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

Mah-Jonggy Fun
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The 2003 CMOC
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The 2007 WMJC
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A Hong Kong MJ Adventure
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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. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes permission for your email to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.)

PLEASE CHECK THE FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and PLEASE scroll down and see if your question has already been asked and answered, BEFORE YOU ASK YOUR QUESTION.

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

  • If you have a question about the NMJL card, please read FAQ 16. (See links at left.)

  • If you have a beginner question about American rules, please read FAQ 19. (See links at left.)

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

    If clicking the picture below doesn't work for you, email your question to Webmaster@Sloperama.com, or any email address you know to be mine (it doesn't matter which of my email addresses you use to get email to me). I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome. And don't ask me to click links, either. Give me all the information in your email.


    Click the image to ask your mah-jongg question or submit a comment!

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

    No shouting, please. Typing in all capital letters is considered "shouting." Nobody is allowed to shout here but me! (^_^) If your question or comment is typed in all capital letters, it will be converted to all lower case before being posted here with my reply. For reader enjoyment, humor is sometimes used in the responses that I give. Please don't be offended by a response given in the spirit of reader enlightenment and entertainment.

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


  • My wife's grandmother's set from the early 1900's.

    >From: "jmoran70
    >Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 1:56:10 PM
    >Subject: Mahjongg set circa early 1900's
    >Hi:
    >I was referred to you by Lois @Mahjongg Assoc. I have this set that was my wife's grandmother's set and we think it dates back to late 1800's or early 1900's, my mother in law was born 1912. We would like an appraisal of its value. I can photo or forward one of the tiles, whatever we need to do. Any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
    >Thank you,
    >John & Chamie

    Hi John & Chamie,
    I'm happy to help. I give appraisals for free on my website. But you have to do your homework first. You have to count your tiles, count all the other pieces in your set, and write down the condition of the tiles, the case, all the pieces, and take digital photographs. See Frequently Asked Question #7h (you can link to the FAQs above left) for complete details of what I need to know and what I need to see. Send me the detailed description in the body of an email, and attach the photographs as JPG files.

    Sets from before 1920 are very rare. But I have two of them in my collection, and I know the signs. Most supposed 19th century ivory tiles are actually bone tiles from the 1920s, as you'll learn by reading FAQ 7h. (Of course, the 1920's do count as "early 1900's.") I also have bone and ivory sets in my collection.

     
    Ivory.

    Not ivory.

    I can tell the difference between bone and ivory, but not necessarily from photos you take. YOU, however, can learn to tell the difference yourself. If you think your tiles are ivory, please read FAQs 7c & 7c2, and perform the "Is It Ivory" test with a bright light (don't burn pinholes in your tiles, or perform any kind of invasive test).

    Standing by to appraise your set, when you send me the information...
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 28, 2009


    Tom that is so amazingly cool, part 2

    >From: Lori
    >Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 11:00:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Tom I apologize for the FB questions, of course I know your website well and find it always fun and informative, plus it is a MUCH better place to communicate with you! Our younger boy is taking Chinese in school and is absorbing it like a sponge, so if I ever become as brave as you about traveling – and playing MJ even – I will bring him along for support. I have showed him your pictures and commentary and he is wishing he were you, dashing around the globe so – well – dashingly. Have loved your continuing comments on Joker stickers BTW, thanks for that. May all the tiles in China be with you -- Lori

    No, Lori,
    It's I who should apologize. I was so intent on keeping everything here on my site that I crossed over into near-Luddite territory. Facebook is cool, and I shouldn't have denigrated it like that. It was a bit of an over-reaction based on something other friends have done - sending me messages via Facebook rather than via email (so I have to go on Facebook to reply, can't just email using my usual email program). That's not what you did exactly, and I should have been more gracious.
    "Dashingly," that's a nice word. And it's how I like to imagine myself when I have one of those Clouseau moments. Gotta dash off now, I'm having early lunch with a friend in Little Tokyo (gee, even "Little Tokyo" sounds cool, even though it's just downtown). I'm wearing my T-shirt with a Japanese insult on it. Seriously. Not kidding.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 28, 2009


    Tom that is so amazingly cool that you go to China for these championships!

    >From: "Facebook"
    >To: "Tom Sloper"
    >Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 1:50 PM
    >Subject: Lori Todd wrote on your Wall...
    >Lori wrote on your Wall:
    >"Tom that is so amazingly cool that you go to China for these championships! how many english speakers attend, how much Chinese do you have? you are such a brave soul!"
    >To see your Wall or to write on Lori's Wall, follow the link below:
    >http://www.facebook.com[deleted]
    >Thanks,
    >The Facebook Team

    Hi Lori,
    I have this website (http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm) so I can receive such delightful messages and display them for all to see here! It seems so limiting to have this sort of thing appear only on Facebook, where not so many people will read them. Anyway, to answer your questions:

    Tom that is so amazingly cool that you go to China for these championships!
    I think so too! (^_^)

    how many english speakers attend
    Well. It varied. Let's see, in Tokyo 2002 there were quite a lot. In Hainan 2003 there were only a very few (and those other English speakers were Japanese or Chinese, oh wait, there was one other American that time). In Beijing 2005 there were quite a few. And of course in Holland 2005 there were LOTS (most Europeans know English very well). In Tianjin 2006 there were a lot of English speakers, from Europe and from Japan. In Copenhagen 2007 (just after my book was printed), almost everybody spoke English. In Chengdu 2007, there was a large number of participants who spoke English.
    So in general, I guess you could say that the number of English speakers increased over time.


    In Tianjin (2006).

    how much Chinese do you have?
    I can say "good day," "thank you," and I know some mah-jongg words. And of course, numbers (we had to tell our score after every hand, just as Americans have to do).

    you are such a brave soul!"
    Yes, that's me! I felt like a cross between James Bond and Homer Simpson and Inspector Clouseau. Suave worldly traveler at times... and at other times, a dunce bumbling my way through foreign places. (^_~)

    May the tiles be with you, Lori.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 27, 2009


    Looking for feedback on my mah-jongg solitaire rules, part 8

    >From: John Kemp
    >Cc: [deleted]
    >Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 1:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Solitaire, Chinese Traditional (modified) and American
    >Mr. Sloper:
    >A few months ago I sent you my rules for Mah Jongg solitaire. As you may have noticed, these rules were pretty primitive and probably confusing. Over the past few months I have worked on these games and I think I have them in reasonably good order. But I am still open to any suggestions or corrections.
    >These solitaire games are intended to get beginners familiar with real game rules, sequences of play, and hand development. I'll be looking forward to hearing from any of your readers who might be interested. Thanks for this postiing.
    >JOHN KEMP
    >(915) 532-3496
    >KempSoli@sbcglobal.net
    >Attachment: SolMJWrd.doc


    Your weekly column...?

    >From: Greg
    >Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 8:20 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I am missing your weekly strategy columns. I trust everything is fine. I look forward to them each week.
    >Greg, Gadsden, AL

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks for your interest. The reason is a double whammy. Lately I've been swamped with work, and also short on subject material. I have some travel coming up (mah-jongg related), and the work level isn't decreasing, but there'll be new material to write about on April 1 when the new NMJL card comes out. So for the next month or so the column still might be quiet, but it'll resume in April for sure.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 27, 2009


    Can I "reverse-redeem" a joker? (FAQ 19AL)

    From: "Alice
    Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 7:12 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > If you need a tile for a pair, say a 4 Bam, and another player has a
    > Pung of 4 Bams exposed, can you take a joker from your hand and
    > exchange it for the 4 bam to make your pair?

    Hi Alice,
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (there's a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this , pointing to them). Find the link to FAQ #19 (there's a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this , pointing to FAQs 16 and 19) and click it.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19.

    In the case of the question you have asked, read FAQ 19AL.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 27, 2009


    Would there be a market for automatic mahjong tables here in the US, part 2

    >From: Curt DeBaun
    >Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 7:17 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Thanks for your quick reply.
    >By "programmed", I mean to say that the tables I have can be programmed as to how many tiles to put in a wall, including 19. This is the only programming these tables do. The ones I am looking at do not keep score. I can also get the correct tiles, made for the Western market, with flowers and jokers.
    >I think I can get the metal and plastic tables over here and sell them at about $1000., plus shipping from Indiana, where I am. I could probably sell the fancier wooden ones at about $1,500.00. I think these are good prices. I have attached a couple of pictures, but many other models are available. (None that I have have the ashtrays)
    >I really appreciate your comments on this, and anyone else who would like to let me know how they feel can contact me at:
    >curtdebaunfuneralhomes.com
    >Thanks,
    >Curt DeBaun


    Would there be a market for automatic mahjong tables here in the US?

