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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
3. Books on Mah-Jongg
  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
4b Lots O' Links!
5. Computer MJ
6. "Rosetta Stone"
7.
  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
  7c. What's It Made Of?
  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
  -   7c3. One Word: Plastics
  7d. Bits And Pieces
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  7n. Tips For Sellers
  7o. Cleaning & Restoring
  7p. "Tell Me Anything"
  7q. "I Need Blank Tiles!"
  7r. "I Need Jokers!"
  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
  7t. DIY Joker Stickers
  7u. Manufacturers
8. Strategy
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10. MJ For Dummies
11. History of Mah-Jongg
   11a. Definitions, sources
   11b. Precursor games
   11c. Who created MJ
   11d. Earliest MJ writings
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   11f. Proto-MJ & CC
   11h. History timeline
12.
13. Fewer Than 4 Players?
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   13c. 3P/2P Japanese MJ
   13d. I Dunno, I'm Just Starting
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14. Table Rules
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16. The NMJL Card
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25. Can't Win Japanese Majan
26. Mah-Jongg Teaching Tips

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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

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

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

  • If you have a question about the NMJL card, please read FAQ 16. (See links at left. Look for the "American" icon: pointing to it.)

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  • If you are seeking a "Mah-Jong Solitaire" tile-matching game, please read FAQ 12.(See links at left.)

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  • Consec. #6

    > From: Byron M
    > Sent: Monday, December 30, 2013 2:43 PM
    > Subject: 2013 card
    > consecutive Run #6
    > 111 222 111 222 DD
    > can the runs be different for the different suits
    > ex. 111 222 555 666 DD
    > Thanks for the help

    Hi, Byron.
    Read the parenthetical on the card. It says "any 2 consec. nos." - that means you can only use two different numbers in the hand, and one of the numbers has to follow consecutively from the other. Whatever consecutive numbers you use in one suit, you have to use the same consecutive numbers in the other suit. Always read the parenthetical on the card, because the color-coded symbolical representation of the hand can't always tell the whole story.
    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
    December 30, 2013


    Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile?

    > From: "meyerink914
    > Sent: Monday, December 30, 2013 2:14 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I was playing the 2013 card. 369.
    > 3 three dots, 3 six dots, 4 nine bams and 4 nine cracks. I had exposed 3 nine cracks and a joker. One of the players discarded a nine crack not realizing I had put a joker in my exposure. I was waiting for a nine crack, a six dot or a joker For Mah Jongg. Could I have picked up that discarded 9crack, substituted the joker in the exposure for the six dot I needed since I only had two in my hand, for Mah Jongg.
    > Thanks for clarifying this for me.
    > Anne M

    Hi, Anne.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19-G2. 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!
    Every group (even better: 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
    December 30, 2013


    Donation and appreciation

    > From: JAN H via PayPal
    > Sent: Monday, December 30, 2013 1:33 PM
    > Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from JAN H
    > PayPal
    > Hello Thomas Sloper,
    > This email confirms that you have received a donation ... from JAN H. You can view the transaction details online.
    > Message: I hope you don't get tired of doing this service for us. I really appreciate what you do and it has helped me so much in the past. I'm still learning every week from you.
    > Sincerely,
    > PayPal

    Thank you very much, Jan! I used to just accept donations in private, but I'm hoping posting them here might encourage more donations. Hope you don't mind, and thanks 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
    December 30, 2013


    Donation with appreciation 2

    > From: "tracyc
    > Sent: Saturday, December 28, 2013 2:20 PM
    > Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Tracy C
    > I felt guilty that I couldn't give you more! I look at an annual donation to your site like purchasing a mah jongg strategy book on Amazon once a year :) (I sent $10 last year, too.) And if we Kansas teachers ever see a raise again, I will certainly boost my contribution to your cause in the future. Money well-spent!
    > Honestly, your site is fantastic, and you clearly spend quite a bit of time coming up with thoughtful columns to keep readers challenged.
    > Everyone who reads your column should consider making an annual donation as a "thank you."
    > Your efforts are greatly appreciated.
    > Really :)
    > Tracy

    Aw, shucks!


    Does a pung or kong have to include a natural tile? (FAQ 19L)

    > From: Carol T
    > Sent: Saturday, December 28, 2013 10:13 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Can you declare a pung or kong with all jokers--not a tile in that suit.

    Hello, Carol.
    Welcome to my website. 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. READ THE WHOLE FAQ, PLEASE! Make sure you get the complete answer to your question. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Every group (even better: 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
    December 28, 2013


    Donation with appreciation

    rom: Tracy C via PayPal
    > Sent: Friday, December 27, 2013 10:36 PM
    > Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Tracy C
    > PayPal
    > Hello Thomas Sloper,
    > This email confirms that you have received a donation ... from Tracy C. You can view the transaction details online.
    > Message: Hi Tom - Thanks for your weekly strategy column. I haven't had a chance to check it out in several months, but as a teacher home on winter break this week, I've been through about the past 10-12 columns this week. They're great! Thank again, Tracy in Kansas
    > Sincerely,
    > PayPal

    Thank you, Tracy! It's been a while since I received a donation. In the past, I replied privately to donations, but your words of appreciation are appreciated and I wanted to share them with my readers at http://sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm -- Who knows, maybe it'll encourage more donations. Hope you don't mind. Thanks 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
    December 28, 2013


    Is it a rule?

    rom: Michele C
    > Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013 3:11 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hi Tom,
    > Thanks for all the work you do on this site. It's been a great way for me to learn and get rule clarity. I've checked the FAQ's and your past columns, but couldn't find anything on passing two identical tiles during a Charleston. So, for instance, if someone passed two red dragons, or two 6 dots in addition to one other tile. I know that strategically it's not a good thing to do, but is it allowed? My mother says it's a rule that you can't pass two of the same tile unless it's the result of a blind pass. My friend says that it is not a rule and is allowable. Who is right?
    > Thanks again!

    Hi, Michele.
    Your mother is wrong. There is no rule against passing a pair in the Charleston. Look in the official rulebook -- you won't find such a rule in there. Look on the back of the card -- you won't find it in there. Look in all the yearly bulletins going back as far as you want -- you won't find it in there, either. Because no such rule exists.
    If you read some of my strategy columns you'll see that in some of the Charleston puzzles, I might sometimes recommend passing a pair when that's all you can do to preserve a strong hand. But you said you checked some, and I can't remember an occasion when I did make such a recommendation, offhand. Interestingly, my most recent column is about the sort of question you're asking ("is it a rule," "is it a strategy," "is it an official rule," "is it a table rule," etc.). But I missed the passing a pair thing (among some others), so I'll do a follow-up column.
    Now that I've told you all this, I should tell you that your mother will not take my word for it (I'm a man -- what could I possibly know about mah-jongg?). You will need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the National Mah-Jongg League and ask them to give you the rule in writing. Then you can show the letter to your mother. Read FAQ 19-BN (and also 19-BK).
    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
    December 26, 2013


    Tokyo flea market set

    rom: Maria B
    > Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013 11:00 AM
    > Subject: Mahjong set from Tokyo flea market
    > Hi Tom,
    > I just bought my first mahjong set at a flea market in Tokyo. It's very beautiful and I'm very curious how old is it, and how much is it really worth.
    > Here are detailed information about this set:
    > 1. It's a complete japanese set of 144 tiles with 4 flowers and 4 spare, blank tiles (but no red fives)
    > 2. It has 4 japanese dices (no red 4, only 1) and counting sticks (the only unusual thing about them is 10 000 stick - you can see on the picture of whole set), but no wind indicator (I suppose it has been lost)
    > 3. There are also some paper materials - one score tracking book and three two-sided scoring cards - I'm quite sure that the score cards are for traditional japanese rules (not riichi)
    > 4. The tiles are made from bamboo and plastic - the dimentions are: 2.51 cm height, 1.85 cm width, 1.5 cm depth
    > 5. Container is a flat wooden box covered with dark blue velvet (most probably)
    > 6. The cracks are modern type
    > You can see all other details in the pictures. In general, I would say, that the condition of this set is very good - the only defects are - lack of wind indicator, part of paint has fallen from a few tiles (you can see it on cracks), the box is a litlle damaged (mostly in corners - velvet is a little worn off).
    > Also I couldn't find manufacturer or brand name anywhere.
    > I was wondering about some hisotry of mahjong in Japan, when facing this set. Why there are no red fives (when did they start to attach them to the japanese sets - in my set there are blank tiles instead), when that bamboo,plastic composition became popular. I also haven't seen this kind of 1 bams, or flowers with such design in any set, so I'm wondering if this is unique for some region, timespan,or maybe manufacturer. Also I have heard that the traditional japanese rules (non-riichi) weren't played very often after 1950-60's - is this fact may indicate that the set was made earlier? Is there any additional information you can get, by looking at this set?
    > If you would need to look at pictures in better quality, please tell me and I'll send them to you.
    > I would really appreciate your help! Thanks in advance!
    > Best wishes,
    > Marysia
    > Pozdrawiam,
    > Maria B
    > Skarbnik Polskiej Ligi Mahjonga
    >波蘭麻雀連盟
    > www.mahjong.waw.pl

    Hello, Maria. You wrote:

    I'm very curious how old is it
    My guess is 1950s or 1960s.

    and how much is it really worth.
    Let's come back to that.

    There are also some paper materials - one score tracking book and three two-sided scoring cards - I'm quite sure that the score cards are for traditional japanese rules (not riichi)
    Well, actually, Japanese Classical was scored similarly to Chinese Classical. The tables on your scoring cards look more like the scoring system used today in Japanese Modern. The numbers may be a little different, so your cards look like they're a transitional link between classical and modern scoring.

    the condition of this set is very good
    Okay, so better than good and not as good as excellent: "Item has a few defects that any normal person would notice upon close examination."

    the only defects are - lack of wind indicator, part of paint has fallen from a few tiles (you can see it on cracks), the box is a litlle damaged (mostly in corners - velvet is a little worn off).
    I'm not sure that sets from that period came with a wind indicator.

