Q. How long does a Mah-Jong game last?

A. I generally reckon about 15 – 25 minutes.

Q. When should a Mah-Jong session end?

A. Normally it depends on the time you have.

Officially, a Mah-Jong session ends when all four Winds have been the prevailing Wind and each player has been East Wind for each prevailing Wind. This is a minimum of 16 games – taking at least 4 hours (I would guess). So a session normally ends at a mutually agreed time.

Q. What does “Wash” and “Wash-out” mean?

A. “Wash” means “shuffle”. A “Wash out” is a drawn game.

Two players (usually South and North) wash (shuffle) the tiles. This is known as the “twittering of the sparrows”.
When East judges that they have been washing sufficiently then he calls “Pow!”

Q. How do you pronounce Mah-Jong? Is it “Mah-Jong” or “Mah-Yong”?

A. I don’t have an authoritative answer for this. But I’ve got used to pronouncing it with a soft “j” – something between a hard “j” (as in “John”) and a “y” as in “yonder”. I can’t think of an English word equivalent.

I forwarded the question (and my answer) to Gwyn Headley and Yvonne Seeley and received the following reply:

“A good question. It seems that we pronounce it in the same way and I’m convinced that Yong is wrong. Our best guess is that the western spelling (and hence the usual pronunciation) comes from visitors to the east – Singapore, Hong Kong etc. – who saw people playing and transcribed what they heard as Jong. If they’d heard anything else it would always have been spelled Yong. A quick online search seems to bear this out!”

Q. What is “Mahjong Solitaire”?

A. This is a tile-matching game which can be played by one person (sometimes two), but bears no relationship to any traditional Mah-Jong game, except that it makes use of the same tiles.

For more information see Wikipedia or search online.