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By Tom Sloper
January 7, 2018

Column #694

American (National Mah Jongg League rules). Did you get the 2018 newsletter? It arrived in mailboxes in the past week, and there are some significant tidbits in it.

1. A player may not change her mind about picking from the wall once the tile has been "moved in any way." I was pleased to see this wording; I used to have similar wording in FAQ 19-AM (the "change of heart" FAQ) but I had to change it when someone pointed out to me that the NMJL had always said the tile couldn't be put back once it was "lifted." Although I could imagine someone sliding a bottom tile and then changing her mind and sliding it back (taking advantage of a loophole in the rule's wording), I had to agree that my interpretation went too far beyond what the League had ruled in writing. At that time, I hid that wording in FAQ 19-AM. This week I was, happily, able to reinstate my previous wording.

2. A tile is considered racked when the tile is resting on the sloping side of the rack. I said as much in FAQ 19-AD, and now the League confirms this interpretation.

3. Even if you call yourself dead, you have to keep playing until someone else verifies that you can't make a legal mah-jongg hand.

4. A discard is down and cannot be taken back when it touches the table or is "fully named." When I read this, I lifted my arms to the sky and shouted, "fully named!!" Former League staffer Marilyn Starr had told one of my readers in 2015 that a discard was considered "named" even if the discarder had merely begun to utter the tile's name. I disagreed with this and said so in FAQ 19A. This week I was able to delete all that.

I'm out of space for this week. To be continued next week.

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Join Johni Levene's popular Facebook group, "Mah Jongg, That's It!" for lively conversations about American mah-jongg and all things mah-jongg.

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Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, including official rules not in the outdated official rulebook. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND every player should have a copy of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the National Mah Jongg League (see FAQ 3 for info on mah-jongg books).

Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.

© 2018 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.