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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The National Mah Jongg League RULES.

Saying goodbye to the 2016 card...

The League will shortly give the word for the new 2017 card to go out.  This is a time of great anticipation among the membership as we eagerly await the new configuration of the hands.  But it is not only the hands that we receive, it is the Rules, which are printed on the back of the card and demarcates the National Mah Jongg League as the rulemaking body for National Mah Jongg League mah jongg.  

I receive e-mails during the course of the year containing questions about rules and I have noticed some confusion regarding whether rules are "official" or not.  It can be disruptive to a game when there are disputes as to rules, which does happen from time to time.  This stems from the fact there are really three sets of rules.  They are:
  • Official National Mah Jongg League rules
  • Tournament rules
  • Table rules
The rules set forth by the National Mah Jongg League provide the basis for all games played with the National Mah Jongg League card.  These rules can be found on the back of the card and in the rule book "Mahjongg Made Easy (2013)," which is sold by the League.  There are also rule books that have been published and available online, most notably Tom Sloper's "The Red Dragon and the West Wind."  The League sends a newsletter to members in early January containing answers to questions about rules.  The newsletter also contains rule updates, so it is a good idea to read the Q/A section, as some rules may change.  If you do decide to buy a rule book, note its publication date - some rules may have changed since it was written.  

Tournaments are played around the country and while they use the NMJL card and play by the official rules, tournament directors have the discretion to add rules that are unique to tournaments.  These rules are implemented as a way of calculating points, or in an effort to eliminate cheating.  Some notable tournament rules are:  -10 points if you look at a blind pass; +10 points for a wall game; minus points if you throw to a second exposure and minus even more if you throw to a third exposure.  Most tournaments now have adopted the rule that you must place a called tile on top of the rack and not in the rack.  Because these rules vary from the official rules and they vary from tournament to tournament, they are usually spelled out in a rules sheet provided to each player.  Any disputes are mediated by the tournament director and not the National Mah Jongg League.

And then there are table rules.  I get many e-mails from players who are told by "experienced" players that they must pay for the table if they throw to three exposures.  Some players learned that tapping a tile on the rack is the equivalent of racking.  Some players have never stopped playing with 14 tiles.  And while there is nothing so terrible about playing this way, it should be understood by all who play that these are not official rules, but rules agreed upon by the house, or by the table.  Table rules should also be spelled out clearly before the game starts, so as to avoid disputes.  But in order to know whether you are playing with a table rule, you need to know which rules are the "real" rules promulgated by the National Mah Jongg League as the standard by which to play.

As many of you will know, the League suffered a great loss in 2015 with the passing of president Ruth Unger and treasurer Marilyn Starr, beloved women who formed the core of the association.  In the last year-and-a-half, Larry and David Unger have worked tirelessly to uphold the standards that we have come to know.  This meant finding members to serve on the rules committee, write the new card and issue rulings both over the phone and by mail; not an easy task by any means.  

In the next few weeks, the card will come and we'll all hunker down and learn it using the rules of the League.   The League stands ready to answer your questions and work to ensure that for the next 365 days we get our $8 or $9 worth of enjoyment and comaraderie playing the game we love.  Bring it on!




107 comments:

  1. nice article
    I would love to see the league step up and be more reachable with a modern website, so all the "rules" things could be address in a day to day manner

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  2. Thought it was always a rule to place a called tile "on" the rack as opposed to "in" the rack. Didn't know there was an option.

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  3. We all want to know. Are you bringing NEWS back??

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  5. Can someone tell me if there is a rule regarding the discard of a tile and if someone is allowed to yell "wait" if the next person has already picked up a tile and about to rack it. It seems we have a lady who always wants to win and she holds up the game a lot.

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    1. A discard may be called up until the time the next player picks and racks or discards. Being "about to rack" is not racked. It must be fully in the rack. Any player can call for a tile but they are not obligated to take it until they either place it on their rack or expose tiles from their hand. Some people rack very quickly to avoid the problem you have described above. Good luck!

