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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(
Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
3. Books on Mah-Jongg
  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
4b Lots O' Links!
5. Computer MJ
6. "Rosetta Stone"
7.
  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
  7c. What's It Made Of?
   7c2. Is It Ivory?
   7c3. One Word: Plastics
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  7q. "I Need Blank Tiles!"
  7r. "I Need Jokers!"
  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
  7t. DIY Joker Stickers
8. Strategy
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   11d. Earliest MJ writings
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   11f. Proto-MJ & CC
   11h. History timeline
12.
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26. Mah-Jongg Teaching Tips

Mah-Jonggy Fun
The 2002 WCMJ
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Pictures of Japan
Beautiful Nikko, Japan
A Hong Kong MJ Adventure
Pictures of Beijing
Mahjong in India
Shanghai & Ningbo
Mah Jongg Madness 2012
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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

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PLEASE READ FAQ 19 BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION ABOUT AMERICAN / NMJL RULES. Your question has probably already been answered there. (See links at left. Look for the "American" icon pointing to it, or just click this.) PLEASE READ THE FOREGOING!

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  • Can I reverse-redeem a joker?

    >From: Bruce
    >Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2012 7:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can I exchange my joker for a tile that another player has previously racked in order to make the “pair” that I need?

    Welcome to my website, Bruce. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. To save myself having to repeatedly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask all guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19AL. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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.
    For information about where to obtain the official NMJL rulebook, see FAQ 3.
    Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 29, 2012


    Conflicting claim with joker redemption

    >From: Linda L
    >Sent: Saturday, September 29, 2012 9:46 AM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >Hi: I have a question and I hope you can help.
    >Toward the end of a game, a player discarded a tile and two people called it. The tile meant mah jongg for both players; however, the player to the right (who would normally get the tile) also needed to take a joker from a newly exposed run using a different tile in her hand. In other words, for the player to the right to win, she would have had to call the discarded tile, then switch a different tile for an exposed joker, which would then give her "mah jongg." For the player to the left to win, she just needed to call the tile. Who should get the discarded tile and, therefore, win?
    >Thanks much,
    >Linda

    Hello, Linda.
    The rulebook does not go into precise detail on this situation, so all I can do is guess that the answer I am about to give you is what the League would say. To confirm, you should send your question to the League, in writing (you should not phone a rules question - see FAQ 19BN).

    If there was no conflicting claim, it might be that nobody would fault player R if she said "mah-jongg" when she saw the discard, then made a two-move play to make mah-jongg. But who is going to pay her double? Aha, there's the rub! If someone says "mah-jongg" on a discard, then everybody assumes the discarder (and only the discarder) will be paying double. However, because the tile she actually is winning on is the joker she gets by redemption, then everyone pays double.
    Follow me so far?
    So instead of saying "mah-jongg" on the discard, the proper call is "call" or "I'll take that" (she's taking it for an exposure, not for mah-jongg). THEN, after she makes the joker redemption, she can say "mah-jongg."

    Since this is a conflicting claim (two players want the tile), player R cannot say "mah-jongg" on that tile (given what I said above) - but the other player CAN. So player R gets to tear her hair out for not having redeemed that joker sooner. Shoulda woulda coulda!

    In case somebody out there didn't follow you, you said that player R's joker redemption was not needed to complete the same set completed by the discard (this wasn't Frequently Asked Question 19M, such as in "It sounds like you're trying to tell me something," From: Paula A on September 18, below - this was a completely different question).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 29, 2012


    Another column oopsie

    >From: Michael G
    >Sent: Friday, September 28, 2012 7:21 AM
    >Subject: Re: MJ Column - One More
    >Sorry to do this... but I was practicing on old defense exercises and I found another mistake.
    >In Column #530, exercise #14, it could also be Evens #4, which would mean that 2-bams and 4-dots are key, and 6-dots are hot.
    >Thanks!
    >Michael

    Good eye, Michael! So noted.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 28, 2012


    Column oopsie

    >From: Michael G
    >Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2012 9:16 AM
    >Subject: MJ Column
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you for your insightful columns every week.
    >Last week, in your defense exercise, one of your examples was an exposure of three 7-dots and four 9-dots. You had said the tiles to look out for were 1-dot, 3-dot, and 5-dot. But the person could also be playing Consecutive #1, which means that 6-dots are hot and 8-dots are also something to look out for.
    >Just wanted to get this out to you.
    >Thanks,
    >Michael G

    Quite right, Michael. Problem 5 in column 537 has been fixed, 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.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 27, 2012


    Estimate of what it might be worth?

    >From: saguarosun
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 12:48 PM
    >Subject: Question for you
    >Hello Tom,
    > Love your web site, made me smile. I needed that today!
    > I have a question for you. My mother received this Mahjongg set from a lady over 20 years ago. Can you give me an estimate of what it might be worth? The name Sarah Rudin is on a label on the outside (have no idea who she is?). The case is very deep red alligator skin leather.
    > Attached are 10 pics according to yor specs? There are no chips or cracks in anything with one exception, the yellow holding tray is chipped along one edge. It appears as though the tiles are made of ivory (same feel as piano keys, but are yellow in color). It appears as though there may be some number 2 and 3 tiles missing, but since the books didn't have any inventory list, I can't tell what is supposed to be there and what is missing.
    > Feel free to post anything you would like to your website. Just don't know what to do with this so I need your expert opinion.
    > Thanks,
    >Georganne

    Hi Georganne,
    You wrote:

    Attached are 10 pics according to yor specs?
    I think I need to improve my specs! It's a challenge to "read" your set to see if it's complete, the way you laid out your tiles. It helps if you lay out your tiles the way I lay them out in FAQ 7A:

    They could also be laid out like "the big square" in column 492:

    Any extra tiles can be laid out to the side.

    It appears as though there may be some number 2 and 3 tiles missing, but since the books didn't have any inventory list
    I have an "inventory list" here on my site. See FAQ 7B and 7E. I see your 2 Bams, your 2Craks, your 2 Dots (and same for your threes). I think you're saying there's an imbalance in the flower numbers -- but players of American mah-jongg today don't care about the numbers written on the flower tiles. What matters is how many flowers there are (and how many jokers - see column 509).

    It appears as though the tiles are made of ivory (same feel as piano keys, but are yellow in color).
    They look like plastic to me. Read FAQ 7C. You can link to the FAQs above left. Read about ivory, read about plastics used in mah-jongg tiles.

    The name Sarah Rudin is on a label on the outside (have no idea who she is?)
    I think it's safe to assume she was a previous owner of the set, or do you have reason to believe the name has greater significance than that?

    The case is very deep red alligator skin leather.
    But is it in like-new condition, or is it all beat up and smelly? I can't tell you its value unless I know its condition.

    Can you give me an estimate of what it might be worth?
    No. You haven't given me all the information I requested in FAQ 7G. Please read FAQ 7G and tell me what I need to know.

    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2012


    Need font guidance

    >From: Lynn M
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 9:59 AM
    >Subject: More re: Need teaching guidance, and that FAQ
    >Hi Tom—
    >Thanks for FAQ 26!
    >Re: the mah jongg fonts, perhaps this question is beyond the scope of the Q&A board, but in case it’s a surprisingly simple answer (one can always dream), how did you add Western indices and how did you create the joker tile? I’d love to be able to create hands of tiles for handouts, but this may be beyond my skill level.
    >Thanks,
    >Lynn M.

    Hi, Lynn.
    I googled "font editor download," found several different font editors, tried a couple out, then spent several hours editing that Japanese font to suit my American audience.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 26, 2012


    Need teaching guidance, and that FAQ - continued

    New! "FAQ 26: Mah-Jongg Teaching Tips" is now live, hot off the presses. You know where the FAQs are.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 25, 2012


    Need the tiles that match these racks

    >From: "joe
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 8:07 AM
    >Subject: Need Mahjongg Tiles to Match Racks
    >Hello Tom,
    > First, I'm not a mahjongg player and don't have any questions regarding the game. My inquiry is about a Fujian Lacquerwares set I bought in Hong Kong in the early '80's. I have the "racks" because I'm not sure what you call them otherwise. However, I don't have the tiles. They must have been lost along the journey many years ago. I've had this sitting in the basement for years and one of my clients is avid player. I gave it to her but then asked "where are the tiles?" According to her, the tiles need to be an exact match or else they won't "rack" up evenly or correctly. I had no idea. So, I thought I'd seek out someone who could help me locate a matching set of tiles for the racks I have which lead me to this place and this person; you. The only English contained within or on the box is Fujian Lacquerwares, Made in Fujian, China and Art. No. 103 which is handwritten on a sticker underneath each rack. Also, on the outside on one end of the box, there's another sticker that has a lot of Chinese characters in boxes however, one box has "K8" handwritten in it. See attached photos. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I would love to give this as a gift to my dear friend and client. Thank You and have a wonderful day! Peace and God Bless....
    > joe

    Hello, Joe.
    Your client friend is mistaken. A lacquerware company made these racks, sure. But lacquerware companies don't make tiles. This type of rack was made to be sold separately -- it's not a set that is supposed to come with tiles of a particular type.
    But she is right about one thing; if you want to give her the racks and some tiles, you do need the tiles to be the right size for the racks. Rack size has three dimensions that need to be appropriate to the tiles: height, depth, and length.

    If the rack's height is shorter than the thickness of two tiles, that can be a problem. And if the top of the rack is less deep (in the Z-axis, measured from the player's seat position to the center of the table) than the longest proportion of a tile, that can be a problem, as seen in the cross section picture above.
    And then we have the length:

    A rack must not be shorter than the width of 18 tiles stacked in a wall. Chinese players make walls 18 tiles long. American players make walls 19 tiles long. Chinese manufacturers almost never make racks 19 tiles long, so American players are accustomed to having to deal with that inequity.

    So now if you are going to buy a set of tiles to give to your client friend, you need to find out which kind of mah-jongg she plays. Then obtain appropriate tiles for that variant, of a size appropriate for your racks (based on the measurements of your racks).
    I have articles about how to identify a mah-jongg variant (FAQ 2B), what constitutes an appropriate mah-jongg set for that variant (FAQ 7A), and where to buy tiles here in America (FAQ 7K). You can link to the "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions") above left. Happy reading!

    May the tiles be with you. Literally.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 25, 2012


    She's dead, so can the other player have that disputed discard?

    >from: shelly c
    > Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 9:30 AM
    >Subject: Dispute
    >Tom:
    >Player 1 discards East. Player 2 and 4 call it at same time. Player 2 takes it (next in line) and exposes it with 2 jokers. Player 4 states that she is dead (concealed hand), so player 2 puts exposure back on her rack.
    >Player 4 insists that she is entitled to the East because she called it at same time and now player two is dead and now she can't make her mah-jongg. We all disagree and continue with game minus player 2.
    >Player 4 is not a happy camper! Who's correct?
    >Crazy 'bout mahj.

    Hello, Shelly.
    There is a rule about this situation. The NMJL printed this rule in the 2005 bulletin, and it's in my book on page 63 (rule 98f). See FAQ 19H. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 24, 2012


    Need teaching guidance, and that FAQ

    >From: Lynn M
    >Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 4:52 AM
    >Subject: Question about teaching American MJ
    >Hi Tom,
    > I'm teaching again at Forever Learning Institute in South Bend, Indiana. With your help, I have refined my lesson plans over the past couple of years. Now I have another need: my students (8 seniors, as in "senior citizens," not high school!) are requesting that I show sample hands so that they can see the different ways to make the same hand. I have composed hands of tiles before class and put them into baggies so I can show them at the next class. Alternatively, I've made hand-outs by putting tiles on the copy machine, shrinking them to 75% (so a whole hand will fit on a portrait-orientation 8.5 x 11 page) and literally cutting and pasting (with scissors & glue) them onto a page and copying that page. I *am* willing to do almost anything for mah jongg J, but this is very cumbersome. Can you tell me what your resource is for the little graphics of individual MJ tiles that you use on your site? It would be GREAT to be able to electronically place tiles into a hand that I could then print for handouts. Also, might I humbly suggest that you consider starting a FAQ called "Tips for teaching MJ" so that all this stuff is in one place? That would be ever so lovely!
    > A million thanks,
    >Lynn M. (Sandy's friend-of-a-friend)

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    my students are requesting that I show sample hands so that they can see the different ways to make the same hand. I have composed hands of tiles before class and put them into baggies ... Alternatively, I've made hand-outs by putting tiles on the copy machine
    I find it's very effective to make the students make those hands. "Here's the Xth hand in 2468. It works like this... [explain]. Now, I want each player to make this hand. Turn all the tiles face-up on the table, and make the hands atop your racks." Then if you see that one player won't be able to make the hand because there aren't enough of a needed tile (even with jokers), you can either use that to teach about what can happen when players are in one another's hair, or you can alert her to make the hand a different way. Students learn better when they make the hands themselves.
    Note: when the class is 8 people, a "player" is 2 people.

    Can you tell me what your resource is for the little graphics of individual MJ tiles that you use on your site?
    I have 2 mah-jongg fonts, and some mah-jongg tile graphics sources, listed in FAQ 5.

    Also, might I humbly suggest that you consider starting a FAQ called "Tips for teaching MJ" so that all this stuff is in one place?
    Yeah, that idea occurred to me, but when I got your email, I got serious and started collecting some material for an FAQ. One of these days soon I'll put it up.

    May the tiles be with you. And my best to Sandy in Cincinnati.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 24, 2012


    Today's column, part 3

    >From: "krrrad
    >Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 6:45 PM
    >Subject: Column #538
    >Hi Tom,
    >I'm back! Example #10 is indeed Consecutive #5, but wouldn't the hot tiles be F and 7 Bam (not 7 D)? May the tiles always be with you too! Karen

    DOH! When I was proofing the column, I caught two other D/B mixups. Missed that one! Fixing it now... Thanks, Karen.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 23, 2012


    This week's column, part 2

    >From: "krrrad
    >Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 3:38 PM
    >Subject: Re: Column #538
    >Hi Tom
    >Wow, that was quick.If possible, can you remove ny last name from posting in your column? Thx! Karen

    (Sigh!) I keep getting this wrong. When someone signs her full name while identifying a mistake in my column, I assume she wants that recognition. Of course I'll delete it, Karen. My apologies for having revealed your true Superwoman identity to the world.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 23, 2012


    This week's column

    >From: "krrrad
    >Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2012 10:39 AM
    >Subject: Column #538
    >Hi Tom.
    >Love your column. Re #538, #17, it can't be 369 #1, because you need four red dragons, not three, right? Karen ██████

    Quite right, Karen. A tip o' the hat to sharp-eyed you. I changed the picture to show four dragons. As is often the case, no legally-exposed hand on this year's card has a pung of dragons.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 23, 2012


    How old is my set?

    >From: Letty T
    >Sent: Saturday, September 22, 2012 2:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi
    >I have read your site, well searched as much as I could.
    >I have a set but want to determine what era roughly its from
    >comes in wooden box slider and drawers.
    >the tiles are not the normal dovetailed with bamboo.
    >They are all bone I think?
    >regards
    >Letty

    Letty, I really can't tell you anything with such limited information and no pictures. Please read FAQ 7G and give me the information I need.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Autumnal Equinox, 2012


    Have you written a game of American Mah Jong for purchase, yet?

    >From: Courtney B
    >Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 2:00 PM
    >Subject: American Mah Jong Game
    >Have you written a game of American Mah Jong for purchase, yet? I just read your book, Red Dragon and the West Wind and you seem to have written games for Chinese mah jong. Do you plan on writing a "real" American mah jong game? The matching game just doesn't get it. PLEASEEEEEE. Thanks, Courtney B

    Hi, Courtney.
    I am not a programmer, so I don't "write" computer games myself. I'm a designer and producer, which means that when I have been provided with the funding, I can hire a developer and have them make a game for me, according to specifications that I write.
    In 1999 I was employed at Activision, and I made two versions of Shanghai with (as you call it) "real" American mah-jongg: "Shanghai: Second Dynasty" and "Shanghai: Mah-Jongg Essentials" both supported the American style of mah-jongg (as well as some tile-matching games). But that was 13 years ago, and the games only run on old computers, if you can find the software, which is hard to do. 13 years is a long time, in the computer software world.

       

    I don't work for Activision anymore - now I teach at the University of Southern California, and I am paid much less than I was at Activision 13 years ago. If someone wants to raise the funds (I don't want to raise them myself), then I would be happy to make a new program. Until that time, you'll have to be satisfied with the American mah-jongg games listed in FAQ 5. You can get to the FAQs via the links 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.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 20, 2012


    Can I say mah-jongg on a discard if I'm waiting for a single or to complete a pair?

    >From: "marwal
    >Sent: Thursday, September 20, 2012 1:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >Question: I was recently playing the Winds and Dragons hand as follows:
    >FF DDDD NEWS DDDD
    >I had all the tiles but the second Flower. Can I take a flower if discarded by another player and claim Mah Jongg?
    >I know that tiles cannot be taken to make pairs - but if one tile which is part of a pair is needed to claim Mah Jongg, can that tile be taken?
    >thank you.

