National Mah Jongg League Rule and Strategy Posts from ModernMahjong.com
On Facebook.com/groups/MahjongCommunity and YouTube.com/ModernMahjong, we share several rule and strategy post that may be helpful for beginners as well as advanced players.
We have been asked for a way to view these all in one place and will continue to update this page with our Rule and Strategy Posts.
Some posts specifically relate to questions regarding hands on the 2022 National Mah Jongg League Card which we will delete when the new card comes out in April 2023.
We hope you you find these rule and strategy posts and videos that we take the time to create helpful and improve your game!
Peace Love Mahjong, Dara and Donna, ModernMahjong.com
First, we share photos/discussions of Rule and Strategy Posts. Then, scroll down for links to our YouTube videos.
Rule and Strategy Posts:
PLEASE NOTE THERE IS A SEPARATE PAGE DEDICATED TO FAQ FOR THE 2023 CARD AS WELL! https://modernmahjong.com/pages/learnthe2023card
Some Important Rule Reminders!
Best Practices: For a printable five page Best Practices, visit:
Five page of Best Practices:
the dice wall,
claiming a discard,
not sharing information and
when Mah Jongg is Declared!
What is the one tip all mah jongg instructors emphasize? Study the card. How do you learn the new card and how does it help your game?
What is the proper order for calling, exposing, Joker exchange and can you add to your exposure after doing a Joker exchange? No you cannot! Here are the details:
Learn to Read the Card - are the sections fixed or flexible?
Two Player Siamese Quickstart Guide!
We love creating visuals to share with our Facebook.com/groups/
We challenge you to get Back to Basics for with our POP QUIZ for National Mah Jongg League play. Future POP QUIZZES will increase in difficulty regarding knowledge of rules and strategy.
PDF Questions and Answers: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0260/1163/1676/files/popquizyoutuberound2.pdf?v=1688121896
PDF Questions and Answers: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0260/1163/1676/files/Round3.pdf?v=1688508395
Some of our Modern Mahjong Saturday Strategy posts may be second nature for experienced players or could be an important reminder for other players! Do you PED? Pick, Exchange, Discard! Some players call it PRED (Pick, Rack, Exchange, Discard.) What about if you call for a tile? What is the order?
What if a player picks out of turn?
The NMJL answered the the year is a group of singles, not a Kong. You cannot use a Joker in the year and can only call one of the tiles if it is for Mah Jongg.
A FAQ is whether a discarded tile can be used to exchange for a Joker. The answer is No! It may only be used for a new exposure.
What can I say when discarding Joker?
Some things to remember:
Clearing up many misconceptions about Jokers. This was also shared on YouTube.com/c/ModernMahjong.
If a player discards before picking, per the rules, their hand is dead. What about the tile they discarded. Can it be called? Learn the card with ModernMahjong.com.
Strategy Session 1:
What does where and how you set up the tiles on your rack say about your game? Do you agree or have other strategy tips to share? Sharing some more Saturday Strategies from ModernMahjong.com.
Modern Mahjong created this visual reminder of when you are committed to picking, calling or discarding a tile for today's Saturday Strategy post. For a reminder, print it or save it on your phone if your group gets confused!
RACKING is not required. There are several ways that the window to call a discard closes. This includes:
1. racking the tile
2. calling Mah Jongg
3. discarding a tile
4. initiating a Joker exchange
Tapping the tile on the rack does not equal racking. Tapping does not end the window to call a prior discard.
UPDATE: The words on the image below are verbatim from Rule 17, Page 24 of Mah Jongg Made Easy. This is not a Joke! Did you know this rule about Joker exchanges and discards? Now you know! We love sharing Saturday Strategy with our Mahjong Community!
Is a player's hand dead according to NMJL rules if they call a discard and place it in the sloping part of their rack? Hint: Tournament rules may differ!
For play by National Mah Jongg League Rules:
Some tournament rules differ! In a tournament, your hand can be called dead if you place the tile directly into your hand and then expose.
Saturday Strategy from ModernMahjong.com. What is your strategy with the Joker exchange when you don't need a Joker?
Can I call my own hand Dead?
Sharing a great strategy practice tip that Barney Gallassio discussed during our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk from our 2021 talk which we also discussed in 2022.
Saturday Strategy from ModernMahjong.com! Is it a one bamboo tile or a flower? Is it a dragon? What do the Jokers look like? Do you "Know before you Roll?" While this tip may be second nature to some players, a simple glance at the tiles before
playing can save you from including a one bam in an exposure of flowers!
Watch your body language and other tells! Modern Mahjong's Saturday Strategy continues with the question, "Are you unknowingly giving off clues about your hand?" Maybe your fingers are crossed that you call or self-pick that elusive last tile you need. What tells have you observed?
