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JewishJournal.com

July 5, 2010

Decisions, Decisions!  How to Find a Hand

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/the_american_mah_jongg_blog_39100705/

This article will deal with the “trauma” of finding a hand—a distressing and frustrating part of the game for many beginning players and sometimes even for more experienced players, as well.

In front of you are thirteen assorted tiles of different numbers, Suits, sometimes Flowers, Dragons, Winds and hopefully, Jokers.  At first, it looks like a mish-mash, and honestly, sometimes it is.  Your goal here is to make order out of this “chaos”.

The big mistake many novice players make is to immediately search for a hand. Don’t! The first thing you need to find is a Section or category your tiles reveal, because it’s the Section that will lead you to a hand. There are four Sections that your tiles most often will fall into: Even, Odd, 369 and Consecutive Run.  So start with these. But remember, there are six or seven other Sections. So if one doesn’t work out, look to the others.

First put all the odd numbers together, even numbers together, 369 numbers together, consecutive numbers, etc.  Put them together by Suit and number and put the numbers in ascending order to mimic the hands on the card.

For example:
Here’s your odd numbers:
3,7,9,Bam 5 Dot, 99Crak together.

Here’s your even numbers:
22,4,6,Bam 22,4 Dot,8 Crak together.

Notice I did not put all the same numbers together—all 9s together or all the 2s or all 4s together.  I separated them by Suit and numbers that are ascending, just like hands on the card.  Now I have a better idea where to look for a hand, because usually, the Section with the most tiles is where I want to pursue my search.

Now here is the most important factor..look for the Power of your hand.  The power is any combination: Pair, Pung, Kong, etc., of any tiles, including Flowers and the most-loved tiles of all, Jokers. Jokers can be used for anything, so they can “create” a hand or strengthen it.

Often, your tiles reveal one or two Pairs, sometimes in the same Section, sometimes not.  Sometimes in the same Suit, sometimes not. But try to use as many of the Pairs as you can. These combinations are the foundation around which you should build your hand. 

Determine in what Section(s) the power tiles are used.  Even Pairs are used in the 2468 Section, but also, in the Consecutive Run Section.  Odd Pairs are, usually used in 13579 and again, in the Consecutive Run Sections. A Pair of 3s and 9s alerts you, not only to the odd Section, but also to the 369 Section. When you have odd and even numbered Pairs, look in the Consecutive Run Section.  But you need also to find other tiles that are connected to the power and reflect a hand on the card. Remember your Jokers can help!

Two Pairs of 2s may not be useful if there is no hand that uses two Pairs of 2s. Two or three Pairs do not always translate into a hand. You may have to abandon a Pair because the hand you choose can’t use it. Even if you have no Pairs, you still need to organize your tiles by Section(s)—go for one(s) with at least five or six tiles. And don’t forget to count Flowers and/or Jokers as part of the Section. 

Try this technique if you’re having a difficult time finding a hand. And remember, the Charleston is coming, so keep your mind open…..

AND MAY THE TILES BE WITH YOU!

Any comments or questions?

 

 

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