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By Tom Sloper
December 28, 2023
Column #793

American Mah Jongg. The National Mah Jongg League's January 2024 newsletter/bulletin has started arriving in mailboxes across North America. This useful document is sent to all members who purchased the 2023 card directly from the National Mah Jongg League.

Every year I sift through the Q&A section of the newsletter, to see if there are any rule changes or clarifications. There are occasional nuggets to be found. The Q&As are numbered, which aids discussion. This year as I read the Q&A section ("You Asked Us"), a few of the entries caught my eye...

Q&A#5. The writer described a confusing scenario in which three of the players went dead, and asked whether the surviving player should be paid. The League answered that in this case, it's "recommended" that the hand be thrown in and redealt. I wanted to check to see if either the rulebook or my FAQ 19 covered this confusing scenario... and they already did. MJME2020 page 19, rule 10(c) covers it. FAQ 19-BW also covers it.

MJME2020 = Mah Jongg Made Easy, 2020 edition

Q&A #6. The writer asked how the deal works in a three-player game. The League answered that after the three players had each taken 12 tiles in the usual manner, the dealer (East) picks "the next two tiles" and the other players take one each. The rulebook never addressed these specifics of a three-player deal until 2020, and what the rulebook said in 2020 differs from this 2024 description. The 2020 rule is that the dealer takes one, the others take one, and the dealer takes one more. Prior to the 2020 rule, most players did it the way it's done in the four-player deal: dealer takes the top tile from end stacks "one and three," and the other players take one. But it looked funny that way - people saw two tiles on the end of the live wall, and called in to the League to ask if they did something wrong. Personally, I don't think it matters which of these three methods is used, if the players roll dice when breaking the wall. I've updated FAQ 13a to reflect this new ruling.

Q&A #10. The writer described a confusing play in which a player, after calling for exposure and making the exposure, asked to redeem a joker, but gave the joker-holder the wrong tile, which wasn't noticed right away. Then the redeemer realized her own error, but a question arose as to whether fixing the error was allowed. The League answered that since the redeemer hadn't yet discarded, the error was rescindable. This validates what I'd written previously in FAQ 19-M4.

--We'll have more about this in the next column.--


QUESTIONS about the 2023 NMJL card? See FAQ 16.

Email . Hit me with your best shot!

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

Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i. But you're missing a bet if you don't order your NMJL card directly from the National Mah Jongg League!

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, a good supplement to the League's 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).

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