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By Tom Sloper
October 4, 2009

Column #426

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

1. Obvious and easy. Throw 4D and you have a three-way wait for Consec. #6.

2. Two hands: W-D #3 and W-D #5. In this case, #5 is closer (5 discards, versus 8 discards for #3). Discard the fives before discarding duplicate winds. You never know, you might pick more winds and want to change to another hand.

3. 2468 #5 and S&P #3 both are targetable with this. For the S&P hand, the pairs might be twos, fours, or sixes (not eights). Throw 8B.

4. This one doesn't look so great for Consec. #6, but don't give up on dragons just yet. Consec. #4 is still possible (and no farther away than Consec. #2). The bams are more powerful (flexible) than the craks, so throw G or a crak.

5. Throw 7B; it doesn't work for 369, and it doesn't work for the old reliable standby, Consec. #2.

6. Strike a balancing act between Consec. #1a and Elevens #2a. Your most likely discards are 6C and 8C. If it isn't time for a joker bait ploy yet, throw 8C. I discussed joker bait in column 423.

7. The best bet here is Consec. #3. I'd ignore S&P #4 (too many jokers, not enough odds), and I'd eschew 13579 (no hand on this year's card can utilize all those threes). I'd discard 1C.

8. There's no need to rush into a momentous decision as yet. Just throw F and think more when something useful comes in.

9. 369 #6 needs a 3C pair; 369 #4 needs a 3D pair. Either way, this probably won't be pretty, but throw a bam and see how it goes.

10. The dragons just don't work at all here. If it isn't time yet for joker bait, then start with R, otherwise bye-bye G.

11. You need ones to make Elevens #2, and you've got bupkis. Consec. #2 (7 tiles) or #5 (6 tiles). Throw 8B.

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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). Linda Fisher's website is the only website that describes American rules:

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.