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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
3. Books on Mah-Jongg
  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
4b Lots O' Links!
5. Computer MJ
6. "Rosetta Stone"
7.
  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
  7c. What's It Made Of?
  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
  -   7c3. One Word: Plastics
  7d. Bits And Pieces
  7e. "Mystery Tiles"
  7f. Playing Tables
  7g. How Old Is It?
  7h. How Much Is It Worth?
  7i. Cards... and Kards
  7j. Tips For Buyers
  7k. Where To Buy (US/Eur.)
  7m. Where To Buy (Asia)
  7n. Tips For Sellers
  7o. Cleaning & Restoring
  7p. "Tell Me Anything"
  7q. "I Need Blank Tiles!"
  7r. "I Need Jokers!"
  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
  7t. DIY Joker Stickers
  7u. Manufacturers
8. Strategy
9. Etiquette & Errors
10. MJ For Dummies
11. History of Mah-Jongg
   11a. Definitions, sources
   11b. Precursor games
   11c. Who created MJ
   11d. Earliest MJ writings
   11e. Earliest MJ sets
   11f. Proto-MJ & CC
   11h. History timeline
12.
13. Fewer Than 4 Players?
   13a. 3P/2P/5P/6P American MJ
   13b. 3P/2P Asian Forms
   13c. 3P/2P Japanese MJ
   13d. I Dunno, I'm Just Starting
   13e. Solitaire Tile-Matching
14. Table Rules
15. Finding Players & Teachers
16. The NMJL Card
17. HKOS
18. MJ Symbolism
19. American Mah-Jongg
20. Misunderstood Asian Rules
21. How To Run A Tournament
22. Chinese Official Scoring
23. Mah-Jongg Demographics
24. How To Get Technical Support
25. Can't Win Japanese Majan
26. Teaching Tips
27. Table Rotation

Maj Exchange Boards
Q & A Bulletin Board
Find Players/Teachers BB
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Sets Wanted BB
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Tiles Wanted BB
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Accessories Wanted BB

Weekly Strategy Column

Mah-Jonggy Fun
The 2002 WCMJ
The 2003 CMOC
The 2005 OEMC
The 2005 CMCF
The 2006 CMCF
The 2007 OEMC
The 2007 WMJC
Pictures of Japan
Beautiful Nikko, Japan
A Hong Kong MJ Adventure
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Mahjong in India
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Mah Jongg Madness 2012
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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
  • 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 ABOUT AMERICAN / NMJL RULES. Your question has probably already been answered there.
  • IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE NMJL CARD, PLEASE READ FAQ 16.
  • IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A MAH-JONGG TEACHER, PLEASE READ FAQ 4A and check the Find Players/Teachers Bulletin Board and check FAQ 15.
  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome.


    Ask "Mister Mah-Jongg" a question!

    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.

    Rules: No shouting, please. Typing in all capital letters is considered "shouting." Nobody is allowed to shout here but me! (^_^) If your question or comment is typed in all capital letters, it will be converted to all lower case before being posted here with my reply.
    Please don't ask me to click links to get more information about your question. Give me all the information in your email. Photos are okay as emailed attachments (JPG or PNG format, not PDF format).
    Please do not ask computer-game support questions here; read FAQ 24 to learn how to get tech support.
    If you are seeking a "Mah-Jong Solitaire" tile-matching game, please read FAQ 12.
    For reader enjoyment, humor is sometimes used in the responses that I give. Please don't be offended by a response given in the spirit of reader enlightenment and entertainment.
    Terms of service and privacy policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.
    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).
    The first time someone asks a question here, I send a reply email to let you know that you should come back and see your answer. If your email address is protected by a service that wants me to click a link and prove myself to be human, I don't click the link. You'll need to check back here to find your answer.
    This is an information exchange, not a social site. Due to the actions of spammers, all users' posts go through me, and I when I post them, I omit email addresses (with exceptions as stated above). I have learned from experience 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.





  • Some kind of scam

    >From: Robert Castro <robert.castro45@yahoo.com>
    >To:
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 4:11 PM
    >Subject: Tutor
    >Hello,
    > I'm Robert, During my search for a lesson teacher that would help in taking my son (Kenneth) During is stay in your location. I found your advert and it is very okay to me since you specialize in the area I'm seeking for him, My son would be coming to your city before the end of this month for a period of time with his friend, I'll like to know if you can help in taking him for the lesson? just to keep him busy and refresh. Kenneth is 11 years old, So kindly let me know your charges per hour/lesson in order for me to arrange for his payment before he travels down to for the lessons to commence.
    > He will be staying there for 2 weeks and Please Reply back on:
    > (1). Your charges per 2 hours (3 times a week for 2 Weeks):starting from 9th January until 22th January 2016
    > (2) Total Cost For 6 class/12 hours lessons in 2 Weeks
    > (3). The Day and time you will be available to teach him During the week:
    > Well am very happy that i see you as my son tutor and about your years of Experience there is no problem about the lessons, My son will be coming with his caregiver.
    > So there is no problem for the lesson to commence by next week, my son caregiver will be bringing him to your location for the lessons and you can teach him anywhere around you including the Library or your home if that is okay by you so i will like you to teach my son the best of you when he get to the city for the lessons. I will like you to email me with your schedule for the lessons,I will like you to email me with the name on the check and Full mailing address where the check will be mailed to and including your Home and Cell phone number for my attorney to issue out a check to your before leaving the the state, by this week, I will be awaiting to read from you soon with your name and address.
    >Best Wishes.
    >Robert.

    >From: Steven Mcdowell <stevenmcdowell48@yahoo.com>
    >To:
    >Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2015 12:47 AM
    >Subject: Tutor
    >Hello,
    > I'm Steven, During my search for a lesson teacher that would help in taking my son (Kenneth) During is stay in your location. I found your advert and it is very okay to me since you specialize in the area I'm seeking for him, My son would be coming to your city before the end of this month for a period of time with his friend, I'll like to know if you can help in taking him for the lesson? just to keep him busy and refresh. Kenneth is 11 years old, So kindly let me know your charges per hour/lesson in order for me to arrange for his payment before he travels down to for the lessons to commence.
    > He will be staying there for 2 weeks and Please Reply back on:
    > (1). Your charges per 2 hours (3 times a week for 2 Weeks):starting from 9th January until 22th January 2016
    > (2) Total Cost For 6 class/12 hours lessons in 2 Weeks
    > (3). The Day and time you will be available to teach him During the week:
    > Well am very happy that i see you as my son tutor and about your years of Experience there is no problem about the lessons, My son will be coming with his caregiver.
    > So there is no problem for the lesson to commence by next week, my son caregiver will be bringing him to your location for the lessons and you can teach him anywhere around you including the Library or your home if that is okay by you so i will like you to teach my son the best of you when he get to the city for the lessons. I will like you to email me with your schedule for the lessons,I will like you to email me with the name on the check and Full mailing address where the check will be mailed to and including your Home and Cell phone number for my attorney to issue out a check to your before leaving the the state, by this week, I will be awaiting to read from you soon with your name and address.
    >Best Wishes.
    >Steven.

    >From: Daniel Stotz <stotz_daniel@yahoo.com>
    >To:
    >Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2015 3:01 AM
    >Subject: Tutor
    >Hello,
    > I'm Daniel, During my search for a lesson teacher that would help in taking my son (Kenneth) During is stay in your location. I found your advert and it is very okay to me since you specialize in the area I'm seeking for him, My son would be coming to your city before the end of this month for a period of time with his friend, I'll like to know if you can help in taking him for the lesson? just to keep him busy and refresh. Kenneth is 11 years old, So kindly let me know your charges per hour/lesson in order for me to arrange for his payment before he travels down to for the lessons to commence.
    > He will be staying there for 2 weeks and Please Reply back on:
    > (1). Your charges per 2 hours (3 times a week for 2 Weeks):starting from 9th January until 22th January 2016
    > (2) Total Cost For 6 class/12 hours lessons in 2 Weeks
    > (3). The Day and time you will be available to teach him During the week:
    > Well am very happy that i see you as my son tutor and about your years of Experience there is no problem about the lessons, My son will be coming with his caregiver.
    > So there is no problem for the lesson to commence by next week, my son caregiver will be bringing him to your location for the lessons and you can teach him anywhere around you including the Library or your home if that is okay by you so i will like you to teach my son the best of you when he get to the city for the lessons. I will like you to email me with your schedule for the lessons,I will like you to email me with the name on the check and Full mailing address where the check will be mailed to and including your Home and Cell phone number for my attorney to issue out a check to your before leaving the the state, by this week, I will be awaiting to read from you soon with your name and address.
    >Best Wishes.
    >Daniel.

    Dear readers,
    I found these just now in my email spam folder. Obviously some kind of scam (the emails are from three different names but all have identical content, up to and including capitalization, punctuation, and the name and age of the alleged son). I post these here in case any of my readers get a similar email.
    If I had received just one of these instead of three, and if it was in my regular email inbox instead of the spam folder, I still would have been suspicious:

    1. It is not specified in the email what subject matter the parent wants taught to the son;
    2. The grammar is atrocious - clearly not written by someone for whom English is spoken every day. This by itself is not necessarily a red flag, but in combination with everything else...
    3. The term "your city" seems to indicate that the sender doesn't really know where you live, and that he doesn't live there.
    4. The 11-year-old son is traveling to "your city" specifically to take lessons from you, but it's just to "keep him busy and refresh," which makes no sense.
    Anyway, it's clearly bogus, and I hope nobody loses money or wastes time on it.
    May the tiles be with you in the new year.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 31, 2015


    When does this new rule, part 2

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 8:19 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Thanks for answering my email of today. But letter to NMJL was not written by nor to me. I am Lynn P. Letter writer is Lynn McD. See below in red:
    >From Tom: My book was accurate as to the rules in 2007, but from time to time I learn of things that need to be corrected. So I have created a collection of errata, and you can download it at the RDWW page. After I got the email, "Does your guide need some correcting, part 3 - Mistakes in American mah-jongg, part 2 - Frequently Asked Questions about American mah-jongg, part 2," From: Lynn McD on: Monday, March 2, 2015, I added that new information to FAQ 19-AM and to the errata. The letter Lynn got from the League says it clearly: etc.
    >Enjoy New Year’s Eve and Day! Lynn P. (a RI native but now a Floridian/no more snow!!)

    Okay, Lynn. It was the other Lynn to whom I spoke last March, not you (or at least it was she who got the letter). So, other than correcting my confusion about my Lynns, was there anything else? Is there still a question? We're clear that there's no new rule?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 30, 2015


    Can I claim "same" tile when a joker is discarded?

    >From: "margiep
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 4:42 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Question
    >mah jongg discards
    >if i throw out a 2 crack and the next player throws out a joker can a player pick up the 2 crack that was thrown
    >Margie P

    Hello, Margie.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-G (please read the whole thing, not just the first one or two parts of it). You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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!


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 30, 2015


    When does this new rule go into effect?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2015 4:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg and concerning ruling cited below:
    >1. When does this new rule go into effect?
    > 2. How are Mah Jongg players supposed to know about this new rule? We always played according to rule in RD&WW. I thought it would be in new bulletin but couldn’t find it or mention of it being on new 2016 card. Do you think holding the called tile in your hand while you decide if you really want it would be OK? Then you can put it on your top rack along with the rest of the tiles you need. I know as soon as a player calls tile, puts it on her rack and then says she doesn’t want it and puts it back there are going to be problems at the table. I guess as a group you can decide not to follow this rule. As an aside: do you know if players who buy their new MJ cards in a group purchase receive the January Bulletin? Thanks. Wishing you a very happy & healthy new year! Lynn P.

    Hi, Lynn.
    I recall that you had asked me about that letter before. I found our previous discussion at http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive34.htm - dated March 2, 2015. I entitled our conversation "Does your guide need some correcting, part 3 - Mistakes in American mah-jongg, part 2 - Frequently Asked Questions about American mah-jongg, part 2"
    I told you at that time, "I'm amending the errata (downloadable from http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/rdww.htm) as follows:

      P. 53 - Rule 60.c. This rule as written in the book was misconstrued from a rule given in a yearly bulletin from the National Mah Jongg League. The League clarified the rule in the January 2007 bulletin and in a letter to Lynn McDonald (as recorded in the Sloperama.com Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board in early March, 2015):

      Once the player has either put the taken discard atop her rack or exposed tiles from her hand, she has committed to the play and may not rescind the move."

    My book ("The Red Dragon & The West Wind") is NOT the official rulebook. The League is the ultimate arbiter. The thing they told you in that letter from last February was true then and is still true today. It is NOT "a new rule." I keep updating RDWW with errata, and you can get the errata from the RDWW page here on my website.

    Today you asked, "Do you think holding the called tile in your hand while you decide if you really want it would be OK?" - No, I don't. If you are indecisive, don't pick it up. Say "hold" or "wait" (although I dislike that, too) and don't pick it up until you're sure. Taking an action is to commit to completing the action, period.

    You also wrote, "I guess as a group you can decide not to follow this rule." That's true with all the rules, as I wrote in FAQ 14.

    And you wrote: "do you know if players who buy their new MJ cards in a group purchase receive the January Bulletin?" I suspect not. If you want the bulletin (and why wouldn't you want it), buy your card direct from the League (as I have always said).

    HNY 2U2, and ... may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 30, 2015


    No reply

    >From: Dolly W
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 29, 2015 9:06 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: To whom may concern
    >A copy to sloperama, we never did have an answer from the Mah Jongg League.
    >Sent from my iPad
    >
    >Begin forwarded message:
    >From: Dolly W
    >Date: December 28, 2015 at 3:38:44 PM EST
    >To: dollytintor@bellsouth.net
    >Subject: Fwd: To whom may concern
    >Sent from my iPad
    >
    >Begin forwarded message:
    >From: Dolly W
    >Date: December 28, 2015 at 3:37:44 PM EST
    >To: "customerservice@nationalmahjonngleague.org"
    >Subject: To whom may concern
    >Dear Mahjongg league Board.
    >First my condolences on the lost of Mrs Ruth Unger. I did have the pleasure,
    >of meeting her many years back, and she was my inspiration, for learning and,
    >teaching Mah Jongg, since the 1970's.
    >I still teach the game, to Seniors, in Sebastian Florida. And I like to mention of all
    >the women and men, that came to my class, without knowing, or ever seeing a Mah Jongg, set.
    >And through patience and perseverance, they learned the game. I can said, that learning the game bring people together, and into a social active life style. Many of them were lonely, specially
    >after the lost of a love one, and because of the class ; today Mah Jongg, groups have been form, and my class is always full with new learners. By the way my member ID : 1000xxxxx. Last year we order over 30 cards, but not at one time.this year I will be sure to order over 35 cards at once, and hoping to help some kind of charity organization, that you can pick for us?
    >Also if you can recognize our group in any way, will be much appreciated, and will give our members a sense of strength,
    >Sincerely
    >Dolly Worn-Tintor
    >Group leader and teacher.
    >Mah Jongg Senior Group Class.
    >Sebastian, Fl.

    Dolly, it's not clear from the above what kind of response you were expecting from the League. And I don't know why you sent that to me.
    May the tiles be with you, and have a happy new year.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 29, 2015


    What is it, part 2

    >From: Sue D
    >Sent: Saturday, December 26, 2015 11:49 PM
    >Subject: Re: What is it worth?
    >Thank you so very much for responding to my email. I am so thrilled to know what the game is called :)
    >Happy New Year!
    >Sue D

    You're welcome, Sue. (^_^)


    What is it worth?

