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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
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  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
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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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  7r. "I Need Jokers!"
  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
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12.
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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.)

  • PLEASE do NOT ask ANY computer-game support questions here. Read FAQ 24 to learn how to get tech support. (See links at left.)

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

    Email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome. And don't ask me to click links, either. Give me all the information in your email.


    To ask a question, click the image or email the address above.

    After you submit your comment or question, return to this board sometime later to see the response (below) - and keep coming back to see followup discussions.

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

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

    Please note that this site is NOT associated with the National Mah Jongg League. Although questions about the League's card and rules are welcome here, please read FAQ 16 and FAQ 19 to see if your question has already been answered. Also, you can click here to learn how to contact the NMJL directly.

    If you appreciate the free information on this site, your donation would be gratefully accepted, and would help keep this site running as a free service. Thank you!

    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.





  • May I retrieve a tile

    > From: Janet M
    > Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 5:56 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: May I retrieve a tile and reveal it with nothing but jokers?

    Hi, Janet. You wrote:

    May I retrieve a tile
    "Retrieve"? If you drop a tile off the table, of course you must get it back onto the playing table.

    and reveal it with nothing but jokers?
    I think you're asking Frequently Asked Question 19L, and I assume you play American (NMJL) rules. Look above left for the FAQs (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
    February 28, 2014


    MCR scoring Q

    > From: "HKelley350
    > Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:31 PM
    > Subject: Scoring Question
    > This has been an intense 2+ weeks learning Mahjong. Your book stays in my left hand as I set up my tiles with my right hand, creating hands to score. I will make this my last scoring question for awhile, for I do not want to wear out my welcome with all of these newbie questions (smile). This is the hand that I am trying to score:
    >
    > 3 Dot Melded Pung
    > 8 Dot Melded Kong
    > 9 Bamboo Melded Kong
    > 5-6-7 Concealed Chow
    > 9 Crack Pair
    >
    > I have scored this hand as follows: 2 Melded Kongs - 4 (pg 154)
    > 1 Terminal Kong - 1 (pg. 156)
    > - No Honors - 1 (pg. 156)
    > It is my understanding that 1's & 9's are the terminal numbers, so would
    > there be scoring for the 9 Crack Pair?
    >
    > Others scored it as: 2 Terminal Pungs - 2
    > No Honors - 1
    > 2 Melded Kongs - 4
    >
    > Tom what have I missed? Thank you!
    > Helen Kelley
    > P.S. My American Mahjong class starts March 13th. Really looking forward to it.,

    Hi, Helen.
    So here's the hand you described (you didn't say what suit the chow was, I picked bams):

    So, let's see if it has the things you said:
    Two Melded Kongs - yes
    One Terminal Kong - yes
    No Honors - yes
    Two Terminal Pungs - no (other than the 9B kong, what else could possibly count as a terminal pung?)

    You asked, "would there be scoring for the 9 Crack Pair?" The answer is no. You don't see it listed among the fan in the book, do you? If it's not listed, it's not a fan.
    You asked, "what have I missed?" Well, all the tiles are reversible, except 7B and 9C (which means the hand is not reversible, so forget I mentioned it at all). I don't see anything else.
    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
    February 26, 2014


    A disharmonious episode

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Etiquette - - Bad Habits - -Making everyone wait
    >Hi Tom,
    >We had an issue that arose in our weekly game today. Player 1 picked and discarded, Player 2 did the same. Player 1 said wait. After a few seconds, I (player 3) said are you going to call this tile? She responded no, I need time to figure out my hand. I then said we need to move along. Player 1 became irate about being called on stopping the game. Mind you that she had been with myself and two others at a tournament on Sunday, so we are not beginners by any means. Fireworks continued even after the game ended – tension and disharmony - -very sad.
    >I just looked over your FAQ 9 and feel that this falls into Mah Jongg Etiquette - - Bad Habits - -Making everyone wait. And Is it better to say nothing for the sake of “Harmony”? What say you?
    >Thanks,
    >Donna

    Hi, Donna.
    It was very bad manners on the part of player 1 to say "wait" if she was not thinking about calling player 2's discard. However, it is disharmonious to call someone out for bad manners. The way you described it, though, it sounds like you did it right (you asked, "are you thinking about the live discard?" and when she answered "no, I just need everybody to stop and give me extra time," you said "we need to move along"). She was in the wrong, and it sounds to me like you were not overly harsh. But I was not present and I did not hear your tone. And I don't know how many seconds you waited to speak.

    Personally, I don't really like saying "wait." In Asia, that would not go over well at all. When a player speaks, it should be decisive. "I'll take that." "Call." "I'm taking that." (In Asia you would say "pung" or "chow.") A lesson I'm hammering into my current class: "if you don't know whether or not you want it, don't say anything."

    That was too lengthy -- here's the short version: I think it's better manners to say "call" than "wait."

    But in the case you describe, player 1 didn't only say "wait" -- she wasn't even thinking about the discard -- she just didn't like that the game was moving quicker than she could think, and she was willing to hold up everyone and it wasn't even her turn. That's bad manners on her part. Of course she got mad when that was pointed out to her.
    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
    February 26, 2014


    Jokerless

    > From: Debra m
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 3:34 PM
    > Subject: NMJL /American question
    >You used a joker in a displayed portion of your hand and another player then trades that out for the natural tile. When finally calling Mahjong, you now displays hand without jokers ... Is that considered a joker less hand that pays double?
    > Thank you so much for providing a place to get answers.
    > Debbie M
    > A new player

    Yes. See rule 73 at the top of page 56 of my book.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 26, 2014


    My question is

    > From: Judy B
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 3:46 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Your message was blank. Please try 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
    February 26, 2014


    Why is this Chicken and not Tile Hog?

    > From: "HKelley350
    > Sent: Monday, February 24, 2014 9:29 PM
    > Subject: Scoring - Chicken Hand
    > Trying to understand why this hand is scored as a Chicken Hand vs, Tile Hog:
    > 5 Dot Melded Pung
    > 6 Crack Concealed Pung
    > 4-5-6 Melded Bamboo Chow
    > 7-8-9 Melded Dot Chow
    > Winds Pair Concealed
    > Is it the winds pair (honor tiles), that make it a chicken hand? 7-8-9 Dot & 5 Dot Pung = Tile Hog?????. This is the start of my 2nd week trying to learn Mahjong, so trying to recognize these two types of hands is presenting a bit of a challenge! As always, thank you in advance for your help in understanding this exciting game.
    > Helen K
    > P.S - By the way have you played Mahjong with Isabel Bahiano Steenholm?

    Hi, Helen.
    Tile Hog is four identical tiles that are not used as a kong. This hand does not have any Tile Hog in it. Look at page 188 again.
    As for why the hand is Chicken, read page 185. This hand has nothing that earns 1 point in it anywhere - that's actually hard to do in MCR, so the hand is valued at 8 points.
    No, the name Isabel Steenholm does not sound familiar.
    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
    February 24, 2014


    Claiming a discard for a pair

    > From: Terence L.
    > Sent: Monday, February 24, 2014 3:29 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > When a player is going for “seven sisters” or seven pairs, can that person take a discarded tile from the player before them if they can pair it with something in their hand? Some of us think you must pull all of your own pairs to get seven sisters while others think it is okay to pick the discarded tile from the payer before you. If you can clarify this it would be greatly appreciated.
    > Thank you, Terence L

    Hi, Terence.
    I guess I didn't include this in FAQ 20. You can take a discard only for the following:
    To complete a pung (you must expose it);
    To turn a concealed pung into a kong (you must expose it);
    To complete a chow (only on your turn, from the player at your left, and you must expose the chow);
    To make mah-jongg (you must expose the entire hand).
    You may never take a discard to make a pair, unless that pair completes your hand (in which case you're doing #4 above). Your group needs to have a book to which you can turn when rules questions arise. I can't tell for certain which mah-jongg variant you play, but I believe Amy Lo's book might work for you. See FAQ 3 for the complete title.
    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
    February 24, 2014


    Certification for teachers

    > From: Regina P
    > Sent: Monday, February 24, 2014 3:56 PM
    > Subject: Teaching American Mah Jongg
    > Dear Tom....I have been playing American Mah Jongg for 12 years now and have gone to many Mah Jongg Madness Tournaments (I greatly admire and respect Gladys Grad) as well as to several local area (Columbus and Cincinnati) smaller tournaments. For the last three years I have been teaching Mah Jongg in the Dayton, Ohio area. I have read your book and I quote you often, especially in terms of "window of opportunity" and "table harmony". Not for nothing, but I love your approach to the game. I was just at a tournament where some people were saying that "so and so" was a "certified Mah Jongg teacher"; however, I am unable to find a "certification process" for such a claim. Is there one, and if not (as I suspect) is there a movement to establish such a program? I was reading some of your discussion on your website (which is awesome, by the way!) surrounding this topic and I wholeheartedly agree that one must teach the rules according to the NMJL and expanded upon by the Mah Jongg Master Point system. I would like to pursue certification if it exists and would appreciate your assistance in obtaining this information. Thank you so much for your time and attention to this matter. (yes, I know..you own this email; no problem). Gina P, Dayton, OH

    Hi, Gina.
    Thanks for the kind words. There is no certification process for mah-jongg teachers. If someone says that So and so is a certified teacher, it might be amusing to call So and so, and ask her where she allegedly got certified!
    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
    February 24, 2014


    Could you give me some information on this set

    > From: M Robin C
    >Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 11:55 AM
    > Subject: mah jong set
    >Hello Tom,
    > was wondering if you could give me some information on this Mah Jong set. It was me Grandmothers. Am interested in selling it.
    > Robin

    Hi, Robin.
    Yes, I can give you some information on it. What specific kind of information do you want? Please read Frequently Asked Question 7. You'll find links to the FAQs above left, marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    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
    February 21, 2014


    My PC mahjong game went black

    > From: Pattie C
    > Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 10:44 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I just bought a hp laptop with built in mahjong game. The background went black with only a few tiles showing. How van I make it come back to normal. What option do I have?

    Hello, Pattie. Please read Frequently Asked Question 24. You'll find links to the FAQs above left, marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    Good luck!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 21, 2014


    Mahjong-O-Matic

    > From: "HKelley350
    > Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:51 PM
    > Subject: Question: Scoring
    > Your book arrived, and I am diligently studying & realize there is much to learn. Discovered the website: Mahjong-O-Matic Call My Game, where I am learning how to recognize and score a hand using Chinese Official International Rules Scoring. One that I tried to identify and score tonight was: 6 Dot Melded Kong, 6 Bam Pung (Concealed), 6 Dot Pung (Concealed), 1-2-3 Crac Melded Chow and White Dragon Pair. According to the scoring answer, the site stated that this hand represented 1 point for a Melded Kong (Rule #6). What about the (2) Pungs. Would that be a double Pung for 2 points?, or am I missing something (in your book it is found on page 155 #65). Thanks in advance for the clarification.
    > Helen K

    Hi, Helen.
    There's something wrong with the hand you described.

    You described a hand with seven 6Ds. Let's assume that instead of saying 6D a second time, you meant 6C:

    This hand would score Triple Pung, since there is a kong and two pungs, all of the same number. That's 16 points, plus one point for the exposed kong. I did some digging, and found Franz's email address. If you have questions about how Mahjong-O-Matic works, you could email him at franz@Mahjong-O-Matic.com. I also saw that he says he is working on a revision (no estimated arrival date).

    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
    February 21, 2014


    Are these really ivory?

    > From: Russell R
    > Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 5:20 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My Ma-Chiong question or comment is: Hello, I have a Ma-Chiong set that I am going to sell. The very cool included instruction booklet for the wood box chest set is from the Admiral Oriental Line steamships and is dated 1923. From reading your information I’m most certain that the tiles are bone (and not Ivory) with the dovetailed bamboo bottom. My question is that the booklet description notes “dotted Ivory counters”. There’s probably a hundred of these irregular shaped sticks. Are these really Ivory? Does that make a difference to the value of the set? I do a lot of Ebay selling and have a solid reputation, is this auction format OK to sell these types of antiques?
    > ANY help you could give me would be greatly appreciated!!!
    > Thank you for your time!
    > Russ R
    > Orinda, CA

    Hi, Russ. You wrote:

    There’s probably a hundred of these irregular shaped sticks.
    You can't say "probably a hundred" when you go to sell the set. The set should include 29x4=116 sticks (see FAQ 7d; the FAQs are above left).

    Are these really Ivory?
    Extremely unlikely. But you can find out for sure by taking the "Is It Ivory" test (FAQ 7c2).

    Does that make a difference to the value of the set?
    It would, if you really had ivory sticks with your bone/bam tiles.

    is this auction format OK to sell these types of antiques?
    If you're asking if you can sell ivory items on eBay, you'd have to check eBay's rules (on the eBay website). People sell old mah-jongg sets on eBay all the time, and they often call them ivory even if they aren't really. (A deplorable practice, of course.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 20, 2014


    Can I do this?

