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FAQ 16. Frequently-Asked Questions about the 2020 National Mah Jongg League card


Did You Know? 2020 and NEWS are not kongs! (That means no jokers, and no exposure prior to mah-jongg.)


FF 2020 2222 2222 (Any 3 Suits)
(2020 #1)


FF DDDD 2020 DDDD (2s Any 1 Suit; Kongs-Reds & Greens Only)
(2020 #2)


FFFFF 22 222 2020 (Any 3 Suits)
(2020 #3)


22 44 666 888 DDDD (Any 3 Suits)
(2468 #2)


FFFF 4444 X 6666 = 24 -or- FFFF 6666 X 8888 = 48 (Any 3 Suits)
(2468 #5)


QUINTS


FFFFF DDDD 11111 (Any No. in Any Suit, Any Dragon)
(Quints #1)


11111 22 33 44444 (Any 1 Suit, Any 4 Consec. Nos.)
(Quints #4)


CONSECUTIVE RUN


11 22 333 444 5555 -or- 55 66 777 888 9999 (These Nos. Only)
(Consecutive Run #1)


FFFF 1111 22 3333 -or- FF 1111 22 3333 (Any Run)
(Consecutive Run #2)


111 2222 333 DDDD (Any 1 Suit, Any 3 Consec. Nos.)
(Consec #4)


11 22 33 4444 5555 (Any 3 Suits, Any 5 Consec. Nos.)
(Consecutive Run #5)


FFFF 1 22 333 4444 (Any 1 Suit, Any 4 Consec. Nos.)
(Consecutive Run #6)


111 22 333 DDD DDD (Any 3 Consec. Nos., Pungs-Opp.Dragons)
(Consecutive Run #7)


111 222 111 222 33 (Any 3 Suits; Any 3 Consecutive Nos.)
(Consec #8)


11 33 555 777 9999 -or- 11 33 555 777 9999 (Any 1 or 3 Suits)
(13579 #1)


FFFF 3333 X 5555 = 15 -or- FFFF 5555 X 7777 = 35 (Any 3 Suits)
(13579 #2)


FF DDDD NEWS DDDD (Any 2 Dragons)
(Winds-Dragons 24)

    Can I use soaps, even though those Ds are all green and red?
    Yes. Two principles you need to remember:
    1. Color does not dictate suit. See FAQ 19-BY and FAQ 19-J.
    2. The word "any" means "any." Read FAQ 19J.

    Can I use a joker in a NEWS since the tiles are bunched together like a kong?
    No. This is explained at the top of this web page. Read the back of the card:

    I have a different question about NEWS...
    That question, also, is answered above.

    But you didn't let me even ask my question!
    No, because a kajillion others before you have already asked it, and I'm getting tired of answering it!

    Grouch!
    Name-caller!


NNNN 11 11 11 SSSS (Any Like Odd Nos. in 3 Suits)
EEEE 22 22 22 WWWW (Any Like Even Nos. in 3 Suits)

(Winds - Dragons #3, #4)

    Can I play this hand in two suits?
    No. Look at the colors of the numbers. The winds are suitless (or "neutral"), so their color doesn't count. Not counting the winds, there are three colors. Read the back of the card. Left pane, just beneath where it says "STANDARD BASED ON EIGHT FLOWERS AND EIGHT JOKERS." See the 1st and 2nd lines; the card says, "1 color—any 1 suit; 2 colors—any 2 suits; 3 colors—3 suits." That means that this hand is a three-suit hand. You really need to read the entire card, front and back, every year.

    Can I use any like number, rather than just all ones (in the case of the first hand)?
    No. Read the parenthetical. It says any like odd numbers (or even numbers, in the case of the second hand).

    Can I switch the winds, make it say for instance NNNN and WWWW?
    No. Look at the pattern and see the logic: north and souths (opposite directions) with odds, and easts and wests (again: opposites) with evens. East and Even both begin with E, if that helps.