    >From: Sue D
    >Sent: Saturday, December 26, 2015 4:26 PM
    >Subject: What is it worth?
    >Hello -
    >I purchased this set at a thrift store and would like to sell it on eBay or Amazon. I have searched high and low to find something similar online to no avail. I believe it is a Mahjong set. I am hoping you may be able to tell me what year this may have been made and what it might be worth.
    >Thank you so much for your time.
    >Sincerely,
    >Sue D
    >Roseville CA

    Hi, Sue.
    I cannot answer your two questions, but I can tell you that it's labeled "Disney Ponjan" and that it is a simplified children's game similar to Rummikub. Wikipedia says Rummikub combines elements of rummy and mah-jongg, so you weren't far off.
    I have no idea when it was made - perhaps the sixties. And I have no idea how much it is worth. For someone like me, who is a fan of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, and a Japanophile, and a mah-jongg player, it's a triple delight. But how many people are there for whom all three of those elements are desirable? I don't know. And don't try to sell it to me - I don't have spare money to buy more collectibles, much less room to store it in! Good luck.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    Boxing Day, 2015


    Restoring antique box

    >From: Fayeks21
    >Sent: Friday, December 25, 2015 9:33 AM
    >Subject: Cleaning/Restoring Question
    >hi I recently received and old 1923 ish mj
    >set in a wood box with 5 draws, the pull handles on several are missing . Any idea where I can find replacements.
    >Thanks

    Hi, Fayeks. A good hardware store will have a selection of drawer pulls. You can ask there about ordering different ones if they don't have any that are suitable. You can also do a Google search for small decorative drawer pulls.
    If you insist on hardware that matches what's on the other drawers, you can contact mah-jongg tile vendors. People who sell mah-jongg tiles (as opposed to complete sets) usually have bought up incomplete sets, and have a lot of spare parts. You can find tile sellers on the Tiles For Sale bulletin board. There's a link above left. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 25, 2015


    Use of Fly jokers in 3P Malaysian MJ

    >From: Foong
    >Sent: Monday, December 21, 2015 10:03 PM
    >Subject: Can we have more than 4 east on a player hand?
    >Hi,
    >As attached on the picture, i am playing 3 player Malaysian Mahjong. Can i mahjong with the tiles i have? My friend said i cannot due to in 1 player hand, we cannot have more than 4 "east" even you use joker to represent it as a 5th east. Kindly advice. Thanks
    >Best regards,
    >Foong

    Hi, Foong.
    I have never played with any Malaysian players, and I have not played with jokers in any Asian variant. So your friend might not accept anything I say in this reply. When I first read your email, I thought you were talking about making a quint or sextet of Easts (single groupings of five or six of a kind). But then when I downloaded and opened your image, I saw that you were talking about two pungs, or a pung and a pair, of Wests. So I reviewed the Malaysian joker rules (http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/malaysian.htm).

    Because the "Fly" tile is used as a joker, it can be used in many ways. You can use one Fly in a pung. You may use two Flies in a pung. You may not use three Flies in a pung.
    You may not use any Flies in a kong.
    You may use a Fly in a chow. You may not use two Flies in an exposed chow (if you do, the chow is considered to be a pung).
    You may use a Fly to make a pair, and you may even use two Flies to make a pair.
    You can even use a Fly as a flower, if you need it to come up to the minimum score.

    Now, because there are joker tiles in use on the table, it is possible to make two pungs of the same tile. One player could make a pung of West with one Fly or joker, and another player could make a pung of West with one or even two Flies or jokers. Actually, it's even possible to have two pungs and a pair of the same tile on the table.

    Vincent Cheah, who shared his Malaysian 3-player rules with me, never mentioned to me that a player may never have more than 4 of any tile in the hand. It's possible that this is really an accepted rule in Malaysian circles (and that Vincent simply forgot to mention it to me) - or perhaps your friend simply thinks it seems wrong to permit more than 4. If your friend is from Malaysia, perhaps it's best to take her at her word. There's another solution with the hand you show.

    You have all four Fly jokers (impressive) and five flowers. Let's ignore the flowers and see how this is broken down.

    If we accept that it's not permitted to have more than four Wests in the hand, you can use the fourth West to promote the West pung to a kong, then take a replacement tile, and win with that.

    In the image above, I used a tile back to represent "any tile." But depending on how you score things in your game, you might actually need the pair to be an honor tile.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 21, 2015


    Some feedback and answers, part 2

    >From: Leon L
    >Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2015 12:07 PM
    >Subject: RE: Re Table Rotation and Other
    >Hi Tom
    >Thank you for your response
    >I am sending you Teds response that he sent to me a while back about the Kong rule
    >I am answering your reply about when you can rob a Kong as well and other
    >I am also including Teds Progressive Mah Jong Details as well
    >
    >The comments were directed for the various sections on your site
    >The main ones that I was answering to were the Table Rotation and the Robbing the Kong Sections
    >The other notes were just an update on how we are playing and what is happening within our group
    >I can send you the full rules that we play by so you can add them to your list of Mah Jong Game versions section
    >
    >Let’s deal first with the Robbing the Kong Rule
    >The full details are listed below in Teds article attached but just to mention one point you brought up
    >Robbing the Kong can take place ANYTIME during the game
    >One does not have to count or note when the Kong was formed
    >A Player could declare a Melded Kong at the beginning of the game and the Kong could be Robbed on the very last turn of the game
    >The Time Lag allows a player to work his or her hand towards Robbing the Kong at any time during that Game
    >That it is why it is dangerous to form a Kong early in the Game
    >Later once many tiles are exposed the danger subsides somewhat but could still be dangerous
    >Refer to the Notes below from Ted
    >This is the way he was taught way back in the beginning

    Leon,
    It is necessary that I explain to you clearly how “Robbing a Kong” works and why the books are incorrect.
    The books advocate that “Robbing a Kong” can only occur at the point when a player displays a Kong and another player is awaiting one of those tiles to go Mah Jong, and the robbing of the Kong to go Mah Jong must take place immediately.
    This is unfair, incorrect and was not played in this manner originally.
    The following will clarify the conditions of “Robbing a Kong” for you.

    CASE 1 Assume that you are East and require a Six-Bamboo in order to complete a Chow and go Mah Jong, and that South already has a Pong of Six-Bamboos on display.
    A Six-Bamboo is discarded and South calls Kong and you call Mah Jong.
    The call of Mah Jong overrides the call of Kong, so you have gone Mah Jong and no robbing of the Kong has taken place.

    CASE 2 South is dealt a Six-Bamboo and adds it to the displayed Pong of Six-Bamboos, converting it into a Kong.
    You cannot call Mah Jong and rob the Kong because South has not yet completed their turn.
    They must receive a tile from the Dead Wall to compensate for the Kong (a tile which might perhaps give them Mah Jong) and then discard.
    You cannot then call Mah Jong because you may only react to the discarded tile or await your turn to act upon the displayed Kong.
    West is dealt a tile and discards.
    North is dealt a tile and discards.
    Now you are dealt a tile but decline it, calling Mah Jong and robbing the Six-Bamboo Kong to complete your Chow and go Mah Jong.

    These two cases illustrate what is fair play and correct and the way in which “Robbing a Kong” was originally construed and played.
    It follows that, where an open Kong is displayed, another player may design their hand to rob that Kong when they are ready to do so and upon their turn, in order to go Mah Jong and score a double.
    This adds to the skill of the game and is a good reason for not declaring an open Kong in the early stages of the hand.
    An experienced player with a hidden Pong will generally call Pong when the fourth tile is discarded, display the Pong and hold the fourth tile for later use.
    Bear in mind that a concealed Kong cannot be robbed.
    Ted.

    >The second Point is the Table Rotation Situation
    >Again this comes from Ted and is self-explanatory
    >
    >PROGRESSIVE MAH JONG
    >This form of the game is played when there are several tables in play and the number of players is so arranged that there is one player surplus who sits out.
    >Assume there to be three tables of four and thirteen players in total, which is an ideal number.
    >When a hand is completed at any table, the player who will be East Wind for the next hand, leaves the table and is replaced by the player sitting out, who comes into the table as the new East Wind.
    >
    >There are several advantages to this form of play as listed hereunder.
    >1) There is a constant movement of players across all tables making the game more sociable.
    >2) There is greater competition among all players equally, since a player is not limited to playing against only the players at one table.
    >3) Players of different strengths are neither at an advantage or disadvantage as, with the movement across tables, all players find themselves competing with both stronger and weaker players as the tournament progresses.
    >4) Movement across tables is random, depending on who happens to be sitting out and which table is next to finish a hand, and this makes for unexpected combinations of players and interesting challenges.
    >5) The player sitting out is always the East Wind and resumes play as the East Wind in the position of the player who has just vacated a table at the end of a hand.
    >
    >Note that the system is based on scoring by means of the payment of chips, and each player has a bowl of chips which they take with them from table to table.
    >All players begin with an equal number of chips and the ultimate winner is the player who has amassed the greatest amount of chips at the end of the tournament.
    >
    >This last point below is the way WE play up here in Johannesburg
    >Ted does not
    >He plays Progressive Mah Jong all the time
    >(Table Rotation)
    >VVVVV
    >VVVV
    > VV
    > V

    >Note that rounds of the Winds are not always played
    >This depends on how many players there are
    >Should there be an equal number of players then Rounds are played
    >Otherwise Table Rotation is
    >All other scoring is as normal.
    >
    >Hope this clarifies the Issue
    >I have included Teds Email for you as well should you wish to contact him with any quiries
    >Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to explain the way we play and to expand the Mah Jong Fraternities Knowledge on the different ways of playing

    Hi, Leon.
    Re table rotation methods first. I suppose it would be a good idea for me to create an FAQ on the subject, not only for tournaments but also for clubs and for groups of more than five. Perhaps one of these days I'll create one, and when I do I will certainly include your "progressive" rotation.
    Also, you mentioned that wind rounds are not always played - I think that makes total sense when players are constantly switching tables. In such a setting, it makes sense to use the American paradigm of "one hand = one game."

    Now to address the matter of Robbing the Kong (let's refer to it as RTK if we might at some point desire an abbreviation). Your friend Ted says that the RTK rule I described is:

    unfair
    That's subjective, a matter of opinion. When all players fully understand what the rule is, it's not difficult to simply adjust one's strategy accordingly.

    incorrect
    Now we need to understand how one can properly determine correctness or incorrectness. Correctness is not subjective - just as factualness is not subjective. For something to be incorrect, it must be provably not according to reality - or, in the case of rules, to be provably counter to the established written rules. When a game's rules are documented and all players agree to abide by those documented rules, then those documented rules are inherently "correct." There is a lot of documentation for mah-jongg, dating back to the 1920s. Ted further says, "the books are incorrect." Presumably, he means ALL the books, thus there are NO books that are correct on this. If Ted believes his way is better or preferable, that's fine. That's his opinion. When one method is better or preferable, that does not make another method incorrect. I don't know how he rightly determines what is and is not correct.

    and was not played in this manner originally.
    I know Ted thinks "the books are incorrect," but I don't know how anyone can know how things were done in times before we were born and in places we have not been, without books (since Wikipedia and the internet did not yet exist). I just now consulted several books, from the current era and from the 1960s and from the 1920s. In particular, in Milton C. Work's "Mah-Jongg Up-to-Date," from 1924. Robbing the kong was therein defined thusly, on page 129: "90. A player may Mah-Jongg by claiming a tile which has been added by another player to a grounded Triplet [an exposed pung], if he makes his claim before the other player quits his loose tile." This describes the way the rule was played in the 1920s. When Ted says this is not the way the rule was played "originally," he must be talking about a time before the 1920s. And I'd be curious as to the source of his information, since it cannot be from any book.

    If your groups are all playing his way of robbing the kong, that's fine, and it's not incorrect, as I defined correctness above. This rule as Ted defines it has a definite impact on strategy - if I was playing with that sort of rule, I would never promote a pung to a kong, preferring to discard the tile if I had no other use for it. An old discard can never be used, so if nobody mah-jonggs on my discard, I am safe as regards to that tile. So you see, I simply adjust my strategy, due to the existence of a unique RTK rule.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 20, 2015


    Some feedback and answers for your columns

    >From: Leon Lipschitz
    >Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 12:45 PM
    >Subject: Re Table Rotation and Other
    >Hi Tom
    >It’s been a long time since we chatted
    >Our Club here is going well
    >Still going strong
    >My daughter Gilla is still trouncing us left right and centre
    >Ted Kellerway who taught us the way we play says it’s not that she’s a good player it’s just that we all play badly
    >Maybe she’s just very lucky
    >In last two months she has gone over our limit
    >Once 57,000 odd points ad last week 105,000 points
    >Our Limit is 39,990 and Three TABS
    >
    >Anyway that’s not the reason writing to you but to give you some feedback and answers for your columns
    >
    >Table Rotation
    >We play Table rotation and rounds when players are available
    >If Even numbers of players we play Table Rounds
    >If odd number then we play Table Rotation
    >Both systems work well
    >With Table Rotation we simply say the player that is next to be EAST goes out and the Player that was sitting out now becomes the EAST (Dealer) Player
    >Should EAST Win he/she goes out and comes back next game as normal
    >Works very Well
    >Obviously when we play Table Rotation we do not play Rounds
    >When we do play Rounds we usually play for a set time then cash up
    >We do not play looser pays winner but everyone pays winner and then everyone settles between them selves
    >This allows us to play as long as we like
    >In today’s times evening games cannot be played like normal for the full 16 rounds
    >Everyone has work the next day so settlement amongst players is good for us
    >Table rotation is very easy to play and it definitely allows players to mix with each other and play different strengths
    >In cases like Gilla it’s a blessing to be out when she cleans up
    >
    >Settlement Amongst Players
    >By playing settlement amount players the game now becomes a build your hand up instead of just going Mah Jong
    >Going Mah Jong now becomes just a means of getting out before someone with a high hand goes out
    >Taking Gilla for example
    >Playing 10 games, Gilla will go out maybe three times the whole session but will still win most of the other games with high scores beating everyone else
    >
    >
    >The KONG rule and Robbing the Kong
    >WE play the Kong Rule I previously mentioned
    >You can claim a Kong as usual at any time during the game BUT in order to ROB THE KONG you have to do it ONLY in your own Turn
    >This makes for some very interesting play because declaring a Kong Early in the Game can be fatal later as players can now build their hands in such a way as to ROB that Kong Later in the game
    >We have had many games where players have done exactly that, my self-included and it is very satisfactory doing it too
    >The only danger of having to wait your turn to Robb the Kong is someone beating you to the punch and going Mah Jong before you
    >That has happened several times too
    >In my travels I have come across several players from around the world that have heard of and play that way of ROBBING THE KONG so the rule is not a fantasy rule but a real one
    >
    >We still Play TABS
    >1 TAB for every 10,000 points achieved during a session
    >We start with 8,300 points each
    >Minus scores are permissible but maximum score is set at 39,990 and three TABS only irrespective of any higher scores achieved
    >As case in point is Gilla’s last week score of 105,000 points
    >Had we not had the limit her scores would have pushed us well below players who play less frequently which would have been unfair to the regular players
    >Gilla has been our reigning Champion for the past 4 years
    >Obviously the other players aren’t very happy about her constant winning but here we have a dilemma
    >What do we do?
    >Don’t want to bar her from playing and handicapping her would also be unfair on her
    >How do you handle players who constantly win on a weekly basis?
    >
    >Blind Play
    >We still have not got round to playing Blind
    >Our Players prefer not too so have to abide by majority consensus
    >We still break the wall by the DEALER (East Wind and deal out from there
    >No double throw and breaking the wall randomly
    >
    >Someone from the MAH JONG CLUB in Spain has asked me to join them to play mah Jong online
    >Looks interesting but they play Riichi rules
    >Can find plenty rules on it bit are there any sites that also provide sample plays so one can visually see how it’s played
    >You tube or notes
    >
    >Tom been great talking to you again\Thank you for all the marvellous insights into the game
    >Have a wonderful Christmas
    >May 2016 bring you nothing but peace joy happiness good health and cheer
    >All the very best
    >Leon Lipschitz
    >MAH JONG SA
    >https://www.facebook.com/mahjongsa/