    > From: Wanda R
    > Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:27 AM
    > Subject: Question
    > I have exposed a pung of two 4 Bams and 1 Joker. In my hand, I have one 6 Bams but need 2 more (or Jokers) for Mah Jongg. I draw a 4 Bam but forget to exchange that for my Joker during my turn. I am waiting to do that in my next turn. In the meantime, a 6 Bam is discarded. Can I call for the 6 Bam for Mahongg.....taking the 4 Bam from my hand and putting it in my pung exposure; taking that Joker to add to my 6 Bams plus the discarded one that I just called for and make Mah Jongg? Without being able to exchange the 4 Bam in my hand for the Joker, I do not have enough tiles to pick up the 6 Bam discard.
    > My thinking is that when that 6 Bam is discarded, it is not my turn. So, I cannot exchange the Joker. And without using the Joker, I am not eligible to pick up the 6 Bam and declare Mah Jongg. Am I right?
    > Thanks,
    > Wanda

    Hi, Wanda. The key part of your question is:

    Can I call for the 6 Bam for Mahongg.....taking the 4 Bam from my hand and putting it in my pung exposure; taking that Joker to add to my 6 Bams plus the discarded one that I just called for
    When you call the 6B, you have to make your COMPLETE exposure. You cannot call the 6B, make an incomplete exposure, then redeem a joker and use it to complete the 6B exposure. See Frequently Asked Question 19M. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs - they're marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    If I have missed something, then you'll need to tell me exactly what tiles you had and what hand you were making (to complete the picture you only started to paint).
    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
    February 20, 2014


    Is this a legal hand?

    > From: Shari & Jacob K
    > Sent: Thursday, February 20, 2014 5:15 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I have been playing for years and last week one of my friends played a hand that wasn't on the card and I had never heard of it. She called it an "on" hand. It was made up of random pairs and she said it is legal as long as she hadn't had any jokers or flowers the whole game. Can you confirm or deny this as a hand and if it is legal, could you direct me to where I could see it any any others I might now know about?
    > Many thanks,
    > Shari K
    > Connecticut

    Hi, Shari.
    It's a table rule, not an official rule. Most people call it "atomic." Read Frequently Asked Question 19-AZ, FAQ 19-BK, and FAQ 14. 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. You should buy a book for your friend. She clearly has never seen the official rules.
    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
    February 20, 2014


    Is it legal to claim a redeemable discard and use it for redeeming a joker?

    > From: Mary D
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 8:42 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mahjong question or comment is: A 9 crack was discarded. The next player picked it up and replaced it with with the joker in her own exposed set using the Joker to declare Mahjong. Is this leagal

    Hi, Mary.
    My apologies! Your email somehow found its way into my spam folder, which I hadn't checked in a week. I need to check it more often. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19G. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Especially if I'm not going to notice your email!
    Answer: "Once a redeemable tile has been discarded, it can only be taken for mah-jongg or to create a new set for exposure. It is NOT permitted to take the tile in order to redeem it for a joker."
    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
    February 18, 2014


    Mahjong set ID, part 2

    > From: Gerry
    > Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2014 9:31 AM
    > Subject: FW: Mahjong set identification
    > Hi Tom,
    > Thank you for your answers they were enlightening. When reading your answers however, it only struck me how badly worded my requests were. I am sending the whole email below again for easy reference.
    > Can you tell me
    > 1. How would I be able to find out who manufactured this set or in which country it was manufactured. Since the flower pieces(only) were inscribed with western numbers, would this have been made in the east for westeners?. It is easy to count the circles and bamboo. Characters is not too difficult to work out but the flowers are difficult for westeners so my thinking is that this could have been made in the east for westeners (possibly early sets prior to western mass production) and imported to the west. How do you see this?.
    > 2. How would I be able to check the age of the set?. The commercial sites are not to be trusted.
    > 3. Were the chips that came with the site part of the original set?.
    > 4. Do you know of any one that is an expert on vintage mah-jong sets that would be able to assist me?.
    > Regards,
    > Gerry F

    Hi again, Gerry. You asked:

    How would I be able to find out who manufactured this set
    I have no idea.

    or in which country it was manufactured.
    It was made in China. I don't know who you can ask for a second opinion.

    How would I be able to check the age of the set?
    I don't know of anyone you can ask for a second opinion (I said before that it could have been made in the 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s). But you can go on the Mahjong Museum site, or CHarli's site, or CoolOldGames (there are links at the bottom of FAQ 4a) and see if you can find similar tiles there.

    The commercial sites are not to be trusted.
    I do not know what commercial sites you're talking about.

    Were the chips that came with the site part of the original set?.
    They might have been. But they were painted by someone who owned the set before you (same as the tiles). When manufactured, chips do not have numbers painted on them.

    Do you know of any one that is an expert on vintage mah-jong sets that would be able to assist me?.
    No, but you can go on the Mahjong Museum site, or CHarli's site, or CoolOldGames (there are links at the bottom of FAQ 4a), and see what you can find there.

    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
    February 16, 2014


    Gulp, part 2

    > From: "caje@earthlink
    > Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2014 8:52 AM
    > Subject: Re: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.
    > To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand.
    > If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience.
    > Click the link below to fill out the request:
    > https://webmail.pas.earthlink.net/wam/addme?a=caje@earthlink.net&id=11e3-972a-c1c443e4-a0b0-00212810e598

    I got the above when I replied to Carol's email, to let her know that the answer is posted here. In the past, I may have taken that extra step, but I've decided I don't need to ever play this particular game in response to Q&As. Carol, I hope you come back and find your answers (below).
    Tom


    Winning by discard for a chow

    > From: Todd H
    > Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2014 4:35 AM
    > Subject: Hong Kong Mahjong: Chow for the Win
    > Hello Tom,
    > My question is about Hong Kong (Old Style) Mahjong and claiming a discard for a Chow.
    > Now I understand quite clearly that the rules state that only the person seated to the right of the discarder may claim a discarded tile for a Chow. However, when looking at the precedence order (Pung/Kong claims take precedence over a Chow), one can see that a claim for a win/mahjong trumps all. Does this mean that anyone (East, South, West, or North) may claim a discard if it's for the win, even if that discard creates mahjong by completing a Chow?
    > I think the confusion may lie in the fact that I learned the American style of Mah Jongg first, which permits the claim of any tile for the win. See FAQ 20L (you can link to the FAQs above left).
    > Thanks in advance for your response,
    > Todd H
    > Cambridge, New York

    Hi, Todd.
    In ALL forms of mah-jongg, "mah-jongg trumps everything," and the player may claim the mah-jongg tile, no matter what part of the hand it completes. In some Asian forms, some sets (parts of the hand) might technically be considered "exposed" thereby, but that just affects the scoring of the hand -- winning on the discard is perfectly valid. I'm amending FAQ 20B to include this frequently asked question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 16, 2014


    Gulp; I'm going to be a tournament judge

    > From: c h
    > Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2014 6:22 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hi Tom,
    > such an awesome site, thank you soooo much.
    > We're about to host our first tournament and I am the 'monitor' - gulp... wanna be an excellent one and know what I'm doing.
    > there is a 'rule' that states
    > . If you claim a discarded tile and touch-and-move that tile, it must be used in your exposure or for Mah Jongg.
    > what if they called by mistake and don't want to do it because they realize they are actually unable to with the tiles in their hand.
    > to follow through with this - if someone touches it yet truly cannot create an 'exposure' to use it, does this mean they are 'dead'?
    > Also, are we hard core if another player picks up a tile to pass it to the one who called, as a courtesy? How do we handle that.
    > This of course is all for a 'serious' play in tournament.
    > thanks
    > Carol H
    > Santa Fe Mah Jongg Players

    Hi, Carol. You wrote:

    there is a 'rule' that states
    > . If you claim a discarded tile and touch-and-move that tile, it must be used in your exposure or for Mah Jongg.
    Where did you find that wording, Carol? I looked in the official rulebook, and I can't find those words.

    what if they called by mistake and don't want to do it because they realize they are actually unable to with the tiles in their hand.
    > to follow through with this - if someone touches it yet truly cannot create an 'exposure' to use it, does this mean they are 'dead'?
    Take a look at Frequently Asked Question 19-AM. The official rule says something different from the "rule" you stated.

    Also, are we hard core if another player picks up a tile to pass it to the one who called, as a courtesy? How do we handle that.
    I don't understand the "are we hard core" part of your question (it seems like a non sequitur). It is courteous to hand a tile to a player who called it, especially if the caller is infirm and has difficulty reaching. If the caller objects to anyone handling "her" tiles, then it's unwise to hand a tile to her. When in doubt, best to not pick it up, but the practice certainly does not rise to the level of a death penalty.
    That said, it is possible for collusion cheating to occur when one player hands another person a tile -- or one could hand the wrong tile, which could theoretically result in the other player's being called dead. Note: I said "possible," not "likely." When in doubt, best to not pick it 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
    February 16, 2014


    Kards in Los Angeles

    >From: Allie
    >Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2014 2:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Kards in Los Angeles
    >Hi there- my mother in law is in town and wanted to pick up a deck of mah jongg Kards while here. We just returned from china town and asked a number of shop keepers if hey sold the Kards and could not find any. They just had the sets for sale. Is there a store that you recommend to purchase the Kards, similar to the ones on the website?
    >Thank you so much for your help!
    >Best,
    >Allie

    Hi, Allie.
    I purchased these Chinese kards in Chinatown Los Angeles:

    If you're looking for American kards, you'll need to purchase them online. There are vendors listed in FAQs 4a and 4b.
    May the kards 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
    February 16, 2014


    Mahjong set identification

    > From: Gerry
    > Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2014 4:25 AM
    > Subject: Mahjong set identification
    > Hi Tom,
    > In my search in trying to identify a mah-jong set that I bought for my wife I came upon your site. I surfed all other obvious sites to identify this set but came up empty handed. Can you help?.
    > The set comprises of 148 pieces as can be seen from the photographs. There are 140 pieces including the two dragons and 8 blank pieces. The pieces , (I think after research) looks like bakelite pieces. They each have a backing piece which is dark in colour and when held to the light is a “brown-green” colour. I assume that they got darker over time. The only pieces that have any western inscription (1-4) are the eight flower pieces. The other numbers were added on the surface that looks like artists oil paint. (this bonds very well as it won’t scratch off with the nails.) I think that all the pieces were hand engraved as all the characters and inscriptions all differ slightly and the spacing of items are not identical. The top corner of the pieces are quite sharp 90 deg. Angle with the four short corners chamfered off. (also not all identical) the backing pieces are delaminating, which we knew when I bought them, and I would now like to restore what I can. I think that the process of delamination is ongoing as a few additional pieces have delaminated.
    > With the set came the “chips” that come in 6 different colours and that are not all identical in thickness. These have all been marked with values. They have also been discoloures which can be seen on the thin edge with lighter colours showing. There are also 3 large chips that have been decorated with the N,W,S (north west south) the east is missing. The “dial” for the season is also there but the western inscription (N,S,E,W)on the inside has been added.
    > The game came in a timber box which I do not believe to be an original but a remake of a possibly later mah-jong cardboard box. There is no other inscription on the chips or box and there is no booklet or papers with the set.
    > Maybe that this is a fake set made to look authentic. Can you shed any light on this for me.
    > Regards,
    > Gerry F

    Hi, Gerry. You wrote:

    trying to identify a mah-jong set
    I'm not sure what that means. It's a mah-jongg set, no question about that.

    There are 140 pieces including the two dragons and 8 blank pieces.
    There are 140 pieces, but you have all three of your dragons, complete (4 of each), and 4 extra blanks (see FAQ 7E). So it's a fairly typical Chinese set.

    looks like bakelite
    That translucent type of yellow plastic is often referred to as "applejuice Bakelite."

    numbers were added on the surface that looks like artists oil paint.
    Right. The set was made for use by people who could read the Chinese characters, and was modified by a westerner.

    the backing pieces are delaminating
    That's too bad. I hope you find a solvent or glue that'll fix them. Somebody else wrote about separating tiles recently (Feb. 10, below). See if there are any useful tips in FAQ seven oh.

    The game came in a timber box which I do not believe to be an original but a remake
    Yes, that's probable.

    Maybe that this is a fake set made to look authentic.
    There's no such thing as a fake mah-jongg set. If a set has mah-jongg pieces, it's a mah-jongg set. The fact that your two-tone (layered) tiles are separating is proof that it really is old (like forties, fifties, sixties old). The fact that it's had a new custom case made is proof that the original case (which might have been leather and cardboard - see Wendy's Feb. 10 post, below) fell apart from age.

    I don't know if I have helped you or not, because I'm not sure what you were looking for.

    May the tiles be with you, Gerry.
    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
    February 16, 2014


    My automatic table

    > From: Madison U
    > Sent: Saturday, February 15, 2014 5:49 PM
    > Subject: Auto tables in US
    > Hi, i wanted to say i really enjoy your site, and have found it useful many time as it has been a valuable resource for me learning and as a resource for members of my mahjong club.
    > I purchased an automatic table from Versatile Machinery in Tampa www.versatilemachinery.com. They are a family operated business and i had an opportunity to visit their business, which is not really a showroom as it is a small warehousing unit, but suitable for their business type. They were extremely courteous, and they were very friendly and willing to show me the machines inside and out, and answer any questions i had. They sell and service their machines from Tampa, and their warranty will cover any problems a user may have. The owners are a husband and wive team, Charles and Vicky Vera. Charles is from the US and his wife Vicky is from China, and both of them are fun to talk with. Charles has a background as a mechanical engineer who worked in china on factory machine manufacturing. They are easy to communicate with, and bend over backwards to accommodate the needs of their customers. They offer Chinese as well as Japanese tables which are smaller in size, also they sell American tiles, 40mm Chinese tiles and smaller Japanese tiles, even playing card times, and dominoes. The tables have a switch inside that allows you to select a number to correspond with the number of times being played , this allows one table to be able to accommodate at least 40 different games. Their styles range from basic to very elaborate with beautiful wood and detailing.
    > I would recommend them to any customer in the US, they are trustworthy, have excellent service, sell a fine product that works very well. This is especially important to any customer who is leery doing business with a Chinatown NY shop that has limited English and even more sketchy service.
    > Here are some photos of my machine, 3 are just pictures of it in all its beauty, the 4th is a photo of the chart on the inside of the panel displaying the many choices of games you can set the table up for.
    > Also here is a link to my meetup.com group, we play Chinese and Japanese style mahjong, but i have a chinese style table, Charles and Vicki were nice enough to send me extra 5's i could paint red.
    > Glens Falls Mahjong
    > Please use my photos and review of this company. And if you have a resource of local clubs, can you list me on it?
    > Madison U

    Hi, Madison.
    That's great that you found a nice table. If Versatile wants to advertise on my site, they should email me and inquire about rates.
    I can list your club on the Find Players/Teachers/Events bulletin board - just send me a brief email to post verbatim.
    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
    February 16, 2014


    May a joker be called?