    (when did they start to attach [red fives]
    I don't know. Sometime after the 1960s and before the 1990s.

    when that bamboo,plastic composition became popular.
    That's the wrong question. I don't know that that composition was really "popular." I have some sets like that. I am guessing that that type of set was made starting in the 1950s or 1960s, and some manufacturers may even still be making them.

    I also haven't seen this kind of 1 bams, or flowers with such design in any set, so I'm wondering if this is unique for some region, timespan,or maybe manufacturer.
    My guess is that it's specific to a particular manufacturer during a particular timespan. I never saw those particular flowers or 1B tiles either. I don't know what manufacturer made them.

    I have heard that the traditional japanese rules (non-riichi) weren't played very often after 1950-60's - is this fact may indicate that the set was made earlier?
    Yes. So, you asked about value. My guess is that the set is worth around US$70 to 90 to an American collector. I don't know about prices in Poland and vicinity.

    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
    December 26, 2013


    I'm interesting in this Mahjong set

    rom: Monica A
    > Sent: Thursday, December 26, 2013 4:35 AM
    > Subject: Mahjong set
    > Hello Tom,
    > I'm interesting in this Mahjong set, What do you think about the value? Is this very old? Or a cheap and vulgar set?
    > Tks
    > Monica

    Hello, Monica.
    You asked:

    I'm interesting in this Mahjong set
    I assume you mean you are considering buying this set (that you do not own it). Am I right? Is this why you're writing me today? When a person asks a question, the answerer often needs information along with the question, so that the full answer can be given.

    What do you think about the value?
    I assume you are asking me how much I think that set is worth. And as I wrote in FAQ 7H, I cannot give a reliable valuation without more information.

    Please understand that because you have not given me any information along with your question, I have had to make assumptions. I assume you do not own this set, and that you cannot give me any information or take pictures of the set (because you said you were "interesting" in the set). So without information and better pictures, I can either make an assumption and guess based on that assumption (and therefore my guess could be way off) or I can simply throw up my hands and say that I can't valuate the set. I do not like to make wild guesses, or throw out a range, like "anywhere between $10 and $50," because I like precision better.

    Is this very old?
    I don't know what "very old" means to you, Monica. If the set is from the 1960s, you might think that is "very old," for all I know. The set looks like it's probably from the latter half of the twentieth century. But I cannot be certain, based on these photos.

    Or a cheap and vulgar set?
    I can't tell if the tiles are bone or plastic. The tiles may not have originally been enclosed in that case (look at the way they are haphazardly piled in the case, not arranged in orderly rows). It certainly looks unappealing. But maybe if it's treated with greater respect, it would look like a reasonably nice set. I cannot tell.

    Because of the way you asked the questions (with imprecise English, and without information), and because of the lack of better photography, and because I don't know why you are asking or precisely what you are trying to find out, I am sorry but I cannot give you satisfactory answers at this time.

    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
    December 26, 2013


    Is it illegal to pass a joker during the Charleston?

    rom: Zoe G
    > Sent: Saturday, December 21, 2013 2:28 PM
    > Subject: Passing joker during charleston
    > Hi Tom! It's Zoe from the class at the Whizen center.
    > Is it illegal to pass a joker during a the charleston.
    > Thanks, happy holidays ??

    Hi, Zoe. Nice to hear from you.
    For the answer to your question, see rule 84 (page 58) in my book. Or read column 588 (last Sunday's column, coincidentally). You can get to my column by clicking the purple banner atop my Q&A bulletin board, at http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm - where this question and answer are also posted.
    May the tiles be with you, and happy holidays!
    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
    December 21, 2013


    Old cards, part 2

    rom: "bbfhvn5
    > Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 12:56 PM
    > Subject: Re: old cards (2003-2008)
    > Tom,
    > Thank you for answering my question ~ I did find some individual cards for sale on eBay. You have to search by each year, otherwise you are overwhelmed with packages of cards for sale. Clicked on your Amazon link to purchase your book ~ hope you get a cut from that! Thank you for your website and especially the columns.

    Hi, bbfhjksoq; (I get tired trying to type random letters). I hope you enjoy the book. I'll be getting "a cut" when the advance has been recouped. Still got many books to sell before I reach that goal. Every sale helps!
    May the cards 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
    December 2, 2013


    Old cards

    rom: Barbara B
    > Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 8:14 AM
    > Subject: old cards (2003-2008)
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am brand new to Mah Jongg. I discovered your website and am learning so much by looking at your columns, starting with the earliest. It would be so helpful to be able to see what the cards from 2003-2012) looked like. Sometimes I have questions about your analysis that I know would be answered if I had the card.
    >Being an expert searcher, I took to the web and can find nowhere to get older cards (or pictures of), except the lots for sale on eBay, but they are older than those I desire.
    >Do you know of any source?
    >Thanks.

    Hi, Barbara,
    I can think of several options open to you:
    eBay is probably your best bet.
    You could post an announcement on my Accessories Wanted bulletin board (there's a link above left in the site nav section).
    You could ask the League if they have old cards they can sell you.
    You could ask the vendors in FAQ 4a if they have any old cards they can sell you.
    Best not to ask people to copy or photograph old cards -- the League is pretty protective of their copyright.
    You could always just stick to the columns that relate to the cards that you do have.
    Good luck! May the cards 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
    December 18, 2013


    Either a question, part 2 (Is it ivory?)

    rom: Monica A
    >Sent: Monday, December 16, 2013 1:32 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: I read your blog and i have some pictures mahjong set
    >Hello Tom, im not Spam,
    >Thank you for answering my questions, i send you more pictures from mahjong set for your consideration and apreciation, my question is do you think this is bambu? Is there a chance the material could be ivory?
    >Thanks and regards,
    >Monica

    Hi, Monica. You asked:

    do you think this is bambu?
    Of course yes, it's bamboo.

    Is there a chance the material could be ivory?
    There's a very remote chance (less than one hundredth of a percent). If you want to know if your tiles are ivory, you need to do the Is It Ivory test. See Frequently Asked Question 7.C.2.. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of 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
    December 16, 2013


    Loose Order, part 2

    rom: "thetaland8
    > Sent: Sunday, December 15, 2013 7:13 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Hi! Thank you for posting my photos and story. I guess my questions weren't that clear as questions. I guess the "Loose Order" didn't strike a bell. I wanted to know whether that made any sense to you. The other question was regarding the two craks photo I sent. They have two different characters on them, do you have any idea what they mean?
    > The potential buyer said that my set, pictured in the photos I sent in the previous email to you, are elephant bone! I thought it was cow bone. I have been searching for photos showing the difference between elephant bone and cow bone. I haven't see any photos yet to make comparisons. Have you come across any? The buyer also said that my wooden box was not rosewood and he spoke of Mahogany wood being desirable and the way to test for that kind of wood is that it doesn't float in water.
    > Thanks!
    > Olivia

    Hi, Olivia. You asked:

    the "Loose Order" didn't strike a bell. I wanted to know whether that made any sense to you.
    Nope! Not a clue.

    regarding the two craks photo I sent. They have two different characters on them, do you have any idea what they mean?
    The red characters both mean "ten thousand." The Chinese write "ten thousand" either way. (The blue characters mean "seven," but you probably guessed that.)

    The potential buyer said that my set, ... are elephant bone! I thought it was cow bone.
    Looks like cow bone to me, but I have no idea how one would tell elephant bone from cow bone without DNA analysis. I don't think you need to believe what that guy said.

    Have you come across any [elephant bone]?
    Not to my knowledge. Lots and lots of cow bone, some reconstituted fish bone, even ivory (yes, elephant ivory) - but never elephant bone. Read FAQ 7C.

    The buyer also said that my wooden box was not rosewood and he spoke of Mahogany wood being desirable and the way to test for that kind of wood is that it doesn't float in water.
    That's nice that he said all that -- I don't know if what he said is true or not. I have no idea what kind of wood your box is made of.

    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
    December 15, 2013


    Loose Order

    rom: "thetaland8
    > Sent: Sunday, December 15, 2013 12:42 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: I had a potential buyer come to meet me to purchase my bone and bamboo set. His father or grandfather got out of the car to inspect the set and the potential buyer said that he was expecting, something that sounded like, "Loose Order", and he said that the quality of the bone was not what they were looking for. He said it was bone, but wanted this other name. They were Chinese, so there was a language barrier. I have attached a photo of my set.
    > I am attaching another photo which shows two "craks", my Dutch husband used to call these, "signs",
    > but are from two different sets. I read on your site that the more elaborate one could be from the 70's, but I bought that one at an antique store in Los Angeles, in 1970 and the wooden box is stamped, "Made In China". We were told by the woman that it was from the 20's. It did look very used and old. I have included a third photo to show the bamboo tiles.
    > I didn't have a chance to clarify what the Chinese gentleman was saying and I texted him if he would clarify, but haven't heard back. It was very crowded at the mall today in West Nyack, NY, where we met.
    > Thank you, and thanks for the information on your site.
    > Olivia
    > Olivia K

    Interesting story, Olivia. If you have a question for me, ask away!
    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
    December 15, 2013


    Are these mandatory or optional? (Part 2)

    Irene's question (below) inspired this week's column. Check it out (purple banner above)!
    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
    December 15, 2013


    Are these mandatory or optional?

    rom: irene z
    > Sent: Friday, December 13, 2013 1:43 PM
    > Subject: betting
    > Hi Tom,
    >Quick question - When 5 are playing Mah Jongg, is betting mandatory? I don't particularly like to bet but the other players are saying that it is in the rules that betting must be done.
    > Also are there pushkeys when there are 5 players or would that be a table rule?
    > Irene

    Hi, Irene.
    Betting is not mandatory. And I guess by "pushke" you mean a "kitty," or "pot," in which players put money for wall games or double dice or whatever. Again, not mandatory. Strictly a table 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
    Friday, the 13th of December, 2013