    Hi, marwal.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. To save myself having to constantly retype answers, I have compiled all my frequently given answers into a series of articles or FAQs ( "Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask newcomers to explore before writing to me.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19.E.3.
    Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 20, 2012


    Stopping the 2nd Charleston, as an offensive move

    >From: "deanh
    >Sent: Monday, September 17, 2012 12:02 PM
    >Subject: Stopping the second Charleston
    >I never stop the second Charleston in the friendly games I play, but this question is about "serious" play, whatever that means.
    >I would expect at least one player to stop the second Charleston in almost every hand. Everyone expects to gain from it, but not equally. If I think other players will improve their hands more than mine, I'm better off if the second Charleston doesn't happen. Wouldn't you expect at least one player to feel this way?
    >I don't know what kind of hand would gain more from a "second", but I have a couple of guesses:
    >1) My hand hasn't taken shape yet, and I need more information.
    >2) I'm working on a hand that needs a pair.
    >3) If people keep passing the sames tiles they dumped in the first Charleston, I can take advantage (winds and dragons come to mind, but it could work with any suits or numbers that nobody seems to want.)
    >If none of those apply to my hand, I may be mathematically better if there are no more exchanges.
    >Does my thinking make any sense in general? If so, what kinds of hands would make you say "stop" ?
    >Thanks,
    > Dean H

    Hi, Dean.
    Sorry this email fell through the cracks for a couple days. You wrote:

    this question is about "serious" play, whatever that means.
    I imagine it means "competitive" play (in tournament situations or when playing with highly competitive players).

    I would expect at least one player to stop the second Charleston in almost every hand.
    I wouldn't. Why would you expect that?

    Everyone expects to gain from it, but not equally.
    You mean everyone expects to gain from the 2nd Charleston? I wouldn't say that. I'd say most of them are hoping to.

    If I think other players will improve their hands more than mine, I'm better off if the second Charleston doesn't happen.
    I don't know where you might get that thought from - from reading their body language, from listening to their unwise chatter?

    Wouldn't you expect at least one player to feel this way?
    No, I wouldn't.

    I don't know what kind of hand would gain more from a "second", but I have a couple of guesses:
    >1) My hand hasn't taken shape yet, and I need more information.
    Absolutely. Most of time this is what most people are experiencing.

    2) I'm working on a hand that needs a pair.
    It would be rare to actually make the pair during the Charleston. I mean, one can hope, but just sayin'.

    3) If people keep passing the sames tiles they dumped in the first Charleston,
    "The same junk keeps going around" and "I should have collected those" are commonly heard expressions during the 2nd Charleston.

    I can take advantage (winds and dragons come to mind, but it could work with any suits or numbers that nobody seems to want.)
    Sure.

    If none of those apply to my hand, I may be mathematically better if there are no more exchanges.
    >Does my thinking make any sense in general?
    Essentially, if I read you right, you're suggesting stopping the Charleston as an offensive move, is that right? If the hand is pretty hopeless, then an offensive move might make sense. But often the hand's shape can improve in the 2nd dance.

    what kinds of hands would make you say "stop" ?
    I stop if I have a clear hand by the end of the 1st Charleston (and sometimes if I have 2 clear and strong hands), and don't have 3 tiles I can pass. Even if I have 3 tiles to pass, I could get a keeper in the 2nd left, and that would give me a real problem in the 2nd across. I don't usually stop the dance just to mess up the other players' chances. I guess in a "serious" competitive game, I might do that if it might give me an edge, as you said, but not as a habit (only to turn things around).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 19, 2012


    Couldn't find this in the FAQs

    >From: Susan S
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:07 PM
    >Subject: Jokers from dead rack
    >Hi,
    >Please forgive me if my question is redundant. I searched your Q&A, but may have missed the answer.
    >Situation; Player declares mah jong. She exposes her hand. We determine that she is wrong because she has matched a joker in a pair. She has other jokers in pungs on her rack. She is out of the game, but other three players continue.
    >Questions:
    >Since the tiles are exposed, may the players replace pung jokers with their equivalent, such as a 3 dot for a joker in a 3 dot pung? Is the joker in the pair dead that was used with a 2 bam?
    >Your help is appreciated,
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan.
    It's FAQ 19P. Sorry it is so hard to find.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 18, 2012


    Column 537

    >From: Terry T
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 5:44 PM
    >Subject: error in column #537
    >Hand #13 could also be "Like Numbers" or "Elevens #2.
    >Terry T.

    That's right, Terry. The column does say that. ("13. Elevens, Like Nos., or Consec. #4.")
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 18, 2012


    It sounds like you're trying to tell me something

    >From: Paula A
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 2:50 PM
    >Subject: Sticky situation
    >I read this in your column:
    >When it is your turn, you must first bring a 14th tile into the hand. There are two ways to bring a 14th tile into the hand - by picking from the wall OR by taking a discard for exposure. THEN, after picking (or after taking and exposing a COMPLETE* exposure), you may redeem jokers from atop anyone's rack (including your own).
    >What if you need that joker in order to pick up a tile for exposure? Can you call for the tile, then retrieve the joker to complete the kong? This happened in our group and it was for Mah Jongg. It sounds like you're saying you have to have the complete exposure before redeeming the joker.

    Hi, Paula. You wrote:
    It sounds like you're saying you have to have the complete exposure before redeeming the joker.
    I'm glad it sounds like that, because that's what I was going for.
    I just looked at FAQ 19M to see whether this is what you were quoting, and it is -- but you didn't quote the whole FAQ. The rest of it says:

      *To clarify the phrase "complete exposure": If you want to call for exposure, and then (on the same turn) redeem a joker, and then use that newly acquired joker to completely fill the exposure you just made in that same turn, NO. You are out of luck.
      - FIRST you have to make the exposure (put up the complete set).
      - THEN (and ONLY then) can you redeem jokers.
      Parallel example: You can't go to the store and say "I'll buy this with the $13.45 in my purse, then I'll go to the bank and come back right away and pay you the remaining $27.89." You have to have ALL the cash on hand when you buy something. Same thing with making an exposure. You have to have the necessary other tiles to complete the exposure, BEFORE you may claim a discard to make the exposure.
      There's no such thing as a "future joker."
      So: Since you cannot take the discard, you can do the next best thing - you can sigh or moan or kvetch or shoot daggers with your eyes at the person who discarded that tile you badly desire but cannot have. That's pretty much all you're able to do at that point. But hey, kvetching is part of the fun of mah-jongg, right? (^_^)

    I'm sorry my explanation is so vaguely worded, Paula. I'll try to improve it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 18, 2012


    Old mahjong set

    >From: Mary M
    >Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2012 9:29 AM
    >Subject: Old Mahjong Set
    >Dear Tom,
    >Could you please tell me about my set? I bought it at a market in Shanghai about 10 years ago while I was living in Hong Kong but before I was much interested in Mahjong. It has since become a passion!
    >The wooden box has five drawers and a slide that goes from top to bottom. The box measures 24 cm x 14 cm x 16 cm
    >There are 144 tiles made of bone and bamboo and measuring 2 cm wide x 2.5 cm long x1.1 cm deep. There are no Western indices.
    >The set contains:
    >4 each of the Craks 1-9
    >4 each of the Bams 1-9
    >4 each of the Dots 1-9
    >4 each of the Winds, ESWN
    >4 each of the red, green & white dragons
    >8 flower tiles
    > A friend brought me the guidebook from the Display Hall of the Birthplace of Mahjong in Ningbo, China which he visited when he was teaching there and the photo of Chen Yumen's cards in that book look very similar to the set I have.
    >There is evidence of wear on the tiles and the front slide of the box has been repaired. One drawer is empty so the counters, die etc are missing.
    >I don't want to sell the set but would like to learn more about it and if it has any value.
    >Many thanks,
    > Mary M
    >Toronto, ON,
    >Canada
    >(Photos attached)

    Hi, Mary. You wrote:

    Could you please tell me about my set? ... would like to learn more about it...
    Please ask a specific question. Read FAQ 7P. To save myself having to repeatedly retype the answers to frequently asked questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask all guests to check before writing to me. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). In this case, your question is too vague and open-ended.

    A friend brought me the guidebook from the Display Hall of the Birthplace of Mahjong in Ningbo, China which he visited when he was teaching there and the photo of Chen Yumen's cards in that book look very similar to the set I have.
    The Chinese say "cards," but here in the West we say "tiles." I don't see an exact similarity between your tiles and those in that book. Even so, I don't think those tiles in the book were actually Chen Yumen's. I don't care if the book says they were, if that's what the book says (I can't read Chinese); they look too recent.

    would like to learn ... if it has any value.
    It does. But not a lot. The tiles aren't that old, and the box might be of recent manufacture. And as you noted, all the other bits and pieces are absent. Have you read FAQ 7H?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 16, 2012


    I'm not asking a Shanghai technical support question (I lied)

    >From: Sam C
    >Sent: Friday, September 14, 2012 7:06 PM
    >Subject: software and my complements
    >Hi Tom Sloper:
    >I've read your FAQs over the years and believe me that I am not asking
    >for technical support.
    >1. First, I would like to give you props for the Shanghai:Second
    >Dynasty product. My parents are from China, and they have been
    >playing the non-networked, Mahjong game for years. In fact I have
    >them hooked up to an old XP machine, just so they can keep playing.
    >It's been more than 10 years, but they love the product.
    >2. Is there any possibility that Activision or you would release a
    >new version of Second Dynasty? Soon Microsoft will discontinue
    >support for XP in 2014. Also, any tips for getting the product to
    >work in Win 7? Okay, so I lied, a bit.
    >3. Have you tried any of the other products in your FAQ and do you
    >recommend any of them? I've been eyeing the 4winds product, and
    >wanted to know what you think.
    >I am not a mahjong player myself, but again, props for the development
    >of a great product in Second Dynasty. I fear the answer to #2 is "no,
    >there is no big commercial market for the product".
    >Thanks! Sam

    Niihau, Sam.
    I'm glad they enjoy it, but as you say, it's an ancient product. As the great George Harrison sang, "All Things Must Pass."
    No, there isn't.
    No. If you have any that are not listed in FAQ 24, please tell me so I can make the game work on my computer.
    Yes, I have.
    No, I don't do that. When I created FAQ 5, I refrained from opinionating out of a need to be impartial and fair (since I was then an employee of Activision). That said, Four Winds is solid and has a LOT of great features; the only thing I don't like about it is the screen layout (showing the hands in four rows rather than as if placed around a table). I will probably come to regret having answered this question with this answer. I wish you had not asked it.
    Exactly.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 14, 2012


    Conflicting claim

    >From: Ken W
    >Sent: Friday, September 14, 2012 3:48 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Our fairly new mah-jongg group was playing today and we had an "incident" as follows:
    >Player #2 discarded a tile at the end of her turn.
    >Player #3 called "chow" - reached for the tile and started to put it on his rack with the other two tiles to make the chow.
    >Player #4 called "pung" at the moment of the pick up and racking of that tile by player #3
    >The argument became two part -
    >Player #4 maintaining that Pung trumps Chow and the play was still open since Player # 3 had not yet discarded.
    >Player #3 maintaining that once he had picked up the discarded tile and exposed his other tiles that would make the chow that Player #4 called pung too late in the play.
    >Is this decided by trump or by timing?
    >Thanks for your help with this - we just want to agree on procedure and continue to enjoy our games. Smile
    >Maggie
    >kawmew

    Hi, Maggie. You asked:
    Is this decided by trump or by timing?
    It depends. Which mah-jongg variant do you play? (What book and author does your group use as your rulebook?) If you don't have a book and you don't know the name of your variant, see FAQ 2.B. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    FAQ 20.H applies for most un-American variants, but for MCR (Guobiao Majiang) there is a 2-second rule.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 14, 2012


    Must I expose a 2012?

    >From: winnie g
    >Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2012 3:44 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: played last night and was trying for the 2nd "2012" game starting with 2 flowers 2012. I got the 2012 by taking a discard of one of the needed digits. Was told to display it as I thought was the procedure. Later we were joined by someone who said they had read the rules and that when I had gotten the 2012 in this manner I did not have to put it up for all to see. This seems to me to not be right?? What is your view? Thanks, Winnie

    Hello, Winnie.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. To save myself having to repeatedly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask all guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19E. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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.
    For information about where to obtain the official NMJL rulebook, see FAQ 3.
    Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 13, 2012


    Can she claim a tile she doesn't really need, to keep it from someone else?

    >From: Lisa & Lance K
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 1:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When a player already has 3 like tiles (without using a joker), and her hand only calls for 3 of those tiles (not 4) and another player throws the 4th of that tile, can she call it because she knows that somebody else is looking for that tile? She would then expose 3 tiles that she already had and hold the 4th tile until she hopefully makes mah jongg and thus preventing another at the table from making mah jongg. In other words, can you call for a tile that you really already have in your hand??
    >Thank you.

    Hello, Lisa and Lance.
    Sure, she can do that. She can call the discard, make an exposed pung, and sit there holding the 4th tile in her hand. But when she does this, she is (1) revealing information about her hand (showing people that she's making a hand that utilizes the exposed pung), and (2) holding a potential hot potato tile, which is getting increasingly hotter with every play. If she ever wants to declare mah-jongg, she's going to have to discard the hot potato. And it'll be even more dangerous when she finally gets around to discarding it, since her opponent might obtain jokers in the meantime.
    The smarter thing to do, in my opinion, would be to leave the discard unclaimed. Her opponent who also needs that tile might claim it at that time, but would not necessarily know that the player has a pung of that tile hidden in her hand. As I often say in my strategy column, discard hot tiles earlier rather than later.
    Of course, if her hand is already dead, or she's willing to kill her hand to prevent the opponent from winning, it's a perfectly good strategy.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 11, 2012


    The eighth hand

    >From: Shelly M
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 5:07 AM
    >Subject: The 8th hand
    >Could be a consecutive hand 6, 7, 8, 9
    >Hot tiles 7 bam and 8 craks.
    >Shelly

    Hi, Shelly
    Barbara I. asked a couple days ago (just below this) about the eighth hand in Odds, so I thought at first that you were replying to that conversation. But then I guessed you were talking about this week's column instead, so I looked there. And sure enough, that's what you were doing. And you are right. The eighth pair of exposures in this week's column could indeed indicate the third hand in Consec.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 11, 2012


    Column 531

    >From: Barbara I
    >Sent: Sunday, September 9, 2012 6:48 PM
    >Subject: Possible miss on #531 August 5,2012
    >Is it possible on #15 that 8 odds could also work?  If not, please-mail me and explain why. Thanks...I just discovered site, and I enjoy it! Barbara

    Hi, Barbara. You wrote:

    Is it possible on #15 that 8 odds could also work? 
    Well, it's possible that she might think she's doing that. But if she is trying to make that hand, she's making a mistake. If she exposes 1D, 9D, 1C, or 9C, you can call her dead for exposing a concealed hand.

    If not, please-mail me and explain why.
    I'm sorry, I don't email answers to questions. I want the answers to be shared with everyone. I hope you understand.

    Thanks...I just discovered site, and I enjoy it!
    You're welcome, and I hope you continue to enjoy it!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 9, 2012


    Looking for a computer mah-jongg game

    >from: janice w
    >sent: saturday, september 8, 2012 8:42 am
    >subject: mah-jongg q a
    >my mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > i have been playing chinese mah-jongg with 3 friends once a week and i want to play more. can you recommend an on line community to play with or a solitare that plays by your chinese rules? thank you, jan w

    Hello, Janice.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. To save myself having to repeatedly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask all guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question #5. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 8, 2012


    Hoping to understand Chinese scoring a bit better

    >From: Brigid McCarthy
    >Email: ak_beeyahoo.com
    >Sent: Thursday, September 6, 2012 8:16 PM
    >Subject: Find Players/Teachers
    >Location (city and zip code): Bethesda MD 20817
    >My kind of mah jongg is: traditional chinese self taught
    >I am visiting the DC area and was hoping to see the game played by others. I am also hoping to understand scoring a bit better. Thank you Brigid McCarthy

    Brigid,
    I hope you understand that there are quite a few "traditional Chinese" scoring systems. See Frequently Asked Question 2B, and also FAQ 3 lists a number of books, and FAQ 4b lists a number of websites. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Just saying, if you find a group playing a Chinese variant, there's no guarantee that they'll be playing the one you've learned already. (The result might be greater confusion rather than greater understanding, if you don't read some FAQs first.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2012


    Can I redeem more than one joker in a turn?

    >From: rachel a
    >Sent: Thursday, September 6, 2012 2:36 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >Kong is on rack and consists of: Tile Joker Joker Tile
    > Player holds two of the exposed tiles. Can they replace both Jokers in one play? Or can they replace only one at a time?
    > I presume they can but want verification.
    > Thank you.

    Hello, Rachel.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. To save myself having to constantly retype answers, I have compiled all my frequently given answers into a series of articles or FAQs ( "Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask newcomers to explore before writing to me. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19N. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2012


    Can the next player in turn pick up that redeemable tile?

    >From: "MomandMort
    >Sent: Thursday, September 6, 2012 8:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When you have an exposed kong on the wall of player A such as 3 red dragons and one joker and player B who plays just before player A has a red dragon and does not see the ability to exchange and discards the red dragon, I know the rest of the players can not call for that discarded red dragon to use it for an exchange but what about player A who is the next to play in turn ---can player A pick up the discard as normal and exchange it for her own joker in her own kong on her wall or is the discarded tile which was available for exchange dead to everyone?
    >Thank you,
    >Carole at momandmort

    Hi, Carole.
    The player to the right of the discarder does not get any special dispensation -- the rules that apply to everybody else also apply to her. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19G. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2012


    What's the correct spelling of the name of the game?