    > From: Joy
    >Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 1:55 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >May the joker be called from the previous discard to declare Mah Jongg for a hand that requires a joker.....like MJ in the singles and pairs? Can it be called to complete a quint when I have four matching tiles for Mah Jongg?

    >From: Joy
    >Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 2:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Updated question
    >May the joker be called from the previous discard to declare Mah Jongg for a hand that requires a joker.....like MJ in the singles and pairs? Can it be called to complete a quint when I have four matching tiles for Mah Jongg?
    >Or if hand is a pair of JJs.......because, for Mah Jongg a person could call the 4 for a,pair of 4's for instance.

    Hello, Joy. You wrote:

    May the joker be called from the previous discard
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19G. You'll find links to the FAQs above left, marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    Can it be called to complete a quint when I have four matching tiles for Mah Jongg?
    No. Read FAQ 19G.

    Or if hand is a pair of JJs.......because, for Mah Jongg a person could call the 4 for a,pair of 4's for instance.
    You've lost me, Joy. I don't know what you're asking. But if it's anything about claiming a discarded joker, the answer is "read FAQ 19G."

    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
    V.D., 2014


    Know of any other American-style computer games besides NMJL and MJT?

    > From: Rose Asprea
    >Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 12:25 PM
    > Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    > Do you know of any websites where you can play american mah jongg live? Besides the National Mah Jongg league and Mah Jonggtime?
    > Also, would it be appropriate to note me as a teacher of Mah Jongg on your website? I live in Westchester County.
    > Thank You.
    >Rose Asprea

    Hi, Rose. You wrote:

    Do you know of any websites where you can play american mah jongg live? Besides the National Mah Jongg league and Mah Jonggtime?
    If I did, I would have listed it in FAQ 5. I'm not in the habit of withholding important information like that from the FAQs.

    Also, would it be appropriate to note me as a teacher of Mah Jongg on your website?
    Sure. Send me the information so I can put it in FAQ 4a.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    V.D., 2014


    Option i never seen before

    > From: spanishfly7709
    > Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 7:06 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I was playing richii on a program called Janruymon and all the elements of the game is there except chombo penalties. I had a hand where after the tiles were taken at the start of the game and the three other players took there turn and it was my first turn it gave me a option i never seen before so i clicked it and my hand was layed down exposed i didn't draw a tile or lay one down then everyone hand was layed down exposed the round was over and no exchange of points there was no three north winds layed down either and the forth cause a abortive draw so is there any rule in real Richii that can cause this?

    Hi, Spanish. You wrote:

    all the elements of the game is there except chombo penalties.
    Right. Many riichi/dora majan programs simply do not permit illegal plays. Some have an option to unlock those.

    it was my first turn it gave me a option i never seen before so i clicked it and my hand was layed down exposed i didn't draw a tile or lay one down then everyone hand was layed down exposed the round was over
    Sounds like a nagare (redeal) was offered to you, and you took it. Most likely, you had eight unique honors/terminals, and you drew a ninth one on your first pick. Or Janryumon permits a redeal under some other circumstance close to that (like just having eight unique honors/terminals). I know of five redeal situations, and this one is the most likely to happen in the first go-around. It's unlikely that all four players declared riichi, or that three players claimed a win on the same discard, or that four kongs had been made.

    there was no three north winds layed down either
    Four same winds (any same wind, not only north) would cause a redeal.

    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
    Valentine's Day, 2014


    What variant, part 2

    > From: "HKelley350
    > Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 5:24 PM
    > Subject: American MahJong vs. Variants
    > Thank you for your kind response. This is my score: C - 4; A - 3; G - 2; J - 1; O - 1; V - 1 & W - 1. I gather that Chinese and/or American would be the starting places in my endeavor to learn MahJong. Again, thank you for your kindness.
    > Helen

    Cool. Have fun, Helen!
    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
    February 13, 2014


    What variant would you recommend?

    > From: "HKelley350
    > Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 3:11 PM
    > Subject: American MahJong vs. Variants
    > Approximately a month ago I discovered MahJong.. I have been watching Youtube videos trying to learn a few things about the game. In the last week I have ordered A Beginner's Guide to American MahJong, Winning American MahJong Strategies: A Novice Guide as well as your book. The first one has already arrived, and I am currently waiting for the last two. I also purchased a MahJong set through Ebay, and expecting that sometime early next week. (American MahJong with larger tiles).
    > I have been watching YT videos on American MahJong, Chinese MahJong , Japanese MahJong & Asian Pacific MahJong. I am not a gambler, so I am not looking to play for money. I had read on Sloperma that you love the many variant ways of playing. However, American MahJong seems tedious because of its yearly fanciful hand limitations. When I watch a MahJong tourments, they are playing with MCR Competition Rules.
    > For a novice, what variant would you recommend. Thank you in advance for your kind response.
    > Helen

    Hi, Helen.
    I'm delighted that you bought my book. If you think American mah-jongg is tedious, and you look forward to traveling to Asia and Europe to play in international tournaments, then MCR might be right for you. I wrote FAQ 2a to help novices choose a variant. You'll find a link to FAQ 2a above left. Go ahead and try taking the "questionnaire," and let me know what results you wind 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
    February 13, 2014


    They take too long, and then they win, darn them!

    > From: Caroline R
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 1:48 PM
    > Subject: Wright Patterson MahJongg
    > Dear Tom,
    > We have an American MahJongg group playing about 10 years now. We often go to the Wall. Some players take an agonizingly long time to decide on discards, etc. and they are often rewarded by winning the hand. Do you have any ideas/strategies to help? Are there any time limits used to speed up the game? The Wright Patterson Mah Jongg people have no answers for me. Haven’t even responded to my question.
    > Sincerely,
    > Caroline

    Hi, Caroline. You wrote:
    Some players take an agonizingly long time to decide on discards, etc. and they are often rewarded by winning the hand. Do you have any ideas/strategies to help?
    It doesn't sound like they need any help, if they often win! Just kidding. I assume you are the one who wants help, because it bugs you that the games are so slow. In Chinese Majiang Competition Rules, a player is required to discard within 10 seconds of taking the 14th tile into the hand. If the player exceeds that time, he or she is warned. After multiple warnings, the player is assessed a penalty (negative points towards the tournament score). As I wrote in FAQ 19-BA, you can "Get one of those little sand timers (I see that http://www.gameparts.net/sand_timers.htm has them for 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds...) and turn it over every time she picks a tile. When the time is up, make her throw a tile, any tile." But "First, have a talk with the other players. Make sure you have their support in talking to the slow player. Then at the beginning of your next session, talk to your slow player."
    Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 11, 2014


    Mahjong evaluation

    > From: Wendy P
    > Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 11:52 AM
    > Subject: mahjong evaluation
    > Hi Tom
    > I would like to know how much this set is worth and whether it is from the 30's or 40's.
    >
    > Set consists of 147 tiles in total; 36 dots, 36 bams, 36 craks, 16 winds, 12 dragons, 8 flowers and 3 blanks.
    > Tiles are Bakelite (I think) with red bottoms, 1 1/8" long, 7/8" wide and 1/2" deep, in very good condition.
    > There are 4 wooden wracks with chip holders in good condition with 3 different lables: 2 say Eng Chow Co. Vancouver B.C.(these lables are over lables which say Cowen)
    > 1 says Mes Cowen Co. San. Fran., and the fourth one says Doubling S...(unreadable) Seattle (the end posts of this one are in a black metal and the other 3 are brass coloured).
    > Plastic discs-23 blue, 27 red, 17 green and 9 white.
    > Metal discs-19 blue, 42 red, 18 green, 3 yellow, 16 white and 52 silver. There are 4 silver with square holes.
    > 2 green die, and 1 red.
    >
    > Leather case is good to fair. Clasp end missing, lable partially gone, and it had been taped to ship and is marked accordingly. Stitching all good and original and red wool felt lining in good repair with no stains or tears. 4 large trays, 1 small, and no paperwork. 2 stickers front, bottom, right side. 1 square with 1 fat red line and 1 thin red line. 1 oval saying hand made in China. Square lable under clasp damaged and missing centre part. Chinese characters surround the centre. The silver coloured clasp, in poor shape, says Sing Kee Factory. Leather carry handle in perfect shape.
    >
    > This set is supposed to have belonged to my husbands uncle who was in the Royal Navy before and during World War 2. He was stationed in the Pacific and was killed there. His belongings were shipped back to England and this set was with them. Thank you for your time and consideration.


    Hi, Wendy. You wrote:

    Tiles are Bakelite (I think) with red bottoms
    Your tiles are definitely not Bakelite. Looks to me like your tiles are what many collectors call "Chinese Bakelite" -- but I think (and my friend Michael Stanwick does, too - see http://themahjongtileset.co.uk/category/flowers-kings/ ) that this material might be casein. Bakelite tiles are shiny and very rounded, while casein tiles often have sharply defined edges - and your red backs are either glued on or attached by some chemical or other means. I wouldn't call that glued two-tone type of tile rare, but it is less common.

    There are 4 wooden wracks ... with 3 different lables...(the end posts of ... one are in a black metal and the other 3 are brass coloured).
    > Plastic discs-23 blue, 27 red, 17 green and 9 white.
    > Metal discs-19 blue, 42 red, 18 green, 3 yellow, 16 white and 52 silver. There are 4 silver with square holes.
    > 2 green die, and 1 red.
    All that suggests that the set may have changed hands, been bought and resold, and had parts added from other sets along the way somewhere. The racks are probably not original to the set.

    I would like to know how much this set is worth...
    The case is in poor shape, and the labels on the rack bottoms are not good, the chips and racks and dice are a hodgepodge. The best thing is the tiles themselves, which you say are very good. It might be worthwhile to get a better case, and un-hodgepodge the chips and bits (make it more presentable). Too bad one of the blank tiles is missing. Because the tiles are of a less common configuration, that makes them desirable. I take it you are not in the US; if you're in the UK or Australia or New Zealand, then you wouldn't be faced with the problem of buyers reluctant to buy it since it doesn't have 8 jokers. To a buyer who wants to use it to play Chinese or British/western rules, the set might go for US$70-90 -- maybe $90-100 if it was in a nicer case and less of a hodgepodge (possibly more in the UK). If someone who plays American mah-jongg buys the set, she'll drive herself crazy trying to find 8 matching tiles to make jokers (that would be a very hard task).

    I would like to know ... whether it is from the 30's or 40's.
    The best answer I can give to that is "yes." I would tend to lean 40s more than 30s, but I can't be certain.

    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
    February 10, 2014


    Who plays next after erroneous mahj?

    > From: Sharon M
    > Sent: Monday, February 10, 2014 4:11 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mahjongg question or comment is:
    > After a player calls a tile for Mah Jongg, exposes her hand but it is in error, which player plays next: The player to the right of the dead hand, or the person to the right of the last thrown tile?

    Hi, Sharon.
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19-BP. 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
    February 10, 2014


    I have a wooden set

    > From: Virginia O'
    > Sent: Sunday, February 9, 2014 10:01 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > I have a Mah Jong set wooden. Is wooden tiles originally from china. The box they were in is deteriated. The tiles are very clear painted.

    That's nice, Virginia. Did you have a question to ask? If so, I recommend you read Frequently Asked Question 7 before asking. 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
    February 9, 2014


    T&M Q&A

    > From: Diana H
    > Sent: Friday, February 7, 2014 8:29 PM
    > Subject: Query about a particular hand
    > Dear Tom
    > I hope you can help me. We play casual games of mahjong using the book, "The Mahjong Player's Companion" by Patricia A Thompson & Betty Maloney. I think they are American ladies. I have been playing Mahong for years, in Indonesia, Hongkong and Fiji using the book called, "The Game of Mahjong" by Max Robertson. The book I have was bought in 1964! There are a lot of new hands in the Mahjong Players Companion and one of the new hands has thrown up a query. The hand is called "The Professors" and consists of three mixed chows, one of each dragon and a pair of one's own wind. To me that seemed very straightforward but not to one of the other players. The illustration in the book showed, 6 circles, 7 bamboos, 8 characters; 4 circles, 5 bamboos, 6 characters; and 2 circles, 3 bamboos, 4 characters; plus one of each dragon and a pair of one's own wind. I went Mahjong with the three mixed chows plus one of each dragon and pair of my own wind, but they weren't in the order as illustrated in the book ie: each set being circles, bamboos, characters. I can't remember the exact order of my rack but one set was 3 bamboos, 4 characters and 5 circles, the other might have been 2 characters, 3 bamboos and 4 circles etc. I was told that I should have collected the tiles in the same order as shown in the book. The book didn't specify any specific order although on some of the other hands it does specify, "chow 7, 8 & 9 in each suit" etc.
    >
    > My question is:, " Does each mixed chow have to be in the same suit order, circles, bamboos, characters or is it acceptable to have the mixed chow with the numbers sequential and one of each suit but not necessarily have the suits in the same order?"
    > I'd be grateful for some advice on this.
    > Many thanks
    > Diana H
    > Sydney
    > Australia

    G'day, Diana. You wrote:

    We play ... using the book, "The Mahjong Player's Companion" by Patricia A Thompson & Betty Maloney.
    Ah, yes. I call them "T&M."

