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By Tom Sloper
July 5, 2009

Column #413

American Mah Jongg (2009 NMJL card). Joker redemption quiz. In each of the following, I show your hand plus a tile that you picked OR a tile that someone discarded (marked P or D respectively). What would you do if there's an exposure of E with one J, like this:

1. Redeem E and say "mahj!" It's self-pick, so everybody owes you double.

2. You cannot call 3B. If you do call it, you'll have a pung of 3B, which is not what Consec. #1 needs (it needs a kong), and then you'd need to change your hand. Next time you've picked from the wall, you should redeem E.

3. Discard E. Everybody will tear their hair out and scream "Oh! I wanted that!" Enjoy the drama.

4. Tear your hair out and scream "Oh! I wanted that!" since you can never take a discard for redemption purposes. Actually, this screaming thing would be poor strategy. Ever hear of a "poker face"? It's not only a song but good mah jongg strategy too.

5. Say "mahj!" The discarder thought she was discarding a safe tile. 99% of the time, she'd be right, but in this case, you got REAL lucky.

6. Discard J and enjoy the ensuing drama. Or you could discard G or R if you want to be subterfuginous.

7. Redeem E and say "mahj!" It's self-pick, so everybody owes you double.

8. Call 3D and discard E. You're waiting for 1C for mahj. And don't listen to any "Yelda" who tries to say you can't kong 3D without a natural. FAQ 19L.

9. Redeem E and say "mahj!" It's self-pick, so everybody owes you double. If a "Yelda" tells you your 3B pung is no good, tell her you're playing by the official rules, not whatever rules she has in her head.

10. After your next pick, redeem E. You can't call R on a concealed hand. Shoulda redeemed sooner.

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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.

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.