How to play


Mah-jongg is played with 152 tiles that are divided into four groups -- Honors, Suits, Flowers and Jokers -- according to the rules of the National Mah-Jongg League in New York.

The object of the game is to come up with winning combinations. Fourteen tiles are needed to complete a winning hand.

Every spring, the league sends its members a new score card listing an average of 52 new hands that can be used that year.

It makes the game a little more exciting, says league president Ruth Unger.

"I lead a group of 10 ladies," she says. "We meet in August, play mah-jongg six hours a day, three days a week, from August through the third week of November, creating the new hands and new rules.

"This is not done by computer. It is truly done by our playing the card and seeing how it works," she says.

Here are some of the terms used in mah-jongg:

* Charleston: The exchange of tiles between the players before the play starts.

* East: Position referred to as the first player.

* Hot tile: A tile needed by another player.

* Pair: Consists of two like tiles.

* Pung: Consists of three like tiles.

* Quint: Consists of five of a kind, including at least one Joker.

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