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By Tom Sloper
April 10, 2022

Column #754

American Mah Jongg (2022 NMJL card). Charleston exercises with the new 2022 card.

1. No pairs to start with, so look for a preponderance of highs vs. lows, odds vs. evens (column 725, Sloper's so-called "Four Steps" strategy). Highs clearly outnumber lows. Pass 1B 3B 3C, holding onto R because it's potentially useful for Consec or Like Numbers.

2. Pair of eights. And it has even-number friends. Those winds don't look useful, so pass 1D, either odd crak, and either wind. Remember: the Charleston is mostly about eliminating chaff.

3. 2022 is not too far-fetched, but you'd waste the 3B pair. There are a lot of low numbers, so go for low Consec. The dragons could be useful. Just pass everything higher than 5.

4. Pair 6B. What's friends with 6B? Evens are out (there's only one 4 and one 8). 369 is feasible, but if you try to preserve all 369 options and near-neighbor numbers, you don't have anything to pass but 4B and Wh. I'd rather focus on the most powerful family (Consec). Pass 3D 4B Wh.

5. Two pairs: 9B and 7D, which suggest Odds. The fours don't work. In the one Odds hand that can use dragons, the dragons have to match the number suit. That leaves Wh to pass along with the fours.

6. Pair of ones, with several same-suit near neighbor numbers. And high odds in a second suit. Those dots suggest Consec #1, or Odds #1. Those craks go with those dots for Odds #1 ... or Odds #7. You can pass 4D and 9B and W, or you don't even need to pass any numbers if you don't want to. You could pass dragons instead, not that it's a great idea to pass two at once.

7. Pair of ones and dragons in opposite suits. Those can work in Any Like, or Consec #4. If you want to go for Consec #1, you can keep the craks and pass 3B 4B 8B. You don't need that soap, but I don't like passing those a lot.

8. Pair of 5D. I see the perennial most powerful hand (Consec #5) as a good place to start. Choose any three passers from 1D 2D 9D 1B 4B 7B. It's legal to pass a flower, but is it a good idea, when you don't have to?


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.

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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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