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  6. Thanks Linda for your clarification. But, I guess my real question is does the person picking up the tile have to hold from racking if someone yells "wait" and then she decides after a few minutes not to call for the tile but held the game up for her to think about it. This happens often and I know it is annoying to many playing at the table.

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    1. Yes, if someone says "wait," then the player who picked the tile should put the tile back in the wall she picked it from and not hold it in her hand. If the player who called says "never mind," or decides not to take the tile, then the next player picks and racks. There is no rule to prevent someone from saying "wait" and holding up the game while she thinks about it. It's a matter of courtesy to other players and if she is taking too long then you may want to speak to her about it, or create a table rule that you can only call if you are sure you want the tile. But unfortunately, the rules are in her favor.

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  7. Someone in my group just noticed that under Like Numbers, unlike on the 2016 card, it does not say "any like number". It only speaks to suits, not to numbers. This would seem to mean that 1 is the only number that may be used. Is this the intent, or have you heard if there was an error in leaving the words "any like number" off of the 2017 card?

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    1. The National Mah Jongg League has clarified this hand on their website. It is intended to be ANY like numbers, as in prior years. See:

      https://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html#loaded

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  8. Most frequent infraction: discarding then being allowed to start over and pick first. We are a small (3-7 tables) game in a senior center, no money. Do you think I should stop insisting the discarder is dead? I don't want to lose players, but want to respect the game.

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    1. I understand your dilemma. My advice would be to discuss it with the whole group and come to a consensus on how to deal with it; either the player is called dead or make a table rule that it is overlooked. You may also come up with a table rule that if it happens more than once in a game the first time is overlooked but not the second. Let the majority decide and that way the outcome is supported. Good luck!

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  9. This has never come up in our games before but a player discarded a tile that could have been used to take a Joker from another player's exposed Kong. The player with the Kong picked up the tile and replaced her own Joker. I challenged the move as once a player determines to not replace another player's exposed Joker, no one else can pick up that tile. Am I nuts?

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    1. No, you are not nuts. When a tile is discarded, it may only be claimed to complete a new exposure or to declare mahjongg. You cannot take a tile from the table to replace a joker. Jokers may only be exchanged with a tile that is either picked from the wall or already in a player's hand, when it is that player's turn. So consider yourself sane.

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  10. Should East distribute the tiles to each player when the walls are opened at the beginning of the game. I was taught you should never touch another players tiles, that each player picks their own tiles. Your early reply would be appreciated.

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    1. The back of the cards states: "Each player picks 4 tiles for 3 rounds," so East should not distribute.

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  11. I have a question. Is it permissible to replace a joker on another player's rack yourself? Or do I need to request the exchange?

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    1. As long as it is your turn (i.e., you have picked a tile) you may replace the joker. It's not necessary to ask, but usually players will verbalize the exchange by saying "exchanging" or "replacing". Some tournaments are now requiring you ask, but it is not a National Mah Jongg League rule.

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    2. Linda I respectfully disagree. If someone puts the wrong tile on my rack I am responsible for my on "deadness". Therefore I NEVER allow anyone to put tiles on my rack. Be polite and ask for the joker. I'll gladly exchange.

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  12. If I make mah jongg by exchanging a joker with another player who pays me double?

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    1. That's considered a self-picked mahjongg and all players pay double vague.

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    2. That should read "double value"

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  13. at a tournament what do we do if 2 players both have the same high score for either 1st , 2nd, or 3rd place?

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    1. It is not the best solution, but when I have seen it happen. Players who are tied split the money. Alternatively, you can give players who are tied for 1st place half each of the prize money designated for first and second place and bump the second place winner to third place. If someone is tied for 2nd place, have them split the money designated for second and third place. As I said, it's not the best solution, but that is how I have seen it done.

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  14. We had the situation where everyone wanted to "steal" so there were no tiles out to start the last pass. What is the rule for this situation?

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  15. This happens occasionally and it is a situation that is worked out by the table. It depends on whether everyone wants to blind pass the same number of tiles. If all want to "steal" one tile, then you can begin by East passing two and the player to her right stealing one from the two and then the next player has one to steal, as does the third player until the tiles eventually come back to East, who chooses two.
    If everyone wants to steal three, well, then, you are probably better off just having East discard the first tile, since no one would be able to option either. There is no "official" rule, so having the group come to agreement is the way to go.

