Questions about scoring

 OVERVIEW:  Basic scoreDoublingSpecial hands And bonus tilesAnd doublingAnd exta pointsPurityAll pair honoursThree great scholars


Q. Do I need to score the game?

A. Yes, though it’s not absolutely essential

Not scoring reduces the game to just going Mah-Jong.
Not keeping a record of the scoring means that you cannot work out the winner over a series of games.
Note: If you don’t have tallies (or don’t like using them), you can use score cards.

Q. Should you round up to the nearest 10 when you score your hand?

A. No.

The only reason one might round up to the nearest 10 is because the lowest tally (in sets you now buy) is often 10, rather than 2. (I’ve noticed that the 2 tally tends only to be found in older sets.)
However, this rounding would be at the end of the calculations and would be to the nearest 10, so allowing for rounding down. It’s the convention used for any mathematical calculation.

Q. What is the highest score I can get?

A. The limit of 1,000 points.

1,000 points is the limit used in tournaments and it is the recommended limit for all other players.
However, you need to remember that East Wind pays and receives double. So if East Wind scores 1,000 points each player gives him 2,000 points. He collects 6,000 points in one game.
If another player goes Mah-Jong with (say) 800 points, East Wind has to pay him 1,600 points.

Q. What is the highest possible score you could get if you took away the limit of 1,000?

A. 1,490,944 points

See ‘Highest possible score’ for an explanation of how this is achieved.


Basic score

Q. Is there an easy way to remember the basic scoring?

A. There are a few rules for sets:

  • Minimum score for a pung is 2, maximum is 8
  • Minimum score for a kong is 8, maximum is 32
  • A kong scores 4 times the pung equivalent
  • Double the score for major & concealed tiles

Q. Do I get a score for a chow?

A. No

Q. If you have 4 identical tiles in your hand but have chosen not to declare them as a concealed kong when someone else goes Mah-Jong, are you able to claim the points for a kong ?

A. Yes

Q. Can I score anything for a pair of tiles?

A. Yes, when it’s pair of Dragons, prevailing Wind or your own Wind you score 2 points.

This applies to all players – not just to the player who goes Mah-Jong.

Q. Do I still score 2 points for a pair if I don’t go Mah-Jong?

A. Yes

Q. How much do I score for a pair of East Winds?

A. If East is the prevailing Wind (which is normally the case):

  • When you are East Wind you will score 4 points (2 points for the prevailing Wind and 2 points for your own Wind)
  • When you are not East Wind you will only score 2 points (for having the prevailing Wind)

If East is NOT the prevailing Wind you will only score 2 points when you are East Wind.

Q. How does a change to the prevailing Wind (to South Wind) affect the basic score?

A. A pair of South Wind tiles scores 2 points for any player

If the player who is South Wind has a pair of South Wind tiles then he gets 4 points (2 points for his own Wind and 2 points for the prevailing Wind).
The same rules apply when the prevailing Wind changes to West and North.

Q. If someone goes Mah-Jong with a loose tile from the kong box (giving a double) does that qualify him for an extra 2 points (to the basic score) because the winning tile was drawn from the wall?

A. No

The winning tile must be drawn from the live wall. The kong box is not part of the live wall.



Q. Do you get a double for a pair of Dragons?

A. No. It must be a pung or a kong of Dragons

The same rule applies to your own Wind or the prevailing Wind. However, they do give you 2 points.

Q. How many doubles do you get for a pung/kong of East Winds?

A. If you are East Wind (and the prevailing Wind is still East) then you get 2 doubles.

If you are not East Wind then you get one double. (East Wind always receives double his score so being East Wind and getting a pung of East Winds could give you three doubles).

Q. How does a change to the prevailing Wind affect doubling?

A. If the prevailing Wind is South (instead of East) a pung/kong of South Wind gives a double for any player

If the player who is South Wind has a pung/kong of South Wind then he gets 2 doubles (one for his own Wind and one for the prevailing Wind). A change in the prevailing Wind doesn’t stop East Wind paying and receiving double

Q. What is the maximum number of doubles I can get?

A. 13  (which means that your basic score would be multiplied by 8,192)

Q. Can you have doubling with a special hand?

A. No, except that the score from bonus tiles can be doubled.

Q. If you are playing a version of the game where chows are not allowed, can you claim a double for “No chows”?

A. No

You cannot claim a double for “No chows” when you are playing the goulash or with fewer than 4 people.