    I think they are American ladies.
    I think they are Australian. Their books are all published by Kangaroo Press, and the variant they mostly write about is what I call British/Western mah-jongg (played in English-speaking countries of the former British Empire).

    I have been playing Mahong for years, ... using the book called, "The Game of Mahjong" by Max Robertson.
    British author. Same variant, more or less.

    The book I have was bought in 1964! There are a lot of new hands in the Mahjong Players Companion
    "New" meaning "1997", according to the date in that T&M book.

    one of the new hands has thrown up a query. The hand is called "The Professors"

    OK, found it on page 19.

    I went Mahjong ... I can't remember the exact order of my rack but one set was 3 bamboos, 4 characters and 5 circles, the other might have been 2 characters, 3 bamboos and 4 circles etc.

    I was told that I should have collected the tiles in the same order as shown in the book. The book didn't specify any specific order although on some of the other hands it does specify, "chow 7, 8 & 9 in each suit" etc.
    It does appear, if you only look at that one hand, that T&M intends for the suits to be in the same order, but they don't specifically say. I checked other T&M books and didn't find any "mixed chow" hands in any of them. But T&M show two other hands with three mixed chows in your book. See Crazy Chows on page 16 -- also shown in same suit order (just as they did with The Professors). That would seem to bolster the idea that the suits have to be in the same order, as your friends say. BUT go back to page 19 again, and have a look at Apple Blossom (right under The Professors). That one is shown in mixed suit order.

    To me, that means that the term "mixed chows" truly means "MIXED." In the future, in my opinion, your group should not worry about suit order in a mixed chow 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
    February 8, 2014


    Is "answer" an actual mah-jongg term?

    > From: Babashak
    > Sent: Thursday, February 6, 2014 11:45 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > One of our former players always referred to having her “answer” when she had the pairs for her hand. Is this actually a mah jongg term or just something that her prior group made up? Someone in our game referred to having her answer and another player said she had no idea what she was talking about and wondered if, in fact, it was a mah jongg term.
    > Thanks
    > Debbie

    Hi, Debbie.
    I don't think it makes any difference if it's an "actual" mah-jongg term or not. But since you asked: I never heard of this one before. I use the term "key" rather than "answer" (you can see me use it in my weekly mah-jongg strategy column, if you're interested). For me, when I have my pair(s), I have my "key tiles." So she says "my answer" instead. She can use whatever terminology she wants.
    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
    February 6, 2014


    I had a change of heart, redux

    > From: Shelley H
    > Sent: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 9:29 PM
    > Subject: Changing One's Mind After Declaring Mah-jongg
    > Hello Again Tom,
    > I wrote to you earlier today, but thought I'd try to be clearer. I am writing in regard to the statement below (in black).
    > Declaring mah-jongg: you may change your mind if you have not yet exposed tiles from your hand, and if nobody has thrown in her tiles or destroyed the wall after hearing your declaration
    > Can you please comment on the following scenario:
    > 1. American mah jong game in play.
    > 2. I had one exposure on my rack.
    > 3. A player disgarded a tile and I said mah-jongg.
    > 4. Without picking up or racking the disgard, I changed my mind, seeing that I did not actually have mah- jongg.
    > 5. The other 3 players said I was dead.
    > 6. I believe I was not.
    > Thank you.
    > Shelley
    > (former student of yours)

    Shelley,
    You have not added anything to what I replied to yesterday. As I said yesterday (emphasis added), "You didn't touch the tile or take any other physical action to commit yourself to the call. Therefore you may change your mind, with no penalty." If this answer is not telling you what you want to know, tell me what it is you want to know.
    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
    February 6, 2014


    I had a change of heart, and they called me dead!

    > From: Shelley H
    > Sent: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 5:37 PM
    > Subject: NMJA Mahj Jong Question
    > Hello Tom,
    > I hope you are well. A question came up in my mah jong group last night (by the women with whom I was playing).
    > I had one exposure on my rack. A player discarded a tile and I called "mah jong" but did not pick up or rack the tile but instead, said, "no, it's not mah jong, I don't want it." They wanted to call me dead. But I do not believe I was dead, as I did not pick up or rack the tile but said I was mistaken. I liken it to miscalling a tile (unless for mah jong) in that there's no harm done. I understand that had I racked the tile or placed the tiles on top of the rack (as in exposing a meld) and did not actually have mah jong, then I might be dead.
    > Can you offer clarification?
    > Thank you.
    > Shelley
    > (a former student of yours)

    Hi, Shelley. Nice to hear from you again. You wrote:

    I called "mah jong" but did not pick up or rack the tile [then said "never mind," and they called me dead]
    See the top of page 100 in my book (also rule 111 on page 65), or see FAQ 19-AM-2. You didn't touch the tile or take any other physical action to commit yourself to the call. Therefore you may change your mind, with no penalty.

    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
    February 5, 2014


    Do I have to put my picked tile back on the wall?

    > From: Mary Louise W
    > Sent: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 3:17 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If a player begins her turn by picking tile from the wall, looks at it, and then another player properly calls for the discard before the player whose turn it was racks that tile, what happens to the tile player drew from the wall? Is it put back on wall in its original position or is it buried somewhere randomly.
    > I am beginner, probably obvious from my question. I have purchased and skimmed your book - very helpful to me. I can not find answer to this question, did I overlook it? I don't understand concept of "burying" the tile. The player who saw tile will always know who draws it in the future and what that player does with said tile. Therefore, it seems to me the practice of burying it is messing with the natural order of the wall for no reason.
    > Thank you! Mary

    Hello, Mary. You wrote:

    I have purchased and skimmed your book - very helpful to me. I can not find answer to this question, did I overlook it?
    I'm glad you have my book. You can look up the answer very easily. Open the book to the very last page (the index), and look up where the "Window of opportunity" is discussed.

    In addition to the book, there is another resource available to you, here on my website. It's Frequently Asked Question 19, and FAQ 19 is more up-to-date than the book, since my publisher has not yet seen fit to update the book, while I am constantly updating the FAQs.
    To get to FAQ 19, 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. The question "Do I have to put my picked tile back on the wall?" is FAQ 19-AT.

    I don't understand concept of "burying" the tile. The player who saw tile will always know who draws it in the future and what that player does with said tile. Therefore, it seems to me the practice of burying it is messing with the natural order of the wall for no reason.
    Read FAQ 14 and FAQ 19-BK. The people you're playing with think this is the best way to handle a seen tile. If your players ever go to a tournament where there is a judge who actually knows the real rules and they "bury" a tile there, they'll be penalized for messing up the wall. But you're not at a tournament -- you're playing with a group who is set in their ways. You have to adapt. Be gracious about it.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 5, 2014


    Can I redeem more than one joker in a turn?

    > From: nita
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 3:16 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If a player (when it is her turn) has two tiles that she can exchange for two jokers in a kong held and displayed by another player, can she redeem both jokers at the same time, or does she have to wait for her turn to come around a second time to get the second joker?
    > Thank you

    Welcome to my website, Nita. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19N. Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). 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
    February 4, 2014


    Does the Window of Opportunity rule apply, part 2

    > From: DBA Donna M
    > Sent: Monday, February 3, 2014 8:13 AM
    > Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from DBA Donna M
    > PayPal
    > Hello Thomas Sloper,
    > This email confirms that you have received a donation of$██.00 USD from DBA Donna M.
    > Donation Details
    > Total amount: $██.00 USD
    > Currency: U.S. Dollars
    > Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    > Confirmation number: [deleted]
    > Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    > Contributor: DBA Donna M
    > Message: Hi Tom, Thanks for your prompt answer on "The Window of Opportunity" Q/A I just sent. You have the best source of info. on the game and since I'm a "student" of it and a stickler for rules, you continue to be my "go to guru". I teach a lot of classes and really drill my students on racking that tile. I also give them a hand-out based on column #458 and reference your sight and book. It's amazing to me that folks who've been playing for decades don't rack their tile, even tournament players. I would love a way to search your site more efficiently (and would be happy to donate more if it helps). Didn't know about the addendum to the book - -thanks for the mention. I'm glad this question came up as it reminded me it was time to donate again. Thanks for all you do for the wonderful game of Mah Jongg! Donna M
    > Sincerely,
    > PayPal

    Thanks very much for the donation, Donna!
    In case you're interested, I often do not rack my tile. I pause a beat before picking (to give my opponents time to call the live discard if they want it), then reach and take, then decide what to do with what I picked. I do not think it's all that important to rack it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 3, 2014


    How to remove glue

    > From: Lynn C
    > Sent: Monday, February 3, 2014 4:16 PM
    > Subject: MJ Rack repair
    > Hello,
    > Any suggestions on how to remove glued on tile stoppers from MJ racks?
    > Kindest regards
    > Lynn

    No idea, Lynn. See if there's anything in FAQ seven oh (FAQ links are above left). Try googling "glue solvents," or go to a plastic store in your city and see if they have ideas for you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper


    Played out of turn and discarded the winning tile

    > From: Gerald S
    > Sent: Monday, February 3, 2014 8:33 AM
    > Subject: Playing out of turn
    > >
    > In a game recently, one player played out of turn (ahead of the person whose turn it was). What she discarded gave me MahJongg. When the person who missed her turn complained, we didn't know what to do about it. If we give the tile I picked up for MJ back and the rightful person played, the tile I needed wouldn't be discarded again. Is there a plenty if this happens? Thanks, Margie S

    > From: Gerald S
    > Sent: Monday, February 3, 2014 8:39 AM
    > Subject: Fw: Playing out of turn
    > In the email just sent -- I meant to say "penalty" not plenty in the last sentence. Sorry, moving too fast again! Spellcheck is no good if you use the wrong word.

    Hi, Margie.
    The penalty would depend entirely on which kind of mah-jongg you were playing. Since you used female pronouns, I'm going out on a limb and assuming you play American mah-jongg.
    The player who went out of turn gave mah-jongg to the winner, so has to pay double what everyone else pays. Since somebody said mah-jongg, the "she skipped my turn" thing is moot. Once someone has said "mahj," there is no "undo" button. (Mah-jongg trumps everything.) So in a sense, the erring player has already been penalized by having to pay double, and the player whose turn was skipped should be glad she didn't take her turn and discard the same winning tile herself.
    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
    February 3, 2014


    Does the Window of Opportunity rule apply to this?

    > From: Donna
    > Sent: Sunday, February 2, 2014 7:46 PM
    > Subject: Window of Opportunity or Simultaneous Occurrence?
    > Hi Tom,
    > A player discards a tile, the next player picks her tile from the wall and sees that she can exchange it for a joker and begins to reach for the tile, but doesn’t physically touch it yet. A third player calls for the discarded tile. Is this a case of the Window of Opportunity" still open because the player who picked the tile didn’t rack it? It was decided to let the player who called the tile take it and the other player put the tile back.
    > Thanks,
    > Donna
    > P.S. I reviewed your column on "Window of Opportunity" (which I know in my sleep as I teach from it) and apologize if you’ve answered it somewhere else that I overlooked. Just moved and can’t put my hands on your book to further check.

    Hi, Donna.
    Okay, so you rely on column 458 (I had to search the columns to find it). Interesting. I just always go to FAQ 19C (which has a link to FAQ 19AT, which goes into further detail about the rule). But okay, let's stay with the column. The column says:

      The window doesn't close until one of the following three things occurs:
      1. The next player picks and racks;
      2. The next player picks and discards;
      3. The next player picks and declares mah jongg.

    So, ask yourself:
    Has the player racked? No.
    Has the player discarded? No.
    Has the player declared mah-jongg? No.
    The answer to all three was "no," therefore the window of opportunity was still open for anyone else to claim the live discard.

    However, your question does show that there is a fourth possibility (which is mentioned in FAQ 19C):
    4. The next player might redeem a joker (actually make an exchange).
    Per the 2014 NMJL bulletin, once a player has redeemed a joker, she has committed to that exchange and may not change her mind about redeeming the joker. It is reasonable to extend that reasoning -- making a joker exchange would also close the window of opportunity.
    But in the story you told, your player had not made the exchange (she was only reaching). So even with this fourth way to close the window, the window had not yet been closed.

    I think I'll append this Q&A to column 458.

    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
    Groundhog day, 2014 - 恭賀新禧! Gung hei fa choi! Happy Year of the Horse!

    P.S. I just checked, and this is also mentioned in the errata, which may be downloaded from the RDWW page.


