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By Tom Sloper
May 16, 2021

Column #746

American Mah Jongg (2021 NMJL card). The Charleston begins. What would you pass?

1. A pung of flowers, and little else to go on. Start by scanning the card looking for FFFF (since there are no flower pungs on this year's card). 2468? Five tiles. Any Like? Nope. Consec? Five tiles. Odds? Five tiles. W-D? Five tiles. 369? Nope. None of those options needs dragons, and 7C can go. I dislike passing dragons in the first pass, but sometimes you have to do things you don't like.

2. Pair of sixes. The joker pair only means "ignore S&P." What goes with the sixes? Not the ones. Pass those, and E as well.

3. Pung of sixes. Pass 1D 0 N. Should be obvious why.

4. Pairs of eights and G. And NEWS. NEWS goes with the dragons (7 tiles towards W-D #7). NEWS can go with the eights (Any Like #1), but that's just 6 tiles. Dragons and eights combine for Any Like #3 (4 tiles) or Consec #8 (6 tiles). The two six-tile hands are inferior to the W-D option, but all three can be preserved momentarily by passing 3C 4B 9B. You don't want to keep three hands going too long; hope something comes in during the Charleston to give one hand a leg up. Heh. "One hand a leg up." How do I come up with these weird word combos? That reminds me - anybody else see this week's 9 Chickweed Lane comic strips? Ahem. Anyway.

5. Fours, ones, and sevens. They don't all go together. The fours can go with the ones for Consec #2 (5 tiles) and #7 (4 tiles), or the .fours can go with the sevens for Consec #2 (5 tiles) or #7 (5 tiles). Y'know what? This is clearly just a Consec hand, and any numbers below 4 can go. You could pass 2D 3D S, or you could pass one of those 1Bs. You can also dump 8C, saving 1Bs for possible joker bait. Take your pick.

6. Pairs of ones and sevens, pung soaps. Ones and soaps go together for 2021 #2 (5 tiles). Same-suit sevens and D work for Any Like (6 tiles), Consec #3 (5 tiles), and Odds #2 (5 tiles). Pass 4B 9B N.

7. Pung flowers, pair eights. Scan the card for FFFF. 2468 #1 (6 tiles), Any Like #2 (6 tiles), Consec #4 (5 tiles). See also Evens #4 (6 tiles), which would waste a flower. Pass 1D G S.

8. Pairs of eights and nines. Clearly we're talking Consec. As soon as you know that, all low numbers move to the passers pile.

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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