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By Tom Sloper
August 23, 2009

Column #420

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

1. Consec. or 13579 #1; G looks very expendable. It goes with the 1's and 9's to make 13579 #2 but you need F's for that. You will probably be discarding a 1B eventually, too.

2. F is not needed for Consec. #1, #3, or #6.

3. Good for two possible 13579 hands: #3 or #6. Discard R or 0.

4. Working on Elevens, eh? Go with the combinations that have pairs, and forsake all else. Eights and threes: two possibilities with those 8B's (one suit and three suits). One possibility with those 4D's (three suits). Unfortunately, you don't have an 11, but have faith. For now you can discard 1D or 4C.

5. If you want to make 13579 #6 from this, you're short a pair of 9's. Get rid of R and go for 13579 #4.

6. Good material for Consec. #3, and some other stuff. The 6's look expendable.

7. Soap doesn't go with, and 4D and F also can go. Of course, I'm thinking Consec. #6.

8. In view of Consec. #3 with 8's as the pairs, the discardables are 6C, 8C, 7B. You might want to hang onto the 8C, not throw it just yet.

9. Obviously 2468, but which way? You want the one that uses the most pairs. You have 9 tiles towards 2468 #3, and 7 tiles each towards #5 and #7. None of those options require 4C or 8D. If you hang onto 4C a little while longer for joker bait, so throw 8D.

10. The old standby beckons: Consec. #2. 5's and 6's (or 6's and 7's) in craks and 7's and 8's (or 8's and 9's) in bams. That flexibility is what makes Consec. #2 such a powerful hand. Throw 6B; save 4C for joker bait.

11. 13579 #8 doesn't need three 7B's. And you'll probably go with the dots, so the craks can probably go. But for flexibility's sake, just lose 7B now.

A tip of the hat to sharp-eyed readers Lauren and Lowell B.

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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.