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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
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Frequently Asked Questions)

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16. The NMJL Card

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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

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Welcome to the Maj Exchange Q&A Bulletin Board. Here you can ask questions about Mahjong (you can also ask about Hanafuda or Go-Stop). You will get answers here on this board (usually the same day). But BEFORE YOU ASK YOUR QUESTION, PLEASE CHECK THE FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and PLEASE scroll down and see if your question has already been asked and answered on the board.

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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    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts).

    This is an information exchange, not a social site. I'm not a programmer, and to keep spammers out, I had to go low-tech. Due to the actions of spammers, I had to remove the ability of visitors to post here without my involvement. As a result, all users' posts now have to go through me, and I when I post them, I omit email addresses (with exceptions as stated above). I learned from bad experiences that many (if not most) posters want their contact information to be kept private. Please do not ask to be put in touch with other people who've posted here, if their email addresses are not shown here. Please don't put me in that uncomfortable position.

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    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





    nosmoke44.com is a spammer. BOYCOTT nosmoke44!

  • Do you know anything about this company?

    > From: Norma G
    > Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2013 5:48 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have a set of Mah Jong from " Yue Chong Zang Ivory Co., 141 Shanse Road, (Near Nanking Road ) Tel 97175. Shanghai. Do you know anything about this company?
    > Thank, you, Norma G

    I sure don't, Norma. And for the life of me, I can't imagine what kind of information you were expecting to find. The company's founding date? The company's founder's name? The company's financials? I suppose to find out those things, one could go to Shanghai and hope that the hall of records still has records that go back to before the Japanese invaded and took over China during WWII. Good luck!
    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
    1/31/13


    Please rescind my post, part 3

    > From: Wendi F
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:33 PM
    > Subject: Re: Seeking games
    > Hi Tom,
    > I never did get any response so please remove my personal information from the board posting. Thank you. Wendi

    I have blacked out as much personal information as I can from your original October 19 post. I remind you of this website's Terms of service and privacy policy as stated above: "'When you email me, I own it.' The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. ... Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts)."
    I'm sorry you weren't able to find players.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs and author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 30, 2013


    One more question (part two)

    > From: Frances N
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:54 AM
    > Subject: Ooops! I found the answer
    >Dear Mr. Sloper;
    >I found the answer to the "like numbers" question. It really helps if you read the entire section. Sorry to have bothered you.
    >But the question about to whom I can send a comment/suggestion to still stands.
    >Thank you.
    > Frances N


    One more question (Well, two)

    > From: Frances N
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:15 AM
    > Subject: One more question (Well, two)
    >Dear Mr. Soper;
    >I bought a Mah Jongg set about a year ago and shortly thereafter asked a couple of questions of you which you answered very nicely and patiently, so I am going to push my luck and am going to bother you with another one.
    >My preable is that for the most part, the playing cards are very clear and easy to interpret, but there is one pattern on the 2012 card which has our group confused:
    >It reads FFFF 1111 11 1111 (any like number) What it doesn't say is what confuses us. The purists among us say that because there is no freedom of suit given, the set must include four bams, two crack and four dots in that order. That nothing else will do.
    >What say you, oh guru? Or is that mixing my ethnicities?
    >One other thing, we would like to see a greater scope of use for the Winds, to have them interspersed with the other sets as the Dragons and Flowers are. To whom would we be able to comment to express our opinions?
    >Thank you so much for your patience with us. You may be interested in knowing that the group of four I joined last February is now a group of twelve.
    >Yours truly.
    > Frances N
    > Nelson, B. C. Canada

    Hello, Frances. You wrote:

    there is one pattern on the 2012 card which has our group confused:
    >It reads FFFF 1111 11 1111 (any like number) What it doesn't say is what confuses us.
    Please read Frequently Asked Questions 19AJ & AK, and also FAQ 16. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the links to FAQs #16 & 19 (they're both marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ). 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. FAQ 16 answers the most frequently-asked questions about the current card. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    The purists among us say that because there is no freedom of suit given, the set must include four bams, two crack and four dots in that order. That nothing else will do.
    Then your purists do not understand how the card works. Colors do not dictate suit. It would be nice of you to print out the pertinent sections from those FAQs and hand them out at your next session.

    we would like to see a greater scope of use for the Winds, to have them interspersed with the other sets as the Dragons and Flowers are. To whom would we be able to comment to express our opinions?
    Look at the front of the card. It says "NATIONAL MAH JONGG LEAGUE, INC." in very large letters. Look at the back of the card, and you'll find their address.

    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
    January 30, 2013


    What if two want it for mah-jongg, but only one exposes her hand?

    >From: "mstern2307
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 8:45 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >two people called a tile for mah in american mah, the person on the right called and the person across called and exposed her hand when she called. the person on the right of the discard did not expose her hand-who has the mah
    >i know that the person next gets the tile, but what about the person who exposed for mah?

    Hi Marlene,
    Like it says in Frequently Asked Question 19H (and as I said to Flo on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 7:23 PM (below), it's not a race to see who can expose tiles first. Since one player did expose, and the other did not, then the one who did expose gets the tile and the win. As I said to Flo below, if I was the person on the discarder's right, I would simply expose my tiles too, and claim my right to have the tile. But since she didn't do that, she loses out.
    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
    January 30, 2013


    The Year Of The Snake

    > From: Connie
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:50 PM
    > Subject: Yearly Hand
    > Hello! It's that time of year to create a Year of the Snake hand. Would you be so kind?
    > Our group has been playing MCR (I learned at mahjongtime.com) every week for a few years, and I'd like to see it played by real people. Is there a tournament in Vegas? Can one watch tourneys or does one have to enter the contest? Thanks, Connie

    Hi, Connie. You wrote:

    It's that time of year to create a Year of the Snake hand. Would you be so kind?
    Sunday, February 10th is the Chinese New Year. I'll see what I can do!

    Is there a [MCR] tournament in Vegas?
    No. MCR tournaments happen in China and Europe.

    Can one watch tourneys or does one have to enter the contest?
    You can go and just watch.

    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
    January 29, 2013


    Age of mah-jongg set, part 2

    >From: Shelly M
    >Sent: Monday, January 28, 2013 5:06 AM
    >Subject: Re: Age of mah jongg set
    >Thanks and yes, I did read 7g but it didn't at all describe the particular set that I have.
    >Shelly

    Shelly, as I told you on January 22, I still can't help you without (1) pictures and (2) information (the set age-determination checklist in FAQ 7G).
    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
    January 28, 2013


    How do you approach a new NMJL card?

    > From: Kathy B
    > Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 10:07 PM
    > Subject: New 2013 NMJL card
    > Our group of beginners is anxiously awaiting the 2013 NMJL card which will the first new card we have played. How do you approach initially playing with a new card?

    I read it and compare it with the previous card, and start making mental adjustments. See columns 482 & 444, for instance.
    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
    January 26, 2013


    Swan tiles, part 2

    >From: Doug G
    >Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 1:19 AM
    >Subject: Thank you
    >Thank you for your prompt reply. I hope this 'photo is of some help as you can see I have the 1 bamboo so I guess the swans must be jokers. I also note the simple style characters of which you talk of. You can see how small the tiles are compared to my also small plastic tiles. Being from Australia I don't play American Mahjongg so not familiar with jokers. Very much appreciate the help you have given me. Anne G

    Hi, Anne.
    I assume you're calling the top row your One Bams. Like I said before, I would need to see the whole set to be sure what's what. The best way to lay out a set is 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
    January 25, 2013


    The best!

    > LinkedIn
    > Jeni Ishimoto has sent you a message.
    > Date: 1/25/2013
    > Subject: the best!
    > Your mahjong game guides still get referred to by me from time to time...and we're talking almost two decades :) thanks for them!
    > View/reply to this message
    > Don't want to receive e-mail notifications? Adjust your message settings.


    Swan tiles

    > From: Doug G
    > Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 10:37 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > I was recently given a Mahjong set bought in Aberdeen Hong Kong in 1972. It has very small tiles, bamboo, bone/ivory(?) in a bamboo box with a ming containing dice and wind disks. everything seems the same as my modern day plastic set with the exception of no white dragons but eight white tiles plus four tiles with swans etched on them. I am assuming four of the white tiles are the white dragons but my question is, what are the swan tiles for? Also none of the flowers are numbered. Hoping you have the answer. Anne G

    Hi Anne,
    Yes, the blank tiles are your white dragons; read 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 ).
    The "swans" are either your One Bams or they're joker tiles. I'd have to see the whole set to be sure.
    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
    January 24, 2013


    Jokers in a 3-handed Charleston (part 2)

    > From: Ruth C
    > Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 3:10 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A - A joker in a 3-handed game's charleston
    > Thanks so much for the answer. Guess I will have to just grin and bear it!
    > Ruth


    Jokers in a 3-handed Charleston

    > From: Ruth C
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 4:24 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A - A joker in a 3-handed game's charleston
    > My mah-jongg question:
    > I just joined a group of older ladies who play Mah Jongg at the local senior center. Sometimes there are only 3 people there to play and when pull to the “blind" (non-existent) player from the wall to pass in the Charleston they do not check for jokers. It is my contention that someone should glance at the tiles to make sure as the rules clearly state you cannot pass jokers. One lady is extremely controlling and says if there’s a joker in it I will not put it back! Several of us are tired of her insisting that this is a table rule when she is the only one who won’t comply. I could not find anything in writing to show her that it is clearly against both the AMJL and NMJL rule against passing (or picking) of jokers. Is there one? To me it is cheating as no one would ever pass a joker in the charleston.
    > Ruth C

    Ruth,
    The official rule is that there is no Charleston when three people are playing. But you have joined a group who uses a table rule. When you join a group who's already chosen how they want to play, you have to just go along with their way of doing things, and do so graciously. Please read Frequently Asked Questions 13A & 14, and column #532.
    Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ) - and the columns can be accessed by clicking the purple banner atop this page.
    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
    January 23, 2013


    Age of mah-jongg set

    > From: Shelly M
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:31 PM
    > Subject: Age of mah jongg set
    > Dear Tom:
    > My sister just found my mother's mah jongg set. She passed away thirty three years ago. The set is Chinese with no jokers, but four blank tiles. The winds are not recognizable in English and there are no numbers on any tiles. Each tile is about twice as thick as a tile from an american set. It's beautiful, complete and in a broken leather case from a mah jongg and Ivory company from Hong Kong. It's cream colored. Any ideas?
    > Thank You,
    > Shelly M
    > Sent from my

    I have two ideas, Shelly:
    Send me pictures.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 7G.
    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
    January 22, 2013


    Is this old Windows 3.1 mahjong solitaire still available?

    > From: Charles W
    > Sent: Monday, January 21, 2013 2:00 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: Is the old mahjong solitaire that had tiles of road signs or beer labels still available? I played it on the 286 computers Windows 3.1.
    > Chuck

    Hello, Chuck. You wrote:

    Is the old mahjong solitaire that had tiles of road signs or beer labels still available?
    If you had asked me this thirteen years ago, I might still know the title of that program. But I don't now. You just need to remember the title of the program, and the name of the guy who programmed it. Just about everything is still out there somewhere. If you look in FAQ 12, you'll find a lot of tile-matching games (I do not know if yours is listed). You can link to the FAQs above left.

    I played it on the 286 computers Windows 3.1.
    If you find that twenty-year-old computer program, your only remaining problem will be getting it to work on your current operating system. You might find something that looks close enough (or otherwise satisfies your desires) in FAQ 12. Good luck!

    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
    MLK Day, 2013


    More teaching tips

    > From: "Jujubille
    > Sent: Monday, January 21, 2013 7:24 AM
    > Subject: Teaching Mah Jongg
    > Hi Tom, I just want to add two things to the teaching ideas for new players. I always include a few minutes of the history of the game, the current news about it including local places to play, tournaments, cruises,etc, how the game is widely played so that you can move to another town and continue your hobby, also, I tell everyone that it is just what the Doctors have ordered for senior citizens and others, of course, as it keeps one mentally engaged, uses your senses...you must see the tiles, hear the tiles, and say the tiles plus pick and discard, it is also an adrenal rush to say "Mah Jongg". Additonally, I distribute a Reference/Resource Sheet that lists the League, your web site, the current books including your valuable book, Wikipedia, and the places in the area and online where a new player can purchase a set.
    > Thanks Judy D

    Thanks, Judy!
    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
    MLK Day, 2013


    My group has a lot of wall games, part 2

    > From: SuZi
    > Sent: Monday, January 21, 2013 3:47 AM
    > Subject: Question
    > Sorry Tom, guess I did give you the wrong impression. We do play for 3.5 hours and are engaged, though we do talk. We wondered if we are getting to be better players, or not, because we all are playing more defensively? If I understand what you are saying it is that we would have more Mah Jonggs if we concentrate more? I do appreciate your humor!
    > SuZi

    Hi, Suzi. You wrote:

    guess I did give you the wrong impression. We do play for 3.5 hours and are engaged, though we do talk.
    But in 3½ hours, you played just 5 games? That's 42 minutes per game. Either you're playing very slowly or you're taking long breaks between games. If I was in a game that was taking 42 minutes, my mind would have to start coming up with something else to do besides thinking about the 13 tiles on my rack. Am I missing something? Are you really playing just 5 games in 3½ hours? Because if that's really what you're doing, then that's a problem in itself.

    We wondered if we are getting to be better players, or not
    Am I wrong in inferring from that that you're all recent learners of the game?

    because we all are playing more defensively?
    I don't know about that. I guess you are all playing at about the same level, but I can't know anything definitively about the reasons for your group's wall games based on two short emails from you.

    If I understand what you are saying it is that we would have more Mah Jonggs if we concentrate more?
    I can't promise that. If you're taking 3½ hours to play just 5 games, then I think this is a question of speed of play, of comfort with the natural rhythms of the game.

    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
    Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2013


    Turn of the century set, part 8

    > From: tony nmax
    > Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 6:16 PM
    > Subject: turn of century mah jong set
    > tom sorry to bug you again you say the set is not turn of century.
    > because of the western idices.are there other reasons why not
    > I have checked the net for a nicer one . but cant find one
    > although Im new to the net . could you show me a nicer set
    > and I wont bug you any more

    Hello, tony. You wrote:

    are there other reasons why not
    Yes. If one or both of your booklets is original to the set, then the existence of the booklet is enough proof that your set is not from 1900. The very name "mah jong" did not exist until twenty years later. The design of the One Dot tile also shows that your tiles are not from 1900. I can't go further without better photos or information.

    could you show me a nicer set
    Sorry. You'll have to search on your own. I recommend you check out CHarli's website and also the website of the Mahjong Museum for starters. There are links in FAQ 4b.

    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
    January 20, 2013


    Turn of the century set, part 7

    > From: tony nmax
    > Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 3:20 PM
    > Subject: turn of century mah jong set

    Your email was blank, tony. Please try again.
    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
    January 20, 2013


    My group has a lot of wall games

    > From: SuZi
    > Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 2:48 PM
    > Subject: Questions
    > My group is having a lot of Wall games. We wonder if this is an indication of anything? The last time we played we had 4 Wall games and only 1 Mah Jongg.
    > Thanks,
    > Susan Z

    Hi SuZi.
    To me, the most telling thing about your question is that the last time you played, you played only 5 games. That tells me that you aren't enthusiastic, engaged players. You all sit together and play for less than an hour and a half (or you yak and nosh a lot, instead of focusing and concentrating on the game). Most people get together and play for at least 3 hours, so would have played at least a dozen games. I'm not surprised you're having wall games.
    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
    January 20, 2013


    Broken column link
    From: B.G
    Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 2:01 PM
    Subject: Bad mobile link Jan 20 2013
    The mobile link for column 554 (January 20) is linking to the January 6 column.
    Cheers,
    BG

    Thanks, B. I fixed it, and another broken link.
    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
    January 20, 2013


    I have a desire to teach, part 2
    > From: Mary E
    > Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2013 11:42 AM
    > Subject: Re: beginning teacher
    > Hello again, Mr. Sloper,
    > Thank you very much for your teaching summary. That, along with your other answers in FAQ #26 will help me tremendously. When I said ‘10 weeks’ I was remembering Lynn’s comment (9-29-11) about 10 sessions and took that to mean 10 weeks! Now I’m thinkin’ 3 weeks at 3 hours each with the option of a 4th week for those who wish/need it.
    > Again, thanks!!
    > Mary


    You're welcome, Mary. 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
    January 20, 2013


    Turn of the century set, part 6

    > From: tony nmax
    > Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 10:48 PM
    > Subject: mah jong
    > tom the box it self is in excellent condition except a few chips of paint
    > as seen in picture all gilt scenes are perfect.looks better inreal life
    > there are 110 counting sticks
    > five bone coins
    > four spare blanks
    > 144 tiles
    > 4 tiny dice in coffin type sliding lbox
    > one book has no date no publishers name. and same pictures as mah jong set
    > fenghuang birds eating lotus pods both mirror image

    Hello tony nmax,
    You still haven't told me the answers to my questions, and now you show that there are two booklets with the set. I don't know why I thought there were none (perhaps I was looking at someone else's post last night). I am giving up on trying to get you to give me solid information -- I have to make guesses based on what I can see in your photos.
    The Nippon Yusen Kaisha booklet has value; someone would likely pay around US$20 for it (maybe even a little more).
    The other booklet is worthless; nobody would give you twenty cents for it.
    You say the box is excellent "except" for some flaws. You are guilty of the normal problem of owner vision -- you want to see it as better than an appraiser would. This item has a few defects that any normal person would notice upon close examination. Therefore its true condition is Very Good. (Not Excellent.)
    I do not know the condition of the tiles, so I have to make an assumption. I assume their condition is Very Good.
    I do not know the condition of the sundry other pieces; I assume they are Very Good. You say there are only 110 sticks; that's not the correct number. There are 6 sticks missing (assuming the set was intended for Chinese Classical mah-jongg).

    As I told you when you first wrote me, the set is definitely not from the turn of the century. The box is the only thing that makes the set noteworthy -- it does add value to the set, and I believe the whole set is worth somewhere between US$200 and $400.

    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.
    Santa Clara, California, USA
    January 20, 2013


    I have a desire to teach Mah Jongg

    > From: Mary E
    > Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 2:42 PM
    > Subject: beginning teacher
    > Hello, Mr. Sloper,
    > I have a desire to teach Mah Jongg (it will be weekly at a Senior Center). I’ve never taught in a structured way like this before, just informally around a table while playing with others. I have a very good handle on the NMJL rules (thanks in good part to you, kind Sir) and have read all your input on the FAQ #26. I’m not sure how 3 hour classes (I’m only planning on 2-hr ones) could take 10 weeks....? I was thinking along the lines of 5-6 weeks, tops. I DO want to do a good job and I’ve been told I’m a good & patient teacher from when I did it informally. I know you don’t have a specific teaching book out there (or I would definitely have purchased it!) but I’ve ordered the one you recommended that has to do with “How to Teach Effectively" but it will not cover the ways of Mah Jongg.
    > I would appreciate a short summary (or listing?) of Titles for your personal teaching sessions, if you will. That will clue me in to direction and steps.
    > I do plan to utilize The Big Square first thing but am not sure what to do with it after explaining what all the tiles mean. Would this conceivably take up the whole 2 hours of the 1st session? It wouldn’t seem so....... so there must be something I’m not considering in this particular phase of learning.
    > Also, I had hopes of limiting the class size to 8, if this seems a reasonable thing to do? I’m sure I could handle 8 well enough but I worry if it were an open enrollment and I had beau-coup folks show up. Smile
    > Hoping this all makes sense and is not too much of a request!
    > Many, many thanks,
    > Mary

    Hi, Mary. You wrote:

    I’m not sure how 3 hour classes (I’m only planning on 2-hr ones) could take 10 weeks....?
    I've never had a group keep me teaching for that long.

    I was thinking along the lines of 5-6 weeks, tops.
    I have had a few groups keep me teaching them for that long, yes.

    I do plan to utilize The Big Square first thing but am not sure what to do with it after explaining what all the tiles mean. Would this conceivably take up the whole 2 hours of the 1st session?
    God, no! I want to teach people more than just "here are the tiles" -- I would lose their attention if I didn't also show them at least a little about how the game is played in the first lesson.

    limiting the class size to 8, if this seems a reasonable thing to do?
    You are reasonable to do it as you see fit.

    I would appreciate a short summary (or listing?) of Titles for your personal teaching sessions, if you will.
    I have never written it down before, and it's getting late, so I do not guarantee that this is accurate or complete.
    The big square: what the tiles are, together with a few stories about the origins of the game (in answer to inevitable questions).
    Tile identification: I ask each student to pick up and place atop her rack any tile I name.
    How play works, without a card and without walls, with dealt tiles face-up atop the rack. First, each student is permitted to create four pungs of anything and a pair of anything. Rules are explained as situations arise in the course of play.
    Play again with dealt tiles face-up atop the rack; this time, students create three kongs of anything and a pair of anything.
    Very rarely do we move on to explaining the card in the first lesson -- only when the students are clearly not struggling with the game or the tiles.
    To begin second lesson, use a different mah-jongg set, make the big square again, review tile identification again (goes much quicker this time).
    Review gameplay by making a hand of either four pungs + pair or three kongs + pair (not 2 pungs and 2 kongs -- the pair is important). Tiles still face-up atop the racks.
    Introduce the walls, use of dice, and the Charleston. Players get comfortable playing basic non-card game.
    Introduce the card.
    Play a game the real way (with walls, dice, card, Charleston) but still putting dealt tiles face-up atop the rack. This one will be painful while people struggle with the new concepts.
    Once people are not struggling with the concepts, graduate them to concealing their tiles. When someone wants to ask for strategic help, she must put her tiles face-up atop the rack because the teaching is for everyone's benefit.
    As the game is played, explain finer points of the rules and answer questions as situations arise. Make sure players understand about the official rules and the existence of table rules, that players have to adapt to different groups.
    By the end of the third lesson, I've usually gone over most of it, and make myself available to help hold their hands as they polish their skills in later lessons as desired by the students.

    That's the way I do it. Now I fear that I've given away my "secret sauce"!
    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.
    Santa Clara, California, USA
    January 19, 2013


    Turn of the century set, part 5

    > From: tony nmax
    > Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 8:22 PM
    > Subject: FW: Turn Of The Century Mahjong Set
    > Dear Tom,
    > Here's some more information
    > From: tonynmax
    > To: sothebysaustralia.com.au
    > Subject: Turn Of The Century Mahjong Set
    > Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 16:28:44 +0930
    > Turn of century mahjong set,
    > Box size 28cm x 18cm 18 cm high,
    > tile size 31mm long
    > 21mm wide
    > 9mm thick bone
    > 5mm thick bamboo 10 mm thick
    > bamboo 10mm thick
    > Box weight 5kg
    > I think the box is sandalwood.
    > Top of box 2 fuo dogs gold gilt
    > handletwo large fenghuang birds gold gilt forming a circle with comb on head and appears to be three legs.

    Hello, tonynmax. When you last wrote to me on October 30 and asked about the value of this set, I told you I didn't have enough information from you and asked you to read FAQ 7H. You still have not given me the most crucial information, which is the condition.
    The condition of the fancy box: is it Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine/Excellent, or As New?
    The condition of the tiles: are they Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine/Excellent, or As New?
    The condition of the other pieces (dice, chips, wind indicators, dice coffin, etc.): are they Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine/Excellent, or As New?
    The condition of the paper materials if any: are they Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine/Excellent, or As New?

    Here's the description of those conditions from FAQ 7H:

  • POOR - Item is not usable, or is only just barely usable, or is unpleasant to use. All defects must be noted.
  • FAIR - Item is utilitarian but not attractive. All defects must be noted.
  • GOOD - Item is worn but reasonably attractive; any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them. All defects must be noted.
  • VERY GOOD - Item has a few defects that any normal person would notice upon close examination. All defects must be noted.
  • FINE or EXCELLENT - Item has only very minor defects which only a purist or expert would notice or care about. These defects must be described in detail.
  • AS NEW or MINT - Item looks the same as when it came from the factory. No defects of any kind (your description should so state).

    I looked back at your previous posts, and I found that your set has no paper materials (so I crossed that item out above), and includes 144 tiles plus some unknown number of extra blank tiles (based on your photos). When I have the necessary information, I can try to give an estimate of the value. As I told you before.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Santa Clara, California, USA
    January 19, 2013


    Can the unused wall remain into the next hand?

    > From: "cindydalm
    > Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 10:17 AM
    > Subject: Mah-jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: If the fourth wall is still intact when the game is over, is it ok to leave it in place for the next game, or should it be taken down and mixed in and rebuilt? Thank you.

    Cincydalm,
    If you were playing Rummy or Uno, and the game ended with part of the deck unused, would you leave that part of the deck untouched and shuffle only the rest of the cards? Of course you would not do that. All tiles must be shuffled, and entirely new walls should be built every hand.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Santa Clara, California, USA
    January 19, 2013


    Tiles wanted

    > From: Henny v
    > Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2013 2:08 AM
    > Subject: looking for a mahjongtile to complete my set...
    > Dear mister Sloper,
    > I found you're website on the internet, and found it very interesting. Maybe you , as expert can give me advice or help me.
    > i bought 2 beautifull Chinese Butterscotch mahjong sets. Both are waver sets (two-tone). But both had damaged tiles. De first set a from the 60s I think is a butterscotch-pink waverset which had 14 tiles where the bakelite was cracked. but I was able to glue them together and its a very nice, playable set now. We play this game with friends ones every two weeks.
    > The second set, with slightly bigger tiles, is a butterscotch-green set, where only 4 backside (the green part) was loose, so gluing that did the trick. But 1 tile the 90.000 (in japanese kyu-man) hehe, was missing so the owner tried to fix that by scratching the characters in a blank tile. But this was done very bad, so i though lets try to do that better. The scratches were not deep so i shaved only a thin layer of to do the carving better myself. But to my surprise the inside is not butterscotch but white. So it was not possible to restore that one in a way that it matches the other 3.
    > So the question, do you know where to get or post a message in order to find this tile ? I can send you a picture.
    > Hope to hear from you,
    > Henny

    Goedemorgen, Henny.
    I have two bulletin boards you should check out. One of them is the "Tiles Wanted" board, and the other is the "Tiles For Sale" board. You should read them both. You don't need to post on "Tiles Wanted" until after you've contacted sellers without success. If you scroll up and look at the left side of the screen, you'll find the links to those bulletin boards. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you -- literally. Greetz,
    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.
    Santa Clara, California, USA
    January 19, 2013


    A couple questions (NMJL, presumably)

    > From: "Jimfloc
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 7:23 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If 2 players called for the same tile for a Mah Jongg but one said it and began to display her tiles does the player next in turn still get the Mah Jongg?
    > second question: Can you be called dead if you call for a tile and place it in your rack with your other tiles prior to showing your exposure?
    > thanks, Flo

    Hi, Flo. You wrote:

    If 2 players called for the same tile for a Mah Jongg but one said it and began to display her tiles does the player next in turn still get the Mah Jongg?
    If I was the 2nd player, I'd just show my tiles too. It's not a race to see who can expose tiles first. Read 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 ).

    Can you be called dead if you call for a tile and place it in your rack with your other tiles prior to showing your exposure?
    There's a recent ruling from the NMJL on this. See FAQ 19K. This rule applies to claiming a discard for mah-jongg, not for a single exposure. The League has not issued a rule on that. So it depends on whether or not you're playing in a tournament, and whether or not there is an existing rule set by either the tournament or the hostess against putting a taken discard into the hand.

    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
    January 16, 2013


    Tips for a tournament player, part 3

    > From: Diane J
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 6:38 PM
    > Subject: Thank you.
    > I usually do what you suggest. Just wanted to be sure I was right or if there was something different I should do. Play the same way in Texas Hold'em Tournaments. Watching the people at the table it so important. Thanks again.
    > Diane

    Good luck, Diane!
    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
    January 15, 2013


    Website attacked a second time

    This website was hacked and infected again early the morning of January 15. The malicious code that was injected into the pages is (as I understand it) code that could redirect a visitor to another site where bad things could happen. I don't know more than that at present.
    I took steps to clean the malicious code off the site, so it's now safe to be here (as of 5:30 PM January 15th).
    May the tiles be with you. Not malware.
    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
    January 15, 2013


    Tips for a tournament player, part 2

    > From: Diane J
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 5:59 AM
    > Subject: Re: Tournament play
    > Thank you for your response, but I was hoping for a more specfic answer. I'm always aware of the rules of individual tournaments. I was interested in your strategy regarding what hands you would play in a tournament. Play the tiles you're dealt or try to play concealed or high point hands only in order to accumulate points.
    > Diane

    Hi, Diane. You wrote:

    I was hoping for a more specfic answer.
    I was hoping for a more specific question! But now you have asked one...

    your strategy regarding what hands you would play in a tournament. Play the tiles you're dealt or try to play concealed or high point hands only in order to accumulate points.
    Mostly the former, but always with an eye towards the latter. I don't use different strategy in a tournament than I use in other situations.
    The most important strategy tip I can think of is to remember that the people you're playing against are not your usual opponents. They have different "tells" and different habits. Always pay attention to what's going on around the table. Listen closely as always, but watch the table more closely than usual.

    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
    January 15, 2013


    NMJL 1941: how many tiles?

    > From: Paul C
    > Sent: Monday, January 14, 2013 2:11 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: looking for rules for a 1941 card...no flowers, how many tiles were used?

    Hi Paul,
    If you take a look at column #509, you'll see that the National Mah Jongg League didn't start requiring extra flowers until 1943. So in 1941 it was just the standard 8 flowers in the set, so the standard 144 tiles total.

    I happen to have a 1941-42 card. It says right on it "Eight Flowers," so if you have the same card as me, I don't know why you're saying "no flowers"? On the back it says flowers "can never be discarded" and there's a bonus for making a hand with no flowers. F is not shown as a part of any hand on the front of the card because flowers were wild then.
    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
    January 14, 2013


    Tips for a tournament player?

    > From: Diane J
    > Sent: Monday, January 14, 2013 3:55 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: What tips would you give to a tournament mah jongg player?

    Wow, that's a broad open question. For a first-time tournament goer, I advise... wait, I just got another email...

    >From: Diane J
    >Sent: Monday, January 14, 2013 3:57 PM
    >Subject: Tournament play
    >What advise or tips would you give to a tournament player? I play in many tournaments and would appreciate your thoughts.
    >Thank you.
    >Diane

    What? If you are already a tournament goer, what kind of advice could you possibly need from me? The only thing I can think of is "listen carefully to the rules." Each tournament organizer has slightly different rules, and you don't want your usual habits to get you penalized, or worse, called dead. If there's something in particular you want advice about, you're welcome to ask again.
    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
    January 14, 2013


    The timing of a death challenge

    > From: Chris H
    > Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2013 2:42 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If player A made her exposure when her hand was still alive, but after player B discards a tile, it's obvious that player A's hand in now dead. Can you challenge player A? Or does the challenge have too occur right after player A makes an exposure?
    > Chris H

    Hi, Chris.
    You can make a death challenge anytime. The rules do not specify any required timing for a death challenge. But I do not understand what your player A's fatal error was (that part of your question was not clear). If player A makes a fatal error, you can call her dead during another player's turn, or between turns, or whenever.
    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
    January 12, 2013


    Looking for a retreat

    > From: Sara W
    > Sent: Friday, January 11, 2013 6:24 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > We three gals would like to learn Mah-jongg. We have spent a weekend with a book playing open tiled games, so we understand the broad concepts but certainly not enough to enter tournaments. We would frustrate seasoned players.
    > Do you know of a two to four day retreat somewhere in Eastern US where we can be immersed in Mah-jongg instruction and practice? For beginners?
    > Thank you for your consideration.
    > Sara
    > Sent from my ████

    Hi, Sara. I never heard of anybody teaching mah-jongg in a retreat or "camp" format. You can look for teachers in FAQ 4A and the Find Players/Teachers bulletin board, and you should read FAQ 15 also. You can link to those parts of my site 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
    1/11/2013


    May the bettor speak? (part 3)

    > From: Sonya R
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 7:40 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > I guess I missed that. Thanks very much for your answer and your patience. Your website is very interesting and set up very well. Will forward this to my game. Happy tiles to you as well

    You're welcome, Sonya. (^_^)
    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
    January 9, 2013


    May the bettor speak? (part 2)

    > From: Sonya R
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 5:03 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > I have read all I can regarding a hand being dead, but my question remains, can the better call a hand dead or must she keep quiet if no one else realizes it.

    Sonya, I guess you missed where FAQ 19W says: "The bettor is not allowed to say anything until after all players have made payment." That answers your question, does it 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
    January 9, 2013


    May the bettor speak?

    > From: Sonya R
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 3:15 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > We play with a fifth who is the better. Can the better declare a dead hand during the game.
    > Not taking other hands into account of course but only if she sees the hand is dead and no one else declares declared it dead.

    Hi, Sonya.
    Very easy! Just look in the official NMJL rulebook on pages 20-21 for the bettor rules. Or if you have my book, see pp. 66-67 (rules 118-130), and pp. 124-125 for the bettor rules. Or, if you don't have either of those books (and believe me, every table needs a rulebook), you are lucky -- you can read Frequently Asked Question 19W right here on my website!
    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
    January 9, 2013


    Winning by discard, part 3

    > From: Mary Lou S
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:52 AM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > SORRY - cancel that last question about Single Wait and Melded Hand.
    > I get it - finally!
    > Mary Lou

    Great! But I already answered it. Guess I shouldn't be so quick!
    Have fun, and... 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
    January 8, 2013


    Winning by discard, part 2

    > From: Mary Lou S
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:33 AM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Okay, sorry I missed the "Melded Hand" option. But, then is the only difference between a "Melded Hand" and a "Single Wait" a possible concealed kong in the "Single Wait"?

    Mary Lou, with Melded Hand, you have four exposed sets, waiting with one tile for its mate. Everybody can see that you have four exposed sets, and you are holding one lonely tile. With Single Wait, nobody can tell that you are waiting to complete a pair, because one or more of your completed sets are concealed within the hand.
    Then there is the scenario I'm guessing you're referring to, in which you are holding just one lonely tile because all your sets are exposed except for one "concealed kong," which is melded face-down. That hand would not qualify for Melded Hand, but would qualify for Single Wait.
    Melded Hand can only be earned with a discard. Single Wait can be earned with either a discard or a self-picked 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
    January 8, 2013


    Winning by discard (MCR)

    > From: Mary Lou S
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 8:03 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Please forgive me if you've answered this before, but I did try to read your previous answers to questions and did not find it.
    > I am confused about the win by discard. In your book, you mention on page 175 a certain way of going out you call "Winning by discard" (1st complete paragraph and also indicate this on page185 under "Robbing the Kong" but you don't seem to cover this in the scoring fan. Is there such a thing in the official Chinese mahjong as Winning by Discard when all the player's entire hand has been made by discards (as you describe on pg 175)? Also, on p. 175 under "Scoring Basics" #3, you again mention winning by discard. Is this just the last tile for mahjong or all the sets on the winning hand as you seem to describe in the above 1st full paragraph of that page?
    > Thanks,
    > Mary Lou S

    Hi, Mary Lou. It's always cool to hear from someone who has my book!
    Not all wins by discard are of value (adding value to the winner's score). You cited several places where I mentioned winning by discard:

    you mention on page 175 a certain way of going out you call "Winning by discard" (1st complete paragraph
    Yes, it says "Winning by discard is valuable only when the rest of the player's hand had also been made by discards." That's a reference to fan #53, Melded Hand. There was a discussion with Ray about Melded Hand in December (below).

    and also indicate this on page185 under "Robbing the Kong"
    Because some people who rob the kong to win think that they can call it "self-pick" and claim increased score thereby. By specifying that robbing the kong is treated as win by discard, the WMO is saying "no, you don't get no extra score for self-pick in this case."

    but you don't seem to cover this in the scoring fan. Is there such a thing in the official Chinese mahjong as Winning by Discard when all the player's entire hand has been made by discards (as you describe on pg 175)?
    See fan #53, Melded Hand. The only case where winning by discard increases the value of the win.

    on p. 175 under "Scoring Basics" #3, you again mention winning by discard. Is this just the last tile for mahjong
    Yes. The only thing "winning by discard" refers to is "how you obtained the tile that gave you mah-jongg." I notice that you have capitalized each word ("Winning by Discard") - but winning by discard really does not rise to the level that it deserves such treatment. Melded Hand is worth 6 points. But winning by discard is only a tool that enables Melded Hand.

