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By Tom Sloper
May 6, 2012

Column #518

American Mah Jongg (2012 NMJL card). What would you discard?

1. If you discard 3C, you're two tiles away from 2012 #2. If you want to go for Consec. #5, you have to discard two tiles and a soap; and you don't have quite enough jokers. The 2012 hand is worth more, and it's closer.

2. It's a tossup; either Consec. #4 or Elevens #4. Examine the table and see how many 1Bs or Gs are out. Think back to the Charleston, too. If dragons went around and not many are out, maybe somebody's collecting them (in which case you could be better off going for Elevens). After choosing your discard, jump on any 5B or 6B or F someone might discard.

3. No sixes for 2468 #3; very risky to go that way. Plenty of jokers, though; you can easily make 2468 #6 (you can call soap if it goes out). If you throw soap now, you'll have to throw two jokers later. My recommendation is to discard 4B.

4. You can go for Consec. #3 or 369 #2. Not counting jokers, nine tiles either way. You have to look to the table. If tiles you need for one hand are already out, maybe somebody is keeping the tiles you need for the other. Might be better to go with the flow rather than fight the tide.

5. With this many jokers, you can go for Quints #1. If you want to go for Odds #4 instead, you have to discard a joker now. Throw F to go for the gusto. Why F, and not G? Because flowers get hotter as time goes by. You can throw G later.

6. To go for 2012 #1, throw 3D or E. To go for S&P #1, throw N, soap, or joker. The 2012 hand is easier to make, and you're not that close to S&P. I'd take the path of least resistance (higher probability), throw 3D.

7. Your choice here is simple: easy Odds #2 or risky Odds #6. If you want to go for #6, throw 1C or 5D, and hope you pick lucky. Otherwise, throw 1D or 5B.

8. W-D #6 or 2012 #4. For the former, there are four tiles to discard; for the latter, there are two. Thing is, the nearer hand is harder (concealed). If you're feeling lucky, throw F. If you're risk-averse, throw a number and call any dragon. Flowers are easy to get.

A tip o' the hat to sharp-eyed reader Linda M.!

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© 2012 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.