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  16. Is racking a National Mah Jongg rule or is it something is decided amongst the players whether to rack or not?
    I know I read somewhere that it is not necessary that you must rack. I prefer to rack but some of my friends that I play with do not.

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    1. It is not required that a player rack a tile. You may pick a tile and discard without placing it in your rack. The benefit of racking, however, is to prevent a player from calling the prior discard, so some people consider it a defensive move. Please note that racking means the tile is fully IN the rack, not just "tapped" on top of the rack.

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  17. I understand #one player can exchange up to 3 tile with jokers. two questions: can #1 exchange jokers within multiple suits in the same hand? Second Question: Can a player exchange with multiple players in the same turn?

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    1. Yes, you may exchange for as many jokers as you have the natural tile for. You may take from different exposures on one player's rack, or more than one player's rack. The rule is to pick first or call and complete your exposure, then make the exchange or exchanges, then discard.

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  18. This week, someone called for a tile that had been discarded, picked it up, and then said she didn't want it. We were at odds about how to handle this. Could you give us the answer?

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    1. According to the current newsletter you are committed to taking a discard if you have placed the called tile on top of your rack or exposed tiles from your hand. If you have simply picked it up you can still change your mind.

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  19. In the top line of the quints, it shows the dragons being a different suit from the numbers, but in the parentheses, it states any no. in any suit and any dragon. So, could the dragons be green and the numbers be bams?

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    1. Yes, the dragons and numbers can be in the same suit (bams, craks or dots). "ANY" means they can be the same suit OR different suits.

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  20. Do you have to expose your tiles on your rack in the same order as they are on the card? I see that some put them in different orders so it makes it harder to determine what hand they are going for.

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  21. When making exposures, you may put them in card order or in order of exposure, or any order you like. There is no official rule about this. However, when you declare mahjongg if someone requests that you put your tiles in card order you must do so, since the winner's hand must be verified.

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  22. When a player 1 drew an 8 Crack tile, she said to player 2, "8 Crack - May I have your joker?" offering the tile face up in her palm. (There was Kong of 8 Cracks with a joker on player 2's rack.) Player 1 did not lay her hand or the 8 Crack on the table. Player 2, who had joker exposed said player 1 could not have the joker and drawn tile would have to be discarded because player 1 had said "8 Crack" and a tile laid OR said is considered a discard. Is this correct?

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    1. While player 1 may have said "8 crak," her intention to exchange was made clear by the fact that she offered the tile and asked for the joker. She was entitled to it. I hope this was resolved amicably and no injuries ensued...

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  23. In American Mah Jongg, my set came with 8 flowers and 8 season flowers, do you play with any of the 16 tiles? Why is there 8 extra flowers/season flowers?

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    1. While some variations of mahjongg use season tiles, National Mah Jongg League rules do not make any distinction between season and flower tiles. The standard calls for eight flowers only. You should put aside the season tiles in case you decide to play a version of mah jongg which uses them. Or you can use them as replacement tiles in case you lose one in your set.

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  24. I'm a newbie. Recently was playing with 2 very experienced players and another who is months ahead of me. I racked a set of 8 Cracks with a Joker. One of the more experienced players more or less said, "I think you're dead". I assured her I was not, as I had been going for the first hand in the 2468. I had 2 Flowers, the 2, one 4,and the three 6's with a Joker. When the hand was over I put what I had on the rack for her to see. Is there some penalty for her to call me dead when I am indeed not? We need your answer soon! We aren't yet playing for money. Thanks for your help. I called the league and they were closed due to the weather. Sandy

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    1. Here is the rule as published in the 2015 newsletter:
      Hand is challenged by an opponent:
      Challenged player insists the hand is not dead and continues to pick and discard. At the end of the game, whether it is a wall or mahjongg, if the challenged hand was incorrect, the penalty for continuing to play is the lowest value on card to the original challenger. If the challenged hand was corect, then the challenger pays the challengee the lowest value on the card.

