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  • What is a papentnesist, anyway?

    From: "Illuminator"
    Sent: Sunday, September 27, 2009 2:35 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I recently purchased a new set, and having some familiarity with such
    > things, I recognised everything except an item which I was able to identify
    > on your site as being a cube-in-holder wind indicator. On reading the
    > instructions, however, I found that "the word with the papentnesist is the
    > romanized". Can you confirm this? What is a papentnesist, anyway?

    Hi Ill,
    What, you don't speak Chinglish? (^_^)
    I believe it's supposed to be "parentheses."
    I have that same instruction booklet. It's pretty useless overall. I recommend you figure out which kind of mahjong you want to learn (FAQ 2a), then get a good mahjong book (FAQ 3) or at least find a good website (FAQ 4b). You're welcome to come back with more mahjong questions anytime.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 27, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 13

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Sunday, September 27, 2009 9:36 AM
    >Subject: Re: My redesigned combine-once rule
    >An often-used example is 234C 567C 234D 567D. If you claim fans in order of Short Straight, Mixed Double Chow, Mixed Double Chow, you may get 3 points and if you claim Mixed Double Chow, Mixed Double Chow, Short Straight instead, then you can only get 2 points.
    >Cheers,
    >ithinc

    Good to know! Thanks!


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 12

    >From: ithinc
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Sunday, September 27, 2009 6:21 AM
    >Subject: Re: My redesigned combine-once rule
    >Hello Tom,
    >There may be several methods to reduce the rampant confusion about the exclusionary rule.
    >1/ Restrict the exclusionary rule to apply only to some appointed fans.
    >2/ Cancel the exclusionary rule.
    >3/ Create a new rule to substitute the exclusionary rule, with the similar functions.
    >There is another view, that the order in which one player claims the fans for his hand should not influence the scoring result. The current exclusionary rule is correlated closely with the claiming order. How do you think of this?
    >Cheers,
    >ithinc

    Hi ithinc,
    Yes, I think the notion that "first a primary scoring pattern must be chosen" is flawed. I haven't yet seen a situation in which pattern choice order would make a difference, but it appears to me to be a doorway to potential conflict.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 27, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 11

    >From: ithinc
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Saturday, September 26, 2009 9:12 AM
    >Subject: Re: My redesigned combine-once rule
    >Hi Tom,
    >By two "holes" I meant the exclusionary rule and Four Shifted Chows not permitting with Short Straight or Two Terminal Chows.
    >Cheers,
    >Ithinc

    Hi ithinc,
    The exclusionary rule (the 5th principle) does need clarification from the governing body. I hope they can manage it soon.
    As for the exclusions with Four Shifted Chows, since some people say the exclusion is proper given the fifth principle, and some say it's a proper exclusion given the first principle, and some say it's a proper exclusion given the second principle, I don't see the problem. Clearly it's a proper exclusion, whichever of the three principles one thinks ought to apply.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 26, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 10

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 8:42 AM
    >Subject: Re: My redesigned combine-once rule
    >Hi Tom,
    >No, I was advocating fixes. If the English MCR is not consistent with the Chinese version, then you need clarifications; if the original Chinese rule has a hole, then we need a fix, not a clarification.
    >Is the rampant confusion coming from translation problem? Mostly not. And I'm discussing only two "holes" with you, not rampant.
    >I consultd [regarding the question of which principle prohibits Four Shifted Chows combining with Short Straight or Two Terminal Chows] with Tina Christensen yesterday and she answered "It's the one I call the exclusionary principle". Just for your information.

    Hi ithinc, you wrote:

    Is the rampant confusion coming from translation problem? Mostly not.
    Right. The rule is insufficiently described in Chinese. And just to be clear, I have not advocated writing an English rule that differs from the Chinese rule. The rewritten rule I made at your request is just to clarify the intent of the rule. Obviously it cannot be "official" unless it agrees with the Chinese wording.

    And I'm discussing only two "holes" with you, not rampant.
    There has been rampant confusion (many people confused) about just one rule: the exclusionary rule. The word "rampant" is perfectly applicable here.

    But what is this second "hole" in MCR of which you speak? Is it "combinations of n Kongs"?

    I consultd [regarding the question of which principle prohibits Four Shifted Chows combining with Short Straight or Two Terminal Chows] with Tina Christensen yesterday and she answered "It's the one I call the exclusionary principle". Just for your information.
    It's interesting that this particular example produces the same result even if a different principle is applied to it. That's a good thing!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 26, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 9

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 1:15:06 AM
    >Subject: Re: MCR Scoring - Four Shifted Chows
    >On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 4:58 AM, Tom Sloper wrote:
    >Obviously I agree [that the scoring practices show that the exclusionary rule applies to only numerical combination fan, but it is not consistent with the original written rule]. That's what I've been saying since this conversation started.
    >This is a difficult agreement, for do you know many Chinese don't accept this point.
    >
    >Tina Christensen and Mr. Kugimiya and Kajimoto-san are in that lofty realm; I am not.
    >It's a pity I havn't had a direct discussion with them. There are few players interested in the rule-improvement in China. Most players care only to adapt better to the rules and to improve their playing skills and strategies.
    >
    >The Europeans and Americans and Japanese were all in agreement that a principle would be better than a one-case rule.
    >The Chinese also think so, thus the five principles were created.
    >
    >If you say so. We non-Chinese are just happy to have clarification on how a rule works. Only a small minority of us would ask "why are you finally clarifying this? I was happy being confused and angry!" (^_^)
    >Clarifications are not modifications, so no need to ask why.
    >My object is to improve the Chinese wording and logicalness of MCR. If you're satisfied with only clarifications, we may abandon some discussions.

    Hi ithinc, you wrote:

    My object is to improve the Chinese wording and logicalness of MCR. If you're satisfied with only clarifications, we may abandon some discussions.
    Somehow I had not realized this. All I was doing was seeking clarity. I didn't realize you were advocating change. I think the main problem with MCR is the rampant confusion about certain rules (such as this exclusionary rule); if that isn't the problem we've been discussing, what is the problem you're seeking to fix?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 25, 2009


    Is there any reason to have two sets of dragons?

    >From: Amy
    >Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:38:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I live in the midwestern US and recently purchased a deck of mahjong kards made by Fame. It is suitable for the American game (Western indices, 8 flowers, 8 jokers, no red fives), except that it has two sets of dragons. One set is the standard chung-fa-pai (中發白) dragons with characters and indices C-F-P, four of each, and the other is marked "Red Dragon", "Green Dragon", and "White Dragon" with indices R-G-W, again four of each. Is there any reason to have two sets of dragons? Are they just for esthetic purposes for players used to one type or the other?
    >Thank you for any help you can give to clear this up! In the meantime, I'll play the local Japanese-inspired game with 136 of those kards.
    >Amy

    Hi Amy, you wrote:

    Are they just for esthetic purposes for players used to one type or the other?
    Yep. Pretty smart!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 25, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 8
    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009 4:13 PM
    >Subject: Re: MCR Scoring - Four Shifted Chows
    >Hi Tom,
    >On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 4:58 AM, Tom Sloper wrote:

      I'm sure that if they hold further tournaments this will come up and they'll answer. (Note that I said "if" - haven't heard from them much since Chengdu.

    >Although you may bring out your questions, you maybe won't get clear answers. As I know, the combinations of n Kongs have been asked at Chengdu(or Tianjin?), do you have the answer now? Mostly you can only face the referees, but not the designers. The referees maybe tell you how to do, but they cannot give clear explanations on why.

      Okay, how about this:
      10.1.5.5. Prohibition against repetitive numerical set usage
      Once two or three numerical sets have been combined for a sequential-number-based scoring pattern, any other remaining numerical sets in the hand may be combined only once with an already-scored numerical set, when creating additional two- or three-set sequential-number-based scoring patterns, such as straights or "shifted" scoring patterns.

    >It's more clear now, for non-Chinese-speaking people to learn and use the rule. But it could be of little help to improve the Chinese wording. New Chinese term needs to be created to crespond with "sequential-number-based scoring pattern" and it needs a definition. And modifications to the original Chinese text will be hard to be accepted if you cannot explain why the principle applies only to the sequential-number-based scoring patterns.
    >I'm now interested in how the European players explain this example. Maybe your stance is the standard answer for the Western players?
    >I tell you another fact. In Mr. Sheng Qi's tournaments, Four Kongs even cannot combine with Two Concealed Pungs/Three Concealed Pungs/Four Concealed Pungs. I also hear he thinks Three Concealed Pungs cannot combine with Three Shifted Pungs, but this is not executed in the tournaments.
    >This is my redesigned combine-once rule:
    >Once a set has been used to create a fan, it cannot be used to create another fan which is implied by the previous fan. (A set can only be used once in the same series of fans.) It has similar effects(not fully the same), but my rule is applicable to all fans.
    >Ignore it if you have no interest.
    >Cheers,
    >ithinc

    Hi ithinc, you wrote:

    As I know, the combinations of n Kongs have been asked at Chengdu(or Tianjin?), do you have the answer now?
    Mr. Kugimiya of Japan (another of the great MCR thinkers*) worked very hard on this and provided his analysis to the WMO and to we who found ourselves in the ranks of MCR judges. We have a reasonable understanding of it. But it is not easy to explain, and I am not up to the task.

    * I do not include myself in the cadre of "great MCR thinkers." Tina Christensen and Mr. Kugimiya and Kajimoto-san are in that lofty realm; I am not.

    Mostly you can only face the referees, but not the designers. The referees maybe tell you how to do, but they cannot give clear explanations on why.
    I do not know who the designers were (beyond Mr. Sheng Qi). The WMO, like any organization (and like any organization led by Chinese people?), requires time to make a decision.

    By the way, going back to the All Green + Seven Pairs combination not permitting Tile Hog. When the rule was announced, I remember thinking: "Don't make a rule about just one specific instance; make a rule that clearly explains the principle, so any player can determine the rule in another like circumstance." The Europeans and Americans and Japanese were all in agreement that a principle would be better than a one-case rule.

    modifications to the original Chinese text will be hard to be accepted [in China] if you cannot explain why the principle applies only to the sequential-number-based scoring patterns.
    If you say so. We non-Chinese are just happy to have clarification on how a rule works. Only a small minority of us would ask "why are you finally clarifying this? I was happy being confused and angry!" (^_^)

    I'm now interested in how the European players explain this example. Maybe your stance is the standard answer for the Western players?
    Perhaps. I can not promise it.

    Cheers,
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 24, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 7
    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009 12:19:07 PM
    >Subject: Re: MCR Scoring - Four Shifted Chows
    >Hi Tom,
    >On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 2:37 AM, Tom Sloper wrote:
    >
    >> And with me. I don't mean that it isn't a combination, but that it isn't a combination covered by the exclusionary rule. You and I disagree, and I will not try to convince you to change your mind.
    >
    >So till now our agreement is that the scoring practices show that the exclusionary rule applies to only numberical combination fan, but it is not consistent with the original written rule. Do you agree with this latter half statement?
    >
    >> No. I do not. I don't care to speak for the designers of MCR until and unless they speak first and what they say needs localization/clarification.
    >
    >We may never hear they speak. Do you consider WMO as the designer?
    >
    >> If the WMO adds those, they will have to add a rule to cover them. Until they add those, there is no need to cover them. I'm sorry that in my opinion, this is an esoteric/hypothetical question and I don't care to spend time on it.
    >
    >OK, ignore it.
    >
    >>You know my stance, you know your Chinese friends' stances, you know your own stance. It's an interesting fact, I suppose, that there can be such disparate disagreement on this point.
    >
    >On this point, I know your stance only by now. The improvement would be hard to put forward, if few agreements could be reached.
    >
    >>How about instead of "combinations" as a collective term that encompasses multiple disparate things, thus causing dissension, we consider instead "collections of sets with shared attributes" versus "sequential numerical set combinations"?
    >
    >So when we're considering these, we're designing the rule. Thus I cannot agree with your foregoing statement "I don't care to speak for the designers of MCR until and unless they speak first and what they say needs localization/clarification.".
    >
    >Your thinking is helpful. I would like to see you make these into solid statements, thus re-reword the exclusionary rule. In fact I have my own thoughts, but before we reach an agreement on what's the problem and why it hapeens, it's not the time to discuss how to solve it from my point of view.
    >Cheers,

    Hi ithinc, you wrote:

    >the scoring practices show that the exclusionary rule applies to only numberical combination fan, but it is not consistent with the original written rule. Do you agree with this latter half statement?

