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By Tom Sloper
June 3, 2012

Column #522

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

1. You have two tiles to discard: E and F (Consec. #5 uses only two Fs). At this stage of the game, unless E is hot, you should discard F. Always discard warmer tiles before colder tiles. (Flowers traditionally get hotter as the hand progresses.)

2. 2012 #4 outnumbers Consec. #2 and W-D #6, so you have three tiles to discard: 3D and two Fs. Throw 3D, saving the pair for joker bait ("joker bait" is explained in column 423). A rule (in this case, "throw flowers earlier rather than later" as in problem #1 above) can be trumped by another rule (in this case, the "joker bait" strategy). (In stating the foregoing axiom, I am not equating strategic principles with rules; see column 512.)

3. This is a two-way Consec. #3, and the flowers are superfluous. Throw one of them away. Unless you want to forget the bams, too, in which case throw 7B.

4. This wants to be a 2012 hand, but it's confused as to which. Seven tiles towards #1 (not counting the joker), and seven towards #4. But not every tile is necessary for those options; you need no more than two suits. Sadly, you're weak on bams and greens, but #4 requires bams and greens. Throw 1D or 2D.

5. Consec. #2 is stronger than W-D #2, so throw a wind tile or 4D. Joker bait is often ineffective with winds.

6. The only two hands that can use three consecutive numbers in one suit (straddling a five) are Consec. #6 (seven tiles) and Quints #3 (also seven). The bams can be used for Consec. #3 (eight tiles). 6D can be used for Consec. #5 (seven tiles). Eliminate one hand. Eliminating Quints doesn't help, so eliminate Consec. #6 (concealed) and throw G.

7. Could go Odds #6, #7, #8. 3D is unnecessary.

8. This is an Odds hand still looking for a good direction. Lose a six for now, chuck the reds later.

9. Six tiles towards Consec. #6, seven towards Elevens #2. The Consec. hand is concealed, so go for Elevens. Discard a dragon or 6C or 8C.

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© 2012 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.