How To Recognize Errors and Assess Penalties in Mah Jongg The Card Game
Mistakes during the Deal.
• Any error discovered during the deal should be addressed immediately if possible. If it cannot be satisfactorily corrected, all cards should be gathered and reshuffled then redealt.
• While it is best to wait until all players have their full hand before looking at their cards, there is no penalty for looking at them during the deal.
Mistakes during the Charleston.
• If a player takes a card pass out of order, she should put those cards back and take the correct pass. If the error cannot be corrected, the dealer must deal again.
• No peeking at the blind pass. A player who peeks at cards while blind passing them during the Charleston is subject to the Death Penalty. In Mah Jongg there is a Death Penalty for committing significant errors. The Death Penalty is described in detail below.
Wrong card count.
• If a player has the wrong number of cards in her hand before the Charleston begins, a misdeal is declared and the dealer must deal again.
• If the player at East’s left is short 1 card during or after the Charleston, and the dealer has not yet made her first discard, this player (and only this player) may take the top draw card to complete her hand.
• If a player has the wrong number of cards in her hand at any time after the dealer has made her first discard, her hand is dead.
• If two players have the wrong number of cards in their hands at any time after the dealer has discarded, the hand is thrown in and replayed. The same dealer deals again.
No drawing before your turn.
• A player cannot draw the top card before the player at her left has discarded her card and said what it is. In casual games players can be warned not to do this. In more serious “tournament” games, drawing ahead is subject is to the Death Penalty.
Misnaming a discard.
• If the player fixes her mistake by correctly naming the card that was discarded, without causing any succeeding errors, no penalty applies. The card may be called for exposure, having been named correctly.
• If another player calls the misnamed card for exposure, the card cannot be taken (as it does not match her set), and no penalty applies. The card may be called for exposure, having been named correctly.
• If another player calls the misnamed card for mah jongg, the game comes to an end. Penalty: The player who misnamed the card pays the caller four times the value of the hand held by the caller. No other player is penalized.
• If a player changes her mind after calling a card for exposure, she doesn’t receive a penalty, as long as she did not expose cards from her hand.
• If a player who exposes an illegal set (i.e. a set containing mismatched cards) she is subject to the Death Penalty if she doesn’t (or can’t) remedy the exposure before discarding.
• If a player who exposes an illegal hand (i.e. a type of set only possible in a concealed hand, or a second set that cannot coexist with a previously exposed set) she has a dead hand and cannot score.
Going “mah jongg” in error.
• If a player declares mah jongg in error and then withdraws her declaration right away before she shows her hand (and without having any other player show or destroy their own hand) she does not receive a penalty. The game continues.
• If a player thinks she has a mah jongg and shows her hand, but does not actually have a mah jongg, she is dead. The other players can continue playing as long as no other player destroyed her own hand, no other player showed her own hand and no other player tried to claim the same card (for exposure or mah jongg).
• If a player exposes or destroys her own hand after another player has declared mah jongg in error, then that player is also dead and out of the game.
• If two players expose or destroy their hands after another player has declared mah jongg in error, the game must end. The player who mistakenly called mah jongg must pay double the value of her own hand to the last remaining player. The other two players do not pay anything and receive nothing.
Going “mah jongg” in error on discard.
• If a player declares mah jongg in error on a discard, the discard remains in the dead hand. However, if another player had also claimed the card to go mah jongg, she takes the card once the error has been confirmed.
Poor discard decision.
• If a player makes a poor discard decision, which allows one of her opponents to win, there is no penalty. Sometimes in tournament play, this is a punishable offense.
Penalty for playing out of turn.
• If a player plays out of turn and discards another player’s winning card, she (the player who discarded) must pay the other player four times the winner’s hand.
THE DEATH PENALTY
The Death Penalty applies when:
• A player has the wrong number of cards in her hand after the dealer makes her first discard.
• A player shows a set that indicates her hand can’t be completed due to the other discards and other players’ sets that are visible.
• A player shows a set that does not match a hand on the current card or the list of acceptable winning hands.
• A player shows a set that indicates what is supposed to be a concealed hand.
• A player plays out of turn or draws a card ahead of turn.
• A player shows a set of mismatched cards.
• A player peeks at the blind pass.
How to Delcare a Player Dead.
• A player may issue a “death challenge” at any time in order to declare another player dead. Normally, the challenge is delivered as, “I’m sorry, but you are dead.” When a death challenge is issued, the challenged player’s hand is examined. If a player is unsure if she should deliver a challenge, she should stay silent.
After a Death Challenge.
• When a player has been issued a challenge, she has two courses of action.
1. She may stop playing and agree that her hand is dead.
2. She may continue to play, denying her hand is dead. When the hand ends, she must let her opponents examine her hand. They will then determine if the death challenge was correct or in error.
• If her hand was indeed dead, the challenged player must pay the challenger the value of the lowest-scoring hand on the card or chart.
• If her hand was valid, the challenger must pay the challenged player the value of the lowest-scoring hand on the card or chart.
• If a player is declared dead, any illegal sets that she made before the death declaration must be returned to her hand. If the dead player has jokers remaining in her exposed sets, those jokers are deemed “alive” and are open for redemption.
• If a player realizes that her own hand is dead she should not announce it. Instead, she should continue to play until either an opponent calls her dead or the game ends.
• After a player has been declared dead, she is not allowed to draw, discard or make any comments regarding other players’ hands. When the game ends, the dead player pays the winner the same as any other non-winner.