Jewish Journal


by Elaine Sandberg

February 13, 2011 | 3:07 pm


In my last post I discussed the “hot” tile, defined as a tile that had not been discarded during the game or a tile that you determine an opponent needs for an Exposure or Mah Jongg—-a dangerous tile to discard.

So now we’ll discuss the opposite of the dangerous discard—the safe discard, defined as a tile an opponent does not call or a tile an opponent cannot call.

In the beginning of the game, 99.9% of the time, your discards are safe.  Rarely does anyone call for an early discard because most hands are not solidly decided or the combinations are “uncallable”, needing other tiles to qualify for a “call”.  So you can be fairly sure any discard is “safe”.  And notice, even as the game is progressing, it’s not unusual that when a “new” tile is discarded and uncalled, the others discard the same tile in rapid succession, being assured the “new” tile is safe.

But as the game progresses, how can you tell if a tile is safe?  The answer is you must keep accurate track of the discards.

For example, remembering no 8 Craks have been discarded, you can be almost sure a discard of an 8Crak is not safe.  If there are 2 8Craks out, a third 8 Crak is more safe. If 3 8Craks are out, a 4th is almost surely safe.

But, here’s a caveat!  Just because a tile is safe at the beginning of the game, doesn’t assure it will be safe later on in the game. A player may have waited for a specific tile to be repeatedly discarded before calling or have accumulated the necessary tiles to qualify to call and so what may have been a safe tile is no longer safe. It’s just one of the vagaries of Mah Jongg.

The Exposure(s) of an opponent leads you discover that the hand requires a Pair, which can only be called for Mahj.  Early on, discarding that tile is usually safe, because the opponent cannot call it. And once one of the Pair’s tiles is out, the possibility of others being discarded is great, because the first discard wasn’t called.

But at the end of the game, as discussed in the “Hot Tile” blog, the only safe discard is the Joker.  So pay close attention to the discards——and play it safe!

Til the next time….


Tracker Pixel for Entry


View our privacy policy and terms of service.




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...

Read more.