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By Tom Sloper

April 8, 2007
Column #313

American Mah-Jongg (2007 NMJL card). Since there's a new card, it behooves us to analyze it. No joking this week. (^_^) This card has "something old, something new." The Like Numbers family is gone, and Lucky 13 is still with us, unchanged. Personally, I don't care for 13s - I miss the 11s. We still have sextettes - two hands (in 2007 and 2468). Flowers are still used rather sparsely, especially in the middle pane of the card. Gone is the "confusing" quint hand with the sequential singles and pair. And gone as well is the "confusing" backwards 987 hand in Singles And Pairs.

Notably, the first hands in Consecutive Run and 13579 have the two pairs as the first two numbers, rather than shaping the hand as a "pyramid" (with the two pairs acting as bookends).

This means a change in the strategy for choosing whether to target these hands, as well as a change in the defensive strategy. Interestingly, this single-suit 2-2-3-3-4 pattern is absent from the 2468 and 369 families.

One pattern that repeats more widely is the pung-pung kong-kong pattern evident in the second hand in the number families (Consecutive Run, 2468, 13579, and 369). Interestingly, the kong-kong part of each of those hands consists of a single suit. It's a departure from the recent trend for these hands (traditionally the easiest hands on the card) to be two-suit hands rather than three-suit hands. Perhaps that'll make them a little harder to make.

The 2007 card contains an increased usage of dragons, including a number of exposed pungs. It's no longer the case that when you see an exposed dragon pung you can call the player dead.

Very noteworthy is the increased use of dragons in the Winds - Dragons family. Especially the bottom hand, which uses all three dragons with just two winds. And it's an X hand! Expect to see this one a lot.


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© 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.