As the OMs get to the very last wall and the remaining tiles of the game – our
“Hot Wall” – we recite the following mantra (created by X): “Hot wall, hot wall, not that it means anything…” I always thought there were certain rules you were supposed to follow when the “hot wall” goes out in but in our table rules the OMs just treat it as a signal that the game will be over when the last tile from this wall is discarded. And so, I was surprised to read the following question and answer from Gladys Grad’s monthly column and particularly this sentence:
The NMJL and Standardized Official Tournament Rules do NOT use a hot wall or a cold wall.
Q. I played in a Florida game where they had a “hot wall.” Then I heard about a “cold wall.” Supposedly, these are the remaining tiles from after you have thrown the dice to break the wall; the last tiles played. They said some tournaments use this. What!!?? Esther S
A. A “hot wall” is strictly a social game “house-rule” (a house-rule is one that you all agree to follow in your social game; not one you have to follow unless you have all voted to agree). It means that if you throw a “hot tile” (a tile that you can not account for three (3) of them – either on the table, in an exposure, or in your hand). If this hot discard gives your opponent Mah Jongg, you would then pay for everyone out of your pocket (usually not out of the funds in your game-purse). This forces a player to re-think a discard and to play more defensively; or to suffer the consequences of a more costly pay-out.
A “cold wall” is also strictly a social-game “house-rule.” This states that you have to pick your own mahj tile from the remaining wall; you can NOT CLAIM A DISCARD for your Mah Jongg. This simplifies the game by allowing another player to discard anything…even if that tile would justifiably result in someone getting mah jongg with that discard….but you won’t suffer any consequence or penalty. It begs the question of a good defense, doesn’t it?.