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Friday, March 29, 2024

2024 Card Overview


This blog post is dedicated to the late Grace Gustin, and her favorite flower.

My goodness, is it that time again?  I haven't posted for a year?!?  Well, it doesn't mean I wasn't playing or doing all things mahjongg. I did a lot of teaching this year, and my students have expressed a lot of trepidation regarding the change to the new card, and asked how to transition.  My advice is when the new card comes, take the old card and go line by line to compare. This is what I do, and it helps to process the changes.  So join me as I do this year's side-by-side comparison.  
If you haven't received the new card, you can follow along with the 2023 card and see what to expect.

SPOILER ALERT:  Although there is no image of the card used, this blog post describes all of the new hands on the 2024 card. You do not need to have the new card to follow along, but if you want the experience of seeing the hands for the first time when you open your envelope, stop reading now and continue after you receive your card.  

The "pattern hand" has changed from pung/kong/pung/kong to pung/pung/kong/kong and this shows itself in the first hand on the card.  Change the 3s to 4s and you have a familiar hand.  
The second hand on the 2023 card has been tweaked.  You still have two flowers and the year, but the kongs are like numbers, either 2s or 4s.  This will come in handy as like number kongs appear in two other categories; like numbers and consecutive.
The dragon hand and the closed hand in 2023 are gone, replaced by a hand with four flowers, four 2s, four soaps and a 24 in a second suit.  Note: There is no other hand with four soaps and four 2s, but there is a hand in winds and dragons which could have an exposure of four flowers and four soaps.
The closed hand is a winds hand in the pyramid pattern; NNEEE2024WWWSS.

Hand numbers 1 and 2 in 2023 are gone, but don't fret.
Hand number 3 in 2468 in 2023 is now hand number 1 in 2024, with a change in pattern to pung/pung/kong/kong.  
Hand number 4 in 2468 is now hand number 2, with a change in pattern to pair/pung/pair/pung/kong, a little easier to play with only 2 pairs.
Hand numbers 5 and 6 are gone.
There is now a matching dragon hand; 22 44 666 888 DDDD, one suit, in a pattern to be repeated in consecutive run and 13579. Note: A common thread throughout the card is number pung with dragon kong.
Multiplication is back with two three-suited, four-flower hands: 4x6=24 and 6x8=48.
An old hand, known as "the gate" has returned: Two flowers, kongs of 2s and 8s with pairs of 4s and 6s in the middle.  The hand can be made in 1 or 2 suits.
The closed hand is sui generis: FF 222 44 666 88 88; four pairs at 35 cents.  This is definitely a challenge hand, so beginners beware.

Any Like Numbers
The first hand in like numbers has been tweaked so instead of a kong of flowers, two kongs and a pair, it is now a kong of flowers, two pungs and a kong.  Note: Like pungs appear in like numbers, consecutive run and twice in 369.  
The like numbers with dragon hand is now open in a pair/pung/pair/pung/kong pattern  Note: There is a hand in winds and dragons with dragon pungs.
A third hand has been added in like numbers: FF 1111 NEWS 1111 Note: There are two NEWS hands this year.

Addition Hands
While a hand has been added in like numbers, one has been taken away from addition.  There are three addition hands this year instead of four, all beginning with a pair of flowers and ending with a kong of 7s.  The numbers are 1+6, 2+5 and 3+4.  Hopefully they will be played more than the 2023 addition hands, which seemed forlorn and forgotten.  

The first quint hand on the 2023 card has been tweaked, so  instead of using a kong of winds and two quints of matching numbers, you need non-matching numbers; the example given is 1s and 8s.  So a kong of any wind, and two quints of any non-matching number in 2 suits.  Note:  The non-matching numbers may or may not be consecutive.  Think about it...
The other two quints from 2023 are gone, replaced by three very different quint hands.  The first is two flowers with any consecutive run in 1 suit: quint/pair/quint.
Then you have a hand that is a tweak on a consecutive run hand on the 2023 card, 11 22222 11 22222, any run in any 2 suits.  The consec run hand on the 2023 card reads 111 2222 111 2222, so it is familiar, yet different.
Then, surprisingly, there is another "any" hand - five flowers, kong of any dragon, quint of any number, any two suits.  Note: There are two five-flower hands on the 2024 card. 