    >From: Curt
    >Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 6:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Would there be a market for automatic mahjong tables here in the US? Yes, they can be programmed for American Mahjong, and yes, I have already brought over a few for personal use (they are totally cool). Your feed-back would be apprectiated.
    >Thanks,
    >Curt DeBaun

    Hi Curt,
    For automatic tables to achieve good sales in America:

    The table has to be able to deal 152 tiles (not just 136 or 144) - that means walls 19 tiles long. The 136-tile basic set, plus 8 flowers plus 8 jokers.

    The price has to be reasonable.

    I don't know what you mean about programming. What is there to program? Are you talking about the scorekeeping?

    Oh. And we don't need ashtrays. (^_^)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 26, 2009


    About Lee's set

    >From: gina smith
    >Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 5:03:37 AM
    >Subject: From Gina Smith
    >Hello Tom, I hope all is well with you – This is in reply to Lee regarding his set. This is not a Royal set of tiles but either a Cardinal design, (especially the bird and the one dot), or more likely a Royal Crisloid set. These sets were not made of catalin or bakelite but probably some kind of acrylic or polypropelene. The dragon and flowers may differ slightly between the two manufacturers, but these designs were seen in the early sixties before the NMJL started using jokers (although I see that the original stickered jokers were stickered with NMJL stickers and some other tiles were restickered more recently.) The racks and separators are definitely catalin, and the coin ends look plated, or surfaced, not solid brass. The coins are vintage square hole ones, not catalin or bakelite. The case itself is a Royal case-they are really nice. They used this in the Royal Depth Control and Royal Crisloid, so I am assuming that this is a Royal Crisloid set. I am assuming that the A & L pouch (which is where RDC was distributed), was probably used originally for holding the coins and dice and bettor when the set was new, but this is just a guess. The set that you see on Jim May’s site has more solid looking tiles-like a bar of soap. Yours looks like they have a slight semi-translucent quality and are not as heavy as the tiles on Jim’s site. Many times in the Crisloid tile sets (especially the later ones) , if you look on the back of the tile, it looks like there is a “crack” that runs around just inside the outside edge of the tile, as opposed to the solid back, which in my opinion, is a higher quality tile.. All the tiles in a set would have this characteristic. These types of tiles have a tendency to flake and chip. These sets were mass produced during the time period stipulated. What I think that most people have to be mindful of is that many vintage sets over the years were "married". Cases were changed, coins added, tiles removed or added, and paperwork added. For example, because you have paperwork from the 1940's, it doesn't necessarily mean that the set was available in that time period. You date tiles from the design and composition, never from the paperwork, playing cards, or any other accessories that come with the set. All accessories can be changed around quite easily. With some of us, we we fortunate to acquire sets or advertising that offered sets that were in fact all original, so we know what came with them. These artypes of sets are very rare. I hope this information helps. Gina

    Hi Gina,
    It's always wonderful to get your take on a reader's set, but I WISH you would break up your writing into paragraphs (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 26, 2009


    How old is my set, and how much is it worth?

    >From: Lee
    >Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 7:40 PM
    >Subject: Help with SEt info
    >Hi,
    >Thank you so much for a wonderful and informative site.
    >I was wondering if you could help me to date and place a value on a mahjong set that I just acquired,
    >(to get back into mahjong after a 42 year lay off.)
    >I was looking for an affordable set that would have the nostalgic sound and feel of the sets that I Used to play with, back in the 50's-60's. Of course, because I am working blind here, I have no idea how it would compare to those sets, as i don't have anything to compare to, at the moment.
    >Looking around the net i think i have come close to identifying the set...
    >I just saw a very similar set on ebay and it was listed as Marblette.
    >http://cgi.ebay.com/MAH-JONG-MODERN-MARBELENE-MARBLETTE-PLASTIC-GAME-SET_W0QQitemZ110256559979QQihZ001QQcategoryZ2556QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262
    >the tiles look almost identical, however the racks on my set are more like the catalin sets i have seen up there.
    >and the case looks more like the cases that i remember.
    >However, I have no idea if the tiles themselves were switched out, since the set was purchased.
    >I have the set up on the net
    >http://www.flyingwheelbicycleshop.com/MahjongSet1.htm
    >I looked up the Marblette Corp, and it seems that they made plastics on the order of bakelite/catalin, and were in business between 1938 and 1973., so if this is a Marblette produced tile set.. it can't be much younger than made by 1973
    >I would like to know if you think that the tiles in this set will be similar enough to bakelite,catalin tiles, that I will be satisfied with the feel and sound of them.. with the hope that I need not look further for a set to play with.
    >The approximate date of manufacture...
    >If you think that the coin purse is original to the set, and if so... were the tiles original too?
    >and how much you think the set is worth.
    >Thank you so much for anything you can do to help me
    >All the best,
    >Lee

    Hi Lee,
    You didn't send me any pictures of YOUR set. And I don't click links. (Clicking links is not part of the free service that I offer.) So all I can answer right now is the questions that I can, given that I haven't seen any photos of YOUR SET, and given that you didn't give me all the information I request in FAQs 7g & 7h (links above left). You asked:

    I would like to know if you think that the tiles in this set will be similar enough to bakelite,catalin tiles, that I will be satisfied with the feel and sound of them..
    I'm confused, Lee. You said you just acquired this set. And you are asking me if you're satisfied with the feel and sound of your own tiles? (Are you saying you have bought it but it's in the mail, so you haven't even touched it yet? That's the only reason I can imagine for this question...)

    If you think that the coin purse is original to the set
    I never heard of a set that came with a coin purse.

    were the tiles original too?
    To me, the tiles ARE the set. The question would be whether the rack and case were originally included with the TILES. And I can only tell you that I'm not the expert on sets, manufacturers, and such. You'd need to check with Jim May and CHarli (see FAQ 4a).

    anything you can do to help me
    You have to give me enough information (see FAQs 7g, 7h, & 7p), including photos (not links).

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    2/22, 2009


    Need translation help

    >From: Jeff
    >Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 5:44 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Actually, I'm translating a Japanese novel that just mentions a winning mah-jongg hand in passing. I don't know anything about the game, but want to translate it in a way that would make sense to American readers. Can anyone help me with this sentence (I'm sure it's incredibly basic):
    >When the air-raid siren sounded, he had three white 白, three green 發 and three red 中, and with an ishanten daisangen (一門聽 の大三元), he would win with a yakuman 役満 ---which he didn't want to do, because he was intentionally trying to let the client win, so he shuffled the tiles and said, "Let's head to the air raid shelter."
    >If anyone can help, I'd greatly appreciate it!
    >Jeff

    Hi Jeff,
    Try this:

      "...he had three white dragons, three green dragons, and three red dragons (Big Three Dragons). As soon as he got one more good tile, he'd be ready for a huge win --- which he didn't want, because..."

    You can look up "Big Three Dragons" and "yakuman" in FAQ 25, 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    2/22, 2009


    What if the word "any" isn't used in reference to numbers on the NMJL card? (FAQ 19AK)

    >From: william o
    >Sent: Saturday, February 14, 2009 4:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Thank you for your past answers to my questions it has helped my group alot
    >One more questions
    >When the card says Any two Suits do you have to use the exact numbers that you see on the card or can you use other numbers as long as they are two different suits as the card is stating
    >Thank you
    >Clare o
    >Lawman82

    Hello Clare,
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (there's a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," pointing to them). Find the link to FAQ #19 (there's a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," pointing to FAQs 16 and 19) and click it.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. If you don't know how to bookmark a web page, click here.

    Answers to all of the most frequently asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Whenever you get a new question about American mahj, assume it's frequently asked, and check FAQ 19 first. If you don't find an answer there, then maybe it's not a frequently asked question, and I live to answer those!

    In the case of the question you have asked today, read FAQ 19AK. Read it thoroughly. It's a 3-part question, and you've asked part 3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Valentine's Day, 2♥♥9


    Would you like me to forward some more scam emails to you?