    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
    January 8, 2013


    Please give me your opinion, part 2

    >From: D P
    >Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 8:53 PM
    >Subject: Re: Dan Mahjon q & a@
    >Thank you for the quick response.
    >The reason I asked about import to England was the
    >trade between the British,and a castle on the box , not
    >an oriental design.Thought maybe it was common and
    >you had seen before.
    > A few of the sticks have damaged ends and the only
    >are 3 dice and 2 round discs. There are 4 blank tiles,
    >no jokers and 4 flower tiles.
    > I added the requested photo's.
    > THANK YOU Dan

    Hello, Dan. These pictures are exactly what I needed -- they prove that, as I expected, the box is not original to the set. Mah-jongg manufacturers always make the box to fit the tiles, and your box obviously was not made for those tiles. Maybe it's a jewelry box or something.

    I still cannot give you a valuation, though, because you still have not given me the information I need. See FAQ 7H again, please. The FAQs 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
    January 7, 2013


    Please give me your opinion

    > From: D P
    > Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 6:30 PM
    > Subject: Dan Mahjon q & a@
    > Hi, my name is Dan and I was hoping you would look at
    > this set and give me your opinion..
    > I bought this in Pennsylvania at an estate sale this year.
    > The box looks like burl with brass trim and a 5 1/5 in by
    > 5 in embroidery of a castle and trees. The castle is all
    > bead needlework, hundreds of tiny beads. In fair condition,has
    > cracks and brass trim missing.,Hinges and lock work well.
    > Tiles are 1 1/2 by 3/4 in wide and 7/16 tall. I think of bone
    > and bamboo.. Missing 1 #5 Crak and 1 #3 Bam, but have
    > 4 spare blank tiles, for a total of 146 tiles.
    > As far as sticks,bone, 6 red #5's, 35 black #6,39 black#2
    > sticks,34 red #1 sticks. Only a few with chips.
    > 3 small dice, and 2 round chips,
    > I have no idea what I have here. Can you please tell me
    > what period you think they are from,were they an import
    > to England? what do you think it is worth?
    > I thank you for any and all help you might have.
    > Respectfully Dan

    Hello, Dan. You wrote:

    Can you please tell me
    > what period you think they are from,
    The tiles were made in the 1920s. The box I'm not so sure.

    I bought this in Pennsylvania... were they an import
    > to England?
    I'm confused. Why do you ask about England?

    what do you think it is worth?
    You haven't given me enough information. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 7H.
    Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). I can't valuate a set without the information specified in the FAQ.

    Also, I don't understand these words that you said:
    Only a few with chips.
    > 3 small dice, and 2 round chips,
    I think you may have used the word "chips" to mean two different things there. Are you saying that some of the sticks are damaged? Please have a look at FAQs 7D and 7E to identify your parts and tiles.

    Also, I think that the box is not original to the set. To be certain, I would need a picture of the set while it's actually IN the box. Do this: if the set is already in the box, put the box on the table and open the box, and take a picture of it. If the set is not in the box, put the set in the box (with tiles face-up, not face-down, and arranged as per the picture in FAQ 7H, or as close to it as you can manage given the dimensions of the tiles and box), make sure the lid can be closed, then open the lid and take a picture.

    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
    January 7, 2013


    A discard was misnamed, and then...

    > From: Jacqueline D
    > Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 4:34 PM
    > Subject: MahJongg question
    > Hello,
    > My MahJongg group met today and an incident occurred which we did not how to handle.
    > Player A discarded a tile and miscalled it (9 bam which was actually a 9 dot). Player B then pick up a tile from the wall (thinking the tile was 9 bam) and looked at it. At that moment Player A corrected herself with the correct tile's name (9 dot). Player B then wanted the 9 dot when she heard the correction. How should this play proceed? Could player B put the tile back and then take the 9 dot. If not, is Player A penalized in any way?
    > Thank you.
    > Jacqueline D

    Hi, Jacqueline.
    Player B cannot take the discard. She committed to taking the wall tile when she lifted it from the wall. See Frequently Asked Question 19AM. She erred by not looking (and only listening), so it's her own fault that she can't call the discard.
    And there is no penalty for player A since the game was not fatally ruined (nobody wanted either 9B or 9D for mah-jongg). Read FAQ 19AY2. 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
    January 7, 2013


    P versus B, part 2

    >From: Michael Stanwick
    >Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 12:46 PM
    >Subject: 'B'
    >Hello Tom. I was intrigued by your posters questions regarding the geographical orogins of "B" and "P".
    >The Japanese MJ Museum book has a set in which the white 'Dragon' has a 'B' on it. They say that the set was made in Hong Kong. They state "Old tiles of Hong Kong type with which the index of White Dragon is "B" (Baipan) instead of "P" and that of Red Dragon is "R" (Red Dragon) instead of of "C"."
    >This seems to me to be suggesting that the "B" might be indicative of Hong Kong?
    >Regards
    >Michael Stanwick
    >Sent from my ████

    Happy new year, Michael.
    That's possible. I don't remember why I believe that my B set is from Taiwan. Maybe there was something about that in the accompanying instruction booklet. I also recall that my Taiwanese friends called the white dragon "baiban," which tied in. My ex (who was from HK) said "bak" ("baak6 baan2" per FAQ 7E). Now I'm thinking that P is older, maybe not regional at all. Remember that Beijing used to be Peking, and Ningbo used to be Ningpo.
    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
    January 7, 2013


    P versus B and locality

    > From: Chip B
    > Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 8:03 AM
    > Subject: Simple question for ID purposes
    > Hi Tom,
    > On your 7h FAQ page there is a "standard Chinese" MJ set. The P on the "White Dragon" tile is a characteristic of what area of China?
    > It is a "pin yin" thing to Romanize the sounds of HanZi (chinese characters). P & B sound alike so, sometimes it's P, sometimes B. Can you tell me the area where that set was made and when? I am interested in the use of P as in Yunnan Paiyao (a medicine used for saving lives due to trauma and internal bleeding). It may have some local significance and I have a set just like it and can get some local sets from Yunnan where I visit. Maybe, I can get some local history and a timeline.
    > I know the set is common, it's more about the use of P vs. B.
    > Being a doctor of Oriental Medicine and having trained in China and being the only anglo member of the 300 Chinese practitioners of TCM in Florida, I can help you get what ever you need translated easily. We have members from Taiwan, Mainland, and probably most of the rest of Asia.
    > Thank you for all your hard work. I really appreciate what you have "provided" for our education. Perhaps, I can help you someday.
    > --
    > Dr. Chip B

    Hi, Chip. You wrote:

    On your 7h FAQ page there is a "standard Chinese" MJ set.
    That particular set is a pulverized/reconstituted fishbone set of modern (1990s) origin.

    The P on the "White Dragon" tile is a characteristic of what area of China?
    That's a good question. I don't know if it is an indicator of set origin from a particular area or not, much less what area it might be from. Maybe someone who knows will see this and write back. I think the B tile pictured below is from Taiwan (the P tile is from that fishbone set depicted in FAQ 7H).

    I can help you get what ever you need translated easily.... Thank you for all your hard work.
    Thanks, I appreciate that!

    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
    January 7, 2013


    Mistakenly said mah-jongg when calling a discard

    > From: shirley k
    > Sent: Sunday, January 6, 2013 11:54 AM
    > Subject: Calling+ Maj Jong by mistake
    > I had a hand of consecutive numbers two (5's) two (6's) two (7's), three (8's) and 2 (9's & 1 joker). I called for a discarded 9 and called Maj Jong. After I put the 2 (9's) and joker, plus the discarded (9) on my rack, I realized I didn't have enough 7's; so I said I couldn't call
    > Maj jong, and I declared or my hand dead and no longer played and also put the 9's and joker that was on my rack back in my hand?.
    > Could I have continued playing and left the 9's with the discarded 9 and joker on the rack and continued playing? All I needed to Maj was a third 7. Should I not have declared myself dead because all I exposed were the 9's and one joker?
    > Question 2: After I called my hand dead was I suppose to expose my entire hand to the other players and then put it back in my rack; in order for them to see what I had in the first place?
    > I hope I explained this properly.
    > Shirley

    Hi, Shirley. You wrote:

    I realized I didn't have enough 7's; so I said I couldn't call
    > Maj jong, and I declared or my hand dead and no longer played
    Well, technically, you are not supposed to declare yourself dead -- read Frequently Asked Question 19AC (scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). But you'd exposed after saying "mah-jongg." Since you'd only put up one set, completed by the discard, you could have just changed your call to "take."

    and also put the 9's and joker that was on my rack back in my hand?.
    No, you're not allowed to put an exposed set back into the hand -- unless somebody called you dead because it is clearly an illegal exposure. A kong of nines is not illegal. It should have stayed up. Read FAQ 19AA.

    Could I have continued playing and left the 9's with the discarded 9 and joker on the rack and continued playing?
    Yes.

    After I called my hand dead was I suppose to expose my entire hand to the other players and then put it back in my rack
    No. You shouldn't have called yourself dead in the first place. Here's what should have happened:

    1- You say "mah-jongg" erroneously, and put the taken tile atop your rack, accompanied by all your other tiles.
    2- A sick feeling hits your stomach as you realize that you've gone and exposed your hand and you don't have a necessary pung (there's an alien tile in there, OR you only have 2 tiles, meaning your hand has too few tiles).
    3- Somebody else looks at your hand and says, "Hey, that's no good. You're dead."
    4- Then you put those erroneously exposed tiles back into your rack (including the taken discard, unless somebody else wants it for mah-jongg, in which case she wins).

    The problem can arise when at step 3, nobody else says "you're dead." In your case, you only put up a few of your tiles (and they made one legal exposure). So you should not have said you were dead.

    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
    January 6, 2013


    How can I get my set appraised, part 3

    > From: Peter G
    > Sent: Sunday, January 6, 2013 7:01 AM
    > Subject: Re: Mahjong game
    > Tom: I've sent you some pictures of the case, instruction booklet, counting pamphlet. Will these pictures help you make a better estimate of the value of the Mah Jong set? Thanks, Pete Griffin

    Not really, Pete. Only three of the twelve you sent are of interest. The picture of the case exterior confirms that its condition is only fair to good. The picture of the scoring table confirms that it, too, pertains to the Japanese game. I zoomed in on the picture of the copyright page of your Kanai and Farrell, and that reveals that the set was made no earlier than 1961 -- definitely shooting down your "during WWII" theory. Another mark against the "during WWII" theory is that no Japanese company would have been making products for export to English-speaking countries during that war, of course.
    I'm convinced that the set was made in Japan, no earlier than 1961, and my previous valuation stands.
    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
    January 6, 2013


    How can I get my set appraised, part 2

    > From: Peter G
    > Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2013 2:33 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mahjong game
    > Tom:
    > Can you give me an idea what this Mah Jong set is worth? As I stated in posting, I believe my father brought this home from Japan during WW II, never saw it out or saw him play it. I believe it has never been used, tiles are perfect, no dirt or smudges, bamboo backs are curved, show the grain and appear to have a finish on them as well. The counting bar dots appear to have been marked by hand. Here goes: I have 4 wooden racks, very grainy, 12 Color tiles, 36 Bamboo tiles, 36 Ball tiles, 36 Won tiles, 16 Wind tiles, 4 dice still in original wrapper, 98 counting bars, and 28 tiles not shown in the instruction booklet. The instruction booklet, "Mah Jong for Beginners," and pamphlet, "Count Table and Counting Points." The case is wooden covered with an alligator pattern, one edge of case is frayed. The case is lined with green felt, the tile boxes are also lined with green felt, no cuts or tears. One note is that the instruction booklet states this(instruction booklet) is a special, economy edition prepared for Futami Kogeisha to be included in their mah jong sets, and not not be offered for sale, thought that was interesting. I have attached photos for your viewing, if you enlarge the photo with the complete set, you are able to move the picture around to view all the tile sets. Tried to send individual tile set pictures but exceeded memory. Hope this be okay.
    > Thanks, Pete G

    Hello, Pete. You wrote:

    12 Color tiles
    I was puzzled by this terminology until I opened my copy of Kanai & Farrell and learned that this refers to what most Westerners call "the dragon tiles."

    and 28 tiles not shown in the instruction booklet.
    It would be helpful if I knew exactly what those tiles were. I'm surprised FAQ 7H didn't refer you to FAQ 7B (the breakdown of a tile set) and FAQ 7E ("Mystery tiles") so you could identify your tiles. I guess I'd better fix FAQ 7H. I saw in one of your pictures that your set has a lot of flower tiles, and at least two jokers:

    Since you didn't give me a count, I'll have to assume that there are only two jokers, two extra blanks, and 24 flowers. Since your tile has jokers and racks and Western indices, it appears that your set was made to be sold in America.

    The instruction booklet, "Mah Jong for Beginners,"... is a special, economy edition prepared for Futami Kogeisha to be included in their mah jong sets, and not not be offered for sale, thought that was interesting.
    Yes, the Kanai and Farrell book, reduced to pack-in size. It's not particularly interesting, other than that its inclusion might mean that this set was made in Japan. I would need to see that "count table" that you mentioned.

    The case is wooden covered with an alligator pattern, one edge of case is frayed.
    Wish you would have included a photo of that. Without it, I'll have to assume that the condition of the case is somewhere between "good" and "fair."

    if you enlarge the photo with the complete set, you are able to move the picture around to view all the tile sets.
    Yes, I zoomed in on it to make that closeup of the jokers above.

    Tried to send individual tile set pictures but exceeded memory.
    I didn't need those photos of the scoring sticks. Seeing the One Dot tile would have been helpful.

    an idea what this Mah Jong set is worth?
    Well, let's see. Case is only fair to good, but the contents are excellent. When you wrote me yesterday, you said there were 164 tiles (lots of extra flowers, and two manufactured joker tiles), and paper materials that might indicate Japanese origin for the set. That type of tile (with the bamboo backs) is typical of Japanese sets, so it probably is Japanese. By the way, those paper materials, if original to the set, date the set to no earlier than 1952 (several years after WWII ended). The wooden racks aren't up to today's playing standards; a purchaser of the set could sticker enough jokers to play American mah-jongg. But I noticed that there are no corner indices on the bams (and I assume there are none on the dots). So it does have some value for players of American mah-jongg, but not as much value as a new set. I'd guess a value of somewhere between $70 and $90.

    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
    January 5, 2013


    Color blindness and the NMJL card

    > From: Wendy R
    > Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2013 10:46 AM
    > Subject: Mah Jong Question
    > Hi,
    > I bought my 10-year old son a set for Christmas and we started trying to figure out how to play American Mah Jong. I played Chinese Mah Jong years ago in college, but forgot most of the rules, so we started to learn American. I didn't realize that American used published hands each year. We figured out the game, but my son is color blind and cannot read the card to distinguish between the bams, craks, and dragons on the card. He's severely red/green color blind. Are there any cards available that do not depend on colors only to distinguish the winning hands? Your advice would be much appreciated. He really enjoys it, but is quite frustrated with his "disability".
    > Thanks,
    > Wendy R
    > If the reader of this email is not the intended recipient(s), please be advised that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this information is strictly prohibited.

    Hi, Wendy.
    If I remember correctly from my high school science class, color blindness is much rarer among females than it is among males. The NMJL game's target audience is primarily females, and I have no idea how many inquiries the League gets about how color blind players can get around the way their card is designed (or if they make a color blind version or even a braille version of the card). I suppose you would need to come up with a systematic way of marking the card yourself. But why don't you contact the League and ask them what they recommend? If no good solution can be found, maybe your son would enjoy an un-American variant of 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
    January 5, 2013

    "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public.


    Malware, part 2 (was: Virus warning)

    > From: "deanh
    > Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2013 9:25 AM
    > Subject: Avast says some columns still have malware
    > Hi, Tom
    > Your latest strategy column, and several before it, are flagged by Avast as infected with JS:Iframe-XJ (I hope I spelled it right.) Earlier columns and the Bulletin Board seem OK.
    > This appears to be a hard one to eliminate, so it's possible you need to do something else to get rid of it. (If it's the same problem as before.)
    > With sympathy, not anger,
    > Dean

    Hi Dean,
    Thanks for alerting me to that. I looked, and those pages are not infected. So then my next question (I asked myself) was, who or what is Avast, and why do they or does it think my site is still infected? So I Googled it and found that it's anti-virus software. And I thought about why an anti-virus program might think that my site is still infected. I came up with three possibilities:
    1. Maybe you visited my site during those five hours on December 30. If so, then maybe if you clear your cache, that'll remove the alert.
    2. Maybe Avast works with a database of infected sites, and my site's temporary infection was noticed and added to the database.
    3. Maybe my site was mirrored during the infection period, and the mirrored (infected) pages continued to hang on in some server somewhere, even after I removed the infection from the primary server.
    I don't know if any of those is really behind the malware warning your anti-virus program is giving you, but at some point it should clear itself up. Especially if you clear your cache, then visit the site with a different browser or a different computer. I don't think there's anything I can do at the moment. I suppose I could download and install the free version of Avast myself, and see what happens. But I'm not convinced that I really need to.
    * Thanks again for letting me know.
    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
    January 5, 2013

    *Follow-up: later on Jan. 5, I found that indeed the most recent columns (which were in a subfolder that I'd missed) were still infected. I was wrong, and Avast was right. But the columns are now clean.


    What if someone, part 2

    > From: Colleen
    > Sent: Friday, January 4, 2013 8:50 PM
    > Subject: RE: Knockingover wall Question?
    > Hi Tom, In the interim, I spoke to Gladys. She indicated that hiding is not acceptable. The wall is to be rebuilt exactly or as close as possible as to not change the outcome of the game. The only exception would be during the initial handout of the tiles before anyone has looked at their tiles. Colleen

    Okay. You got my answer, and you got Gladys' answer. If you also want the official League answer, I recommend you get it in writing.
    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
    January 4, 2013


    What if someone inadvertently knocks over a wall?

    > From: Colleen
    > Sent: Friday, January 4, 2013 11:52 AM
    > Subject: Knockingover wall Question?
    > Hello, Sorry if a duplicate. I looked all over the site but did not see.
    > If a player inadvertently knocks over a wall, do you return exposed tiles to the wall as they were or as close as they were, or do you hide the exposed tile(s)? I am in favor of the first (as they were) but I am playing with lots of ladies who “hide" the tile(s).
    > Thanks in advance….Colleen

    Hi Colleen,
    I'm going out on a limb and guessing that you're talking about American-style mah-jongg. I have never seen anything in writing on this from the National Mah Jongg League. So the answer has to be: "it depends." If it happens in a tournament, and it was only 1 or 2 tiles knocked over, the tournament judge might okay simply putting the tiles back where they were -- or if it was more than just a couple tiles, she would probably insist that the hand be thrown in and replayed. Burying/mixing tiles to randomly rebuild the wall might not be kosher in a tournament setting.
    In a home setting, majority rules -- do what the majority feels right with, since there is no written rule. If it's a home setting and the table is evenly split on what to do, most people will go along with what the most forceful personality says. You could always flip a coin, too.
    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
    January 4, 2013


    How can I get my set appraised?

    > From: Peter G
    > Sent: Friday, January 4, 2013 6:09 AM
    > Subject: Mahjong game
    > I have my father's Mahjong set, which I believe he brought home from Japan after WW
    > II. It has 164 tiles, 84 counting tiles, 4 dice still in the original
    > packing, 4 counting trays, instruction booklet,count table booklet. It is
    > in a wooden hinged box, covered with brown paper with alligator scale
    > pattern. To my knowledge the game has never been played, never saw him use
    > it. How can I get it appraised? Pete G

    Hi, Pete.
    I can valuate your set for you. Please read Frequently Asked Question 7H.
    Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like 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
    January 4, 2013


    Ting Yong (was: Mystery Tiles)

    > From: Ray
    > Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2013 4:44 AM
    > Subject: Ting Yong
    > Hi Tom,
    > I thought you may be interested in the following reference to the Ting Yong (聽用) tile, the unusual Mah Jong tile discussed on the Q&A Bulletin Board three or four weeks ago now (See Stefan's question, December 9th). The reference is a quote from Yang Shangkun.
    > My view of the information in the reference that follows below, implies that the Ting Yong tile must have been more widely recognised in the past than it is now, otherwise referring to the tile in the way that Yang did would have not meant anything to his audience. As Yang was from the Sechuan Province, it could be inferred that the tile was used in this area, but equally as Yang was well travelled, that may be over stating things a tad!
    > Well, here's the reference, with a translation made in context rather than literal...your readers may need to look closely to spot Ting Yong, unless they are good at spotting Chinese Characters (simplified characters are being used, so Ting Yong is showing as "听用")!
    > http://cppcc.people.com.cn/GB/71578/12712870.html
    >办公厅主任的工作像一张麻将牌,就是“听用”,党需要你干什么就干什么
    >  杨尚昆自1945年10月接替李富春任中央书记处办公厅主任,在中办主任的岗位上默默耕耘20载。谈及中办的工作,杨尚昆说:“打麻将不是有一张可以当做任意一种牌使用的‘听用’吗?办公厅主任的工作也是‘听用’,党需要你干什么就干什么.
    > So, this is Yang Shangkun referring to his time at the end of the 2nd World War. Being a senior leader in the communist party at that time, he described his role main role as "Ting Yong" in the Mahjong game, i.e. listen and obey to what Party Authority requires.
    > He says that although he was in the most senior positions, there were other influences (the populace, the Party and those behind the scenes pulling the strings, or " The Men in Suits" as we call them!) that the leader must accommodate and so must change to reflect those influences. Hence the reference to the Ting Yong tile, a tile that can adapt to be whatever it is needed to be (that is, in our terminology, a Joker).
    > Yang was a senior member of the Communist Party, but fell out with Mao and was held in various prisons for many years. Released by Deng Xiaoping, Yang modernised the Chinese army and later became President, a largely symbolic position. Yang also went through a complete U-turn change over Tiananmen Square protests; he was initially in support of the students, but changed to be very much against the students when it was clear that the Premier was determined to crack down hard on the protests. Another example of how Yang was influenced in his behaviour.
    > Regards
    > Ray Heaton

    Hi, Ray. Yes, the ting yong tile (left) has different writing than the bai da tile (right)...

    ...but they are similar in function. Both are wild tiles, or jokers (although they might differ in terms of which tiles they may be used to stand in for). In my younger days, I held a job at a Boy Scout summer camp as "A.D.T." -- that stood for "any damned thing." I was there to do any sort of job that needed doing (rather than having been hired for a particular job). In a sense, then, I was a "wild card" camp counselor. I mention this because it is sort of a different way of thinking of what a joker is. American players tend to think of joker tiles as "powerful," when in actuality the tiles themselves are simply (as the Chinese say) "useful." It appears that Yang Shangkun is saying he was a sort of "A.D.T." in the Chinese hierarchy.

    But I guess the point you were making is that, since Yang drew a parallel between his Any Damn Thingness and the ting yong tile, that shows that that tile was not an obscure thing in China when he said it (sometime after 1945), otherwise he wouldn't have drawn the parallel. Okay. I wonder when Yang said that, but since Mao outlawed mah-jongg when he took power, I suppose the parallel would have to refer to times before the game was outlawed, thus I suppose the ting yong tile would have been known before Mao took control in 1949.

    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
    January 3, 2013


    The League's new rule (was: "why isn't this a rule violation")

    >From: Gladys at Mah Jongg
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 4:30 PM
    >Subject: racking a claimed discarded tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >Uh Oh, looks like there is a difference of opinion. Thought you’d like to see what’s going on in light of the recent NMJL bulletin.
    >Following is an email I received (among many) asking about the rule we are enforcing at our tournaments...and our response:
    >Just got the NMJL Bulletin for 2013.
    >Q: "A player called for a discard and declared Mah Jongg. She put the discard in her rack amongst her other tiles and then made her full exposure for Mah Jongg. Is this acceptable?"
    >A. "Yes..a player may pick up the discard, put it amongst her other tiles in her hand and then put up all 14 tiles for Mah Jongg."
    >Why then is is not acceptable at the tournament? Why are you called "dead" if you do this?
    >I thought the tournament follows the NMJL rules. (Nahnananana)
    >RESPONSE:
    >Since the NMJL bulletin came out, we’ve had to respond to this issue a lot in the past few days.
    >Unfortunately, we have experienced a method of “cheating" in tournaments that directly relates to this rule. Several East and Northeast coast tournaments have been using this rule for a long time; and even though we’ve hesitated to use it for several years, we feel that now is the time to enforce the rule.
    >TOURNAMENT RULE: If you claim a discarded tile for an exposure or for Mah Jongg, you must place the claimed tile ON your rack - not in your rack.
    >Tournament play, by its very nature, has to be more stringent with the rules. Our rationale for requiring you to place the claimed tile ON the rack- is that a claimed tile must be verified by the other players. After taking the discarded tile you claimed ON your rack – then everyone else has an opportunity to verify that this was the same tile that was discarded.
    >On the other hand, if you put a tile you picked from the table into your rack, moved your tiles around, and then exposed.....there is no way to verify that this was the same tile that was discarded. There are players who can do this rather nefarious move very quickly. Therefore, because this is an opportunity to “cheat,"......we now utilize the strict rule in tournament games (where higher prizes may be at stake).
    >As you know, the NMJL focuses on “gracious" and “sociable" games that usually take place in homes and club houses. By putting this rule in their new bulletin, they have now taken the League-position on this rule for social play. We do know they wish to help keep local social games amenable.
    >Unfortunately, although we defer to all-things-NMJL, we very respectfully disagree with them on this.
    >There are a lot of things that tournaments do that may appear to differ from the NMJL’s rules:
    >-requiring that the card be in front of all players during tournament play
    >-timed rounds
    >-bonus hands
    >-point penalties
    >-higher point penalties for giving mah jongg to 2 or 3 exposures
    >-point penalties for peeking at the blind pass
    >-point penalties for “dead" hands
    >-a penalty for not putting your exposed mah jongg hand in order – when requested to do so
    >-verifying scores
    >-replacing a miscalled tile if you have the correct tile in your hand (especially if it is claimed for an exposure)
    >-removing disrespectful and rude players; etc
    >As we strive to establish sanctioned and standardized rules for tournaments, we feel that clear-cut rules contribute so much to add to the credibility and integrity of what we do.
    >Wishing you a Happy New Year.
    >Gladys Grad
    >www.mahjongg.org
    >Visit our website for information on upcoming tournaments, events and cruises.

    Happy new year, Gladys.
    I agree that the new rule is unfortunate and can enable cheating. If I was running a tournament, I would strongly consider negating the League's new rule for the duration of the tournament. If the rule is in force (and not negated), then if anyone suspects cheating, I would ask if the suspected cheater had put taken discards into the hand prior to exposure, and if so, I would let that weigh against the suspected cheater.
    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
    January 2, 2013


    Researching how to build my own MJ set

    >From: Jason N
    >Sent: Monday, December 31, 2012 3:36 AM
    >Subject: Question on MJ
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was looking through your website and amazed with the amount of information that you have managed to put together.
    >I am a regular MJ player and loved this game.
    >I have looked around for many MJ set in the market, but none of them has taken my fancy.
    >Hence, I am doing some research on how I can actually build my own MJ set.
    >Yes, building a MJ set from scratch.
    >I am actually looking for the best tiles materials, best fonts, engraving/carving, colouring and design.
    >Look and feel is very important to me in a MJ game.
    >And it adds joy to the game.
    >Do you happen to have any knowledge that you can share?
    >Is it even possible to build a complete set from scratch?
    >The tools and equipment required?
    >I have briefly broken down the parts that's needs some work on.
    >1) Making the tiles.
    >2) Machine engraving / Manual hand carving
    >3) Colouring
    >4) Design of MJ Fonts
    >Regards,
    >Jason

    Hi, Jason. I agree with you that the look and feel of the tiles is an important aspect of the joy of mah-jongg. You asked:

    Do you happen to have any knowledge that you can share?
    Nope. Sorry. I would recommend you choose a sturdy material that won't easily chip or scratch or dent, and won't deteriorate over time.

    Is it even possible to build a complete set from scratch?
    Anything is possible, except (1) time travel to the past, and (2) the Star Trek holodeck. At the Mahjong Museum in Chiba, Japan, they have a set of aluminum tiles that was hand-crafted by POWs during WWII. I've seen tiles made of stone, bone, ivory, metal, wood, cardboard, and a variety of plastics.

    The tools and equipment required?
    Other than power saws and sanders, you'd need carving tools, I suppose.

    May the tiles be with you. And happy new year!
    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
    New Year's Eve, 2012


    Virus warning

    This website was hacked and infected with what might be a virus at around 12PM Pacific Time today, December 30. I discovered the infection about 4:30, and took immediate action and replaced every infected file with a clean version from backup.
    If you visited this site between 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM Pacific Time, on Sunday December 30, 2012, I urge you to run a virus scan on your computer. You could try Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (free, from Malwarebytes.org) or Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, aka MSRT (also free, from Microsoft). Just Google those, download one, and run it to see if anything is found on your computer.

    The code I found in the webpages (every .htm or .html file) was a javascript called "336988". I have no idea what the script does, but I do know that I did not put it there. I do not know if a visitor would be infected by viewing a web page with that javascript running. But it's better to be safe than sorry. Again: you should do the smart thing, download a virus checker, and make sure your computer is not infected. You should do that in any case, and you should run the check every week at least. I named two virus checkers; there are others too. And of course you should be running some kind of anti-virus software as well.

    If your computer was infected with a virus between 12 and 5 today, it was not my doing. Somebody hacked my site. I have taken steps to clean the site; you should take steps to clean your computer. The miscreant is not me; it is some unknown party.

    May the tiles be with you. Not a virus.
    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
    December 30, 2012


    Can you explain to me exactly what the rules are to play Hot Wall?

    >From: Barabara W
    >Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2012 3:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can you explain to me exactly what the rules are to play Hot Wall?
    >Barbara W

    No, Barbara, I can't. And you know why? Because everybody uses a different Hot Wall rule. It's not part of the written rules. Nobody can explain your group's Hot Wall rule to you but your group. It's what's called a "table rule." You can read about table rules in Frequently Asked Questions 14 & 19Y. 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
    December 30, 2012


    Commentary on column 550

    >From: Dick L
    >Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2012 12:28 PM
    >Subject: column 550
    >Hi Tom,
    >The OIRB and the Green Book have Fan numbers which go in opposite directions. Only a desire to retain the total count at 81 seems to explain why Fan number 57 of the Green Book describes two scoring items: 4 points for "A hand two Melded Kongs" is accompanied with "One Melded Kong and one Concealed Kong are 6 points."
    >I think some of the ambiguity for scoring a hand with lots of CKs starts with the assertion "MK CK" is really Two Melded Kongs combined with Concealed Kong, The exclusionary rule allows only 3 points for b234567 c234567: two short straights and one mixed double chow OR two mixed double chows and one short straight BUT NOT two short straights and two mixed double chows. I think the exclusionary rule supports the conservative scoring advocated by Kugimiya and you (or it might allow one use of Two Concealed Kongs after prior use of Four Concealed Pungs, etc.).
    >FWIW: the MCR Score calculator is programmed to agree with Starback. Here's is a summary (including points for whole hand).
    > CK CK CK CK c d2222 c3333 b5555 d8888 h Wn w Wn 176 (omits 1 for wait)
    > CK CK CK MK c d2222 c3333 b5555 m d8888 h Wn w Wn 120 (omits 1 for wait)
    > CK CK CK CP c d2222 c3333 b5555 h d888 Wn w Wn 115
    > CK CK CK mc c d2222 c3333 b5555 m d678 h Wn w Wn 59
    >The calculator omits 1 point for a Single Wait for each version of a four kong hand.
    >dick


    Are the scoring apps wrong?

    >From: Dick L
    >Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2012 10:43 AM
    >Subject: Two Concealed Pungs with a claimed tile ??
    >Hi Tom,
    >While playing with an MCR app on my iPad, I had melded pungs of 3 and 8 characters and in-hand a pung of East plus pairs of 7 and 9 characters. After drawing a 9 character for Mahjong, I scored this as 6+6+1+1 (half flush, all pungs, pungs of terminal & honor) --- this app also gave 2 points for Two Concealed Pungs (N, c9). Situation string "m c333 c888 h Weee c7799 w c9" for http://mahjonghand.appspot.com/ gives the same score as the app. I think both app and MCR Score Calculator are wrong. I find no ambiguity in published authorities.
    > OIRB (p 9) Two Pungs which are achieved without claiming.
    > Green Book (p 22) Two Pungs achieved without melding.
    > Pritchard (p 112) Two pungs that are achieved without claiming any of those tiles.
    > Sloper (p 189) Hand contains two pungs, made the hard way (without melding).
    > http://mahjong.wikidot.com/rules:chinese-official-scoring
    > Hand includes two concealed pungs. (image shows backs of two face-down triplets)
    >In summary, I had a completed pung in my hand plus two pairs. If my draw from the wall got a tile matching one of the pairs, then I would definitely have Two Concealed Pungs. Even though claiming such a match from a discard gave Mahjong, I don't think the resulting pung qualifies to be one of Two Concealed Pungs. Is there something I'm overlooking?
    >dick

    Yes, Dick. The scoring apps are wrong. If you complete a pung for mah-jongg, that pung is not counted as concealed.
    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
    December 29, 2012


    MCR Last Tile (part 4)

    >From: Dick L
    >Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2012 8:41 AM
    >Subject: Re: "last tile" for MCR
    >Hi Tom,
    > Thanks for both of your replies (& your heads-up email about them). Here's a summary of what I found.
    >Last Tile [4 points] http://mahjong.wikidot.com/rules:chinese-official-scoring
    > "Winning on a tile that is the last of its kind. This fact must be clear based on the visible discards, melds, and the winning player’s hand."
    >The clause "and the winning player's hand" seemed consistent with one interpretation of "all players can plainly see" [when?] on page 187 of Red Dragon & West Wind as well as an earlier version of item 5 in Column 288. Although the OIRB (p 10) has a very explicit statement: "the first three tiles of its kind are in the discard piles or are used in claimed sets", the Green Book (p 21) used more words to be less specific (but did remove the OIRB's strange comment "Points for Robbing the Kong are not added"). Since Beyond the Green Book says "For Last Tile only discarded and melded tiles count ..." (p 8), I infer the change from OIRB to GB should not be construed to support "and the winning player's hand" and I accept your interpretation of current MCR. Thanks, Tom and Ray, for your comments about this.
    >dick

    Hi, Dick.
    Thanks for bringing these sources into the spotlight. You cited mahjong.wikidot.com, so I went to have a look, and saw the wording they used (it's just as you said). I wanted to know the source for their clause "and the winning player's hand," so I dug further into the site. Their listed sources are Pritchard, Jelte Rep, me, the green book, and Mai Hatsune. I checked all those, and the only thing I could find to support their clause "and the winning player's hand" was this, from Pritchard: "The exposed tiles could be a pung (held by the player himself in the above example)..." But then even Pritchard goes on to say, "To qualify for the above hand, the pung of characters must have been exposed earlier..." So while the clause "and the winning player's hand" might have been inspired by Pritchard's first comment, Pritchard's second comment necessitates clarification to the clause. And I'm pleased that your further research has helped cement the correctness of Ray's argument.

    You also mentioned 'the OIRB's strange comment "Points for Robbing the Kong are not added").' That made me think (something I don't do enough of) -- specifically why you said it was strange. Robbing the Kong is 8 points, so of course if someone robbed a kong to win, he'd want the 8 points for that. And if someone robbed a kong, could he claim Last Tile, for an extra 4? No: robbing a kong implies Last Tile. So I suppose the way the OIRB states it is just kind of backwards.

