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By Tom Sloper
April 21, 2019

Column #718

American Mah Jongg (2019 NMJL card). Fourth and final part of my analysis of the 2019 card. There are arguably three mistakes on this card:

  1. 2019 #4: Should be only one color since it's a one-suit hand. The back of the card says " 1 color - any 1 suit; 2 colors - any 2 suits." There is no good reason for this hand to be shown in two colors. Although the parenthetical trumps the color-coding, it can cause confusion.
  2. Quints #2: Should be only one color since it's a one-suit hand. Same reasoning as above.
  3. Consec #5: Parenthetical should say "Any 2 Consec. Nos." Undoubtedly just an oversight in the proofreading process.

Now let's take a look at defense. When a player is showing two exposures, you can often tell what hand she is making.

I always refer to Consec #2 as "the most powerful hand on the card" because of its flexibility, its lack of pairs (and thus the ability to use jokers anywhere in the hand), and its traditional ability to mislead players into thinking you're making a different hand. But this year the ability to mislead is reduced somewhat by a change in the card's design. Consec #2 is a four-number hand, with two different-suit pungs separated by just one number and two different-suit kongs separated by just one number. Other hands where Consec #2 can mislead are: Addition #2 (two different-suit kongs one number apart), Quints #1 (consecutive same-suit pung and kong), Consec #3 (two different-suit kongs one number apart), Odds #2 (two different-suit pungs or kongs one number apart), 369 #3 (pung of sixes and different-suit kong of nines: two numbers apart). There is no hand in Evens that can be confused with Consec #2 this year.

To finish up, a couple of random observations:

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Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, including official rules not in the outdated official rulebook.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