      From: "Ryan S
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 4:31 PM
      Subject: Hello Tom
      > Hey Tom I just wanted to know if you needed some more scam emails for
      > your page I have one if you would like me to forward it to you. It's
      > women from united kingdom that claim to be selling a table for 500 GBP

    Sure, that'd be entertaining.
    Tom

      From: Ryan
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 5:05 PM
      Subject: Part 1
      Begin forwarded message:

        From: Angela Ruffino (angela.ruffino@yahoo.com)
        Date: February 11, 2009 1:17:45 AM HST
        To: Ryan
        Subject: automatic mahjong table
        Reply-To: angela.ruffino@yahoo.com
        I am Angela Ruffino from London United Kingdom,i came accross your advert on website that you are in need of the above subject stated,i just want to used this little words of mine to let you know that i have it for sale,and still in a good condition, if you need some pics of the item i can send them to you once i heard from you so we can bargain price and i will need your complete address for shipping purpose, please i only need a serious buyer and i do accept check payment ,international money order and western union money transfer,MoneyGram money Transfer and paypal and also let me know what method of payment you prefer..You can call me on +447024057349 or send me an email for further discussion

      From: Ryan
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 5:05 PM
      Subject: Part 2
      Begin forwarded message:

        From: Angela Ruffino
        Date: February 11, 2009 11:40:23 PM HST
        To: Ryan
        Subject: Hello
        MahJong/Mah Jong Table, auto tile shuffler and racking! include 2 sets (144 tiles) pro tiles. Drawers for chips.Heavy duty. weight 120kg, 240V power .Table playing area 90cmx90cm. Table height 75cm.Tile size: 38mmx27mmx19mmThe item is brand new in box. Self-assembly needed.I will be asking 400GBP and i will need to know your home address to calculate the shipping cost to your doorstep thanks and hope to hear from you soon

      --- On Wed, 2/11/09, Ryan wrote:
      From: Ryan
      Subject: Hello
      To: "angela.ruffino@yahoo.com"
      Date: Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 8:39 PM
      I'm a serious buyer just waiting for something worth the
      while. I would loveto see pictures of the table if you would email them that would be perfect.I'm located in Kekaha Kauai, HI. Thanking you in advance. My number is [deleted]

      From: Ryan
      To: Tom Sloper
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 5:06 PM
      Subject: Part3
      Sent from my iPhone
      Begin forwarded message:

        From: Angela Ruffino
        Date: February 12, 2009 12:38:42 AM HST
        To: Ryan
        Subject: Hello again
        Reply-To: angela.ruffino@yahoo.com
        Thanks for your mail...I am so happy,because in my life,i have never do business with a military man..What type of military how you?I hope my question did not get you upset,Because i want my son to become a military,Because everybody is scared of a military person....I don't know what time to call you,because of the time difference..Shipping and insurance to your doorstep will cost 100GBP and that will be total of 500GBP..My mode of payment is by western union money transfer..As soon as your payment is receive,I will package to avoid scratch and i will ship and i will forward you the shipping tracking information,You are to wait for four business days for the table to deliver at your doorstep..
        For payment,You are to located any western union and give them my name and address below
        Receiver Name.........Angela Ruffino
        Address...................60 Hambalt Road. London. SW4 9EH
        Mobile Number.........+447024057349
        As soon as payment is transfer,You are to forward me the transfer details below
        Sender Name
        Address
        Mtcn Number
        Exact Money sent in Pounds
        As soon as i receive this information,I will ship the next day to your address and i will forward you the shipping tracking details thanks and is nice doing business with you

      --- On Thu, 2/12/09, Ryan wrote:
      From: Ryan
      Subject: Hello again
      To: "angela.ruffino@yahoo.com"
      Date: Thursday, February 12, 2009, 10:17 AM
      My address is: P.O. Box [deleted] Kekaha, Kauai 96752If you need more information just email me back the p.o box address is becauseI'm in the military and the base housing only has a mail center in case youwere wondering about it.Sent from my iPhone

      From: Ryan
      To: Tom Sloper
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 5:06 PM
      Subject: Part4
      Sent from my iPhone
      Begin forwarded message:

        From: Angela Ruffino
        Date: February 13, 2009 2:07:36 AM HST
        To: Ryan
        Subject: Hello again
        Reply-To: angela.ruffino@yahoo.com
        Hello Ryan,
        How are you doing and i hope you are doing fine..Did you get my last email to you and also let me know if you are still interested in buying my table thanks and get back to me urgently

      From: "Ryan
      To: "Tom Sloper"
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 5:09 PM
      Subject: Hello
      > Hey tom thanks for the reply I did the research on the first email I
      > googled the phone number given and it came up as a scam artist.

    I don't follow, Ryan. You looked up the phone number and it said "Scam artist"?

      From: "Ryan
      Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 9:17 PM
      Subject: Hey
      > Yea this morning a number was calling me from a blocked number I was
      > at the gym so when got home I missed like 15 calls from a blocked
      > number. The blocked number called back I answered it was a Nigerian
      > sounding lady she talking just about send the money, the money. Hung
      > the phone up went to my emails had that 4th email in which she states
      > at the end saying send the money imediately. So I then typed the
      > number she gave me into google and it came up in google forum about
      > that phone number being connected with multiple scams.

    Cool! Thanks for sharing, Ryan.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Friday the 13th, February, 2009


    Those confusing joker rules (FAQs 19E & 19F)

    >From: william o
    >Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 1:26 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >My question is if you have all the tiles necesary to make a Mahjong except for two can you use 2 joklers IN PLACE of the two tiles you need either in a concelled hand or an exposed hand.
    >Example -- NN EE WW two jokers in place for SS
    >11 22 33 in a concelled hand or a exposed hand.???
    >which would give you a Mahjong.
    >Thank you
    >Clare O
    >lawman82

    This question is answered on the back of your NMJL card.
    Also read FAQs 19E and 19F at http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.htm
    After you read the FAQs and the back of the card, if you still aren't sure of the answer, give me the wording on the back of your card that is confusing you, and tell me what about that wording is unclear, and maybe I can help clarify.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Friday the 13th, February, 2009


    How does the NMJL card's color-coding work?

    >From: Terry
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 9:01 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I know that
    >NN EE WW SS 11 22 33 (Any 3 Consec. Nos.)
    >would mean that any suit could be used for the 3 consecutive numbers (all numbers the same suit).
    >2008 Singles and Pairs #1
    >NN EE WW SS 11 22 33 (Any 3 Consec. Nos.)
    >I interpreted this to require the 3 consecutive numbers to be bams.
    >Is this correct, or is the interpretation identical to the example above.
    >Thank You
    >Terry

    Hi Terry,
    The Tom Sloper philosophy of how to read color-coding on the NMJL card is expressed in FAQ 19AK. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please bookmark FAQ 19 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 11, 2009


    How does "betting" work when you play "hot wall"?

    >From: SHIFRA aka SHEILA
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We play a hot wall game. The player that was bet on threw a hot tile that was called for Maj.
    >How is the payout handled? Normally the person that threw the hot tile pays for the whole table. However,
    >if that person was BET on –does the Bettor also have to pay the whole table or does the person bet on pay for the bettor as well.
    >Thank you in advance for your time and response.
    >Sheila
    > shifrakm@...

    Hi Sheila,
    To learn how "betting" works in the official rules, read FAQ 19.W(4). You can link to the FAQs above left. Please bookmark FAQ 19 for your future reference.
    But as for "hot wall," read FAQs 14 & 19.Y.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 11, 2009


    Does East pay and receive double?

    From: "Elaine K
    Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:03 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Does East pay and receive double when she either calls Mah Jongg or
    > someone else does?

    Hi Elaine,
    In some forms of mah-jongg, yes. Which kind of mah-jongg do you play? If you don't know which "flavor" your mah-jongg is, you can:
    Look it up in FAQ 2b (the FAQs are above left)
    Or tell me the author of the book you use as your guide (not the title, please - the titles all sound too similar).
    Or tell me the website you use as your guide.