    Hi, Leon. Thanks for all that, but I don't know which ones are answers to which columns, or what you're feeding back to.
    Your description of robbing the kong only when it's your turn intrigues me. Every description I've ever seen in print says that the move is available at the instant of the formation of the kong. I've never seen anything in print describing it your way - and I foresee a potential problem with it. I assume that a player has to rob that kong shortly after the kong is formed, like within one go-around (if not, then that kong, and I presume ANY kong, is subject to being robbed at any time for the remainder of the hand - which seems wrong to me). Now imagine that a player forms a kong on his or her turn, and then discards. Another player interrupts the order of play by punging that discard, then discards. Then another player interrupts the order of play by punging that discard (a cascade of calls and exposures). Finally, it becomes the turn of the player who can rob the kong - what if nobody can remember by this time how long it's been since that kong was formed, due to the complicated cascade that happened in the meantime? Did it happen within one go-around? No.
    To get back to my parenthetical - if there was a rule in which ANY kong is subject to being robbed at any time for the remainder of the hand, then essentially that's a rule that implies a strategy that says "never form a kong - it's just too dangerous, for little benefit" and that's why I say that rule seems wrong to me.
    Happy holidays, and may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 18, 2015


    Really big tiles in Chongqing

    >From: Eoin M
    >Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 6:51 AM
    >Subject: Chinese Large Mahjong Sets
    >Hi Tom.
    >I’m just back from a trip to Chongqing in China. I saw a lot of people playing Mahjong while I was there. They all seem to use sets with very large tiles – I didn’t get to measure them, but they looked about 6cm tall (2.5 inches) in height.
    >Have you encountered tiles as big as this, or are they something which is particular to Chongqing? I know they had a “World Mahjong Championship” in Chongqing a few years ago and they may have made specially big tiles for it.
    >I was only in the city for a week; I found one place selling Mahjong sets while I was there. There’s a market at the bottom of the Lianglukou escalator (which is the longest escalator in China) beside the Caiyuanba Railway Station. There were many stalls there selling Mahjong sets, both the small ones and the giant ones.
    >Eoin M, Dublin, Ireland
    >An timpeallacht? - Smaoinigh air sula bpriontáileann tú an r-phost seo.
    >Please consider the Environment before printing this email.

    Hi, Eoin.
    The largest tiles I have seen (for use in play, as opposed to for display purposes or as novelty items) were size 9, the size of Vietnamese tiles (as described in FAQ 7A).
    H = 3.6cm (1-7/16")
    W = 2.7cm (1-3/32")
    D = 2.3cm (29/32")
    By the way, when I saw your email in my inbox, it had a paperclip icon on it, indicating an attachment. But I saw no attachment in your email. If you sent me a photo from Chongqing, I unfortunately didn't get it!
    Thanks for telling me your story, I enjoyed it! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 18, 2015


    Any plans for a revised edition?

    >From: Anita M
    >Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2015 9:07 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Reprint of The Red Dragon & The West Wind?
    >Are there any plans to reprint your book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," with the changes indicated in your Errata file?
    >Thanks,
    >Anita

    Hi, Anita.
    I haven't had any discussions with the publisher about that. I suppose one of these days I ought to ask my literary agent what she thinks. Thanks for your interest!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 17, 2015


    Is it ivory?

    >From: John S T via PayPal
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 9:16 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from John S T (jst)
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from John S T (jst). You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: John S T
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal


    >From: John T
    >To: webmaster@sloperama.com
    >Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2015 12:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have just inherited this set from my mother who always told me that it would be passed to me. I used to play with it when younger. She said that it belonged to her great grandfather (my mother would be 86 now) who was a seaman back in the 1800’s. I have been told that it is ivory, but I have my doubts after reading through your FAQ’s (very helpful, thank you). But it doesn’t seem to match much else either. Just wondering if you could shed any light on it if possible? I have attached some photos. The engraved images are simply beautiful. Regardless, it is a precious family heirloom, but we would love to know a little more about it. Many thanks for your time, much appreciated.
    >Kind regards,
    >John T.

    Hello, John.
    I guess you're asking if your tiles are ivory or not. It's hard to tell from photographs.
    1. You didn't tell me if the striations (seen in photos 7 and 10 above) change when a tile is rotated in bright light. If they don't, then the tiles are not ivory.
    2. The packaging of the tiles on felt-lined trays rather than plain wood trays is typical of how real ivory tiles are packaged.
    3. The striations on the end of the tile in your ninth picture don't look right for ivory. As I showed in FAQ 7C, those striations would be arced or curved in a crosshatch pattern, if the tiles are ivory. Most likely, your tiles are "French ivory" (celluloid plastic).
    The fact that you have an ancestor who was a seaman in the 1800s is irrelevant, since your tiles were made, for export, after 1920.
    Thanks kindly for the donation! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 17, 2015


    Broken links

    >From: Karen Parks
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 7:11 AM
    >Subject: Bad links on your site?
    >Hi Tom!
    >I was on your website earlier today, and I found some links that seem to be broken... can you tell me who I should send them to?
    >Thanks :)
    >Karen

    >On Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 4:42 PM, Tom Sloper wrote:
    >Me, of course.

    >From: Karen Parks
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 1:07 AM
    >Subject: Re: Bad links on your site?
    >Hello Tom!
    >I was on this page earlier: http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq04.html and the link to http://www.ma-jan.or.jp/rule.htm wasn’t working for me. There was a second one that wasn't loading for me either - http://reachmahjong.com/en/columns.html — I hope this makes your day a little easier!
    >By the way, I volunteered with two organizations this past year that I think would be great for you to add to your page as well: QuitDay.org, who helps communities around the world become smoke-free and healthy (https://quitday.org/), and the American Cancer Society, who also promotes health through education and awareness (http://www.cancer.org/). They’re both organizations that work hard to improve the community around us. Could you support them by adding them to your page, too?
    >Thanks and have a wonderful day!

    Thanks for letting me know about those broken links, Karen. I deleted them. But as for your suggestion that I add the non-profit organization links to FAQ 4 -- don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-charity and I'm certainly not opposed to groups that promote health and other benefits to society (as you can see by my article on smoking-related mah-jongg tchotchkes in the latest issue of Mahjong Collector magazine). But FAQ 4 is for links to mah-jongg websites. It doesn't make any sense to put charitable organization links there. I'd be getting SEO* requests from everybody and her dog to add their links too, and the next thing you know, people looking for mah-jongg links have to wade through a haystack of unrelated links to find the mah-jongg needles. It's a slippery slope! Now, I'm not against sloping in general, since I'm a Sloper myself, but surely it's not difficult to see why I shouldn't be adding off-topic, unrelated links in FAQ 4. SEO attracts more SEO. I dislike when SEO people come at me all the time pretending they're not SEO people and suggest I add links willy-nilly. But since I favor the links you suggested, I found another place to put them (not in FAQ 4), and since your organizations are non-profits, I'm not charging for posting those links.
    ... I can see a slippery slope just ahead... and I reserve the right to take my skis off and walk back uphill at any time.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 16, 2015

    * SEO = Search Engine Optimization. "By the way," my foot!


    Can I change my exposure before discarding?

    >From: Maureen B
    >Sent: Saturday, December 12, 2015 11:26 AM
    >Subject: mahj question
    >Tom, I know that in an exposure I can change the number of my meld as long as I haven’t discarded. Can I also remove a joker exposed in error for the correct tile in that meld as long as I have not discarded? EX: expose 4J44 then realize I have the 4th 4, remove J and add 4 then discard. Thanks, M

    Yes, of course you may do that. You could also simply redeem the joker on your next turn.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    12/12, 2015


    I discarded and forgot to pick

    >from: sally k
    >Sent: Friday, December 11, 2015 7:10 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I threw my tile down, but I forgot to pick another one. I remembered to after the next player threw her tile down, BUT she hadn't yet picked her new tile, so I said, before she picked her new tile, oh, I forgot to pick my tile. I thought I could, but the other players said I was now dead, because I only had 13 tiles and I wasn't allowed to pick the tile I forgot, even though the next payer had NOT yet picked her tile. WHEW!!!! Was I wrong and were they right??? I began to think, that they might have thought I was trying to pull a fast one, BUT, I honestly thought that move was legit. Thanking you in advance for your help!
    >Sallly K

    Hi, Sally. Your question:

    I threw my tile down, but I forgot to pick another one.
    So, you acknowledge that you made a mistake. What do you think is supposed to happen, according to the rules, when you make a mistake? To deliberately misquote the character Howard Wolowitz from the TV show "Big Bang Theory," "There are always do-overs when my people play games." Is that it? You think there's a rule that says, "when a player errs, everybody has to stop so she can have a do-over?" Crack open your rulebook and look for it. You won't find it, because that rule isn't there!


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    I know, you don't have the rulebook. Nobody has the rulebook! And why's that? Because they're not packed in every mah-jongg set, and many players don't think they need one, or don't know the rulebook exists, or don't want to pay the money.
    [Sigh.] Okay, okay... breathing... the rant is over. Getting on with it.

    Open the rulebook and... Doh! (Okay, right. You don't have one.) It's rules #3 and #4 on page 17. Every player has to hold 13 tiles at all times, except that brief time when one has a 14th tile (that happens every time it's her turn). If you have 13 tiles and you discard without picking, now you have 12 tiles, and you're dead.

    I remembered to after the next player threw her tile down, BUT she hadn't yet picked her new tile
    So you're saying she did the exact same thing you did. She's dead too!

    I thought I could, but the other players said I was now dead, because I only had 13 tiles
    No, you had 12. After the deal, every player has 13 tiles and the dealer has 14. Dealer discards, and from that time forward every player is holding 13 tiles. Then on her turn, a player starts her turn by bringing in a 14th tile - either by picking from the wall or by claiming the live discard. If she doesn't have mah-jongg, she ends her turn by discarding a tile.

    That's the way the game works under the official rules. Some people use a "fourteen tiles" scheme of some kind, but since that's not the way the official rules work, of course neither the League nor I can answer questions that arise out of made-up rules like that.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2015

    Note, 12/16: I guess I really went off on Sally there. I overreacted to her assumption that she should get a do-over. I suppose the reason is that I've seen a lot of people who don't seem to realize that mah-jongg is a game for grownups. Anyway, a retroactive "my bad" for the snippy tone of the above. - Tom


    When can I claim a discard? Can I change my exposure after redeeming a joker?

    >From: imar
    >Sent: Thursday, December 10, 2015 3:10 PM
    >Subject: maj question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you for your very informative column. I have come upon a situation twice now where there has been a bit of an argument. When it is my turn, may I first exchange a joker then call for the most recently discarded tile to make a kong with that joker as long as it all occurs in one turn. Since I have technically not drawn a tile yet wouldn't the discarded tile still be alive? To muddy the waters further, the well respected Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg book by Elaine Sandberg on page 93 states that you can correct an exposure while it is still your turn so....lets say I call for the most recent tile (and it is my turn next anyway), expose the pong, then exchange, and then use the joker to correct the pong to a kong. Anxious to have your answer!!
    >Ildiko'

    Hi, Ildiko'.
    I'm glad you enjoy my column. Allow me to introduce you to my FAQs (answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions). You can link to the FAQs above left. Your question is:

    When it is my turn, may I first exchange a joker then call for the most recently discarded tile
    Your question is Frequently Asked Question 19-M. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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!

    Since I have technically not drawn a tile yet wouldn't the discarded tile still be alive?
    Since you have not yet taken a fourteenth tile into the hand, you have not begun your turn in a legal manner, and are in violation of the rules. Read that FAQ.

    the well respected Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg book by Elaine Sandberg on page 93 states that you can correct an exposure while it is still your turn
    Yes, that's on page 14 of the official rulebook, too. And you can see that rule in FAQ 19-AF.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    lets say I call for the [live discard], expose the pong, then exchange, and then use the joker to correct the pong to a kong.
    A careful reading of FAQ 19-M will tell the tale.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 10, 2015


    3P MJ Q

    >From: Sue H
    >Sent: Monday, December 7, 2015 7:26 PM
    >Subject: question
    >When there are only 3 players for Mah Jongg what rules do we follow regarding setting up a wall for missing person. do we give them tiles when distributing out tiles and what about doing a charleston? Is there a set of rules for playing with 3 players.
    >Thank you
    >Sue

    >From: Sue H
    >Sent: Monday, December 7, 2015 7:40 PM
    >Subject: Re: question
    >I found the answers on your web site. You are so helpful thanks.
    >Sue

    I love it when somebody finds her own answer! May the tiles be with you.


    Counterclockwise, clockwise?

    >From: "sunrisetwins
    >Sent: Sunday, December 6, 2015 12:17 PM
    >Subject: American Mah Jongg
    >Hi:
    >We should know better, but the question came up at our last session about the direction when drawing tiles. Assume it should be clock-wise but counter-clock-wise seem so familiar. Which is correct?
    >Thanks for a response to such a simple request.

    Hi, sunsettwins. Your question didn't specify which motion you're talking about (play order - that is to say, after your turn, who goes next... or tile-removal - that is to say, after a two-tile stack is removed from the wall, which tile gets picked next). The answer is contained in the official rulebook, on pages 9 and 10. Of course somebody in your group has a copy of Mah Jongg Made Easy by the National Mah Jongg League, right?


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    If not, you could look in my book on page 44 (rule 19) or pages 68-70. If nobody in your group has either the official rulebook or my book, no problem. Read Frequently Asked Question 19-Q. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2015


    Is this a 1920s set?

    >From: Sandy E
    >Sent: Thursday, December 3, 2015 3:45 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A is my set a 1920s Chinese set?
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I bought this set recently and believe it is a complete Chinese set. The person I bought it from said his grandmother bought it in the 1920s and it had been in the family and not used much.
    >1. Does it appear that it is a 1920s or 1930s Chinese set? (I saw an image in your web site of the bam that led me to believe it might be.)
    >2. What pieces would I have to add to make it an American play set if we wanted to play that way?
    >3. What are the small green circles and cylinder used for in the case with the counting sticks?
    >4. Any idea what a set like this is worth today?
    >5. I believe it is bone as their are striations in the ivory colored material. Do you think it is bone?
    >Thanks for your help!
    >Sandy

    Hi, Sandy.
    Certainly it looks like a typical 1920s set made in China for export to America - see column 610. But I have misgivings about your seller's story. Some Chinese newspaper has been used to wrap up some of the scoring sticks (see FAQ 7D), and that suggests that the set has probably been in China (or was possibly owned by a family who subscribes to a Chinese-language newspaper) - and that the set has NOT been in an American closet since the 1920s. I would be curious and check the newspaper for a date (if the date is in Chinese, you can read it with help of your craks, which show the Chinese numerals 1 through 9). I'd also be curious as to where the newspaper was printed (what city). If the newspaper is of recent origin and is from a Chinese city, then I would disbelieve your seller's story.
    Read FAQ 7A and FAQ 7R.
    The functionality of wind indicators is discussed in FAQ 7D.
    I can't tell you how much your set is worth unless you give me more information. See FAQ 7H.
    Yes, I do. Read FAQs 7C and 7C2. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 4, 2015


    Question about a "Like" hand on the Marvelous card

    >from: ginny f
    >sent: thursday, december 3, 2015 2:18 pm
    >subject: marvelous mah jongg question
    >We have been playing this card for a few months. We have a question about
    >the Like hands under Even The Score & Odd's maker :
    >LI KKKK E 444 4 444 & LI KKKK E 333 3 333
    >One member says that then LI has to match either of the pungs, butnnot the single
    >Another member says the LI can be in any suit, as the parenthetical
    >states L=7, I=1, same suit; K any Kong; any same even 3 suits
    >Could you answer this question.

