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By Tom Sloper
April 7, 2019

Column #716

American Mah Jongg (2019 NMJL card). When I look at a new NMJL card, I look for certain things: dragon pungs, and (these days) flower pungs, and recurring patterns. On several past cards, dragon pungs have been "dead giveaways," because they were used only in Concealed hands. The 2018 card (last year's) contained seven dragon pung hands, while the 2019 card contains six. Four of the seven were eXposable last year, and this year just three are. If someone exposes a dragon pung, you know she can be making one of only three hands.

If she shows a flower pung in addition to the dragon pung, she is making Consec #5 or W-D #6. If instead her additional exposure is a number kong, she is making 369 #3 or Consec #5. If her second exposure is a pung of sixes, you know she's making 369 #3.

Flower pungs are easy to make, and this is the second year of pungalicious flowers. If someone exposes a flower pung, you know she's making one of only three hands.

Not many clues needed to figure out what she's doing.

I also look for "four pungs and a pair" hands, as Concealed hands at the bottom of card sections. "Four pungs and a pair" is the easiest pattern to make in American mah-jongg. "Four pungs and two singles" is actually a little easier, but it's basically the same as four pungs and a pair.

Don't be intimidated; these Concealed hands are actually not too difficult to make.

As usual, we have the biannual "pung-kong, pung-kong" shape for Evens #2, Consec #2, Odds #2, and 369 #2.

This collection of hands works well together strategically, allowing a player to fool opponents into thinking she's making one of the others (as frequently described in these strategy columns).

Next week: I'll discuss the positive changes in the left pane of the back of the card, and more analysis.

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Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, including official rules not in the outdated official rulebook.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

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