Mah-Jongg means 'The Sparrow' and refers to the clinking of the tiles as they are shuffled face downwards on the table. The game is also called pung chow, mah-cheuk, mah-diao and pe-ling in different parts of China. There are considerable variations in the rules in English books. Should a disagreement arise between players it is customary to abide by the 'rules of the house' - those in the host's book.
Estimates of the age of Mah-Jongg vary from the time of Confusius, 551-479BC to about a hundred and fifty years ago. The latter is the more likely as it only became popular in China about 1900. Stewart Culin, the American games historian, writing in 1895, was unable to discover how Mah-Jongg was played, but described in some detail curious 'dominoes' from Fuchau, Shanghai and Ningpo. These sets varied in the number of the tiles, and the inscriptions on them. They were all used for games related to the now well-known Mah-Jongg.
The game appears to have originated among boatmen living on the great rivers of China and was played with cards. As these were liable to be blown into the water in a breeze, the paper was pasted onto pieces of bamboo; later the paper was replaced by thin sheets of bone or ivory.
An alternative theory of origin postulates that Mah-Jongg was developed from Chinese dominoes. The chu sz yam kay, or Investigations into the Traditions of all Things, compiled in the early part of the nineteenth century states that dominoes were invented in 1120 AD. by a states-man who presented them to Emperor Hwuii Tsung, and that the game with its rules was locked away in the Imperial Treasury, first coming into use in the reign of Hwuii Tsung's son, Kao Tsung (1127-63 AD.).
The basic Chinese Mah-Jongg set consist of 34 different kinds of tiles, and as there are four of each kind the number of playing pieces is 136, one each of which is shown below.
The first row shows the Cardinal and Honour tiles. The Cardinal tiles represent the four winds, East, South, West and North. The Honour tiles are Red Dragons, Green Dragons and White Dragons, the latter being a perfectly blank piece.
The next three rows show the suits of Circles, Bamboos and Characters; each suit consisting of a represntation of each number from One to Nine. It is usual for the one Bamboo to bear an engraving of a symbolic bird.
The Ones and Nines of the suits are major tiles and sets of these are worth twice the value of the minor tiles from Two to Eight of the suits. Sets of Honour and Cardinal tiles score twice as many as sets of minor tiles of the suits.
In addition to the 136 basic tiles there are four Flower tiles, numbered One to Four, and four Season tiles numbered from One to Four. The designs on the Flower and Season tiles vary from set to set, numbering alone being important because each is associated with a particular wind, number 1 East Wind, 2 South Wind, 3 West and 4 North Wind. The use of these somewhat complicates the game and scoring, and it is therefore advisable for beginners to learn the game thoroughly before playing with these extra pieces.
Some of the sets specially made for the Mandarins are wonderfull and really works of art. A good set will last many years, and indeed there are sets in use by the Chinese which are over a hundred years old. When the game was introduced into the clubs of the foreign settlements in China, Arabic numerals were added to the tiles to help in identification.
The tiles shown in this page are covered by the GNU General Public License, and can be downloaded in their original xpm format from here.
It will be as well to make the object of the game perfectly clear before going into details of the rules and method of play.
Each player's hand always consists of 13 pieces, and in his turn he draws a fourteenth piece and discards a piece, thereby maintaining his hand at the correct number. The object of the game is to get a complete hand of 14 pieces, which, with certain exceptions, must consist of (1) four sets of three pieces, each set being either three identical pieces or a sequence of three consecutive numbers in the SAME suit, and (2) a pair of identical pieces sometimes called "The Head."
Immediately a player completes his hand in this manner he calls "Mah-Jongg," and that hand of the game is finished. The pieces are then turned face downwards, re-shuffled and re-dealt for the next hand.
The scores at the end of each hand are reckoned up and either entered on the scoring pads, which are obtainable, or paid in counters which can be "cashed" at the end of the game. The use of scoring cards will be found to be much easier and more satisfactory.
Each player is designated by the name of a wind, "East Wind" corresponding roughly to the dealer at cards.