    Hi, Ginny.
    I do not have that card, and you didn't provide color information with your question, but I think I can answer based on the parenthetical. The following is my guess, so you should really ask Marvelous directly.
    LI - a 7 and a 1 in ANY one suit.
    KKKK - a kong of anything (if suit tiles, they can be in ANY suit)
    E - a lone East wind.
    XXX - a pung of a suit tile, in SUIT #1.
    X - a single suit tile of same number as the pung above, in SUIT #2.
    XXX - a pung of the same number as the pung and single above, in SUIT #3.
    So, no relationship whatsoever exists between the 71 and the pung-single-pung combo. That's the way I read the parenthetical, but you should really check with Kimberly Powell at Marvelous for a definitive answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 3, 2015


    Need some cleaning tips

    >From: Jim P
    >Sent: Thursday, December 3, 2015 7:51 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have my moms set from the 70's, they have yellowed. What can I clean them with?

    Hi, Jim.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read Frequently Asked Question 7-o. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 3, 2015


    Is the last discard treated completely differently from all the preceding discards? Do the rules stop holding sway when the last discard touches the table?

    >From: jean J
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 12:08 PM
    >Subject: When is the game over?
    >Hi, Tom-
    > I would appreciate your clarifying this situation for our group. As the very last tile is being named and discarded...does the game end when it touches the table or may a player call for that tile so they can maj?
    > Your books and column are great!
    > Thanks,
    > Jean J

    Hi, Jean. The game isn't over unless nobody calls the last discard for mah-jongg. To state it a second way: If nobody calls the last discard for mah-jongg, THEN the game is over and the kvetching party may begin. And a third way: There's often a brief moment of suspense when the last tile is discarded and named.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 2, 2015


    Hong Kong style strategy

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Monday, November 30, 2015 8:48 AM
    >Subject: Hong Kong style
    >Hi Tom,
    >I've been playing Hong Kong rules for a few weeks as a break from learning American, in the version I'm playing you need no minimum points to declare mahjong and the games are of four hands (except where East wins a hand, then the game doesn't rotate). I've been following guidelines from your strategy advice and found #1 most important (guess that's why it's #1), namely:
    >
    >#1. Go for the high-scoring combinations (pure, clean, and if applicable, special hands). You only need a few high-scoring hands to win the game.
    >
    >It seems that this is especially true on the first hand. If one player gets a high score on the first hand, then they can go out very quickly on low scoring hands for the rest of the game before anyone else has a chance to win back enough points. It's almost worth losing the first hand to an opponent's low score rather than trying go for a low score win yourself.
    >Or do you think I'm missing the point of your advice?
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Hi, Ray.
    That advice primarily applied to the HKOS game that Yahoo hosted way waay back 12 years ago(!), in which the players typically required a minimum score, typically 3 fan. The whole FAQ was actually originally written to answer the frequently asked question, "Can somebody explain the Yahoo mah-jongg scoring system please? What the heck is a 'fan'?" And invariably followed by, "okay, now I get the fan thing. What's a good beginner strategy for dealing with these 3-fan folks?"
    I just checked Yahoo Games, and I see that the game is gone there now. I suppose I should rewrite the introduction, which says:
    Note: This FAQ was originally written to help Yahoo mah-jongg players who were finding themselves befuddled by other players' demands that "3-fan" rules must be obeyed. Yahoo's mah-jongg game seems to be less popular now that prettier mah-jongg games can be found online, but this FAQ is still useful as a guide to HKOS, which remains a very popular mah-jongg variant. If you don't play on Yahoo, just ignore all the Yahoo references herein. In fact, I suppose a massive rewrite of the FAQ is in order! When I get time...*
    If you're interested in strategy for Hong Kong style, check FAQ 8 instead - see sections A, B, and C. Have fun, and good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 30, 2015

    *P.S. I went into FAQ 17 and made a few modifications. It still needs more modernizing.


    Is there a penalty, part 2

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Thursday, November 26, 2015 6:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sandy asked if it was acceptable to throw to four exposures. There are no hands on the 2015 card that a player could have four exposures without either having a MJ or dead hand.
    >Happy Thanksgiving!
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.
    You're right about that, but I think it's worth mentioning that the phrases "throwing to two exposures," "throwing to three exposures," and "throwing to a third exposure," etc., are not universally interpreted the same way. You know how I am about words, so here I go again...
    Some interpret "throwing to three exposures" (for instance) as meaning "there are three exposures and you throw a hot tile," while others interpret it as meaning "there are two exposures and you throw a tile which gives the player a third exposure."
    Personally, I favor the first interpretation, but since the game's governing body has no rules about such a situation, there is no official definition of the phrase describing it. There's no official penalty for throwing to three exposures nor to "a third exposure" or however you want to say it, no matter which way you interpret the phrase, so as far as I know, the League has never said what is the proper phrase.
    By the way, Bee, I could give the excuse that I was traveling (combined Thanksgiving and death in the family) for not having replied to your email sooner, but I just now found your email when I was cleaning out my junk mail folder. Don't know how it got there, but I always check its contents for strays before dumping it (and this instance shows why that's a good idea). Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 29, 2015


    Is there a penalty for throwing to four exposures?

    >From: sandy
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 12:42 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: can someone throw to a 4th exposure and if so, what is the penalty?

    The penalty is that the other players will be angry at you, if she wins on your discard. "Couldn't you tell she needed that tile?" - that's what they'll ask you, angry that they have to pay the winner. If she doesn't win, they might not be angry at you. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-Y. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2015


    The Great Mah-Jongg Raid

    >From: tooelemountains
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 25, 2015 7:40 AM
    >Subject: Police break up seniors' Mahjong game in Florida.
    >Tom,
    >Did you see on the news of the police raid on a condominium clubhouse in
    >a beach city down in Florida?
    >It was on the Drudge report on Thanksgiving day.
    >The youngest player of the foursome was 87.
    >If they get arrested there will be no living with their bragging:
    >baddest gals in the neighborhood!
    >Rob in Modesto

    Hi, Rob.
    Just now I went to drudgereport.com, and I did find a story dated today about that police raid (by the way, Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow). Very silly - some sourpuss (maybe someone who felt excluded from their game) reported them to the police. And a state or local statute explicitly permits "penny-ante games... in which the winnings of any player in a single round, hand, or game do not exceed $10 in value," and those ladies played with a $4 limit. By the way, if the photo accompanying the story depicts those ladies playing, then they're playing Chinese mah-jongg.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2015


    Civil War ancestors (and mah-jongg, too)

    >From: Valerie V
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2015 10:55 PM
    >Subject: My Great Grandfather Civil War
    >Dear Tom,
    >I was looking for Mahjong information & stumbled across your web site. I play with some gals here in our retirement community & there is certainly is a lot we don't know. I would like to thank you for your in depth information about Mahjong, especially the different types of tile sets. Our group plays with an "American" set ( I didn't know this until I read your site) & only 6 jokers are used instead of the full 8 that the Park Game Set contains.
    >I found your genealogy information about the Civil War very interesting. My Great Grandfather Melvin Grigsby was also at Andersonville & wrote a book about his experiences titled "The Smoked Yank". I read it when I was a kid & it triggered a life long interest in the Civil War, prison camps, and history. I checked through my Genealogy records but have no match to any of your names.
    >Az Grandma

    Hi, Valerie.
    Your group plays American mah-jongg with only 6 of the 8 jokers? I wonder how that works out -- seems to me the game would be harder, and that you would have more wall games that way.

    I am especially interested in your story of your great grandpa's Andersonville service. I looked up his name on the National Park Service website (formerly known as the "Civil War Soldiers and Sailors" page) and found that he was in the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry. I looked at that regiment's history and I see that it served in Arkansas and Mississippi, before going into Tennessee in late 1864. So your great grandpa's regiment never came near any of my relatives' regiments. There were a lot of men at Andersonville, of course, so it's possible but unlikely that your great grandpa might have known my great great granduncle Horton Chamberlain, who was in Andersonville from May to July of '64. I found Melvin's book "The Smoked Yank" on Amazon and I plan to buy a copy so I can read it. Thanks for writing me about him!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 25, 2015


    Column #645

    >From: Elisegk
    >Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 8:22 PM
    >Subject: nov 2015 column
    >Hi TOm,
    >Really enjoy your MJ strategy columns.
    >for your last column, last hand. I would have kept the 5D, 7D, 7D and then 6c,red and the 6b, green, hoping one of the two options would come in! (this has been one of my two top hands this card, the other being the high prob consecutive!) and then would have also kept the 9B as a backup in case 57, 79 came in. so would have passed a 2bam, 3c, 3dot!
    >Happy thanksgiving,
    >Regards,
    >Elise

    I get it, Elise. Good plan, to keep both Consec. #4 options alive while improving the Odds odds. Nice. Happy Turkey Day to you too.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 23, 2015


    Can I expose a 2015?

    >From: guesthaus1
    >Sent: Saturday, November 21, 2015 6:54 PM
    >Subject: "2015" hand
    >To mahjongg on the "2015" hands, 1,2, and 3rd, can you expose the 2015 calling the 4th tile or can you only call it for mahjongg?
    >Thank on you. Gloria

    Hello, Gloria.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-E. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 21, 2015


    This set is a little different, part 2

    >From: Susan S
    >Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 9:52 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jong Set
    >Thank you


    Is the Ebay MJ group defunct?

    >From: Diane J
    >Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 3:34 PM
    >Subject: Ebay Mah Jongg group
    >Hi Tom,
    >I really appreciate your website. Am a relatively new player and was looking at your info about making stickers…noticed your info about going to Ebay, Community, Groups, Special Interests…but I can find no “games” and nothing on the list of special interests that refers to Mah Jongg at all. Do you know if that group is no longer on the Ebay Community?
    >Thanks, DJ

    Hi, DJ. I need to remove that from the FAQ. Facebook is where it's at now. Look for "mah jongg" on FB instead of eBay.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 20, 2015


    This set is a little different than I have seen

    >From: Susan S
    >Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 11:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Set
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have a question about a Mah Jong set I recently purchased.
    >I play Mah Jong and I also sell sets when I find some interesting ones. I have been selling, various items, on a few websites.
    >So, I found this set and it is a little different than I have seen in the past.
    >The box is completely wood with leather covering. The front side opens with a push button. The drawers fit on top of each other, there are no shelves; each drawer is made with tongue and groove, no nails. I can't tell if the box is made that way because it is still very tightly together and covered with the leather. This set contains white and black tiles that measure 1" x 3/4" x 1/4".
    >The tiles have faded and I know not to clean them. There are 144 tiles plus 96 bidder sticks There are no jokers. The white "soap" dragon is actually a dragon. Usually the white dragons are blank so I find that interesting. The flowers are also different. I have included photos of the white dragon and the 8 flowers.
    >So, my questions are:
    >Do you know whose trade mark this is and what it reads and the correct spelling? I find it difficult to read. The trademark is listed inside the front flap.
    >The age if possible and the worth, so I know what price I should expect.
    >An the material of the tiles
    >I would appreciate any information that you can give me.
    >I have attached my photos and also gave your site a small donation.
    >Thanking you in advance with whatever information you are able to give me.
    >Susan S

    >From: Newsquarepa via PayPal
    >Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 10:53 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Newsquarepa
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Newsquarepa. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: -------
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Newsquarepa
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Hi, Susan. You wrote:

    The tiles have faded and I know not to clean them.
    See if you can find tips in FAQ seven oh (you can link to the FAQs above left).

    The white "soap" dragon is actually a dragon. Usually the white dragons are blank so I find that interesting.
    I guess you haven't had much dealings in American-style sets, then.

    Do you know whose trade mark this is and what it reads and the correct spelling?
    It's a Pung Chow set. The dragons are typical of Pung Chow.

    The age if possible
    Just guessing, nineteen-twenties.

    and the worth, so I know what price I should expect.
    I can't give you a value without the information requested in FAQ 7H.

    An the material of the tiles
    Plastic. Probably bakelite backs, maybe catalin fronts, or another formaldehyde-type plastic. Read FAQ 7c3 (and FAQ 7C).

    also gave your site a small donation.
    Yes, thanks.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 20, 2015


    She redeemed a joker, then exposed a set

    >From: Sally M
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 5:00 PM
    >Subject: Joker exposure after redeeming
    >Hi Tom,
    >Our Tuesday mah jongg group encountered a situation we were unsure about. I had an exposed three 6 Bams and a joker. The player to my right drew a tile from the wall. Also, she had a 6 Bam on her rack, exchanged it for my joker, and in her excitement exposed three jokers (one had been mine) and a flower. She did not need to expose anything as no tile had been taken from the discard pile. Was she dead because of an incorrect exposure? She had not yet discarded. Would it have made a difference if she had discarded? We just walked everything back, let her rerack her tiles, and continued play. Thank you so much for your help.....not just today, but for all your mah jongg wisdom.
    >Sally M

    Hi, Sally. By a strict reading of the rules, an exposure made may not be taken back (see FAQ 19-AM). If she did this in a tournament, and someone called her dead, she'd have to stop playing. But I favor what you did, letting her oopsie it back... this time.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 17, 2015


    Do you have a teacher contact in Alexandria?

