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FAQ 16. Questions about the 2003 NMJL card (American-style mah-jongg)


Here are the ANSWERS to
about the 2003 NMJL CARD.

Q: In the hands that contain a "2003" group, can I call a 2, 3, or zero for exposure?

A: NO. See explanation below.

Q: In the hands that contain a "2003" group, can I use a joker in the 2003?

A: NO. See explanation below.

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

A: NO. See explanation below.

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

A: NO. Here's the explanation for FAQs A-D:

The only groupings that can be exposed prior to going mah-jongg (AND the only groupings in which jokers may be used) are: PUNGS, KONGS, AND QUINTS.

A pung is three identical tiles.

A kong is four identical tiles.

A quint is five identical tiles.

"2003" is not a kong.

"NEWS" is not a kong.

(Of course you can call any tile needed to complete the hand and declare mah-jongg.)

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: In the middle Like Numbers hand, do I have to use bams for the pairs?

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

11 DD -- you can use any number in any suit, with a pair of dragons in the same suit.

111 DDD -- you must use the SAME number you used for the pairs. These pungs must be a DIFFERENT suit from the pairs. The pung of dragons must be the same suit as the pung of numbers.

1111 -- the kong of SAME number must be from the THIRD suit (the suit not used for the pairs and pungs).

Pairs of any number and dragons, suit #1.
Pungs same number and dragons, suit #2.
Kong same number, suit #3.

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? Along the same lines, in the third Quints hand, do the first two numbers have to be in bams and craks, and do the 2 and 3 in 2003 #3 have to be dots?

A: NO. This is the same principle as discussed for question F 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."

  • In 2003 #3, the 2 and the 3 must be in the same suit as one another - but they can be any suit.
  • In Quints #2, the first quint (dragons) can be any suit, regardless of the color on the card. Likewise, the second quint (numbers) can be any suit (even the suit of the first quint). Same suit, different suit, doesn't matter. The card says ANY suit.
  • In Quints #3, the first quint can be any suit (not just bams). The other two groups must be in the other two suits (the color on the card does not dictate WHICH suit a tile must be).

Q: A dead player had jokers exposed on her rack. Can I redeem her jokers?

A: It depends on whether the joker was exposed properly or not.

Jokers which were exposed properly are valid for redemption. If you make a kong, nobody has enough information about which hand you're making, so you can't be declared dead on the basis of that exposure alone. Any jokers in that kong are live, and stay alive even if you are declared dead later.

Jokers which were exposed improperly are not available for redemption. Let's say that you had previously exposed a kong of fours (with a joker) and now you expose a pung of dragons (with a joker). Let's say that the card does not have a hand that allows fours and dragons (let's imagine that the hand is clearly not anywhere on the card). Anybody could now declare you dead, based on your improper exposure of dragons. Any jokers that had been exposed PRIOR to the blunder are still valid for redemption, but any jokers exposed in the course of making the blunder are dead.

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...? (~_^)

Q: What do the letters G and R stand for in the third 2003 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.

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