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1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
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  3b. 1920s Books
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  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
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  • Expensive set on eBay

    > From: Bill M
    > Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2013 11:15 AM
    > Subject: Boxed Shanghai Set
    > Hi Tom;
    > I have what may be a typical 1920’s Shanghai export set as described below. I’ve seen an identical set on EBay
    > (paladinshop) for $925, which I guess is outrageous. Can you provide an approximate valuation?
    > Description (after studying your site):
    > Acquired From a grandfather (1885-1960) in New York.
    > A 1920's set, slide-top wood box with engraved dragon & 2 tiles.
    > Tiles are bamboo & bone, engraved characters, small American size 29 x 20 x 11 cm.
    > Tiles count 148: basic 136 (4 white dragons are blanks, as in a Chinese set) + 8 flowers + 4 blanks.
    > i.e. it's a standard Chinese set with 4 blanks added, with tiles numbered for export.
    > Chung & Fa dragons, red 8-dots. 1-BAM is the Shanghai Peacock.
    > All bone counter sticks, bone dice & special items. Also a green box with 4 Parker Bros. racks (1 red/3 grn),
    > probably also 1920/30s, and red rules cards dist by John Samuels NY, © 1923.
    > I’d like to sell it to a local player, and I don’t want to ask too much.
    > Thanks
    > Bill M
    > Santa Fe New Mexico

    Hi, Bill. You wrote:

    $925, which I guess is outrageous.
    If the tiles are not made of high-quality ivory, that would certainly be an excessively high price.

    Can you provide an approximate valuation?
    I'm not going on eBay to search out this high-priced set you mentioned. I do not know if the photos you sent are of your own set or the one on eBay. And you did not tell me the condition of your set, as required by FAQ 7H. But to cut this short, a very high-quality set of small tiles with all the parts you mention, in excellent condition, could go for around $100.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 31, 2013


    An MJ font that numbers the cracks

    > From: stephani l
    > Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 4:50 PM
    > Subject: Mah Jongg Font?
    > Hi Tom,
    > Somewhere on your site I think I read that you downloaded your nifty MJ font on the internet. I've been sleuthing around and can't find an MJ font that numbers the cracks. I guess the ones I've seen are for Chinese readers.
    > If you can remember, would you mind sharing where you found yours?
    > Thank you!
    > Stephani
    > BTW I just ordered your book from Amazon. I can't wait for it to come.

    Hi Stef, you wrote:

    If you can remember, would you mind sharing where you found yours?
    The link to it is in FAQ 5.

    I've been sleuthing around and can't find an MJ font that numbers the cracks....where you found yours?
    I downloaded that Japanese font, then I downloaded a font editing tool, and I added the indices and created the American joker. You can have the modified font that I use on this site and in my book. Go to http://sloperama.com/downlode/ and look in the "mahjongg" folder.

    I just ordered your book from Amazon. I can't wait for it to come.
    I can't wait for you to get it!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2013


    I believe that my set, part 3

    >From: megan t...
    >Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 6:00 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >This is the other set that I had mentioned in my last email.
    >Megan T...

    Okay. To revisit the questions you asked me before, now that I see your pictures, you asked:

    I have what appears to be a home made set that my great grandfather brought back from china. Are they worth anything?
    I told you before: "I cannot tell you that unless you send me detailed information as outlined in FAQ 7H." Please read the FAQ and give me the information I need. It looks like your tiles are contained in a cardboard box, with an airplane on the top? Are you showing me all the pieces (except the box)? What is the honest condition of all the parts (including the box and manual and dice and everything)?

    I believe they are much older than 1920.
    Really. I wonder what evidence you have to support that theory. Please read FAQ 7G.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2013


    I believe that my set is much older, part 2

    > From: megan t...
    > Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 5:23 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Thank you for the quick response. Here are some pictures, please feel free to post them if you like. I am just wondering what I am looking at, it doesn't look like a mahjongg set that I have ever seen, any insight.
    > They belonged to my great, great grandfather who said that he got them when he was overseas.
    > Megan T...
    > meganp[...
    > P.S. I also have another set, complete and looks more like the kind of set that I have seen before. I will send those pictures in just a minute in a seperate email.

    Hello again, Megan. You wrote:

    I am just wondering what I am looking at, it doesn't look like a mahjongg set that I have ever seen
    You are looking at scoring sticks and wind indicators. Please read 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 ). The FAQs contain answers to all of the frequently asked questions about mah-jongg. Please always check the FAQs before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 30, 2013


    I believe that my set is much older than 1920

    > From: Megan T
    > Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 8:50 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I have what appears to be a home made set that my great grandfather brought back from china. Are they worth anything? I believe they are much older than 1920.
    > Could you please email me?
    > Megan T

    Hi, Megan. Welcome to my website. You wrote:

    I have what appears to be a home made set that my great grandfather brought back from china. Are they worth anything?
    I cannot tell you that unless you send me detailed information as outlined in 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 believe they are much older than 1920.
    Really. I wonder what evidence you have to support that theory. I recommend you read FAQ 7G.

    Could you please email me?
    Sure. I always email first-timers to let them know that their questions have been answered here on this bulletin board. If you want a private appraisal of your mah-jongg set (if that's why you're asking for a private email from me), I'm sorry, but you'll have to pay me to do that (and the chances are good that the appraisal will cost more than the set is worth). I'm happy to give you a free appraisal right here on the board, but I'll need information and pictures like it says in FAQ 7H. And if you want information about your set's age, I'll need info and pictures like it says in FAQ 7G. Scroll down, and you'll see that I answer a lot of questions about people's sets.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 29, 2013


    How does the Charleston work? (FAQ 19AG) What does "stealing" mean? (Column 353)

    > From: stephani l
    > Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 5:05 PM
    > Subject: Question
    > Hi Tom,
    > I was noodling around on Linda Fisher's site today and found this on her "Rules" page:
    >> A player is permitted to STEAL one, two or three tiles on the last pass of each Charleston. For example, if a player only has one tile she wishes to pass, she may take two tiles which are passed to her and add her one tile and pass them to the next player. A player may only "steal" a tile on the FIRST LEFT and LAST RIGHT.
    > I don't understand this at all. It seems to describe any pass during the Charleston. Why use the word 'steal'? Am I missing something?
    > Thank you,
    > Stef

    Hi, Stef. You wrote:

    "...on the last pass of each Charleston..." ... seems to describe any pass during the Charleston.
    I disagree. "Last pass" certainly doesn't equate with "any pass." If you're confused about how the Charleston works, please read Frequently Asked Question 19AG. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    Why use the word 'steal'?
    Although I smile upon Linda Fisher's teaching, I frown upon her use of this terminology. Please read column 353 (you can click the purple banner atop this bulletin board to get to the columns). (Oh wait, you already know about the columns. Oh well, I already typed that.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 27, 2013


    Counterclockwise, clockwise? I'm so confused! (FAQ 19Q)

    > From: KJ N.
    > Cc: Mindy B
    > Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:57 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hi Tom-
    > Thank you for managing such a fabulous site!
    > I am a new learner and had a question about "Breaking the Wall". In Elaine Sandberg's book in which you wrote the forward, it states that breaking the wall moves in a clockwise manner- East first, then the person to East's left. Is that "standard"?
    > And then the actual Play is counter-clockwise, correct?
    > Thanks!
    > KJ N.
    > Folsom Ca
    > PS- I cc'd Mindy, my patient and kind mahj mentor, as we both had the same question :)

    Hi KJ and Mindy,
    Someone else asked about serving the wall last April. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of this page and click the "go back" finger, then look for "Some verbiage commentary, I mean some words about your wording" (April 7), you'll see what I told Mary E. But you probably don't really need to see her question (she's asking about words in my book, rather than Elaine's book). Maybe these pictures will help.

    I've now added those "serving" images to Frequently Asked Question 19Q (the FAQ links are above left).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 27, 2013


    Column 576, part 2

    > From: stephani l
    > Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 6:10 PM
    > Subject: Re: Q. about this week's strategy column
    > Ahh so!
    > Thank you. Good to know what you mean by 'go dead.'
    > S.


    Column 576

    > From: stephani
    > Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 3:31 PM
    > Subject: Q. about this week's strategy column
    > Hello Tom,
    > I'm a new player and find your website super valuable. Lots of pondering.
    > Q. on #3 from this week's column #576
    > You say if a 6C or F go dead, call her dead.
    > Aren't there 4 6Cs and 8 Fs in a set? Couldn't she miss a few and still have a chance to MJ?
    > Thank you for clearing this up.
    > Stephani

    Hi, Stephani.
    I usually cringe a little when I see that I've received an email about the column -- it usually means I've made a mistake that I need to correct (and to do so without looking too much a fool). What a relief to, instead, have an opportunity for a "teaching moment"! Thanks!

    In problem #3 in this week's column, an opponent is showing a pung of Three Craks and a kong of Reds. Clearly she's making 369 #1, so she needs a pair of F, a pair of 6C, and a pung of 9C. The pairs are crucial.

    Yes, there are four 6Cs in the set. That doesn't mean she has two of them. When you have determined what hand an opponent is making, and there are pairs in that hand, you can scan the table and look for the tiles she needs. If you see three 6Cs (maybe a pung of them atop someone else's rack, or maybe they've been discarded), there is no way she can complete her hand because jokers can never be used in a pair.

    And yes, there are eight Fs in the set. But what if another player has exposed a flower kong, and you can see three discarded flowers? Then the lady with threes and reds is dead. Because jokers can never be used in a pair.

    That's what it means when I say "Watch to see if 6C or F go dead (if either of those key tiles goes dead, you can call her dead)."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2013


    My ten-session course structure

    > From: Lynn M
    > Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 8:05 AM
    > Subject: My class outline
    > Hello Tom & fellow MJ teachers-
    >I'm getting ready to teach American mah jongg again this fall and was reviewing your FAQ #26 about teaching. I saw Mary E's comment about 10 sessions seeming like more than necessary. The senior learning center at which I teach has 10-week semesters, so I teach ten 2-hour classes. There's a LOT of time for just playing (with support from me) in the last several weeks, and the class becomes more like a mah jongg group, which is fun for everyone. I have hand-outs for every class except the last one, including quizzes that we use for review at the next session.
    >For anyone who would like more info about the lessons, here's my class topic schedule:
    > Class 1
    > Introduction & brief history of MJ
    > Identifying tiles (using techniques you have described for hands-on learning)
    > Building & breaking the wall
    > The deal
    > Calling a tile
    > Using jokers
    > Simple play (four pungs and a pair or three kongs and a pair)
    > Class 2
    > Review questions re: stuff learned in class 1
    > Simple play as in class one, but adding the twist that all groups in your hand must
    > be related in some way:
    > all even
    > all odd
    > all one suit
    > three suits all used
    > all one number
    > plus flowers, winds, dragons
    > During play, teach about redeeming jokers
    > Class 3
    > Review questions re: last session
    > Pairs, pungs, kongs, quints, sextets
    > Simple play as in class two, but adding a couple other twists:
    > Name all exposures, using the proper vocabulary (pung, kong, etc.)
    > Add the Charleston
    > Class 4
    > Review questions re: last session
    > Deciphering the NMJL card
    > Play with one table of four (others watch) and exposed hands
    > Class 5
    > Review questions re: last session
    > MJ resources (books, websites, etc.)
    > Tips for buying a MJ set (and students bring their sets to show)
    > Selecting possible hands
    > Play with one table of four (others watch) and exposed hands
    > Class 6
    > Review questions re: last session
    > MJ etiquette
    > Play (with exposed hands or not, depending on comfort of students)
    >Class 7
    > Review questions re: last session
    > Bring volunteers from my MJ group to play with the students
    > (this is a bald-faced attempt at recruitment)
    > Class 8
    > Review questions re: last session
    > Scoring and betting
    > Play with concealed hands and support from teacher
    > Class 9
    > Review questions re: last session
    > Strategy
    > Forming a MJ group
    > Playing with other than 4 players
    > MJ in error
    > Play
    > Class 10
    > MJ tournament with prizes

    Thanks for sharing, Lynn!


    When a player says "wait"

    > From: Lynn M
    > Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 7:02 AM
    > Subject: Question about calling a discard
    > Hello—
    > Here’s the situation: I was going for the 5th consecutive run hand on the 2013 NMJL card (FF 1111 2222 3333 in 3 suits). I’m going for the hand with 4-craks, 5-bams and 6-dots. It’s fairly early in the game and no one has exposed any tiles on their rack yet. I have two 6-dots and a few jokers in my hand. My plan is, if anyone discards 6-dots, to let the first one go by and call the second one (to prevent anyone from being able to redeem my joker, and also to avoid giving info about my hand too early, and to possibly pick it myself). The player across from me discards a 6-dot. I’m planning to let it go, but the player to my right says, "wait" and is thinking about whether she really wants to call it or not. Knowing that she wants it makes me realize that I’ll probably have to use two jokers in my kong of 6-dots, so now I’m thinking I want it. I know that if we had both called it when it was discarded, that I would get it, since we both want it for an exposure and I’m next in the order of play. But is it okay for me to call it several moments after the player to my right called it? (She is still thinking). I ended up NOT calling it, since I wasn’t sure of the rule, and I redeemed the joker she exposed (in her pung of 6-dots) and went instead for 3-dots. But we’ve been wondering what the rule on this is ever since it happened. Also, if she had said, "no, I don’t want it," would I have been allowed to then call it as long as the player to my left hadn’t picked and racked her next tile?
    > Thanks!
    > Lynn M

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    My plan is, if anyone discards 6-dots, to let the first one go by and call the second one (to prevent anyone from being able to redeem my joker, and also to avoid giving info about my hand too early, and to possibly pick it myself).
    A sound and reasonable plan.

    I’m planning to let it go, but the player to my right says, "wait"
    Grrr! I hate "wait." Only in American mah-jongg (not in ANY of the dozens of other variants of mah-jongg) do players habitually allow for indecisiveness that interrupts the game for an indeterminate period of time. When playing American mah-jongg, I do as the American players do; I wait. But if the wait goes on too long, I say something.

    is it okay for me to call it several moments after the player to my right called it? (She is still thinking).
    It's rude of a player to say "wait" and then spend more than, say, six seconds "thinking." She's disrupting the entire game with her indecisiveness. I have found myself in this exact situation myself. I can tell you without shame, that I have made her decision for her by calling the tile and ending her rude indecision. It doesn't make her happy, but she gave me a longer time to make my decision than I would normally take, so she did it to herself by not deciding faster.

    Also, if she had said, "no, I don’t want it," would I have been allowed to then call it as long as the player to my left hadn’t picked and racked her next tile?
    Yes, but you would be guilty of disharmony if you'd let it go on for more than six seconds, because once she said "no," the group is breathing a sigh of relief and expecting the game to go on without further shifts in the play order. Better to claim before she reaches her lengthy decision.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2013


    Column 576

    > From: Judy A
    > Sent: Sunday, August 25, 2013 7:56 PM
    > Subject: Mahjongg No. # 576
    > Love your columns. You are just too funny with your answers on numbers nine and fifteen. What is " R " on answer nine ? why is " soap " hot on answer fifteen ? Is it because the Red Dragons are taken already ? Thanks, Judy Ankuta

    Sharp eyes, Judy!

    Oopsie! That should not mention Red Dragon, just 6D.

    That's a cut-and-paste sloppiness on my part. It should say "and 4C is also hot."

    Both are fixed now, thanks to you! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 25, 2013


    Can you tell me what I have here?

    >From: Rick P
    >Sent: Saturday, August 24, 2013 3:59 PM
    >Subject: MAH JOHNG SET
    > Tom,
    > Besides a mah johng set can you tell me what I have here? If you need more pictures let me know, not worried about a price but being a historian I am interested in the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the set. The box does not match up to any I have seen so I was thinking it might be custom box. In a couple of the pictures you can see the cloth detail. Any help you can provided would be most excellent. Thank you for your time.
    > /R
    > Rick Pitts
    > 1. Write a factual detailed list of all the contents of your set. Describe all the contents, listing all dice, chips, racks, etc. If you do not know what to call the pieces, see our FAQ 7d.
    > Reply: Box, leather formed around a light wood structure, has loop holes for what might have been for straps to secure box for travel, straps missing, front brass lockable hinge, interior of box to include trays has same feel as outside box interior and tray interior lined with cloth. One picture shows the leather pulled off of a corner of the box exposing the wood underneath. The outside leather is heavily aged.
    > 2. If the set contains any paper materials, like an instruction booklet or scoring card, write the title, author's name (if any), and date (if any) of those materials.
    > Reply: No game play sheet.
    > 3. What are the tiles made of?
    > Reply: Bone on bamboo
    > 4. Describe what you know about when the set was made or purchased, if you know. Describe the history of the set to the best of your knowledge. See our FAQ 11 before you make any unsupportable claims (such as "this set is over a hundred years old!" or "this set is from the Qing Dynasty!"); the knowledgeable collectors can see through claims that are ignorant of the actual history of the game.
    > Reply: My mom and dad picked it up at a garage sale in in 1985(?).
    > 5. What are the dimensions of the tiles? Use either inches or metric (one or the other, not both - doesn't matter which; just be precise). Height, width, depth. If the tiles are bone & bamboo, give thickness of the bone portion. (Same goes for ivory & bamboo tiles.)
    > Reply: 1 1/8" L X 7/8" wide X 1/2" high (+/- 1/16"). Bone between 1/8" to 3/16" thick, bamboo 5/16" thick, bamboo portion has a slight bowing on the bottom side, the tiles actually rock when placed down on the bamboo side.
    > 6. How many tiles are there in the set? Your best bet is to lay out the tiles on a table in 4 rows of identical tiles (as is done in our FAQ 7a), then you can just multiply and arrive at the number. And take a picture while you're at it. Tell potential buyers or appraisers an exact breakdown (you can't just say "all the tiles" or "it's complete" or "148 tiles" or "156 tiles" - you have to break it down. How many flowers, how many jokers, and are the basic 136 - suits, winds, dragons - all present?).
    > Reply: Total 136 tiles, plus for ordinary dice. 36 Circles (a 1 - Circle is missing a blank is filling in for it). 36 Bamboo the number 1 bamboo is a peacock with a tail of nine circles, four circles atop five circles. 36 characters, 4 each winds for 16 total, one south wind has a crack in the upper right corner of the bone. 4 green dragons, 4 red dragons, 4 blanks.
    > 7. What kind of container does the set come in? If it's wood, is it one of those flat boxes with a sliding top, or is it one of those squarish boxes with drawers, and if so how many drawers? Does the container have any clear signs of age?
    > Reply: See question one as well, four trays stacked in box measuring 10" X 7" X 4". Tray s 9 1/2" X 6 1/2" X 3/4". Top of box opens up on two hinges and then the front panel folds down allowing the four trays to be pulled out of the box.
    > 8. Which kind of craks are in this set -- the older kind or the later kind? Take a picture to provide to the appraiser.
    > 9. Provide a picture of the One Bams. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which part of China the set came from.
    > 10. Provide a picture of the dragons too. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which era of mah-jongg history the set came from.
    > 11. And provide a picture of the flowers/seasons. These tiles are sometimes exotic and can provide information about the age of a set. And you need to tell me how many flowers/seasons there are. Note: You can just call them all "flowers," I don't care how many of them are "seasons" vs. "flowers" (seasons = flowers - they're the same thing, functionally. I just need a number). This is especially important for American-style sets, since the NMJL required differing amounts of flowers and jokers for a number of years.
    > Reply: No flowers or season.
    > 12. How many jokers (if any) does the set have? Are the jokers manufactured, with the design carved or embossed into the surface - or are they stickered? If there are stickers, do they appear old and worn, are they coming detached? If the set has jokers, and if the jokers are manufactured/carved/embossed (not stickered), then count how many natural (not stickered, and not nail-polished) jokers the set contains (and how many flowers it contains). Then read column #311 and see if you can figure out when the set was made.
    > Reply: No jokers, blanks only.

    Hi, Rick. The questions you asked me are:

    I am interested in the who,
    Some unknown Chinese person or persons.

    what,
    You already know it's a mah-jongg set.

    where,
    Made in China. The tiles were probably made in Shanghai or thereabouts.

    when,
    That's a tough one. The tiles look like typical 1920s tiles, but they might have been made in the thirties or even later. The box is unusual, and that might indicate that the box was not the original box for those tiles, or that the set was packaged in that box to fool buyers into thinking it's an antique. A lot of artificially-aged sets are put into old-looking boxes. But it's possible that your box goes back to the twenties.

    why,
    It's a product for sale in territories outside of China. I can tell because it has Arabic numerals inscribed on the tiles. Oddly, the flowers and extra blanks normally included in 1920s sets are not present, which casts doubt on the set's age. Many Chinese players don't use flowers, so it's possible the set was used in play in China before being shipped to the West. Or perhaps its American owner simply gave the flowers and blanks to someone else (to augment the other person's set, enabling play of American mah-jongg which needed many flowers at one time).

    and how of the set.
    The tiles were carved by hand.

