Mah Jongg is not just a game. It has become a part of my life that allows me to entertain my Mah Jongg-playing friends, cook great meals to serve to them and test my mental skills during our game play (which, hopefully, is often).
Tag Archives: Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg
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!
Everyone’s dear friend and Mah Jongg maven, Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg, offers all of us the opportunity to become a Mah Jongg Grand Master. As she writes, “The MAH JONGG MASTER POINTS™ System certifies and authorizes tournament Hosts to run Mah Jongg games/ tournaments where MAH JONGG MASTER POINTS™ are awarded. Mah Jongg players can accumulate points and achieve ranks, by participating in these sanctioned tournaments where American-style Mah Jongg is played.”
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
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…
Everyday, we receive calls and emails asking us many questions about Mah Jongg social game and tournament rules. One such question involves exchanging Jokers in an exposure – specifically: “Can a player exchange a symbol tile (like a 5 Dot) for a Joker, instead of the other way around?” As you know, the NMJL Rules do provide for exchanging a Joker for a symbol tile in an exposure. Because this question has come up so often over the years, we recently took a suggestion from a player to send out “some kind of petition,” to garner comments and remarks from others. Basically, we assumed this form of starting the conversation would offer valuable insight. The premise suggested that there is an element of the luck-factor that may be reduced in the game, if players have the option to exchange a Joker for a symbol tile; thereby, opening up alternative strategies; 1) to prevent an opponent from making a Jokerless hand (as exhibited by their exposures) 2) to fill in a singleton or pair in ones own hand, that has been stymied by an exposure of 3 or 4 of the same tiles on an opponents rack. This was posted on a Facebook page a couple of weeks ago….and elicited many interesting opinions. The resulting comments from the Facebook page, and from the many calls, messages, and emails…indicated that our players are open to these kinds of discussions. They appreciated the opportunity to discuss new ways to make the game we love possibly even more challenging. We thank everyone who took the time to offer their opinions and comments. (Granted there were a few comments from players who adamantly opposed any change…and some who even said a few unkind words [they probably don’t make friends very easily]……but we welcomed the exchange.) Further, we feel that our personal and professional mission is to promote the NMJL game; ….and conversations like this one in our Mah Jongg community are worthy and constructive.Dreaming of those Jokers…
Q. Today one of our tables had an occurrence that had not happened before. A tile was racked and simultaneously the previous discard was called. Who wins? This was not a tournament. One of our players posted this on Facebook and got many, many opinions on this. MOST said they believed the person who picked and racked got to keep the tile, because the person who called at the same time the other tile was racked was just not paying close enough attention. But a few said the caller had the upper hand. Who’s right?
A. It’s called a “simultaneous occurrence.” In all cases, the benefit of the doubt goes to the person claiming the tile. See the tournament rule below:
18. SIMULTANEOUS SITUATIONS: Sometimes a tile may be claimed at the same time as another player racks or discards their next tile. This comes under the “Mah Jongg Rule of Simultaneous Occurrence,” also known as “Interception,” “Precedence of Claims,” and “Concurrency.” In this event, the claimant will receive the benefit of the doubt. Please contact the Director for the official ruling in this matter.