(A few but not all Japanese mah-jongg terms are listed here, for the convenience of players of other forms of mah-jongg. Click this link for a full glossary of Japanese Mah-Jongg terms.)
* All-Chow Hand - Hand that contains four chows and a pair. Not necessarily an alternate term for "Pin Huu" (see).
* American Mah-Jongg - Probably more properly called "Modern American Mah-Jongg," to distinguish it from other forms called "American." Characterized by a double Charleston, 152 tiles (including 8 jokers), the use of flowers in the hand, no chows, and the use by all players of a card which changes every year.
* Announcing - In American and Western mah-jongg, when a player discards a tile, s/he must say its name audibly. Some players of the Chinese game may also use this practice.
* Arabic numerals - The numbering system used in the West (1, 2, 3, etc.). Mah-jongg sets made for use in Asia are made without Arabic numerals. Sets made for export are made with Arabic numerals.
* Babcock, Joseph P. - American businessman and entrepreneur who first wrote the rules for Mah-Jongg in English and introduced the game to the United States, in 1920.
* Baht - Cantonese term for White Dragon. This explains why there is sometimes a B on this tile. Mandarin: Bai-ban. Some Chinese dialects may pronounce the name with a P sound rather than a B sound. Japanese: Haku (white).
* Bakelite - A composite material that was at one time used in the manufacture of tiles. For more information, see http://beachsite.com/majexchange/id.htm.
* Balls - Alternate name for the suit of "Dots" (see).
* Bamboo - One of the three suits in the mah-jongg set. The suit is comprised of tiles numbered from One to Nine (there are four of each tile). Most of the tiles are green, so the set is sometimes referred to as "jade." Many American players shorten the suit name to "Bam." The emblems on the tiles resemble either strings of coins or sticks of bamboo. The One Bam usually resembles a bird (a sparrow or peacock).
* Base Points - In Chinese, Japanese, and Western scoring, the hand is awarded points for pungs, kongs, and other attributes. The base points are then doubled for certain special attributes. See also "Doubles."
* Bettor - (1) An alternate name for "Wind Marker" (see), when used by a person betting on the game. (2) A person betting on who will win the game.
* Bird - Alternate name for the "One Bam" tile.
* Blanks - Some mah-jongg sets come with extra blank tiles which can be used as replacements in case a tile is broken or lost. Some mah-jongg sets (especially Japanese sets and older Chinese sets) use blank tiles as White Dragons.
* Blind pass - In Western and American mah-jongg, the first left pass and the last right pass may be passed "blind." The player who cannot bear to part with 3 tiles from the hand has the option of taking tiles passed by another, and passing them unseen. Sometimes called "stealing."
* Bone and bamboo - Materials sometimes used in the manufacture of mah-jongg tiles.
* Bouquet - Having all four Flowers (1, 2, 3, 4) - or all four Seasons (1, 2, 3, 4). Applies only to Chinese and Western mah-jongg. The Flowers must be distinguishable from the Seasons (either by different-colored kanji or by some other means).
* Breaking the wall - After the dice are rolled by the dealer, the dice count is used to determine where the dealing of tiles will begin. Roughly analogous to "cutting the deck" in a card game. This process prevents cheating by randomizing where the deal starts. In all forms of mah-jongg except American, the dice tell not only where in the wall to make the break, but also which wall to break.
* C - Abbreviation for "Concealed." No exposures made prior to declaring mah-jongg.
* Call - What a player does when claiming a discard. The player speaks up and takes the discarded tile. In Asian forms of mah-jongg, the player usually states the type of exposure being made ("pung" or "chow"), but in American mah-jongg, the player might only say "Call," or "I want that."
* Calling - When the hand is complete except for one tile, the hand is "calling" or "fishing" or "waiting" or "ready." Usage: "The player's hand was ready; the player was calling for a One or Four Dot."
* Card - In American Maj, players must make hands listed on a special card, which is changed each year. The American Mah-Jongg Association [tm] and the National Mah Jongg League [tm] publish such cards.
* Carrying Pole - Alternate name for the "Two Bam" tile.
* Catalin - A plastic used in the manufacture of older tile sets. For more information, see http://beachsite.com/majexchange/id.htm.
* Celluloid - A plastic used in the manufacture of older tile sets.
* Characters - Alternate name for the suit of "Craks" (see).
* Charleston - Named for a dance craze in the 1920s, when Mah-Jongg first became popular in the United States. Mah-Jongg procedure -- a special elaborate "dance" in which the players exchange tiles before play begins. (1) American. There are two Charlestons. First Charleston (mandatory) is 3 passes: 3 tiles right, then 3 tiles across, then 3 tiles left. Second Charleston (optional; may be stopped by any player) is also 3 passes: 3 tiles left, then 3 tiles across, then 3 tiles right. (2) Western. The Charleston may or may not be used. If used, first Charleston is mandatory. Then there may also be an optional "Ding Dong" (see).
* Chi - Japanese term for "chow" (see).
* Chicken Hand - A hand which scores no doubles. A zero-fan hand.
* Chinese Classical Mah-Jongg - The form of mah-jongg played in China in the early part of the Twentieth Century. Analogous to the card game Rummy; characterized by a small number of special hands, and a scoring system similar to that used in Western mah-jongg (see).
* Chinese Mah-Jongg Contest Rules - For several decades, mah-jongg was banned in mainland China. The Chinese government recently realized they couldn't stop the people from playing mah-jongg, so they created a strict set of rules. At the time of this writing, not many details are available in English.