    Happy New Year, Dick. 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
    December 29, 2012


    Why isn't this a rule violation, part 3

    >From: "dmillersmall
    >Cc: s.l████
    >Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2012 7:07 AM
    >Subject: Susan's question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Regarding Susan's question about the NMJL latest ruling (I assume it's from the current bulletin as this is the time they send it out to solicit the new card), I would appreciate if you could contact the league for us sloperama groupies and report back on the bulletin board. FYI, Susan is a former student of mine who I've turned on to your site.
    >She was writing to you from Thailand, and I from a retreat in snow- covered upstate NY where I'm on staff teaching a Mah Jongg class. How lovely that we have this super highway to connect all of us Mah Jongg lovers!
    >Happy New Year,
    >Donna

    I don't know what you want me to ask the League, Donna. I don't have a question I need to ask them. When the new bulletin arrives (probably today), I'll see what the rule is. I'll have the rule in writing.
    To me, the rules are important, but rationales for rules are not.
    If Susan wants the League to justify the rationale behind a rule or the nonexistence of a rule, she should write the League 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
    December 29, 2012

    Note: after receiving the 2013 bulletin this afternoon (confirming the rule change mentioned by Susan below), I made changes in FAQ 19K & 19AA, and the errata for The Red Dragon & The West Wind . RDWW owners, please download the latest errata file by following the link.


    Why isn't this a rule violation, part 2

    >From: Dr Susan L
    >Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2012 1:20 AM
    >Subject: Reply to your question
    >Hi Tom
    >I wrote to you earlier today about a Q&A in the current NMJL newsletter regarding racking vs exposing a called tile and whether or not the platter is called dead Thank you for the speedy reply
    >To answer your question, that Q&A came from the January 2013 newsletter So i would guess that you should see it in your own mailbox soon
    >Susan
    >Sent from my ████

    Okay, then. I may edit FAQ 19 when that comes.
    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
    December 29, 2012


    Why isn't this a rule violation?

    >From: Susan L
    >Sent: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A friend just sent me this q&a from the latest NJML newsletter re being called dead:
    >Nat'l Mah Jongg League Newsletter
    >> > Q. A player called for a discard and declared Mah Jongg. She
    >> put the discard in her rack amongst her other tiles and then
    >> made her full exposure for Mah Jongg. Is this acceptable?
    >> > A. Yes...a player may pick up the discard, put it amongst her
    >> other tiles in her hand and then put up all 14 tiles for Mah Jongg
    >According to your FAQ "AA" a player can be called dead if there is a rule violation such as calling for a discarded tile and placing it in one's rack before making the full exposure. This also appears to be a NJML rule as well, as a reference is cited
    >So, my question is, "Why is this not a rule violation all of the time, whether it be for a MJ declaration or not"?
    >Thank you. I enjoy reading your column and doing your strategy exercises.
    >Susan L

    Hi, Susan. You wrote:

    A friend just sent me this q&a from the latest NJML newsletter
    Is that the January 2012 newsletter? Or has the January 2013 newsletter already showed up in your friend's mailbox (but not mine)? Because I want to see this ruling for myself -- it goes against how other forms of mah-jongg rule things (and against how some American tournament organizers rule this).

    According to your FAQ "AA" a player can be called dead if there is a rule violation such as calling for a discarded tile and placing it in one's rack before making the full exposure. This also appears to be a NJML rule as well, as a reference is cited
    There are two references cited at the bottom of FAQ 19AA: "p. 18-19" (of the official NMJL rulebook), and "2005" (the 2005 NMJL bulletin) - and FAQ 19AA covers a number of reasons for calling a player dead. Nothing in the 2005 bulletin says a player can be called dead for putting a taken discard into the hand (it talks about a player whose needed tile is shown on the table or in another exposure). Nothing on pages 18-19 of the rulebook says that, either (it talks about other reasons for calling a player dead).

    Why is this not a rule violation all of the time, whether it be for a MJ declaration or not
    If it was up to me, it would be. If you want justification for the existence or nonexistence of a rule, you'll have to take that up with the League. I recommend you do it in writing, not over the 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
    December 28, 2012


    Column 549

    >From: Mary E
    >Sent: Friday, December 28, 2012 4:51 PM
    >Subject: question about column # 549 answer #11
    >Hello, Mr. Sloper.
    >I know you sometimes purposely make a mistake in your strategy columns for us to find and I believe I did, if tardily. Smile
    >Your answer in column #549, regarding problem #11 states that the number 2 tiles all around could be discarded but they are, in fact, needed to build your recommended hand, W-D #3. Is this correct?
    >I have found your strategy column to be extremely helpful to my playing! Of course, sometimes the tiles are just flat-out against you, sometimes the whole day long (!) but mostly I can get at least 2 games per 3 hours of play, but more often 3, so I feel good about that.
    >I’ve just ordered your Red Dragon and the West Wind and am looking forward to reading it.
    >Thank you for all your answers, advice, and now, the teaching section. Teaching is something I would like to do one day.
    >Mary E

    Good catch, Mary. My hat's off to you. I'll correct that in the column. Hope you enjoy my book!
    Happy New Year, and... 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
    December 28, 2012


    Thanks -- and I noticed something cool

    >From: "tracyc13
    >Sent: Friday, December 28, 2012 2:52 PM
    >Subject: Thanks for a Cool Column & An Observation
    >Hi Tom,
    >Just wanted to say thank you for publishing your wonderful mah jongg weekly strategy column -- What a terrific public service! Please know that your efforts are great appreciated. I also loved your book and have recommended it to several friends.
    >Second, I just noticed that the tiles at the top of the strategy column are 1861 SSS 1865 NNN. My husband is an American History teacher and I minored in American History at Georgetown, so my guess is that those tiles were not just randomly generated :). So much fun to find a hidden allusion in such an unexpected place -- makes me want to develop some history hands a la Marvelous Mah Jongg!
    >Thanks again & enjoy the holidays -
    >Tracy C
    >Wichita, Kansas & Smallwood, NY

    SLOPER ON MAH-JONGG
    By Tom Sloper

    Hi, Tracy!
    That's cool that you and your husband recognized the "Civil War" hand. It's a hand used in Wright-Patterson mah-jongg and its sibling, British/Western mah-jongg. They have other history hands already - Independence, Lindbergh, Pearl Harbor, Moon Landing, Columbus, Gold Rush, Coronation, Earth Day, Olympics... You can order the Wright-Patterson rules from the address given in FAQ 4a.

    I've been a Civil War buff since my teens, so by including the Civil War hand on that page, I was combining two of my passions. By the way, if you click those tile images, you go to a page about my Civil War ancestors.

    Thanks for writing! Happy new year, and... 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
    December 28, 2012


    MCR Last Tile (part 3)

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 1:00 PM
    >Subject: MCR and other stuff...continued
    >Hi Tom,
    >Your response to Dick's last tile question doesn't seem right to me.
    >Dick and you said...
    > Since the other two Green were visible, should I get 4 points for Last Tile?
    > The response I gave you last night was based on thinking from the American game. (When a player may call another player dead, for one thing.) Having slept on it, I think Last Tile should be an allowable claim in this case. One can show, once the winning hand is displayed, that the winning tile was the case tile (the last of its kind).
    >The description in OIRB shows that the other 3 tiles must be in discards or exposed sets. The Green Book doesn't have a description that differs from this so there's definitely consistency in the intention. So, if a player holds a third tile, with two of the same tile exposed, going out on the fourth would not achieve Last Tile.
    >Isn't an implication of allowing Last Tile under such circumstances as described by Dick, that a player could have one, two or three tiles in the hand, as long as the others are exposed (that is, two, one or none exposed!), if the player goes out on the fourth then they could claim Last Tile! That can't be right?
    >圣诞快乐,新年幸福
    >A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    >Regards
    >Ray Heaton

    Hi, Ray.
    You raise a good point: that rather than nothing more than a night of sleep, I should rely on the written rules -- something I am always telling my readers. You are right. I was right the first time, and my correction was wrong. In order to avoid further confusing readers, I'll strike out that "correction."
    By the way, Ray, when you quote the board in an email, it would be best if you use text or typable characters to delineate quoted material from new comments you are adding. 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
    Boxing Day, 2012


    MCR, and some other stuff (part 2)

    I was tired last night, and should not have posted a response to Dick L's lengthy and multi-faceted email (below). I'm rested now, and see some things to say differently from what I said last night. Dick wrote:

    Since the other two Green were visible, should I get 4 points for Last Tile?
    The response I gave you last night was based on thinking from the American game. (When a player may call another player dead, for one thing.) Having slept on it, I think Last Tile should be an allowable claim in this case. One can show, once the winning hand is displayed, that the winning tile was the case tile (the last of its kind).

    my scoring of that item 5 is...
    My brain couldn't function last night, and I'm not so sure it was functioning 6 years ago either! At that time I said All Pungs was worth 2, which is clearly wrong. And you are correct that I should have included Double Pung. I have now made those corrections to column 288.

    May the tiles be with you. And Merry Christmas!
    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
    Christmas Day, 2012


    Some more Agatha Christie

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 12:38 AM
    >Subject: Agatha Christie and Mah Jong
    >Hi Tom,
    >You replied...
    >>The only variant widely played at the time was Chinese Classical. And from context, it's clear to me that Miss Gannett is saying, "no, never mind, I don't want to pung that tile after all."
    >I found it very interesting that Mah Jong appears in this book (with this spelling too). The book was published in 1926, so the author must have picked up on the game's popularity in the 1920s...I must admit I don't know much about the history of Mah Jong, but possibly mistakenly thought the popularity then was more about the game in America than in the UK...I supposed with Christie being popular in the US as well as the UK, then this chapter was more to satisfy the American audience?
    >Christie seems to have handled the game well, so either knew how to play or researched pretty well!
    >She also refers to "Tin Ho", and translates this for the reader as "The Perfect Winning". The chapter more or less ends when one of the characters wins on the first turn. This must be ??, tian hu, or the Heavenly Hand.
    >'Ah!' said Caroline interestedly. 'Chow.' 'I believe,' said Miss Gannett, temporarily diverted, 'that it's the right thing nowadays to say "Chee" not "Chow."' 'Nonsense,' said Caroline. 'I have always said "Chow."' 'In the Shanghai Club,' said Colonel Carter, 'they say "Chow;" Miss Gannett retired, crushed.
    >[...]
    >'And Man Jong.' The situation became more strained. It was annoyance at Miss Gannett's going Mah Jong for the third time running which prompted Caroline to say to me as we built a fresh wall: 'You are too tiresome, James. You sit there like a deadhead, and say nothing at all!' 'But, my dear,' I protested, 'I have really nothing to say that is, of the kind you mean.' 'Nonsense,' said Caroline, as she sorted her hand. 'You must know something interesting.' I did not answer for a moment. I was overwhelmed and intoxicated. I had read of there being such a thing as The Perfect Winning - going Mah Jong on one's original hand. I had never hoped to hold the hand myself.
    >With suppressed triumph I laid my hand face upwards on the table.
    >'As they say in the Shanghai Club,' I remarked - Tin-ho - the Perfect Winning!' The colonel's eyes nearly bulged out of his head.'
    >圣诞快乐,新年幸福
    >A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Good morning, Ray.
    Mah-Jongg was hugely popular in Great Britain in the twenties. Christie must have been as caught up in the game as anyone else. Merry Christmas.
    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
    Christmas Day, 2012


    MCR, and some other stuff

    >From: Dick L
    >Sent: Monday, December 24, 2012 7:57 PM
    >Subject: "last tile" for MCR
    >Hi Tom Sloper,
    >With 2 Green Dragons as visible discards and with my hand having
    > 2 South
    > 2 each of 1, 2, 4, 8, 9 dot
    > 1 Green Dragon
    >I drew the last Green Dragon to be my pair and declared HU.
    >Since the other two Green were visible, should I get 4 points for Last Tile? (in addition to 1 point for a Wait ?)
    >The MCR Mahjong Hand Score Calculator at
    > http://mahjonghand.appspot.com/
    >with situation string
    > v Dgg h Wss d1122448899 Dg w Dg self_draw
    >scores 24 for Seven Pairs, 6 for Half Flush, 4 for Fully Concealed, but does not include 4 points for Last Tile or 1 point for a Wait.
    >Item 5 of
    > http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column288c.html
    >has an incomplete description of context and confused scoring, but does show 4 points for Last Tile.
    >FWIW: my scoring of that item 5 is
    > 6 all pungs
    > 6 all types
    > 3 pung of terminals (9c, 9d) or honors (North)
    > 2 two concealed pungs (6b, 9d)
    > 2 double pung (9c, 9d)
    > 1 single wait (Green)
    > 4? Last Tile --- does "case G" mean the other 2 Green were already visible discards?
    > 1 flower
    >The calculator with situation string "v Dgg m c999 Wnnn h b666 d999 Dg w Dg" omits 3 points for the terminal/honor pungs.
    >thanks,
    >Dick L
    >PS: Your faq04.html mentions both tilehog.net and mahjong-o-matic.com (and so do a variety of your columns) --- perhaps adding a link to mahjonghand.appspot.com would be appropriate for faq04. More generally, it might be useful to mention using the Internet WayBack Machine (http://archive.org/) to view content for some websites which have disappeared.

    Hi, Dick.
    There was a lot in your email. We'll see if I caught it all.

    Since the other two Green were visible, should I get 4 points for Last Tile?
    Nobody but you could see the third one that was concealed in your hand. So I think you can expect an argument on that one.

    (in addition to 1 point for a Wait ?)
    Seven Pairs may not be combined with Single Wait.

    The MCR Mahjong Hand Score Calculator at
    > http://mahjonghand.appspot.com/
    >with situation string
    > v Dgg h Wss d1122448899 Dg w Dg self_draw
    >scores 24 for Seven Pairs, 6 for Half Flush, 4 for Fully Concealed, but does not include 4 points for Last Tile or 1 point for a Wait.
    Okay...? Then I guess appspot and I are in agreement...?

    Item 5 of
    > http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column288c.html
    >has an incomplete description of context and confused scoring, but does show 4 points for Last Tile.
    Perhaps I was wrong in 2006. I used to get emails and post them on the bulletin board back then - perhaps the Wayback Machine can dig up emails that followed the posting of that column. That's pretty amazing that you dug up all these cases of case tiles. It's late Christmas Eve, and I had a big dinner with friends and then over an hour in the kitchen preparing my special cranberry dish for three more dinners tomorrow, so I have to beg tiredness. Is Last Tile a legitimate claim with Seven Pairs (or when it's needed to complete a pair)? I'll have to think on that some more tomorrow.

    my scoring of that item 5 is... [omitted]
    >The calculator with situation string "v Dgg m c999 Wnnn h b666 d999 Dg w Dg" omits 3 points for the terminal/honor pungs.
    Okay. As I mentioned, I'm tired and it's late at night. I've never used that calculator and I don't know what those vs and ms and hs and ws mean. I think you're trying to get me to think and say something in response to this...?

    perhaps adding a link to mahjonghand.appspot.com would be appropriate for faq04.
    Reasonable suggestion. I shall do that. But not tonight. Going to bed now.

    More generally, it might be useful to mention using the Internet WayBack Machine (http://archive.org/) to view content for some websites which have disappeared.
    Now you're making me regret having simply deleted dead links from my site. Oh wait, someone could use the Wayback Machine to find those dead links on my site, then use the Wayback Machine to find out what those dead links used to contain. I guess I can add a mention of the Wayback Machine in a lot of places on my site (but mainly FAQ 4b, since that's the links-specific one, huh).

    May the tiles be with you. And Merry Christmas!
    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
    Christmas Eve, 2012


    Some Christmas Eve questions

    >From: Ray H
    >Sent: Monday, December 24, 2012 4:01 PM
    >Subject: Trivia
    >Hi Tom,
    >I couldn't think of any serious questions, but I have some trivia questions that won't need too much thinking about on this busy Seasonal day that may amuse...but don't feel obliged to answer them!
    >1) if you could choose three people you'd most want to play Mah Jong with, who would they be?
    >2) if there was just one variant of Mah Jong, which one would you want it to be and why?
    >3) which is the most misunderstood rule in Mah Jong?
    >4) Agatha Christie's "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" includes a chapter where the characters are playing Mah Jong and where several clues to the murderer are relayed. The book, "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan is structured like a game of Mah Jong. What's your favourite use of Mah Jong in fiction or film?
    >5) Here's an extract from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd...I wonder which variant they are playing, and whatever is "Unpung"!
    >> 'Pung,' said Miss Gannett. 'No - Unpung. I suppose that now the doctor's in with M. Poirot he knows all the secrets?' 'Far from it,' I said.
    >> 'James is so modest,' said Caroline. 'Ah! A concealed Kong.' The colonel gave vent to a whistle. For the moment gossip was forgotten.
    >> 'Your own wind, too,' he-said. 'And you've got two Pungs of Dragons. We must be careful. Miss Caroline's out for a big hand.'
    >A Very Merry Christmas
    >Best regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    I couldn't think of any serious questions, but I have some trivia questions that won't need too much thinking about
    I disagree. I think these questions are not easy to answer, and I don't wish to play that particular game. I am interested in your #5, though.

    I wonder which variant they are playing, and whatever is "Unpung"!
    >> 'Pung,' said Miss Gannett. 'No - Unpung.
    The only variant widely played at the time was Chinese Classical. And from context, it's clear to me that Miss Gannett is saying, "no, never mind, I don't want to pung that tile after all."

    Merry Christmas. Here's hoping the coming year will bring good things for us all.



    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
    Christmas Eve, 2012


    This week's column

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, December 24, 2012 7:59 AM
    >Subject: Kongs and Pungs
    >Hi Tom,
    >With reference to Strategy Column #550
    >Looking across several sites and working through the potential Kong and Pung combinations, I think you are correct in the way you have interpreted and scored the Fan against what is said in The Green Book, but that these scores differ from the original MCR scoring.
    >I think that the change in the score for Two Concealed Kongs (from being a 6- to an 8-point Fan) made by the WMO in 2006, and shown in the Green Book, helps in the lower scoring Fan combinations (and in the Green Book, the question asked by Dick is answered in that 1 Concealed Kong and 1 Melded Kong is shown scoring 6-points, but wasn't shown as a Fan in its own right...maybe it'd be easier to follow if it was indeed a separate Fan).
    >To be fair to Per Starbäck, in his Beyond The Green Book, he does state that the scoring of multiple Kong and Pung based Fan are controversial, and shows scores with both included and excluded combinations.
    >But the description associated to both the Four Kongs and Three Kongs Fan in The Green Book (2006) differs to that shown in the Official International Rulebook (published 1998, printed 2002 version). The 1998 OIR states that both the Four and Three Kongs Fan are Concealed or Melded. To me, then, this implies that many of the lower scoring Fan should be excluded...this may mean that the overall score for a hand is less than we'd like, but eliminates the controversy (at least it does to me, I'm not anticipating anyone else agreeing!). I presume The Green Book, published several years later, which doesn't include a statement about the Kongs being Concealed or Melded, was intended to help referees and others interpret the various Fan, but actually seems to have created more controversy. Having said that, the scores that you then get from the "accepted" combinations (being the ones in your Strategy Column 550) seems a more realistically high-score for what I presume are quite rare hands.
    >So, if we are playing The Green Book rules (and I presume MCR competitions would play these rules, plus any more recent amendments), then the scores you show in the Strategy Column seem to fit well.
    >There's a useful summary here...http://www.ninedragons.com/mahjong/kong_table.htm
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    Clearly, the "Green Book" supersedes the OIRB since the former was published several years later. The description in OIRB reflects the thinking at that earlier time.
    Happy Christmas!
    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
    December 24, 2012


    How to score two kongs when one is concealed? (part 2)

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 12:28 AM
    >Subject: How to score two kongs when one is concealed? (MCR)...continued
    >Hi Tom,
    >I think that Dick is correct in finding a mistake on the site he refers to. The table at the link implies, I think, that "One Melded Concealed Kong" as titled in the table, is a Fan in its own right (scoring 6-points) rather than two Fan combined (as you describe it, a 2- and a 4-point Fan making up the 6-points).
    >I find the table a little awkward to use as some of the Fan name descriptions have not been too well spaced and so run into each other (for example, I wondered for a while what "All Even Pure Shifted Pungs" scoring 24-points meant, until I realised this was in fact two Fan, "All Even" and "Pure Shifted Pungs" both scoring 24!).
    >This site http://www.ninedragons.com/mahjong/oir.html has a pdf file referred to as "Comj Quicksheet" as we'll as other useful guides. I like the Quicksheet as it is a simple 2 page summary of all the available Fan with scores and examples, that can be printed and kept on the table while playing (in a similar war to how NMJL players use their score card), I find this better than the table at the site Dick was suggesting.
    >Of course, the book "The Red Dragon and The West Wind" by one "Tom Sloper" should be close by too! ;-)
    >Regards
    >Ray H


    I have a set; any light you could shed, part 2

    >From: William C
    >Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 12:17 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Oops edited out the question. Whether 8 flowers are normal and what the extra red tiles are
    >--
    >William

    Good morning, Will. "Normal" is relative. Because of Singapore's proximity to Malaysia, some people there likely play Malaysian mah-jongg. Also, mah-jongg set manufacturers have particular reasons for including extra tiles (especially extra flower tiles) sometimes. You can read about Singaporean and Malaysian mah-jongg in Frequently Asked Question 2B. And you can read about your "mystery tile" in FAQ 7E (the "Mystery Tiles FAQ").
    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
    Winter Solstice, 2012


    I have a set; any light you could shed

    >From: William C
    >Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 3:15 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have a contemporary singaporean set (from singapore too) it seems to have either a set of four tiles that could be an alternate set of red dragons (with more complicated design on them ) or a further set of jokers.(there are face jokers in the set too)
    >it also has 16 flowers in it (4 sets of 4). the animals are present so they're an alternate version of them and they are the only part of the set that have any western numbers on them.
    >also theyre tiny coming it at 12mm x17mm x22mm
    >any light you could shed would be gratefully recieved
    >Will

    What is your question, William?
    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
    December 20, 2012


    How to score two kongs when one is concealed? (MCR)

    >From: Dick L
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:59 PM
    >Subject: mixed double kong for MCR
    >Hi Tom Sloper,
    >The chart at URL
    > http://www.mahjongtime.com/scoring-chart.html
    >shows 6 points for a mixed double kong (1 melded, 1 hidden) --- a hand which the original MCR does not discuss. Although that scoring feels reasonable, between 4 for two melded and 8 for two hidden, I have found few documents in English or French or German that support this. What is the official status of this as a revision of the MCR?
    >thanks for your great website (& for whatever light you can shed on this matter),
    >dick l
    >PS: perhaps the tutorial (in English, but with a few inaccurate displays) at
    > http://museum.takeshobo.co.jp/kokusai/
    >is worth a cite in some part of your website.

    Hi Dick, you wrote:

    6 points for a mixed double kong (1 melded, 1 hidden) --- a hand which the original MCR does not discuss. Although that scoring feels reasonable, between 4 for two melded and 8 for two hidden, I have found few documents in English or French or German that support this.
    If you look at page 187 in my book, you'll find that this is correct. One adds 2 points for Concealed Kong to the 4 points for Two Melded Kongs.

    At first when I saw your email, I thought you were asking a tougher question - what may and may not be scored when using three or four kongs and pungs of various states of concealment. There were numerous heated discussions among Japanese and European mah-jongg thinkers about that problem. One who wrote about this was Per Starbäck, at http://starback.se/mj/beyond/ - and Kimito Kugimiya made a detailed analysis of it, which he shared with me. But that's not what you were asking. It's easy to confirm that the 6 points for Two Kongs, one melded and one concealed, is official.

    PS: perhaps the tutorial (in English, but with a few inaccurate displays) at
    > http://museum.takeshobo.co.jp/kokusai/
    >is worth a cite in some part of your website.
    The translation of Hatsune and Kajimoto's strategy guide, you mean. Yes, I have links to that web page in FAQ 22, FAQ 3, and FAQ 4b, as well as in columns 321, 325, 328, and 354. Is it that you're suggesting that I should do more than link to 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
    December 20, 2012


    Is this way of scoring actually wrong?

    >From: shari d
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 12:12 AM
    >Subject: mahjongg
    >?hi, not sure if this is a real question or a stupid statement. but here goes.
    >I am new to this game. I have wanted it for years & finally got it! I have the american version. I think
    >I understand how to play, but as i was browsing the internet trying to find easier directions then what
    >I had, I stumbled upon, what I now know, was Hong Kong old style scoring. (lol) (at the time I didnt
    >know I had the american version lol) anyway, I loved the idea of looking at all of the different sets a
    >person could make & then calculating the points the winner would receive. This way of scoring seems
    >way more challenging & is funner. I know you dont want to look up links & thats fine but just incase
    >you would like to check out what exactly i'm talking about, this is the website. http://mahjong.wikidot.com/rules:hong-kong-old-style-scoring
    >Is doing this scoring actually the wrong way to play? Especially the American version? I think that
    >it'll only be myself & family members that play so i sappose it really doesnt matter, but if I should come
    >across some real players & have the privilage to actually play with them, I'd like to not make a fool out
    >of myself!
    >I would appreciate your input.
    >thank you for your time
    >shari

    Hello, Shari. You wrote:

    I have the american version... at the time I didn’t know I had the american version
    I think you're saying you have an American-style set of tiles?

    I think I understand how to play, but as i was browsing the internet trying to find easier directions
    You do not understand how to play American-style mah-jongg, if you have not read a book or (better) had a teacher show you how.

    I loved the idea of looking at all of the different sets a
    >person could make & then calculating the points the winner would receive.
    That's not how Hong Kong scoring works. You don't get points for sets you "could make" - you get points for sets you actually make when you actually win.

    Is doing this scoring actually the wrong way to play?
    No. Players of Hong Kong style mah-jongg do use Hong Kong scoring.

    Especially the American version?
    Your question is unclear. American scoring is actually used by players of American mah-jongg.

    I think that
    >it'll only be myself & family members that play so i sappose it really doesnt matter, but if I should come
    >across some real players & have the privilage to actually play with them, I'd like to not make a fool out
    >of myself!
    There are lots of "real players" who all play different kinds of real mah-jongg. There is no one correct variant that all "real players" play. Get that idea out of your head. Read Frequently Asked Question #1. (Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). If you are playing in a park or food court and some Asian folks come by and watch you playing, they might play Hong Kong style, Taiwanese style, Japanese style, Filipino style, Singapore or Malaysian style, or Shanghai style... If some American women come by and watch you playing, they might play American style, or British/Western style, or Wright-Patterson style...
    Get the picture? You can do what I've done, learn a large number of versions... or (better) you and your family could decide what your criteria are, and choose one variant based on your criteria. Read Frequently Asked Question #2A. Then buy a book (see FAQ 3) or seek a teacher (see FAQ 15) and get a computer game to learn from (see FAQ 5).

    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
    December 19, 2012


    Mah-Jongg for the Mac, part 5

    >From: Rena T
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 4:38 PM
    >Subject: Re:
    >Looks like a good resource. Thank you!
    >Rena


    Mah-Jongg for the Mac, part 4

    >From: Amy C
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 3:59 PM
    >Subject: Mahj for the Mac
    >Hi Tom -
    >It is possible to play the NMJL online game with a Mac. I've been playing quite happily on my Mac for the past year. You have to download a program called Crossover - instructions for this and a link to Codeweavers are on the NMJL website under the "Download" icon. When I signed up, Crossover offered a 30 day trial; after that I think it costs $30.
    >Anyone who plays the online game and gets tired of the sniping and nastiness you often see in the timed minutes room is urged to join us in the Official room. A nice group plays most nights and welcomes everyone regardless of their rating. We like to think of it as Mah Jongg the way it was meant to be played - with friends, for fun.
    >Thank you for your terrific website!
    >Best regards,
    >A.C.

    Great info, Amy. Thanks! I'll add that to FAQ 5.
    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
    December 18, 2012


    Mah-Jongg for Mac, part 3

    >From: Rena
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 6:55 AM
    >Subject: Re:
    >Thanks so much!
    >Rena T


    Mah-Jongg for Mac, part 2

    >From: Rena T
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 5:58 AM
    >Subject: Re:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Several of the links on your FAQs list you sent are broken, fyi. So far I haven't found any American style mahj for the Mac. I have the old Shanghai Dynasty disk and one old PC laptop. Are you still updating each year for the new card?
    >Thanks,
    >Rena

    Rena, you wrote:

    Several of the links on your FAQs list you sent are broken, fyi.
    I'll have to make it a project to identify those and delete them sometime. When people report that a specific link (telling me which link it is) is broken, I always fix it right away.

    So far I haven't found any American style mahj for the Mac.
    You'll have to give MahjongTime a try, see if that works on the Mac - if it works in the browser, it should work on Mac (also, maybe their website tells whether or not it works on Mac). Look at FAQ 5 again. Or buy a PC.

    Are you still updating each year for the new card?
    No, for two reasons:
    The game is 13 years old. Sales of the card file have fallen below the point where it's profitable for me to offer it.
    I can't get Shanghai Second Dynasty to work on my Windows 7 machine. It only works on my old old laptop, which is on its last legs and is therefore a pain to use.

    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
    December 18, 2012


    Mah-jongg for the Mac?

    >From: Rena T
    >Sent: Monday, December 17, 2012 8:27 PM
    >Subject: Re:
    >Do you know if anything has been developed for the Mac?
    >Thanks,
    >Rena

    Rena,
    If you're asking about mah-jongg for the Mac, all I know is listed in FAQ 5. See
    http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq05.htm
    and see
    http://www.dipching.com/mahjongg.html
    That is honestly all I can tell you. Good luck!
    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
    December 17, 2012


    Melded Hand (part 2)

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2012 9:02 PM
    >Subject: Melded Hand MCR 2
    >Hi Tom,
    >A bit more on my Melded Hand question...
    >>The hand simply has to be made from discards (and nothing but discards). I don't understand the source of your confusion.
    >...having 3,4,5,5 in the hand and then using a single discarded 5 as the means of going out, uses the discarded 5 in two melds at the same time (or so it seems to me)...in both the 3,4,5 and 5,5. They can't both be melded with just the one tile, surely!
    >...the game on Mahjong Time was being played with 3 other folk, not against the computer...but of course it's still software that we were all using. I've never played for Melded Hand, in fact I don't think I have achieved it unintentionally either, because, as you say, there seems a lot of luck required. The software allowed it though, I wondered if the other player took advantage of this as this fan (Melded Hand) seemed to happen reasonably frequently.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    having 3,4,5,5 in the hand and then using a single discarded 5 as the means of going out, uses the discarded 5 in two melds at the same time (or so it seems to me)...in both the 3,4,5 and 5,5. They can't both be melded with just the one tile, surely!
    A single tile does not complete two melds at the same time. But now I finally see your point. So you are right, and the program should not award Melded Hand when a player is waiting with 3455.

    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
    December 16, 2012


    Melded Hand (MCR)

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2012 9:18 AM
    >Subject: Melded Hand in MCR
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have played on-line for a few nights recently, using the Mahjong Time MCR game. I lost most of them, and nearly all wins went to "Melded Hand" with a few low scoring Fan to make the 8 points. But I'm not sure that a couple of the hands really met the requirements of Melded Hand.
    >I don't recall the specific suits, but in each of the two cases the winner was holding four tiles such as 3,4,5,5 Bams. They went out on another of the pair, in this case a 5 Bams, to give their last three tile meld of 3,4,5 Bams and a pair 5,5 Bams. The software allowed this to make the 6 points (you can't go out without having 8 points).
    >Now, I'm not interested in whether the software is working right (I don't play on line that often to worry about software bugs) rather I wondered if indeed this does form a valid way of achieving Melded Hand?
    >Melded Hand hasn't been a Fan that I have tried going for myself, as I presumed you'd always be left having to match a pair. If the way Mahjong Time plays it is valid, then I guess it's a more useful hand to build?
    >Regards,
    >Ray H
    >PS. I'm really missing seeing the latest Strategy Column post!

    Hi Ray, you wrote:

    I wondered if indeed this does form a valid way of achieving Melded Hand?
    The hand simply has to be made from discards (and nothing but discards). I don't understand the source of your confusion.

    I guess it's a more useful hand to build?
    It's not a hand one plans to go for. It requires a lot of luck, and [unintentionally] cooperative opponents. And then we should consider the fact that computer programs think differently from humans. They (computers) process possibilities very quickly, thus are less afraid to call for a discard. The algorithm specific to a particular computer game may even tend towards particular hands.

    I'm really missing seeing the latest Strategy Column post!
    I skipped it last week. I had a lot of distractions, what with the holidays coming up, finals to prepare for my university students, and end-of-year movies and games showing up for awards consideration. I took longer than usual, but now the column is up.

    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
    December 16, 2012


    Please rescind my post, part 2

    >From: Wendi F
    >Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2012 9:42 PM
    >Subject: Re: Seeking games
    >If I get to the right board and stop ████ing myself with ████ ████, I'm willing to try again. I will reread FAQ 15:}

    FAQ 15 is at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/FAQfindplayer.htm
    The Find Players board is at http://sloperama.com/majexchange/findplayer.htm
    Good luck, Wendi!
    May the players 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
    December 13, 2012


    Please rescind my post

    >From: Wendi F
    >Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2012 5:46 PM
    >Subject: Seeking games
    >Hi,
    >Some months back I signed up for your website's postings to see if there were any people on it in my area. I have heard nothing. Therefore, I would like to ask that you please rescind my post as it contains personal information. If you have any questions, please let me know via this email.
    >Thank you, Wendi

    Hi, Wendi.
    Sorry you didn't find any players through my free service. I went to the Find Players bulletin board, expecting to find your listing there (so I could remove it as you asked) but it wasn't there! Then I went back to the older archive of the board (which goes back to 2009) and you weren't there either. So I Googled your full name and sloperama, and found out what happened. You emailed me on Oct. 19, but you did it in the form of a question, asking me for advice on how to find players -- so I posted your question here on this board (not on the Find Players board), and suggested that you read FAQ 15. Then I emailed you directly to let you know that "A response has been posted on the Maj Exchange's Q&A bulletin board (http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm)." If you had come here, found my advice to read FAQ 15, and then read FAQ 15, you would have found tips for finding players (one of which is to post an announcement in the Find Players board, where other players might find you).

    I normally don't post "personal information," but when the correspondent is clearly hoping to get contacted by other players (or by customers), then I do. The body of your message is staying put; under the clearly stated terms of the privacy policy of this website, "when you email me, I own it." Your having emailed me a question about mah-jongg constituted permission for your message to be published. But since you want your personal information removed, I am removing your last name and your email address from your post. If you're serious about finding players, I still recommend FAQ 15. 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
    December 13, 2012


    Pin woo brouhaha, part 3

    >From: Cheryl L
    >Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2012 7:38 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you, Tom. This clarification about pin-woo (that it requires use of more than one suit) is what we were seeking.
    >We were taught Hong Kong style by a Chinese woman (from Hong Kong, no less), and she always scored a pure hand that contained 4 sheungs and a pair at 8 fan, so we were following the logic of pure = 6 fan plus pin-woo configuration = 2 fan to arrive at the 8 fan total. Apparently, that logic doesn't necessarily mean that a pure hand of that particular configuration makes it pin-woo. The extra 2 fan must come from some other place.
    >As you note, there are as many ways to score fan as there are Mah Jongg players. Hopefully, our group harmony will be restored next week when I bring your information to the table.
    >Thanks, again, for your help. I will recommend your website to other Mah Jonggers.
    >--Cheryl

    Hi Cheryl, you wrote:

    we were following the logic of pure = 6 fan plus pin-woo configuration = 2 fan to arrive at the 8 fan total. Apparently, that logic doesn't necessarily mean that a pure hand of that particular configuration makes it pin-woo. The extra 2 fan must come from some other place.
    Not necessarily. Remember what I said before.

      Everybody who adheres to a particular form of mah-jongg uses different table rules.... The day after mah-jongg was created, it was played at a second table, with a second set of rules.

    and

      Some players call this hand "all chows" but that insufficiently defines the hand...

    What I take from your story is that your teacher was one of those. She was accustomed to playing with people who used a loose definition of pin woo, in which pin woo could be combined with purity.

