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a3geffen's Hints and Pointers – to kong or not to kong

To comment visit Mahjong Time's blog: http://mahjongtime.blogspot.com/2011/04/a3geffens-hints-and-pointers-to-kong-or.html

There are quite a number of manuals on the basics of how to play a game of mahjong. The amount on strategy and tactics however is limited. Mahjong Time has asked Adrie van Geffen (a3geffen) to share his views in that territory. In the year 2011 he will publish a series of articles with hints and pointers having to do with strategy of mahjong in the different styles (except American): Hong Kong (HK); European Classic (EC); Mahjong Competition Rules (MCR); Riichi Competition Rules (RCR); Taiwanese (TW). Below part 8 – To kong or not to kong

All too often I sit at a table and hear 'Kong' and all too often I wonder: 'Why?'. This is especially the case is the pung isn't exposed yet. It seems that a lot of players underestimate the amount of information that is revealed to the other players when a set is melded. Claiming a tile to 'promote' a concealed pung to kong is in most instances just a show off and not helping. Apart from EC, where you get double points compared to pungs, in no other style the points weigh out the information revealed. Color, all pungs, tile no longer available for players: too much to risk. A consideration both IRL as on MJT is to hamper a player calling 'chow' which one can overrule with a kong. Otherwise it's hardly of any use.

What is more is that a lot of times neighboring tiles are the ones to be discarded after the kong is claimed. Those tiles often prove to be on the list of tiles to discard next for other players too: you are the one that knows that the discarded and adjacent tile is no longer available but to you which gives you opportunity to use the pung you have for three chows with them. If not then you still have got a concealed pung worth something. And when things get tougher and you manage to make only one chow you have either a closing pair available or possibly two safe tiles to discard.

Another way of playing should be taken into consideration. If you have adjacent tiles to you pung in hand you'd do well to think about making a pung when the fourth is discarded for you to claim. You stay in color and the chances that you can make a chow, using that fourth tile you already have, could be profitable. If necessary you can always promote your melded pung to a kong. Of course beware if you have punged while another player claimed a chow on that tile. That's something you should keep in mind as well as having a close check on the discards of that player. You don't want to lose by having your kong robbed.

As usual RCR makes making kongs even more dangerous. Or profitable. Another dora indicator tile will be turned and you should be quite convinced of your own victory to do such a thing. You should have a chance to make mahjong on the replacement tile after making the kong (which goes for more styles) but also you have to consider if the dora indicator could be profitable for you. Are lower adjacent tiles to you own still available to be turned up?

Personally I'm not much of a konger. As said: hardly of any use. Unless of course in RCR and there are already the game shows 3 kongs already. Usually I will be happy to make the fourth kong to end the nightmare immediately.



Written by Adrie van Geffen
homepage: http://homepages.ipact.nl/~geffen

To comment visit Mahjong Time's blog: http://mahjongtime.blogspot.com/2011/04/a3geffens-hints-and-pointers-to-kong-or.html
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a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - Big Hands
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - To Kong or not To Kong
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - First Discard
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - Exclusion Rule MCR
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - 1-4-7 Rule
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - Flower Power
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - Levels of Play
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - Right Time to Act
a3geffen's Hints and Pointers - Be Comfortable
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