* Chips - Round plastic chips or bone sticks, used to keep score during a game.
* Chow - (1) Noun. A sequence of three tiles in a row (such as 1-2-3 or 5-6-7), in one suit. (2) Verb. To take a tile for form a sequence. Used in all forms of mah-jongg except American.
* Chung - Chinese term for Red Dragon. See, that's why there's a C on those tiles sometimes. It all makes sense! Japanese: Chun.
* Circles - Alternate name for the suit of "Dots" (see).
* Claim - When one player discards a tile, if another player wants it to complete a grouping or to win, that other player must verbally claim the discarded tile. See also "Take."
* Clean Hand - All the tiles in the hand are one suit, and there are Winds or Dragons in the hand. See also "Pure Hand" and "Cleared-hand game."
* Clear Hand - Cantonese term for "Pure" (see meaning 1). Also: "Clear Door."
* Cleared-hand game - Optional Western rule under which all players' hands must be Clean, with no more than one Chow in the hand.
* Cold wall - An optional table rule in American Mah-Jongg. When the last few stacks (either an arbitrary number of stacks or the last stacks remaining in front of the dealer) are in play, players are not allowed to claim discards for exposures (only for Mah-Jongg).
* Composite - A term for materials used in the manufacture of some older tile sets. For more information, see http://beachsite.com/majexchange/id.htm.
* Concealed Hand - When you have 13 tiles in your hand (no exposed/melded groupings) and go Out on a discarded tile.
* Concealed Kong - All forms of mah-jongg except American. A kong being considered one of the four groupings making up "four groupings and a pair," the tile count is in disrepair if the hand contains four of a kind. Therefore the player can take a loose tile to repair the tile count, by means of exposing the kong. So as not to ruin the hand's "concealed" status and so as to garner the base points for the kong being concealed, this special kind of kong is shown with two tiles turned face-down. This kong is technically regarded as being "concealed" even though all players can see it.
* Corresponding Dragons - The three Dragons correspond to the three suits. Red = Craks (Ruby). Green = Bamboo (Jade). White = Dots (Pearls).
* Counters - Alternate name for "Chips" (see).
* Courtesy - Alternate name for "Optional Pass" (see). Not to be confused with the "Curtsey" (see).
* Craks - One of the three suits in the mah-jongg set. The suit is comprised of tiles numbered from One to Nine (there are four of each tile). The tiles are red, so the set is sometimes referred to as "ruby." The Chinese character at the bottom of the tile stands for "Ten thousand." The Chinese character at the top of the tile is the number (one to nine). The name "craks" undoubtedly is an American shortening of the word "characters."
* Curtsey or Curtsy - American/Western. The practice of angling one's wall in towards the center of the table for easy reach of all players.
* Daily Double - An optional rule used in Western and American Maj. The number rolled by the first dealer is designated as the "daily double" -- whenever that same number is rolled again, the winner of that hand earns double.
* Dangerous Tile - See "Hot Tile."
* Dead - (1) A hand which has an error in it (wrong number of tiles, or invalid exposures) is dead. (2) A tile which was discarded prior to the previous player's turn is dead. (3) A joker which has been discarded is dead ("down is dead").
* Dead Wall - In most Asian forms of mah-jongg, the last 14 tiles in the wall are not used in play. The last 7 stacks then form the "dead wall." Also known as "the King's Hand."
* Dealer - The player who rolls the dice and breaks the wall and throws out the first tile. Designated "East" in all forms of mah-jongg.
* Dealing machine - A special table, used in Japanese mah-jongg. The machine contains two sets of tiles: one on top and one inside. At the end of a hand, a player presses a button on the top of the table, a hole opens up, and all the tiles are pushed in. The button is pressed again, and four walls of 17 stacks are raised up so the next hand can begin. Some newer machines may be usable to play Chinese mah-jongg with flowers (requiring walls whose length is 18 stacks), but it is doubtful that any machines have been built which are suitable for the American game (the walls in American mah-jongg are 19 stacks long).
* Decals - The American game requires 152 tiles to comprise a complete set. (The regular 144-tile set plus eight jokers.) Many sets (especially older sets) do not come with that many tiles, so players must obtain extra tiles which match the other tiles in the set, and apply joker stickers or decals.
* Declare - When your hand is complete, you must so declare. Nobody will know you're the winner if you don't say something and/or expose all your tiles!
* Declared Kong - Alternate term for "exposed kong." Some players make a further distinction between "declared concealed" and "declared exposed" kongs.
* Ding Dong - Western game. Optional procedure. After the Charleston, each player passes one tile to the other players. Whether there will be a Ding Dong or not is up to the dealer to decide.
* Discard - (1) Noun. The last move in a normal turn. Player must get rid of one tile by placing it face-up on the table. (2) Verb. A tile which has been placed on the table.
* Dogging - American game. Practice of breaking up the hand in such a way as not to give a win to another player, especially by means of discarding jokers.
* Dora - A special bonus tile in the Japanese game. Short for "dragon."
* Dots - One of the three suits in the mah-jongg set. The suit is comprised of tiles numbered from One to Nine (there are four of each tile). The tiles are circular, so the set is sometimes referred to as "pearls." This suit undoubtedly evolved from Chinese cards on which coins were depicted.
* Double East - All forms of mah-jongg except American. Dealer in the East round can earn a double (a "fan") for being the East player, AND a double for it being the East round. Both the Own Wind double AND the Round Wind double apply, thus the player is "Double East." Also: Double South, Double West, Double North.
