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By Tom Sloper
May 19, 2019

Column #722

American Mah Jongg (2019 NMJL card). An opponent is showing exposures made from discards. What would you do; how would you defend?

1. Obvious evens, so you check 2468, and soon you're sure she's making 2468 #2. There's no other hand she can make with these exposures. Your defense? Don't discard 2B or 8D unless you have reason to believe she isn't ready for them. We call 2B and 8D her "hot tiles."

2. Obvious 369; the hot tiles for 369 #3 are 3C and G. But wait! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, I mean Consec #2. Her other hot tiles are 7B and 8C.

3. Don't bother looking in 2019. In fact, don't bother looking in the left pane of the card. The only dragon pungs on the left pane are all marked C. In the center pane there's only one dragon pung hand, but Consec #5 is a one-suit hand, and your opponent is displaying two suits. In the right pane, the only two exposable dragon pung hands are W-D #6 (which doesn't include numbers) and 369 #3. The 2019 card has been designed in such a way that dragon exposures are unambiguous - they cannot mislead other players. This year's strategy for dragons: "think twice about exposing them." But I digress. She's making 369 #3, and her hot tiles are 6D and 9C.

4. Look for DDDD across the card, and eliminate hands that can't use a pung of differently-suited fours. 2468 #5 is... no good, because 2468 #5 is a one-suit hand. But no other dragon kong hand on the card can use a pung of fours at all, so she's dead. And unless you use a table rule against ever calling anybody dead, you should call her dead.

5. Scan the card for flower pungs (FFF) that can be used with nines. Nothing on the left pane. Nothing on the right pane. Nothing in 13579. The hand is unambiguous: Consec #5. Her hot tiles are 8D and soap.

6. Quint of sixes, so obviously a Quints hand. Could be Quints #1... or Quints #2... or Quints #3... or Quints #4! You need more clues, because at this point her hot tiles are 3C 4C 5C 7C 8C, all winds, dragons, and flowers.

7. What are the odds you considered Odds? But no, this is Consec #6. Her hot tiles are 6D 6B and F. Those sixes are key tiles; if either is dead, she's dead.

8. Odds #2 is obvious. But don't forget Consec #2! Her hot tiles are 1D 3B 2D 4B.

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