    >From: Stacey Becker and Kenneth Brown
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 6:29 AM
    >Subject: Teacher
    >Hi Tom
    >I am looking for a Mah jongg teacher in the Alexandria Virginia area.
    >Do you have a contact?
    >Thanks,
    >Stacey Becker
    >kenstace at comcast.net

    Stacey, please check FAQ 4a (list of teachers by state) and the Find Players/Teachers Bulletin Board, including archived boards. I do not possess any contacts beyond those listed on the FAQ and the boards. Also see FAQ 15. There are links to the FAQs and the Find Players board above left. Good luck! - Tom


    Site was locked down for two days

    Dear readers,
    My apologies to all of you who were looking for a column on Sunday, and all of you who sent me Find Player notices over the weekend. My website migrated to a new webhost (not my choice; Yahoo migrated all its hosted sites to Aabaco), and the transition locked me out. I tried all day Sunday the 15th to update the site, and couldn't. I tried again yesterday (Monday the 16th) and I got this (I show the relevant portion in bold):

      Sorry! We're currently updating our system, and it's taking longer than anticipated. You should be able to access your Control Panel after 6:00 p.m. PT on November 16. Your website is still live, you just can't make any edits at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

    I tried at 6PM and 8PM and 10PM and was still unable to update the site. Finally, this morning, Tuesday the 17th, I was able to post updates. So if you can read this message, be assured that the site is unlocked and I can now update it again. The pent-up Find Player notices are now up, and Sunday's column is also now up (albeit a couple of days late).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 17, 2015


    Donation, part 2

    >From: Sheila
    >Sent: Monday, November 16, 2015 4:22 PM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Sheila Habib (sheilah
    >hi tom well i'll look forward to reading when it comes! xo


    Donation

    >From: Sheila H via PayPal
    >Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2015 3:25 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Sheila H (sheilaH@
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Sheila H. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Confirmation number: #####
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Sheila H
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Sheila! I've been getting Find Player notices all day, and I've had a column ready to post all day, but my web host was migrating and I haven't been able to post!
    Tom


    Sad news. The passing of Ruth Unger

    I learned yesterday of the passing of Ruth Unger, the longtime president of the National Mah Jongg League. She passed away on Tuesday Nov. 10. I met Ruth in person at the 2002 World Championship of Mahjong (the first truly global mah-jongg competition), in Tokyo. Here are some photos of her from that memorable event:

    Ruth worked tirelessly to not only promote the game, but also to contribute to charitable organizations on behalf of League members, such as:

    Act To End Violence Against Women
    Alzheimer's Association
    American Cancer Society
    American Diabetes Association
    American Foundation for AIDS Research
    American Heart association
    American Red Cross
    C.A.R.E.
    City of Hope
    Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
    Deborah Hospital
    Epilepsy Foundation
    Habitat For Humanity
    Hackensack University Medical Center
    Hadassah
    Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital
    Make A Wish Foundation
    Meals on Wheels
    Mt. Sinai Breast Center
    Muscular Dystrophy Association
    National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    Ronald McDonald House
    Salvation Army
    St. Jude's Children's Hospital
    Susan G. Komen Foundation
    Unicef
    United Way
    U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Y.W.C.A.
    and many, many others

    I have said many times before that when you buy a new NMJL card, you should buy it directly from the League so that you can be copied on the yearly newsletter, in which rule clarifications and changes are published. But an even more important reason to buy the card from the League is because then more of your money goes to help these worthy causes.
    My heart goes out to Ruth's family and friends.
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 14, 2015


    What if everybody wants to blind pass?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, November 13, 2015 6:40 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg: I tried control F and Mah Jongg, Charleston, blind pass but couldn’t find your comment about when all players only want to pass 2 tiles on last right instead of 3. You said to have the players tell the person they are passing to that they will owe them one tile and then when player gets her last right she will pass one to her right. Any way this came up in a friend’s MJ group and they all only passed each other 2 tiles. I told her I thought everyone had to pass 3 tiles and could “owe” tiles so that eventually everyone would be passed 3 tiles. Hopefully I understood your comments correctly!! I checked all my notes

    Hi Lynn,
    Not sure where your search did not turn up "blind pass" on my site, but take a look at FAQ 19-BS. (Actually, don't. It just says to read column 534).
    But please be aware that what I wrote in response to the question "what if everybody wants to blind pass" in that column is NOT the official rule. It's just what I came up with to work around what I see as a flaw in the rules (I've never seen an official ruling on this question).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 13, 2015


    What if two claim discard for mahj but first claimant goes dead?

    >From: Linda M
    >Sent: Friday, November 13, 2015 7:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Suppose you (Player A) are very close to the end of the game. Because of what is exposed on a player's rack you absolutely know that all that player (Player B) needs is, let's say, a "flower." Player (B) is to your immediate right. Let's also suppose that you (A) are working on a hand that needs another flower. Either player C or D, both of whom are to the right of player B, and to your (A) left, mistakenly throws a flower. Player B calls for the flower, and says "Mahj." As player A, who would be next in line for the flower, can I also call for the flower, say "Mahj," expose my tiles (even though I don't have "Mahj,") and deliberately make myself dead to prevent Player B from getting the Mahj. Is this good strategy, bad sportsmanship, or must the flower tile be returned and given to player B?
    >We had similar (but slightly different) situation where a player called for a tile, said "Mahj," exposed her tiles, then realized that she didn't have "Mahj." Another player (to the dead player's immediate left) wanted the tile that the now dead player had called, (not for "mahj," just for an exposure). The consensus was that she could not have the tile since it was in the dead player's dead hand, and it would now be the player to the right of the dead player's turn to draw from the wall, and continue the game. Was this correct?
    >Love your column. Thanks in advance for your answer.
    >Linda M

    Hi, Linda. You wrote:

    can I also call for the flower, say "Mahj," expose my tiles (even though I don't have "Mahj,") and deliberately make myself dead to prevent Player B from getting the Mahj.
    That won't work. Read Frequently Asked Question 19-H all the way through. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    Is this good strategy, bad sportsmanship, or...
    It's an attempt at bad sportsmanship!

    We had similar (but slightly different) situation where a player called for a tile, said "Mahj," exposed her tiles, then realized that she didn't have "Mahj." Another player (to the dead player's immediate left) wanted the tile that the now dead player had called, (not for "mahj," just for an exposure). The consensus was that she could not have the tile since it was in the dead player's dead hand, and it would now be the player to the right of the dead player's turn to draw from the wall, and continue the game. Was this correct?
    Yes. Wanting a tile for exposure is not at all the same as wanting a tile for mahj. Read FAQ 19-H all the way through. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    November 13, 2015


    Why say "same" instead of "joker"?

    >From: Julie
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 7:29 AM
    >Subject: mahjong question
    >Tom,
    >On the back of the 2015 car it states "Jokers may be discarded at any time during the game and named the same as the previous discard."
    >I have asked many seasoned players what the second part of this sentence means and have not been able to get an adequate answer. I take it that it means if the previous discard was a 3 bam and the next player throws a joker they can name the joker tile a three bam.. Why would a player want to do that? You can't pick up a joker off the table anyway so how would this play be effective? If you can pick up a joker in this situation then aren't you helping your opponents? Any further explanation would be very much appreciated by many here in our community.
    >Thank you,
    >Julie

    Hi, Julie. You wrote:

    I take it that it means if the previous discard was a 3 bam and the next player throws a joker they can name the joker tile a three bam.. Why would a player want to do that?
    You take it correctly. But consider: the alternative is to say "joker" when you discard a joker, right? Think about it - that fairly screams to all players who listen and don't look, "Hey!! I'm discarding a joker! Check it out! Look at my rack and start playing defensively against me!" Most players foolishly just listen without looking, so by not saying "joker," you're being a bit more discreet about what you're doing, and maybe avoiding scrutiny. Except, of course, for the sharp players who don't just listen. Read FAQ 19-G3. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.

    If you can pick up a joker in this situation then aren't you helping your opponents?
    I don't follow you. You are correct that a discarded joker may not be taken. But if you say "same" instead of "joker," even if someone could pick it up, then aren't you hiding the true discard from players who listen without looking?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/11, 2015


    What if I'm dealer and I have a complete hand before the Charleston?

    >From: T <molinkaln
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 3:05 AM
    >Subject: mahjong question
    >What do you win if you deal and get mahjong within the charleston?
    >Happened yesterday in my game.
    >Thanks

    Hello T <molinkaln,
    Congratulations to you and your group, and especially the player who got "Heavenly Hand." It's a very rare event! Having played mah-jongg in China, Asia, and Europe, I know how other forms of mah-jongg deal with this event, but I wasn't sure how it was handled in American mah-jongg, so I sent a self-addressed stamped envelope to Ruth Unger, the president of the National Mah Jongg League. To see what answer I got, read Frequently Asked Question 19-BJ. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    11/11/2015


    Down is Dead, right?

    >From: Chuck & Marsha S
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 10:09 PM
    >Subject: "Down is Dead"
    >Hello Tom,
    >I have checked your rule 19A about when a discarded tile is down..."when it touches the table or is completely named." Just double checking...my friend, when discarding a tile, sometimes will place the tile on the table but the tile is facing her (we can't see the name of the tile) ...and then she sometimes changes her mind and discards a different tile. Am I correct in telling her that even though we can't see the tile, it is down because it has touched the table and she cannot change her mind and discard another tile? Am I being too picky?!!?
    >Marsha

    Yes, Marsha, you are correct. And you can prove it to her. Show her the rule on page 18 of the official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy."


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    By the way, you said you read FAQ 19-A. You should also read FAQ 19-B and FAQ 19-AM.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 10, 2015


    I don't do telephone Q&A

    To the man from Florida who called me today and left a message - I don't do telephone Q&A. As it says atop this page, the price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. And it says that on the pages you had to go through to get to my phone number, too - it specifically asks people not to call me with mah-jongg questions. So I'm not returning your phone call. Please email me your mah-jongg questions if you want free answers. If you want to pay me money to get private answers, fine - say so in your voicemail.
    I hope this is understandable and acceptable, but if it isn't, well, that's just the way I roll.
    - Tom


    Heavenly Hand AND Four Jokers were dealt - which player wins?

    >From: Tan Jing Hua
    >Sent: Monday, November 9, 2015 2:47 AM
    >Subject: Four jokers and heavenly hand
    >Hi, I want to ask in 3 player mahjong, if the first player gets heavenly hand (able to win the game after starting draw) and the second or third player gets 4 jokers. Who win the game? The first player or the 4 jokers?

    Hello, Jing Hua. You apparently play a variant of Chinese mah-jongg, or another Asian variant, using special joker rules. Maybe Malaysian 3-player rules as described at http://sloperama.com/mahjongg/malaysian.htm? In the absence of printed official rules governing the exact situation you're asking about, there are two ways you could go:
    Both players win (and the non-winner must pay them both), or
    Go with the Heavenly Hand taking priority. The dealer has a full complete hand (all 14 tiles) but the other player has an incomplete hand (13 tiles) and 4 of them are jokers. Heavenly Hand is rarer, and the dealer's hand is complete, meaning this win trumps the 4-jokers win.
    You can choose either of the above (your other 2 players must agree). Another way you could look at it is: The Heavenly Hand winner is paid by the two non-dealers. Then the Four Jokers winner is paid by the other two players. Doing it this way probably amounts to the same as #1 above, but could be different based on the scoring system you use.
    Thank you for a very interesting 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
    November 9, 2015


    Is your website defunct?

    >From: Diane
    >Sent: Monday, November 9, 2015 11:12 AM
    >Subject: website
    >I only see postings up until 2012. Is your website defunct?
    >Diane

    Hi, Diane. I don't know which part of my website is giving you that impression. I assure you, I'm right here and actively posting. Here on the Mah-Jongg board, I posted just yesterday and today. And I posted yesterday over on the Game Design board. If there's something I can help you with, a game industry question or a mah-jongg question, go ahead and ask.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 9, 2015


    She had a change of heart

    >From: Judith K
    >Sent: Sunday, November 8, 2015 6:16 PM
    >Subject: MahJongg Question
    >Tom, thanks for taking my question. This is a strange one, in my opinion. A friend who plays with a different group said this happened to her. While playing she touched the next tile on the wall when it was her turn without picking it up or looking at it. She then changed her mind and decided to call the previous tile discarded. She was told by the others at her table that since she touched the wall tile she was obligated to take it. Not knowing the rule, she took it, but since has questioned her decision to comply without question. Is there a rule regarding this?
    >Judy K

    Hi, Judy.
    Not a strange question at all. The League has issued a rule on this, in the 2005, 2006, and 2012 newsletters. You probably don't have those handy, but you can read Frequently Asked Question 19-AM, where I list all of the League's "change of heart" rules. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 8, 2015


    The proper order, part 3

    >From: R J M
    >Sent: Sunday, November 8, 2015 12:32 PM
    >Subject: Re: mah jongg question
    >Thanks,Tom
    >This happened in an "Official NMJL Internet Game", so it's not quite a "friendly" game nor a tournament game. I can see it both ways. Is there a rule that covers this?

    R.J., if the software doesn't disallow it, then it's permissible. It's also permissible based on what Bee and I wrote below. Consider: maybe your player simply didn't know where the "declare a win" button was when she called the tile. She did not make a serious error.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 8, 2015


    The proper order, part 2

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Sunday, November 8, 2015 10:52 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding the Proper Order of things: It seems that if the discard and its exposure is part of the MJ, it would be valid. But I think it would make a difference if she called a discard, then redeemed a joker for a set in her hand, then called MJ. It is still her turn but since she did not have MJ before redeeming, the exposure would be a true exposure and since it is a concealed hand would be dead. Do you agree?
    >PS: We have players that never say MJ, they just expose everything, and the same people never call for a discard, they just pick it up! Yeah, it is annoying, but no matter how many times others have explained why it is important to voice both, they still don't voice it.
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee. You wrote:

    I think it would make a difference if she called a discard, then redeemed a joker for a set in her hand, then called MJ. It is still her turn but since she did not have MJ before redeeming, the exposure would be a true exposure and since it is a concealed hand would be dead. Do you agree?
    Yes. That hypothetical situation that goes well beyond R.J.'s question would indeed be a death situation.

    PS: We have players that never say MJ, they just expose everything, and the same people never call for a discard, they just pick it up! Yeah, it is annoying, but no matter how many times others have explained why it is important to voice both, they still don't voice it.
    Testify!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 8, 2015


    The proper order of things

    >From: R J M
    >Sent: Saturday, November 7, 2015 6:15 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >If a player calls to pick up a discard, then exposes, THEN calls mah jongg on a concealed hand (without play progressing), is her hand considered exposed, or is the mah jongg valid because it was still her turn?

    Hi, R.J.
    Technically, that's not the proper order of things. But in a friendly home game (as opposed to a high-stakes tournament), and especially if the player is fairly new to the game, I'd let her have the win. But I'd mention that the proper thing to do in such a case is to call mah-jongg when calling the discard.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 7, 2015


    How to defend against S&P

    >From: Deborah A
    >Sent: Saturday, November 7, 2015 4:59 AM
    >Subject: Defending Against a Concealed/S&P Hand
    >Hi Tom:
    >One of my regular playing partners likes to go for a concealed/S&P hand if she has no jokers or only one joker after the Charleston. Other than taking note of whether or not she is discarding jokers as play continues, is there anything else I can do to defend against her or to figure out which are her hot/key tiles?
    >?Thanks for your help.?
    >Deborah

    Yes, Deborah, there is something else you can do. You can pay attention to all tiles she discards (not only jokers). And you can watch her body language. See if you can detect any reaction to certain discards. Maybe she sighs a little bit when someone discards a tile she needs. Maybe she blinks when someone names a number but loses interest when the suit is named (telling you that she needs that number in a different suit). Maybe she has some kind of tell when she's getting close to mah-jongg. I played with a lady who would fidget with the wall whenever her hand was ready. Look at whole-body posture. Maybe she sits up a little straighter, or maybe she becomes impatient. These subtle cues can tell you a lot.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 7, 2015


    How do the cards differ, part 2

    Mary, I meant to mention in my previous response (below) that most players start griping about the "old" card about this time of year (when the "old" card is 6 months old). "When's the new card coming out already? I'm tired of this one." The reason for the new card each year is to keep the game "fresh." Because the card is a limited list of hands, American mah-jongg needs this "gimmick" to keep the game from becoming stale.
    - Tom


    How do the cards differ? Why not just use the same card every year?