* Doubles - After the base score is determined, doubles (in Asian forms, "fan") are applied. The player's score may be doubled once or twice or even more, depending on the rules in play.
* Double Dice - Some Western and American players use an optional rule in which the score is doubled if the dice both show the same number when rolled by the dealer.
* Down - A fine point in the American rules. A discard is "down" when its name has been announced or the tile touches the tabletop, whichever happens first. Before the discard is down, no player can claim it. After the discard is down, it is too late for the discarder to change his/her mind or to redeem a joker or change an exposure.
* Dragons - The White, Green, and Red Dragons make part of the "honor tiles" in a mah-jongg set. In Chinese, Western, and Japanese rules, having a pung of dragons doubles the score.
* Draw - To take a tile from the wall (alternate term: "Pick").
* Draw Game - Alternate term for "Wall Game" (see).
* Earthly Hand - When a player completes a hand and wins on the dealer's first discard.
* East - (1) One of the four Wind tiles in a mah-jongg set. (See "Winds.") (2) The dealer. (3) The first round in a game (all forms of mah-jongg except American).
* Eat - Alternate term for "Take" (see).
* Exposed hand - If the player has exposed any tiles (claimed a discard to form a pung, kong, quint, or chow), the hand is said to be Exposed.
* Exposure - If the player claims a discard to form a pung, kong, quint, or chow, the completed grouping must be laid down face-up for all to see. This is called an "exposure." In this manual, the term "meld" is used interchangeably.
* Exposure in error - Especially in American mah-jongg, a player might mistakenly make an exposure which clearly shows that the player's hand does not match anything on the card.
* Faht - Cantonese term for the Green Dragon. Now you know why sometimes this tile has an F on it! Japanese: Hatsu.
* False Declaration - It sometimes happens that a player declares mah-jongg with an invalid hand. Perhaps the hand does not properly match one on the card (American), or perhaps the hand was exposed when it should properly have been concealed. Perhaps the hand does not meet the minimum "fan" requirement (Chinese, Japanese).
* Fan - Alternate name for "Doubles" (see). Pronounced "fahn."
* Feed - To discard a tile which someone else can use, especially for a win.
* Fishing - Alternate term for "Calling" (see).
* Flower - (1) In the Chinese and Western game, four tiles which are treated as bonus tiles. (2) In the Japanese game, those extra tiles that come with some sets but nobody ever uses them. (3) In the American game, eight tiles which are used in several hands on the card. Flower tiles may depict flowers or Chinese historical events or personages, or animals or boats or buildings. See also "Seasons."
* Flower Replacements - Chinese and Western games. Since flowers (and seasons) are bonus tiles (not used in the hand), replacement tiles (AKA "loose tiles") must be taken from the back end of the wall when the flowers are exposed.
* Flower Wall - Alternate term for "Dead Wall," when flower replacements are taken from the dead wall.
* Frish - Optional American procedure. A player who gets a really lousy deal can request a redeal.
* Fully Concealed Hand - When you have 13 tiles in your hand (no melded groupings) and go Out on a self-drawn 14th tile.
* Fully Concealed Kong - Four of a kind, contained in the tiles of the hand and not exposed for other players to see. Unless playing American rules, or a rule set that allows Pairs hands that allows identical pairs, a fully concealed kong probably causes problems with the tile count and should be declared (exposed as a "concealed kong") in order to repair the tile count of the hand. Also called an "undeclared kong."
* Future - Alternate term for "Picking ahead" (see).
* Game - (1) In the Chinese and Western games, four rounds make a game. (2) In the Japanese game, a game consists of one or two rounds. (3) In the American game, each hand is considered a "game" unto itself.
* Garden Wall - Alternate name for "Flower Wall" (see).
* Goolie - Alternate name for "Kitty" in the Western game (see).
* Go Pie - American. When a player uses all of the money in her "pie," she is said to "go pie." What happens after that point may be subject to table rules, but most players allow a player who has gone pie to continue playing for free until and unless she starts winning again.
* Go To The Wall - Alternate term for "Wall Game" (see).
* Goulash - Western rules. Procedure for what to do after a Wall Game (see).
* Great Wall - Alternate term for "Wall" (see).
* Green Bams - The 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 tiles in the suit of Bams. These tiles use no colors other than green.
* Grouping - A term used in this dictionary to encompass groups of identical tiles -- i.e. pairs, pungs, kongs, quints, and chows. An "exposable" grouping would then be a pung, kong, quint, or chow, since pairs cannot be exposed prior to declaring mah-jongg.
* Hand - (1) The 13 or 14 tiles in front of each player. (2) The course of play in which one player deals one hand of tiles to each player, and play proceeds through until a player wins or a "wall game" occurs.
* Head - Alternate term for "Pillow" (see).
* Heavenly Hand - When a player has a complete winning hand on the initial deal.
* Hinge - Optional way of setting up a wall in Western mah-jongg, when only 4 jokers are used. The resulting extra two stacks are placed in a corner of the table as a "hinge" between two walls.
* Hong Kong Mah-Jongg - The form of mah-jongg most commonly played in Hong Kong. Very similar to Chinese Classical but the scoring system is simpler.
* Honors - A term used in a variety of ways by different mah-jongg authors. (1) Winds and Dragons. (2) Winds, Dragons, and Terminals. (3) Dragons. (4) Red Dragons.
