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The Mah-Jongg Q & A Bulletin Board

Welcome to the Maj Exchange Q&A Bulletin Board. Ask questions about Mahjong. You will get answers here on this board (usually the same day). You can also ask questions about hanafuda/Go-Stop.

Note: 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. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.)

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  • Can the last player be called dead with the last discard, part 2

    >From: Ted & Peggy
    >Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2008 5:47 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question
    >Part 2: What if this is in a tournament and calling her dead means she doesn't get the 10 points given to the rest of the players for a wall game?

    Hello Ted,
    In a tournament setting, there are judges. You can always ask for a judge to come to the table and rule on contested actions. I'm pretty certain that no judge will allow calling someone dead on the last discard (and maybe even not on the last 4 discards).
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 14, 2008


    Can the last player be called dead with the last discard?

    >Subject: Question
    >From: Ted & Peggy
    >Date: Saturday, September 13, 2008 11:44:27 PM
    >Hi Tom...thanks for your wonderful website! Here is my question. There are 4 tiles left in the wall. Player 4 has 2 exposures. Player 1 picks and discards. Player 2 does the same as does player 3. Player 4 picks and discards a tile that would have been needed for a pair in her hand and there are 2 of the same tiles on the table but she does not have mahjongg so discards what she feels is a safe tile. Player 3 calls her dead. Can the last player be called dead with the last discard?
    >Thanks for your input on this...
    >Maggie

    Hi Maggie, your question is:

    Can the last player be called dead with the last discard?
    What would be the point? The game is over -- in effect, all the players are dead. What's to be gained by calling one person dead when the caller is also dead? Classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, sounds like to me.

    Of course player 4 has made herself dead with her last discard. It's standard operating procedure to make yourself dead during the final plays of a wall game. In my group, we do that all the time. Players are obviously ruining their hands in the knowledge that they can't win no matter what. Why don't you scroll down and check out the discussion of "dogging" with Lana (looky.lou) on Sept. 11, below. And your player 3 should re-examine the reasons for calling someone dead. Calling someone dead has usefulness when there are picks remaining in the wall and one has a chance of winning. Otherwise what's the point?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 14, 2008


    I need some snappy Japanese mahjong dialogue, part 3

    >Subject: RE: mahjongg sentences
    >From: J**
    >Date: Saturday, September 13, 2008 8:31:20 PM
    >Hi, Tom.
    >I think the sentences you have given me are great! I didn't realize that the differences in Japanese and American mahjongg were that dramatic. After studying what you have written, I begin to understand a little better.
    >Can I ask you for some clarification about some of the dialogue examples you gave me?
    >Would I spell the word mahjongg differently (such as "mahjong" with only one "g") in reference to the Japanese game?
    >"Chii toitsu" is seven pairs of tiles held by one player?
    >Does the deal pass to the right after each hand, or does the winner of the prior game deal? Are the tiles "dealt" like cards (I have never seen a mahjongg tile)?
    >Like "ron," is "tsumo" another way of laying the winning tile?
    >What is a "characteristic" of a winning hand in Japanese mahjongg?
    >What does "dora" mean? Do I understand you right that the "ura-dora" is a multiplier of the winner's score tally, and that it remains hidden from all players until the game has concluded?
    >What do "pinfu," "tanyao," and "mangan" mean in English?
    >What's a "simple"?
    >"Chow" looks and sounds more Chinese than Japanese to me. What's a "chow"?
    >Roughly how many games of Japanese mahjongg could be played if four players were to play all night long? Do Japanese ever play with only three players, or never?
    >Thank you again, Tom. You are really helping me a lot.
    >J**

    Hello J**,
    Now that you've asked for deeper understanding, you're going to have to do some work too.

    I didn't realize that the differences in Japanese and American mahjongg were that dramatic.
    Read FAQ 2b.

    Would I spell the word mahjongg differently (such as "mahjong" with only one "g") in reference to the Japanese game?
    The Japanese say "majan." If you don't want to use that spelling, use whatever spelling you want - there is no one universally-accepted spelling of the game's name (see FAQ 6).

    "Chii toitsu" is seven pairs of tiles held by one player?
    Trust your powers of perception! (^_^) Or read FAQ 25.

    Does the deal pass to the right after each hand, or does the winner of the prior game deal?
    Neither. The winner deals only if the winner happened to be the previous dealer (otherwise the deal passes to the right).

    Are the tiles "dealt" like cards
    No. Read FAQ 10.

    (I have never seen a mahjongg tile)?
    See photos in FAQ 7a.

    Like "ron," is "tsumo" another way of laying the winning tile?
    Your powers of perception have led you in the correct general direction, but no. Ron and tsumo refer to the two possible ways of acquiring the winning tile. Read FAQ 6 and search the page for these terms.

    What does "dora" mean?
    It's a doubler of the player's score. I'm not going to explain it in detail for you here. See if it's explained in FAQ 25 or use one of the links in FAQ 4b to get more detail.

    Do I understand you right that the "ura-dora" is a multiplier of the winner's score tally, and that it remains hidden from all players until the game has concluded?
    Yes, you have very good powers of perception.

    What do "pinfu," "tanyao," and "mangan" mean in English?
    The first two are already translated below. The last one doesn't have an English equivalent.

    What's a "simple"?
    Suit tiles numbered 2 through 8 (the 1 and 9 are called "terminals").

    "Chow" looks and sounds more Chinese than Japanese to me.
    Yes, that word is Chinese. The Japanese say chi ("chee") when chowing, but when I use it in a sentence I prefer the word "chow" (I don't say "the Japanese say chi when chiing").

    What's a "chow"?
    Look it up in FAQ 10.

    Roughly how many games of Japanese mahjongg could be played if four players were to play all night long?
    Roughly one hour per game.

    Do Japanese ever play with only three players, or never?
    FAQ 13c.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 14, 2008


    Please appraise my Pyralin set

    >Subject: Fw: Maj Jongg apprasial please
    >From: Frank
    >Date: Saturday, September 13, 2008 2:30:43 PM
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >I am seeking a appraisal of my Mah-Jongg set, that I have had for 26 years. I attempted to be as detailed and objective as I could using your recommended valuation recommendations. Here is that information.
    >1. Contents: 144 Tiles including: 1-9 circles 4 each; 1-9 characters 4 each; 1-9 bamboo 4 each (4 of the #1 tiles have a picture of a bird); 1-4 flowers 2 each; N, S,E, W winds 4 each; 8 dragons, 4 with a "C" on the tile and 4 blank tiles with a "P" on them, Four wind discs and a cylindrical container; pair of dice;
    >Scoring sticks including 29 sticks with 1 dot (25 are tan and 4 are of a white color), 38 sticks with 2 dots (36 are tan and 2 are a white color), 16 sticks with 5 dots on them (all tan color) and 32 sticks with 6 dots on them (all are a tan color); a 4 racks (1 red and 3 black and an additional 4 smaller racks (1 red and 3 black) and one 1923 book "The Ancient Game of the Mandarins" by Piroxloid Products Corp. (See photos)
    >2. Condition: Tiles, disk/container, dice and sticks: Excellent (only fine scratches on the bottom from table sliding and not well noticeable); box and drawers: good to very good ( some scratches on the box and the brass handle plate is noticeably worn; racks: good ( wear, one has a chip and scoring sheet on the bottom of the racks are aged with some writing on a few and one of the small rack has some of the paper scoring sheet on the bottom torn and missing);and book: very good(no tears, some bends in the corner on the cover and pencil writing on the back cover. (See Photos)
    >3. I suspect the tiles and other pieces are made from Pyralin. The container is a unknown hardwood with a dark brown stain. The wood grain is mostly straight across and it is not oak.
    >4. I don't know where or when this set was made. I purchased it at an auction in Bangor, Maine in 1986.
    >5. Dimensions of the tiles are: Height=1 ¼, Width=7/8" and thickness=3/8"
    >6. This is a 144 tile set. See #1 for complete breakdown. I did my best on the identification. (See photos)
    >7. See #1.
    >8. Container. Rectangle box with a sliding front lid and 5 drawers. Dimensions are: Length 9 1/8", Width 6 5/8" and Height 5 1/16".
    >9.Container condition: See #2.
    >10. Paper: Manual-See #1. and #2 for the condition of the manual.
    >11. Kind of craks: Older set.
    >12, 13 and 14: I've included a photo of these.
    >15. I don't believe there are any jokers in this set.
    >16. Photos attached.
    >Thank you,
    >Frank

    Hi Frank,

    I agree with you that your tiles are celluloid (a plastic also known as French ivory or Pyralin). And they're made with solid (fairly thick) celluloid, which is comparatively rare.
    The box is somewhat unusual, in that the craftsmanship and materials are of better quality than what one usually sees.
    The inclusion of the booklet cinches that the set is a Piroxloid set (Pyralin perhaps being a trade name of Piroxloid).
    The major pieces seem to be all there, but I note that there aren't any extra blanks. Perhaps Pyralin was too expensive to permit that, I don't know.
    But the sticks (minor pieces) are not all present. The sticks ought to exist in multiples of fours, so some have been lost.
    You didn't mention whether the racks fit in the box. I presume they do not, and must be stored separately. The racks probably did not come as part of the set, and were purchased separately.

