Intentionally Giving a Winning Mah Jongg Tile

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At a recent Mah Jongg game I played simply for fun, a veteran player who is at an advanced level discarded a tile she was certain another player needed for Mah Jongg. I was shocked when she offered the coveted tile for Mah Jongg. As expected, the other player called for the tile and won the game. Another player at the table asked the veteran player if she would have discarded the tile if we had been playing for money. “Of course not”, was the reply, “I would have broken up my hand.” I was surprised that this player was willing to compromise her principles of defensive play in offering the winning tile, even without monetary loss.  


We all agree that Mah Jongg requires skill and luck. It’s also a battle between offense and defense. It is often said, “The best offense is a good defense.” It certainly requires a lot of luck and skill to win a game when there is good defense from all the players. That’s the challenge. So it was a little surprising that such a good player would voluntarily cast aside defense, and also admit that she played a tile which would likely result in a win for someone else.

Sometimes I play Mah Jongg for money, and sometimes just as a friendly game. However I try to play the same level of defense whether or not there is money at stake. I have broken up my hand on numerous occasions. There have also been times when I should have broken up my hand but inadvertently discarded a tile that was subsequently called for Mah Jongg. But I can’t say that I have ever purposefully discarded a tile I expected would be called for Mah Jongg. Why would I bother to play?

What do you think? Does your strategy change if there is money involved?

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  1. Faye  February 25, 2016

    I tend to play very defensively 99% of the time. It doesn’t matter where I am playing I will not throw an obvious winning tile. I also play mostly for money so I guess it is ingrained in my playing. It does bother me when players do throw something obvious. I feel defense is part of the game!

  2. Rubysue  February 25, 2016

    I also agree. A woman who is a fairly new player can’t seem to comprehend the art of playing defensively and I tried explaining this is just as important of making your own hand. We do play for money but in all honesty I play with women who are excellent players and we play many hands. As much as I enjoy this woman’s company we don’t ask her to play in our weekly private game.

  3. ahuva18  February 25, 2016

    Sometimes people say they play the same whether for money or not. I don’t believe that because maybe in our minds we would like to think so, but it just isn’t so. Playing for money adds another element to the game, even it it’s just for quarters. So I think the reason she threw her the Mah Jongg tile was because she had borrowed a cup of sugar and never gave it back.

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