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Declaring Your Own Hand Dead  (Article ID 26)

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Abstract:  A player should not call their hand dead, even if their hand is no longer viable. A hand is only declared dead by another player. If a hand is declared dead by another player, the player whose hand is dead immediately stops playing. If a player knows their hand is dead, but another player has not noticed it, the player continues to play defensively.    

Question from a player:  Do you have to announce that your hand is dead? 
 
Answer from the NMJL

“A player should never announce their hand is dead.  It gives their opponents more picks and a greater chance to win the game. They should continue to play the game defensively until someone else calls their hand dead.  If you announce your hand dead, it isn’t official until another player verifies that mah jongg can’t be made.”

Source:  National Mah Jongg League Bulletin 2021 (updated 2/2021)


Other answers from the NMJL: 

You do not have to announce that your hand is incorrect.  However, if any of your opponents notice your error, then you immediately stop picking and discarding.  In either case, you cannot mah jongg.  Bettor pays the same as the player bet on. 
 
“You do not have to announce that your hand is incorrect.  However, if any of your opponents notice your error, then you immediately stop picking and discarding.” 
 
“You do not have to announce that your hand is incorrect.  However, if any of your opponents notice your error, then you immediately stop piking and discarding.  In either case, you cannot mah jongg.” 
 
“You do not have to announce that your hand is incorrect.  However, if any of your opponents notice your error, then you immediately stop picking and discarding.” 
 
“There is no advantage in announcing that your hand is incorrect.  You continue to play.  However, if any of the other three players notice, then you must discontinue picking and discarding.” 
 
“A player cannot and should not decide to declare their own hand dead.  There certainly is no advantage.  You would be giving more picks to the other three players.  Your “finesse” playing can be to your advantage – wall game.” 
 
“A player should never call their own hand dead.  By doing so, the other three players now become entitled to more picks, thus giving them a great chance to make mah jongg.  Always wait until another player declares your hand dead.” 
 
“We recommend that a player should not declare their own hand dead.  Even if the hand actually is dead, the player should continue to play defensively until someone else calls the hand dead.  If you announce that your hand is dead, it is not officially dead until another player verifies that mah jongg cannot be made.  Verification can be made only when an exposed hand is being played and another player can deem the hand dead, based on the fact that certain tiles have been discarded or have been called for exposure.”  

Source for other answers: National Mah Jongg League Bulletin Q&A (1967 page 4, 1968 page 4, 1969 page 4, 1971 page 4, 1972 page 4, 1973 page 4, 1974 page 4, 1976 page 4, 1981 page 4, 1987 page 4, 1990 page 5, 1991 page 5, 1997 page 6, 1998 page 6, 2000 page 5, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011,  2015, 2018, 2020) https://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org

Declaring Your Own Hand Dead  (Article ID 26)
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