    I hope I didn't miss any questions you asked in your email. If you have any other questions, you're welcome to ask them. I might possibly need larger clearer photos (the photos you sent me are tiny, very much like the photos often seen on eBay).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 24, 2013


    Is this "Progressive Mah Jong" the same thing as American mah-jongg?

    > From: "pelkin
    > Sent: Friday, August 23, 2013 3:24 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hi,
    > I have this card in an old set that I bought. It says “Progressive Mah Jong Score” and a large 1 on the front. On the back is perfect system for progressive mah jong and copyrighted 1924.Patent applied for.
    > I goggled it with no luck. Is this just another name for American Mah Jongg?
    > Thanks,
    > Pam Elkin

    Hi, Pam.
    1924 was the year the mah-jongg craze of the 1920s came to a head. The game that was popular in those days was Chinese Classical, and every author had to give it a new name to distinguish their products from dozens of other products. The modern American game didn't exist until 1937. If you're interested in knowing more about the history of mah-jongg, read Frequently Asked Question 11. 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're interested in learning more about Chinese Classical, read FAQ 2b, and you can find books in FAQ 3, and you can find websites in FAQ 4b.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 23, 2013


    Mistakenly took wrong discard

    > From: joAnn m
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 10:12 AM
    > Subject: Question
    > I looked hard but cannot find an answer to this. Assume tournament.
    > Player A discards a six crack. Player B calls it. She picks it up and places it on her rack. Player B realizes an eight crack was needed and realizes she can't do anything with the six crack. What does she do? What if the next player in turn wants it too?
    > Thanks
    > joAnn

    Hi, joAnn. You wrote:

    Player B realizes an eight crack was needed and realizes she can't do anything with the six crack. What does she do?
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19AM (2). Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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.

    What if the next player in turn wants it too?
    It depends. You said "assume tournament." So, if she was called dead, then the tile remains in her hand (concealed on the sloping front of her rack), and the other player can't have it. If you're in a home game, though, and/or if she was permitted to put the tile back on the discard floor, then the other player can have it.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 21, 2013


    Hong Kong rules

    > From: PhamKimThuy P
    > Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 11:12 PM
    > Subject: Hong Kong Mahjong's question
    > Dear Sir,
    > I have 2 questions on Hong Kong mahjong :
    > 1./ If I had a pair of South :
    > a./ The player on my left, discard the South, I did not pung.
    > b./ I drew a tile from the wall, and discarded a tile.
    > c./ The player on my right, discard the South, can I pung on that last South ?
    > If I could not, is that a table rule ?
    > 2./ If a hand had all chows, no flower, self drawn.
    > Is it 3 fan , will get 16 + 16 + 16 = 48 chips ?
    > Thanks in advance for your help.
    > pkthuy

    Hi, PKThuy.

    Yes, you can, because between the two Souths, you had picked and discarded. Amy Lo, page 28: if the second South had gone out in the same go-around (without you having played a turn in between), then you would not be permitted to claim the second one after passing up the first. Interestingly, someone else asked this just last week (Lynne C, August 15) - but she was asking about American mah-jongg, not HKOS.

    Yes, it's 3 fan, but only if your group has already agreed (i) to use flowers (see Amy Lo, page 49.), and (ii) that having no flowers is worth 1 fan, and also if (iii) your all-chows hand has a valueless pair (no dragon pair; no seat wind or round wind pair - see FAQ 17).
    Yes, if in your group's game, non-winners pay 1 chip per point to the winner. See Amy Lo, page 44.

    For information about Amy Lo's book, see Frequently Asked Question 3. And for information about Hong Kong rules, see Frequently Asked Question 17. 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 the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 21, 2013


    "All Fives," part 2

    >From: Charles O
    >Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 11:25 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom,
    >Thank you for you quick response. :-)
    >That will teach me to stop not-looking at the pictures. D'oh.
    > Charles


    Our group in Australia

    > From: Graeme B
    > Sent: Sunday, August 18, 2013 10:38 PM
    > Subject: New interest group Mahjongging in Australia
    > Hi Tom
    > Great and useful site and FAQ's.
    > We've just started a Mahjongg group within our local Probus club (PROfessional BUSiness retirees)
    > in Mernda, about 60kms NE of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
    > I have played socially for a few years but a while ago and had lost our set, rules, instructions etc
    > when we were caught up in a bushfire in 2009.
    > As well as a standard tile set, we had a set of Mhing, a 1982 produced card version by a Mr Sun.
    > This had a great set of "hand" cards, similar to the American yearly card, but but a load simpler and
    > invariable, not this change each year stuff! and a well designed, i.e. easy-to-use, score pad .
    > It was great to play again but now that I have found "Slope'sville" I'm relieved that there is a
    > standard set of rules, ideas available to us all.
    > graeme B

    Hi, Graeme.
    I'm glad you have started enjoying mah-jongg again and that you appreciate the work that I do here. Thanks for writing.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 19, 2013


    They're forcing me to play for money

    > From: Jean D
    > Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 6:22 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > My MahJongg group is forcing us who don't want to play for money to play for money. One of the ladies said they are only following the American Mahjongg rules, and the rules state that you must play for money. Is she right? This issue has really caused a split in our group.
    > Jean

    Hi, Jean.
    You should tell that lady to read the bottom of page 21 of the official rulebook. Although the term "pay" is used in several places throughout the rulebook, the terms "money" and "cents" do not occur anywhere in the book. Rather, the term used in the book is "points," and the book describes the use of chips and never mentions coins.

    Here on my site and in my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," I use the term "cents" because it is the standard practice for players of American mah-jongg to play for coins. "Standard practice" is not the same thing as a hard and fast "rule." Read FAQ 14 (there's a link above left); when you're playing with a group who uses a practice, and you are playing at someone else's home, you have to play their way. You can try instituting a "no money" rule when the group plays at your home, but don't spring that on them without prior notice; read FAQ 9, my philosophy of harmonious play.

    If you do not want to play for money, you probably need to quit that group and find a group of like-minded players. See FAQ 15 and the Find Players bulletin board (links are above left).

    And here I go yet again: every player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 19, 2013


    Why does "All Fives" exist?

    > From: Charles O
    > Sent: Sunday, August 18, 2013 3:55 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Mr. Sloper,
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I have been going through the rules for Chinese Official Mahjong in your book "The Red Dragon & The West Wind" (which I have found very much worth purchasing - thank you) and have found a situation that confuses me.
    > Why does the "All Fives" (fan #31) exist?
    > If you have "All Fives" don't you also have the higher scoring "Middle Tiles" (fan #26)?
    > I cannot determine a situation where you can have "All Fives" but not have "Middle Tiles".
    > It seems to me that combining the scores somehow violates the "Prohibition Against Implied Inclusions" (although it works backwards - the lower scoring pattern requires making the higher scoring pattern).
    > I can think of a few situations where you can have "Middle Tiles" but not "All Fives", but it seems odd to be to punish someone for producing a less likely pattern (e.g., three 4-pungs + one 6-pung and a pair of 6's).
    > Thank you for any clarity you can give me on this issue.
    > Sincerely,
    > Charles O

    Hi, Charles (I hope you don't mind me calling you by your first name; I try to omit last names of correspondents unless they've previously indicated no objection).
    I wrote on page 16 a little about the origin of the official Chinese rules. I wasn't involved in the process. So I can't necessarily give you justification for why any of the rules were formulated. I can only guess at the logic. You asked:

    If you have "All Fives" don't you also have the higher scoring "Middle Tiles" (fan #26)?
    Not necessarily.

    I cannot determine a situation where you can have "All Fives" but not have "Middle Tiles".
    See the example on page 182. There are a three and a seven in that example. Three and seven are outside the realm of Middle Tiles.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2013


    Two questions

    > From: irene z
    > Sent: Friday, August 16, 2013 3:07 PM
    > Subject: 2 quick questions
    > Hi Tom,
    > Question1. When you play 4 handed Mah Jongg and if nobody wins everyone puts money into the pushkey (25¢). Now with 5 handed Mah Jongg do all 5 players put into the pushkey if nobody wins? Reason I ask is there is always 1 person sitting out and they don't have the chance to win? Do you have any thoughts on this? Should a table rule be agreed upon (like if 5 handed there are no puskeys)
    > Question 2. During the blind pass one player look at the tile before passing it to the next player?
    > Is there a penalty for this?
    > thanks,
    > Irene

    Hi, Irene. You asked:

    Should a table rule be agreed upon
    You haven't read Frequently Asked Question 14 yet? Please go read it now. You know where the FAQs are.

    Is there a penalty for peeking at the blind pass?
    If someone does that at a tournament, she'd be called dead. I'd call that a penalty. But before you call her dead for doing that again, you should discuss it with the whole group, and see if the group agrees that it should be death. (If the majority agrees and she doesn't, and you're not playing at her home, then she's outvoted.) It wouldn't be good karma to just call her dead without warning next time you see her doing that. But if she has fair warning, then you can go for it with my blessing.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 16, 2013


    Rule infraction? Or strategy?

    > From: Lynne C
    > Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2013 3:54 PM
    > Subject: rule infraction or strategy?
    > Ladies in my group thought they read something about this situation but we can't find it...
    > In the course of play and within one round of turns, player A puts down (for ex.) a green dragon. No one takes it. Player B puts down a green dragon (thinking it is safe to do so, since no one called Player A's green dragon). Player C calls for it. Is Player C penalized in some way or is it just player's C strategy to call the second green dragon thereby denying Player B the chance to possibly take a joker from Player C's exposure of dragons. Could it be that Player C was just slow to call the first green dragon?
    > Thank you
    > Lynne

    Hi, Lynne. You asked:

    Is Player C penalized in some way
    Why? What makes you think there should be a penalty for that? I don't understand your rationale. I do not see any reason to penalize calling for the second discard after passing up the first. (Note: in Japanese mah-jongg, though, it is not permitted to call the second-in-a-row discard of same tile. There's no penalty; it's simply not allowed.)

    is it just player's C strategy to call the second green dragon thereby denying Player B the chance to possibly take a joker
    I don't know. Why don't you ask her?

    Could it be that Player C was just slow to call the first green dragon?
    It often happens that way. "(Oh, darn! I should have called that! Oh wait!) Call!" Also, consider that she may have been undecided when the first one went out, deciding to wait and see how the hand shapes up, but then when the second one goes out, "(Darn it, those tiles are dropping fast! Better grab this one!) Call!"

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 15, 2013


    No idea of its origin

    > From: Josetta S
    > Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2013 10:46 AM
    > Subject: Greetings
    > Hi Tom, A group of us took lessons from u years back. Your method was so right on that a few of us have taught others.
    > I gift many of mu vintage sets to my nieces and nephews when they r engaged.
    > I wanted your opinion on the tri layered "jelly" colored set pictured below as I have no idea of its origin. Any feedback u may have?
    > Thanks , Josetta

    >From: Josetta S
    >Sent: Thursday, August 15, 2013 10:52 AM
    >Subject: Another view
    >Thank you Tom

    Hi, Josetta. Good to hear from you again. I'm glad to hear that your group is spreading the knowledge. You asked:

    I have no idea of its origin.
    In my opinion (read: "guess") it was made in America, due to the choice of colors, the presence of jokers, and the quality of the carving (not as high as the quality of carving seen on Chinese sets). I am not the expert on sets; CHarli is. You might want to check out her site (listed in FAQ 4a). By the way, I had a 3-tone set just like that (with identical carving on the jokers) but with blue backs.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 15, 2013


    FAQ 19P: Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack?

    > From: "minaoct
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 5:48 PM
    > Subject: Dead Hand
    > A player hand is declared dead when she exposed her hand. There are jokers in her dead hand, can the other three players take jokers from her hand as they continue to play?

    Hello, minaoct.
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19P. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 14, 2013


    Does "same" always have to mean the same thing? (part 2)

    > From: margaret l
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 3:13 PM
    > Subject: what does "same" mean
    > we had a situation today playing mah jongg
    > A lady threw an 8 bam.......the next lady threw
    > down an 8 bam but said "same" and I threw
    > an 8 bam and said "same".............is that permissible
    > or do you only use the word "same" for jokers
    > when discarding..........
    > this is what your FAQ says but I am still not clear
    > A3: When discarding a joker, many people say "same." It's encouraged to say "same" because the practice encourages other players to keep their eyes open, not only their ears. You can even just say the name of the previous tile (you don't even have to say "same"). And there is a strategic reason for not just saying "joker" when discarding a joker. An opponent who is foolishly only listening, and not looking, will probably miss the fact that you have discarded a joker, and won't even know it until she happens to see it on the discard floor later. Or when she hears you say "same," she might think you had discarded a joker, and will scan the table looking for it, then might even ask what just happened. Either way, by saying "same," you have taken advantage of some players' bad habits.
    > It used to be permitted to claim the "same" (the named tile, not the joker itself), but that rule was abolished long ago. NOW, when somebody discards a joker and says "same," there is NO claimable discard - ALL the discards on the table are dead: the joker itself, and the previous ("same") tile included.
    > And your book says the same basically...........................thanks marge

    Hi, Marge.
    You asked me this on August 8 and I answered it on August 8. Please scroll down and read the answer I gave you at that time. Or did you have a follow-up question? (Actually, I think what happened is that I neglected to email you after posting the reply, so you would know that the answer had been posted here. My bad.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2013


    Historical evolution of "robbing the kong", part 3

    > From: Leon L
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:33 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > We play settlement amongst players
    > Our version is more a doubling game rather than a go mah Jong game
    > We start with 8300 points and players getting over 10,000 points a session get a TAB up to a maximum of three TABS a night
    > At the end of the year the player with the most Tabs is declared the winner
    > We also keep track of the points and the player with the most points is also awarded a prize
    > The small scores for one chance and winning on self draw are dropped
    > We play with the bonus tiles
    > The game is played exactly like normal Mah Jong
    > We do have several special hands relating to the chance of getting them
    >
    > In answer to your questions on the source of the Robbing the Kong I spoke to the person who introduced me to the version we play
    > He is 89 years old
    > Has played since he was 12 odd
    > Trained by players in china and shanghai
    > Was taught that version by them
    >
    > On the referred sources of Robbing the Kong it can be found in several books where the robbing the kong rule is presented
    > Foster on Mah Jong published in 1924
    > And a book by Bell also makes mention of the same rule
    >
    > The player also told me that he has met several other people who told him that they also play the same way as he does so it seems that this version of Mah Jong has been around for a long time
    >
    > I asked him why the rules as noted in most books say that to Rob a Kong it has to be done on the creation of the Kong
    > He said he had no idea but suspects that it could be that some players felt it was best to get out quickly so the rule was introduced and picked up by other publishers
    >
    > It also could be that some authors were somewhat lazy in checking their facts before publishing the books
    > This is something I can well believe having encountered errors like this before
    > One book gives the rules of Chinese chess
    > Brilliant book with beautiful illustrations but with major flaws in it
    > The author mixes up the movement of the cannon in Chinese chess with that of the cannon in Korean Chess thereby making the book suspect to how many other errors are present
    > This author was not the only one
    > There were others who made the same mistake
    > So the changing of the rule for robbing a kong could also very well be the same problem
    >
    > The case for only robbing the kong in ones own turn does have some merit as Ted said
    > Until the player creating the Kong has drawn his supplementary tile he has not completed his turn fully
    > By taking the tile on his turn to go Mah Jong he has effectively allowed the Konging player to possibly get his mah Jong with the supplementary tile
    > By saying that you can rob the kong before the player has had that chance you are possibly prejudicing the player unjustifiably
    >
    > As I do not have the actual books I cannot comment father but I have given you the sources where the rule can be found
    > I hav entries for years to get the Foster on Mah Jong book but to no avail
    > Out of print i think
    > You might have a copy to check
    >
    > I would like your comments about this Robbing the Kong rule and how it could be used to best advantage
    >
    > Thank you for a excellent site
    > I have picked up a great deal of information which I use to good advantage while running my club
    > Found the championship articles very informative as well as the training ones
    > Already have changed my tearing methods to what you have suggested
    > Namely teaching with the tiles and setting them up tray her than using diagrams first then moving onto the tiles
    > Best regards and keep tiling
    > Leon

    Hi, Leon.

    The game is played exactly like normal Mah Jong
    By which I assume you mean "Chinese Classical" (if one of my usual female readers below said "normal Mah Jong," I would assume she meant "American/NMJL rules").

    He is 89 years old
    > Has played since he was 12 odd
    Okay, so 77 years ago, not 70, thus he started playing around 1936 or so (not 1943). The thirties are the "dark ages" of mah-jongg; a whole lot of books were written in the twenties, and then silence until 1937 when the NMJL codified their American game for women. So not a lot is known about how mah-jongg was played in the thirties.

    Foster on Mah Jong published in 1924... Out of print i think
    > You might have a copy to check
    As you can see at http://sloperama.com/cctheory/all.htm, I do have a copy of that book. I looked up the rule, and on pages 69-70 he describes Robbing the Kong just as it is done according to A.D. Millington (not the way your elder friend describes it).

    And a book by Bell also makes mention of the same rule
    If you look in FAQ 3, you'll see that R.C. Bell wrote three books that include mah-jongg. I have one of them. On page 158 of "Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations," he writes:

      ROBBING A QUONG. A player needing a tile to go mah-jong may steal the fourth tile of an exposed quong from another player to do so. He may not rob a concealed quong.

    That is all Bell says about the matter. Bell devotes only 9 pages (153-162) to the entire game, though, so it could be argued that Bell simply had a too-tight word-count limitation that prevented him from going into more detail. It could also be argued that Bell supports your friend's view of how Robbing a Kong should work. I do not have either of Bell's other books to obtain a second reading on Bell's interpretation of the rule.

    he has met several other people who told him that they also play the same way as he does so it seems that this version of Mah Jong has been around for a long time
    I am not one to dispute that assertion.

    It also could be that some authors were somewhat lazy in checking their facts before publishing the books
    I would certainly never call Foster or Millington "lazy." They appear to me to be very thorough researchers.

    the changing of the rule for robbing a kong could also very well be the same problem
    As I said before, I see no evidence that a rule was "changed."

    The case for only robbing the kong in ones own turn does have some merit as Ted said
    Sure, arguments can always be made for and against a thing. And I do not know who Ted is.

    By taking the tile on his turn to go Mah Jong he has effectively allowed the Konging player to possibly get his mah Jong with the supplementary tile
    A player who is waiting to go mah-jongg under other circumstances does not have to wait for his turn. Consider: which happens first: konging? Or taking the replacement tile? There's no reason why another player couldn't declare mah-jongg between those events (after the former, and before the latter).

    By saying that you can rob the kong before the player has had that chance you are possibly prejudicing the player unjustifiably
    But once the kong has been robbed, the konger no longer needs a replacement tile. And there needs to be no "justification" for winning at the moment it's possible to win, beyond the legality of it under the rules. It's not unfair that the replacement tile might have been the konger's winning tile -- it's too late, the robber snatched the win.

    I would like your comments about this Robbing the Kong rule and how it could be used to best advantage
    If one is playing your friend's way, "never make a kong of anything; early in the hand if you get a fourth, discard it; later in the hand, conceal it and play defensively so you don't give the win to someone else." If one is playing the way described by Foster and Millington, "the odds are low that someone will rob your kong, so go ahead and promote a kong if you want to."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 14, 2013


    Historical evolution of "robbing the kong", part 2

    > From: Leon L
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 8:42 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Re the Robbing of the kong
    > The source comes from someone who has been playing mah Jong for over 70 years
    > He was taught the rules in shanghai
    > And that's the way he has always played it
    > He said in the early days that was the norm
    > He cannot remember the full source nor why the rule was changed
    > He has taught many people and they use this particular rule
    > They find it works very well and reduces the luck factor somewhat
    >
    > As you know I run a club here and we play by his rules
    > Ill give you details shortly
    > The way we play works very well and is very popular here
    > We cater for multiple players
    > Don't play rounds unless we have exactly the right amount of players

    Hi, Leon. You wrote:

    The source comes from someone who has been playing mah Jong for over 70 years
    So, since before 1943.

    He was taught the rules in shanghai
    > And that's the way he has always played it
    > He said in the early days that was the norm
    We are, presumably, talking about the Chinese Classical rules (essentially, the rules described by Millington and by numerous authors of the 1920s). A.D. Millington consulted many players from the early 20th century to codify his rules. If we get one rule from one old-timer, and a different rule from another old-timer, that doesn't mean very much.

