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The Game of Mah Jongg

When we were young, we spent many delightful hours playing Mah Jongg. We used a set that Phyl made out of wooden blocks, on which she had painted all the bamboos, circles, characters, winds, dragons, and pictures. It was a fantastic, unique set---among the treasures of our childhood. Phyl has written up a set of the Mah Jongg rules and drawn the pictures to go with the game. Now all you have to do is make the blocks, paint them, and play!


These are the simple Kodai rules. The real rules are much more complicated.
Feel free to make up your own! -Phyllis

The object of the game is to collect a winning set of 14 tiles. The main tiles are characters, bamboos, and circles. Additional tiles are winds, dragons, and pictures. (See Drawing #1.)

To begin play, build the wall--a hollow square of tiles stacked two high. (See Drawing #2.)

Give each player 13 tiles, four at a time, ending with one extra. Take the tiles from one end of the wall and not at random.

Players set up their tiles and decide on a few to trade with other players. Each player trades three tiles with the person to his left, and three tiles with the person to his right.

Play begins. First player draws a new tile from the wall, then discards one he doesn't want. He puts the discard into the center space calling out the name of the tile (e.g., '3 character').

Another player may call for that tile if it will complete a set of three. Player says 'Pong' and claims the tile from the center; he is required to put out that set of three for display to make sure he hasn't ponged incorrectly. He then discards one. First player to shout 'Pong' gets the tile. Play continues from that player around the circle--one or two others may lose their turn.

Player who draws a picture may save the picture (discarding another tile since play is always with 13 tiles) for future use. If that player later sees a discarded tile he would like to have, he may trade the picture for that tile instead of drawing a new one. Thus discarded tiles may either be ponged when first laid down or claimed later in trade for a picture. Pictures may be kept, just for fun.

Players may NOT collect a combination of bamboos, circles, and characters--only one of them. Thus if a player initially draws all three, he must decide (eventually) which he wants to collect and discard all others. For example, in a hand of 6 bamboos, 2 circles, and 4 characters, the player will probably decide to collect bamboos and discard the circles and characters as play goes along. Winds and dragons may be collected at any time as part of the complete set. (See Drawing #3.)

A winning set consists of four sets of three, either consecutive or the same, plus a pair (see Drawing #3). If the player collects four winds, he will have a set of four, and will pair on one of these four to make 14.

When a player has all sets complete except for the 14th tile, and somebody discards that tile, he may pong it saying 'Mah Jongg!' no matter what set it completes (e.g., the final pair).

If the player has all sets complete except for the 14th tile and draws a picture, he may in the same turn trade that picture for the winning tile if it has previously been discarded.