What are the rules if a player has the wrong number of tiles during the Charleston? If our Modern Mahjong Strategy Tips, Learn the Card posts, articles and links are helpful, please invite friends to join us on Facebook.com/groups/MahjongCommunity.
Modern Mahjong addresses this Frequently Asked Question. Can a White Dragon be used as a Zero in a Consecutive Run Han d? Clever thinking but the answer is no!
Today's Modern Mahjong's Saturday Strategy answers the question of what to do if a tile flips over or is otherwise seen. Should the tile be hidden somewhere else in the wall? Do you know what the NMJL advised in the 2021 NMJL Bulletin?
Silence is golden in certain situations! Did you know that the bettor and a player whose hand was declared dead CANNOT talk per Mah Jongg Made Easy, available on ModernMahjong.com.
What happens if the wrong tile is picked up and used in an exposure? How has the National Mah Jongg League addressed this issue?
Today's Modern Mahjong Saturday Strategy is about defensive play. Do you break up your hand? Does your group have house rules on this subject?
Defensive play is mentioned a few times in Mah Jongg Made Easy. The NMJL does not make playing defensively a rule, but it is a recommendation - "Dogging"
Further, the NMJL provides in Mah Jongg Made Easy:
Saturday Strategy with Modern Mahjong. Are you confused when you hear the terms Hot Tile, Hot Wall and Cold Wall? Does your group play with these house rules? How do the NMJL rules govern defensive play? This discussion is now uploaded to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cInn2ItKVG8
Here is a Saturday Strategy with Modern Mahjong we are sharing from Donna Miller-Small: Let the Tiles Lead You! Don't avoid sections of the card. Go for the Concealed Hands, Singles & Pairs and Quints! If you are close to Singles & Pairs and get a Joker, you can discard it! Or, if you get many Jokers, it's easy to switch to a corresponding hand in another section.
Can you call for a tile for Mah Jongg when playing a Concealed Hand?
Yes, but only for Mah Jongg. And yes, it can be a single, pair or any tile (other than a Joker of course!)
Do you announce when you are exchanging an exposed Joker on your own rack? Mah Jongg Made Easy does not directly address this situation and provides on page 23: It is recommended that a player never touch another player's tiles. The player should first announce that a Joker exchange is to be made. The replacement tile should be handed to the player whose rack contains the Joker and that player makes the exchange and hands the Joker to the other player. We are left at the intersection of strategy and etiquette. What do you do? See comments for two blog posts on this issue!
Modern Mahjong sharing Saturday Strategy. True or false? Any player can declare Mah Jongg during the Charleston and can stop the passing at any time. Hint: is there more than one player that has the potential of having Mah Jongg during the Charleston.
Saturday Strategy comparing Tournament and NMJL rules! It is important to recognize the difference between Tournament Rules and NMJL rules. For these posts, we are using Gladys Grad's Tournament Rules. Be sure to check when you enter a tournament since some rules may differ.
Can East stop the Charleston?
What is a Heavenly Hand and is it self-picked and doubled?
What is an Earthly Hand and is it self-picked and double?
The answers are in the National Mah Jongg League official instruction book, Mah Jongg Made Easy, which is available on ModernMahjong.com.
Is a "heavenly hand" (mahjong at the deal for East) self-picked according to 1. NMJL rules & 2. tournament rules? Modern Mahjong is sharing some Saturday Strategy in our series of posts comparing Tournament and NMJL rules! It is important to recognize the difference between Tournament Rules and NMJL rules. For these posts, we are using Gladys Grad's Tournament Rules. Be sure to check when you enter a tournament since some rules may differ!
ILLEGAL Exposures! Learning what exposures are illegal can help with finding a hand, strategy and identifying other player's hand and needed tiles.
Modern Mahjong is sharing some Saturday Strategy in our series of posts comparing Tournament and NMJL rules! It is important to recognize the difference between Tournament Rules and NMJL rules. For these posts, we are using Gladys Grad's Tournament Rules. Be sure to check when you enter a tournament since some rules may differ!
Question for the 2022 NMJL Card: Follow Up to Our Saturday Strategy post! Will this impact your discards? With the three exposures pictured, there are many possible discards that could be this opponent's winning tile! Did you catch all eight of these possible discards? If a competitor had these exposures, they could call Mah Jongg in the
2468 section, 6th hand (8 dot, 8 crak)
Like Numbers section, 1st hand (2 crak, 2 dot)
Consecutive Run section, 2nd hand (1 dot, 1 crak, 3 dot, 3 crak)
You asked and the National Mah Jongg League answered! Rolling the dice is a NMJL rule.
