American Mah Jongg (2022 NMJL card). Defense - what to do when you see these exposed atop someone's rack?
1. Pungs of eights. What is this? Evens #8? Call her dead? (Evens #8 is a concealed hand.) Well, before you make that leap, keep scanning the card for like-number pungs. Could be Any Like #2, so better not call her dead. In fact, don't stop scanning the card, because it might not just be dragons and eights you have to be wary of. Sure enough, there's another possibility: Consec #4. Her hot tiles are soap, red, green, 8B, 7D and 7C. You don't have to worry about Consec #8. That's another concealed hand, so if that's what she's doing, she can't win on anything you might discard. Furthermore, those dragons, and 7D and 7C, are key tiles. If you see soap or red dead on the table, you can stop worrying about Any Like #2 (she can't make that hand). If you see 7D or 7C dead on the table, you can eliminate Consec #4 from your worries. Of course, if both Any Like #2 and Consec # 4 are both dead, you can call her dead.
2. A pung of flowers doesn't tell you a lot by itself on this card. Scan the left side of all the hands on the card, and you'll see numerous flower pungs. Too many. You just have to wait for another clue.
3. Got another clue. The kong of fives narrows the possibilities down to Any Like #1 and Consec #2. The hot tiles are flowers and fours, fives, and sixes in the other two suits.
4. Pung of soaps. Surely 2022 #2... or any other exposable dragon pung on the card. Could also be Consec #7, Odds #5, W-D #2, or 369 #4. Gonna need more clues.
5. Pung of ones, and a pung of threes in another suit. So it's not Odds. Has to be Consec... but wait, the only possibility is Consec #8. Call her dead. (Unless you play at one of those tables that uses a weird "don't say dead" table rule, I suppose.)
6. A flower pung and a pung of sixes. He could be making Evens #1. Evens in bams are hot. But wait, keep checking. What about 369 #2? Threes and nines are also hot. 2B and 4B are key tiles; if either one is dead on the table, you can focus on 369.
7. Opposite pungs of twos. Could be 2022 #3... or Any Like #2, or Consec #4. Snap quiz: what's hot, and what are some key tiles you should look for?
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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