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By Tom Sloper
August 16, 2009

Column #419

American Mah Jongg (2009 NMJL card). Defense. When an opponent has these two exposures showing, what's your strategy?

1. 2468 #1. The hot tiles are 4's and 6's in the other two suits, and F. Check the discards and exposures, see if you see more than two of 4B or 6B, or more than six flowers. If you do, then she's dead and you can throw her other tiles with safety.

2. Consec. #2 or #4. The possible hot tiles are 4's, 5's, 6's, and 7's in the other two suits, and R and G. Check the discards and exposures, look for clues. Especially look for 4's and 5's in the other two suits. If you see more than two of either of those 4's or 5's, then you can eliminate one of her possible hands. At the least, it gives you a little more discarding room.

3. W-D of course. #2 or #4. N and S might be hot; you can look for clues on the table. If her hand is #4, then it can be hard to determine what even number she's making. If you can't, then one defense is to play it safe and don't discard evens unless somebody else does.

4. Quints #4. 9D and soap are hot. The pair is always tricky, so look to see if soap might be dead.

5. Could be 2468 #5 or #6, or Consec. #3 If you get 8B, by all means redeem it. If both 8B jokers are redeemed, she might've gone dead. Look for dead 7's too. If all options are live, then the hot tiles are 2's and 4's in craks and dots, 4B, F, and all 7's.

6. Consec. #5. 7B and F are hot.

7. Consec. #1 or 2468 #5. Look to see if 1D or 5D are dead; if so, she's making the 2468 hand. If both options are live, the hot tiles are 1D 3D 5D and 6's and 8's in the other two suits.

8. Consec. #5 again. 4C and F are hot.

9. 2468 #2 or Consec. #3. The hot tiles are 2D 8D and all 7's. Look to see if 8D or any 7's are dead.

10. Consec. #4. The hot tiles are 8's and 9's and dragons in the other two suits. Study the discards and exposures; if 8D 8C 9D or 9C are dead, you know which way the hand goes.

A tip of the hat to sharp-eyed reader Ruth!

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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.