    >From: Mary F
    >Sent: Thursday, November 5, 2015 4:10 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In American mahjong, we purchase a new card annually. How do the cards differ from year to year?
    >Do they differ in difficulty from year to year? Is a card from a particular year more comprehensive than from another year(s)?
    >Is is possible to simply purchase 4 cards for my set and use the same cards from year to year, as long as the players are playing from the same card? Instead of paying for one every year?
    >Thank you
    >Sent from my iPad
    >Mary W. F

    Hello, Mary. You asked:

    How do the cards differ from year to year?
    The card is a list of allowed hands. The next year's card is simply a different list.

    Do they differ in difficulty from year to year?
    No. Some people may think they do, but I don't.

    Is a card from a particular year more comprehensive than from another year(s)?
    Without knowing exactly how a card could be "comprehensive" in your view, I'm going to say no.

    Is is possible to simply purchase 4 cards for my set and use the same cards from year to year, as long as the players are playing from the same card? Instead of paying for one every year?
    Anything is possible except time travel to the past and the Star Trek holodeck. Your problem is going to be to find three other people who don't mind always using the same list of hands year after year after year. Good luck with that!

    Sent from my desktop PC.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 5, 2015


    Can you call a discard if you only have jokers to add to it? (Do I have to have a natural to call a discard?)

    >From: Raymond
    >Cc: cmcgraime
    >Sent: Thursday, November 5, 2015 3:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is “Can you call a tile that has been discarded if you only have jokers to add to it? For example, if you need 3 "four dots" and have two jokers in your hand, can you call a discarded “four dot?"

    Hello, Raymond.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-L. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    November 5, 2015


    RDWW erratum - and, what does "racking" mean?

    >From: "Pegnart
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 12:09 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On page 51, number 51 you write that she should bring the wall behind her rack.......Do you mean bring the tile behind her rack?Also, could you define racking? We play that touching the picked tile anyplace on your rack to make a clicking sound is racking and announces that a discard cannot be picked up. Do you have to place the tile on the sloped rack to rack ?
    >Thank you,
    >Peg from St Pete, Florida

    Hi, Peg. You asked:

    On page 51, number 51 you write that she should bring the wall behind her rack.......Do you mean bring the tile behind her rack?
    Yes. Please download the errata (on the RDWW page).

    Also, could you define racking? We play that touching the picked tile anyplace on your rack to make a clicking sound is racking and announces that a discard cannot be picked up. Do you have to place the tile on the sloped rack to rack ?
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AD. 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
    November 4, 2015


    What is a hot wall?

    >From: Diane L
    >Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 9:41 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:what is a hot wall?
    >Diane

    Hi, Diane.
    Welcome to my website. This question has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-Y & FAQ 14. If you know someone who plays "hot wall," you'll need to ask her how her rules work.
    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
    October 30, 2015


    We have no pictures

    >From: Roelof d
    >Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 1:27 PM
    >Subject: stolen mah jongg set
    >Tomster,
    >I found you by Googling mah jongg value.
    >My parents had two old mah jongg sets. One was stolen last week when their house was burgled. We would like to establish the value of it for insurance purposes. We have no pictures, so we understand that the valuation can not be very precise.
    >To answer your questions:
    >Contents:
    >1 and 2) 144 tiles, 2 or 3 blanks. 8 of circles was re-made from a blank, the rest are original, bamboo and ivory. Not any visible sign of wear.
    >No racks / sticks (we used some home-made)
    >Four little dice. No visible sign of wear.
    >No rack with seasons
    >Counting sticks - mostly ivory but some replacement of bone
    >Box - wooden tan color, with green characters, sliding front door, 5 drawers. Good condition, no water damage, no dents.
    >Instruction manual - aged but intact.
    >Nothing dirty, mildewy or smelly. All in good or very good condition.
    >3) Tiles are bamboo and ivory.
    >4) the set was purchased in the early 1920's. My dad's father brought it to Holland from the Dutch East Indies during their 1928 home leave.
    >5) We are measuring tiles from the set that was not stolen - are pretty sure they are the same size. The second set is approximately the same vintage - purchased before my father's birth in 1928. Width = .839 (5 7/8 for 7 side by side) Length 1.1875 (4.75 for 4 end to end) Thickness 1/2" at the center, crowned. 17/32" on the edges Ivory 3/16", plus 1/32 dovetail into the bamboo.
    >6) 144 tiles - 4x9 = 36 of each suit, 3 suits = 108, 4x 3 dragons, 4 x4 winds, 8 seasons = 144.
    >7) Counting sticks - 8 worth 500, 36 worth 100, 40 worth 10, 80 worth 2. Rest is listed above.
    >8) Container listed above.
    >9) Container has brass corners and handles, nothing missing.
    >10) Paper manual described above, no further detail since we don't have it any more.
    >11) Craks (we call them characters) are as shown on your website as the older style except the lines come to an end with a sharper point, and the upper character has a little bit more strokes.
    >12-14) sorry, no pictures, but these tiles were definitely fancy.
    >15) No jokers.
    >Maybe you could give us a range of value?
    >Thank you very much.
    >Rolf d
    >cell phone [deleted]

    Hello, Rolf. You wrote:

    My parents had two old mah jongg sets. One was stolen
    I'm sorry to hear that.

    We have no pictures
    One set was stolen, and one was not. You could have taken pictures of the one that was not stolen. It is VERY difficult to give an accurate valuation without pictures.

    144 tiles, 2 or 3 blanks. 8 of circles was re-made from a blank
    Instant and significant reduction in value.

    Not any visible sign of wear.
    I find it difficult to believe that a 90+ year old object shows no signs of age.

    No racks / sticks (we used some home-made)
    It was not typical for 1920s sets to have racks. The sticks not being present reduces the value.

    Four little dice. No visible sign of wear.
    No "dice coffin." Reduction in value for that.

    No rack with seasons
    I have no idea what that is, so no reduction in value for that.

    Counting sticks -
    You just told me there were no sticks. I have to value it without sticks, since you gave me contradicting information.

    mostly ivory but some replacement of bone
    I cannot simply accept your word that the sticks were made of ivory. I recommend that the insurance company regard them all as bone, since there is no proof that they were ivory.

    Box - wooden tan color, with green characters, sliding front door, 5 drawers. Good condition
    Reduction in value for the box being only "good" condition.

    Instruction manual - aged but intact.
    Not enough information. I have to regard the [untitled, unidentified] manual as being in "poor" to "good" condition only. Since I can't see the manual, I have to assume it's a common one of little value.

    Tiles are bamboo and ivory.
    I cannot accept your word for that. I have to give you a bone value, not an ivory value.

    these tiles were definitely fancy.
    I cannot accept your word for that.

    Maybe you could give us a range of value?
    Somewhere between $40 and $80.

    Good luck with the insurance company!
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 30, 2015


    Can I reverse-redeem, part 2

    >From: Paul G
    >Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 6:54 AM
    >Subject: Re: mah jongg queltion
    >I did read the FAQ before submitting my question. The q&a all seem to address redeeming jokers from exposures and dead hands. My question is the reverse. Can I redeem an exposed natural tile by replacing it with a joker that I can't use...because I need a pair.
    >Maybe I'm not seeing the answer in the midst of the explanations?
    >Thanks!

    Hi, Paul. I asked you to read Frequently Asked Question 19-AL, where it says:

      Q: Can I "reverse-redeem"? That is to say, if I have a joker in my hand can I put it in somebody's exposure and take a natural tile from that exposure?
      A: No.

    I thought that answered the question you asked?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 30, 2015


    Can I "reverse redeem" a joker?

    >From: "pgrangaard
    >Sent: Thursday, October 29, 2015 2:53 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg queltion
    >Thanks for taking time to answer my question. I'm a bit new to the game.
    >In "American" mah jongg: If you need a tile to make a pair and you have an unusable joker on your rack, can you substitute that joker for an exposed (non-joker) tile that you need that is on someone else's rack?
    >This question crossed my mind when I was in the situation needing to make a pair and I had only a joker.
    >Thanks!
    >Margot

    Hi, Margot.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AL. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 29, 2015


    The group in my new neighborhood, part 2

    >From: judyrm
    >Sent: Monday, October 26, 2015 9:39 AM
    >Subject: Re: Maj Question
    >thank you for your very quick response - glad to know you also think it's strange,
    >& yep, just have to play as they do.

    (^_^)


    The group in my new neighborhood uses strange rules

    >From: judyrm
    >Sent: Monday, October 26, 2015 8:47 AM
    >Subject: Maj Question
    >I have reviewed all the Q&A's, do believe my problem is unique --
    >I am the "newbie" in a new town, neighborhood game I have found is (to me) very strange -
    >They use the NMJW card - however, passing/exchanging tiles goes: E w/ his right, W w/ his right - then across - then E w/ his left, W w/ his left. Then only E has option to continue 2nd Charleston, and it goes E w/ his left (again), W w/ his left, .... - & E determines # of tiles in optional pass at the end.
    >I was soooo confused, but as I said, I'm the newbie & I just play their way.
    >Have you ever heard of such a Charleston ?
    >Also, they can call/expose the year - assume NEWS also, but none this year.
    > (as an aside, one of the players in this group says she has taught this method to many ladies in the area)
    >thank you for your time,
    >and I do enjoy reading your columns
    >Judy M

    Hi, Judy.
    Lucky you, as a beginner finding a group that uses such odd table rules! If they don't want to change and do things the official way, about all you can do is play their way. You can try showing them how it's supposed to be done, but people tend to resist changing practices they're comfortable with. Just know that when you play with other groups, or when you play in a tournament, you'll have to play the right way.
    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
    October 26, 2015


    A procedural question

    >From: MariAnn S
    >Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2015 11:33 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjongg
    >Sorry to bother you. Can you tell me where online I can go to get a procedural questions answered?
    >My question is, if you pick up a tile for MJ but you already had 14 tiles on your rack, can you still discard for MJ?

    Hello, MariAnn. Your question is:

    if you pick up a tile for MJ but you already had 14 tiles on your rack, can you still discard for MJ?
    No. You are dead because you are holding 15 tiles in your hand. If you play American mah-jongg, you must stop playing when you are called dead.

    If you play some other form of mah-jongg (not American), you may not declare a win; you must discard two tiles so that you have 13. Well, on second thought... I never heard of anyone discarding two tiles in a turn. You have to discard, and then maybe on your next turn discard without picking to get back to 13. You cannot declare a win after having had too many tiles in the hand.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 25, 2015


    My Crisloid set, part 4

    >From: Diane L
    >Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2015 7:16 AM
    >Subject: My Crisloid Set - Part 4
    >Thank you Tom and thank you Tony!
    >...a bit more information about my set:
    >This set has 8 "Big Jokers", and 3 bouquets of Flower tiles (12 tiles), BUT there are also 10 additional tiles which have flower graphics; however, they look nothing like the typical flower tiles I'm used to (with numbers 1 thru 4). I don' know what these extra tiles are, and that is why, I had no qualms about drilling a hole in one of them to see what was inside. I guess these tiles could be stickered for Jokers, but the set already has 8 "BIG Jokers."
    >I guess the 8 jokers would date the set to no earlier than 1971. The set is in remarkably good shape...even the case was in great shape. The only signs of aging I noticed appeared to be a slight discoloration of the plastic on the back of some of the tiles.
    >I contacted CHarli when I first bought the set but she said she had never seen a set like that. I also contacted Crisloid, but they had no additional information about this set. I recently contacted "Where the Winds Blow' but have not heard back from them yet. If I find out anything else, I will post it here. Thanks again.
    >Diane L

    Hi, Diane. I'm glad you came back to get Tony's information. You wrote:

    This set has 8 "Big Jokers", and 3 bouquets of Flower tiles (12 tiles), BUT there are also 10 additional tiles which have flower graphics; however, they look nothing like the typical flower tiles I'm used to (with numbers 1 thru 4). I don' know what these extra tiles are
    They're obviously flowers. Numbered flowers are useful only in Chinese mah-jongg, and I never heard of a Chinese variant that wanted more than 8 numbered flowers. Only American and Vietnamese mah-jongg ever called for more than 8 flowers.

    I guess the 8 jokers would date the set to no earlier than 1971.
    I agree.

    I also contacted Crisloid,
    That company still exists??? Who'd'a thunk it?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 25, 2015


    What is a "courtesy," and how does it work?

    >From: Mary T
    >Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2015 7:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: What is a "courtesy", and how many tiles can be exchanged?

    Hi, Mary.
    Welcome to my website. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question:
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19-AH. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 24, 2015


    Can I make a kong of flowers?

    >From: Janet P
    >Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2015 6:22 PM
    >Subject: Kong
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am very new to mah-jongg and would like to know if 4 flowers can make up a kong?
    >Thank you for your time and answer to question.
    >Janet

    Hi, Janet. It depends on which mah-jongg variant you play. If you play American mah-jongg, look on your card. Do you see "FFFF" anywhere on it? If you don't play American mah-jongg, the answer is no.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 24, 2015


    My Crisloid set, part 3

    >From: Tony W
    >Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2015 1:46 PM
    >Subject: Diane Laval's Crisloid Set
    >Hi Tom, further to Diane's query about her Crisloid set, I recently
    >acquired one and can confirm that the filling material for the tiles is
    >sand. The tiles are injection-moulded polystyrene in two parts; a hollow
    >base which was filled with sand, then a transparent slip, transfer printed
    >on the reverse, glued on top (see attached pic). The set comes with 6 Big
    >Jokers so that may help to date it? The use of polystyrene places it later
    >than 1950, if that is any help.
    >Best regards, Tony.

    Hi, Tony. Very interesting! I was off track about that plugged hole on the end of each tile - the face was the sand entry point, then the face applied. And yes, the 6 jokers do help date it to the late 1960s (see http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column509.htm). I hope Diane comes back to get the info you have supplied. Cheers!
    - Tom


    I called someone dead but she denied it. Should the winner be paid?

    >From: Shelly M
    >Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2015 4:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player had two exposures, three 6 cracks and four reds. I called her dead but everyone at the table disagreed.
    >We finished play and somebody won and then I showed them the hand they mistook flowers for dragons.
    >What should happen?
    >Should the player who won get paid even though it was clear that I was correct?
    >Thanks,
    >Shelly

    Hi, Shelly. You wrote:

    A player had two exposures, three 6 cracks and four reds. I called her dead
    Absolutely. There is no hand on the 2015 card that uses a kong of dragons and a pung of numbers in the same suit.

    and then I showed them the hand they mistook flowers for dragons.
    What? No dragon looks anything like a flower. I wish you'd told me exactly what hand she thought she was making.

    Should the player who won get paid even though it was clear that I was correct?
    Sure. You didn't say the player who denied being dead was the same one who won. The person who denied being dead you referred to as "a player." The person who won you referred to as "someone" (not "she who said she wasn't dead"). Obviously different people. The winner won. Pay her. As for the person who wrongly denied being dead (and you were able to prove it), read Frequently Asked Question 19-AB. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs before asking me a question.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 24, 2015


    What if three players go dead?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Friday, October 23, 2015 7:48 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Playing American Mah Jongg yesterday three players are called dead. Does the 4th player who is not dead continue drawing from the wall and adding to her hand until the tiles are all gone or until she calls Mah Jongg? The 4th player is not close to calling Mah Jongg and the dead players still have unseen tiles in their racks. Or do all the players throw in their tiles and start a new game? Is there a NMJL rule concerning this situation? If not how about a common sense rule? Couldn’t find this particular scenario in “The Red Dragon & The West Wind”. Thanks, Lynn P

    Hi, Lynn. Taking your email point by point:

    Does the 4th player who is not dead continue drawing from the wall and adding to her hand until the tiles are all gone or until she calls Mah Jongg?
    So you're suggesting one player play all by herself. What would be the point of that?

