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By Tom Sloper
May 1, 2011

Column #486

American Mah Jongg (2011 NMJL card). What would you pass?

1. Pair 1s, 8s, Es. 8s and Es go together for W-D #4. 1s could make Like #s with the dragons. Trying to keep both options open leaves 7C, 3B, 4D to pass. 7D stays for its consec. potential.

2. When you have garbage, check highs vs. lows and odds vs. evens. Lotta highs here; get rid of 2s and N.

3. Pairs Fs and 6s. Think Consec. #4 (helper tiles: 5D, soap) and 369 #1 (with soap's help). That leaves 1C 2B 3B to pass (keep 8D for possible Evens #7).

4. Pair 8s. Immediately you can get rid of winds and 3C. No hand yet, just eliminating junk.

5. Pair Es with no friends. Highs and lows are evenly matched; more odds than evens, and don't ignore 369. Pass an E and any two of 8C, 2D, 4D.

6. Four sets: 2s, 8s, 9s, and reds, but they don't all go together. Try combinations with twos first. No good; the 2-8-D hand is one suit this year. But the 8s, 9s, and Rs look good for Consec. #2. Start breaking up the 2B pung, pass 2B 3D 4C. Yes, that's good for Consec. #5 but you can't worry about defense on the first pass when you have such a clear direction.

7. Nines and loose winds. S and N go towards Honors #3, so pass E from any two of 2C, 2D, 4D. If you prefer, keep E and pass those low evens.

8. Pair 1s with lots of low number friends. Go for Consec., pass W, G, and any 6 or 7.

9. Pairs 1s, 4s. Go Consec. for sure, pass 6D 8D S.

10. I hate when I have 2s and 9s and the card doesn't have an Elevens family. The 9s have more friends than the 2s, so pass 2C 3D W.

11. Fs and 8s. Think Evens, Consec., S&P. Pass 3C, 1B, and 1D or 3D.

12. 3s, 5s, and S. Keep low odds, winds. Pass any 3 of these: 7C 8C 6D soap R.

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Question or comment about this column? I often miss something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it! Please be gentle. Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

October 2010 article on American mah jongg's rise in popularity, from the WALL STREET JOURNAL: ?mod=WSJ_hpp_RIGHTTopCarousel_2.
There's a movie of the WSJ story too -- just click the Video tab on the above page, or go to ?mod=WSJ_hpp_RIGHTTopCarousel_2#articleTabs%3Dvideo.

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:

© 2011 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.