Jewish Journal


by Elaine Sandberg

March 6, 2011 | 6:15 pm

                            WHICH HAND TO CHOOSE?

One of the challenges of Mah Jongg is out of the 50 or so hands on the card, is being able to choose the one that will win. But how many times do you have to decide between possible hands that you think will win?  Many!!!

The first is when you put your tiles up on the rack and decide on a tentative hand(s). Then, when you get new tiles in the Charleston and possibly again, as the game is progressing, changing your hand is not unusual—sometimes changing it more than once. It’s often not an easy choice and many times there isn’t much time to make a reasonable and winning decision. As the Mah Jongg guru says, “She who hesitates, holds up the game!”

In all of these “decision times” there is a commonality.. In other words, the same criteria can/should be used in all of these situations to make a reasonable decision about choosing one hand over another.

As a general rule, my advice is when you have to choose between two hands, choose the hand that’s easier to make.

1.  Count the number tiles toward Mah Jongg for one hand   vs. the number of tiles for the other.
    Choose the hand with the greater number.

2.  Choose an Exposed hand over a Concealed hand.

3.  Choose the hand that has no gaps—-tiles you have that are the start of each combination the hand requires.

4.  Choose the hand that requires no Pairs over the hand that requires one or more Pairs. 

5.  Or choose that hand that requires the fewest number of Pairs.

6.  Choose the hand for which you already have the Pair or Pairs required.

Follow these guidelines—they will make it easier for you to come to a decision and hopefully improve the ratio of wins over losses. 

Til next time….



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A kid from Brooklyn, a graduate of Syracuse University and an immigrant to California via Palo Alto, San Juan Capistrano, finally, Los Angeles, I have been here for the past 15...

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