    Where can I find players?

    rom: Hedy Gelb
    >Sent: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:47 PM
    > Subject:
    >I enjoy playing Mah Jongg and would like to know how to connect with more MahJongg players.
    > We also travel by Coach and would like to connect with other players in different parts of thecountry
    >Thank you for any Helplthat you can offer.
    > hedygelbyahoo.com

    Hello, Hedy.
    Welcome to my website. Please check Frequently Asked Questions 4A and 15. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). I am posting this also on the Find Players/Teachers/Events Bulletin Board. You should search that board for people in your area.
    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
    Friday the 13th of December, 2013


    Where can I find a teacher?

    rom: Judy Jacobs
    >Email: dancejj111me.com
    >Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 5:10 PM
    >Subject: Find Players/Teachers
    >I live in Las Vegas and would like to know where I can go to learn how to play mahjong.
    >Location (city and state or zip code):
    >The mah-jongg variant I play is:

    Hi, Judy.
    Welcome to my website. Please check Frequently Asked Questions 4A and 15. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). I am posting this also on the Find Players/Teachers/Events Bulletin Board. You should search that board for "Las Vegas" and "NV" (do two searches). Good luck! Hope you find a teacher.
    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
    December 12, 2013


    Which one gets the tile? (Part 2)

    rom: gwen r
    > Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 2:44 PM
    > Subject: Re: Two Players Claim Majong
    > Hi again
    > Rules are constant
    > We hold 13 tiles during play and go out with 14.
    > There are 144 tiles in the set
    > Never heard of 'Reach and "Dora"
    > We are are Caucasian men and women
    > The book we use is printed off the internet and is called "MAH-JONG British Rules" by Peter Gregory. In the introduction he says "the rules explained here follow those set out in "Maj-Jong - Know the Game" by Gwyn Jeadlke and Yvonne Seeley. which was written in collaboration with the British Mah-Jong Association in an attempt to curtail the confusion over how to play.
    > thanks for your help
    > Gwen R

    Hi, Gwen. Thanks for coming back. You wrote:

    Never heard of 'Reach and "Dora"
    I never for a minute thought you were playing Japanese rules. I should have guessed you were playing British rules.

    The book we use is printed off the internet and is called "MAH-JONG British Rules" by Peter Gregory.
    Oh, I see. You mean http://www.mahjongbritishrules.com/

    he says "the rules explained here follow those set out in "Maj-Jong - Know the Game" by Gwyn [Headley] and Yvonne Seeley.
    Okay, I checked that book. And guess what: there's no mention of conflicting claims in the book.

    I also checked mahjongbritishrules.com, and guess what: no mention in there, either, about conflicting claims! Therefore I must say that that's a bad website to use as your guide. And the Headley & Seeley book also is bad to use as a guide. You need a better book (and you do need to have a book!). I recommend that you visit FAQ 3 or FAQ 2B and see what other books are available. I recommend you buy Strauser & Evans or Thompson & Maloney, or Robertson. Those are all better books.

    Anyway, I answered your question already (below). Thanks for letting me know about the lack in mahjongbritishrules and Headley & Seeley.

    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
    December 12, 2013


    Which one gets the tile? (FAQ 20-J)

    rom: gwen r
    > Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 11:45 AM
    > Subject: Two Players Claim Majong
    > Hi there Webmaster
    > Four of us have been teaching ourselves Mah Jong for about a year. Last time we played the following situation arose:-
    > Players 1 and 2 say they are "One for Mah Jong"
    > Player 1 has two pairs - two "4 of Characters" and two "6 of Bamboo" So needs to pick up one of either pair to make a Pung and go Mah Jong
    > Player 2 has a concealed Pung of South winds (not revealed) and one "6 of Bamboo" So needs to pick up another "6 of Bamboo" to make a Pair to go Mah Jong
    > Player 3 throws away a "6 of Bamboo" and both Players 1 and 2 wanted to claim it to go Mah Jong. An argument ensued!!
    > Who gets Mah Jong in the following situation?
    > Gwen R

    Hello, Gwen. You wrote:

    Players 1 and 2 say they are "One for Mah Jong"
    Okay, so you play one of the variants in which there is a "ready" or "fishing" rule. Can you tell me which one? (See FAQ 2B - the FAQ links are above left). Or can you tell me what book you used to guide your learning? (See FAQ 3 - just tell me the author's name.) When you're asking someone a question about your game, you have to tell him what game you play!

    Players 1 and 2 wanted to claim it to go Mah Jong... Who gets Mah Jong in the [preceding] situation?
    The player whose turn would come before the other after the discarder. If player 1 is sitting to the discarder's right, then player 1 gets the discard. See FAQ 20-J. And this answer surely must be in your rulebook, too (the one I asked about before) -- if you tell me what your rulebook is, I can point you to the answer.

    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
    December 12, 2013


    Either a question or a Set For Sale post

    rom: Monica Almeida
    >Email: monicaalmeidaazulgmail.com
    > Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 3:52 PM
    > Subject: I read your blog and i have some pictures mahjong set
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hello i think this material are very old? the box its not original, and the set maybe is on ivory with bambo. Ir you are interest please Contact me i send you more pictures.
    > Tks for your time.
    > Miss Monica

    Hi, Monica.
    I'm not sure if you are asking a question or trying to sell your set. So I'll reply to your questions and also post this on the Sets For Sale bulletin board (link above left). You wrote:

    i think this material are very old?
    I can't be certain. Maybe about 90 years old.

    the set maybe is on ivory with bambo.
    Unlikely. Please read FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C2.

    Ir you are interest please Contact me i send you more pictures.
    So I guess you're looking for someone to buy your mah-jongg set. It looks fairly ordinary except for the unusual flowers:

    I suspect a collector might be interested in your set because of those unusual flowers. The wind indicator is also a little unusual (the disc with the rotatable window).
    Note: For Q&A posts I usually omit the poster's last name and email address, but if you want people to contact you about buying your set, that information couldn't be omitted.

    Miss Monica
    Sorry to say this, but now you sound like a spammer! Maybe you're legit, and maybe you just live in a formal society. Just sayin'.

    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
    December 11, 2013


    Do I have to have a natural tile? Is an all-jokers set legal?

    rom: Judy S
    > Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 7:17 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: may we use jokers for every tile in a pung, kong, quint or sextet? Thanking you in advance, Judy S B

    Hello, Judy.
    Welcome to my website. 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. READ THE WHOLE FAQ, PLEASE! Make sure you get the complete answer to your question. 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
    December 11, 2013


    Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack?

    rom: Verizon New
    > Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 11:40 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: if a hand is declared dead are their exposed jokers dead too or can they be exchanged?

    Hello Mr. or Ms. New,
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19-P. 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
    December 2, 2013


    Trying to get the chow down

    rom: Padraic O
    > Sent: Thursday, December 5, 2013 11:20 PM
    > Subject: Chows
    > Hey Webmaster, I'm very very new to Mahjong, and I find myself confused when it comes to chows.
    > A couple questions.
    > How is a chow different than just picking up the discarded tile of the most previous player?
    > Can a chow only be taken from the previous player?
    > Can a chow interrupt like a pung or kong?
    > I find myself needing to chow upon other players discards but all the literature online suggests that it can only be done from the most previous players discard. So why would I even need to announce it and meld it if I could just keep it in my hand to potentially fuel a future pung or kong?
    > Much thanks,
    > Paddy Melt

    Hi, Paddy. You wrote:

    Hey Webmaster
    My apologies that I've apparently been hiding my identity! It's high time I took off the mask! (~_^) My name is Tom.

    How is a chow different than just picking up the discarded tile of the most previous player?
    It's different in many ways. I am not sure what exactly you are trying to find out with this question; perhaps you won't still need an answer to this question after I answer your other questions. If you do still have a question after reading the rest of this reply, write me again.

    Can a chow only be taken from the previous player?
    Yes.

    Can a chow interrupt like a pung or kong?
    How could it? On your turn, you are going to either pick from the wall or take the current live discard (from the player whose turn preceded yours). Neither act interrupts the play, because in both cases it's just you taking your turn in the usual order.

    why would I even need to announce it and meld it if I could just keep it in my hand to potentially fuel a future pung or kong?
    You can never put a taken discard into your hand. The price for taking a discard is that you must complete a set with it, and you must expose that completed set (without ever putting that taken discard into the concealed portion of your hand).
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 20. 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!
    Every group (even better: every player) really should have a copy of a good mah-jongg book (such as my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.

    As for why you should vocalize the call, I suppose it's because you are doing something significant -- you are not merely continuing the wall-picking (which is what mostly goes on), and you are exposing a part of your hand. You are courteously informing the other players that something is happening, and they should pay attention. The rules say all discard taking must be vocalized -- the other players need to observe that (a) you are taking the appropriate discard, not some other old discard, and (b) you are making a proper exposure, not an improper one.

    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
    December 6, 2013


    Is there a penalty for discarding before picking?

    rom: flo d
    > Sent: Sunday, December 1, 2013 9:21 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > In American Mah Jongg is there a penalty for making a discard before picking up?

    Yes, there is, Flo. Your turn ends when you discard. If you haven't yet picked a tile, then you have the wrong number of tiles in your hand. Read rule 10(a) on page 18 of the official rulebook. If you don't have the rulebook (and shame on you if you don't), read Frequently Asked Question 19AA. 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!
    Every group (even better: 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
    December 1, 2013


    Who pays double, part 3

    rom: Trudi N
    > Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 10:51 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah Jongg Question
    > Hi Tom.
    > I must have missed a "sentence" in the answer when I read it. After you send me the specific answer to the question 19, the sentence
    > gave me my answer. What I missed was below. We weren't sure if the person actually picked the tile herself for MJ IF she took a joker from someone else hand. Now I know. Thanks so much. Great site.
    > Trudi
    >
    > If you win by redeeming a joker, you picked it yourself (everybody pays you double) - nobody "gave" you the joker (nobody discarded it - you TOOK it, with a tile you picked yourself)."