Consecutive Run
There are three holdover hands in consecutive run this year, although the patterns have changed.  The classic "these Nos. only" runs are there, although they have done a sort of flip-flop in that the kong in the middle stays but the pairs and pungs that surround them have changed places; i.e., pung/pair/kong/pair/pung.
The "pattern" hand, which shows in second position in 2023 is now in 7th position in 2024 with the pung/pung/kong/kong pattern - still any one or two suits.
Another returning favorite is the "block" hand, formerly position 5, now position 3, with better clarifying language: (Any 1 or 3 suits, Any 3 Consec. Nos.)   
The other hands are gone, although the 111 2222 hand is reborn in Quints.
There are two dragon hands; one a consecutive number pyramid with a kong of opposite dragons, 11 222 DDDD 333 44, the other a one-suit hand with a kong of dragons, 11 22 333 444 DDDDCan someone spell s-w-i-t-c-h?
There is still a flower hand in position 6, but the new hand, instead of four flowers and two pairs, has five flowers, a chow, and two like pungs.  A chow is a grouping of three single tiles in consecutive order, like 123 or 456. The like pungs must be the fourth consecutive number in the second and third suits.  Note: A chow is considered singles and cannot be called for exposure.  Due to the five flowers and singles, it is valued at .30. 
Sadly, the closed hand from 2023 consec. is gone.  It will be missed. It is replaced by a blast from the past, 111 222 111 222 33, a pattern repeated in the closed hand in 369.

There are two holdover hands in odds, but with pattern changes.  The hand in first position has changed to the same pattern used in consecutive, still in one or three suits, only now it's pung/pair/kong/pair/pung.
The "pattern" hand is now pung/pung/kong/kong, a nice go-to if you have the tiles.
Sadly, the "block" hand with 135 and 579 in three suits is gone, but I will always remember it fondly as the "Grace" hand, and will probably still play it in her honor. 
The matching dragon hand has changed to: pair of flowers, pair of 1s, pung of 3s, kong of 5s, pung of matching dragons.  This can also be done in 579.
The opposite dragon hand is now on line 6, with a pair/pair/pung/pung in one suit and a dragon in the second suit.  This can be done in 135 or 579.  Again, pung of a number, kong of a dragon, this time opposite dragon.  Goes well with the consecutive opposite dragon hand.

The four flower hand with pairs and like pungs is gone, replaced by a four flower, three-suited hand in the multiplication style: 3 X 5 =15 or 5 x 7 = 35.  
The three-pair hand with ones and nines is gone, replaced by a well-known three-pair hand using all the odds: 11 33 55 7777 9999.  
Note: Lots of kongs of 7s on this card, so act accordingly.

Lastly, the concealed hand, and even though it is four pungs and one pair, it's valued at 35 for its difficulty.  Picture this:  111 33 555 or 555 77 999 in one suit.  Not so hard, right?  Then you need like pungs of the pair - "these numbers only," so you must have two like pungs of 3s in the second and third suit or the 7s if you're doing 579.  Another challenge hand for sure, valued at .35

Winds and Dragons
The only hand to survive intact in Winds and Dragons is the first hand, a very utilitarian hand in that you can use pungs or kongs of the respective winds.  

A couple of hands have been tweaked, i.e., the last two hands.  The hand with two kongs of dragons still contains two kongs of dragons, but starts with a pair of flowers and uses NEWS in the middle, as opposed to NN E W SS, which makes it an easier hand and valued at .25.  

For those who lobbied for an all-dragon hand, there is a four-flower hand with pung/kong/pung of any dragon.  This replaces the hand with pungs of dragons on the third line in winds on the 2023 card.
The wind hand with the year in the middle is gone.
The four-flower hand has changed to a two-flower hand followed by NN EEE WWW SSSS. 
The hand with winds and consecutive run now is a "sandwich" hand, with kongs of winds and pairs of any 3 consecutive numbers in one suit; i.e., 
NNNN 11 22 33 SSSS or EEEE 11 22 33 WWWW.  More difficult, so worth .30. 

The concealed hand has changed from two consec nos in two suits to two like numbers in two suits, a recent hand brought back for an encore.
That's it for the NEWS.

In 369 the top hand and the block have stayed, with the pattern for the top hand changing to the pung/pung/kong/kong pattern.
The second hand has morphed and become a closed hand, so instead of a pair/pair/pung/pung/kong pattern, you have a three-suit hand with a pung/pung/pung/pung/pair pattern, same as the closed consec. run hand.
All the other hands are gone.
There are two new dragon hands: 333 DDDD 333 DDDD, again number pung with dragon kong, matching OR opposite.  The number can be like 3s, 6s, or 9s with matching dragons.    The second dragon hand in the category calls for four flowers, a pair of 3s, a pair of 6s, a pung of 9s in one suit and a pung of opposite dragons.  Note:  Think twice about exposing a pung of 9s and a pung of an opposite dragon, as there would be no other hand...
There is also a hand with like pungs of 3, 6 or 9: FF 3 66 999 333 333.  Note:  Like pungs can be found in like numbers or consecutives and twice in 369, so don't jump to conclusions when you see them. 
There is also a sandwich hand thrown in there which uses pairs of sixes in three suits in between matching kongs of 3s and 9s.  This hand will be useful for switching in the category. 

