My students call me RackIt (!) because I am constantly reminding them to rack their tiles after they have picked from the wall. Why am I so fixated on racking the tile – and done in the proper way? Well, simply because this avoids any confusion, disagreements, and/or mistakes. But don’t take my word for it – let’s hear what the Grand Master of American-Style Mah Jongg, Gladys Grad, has to say about this issue:
Please answer this question so it can be settled with my Mah Jongg group. When does your chance to call for a discarded tile end? I think we have some misinformation afloat.
A. You can claim a discard before the next player picks and RACKS their next tile. If they click the tile ON their rack, it does NOT count.
If they hold it (even for a long time), it does NOT count.
Putting their picked tile on the table in FRONT of their rack does NOT count.
And in order to claim the tile that you have already RACKED and that you don’t want to lose to someone who is claiming the last discard….make sure you RACK IT FULLY ON THE SLANTED PORTION OF YOUR RACK.
Much thanks to the wonderful Gladys Grad!
Three of my “advisors” on sticky Mah Jongg issues:
When I am teaching “newbies” how to play Mah Jongg, one thing (among many!) that I stress is that a discarded tile may be called until the next player “racks” their tile. And by racking I mean putting the tile in the rack, not just touching it to the rack. This is a pet peeve of mine – it is important to RACK that tile. Now, I don’t mean that you should sweep in, grab the next tile, and quickly rack it. Let’s remember that in social games we play a friendly game and take a second or two to pick up our next tile, giving another player a chance to say, “um…” or “wait…” or “I’m calling that tile.”
Gladys Grad‘s newest Mah Jongg Madness newsletter reinforces my instructions:
Q. Here’s a question that has come up during our weekly play. What is the “time limit” for calling a tile? Quite often, someone will throw away a tile and almost before you have time to react, the next person has begun their turn. If the next person has picked up the new tile and not looked at it, do they have to relinquish it to the claimer? Or if they have picked it up and looked at it but not racked it? What is the point where the tile cannot be called? We’re pretty lenient when playing among ourselves but would like to know what applies for tournament play. Maddy
A. You are able to claim a discard until the next player has actually racked their next tile. Racking means that the tile picked from the wall is actually placed IN their rack…not in front of, on top of, or in back of the rack. 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.” In this event, the claimant will receive the benefit of the doubt.
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…
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