Ask Mama Jong: Decluttering

Help, Mama Jong! My haipais are a total mess. What do I do to make sense of it all and live an ordered and mangan-full life?

Decluttering is all the rage after Marie Kondo managed to not only convince Netflix to pay her big bucks to grin patronisingly at people’s emotional issues crammed into a closet, but also turn her name into a verb.


Mama Jong likes to live in the zeitgeist, so here are my haipai decluttering tips!

First, do not greet your fellow players. The important thing here is to greet your space. Humans only mess with the great nagare. Sit at the table with your eyes closed and say a prayer. You’re going to need divine help because whoever told you mahjong is a game of skill was a conman and did not have your best interests at heart. And who cares about good manners? This is mahjong ffs.

Divide your haipai by category. Take a moment for utter disbelief. Is it truly possible to have 13 completely useless tiles right at the start?! This is the point where you should mutter something about WRC rules not allowing Kyushu Kyuhai redeals. Those rulewriters are obviously not lovers of the minimalist. I suspect they sit in houses full of the terminals and honors they’ve hoarded and never discarded.

Next, pick up each tile and ask yourself the question: Does this spark yaku?

If the answer is no, take the tile, thank it for its service and place it gently in the discard pool to probably be recycled by another player building the world’s most obvious full flush.

If the answer is, yes, it does spark yaku, tidy the tile up and place it neatly in your hand. Bonus fu if you manage to fold it and stack it upright with the symbol showing.

Finally, don’t forget to say goodbye to your tembo as you make payments. Maybe hold them against your cheek, recall the fond times together when you were first place before gently passing them to the winner of the hand. THAT will make people think twice before calling a win on one of your discarded tiles.

These are just my basic tips to start your decluttered mahjong life. Want more of this? You’ll need to wait for my bestselling self-help book and collection of small boxes that will retail for $90 and look suspiciously like those plastic trays you get in mahjong tile sets.

Mama Jong

Mama Jong has been playing mahjong since there were only three winds.