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


By Tom Sloper
August 2, 2009

Column #417

American Mah Jongg (2009 NMJL card). What would you pass? Don't think too long, keep the Charleston moving!

1. The nines and fives scream 13579. But only one pair of nines can be used unless you go for S&P. I'd think seriously about S&P, pass F 4B 1D.

2. Pair soaps, more evens than odds. I'd think 2009, 2468, W/D. Can pass 4C 9B 6D without messing those ideas up. Just process of elimination for now.

3. Pairs twos, eights, no jokers. I'd think S&P and of course 2468. Pass 5B 9B 7C.

4. Ones and fives. 3D and 8D can go, along with W.

5. Lotta bams, but one of'em's gotta go. evens outnumber odds, and highs outnumber lows, so low odds can go. Pass 1D G and either 1B or 3B. Don't kill 369 just yet, so make it 1B.

6. Pair twos. High odds can go (preserving 2468 and Consec.). Pass S and a high odd bam and a high odd dot.

7. Pair sixes. Looks good for Consec. (the ever-reliable Consec. #2 for one) but not 2468. Maybe 369. Pass the bams and 1D.

8. Pair nines. Think Consec., 13579. Anything else can go. 2C, 2D, and... 5B.

9. Consecutive pairs. Go Consec. for sure. Pass N, 1B, 4D.

10. Go W/D, pass any three odds (bams/dots).

11. Pung twos, good Consec. fodder. Pass G 9C and either 6C or 8C (foregoing 2468 options).

12. Pair fives and odds. R, 4B, and winds can go.

13. Believe it or not, this would be awesome in some other forms of mah jongg. Flip a coin, pick a suit to lose. Or play the odds, pass evens and dragons. (There are more odds than evens in the deck.)

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.

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.