In some sets wind-indicators are supplied and these are used to denote which "wind" each player holds for that round. These can be discs or a plastic holder with a revolving disc.
If "racks" or "wings" are being used to hold the pieces, one is usually a different colour to the other three and is used by "East Wind," being passed round to each player in exchange as he becomes "East Wind." This makes it easy to tell "East Wind" at a glance, and to identify the other winds quickly. Once more it will be found that the use of "racks" very much facilitates the playing of the game.
Although a complete game is reckoned to be four rounds of four hands each, it is possible to end playing at the end of any hand without in any way spoiling the game.
A player is at liberty to have an adviser who is known as "A Dreamer." It is an excellent thing for players to get into the habit of playing a brisk game, and not take too long to make up their minds when it u their turn to play.
The players having chosen their seat's at the table, preferably a Card Table, dice are thrown to decide who is to be "East Wind." Four dice are supplied, but only two are thrown. The player who throws the highest total of the two dice becomes "East Wind," and the other playas then take the wind correspondingly to their seats, via. the player on "East Wind's" right becomes "South Wind," and the one opposite "East Wind" is "West Wind," and the one on "East Wind's" left is "North Wind," thus:
W N S E
The 136 pieces are now placed on the table, face downwards, and shuffled thoroughly, each player then takes 34 pieces at random, and with the faces still downward (he must not look at them), arranges them in a line in front of him. The line must be 17 pieces long, with the long sides of the pieces touching, and the other 17 pieces must be placed on top of the first 17, thus making the "wall" 2 pieces high.
The four players then push their "walls" forward until the corners touch, thus forming a hollow square, which represents a Chinese City Wall. The best way to move a "wall" is to press the lower line with a finger on each of the end pieces, but the "wall" must be quite straight and even, otherwise it will collapse in the middle when pressed. If "racks" are being used the "walls" can be moved forward with these very easily.
The next step is to determine where the wall is to be breached, and this is done by a somewhat elaborate method of dice-throwing, which defeats any possibility of an unscrupulous player making use of a knowledge of the position of certain pieces in the wall.
East Wind now throws the two dice to ascertain which SIDE of the wall is to be breached.
This is arrived an by counting to the right and taking East Wind's wall as "one," South Wind's as "two," and so on, until the end of the throw is reached. For instance, if 5 or 9 is thrown, East Wind's wall is to be breached: if 2, 6 or 10, South Wind's: if 3, 7 or 11, West Wind's and if 4, 8 or 12, North Wind's.
The Dice supplied vary from time to time. Some have a blank side instead of the "one," others with a large dot for the "one," and others with the normal "one." If both dice when thrown both show either of these, then the dice are thrown again.
The player whose wall is to be breached has now to throw the two dice to determine WHERE his wall is, to be breached. He then adds the number he has thrown to the number thrown by East Wind and counts this total along the upper row of the wall, from the right-hand end, and breaches the wall by removing the piece arrived at, and the one underneath it. The latter piece is then placed (face down) on top of the wall immediately to the right of the breach, and the former is placed on the pair of pieces next but one to the right.
Thus, if the total of the two throws is 9 the player removes the two 9th pieces from the right-hand end, ind places the bottom one on the 8th pieces from the right end, and the top one on the 6th pieces. The use of these two "Loose Tiles" will be fully explained later on.
East Wind now rakes the first two heaps of two (four pieces) to the left of the breach, i.e., away from the side of the loose tiles; South Wind takes the next four, West Wind the next four, North Wind the next four, and so on again, until each player has 12 pieces. If, In taking the pieces, the end of a wall is, reached, the next wall is taken, and so on. East Wind now takes the top piece of the next heap, and the top piece of the next heap but one; South Wind the bottom piece of the end heap; West Wind the top piece of the mt heap, and North Wind the bottom piece of the same heap.
Each player will now have 13 pieces, with the exception of East Wind, who has 14, and they should be stood in a line in front of him with the face towards him, or on his "rack" if they are being used.