* Hop Toi - The practice of dealing a pair from the end of one wall and the end of the next wall, at the corner of the table. In some rules, it is forbidden for anyone except the owner of those tiles to touch them (even the "curtsy" must not occur until the owner has taken the Hop Toi tiles), and some special significance is attached if flowers are among the Hop Toi tiles.
* Hot tile - (1) A tile which has not appeared among the discards and the wall is getting short. (A "raw tile.") (2) A tile which has not appeared among the discards in a long time, and the wall is getting short. (3) A tile which is likely to be desired by a particular player, judging by that player's exposures.
* Hot wall - Optional procedure in American mah-jongg. Defined as either the last stacks in front of the dealer or an arbitrary number of stacks, when these stacks are in play, the discarder who gives someone a win must pay for all players. Optionally, the discarder is exempt from the penalty if it can be shown that the discard was reasonably "safe" (see) -- i.e., the tile was not a "hot tile" (see).
* House rules - Alternate name for "table rules" (see).
* Impure - Opposite of "pure." Depending on rule book in use, "impure" may mean: (1) Hand composed of mixed suits. (2) Hand contains too many or too few tiles.
* Ivory - Some ivory sets do exist, but most of the time if you have an antique set that you believe to be made of ivory, it's probably actually bone. To learn more about how to tell the difference between ivory and bone tiles, see http://beachsite.com/majexchange/id.htm or http://members.aol.com/pungchw3/mj168-01.htm.
* Jade - Western term for hands formed with "Green Bams" (see) and Green Dragons.
* Japanese Classical - A seldom-played form of mah-jongg roughly similar to Chinese Classical, but with extra features added.
* Japanese Modern - The form of mah-jongg played in Japan today. Characterized by the use of 136 tiles, orderly placement of the discards, numerous special hands ("yaku"), "Reach," and "Dora."
* Jewel Hands - Hands which use particular tiles of one suit, together with the dragon associated with (corresponding to) that suit. Primarily a feature of Western mah-jongg but becoming accepted by some players of some Chinese games.
* Joker - American and Western rules (possibly used by some players of the Chinese game). A powerful "wild tile" which can represent any other tile in a pung, kong, quint, or chow.
* Jokerless - American rules. A hand which contains pungs or kongs and yet contains no jokers earns double the normal score.
* Kan - Japanese term for "Kong" (see).
* Kanji - a Japanese word, sometimes used in this glossary to refer to Chinese writing.
* Kards - A deck of cards with which mah-jongg can be played. Spelled with a K to distinguish it from the American "card" (see).
* King - Some decks of Chinese kards (see) come with extra "King" kards. Used as jokers (see).
* King's Hand - Alternate name for "Dead wall" (see).
* Kitty - (1) Optional Western procedure; players pool a predetermined sum, and it is won by a player who wins with an all-pung hand. (2) Optional American procedure; players contribute a dime to the kitty whenever there is a wall game.
* Knitted Pung - Western rules. Same-number tile in each suit (for example, a Four Bam, a Four Dot, and a Four Crak). Not an exposable grouping.
* Kong - (1) Noun. Four identical tiles. In games in which jokers are used, jokers can comprise from one to four of the tiles in the grouping. In all forms of mah-jongg except American, a kong is treated the same as a pung, so a replacement tile must be taken to maintain the proper tile count in the hand. (2) Verb. To create a four-of-a-kind exposure.
* Kong Box - (1) Alternate name for "Flower Wall" (see). (2) Eight stacks, set aside specifically for replacement tiles for kongs.
* Kong Replacements - Chinese and Western games. Since kongs are treated as pungs, replacement tiles (AKA "loose tiles") must be taken from the back end of the wall when the kongs are created (so as to maintain the proper number of tiles in the hand).
* Limit - An arbitrary cap to the amount of points a player can earn in the Chinese and Western games.
* Loose Tile - Tile drawn from the back of the wall (to replace a tile lost from the hand to meld a Kong, or when exposing a Season or Flower).
* Lower Seat - The player who goes after you in the order of play (the player on your right).
* Mah Que - (1) Cantonese spelling of "mah-jongg." Pronounced: "mah cheuk." (2) Alternate name for "pair" (see).
* Mah-Jongg - (1) The name given to the game by Joseph P. Babcock in 1920 when he introduced the game to the United States. Many other spellings may be used elsewhere. In Chinese, the game may be called "mah cheuk," "mah que," or "majiang." (2) When a player "goes Mah-Jongg," the player wins the hand. Alternate term for "Out."
* Mah-Jongg Masters Millions Rules [tm] - A form of mah-jongg created in recent years in order to enable players of some forms of mah-jongg to play together in tournaments.
* Maj - American abbreviation of "mah-jongg." Sometimes: "Mahj." Pronounced with a soft J ("zh" sound).
* Majan - Japanese spelling of "mah-jongg." Pronounced with a hard J.
* Majiang - Mandarin spelling of "mah-jongg." Pronounced with a hard J.
* Maj In Error - Alternate name for "False Declaration" (see).
* Manzu - Japanese name for the suit of "craks."
* Maximum Hand - Alternate term for "Limit" (see).
* Meld - (1) To expose a tile grouping (pung, kong, quint, or chow) when taking a discard. (2) An exposed tile grouping.
* Mish - American game. Optional procedure. After the two Charlestons and after the Courtesy, players may put any number of unwanted tiles into the center of the table, mix them up, and take back the same number put in.
