|By Tom Sloper
American Mah Jongg (2011 NMJL card). Occasionally in this game one encounters a player who seems to be constantly changing her mind. She passes in the Charleston, then takes it back. She calls for a discard, then changes her mind. She redeems a joker, then has second thoughts. She discards a tile, then has a change of heart and wants to take it back. What next? Would she take a bite from an apple and then want the grocer to take it back because it was the wrong variety? Would she make a right turn, then wave her hand out the window and expect all other drivers on the road to wait while she does a U-turn? "Do-over!"
Every mah-jongg player needs to understand that there are only a very few times when the rules say she is allowed to change her mind.
A player should assume that, other than the specific instances above, she is not permitted to change her mind once she has acted. It's a four-player game. Each of us has a responsibility to be considerate of the other three players. Second-thinking should be an internal process; the second- and third-thinking of a decision should take place entirely inside the mind, before the player allows the decision to be spoken aloud or acted upon. It's only fair. It's only good etiquette.
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Question or comment about this column? I often, um... intentionally... "miss" something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it! Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board. Like this...
Speaking the discard's name
>Sent: Saturday, April 15, 2017 2:23 PM
>Subject: MJ question please
>I love your website and I refer to it often and I know you update when there is an adjustment to a rule.
>I'm noticing in the column below it says "not yet spoken the tile's name in full", my response from the NMJL dated 10/6/2016 says "even if the tile is partially named, it is considered verbalized and you can't change your mind. The tile is considered down once you have verbalized". Of course, I think it's much fairer to say "fully named" but I don't make the rules.
>Discarding a tile: you may change your mind if you have not yet spoken the tile's name in full; you may change your mind if the tile has not yet touched the table. But once you have done either of those things, you have committed to the action.
I'm with you; the League is too strict on this point. If I say "S..." you have no idea what I was about to say. If my thumb is obscuring the tile's design, you can't know if I'm holding a six dot or seven dot or six bam or seven bam or six crak or seven crak or south or soap. If I suddenly spy a redeemable joker on somebody's rack, I can easily say, "Say, Mabel, may I have that joker, please?" It sounds like I just stuttered a bit.
If I had said, "Sou..." you know I was discarding south, and it's too late to take it back. That's fair. I suppose now I have to backtrack on what I said in column 499, hmm?
FAQ 19-A already has a disclaimer about this rule. Tell you what: I'll append this conversation to the column. That should cover it!
May the tiles be with you.
Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
Los Angeles, California, USA
April 15, 2017
October 2010 article on American mah jongg's rise in popularity, from the WALL STREET JOURNAL:
There's a movie of the WSJ story too -- just click the Video tab on the above page, or go to http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703631704575552683266650568.html ?mod=WSJ_hpp_RIGHTTopCarousel_2#articleTabs%3Dvideo.
Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.
Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book in existence about the American game. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the official rulebook from the NMJL (see FAQ 3). Linda Fisher's website is the only website that describes American rules: http://sites.google.com/site/mahjrules/.
© 2011 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.