The players now sort out their hands into the various suits and honours and arranging pieces of the same suit in their numerical order.
It is advisable not to leave a gap between the suits so that the other players cannot glean any information as to how many of a particular suit you may have. The remains of the wall from which the last pieces were taken should be swung towards the centre of the table to enable players to reach the end more easily when drawing. Fig. 2 shows the table at this stage, the dotted lines showing the original position of the wall before it was breached.
East Wind, having fourteen pieces, now commences the game be discarding one and placing it face upwards in the centre of the table, at the same time clearly calling out its designation - "Three Circle," " Six Bamboo," etc. Naturally a player will discard a piece which is least likely to assist him in completing his hand.
The turn to play passes to the right, viz., from East to South, South to West, and so on which, of course, being in total variance to the method in our Card Games, takes a little getting used to.
If ANY of the other three players has two pieces identical with a piece just discarded, he may take this, calling out "Pung!" He must then lay the three pieces side by side, face upwards. on the table to his right, after which he must discard a piece from his hand, as explained. Should a player omit to claim a 'Pung," or withdraws his claim, he cannot Pung the same piece, should it be discarded again, until after he has had another turn. Should a player, who is not the next on the right of the discarder, Pung a piece, the intermediate players lose their turn, which passes to The player on the right of the one who Punged the piece. No player may Pung a piece with only one similar piece in his hand.
If a player whose turn is next can use the discarded piece to make a "run" of three consecutive numbers in the same suit with two pieces already in his hand, he may take this piece, and calling out "Chow!" place the three pieces, face upwards, on the table, as explained. He then discards in the usual way. A player may only "Chow" when it is his turn to play, i.e., when the discard is from the player on his left. Note that a "Chow" can never be made with more a less than three pieces, and cannot be made with either Winds or Dragons.
Should any player have in his hand three pieces similar to a piece discarded by another player, he may take it, calling out "Kong!" and placing the four pieces on the table, as in the cue of a Pung or Chow. He must then draw the Loose Tile farthest away from the breach, or, if that Tile has already been drawn, the other Loose Tile, after which he discards in the usual way.
A complete hand, containing one or more "Kongs," must have one more piece in addition to the usual 14 for each "Kong." Thus, a hand containing three "Kongs" will have 17 pieces, and the Loose Tiles are used to provide these extra pieces. If both the original Loose Tiles are drawn, the pair of pieces next to the breach are placed on the wall exactly in the same manner as the original Loose Tiles and serve as additional Loose Tiles. The procedure in the case of a Kong is the same as with a Pung, except for drawing the Loose Tile.
Returning to the state of the game when East Wind has discarded the first piece, if no one Pungs this piece and South Wind does not Chow it, the latter draws a piece from the end of the wall that has been turned towards the centre of the table. He then discards either the piece he has drawn or another piece from his hand.
Providing no one Pungs or Kongs this piece it is then West Wind's turn, who, if he does not wish to Chaw this discard, draws a piece from the wall and discards in the usual way, and so on in turn, remembering that if any player Pungs or Kongs a piece it is then the player on his right who has the next turn. In drawing, the end-piece must always be taken, and the top piece of a heap before the bottom piece.
If a player has a Pung (three of a kind) or a Chow (run of three consecutive numbers of the same suit) in the hand original dealt him; or, if he draws a piece from the wall which, two pieces already in his hand, will make either of these, he should keep the Pung or Chow in his hand and say nothing about it. This is known as a "concealed" Pung or Chow, and in the case of a Pung counts twice as much os me which is exposed on the table.
A player is permitted to make an exposed Pung into a Kong in the following manner. If the player has an exposed Pung and he draws the fourth similar piece from the will, he may add this to the other three to make an exposed Kong (4 of a kind). tie must then draw a Loose Tile, as in the case of an ordinary Kong, but he is not permitted to take a discarded piece to add to an exposed Pung.