33 66 99 3333 3333 (Any 3 Suits, Kongs Like 3s, 6s, or 9s)
(369 #2)

    What does "kongs like 3s, 6s, or 9s" mean?
    It means that your two foursomes (kongs) don't have to be threes. You could use two kongs of sixes instead (or two kongs of nines).

      33 66 99 3333 3333
      33 66 99 6666 6666
      33 66 99 9999 9999

    So can I have, for instance, a kong of sixes and a kong of nines? Or, say, a kong of threes and a kong of nines?
    No. The kongs must use like numbers, in different suits. Read FAQ 19-AU for an understanding of what the word "Like" means on the card.


SINGLES & PAIRS

    Singles & Pairs ... I drew the winning tile for a 50¢ hand, so everyone paid double ($1.00); but of course, it was a jokerless hand, do you get credit for that also to make it $2.00?
    Sorry, no. Read the back of the card (left pane, bottom, bold text).


2019 card pictured, but the scoring is the same on the 2020 card. Read the card!

    Or would it be only $1.00 since there is no choice but to have no jokers?
    Read the back of the card (lower left corner). And if you want to know more, read FAQ 19-F.


NN EE WW SS 11 22 33 (Any 3 Consec. Nos.)
(Singles & Pairs #1)

    Does this mean the numbers have to be 3 consec . No’s . BUT what suit ?
    You get to decide which suit (or should I say it's the Mah-Jongg Goddesses who decide). 1 color just means 1 suit, the card is not dictating which suit.

    or each number can be a different suit?
    Count the colors. On the back of the card, it says: "1 color—any 1 suit; 2 colors—any 2 suits; 3 colors—3 suits." This hand is printed in one color. That means that this hand is a one-suit hand. Read the card!


FF 11 22 33 44 55 DD (Any 5 Consec. Nos.)
(Singles & Pairs #2)

    What suit am I supposed to use?
    It's one color. "1 color—any 1 suit," it says on the card. So it is any one suit - whichever suit the Mah Jongg Goddesses have put in your hand. Card color does not dictate suit.


FF 11 22 11 22 11 22 (Any 3 Suits, Any 3 Consec. Pairs)
(S&P #3)

    Can I make this with numbers other than 1 and 2? Like for instance 88 99 88 99 88 99?
    Sure. The parenthetical says "any".

    Can it be 22 33 55 66 44 55?
    No. Wherever you see ones in that hand, you must use the same number (all "ones" must be the same number, any number from 1 to 8). Wherever you see twos in that hand, you must use your first number plus one (it can only be a number from 2 to 9). You will have 3 pairs (3 suits) of one number, and 3 pairs of the next sequential number.

    Then how about 12 12 12 12 12 12?
    Well... That's pretty much the same thing it shows on the card (you have two of each number in each suit). But your playing companions might insist you arrange them in proper pairs. (By the way: "12" is not a pair.)

    Can I use zeroes, like for instance: 00 11 00 11 00 11?
    You must be a programmer (only programmers think numerical sequences should begin with zero). The answer is no. Anyway, have you tried? It's impossible, since only soaps can be used for zeroes and you can't use jokers in Singles & Pairs.


FF 2468 DD 2468 DD (Any 2 suits)
(S&P #4)

    Can I use a joker in a 2468? It's a kong, right? The numbers are all grouped together like a kong.
    No. Four singles do not make a kong just because you squish them together. Same explanation as given above for "2020" and for "NEWS." A kong is four identical tiles. Read the back of the card.

    If it's not a kong, shouldn't there be spaces between the numbers?
    That would make no difference. 2 is not "like" 4 or 6 or 8 - 2468 is not a kong! Just accept it as fact.


336 33669 336699 (Any 3 Suits)
(S&P #5)

    That's a pung, a quint, and a sextet - so can I use a joker? And can I call for exposure?
    No. There is no pung in the hand, and there is no quint, and there is no sextet. The terms "pung" and "quint" and "sextet" apply only to "identical tiles." These "groupings" in S&P #5 are made up of singles and pairs. Look at the title of this section of the card. It's called "Singles and Pairs" because, well, it's all ... single tiles, and pairs of identical tiles.

