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By Tom Sloper
March 31, 2019

Column #715

American Mah Jongg (2019 NMJL card). The 2019 card is now among us. There are 53 hands on the card; 9* are repeats from last year; 20 are repeats from a previous year; 13* are variations on previous hands; 5 are biannual alternating versions, and 6* hands are new (not seen on any card as far back as 2000, which is as far as I checked).

It often happens that a new card has something on it that raises a question, resulting in a flood of emails to me, and phone calls to the League. This year there was an omission that resulted in such a flood, beginning before I had received the card myself. And that is Consec #5 (the 5th hand in Consecutive Runs):

FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25

The problem is that the parenthetical is much shorter than it was on the same hand in previous cards (last year, for instance). Every previous time this hand has appeared, the parenthetical has always said "Any 1 Suit, Any 2 Consec. Nos." This year the absence of the phrase "Any 2 Consec. Nos." prompted a bunch of emails asking, "does it have to be ones and twos only?"

Based on an understanding of the "rules" regarding how the card is to be read, one would assume that the hand must be the numbers shown only (FAQ 19-AJ). But it doesn't say "These Nos. Only."

Based on an understanding of tradition, though, one would assume there was a mistake; that the omission of the phrase "Any 2 Consec. Nos." was an error.

Someone emailed me and told me that several people had called the League and were told that it is indeed an oversight - the hand is supposed to be "Any 2 Consec. Nos." But that's hearsay upon hearsay. At some point, the League will post the answer in writing on its own FAQs page:

Next column: discussion of notable hands.

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

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Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, including official rules not in the outdated official rulebook.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).

© 2019 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.