    If you play American mah-jongg (National Mah Jongg League), the important scoring rules are given on the back of the card. You might also want to read FAQs 19.W(1) and 14.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 11, 2009


    To the nines in 2008

    >From: (Lana) looky.lou
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:51 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi, Tom:
    >I had tons of 9's in my rack so I started out to play a quint hand with 9's: example: 1123 11111 11111 (three suits). I then realized that one cannot play 8's or 9's when playing the first quint hand on the 2008 card and I changed my hand. That multiple-number quint hand was possible in previous years.
    >I explained my dilemma after the game was over but one player insisted that I could have used this hand: 7789 99999 99999 (three suits). She kept referring to the hand's description for her reasoning. Everyone in the room told her that we couldn't play 8's or 9's for that particular quint hand. She said as long as one number in the first grouping had at least one 9 the hand was playable.
    >So, who's right?
    >Lana

    Hi Lana,
    Read the parenthetical on the card very carefully. You missed the phrase "Pr & Quints Match" - and read the explanation of this hand in FAQ 16. You know where the FAQs are!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 10, 2009


    Problem with my Kakinuma dealing machine

    From: "nelson j
    Email: flipnaman13 at yahoo dot com>
    Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 6:25 PM
    Subject: Help w/ Kakinuma Automatic Mahjong Table
    >I was hoping if you could point me in the right direction.
    > I purchased a used Kakinuma Auto Mahjong table in November. It has been working fine until last night. As the tiles were stacked and ready to move up. The motor(s) that controls the gears to move the tiles up and down no longer work.
    > I am wondering if anyone has ever run into this issue?
    > Thanks. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    > Nelson
    > New Jersey

    Hi Nelson,
    Too bad you're in New Jersey and not L.A., because (as you can see on the Accessories For Sale board and in FAQ 7f) the only person I know of in this continent who's experienced fixing these things lives here in L.A. You can try emailing him but I don't know he can do much for you long distance. By the way, I left your email address visible (but hopefully not bottable) in case another reader wants to contact you and help you.
    Two other possibilities:
    1. Try contacting Japanese businesses in the area (and try Manhattan too). Hope you can speak Japanese. Maybe folks can direct you to a mahjong group, who can direct you to someone who can fix your machine for you.
    2. Do a search on the Internet. Problem is, the search has to be in Japanese. You can use eigo-navi.com to navigate Japanese language sites. Or you can use BabelFish.yahoo.com and translate any pages you find. But to do the search, you need the words "Kakinuma" and "mahjong" in Japanese. You can copy this and paste into Google (or Google.co.jp):
    Kakinuma 麻雀 (your browser's encoding setting needs to be compatible with Unicode)
    Oh the heck with it. I just pasted that into Google, and came up with:
    http://www.kakinuma-yokohama.com/
    http://www.kakinuma.net/
    http://www.jin.ne.jp/kakinuma/
    So those should get you started. Try eigo-navi and Babelfish, and good luck.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 8, 2009


    From: "The kalins"
    Sent: Monday, January 26, 2009 6:52 AM
    Received: Sunday, February 8, 2009
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I previously made a posting Mentioning that I had created a conversion so
    > that a person could play Mahjongg with 4 sets of standard Double-6 dominoes.
    > The old link was to a direct TXT file. I have since found a nice home to
    > place the rules online in standard html format. I have fixed several errors
    > in the original conversion as well. Here is the link.
    > http://www.pagat.com/invented/stonehenge.html
    > I am in the process of scripting an instructional video for this conversion
    > and will rename the game '4-Pak'. An indication to the need of Four packs of
    > double-6 dominoes to play the game.
    > Please enjoy.
    > Bob.


    Elaine Sandberg's book vs. the 2009 NMJL bulletin, continued

    >From: Nancy
    >Sent: Saturday, February 7, 2009 3:22:44 PM
    >Subject: Re: A Mah Jongg Question
    >Dear Tom Sloper,
    >Thank you for replying so quickly.
    >I've gone to the bulletin board -- and assume by your answer to my question about Sandberg's info -- that it is still correct?
    >Appreciate all of your FAQs (which I had read before sending my question) and Mah Jongg set info -- all very helpful !
    >Hoping for the tiles to be with me, Nancy -- I will look at the bb for and answer. Thanks

    Hi Nancy,
    I pointed you to FAQ 19AF and FAQ 19AM2 so you could see for yourself exactly what the correct rules are. You can link to FAQ 19 above left. Then, after you've read the FAQs, if the way I've stated things in the FAQs is insufficiently explanatory, you can tell me what part of what I wrote is confusing, so I can clarify it for the edification of others who come asking the same question.
    Please understand that the way this website works is that I show you how to fish, and then after that you're supposed to catch your fish by yourself.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 7, 2009


    Elaine Sandberg's book vs. the 2009 NMJL bulletin

    >From: Nancy G
    >Sent: Friday, February 06, 2009 12:06 PM
    >Subject: A Mah Jongg Question
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >My question is about the information on exposures given on page 93 of Elaine Sandberg's 2007 Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg, which states if you make a mistake in an exposure or change your mind, you can correct the mistake or replace the exposure in your hand, as long as you haven't discarded.
    >Is this information still valid? (Information in the recent NMJL bulletin seems to indicate once you have exposed some tiles, you are committed to the exposure.)
    >I and my MJ group appreciate your advice. We use Elaine's book for our rules.
    >Nancy G

    Hi Nancy,
    Sandberg and the 2009 bulletin are not talking about the same thing.

  • Sandberg is talking about what you are permitted to do between taking someone else's discard and discarding one of your own tiles (see rule 60f on page 53 of my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," and also see FAQ 19AF here on my site).

  • The 2009 bulletin is talking about changing your mind, and putting the taken discard back on the table (see rule 60c on page 53 of my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," and also see FAQ 19AM2 here on my site).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 6, 2009


    Please explain a "spoiled hand".

    >From: Christine E.T.
    >Sent: Friday, February 6, 2009 10:50:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Please explain a "spoiled hand". Can a player pick up a tile to add to a pair making a pung, if she has a spoiled hand and therefore does not have a discard? this would add to her score but she can not woo with a spoiled hand.

    Niihau Christine,
    If you look in FAQ 3, you'll see that there are hundreds of mahjong books, by hundreds of authors. And even more websites (FAQ 4b). I don't know which book (by which author), or which website, uses the terminology "spoiled hand." And I don't know which variant you play. As you can see in FAQ 2b, there are nearly 50 known variants! Since you used the word "woo," you clearly play one of the dozens of Chinese variants. But I don't know which.

    So you need to help me help you. Tell me which author wrote your mahjong "bible," or which website you found the phrase "spoiled hand" on.

    Also, I don't know what you mean exactly when you say "pick up a tile to add to a pair." Do you mean "pick up someone's discarded tile, and meld (expose) it with a pair from the hand as a pung"?

    It almost sounds like you're describing a player who has only 12 tiles (rather than the required 13) in the hand, and wants to call a discard to make a pung? If that's what you're asking, whether or not that's allowed depends on which variant you play - and you haven't told me that piece of the puzzle. Standing by...

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 6, 2009


    Does the National Mah Jongg League's use of color coding trump the English language? (continued)

    >From: Mona
    >Sent: Friday, February 6, 2009 5:09:52 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much!

    You're welcome, Mona.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 6, 2009


    My grandfather was the partner of Mr. Babcock, continued

    >From: "lisalethin
    >Sent: Friday, February 6, 2009 5:16:04 AM
    >Subject: Re: mah jongg
    >Hi, Tom -- On reading some of your info, I find there are details about what happened with the patent and Parker Brothers, etc. My aunt just remembered that the "trademark eventually ran out." I decided not to even elaborate on that part because my granddad really didn't have anything to do with the U.S. end of what happened, It has been a lot of fun to do the research. Jelte's Mahjong Cafe seemed like a good place to add the info. -- Lisa

    Hi Lisa,
    The trademark just running out is exactly what I figured. It's been great to hear from you!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 6, 2009


    My grandfather was the partner of Mr. Babcock

    >From: lisalethin
    >Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 4:02 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg
    >Hi, Tom,
    >Since you are an amateur Mah Jongg historian, I thought you might like to see the new web page that Jelte Rep and I put together for his Dutch mahjohngmuseum.nl site under the Mahjong Cafe section.
    >Sincerely, Lisa Lethin
    >http://www.mahjongmuseum.nl/mahjong%20cafe/LethinUSA.html

    Hi Lisa,
    Wow, what a great addition to mah-jongg history! Thanks for sharing the story (and the link).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 5, 2009


    Does the National Mah Jongg League's use of color coding trump the English language?

    From: "Mona
    Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 7:45 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I have 3 different scenarios in which the word "any" appears and would like
    > your clarification please -
    > 1)22 444 44 666 8888 (any 3 suits) 1st two in group is green, second two
    > red, last is blue
    > Question? Can this be done in 2 suits?
    > 2)222 4444 666 8888 (any 2 suits)1st two in group are green, second two are
    > red
    > Question? Can this be done in 1 suit?
    > 3)FF 3333 6666 9999(any 3 suits) FF is blue, 3s are green, 6s are red, 9s
    > are blue
    > Question? Can this be done in 2 suits?
    > I apologize in advance for my lack of clarity in this. Our little group has
    > only been playing a short time and the word "any" is still baffling us!
    > Thanks for any help you may offer!
    > Mona

    This is explained in FAQ 19J.
    http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.htm
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 5, 2009


    Wrong wall was pushed out. Is there a penalty?

