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By Tom Sloper
September 30, 2018

Column #709

American Mah Jongg (2018 NMJL card). The Charleston begins. What would you pass?

1. Two pairs, twos and fours, with even friends in bams. You've got six tiles each for Evens #1, #2, and #4 at least. Oh, and there are seven tiles towards S&P #2. The problem with S&P #2 is you're going to need matching even pairs in dots and craks, plus a pair of flowers. I wouldn't go for S&P with this. But you can ditch odds to go for Evens.

2. Two pairs, nines and sevens. They suggest Odds, but consider also highs vs. lows. You've got a preponderance of high numbers, so Consec is not to be dismissed lightly as you ponder your first pass. I'd pass 1B 4C S.

3. Just one pair, eights. Step two: what's friends with eights? Not 1D (just five tiles towards Addition #2), and E is a sore thumb. Need one more tile to pass. Keep G for Any Like... Focus on the left pane of the card. 5D can complete your pass.

4. Four pairs! But are they all friends with one another? Not a chance! The fours and ones can collude in Consec only, but without any friends. The fours and nines don't go together anywhere. The dragons go with any number; they can go with the ones for 2018 #1, 2, and 4 (only five tiles each), or Any Like #3 (again: only five tiles). The ones and nines go together only in Odds #1 (only four tiles). Step three: highs vs. lows: six lows, five highs. Step four: odds vs. evens: six to four. When in need of a direction, a general rule of thumb is head into the center of the card... as long as you also look at S&P. Stifle the gasps of apprehension, and look at it. Specifically, S&P #4 (six tiles). To go for that, you can pass 3C 8C S (keeping bams in case more come in). But if you prefer not to go S&P, break up the nines, and pass 3C with either 6D or 7D.

5. No pairs. Odds easily outweigh evens, but before ditching any evens, consider Consec. A general rule of thumb is head into the center of the suits; turns out you have mid-to-low numbers for a Consec option. You can also think S&P #3 or 4, maybe even #1 since winds get passed a lot in the Charleston. The S&P option leaves 2C 4D R to pass. And that works great for Odds anyway. If you're thinking Any Like fives, you'd want to keep R, but that hand is too farfetched.

6. Ones and greens in the same suit. Consec #3, Any Like #3, and S&P #4 use both pairs. But no friends anywhere! The greens are more versatile than the ones. Check out Consec #6. Four junk tiles: 3D 8B 4C 6C.

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Question or comment about this column? I often, um... intentionally... "miss" something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it! Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board. If you want your full name to appear, let me know in a short sentence in the email (I'll omit that sentence when posting). Hit me with your best shot! Like this...

Column 709, puzzle #1

>From: Joanne
>Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 8:45 AM
>Subject: Re: Column 709
>Hi Tom,
>On example #1, I would also keep the 3D and the White dragon for a 2222 333 4444 DDD hand. You have as many tiles for that as for the even bams hand with no pairs needed and only pungs of 3s and Ds.
>MJ on,
>Joanne C

That's excellent, Joanne! And so, to preserve that option, the Charleston pass should be chosen from 1D, 5D, 7D, E (keeping 3C in case a Red might come in, increasing the options). I'll append this to the column.
May the tiles be with you.
Tom Sloper
湯姆 斯洛珀
Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
Los Angeles, California, USA
November 7, 2018 7:30 PM

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