    As you note, there are as many ways to score fan as there are Mah Jongg players. Hopefully, our group harmony will be restored next week when I bring your information to the table.
    I recommend that your group have one mah-jongg "bible" you can turn to whenever there's a disagreement. Amy Lo is a good one, and there are a couple more authors who describe HK/Cantonese rules - see FAQ 3 and FAQ 2b.

    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
    December 13, 2012


    Pin woo broohaha, part too

    Follow-up to my previous response. I just checked Amy Lo's book (highly recommended for players of Hong Kong / Cantonese style - see FAQ 3) and she specifically states that ping woo must have tiles of more than one suit. (She doesn't say anything about any requirements for the pair, though.) So I'm going to add this requirement to FAQ 17.
    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
    12/12/12


    Pin woo brouhaha

    >From: Cheryl L
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 10:12 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I was not able to find an answer to my question on your site. Our regular MJ group's harmony was upset yesterday by a pin-woo dispute. We play with a 3 fan minimum, and we allow pin-woo if a player has the right flower or no flowers or self-draws the winning tile.
    >Player A made a pure hand in the pin-woo configuration (4 sheungs and a pair). Player B said it should be scored as a pure hand (6 fan). Player C said it should be scored as a pure hand (6 fan) plus a pin-woo configuration (2 fan) for a total of 8 fan. Then, Player B said that a pure hand--regardless of configuration--should never be referred to as pin-woo because pin-woo, by definition, always contains mixed suits.
    >Unfortunately, Players B and C are equally strong-willed, so no resolution was achieved. If you were at the table, what would you have said?
    >Thank you for your comments!
    >--Cheryl

    Hi, Cheryl.
    As I wrote in Frequently Asked Question 17:

      "Pin woo (one fan): All chows (no pungs) and a valueless pair (no dragon pair; no seat wind or round wind pair). Some tables may allow pin woo, by self-pick, with no flowers, to meet the 3fan minimum - ask before trying. Some tables require this hand to be concealed. Some players call this hand "all chows" but that insufficiently defines the hand (especially in that the pair must be valueless)."

    Sounds to me like your players have more to add to that definition. Also, as I wrote in FAQ 9:

      "Philosophy #1: Everybody who adheres to a particular form of mah-jongg uses different table rules, so be flexible. The day after mah-jongg was created, it was played at a second table, with a second set of rules. You can use any table rule you like, so long as it's agreeable to all your players, and you are all prepared to deal with possible conflicts, and you are all prepared to suspend your table rules at a different table or when playing in a tournament."

    So, what would I have said at your table? I would have said, "we should have had this conversation before. Let's work out a definition of pin woo that we will use at this table going forward. If we come to an impasse, the host gets to decide. Agreed?"

    Also, in my opinion, one ought to award pin woo based on the original intended definition of the hand: "valueless hand" (because it's worthless chows and a worthless pair). The original idea is that one can win with a valueless hand because it's got logical beauty and isn't that easy to make - it's sort of like it has value because it's so ridiculously valueless (it's a pity fan) but it's also not the easiest kind of hand to make. So if the hand is also Pure (one suit only), it's questionable whether an extra fan for being all chows with a valueless pair should be awarded, since a Pure hand is not valueless.

    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
    12/12/12


    Mystery tiles, part 5

    >From: Michael Stanwick
    >Sent: Monday, December 10, 2012 4:37 AM
    >Subject: mystery tile part 5
    >Hello Tom. Yes. It may be that the different types of jokers are Inner Flowers that are used as substitutes for the tile groups that are used to form melds for scoring purposes. Because they are Inner Flowers they are concealed in the player's hand, as opposed to Outer Flowers that are exposed upon acquisition.
    >So one group of jokers, say for example the face tiles, might serve as substitutes for the Suit tiles, whereas the fly tiles, for example, might serve as substitutes for the Directions and Dragons and the ting yongs might serve as a substitutes for the three Suits, Directions and Dragons.
    >This is one probable explanation based on the similar set of Changsha Wang ma Que and the Vietnamese tile set.
    >Regards
    >Michael

    >From: Michael Stanwick
    >Sent: Monday, December 10, 2012 4:42 AM
    >Subject: Mystery tile part 6
    >Tom, I see your correspondent Ray has found a portion of my website that is now live!
    >He has quoted from the paper or article that I was referring to earlier in one of my posts. He has also understood what the quote is implying, that the multipurpose tile is just that, an all-encompassing joker for use when forming melds that are concealed in the hand from either the Suits, Directions or Dragons.
    >Regards
    >Michael

    I'm going to start following some links! Thanks, Michael. Cheers!
    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
    December 10, 2012


    Mystery tiles, part 4

    >From: Michael Stanwick
    >Sent: Sunday, December 9, 2012 2:26 PM
    >Subject: Mystery tile part 3
    >Hello Tom. Well, soon you will be able to read all my articles, plus view research books and papers plus view Chinese money suited playing cards and many types of MJ sets on my web site.
    >For the time being however, the presence of these eight jokers is in accord with a type of MJ called Changsha's Wang Ma Que or Changsha's Kings MJ. It has eight wang tiles that are what we call Innner Flowers and these Inner Flowers function as substitutes for the particular target groups, be it the Suits or the Directions or the 'Dragons' or combinations of these.
    >There is a variant of this game in Vietnam which sports similar tiles for similar functions to these tiles in Wang Maque. This was reported to me by Thierry Depaulis and he suggested that this type of Wang game is a southern variant. If this is the case then perhaps we are dealing with another version of the tile set used to play a version of this southern variant?
    >For further information I would urge your reader to obtain a copy of my article from Playing-card journal from the i-p-c-s.org website.
    >Best Regards
    >Michael

    Michael,
    I look forward to seeing your website. I'm guessing from what you're saying that the Fly tile and the Ting Yong tile may be different types of jokers, akin to the different joker types in Vietnamese 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
    December 9, 2012


    Mystery tiles, part 3

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, December 9, 2012 1:00 PM
    >Subject: Re...Mystery Tile: Useful
    >Hi Tom,
    >I did some Internet browsing about the tile from Stefan. It appears you have discussed this tile (among many other "mysterious" Malaysian tiles)...see your bulletin board archive 12 and 13:
    >http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive12.htm
    >http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive13.htm
    >...the posts are titled Malaysian mystery tiles, dated around January and February 2010.
    >and refer to a tile the same as Stefan's as a multipurpose "ting yong". (This can also translate as "Listen to" or "Listen with", though I'm not sure that helps!)
    >This site http://themahjongtileset.co.uk/ has a brief description, from which I'm rather lost as to what it's all means, but here goes...
    >> “Multipurpose" tile 聽用 [ting yong], engraving two characters “ting yong" on a blank tile, means this tile can act as any of the ‘Cash’, ‘Strings’, ‘Myriads’, ‘Directions’ or ‘Center’, ‘Fortune’, ‘Blank’.
    >I guess, that means it is a Joker!
    >Also, just checked back reading Stefan's question again and see that Michael got back with similar info.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Holy cow, Ray. You're right. I do see that tile here (from archive 12):

    And Michael did reveal that the 2nd tile from the bottom left is the ting yong tile in archive 13, as well (Feb. 1, 2010). I probably should have put that in the Mystery Tiles FAQ at the time. I will put the information in there now.

    Anyway, now that I'm responding to your email, I have received another one from Michael. So I'll stop now and get to that one (above, since these posts are all in most-recent at the top).

    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
    December 9, 2012


    Mystery tile, part 2

    >From: Michael Stanwick
    >Sent: Sunday, December 9, 2012 10:34 AM
    >Subject: "useful" tile
    >Hello Tom. In the post Mystery Tile: "Useful", your questioner asks what the tile's function is.
    >In my article in The Playing-card Volume 37, Number 1, I document the use of this tile as it appears in the 1941 edition of the book titled "Maque de jingyan yu jiqiao" (Maque's Experiences and Skills) by Liu Yishu. According to Liu " we have "Multipurpose" tile ting yong, engraving two characters "ting yong" on a blank tile, means this tile can act as any of the 'Cash', 'Strings', 'Myriads', 'Directions', or 'Center', 'Fortune', 'Blank'.
    >In case your reader has not read my articles on the game set of maque, these tiles are, respectively, in common parlance, 'Circles' or 'Dots', 'Bamboos', 'Cracks or 'Characters', North, South, East, West and 'Red Dragon', 'Green Dragon' and 'White Dragon'.
    >Regards
    >Michael Stanwick

    Hi, Michael. Good to hear from you. First off, I have to apologize for having forgotten what you wrote in that article (not that I have a memory for all Chinese characters I have seen - and I did not know that the characters on Stefan's tile were pronounced "ting yong") - and I can't put my finger on that issue of the Playing-Card. I seem to have placed it separate from the other issues, for safe-keeping, and it's now safe from my search.
    So apparently this tile is a joker. That leaves us with the question as to whether this tile is used differently from the Fly tile, if both tiles are included in a Singaporean set.
    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
    December 9, 2012


    Mystery tile: "useful"

    >From: Stefan L
    >Sent: Sunday, December 9, 2012 12:05 AM
    >Subject: Mystery tile!
    >Hi Tom,
    >Recently I bought a set in Singapore. In addition to the normal
    >Chinese tiles there are also animal tiles, fly tiles, face tiles and
    >blanks.
    >But there are also four more tiles thrown in. They have the characters
    >聽用 (simplified 听用). Any idea what these might be for?
    >Stefan

    Hi, Stefan.
    This is the first time I saw that one. I ran those characters through Babylon and they translate as "useful." That's a pretty generic term; it may be that the players determine whatever use they want to. According to what Vincent Cheah told me nine years ago (http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/malaysian.htm), the face tiles are flower tiles and the Fly tiles are jokers, and these appear to also be jokers, but I couldn't really say. Maybe a reader will have the answer. Please keep watching.
    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
    December 9, 2012


    Discarding flowers in MCR

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, December 8, 2012 1:30 PM
    >Subject: Meld or discard flowers
    >Hi Tom,
    >MCR again!
    >We've been trying but failing to understand if there is any advantage in discarding a flower tile rather than "melding" them...in fact there seems to be conflicting guidance as to whether you can actually discard a flower in the same way that you can discard an unwanted tile (such as in D B Pritchard's book, only "melding" flower tiles is mentioned). Can you advise in what situation a flower tile can or should be discarded?
    >I realise that if the flower tiles are discarded then you won't get the bonus points. On the Mahjong Time Internet based game, the MCR style game does allow you to keep flower tiles after the "deal" and discard them as and when the player wants to, or to "meld" flowers (I only realised this today when I chose the wrong option!) In our group, though, we always immediately "meld" the flower tiles.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    It often happens that another player is looking very dangerous -- he or she has some exposures that indicate a very expensive hand. Or it can happen that two or even three players are nearing a win at the same time. When either of these situations happen, the wise thing to do is to throw safe tiles. You don't want to throw a tile that gives someone else the win. In MCR, flowers are the safest tile there is to discard, since nobody can claim a flower for anything. You don't have to save flowers from the beginning, but when the table is getting dangerous and you pick a flower, the rule gives you a safe out.
    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
    December 8, 2012


    Column 548

    >From: Michael K
    >Sent: Saturday, December 8, 2012 5:32 AM
    >Subject: Weekly Column 548, Hand 9
    >Tom,
    >I am puzzled by your answer to this WWYP. First, I confess I am just starting to learn to play. I have only been playing for a few weeks. But I have been studying your columns and reading Elaine Sandberg. That brings me to Hand 9 of this week’s column. I am curious why this would not be a strong start to 369 #1 – 6 tiles in that direction? Thus, keep Green and throw an even or a non-369 odd?
    >Michael

      9. Pass G, S, 8D. Hope for clues.

    Hi, Michael.
    Hand 9 is not a "strong" start for 369 #1 because there are no sixes, and 369 #1 requires a pair of them. Anytime a hand requires a pair, you want to start off with at least half of the pair. (And of course, that is because jokers may not be used in pairs, and you cannot meld a pair separately.) But you can preserve the 369 option (and hope for sixes) and you can preserve the Consec. option I was probably contemplating if you pass 7D 8D S (substituting the 7D for the G I had initially suggested passing).
    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
    December 8, 2012


    Who pays?, part 2 ("Seeking clarity in these wordings," part 4)

    >From: Barbara M
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2012 3:03 PM
    >Subject: Re: Who pays?
    >But what does she pay each player?

    Barbara,
    As L. Diamond said in her original question:

      "If an erroneous mahjong is called and a player begins to take down the wall before the error is discovered, this player pays... the lowest card value to the other live players."

    If you look on the card, you will see that the "lowest value" is 25¢.
    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
    December 6, 2012


    Who pays? ("Seeking clarity in these wordings," part 3)

    >From: Barbara M
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2012 1:04 PM
    >Subject: Who pays?
    >Player A declared Mah Jongg in error.
    >Player C threw in her hand and as a result broke the remaining wall to finish the game.
    >Player B and D are intact and cannot finish the game.
    >Who pays and to whom and how much?
    >Thanks,
    >Barbara M

    Barbara, we have just been discussing this exact question. If you would just scroll down a little bit from here, you will find your answer.
    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
    December 6, 2012


    Seeking clarity in these wordings (follow-up)

    Upon re-reading Diamond's question, below, I think her confusion may be based on the fact that these two rules are talking about two different situations.

    In the first situation, there is a cascading error - one player erroneously declares mah-jongg, then a second player foolishly destroys the wall (ruining the game for the surviving players). In that case, the one who destroys the wall pays the survivors.

    In the second situation, only one player errs, by declaring mah-jongg with an invalid hand. She is "dead," but the other players are able to continue playing until someone wins. The dead player's penalty was to stop playing. Not the same thing as the first situation.

    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
    December 5, 2012


    Seeking clarity in these wordings

    >From: lynda B
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 11:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >1) What does this sentence mean in the FAQ page regarding Dead Hands ? I do not understand it.
    >" If an erroneous mahjong is called and a player begins to take down the wall before the error is discovered, this player pays the two live players the lowest card value to the other live players."
    >Aren't there 3 "other live players?" Which two players are paying which two other players?
    >Is this meant to say that the Mahjong Caller starts to take the wall down and then someone finds out she's in error.....and then she pays everyone else left in the game (3 live players) 25 cents each ?
    >2) On the back of the Card, under Mahjong in error, #2, it says Dead Hand "pays winner full value of hand" Which hand? The eventual winner's hand at the end of the game ? The value of the Dead Hand that
    >they were erroneously calling a Mahjong ?
    >I thought when a hand was dead, the player of the Dead Hand pays 25 cents to the eventual winner of the Hand, (or the lowest value on the card.) Please clarify,
    >Thanks,
    >L. Diamond B

    Hi, Diamond. You wrote:

    " If an erroneous mahjong is called and a player begins to take down the wall before the error is discovered, this player pays the two live players the lowest card value to the other live players."
    >Aren't there 3 "other live players?"
    No. Player A erroneously declared mah-jongg. Player B destroyed a portion of the wall. That leaves Players C and D as still "alive" in the game.

    Which two players are paying which two other players?
    Player A doesn't pay. Ordinarily she would have to pay the winner same as anyone else, but Player B killed the game by destroying the wall before waiting to look at Player A's erroneous hand, so she (Player B) owes Players C and D 25¢ each.

    Is this meant to say that the Mahjong Caller starts to take the wall down and then someone finds out she's in error.....and then she pays everyone else left in the game (3 live players) 25 cents each ?
    If my Player A was the one to destroy the wall, then that would be a fair outcome, based on that rule.

    [the card] says Dead Hand "pays winner full value of hand" Which hand? The eventual winner's hand at the end of the game ?
    Yes. The eventual winner's hand. She pays what she would pay if she was playing, rather than sitting out dead.

    I thought when a hand was dead, the player of the Dead Hand pays 25 cents to the eventual winner of the Hand, (or the lowest value on the card.)
    I don't know why you thought that. And it doesn't matter that you thought that. The rule is that the dead player pays the winner whatever the winner's hand is worth (25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 75, or double for self-pick and/or double for jokerless) - When it comes time to pay money, the dead player comes alive again, and she brings her purse back to life with her.

    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
    December 5, 2012


    Streaking nail polish, part 2

    >From: 000 <murrayhill_sue
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 1:04 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Thanks Tom for the quick response Sorry about Stealing was a typo meant streaking. And when I sent you the pic's it might have been from a different email address, quite some time ago don't remember. it's clear polish and didn't even notice it myself until I started to clean them, but a closer look it is a bit uneven and some particles may have set into the polish, don't know if that will effect the value or not. But it doesn't make sense to me why the backs and not the fronts if she wanted to preserve the finish? there is not finish on the backs all bakelite. I'm going to include just the pic of the back.
    > This eMail address only excepts Replies from address Sent too or on Record

    000, I can't tell anything from that photo and I don't know what you're looking for from me. I have nothing to add beyond what I said this morning.
    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
    December 4, 2012


    From confidence to "oopsie," part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 5:55 AM
    >Subject: Swell foop 2
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for the reply. Here's a few points against your answers!
    >>Those beginner reflexes are yet strong in you, young Jedi. This is precisely what I was talking about before when you asked why you were always finding yourself waiting to make the pair.
    >Yes...the reflexes are getting weaker, but they are still there. Mostly I do manage to avoid jumping in too quickly, but every now and again I still succumb! My starting hand was rather poor and I wasn't expecting a win.... I got carried away that my hand was actually taking shape at all as well as watching the others. I haven't quite got that parallel, multithreaded thInking that you mentioned a while back working too well yet!
    >>I'm tryin' to tell ya. Quell that reflexive urge to swoop.
    >It must be exasperating for you...I'll get there soon! I still manage to convince myself that sacrificing a pair is a useful tactic...it rarely is, but as none of my group is any more experienced, we're all still weak at the defensive play and our discards not that well thought through. We have been going through the 1,4,7 defensive tactic together (as described in FAQ8, for example).
    >>If you have eight points, you have eight points. Why would anybody deny a player any legitimate points?
    >My original email glossed over this a bit, but I did try to claim Upper Tiles to start with...I corrected myself quite quickly as the murmuring started from the others and yes the 8 points were legitimate. In competitive play (rather than my group's very friendly learning environment, where we show all our hands at the end and discuss what we were all trying to make and think "What would Tom have said..."), would the initial false claim for Upper Tiles have been excused despite the validity of the 8 points?
    >Swell foops and Jedi...I'd send you one of those smiley emoticons...except I doubt your site would support them!
    >Regards,
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You asked:

    would the initial false claim for Upper Tiles have been excused despite the validity of the 8 points?
    Your opponents would simply say, "No points for Upper Tiles. But yeah, you have your 8 points."

    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
    December 2, 2012


    Has the window of opportunity slammed shut?

    >From: irene z
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 5:31 AM
    >Subject: question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Here is my question-
    >Player 1 discards a tile. Player 2 calls it for exposure as Player 3 is picking the next tile (window of opportunity is still open because Player 3 has not put the tile on her rack). Doesn’t Player 3 have to return the tile to the wall? Player 3 is claiming because she touched the tile she must keep it.
    >Thanks,
    >Irene

    Irene,
    I've been discussing a not-too-dissimilar case with Doris S yesterday and today ("Who gets the discard," below). Player 3 having merely touched the tile, or even having picked it up, does not slam the window of opportunity on the live discard. Read FAQ 19C. You're an oldtimer (that is to say, you are not a new visitor to my site) so you know where the FAQs are. Please please please, always check the FAQs 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
    December 2, 2012


    Who gets the discard, part 3

    >From: Doris S
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 4:23 AM
    >Subject: Window of Opportunity
    >Tom,
    >I can't let go of yesterday's question -- and your answer -- about who has the right to a called tile. I know there's no such thing as giving it to the person who calls it first, but once it's called and racked, shouldn't the window of opportunity close?
    >Doris

    Doris,
    I don't want to argue with you, and I can't justify the logic of the rule, since I didn't make the rule. I can only tell you what the rule is. The League sets the line at exposing from your hand, not on putting a taken discard atop the rack. Taken discards are treated differently from picked wall tiles.* If you want to argue it or get confirmation or refute the logic, you'll have to discuss it with the League. If you want to go to the League with it, I strongly recommend you do so in writing, not over the telephone. FAQ 19BN.
    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
    December 2, 2012

    * I don't use the term "racking" to refer to both (a) placing a picked wall tile on the sloping front of the rack and (b) placing a taken discard on the horizontal top of the rack. I call the former "racking" and the latter "melding." Once a player has done (a) then she's closed the window of opportunity on the live discard. Once a player has done (b) she still has to expose tiles from her hand before she has completed the move.


    Stealing nail polish

    >From: 000 <murrayhill_sue
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 12:55 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:Hi Tom, been a while since I contacted you about my mom's enrobed set. Don't know if you remember I said it had some stealing on the back seen in the pic's I sent U, well I finally decided to try to clean the tiles as you suggested with alcohol and guess what? it would appear my mom nail polished the backs? OK so this is my question was this a common practice? The only thing I can think of why she might have done it is to make the tiles slide quicker? Like I mentioned in our earlier conversations she was an avid player and played a really fast game. The front's are fine, don't know if I should mess with it using nail polish remover or just leave it be? Any suggestions? Thanks hope all is well and the best for the Holidays.
    >This eMail address only excepts Replies from address Sent too or on Record

    Hello, 000. You wrote:

    been a while since I contacted you about my mom's enrobed set. Don't know if you remember I said it had some stealing on the back seen in the pic's I sent U, well I finally decided to try to clean the tiles as you suggested with alcohol
    The only emails I have on file from "000" are a Set For Sale post in April and a question about Rummikub in March. I never heard the term "stealing" in reference to visible defects before, and I don't know what it means. I do not recall having ever advised using alcohol to clean tiles. Must have been someone else.

    it would appear my mom nail polished the backs? OK so this is my question was this a common practice? The only thing I can think of why she might have done it is to make the tiles slide quicker?
    I don't know. Maybe she did it to protect the finish.

    don't know if I should mess with it using nail polish remover or just leave it be? Any suggestions?
    I think you should tread carefully. If the old nail polish is unsightly or detracts from the tiles' value, then it should be removed. But you don't want to use anything that will damage the tiles. See if there are any tips in FAQ 7o (seven oh, not seventy).

    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
    December 4, 2012


    Wrong tile count before dealer's first discard

    >From: "ellennusbacher
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 9:42 PM
    >Subject: (no subject)
    >In our game tonight, after the charleston was over and just as the better was about to make her bet, one of the players said she had 17 tiles. The first tile hadn't been thrown yet and I declared that person dead. The others in the game said to just throw in the tiles and start over. What is the correct thing to do?

    Hi, Ellen.
    See rule 9 on page 18 of the official rulebook (rule 92.c. on page 60 of my book). Throw the tiles in. If you don't own either book, please buy a book!
    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
    December 3, 2012


    Do you know why the 1 Bam is always a bird?

    >From: Roben
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 8:42 PM
    >Subject: Do you know why the 1 Bam is always a bird?

    No. I don't.
    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
    December 3, 2012


    Who gets the discard, part 2

    >From: Doris S
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 6:13 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question about calling for a tile
    >Wow! I'm really impressed at how promptly you were able to answer my question -- even though it wasn't the answer I was hoping to hear! I guess my friend will have to learn to play faster
    >Doris


    Who gets the discard?

    >From: Doris S
    >Cc: casheww
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 4:11 AM
    >Subject: Question about calling for a tile
    > The question is : at what point in time may a second claimant call for a tile. Last week when I was playing with Sue (to my left) Joan P (across from me) discarded a 6 bam. I called for it, placed it on the rack and was getting the other tiles to make the meld when Sue said Wait, I want that tile and it went to her because she was closest to Joan. I figured there was probably some guideline on that situation but no rush. That’s the first time I’ve ever encountered that one so it isn’t likely to occur very often. Usually you both call for the tile simultaneously but I did find it interesting (neither of us won either because I ended up giving the maj to Joan having no other tile to discard.)

    Hi, Doris.
    Since you had not yet exposed tiles from your hand, Sue gets the tile. See 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 ).
    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
    December 3, 2012


    From confidence to "oopsie" in one swell foop

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 6:04 AM
    >Subject: Love or Hate!
    >Hi Tom,
    >I wonder if you have ever confidently built a hand only to realise that you were in fact doomed to fail?
    >Here we were playing MCR, all my opponents seemed to be aggressively melding Bams...I had a mixture, slowly but surely moving towards Upper Tiles for 24 points, or Upper Four for 12. I had a pair of East Winds that I knew I had to lose if I was to gain either hand..except I was concentrating so much on my opponents, carefully watching which if any Bams I could throw with safety that when an East Wind was discarded I automatically went Pung!
    >I carried on forming my Upper Tiles...7,8,9 Dots; 7,8,9 Craks, 9,9,9 Dots and, er, E,E,E Winds. I had a single 8 Dots too, then drew a second for my Pair. Hu!
    >Only of course it wasn't! Well actually it was, but not for what I wanted. As soon as I started trying to state Upper Tiles, I realised "not with those Honours it isn't!". And so did everyone else.
    >Trying to save face, I counted what I really had...
    >Mixed Double Chow (1), One Voided Suit (1), Single Wait (1), Tile Hog (2), Self Draw (1)..that's just 6 points, except I also got Prevalent Wind (2)...that gave me my 8!
    >The others thought this rather amusing, so let me have the points...not sure a competition would have been quite so generous? I went from loving MCR to hating it within a few seconds...recovered somewhat at the end, but a low profile will be kept in my games for a few days!
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    I had a pair of East Winds that I knew I had to lose ... an East Wind was discarded I automatically went Pung!
    Those beginner reflexes are yet strong in you, young Jedi. This is precisely what I was talking about before when you asked why you were always finding yourself waiting to make the pair.

    drew a second for my Pair. Hu!
    I'm tryin' to tell ya. Quell that reflexive urge to swoop.

    The others thought this rather amusing, so let me have the points...not sure a competition would have been quite so generous?
    If you have eight points, you have eight points. Why would anybody deny a player any legitimate points?

    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
    December 3, 2012


    Pls add my link - and there are some broken links

    >From: Mark K, glowingeyegames
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2012 4:57 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong Solitaire Link
    >Dear Tom,
    >I’ve noticed that on your mahjong solitaire page (http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq04.htm ) and I was hoping that you might also include my site.
    >My site is
    >http://www.mahjonggamesfreeonline.com/
    >Here you can play from a large, handpicked collection of the best free mahjong solitaire games.
    >We also have our own version Mahjong Connect (Shisensho)
    >http://www.mahjonggamesfreeonline.com/mahjong-games/mahjong-connect.html
    >This version of Shisensho is a fast moving version of mahjong connect, played against the timer with multiple layouts and falling tiles.
    >Also while I was exploring this FAQ I found several links that are no longer valid
    >http://www.geocities.com/jimgray.geo/ (an old free geo cities website, and geo cities is now closed down completely)
    >http://members.tripod.com/%7Emissmoose/cardgames.html (an old free tripod site, again these have been shut down by the new owners)
    >http://mahjongsolitaire.net/ (this site is now domain parked)
    >http://www.mahjong.com (which is now owned by gamehouse.com, which is already in your links. This just forwards people to gamehouse now).
    >Best regards
    >Mark

    Hi, Mark. You wrote:

    on your mahjong solitaire page (http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq04.htm
    Correction: my solitaire tile-matching page is FAQ 12. That's where those links are and that's where your link will go.

    I was hoping that you might also include my site.
    >My site is
    >http://www.mahjonggamesfreeonline.com/
    >Here you can play from a large, handpicked collection of the best free mahjong solitaire games.
    >We also have our own version Mahjong Connect (Shisensho)
    >http://www.mahjonggamesfreeonline.com/mahjong-games/mahjong-connect.html
    I'll put up one link to your main page; players can navigate to your shisensho page from there.

    while I was exploring this FAQ I found several links that are no longer valid
    Thank you very much, Mark. I'll delete 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
    December 3, 2012


    Majiang Competition Rules ("Chinese Official")

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2012 4:32 PM
    >Subject: Prohibit two Pure Shifted Chows?
    >Hi Tom,
    >I wonder if you can help score another hand! MCR rules again.
    >I got the following hand, all Bams.
    >2,3,4
    >3,4,5
    >4,5,6
    >6,7,8
    >9,9.
    >We all agreed that the hand scores for All Chows (2) and Full Flush (24), but we couldn't agree whether the hand gets one or two Pure Shifted Chows (16).
    >The first is 2,3,4; 3,4,5 and 4,5,6 (the chows shifted by one number)
    >The second is 2,3,4; 4,5,6 and 6,7,8 (the chows shifted by two numbers)
    >We think this goes against the "Prohibition Against Identical Patterns", and as two of the chows are common in the above examples, only one of them counts. But we are not sure...so we went to your book, and believe it similar to the example you quote when discussing this Prohibition (page 194, example 3). Are we right? Is the pattern really identical when the chows differ in how many numbers they are shifted?
    >I'd been losing most games tonight, those I did win just scraping the required 8 points. This hand came as a nice finale!
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. From your email:

    >The first is 2,3,4; 3,4,5 and 4,5,6 (the chows shifted by one number)
    >The second is 2,3,4; 4,5,6 and 6,7,8 (the chows shifted by two numbers)

    From FAQ 22:

      10.1.5.5. Prohibition against repetitive set usage ("combine-just-once") Once some sets have been combined for a scoring pattern, any other remaining sets in the hand may be combined only once with an already-scored set, when creating additional scoring patterns.

    Similar wording is in my book (rule 64.d. on page 139) The "other remaining set" in this hand is the 6,7,8. You can combine it "only once" with "an" already-scored set (one already-scored set).

    Because the translation from the Chinese is iffy, I can't be 100% certain (although I negotiated that wording over several emails, so I believe it to be accurate), but I believe that you cannot make the second Pure Shifted Chows because in order to do so, you have to use two already-scored sets. You can combine the 6,7,8 with the 3,4,5 to make a Short Straight, though.

    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
    December 1, 2012


    Our beginners group, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Friday, November 30, 2012 11:47 AM
    >Subject: Our beginners group - what's going wrong...a few observations from another novice.
    >Hi Tom,
    >Picking up Susan's message about learning the game I thought I'd let you know how I have gone about learning to play, as well a giving a few other thoughts.
    >As you may recall, I have been playing only since about September, so the experience of a complete novice may help others understand the challenges of learning to play. I think learning MCR rules has been easier than learning American would have been; having read your book which shows how to play both variants, I think I'd have struggled too if I had gone American first.
    >
    >I have a friend who, though doesn't play Mah Jong much himself, is from Hong Kong and introduced me to an iPad version of the game and was able to show me the meanings of the Tiles (the game was in Chinese with no western indices on the tiles). And although this wasn't MCR rules, the process of gaining Pungs, Chows, Kongs, getting to know the Tiles and occasionally winning sparked my interest. A short while later, I joined MahJongTime, the on-line multi-variant game, where I played "Hong Kong" style for free with other on-line players from across the world. All this time I was playing games with no minimum score required, and although I found this an entertaining and an interesting game it seemed to me to have too great an element of luck and games were over very quickly, (it is quite easy getting sets of Pungs and Chows when they don't have to form a score value).
    >
    >I kept seeing games on MahJongTime that had a minimum score required, so thinking these would be more challenging, I tried a few games. I lost all of them as I didn't understand how to score points. I thought this definitely more challenging so I'd better learn more. At which point I bought your book Tom and pressed a few friends in to learning to play properly.
    >
    >As there was lots of information on-line about MCR scoring patterns, your book explains them clearly and we didn't have to buy anything (other than a Mah Jong set of course, to play American you have to buy the NMJL card too) we decided to go MCR. Innocently, we also thought that MCR would be the most commonly played variant...not at all sure about that now though!
    >
    >We did exactly what you suggest, Tom, and played many hands where we could all see each others tiles, simply trying to get any hand to gain a minimum 8 point hand (MCR requires a minimum 8 point scoring hand to claim Mah Jong...to go Hu!). We didn't worry about who won, simply trying to get a hand to have the minimum points. We've also found an iPad Mah Jong app that provided a very playable MCR game, and in English...this we played over and over again; a great advantage of this app is that it shows you the detail of the winning hand analysing how the points have been assessed, this is really useful when learning how to score. We all found this concentration on how to gain a winning hand much more useful than simply trying to win against each other.
    >
    >Since then we've progressed at different rates, largely down to individual levels of interest in the intricacies and strategies of the MCR game. We don't have a teacher, indeed we don't know anyone else who plays at all...the game doesn't seem that common in the UK, I have never come across anyone that plays. I know that are some players here in the UK as you see some names on the Internet, but it seems to be very few.
    >
    >I think Susan has much more opportunity to find other players and teachers of the game (I'm assuming Susan is in the US) but if that proves not to be the case I wonder if it'd be easier to learn a simpler variant than jumping straight in to American. I think my experience of trying quite simple games first, that is those with no minimum score needed to win, meant I could learn much of the basics without being challenged with having to arrange any specific pattern. I think the American variant, being pattern based, with some patterns appearing quite complex (judged by picking up on them from your Strategy column, Tom), is a very difficult starting point...maybe trying your own simple variant (FAQ10) would be a better starting point. I suppose there's a small risk of Chows being confusing when transferring to the American game, but that really does seem easy enough to overcome once the basics have been grasped. I realise that in FAQ10 you suggest you should learn American without learning an Asian variant, I think without a good teacher it'd be a struggle...(actually, I just read again the intro to FAQ10, I'm not now sure that is what you mean?).
    >
    >We haven't tried American yet, we'd like too but we may wait on next year's NMJL card. We have enough confidence that we'll be able to work out the hands, though we don't yet follow the Charleston...I think we'll need to try that one out many times with your book open! We also may learn Riichi...but we think we'd need to find someone who knows this variant first to help us, so it may never happen.
    >
    >Of course, what has reply helped, probably above all else is this site (Sloperman, Mah Jong super hero), reading the FAQs, the strategy columns...even those about non-MCR variants are a pleasure to read..., the fact that you have been very patient with what must appear to be quite simplistic questions from me over the last few months.
    >So Susan, don't get disheartened. Once you get into Mah Jong and the wins start coming, you'll never let go! The game has such intricacies, different strategies, challenging and interesting game play as well as some of the friendliest and open players willing to share their learning on the internet that it's a game for life!
    >Regards
    >Ray H


    Our beginners group - what's going wrong?

    >From: susan v
    >Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:55 AM
    >Subject: nobody is winning
    >Hi, my friends and I are learning to play Mah Jongg. We play only 1time /month, so our learning curve is not very steep. So far we have played 5 games, and no one has managed to get a mah jongg. We all have the book 'A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg' It's getting discouraging-any suggestions?
    >Thanks,
    >Susan V
    ><font color="#407f00" size="4">Susan V

    Hi, Susan.
    If you're playing only one time each month, and you've only tried playing 5 times (and I assume you're all self-taught), then I'm not surprised nobody has yet managed to make mah-jongg. A month is a long time. People forget how to play. It's normal and recommended to play once a week instead (especially for beginners).

    If you have not had a teacher (if you've all worked out how to play from that book), then I think it's time to bring in a teacher. She can guide you all and tweak your play. Let me tell you how I teach. I have the players expose all their tiles atop their racks, so I can speak openly to them about strategy (and so the other players can benefit and learn from the tips I give one player). When everyone's tiles are open to everyone's view, students get a better picture of what works, more quickly. Even if you can't find a teacher to guide you, you could give that technique a try. Rather than each player trying to win, the group should be trying to level-up their play, to learn faster. Look at one another's tiles, give each other ideas about what she might do. The goal should be to get somebody (anybody) to win (and that would educate everyone).

    Also, I don't know if you have food and drink on the table, music playing, a TV on, iPhones ringing, or everyone chatting. Distractions and a lack of focus also might be a factor.