* Mixed Hand - (1) Hong Kong. Alternate term for "Clean Hand" (see). (2) Western. Having tiles from different suits in the hand.
* Moon - Alternate name for the "One Dot" tile.
* Nan - Chinese for "South."
* Natural - Alternate name for "jokerless" (see).
* NEWS - (1) American term for "Winds" (see). (2) A section on an American card where hands utilizing mostly Wind tiles are listed. (3) Hands in the Western game that include one of each Wind tile.
* New Style - See "Shanghai New Style."
* Nine Pieces Warning - Hong Kong rule. If a player makes three exposures in one suit, players should be cautious about discarding tiles in that suit. The player with the three exposures is supposed to verbalize a warning. Then, if a player discards a tile in that suit and it results in a Pure or Clean hand, the discarder must pay a penalty. In Shanghai's Chinese game, you hear a warning when someone exposes "nine pieces," but there is no penalty.
* Non-Scoring Hand - Alternate name for "pin huu" (see).
* No-Points Hand - Alternate name for "pin huu" (see).
* North - (1) One of the four Winds tiles in a mah-jongg set. (2) The fourth player; the player to the dealer's left (some American players may not adhere to this usage). (3) The fourth and last round in a game (Chinese and Western rules).
* One Bird - Alternate name for the "One Bam" tile.
* One Chance Chow - Filling a Chow with the one possible tile. For example, if you have a 6 and an 8, and you go Out on a 7, or if you have an 8 and a 9, and you go Out on a 7.
* Opening the wall - Alternate term for "Breaking the wall" (see).
* Optional Pass - American. After the Charleston is complete, players may optionally pass up to 3 tiles across.
* Out - When a player "goes Out," the player wins the hand. Alternate term for "Going Mah-Jongg."
* Own Flower (Own Season) - Chinese and Western rules. Seats correspond to the numbers on the Flower and Season tiles thusly: E=1, S=2, W=3, N=4. So if your seat is South, and you get a Flower or Season with a 2 on it, you earn a Double if you go Out.
* Own Wind - All forms of mah-jongg except American. Having a pung or kong of the Wind tile which corresponds to your seat position. For example, if you are the dealer and you have a pung of East. (See "Seat Wind.")
* Pai - The Asian term for a "tile." Pronounced "pie."
* Pair - Two identical tiles. In American mah-jongg, a pair can be comprised of flowers (or one flower can be paired with one season).
* Pair Hand - (1) All forms of mah-jongg except Taiwanese and Philippine. A hand comprised of seven pairs rather than the usual "four sets and a pair." (Note: four sets and a pair is not necessarily "usual" in the American game, but you get the idea.) (2) Taiwanese rules. A hand comprised of seven pairs and a pung instead of the usual "five sets and a pair." (Unknown, at the time of this writing, if such hands exist under Philippine rules.)
* Pass - (1) One of the moves in the Charleston, in which 1, 2, or 3 tiles are given face-down to another player. (2) "Passing" is an alternate term for "Charleston" (see).
* Payment to all - Chinese and Western rules. Not only the winner earns points. When this rule is used, first the winner's hand is scored, and all players pay the winner. Then, non-winners compare their scores and settle up accordingly (the winner is not involved in that settling-up).
* Pearls - Alternate name for the suit of "Dots" (see), especially when Jewel hands (see) are part of the rules in use.
* Pei - Chinese term for "North." Also "Bei" (depending on dialect).
* Philippine Mah-Jongg - A form of mah-jongg in which a hand consists of 16 tiles (rather than 13), and in which Winds and Dragons are treated as Flowers.
* Phoenix - Japanese game. When all players have won a hand, the yakitori markers are turned face-up again.
* Pick - To take a tile from the wall (alternate term: "draw").
* Picking Ahead - Optional procedure used by advanced players. Normally, players take turns playing. Player 1 picks and discards, then Player 2 picks and discards, and so on. When "picking ahead," a player does not wait for the previous player to discard before picking a tile from the wall. Can result in conflicts, which the players have to be prepared to deal with.
* Pie - (1) In American mah-jongg, the amount of money each player brings to the table. Usually $5 or $10. (2) Alternate spelling of "pai" (see).
* Pillow - All forms of mah-jongg except American. In those forms of mah-jongg, a hand is normally comprised of "four sets and a pair." The pair is sometimes referred to as the "pillow."
* Pinfu - Japanese spelling of "pin huu" (see).
* Pin huu - All forms of mah-jongg except American. A hand which is special by dint of its being practically worthless. All chows with a valueless pair. Depending on the rules in use, the winning tile might be required to be a tile to complete a two-way call (if it's a one-chance call, then pin huu is not earned). Also called "no points" or "non-scoring hand" by some authors.
* Pin wu - Alternate name for "pin huu" (see).
* Pinzu - Japanese name for the suit of "Dots" (see).
* Pivot - American term. It is desirable to alter seating positions every so often, so as to vary the Charleston. Every two rounds, the first dealer switches seats ("rotates") with the player on the right.
* Plum Blossom - Alternate term for the "Five Dot" tile.
* Pon - Japanese term for "pung" (see).
* Prevailing Wind - Round Wind (see).
* Pung - (1) Noun. A group of three identical tiles. In games in which jokers are used, jokers may comprise one, two, or three of the tiles in the grouping. (2) Verb. To take a discarded tile to form a triplet.
