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By Tom Sloper
April 11, 2021

Column #741

American Mah Jongg (2021 NMJL card). Continuing analysis of the 2021 card. This week's topic: defense. In other words, figuring out what your opponent is doing based on their exposure(s).

Dragons - The 2021 card has only two exposable dragon pungs hands: 13579 #2 and 369 #2. The second exposure is crucial if someone has a dragon pung exposed. If they have a kong of nines, you still need more information (could go either way). But any other number will tell the tale. An exposure of threes, fives, sixes, or sevens would unambiguously tell you which hand they're going for.

There are dragon kongs in every family except Quints and S&P. There are only two hands with two exposable dragon kongs: 2468 #7 and Any Like #3.

Flower Quints - Since there are only three flower quints on the card, you know an opponent with a flower quint can only be making Quints #1 or Consec #4 or 369 #4. If a second exposure is a number kong that's not nines, that eliminates 369. If the second exposure is a pung, that eliminates Quints. If the pung is not sixes, it's Consec, and you know what they need.

Two Pungs - There are only 16 hands on the card that use two exposable non-wind pungs. There are 54 hands (line items) on the card, so if you see two number pungs, you can eliminate 2/3 of the hands from your ponderings. Are the two pungs the same number? Could be Any Like #3, of course, but some like number pungs could indicate a hand from elsewhere on the card. If ones: Any Like #3 only. Pungs of ones are a dead giveaway. If twos: 2021 #2, Any Like #3, or Consec #6. If nines: Any Like #3 or 369 #3. Any other number: Any Like #3 or Consec #6. Are her two different-number pung exposures both even numbers? Then she's in either Evens or Consec. Are they both odd? Then she's in either Odds or Consec.

Two Kongs - Two-kong hands are much more common than two-pung hands on the 2021 card. I count 25 hands that contain two or three exposable kongs. Not quite half the hands on the card. If your opponent's kongs are consecutive (and not 1s and 2s), look in Consec. If the kongs are 1s and 2s, could be 2021 #1 or Consec #5. If the kongs are both odd (and not alike), could be Consec or Odds or 369. If the kongs are both even (and not alike), could be Evens or Consec. If they're the same number, could be Any Like #1 or #2, or Consec #7. If they're winds, you know where to look. This simple equation makes it pretty easy to narrow down what the hand is, so you know how to defend.

Consec #2, the great fooler - Let's say an opponent is showing kongs of sixes and eights, in two suits. Looks like 2468 #5, right? Could also be Consec #2 or Consec #5. Or an opponent shows kongs of threes and fives in two suits. Looks like 13579 #3, but could be Consec #2 or Consec #5. Kongs of sevens and nines in two suits could be 13579 #3 or #6, or Consec #2 or #5.

Actually, upon reflection, maybe Consec #2 isn't as great a fooler this year as it has been in years past.


Question or comment about this column? I often, um... intentionally... "miss" something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it! Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board. Hit me with your best shot! Like this...

Join Johni Levene's popular Facebook group, "Mah Jongg, That's It!" for lively conversations about American mah-jongg and all things mah-jongg.

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 - a good thing to have along with the League's 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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