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By Tom Sloper
September 3, 2017

Column #688

American Mah Jongg (2017 NMJL card). Charleston. Pass three.

1. Just going by tile count, there are eight hands with five tiles each: 2017 #2, #3, #4; Consec #3, #4; Odds #7; S&P #2, #6. But there are six tiles towards S&P #5. Forget S&P #2 and #6. The pair of 5C is a keeper; also, prioritize friends of 5C. Keep 2017 in dots, plus 1C 2C. That leaves precious little for passing. You know my love for Consec #2, so keep 6C. I'm not sold on S&P #5 (just six tiles), so 9C can go, with 6B 9B.

2. There are seven tiles towards S&P #5. But of course S&P hands are really difficult. There are six tiles each towards Odds #7 and S&P #2. Odds #7 is a Concealed hand, but that doesn't mean it's impossible; in fact, four-pungs-and-two-singles hands are pretty easy (which is why the League marked it C). If you really don't like Concealed hands, there are five tiles each towards Consec #1 and #6, and Odds #1, #2, #3, #5, and #6. I would pass W 2D 8B.

3. No pairs; garbage hand. There are seven possible hands, five tiles each. Consec. #7 (concealed), Odds #5 and #7 (the latter a Concealed hand, previously discussed), and four S&P possibles: #1, #2, #5, and #7. Pass three of the lows (whichever ones hurt the least).

4. Three S&P hands with six tiles each. #3, #5, #6. But... S&P!? Alternatively, there are numerous five-tile hands. No soap, and no ones, so don't hold out for 2017 or Thirteens. The pairs (F, 3B) point to Like Numbers, Consec #3 and #5, and 369 #3. Pass 2C and sevens.

5. Flowers, sixes, and fives: Thirteens #2, Consec #3, Odds #4. And there's a seven-tile option, S&P #6 - but you'd have to waste those two jokers. There are a bunch of lesser options too (like Like Numbers and Consec #5). Pass 4D 9D and S.

6. Four six-tile options, all in Thirteens. Anything else you can find has fewer than five tiles (and several of those are Concealed hands). 2C and 3B can go; as for your third passer, take your pick (just not F or 1C or 3C).

7. No pairs. Two five-tile options: Consec #4 and S&P #4. With this kind of garbage, always go Consec. High numbers are prevalent, so pass winds and lows.

8. Those craks! Oh, those craks! Eight tiles towards S&P #2. Consec #1 and #2 are also options, leaving 8C 9C S as the only tiles to pass.

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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 Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook from the NMJL (see FAQ 3).

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