    Conflicting claim for pung (part 2)

    >From: Elizabeth M
    >Sent: Sunday, February 2, 2014 4:42 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks very much for that. That's actually how we played it in the end after much discussion!! I appreciate your prompt reply.
    >Elizabeth


    Conflicting claim for pung (British Empire rules)

    > From: Elizabeth M
    > Sent: Sunday, February 2, 2014 1:39 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hi there,
    > I play Mah Jong in New Zealand, so some of my terminology may be a little different from the American form of the game.
    > A question arose last week at our regular game.
    > First of all, to put you in the picture, we play with jokers, and we goulash every hand. I think goulash may be the equivalent of Charleston (??)
    > This is the question.
    > Two players wanted the same tile to Pung, one player having the two matching tiles to make the Pung, and the other player had two jokers, and wanted the discard to complete her Pung. Neither was ready to go Mah Jong.
    > I've read Robertson's rules and it does not mention this situation, only if that if the discard is wanted by two players, one wanting it for a Chow and the other for a Pung, the person wanting it for the Pung wins it.
    > I've also read other rule books which we have here, and this is not mentioned in them either.
    > Pleas, if you can, enlighten me, so that I may enlighten others!!
    > Thanks very much.
    > Elizabeth M

    Hello, Elizabeth. You wrote:

    Two players wanted the same tile to Pung, one player having the two matching tiles to make the Pung, and the other player had two jokers, and wanted the discard to complete her Pung. Neither was ready to go Mah Jong. I've read Robertson's rules and it does not mention this situation... I've also read other rule books which we have here, and this is not mentioned in them either.
    Right, because it is not standard to use jokers in your mah-jongg variant. (It isn't disallowed -- but the authors simply never covered the use of jokers in their books.) The solution is simple. The player who's first in order of play from the discarder gets the discard (same rule as used for conflicting claim for mah-jongg). Count counterclockwise from the discarder -- the first claimant you come to gets the tile.

    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
    February 2 (Groundhog Day), 2014 - 恭賀新禧! Gung hei fa choi! Happy Year of the Horse!


    What would it be worth?

    > From: Anita C
    > Sent: Sunday, February 2, 2014 11:07 AM
    > Subject: Re Mah Jong
    > Good Evening
    > I have taken pictures of my Mah Jong set that my father brought back from the Far East during World War 2. Also a picture of a dice game presumably played by sailors in the Navy.
    > The whole set is complete in original case and very heavy.
    > Can you help me to find out what these items would be worth
    > Kind regards
    > Nita

    Good morning to you, Nita. I can help you with your mah-jongg set but not the dice game. Read Frequently Asked Question 7H, and give me the necessary information about the mah-jongg set. 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
    Groundhog day, 2014 - 恭賀新禧! Gung hei fa choi! Happy Year of the Horse!


    Does the dealer deal, or do the players take their own tiles?

    > From: Sharon B
    > Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 10:11 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Is there a rule about the distribution of the tiles at the beginning of the game? Can east distribute the tiles or is each player suppose to pick their own tiles?
    > Thank you,
    > Sharon B

    Hi, Sharon.
    I assume you play American mahj; this response is based on that assumption. Please check your official rulebook on pages 9-10. Or check my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," on page 44, rules 18-21.
    Every group (even better: every player) really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (or, even better, my book). If you don't play American mahj, then you should check the appropriate rulebook or website.
    For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3. For websites, see FAQ 4B.
    But no matter what book or website describes your mah-jongg variant, the answer is always the same: each player takes his or her own tiles during the deal. I just needed to make the point that you really really need a rulebook.
    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
    January 31, 2014 - 恭賀新禧! Gung hei fa choi! Happy Year of the Horse!


    Column 592

    > From: Connie
    > Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 8:47 AM
    > Subject: Horse Hand Correction
    > Hi, Tom...thank you for creating this year's Horse hand...is a correction needed under the paragraph "In American-style notation.... "2014 NEWS 2014 DD" should read "2014 NEWS 2015 DD."
    > Thanks, Connie

    > From: Connie
    > Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 9:25 AM
    > Subject: Never Mind
    > Hi, Tom...regarding Column #592, I see now why American version is listed 2014 twice...just ignore my inquiry. Thanks, Connie. P.S. Attached are our MCR charts--no reason, just to share.

    Hi Connie,
    I was away from computer most of the day, but I saw your first email on my phone while riding the train to work. Your second email came before I had a chance to do anything about the first. I don't know what you saw that explains the error, but error it was. The hard part I have to address now is how to write the parenthetical. Check the column again if you want to see what I come 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
    January 31, 2014 - 恭賀新禧! Gung hei fa choi! Happy Year of the Horse!

    P.S. I guess I'll put your files in the mah-jongg downloads folder for others to discover.


    I'm trying to research its vintage

    > From: barbara b
    > Sent: Friday, January 31, 2014 7:31 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I inherited my grandmother’s mahjongg set, and I’m trying to research its vintage. There are two tiles I’ve seen on your site that are part of the set:
    > and
    > The set also has “Big Jokers” that appear to be stuck on (red) labels, rather than engraved as these tiles are.
    > Any help would be greatly appreciated. I think it’s a “10 flowers” set (???) based on doing some browsing on the internet, but other than that…
    > Thanks so much!

    Hello, barbara.
    I can't help you with a vague question and insufficient information. You said you want to know about your set's "vintage." I assume that means you want to know how old it is. But you haven't sent me enough information about your set. You said it has some stickered jokers, but you didn't tell me how many, or how many manufactured jokers it has, or how many flowers it has, and you haven't shown me pictures of all the tiles and parts of the set. Please read Frequently Asked Question 7G.
    You also said you'd appreciate "any help." I cannot answer vague unspecific questions. Read FAQ 7P.
    Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). 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
    January 31, 2014 - 恭賀新禧! Gung hei fa choi! Happy Year of the Horse!


    HH+RRR (Heavenly hand - and reverse redemption revisited)

    > From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 1:19 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hello Tom - playing last week, we had a player stop the Charleston after the first left and later got MJ after only two or three rounds of discards. She had all but one tile after the first Charleston. She was so excited! Especially since it was a singles and pair hand! She was east so she could have gotten a heavenly hand had she been just a little bit luckier. After congratulations, a question came up, if she had a heavenly hand DURING the charleston, that is after only one or two passes and before the third, could she have called MJ. We know the rules state that the first MJ is mandatory, but also know that it is not mandatory for a heavenly hand. But once started does the first charleston need to be completed even if she were to have a heavenly hand before the last pass of the first charleston?
    >
    > I came across a piece of information that might help further explain your response to Lynn P on January 10th regarding not being able to do a reverse joker redemption. A Player wanted to know why she could not take a symbol tile from another's rack and replace it with a joker. You indicated that there is no rule in the official rules that allows her to do that. This is very true. But I also found a rule that says she can't do it See Reminders and Helpful Hints on page 27 of the rule book, paragraph 6 states "A Joker can never be exchanged for a symbol tile. Only a symbol tile can be exchanged for a Joker."
    >Thank you again for your great website.
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee. You wrote:

    if she had a heavenly hand DURING the charleston, that is after only one or two passes and before the third, could she have called MJ.
    This is answered in FAQ 19-BJ.

    I also found a rule that says she can't do [reverse redemption] See Reminders and Helpful Hints on page 27 of the rule book, paragraph 6 states "A Joker can never be exchanged for a symbol tile. Only a symbol tile can be exchanged for a Joker."
    Even better!

    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
    January 29, 2014


    Some dead links, cont'd.

    Thanks to Colin ("Score cards/sheets, part 2 (and some dead links)" below), the following actions have been taken on the broken links in FAQ 4B:
    1. Scott Nicholson's video - Replaced with a different video of his
    2. http://www.world-series-mahjong.com - Deleted
    3. Clay Breshear's site - Deleted
    4. Wai Ling Cheng's site - Deleted
    5. Mind Sports Olympiad - Deleted
    6. http://www.teaser.fr - Deleted
    7. http://tinyurl.com/445ld the American Code of Laws, etc, now comes up as a Google group. - Left it as is (works fine, those laws were posted on the mahjong newsgroup and are still visible there).
    8. Chris Schumann's site - Fixed the link
    Tom
    January 28, 2014


    Frequently Asked Question 19-AC

    > From: Billie Jean B
    > Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014 5:55 PM
    > Subject: dead hand
    > If a player knows that their hand is dead – i.e. needs a pair to mah jongg and all tiles of that number have been discarded – is the player obligated to announce (declare) their hand dead? Or, does the player continue to play defensively?
    > Thank you, bjb in SC

    Welcome to my website, Billie Jean. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19-AC. 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
    January 26, 2014


    Score cards/sheets, part 2 (and some dead links)

    > From: Colin B
    > Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2014 4:36 PM
    > Subject: Mahjong Q&A: Classical Links
    > Hi Tom,
    >
    > As you asked, these are the links on Classical that are now dead:
    > 1. http://www.youtube.com/w/?v=Qxj07M5Ohiw the youtube demo from Scott Nicholson
    > 2. http://www.world-series-mahjong.com/rules.htm now something about Cancer, but the main page from Alan Kwan works just fine.
    > 3. http://www.cs.utk.edu/~clay/mahjongg/ Clay Breshear's site
    > 4. http://otal.umd.edu/~vg/amst205.F96/vj07/project3.html Wai Ling Cheng's site
    > 5. http://www.msoworld.com/mindzine/news/orient/mah_jong/overview_intro.html the thing for the Mind Sports Olympiad
    > 6. http://www.teaser.fr/u/edetocquev/java/mahjongg/Doc/Regle.html the French-language sit
    > 7. http://tinyurl.com/445ld the American Code of Laws, etc, now comes up as a Google group.
    > 8. https://sites.google.com/site/minnesotamahjongclub/general-files/RulesforBasicChineseMahjong.pdf site of Chris Schumann
    >
    > I think I answered my own question about a score pad [oops]. (and feel free to chop up this email or to not use the whole thing it's kinda long, sorry). What I was getting at, though, was a score sheet (like in Scrabble or Bridge, ya know?) I could not figure out how you would keep track of the total gains/losses to each of the four players after every hand, taking into account the 3 losers paying the winner AND each of the three losers settling with the other two, one at a time, in fact.
    >
    > It dawned on me that I have seen it before: on Four Winds Mahjong (v. 2.13) by Lagarto, after a hand of Chinese Classical. But it looked far too complicated to adapt to a simple score sheet. I know how it would work, but not exactly how it would be structured so as to not boggle the mind. And you will always need a calculator to do it...unless you're playing with John Nash and Sir Isaac Newton. God only knows how it was accomplished in the 1920s. The answer to that query is probably: they didn't; they would have just used the bones/coins/whatever to settle between the four players and keep track. There's obviously no organized-looking score sheet that could keep track of the score and settlements that I could make on Word or Excel, without looking....incredibly cumbersome.
    > As for a score chart, I have actually made one of those, yes....I made it so that it could be printed on card-stock and cut in half, so that two printouts would allow for one little vertical card for each player. I based it on the awards of points & doubles from the Millington book. One side would show the points and doubles awarded for hands/sets/etc., and the other side would show a doubling table (it gives scores from 2 through 100 "basic points", multipliable by up to six doubles). Did I show that to you a great while ago? If not, I would be happy to send it.
    > So at any rate, sorry to ask a question and then answer it myself, lol; and above are the links to CC websites that are inactive/expired or have been taken off the net.
    > Take care,
    > Colin

    Hi, Colin.
    Thanks so much for identifying those dead links. I wasn't able to write my column this week, and I won't have time to go fix those links until Tuesday, probably. For some sites, I'll want to see if the site still exists and now has a new URL -- others I'll just delete.
    As for the score sheets, I imagine all one would want to keep track of on paper is just what each player scored, each hand. The settling-up between them would be simple math once the amounts are visible. In my opinion, the scoring of Chinese Classical is one of the reasons that variant fell out of favor. Much too much math, and the smarter players would lose their patience with the players who couldn't do their own math (as well as the players who made cheap wins, thwarting the big win attempts).
    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
    January 26, 2014


    Blast from the past

    > From: Ken L
    > Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2014 7:21 PM
    > Subject: Hi Tom Sloper
    > Dear Tom,
    > it's me Ken L (previously known as "John L")... Very long time no speak. How are you and your Mahjong endeavours?
    > Now that I think of it, it's about 10 years since I first got in contact with you on your website.
    >... [omitted]
    >I have vague plans of designing a basic computer game... but will have to relearn programming. I'll be reading the Game-Design section of your Sloperama website (finally)!
    > I've been playing a bit of Japanese Mahjong on an online program called "Tenhou" (similar quality graphics to Ron2, but free registration), but otherwise haven't played Japanese Mahjong with anybody in person for a very long time. There's a Japanese Mahjong meetup once a week in my city apparently, but it's about 25 km (~16 miles) from where I live.
    > If there are any other Chinese documents that you'd like me to try translating in my spare time, feel free to say so.
    > Hope all is well at your end, and a belated happy new year.
    > Ken L

    Hi, Ken.
    Great to hear from you! My endeavours proceed apace. Can't travel for tournaments anymore (still paying off the previous travels), but I teach mah-jongg classes now and then at American Jewish University.
    My game design site doesn't teach much about programming, but does make you think about what you're going to do with your game once you've made it.
    I have heard about Tenhou on ReachMahjong, but haven't tried it yet. It's free, you say. I ought to give it a go. Anyway, it's past my bedtime right now. I don't have any Chinese needing translating at the moment -- thanks for the offer!
    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
    January 26, 2014


    How do you determine rotation, part 6

    > From: Lynn P
    > Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2014 4:46 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: regarding rotation question written last November and my last question Rotation part 5: I never got a chance to play much last year since I had been sick off and on ... [now am] well enough to play again. Your diagram looks great and I don’t think it matters who goes to which table as long as they don’t go with the person they were just playing with. You are right they will be confused so I will just wait until it is my turn to host again and if I have 12 players I will then make out cards with letters on them,, let them pick one as they come in the door and explain how we will change tables. Seems there is the idea in this group that "I can do what I want since it is my house and I am the host." So there will certainly be some grumbling but I think it will work out nicely and we will play with more different players. ... Thanks, Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn.
    Sorry you were sick. You said:

    Seems there is the idea in this group that "I can do what I want since it is my house and I am the host."
    That's only proper. Stay well!