    Obviously I agree. That's what I've been saying since this conversation started.

    >We may never hear they speak.

    I'm sure that if they hold further tournaments this will come up and they'll answer. (Note that I said "if" - haven't heard from them much since Chengdu.

    >Do you consider WMO as the designer?

    Yes, but Mr. Sheng Qi was on that design committee, and apparently there was a split and he's not part of the WMO now; I don't know what other participants in the original design went with him in that split. Also, some of his proposals added difficult complications to the rules. I discussed this in Columns 229, 255, and 259. That controversy was his doing, and he was one of the original designers.

    >we're designing the rule. Thus I cannot agree with your foregoing statement "I don't care to speak for the designers of MCR until and unless they speak first and what they say needs localization/clarification.".

    I'm interpreting the reality of how the rule is interpreted in actual live tournaments. It is unfortunate that the rules are so poorly stated in Chinese; then that made it difficult to state them well in English. Let's not get too carried away here; all we're doing is trying to provide clarity on how the rule is intended to be interpreted. Not to rewrite the rule's intent.

    >I would like to see you make these into solid statements, thus re-reword the exclusionary rule.

    Okay, how about this:

      10.1.5.5. Prohibition against repetitive numerical set usage
      Once two or three numerical sets have been combined for a sequential-number-based scoring pattern, any other remaining numerical sets in the hand may be combined only once with an already-scored numerical set, when creating additional two- or three-set sequential-number-based scoring patterns, such as straights or "shifted" scoring patterns. (This principle is sometimes called "combine-just-once" or "assess-once" or "account-once" or "the exclusionary rule.")

    Cheers,
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 24, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 6

    Hi ithinc, I had an afterthought in the shower (the water serving to wash out cobwebs, I suppose).

    How about instead of "combinations" as a collective term that encompasses multiple disparate things, thus causing dissension, we consider instead "collections of sets with shared attributes" versus "sequential numerical set combinations"?

    Shared attributes:
    - Concealedness or exposedness
    - Honors vs. suit tiles
    - Terminals vs. simples

    This way of looking at what the exclusionary principle is trying to cover may clarify things?

    But of course it can also be complicated, because some combinations require opposite attributes rather than shared attributes. "Mixedness" requires one set of each suit; "One Voided Suit" requires the absence of one suit. Imagine a three-kong combination in which the player must have one exposed kong, one concealed kong, and one promoted kong, for instance.

    Hmm. Now who's getting all esoteric/hypothetical...!? (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 24, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 5

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2009 10:23:43 AM
    >Subject: Re: MCR Scoring - Four Shifted Chows
    >Hi Tom,
    >On Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 12:12 AM, Tom Sloper wrote:
    >> I wish you'd mentioned that before! (^_^) See, that's the same thing I was saying. I called it "number-based scoring patterns." The same thing as your 组合番种, I gather.
    >
    >But in my opinion Three Concealed Pungs is a combination fan, and this is where I disagree with my Chinese friends.
    >Your numerical combination is the same to 序数牌组合番种 in my concepts. But people seem not willing to admit or accept that this principle applies to very limited fans, for there will be more people to ask why it applies to so limited fans. So do you have an answer to why the exclusionary rule applies to only numerical combination fans but not to honor combination fans or concealment combinnation fans?
    >
    >> That's Pure Straight. Period. See the Prohibition Against Implied Inclusions. It can't be anything else BUT Pure Straight.
    >
    >You missed my main question. If Concealed Pure Straight/Concealed Short Straight/etc. are added as new fans, will they be numerical combinations? How to score 123B 456B 456B(concealed) 789B(concealed), Pure Straight + Two Identical Chows + Concealed Short Straight or only two?
    >
    >> Yes, it's desired that the rules could be written in such a way that their underlying principles were understandable so anyone could determine how to deal with any given combination. At the last WMO event I attended, the judges were presenting some double-combinations that presented specific problems (I think it was All Green combined with Seven Pairs?). I would have to find my notes from two years ago. But I recall that it raised the specter of situations where no rule could help the common player determine what the rule was; that one would have to ask the WMO.
    >
    >I agree with you on All Green/All Terminals plus Seven Pairs combined with Tile Hog. It's an unnecessary exception. Some rule makers have strange logic.
    >
    >>> I want to hear your opinion about Four Shifted Chows not combining with Short Straight or Two Terminal Chows. How do you explain this to your audience?
    >> The first principle, against implied inclusions. When you make Four Shifted Chows two steps up, Two Terminal Chows is implied. When you make it one step up, Short Straight is implied.

    >
    >It's a bit strange. ^_^ Is this explanation your own invention or from someone else? The first principle is not applicable for neither Short Straight nor Two Terminal Chows is strictly implied by Four Shifted Chows.
    >
    >Let me tell the two Chinese explanations.
    >Explanation 1: After combining the four sets to create Four Shifted Chows, they cannot be separated and recombined to create another fan. (the Non-Separation Principle)
    >Explanation 2: After combining the four sets to create Four Shifted Chows, there is no remaining sets, so no other combination fan can be created. (the Account-Once Principle)
    >
    >I choose to accept Explanation 2, for the Non-Separation Principle is designed to handle the rearrangement of Three Shifted Pungs/Three Identical Chows or Seven Pairs/All Chows, etc.
    >
    >Best Wishes,
    >ithinc

    Hi ithinc, you wrote:

    > But in my opinion Three Concealed Pungs is a combination fan, and this is where I disagree with my Chinese friends.

    And with me. I don't mean that it isn't a combination, but that it isn't a combination covered by the exclusionary rule. You and I disagree, and I will not try to convince you to change your mind.

    >do you have an answer to why the exclusionary rule applies to only numerical combination fans but not to honor combination fans or concealment combinnation fans?

    No. I do not. I don't care to speak for the designers of MCR until and unless they speak first and what they say needs localization/clarification.

    >You missed my main question. If Concealed Pure Straight/Concealed Short Straight/etc. are added as new fans, will they be numerical combinations? How to score 123B 456B 456B(concealed) 789B(concealed), Pure Straight + Two Identical Chows + Concealed Short Straight or only two?

    If the WMO adds those, they will have to add a rule to cover them. Until they add those, there is no need to cover them. I'm sorry that in my opinion, this is an esoteric/hypothetical question and I don't care to spend time on it.

    >It's a bit strange. ^_^... The first principle is not applicable for neither Short Straight nor Two Terminal Chows is strictly implied by Four Shifted Chows.

    The hand can be made in two ways. One way implies one thing, the other way implies the other thing. They are implicit. You and I disagree here. I do not intend to try to convince you to change your mind.

    >Let me tell the two Chinese explanations. ...
    >I choose to accept Explanation 2,

    And I choose to accept neither. I stay by my previous reasoning and as stated above. I have no interest in changing your mind about this. You know my stance, you know your Chinese friends' stances, you know your own stance. It's an interesting fact, I suppose, that there can be such disparate disagreement on this point.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 24, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 4

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 11:12:43 PM
    >Subject: Re: MCR Scoring
    >Hi Tom,
    >Glad to see your quick reply.
    >On Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 1:09 PM, Tom Sloper wrote:
    >
    >>You're right, it can also be "shifted" combinations. Then, I propose that it be worded thusly...
    >
    >Thank you for your reworded rule. I also discuss this with my friends in China. Many people suggest to use the term of 组合番种 (literally, combination fan) and the exclusionary rule applies to only combination fans. They exclude Three Concealed Pungs from combination fans.
    >
    >> If there are any non-numerical situations in which the rule could be applied to exclude a combination, I would need to be informed of those specific situations by the officials of the WMO.
    >
    >In the current MCR, there seems to be no non-numerical combinations applicable. But if Concealed Pure Straight/Concealed Short Straight are added as new fans, will they be numerical combinations? How to score 123B 456B(concealed) 789B(concealed) with your reworded exclusionary rule?
    >
    >> I agree with you that some of the rules of the MCR need further clarification; the WMO is the only body who can provide it. I'm happy to help them with the English wording, once I have the necessary clarification.
    >
    >Yes, MCR needs more clarificatons. From my view, WMO itself seems not to be able to provide enough convinced clarifications. The original Chinese text still has many ambiguousnesses or illogicalnesses, the same as CMCR98, although they have no factual effect on the tournaments.
    >
    >> By the way, earlier today I consulted with Tina Christensen of the Danish and European mahjong organizations (she's one of the great thinkers as regards to MCR and other mahjong rule sets, and an international mahjong judge) and she agreed that this principle applies to numerical scoring patterns.
    >
    >Yes, as we all know, this is the present situation. But from the original text, non-numerical scoring patterns like Three Concealed Pungs should also be applicable, so improvement is needed.
    >Best Wishes,
    >ithinc

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 11:39:07 PM
    >Subject: MCR Scoring - Four Shifted Chows
    >Hi Tom,
    >I want to hear your opinion about Four Shifted Chows not combining with Short Straight or Two Terminal Chows. How do you explain this to your audience?
    >In China, there are two kinds of explanations. One uses the Non-Separation Principle and another uses the Account-Once Principle.
    >Regards,
    >ithinc

    Hi ithinc, you wrote:

    Many people suggest to use the term of 组合番种 (literally, combination fan) and the exclusionary rule applies to only combination fans.
    I wish you'd mentioned that before! (^_^) See, that's the same thing I was saying. I called it "number-based scoring patterns." The same thing as your 组合番种, I gather.

    How to score 123B 456B(concealed) 789B(concealed) with your reworded exclusionary rule?
    That's Pure Straight. Period. See the Prohibition Against Implied Inclusions. It can't be anything else BUT Pure Straight.

    MCR needs more clarificatons. From my view, WMO itself seems not to be able to provide enough convinced clarifications. The original Chinese text still has many ambiguousnesses or illogicalnesses
    Yes, it's desired that the rules could be written in such a way that their underlying principles were understandable so anyone could determine how to deal with any given combination. At the last WMO event I attended, the judges were presenting some double-combinations that presented specific problems (I think it was All Green combined with Seven Pairs?). I would have to find my notes from two years ago. But I recall that it raised the specter of situations where no rule could help the common player determine what the rule was; that one would have to ask the WMO.

    I want to hear your opinion about Four Shifted Chows not combining with Short Straight or Two Terminal Chows. How do you explain this to your audience?
    The first principle, against implied inclusions. When you make Four Shifted Chows two steps up, Two Terminal Chows is implied. When you make it one step up, Short Straight is implied.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 24, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 3

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 8:18 PM
    >Subject: Re: MCR Scoring
    >Hi Tom,
    >On Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 4:41 AM, Tom Sloper wrote:

     >>It's based on my understanding of that particular insufficiently-written rule, as it is used in practice. And yes. I think it would be a good idea for the WMO to add that kind of clarification to their rulebook.

    >About your numerical combinations, could you give a clear definition? I would like to see your rewording exclusionary rule.

     >>And I'm happy to add this clarification to my FAQ 22 and to a future edition of my book.
     >>Actually, I just looked again, and my FAQ 22 already adds this about the Exclusionary Rule:
     >>"Note that this principle especially affects combinations of chows-based patterns."
     >>And I think that really covers it.

    >I saw this before I wrote to you. But this is just a description of the result. We the Chinese won't say it applies only to chow-based patterns. (Did any Chinese referee explain so to you?) If in the future Two Shifted Pungs is added as a new fan, will your understanding stand? And people may ask why it affects only chow-based patterns, for the rulebook doesn't say so (and I believe in the future it still won't say so).
    >Best wishes,
    >ithinc

    Hi ithinc,
    You're right, it can also be "shifted" combinations. Then, I propose that it be worded thusly:

      10.1.5.5. Prohibition against repetitive numerical set usage
      Once two or three numerical sets have been combined for a scoring pattern, any other remaining numerical sets in the hand may be combined only once with an already-scored numerical set, when creating additional two- or three-set number-based scoring patterns, such as straights or "shifted" scoring patterns. (This principle is sometimes called "combine-just-once" or "assess-once" or "account-once" or "the exclusionary rule.")

    If there are any non-numerical situations in which the rule could be applied to exclude a combination, I would need to be informed of those specific situations by the officials of the WMO. I agree with you that some of the rules of the MCR need further clarification; the WMO is the only body who can provide it. I'm happy to help them with the English wording, once I have the necessary clarification.

