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By Tom Sloper
April 29, 2012

Column #517

American Mah Jongg (2012 NMJL card). Charleston. What would you pass? No blind passing.

1. W and 4C will go, but you need a third. You must decide between Consec. and Odds. The dots pairs indicate Odds. Odds #2 and Odds #7 are both strong. You have 6 tiles for Consec. #2, but better to stay in one family. Widely spread options reduce your chances. I'd pass a six or an eight.

2. You'll be using the pair of eights. Unless you go for Like Numbers (and you shouldn't), you won't need 8D (see #4, below); it can go, along with 7B and R.

3. Fives and nines and flowers fairly scream Odds #5... but you have no reds. Unless somebody passes a red, the flowers will change from desirable to expendable. You can cross that bridge later. Pass 7D 7B N.

4. The only hands that can use eights in two suits are Like Numbers, Consec. #2, and S&P #4. This isn't set up well for any of those. (No 8D for Like Numbers, no 7B or 9D for Consec. #2, and no 2C, 4C, 4B, or 6B for S&P #4.) So if it's not looking good to use both pairs, which one pair has the most friends? The 2B 8B combo suggests Evens #3, but fours and sixes in other suits are scarce. Thinking mustn't go on too long; pass S 3D 9B (9B doesn't work with anything).

5. No hand uses flowers and ones and nines in two suits. So if it's not looking good to use all three pairs, which two pairs have the most friends? The flowers and ones don't have many; Like Numbers is weak. Ditto for flowers and nines. But ones and nines are good for the bottom Odds hand. 4D 1C and F can go.

6. Flowers, eights, and ones suggest Elevens #1. And look, there's a three in the third suit. Pass 3C 3B and either 8B or 8D.

7. The flowers cannot be ignored. This can go Consec. #5 (which would obviate one flower) or Odds #3 (ditto, and also this one is missing soaps). Keep threes for Like Numbers; pass 7D 2C and either 1D or 5D.

8. If you go 2012 #1, F G and R can go. If you go W-D #4, 1C 2C and N can go. Count; 2012 has eight tiles; W-D has eight. They're even. The 2012 hand will likely be easier to make, since you have only one each of the dragons. And it's worth more; go for it.

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