    May the tiles be with you, Trudi.
    -- Every person is capable of changing her behavior, as long as she wants to change......
    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
    November 30, 2013


    You didn't answer: Who pays double?

    >From: Trudi N
    >Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 3:22 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jongg Question
    >Dear Tom,
    >I followed all your directions, and read the FAQ. It still doesn't give me a precise answer to my question. I have saved your site for a bookmark and think it's great, however, I don't see my answer, exactly.
    >All I'm asking is if the winning Mah Jongg tile is a joker they can take off another's rack; is it the same as their picking the winning tile themselves? for MJ?...which means they get paid double. Or do they actually have to "pick" it. I see nothing that answers that question :(
    >Trudi

    Hi, Trudi. I'm sorry you didn't find your answer, but I'm puzzled as to what's wrong with my FAQ. Here's what you asked:

      >> We know that when the winner picks the winning tile for MJ, they get paid double. If the player declares Mah Jongg as a result of taking a joker from another's exposed hand, did she pick the winning tile herself or not?
      >All I'm asking is if the winning Mah Jongg tile is a joker they can take off another's rack; is it the same as their picking the winning tile themselves? for MJ?

    And here's what FAQ 19AN says:

      There are only two ways you can win: by discard or by self-pick. If you take a discard to win, the discarder always pays double. If you pick it yourself, everybody always pays double. If you win by redeeming a joker, you picked it yourself (everybody pays you double) - nobody "gave" you the joker (nobody discarded it - you TOOK it, with a tile you picked yourself).

    I don't see how that does not answer your question. I would greatly appreciate it if you could tell me what's confusing about the FAQ, so I can change it and make it clearer.
    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
    November 29, 2013


    Who pays double?

    rom: Trudi N
    > Sent: Friday, November 29, 2013 12:38 PM
    > Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    > This came up at our last Mah Jongg game (American).
    > We know that when the winner picks the winning tile for MJ, they get paid double. If the player declares Mah Jongg as a result of taking a joker from another's exposed hand, did she pick the winning tile herself or not?
    > thank you.
    > Trudi
    > -- The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior........
    > Trudi

    Welcome to my website, Trudi. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19AN. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). 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!
    -- Every person is capable of changing her behavior. She just has to want to change......
    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
    November 29, 2013


    Judy's Delight

    rom: Marion B
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 10:03 PM
    > Subject: OR ping
    > My mah-jongg question comment is: I was playing the hand 'Judy’s Delight' the description reads – 5 odd numbers in 1 suit + 4 even umbers in 2nd suit + pair Winds + GRW or pung of Dragons.
    > My query is do the odd numbers have to be 13579 and even numbers 2468 or can they be any combination.
    > Thanks for your time and look forward to your reply.
    > Marion

    Hi, Marion.
    I need to know what kind of mah-jongg you play. Is there a book that your group uses as its guide? And I also wonder what "OR ping" means.
    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
    November 27, 2013


    Column 584

    rom: Lori R
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 8:31 PM
    > Subject: Possible error?
    > Hi Tom,
    > I love your defense puzzles. I think I found an error in No. #584 from 11/10/2013. In number 16, you have a set of four 7 Dots and four 9 Dots. You said the answer was that there was no such hand. Couldn't that be Consec. #4, with the hot tiles being 8C, 8D and 8B?
    > Happy Thanksgiving.
    > Regards,
    > Lori R

    Good, Lori! Yes, I goofed on that one. I'm going back and changing that right now.
    May the tiles be with you, and happy Thanksgivukkah.
    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
    November 27, 2013


    I bought an ivory set, part 2

    rom: Bob & Judy M
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 1:06 PM
    > Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Of course I meant ivory in color, not in composition.

    Of course I should have read your mind!
    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
    November 27, 2013


    I bought an ivory set in China

    rom: Bob & Judy M
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 9:05 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I bought a mah jongg set in China and realize there are no jokers. The tiles
    > are ivory 1 and 6/16 inch by 12/16 inch and are 1 inch thick. Do you know
    > where I can get tiles this size?
    > Judy M

    Judy, you wrote:

    I bought a mah jongg set in China... The tiles are ivory
    Two things:
    It is illegal to import ivory into the United States. If your tiles are really ivory, you should contact US Customs and plead ignorance.
    Your tiles probably are not ivory. Read FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C2 - you can find links to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.

    and realize there are no jokers.
    [Sigh!] You should have checked that before buying it.

    Do you know where I can get tiles this size?
    Please read FAQ 7R.

    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
    November 27, 2013


    The significance of the lone standout rack

    rom: Karen S
    > Sent: Monday, November 25, 2013 4:45 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I have read the FAQs regarding equipment and didn’t see a comment re the color of racks, particularly in the older Bakelite sets. I’m guessing it did not impact game play since some were all one color. My question is about the ones that have 5 of different colors. It seems that many of them have 4 in a similar color family such as greens and yellows, and then will have 1 that is completely different such as a red or coral. Was there some significance to the one that stands out as very different from the rest?

    No. Today's Chinese players don't use racks, but some players do use "rulers" (actually, just straightedges). This picture is from FAQ 7E.

    Rulers always come with one differently-colored ruler, for use by the dealer (the lone object in the photo is 4 rulers shrinkwrapped together). Chinese players simply trade rulers when the dealer changes -- but back in the day when Bakelite racks were created, players played for chips (not real money the way American players do today). Of course, the chips are stored on the rack's prongs.

    So trading racks was impractical -- give someone your rack and you're giving away your chips -- trading for the other person's racks and chips.
    And then there's the matter of 5 racks versus 4. American sets came with 5 racks back then so that a fifth player could play. Her chips being on the rack means she needs her own rack so she can easily switch in and out of a game.
    Since the dealer is always changing, and since the 5th player is always changing, and since nobody could easily trade racks with scorekeeping chips on them, the usefulness of a standout color would be momentary and limited. So, "no." There is no significance to "standout" rack color. No simile can be drawn between racks and rulers.

    It seems that many of them have 4 in a similar color family such as greens and yellows, and then will have 1 that is completely different
    It seems that way to you, but it doesn't seem that way to me. If you want to pursue this line of thinking, you'll need to document a lot of sets to come up with convincing evidence supporting your hypothesis. And you'll probably have to limit your studies to Bakelite sets only, since modern plastic sets do not jibe with your hypothesis.

    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
    November 25, 2013


    Any referrals or suggestions for finding a teacher?

    rom: las4mus
    > Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 8:34 AM
    > Subject: Mahjong teacher for 12/13 p.m
    > Hello Tom,
    > I am one of five ladies who have been trying to learn American mahjong this year. We meet next on the 13th and I thought it would be fun to surprise the others with a teacher/coach for a lesson or ? We usually meet around 6pm for food/ wine then settle in till about 10pm. The next game is in South Torrance. Would you have any referrals or suggestions for me?
    > Many thanks, Leslie S

    Hi, Leslie.
    All I have for you is the list of teachers in FAQ 4A, and the Find Players/Teachers bulletin board. There are links to the boards and FAQs above left. I could possibly cover Torrance, but not on that date, not for four hours, and one session is not enough to teach American mah-jongg. Check the teacher listing in FAQ 4A first, then try the bulletin board.
    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
    November 22, 2013


    Can I add to an exposure, part 2

    >From: Lois G
    >Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 7:42 AM
    >Subject: Re: jokers
    >THANKS!!


    Can I add to an exposure later?

    rom: Lois G
    > Sent: Thursday, November 21, 2013 1:14 PM
    > Subject: jokers
    > I'm very new to American mahjong and have started playing online. My question is this: Can a joker be used to add onto an already exposed pung, kong, etc. in my own hand?

    Hi, Lois.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19AF. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow 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!
    Every group (even better: 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
    November 21, 2013


    Column 578

    rom: Elizabeth T
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 1:10 PM
    > Subject: Column 578
    > A friend just told me about your column, so I am looking at it for the first time. For Hand 3, why wouldn't you play
    > N EE WWW SSSS 2013?
    > Thanks,
    > Elizabeth


      3. The numbers don't go with the winds. Evens out- number odds, so pass 1C 5C soap.

    Hi, Elizabeth.
    As I said to Cinda when she too suggested that hand in her October 11 email (below, and at the bottom of column 578), that's a good option. There are eight tiles towards that hand. If you want to preserve that hand, pass 4B 4C 5C.
    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
    November 20, 2013


    Time recommended to complete a game

    rom: Mary B
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 9:10 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Please advise on time recommended to complete a game for beginners, intermediate & advanced players, using American Mah Jongg.
    > Thank you.
    >Mary A. B...
    >[Address and contact info deleted]

    Hi Mary.
    Average time to play one game is 15 minutes. In a tournament, the norm is 1 hour per round (4 hands, meaning each player gets to be dealer once). A fast or short game might last 10 minutes. Sometimes at the end of a tournament hour, there are tables who did not finish 4 hands. If a table is taking longer than 30 minutes to complete a game, then those players need to speed things up.
    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
    November 20, 2013


    Those multitudinous mysterious joker rules!

    > From: Marcia A. M
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 3:19 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Is a hand declared dead only when there is an error in an exposure.
    > Can a player declare another player dead because her exposure is for a specific hand and discards have determined that her hand is no longer makeable. For example: she has 2 wests exposed with a joker. The only hand that can be is the first hand on the card. After 4 norths are discarded, the hand can no longer be made. Can she continue picking and throwing or must she stop playing? If she or another players declares the hand is dead because of discards, can her joker be exchanged?
    > Many thanks!
    > Marcia M

    Hi, Marcia. You wrote:

    Is a hand declared dead only when there is an error in an exposure.
    No. There are other circumstances that can make a player's hand go dead. Read Frequently Asked Question 19AA. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). FAQ 19AA comes right after FAQ 19Z.

    Can a player declare another player dead because her exposure is for a specific hand and discards have determined that her hand is no longer makeable.
    Yes.