    By the way, earlier today I consulted with Tina Christensen of the Danish and European mahjong organizations (she's one of the great thinkers as regards to MCR and other mahjong rule sets, and an international mahjong judge) and she agreed that this principle applies to numerical scoring patterns.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 23, 2009


    Looking for more on Japanese strategy, part 2

    >From: Matthew G
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 2:19 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >So I decided to look up this book by Jenn Barr that you mentioned. I looked up the book on Amazon to find that there were already a couple of reviews on it. One of the two people that review it has also read Whitney's book, and states that Barr's book doesn't hold up all to well when compared to Whitney's book. I asked the reviewer about the amount of focus on strategy Barr includes in her book, and he replied that there are 27 pages on the subject. To his dismay, he said that half of those 27 pages are useless due to a misprint/mistake that renders them incomprehensible. I will keep an eye out for any more reviews on the book that might come in, but please let me know when you have had the opportunity to read Barr's book. I would like to hear your opinion on the book's value, especially on the subject of strategy.
    >Thanks,
    >Matthew
    >--
    >A.M.D.G.

    Hi Matthew,
    Wow, I wonder what that misprint/mistake in Jenn's book is! You can check back with me in a couple of weeks if you like.
    Did you check out column 374 about Kajimoto-san's booklet? I highly recommend his ideas to you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 23, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR, part 2

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 10:45 AM
    >Subject: Re: MCR Scoring
    >Hi Tom, So your explanation is not based on MCR written rules, is it? I know the practices of course, but I think the combination of Three Shifted Pungs and Three Concealed Pungs is illegal(against the exclusionary rule), although the result is logical. There's no term of numerical combinations in MCR. Are you suggesting to add this?

    Hi ithinc,
    It's based on my understanding of that particular insufficiently-written rule, as it is used in practice. And yes. I think it would be a good idea for the WMO to add that kind of clarification to their rulebook. And I'm happy to add this clarification to my FAQ 22 and to a future edition of my book.
    Actually, I just looked again, and my FAQ 22 already adds this about the Exclusionary Rule:
    "Note that this principle especially affects combinations of chows-based patterns."
    And I think that really covers it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 23, 2009


    The exclusionary rule in MCR

    >From: ithinc
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 8:13 AM
    >Subject: MCR Scoring
    >Hello Tom,
    >I know there has been a controversy about the combine-just-once rule on your site, which seems to have been calmed down. But how do you think of the combination of Three Shifted Pungs and Three Concealed Pungs? Is it against the combine-just-once rule?
    >For example: 111B(melded) 222B(concealed) 333B(concealed) 888C(concealed) 99D, after combining 111B, 222B and 333B to create Three Shifted Pungs, then you combine the remaining 888C with already-used 222B and 333B to create Three Concealed Pungs. How do you explain this example?
    >Regards,
    >ithinc
    >3.9.1.5(5) 套算一次原则:如有尚未组合过的一副牌,只可同已组合过的相应的一副牌套算一次。
    >The Account-Once Principle("Exclusionary rule"): When you have combined some sets to create a fan, you can only combine any remaining sets once with a set that has already been used. (P25)

    Hi ithinc,
    It's very nice to hear from you again. The explanation of why that combination is permitted is this: the exclusionary rule applies to numerical combinations (or combinations determined by what design is on the face of the tiles) only. I realize that the rule isn't stated that way, but when you look at what is and is not covered by the exclusionary rule in practice, you don't see any restrictions on fan based on aspects such as set size (pung vs. kong) or set type (pung vs. chow) or suit or set concealment.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 23, 2009


    I need 8 ivory jokers, part 2

    >From: maxiney
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:14 AM
    >Subject: Re: Tiles Wanted
    >After checking your web site my tiles are definitely bone not ivory
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Well, there ya go, then!
    It'll be much easier to find bone tiles than ivory tiles. Good luck 2U, Maxine!
    May the bone tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 23, 2009


    Question about betting in American mah jongg

    >From: Shelly G
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 7:13:23 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: If the Better bets on the wall and it is a wall game, does the better win any money?

    Good morning Shelly,
    You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19W.4. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's indicated by a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it. After you arrive at the FAQ, please bookmark it for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to question W, part 4. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 23, 2009


    Looking for more on Japanese strategy

    >From: Matthew G
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 9:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I recently bought Whitney's book on Japanese Classical Mahjong, even though I play by the Japanese Modern rules. I'm relatively new to Mahjong, and Riichi Mahjong is the first style that I am studying. The main thing that made Whitney's book appealing to me is her focus on strategy, offensive and defensive, in the last third of her book. As an avid chess player, I place much value in books that focus on strategy, thought processes, analysis, etc. I came to know about Whitney's book through Riichi Mahjong websites, and I would like to read more books with similar focuses. Unfortunately, Whitney's book was the only book that was recommended on these websites. I took a look at the book list on this site, and even though there are some that discuss strategies, I am unsure whether or not it would be helpful since the style of mahjong is different from the style I'm studying. Does the style of mahjong even matter when it comes to strategies? If it doesn't, could you recommend a few books, be it on the site's book list or not, based on my case?
    >Thanks,
    >Matthew
    >- -
    >A.M.D.G.

    Hi Matthew,
    You may have already seen the discussion of Whitney's book on the ReachMahjong forum. There are also good discussions of strategy there.

    If you look in FAQ 3 (above left), you won't find any other English-language books that discuss Japanese mahjong in anything approaching the depth of Whitney's book. Jenn Barr's book has just been printed in the last week or so; I haven't gotten a copy yet. And I'm not sure if it goes into strategy to the extent that Whitney does.

    It probably won't be an utter waste of time to check out the tips in FAQ 8. There certainly are some "universal" principles that apply across all Asian variants, as well as some principles that apply solely to the Japanese game.

    I shared some news about an English strategy booklet written by Takunori Kajimoto in column #374 (click the purple banner above to access my column).

    And I assume you've found the columns on ReachMahjong.com.

    That's everything I've got!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Autumnal Equinox, 2009


    I need 8 ivory jokers

    >From: MaxineYaol.com
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 5:38 PM
    >Subject: Tiles Wanted
    >The set was bought last year in China, but appears to be old.
    >Material: bone (or ivory) and bamboo
    >Color(s): ivory
    >Dimensions: 1 1/8" x 3/4" x 1/8" bone (or ivory, not sure); bamboo has same dimensions with a depth of 3/8"; dovetailed.
    >Tile(s) wanted: 8 tiles, any, to use as jokers. I will put stickers on any tiles.
    >URL (internet address) of online photos:

    Hi Maxine,
    You NEED to determine whether your tiles are ivory or bone. You do NOT want to pay ivory prices if your tiles are bone! Besides, it's going to be EXTREMELY difficult to find eight ivory tiles. Bone, not as hard.
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #7c and click it. You'll also want to read FAQ 7c2.

    In addition to posting on our Tiles Wanted Bulletin Board, you ought to avail yourself of the links atop that board and the vendors who've posted on the Tiles For Sale Bulletin Board.

    Lastly, as to your set's old appearance. I recommend you read FAQs 7g & 7m. There's information there about those old-appearing Chinese sets.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Autumnal Equinox, 2009


    How to order

    >From: Carol
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:16:06 AM
    >Subject: Accessories
    >Can you tell me how to order a bettor and an east marker. I want one of each.
    >Carol Cohen

    Hi Carol,
    First, you contact a vendor who can sell you the accessories you want. There are vendors listed in FAQ 4a and on the Accessories For Sale Bulletin Board. You can link to the FAQs and Bulletin Boards via the site links, above left (scroll up).

    To contact a vendor, if their email address is shown, email him or her to inquire about how to order. You might be able to click the email address (if it's underlined) or you might have to copy and paste the email address into the TO box of a new email (using your email program). If the website shows the email address with a or a , change that mah-jongg character to the @ symbol.

    If the vendor's website address is shown, you might be able to just click on it (if it's underlined) or you might have to copy the address and paste it into the address box of your Internet browser. Once you arrive on the vendor's site, there should be information there about how to order.

    You can tell an email address from a web address easily: email addresses have an @ in them, and web addresses begin with http://

    May the accessories be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Autumnal Equinox, 2009


    Is she dead?

    >From: "weeziejen
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 6:37:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >My friend picked a tile from the wall and put it in her rack. She was thinking about her move, then forgot if she picked or not. So she picked again, looked at the tile, but didn't put it in her rack, then thought she picked already, counted her tiles, realized she did, and put the "second pick" back on the wall. Is she dead?
    >Louise

    Hi Louise,
    There are the strict rules that are used in tournaments, and there are the more relaxed rules that are used in friendly home games. You get to decide which are more apropos for this situation.
    In a tournament, any judge would say she's dead. In a friendly home game, the degree of friendliness (or seriousness about the rules) should be the judge. Or, if she does this kind of thing repeatedly, then calling her dead could help her strive to overcome a bad habit.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Autumnal Equinox, 2009


    Mushing, revisited

    >From: "RgPgs
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 5:37:17 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When we pass in Mah Jong we do the 2 charlestons, and optional accross, and then a mush where everyone has the option to put in up to 3 tiles face down and each person picks the number of tiles they have put in.
    >My mother in law says that it is incorrect to do the mush. Is it incorrect or just another variety of passing?
    >Thank you

    Hello Mr. or Ms. Pgs,
    "Incorrect"? Just about every group uses some kind of unofficial table rule. I think it's "incorrect" to say that it's "incorrect" for anybody to use any kind of table rule. Read FAQ 14, above left.

    You might want to see what I said to John and Sue about mushing when they wrote almost two weeks ago; see their post entitled "Several Frequently Asked Questions," below.

    You closed with this:

    >Is it incorrect or just another variety of passing?

    "Another variety" would be the same thing as "a table rule." Your mother-in-law seems to be thinking that any table rule, any non-adherence to the official rules, is incorrect. If she's playing with you, then it sounds to me like your group needs to work out a harmonious agreement regarding which table rules to accept, or whether no table rules will be used. It should be obvious that to be sure which rules are official would mean that you'd need a copy of the rules. You can look up books in FAQ 3. And I recommend you read about the importance of harmony in FAQ 9. You can link to the Frequently Asked Question pages above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Autumnal Equinox, 2009


    What does "neutral" mean?

    >From: margaret
    >Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2009 12:15 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am reading Elaine Sandberg's book and have a question on "Neutral" tiles. Can all these Neutral tiles be used just like one would use the Joker tiles?
    >Thanks,
    >Margaret

    Hi Margaret,
    I wish Elaine Sandberg had a website where she could answer questions about her book. Well, I happen to have a copy of the book here, so let me look up "neutral tiles"...

    Ah. I found it in the glossary in the back. Woops, it's in the glossary in my own book too! :p

    I use the term "suitless" in reference to these tiles that Sandberg calls "neutral."

    When you look on the NMJL card, you see that winds and flowers are always shown in blue ink. But you have to understand that in a multi-suit hand, the blue color of the winds and flowers does not indicate that a particular suit be used. In fact, winds and flowers don't belong to ANY suit. And neither do zeroes. The color-coding principle that colors are merely symbolic is not trumped by the presence of winds or flowers or zeroes.

    To illustrate the concept of "suitlessness" (or "neutrality"), consider this imaginary 3-suited hand:

    FFFF 5555 + 5555 = 10

    In the above imaginary example, there are 3 suits used: one suit for the first kong of fives, another suit for the second kong of fives, and the third suit for the 1. The 1 can be ANY SUIT. Dots or bams or craks. It doesn't matter which suit. The first kong of fives can be any suit EXCEPT the suit used for the 1. The second kong of fives has to be the remaining suit. Depending on which suit was used for the first kong of fives and the 1, the second kong of fives might be dots or bams or craks.

    Note that I didn't mention the zero or the flowers in that discussion of suits. Why? Because flowers and zeroes (and winds, as well) are SUITLESS. Or, as Sandberg puts it, "neutral."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    09/20/2009


    Is this a rule in some other form of mahjong?