    >From: "bobbispecial
    >Sent: Thursday, September 6, 2012 6:58 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Should spelling be American Mah Jongg or Mah Jong?
    >Thanks so much for your reply.
    >Bobbi K
    >Cliffside Park, NJ

    Hi, Bobbi. It depends on who you ask - where in the world, or what author wrote your mah-jongg bible. Take a look at the first listing in the mah-jongg "Rosetta Stone," Frequently Asked Question 6. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2012


    Paying for the party (FAQ 19Y)

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 12:48 PM
    >Subject: MJ question
    >Hi,
    >When playing for money, you have to play double to the whole table if a player has three exposures and you give them the winning tile for the fourth exposure and the win. On the quints hand, 11111, 22222, 33333, would you have to pay double if two of the three quints were exposed?
    >Louise

    Louise, Randi P asked this question a few days ago (below). This is Frequently Asked Question 19Y. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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.
    For information about where to obtain the official NMJL rulebook, see FAQ 3. You should also read FAQ 14.
    Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 4, 2012


    New scholarly article on the development of the mah-jongg suit terms

    >From: Michael Stanwick
    >Sent: Monday, September 3, 2012 12:18 PM
    >Subject: New Article
    >Hello Tom. I have posted this update on the MJ News Group. My last article on MJ History has been published in The Playing-card, Volume 41, Number 1, July-September, 2012. The Journal can be obtained from the International Playing card Society website at;
    >
    http://www.i-p-c-s.org
    >I am also constructing a web site devoted to the MJ tile set - its history, attributes, tile patterns, types etc. This weill be complete hopefully by 2013.
    >Cheers
    >Michael

    That's wonderful, Michael. I look forward to reading those!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 4, 2012


    How to organize the hand in Western-style American mah-jongg

    >From: Roz
    >Sent: Monday, September 3, 2012 1:59 PM
    >Subject: western mah jongg
    >Hi- I am a player for about 6 months. I still have an issue with trying to choose a hand. And, of course, that slows the game down.
    >I set up my tiles by numbers, flowers, etc. That is how I was taught. But, I see others set up their tiles by suites.
    >What do you suggest so that I can be quicker at choosing a hand so that I can start the charleston?
    >Roz

    Hi, Roz.
    You say you're playing Western-style mah-jongg? Western-style (as played in countries of the former British Empire) is very different from American-style and most of the other Chinese-style variants, so the answer to this question depends very much on that particular piece of information. Which of the books do you use as your bible? The most well-known authors of Western-style are Strauser & Evans, Thompson & Maloney, Robertson, Whitney, Headley & Seeley (see FAQ 2b, part B). I certainly hope you have a book -- if you don't, you should get one (and it should be one that your group agrees is proper for the variant you are playing).

    You say you were taught to organize your tiles "by numbers, flowers, etc." But that... oh wait, I just noticed that you said you start with a Charleston? Then you play American-style mah-jongg, not Western-style after all. That makes a big difference in the answer! Since I spent the effort to write all the foregoing, I don't feel like just deleting it, but you don't have to read it. (^_^)

    If you take a look at my weekly strategy column, you can see how I organize my tiles -- flowers at the left, then by suit (numerically within each suit), then dragons and winds and jokers. Suits are extremely important, so you always need to separate the tiles by suit. Suit order (which suit at the left, which suit at the right) is not important at this stage.

    I recommend you read the weekly column, Roz. Just click the link (or the purple banner above). By the way, I have added this information to FAQ 8 (the Strategy FAQ), so this is now officially a Frequently-Asked Question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 3, 2012


    Today's column

    >From: Shelly M
    >Sent: Sunday, September 2, 2012 1:32 PM
    >Subject: September 2
    >the fifth hand could also be an elevens hand
    >Shelly

    Quite right, Shelly!
    A tip o' the hat to sharp-eyed you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 2, 2012


    Reverse-redeeming a joker (using a joker to obtain a natural)

    >From: Marianne J
    >Sent: Friday, August 31, 2012 10:16 AM
    >Subject: Hi...Question, if you have time.
    >Question (may be complicated):
    >Third hand down under "2012"
    >FFFF 2222 0000 12
    >My 2 2 2 J is on upper rack/exposed
    >I draw another Joker,
    >can I take back one of my '2' 's from the exposed rack, and replace the 2 with the Joker
    >then use that tile/#2 for the 1 2 portion for Mah Jongg?

    Hi, Marianne. Your question is not specific to the hand you cited. To save myself having to repeatedly retype the answers to frequently-asked questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask all guests to check before writing to me. You can scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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.

    You asked:

    can I take back one of my '2' 's from the exposed rack, and replace the 2 with the Joker
    See FAQ 19AL - "can I exchange a joker for a natural tile?"
    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.
    For information about where to obtain the official NMJL rulebook, see FAQ 3.
    Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 31, 2012


    Is It Ivory, part 2

    >From: Jonathan
    >Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2012 1:03 PM
    >Subject: RE: Ivory Tiles
    >Tom
    >Many thanks for your reply, and I will make a donation to the site for helping me. I have gone back and studied your answer and
    >1. Do you see Haversian system on any of your tiles? The answer is no
    >2. Do you see spooky pearlescent wavy grain (Schreger lines) on any of your tiles? The answer is no
    >3.Do you see a cross-hatch effect (not saw marked) on the ends of your tiles? The answer is no
    > All the edges are smooth the tops have lines running from end to end over their length. But, there are no flecks of dark colour like you see in bone at all, they are very uniform in colour. If I knew no better I would say they where a polymer but they dont melt. Perhaps I have found a new material unknown to man! well thats what it seems like to me.
    >Thanks for your time.
    >Regards,
    >Jonathan

    Hi Jonathan,
    A donation would be very kind, thank you. Since you answered "no" to #s 2 and 3, your tiles are not ivory. Since you also answered "no" to #1 (you don't see Haversian "dark colour flecks"), your tiles are probably either high-quality bone or pulverized reconstituted fishbone (as described in FAQ 7C). Most likely not a new material of extraterrestrial origin.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2012


    Is it ivory?

    >From: Jonathan
    >Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2012 5:20 AM
    >Subject: Ivory Tiles
    >Hi,
    >I wonder if you could help me. I have acquired a set of Mah Jongg tiles in a
    >slide top wooden box (which has been badly renonvated,) the tiles are either
    >bone or ivory dovetailed onto bamboo. I have checked for plastic (hot pin
    >made no imprint) there are no dark flecks to the surface, but they do have
    >lines and a crosshatching when caught at certain light angles. on another
    >tile the surface seems to be quite scratched but below the scratches the
    >texture is like very fine woodrain (this is viewed through a loup) The
    >carving is crisp and jagged chisel edges can be seen under magnification. I
    >am really interested to know if this is Ivory or bone, My eye says Ivory but
    >not knowing enough about it a nagging voice at the back of my head says
    >bone, however I know its not plastic because of the heat test. As an expert,
    >I would be very interested to hear your views on it.

    Hello, Jonathan. You mention using a hot pin, so you seem to have read FAQ 7c. (By the way, I do NOT recommend using a hot pin on your tiles! One of these days I really need to edit that FAQ - the only reason I've hesitated is that that article was written by the previous owner of the website, not by me, and if I'm editing someone else's words I have to use care.) Also, you allude to grain and crosshatching, but you did not use any of the technical words in my "Is It Ivory" FAQ (FAQ 7C2). You did not say specifically that you've identified Haversian system markings, or Schreger lines (pearlescent wavy grain). So I think you fell short in doing your homework. You read FAQ 7C, but you didn't do the 3-question checklist in FAQ 7C2.
    Do you see Haversian system on any of your tiles?
    Do you see spooky pearlescent wavy grain (Schreger lines) on any of your tiles?
    Do you see a cross-hatch effect (not saw marked) on the ends of your tiles?
    I don't see any of those things in your pictures, and your words (since you do not use any of the words from FAQ 7C2) do not convince me that you do, either. I see nothing in either your words or your pictures to make me think your tiles might be rare ivory.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2012


    Is paying for the table a table rule?

    >From: Randi P
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 9:42 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Hello Tom. At a recent game, a player had exposed all of her mahjongg with the exception of the two flowers that were needed for completion. She announced to the group that, if anyone discarded the tile that she needed, they would be required to pay her double the value of the hand and that in addition, that person would have to pay for the whole table. In other words, the errant discarder would be paying the double fee for all three of the players at the table. I suggested that this might be a "local" rule that was introduced by the group where she learned to play but that to my knowledge, it was not an official Mahjongg rule. Please clarify who is correct. Thanks, Randi

    Hi, Randi.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. To save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask all guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19Y. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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.
    For information about where to obtain the official NMJL rulebook, see FAQ 3.
    Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 29, 2012


    Please pass this question along to the ghosts

    >From: "khiori
    >Sent: Monday, August 27, 2012 12:39 PM
    >Subject: 3 player charleston
    >Tom,
    > Really like the 3 player Charleston idea where the group dealt a ghost hand and everyone pulled from it.
    >Is it possible to ask them 2 more questions?
    > 1 - does the passing person put their tiles into the spaces where they took tiles from?
    >(Assuming the tiles are lined up on the rack upside down.)
    > 2 - what happens to the ghost hand tiles when play begins? Is the hand left there or put into the wall?
    > Thanks for writing this column Tom!
    > Khiori

    Hi Khiori,
    I don't know if anyone who uses a ghost hand is going to see this and respond to it. When you make up your own rules, you have to figure out all the details. There is no "right" way to do it. See FAQ 14. Unless a medium can get a message through to the ghosts for 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.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 27, 2012


    What if everybody needs to blind pass?

    >From: "JoBrockette
    >Sent: Friday, August 24, 2012 1:35 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    > First, thanks so much for an informative website. I've learned so much from you. I have a question about something that came up today that I haven't been able to find on the website.
    > What do you when all four players want to blind pass one tile? We couldn't figure it out at the time, so we decided to just pass two tiles, even though we knew that couldn't be the correct answer. Now that I've had time to think about it, I think I may have figured it out.
    > Is it that East has to take a tile from the person to the left of her and pass it unseen along with two of her own tiles to the person to the right of her, followed by the person to the right of East doing the same, and so on until everyone completes the round?
    > Thank you in advance for your response.
    > Jo

    Hello Jo,
    As I told Jan L on June 27 ("2 Qs sent from my iPad," below), use the IOU paradigm. The situation you described is that every player has only two she can pass, and needs to blind pass one. The solution:
    One player starts the dominos falling by giving her two to her neighbor and saying, "I owe you one." The player she passed to can now blind pass one, giving three to her neighbor. When the fourth player gives three tiles (including one blind tile) to the first player, the first player can give the tile she owes to her neighbor. The IOU solved the blind pass impasse.
    This is now officially a Frequently Asked Question, but since the full explanation I gave Jan L on June 27 (below) is too lengthy and involved to fit nicely into my FAQ 19, I'm going to make it the topic of this week's column, with a hotlink on the column main page, for ease of future reference.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 24, 2012


    She had to leave for an appointment

    >From: irene z
    >Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:47 PM
    >Subject: lady who leaves a game abruptly
    >Hi Tom,
    >My question is: The other day while playing Mah Jong one lady decided she had to leave for an appointment. she was in the middle of the game and just got up and left. One of the players wanted to declare her dead. Was she right to want do do this? The other player wanted to claim one of her jokers on the rack of the person who left? What do you do in a situation like this. Personally I think the the lady who abruptly left never should have started the game.
    >What is your advice inthis situation
    >--
    >Irene Z

    Hi, Irene.
    Wow, that is bad form! I wonder if she's always inconsiderate of others, or if this was a one-time occurrence. You wrote:

    One of the players wanted to declare her dead. Was she right to want do do this?
    Right or wrong, the player was gone. What would be the point? You might as well declare the carpet dead, or the bag of potato chips. Call Abraham Lincoln dead, it doesn't change anything.

    The other player wanted to claim one of her jokers on the rack of the person who left?
    Sure, why not. Her hand hadn't gone dead through an error. She just up and walked out. Her jokers are alive.

    What do you do in a situation like this. Personally I think the the lady who abruptly left never should have started the game.
    Obviously! If you ever have to leave a game, etiquette (I'm talking people etiquette, not just mah-jongg etiquette) is to announce the fact in advance, and to do it apologetically. And, since a hand of mah-jongg usually lasts 15 minutes (sometimes 10, sometimes 20), when you have 20 minutes or less remaining until you have to leave, you do not start a new hand. It's not only good etiquette, it's plain old common sense.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 23, 2012


    Is there a massively interactive online Mah-Jongg game?

    >From: Melissa R
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 2:10 PM
    >Subject: Massive interactive or MahJongg download for beginner practice
    >Hi Tom,
    >I just finished MahJongg beginner books by Elaine Sandberg, and the classic Millington, "All about...". I've just moments ago read you introduction to "Red dragon, west wind" and realize that with your game making knowledge you should be able to recommend some answers to my question.
    >My question is, is there a MahJongg massively interactive online playing group? Is there truly a great downloadable true-to-some-style-not-just-tile-matching MahJongg that I can purchase? I'd rather make a fool of myself privately rather than get a rep for being an idiot, so a downloadable practice would be my first choice, and then later go massively interactive.
    >This Wednesday will be my fourth "instructional" session at a local community center wherein the group sometimes has its full complement of twelve ladies learning (kind of like a version of the twenty five days of Christmas song..."nine lords leaping...") but I'd like to accelerate my learning curve and play a little every day. Playing a solitaire version with my tiles alone is not adequate. It would be cool if I'm playing with three other computerized or virtual players.
    >What can you recommend?
    >Thank you for your expertise!
    >I see you are here in the LA basin but you are playing non American style at the Asian Pacific building. I'd be interested in that later once I can wrap my head around this game more proficiently!
    >Melissa V R
    >Los Alamitos, CA
    >Arma de instrucción masiva
    >Argentina-based Raul Lemesoff created the Arma De Instruccion Masiva (Weapon of Mass Instruction), a converted 1979 Ford Falcon formerly belonging to the Argentine armed forces, to distribute free books to people on the streets of Buenos Aires. AFP has uploaded an interesting news story video of Raul and his Arma De Instruccion Masiva.

    Hello Melissa. Welcome to my website. You wrote:

    I just finished MahJongg beginner books by Elaine Sandberg, and the classic Millington, "All about...". I've just moments ago read you introduction to "Red dragon, west wind"
    I think you're reading about too many variants, if you are just learning about mah-jongg. I did the same thing, mind you, but it got me very confused. Took me a while to realize there were multiple variants. And even when you know there are multiple variants, it can be challenging to keep them separate in one's mind, when just starting out.

    I never heard of a Millington book "All About [Mah-Jongg]" - I'm only aware of his "The Complete Book of Mah-Jongg." So you've now read about modern American-style mah-jongg, and Chinese Classical -- and if you read the rest of my book, Mahjong Competition Rules (and modern American mah-jongg). I recommend focusing on one until you're comfortable enough with that one to also play a second variant.

    is there a MahJongg massively interactive online playing group?
    The most people who can play mah-jongg online at a time is four. But there is a site that holds online tournaments, so I guess that fits what you're looking for. This is something that others have asked me many times before. To save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 5. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    Is there truly a great downloadable true-to-some-style-not-just-tile-matching MahJongg that I can purchase?
    Also listed in FAQ 5. And Appendix 3 in my book lists the top computer software, both online and downloadable (make sure to read the appendix before you spend money).

    you are playing non American style at the Asian Pacific building.
    The Pacific Asia Museum hasn't invited me to teach there in several years now, unfortunately. I sometimes attend local American tournaments. And I'll be teaching/demonstrating at the annual Ticket To The Twenties event at the Homestead Museum next month.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 21, 2012


    NMJL tile, part 3

    >From: "Puffins
    >Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2012 6:32 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom,
    >So far the NMJL knows nothing about the little tile (Member National Mah Jongg League) nor does the Maj Jongg Maven! I haven't given up yet though.
    >Thank you!
    >Donna


    What would Trump do?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2012 5:06 PM
    >Subject: Another What Would Tom Do?
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was playing at a round robin play day down at the beach with some former students and find myself with the following hand:
    >F F F F 8C8C8C8C 8B 8D R J J thinking I'll most likely play the Like Numbers until I pick a second R and wonder what Tom would do, keeping in mind some past advice.
    >I think gee I still need a pair of 8's and who knows, so maybe I should go for the quint and not get stuck for the pair. I decide to go for the gold and discard the 8s and then start picking in 8's and am kicking myself for going the wrong way. Well low and behold I pull in two more jokers picking my own Mah Jongg. In addition to getting paid doule from each player, I'm now the proud owner of the gift for the first player to make a quint, a picture frame that says: Quints, Quints, Quints, Quints, Quints!
    >I still would like to know what you would have done.
    >Best,
    >Donna

    Hi, Donna. The first thing I always do is compare the tile count of the possible target hands. Here's what you presented, in pictorial form:

    wonder what Tom would do, keeping in mind some past advice.
    Which past advice? Your Bastille Day question (le 14 July) was about a very different situation -- unequal tile counts. This time we're talking about equal tile counts -- and an iffy pair that makes Quints the better choice. Today's column (which at the moment is in outline form) is about "trumping circumstances." Deep strategy comes out of knowing when one principle trumps another. In your situation, I'd go for the gusto. Both your quints are just one away.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 19, 2012


    Can I redeem more than one joker in a turn?