* Pure Hand - May be defined differently, depending on the rule book in use. (1) All the tiles in the hand are one suit. There are absolutely no Winds or Dragons in the hand. Opposites: "clean" or "mixed." (2) The hand has the correct number of tiles. Opposite: "impure."
* Quad - Alternate name for "Kong."
* Quint - American game. Noun. Five identical tiles. Since there are only four of every tile (excepting Flowers), jokers are expected to exist in a quint. The quint can include up to five jokers, in fact.
* Racked - American term. When a player has drawn a tile from the wall and placed it among the tiles in the hand.
* Racks - American sets come with racks upon which the hand tiles are placed, and a flat top upon which exposures are placed. Asian players play without racks (the tiles are stood on end; exposures are placed to the side or between the hand and the wall).
* Raw tile - A tile which has not yet been discarded. Probably a Hong Kong term.
* Razzle - Alternate name for "Charleston" (specifically, the first Charleston).
* Reach - Japanese term. A special procedure used when the hand is concealed and "ready" (see).
* Ready - (1) Alternate term for "Calling" (see). (2) Alternate term for "Reach" (see).
* Red Bams - The 1, 5, 7, and 9 tiles in the suit of Bams. These tiles all have (or ought to have) some red paint on them somewhere. Used in Jewel hands (see).
* Redeeming a Joker - Procedure for taking exposed jokers from another player's rack. If you win by redeeming a joker, it is regarded as "self-pick" (see) -- the player from whom you acquired the joker did not "feed" you the win.
* Reverse Counting - the practice of counting from the other end of the wall, when the number rolled is greater than half the number of stacks in the wall. In games in which flowers are used and jokers are not used, the wall is 18 stacks long. If the dealer rolls 12, it's quicker to count 6 stacks from the other end than it is to count 12 stacks from the normal end.
* River - Japanese term for the neatly-placed discards, which can be viewed to see a history of the game (called "Reading the river"). Only in Japanese mah-jongg are the discards placed neatly in this fashion (in all other forms of mah-jongg, the discards are placed haphazardly).
* Robbing the Kong - If a player draws a tile which he adds to a melded Pung, and another player can use that tile to go Out immediately, that player can claim the tile, go Out, and double his score.
* Roman Letters - The Western alphabet. Tiles made for use in Asia do not have the Roman letters E, S, W, N on them, for example. If you have an Asian tile set, you have to be able to recognize the kanji (the Chinese characters).
* Roof Off - Playing without a Limit.
* Rotation - see "Pivot."
* Round - When the deal has passed all the way around the table.
* Rounding Before Doubles - If a player's score is not divisible by ten, then the score is rounded up to the next multiple of ten (if the score is 48, it's rounded up to 50). Then that number is doubled as applicable.
* Round Wind - All forms of mah-jongg except American. Each round is associated with a wind, in the order East, South, West, North. This order of the winds derives from the Chinese. In the spring (season #1), the wind comes from the east. In the summer, the wind comes from the south. In the autumn, the wind comes from the west, and in the winter, the wind comes from the north.
* Ruby - A term used when Jewel hands (see) are part of the rules in use. (1) A hand made with "Red Bams" (see) and Red Dragons. (2) A hand made with Craks and Red Dragons ("Ruby Crack").
* Safe tile - A tile which, judging by the discards and exposures and one's own tiles, is safe to discard.
* Seasons - (1) In the Chinese and Western game, four tiles which are distinguished from the Flowers, but are used in the same way, as bonus tiles. (2) In the American game, "Seasons" are "Flowers" with season names written on them. Seasons are not used in the Japanese game.
* Seat Wind - The wind associated with the player's wind position. Each seat is associated with a wind, in the order East, South, West, North. This order of the winds derives from the Chinese. In the spring (season #1), the wind comes from the east. In the summer (season #2), the wind comes from the south. In the autumn, the wind comes from the west, and in the winter, the wind comes from the north. Since mah-jongg is played counter-clockwise, the seat positions when viewed from above do not correspond to actual compass directions. Some American players may assign seat positions according to actual compass directions, rather than in the traditional manner described herein.
* Self-pick - To win on a tile drawn from the wall.
* Sequence - (1) Alternate term for "chow" (see). (2) In the American game, a "sequence hand" is comprised of sequential pungs, kongs, quints, and/or pairs.
* Set - A full set of mah-jongg tiles is either 136, 144, or 152 tiles and at least two dice. Some sets may come with extra tiles, racks, chips, and extra dice.
* 7-pair Hands - Alternate term for "Pair Hands" (see).
* Sha - Japanese term for "West." Chinese: Sai, Hsi, Syi (depending on dialect and Romanization used).
* Shanghai - (1) The city from where J.P. Babcock first exported mah-jongg sets to the United States. (2) Activision's trademarked name for a solitaire game played with mah-jongg tiles. (4) A card game similar to Rummy.
* Shanghai New Style - A form of mah-jongg which uses scoring similar to that used in Hong Kong mah-jongg, combined with special hands similar to those used in the Japanese game. Also called simply "New Style."
* Simples - The suit tiles numbered from two through eight.
* Singapore Style Mah-Jongg - A form of mah-jongg in which special Flower tiles can be used to capture one another (Cat tile captures Rat tile, Fisherman captures Fish, Old Man captures Pot of Gold, etc.).
* Soap - American term for the "White Dragon" tile.
* South - (1) One of the four Wind tiles in a mah-jongg set. (See "Winds.") (2) The player to the right of the dealer (some American players may not adhere to this usage). (3) The second round in a game (all forms of mah-jongg except American).