      So it sounds like the player who called you dead was incorrect and in that event she owes you 25 cents (the lowest value on the card). Had she been correct, you would have had to have paid her 25 cents.
      Since you are not playing for money, however, it will just have to be a learning experience!

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  26. In a recent game I was confronted with a situation and rule I have never heard of before. I have been playing about 7 years and am certainly not an expert. I thought you might be able to clear the air.
    I picked up a discarded tile that would mah jongg me and stated, “Mah Jongg.” Instead of placing that tile on the top of the rack, I put it in the rack while arranging my jokers and tiles before exposing all of the tiles at the same time for my mah jongg hand. A player (who has played a lot of tournament MJ) called the hand dead and mah jongg in error. Another player agreed. Is that correct?

    Similarly, if a player picks up a discard for an exposure and racks the tile before putting the exposure up, they said that hand is dead also. Is that correct?"

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    1. This is an unfortunate example of tournament rules encroaching on a home game. The National Mah Jongg League has never stated in any rule book, newsletter or on the back of the card that you MUST put the tile on top of the rack. This was a rule devised by tournament directors to discourage cheating by palming a tile other than the one that was called. The 2018 revised version of "Mah Jongg Made Easy" published by the League states: "When exposing, it is preferable to place the called tile on top of your rack before taking the tiles..." there is no penalty if you do not do so. This is a tournament rule, and if players use it in a home game, it is a table rule, but not a National Mah Jongg League rule. This holds true whether the tile is claimed for exposure or mah jongg.

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  27. In order to make a pong, can a player use two jokers to pick up a tile from the discards?

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    1. Yes. You do not need a natural tile to call a discard as long as you have enough jokers to make a full exposure.

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  28. I have a question about a discarded tile and who has the right to pick it up. Let's say I am East and I need on tile for Mah Jongg. The player to my right discards the tile I need, but the player to her right needs the tile as well, but NOT for Mah Jongg. Does she get the tile, or do I get it since it is the last tile I need?

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    1. Rule as per "Mah Jongg Made Easy" published by the National Mah Jongg League and updated for 2018, page 19, paragraph 13(c): "When two players want the same tile, one for an exposure and the other for Mah Jongg, the Mah Jongg declarer always gets the preference."

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    2. During the Charleston, is there a rule for stopping after the first left? I read you can stop after first for any reason. I'm assuming, if one has a good hand and does not want to continue the charleston after first left that is a reason to stop

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    3. The back of the card reads:
      First Charleston (right, across, left) compulsory.
      Second Charleston (left, across, right) optional.
      Any player can stop the Charleston after the first left for any reason. A reason could be that you do not have three tiles to pass, or you are stuck between two hands or you don't think you will get anything that will help you. Again, second Charleston is optional, as per the League.

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    4. When two players want the same discarded tile. Neither person is calling it for Mah Jongg. The two players have not called for the tile at the same time. Does the discarded tile go to the first caller or does it go to the first person in rotation to the right of East.

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  29. It states on the back of the card: "Jokers may be discarded at any time during the game and named the same as previous discard." What is the purpose of naming it the previous discard as we are not allowed to pick up jokers?

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  30. Some folks do not like to call attention to the fact they are throwing a joker, and since a joker can substitute for any tile, it may be named "same," as opposed to "joker". Either is acceptable.

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  31. What actions are considered a discard ?? A player stated tgthee discard but did not lay on the table. Then realized she could take an exposed joker. Is her verbal discard considered a discard whereby not allowing her to take the joker ?? Alyce

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    1. The National Mah Jongg League rule state that a tile is considered discarded if it was fully named OR if it touches the table. If the player said the full name of the tile, she can't then change her mind and take the joker.

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  32. Is there a preferred way to Charleston when playing with three, or is it always better to skip the Charleston, as stated on the rules?

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    1. The NMJL rules say no Charleston for a three-player game. (Four walls built, East breaks wall and tiles are picked as usual for three players. East throws 14th tile, players pick and discard in turn.)
      If you think about it, you get more picks, so it all evens out at the end. Some groups make up table rules and do a mock Charleston, but there isn't one specific way to do this that is preferred, as it doesn't really replicate a real person's decision-making process, as you may get pairs, or even a joker in the passing. Best to stick with the rules.

