This question – with its very thorough answer – is from Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg. Much thanks to Gladys for this great Q&A:
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…
Another timely Q&A from Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg.
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:
OFFICIAL MAH JONGG RULES FOR TOURNAMENTS
National Mah Jongg Tournaments®
Qualified for MAH JONGG MASTER POINTS® SANCTIONED MAH JONGG TOURNAMENTS
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.
What is your opinion on this? Let me know…
I have dreamed of declaring Mah Jongg just after the Charleston is completed and before the game actually begins. In her most recent newsletter, Gladys Grad, the amazing Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg, answers a question about just such a heavenly happening! Have you ever had this happen to you? Let me know about your own “Heavenly Happenings!”
Q. I am curious as to how you would rule in the following scenario: The Charleston was completed through last right pass and East declared MahJongg. You have mentioned many times that the game does not begin until East throws the first tile. Of course, East is the only player who could have Maj at that point. This happened at the table where I was playing in another tournament a few years ago. That director declared it a valid Maj. I’m sure you would not criticize another director’s ruling, but I’m wondering how you would rule. It will probably not ever happen again in my lifetime! Pat
A. It is a good mahj. It’s a “hole-in-one,” a “Celestial Mah Jongg “, a “Heavenly Mah Jongg,” and you name it . It’s even a good mahj for East if it happens during the Charleston. NMJL condones it, and so do we.
Friday was an incredibly sad and frightening day as news came in of the horrible attack on Paris. And then, later in the evening, an email arrived from Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg, bringing more sad news but this time specifically to the Mah Jongg community: Ruth Unger, the long-serving president of the National Mah Jongg League has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of France while at the same time we send our condolences to the family of Ruth Unger.
Here’s another Q&A from the wonderful Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Style Mah Jongg, and the brains behind the website, MahJonggMadness.
Q. I played with new people yesterday at the community club house. When they put up their exposures, they didn’t separate them, even when I asked them to. I never played that way. They said that’s how it’s done, and that’s how they do it! They gave me the impression that if I didn’t like it – too bad. Mary M, FL
A. Nice, huh? That’s a rather clear (if bloodthirsty) way of telling you “it’s their way-or-the-highway.” By “packing the exposures” it’s a strategy to throw other players off. Some will also put their jokers at the end of the individual exposure, so you won’t know which exposure it belongs to. Nasty way of not giving you a “clue” about what they’re playing. We won’t condone this in tournament play….and I can almost guaranty that the NMJL won’t either. Find a more sporting game.
I agree with Gladys although sometimes you have to decided if leaving your group is going to be worth it. Can you find another group? Can you just somehow ignore the problems that certain people cause? It may not always be so easy to find a new group.
When I am teaching Mah Jongg, I always instruct my students to a) put the Jokers in the middle of the exposure on their racks and b) separate out the exposures, including when you call for Mah Jongg. The above photo is from a hand by one of my beginning students who completely understands where to place her Jokers and how to display her winning Mah Jongg. I try to instill within my students the fact that Mah Jongg is a friendly game (at least it is under my roof!) and that the most important part of playing is to have fun! Do you agree?