Corrections and clarifications

to Mah-Jong (Know the Game)

There are some mistakes/ambiguities – acknowledged by the authors – in the official explanation of the BMJA rules (2nd edition 2002, 3rd edition 2008) of “Mah-Jong (Know the Game)” by Gwyn Headley and Yvonne Seeley. The important ones are highlighted here to avoid any confusion. Further clarifications can be found in the description of the rules (e.g. special hands) and in “Answers to Questions”.

They have come to light as a result of various questions sent by vistors to my website, often just seeking an explanation of a particular rule. My thanks to them and to Gwyn and Yvonne for responding to my emails with the relayed questions.

The website (launched in October 2008 and blessed with no space constraints, an ease of correction and the help of the authors) is able to give these corrections and qualifications. And their current state is reflected here.


Special hand – Buried Treasure

Described as “Concealed pungs in one suit with Winds/Dragons and a pair” (2nd edition p30, 3rd edition p40) but with an illustration (in the 3rd edition) showing a Mah-Jong hand of just Characters.

  • Description used here
    “Buried Treasure
    Concealed pungs and a pair using one suit and (optionally) Winds and/or Dragons.”


Paying double when East Wind

The following statement (3rd edition, p28) is incorrect:
“The prevailing Wind player always scores double and pays double to all the other players”

See statement (2nd edition p24, 3rd edition p34):
“There are two points to remember: every player, no matter what his score, pays the player who goes Mah-Jong, and East Wind always pays and receives double.”

  • Description used here:
    “Settling Up”
    If East Wind wins then everyone pays him double his score. If another player wins then East Wind pays or receives double the difference between his score and that of the other players.

    This rule holds for East Wind even when the prevailing Wind changes from East to South.”


Scoring a double for a concealed hand when you go Mah-Jong

Described as (2nd edition p23, 3rd edition p33):
“All concealed hand of different suits with Winds and/or Dragons”

  • Description used here:
    “Doubling – For the player who goes Mah-Jong”
    “All tiles are concealed and are from one or more suits with Dragons and/or Winds”

    (Questions Answered): “You might expect a concealed hand of the same suit with Winds and/or Dragons to give you the special hand of Buried Treasure. But if your hand contains a kong or a chow, this special hand is nullified. So in these cases having just one suit (with Winds and/or Dragons) would give you a double. If the hand doesn’t contain a pung, kong or pair of Dragons/Winds (and no chow) then it is the special hand of Purity.”


Constructing the wall – How the corners should touch

When I was constructing my website I looked at the 2nd edition of “Know the Game – Mah-Jong” and found that some photographs showed the overlap of the walls so the right end is inside and some the other way around. The explanation for building the walls just said, “The walls must touch in the corners…”.

So I referred to A. D. Millington‘s book, “The Complete Book of Mah-Jongg” – generally cited as an authoritative text on classical Chinese Mah-Jong (from which the BMJA rules derive) – and found the following:

“By tradition, the walls are pushed together so that each stands in at the right end, and out at the left. This arrangement is of no consequence as far as the play of the game is concerned: but it is one of the formal ceremonies which give Mah-Jongg its Character. The walls represent the walls of a Chinese city, and their formation into a neat and tight-fitting square is said ‘to keep the devils out’ “.

The 3rd edition of “Know the Game” – published after my website had been constructed – had new photographs, but again with the variation of overlaps and no specific instructions on this matter.

So I have used the rule given by Millington: “the right side of the wall should be on the inside.”  (Questions Answered)


Stopping the swapping in the goulash

There are unusual circumstances where the initial swapping of tiles could be stopped.
See Stopping the swapping for more details.


Wild tiles and the goulash

The number of wild tiles that you can use to create a kong, pung and pair is limited.
See How wild cards can be used  for more details.


Using the intrinsic value of your tiles in Special Hands

There are occasions when your would get a higher score by treating your hand as a normal one. See here for more details.

Special hands: Going Mah-Jong with the final discard tile

The authors of the BMJA rules have allowed another doubling (of the bonus tile score) if a player goes Mah-Jong with the final discard tile for a special hand that scores less than 1,000.

For example:
A player calls Mah-Jong – with the final discard tile – for the special hand of Triple knitting.
He also has 2 bonus tiles, one for his own Wind (which gives 1 double).
His score would be 4 + 4 = 8 x 2 x 2 = 32 + 500 = 532