    >From: Jackie
    >Sent: Saturday, September 19, 2009 3:47 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have recently started playing Mah Jongg with the NMJL card and rules. The couple that were teaching in my first game had a rule where on your turn you could pick up the last discard without calling or exposing any tiles. Since I have not seen this in The Red Dragon & The West Wind, NMJL's Mah Jongg Made Easy, or your FAQ, I know this must be a table rule.
    >Some months ago another player in a game of Chinese MahJong stated a similar rule. He claimed it was okay to pick up the discard from the player to your left without having to expose a chow or pung. He had not played for several years and said he used to play this way all the time.
    >So, I am wondering if this is a rule in another variation of MahJong or just a very popular table rule?
    >Your web site and book are fantasitc. I enjoy reading the weekly columns and using the hints to improve my game. Thank you so much for providing this great resource.
    >Jackie

    Hi Jackie,
    The only place I ever encountered or even heard of a similar rule was in India, this past spring. (See column #399.) The players there have a rule called "buying." You had to put a chip into the pot (the kitty) if you wanted to take a discard without exposing. That's interesting that you've run into a similar rule twice, and in two completely different rule sets.
    Thanks for letting me know about this, and I'm glad you enjoy my modest offerings! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 19, 2009


    Chicken hand in MCR, part 2

    >From: David
    >Sent: Friday, September 18, 2009 7:58 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Much thanks.

    You're welcome, David. (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 18, 2009


    Chicken hand in MCR (Chinese Official)

    >From: David
    >Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:17:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Is it a chicken hand in Chinese Official if you are drawing to a pung? Assume you have three chows (none of which do anything in combination) and a pair of dragons. You have 6B 6B. Can you declare chicken hand if you can claim a 6B through discard?
    > I think the answer is yes, but somewhere I read you need a two-way wait. This isn’t a two-way wait (only the 6B gets the chicken hand), but it’s also not a single wait, which is defined as waiting for a tile to make a pair.
    > So, I think it’s a chicken hand. Right? Thanks,
    >Dave

    Hi David,
    "Chicken hand" is a "no points" hand. Anything that gives you a point voids the "chickenness" of the hand. That's what makes the hand so tricky that it's worth 8 points.
     
    You said "drawing to a pung" – "drawing" means "self-pick," and that earns points, so the hand would definitely not be chicken. It needs to be by discard, not by picking or drawing.
     
    You did have a two-way wait in the example you gave. The dragon pair and the 6B pair represent two ways the hand could be won. If you actually had a one-way wait, that would be a point, and you wouldn't be able to claim "chicken."

    When someone discards 6B, yes. That makes you chicken, and you can crow "mahjong" ("hu" if playing with Chinese).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 17, 2009


    Where can I buy an ivory mah jongg set, part 2?

    >From: raina411
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 2:01 PM
    >Subject: Re: Ivory Mah Jongg Set
    >ok thanks!


    Where can I buy an ivory mah jongg set?

    >From: raina411
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 1:15 PM
    >Subject: Ivory Mah Jongg Set
    >I am looking to purchase an Ivory mah jongg set but am having a hard time finding a place to locate this item. Do you have any suggestions?
    >Thanks.
    >Raina

    Auctions and antique stores.
    But make sure you know the difference between bone and ivory. You don't want to pay ivory prices for a bone set.
    Read FAQ 7c (see FAQ links above left).
    The reason I don't necessarily recommend eBay for ivory is that 99% of the sellers will say their sets are ivory when they're really bone, and you can't tell if you can't look at the set in person.
    And of course since it's illegal to import or export ivory, you have to buy domestically.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    The Ides of September, 2009


    Where can I get miniature mah-jongg tiles?

    >From: Renee Mankoff
    >Email: rmankoffverizon.net
    >Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2009 4:28 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >looking to purchase small beads that are replicas of mah-jongg tiles. Approx size 3/4" by 1/2". Looking for single hole drilled (vertical). Let me know if you know where they can be ordered.

    Hi Renee,
    Your announcement was posted on the Accessories Wanted Bulletin Board but I figured maybe I could also reply to it here.
    I recommend that you check our mah-jongg vendors -- see FAQ 4a. The Frequently Asked Question links are above left. You can click their links, browse their sites, and you can also email them and inquire. There are more links in FAQ 4b as well.
    May the tiny tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 13, 2009


    An etiquette question

    >From: Tom & Dorothy
    >To: Jongg Questions Mah
    >Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2009 12:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I did not see this addressed in your ETIQUETTE STATEMENTS.
    >When I expose (as an example) four 9 dots. We have a regular player to our group who frequently, verbally says "Oh, now I know what hand you're doing". I have explained that I think this is unfair to publicly announce, as it is rude table talk. It alerts other players to look at my exposure to form their opinion of where they think I'm at--which they should do on their on. I have tried saying "I may not be where you think I am" and that I don't appreciate the announcement. She has also made mention after one of those comments--"I can't believe you didn't call for that discard"--due to the belief she knows what my hand is.
    >What would be an etiquette rule or call on this?
    > Rez

    Hi Rez,
    Isn't it unbelievable that someone would say things like that? Most people have a faucet in their heads so they can turn off some words before they come out their mouths. We learn in our teens (or early twenties at the latest) where that faucet is, and when it's socially necessary to close it. Maybe your friend has a broken gasket.

    This isn't in the FAQs because people like her are fairly rare. In fact, the only other time I heard of one of these was when Minxx emailed me on January 22, 2008. I responded to her email here on this bulletin board, and the uniqueness of the email prompted me to write about it in Column 350. You can click the purple banner above, and read Column 350. If you're interested in reading the exchange I had with Minxx, go to http://sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive1.htm. Just as now, I entitled that conversation "An etiquette question."

    You have already spoken your mind to this player. Etiquette says there's nothing more you can do. In my view, this lady is not a nice player (no matter what other nice qualities she may have). I only play with nice players. Your choices are limited: (1) put up with it and say no more; (2) stop playing with her. Let me know how it works out, please!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 12, 2009


    Accidentally knocked over a tile. Now what?

    >From: karenkd
    >Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2009 8:30 AM
    >Subject: accidentally knocking over a tile
    >This is probably a table rules type of thing but... Is there an official rule if while reaching for a tile a player accidentally knocks over a tile in the wall exposing it? This happens to us occasionally.
    >I looked in The Red Dragon & the West Wind but couldn't find an answer relating to this. (love the book!)
    >Thanks,
    >Karen D

    Hi Karen,
    I'm so delighted to hear from someone who uses my book!

    Knocking over a tile from the wall is such a common and minor error that it's overlooked in most rulebooks. But actually, my book does mention this. It's on page 201 (the final sentence under "Exposed Tile(s)"). Good point, though, that I ought to mention that in the American section of the book, too.

    If you accidentally knock over a tile from the wall, you should just put it back on the wall and say, "Sorry!"

    Standing by if there are any further questions! (^_^)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 12, 2009


    JanRyuMon

    >From: Josiah H
    >Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2009 10:04:14 PM
    >Subject:
    >Nice faq, for clarification on the Japanese Mahjong site mentioned here:
    >"I've been told there's a new one at http://janryumon.plaync.jp but I haven't been able to get it to work yet. That URL must not be correct (or it's very slow and my browsers all time out); if a reader would be so kind as to give me the correct URL for Janryumon, I'd appreciate it. "
    >the url is correct. just plaync blocks ips from outside japan from accessing it. using a proxy if you live outside japan is the only way. i live in japan and use the site a lot, very fun, free, just like playing on a table in a parlor and you can customize the rules for friends matches or play official rules in ranked matches.

    Hi Josiah,
    Thanks, that explains what I needed to know!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    9/11, 2009


    Several Frequently Asked Questions

    >From: John and Sue H
    >Sent: Thursday, September 10, 2009 10:17:50 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Can a player pick up a tile say 3 Bam and use 3 jokers to make the four...without having a 3 bam in their hand?
    >After the charleston and you mush how many can you mush, is there a limit?
    >What does steal mean when doing a charleston?
    >Thank you
    >shulbert
    >golfers63@golfers63@

    Hello John and Sue, you wrote:

    Can a player pick up a tile say 3 Bam and use 3 jokers to make the four...without having a 3 bam in their hand?
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Always check the FAQs first before asking a question.

    In the case of the question you have asked, read FAQ 19L.

    After the charleston and you mush how many can you mush, is there a limit?
    If you are talking about a non-standard rule, an extra procedure after the courtesy pass (the final pass after the two Charlestons of three passes each), I can't tell you how your non-standard rule should work. You and your group have to decide that. Read FAQ 14.

    If you're asking about the courtesy pass itself, that's Frequently Asked Question 19AH. Please bookmark FAQ 19, and please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question.

    If I have totally missed your question, please read FAQs 14 and 19AH anyway, and check to see if it's answered in FAQ 19, and if it isn't, rephrase it for me so I can give you the answer.

    What does steal mean when doing a charleston?
    "Steal" is incorrect terminology (but don't try to tell your other players that - that isn't conducive to harmony, read FAQ 9). I assume you're asking about the blind pass. Read FAQ 19G. And read column 353 (click the purple banner above to access the columns - you should read them!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 10, 2009


    Need discussion of the use of jokers, part 2

    Followup on the discussion with Chris the other day. This Wikipedia discussion of jokers in playing card games should be more helpful than what I said before.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 8, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question #5

    >From: K1u2ssin
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 1:37 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Are there any "real" mah-jongg games that can be played on the computer, either alone or with 3 other people, similar to the bridge games?
    >Thanks for your answer. Sandra K

    Sandra,
    You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #5. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 8, 2009


    Need discussion of the use of jokers, please

    From: "Chris B
    Sent: Sunday, September 06, 2009 1:19 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Could you please point me to a place on your excellent site that discusses
    > the use of jokers?
    > I've just bought a set for my son that has these: my set doesn't.
    > I'm a mystified Chinese-Classical type mah-jongg player
    > Kind regards
    > Chris B
    > [street addr deleted], Sutton Coldfield B76 1NT, UK
    > [phone nos. deleted]
    > [email addr & web addr deleted]
    > (Please think... before you print this)

    Hi Chris,
    I discuss the use of jokers extensively in FAQ 19, but since you do not play American mah-jongg, I think the FAQ you need to read is FAQ 14.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 6, 2009


    When there's a bettor, does the bet-on winner get anything extra?

    >From: "bklynirene
    >Sent: Saturday, September 5, 2009 9:51:22 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Our MJ group follows the NMJL rules. My question is, "Is there a monetary bonus given to a winner who is bet on?" By the way, I found this group through your website -- thanks! from Sparky

    No, Sparky. You don't get anything extra for being the winner when you've been bet on (nothing beyond what you normally get when you're the winner).
    Glad my site has been helpful! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 5, 2009


    Card History in The Red Dragon & The West Wind

    From: "Gregory B
    Sent: Saturday, September 05, 2009 5:29 PM
    Subject: Card History in The Red Dragon & The West Wind
    > Dear Mr. Sloper,
    > Long time fan of your web site here, and I'm now reading your book The
    > Red Dragon and The West Wind. I was just wondering about your overview
    > of playing card history, specifically page 3 where you wrote "In
    > Europe, the cards became tarot, which led directly to our modern-day
    > playing cards..." I was under the impression that regular playing
    > cards were already popular throughout Europe, and the tarot was a
    > special off-shoot in Italy. I don't have a copy at hand, but I think
    > that was the gist in David Parlett's History of Card Games book. The
    > following web site gives one such timeline:
    > http://playing-cards.us/history.html
    > What do you think?
    > Anyway, I am enjoying the book very much. Thanks for making so much
    > useful information available on your web site. Keep up the good work!
    > Best regards,
    > Greg B

    Hi Greg,
    I checked my own timeline in FAQ 11h and found this:

  • 1370s [Europe] Playing cards came to Europe from Islam, probably via Muslim Spain. They appeared quite suddenly in many different European cities between 1375 and 1378. European playing cards were an adaptation of the Islamic Mamluk cards. These early cards had suits of cups, swords, coins, and polo sticks (seen by Europeans as staves), and courts consisting of a king and two male underlings. (source: http://www.crosswinds.net/~hermit/infosheet.htm.)
  • 1420-1440 [Northern Italy] Tarot cards first appear on the scene. The tarot adds [to the playing card deck described in the 1370s entry above] the Fool, the trumps [the Major Arcana], and a set of queens to this system. Some time before 1480, the French introduced cards with the now-familiar suits of hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds. The earlier suits are still preserved in the tarot and in Italian and Spanish playing cards. (source: http://www.crosswinds.net/~hermit/infosheet.htm.)

    So you are indeed correct. I need to add that correction to the errata file. Thanks for your very kind words!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 5, 2009


    What's the rule on calling someone dead?

