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By Tom Sloper
April 26, 2020

Column #738

American Mah Jongg (2020 NMJL card). Charleston exercises. What would you pass on the first right?

1. Following Sloper's Patented* Four Steps, we find three pairs: 5C 6B R. Do they all work together to make a hand on the 2020 card? (In other words, are they "friends"?) Timesaving tip: look at the two number pairs, 5C and 6B. Those two pairs can only work together in Consec, and once you check Consec, it's easy to see there that no hand uses all three pairs. Now you have to determine which two pairs have the most friends. Using the 6B and R pairs together with F and 6D, you have six five tiles for Any Like #2. Not great, but not terrible. I'd pass a wind, a two, and 9B.

2. Four pairs: flowers, 1Bs, Easts, and Souths. They certainly do not all work together, but keep all four pairs for the first pass. Possible Any Like, possible W-D. Try not to break up any pairs just yet (maybe you can use them as joker bait** once the play is underway). Pass 7D 5C R.

3. Flowers, twos, and soaps. Think 2020, Any Like, or Consec #7. Passers: 6C 9D N. This could work out! Don't wait too long to choose a direction.

4. No pairs (not counting the Jokers***). Skip to step #3: there are more highs than lows, so keep highs. The sixes suggest Any Like. W-D #4 is out because it's a three-pair hand and you have none of the pairs. There are more evens than odds. 1D and W can go. You need to pass a third, and 4C will have to do. Your high numbers are numerically not too far from one another, and might turn into a Consec hand.

5. Pung of flowers and pair of ones. Get rid of highs and W to start the passing. You can't always target a family of hands, much less one hand. The first pass is mostly just elimination.

6. Three pairs: threes, twos, fours. Low numbers rule. Pass highs (6C, 7D, 9D). You'll probably find a hand in Consec before too long.

7. Two pairs: flowers and ones. You have mostly low odd numbers. Pass 6D 9C S.

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Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, including official rules not in the outdated official rulebook.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