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FAQ 16. Frequently-Asked Questions about the 2004 NMJL card (American-style mah-jongg)


Q: In the hands that contain a "2004" group, can I call a 2, 4, or zero for exposure?

A: NO. See FAQ 19E (click here).

Q: In the hands that contain a "2004" group, can I use a joker in the 2004?

A: NO. See FAQ 19E (click here).

Q: In the hands that contain a "NEWS" group, can I call a wind tile for exposure?

A: NO. See FAQ 19E (click here).

Q: In the hands that contain a "NEWS" group, can I use a joker in the NEWS group?

A: NO. See FAQ 19E (click here).

Q: In the 4th and 5th Winds-Dragons hand, do I have to use greens for the dragon pair? And whatever that answer is, can I make these hands in 2 suits, or do they have to be 3 suits?

A: NO. The card is more flexible than that, in regards to the colors. Green does not mean that bams are required.

NN DD -- you can use any dragon, with a pair of Norths. Jokers may never be used in a pair.

SSS DDD DDDD -- make a pung of Souths, a pung of dragons, and a kong of a different dragon from the dragon pung.

Another way of asking this question is: "what does the word 'any' mean, when I see that they used three different colors of ink?"

If they had used two colors of ink and then used the word "any," "any" would still mean the same thing -- "any." This is the exact same principle we've seen on the last two or three cards. The word "any" means just that -- "any."

Here, this is important, because a lot of people ask this. Let's take a look at the three different ways they might have shown this hand on the card:

Now that you can see the hand shown in those three different possible ways, can you see that each of these is exactly the same? The thing that makes these all the same is the parenthetical. It says in English, "Pair any dragon." That overrules the color-coding (as I stated the previous couple of years in this FAQ). No matter what color is used, the word "any" still means "any." You can use dragons in three suits or you can use dragons in two suits, because the card says, in English, "Pair any dragon." The dragon kong must be a different suit from the dragon pung - the dragon pair can be any suit.

IF the NMJL wanted the hand to be in three suits, they would not have had any reason to "pair any dragon" in parentheses - they would have written something that made it clear that the hand required three suits. Like for instance they might have said:

Or something like that. The NMJL uses the phrase "any 3 suits" on this card to make it clear that the suits can be used willy-nilly, regardless of which color is used on the card. Use of that phrase would definitely indicate that the hand must be 3 suits. They didn't use that phrase for this hand, though!

Since they said "pair any dragon," they intended to permit the use of ... any dragon for the pair (the hand, therefore, can be either 2 suits or 3 suits).

This principle (that color does not dictate a specific suit) applies across the entire card. Zero always means white dragons, but zero can be used with any suit (when used as zeroes, soaps are suitless).

Q: In the second Quints hand, do the dragons have to be green and the numbers have to be craks? If not green and craks, then does this hand have to be made in two suits, since two colors are used?

A: NO. This hand can be made in one or two suits. This is the same principle as discussed for question E above. For your future reference, here is the Tom Sloper philosophy of how to interpret the card:

The color-coding on the card cannot say it all in every case. So when the color-coding isn't sufficient to explain the requirements of a particular hand, the card designer writes a parenthetical to give more information. Sometimes some folks might think that there is a conflict between the parenthetical and the color-coding (that the color-coding conflicts with what it says in the parentheses). In such cases, you have to consider the parenthetical as being the final word.

Therefore "Any suit" means just that: "ANY SUIT."

Q: How do I make that 3x5=15 hand or that 5x7=35 hand? I understand that we have to have jokers, but if one of the fives is already on the table, and I have a kong with three fives and a joker, and I can't use a joker for a single, then how am I supposed to get that fifth five for the 15 or 35?

A: You have to keep a five in reserve in your hand, or at least make sure that the last five isn't visible on the table. If someone discards a five, and you have the other three fives and one joker, then make a kong with the joker and keep a five in the hand. If on the other hand you have two other fives and one joker, then if you expose the kong, you are waiting for someone to discard that last five. As a mah-jongg comedian once said, "Ya gotta use some stragedy!" (Nobody said he was a funny mah-jongg comedian...*)

Q: What do the letters G and R stand for in the second 2004 hand?

A: G is Green dragon. R is Red dragon. This is explained on the back of the card (it has been on the back of the card for many years, even in years when those letters haven't been used). Look underneath the bold phrase, "STANDARD BASED ON EIGHT FLOWERS AND EIGHT JOKERS." Actually, it's a good idea to read the back of the card every year when a new one comes out.

Q: That last hand in the Singles And Pairs section looks really HARD! You have to have ALL FOUR soaps!

A: Um, okay. So what's your question for me...? (~_^)

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