    Good luck! 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
    November 29, 2012


    Score this hand

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:59 PM
    >Subject: Help with an MCR points total.
    >Hi Tom,
    >Can you help score this hand? We were playing MCR again tonight, this was to be the last game.
    >I went out on a self drawn 6 Dots with
    >5,6,7 Craks (exposed)
    >5,6,7 Dots (exposed)
    >5,6,7 Dots
    >5,6,7 Dots
    >8,8 Craks
    >We scored this as
    >Pure Triple Chow (24) + All Chows (2) + Mixed Double Chow (1) + Closed Wait (1) + One Voided Suit (1) + All Simples (2) + Self Drawn (1). A healthy 32 points (from each player + 8 from each player too). A great end to an otherwise mediocre set or rounds, for me anyway! And the first time I'd achieved a Pure Triple Chow.
    >We all thought there may be more points in this hand, but we couldn't see if we'd gone wrong. Do you score the hand the same as we did? Standard MCR scoring method apply, we don't have any "house rules". We believe only one Mixed Double Chow can be counted.
    >Thanks!
    >Regards,
    >Ray H

    I don't see anything else, Ray.
    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
    November 29, 2012


    When did the League require 12F/4J and when were jokers forbidden in pairs?

    >From: "JackieR23
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 1:31 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I would like to know in what year did we start to play with 12 flowers and 4 jokers and also what year did we start to play no jokers for pairs eg: flowers etc.
    >Thank you very much
    >Jackie R

    Hi Jackie,
    Welcome to my website.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Questions that I've answered in FAQs and in my column. Read FAQ 19S and column 509. If you're interested, FAQ 11H has a complete mah-jongg timeline.
    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
    November 28, 2012


    My Craftmaster set, part 3

    >From: Margot G
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12:01 PM
    >Subject: Re: 1923 Craftmaster Corporation Ma-Jong set
    >Thank You Tom!
    >You've been of great help to me. :-)
    >Margot


    This isn't covered in the rules I read (part 2)

    >From: "ldainaz
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 1:04 PM
    >Subject: Re: mahjong Q&A
    >In your reply on the board, you asked which website I did not see my question on. Well, it was more like there is NO information under the rules that I was taught. That would be Linda Fisher's rules. The person that taught me the game used her rules. Unfortunately, they are woefully incomplete. We have had so many questions come up that were not covered in her rules pages. I have since found the National Mahjongg Federation rules which are much more comprehensive but still not totally complete.
    >There is one on their site that still has me a little confused and , if you would care to clarify that also, that would be super. It is rule #8 under "more details about jokers". It says you cannot exchange for a joker for the purpose of claiming the last discard or for mahjong. Now, that is just Greek to me.
    >Thank you again. As soon as I pay my bills , I will see if I have enough to do a donation.

    Hi ldainaz,
    I see. You learned from someone who taught herself, based on a website, and neither you nor your teacher has ever read the actual rules. I think every person who plays mah-jongg ought to read the official rules -- especially someone who teaches another. You owe it to the people with whom you play (and teachers owe it to their students). The National Mah Jongg League rulebook isn't that expensive (it's about half the price of my book, which fills in some gaps). You also wrote:

    National Mahjongg Federation... rule #8 ... says you cannot exchange for a joker for the purpose of claiming the last discard or for mahjong. Now, that is just Greek to me.
    I'm just going by what you've written (I don't care to go on their site and look it up), but I am guessing they're saying that you have to have your 14th tile before you can redeem a joker. See FAQ 19M here on my site (scroll up and find the FAQ 19 link at the left - it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ).

    As soon as I pay my bills , I will see if I have enough to do a donation.
    That would be very generous.

    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
    November 28, 2012


    My Craftmaster set, part 2

    >From: Margot G
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:54 AM
    >Subject: Re: 1923 Craftmaster Corporation Ma-Jong set
    >Hello Tom,
    >Thank You so much for such a fast reply! :-)
    >Regarding the condition of my set - which I had failed to mention..oops, sorry about that.
    >All the tiles are in excellent condition - no cracks, no chips or separation of the "mystery materials".
    >To quote your response:
    > "I do not know what your Craftmaster tiles are made of -- apparently some sort of patented process;...."
    >Hmm.. I wonder if That was the patent that if being referred to on the tiles....just a thought - there may be no way to ever know.
    >The sticks are also all in very good to excellent condition, and from counting I have them all (based on the instruction booklet included in the set), plus a few extra.
    >The instruction booklet is complete and in fine condition with no tears or dog-ears.
    >The box it came in is another story...... The exterior of the box basically disintegrated - the interior survived in fair to good condition.
    >I assume the value of a Mah-Jongg set includes the original box?
    >Next chance I get I will endeavor to get you some nice close-ups of the tiles.
    >Thank you so much for your response!
    >Margot

    Hi, Margot.
    Okay, so the tiles and sticks and other hard pieces are all in excellent condition, the manual is in only fine condition, but the box is just fair. If the tile faces are celluloid, it's very thin celluloid. I estimate the set's value at somewhere in the vicinity of US$50-60.
    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
    November 28, 2012


    Is it okay to take a discard without the verbal call?

    >From: j speicher
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 5:50 AM
    >Subject: calling for a tile
    >Dear Mr. Sloper, does a player need to verbally call for a discarded tile? I have played with a few people who just pick up the discarded tile from the previous player and rack it without saying "call." Is this ok?
    >--
    >J Speicher

    Dear Ms. Speicher,
    It might be okay, IF the players are all very experienced players who are known to pay close attention to the whole table with their eyes, not only their ears, AND if it's not a tournament, AND if none of the players are afraid to speak out when a verbalization is skipped. Players in a game need to communicate with one another and all be on the same page as to which rules may be bent once in a while.
    AND, of course, IF I am correct in my assumption that you misspoke when you said she "racked" the taken discard -- one is supposed to MELD a taken discard atop the rack (with matching tiles), not "rack" it (place it among her concealed tiles on the sloping front of the rack).
    The smart player would pay more attention to a discard taken without verbalization -- not less, which might be the sneaky or unconscious reason for not verbalizing the call. Another thing one might do is to say (for the benefit of the not-paying-attention players, not that they deserve it), "oh, you're calling that one bam."
    The rules say that a call is to be spoken aloud, but people bend the rules all the time. There is no "mah-jongg police" who'll swoop in and write someone a ticket if she steps out of line. We have to police ourselves. Some neighborhoods police less, some police more. In those neighborhoods where the police are lax, the laws tend to be bent or broken more often. But some people are okay with that.
    So "okay" is relative.
    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
    November 28, 2012


    My Craftmaster set

    >From: Margot G
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 1:39 PM
    >Subject: 1923 Craftmaster Corporation Ma-Jong set
    >HI Tom,
    >I have loved perusing your website and discovering all kinds of interesting facts about Mahjong sets! What a great resource! Thanks.
    >Anyway, I am one of many you hear from trying to determine the value of a Mahjong set that I acquired.
    >I surfed your site as I said, and found FAQ-7g (How old is my Mah-jongg set?) and surprise! you have right up top a sample Q&A about the set I am researching!
    >Quote:

      Q>"I have a Craftmaster set that says it was made in 1915. The tiles have Western indices and English rules. That seems to contradict the information on your site that says such sets shouldn't have existed before 1920. What gives?"
      A>As near as I can figure out, Craftmaster Corporation made that set in 1923 (the date on the instruction booklet). The game includes a tile that refers to a 1915 patent application. I imagine that the 1915 patent application was for some kind of game tiles (which probably didn't yet have mah-jongg designs on them in 1915). In checking patent numbers at www.uspto.gov, I found that patents granted in 1915 would all have to fall into the range of 11233212 through 1166418 - I couldn't find information on patent application numbers for 1915, nor what Craftmaster was trying to patent in 1915. If anybody finds definitive information on "Craftmaster tile patent application, serial number 640731 series of 1915," please post it on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board.

    >But...I cannot find any further posts regarding the set - I tried to search the Q&A and could not even find the original post to see any further answers/posts.
    >I am interested in what you might think the material is that's made of, as it's quite thin (approx. 3/8")
    >Yes, I did look at your section 7C - but nothing seems to come close except maybe casein. I've seen this set called Catalin and French Ivory too.
    >I have no clue as to the black backing though it is as hard as the front so it's not wood.
    >I am also interested in an approximate value if possible.
    >It has 144 playing tiles, 4 blank tiles for lost tiles and 4 tiles containing the patent notice.
    >2 dice - French Ivory?
    >4 Wind Indicators marked N, S, E and W.
    >Sticks for betting/scoring
    >4 wooden racks, 3 red and 1 black.
    >There’s an ingenious multiplication table which is located on the bottom of each wooden rack.
    >I have some photos of the same set that I have gleaned from the internet (sorry - I know they're not laid out the way you like) - I have no idea if the original post contained these - so my apologies if you've seen them before.
    >Let me know if I've left something out that would help you with this set, or if there's any further information you can direct me to.
    >Thanks so much for your consideration.
    >Margot

    Hi, Margot. You wrote:

    trying to determine the value of a Mahjong set that I acquired.
    It depends on the condition. If you mentioned the condition, I didn't see it in your email.

    what you might think the material is that's made of, as it's quite thin (approx. 3/8")
    >Yes, I did look at your section 7C - but nothing seems to come close except maybe casein. I've seen this set called Catalin and French Ivory too.
    I thought I had one of those in my collection, but I don't have the time to check (and I don't recall one whose tiles are as thin as yours, with those red slotted racks in your photo). The tile designs do look familiar. They look somewhat like my "Mah-Jongg Junior" set, which I think is paper on wood. I do not know what your Craftmaster tiles are made of -- apparently some sort of patented process; hard to tell without touching and feeling them myself. There do appear to be striations (horizontal) across the faces of your tiles, but I would need clearer closeups to tell if they might be so-called "French ivory" (celluloid). They do not look like catalin.

    Let me know if I've left something out that would help you with this set,
    You left out the condition of all the parts so I can estimate your set's value.

    or if there's any further information you can direct me to.
    Nope. Just FAQ 7P.

    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
    November 27, 2012


    This isn't covered in the rules I read

    >From: "ldainaz
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 12:11 PM
    >Subject: mahjong Q&A
    >Hi. I read through all the rules and do not think this was covered anywhere. When a player picks up a discard they do not get another turn right? Like if it would normally be their turn but they take a discard from the previous player. That would be their turn and they would not be able to draw from the pile too right?
    >Thank you

    That's right, ldainaz - on your turn you EITHER pick from the wall OR take the live discard. I have to ask: in what book or on what website did you read through all the rules, as you say? That's either a bad book or website, or I might be able to pinpoint the location of that important tidbit of information. I hope you'll let me know! I want to see that book or website.
    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
    November 27, 2012


    MCR

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, November 26, 2012 1:35 PM
    >Subject: Any MCR hands yet to be?
    >Hi Tom,
    >I've a couple of questions, one rather pointless but I'd be interested anyway!
    >The first question is whether there are any MCR fan that you have yet to achieve? I managed two new ones for me tonight (well, two in one really). That was Knitted Straight and Lesser Honours and Knitted Tiles, giving me 24 points...I was really pleased to achieve a new fan for me, let alone two!
    >My second less pointless question (!) is about assessing how many tiles are needed to be Ready. I just read that if you are still three or four tiles from being Ready when there's been 6-8 discard rounds then you should give up on the hand and go defensive. But with so many low scoring fan that can be achieved, I'd have thought that there is still time to revise the strategy and go for a win. I know you advise about Opening/Middle/End with Develop/Attack/Defend characteristics, so the 6-8 discards mentioned before put us only just in to the Middle-Attack stage...does your advice effectively differ from and not include how far from being Ready the hand is?
    >Regards
    >Ray Heaton

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    The first question is whether there are any MCR fan that you have yet to achieve?
    I don't know, Ray. I suppose there are several. I did manage to make Thirteen Orphans in a tournament once. I have not been checking off fan to track which ones I have made.

    I just read that if you are still three or four tiles from being Ready when there's been 6-8 discard rounds then you should give up on the hand and go defensive. But with so many low scoring fan that can be achieved, I'd have thought that there is still time to revise the strategy and go for a win. ...6-8 discards mentioned before put us only just in to the Middle-Attack stage...
    I don't know if I would follow that advice if I was 3 tiles away, and I see only one row of discards in front of each player. If I was 4 tiles away and I saw 1.3 row of discards (almost 1.5), I might start experiencing some diminishing expectations.
    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
    November 26, 2012


    Waiting to make a pair, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, November 26, 2012 1:40 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: The Pair
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for the guidance..."Try going for chows more often, and pungs less often. Make the pair as early as you can, and, um, don't pung it..."
    >I win most of my games now through Mixed Triple Chow (or it's close relative, Mixed Shifted Chows), and gaining the Pair in those circumstances seems straightforward enough.
    >I suppose then, the best and simple advice is not to get in to the situation late in a game where I don't have a Pair - if I've left it late, then grab the Pair however I can!
    >Regards,
    >Ray H


    How do I avoid always waiting to make a pair?

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2012 3:00 AM
    >Subject: The Pair
    >Hi Tom,
    >My MCR question today is about The Pair.
    >Recent games have left me with just the matching tile to make a pair late in the game. More often than not, this fails...sometimes through lack of observation where the tiles have already been exposed for which I offer no excuse; more often by the tiles I need being concealed in an opponent's hand (revealed at the end). Waiting on the pair towards the end of a game isn't the most sensible position to be in I suppose, but do you have any specific advice when in such a situation?
    >I have sometimes swapped the pair I'm looking for, especially if there are no like tiles exposed through opponent's discards or their exposed melds. And I have tried to work out which tiles are likely to be thrown so as to give the best chance of grabbing my pair. I also try to assess which tiles are left in the wall as far as I can...much easier when opponents hands are less concealed of course. But, still, most times, I fail to get the pair.
    >The other problem this gives me too, is in the discards I make...being defensive at the end means I may well give up on my hand to stop an opponent from winning and force a draw (or at least make sure it isn't my discard that wins it for an opponent). So, if all I'm looking for towards the end is a matching pair, this is made more difficult.
    >If its obvious that I'm waiting on the pair then my opponents are desperately trying not to discard the tile I want, so maybe there's some psychology to be taken advantage of here?
    >So, other than not getting in to this situation in the first place, any advice would be appreciated!
    >Regards,
    >Ray Heaton

    Try going for chows more often, and pungs less often. Make the pair as early as you can, and, um, don't pung 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
    November 25, 2012


    Where do I get translucent highlighter tape?

    >From: Angela M
    >Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2012 11:27 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong scoring card tape?
    >My mother-in-law's friend uses some type of yellow highlighter-type tape to cover specific hands on her cards. Do you know where I can find that type of thing? The friend can't remember where she got it.
    > Thank you,
    >Angel

    Try asking at office supply, stationery, and art supply stores. Seriously.
    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
    November 25, 2012


    This week's column

    >From: Elizabeth U
    >Sent: Friday, November 23, 2012 3:29 AM
    >Subject: Thank you!
    >Hello Tom,
    >No question this time, I am sending a thank you for the format you used in your weekly strategy column on November 18, #546. So many questions you answer deal with the American game so giving your followers and devotees (and there are many of us around the world) the opportunity to analyze your sample hands from our own game-playing perspective will make everyone happy especially those of us playing the MCR game!
    >I lead a group in Warsaw, Poland, and I made all the players, gradually and with gentle persuasion, switch to MCR a couple of years ago. We had been playing the 'Western/British' rules with a hodge-podge of Wright Air Force patterns thrown in. None of us can even think about playing the old way which gave very little room for changes in strategy and was based on 'dumb luck' more often than not, specifically with regard to concealed hands.
    >Please consider keeping that format for your weekly strategy column.
    >Thank you and na zdrowie (best of health),
    >Elizabeth Urban, member of the International Women's Group of Warsaw
    >ps When are you coming to Poland?

    Dzien dobry, Elizabeth.
    I'm glad you enjoyed the format of this week's column. In order to make WWYD exercises in three variants, I had to omit three kinds of tiles.
    - Flowers - the American game uses the flower tiles in the hand to make pairs and kongs. In MCR, as you know, flowers are "luck tiles" that are usually melded the instant dealt or picked, so would look out of place in a WWYD exercise. And the Japanese do not even have flower tiles on the table during play.
    - Jokers - the American game uses jokers as "wild tiles" that can represent any tile but may only be used in pungs, kongs, or quints (never in a pair or to stand in for a single). These tiles do not belong in MCR or Japanese mah-jongg.
    - Red Fives - only the Japanese game uses these score-doublers. These tiles do not belong in American mah-jongg or MCR.
    As you know, there are eight flower tiles. There are also eight jokers. So having a hand with no flowers and no jokers is not a frequent occurrence in American mah-jongg. I guess this is my long-winded way of saying that I can't always make my WWYD exercises ecumenical in the way I did in this week's column. I shall consider resuming writing columns that cover un-American variants, though, since I am getting mail from beyond the borders. All I needed was reader input!
    I did make my way to Poland one time. I was producing a Nintendo game in 2005 and went to the Netherlands for the first Open European Mahjong Championship. The studio who was programming the game was in Poland, under the oversight of a Danish developer. Whenever possible, a producer wants to meet the team, so as long as I was in Europe anyway, I made my way over there. Flew into Berlin, was picked up by my Danish counterpart, who drove us up the autobahn and into Poland, to Szczecin. I was only there one night, sadly. And I have no travel plans, but I appreciate the kind thought.
    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
    November 23, 2012


    Extra info for the FAQs

    >From: Nicholas Cheung
    >Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2012 5:19 PM
    >Subject: Extra notes on FAQ 13c and FAQ 7e
    >Hi Tom:
    >Just want to let you know on a couple of uncommon variants with Japanese
    >mahjong...
    >For FAQ 13c-
    >I'd like to add that one variant of 3-player Japanese mahjong that does
    >happen, but very rarely, is not to treat the north winds as "flowers."
    >As such, they count as separate 1 han dora each in a winning hand, and if
    >the West wind is the dora indicator, each north wind counts as 2 han dora in
    >a winning hand - and the "dead wall" will contain 14 tiles as normal instead
    >of 18 tiles.
    >For FAQ 7e-
    >Most Japanese sets come with red fives, but a very small number of Japanese
    >sets come with red threes or red sevens instead of red fives. With that
    >said, the San Group conglomerate of mahjong parlors is well known for using
    >red threes (specifically, two red 3-pin tiles), instead of any red fives.
    >Thank you again.
    >Nicholas Cheung

    Great info, Nicholas. I'll add that right away. Sorry your email fell through the cracks. When I was mentioning red fives in my response to Elizabeth (above), I realized I hadn't yet acted on your email. Better late than never, I suppose!
    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
    November 23, 2012


    A goulash of various comments

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, November 19, 2012 11:22 PM
    >Subject: Strategy Column 546
    >Hi Tom,
    >Looking at Strategy Column 546: MCR rules;
    >#1. I think there's a danger here of not getting sufficient points. All chows is just 2 points, All Simples is only another 2, so this leaves us well short. May need to think about Mixed Triple Chow, but that won't be easy as we'd need to self draw either a 4 or 6 Bams (for a 4,5,6 Mixed Triple Chow).
    >#2. You suggest throwing Bams...this can get the hand to One Voided Suit, but then what? Would Mixed Straight be a better option (1,2,3 Craks, 4,5,6 Dots, 7,8,9 Bams); so maybe a 2 or 7 Dots is a better discard?
    >#3. Agreed, that'd be my choice.
    >#4. Agreed. It never occurs to me to go Reversible Tiles. The tiles I use don't even have western numerals on them, so there's no excuse! I think this hand has a way to go yet though, the 2 Bams is a bit stuck on its own, the 5,6 Bams will need a 4 Bams, the 8 Bams is a bit lonely too (the 7 Bams not being reversible).
    >#5, #6, #7. Agreed.
    >#8. Agreed, but I know I'd be very tempted to go All Pungs, with a Double Pung for the other 2 points.
    >#9,#10. Agreed, I just failed to get All Pairs the other night...went for ages waiting on the last pair, turned out another player had them in a concealed Pung! Nothing lost though, as nobody else went Hu! either.
    >#11. Agreed, I'd most likely hope for Mixed Triple Chow but if the 7 Craks came up I doubt I'd resist...then I'd need several low scoring Fan to make the 8 points.
    >As an aside, I bought "The Mah Jong Players Companion", by Thompson and Maloney the other day...it was in a local Charity Shop for £1 (around $1.30 I think). It's a nicely illustrated book, but I doubt I'll ever use the hands. The book also refers to things I haven't heard before...Fishing? Goulash? There's no Jokers or Flowers in any of the hands, so I guess it's not an American derivative. I may keep the book as a curiosity, but if any of your readers are desperate for the book, I'd be happy to send it to them at no charge.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.

    #1. I think there's a danger here of not getting sufficient points.
    The hand is far from developed at this point. There may be similar chows or shifted chows to come. One usually has to supplement a chow hand with shifted chows and short straights, etc.

    #2. You suggest throwing Bams...this can get the hand to One Voided Suit, but then what?
    The reason for throwing bams is to break up that awkward 7-9 split. It's also the only terminal in the hand. There may be possibilities for a pungs hand here, or a chows hand, and something has to be chucked at this early stage. The problem with the Mixed Straight as you suggest is that every chow needed is a bad one: a 2-3 needing a 1 only, a 4-6 split, a 7-9 split. I don't like targeting a Mixed Straight with such poor ammo. Another possibility that I see now is Triple Pung in sevens, so while the 9B can go, maybe the 7B should stay.

    "The Mah Jong Players Companion", by Thompson and Maloney... It's a nicely illustrated book, but I doubt I'll ever use the hands.
    Why on earth would you? You would only use those hands if you played the Western/British game. This book is not a stand-alone -- it's a "companion" book to their main book, The Game Of Mah Jong Illustrated. See FAQ 3.

    The book also refers to things I haven't heard before...Fishing? Goulash?
    Fishing is what you're doing when your hand is ready, waiting for one more tile to win. The goulash is akin to the American game's Charleston, but it's not done on every hand (instead, it's done only after a draw game).

    There's no Jokers or Flowers in any of the hands, so I guess it's not an American derivative
    T&M are from Australia. Their style of mah-jongg is played in countries of the old British Empire. See FAQ 2B. It developed in the hands of women players after the fall of Chinese Classical in the mid-twenties. I suspect it may have developed in North America before being documented by British authors (that would explain the presence of the Civil War special hand, and the similarity between the Charleston and the goulash).

    Actually, another clue might be the term "goulash" itself. My mom used to make a casserole that had macaroni and paprika and some vaguely Italian meat sauce stuff in it, and she called it goulash. According to dictionary.com, vegetables ought to be in it too. (The term is also used to mean a hodgepodge mixture, and it's also a term from bridge, the card game.) So as far as I can tell, the term "goulash" is common in America. If it's not that common in the U.K., then that would also hint at an American origin for the mah-jongg variant.

    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
    November 20, 2012


    Alice, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, November 18, 2012 12:27 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: I don't believe it!
    >Hi Tom,
    >Ha Ha Ha! Had me fooled! No, l looked at pictures of Alice Brock and could see no resemblance to anyone in your photos.
    >Phew, that means my wins weren't fate after all....I must be getting more skilled (thanks to your book, all the advice you have given and playing rather obsessively over the last few months). I have applied your suggestions about "shift the focus of one suit toward the focus of the other suits" to good effect, as well as the other strategies you advise.
    >Did you see Arlo Guthrie at Woodstock?
    >Regards,
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    "Fate" and "luck" come in waves. I've had weeks in a row where I was winning, followed by weeks in a row where I was losing. Even the most skilled player has to deal with luck.
    No, we only heard one band before we got tired of the heat, humidity, mud, and crowd: Quill. My dear departed friend Norm remembered their name, but I found their music forgettable.
    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
    November 2, 2012


    Wondering in AliceLand

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2012 1:27 PM
    >Subject: I don't believe it!
    >Hi Tom,
    >While sitting in the car waiting for my wife, Tracy, to finish off some shopping today, I listened to a Radio show (BBC Radio Four) about Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant". It was a really interesting show, and I did a bit more browsing about the song later.
    >Just now I was looking through your site, clicked on Mah-Jongg Friends and there you are at Alice's Restaurant (well, her house actually). Is that really Alice Brock in the photos?
    >To round off my day, I played several games of MCR...won every one! Maybe it was all fate?
    >Regards,
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    I first heard Arlo Guthrie sing "Alice's Restaurant" in, I think, 1969. Then there was a movie in 1969. I saw it. So when I was posting pictures of mah-jongg friends, and one was named Alice (and she used to be a waitress in a restaurant many years ago), I just decided to use the "Alice's restaurant" thing when I was naming the page (http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/alice.html). I never meant to make anyone thing that Alice was the "real" Alice of whom Arlo Guthrie sang.
    Not the same Alice.
    Congrats on your wins.
    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
    November 17, 2012


    Same question

    >From: Agnes
    >Sent: Friday, November 16, 2012 2:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We have a difference of opinion concerning a Mah Jongg rule. If you throw a joker, MUST you say "same," or can you just say "joker"?
    >If you say "same," can someone call the tile that was previously thrown? For example, if I throw an 8 Bam, the next person throws a joker and says "same," can someone call the 8 Bam?
    >Thanks. Agnes

    Hi, Agnes. You asked:

    If you throw a joker, MUST you say "same," or can you just say "joker"?
    You can say either.

    If you say "same," can someone call the tile that was previously thrown?
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19G.
    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
    November 16, 2012


    Who pays double?

    >From: patstiles44
    >Sent: Friday, November 16, 2012 8:06 AM
    >Subject: MahJongg question
    >In a recent game, I needed a flower and one other tile/joker for mahjongg.
    >The player to my right picked up a discard and displayed a grouping using a joker. I had the missing tile in my hand.
    >As play progressed, the player to my left discarded a flower.
    >I called and picked up the flower from the player to my left and then swapped the tile in my hand for the joker that was displayed by the player to my right.
    >This gave me MahJongg. Which player should have paid me double?
    >Thanks.
    >Pat S

    Hello, Pat.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19AN.
    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
    November 16, 2012


    Does the sole survivor get paid?

    >From: "jgbarreras2
    >Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:00 PM
    >Subject: 3 players 2 hands dead
    >we had 3 players, one noticed she only had 12 tiles, her hand is dead. game continued and 2nd players noticed she had 14 tiles. her hand was dead. the third player states she won and should be paid. we don"t agree. we think that the game is dead. who is right.
    > thank you

    Hello, jg.
    In the case of this kind of clusterflub, the tiles are thrown in and the hand is redealt. See rule 10.c. on page 18 of the official NMJL rulebook, or rule 92.c. on page 60 of my book. Although those written rules cover a 4-player game, it should be obvious that they apply to your 3-player situation. The sole survivor does not collect.
    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
    November 16, 2012


    Where do I subscribe?

    >From: Michael K
    >Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2012 3:19 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How do I sign up to receive your weekly column via email? Searched all over and couldn’t find this.
    >Michael S. K

    Hi, Michael.
    It never occurred to me to "push" the column via email to subscribers. It's an idea I'll be thinking about, but in the meantime the only way to read the column is to come to the site.
    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
    November 15, 2012


    Competition play (MCR)

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2012 12:25 AM
    >Subject: Competition hands
    >Hi Tom,
    >Although my opponents have managed a few high scoring fan over the last few months, yesterday I managed my first 32 pointer, "All Terminals and Honours". I got to wondering about MCR and whether, within competitions, higher scoring fan are achieved frequently or the very nature of competition means lower scoring fan are favoured?
    >Do you know if the winning hands in competition are recorded and published?
    >I have seen total points (table points and total game scores), but not the hands themselves; for example here from the 2012 Competition...
    >http://www.mahjongnews.com/en/index.php/wmc/wmc2012/2293-day3.html
    >I find it interesting that Duan Yanbin, ranked first, achieved 1570 MP (is this Match Points?) with 33 Table Points, whereas Zhang Zhangfei ranked second with just 732 MP and 30 Table Points.
    >Wu Jiangcheng had the second highest MP at 1034, but ranked down at 35th.
    >I'd guess from this that Duan managed a number of high scoring fan and Zhang concentrated on lower fan...but I suppose that Zhang may have lost big in some games. Maybe Wu did go for high scoring fan but didn't win enough games.
    >On a slightly different topic, some years back we had lots of Poker series shown on TV, although this seems to have decreased to almost nothing, now. Though I don't Poker play myself, it was interesting as the programme showed individual hands and assessed the player strategy as the game proceeded. Do you know if Mah Jong has been televised in a similar way and, if so, if any programmes are still available (on the Internet for example)? If not, with the number of players across the world, I'd have thought it'd be quite popular...ever thought of being a TV mogul?
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    I got to wondering about MCR and whether, within competitions, higher scoring fan are achieved frequently
    I would say that the top players make a higher percentage of high-scoring hands.

    or the very nature of competition means lower scoring fan are favoured?
    Actually, the 8-point required minimum means there is time to pursue high-scoring hands.

    Do you know if the winning hands in competition are recorded and published?
    They are not. At each table, the players are striving to play through a complete game within a tight time limit, so nobody is recording the winning combinations. And at a big tournament, they do not have cameras aimed at each player's hand. The logistics of recording winning combinations in a tournament setting are just too unwieldy.

    Do you know if Mah Jong has been televised in a similar way and, if so, if any programmes are still available (on the Internet for example)?
    Such shows are popular in Japan. Before the economy went sour and DVRs replaced VCRs, a friend in Japan used to send me videotapes of those shows. You can probably find them on YouTube. I'm sure the forum frequenters on ReachMahjong can point you to some.

    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
    November 15, 2012


    What if I don't want to dance, part 2

    >From: Elizabeth B
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 3:04 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks for your prompt response!


    What if I don't want to dance?

    >From: Elizabeth B
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 2:16 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What if I don't want to participate in the Charleston - doing so will be detrimental to my hand? Am I obligated to pass tiles?
    >Thank you.
    >Elizabeth H

    Hi, Elizabeth.
    If you are the dealer, and you have a "Heavenly Hand" (your hand is ready for mah-jongg, as originally dealt), then you can declare mah-jongg and you don't have to dance the Charleston. But if you can't declare mah-jongg on the initial deal, the Charleston is "compulsory" ("mandatory") for everyone. Read Frequently Asked Questions 19AG & 19BJ.
    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
    11/13/12


    Western/British rules, part 2

    >From: "d23shearer
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:34 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A for Western (Vanilla/British) play: Scoring Special Hands
    >Dear Tom,
    >Wow! We were so impressed with how fast you responded to our two Western Mah Jong questions! Thanks for your help.
    >Your website is just awesome. Keep up the good work!
    >Linda S

    You're welcome, Linda.
    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
    11/13/12


    Western/British rules

    >From: "d23shearer
    >Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 11:58 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A for Western (Vanilla/British) play: Replacement tiles for dealt flowers
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A small group of us is learning Western (Vanilla/British) Mah Jong. We are using the book "Mah Jong, Anyone? A Manual of Western Play, Revised Edition," by Strausser and Evans with new material by you, Tom Sloper. I searched the book and your online FAQs and strategies and etiquette sections, but still need your expert detailed advice on these question from our Western play group:
    >Dealing is done. Flower meld is exposed by all players.
    >Some players have one flower, but one player has 2 flowers.
    >Should each player that has a flower get one replacement tile from the Garden (Flower) Wall in turn, before the player with 2 flowers picks her second replacement tile from the Garden wall? ....
    >Or should the player with more than one flower pick both her flower replacement tiles at once from the Garden Wall (in her turn)?
    >May luck be with you,
    >Linda S
    >on behalf of the Quad Cities Mah Jong Divas!
    > d23shearer
    >
    >From: "d23shearer
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 12:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A for Western (Vanilla/British) play: Scoring Special Hands
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A small group of us is learning Western (Vanilla/British) Mah Jong. We are using the book "Mah Jong, Anyone? A Manual of Western Play, Revised Edition," by Strausser and Evans with new material by you, Tom Sloper. We would like your expert advice on thise question:
    >We have added to regular Mah Jong hands some Chapter 5 Special Hands (pair hands and sequence hands) to make the game more interesting. We keep track using counters. The Special Hands have a listed score value of limit, or half limit, etc. (We use 500 pts as our limit). The Chapter 4 scoring examples do not show special hands payouts. So our questions are:
    >a. When playing Western version, does everyone pay the winner of the Special Hand its listed score value (disregarding their own hand scores) ......or do the players score their hands and determine the difference for paying points to the winner? (We see that page 47 explains East Wind does pay/receive double, and double dice rules do pertain to Special Hands.)
    >b. If a player goes out with a Special Hand, is she the only one paid pts? or do the other players still score their hands and pay each other their score differences when the winner goes out with a Special Hand?
    >I enjoy reading your website and appreciate your taking time to guide us in all the wonderful world of Mah Jong, and its many variations. I found answers to questions about "racking" a drawn tile to stop picking up discarded tiles, and your emphasis on etiquette, espeically when playing with new or slower players. I also liked reading about how to determine of what materials our tiles are made.
    >Your web site is a blessing to us!
    >May luck be with you,
    >Linda S
    >on behalf of the Quad Cities Mah Jong Divas!
    >Linda and Don d23shearer

    Hi, Linda. You asked:

    Some players have one flower, but one player has 2 flowers.
    >Should each player that has a flower get one replacement tile from the Garden (Flower) Wall in turn, before the player with 2 flowers picks her second replacement tile from the Garden wall? ....
    >Or should the player with more than one flower pick both her flower replacement tiles at once from the Garden Wall (in her turn)?
    The latter. When the dealer has dealt herself two flowers, everybody is on hold until she has taken two replacement tiles and looked at them both to determine if either of those is a flower. If she picks another flower, she should say "flower" and take another replacement (ad infinitum until she's flower-free). When she is satisfied that she is no longer holding flowers, she should signal to the player to her right. I think it's a good practice to say, "done with flowers" (or some words to that effect), then ask the next player, "any flowers?" Each player in turn then replaces any flowers or says, "no flowers" (the Chinese say "meiyo," which means "got none") if she wasn't dealt any flowers.

    a. When playing Western version, does everyone pay the winner of the Special Hand its listed score value (disregarding their own hand scores) ......or do the players score their hands and determine the difference for paying points to the winner? (We see that page 47 explains East Wind does pay/receive double, and double dice rules do pertain to Special Hands.)
    See page 35. The winner is paid in full by everyone else. Then the others settle up among themselves.

    b. If a player goes out with a Special Hand, is she the only one paid pts? or do the other players still score their hands and pay each other their score differences when the winner goes out with a Special Hand?
    The winner is paid in full. Then the non-winners settle up among themselves. (I hope I've answered your questions.)

    I enjoy reading your website and appreciate your taking time to guide us in all the wonderful world of Mah Jong, and its many variations. I found answers to questions about "racking" a drawn tile to stop picking up discarded tiles, and your emphasis on etiquette, espeically when playing with new or slower players. I also liked reading about how to determine of what materials our tiles are made.
    >Your web site is a blessing to us!
    That's good to hear!

    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
    11/13/12


    Must a discard be named before the next tile is picked?

    >From: Marcia M
    >Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 2:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We play with a lady who has difficulty naming the tile she has discarded, due to a stroke. We try to let her get the name out, but when she is having a lot of difficulty, sometimes someone at the table names it for her. On occasion, her tile is down and while she is trying to get the name out, the next person picks and racks. Must a tile name be vocalized before the next tile from the wall is picked.

    Hi, Marcia. You asked:

    Must a tile name be vocalized before the next tile from the wall is picked.
    Yes. The game cannot move on until the tile has been named aloud. Read Frequently Asked Question 19A for more. The FAQs links are above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/12/12


    Rare 1905 set, part 2

    >From: SHORT Amanda
    >Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 11:27 AM
    >Subject: RE: Is this rare as 1905?
    >Hi Tom
    >I sent this a year ago and can't find my answer anymore (you did answer me though) I think you asked why I thought it was from 1905. The only way I know this is from searching the internet and finding out that the K prancing lion and leopard hallmark I think is from 1905. Do you know how much it would be worth? Should I send some photo's? Thank you
    >Amanda Short

    Hi, Amanda.
    To find your original post, you would have to do what I had to do: scroll all the way down to the bottom, then click the link to go back farther in time, then repeat the process several times. I found your post at http://sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive20.htm (December 5).
    As I told you last December, I did not (and still do not) know why you think the set is from 1905. And I still cannot tell you how much your set is worth unless you give me the information I need. As I told you last year, you need to read Frequently Asked Question 7H. To get to FAQ 7H, please scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    I will be happy to tell you about your set, but I can't do it unless you give me the information I need. And yes, of course that includes pictures.