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  33. Is there a rule that says a player can pick up a discarded tile and not expose if it is their turn?

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    1. No - a discarded tile can only be called to complete an exposure or to declare mahjongg.

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  34. Question about calling for a discarded tile when playing the final or "broken" wall. One group I play with says you can only "call" for a discarded tile while playing this wall if the tile is used to complete mah jongg. Another group I play with says there is no such rule...that you can call the discarded tile and play continues. In my E. Sandberg book of rules it reads "any player may call for a discarded tile any time during the game". Is there a rule that says called tiles while the broken wall is in play can only be "called" if they complete mah jongg? Am I missing something?

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    1. E. Sandberg is correct - any player may call for a discarded tile any time during the game. The League rules treat the last wall the same as any other wall. Many groups create table rules around this wall and call it by different names, such as "hot wall" or "cold wall." The rule you describe about only being able to call for mahj is a table rule or house rule, not an official League rule.

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  35. If a player declares Mah Jongg in error, the hand is declared dead. The penalty is to pay winner the full value of the hand. Does the payer pay each player for the error or only the winner of the mah jongg? It doesn't seem fair that the penalty is only 25 cents to one (the winner) player.

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    1. When a hand goes dead, the penalty is that the player stops playing and cannot win. This is regardless of whether it was Mah Jongg in error or for any other reason. Other players benefit because they get more picks. Dead player pays winner only. I'm not seeing how this is unfair, or perhaps I am not understanding your question.

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  36. If East has Mah Jong at the end of the Charleston, does she have to throw or may she call for Maj at beginning of game?

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    1. East does not have to throw. She may declare mahjongg and it is considered self-picked (double value).

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  37. Yesterday in our game two players called for a Three Dot at the same time. We followed the rules in terms of which player had dibs on the tile and she claimed it. When this same player discarded a Two Dot she said "I've claimed the Three Dot but I'll give you a Two Dot" and handed the tile to the other player who accepted it and used it to expose a pung. Although Player #1 named the tile shouldn't it have been made available to the other players?

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    1. The two dot is a discard, due to the fact the player took it out of her hand and named it. It sounds as if the player made the assumption that the two dot was needed, but if the player next in turn wanted to call the tile, she would be entitled to it. Discards should be placed in the pool on the table - offering it to another player is not within the parameters of the rules.

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  38. What is the correct word/wording to say when you want to think about taking a discarded tile? How about taking a tile that you want? One player says you can't think about it and you can't say "can I have your joker, please? No nice. It's driving us crazy!

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. The League has ruled that a call must be verbalized. When calling, you may say, "call," "take," "I want that" or any other verbalization of intent. Although many players will say "wait," or "just a minute," that isn't technically a call, and it is a courtesy for players to stop the game and allow a player to think about it.
      The same applies to a joker exchange. There is no rule as to the exact wording of a joker exchange as long as the intent is made clear. You may say, "exchange," "replace," or "may I," etc. Some players may feel that putting the verbiage in terms of a question is not a correct expression of intent, just as they may feel saying "wait" is not a call. You may want to have a discussion with your group as to the preferred verbiage.

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  39. I've been informed that I am totally in error on a matter that I thought was a combination of common sense and good manners. Apparently, according to NML Rules if more than one person calls for a tile it goes to the person who yells "Call" and throws their tiles up on top of their rack instead of it going around the table with a call of Mahj having precedence. I think the Mahj would still get the tile but if it's just two people both calling for a tile the one with no manners gets it according to a rule that was touted as being from the NML. Can this possibly be correct?