    My assessment is that this set is more valuable than most that we see here on this bulletin board. But I can't say precisely how much it's worth. Only an auction sale can determine that, as a post-facto fait accompli. My guess is that it would go for $200-400, somewhere in that range.

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 13, 2008


    NEW FEATURE! Now you can read old posts going back to late 2007!
    Just scroll down, enjoying reading progressively older Q&A posts as you normally would... then click the link at the bottom of the page to see even older Q&A posts!

    I need some snappy Japanese mahjong dialogue, part 2

    >From: J**
    >Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 10:42 AM
    >Subject: RE: mahjongg sentences
    >Dear Tom,
    >Many thanks for your prompt reply. I followed the instructions on your website, and read your answers to my question. I certainly appreciate the time and trouble you took. However, despite the fact that my story is set in Japan, I write in English. Can I ask you to give me some mahjongg-related sentences that might be said at American game of mahjongg please?
    > (I would be delighted if my story one day gets translated from English into Japanese for publication in Japan, but for now I am must concentrate on the English.)
    >Very gratefully,
    >J**

    Hi J**, I already gave you the English before, insofar as I was able. Not all Japanese mahjong terms have English equivalents.

    "Reach!"
    "Dangerous!"
    "I win!"
    "Riichi, all chows, all simples... ura dora. Mangan. Eight thousand."
    "I wouldn't have thrown that red dragon. It was dora."
    "Yeah, well, I almost had Seven Pairs. I couldn't use three of them."
    "Your deal."
    "Wow!"

    Note: young men in Japan do not play American mah-jongg. Young men anywhere do not play American mah-jongg.

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 11, 2008


    I need some snappy Japanese mahjong dialogue for a story I'm writing

    >From: J** *****
    >Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:00 AM
    >Subject: mahjongg sentences
    >Dear Tom,
    >My name is J** *****. I am writing a ficition story that involves mahjongg, however I have never played mahjongg.
    >
    >I would like to ask for your help, Tom. I do not have the time to study the rules of mahjongg, and to learn the game as you have. What I am seeking is merely to include some dialogue in my story to make one particular scene more realistic. My story is set in Japan, where I know mahjongg is also popular, though the rules may differ slightly from U.S. rules. In my story I have four young Japanese men playing mahjongg together. They are drinking, and gambling on the points scored. They are playing mahjongg all night long.
    >
    >The help I would like to ask you for, Tom, is that you email me some random sentences that pertain to mahjongg and what someone might say during an ordinary game of mahjongg. Just typical sentences that relate to the game. Anything you can think of, Tom.
    >
    >Bearing in mind that I have not played any sort of games since I was young, I do not know well what I am talking about with the following sentences, but let me give you some examples of the kind of sentences I am looking for (by giving you some sentences from games that I vaguely remember playing). Again, these are just examples:
    >
    >"Fifteen two, fifteen four, fifteen six, and a pair is eight!" (Cribbage?)
    >"I've got a full house, aces over sevens." (Poker?)
    >"I'm calling your bluff. Show me your cards." (Poker?)
    >"Either you've got another spade in your hand, or this jackpot is all mine!" (???)
    >"Who's calling trump?" (Pinochle?)
    >"Renege! Subtract the bid from your score." (Pinochle?)
    >"Hit me! Rats, I'm busted! Will you show me your hole card?" (Blackjack?)
    >"I'm going to double down." (Blackjack?)
    >"I'm knocking." (Gin rummy?)
    >
    >I think you can do this for me in five or ten minutes, Tom. Nothing complicated, just some basic sentence that someone might say during a game of mahjongg. Sentences about melding, or the tiles, or the scoring . . . whatever you like. If you can come up with about six or eight of these sentences, that would enable me to pick out a few of them and work them into the dialogue of my ficitional story. Do you understand?
    >
    >(I really hope that you will not refer me to someone's book or to a website on the Internet, because I do not need all of that. And it would take a great deal of time for me to try to learn it all, without having any assurance that what I then write in my story would be accurate. The story I am writing is only a short story, and mahjongg only factors in to one scene of the story.)
    >
    >Thank you very much for sharing your expertise with me, Tom.
    >Kind regards,
    >J**

    Hi J**,
    Sure, no problem. This is easier than other fiction writer requests I've received. Try some of these:

    "Riichi!" ("Reach!")
    "Abunai!" ("Dangerous!")
    "Ron!" ("I win!")
    "Riichi, pinfu, tanyao... ura dora. Mangan."
    "I wouldn't have thrown that chun. It was dora."
    "Yeah, well, I almost had chii toitsu. I couldn't use three of them." (Seven pairs.)
    "Oya desu." ("Your deal.")
    "Tsuyoi!" ("Strong!")

    And I think it's useful for you to know the context of the above.

    Player has reached the state of waiting for just one tile to win the hand, and places a 1,000-point chip to seal the bet that he'll win.
    A player has discarded a dangerous tile, and another player reacts.
    The speaker wins on a tile discarded by another player.
    The winner counts out the characteristics of his winning hand, starting with the little finger, and lifting the dora indicator from the wall to look at the tile beneath it before saying "ura dora" ("under-dora").
    A player discusses the dangerous discard from earlier. Chun is the red dragon tile. The dora tile doubles the winner's score, and three of a kind of the dora tile would multiply the winner's score by eight (double double double).
    The player explains why he threw the red dragon.
    A player gestures to the player at the right of the previous dealer to remind him that he has to stop talking and do something.
    A player comments on another player's strong play.

    Hope those help, J**.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 11, 2008


    What does "dogging" mean?

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: (Lana) looky.lou
    >Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:32:55 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Dear Tomster (as per your older persona):
    >I was asked recently what "dogging" means while playing mahjongg so after researching online I found this quote from your old FAQ #19 posted 1/11/05 "MORE About Commonly Misunderstood Rules."
    >
    >Some tournament judges require players to pause a beat before picking. A player who pauses a beat, THEN uses pickandrack, not only reduces her chances of having to put back a seen tile but also gives the other players time to call a discard. It's considerate and does not significantly slow the game down. As for me, I can usually tell if my picked tile is a joker or not the instant I pick it from the rack - most players' sets have stickered jokers, or the joker design varies significantly from the other tile designs, and my thumb (on the face of the picked tile) can often feel this difference. I usually wait a beat before picking, and if my thumb tells me I've got a joker, I rack it rapidly (unless it's near the end and I'm dogging anyway)."
    >
    >Please explain dogging. Am I'm wrong in thinking that it means playing out a hand knowing you can't mahjongg so you try to make sure no one else can (which is how I play)?
    >I'm going to be drilled on this subject at next week's game.
    >Lana

    Hello Looky (since we're on a nickname basis), you wrote:

    Am I'm wrong in thinking that it means playing out a hand knowing you can't mahjongg
    No. You're not wrong.

    Besides that mention in FAQ 19, I also mentioned dogging in FAQ 9, in the discussion of "Sliding Dealer's Wall Left," and why it's a bad practice.

    And in my book, I mention dogging on page 91, in the context of discarding jokers. And in the glossary of my book, I define dogging as "The practice of discarding wanted tiles intentionally, usually near the end of a hand, in order to play defensively and prevent another player from winning." A synonymous term is "breaking up the hand."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 11, 2008


    Assuming it is from the 20's, roughly how much is it worth?

    >From: charlin9
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 11:50 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong set
    >>I have a 144 square wooden tiled set which is complete except it does not have all the sticks. The crack style is 1920's. It has 8 flowers and 4 birds with 1 on them. There are 4 sets of tiles with the chinese for north, south, east and west on them. It has a wooden almost square box with a sliding top. The top has a dragon on it and the chinese words for pacific (tai-yiang). There are wood-burned dragon scales on the sides of the box, inside and out. Everything is in very good condition except for 2-3 sticks, where the dots have worn off on one end. There are 4 tiles with an "F" and the chinese word 'fa' (emit?) on them. Assuming it is from the 20's, roughly how much is it worth? Thank-you. Charlotte

    Hi Charlotte,
    You haven't given me enough information. Please read the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). In particular, check Frequently Asked Question #7. And give me the information requested in FAQ 7h. If you give me enough information, I can estimate a rough value for your set. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 10, 2008


    Are there 2-player rules?

