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By Tom Sloper
May 20, 2018

Column #705

American Mah Jongg (2018 NMJL card). Charleston exercises.

1. No pairs, so we jump ahead to steps 3 and 4: highs vs. lows, and odds vs. evens. There are six evens, and three odds (all nines). There are six highs, and only three lows. So forget Odds, and think maybe Evens, Any Like, Consec, 369. Too much to think about; this needs to go quickly (slow Charlestons are bad: people get confused, and mistakes can happen). The winds can go (perhaps not both at once). To keep things simple, I'd get rid of lows and wind, keeping Any Like (nines and dragons) and high numbers. If you spend a lot of time thinking about it, you might come up with something better.

2. A pair of eights. Step 2: look for friends of the eights (evens and highs). Hanging onto those leaves 1D 3D S as obvious passers. No need to spend a lot of time thinking beyond that.

3. Two pairs: ones and twos in dots, so: maybe Consec, or maybe 2018. That makes it simple: 7D and E can go, and... hmm... 6B.

4. Three pairs: fours, sevens, and eights. You can't use all three. Fours and eights suggest Evens or Twelves, but poorly. Sevens and eights suggest Consec, of course. Consec #1 is a long shot, without any 6C. But 579 (Odds #2) has two ways to go. Pass 4B W G.

5. Two pairs: fours and fives in two suits. That's a lot of low numbers. Weed out N 8D 9D and see what happens.

6. Three pairs: sevens, threes, and sixes. I see possibilities for 369 and Consec; I'd pass S W 7C.

7. Two pairs: twos and eights in two suits. In this case, the eights don't fit with everything else (low numbers). Consec is the most powerful section on the card. To focus the strength of your tiles, you can pass outliers (in this case, ones and nines, called "terminals" in the mah-jongg world). 1D 1C 9B can go.

8. A pung of fives and a pair of nines; this fairly screams Odds. Pass S and evens.

9. Three pairs: fives, nines, and N. I don't know about you, but Any Like and W-D #5 jump out at me. The sixes may suggest 369 but without enough ammo. I'd ditch the sixes and R.

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