American Mahjong for those of us, who are not familiar with it is a game that features a series of 152 patterned tiles. This game will require a total of four players and although the game will draw to an end whenever one of the player manages to acquire fourteen tiles within a "set", it is the player who has the hand of the highest value that will be declared the ultimate winner of the game. In the event that none of the players in the current game have been successful at creating mah-jong, then the game will automatically end whenever the number of tiles has been depleted.
Much like the card game known as "Rummy", the players will be required as a matter of course to acquire and build sets, which are little more than groups of a series of related tiles that are united by virtue of some degree of commonality. These include the likes of:
Dragons: These come in the colours green, red and white with a total of four tiles to each dragon.
Bamboos: featuring a total of 36 tiles, the numbers range from 1-9 with a total of four tiles to each numbered bamboo tile.
Scoring in American Mahjong
As briefly alluded to and touched upon earlier within the article, the player will need to work towards earning points in order to stand a chance of winning the game. With that in mind then, it is imperative that the player comes to terms with three very basic terms used within the game:
This is the term used to refer to four tiles that are the same type and value. Therefore, possessing four tiles of the green dragon will constitute a kong.
Is the term used to refer to three tiles that are the same type and value. Therefore, possessing three tiles of the green dragon will constitute a pung.
As alluded to earlier within the article, the 155 tiles that are operative during a Mahjong game are and can be divided into different groups or families. On a superficial level, a chow is similar to a pung in that in order for a player to competently possess a chow, they must have three tiles which belong to the same group (such as three bamboo tiles, or three wind tiles).
However, the crucial difference between a pung and a chow is that whereas the pung requires that the three tiles must be of equal type and value…the rules are relaxed slightly for the chow. Specifically, the requirement is that the tiles that are to be used for the chow need only belong to the same family in addition to being consecutive in number. Therefore, using this logic then, a player whose hand includes bamboo tiles which are 3,4,5 in value will have a chow. However, if they had a bamboo tiles that were 3,4 and 6 then they would not have a chow.
A final word of caution: be wary about what tiles you discard. The reason for this is that it can reveal to your rivals what tiles you are currently looking for thereby giving them a better idea as to how strong/weak you currently are.