    >From: Dorothy
    >Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 2:39 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: in one of our games wrong wall was pushed out. It was not noticed right away. Is there a penalty for this?
    > Thank You
    > Dottie

    Hi Dottie,
    It makes no sense to penalize everybody (note that you said "it was not noticed right away," thus everybody erred).
    Continue until that wall is depleted, then use the other walls in the most logical 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 5, 2009


    Thanks! Next question...

    >From: stacey w
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 8:57:02 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you, Tom I read (and laughed at) your response [comedy of errors thread, below]. It makes a lot of sense.
    >Stacey
    >
    >From: Stacey P. W
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 9:27:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you for your explanation about picking and racking tiles. I totally agree with one allowing a reasonable amount of time for all players to decide on whether he/she wants to call a tile and, for the most part, we play that way. But what would you say constitutes "racking?" Here's the scenario: I picked a tile that I really needed. I quickly put it on the sloping front of my rack, beside its alike brothers and sisters, ready to make that quint I needed, but I hadn't yet taken my hand off of it when another player at my table called the previously discarded tile. She insisted my tile wasn't really in my hand yet since I hadn't let go of it, and insisted that I put it back in the wall. Should I have kept it?
    >Thanks,
    >Stacey

    You're welcome, Stacey.
    As for your new question: sounds to me like you play with a "Yelda." Read my column #387 (click the purple banner atop this page). Of course you'd racked it. It's not an issue of whether you've let go of the tile but of whether or not it touched the sloping front of your rack among its siblings.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 3, 2009


    Thanks for your hanafuda pages

    >From: "joh03804
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 2:45:37 AM
    >Subject: Your Hanafuda Information
    >Hello Tom,
    >I want to thank you for your detailed information about the Hanafuda card game. I recently bought the Club Nintendo Hanafuda cards. I got them on eBay not the English Nintendo site and I ended up getting a set from Japan. I don't know the slightest bit of Japanese so the instructions are quite useless to me. A bit of searching for some instructions online brought me to your sight. The descriptive explanations and effective organization made the game much simpler to understand than the other sites I went on.
    >Thank you,
    >Ashton Johnson

    Hi Ashton,
    I'm glad my hanafuda pages were so helpful to you! (^_^) Thanks for writing, and...
    May the cards be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 3, 2009


    What do we do after this comedy of errors?

    >From: Stacey P. W
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 7:45:23 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >(I hope I can write this so it's understandable.)
    >In our game last night, a player miscalled a tile. The next player picked her tile from the wall. A third player at our table corrected the miscalled tile and the fourth player said, "Oh that was a bam? I need a 2 bam." In the meantime, the player who had picked the tile from the wall was declaring Mah Jongg. Should she have given up her mah-jongg tile and let us back track and let the player who needed the 2 bam take that tile? It would not have given her mah-jongg.
    >Thank you,
    >Stacey W
    >NYC

    Hi Stacey,
    Let's dissect this play by play.

    Player A misNAMED her discard. (The term "miscall" is ambiguous and confusing.)

    Nobody noticed. In other words, everybody at the table made an error. What should have happened is that somebody would tell Player A of the error so Player A could say the name of the discard.

    After nobody noticed the error, play continued. Player B picked a tile from the wall and looked upon it joyously, for lo, it was her holy mah jongg tile. But before she could speak...

    Player C noticed Player A's error and bespoketh it. Don't asketh me why I'm writing in Bible-speak, I got carried away in step 3, carrying on from the word "joyously."

    While Players C and A were discussing the error, and Player D was saying she wanted that tile for exposure, Player B was trying to get her maj announcement in edgewise.

    Let's cut to the chase. The foregoing dissection helped me see this in clear and simple terms.

    As I discussed in FAQ 9 and in my book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," mah-jongg trumps everything.

    In this case, the error wasn't noticed until the next player picked her maj tile. It would be an extremely unhappy eventuality for Player B to have to put her maj tile back. Everybody would then know she was ready for maj, and if play was to continue, at least one player would know what her maj tile is. This is an untenable situation for Player B. The rules do not look kindly upon such situations.

    Once Player B picked her maj tile and said so, everything should stop; the hand is over. Yes, it was an error that resulted in her picking it. But it wasn't solely her error. She should get the tile she picked, and everybody should pay. Note that this "everybody" who now has to pay is the same "everybody" who erred when it wasn't immediately noticed what the discard really was. Including Player D, who wanted the discard for a mere exposure (not for mah-jongg, see FAQ 19AY2), and Player A, who committed the error in the first place.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 3, 2009


    What about a dead player's exposed jokers?

    >From: Fran P
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 5:09:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you go dead on a exposed hand with jokers can another player replace the tile for a joker?

    Fran,
    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 #19P. 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 what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 3, 2009


    Cruise and play

    >From: LI2MARCO@aol.com
    >Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 6:07 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong Cruise Tournament
    >Hi Tom,
    >My name is Linda Galenskas and I am an outside travel consultant with National Discount Cruise Company. Myself and Enid Dairman (Mahjong Tournament Director) are hosting a Mahjong Cruise Tournament Nov. 8 - 14, 2009.
    >It is a 7 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise on the Emerald Princess (roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale, FL). The ports include: Princess Cay, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the Grand Turks. The Tournament will be played over 2 days which are the days at sea. We are offering a discounted cruise fare, waiving the fuel supplement, welcoming each participant with a gift in their stateroom, a private cocktail party, cash prizes, door prizes, entrance giveaways and a $50 shipboard credit (per statement).
    >If you or any of your friends or students are interested, please contact me either by phone (516-356-0949 or 239-642-8568)or e-mail (Li2marco@aol.com).
    >Also, please visit our website for further information at www.mahjongatsea.com
    >Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
    >Regards,
    >Linda Galenskas
    >Outside Travel Consultant
    >National Discount Cruise Co.
    >516-356-0949
    >Li2marco@aol.com

    OK, well, maybe I'll let my readers know about it. (~_^)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 1, 2009


    Zhao Gong Ming and his pot of gold, part 2

    >From: Ticktoc25
    >Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 12:22 PM
    >Subject: Mystery Tiles continued.
    >Hi Tom,
    >In response to your question as to how I discovered the information for the commonly called "Rich man" and "Pot of Gold" tiles being "Zhao Gong Ming" and his "Basin of Treasure" all I can say is that I spent hours and hours of work. After deciphering Quan Yin and the Monkey King, and Liu Hai and the 3 legged toad, I realized that there must be more to the "Rich man" than met the English eye. And frankly it bugged me that I didn't know that the words on the basin were! I will share a bit of what I did.
    >
    >I visited many web sites about Chinese mythology and ideology. My son helped me with Chinese symbols and words. Wikipedia, and Godchecker.com were helpful, as were web sites with pictures and commentary. Once I determined that my tiles were specifically of Daoist (Taoist) origin, I was able to narrow the search down. A book called "Five-Fold Happiness" by Vivien Sung is a good reference, though by the time I discovered this book I had pretty much found out as much as I could. I also went to one of my local Chinese Restaurants and found a person who is fluent in both English and Chinese. He helped me with the translation of the characters on the Basin.
    >
    >What I can say is that, at present, there is no one place that all the information can be found. Only by searching and putting together all the pieces can the answer be discovered. I've enjoyed learning about the Chinese culture and how it has been engraved in our MJ tiles! I'm thinking of writing a book about special MJ tiles so others will be able to discover the rich meaning of their tiles also.
    >
    >Alas, my Chinese friend was unable to help me with my last two tiles, so I am now looking for a Daoist who may be able to help get me started with the meaning of those. I'll let you know what I find out.
    >Ellejai aka LJ
    >
    >PS: I was reading on the MB about a person who had been storing their tiles in a box inside of a plastic bag and the tiles in one tray darkened quite a bit. It is not a good idea to store tiles in a plastic bag (or wrap) unless it is a special "acid free, archival save" type. Archival paper would be the best choice if you must wrap a set to preserve it. Plastic gives off chemicals that can damage items, especially if tightly sealed. It might be why some of her tiles discolored faster that others. I'm not an expert, so don't know if a reaction between two types of plastic can darken the Bakelite/Caitlin tiles or if it was a reaction between the box and the plastics that might have been the problem. Her case looks like it might have a leather cover over the box structure. The lack of air circulation to the leather, may have allowed moisture from the leather to form inside the plastic bag and cause the stain from the leather to penetrate the tiles. Maybe none of the above is correct, but I've seen enough damage in old items to suspect the cause. I once bought a bone set of tiles that had been stored for years and never used. They were in fact still in the original plastic wrap. In that case the plastic of the wrap adhered to the bone and left a shiny residue. Since the set was a fairly cheap one to begin with I wasn't unduly upset, but just as a warning to others, it's better to unwrap any plastic from your sets, plastic or bone, asap.

