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By Tom Sloper
December 24, 2017

Column #693

American Mah Jongg (2017 NMJL card). Defense with twos and/or fours, since today is the 24th. I suppose I should have done problems with red and green, but... oh well!

1. Since there are two even sets, look to 2468 first. We don't have to look far, either. There's just one 2468 hand that fits: the second one. A look through Consec turns up nothing. Her hot tiles are sixes and eights in the other two suits. So now you know!

2. Consecutive numbers, so look in Consec. Again: not far: it's the first one, right? Well, maybe. There's also the second one. For the first hand, her hot tiles are ones, fours, and fives in bams. Those ones and fives are key tiles; because she needs pairs of each, she cannot use jokers, and so absolutely must have two ones and two fives. Look for clues on the table: if the one bams or five bams are dead on the table (if you can see three or more one bams or five bams anywhere) then you know she can't make Consec #1. Her hot tiles for Consec #2 are fours and fives in the other suits. Look for clues.

3. Consecutives numbers, but this is not a Consec hand; it's 2017 #1. Her hot tiles are soaps and seven craks, and that's all there is to it.

4. Fours and sixes point first to 2468, of course. And sure enough, Evens #3 fits. But you should never stop once one possible hand is identified - always check Consec too. And, lo and behold: Consec #6 is a possibility. She might need pairs of fives in all suits. Those fives are key; if any five is dead on the table, then she cannot possibly make Consec #6, and Evens #3 is her only hope. So, to sum up all her hot tiles: fives, and 2D and 8D. Final word: 8D is also a key tile. If it's dead, she cannot make Evens #3.

5. Where do we find flower kongs and kongs of maybe-fours on the card? Only two places: Lucky 13 #1 and Consec #5. If she's doing Lucky 13, then the question remains: one suit or three? Do you see any ones or threes dead on the table? Her hot tiles are nines, ones, and threes in all suits, and 3B 5B and G. G is key; are greens dead on the table?

6. Just two Quints hands possible: #1 and #2. Her hot tiles are winds, dragons, and twos in the other two suits.

7. Since there are two even sets, look to 2468 first. Could be Evens #3, in which case her hot tiles are sixes and eights in the other two suits (with 8C as a key tile). But don't overlook Consec: could be #6. Threes are also hot (and they're key tiles, so look for dead threes).

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