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: "Michnasnowbird
    >Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:22:26 AM
    >Are there rules for 2 handed mah jongg? Thanks

    Hi Mich,
    There is a lot of information about mah-jongg right here on this website.

    Almost all the time, you can find the answer yourself in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). Please scroll up and look at the left.

    See where it says "The Mah-Jongg FAQs"? Please click that. Then please bookmark the page for your future reference. Then please take a few moments to look through all the subjects listed there, to familiarize yourself with the breadth of the information available.

    Whenever you have any question about mah-jongg, please always look in the FAQs before emailing your question. If you don't find the answer, then email your question.

    I love answering questions, really I do. But whenever someone asks something that's already been answered in the FAQs, I just tell'em where their question is answered, and that's less fun for me. It's also more fun (and satisfying) for you, if you can simply find the information yourself, without having to ask and then wait to be told where to find it.

    In this case, you have asked Frequently Asked Question #13. So scroll up, click the FAQ 13 link, and find the answer to your 2-player question.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 10, 2008


    Can you call a discarded tile for mahjong when playing a concealed hand?

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Meri"
    >Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 8:05:59 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you call a discarded tile for mahjong when playing a concealed hand?

    Yes. Read FAQ 19AQ.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 10, 2008


    Those confusing joker rules! (FAQ 19N)

    >From: helens397
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 6:12 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >In an exposed kong, can one player replace two jokers with two flowers on the same turn?
    >--Helen

    Hi Helen,
    This is Frequently Asked Question #19N. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left. Click FAQ 19. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to this question. If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know how I can improve the wording for future askers of this same question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 9, 2008


    Do I have to have a natural to call for exposure? (FAQ 19L)

    >From: "Michnasnowbird
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 2:24:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Can a tile be picked up if you are using two jokers from your hand?

    Frequently Asked Question #19L.
    http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.htm
    Please bookmark the page for your future reference.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 9, 2008


    Just wondering if you know of a site where MJ fanatics can play on-line (FAQ #5)

    >Subject: Online MJ
    >From: Kathy L
    >Date: Monday, September 8, 2008 6:19:45 PM
    >Hi Tom,
    >Just wondering if you know of a site where MJ fanatics can play on-line. I play Chinese style with Hong Kong scoring.
    >Thanks!
    >Kathy L
    >Denver, CO

    Frequently Asked Question #5, Kathy. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 8, 2008


    Change of Heart (Frequently Asked Question #19AM)

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Michelle B
    >Date: Monday, September 8, 2008 4:37:19 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player calls a discarded tile and exposes it, can that player change her mind prior to discarding a tile
    >Thank you
    >Michelle

    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19AM. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left. Click FAQ 19. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to this question. If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know how I can improve the wording for future askers of this same question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 8, 2008


    Three went dead. What now?

    >From: blinb
    >Sent: Sunday, September 07, 2008 10:38 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg rules question
    >Hello,
    >My group had an interesting problem occur last week. We had 4 players. Three were eventually declared dead. Does the fourth, who was still alive, keep picking from the wall and redeeming from the others' exposures until she wins, or until there are no tiles left and it becomes a wall game? Or does the game stop entirely and we begin over again with no winner? We couldn't come up with a resolution, so we stopped, mixed the tiles and started over again. What would you have recommended?
    >Thank you.
    >Linda

    Hi Linda,
    It kinda helps if you tell me which kind of mah-jongg you play. I'm going to assume you're talking about American rules.

    It also helps if you provide information about how the players went dead. But we've got a situation here where one player is alive. It doesn't make any sense for her to play on by herself, so the game does have to stop. The question is whether or not somebody ought to pay the surviving player - and that would depend on the circumstances. Since I don't know the circumstances, all I can say is that yes, you did it the right way, stopping the game and dealing anew.

    But there was something else you said: "and redeeming from the others' exposures." Depending on how a player goes dead, she may or may not have exposures. Read FAQ 19P. The FAQs are above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 7, 2008


    Can you point me to information about fortune telling with hwa-tu / hanafuda flower cards?

    >From: E. H
    >Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2008 11:51 PM
    >Subject: go-stop fortune telling?
    >Howdy,
    >i just rediscovered my go-stop cards and remember someone in Korea teaching me the game.
    >I also remember a Korean woman teaching me how to tell fortunes with the cards while we were in college in Boston.
    >Can you point me to the directions/rules for fortune telling with the Korean/Japanese cards?
    >-Erik

    Hi Erik,
    If I knew of such information, I'd've linked to it in my hanafuda Links page (http://www.sloperama.com/hanafuda/links.htm).

    But hey, how's your Hangul? I went on Babelfish and typed in "fortune-telling" and got 운 말. And the Hangul for go-stop is 고스톱. So if you go on Google.co.kr and search for 고스톱 운 말 you might find some information. Probably more likely to find it in Korean than English. Good luck!

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 7, 2008


    How much should I ask for my racks and sticks?

    >From: Allyndreth
    >Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2008 9:56 AM
    >Subject: Cowen's Racks & sticks valuation
    >Dear Sir or Madam,
    >I have inherited 4 Cowen's Rack #402 and 1 #411555 plus coins. Also I
    >have two sets of sticks - one certainly bone, the other either very
    >well and lovingly carved bone or ivory - definitely higher quality but
    >I do not have a bright enough light to see any cross hatchings in the
    >material.
    >The racks are in good condition (heavily used and some of the paper is peeling up). How would I find someone to give me
    >an idea as to how much to price them for sale? I cannot find any on
    >the internet to compare prices.
    >Thank you,
    >Allyndreth

    Dear Sir or Madam Allyndreth, you wrote:

    I have inherited 4 Cowen's Rack #402 and 1 #411555 plus coins. Also I
    >have two sets of sticks
    Yes, the items you posted in the Accessories For Sale BB last night.

    one certainly bone, the other either very
    >well and lovingly carved bone or ivory - definitely higher quality but
    >I do not have a bright enough light to see any cross hatchings in the
    >material.
    The chances of it being ivory is extremely slim. Try sunlight if you don't have bright enough lamps.

    The racks are in good condition (heavily used and some of the paper is peeling up).
    Judging by your photos, "good" is the wrong condition grade. See the condition grading I cited in FAQ 7h:

      FAIR - Item is utilitarian but not attractive. All defects must be noted.
      GOOD - Item is worn but reasonably attractive; any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them. All defects must be noted.

    In my opinion, your racks are "fair," not "good."

    How would I find someone to give me
    >an idea as to how much to price them for sale? I cannot find any on
    >the internet to compare prices.
    On eBay, I've bought such racks (in better condition) and I've bought sticks -- but it's been a long time and I don't remember how much I paid. I think if you could get $25-30 for the lot, you'd be doing well. Just a guess. Why don't you just sell them on eBay -- whatever they wind up going for at auction's end, that's how much they're worth. The best place to sell these on eBay would be Toys & Hobbies:Games:Board & Traditional Games:Mah Jong:Pre-1970.

    May a fair price be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 6, 2008


    Confused about death payment

    >From: Mary
    >Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 11:10 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Great Site I have learned a lot. I have both your book and Elaine Sandberg's book and I am still not clear on the rules surrounding payment for having your hand called dead. First, when there is a challenge, does money only change hands when it is a disputed challenge and settled at the end of the hand? or is there immediate payment if it is a valid challenge and so acknowledged. Second I'm confused about the amount; Sandberg states that "you pay the challenger the amount your hand is worth as listed in the Values column on the card." You state that "the challenged pays the challenger the value of the lowest-scoring hand on the card". Thank you for your help in sorting this out for me. Mary

    Hi Mary,
    I'm so glad you have my book! You wrote:

    when there is a challenge, does money only change hands when it is a disputed challenge and settled at the end of the hand?
    Yes. As I wrote in FAQ 19AA (above left), the response to the death challenge involves payment if the death challenge is denied. As I described it in the FAQ and in the book, I mention payments only in the context of a denied death challenge, for the simple reason that there is no payment when the death challenge is not denied.

