Here’s the last of the questions and insightful answers from this month’s newsletter from Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-style Mah Jongg tournaments. Both questions involve situations at tournaments.
Q. I’ve been playing for a year and am going to play in my first tournament in October. I was told by my teacher to play more defensively in the tournament than I do in my game at home. Do you agree? Sylvia
A. Uh oh. I really don’t want to disagree with your patient and knowledgeable teacher…but “No” I don’t agree. When you are playing in your game at home, you are likely playing for “gain” (spell that m-o-n-e-y). If you give someone else Mahj in your home-game then you are actually responsible for your opponents also paying for your “mistake.” However, in a tournament, you are the only one who will “pay”…in the form of minus-points. The others will only be disappointed that they didn’t get Mahj first. If you think you might have a pretty good chance of getting your own Mahj, then you should go-for-it. The way you win in a tournament is to accumulate those points.
Q. I was in a tournament, and the player to my left began to discard a tile. She laid it down but didn’t name it. When I saw it touch the table, I called it for Mah Jongg. Almost at the same time, she changed her mind and picked it up. She said she “didn’t name it, and she didn’t take her fingers off it, so she could take it back.” But no one would throw me my tile after that!. Is that right? Carol
A. That was the perfect time to call over the director of the tournament, who would have (should have) given the game to you. You had a legitimate Mah Jongg. A discarded tile is “down” when it touches the table or is named. Down-is-down. (This is not a game of checkers, where you can keep changing your moves until you take your finger off the checker!)
And as a final emphasis on this answer, just yesterday I received a message from Debbie, a reader of this blog. She definitely will agree with Gladys’ answer; her email said, In our games we play “once it’s up, it’s up” – no changes -and “once it’s down, it’s down.”
I agree! Thanks, Debbie!!
I’ve received a couple of messages from Georgelle in Naples, Florida, and she would like your opinions – please send them to me. Here’s the situation:
I discarded a North, called it a Soap, which is what I meant it to be when I discarded. That was because I simply wasn’t paying attention and picked up the wrong tile. I had a North and a Soap sitting on my rack together. I actually picked up a North and threw it calling it a Soap. One of my opponents saw the North, said that’s not a Soap. The gals said I had to discard the North — even though I called it a Soap. Thus the lady Mah Jongg’d with the North tile — which I didn’t intend to throw, but did it stupidly.
I paid for myself and the other two players. Was that necessary?
Thanks from our whole group — most of whom have been playing for twenty or thirty years. Me — only about four years, but never did such a stupid thing. Just was talking and not paying attention.
Thanks for your help.
I have a pet peeve about people picking and racking at the speed of light. There is a group I occasionally play Mah Jongg with and one of the ladies has a habit of hovering over the wall long before it is her turn and then, when her turn does come around, she is already there to pick and discard faster than you can say “wait.” I like a friendly game and I find this behavior to be both aggressive and rude game play – Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg Tournaments, seems to agree with me as you will read below in her most recent Q&A column. Let me know your thoughts…
“Loli steps up and proves more vicious in her preferred competitive tile game than one could have imagined.” – From Saki S2 – Loli Gets Ruthless & Aggressive Continue reading
A reader of this blog, Charlotte B., sent in several questions. At first they seemed to warrant very easy answers but on further analysis, we realized that the two questions were much more complicated than they initially had seemed. Fortunately, the question arrived at a perfect time – the day before the OMs (the Original Mahjettes) held our weekly Wednesday Mah Jongg get-together. We discussed the questions during lunch and then again at the Mahj table and we finally all agreed on the answer.
A follow-up phone call to the very helpful people at the NMJL validated our answer which follows.
Q. I noticed a rule in the latest publication from the NMJL that differs from a rule you have used at your tournaments. A player discards a tile but miscalls it. However, she has the correctly named tile in her hand. Does she take the tile back and discard the named tile from her hand?
A: No, You do not replace the tile with named tile….miscalled tile is only correctly named.