If you are a reader of this column then you know I am a big fan of Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg, and all she has to teach us about Mah Jongg, both for social games and tournaments.
Her most recent newsletter listed many of the rules for both types of games. I think these are important to know, especially for social games where we do not have a ruling director as we do in tournaments.
I agree with all of these rules. And, as a courtesy to your friends, please pay attention to #5 – there is no reason to wear perfume/cologne to your MJ game…please be aware of your friends’ sensitivities!
I know a player who, when she wants to exchange a tile for a Joker on someone else’s rack, she just sticks out her hand with the Joker and doesn’t say a word. She expects that the person with the Joker will know exactly what she wants and usually it works out that way. But I find it a bit rude and I personally do like to say something along the lines of, “may I have your Joker please?”
Also, when this same person wants to claim a discard and it is her turn to pick, she doesn’t say anything…she just picks it up. That used to be okay – albeit a little strange – but ever since last year’s card, the rule has changed so that now you must verbally make a claim.
Q. When we play in our home game, we just place our tile on our opponent’s rack, and exchange for their Joker. Or we put it on the table directly in front of them. We’re smart. We can figure out what they want. It’s the same with the new rule from the NMJL; why do I have to say “take,” when I want their discard if I am next in line for my turn. I don’t have to say “take” when it’s my turn to pick from the wall. Isn’t this the same thing? Isn’t this a bit much? Marlene
The wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg, offers a Q&A in her monthly newsletter. This month there were a number of very interesting questions. Here are a couple of them with more to follow in a day or two. I’d love to hear your comments!
Q. Someone who winters in Arizona said that the white dragon should be called “white” during play. She got this instruction from a person who runs tournaments in Arizona. Is this now correct for all tournaments?
A. We call the white dragon “Soap.” The NMJL has called it “soap” for many decades. It’s common in Canada to name it “white.” Either name is acceptable in most tournaments. However, if a tournament Host states they want it named “white,” then you should abide by the Host’s rules.
Q. I don’t want to build walls, and I don’t want to throw the dice to break the walls. Too many additional things we have to do. Why?
A. We just love these kinds of questions. How about like what Mom used to say, “Because I said so.” In this case….’because the NMJL said so.’ It’s the rule. However, here is a wonderful response…on Facebook, “This is a game of ceremony, rules and etiquette. Building the wall is part of the ceremony. I cannot imagine forgoing this in the traditional four person game.” Moreover, breaking the wall arbitrarily by the throw of the dice is a method to prevent stacking East’s wall with Jokers; to prevent cheating. This process is used throughout the Mah Jongg playing world.
Does your group build walls and throw the dice to know where to break the wall? I recently played with a woman whose group always breaks the wall at 8. They never throw the dice. I personally like the rituals and ceremonies of the game and would not want to give up any of them. Also, as Gladys pointed out, throwing the dice to determine where to break the wall is a definite method to prevent any cheating. Let me know your thoughts…
It’s been a while since I posted the Q&A from our dear friend Gladys Grad’s Mah Jongg Madness newsletter. Here are some questions (and answers from Gladys), which are frequently asked by Mah Jongg students and experienced players alike.