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By Tom Sloper
April 19, 2009

Column #402

American Mah-Jongg (2009 NMJL card). Once the Charleston has ended, the next major challenge is defense. An opponent is showing two exposures. In each case, what is she doing, and what's your defensive strategy?

1. The only possible family she could be working in is Consec., but no hand in that section uses a pung and a consecutive kong. You should tell her she's dead (you'll get to pick more tiles). If she denies it, she'll owe you a quarter when (after the current hand has played out) she can't prove the existence of such a hand on the card. See FAQ 19AB on my site.

2. She's making Consec. #2, the perennially easiest hand on the card. The dangerous tiles are 2B 5D.

3. Winds-Dragons #3. N and S are dangerous.

4. Only one hand fits these exposures. But it's a concealed hand (bottom of Consec.). Tell her she's dead. You can save her a quarter if you say why.

5. There's only one possibility: Consec. #4. The dangerous tiles are 4B 6B 456D. Check the floor for those dots - if you see any more than two of any of them, she's dead and you're safe.

6. Two possible: Evens #6, Elevens #2. But the 2468 hand is out since she has no joker in the kong (it won't be possible for her to make the "24"). The hot tiles are the ones and sevens in all 3 suits. Check the table for ones, see if there are more than two of any suit.

7. She's doing Odds #6. Hot: R 5D 5B 9D 9B. Need clues? Check the table for those numbers.

8. Odds (#2 or #7). Hot: F, soap, 357C, 357B. Check the table -- you should be able to see one of those numbers dead, then you'll know what not to throw.

9. Only one possible: 369 #4. Check the table for 3C 3B 9C 9B, and don't discard soap.

10. Could be 2009 #3 or W-D #5. Hot: F, twos, nines, soap, NEWS. Any winds dead? How about soap?

11. Either W-D #6 or 369 #6. Hot: F, soap, 369D. As long as those dots and Fs aren't dead, she's dangerous.

A tip of the hat to LBK!

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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 2009 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

© 2009 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.