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By Tom Sloper
April 10, 2009

Column #405

American Mah Jongg (2009 NMJL card). WWYD? (What would you discard?)

1. This could become Consec. #1 in dots, or something in 13579. The 2B can go.

2. This is clearly headed for Consec. #1 in dots. The five tiles on the left are all disposable.

3. Not good for 369 #6, but could go a couple of ways towards 369 #4 if you get 9D. Throw F.

4. This clearly wants to go 13579, so discard 2C or 4C.

5. 13579 #3 looks very likely with this. First thing to go should be 7C, to keep 13579 #7 open, but without any 7B's, that looks like a very long shot.

6. Even better now for 13579 #3. Too bad there are no G's, else could shoot for Quints #4. 5B can go first.

7. This would be great for Consec. #4, except that the dragons are the wrong suit. Discard soap.

8. Go for Consec. #3, 5-6-7 with pairs of sixes. Throw 5B or 7B or 5D or 7D.

9. Indicating high numbers in 13579. The 1Bs have no support. They should go. The F might be useful.

10. Three hands, and they're all "even." If I go for Consec. #1, I have 5 tiles to discard. If I go for Consec. #4, I have 5 tiles to discard. If I go for Elevens #1, I have 5 tiles to discard. So to decide this, consider pairs. I have my pair for Elevens, but I don't for either Consec. hand (and I don't even have one 5C for Consec. #1). Throw 4C.

11. For 2468 #1, I have 5 tiles to get rid of. For 2468 #3, I have 6 tiles to discard. For 2468 #7, I have 6 tiles to get rid of but the hand is worth 35. If I have to kill an option, the one I'd kill is 2468 #3. But guess what, 2B isn't used by any option. Throw that.

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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.