Total Pageviews

Saturday, December 14, 2013


"Nico comes in from the snow"

The National Mah Jongg League defines "dogging" as follows: defines "dogging" as follows:

Wikipedia defines "dogging" as follows:

We needn't concern ourselves with the last definition (although I was quite surprised when I Googled "dogging".  Google at your own risk on that one!)

I had heard of dogging in relation to mahjongg but wasn't sure what it meant.  I was of the idea that it referred to the dictionary definition.  I mean, haven't you been dogged by a certain tile?  I know I have.  A few weeks ago it was 4 DOT.  I could not get rid of 4 DOT.  I opened up with three 4 DOTS only to have nothing that matched.  Or I was playing a seven-eight-nine hand and kept picking 4 DOT, 4 DOT, 4 DOT. My head was ready to explode.  Finally, I said, all right, I give in, I'll play a hand with you, 4 DOT.  It was the last hand of the night.  I arranged things specifically to open myself to the will of 4 DOT.  I played the pairs hand, three-four, three-four, three-four.  I ended the night going pie and sitting set for a 4 DOT.

And then the last time I played I heard the term used in another way.  "Boy, you're really dogging that hand."  Yes, I was dogging a hand, the big hand.  Why?  Because I kept picking soaps and ones, twos and threes.  I tried every which way to make that hand because in my magical thinking the hand wanted me to make it.  So was I dogging it or was it dogging me?

But it turns out that "dogging" means something else entirely.  It means that a player takes a defensive position, sometimes at the expense of her own hand.  I have seen this when teaching mahjongg.  A player will see an exposure of, say, 4 DOTS.  It may be early in the game.  She may have a five dot in her hand which has no relationship to her hand at all, yet in fear that the player may need it, she won't throw it out and will instead discard a tile that might help her.  This type of dogging is to be discouraged.  Sometimes, however, a person is so competitive that keeping that five dot is a compulsive act.  I can't let her win, or she might need this so I'll keep it is the strategy.  I have seen people blow great hands out of fear.  And I have seen people get stuck with a hot tile late in the game because they did not throw it out soon enough.

There is, of course, a time for this type of dogging - when you are running out of picks and your chances of winning are getting smaller and smaller - then you start breaking up your hand rather than throw someone's tile, but this is a decision made by using the information that's out there on the table or on the racks.  No flowers out?  Don't throw one at the end of the game - this is MJ 101.  Throwing a joker is always safe, but only when you know you are doomed!

Magical thinking has no place in mahjongg.  We know the 4 DOTS aren't out to get us and keeping the green dragon if we're playing a seven hand won't break Doris' winning streak, but it's certainly easy to get caught up in it, especially if you're *this close* to the big hand.  But we must maintain our composure and play with logic and good judgment - otherwise our beloved game becomes one of "dog eat dog".

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to hear multiple interpretations for "dogging" during a game. I always think of it as discarding my jokers & breaking up my hand when it is pretty clear that I'm not going to get mah jongg out of the meager picks left in the wall... PS. Love your blog!