    Can she continue picking and throwing or must she stop playing?
    She can and should continue, unless/until someone calls her dead.

    If she or another players declares the hand is dead
    She is not permitted to call herself dead. Read FAQ 19AC.

    can her joker be exchanged?
    In the case you described, it can. The West pung was valid, and her hand was not declared dead until later (after all the Norths went out). So the pung with its joker can remain atop the rack, and the joker is available for redemption. Read FAQ 19P. 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!
    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
    November 19, 2013


    Your website and your column

    > From: Marilyn
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 8:56 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: No question, just a comment. I love your website and have learned so much from it. Thank you so much. I also look forward to seeing a new Weekly Strategy and find them interesting and challenging.
    However, I get disappointed when you skip a week (even though I understand that it must be time consuming for you to make these up every week.) Again…thank you so much.
    > Marilyn

    Glad you love my site and have learned so much from it. I receive very little ad money from my site, and very few donations. If it was a paid job, like a newspaper cartoonist or columnist, then I would make sure to post a new column every week, no matter what. But it isn't. It's pretty much volunteer work, so when I have a more pressing thing to do, I simply have to go with my priorities.
    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
    November 19, 2013


    "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"

    > From: Valerie W
    > Sent: Sunday, November 17, 2013 6:15 PM
    > Subject: "The Red Dragon & The West Wind"
    > Hello Tom, My husband purchased your book for me. As a novice M-J player, I found it well-written and comprehensive. I have it on my Kindle and will take it to my weekly games as a reference tool. I rated it 4 stars on Amazon (would've given it 4.5 if that had been an option) and wrote a review (which hasn't cleared their hoops yet). Also, I like the strategy columns on your website; they make me Think! Cheers. Valerie

    Thanks so much for writing, Valerie. I'm so glad you enjoy my book and column. I was not able to write a column this week but will be back on it next week.
    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
    November 18, 2013


    Evaluation3

    > From: "hlvrsn10
    > Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 6:58 PM
    > Subject: Re: mahjong evaluation
    > Yo'ur a ████, but thanks for the evaluation....Best Wishes......Tom

    No, no, no! I'm Tom. You're hlvrsn10, who has unreasonably high expectations of someone to whom you have not provided the reasonable information he needs in order to comply with your request.
    Good luck!


    Worth the price, part 3

    > From: Valerie W
    > Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 3:48 PM
    > Subject: Re: Worth the price?
    > >> the $70 price tag for the NMJL internet game.
    > > Wow, I hadn't noticed that the price had gone so high! The MahjongTime game surely isn't that expensive.
    > ~
    > Mahjong Time can be played for free, and the graphics are good, but I'm confused because when I enter an American game the players seem to put up random sets of Pairs, Pungs, Kongs, Quints, & Sextets, but not in any pattern I recognize from the 2013 card. I'll hafta just keep combing thru the fine print until I understand what's going on.
    > The NMJL internet game is $30 for membership & $40 for the game. Or vice versa...
    > Pete

    Nice info, Pete. Thanks!

    [in] an American game [on MahjongTime] the players seem to put up random sets of Pairs, Pungs, Kongs, Quints, & Sextets, but not in any pattern I recognize from the 2013 card.
    Huh. I always had the impression that the MJT dev team didn't really understand the American game -- guess I was right on that score. If it's live players who make random sets, then I guess those players also don't really understand American MJ. I don't recall if that game has an in-game chat function (I would text the other players and say something, if it did). In the NMJL game you can call another player dead (but that player has to agree that she's dead)... if I recall correctly. I don't suppose MJT has that feature though...

    The NMJL internet game is $30 for membership & $40 for the game.
    O I C. If I recall correctly, the "membership" is a one-time thing (to assign you a player ID and password), and it needn't be paid again the next year.

    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
    November 15, 2013


    Worth the price, part 2

    > From: Valerie W
    > Sent: Friday, November 15, 2013 2:39 PM
    > Subject: Re: Worth the price?
    >>> I can't find any pictures of how the NMJL game board looks, nor any reviews from players.
    >>> Any suggestions?
    >> About what?
    > ~
    > Suggestions about where I can find more information about the game. I googled but came up empty. Usually a customer can get Some kind of preview of the product they are considering for purchase.
    > Like your book, for example. I can look at Amazon reviews and even read your first few chapters.
    > So, do you have any insight about the NMJL internet game? Have you ever tried it? Do you know anyone who has tried it? Do you know if it's user-friendly? Have you ever heard anyone comment about liking it or not? Have you ever heard anyone say it's a big waste of money...
    > I regret my tactless comment about your web design, especially since I really like the content of your site and appreciate all the knowledge you are willing to share . As a gesture of goodwill I am purchasing your book, which is way more affordable than the $70 price tag for the NMJL internet game.
    > Pete,
    > using my wife's email account.

    Hi, Pete. You wrote:

    Suggestions about where I can find more information about the [NMJL online] game. I googled but came up empty. Usually a customer can get Some kind of preview of the product they are considering for purchase.
    An entirely reasonable expectation. Perhaps the NMJL doesn't feel a need to market its game, since it has so little competition. Or maybe the organization just never thought much about marketing the game.

    Have you ever tried it?
    Yes. Several years ago.

    Do you know anyone who has tried it?
    Yes.

    Do you know if it's user-friendly?
    I know it was pretty easy to figure out when I tried it out before. I don't know if it has changed or if it still is pretty much the same.

    Have you ever heard anyone comment about liking it or not?
    Yes.

    Have you ever heard anyone say it's a big waste of money...
    Might have.

    I regret my tactless comment about your web design, especially since I really like the content of your site and appreciate all the knowledge you are willing to share . As a gesture of goodwill I am purchasing your book
    Great! I hope you enjoy it.

    the $70 price tag for the NMJL internet game.
    Wow, I hadn't noticed that the price had gone so high! The MahjongTime game surely isn't that expensive.

    To answer the questions you didn't ask: when I tried the game, it was not pretty -- no fancy graphic or audio touches, just barebones functionality. Since the game is played online against other live players only, there's no AI, and the game does not know the 2013 card from the 2012 card. The game does not score winning hands or even validate them. It's left up to the players to agree whether or not the hand is correct, and how many points are due one another. You play against other people who are online at the same time you are, and nobody ever sees any players' faces or hears players' voices, so it's all rather impersonal and anonymous; you communicate by typing, and some of the players can be rude if they disapprove of your playing speed or the choices you make. That's the way it was when I tried it out before, anyway -- I haven't been on that game in the past 6 years or more. It might have changed since then.

    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
    November 15, 2013


    Worth the price?

    > From: Valerie W
    > Sent: Thursday, November 14, 2013 4:45 PM
    > Subject: Worth the price?
    > I want to play MahJongg online (not the matching games) but I haven't found anything really good. I'm interested in the NMJL internet game, but on my budget it's expensive. I can't find any pictures of how the NMJL game board looks, nor any reviews from players. Any suggestions? Any reader feedback? Pete, on a Mac. p.s. I find it Very worthwhile to plow through the great info on your site, but I sure wish you'd get a better web designer.

    Hello, Valerie or Pete. You wrote:

    I want to play MahJongg online (not the matching games) but I haven't found anything really good.
    All there is is what's out there.

    I'm interested in the NMJL internet game, but on my budget it's expensive.
    Have you looked at the price of MahjongTime too?

    I can't find any pictures of how the NMJL game board looks, nor any reviews from players.
    Then maybe there aren't any!

    Any suggestions?
    About what?

    Any reader feedback?
    Occasionally.

    Subject: Worth the price?
    Worth is subjective. The people who play it must think it's worth the price. The people who don't must not.

    I sure wish you'd get a better web designer.
    So do I. But as Valerie or Pete once famously said, "on my budget it's expensive." Hiring a web designer, or learning web design and reworking it, isn't "Worth the price" right 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
    November 14, 2013


    Evaluation1

    >From: "hlvrsn10
    >Sent: Thursday, November 14, 2013 3:29 PM
    >Subject: mahjongg evaluation 8 drawer brass butterfly
    >11 lbs...grain disappears @ 90...does pearl/shell thing in sunlight...Please evaluate......Thanks, gary.......

    Hello, hlvrsn10. You wrote:

    grain disappears @ 90...does pearl/shell thing in sunlight..
    I am not convinced that your tiles are ivory. Your pictures appear to show a rather ordinary bone and bamboo set.

    Please evaluate
    I don't see how I can possibly do that with the meager information you have given me. You apparently have not bothered to read Frequently Asked Question 7H. As it says in the FAQ, condition is everything. And your set looks pretty beat up.

    Thanks, gary.......
    My name is Tom. With a capital T.

    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
    November 14, 2013


    Evaluation2

    >From: "hlvrsn10
    >Sent: Thursday, November 14, 2013 3:39 PM
    >Subject: mahjong evaluation
    >from thrift store

    hlvrsn, I cannot possibly give you a valuation without enough information. It looks like an ordinary bone and bamboo set without a case.
    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
    November 14, 2013


    Like Numbers

    > From: kathleen g
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 2:31 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Under like numbers in the 2013 card does FF 1111 1111 1111 mean I need 2 flowers and the same numbers from 3 different suits?

    Yes.
    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
    November 13, 2013


    Column 584

    > From: "lindaz
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 2:35 PM
    > Subject: column 584--another typo?
    >Hi Tom,
    > I think your answer to problem # 15 should be CR #3, not CR #2.
    > Thanks for your quizzes--they make me think!
    > Linda

    Yep, another typo. I needed to do a 2nd round of proofreading after the 1st one! Thanks for writing today so I could sign a post with the date "11/12/13"!
    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
    11/12/13


    How much is it worth, and is it common or not.

