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By Tom Sloper
April 1, 2022

Column #753

American Mah Jongg (2022 NMJL card). New card! Let's talk. As usual, some new, some old, some changed. More than half are hands we've seen before. About 1/5 are variations on previous hands. Totally new hands comprise a whopping 27% of the hands.

What's notable this year: exposable dragon pungs, a dragon quint, and a lot of flower pungs. The most expensive hand is usually at the bottom right corner, in S&P, but this year it's at the bottom of the 2022 section. And it's worth even more than usual: 85, due to the extra difficulty of needing three twos in every suit. There's a 2468 hand in Quints (first one we've seen since 2002), and some Consecutive hands in Winds-Dragons.

The perennial most powerful hand on the card is still there, but it has changed. It's in the #5 spot in Consec, and it's even more powerful, since it can be made in 1 or 2 suits. Its cousin hands in 2468 (#3) and 13579 (#3) and 369 (#1) are worth a look, too. 2468 #3 can be made in 2 or 3 suits this year. Odds #3 and 369 #1, though, are their usual 2 suits only. But these hands are "related" because of their similar structure (two pungs, two kongs), which permits misleading dual exposures.

Dragon Pungs: There are five hands with exposable dragon pungs: 2022 #2, Consec #7, Odds #5, W-D #2, and 369 #4. So if you see a dragon pung on someone's rack, you can get clues from additional exposures. If the pung is soaps, of course you'll suspect 2022 #2, which is confirmed with an additional exposure of twos. If the dragon pung is accompanied by a kong of flowers, it's Consec #7. If instead of a flower kong, the dragon pung is up there beside a flower pung, we're talking W-D #2. An exposed pung of sixes could be Consec #7 or 369 #4. A dragon kong: W-D #2. A wind pung or another dragon pung: call her dead (W-D #7 is Concealed).

Flower Pungs and Kongs: Flower pungs in Evens #1 and #6, Any Like #1, Consec #2, Odds #4, W-D #2, and 369 #2. In fact, there are twin flower pungs in Evens #6, Any Like #1, and Consec #2. You know to scan the card for "FFF" to spot the hands, if an opponent exposes one of those. And there are even fewer hands with flower kongs: 2022 #3, Quints #4, Consec #7, and W-D #3. If the kong is accompanied by a pung of twos, it's 2022 #3. If it's accompanied by a pung of any other number, or a dragon pung, it's Consec #7. The only other possibilities are Quints and W-D (they're pretty obvious).


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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