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By Tom Sloper
May 8, 2011

Column #487

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

1. Which way to go? Consec. or Odds? Let me count the ways. Seven tiles towards Consec. #1 (craks), seven tiles towards Consec. #3 (craks and dots), six tiles towards Odds #2 (craks and dots). Consec. wins. Discard the sore thumb bam.

2. No dragons, so Like Numbers is too distant. Best bet with all those nines seems to be 369 #5. 3D looks expendable (never know, there might yet be dragons).

3. Don't need to think too hard. 1C and White are the sore thumbs here.

4. Don't throw bams (see 2468 #6); don't throw 2C (2468 #2). Throw 6C.

5. What a mess! Not 369, not S&P. Not Like Numbers. All that's left is Consec. (with no clear hand in that family). Get rid of 6D and see what (if anything) comes in.

6. No-brainer; throw F and you're almost there (waiting for S or J for 2011 #4).

7. You're five tiles away from S&P #4, four tiles away from Evens #1, and three tiles away from Evens #3. So unless you're a compulsive gambler, throw 8D.

8. Another mess! Again, what is this not? It's not 369 #4, nor Like Numbers. But it could turn into 369 #1, in which case R is expendable. You can always decide what it is later.

9. Throw 6D, go for Odds #4. Since you have three of them, their usefulness as joker bait* is doubtful.

10. Need only 2 flowers for Evens #7, so throw any of the 4 odd tiles. Flowers can be elusive sometimes, but there are 8 in the set. So: might as well go for it.

*Whenever I mention "joker bait," somebody invariably asks what that is, so here goes yet again: When you have an unwanted pair, if you can hold on until the latter half of the hand to break it up, it sometimes happens that someone calls the first one and makes an exposure with a joker you can redeem. It doesn't always work, but it's always worth a try.

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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.