    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
    January 26, 2014


    How do you determine rotation, part 5

    > From: Lynn P
    > Sent: Saturday, January 25, 2014 12:17 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg we sometimes have 3 tables and are discussing how to rotate half way through our afternoon play time of 3 hours. With 2 tables each player throws dice and the two highest throwers switch places so no problem.
    > 1. What is the best way to have 2 players move from each of 3 tables?
    > My idea is to have each of the highest roller players move to a different table so they are not again playing together. So one of the 2 from table 1 goes table 2 and one goes to table 3. Next one of the 2 from table 2 goes to table 1 and one goes to table 3 and finally one from table 3 goes to table 1 and other one goes to table 2. Does that make sense to you? Wonder if it would be too confusing for players? We are all over 70 with the exception of 3 in their mid 60’s. I was an elementary teacher for 28 years so I could teach them but can “An old dog learn a new trick?”
    > Our group referred to your book “The Red Dragon and The West Wind” at least 3 times this past week (2 separate MJ groups) since the NMJL Bulletin arrived in the mail and players were reading the Q&A. I said, “Never fear, Tom’s book is near,” and found the answers to players’ questions. Thank you again for all your hard work in writing this wonderful book. I agree with you that every group and also every Mah Jongg player should own a copy. Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    we sometimes have 3 tables and are discussing how to rotate half way through our afternoon play time of 3 hours.
    Still? You wrote me about that last November. You still haven't figured out something?

    What is the best way to have 2 players move from each of 3 tables?
    How should I know? This is a tournament organizer question, and I'm no tournament organizer (I never wanted to be, and I don't want ever to be).

    My idea is to have each of the highest roller players move to a different table so they are not again playing together. So one of the 2 from table 1 goes table 2 and one goes to table 3. Next one of the 2 from table 2 goes to table 1 and one goes to table 3 and finally one from table 3 goes to table 1 and other one goes to table 2. Does that make sense to you?
    No. I lost track after "one of the 2 from table 1 goes table 2". I had to draw a picture.

    Wonder if it would be too confusing for players?
    You mean you're not going to direct the traffic? If you don't draw them a picture and/or if you don't explain it clearly, then of course it'll be confusing. Just walk them through it. Also, your scheme doesn't say which of 2 tables one player should move to. Should they flip a coin? Does winner of the toss get to decide which of 2 tables she'd rather go to?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 25, 2014


    It's ox bone, not cow bone, isn't it?

    > From: Logan S
    > Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2014 10:58 PM
    > Subject: mahjong newbie
    > So my mom and I were watching "How do they do it?" on Science channel, where they featured making traditional bone and bamboo mahjong tiles in China, my mom mentions that we have an old set from my dad’s family’s summerhouse, which we no longer own. We find it, and low and behold they appear to be bone and bamboo and they appear to be early 1920s, I plan on taking pictures and asking questions about the set, including a rough estimate of value, I don’t think we plan on selling it but an idea would be nice, I don’t trust ebay because what someone is asking has little to nothing to do with what it’s worth on things like this. One thing I noticed though, is that in this episode they mention that traditional tiles are made from Ox bone, and your site mentions cow bone, and never ox bone, I don’t know if it matters but I thought I’d mention it, since I would have thought that if they used to use cow bones the switch would be mentioned in the segment. I know nothing about mahjong, my only exposure was apparently looking at the set when I was a child a few times over the years, no playing with it! and playing Taipei on the computer, which I know is solitaire.
    > ~Logan

    Hi, Logan.
    Oxen and cows are both bovine animals. Oxen are indigenous to China, and cows are common in America. When the manufacturers in China ran out of ox bone, Babcock had cow bones shipped from America for use in mah-jongg tile manufacturing.
    I admit it, though. I have been guilty of referring to oxen as "cows" up to now. That's arguably inexact, So I'm amending FAQ 7C.
    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
    January 24, 2014

    Update, June 2015: because American cow bone is nicer and produces better looking tiles, the majority of sets made for export to America were made of imported American cow bone from Chicago slaughterhouses. - Tom


    Why is the flower wall 7 stacks, part 2

    > From: Dawn B
    >Sent: Thursday, January 23, 2014 1:37 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Thank You, Tom for explaining the 14 tiles making up the Kings Hand...the Dead Wall. That is very interesting. What you call the Dead Wall we use to take a tile from at the beginning b4 play even begins...that is we look at our hands...and beginning with EAST declare what flowers/seasons we have...and in counterclockwise order we take a tile for each. We also take from that Wall a tile when a Kong is revealed. And, we also thought a "loose tile" was one tile from this wall as well. So, You also mentioned the Flower /Kong wall... can you explain how that is formed and played? Thank You,
    >Dawn B

    Hi, Dawn.
    What you are describing is the flower/kong wall. "Loose tiles" is the term used by some to mean any tile taken as a replacement (for flowers and kongs). I don't remember what book you use... oh wait, is it Foster's Twenty-Point Mah Jong? I'm not at home at the moment so can't access the book right now. I wonder if he describes how you have to keep replenishing that wall (it's always either 13 or 14 tiles, which you replenish from the back end of the live wall).
    A "dead wall," strictly speaking, would be a separate part of the wall that never gets touched at all (it would stay exactly 14 tiles, and nobody would ever take any). But it's rare to find players who use both a dead wall and a flower/kong wall. Even rarer to find players who use a dead wall and a flower wall and a kong box (the first never touched, the second used only for flower replacements, the latter only used for kong replacements). Most people use just the one flower/kong wall, and many people call it a "dead wall."
    The way you're already doing it is probably fine (if you're replenishing it so it's always 13 or 14 tiles).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 23, 2014


    Is it true, no Chas 4 3P?

    > From: Alice H
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 7:02 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: Is it true when there is a table of only three players, you do not have to do the charleston? Or can it be the choice of the east player?

    Hi, Alice.
    Welcome to my website. Please read FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) 13A (read the whole thing, including the italicized part) and FAQ 14 (read it all, not just the first part). 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 the official NMJL rulebook (and/or, even better if I do say so myself, 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
    January 22, 2014


    Is that a sextet or two pungs?

    > From: Jill B
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:01 PM
    > Subject: sextet
    > On the 2013 card, the third hand under the heading Winds-Dragons shows the following:
    > 111 111 (Pung any like odd no.....) The following hand shows: 222 222 (Pung any like even no.....)
    > Does this mean that despite being the same number, the exposures can be only 3 tiles or must you have all 6 tiles for the exposure?
    > If you can have just 3 tiles to expose, what is the sextet referred to on the back of the card.
    > Thank you. Jill

    Hi, Jill.
    Clearly the League means that to be two pungs, not one sextet. This, therefore, is the one exception to what I said in FAQ 16 (when I said spaces are never significant). Clearly, in this case, the space between the two pungs is significant. There are no sextets in the current card.
    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
    January 22, 2014


    Counterclockwise, clockwise? We're so fighting about it!

    > From: Marilyn M
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 10:32 AM
    > Subject: mah jong question
    > Hello Tom,
    > Our Mah Jong group seems to be having a minor conflict. When a new wall is brought out for play, which end of the wall does the next player start taking the new tiles. Now I know this is a very minor detail, but it has drawn a line of "battle" as to which is the correct end to start. I can't seem to find the answer in any of the Mah Jong rule books. Thank you so much for your help!
    > Marilyn M

    Hi, Marilyn.
    This is not at all a "minor detail," and I'm surprised that anyone would think it's appropriate to take tiles from the pivot end of a served wall first. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19Q. 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
    January 22, 2014


    Why does the new card come in late March or early April instead of January?

    > From: laurie l
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:12 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Why do cards for the new year only come out in April
    > Thank you so much
    > How do I find the answer once you have answered it...
    > My email is bdana@[DELETED]
    > With much appreciation..

    Hello, Laurie. You wrote:

    Why do cards for the new year only come out in April
    Welcome to my website. You have asked Frequently Asked Question 19-BU. 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!

    How do I find the answer once you have answered it...
    I always email first-time askers with instructions about where to find this 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
    January 21, 2014


    Is it too late for a Change Of Heart?

    > From: "Bcrain00
    > Sent: Monday, January 20, 2014 4:04 PM
    > Subject: Mahjong question
    > When you go to pick a tile from the wall and you only touch it and you don't lift the tile do you have to take it anyway?
    > http://sloperama.com/
    > Sent from my ████

    Hello Brrain0,
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AM-1. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please bookmark FAQ 19 so you can look for answers yourself. 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
    January 20, 2014


    Column 590, part 2

    > From: Dennis
    > Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2014 3:05 PM
    > Subject: Question on Wednesday
    > Tom.. please disregard my question on Wednesday. If the NMJL says you need
    > a natural tile for a Pung, Kong or Quint then that's the rules. I'm just wondering
    > when that changed. Oh well...
    > Thanks
    > May the tiles be with you.

    Dennis,
    The rule is that you can never claim a discarded joker!!!
    There is no change in the rule!
    I guess I have to draw you a picture. Here's what you have concealed in your hand, let's say:

    Now a player discards a joker, and you claim it for a kong exposure:

    I hope you agree that that is a well-established illegal move! (That the NMJL says you can never claim a discarded joker.) I hope you see that I'm not making up new rules.
    And do you agree that there is no other way to make an exposure with nothing but jokers (and no naturals)?
    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
    January 16, 2014


    Column 590

    >From: Dennis
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 9:56 PM
    >Subject: Confused
    >Hello again Tom
    >Here I am again... Confused
    >Looking at Strategies 590 question 3 you indicate that you must have a natural tile in a pung, kong or quint.
    >and yes I did see the * note at the bottom.
    >But when I researche the rules I find that L. Fishers "Rule for Modern American Mah Jongg" at
    >https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxtYWhqcnVsZX
    N8Z3g6NDEzZjEwNTU1MWZjNDlmNQ
    >says in paragraph 9 Jokers that a pung, kong or quint may be entirely composed of jokers.
    >Please straighten me out... again.
    >Thanks Tom

    Hi, Dennis.
    I think the reason you're confused by the answer is that you didn't read the question carefully. You understand the difference between question #2 and question #3, right? My #2 agrees with Linda Fisher's paragraph 9. But there's a big difference between a concealed kong and an exposed kong. Think about how an exposed set is created. You'll see that it's not possible to make a lone exposed kong made of all jokers (without a natural tile in the finished exposure). If you can find a way to do it, I'd be glad to hear about it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 15, 2014


    Back me up, part 3

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 7:53 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Referring to Questions & Answers “Back me up here” from Margaret1 on 1/14: I have another possible solution which is to call on the Mah Jongg Police!!! Take out your book, “The Red Dragon & The West Wind” and show them in black and white the written RULE! (p. 51 #51). Play ( window of opportunity) is NOT over until the picked tile is RACKED (resting on the slanted rack among the tiles of her racked hand) and it doesn’t even have to click!!! Every Mah Jongg group should have a copy of this great informative book. Thank you, Tom, for writing “RD&WW” the best Mah Jongg reference book available. Lynn P


    FAQ 19AA

    >From: Lynne C
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 11:50 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding death challenges: Player A wanted to make a challenge of an unwinnable hand. She knew other player needed jokers to complete her hand and Player A had two unexposed jokers in her hand. Can the challenge be made? Per FAQ19 AA

    Hi, Lynne.
    You need to read FAQ 19AA again, more carefully. (The second bullet, "unwinnable.") I don't think you noticed the words that are underlined, and the rest of the words in parentheses. The answer to your question is right there.
    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
    January 15, 2014


    Back me up, part 2

    > From: margaret l
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 3:46 PM
    > Subject: found my answer
    > thanks, marge


    Back me up here!

    > From: margaret l
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 1:29 PM
    > Subject: clarification
    > I read thru your rules but I need a clarification on racking.
    > Ok lady throws down a tile I need I did not call it but the next player takes her turn and
    > pulls a tile from the wall but does not rack it ..........now I call the
    > last tile down and that is where the arguments began.
    > I understood that the last tile on the table is available until the next player racks her tile.
    > If her tile is not racked then the one on the table is still available. They said no because
    > once the lady pulls her tile the one on the table is dead whether she racks it or not!
    > What is the right answer to this situation.....................thanks, marge

    Hello, Marge. You wrote:

    I did not call it but the next player takes her turn and
    > pulls a tile from the wall but does not rack it ..........now I call the
    > last tile down and that is where the arguments began.
    So, you're surprised that there was an argument? I'm shocked! I'm shocked that you're surprised.

    They said no because
    > once the lady pulls her tile the one on the table is dead whether she racks it or not!
    You're surprised that they don't know the actual rule? I'm shocked! I'm shocked that you're surprised.

    You know what the rule really is, Marge. You could:
    Print out the rule to show them (or if you already have my book or the official rulebook, show it to them there), and ask for a vote on how such situations should be ruled in the future.
    Say nothing more, and just play it their way. And don't forget to seethe!
    Say nothing more, and just play it their way, but with good grace.
    Quit that group, and go find a group that knows the official rules.

