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By Tom Sloper
May 25, 2008

Column #365

American Mah-Jongg (2008 NMJL card). Defense by the numbers, part 3. An opponent had previously exposed a kong of threes. Now she exposes a second kong. It's a kong of number tiles, and it's not in the same suit as the first kong. In each of the ten possible cases (illustrated below), what should you do? And how long would it take you to realize it?

1. There's no such hand. Sorry to say, she is dead. But hey, don't be sorry. Just tell her: "you're dead." But don't do it like Homer Simpson or Nelson Muntz would, of course.

2. She so dead.

3. Nope, she dead.

4. Dead again!

5. Two possibilities. She might be making Consec. #2 (in which case 2C and 4B are hot), or she might be making 13579 #3 (in which case 1C and 3B are hot).

6. She must be making 369 #1, and nothing else. You shouldn't discard the hot tiles: F, 9B.*

7. Sevens #3. Don't discard F or 4D.*

8. She's toast!

9. She's doing 369 #1 again. Don't throw F or 6B.*

10. No such hand, zero or dragon. She be dead.

*Note: when I say you "shouldn't discard" a hot tile, I'm speaking in general terms. Generally (usually), you are more than one tile away from mah-jongg. And generally, your opponent showing these exposures is waiting for mah-jongg now. But if you're just one tile away from mah-jongg, and your only discardable tile is a hot tile, you have to weigh your options and decide whether or not you want to risk it. It's a gamble you get to decide whether to take or not, as I told the lady who asked on Friday, May 9 on my Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board. And hey, isn't that what mah-jongg is all about? You takes your chances, and therein lies the fun. Clint Eastwood said, "Do you feel lucky, punk?" (Note: he put it that way - not me.)


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 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.