If a player's original hand contains a Kong, or, if he draws a piece from the wall which makes a "concealed " Pung into a Kong, this is known as a concealed Kong. He may then place the concealed Kong an the table at any time when It is his turn, and then draw a Loose Tile. He should mark the set as being concealed by turning over the first and fourth pieces. He may not draw a Loose Tile until he has placed the Kong on the table, and, if another player should terminate the hand by going Mah-Jongg before he has placed the Kong on the table, his score will only count as for a concealed Pung.
The reason for this is that if a player keeps a Kong in, his hand he cannot go Mah-Jongg, since he is not allowed to draw a Loose Tile until he places it on the table, but the concealed on the table counts double, just as if it were still in hand, being distinguished by the first and fourth pieces being turned over. Usually it is best to put down a concealed Kong at once, but in certain cases, to be explained later it pays to hold one for a time.
If two players wish to take the same discarded piece, one for a Pung or Kong, and the other for a Chow, the former has precedence and takes the piece, subject to Rule 9.
Thus, if South Wind were to discard a 4 Characters and East Wind, having two 4 Characters in hand, calls "Pung!" while West Wind, having a 4 and a 5 of Characters calls "chow!" - then East Wind takes the place, and it becomes South Wind's turn again.
It must be remembered that only the last discarded piece may he Punged, Konged or Chowed, and all other pieces which have been previously discarded are dead and out of play. The last discarded piece may be taken even if the next player has drawn a piece from the wall, providing that player has not discarded. In this case the piece drawn from the wall must be replaced.
The complete or "Mah-Jongg" hand includes, of course, the exposed sets on the table as well as the pieces in the hand, and must, with two exceptions, mentioned below, consist of four sets of either a Kong, a Pung, or a Chaw, and a pair of identical pieces. A number of Mah-Jangg hands are illustrated in the chapter on scoring.
As soon as any player competes his hand he hails "Mah-Jongg," and all players expose their hands ready far scoring. When laying dawn a Pung a Kong in hand (concealed) the middle piece should be turned over to denote that it is "concealed," and therefore counts double. The player who goes Mah-Jongg does not discard a piece, thus keeping the necessary 14 pieces exclusive of the extra pieces for Kongs.
In addition to the ordinary complete hands, two other combinations of 14 pieces entitle the player to go Mah-Jongg:
Both these hands are illustrated below, "The Thirteen Odd Majors" hand first, and the "Calling Nine Tilt Hand" below in the Character Suit. Both these hands score the limit.
When a player wants only one piece to complete his hand for Mah-Jongg he is "Calling" and can take that piece as soon as it is discarded, whether it be for a Pung, a Chaw, or to complete a pair, and he takes precedence over any other player who might want it for a Chow, a Pung, or exposed
Kong. He may also claim a piece which has been drawn from the wall by another payer and used to convert an exposed Pung into an exposed Kong, and this is called "snatching a Kong." He may not, however, take a piece drawn from the wall and used by a player to complete a concealed Kong. If two players are Calling at the same time, and both want the same discarded piece, then the player whose turn to play would come next has precedence, and takes the piece.
If any player is "Calling" after he has drawn and discarded for the First time in that hand, he may declare a "Standing Hand." East Wind may also do so if he is "Calling" after his first discard. A player who has declared a Standing Hand must not change any piece in his hand, but must go on discarding the piece he draws until he draws or takes in the usual way the piece that he wants for Mah-Jongg. A completed Standing Hand gets a bonus of 100 points.
The last 14 pieces in the wall, including the Loose Tiles, must be left, and if no player has gone Mah-Jongg when only this number remains, the hand is dead. There is no scoring and a fresh hand is started, East Wind remaining the same as in the dead hand.
Should a player find at any time that his hand contains more or less than 13 pieces after discarding, or 14 before discarding, excluding the extra pieces in Kongs, his hand is dead and he cannot go Mah-Jongg. He must continue to draw and discard and at the end pays the other players their scores, without deducting his own score if he had too many pieces, and after deductinghis own score if he had too few pieces.
Should East Wind go Mah-Jongg he remains East Wind in the next hand and until someone else goes Mah-Jongg. When be loses, the player who was South Wind becomes East Wind until HE loses, when the player on his right becomes East Wind, and so on.