    In this section of the card, you cannot use jokers, and you cannot make any exposures, not only because all the hands are marked with a C but also because the hands in this section are all made solely of "Singles and Pairs." Read FAQ 19E (click here). Also: every player should read everything on the NMJL card. Turn it over and look at the back. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all bold capital letters).

    Can I call a discard if it's the tile I need to complete this hand for mah-jongg?
    Yes.

    Why aren't there spaces between every pair and every single? Why is it that there are no spaces in 336 or 33669 or 336699?
    I've had just about enough of you! You can ask the League; their phone number is on the card. But wait until the pandemic is over and their office is open again.


1 1 3 5 7 99 1 1 3 5 7 99 (Any 2 Suits)
(S&P #6)

    are those 1s two singles or a pair? They're spaced a little far apart, not like an eleven.
    It doesn't matter - amounts to the same either way. It might have something to do with how much space the "1" takes up in the software used to lay out the printing. If you have two singles of the same tile (same suit and same number), that's conceptually the same thing as a pair - there is no difficulty differential. So don't worry whether that's a pair or two single ones, it amounts to the same thing either way. Oh, I said that already.


FF 2020 NEWS 2020 (Any 2 Suits, 2s Match in Each 2020)
(S&P #7)

    What does "2s Match in Each 2020" mean?
    It's unnecessary words that just mean "both the green 2s must be in one suit, and both the red 2s must be in a second suit" - which is what the color-coding says wordlessly. In essence, a 2020 is two pairs: twos and soaps. 2020=2200, essentially, since you cannot claim a discard except for mah-jongg. You need pairs of twos in two suits, and you need all four soaps (as singles or pairs), to make this hand.

    Can I use Green Dragon and Red Dragon in the green and red 2020s?
    No. Read the red text atop the left pane of the card. White dragon (soap) is always used as zero (and only white dragon; no other). When used as zero, soap can be used with any suit. That means you need all four soaps to make this hand. That's why this hand is so expensive (because it's really hard to make).

    Is 85 cents the most expensive hand ever on a card?
    I haven't checked cards before 2000, but 85 cents is the most expensive hand on a card since 2000 anyway.

    Can I use a joker in a 2020 since the tiles are bunched together like a kong?
    No. This is Singles & Pairs, remember. You can't use jokers in singles or pairs. And 2020 is not a kong. A kong is four identical tiles. 2020 is four singles. Read FAQ 19E (click here) and read the back of your NMJL card. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all bold capital letters).

    Can I use a joker in a NEWS since the tiles are bunched together like a kong?
    No. This is Singles & Pairs, remember. You can't use jokers in singles or pairs. A kong is four identical tiles. Read FAQ 19E (click here) and read the back of your NMJL card. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all bold capital letters).

    If a 2020 is not a kong, why aren't there spaces between the digits?
    It looks more natural without the spaces. Accept that a 2020 is four singles (not a kong), and move on.

    If a NEWS is not a kong, why aren't there spaces between the digits?
    It looks more natural without the spaces. Accept that a NEWS is four singles (not a kong), and move on.

    Can I claim a discarded tile to expose a 2020?
    Not to expose a 2020 by itself, no. But if you are waiting for that tile for mah-jongg, then by all means. Shout "mahj!" Read FAQ 19-E3. In S&P you cannot make any exposures, not only because all the hands are marked with a C but because you can never expose singles or pairs prior to a mahj declaration.

    Can I claim a discarded tile to expose a NEWS?
    Not to expose a NEWS by itself, no. But if you are waiting for that tile for mah-jongg, then by all means. Shout "mahj!" Read FAQ 19-E3. In S&P you cannot make any exposures, not only because all the hands are marked with a C but because you can never expose singles or pairs prior to a mahj declaration.


Didn't find what you were looking for in this FAQ? Check these links...


The official rulebook, and a newsletter. Every table should have the official 2020 revised rulebook.
Every year, the League issues rule clarifications in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
directly from the League receives a subscription to the newsletter, which is mailed every January.


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