Q. Can I claim a double for “no chows” if I haven’t gone Mah-Jong?

A. No

Q. Can I claim a double for “all the same suit” if I only have a pair of a suit (the rest being honour tiles)?

A. Yes

Q. Can I claim a double for “All the same suit” when I have a chow in my hand?

A. Yes

Q. Can I claim a double for “All the same suit” when I don’t have any honour tiles?

A. No.

The honour tiles can be a pung, kong or pair. Note: An “All the same suit hand” with no honour tiles would be the special hand of “Purity”, provided it didn’t contain a chow.

Q. When can I claim a double for a concealed hand?

A. When you have gone Mah-Jong without claiming any tiles and the hand is not a special hand.

You must also have sets from one or more suits plus one or more sets of Dragons/Winds. One set could be a chow.
Note: There is a slight mis-wording (acknowledged by the authors) in Mah-Jong, Know the Rules (3rd edition, p33) where it states the rule as, “All concealed hand of different suits with Winds and/or Dragons”.
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”.

Q. Can you give an example of a concealed hand which is not “Buried treasure” and explain how may doubles it gets?

A. Consider the following hand: Concealed kong of Dragons. Concealed pungs of 9 Circles, 2 Circles, 5 Circles. Concealed pair of 1 Circles.

It is not “Buried treasure” as it contains a kong. It qualifies for the following doubles: No chows, kong of Dragons, All concealed (with one or more suits and some honour).

Q. Can you claim a double when you rob the kong?

A. Yes, if you are making a chow.

You get a double if you are claiming a chow, but lose it immediately as you can no longer claim a double for “no chows”. Note: The double doesn’t apply to special hands.

Q. When a double is given for “all the same suit” / “all 1s and/or 9s” / “all concealed” – “with Dragons and/or Winds” can the Dragon or Wind be just a pair?

A. Yes

Q. Does the doubling condition “All tiles are 1s and/or 9s with some Dragons and/or Winds” apply if you only have one set of 1s or 9s?

A. Yes, though you may then have a special hand.


Special hands


And bonus tiles

Q. Do bonus tiles count for anything if you have a special hand?

A. Only if the special hand scores less than the limit of 1,000 points

You can add the scores from any bonus tiles if:  (1) You go Mah-Jong with a special hand of “Purity”, “All pair honours”, “Knitting” or “Triple knitting”  (2) You are fishing with a special hand when somebody else goes Mah-Jong


And doubling

Q. Can you double a special hand score?

A. You can’t double the value of the special hand, but you can double the value of the bonus tiles when the special hand score is less than 1,000.

When you have a special hand that scores the limit of 1,000 points then it doesn’t apply, because the score cannot go over this limit.
When you have a special hand which doesn’t score the limit (i.e. “Purity”, “All pair honours”, “Knitting”, “Triple knitting” and limit hands for which you are fishing) then the doubling is only applied to the score you obtain from any bonus tiles. Although in the case of “Purity” (when you have sufficient bonus tiles), you could conceivably get a higher score by not treating your hand as a special one.
So, if you have 2 bonus tiles, one of which is your own (going by the numbers East – 1, South – 2, West – 3, North – 4), then you score [ (4 + 4) x 2 = ] 16 in addition to the value of the special hand.
   A special hand of “Knitting” with 2 bonus tiles, one your own, will score [ 500 + ( 8 x 2) = ] 516 points
   A special hand of “Purity” with 3 bonus tiles, two your own, will score an additional [ 12 x 2 x 2 = ] 48 points

Q. Can you double a special hand score if you are fishing when someone else goes Mah-Jong?

A. Yes, but it only applies to bonus tiles if you are claiming you are one off a special hand

If you are fishing with “The wrigging snake” with 2 bonus tiles, one your own, when somebody else goes Mah-Jong then you score 400 + (8 x 2) = 416 points
Note: It’s conceivable that you may score more by not treating the hand as a special one.
If you had concealed pungs of Red & Green Dragons and concealed kongs of South & West Winds (i.e. fishing for “All Winds and Dragons”) plus your own Flower you could score [ (8 + 8 + 32 + 32 + 4) x 2 x 2 x 2 = ] 656 points as opposed to [ 400 + (4 x 2) = ] 408 points. If one of the Winds was your own you would have another double, giving a final score of 1,000.

