Spotlight on Games
Playing Winning Mah Jongg
Although apparently viewed as a game of pure luck in some circles,
in reality Mah Jongg features considerable strategy and over
the course of an entire match, Skill will tell over Luck.
Skill in the game is enhanced (and Luck diminished) if Flowers and Seasons are
omitted and minimum hands are allowed (because it means all players
tend to remain in the game, not just the lucky one who happened to
draw a minimum hand). How then to win at Mah Jongg?
When you get your tiles, make an immediate evaluation of how many
tiles away from victory. That is, how many specific tiles do you need
to go out, shortest path?
Playing to win:
- If 4 or less, expect to be ready in 9 turns.
Play to win.
- If 5, what you do depends on your luck – if you have good
draws, you could be ready early, if not you should give up.
- If you need 6 or more, give up and play defensively, hoping for a draw.
Take chances. Discard anything you don't need, even lucky tiles.
After 6 or 7 tiles, feel free to say "chow" or "pung".
Playing not to lose:
Discard cautiously. After 4 draws, if you need only 3 tiles or
less, go for it. Otherwise, play for a draw.
Playing for a draw:
- Don't be the first to discard a dragon or wind except your own.
- Don't play with doubles.
- Don't claim one for a triplet; the discard means it is now safe
- Keep your hand concealed – don't chow or pung.
- Discard in the following order:
- Isolated ordinary winds. Worthless to you and probably
not useful to opponents unless they have some already.
So discard very early before they are able to "pung".
If you are not the dealer, start with East. Then discard
the Wind of the player on your left. Then the player
opposite you and then the one to your right.
- Terminals. If you have 1-6-9 which do you discard first?
If you get 2-3, you can use the 1, but if you get 7-8,
you won't need the 9 because you have the 6. So discard
the 9 first. And dispose the shortest suit first.
- Dragons. Discard early rather than late to keep opponents
from using "pung". Keep pairs, but discard isolated ones
right after the Winds or not at all.
- Special Winds. The prevailing wind is wanted by everyone.
Discard this wind early, but keep your own until discarded
twice by others. But beware after turn 9 or 10 since
someone may be using it as a pair. Your double wind is
extremely valuable – keep it until useless.
- Simples. 4, 5 and 6 are extremely valuable and should be
kept as long as possible.
- Change tactics after turn 10. Be aware of what others are
collecting. Winds, terminals and dragons are now very
dangerous. Simples are also dangerous.
Holding 7-7-7-8 waiting for 8 or 9 is better than 4-5-5-5
waiting for 3 or 4 because 8 or 9 are more likely to be
discarded. It is better to wait for tiles already showing
on the board since players avoid discarding "new" tiles after
the first few turns.
Player holds 2-3-4-4; someone discards a 4.
Beginner says "pung", melds 4-4-4 and then waits for
a 1 or 4 to complete his sequence. But only one 4 is left
in the set and most of the 1's have been discarded early.
Expert says "pung" only if he can make ready, waiting for
a 1 or 4 as above. Otherwise he keeps quiet and discards his
own 4 later on (because he knows that now it is safe to do so)
and keeps the 2-3-4 sequence.
Wed May 1 06:43:18 UTC 2013
Feb 27, 1994