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By Tom Sloper
April 27, 2008

Column #361

American Mah-Jongg (2008 NMJL card). Defense by the numbers. Let's say you're in a game with an opponent who previously exposed a kong of ones. Now she exposes a second kong. It's a kong of number tiles, and it's in a different suit from the first exposure. How many cases are there, and how many of them are valid exposures, and what action should you take?

1. There is no hand on the 2008 card that this could possibly be. You may call her dead. In fact, I recommend you do call her dead (if nobody else does), because one fewer player means 33% more picks for you. Regardless of whether or not any jokers are in her exposures. And only her second exposure is returned to her rack when you call her dead.

2. There's no such hand. Consec. #3 requires that the kongs be in the same suit. And it can't be Consec. #5 because she'd need impossible pairs of negative numbers. She's dead. See #1 above.

3. No such hand. Consec. #4 and 13579 #6 both require that both kongs be of one suit.

4. No such hand.

5. She's definitely making 13579 #4. Whatever you do, don't throw any flowers, even if it means killing your own hand.

6. No such hand.

7. She's definitely making Sevens #1. Flowers and 6B are hot.

8. No such hand.

9. She's dead. 13579 #2 is a one-suit hand.

10. No such hand. It doesn't matter whether the soaps represent zero or are simply other-suit dragons. Either way, there's no hand this could be.

This little analysis applies only to a kong of ones, followed by a kong of other-suit number tiles. And it applies only to the 2008 NMJL card, of course.


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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 2008 NMJL card yet? Read FAQ 7i.

Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book in existence about the American game. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the official rulebook from the NMJL (see FAQ 3).

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

© 2008 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.