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By Tom Sloper
June 21, 2009

Column #411

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

1. S&P #4, although there are 10 tiles in that direction, is too far away (no 5D's or 7C's ). There are just seven tiles and one measly joker towards Quints #4; I don't go for quints unless I'm more joker-rich than that. Doesn't look bad for 13579 #1; I'd throw 5B or 7B.

2. This has been keeping Consec. #4 and the 2468 family options open. Without soaps, the Consec. hand isn't looking good. Too early to target a specific 2468 hand; why not start getting rid of nines and see what might happen.

3. Six tiles towards W-D #3. (I usually don't count the jokers when counting towards a hand.) Not enough N and S. Eight tiles towards W-D #5. I'd start throwing the fives.

4. It's Elevens #1, but which way? Craks equal bams, but in bams you already have the pair. I'd throw 1C. Dots might come in; 3C could still be useful.

5. Could be 2468 #6 (8 tiles) or #7 (8 tiles). If you want to preserve #2 as well, keep 2B. If you want to preserve #5, keep 6D. S&P is possible too. All things considered, 2C and 4C are looking pretty expendable.

6. Consec. #1 or #6. There are 10 tiles (three discards) towards the latter, and only eight tiles (five discards) towards the former. Go for the latter. Throw 6D or 9D.

7. This was trying to weigh Elevens #2 with something in Consec., but the latter isn't working. The eights can go.

8. 369 #4 with reds: six tiles. With green: seven. #2 with dots and craks: six tiles. #3: eight tiles. #6: six tiles. 369 #3 would seem to look best, but there's a pair missing (6D). You need those for the dragons hand too. Too confusing; gotta think fast. I'd throw 9D (it's too distant from those threes).

9. Sixes are a problem again. 369 #3: seven tiles. #4: nine tiles (either way). #6: seven (and no flowers). I'd go for the dragon in the middle and throw 3B.

10. Discard 2C and you're waiting for soap. 2009 #4.

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Where to order the yearly NMJL card: 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.