    >From: Linda G
    >Sent: Friday, September 4, 2009 5:08:44 AM
    >Subject: question please
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you call a player dead by having to prove that the tiles they need for their obvious hand are in your hand? In other words, is it ok, allowed, to show part of your concealed hand to prove that someone is dead?
    >Thanks,
    >Linda

    Hi Linda,
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19AA. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's indicated by a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to question AA.
    See the second bullet, "Unwinnable." Your answer is right there.

    If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this question. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 4, 2009


    Pai gow tiles

    >From: Øliver G
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 5:43 PM
    >Subject: pai gow tiles
    >Hello. I apologize if my question is a bit off-topic but I haven't had much success in my search for quality Pai Gow tiles. Would you happen to know where I could get quality tiles ( such as the one shown here: http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/wheret.htm )? I went to Chinatown ( los angeles ) a couple of weeks back and came back with a very poor quality set. Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you very much.
    >Sincerely,
    >Oliver

    Hi Øliver,
    Same answer I already gave in the other FAQ (you saw FAQ 7m, which talks about buying tiles in Asia; I'm talking about FAQ 7k, which talks about shopping here in America) -- you probably won't find them in stores. You probably need to look on the Internet. Try some of the vendors listed in FAQ 4a. And you could also try Monterey Park, if you really want to go brick-and-mortar-store shopping, but I think you'll need to go to the Internet.
    Good luck! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 2, 2009


    Misnamed a tile; now what?

    >From: Shelly C
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 2:52 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I there a penalty for mis-naming a tile that's discarded? Player 1 called a 7 crack when she meant 7 bam. Player 2 heard 7 crack and called the tile. Player 2 and others realized tile was a bam and had to return her exposure to her rack. What happens?

    Hi Shelly,
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19AY. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's indicated by a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to question AY. If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this question. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 2, 2009


    Last week's column

    >From: Lauren & Lowell B
    >Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2009 7:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Q&A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: In your August 23rd column, I would think the third hand shown could be played as the 3rd in 13579. Seems you have 9 tiles for the hand – including the joker. Can you explain why that isn’t a choice you recommend? I find your column very helpful. Thanks.

    Hi Lauren and Lowell,
    I'm glad you find the column helpful despite goofs like that one. You are absolutely correct; 13579 #3 is definitely a good choice, and the discardables are R and 0. I'll amend the column accordingly, thanks to you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 30, 2009


    Playing mahjong with dominos

    From: "The kalins"
    Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 4:10 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > In the 1920's Mahjongg was the 'New Big Game' in america. Did anyone around
    > that time create a method of playing Mahjong (albiet altered) with 4 sets of
    > standard western dominoes?
    > Why?
    > This past novemember I 'discovered' a way of playing an altered form of
    > Mahjong with 4 packs of western dominoes. Thinking that I was not the first
    > one to think of this I researched and read through DOZENS of domino game
    > rules. I was suprised that none of the games used the same mechanic. Not
    > even domino-rummy. There was one chinese domino game that did use multiple
    > sets but this was to accomidate additional players and not necessary for the
    > games primary core mechanic.
    > The version I created is verry simplified compared to regular mahjong. I
    > could have kept a lot of original mahjong rules but I felt that it needed to
    > be slimed down. This was done to make it easier for western players to
    > memorize and play. Much like the original mahjong it appears to be complex
    > when written down on paper and plays relatively easily.
    > I find it hard to believe that I'm the first one to stumble onto this
    > conversion. Someone, somewhere, has to have done this before.
    > Link to the rules i created "Four pack"
    > http://www.pagat.com/invented/stonehenge.html
    > As always feel free to edit this down a ton if necessary.
    > Bob Kalin

    Hi Bob,
    Maybe a reader of the Mah-Jongg BB or the Game Design BB will respond with feedback on your domino mahjong rules. Keep watching these BB's...

    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 28, 2009


    What are the season tiles for, part 2

    >From: Linda M
    >Sent: Thursday, August 27, 2009 5:42:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom
    >I did see the FAQ7e and so i guess my question was answered there, but to clarify, i play American Mah-Jongg. There are 16 flowers in my set including the seasons. Am i right then that the seasons are just more flowers to be used in making up the hands but there are no specific hands for them? You can use what ever one you want? And is it right that the numbers really have no significance? When using the flowers in a hand they do not have to match each other do they? I guess that is more than one question, but my sister has been playing for a while and she did not really know what the seasons were for either...Thanks for your help.
    >Linda

    Hi Linda, you wrote:

    i play American Mah-Jongg. There are 16 flowers in my set including the seasons. Am i right then that the seasons are just more flowers
    Yep, that's what it says in FAQ 7e.

    You can use what ever one you want?
    Sure, why not?

    And is it right that the numbers really have no significance?
    Well, I wrote in FAQ 7e: "If you have such tiles, just call them all 'flowers' and don't worry about it!" I think that kind of goes along with what you said there... (~_^)

    When using the flowers in a hand they do not have to match each other do they?
    Any flower matches any other flower. Not sure how this is unclear...?

    my sister has been playing for a while and she did not really know what the seasons were for either
    Tell her "they are flowers."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 27, 2009


    What are the season tiles for??

    >From: Linda Mc
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 7:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What are the season tiles for??

    Hi Linda,
    It depends. Which kind of mah-jongg do you play? Do you play American (National Mah Jongg League) mah-jongg (A)? Or do you play one of the forty "un-American" varieties of mah-jongg (B)?

    If the answer is A, you get one answer...

    And if the answer is B, you get a different answer!

    So I need to know which kind of mah-jongg you play (I am much too lazy to write both answers for you).

    By the way, did you see FAQ 7e? If you haven't read it yet, you should read the first three paragraphs. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question. If the third paragraph of FAQ 7e doesn't tell you what you need to know, ask me again -- and tell me whether you play American or un-American, and tell me why you need to know. In other words, are you asking out of idle curiosity as a non-player, are you an eBay seller, or what? I need to know what answer you need.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 26, 2009


    Said she was dead but she denied it, part 2

    >From: Joannne S
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:41 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Thank you for your answer to declaring a person dead in error (8/25/09) The declarer said I only said I "Think" you are dead and therefore did not actually declare her dead. Is there a rule for this semantic or should it go as she "did "declare her dead? (she could have been playing
    >1111 33 55 77 9999) ( I was the bettor and could not say anything.)
    >Joanne

    Good morning Joanne, you wrote:

    The declarer said I only said I "Think" you are dead and therefore did not actually declare her dead. Is there a rule for this semantic or should it go as she "did "declare her dead? ... she could have been playing 1111 33 55 77 9999
    Read Frequently Asked Question #19AA.

    Player 1 says "you're dead."
    Player 2 says "I'm not."
    What happens next is given in Frequently Asked Question #19AB.

    Player 1 says "I think maybe you might be dead."
    Player 2 says "I'm not."
    Same as #3 above.

    Player 1 asks "are you dead?"
    Player 2 says "I'm not."
    Same as #3 above.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 26, 2009


    Said she was dead but she denied it. Now what?

    >From: Joannne S
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 7:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Player #1 has two red dragons in her hand. Player #2 has one red dragon in her hand. There is one red dragon on the table. Player #2 calls 4 one cracks and 4 nine cracks. Player #1 says I think you are dead. Player #2 says I don't think so. What should happen? Another player realizing player #1 must have 2 red dragons says player #1 can't do that. Should player #1 be penalized? Joanne

    Hi Joanne,
    Let me rephrase the situation.

    Player 1 says "you're dead."
    Player 2 says "I'm not."
    Want to know what happens next? Read Frequently Asked Question #19AB. Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Always check the FAQs first before asking a question.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 25, 2009


    If you have any suggestions for advertising, and/or getting the word out about these, I would appreciate it.

    >From: Curt
    >Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 8:53 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Not a question, but a few months ago I asked about the market for automatic Mahjong sets here in the U.S. Since then I have imported a container, and they are now in Indianapolis, Indiana. I kept the price down as much as possible, and I am selling them at $995.00 each plus shipping. You can see them on EBay, and yes, you can set them up to deal out whatever number of tiles you want, plus play flowers, seasons, and jokers if you want, or any combination thereof. If you have any suggestions for advertising, and/or getting the word out about these, I would appreciate it.
    >Thanks,
    >Curt

    Hi Curt,
    I should begin by saying that I am not in marketing or sales. So I don't have any magic to offer. And I have even been approached by a table manufacturer and asked to represent them; if I was seriously contemplating their offer, what is happening here could possibly turn out to be a mistake on the part of both of us (you for contacting a competitor and asking for advice, and me for acting in conflict of my own interest in giving it to you). But I am not seriously contemplating their offer. I wouldn't want to have to try to sell these things, especially at the price you've set.

    Normally I don't follow links and look at things, but for the reasons given above, I find this an interesting question, so I went on eBay and hunted down your item. I have a lot of suggestions for you, just based on what I saw there.

    Don't sell on eBay only. There are other auction sites too. You may even be able to sell it through Amazon or Craigslist.

    Make your own website. You can get free ones and cheap ones. You need a permanent locale where people can go to see photos, get information, fill out order forms, see videos, ask questions, get them answered.

    Make your eBay listing easier to find. If you look around at the other listings in the Mah Jong area on eBay, you'll see that most sellers list multiple spellings of the game name: not only "Mahjong." There are also multiple terminologies that people use to refer to these machines. You used the term "automatic Mahjong set" in your email, and "Automatic Mahjong Table" in your eBay listing. People also refer to them as "dealing machines" and "Mahjong machines," and you can also come up with other ways to refer to the device.

    Make a video of your specific machine - it's surely different from the videos on YouTube or the video on my site. Don't just tell people "go on YouTube and find videos of these things" -- GIVE THEM VIDEOS OF YOUR SPECIFIC MACHINE!

    Post larger photos - multiple photos. Your listing has one tiny unreadable photo of a manufacturer's sell sheet.

    State the manufacturer's name and the table's model no./serial no.

    Don't just say "any number of tiles to accomodate different styles of play," give specifics! "Accomodates 136 tiles (Japanese, or Chinese without flowers), 144 tiles (Wright-Patterson, Chinese, Taiwanese, British/Western...), 152 tiles (American/NMJL)..." But now I'm writing your sales copy for you.

    Place a posting on my Accessories For Sale BB. It's free. I almost just went ahead and posted your email there, but then I would have had to provide your email address (the address you used to send me this email), and I wasn't sure that was something you wanted - and I think there's a little problem with your email address that I won't discuss here.

    Buy an ad on my site, and on other important mah-jongg sites. Email me privately for rates.

    Identify the cities where mah-jongg tournaments happen frequently, and arrange to demonstrate your table at as many tournaments as possible.

    May the sales be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 21, 2009


    Our group is confused by the BONUS:/EXCEPTION: statements on the NMJL card.

    >From: Char C
    >Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 11:43 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Our group is confused by the BONUS:/EXCEPTION: statements on the NMJL card.
    >One of my group thinks that you should NEVER pay double for a singles and pairs or junk hand. The rest of us think that the winner should be paid double by all players for a "Picked" singles & pairs or junk hand. Or, if a player Mah-jongg's a single & pairs/junk hand on a discarded tile, the discarder pays double.
    >Can you help?
    >Thanks,
    >Char in Ridgway, CO

    Hi Char, you wrote:

    One of my group thinks that you should NEVER pay double for a singles and pairs or junk hand.
    Let's just take a look at the language in question, shall we? From the back of the card, top left corner:

      When a player Mah Jonggs on a discarded tile, DISCARDER PAYS THE WINNER DOUBLE VALUE. All other players pay single value. When a player picks OWN Mah Jongg tile, all players pay double value.
      BONUS: WHEN A PLAYER DECLARES MAH JONGG AND NO JOKERS ARE PART OF THE HAND, A BONUS IS GIVEN: DOUBLE VALUE. EXCHANGED JOEKRS FROM AN EXPOSURE CAN MAKE THE HAND JOKERLESS.
      EXCEPTION: SINGLES & PAIRS GROUP-NO BONUS.