    Is there a NMJL rule concerning this situation?
    Yes, but you didn't really specify the situation. I can think of three different ways that three players can go dead:
    1. Some error occurs during the Charleston, and three players have wrong tile count after the dealer has discarded her first tile. See rule 92-e on page 60.
    2. Someone declared mah-jongg, and two players throw their tiles in, and then it's discovered that the mah-jongg declaration was erroneous. See rule 98-d on page 62. Or look at the back of the card.
    3. One player makes an error of some kind, and is called dead. Then, in an unrelated action, a second player makes an error some kind, and is called dead. Then, in an unrelated action, a third player makes an error of some kind, and is called dead. See FAQ 19-BW.
    - You didn't say which of these applies to your question.

    If not how about a common sense rule?
    It's common sense that one player can't play all by herself.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 23, 2015


    Thank you for your dedication to this site Tom. :)

    >From: HAYLEY C via PayPal
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 21, 2015 10:57 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from HAYLEY C (hayleyC)
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from HAYLEY C (hayleyC). You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: HAYLEY C
    >Message: Thank you for your dedication to this site Tom. :)
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you for your donation, Hayley! May the tiles be with you. - Tom


    My Crisloid set, part 2

    Hi, Diane. I had a second thought about your sand-filled tiles. I think it isn't sand! I think the tiles were filled with liquid that turned into foam, and that over the decades the foam degraded into sand-like crystals/granules. The small holes on the ends of the tiles are too small to insert sand.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 21, 2015


    Tell me anything about my Crisloid set

    >From: Diane L
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 6:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I recently acquired a Crisloid Mah Jongg set which may date back to the 70's. I need your help in finding out some information about this set. I hope you can help. I have asked other MJ Collectors and no one can tell me anything about this Crisloid set. It seems to be quite unique.
    >The main characteristic of this set is that the tiles are filled with what appears to be sand. I am attaching a few photos.
    >Your help is greatly appreciated.
    >Thanks,
    >Diane L

    Hi, Diane.
    I'm sorry, but (1) I don't know what you're asking ("tell me anything" is not a clear question, and asks the respondent to work harder than you at getting you the information you seek), and (2) I'm not the expert on set manufacturers. You should try Carol Ann Harper ("CHarli") and the Mahjong Museum site, and coololdgames. I have links to those sites at the bottom of FAQ 4A; you can link to the FAQs above left. Good luck!
    Oh, and I guess you must have been really curious about whether or not there was sand in your tiles - I hope the damage done to that tile was worth it to you. I have a few of those tiles. Out of curiosity, I shook one and heard the sand inside it. Upon close visual examination, I see that each of those tiles has a small hole in one end, where it appears sand was put in and then sealed - if you were going to drill a hole in one, that would have been a better place to drill (then it would be less noticeable).
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 20, 2015


    Donation

    >From: Valerie L via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, October 19, 2015 9:06 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Valerie L
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$50.00 USD from Valerie L. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $50.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Valerie L
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much for your kind and generous donation, Valerie. May the tiles be with you! - Tom


    Razzle Dazzle Ding Dong, part 2

    >From: Bob & Judith J
    >Sent: Sunday, October 18, 2015 9:24 PM
    >Subject: Ding Dong and Razzle
    >Thanks Tom for your reply. I have a copy of the Sixth printing, 1969 of MAH JONG, ANYONE? by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans and found Razzle and Ding Dong. Razzle is similar to The Goulash found in The Game of Max Robertson by Max Robertson - the way 3 tiles are exchanged. However, the 4 blank tiles are added as Wild/Joker tiles in The Goulash played in Australia; and The Goulash is played if there is no winner of a hand.
    >It seems each author had a “twist” to these optional procedures.
    >Regards
    >Judith

    Yep!


    Razzle Dazzle Ding Dong

    >From: Bob & Judith J
    >Sent: Sunday, October 18, 2015 1:26 PM
    >Subject: The Mahjong Collector - Issue 2 -p.17
    >Hi Tom,
    >On p.17 of The Mahjong Collector, Issue 2 you detail some of the differences between Wright-Patterson and Mumbai styles and the American game. Your book “The Red Dragon & The West Wind” tells how The Charleston is played. Also on p. 122 you mention The Mish” . Are these games played under NMJL rules? I can play 5 versions of Mah Jong and hope by studying your book, I will learn how to play the very popular American game one day.
    >I know how The Goulash (which is slightly different to The Charleston) is played according to British and Australian rules but can you tell me how Ding Dong & Razzle are played, please?
    >I have found reference to a Special Hand called Razzle in the Wright-Patterson Rules of 1963 p.16 – Five pairs of the same suit plus NEWS.
    >There is also mention on p.21 of a Special Hand called Mish-Mash - 4 concealed pungs and a pair in 1, 2, or 3 suits and/or honours. Last tile may be called for to make pair only. No kongs. This is similar to an Australian game called Mixed Pungs except all tiles must be taken from the wall.
    >However, I cannot find any reference to Ding Dong. Can you help, please?
    >Regards
    >Judith

    G'day, Judith. You wrote:

    Your book “The Red Dragon & The West Wind” tells how The Charleston is played. Also on p. 122 you mention The Mish” . Are these games played under NMJL rules?
    The Charleston and the Mish are not games. They're procedures used in the American game. Actually, on p.122 I refer to the Mish as a "table rule," which means it is not an official rule (it's something some people like to do outside of the rules, the way we used to put fines and stuff into the middle of the Monopoly board, and collect it if landing directly on Free Parking - a made-up rule).

    I... hope by studying your book, I will learn how to play the very popular American game one day.
    Then please ignore all "table rules" mentioned in the book, and focus only on the official rules.

    can you tell me how Ding Dong & Razzle are played, please?
    I learned those terms in the book "Mah Jong, Anyone?" by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans - this book describes your Australian/British/Western game. I first got a copy of their book in the 1990s - it was several years later that Tuttle approached me about editing and adding to their book (if you buy a recent edition of their book, it has my name on it as well as Strauser's and Evans'). According to Strauser and Evans, Razzle is another word for the Charleston.

    I cannot find any reference to Ding Dong.
    Strauser and Evans wrote: "When the Razzle has been accepted as part of the game, at the option of East a further exchange of tiles may be made. Each player may pass one tile, face down, to each of the other players. This procedure may be repeated up to three times--if East wishes." In other words, it's a table rule that bears a slight similarity to the American Mish.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 18, 2015


    WWTD?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Saturday, October 17, 2015 10:45 AM
    >Subject: what would you do?
    >Hi Tom,
    >I’m pondering a strategy question that came up yesterday.
    >I was playing hand #1 in the 2468 section. 4 dots and 6 dots exposed.
    >I was sitting with 2D2D FFFJ 8D. Someone threw a flower and I decided to call it to go for a jokerless hand.
    >One thought is that if I hadn’t, there would have been a question of which one of the three tiles I needed and Maybe someone would have thrown out the 8D (only one was on the table).
    >Several players broke up there hands and it was a wall game.
    >You are my go to Guru and would love to know you’re thinking.
    >Thanks for all you do. I continue to send my many students to your site. (MJ classes are really in demand here on Long Island!)
    >Donna

    Well, let's take a look at it visually.

    Looks to me like you were being greedy in a way that was guaranteed to end up with you not winning. Without the exposure of flowers, your exposures are ambiguous, and you have a small chance of someone throwing your tile. But with it, your hand is obvious, and nobody would throw your tile. WWTD? I wouldn't be greedy.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 17, 2015


    What's the right way, part 3

    >From: Barbara
    >Sent: Friday, October 16, 2015 9:27 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I surely appreciate all the information !! ??? yes I am deferring to her regarding play. However this one area is plagued. It is chaotic. It simply doesn't seem to go along with the rest of the activity of the game. So either she has not explained it correctly or she forgot. Now if I read you right you are saying there was never play with a future with nmjl rules? If so why did they "outlaw " playing with a future. Why did so many, many play with a future tile ? Was this some form of alien play that was accepted by mj players from the 50s, 60s like bouffant hair????? I shall continue my search to straighten this out and hope there is another dinosaur out there who remembers how they played when they teased their hair. And who reads your site. Again thanks. Bb

    >From: Barbara
    >Sent: Friday, October 16, 2015 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: ok I just read the information very carefully this time. I believe the one writer writes according to the times referring to he. It is not until recently we became less offensive by writing he/ she/ it - as you are aware.
    >Regarding holding the tile in your hand that does seem odd. I doubt that is how they played. Perhaps the writer plays mj and does not necessarily write as her main life's work. However the fact that she devoted an entire sentence to placing the tile on the table if it is not claimed is strange in view of the fact just prior she states east discards a tile. ( in my view discarding would be placing it on the table. Not holding it). As in cards the card is yours until u discard it onto the table. "A card laid is a card played ". And in checkers if u move your man/ woman/ thing, if u keep your finger on the checker you can undo your move as long as you have not removed your finger. Unless this is another of those mythical rules.
    >So I see clearly there is no future alas, my dreams will never come true. I shall muddle through the next time we meet - then I will turn them loose upon themselves. And I will go back to my class of 26 newbies and live happily ever after knowing there is no future. Bb thank you

    Hi, Barbara.
    Don't say: "there is no future" - that sounds so bleak! Rather, say: "there never was an official future rule." Because there never was. The vast majority of mah-jongg players never cracked open an official rulebook (and many don't even know there is one), and they assume that the way they were taught is "the one right and true way" to play. So I'm sure your 85-year-old truly believes to the bottom of her soul that the way she played was "the one right and true way" to play. If she can't remember the details of how the future works, I can see how that would be a problem! Maybe one of my readers has played with a group that used a future and will let us know how it worked, but that still would not be "the one right and true way" to play with a future tile.
    I liked what you wrote: "However this one area is plagued. It is chaotic. It simply doesn't seem to go along with the rest of the activity of the game." That goes hand in hand with something I read in a NMJL bulletin from 1982:

      OUR FIRST AND CARDINAL RULE. BACK OF SCORE CARD.
      No Picking Or Looking Ahead!!!!!
      Please do not make your own rules and then when these rules result in trouble, ask our opinion. Our rules are made to avoid the troubles of where ... when and how the future tile should be handled. There is no future tile ... pick and discard in turn ...

    May the tiles be with you, Barbara.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 16, 2015


    What's the right way, part 2

    >From: Barbara B
    >Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 3:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: hi oh sorry I guess I wasn't clear. My question is- does anyone know how to play with the future tile ? If so can they answer the question? I understand the future was " outlawed" by the nmjl, but obviously there are some who still play that way. I'm not asking for a ruling, but just how to get the order make sense. Thank you Bb
    >oh btw it's fine with me she wants to play with a future and the old rules. Just want clarification from some one who may know. If no one does so be it.

    Barbara, it seems that you still assume that there is a "right" way to play with a future (you seem to assume that everyone who plays with a future plays the same way). I do not make that assumption. Since it's a made-up rule that is not documented by any official organization, I assume that everybody who uses a future tile does it differently.
    You refer to "the old rules," so for the heck of it I cracked open Viola Cecil's books, "Maajh, The American Version of the Ancient Chinese Game" (1938) and "Maajh or Mah Chiang; 1940 Rules."

    Viola Cecil was the President of the NMJL at that time. She wrote on page 10:

        DRAWING AND DISCARDING

      (Players progress from right to left. Tiles are drawn from left to right.)1
      The actual play begins when all [Charleston] passes are completed. East Wind discards a tile, clearly announcing its name, if an honor, or suit and number, if a numeral. If no player wants this tile it is placed face up in the center of the table.2 The next player draws a tile from the open wall. He3 discards this tile, if he does not need it, or if he does, he discards another in its place.4 The remaining players continue to draw and discard in turn until one of the contestants announces "MAAJH," or until all of the tiles in the wall are exhausted. (Wall game.)

    1 Oddly, this is backwards from the way it is done today (and the way it is done in all forms of mah-jongg).
    2 Noteworthy that the placement of the discard on the table's surface is described as occurring only if nobody asks for it. It implies holding the unwanted tile in the air after saying its name, and waiting to see if anybody speaks up. Surely it didn't really work that way.
    3 Note that she refers to players in the masculine. In the foreword to her 1940 book, she says that the League's membership in 1940 numbered 25,000. Makes me wonder what percentage of players were male then. Nowadays, as we all know, male players comprise a small percentage (I say one percent, based on the tournaments I've attended).
    4 See? No "future tile." In 1938-1940, play proceeded the way it does in today's official rules. To see if I could find any "old rules" that mentioned using a future, I checked more books from the early days of the League.

    In 1946, Dorothy S. Meyerson was the Acting President of the League. In her book, she writes on page 14:

        Object of Game

      The object of the game is to form certain definite combinations of tiles to complete a hand. This is achieved by picking tiles from the wall, and after each pick an unwanted tile is discarded from the player's hand.

    So you see, the "right way" to use a future tile is still not described in print. In 1947, the phrase "NO LOOKING AHEAD" was printed on the official card. In 1956, the phrase "NO PICKING OR LOOKING AHEAD" was printed on the official card. So I can't help you at all. The best you can expect here is if some reader has played with a future and she wants to tell you how her group did it -- but that still wouldn't necessarily be "the right way" to use a future (since there can be no such thing). But I'm still confused about one thing. You asked:

    does anyone know how to play with the future tile ?
    Your previous message mentioned this one "woman who is 85 and ... will only play with a future tile. ... My memory is sketchy and hers is very good."  If her memory is good, then surely she remembers how her rule works. Why can't you just ask her? She is the de-facto rule-setter in your group, so all questions should be directed to her (shouldn't they?).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 15, 2015


    What's the right way to play with a future?

    >From: Barbara B
    >Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 2:04 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi. I am a mahjong teacher. I learned to play when they were still using the future tile. But have not played that way for many years. Lately a woman who is 85 and recently moved to this area wants to play mj at her senior residence. She has gotten 3 other women who also want to play. however she will only play with a future tile. I am willing to help her out with her little group.
    > My memory is sketchy and hers is very good. I am teaching the components she is teaching the method of play and it is working out well. However there is one area which doesn't seem quite right.
    > Is there anyone who knows how to play with a future so I can ask my question? Which is. If one has her future upon the rack, when her turn comes around , she wants to place the future tile into her hand. Does she put the tile Into her hand first, then pick her future then discard a tile from her hand to give her 14 tiles? Or. Does she put the future unto her hand, then Discard a tile and lastly pick her future? I know the nmjl discourages play with a future. But what can I say,she wants to play the way she has played for 60 years. Thank you for your help. Bb

    Hi, Barbara. You asked:

    Is there anyone who knows how to play with a future so I can ask my question?
    So you're saying that there's one correct, "official" way to play with a rule that is disallowed by the official rules. I doubt that that can be true. It sounds like an oxymoron to me.

    what can I say,she wants to play the way she has played for 60 years.
    Okay. I don't know what to tell you. She's the rule-setter, if the rest of you agree that she's the rule-setter.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 15, 2015


    Was I rude, part 2

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 12:11 PM
    >Subject: Thanks
    >Wow – thanks so much for the lightning fast reply! I was seated at a different table, so I don’t know all the factors that may have been involved. The issue was brought to my attention by the tournament organizer. She was seeking input from several of us who organize and/or direct local mahj events. Your book and your website are invaluable tools for us. I always have your book (and the official NMJL rule book) with me as a resource when I’m directing a tournament or a drop-in session. It's very helpful for us to have your input on this issue – since none of us had heard this particular complaint before. It wasn’t me who was accused of being rude – but it might very well have been! Glad to know that we can continue to help others build walls. It seems like the friendly thing to do.
    >Thanks again,
    >Alice

    There's no accounting for what sets some people off!
    Tom


    Was I rude?