The first Round is East Wind's round, until each playa has held East Wind once and lost it. As soon as a player holds East Wind (after having lost it once) for he second time, it becomes South Wind's Round until every player has held and lost East Wind for a second time, when it becomes West Wind's and lastly North Wind's Round.
Always remember which Round is being played, as the holder of a Pung or Kong of the "Wind of the Round" has his score doubled.
Each set contains a number of counters of different colours and these are shared out equally between the four players, who agree before hand the value that each colour represents.
If the more satisfactory "International" Scoring Cards are being used the scores are enterrd in the columns provided far each player, either under "I Pay," or "I Receive."
The player who has gone Mah-Jongg receives the value of his score from each of the other three players, without deducting their scores. If East Wind wins (goes Mah-Jongg) he shall receive double his score from each of the other players. Each of the best losers settles with each of the other two, the player with the low score paying the one with the higher score the difference between then scores. If East Wind is a loser, double the difference is paid, whether it be either to him or by him.
Thus if East Wind has gone Mah-Jongg and the scores are as follows: East Wind, 80; South Wind, 12; West Wind, 48; and North Wind, 112; then South, West and North each pay East Wind twice 80=160; South Wind pays West 48-12=36 and North, 112-12=100; and West Wind pays North 112-48=64.
Now let us take the same scores and suppose that North Wind won. Then East Wind pays North twice 112=224; South and West each pay North 112; South pays East twice 80-12=136; West pays East twice 80-48=64 and South pays Were 48-12=36.
It will be seen than a loser can have a higher score than the winner who went Mah-Jongg. Though very, very rare, it is within the bounds of possibility to attain a score of something over 1,000,000 points in a single hand, and it is therefore advisable to fix a limit of, say, 600 points as the maximum which a player, except East Wind, can, receive on one hand from each player. East Wind can of course, receive up to double this amount.
It has been computed, however, that it is (im)possible to obtain something like 13 million points in a hand, although this varies, as all parts of China do not play the same scoring points. If the successful player were East Wind and received double from each of the other three players, the resulting total should satisfy the biggest of gamblers. Nice far East Wind, of course, but without a limit likely to put In abrupt end to the game.
As an indication of values, it may be taken that 2 1/2p a hundred at Mah-Jongg would be equivalent to 10p or 12 1/2p at Contract Bridge.
Having thoroughly mastered the ordinary game, players should then try playing with the Seasons and Flowers. There are four "Seasons" and four "Flowers" and in some sets they are numbered from 1 to 4. If they are not so numbered they can be easily identified and matched. The Seasons are: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter in that order. The matching Flowers are: Plum, Bamboo, Chrysanthemum, Orchid also in that order. The Seasons are marked with Chinese characters in RED, and the Flowers in GREEN. The designs do vary but the principle is the same.
When playing with these pieces the wall is built 18 pieces long, making each side of the wall 36 pieces, and the total 144 instead of 136. If a player has one of these pieces in the hand originally dealt him he lays it out, face upwards, on the table to his right. Starting with East Wind, and continuing in the usual direction, each player then draws a Loose Tile for each Season or Flower he has laid out. If East Wind has any of these he draws the Loose Tile before discarding. Should a player draw a Season or Flower from the wall or as a Loose Tile, he should immediately lay it down and draw a Loose Tile before discarding.
It is very important that a player should remember to take a Loose Tile for every Season or Flower that he exposes, in addition to the piece from the wall, when it is his turn, otherwise he will find himself with only 12 pieces, and, therefore, unable to go Mah-Jongg. It is therefore, best when one or more have been exposed for the player to count his pieces BEFORE discarding to see that he has the right number, i.e., 14, excluding extra pieces for Kongs and the Seasons and Flowers.
One season and one Flower belongs to each Wind, No. 1 of each to East Wind, No. 2 of each to South, No. 3 to West, and No. 4 to North. A player getting the Season or Flowers belonging to his own Wind doubles his score, any player getting all four Seasons or Flowers doubles his score three times. When reckoning the score any Season or Flower, whether the player's own or not, counts 4 points.