    You're saying that one of your group thinks that the Exception doesn't only apply to the stated "Bonus" -- EVEN THOUGH THE EXCEPTION CLEARLY STATES THAT THIS IS AN EXCEPTION TO THE BONUS. She thinks that the Exception applies not only to the clearly stated Bonus, but also to all text above the Bonus. Maybe she thinks the exception also applies to all other rules on the card, for all I know. If it helps at all, the description above the red text does not refer to double payments as a "bonus" - the only thing that is stated to be a "bonus" is a jokerless hand. And it should be obvious, even to this person, that it isn't possible to use jokers anyway in the S&P group, which ought to imply a clear reason for the jokerless bonus exception.

    The rest of us think that the winner should be paid double by all players for a "Picked" singles & pairs or junk hand. Or, if a player Mah-jongg's a single & pairs/junk hand on a discarded tile, the discarder pays double.
    >Can you help?
    I have no idea if this player in your group is going to accept my word that she is wrong, since she is not interested in what the other three of you say. I think you should all take a vote, majority rule, and set the rule the way the majority says it should work. And if she objects, she (not you) should send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League and ask them for a ruling, IN WRITING. NOT OVER THE PHONE. (Over the phone, she could misstate the question, or misunderstand the response, interpreting it the way she wants to, or even simply tell you that she got her desired ruling over the phone.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 21, 2009


    How do 2 people win in Japanese majan?

    >From: Paola B
    >Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 10:53 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In riichi mahjong, if a tile can be claimed by more than one player for a mahjong, what happens? Is the winning split? First person to the right of the person who's discarding gets the tile?
    >Thanks!
    >Paola

    Konnichiwa Paola,
    When two people claim ron on a discard in Japanese riichi majan, the discarder pays them both.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 21, 2009


    This week's column

    >From: jwdarline
    >Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 9:54 AM
    >Subject: Column #419
    >I must be missing something or there is something wrong with the picture
    >New Defense August 16, 2009
    >#10 shows 3 (6 bams) and 3 (8 bams) I put that in Consecutive #1 hand
    >Your list shows it in Consecutive # 4 hand HOW:::?????
    >Thanks
    >Joanne W

    Hi Joanne,
    Look again. Those aren't 6B's. Those are 9B's. You can see 6B's in #5.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 20, 2009


    Please help me find someone to service my mahjong dealing machine

    >From: Grant M
    >Cc: Grant M
    >Sent: Thursday, August 20, 2009 7:46 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong machine repair
    >Greetings!
    >I am in California and I have an automatic mahjong machine that I think was made in Japan by Mitsuya. Evidently that company is out of business now.
    >The electronics are working just fine. However the tile belt slips during the refresh cycle.
    >Please help me find a person to service the unit. People who service other brands of mahjong machines would likely understand how to help me.
    >Many, many thanks for your help.
    >Grant M
    >Atascadero, CA 93422

    Hi Grant, you wrote:

    Please help me find a person to service the unit.
    Look on the Accessories For Sale bulletin board. His post can also be found at http://www.sloperama.com/jansui.htm

    May the repairs be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 20, 2009


    My set

    >From: gadgetbiker
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I am so confused. I know nothing of mah-jongg..........
    >Well, to start. I found a Mah-jongg set in with my ,now passed, mother-in-laws things. Inside the case was a note saying that she had bougth the set when she at the 1936 Worlds Fair,Treasure Island,San Francisco.
    > She paid $ 5.00 for the set to a man who needed money to get home. The note also stated that the set was Ivory..(...If it's not someone needing a few bucks for gas,broken fan belt,flat tire,....it's someone selling a diamond watch for 10 bucks.)
    > Any-way I attached a picture collage of the set.
    >After reading much of your web-site, I figured that set is
    >made of Bakelite, from the early 1900's and I seem to missing ,sticks? markers? dice?...What I don't know if it's ,Japanese,Chinese, Or...Or....Or.
    > Also, is the cracks seen in the tiles due to quality,age...or poor storage ? And "of coarse" is it worth getting a on site apraisal? If so, do you know anyone in S.F. bay area ?
    > Thanks for listening,....... and.... Thank You, for pointing me in the right direction ?
    > Marc J.
    >P.S. I hope I didn't send you
    >one of those "Monster" attachments... computers..I lucky to know how to turn the darn thing on.

    Hello Marc,
    It wasn't easy, but I think I identified some questions from your email:

    I seem to missing ,sticks? markers? dice?
    Read about "bits and pieces" in FAQ 7d. The FAQ links are above left.

    I don't know if it's ,Japanese,Chinese, Or...Or....Or.
    The set was most likely made in one of those countries, since the tiles do not have Western indices. But I don't know anything about Bakelite manufacturing in those countries at that time. You might be able to find information on Jim May's site or CHarli's site. You can find links to their sites in FAQ 4a.

    is the cracks seen in the tiles due to quality,age...or poor storage ?
    The "cracks" you see are a natural feature of "applejuice" Bakelite tiles. Look it up.

    is it worth getting a on site apraisal?
    Worth is subjective. Only you can determine if something is "worth it" to you.

    do you know anyone in S.F. bay area ?
    No. If I did, the information would be in one of my FAQs. I can make a stab at it, assuming you mean you want a guess at the set's value, if you give me all the information I need. Read FAQ 7h. For starters, I should say that your white dragon tiles are extremely unusual, making the set quite collectible. But because your tiles do not have any Western indices, the collector who'd buy it would only be collecting it, probably not using it to play.

    I hope I didn't send you
    >one of those "Monster" attachments... computers..I lucky to know how to turn the darn thing on.
    Odd that you know how to create a professional-looking eBay-style photo collage, then.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 20, 2009


    Thank you

    From: "Lyn B
    Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:46 PM
    Subject: Thank you
    > Tom,
    > I learned o play Mah Jongg (American) last year, and am having a lot
    > of fun. My teacher, a friend, has been excellent, but when I
    > discovered your website, I was in heaven! I love your weekly
    > columns, and always do the exercises. I even dug out last year's
    > NMJL card so I could work through the exercises in last year's
    > columns. Very instructive and rewarding. Thanks again for
    > everything you do for the Mah Jongg community.
    > - Lyn B.

    Hi Lyn,
    Thanks! I needed to hear that. (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 18, 2009


    This week's column

    >From: Ray & Ruth
    >Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2009 6:54 PM
    >Subject: column 419
    >Tom..
    >Just read your August 16th column. Interesting as always, especially since I went through a similar exercise with some new players on Wednesday of this past week.
    >I want to refer them to your page, however, wondered about your number 1 exposure. Wouldn't you need 4 or 6 in craks or dots, plus the flowers?
    >Ruth

    Hi Ruth!
    You are absolutely right! I've corrected the column and added a tip of the hat to you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 16, 2009


    What happens to the tile taken in error? (British/Western MJ)

    From: "gail
    Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2009 5:52 AM
    Subject: Western/British style Mah Jong question
    > Hello Tom,
    > We play Western/British style Mah Jong (using the Kitty Strausser book
    > for rules). We recently had an instance where a player called a tile
    > for Mah Jong to form a pung and then declared that she had Mah Jong
    > and then proceeded to expose a chow from her hand and then quickly
    > realized that she had called Mah Jong 'in error'. We declared that she
    > was 'dead' however there was a dispute about what happens to the tile
    > that she picked up. Does it remain as part of the 'dead' hand or
    > should it be returned to the discards and possibly claimed by another
    > player to form a meld in their hand or even mah jong?
    > I greatly appreciate any clarification you may be able to offer.
    > Thanks,
    > Gail

    Hi Gail, you wrote:

    using the Kitty Strausser book
    Strauser, you mean. And don't forget Lucille Evans. It's a two-author book, unless you have an early early edition that was written by just one of them. (Tuttle published a later edition with some new material by me, and Tuttle even listed me as a third co-author; maybe Evans was a latecomer like me, if your book lists Strauser as sole author.)

    We declared that she
    > was 'dead' however there was a dispute about what happens to the tile
    > that she picked up. Does it remain as part of the 'dead' hand or
    > should it be returned to the discards
    I should explain to the readers of this board that "deadness" in British/Western rules is handled more like it is in all other un-American variants. (I should explain to you that most readers of this board play American mah jong, which is VERY different from every other variant of mah jong, and I use the term "un-American" to refer to all other variants in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way.)

    In British/Western mah jong (and in all forms of mah jong except American), when a player's hand is dead, the player continues to play. But he is not permitted to declare mah jong.

    After a player has taken a tile into the hand and then performed further moves based on having taken that tile, that tile stays part of the hand. It is not put back.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 16, 2009


    Where'd everybody go?

    >From: Maureen M
    >Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 11:28 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Are MahJongg players not active in the summer? Not many questions. I miss your witty (aka-sarcastic) answers. Most of the questions lately seem to be about the value of older sets. Thanks for taking my question....M.McB. Watervliet, NY

    Hi MM,
    We had a flurry of gameplay questions one week ago today. I have no witty or sarcastic explanation for the lack of gameplay questions in the past week.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 13, 2009


    Old link

    >From: Dee
    >Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 10:05 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jongg FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) updated
    >On Aug 3, 1:16 pm, tsloper wrote:
    >> Last posted on newsgroup: June 1, 2009
    >> Most recent updates to the FAQS (since the June 1, 2008 posting):
    >Tom, at one time there was a link to a MJ site in the FAQ:
    >http://home.worldonline.dk/anne_j/uk/index.htm
    >I got a copy of the Chinese Classical Rules from there. But now I
    >don't see the link in the FAQ any more. Do you remember this site?
    >If so, where did it move to? Thanks.
    > -Dee

    Hi Dee,
    If the link isn't present in FAQ 4a anymore, that's because I deleted it. When I can find a new URL for the old link, I add it. When I can't, I don't; and I don't necessarily put a lot of effort into looking for the new one. I assume Anne just let the old page die; if she put it up somewhere else, I don't know where it is. Best way to find it would be if you had some exact wording from the old site, then you could quote that wording and see if Google can find it. There's also a site that preserves old pages, but again I assume you'd need some exact wording from the old site. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 10, 2009


    How much is my ivory set worth? Approximately.

    >From: Rita H
    >Sent: Saturday, August 08, 2009 6:13 AM
    >Subject: mahjong
    >Dear Sir,
    >I have a Ivory Mahjong set which has been in our family for over a hundred years.
    > It is in a Velvet lined leather case and also has the stands made in China.
    > It is in excellent condition and we would like to know it's approx. value.
    >We hope that the photograph will give you an idea.
    >Please let us know if you require any other details as we are very
    >sure that this is genuine.
    >Hoping for a reply from you.
    >--
    >Thanks,
    >Rita Hunter

    Dear Madam, you wrote:

    I have a Ivory Mahjong set
    No, you don't. It's bone and bamboo. Please read FAQ 7c & FAQ 7c2; scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question.

    has the stands made in China.
    "Racks." What other pieces does it have? Read FAQ 7d.

    It is in excellent condition
    So you're saying it "has only very minor defects which only a purist or expert would notice or care about." Have a look at some close-ups I made of your photo.

    These close-ups fly in the face of its being (1) ivory and (2) in excellent condition.

    we would like to know it's approx. value.
    >We hope that the photograph will give you an idea.
    Well, it gives me an idea, but before I go out on a limb and try to guess at your set's value, I need to know more about it. Please read FAQ 7h and give me the information I need.

    we are very
    >sure that this is genuine.
    Well, it's a genuine mahjong set, all right. But it isn't ivory. After you give me the information I need, I can make a stab at your set's value.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 8, 2009


    Standard tile sizes?

    >From: "kf4dec
    >Sent: Friday, August 7, 2009 7:23:50 PM
    >Subject: Tile Sizes
    >I want to know if there is a "standard" size for Mahjong tiles? If so, what is the size (in inches) for the American set and the Chinese set?
    >Jesus c

    Hello Jesus,
    Take a look at FAQ 7a. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 7, 2009


    Please view and comment on my mahjong game software (work in progress), part 2

    >From: "wkleong"
    >Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 10:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >> My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >> */re: my mahjong game software (work in progress) /*
    >> sorry this took so long. my mahjong game demo is finally ready for
    >> download at ...
    >> http://www.nickmania.com/games.php?action=viewgame&game=9

    Hello W. K.,
    I've added the link to mahjong FAQ 5. Maybe some kind readers will try out your game and send me their comments.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 7, 2009


    Which takes precedence - English? Or colors?