    He cannot remember the full source nor why the rule was changed
    The Chinese never really wrote down the rules back in mah-jongg's big heyday. The rules were always passed along verbally. And if you didn't already know, even when rules are written down, there will always be variations from neighborhood to neighborhood and even from house to house. Just because someone uses a different interpretation of robbing the kong than another party does, doesn't mean "the rule was changed." It only means that a variation, a table rule, somehow appeared. After the crash of the mah-jongg craze in 1924, there has never been any governing body for Chinese Classical rules, and no single authority can claim governorship of the CC rules (and that includes both Millington and your friend).

    As you know I run a club here
    I am sorry to say that I do not remember that you run a club, and that I do not remember where you live. I also don't remember when was the last time we communicated.

    To sum up, your friend's rule is just the way he does things and the way he learned things. It does not mean that his rule rises to the level of a "change in the rules," or that the mah-jongg world needs to shake itself up and change to his way, even if it was done that way in Shanghai as long ago as 1943. I'm glad that your group enjoys mah-jongg.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 14, 2013


    Historical evolution of "robbing the kong"

    > From: Leon L
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:43 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > After playing Mah Jong for many years it has come to my attention that the rules on Robbing a Kong are not the original rules but have been changed
    > According to the source the way we Rob the Kong nowadays is when
    > a player has a Open Pong displayed
    > He draws the fourth matching tile
    > He adds it to his Melded Pong and says Kong
    > If someone needs that tile he then declares Mah Jong and takes that tile and claims a double for Robbing a Kong
    > The way it used to be played is slightly different in the late 1800s and early 1900s
    > The way it was was not like above
    > If at any time during the game if an exposed kong is on the table anyone who can use the fourth tile to go Mah Jong and claim that tile to make a Chi and go Mah Jong can do so on their turn
    > This changes the strategy of the game somewhat in that now a player can work towards claiming the tile needed to go Mah Jong
    > When was the rule changed and why to the way we play nowadays
    > Leon

    Hello, Leon. Long time no see. You wrote:

    it has come to my attention that the rules on Robbing a Kong are not the original rules but have been changed
    How did this come to your attention?

    According to the source
    What source?

    The way it used to be played is slightly different in the late 1800s and early 1900s
    So in the late 1800s, robbing the kong worked one way, and in the early 1900s it worked another? Or do you just mean that the way it's done now is different from the way it was done before the 1920s?

    The way it was was not like above
    What is the source for this assertion?

    If at any time during the game if an exposed kong is on the table anyone who can use the fourth tile to go Mah Jong and claim that tile to make a Chi and go Mah Jong can do so on their turn
    I have never heard of this. Can you give me a source?

    This changes the strategy of the game somewhat
    It changes it A LOT!

    When was the rule changed and why to the way we play nowadays
    I don't know, Leon. You've given me an assertion, without citing any authorities, and although I have an extensive mah-jongg library, I have never heard of the rule working the way you say. If you cite me a source, I can try to look it up. If you find a written citation, just date the citation and you know the change (if there was one) occurred after that date, and before the date of different citations.

    Or maybe the "old" rule you stated above wasn't really "the" rule at any particular time - maybe it was regional, or variant-specific, or maybe it was a bad translation or a misunderstanding of the rule.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 14, 2013


    Question about bouquets, part 3

    > From: Mazzuca's
    > Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2013 10:47 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > Hi Tom: We play Chinese Classical. We expose our flowers when they are drawn as it allows us to draw a new tile for the unexposed hand.
    > So can a player announce the 4 flowers in same color at anytime. They are already exposed on the upper rack. We could not find this answer in our book 'Mah Jong, Anyone? by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans.
    > Thank you for your patience.
    > Laurie M

    Hi, Laurie. You wrote:

    We play Chinese Classical. ... our book 'Mah Jong, Anyone? by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans.
    If Strauser & Evans is your mah-jongg bible, then you play Western/British Empire rules (not CC).

    We expose our flowers when they are drawn as it allows us to draw a new tile for the unexposed hand.
    Of course. But sometimes a player might have already decided what tile to discard next, then pick a flower and put it into the hand without realizing. There's no law against that; he or she can meld the flower on the next turn.

    So can a player announce the 4 flowers in same color at anytime.
    I answered that in our previous exchange.

    They are already exposed on the upper rack.
    AHA! That's the part of the puzzle I was missing!! I don't see why he couldn't -- but he should wait until his next turn, at which time he should organize the 4 tiles in sequence and prove that it's a valid bouquet.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 12, 2013


    Level 27: "Statues of the North"

    >From: diane m
    >Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2013 8:10 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:?
    >How do you pass level 27 statues of the north? Ive been trying to beat that level for quite sometime now and tried every combinsation i could with no results very frustrating thank you
    >diane

    Hi, diane.
    I have no idea. I have not played the game you are playing. Maybe another reader of this board will have a hint for you, or a lead to a board where you can ask your question.
    This isn't the best place to ask your question. This board is for questions about mah-jongg, not tile-matching. Mah-jongg is a 4-player game akin to Rummy, whereas tile-matching is a solitaire game akin to Klondike Solitaire. We pretty much never have discussions about tile-matching here.
    But before you post your question somewhere else, you'll need to identify the full title of the game you're playing. Is it "Mahjong Treasure Hunt" or "Mahjong Fandango" or "Mahjongg Oo-La-La Pastafazool"?? There are hundreds of different tile-matching games out there, and you need to be specific as to which one you're playing.
    Once you identify the full title of your tile-matching game, maybe you'll find a board dedicated to questions about it. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 12, 2013


    What if 3 players go dead? (part 2)

    > From: Shirley M
    > Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2013 6:11 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Regarding the 3 dead players in the previous question:
    > First declared Mah jongg but used 2 jokers in a pair
    > Second declared Mah jongg, but had picked a discarded tile earlier in the game & was playing a concealed hand
    > Third had incorrect suits for the hand being played
    > Thanks.

    Hi, Shirley,
    I'm assuming that the 3rd one to go dead also declared mah-jongg erroneously. I do not recall offhand seeing an official ruling on this from the League, but the rule that makes the most sense in this case is that the game simply ends. Survivor throws in her hand; just start next game.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 10, 2013

    P.S. READ THE BACK OF THE CARD.


    What if 3 players go dead?

    > From: Shirley M
    > Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2013 5:46 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > In the event 3 of the 4 players at a table become "dead" during the course of play, (yes, we actually had this happen!) is the remaining player declared the winner & paid by the 3 dead players?
    > Thank you.

    Hi, Shirley,
    It depends. It depends on how the players went dead (yes, it really happens often enough and in enough different ways that there actually are rules governing them). I can't answer unless you tell me how your players went dead.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 10, 2013

    P.S. READ THE BACK OF THE CARD.


    Question about bouquets (uncertain variant), part 2

    >From: Mazzuca's
    >Sent: Friday, August 9, 2013 10:04 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Tom: My question was not clear. When a player has all 4 flowers of same color or all animals that have been drawn, are there any rules as to when he must announce to receive payment from each of the other players. Is he free to announce anytime during the reminder of the game on subsequent turns at play. Laurie M

    Hi, Laurie.
    It depends on what variant you're playing. Perhaps you are playing an offshoot of Hong Kong style, or perhaps you're playing Shanghai New Style, or Taiwanese style. As I told you yesterday, you can identify your variant if you read FAQ 2B.
    It's normally permitted to conceal a flower within the hand for an indefinite period of time, but I imagine that a player who's completed a four-flower bouquet would want to claim it immediately. I imagine that it might be necessary to declare the bouquet before someone else wins, especially if you're playing a one-winner-takes-all variant. But since you haven't helped me identify your variant, and since I am traveling without my books, I can't help you much farther at this time. You should try harder to identify your variant, at the very least. You can link to FAQ 2B above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 10, 2013


    Question about being paid (uncertain conditions, uncertain variant)

    > From: Mazzuca's
    > Sent: Friday, August 9, 2013 10:56 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: We play without jokers or cards. Don't know what version this is, but use flowers, animals, and winds and dragons, clean or pure hands for turns in counting. So when 1 player gets all 4 flowers in same color or all four animals drawn not taken from other player, we each pay that person 1000.00 and tiles are now dead for counting as turns.
    > Question, does the person being paid need to announce when he draws final combination or anytime later in play before someone mahjogn's?
    > hope you can clear this up for us.Laurie M

    Hi, Laurie. You wrote:

    for turns in counting.
    I don't know what that means.

    for counting as turns.
    Don't know what it means that way, either.

    Don't know what version this is
    Sounds like maybe Hong Kong style. Read FAQ 2B and FAQ 17 and see if that fits. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    does the person being paid need to announce when he draws final combination or anytime later in play before someone mahjogn's?
    First off, the person can't be paid if he doesn't announce, so it's wrong to refer to that person as "being paid" unless he has announced and the others agree he should be paid.
    And I don't know if you're asking about "final combination" for the four-flower bouquet, or if you're asking about "final combination" for going mah-jongg. I need a clearer statement of the question before I can answer (sorry!).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 9, 2013


    I stopped the Charleston. WWTD?

    > From: Joan
    > Sent: Friday, August 9, 2013 9:22 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: Tom, I was aiming towards cons #4 with 3's, 4's in the middle, and 5's. During the Charleston I had one 3 dot and one 4 dot (with 2 jokers also). I also had one 3 and 4 crak and one 3 and 4 bam. In order to keep my options open, I stopped the passing after the first left. I understand it's probably better to not stop the passing as I did have tiles to pass but I'm curious to know what you would have done in this same situation.
    > Thanks for all the help you've been with your column.
    > Joan E.

    Hi, Joan. So as I understand it, you had this:

    You had five mystery tiles, plus a 1D to pass (that's six tiles). I don't see any reason to stop the Charleston at this point. No way would I have stopped the dance.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 9, 2013


    Does "same" always have to mean the same thing?

    > From: margaret l
    > Sent: Thursday, August 8, 2013 4:03 PM
    > Subject: what does "same" mean
    > we had a situation today playing mah jongg
    > A lady threw an 8 bam.......the next lady threw
    > down an 8 bam but said "same" and I threw
    > an 8 bam and said "same".............is that permissible
    > or do you only use the word "same" for jokers
    > when discarding..........
    > this is what your FAQ says but I am still not clear
    >
    > A3: When discarding a joker, many people say "same." It's encouraged to say "same" because the practice encourages other players to keep their eyes open, not only their ears. You can even just say the name of the previous tile (you don't even have to say "same"). And there is a strategic reason for not just saying "joker" when discarding a joker. An opponent who is foolishly only listening, and not looking, will probably miss the fact that you have discarded a joker, and won't even know it until she happens to see it on the discard floor later. Or when she hears you say "same," she might think you had discarded a joker, and will scan the table looking for it, then might even ask what just happened. Either way, by saying "same," you have taken advantage of some players' bad habits.
    > It used to be permitted to claim the "same" (the named tile, not the joker itself), but that rule was abolished long ago. NOW, when somebody discards a joker and says "same," there is NO claimable discard - ALL the discards on the table are dead: the joker itself, and the previous ("same") tile included.

    >
    > And your book says the same basically...........................thanks marge

    Hi Marge, you wrote:

    we had a situation today playing mah jongg
    > A lady threw an 8 bam.......the next lady threw
    > down an 8 bam but said "same" and I threw
    > an 8 bam and said "same"...........
    That all sounds perfectly fine to me. It's kosher with the rules of English, and there's nothing against it in the rules of mah-jongg. You said there was a situation... but I don't see a situation here.

    do you only use the word "same" for jokers
    > when discarding..........
    No, that's not the only time the word "same" is appropriate. Pretty sure my paragraph you quoted mentions both ("...will probably miss the fact that you have discarded a joker, and won't even know it until she happens to see it on the discard floor later. Or when she hears you say "same," she might think you had discarded a joker, and will scan the table looking for it") -- this was my way of explaining a reason why the term is recommended. It's recommended not only for discarding jokers (because then, everybody would always know that "same" always means "joker," which would remove the term's usefulness). Use it both ways, and you trip up those lazyheads who don't bother looking at what's going on around them. But that doesn't mean they'll never get angry and cause a "situation." A good game is one in which all players are always on their toes. When someone gets tripped up, she'll try to work harder to stay on her toes.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, NY, USA
    August 8, 2013


    Are red fives necessary?

    > From: Asa Alan R
    > Sent: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:33 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hello I have a question about my Mahjong set, purchased on ebay for $75.
    > It is bamboo and bone.
    > There are 144 titles.
    > There are no red number 5 tiles.
    > There are four extra blank white tiles.
    > The season and flower tiles are combined into only four titles, each sowing the season and the associated flower in one tile.
    > I know that it comes from Japan.
    > The instruction booklet included is "Mahjongg for Beginners" by Shozo Kanai & Margaret Farrell ... Charles E Tuttle Co. - 13th printing, 1965.
    > My question is, are the four Red 5's Necessary?
    > Do I use the for extra blank white tiles to replace the red 5's? If so should I mark those for blank tile or keep them as they are, Port replacements?
    > When I was a child I learn Chinese mahjong, so on the tiny bit confused with this set.
    > Thank you for helping me.
    > Wade Ryan - Omaha Nebraska
    > ———
    > “Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God." ~ Ram Dass

    Hello, Wade. You wrote:

    It is bamboo and bone.
    Are you sure? More likely bamboo and plastic.

    There are four extra blank white tiles.
    So you're saying there are eight white tiles?

    The season and flower tiles are combined into only four titles
    You mean there are only four flowers. That's typical of Japanese sets.

    Shozo Kanai & Margaret Farrell ... Charles E Tuttle Co. - 13th printing, 1965.
    Right -- before red fives were introduced to Japanese play.

    are the four Red 5's Necessary?
    It depends on what you mean by "necessary." That set did not come with red fives. It doesn't sound like you are a player of riichi/dora majan. So why would it matter if it has red fives or not? Is it that you are a seller? Red fives are only "necessary" if the set is to be used to play modern Japanese mah-jongg.

    Do I use the for extra blank white tiles to replace the red 5's?
    Again, it depends. Do you really have eight blanks (the four you're supposed to have, plus four extras), or do you only have the four? Have you read FAQ 7E?

    If so should I mark those for blank tile or keep them as they are, Port replacements?
    You lost me there. Perhaps you meant "part replacements." I don't think your set is missing any tiles. Did you purchase the set as a collectible, or to sell it, or to use it in play? And if the latter, what variant are you planning to play? If you have eight white tiles (or four white dragons and four blanks), you might want to convert your blanks to flowers, depending on what game you plan to play with your set.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    August 7, 2013


    Can she forego the betting?

    > From: irene z
    > Sent: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 5:08 AM
    > Subject: betting
    > Hi Tom,
    > I checked your Q & A board and I didn't see the answer to my question. (Hope I didn't miss it) When playing 5 handed Mah Jongg does the person sitting out have to bet? What if thatplayer doesn't want to bet?
    > Irene

    Hi, Irene. You wrote:

    I checked your Q & A board and I didn't see the answer to my question.
    This is the Q&A board, and not all answers can be found here. You've been here enough times that you ought to know that the place to look for answers about American mah-jongg is FAQ 19. Please bookmark FAQ 19.

    When playing 5 handed Mah Jongg does the person sitting out have to bet?
    Read FAQ 19W4.

    What if thatplayer doesn't want to bet?
    When an optional rule is being used, or when a table rule is being used, all players have to agree to abide by the same rule. If she doesn't want to bet, then nobody should bet. (Unless all players agree, "we'll all bet except Betty" -- there's no "rule" that says a group of players can't make up whatever rules they want.) Players really need to agree beforehand what rules they're using. Read FAQ 14.

    Unless you're saying that she bets sometimes, and wants to forego the bet other times. That's just not cool. Whether she bets or not, she still has to pay the same way everybody else does; she can't expect personal immunity from the game everybody else is playing; that's not fair to everyone else. A game in which different players abide by different rules is not a fair game; it's chaos.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2013


    Which tile gave me mah-jongg? Is this self-pick?

    > From: "maryjean1121
    > Sent: Saturday, August 3, 2013 4:32 PM
    > Subject: Self pick question
    > Hi.
    > Imagine I have 3 seven bams and a joker exposed. An eight bam is discarded and I call for it and expose it on my rack. Then I take a seven bam from my rack, exchange my own tile and declare Mah Jongg (had three flowers and two dragons)
    > Is this a "self pick" for double the payout or did I simply rearrange my tiles and the discarded tile actually gave me Mah Jongg so there is no double.
    > Thanks
    > Mary W
    > Sarasota, Fl

    Hi, Mary. The answer is in your own words. Read FAQ 19BO, and reread what you wrote:

    An eight bam is discarded and I call for it and expose it on my rack.
    And ask yourself: are you mah-jongg now? No, you can't be, can you? Not yet, you can't. So: did the discarder give you mah-jongg? (Hint: nuh-uh.)

    Then I take a seven bam from my rack, exchange my own tile
    Now ask yourself: are you perhaps mah-jongg now? Read FAQ 19AN.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 3, 2013


    Brouhaha on the 2nd left

    > From: Merrily L
    > Sent: Friday, August 2, 2013 4:52 PM
    > Subject: Mah jongg question concerning the second left
    > When we were about to play the second left, one player asked 3x of the other players whether everyone is willing "to go". One of the players was absorbed in her hand and did not reply. The player who asked the question assumed everyone agreed and passed her 3 tiles, picked up the tiles passed to her and placed them in her hand. The player who was "absorbed"then announced that she is stopping the Charleston and claimed she never even heard the question. An argument ensued as to how to proceed as the player who put her tiles in her hand couldn't remember what they were. Is there a ruling about this?
    > Thanks for your great website…very much needed.
    > Merrily L

    Hi, Merrily.
    The rule is one thing. And personalities are another. You can know the official rules, and you can even have them written down. But if the strongest personality at the table is upset about something that happened, she can bully the rest of you into letting her have it her way.
    The rule is stated in FAQ 19AG. Sounds to me like your player gave Ms. Absorbed enough of an opportunity to speak up before picking up her 2nd left. Once that's done, it's done. Ms. Absorbed needs to listen better. Read FAQ 9, too. Read the section on etiquette and how someone should behave when a ruling goes against her, and read my philosophies of mah-jongg.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2013


    Looking for players in University City

    >From: Hui Chang
    >Email: huic168gmail.com
    >Sent: Friday, August 2, 2013 9:54 AM
    >Subject: Find Players/Teachers
    >Location (city and zip code): University City
    >My kind of mah jongg is: for fun
    >Hui

    Which "University City" is that, Hui? If you want people to play mah-jongg with you, they need to live near you. Are you in Missouri or Pennsylvania or North Carolina? Or are you in a country other than the United States?
    And which mah-jongg variant do you play? American-style? Shanghai style, Hong Kong style, Taiwanese...?
    Please reply with a little more detail so you can get the players you're looking for.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2013


    Can I add a tile to my exposed pung?

    > From: Veronica K. C
    > Sent: Thursday, August 1, 2013 6:23 PM
    > Subject: Question
    > I have a copy of your book and want to know if I interpreted a rule correctly. If you have exposed a pung and decide you want to change to a kong, are you allowed to add a tile to the exposure to make it a kong for a different hand? If so, when are you allowed to do this?
    > Thank you!

    Hi, Veronica.
    It depends. Are you asking about American rules ("West Wind") or Chinese rules ("Red Dragon")?
    The Chinese kong promotion rule is rule 50 on page 136. The American kong promotion rule is rule 60(f) on page 53. See also the "change of heart" rule on exposure size, rule 113 on page 65. In checking the American rule as it's stated in the book just now, I think that my statement of it here on my website may be a little clearer. It's Frequently Asked Question 19AF. Please scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    By the way, thanks for buying my book!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 1, 2013


    Do you recognise, part 2

    >From: Geire K
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:13 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mahjong expert!
    >I thought the responses were meant to be funny?

    Geire, my intent and purpose here is to be informative. But when someone asks me a question that's so vague that I cannot be helpful, then I do the best I can, and be funny instead.
    If you want information about your tiles, you'll have to ask me a straightforward question. I don't know what you want to find out if you say "do you recognise these tiles." I can't know how to answer you if you say "do you know about these pieces." What is it you want to know? What is your question for me? I don't "recognise" your tiles (should I?), and I don't know anything about your tiles based on that one photo you sent, except that some of them are stained. I can't read your mind; I don't know what it is you're trying to learn about the tiles in your photo.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 1, 2013


    Value of old set, part 3

    >From: Cindy
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:05 PM
    >Subject: Re: Help needed with value of old set
    >Hi Tom,
    >Sorry if there was any confusion, all 158 pieces are matching two-tone black back, same size and color front and back. The flower "mixing" that I mentioned has to do with the numbering, there are a lot of 1s, and pictures/ styles that don't quite match. But the tile colors are all consistent.
    >Thanks,
    >Cindy

    Okay.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 1, 2013


    Do you recognise this set?