As they have to be exchanged for Loose Tiles, Seasons and Flowers are extra pieces in the same way as the Fourth piece of a Kong, and are not part of the playing hand. When playing with Seasons and Flowers the score is liable to be very much heavier, and it is, therefore, as well to slightly reduce the limit an the scoring.
A Chow merely serves to complete a hand and has no scoring value.
|2,3,4,5,6,7 or 8 of any suit||2||4|
|1 or 9 of any suit||4||8|
|Any Wind or any Dragon||4||8|
|2,3,4,5,6,7 or 8 of any suit||8||16|
|1 or 9 of any suit||16||32|
|Any Wind or any Dragon||16||32|
|Pair of any Dragon||2|
|Pair of Player's own Wind||2|
|Pair of Wind of the Round||2|
No other pairs count anything.
|For any Season or any Flower||4|
The above scores apply to all hands winner and losers, alike.
The following apply to all hands:
|Pung or Kong in Player's own Wind||×2|
|Pung or Kong in Wind of the Round||×2|
|Pung or Kong in any Dragon||×2|
|Player's own Season or Flower||×2|
|Four Seasons or Four Flower||×8|
The following apply to the winner's hand only:
|Snatching a Kong to go Mah-Jongg||×2|
|Hand all one suite except Winds and/or Dragons||×2|
|Hand of ones and nines with Winds and/or Dragons||×2|
|Hand entirely of one suit||×8|
|All Winds and Dragons||×8|
These apply to the winner's hand only:
|For winning (going Mah-Jongg)||20|
|Winning piece drawn from the Wall||2|
|Winning with only possible piece||2|
|Winning a "Standing Hand"||100|
|For having no Chows in hand||10|
|No scoring value in hand||10|
|Winning with last piece from the Wall||10|
|Winning with a Loose Tile||10|
Where there are doubles in the winning hand the above bonuses (if any) must be added before the score is doubled.
The following ten hands are Limit Hands, and score the limit irrespective of what their socring value may be:
The above hands apply to the winners only, with the exception of b. and f., which, even if incomplete, score the limit against the other two losers.
Pungs and Kongs must, of course, consist of three or four identical pieces, respectively, and similarly the pair to complete a hand for Mah-Jongg must be identical. Where there are several doubles in a hand the score is always doubled after the bonuses have been added and multiplied according to the table already given.
Winning an original hand means that the hand originally dealt to East Wind is complete for Mah-Jongg. Since he is the only one with 14 pieces at the start he is the only one who can score an "Original Hand," and it is a very rare event. The Chinese call it the "Hand from Heaven," or "The Natural Winning."
When a winning hand consists entirely of Pungs and/or Kongs except for the "pair," and contains no Chows, this is known as "Winning by Pairs," and the score is doubled. In the same way a winning hand, consisting of all Chows and a non-scoring pair is also doubled. The possession of a Season or Flower does not deprive a player of this double, since these are honours pieces and really bonus points not included in the sore proper of the hand.
Winning with the last piece from the wall, viz., the last piece that may be drawn before the hand becomes dead (see Rule 11), is called "To catch a fish from the bottom of the Sea." This also doubles the score, as does winning with a Loose Tile drawn after exposing a Kong, Season, or Flower.
If the piece with which a player wins is drawn from the wall and not Punged or Chowed, 2 is added to the score.
If, owing to the fact that certain pieces are exposed in some way on the table, there is only one piece which will complete a player's hand for Mah-Jongg, and he gets that piece, a bonus of 2 is added to the score. For instance, if he wants a 3 Bamboo to complete his hand, and another player already has anexpose Pung of 3 Bamboos, then he would be entitled to the bonus. Again, if the piece he wants is the middle piece of a Chow then that would be the only possible piece.
It is usual to pay the winner first, and for the losers to settle up afterwards.
