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By Tom Sloper (湯姆)

September 11, 2005 (Year of the Rooster)

Column #231

Hong Kong Rules. I recently had a chance to see the opening scene of the Hong Kong movie, "Mahjong Heroes." Most readers have probably not had a chance to see it. I found it entertaining, and pertinent to a recent discussion thread on the COMJ forum. Players of Japanese or Chinese Official rules will appreciate this. The movie is in Cantonese, with bad English subtitles, so any quotes here are my own words.

A mixed-gender group of folks was playing. Woman A called a discarded dot tile, and as she took it and melded it, she told the group, "Nine pieces!" She was warning the table that she was well on her way to a pure ("full flush") hand. Discarder beware!

Man B soon thereafter picked a dot. Not wanting to discard it, he found another use for it - he added it to his exposed pung, making it a kong.

He: "Kong." She: "I'm robbing it. That's mah-jongg!"

She continued, wagging a finger at him: "I gave you the nine pieces warning, so now you have to pay for everybody."

He countered: "I didn't give it to you. Robbing the kong is self-pick. Everybody pays."

Another lady at the table crossed her arms. "I'm not paying for you! You shouldn't have konged." They went back and forth like that and tiles started to fly.

Cut to courtroom. The judge (wearing a British-style judge's wig and robe) asks the plaintiff (Woman A) for her story.

"I gave the nine pieces warning, then he konged a tile I could use. He has to pay for everyone!" The judge nodded. "Yes, that's the pao rule. Defendant, how say you?"

Man B: "She robbed my kong. It was self-pick. Everybody has to pay." The judge nodded. "Yes, a valid point."

The other lady (standing as co-plaintiff) objected: "I shouldn't have to pay for his stupid play!"

Don't you hate it when somebody tells you a long joke, then flubs the punchline? I didn't see how the judge ruled. Maybe he split the difference (making the konger pay half the amount owed by the two non-winners). If you've seen the movie and want to share the judge's ruling, or if you want to offer your opinion of how he should have ruled, email me. We'll have a rousing discussion on the bulletin board. .


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© 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.