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By Tom Sloper
October 5, 2008

Column #383

American Mah-Jongg (2008 NMJL card). An opponent has two pungs showing. In each of the following cases, what do you do?

1. Clearly a 369 hand, and clearly there's just one hand in that section it could be: #2. 6D and 9B are hot. If the player jumps on anything else but, she's made a mistake and is dead.

2. She isn't making 2008 #4, because that's a one-suit hand. And she can't be making 2468 #7, because that's a concealed hand. She's dead, no matter what she thinks she's doing. And that's a dead joker, too.

3. Remember, exposures don't need to be in card order. She's working in 2468, and since this can't be #7, she's working on #2. 4D and 8B are hot. By all means, if you can redeem J with 6B, go for it.

4. A quick scan of the 2468 family shows no hand using exposed pungs of 2s and 4s in different suits. So look elsewhere. She's doing Consec. #2, and the hot tiles are 3C 5B.

5. A quick scan of the 2468 family shows no hand using exposed pungs of 2s and 4s in one suit. Looking again to Consec., #1 fits. 1B, 3B, and 5B are all hot. Watch the discard floor for 1B and 5B. If either of them is or becomes triplicated there, then she's dead.

6. With widely-spaced odd numbers, the first place you should look is 13579. But the only hand that has pungs of 5s and 9s is the bottom one, a concealed hand. She's dead, and so is the joker.

7. Definitely 2008 #4. The hot tiles are F 8D Wh. And she needs jokers. Try not to make any exposures with jokers, because that could give her the win.

8. Two possible hands: W-D #6 or 369 #6. The hot tiles are F and G ... and all 3s, 6s, and 9s. Look for triples on the discard floor to get clues.

9. 369, clearly, but what the heck? No such hand. Maybe she thinks she's doing #2 or #5? She's dead.

10. Consecutive numbers means Consec. Runs. She can only be doing #6 -- it's supposed to be concealed.

11. Danger, Wilma Robinson! She's hot on the trail of 369 #5, and the hot tiles are 369C 369D.

12. Can't be 2468 #7, because as we've already discussed, that's a concealed hand. Must be 2008 #4 again. The hot tiles are F and Wh (soap).

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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).

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

© 2008 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.