    >From: Maureen M
    >Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 12:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the 2009 card, the last choice under singles and pairs is FF 2009 NEWS 2009 (1 or 2 suits, 2 and 9 same suit)
    >Am I right in assuming that 2009 can be the same suit in both 2009s, even though the card shows two different colors?
    >Also, more importantly, how do you pronounce Sloper? Is it Slop like slop soup on yourself or Slope like a hill?
    >Thanks for taking my question
    >Maureen

    Hi Maureen, you asked two questions. I'm rephrasing your first one:

    The parenthetical says "1 or 2 suits" but there are two colors (they didn't show it also in 1 color). So, which takes priority: The words in the parenthetical? Or the colors used in the symbolic representation of the hand?
    I've answered this question in FAQ 19. Read 19J & 19AJ to learn the principle of how to read the color-coding, whether a parenthetical exists or not, and if the parenthetical seems to contradict the color-coding.

    how do you pronounce Sloper?
    (^_^) It's like "slope" as in skiing downhill, or a cat who purrs slowly, having a "slow purr."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 6, 2009


    Table rotation

    >From: Carol E
    >Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 10:31 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong0 gtable rotation information
    >Hi Tom.
    >Your website is terrific.
    > I want to know if you could tell me where to get Mahjongg table rotation information. We have 10 ladies in our group so sometimes we play with 4, 5, 6, 7 8,9, or 10 people and we like to rotate so we all get to play with each other. Do you have any suggestions where I could get this information?
    >Thanks

    Hi Carol,
    There are a number of ways you can do this. I can only point you to FAQ 21, where one method is briefly described. The FAQ links are above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 6, 2009


    How many can I blind pass?

    >From: DALE H
    >Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 11:37 AM
    >Subject: Charleston
    >When doing the left in a charleston can I pass all three of the tiles that are given to me from my right player with out looking at them

    Hi Dale,
    There are only TWO times in the Charleston when you can blind pass. And they are not the two times that you pass left. Make sure you fully understand exactly when blind passing is permitted - read FAQ 19AG (the FAQ links are above left).

    To answer your question: you can blind pass 0, 1, 2, or 3 tiles.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 6, 2009


    Broken link

    >From: Alexander D
    >Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 7:37 AM
    >Subject: Link's changed
    >Howdy Tomster J
    >The link to Gareth Saunder’s printable Kards has changed, they are now to be found at http://www.garethjmsaunders.co.uk/mahjong/printcards.html
    >Thanks for your beautiful Mah-Jongg resource! Cheers,
    >Alex

    Hi Alexander,
    Thanks! I'll fix that as soon as I can figure out where it is. Probably FAQ 7i, I'm guessing. Cheers!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 6, 2009


    Use of "zeroes" in consecutive hands, redux

    >From: Nyamekye K
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 11:40 AM
    >Subject: Use of "Zeroes" in Consecutive Hands (American MJ)
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >In your answer to Sue Oringer's email of 27 March 2008 (sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive2.htm) with the same subject line as this email, you were very clear that "zeroes may not be used in Consecutive hands". You reiterated that answer in response to Sandra's email of 13 March 2009 (sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive8.htm) with the subject line "Can I use the number zero in a consecutive run hand?". In neither response were you clear about the rationale for your answer. I don't understand why, as you implied in your 27 March email, one must be a "wacko" with "a screw loose" and/or "have bats in the belfry" in order to conceive of zero as a perfectly "regular number" that should be able to be used in a Consecutive Run hand. You write:
    >"And don't bother looking for this rule in the official NMJL rulebook or in my FAQs or my book, either. Nowhere will you find it written, "zeroes may not be used in Consecutive hands," because nobody thought anybody would think that they could."
    >I beg to differ. I think that there are plenty of people that would be confused by an arbitrary supposition that zero is not a regular number. If you have a reason for not treating zero as part of a consecutive run of numbers, I would be pleased to hear it. Until then, I think that the "wacko" characterization of those who consider zero a number is out of line.
    >Yours,
    >Nym. K
    >Warner Robins, Georgia, USA

    Hello Nym.,
    Wow, my response to Sue on March 27, 2008 was a bit overboard, wasn't it? (^_^) I probably should have been less of a raging maniac and just given it to her straight, like I wrote to Sandra a year later on March 13, 2009:
    "No. (^_^) 1-9 only. Not 0-9 and not 0-10. And no half numbers either. 1-9 only."

    Anyway, to answer some of your points of today:

    In neither response were you clear about the rationale for your answer.
    I cannot give a reason for the existence of any rule. Those ladies asked me a question; I gave them the answer. Now you, too, have the answer. I cannot explain or justify the rule. Only the NMJL can do that. When and if you want to obtain a ruling or justification from the League, I strongly recommend that you get it in writing. Send them a self-addressed stamped envelope. It's a more definitive answer, and it will be a more satisfying experience for you and for the League.

    I don't understand why, as you implied in your 27 March email, one must be a "wacko" ... in order to conceive of zero as a perfectly "regular number" that should be able to be used in a Consecutive Run hand.
    I did go overboard with that. I was trying to be humorous, and I clearly failed.

    The use of white dragons as zeroes is the solution to the League's problem "how do we make a year that has a zero in it?" It's also conceivable that the League might make a hand that uses tens or something, like
    FFFF 9999 + 1111 = 10
    or something like that. If they did that, then the white dragon would need to be used.
    It's really only when you see a "0" on the card that the League intends for anyone to use a white dragon as zero.
    But I can't justify or explain the reason for that thinking to you. I can only tell you what it is.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 5, 2009


    "Rooshing"

    >From: michelle p
    >Sent: Monday, August 03, 2009 12:29 AM
    >Subject: American Mah Jongg - charleston/rooshing
    >Tom:
    >Many of my Jewish friends who play Mah Jongg use the term "rooshing" (phonetically spelled) interchangeably with Charleston. I
    >asked why they say that and they said they were taught that way. These players have been playing Mahj for 30-45 years. I'm wondering
    >whether this is a Hebrew or Yiddish word.
    >Have you heard of this? I wasn't able to find it anywhere. (except for a reference to clothing)
    >P.S. enjoyed your Red Dragon...West Wind.book very much.
    >Thanks for any info, and may the tiles be also with you.
    >michelle p
    >IL home: 847-[deleted]
    >Cell: 708-[deleted]

    Hi Michelle, you wrote:

    they were taught that way.
    Most people, the vast majority, who play mah jongg learned the rules from others. Precious few players learn from printed or written material. That includes terms, and rules (including table rules not supported by the NMJL) and etiquette (taught indistinguishably from rules).

    I'm wondering
    >whether this is a Hebrew or Yiddish word.
    I shrug my shoulders.

    Have you heard of this?
    Yes, I've heard of the term.

    I wasn't able to find it anywhere.
    Not very many people write about mah jongg.

    enjoyed your Red Dragon...West Wind.book very much.
    Excellent! Thanks so much. (^_^)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 3, 2009


    What if the word "any" is not in the parenthetical, part 4

    >From: Helen D
    >Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 11:09 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much for getting back to us.
    >Helen

    You're welcome, Helen.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 31, 2009


    What if the word "any" is not in the parenthetical, part 3

    >From: Helen D
    >Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:58 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hello, My question wasn't about the word (Any). My question is about the Pungs.
    >If they can be 3, 6, or 9's or do they have to be 9's. We understand what any 3 suits mean.
    >Thanks so much.
    >Helen

    Hi Helen,
    I fully understand exactly what your question is. You didn't ask what "any" means - you asked about how the NMJL card works when the word "any" is NOT PRESENT in the parenthetical. (Permitting a player to use "any" of three different numbers amounts to the same thing, even though the word "any" isn't used.)

    I directed you to FAQs 19AJ and 19AK, not to be mean or uncooperative, but to help you think about the NMJL card, and understand how it works, so that you can be better able to understand future cards.

    In FAQ 19AJ, I wrote:

      What if there's no parenthetical? For instance, if the card shows N EE but there's no parenthetical saying "these winds only," then can I make a single of any wind and a pair of any other wind?

    Think about this as it applies to your question:

      What if there's nothing in the parenthetical saying I can use numbers different than those shown? For instance, if the card shows 999 999 but doesn't say "Like Pungs 3, 6 or 9," then do I have to use 9's only?

    I wrote in FAQ 19AJ:

      If the card makers wanted you to mix-and-match the wind tiles this way, then there would be a parenthetical saying "any wind tiles" or something like that.

    Think about this as it applies to your question:

      If the card makers wanted you to mix-and-match the numbers tiles this way, then there would be a parenthetical saying "3, 6 or 9" or something like that.

    And in FAQ 19AJ I wrote:

      1. When a card shows you some color-coded symbols like 11 222 3333 444 55, then the card means exactly what it says.

    Think about this as it applies to your question:

      1. When a card shows you some color-coded symbols like FF 333 666 999 999, then the card means exactly what it says.

    The three principles you need to learn:

      1. When a card shows you some color-coded symbols, then the card means exactly what it says.
      2. When the card has a parenthetical, the parenthetical might be clarifying the color-coding, or might be describing trumping exceptions or modifications to what the color-coding said. Principle 2 is that principle 1 can be trumped by a parenthetical.
      3. When there is no trumping parenthetical, then principle 1 hasn't been trumped - so principle 1 holds true. This ought to go without saying (there shouldn't have to be a principle 3).

    You need to understand those principles so you don't have to ask me, or the NMJL, or anybody, every year when a new card comes out, about how to interpret a hand without a parenthetical (or with a parenthetical that does not say something that you think it might possibly ought to say).

    Therefore, since the card does NOT say you can use 3, 6 or 9, you may NOT use 3 or 6. The card means exactly what it says, since there is no parenthetical saying otherwise.

    I realize I answered this a lot more tortuously than might seem necessary, but my goal is to teach all my readers how to catch their own fish, so I don't have to keep handing them fish every day. I could have just answered your question "no," and been done with it. But you wouldn't have learned as much about how the color-coding works. I hope I have helped you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 30, 2009


    What if the word "any" is not in the parenthetical, part 2

    >From: Helen D
    >Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 9:09 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >How long does it take for your question to be posted. Mine is not there yet.
    >Helen

    Hi Helen,
    The answer was posted four hours ago (see below). And four hours ago, I emailed you to inform you that the answer was posted. If you did not receive that email, then I don't know what to tell you.
    But sometimes your Internet browser program might not "refresh" when you revisit a website within a short time of a previous visit. When that happens, you have to manually refresh it, in order to see new changes. There's undoubtedly a refresh button in the toolbar of your browser. I don't know what browser you use, so I can't tell you precisely what it looks like or exactly where to find it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 30, 2009


    What if the word "any" is not in the parenthetical?

    >From: Helen D
    >Sent: Thursday, July 30, 2009 3:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the National Mah Jongg League 2009 card; under the 369 hands, the very last hand which is
    >FF 333 666 999 999 (Any 3 Suits)
    >Can the Pungs be 3, 6, or 9's or do they have to be 9's.
    >My e-mail: sendtohelen@[DELETED]

    Hi Helen,
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Always check the FAQs first before asking a question.

    In the case of the question you have asked, read FAQs 19AJ & 19AK.
    After you've read those, if you are still unclear, come back. Help me figure out where what I wrote isn't clear, so I can fix it.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 30, 2009


    Help identify my set

    From: "k i e m"
    Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 10:56 AM
    Subject: help identifying my mj set made of bone/bamboo
    > Hello Tom,
    > First off, let me thank you for providing such a wonderful resource
    > for us all! I'm slowly making my way through every nook and cranny of
    > your site and revisiting as I get more familiar with all things MJ. I
    > recently purchased your book too. :)
    >
    > I tried looking at all the various sites and images with bamboo/bone
    > tiles out on the web, but I'm still not sure of the maker of my set. I
    > purchased this set off a gal on craigslist that said she got it from
    > her grandfather who brought it back from China during his business
    > travels. I got the four carved wooden tile holders from her as well.
    > They're carved on the front and back and paint applied to the raised
    > areas. It looks like a persimmon type of fruit in which some sort of
    > brown painted rodents or animals are eating the fruit off the
    > branches. There was no ming box/cylinder or bettor devise and at the
    > time I did not even know to ask if she had them. Do you think my set
    > is missing anything? The tiles LOOK like MJ Sales Co style and of the
    > 20s-30s era, but I'm just guessing.
    >
    > * The bone to bamboo ratio is about 60/40 and measure about 13/16 x
    > 1-1/4 x 1/2.
    > * The set came with 4 extra blanks
    > * There are two different sizes of bone carved dice that each came in
    > wooden boxes with sliding tops (4 dice in the small box made of a
    > softer cedar? wood and 6 in the larger out of a harder, lighter wood.
    > * There are 32 with 8 dots on each end sticks,
    > * 14 with 10 dots on each end,
    > * 36 with 4 dots on each end,
    > * 33 with 2 dots on each end,
    > * 6 with 12 dots on each end,
    > * 1 with 5 dots in the middle,
    > * 13 with 2 dots in the middle, and
    > * 14 with 1 dot in the middle.
    >
    > I received an additional four blank tiles as a gift from a friend(s)
    > to complete my set to play NMJL style, so I can play with them.
    > I'm including all images in a zipfile format and a link below to the
    > images if future readers are interested in this topic.
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/purlgurl/sets/72157614879935543/
    > Any information about this set is greatly appreciated.
    > Thanks in advance,
    > Kim S.
    > Berkeley, California

    Hi Kim,
    Thanks for buying my book. You asked:

    I'm still not sure of the maker of my set.
    It looks like a Babcock set. If not, it's certainly a Babcock-style set.

    a gal on craigslist that said she got it from
    > her grandfather who brought it back from China during his business
    > travels.
    If his business travels were in the 1920's or 1930's, maybe. More likely it was bought here in the U.S.