    Those may not be the only possible solutions. You might find another that works better for you.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2014


    What if everybody wants to blind pass three, part 2

    > From: Paula M
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 7:09 AM
    > Subject: Re: Question about the final pass in Charleston
    > Thank you very much. So, in effect, no one really has to pass anything in that final pass - if no one has anything to pass. The "I owe you" is really just pro forma, correct?
    > I appreciate the speed in answering my question. I consult your book all the time and it answers almost all of my questions - except for this one!
    > Paula Myers

    Hi, Paula.
    I don't want to agree to the use of the term "pro forma" since I am not a lawyer and don't really know what that means. I prefer to call it "a wink and a nod." But think about it a second. Nobody wants to pass ANY tiles, right? so if I pass three tiles I don't want to give up, everybody after me has no choice (since nobody wants to pass ANY tiles) but to blind pass them all, and they will come back to me intact. So why bother doing it at all?
    Note, however, that the situation you posited is extremely unlikely -- if you pass three tiles you don't want to give up, most likely somebody along the chain will want to take one (she lied when she said she had none to pass, or she just "changed her mind," which as you surely know, women never do), and you won't get all three back after all.
    The only way to prevent that would be to make a pact that none of you will take any of the three tiles you pass. The rules do not support all players making a pact that none of them want to give up any of the tiles they have -- so, technically, making such a pact would be outside the rules.
    The rules also do not really support everybody saying, "let's just skip it since when we're done with the last right we'll all still have the same tiles we have now," but so what? When you're done with the last right, you'll all still have the same tiles you have now.
    Or will you really? Is the dealer going to declare mah-jongg as soon as the Charleston has ended? If not, then she has to discard a tile. Which means she really had one tile to pass. So unless you all made a pact, she would have probably been the one to break it (on the chance that the tile she kept gave her mah-jongg).
    So maybe when everybody says "I don't have any I want to pass," you should just ask the dealer, "so you're ready to declare mah-jongg right now, is that what you're saying?" If she says yes, tell her to go ahead and declare mah-jongg. If she says no, then you can go back to what I wrote in column 534 -- the dealer has one tile she can pass, so everybody can blind pass that one tile three times using the IOU "wink and nod", and the game can begin -- or just skip it since you'll all just have the same tiles anyway, and she might as well just discard it and get the game going.
    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
    January 14, 2014


    What if everybody wants to blind pass three?

    > From: Paula M
    > Sent: Monday, January 13, 2014 9:58 PM
    > Subject: Question about the final pass in Charleston
    > In the final Charleston pass, do you proceed if none of the players has ANY tiles she wishes to pass? In other words, a blind pass seems impossible if the person passing to you is unable to select even one tile - as well as the person before her, and lastly the person before her? Is it the dealer's responsibility to get the passing going - even if she cannot part with a tile? And why her? Shouldn't being the dealer confer an advantage on her, rather than putting her in a position of having to make an unwanted pass?
    > I ask such a question because this dilemma befell my group last time we played. We "solved" the problem by ALL forcing ourselves to pass 3 tiles, with no one allowing herself a blind pass. Obviously we were not at all sure what to do.
    > Thank you in advance for your consideration of this question.
    > Paula M

    Hi, Paula. As you might imagine, this situation is exceedingly rare. It's so rare that I have never seen a ruling from the League on it. BUT I have done a "thought experiment" on it and come up with what I think is a good solution. I wrote about it in column #534. You can get to the columns by clicking the purple banner atop this page. You'll find a link to column 534 in the top frame or the bottom frame. The quickest way to get to it is to search the page for "534".
    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
    January 14, 2014


    Scoring flowers, part 3

    > From: Dawn B
    > Sent: Monday, January 13, 2014 5:20 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Hi Tom,
    > I’m sorry, I did indeed receive your very detailed answer to my flowers question on Saturday. This type of answer is just what I was hoping for…that is a thorough explanation. And, then yes I did post new questions today…and I thank you for your prompt helpful response.
    > I meant no disrespect. Hope you continue to help me out with my mah jong questions.
    > Sincerely,
    > Dawn B

    I never perceived disrespect. Sorry if something I said gave you that impression. To the contrary, I'm relieved to know that you were able to come here and get your answers. When you re-sent me your "Scoring flowers in 20-point mah jong" question, I had to assume you never received my email or that you were unable to come to the board and find the answer. That has happened to me several times before, and it distresses me when a reader doesn't know that her question has already been answered, and how to come here and see it.
    I don't know how it happened that you re-sent your previous question to me today, but of course I'm always here to answer your mah-jongg questions.
    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
    January 13, 2014


    Why is the flower wall 7 stacks?

    > From: Dawn B
    > Sent: Monday, January 13, 2014 1:38 PM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Why is it significant to count 7 tiles (stacked by 2) for a total of 14 tiles to have as our (Flower, Season, Kong) wall? We play with 144 tiles and build our walls 18 wide 2 high for a total of 36 each wall.
    >Thank you,
    >Dawn B

    Hi, Dawn.
    I call it the Dead Wall myself, because those 14 tiles (those 7 stacks) will not be played. I've heard of a variant that has a dead wall entirely separate from the flower/kong wall.
    I gather that your question isn't "why is there a dead wall," but rather "why is the dead wall 7 stacks?" In general, I can't definitively answer "why" questions about the rules; I was not present when that rule was created, so I can't justify the rule. I can only point out that 14 tiles is the same number of tiles a player needs to win. And some Chinese refer to the dead wall as "the King's hand" -- it's a hand of tiles reserved for "the King," who is not able to be present to play with you. Maybe it helps to think of it as a hand for an absent player, who's keeping those 14 tiles out of play so no game can ever be a foregone conclusion.
    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
    January 13, 2014


    I had a change of heart

    > From: "rhs007
    > Sent: Monday, January 13, 2014 12:33 PM
    > Subject: NML Ruling
    >Hi Tom,
    >In the bookloet just mailed out to members, there was a ruling re. exchanging tiles for a joker.
    >I placed a tile on my opponents rack for her to exchange for a joker. But before she did exchange it, I said, "No I did not want the Joker" and tried to take back my tile.
    >I never touched the joker to place on my rack. I just said No, I did not want it.
    >Her response was to say too bad, you put it on my rack.
    >Should I have been allowed to take back my tile since there was no "exchange" or "replacement?
    >Thank you, Rosalind S

    Hi, Rosalind. While the League's latest bulletin does not specifically address the exact circumstances you experienced, it's clear (not only from American mah-jongg but also from Chinese and other variants) that actions trump words. Your action (placing your tile atop her rack) committed you to follow through. If you had only moved the tile in the air towards her rack and then stopped before the tile touched her rack, then you could have said "never mind." But you put the tile on her rack. Her response was correct. Don't make actions you don't want to commit to.
    Please read FAQ 19-AM and FAQ 9. I may not address the specific instance you're asking about, but I do give plenty of other examples that reinforce this "actions trump words" principle. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 13, 2014


    Scoring flowers in 20-point mah jong (plus another question)

    > From: Dawn B
    > Sent: Monday, January 13, 2014 10:01 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >We play the Chinese Classic Mah Jong.
    >My question is how would you score the following flowers?
    >3 flowers and 2 seasons (with one flower and one season being the players own)
    >We have been using a scoring system referred to as Twenty Point. Are you familiar
    >with it? Using it under Pairs it reads:
    >Pair of Flowers, Same color 8pts
    >Individual Flowers 4pts
    >Would the 5 individual flowers earn 4pt ea =20pts ?
    >and would we then add to that total 2 pairs at 8pts ea?
    >thank you for your help - appreciate it.
    >May the tiles be with you as well.
    >Dawnb

    > From: Dawn B
    > Sent: Monday, January 13, 2014 10:07 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >In Scoring using Twenty Point score sheet under Bonuses for Winning Hand only, what does it mean in-
    >filling the only place?
    >For both filling and drawing?
    >Thank you,
    >May the tiles be with you as well !
    >Dawn B

    Hi, Dawn.
    I already answered your flowers question on Saturday. I guess you didn't get my email telling you to come here and read my reply. You can scroll down and read it.
    As for your new question, "filling the only place" refers to three possible situations: you have a hand that is complete but for one tile, and the only place in the hand where the 14th tile can complete the hand is one of the following:
    the middle number of a chow
    a 7 to complete a 7-8-9 chow or a 3 to complete a 1-2-3 chow
    the mate for a lone tile (to complete a pair).
    Those 3 situations are considered "only-chance" or "only-place" situations, and they are low-odds situations, making them hard to do, meaning you'll have to be pretty lucky. Either you have to pick the tile yourself (very lucky) or some unwitting opponent might discard it (again, very lucky).
    I'm going to email you again. I hope you read these replies.
    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
    January 13, 2014


    A question with words

    > From: Dennis
    > Sent: Sunday, January 12, 2014 5:34 PM
    > Subject: January 12 Strategy column
    > Hey Tom... still enjoying the site.
    > But, I have a question about question 1 in the January 12 column.
    > Is it a trick question and the trick being the word dealt or have
    > I been mislead in the past that when you play with 3 you still have
    > 4 walls?
    > Thanks Tom and Happy New Year

    Hi, Dennis.
    The deal refers to tiles going from walls to players' hands. Yes, there are 4 walls. But tiles are dealt to only 3 seats.
    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
    January 12, 2014


    What's your favorite?

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Sunday, January 12, 2014 4:53 PM
    >Subject: MahJong styles
    >Hi Tom,
    >Of all the different styles of MahJong, which do you personally enjoy the most? I'm curious because you are knowledgeable about so many different variations. Do you have a favorite?
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi Linda,
    The one that excites me the most (the one I have the most fun playing) is Japanese riichi/dora majan.
    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
    January 12, 2014


    Scoring flowers in 20-point mah jong

    > From: Dawn B
    > Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 7:22 PM
    > Subject: Scoring Flowers and Seasons
    > Hi Tom,
    > We play the Chinese Classic Mah Jong.
    > My question is how would you score the following flowers?
    > 3 flowers and 2 seasons (with one flower and one season being the players own)
    > We have been using a scoring system referred to as Twenty Point. Are you familiar
    > with it? Using it under Pairs it reads:
    > Pair of Flowers, Same color 8pts
    > Individual Flowers 4pts
    > Would the 5 individual flowers earn 4pt ea =20pts ?
    > and would we then add to that total 2 pairs at 8pts ea?
    > thank you for your help - appreciate it.
    > May the tiles be with you as well.
    > Dawn B
    > --
    > I’m Believing God,
    > Dawn

    Hi, Dawn. You wrote:

    We have been using a scoring system referred to as Twenty Point. Are you familiar with it?
    You mean R.F. Foster's book. Yes, I have that.

    how would you score the following flowers?
    > 3 flowers and 2 seasons (with one flower and one season being the players own)
    >...under Pairs it reads:
    > Pair of Flowers, Same color 8pts
    > Individual Flowers 4pts
    Okay, so 4 points for each flower, plus 8 points for a pair of flowers, plus 8 points for a pair of seasons.

    Would the 5 individual flowers earn 4pt ea =20pts ?
    > and would we then add to that total 2 pairs at 8pts ea?
    Exactly. 4x5=20, plus 8+8=16 equals 36. And double once for own flower, and double again for own season, so 144 total (and that's just for the flowers!).

    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
    January 11, 2014


    How old and how much, part 3

    >From: Kerry R
    >Sent: Friday, January 10, 2014 7:43 PM
    >Subject: Re: Addition to Email regarding set inherited from grandparent's in-law
    >Thank you Ray for the information about the flowers!  They really are beautiful and it is nice to know what they mean!
    >Kind regards,
    >Kerry


    How old and how much, part 2

    > From: Ray
    > Sent: Friday, January 10, 2014 11:06 AM
    > Subject: Kerry's set of flowers
    > Hi Tom,
    > I thought I'd help out Kerry with the translation of her fabulous and beautifully carved flower tiles shown with the rest of her set on Monday.
    > Green characters, right to left, 山林泉石.
    > 山, Shan, Mountain
    > 林, Lin, Forest or Woodland
    > 泉, Quan, Spring (as in Spring-water, not the season. The unusual shape just under the red flower is a common way of depicting a Well, and so can be thought of as the source of the spring-waters). Quan can also translate to 'Mountain Stream' or as 'the source (or mouth) of a Spring'.
    > 石, Shi, Rocks.
    > So that would translate simply as the Forests, springs and rocks in the mountains. I have also seen this translated along the lines of "Mountain forest and waters" and as "the mountain forest and upland stream"
    > Red characters, also right to left, 江上清風
    > 江, Jiang, River and is usually the Changjiang river, or Yangtse river of Central China. In some Classical Chinese poetry, the Jiang is used to mean "rivers of exile" where less favoured civil officials were sent.
    > 上, Shang, Above
    >The third tile from the right is 清, Qing, meaning Clear or Pure
    > 風, Feng, Breeze
    > This would translate to "a clear wind above the river", or possibly "a refreshing wind above the river"!
    > Regards
    > Ray

    Great, Ray! I hope Kerry comes back and sees it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2014


    Reverse-redeeming a joker

    From: Lynn P
    > Sent: Friday, January 10, 2014 8:41 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: While playing American Mah Jongg yesterday player A wanted to know why she couldn't trade a joker in her hand for an exposed tile in player B's
    > hand where there were 2 cracks and one joker showing in an exposure. Player A wanted to use her joker and put it on Player B rack and take one of Player B's 2 cracks. This question reminded me of something you wrote about "reverse redemption" of a joker ("Red Dragon & West Wind" p.91 # 7 ) but I couldn't find it online and I wanted to email this statement to Player A since she said she had never seen it in writing. Unfortunately I didn't have your book with me yesterday and I won't see her for several weeks. Thanks for any help you can provide and looking forward to your Dragon hand. Had those jokers yesterday but just couldn't get those other tiles needed for Mah Jongg!! Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn. You wrote:

    player A wanted to know why she couldn't trade a joker in her hand for an exposed tile in player B's
    Because there is no rule saying she can do that! Tell her to look for it in the official rulebook -- she won't find it in there. Tell her to look on the back of the card -- she won't find it there either. Tell her to read the yearly bulletins as far back as she wants -- she won't find such a rule there either! When it doesn't exist in writing, it's not a rule, and you can't do it.

    something you wrote about "reverse redemption" of a joker ("Red Dragon & West Wind" p.91 # 7 ) but I couldn't find it online
    Why not? Just now I went to FAQ 19 and I did a control-F and typed "reverse" and the answer came up right away. I don't know what search technique you used.

