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By Tom Sloper
April 18, 2021

Column #742

American Mah Jongg (2021 NMJL card). Charleston exercises with the new card. What would you pass with these random deals?

1. Wow. Three jokers right off! Take care. You don't want to mess this up. The four steps, step #1: identify pairs. You've got ones and threes. Ones and threes absolutely go together (they're "friends," step #2). And they are Low (step #3) and Odd (step #4). So you want to work in the middle of the card. Quints or Consec or Odds. Don't even think about the left pane or the right pane. Ideally, you want to avoid hands with pairs - that's where you can lose despite having all those jokers - but the mah-jongg goddesses do so enjoy messing with us. A lot of deep thought needs to take place so those jokers don't go to waste in a wall game or a loss to someone else.

Surprisingly, nothing in Odds has better odds than those. You can pass E, 8C, and 3B while preserving all three options for this pass.

2. Step 1: you've got a pair of threes. Step 2: it's friends with all low numbers - those sevens can go. And so can N, so now you can stop spinning gears and pass.

3. You have a pair of fives. They're friends with high numbers, five and up. You can pass lows and winds.

4. Pairs of eights. We know that eights are friends with one another. No other evens, but we can go for Any Like Numbers with this. Pass lows in case consecutive numbers come in.

5. The only pair is S. Those numbers are all over the place, and that NWSSGR combo suggests your best direction: W-D #7 (6 tiles +J). There are several 5-tile (+J) hands: W-D #6, 2021 #4, 2468 #7, and Any Like #1. The best pass is 4C 9C 6B, but you've got too many options. Hope more tiles come in and settle a direction.

6. Pairs of twos, sevens, and eights. The sevens-and-eights matchup comes with a sizeable clique of consecutive friends. Twos-and-sevens is a non-starter, and twos-and-eights have no help - no fours or sixes in the mix. You want to keep all high numbers. It's ugly, but you can pass the twos and R.

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 supplement to 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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