    Second I'm confused about the amount; Sandberg states that "you pay the challenger the amount your hand is worth as listed in the Values column on the card." You state that "the challenged pays the challenger the value of the lowest-scoring hand on the card".
    So you're asking me who's right: me or Sandberg. Me, of course! (^_^) I based my answer on the official NMJL rules, as stated in the 2001 and 2005 bulletins. The only real way to know for sure, in the face of conflicting information, is to send the question with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the League.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 4, 2008


    I'm 100% sure it's ivory. How much is it worth?

    >From: brjon764
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 03, 2008 12:16 PM
    >Subject: Ivory Mah jong set
    >Dear Tom,
    >After careful review of your information regarding real ivory tiles I have determined that I have a set. No Haversian system, Yes to pearlescence, Yes to cross hatching. I have reference ivory (100% sure) and the appearence is identical. The tiles are solid (not wood/bamboo backed) and are still sealed in cellophane. The set is complete (tiles, counting sticks, dice and some button type things. Please let me stress that I am not a wishful thinker about these tiles! I have some history regarding them and would appreciate any information about the value of a real ivory mah jong set. Photos at your request.
    >Thank you,
    >Brian

    Hi Brian, your question is:

    I would appreciate any information about the value of a real ivory mah jong set.
    Read FAQ 7h.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 3, 2008


    Explain Optional Charleston.

    >From: Jean
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 8:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Explain Optional Charleston. Can one player do optional, who dcides?

    Hi Jean,
    Please read Frequently Asked Question #19AG, to see my explanation of the Charleston in full.
    Scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left.
    Click FAQ 19.
    Bookmark the page for your future reference.
    Scroll down and find the answer to this question. If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know which part is unclear so I can improve it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 2, 2008


    Your opinion regarding the value of this set? (continued)

    >From: todd
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 5:15 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg valuation?
    >Hi Tom.
    >Thanks for your answer to my question regarding valuation of Parker Brothers Mah-Jongg set. Is it possible to remove my name, or at least last name from the post? I didn't realize the entire email details would end up on the site.
    >Thanks!
    >Todd

    >From: todd
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 5:23 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg valuation?
    >Hi Tom.
    >Attached is a link to a picture of Tuxedo set by Parker Bros., vintage 1923. Tiles appear to be identical to the ones in my set. Wrapping is also the same - sort of a crinkly plastic. The disks in my set are not poker chips, but are much smaller (dime-sized) with a hole through the center. Any other resource you might recommend to run this by?
    >Thanks!

    >From: todd
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 5:23 PM
    >Subject: Sorry! Here's the link!
    >http://www.mahjongmuseum.com/mj115.htm

    Hi Todd,
    Interestingly, Jim May's Tuxedo set does appear to have Bakelite/catalin tiles (with original crinklewrap) yet CHarli's Tuxedo set is identical to my own Tuxedo set - celluloid-faced tiles. That difference makes me wonder what exactly the specifications are for a set to be qualified as a Tuxedo.

    As for your chips, I think it's odd that the set includes both sticks and chips. But according to CHarli, a set back then could have been customized at time of purchase. In my opinion, round chips weren't exactly standard in the 1920s.

    As for other resources, I already told you in my previous post about Jim May and CHarli. You can find links to their sites near the bottom of FAQ 4a. You've already found Jim's site. CHarli's is very well worthwhile.

    As for your original question, I still don't have enough information from you to give you a valuation (see FAQ 7g), but since Jim suggests that Parker Bros. sets did include Bakelite/catalin tiles, and he also backs you up on the matter of the clear wrap, your set could well be worth twice as much as what I said before.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 2, 2008


    Your opinion regarding the value of this set?

    >From: todd
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 11:10 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg valuation?
    >Hi Tom.
    >I saw your Mah-Jongg website, and have a question about the value of a set that I have. Your site said to email you with photos and description. I hope this is what you intended. I have attached photos and a Word doc with a description of the set. It is a Parker Brothers Mah-Jongg set, possibly the Newport set?
    >Would it be possible to have your opinion regarding the value of this set? Please let me know if you need any more info, or need this info in a different format.
    >Thanks,
    >Todd
    >
    >Parker Brothers Mah-Jongg set.
    >
    >I have seen this set described as a Parker Brothers Newport set, though not sure if that is accurate.
    >
    >It is in a wooden case with a front panel that slides up to reveal 5 drawers.
    >
    >It comes with a red booklet entitled, Rules for Mah-Jongg, copyright 1920 by J.P. Babcock, copyright 1923 by Parker Brothers.
    >
    >There are 4 drawers of 35 tiles (Bakelite?) each (see photo). These seem to be complete, except that one West tile is missing.
    >
    >I am unfamiliar with Mah-Jongg, but I think the white dragon tiles in this set are blank, as there are 5 blank tiles included, and I see 4 red and 4 green charactered tiles, which are I believe the red and green dragon tiles.
    >
    >There are no Joker tiles, but there are 4 wood tiles with celluloid tops (fine parallel lines lengthwise), and an extra circle 4 Bakelite tile.
    >
    >So, 145 Bakelite tiles, plus 4 wood/celluloid tiles. One drawer of tiles is still in original plastic packaging, the rest are not.
    >
    >There are 2 dice, which seem to be made of Bakelite, and 12 green, 20 blue, 39 red and 32 white disks (Catalin?). The blue and white disks are still in original packaging. The red and green disks are in original packaging, but the end has been opened.
    >
    >There are two bundles of numbered sticks (counters?), made of what appears to me to be Celluloid. There are 40 pieces marked with a 2, 32 marked with a 10, 36 marked with 100, and 8 marked with 500.
    >
    >Case is in good shape. No damage, but has been handled and has some light scratches.

    Hello Todd, you wrote:

    I have seen this set described as a Parker Brothers Newport set, though not sure if that is accurate.
    I'm not an expert on particular branded sets, sorry. Jim May and CHarli know more about that sort of thing. Just now looking on CHarli's site, I see that her Newport set is bone and bamboo (or possibly celluloid), not Bakelite/Catalin. So, no. It's not a Newport.

    It comes with a red booklet entitled, Rules for Mah-Jongg, copyright 1920 by J.P. Babcock, copyright 1923 by Parker Brothers.
    You didn't say what condition it's in. Did you read FAQ 7g?

    There are 4 drawers of 35 tiles (Bakelite?) each (see photo).
    You're making me do math? What's that, 140 tiles total?

    These seem to be complete, except that one West tile is missing.
    "Complete except one is missing"? (^_^) I don't think the word "complete" should be used here. Best if we deal in numbers. Is it 140 or is it 139?

    I am unfamiliar with Mah-Jongg, but I think the white dragon tiles in this set are blank, as there are 5 blank tiles included, and I see 4 red and 4 green charactered tiles, which are I believe the red and green dragon tiles.
    Please read FAQs 7c & 7e.

    There are no Joker tiles, but there are 4 wood tiles with celluloid tops (fine parallel lines lengthwise), and an extra circle 4 Bakelite tile.
    >So, 145 Bakelite tiles, plus 4 wood/celluloid tiles.
    Okay. 145 plus 4. Glad we got that straightened out.

    One drawer of tiles is still in original plastic packaging, the rest are not.
    I've never seen plastic wrap from the 1920s. Is it extremely fragile? Doesn't look yellowed at all...
    And come to think of it, I haven't seen any Bakelite sets from the 1920s before.

    There are 2 dice, which seem to be made of Bakelite
    No. Too white to be Bakelite. See FAQs 7c & 7c3. The dice look larger than what normally came with 1920s sets. May not be original.

    and 12 green, 20 blue, 39 red and 32 white disks (Catalin?).
    Those look like regular poker chips to me - not original to the set.

    The blue and white disks are still in original packaging. The red and green disks are in original packaging, but the end has been opened.
    That clear plastic wrap is not 1920s vintage, and the chips probably aren't either.

    There are two bundles of numbered sticks (counters?), made of what appears to me to be Celluloid. There are 40 pieces marked with a 2, 32 marked with a 10, 36 marked with 100, and 8 marked with 500.
    Good, those are all there (I call them "sticks," see FAQ 7d) - and that tissue might be original 1920s tissue, if it's fragile and crumbling at the edges.

    your opinion regarding the value of this set?
    Hard to tell, since you didn't give me all the information I ask for in FAQ 7g. Looks to be a Frankensteined set, with one missing tile and several discolored tiles. I don't think those tiles belong with that case, either. There's no jongg, and 1920s dice usually came in threes or fours, in a little coffin-shaped box. Maybe $60 to $80, give or take. The box, the sticks, and the booklet appear to be the best assets of the set.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 2, 2008


    Are they Bakelite? What's the deal with the NEWS flowers? How old is it?