    Do you think my set
    > is missing anything?
    It's missing the rule booklet, and the ming and wind indicators as you say. And somebody's added extra sticks. See FAQ 7d.

    Any information about this set is greatly appreciated.
    Sure. Read FAQ 7p. What else do you want to know?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 29, 2009


    Picking out of turn, part 3

    >From: Ellen M
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 10:51 AM
    >Subject: Playing before previous player has discarded
    >I have your book and have read all the QandA and can't find an answer to this question. What if the player after you picks and discards before you have discarded?

    Hello Ellen,
    You asked this question, and I answered it, two weeks ago. Please scroll down and find your post, entitled "Picking out of turn, part 2," dated July 12.
    After you read my reply of the 12th, you are welcome to rephrase the question if my reply was unclear.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 28, 2009


    Please view and comment on my mahjong game software (work in progress)

    From: "wkleong"
    To: webmaster
    Sent: Monday, July 27, 2009 4:22 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I wrote a mahjong simulation/game for PC. please take a look and comment.
    > You can sit back and watch the AI play or join in. demo available soon.
    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuA56xScvqo
    > thanks.

    Hi WK,
    I'll put a link to your game in FAQ 5, when I know that the game itself is available. And I'm posting your email on the Mahjong Q&A Bulletin Board and on the Video Game Career Q&A Bulletin Board, in case any readers are interested in viewing your non-interactive demo and commenting (they would send me their comments and I'd post them here).
    But I'm sorry, since my business is game consulting, I would have to ask to be paid, were I to give you the commentary you are requesting.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper - Game Production & Design Consultancy
    - Sloperama Productions. Services for game developers and publishers; "Making Games Fun, And Getting Them Done." http://www.sloperama.com/business.html
    - Helpful information and answers for game industry hopefuls. http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html.
    - Information and bulletin boards about the game of mah-jongg. http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    - Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 27, 2009


    From: "swren2aol.com"
    Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 2:48:41 AM
    Subject: Mahjong Tile Request
    Hi
    I'm looking for blank acrylic mahong tiles 28x20x12mm with a green backing as per the attached picture. Do you know where I might be able to find these? Delivery would be to the UK.
    Plese email me at swren2aol.com if you can assist.
    Thanks.
    Sue Wren
    Attachment: tile.jpg (246KB)

    [Sorry, Sue, but we don't host photos for you on the Tiles Wanted Bulletin Board. Read How to Post Photos Online. And you're looking for blank tiles? Read FAQ 7Q. - Webmaster]


    That darned quints hand!

    >From: Sheelagh
    >To: Mah Jongg Questions
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 6:28:00 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >Can you please settle a qustion that came up this afternoon whilst play Mah Jongg. I did the 1123 11111 11111 , I actually did 1223 22222 22222, as it says any pr in the sequence should be the quints. Is this permissable or does it have to be as it is on the card. Please settle this question for our group.
    >This e-mail is from the desk of sheelagh

    Hi Sheelagh,
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #16. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left.
    You can also find the answer to this question on the National Mah Jongg League website (listed in FAQ 4a).
    And I used this particular hand as an example in my most recent column. Click the purple banner atop this page.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY
    July 21, 2009


    Tile arranging in the hand

    >From: "weeziejen
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 7:17:21 AM
    >Subject: MJ Q&A
    >What is the recommended way to arrange tiles in your hand after the deal - numerically by suit or just numerically (like numbers together, regardless of suit)?
    >Louise Claire

    Hi Louise,
    You can arrange them any way that works for you. Take a look at my weekly column (I guess you haven't yet availed yourself of that resource) and you can see how I arrange mine. I arrange them numerically by suit, at least at first. If I have multiple hands, I might find an arrangement that shows me most clearly which of my hands I'm closest to, then as I zero in on one hand I might re-arrange them to fit that hand.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY
    July 21, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question 7Q

    >From: Barbara
    >Email: ellives@aye.net
    >Sent: Sunday, July 19, 2009 4:42:10 PM
    >Subject: Please post: Looking for a tile.
    >I am looking for 4 bone and bamboo tiles. 13/16 x 1 5/32 x 1/2, bone is 1/8” thick. (Close to BNB-001 which has bone 1/4” thick.) Need either 4 soaps, or more likely 4 blanks which I will engrave. No SPAM please, and thanks!
    >Thank you!!
    >“Give more than you receive.”
    >Barbara

    Read FAQ 7Q, Barbara. The FAQs are above left. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you. Literally.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY (USA)
    July 19, 2009


    How much is my Austrian set worth?

    >From: "SBeck96
    >Sent: Sunday, July 19, 2009 2:26:44 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have a set in a red paper box marked "Ma Chong" Made in Austria, with 144 tiles, including no jokers but four blank tiles. The instructions are in German. I am trying to price this for sale at our Hospice Thrift Shop. The tiles seem to be plastic, cream colored with a brown backing. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Hello S,
    You have to give me more information. FAQ 7h tells you what I need to know. (Like photos, and condition, for instance - see other recent valuation requests, below.)
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (there's a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this , pointing to them). Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg can be found in the FAQs.
    But be advised that my estimate of your set's value will be very rough. Sets made in Europe don't often come my way.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY
    July 19, 2009


    How much are my booklet and set worth (cont'd)

    >From: Susan H
    >Sent: Saturday, July 18, 2009 2:28:15 PM
    >Subject: i got pics
    >Tom- My child came home for the weekend. The following pics are of the 1920's set I
    >e-mailed you earlier today about. The last six pics are of the oddity pamphlet I e-mailed you about earlier today also. I appreciate your time and await your reply.

    Hi Susan, you asked:

    How much is my set worth?
    Its flaws are that the case is apparently missing the front panel, one of the wind indicators is missing. This type of set usually had a container for the dice and that is not present (and there were usually more than two dice in the container). Some of the sticks are missing, and the manual is in bad condition. And one of the One Dot tiles needs repainting. Its pluses are that it has the feng and loong dragons and red Eight Dots. If not for the flaws it could be worth a couple of hundred dollars. But with the flaws, its value might be somewhere around one hundred.

    How much is my booklet worth?
    Very hard to say. It's not a common booklet, but it's in terrible condition. It's worth $10 or more. The actual price you could get from a collector would depend on how much he wants to have a booklet he doesn't already have. Anybody's guess, really.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY
    July 18, 2009


    How much is my set worth?

    >From: Susan H
    >Sent: Saturday, July 18, 2009 7:45:47 AM
    >Subject:
    >I have no ability to post a pic Tom. I have researched my ma-jongg set. I have a 1920's feng loong red eight dot 136 tile bone/bamboo set, complete with 8 flower tiles and 4 spare blank tiles. The tiles are 1 1/4" H, 7/8" W, 3/8" D. The tiles are in very good condition. Total tiles 148. Also 1 cylindrical bone container with top and 3 wind discs. 2 tiny dice with #1 as non-colored indent, 4's on dice are red. . There are 114 bone money sticks, breakdown is- 34-1 red dot- 7- 5 red dot- 40- 2 black dot- 32-10 black dot- 1 blank. The set sits in a 5 drawer (rosewood?) slider front box with brass corner guards and a double brass handle on top. 4 drawers are 3/4" deep, 5th drawer is 1 1/2" deep with a 2 finger indent pull. Faintly on bottom of box is printed MAH-JONGG
    > WITH COUNTERS
    > MADE IN CHINA
    >and on bottom of one dove-tail end is stamped VKS, and other dove-tail end on same side is the numbers 4316. I am in dire need of attaining a possible value. Yes, I do have the red Babcocks Book of Rules for Mah-Jongg, copyright 1920. From your FAQ the set is in very good condition.
    >I also have a complete printed pamphlet that I have not found anywhere on your site, or the other site museums available. It reads "Directions for playing "MA-JOE" Yue Sing Zung & Co.- dealers in Chinese Dominos (Ma-Jong), PIPES, NECKLACE BEADS, SEAL-STAMPS AND ALL KINDS OF FINE CARVING GOODS All made by Ivory Special Orders received in best attention Nos. 11-12 New North Gate, Inside City Shangai Directions for playing "Sparow". It is a 9 page pamphlet in good condition. I apologize for no pics (soon, I hope). I wish this approximate value of the set, if your so inclinded. And I also ask the value of the pamphlet, and who might be interested in it. I am grateful for your time.

    Hello Susan,
    Could you please make this easier for me by breaking it up into an itemized list? It's too much work to have to try to sort through your large block of text. Also, if you can't email me photos, I probably won't be able to help you.
    I replied on the booklet previously. Please scroll down to see that reply.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY
    July 18, 2009


    I can't find this non-existent rule ANYWHERE!!

    >From: "weeziejen
    >Sent: Saturday, July 18, 2009 7:13:30 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Q&A
    >I checked the back of the card, but it doesn't address this problem: If a person calls MJ in error and exposes her hand, I know she's dead, but does she discard her fourteenth tile?
    >Louise C

    Hi Louise,
    There's a good reason why you can't find this rule anywhere. It doesn't exist!
    Think about it for a second. If a person's hand is dead, that means she should stop playing. That's just logical. Well. If she discards, what is that? She's playing! Somebody might win off her discard -- how could a dead player give somebody a discard? She'd have to not be dead -- she'd have to be playing. And if somebody won on her discard, she'd have to pay. How can someone who's dead pay?
    The hand is dead. She stops playing. Period. She has no hand. She has nothing to discard.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY
    July 18, 2009


    How much is this booklet worth?

    >From: Susan H
    >Sent: Saturday, July 18, 2009 6:56:47 AM
    >Subject:
    >I have a pamphlet titled directions for playing "MA-JOE" , published byYue Sing Zung & Co. , dealers in Chinese Dominos(Ma-Jong) pipes, necklace beads, seal-stamps and all other kinds of fine carving goods all made by ivory Nos. 11-12 New North Gate, Inside City Shanghai. Special orders received in best attention. This is what the inside cover says, I need to know if yourtself would have info.as to what this complete booklet is worth and who might want it, as I have not seen it anywhere listed, on any site dealing with Ma-Jongg or Sparow? gracias!

    Hi Susan,
    Rarity is not the only determiner of an object's value. Condition is very important. And I couldn't make a guess at its value without seeing what it looks like. Too bad you are unable to email a photo. I can't help you, sorry.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY
    July 18, 2009


    Please email me some mahjongg letters

    >from: gwendolyn b
    >sent: friday, july 17, 2009 3:47:54 am
    >subject: letters
    >hi,
    >my name is gwen
    >will you please e-mail me the alphabets g w e n
    >i know i can get the letters - n - e - w - from my mahjongg set, but i still need the letter g.
    >thank you.

    Hi Gwen,
    What is it you want me to email you? (^_^) Your mahjongg set surely has a green dragon, does it not?
    By the way, "shouting" is forbidden here. Your email was converted to all lower case letters so as not to blast the eyeballs of any readers.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 17, 2009


      Color key


        Blue = an FAQ, a question that's been asked frequently.
        Purple = an angry email from a disgruntled reader.
        Green = a happy email from a grateful reader.
        Red = a technical support question about a computer game.
        Orange = a weird or off-topic email.
        Black = none of the above. Regular question or comment.


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