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By Tom Sloper
June 4, 2017

Column #677

American Mah Jongg (2017 NMJL card). Dance the Charleston!

1. The four steps aren't the end-all and be-all strategy, but they're a start. Pairs of nines and W; are they friends (do they go together to make a hand)? Not in W-D, but they could in S&P, with the help of 9D and those other winds. Another possibility is 369, of course. Count: eight tiles towards S&P #1, and only six towards the 369 family. Yes, S&P is hard, and you don't have all your pairs, and you'd have to sacrifice a joker, but you get the gusto only if you go for it. Put winds and nines to the left, then put everything else to the right of the joker, then choose three to pass.

2. Threes, sixes, and sevens. They aren't all friends (no hand can use all three pairs). Which two pairs are the chummiest? Threes and sixes can make Consec #2, with 5B (five tiles) - or 369 #3, with 9C (again, five tiles). Sixes and sevens can make Consec #5, with G (and again, five tiles). Not exciting, but even keeping all those options, you have four you can pass (2D 3C R and soap). Pass three of those.

3. No pairs. See any obvious friends? Other than those craks, which aren't chummy enough for my taste, nothing jumps out at me (maybe you see something I don't). Highs vs. lows, then: six high, three low. Odds vs. evens: three odds, five evens. I like highs and evens; get rid of 3C W and soap.

4. Pair of twos, with even and low friends. The misfits are 5D 9B N S. Pass three.

5. Ones and twos are friends, but without much backup. The heck with it - call this lows, and kick out highs.

6. Nines, hmm? High odds, or maybe 369. Move 4D and 2C out, and let G go along with'em.

7. Twos and sixes. And check out those other sixes. Like Numbers, perhaps? Gonna need flowers, but nothing ventured, you know. E and N can go, and 5C.

8. Windy pair of S. More winds are bound to blow in before the dance is finished. Keep the sevens and let other numbers go.

9. Threes and nines suggest 369. And those bams and craks look good together, leaving 2D and the dragons and W out in the cold. Remember: the Charleston is a time for elimination, not lengthy cogitation.

A tip o' the Sloper hat to Kathryn Z, who spotted a typo that's now been fixed.

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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 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.

© 2017 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.