    >From: Peter
    >Sent: Monday, September 01, 2008 3:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question is:
    >Hi Tom
    >Apologies if these are new boy questions.
    >Attached is a picture of some tiles from a set I bought at auction in the UK today (for around $50). They were sold as ‘Plastic' but I thought they looked like Bakelite, now that they have arrived they look much darker than all the pictures I see of Bakelite tiles. Do you get Bakelite tiles this dark, if not what do you think they are? One set of the flower tiles is numbered 1,2,3,4 while the other is N,E,W,S I haven't seen this before just one or the other, they all look as if they belong together, is this unusual? Would the 1960's seem be about right for this set?
    >Thanks for your help and the brilliant website.
    >Regards
    >Peter

    Hello Peter,
    I have news for you: the tiles are plastic, and by the way, Bakelite is a plastic (look it up). You asked:

    if not [Bakelite] what do you think they are?
    Probably Casein. Take a look at FAQ 7c & 7c3. The somewhat sharp edges are a hallmark of Casein tiles.

    One set of the flower tiles is ... N,E,W,S... is this unusual?
    Read the "mystery tiles" FAQ - FAQ 7e.

    Would the 1960's seem be about right for this set?
    Not enough information. See FAQ 7g.

    Cheers!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    September 1, 2008


    A "change of heart" question (FAQ 19AM)

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Sue L
    >Date: Sunday, August 31, 2008 4:46:59 PM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing......a person picks tile from wall and slides it over to her face down and then decides to take previously thrown tile and puts picked tile back. Is this a legal move? I thought not...that once you take the tile off the wall its yours.
    >Thanks for solving a little confusion we had at our game today.
    >Sue L

    Hi Sue,
    Sliding the picked tile isn't the usual way of taking the picked tile. I've never seen anybody slide the tile along the tabletop (everybody picks it up and pulls it through the air). But if I played with someone with advanced arthritis, I'd cut her some slack in that regard. Besides, sliding isn't covered in the rules (I've just never heard of anybody doing that before).

    As to the question of changing her himd, though -- that's Frequently Asked Question #19AM. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left. Click FAQ 19. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to this question. If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know how I can improve the wording for future askers of this same question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 31, 2008


    My keyboard doesn't have a question mark key but I have a question anyway.

    >From: Lee
    >Sent: Sunday, August 31, 2008 7:15 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have been playing for at least 5 years with more or less the same group. I am on a loosing streak lasting a few months. Frequently I am one tile away or I have an exposure so my partners will not throw a tile. I try different hands I feel I know the card well but I am stumped and frustrated. What can I do to get out of my slump. Any suggestions.
    >Nancy

    Hi Nancy,

    Everybody gets streaks. It happens to all of us. I had one that lasted at least a year! That doesn't mean yours will last that long. It could end tomorrow. Just "hang in there, baby."
    You could take a look at FAQ 8 - maybe there are some ideas for you in there. The FAQs are above left.
    You could read my weekly strategy column (the purple banner atop this page).
    You could buy my book.
    You could try voodoo. Either curse your opponents' luck or conjure up some good luck for yourself. But if the Twilight Zone is to be believed, this route could come back and bite you in the end in a surprising and ironic manner.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 31, 2008


    What if everybody wants to blind pass?

    >From: Karen
    >Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2008 4:49 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg
    >I am truly sorry to bother you but I cannot find my question in the FAQ. If on the 3rd pass of a Charleston all 4 players want to "blind pass" what do we do?
    >Thank you, Karen
    >Casa Grande, AZ

    Hi Karen,
    The last time somebody asked me this must have been several years ago. (It's not exactly asked frequently!)
    So. Out of four people, not one has three tiles she's willing to pass. Not a problem (but it is going to be an interesting hand). Most likely, somebody has two tiles to pass. Maybe somebody else has one tile to pass. Maybe there's someone unwilling to pass any. In this scenario, the person with two to pass can pass two to the player at her right and say "I owe you one more. Wait a moment until I get it." We already know that the person at her right doesn't need more than two anyway, but let's just play this out anyway, and everybody's going to pass three.
    Even if it requires an exercise in silliness.
    So player A has given two to player B. Player B, let's say, has one to pass. So she gives three to player C. Maybe player C didn't have any to pass, so she just blind passes the three to player D. Player D can give three to player A. Player A keeps two and gives the one she owed to player B.

    See? It's just a "something now, the rest forthcoming in a moment" kinda thing. At least, that's one way it could go.

    Or what if everybody had just one tile to pass. Each player could give one tile to the player at her right, and they could keep on passing until three tiles have changed hands. The tile you passed is now in the hand of the player at your left.

    Or what if everybody said they had no tiles to pass. Everybody owes the player at her right three tiles, right? Okay, so if I owe you 3, and you owe her 3 and she owes him 3, and he owes me 3, isn't that even? Just call it even and start to play!

    The official rules don't cover every possible eventuality. Sometimes you have to get a little creative.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 30, 2008


    A "change of heart" question (FAQ 19AM)

    >From: Sharon
    >Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2008 5:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Someone calls for a discarded tile and places the tiles on her rack.---She has changed her mind about playing this hand and wants to return the called tile to the table and continue to play.---Can she do this?

    Hi Sharon,
    You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19AM. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left. Click FAQ 19. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down to AM and find the answer to this question. If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know how I can improve the wording for future askers of this same question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 28, 2008


    Do the others pay me double for jokerless in S&P?

    >From: The Tomers
    >Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2008 2:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: When you win a hand in the Singles and Pairs section of the card and of course it is jokerless do the other players pay double the value because it is jokerless?
    >Thank you
    >Arlene

    Hi Arlene,
    You have a National Mah Jongg League card. The front of the card shows the hands you can make this year. The back lists the major rules. The answer to this question is very easy to find (it's in red and in all capital letters). Just turn the card over and look at the back.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 28, 2008


    Need 8 blanks or jokers for Japanese set

    >Subject: Tiles Wanted
    >From: Rosemary
    >Date: Thursday, August 28, 2008 7:48:54 AM
    >I bought a Japanese mah jongg set not realizing it has no jokers. I need 8 blanks or 8 Jokers.
    >Material:
    >Color(s): Bone/Bamboo
    >Dimensions: H-2.5 cm (1"), W-1.8 cm (23/32"), D-1.6 cm (19/32")
    >Tile(s) wanted: 8 blanks or 8 jokers
    >URL (internet address) of online photos:
    >Rosemary Schlesinger
    >rschles2nycap.rr.com

    Hi Rosemary,
    Your announcement is being posted on the Tiles Wanted BB, but I also recommend you get proactive in searching for tiles for your set. Read "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs") 7Q & 7R. You can scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left.

    Additionally, unless you bought an unusual Japanese set that was made for export, you probably also need to add indices (numerals) to the suit of craks. (Not many Americans can read Chinese numerals.) You might find some helpful ideas in FAQ 7S.

    May the tiles be with you, literally.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 28, 2008


    Please appraise my 2 sets at a glance, part 2

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Jim Davis
    >Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:27:25 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Thank you for responding so quickly! Here's some more photos of the "green" backed set. If I told you I paid $200 for this set today, would you say I got taken? There was no literature in the box...just as you see it. The red set was found in my mother's attic and belonged to my Aunt...that's the set that started all the collecting buzz for me! I love your site! You've done an astounding job!
    > Thanks again! Jim

    Hi again, Jim.
    I would say you should have used FAQ 7h and worked on its value with me before buying it.

    There are two main types of plastic two-tone sets: glued and single-piece. So-called Bakelite two-tone sets, and enrobed sets, are made in one piece (first one color is made, then the other color is added while the piece is still in the mold).

    Your sets appear to be the glued variety. And it appeared from one of the photos you sent yesterday that the gluing was imprecise: I could see a slight offset between the yellow portion and the green. Besides that sort of flaw, it's fairly easy for the glued-together tiles to come unglued.

    One of the sets is in an attractive box, but I personally think $200 is a bit much for it. The one in the leather case is definitely not worth that much.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 26, 2008


    Please appraise my 2 sets at a glance for me

    >From: Jim Davis
    >Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 8:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom,
    >Could you please appraise these 2 sets i own at a glance for me? and could you please tell me what they are and possibly how old?
    >Thank you!
    >Jim Davis

    Hi again, Jim. You wrote:

    Could you please appraise these 2 sets
    I assume you mean "how much are they worth." No, I can't. Read FAQ 7h.

    could you please tell me what they are
    I guess they're two-tone sets. One appears to be made of casein and is in a very battered leather case. The other is in a nicer-looking case but I can't tell much from the photos.

    and possibly how old?
    Hard to tell from the photos. But I'm guessing maybe 1960s. If you want a better guess, read FAQ 7g and give me what I need.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 25, 2008


    Why do your column examples use the 2003 card?

