 you have to complete two kongs. For Consec you have to complete only one; Consec leads by a hair. Discard 6D or 9C.

5. W-D #1 (6 tiles), #3 (5 tiles), #4 (5 tiles), and #5 (6 tiles two ways). Throw any number.

6. 2017 (many possibles) or Like Nos. #1. The best 2017 option with these is #3 (8 tiles, needing a key 2C). LN #1 is 8 tiles. You can preserve both options by discarding 1C or R.

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Join Johni Levene's popular Facebook group, "Mah Jongg, That's It!" for lively conversations about American mah-jongg and all things mah-jongg.

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 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.

© 2017 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.