    Hi Ellejai,
    Wow. So many people come here looking for instant gratification to their mystery flower questions, and are disappointed when I can't help them. Those people don't appreciate that the quest itself can be so rewarding. What fun you had -- what dedication to the quest for knowledge. I think it's a wonderful subject for a book, and I hope that you will write one.

    As for your postscript on plastic degradation, that's good advice too!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 1, 2009


    What's the makeup of a set? Where can I find rules?

    >From: Eunice
    >Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 11:16 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have inherited a mah-jong set from my Great Aunt. As I have not played the game for 50 years I can not remember what tiles are needed to comprise a complete set. It does not completely fill the box it came in, so I wonder if some are missing. Where can I get a list of the full set of tiles so that I can check my set? Also there are no rules of play included. Where can I get that from too please? I would love to play again.
    >Thanks Eunice K.

    Eunice,
    Read the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Link to the FAQs above left.

    Makeup/breakdown of a mah-jongg set - FAQ 7b.
    Different types of sets - FAQ 7a.
    Rules (books) - FAQ 3.
    Rules (websites) - FAQ 4b. But before you can pick the right book or website, you need to know which kind of mah-jongg you played before.
    Identifying a variant - FAQ 2b. You mustn't get a book or website about some other kind of mah-jongg as opposed to the one you knew before. That can be very confusing!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 2, 2009


    Can I declare mah-jongg on a single or to fill a pair? (FAQ 19E3)

    >From: william o
    >Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 11:07 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Mah Jong question-
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you have a South tile or any one tile and you need one more tile to have Ma Jongg can you call it if it is thrown out either in a Concelled hand or and Exp[osed hand???
    >e-mail
    >Lawman82@[deleted]
    >Thank you
    >cCare O

    Hello William,
    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 #19E3. (Even if you don't play American mah-jongg, FAQ 19E3 is the universal answer to this question.)
    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 what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    February 1, 2009


    From: judi@mahjonggfunla.com
    Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 6:47 PM
    Subject: players needed
    We could use some more players at the mah jongg tournament being held at Temple Ner Ami in Camarillo on Sunday, February 22nd. If you need a flyer you can call Clarice Shapiro at 805-987-5825 or you can print a flyer from our website at: www.mahjonggfunla.com
    Judi & Bill
    Mah Jongg Fun L.A.


    Zhao Gong Ming and his pot of gold

    >From: "Ticktoc25
    >Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 7:56:59 AM
    >Subject: Mystery Tiles cont.
    >Hi Tom,
    >I've researched the tile commonly called the "Rich man" and "pot of gold". The Rich man is really the Daoist god of wealth, Zhao Gong Ming. In one hand he is holding a gold ingot and in the other a magical iron whip. The magical whip is usually depicted in the form of a rú yì scepter which carries the meaning of "everything you wish". He is usually surrounded by jewels, gold, pearls, coral etc.

    >The "pot of gold" more correctly should be referred to a "basin filled with treasure". Three Chinese characters are often present on the basin. The first one means "Basin" or "tray", the second means "Treasure" and the third translates as the word "together". ("Basin and treasure together".) The basin of treasure is filled with 3 gold ingots. In China ingots look like a rounded hat with a ball in it's center. Three of these ingots together carry the meaning of "prosperity". The basin is also contains some of the other treasures mentioned above.
    >I still have my number 3 and 4 "flower" tiles to interpret, but all in all my set seems to have a carver who had a Daoist background.
    >LJ

    Wow, LJ!
    Good job! So where did you find this information? Future seekers will want to know.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 30, 2009


    Can you do two moves?

    >From: Mary J.
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 6:09 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you do two moves to make the MJ? The first one would be to call an exposed tile which would be part of a pair and then expose the pair with a third tile while you then take an exposed joker which will make the MJ and then arrange the tiles in the required set sequence?
    >For example you are working on Winds and Dragons, the fifth one. You have in your hand an 8 dot and 3-8 dots and a joker are exposed by another player. You have 2 Easts and 1 West and 9 - 2s with an 8 dot. The needed West goes down, you call the West and expose it with one of your 2s and then you exchange your 8 dot for the exposed joker and then you rearrange your tiles to the required set. Is this permitted?

    Hi Mary J., you wrote:

    Can you do two moves to make the MJ?
    Let me put it this way. There are numerous things you are able to do, during your turn. You can call a discard (OR pick from the wall), then you can redeem multiple jokers, then you can discard (OR declare mah-jongg). So the answer, it would appear, is "yes." Right?

    The first one would be to call an exposed tile which would be part of a pair
    No. Never. Read the rules on the back of the card.

    and then expose the pair with a third tile
    What? If you did that, then it isn't a pair. It's a pung.

    then take an exposed joker which will make the MJ and then arrange the tiles in the required set sequence?
    Only if you don't do anything illegal before that. Read the posts entitled "Do tile positions invalidate a win," below.

    and 3-8 dots and a joker are exposed by another player. You have 2 Easts and 1 West and 9 - 2s with an 8 dot. The needed West goes down, you call the West and expose it with one of your 2s
    Wrong. You can never meld two different kinds of tile.

    What you should do instead is ...
    say "MAH JONGG!"
    Put up all your tiles.
    Take the W and put it with your other W.
    Redeem the joker with your 8 Dot.
    Organize your tiles, if they aren't already viewer-friendly.
    Tell everybody what hand you made and how much to pay you: "It's Winds-Dragons, the 2nd hand from the bottom. I got the joker myself, so it's fifty all."

    Get it? Keep it simple! Don't complicate it with all those extra steps you were thinking of doing. That'll get you called dead.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 29, 2009

    [Note: Reader Ellen questioned my reply to Mary J., and even contacted the League to get a ruling on this, and it turns out my reply to Mary J. was wrong. See the April 30 Q&A from Ellen. You probably got here by clicking a link to "older Q&A postings," so you can just click the Back arrow on your browser to access the April 30 entry. Look for the subject "Can I do two questions? (part 2)" - Tom]


    Question from strategy column - May 26, 2003

    >From: Simon Baker
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:54 AM
    >Subject: Question from strategy column - May 26, 2003 (Mon.) - Column #51. Chinese Official
    >Hi Tom, in your weekly strategy column you wrote this a few years back, concerning what tile to throw when you're waiting for a pair in order to be able to call Mahjong.:
    >>It was pretty much a coin toss which tile he kept, waiting for its mate for mah-jongg. A silly beginner situation, Earl knew, but he was enjoying the consternation he was causing his opponents. He threw 6B. >That was his second mistake.
    >I have only been playing for a very short time but In this situation i guess i would normally lok at the discards and see if there we any 6B or E discards to see if picking one would be morely likely that the other. Apart from that how would you decide which to throw. More importantly how do you avoid getting in the 'silly beginner situation' described in this hand? Do you think it is good strategy to try to get your pair sorted earlier in the game? I was wondering your thoughts, i hope you don't mind me emailing, i'm trying to learn. I have ordered a couple of books but his issue doesn't sem to come up in any of them.
    >Thanks,
    >Simon

    Hi Simon, you wrote:

    i guess i would normally lok at the discards and see if there we any 6B or E discards to see if picking one would be morely likely that the other. Apart from that how would you decide which to throw.
    You're describing an "offensive" approach (which tile is an opponent more likely to discard). But don't forget the "defensive" aspect as well (which tile is more dangerous to discard). And don't forget the strategic/analytical aspect (which tile gives me more ways to go), not that that one counts in this instance.

    how do you avoid getting in the 'silly beginner situation' described in this hand?
    By preserving the pair, and not punging everything.

    Do you think it is good strategy to try to get your pair sorted earlier in the game?
    Yep. Pretty sure I wrote that into FAQ 8 (the FAQs are above left).