    From: "Elizabeth
    Sent: Sunday, August 24, 2008 4:51 PM
    Subject: this week's strategy column
    > Hi Tom,
    > I've been reading your weekly strategy column for about 5 months and
    > am a fairly new mahjongg devotee. I don't read the letters to you so
    > maybe I missed something.
    > I'm wondering why you have chosen to use the 2003 card for your
    > American Mahj examples instead of the current card? Do you like it
    > better or is it just something you already had prepared? I don't have
    > the 2003 card so I can't figure out the questions you've asked.
    > Do you use the old card in some of your games?
    > Thanks,
    > Elizabeth

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I'm so glad you're checking out the column! (^_^) 2003 is when I started writing the column. When you go to the column page (http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column.htm), here's what you see:

    So you see, once a new visitor has seen the Intro frame, she gets the idea what the column is about. Then she just needs to use the Column Index to read recent columns. She never needs to read the Intro frame again. Nobody ever suggested to me that the Intro frame needs to be updated every year, but now I'm going to give that some serious thought!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 24, 2008


    How does Half Flush work?

    From: "Christine Eddy Taylor"
    Sent: Friday, August 22, 2008 10:50 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:We play the Chinese Official Mah-
    > jong.In counting bonuses for a woo hand..."all one suit with
    > honors".Can the honors be in a pung as well as a pair?
    > from Chris Taylor / cet

    Hi Chris,
    The Clean Hand (AKA "Half Flush" AKA "Semipure," pinyin: Hun4 Yi2 Se4) is just a "slightly less pure" hand than a one-suit hand. The only thing that matters is that tiles from no more than one suit are present in the hand. The number of honor tiles and the size of their groupings is not a consideration at all. I hope that's clear? I like to state the overriding principle, so that the reader will understand not only the answer to the question asked at the moment, but also the answer to any possible followup questions. If the hand has suit tiles, and some honors, and the suit tiles all belong to one suit and one suit only, then the hand is "clean" or "semipure" or "half flush" or "hun yi se." This principle applies to numerous Asian variants (which is why this hand has many different names).

    I'm not sure which book you use as your MCR bible (I'm not sure which one uses the word "woo"). But here's how I described this hand in my book:

      A hand in which tiles of two of the three suits are not present, together with honor tiles.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 22, 2008


    Is this a rare set?

    >From: Jim Davis
    >Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 1:55 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I recently purchased a 5 drawer Rosewood Box set with a brass push button on top, a brass "M" on one side of the box, and a brass chinese character on the opposite side. The door face that pops out when you push the small brass button ontop near the handles, has no markings on it except a brass ornamental plate in the top center. The box is like in phenominal shape...Is this an authentic box or a reproduction?
    >
    >also, the tiles are bone/bamboo and are very similar to the sets of tiles from 1920's. This is a nicer set, I believe, because there are the ornamental flower tiles that have 4 of them with interesting handcarvings of what looks like:
    >#1 Tile: laundry board in the wind,
    >#2 Tile :a cave with a telephone pole in front of it?,
    ># 3 tile: A drum,
    >and the most interesting:
    >#4 Tile: a train on the tracks with smoke billowing out of the exhaust.
    >
    >The Cracks have that complicated lower red design.
    >
    >It is a complete set with a tiny wood box with 6 small bone dice. The betting sticks. and the bone cylinder with 4 characters suits on them.
    >
    >Does this sound like a rare set I have come across? I haven't seen any other sets or tiles like these yet.
    >I can provide you with more photos if you're interested.
    >Thank you,
    >Jim Davis---Mahjongg collecting Newbie--in San Diego, CA.

    Hi Jim, you wrote:

    Is this an authentic box or a reproduction?
    I don't know. I've never seen a box like that, and it appears to be old. Can't tell from photos alone, but I think it's probably original to the set.

    It is a complete set
    "Complete" is one of those subjective words. You think it's complete - I don't have enough information to say whether it is indeed complete or not. You didn't mention a paper booklet, for instance.

    Does this sound like a rare set I have come across?
    The box and the flower tiles are unusual. But it's not rare for a set to have unusual flower tiles. The box might be rare.

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 21, 2008


    Is "1123" a kong? (Frequently Asked Question #16)

    >From: Ruthie
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 3:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Under the "quints" category, is the "1123" considered one set so that you can use jokers and also pick up a discard? Or is it considered 2 singles (the 2 and the 3) and 1 pair (the 1's).
    >Thanks so much!

    Hi Ruthie,
    Please read FAQ 16. Scroll up and find the links to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 20, 2008


    Two Frequently Asked Questions: When can I redeem a joker? Can I change my mind?

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Hilliary
    >Date: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 2:49:29 PM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Once a player has played a tile can she take itb back if the next person hasn't played yet or is it once down and announced, played?
    >In addition, if a player puts down a tile, announces it, and the next person hasn't played yet, can she take a joker that's exposed now, or is it too late?
    >Thanks,
    > Hilliary

    Hello Hilliary, you asked:

    Once a player has played a tile can she take itb back...
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to your question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked FAQ #19AM. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left. Click FAQ 19. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find your answer.

    if a player puts down a tile, announces it, and the next person hasn't played yet, can she take a joker that's exposed now, or is it too late?
    That's FAQ 19M. If the wording of any answer is unclear, please let me know how I can improve the wording for future askers of this same question.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 19, 2008


    Why would a player ever announce "ready" (part 2)

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Linda and Robert
    >Date: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 10:16:37 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Thank you for the information on
    >calling. Now that Julain Bradford is back from vacation, he has
    >explained why in his CC game the player must hi-lite a tile in his hand
    >before clicking to make a 'call'.
    >
    >In his (multiplayer online or single player offline) computer game, no
    >illegal actions or irregularities are allowed to take place. These are
    >never penalized because they cannot be done in the first place.
    >Therefore calling cannot be done unless the player really is exactly one
    >tile short of having an complete hand. The game engine cannot test this
    >until the player discards, at which time it would be too late as that
    >player's turn would have passed. So the game always allows a player to
    >chose to simply discard, or to simultaneously discard and call.
    >
    >So, the tile selected before calling is not to indicate the tile needed,
    >but instead it indicates which discard is going to be made immediately
    >before the call. The game then tests whether that discard + call is
    >legal and they are allowed only if it is. Otherwise the player must do
    >something else, like discard another tile and call, or merely discard
    >without calling.

    Yep.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 19, 2008


    How do you make sure you're teaching the rules correctly?

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: kathleen
    >Date: Monday, August 18, 2008 4:53:39 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: at what point do you expose your tiles. I have not played in so many years and recently purchased a set and am trying to teach myself again and a few other ladies, but I do remember when you put your tiles exposed on the rack. I know every time you make a call you do not expose them. At what point do you. Thank you, Kathleen

    Hi Kathleen,
    It horrifies me that you're teaching people to play based on nothing but patchy memory of how to play. You owe it to your students to buy a book, and teach them from a solid foundation of knowledge of the game.
    You didn't say what kind of mah-jongg you played, but I'm going out on a limb and guessing it's American mah-jongg (National Mah Jongg League rules).
    Until last year, there was only one book on American mah-jongg - the official rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy. But last year two books were written on American mah-jongg: mine and Elaine Sandberg's. You can check FAQ 3 for more information on books.
    Please, I beg you - get a book. You mustn't proceed with teaching when you can't remember basic things like when to expose. You're bound to misremember other important things, or even teach table rules as if they're gospel, causing problems for your students when they go to play in a tournament or with other groups.

    You wrote: "I know every time you make a call you do not expose them." You remember incompletely. Whenever you call a discarded tile for exposure, you must expose the completed grouping. Not the entire hand, just the group of tiles that the called tile completes. And when you have a complete hand, you must expose the entire hand.

    Lastly, I hope the set you purchased is appropriate for the kind of mah-jongg you play. It often happens that a player of American mah-jongg buys or is given a set that doesn't have jokers, then has to go on a search for extra tiles. FAQ 7, above left, contains all kinds of information about sets.
    May the tiles (and a book) be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 18, 2008


    How do you make a tile-matching game solvable?