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    1. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of confusion about this rule. It is not quite the way that you have described.
      When two players call for a tile at the same time, before any move has been made to claim the tile, the player next in turn is entitled to claim the tile. If one player wants it for exposure only and another player wants it for mahjongg, the player who wants it for mahjongg is entitled to claim the tile.
      However, if the tile has been called AND CLAIMED by a player and another player calls the tile, she is too late in her call, whether she wants it for exposure or mahjongg.
      A tile is claimed when a player has EITHER placed the called tile on top of her rack, OR has exposed tiles from her hand.
      Now, are there excitable players who will expose quickly so that another player cannot call? Probably there are some. In my 50 years of playing I can think of two. These players also pick and rack quickly so another player cannot call. That is their playing style.
      If your group feels the rule is unfair, then you may want to create a table rule to address it, but this is the rule as it stands (and has stood for all the years I have been playing).

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  40. What is the date on the first NMJL card?

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    1. The League was formed in 1937, which is the year of the first published card.

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  41. When a player exposes tiles is it regulation for the exposed tiles to be facing other players or can the tiles be oriented so that they face the player who exposed them?

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    1. There is no official rule about this. However, it is most common for tiles to be oriented to face the player who exposed them. This is the most efficient way to expose as it takes a little more time to turn each tile around.

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    2. It also makes it harder for your opponents seeing exposures upside down and easier for you to see and add exposures tight side up.

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  42. What is the purpose of braking the wall. The group of people I play with doesn't do it. Some new players have been investigating and want to know about the reason to do it.

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    1. By rolling the dice and breaking the wall, East creates a random spot from which to take tiles. This way, no one can "stack the deck," or put jokers where they know they will get them. It insures the integrity of the hand, similar to the way people will cut a deck of cards before dealing.

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  43. A much more experienced player said that you could not call a White dragon to complete exposure in a 2019 hand unless that call was for Mah Jongg. Is this correct, most of the table disagreed, but yielded to the experienced player.

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  44. The group 2019 are considered singles. You may only call to expose a pung (three identical tiles), kong (four identical tiles) or quint (five identical tiles). Since there is only one of each tile in 2019 (and NEWS, as another example) you cannot call to expose this group. You may, however, call ANY tile if it is needed to complete your hand and make mahjongg, even if it is for a single or pair.

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  45. My comment is a question...If a player calls another player's hand as not on the card THEN realizes they have made a mistake with that call, what happens?

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    1. When a player challenges another player, the challenged player can either accept or deny the challenge. If the player accepts, they stop playing and if the player denies, the game continues. The challenged player does not have to reveal the challenged hand at the time it is challenged. However, at the end of the game, if the challenger made an error, the challenger pays the other player 50 cents. So if the player realizes she made an error, she should wait until the end of the game and graciously pay up.

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  46. I just became acquainted with your blog and I love it. My question is, do new rules only come out once a year and are they published only in the order form booklet and the booklet called Mahjong Made Easy that is published by the American Mah jongg League? Or are they also available online anywhere? Thank you so much.

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    1. Most of the rules of the game are printed on the back of the card. You can find additional rules in Mahjongg Made Easy, which can be ordered from the League. Mahjongg Made Easy is periodically updated, but if there is a new rule you will find it in the bulletin received by members around mid-December and the League will update the FAQ section on their website when it feels it's appropriate. There's no official rules site, although there are many blogs, channels and pages devoted to the League where you can get the latest information.

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  47. Help. I am not sure I can explain this issue last night to make sense. One of the players had exposed 3 tiles with a joker. A few turns later, after she discarded she stated she forgot to do a joker exchange ....we stated she would have to wait until it was her turn and she could do it after she drew her tile but before the discard. Then the person before her discarded a flower and now the player claimed MJ. She used the flower as a pair, exchanged her joker and put it with something else to make her MJ. One player stated it was not a legal MJ because of the sequence of events.

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    1. When a player is one tile away from mahjongg, it is called being set. The player in question here was not set for mahjongg, as she needed two tiles - the flower and the joker.

      Had the flower in question been needed for a pung (three flowers), the player could have called the flower for exposure, then made the joker exchange and then declared mahjongg. Because the flower was a pair, the player was not entitled to call it to declare mahjongg, as she didn’t have mahjongg until she exchanged the joker, and so it is considered mahjongg in error and the hand is dead.

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  48. How can I find out what the rules were for the 1955 card?
    I have the card but can't read the fine print ... the card isn't in the best shape anymore.