How do you read the card? The section headers give insight! So do the colors on the card.
Today's Modern Mahjong's Saturday Strategy asks the question, "Did you know if there is a rule about returning tiles to the sloping part of the rack if a hand is declared dead? If so, when does this rule apply?" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMgb-YlQfZU&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=38
Modern Mahjong Saturday Strategy - The NMJL does not have a rule forbidding a player to call themselves dead. If they don't follow that suggestion and comment that their hand is dead, it must be verified by another player. Below is the excerpt from Mah Jongg Made Easy and then the 2020 NMJL Bulletin.
Can Jokers be redeemed from a Dead Hand?
Challenging a Dead Hand Declaration? From Mah Jongg Made Easy:
Modern Mahjong Learn the Card Series continues with the 2022 NMJL Card. When you have your card, can you find which tiles do not appear as singles on the 2022 NMJL Card? Knowing this can help with defensive play!
Our next Modern Mahjong Saturday Strategy tip! Pay attention when it is your turn or you might pay for the entire table. Do you know what happens if a tile discarded out of turn is called for an exposure and not mahjong? "If a player discards a tile that was claimed for Mah Jongg, but went out of turn, the game stops. The discarder pays 4x's the value of the hand to the winner. If claimed for exposure the call is honored and the game continues." (See pages 21 and 31 of Mah Jongg Made Easy by the NMJL.)
Is it always next in line for calling an exposure or mahjong? The rules are on the back of the card and in Mah Jongg Made Easy. See the exception for when the caller has begun to expose tiles:
Who is East next?
Modern Mahjong sharing some more Saturday Strategy what would you have done? If you were player 1, would you have made a Joker exchange and why?
- In Player 1's rack, they have two Jokers and a Six Crak. They are going for the third hand in the 2468 Section: 222 444 6666 8888
Player 2 discards a 6 crak. Player 3 calls the 6 crak and exposes it along with another 6 crak and one Joker. There is one more 6 crak either in another player's hand or the wall. Would you make the Joker exchange?
Today's ModernMahjong.com Saturday Strategy focuses on the "Blind Pass!"
Following our Modern Mahjong Saturday Strategy post about a Blind Pass, do you know what to do if there are multiple players that want to do a Blind Pass? The answer is found on page 13 of Mah Jongg Made Easy!
- For Tom Sloper's take on this on Sloperama, click here: https://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column534a.html
Do players need to expose tiles in the same pattern as the card? From Mah Jongg Made Easy:
Did you know the National Mah Jongg League rules cover when players pick from the wrong end of the wall? This rule is today’s Modern Mahjong Saturday Strategy!
Today's Saturday Strategy with Modern Mahjong is a reminder of the rule regarding announcing the value of the winning hand.
Saturday Strategy Question! During the Charleston, when you are passed tiles you don’t need, what do you do? Do you either pass them along immediately or put them in your rack and move them around before passing? Are the other player’s watching? https://www.facebook.com/groups/mahjongcommunity/posts/833904593696292
Next in our Learn the Card with Modern Mahjong series, we ask, True or False? Assuming it is the only hand they can be playing based on exposures, I can call another player's hand dead because of the tiles they need for a pair are in the slanted part of my rack.
Saturday Strategy! What else do you consider when calling another player's hand dead when playing by NMJL rules?
Saturday Strategy with Modern Mahjong. While written for play with 144 tiles, this June 8, 2022 article from GameIndustry.com with tips and tricks may be for you! Do any of these five strategies also apply to your style of play? Plan Ahead, Keep your Play Style Flexible, Avoid Taking the First Discard, Always Keep a Pair Handy, and Avoid Tile Gaps
For the 2021 card, many players commented that there are early mahjongs before the fourth wall and many are self-picked. How does that impact the general rule of patience? Are you changing your strategy or staying patient? What are you finding with the 2022 card? Let us know at ModernMahjong@gmail.com!
What are your house rules? A great discussion on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mahjongcommunity/posts/1227078747712206
Does calling Mah Jongg even without an exposure trump a call for the prior discard? This is the question answered by the National Mah Jongg League in today's Learn the Card with Modern Mahjong. In the photos, you will see our letter to the NMJL and their reply.
Not exactly strategy, we shared Tom Sloper's Bad Habits (Pet Peeves) of players. www.facebook.com/groups/mahjongcommunity/posts/1158486274571454?
Misnamed (Miscalled) Tiles:
If a player misnames a tile, and a player calls Mah Jongg with the misnamed tile, they owe 4x the value of the hand. However, what if two players call Mah Jongg, one on the misnamed tile and one on the actual tile discarded?
