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By Tom Sloper
June 5, 2011

Column #490

American Mah Jongg (2011 NMJL card). It's early in the game yet. What would you discard?

1. The keystones here are the two pairs: 8C and F. The hand is clearly working in Evens territory. #2 is out since we have no 2C; #3 looks good; #4 is out since we have no R; #7 is out since we have no majority. Focusing on #3, then, expendables are 4C, 8C, 8B, 8D. Discard whichever.

2. If you want to go for S&P #4, that joker is one of five tiles that will have to go. Like Numbers is closer. 2B and F have to go; F should go sooner since it could be dangerous later.

3. If you go for Consec. #1, all the sevens have to go. If you go for Odds, the ones and fours have to go, plus 7B. It's five junk tiles either way. If you go for Consec. #1, you have three of five sets (two already complete); if you go for Odds #2, you have a good start on three of four sets. 7B can go; decide later.

4. Pray for guidance from the mah jongg gods, and look what they give you. No dragons, but don't kill Like Numbers just yet. I'd hang onto dots for possible Odds #5, and throw a 7 or 9 from either bams or craks.

5. Best bet is 369 #5; F can go.

6. Those winds do not go with those dragons. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. If you go winds (W-D #5), N would have to go. If you go dragons (W-D #6), all the winds can go. 2011 #4 is the best option; as painful as it is, you have to kill G and R.

7. Throw dots, go for Consec. #2.

8. If you want to go for W-D #6, throw 1B or 2B. But if you throw F, you're ready to win 2011 #3 on 1B.

9. Three tiles away from Quints #1 and three tiles away from Consec. #5. For the former, luck has to give you J; for the latter, luck has to give you 3C. J is much more likely. Go for Q, throw 3B or 3C.

10. Are ya feelin' lucky, punk? If so, you might discard soap or J -- hoping for 2D and 3D for S&P #1. But a faster surer win would be to throw 3D. Then you've got numerous possible wins for 2011 #4. (You'd win instantly on N, S, or picking another J).

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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.