    >From: Barbara S
    >Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2012 8:50 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: if you have two tiles and can collect two exposed jokers can you get both in one turn?

    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19N. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2012


    How much should I charge?

    >From: Michele F
    >Sent: Friday, August 17, 2012 8:02 AM
    >Subject: Going Rate for Mahjong Lessons
    >Hi Tom,
    >I've been a fan of yours for years – KUDOS for all the work you do!
    >I run a Mahjong meetup in Atlanta and I'd be honored if you'd stop by our meetup site at www.meetup.com/greateratlantamahjong. We have groups playing several styles of Mahjong in the greater Atlanta area just about every day of the week. We also offer lessons. This year we're focused on building membership so we are not charging for lessons but in the past, we charged $25 for a 4-hour class and usually includes 4-8 students.
    >I have an opportunity to teach on a larger scale and wondered what you've seen as the going rate for lessons of the National Mahjong League style. I was thinking $110 for 4 4-hour lessons including player card.
    >Kind regards,
    >Michele F

    Hi, Michele.
    I agree $25 per person is right. I ask for more if I have to drive more than 30 minutes.
    I find that 3 hours is a better length for a lesson, but if you're having good results with 4 hours, that's fine. Sometimes my students can't spend more than 2 hours. The lesson price is the same either way (I state that up front).
    I always recommend a minimum of 3 lessons. Most students want a 4th lesson, so I think you're right on there.
    I don't include a card. Some students buy their own card beforehand.
    Hope that helps. Good luck with your meetups!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 17, 2012


    Erroneous exposure

    >From: LAURA
    >Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Question:
    >A player exposes an incorrect hand - such as 3 Flowers and 1 Bam. The other players do not notice.
    >The incorrect hand player knows she is dead. The game continues with noone noticing the mistake. As the game
    >continues, the incorrect hand player draws the tile she needs for Mah Jongg - that is if she had exposed the correct 4 Flowers.
    >What happens?

    Hi, Laura. You asked:

    What happens?
    I can't tell you what would happen in that hypothetical situation -- you didn't tell me if the player is honest or dishonest.

    If she's dishonest, a number of things might happen, including but not necessarily limited to the following:
    She declares mah-jongg and nobody notices. She takes their dimes and quarters dishonestly.
    She declares mah-jongg and somebody notices, declaring her hand dead, and the game continues without her.
    She declares mah-jongg, somebody throws her hand in, then somebody notices the declarer's hand is invalid, and now two players are dead.
    She declares mah-jongg, two players throw their hand in, then the survivor notices the declarer's hand is invalid, and now the game is voided.

    If she's honest, she discards a tile. The game continues.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 16, 2012


    Shanghai surprise

    >From: Kevin D
    >Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2012 1:13 PM
    >Subject: Shanghai 2nd Dynasty
    >Hi Tom - I'm a Mah Jong fan of long standing and have 2 copies of the above to ensure I don't get caught out in case of accidents! - I've survived all of Microsoft's revamps up until Windows 7 - it installs OK but when you {try to} play all you get is the startup screen and then nothing - done all the compatibility settings to no avail - any ideas? or can you persuade Activision to pay you to do a Shanghai 3rd Dynasty? - that would be perfect - I wondered if the difference was the 64bit system - any solutions {apart from suicide} will be appreciated - thankyou for your time - Kevin D

    Kevin,
    I haven't worked at Activision for 12 years. I can't get Shanghai 2nd Dynasty to work on my computer, either - and I purchased the Windows 7 Professional upgrade (to no avail). Please don't ask me any more technical support questions. It's Activision's responsibility, not mine.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 16, 2012


    Surprise, it's Shanghai

    >From: Joyce S
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 10:35 PM
    >Subject: shanghai surprise, mah jongg computer game
    >Hi Tom,
    > Eve, my mah jongg teacher at the Long Beach JCC, gave us a paper with your website. In her paragraph about you she said that you made a computer game called Shanghai surprise. I would like to buy it to practice and get better at Mah Jongg. May I buy the game from you? Thanks, Joyce S

    Hi, Joyce.
    I'm afraid Eve got things wrong. I never made a computer game called "Shanghai Surprise." When I worked at Activision, I made several Shanghai games, including two that include American-style mah-jongg:

       

    But those games have been out of print for many years. They're impossible to find now, and they probably won't even work on your computer now, if you have a fairly new operating system.
    So forget about those Shanghai games. If you want a computer game, see FAQ 5. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    Please bookmark my site so you can find answers to questions about mah-jongg.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 16, 2012


    Actions speak louder than words

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 9:15 AM
    >Subject: MJ Question
    >I think I know the answer to this one, but would like clarification. I checked the rules and I didn't see this specific example.
    > A player discarded a tile. the next player in turn was contemplating calling it. She waited too long to call it and someone else did, and exposed her tiles. The first player claimed she should have the tile because she was next in line. We said no, she waited too long and lost out. She claimed it didn't matter since it was her turn. Who's right?
    > Louise

    Hi, Louise.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19H. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 15, 2012


    What might it be worth, part 2

    >From: Brenda
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 10:25 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong game set
    >Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate your response
    >Sincerely,
    >Brenda


    What might it be worth

    >From: Brenda V
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 11:03 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong game set
    >Hello my name is Brenda. I recently have been researching information about my Mahjong game set. After reading through your website I found really good information to help me learn more about my set. I was hoping you could please let me know what my set might be worth. The game pieces are made of bone and dovetailed bamboo. I have a total of 119 counting sticks, dots on sticks are 10, 5, 1 and 2. There are 4 dice, 148 tile pieces total, 8 are flower tile pieces, the dragon pieces are blank. I believe this is the Chinese version of the game. It comes with a wooden box. The front plate pulls upward, there are two drawers, the top for the counting sticks, bottom for tile pieces. The game pieces are in good condition. They are hand carved, they seem to be the simpler crak style characters. The box is missing the top hardware handle and has a crack through the board on the back of the box. I've attached 10 photos. I look forward to hearing from you!
    >Sincerely
    >Brenda

    Hello, Brenda.
    The bad: the 4 extra blanks are missing, you're missing some wind discs, the discs container and dice container are missing, there are no paper materials, you're missing some sticks. The tiles are in only "good" condition, the box condition is "fair" to "poor" (cracked and missing the handle). Some of the tiles are discolored.
    The good: the flower tiles are lettered instead of numbered. The tiles' paint is still colorful.
    So there's a lot of bad outweighing the good. A collector wanting those flower tiles might pay as much as $80 or $90 for this set.
    You may not use my name or refer to my site in your sales pitch when you offer your set for sale.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 15, 2012


    Knitted Tiles

    >From: Mary Lou S
    >Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 11:53 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am sorry if this is repeat question; I did look for the answer before writing this to you.
    >I was wondering if in the Chinese Official rules, in the two hands called Greater and Lesser Honors and Knitted Tiles, it is permissible in the knitted straight portion to have any of the knitted straight tiles, or do the missing tiles have to be the last ones in order? In other words can I have the honors tiles and then have 1-4-7, 2-8, 3-6-9 (thus missing the 5)?
    >Also, on a Knitted Straight hand, can the remaining regular set (such as a pung) be melded? I assume it can.
    >Thanks,
    >Mary Lou S

    Hello Mary Lou, you asked:

    do the missing tiles have to be the last ones in order?
    The missing knitted tile(s) can be any tile(s).

    on a Knitted Straight hand, can the remaining regular set (such as a pung) be melded?
    Yes.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2012


    Change of heart (FAQ 19AM)

    >From: Louise D
    >Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 9:52 AM
    >Subject: MJ Question
    > A player called for the 5 bam that was discarded. She picked it up and exposed her 5 bam and a joker on her rack. Then she realized she didn't have enough 5 bams (or jokers) to expose and changed her mind and put her tiles back in her rack. I said she couldn't do that, the experts I was playing with said she could. I thought once you expose, that's it, you can't change your mind. Who's right? (She won the game, by the way.)
    > Louise

    Hi, Louise.
    I wonder what subject your experts are expert in? Because they haven't been keeping current on the National Mah Jongg League rules. (Unless they were just saying "we play loose and easy with the rules here, honey, so back off.") If you buy your cards direct from the League, you get a bulletin every January. Those bulletins clarify fine points of the rules. And of course I take those clarifications and describe them in my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," and in my Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). You can link to the FAQs above left. The "oops, I changed my mind" rules are described in FAQ 19AM and column 499.
    Also read FAQ 14. If your group uses table rules they haven't told you about, ask'em to tell you their nonstandard table rules.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2012


    Help me with my set

    >From: Susan M
    >Sent: Monday, August 13, 2012 1:27 AM
    >Subject: Help with my mahjong set
    >Hi Tom -
    >Great site - so much information in one place!
    >I used to play mahjong with my family as a kid, so have always been fascinated by the candy-like tiles, the sounds they made and the lovely images. My dad served in Shanghai during WW2, and said he loved to hear the sounds of mahjong tiles when he walked through the streets in the evenings...
    >I picked my set up at a garage sale many years ago.
    >It has bakelite/phenolic two toned tiles, 'butterscotch' and a deep burgundy on the back. The pieces appear to be all from the same set - the backs are identical, and the butterscotch color appears pretty consistent with some very minor variation in the golden color. The painting is bright, there aren't any chips to the tiles, or the burgundy trays. I'm lazy - I haven't counted the little styrene coins - we never used them when we played...
    >144 tiles + 2 blanks
    >5 burgundy colored trays with metal attachments, no damage
    >8 flower tiles
    >Each tile measures 7/8" wide, 1 1/4" tall x 7/16" thick.
    >Plain 'P' tiles - no rectangle, just a P in the left corner
    >Two white dice and one red - not sure if they are original to the set.
    >No jokers.
    >The case is covered in a herringbone patterned fabric case, leather handle, burgundy quilted interior lid - the rest of the case is lined in a glossy leather textured fabric (reminds me of the cover of an old book). Some discoloration/stain to the outside, no tears or worn areas, some pitting to the locks, the leather handle is worn.
    >No instructional manuals or identification that I can see.
    >I've taken some pics, and have included them (it's night, so the images are lousy, sorry)
    > - About how old (from reading your FAQ, I'm confused...),
    > - Manufacturer,
    > - Ballpark on value
    >- Any other info that might be interesting or helpful.
    >I am trying to help my 16 year old son fix up his '67 cougar, so I am trying to sell this, so any little bit helps.
    >Thank you for sharing your knowledge,
    >Susan

    Hello, Susan. You asked:

    About how old
    I'm guessing maybe 1930s, early 1940s. See column 509.

    Manufacturer,
    Sorry, I'm not the expert on manufacturers. Go to FAQ 4a and scroll down to the bottom. Two museum links there that you'll want to follow (The Mahjong Museum, and CHarli's page)..

    value
    It would be a LOT more valuable if it had jokers. But it doesn't. Somebody is going to go ABSOLUTELY CRAZY trying to get jokers for that set. Because the set itself looks very nice. But it cannot be used to play modern American mah-jongg. Without jokers, I'm guessing a value around $100.

    Any other info
    You've put your One Bams in among the flowers, and put red dragons in the place of the One Bams. And read FAQ 7P and FAQ 7R.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2012


    NMJL tile, part 2

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2012 9:00 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom,
    >I thought you knew everything! Well, almost everything. I did find one photo of that tile online but it ended at a dead link. I will send a pic and write to NMJL.
    >Thank you!
    >Donna

    Let us know what you find out, Donna!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 12, 2012


    Blind pass: what's the big deal?

    >From: Cynthia W
    >Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2012 4:27 PM
    >Subject: Blind Pass
    >Why do I care if someone does a blind pass? Why is it even mentioned? Is there a rule that says one must look at and rack the tiles received during the Charleston? I am asking this because I played with a new group last week and a couple of the people made a big deal about "blind pass". Any insight you can giv me would be appreciated.
    > PS: love your candid answers on the website. :)

    Hi, Cynthia. You wrote:

    Why do I care if someone does a blind pass?
    Strategically, it gives you information. If you see that someone made a blind pass, you know that her hand has fewer than three junk tiles.

    Why is it even mentioned?
    I don't understand what you're asking. The rules mention the blind pass because if there was no mention of it, nobody would know of the rule.

    Is there a rule that says one must look at ... the tiles received during the Charleston?
    No. I've never seen a rule that says a player must look at the tiles she receives.

    Is there a rule that says one must ... rack the tiles received during the Charleston?
    What else would someone do with them? Are you one of those people who stands her tiles on her card? And are the other players some of those people who give grief to tile-stander-uppers?

    a couple of the people made a big deal about "blind pass".
    How weird is that! I mean, when somebody jumps up and dances a jig while throwing off layers of clothing and humming a tune on a kazoo, that's one thing. But to also bring in a marching band while she does it? Who expects that??

    (Translation: what do you mean they "made a big deal"?)

    PS: love your candid answers
    Cool. Hope you still do.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 12, 2012


    NMJL tile

    >From: "Puffins
    >Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2012 3:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hello,
    >Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I recently picked up this tile at a swap meet. I can only guess that it was included with your membership in NMJL. I'd just like to know any history about this tile.
    > Your website is fantastic!
    >Thank you,
    >Donna in CA

    Hello, Donna.
    I'm sorry, but I don't know anything about that tile. I've seen pictures before, but I don't know what years those were given to members. You'll have to ask the League (I recommend you do it by mail, not by phone).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 12, 2012


    Bone/bam eval req2

    >From: Sarah J
    >Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2012 1:24 PM
    >Subject: Bamboo Bone Set # 2
    >This is the second of 2 Mah Jongg games I recently received. Both came to me from the Minneapolis area, but I have no idea when they were purchased. I expect both were made in the 1920s and maybe in China.
    >This set is in good condition, some tiles show worn signs of loving use, but the set is certainly playable. The tiles are bone/bamboo ~ 7/16" x 7/8" x 1 1/4", and except for the dovetail bone portion the bone to bamboo ratio is just about equal.
    >There are 144 tiles ~ 8 flowers,all the winds and dragons but no jokers. There are 9 extra tiles; 1 blank, Bams 1 4, 2 5s, 1 9; Craks 1 6, 2 7s, 1 8.
    >200 counting sticks. 4 disks in a bone container with lid, each one with a wind direction, 1 in English and 1 in Chinese. 2 small dice - the 4 is in red and 1 is a blank indent. 2 brass tubes each 1 1/2" long.
    >The square container is a dark (rosewood?) stain with brass corner decorations. The 2 handles on top have button insets for handle rests. There are 5 drawers resting on shelves, drawer pulls are on a diagonal from top right to bottom left.
    >The box is in fair condition - the front sliding cover not perfect but it works. There is a decal at the top of the sliding cover reading "IF IT ISN'T MARKED MAH-JONGG IT ISN'T GENUINE. TRADE MARK REG. U.S.PAT OFF. Chinese characters on the door in green and a partial sticker on the back - Made in China. No books or pamphlets.
    >Again, any indication of the approximate value would be appreciated. Thank you, Sally J

    Hi, Sally.
    The bad: the tiles are even more beat-up looking in this set than in your other set. The wind discs are mismatched and in bad shape. The sticks count is weird - 200 seems like too many. Maybe you can even up the count in that other set. No paper (except the box label). Those tubes don't belong. The box isn't in very good condition. The 4 blanks are not present.
    The good: it's clearly a genuine Babcock set. Those extra tiles you mentioned (but didn't photograph) can be resold (they have separate value).
    It's worth about $50 or $60.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 12, 2012


    Bone/bam eval req1

    >From: Sarah J
    >Sent: Sunday, August 12, 2012 1:06 PM
    >Subject: Bamboo Bone Set # 1
    >This set is in good condition - no sign of heavy use or worn tiles, just slightly old.
    >The 144 tiles are bone/bamboo. 7/16" x 11/8" x 7/8". Bone 1/8" to bamboo 5/16". Flat tiles, not rounded bamboo side.
    >There are 8 flowers ~ 4 flag designs and 4 flowers, all with Chinese characters at the top of each tile. The N on the north wind tile is imprinted backwards - interesting. No jokers.
    >There are 113 counting sticks, 2 large dice loose and 4 small dice in a small wooded box. The 4s on those are in red and the 1s have a blank indent.
    >There are 4 bone wind disks in a bone container, with a lid. No English lettering. No racks or chips.
    >The container is a dovetailed wooden box, light in color, with brass corner decorations. Only 1 of the 2 handles remain. Each drawer has a Chinese character on the underside, at the front, all the same. See photo. The drawers rest on each other with no pulls, excepting the bottom one with 2 cut outs to hold on to.
    >No paper materials or other markings on the container. 2 Chinese characters etched into the paneled slide, painted green.
    >The backwards N, 5 Crak (1920s?), 1 Bam, winds, dragons and flowers are in the pictures of all tiles.
    >I feel I should compensate the person who sent this to me so any help in the approximate value of this set is appreciated, and thank you. Sally J

    Hi, Sally.
    The bad: the box looks faded and is missing one handle. One of the white dragons is a mismatch with the rest of the tiles, and many of the tiles are badly faded or have unattractive Haversian markings. The wind discs are badly faded. Sticks incomplete, no paper materials.
    The good: love those backwards Ns, and I like the flag flowers.
    You just want compensation value, you say. Give her $50 and the postage it cost her to send it to you, plus a dollar..
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 12, 2012


    Eval req, part 2

    >From: Idan p
    >Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2012 9:33 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg set evaluation
    >Thank you very much for this evaluation!
    >May the tiles be with you!


