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Mastering how to control your 下家


For anyone who loves to play mahjong should know this saying: Keeping an eye of your 下家, block your 上家, and be defensive of your 对家. Basically following what your 下家 throws, will be one of the best defensive actions to take during a game. It’s harder to control your 上家 and your 对家, which therefore it’s easier to keep an eye on your 下家 so we can have a better chance not to be the one who threw the tiles for others to win.

Below are some of our analyses on how to control your 下家. But we strongly recommend taking the advice written in this blog with an open heart as there might be many other factors and scenarios that might not be taken into consideration. Do comment in the comment box if you’ve any other advice for the readers here too!

1. Remember what your 下家 throws

It might not be enough to just remember what your 下家 throws, but also to master the habits and tricks on how your 下家 plays, which will help in guessing what tiles they might hold to the game.

In the scenario, if your 下家 throws in the sequence of 南风、西风、一万、九万、二筒, we can throw the same tiles as what the 下家 throws as well as 三四万 and 四五筒. Because take an example, when they throw 一万, usually their hands might hold 三四万。 Therefore throwing 三四万 might be safer.

At the same time, throwing 万 will be safer by observing the 5 tiles your 下家 previously discard. As your 下家 already threw 2 of the 万 from his/her hand but no 索 was discarded. Therefore there might be a chance that he/she is currently forming 一色 of 索 or have more 索 tiles in his/her hand.

It’s very important to analyze the overall tiles that your 下家 discarded, so you have a better guess of what safer tiles to throw next.

2. Fishing your 下家

Try discarding either one of 三,四,五,六,七 万 索 or 筒 during the first few tiles discarding rounds, you will be able to expand the border of range to guess and analyze what your 下家 might eat/pong.

By doing so, you will get the following results: (1) fish your 下家, and see if he/she needs this type of similar tiles (2) knowing what your 下家 might wants, you can always hold on to 1 safe tile that he/she doesn’t want when you know your 下家 is about to 胡.

Keeping an eye on 下家 is important, but it’s also as important to also keep an eye on our own current tiles for the sake of winning. It’s not always about being on the defensive but also about being ready to attack.

3. Analyze the discarded tiles (either been 碰, 吃 or 过)

It’s important to analyze the tiles your 下家 碰or 吃、this will allow you to be in control of your 下家. The more tiles your 下家 revealed, the more accurate your analysis and judgment will be.

In the scenario, if your 下家 has eaten 2 sets of the same family tile - such as 一,二,三索 and 四,五, 六索。 At this junction, there is a possibility your 下家 is doing 一色 or 半色. It won’t be ideal for other players to discard any 索子 further.

If your 下架 has already 碰 2 of the 大牌 (such as 中 and 发), there is a very high possibility he/she will be going for 大三元 or 小三元. At this point in time, even if you hold a 白板, you should never consider discarding it.

4. Scouting

Scouting is a good strategy to use when your 下家 has yet to eat or pong any tiles and leaves you in doubt about his/her hand tiles. By doing so, you can throw a more center tile (such as 四/五/六 万 or 筒or 索) and see what the next action your 下家 might takes.

In the scenario, if you throw a 四万, below are the possibilities

  • If 下家 eat your 四万 with 五、六万, there is a possibility he/she is doing 一色

  • If 下家 eats your 四万 with 二、三万, there’s a possibility he/she needs more 万字 but might not be doing 一色

  • If 下家 eats your 四万 with 三、五万, doesn’t means he will need more 万字, it could mean he/she is reluctant to give up the opportunity to eat a middle tile.

  • If 下家 didn’t even attempt to eat and went to draw a new tile without even looking at it, it shows that he doesn’t need 万字 tiles at all.

  • Even if 下家 didn’t attempt to eat, his/her eyes still pause and ponder on the 四万 while drawing a new tile, it indicates that he/she is tempted by the 万字. But considering some of the factors such as not breaking a certain sequence or too early to reveal what characters he/she is collecting.

  • Even if 下家 didn’t attempt to eat but pause and ponder before drawing a new tile, it indicates that he/she is currently in an important juncture of determining the type of way(s) to play and usually it’s something to win big. This is when you need to be extra careful with the tiles you’re throwing next or observe the number of 台(s) you have, to determine if you want to continue on attacking or defensive mode.

In summary, winning the game thru tiles guessing or remembering the tiles complements each other. Tiles guessing must be used in conjunction with memory. And some mahjong players who often play mahjong together have some common/unique habitual language and actions. Combining the sequence of the tiles the other player throws, and with the words and actions that follow, it might be easier to obtain more accurate analysis to allow you to get in control of the game and you might be even at a more advantageous position to win the game


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