The softcover version of Babcock's famous " Little Red Book." First edition, 1920.
Inside the front cover.
Close-up look at the printing information inside the front cover. Later editions always tacked on later printing dates, as shown in the scan below.
Close-up look at the printing information from a later edition.
The hardcover version of Babcock's famous "Little Red Book."
Published by the Mah-Jongg Sales Company of America, San Francisco and Shanghai (Chinese Post Office Box No. 1).
Twelfth printing, January, 1924.
Babcock's contributions to mah-jongg, both good and bad, are documented in FAQ 11. An interesting thing about this hardcover book is that Babcock refers to the game as played in America as "mah-jongg" and to the Chinese game as "."
MAH-JONGG is a game developed by the author from the old Chinese game of . This Chinese game itself was a gradual development of centuries of play in China.
The Chinese learn as children and consequently feel no need for a book of instructions or rules. The result has been that in the different sections of China innovations and deviations have been introduced to such an extent that today there is no recognized standard Chinese method of play throughout China. Nor is it possible to obtain in Chinese any codified laws and rules for the game, such as would be necessary for foreign play.
It was the author's intention to produce a game which would include many of the interesting features of the old Chinese game adapted to foreign thought and custom, and that would be so simplified and standardized in form that it could be easily mastered by a set of written rules.
In 1920 the English index numbers for the tiles were first introduced by the author and the first edition of these rules appeared. This game played with the English indexed tiles as covered by the author's rules was given the name of MAH-JONGG.
These rules for Mah-Jongg were written after a careful investigation and study of the many conflicting methods of play of the game of , prevailing in different parts of China. As a result, Mah-Jongg not only embraces most of
the interesting features of the Chinese game, but a number of changes and, from a foreign viewpoint, improvements have been introduced. These were the first rules in any language based on the old Chinese game of , and this was the first attempt ever made to popularize this class of Oriental game among others than Chinese.
The success of the first edition has been attested by the rapidity with which players, who have never had the opportunity of seeing the game played, have been able to master the Standard Rules, and by the popularity of the game and the rules wherever the game has been taken up. These rules were adopted officially by the American Club, and by the Union Club of Shanghai, the latter an organization with Chinese, British, and American membership.
As a result of the first edition, Mah-Jongg attained great popularity among the foreign community in the treaty ports of China, and with their increased knowledge of the game and the interest aroused in China and other countries, there has arisen a demand for a more detailed and complete book on the subject. It is this demand which the following pages were designed to satisfy.
In this second edition, considerable attention has been given to such irregularities as may occur in the game, particularly when it is played by inexperienced players, and an attempt has been made to cover clearly all situations that may arise to perplex the new player. It is to be hoped that this book will obviate for beginners the necessity of personal instruction and at the same time
serve as a comprehensive reference authority for advanced. players.
The reader may rest assured that for the small amount of time and effort required to master the elementary principles of the game, he will be many times repaid in the enjoyment he will derive from playing Mah-Jongg.
There are no printed and generally adopted rules for in Chinese or in any other language, and the game is played in various ways in different sections of China. There are, however, certain generally accepted rules and customs which are observed by all Chinese players.
The game of MAH-JONGG, the rules for which are outlined in the preceding pages, embraces a number of these Chinese methods of play, but for the benefit of those who desire to study all the complicated Chinese formalities and customs of the Chinese game , those features of are given below that differ from the author's game of MAH-JONGG.
New Method: In the New Method which is fast finding favor in certain Chinese communities, East does not pay out nor receive double stakes. The player who discards the tile which allows another player to complete his hand, pays the winner double stakes. No double stakes are paid between any of the three losers. If the winner draws the winning tile from the wall, he receives double stakes from each of the three other players.
In the New Method a player is not liable for the insurance penalty, if he holds any Waiting hand at the time he discards the winning tile.
The New Method of play has a great deal of merit, and is favored by more advanced players, as it puts more of a premium on skill and a penalty on carelessness or lack of foresight in discarding. However, this method is not recommended for beginners.
Other Methods: Where players prefer a game with higher or lower scores it is sometimes decided, prior to the beginning of play, to score more or less than 20 points for Game. 10 points, 30 points, 50 points, and 100 points are occasionally used as a score for game instead of 20 points.
In another method of play, one which is seldom used, East does not pass from one player to the next in rotation (counterclockwise). Instead, the player who wins the hand becomes East for the succeeding hand.
In some localities there is a rule in force that as soon as four sets of four of a kind have been declared, a Draw Game is declared, the East passing to the right. This rule is not generally recognized by the Chinese except in a few sections. In many places there is an interesting Chinese rule in force with regard to Punging. If a player fails or refuses to Pung a certain discarded tile and another player discards a similar tile, the first player may not Pung this second discard unless he has had a turn and drawn from the wall in the interim between the two discards This applies to Punging for three or four of a kind and for completion of a hand as well. The player may, however, take this second discard for a Chow, even though he has not drawn from the wall in the interim.
The game of originated in China, probably in Ningpo, although it is also claimed that Fukien Province was the place of origin. Little is known of the early history of the game, but it was probably a more or less gradual development of several ancient Chinese card games.
In the beginning no wall was built, each player merely drawing his tiles from the center where the 136 tiles were placed face down and shuffled. The wall was developed and the dice introduced, as were most of the other elaborate formalities of the game, in order to insure chance and avoid choice in the Draw. in its present form has been played throughout China for the past fifty or one hundred years. Probably no other game has ever been devised that is so thoroughly proof against errors of intent on the part of the unscrupulous. Consequently, there is very little
opportunity for such differences of opinion as frequently arise in other games.
The Chinese, to whom are attributed the inventions of chess, dominoes, and playing cards, in have added another great game to their long list of achievements. The game of has stood the test of centuries of play in China and is still by far the most popular game there today. During this time the Chinese have developed the fine points of the game to an extent not reached in any Occidental game.
MAH-JONGG appears likely to secure the same firm hold among Americans and Europeans that has among the Chinese. Once the comparatively simple rudiments of MAH-JONGG have been mastered, the player of the Occident soon feels the Oriental fascination of the game and begins to appreciate that here at last he has been introduced to the ideal combination of skilful play and chance.
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