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By Tom Sloper (トム•スローパー)
2008年 2月 24日
Column #354

Maybe it's because I just returned from the annual Game Developers Conference, but I'm thinking "outside the box" today. What if when you got your tiles, you could just play whatever kind of mah-jongg you wanted to? "Player's choice." If you got the following deals, which kind of mah-jongg would you want to play it in, and how would you play it? My answers below. No peeking ahead!

1. Very nice for Chinese Classical (CC), Hong Kong Old Style (HKOS), or Japanese riichi majan. Kinda depends on what comes into the hand. If I pick G, I'd go for All Types in Mahjong Competition Rules (MCR). If I got another wind, dragon, or sore thumb suit tile, I'd throw that back and play riichi. Already got yaku in E.

2. The joker indicates American mah-jongg, and the two pairs are a better-than-usual start towards a 13579 hand. So I'd order up a Charleston and pass 3D 4D 4B.

3. The Wests don't go with the sevens and nines, so I don't want to go American with this one. Any Asian variant will do. I'd put that flower out, and see what replacement tile I get, chuck 5D for starters. By the way, since I get to pick which game to play, I get to decide how jokers are used too, right? (^_^)

4. The 2 flowers, 2B, and 466D suggest the 3rd hand in 2468 on the 2007 NMJL card, so that's what I like for this one. I'd pass 1B E 7C in the Charleston.

5. That's what I'm talkin' about! Three pairs and two jokers. I want to use this for chiitoitsu in riichi... if I'm allowed to make a pair with the jokers, that is. If I'm not, though, then I'd like to go for toi-toi (All Pungs) in either MCR or riichi. Discard 1C for starters.

6. Oh yeah, I want to go for Outside Hand in MCR with this. I'll replace the flower, and discard W or 2C. Can I use that joker to make a 123 or 789 chow? American prohibitions against using jokers as single tiles don't apply, right? Wright-Patterson rules don't include rules for jokers, but some players use'em as a table rule. I guess they permit joker in chows...! What do you mean I'm making up rules as I go along? I resemble that remark! Maybe this was a dumb idea.


Click the entries in the header frame, above, to read other columns.

Question or comment about this column? Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

Links about Japanese-style mah-jongg:

Haven't ordered the 2008 NMJL card yet? Read FAQ 7i.

Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, can be ordered through AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the booklet from the NMJL (see FAQ 3).

Jay Firestone of the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles has posted a nice video about a young man (himself) learning to play American mah-jongg. You can see it at

Photos of the 2007 WMJC in E Mei Shan, China.
Photos of the 2007 OEMC in Copenhagen.
Photos of the Fourth China Majiang Championship and Forum in Tianjin, 2006.
Photos of the Third China Majiang Championship and Forum in Beijing, 2005.
The official website of the Third China Majiang Championship and Forum in Beijing, 2005.
The official website of the Open European Mahjong Championship
Photos of the 2005 OEMC
Photos of the 2003 CMOC.
Photos of the 2002 WCMJ.

Want to play Chinese Official rules on your computer?

  • FAQ 22 answers the most frequently asked questions about Chinese Official scoring.
  • Download the official English translation of the Majiang Competition Rules for free at
  • World Champion Mai Hatsune and fellow Japanese champion player Takunori Kajimoto have written the definitive strategy guide to Mahjong Competition Rules. It's been translated into English and is available for free at
  • For more help with your MCR strategy, see
  • Another useful MCR strategy tool is at
  • If you can read Chinese, the full and complete official rules are at

    © 2008 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.