Singles and Pairs
Out with the old, in with the new.  Not one of the singles and pairs hands has carried over to the 2024 card, and that includes the "big" hand.  There is still a pairs hand for every category, though, and 2468 has the top slot with an old favorite using two flowers, and 22 46 88 in two suits.
The 13579 hand is two flowers with pairs of 1, 3, 5 in one suit, and 5,7,9 in the second suit.
Seasoned players will jump for joy - the much beloved 998 99887 998877 hand is back, along with its companion, 112 11223 112233, in three suits. 
The 369 hand is brand new.  A pair of flowers followed by 33 66 99 in one suit, followed by 369 369 in the second and third suit.  Another challenge hand, but if the tiles speak, you must answer.
Lest you think dragons were forgotten, there is a pairs hand with five pairs of consecutive numbers in one suit, followed by two pairs of opposite dragons in the second and third suit.  Another brand new, never-before-seen hand.
And, lastly, there is a "big" hand, worth .75, a combo of winds and the year:
2024 NN EW SS 2024 in any two suits. 

So for you new or seasoned players, get ready for another year of play, and may your transition be an easy one!

Saturday, April 1, 2023

2023 Card Overview

The cards are on their way!

The new card is here and at first glance I have to say it looks...well...hard!  The hands look familiar, but subtly changed in ways that will affect play for sure.  One thing that stands out is all hands with flowers have either two or four flowers.  On its face that seems traditional, but there are some new patterns to unravel.  Take out your 2022 card and see how 2023 compares:

2023 - (Three's make a difference!)
The "bonus" hand is gone from this section, relegated back to its proper place in singles and pairs, leaving us with four 2023 hands.  The good news is that 2's and 3's are used instead of 2's and 2's, which makes the hands more flexible.  The first hand on the 2022 card used kongs of greens and reds only.  For 2023 this hand has been moved to position 3 in the category, takes four flowers, with pungs of any dragons! The League has clarified that this hand must use two different dragons - not six of one dragon - and the 2023 can be the same suit as one of the dragons.  Dragon pungs appear again on the card!
The second hand in 2022 has been repositioned to hand 1 in 2023, and it is the reworked pattern hand.  This year's pattern is pung, kong, pung, kong, which appears in 2023 as a two-suited hand.  Of necessity the 2022 pattern hand had three suits (three different twos) and was pung, pung, kong, kong, so watch for that change!  
Hand 3 in 2022 has been moved to position 2 in 2023.  It has gone from being a four-flower hand to a two-flower hand, and the pungs have become kongs, of course with the numbers changed from 2022 222 222 to 2023 2222 3333, still three suits.  An easy switch to FF 1111 2222 3333 or FF 2222 3333 4444 in three suits if you go dead on the soap or the flower.
The closed hand in 2023 is a flipped-in version of the closed wind hand in 2022.  In other words, instead of pair-pung-pung-pair of winds surrounding 2022, we have pair-pung-pung-pair 2023 surrounding the much-beloved NEWS - a two-suited hand.  This means you must have a pair of two's in one suit and a pair of 3's in the other.  If you should happen to get a few jokers, you can always dump the winds and switch up to the pattern hand, or even consecutive...many options here.

2468 - (Everything old is new)
As stated, all three and six-flower hands have been eliminated.  The first 2468 hand on the 2022 card is no more, replaced with a four-flower variation on the "gate" hand.  This new hand is in one suit with four flowers, kongs of 2's and 8's and a single 46.  This has never been on the card before, as the traditional gate was always two flowers with pairs of 4s and 6s, always two suits (see 2021).
Position 2 on the 2023 card is identical to the hand in the same position in 2022. The pattern hand remains in position 3, but the hand is now in the pung-kong-pung-kong pattern, and in 1 or 2 suits as opposed to 2 or 3 suits.   
Hand no. 4 in 2023 combines the hands in positions 4 and 7 on 2022, reducing the category by one hand.  This gives room for the addition hands!  Hand no. 4 is now two 2s and four 4s in one suit, two 4s and four 6s in a second suit and pairs of 8s in the third suit.  This is also a brand-new hand.  
The six flower hand with 2s and 8s has been eliminated,  and another new hand is in position 5:  pungs of 2s and 8s in the same suit with kongs of opposite dragons.  We will see kongs of opposite dragons again on this card!
The closed hand of 2468 has been replaced by a one-suited hand with four pairs; two flowers, pung of 2s, pair of fours and sixes, pung of 8s and pair of dragons.  I'm beginning to see why the card looks hard!  