    >Mah-Jongg Solitaire Game Developement Question
    >Billy van Graan
    >Monday, August 18, 2008 12:41:06 AM
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am currently busy creating my own version of Mah-Jongg Solitaire. Since you have a lot of knowledge on this I would like to ask some questions if you don't mind.
    >1. The games you created, where every game solvable?
    >2. If it was how did you go about to accomplish this? Did you test the layout after you built it to make sure it was solvable or did you have a special way of laying out the board to ensure that it would be solvable?
    >If you could just point me in the right direction I would be a great help.
    >Regards,
    >Billy

    Hi Billy,
    With the Shanghai games, we usually offered the players an option. Hardcore players could choose, if they wanted, to turn "guaranteed winnable" off.
    Some players were confused as to what the option meant. "Winnable" doesn't mean winning is inevitable, and I had to explain that more than a couple of times.

    Before I answer your 2nd question, let me define a couple of terms. "Layout" is the structure built from the tiles. You can turn the tiles face-down if you want, and build a structure with them. "Arrangement" is the term I use for the placement of specific tiles within a layout. A layout can be built with many different arrangements. Layouts aren't a factor in winnability - arrangements are.

    Checking winnability (solvability). The computer randomly arranges the tiles within the layout, then very quickly in human terms, the computer verifies that the arrangement is winnable before revealing it to the player. There are a couple of ways the program can work. The computer can just "play" the game, removing matching pairs, and see if a win occurs or not. If a win doesn't occur, you have choices - either have the computer play it again, making different choices this time (in which case you actually have to keep track of choices made), or have the computer just scrap the arrangement and try again.

    Building winnability in while creating the arrangement. One way I know of is to have the computer build the arrangement a pair at a time. Having built the arrangement that way, you know there is at least one guaranteed path to clearing the tiles.
    Tom Sloper  /   トム·スローパー   /   탐 슬로퍼   /   湯姆 斯洛珀
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2008


    Why would a player ever announce "ready" ("calling" / "fishing" / "riichi")?

    >From: Linda-and- Robert
    >Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 3:58 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I am new to Mahjong and beginning to understand the Hong Kong version pretty well but when it comes to the classic chinese version I have one problem: Why would a player ever announce that he is 'calling' (fishing)'? In other words if he's about to go Mahjong soon, why not just keep quiet about it instead of announcing it to everyone?
    >This issue keeps coming up in Julian Bradfield's game where there is an option where you can click on one of the tiles in your rack and then check the 'and calling' box. I just don't get it. Suppose I need a 4 Dots for a Chow to Mahjong. I don't have a 4 Dots tile yet in the rack to click on, so how can I indicate that's the tile I need when I'm calling?
    >Julian is on vacation right now so no help is possible from the author at this time.

    Hi Linda and/or Robert,
    The "ready" rule is the same thing as the Japanese "riichi" (reach) rule. It's described in Eleanor Whitney's book, and is not a mandatory rule in CC.
    The reason why you might want to declare "ready" is so that you can double your score should your call succeed. If you don't declare "ready" you don't get the "ready" double.
    You don't tell your opponents what tile you need. You only say that you're ready for mah-jongg. It's the players' job to get all fearful and to wonder what tile you need. I can't speak for how the user interface works in Julian's computer game, but in most Japanese programs you just have to announce "riichi" while making your discard.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 17, 2008


    My new kards are konfusing???

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Nancy (jmariani)
    >Date: Saturday, August 16, 2008 3:37:11 PM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:i just purchased a set of mah-jong kards for traveling. i am confused about 2 things. no jokers??? also have 4 carda that look like a "bird sitting with red hat on" has red wing, blue wing and red tail.- is that a "bird bam" or one bam as some call it or is it a joker? please help me clarify. all other cards are identifiable. thanks nmariani

    Hello Nancy, you wrote:

    i just purchased a set of mah-jong kards for traveling... no jokers???
    Sounds to me like you bought a deck made for use with an Asian variant of mah-jongg. In other words, an "un-American" deck of kards. You shoulda bought the American.

    also have 4 carda that look like a "bird... is that a "bird bam" or one bam as some call it ... all other cards are identifiable.
    Two principles you need to commit to permanent memory:
    If after identifying all the tiles in your set or deck, you've found four mysterious bird tiles and you have NOT found any one bams, the two mysteries (missing one bams - extra bird tiles) are both solved at one stroke, because...
    Every time you see four birds in a mah-jongg set or deck, they are always one bams.

    I recommend you buy a deck of American kards, and next time you're going to buy anything, it's a good idea to read the FAQs here first. The FAQs are above left.
    May the American kards be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 16, 2008


    The "Discard Quiz" booklet in column 374, part 2

    The correct email address to write to Takunori Kajimoto and get the "Discard Quiz" book described in column 374 is kaji.mahjong at gmail.com, not kaji-mahjong@gmail.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 16, 2008


    How old is my set, part 2

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 10:48 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hey Tom, you are remarkable in your prompt response. Thank you. I appreciate the time you spent on my question regards the age of my set. I used to have a lot of fun playing, although not a very good player. We ate and drank too much while playing after work to relax. Lots of laughs and giggles, though. Not real serious. Again, thanks. Donna
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi Donna,
    "Lots of laughs and giggles" is a good thing!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 14, 2008


    How old is my set?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 8:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom - GREAT SITE - CAUGHT ME FOR HOURS LOOKING AT YOUR PICS. You married???
    >Here's my question and info. You did offer to help identify the age of a set, if possible. I followed
    >your request page and here goes:
    >CONTENTS OF SET:
    >
    >1 faux alligator covered brown case. It closes by pushing the brass tabs outward and pressing down on the locking prong. I do not have the keys for it. There is some minor scuffing of the corners of the case. The handle is good condition with no rips or tears. The brass fittings are a bit pitted with age.
    >
    >There are 5 racks in what appears to be marbleized plastic, color - maroon, with perfect condition of the chip flippers on all the racks.
    >
    >The tiles are as follows: 36 cracks, 36 bams, 36 dots, 4 wests, 4 souths, 4 norths, 4 easts, 4 white dragons, 4 green dragons, 4 red dragons, 2 carved jokers (one green the other blue – Buddha type) 19 flowers, which I need to discuss. The tiles appear to have well defined edges, although not what I'd call sharp. The 4 cracks stand out in the cracks due to their design being somewhat different than the other cracks. TOTAL 157 TILES.
    >
    >There are 2 red transparent dice.
    >
    >There are two types of chips in set. One set seems older, which is smooth face and back and a round hole. 21 white, 23 green, 39 red and 39 dark blue (almost black)
    >
    >The other set of chips seem newer and have ridges along their edge and have design texture to their face and back. These have square holes. Comprised of 5 med. Blue, 5 green, 7 yellow, 16 red and 25 white.
    >
    >THE FLOWERS:
    >I'd like to discuss some of the flowers. There appear to be a few that don't match the set. And within those that don't quite match 2 are slightly smaller and have much more deeper honey color to them. They have the number 4 on them and the flower design – they also have softer edges.
    >Then there are two others, which have another shade of color, no numbers, but the flower motif seems to have been decoupaged on, is the best way to describe it.
    >The other three #4 and four #5 flowers seem a slightly deeper shade than the rest of the set. So that makes a total of 11 out of the 19 flowers that might have been added.
    >
    >Although the entire set seems what's been referred to as butterscotch, some tiles have very, very slight variations in their weathering. There are NO CHIPPING OR BRUISES AT ALL TO THE TILES.
    >
    >HISTORY OF SET:
    >In around 1992, a client of mine was antiquing in NYC down in the Bowery and found this set. Knowing I was playing mah jongg, she bought it for me as a present. That's all I know of its history.
    >
    >TILE SIZES:
    >Ht. 1.25" (1-1/4"), W- 7/8" and D-3/8" for 153 of the tiles
    >For the 2 deeper colored, more rounded edged #4 flowers, same dimensions, just a minute sliver shyer than the set.
    >
    >For the 2 decoupaged-type of flowers with no numbers, they are slightly smaller, measuring between 1-1/8 and 1-2/8" in Ht., 7/8" in W between 3/8" and ½" each tile.
    >When playing the distinction is not noticeable, although the color difference of the 4 odd flowers is.
    >
    >Any help with age of set? Thanks, Donna
    >PS. I understand you will email me when it posts. I would very much appreciate that.

    Hello, Donna.
    Your question is about the set's age. Two of your pictures in particular tell the tale.

    The photo of the whole set clearly shows that all the tiles except some of the flowers are original to the set - that a number of the flowers were added later. The closeup of the flowers and jokers reveals the crucial information to aging the set - it reveals that the set was originally made with 8F and 2J. Looking at the March 25, 2007 column (Column #311, click purple banner above), we see that the timeframe when the NMJL required two jokers was 1960-62.