    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
    11/12/12


    Those mah-jongg gods

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 4:32 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg gods
    >Hi Tom,
    >You can call me sad, obsessed or that I just need to get a life, but I take your Weekly Strategy Column entries where you show NMJL hand challenges, swap Jokers and Flowers for randomly chosen alternatives, and see what I'd do under MCR rules!
    >But, Sunday's last challenge made me smile; its Number 14 where you said "pray to the Mah-Jongg gods for tiles that don't suck". I think a good outcome from that prayer would be to play the hand under MCR rules instead...the hand looked pretty good to me, especially if in swapping the flowers a couple of middle rank Dots appear.
    >Frequently with the tiles I get, I'm often stumped. Now I know I have another strategy to call upon, incantations and sacrifice to the gods...it's official...Sloperman says so!
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    Yes, I often find myself wishing (when I get a deal like #14) that I was playing an Asian variant instead of NMJL. Might be interesting to look at a hand from both sides now and then - were it not for those flowers and jokers that an Asian player wouldn't have in 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
    11/12/12


    The ripoff comment

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012 11:31 PM
    >Subject: Ripoff comments
    >Hi Tom,
    >Re: You ripoff, your website hurts my eyes!
    >I found Alice's comments so unfair! For Sloperman, super hero of Mah Jong players everywhere, to face such criticism is unjust. Please don't be swayed by such negativity, what we do without you!
    >Ray H

    Thank you, Ray. When Alice wrote me yesterday, I wasn't sure if she was referring to my game career advice board or this mah-jongg Q&A board. So I posted it and my reply on both. And I sent her my usual boilerplate reply so she'd know she could come back and see the post and the reply. I suspected that it was a high school kid or college kid, possibly even a guy using his mom's email account. Anyway, she's apologized now, and I made a slight wording change in the boilerplate language above the game career advice board (http://sloperama.com/advice/bulletinbd.htm), so as to prevent further such misunderstandings. No harm done.
    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
    11/12/12


    Apology

    >From: Alice B
    >Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012 11:11 PM
    >Subject: Re:
    >Ah, I'm very sorry that email I sent was really rude and immature. Poor excuses but it was very late and I barely looked at you site past the disclaimers of charging for advice before sending it.
    >Anyway, having looked closer at your website I can see there's a lot of very useful advice on there, and I just wanted to apologize for being a moron.

    Apology accepted, Alice. When you wrote yesterday, I wasn't sure which part of my site you'd been writing about (game career advice or mah-jongg). But now I infer you were talking about the game career advice board, where it says, in part:

      WELCOME to the Sloperama Game Design Bulletin Board. It's a place to ask questions about designing games (videogames, board games, table games, computer games, handheld games...). You'll get answers, here on this board. ...
      Questions and answers are handled in this public forum only - I don't give free private answers.

    On behalf of future bleary-eyed sleepyhead visitors, I will consider how I can make it clearer that I do give free advice, but that it just won't be private. Anyway, your apology earned you this:

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/12/12


    Broken up over a kong, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012 8:29 PM
    >Subject: A bit more clarity
    >Hi Tom,
    >Apologies for my lack of clarity!
    >[1] Yes, the four Whites were fully concealed. My opponents thought there must be a rule against throwing a tile from a Kong...my response was as I hadn't exposed the Kong, I could throw one of the Whites if I wanted. Nobody could point to a rule that suggested otherwise, didn't stop them being a bit disgruntled though!
    >[2] If you look at Number 11, on the One-Point Hands section, the paragraph on Single Waits, it says;
    >Combinations which do not add to the variety of tiles being waited on are acceptable (such as 4,5,5,6, which is a combination of a single wait and a closed wait...).
    >So drawing a 5 will give a chow of 4,5,6 and a pair of 5,5. Can you claim for both the Single Wait (5,5) and the Closed Wait (4,5,6)? I read the rule such that as long as it is just one tile that is being waited for, then claiming for both waits is okay. (This doesn't sit too well with me though.)
    >Hope this is more clear.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    You were right. Another possible play would have been to meld your concealed kong and take a replacement tile. If you'd won on the replacement tile, that would have been a good thing. But your win sounds like it was on the up-and-up.
    Well, if the OIRB is your group's bible, then it's okay. Your interpretation of those words is correct (the wording is unambiguous).
    The green MCR book seems to say otherwise, though (and it was written later). On page 23, for Edge Wait and Closed Wait, it says "Not valid if the ... wait is combined with any other waits." But this discrepancy could be due to the imperfect translation of that book. I participated in working on the wording of the green book, but all the while I was painfully aware of the poor English skills on the Chinese side, and of course I know nothing whatsoever of Chinese. And I never encountered the question when I was in China or Europe. So for all I know, the OIRB example you cited was still valid, despite the wording in the green book.
    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
    11/11/12


    Broken up over a kong

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012 1:20 PM
    >Subject: Using a Kong for a safe discard
    >Hi Tom,
    >I don't see why this isn't legitimate, but my (MCR) opponents seemed to think it a little unfair....
    >I was holding...
    >2,3,4 Dots
    >N Wind
    >W,W,W,W Dragons (I'd had these right from the get go)
    >I'd exposed
    >1,2,3 Bams
    >1,2,3 Craks (I had just melded this with the 3)
    >And I discarded one of my White Dragons, immediately going Hu! when the player to my right threw a North Wind.
    >It seemed a small price to pay, losing a potential couple of points for a Concealed Kong to get the advantage of only needing a North tile to go out.
    >Have I missed some rule here and my opponents were right to express a little grumpiness...or were they just being sore losers!
    >Regards,
    >Ray H
    >P.s.
    >Remember a few days ago, we corresponded about claiming two 1-point Waits, well this document http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/OIRB.pdf also suggests you can, unless Im reading it wrongly (which is very likely!). I'm still going with your advice, though!

    Hi, Ray.
    Your questions today are both lacking enough information.

    Have I missed some rule here and my opponents were right to express a little grumpiness..
    You haven't told me what their complaint was. I assume the four whites were all fully concealed within your hand (that you had not previously melded a "concealed kong"), since you didn't say otherwise. Did your friends accuse you of breaking some rule?

    http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/OIRB.pdf also suggests you can, unless Im reading it wrongly
    You're gonna have to narrow that down for me, Ray. Where in the OIRB is this "suggestion" 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
    11/11/12


    You ripoff, your website hurts my eyes!

    >From: Alice Bowman (alicelbowman@gmail.com)
    >Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012 4:29 PM
    >Subject:
    >Wow.
    >For someone who claims to be a Game Designer and therefore inherently know the first thing about computers... damn your website hurts my eyes.
    >Ugh, if you're going to rip people off at least do it with style, amateur.

    Hi, Alice. Sorry my website hurts your eyes. If I was a programmer and a graphic designer/web designer (neither of which I claim to be), I suppose I could manage to make a website that's less eye-hurty. And as for ripping people off, I don't know what you mean.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/11/12


    Are you able to tell me anything about this set

    >From: Paul E. H
    >Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2012 12:37 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom,
    > Are you able to tell me anything about this set from the attached photo?
    > Thanks,
    > --Paul E. H
    > Cleveland Heights , OH

    Welcome to my website, Paul. You asked Frequently Asked Question 7P:

    Are you able to tell me anything about this set
    Yes. To read the FAQs, scroll up and look left. The FAQs 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
    11/11/12


    Sometimes it comes down to luck

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2012 3:06 PM
    >Subject: Sometimes, it's down to luck!
    >Hi Tom...hope you are enjoying your weekend!
    >This is a question about luck. I just played this hand...(MCR)
    >1,4,6 Dots
    >5,7,9 Bams
    >2,3 Craks
    >E,N,N,S Winds
    >G Dragon
    >Maybe All Types was on, decided to throw Winds and see what happens.
    >Drew 6 Bams, threw East wind.
    >Drew 9 Dots, threw South wind.
    >Drew 4 Craks, threw 1 Dots
    >Drew 2 Bams and threw it.
    >Drew 4 Craks and threw it
    >Punged North wind after West's discard. Thanks! Threw 9 Dots.
    >I now had,
    >4,6 Dots
    >5,6,7,9 Bams
    >2,3,4 Craks
    >G Dragon
    >N,N,N Winds (exposed Pung)
    >We'd hardly been playing 2 minutes, and already I was nearly ready to go out. But two opponents had already exposed two Chows each (all Craks) and the player opposite had exposed a Pung and a Chow (both Bams)...we were all getting close! Were we already in the End Game? Definitely needed to watch things carefully!
    >Drew 5 Dots...luck was being kind to me. Threw 9 Bams. Just need the Green Dragon...then i suddenly realised that I didn't have enough to go out, unless I draw it from the wall myself.
    >All Types is 6 points. Single Wait is 1 point. Total, only 7 points.
    >Then the opponent to my left threw a Green Dragon. Checked my hand again...can't call "Hu"! Just two Green Dragons left and I need to draw one! I saw my chances suddenly getting rather thin. Drew the White Dragon and threw it rather too quickly. Did the same with Red Dragon! Now Lady Luck seemed to be playing with me.
    >Then I drew the Green Dragon. I had the extra point needed. "Hu!".
    >All Types (6), Single Wait (1) and Self Draw (1).
    >I couldn't see anything other than All Types as the most likely prospect from my initial hand. Needed plenty of luck to gain the tiles needed, but it all seemed to happen okay. I also needed luck in getting those extra points.
    >So, do you think this was indeed luck, or did I play the hand well right from the start? Maybe I should have planned a Mixed Double Chow (with the Dots and the Bams maybe) to ensure I'd get another point? My view is that there was a good deal of luck here!
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    I don't have the energy to analyze your hand and tell you if you were playing well or if you were lucky. Maybe it was both. Personally, I wouldn't have punged N (maybe if it was my wind or the prevalent wind) -- but this time it worked for you. I agree with the subject line of your post: sometimes it comes down to luck.
    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
    November 10, 2012


    Which prohibition, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Thursday, November 8, 2012 11:31 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Combining Waits 2
    >Hi Tom,
    >"...Consider the Freedom of Choice principle: you can use that tile to form one low-scoring pattern or another low-scoring pattern..."
    >Thanks for the info, so I score just the one point....need another one from somewhere then!
    >I did a bit more reading before getting to your reply and came across two conflicting accounts on this area!
    >This site has a freely downloadable e-book on MCR:
    >http://www.mahjonged.com/mahjong_rules.html
    >and shows that you can combine these single point waits (and uses the exact same example as my first one!). It wasn't just me that was confused then!
    >Beyond the Green Book, (http://starback.se/mj/beyond/), states that the waits can't be combined.
    >So...thanks for clarifying this...I shall play to your (and Beyond the Green Book's) definition.
    >Regards,
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    The owner of Mahjonged.com appears to be anonymous, and the author of the book you downloaded is also anonymous. Per Starback is a real person, and what I call "a mah-jongg thinker." I looked up mahjonged.com on networksolutions and found that the website is registered through GoDaddy.com. Looking up Go Daddy on wikipedia, I see that that's a domain registrar and webhost. I suppose, then, that the Mahjonged.com website is a moneymaker, thus the anonymous book was written by an employee of Go Daddy or whatever entity owns that site. I'm just guessing here, since the site owners don't self-identify.
    I would definitely be more inclined to trust Per Starback's opinion.
    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
    November 9, 2012


    Which prohibition applies?

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 11:33 PM
    >Subject: Combining Waits
    >Hi Tom,
    >I managed to really confuse myself last night while trying out some low scoring Chow based fan combinations! You've probably guessed from recent emails that I sent you, that I'm trying to get to grips with the lower scoring fan so I can go out on "simpler" hands (in fact, for the very same reason you said...trying to increase my cheap wins!).
    >I'm hoping you can clarify things...it's on a similar theme to the point raised by Tony a week or so ago, I suppose.
    >I was looking at the single point wait fan (single, closed and edge). You've told me before that if, in your book, a fan is not shown as implied then they can be combined. None of these three wait fan show any others that they can't be combined with (there are no 'may not combine with' entries in the descriptions of each of the three fan).
    >So I presume I can combine, for example, an Edge Wait with a Closed Wait. However, doesn't this hit the "Prohibition Against Separation" principle?
    >If I was holding 1,2,2,3,4 only a 3 can complete this. A 3 will give 1,2,3 and 2,3,4. So, a single tile allows both the Edge Wait (the 1,2 waiting for the 3) and the Closed Wait (the 2,4 waiting for the 3). But it's the same 3 tile, so do I score both fan?
    >A similar situation with 3,4,4,5. Drawing a 4 will complete a 3,5 Closed Wait to give 3,4,5 and the already held 4,4 pair; but the same drawn 4 can complete the pair too for a Single Wait with the already held 3,4,5.
    >Even writing this confuses me! I'm sure it must be simple, can you clarify it, or have i managed to confuse you too? I know it's only a single point, but, hey, get all the points where you can on low scoring combinations! 1 more point may be all that's needed to go out.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    The way the prohibitions are stated (on page 139 and in FAQ 22) don't necessarily make it clear which one prohibits using a single tile for two different fan. But how about this. Consider the Freedom of Choice principle: you can use that tile to form one low-scoring pattern or another low-scoring pattern. You're free to choose which one you want to call 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
    November 8, 2012


    Can I pounce on that discarded redeemable tile?

    >From: Eileen S
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 8:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have exposed four tiles, one of which is a joker. If another player discards the "fourth" tile I needed, without using it to exchange for my joker can I claim the tile and exchange it for my own joker?
    >Thank you!

    Hi, Eileen.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked 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 ). 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
    11/7/2012


    When you need 2 more points, part 3

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 8:25 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Easy to learn Fan combinations part two
    >Hi Tom...thanks for the reply, your advice is really useful and has clarified things. Just read Hatsune and Kajimoto as suggested, I hadn't realised they had covered this point (I hadn't read far enough), but I think their writings a bit complicated sometimes whereas you are very clear!
    >I just bought some Mah Jong cards, not sure what I'll do with them but they were only about $5!
    >Regards
    >Ray H


    When you need 2 more points, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 6:16 AM
    >Subject: Easy to learn Fan combinations part two
    >Hi Tom,
    >Your reply to my question [Nov. 6, 2012: "Best thing to do when you need 2 more points?"] about 6-point hands and the necessity to include 2- or 1-point fan combinations, said to go for 1-point Chows.
    >Can I imply then going for 6-point (and 4-point) hands should be by preference Chow based rather than Pung based (for example, hands such as Mixed Shifted Chows, rather than All Pungs, or to build Half Flush with Chows, not Pungs?)
    >Sorry if the question is vague...I'm recovering from my all night Presidential Election Mah Jong Party session!
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Good morning, Ray.
    I just realized that FAQ 8 omits a very basic general strategy pointer for unAmerican variants: the importance of chows. Many players of Western/British/Indian mah-jongg prohibit the use of more than one chow, but in the other unAmerican variants, the strategy mostly revolves around the use of multiple chows.
    The reason chows cannot be made from all players' discards during play is that the game would be too easy. The prevalence of numbered suit tiles makes chows very powerful. Read Hatsune and Kajimoto some more, and look at the strategies they discuss around chows.
    Most of the time, the tiles you're dealt and that you pick are going to lead you to an all-chows hand, and most of the time, in the middle of the suit (the most common win is all chows, all simples, win by discard). Chows enable two-way waits, and even more (as discussed in FAQ 8).
    When you have incomplete non-chow parts of your hand, your chances of finishing the hand decrease.
    Of course, chows are cheap, so if you always "go with the flow" (and "seek the path of least resistance"), you won't be making huge wins. But a steady diet of cheap wins can make you come out ahead, especially if you recognize opportunities for going for big wins (and take them).
    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
    11/7/2012


    Trying to get an idea, part 3

    >From: Dan K
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:33 AM
    >Subject: Re: mahjong game
    >Im sorry there are 164. 5 racks trays....I dont hace a clue about mahjong..im just trying to get an idea on worth.This was passed down to me. Im new to this sorry about what i dont know

    Hello, Dan.
    It's an American-style set. I doubt that any collectors are dying to pay through the nose for it (thus would never sticker any tiles), so it's a set for playing with (not for collecting). I'm guessing (since you won't tell me) that there are enough flowers that someone could sticker eight jokers. Gold paint doesn't impress anyone. The third clear layer in the tiles doesn't add much value, either. If someone wanted to use it for playing with, she'd have to buy a new case and some dice. So it's worth from $70 to $90.
    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
    11/7/2012


    Trying to get an idea, part 2

    >From: Dan K
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 7:58 PM
    >Subject: Re: mahjong game
    >OK i would say these tiles are in excellent to new condition.there is the basic 136 time set plus 10 other tiles. no jokers and six masters. the ones like this have gold inlay.im guessing these are Bakelite. the case is old with a broke. handle...it has 5 trays in excellent to new shape no paperwork. im just trying to get a round about idea of worth.thank you

    Hello, Dan.
    I'm confused now as to how many tiles there are. You said before that there are 164 tiles. Now you say there are 146 tiles. I don't know what "masters" are. And I assume that when you say "trays" you actually mean "racks" (see FAQ 7D). I really can't help you if you don't tell me what I need to know.
    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
    Election Day, 2012


    Trying to get an idea of value

    >From: Dan K
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 7:07 PM
    >Subject: mahjong game
    >just trying to get an idea of value. i have included pics.there are 164 tiles 5 bakelite trays and case.

    Hello, Dan.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 7H.
    If you scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ), and if you read FAQ 7H, you will see that I cannot give you a valuation based on so little information. I need to know more! You know where to find me, when you are ready to help me help 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
    Election Day, 2012


    Nobody noticed her fatal error

    >From: Ruth H
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 8:23 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg ruling
    >A tile was called fo an exposure, but the wrong tile was picked up from the table. The error was not discovered for about 2 rounds. Is the hand dead or can the tile picked up in error be exchanged for the correct tile?

    Obviously the erroneous exposure is dead. At this point it's obviously too late to try to undo (the moment she discarded after making the exposure, she was dead). But everybody at the table needs a wake-up call. I think everybody should throw in their hands and start over. Maybe that would wake them up, make them pay attention.
    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
    Election Day, 2012


    How many chips in general?

    >From: Darlene P
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 7:27 AM
    >Subject: Chips
    >How many chips generally come with a Mah Jongg game set?

    It depends, Darlene.
    If it's a 1920s set, it comes with the number of sticks needed for Chinese Classical. If it's a Japanese set, it comes with the number of sticks needed for Japanese riichi/dora majan. If it's a Chinese set made for use in China, it might not come with any chips, or it might have a standard stack of poker chips (which I've never counted). If it's a set designed for playing modern American mah-jongg, then it comes with whatever number of chips the Chinese manufacturer chooses (and I've never counted).

    Of course, the above raises the question "how many sticks are needed for CC and how many are needed for riichi/dora? For the answers, see Frequently Asked Question 7D.
    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
    Election Day, 2012


    Best thing to do when you need 2 more points?

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 5:06 AM
    >Subject: Easy to learn FAN combinations
    >Hi Tom...hope the Presidential Election isn't overly feverish, and you get the right person for the job! We get loads of coverage over here; I can stay up all night watching it live on the BBC...not sure I will though (mind you, I could play Mah Jong all night while listening to the coverage, so maybe I'll reconsider...do you have NMJL Mahjongg election parties in the States...?)
    >I've got another ill-formed question, hope you follow it okay! Still not learned the Charleston, so it's MCR again I'm afraid.
    >On a number of occasions I have found myself with just not quite enough points to go out; it's very tempting to build one of the 6-point hands but ignore that I need another 2 points for the 8 needed; it seems a very easy trap to fall into.
    >This isn't too bad when playing a computer version (including some on-line versions) as they don't allow the player to go "Hu" and declare Mah Jong in error. But playing real opponents is of course a different matter entirely.
    >Are there recommended Fan combinations that can be easily learnt when building a 6-point hand, especially for a beginner like me (probably need to stop using the beginner excuse,don't I)?
    >Are there specific 2-pointers that are more easily built alongside a 6-point Fan?
    >For example, so far in my game playing, if I'm going for All Pungs (6 points) I'll also try for one of the pungs to be a Dragon Pung (2-points) but I keep in mind One Voided Suit (1-point) and No Honours (1-point) also, in case the Dragon Pung doesn't work out. There are other 1- and 2- point Fan but some seem to be to be more a matter of luck (such as Self Draw for 1-point) and so more a bonus than a plan, so I don't try for them.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Good morning, Ray.
    When you need 2 more points, I think the best thing to do is find two more 1-point fan. And the best place to find a 1-point fan is with chows: Pure Double, Mixed Double, Short Straight. It may be necessary to kill an existing chow at one end in order to shift it towards the other way.
    The last fan may have to be based on how you pick your last tile. "Mustn't go out on a discard; have to pick it myself, no way around it 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
    Election Day, 2012


    Manipulating wall construction

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, November 5, 2012 5:28 AM
    >Subject: Manipulating the wall
    >Hi Tom,
    >Browsing the Internet I came across this site...
    >http://mahjong-skills.com/index.htm
    >which gave advice about manipulating the tile shuffle and wall building to gain advantage over opponents. The site includes the following;
    >"Executing the technique is as simple as keeping your eyes open for the flowers while the players are exchanging chips and collecting them for use in the construction of your wall. Performing the technique discreetly is critical for preserving your advantage. The technique is legal, but if your opponents become aware of your tactics, collecting the tiles will be difficult or impossible."
    >This strikes me as cheating despite the site suggesting the manoeuvre is legal.
    >I wonder if in your experience this type of activity is common and if so are there ways to spot it (and stop it) happening?
    >Regards
    >Ray Heaton

    Hi, Ray.
    Very interesting question. I wanted to understand what mah-jongg variant he was talking about, and which wall-breaking technique. Found it on page 3:

      "Three six-sided dice are thrown before each game. The sum of the three dice can only range from 3 to 18. Where the draw begins is determined by the sum of the three dice. For example, if the number thrown is 3, then it will be started from the 4th position of the wall across from you. If the number is 4, it will be started from the 5th position of your left hand wall. If the number is 5, start from the 6th position on your wall, if 7, start from the 8th position on your right hand wall, and so forth."

    So if one is using two dice (as is done in MCR), one would need to alter the math (if one wanted to use Jin Lin's technique).

    This strikes me as cheating despite the site suggesting the manoeuvre is legal.
    Yes. I agree. When Jin says "if your opponents become aware of your tactics, collecting the tiles will be difficult or impossible," he's saying "if you get caught, your opponents will take steps to thwart you." Your opponents might even ostracize you, boot you from the game, and blacklist you (tell others what you do). I looked at his About page and found that he works at an investment company. One wonders if one would want someone who plays loose with game rules to handle one's finances. Presumably, he would use his philosophy to your advantage (if it's quasi-legal rather than cheating per se, he's being quasi-legal on your behalf), but in a mah-jongg game, he's using his philosophy decidedly to his own advantage -- and what does that say about his character?

    I wonder if in your experience this type of activity is common
    No.

    are there ways to spot it (and stop it) happening?
    Watch the others, rather than focusing on your own activity, when the tiles are being overturned and shuffled. There are those who shuffle the tiles while they are still face-up, then overturn them, then shuffle again. Watch their eyes as the tiles are being shuffled, and watch to see if someone is being careful while wall-building. If you think you see something, just extend your reach a little and shuffle a little more. Then watch again on the next occasion.

    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
    November 5, 2012


    MCR strategy

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, November 5, 2012 12:50 AM
    >Subject: Upper, Lower and Middle
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have been looking more closely at Upper Four and Lower Four on my recent MCR plays, these both seem fairly easy to establish (and are 12 point Fan) and offer much flexibility on alternatives too (both in multiple lower scoring Fan and a move up to 24 points for Upper Tiles or Lower Tiles if the hand goes well).
    >What seems much more challenging is the Middle Tiles Fan; also worth 24 points.
    >Middle tiles uses the tiles, 4,5,6. I'd have thought then that this Fan is more difficult to achieve as the game progresses, as opponents will tend to hold on to these tiles,whereas the Upper or Lower Fan (of both the 4 or 3 tile varieties) become easier as the game progresses as the necessary tiles may well be discarded. Statistically I suppose the chances are the same for each type of hand, but the gameplay with the middle tiles appears to make Middle Tiles Fan much less likely in reality.
    >I'd really appreciated your views on these Upper and Lower Fan and whether its a good strategy to develop your hand towards them. Am I right in my understanding of the Middle Tiles Fan and the increasingly unlikely chance of achieving it as the game advances?
    >For non-MCR readers,
    >Upper Four uses combinations of 6,7,8,9 tiles
    >Lower Four uses combinations of 1,2,3,4 tiles
    >Upper Tiles uses combinations of 7,8,9 tiles
    >Middle Tiles uses combinations of 4,5,6 tiles
    >Lower Tiles uses combinations of 1,2,3 tiles
    >Regards,
    >Ray Heaton

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    Middle tiles uses the tiles, 4,5,6. I'd have thought then that this Fan is more difficult to achieve as the game progresses, as opponents will tend to hold on to these tiles
    You may be onto something there.

    I'd really appreciated your views on these Upper and Lower Fan and whether its a good strategy to develop your hand towards them. Am I right in my understanding of the Middle Tiles Fan and the increasingly unlikely chance of achieving it as the game advances?
    I have not thought that deeply about the strategy of those combinations.

    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
    November 5, 2012


    MCR Q

    >From: Ray H
    >Sent: Friday, November 2, 2012 6:33 AM
    >Subject: Another hand that challenges me
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have another hand that is challenging me in which way to go.
    >MCR (again! You must be getting bored...maybe I should learn to Charleston!)
    >Holding the following, all concealed.
    >2,4 Craks
    >2,3,4,6,6 Dots
    >2,3,4,5,6,7 Bams
    >Looking to go out on Mixed Triple Chow (8 points), so just need the 3 Craks.
    >But I pick the 5 Craks.
    >Do I ditch the 2 Craks and abandon the Mixed Triple Chow?
    >If I do, I'd now have a connected 4,5 Craks with two chances for going
    >out instead (I'd need a 3 or 6 Craks to get a Chow). I'd get the 8
    >points needed but from a mix of smaller Fan (which for me as a
    >beginner is much harder to work out quickly enough).
    >This really takes me back to a previous question as to whether I, as a
    >beginner, should go for a mix of low scoring Fan or concentrate on
    >higher scoring ones.
    >Regards
    >Ray Heaton
    > (PS, Thanks to Edwin Phua for mentioning the the time limits within
    >MCR competitions when I was asking about speed of play last week...I
    >hadn't thought that one through had I! This magazine from Mahjong
    >Logic... http://www.mahjonglogic.com/downloads/kong_magazine_2012.pdf
    >...suggests a hand within a game lasts, on average, 3 minutes 20
    >seconds...I've no idea how they can work that one out, but I obviously
    >need to speed up rather a lot!)

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    Do I ditch the 2 Craks and abandon the Mixed Triple Chow?
    >If I do, I'd now have a connected 4,5 Craks with two chances for going
    >out instead (I'd need a 3 or 6 Craks to get a Chow). I'd get the 8
    >points needed but from a mix of smaller Fan (which for me as a
    >beginner is much harder to work out quickly enough).
    Having a 2-way wait is twice as likely to help you win as a 1-way wait. If it's very early in the hand (if your hand came together very quickly), then you can consider the risk of going for the bigger hand. If it's later in the hand (if it took a normal amount of time for your hand to come together), then other people are also nearing mah-jongg, so there's a huge risk (a) that someone else will win on the 5C when you discard it; as I am sure I must have written in FAQ 8, the middle tiles are dangerous to throw later in the hand -- or (b) that someone will win before you get your 3 or 6.

    This magazine from Mahjong
    >Logic... http://www.mahjonglogic.com/downloads/kong_magazine_2012.pdf
    >...suggests a hand within a game lasts, on average, 3 minutes 20
    >seconds
    I disagree with that assessment. Players of American-style mah-jongg take 13-15 minutes to complete one hand (that's why American tournaments allow 1 hour to play one round). I noticed that players of Japanese mah-jongg finish a hand in no more than 10 minutes (but then their walls are shorter and they don't use the whole wall). But let's consider MCR in the context of a tournament. A game of MCR consists of 16 hands, including seat-switching. A round needs to be finished within 30 minutes, if 2 hours are allowed to play a game. That's less than 10 minutes per hand, but more than 3 and a third minutes. Consider, though, that many games have to be cut short when the session-end gong sounds. and you see that seven and a half minutes is closer to the average. Mahjong Logic is an online game. So what they're talking about is average playing times online, with impatient speed players who just click a mouse and don't have to move real tiles 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
    November 2, 2012


    The numbers on the bettor wheel go clockwise. What's up with that?

    >From: Lynn M
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 5:57 PM
    >Subject: Using a betting wheel
    >I have a nifty betting wheel that’s a 2-layer plastic disc, about 1.5" in diameter. The top disc rotates on top of the bottom disc, and has a hole in it that shows through to the letters/numbers/characters that are printed on the bottom disc. The bettor indicates which player s/he is betting on by rotating the top disc until the desired player’s letter/number (or the Chinese character for “wall") is showing through the hole. After the Charleston, the bettor “dials in" his/her chosen winner and places the betting wheel face-down on the table. When the game is over, the wheel is turned over to see who the bettor bet on.
    >My question is how to use the wheel. The letters/numbers/characters on the bottom disc are as follows (imagine that the outline of the round disc is a circle that goes around all of these:
    >            E
    >
    >                (Chinese character)
    >
    >    4                2
    >
    >
    >
    >            3

    >I’m assuming that if the bettor positions the hole over the “E," s/he is betting on East (AKA the dealer). That one is easy! I also assume that the Chinese character is for betting that it will be a wall game. My confusion comes when trying to figure out how to bet on someone other than the dealer, because the positions of the other numbers on the wheel don’t correspond with the positions of the players at the MJ table. I mean, the player who goes next after East is the one sitting to the RIGHT of East (counter-clockwise from East). But on the betting wheel, “2" is printed to East’s left, or clockwise from East. Should I just forget about trying to match the positions of the numbers on the wheel with the positions of the players at the table? (I hope you understand this question! It is making me dizzy trying to write it clearly and succinctly!!)
    >Thanks,
    >Lynn M. (Sandy’s friend-of-a-friend)
    >
    >From: Lynn M
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 6:40 PM
    >Subject: p.s. re: using a betting wheel
    >I meant to attach these photos.

    Lynn, just use "2" to mean the player to the right of E and so on. So what if the numbers aren't oriented the same as the seat positions around the table as if viewed from the ceiling. Nobody is on the ceiling, so nobody will care.
    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
    Halloween, 2012


    Four pairs

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 6:27 AM
    >Subject: Should you meld pairs to Pungs
    >Hi Tom,
    >I wonder if you can offer more advice on an area briefly discussed by Mai Hatsune on the Mah Jong museum site (where there's a very useful MCR strategy guide by Hatsune and Kajimoto).
    >http://museum.takeshobo.co.jp/kokusai/2-09.html
    >http://museum.takeshobo.co.jp/kokusai/index.html
    >Shown on the site is a hand containing 4 pairs; the hand is
    >1,1,3,4 Craks
    >5,7,7 Dots
    >2,2,8,9 Bams
    >G,G Dragons
    >The advice is not to go for All Pungs (suggesting that you should only go for All Pungs where you have more Honours pairs and/or Pungs within the hand already). With such a hand I would most likely go for an All Pungs hand and I'm unclear as to the advice (of course, things may develop differently, but I'd take the opportunity to meld Pungs when I can). Of course I can see the advantage of having more Honours pairs (honours more likely to be discarded by opponents, I presume).
    >Assuming that Hatsune is suggesting waiting on All Pairs, then self drawing the Pairs is necessary...my initial thoughts are that this would be harder to achieve (3 more pairs needed, to match using the 3 or 4 Craks, 5 Dots, 8 or 9 Bams from the tiles already in the hand).
    >So, I appear to be doing the wrong thing, I'm just not sure why!
    >Regards
    >Ray H
    >(p.s. "...Very nice of you Martians to be so concerned about us Earthlings. If you train your telescope on the North American continent...". Geography was never my strong point! And from this distance quoted I live almost as near to New York City as you do, good grief!)

    Hi, Ray.
    Mai Hatsune and Takunori Kamimoto are much much better players than I am. If I had this hand, I would be stuck between a rock, a hard place, and the deep blue sea. I would see possibilities for Seven Pairs, All Pungs, and something else altogether. I dislike that 8-9 combo in bams (it'll be difficult to complete) so that and the 5-7 split would discourage me from thinking chows. The thinking on pairs that I was taught (by some other Japanese friends) was that when you have five pairs, you should go for Seven Pairs. But when you have four pairs, you have to make a difficult decision between Seven Pairs and All Pungs. I have sometimes gone for neither, when my hand had better chow options than this example does.
    With these thirteen tiles, I would be in limbo, hoping that whatever I pick will help guide me. Depending on what I pick, I might well throw 5D, based on the "throw hot tiles earlier rather than later" principle.
    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
    Halloween, 2012


    Turn of the century set, part 4

    >From: tony nmax
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 6:30 PM
    >Subject: mahjong
    > hi tom its tony again the mahjong set was from a captain from the german navy while refurbishing passenger ship.for the japanese war effort
    > the ships were from nippon yusen kaisha passenger ship in the early sixties a german passenger cargo ship with same captain arrived in sydney i have pictures
    > of captain and ships arrival he left soon after to america to visit his good friend walt disney that half the story also could you give me a clue as to the value
    > of the mahjong set if possible thanking you tony

    Hi, Tony.
    I still can't tell you how much your set is worth, because you and Steve have not given me enough information as specified in my "How Much Is It Worth" FAQ. The "How Much Is It Worth" FAQ is FAQ 7H, and you can navigate to the FAQs by clicking the FAQ links above left.

    As interesting as your story is, I don't need the story to determine your set's worth. That story adds to the set's value only if you have documentation. (Photos of the ship's captain, aboard his ship, with the mah-jongg set in at least one photo. Records of the ship's captain's name, records of his ship and its voyages and the connection with the Japanese ship. - That sort of thing, for instance.) I assume you do not have that kind of documentation, so the only information I can use to valuate your set is the checklist in FAQ 7H.

    That FAQ says that I need a complete count of all the materials in the set (a breakdown of the tiles, the extra bits, and the box). I also need information about the condition of each part of the set (as specified in FAQ 7H, using the condition words from that FAQ). You've given me information about the box, and some bad pictures of the tiles, and a photo of an appraisal that is wrong as to the set's age.

    Your set might be very valuable, or it might not. Yes, the box is nice. But that doesn't tell me enough. The "How Much Is It Worth" FAQ is FAQ 7H, and you can navigate to the FAQs by clicking the FAQ links above left. Or click this link.

    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
    October 30, 2012


    Does Edge Wait have to be an only-chance wait?

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 12:25 AM
    >Subject: Edge Wait in MCR
    >Hi Tom,
    >Can you help with the Edge Wait in MCR?
    >The description of Edge Wait is clear enough, waiting to go out on the 3 for a 1,2,3 Chow, or the 7 for a 7,8,9 Chow.
    >I'm not sure though whether this has to be the only tile needed to go out.
    >I had exposed the following:
    >1,2,3 Craks
    >4,4,4 Craks
    >and was holding 1,2,2,2 Bams and 1,2,3 Dots.
    >I was looking to go out on either a 3 Bams or 1 Bams.
    >North discarded the 3 Bams I needed.
    >I went out scoring 12 points for Lower Four, and 8 points for Mixed Triple Chow. I also claimed the Edge Wait for 1 more point, but North suggested that as I could have gone out on an alternate tile then the Edge Wait wasn't scored.
    >Was North correct?
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Yes, Ray. North was correct. The reason Edge Wait is worth a point is that it's an only-chance wait (a "one and only" wait). If it's not your only needed tile, then you don't qualify for Edge Wait. If and when I get to do a second edition of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," I intend to add wording to that effect.
    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
    October 30, 2012


    The big storm

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 1:44 AM
    >Subject: Thinking of you...
    >Hi Tom,
    >We've been seeing news pictures of the terrible impact of the storm on the East Coast. I hope you, all your fellow Mahjongg players, friends and families in the USA are safe!
    >Ray H

    Very nice of you Martians to be so concerned about us Earthlings. If you train your telescope on the North American continent, you'll see that Los Angeles is that smoggy blob on the west coast, about 4,500 kilometers from New York City (where, I heard this morning, the subway tunnels are full of sea water). So, given the distance, speaking for myself, I'm in no danger from that storm. My family is over 500 kilometers inland from the Atlantic Ocean - they had bad weather and lost power last night but are otherwise okay (but, I hear, are in for worse weather). I share your concern for readers and readers' loved ones in the hard-hit storm area.

