Tag Archives: American-style Mah Jongg


The wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg Tournaments, has told us about something very exciting in the May, 2015 issue of her terrific newsletter, Mah Jongg Madness. Thanks to Gladys, there is now a way to play our beloved game with only two people. Read on…


Sometimes something comes along that you just have to share

             TWO HANDED


The following is Gladys’ explanation of how to play with two people:


    When I taught this version of TWO-HANDED MAH JONGG to a group of 8 players last week, they liked it so much that they gave up playing their regular group games, and split into four groups of two.

   There is absolutely no reason to have to play a drawn-out or less thought-provoking game with only two players.

     You will love this simple yet challenging method of playing Mah Jongg. It can be fast, stimulating, and fun, fun, fun.

  1. Two players face each other; and place 2 racks in front of each player.

  2. Build two (2) full walls of tiles, 19 stacks long, parallel to each other.

  3. East throws the dice to break the first wall arbitrarily.

  4. 28 Tiles for East, 27 Tiles for opposite player: Each player deals themselves four (4) tiles from the two (2) walls in front of East, until East has taken the last 4 which would give her/him 28 tiles. Player opposite then takes three (3) tiles, which gives him/her 27 tiles.

  5. Players may arrange their tiles on both their racks…as many as desired; and may exchange tiles back and forth between their racks. It does not matter how many tiles are on each rack at any one time. (see Item 8).

  6. East discards the 28th tile to begin the game; picking and discarding proceeds.

  7. Even though the tiles are interchangeable on the racks, players must be cautious to NOT put their exposures on the wrong Rack. A player’s hand should be declared “dead” if the exposures do not match a hand on the NMJL card. The player may continue playing to try to build a 2nd Mah Jongg on the 2nd rack. If player is declared “dead” for two hands, the game ceases, and “dead” player pays opponent 4 times the value of opponent’s existing Mah Jongg, or 4 times the lowest value on the card – whichever is relevant.

  8. Once a Mah Jongg is declared by a player, that rack with the Mahj must hold only 14 tiles.

  9. NOTE: There is no benefit to concealing the fact that you have a Mah Jongg.

  10. You may exchange your own Jokers from your own exposures; but you can NOT exchange a Joker from any existing exposed Mah Jongg hand.


  12. SCORING AND PAYOUTS: Payments are made at the END of the game.


     – The 1st Mah Jongg by a player receives the value on the card, regardless if it is self picked .. but if it JOKERLESS, the value is doubled.

         Sometimes, if both players have the same score for their 1st Mah Jonggs, e.g., a 25 point hand – then the payment might be a “wash.”

     –  If a player declares and wins with two (2) Mah Jnggs, the payout for the 2nd Mah Jongg is doubled, regardless if it is self-picked.  Payout is doubled again if it is JOKERLESS (excluding singles and pairs).

              THE SET-UP AND DEAL




 ©Mah Jongg Madness® 2015 – Gladys Grad



Yesterday I posted some common mistakes innocently made at the Mah Jongg table. Here’s a question from what we have to assume is an innocent mistake from a very new player (I can’t imagine an experienced player passing a Joker during the Charleston). This is from the current Mah Jongg Madness newsletter by Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg.

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Here is a really interesting question from the most recent newsletter by Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-style Mah Jongg:

Q. My opponent discarded, and I claimed a 5 Dot – but did not pick it up…but I did expose a 5 Crak (which is what I really wanted).  I was declared “dead.” What should have happened?  Should I have been called dead?  RW

A. Once you exposed, you started your turn.  You then had the option of using the 5 Dot and correcting your exposure to one using 5 Dots….(and returning the 5 Crak to your hand).  If you were unable to use the 5 Dot…even with 2 Jokers…then you should have been declared “dead.”

What are your thoughts on this situation? A somewhat similar situation happened last week – a tile was picked up and an exposure was racked but then the person realized that she didn’t really need that tile for the hand she was playing. But we determined – and rightly so – that once she had called for and touched that discarded tile and racked it, it was hers. In this particular case, all she had to do was now focus on playing a hand that would incorporate her exposure. Comments?



Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-style Mah Jongg tournaments, has some new Q&A’s in her latest newsletter. Here’s an interesting one and I’d like to hear back from you as to whether or not you think Miriam’s friend was being picky or just following the table rules…

 Q.  I made the jokerless hand today of 3 sets of consecutive numbers (FF1122 1122 1122).  One of our “table rules” is to announce when we make a hand without jokers.  In this case, I didn’t announce it as this was an obvious “jokerless hand.”  I was paid $1.00 since I picked my mahj tile.  My friend said I should have announced it!  Was that necessary?  Miriam

A. You have initiated a “house rule” in your own game that “you must announce when you make a jokeless hand.”  Perhaps, your opponent was being a little picky about the details of your “house rule.”  However, unless you were all in agreement and specific about the “terms” of your “house rules,” you really can’t expect everyone to be in agreement when an issue arises….especially one that doesn’t appear on the back of the NMJL Card.

In a tournament, you are well advised to clarify the hand that you played, and to announce the score you are entitled to receive.  That way, when your score is verified and initialed by the person across from you, you all know your score is correct.  Or sometimes, we need a little deeper insight into the obvious.



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Here is another in our series of strategy lessons direct from Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg Tournaments. Today’s questions and answers are from Gladys’ Mah Jongg Academy® and Mah Jongg University® – Your Tournament Questions Answered.
Q. A 2Dot was drawn from the wall, and the player declared “Mah Jongg.” But after she exposed the 2Dots –then she exchanged a tile from her hand for another player’s Joker.  Then she actually had mahj. She was called “dead” because she didn’t have mahj when she claimed the 2Dot.  Was that a correct ruling?
Q. I claimed a discard, and before I picked it up or exposed, I said ” Mah Jongg.”  My opponent said I shouldn’t have said it until after I exposed with the discard.  Is that a rule?
A. Both are a good Mah Jongg.  Many times a player has claimed a discard for Mah Jongg, and then said, “Oh, that’s NOT Mah Jongg, it’s just for an exposure.”   The NMJL states “in this instance, it is okay to ‘change your mind.”
If you had claimed a discard and said “Mah Jongg” in error, then “even exposing only  that actual pung or kong is okay.”  You would still be in the game.
     In this case, IF the player had already exposed the 2Dots, and then that player exchanged for the Joker….then she still had a good, self-picked Mah Jongg. You can verify this ruling with the NMJL.
     In answer to the 2nd question…that is NOT a rule.
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