    From: Geire K
    Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 8:45 PM
    Subject: Mahjong expert!
    Hello! :) I wonder if you recognise this mahjong set? I read your blog on cleaning tiles and it was so wonderful, I thought you might know about these pieces?

    Hello, Geire. You wrote:

    I wonder if you recognise this mahjong set?
    No. This set and I have never met one another before now.

    I thought you might know about these pieces?
    Know what? Please ask me a question I can answer. Read FAQ 7P. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs for your answer first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2013


    Value of old set, part 2

    From: "hdcindy
    Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 3:41 PM
    Subject: Re: Help needed with value of old set
    Saw your response, thank you very much!

    You're welcome, Cindy. I should add that the value I gave you is dependent on the assumption that your set has AT LEAST 152 two-tone tiles. I had to make an assumption and it's a big one, in hindsight. If you have fewer than 152 two-tone (black back) tiles, then the value is halved, due to the difficulty of finding replacement tiles to make a complete set.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2013


    Value of old set

    > From: "hdcindy
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 2:25 PM
    > Subject: Help needed with value of old set
    > Dear Mr. Sloper,
    > I just found your website and read as much as I could - it is a godsend. I have an old mah-jongg set that was my mom's. My dad doesn't recall anything about it, such as when it was bought or where. So, I am turning to you to see if you can help with id'ing it and also how much it may be worth.
    > I have attached pictures, as recommended by your FAQ 7h, and provided the info you require. I hope you can help me with this. Please contact me if you have any questions. Here goes....
    > 1. There are 136 basic tiles of dots, bams, craks, winds and dragons, 14 flowers, 8 jokers. There are 5 racks, made of bakelite or other plastic. There are 2 die. Pictures are attached.
    > 2. The tiles are in very good condition, clean, no chips or cracks, and are a yellowy color, with a dark backing. Picture attached of a side view.
    > 3. I believe the tiles are some kind of plastic, like bakelite.
    > 4. I know we've had this set in the family since I can remember in the 60's, but I don't know how far back it really goes.
    > 5. Tile dimensions are 1 1/4" x 13/16" and 3/8" thick.
    > 6. Total number of tiles are 158 in the set. Picture of the set is attached.
    > 7. See #1.
    > 8. The set comes in a hinged case with faux alligator covering.
    > 9. The condition of the case and it's lining is good, but the brass corners and doodads are rusty.
    > 10. There are no paper materials at all.
    > 11. The craks are the older, simpler kind. Picture is attached.
    > 12. Picture of the One Bam is attached - it's a bird carving.
    > 13. Picture of the 12 Dragons is attached. I noticed that the usual green Fat and red Jung are not the same as I've seen in newer sets.
    > 14. Picture of the flowers is attached. They seem to be a mix of flowers.
    > 15. There are 8 jokers. Picture is attached. They have the red stickers on the tile.
    > Hopefully, I've provided enough information and pictures for you to evaluate. I really appreciate whatever you can do to tell me how old this set is, what it's made of, and it's general worth. I would like to sell it and be as accurate as possible to be fair to a buyer. Please contact me if you have any questions, and thank you once again for your help.
    > Kind regards,
    > Cindy Lee C

    Hi, Cindy.
    It looks nice, but value is all about condition. The old-style dragons, the five racks, and the number of original flowers indicate that the set may be from the late thirties or early forties. If someone wanted to use the set to play American mah-jongg (which it has been, which is why it has handmade flowers and jokers), someone would need to do some work. There are enough flowers, but they may be color mismatched (hard to tell from the photo; you said they were a "mix"). The jokers need new stickers. And then there's the rust on the metal parts of the case. The two-tone tiles appear to be attractive; you said they are VG. As is (without you performing any cleanup), it might sell for somewhere around $150-200.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2013


    Player picks from cold wall...

    > From: Lisa R
    > Sent: Sunday, July 28, 2013 3:38 PM
    > Subject: Mah Jongg cold wall discard
    > Dear Tom,
    > Thank you for your wonderful website. I am a new player and love it, and am constantly reading through your Q & A's which has been so helpful. I have a question that came up in a game today that I cannot find the answer for, and thought perhaps you could answer it, or tell me where it is in the Q & A's.
    > Player picks from cold wall, can she exchange tile for a joker in someone's exposure and discard, then can another player pick up that discard to make Mah Jongg?
    > Thanks for your help and direction.
    > Lisa R

    Hi Lisa, you wrote:

    Thank you for your wonderful website. I am a new player and love it, and am constantly reading through your Q & A's which has been so helpful.
    I'm glad to hear it!

    I have a question that came up in a game today that I cannot find the answer for, and thought perhaps you could answer it, or tell me where it is in the Q & A's.
    Well, let's see if I can help.

    Player picks from cold wall
    Oh. Sorry, I have to stop you right there. I can only help you if you're playing official American rules. Read FAQ 19Y and FAQ 14. You can link to the FAQs above left. If you ever have a question about the official rules, I can help!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 28, 2013


    Can you use a set of 3 jokers?

    > From: Frank H
    > Sent: Sunday, July 28, 2013 7:59 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Can you use a set of 3 jokers? I understand that you can't use 2 jokers for a pair but, for example, could 3 jokers be used for 3 bams!

    Hi, Frank. You wrote:

    Can you use a set of 3 jokers?
    Well, I don't really need them, but if you're offering, sure, I'll take them.

    I understand that you can't use 2 jokers for a pair
    You also can't use 1 joker and 1 natural to make a pair.

    but, for example, could 3 jokers be used for 3 bams!
    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 ). 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!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 28, 2013


    Why should a player have her own personal NMJL card?

    > From: margaret l
    > Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 2:20 PM
    > Subject: hi from marge
    > I just finished reading your book The Red Dragon & The West Winds
    > was able to pick up some valuable info..........thanks.
    > Here is a situation I need your opinion of.
    >
    > First of all I play mostly at our senior center. This last year a new
    > girl was responsible for the new cards. She ordered one and made
    > copies. I was not there during the winter when all this happened.
    > So when I returned to the center I ended up ordering cards for
    > the players who wanted their own and they paid for it.
    >
    > Now the players are questioning whether the center should order
    > and pay for every players cards. Can you please give me a good explanation
    > why a player should have his own personal card for play.
    > My opinion is that I want my personal card because I play at other
    > places and would need my own card to play. Do you think you
    > can give me your opinion of this situation.
    > marge

    Hi, Marge. I'm so glad you found my book helpful. Today you wrote:

    Can you please give me a good explanation
    > why a player should have his own personal card for play.
    Sure. There are four reasons:
    All players have to play from identical cards. The game is not workable if people use non-identical cards.
    Some people like to mark or write on their cards, to indicate favorite hands, or hands they've won, or as some sort of learning or sorting aid.
    If a player goes to a tournament, she needs to bring her card (the tournament does not supply them). And her name should be on it, in case she forgets it at one table and somebody finds it and turns it in.
    Copying the card violates the League's copyright. If the League knew your senior center was copying them, the League could sue the center in court, and a judge would rule in favor of the League.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2013


    The NMJL bulletin

    > From: Belinda
    > Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:39 PM
    > Subject: NMJL Bulletins
    > NMJL Bulletin question:
    > I purchased a NMJL rule book last year and received a rulebook that has a copyright date of 1984. The NMJL sends a bulletin once a year with explanations of some rules and some hands that might be misunderstood. I also noticed that in your frequently asked questions you usually site the rule that applies or the year of the bulletin that explains the rule or hand.
    >
    > My question is - is there a newer version of the rule book? If not, is there a resource to obtain the bulletins from1984 to the present? Obviously, we would not need the entire bulletin, but would like to find the rules/hands explanations section of each bulletin.
    >
    > I am wondering if the the Heavenly Hand being a valid Mah Jongg came out in one of those bulletins. Your frequently asked question #19BJ indicates that the NMJL told you that the Heavenly Hand is a valid Mah Jongg, but when I read the last sentence of the paragraph "The Charleston" on page 12 in my rule book, it says: "The first Charleston is compulsory, even if a player has drawn a "set" hand from the wall." Which I interpret that the Heavenly Hand is not a valid Mah Jongg. Am I reading this rule incorrectly or did it change somewhere along the way? Perhaps in a bulletin? If so, that leads me to believe that there may be other rules that changed as well, therefore, I am looking for a resource for these bulletins or rule changes. I have in the past sited your website as an authority when questions come up, only to be told that unless it comes from the NMJL, it isn't an authority. Funny thing is at least one or two will claim that the NMJL response to questions are still incorrect because they are not "fair"' unless of course it agrees with what they think!
    >
    > Sorry for the length of this post. BTW for what is worth, I think you are an authority!
    > Bee

    Hi, Bee. You wrote:

    is there a newer version of the rule book?
    No.

    If not, is there a resource to obtain the bulletins from1984 to the present? Obviously, we would not need the entire bulletin, but would like to find the rules/hands explanations section of each bulletin.
    I started collecting bulletins after 1996 or so. I've kept them all, and I consulted them all when I wrote my book and as I've written and updated my FAQ 19.

    I am wondering if the the Heavenly Hand being a valid Mah Jongg came out in one of those bulletins. Your frequently asked question #19BJ indicates that the NMJL told you that the Heavenly Hand is a valid Mah Jongg,
    I got that in writing directly from Ruth Unger, the president of the NMJL. Not from a bulletin. It was not in any of the bulletins I've collected since the 1990s.

    but when I read the last sentence of the paragraph "The Charleston" on page 12 in my rule book, it says: "The first Charleston is compulsory, even if a player has drawn a "set" hand from the wall."
    Two possibilities: either the rule changed, or the term "player" in that rule does not include "East" (the dealer is the exception to the rule). The first Charleston is compulsory for non-dealers.

    that leads me to believe that there may be other rules that changed as well, therefore, I am looking for a resource for these bulletins or rule changes.
    You could ask the League, I guess.

    I have in the past sited your website as an authority when questions come up, only to be told that unless it comes from the NMJL, it isn't an authority.
    My book is more complete than the official rulebook, because it goes into more detail about accepted practices and incorporates all rulings given in bulletins since the book was published. Ruth Unger called to congratulate me after she read my book. She even quoted me in the next bulletin, the following January.

    Funny thing is at least one or two will claim that the NMJL response to questions are still incorrect because they are not "fair"' unless of course it agrees with what they think!
    Sounds like what Yelda would say! (^_^)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 25, 2013


    To Rae W from Kirkwood, part 2

    > From: Belinda
    > Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 8:30 PM
    > Subject: 2010 NMJL card
    > Rae from Kirkwood MO was looking for a 2010 NMJL card. I have one and would be happy to exchange it for a 2012 card. Preferably the larger version, but would be Ok to have the smaller version. Rae can contact me at furbabymom at Ymail.com. - just substitute the @ sign for the word at. (I list it that way so phishers do not easily get my email address).
    > Thanks Tom
    > Bee

    Well, it still remains to be seen if Rae will ever see this. She's good at finding phone numbers, but is she good at finding bulletin boards...?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 25, 2013


    Can Full Flush be combined with Seven Pairs?

    > From: celia s
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:21 PM
    > Subject: scoring pairs in Chinese Official Mahjong rules
    > Hi Tony
    > In the Chinese Official Mahjong rules can I score for Seven Pairs as well as Full Flush (if I have all one suit)? I.E. 24 + 24. I ask because some in our group say that to claim a Full Flush the sets must be chows and/or pungs.
    > Celia

    Hi, Celia.
    Yes, there's no reason why Seven Pairs couldn't be combined with Full Flush. Your friend is wrong. Looking in the official MCR rulebook, I see that they even show that exact combination as one of the permitted ways of making the hand.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 24, 2013


    Value of set?

    > From: Tim & Cindy
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 7:54 AM
    > Subject: Value of Set?
    > Hi Tom!
    > We found a set of game tiles in the basement rafters of 1909 home. Can you give us an approximate value for them?
    > Set contains 144 tiles:
    > the basic 136 tile set is complete (a bird is the one bam)
    > 8 flowers - all different
    > dragon tiles are like your example except my set has an open rectangle with nothing inside
    > none of the tiles have standard numerals in the top corners
    > 4 blank tiles with a black base
    > 2 tiny dice (look very old ~ one is large red dot and 4 is red as well)
    > 2 little chips with green symbols on one face and red on the other face (look very old)
    > 1 large red chip with 4 chinese symbols on it and a circular hole in the middle
    > I don’t think there are any jokers
    > Condition would be Good or Very Good ~ I think. A few of the dots are slightly worn and one set of flowers show wear (one tile in particular)
    > I think they are made of bakelit, but only from the description on your website. Definitely orangey in colour.
    > I am sending photos as an attachment hope it all works.
    > Thanks so much.
    > Cindy R

    Hi, Cindy.
    What you have is a non-Westernized set, made of Bakelite/catalin, or what many collectors call "applejuice Bakelite" due to the almost-translucent look (unless that's just a trick of the photos). I can only address the pieces you showed me. I don't know what you store the pieces in (a suitcase, a grocery bag, a plastic baggie...) so I have to assume you have a set of tiles, with incomplete other pieces, and some tiles that don't belong.
    The four two-tone tiles are worth some money to people who need them to make an old two-tone set suitable for modern American mah-jongg. But finding those people is a challenge. See the Tiles Wanted bulletin board and the Tiles For Sale bulletin board. You should offer those four tiles separately. If you auction them on eBay, you might be surprised how much you'd get for them. I'm not going to give you a number -- check out those boards, follow the links to the tile sellers. Blank tiles go for a premium. Read also FAQ 7Q (yes, that really is a frequently asked question).
    The 144-tile set (the one-color tiles) might be worth around $50 or $60 to a collector. You might get as much as $6 or $8* for the dice and the discs if you're lucky. (*I had written $10 before, but decided that was too high.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 24, 2013


    I have tried to figure this out but no luck so far

    >From: Sandee C
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 2:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg bulletin board
    >I have tried to figure this out but no luck so far. want to place a posting on bulletin, looking for 1 or 2 players nyc. please advise
    >thank you.
    >sandee

    Hi, Sandee.
    If you look on the Find Players bulletin board and scroll down, you can see what kind of information people need:
    They need to know what kind of mah-jongg you play (is it American mah-jongg or one of the umpteen other variants).
    They need to know if you live in their local vicinity.
    They need to know how to get in touch with you. Many people omit this information so I show those folks' email addresses.
    And any other information you think potential players need to know about you. You can't play on Tuesdays, you play Atomic, you can't eat potato chips, you wear fluorescent green (due to the Atomic radiation) so wear sunglasses, you know -- whatever people need to know about you.
    Just shoot me that information in an email, and I'll post your email verbatim on the board. That's all you have to do.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 23, 2013


    Heavenly Hand

    > From: "Humface2
    > Sent: Monday, July 22, 2013 8:38 PM
    > Subject: Mah Jongg
    > I am east and i have 14 tiles... But my 14 tiles are a mah jongg, do i still have to do the charleston or do i just declare mahjongg?
    > Evelyn

    Hi, Evelyn.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19BJ. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 22, 2013


    To Rae W from Kirkwood, MO

    To Rae, who telephoned and left me a voicemail at 1:02 PM (Pacific Time) today, and asked (paraphrased):

    "I'm teaching mah-jongg from Elaine Sandberg's book, and she refers to the 2010 card, which I no longer have. I need a 2010 card to use with my students. Is there any way I can get one?"
    Sandberg's first book included a 2004 card printed on the last couple of pages. Maybe she did that in the book you're talking about, too (I assume you're talking about her "Winning American Mah Jongg Strategies"). If not, you can try eBay. Or you can try asking the NMJL. Or you can post on my Accessories Wanted bulletin board. In my book, I didn't have any references to any specific NMJL card (instead, I made up some hands, and gave general principles). Did you know I write a weekly strategy column (referring to the current card)? See purple banner above.

    I hope you come here and see this reply, because I'm not returning your phone call. Because (as it says above, and on a screen you have to go through to find my phone number) I do not answer mah-jongg questions over the telephone. I share this information with everyone -- none of my readers can listen in on a private phone conversation. Please don't phone me with mah-jongg questions again.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 22, 2013


    Why five racks?

    > From: Marilyn W
    > Sent: Sunday, July 21, 2013 3:47 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Why do many of the older sets include a fifth rack if a hand or round can only be played by four players at a time (excluding a fifth person who may bet on the outcome of the game amongst the other four)? Thanks for your time and generosity in sharing your knowledge with the rest of us.

    Hi, Marilyn. The question you have asked is answered in 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 ). Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 21, 2013


    Conflicting claim for mah-jongg

    >From: Jack E
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 8:11 AM
    >Subject: two mah jongs
    >Tom,
    >Here's a situation that comes up occasionally in our group that's not addressed in the Green Book. It would be nice if someone would weigh in on it.
    >Players A and B can both use a discard to make mah jong. Player A is first in line and hesitates for awhile, possibly because he/she is thinking of declining and waiting for a self pick. Meanwhile Player B says "mah jong". Can Player A now come back and say, "sorry, I have priority and win the hand". Player B claims that Player A should have declared his intentions immediately (or at least after a "brief moment"). Player A says he can wait as long as he wants, that he has priority. Who is right?
    >Jack E

    Hi, Jack. You wrote:

    Here's a situation ... that's not addressed in the Green Book.
    I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you mean the official MCR rulebook, not the 1920s Green Book (Chinese Classical).

    Player A says he can wait as long as he wants, that he has priority.
    Player A can't wait "as long as he wants." He has to speak up within a reasonably short interval from the time Player B calls mah-jongg. It's not a race (the first player to speak doesn't necessarily win), but reasonable timing can be reasonably judged by the players at the table. See Frequently Asked Question 20(J).
    Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). And I find it hard to believe that the "green book" doesn't address this sufficiently. It's not a race! Player B can speak first and Player A can still take the tile for the win.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 17, 2013

    [P.S. Checked "Mahjong Competition Rules" and sure enough, I couldn't find this question addressed. - Tom]


    Most-Frequently-Asked Question: 19G

    > From: Paula A
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 7:08 PM
    > Subject: .
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If someone has ,e.g., 2 #3 craks and a joker exposed and next player inadvertently discards a #3 crak, missing opportunity to take the joker, may another player claim that discard and redeem the joker?

    Hello, Paula.
    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 ). 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!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 16, 2013


    Is there a rule stating you must use a pair of dice, part 2

    > From: "Dix, Dee M."
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 1:07 PM
    > Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom - thanks for the quick response to my dice question. Seriously, I wasn't sure what was proper. Does one say dice or di for one dice. That's why I didn't say we only use one. It appears reading the Nat'l Mah Jongg Leaguebook page 9 a pair of dice should be used. I'm embarrassed to say we've played in our own little group for years and have only used one. Tonight is Mah night so I think I will bring up we "spoke" and after double cking the handbook we should be using a pair of dice.
    >Many thanks again for your reply. Busy website but oh so full of great tips and all Mah J
    >Best~ Dee =^..^=

    Hi, Dee.
    Awesome! You found the answer in the official rulebook! Btw - The singular of "dice" is "die."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 16, 2013


    Is there a rule stating you must use a pair of dice?

    > From: "Dix, D
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:03 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: about breaking the wall
    >Hi Tom - reading Elaine Sandberg's A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg I noted under the topic Break the Wall a pair of dice are to be used. In my group we do not use a pair. Is there a rule stating you must use a pair of dice?
    >Looking forward to your reply.
    >Kind Regards ~ Dee

    Hi, Dee.
    If you don't use a pair, how many dice do you use? Three? Four? One?
    I don't have my copy of the official NMJL rulebook with me here as I write this. But it is required to use two dice in all tournaments, and I'm fairly certain that the rulebook says to use two dice (but I'd have to check). My book says to use two dice, but my book is not "official." Every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 16, 2013


    Can I change my exposure before I discard?

    > From: buel d
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 10:58 AM
    > Subject: American Mah jongg Question
    > Recently I called for a discarded tile to complete a kong of 7 cracks. I had two 7 cracks and a joker. When I exposed the kong I inadvertently put up two jokers, my one 7 crack and the claimed 7 crack. When I was about to discard a tile I realized my error and tried to switch my remaining 7 crack for the second joker. Another player said I could not do that because the tiles had already been exposed. I never heard of this rule and wonder if it is accurate. Rather than argue, I discarded my remaining 7 crack and left the two jokers. It caused me to lose the game. Please comment.
    > Thanks

    Hi, Buel. You wrote:

    When I was about to discard a tile I realized my error and tried to switch my remaining 7 crack for the second joker. Another player said I could not do that because the tiles had already been exposed.
    That is wrong. The League's official rules differ from what that player told you. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19AF.
    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!

