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By Tom Sloper
April 11, 2010

Column #446

American Mah Jongg (2010 NMJL card). Defense is all about knowing what the other players are doing. Sometimes you can tell a lot from very little information.

1. There are only two hands this player could be making: Like Numbers #2 or 13579 #4. You look for clues in the usual place: what other tiles are visible. If 9B or 9C is dead (more than two visible on the discard floor or on someone else's rack), that tells you a lot. Also look to see if G or R is dead.

2. 2010 #4 is a concealed hand. This player is dead. And you should say so. Some new players can be sensitive about this, but that's their problem. It's to your advantage to remove a dead player from play, so you should do it. And don't ask if she's dead, or try to hint that maybe she's dead; say it outright.

3. She could be doing Like Numbers #2, of course, or any of the first three hands in Consec. Only two of those use pairs, and can be eliminated by looking for pair deaths: Consec. #1 and Like Numbers. Look for G, 0, 5C, and 6C.

4. W-D #5 is a concealed hand. She's dead.

5. A raw beginner who thinks that just because tile symbols are next to one another on the card without intervening spaces, that this is a "kong." Call her dead.

6. Could be W-D #1 or #2. If E or W is dead, she's doing #2. If R is dead, she's doing #1.

7. In addition to the two hands in #6 above, she could be doing W-D #4. Unless S is dead.

8. Only two possibilities: W-D #3, #4. If G is dead, it's #4; if S is dead, #3. Use the same principle for kong of E (substitute R for G).

9. See comment #5 above.

10. She's making 2010 #3. F and 0 are hot.

11. Consec. #6 is a concealed hand; call her dead.

12. Consec. #6 or 13579 #8: both are concealed hands. Call her dead.

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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:

© 2010 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.