    > From: X and Z Productions LLC
    > Sent: Monday, November 11, 2013 6:51 PM
    > Subject:
    > hello,
    > hello I have a 1923 piroxloid products ivory mahjong set. it is a wooden case with a sliding top. I was wondering how much these were worth and if they are common or not.
    > Xavier

    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 7H. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). 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
    November 11, 2013


    How do you determine rotation, part 4

    > From: Lynn P
    > Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2013 6:01 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: RE: Q & A of Lynn P. on 11/9 about table rotation with 3 tables. No ,Tom I never complained about your showing other people’s Mah Jongg Sets in the past. In fact, I rather liked seeing them and reading the descriptions but I guess being sick with limited time at computer, I would have rather read Q & A. Amazing how many different kinds of MJ sets there are. One of the older ladies in our Friday Mah Jongg group has a very old set that we use. Pictures on the tiles are sometimes hard to distinguish especially since we only play at her house every 12 weeks or more depending on our schedule. I emailed your reply to my to fellow Mah Jongg players and I do think my idea, when playing with 3 tables, of having one whole table rotate to the other two is less time consuming than having 2 players at the 3 tables decide where they will move-sort of like playing Bunco where the hardest thing to do is to remember which table you are supposed to move to!!! I am missing my 2 Mah Jongg games this week because of doctor’s appointment for hubby and me so will be going over your strategy columns each night. Great teaching method. My new closing line to my fellow Mah Jong players is, “May the tiles and jokers be with you as long as you are not at my table!” Lynn P.

    Hi Lynn,
    Sorry for ranting, then! Keep on enjoying 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
    November 10, 2013


    Column 584

    > From: Dennis
    > Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2013 11:45 AM
    > Subject: Column #584
    > Are you sure answer to #3 is 6B and not 5B?
    > Thanks again.
    > Dennis

    Thanks, Dennis. Remind me to fire my typist! And my proofreader! Only problem is, my typist is me. And so's my proofreader. Anyway, it's fixed now, thanx 2 U.
    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
    November 10, 2013


    How do you determine rotation, part 3

    > From: Lynn P
    > Sent: Saturday, November 9, 2013 8:18 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: RE: American Mah Jongg; Hi Tom, remember me? I have been sick for the past 16 months and just started playing Mah Jongg again this past August . For the first time since I began playing we had 12 players and 3 tables on last Friday. Table #3 in dining room was a long rectangle table and 2 chairs were on each side. Players had to sit sideways and angle their racks-very uncomfortable. After playing for 11/2 hours, as is our custom, we switch tables by throwing the dice. Highest 2 scores leave and go to another table. At the dining room table we decided we would all switch since by now our backs and necks ached. Two of us went to table #2 in family room and I and another player went to table #1 in the kitchen. Two of the players at the kitchen table who were moving said we can’t all leave the dining room table and 2 of us had to stay. I told them we were not sitting there any longer but they kept insisting we can’t move but we did and we heard grumbling from the dining room. Is there any rule from the NMJL about table rotation with 3 tables? I, of course, have your wonderful book, “The Red Dragon & The West Wind”, and can’t find info about rotation with 3 tables. Were we wrong in all leaving the table? Please advise. Thanks for all your prior advice and comments. Lynn P.
    > PS.
    > Even though sick I still followed your Q&A and strategies columns but I never got to play with the 2012 card. Glad you are still doing the Q&A but got tired of looking at players old MJ sets!!! Loved your comments to some of the questions asked and did send them out to my Mah Jongg groups. Thanks a bunch!

    Welcome back, Lynn. I'm sorry you were sick, and glad you're feeling better. You wrote:

    a long rectangle table and 2 chairs were on each side. Players had to sit sideways and angle their racks
    Yes. That's what I've had to do when the only table available is too long.

    Is there any rule from the NMJL about table rotation with 3 tables?
    But are you really asking about 3 tables? Aren't you really asking about a too-long table that's uncomfortable to use? The real solution is not to use awkwardly-shaped or -sized tables. But to answer what you asked, no. There is no official 3-table-rotation rule.

    Were we wrong in all leaving the table?
    The thing is that nobody wants to sit at that table. If everybody has to sit at that table at some point, you need to work out a rotation scheme that makes each person sit there only 1/3 of the time. Tournaments usually rotate players from table to table (see FAQ 21), and you can also see Linda Z's November 5 post (below) about table rotation.

    Glad you are still doing the Q&A but got tired of looking at players old MJ sets
    Was that you who used to complain about that? This is an information site; I answer the questions I get; I don't control what questions I get. What's the big deal! Just scroll past them! I am going to continue to answer every question. I am not going to set up a separate board for set-evaluation questions, so you're stuck with it. If I start trying to separate out those questions, next thing you know, somebody will complain that she doesn't like seeing questions about un-American mah-jongg, and I'd have to create yet another board, and on and on! The traffic here doesn't warrant multiple boards, and the site doesn't make enough money to pay me enough to do that. So I'm not going to do 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
    November 9, 2013


    For your consideration, part 2

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Friday, November 8, 2013 9:09 AM
    >Subject: Bart's set
    >Hi Tom,
    >Knowing how difficult people find working out Chinese characters I thought I'd drop you a line about Bart's inscription on his box.
    >The characters are 心曠神怡, in Pinyin this would be Xin Kuang Shen Yi and means "a heart troubled, a spirit pleased" which is a Chinese idiom meaning "Carefree and Relaxed".
    >Why such a phrase would be on a Mahjong set box may have to remain unanswered!
    >Best Regards
    >Ray

    Nice, Ray.
    And I don't think there's any mystery at all about that phrase being on a mah-jongg set. It's a game. Games are for playing and relaxing, are they not?
    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
    November 8, 2013


    Same question

    > From: "president3709
    > Sent: Thursday, November 7, 2013 2:32 PM
    > Subject: Question
    > When discarding a joker do you have to say "same" or can you say joker?
    > Thanks
    > Susan

    Hi, Susan.
    See what I wrote in my book on page 59, rule 89.b. I said "may say 'Same'" (not "must say 'Same'"). I have now added some new wording to Frequently Asked Question 19G(3) because so many people have asked this. To get to the FAQs, scroll up and look for 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
    November 7, 2013


    For your consideration

    > From: Bart O
    > Sent: Thursday, November 7, 2013 11:45 AM
    > Subject: A Mah Jongg set for your consideration
    > Dear Mr Sloper,
    > First of all my compliments on your Mah Jongg website. It was pleasant surprise to find a source on the subject as accurate and exhaustive as yours. I'm not a connoisseur by any means; I just happen to have played the game for most of my life and I wanted to know more about its background and the set I own. Your website already gave me a wealth of information. I'm hoping you could maybe shed some more light on my set: its age and origin and maybe the meaning of the inscription on the box.
    > Here is - in the order of your checklist – the information I have:
    > 1] The set consists of 151 "small" bone-and-bamboo tiles (a 152-set missing 1 joker) in a flat wooden box, an incomplete set of bone sticks and four wooden racks.
    > 2] The tiles are very smooth, the bamboo unmarked, the bone and bamboo almost seamlessly fishtailed. The carving appears to be done by hand and especially on the flowers it's very detailed. The bone (both of tiles and sticks) is unevenly (dis)colored. The lid of the box has been reinforced on the inside with a piece of formica (clearly a job by my father – see 4). The four 40cm racks are very worn from use. I would say all items are GOOD, with the exception of the racks being FAIR.
    > 3] The tiles are made of bone and bamboo. Although I couldn't detect any Haversian signs, I also failed to distinguish Schreger lines or cross-hatch effect. The tiles are silky smooth but this could have been caused by extensive use over many years (see 4).
    > 4] I inherited the set from my parents. One of my earliest childhood recollections is of them playing the game. Since I was born in '59 this set has been in their/my possession for at least fifty years. I have no idea if it may predate (let's say) 1963. If an old included manual (in Dutch) is any indication, it was bought at its publisher "Eberhardt Aziatische Kunst" (Eberhardt Asiatic Art) on Damstraat in Amsterdam. That oriental shop has been there for as long as I can remember and still is. My parents used to play Mah Jongg regularly with various close friends and I remember the games lasting well into the night, the laughter and calling of 'pung', 'kong' etc. drifting up to my bedroom. I was fascinated both by the mysterious walls of tiles, the exotic terms and the quick doubling of the scores that my mother was a master at.
    > 5] The "small" tiles measure 25mm H x 17mm W x 12mm D of which 4mm bone.
    > 6] The basic 136-tile set is complete. Added are 8 flowers (four depicting 1/rich man, 2/pot of gold, 3/monkey king, 4/goddess of mercy; the other four depicting 1/plum, 2/orchid, 3/bamboo, 4/chrysanthemum), 4 extra blank tiles (equivalent to white dragons) and THREE joker tiles (obviously one joker tile was lost during one of those many nightly games; this was not essential to them because they, like me, played/play the Chinese Classical 144-tile game).
    > 7] Apart from the tiles, the set consists of a box (see 8/9), four racks and an incomplete set of sticks. The four wooden racks have the simple L-profile. Their length (40 cm) is too long for the "small" tiles, so my father notched them at the 18-tile width. The bone sticks measure 70 x 8 mm and count:
    > heaven/500 points: 8 pc (complete)
    > earth/100 points: 31 pc (1 missing)
    > man/10 points: 35 pc (1 missing)
    > harmony/2points: 36 pc (4 missing)
    > Although incomplete the number of sticks is of course sufficient to play with.
    > 8] The flat, wooden box is flat has a sliding top. It measures 247 mm H x 131 mm W x 53 mm D.
    > 9] The lid of the box has been reinforced on the inside with a piece of formica. Apart from that it looks like it always did: deep brown varnish with green and white characters (meaning unknown).
    > 10] There's a Dutch manual included; a publication by Eberhardt, Amsterdam – the presumed seller of the set.
    > 11/14] The craks are of the older kind. Pictures of one crak, one bamboo, dragons and flowers are included.
    > 15] The set includes THREE jokers (obviously one has been lost in the decades of fun).
    > Attached are pictures of the set, characteristic tiles, box, sticks and racks.
    > I hope this set is of some interest to you and that maybe you can add some information to the above.
    > Thank you very much. Best regards,
    > Bart O

    Bonjour, Bart. You asked:

    its age
    It appears to have been made in the 1930s or 1940s. Possibly later, but the wooden racks suggest 1930s. Then again, I don't suppose the racks fit in the box (so might have been acquired separately).

    and origin
    China.

    maybe the meaning of the inscription on the box.

