Jewish Journal

the american mah jongg blog

by Elaine Sandberg

August 22, 2010 | 2:47 pm

Don’t Be a Tale-Teller.
A vital part of defensive playing is for you to determine what hands are being played by the others from their exposures so you can determine what are “safe” tiles to discard. This is admittedly, not always easy, especially when there is only one Exposure made by another player.  There are probably lots of hands that fit the one Exposure, especially if the Exposure is for example, a Kong of Flowers. There are 11 hands that require a Kong of Flowers.

When you make two Exposures you are revealing the hand almost for sure. 2 odd numbers, even numbers, Consecutive numbers, matching Dragons, opposite Dragons, one or two Suits, these are clues that will surely tell your opponents the one or two possible hands you are playing. Once the other players figure out your hand, the chances of them discarding your Mah Jongg tile are almost zero.  And the chances of you declaring Mah Jongg, at best, are diminished.

That’s why you must be judicious about when and what you expose.  And why I strongly suggest to expose only when you must!—- when you have no other option but to call the tile you need and expose. 

Many players grab the first tile discarded that completes the Pung or Kong, especially in the early stages of the game. “What if I don’t see the tile again?” is the reason I hear for exposing early.  But the chances of your seeing it again are greater if you let the first tile go, uncalled.  Mostly, it’s assumed to be a safe tile and it will probably be discarded again by another player. And of course there’s always the option of picking the tile yourself or picking a Joker to complete your combination. In the course of playing and teaching these many years I have seen it happen over and over, saving the player from the need to expose and give away vital information.

This is particularly true if your Pung or Kong is made up using Jokers.  For example, you have a 6Crak and a Joker towards a Pung.  When the first 6Crak is discarded, WAIT until the third 6Crak is discarded.  Then call and your Joker is secure from being taken by another player. But there is a caveat here.  If you call before all the 6Craks are out, there is the possibility of you picking the last 6Crak and exchanging it for your own Joker.

If you have 3 natural tiles toward a Kong, no matter how early in the game, you must call for the fourth. And when the game is closer to the end, calling and exposing becomes more reasonable. 

Exposing is fun—but like many fun things, there’s a price you pay. And the price is that you are giving information about your hand to your opponents.  So keep track of how many of your needed tiles are out, how many are left and when you MUST—call and expose.

‘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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