Q. Can you double the bonus tiles score if you call Mah-Jong with the final discard tile?

A. Yes

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.
His score would be 4 + 4 = 8 x 2 x 2 = 32 + 500 = 532
There is no mention of this in Know the Game – Mah-Jong, but on consulting with the authors I had this reply: “We would say that there is a further double for going out with the final discarded tile, making the bonus points total 32”.

And extra points

Q. Do you count the extra 2 if the winning tile is drawn from the wall when you have a special hand?

A. Only for Purity

Of course it can only apply to special hands which score less than 1,000 points. But it doesn’t apply to Knitting, Triple Knitting or All Pair Honours.



Q. Do you count the 20 for going Mah-Jong when you get “Purity”?

A. Yes

Note: “Purity” is unlike other special hands in this respect.

Q. Do you count the extra 2 if the winning tile is drawn from the wall?

A. Yes

Q. Does having a concealed hand of “Purity” make any difference to the score you get?

A. It makes no difference

Q. When you are calculating the 3 doubles for “Purity” can you include any bonus tiles?

A. No

In special hands, bonus tiles are always calculated separately and added to the special hand value.
For example, if the “Purity” consisted of 3 exposed minor pungs and 1 concealed minor pung and the player also had his Own Season the scoring would be as follows:

 Going Mah-Jong   20
 3 minor exposed pungs   6
 1 minor concealed pung   4
 Basic score  30
 Double 3 times  240
 Season doubled  8
 Total score  248

Note: If you were fishing for “Purity” and someone else went Mah-Jong then you still get 3 doubles for the score in your hand, but you cannot included 20 points (for going Mah-Jong) when working this out.

Q. How many doubles would you get anyway from a “Purity” hand if it were not a special hand?

A. 2 (discounting any bonus tiles)

You would get a double for “no chows”. You could get a double for a set that was concealed.
You would NOT get a double for “All the same suit” since the precise rule is “All the same suit and some honour(s)”
Note that in some circumstances you could use the intrinsic value of your hand, in which case the normal rules for doubling would apply.

Q. Does going Mah-Jong with a loose tile, the last tile, the final discard or by “robbing the kong” give you an extra double (i.e. 4 doubles) for “Purity”?

A. No.

But going Mah-Jong with the final discard would give you another double of any bonus tile points. The authors of the BMJA rules have allowed this new rule for special hands which score less than the limit.

Q. Is giving 3 doubles for “Purity” wrong in some cases? You could have a hand with all sets concealed and 4 Flower tiles. Shouldn’t this give you 4 doubles: No chows, concealed hand and a bouquet of Flowers (which gives 2 doubles) ?

A. In this case you could use the intrinsic value of your hand to give a higher score

So you would not treat the hand as “Purity”. You calculate the score as you would for a normal hand, doubling the basic score 4 times. Note: This answer is a correction from that in the previous edition. Correspondence with the authors resulted in this reply:

“We feel there is no problem with the player opting to choose the intrinsic value of their hand. It’s pretty unlikely that anyone would have all those Flowers & Seasons to boost their score but since no-one states what they are fishing for, it’s their decision as to how they score their winning hand”

Q. Does East Wind get an extra double if he/she is Wind of the Round?

A. No – not for being Wind of the Round.

However, East Wind is always paid double the score from a Purity hand..Ho

Q. Is there a limit on what Purity can score?

AThere is no limit on the score of Purity, apart from 1,000 (though that is unlikely).

However, if East Wind where to go Mah-Jong with a Purity score (of say 600) then he/she would receive 1,200 points from each of the other players..Hw


All pair honours

Q. I was saving for “All pair honours” and someone else went Mah-Jong. I had 2 pairs of the same tile. Can I score for a concealed kong?

A. Yes, you get 32 points for a concealed major kong. And if it is a kong of Dragons, you can double your score

Note: You can also claim 2 points for a pair of the prevailing Wind and a pair of your own Wind.


Three great scholars

Q. The score when fishing is “400 points or intrinsic value, if greater”. How can the intrinsic value be greater than 400?

A. By having kongs in the special hand. Or by having your own bonus tiles.

“Three great scholars” can contain kongs as well as pungs. So a calling hand could have concealed kongs of all three Dragons and (say) a concealed pung of 8 Circles.
This would score as follows:
      Basic score: 32 + 32 + 32 + 4 = 100
      Doubling 3 times (one for each kong of Dragons) gives a final score of 800
Having your own bonus tiles woulf give you doubles which, in the above example, would take your score to over 1,000.

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