    I'm no linguist. I looked on mandarintools.com and zhongwen.com, and could only find the first character at the top:
    心 xin1 (heart; mind, intelligence; soul)
    If you want to check yourself, mandarintools is probably your best bet.

    There's a Dutch manual included; a publication by Eberhardt, Amsterdam – the presumed seller of the set.
    There's no date inside, I suppose.

    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
    November 7, 2013


    Wright-Patterson, part 4

    > From: Ray
    > Sent: Thursday, November 7, 2013 12:18 AM
    > Subject: Wright Patterson discussion with Leon
    > Hi Tom, I hope this helps in your recent discussions with Leon where you are debating amongst many things the meaning of (P). I don't play Wright Patterson at all, but I have seen a 1958 Wright Patterson Rules Booklet which defines (P) as "Punged Hand: During play you may call for a discarded tile that is needed to make a Pung, [...], place Pung on your rack."
    > So, your assumptions on what (P) means were indeed correct.
    > Best Regards
    > Ray H

    Great! Thanks, Ray!


    Can I change my exposure if I haven't discarded yet?

    > From: Louise D
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 4:55 PM
    > Subject: MJ Question
    > I read the rule about changing your mind, but didn't see my problem addressed. I know once you make an exposure, you can't take it back, but I thought you could make a change to it (like putting back a joker in your rack if you have enough of the exposure) as long as you haven't discarded yet. Is that true?
    > Louise

    Hi, Louise, you wrote:

    I read the rule about changing your mind, but didn't see my problem addressed.
    So you read FAQ 19AM, but you're asking a different question.

    I thought you could make a change to [an exposure] (like putting back a joker in your rack if you have enough of the exposure) as long as you haven't discarded yet. Is that true?
    Read FAQ 19AF.

    19AF and 19AM are not contradictory. 19AF answers the question, "can I change my exposure if I haven't discarded yet?" 19AM answers the question, "can I change my mind about making an exposure at all, after I've already exposed tiles from my 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
    November 6, 2013


    Wright-Patterson, part 3

    > From: Leon U
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 7:28 AM
    > Subject: Re: wright patterson rules
    > 1. Am western I was refering to one of your faqs that youve written where u stated am was nmjl and wright patterson fell under the category of western
    > 2. According to what i understand p stands for pungable=an exposable hand. This does allow for chows when chows are permitted (cannot claim chows for sequence hands)
    > 3. Im asking for the majority of the group it is not only I who would like to know this we are trying to resolve this as a group I just seem to be the only one to approach you iunno. But we have a majority of the group who didnt even know there were any other varients and they were unsure about the rules while some of the other players argued that the way they play is the correct way and nonetheless started a quarrel amongst ourselves within the group. We have decided to find and figure out the answer as a majority and it seems im the one to have approached you. So any suggestions to this then? Because come to think of it confused chow is a hand alot of them shoot for because they were lead to believe to be able to claim from anyone. Questions arose when they saw the jewel hands. So if could clarify for me itd be much appreciated

    > From: Leon U
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 7:40 AM
    > Subject: Re: wright patterson rules
    > This was taken from a copy of the most recent visual aid book with all the various hands for wright patterson this is also something we use amonsgt the group for players whom do not have a book

    Hi, Leon.
    I don't know if your blue book is newer than mine, but if this is the version your group is playing from, then the book says it clearly: chows may only be claimed for jewel hands (that means the chows in Confused Chows may not be exposed prior to declaring mah-jongg, but the pung may). If I were you, I'd send a letter to the rulekeepers in Ohio, and ask 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
    November 6, 2013


    Wright-Patterson, part 2

    > From: Leon U
    > Sent: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 6:24 AM
    > Subject: Re: wright patterson rules
    > So another follow up
    > You as you stated we were to assumes this.. which is gunna be a problem because these ladies only play am western and do not even no about the rules for another mjs and theyve been doing this for years and that might cause a problomatic situation with that explanation
    > And for your second example u refered to where the jewel hands start according to whats in front of me it states "Note For Jewels Hands Only" which would ofc come up when someone is trying to play a confused chow hand and such. Ie hands number 76 to 83
    > So would you have any suggestions to how I should approach the group with this or hopefully comments on what I just stated? And again thanks for the help your always my go to guy xD

    Good morning, Leon. You wrote:

    these ladies only play am western
    You said they play NMJL (American) and Wright-Patterson. Do they also play Western (British/Australian)? I don't think that's what you mean to be saying.

    for your second example u refered to where the jewel hands start according to whats in front of me it states "Note For Jewels Hands Only"
    I don't see such a notation in my blue book (which I bought at the same time as the 2009 edition of the green book). But I also noticed that, other than Jewel Hands, almost all the other chow hands are marked C for concealed. Confused Chows, however, is marked P instead. I was unable to find anything in writing that explains what the P means. Perhaps it means "pung," in other words a player may expose a pung? The Jewel Hands are also all marked P.

    Ie hands number 76 to 83
    Those are all marked C except #82 (Confused Chows). So, other than Confused Chows, this is a non-issue.

    how I should approach the group with this
    Dude, you're not going to change the way they play. I don't even know what it is you want to change. See FAQ 14 - when you play with a group, you have to go along with the way they play. If you need clarity about some of their rules, just ask them, and go along with their way of playing.

    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
    November 6, 2013


    Wright-Patterson Qs

    > From: Leon U
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 5:07 PM
    > Subject: wright patterson rules
    > So as I stated before when im unable to play riichi I join a group of older ladies for some am mj. We play nmjl n wright patterson.
    > My question refers to wright Patterson. Maybe youve answered this but in wright Patterson does the rules of chow/chi apply? By that I mean are you able to claim a chi from any players discard or must it be claimed from and only from the player on the left? Whichever the outcome do you have any sources you could direct me to to support this so that I may provide evidence for whichever ends up being the case to prevent any further quarrels? Thanks^^

    > From: Leon U
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 5:45 PM
    > Subject: Re: wright patterson rules
    > In addition for wright patterson does the priority rule still apply for players claiming a tile for a different melds. ie. One for chi the other for pon.
    > where kans take prio over pon and pon over chi etc.
    > And could you provide a source for this as well to prevent further quarrels. Thanks ^^

    Hi, Leon. I should start by saying that I have never played Wright-Patterson myself. You asked:

    Maybe youve answered this
    Nope. Brand-spanking-new question.

    in wright Patterson does the rules of chow/chi apply? By that I mean are you able to claim a chi from any players discard or must it be claimed from and only from the player on the left?
    I scoured the W-P green book (the 2009 edition, the latest) and found that although there are chows in this game, there is no mention whatsoever in the rule book about whether or not a player can call a discard to make a chow. Rule 21 on page 10 mentions that you can have exposed pungs, but there is no mention in the rules of how one calls a discard to expose a pung! Therefore we must assume that certain basic procedures of Chinese Classical still apply.

    Then I looked through the blue book (the Visual Aid) at the various hands, and it was there that I found the rule you're asking about. It's on page 10, at the start of the Jewel Hands. Just as in all un-American forms of mah-jongg, one may only chow on one's turn (thus from the player at the left), except for mah-jongg (which may be claimed from anyone). Crack open your blue book, and turn to page 10 to see it for yourself.

    does the priority rule still apply for players claiming a tile for a different melds. ie. One for chi the other for pon. where kans take prio over pon and pon over chi etc.
    No. See rule 24 on page 10 of the green book. It's strictly by player order in W-P mah-jongg, not by reason for the claim -- except for mah-jongg, of course -- the mah-jongg claim trumps all other claims (as is done in all forms 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
    November 5, 2013


    She had a change of heart

    > From: "karenkd
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 4:46 AM
    > Subject: MJ question
    > Yesterday while playing MJ a player picked a tile from the wall, looked at it, but since she hadn't racked it yet, changed her mind and decided to return it and call the last tile thrown. Is this allowable? I know that someone has the opportunity to call a tile as long as it hasn't been racked but can you do that yourself if you are the one picking and then calling?
    > Thanks Tom!
    > Karen D


    > From: "karenkd
    > Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 4:55 AM
    > Subject: MJ
    > Oops, sorry Tom! Sent you a question but just found the answer on your website, sorry missed it first time through.
    > A: 1. Picking from the wall. After you've lifted or moved the tile off the wall, you may not change your mind and put it back. (You can reach for it and change your mind. You can even touch it and change your mind. But if you lift it or move it, it's yours and you have committed to taking it.)

