By Tom Sloper

September 28, 2003

Column #131

American mah-jongg (2003 NMJL card). Today's column is inspired by a post on my Mah-Jongg Q&A bulletin board ( http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm) this past week. West had just called for her second of two exposures:

North was holding a hand that was two away from mah-jongg:

When North saw that West had a joker she could take, that got her all excited. But she concealed her giddiness from the other players.

In American mah-jongg, the player who plays after West is South. South picked and discarded 5B.

"Mahj!" North cried happily. She took the 5B, put it atop her rack, and added the other two 5Bs. Then she exchanged her 7D for the joker on West's rack, and added the joker to her pung of 5Bs. She was triumphantly putting up her three pairs when East objected.

"Hold it!" East said. "You can't do that. You didn't have enough tiles in the hand to make the kong of five bams."

Much discussion ensued, and the official NMJL rule book was consulted. It was determined that in fact East was correct. North was declared dead, and the game continued. Since North had made a play, the next player was West. She picked and discarded E.

"Mahj!" This time it was South declaring a win. South took the E and exposed a kong. Then South traded a red for West's remaining exposed joker, exposed a kong of W and three pairs of eights in three suits.

"That's exactly what I did!" North demanded to know, "How come she can do that, but I can't?"

It took quite a bit of explaining to show her that in her case, she hadn't had the "price" for her exposure, while South had. And although North acquiesced to the explanation, it appeared she still didn't fully appreciate the distinction between the two events. Hopefully, Dear Reader, you do! If not, that's what the Q&A Bulletin Board is for. http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm.

Dear Readers: I have been working to get this column syndicated. Regrettably, I haven't yet succeeded in finding any publications to take it on. I will keep trying, but for the time being the column will be appearing just once weekly, here on this website. Perhaps we may yet find a forum. Keep your toes crossed (you mustn't cross your fingers, because it's difficult to play mah-jongg that way!). - Tom

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Copyright 2003 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.