    I have ordered a couple of books but his issue doesn't sem to come up in any of them.
    That column was about MCR (aka Chinese Official) - did you order books on that variant? I don't recommend confusing yourself with multiple variants when starting out (since that's the way I started learning, and got quite confused by 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 29, 2009


    Reverse joker redemption

    >From: Rona G
    >Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 7:33:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >i am playing a jokerless hand (singles and pairs); i need one more 7 bam; a pung of 7 bams is exposed; i pick a joker; may i exchange the joker for the exposed 7 bam and call MJ?
    >Rona

    Hi Rona,
    You can find the answer to this question, and many other questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19AL. 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 what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 29, 2009


    Question about "cold wall"

    >From: Susan M
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 1:19:06 PM
    >Subject: Cold Wall
    >Hi there!
    >Question.....When play is down to the "cold wall" , we play that you cannot call for a discarded tile for mah jongg....you must draw it yourself. Is that correct?
    >In doing it that way, if a player calls for a discarded tile to complete a kong (not for mah jongg), then replaces a joker from another player's rack and uses that joker for another exposure to give her mah jongg, is that legal?
    >Thanks for your help!
    >Susan

    Hi Susan,
    I'm really sorry, but I can't tell you how your rules are supposed to work. They're YOUR rules, and I don't know them. You have 3 choices:
    Stop using your cold wall rule. Play by the official rules instead. Then I can answer questions until I'm blue in the face! (Actually, the FAQs already answer most of the frequently asked questions, so once you read them, you probably wouldn't even have to ask anything. The FAQs are above left, of course...)
    Go back to your group. Do what's recommended in FAQ 14. Discuss among yourselves how your table rules should work. Then you wouldn't need to ask me anything! Not that I would be able to help you, because - sorry - I can't. I don't know how your special rules are supposed to work.
    Stay with the status quo. Let confusion continue to reign. Read FAQ 19Y. I can't answer questions about unofficial table rules beyond what's in the FAQs.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 28, 2009


    What if she's not dead? And what about the bettor?

    >From: urssam
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 12:48 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg question
    >We are 5 players.
    >One of the players de ides to challenge tiles that are put out. lShe claims they are incorrect. The player who is "a bettor" tells the player at the table that she is corr3ct in challenging the hand.
    >It turns out that the challenger made an incorrect chllenge and the hand displayed was actually correct.
    >Does the challenger have to pay a penalty for challenging...and does the"bettor"also pay a penalty for making a comment to the player on what should be done?...And what is the penalty?
    >Please answer As Soon As Possible.
    >Thank you:
    >Ursula

    Read FAQs 19AA and 19AB at http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.htm
    The bettor is absolutely not permitted to comment on the play while it is in progress. If she opens her mouth during play, her bet should be invalid, in my opinion.
    If you want an official ruling, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the NMJL (their address is on the card).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 27, 2009


    When dora = kan dora

    >From: Paola B
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:26:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I cannot find an answer to my question in your wonderful website, hopefully
    >you'll be able to clarify this for me:
    >In a recent hand of Riichi Mahjong, both the dora and the kan dora tile were
    >the same (say 5 of characters). When scoring, if there is one 6 of
    >characters in the winning hand, should you count it as one yaku or two?
    >There were different opinions on the table, some saying that the dora tiles
    >just indicate which tiles will count as a yaku (so the kan dora would have
    >no effect whatsoever), and some thinking that each dora tile should be
    >scored separately.

    Ohayo gozaimasu Paola,
    When the dora and kan dora indicators are the same tile, then a dora tile in the hand is worth double double (2 fan, not 1 fan).

    A Japanese player, upon winning the hand above, would name the yaku in his hand: "tanyao, sanshoku, dora ni..." In otherwords, the single 6-crak in the hand is worth two dora (two fan). One fan because of the dora indicator, and a second fan because of the kan dora indicator.

    Note the difference between "yaku" and "fan."

    A "yaku" is any element of the hand that affects the hand's score, that also permits the hand's fan count to qualify towards winning. (Yaku = "score element.") Dora do not qualify the hand for winning, but they do double the score if other score elements give you the win.

    A "fan" is a "double." A single yaku can be worth 1 fan or 2 fan or 5 fan or 6 fan or "yakuman."

    So it's a misnomer to say that a dora in the hand is worth "one yaku or two" - it's worth a fan - it doubles the value of the hand - unless as in this case, there are additional identical dora indicators, then it doubles the hand twice (is worth two fan).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 27, 2009


    恭喜發財!
    2009 is the Year of the Ox!

    (Click to see your New Year's card.)
    Tom Sloper
    January 26, 2009


    Newsgroup post conclusion

    From: "Mayer Goldberg"
    Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 11:37 PM
    Subject: Re: please help! -- not yet new to mahjong...
    > Thank you very much! I think I found what I'm looking for in Mah Jong
    > Tradition...
    > Mayer
    >
    > On Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 8:25 AM, Tom Sloper wrote:
    >> "Mayer" wrote at rec.games.mahjong:
    >>> What I am looking for is
    >>> a computer game that would let me be one of 4 players, and have the
    >>> computer fill in for the remaining 4. I want to play standard Mahjong
    >>> (Chinese, not American). Can anyone recommend a program, and possibly
    >>> give me some tips on how to begin?
    >>
    >> Yes. Someone can.
    >> Begin with the newsgroup's FAQs. FAQ 5 lists computer programs, and breaks
    >> them down by type (vs. people or vs. AI), and OS.
    >> As is clearly stated in the FAQs, you can find FAQ 5 at
    >> http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq05.htm
    >> Tom Sloper - Game Production & Design Consultancy
    >> - Sloperama Productions. Services for game developers and publishers;
    >> "Making Games Fun, And Getting Them Done."
    >> http://www.sloperama.com/business.html
    >> - Helpful information and answers for game industry hopefuls.
    >> http://www.sloperama.com/advice.html.
    >> - Information and bulletin boards about the game of mah-jongg.
    >> http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    >> Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind" - the definitive book on
    >> mah-jongg East & West


    Thank You

    >From: Theresa H
    >Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 8:19 AM
    >Subject: Thank You
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >Thank you for freely sharing your vast wealth of information on the game of Mah Jongg through your website. I have utilized it time and again as I continue to, apparently, just scratch the surface of this fascinating game.
    >Maintaining and updating a website is a persistent job and, from what I can tell, just one aspect of your many talents.
    >Thank you for being a resource for all who have an interest in the game, its history and the lovely objects created for its play.
    >Regards,
    >Terri H

    You're very kind, Terri. Happy Year of the Ox to you, and of course...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 25, 2009


    Who pays double? (FAQ #19AN)

    >From: Jessica D
    >Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 1:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you take a joker from someone and make mah jong does everyone owe you double the amount?
    >Melissa

    Read FAQ 19AN.
    http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.htm
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 23, 2009


    Oops, I made a mistake - what now? (Part 2)

    [Oops, I posted the wrong answer before, to Weezie's 2nd question earlier this morning (scroll down to see). I misstated her question, so gave her the wrong answer. Here's the question she actually asked (reworded, paraphrased, for clarity), and the right answer.]

    I've misnamed a tile I didn't mean to throw (I threw something I didn't mean to throw, and I said the name of a different tile). It's on the discard floor and I've taken my hand off it -- can I take it back?
    Read Frequently Asked Question #19AY. To gain deeper understanding of the answer, also read FAQs 19A & 19B.

    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 23, 2009


    And how much is mine worth?

    >From: ernie
    >Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 7:02:34 AM
    >Subject: Vintage Mah Jong Appraisal (Q&A Bulletin Board)
    >Your evaluation of this set would be very much appreciated.
    >This set consists of genuine hand painted Catalin tiles. (Royal Depth
    >Control, A & L Mfg. Co., Inc., N.Y.)
    >It was purchased about 1960 and is in very good condition.
    >The leather-like case has a key, 2 wooden trays and 5 Bakelite racks.
    >There are 165 Butterscotch Colored Tiles (1 1/4" x 7/8” x 7/16”)
    >36 Bams (1-9)
    >36 Craks(1-9)
    >36 Dots (1-9)
    >12 Dragons
    >16 Winds
    >20 Flowers (1-4)
    >3 Extra Flowers (1)
    >1 Extra Flower (4)
    >4 Jokers
    >1 Blank

    Ernie,
    The fact that your tile has only 4 manufactured jokers reduces its value for a player who wants to use the set to play modern American mah-jongg (which requires 8 jokers now). But since the set contains lots of extra flowers, it'd be easy to find 4 flowers to sticker. You can sticker it yourself before selling it, or let the buyer assume that responsibility. More on that in a second.

    About the value - it's all about condition. Since you didn't give me all the information I asked for in FAQ 7h, and since you didn't capitalize "very good" (you didn't say "Very Good"), I have to assume you didn't see what "Very Good" condition actually means. So I don't know the condition of your set. The set is missing dice and chips, so it isn't complete. And it's missing a key (those cases always came with two, I believe).