    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
    October 30, 2012


    Turn of the century set, part 3

    >From: tony nmax
    >Sent: Monday, October 29, 2012 8:03 PM
    >Subject: majhong set
    >Dear Tom,
    >Im Steves dad,Sorry about lack of information and quality of photos,
    >the indices 2/3 bone and 1/3 bamboo,carved and painted ,handle of box,2 fu dogs painted symbols,some gold guilding
    >carving ontop of box are two fenghuang gold guilded mythical birds.
    >this mahjong was not sold,
    >it was a gift to a steam boat captain in the 1930's bya a japanese cruiseliner.
    >the box is in perfect condition,except for a few chips you can see on the photos.
    >the indices areperfect but a bit unclean,
    >a chinese surgeon could not fit a syringe in the join,
    >only a real master craftsmen and material could have done it all perfect.
    >after all those years at sea,no shrinkage,incredable.
    >handle more than solid,dog fu handle and 4 small bone dice in a small sliding coffin box.
    > thanking you,tony rizzon

    Hi, Tony.
    Thanks for the interesting story. And thanks for showing me the front of the box. I don't know if you still have a question or not. The answers I gave Steve last week still stand.
    Ahoy, or avast, or however sea captains talk!
    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
    October 29, 2012


    From Chongqing

    >From: AotomoMahjong Table Manufacturer <chinamahjong@hotmail.com>
    >To: Tom(USA)
    >Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2012 10:57 PM
    >Subject: 2012 world mahjong championship in China on Oct 28 2012
    >Hi Tom Sloper,
    >Attached the pictures show 2012 world mahjong championship in China on Oct 28 2012.
    >Thank you for add it on your website.
    >Also attached our new design colored mahjong tiles.
    >Hope you like it.
    >Cheers,
    >Frank
    >http://www.aotomo.com

    Hi Frank,
    I wish I was at the tournament, but I'm still paying off my previous journeys. In fact, just a few minutes ago I was reading about the tournament on mahjongnews.com! Thanks for your photos. I chose two pictures of the tournament to post here. Ten photos is too many.
    And I'm sorry, but I don't advertise products on this board. I have other bulletin boards where you may place your advertisements (without photos). And I have paid sponsor banner spots available as well.
    Enjoy your stay in Chongqing. I'm jealous!
    Oh wait, I just noticed that the photos are from a news source - I guess you didn't take them yourself. I hope news.cn will not mind my showing them here. What am I saying? It's China.
    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
    October 29, 2012


    "Filling the only place," part 2

    >From: Tony G
    >Sent: Monday, October 29, 2012 12:37 AM
    >Subject: RE: only possible tile
    >Tom
    >When we played together and when Alan wrote the book there was never any mention of any extra score for finishing with the only remaining available tile (i.e. because the other three are discarded or otherwise used in the calling hand). The score for only possible tile referred to the denomination of the tile only. The only way exposed tiles affected this was when all four of a tile were exposed or otherwise used in the calling hand. So, if 23 88 were held and all four of the ones were exposed, then 4 is the only possible tile. Also if 1123 were held and the other two 1s were exposed, then 4 is the only possible tile.
    >Pow!
    >Tony

    Hi Tony, You wrote:

    The score for only possible tile referred to the denomination of the tile only.
    Yes, and that's what he says in his book.

    The only way exposed tiles affected this was when all four of a tile were exposed or otherwise used in the calling hand. So, if 23 88 were held and all four of the ones were exposed, then 4 is the only possible tile. Also if 1123 were held and the other two 1s were exposed, then 4 is the only possible tile.
    He doesn't say anything like that in his book. So, since it's not stated in his book (and since, as I mentioned below, there is a contrary accepted practice in Japan and in China, such that in these cases, 4 is not regarded as "the only possible tile"), no points should be awarded for "only possible tile" in these instances.

    Pow!
    According to Alan Millington, the term "pow" is spoken by the dealer to stop the shuffling and begin the wall building. But there is a term in Chinese that sounds the same, "pao," which means to discard a tile which gives an opponent a high-scoring hand.

    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
    October 29, 2012


    Conflicting beginners' advice from two authors

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2012 12:42 PM
    >Subject: Low scoring hands
    >Hi Tom,
    >I'd be interested in your opinion on what I perceive to be conflicting advice for beginners to MCR.
    >D.B. Pritchard in his book "The New Mah Jong", suggests that it is most important to be familiar with the low scoring hands, memorising 1-, 2- and 4-point hands.
    >In your book, you suggest a few target hands, memorising a few 8-, 6- and 4-point hands.
    >As a beginner, I find your advice the better and simpler way to go.
    >For example, I managed to go out with the following hand...
    >1D Pung, 9D Melded Kong, 1C Pung 3,4,5B Chow and a pair of 2B.
    >I'm pretty sure this scores 7 points, but I self picked the 3B to complete the Chow and giving me the extra point for just enough to go out (8 points).
    >Double Pung=2 points
    >No Honours=1 point
    >Melded Pung=1 point
    >Pung of Terminals or Honours=1 point (there are three of these, giving 3 points. A Melded Kong is also a Pung, so giving me the third Terminal Pung. This caused a bit of debate, but I think I was right!)
    >This hand would fit well with Mr Pritchard's advice, but wasn't at all easy for me to work out. Do you think his advice useful? I presume such hands are easier to obtain even if they are a bit hair raising for me to add up! I could only go out with a self pick, so there was a degree of luck here too.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    Yes, I do think Pritchard's advice is useful, but I went with the advice that helped me more. When I was starting to learn MCR I found it tough to mentally sort through all those 1-point and 2-point combos. I found it easier to focus on those slightly-higher combos, so I passed that advice along in my book.
    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
    October 28, 2012


    Need an appraiser in San Francisco

    >From: Robin W
    >Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2012 12:12 PM
    >Subject: antique mahjong set appraisal
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am in the San Francisco area and need to get an appraisal for an antique mahjong set. Do you know of any appraisers and/or collectors in San Francisco?
    >Thanks for your help!
    >Robin

    Sorry, Robin. I do not know of any appraisers anywhere, and I do not know of any collectors in your city.
    I can give you an appraisal for free, if you send me all the information in FAQ 7H (and if you do not mind that the appraisal is not private -- see appraisals below).
    May the appraisal 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
    October 28, 2012


    "Filling the only place," per Millington

    >From: Tony G
    >Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 2:05 AM
    >Subject: only possible tile
    >Hi Tom
    >Long time, no contact. I picked up an old thread while looking for something else. It was about Millington’s rules and “filling the only place". It pointed out that the rules were not completely clear about this. I played with Alan Millington when he wrote the book and I can clear this up.
    >I was surprised he used the expression “filling the only place" when he also refers to “only possible tile". That was the term we used when we were playing. This is how we played:
    >3456666 requires a 3. That is the only possible tile to complete. That would also score another two for fishing the eyes.
    >5588 with two 5s discarded requires an 8. That is the only possible tile to complete.
    >Alan was nothing if not logical. He didn’t refer to any number other than four tiles of one denomination being discarded. Unusual for him but this was an oversight.
    >It is a shame he is not in touch with discussions about his book. He will be 60 now. Last I heard he was working as a computer programmer.
    >Hope this helps.
    >Tony

    Hello, Tony!
    I wondered what old thread you were talking about, and could not find it on my site, so I Googled [millington "filling the only place"]. That turned up a LOT of results on a number of sites (some of which I wasn't even aware of before). I figured I must have been involved in this old thread you found, so I refined the search to [millington "filling the only place" sloper]. That still turned up a number of results, so I picked one to check out. The one I looked at was at http://mahjongarchives.tripod.com/post/2000/0004-08.htm
    It was interesting to note that the answer I gave then was different from the answer I would give now. But let's come back to that in a bit. First let's discuss what Millington says in his book about "filling the only place" and also "the only possible tile."
    Irrespective of what he may have said when you were playing together, his book equates both phrases with what I call "one-chance waits" or "single waits," of which there are three: completing a pair to win when there is a disconnected single tile in the hand; filling an inside chow to win; finishing a terminal chow at the end opposite the terminal to win. If you turn to the glossary at the back of Millington's book, you'll see that this is the definition he used in his book.

    To get back to what I would answer to that April 2000 question now, and to the definition you put forth in your email this weekend: what you're talking about is the "case tile." It's a term I borrowed from poker (http://www.poker-babes.com/poker/definitions/case-card/). The last or fourth tile of its kind, when the other three are visibly already used up.

    The WMO awards MORE points for winning on the case tile than it awards for a one-chance wait; they are not equivalent.
    To the Japanese, and most probably also to the Chinese, if all four of a tile are already used up, and your hand needs one of those in a two-way wait, you cannot use the death of the one tile (the unavailability of a case tile) as an excuse for calling your two-way wait a one-way wait. That's just one example situation; this concept expands from there to embrace some other situations as well. But now I've probably veered off on a tangent.

    It's too bad Alan Millington does not participate in online discussions about the classical rules; he would be embraced warmly.
    Good to hear from you again, Tony!
    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
    October 28, 2012


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now?

    >From: Katherine W
    >Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 8:04 PM
    >Subject: mis-name for MJ
    >Hi Tom, You've always solved our group's dilemmas before...
    >Picture this...a player names a discard incorrectly but corrects it before it touches the table. Another player calls "MJ" on hearing the name. What to do???
    >Thanks, Kay

    Kay, you're confusing the issue with irrelevant details. A player misnamed her discard, and a problem resulted from it. FAQ 19AY covers this. If I've solved your dilemmas before, 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
    October 2, 2012


    Bai'da = Joker (confirmed)

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 2:27 PM
    >Subject: Bai'da
    >Hi Tom,
    >I thought the discussion on the Bai'da tile was interesting...how rich the world of Mah Jong is.
    >I did a bit of Internet searching and found these that I thought you may be interested in...
    >http://www.ymimports.com/p-1437-emerald-green-and-pure-white-tile-taiwan-baida-mahjong-with-wood-case.aspx
    >http://www.nciku.com/search/zh/detail/??/144146
    >The first shows a Mah Jong set that includes the Bai'da tiles, the second shows the meaning as "Joker", but "100 uses" fits the literal translation.
    >I expect you know all this already!!
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Well done, Ray. My hat's off to you. You've confirmed what I suspected from Khang's first post.
    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
    October 27, 2012


    I threw into Little Three Dragons, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 1:37 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Carelessness!
    >> I assume you meant to say pungs.
    >Ray...yes, I did mean Pungs!
    >> See, you're still doing that thing where you think too much. My first thought would be "don't throw green."
    >Ray...you are right...a hard lesson!
    >> You shouldn't throw a third dragon. A lesson I knew in Tokyo with the Reps (riichi-ing out in Shibuya after the first World Championship, see http://sloperama.com/WCMJ/shibuya.htm) but then forgot in the 3rd China Majiang Championship in Beijing (2005) when I played against Linghua Jiao (see column 242).
    >Ray...it's reassuring that even you make mistakes (even if it was 7 years ago!) Looks like you had a great time in China though!
    >> You told me you were in the Middle/End game, and another player had two dragon pungs showing. Which means that the time to play defensively was upon you. You did not play defensively (you were still trying to make your hand as your first priority).
    >Ray...yes, you're right again. I get carried away, and really need to remember your advice! I could easily have played the hand better than I did!
    >> A single wind is rarely useful. The normal thing to do is to discard single winds in phase one, or early phase two.
    >Ray...yes, but I realised that too late (again)!
    >I'm sure I've made these mistakes before many times, but maybe at the cost of just a few points. Hopefully, this hard lesson will hit home!
    >Regards, and thanks again for your patience in answering what must seem quite basic questions, and stumbling efforts to improve my game!
    >Ray

    We all make mistakes, Ray, and that's how we learn!
    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
    October 27, 2012


    I threw into Little Three Dragons

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2012 11:12 AM
    >Subject: Carelessness!
    >Hi Tom,
    >Not sure what my question is going to be, so bear with me for a bit!
    >Playing MCR (Chinese Official Rules). I was doing really well, we were in the Middle/End game, I had the following tiles;
    >1,2,2,4,5,6,7,9,9 Bams. South Wind.
    >I'd exposed a Chow of 1,2,3 Bams.
    >An opponent had exposed two dragon chows, White and Red.
    >They are close too, I thought. Probably going for a Fan of Two Dragons and will pick up the couple of points needed for going out from just about anything, may even go for All Pungs.
    >From the other two players' exposed tiles I couldn't see that they were on for much, okay I may not get the tiles I need to out out with a good score, but the others are not going to score big if one of them goes out first.
    >How wrong was I!
    >I draw a Green Dragon. My single South Wind tile was the seat wind, so a useful tile. I discard the Green Dragon, no use to me! My opponent with the two exposed Pungs goes "Hu" in delight, and shows, almost slyly, two Chows...2,3,4 Dots and 2,3,4 Bams. Then turns over, ever so slowly, another Green Dragon. And says, "Little Three Dragons, 64 Points".
    >I couldn't believe it. Not only the huge jump in point value from Two Dragons at 6 points, but my own carelessness at discarding such a valuable tile to my opponent. Should I have predicted it, or was it just one of those things that happen in this great game? Was I paying too much attention to my own hand, getting too excited at the score I was about to get, when it was quite obvious what I needed?
    >Looking slowly at the discards across all players, 3 other South Winds had been discarded, so my single South Wind wasn't as useful as I had thought! Doh!
    >My winning opponent's discards were (in order of discard);
    >9 Dots, 8 Dots, 6 Bams, 6 Dots, 4 Dots, 7 Bams, West Wind, 9 Dots, East Wind, 1 Dots, South Wind, 5 Bams, 4 Craks, 5 Craks, 7 Dots and 9 Dots. Nobody has discarded any Dragons, until I did of course.
    >Its always easier in hindsight to see where I went wrong, but should I have done better?
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi Ray, you wrote:

    An opponent had exposed two dragon chows
    I assume you meant to say pungs.

    Probably going for a Fan of Two Dragons and will pick up the couple of points needed for going out from just about anything, may even go for All Pungs.
    See, you're still doing that thing where you think too much. My first thought would be "don't throw green."

    Should I have predicted it, or was it just one of those things that happen in this great game?
    You shouldn't throw a third dragon. A lesson I knew in Tokyo with the Reps (riichi-ing out in Shibuya after the first World Championship, see http://sloperama.com/WCMJ/shibuya.htm) but then forgot in the 3rd China Majiang Championship in Beijing (2005) when I played against Linghua Jiao (see column 242).

    Was I paying too much attention to my own hand, getting too excited at the score I was about to get, when it was quite obvious what I needed?
    You told me you were in the Middle/End game, and another player had two dragon pungs showing. Which means that the time to play defensively was upon you. You did not play defensively (you were still trying to make your hand as your first priority).

    My single South Wind tile was the seat wind, so a useful tile... my single South Wind wasn't as useful as I had thought!
    A single wind is rarely useful. The normal thing to do is to discard single winds in phase one, or early phase two.

    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
    October 27, 2012


    How should I organize my tiles, part 2

    >From: Golda S
    >Sent: Friday, October 26, 2012 5:45 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >You are a doll!
    >Thank you.


    Can she change her mind about an exposed dragon pung?

    >From: Phylia K
    >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 8:36 PM
    >Subject: A question
    >A player has called for a green dragon and exposes a total of three. She then realizes that it was an error as it doesn't match her numerals. She said, "Oh, I'll play this exposure with a different hand not yet realizing that both hands are concealed. We told her that both were concealed hands and declared her dead. Was this correct?
    >Can a player change her mind and put her exposure back in her rack and put the called tile back on the table if she hasn't yet thrown out a tile?
    >Phylia K

    Hello, Phylia. You wrote:

    We told her that both were concealed hands and declared her dead. Was this correct?
    As I wrote in column 539, there are no exposable dragon pungs on the 2012 card, so: yes, it's correct that she is dead. She made an illegal exposure, and you called her dead. So she is dead.

    Can a player change her mind and put her exposure back in her rack and put the called tile back on the table if she hasn't yet thrown out a tile?
    Now you have asked Frequently Asked Question 19AM (the "change of heart" rule).
    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.
    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
    October 25, 2012


    Tell me something, part 3

    >From: "RB
    >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:44 PM
    >Subject: Re: More info
    >Hi,
    >Thank you so much for your answer. How many Joker's do I need?
    >I have 4 in the set now.
    >Rosemary B

    Rosemary, please read Frequently Asked Questions 7A & 7B.
    Scroll up and look 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

    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
    October 25, 2012


    Official tile size

    >From: Khang T
    >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A: Regarding official tile size
    >Tom,
    >First I must say thank you for your prompt response and knowledge! Now onto my question:
    >I was browsing and I found the official rule books for China official and HK style mahjong, but I could not find information on the official allowable tile size range for China Official standard.
    >Do you know the allowable size for china official mahjong? Also is there an average size that is used during the official tournament? (i.e. 34mm/37mm/42mm?)
    >Thanks again!

    Hi Khang, you're welcome. There is no "official size," but the typical size used in tournaments is 34 to 37mm (the 3rd tile from the left in the above image from FAQ 7A). So, to get back to our previous conversation (below)...

    Is this a bai'da tile? I know it only as "100 uses." It would be very helpful to know the Chinese pronunciation!
    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
    October 25, 2012


    How should I organize my tiles in the initial deal?

    >From: Golda S
    >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:01 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Any helpful hints on what we should do when we get our first tiles? How should we group.....
    >Thank You,
    >Golda S

    Hi, Golda.
    Welcome to my website.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 8.
    Scroll up and look 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

    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
    October 25, 2012


    Tell me something, part 2

    >From: "RB
    >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:54 AM
    >Subject: Re: need help
    >Ooopps, forgot to add photos.
    >I have a 164 piece Mahjong set. I purchased it in Japan in the early
    >1970's. At a later date I bought a book of instructions.
    >I paid substantially for this set and was wondering if you
    >can identify this set and tell me something about it. There
    >isn't any manufacturing label anywhere.
    >It has a case, but when it came through customs, they put
    >a piece of tape on it and when taken off, tore off the finish
    >in the size of the tape. Other than that all pieces are in
    >excellent condition. Can you estimate a value of it now?
    >I would appreciate any help you can give me.
    >Thank You
    >Rosemary B

    Hi, Rosemary.
    Okay, you gave me a focused question and some photos. Still not as much information as I would like. I can see that your set has 4 jokers and 24 flowers. So it's not what a player of American mah-jongg would really want. And as you say, the case is damaged. If someone wanted to buy your set to use to play American mah-jongg, she would need to sticker some flowers to turn them into jokers, and she might want to buy a new case. So your set is worth maybe somewhere in the $60-90 range. And the book is worth around $10 (and is of no interest to players of American mah-jongg).
    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
    October 25, 2012


    Tell me something about my set

    >From: "RB
    >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 11:29 AM
    >Subject: Re: Would appreciate your help
    >I have a 164 tile Mahjong set. I purchased it in Japan in the early 1970's.
    >At a later date I bought a book of instructions.
    >I paid substantially for this set and was wondering if you can
    >identify this set and tell me something about it. There isn't
    >any manufacturing label anywhere.
    >It has a case, but when it came through customs, they put a
    >piece of tape on it and when taken off, torn off the finish
    >in the size of the tape. Other than that all pieces are in
    >excellent condition.
    >I would appreciate any help you can give me.
    >Thank You
    >Rosemary B

    Hi Rosemary.
    I can probably tell you something about it, if you send me pictures, ask me focused questions (I do not answer "anything" or "something" questions), and give me the information I need to give you the answers you are seeking. Please read Frequently Asked Questions 7P, 7G, and 7H.
    Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    Standing by...
    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
    October 25, 2012


    Robbing the kong, part 2

    >From: A Nicolas
    >Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:12 AM
    >Subject: Re: Khan/Kung stealing question
    >Hello Tom,
    >Damn, I knew we were missing something... I didn't know about the distinction between robbing an exposed-pung-promoted-to-kong and robbing a hidden kong, either in Riichi or CC. Thank your very much for your answer, I'll pass on the good word :)
    > (PS : Oh and thanks for your articles on game design/development, I've been working on a game for a while now with a friend, and your insight is priceless !)
    >Take care
    >Nicolas

    You're welcome, Nicolas (on both counts).

    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
    October 25, 2012


    Ways to improve my game

    >From: Emily L
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 5:40 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is the best way to improve your game...any website for practice

    Hello, Emily.
    Welcome to my website. You wrote:

    What is the best way to improve your game
    Well, let's see... a good teacher (see FAQ 4A, FAQ 15, and the Find Players/Teachers bulletin board)... a good book (see FAQ 3)... my weekly strategy column (see purple banner atop this page)...

    any website for practice
    See FAQ 5. The Frequently Asked Question links are above left, 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
    October 24, 2012


    Robbing the kong

    >From: Nicolas
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 1:02 AM
    >Subject: Khan/Kung stealing question
    >Hello Tom !
    >We were playing chinese classical mahjong with friends yesterday, and hit a wall concerning the "stealing a kung to make mahjong" rule.
    >In Riichi mahjong, if I remember correctly, if a given tile is your winning tile, and someone khans it (yeah, that's totally a verb), either with a hidden khan or by completing a pung, you are allowed to steal it, win nice points and gloat at your friend for stealing his beloved khan.
    >I would be tempted to transfer this rule to the CC mahjong, but my friends thought that is was only when someone tried to steal a Kung from someone, and it just happens to be your winning tile, and behold, it adds to your points multiplicator. This makes it even more rare, I think, so we decided to have you as our solomon king of mahjong rules.
    >I browsed at your FAQs in case there was something about it. If I missed it, I can curse my daily caffeine intake for being too low and apologize profusely.
    >In any case, thanks for your time, and have a great day :)
    >Nicolas

    Hi Nicolas, you wrote:

    In Riichi mahjong, if I remember correctly, if a given tile is your winning tile, and someone khans it (yeah, that's totally a verb), either with a hidden khan or by completing a pung, you are allowed to steal it
    My FAQ 25 says,

      Robbing the kong ("Chan kan") -- Permitted at the moment that a player is promoting an exposed pung to a kong, and only when doing so completes the hand. Considered win by discard. Robbing a concealed kong is usually not permitted (some tables permit it to complete a yakuman hand - some tables permit it only to complete kokushimusou specifically - and the move is only permissible at the moment the ankan is being melded).

    So it is not a universally accepted practice in riichi/dora majan to permit robbing concealed kongs.

    my friends thought that is was only when someone tried to steal a Kung from someone
    You lost me there, Nicolas. In Chinese Classical rules (and in Majiang Competition Rules aka Chinese Official), the kong may be robbed only when an exposed pung is being promoted to a kong, and the robbed tile gives the robber the win. Hope I've answered your question!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


    Column #540

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 8:35 PM
    >Subject: #9and 10 in your Oct 7th column
    >Hi there
    >My favorite columns are these WWYP, as I try to see what I would do vs what you did.
    >#9 is a tricky one - would be thrilled to see three jokers, but still not much else to go with . You said you have three consecutive tiles, but I don't see that. there is a 2C, 4C and 5C. Had you meant to put up a 3C instead of a 2C?
    >I would still keep the three cracks and the red and hope something came together either in evens, consec or quints with at least some of those tiles!
    >for #10 - I would have kept the 2 one dots, the 4B and 7C as a possible 11's hand ,and the 2-4c, 2-4b and 8dots as a possible evens depending on what else comes around in passing. So would have passed the 7d, the 1B and the 9c!! (I'm assuming this is the first pass!)
    >thoughts??!!

    Well, let's take a look at those, then.

      9. With three Js, think Quints first. Got three consecutive numbers (3 4 5). You have lots of passers.

      10. Ones and eights says Elevens, but you have no 3s or Fs. No jokers, but no S&P combos. Fall back to Consec., pass 9D and 4s for starters.

    You said you have three consecutive tiles, but I don't see that. there is a 2C, 4C and 5C. Had you meant to put up a 3C instead of a 2C?
    >I would still keep the three cracks and the red and hope something came together either in evens, consec or quints with at least some of those tiles!
    There is no 3C in the deal. There's a 3D and a 4C and a 5C and a 5B. I would also keep 6B (I realize I didn't say so in the column; so shoot me). So the only difference between us is that you would keep 2C and R, I guess? I would probably also keep 2C once I reorganized, putting potential passers at the right. The main thing is I would eschew any Consecutive hands with pairs in them. Nonexistent pairs are what kill three-joker hands. (Note: I'm using a Mac computer at the office, so the colors and look of this differ from what I usually turn out):

    for #10 - I would have kept the 2 one dots, the 4B and 7C as a possible 11's hand ,and the 2-4c, 2-4b and 8dots as a possible evens depending on what else comes around in passing. So would have passed the 7d, the 1B and the 9c!! (I'm assuming this is the first pass!)
    "Assuming first pass" is the right way to go, unless the column says otherwise.

    Yours sets up the hand better for Consec. #3 and #5, which are easier to make than Consec. #2 (especially since this has no pairs for it).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


    What kind of set do I need (except for bai'da tiles)?

    >From: Khang T
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 6:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >My question regards mahjong sets. I'm able to play taiwanese style mahjong, but I would like a overall set that will allow me to play both Taiwanese/Chinese/HK style. Could I just purchase a "standard" 144 character chinese set to play all 3 styles above (except for taiwanese bonus bai'da tiles)?
    >thanks!

    Hi, Khang.
    Yes, a standard 144-tile set is fine for Chinese variants that don't use a "100 uses" joker tile, and for Hong Kong style mah-jongg. I do not know what this bai'da tile is. Could you send me a picture, or write the characters for bai'da? I would really appreciate it. (Then again: perhaps "bai" is "100" and "da" is "uses"?)

    Is this a bai'da tile? If so, any set that comes with these, and 8 flower/season tiles, can be used for all three variants.

    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
    October 24, 2012


    Can you give names for teachers in Orange County, part 2

    >From: Pam W
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 3:40 PM
    >Subject: Re: Marjong
    >Tom, I already checked FAQ4A and there was no one in Orange County which is why I wrote you directly. I guess you don’t have any names for me either. Thanks anyway. Pam

    Silly me, my bad. I should have known that you'd already read FAQ 4A, and FAQ 15, and the Find Players/Teachers board. I don't know why you thought I am withholding information from the FAQs and the boards. I assure you I am not sitting on any more teacher names. I put everything out there -- that is the whole point of this site.
    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
    October 23, 2012


    Can you give names for teachers in Orange County please

    >From: Pam W
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 8:10 AM
    >Subject: Marjong
    >Tom, can you give names for teachers in Orange County please. I play American. Thanks much. Pam

    Pam, you'll have to look in FAQ 4A and the Find Players/Teachers board just like everybody else. You can find the Frequently Asked Question links and bulletin board links above left. In FAQ 4A, the teachers are listed by state and city (not by county). In the Find Players/Teachers board you'll want to search the page using your browser's Find feature. There are people in Orange, NJ and Orange, CA and Orange County (the one in California, not one of the eight other Orange Counties in this great land). Some folks also list zip code. If you can't find a teacher in FAQ 4A and the Find Players/Teachers board, you should read FAQ 15.
    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
    October 23, 2012


    Bam, bam on the range

    >From: Paulina N
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 7:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong
    >Tom,
    >I found this Mah Jong in a Garage Sales, I have already checked your webpage, and it looks from 1920's. Can you confirm this please?
    >The sticks look made by bones, some of them are signs of porosity.
    >The box is not pretty, is just a metallic one.
    >According your webpage,this can cost around 50 -500, which would be the range for this one.
    >Attached you will find the pictures, thanks in advance!!!1
    >Paulina

    Hello, Paulina. You wrote:

    it looks from 1920's. Can you confirm this please?
    Yes. This type of set is from the 1920s.

    According your webpage,this can cost around 50 -500, which would be the range for this one.
    That range applies to a 1920s bone-and-bamboo set in a nice wooden box -- not to bamboo tiles in a not-pretty tin box. I can't tell you how much your set is worth because you haven't given me enough information as requested by that FAQ. This type of set was sold cheaply, to give people a cheap alternative to the bone-and-bamboo sets.

    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
    October 23, 2012


    Turn of the century set, part 2

    >From: sloer bhms awp slk
    >Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 4:53 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mahjong Set Turn Of The Century
    >Are you saying normans of mosman gave me the wrong information? they looked at it for 3 weeks.I just want to know,have they gave me wrong information. thanks.
    >
    >From: sloer bhms awp slk
    >Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 5:05 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mahjong Set Turn Of The Century
    >by the way,that is gold not yellow paint haha

    Hello, Steve. You wrote:

    Are you saying normans of mosman gave me the wrong information?
    I said, "I can't tell you how much your set is worth, because you have not given me enough information as specified in my How Much Is It Worth FAQ." So I cannot dispute that part of it. I also said, "It is not from the turn of the century." So they definitely told you wrong about that part. They gave you some wrong information, and some other information that I cannot verify because I do not have enough information from you.

    by the way,that is gold not yellow paint haha
    I assume you are referring to the figures on the front of the box, and some portions of the top of the box.

    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
    October 22, 2012


    Mother-of-pearl set

    >From: William P
    >Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2012 1:26 AM
    >Subject: Mother of Pearl Mah Jong Set
    >Dear Mr.Sloper,
    >I am writing to you in the hope that either you or one of the visitors to your site will be able to answer the several questions I have relating to the following set.
    >1. Description- The set comprises 144 Mother of pearl topped Mah Jong tiles pinned to their bases by 4 pins ,two on either side of the tile , two dice,4 circular wind directions and a quantity of betting tokens all made from mother of pearl.
    >It comes in a cantilevered lockable box made from Amboyna burr veneer on either Mahogany or Narra. There are 6 trays of tiles ,each tray contains 24 tiles in two layers.
    >2.The condition is very good
    >3. Material -Mainly Mother of Pearl .One of my questions relates to the backing material.It could be buffalo horn, heavily lacquered wood or something else.
    >4. I am not certain when it was made .I purchased it from a German Auction House last month.The Auction House had been told by the sellers that it had always been in their family and had been inherited from their father's estate . They estimated the set to date from the later years of the 19th Century.
    >5.Each tile measures 30 X 20 X 10 mm,the backing material measures 8mm in depth. .
    >6. Number of tiles --144 tiles
    >7. Other items in the set are 4 wind directions, 2 dice, Betting tokens in a variety of values.
    >8. The box is Amboyna and cantilevered in construction.There are 6 trays of tiles which are part of the cantilever and the 7th tray containing the accessories is loose but fits perfectly into a recess in the top of the box under the lid.
    >9. There is a slight warping of the sides of the box but otherwise the condition is very good.
    >10.There are no papers or Instruction Booklet.
    >11.I have attached a photo of the Character tiles
    >12.I have attached a photo of the One Bamboo
    >13.I have attached a photo of the Dragon tiles
    >14.I have attached a photo of the Flower tiles
    >15.There are no Jokers with the set.
    >My questions :-
    >1. Where and by whom was the set made?
    >2. When was the set made ?
    >3. What is the material backing the Mother of pearl tops?
    >Many thanks for your kind consideration in publishing my questions.
    >Yours sincerely,
    >W.G.Price
    >Gt.Missenden
    >Buckinghamshire,
    >England

    Hello, Mr. Price.
    I am sorry for the delay in replying to you. I discovered your email when I was cleaning my spam folder today.
    I am impressed with some of the details you mentioned. You mentioned "Amboyna burr veneer on either Mahogany or Narra." I have no idea what amboyna or narra even are! So I don't know how helpful this is going to be. You asked four questions.

    The set may have been made in China, but I have no certainty of that. The set could equally have been made in Japan or America or Europe, for all I know. I imagine that the sophistication of the manufacturing indicates a probable Western origin rather than Chinese.
    Sorry, but I am not knowledgeable as to set manufacturers. Especially without paper materials.
    It was definitely not made in the 19th century. Observe that your tiles have stamped or printed Western indices on them -- clearly the indices are part of the original manufacturing process (not something added later). Therefore, for the same reason I told Steve Rizzon earlier today (below), your tiles were clearly made after 1920. You should read the history FAQ (FAQ 11H).
    I do not know what amboyna or narra are. I do know what mahogany and buffalo horn are. Based on just a photo, I cannot tell you if the backs of your tiles are horn or wood. If I could touch them, I could determine that much (but not much else). Horn has a different smell, feel, and heft from wood.

    I found photos of two mother-of-pearl sets in the books of the Mahjong Museum (the museum in Chiba, Japan). Unfortunately, the books are long on photos but short on detailed information in English. So there is very little information in those books about when or where those other mother-of-pearl sets were made. One was from Vietnam (and had tiles specific to the Vietnamese variant of the game), and was made during "Doi Moi," which apparently is very recent (since the Vietnam war). One set was made in China and was used in China (allegedly by descendants of Confucius). Neither set looks like yours.

    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
    October 22, 2012


    Turn of the century set

    >From: sloer bhms awp slk
    >Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2012 11:19 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong Set Turn Of The Century
    >Hello, I was wondering if you could please give me some information on this Mahjong set.It has been in the family for years,Any information would be much appreciated,
    >Yours sincerly,Steve Rizzon.

    Hello, Steve.
    Welcome to my website. As I wrote in Frequently Asked Question 7P, I dislike and cannot answer "some information" and "any information" questions. The only two questions I can glean from your email are:
    "is my set from the turn of the century (i.e. 1900)?"
    "Is the pictured insurance valuation of $1,200 correct?"
    So those are the only two questions I can address.

    It is not from the "turn of the century." If you read the History FAQ (FAQ 11) and the How Old Is It FAQ (FAQ 7G), you'll see that sets did not come with Western indices until 1920.

    Your tiles have Western indices, so your set is not from 1900.

    I can't tell you how much your set is worth, because you have not given me enough information as specified in my How Much Is It Worth FAQ (FAQ 7H). But there is nothing especially wonderful about your tiles.

    The fancy carved box is another question. I am not an expert on the boxes, but I suppose it could be an authentic 1920s box. The main question is what kind of condition it's in. Your photos indicate some wear around the edges, but I don't know how it feels, how it smells, how it looks on the back and bottom and sides, whether it's solid, how well it carries by the handle, how well the front fits.
    I don't know if the tiles have haversian system, stains, if the joints are tight and well aligned.

    I doubt it's worth $1,200 in US dollars (and I don't estimate in Australian dollars). But I don't have enough information to say how much it might be worth.

    If you want me to try to give you a valuation, you'll need to give me the information I need. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Read FAQ 7G.