    But a question, Buel. You wanted to take a joker back and put a natural in its place, right? You could have simply done that later. You said you discarded the 7C. If that was the only tile you could have discarded at that point, you had mah-jongg. So I assume you only discarded that tile in the heat of frustration (that you actually had another tile you could have discarded at that moment). You could simply have exchanged that 7C for the 2nd joker on your next turn. So, while the other player incorrectly enforced a nonexistent rule, you hoisted yourself on your own petard -- you shouldn't put it all on 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
    July 16, 2013


    Aren't they incorrect, part 2

    >From: CG S
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 5:33 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Hi Tom, Thanks for your answer. I had already read your sections on plastic and believe that the tiles are plastic although the racks are Catalin. I'm not selling a set, but I was responding to someone who was selling one. I didn't think the set was worth the $100+ when the tiles are plastic. A lot of people don't know much about these sets unless they do research on them. Then on Amazon, they sell them for ridiculous prices. Thanks for weighing in on the plastic issue.

    Hi, CG.
    Thanks for the donation. You wrote:

    I had already read your sections on plastic and believe that the tiles are plastic although the racks are Catalin. I'm not selling a set, but I was responding to someone who was selling one.
    Wish I'd known all that when I wrote my previous reply.

    I didn't think the set was worth the $100+ when the tiles are plastic.
    American-style mah-jongg sets in Very Good and better condition typically go for more than $100. All American-style sets are made of plastic. Bakelite and catalin are plastics.

    Then on Amazon, they sell them for ridiculous prices.
    They sell sets for ridiculous prices on eBay too.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 16, 2013


    Aren't they incorrect?

    >From: C.G S
    >Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 7:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Sets
    >Hi Tom,
    >I know you don't always respond to every request, but I had a quick question about vintage sets. Cardinal Products of NY produced a Jumbo, non fading tile set in the late 50's early 60's that I've seen advertised on Amazon as Bakelite. Aren't they incorrect? If the tiles are white - they are plastic, since Bakelite always oxidized, and would not have remained white, isn't that correct? Hope you can solve this question for me, since I would not wish to mislead anyone about the content of a set.
    >Thanks so much for responding if you can.
    >--
    >C.G. S

    Hi, C.G. You wrote:

    I know you don't always respond to every request
    Yeah, I... wait, wh-what?? <('8')>

    Cardinal Products of NY produced a Jumbo, non fading tile set in the late 50's early 60's that I've seen advertised on Amazon as Bakelite. Aren't they incorrect?
    Who's "they"? Which do you mean: Cardinal or Amazon? If Cardinal said the tiles were bakelite, maybe they are, (or maybe they were referring to the racks). If Amazon said the tiles were bakelite but they aren't yellow, then yeah, that's probably incorrect. Did you know that most so-called bakelite tiles are actually catalin? I suppose catalin normally yellows with age, but I think there are circumstances that cause more yellowing (which means there could be circumstances that cause less yellowing).

    I would not wish to mislead anyone about the content of a set.
    Aha! I have context now! I do not have enough information to tell you how you should describe the material your set is made of. If you haven't yet read FAQs 7c and 7c3, you should. Good luck with your sale!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 15, 2013


    Restaurants that allow mah-jongg?

    > From: Jo Anne M
    > Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 6:21 PM
    > Subject: restaurants that allow mah jongg?
    > hi,
    > i've been all over your website and google looking for long island restaurants that allow mah jongg games. i thought i had the old newsday article online, but all i got was an error message.
    > is there a list somewhere? i'm having no luck finding it. thanks for any help you can give.
    > Jo Anne M

    Well, Jo Anne, I played mah-jongg at a restaurant in Montreal (see column 188) and at a restaurant in Copenhagen (see http://sloperama.com/copenhagen/copenhagen2.htm). I heard from Martin Rep (http://www.mahjongnews.com/en/index.php) that Eva Longoria's restaurant in Hollywood had a mah-jongg room, but I never went and checked it out. But hey, if you find any restaurants that welcome mah-jongg playing onsite, let me know and I can post the information, um, somewhere I guess!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 15, 2013


    4Qs

    >From: Mariann S
    >Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 8:00 PM
    >Subject: Mahjongg
    >My girlfriend and I are looking for a teacher/players in the Long Beach area. We are rank beginners.
    >Do you come to this area? How much are classes? How long does it take to learn? Do you know of games in this area?
    > Thx

    Hi Mariann,
    Yes, I can teach in Long Beach. I just need the pay to be worth my while.
    If you have four players, $25 per person per lesson. I require a minimum of $100 per lesson to make it worth my while.
    At least three lessons. I recommend four lessons. Some students want to go longer.
    Everything I know of (all the players etc.) can be found in the Find Players bulletin board. You should check it, and also read FAQ 15. You can access the other boards and the FAQs in the links section above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2013


    Regarding Mah Jongg set, part 2

    > From: Rachel J
    > Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 5:04 PM
    > Subject: Re: Questions regarding Mah Jongg set
    > Wow, thanks for the fast response! And sorry -- I must have missed the part about the blank tiles being dragons. :-) Appreciate the clarification.
    > The photo I was referring to, BTW, is the one with all the tiles lined up -- http://www.sloperama.com/images/organized6.png.
    > Thanks much!
    > Rachel


    Three players went dead. Now what?

    > From: "sstern22
    > Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 3:30 PM
    > Subject: mah question
    > A player called mah jongg , exposed her hand, and then realized she had the wrong number of tiles. Two others prematurely threw their tiles in. What monies, if any, does the fourth member receive for keeping her hand intact in her rack? Thank you. Stephanie

    Hi, Stephanie.
    This is documented in rule 98.d. on page 62 of my book, and it's rule 4(b) on page 16 of the official NMJL rulebook. The player who erroneously declared Maj pays double the value of her own hand (the hand she thought she was making) to the survivor. The other two erring players get off easy (they don't have to pay). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 12, 2013


    Regarding Mah Jongg set

    > From: Rachel J
    > Sent: Friday, July 12, 2013 2:55 PM
    > Subject: Questions regarding Mah Jongg set
    > Greetings --
    > First, thank you for a very informative and helpful site! I have a bone and bamboo mah jongg set in a 5-drawer wooden box with brass fittings. I believe it fits in the category you've described as 1920's era, and I have 3 questions: 1) What's the approximate value?; 2) Can you confirm that it's from the 1920's?; and 3) The tile photo on your site shows 12 dragons, but this set only has 8 -- is it missing tiles, or is this a normal number of dragons for this type of set?
    > Details are as follows:
    > The wooden box is in fair-to-good condition. Two of the brass pieces on the top are broken, and two of the drawers have small cracks in the bottom. The box is square, with a front piece that slides in front of the drawers.
    > There are 148 tiles: 36 dots, 36 craks, 36 bams, 16 winds, 8 dragons, 8 flowers, 8 blanks. Some of the tiles are a little dirty, but they're in good condition.
    > Tiles are 1-1/16" by 3/4". the bamboo is 5/16" deep, and the bone is 2/16" deep.
    > My sister purchased the set for our late mother at a swap meet; we know nothing about the previous history.
    > The set also includes: 4 tiny dice in a box with a sliding lid; 4 wind indicators with a cylindrical container (they don't fit in the container, though); and a total of 116 sticks.
    > There are no paper materials in or on the box.
    > Photos are attached -- thank you for any answers you can provide.
    > Rachel J

    Hi, Rachel. You asked:

    What's the approximate value?
    It has good things and bad things about it. Not having any paper booklet is a bad thing. Having red 8-dots is a good thing, because although that's not "rare," it is less common. I don't remember offhand if I even have one of those in my own collection. So your set is worth in the normal range for 1920s sets of merely-good condition: around $80-90. Your mileage may vary by $10.

    Can you confirm that it's from the 1920's?
    Yes. It is. I worry a little about those wind indicators not fitting into the cylinder - that might mean that the set is a Frankenstein.

    The tile photo on your site
    There's only one?? Can you tell me its exact location (which FAQ or board you saw my one and only tile photo on)?

    but this set only has 8 -- is it missing tiles, or is this a normal number of dragons for this type of set?
    Check out FAQ 7E. And FAQ 7B too, what the heck. (Hint: pay special attention to the white dragons.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    San Francisco, California, USA
    July 12, 2013


    Please delete my post

    > From: Steven A
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 5:28 PM
    > Subject: Hi, could you delete my post-email on the board
    > Hi, could you please delete my post below on the board where it says january 14 like I mean where my post says my names steven da da da da~ that one's mine could you delete it
    > Thanks in advance

    It depends, Steven. When you say "the board," which board are you talking about? I can't find it on this one. (I do not delete Q&A posts, by the way - see this website's policy.)
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the game advice FAQs -- donations appreciated.

    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 10, 2013


    Kudos

    > From: "lindaz
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 9, 2013 3:49 PM
    > Subject: KUDOS!!
    > Hi Tom,
    > I appreciate your helpful advice and teaching on "Sloperama". I have learned so much from your website. I was looking for an informative site to improve my skills, and my game has improved tremendously since studying your instruction for the past year. I applaud your infinite patience in answering the same (tiresome!) questions repeatedly. I'm learning MahJong AND patience from you. Thanks so much, Linda

    Thank you, Linda. I appreciate the kind words.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 9, 2013


    Can I expose a 201x or a NEWS?

    > From: "ljutras
    > Sent: Monday, July 8, 2013 11:19 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Can you expose NEWS or 201x if you pick up a discard to complete these? If so, please interpret the rule about invalid exposure (dead hands) where it says in parenthesis with or without a joker. I know you can’t use jokers in either of these sets.
    > Thanks.
    > Libby

    Hi, Libby. You wrote:

    Can you expose NEWS or 201x if you pick up a discard to complete these?
    You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19E. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). 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!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    please interpret the rule about invalid exposure (dead hands) where it says in parenthesis with or without a joker.
    I'm sorry, I don't know what rule you're referring to. Could you please cite the source and tell me the exact wording of the rule? (Or is the question moot, given the answer in FAQ 19E?)

    [Never mind -- I found it. FAQ 19AA.]

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 8, 2013


    I can't find this rule, part 2

    > From: Carol K
    > Sent: Monday, July 8, 2013 9:52 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I'm sorry but I find your website very overwhelming with all the flashing. It's frustrating to look for something as there is so much info on each page so close together. I'm old & slow I guess. Perhaps a search option would be helpful.
    >Back to my question. I did see FAQ19. My friend says that is not a NMJL rule. None of your NMJL links worked for me anywhere. So, I was trying to clarify if your answer to FAQ19 was per NMJL rules.
    >Thank you, Carol

    Hi, Carol. You wrote:

    I find your website very overwhelming with all the flashing.
    Sorry you find it thus.

    Perhaps a search option would be helpful.
    If I knew how to build one in! I use Google to find stuff on my own website, and it works perfectly fine for me.

    I did see FAQ19. My friend says that is not a NMJL rule.
    Which part of FAQ 19? There are somewhere between 60 and 70 answers in FAQ 19, and they are all according to NMJL rules. Every answer includes a citation at the end. Where I refer to a page number, that's a page number in the official NMJL rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy. Where I refer to a year, that's a yearly bulletin. And some rules are stated on the "back of the card." Your friend who disputes a rule should write to the NMJL and get the straight poop, from the horse's mouth. Oh gosh, that's a TERRIBLE mixed metaphor... My point is, I assure you that all my rule clarifications are kosher with NMJL rules.

    None of your NMJL links worked for me anywhere.
    I referred you to FAQ 19BK and FAQ 19AT. There's an NMJL link in FAQ 19AT to http://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org/store/merchandise.html -- aha, I see that that link is broken. The NMJL changed their site. Thanks for letting me know. I shall fix that later this evening. You can always just go to nationalmahjonggleague.org and click whatever button takes you to their merchandise page.
    [Note: the links have been fixed now. I deleted the straight-to-the-merchandise-store part of the links.]

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 8, 2013


    I can't find this rule anywhere!

    >From: Carol K
    >Sent: Monday, July 8, 2013 7:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >
    None of the NMJL references seem to work. I have their book and my answer is not there. My question is about American Mahjong. When a tile has to be put back on the wall for some reason where does it get placed? Is that determined by whether or not the player looked at the miss-picked tile?
    >Thank you

    Hello, Carol. You wrote:

    None of the NMJL references seem to work.
    I have no idea what you're saying. If you're telling me there's a problem with links on my site, please tell me exactly where the problem is, so I can fix it.

    I have their book and my answer is not there.
    You've asked FAQ 19BK. I assume you know that you can scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    My question is about American Mahjong.
    I must be psychic! Somehow I already knew that! (^_^)

    When a tile has to be put back on the wall for some reason where does it get placed?
    It's put back on the end of the wall, exactly where it came from.

    Is that determined by whether or not the player looked at the miss-picked tile?
    Read FAQ 19AT.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 8, 2013


    Software for tournament scoring, part 2

    > From: betsy newlife
    >Email: betsyneedsalifeyahoo.com
    > Sent: Sunday, July 7, 2013 11:30 PM
    > Subject: Hi Tom...Sandy C asked about scoring programs [June 30]
    > I spent a great deal of money to make a program for scoring.
    > and had the programmer include the ability for me to rent it out....for a week or a year, or anything inbetween.
    > If u have tournament people who are interested...feel free to send them my way.
    > 718-974-9115
    > Bettyann
    > JokersWildMJT.
    >I Love You Flowers 'The happiest of people don't necessarily
    > have the best of everything;
    > They just make the most of everything they have!
    >.•* *~`:Beyann.•* *~:

    > From: betsy newlife
    > To: "Webmaster@Sloperama.com"
    > Sent: Sunday, July 7, 2013 11:47 PM
    > Subject: I do rent out my scoring program....
    > It was created at substantial cost to me...with that in mind.
    > how can I contace Sandee C?
    > Bettyann
    > Jokers Wild, MJT

    Maybe she'll come back and see this, Bettyann.
    And I'll append this to the Tournaments FAQ.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 8, 2013


    Column 570

    > From: Marilyn E
    > Sent: Saturday, July 6, 2013 5:46 PM
    > Subject: June 30 weekly strategy column, #1
    > Craks 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4
    > Dots 2 2 3 3 4
    > 3 Bam
    > you suggested discarding the 2 Dot.
    > Why not discard the 3 Bam?
    > Just curious. I would discard the 3Bam and would like to know why that is not the better option.
    > Thank you and I love your website.
    > Marilyn

    Hi, Marilyn. I stated my reason in the column (please look again). But I don't know why you would discard 3B, since you didn't say. Are you targeting one best hand that needs just two suits, is that it?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 6, 2013


    Could these whatchamaycallums be of interest for someone?

    >From: Marie-Louise B
    >Sent: Friday, July 5, 2013 1:06 AM
    >Subject: mahjong set from my grand-father having lived in China around 1920
    >Dear M. Sloper
    >Please find attached pictures from 2 plays found in a cellar.
    >Please let me know if these plays could be of interest for someone (I don´t know exactly the names of the second play).
    >Many thanks in advance for your advice.
    >Ms. Baude

    Bonjour, Ms. Baude. Vous avez écrit :

    Please let me know if [this set] could be of interest for someone
    Yes, I'm sure it could. It appears to be a fairly decent bone-and-bamboo set from the 1920s, but without a box or carrying case.

    (I don´t know exactly the names of the second play).
    Read FAQs 7B, 7C, 7D, 7E, and 7N. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    Good luck!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Le 5 Juillet, 2013


    FAQs 5 and 3

    >From: Rainey S
    >Sent: Friday, July 5, 2013 5:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: is there a computer game along with a book that I can buy, and practice myself. I did get a book on Beginners American Mahjong, but need the software to be able to play.
    >Rainey

    Rainey, you have asked Frequently Asked Questions 5 and 3. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 5, 2013


    Can you put me in touch with a teacher

    > From: Lorraine Schneider
    >Email: raineyschgmail.com
    > Sent: Friday, July 5, 2013 3:24 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: I am trying to learn American Mahjong so I can play with friends. I am willing to take private lessons. I live in Las Vegas, and have played bridge for years. So I should be a pretty quick learner.
    > Can you put me in touch with someone that can help me. Perhaps even a community center I am not aware of.
    > Thank you,

    Hello, Rainey.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 15. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). You can also find lists of mah-jongg teachers and event organizers in FAQ 4A, and on the Find Players Bulletin Board (that's everything I am aware of). I am posting a duplicate of this Q&A on the Find Players board (with your email address), so others can contact you.
    Good luck!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 5, 2013


    FAQ 19G

    > From: Elinor C
    > Sent: Friday, July 5, 2013 12:53 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > A player has selected a winds/dragons hand and has displayed/exposed 4 red dragons on her rack, two of which are jokers.
    > If a red dragon is discarded subsequently, can she call that tile for her display on her rack? If so, would she then replace one of the jokers exposed on her rack with the called red dragon, keep the joker on her unexposed rack, and discard another tile?
    > If she can call that tile and it is not her turn, do the players preceding her lose their turn?

    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 ). 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!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 5, 2013


    What is the "mush" rule?

    > From: margaret l
    > Sent: Friday, July 5, 2013 6:32 AM
    > Subject: Mah Jongg rule... "mush"
    > Webmaster can you clarify what and how to "MUSH" in mah jongg...........I have never heard
    > of it before but my fellow mah jongg player sent me this rule she found somewhere.........
    > thanks margaret
    > Yes, it is a rule or option which can be used at the end of the first Charleston only, which is called a "mush". This can be used instead of the courtesy pass. From my interpretion, I think it is saying whatever tiles you would exchange with your opposing player is what you would put into the middle.
    > You would then draw the number of tiles that you would have exchanged. The only thing that wasn't
    > clear to us was which order would you then draw fom this pile? Sandy thought it would be in order
    > from the dealer and then to the right.
    > It is something that needs to be looked into further to understand this properly. The directions really
    > didn't go into enough detail. I can show you where I found this in the rules next time you are in if
    > you wanted to take a look at it and see what you think.
    > Helen
    > A.A.A.D.D.
    > KNOW THE SYMPTOMS!
    > Thank goodness there's a name
    > for
    > this
    > disorder.
    > Age-Activated Attention
    > Deficit Disorder.
    > This is how it manifests: [DELETED]
    > No virus

    Margaret, I assume you were forwarding or copy/pasting an email from someone named Helen, who answered a mah-jongg question for you and also sent you an annoyingly lengthy email joke.
    "Mush" is a TABLE RULE. That means that you will not find it in any rulebook. Please read Frequently Asked Question 14. Even if a table rule is written in someone's book, the rule is bound to be interpreted differently by most tables that use it.
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    I deleted the very long email joke. Please don't send those to me. Thanks.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 5, 2013


    What are they made of, part 2

    > From: Joe
    > Sent: Thursday, July 4, 2013 1:48 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Thanks for your help!


    We let her continue playing but told her she could not call or win

    >From: margaret l
    >Sent: Thursday, July 4, 2013 6:47 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Could not find an answer to this one.
    >Player is playing a concealed hand and does an exposure.............we let
    >her continue with no further exposures but we declare she will not
    >win at all..............is that correct.
    >marge

    Why did you do that, Marge? Why didn't you just call her dead?
    I'm assuming she exposed a dragon pung (that's the only sure single-exposure clue that she's working on a concealed hand). Unless she told you she realized she was doing a concealed hand (and if so, my question again would be: "why?").
    I assume that nobody in your group has ever read the official rulebook (FAQ 3), you haven't read FAQ 19AA, or any of my columns on Defense. Either that, or you knew you couldn't legally call her dead because none of you had visible proof that she was, and you thought letting her continue (Chinese style) was the right way to go. Oh, and I assume you were playing American mah-jongg too. Wow, that's a lot of assumptions I have to make!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    4th of July, 2013


    What are they made of?

    > From: Joe
    > Sent: Thursday, July 4, 2013 12:29 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I bought these at an estate sale. The man that passed first wife was from Taiwan so he had a lot of vintage Asian items. I read a lot on them but can't figure out what they are made of. Can you help me? They are carved and none of the symbols look completely alike
    > Thanks
    > Joe C

    Joe, they're plastic. Read Frequently Asked Question 7c3 if that answer isn't specific enough.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    4th of July, 2013


    Column #570

    > From: "krrrad
    > Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 9:20 AM
    > Subject: Column #570
    > Hi Tom,
    >Love your strategy column. I have more of a suggestion, than a question. For #8, I would discard a 4 crack, in lieu of a joker. I have enough jokers to make a kong, and why tip off my opponents that I am waiting for pair? So, what do you think??? Karen R.

