For the fourth post in this 5-part series, I’ll share my opinion of National Mah Jongg League rules, also know as American style. This style was created by the National Mahjong League (NMJL) in the late 1930s.
Each player uses a card that describes approximately 30 pattern-based hands. The card is published with fresh patterns every April and can be purchased at the NMJL website. The hands are arranged in categories like the current year, 2468, 369, 13579, consecutive numbers, honors, singles and pairs. This style requires the player to gather singles, pairs, pungs (3 of a kind), kongs (4 of a kind), quints and/or sextets to match one of the hands on the card. Flower tiles are used in many of the hands and there are eight joker tiles that can be used for anything but singles and pairs. One of the elements that make this game unique is the exchange of tiles called the Charleston where unwanted tiles are passed multiple times before the first discard.
This style is probably the most common way to play in the United States especially amongst Senior Citizens and the Jewish Community. In my opinion, it is one of the hardest styles to learn but is well worth the effort. Unlike Asian versions, players have to pick a hand on the card so they have less flexibility to change their hand when their tiles are used in exposures and discards. The most important skills for players to learn with this style is when to change their hand and picking the next hand to play in time to win.
Learning Curve 4
Next week, I’ll make recommendations.