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By Tom Sloper
December 3, 2017

Column #692

American Mah Jongg (2017 NMJL card). Dancing is never tiresome. Let's do the Charleston!

1. Following the Four Steps, we note first that there are no pairs whatsoever. Any friendly patterns? Well, check highs vs. lows (7 vs. 7) and odds vs. evens (8 vs. 4; odds win). So, I'd chuck evens in the first right.

2. There's one pair of ones, and it has friends: other ones, low numbers, odds, and dragons. In other words, it has too many friends. Considering everything, though, I prefer Like Nos. #1 (4 tiles, 2 ways) and 2017 #2 (5 tiles). Not much of a start, but at least it's something. As much as I like Consec #2, there are only 3 tiles, albeit 2 ways. This also has 6 tiles towards S&P #s 5 and 7, but that's too far to go (and a waste of 2 jokers). So I'd pass 5C and 9B and a four.

3. The pairs of ones and twos, together with the 3C and 4C, fairly screams Consec #2, the most powerful hand on the card. Another faint possibility is Consec #4 (followed farther behind by Consec #7). I'd pass high numbers and E.

4. Pairs of fours, sevens, and eights. There's no hand that uses all three pairs. The fours are the odd men out, since the sevens and eights have so many friends. The G is a keeper for Consec #7, and the sevens and nines are keepers for Consec #4. Consec #1 is also within range (there are 6 tiles towards all three hands). I'm forced to pass W and the pair of 4B. Yes, passing a pair goes against the grain, but everything else has a use here. If you strongly object to passing the pair, pass one of the fours and one of the sevens or nines with the W.

5. Two pairs: fours and fives. Of course they're Consec friends. There are obvious non-friends: 8D 9D N can go, and you don't have to think beyond that until you see what comes in from your left.

6. Pairs of threes, sixes, and sevens. The three pairs can't all be used in one hand, so it's either 369 #4 or Consec. #4 (6 tiles each). Consec #3 is a possibility (5 tiles, 2 ways). Pass 4D S W.

7. Pairs of twos and eights, and they have even friends. Clearly shoot for 2468, and get rid of anything that's not even. Note that you have 8 tiles towards S&P #4.

8. Pung of fives, with odd friends. If any nearby craks come in, the dragons could go towards Consec #7, but you can pass S 2B 8D for starters.

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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 every player should have a copy of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the National Mah Jongg League (see FAQ 3 for info on mah-jongg books).

Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.

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