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    1. Of course the card would be your best guide to the rules, but the major difference would be the number of flowers and jokers which changed over the years. You can find a chart with the changes on Tom Sloper's site: https://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column509.htm
      He also has a column on mahjongg history (going back to 2000 BC, so you might gain some information there. https://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq11h.html
      Again, most of the differences in the NMJL game stem from the way flowers and jokers were used. If you have a question about a specific rule it might be post the question in that fashion, since it is difficult to be able to give all the rules for 1955.

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  49. Can two Jokers be used as a pair?

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    1. You can only use a joker (or more than one joker) in a pung (three *identical* tiles), a kong (four *identical* tiles, or a quint (five *identical* tiles). You can NEVER use a joker in a pair. Pairs must be "natural" tiles.

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  50. Is there any rule for discarded tiles that they r randomly discarded on the table or that they can be lined up in rows in front of an open rack?

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    1. It is customary when discarding to push tiles toward the center of the table, but it is not a rule. They can be lined up however you choose, but it's not a good strategy to let everyone know exactly which discards are yours, since it would be pretty easy to tell what you are playing.

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    2. I called a tile put my 3 tiles on the rack through out a tile for the one i called and picked up the one i called. On lady told me that i was not allowed to do that and i was out of the game. HELP

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    3. When you call a tile and you make your exposure, you must pick up the called tile first to complete the exposure then discard. If you discard without having a complete exposure, then you do not have enough tiles in your hand and your hand is dead.

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  51. If one player is dead and three others are still playing, are you able to claim an exposed joker from the dead players hand that was exposed prior to her being called dead and replacing it with the appropriate tile just picked from the wall? Thanks Leslie

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    1. If the exposure was out before the hand was declared dead, then the jokers are still available to be taken after the hand is declared dead.

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  52. I exchanged a tile for a joker and then realized I did not want to do that. It was still my turn, can I put the joker back and take my time back?

    If I find I have 1 tile to few or to many should call myself dead?

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    1. 1. Once you have made the exchange you cannot take it back. The tile has already left your hand and is on someone else's rack.
      2. It is inadvisable to draw attention to the fact that you have an incorrect number of tiles. Wait and see if someone else notices. Even if you can't win, you can influence the outcome of the game. The League says a player should not declare their own hand dead.

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  53. Is a tile technically considered racked if the person is still holding it while in her rack or does her hand have to no longer be touching the tile to consider it racked?

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    1. The League has defined racking as "a tile that has been placed on the sloped part of the rack along with the player's other tiles." There is no mention of whether the player's hand is touching or not.

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  54. Question: a tile was discarded by player 1. The next 2 players called for the tile. Player 3 needed it for mahjongg. Player 2, whose turn it was, said she also needed it for mahjonhg and had priority. She then exchanged a tile for Player 3's exposed joker and used the discarded tile to declare mahjongg. Was that OK according to the rules, or should Player 3 been allowed to pick up the discarded tile for mshjingg?

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  55. The mahjongg belonged to Player 3.
    There are a couple of rules in play here.
    1. The discarded tile did not give player 2 mahjongg, as she needed the joker as well.
    2. You cannot exchange a joker before claiming (racking) a discard. Player 2 needed the discarded tile to complete a pung or a kong, not to complete her hand. She needed the joker to complete the hand, and that is a separate move from claiming the discard. She essentially needed the joker to make mahjongg, not the discarded tile.
    3. The discarded tile completed player 3's hand without the need for a joker exchange, so even though player 2 was the next in turn, player 2 was calling for exposure while player 3 was calling for a true mahjongg.

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    1. Remember, the rule for a joker exchange is:
      Call for a discard.
      Claim the tile by making a valid exposure.
      Once you have done that, make the joker exchange.
      If the joker gives you mahjongg, it is a self-picked mahjongg. You cannot take the joker first and then expose.

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  56. 5 want to play. Is there an easy way to dismiss 1 player?

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    1. When you have five players, one player sits out. They can be a bettor or if you are not playing for money they just are out for one game. After the game is over, the player who was East gets up and becomes the player who is out.

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