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


By Tom Sloper
October 12, 2008

Column #384

American Mah-Jongg (2008 NMJL card). Ever wished you could get into the heads of all four players while they did the Charleston? Let's try it. Here's the deal:

Esther: The odd numbers indicated 13579 #4. Right: 4B 8C E, got 4B 1C 1D. Across: 3B 4B Wh, got 4D G E. First left: passed 4D 7D G, got Wh G 3B. Nobody stopped the Charleston. Second left: passed E Wh 3B, got 4B 3B Wh. Now she pined for 13579 #3. Across: 4B G Wh, got 4C 4D 1B. Working two hands now. Right: 4C 4D, blind passed (3C), got 4B 9B. The 9B was a keeper. All she had to offer Wes was 4B; Wes traded her 9C for it.

Nora: Consec., high numbers. She considered 369, but not for long. First right: E G 2C, got 4B 8C E. Across: 3C 4B E, got 5B 4C G. First left: Wh G 3B, got 3B 4B Wh. Second left: 3B 4B Wh, got 3C 4B 9B. She quickly chose 3C and 4B to go across, but the third tile in the second across is often a quandary. She saw Consec. #5 as an option, so let go of 9B. Got 3B 8C Wh. Last right: 7D 9C Wh, got 3C 4C 4D. A new option: 2468. For the across, she offered Ms. South two tiles: 3B 3C, getting 4B Wh in return.

Wesley: Broad options: 13579, Sevens (hoped for 6C). Right: E 9C 8B, got E G 2C. Across: 4D G E, got 3B 4B Wh. First left: 3B 4B Wh, got 4B 9B 3C. Second left: 4B 9B 3C, got 4C 4D 7D. That darned second across will getcha every time! The only ones he wanted to pass were 4C 4D, but since he'd never gotten 6C he threw in 1B too. Got 4B G Wh. Last right: 4B G Wh, got 7D 9C Wh. Esther only wanted one tile, so he gave 9C, got 4B.

Ms. South: A bad deal. She puzzled and puzzled; the other players cleared their throats. She decided Consec., high numbers. Right: 1C 4B 1D, got 8B 9C E. Hanging on to the easiest hand on the card (Consec. #2) she also kept winds, thinking W-D #3 with eights. Across: 4C 5B G, got 3C 4B E. First left: 4B 9B 3C, got 4D 7D G. Second left: 4C 4D 7D, got 3B E Wh. Across: 3B, Wh, and... 8C, got 4B 9B 3C. Last right: 4B 9B 3C, got 4B G Wh. Nora only offered two, so she passed 4B Wh, got 3B 3C. She realized with horror that she'd given away the 8 and now didn't have W-D #5 as an option. Then she saw W-D #3.


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).

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.