    >From: Alice S
    >Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 11:21 AM
    >Subject: Etiquette question
    >Hi, Tom,
    >I’d love to have your help with an etiquette question. Is it rude for players to help each other build their walls? My friends and I do it all the time – and we consider it just being friendly. One of my friends is particularly fast, so as soon as she finishes building her wall, she helps the rest of us with our walls. We’re not insulted by her help. Rather, we’re very appreciative. Because we can build walls so quickly, we routinely play 5 or 6 games an hour at our weekly game. (More games. More fun!) We help each other all the time. It never occurred to me that anyone considered this to be rude behavior. But, it’s entirely possible that, along with dozens of my friends, I’ve been engaging in rude behavior without realizing it. If so, I may owe an apology to hundreds of players I’ve met over the years! I’m so sorry! The issue came up at a recent tournament when one player considered it rude when another player tried to help her build her wall. Because speed is so important in a tournament setting, I've often seen players help each other build walls at tournaments. If this is perceived as rudeness, I doubt that that was the intent. Since we hadn’t heard this complaint before, I thought I’d ask for your opinion. Do you think it's rude? Your input would be greatly appreciated!
    >Many thanks,
    >Alice

    Some people are just strange, Alice. I suppose she might be hyper-sensitive about how slowly she builds walls (maybe she's developing arthritis in her fingers and can't deal with it). Or maybe she was taught to play without rolling dice, in which case the building of walls can be a matter of honesty. I don't know what her problem is.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 15, 2015


    Thanks for your great website

    >From: Alice S via PayPal
    >Sent: Thursday, October 15, 2015 11:10 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Alice S
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$50.00 USD from Alice S. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $50.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Alice S
    >Message: Thanks for your great website!
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Alice. Wow, that's very generous of you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 15, 2015


    I could not find an answer to my question

    >From: RB
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 2:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >Hi Tom: Could not find an answer to my question of your site so am taking advantage of your kind offer to ask one.
    >I’ve been playing over 25 years and have never come across this problem.
    >A player using the 2015 card called for a South and put up 3 Souths and a joker.
    >When it was her turn again she then called for a West and put up 2 Wests and 2 jokers. There isn’t any hand like this on the present card so she was told her hand was “dead.”
    >Then one of the players said – take the Wests that you put up on the top of the rack and put them back in your hand – this way no one will try to take those jokers.
    >I was always taught that you leave those”dead” tiles on the rack even though no one can take those jokers.
    >We will be playing in a mah jongg tournament soon – using the mah jongg rules and want to know if this move – to put the tiles back in ones hand – was correct or should they be left showing on the rack even though no one can exchange the jokers.
    >Thanks. Renee

    Hi, Renee. Let me tell you how to find that answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. So first you go to FAQ 19 by clicking the FAQ 19 link above left. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. If you go to FAQ 19 and hit Control-F (assuming you're using Windows and a keyboard), then type in the keyword "dead," highlights appear on every instance of the word "dead." If you're using an iPad, you're running Safari when you view FAQ 19. You tap on the Search field in the upper right hand corner, and type in the keyword "dead." The second highlight on the page is on FAQ 19-P, which answers the question "Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack?" - You can click that question, and it jumps you straight to where you can find the answer to the question you asked.
    Another place to find the answer to your question is the official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy." It's rule 3.b. on page 16.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    You can also find it in the 2007 bulletin from the League.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    October 14, 2015


    L. L. Harr

    >From: Bob & Judith J
    >Sent: Monday, October 12, 2015 8:15 PM
    >Subject: L.L. HARR
    >Good afternoon Tom,
    >I am hoping you may be able to confirm whether L.L.HARR and L.L.HARR Jr are one and the same person.
    >Also was he an American or an Englishman.
    >Reference. Sloperama.com >1920s Books > The Laws of MAH JONG by R.F. Foster > Click here to learn more about another (later) quote from Foster > pp.169-170 where he writes that L.L. HARR was an American.
    >Then go to p. 159 of The Great Mahjong Book by Jelte Rep where it mentions that L.L. HARR was an Englishman.
    >I have a hardcover copy of PUNG CHOW The Game of a Hundred Intelligences written by L.L. HARR Jr. and published by The Schilling Press, Inc New York as well I have a softcover, red book called PUNG CHOW in Ten Munutes which is written by L.L. HARR and seems to be published by the Pung Chow Company of New York.
    >Look forward to hearing from you.
    >Judith from Down Under

    G'day, Judith. You wrote:

    I am hoping you may be able to confirm whether L.L.HARR and L.L.HARR Jr are one and the same person.
    I have not heard of this Junior of whom you speak.

    was he an American or an Englishman.
    >Reference. Sloperama.com >1920s Books > The Laws of MAH JONG by R.F. Foster > Click here to learn more about another (later) quote from Foster > pp.169-170 where he writes that L.L. HARR was an American.
    >Then go to p. 159 of The Great Mahjong Book by Jelte Rep where it mentions that L.L. HARR was an Englishman.
    If I had to choose between Foster and Rep, I'd go with Foster (he was a contemporary of Harr, and Rep is a contemporary of you and me). You might try writing to Jelte, if you can find an address, and asking him what his source is.

    I have a hardcover copy of PUNG CHOW The Game of a Hundred Intelligences written by L.L. HARR Jr. and published by The Schilling Press, Inc New York as well I have a softcover, red book called PUNG CHOW in Ten Munutes which is written by L.L. HARR and seems to be published by the Pung Chow Company of New York.
    I have a hardcover copy of "How to Play Pung Chow," 1923, published by Harper & Brothers, printed in the U.S.A. In it, there are some mentions of Europe and America, with America seeming to be Harr's primary audience (and that might mean that's his home).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg 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
    Columbus Day, 2015


    Appreciation

    >From: holly L via PayPal
    >Sent: Monday, October 12, 2015 12:22 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from holly L
    >PayPal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from holly L. You can view the transaction details online.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: holly L
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, holly L! I appreciate your donation.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 12, 2015


    Cell phone etiquette

    >From: Elizabeth R
    >Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2015 5:56 PM
    >Subject: Time for some cell phone "rules"
    >Hi Tom,
    >Love your book and you answer page!!!!
    >I know it should be common courtesy, but I'm not the only one experiencing cell phone rudeness at the table. Here's the piece I'm thinking of sending one of my groups--maybe you could add the "rule" eventually. Just saw comments on Ann Israel's blog about the same issue at http://mahjonggandme.com/tag/cell-phone/
    >Please use any or all without attribution.
    >Mah Jongg and Cell Phones
    >At movies, the theater, services, meetings, and many other places, one expects to be reminded to silence their phones. Why should the mah jongg game be any different?? So two guidelines: (1) Silence your phone during mah jongg. (2) No phones on the table.
    >The one exception might be, when you expect an important call. In this case, let other players at your table know that you might need to answer a call. Then when that call comes in, get up and go to a private area. The rest of the table may then chat until your return.
    >Same if you are playing with five players—on your turn to “hop out,” if you are not focused on the game, move to a private area to chat on the phone, play a game, etc etc.
    >Let’s agree—if you are not focused on the game, please leave the table.
    >Here are some examples I and others have experienced.
    >Person texts on their phone when it is not their turn at play.
    >Person sits at table playing a game and comments on how they are doing while others try to play mah jongg.
    >Person gets a call and chats away at the table—rest of table is held hostage to their half of the conversation. And worse—Person gets a call and shouts at the caller about what they’ve done wrong. Rest of table sits while the tirade goes on and on and on.
    >Be well,
    >Elizabeth
    >Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. —Chuang Tzu

    Very nice, Elizabeth. This reminds me that when I begin my new class Friday morning at American Jewish University, I should ask my new students if anyone has pressing or urgent matters going on in their lives. Because it frequently happens that one of my students knows someone who's gravely ill, or has a pet at the vet, and she simply must keep the phone "live." So I'm thinking of saying something like this:
    "Do any of you have an ongoing pressing or urgent matter going on in your life, such that you cannot turn your phone off?"
    Then, if someone raises her hand, I'm thinking of saying something like:
    "Okay, then you may keep your phone ringer on. But if a call comes in, could you please immediately excuse yourself and take it outside?"
    Then I'll ask if there's anyone else. To the rest I'll say:
    "Please put your phones on Airplane Mode or silent mode, or turn them off and keep in your purse. It's just for the duration of the class. Thank you very much."
    Your mention of texting between turns - wow. I never saw that. The height of inconsideration!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 11, 2015


    Oopsie in today's Column (#644)

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2015 12:27 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >OK, I'm confused on the recent strategy column #11. Why does she need a joker in the soaps to make the 2015 #4 hand? It has four soaps and no 2015 in it. All she needs are four twos and matching 1 & 5.
    >Bee

    You caught me, Bee! I thought I was being clever, but I wasn't thinking hard enough. I fixed #11, thanx 2 U!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 2, 2015


    Can a player redeem a joker before taking a discard?

    >From: HWQueen
    >Sent: Sunday, October 11, 2015 9:47 AM
    >Subject: Replacing a joker on an already exposed hand with a tile from your rack
    >Player A called for a 5BAM and exposed that tile along with two other 5BAMS and a joker. Several plays later, she called for a 3BAM. She took a 5BAM from her rack and replaced the joker, and then picked up the 3BAM and used that joker and another 3BAM from her hand for an exposure. Everyone at the table said she could not do that, but she was adamant that she could. We said that when her turn was up, it was up and she could not change any exposures that she had made several turns ago by taking a tile from her rack and using it to replace a joker and then using that joker in a new exposure. In order to keep the peace, we continued playing. Of course, I said I’d write to you to get clarification.
    >She was obviously wrong, but how could we convince her when she was extremely certain she was correct? (None of us had access to your website, or we would have looked up the rule.)
    >Thanks,
    >HW Queen

    HW, you can try printing out FAQ 19M to show her. Or you can show her the 2009 newsletter from the National Mah Jongg League (it's the first Q&A). If you don't have the 2009 newsletter, show her the 2012 newsletter. People who play this game need to keep the yearly newsletters from the League, since the League updates the rules therein. If you never get the newsletter, buy the next card directly from the League by mail order - then you're on the mailing list.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 11, 2015


    I read every word!

    >From: Tom and Jane
    >Sent: Friday, October 9, 2015 5:20 PM
    >Subject: I read every word!
    >Hi Mr. Sloper,
    >Can a player call another player dead if the other player's exposures reveal that she is playing a hand that requires a pair and that pair is dead on the table (three or four of the required tiles are down)?
    >Thank you,
    >Jane

    Hi, Jane.
    So, you've read every word of FAQ 19-AA, where it says:

      Q: Can a player call another player dead? 
      A: In American mah-jongg, there is a rather harsh rule that permits any player to call any other player's hand "dead" ... A player may make such a "death challenge" for a number of reasons:

      • No Such Hand - Blah blah blah blah
      • Unwinnable - Player's exposures indicate that player needs to make a pair, and three or more of the needed tiles are dead on the table (visible to all, either among the discards or as part of an exposure).
      • Exposed blah blah - Blah blah blah...

    Please tell me how that does not answer your question, and I'll try harder to explain.
    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
    October 9, 2015


    Can I use a joker in a 2015?

    >From: Wendy R
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 2:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can Joker be used to make the 2015 hand instead of numbers?

    Hi, Wendy. You should have read ahead to the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) to find the answer before emailing me.
    This question has been asked many times before. I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions, and you can link to them above left. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-E. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. 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 player really should have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook (and/or my book). For information about where to obtain mah-jongg books, see FAQ 3.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!

    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
    October 7, 2015


    If I have mah-jongg, do I have to discard a tile and ruin my hand?

    >From: Pat S
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 6, 2015 1:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If I exchange a tile for a joker on someone else's rack and that joker gives me mahjong can I then declare mahjong?

    Hi, Pat.
    If you have a mah-jongg hand, it would be crazy and unfair if a rule prohibited you from declaring mah-jongg! (Although I know of some variants in which that insanity can happen, but pretend I didn't say that.) The redeemed joker gives you mah-jongg. Say "mahj" and say it like you're happy! Read "Frequently Asked Question" 19-AN. You can link to the FAQs above left. 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. Then you can search the page for keywords, or you can scroll down through the list of FAQs and click the FAQ to jump to your answer. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. And every player owes it to every other person she plays with to read the official rulebook. But anyway, please always at least check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 6, 2015


    Ticket To The Twenties, 2015 (part 2)

    Day Two at the Homestead Museum in City of Industry.

    Numerous players from Day One came back to play again! And one group really wanted to learn American-style. I did have some NMJL cards, but when I teach American, I don't use the card in Lesson One (I prefer my students to have fun playing instead of trying to absorb so much complicated information). Fun was had by all - and it didn't rain!


    She doesn't do what the rulebook says. Is this correct?

    >From: Bonnie M
    >Sent: Monday, October 5, 2015 2:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Re: building the walls. The book from the national mahjong league states that the tiles are divided into 4 walls, 2 tiers high in front of each rack. After the walls are built East rolls the dice, and uses the number to count from the right to the left and then makes a break in the wall. I have played with someone who instead of dividing the tiles into equal wall has 8 tiles leftover and calls this a tail which is put in the middle of the table. There is no rolling of the dice or breaking of the wall, instead the tail is used first. Is this correct?
    >Thanks

    Hi, Bonnie.
    Do you really need to ask if it's correct?
    The book says to build 4 walls. She builds 4 walls plus a "tail." Obviously not what the rulebook says.
    The book says to roll dice to break the wall. She doesn't roll dice. Obviously not correct.
    I've played with players who use a "tail" (your player uses a different type of tail than I've ever seen before), and that custom table practice doesn't bother me. I know why people use a tail - it bothers them somehow that the wall is one tile longer than a rack.
    But not rolling dice is not only against the rules, it's also not smart - it opens the possibility of cheating. Read FAQ 19-AP and column 403.
    But now what? Did you think that when you get confirmation that her practices are not per the rulebook, that she would simply change her ways? Unlikely. You need to discuss this practice with the entire group, and get group consensus on how to conduct a deal. But mind my words - when you mention that not rolling dice makes it possible to cheat, you could become a target of anger. Tread carefully, choose your words wisely. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 5, 2015


    Why do non-discarding non-winners have to pay?

    >From: Bernice G
    >Sent: Sunday, October 4, 2015 7:25 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Why, when a player gives the winning MJ tile, do the other two players also have to pay? Why are they penalized when on some hands the tile or tiles needed are so obvious?

    Because that's the rule in the mah-jongg variant that you play. There are some variants in which only the discarder pays, but apparently you don't play one of those variants.

    I really cannot justify the existence of any particular rule in any particular variant. I was not present when the rule was decided upon, so I cannot explain the reason why a particular rule exists.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg 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
    October 4, 2015


    Ticket To The Twenties, 2015

    A couple of photos of yesterday's event (October 3). It's on again today (October 4) at the Homestead Museum in City of Industry, 3-7.


    Looking for an older post? Just click the link below! Several times a year, older postings are archived so as to keep this bulletin board lean and quicker to load. The archive goes back several years, and it's real easy to access older questions and answers!

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    CLICK HERE to go back in time and read older Mah-Jongg Q&A postings!
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