    Eval req

    >From: Idan Plonsky
    >Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2012 12:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg set evaluation
    >Hi,
    >My name is Idan Plonsky, and we have a Mah Jongg set that was bought from around 1975 and has never been used. It also looks as if it is made out of ivory.
    >I'm attaching some pictures.
    >Can you give some basic estimation for this set?
    >Best Regards,
    >Idan Plonsky

    It's worth about US$40. If you want to ask any follow-up questions, please read the FAQs first. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 11, 2012


    R mystery tiles, part 2

    >From: Katherine H
    >Sent: Friday, August 10, 2012 8:15 AM
    >Subject: Re: mystery tiles
    >Thank you Tom, I appreciate your time and knowledge.
    >Going to send you one more group of tiles.
    >Thank you,
    >Cat

    >From: Katherine H
    >Sent: Friday, August 10, 2012 8:19 AM
    >Subject: Mystery Flower Tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >Do you know the meaning of these tiles?
    >Thank you,
    >Cat

    Hi, Cat.
    You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 7E. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    And in case any readers may want to help you translate your tiles, I've cut and pasted the writing (it would be difficult to read in the resized pictures above):

    I further recommend you check out those books on Chinese lore and symbolism (listed in FAQ 7E) as excellent resources for researching your flower tiles' meaning.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 10, 2012


    R mystery tiles

    >From: Katherine H
    >Sent: Friday, August 10, 2012 5:57 AM
    >Subject: mystery tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >These four tiles were found stickered as jokers in a vintage Chinese Bakelite set. Wondering your thoughts regarding the meaning of the R. The tile tops are bone, the base made of ebony. Do you have knowledge of a complete set with similar tiles?
    >Thank you, Cat

    Hello Cat, you wrote:

    found stickered as jokers in a vintage Chinese Bakelite set.
    I wish I could remember what "Chinese Bakelite" is* - but I presume these tiles do not match the tiles in that set. And I should mention again that I do not know what "vintage" means, either (see column 502).

    Wondering your thoughts regarding the meaning of the R.
    That's a mystery, all right. As described in the Mystery Tiles FAQ, we usually see a B or P on white dragon tiles. And it doesn't make sense to label a blank (that would defeat the purpose of the blank). U stumped me, Cat!

    Do you have knowledge of a complete set with similar tiles?
    Nope, never saw one of those before.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 10, 2012

    *There's info on so-called "Chinese Bakelite" in FAQ 7C3.


    We use a made-up 3-player Charleston rule. How should our made-up rule work?

    >From: "HJG4U
    >Sent: Thursday, August 9, 2012 8:49 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When we have three players at the table and the fourth wall is set up we do the Charleston. We take from the fourth wall. Can we accept jokers from the fourth wall? Some say yes and others say no. What is your opinion?

    My opinion is that you should read FAQ 13A and FAQ 14. I have compiled a series of "Frequently Asked Questions", which I ask guests to check before writing to me, to save me from having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 9, 2012


    Lessons in Brooklyn?

    >From: Lois Abramchik
    >Sent: Thursday, August 9, 2012 11:26 AM
    >Subject: mah jong lessons in brooklyn
    >Hi
    >im interested in taking lessons to learn mah jong-do you give lessons or know of any lessons in brooklyn, ny?
    >thanks
    >lois abramchik
    >labramchikaol.com

    Hello, Lois.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    Your question has been posted on the Q&A board because you asked a question that needed an answer, and it's also been posted on the Find Players/Teachers board. Go to the Find Players/Teachers board (there's a link above left) and search the page for the keyword "Brooklyn," and also you should do the same on FAQ 4A (link above left). You should also read FAQ 15. Good luck 2 U.

    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 9, 2012


    Please explain Two Way Wait

    >From: Al & Julie H
    >Sent: Thursday, August 9, 2012 9:05 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Please explain Two Way Wait--a requirement for a Chicken Hand in Chinese mahjong. I understand it would apply to a wait for either end of a chow, but would it also apply if the winning tile was for a pung and both of the required tiles were still not exposed--in other words available? (ie. a win could result if either of the two tiles needed was discarded--therefore two ways to win) Also--would it still be considered a two way wait if, in the chow example, all the tiles needed for one of the ends was already exposed and therefore not available?
    >Thanks,
    >Julie

    Hi Julie, you wrote:

    I understand it would apply to a wait for either end of a chow, but would it also apply if the winning tile was for a pung and both of the required tiles were still not exposed--in other words available?
    No.

    If you're waiting to complete a pung, then actually you have two possible pungs, not just one. That is to say, when waiting to complete a pung, you're holding two pairs, and either one could become a pung.

    Of course, with the above example, if you make the dragon pung, your hand will not be a chicken hand. But your intentions are not taken into consideration as regards to what the wait is.

    would it still be considered a two way wait if, in the chow example, all the tiles needed for one of the ends was already exposed and therefore not available?
    Yes. The matter of what tiles are available is not taken into consideration as regards to what the wait is.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 9, 2012


    That mysterious joker tile design

    >From: mntiger verizon account
    >Sent: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 4:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Good evening,
    >I am a beginner at the game of Mah-Jong and I am also a very curious person. So far no one I know who plays Mah-Jong has been able to answer this question. What is the symbol on the joker? One individual I have been playing with says it is a dragon and that doesn't really make any sense to me. I understand that the Chinese do not use jokers so I am wondering what the American background is on this tile.
    >Thank you for your help. Have a lovely evening!
    >Joyce F

    Hi Joyce!
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 7E ("Mystery Tiles"). Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 7, 2012


    Column 531

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Sunday, August 5, 2012 8:28 PM
    >Subject: re column # 531
    >Regarding your statement "I often, um... intentionally... 'miss' something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it!"
    > I would like to offer this observation:
    > I believe #4 example could also be Consec. #3 which would make 2' & 3's of either craks or bams 'hot'.
    > Would this be correct?
    > Thank you,
    >Mary E

    You are indeed correct, Mary! That's one o' those, um... intentional thingies, and you spotted it! I'll go make a note of that in the column now...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2012


    About your book

    >From: Phil W
    >Sent: Sunday, August 5, 2012 5:10 PM
    >Subject: About your book
    >Hi Tom,
    >I just got the Kindle version of your wonderful book, The Red Dragon &
    >The West Wind. The only things I was disappointed about are that there
    >is no color and the cover is just a simple drawing, not the nice
    >graphic as on your printed book. (I'm using Kindle app on iPad, maybe
    >that's why.)
    >
    >I also have an ebook of Jelte Rep's The Great Mah Jong Book. I noticed
    >that his introductory chapter has a lot of the same stuff your book
    >does. Did both he and you use a lot of the same source material?
    >
    >The only suggestion I have is that, for your next edition, please add
    >an appendix on Chinese classical scoring and gameplay. If you did
    >that, I'd buy a printed version of your book as well (and hopefully,
    >get it autographed by you!).
    >
    >Also, I have found your website very helpful. Some friends and I are
    >playing classical Chinese rules Mahjong, and your simplified game and
    >links to more information have been invaluable. We're really enjoying
    >our weekly game now.
    >
    >I am also a Go player, so puzzling things out is not that difficult
    >for me. So when I was trying to teach myself the game, I could not
    >find much on the web about the American hands. It would have been
    >great if there had been a freely downloadable example set for me to
    >look at. I ended up ordering the AMJA 2012 card, it was cheap. But
    >that gave me a great idea:
    >
    >Why not create three or four dozen NMJL-compatible freely downloadable
    >introductory Mah-Jongg hands that people can learn the game with? That
    >would not hurt NMJL or AMJA, and might even help promote the game. I
    >thought of doing it myself, but I'm still a newbie and the ones I come
    >up with might not be very good. I bet readers of your column would
    >love to contribute hands to it, including score values.
    >
    >By the way, I'm starting to write a JavaScript that will do scoring
    >for my friends and me at our games. I'll eventually expand it to
    >include the WMO scoring system. Of course, I can't include the AMJA or
    >NMJL standard hands because they're copyrighted, but freely
    >downloadable ones I could. I'd write in Java or as an app, but I want
    >it to run on iPad and I don't want to have to get a Mac just to write
    >an app (Linux is my preferred OS).
    >Respectfully Yours,
    >Phil W
    >Urbana, Illinois
    >--
    >"Corporations are NOT people!" --me

    Hello, Phil. It's great to hear from a reader of my book! To reply to your paragraphs in order:

    It's too bad that the ebook version you have isn't more colorful. The print book only has a few color pages, and they're all bunched together. The ebook versions are made with zero involvement from me -- I don't even know what versions are out there. And I have no desire to buy one for my Blackberry. But of course if I could autograph your copy, I would.

    I don't follow your point about source material for the introductory chapter of my book and of Jelte Rep's book. I just looked at his book, and I don't see a similarity. If you want to know about source material of something in my book, I'd be happy to test my memory.

    I think Chinese Classical has been written about more than any other form, and is played by fewer people today than any other form. I wouldn't enjoy all the adding and doubling I would have to do in scoring that game, and I think the wild variations in score that are possible in that game explain why there were huge fights about the scoring of CC back in the 1920s. I don't think Collins is likely to want me to make a second edition, but if they did want to, would they also want to add more material? I don't know.

    Good. I'm glad.

    The NMJL card is the same price as the AMJA card. Pretty much everybody who plays American-style uses the NMJL card, so I don't understand why one wouldn't just get the NMJL card.

    You mean, in essence, make my own card. I don't really see a reason to do that. But I love the enthusiasm behind your idea!

    I don't see why you couldn't just issue an update every year. Your app shouldn't present the yearly card in a form that violates copyright, but it could incorporate the knowledge (in code) of what's on the card, just for the purposes of calculating score. If you photocopy the card or transpose it into a form that a player could use for playing the game, that would violate the copyright. I don't see an insurmountable problem.

    Aw, shucks. I was hoping to get married to one (no pre-nup, thank you very much).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2012


    It was the wrong tile

    >From: Connie H
    >Sent: Sunday, August 5, 2012 5:38 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player took a joker from another players exposed tiles but it was the wrong tile. It was not discovered immediately, who gets penalized the player who made the exchange,the player with now a dead hand or both? Thank you

    Hello, Connie.
    I assume that when you say "but it was the wrong tile," you mean that the player replaced the joker (she didn't take a non-joker) with a tile that did not match the other tiles in the exposure. And this reply is based on that assumption.
    I'm not the only one making assumptions here; you, too, made an assumption. You assumed that only two players were in consideration for being penalized. But in fact, we have four players who should be penalized, because not a single one of them was paying attention to the game!
    In my opinion, when this kind of error goes unnoticed until it's too late to fix it, the game should be voided and redealt. See philosophy 5d in FAQ 9. The FAQ links are above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2012


    Looking for a distributor

    >From: Automatic mahjong table manufacturer
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 1:29 AM
    >Subject: Fw Japanese automatic mahjong table
    >Daer Tom,
    >We are Japanese automatic mahjong table manufacturer in China since 1994-http://www.aotomo.com
    >We looking for a distributor in CA USA now.
    >Thank you for your help.
    > Please contact with us at 001@chinamj.com.cn if you interested in.
    >Best Regards,
    >Hangzhou Zhaofeng Entertainment Products Factory
    >No.42 Jianding Road,Hangzhou city, Zhejiang province P.R of China 310021
    >Tel:+86 571 8504 0367
    >Fax:+86 571 8504 1685
    >Http://www.aotomo.com
    >Contact:Frank Du


    I'll have that joker, part 2

    >From: Carol N
    >Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2012 10:38 AM
    >Subject: RE: NMJL Question
    >You referenced rule 3(b) stated in the rulebook on page 16 ........ Exactly which book is that? I haved RDWW and would like to purchase other exact one you referenced.
    > Thanks
    >Carol N

    Hi, Carol.
    I'm delighted that you have The Red Dragon & The West Wind. I agree that you ought to also have the official NMJL rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy" (I've been saying for years that every table should have a copy). You can find complete information about that book in FAQ 3.
    I assume you've already looked at FAQ 19P, and that you already know that the dead player redemption rule is stated in RDWW (rules 87 and 106, and pages 91 and 101-103).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2012


    I'll have that joker... by the way, you're dead

    >From: Carol N
    >Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2012 3:59 AM
    >Subject: NMJL Question
    >I have a feeling that this is an ethical question....
    >Playing the 2012 card... a person puts up WJW. There is only one hand with 3 Wests and it is concealed. The next person first redeems the joker and then calls the hand dead....
    >Legal?
    >Thanks
    >Carol N

    Hi, Carol. You wrote:

    [Player B] first redeems the joker and then calls the hand dead.... Legal?
    I wonder (since you did not say) if you know rule 3(b) stated in the rulebook on page 16 (FAQ 19P, here on my site). Even more interesting question: I wonder if player B knows that rule.

    Player A (the player with the W pung) is dead, because the W pung is an illegal exposure.
    Illegal exposures are supposed to be returned to the sloping front of the rack, so as to remove any jokers from the possibility of redemption.

    Knowing this, then, would it be legal to do player B's actions in reverse order? That is to say, could she first declare player A dead, and then redeem the joker? -No.
    If she can't do them in reverse order, can she do them in the order she did? -No.
    Either she didn't know the joker could not be redeemed, or she thought she was taking advantage of a loophole.

    What loophole? Well, maybe the wording of the rule, or the way she heard the rule, indicates that once the death declaration has been made, the joker is dead, and the wording of the rule might be interpreted (wrongly) as meaning that it's live up until the time the death declaration has been made.

    Since the exposure was illegal, the joker was dead. It could not be redeemed, especially by a player who clearly knew the exposure was illegal. If someone wanted to game the system and have that joker, the wise system-gamer would refrain from calling player A dead. Eat one's cake but not have it too. But that would be crumby (said Tom, frostily).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2012


    What if there's no parenthetical?

    >From: Linda R
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 2:21 PM
    >Subject: Question about 2012 Scorecard
    >2468
    >#3
    >Since it does not say (Kong8s) in parenthesis, does that mean I can use either a 2, 4, or 6 for the Kong.
    >Singles and Pairs
    >#5
    >Since it does not indicate (These Nos. only) in parenthesis, can I use any numbers in the same sequence of pairs and singles?
    >Thank you for any clarification….

    Hello, Linda. You asked:

    2468
    >#3
    >Since it does not say (Kong8s) in parenthesis, does that mean I can use either a 2, 4, or 6 for the Kong.
    You're only asking about the kong of 8s, Linda. There are two kongs in that hand, not only one: (FF 2222 44 66 8888). Why are you not also asking about the kong of 2s? That was rhetorical. I believe you will find your answer in Frequently Asked Question 19AJ. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Also please scroll down and read
    What if the parenthetical does not say "these numbers only"?
    >From: Linda J
    >Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 8:43 AM

    since she asked a very similar question not long ago.

    Singles and Pairs
    >#5
    >Since it does not indicate (These Nos. only) in parenthesis, can I use any numbers in the same sequence of pairs and singles?
    This, too, is FAQ 19AJ, Linda. 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2012


    What would Tom do this time?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 1:00 PM
    >Subject: WWTD continued
    >Hi Tom,
    >I appreciate you answering my question and then using it in your July 15 column, hand two. Wondering why you would discard a joker rather than a
    >9C? I feel that when a joker is thrown it is likely that a flower is needed (of course not always) and that gives the opponents more info.
    >Here's another real life scenario for you:
    >FF 4D4D 3C4C4C5C 4B4B JJJJ. Twelve tiles for like numbers and 12 tiles for quint #2. Given my previous red herring with Jokers you've probably guessed that I went for the quint hand. Called a 4B and exposed my two jokes and two 4B and was waiting for the other 4D which never was thrown by another player who wisely held it.
    >At the time of my decision, there were 2 4C out on the table and another player had three 2D exposed (although it ended up she only had one 4D). In retrospect the two dots were info. that 4 dots were needed or lurking and perhaps the like numbers was the way to go?
    >Thanks,
    >Donna a.k.a quintessential

    in your July 15 column, hand two [the hand I wrote you about on le 14 Juillet, 2012, in "What would Tom do?" below, I am w]ondering why you would discard a joker rather than a 9C[.] I feel that when a joker is thrown it is likely that a flower is needed (of course not always) and that gives the opponents more info.

    Yes. You are citing a well-known strategic principle. But! Here are two more very important strategic principles for you:
    - Sometimes a strategic principle has to give way to another strategic principle. In other words, some strategic principles trump other strategic principles.
    - When mah-jongg is within easy reach, you should reach for it.

    Putting those two principles together with the one you cited, I weighed the disadvantage of showing alert players that I am near to winning with the advantage of being nearer to winning! This is very basic and quintessential stuff! If you know another way I can instantly go one-away from mah-jongg, let's hear about it.

    Here's another real life scenario for you:
    >FF 4D4D 3C4C4C5C 4B4B JJJJ. Twelve tiles for like numbers and 12 tiles for quint #2. Given my previous red herring with Jokers you've probably guessed that I went for the quint hand. Called a 4B and exposed my two jokes and two 4B and was waiting for the other 4D which never was thrown by another player who wisely held it.
    >At the time of my decision, there were 2 4C out on the table and another player had three 2D exposed (although it ended up she only had one 4D). In retrospect the two dots were info. that 4 dots were needed or lurking and perhaps the like numbers was the way to go?

