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WEEKLY MAH-JONGG


By Tom Sloper

August 12, 2007
Column #331

American Mah-Jongg (2007 NMJL card). Let's look at a sticky conflicting-call situation (submitted on the bulletin board by my friend, Peggy), from multiple angles. The NMJL rules are spelled out, if not in the official rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy, then in one of the bulletins issued every January by the League. But do the published rules cover every possible contingency? And can even the fairest rules make it so that nobody will ever feel frustrated or dissatisfied?

1. Esther discards and says "one bam." Immediately, Wesley, not the next player in line, claims the tile for mah-jongg. "That's it!" But before he exposes any part of his hand, Nora (the next player in turn after Esther and before Wesley), says "no, I'm taking it. Mah jongg!" Who gets the discard for the win, in this case? See #1 below. No peeking ahead!

2. Esther discards and says "one crak." Immediately, Wesley, not the next player in line, claims the tile for mah-jongg and exposes his hand. "That's it!" But right away Nora (the next player in turn after Esther and before Wesley) says "no, that's my maj tile!" She puts up her tiles too. What do the official rules say should happen in this situation? See #2, below.

3. Esther discards and says "one dot." Immediately, Wesley, not the next player in line, claims the tile for mah-jongg and starts exposing his hand. Before he's exposed the whole thing, Nora (the next player in turn after Esther and before Wesley) holds out a hand to stop him. "No, I win." She exposes all her tiles and shows that her hand is a valid win. So who wins in case #3?

1. The NMJL ruling is on page 19 of the rulebook. The rule says nothing about speed in claiming the tile. The player "nearest in turn to the discarder" gets the tile. So, although Wesley spoke first, Nora wins.

2. In this instance, the first-to-speak player has exposed the hand before the second player spoke up. This isn't covered in the rulebook, but the NMJL ruled on this in the January 2006 and January 2007 bulletins. The wording in the two bulletins is slightly different, but we'll get to that in #3. The rule is that exposing the hand shuts the door on the discarded tile. Wesley takes the win - it is possible to be too slow, and that's the case here. Nora shoulda acted faster.

3. The ruling in the 2006 bulletin says Nora gets the win if Wesley "had not made any exposure yet." But he had. Right? Well, the 2007 bulletin says Nora gets the win if Wesley has not exposed his hand. He hadn't exposed the whole hand. Now the question is whether to go by the 2006 wording or the 2007 wording. The 2007 wording is more recent, so should be taken as higher precedence. If Wesley is a gentleman, I think he should accede to Nora. But how many NMJL players are gentlemen? (^_^)

麻雀

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Haven't ordered the 2007 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 Amazon.com. 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).



© 2007 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.