The Four Wind Hand must consist of a pair of one Wind and either Pungs or Kongs in each of the other three, the hand being completed by any Chow, Pung, or Kong. An incomplete hand containing the necessary Winds combination also scores a limit hand, i.e., although he has not gone Mah-Jongg a player can claim the limit from the other two loser, without their first deducting their scores. He pays the winner in the usual way.
The Three Dragon Hand must contain a Pung or Kong of at least three kind; of Dragons, and if the hand is incomplete it scores against the losers In the same way as the Four Wind Hand.
Any other limit hands, if incomplete, only score their ordinary face value.
If the wall has been breached in the wrong place, or the pieces drawn in the wrong order, or any other irregularity is discovered after play has begun, the Tiles should be re-shuffled and a fresh start made.
If a player exposes an incorrect combination as a Chow, Pung or Rang he must rectify the error before the next player discards or his hand is dead. Should a player call Mah-Jongg, completely expose his hand, and then find he has made a mistake, he must pay double the limit to the other three players. If his hand has not been completely exposed, he may cancel his call of Mah-Jongg and take up his pieces again.
Should a player who is making a hand all of one suit have 3 Pungs, exposed, and another player discard a piece which enables the first player to go Mah-Jongg, the second player must pay the winner the losses of the other two players as well as his own. Again, if a player making a 3 Dragon hand has two sets of Dragons exposed, or one making an All Wind hand has 3 sets of Winds exposed, or one making a hand of Ones and Nines has 3 sets of Ones or Nines exposed, any player who discards a piece which enables any of these special to be completed for Mah-Jongg must pay all losses.
If any of these penalties are imposed, there is no settlement of scores as between the three losers.
Players should play as quickly as possible, as long pauses are wearisome to the other players, and there is no need to hesitate if one remembers what pieces one wants, and concentrates on them.
If the player about to discard is on one's right, or opposite, then one cannot Chow, and the only pieces of interest would be those which one could Pung or Kong. When the player on one's left is about to discard, however, one has also to think of the pieces that can be Chowed.
A difficult point to decide is when one has two pairs of the same suit and the player on one's left discards a piece which could Chow with a piece from each of the pairs. The decision must, of course, depend an the circumstances and the plans one has already formulated about the hand.
One must always be on the look out for information regarding what the other players are collecting, as the object of the game is not only to complete one's own hand, but to prevent the others from doing so.
As they are also on the look out do not show signs of pleasure when you draw a piece from the wall which you want, nor signs of annoyance when you draw several usless pieces in succession.
It is also very important that you should name the piece you are discarding correctly, as an error here will possibly give your opponents information, and might also lead one of the other players into claiming the piece before the error is discovered.
Always watch the discards and periodically study the pieces exposed on the table, particularly noting the pieces of which most have been discarded, as much information and guidance can be gained from so doing.
The Chinese play the game with the discards turned face downwards, so that one has to rely entirely on one's memory, and it is very good practice to play this way.
Caution should be shown in discarding Honours early in the game, particularly East Wind, the Wind of the Round and one's own Wind, as it is often worth keeping a singleton Dragon or one's own Wind in the hope of picking up another to make a scoring pair and possibly a Pung, which will carry with it a double.
It sometimes pays for a player to sacrifice a concealed Pung or Kong in order to use one of than to complete his hand. An example of this is seen in band No. 2 of the illustrated complete hands, where there is a Pung of 2 Bamboos, but two are used for the Pair and one for a Chow.
It is better to endeavour to go Mah-Jongg on a small score rather than hang on to a few high-scoring combinations and let someone else go Mah-Jongg.
At all costs play quickly, as nothing is so wearisome to Mah-Jongg playas as to have to wait some time for people to make up their minds, and one is lust as likely to make a bad discard after two minutes' thought as after two seconds.
Owing to the fact that as yet it is young amongst Western people, there are no stereotyped conventions as in Bridge, but probably it is this fact in conjunction with the obvious advantage of each player being entirely on his own that has raised Mah-Jongg to the position it holds today, and nothing is more certain than that it is a game that has come to stay.