    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
    January 10, 2014


    Can I add to an exposure later?

    > From: Todd H
    > Sent: Thursday, January 9, 2014 6:48 AM
    > Subject: American Mah Jongg: Claiming and Exposing Question
    > Good morning, Tom. I'm new to Mah Jongg and was just given a very nice looking set from my mother-in-law for Christmas who is looking forward to playing it (NMJL style) with me soon. I've been scouring the rules, your FAQ page, and Elaine Sandberg's A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg (the library didn't have your RDWW book), and I still haven't found a satisfactory answer to my question. Here it is:
    > A player wants to claim the last discard and is aiming for a hand marked with the exposed X symbol. The rules I have (in various formats) all state that the called tile must be used to complete a Pung, Kong, Quint, or Sextet. The rules then go on to state that after the player calls for a tile to complete a combination, then s/he must must make an exposure of that combination. Maybe I'm dense or being pedantic, but I'm still confused on one point best asked through an example. Let's say I'm going for the following hand:
    > FFFF 3333 x 5555 = 15 ……………………………………………………….………….. X30
    > I already have a pair of threes in my hand (and no Jokers) and a third has been discarded. Can I claim that third 3? Part of me thinks yes, as it completes a legal combination (a Pung of threes) and the rules state, "the called tile must be used to complete a Pung, Kong, Quint, or Sextet". However, it doesn't "complete a combination" that appears on the card, as the card requires a Kong of threes.
    > If the answer is yes, that I may claim and expose my newly created Pung of threes, when in reality I need a Kong of them before I could declare Mah Jongg, what do I do when I eventually acquire the necessary tile (another 3 or a Joker) to complete the Kong? Do I have to expose it too with the others on the top of the rack or may I keep it concealed?
    > Thank you for your time and expected answer,
    > Todd H
    > Cambridge, NY

    Hello, Todd. You wrote:

    [I need to make a kong, and] I already have a pair of threes in my hand (and no Jokers) and a third has been discarded. Can I claim that third 3?
    You can. But you will not be able to turn your exposed pung into a kong later on. See FAQ 19AF. If you expose a pung of threes, you will not be able to make that multiplication hand you described (you'll have to look for another hand on the card that works with your exposed pung).
    So the best thing to do, then, is let that third three go. Don't call it unless you can make the complete set that you need (or you know you can use the set that you make). This is an important beginner principle that all my students learn in my classes.

    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
    January 9, 2014


    Designing my own alternative card

    > From: Jason Green-Lowe <jasongreenlowe@gmail.com>
    > Sent: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 12:41 AM
    > Subject: Alternatives to NMJL Cards
    > Dear Tom,
    > First of all, thank you for maintaining your wonderful website -- you have a charming sense of humor, and an alarmingly comprehensive list of mahjong topics.
    > Here's my question: I play American-style mahjong, and everyone I know has always used the NMJL card to determine the list of winning hands. Have you ever heard of anyone designing or publishing alternative cards? I just finished writing my own card, and I'm curious to see if there's anyone out there I could get feedback or advice from. There's so much design space to explore! Even though the NMJL changes the hands every year, the changes always fall into a very narrow set of patterns.
    > Feel free to publish my e-mail address if you wish, and thanks in advance for any time you can spare!
    > Best wishes,
    > Jason

    Hi, Jason. You wrote:

    Have you ever heard of anyone designing or publishing alternative cards?
    Yes. I have quite a few alternative cards in my collection, going back to the 1940s. Read FAQ 7i.

    curious to see if there's anyone out there I could get feedback or advice from.
    I imagine there is. But what kind of advice would you be looking for?

    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
    January 7, 2014


    How old and how much

    > From: Kerry R
    > Sent: Monday, January 6, 2014 3:51 PM
    > Subject: Mah Jong Set - how old and what is the approximate value
    > Dear Tom,
    > I inherited this set from my grandparents in-law who lived in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco. Approximately how old is it and approximately how valuable is it? Suddenly, I cannot remember if you give approximate values!
    > 1: There are 148 tiles with 36 dots, 36 craks, 36 bams, 16 winds (4 each N,E,W,S), 4 red, 4 green and 4 white dragons with 4 additional blank tiles. There are 8 very detailed flowers, all different, 2 each of no's 1-4.
    > 2: There are 115 sticks (36 black 2's, 32 black 10's, 40 black 2's, 8 red 5's), 4 bone winds markers and a bone container with bone lid, 16 (4 each blue, yellow, green and pink) markers, 4 large white markers, 4 large blue markers, and 2 red markers, 2 small bone dice and 4 tiny bone dice in a small wooden casket with lid.
    > 3: The tiles are bone and bamboo 12 mm thick (6 mm bone and 6 mm bamboo), 20 mm wide and 30 mm long. The tiles are in very good condition (excellent?) with a very few tiles splitting at the dovetail joint.
    > 4: A Babcock's Rules of Mah Jong " Red Book of Rules", and a NMJL card from 1940 also came with the set.
    > 5: The box is highly lacquered with painting on the sides and hardware on the corners. It has 5 drawers, the top three are for the tiles and the bottom is divided into 4. It is missing the "doodad" from the lower right corner of the top and the upper left corner of the right side. It is also missing one handle.
    > I have included photos of everything I can think of. Please let me know if I have forgotten anything. From everything I have read on your site, I think the set was made in the 20's, but I am not sure.
    > Thank you in advance for all your help!
    > Regards,
    > Kerry

    > From: Kerry R
    > Sent: Monday, January 6, 2014 4:04 PM
    > Subject: Addition to Email regarding set inherited from grandparent's in-law
    > I just found a remarkably similar set at mahjongmahjong.com in their museum. The only difference that I can see is that my dragons have no letters on them and my flowers are numbered rather than designated N,S,E,W. The Bams are exactly as are the craks, Unfortunately the museum doesn't give an age. If you are interested, they reference it BB8.
    > Regards,
    > Kerry

    Hello, Kerry.
    Your set is clearly a 1920s set, and (given the presence of Babcock's Little Red Book), probably a Babcock set. A nitpick about how you chose to arrange your flowers in their group portrait. I took your photo and rearranged your flowers as the Chinese craftsman intended them:

    I thought they might arrange to make a picture, but they didn't. The Chinese characters on your flowers spell out an eight-character phrase, or maybe two four-character phrases. Your green characters say (from 1 to 4), "mountain forest [something] stone." Your red #2 is "high" or "upper" and your red #4 is "wind." I can't tell you what the whole thing says, but maybe you can find some clues or resources in FAQ 7E (link above left).

    As for your set's value. First I have to digress and tell you about the bits that do not belong (and you should remove them). All the colored discs are add-ons by the set's previous owner -- you can put them in some other board game. They do not belong in this set. You said there are 6 dice; the 2 larger ones were added in by the set's previous owner. You can leave those with the set (they're more pleasant to use than the original tiny dice). You also have a 1940 NMJL card that does not belong with the set -- it's worth money to a collector on its own (maybe $15-20? I don't know). The presence of the Babcock book adds to the value -- do not remove it from the set.

    You said the tiles' condition is "very good condition (excellent?) with a very few tiles splitting at the dovetail joint" -- the condition of your tiles is "good" because any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them. (See FAQ 7H.) But the carving is more elaborate and beautiful than many of that period, and your one bams show bamboo sprouts rather than the usual bird, both of which increase the value. Then again, I saw Haversian system lines on the unshrunk original photos of the suit tiles -- Haversian system lines decrease the value. The box is unique, which increases the value. But it has missing parts, you say, so that decreases the value. You did not mention the condition of the book.

    I'd say if it was in truly excellent condition (box and tiles and booklet) it might go for over $300. But in its present condition, probably under $200. Just guessing!

    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
    January 6, 2014


    She snoozed, part 2

    >From: Shelley K <jokerqueen8
    >Sent: Monday, January 6, 2014 7:08 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you so much for your expertise and quick response! Much appreciated by our group.


    She snoozed -- who loses?

    > From: Shelley K <jokerqueen8
    > Sent: Monday, January 6, 2014 2:46 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > A player's turn was skipped over by accident. A tile is discarded and another player shouts "Mah Jong!" before the error is discovered, exposing her hand. A few moments later, the player who missed her turn speaks up.
    > Is the win disqualified?

    Hi, Shelley.
    This is a clear case of "you snooze, you lose." You did not paint a crystal-clear picture of what happened, so I do not know how much time went by, or what happened exactly, after a player picked out of turn "by accident." In a tournament, a player who picks out of turn would be called dead. But in this case, the act is not mentioned until after someone wins. The player who was skipped snoozed - she didn't speak up immediately when her turn was skipped, so she loses (she forfeited her play). See Philosophy #4 in Frequently Asked Question 9. (Scroll up and look left for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this .) Actually, in this case, two people made mistakes -- the player who picked out of turn and the player whose turn was skipped but didn't speak up right away; see Philosophy #5.b.
    But "mah jongg trumps everything" (Philosophy #5.f). Because a player declared mah jongg, the hand cannot continue. The fact that two players erred is now moot. Pay the winner and learn from the mistake.

    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
    January 6, 2014


    Hand for the Year of the Horse

    > From: Connie
    > Sent: Friday, January 3, 2014 10:19 AM
    > Subject: Year of the Horse Hand
    > Thank you very much for creating our yearly hands. Would you be so kind to post this year's hand...we certainly look forward to it! Thanks again, Connie
    > P.S. Attached is a copy of our MCR chart.

    > From: Connie W via PayPal
    > Sent: Friday, January 3, 2014 10:34 AM
    > Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Connie W
    > PayPal
    > Hello Thomas Sloper,
    > This email confirms that you have received a donation ... from Connie W. You can view the transaction details online.
    > Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    > Contributor: Connie W
    > Message: Thank you for creating the Yearly Hands! And I value your mahjong knowledge...best website for MJ info...also have your book. Thanks again, Connie Walker, Wilmington, NC.
    > Sincerely,
    > PayPal

    Hi, Connie.
    Thank you very much for the donation! Very appreciated.
    Chinese New Year occurs on January 31st this year, so I have a few weeks to put that together. Your email sparked my initial thoughts on it. I gather that you play MCR/CO, so I'll make sure that the hand works for Asian variants too (that it doesn't only work with American rules - in other words, I won't do anything that requires jokers or that uses flowers in the finished hand). I will post it in a column this month.
    And as for your MCR chart: it's cute, but you didn't say why you were sending it to me...?
    Thanks again for the donation. May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 3, 2014


    Score cards/sheets for Chinese Classical

    > From: Colin B
    > Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2014 10:48 AM
    > Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    > Hello, Tom,
    > I saw once a picture of a "score sheet" for Mahjong (might have been in Jelte Rep's book "The Great Book of Mah Jong" or something.)
    > Is there anywhere that they would have one for Chinese Classical? A score sheet that takes into account how all four players' hands (even if incomplete) receive a score? That would be a huge, huge help in keeping track of scores for Classical. It's just a shot in the dark, but I figured there has to be some *somewhere* on the net right? And I have NO idea how I would go about designing one on my own.
    > Thanks as always for your help,
    > Colin Bisasky

    Hi, Colin. Long time no see!
    Those score sheets/cards are often offered for sale on eBay. Look in "Mah Jong / Pre-1970" and I imagine you'll see some come up for auction there. That's where I acquired several of them.
    If you want to design one yourself, look in any book on CC - they usually have a scoring table printed in there somewhere. You want to list the points and the doubles on one side. Then the other side is usually a list of scores as doubled multiple ways.
    And surely there are some doubling tables on the CC sites listed in FAQ 4b - I haven't checked those sites lately - if some of my links are broken, I'd appreciate hearing about it so I can delete 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
    January 2, 2014


    Column link broken

    > From: Gini S
    > Sent: Thursday, January 2, 2014 9:10 AM
    > Subject: Column 590 not accessable
    > Using chrome, the column name reads "Jan DATE", and goes to http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column2/column590.htm
    > which is not the column.
    > Enjoy,
    > Gini A. S
    >[Personal information deleted]
    > It's pronounced "Gee Knee", and no, it's not short for Virginia.

    Hi, Gini. That was a placeholder for 2014, and I unintentionally uploaded it prematurely. I've put up a fix for now (column 590 has not been written yet).

    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
    January 2, 2014


    Is this a rule? I can't find it in writing anywhere!

    > From: taweyah
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 6:20 PM
    > Subject: Question
    > Tom,
    > I am hoping you can settle a dispute. A player claims a hand can be pure on the QUINTS when using a joker. I thought not but looking for an answer. Thank you.
    > Rilo W

    Hi, Rilo. You wrote:

    A player claims a hand can be pure
    To me, because of my background with Chinese mah-jongg, "pure" means "one suit only." But from context, you appear to mean "jokerless." See column 460. The term is really "jokerless." Look on the card.

    on the QUINTS when using a joker.
    Your friend is saying "I can be jokerless even when I have a joker." Pish posh! Defy her to show you that rule in writing anywhere! Look in the official rulebook -- not there. Look on the back of the card -- not there. Look in every yearly NMJL bulletin going back as far as you can -- I've never seen it, and my bulletins go back to the nineties. When a rule has not been published in writing by the governing body, it's not a rule. See Frequently Asked Question 19-BK.

    I thought not but looking for an answer.
    If your friend won't take my word for it and wants to get it in writing from the League, she can contact the League herself. See FAQ 19-BN.

    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
    New Year's Day, 2014


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