Jewish Journal


by Elaine Sandberg

December 12, 2010 | 10:13 pm


Mah Jongg is the most fun when the participants are friendly even though the game is intrinsically competitive.
When the game is over and everyone is mixing the tiles and building the Wall, that’s the time to chat and exchange ideas.  But once the game begins, your attention should be focused on what’s going on in front of you.

Inattention was the problem in a game a couple of weeks ago. As the game progressed, one of the players discarded a 5Dot and mistakenly called it 5Bam.  There is usually not much ado about it—and another player usually picks up on it and corrects the mistake. No harm—no foul. But one of the players we’ll call her Jan, started to call for the 5Dot, which was really a 5Bam.

Didn’t the player have to discard a 5Dot instead of the 5Bam? No. Did the miscaller need a 5Dot and mistakenly called the Bam a Dot?  Maybe. 

Although she didn’t disclose the fact, it became obvious to the others that Jan needed a 5Dot for an Exposure. Her big mistake was not paying attention to what was going on in front of her, because even if a tile is miscalled, players have the responsibility of attending to what is discarded, regardless of what the caller says. So, unfortunately, she revealed to everyone a 5Dot was essential to her hand and of course, no one discarded a 5Dot.

But what if Jan called the tile and used it in an Exposure? Presumably the Exposure is in error and therefore the hand is declared “Dead”.  A shared fault, because again the Exposee should have been paying attention.  It’s pretty drastic, but that’s the rule.

However the rule changes if Jan called the misnamed tile for Mah Jongg.  Then the onus is on the miscaller.  The penalty for misnaming a Mah Jongg tile is to pay the mah Jongg declarer four times the amount the hand is worth. No one else pays anything.  Pretty stiff penalty!

So the lesson here is to pay attention to what’s going on. If you don’t, the consequence can be costly….

Til next time…





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A kid from Brooklyn, a graduate of Syracuse University and an immigrant to California via Palo Alto, San Juan Capistrano, finally, Los Angeles, I have been here for the past 15...

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