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I’m looking forward to many comments from all of you regarding the following situation. My “sista” Johni and I had a long discussion about this and we were both in agreement that this was a valid Mah Jongg. But this could be looked at differently and not deemed to be valid. What do you think?

A Player had an exposure of three South’s and a Joker to complete the kong.  Someone threw an East and she declared Mah Jongg. As she put up her tiles, she exchanged a South she had in her rack for her own exposed Joker, then put that Joker with three North’s that were in her rack to expose a kong which was needed to complete the Mah Jongg hand. The hand being played was NNN E W SSSS 2015. Was this a valid Mahj?

Two prior rulings by Ruth Unger are key to the discussion here. 

#1 You are able to re-sort your hand into a valid Mahj if you have the correct 14 tiles.

Player calls Mahj and displays her hand, however she has placed the Joker in the incorrect spot in her hand and exposes a pung, pung, kong, kong, instead of a pung kong pung kong. Ruth stated that since she HAD the correct 14 tiles in her hand, it is a valid Mah Jongg, and could simply be arranged correctly. She ruled that you are allowed to rearrange your hand if you have the correct 14 tiles in your hand. 

*This supports the contention that our player has Mah Jongg when she calls the East and is simply rearranging her exposed 14 tiles as allowed.

 #2 You already “own” the Joker if the tile it is used for is on your rack. 

Ruth calls this a “finesse” move. A player holds back a tile that can be replaced on another player’s rack. She waits until her 13th tile is thrown, calls it for exposure, then replaces the tile on the other player’s rack and that Joker gives her Mah Jongg. She is then entitled to a self-picked bonus. Ruth ruled that this does NOT apply if you exchange a tile exposed on your own rack because all you are doing is simply rearranging your own tiles. In essence, you already own the Joker. No self-picked bonus is then allowed.

*This supports the contention that our player already owned the Joker since she had the South tile in her own hand and is allowed to call the single East.

Back to our example …the calling of the single East obviously would not be allowed if she had to exchange a tile from ANOTHER player’s rack, but since it was on her OWN rack, it is allowed. If we apply either one of Ruth’s prior ruling that “any 14 tiles that can be arranged correctly is a valid Mahj,” or that you already “own” the Joker if you have the replaceable tile in your hand, this would mean she would be able to call that single East for a valid Mah Jongg. Both of her rulings seem to support this Mahj being valid. If you don’t agree, please explain.

9 thoughts on “WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  1. Mah Jongg and Me Post author

    Unlike those prior to me, I can’t understand how this could be valid where you call a mahj for a pair and then switch out the joker to use with your Norths. Once you call mahj, it ends the game and no other transaction can take place. She should have switched out the joker way before. I understand that the ruling that was put forth was when someone called a tile for a closed hand which was, I believe, the 222 444 666 888 DD hand and displayed it as 222j 444 666 88 DD. The player had to rearrange the J to go with the 8’s to make it a valid mahj. This I can understand. She had only to switch around the tiles for it to be valid. BUT to call mahj and then take a joker off your exposure to put it with your norths doesn’t cut it for me. It would have been different if she was calling the E for a kong like in NNNN EEEE WWWW SS and had that joker in with the W exposure. Then she could have called the E to expose, swap out the J in the W exposure and place it with the N’s and then it would have been a self picked Mahj. I just don’t get it how you can call mahj on a single or pair and then exchange out a joker, regardless if it is in your exposure or anothers. With that being said, as I read the “rule” as long as you have 14 tiles you can rearrange them to make a mahj, does that therefore mean if you are playing a consecutive hand 55 666 7777 888 99 and you call an 8 but accidentally put it up as 88j8 and discard and realize that hand is now dead, but it would have put you on call for the 5, can someone throw that 5, you call it for mahj, rearrange the now 14 tiles removing that j from the 8s and placing it in the 7s so that you now are mahj? I honestly think this opens up a can of worms. I was explaining this to a group I play with at the club this past Thursday (normally between 20 and 32 ladies there at any given time). The lady that runs it just looked at me and her words were “Do you think I’m crazy to tell everyone this? They will go off the wall” So, while Ruth might have been thinking this was a good ruling, and I certainly see where it could apply to the 222 444 666 888 DD hand, I do not agree that it should to a hand such as the one you are putting forth.


  2. Pam

    I agree Definitely a Maj Just not dbl,cause she still called for the east –

    See u later Can’t wait !!

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Diane G

    I think the order of things is important here. You can not call for a tile to complete a single or double. Except for MahJ. .. At the time this player called MahJ she did not have her three N’s. The joker on her rack was designated a S. No other player could have retrieved that tile unless they had a S. At the moment she called for MahJ, she did not have all of the necessary tiles to complete the hand. If this was a valid move, it must be OK to”bank” your own jokers by keeping them up for exposure while keeping the real 4th tile in your rack and then exchanging them at the last minute. … If this is so, this move is truly a game changer.. . Going back to the order of things: there must be a few lawyers out there; what do you think?


  4. Ranchette Putters

    Regarding Rule #1 – I believe that refers to tiles as you display your mah jongg, however, under no circumstance can you change a prior exposure – once a pung, always as pung, etc.

    Regarding Rule #2 – The rule only pertains to the bonus involved with self-picked, This does not
    address picking a pair for mah jongg. Exchanges have to be made during a turn, (draw or call, exchange, and discard). The joker must already be in your hand since once you call mah jongg you have completed your turn, and nothing can be done once you complete your turn. You are not permitted to call for a pair, except for Mah Jongg – so that has to be the last move or you are calling for a tile for a pair before you have all the tiles in your hand to make Mah Jongg.


  5. Loretta

    My understanding is that to call a discard for a pair or a single can only be done for a Mahj. Once Mahj is declared no exchanging of tiles occurs; the game is over. She should have redeemed the South joker at an earlier turn. She could not have called Mahj without the joker in the North combination, so she did not have Mahj when she called for the East tile.

    As for rearranging, the joker was in the South combination when she declared Mahj and it was in place turns before the Mahj declaration. She can’t change that when Mahj is declared. She can only rearrange the tiles newly being put on the rack at the time of the Mahj declaration. If the discard was used for a pong, kong or quint, she would have had to exchange for the joker after she picked up the discard, and then declare Mahj. Again, Mahj can only be declared when nothing more needs to be done. Timing is crucial.

    This is a tough one. Any other thoughts?


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