* Sozu - Japanese name for the suit of "Dots" (see)
* Stealing - Alternate name for "blind passing" (see).
* Sticks - (1) Bone chips or plastic sticks that come with some mah-jongg sets, used in scoring the game. (2) Alternate name for the suit of "Bams" (see).
* Suit - Tiles numbered from one through nine which all bear the same symbol. See "Craks," "Bams," and "Dots." In the Western and American games, Dragons are associated with suits. Green Dragons are considered part of the suit of Bams ("Jade"). Red Dragons are considered part of the suit of Craks ("Ruby"). White Dragons are considered part of the suit of Dots ("Pearls").
* Sweep - Making a Pung or Kong or Chow from East's first discard.
* Table rules - Rules used by a group of players which may not be identical to the rules used by another group of players. It is not unusual for each and every table to use some slight variation of the rules used by other tables. Tom Sloper, producer of Activision's Shanghai games, has a theory: "When mah-jongg was first created and then was played at a second table, a second set of rules probably sprang up right then and there!"
* Tai - Taiwanese. Probably means "points" or "fan" (see) interchangeably.
* Tail - An optional method of setting up the Wall. Because American racks are often shorter than the 19-stack walls, some players take the extra tiles and arrange them into a short "tail."
* Taiwanese Mah-Jongg - A form of mah-jongg characterized by hands of 16 tiles rather than 13. Scoring and special hands roughly analogous to the Modern Japanese game.
* Take - To take a tile that was just discarded. In mah-jongg, a discard can only be taken to complete a grouping or the hand. The price for taking a discarded tile to make a grouping is that the completed grouping must be exposed for all to see.
* Tenpai - Japanese term for "calling" (see).
* Ten Thousand - Alternate name for the suit of "Craks" (see).
* Terminals - The suit tiles numbered One and Nine (the tiles at each end of a suit).
* Throw - Alternate term for "Discard" (see).
* Tile count - (1) The number of tiles used on the table, if flowers and jokers are not included, is 136. (2) The number of tiles used on the table, if flowers are used but jokers are not used, is 144. (3) The number of tiles used on the table, if both flowers and jokers are used, is 152. (4) All forms of mah-jongg except Taiwanese and Philippine. The number of tiles in the hand, when it is not your turn, is 13. On your turn, your tile count becomes 14, at least momentarily. (5) Taiwanese and Philippine mah-jongg. The number of tiles in the hand, when it is not your turn, is 16. On your turn, your tile count becomes 17, at least momentarily.
* Tong - Chinese term for "East." Also Tung, Thung, Dung. Japanese: Ton.
* Trades - A term for certain special Flower tiles which depict tradesmen. If your set has Trades, just use them as Flowers.
* Triple - Alternate name for "Pung" (see).
* Turn - The course of play during which a player picks a tile from the wall (or takes a discard from the table) and then discards a tile. Between picking and discarding, other events may occur -- the player may take a loose tile (Chinese, Western, Japanese) or the player may redeem a joker (American, Western).
* Upper Seat - The player who plays before you in the order of play (the player at your left).
* Vietnamese Mah-Jongg - A form of mah-jongg that utilizes 160 tiles. Little is known about this form, at the time of this writing.
* Waiting - Alternate term for "Calling" (see).
* Wall - A row of two-tile-high stacks of tiles. In the course of setting up a game, each player builds a wall on his/her side of the table. When 136 tiles are used (as in the Japanese game, or when not using Flowers in the Chinese and Western games), the wall is 17 stacks long. When 144 tiles are used (when using Flowers in the Chinese and Western games), the wall is 18 stacks long. When 152 tiles are used (when 8 Jokers are used in Western and American mah-jongg), the wall is 19 stacks long. See also "Tail" and "Hinge."
* Wall Game - When the tiles in the wall are gone and nobody has won.
* Wan - Alternate name for the suit of "Craks" (see).
* West - (1) One of the four Wind tiles in a mah-jongg set. (See "Winds.") (2) The player across from the dealer. (3) The third round in a game (Chinese and Western games).
* Western Mah-Jongg - A blend of Chinese and American rules. Same scoring system as Chinese, uses flowers and chows as the Chinese do, but there is an optional Charleston, and a card of numerous special hands (50-80) which stay the same (the card does not change from year to year as in American).
* Wind Marker - Usually a round marker that comes with the mah-jongg set. In all forms of mah-jongg except American, the marker is used to denote the "Prevailing Wind" (see). In American mah-jongg, used by the bettor to indicate which player s/he thinks will win the hand.
* Winds - The East, South, West, and North tiles in a mah-jongg set. In all forms of mah-jongg except American, the Winds are ordered E, S, W, N. American players order the Winds to spell the word "NEWS."
* Woo - (1) Verb. Alternate term for going "Out" or "Going Mah-Jongg." (2) Noun. Some American players refer to non-American mah-jongg as "Woo."
* Wu - Alternate spelling of "Woo." Meaning: "I win."
* X - Abbreviation for "Exposed." Exposures (melds) are made prior to declaring mah-jongg.
* Yakitori - Japanese game. A special marker to denote players who have or have not yet won a hand.
* Zero - The American game sometimes requires a tile to represent a zero (in a number hand or in a year hand). White Dragons are used for this purpose.
Q: I am new to the game of Mah-Jongg: is there a tutorial for learning how to play?
