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By Tom Sloper

December 24, 2006
Column #298

American Mah-Jongg (2006 NMJL card). Well, it's Christmas. So what if you have Hanukkah candles up, we can have a little Christmas fun with mah-jongg.

Western mah-jongg is a pattern-based variant based on the Asian style of play. One theory is that an early form of Western formed "the missing link" between Chinese Classical and the NMJL game. But enough speculative history. Let's get Christmas-y! As described in Mah Jong, Anyone? by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans, two special hands in the Western game are "Christmas Cheer" and "Christmas Eve." This one's "Christmas Cheer"...

222 555 GGG RRR 00 (Any 2 and 5 same suit).

"Christmas Eve" is a little trickier - instead of twos, the first pung can be any "green bam" pung (2, 3, 4, 6, or 8) and instead of fives, the second pung can be any "red bam" pung (1, 5, 7, or 9).

You may be wondering why I mention anything about this non-NMJL variant? Well, because this idea of playing Christmas hands can be used during this holiday week by anyone who wants to spice up the game, even NMJL players. If you play a 4-pung hand such as the two above, with jokers, the hand must be concealed else it'd be too easy. Value: 30.

Here are some other possibilities for some Christmas-y hands, using 12 (December), 25 (the 25th), and of course Green, Red, and White.

Pairs 1's and 2's in 1st suit; pungs 2's and 5's in 2nd suit; 2 and 6 in 3rd suit. Exposed. Value: 30.

Exposed. Value: 30.

Pungs any dragons, any suit. Exposed. Value: 30

Pair any dragon. Singles And Pairs - value 50.

Singles And Pairs - value 50.

Turn the W's upside down and they become M's. Turn the 3B's upside down and they look like Y's. See, it says "Merry 25"... Sort of. (^_^) Any 2 and 5 same suit. Concealed, value 35.


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Buy the book! Column author Tom Sloper wrote a new strategy chapter for the "Western-style mah jong" book "MAH JONG, ANYONE?" By Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans. Order it now at!

Question about this column? See an error? Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

Haven't ordered the 2006 NMJL card yet? Read FAQ 7i.

Need rules for American mah-jongg? Go to AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the booklet from the NMJL (see FAQ 3).

© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.