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…from the most recent newsletter written by the wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg.

Q.  This dispute comes up in every tournament and at every game I play in….when replacing a joker in an exposure, do you have to say/announce that you are exchanging?  Marilyn

A.  Since most people don’t want you to touch their tiles or their rack,…when you go to exchange a symbol tile for an exposed Joker, the best way to do it is to ask for the exchange.  If you merely place your tile in front of their rack on the table, that is construed as discarding the tile. Don’texpect your opponents to know your intention.      In addition, as a strategy, do NOT announce that you are exchanging your own tile for your own Joker in your own exposure.  You don’t need to draw attention to the fact that you now have an additional Joker in your hand.

One of the rules I teach my Mah Jongg students is that you must never touch another player’s rack – I agree completely with Gladys’ answer on this question (although I always agree with her…she is the Grand Master after all!). When you want to exchange a tile for a Joker, hand it to that player and ask for the exchange. And Gladys has added an important strategy to the Joker exchange when she advises us to not announce you are exchanging your own tile for a Joker. I did it just yesterday – I exclaimed, “Oh, that’s lucky” as I exchanged a tile for an exposed Joker on my rack. Thanks to Gladys’ instruction, hopefully I won’t do that again!


4 thoughts on “MORE Q&A…

  1. Patricia Stimmel

    Racking a new tile is a constant issue in our social game. Problems: player holds the tile just picked from stack in middle of the board in her hand vs placing it immediately in her rack…no matter how many times she is politely reminded to rack the tile. Reasons for racking are given, however it’s a hit or miss still. Isn’t racking a new tile part of protocol or game etiquette? Thanks.


    1. Mah Jongg and Me Post author

      Hi Patricia – racking isn’t really part of protocol or game etiquette – it’s more strategic than anything else. Until she racks her tile (and that means putting it in her rack, not just tapping it on her rack), the tile that was just discarded is fair game to be called by the other players. It’s sloppy play on her part to not rack her tile. She must be a fairly new player to not understand the importance of racking.


  2. Jan Egri

    I totally agree that you hand the tile over to the person with the exposure to get the joker. I also agree that there is no need to announce it. She knows why you are handing it to her and let’s face it, a lot of players are busy looking at their hands vs the table (bad habit) and won’t notice it!


  3. Lisa Silbert

    But don’t you have to exchange your tile for your joker on your turn?? Won’t everyone be watching?? I did not think you could do it anytime.


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