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By Tom Sloper (湯姆 斯洛珀)
December 23, The Year Of The Dragon

Column #550

Majiang Competition Rules. A recent question on the Mah-Jongg Q&A board reminded me about a controversy in MCR: in particular, what fan may be combined when one has numerous possible pung/kong combinations, in various states of concealment.

In my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," I merely alluded to the issue. Page 148, fan 17 (Three Kongs), line c.: "Points for concealment may be added; if all 3 kongs are concealed, Three Concealed Pungs may be combined." It makes sense, when you consider that a kong is essentially a glorified pung (two pungs and a kong counts as three pungs, and so on) and that when one has three pungs/kongs, it's not a given that any of them are concealed.

The confusion, and controversy, stems from trying to discern the logic of this Three Kongs / Three Concealed Pungs combination, and then extending that logic to determine which combinations are permitted in other cases. In 2008 a lively discussion occurred on the mahjong newsgroup, led by Per Starbäck, Tina Christensen, and Kimito Kugimiya.

Per Starbäck, in his article, "Beyond the Green Book" (, notes, in part: "Two Concealed Kongs of course implies Two Concealed Pungs, but Three Concealed Pungs and Four Concealed Pungs can be scored with any number of the 'pungs' being concealed kongs... The only controversial part seems to be if you can add further points for Concealed Kong or Two Concealed Kongs when you have three or four concealed kongs (and thus have scored Three or Four Concealed Pungs)." The controversial cases are:

Tina Christensen said: "I believe the Chinese agree with Kimito, but we should ask confirmation." I have not attended any international competitions since, so I don't know what the officials in China have ruled. But I am with Kugimiya-san. See number three above. I believe Starbäck is wrong here. Once you've added points for the sets being kongs and also concealed pungs, you shouldn't be able to add even more for those same sets also being concealed kongs.


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© 2012 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.