    We see by your photos that the overall flower count has been boosted to 19. That's an odd number - the NMJL never required 19 flowers - so perhaps some have been lost, or given to other players who needed flowers to augment their sets. The need for more than 14 flowers indicates that the set was probably made in the couple of years prior to 1960.

    So, to answer your question - the set's age. Most likely, the set is a little over 48 years old.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 13, 2008


    The "Discard Quiz" booklet in column 374

    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >"Willems, David" DWillems
    >Wednesday, August 13, 2008 8:33:08 AM
    >Hello Tom,
    >I'd love to get a copy of the "Discard Quiz" book you mentioned in your column [374]. I tried emailing Takunori Kajimoto at the email address: kaji-mahjong@gmail.com but it didn't seem to go through. Am I perhaps typing it in wrong?
    >Thanks,
    >David

    Hi David,
    I've just now emailed Kajimoto-san, at that address and at his other address, to verify whether that address works or not, and I'll post the results here when I have further info to share.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 13, 2008


    Should I call myself dead? (FAQ 19AC)

    >Subject: ? re dead hand
    >From: cppeggy
    >Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 6:44:56 AM
    >If a player realizes her hand is dead, should she declare it dead or
    >continue to play until another player declares/asks if her hand is dead?
    >Thankyou in advance for your answer.
    >Peggy

    Hello Peggy,
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to your question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19AC. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left. Click FAQ 19. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find your answer. If the wording of the answer is unclear, please let me know how I can improve the wording for future askers of this same question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 13, 2008


    Mystery tiles (FAQ 7e)

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: "GalinaRN
    >Date: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 6:13:35 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hello, I am looking at a vintage bakelite set that has extra tiles that I cannot identify. Need your help. THere are 2 sets (actually more) of decorative scenic tiles numbered 1-4 which I believe would be the flower tiles, but then there are 4 tiles numbered "5" which are also scenic. What are these? Thanks so much,
    >Gail H

    Hi Gail,
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to your question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). Please go to http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq.html and bookmark the FAQs page so you can easily go to the FAQs whenever you have a mah-jongg question.
    The "mystery tiles FAQ" is FAQ 7e. You'll find the answers to most mystery tiles questions there (including the #5 flowers mystery, which is explained therein).
    It might also be informative to read the March 25, 2007 column (Column #311) - access the weekly column by clicking the purple banner atop this page.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 13, 2008


    Seeking advice on racks, part 2

    >Subject: E-mail from Galina RN
    >From: Anna Rosen
    >Date: Sunday, August 10, 2008 10:11:27 AM
    >Hi Tom!!
    > Saw the post on your Bulletin Q&A from Gail H about a set of tiles she purchased on E-Bay. First of all, I noticed she mentioned her set had only 152 tiles. As you know, this is not going to enable her to play American Mah Jongg as we know it.
    >
    >She also mentions two terms: doubler and pusher. Like you, I have no idea what a "doubler" is. The pusher, however, falls into two categories... the" helping arms" which attach to the racks and the "sliders" which do not attach to the racks. I gave the "sliders" their name in 2003 since they were known as "Asian racks" and no one knew what to do with them in the USA.
    >
    >Both the helping arms and sliders can be viewed at our site www.kmaindustries.com
    >Have a Great Day!!
    >Anna Rosen
    >kmaindustriesinc@gate.net

    Hi Anna, you wrote:

    I noticed she mentioned her set had only 152 tiles. As you know, this is not going to enable her to play American Mah Jongg as we know it.
    152 is enough. Besides the 136-tile basic set, the set just needs 8 flowers and 8 jokers. 136 plus 16 is 152. Since Galina's set is bone and bamboo, and has 152 tiles, I'm going out on a limb and assuming it's a commonly available fishbone set in cloth-covered hinged-lid carrying case (I have 2 such sets in my collection). She'll have to sticker the 4 Chinese jokers (see FAQ 7e) and the 4 blanks that those sets come with, then it'll absolutely be suitable for American mah-jongg.

    Like you, I have no idea what a "doubler" is.
    Old racks came with "doubling charts" on the bottom. The Chinese Classical game (aka "CC"), popular before the late 1930s, had a complicated scoring system. I assume that's what Galina's eBay seller meant by the term (eBay sellers always make up their own words for mysterious mah-jongg thingamabobs). Such doubling charts are useless in American mah-jongg, of course.

    ... "sliders" which do not attach to the racks. I gave the "sliders" their name in 2003 since they were known as "Asian racks" and no one knew what to do with them in the USA.
    The people I've played with who use those call them "rulers" since they're reminiscent of measuring sticks. I describe rulers, and their usage, in FAQ 7d.

    Both the helping arms and sliders can be viewed at our site www.kmaindustries.com
    Sorry I didn't mention your site too - but when I Googled "helping hands mah jongg," I just took the top three sites for the reply I wrote Galina.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 10, 2008


    when playing with four players, where does east move, how does it work

    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: NORMAN MARTHA
    >Date: Sunday, August 10, 2008 9:13:26 AM
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:when playing with four players, where does east move, how does it work
    >martha

    Hello Martha,
    I assume you're asking about seat rotation? I recommended seat rotation one week ago Sunday, August 3, 2008 to Robin who asked about a problematic situation. And I described it fully on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 to Jackie. Please scroll down and read the July 22 post.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 10, 2008


    need to know pros/cons and value of enrobed tile sets.

    From: "Bev Armstrong"
    Sent: Friday, August 08, 2008 10:28 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I am in the process of tracking down a set from the U.S - not many
    > available in New Zealand, only cheap brand new ones. Keen on an
    > older set and need to know pros/cons and value of enrobed tile sets.
    > Couldn't find anything in your FAQ. Need 152 tiles.
    > Kind regards
    > Bev Armstrong
    > Wellington New Zealand

    Hi Bev,
    As far as I can determine, your question for me is:

    need to know pros/cons and value of enrobed tile sets.
    Pros - they're pretty.
    Cons - they're expensive and hard to find.
    Value - high, when complete and in good condition.

    Couldn't find anything in your FAQ.
    Sorry, the FAQs only contain answers to frequently-asked questions! But thanks for looking! (^_^)

    Need 152 tiles.
    That could be a problem. It seems that most enrobed sets were made before the NMJL settled on the 8F/8J standard. So it's extremely hard to find enrobed sets with 8 embossed jokers. Good hunting!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 9, 2008


    Strategy for Hong Kong Old Style?

    From: "J. R. Fitch"
    To: tooelemountains [Rob]
    Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2008 8:26 AM
    Subject: Re: NineDragons Comments
    > Rob [wrote],
    >> I have bought HKMJ, and now I wish to buy a strategy book of MahJong.
    >> Which book do you recommend that uses the same rules as Nine Dragons
    >> HKMJ? Even if your recomendation is out of print, I could find one
    >> used on Ebay I'm sure.
    >
    > There is surprisingly little to be found in print on mahjong stategy,
    > specific to HKOS or otherwise.
    >
    > The definitive text in English, the "bible" of Hong Kong Old Style, is
    > Perlman & Chan's "The Chinese Game of Mahjong". It has a short chapter
    > on strategy. ISBN 962-211-0169. It's rare, so good luck.
    >
    > Rather than chase down that book, I would recommend that you go to
    > http://sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    > This is the #1 website for all things mahjong. FAQ 8 has some very good
    > ideas on strategy.
    > Also, Tom Sloper writes a weekly strategy column focusing on different
    > mahjong strains. Last year there was a focus on championship rules.
    > November 11, 2007 - Column #343. Mahjong Competition Rules
    > November 4, 2007 - Column #342. Mahjong Competition Rules
    > October 28, 2007 - Column #341. Mahjong Competition Rules
    > October 21, 2007 - Column #340. Mahjong Competition Rules
    > October 14, 2007 - Column #339. Mahjong Competition Rules
    > October 7, 2007 - Column #338. Mahjong Competition Rules
    > Take the time to read a broad slice of that very comprehensive website
    > and you'll be more of a mahjong expert than anyone you'll ever be likely
    > to bump into.
    > Have fun,
    > --
    > J. R. Fitch
    > Nine Dragons Software
    > http://www.ninedragons.com

    Thanks for your kind words, JR.
    Might I also recommend Amy Lo's book to fill some HKOS gaps (she refers to it as the Cantonese game).
    http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq03.htm
    May the tiles be with us all...
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    トム·スローパー   /   湯姆 斯洛珀  /  탐 슬로퍼
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 9, 2008


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