    I don't see how the other player's 2D pung factored into your thinking. The two 4Cs on the table just means "call 4D and 4B." With four jokers, it makes a lot of sense to go for the quints hand. But the Like Numbers hand is more likely to get you to mah-jongg, even so. It's a tough call!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2012


    A tile was misnamed -- what now?

    >From: Billie E
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 7:16 AM
    >Subject: Miscalling a tile
    >Hi, Tom,
    >I'm confused about how to interpret what you've said: "A discarded tile is "down" when it touches the table OR is completely named, whichever occurs first."
    >
    >Scenario: Player announces 7C as her discard and then places 3C on the table....almost at the same time. Two things could have motivated the error:
    > a. She meant to place the 3C, but simply called it wrong
    > b. She meant to place the 7C, which is what she called, but placed a 3C on the table.
    >
    >1. What if other player heard "7C" and without looking at tile, announces, "Call," revealing that 7C is something she needs. When she sees that it's 3C (which she doesn't need), her chances of a win are now impaired because everyone knows what she needs. Is there no penalty to the miscaller? If not, why not?
    >
    >2.If you announce first (a split second before the tile is on the table), do you have to correctly put down what you announced (in effect, taking the other tile off the table and putting it back in your hand because you announced it before you placed it)?
    >
    >3. What is the correct action ....does the discarder take back her 3C and replace it with the 7C?
    >Thanks,
    >Billie
    >PS Please refresh my memory about where I go to see the answer you'll post.

    Hi, Billie. You asked:

    Scenario: Player announces 7C as her discard and then places 3C on the table....almost at the same time.
    I fail to see how it's important to determine which thing happened first. That discard is down (meaning that she cannot take it back), regardless of which thing happened first (that's what FAQ 19A says). And it's down regardless what tile's name she said.

    Two things could have motivated the error:
    It doesn't matter which of those two things was behind the error. How could that matter? How does my statement of the rule make such a distinction important?

    What if other player heard "7C" and without looking at tile, announces, "Call," revealing that 7C is something she needs.
    Read Frequently Asked Question 19AY.

    Is there no penalty to the miscaller?
    That, too, is answered in FAQ 19AY.

    If not, why not?
    I cannot definitively explain the reason for why any of the League's rules are as they are. Only the League can do that. But before you phone them, read FAQ 19BN.

    If you announce first (a split second before the tile is on the table), do you have to correctly put down what you announced (in effect, taking the other tile off the table and putting it back in your hand because you announced it before you placed it)?
    I assume you're saying that during that split second, the discarder realized her mistake and stopped herself before touching the tile to the table. Read FAQ 19A again -- the very sentence you were asking about in the beginning of your email: "A discarded tile is 'down' when it touches the table OR is completely named, whichever occurs first." Now read FAQ 19B: "When a tile is 'down,' it is too late for the discarder to take it back." You should probably read FAQ 19AM and column 472, too. If you're still confused, you can write me again. Please bookmark this page (and FAQ 19) so you can easily find your way back.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2012


    Oopsie

    >From: Pat S
    >Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 1:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >My Mah Jongg question is:
    >I recently was in a game where one of the players said she had Mah Jongg and started to expose her hand. She then realized she did not have Mah Jongg. Is her hand dead?
    >--
    >Pat

    Hi, Pat.
    In mah-jongg, "actions speak louder than words." Exposing the hand in error kills it. Especially when this happens in a tournament. See Frequently Asked Question 19.AM.2. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 30, 2012


    Who were Gertie and Greta, and how did their garter and garden (respectively) become household names?

    >From: "pennyjs...au
    >Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2012 2:04 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How did some of the names of the games originate --- particularly Gertie's Garter, and Greta's Dragon/Garden.
    >Thank you for such an interesting site about such a great game.
    >Penny

    I have no idea, Penny. Western/British Empire/Australian mah-jongg grew organically in thousands of homes in English-speaking countries, with no central organizing body and no written history. So not only do I not know the answer to your question, I wouldn't even know who to ask or how to try to research that variant's origins. I wouldn't know whether to begin in England, Canada, or your country, Australia... I suspect I'd have to ask women, if that helps.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 29, 2012


    I want big Chinese tiles, but with Western indices

    From: Ben Jamin
    Sent: Saturday, July 28, 2012 9:52 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I would like to acquire a set of mahjong tiles to play Chinese style (MCR). I know I can use the standard American set that we have, but I would like the larger "table stable" tiles that I can play in the traditional Chinese manner (ie: standing tiles up / no racks.) However, I would like to find a set that has the English index in the corner, since I don't read Chinese. I mean I could definitely learn to play without them, but I would like to introduce that game to some friends who would probably be turned off by such a situation. I've looked and looked online, but have come up blank. Do you have any suggestions for me?
    Thanks for your great site. As a Mahj young-blood, your site has been a boon to my learning the game. Loved your book "The Red Dragon & The West Wind". Very concise and thorough. I'm itching to play MCR.
    Regards,
    Ben N

    Hello Ben,
    Those tiles are very easy to find. If you have only been looking at the websites listed in my FAQ 4A and 7K, and in the appendix of my book, and not contacting the sites' owners by email or phone, all I can say is, why not? I'm certain many of those vendors carry those tiles.
    May the tiles be with you, literally.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 28, 2012


    Is there a penalty for throwing the winning tile?

    From: Meryl K
    Sent: Saturday, July 28, 2012 6:43 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Throwing into 3 exposures.
    Are there penalties for throwing into 2 or 3 exposures? Some say that the person who throws into such exposures pays for the whole table. True?
    Meryl K
    West Palm Beach, FL

    Hello, Meryl.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19Y. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 28, 2012


    Frequently Asked Question 19AO

    >From: "mendes,
    >Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 4:26 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >On the 2012 card I have questions on these combinations:
    >22 444 44 666 8888 (Any 3 Suits, Kong 8s)
    >33 666 33 666 9999 (Any 3 Suits, Kong 9s)
    >Can I use jokers in the kong or does it mean all/only 8s or 9s?
    >Judy

    Hello Judy,
    You've asked Frequently Asked Question 19AO. In past years, the League has included the word "only" in that sort of hand. This year I see they left out the "only" (probably because they were asked this question too many times). Please scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2012


    What if the parenthetical does not say "these numbers only"?

    >From: Linda J
    >Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 8:43 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A question came up during play this past week. It involves the following hand on the 2012 NMJL card.
    >336 33669 336699
    >The question was whether only these numbers are required to complete this hand, or alternatively, whether any three numbers separated by three digits can be used. For example, can the tiles:
    >225 22558 225588
    >be used to complete this particular hand for mahjong?
    >Nothing in the parenthesis indicates that these three specific numbers (3s, 6s, and 9s) must be used to complete this hand. Furthermore, in the next hand involving 9s, 8s, and 7s, it specifically states "These Nos. Only," thus further suggesting that in the hand in question, other variations of this hand (which would also include 114 11447 114477) can be used. To further support the claim that any three numbers separated by three digits, it was suggested that if it was intended to be a hand only involving 3s, 6s, and 9s, that it could have been listed under the listing of 369 hands (although to our knowledge hands involving only singles and pairs are never listed under any other category).
    >As a counter argument to the claim, it was mentioned that perhaps the reason for the parenthetic instructions, "These Nos. Only," was because a similar hand appeared on a recent year's NMJL card where any numbers of this type of sequence could be used.
    >Can you help answer our question, or provide us with an e-mail address where we can address this issue? I tried to find an e-mail address to contact the NMJL directly, but it appears that they only answer questions by mail. We were hoping for a quicker response, and appreciate any guidance that you can provide.
    > Thank you in advance for your assistance with this question.
    > Linda

    Hello Linda, you wrote:

    The question was whether only these numbers are required to complete this hand
    It should be obvious that, since 3s and 6s and 9s were used, not more-random-seeming numbers, that the League's intent is that 3s, 6s, and 9s must be used. For more reading on this question, see Frequently Asked Questions 19AJ & AK. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    in the next hand involving 9s, 8s, and 7s, it specifically states "These Nos. Only," thus further suggesting that in the hand in question, other variations of this hand (which would also include 114 11447 114477) can be used. To further support the claim that any three numbers separated by three digits, it was suggested that if it was intended to be a hand only involving 3s, 6s, and 9s, that it could have been listed under the listing of 369 hands
    I understand that it is in the nature of human beings to seek patterns in every complex system in order to make sense of it, in order to predict how the system will work in further situations. But just about every complex system incorporates nested complications, exceptions, and trumping principles, and those are often subject to misinterpretation by observers.
    If you yourself were trying to devise the NMJL's rules and then later be the recipient of player questions, I think you would eventually come to appreciate the difficulty of the challenge.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is, as interesting as your group's speculations are, you're overthinking it.

    (although to our knowledge hands involving only singles and pairs are never listed under any other category).
    That matches with my observations.

    perhaps the reason for the parenthetic instructions, "These Nos. Only," was because a similar hand appeared on a recent year's NMJL card where any numbers of this type of sequence could be used.
    Or perhaps it's because the League received a lot of questions in previous years when they used this particular hand.

    provide us with an e-mail address where we can address this issue? I tried to find an e-mail address to contact the NMJL directly, but it appears that they only answer questions by mail.
    You think the League is crazy enough to deal with all the emailed questions they would get? Pfft! Who'd be that crazy?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2012


    When can I blind pass?

    >From: irene z
    >Sent: Monday, July 23, 2012 2:08 PM
    >Subject: blind passing
    >Tom,
    >I understand the concept of blind passing. My question is - can a person blind pass on the right pass and left pass during Charleston number 1? I understand that you cannot blind pass while passing tiles to the opposite person. Are blind passes limited, or can you blind pass both on a right pass and a left pass during charleston # 1.
    >Thanks,
    >Irene

    Hi, Irene.
    The first Charleston consists of the "first right," the "first across," and the "first left." (Just in case you'd never heard those terms before, or didn't know what they referred to; I mention it because those are the terms the FAQ uses.) Please read FAQ 19AG for a complete explanation of the Charleston, blind passing, and stopping the Charleston. I think you know where the FAQs are.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 23, 2012


    Where can I sell my set, part 2
    >From: Lillian Cox
    >Sent: Monday, July 23, 2012 7:34 AM
    >Subject: Re: Bakelite Mahjongg Game
    >?Thank you, Tom.


    Where can I sell my set?

    >From: Lillian Cox
    >Email: lilliancoxroadrunner.com
    >Sent: Monday, July 23, 2012 6:41 AM
    >Subject: Bakelite Mahjongg Game
    >Do you know where/how I could sell a vintage 152-piece Bakelite MahJonng set? I live in San Diego, and bought it 10 years ago from a seller in New York City on eBay. Haven't played in many years and want to recoup my money. Thank you.

    Hello Lillian,
    I think the most reliable place to sell it is eBay, but you obviously know about eBay and are looking for something else. I'm posting this on my Sets For Sale bulletin board. Maybe someone will see it and contact you. But my recommendation is eBay. And you should read Frequently Asked Question 7N, "Tips For Sellers." Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 23, 2012


    Why is tournament scoring different, part 2

    >From: Belinda G
    >Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2012 1:22 PM
    >Subject: Column July 22
    >Shouldn't #3 hot tiles be Flowers, 2D & 5D not craks?
    >Thanks for your opinion on the tournament scoring. Your opinion is exactly what I thought was the reason and it makes sense.
    >Someday I want to go to a major tournament, it sounds like so much fun!
    >Belinda

    Right you are, Belinda. Dots, not craks. You passed the test! :p
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 22, 2012


    FAQ 19AB: Called me dead but I'm not.

    >From: Norman R
    >Sent: Saturday, July 21, 2012 5:28 PM
    >Subject: mahjongg
    >Tom Sloper
    >Please clarify the following .
    >When a player is called dead & claims she is not,please explain the penalty to all other playerswhen she is proven correctly dead at the end of the hand.
    >What is her penalty if a wall game or as a winner?
    > Thanks for your help.
    >Norm R

    Hi, Norm.
    The "called me dead but I'm not" rule is explained in FAQ 19AB. Based on the way you worded your question, I can only assume you have not read it yet. Please scroll up and look on the left, to find the link to FAQ #19 ("Frequently Asked Questions" -- it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ). After you have read FAQ 19AB, if the rule is still unclear, please help me by telling me which part of the FAQ isn't clear, so I can make it clearer, not only for you but also for subsequent askers. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 21, 2012


    What is this set, part 2

    >From: Stacey P W
    >Sent: Saturday, July 21, 2012 12:32 PM
    >Subject: Re: What is this set?
    >Dear Tom,
    >Thanks for your quick response. So, now that I know to be specific, my questions are: Do you know what company made this set and when? Also, can you tell me about the meaning of the flowers and what kind of bird is the 1 Bam? This set also came with 4 blank tiles, so I will use 4 of the flowers and those blanks to make up the 8 jokers. But what do the pictures on the flowers represent? I searched the website, but couldn't find answers. Thank you so much for your help. As always, you are quick to respond and very informative.
    >Stacey

    Hello Stacey, you asked:

    Do you know what company made this set
    No.

    and when?
    My guess (it's only a guess) is the early 1940s. See column 509.
    On second thought, I notice that there are four unique #1 flowers and four unique #4 flowers, which means that the set originally came with 16 flowers, not 12. Which means the set could be from the late 1940s.

    can you tell me about the meaning of the flowers
    No.

    what do the pictures on the flowers represent?
    I don't know.

    I searched the website, but couldn't find answers.
    I asked you to look at FAQ 7E. If a flower tile design is not shown and described there, then I don't know what it is. I don't withhold information from my FAQs, and I can't read Chinese. If I could make a living out of trying to decipher the myriads of different flower tile designs, then maybe I could go farther into it. But as it stands, there are so many different flower designs (every craftsman or manufacturer is free to go wild with them) that I find it a pointless (and unprofitable) exercise.
    Also, you have them shown out of order in your photo. Each set of four flowers (which makes a sentence or stanza in Chinese) would have the same-color Arabic numerals on each flower, and the same-color Chinese characters. So if a flower has a red Arabic numeral and a green Chinese character, look for other numbers in the same color scheme -- those four go together.

    and what kind of bird is the 1 Bam?
    I don't know. My guess is maybe a peahen, or an immature peacock. You could go to the library, flip through an Audubon book, see if you can figure it out. I really can't tell.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 21, 2012


    What is this set?

    >From: Stacey P W
    >Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 2:58 PM
    >Subject: What is this set?
    >Is this the right place to ask that question? I just received this set from a friend who was helping another friend clean out her mom's apartment (in Brooklyn, NY.) He knows I play Mah Jongg, so I was the recipient of it. The tiles are pure white with a layer of clear lucite (I presume) and a green back. I think the 1 Bams are quite unusual, though probably not for this set. But, just what IS this set? The long sides of the box are green with white around the edges - no photo, sorry. The brown, leather handle on the box has a buckle. What can you tell me, if anything, about it?
    >Thanks so much,
    >Stacey
    >--
    >I could give up chocolate, but I'm no quitter!
    > ^ ^
    > (=^_^=)
    >:::::::S:t:a:c:e:y::P::W


    Hello Stacey, you asked:

    what IS this set?
    It's a 3-layer set with American-style dragons and 12 instead of 8 flowers. Read FAQ 7E. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    What can you tell me, if anything, about it?
    I might be able to tell you something more, if you ask me a specific question. Read FAQ 7P. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 20, 2012


    Why is tournament scoring different, why no doubling?

    >From: Belinda G
    >Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 1:32 PM
    >Subject: Tournament question - need help
    >Tom:
    >I am sponsoring a mah jong tournament at a local restaurant as a fund raiser for our local food pantry.
    >I have read, and reread your website regarding tournaments and I am all set, but have a question on scoring.
    >Why are the tournament rules for scoring different than the regular scoring rules for NMJL?
    >Most tournaments that I have googled use the following scoring rules:
    >Winner of the hand gets face value on the card, plus ten points for picking own MJ, plus 20 points for a jokerless hand (except S&P)
    >Ten points to each player for wall games, exception - dead hands receive no points
    >Player throwing a tile for MJ, received minus 10 points if there was one or no exposure, minus 20 points if there wete 2 exposures or minus 25 points if there were 3 or more exposures.
    >NMJL rules double the face value for picking own MJ and doubles it for jokerless
    >Throwing player pays double the final value of the MJ, including the doubles, if any.
    >Why is there a difference in the scoring? I am holding our tournament on Monday 7/23.
    >Thank you for any input you may have.
    >Belinda

    Hi, Belinda.
    I really couldn't say why -- I was not involved in the decision-making process, and I have never played in a tournament where the same scoring is used as that on the back of the card (double for self-pick, double for jokerless, etc.).
    But let's try a thought experiment for a moment.

    Scenario A - home scoring used at tournament. Player A wins with a 25-point hand by discard (on any number of exposures), during the course of which one player's hand went dead.
    - Player A's score is marked down as 100.
    - Player B's score is marked down as -50.
    - Player C's score is marked down as -25.
    - Player D's score is marked down as -25.
    - Next hand is a wall game. Nobody gets any points.
    o By the end of the tournament, lots of players have scores in negative territory (some in the minus thousands, probably) and a few players have scores well above a thousand. A very wide divide between the top and bottom players.

    Scenario B - tournament scoring. Player A wins with a 25-point hand by discard (on one exposure), during the course of which one player's hand went dead.
    - Player A's score is marked down as 25.
    - Player B's score is marked down as -10.
    - Player C's score is marked down as 0.
    - Player D's score is marked down as X (or 0, for going dead).
    - Next hand is a wall game. Everybody gets 10 points.
    o By the end of the tournament, the divide between top and bottom players is measured in hundreds, not thousands. There are very few players whose scores are below zero.