    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
    October 22, 2012


    Speed of play, part 3

    >From: Edwin Phua
    >Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 5:02 AM
    >Subject: Re: Speed of play
    >Dear Tom,
    >I write in response to Ray's question about the speed of play in MCR.
    >
    >>Not having been playing for very long...about 5 weeks now...I find the expected speed of play rather daunting. In your book you mention 20 seconds for the first discard by the dealer (Chinese Official Rules), and state that a beginner should play within the speed of the more experienced players (though you don't use those words of course). I find though that I like to take my time; assessing potential strategies, understanding the odds of certain fan choices as the game evolves, working out what the others are doing etc., more in the way of chess I suppose.
    >>Is a faster played game born out of a gambling concept? Does a faster game lead to more low scoring games as players aim for quick wins? Do you think a slower game is more enjoyable?
    >>On the Mahjong Time on-line gaming site, many of the games have a 7 second rule. I've hardly even worked out what the tile is by then, let alone whether it fits with my hand or leads down a different route as well as trying to assess what the other players intentions are. It seems we have no sooner started a game than it is over.
    >>As I get more experienced and skilled I'm sure my speed will increase; but will this be at the expense of enjoyment of the challenge of developing a good hand?
    >

    >I think one important thing to note about playing MCR (i.e. Chinese Official Rules) is that it is used for competition, and in competitions, players are limited by time, usually 90 or 120 minutes per game/session. Within this 90 or 120 minutes, it is optimum to play as many hands as possible, in order to win as many times as possible to rack up the points so as to win the table. This is also one of the reasons why time limits are specified in the official rulebook, and why players are penalised for taking too much time ('stalling for time', which can be construed as an unfair move to create a disadvantage for the opponents).
    >For casual play, sure, slow play could be done (with the right opponents, such as fellow learners new to MCR), but as a player improves, it becomes natural to play faster as some strategies and understanding of the probabilities and dynamics become internalised and less time need to be taken for such detailed analysis.
    >Best regards,
    >Edwin

    Hi, Edwin. Good to hear from you.
    You raise a very good point about the time limit. Competitions always have to enforce a time limit, and those time limits are based on "normal" speed of play (which is always faster than beginners' speed of play).
    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
    October 22, 2012


    Speed of play, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2012 10:56 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Speed of Play
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for the interesting answer to my query about speed of play. Your answer has sparked another line of "study" for me during the coming week; that is to see how well I can assess opponents' likely hands based on their discards, I just need to find a few near end-game samples from somewhere. I have been doing this of course during play to avoid discarding a tile that an opponent is waiting for (though I still mess up much of the time), but I thought that if I could see if I can work out a hand from discards, without seeing the exposed tiles (i.e. the pungs and chows built with a discard) then this may help my skill level further. (I work away from home all week, so playing for real in the week isn't easy; studying your book is though!)
    >So, my question (at last, you may be thinking)...are the discards during the middle/ end game more useful in working out what hand an opponent is building than the early discards (when they may be trying to assess a way forward, for example)?
    >Your advice to all my questions has really helped my game evolve quickly; although I lose more games than I win, when I do win it's often with good scores.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    I thought that if I could see if I can work out a hand from discards, without seeing the exposed tiles
    The tricky thing is that not all hands can be read. You shouldn't torture yourself but rather let this skill develop with time, while you begin by concentrating on your offensive strategies. Once you have developed your own offensive strategies, you'll be able to recognize them in use by others. As for what you said about reading discards only, I would not ignore exposures. They are vital information.

    are the discards during the middle/ end game more useful in working out what hand an opponent is building than the early discards
    That thought had never occurred to me; you may be onto something. But I would not ignore early discards, and I would not assume that endgame discards are a sign of the hand being broken up. For signs of that sort, I would watch the body language of the discarder. But be aware that some smart players can use reverse-psychology body language.

    I lose more games than I win
    If you lose 75% of the time, then you and your three opponents are evenly matched. If you win more games than you lose, then you are ready for competition play.

    By the way, I used your email this morning as a basis for this week's column.

    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
    October 21, 2012


    Speed of play

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, October 21, 2012 12:54 AM
    >Subject: Speed of Play
    >Hi Mr Sloper...oops, I mean Tom!
    >Not having been playing for very long...about 5 weeks now...I find the expected speed of play rather daunting. In your book you mention 20 seconds for the first discard by the dealer (Chinese Official Rules), and state that a beginner should play within the speed of the more experienced players (though you don't use those words of course). I find though that I like to take my time; assessing potential strategies, understanding the odds of certain fan choices as the game evolves, working out what the others are doing etc., more in the way of chess I suppose.
    >Is a faster played game born out of a gambling concept? Does a faster game lead to more low scoring games as players aim for quick wins? Do you think a slower game is more enjoyable?
    >On the Mahjong Time on-line gaming site, many of the games have a 7 second rule. I've hardly even worked out what the tile is by then, let alone whether it fits with my hand or leads down a different route as well as trying to assess what the other players intentions are. It seems we have no sooner started a game than it is over.
    >As I get more experienced and skilled I'm sure my speed will increase; but will this be at the expense of enjoyment of the challenge of developing a good hand?
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    Is a faster played game born out of a gambling concept?
    No. It's born out of human nature. A mah-jongg game is a four-person activity, and there is an inherent impulse for the people to seek group enjoyment as well as individual enjoyment out of the activity.

    Does a faster game lead to more low scoring games as players aim for quick wins?
    No.

    Do you think a slower game is more enjoyable?
    Oh god no! A slower game puts me to sleep. A slower game causes my thinking to atrophy, wither, and die while my mind wanders to things I could be doing instead of sitting at a table waiting for others to play.

    As I get more experienced and skilled I'm sure my speed will increase; but will this be at the expense of enjoyment of the challenge of developing a good hand?
    No. You will experience enhanced enjoyment, from the challenge of giving your mind a workout.

    You wrote that you take your time "assessing potential strategies, understanding the odds of certain fan choices as the game evolves, working out what the others are doing etc., more in the way of chess I suppose." That's a lot of stuff to think about. If you want to speed up your game, make an attempt to speed up your thinking while trying to develop multitasking (multithreaded thinking). Realize that your thinking process can change as the hand progresses through the stages. These stages can be thought of as generally coinciding with the shape of the orderly discards. Since you play MCR, your discards are placed in rows of six tiles in the center of the table, and so are your opponents' discards. This is like a clock that shows what stage of the game you're in.

    During the first stage, you shouldn't spend a lot of time thinking about what the other players are doing. Just focus on your own tiles, to see what your hand might shape towards. This phase moves very quickly; everyone is picking and discarding rapidly.

    During the middle stage, you should have chosen your hand and you can switch mental energies to calling tiles you need if they emerge. The speed of the overall game slows a bit now.

    During the final stage, switch your thinking to defense. Players are trying to keep their hands alive while they are also trying to consider what their discards might give to opponents, so this is when the game slows down the most.

    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
    October 21, 2012


    Can I kong a NEWS? Can I kong a 2012?

    >From: Phyllis G
    >Sent: Friday, October 19, 2012 8:37 PM
    >Subject: Please may I have the answer to questions below
    >Question:
    >If you are playing the Winds-Dragons line that includes "NEWS" and someone throws one of those four letters, can you "call" for that to complete "NEWS" or do you have to get those letters from the walls or from the Charlestons?
    >Does this also apply to 2012 combinations? They cannot be picked up from someone throwing them.
    >Thanks,
    >P. G

    Hello, Phyllis.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19E.1.
    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
    October 19, 2012


    Give me some tips on how to find players in my area

    >From: Wendi F
    >Sent: Friday, October 19, 2012 4:30 PM
    >Subject: Finding a Group in My Area
    >I learned to play mah jongg this summer while █████████ing in Michigan. I would like to continue to play as a beginner in the ██████████ Metro area. My zip is █████ and the village is ██████████. That is in the southwest corner of ██████████ County.
    >If you are able to help me, I would appreciate it. If you are unable, could you please give me some tips/help?
    >Thank You,
    >Wendi

    Hi, Wendi. 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.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 15.
    Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

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


    What's the history of mah-jongg? Why are so many players Jewish?

    >From: Jeanne
    >Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 4:44 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Who might help me with the history of mah jongg…how it was brought to the United States….and why is the game connected to the Jewish Community.

    Welcome to my website, Jeanne. You've asked things 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.
    Please read FAQ 11H (the history question) and FAQ 19T (the Jewish question).
    Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    You are welcome to come back anytime you have questions about mah-jongg. Just please look for your answers in the FAQs before emailing a question to me. 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
    October 18, 2012


    Did she "destroy" her hand?

    >From: "sandrabhixson
    >Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 8:37 AM
    >Subject: What constitutes "destroyed" hand
    >I've played mah-jongg for years and haven't had this occur before. When one player declares mah-jongg in error and another player either exposes all her tiles or dumps her tiles into the middle of the table the rules state she too would be declared dead and the remaining two players would continue play. In a recent game a player declared mah-jongg in error. Another player had one exposure on her rack and when the mah-jongg was declared she dumped her exposure and remaining tiles toward herself. In other words the tiles were between her rack and herself. Would this be considered a "destroyed" hand and would she be declared dead along with the player who called mah-jongg in error. This player claimed that she could put her exposure back on top her rack, place her unexposed tiles back on the slope of her rack and continue playing. Since no one knew for sure if she should be called dead she was allowed to continue play.
    >Thanks

    Hello Sandra, you wrote:

    she dumped her exposure and remaining tiles toward herself. In other words the tiles were between her rack and herself. Would this be considered a "destroyed" hand
    I wouldn't consider it destroyed. She can reconstitute it to my satisfaction.

    and would she be declared dead
    I am not a fortuneteller.

    she was allowed to continue play.
    Good!

    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
    October 18, 2012


    Gotcha - it's not from 1919. Tell me something more!

    >From: Szymon Lasota
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 2:03 PM
    >Subject: more pictures
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for great explanation. here is some more pictures and info I got about those tiles, but pretty much you said all I needed to know. Thank you very much!
    >Here are more pictures. Its totaly plasitc. Can you tell something more about those tiles?
    >1. All 148 tiles are in set, there are plastic sticks, wind indicators,
    >2.Condition of tiles I can tell looks like Good or even very good, only box is litte used like fair/poor
    >3. Looks like plastic
    >5.Dimensions (not very accurate, form seller):width: 2cm, height: 3cm, depth: 1cm
    >6. 144 tiles with additional letters, and 4 blank
    >More pictures in attachment (as you already wrote, about other parts of set i cant tell more)

    Hi, Szymon. You wrote:

    pretty much you said all I needed to know. Thank you very much! Here are more pictures. Its totaly plasitc. Can you tell something more about those tiles?
    Yes, maybe. But please! As I explained in FAQ 19P, I dislike "tell me anything" or "tell me something" questions. What else is it you want me to tell you? I don't need all those pictures you sent this time. This one is enough to show that the tiles are plastic.
    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
    October 17, 2012


    Is it really from 1919?

    >From: Szymon Lasota
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 1:32 AM
    >Subject: how old is that set
    >Hello Tom,
    >I have found recently on Polish auction this set: http://allegro.pl/stara-gra-z-1919r-mahjong-i2717671215.html
    >I wonder if from the pictures you can tell anything about it, its worth date of production and so on. I also asked seller for more pictures of tiles. And I wonder if this set really could be from 1919? If you could tell anything from that pictures I would be greatfull.
    >--
    >Szymon Lasota
    >Wiceprezes Polskiej Ligi Mahjonga
    >波蘭麻雀連盟の副会長
    >www.mahjong.waw.pl

    Hello Szymon, you wrote:

    I wonder if from the pictures you can tell anything about it, its worth date of production and so on.
    If you want to know its value, you have to give me the information requested in FAQ 7H. And you must send me pictures, not give me a link.

    I wonder if this set really could be from 1919?
    It is not from 1919. The evidence:
    The first recorded commercial exportation of mah-jongg sets in any significant numbers from China occurred in late 1920. See the mah-jongg history timeline (FAQ 11H). This set is clearly made for sale outside China (note the indices on the tiles, for example).
    The type of box is one that was used later, after the initial mah-jongg craze. It is from the 1920s (or later), not 1919.
    The set includes plastic scoring sticks, again a later practice.
    The set includes a Chad Valley Score Card Calculator with the name "Mah-Jongg" on it. This scoring wheel was made in the 1920s; it did not exist yet in 1919.
    The term "mah-jongg" was filed for trademark in 1923. While it's possible that the wheel was sold separately and not part of the set, the way it nests perfectly in the box suggests that the set is a Chad Valley set, probably no earlier than 1923, certainly not 1919.
    These tiles may possibly be plastic. In 1919, the practice was to make them of bone and bamboo.

    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
    October 17, 2012


    Thanks

    >From: Cathe J
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 7:33 PM
    >Subject: Thank YOU
    >Hi Tom,
    >You have no reason to know me, and I haven't posted to your boards, but I've gained an amazing education thanks to you. I just wanted you to know that you're important, your work matters, and some random stranger is better for it. (at least my games are! comicz too)
    >Cathe aka ratmando
    >"It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."
    >- Mark Twain
    >I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.- Anonymous

    I'm glad my site has been helpful for you, Cathe. Keep working on those parts that Mark Twain can't understand!

    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 16, 2012


    Can Half Flush be combined with All Terminals and Honors?

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 12:15 PM
    >Subject: Was Half Flush valid?
    >Hi Mr Sloper,
    >Another question! I promise this'll be the last for a few days as it must seem I'm being a bit cheeky!
    >Playing Chinese Official rules, one of us (not me, unfortunately) went out with All Terminals and Honours, a Fan worth 32 points. Apart from the pair, all the tiles were Honours, the pair being 9 Bams.
    >He also claimed a Half Flush, worth 6 points, as he had only one suit, albeit just the pair. This seems to be stretching things a bit to me! Was this a legitimate claim?
    >His tiles were; 3 East Winds, 3 West Winds, 3 Red Dragons, 3 White Dragons and a pair of 9 Bams.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hello Ray (or would you prefer I call you Mr. H?), you wrote:

    Hi Mr Sloper,
    There's no need to be so formal (as I said to Toby recently). Please call me Tom.

    Another question! I promise this'll be the last for a few days
    No need to be shy. Bring me your questions, your huddled quandaries... This is what I do!

    it must seem I'm being a bit cheeky!
    Not at all.

    He also claimed a Half Flush, worth 6 points, as he had only one suit, albeit just the pair. This seems to be stretching things a bit to me!
    How so? Why does it seem to be stretching things?

    Was this a legitimate claim?
    Look at the description of All Terminals and Honors in my book, on page 149. (I seem to recall your saying you had my book.) It lists combinations that may not be added. Half Flush is not listed, which means that it may be combined.

    When a fan is not stated outright as being implied or included (thus may not be combined), then it may be combined.
    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
    October 15, 2012


    Does an official rule still apply when we use unofficial rules?

    >From: Diane K
    >Sent: Monday, October 15, 2012 8:57 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a person throws to a third exposure and (table rules)and has to pay for the table and he was also bet on . does the better pay the same amount as the thrower.
    >Hand was worth .25 so thrower is .50 and each person ..25 = $1.00 for thrower and $ 1.00 for better or does the thrower and better split the amount
    >Thank you
    >Diane

    Hello, Diane.
    I think you're asking if all the official rules still apply even though your group is using an unofficial table rule. All I can tell you is what the official rules say. I can't tell you how your unofficial rule should work, or how it should work when it runs up against official rules. When your group uses a table rule, your group has to figure out all the details. The official betting rule is given in FAQ 19W.4. The rule on table rules is given in FAQ 14.
    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
    October 15, 2012


    Holding out for the bigger win

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, October 14, 2012 7:20 AM
    >Subject: Taking a risk...
    >Oh my, I hope you don't mind me asking yet another question...this one too is a little complex (well, complex to me at any rate). I hope my explanation is understandable!
    >Again, I was playing Chinese Official rules.
    >I was on for two high scoring fan, a Pure Straight (1 through 9 in one suit) and a Full Flush (all tiles of one suit).
    >My hand, after many rounds, showed the following:
    >1,2,3,4,4,5,5,6,7,8 Bams. I'd already declared a Chow of 1,2,3 Bams.
    >On the table, having been discarded by the others, were 1,5,5,6,6,6,7,8,9,9 Bams. So I knew there were sufficient Bams left to enable me to get the two high scoring scoring fan.
    >I'd need a 9 and then to do something about a pair. I couldn't get a pair through the 5 Bams as the other two had been discarded and I needed one of my 5 Bams for the Pure Straight. But the 4 Bams was possible (but so were others if I managed to self draw a 2, 3, 7, 8 or 9 and then either get the pair from a discard or another self draw).
    >Then a 4 Bams was discarded.
    >I can go out on a Full Flush right now, but not the Pure Straight yet. A dilemma!
    >If i took the 4 Bams I'd have 1,2,3; 1,2,3; 4,4,4; 6,7,8 and a pair of 5 Bams. Should I ignore the 4 and hope that I get the tiles needed for the two high scoring fan. I couldn't wait too long to decide!
    >I took the decision to go out there and then and sacrifice the extra fan, along with all those extra points.
    >So...bearing in mind there was so many Bams yet to appear, did I make the right decision? Should I have bided my time...was it worth the risk of someone else going out and me finishing with nought? There was about 20 tiles left in the wall, so there was time.
    >I suppose the balancing of risks comes better with experience..and whether the extra points are really needed. As it was I still scored 24 for the Full Flush, 1 for the Pure Double Chow and I had 5 flowers for some extra points too. So it was a pretty good outcome!
    >Looking through your FAQs, I couldn't see anything on this balancing of risk...but there is so much information (wow! what a fantastic resource you have established) that I could easily have missed it...if I have then you have my apologies. I suppose knowing when to take the risk is part of becoming a decent player!
    >Regards,
    >Ray H

    Good morning, Ray.
    This is not a complicated question at all. You're asking, "should I take the win now, or hold out for the bigger score?" It's a classic conundrum. Your analysis of the situation is exactly right. With that hand, 4B and 9B were your needs for the big win (5B being dead). And I absolutely would have taken the 4B for the smaller win, as you did. The chances are too great that somebody else will win before you make the bigger one.
    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
    October 14, 2012


    Knitted Straight

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Saturday, October 13, 2012 12:32 PM
    >Subject: Knitted Straight
    >Hi Mr Sloper! I hope you don't mind me asking what has become quite an involved question!
    >I've been trying to implement the strategies in your book (okay, I have had the book for just three days, but it's already well thumbed!) but I struggled with knowing what to do here.
    >So, was there a better strategy to this hand? I'm playing Chinese Official rules and received the following hand...
    >
    >2, 3, 7, 9 Dots
    >2, 6, 8 Bams
    >1, 4, 6 Chars
    >West and North winds
    >White dragon
    >
    >I struggled to see where this hand could go, but thought that Knitted Straight was a potential route...I couldn't work out an alternative. I'd need 6 Dots (or circles, to give the 3, 6 and 9), 5 Bams (or bamboo, to give the 2, 5 and 8) and 7 Craks (or characters, to give the 1, 4 and 7).
    >The first four tiles picked didn't advance me much, the tiles were 9 Bams, South wind,1 Craks and West wind...so at least had my pair (of West winds).
    >The next four didn't get me much further either; 3 Bams, 4 Craks, 4 Bams and 2 Dots.
    >After a few more picks I managed to get the 5 Bams but went through the rest of the game getting nothing useful. Towards the end I focussed on discarding tiles that were no use to the others (two of whom were going for all pungs, the other remained concealed but her discards were nearly all Craks or Dots, so I guessed a Straight of Bams was likely).
    >We finished with nobody winning, so at least I didn't lose points.
    >So after all that, here's my question, (well it's a few related questions really). Was my idea to try for a Knitted Straight reasonable, given the tiles I had, or would something else have been easier to achieve? As you have to self pick all the tiles, there's no opportunity for grabbing a discard, so although the fan is worth 12 points, it seems very hard to get the tiles necessary. Other 12 point fans, such as Upper Four or Lower Four seem rather easier to achieve. Is then a Knitted Straight really worth trying for?
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray. You wrote:

    was there a better strategy to this hand?... I struggled to see where this hand could go... thought that Knitted Straight...I couldn't work out an alternative.
    Don't kick yourself. It looks like an unfortunate combination of tiles.

    I'd need 6 Dots... 5 Bams... and 7 Craks
    Yes, you're missing those three tiles for the Knitted Straight. Definitely a stretch.

    The first four tiles picked didn't advance me much, the tiles were 9 Bams, South wind,1 Craks and West wind...so at least had my pair (of West winds).
    I don't know what you were discarding throughout all that, but I gather that you were not discarding winds. I would have been discarding the winds and collecting numbers, especially simples.

    Towards the end I focussed on discarding tiles that were no use to the others
    Wise to switch to defense, yes.

    Was my idea to try for a Knitted Straight reasonable, given the tiles I had, or would something else have been easier to achieve?
    It wasn't a great deal. You don't have to throw out the idea of Knitted Straight, but I would have jettisoned winds and dragons, and tried to see what other options presented themselves. The usual thing is to go for chows (regular, not knitted). I hope you didn't reorganize your tiles to force them into Knitted Straight.

    If you do that, you can easily lose sight of other options as new tiles come in. Tiles should remain in suited numerical order, and reorganizing should happen in your mind.

    Is then a Knitted Straight really worth trying for?
    Sure, if you have a good deal.

    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
    October 13, 2012


    Mystery disks, part 3

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2012 7:56 AM
    >Subject: Bakelite discs
    >Hi Mr Sloper,
    >Some recent correspondence on the Mah Jong site from Toby Salk showed some Bakelite discs...you asked if maybe a visitor to the site knew what they are. I believe them to be poker chips, now being repurposed within the fashion jewellery trade...here's an example of the same disc made into a necklace...
    >http://www.taigan.com/shops/lizzycouture/items/
    >32224-bakelite-toby-poker-chip-necklace-n4375-by-lizzy-couture.
    >The one shown in the link has the same "TOBY" lettering.
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Great, Ray. I'm sure Ms. Tobster Salkarama will appreciate this additional piece to her puzzle.
    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
    10/11/12


    New reader, gravitating to MCR

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2012 1:45 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Mr Sloper,
    >I just thought I'd let you know that I just received your book "The Red Dragon and The West Wind" as a birthday present yesterday! I am quite new to Mah-Jong, less than 2 months, so I have a lot to learn...your book will be an enormous help, as will be your newsgroup site.
    >I don't know anyone else who plays (I live in the UK, but on a small island off the North Wales coast) so all my playing has been either on-line or via an iPad app. I seem to gravitate to the Official Chinese rules version. I note that you appear to have stopped putting up posts on this version, concentrating on the American rules...is there a reason for this, has the Official Chinese version lost some impetus for example?
    >Regards
    >Ray H

    Hi, Ray.
    I'm delighted that you have my book. I hope you do find it helpful. The newsgroup is fairly inactive these days, but I do my best to keep this site up to date.
    There are several reasons for the lack of reportage on MCR in the columns. For one thing, I spent a lot of money traveling to events in China and Europe, and can not afford further travels for the time being. So I haven't been playing those rules. Not playing those rules, coming up with column topics on those rules is difficult. For another thing, the overwhelming majority of questions I get on the site are from players of American rules. That led me to believe that the majority of visitors are interested in American rules, so I focus on those in the column. If I got an upsurge in readers interested in MCR, I'd gladly move my focus.
    On an unrelated note: In the short term, I am experiencing a computer rebellion here at home, and I can't be sure that that won't impact things like the column. If there's an interruption in the columns, the cause is computer trouble.
    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
    10/11/12


    Mystery disks, part 2

    >From: Toby Alice
    >Sent: Sunday, October 7, 2012 6:06 PM
    >Subject: Mystery Disks
    >Dear Tomster, : )
    >Here are the Mystery Disks. Many thanks. Toby

    Hello, Toby. You wrote:

    Dear Tomster,
    Wow. Give you an inch...

    Here are the Mystery Disks. Many thanks.
    Well, how 'bout them apples. Never saw such a thing. Maybe a visitor to the site will have a clue.

    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
    October 7, 2012


    Mystery disks

    >From: Toby Salk
    >Sent: Sunday, October 7, 2012 1:34 PM
    >Subject: Bakelite Question
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >I was given a gift of four bakelite disks, no holes, 1.5 inches in diameter, golden colored with TOBY printed in the centers. Can you tell me what these were used for? Thank you.
    >Toby
    >--
    >Toby Salk
    >tobysmj@gmail.com
    >www.mahjonggforeveryone.com
    >510.334.4516

    Dear Ms. Salk (since we are being formal),
    I might be able to make a wild guess if I could see a photo of them. They might have nothing to do with mah-jongg, but if you could photograph them with one or two tiles, that might help put them in perspective.
    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
    October 7, 2012


    This 's a problem

    >From: Dolly T
    >Sent: Sunday, October 7, 2012 7:53 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Re: pick and rack , is this a rule?
    >Can a player pick, and top, or have the tile over her rack? Or already looked at the tile
    >Can another player , claim the previous discard, and then the pick tile have to be put back,
    >claiming the tile was not properly rack, making
    > the picking player , loose a good tile or even a joker?
    >This 's a problem, when is a tile perfectly save,
    >Thank you dolly worn

    Well, Hello, Dolly. It's so nice to have you here where you belong.
    Welcome to my website. You've asked some things 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.
    Please read Frequently Asked Questions 19C, 19AD, and 19AT.
    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
    October 7, 2012


    A discard was named, and FAQ 19AY does not answer my question

    >From: Joanne M
    >Sent: Saturday, October 6, 2012 8:23 AM
    >Subject: misnamed tile discard
    >Hi,
    >I asked the question , but I still did not see the answer to it in American Mah jongg FAQ # 19AY or in FAQ 9.
    >" A player discards a tile, but misnames it. A player calls for said tile, puts up her tiles for all to see ,and then it is realized that the 8 crak tile was misnamed as a 6 crak tile. What should occur next?"
    > This calling for the tile was not for mah jongg- it was only for an exposure. What is the punishment and to whom, because both the discarder and the caller were wrong.
    >>Thanks, again.
    >Joanne M.

    Gee, I'm sorry, Joanne. I thought FAQ 19AY DID answer your question! Here's what FAQ 19AY says about that:

      Q2: What if the misnamed tile was wanted for exposure only (not for mah-jongg)?
      A2: No penalty to the misnamer. Misnamer must speak the correct name of the discarded tile. Once the discard is correctly named, play continues normally - the correctly named discard may be claimed for exposure or for mah-jongg.

    In my mind, that's clear. But apparently it is not. If you could help me understand what's unclear about that, I would really appreciate it. I very much want to improve the wording of the answer 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
    October 6, 2012


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now?

    >From: Joanne M
    >Sent: Friday, October 5, 2012 10:58 AM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >A player discards a tile, but misnames it. A player calls for said tile, puts up her tiles for all to see ,and then it is realized that the 8 crak tile was misnamed as a 6 crak tile. What should occur next?
    >Thanks.
    >Joanne M.

    That's an expensive goof for somebody! But which of the two goofs?
    Welcome to my website, Joanne. 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 19AY.
    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. In this instance, FAQ 9 could also be informative. 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
    October 5, 2012


    Should exposures be "viewer-friendly"?

    >From: Barbara M
    >Sent: Friday, October 5, 2012 2:20 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question is: when I have melded tiles am I required to keep the groups separated. Eg. 4 winds space 4 dragons etc, or can they be displayed with no spaces between?

    Hi, Barbara.
    You're asking about etiquette, not rules. It's courteous to keep your exposures separate so others can read them. You can read more about mah-jongg etiquette in Frequently Asked Question 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
    October 5, 2012


    Do I have to have a natural tile?

    >From: miller0752
    >Sent: Thursday, October 4, 2012 8:23 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can a player pick up a discard if he doesn't have any other tiles to match it, just jokers to make his 3 or 4 set?

    Hello, miller0752!
    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 19L. 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
    October 4, 2012


    Of casein, leather attaché cases, and standing peacocks

    >From: Michael Stanwick
    >Sent: Thursday, October 4, 2012 3:45 AM
    >Subject: Set ID
    >Hello Tom.
    >As to this tile material question [Janet F, "Unsure how to describe the material," and Dean H, "Set ID," both October 1, below] - it has been vexing me for some time. With the help of some curious collectors I am in the process of getting this material analysed for its chemical composition. The lack of a reaction to the bubbles test plus the hardness and engraving quality of the material points to it being a casein derivative. But that is only a qualitative judgement. Hopefully a chemical analysis will give us a quantitative one.
    >
    >The bird on the number 1 'Bamboo' in Janet's picture could be a pheasant. Sometimes a Phoenix is used but that has a very conventionalised distinctive tail when drawn or carved.
    >
    >The standing 'Peacock' on one leg was very prevalent in the 1950's - 60's in small tile sets that came out of Hong Kong and Singapore and occasionally Shanghai. I was surprised to see one in a 'casein' set. I own many 'casein' type sets and all come in leather attaché style cases, all hand stitched etc. Of the hand written documentation or shipping info, these cases were usually prevalent in the 1930's and probably, IMO, up until the 2nd World War. A few attaché style cases also came with bone and bamboo sets in them. So, so far we can at least say that the standing 'Peacock' most likely appeared in the 1930's at the earliest.
    >
    >There is a crouching 'Peacock' type bird seen in many sets from the early 1920's. Japanese researchers, and myself included, think this is a coin-carrying bird, with the coins in a basket on its back. This is in accord with the money origin of the three suits.
    >
    >I have many spare tiles but at this point in time am still engaged in constructing my MJ website devoted to the tile set only. However, I have a couple of contacts who might be able to help. If you would like Janet to email me I will see if I can help.
    >
    >[Also], based on my experience of these sets, Janet's White 'Dragon' and Flower tile in the picture are not machine carved/engraved. They are all done by hand with very skilful precision.
    >Regards
    >Michael

    Hi, Michael. Glad to hear from you:

    As to this tile material question [Janet F, "Unsure how to describe the material," and Dean H, "Set ID," both October 1, below] - it has been vexing me for some time.
    Yes, me too. You and I have discussed tiles of this material several times before.

    With the help of some curious collectors I am in the process of getting this material analysed for its chemical composition.
    That's an admirable endeavor!

    The standing 'Peacock' on one leg was very prevalent in the 1950's - 60's in small tile sets that came out of Hong Kong and Singapore and occasionally Shanghai. I was surprised to see one in a 'casein' set... So, so far we can at least say that the standing 'Peacock' most likely appeared in the 1930's at the earliest.
    That's some good information there.

    There is a crouching 'Peacock' type bird seen in many sets from the early 1920's. Japanese researchers, and myself included, think this is a coin-carrying bird, with the coins in a basket on its back. This is in accord with the money origin of the three suits.
    I find that particularly interesting.

    May the tiles be with you. Cheers,
    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
    October 4, 2012


    She had a "change of heart" - is that legal?

    >From: " Ellenn
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 8:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > In our game tonight, somebody said 8 but never said the suit, and changed her mind and threw another tile instead. Some of us said she could do that because the tile was not put on the table. Others said she must throw that tile. Which is correct? Thank you for your attention to this matter.
    > Ellenn

    Hi, Ellenn.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19A. Also read FAQ 19AM.3 (the third "change of heart" rule).
    Those two FAQs tell you when it's too late to take it back. It should go without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that up until the moment when it's too late, the play can be taken back.
    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
    October 2, 2012


    Unsure how to describe, part 3

    >From: janet f
    >Sent: Monday, October 1, 2012 7:55 PM
    >Subject: Re: Unknown Mah Jongg tile
    >By the way...............I read the 6/24/10 Bulletin Board post from Michael Stanwick in which he said "I saw a standing one-legged 'Peacock' bird in a casein set but that was in an 'attache-style case' This is exactly what I have! Would it be possible for you to send him a copy of my email to you in case he has an idea where I can purchase 4 tiles that could complete my set? I would appreciate it if you could.
    >Janet

    Hi, Janet.
    It is always awkward and uncomfortable for me when someone asks me to put them in touch with other posters. Michael occasionally comes and reads posts here. If he sees your post and surprisingly does have the info you seek, he'll surely tell me.

    I probably have a set of tiles like yours in my collection (whether in that style of case or not). But I don't know where you can get tiles, beyond the resources on the Tiles Wanted and Tiles For Sale boards. Just because someone saw a set of tiles like yours doesn't mean s/he can tell you where to buy loose tiles to match.
    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
    October 1, 2012


    Unsure how to describe, part 2

    >From: janet f
    >Sent: Monday, October 1, 2012 11:09 AM
    >Subject: Re: Unknown Mah Jongg tile
    >Thanks, Tom! No, no harm was done to the tile from the "scrubbing bubbles test." (By the way, my Scrubbing Bubbles are made by Fantastik, an S.C. Johnson product, not Dow.) I would be happy to make a donation if you tell me where to send it.

    Hi again, Janet. You wrote:

    No, no harm was done to the tile from the "scrubbing bubbles test." (By the way, my Scrubbing Bubbles are made by Fantastik, an S.C. Johnson product, not Dow.)
    I'm glad no harm was done. I don't know the chemistry involved in this test, and I don't know if the Dow product has a chemical in it that other products don't. Again, I may need to excise that particular advice from the FAQ. Either that, or try performing the test myself to see how it works.

    I would be happy to make a donation if you tell me where to send it.
    That would be most kind of you. I am set up to accept donations via this link.
    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
    October 1, 2012


    Set ID

    >From: "deanh
    >Sent: Monday, October 1, 2012 12:38 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong set ID
    >Hi, Tom
    >We bought this set a few weeks ago. It came with 8 flowers and 4 blanks (and about 16 flowers in sizes that don't match). I'd like to identify it, so it will be easier to look for matching tiles I can "joker-ize".
    >Tiles are 1-3/16 x 7/8 x 33/64 (1-3/16 high, 7/8 wide, 33/64 thick. Yes, I measured that 32 tiles were 16-1/2 inches thick.)
    >I can't find a match from any of your "Tiles for sale" links. The 1 bamboo looks like HCB-003 from mahjongtiles.com but the rest of the tiles aren't the same, and mine doesn't have the red wafer.
    >Do you know, or can you guess, the age, manufacturer, material (looks like bakelite to us), or anything else that will help us describe it?
    >Thanks,
    >Dean H

    Hi, Dean. You asked:

    the age
    You didn't give me a complete breakdown of the set, but the main clue I have is what you said about the number of flowers the set came with. See column 311. Clearly the set was used to play American mah-jongg, since a previous owner added extra mismatched flowers (a common practice in the early NMJL years). Set was probably made in the thirties or early forties, I'm guessing.

    manufacturer
    I don't know thing one about manufacturers. You know more about them than I do. I don't even know if it was American-made. Manufacturers ain't my thing.

    material (looks like bakelite to us)
    See what I told Janet this morning (below). Your tiles look to me to be the same as her tiles.

    or anything else that will help us describe it?
    See what I told Janet this morning.
    May the tiles be with you. Literally.
    Tom Sloper

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


    Unsure how to describe the material

    >From: janet f
    >Sent: Monday, October 1, 2012 10:10 AM
    >Subject: Unknown Mah Jongg tile
    >Hello Tom,
    >I am a Mah-Jongg instructor who is very appreciative of all the work you've put into your web site and refer students to it frequently. I do have a mystery I hope you can help me solve, though. I have searched your web site, its links and other similar sites but cannot identify these tiles from a set I've recently acquired. They look like Bakelite but do not pass the "scrubbing bubbles test." They have rounded edges but are not shiny like my other Bakelite sets. They measure 28/32 x 1 5/32 x 18/32 and the 7 dots are distinctive in that the upper row of three dots slants down from upper left to lower right instead of the more common opposite way. The bird on the 1 Bam looks similar to those under "Eastern Distributors" on Matthew Shim's web site but the 7 Dots are not the same. The carving on each of the 8 flowers and the White Dragons looks machine made with thin strokes but is unlike any other set I've seen. The NMJL cannot match them and I would like to find more so I can replace the 4 missing tiles in the set but I am unsure how to describe the material they are made from. Any ideas? I would very much appreciate your expert opinion.
    >Sincerely,
    >Janet F (Milwaukee)
    >--
    >Janet
    >Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
    >……Ghandi

    Hi, Janet. You wrote:

    They look like Bakelite but do not pass the "scrubbing bubbles test."
    They don't look like Bakelite to me (none of the characteristic glossy quasi-translucence). And I really need to edit that FAQ to remove tests that can potentially harm tiles. Was any harm done to a tile by doing that test?

    The NMJL cannot match them and I would like to find more so I can replace the 4 missing tiles in the set but I am unsure how to describe the material they are made from.
    I suspect that they're casein, which is described in FAQ 7C. But you only need to say that they're yellow plastic, non-glossy, and send a picture to the person you're trying to get replacement tiles from. It looks like it's going to be a very long search. Good luck to you.

    May the tiles be with you. Seriously.
    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
    October 1, 2012


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