Jewish Journal


October 3, 2010




Mah Jongg is a competitive game, like all games.  Your goal is to win, but your other goal is to keep the opponent(s) from winning. So you want to use every (legal) means available to reach both your goals.

And challenging a player’s hand is one of those. No, it’s not often that a hand is challenged, but it does happen.

One rule that permits a challenge is when an Exposure is incorrect, usually revealing a Concealed one. It usually takes more than one Exposure, but not always. For example, an Exposure of 3 Easts (or Wests) reveals the 4th. 2010 hand…Concealed. Seeing two Exposures is more common before a challenge is made, because you cannot be certain of a hand from many single Exposures. But here’s an example: two Exposures of Pung of 3s and a Pung 9s in two Suits is the 6th. hand in the 369 Section. The hand is again, Concealed.

There is another legitimate challenge. A player may challenge another if, by virtue of the Exposures, has determined the hand requires a Pair and three of the necessary tiles have been discarded. Since the player cannot make the hand, you may call the hand “Dead”, and you should.  It’s to your advantage to play with the remaining three players, giving you more chances to complete your own hand.

But suppose only two needed tiles are discarded and you know the player can’t win, because have the third in your hand. Can you still declare the hand “Dead”?  No. The rule is the tiles must be discarded.  So should you discard it, hoping the player will not call it?

The answer is, it depends on what stage the game is in—whether the game is closer to the end, approximately ½. over or in the early stages. 

Of course if the game is close to the end, the chances of it being the Mah Jongg tile is great. So No you do not discard it. The opponent can’t win, but neither can you.

But if the game is in its early stages or about ½ over, don’t wait. Chances are pretty good that the player’s hand is not complete and cannot declare Mahj.  If the player doesn’t call for the tile, then you are correct to declare the hand “Dead”. Again, you should. The challengee is penalized by paying the challenger the value of the hand at the end of the game: win, lose or draw.

But be cautious. Check and recheck the card. If you challenge and it turns out to be incorrect, you will be penalized by paying the challengee the value of the hand, again.. win, lose or draw..

So once again, a thorough knowledge of the hands is the essential key.  The better you know the card, the better prepared you will be to know whether a hand is legit or not. 

Til next time,





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