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East has Wrong Number of Tiles Before the Game Begins (Article ID 36)
Abstract: If a player discovers they have the wrong number of tiles after the Charleston, all tiles are thrown in, and the game begins again. There is an exception to this rule – when the player with only 12 tiles is the player to the left of East. This player can take their thirteenth tile as long as East has not discarded to start the game. This is the reason why every player should count their tiles at the end of the Charleston.
Question from a player: After the Charleston, East discovers that she has 13 tiles. The player opposite East discovers that she has 14 tiles. How do we proceed?
Answer from the NMJL: “Should any player’s hand contain the wrong number of tiles before the Charleston, the tiles are thrown in and the wall is broken again. If the player to the left of East has only twelve tiles after picking the tiles from the wall or after the Charleston, only this player may rightfully pick the thirteenth “tile if East has not discarded the first tile.”
Source: Mah Jongg Made Easy 2020 page 19 #9
Other answers from the NMJL:
“The game does not officially begin until East discards her 14th tile. Therefore, if East and the player opposite did not have the correct number of tiles, the tiles are thrown in and a new game started.”
Source for other answers:
National Mah Jongg League Bulletin Q&A 2002 https://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org