Tournament play is a great way to meet new people and network with others who like to play competitively. You will play better and improve your mah jongg skills. You'll challenge yourself, learn new strategies and naturally play faster ! You won't get bored for the next player to throw a tile!
You don’t need to memorize the card but be familiar with it. Remember the card will be in front of you the entire time. You are required to bring the card to the tournament.
You will be given a rule sheet at the tournament, and they will be reviewed with you by the tournament director before play begins but it is a good idea to review them on the tournament website beforehand.
You will naturally play faster in a tournament because there is no chit chat or checking cell phones between games. There are 50 minutes allotted for each game and a timer will be displayed for you to keep track of time. You will need to be mindful of time but if you are familiar with the card and are able to make quick decisions there should be no problem keeping the game moving so that your table finishes. Remember some rounds will naturally be faster than others. Wall games tend to run longer and very rarely do players run out of time.
To start your turn always pick first!! It is also imperative that you pick from the correct side of the wall. Walls get pushed out to the left (clockwise) and play is to the right (counterclockwise). If you are not sure which side, don’t be afraid to ask. When you call for a tile, remember to place your tile on top of the rack, not in the rack.
It is common courtesy to ask to exchange a tile for a joker. Never touch another player's tiles. Don’t draw attention to a player who has discarded a joker. It is always nice to give 1 or 2 seconds for people at the table to call for a tile before you quickly grab the next tile and place it in your rack. It is also polite for the East player to identify their Jokers, 1 Bam and Flowers in their set so there is no confusion. Congratulate the winner and always allow the player who declares “Mah Jongg” to display their hand before you show yours.
Don’t forget to rack your tiles! . Once a tile is racked after it has been picked, the last discard cannot be called by another player. Some players find that they must play with one hand so that they remember to pick before they throw. Remember racking means that the tile picked from the wall is placed in the rack…not in front of, on top of, or behind the rack.
You are committed to a call (take) when you have touched a tile, exposed tiles from your hand on your rack, or placed the called tile on top of your rack.
If you discard a tile to a player that has two exposures you will be penalized 10 points. If you throw a tile to a player who has three exposures, you will be penalized 25 points. If there is very little or no chance that you can win Mah Jongg, it is your best strategy to withhold a "hot" tile that could result in another player’s MJ. There is only one winner in a MJ game. If you discard a “hot” tile, you may be helping your opponents win.
The East player at each table will be responsible for scoring the points for each player. The scores will be recorded on a scoresheet. Any person who picks their own mah jongg will add ten points to the score on the NMJL card. Each player will be asked to review and sign off on everything written on the scoresheet before it is brought up to the director’s table. Don’t forget you will lose points for throwing a mah jongg to a person with two or three exposures. You will also be given your own scoresheet to keep track for yourself.