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By Tom Sloper
April 24, 2022

Column #756

American Mah Jongg (2022 NMJL card). Charleston exercises with the 2022 card. What would you pass?

1. Step one: scan for pairs. Nines and wests don't go together, so which one has the most friends? If you try to preserve winds and 369 both, you have just one passer (2B). You have to dig into the specific hands. Seven tiles for W-D #4 (but will have to waste a W), and only five tiles for 369 #6 (but need a flower pair). Go W-D, pass a bam, a west, and G.

2. Three pairs: threes, sixes, sevens. The 6-7 combo is stronger (more friends). Pass a dot, a crak, and a dragon. Which dragon? Either Wh or R; make it R because of Wh's potential value (to an opponent) as a zero.

3. No pairs, but a preponderance of high numbers. Pass lows and W. Without any pairs, Quints is a long shot (too long).

4. Only one pair: twos. Unfortunately, it has precious few friends. Keep all evens. Pass winds and a high odd. I'm thinking Consec #3, 1-2-3, with Evens as backup.

5. Two pairs: ones and twos. I'm not targeting a specific hand when I say think Consec. Pass highs and N. That approach works for Quints #3, too.

6. Pairs of flowers and nines. Scan Any Like, Odds, and 369 looking for flower hands. You can pass evens and you'll be just fine for those families.

7. You could go 2022 with this, but is that the best choice? All those sixes suggest Any Like Numbers, or Evens #4. Pass winds and an odd. If you prefer Consec, you could pass a low instead of an odd.

8. One pair: S. Those single sevens could work for W-D #4. You could pass any numbers other than seven. Not a great deal, though.

9. Pairs of threes and nines suggest 369. Before you pass willy-nilly, consider that there are more highs than lows, so you could pass 2D, 5C, and W. Remember that the Charleston is mostly about elimination. It's rare that the mah-jongg goddesses deal you an obvious hand right from the get-go.


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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