I was so very happy to once again receive one of Gladys Grad’s Mah Jongg Madness newsletters yesterday – I know how difficult everything has been for her since she lost her darling husband Phil a couple of weeks ago. But Gladys – also known as the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg Tournaments – is a strong and wonderful lady, devoted to the game of Mah Jongg and to all of the people who look forward to her newsletter, her tournaments, and everything else she does to promote the game. Gladys, it’s great to hear from you again!


Here’s a picture of Gladys with her wonderful husband, Phil.

Here’s a really interesting question from Gladys’ most recent newsletter. Has this ever happened to you?

Q. In tournament play, a player steals a tile on the first left and looks at it by mistake.  That player is dead, right?  What happens to the remainder of the Charleston?  Are the “live” players penalized by terminating the Charleston and foregoing a courtesy?  Lauren
A. In a tournament, when a player peeks at a blind pass, that player is NOT dead, the Charleston continues, and the courtesy pass can be completed.  However, the “peeker” is penalized ten (-10) points off their score at the end of the game.  Contact the National Mah Jongg League for the penalty (if any) in your home/social game.

Here’s another interesting question answered by Gladys. Something like this just happened with the OMs a couple of weeks ago when we were playing at S1’s home with only three people. J declared Mah Jongg but it was an incorrect call so she was dead; S1 said she was dead too but I said that since no one had called her dead, she should just keep on playing. Of course, that was silly since we now knew that she couldn’t complete a Mah Jongg. But since our game is social and very friendly, we just played it out. However, now I know – thanks to Gladys – that we should have declared a “wall game.” Here is the question from Gladys’ newsletter:

Q. I was playing in a 3-handed game and one was called dead with all her tiles exposed.  I was obviously dead too, but no one called me dead.  I knew what tile the remaining player needed, but it was obviously in the wall.  Does the remaining player keep picking? Eileen
A. In a tournament, if 2 of the 3 players at the table are dead, the game is declared a “wall game.”  The remaining player gets ten (10) points, and the dead players receive  a score of Zero (0).  (NOTE:  We provide alternates/ substitutes at our tournaments, so there are always 4 players at a table; however, the great majority of other tournaments may have one or more tables of 3 players).



  1. The Mah Jongg Doctors

    In response to the second question: If the second person in that threesome is dead, but no one has called her dead….she would keep picking. (You never declare yourself dead unless you have the wrong number of tiles) And if the 3rd player’s MJ tile was in the wall and #2 picked it…she could keep the 3rd player from making Mah Jongg by not discarding it. Therefore the game would continue and if player 3 wasn’t able to make Mah Jongg, both players 2 and 3 would receive 10 points for the wall game.
    NOTE: We play in many tournaments around the US sponsored my many different organizers. Our experience is that they ALL provide alternates for a table missing a 4th. After all, it’s a tournament and a threesome would have the advantage of more picks and more jokers. We have played 3 in a home game sometimes and it is definitely a different game.


    1. mahjonggandme Post author

      Thanks for this great response! When this happened to us, and S1 said she was dead too, I told her that no one had called her dead and so we should continue with game play. And yes, I agree with you, playing with just 3 people is definitely a different game! Ann xxo


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