Any Like Numbers (Traditional yet modern)
All the like number hands have been changed. There are now two hands in this category.  The first one is a traditional hand; four flowers, two kongs and a pair of any like numbers in three suits.   The second hand is closed and is totally new.  It's two flowers followed by three pungs of like numbers, each with a single matching dragon. Single dragons have never been on the card before - a new twist to an old hand! 

Addition Hands - (It adds up to be likeable!)
Addition hands are back, but in a new way.   There are four hands, configured simply as two flowers with three kongs in three suits.  The first two kongs are like numbers and the last kong is the answer, which is an even number.  So think 1+1=2, 2+2=4, 3+3=6 and 4+4=8.  These hands cover many bases and can easily switch to like numbers, consecutives, and even 3-6-9.

Quints (Easy to understand)
Only three quint hands this year.  The first one is an "any" hand, only instead of any dragon, any wind any number, it's a quint of any number, a kong of any wind and a quint of a like number in a second suit.  This keeps the mystery when a kong of winds is exposed!  
The 2468 quint has been replaced with an old favorite in the same pattern, two 2s, three 3s, four 4s and five 5s, all in one suit, these numbers only.  I'm sure this hand will get made, as it only requires one joker.  
The like number hand in 2022 quints is eliminated, and the four-flower hand has changed from a one-suit to a two-suit hand.

Consecutive Run - (Popular hands galore)
There are still eight hands in this category, but only three of them are carryovers.  I am referring of course to the classic runs 1 through 5 and 5 through 9, which are in the pyramid pattern this year (pair, pung, kong, pung, pair).  
The pattern hand is in position 2 this year, one or two suits, in the pung, kong, pung, kong pattern, and the block hand, two flowers, three kongs in any run has moved from position 3 to position 5, one or three suits as usual.  
That's about all that remains the same in consecutive run.  The remainder of the hands have been pretty much gutted: No six-flower hand, no one-two-one-two-dragon, no sandwich hand, no closed hand with the single between two pungs and FFFF 11 22 333 DDD, everyone's go-to hand, has been removed!  But have not fear, let's see what we have instead.  
Replacing the dragon hand in position 7 is a much harder hand in the same pattern of kong of flowers, pair, pair, pung, pung.  The dragons have been removed, the hand is now in three suits, any 3 consec nos four flowers, two pairs, two like pungs:  FFFF 11 22 333 333. (Looks like like pungs is a theme this year!)
There is a dragon hand in position 3, a very old favorite hand in one suit only: FF 1111 2222 DDDD, last seen in 2017.
In position 4, a hand that borrows from a three-paired hand that appeared in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and that is any 5 consec nos. in 3 suits, but while prior cards used three pairs of consecs with two kongs, the new hand uses a single,  a pair,  a pung, and two kongs in any five consec. nos. 3 suits.  This works as a good switch from any 3 consec kongs with two flowers. 
In position 6 we have another pattern hand, this one with two repeating consecutive numbers in two suits: 111 2222 111 2222I'm always glad to see a hand like this, it can be a lifesaver, especially if you get jokers.
Lastly, in the 8th and closed position is a pattern that is the same as the closed hand in 2468, four pairs - two flowers, pung, pair, pair, pung of any 4 consec nos. followed by a pair of matching dragons.  It is the only 30 point hand in the category.

13579 (Old favorites!)
There seems to be a little more familiarity in this category in terms of carryover hands and returning hands.  There are now 8 hands as opposed to 7.  The first three hands are the same in 2023 as they were in 2022 - that being the classic hand in one and three suits, although now in pyramid pattern; the pattern hand, now in pung, kong, pung, kong, and the block hand; two flowers, three kongs of either 135 or 579 in three suits only.  
In position 4 on 2023 is a one-suit matching dragon hand that replaces the one ins 2022.  The new hand is:  FF 1111 33 5555 DD, repeated in 579.  
Position 5 is a 3-suited pyramid with opposite dragons in the middle surrounded by 11 333 and 333 55, repeated in 5-7-7-9, last seen in 2021.  
Position 6 has a hand in the same pattern as the hand in position 6 in consecutive, only this time it uses odds, so four flowers, pairs of 1s and 3s and pungs of 5's OR pairs of 5s and 7s and pungs of 9s.  The hands can pivot back and forth, so 11 33 555 555 can end up being 11 22 333 333, etc., etc.
Position 7 is a "sandwich" hand - matching kongs of 1s and 9s with pairs of 357 in the middle.  Much harder than the three-flower hand in 2022, with a single 357.
The closed hand, position 8, last seen in 2019,  is 111 3 555 555 7 999, two suits.  You will need like pungs of 5s.
On this card, there are seven exposed hands with like pungs; one in 2023, two in consecutive and four in 13579.  There are also three closed hands with like number pungs; one in like numbers, one in 13579 and one in 369.  Like number kongs appear in 2468, like numbers, addition, consecutive and 369. 

