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By Tom Sloper

July 30, 2006
Column #277

Western-Style Mah Jong. Shameless plug time. Tuttle Publishing has just released a revised edition of the 1964 work, Mah Jong, Anyone? by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans... with a new chapter on strategy written by me. The book was formerly subtitled A Manual of Modern Play, but at my suggestion it's now A Manual of Western Play. The book describes Western-style mah jong, the variant favored in English-speaking nations other than the United States. The revised edition will be available soon at bookstores everywhere. Okay, plug time over. Let's do some Western scoring exercises (prompted by a question this week on the Q&A bulletin board).

For each of the following hands, how much do you score, per the Strauser & Evans system?

1. Seven Up, or you can call it Greta's Garden (not to be confused with Gertie's Garter). It's worth limit, which is 500 points per S&E. The two flowers would double it twice to 2000, but that would only apply if the doubled basic score was under the limit. If the winner is a non-dealer, other non-dealers pay 500 and dealer pays double, 1000. If the winner is dealer, the others pay double limit, 1000.

2. Oh, too bad. There are red bams and a chow present in this. Otherwise it would be Imperial Jade (double limit). As it is, it's a Clean hand. Let's score it concealed. The 6B and 7B pungs are each worth 4. The G pung is worth 8. The 9B pair is worth 2. 20 for mah-jongg, gives us basic score of 38. Round up to 40. Doubles for Clean, Dragon, and Concealed. 320 points. If winner is non-dealer, other non-dealers pay 320, dealer pays 640. If dealer, others pay 640.

3. Windy Dragons - double limit. If winner is non-dealer, other non-dealers pay 1000, dealer pays 2000. If winner is dealer, others pay 2000.

4. Aw. Somebody won before you could finish this. It'd be Gone With The Wind if you had another E (double limit). But you didn't win it. Western doesn't recognize Little Four Winds, but this has plenty of value. Scoring it all concealed: the pungs are 8 each, the kong is 32, the pairs are 2 each. 52, round to 60. Double if any non-pair wind is Round Wind, double if any non-pair wind is Seat Wind. That's probably more than any other non-winner earned, so those other non-winners subtract their hands' value from your total and pay you the difference.

Buy the book! Column author Tom Sloper wrote a new strategy chapter for the book MAH JONG, ANYONE? by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans. Order it now at!

Links to sites where Western rules are described (every author's description varies somewhat):

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Copyright 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.