    That's just a guess, Belinda. I don't know what would actually happen if regular scoring was used at a tournament.
    Good luck with your tournament on Monday! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 20, 2012


    Column 528 again

    >From: C.G S
    >Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 8:06 PM
    >Subject: Column #528
    >Hi Tom,
    >Just a question about # 10. Aren't there 10 tiles toward S & P #4? It would mean you would discard the dots. I know this is a long shot, but I like going for the gold with the concealed hands - even if I don't win.
    >--
    >C.G.

    Hi, C.G.
    Actually, Dean emailed me about that on Monday, and I forgot to reply to him until this morning (you can see his comment below this posting). I fixed the column 12 hours ago (11 hours before you emailed me, if you emailed me at 8:06 PM today, Pacific time). I don't know why you'd still be seeing the erroneous version today, unless you looked at it yesterday and your browser did not reload the page today. If you can still see the erroneous version now, please reload/refresh the page and see the change I made per Dean's comment.

    And no, you wouldn't want to discard any dots:

    The discards are 2C 6B J. If you want to preserve the 2468 #3 option a little longer, the first discard should be 2C.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 19, 2012


    Column 528

    >From: "deanslist3
    >Sent: Monday, July 16, 2012 8:30 PM
    >Subject: Column 528 #8
    >Tom,
    >I've only played NMJL for a couple of months, but it looks like #8 has ten tiles toward S&P #4. I know that's concealed, but is it crazy to discard the 2C and keep the 50-point hand alive?
    >Thanks for producing an excellent site.
    >-- Dean H

    Hi Dean,
    Very nice! I changed the column accordingly. Sorry for the delay -- your email got buried under this week's other do items.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Thursday, July 19, 2012


    It's 8:02 AM already! Where's today's column?

    >From: Sanna F
    >Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2012 8:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Looking for today's column but only see last week's. That's how addicted I am! SF.

    You were looking too early, Sanna.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Monday, July 16, 2012 (I didn't find the email until just now; it was in my spam folder for some unknown reason, maybe the filter keyed on the word "addicted")


    What would Tom do?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2012 8:52 AM
    >Subject: WWTD
    >Hi Tom,
    >I teach many Mah Jongg classes and my former students tell me they say to themselves, what would Donna do. I still
    >consider myself a student of the game and at times think What Would Tom Do?
    >I'm sitting with :
    >FJJ5C5C7C7C9C9CJJRR and I pick in my fifth joker. The question is do I still go for hand #4 on the odds or switch to a quint?
    >It was fairly early in the game and I probably had a decent chance to get a flower or have it thrown although I hate having to need a pair especially when I pull in jokers that can't be used! Since my screen name is quint-essential, you know where my preference is. So I decided to go for the Quints 579 hand since I could call everything. However, the only tile thrown I could call was a 7C, none of the 5s or 9s went out nor did I pick them. So Tom, I'm wondering what you would have done?
    >Love your columns and bulletin board. That was some exchange with Alice. I hope folks like us who write in with questions and benefit from your strategy columns, take the opportunity to give back to you by making a donation and for me my yearly contribution is due and will be made!
    >Thanks,
    >Donna

    Hi, Donna. Got the donation. Thank you so much!
    So here's what you presented, in pictorial form [Corrected after re-reading]:

    [Corrected the following after re-reading]
    You were 3 tiles away from the Quints hand - you'd have to replace the Rs and the F with needed tiles, or even more jokers. Having a lot of jokers already, getting more can happen (and has), but it's rare and unlikely. But you were only 1 tile away from Odds #4 - you only needed a flower, and those are twice as plentiful as all the non-jokers. I would definitely not go for a 3-away hand when I can be waiting for a hand. The jokers were a red herring for you. Their smell, combined with a tinge of greed, masked the nearness of mah-jongg. I would discard one joker.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Le 14 Juillet, 2012


    I gave them back half of the money, part 2

    >From: Dorothy S
    >Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2012 4:09 AM
    >Subject: Re: MJ Rule?
    >Thank you, Tom, for the quick response, appreciate, will check this out. :)
    >Best,
    >Dorothy


    Column commentary

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 8:43 PM
    >Subject: Strategy columns
    >Hi, Tom,
    >Just in case you needed any reassurance that your readers actually do read and digest your strategy columns . . .
    >Regarding your July 8 column:
    >Many thanks for answering my questions. Your advice is very helpful!
    >Regarding your July 1st column:
    >Could example # 10 also be Consecutive Run # 3? If so, wouldn't 4B and 5D also be hot tiles?
    >Regarding your June 24 column:
    >I see that Belinda G has already suggested Like Numbers for example # 10.
    >Couldn't the same suggestion apply to example # 11?
    >By my count, Like Numbers and Consecutive #5 each have nine tiles. (Sorry, I like to count the jokers -- so I don't forget them!)
    >Like numbers has: F F F 5B 5B 5B 5D 5D J.
    >Consecutive #5 has: F F 3C 3C 4D 5B 5B 5B J.
    >I'd probably choose Consecutive #5 as my primary hand -- because it has the advantage of having no missing pairs.
    >However, Like Numbers seems like a very good backup hand -- especially since one of the pungs could be converted to a pair if needed.
    >So, I'd be tempted to discard a 2C instead of a flower. Of course, that depends on what stage of the game we're in -- and whether or not I think the other players might want either the flower or the 2C.
    >Absent information about the other players' hands, I probably wouldn't want to break up my back-up hand while I still have at least two other tiles (the pair of 2Cs) to discard. With any luck, the 2C might even be successful as joker bait!
    >Thanks again for the terrific strategic exercises,
    >Alice S.

    Wow, Alice. That's a lot of commentary. I usually get no more commentary than one problem from one column in a week. This is more than I can comfortably chew all at once. Good for you, your thinking seems sound. When it comes to strategy, there are many ways one could approach a problem. Keep on working it, and you'll mop up the floor with me if we ever meet at a tournament.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, July, 2012


    This week's column

    From: Alice S
    Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 5:33 PM
    Subject: July 8 column
    Hi, Tom,
    Thanks again for your weekly strategy columns. They are such a great exercise -- especially for newbies like me trying to get up to speed for my first tournament.
    Is there a typo in your July 8 column? In example 5, did you mean to pass 7B -- not 3B? The 3B could be used for the Elevens hand that you've recommended -- which has eight tiles -- not a bad start for the initial deal.
    Also, for example 7, another alternative might be to pass N, 1D and 5B. That would leave eight tiles for Winds-Dragons #4. Plus, a pair of 1Cs to potentially save for joker bait. Or, would you recommend passing one of 1Cs right away (instead of the 1D) so as not to have to pass a pair together in the next round -- since it's still early in the Charleston?
    Alice S.

    Hi, Alice.
    No. Not having any ones is a huge barrier to the Elevens hand. I want to keep 7B for Consec. #5.
    Good call on that hand. As for what to pass, the first Charleston is not a time for thinking about joker bait. I do like to break up a pair at this point.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, July, 2012


    I gave them back half of the money

    >From: Dorothy S
    >Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 2:34 PM
    >Subject: MJ Rule?
    >Hello Tom in my search for an answer to my question, I came upon your website with so many questions/answers but not to my question. I recognize your name as you give a foreword in Elaine Sandburgs book.
    >I am a new player, playing with seasoned players, and if I may, could you answer this question: I declared MJ with a closed hand, of pairs/singles. Each player paid me $1. We are now playing new game, racked the walls, did the charleston, when one of the players said, hey you shouldn't have won that hand because you used joker in the pair. Uh-oh, I said, I didnt realize that about the joker, they, of course showed me the back of the NMJL card, and I said, now what? Well, they said you shouldn't have won! I said, we have already started a new game. Because it wasn't discovered during the hand, I didn't think I owed them anything because we were onto new game. After this discussion because we were onto new game I gave each back 50 cents. One player felt i should give back the $1. What do the rules state? I can't seem to find anything when I google.
    >Thank you so much in advance for your time.
    >Kind regards,
    >Dorothy

    Hi Dorothy, you wrote:

    One player felt i should give back the $1. What do the rules state?
    The rules are silent on this, Dorothy. Let's examine this from the point of view of my Philosophy #3 (see FAQ 9): "When ruling on conflicts arising out of someone's error, first determine who made the error."
    - You erred when you used a joker in a pair.
    - The other 3 players erred when they paid you.
    Therefore everybody erred. Who should be penalized?
    See Philosophy 5e: "A mistake is committed to when an action has occurred." By exposing a hand with a joker in a pair, your hand is invalid and dead, so by rights the others should have all continued playing. But by paying you, the other players committed to ending the game, and to having a smaller amount in their purses.
    So: on the one hand, the money shouldn't be given back because the ladies were foolishly not paying attention to your hand at the moment you declared mah-jongg. But on the other hand, this wasn't a tournament; common sense says that if you acknowledged your error you should have given them all their money back. It's either all or nothing -- you don't give them back half.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, July, 2012


    Fine points of the death challenge, part 4

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 11:44 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi, Tom,
    >Looks like I owe you another apology!
    >re: "You know my opinion, and you know Gladys Grad's opinion. I wish you'd told me this before I gave you my opinion. Then at least I would have known that I was disagreeing with her, in real time rather than after the fact."
    >You're absolutely right. I'm so very sorry! I didn't mean to blind-side you. Truth is that I couldn't remember where I had read the dead-on-final-discard language. And, I wasn't sure I understood it in the first place. It wasn't until after I read your response this evening that I went back to look for it. The rules for our local tournament make no mention of the final discard language. So, maybe the rule doesn't even apply. Hopefully, the issue won't come up.
    >
    >re: "I'm confused. There's the discarder, and there's everybody else. The discarder isn't declaring anybody dead simultaneous with her own discard, is she?"
    >Sorry for the confusion. Yes, I did mean to use the example of the discarder calling another player's hand dead. Specifically, I was continuing the example of Player B in today's game. If she had thrown three of her Two Bams, the question was whether she could have called Player A's hand dead simultaneously with the third discard -- even if it was the final discard of the game. I guess the answer depends on the tournament rules -- and on whether Player B wants to risk any perception of disharmony. (Thanks again for clarifying earlier that Player B couldn't call Player A's hand dead merely by showing us that she had a concealed kong of Two Bams.)
    >
    >re: "I do not approve of calling someone dead on the last discard."
    >Many thanks for the advice. I agree that it doesn't seem very friendly to call a hand dead on the final discard -- even if it is allowable in some tournaments. Never having been to a tournament, I wasn't sure what to expect. We play a fun, enjoyable, harmonious game at home. We're only now starting to call hands dead -- in preparation for the upcoming tournament. I can't imagine anyone calling any of us cut-throat!
    >
    >re: "That's a perfect example of FAQ 19BK."
    >Wow -- what a great answer! Can't wait to share it with my mahj friends.
    >
    >re: "I like your thinking"
    >Thank you. And, ditto. A thousand times, ditto. I haven't been playing that long, but I really enjoy the game. And, I love your website! You're right, I do like to think things through. Your book -- and your website -- are so well thought out. You make it easy for the rest of us.
    >Of course . . . I can't take credit for thinking up the dead-on-final-discard scenario. I'm guessing that the situation must have come up before. Otherwise, I can't imagine why it would have been included in anyone's tournament rules. I had no idea that it was an unusual situation. (Although . . . if I'd really thought it through . . . it should have dawned on me that it would be a rare occurrence -- since most of us will discard likely pairs early in the game.)
    >
    >Thanks again for all of your help.
    >Alice S.

    Good morning, Alice. You wrote:

    Hopefully, the issue won't come up.
    I have never seen it come up, but I have not been in as many tournaments as Gladys has. And since she is a tournament organizer. she's seen a lot more weird things than I have.

    Specifically, I was continuing the example of Player B in today's game. If she had thrown three of her Two Bams, the question was whether she could have called Player A's hand dead simultaneously with the third discard -- even if it was the final discard of the game. I guess the answer depends on the tournament rules -- and on whether Player B wants to risk any perception of disharmony.
    Okay, now I see. I think it would be very cutthroat and disharmonious to time that third discard to be concurrent with the final discard of the game and make a death challenge at the same time. She should do it at least one turn sooner, in my opinion. As I said last night.

    We're only now starting to call hands dead -- in preparation for the upcoming tournament. I can't imagine anyone calling any of us cut-throat!
    Emotions run high at a tournament. Most players are very nice, but there are some high-strung players who can surprise you with what comes out of their mouths. Remember my harmony rule but also remember that it is a competition.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Friday the 13th, July, 2012


    Fine points of the death challenge, part 3

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:06 PM
    >Subject: Re: The death challenge for non-cut-throat players
    >Hi, again,
    >I think I misread your previous response. I see now that you've advised that a hand shouldn't be declared dead after the last tile has been picked from the wall. (I had mistakenly referred to the discard that followed the final pick from the wall.)
    >Of course, that makes the Mahjong Madness tournament rule even more confusing! Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.
    >Many thanks,
    >Alice S.

    Hi, Alice. You emailed me this while I was polishing my reply to your previous email. (I was editing it online after I posted it, so you may have read something I have now changed.) I did not advise against a death declaration prior to the final discard (but after the final tile was picked). I only said I'd never considered the possibility. "Any clarification" on Gladys' rule would have to be obtained from Gladys herself.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2012


    Fine points of the death challenge, part 2

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 8:49 PM
    >Subject: Re: The death challenge for non-cut-throat players
    >Hi, Tom,
    >Many thanks for the quick reply. Very helpful!
    >Just a couple follow-up items:
    >First . . . I'm still confused about the "final discard" rule.
    >If I understand your response correctly, it seems that a player could be called dead after the final tile has been picked from the wall -- as long as the final discard has not yet been made. Small window of opportunity. Good to know.
    >Would you mind indulging me while I attempt to explain the source of my confusion?
    >In preparation for our upcoming local tournament, I had been reading rules that I found on-line from other tournaments. (I got to see for myself that the rules really do vary from tournament to tournament.)
    >The "last discard" language came from a "rules" link from the Mah Jongg Madness website.
    >I hadn't seen this rule before, so I didn't know whether it was a typical tournament rule (especially since I've never been to a tournament).
    >An excerpt -- from http://www.mahjongg.org/tournrules.htm --
    >"h. "DEAD" PLAYER In the event of a Wall Game – Dead players get "0" (Zero). "DEAD" PLAYER receives Zero (0) points, applies even in the event of being called "dead" on the last discard."
    >I couldn't figure out what was meant by "being called 'dead' on the last discard". Do you think they might be referring to a death declaration that is simultaneous with the final discard?
    >The timing seems a bit tricky. I guess the discarder could acknowledge that another player's hand is about to become dead because of the discard about to be made. Could that be what they meant? Or, could they mean that any other player could also call the hand dead after seeing the final discard?
    >I guess it could make sense -- especially since the final discarder doesn't always completely know that the game is actually over. It still might be possible that another player could call the tile about to be discarded. (And, if called for exposure, the exposer's next discard could also be called, etc., etc. Okay, I know it's a long-shot, but it's not impossible!)
    >Second . . . I am so sorry! Please let me apologize for my earlier misstatement. I should not have said that I couldn't find the answer in your book or website -- both of which are amazingly, incredibly complete. What I meant to say is that I couldn't find an answer that supported Player B's assertion. Thank you for clarifying the reason -- that her assertion was incorrect.
    >Thanks again,
    >Alice S.

    Hi, Alice. You wrote:

    I'm still confused about the "final discard" rule.
    >If I understand your response correctly, it seems that a player could be called dead after the final tile has been picked from the wall -- as long as the final discard has not yet been made. Small window of opportunity.
    As I said before, I like your thinking. I mean, you really think things through, including the ramifications and all possibilities. I had never thought about it before (I never had reason to think about it before), but yes, I suppose you could call someone dead after she'd picked the last tile and before she discarded it.
    But it's such a fine point (in all the years I've played, the idea never came up before), that I don't see a place where I need to add it to the FAQs or future editions of the book.

    An excerpt -- from http://www.mahjongg.org/tournrules.htm --
    >"h. "DEAD" PLAYER In the event of a Wall Game – Dead players get "0" (Zero). "DEAD" PLAYER receives Zero (0) points, applies even in the event of being called "dead" on the last discard."
    It sounds to me like that disagrees with what I said. You know my opinion, and you know Gladys Grad's opinion. I wish you'd told me this before I gave you my opinion. Then at least I would have known that I was disagreeing with her, in real time rather than after the fact. I stick by my opinion -- I don't think it's just or fair to call someone dead after the last tile is discarded, just so you can cause her to lose points. My reasons will be clear in a few sentences.

    Do you think they might be referring to a death declaration that is simultaneous with the final discard?
    I also wish I'd read your whole email before replying to it line by line. Yes. I do think that's what she's referring to. Simultaneous or just after (within a second or so). But you would have to ask her.

    Or, could they mean that any other player could also call the hand dead after seeing the final discard?
    I'm confused. There's the discarder, and there's everybody else. The discarder isn't declaring anybody dead simultaneous with her own discard, is she?

    It still might be possible that another player could call the tile about to be discarded.
    Yes. Of course, somebody could win on the last discard. But to look at the last discard and tell somebody (anybody), "you're dead," that strikes me as unfair. ("Cutthroat.") And, since most players are (unwisely) already reaching for their tiles to throw them in, it's bad timing, likely to cause an uproar -- disharmony. I do not approve of calling someone dead on the last discard.

