Please click here if you do not see a Nav Frame at left and Header Frame above - you'll need them!


By Tom Sloper

December 23, 2007
Column #345

American Mah-Jongg (2007 NMJL card). In mah-jongg you have to balance the need to build your hand (offense) with the need to keep from giving someone else the win (defense). Let's say you are holding the following:

An opponent is showing the following:

1. The kong of Wh might mean 2007 #5, 2468 #1 or #6, 13579 #3, W-D #4 or #6, or 369 #1. All your probable discards (not counting F 6B 7B) are potentially hot. But with only one exposure showing, there's not a lot of danger. Unless the wall is very short. If it isn't, throw whatever you want and see what happens.

2. Could be any quint hand. Your only worry is 2D, which might be a problem if she's playing Quints #1. The shorter the wall, the higher the danger. If there are three 2Ds dead on the discard floor, you're safe to throw the case tile.

3. If she hasn't erred fatally, there's only one hand she can be making: 369 #1, and she might need your R. If the wall is long, it might be too early to give up now.

4. It's 2468, but which one: #1 or #5? Check the discard floor. If 2B and 2C are dead and she doesn't look upset or resigned, maybe you shouldn't throw 2D.

5. Three possibilities: Consec. #2 or #3, or 13579 #2. 2D is hot for both the Consec. hands, and 1C is hot for Consec. #3. 13579 #2 is not a concern. But you may have to forget about making Lucky 13, unless you luck out and pick the case 3B yourself.

6. Could be odds or Consec. If odds, your 1C is hot.

7. Could be odds or Consec. again. If it's Consec., your 2D is hot.

8. Clearly Consec. #3. Your R is hot.

9. Clearly 2007 #2. Your 2D is hot.

Thanks to sharp-eyed reader Jeanette for spotting a typo in this column!


Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.

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

Haven't ordered the 2007 NMJL card yet? Read FAQ 7i.

Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, can be ordered through 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).

Jay Firestone of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles has posted a nice little video about a young man (himself) learning to play American mah-jongg. You can see it at

© 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.