2.2 The Deal
The complete game of Mah Jong ordinarily consists of 16 hands (or deals), though the number may be increased each time the dealer (East) wins, or when a deal ends in a draw. Each hand begins with the building of the Wall, breaking it, and dealing the tiles.
Before the game starts players throw the dice several times in order to determine the seat order, the first dealer (East) and to determine the place where the Wall is to be broken.
Before each hand all the tiles are placed face down on the table and thoroughly mixed by non-dealers, until East gives the command 'Pow' (meaning 'start'), after which each of the four players picks up 34 tiles and builds a row of tiles in front of him, 17 tiles long and 2 high (if Flowers and Seasons are used, 36 tiles are picked, forming a 18 tiles long row; if only Flowers are used, East and West build a 18-tile long row and South and North build a 17-tile long row). Each player then pushes his row forward to form a hollow square. This formation is called Wall.
To determine the breaking point of the Wall, the dealer (East) throws the two dice and counts counterclockwise round the walls, beginning with himself as one (accordingly, numbers 5 and 9 indicate East, numbers 2, 6 and 10 South, numbers 3, 7 and 11 West and numbers 4, 8 and 12 North). East then counts off along the tiles of the top tier of the wall indicated by the dice (a stack of two tiles at a time), starting from the right end. E.g., if he throws 6, he will count 6 stacks from the right end of the South's wall.
Figure 2. Building and breaking the Wall.
The walls are pushed together so that an enclosed space is formed in the middle of the table.
East throws the two dice – eight, in this case – and counts counterclockwise round the walls.
East then counts off 8 stacks (the number indicated by the last cast of the dice) along the tiles of the top tier of the wall of the player indicated in stage B (North's wall in this case), starting from the right end, and breaks the wall. The 16 tiles to the right of the breaking point (gray tiles in the picture) constitute the Dead Wall.
The players take each 2 stacks of tiles (i.e., four tiles at a time) from the start of the live Wall, in order East, South, West and North, until each player has 16 tiles. East then picks one tile more to have 17 tiles in hand.
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