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By Tom Sloper
July 3, 2011

Column #493

American Mah Jongg (2011 NMJL card). Charleston. You've just completed the first left. What do you do?

1. Go for Evens, keep the Charleston going. Pass 1B 1D 9D. The other 1D can go anytime.

2. Consec. #1 is a clear possibility. Consec. #3 is another. But 4, 5 in bams with 6, 7 in craks isn't strong enough to stop the Charleston; could just as well go for 3, 4 in bams and 5, 6 in craks. Keep the Charleston going; pass 7C 5B 9D.

3. Could go for Consec. #2, but there are no reds here. Sevens #3 (in three suits) is a possibility, and so are Consec. #5 and Like Numbers (fours). None of those hands are strong enough to warrant stopping the Charleston. Like Numbers is weakest; pass N G 7B.

4. This is a better start for Consec. #2, and not bad for Like Numbers either. Stop the Charleston, offer two (the fives) across.

5. This would be great... if you were playing Chinese mah-jongg. Don't stop the Charleston. Pass... I don't know... 7B 5D and... maybe 5C or the other 5D.

6. Not a great hand; Sevens #1 looks best. Don't stop the Charleston. Keep 1D 1D 6B 7C 7C F J, pass anything else.

7. This looks good for Consec. #5. Don't stop; 1D 1C 3C 3B are expendable; pass any three.

8. Consec. #5 again. You can offer 6C and 4B across after you stop the Charleston.

9. Stop the Charleston. Only two tiles to offer across: E and F. Keep everything else for Evens #1, #2, #3, and Like Nos.

10. Two hands (Consec. #1, Odds #1). Stop the Charleston, offer two across: 4B, 5D.

11. Consec. #2. You have exactly three to pass: 3B 8B 4D. Don't stop the Charleston, but if you get a good tile in the 2nd left, you'll have a tough decision to make on the second across (that's often the case). If that happens, pass a seven or a nine. Depending on what you get, of course.

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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.