Winds - Dragons (No NEWS is good news?)
More choices in the wind hands this year.  
In position 1 there are two choices as opposed to one, i.e., NNNN EEE WWW SSSS or NNN EEEE WWWW SSS.  This opens up the category!
The hand in position 2 has wind pungs followed by a run.  The pattern has changed from 2022, which was kong, kong, single, pair, pung and is now pung, pung, pair, pair, kong.  So two pongs of NS or EW and any three consec nos.  A new configuration, so don't get confused!
There is no all-dragon hand on the card, but there are two dragon hands in windws and dragons.  The first is two kongs of NS or EW followed by two pungs of any 2 dragons.  This is in position 3, and in position 6 is a type of "sandwich" hand, with two kongs of dragons and NN EW SS sandwiched in the middle.  
There are two oldie but goodie hands with winds and flowers. 
In position 4 you will find two flowers, wind kongs with 2023 inbetween (see 2020), and in position 5, four flowers followed by N EE WWW SSSS, last seen in 2015.   
In the closed hand, position 7, the hand has been altered by changing the dragon pungs to consecutive pungs in two suits, i.e.,  NNN EW SSS 111 222.  This is a new hand.   
Something worth noting is there are now 11 hands in the 7 positions.  This gives a lot more to work with when it comes to winds!

369 (Tried and true)
Good old 369!  There isn't too much wiggle room in this category, so many hands will be familiar.  In position 1, the pattern hand, now pung, kong, pung, kong.  
In position 2, the block hand, now four flowers kongs of 3's and 9s and a pair of 6's, one or three suits.  
Taking position 3 is an old favorite:  pair of 3's and 6's in one suit, pungs of 3's and 6's in second suit and kongs of 9's in third suit.  
Hands 4 through 7 in 2022 have been eliminated.  
In position 4 we have a brand-new, never before seen hand with two flowers, pairs of 33 66 99 in one suit and pungs of dragons in the other two suits.  
In position 5 we have a like-kong hand, with a single-pair-pung intro.  So you have 3 66 999 followed by two like kongs of 3, 6 or 9.  In 2020 this hand was 336699 followed by the kongs, so it's a little tweak.
In position 6 we have a knitted hand, the only one on the card.  Matching kongs of 3 and 9, matching pungs of 6 and dragons.  
Lastly, in the closed position, we have a like-pung hand: 333 6 999 333 6 999 in two suits.  

On this card, there are seven exposed hands with like number pungs; one in 2023, two in consecutive and four in 13579.  There are three closed hands with like number pungs; one in like numbers, one in 13579 and one in 369.  Like number kongs appear in 2468, like numbers, addition, consecutive and 369. 

There are four hands that take an exposed pung of dragons:  2023, one in winds and two in 369. Three of those hands have two pungs of dragons.
There are three dragon-kong hands; 2468, consecutive, odds, winds.  Two of those hands have two kongs of dragons.  Take heed!  

Singles and Pairs - (Shake it up!)
There's a pairs hand for each category with the exception of winds.  
The odds hand has changed to the hand from 2020 -11 357 99 in two suits.
Also from 2020 is the much loved repeating pairs hand:  FF 1122 1122 1122.
369 dances to a new tune, and adds the touch of a single matching dragon.  Three pairs and a single in two suits is a new pattern, as we are used to seeing two flowers followed by three pairs and three pairs (2021).  This is now 33 66 99 D 33 66 99 D. 
The evens hand shifted a couple of tiles - it took away a 2 and added a 6, so instead of 22 46 88 it's now two flowers, followed by 2 4 66 88 in two suits.
For consecutive run lovers the seven-pair run in any one suit returns.
And, lastly, in its rightful place, the Big Hand, worth 75, FF 2023 2023 2023 - thank goodness!

I've played in one game since receiving the card, and while it is challenging, the satisfaction that you get from making a hand is well worth the effort!  Best wishes for another year of mahjongg joy!