    I love it when folks find their answers in the FAQs!
    May the tiles be with you, Karen.
    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
    November 5, 2013


    How do you determine rotation, part 2
    From: "lindaz
    Sent: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 5:55 AM
    Subject: Joan's Nov 4 email
    Hi Tom,
    Regarding Joan's email of Nov 4--the way our group rotates 10 players is to rotate the "East" person when a game is finished. We're pretty flexible about this. When one group is finished their game, those players look at the other tables. If another group is on their last wall, we'll set up a new wall and wait for the second group to finish, then switch East players. Sometimes players don't want to wait and will continue in the same group. Hope this helps!
    Thanks, Linda

    I agree that the person who dealt a just-finished hand rotates out (the same way it's done for a 5-player table, as described in FAQ 13A). As I said yesterday, it's unavoidable that there will be some waiting.
    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
    November 5, 2013


    Column 583, part 3

    > From: Deborah A
    > Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 6:08 PM
    > Subject: RE: November 3rd column #583
    > Answer to #15 cannot be 369#5. It should be 369#6 because there are 9Cs and 9Ds. This would make up the last hand under 369: a pair of 3Bs, a pair of 6Bs, a pair of 3Ds, a pair of 6Ds, a pair of 9Ds and a kong of 9Ds.
    > I have only been playing for a few months but I just can't see it any other way. Please explain your answer if I am mistaken.
    > Thank you.
    > Deborah

    Yep, you're right, Deborah. I'm assuming I just made a typo (or miscounted from top to bottom). It's fixed 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
    November 4, 2013


    How do you determine rotation

    > From: "jccatanese
    > Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 2:12 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Three tables playing. One table of 4 players Two tables of 3 players 10 players total.
    > Players do not want to play 2 tables of 4 with two players waiting.
    > How do you determine the rotation of the players .
    > Help me with my sanity.
    > Thank you,
    > Joan C

    I don't understand, Joan.
    What problem is there to solve? Rotate who from where to where, in order to accomplish what? Are you talking about rotating people from a 3-player table to a 4-player table, and vice versa? To what end? You said players don't want to wait, so they'd rather play 3-player at two tables instead. If there's nothing broken, there's nothing to fix.
    The only way that I can think of to "rotate" is to do the thing you say your players don't want to do (two 5-player tables). If you want people to rotate from table to table, then there will inevitably be waiting, since some games take longer than others. Not to mention the time it'll take to exchange places. You're going to have to figure this out between you. And when you do, I'm sure my readers would be glad to hear what you came up with.
    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
    November 4, 2013


    Column 483 583, part 2

    > From: Belinda
    > Sent: Monday, November 4, 2013 1:57 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Hi again. The title for my last email should be Column #583. Instead of Column 483.
    > Bee


    Column 483 583

    > From: Belinda
    > Sent: Sunday, November 3, 2013 9:27 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > LOVE your website, informative and challenging.
    > Regarding your Nov 3rd column #583
    > Your answer to #5: 2013 #4. The jokers are Rs.
    > I believe the jokers could also be soaps. The NJML's card has a parenthetical that says "any two dragons, any 2 or 3 suits". Their website also explains it,"FFFF DDD 2013 DDD. This hand may be played with any 2 Dragons. The 2, 1 and 3 may be in any suit." I bring this up as some players in our group were not aware of this until another player called mah jong and a discussion ensued regarding this rule.
    > The player should place the tiles in card order so that mah jong is easily verified. I could not find a rule regarding this in the rule book, but as it was last published in 1984, there may have been a rule change since. But players should beware when playing in a tournament as most tournaments require that the hand be placed in card order and anyone refusing to do so may be called dead.
    > Thanks for all you do.
    > Bee

    Very good, Bee! I made that change to the column, thanks to you. But a couple other things you said are worth further discussion:

    I could not find a rule regarding this in the rule book, but as it was last published in 1984, there may have been a rule change since.
    Rule changes are always to be found in the League's yearly bulletin. I have kept every yearly bulletin since I started playing in the late nineties, and I have gotten copies of some from before then. I have scoured them all, and incorporated my findings into my book and (as appropriate) the FAQs.

    most tournaments require that the hand be placed in card order and anyone refusing to do so may be called dead.
    Good point. Inna Youface would get her comeuppance, and rightly so!

    Of course, Inna is a made-up person, and nobody should actually display jumbled hands the way I did in that column, and if she did, she wouldn't get away with it for long. I hope it at least makes a reasonably good brainteaser for a Sunday.

    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
    November 4, 2013


    Set valuation

    > From: "flashgordon1942
    > Sent: Sunday, November 3, 2013 3:44 PM
    > Subject: mah jong set valuation
    > Hi:
    > My inquiry is in regards to determining an approximation of the value of a mah jong set belonging to my mother.
    > The set contains 152 tiles(a complete set plus 8 jokers)...The tiles are two-tone, with the underside being black.
    > There is a pair of dice, 2 trays, and 4 racks(with chip holders and folding poles).
    > The bams, dots, and cracks are in "fine" condition, with no visible defects. The flowers seem worn in comparison,
    > and can be described as being in a "good" state....The jokers, which consist of a sticker affixed to a blank tile,
    > are in "poor" shape...The dice and trays are in "fine" condition. The chip holding section of one of the racks shows
    > wear and one corner is slightly bent. Other than that they are nonetheless in "very good condition."
    > The rear section of the rack is slightly lower than the height of two tiles atop one another, and the horizontal surface
    > is as wide as the longest dimension of one tile. Additionally, the rack holds eighteen tiles.
    > In general, for a set that is at least sixty years old, and in use for all but two of those years, the tiles are clear and
    > attractive(with exceptions noted above).
    > Furthermore, based on the sourcing of "FAQ 7c, on visual inspection, I believe the tiles are made from bakelite
    > (experiments performed proved inconclusive).
    > My mother received the set as a gift when she first started playing. She is now ninety-four years old.
    > The tile dimensions are as follows:
    > height: 1" width: 3/4" depth: 5/16"
    > The tiles come with a nondescript scuffed metallic carrying case, 20" X 4", that is not very attractive.
    > There are no paper materials included. The graphics on the cracks would seem to be indicative of the
    > set to be of a latter period of manufacture.
    > Thank you in advance for your assistance.
    > P.S. I'm sorry but I can't seem to forward all of the photos at once, and thus I have to portion them out.

    Hello, flashgordon#. You wrote:

    The bams, dots, and cracks are in "fine" condition... The flowers seem worn in comparison,
    > and can be described as being in a "good" state....The jokers, which consist of a sticker affixed to a blank tile,
    > are in "poor" shape
    Let's call those "good," too (anyone could clean off the old stickers and affix new ones). Let's say that all the tiles are "good."

    The chip holding section of one of the racks shows
    > wear and one corner is slightly bent.
    Then let's call your racks "good."

    a nondescript scuffed metallic carrying case, 20" X 4", that is not very attractive.
    Then let's call everything "good."

    P.S. I'm sorry but I can't seem to forward all of the photos at once, and thus I have to portion them out.
    All your photos were blurry but I get the gist. The one thing I would have wanted to see beyond the ones you sent would be a photo of the case, but your description tells me enough.

    an approximation of the value of [it]
    Somewhere around $80, give or take. It needs restoring before it can be valued much higher.

    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
    November 3, 2013


    Can you help me put a value, part 2

    > From: Karen S
    > Sent: Sunday, November 3, 2013 5:14 AM
    > Subject: RE: "Found" Set - Can you help me put a value on it?
    > Hi Tom – Thank you very much for your quick answer! I did not mean to confuse you about the blanks – I had turned over the two that were not blanks so you could see the backs matched perfectly. As for color, must be a monitor thing because the photos show the right shade here. But if that doesn’t affect value, I won’t worry about it. About the value, you gave great news. Your valuation was much more than I paid, but not so much that I would be afraid to play with it – perfect combination! I’ll be playing soon with these beautiful tiles. Thanks again for your help and all you do for the Mah Jongg community.
    > Karen

    Hi, Karen. You wrote:

    I had turned over the two that were not blanks so you could see the backs matched perfectly
    It was a bad idea to do that.

    Thanks again for your help and all you do for the Mah Jongg community.
    You're welcome.

    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
    November 3, 2013


    Can you help me put a value on it?

    > From: Karen S
    > Sent: Saturday, November 2, 2013 1:39 PM
    > Subject: "Found" Set - Can you help me put a value on it?
    > Hi Tom –
    > I came across this set and have done as much research as this novice is able to do. I’m a player, but not a collector, so I picked it up because I liked in. It seems to be in such good condition that I thought I should know its value before it gets too much use! Can you please help me put a value on this set?
    > Here’s what I learned so far:
    > · Condition of case is good. There are a few wear marks, and handle has been replaced, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to use it. There is one key. The locks work, but show age.
    > · Racks are in excellent condition. The only place age shows in on the brass coin holders. They all work, and are not damaged, just showing age. Does polishing diminish value?
    > · The tiles seem to match up with Royal Depth Control sets I have seen at the sites you recommended in your FAQ. Am I on the right track?
    > · The tiles are light butterscotch, with a slight greenish/gray cast. Is this what is meant by references to “olive oil” color?
    > · The tiles measure 1 3/8” x 13/16” x 7/8”. They are perfectly matched, no chips, no cracks, no obvious discolorations, and very little wear on the tiles.
    > · There are 164 tiles. Photos are attached to this e-mail, but here’s a summary of what’s included:
    > o All four of the 1-9 bams, craks, and dots
    > o All 12 dragons and all 16 winds
    > o 20 flowers (8 seasons, 12 flower in vases)
    > o 4 natural Big Jokers and 4 matched extra tiles for stickers (2 are blanks)
    > Thank you for your help!
    > Karen

    Hi, Karen. You wrote:

    Condition of case is good.
    That's too bad. That diminishes the value of the set.

    Does polishing diminish value?
    No, I don't think so.

    The tiles seem to match up with Royal Depth Control sets I have seen at the sites you recommended in your FAQ. Am I on the right track?
    As it says in FAQ 7u, I'm not an expert on manufacturers. The only way I know a set is RDC is if there's an RDC label in the case. That said, the parts do all resemble one of my RDC sets.

    The tiles are light butterscotch, with a slight greenish/gray cast. Is this what is meant by references to “olive oil” color?
    Your tiles look yellow to me.

    4 matched extra tiles for stickers (2 are blanks)
    In the photo, it looks like there are 4 blanks. I'm confused. And your set seems to have 3 or 4 pairs of dice - one green, one yellow, and one or two red pairs. Weird (somebody must have added dice into the set).

    Can you please help me put a value on this set?
    If the case was in better than just good condition and if it had an RDC label, I'd guess somewhere around $200. But this looks like it's probably closer to $150, plus or minus.

    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
    November 2, 2013


    Frequently Asked Question 19E

    >From: Veronica K. C
    >Sent: Friday, November 1, 2013 12:48 AM
    >Subject: Question
    >Am I allowed to draw a discarded tile to display NEWS on my rack?

    Welcome to my website, Veronica. 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.

    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
    November 1, 2013


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