Learning the game by stages – 4, 5, 6 & 7

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Stage 4 – Introducing Additional Doubles

There are more doubles available to the player who goes Mah-Jong.
These have a strong influence on what a player decides to collect. It gives a reason, for example, to avoid chows and to try to collect tiles from the same suit.
Aiming for as many doubles as possible is generally a good strategy for achieving a high score.

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Stage 5 – Introducing special hands

There are a number of special hands which, because they are unusual, score 500 or 1,000 points. Not surprisingly, a lot of luck is required to go out with such a hand.
Some of these special hands do not conform to the 4 sets and a pair but, nevertheless, allow you to declare Mah-Jong. Collecting such hands is risky because, if you are not successful, you could end up with a hand which is worth no points.

Doubling doesn’t apply to special hands, but it can apply to any additional bonus tiles.

At this point it may worth looking at some example hands to check that you properly understand how to score Mah-Jong.

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Stage 6 – Using tallies

Using tallies, rather than scoring sheets, adds to the charm of the game. They take a little getting used to as the points markings are somewhat counter intuitive. They do vary as well. You may need to make your own decisions on what each tally is worth. The rules give each player tallies worth a total of 2,000 points.

Perhaps one criticism of the rules is that the tally points distributed at the start are not many, so that a player who loses heavily could find himself with none left. Introducing some additional tokens (each standing for 1,000 points) gets around this problem.

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Stage 7 – Playing the goulash

There is a special form of the game which is played after a drawn game (where no one has been able to declare Mah-Jong and so no scores are made). This is called the goulash and involves the use of joker tiles. If there are no joker tiles in the set then the 2 Bamboos tile becomes “wild”.

The game starts with three exchanges of unwanted tiles.