    Perfectly sound strategy (albeit a bit sneaky), Karen. I have often done that myself (but didn't think of it when hastily putting the column together). 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
    Juy 3, 2013


    Origins, part 7

    >From: bittorent bittorent
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 5:12 AM
    >Subject: Re: Peng Hu,Mo Hu and Madiao
    >Never play Mad Libs but whatever it is,the Pottery [sic] Pai from Tang certainly don't sound anything like trick taking game right?

    Right.
    Tom Sloper

    July 3, 2013


    Origins, part 6

    > From: bittorent bittorent
    > Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 2:57 AM
    > Subject: Re: Peng Hu,Mo Hu and Madiao

      >> "There is a strong probability for the Mexican game Conquian (or perhaps "¿Con quien?"...) to have been inspired by some Chinese card game ('gun qian' = "sticks-cash"?) brought to Mexico by Chinese immigrants *coming from the Philippines* (for the Philippines, as a Spanish colony, was ruled from "New Spain" = Mexico until 1821). There were Chinese in Mexico City as early as the 17th century. The example of the Spanish-suited cards called "Cuajo Filipino" (Tagalog: 'kuwaho') which proves to be a real Hokkien Chinese game played with Spanish cards (see John McLeod article in 'The Playing-Card'), very similar to 'si se' played with Chinese chess cards, shows the direction.
      > http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq11b.htm

    > No wait, 17th century? That is from 1601-1700. Mahjong/conquain precursor was brought into Mexico during 17th century? Does that mean the card game which inspire mahjong and Conquian already exist at least 17th century or earlier even before Kang Xi started the ban in late 17th century, 1691? I was hoping for you to say there are info on how this 'gun qian' being played and the date of it's earliest reference being mention,but since you did not mention it in your site,I guess there' no more info of it.

    >From: bittorent bittorent
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 7:20 AM
    >Subject: Re: Peng Hu,Mo Hu and Madiao
    >Remember when I ask you about the pottery Pai from Tang dynasty where it says it's a trick game. To be honest, I was very confuse because the description of potter Pai remind me of scrable rather than any trick taking card game.

    Good morning, anonymous person. You wrote:

    No wait, 17th century? That is from 1601-1700. Mahjong/conquain precursor was brought into Mexico during 17th century?
    That's not what Thierry Depaulis said. He said, "There were Chinese in Mexico City as early as the 17th century." That does not mean Chinese people stopped coming to Mexico City during the 17th century, or that any ideas they brought to Mexico could only have come during the 17th century (and stopped thereafter).

    I was hoping for you to say there are info on how this 'gun qian' being played and the date of it's earliest reference being mention
    I am sorry to disappoint you. Yesterday I checked David Parlett's "A History of Card Games" and didn't find anything definitive there either.

    but since you did not mention it in your site,I guess there' no more info of it.
    Exactly.

    Remember when I ask you about the [poetry] Pai from Tang dynasty where it says it's a trick game.
    Yes. John Low wrote in FAQ 11B (working from the Ningbo booklet): "A deck of wooden pieces had a short phrase written on them. Friends when playing this game would each draw a Poetry piece and then complete the phrase by making a short poem right on the spot for "fun". Later on again, "Poetry Pai" was used for playing a tricks game (eg Bridge) among the intelligent/literate. I have absolutely no idea how this works (no explanation anywhere)."

    I was very confuse because the description of [poetry] Pai remind me of [Scrabble] rather than any trick taking card game.
    It reminds me of "Mad Libs" more than Scrabble. How someone could change a "complete this phrase creatively" game's playing pieces into a "my phrase trumps your phrase" game is a mystery to me. Maybe an alphabetical-order system or a character-count system.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 2, 2013


    Origins, part 5

    >From: bittorent bittorent
    >Sent: Monday, July 1, 2013 12:12 AM
    >Subject: Re: Peng Hu,Mo Hu and Madiao

      >>"bittorrent," I don't understand your question. I read the Wikipedia entry you pointed me to (I'd never seen it until now), and it's unclear from the Wikipedia article what this evolution is -- it says matiao is a trick-taking game played with a deck of 40 cards, but evolved into an unnamed hand-building game using a deck of 60, after cards were outlawed in 1691. I don't know what you're talking about when you mention matching games. You lost me entirely, anonymous person.

    >The 'matching games' here referring to type of game mahjong belong. There are many type of card games such as trick taking,shedding,matching and accumulating.
    >http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_game#Types
    >Mahjong belong to matching category. However, Ma Diao,which have been credited to mahjong evolution is originally a trick taking card game. So my question is how does the transition of Ma Diao, a trick taking card game evolve into mahjong,a matching game? Does it happen during 1691where new form of game mechanism of ma dioa occur? Or is it possible that even before that ma diao might already evolve into matching card game?If yes when?

    Hello, "bittorrent." You wrote:

    The 'matching games' here referring to type of game mahjong belong... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_game#Types
    I see. I had not been aware of that system of classification. It didn't sound applicable to Mah-Jongg and Rummy, but Parlett describes Rummy as "forming one's hand into matching sets of cards," which bears out that name. My apologies.

    However, Ma Diao,which have been credited to mahjong evolution is originally a trick taking card game. So my question is how does the transition of Ma Diao, a trick taking card game evolve into mahjong,a matching game?
    I'm sorry, but I do not know. My understanding from something David Parlett said on the old mahjong newsgroup, perhaps 20 years ago, is that Rummy's ancestor, Conquian, and Mah-Jongg, its cousin, may have emerged about the same time (in the late 1800s).

    Does it happen during 1691where new form of game mechanism of ma dioa occur? Or is it possible that even before that ma diao might already evolve into matching card game?If yes when?
    I took that Wikipedia tidbit about Emperor Kangxi and his banning the manufacturing and sale of cards in 1691 and added it to the timeline in FAQ 11H. Note that the Wikipedia article describes starting with Matiao, a 40-card trick-taking game, then evolving into a 60-card "matching game." See my timeline in FAQ 11H -- that 60-card game is surely You-hu, which emerged in the time of Kangxi. How Matiao "evolved" into You-hu I cannot tell you. Matiao did not start as a trick-taking game and change into a matching game that was still called Matiao. This "evolution" may have been more a matter of dissatisfaction with one game, and the creation of a different game, using the same cards (with modifications).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 1, 2013


    Where can we find players and tournaments?

    > From: Mary L
    > Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2013 10:22 PM
    > Subject: Mahjongg tournaments
    > Hi,
    > My husband and I are part of a group of 4 that play a lot of Chinese official mahjongg. We recently just bought some superb sets from Johni Levene.
    > We're interested in finding others who play and tournaments if there are any.
    > Do you know of any clubs, tournaments, other ways to find players in the Los Angeles area?
    > Mary Lane

    Hello, Mary.
    Welcome to my website. Please see the Find Players bulletin board, FAQ 4a, and FAQ 15. Make sure you bookmark those and Martin Rep's MahJongNews website. Scroll up and look left for those links, 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 the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 1, 2013


    Please assist me, part 2

    From: Sarah F
    Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2013 5:58 PM
    Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thank you very much.
    Sarah


    Please assist me with finding four soaps

    > From: Sarah F
    > Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2013 4:29 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hi! My mother passed away several years ago. In addressing her estate, we found an old Maj Jongg set. I love it! It is missing the SOAP tiles. Could you please assist me with info on how to replace them? Thank you so much.
    > Sarah

    Hello, Sarah.
    If your set has four blank tiles, those are your soaps. Read FAQ 7E and make a Big Square with your tiles, as described in column 492 (get to the FAQs by clicking links above left; get to the column by clicking purple banner above).

    Then if you're sure you need tiles to complete your set, check the Tiles For Sale bulletin board and the Tiles Wanted bulletin board. Links are above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 30, 2013


    Software for tournament scoring?

    > From: Sandee C
    > Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2013 12:53 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I run the tournaments at the jcc in new york city. was wondering if you know of any software available for tournament scoring. we usually have 50-55 people and scoring manually is a little slow.
    > any suggestions greatly appreciated.
    > best, sandee c

    I do not, Sandee. I recommend you contact organizers of tournaments (of American-style mah-jongg), and ask them. See FAQ 4a, the Find Players bulletin board, and FAQ 21.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 30, 2013


    Origins of dice and domino games, part 4

    > From: bittorent bittorent
    > Sent: Saturday, June 29, 2013 9:25 PM
    > Subject: Re: Peng Hu,Mo Hu and Madiao
    > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C7%8E_di%C3%A0o#Evolution_of_the_rules
    > According to wikipedia link,it seems to me ma diao,originally a trick taking game evolve during 1691. The 1691 evolution that it had,does it evolve into matching card game? Or does ma diao already evolve into matching card game even before 1691?

    "bittorrent," I don't understand your question. I read the Wikipedia entry you pointed me to (I'd never seen it until now), and it's unclear from the Wikipedia article what this evolution is -- it says matiao is a trick-taking game played with a deck of 40 cards, but evolved into an unnamed hand-building game using a deck of 60, after cards were outlawed in 1691. I don't know what you're talking about when you mention matching games. You lost me entirely, anonymous person.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 30, 2013


    Origins of dice and domino games, part 3

    > From: bittorent bittorent
    > Sent: Friday, June 28, 2013 8:24 PM
    > Subject: Re: Peng Hu,Mo Hu and Madiao
    > ''Later on again, "Poetry Pai" was used for playing a tricks game (eg Bridge) among the intelligent/literate. I have absolutely no idea how this works (no explanation anywhere).''
    > http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq11b.htm
    > Just curious,when you said 'trick games' here,are you referring to 'trick taking card game'? You said you don't know how this works, but how did you know it's 'trick taking card game'?

    Hello bit,
    That was written by John Low, who is able to read Chinese. Click the second half of Figure 1 to enlarge the image (or, better, right-click it and download the image).

    In writing this English explanation, John worked from the booklet "History and Culture of Mahjong", published by the 麻将起源地陈列馆, the Display Hall of the Birthplace of Mahjong, in Ningbo, China.

    That booklet is written in Chinese and English, but many of the images were in Chinese, so John assisted curious mah-jongg aficionados with understanding the images. I cannot answer any questions about why John may have said what he said. If you are Chinese, I recommend you contact the museum in Ningbo and obtain a copy of the booklet.

    I visited the museum myself in 2010. The museum is located in 天一阁博物馆, the Tianyi Pavilion, in Ningbo. See http://sloperama.com/shanghainingbo/shangbo2.htm.
    Yes, "trick games" means "trick-taking game." I suggest you follow every link in FAQ 11; I do not have an eidetic memory, and cannot remember the source of every piece of information I have learned. I did my best to cite sources all throughout FAQ 11, so if you simply comb through it carefully, you should find everything I'm able to tell you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 28, 2013


    Need a 1948 NMJL card

    > From: Ellen
    >Email: ebbrantleyaol.com
    > Sent: Friday, June 28, 2013 5:14 PM
    > Subject: 1948 NMJL card
    > For my friends 65 th birthday, I want to find a copy of the 1948 card to play with. I checked ebay and couldn't find any. Do you have any ideas? Ellen

    Just one: keep checking eBay. I've also posted this on the Accessories Wanted bulletin board.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 28, 2013


    Teach me how to play Peng Hu, Mo Hu, and Matiao (Origins of dice and domino games, part 2)

    > From: bittorent bittorent
    > Sent: Friday, June 28, 2013 5:44 AM
    > Subject: Peng Hu,Mo Hu and Madiao
    > Can you teach me how to play the card game peng hu,mo hu and madiao(preferably the one from Ming dynasty)?

    I'm sorry, Bit. I don't know how those games were played. Your best bet is to start with http://www.pagat.com/class/money.html, and see the original sources cited in my FAQ 11H.
    Good luck!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 28, 2013


    Tell me which, part 2

    >From: L Flora
    >Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:12 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jong 2
    >Thank you for your answer :)
    >Kind regards,
    >Flora L


    Tell me which set to buy

    > From: L Flora
    > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 9:12 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jong 1
    > Dear Sir,
    > I don't know if you can help me. I am writting from France so please excuse my english.
    > I want to buy a beautiful vintage Mah-Jong in bone and bamboo but I am hesitating beteen two. So Could you tell me which one you think has the better value? The price is around 930 $, the second Mah-Jong can be bought for 1000$ now or around 800$ if the auction don't go too high. The auction is ending soon so I dont' know what to do.
    > They seem similar the flower tiles are different. The case also.
    > I send you attached pictures of the first Mah-Jong
    > Kind regards,
    > Flora L

    > From: L Flora
    > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 9:16 AM
    > Subject: Mah Jong 2
    > Dear Sir,
    > The pictures of the second Mah-Jong.
    > Kind regards,
    > Flora L

    Bonjour, Flora.
    You should not buy either set. The prices are trop expensive! You should not pay more than $300 for either one. (I am talking US dollars.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 27, 2013


    Craftmaster, part 2

    > From: smith
    > Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 5:14 AM
    > Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Set
    > Mr. Sloper,
    > Thank you for your quick response to my questions.
    > Gene Smith


    My Craftmaster set

    >From: smith
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 2:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Set
    >Mr. Sloper:
    >I have a couple of questions about a Mah-Jongg set I found in my Grandfather's attic. I was fortunate to find your website and learned a lot about Mah-Jongg sets. I was amazed at the volume and detail of the information. However, because I'm new to this information, I was unable to adequately answer the following questions regarding my set.
    >· What timeframe was the set produced? (right now I'm thinking 1920s to 1930s)
    >· What is a rough estimate of its value?
    >Hopefully, based on the attached pictures and the completed "Set Valuation Checklist" below, you can answer these questions.
    >Thanks so much in advance.
    >Regards,
    >Gene Smith
    >
    >Set Valuation Checklist
    >1. Contents: This is a "CRAFTMASTER SET" and consists of:
    >- Basic set of 136 tiles (each tile is 1 1/8" H x 3/4" W x 3/32" D) (see attached picture)
    >- 4 Blank tiles (same dimensions)
    >- 4 Manufacturer tiles? containing the words: CRAFTMASTER TILE PATENT APPL. SERIAL NUMBER 640731 SERIES OF 1915
    >- 4 Direction/Wind tiles? lettered: N, W, S and E (each tile is 11/16" H x 17/32" W x 3/32" D)
    >- Set container (cardboard, sliding pocket style) measuring 12 1/2" L x 5 1/4" H x 1" D) (see attached picture)
    >- 6 Bit/Stick patterns with the following quantities (clockwise from top left in picture): 12, 12, 19, 37, 45, 40 (see attached picture)
    >- 1 die
    >2. Condition: Overall condition is FAIR to GOOD with the following defects/omissions noted:
    >- Set container is cardboard and is worn from use and age
    >- Tile color is dull/yellowed (normal or aged?)
    >- Some Bits/Sticks appear to be missing (not all quantities are divisible by 4)
    >- Assume there should be a pair of dice - not just one die
    >- No manual - don't know if one originally came with this set
    >3. Tile Material: Bakelite? Not really sure
    >4. When Set was Made or Purchased: Unsure - currently assuming 1920s to 1930s based on your website
    >5. Tile Dimensions: See #1 above
    >6. How Many Tiles in Set: See #1 above. Also, there are no Joker tiles that I can identify as such
    >7. Additional Items/Pieces in Set: See #1 above
    >8. Set Container: See #1 above and picture
    >9. Container Condition: worn from use and age
    >10. Paper Materials: None. Set container has the words CRAFTMASTER SET on it
    >11. Crak Character Style: Appears to be the older (simpler) style (see picture)
    >12. Bams Picture: Attached
    >13. Dragons Picture: Attached
    >14. Flowers/Seasons Picture: Attached
    >15. Jokers in Set: None - don't know if there should be any

    Hello, Gene. You asked:

    What timeframe was the set produced? (right now I'm thinking 1920s to 1930s)
    1920s, in the height of the mah-jongg craze.

    What is a rough estimate of its value?
    You say it's fair to good. So, maybe $40 -- probably less since the paper instruction manual is missing.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 26, 2013


    Two people made a mistake -- shouldn't the first one be punished or something?

    > From: Erika M
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 1:44 PM
    > Subject: Misnamed tile question-American game
    > Hi! I have a question that came up today. A player threw a 7 dot but called it a 7 crack. Play continued as the next player took her tile until a player said...hey, that was a 7 dot and I needed it. You said crack. But the next player had taken her turn (racked a joker or something).
    > What is the rule on misnamed tiles. I think it is only an issue if someone calls MJ in error with it. Then she pays for the table.
    > Thanks! Erika M

    Hi Erika,
    I took the liberty of categorizing your question as follows: "Two people made a mistake -- shouldn't the first one be punished or something?" But why do you think it fair that only one mistake-maker be punished? Let's analyze. Player A misnamed her discard, so that's one mistake. Then player B never bothered to lift her eyes and see the discard, playing by ear only. That's also a mistake. So you gotta admit, that's two people who made mistakes. So, I don't see why only one of them deserves punishment.
    The "rule on misnamed tiles" is given in Frequently Asked Question 19AY. If you've never been to my website before, you can scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). 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!
    So that covers the lady who misnamed her discard. As for the lady who never bothered to lift her eyes and see the discard for herself, her punishment is that she missed a tile she wanted. Self-imposed punishment.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 25, 2013


    What do you think about pickandrack?

    > From: Meg A
    > Sent: Monday, June 24, 2013 4:48 PM
    > Subject: question
    > Hi Tom,
    > I am wondering what your opinion is of this.
    > We have a player who takes her tile so fast and racks it that you often do not have a chance to call for the tile. I finally got tired of it and asked her to take a pause before she took her chance. How long should I wait? she said very sarcastically. I just think it is a courtesy in playing. What do you think?
    > Thanks.
    > Meg

    Hi, Meg.
    Welcome to my website. I expressed my opinion of "pickandrack" in Frequently Asked Question 19AD. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    I also discussed pickandrack in column 480 (click purple banner atop this page). By the way, NMJL president Ruth Unger agrees with me that pickandrack is aggressive and unkind; she quoted me on it in a yearly bulletin a couple years back.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 24, 2013


    When were these jokers made?

    > From: "sheilah
    > Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2013 8:21 PM
    > Subject: joker age
    > hello
    > I have a set with the jokers that are the etched round symbol, say joker above the symbol
    > these are newer sets, I believe...material looks like bakelite/catalyn/some kind of plastic? and is white/cream
    > paint on jokers are mostly gold.
    > Do you what years these are likely from?

    Hi, Sheila. You're clearly asking about this very common joker type:

    I do not know when that particular joker type was first manufactured; surely sometime after 1971. I am not the expert on sets and manufacturers. You should see if you can find information on CHarli's museum website (there's a link to it in FAQ 4a).
    Then there's the question of why you're asking this. I assume you're trying to determine the age of your mah-jongg set? If so, you can't simply base that determination on joker designs. See FAQ 7G. As for which type of plastic your tiles are, see FAQ 7c3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 22, 2013


    When can I redeem a joker? (part 2)

    > From: Jennifer L D
    > Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2013 8:31 AM
    > Subject: Re: Mahjong Question, Please (having searched your site for the solution, first :)
    > Thank you, Tom! I have purchased the kindle edition of your book.
    > Best,
    > Jennifer


    When can I redeem a joker?

    > From: Jennifer L D
    > Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 11:14 PM
    > Subject: Mahjong Question, Please (having searched your site for the solution, first :)
    > Hello Tom,
    > A mahjong question, please: If someone discards a tile that you call and it is your turn, can you replace a joker from an exposed combination in the same turn?
    > Thank you very much in advance for your reply.
    > Best regards,
    > Jennifer (D

    Hi, Jennifer. I'm thinking that in your search you must have missed FAQ 19M. Read the A to Qs 1 and 2 (it starts, "A: 1, 2. When it is your turn..."). If the wording is unclear, let me know what information is missing (exactly which words do not adequately express the answer), so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 22, 2013


    Origins of dice and domino games that predated mah-jongg

    > From: bittorent bittorent
    > Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 6:50 AM
    > Subject: Mahjong origin
    > Hello there. First of all,I want to say you have awesome website. I love your origin of mahjong site. There' a couple of question I would like to ask.
    > http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq11b.htm
    > I would like to know is that from which dynasty the ye zi and ye zi jiu pai come from.
    > Actually,I'm having a discussion about mahjong origin in this thread/forum and I do use information for your site as reference.
    > http://historum.com/asian-history/57207-origin-mahjong-4.html#post1494305
    > One of the member claim that ye zhi is invented by Chinese astronomer, Zhang Sui which I found is interesting because I've yet to see any English source that says who the creator if ye zhi. I think she get it from Chinese language source. According to her, the primary source come from tongchang princess legend.
    > One more thing,do you mind constant mail from me. I'm really interested with mahjong origin recently.
    >
    > From: bittorent bittorent
    > Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 6:54 AM
    > Subject: Link
    > I forget to mention,I include link in the previous mail even though you said not to. Still,I've already include all the information from my previous mail but I still include the link to that forum in case you interested.

