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By Tom Sloper
May 2, 2021

Column #744

American Mah Jongg (2021 NMJL card). The dance music has begun; it's the Charleston! What would you pass?

1. There's a pair of ones. Are there other tiles that support the pair? Yes; you can work low Consec, low Odds, or Any Like (all those ones). Without any twos, Odds looks more likely than Consec. Pass fours and eight. Did you see how I used the four steps there?

2. A pair of nines. And it has too many friends to make a snap decision; have to count the options. W-D #2 has 5 tiles; Any Like #3 seemed like an option at first glance, but it's only 4 tiles. Dragon options in Odds (#2 and #4) are pitiful, and the same for 369 (#2, #5). The dragons are not working out, so one of them can go (G). Pass 2C G 6D, and hope something good comes in, because this is a mess.

3. Speaking of messes - no pair of anything. Count highs vs. lows, without counting fives since you'd have to count those twice. Lows: 4. Highs: 6. For the fun of it, count evens vs. odds (count the fives this time). Evens: 6. Odds: 6. Go for highs. Pass any three from 1C 1D 2B 4B. Why not keep 4B for possible Middles (I usually think highs and lows, but there are more middle numbers here, and the four might work with the fives and sixes).

4. Two pairs: sevens and greens. Where on the card can they go together? Any Like #3 (5+J), Consec #8 (5+J), Odds #4 (5+J). Evens #7 doesn't use the sevens and it's also 5+J. It's pretty pitiful all around. You can pass 2C 8D W.

5. One pair: nines. It has obvious high friends, so keep those. Pass 2D 4D 3C.

6. Two pairs: nines and norths. They go together: W-D #2 (6 tiles). How many friends are there for just the nines? Just the norths? The tiles are not with us. Pass lows (3C 4C 4B).

7. Fours and nines don't go together, and the nines are much stronger. You can pass from 4D 1B 4B N S as you choose. I wouldn't pass both fours at once, nor both N and S.

8. Fives and sixes and flowers. Consec can use all three pairs (6+J towards #5; we'll need 4C or 7C and/or more jokers). If you want to hang onto those dragons, you can pass 1D 3B 3C. But dragons don't always turn into something.

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!

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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