    I should not have said that I couldn't find the answer in your book or website -- both of which are amazingly, incredibly complete. What I meant to say is that I couldn't find an answer that supported Player B's assertion.
    That's a perfect example of FAQ 19BK.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2012


    Fine points of the death challenge

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 4:53 PM
    >Subject: The death challenge for non-cut-throat players
    >Hi, Tom,
    >I've been playing for a year now and am about to go to my first tournament ever. Reviewing your book and your website has really helped me to feel prepared.
    >Thank you for your strategic columns -- especially your recent Q&A about death challenges. I confess that my friends and I have been timid about calling each other "dead" in our friendly games at home. Thanks to your book and your strategy columns, we now understand the value of the death challenge. (I just hope that we never resort to calling each other "cut-throat" as some of your other readers have described!)
    >
    >A question came up at this morning's game. Player A had three exposures that made it absolutely clear that she needed a pair of Two Bams (for Consecutive Run #1). Player B had all four of the Two Bams -- but they were concealed in her hand. Accordingly, Player B knew that Player A's hand was not winnable, but the other three players did not have this knowledge.
    >
    >After the game ended (with Player B's mahj), Player B announced that she had chosen not to call Player A's hand dead because she did not want to reveal her own hand.
    >
    >My questions are: Could Player B really have called Player A's hand dead merely by showing the other players her concealed kong? Or, would the hand only be dead if the Two-Bams were visible in the course of play (for example, by Player B having discarded three of the Two Bams)?
    >
    >I couldn't find the answer in the NMJL official rule book -- or in your book -- or in either of the two Sandberg books – or in the rules for our local tournament.
    >
    >The closest I found was your FAQ 19 AA which describes an unwinnable hand: "Player's exposures indicate that player needs to make a pair, and three or more of the needed tiles are dead on the table (visible to all, either among the discards or as part of an exposure)."
    >
    >In this case, the Two Bams were neither "on the table" nor "among the discards or as part of an exposure". Could Player B have merely chosen to make them "visible to all" by simply showing us the kong?
    >
    >I've only been playing for a year, but Player B has been playing for a decade. Has she taught me a new strategy? Have you ever seen this during play?
    >Which brings up a related question . . . when does a dead hand need to be declared dead in order to receive zero points in a tournament wall game?
    >In this case, it was not advisable for Player B to reveal (or dispose of ) her kong of Two Bams -- since she was on her way to mahj. But, suppose it had become evident that a wall game would be likely . . . would it then have made sense for her to declare Player A's hand dead (perhaps by first discarding her Two Bams) so that Player A would receive zero points while the rest of us earned ten points under tournament rules?
    >In general, it seems advisable to call a hand dead as early as possible (so that the other players get more turns). But, is it ever too late? For example, could a death challenge be issued after the final discard? What if the final discard was the tile that made it clear that a hand was dead? Could the hand be called dead at such a late stage?
    >Many thanks for your wisdom and expertise!
    >Regards,
    >Alice S.

    Hi, Alice. You wrote:

    Could Player B really have called Player A's hand dead merely by showing the other players her concealed kong?
    No. Re-read the rule in the book - it's rule 101.c on page 63.
    Also, you could have looked at FAQ 19AA. The rule is stated there, too.
    The impossibility of the hand must be visible to all players by looking at the discards and exposures. One player holding the dead player's tiles cannot, under the rules, call her dead.

    I couldn't find the answer in the NMJL official rule book -- or in your book -- or in either of the two Sandberg books – or in the rules for our local tournament.
    The official rulebook does have a lot of gaps. They fill those gaps in the yearly bulletin. Ask around, see if some longtime players have been keeping them and can let you copy them.
    As for Sandberg's book or your local tournament's written rules, I don't know what to tell you.

    Could Player B have merely chosen to make them "visible to all" by simply showing us the kong?
    That's exposing her hand, out of turn, and/or before the game is finished. If she did that, you could call her dead.

    Has she taught me a new strategy? Have you ever seen this during play?
    No, and no.

    when does a dead hand need to be declared dead in order to receive zero points in a tournament wall game?
    Before the last tile is taken from the wall. If nobody called her dead, she does not get scored as a dead hand.

    But, suppose it had become evident that a wall game would be likely . . . would it then have made sense for her to declare Player A's hand dead (perhaps by first discarding her Two Bams
    She would have to discard three of them. If she wanted to do that, she could. I don't want to pass judgment right now as to whether that would "make sense." Whether a move is a good strategy depends on a lot of factors, and I don't want to have to consider all possible scenarios.

    In general, it seems advisable to call a hand dead as early as possible (so that the other players get more turns). But, is it ever too late?
    If I could tell by everyone's body language and facial expressions and/or other clues that nobody would win, unless I wanted to give a known dead player a lower score (as you suggested before), I probably wouldn't bother calling her dead.

    could a death challenge be issued after the final discard?
    No. Too late.

    What if the final discard was the tile that made it clear that a hand was dead? Could the hand be called dead at such a late stage?
    I like the way you think. But no. The last discard ends the game. Too late. Sometimes a player with exposures discards tiles, obviously killing her hand. You could call her dead once you were sure she'd killed it, but not with the last discard. Too late to call her dead once the game has ended.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2012


    Are these flowers? Is that one a joker? (FAQ 7E)

    >From: "Hhchristy
    >Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 2:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have an old Mah Jongg set with the following 'extra' pieces. I think they are flowers but they are in addition to the ones in the 152 tile set. Can you tell me if these are flowers? I suspect the set is one with additional pieces from about the 1920s. And what is the piece with the 'house'? A joker?
    >Thanks,

    Hello Hhchristy,
    I'm thinking you didn't look in FAQ 7E, "Mystery tiles," because if you had, you would see that the big group are indeed all flowers as you suspected. The one that lost all its paint and you called a "house" is also a flower. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2012


    The June 24th column

    >From: Belinda G
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 7:43 AM
    >Subject: June 24th column
    >Hello: Love your columns!
    >June 24th #10 When I count the two hands I get the same number in each. If is confusing when counting consecutives as there are three 5Ds but consecutives only need 2. So both hands have 9 tiles instead of the consecutive having more. However, like numbers requires a pair of 5Cs and there is none, but Consecutive needs only one 6D for that pair that is required. So the consecutive is probably the better bet, although I would chance it on the like numbers because I have two jokers that I could use toward a foursome of 5C and use one of the other 5s as the pair. This might also confuse the other players if I were to throw one of those fives later in the game (after an exposure or two) as they might think that I couldn't go for a like number hand if I throw a similar number out, even though I don't need it, they wouldn't know that.
    >Belinda

    Very nice, Belinda. Hope you're having a nice summer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 10, 2012


    Can I use a joker in NEWS?

    >From: Sue A
    >Sent: Monday, July 9, 2012 7:07 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can you play the NEWS hand using a joker for any of the letters?

    Hello, Sue.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19E. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 9, 2012


    Gaming set, part 2

    >From: "robyn31107
    >Sent: Monday, July 9, 2012 1:47 PM
    >Subject: Re: Gaming Set of Some Kind?
    >Dear Mr. Slope,
    >Thank you for your reply. Finally the mystery is solved. I understand about keeping items in original condition but when I got this home and really examined it, there was an extensive amount of black mold growing on the inside of the lid (probably stored in someones garage) so I really had not choice but to refinish for health purposes as well as preservation of the set. I think this item is very beautiful and plan to just hold on to it for a while.
    >Regards,
    >Robyn


    Gaming set of some kind?

    >From: "robyn31107
    >Sent: Monday, July 9, 2012 12:33 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Gaming Set of Some Kind?
    >Hello,
    >What do I have and what is the approximate value? It is all brass and quite heavy with double sided colored enamel coins and alumnium coins, each one is being polished and preserved, at great $$ cost. Is this a betting set for mahjong? The red ones are being refinished so are not on the spindle, Once polishing and laquering are complete, except for a little minor discoloration to some of the coins, the set will be in very good condition.
    >Thank you in advance for any information.
    >brass set5.JPG
    >brass set4.JPG
    >brass set3.JPG
    >brass set2.JPG
    >brass set1.JPG
    >Just to note, the 2 stacks of coins/tokens on either side of the white ones are the silver (what I think is aluminum) I have tried to show you front and back individually in the photos.
    >Also, the lid is finely decorated but did not show up in the photo as I would have liked, it is hand chased according to the metal refinisher and goes all the way around the lid.
    >Once again, thank you in advance for your time and expertise. I am looking forward to hearing from you about what this is, because no one else has ever seen anything like it.
    >Robyn K
    >Sarasota, FL

    Hello Robyn, you wrote:

    What do I have... Is this a betting set for mahjong?
    Nobody calls it that, but you obviously know that the coins are used as chips for keeping track of score during play. Nobody "bet" back then (only the American game employs "betting" and only when there are five players).

    and what is the approximate value?
    It's a nice one. Much nicer (more elaborate) than any others I've seen. Since I've never seen one like this before, I can only guess that it might go for $200 to $300 in original (unrestored) condition.

    The red ones are being refinished ... polishing and laquering
    Too bad. That reduces the value. Just a wild guess, but I'd say its value (restored) is no more than $200, maybe less. By the way: You may NOT use my name or refer to my website in your sales pitch.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 9, 2012


    Is it good strategy, part 2

    >From: Mary Ann C
    >Sent: Friday, July 6, 2012 1:12 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question
    >Thank you for you insightful answer.....just what I needed. I love your column and book and was happy to send a donation to keep your
    >site going. I quote you constantly at the Mah Jongg table. Keep up the good work and good humor.
    >Mary Ann

    Very cool, Mary Ann. Your question was very good - I especially appreciated the chance to consider the point you raised. I added the Q&A to FAQ 8, for the benefit of future readers.
    A tip o' the hat to you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 6, 2012


    Is it good strategy to call a player dead?

    >From: Mary Ann C
    >Sent: Friday, July 6, 2012 10:41 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Color me stupid if you have already answered this question and I apologize, but I cannot find it.
    >Do YOU think it is good strategy to call a player dead and why? She may have the tile you need for Mah Jongg and may discard it if you let her continue to play You don't have to worry about her calling Mah Jongg.
    >Thanks, Mary Ann

    if you have already answered this question and I apologize, but I cannot find it.
    >Do YOU think it is good strategy to call a player dead and why?
    Coincidentally, I stated my reasoning in this week's strategy column. But tell you what, I'll add it to the strategy FAQ.

    She may have the tile you need for Mah Jongg and may discard it if you let her continue to play
    Well, let's talk about that.
    Consider the odds that she has your tile -- since the dead discards are out of the running, you can do a comparison between the number of tiles in her hand (13) against the number of tiles in the wall. If there are 13 tiles in the wall, then yes, you're right, the odds are about 1 in 4 that she has the tile you want. The odds of that are 1 in 4, or 25% (you know it's not in your hand, but it could be in hers, or the wall, or in one of the other two players' hands) - if there are 13 tiles in the wall. The odds are less than 25%, if the wall is longer than 13 tiles (6½ stacks).
    Now, consider whether she is likely to discard your tile. Let's assume that you have no exposures, so she cannot guess what tile you need. So now the likelihood of her discarding a particular tile depends on how far you are into the game; she's less likely to discard your tile (whatever it is) the farther you go into the game (a tile's "temperature" increases with time). Since you've determined that she's dead, it's likely not very early in the game. I can't calculate any odds for you, but I hope I've made a reasonable point.
    Since you're not worried about her calling mah-jongg, and are hoping she'll throw your tile, you're permitting her to keep on picking. Let's assume that you do have exposures, or that it's possible for her to have been watching your discards and deduce what you are doing. She could well pick the tile you need, and, knowing it to be dangerous, hold onto it. If she was dead, another player (one who doesn't need your tile and still hopes to win) could throw your tile.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 6, 2012


    It's time to come unglued

    >From: Roland C
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 10:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Recently purchased older set from the 60's. Previous owner glued the bakelite tile stoppers to the bakelite racks.
    >How can I separate?
    >Kindest regards,
    >Famdetective

    It depends on what glue was used. You need to research a variety of solvents and their effect on plastics. You may need to run some tests. If a cyanoacrylate ("superglue") was used, I don't know if there is a solvent.
    I should mention that this is not a mah-jongg question, but a chemistry question. I am not a chemist, and I cannot help you with any follow-up questions on this.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 5, 2012


    I appreciate any info (FAQ 7P)

    >From: Linda K
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 7:17 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I always go to your site when I need to find information. However I can't seem to find information on this set my sister sent me. No jokers with set, missing 1 green dragon and has 4 blank tiles. Tiles in good shape.
    >Case looks to be fake leather with zipper and handle. Not in good shape.
    >I appreciate any info you can give me.
    >Happy 4th of July.
    >Thank You
    >Linda K

    Hi, Linda.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers to such questions, I have compiled them into a series of "FAQs" ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask guests to check before writing to me.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 7P. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    The 4th of July, 2012


    Gotcha back, Jack

    >From: Mark A
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 2:27 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >TOM. Thanks so very much for your swift and informed response
    >Sent from my Sony Ericsson Xperia ray

    You're welcome, Mark.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 3, 2012


    Were jokers always forbidden in pairs and singles?

    >From: Sophie F
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 10:17 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >At any time within the last 40-50 years has it been okay to use a joker for a pair. If so, when and when did it end?
    >Thanks,
    >Sophie F

    Interesting! A history question! I couldn't resist, so I went through my old NMJL cards. I found that the rule, "Joker or Jokers can NEVER be used for a single tile, or in a pair," first appeared in the 1984-85 card. Presumably, then, jokers could be used for those things prior to late 1984. If you want to know more about that rule, you'll have to contact the League. I recommend you do it in writing rather than by telephone.
    Thanks for the interesting question, Sophie. But as often happens, I can't help but wonder what prompted the question. I presume there's a story there.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 3, 2012


    How old is it, Jack?

    >From: mark a
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 12:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Perhaps you can help put an age on my set and is it a Jaques ? as in Spear & Jackson
    >Any help would be most appreciated
    >Kind regards
    >Mark

    Hi Mark, you asked:

    Perhaps you can help put an age on my set
    It's from the 1920s. Bamboo tiles were often made then - they were a cheap alternative to the normal bone and bamboo sets.

    and is it a Jaques ? as in Spear & Jackson
    I'm sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about. I assume you noticed that it says "J. J. & S. Ltd." on the box. Not that I know what that stands for. I guess you could say I don't know Jack. And I guess it's time for me to hit the road...

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 3, 2012


    FAQ 19AB - part 2

    >From: Karen Lloyd
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, July 2, 2012 7:15 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jongg Q/A
    >I thank you for the answer! Filed it in my Q and A for MJ.
    >karen

    I love being thanked! (Haven't gotten a thank-you in over a week - maybe I need to be nicer. Oh well...)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2012


    FAQ 19AB - "Called me dead but I'm not"

    >From: Karen L
    >Sent: Monday, July 2, 2012 4:26 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Q/A
    >Hi Tom,
    >I could not find my question in the Q&A. A player challenges someone has as dead and it is not dead at the end of the game what is the penalty? If it is dead what is the penalty? I
    >Thank you so much. Karen Lloyd

    Hi, Karen.
    It's FAQ 19AB - "Called me dead but I'm not"
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2012


    Three players, using a table rule (part 2)

    >From: Sandra P
    >Sent: Monday, July 2, 2012 7:58 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I went where you sent me but I still didn't see the answer about pulling a Joker in a three-handed game during the Charleston. I'll check the blog again to see if you have a more definitive answer. I would think in all fairness the Joker should be replaced. Maybe I should just call the National Mahjongg League in NYC for an answer.
    >Sandra

    Hi Sandra,
    I was hoping you would have figured out these things from those FAQs:
    The official rule, when playing a 3-player game, is not to use a Charleston at all (FAQ 13a);
    Therefore, what your group does is called a "table rule";
    When you use a table rule, you're on your own -- your group has to decide how your table rule works (FAQ 14);
    If you call the League, they'll tell you not to use a Charleston when there are only 3 players.
    Besides, phoning questions to the League is not advised (see FAQ 19BN).
    I'm sorry the FAQs didn't make this clear for you the first time. I have now edited FAQ 13a to make it clearer for future askers of this question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2012


    This week's column

    >From: Beemail
    >Sent: Monday, July 2, 2012 4:28 AM
    >Subject: No such hand?? July 1 strategy posting
    >Hi Tom,
    >Number 9 on yesterday's strategy examples states that there is 'no such hand.' but isn't that consecutive #1?
    >Cheers,
    >BG
    >--
    >BethGi

    You are right, BethGi. It's fixed now, with a tip o' the hat to sharp-eyed you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2012


    Three players, using a table rule

    >From: Sandra P
    >Sent: Sunday, July 1, 2012 2:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >With all the Q&As listed, I may have overlooked the answer that I am seeking.
    >If only three persons are playing and I draw a joker from the opposite wall, do I have to put it back at the end of the wall or can I keep it?
    >Thanks.

    Hi Sandra.
    You won't find that answer here on the Q&A board -- you're asking two Frequently Asked Questions instead.
    Read FAQ 14 and FAQ 13a. If that doesn't help, then switch the order of the reading -- read FAQ 13a first, and FAQ 14 second.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 1, 2012


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