A: There are many ways that players new to the game of Mah-Jongg can learn how to play:
1. This guide: it provides step-by-step information on starting a game, options, and strategies.
2. Rules & Strategy in the Help menu: it also contains step-by-step instructions and information.
3. The Status/Hint Box: once you are in the game, the Status box under the Action bar will display useful information on what actions have taken place in the game and what you need to do. If you click on the box, you will get more helpful hints and information on what you need to do.
4. The Action Bar: the buttons will light up when you can take an action, so keep your eye on it.
5. Suggest A Move: you can either select this in the Help menu or by typing Ctrl-M. The computer will suggest an action for you (it may not ultimately help you win, but it will certainly keep you going...).
6. Context-sensitive information: right-clicking (Macintosh users: Ctrl-clicking) on the tiles (anywhere on the table) will tell you the name of the tile and offer some courses of action.
7. "The sink-or-swim" method: just start a game and click on anything. You'll find out how the game moves by watching other players' actions, watching the Action bar and what buttons light up, and by reading the messages in the Status/Hint box.
Q: How do I know when it's my turn?
A: Look on the screen to see whose name is highlighted in yellow. Also, you will know that it's your turn if you have 14 tiles in your hand. If you're playing online (against other human players), you will know soon enough when the other players hit the Urge button and tell you to "Play." When playing against A. I. opponents offline, it's your turn most of the time.
Q: The game has started, the tiles are dealt, and I have a bunch of tiles in my hand. What do I do next?
A: 1. First, look to see if it's your turn, by looking at your name at the bottom of the screen on the left. (If your name is highlighted in yellow, it's your turn). If it's not your turn, wait for your turn.
2. If it's your turn, then you need to draw and discard a tile. Drawing happens automatically if the player to your left discards a tile that you cannot claim. Look at the Action bar to see which buttons are lit up (the Discard button should be lit and you should have 14 tiles, one of which is highlighted). To discard, click on a tile to select it, and then click on the Discard button or click on the tile again. After discarding a tile, you have three seconds to change your mind. Click on the discarded tile while it's flashing to take it back.
Q: I need to discard a tile. What tile should I discard?
A: 1. Click on the Status/Hint box for additional instructions or more information.
2. First, look at your hand and see what tiles you have in each suit, and which tiles you cannot use to make a Chow, Pung, or Kong (see the explanation of suits, terms, and examples in the manual). Discard a tile that is least useful (that seems to be "by itself") and that you have the least chances of doing something with. For example, if you have a 3 Dot in your hand, and there are three 3 Dot tiles already discarded or in someone's exposed melds, then you will have less chances of making a Pung with your 3 Dot (unless you have Jokers) and you will not have a chance of making a Pair with it. Discard it.
3. If still not sure, click on Suggest a Move in the Help menu. The computer will suggest a tile that you can discard, based on what it "thinks" is a reasonable strategy.
Q: The Pass button is lit up in my Action bar, but I know it's not my turn. What's going on?
A: If you're playing offline (only against A.I. players), that means you can use the tile that has just been discarded. Check what other buttons are lit in the Action bar, and see what action is available. If you don't want to claim that tile, then just click Pass to let the computer know that you're not interested in claiming that tile (see the manual for more information on Claiming Discards) and to let the other players take their turns.
If you're playing online (against other human players), then you need to press the Pass button every time a player discards a tile, to signal that you are not thinking about claiming that tile and to keep the play going. If you don't do that quickly enough, other players will hit the Urge button to tell you to hurry.
Q: Someone discards a tile and I can use it. What do I need to do?
A: 1. First of all, see if it's your turn (the player whose name is highlighted).
2. If it's not your turn, check to see if these buttons on your Action bar are lit: Pung/Triple, Kong/Quad, or Win. If any of them are lit, then check your hand to see where you can use that tile (see this guide for explanations of terms and rules), then click on the button to claim the tile (see the section Claiming Discards in this guide).
3. If it's your turn (if your name is highlighted in yellow), then check to see if these buttons on your Action bar are lit: Chow/Sequence, Pung/Triple, Kong/Quad, and Win. If any of them are lit, then check your hand to see where you can use that tile and click on that button to claim the tile (see this guide for explanations of terms and rules and the Claiming Discards section for rules on claiming discards).
4. If it's not your turn and none of the above-mentioned buttons are lit, then you cannot claim that discarded tile (see Rules & Strategy in the Help menu for more information, or check this guide).
Q: I think I have a winning hand. What do I need to do?
A: It is a good idea to read this guide or the Rules & Strategy prior to starting to play, to see what constitutes a winning hand, and what options apply. If you have already done this, follow the steps below:
1. Check if the Win button is lit up on the Action bar. (But be careful: If you're playing the Chinese Rules and you have selected the False Declaration Penalty option, or if you're playing the American Rules and you have selected the Maj In Error option, the Win button will always be lit, regardless.)
2. If the Win button is lit and False Declaration Penalty option is OFF, then click on Win and "your" voice will declare a win, and the score box will appear.
3. If the Win button is not lit and you think you have a Special Hand, then check the Special Hands section in the manual or on the Reference Card to see if your Special Hand is recognized by the game. If it's not on the list, then the game does not support that hand.
4. If the Win button is not lit, then check the tiles in your hand to see if the hand scores the required minimum. If below the required minimum, then you can't win (see the manual or Rules & Strategy for more information).
5. If you're playing Japanese and the game is not letting you take a tile for Win, read the sections on Chonbo, Furiten, and the 1-4-7 rule.