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By Tom Sloper
July 2, 2017

Column #680

American Mah Jongg (2017 NMJL). What would you discard?

1. Don't let those colors confuse you. Whenever you play with a new group, or at a new table, you may encounter a myriad of wondrous variations on the standard mah-jongg set; you have to be flexible, and adapt quickly to the tiles available to you. Let's see; you have collected dots, and until now you didn't have to make a serious decision. You can go Consec (6 tiles towards Consec 1, two ways) . . . or should you look beyond, to other families? Six tiles towards Odds #1, and six tiles towards Evens #s 1 and 6 - that's no help at all! Guess what: you have eleven tiles towards S&P #2. Very long shot, but still your best. It's going to hurt to toss those jokers! Discard F first. It's always best to discard flowers earlier, rather than later. Flowers get hotter with every turn around the table.

2. Same basic situation, but with different tile strengths. Step 1: count your pairs. Got ones, fours, sixes, nines. They don't all work together (they're not "friends"). So check for three pairs that work together. Ones, fours, and nines work together for Thirteens #1; seven tiles, and you have your singles (a 1B will have to go). And of course, S&P #2 should be considered; nine tiles either way (from the ones up or from the nines down). 2B is expendable either way.

3. This one is an obvious all-simples S&P #2, but is there anything else here? Just seven tiles for Consec #1. Stay with S&P. F and 9C can go; discard F first.

4. Nine tiles towards S&P #2, but what else might be here? Ones, twos, sevens, and a soap: 2017 #4 (ten tiles). The disposable tiles are 5D, 6D, 8D, 9D. If one of those seems possibly dangerous (but not definitely dangerous), you have to decide: risk it now, or give up hope of winning (the risk is only going to increase).

5. Threes, fives, sixes, fours. That's a Consec hand for sure. Fits Consec #6, but which way? Should the middle number pairs be fours? or fives? Count: for fours, nine tiles (with two singles needing mates); for fives, seven tiles. 6B, 5C, and 5D are out in the cold.

6. Eights and dragons suggest Evens #5 and LN #1. So count. Evens: seven tiles. LN#1: eight tiles. Now check W-D #6: seven tiles. LN is stronger. The following tiles are on the outs: 2C, 6D, R, and the pair of soaps. Note: for suit tiles, the best time to cast joker bait is shortly after starting the last long wall. For soap, best timing may differ. Use your best judgment about when to discard soap, but know that it might not net a joker.

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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.