    Hello, anonymous person. You wrote:

    http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq11b.htm
    > I would like to know is that from which dynasty the ye zi and ye zi jiu pai come from.
    That tidbit in FAQ 11B is from a recent (since 2000) publication from Ningbo. You can find more detail in FAQ 11H. Please look in the timeline (FAQ 11H) and I think you'll find it useful.

    I'm having a discussion about mahjong origin in this thread/forum and I do use information for your site as reference.
    > http://historum.com/asian-history/57207-origin-mahjong-4.html
    I guess "zoopiter" must be another of your nicknames, then. Perhaps I'll read the thread sometime. So you are a scholar. Although I teach at a university, I don't think anyone (myself included) would regard me as a scholar.

    One of the member claim that ye zhi is invented by Chinese astronomer, Zhang Sui
    I have heard that the tradition in ancient times in China was to ascribe any and all inventions to some high personage who was alive at the time. So I don't know how much weight one can put in such attributions.

    I think she get it from Chinese language source. According to her, the primary source come from tongchang princess legend.
    I assume you'll be digging that up, then.

    do you mind constant mail from me. I'm really interested with mahjong origin recently.
    I answer any questions that I can. It is best that you check the FAQs before asking me something. There isn't much that I know beyond what's in the FAQs.

    I include link in the previous mail even though you said not to.
    The point of my request about links is that I don't want to have to follow links to get the complete question, and I don't want my readers to have to follow links to understand the question. I don't have an objection to links per se.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 21, 2013


    Erroneous MJ Q's

    > From: Belinda
    > Sent: Thursday, June 20, 2013 9:19 PM
    > Subject: Mah jongg error and joker redemption
    > Hello again Tom,
    > I have read your FAQ 19P but I still need a clarification. A player took a discard, a 4B, and exposed that tile with another 4B and a joker and continued to expose the rest of her hand. This player rarely verbalizes that she wants a tile and rarely actually says "mah jongg"', she usually just takes a tile then discards, or in this case takes a tile, then exposes the rest of her hand for mah jongg. In this case she had no prior exposures. It was determined that she used incorrect suits within her hand and was called dead. One of the players said that all the tiles must be returned to the front of the rack as they were all part of an incorrect Mah Jongg and essentially all exposed at the same time. Another said that since she called for the 4B, that the 4Bs and the joker must stay, allowing the joker to be redeemable. Which scenario is the proper one?
    > Also, once that is decided, does the miscaller discard a tile? Or does the player to the right of the miscaller simply take a tile from the wall?
    > Thanks again,
    > Bee

    Hi, Bee. You wrote:

    One of the players said that all the tiles must be returned to the front of the rack as they were all part of an incorrect Mah Jongg and essentially all exposed at the same time.
    That's correct.

    Another said that since she called for the 4B, that the 4Bs and the joker must stay, allowing the joker to be redeemable.
    That's wrong. The whole hand (regardless of what verbalization player A did not deign to make) was mistakenly completed by the 4B. The whole hand was exposed in the same play, thus it was all exposed erroneously. The first tile was exposed erroneously, until it was joined by its kong mates. The kong was exposed properly, until it was joined by the rest of the hand improperly. It was all done in one turn. It all goes back.

    Also, once that is decided, does the miscaller discard a tile?
    You mean the misnamer? You're confusing me with the word "miscall." See Column 353. Oh wait, there was no misnamer -- you mean Ms. Dead? She's dead! How can she possibly make a play if she's dead??

    Or does the player to the right of the miscaller simply take a tile from the wall?
    That one. Player A made the last move. Read FAQ 19BP.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 20, 2013


    Can I claim a redeemable tile?

    > From: Julie K
    > Sent: Thursday, June 20, 2013 6:53 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If i need one tile for mahj and I have an exposure ( kong)with one joker and someone ( mistakenly) discards the like tile of my exposure can I call that tile and replace it for the joker In My exposure allowing me to use the joker ( mine) for mahj?

    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 ). 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!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 20, 2013


    Can I say mah-jongg if I'm waiting for a single?

    > From: Karen G
    > Sent: Thursday, June 20, 2013 3:24 AM
    > Subject: question on 2013 card
    > Hello,
    > For the hand
    > FF 2013 111 333
    > Can I call for a 2 for Mahjongg?
    > Karen

    Hello, Karen.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19E3. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 20, 2013


    Heavenly hand

    > From: Johanna K
    > Sent: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 5:11 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Should someone be so fortunate as to mah jongg during the charleston, may s/he declare it ?
    > Johanna K

    Johanna, the only player who could possibly win at that point would be the dealer, since she's the only one with 14 tiles. I wrote about this situation (which the Chinese call "heavenly hand") in column 476 and Frequently Asked Question 19BJ. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 19, 2013


    A veritable font of knowledge

    > From: Belinda
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 10:52 AM
    > Subject: Mah jong font
    > Love your site. In a recent post you mentioned a mahjong font that you use for your column.
    > I have been teaching some friends mah jong and they like to use sample hands to discuss what tile they should keep or throw away. We have been doing this randomly which is a lot of work to put the hands into order. I would like to print up some scenarios (similar to your strategy column) instaed and that would be easy with the mah jong font. I have googled and have not found one with numbers on the craks as yours have. Would you tell me where you got your font?
    > Thanks,
    > Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    You can find links to the original Yosh's Laboratory Mahjong font in the main page of the weekly column (click purple banner above) and in FAQ 5 under "other downloads." I laboriously made alterations to the font (adding Western indices to the craks, 1B, winds, dragons -- and adding an American joker tile), so if what you want is the modified font ("MahjongTS2"), you can get that at http://sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 18, 2013


    A joker atop a dead player's rack

    > From: Charlotte B
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:17 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If there is a joker in an exposure and the player is declared dead, is the joker dead as well, or can it be exchanged as play continues?
    > Thank you!
    >
    > From: Charlotte B
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:21 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > So sorry--just found the answer in your book, The Red Dragon & the West Wind, rule 107.
    > Charlotte

    I love it when a visitor finds her own answer! You could have also found it in FAQ 19, of course.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 18, 2013


    I'd love to see numbers on the cracks

    > From: Ellen F
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 3:53 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I love this site and have recommended it to friends. However, I would love to see the addition of numbers on the crack, bamboo, and dot graphics. It would be so much easier to read...
    > Thank you,
    > Ellen

    Hello, Ellen.
    Most of the time, when I show craks (especially when discussing American mah-jongg), the font I use does have Western indices on them.

    See, even if you can't read Chinese, you know that's a 1C, 8C, 6C, 1C, and a pung of South. Just now I randomly checked an old column from 2006 discussing Chinese Official rules, and I saw indices on those craks and winds too. I also put an R on the Red Dragon, even though in real life it's more likely to have a C on it, to make it even more Western-friendly. And a G on the Green, and a Wh on the soap. As for the bams and dots, I have a different philosophy.

    You don't have to be Chinese-challenged to see that that's a 1B, 8B, 6B, 5B to the left of a pung of North. I think it's a bad habit for American players to only look at the indices and never look at the large designs on tiles. If you see a tile like this...

    ...it's dead easy to see that it's a 3D. You don't really need a tiny Arabic numeral 3 in the corner to know that. And I think to put a little "3" in the corner is to give someone a crutch she doesn't need and shouldn't use.

    By the way, you said you'd "love to see numbers on the crack[s]." There are numbers on these tiles:

    Those are the Chinese numbers 10,000, 20,000, and 30,000. See FAQ 19BC.

    One last thing. I just showed you four "pretty" 3D tile images, and I expect someone will repeat the suggestion that I use those images in my weekly columns. The reason I don't (the reason I use the images that I use every week) is that the 2D single-color tiles I use is a font. I can simply type the tiles I want, then color them in my text editor, take a snapshot, and in the column refer to the uploaded snapshot. To use those prettier 3D images would involve typing lengthy HTML code for each and every tile image, instead of just hitting a key once for each tile. It would be a LOT more work to write the column. Here's what "Ellen" looks like when typed in my mah-jongg font:

    It took me a LOT less time to make that than it would take to type the web addresses of five tile images. So I hope you understand now that there is a reason for why I do things the way I do them.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 18, 2013


    Looking for some more info on my ivory set

    > From: adam r
    > Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 6:18 PM
    > Subject: Regarding ivory Mahjong complete set.
    > Hello,
    > I recently acquired what I believe and have been told by someone that claims they have worked the antiques road show a vintage walrus ivory with bamboo set. I was looking for some more info on it and would like to find someone knowledgeable in this.
    > My name is Adam and I can be reached via my email or by phone at [DELETED]
    > I hope to hear from someone and thank you in advance for your time.
    > Adam

    Hello, Adam.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 7P. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 17, 2013


    Enough jokers, but not arrayed properly per card

    > From: Kane L
    > Cc: Klein Susan
    > Sent: Sunday, June 16, 2013 7:41 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I run a Mah-Jongg group, but wasn't there that day, and got an email from one of the players at the table:
    > Today Player "A" had a Mah Jongg. She put up 3 3's, 3 6's, 4 6's and 4 9's with a bunch of jokers. She displayed them incorrectly and then sort of sat back enjoying her victory. We looked at her and told her she had it wrong and she was dead. She accepted it but squawked the whole day that she just put the jokers in the wrong place. We said we understood but she still made the error and we had a right to call her on it.
    > I looked, but couldn't find it anywhere on your website.
    > I am traveling and don't have my card with me, but that is the first place I would have looked.
    > Thanks, as always!!
    > Linda K

    Hi Linda,
    I agree that the hand needs to be displayed correctly. But unless it's a tournament setting, or your group uses very strict rules, it seems unreasonable to just call her dead. I'd say, "it's not right the way you're displaying it. Want to try again?" Then I'd let her reorganize (she needs to figure it out). If she can't figure it out, then (and only then) I might call her dead.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 16, 2013


    Update for FAQ 5

    > From: Victor S
    > Sent: Sunday, June 16, 2013 2:21 AM
    > Subject: Jan Ryu Mon
    > Hi Tom
    > I stumbled upon http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq05.html#JP and you wrote
    > "JanRyuMon won't let you in if your IP address is outside Japan. So you have to use a proxy server in Japan (do NOT ask me how to do that!). You should probably also be fluent in Japanese. (Thanks to Josiah H for the proxy tip.)"
    > And I thought, you should be aware of this :
    > http://www.pdfhost.net/index.php?Action=Download&File=9286e5e49c5b923cf084c929a7a20859
    > Also, I have not had IP-Issues in a long time.
    > Cheers,
    > Victor.

    Hi, Victor. When I went to update FAQ 5, I found an odd thing: I couldn't find the word "proxy" in my cached copy. In mid-February, Nicholas C had written me with a tip that made Josiah's tip moot, but apparently although I had replaced Josiah's tip with Nicholas', I had never uploaded it to the Yahoo server. Maybe it also had something to do with the two times the site was hacked, or the upload just fell through the cracks. Anyway, the FAQ has been fixed now, thanks to you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 16, 2013


    Called her dead for picking out of turn, part 2

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2013 9:00 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom, many thanks!
    >Re: "See, I wouldn't have called her dead -- I would have let her put it back on the wall. I'm so sorry if it's my words that made this happen!"
    >No need to apologize. I had a fun time at the tournament -- and considered it a good learning experience. Thanks also for changing the FAQ language -- so I don't read it later and get confused again!
    >By the way, I searched on-line and found that there is a death-penalty-for-picking-out-of-turn rule at some tournaments. (But, not at the tournament I attended.) Now that I know it's sometimes a tournament rule -- and not an NMJL rule -- I'll have to watch for it at future tournaments.
    >Thanks again,
    >Alice

    I think it's a shame that the tournaments all use their own rules. Gladys Grad of Mahjongg Madness is trying to get her Mah Jongg Master Points system established as the tournament standard rule set. I wrote about it in my "Mah Jongg Madness Tale," and you can read more about it at mahjonggmasterpoints.com. Glad you're not upset at me for leading you astray!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 15, 2013


    Called her dead for picking out of turn

    > From: Alice S
    > Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 5:43 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Hi, Tom,
    > Many thanks for creating such a great website.
    > I have some questions related to your FAQ 19 AA, which states that "Players may be called dead for picking out of turn or for certain other actions."
    > This rule is also covered in your book ("The Red Dragon & the West Wind", an excellent resource if ever there was one). On page 63, it says that the death penalty applies to "picking ahead or playing out of turn".
    > My questions are:
    >
    > 1. When is the death-penalty-for-picking-out-of-turn rule applicable? (Is it only for certain tournaments -- or is it an NMJL rule?)
    >
    > 2. What is the source of the rule? (I couldn't find it in the NMJL rule book. Did I miss it in the book -- or was it in a bulletin? Or, is it a typical tournament rule, but not an NMJL rule?)
    >
    > I played in a tournament recently where I was told that this rule did NOT exist. (I didn't argue, but I knew I had seen it in writing before, so I checked your book when I got home.) The written tournament rules were silent on this situation.
    > The scenario was: I was West. It was my turn. Before I could reach for the wall, East took a tile from the wall. While she was racking it, I explained that it was my turn and that she had picked out of turn and should be dead. She agreed to stop playing. After I won the game, East contacted the tournament director who agreed with her that there is no such rule. Accordingly, I was declared dead for calling East dead in error. I ended up with zero points instead of the forty points (plus, a tournament bonus for having a special hand) that I would have earned if I hadn't been declared dead.
    > Clearly, I agree that the tournament director's decision is final. No argument there. Being called dead is a good learning experience. But, I would like to know when this rule might apply in the future -- so I don't make a similar mistake.
    > When we play at home, if a player picks out of turn, we usually just allow the player to put the tile back without penalty. I was surprised that that would be the rule in tournaments -- because the erring player has a clear advantage by having looked at a tile that belongs to another player. Seems like there should be some sort of penalty. (But, I don't make the rules! I'm just trying to follow them.)
    >
    > Any advice gratefully appreciated,
    > Alice S.

    Hi, Alice.
    So sorry for the delay in replying! I decided to clean out my spam folder this morning and found your questions from Thursday:

    When is the death-penalty-for-picking-out-of-turn rule applicable? Is it only for certain tournaments -- or is it an NMJL rule?)
    It would be a valid death challenge if the play was not corrected immediately, resulting in one or more players having missed a turn, in such a way that makes it impossible to undo. See FAQ 9 for more about errors and when they can be undone and who should suffer when an error occurs.

    What is the source of the rule? (I couldn't find it in the NMJL rule book. Did I miss it in the book -- or was it in a bulletin? Or, is it a typical tournament rule, but not an NMJL rule?)
    I'm guilty of having pulled something out of the air to use as an example in that sentence. Just now when I read your email and where you quoted me, I thought, "oops, that doesn't sound quite right." I can (as I did above) come up with an example in which picking out of turn could result in death, but offhand I can't remember any instances of someone being declared dead for picking out of turn. Accordingly, I have altered FAQ 19AA.

    I was West. It was my turn. Before I could reach for the wall, East took a tile from the wall. While she was racking it, I explained that it was my turn and that she had picked out of turn and should be dead.
    See, I wouldn't have called her dead -- I would have let her put it back on the wall. I'm so sorry if it's my words that made this happen!

    She agreed to stop playing. After I won the game, East contacted the tournament director
    Don't you hate when they do that? If she had an objection, she should have waved over the judge immediately.

    who agreed with her that there is no such rule. Accordingly, I was declared dead for calling East dead in error.
    See now, THAT is not an official rule. Calling someone dead for calling someone dead is a tournament rule.

    the erring player has a clear advantage by having looked at a tile that belongs to another player. Seems like there should be some sort of penalty.
    You'd think, but no. There's no penalty for seeing a tile.

    Again: sorry for not seeing your email sooner. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 15, 2013


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

    > From: irene z
    > Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2013 1:25 PM
    > Subject: quick question
    > I understand that if a player miscalls a tile and a person needed the tile for mah jongg that the player that misnamed the tiles must pay the mah jongg winner 4 x the amount of what the card says. Now if the player only needed the miscalled tile for an exposure and she already put up her tiles on the rack and everyone has seen her exposure and can figure out what she is playing - what happens to the person who miscalled the tile?
    > Irene

    Irene, you're asking "A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now?"
    Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," 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 (including the one you have asked today) are found in FAQ #19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Please go to FAQ 19 now and look for your answer.
    You should also read FAQ 9 - see my philosophies about what should happen when someone makes a mistake. FAQ 19 covers what happens to the misnamer. But FAQ 9 talks about what happens to the person who foolishly exposes her own tiles without ever bothering to actually raise her eyes above her own tiles.
    And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, every group really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, might I add, my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 14, 2013


    Pictures, part 3

    > From: Lisa A.
    > Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 10:29 AM
    > Subject: One last question...
    > Tom,
    > Is there anything significant (date, origin, value) to the weird bams that this set contains?
    > Maybe it's not weird, but I haven't seen any other bams like these, and you probably have.
    > (see original email, picture of full set of tiles)
    > Thanks, and sorry for bugging you so much.
    > R/Lisa

    I haven't seen 1Bs like those before. It's consistent with the attractive and high-quality art/engraving on your tiles. I said before that your tiles were attractive, and the value I gave you was based on that and on the attractiveness of the box. You might want to see if you can find more information on CHarli's site (there's a link in FAQ 4a).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 12, 2013


    Pictures, part 2

    > From: Lisa A.
    > Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 5:52 AM
    > Subject: Re: Request Mah Jong Set Valuation
    > Tom,
    > Thank you so much for acting on this so quickly. I didn't want to pummel you with pictures at first, but I've attached a few more pictures of the booklet. There is nothing printed on the inside front cover, but I'm adding a picture of the first page and the inside of the last page & cover.
    > I am reading up now on casein, since that was not one of the primary choices, but I see some info on other pages on your site. If it makes a difference, the photos were edited for clarity, including exposure correction due to poor lighting, which changed the colors. The tiles are definitely more orange than yellow. I know monitors look different, but when I view your website, the photos of the dragons and flowers are the closest to true - not yellow like the other photos.
    > If I could ask one thing, to please remove my contact information on your website, especially my last name & phone number. If you need an email address, please use [deleted]@hotmail.com (vice the earthlink address). Thank you.
    > R/Lisa A.

