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…
Gladys Grad, the Grand Master of American Mah Jongg, included me in what turned out to be a very lively email discussion regarding a question that had been posed to her. I promised Gladys that I would post the question on my blog and now I am asking for your opinions on this. Can’t wait to hear from you!
Hi, How would you rule in this situation? Player A is set for Mahj, waiting for a 5 Bam. Player A has two 5 Bams in her hand and a Joker. Player A wants to self-pick her Mahj. A 5 Bam is thrown. Instead of calling Mahj, Player A calls for the 5 Bam and exposes it with one 5 Bam, a Joker, and the 5 Bam picked up from the table. With that action it is the beginning of Player A’s turn. Now….Player A takes the remaining 5 Bam from her hand and exchanges it with the exposed Joker on her rack and calls Mahj. Is it a self-picked Mahj??? Does it matter that the exchange happens in her own hand? I know if she exchanges a tile from another player’s hand to get the Joker then it would be a self-picked Mahj. Does the same rule exist when it is her own hand? Thanks for your opinion. P.S. Player A CHOSE not to call Mahj (just as some players would possibly throw the Joker to try for a Jokerless hand). Interesting dilemma….what do you guys think?
I was invited back today to play Mah Jongg with the ladies who live in my apartment building. It is interesting to me to note how very different it is to play with a contrasting and divergent group of people from the OMs – nothing will ever be as wonderful as playing with my beloved OMs – and yet there is still the comfort of the NMJL card and the click clack of the tiles and the familiar cry of “Mah Jongg!” That is part of the allure and beauty of the game – no matter where you are and with whom you are playing, ultimately it is all comfortably familiar.
I had a very successful Mah Jongg day, which happens to be personally rewarding to me since this particular group of women has all been playing for so many years. Adele, and it is in her lovely apartment where we play, has been at this game for over 50 years. Her quiet game play offers much to be learned; Jan – who also has been playing for many, many years – offers a great lesson in how to play defensively and cleverly. I love the experience of still being able to learn new things each time I play.
My first Mah Jongg hand was this 13579 hand: 55 77 555 777 9999.
I earned $1.00 on this hand because East had rolled doubles and I picked the winning tile myself. That’s a nice way to start the day!
I’m always flattered when the ladies in my apartment building invite me to join in their Mah Jongg game. They have each been playing for about a million years and their game play is fast and exciting. I like playing with them because it really sharpens my game play to have to play so fast. Their table rule is that you cannot lose more than $5 in one day so I come armed with lots and lots of quarters! One of the ladies today has been playing Mah Jongg since 1938! She is in her 90s and still sharp at the game – wow! what an inspiration she is!!
I had a very lucky day and declared Mah Jongg a number of times and went home with more money than I came with to the game. Here are just a few of the many nice hands that were played today (these ladies not only play really fast, they like to play for many hours!):
This hand came together nicely for me. I am finding the 2468 hands on the NMJL 2014 card much easier to play than they were on the 2013 card.