Discussion on Facebook led to our letter to the NMJL about 1. misnamed tile, 2. whether the rule for misnamed tile applies for Joker that is misnamed. Does discarder pay 4x value of hand for "penalty win.?" We will update when we receive a reply.
Today's Saturday Strategy post asks "do you appreciate that we share the actual rules from the back of the NMJL card and Mah Jongg Made Easy?" We share these posts so players know the actual rules & are on a level playing field. As our friend Theresa Bounassi says, "There are no mahjong police." Of course, groups can choose to make house rules at their own games. It is a great idea to review house rules with new players or when you join a new game.
During our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk with Michele Frizzell she shared top strategies. In this post, we share Michele's three types of tells relating to mahjong: Verbal, Physical and Tiles. We also share some of our additional strategy tips from Modern Mahjong. For players not on Facebook, they can view these strategies on YouTube (https://youtu.be/ETXO8CMDGPg) and the replay of our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk on YouTube.com/ModernMahjong
Wow! Did you make it this far! Congratulations on reading all of our rule and strategy posts! What did you think? Have any to share or any questions? Comment on Facebook.com/groups/MahjongCommunity or email us at ModernMahjong@gmail.com.
- Our Facebook.com/groups/MahjongCommunity Video on Etiquette https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAwjzTSVbeA
During our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk with Michele Frizzell she shared top strategies. In this YouTube video, we share Michele's three types of tells relating to mahjong: Verbal, Physical and Tiles. We also share some of our additional strategy tips from Modern Mahjong. View the post here: (https://youtu.be/ETXO8CMDGPg) and the replay of our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk on YouTube.com/ModernMahjong\
- When is a player committed to a tile? In our Modern Mahjong Strategy Series, we discuss when the tiles are yours whether you pick from the wall, call a tile or discard. Is racking required and is tapping the same as racking? What happens if you don't rack? https://youtu.be/jQQJZ4XwFks
- Clearing up rules about starting the game, rolling the dice and dealing tiles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mL8iAOyjr3w&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=46
- East Rolls Dice, an exaggerated example! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3stoFibSl04&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=6
- Hot Walls, Cold Walls, Hot Tiles, Defensive Play: Saturday Strategy with Modern Mahjong. Are you confused when you hear the terms Hot Tile, Hot Wall and Cold Wall? Does your group play with these house rules? How do the NMJL rules govern defensive play? This discussion is now uploaded to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cInn2ItKVG8
- Changing Seats at the table, PIVOT, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi4vSSeQN8A&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=48
- Mah Jongg with Three Players, No Charleston https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRgDZi2mMm8&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=50
- Clearing UP Misconceptions about Jokers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=289saHPGEww&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5
- Return tiles to sloping part of rack when Mah Jongg in Error, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMgb-YlQfZU&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=38
- Replay of our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk with Barney Gallasio - review of the 2022 Annual National Mah Jongg League Card, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nabBupOsgHs&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=42
- Replay of our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk with Donna Miller-Smaill, Advanced Strategies, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I_9RfgLNwA&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=44
- Replay of our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk with Michele Frizzell, Top Strategies, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Rh1rQqHXjc&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=45
- Replay of our Modern Mahjong Zoom Talk with Karen Gooen a/k/a Bubbe Fischer, Tips and Tricks for NMJL Play, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycRetlG5jWk&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=47
- Learn the Card with Modern Mahjong Series - Does everyone remember the study guides Cliff Notes? The National Mah Jongg League cannot fit all the rules and explanations on the card so the card can be compared to Cliff Notes for Mah Jongg Made Easy. We thought this video would be a fun & interesting way to review some rules on the card. Let us know if this is helpful and we will share other similar videos! https://youtu.be/5KgMR0ylElk
- Learn the Card with Modern Mahjong Video Part 2. Today we continue with our review of the card. We thought this video would be a fun & interesting way to review some rules on the card. Thanks for letting us know our first video was helpful and we will continue to share other similar videos! https://youtu.be/skQkV-Ialds
- Learn the Card with Modern Mahjong Video Part 3. Today we continue with our review of the card. We thought this video would be a fun & interesting way to review some rules on the card. Thanks for letting us know our first video was helpful and we will continue to share other similar videos! https://youtu.be/0dkmZ9GXTHA
- Learn the Card with Modern Mahjong Video Part 4. Today we continue with our review of the Mah Jongg in Error section of the card. We thought this video would be a fun & interesting way to review some rules on the card! https://youtu.be/HBvixyD6nyM
- An overview of materials used in mahjong tiles, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS5miF2JGpA&list=PL29wQLXM9RcPXZNB949ZGwtFOXMGLwUg5&index=2
Recommended reading. Both available on ModernMahjong.com.