    Hi, Lisa.
    1. Okay, so the booklet is a Parker Brothers edition. Definitely a later version. It's possible that Parker Brothers issued a set with casein tiles in a fancy carved box, with a wooden dice coffin and both sticks and chips, but Mahjongmuseum set #225 (http://www.mahjongmuseum.com/mj225.htm) indicates that carved boxes were made in 1923, and set 225 came with bone/ebony tiles (not plastic). Your tiles appear to have been made after that.
    2. I could tell that some of the photos had been "edited for clarity" as you say.
    3. I didn't need any of your personal information to be in the body of your communications - I prefer if it's not present. When it's easy to edit out, I usually edit it out unless it appears that the writer wants the information to remain. It's now been excised.
    Thanks for the donation! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 12, 2013


    Pictures of auntie's set

    > From: Lisa A.
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 9:55 AM
    > Subject: Pictures #1
    > 5 pictures attached
    > REALTOR®

    > From: Lisa A.
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 9:52 AM
    > Subject: Request Mah Jong Set Valuation
    > Hello Tom-
    > Thanks for having a great website and providing such great info! Your book is terrific, too, although I lent it to somebody and now that I think about it, I haven't gotten it back...but that's another issue.
    > I'm attaching a description of a relative's mah jong set that I need to reimburse her for...unless it turns out to be worth over $1000 which some people have told her. I don't have that kind of money so I'll have to send it back to her.
    > Hopefully you can open the document, but please let me know if you can't open it and I'll figure out another way to get you the information. I use LibreOffice instead of MS products and that is an issue for some people.
    > The pictures are individually smaller than 2MB as you requested, but my email program limits the size of my attachments so I will have to send multiple emails to get them to you. I hope this isn't too bothersome. If you need better/additional pictures for the valuation or for your website, I'd be glad to send them to you.
    > R/Lisa Avila
    > REALTOR®

    >MAH JONG SET for Valuation
    >Lisa A
    >This set was purchased in the mid-60's by my husband's aunt who worked at Gimbel's in San Francisco. She had believed that it was an ivory set, not having taken a close look at it for years, but based upon the circumstances where she bought it. I am the only relative who actually plays Mah Jong, and would like to keep it as an heirloom, however the owner is in a financial pinch and selling the mah jong set would help her out. The valuation is to determine a fair price for me to purchase the set from her.
    >(1) FACTUAL DETAILED LIST
    >- Carved wooden box with five drawers
    >- 150 Bakelite tiles
    >- Tiny dice in wood container
    >- Counting sticks & Colored plastic chips
    >- Red Babcock booklet
    >(2) CONDITION OF ALL COMPONENTS
    >- Carved wooden box with five drawers: see #9
    >- 150 Bakelite tiles: good to very good. The tiles have obviously been played with. About a dozen or so have scratches that are noticeable (see photo of craks #11 for examples – I chose the scratched ones from the craks for this photo)
    >- Tiny dice in (bamboo?) container: excellent
    >- Counting sticks: except for the two broken ones, good. One has a noticeable missing chip at one end. A few of them have small partial chips in the ends that can be seen on close inspection from one side. However, the manufacturing quality of the stamping is only fair, and interestingly, the ones that are smudged or weakly stamped are identical on the reverse side. (cardboard box there were in: fair)
    >- Colored plastic chips: excellent (cardboard box they were in: poor, falling apart, at some point held together with tape) Exception is one white chip with scratches on one side (can be seen in the photo, see #7)
    >- Red Babcock rules booklet: very good (back cover has a crease in it, appears used)
    >(3) WHAT ARE THE TILES MADE OF?
    >After studying your website, I believe them to be Bakelite. The owner has some other Bakelite items (costume jewelry, I believe) that she says appears to be identical and has some knowledge of this sort of thing (unlike me, being born in the mid-60's) The edges around the sides are rounded, however the edges along the top and bottom are sharp. Have not tried any test on them.
    >(4) HISTORY
    >Purchased by the owner as a new set from Gimbel's department store in San Francisco in the mid-60's. It would not be unusual for Gimbels to have a one-of-a-kind object for sale; just because it's from a department store in this case does not mean that there were shelves and shelves of them, or that it was necessarily brand-new manufactured. She believes she paid about $100 for it at the time. It has mostly been on display or in storage, but the pieces were occasionally played with (thus the broken sticks and perhaps unknown missing parts) – although nobody has actually played Mah Jong with it that she knows of.
    >(5) DIMENSIONS OF THE TILES
    >Barely 1” long, 7/8” wide, and 9/16” tall.
    >(6) HOW MANY TILES?
    >The basic 136-tile set is compete. Also has 8 flowers, 2 jokers, and 4 blank tiles. 150 total
    >(7) OTHER PIECES?
    >- Tiny dice in wooden container: dice measure about 1/4” cubes, seem to be plastic, sides are marked with 2 black dots, 6 black dots, 5 black dots, blank, 3 blank dots, and 4 red dots. The container has a rounded sliding top and measures about 1 1/2” long, 1/2” wide, and 1/2” tall. The rounded top and the grain makes me think of bamboo, but I think it's just balsa wood – it's very light.
    >- Counting sticks: 26 2-red dot sticks, 27 3-black/1-red dot sticks, 22 + 1 broken 8-red dot sticks, 3 + 1 broken 6-red/6-black alternating dot sticks. The sticks measure approximately 2 1/2” long by 5/16” wide. Plastic, I think.
    >- Colored plastic chips: 2 solid yellow chips, 1 solid burgundy chip, 22 red, 24 white, 20 blue, 30 green chips with a hole in them.
    >(8) WHAT KIND OF CONTAINER & HOW MANY DRAWERS?
    >The set is in a deeply carved wooden box measuring 10 1/8” wide by 7 1/8” deep by 7 1/8” tall plus 2 1/8” tall by 6” wide handle. The four sides, the top and the handle are all carved; the bottom is flat and states “Made in China”. The front side slides up and out, revealing the five drawers. The first four drawers are labeled 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the brass handle, while the 5th is labeled “China”.
    >(9) CONDITION OF THE CONTAINER AND BRASS DOODADS
    >The carved sides and top of the box are in fine condition – it just needs dusting or cleaning and a polish and will look new. The bottom is scuffed as to be expected by something this age that has been handled. The brass looks fine for this age. It might be able to be polished, but I don't know if it is wise to do so.
    >(10) ANY PAPER MATERIALS AND CONDITION?
    >- Red Babcock “Rules for Mah-Jongg” booklet: 16 pages, copyright 1923
    >(11) WHICH KIND OF CRAKS?
    >“Later” kind – with the more elaborate crak character.
    > (12) ONE BAM
    >(13) DRAGONS
    > (14) FLOWERS
    >(15) HOW MANY JOKERS?
    >Two

    Hi, Lisa.
    You say the set was purchased new in the mid-sixties. That sounds about right, given that it has just two jokers. But it's weird that the yellow tiles come in that fancy-carved box, with both sticks and circular chips, a twenties-style dice coffin, and a Babcock Little Red Book from the twenties. It's a kludged-together set, but someone at Gimbel's must have thought that was a good idea, like a deluxe thing to do. Unless it got kludged at some other time in its history.
    The tiles are not Bakelite. They're probably casein (what the American collectors call "Chinese Bakelite" which is a misnomer).
    That booklet looks like a later edition (not an early edition). You can look inside and find out which edition it is -- it's printed inside the front cover. Later editions are valued less than the earlier editions. The booklet is not original to the tiles. It could be sold separately for $15-20 depending on the edition.
    Because it has only 150 tiles, the set is not useful for players of American mah-jongg. If you can get some extra matching tiles you can sticker, the set's value would increase (you would have more luck finding someone to buy it).
    The tiles are attractive and the box is attractive, so buyers are likely to find the set desirable. I think it's worth more than $100 now, but not enough to really help financially pinched auntie. In its present condition it's worth less than $200, but if stickered jokers were added and the box polished up, it might be over $300. So I think it's worth trying to find more tiles. Which leads me to my sign-off slogan...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 11, 2013


    Why say "same" instead of "joker"?

    > From: "lindazuccarello
    > Sent: Friday, June 7, 2013 9:04 AM
    > Subject: just curious
    > Hi Tom,
    > I read your response to Carolyn (June 6). I was wondering--what is the reason, when discarding a joker, you advise us to say "same" instead of "joker"? Thanks for your great website--I've learned so much!
    > Linda

    Hi, Linda.
    I explained this last year, and two years before that, but it wasn't in the FAQs (and it wasn't even in a column). So I've just now added this to FAQ 8 and FAQ 19.
    It's encouraged to say "same" because the practice encourages other players to keep their eyes open, not only their ears. You can even just say the name of the previous tile (you don't even have to say "same"). And there is a strategic reason for not just saying "joker." An opponent who is foolishly only listening, and not looking, might think you had discarded a joker, and will scan the table looking for it, then might even ask what just happened. So by saying "same," you have played a little game with her head, maybe thrown her off her game a little. That's good strategy against that kind of player.
    By the way, did you know that the subject line "just curious" is a hallmark of a spam? I just found that out, when I found your email in the spam folder where it had a long 4-day weekend!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 11, 2013


    Winds-Dragons #3 and #4

    > From: Michael K
    > Sent: Friday, June 7, 2013 6:04 PM
    > Subject: W-D hands 3 and 4
    > Are the pungs on each of these hands to be made up of the same tiles (i.e. 6 of a kind), or can they be different tiles (3 and 3, same suit)?
    > Thanks.
    > Michael S. K

    Hi, Michael. "Yes and no and yes."
    Are the pungs on each of these hands to be made up of the same tiles (i.e. 6 of a kind)
    Yesss... but in two pungs (not one sextet).
    or can they be different tiles
    No.
    (3 and 3, same suit)?
    Yes.

    Those hands weren't explained in FAQ 16/2013 earlier today, but they are now (I copied them from FAQ 16/2009). If you want more details on those hands, go to FAQ 16.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 7, 2013


    My Chinese set from Viet Nam

    > From: Cyrel P
    > Sent: Thursday, June 6, 2013 6:51 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > My ex-husband brought back a Mah Jongg set from Viet Nam, a few years ago (6-7yrs.)
    > I believe it is a Chinese set from the Q &A on your site-
    > 144 tiles (8 are flowers) and 4 blanks total 148 tiles, uniform, thick,probably plastic--
    > Interesting wood case, decorative with the inside lined with MJ tile pictures.
    > I also have the rule book: Mah-Jongg “Chinese game of Four Winds”
    > I can e-mail pictures to your site--
    > I would like to know what the set is worth and where I can sell it—
    > I sincerely appreciate your help,
    > CJ Phillips Lone Tree, Colorado

    Hi, CJ.
    You haven't given me enough information. You apparently sent that 2nd photo to show me that your tiles are bigger than "standard" tiles, but it would have been a better photo if instead of another tile of unknown size, you'd photographed that tile with a ruler (or, better, just told me the dimensions of your tiles). I assume they're the size of either big Chinese tiles or even bigger Vietnamese tiles (see Frequently Asked Question 7A). You also didn't tell me about the condition of your tiles, your case, and all the other bits and pieces. You should read FAQ 7B, 7D, and 7E, and of course FAQ 7H, so you know what information I need to give you a valuation. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Oh, and as for where to sell it, read FAQ 7N.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 6, 2013


    Been searching for weeks!

    > From: Rory S
    > Sent: Thursday, June 6, 2013 6:06 PM
    > Subject: Question: Cases/Tiles
    > Hello,
    > I'm hoping you can help me out, I've been searching for the past several weeks and have had no luck at all. To give you a bit of background, I've been interested in Mahjong for a few years (Saki on Crunchyroll re-introduced me to it) and I've recently learned several of my friends are also interested. We have decided to find a tile set and have run into some issues, I've searched every vendor on your page as well as Ebay, Amazon, Gammonvillage and a variety of other vendors.
    > I am looking for one of two things:
    > 1) A hard (aluminum would be best) case for a Chinese standard size set
    > or
    > 2) An American set with two-tone tiles that uses standard (red, green, black) colors but has Chinese dragons (the characters, not images). I would prefer it also have numbers but that isn't a deal breaker since we can always print cheat-sheets for anyone who doesn't have them memorized already.
    > I have found several sets that meet most of what I'm after for a reasonable price but it seems like no one has Chinese size cases except for the cheap cardboard and vinyl ones they come with and the people I've talked to said American cases will not work for the Chinese tiles. If you can help me I would greatly appreciate it, this has been very frustrated and I'm having a hard time compromising on something I hope to use very frequently...
    > Thanks,
    > Rory

    Hi, Rory. I think you're going to have to do this in stages. First, buy some tiles that make you happy. Then, if those tiles do not come in a case that makes you happy, look for the case in the aluminum case world (and not in the mah-jongg world).

    Tiles. It's not hard to find tiles with Western indices and Chinese dragons. If you want an American set in two tones like you say, I know that the American sets made by KFC (see http://sloperama.com/hk/hkmj.htm, bottom of the page - I don't remember why, but I omitted the name of that manufacturer from the site, probably at their request) come with Chinese dragons. Way back when, I know Mahjong Maven carried KFC sets. You say you've already contacted all the vendors in FAQ 4a. I think you should give them another call, with a modified request. Just tiles, without this special case you seek. If you're not specifically interested in American sets, you should start with the vendors whose focus is not the American mah-jongg audience. By which I mean Yellow Mountain and MahjongMart, who are likely to have a wider selection of un-American sets. But all the vendors surely sell un-American sets as well as the American variety, and as long as you're just looking for attractive tiles without demanding that they be in a specific type of case, you should be able to find something fairly easily.

    A case. I agree with you that those vinyl and cardboard cases leave something to be desired. I assume you realize that the problem with American cases is that they are made to contain not only tiles but also racks. I gather that you are not planning to play American style. If you don't want racks in your set, get your tiles and put them into four trays (if you buy an Asian set, it probably comes with four trays), and arrange them like this:

    Now, see that space between the two left trays and the two right trays? Your dice and chips and extra tiles (if any) go into that space. Like this:

    If your set didn't come with a fifth tray that fills that middle space, you can make one. Now just push them together snugly and measure. Those are the interior dimensions of the case you want to buy. Now go online and Google aluminum cases. You should find a lot of options. If you don't find one that's exactly right, find one that's just a little larger. Then you can pad the inside of the case with cardboard, or sheets of foam. I padded a case with thick cardboard once; to make it look nice, I printed out a Chinese pattern and laminated it onto the cardboard. Looked great, and held the tiles snugly in place..

    Last thought: I have a washizu style set in an aluminum case (the case has a clear front so you can see the tiles in the case). I talked about it column 438 (http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column438j.htm), but the Ace of Heartz website is dead, and I don't know if the company still exists. Google results I just tried seem to indicate that it doesn't, but I didn't spend more than a few seconds trying. You might have good results with a bit more work than I put in just now.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 6, 2013


    ABC, easy as 123 ♪♫

    > From: Carolyn C
    > Sent: Thursday, June 6, 2013 12:30 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q&A
    > Hi Tom,
    > I don't have a question. Just wanted to thank you for your incredible site. I made a donation as a way of thanking you for the wealth of information I have gathered from the website.
    > Sixteen women at my Synagogue recently enrolled in our "Introduction to Mah Jongg" class, which we ran based on the Sandberg book. I wasn't a student, but one of the assistants. So I got to see what confused our students the most.
    > I came back and studied your FAQs and came up with the attached summary, which I titled "Mah Jongg ABCs". I think it will help me answer all their questions as we continue to play and learn the game.
    > Thanks again for sharing your knowledge,
    > Carolyn C
    > Sisterhood Past President,
    > Beth El Hebrew Congregation, Alexandria, Virginia
    >1 Attachment 207.3KB
    >Mah Jongg ABCs.pdf

    Hi, Carolyn.
    Thank you very much for your donation! I read over your ABCs and I have some notes:
    Your description of the Blind Pass is incorrect. A blind pass does not necessarily have to be all three tiles from the neighboring player's pass.
    Your description of Jokers contains an error. It's actually recommended to say "same" when discarding a joker. (Saying "joker" is permitted.)
    In your description of Zero, you say that a 201x is a kong. It is not. See your definition of a kong.
    I hope your 16 students are enjoying (or did enjoy) the class. My 4-week class at American Jewish University just ended today.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 6, 2013


    Where can I find two enrobed tiles?

    > From: "Steven Weinberg, Ph.D."
    >Email: steve@bdclabs.com
    > Sent: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 3:18 PM
    > Subject: FW: need help finding the following two enrobed tiles to complete my set
    > I am looking for one “S Wind” and one “3 Bamboo” to complete my set. Pictures are included. If this can be posted, it would be greatly appreciated.
    > In addition, any help or guidance where to look to find these tiles would also be greatly appreciated.
    > Steve Weinberg

    Where to look is easy. I'm posting this on the Tiles Wanted bulletin board. If you're reading this on the Q&A bulletin board, find the link to the Tiles Wanted BB and click it -- when you get to the Tiles Wanted board, don't scroll down, just read the "buyers" information. Matthew Shim has a lot of tiles, and so does the NMJL. Also, many sellers of sets also carry loose tiles, so you can try the Tiles For Sale board and the Sets For Sale board and FAQ 4a (get contact info of sellers, and then contact them). There are links all over the site. Good luck! You're going to need it, because your tiles look very rare and hard to match.
    May the tiles literally be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 5, 2013


    2013 dragons hand, episode 5

    >From: "deanh
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 1:33 AM
    >Subject: 2013 dragons hand, vol. 5J
    >Hi, Tom
    >The card says:
    >FFFF DDD 2013 DDD (Any 2 Dragons, 2 or 3 Suits)
    >I know this is a stretch, but do the dragons have to be different? Is FFFF DDJ 2013 DDJ allowed?
    >It doesn't seem right, but to be hyper-literal, the card says "Any 2 Dragons" , not  "Any 2 different Dragons".
    >On the other hand, does "2 or 3 Suits" limit how far I can stretch this - would  FFFF DDJ 2013 DDJ  not be allowed?
    >Thanks,   
    > Dean

    Hi, Dean. You wrote:

    do the dragons have to be different? Is FFFF DDJ 2013 DDJ allowed?
    >It doesn't seem right, but to be hyper-literal, the card says "Any 2 Dragons" , not  "Any 2 different Dragons".
    I think that being hyper-literal, "any 2 dragons" means exactly "any TWO dragons," not "two pungs of 1 dragon." If I was asked to judge this at a tournament, I would say it has to be two (not one) dragons. I think the Leagues' clear intent is that the two dragons not be alike. If you want to confirm your interpretation of hyper-literality, you should write to the League.

    does "2 or 3 Suits" limit how far I can stretch this - would  FFFF DDJ 2013 DDJ  not be allowed?
    That's one suit, Dean. Unless you can tell me which suit flowers belong to. The only reason flowers are shown in blue on the card (blue being the color of the third suit in a three-suit hand) is that the card is printed using only three colors of ink. If there was a fourth color, black would be used for flowers and winds. And maybe zeroes. The parenthetical wording clearly requires that this hand not be made in just one suit.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    I plead the June 5th, 2013


    Yelda lives

    The emails from Doris today, and from Donna on May 14 (below) revived a long-dormant memory in my little gray cells. I recalled that I'd written some forgotten columns about "Yelda," a fictional player who's always right and never wrong. A quick check of the column index and I found them: you can read about Yelda in columns 387 (November 16, 2008) and 416 (July 26, 2009). The columns can be accessed by clicking the purple banner atop this page.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and these Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    June 4, 2013


    2013 dragons hand, vol. 4

    > From: Doris F
    > Sent: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 5:29 PM
    > Subject: mah jongg question
    > We had a disagreement today about the last hand under 2013.
    > Three of us who are newer players thought the small print meant that there could be only two suits. The hand displayed had 4 Fs, 3 green dragons, 3 red dragons and the 2, 1 and 3 were cracks. Our 30 year player said that there must be three suits. That the 2013 would be one suit, the dragons would be the two other suits. Some of us voted to give the had to the player. Were we right or wrong?
    > Thanks.
    > Doris

    Hi, Doris.
    Welcome to my website. I must say, the three of you who are newer players have an excellent grasp of the meaning of the English-language phrase, "2 or 3 Suits". That doesn't mean that the 30-year veteran player will accept anything you rookies say, of course (get real!). You should read Frequently Asked Question 16.
    And you can also scroll down and read the previous three Q&As about this hand (use Control-F and type "2013 dragons hand" to find them, or scroll down to April 11 and farther down to March 27).
    To read FAQ 16, 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!
    Oh. And the three of you outnumber the 30-year veteran player, so when she refuses to accept this ruling and insists that you should call the League, tell her she should contact the League herself (and she should read FAQ 19BN to understand why she should write to them, not call them). She won't buy that either, though (I'm just havin' fun with ya).
    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
    June 4, 2013


    Have you considered RSS feeds?

    > From: "MillersInTexas
    > Sent: Monday, June 3, 2013 7:16 PM
    > Subject: RSS feed
    > Hi Tom,
    > I hope all is well with you!
    > I was writing with a suggestion I hope you find helpful.
    > Your weekly strategy column is perfect for syndication on an RSS feed... have you ever considered it?
    > Anyway, hope the tiles you draw are lucky!
    > Scott Miller

    Hi, Scott.
    I never had much success even using RSS feeds (as a consumer, I mean, not as a publisher). Maybe I was using the wrong platform or misunderstood how it was supposed to work. Since I had trouble even using it, I have not felt inspired to go to the trouble of learning how to execute my own RSS feeds.
    Syndication, though, is something I pursued many years back and long since gave up on. SO, I thank you for pointing me in the direction of syndication via RSS -- Googling that phrase turns up some interesting results, and it might turn out to be within my technical zone.
    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
    June 3, 2013


    i inherited a Ivory mahjong set

    > From: Sapphire
    > Sent: Monday, June 3, 2013 7:19 PM
    > Subject: Mahjong set
    > Hi i inherited a Ivory mahjong set with the table, how do i get it valued
    > Sent from my iPhone

    Hello, Sapphire. Welcome to my website. You should give me the information requested in Frequently Asked Question 7H (I can't give you a valuation without information), and you should do the "Is It Ivory" checklist in FAQ 7C2 (I think it's unlikely that your tiles are ivory). And you'll need to send me larger photos than the ones you sent this time -- and please don't send them from your iPhone again (I assume that's why your three photos all had the same filename, which adds to the work I have to do to prepare your question and my answer for posting here). And don't send me any unnecessary photos (like that third photo you sent me, of the little table with some kind of red round things, and the zebra skin bongo drums) -- I can only valuate mah-jongg sets. Not antiques or curios.

    To read FAQ 7H and FAQ 7C2, look up and left. The FAQs 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
    June 3, 2013


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      Color key


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