    This is one of the more popular types of sets, even when it is from before the jokers/flowers stabilized at 8/8. So the set (with the noted flaws) could be worth a couple hundred dollars, maybe, give or take a couple Andrew Jacksons (depending on economy fluctuations, how good a sales pitch you write, what other sets are selling on eBay at the time, etc.).

    If you were to sticker the jokers yourself, especially if you scanned your manufactured jokers to make a complete set of consistent-looking jokers, and then sell the set on eBay, you might run afoul of "Ms. X," the lady who thinks she's the only person in the United States (maybe even the world) who's allowed to do that. Read FAQ 7T (above left) and column 386 (purple banner above). Join the eBay Mah Jongg group, too - join the group of "hoodlums" who have been doing battle with Ms. X.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 23, 2009


    What's It Worth?

    >From: Laurie and Grace W
    >Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 5:11:18 AM
    >Subject: What's it Worth Valuation
    >Hi Tom,
    >Wonderful website, would appreciate if you will answer my queries on this set that I acquired.
    >I have a 1923 #122 Mah-Jongg Midget Set according to Mah Jong Museum's website.
    >Contents - 144 tiles, includes 4 blanks and 8 flowers 1/8" thick cardboard
    > 4 tiny bone dice, the 1 is an indented circle and the 4 is red and they are really tiny
    > 2 racks, 16" long, unpainted wood
    > Babcock red book of rules, 9th printing June 1923
    >Condition - tiles are like new, clean, the Redbook is excellent except it has a red pencil scribble on page 5
    >you can still see the writing thru it, the racks are a light wood that has darkened with age.
    >Tile dimensions - 7/8" x 1-1/4" x 1/8" thick
    >Tiles how many - Basic 136 tile set is complete plus 8 flowers
    >Container - decorated cardboard box with lift off cover, a little worse for wear with corner tears, smudges, paint loss from stickers.
    >Included is two cardboard wheels marked with numbers 1 to 12, one has a hole in centre. Not sure what to call this or if it is part of the original set.
    >My first questions would be am I missing anything? the MahJong Museum #122 states a Spinner with Peg that I don't appear to have and states dice but no quantity, and 4 racks. The box only mentions with racks and Babcock rule book.
    >Second question would be how much is it worth?
    >Third question would be are they hard to come by? I have not been looking long but this set hasn't showed up on eBay.
    >Pictures are attached, hope they are in the right file type and size.
    >Thanks, Grace

    Hi Grace, you asked:

    am I missing anything?
    I am not an expert on the exact contents of every type of set ever manufactured. Jim May and CHarli are the ones who are the experts on that sort of thing.

    MahJong Museum #122 states a Spinner with Peg that I don't appear to have
    So I guess you're missing pegs, because your photo shows that you have two spinner discs in your set. And your description confirms this.

    and states dice but no quantity
    You have four of them. I doubt that set came with five or more dice from the manufacturer.

    4 racks.
    You said you only have 2? Then you're missing 2.

    how much is it worth?
    I don't remember how much I paid for mine, but it was probably less than $60. With your set missing 2 racks, missing spinner pegs, and having a flawed booklet, probably less than $50.

    are they hard to come by? I have not been looking long but this set hasn't showed up on eBay.
    Since I have one of these too, I'd say it isn't "rare," but that doesn't mean it would be easy to go out and find one. Watching on eBay for a couple months without seeing one is not an indicator of rarity. I'm not quite sure how to gauge difficulty of acquisition for you.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 23, 2009


    Oops, I made a mistake - what now?

    >From: "weeziejen
    >Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 6:23:58 AM
    >Subject: Discarding a tile
    >Is my hand dead if I discard a tile before I draw one? (I'm not east, I just forgot to draw).
    >Weeziejd

    >From: "weeziejen
    >Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 6:27:16 AM
    >Subject: misnaming a tile
    >if I discard a tile (even a joker) miscall it, take my hands off it, then realize I made a mistake, can I take that tile (joker) back by saying "oops, I made a mistake?" (I don't think so, this is a question that came up at our game yesterday).
    >Weeziejen

    Hi Weezie, you asked two frequently asked questions

    Is my hand dead if I discard a tile before I draw one?
    This is answered on the back of the card. Please always check the back of your card before emailing me a question.

    [Paraphrased] Can I change my mind about a discard and take it back?
    You need to bookmark FAQ 19. When you encounter a question about the rules of American mah jongg, always look on the back of the card first. Then, always look in the FAQs before emailing me a question. Not just FAQ 19, but also FAQs 8, 9, 13a, 14, and 16. In this instance, you have asked Frequently Asked Question #19B.

    [Note: Oops, I made a mistake too. I mis-paraphrased Weezie's 2nd question, so gave her an incomplete answer - correction was posted later the same day. Scroll up to see Part 2 of this thread.]

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 23, 2009


    I can't find the info about how "future" rules are supposed to work

    >From: Mahala
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 8:41:20 PM
    >Subject: Re. Future on wall
    >Some of my friends play with a future on the wall.After the Charlston each takes a tile and puts it on the wall.I don't see any rules about this and how to exchange.tiles when a player calls a tile to expose a pung kong etc.
    > thank you

    Aloha Mahala,
    That's because your friends haven't written their rules down for you. Read Frequently Asked Questions #s 19R & 14. 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 what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this question. Mahalo!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 21, 2009


    How do we deal with a suspected cheater, part 3

    >From: Joan
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 11:27:05 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom,
    >Thanks so much for the additional follow up to my question on cheating- I will alert the other players to watch her wall! I also read the link re: catching the guy who was cheating at the tournament- interesting- the only similar thing I remember hearing about is to hide the joker tiles under your rack then retrieve when you push out the rack... seems too obvious to me, but I guess if the other players get very chatty at the table, or if they are very serious and never look up, it could be done...
    >Your site is wonderful- your columns, questions and answers, everything is super! You have helped me so often. When I needed info, I just go right to Tom, and start browsing. I always find the help needed. Thanks so much,
    >Joan
    >PS: Will let you know if we catch that witch in the act!

    Cool, Joan.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 21, 2009


    How do we deal with a suspected cheater, part 2

    >From: Joan
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 11:44 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >Wow! That was quick! You really do respond within a few hours!
    >As per your suggestion, I read the FAQ 19AP, and the answer is yes, we do roll the dice every time.
    >Joan

    Hi Joan,
    Sometimes I respond even quicker. (^_^)

    OK, so if you roll dice when dealing, then you have to do a few things. I wouldn't say anything to her, but try these:
    When shuffling the tiles, make sure to include all the tiles near her in the shuffle. Sweep your hands through the tiles at her side of the table, move all the tiles away from her. Do that early in the shuffle, and again just prior to her beginning wall-building (especially before she starts building either of the ends of her wall).

    Count the stacks in her wall. There should be 19 stacks in front of her (assuming your table doesn't use a "tail"). Don't let her see you counting them - count them with your eyes only. Count the stacks when the initial wall is built, and later on when the wall is full and lined up behind her rack.
    One trick is to know how long the wall should be when lined up along a rack. Most racks are not long enough for 19 stacks. Gauge the length of her wall by checking both ends of her wall. The left end of her wall (her left, not necessarily yours) should butt up against the rack end-plate (which most racks have), and make sure that the right end of her full wall stops at the same place a full wall ends on everyone else's rack.

    Step 1 above might reduce the number of jokers she gets all by itself. If she says something or gives you funny looks, just say "I want to make sure we shuffle the tiles really well this time!" It's a reasonable desire that she can't argue against. I wouldn't say "you get so many jokers you must be cheating, you witch," but if she says "I get the feeling you think I might be cheating," then that opens the door for you to say "you're so lucky with jokers, I want some of that luck too!" And of course you say that with a friendly conspiratorial smile. (You only suspect she might be cheating -- you don't have proof.)

    Step 2 can be a bit tricky. You have to count with your eyes, and not just once. And if you ever thought you counted too few stacks, you have to be positive before reaching any conclusions. But if you're sure you've identified a pattern of her having too few stacks in her wall, you can talk to the other players between games, and ask them to count her stacks too. Do this without alerting her that counting is going on and that she is suspected of cheating. (You only suspect she might be cheating -- you don't have corroborated proof.)

    If you ever found a pattern of too few stacks in her wall, or anything else that indicates a high probability (or positive proof) of cheating, I wouldn't bother making a formal accusation. She'd only deny it. Just boot her out of the group and never play with her again. Read my July 1, 2007 column (column 325). Click the purple banner above or go to http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/column325.htm - the story of how a cheater was caught at the Open European Mahjong Championship in Copenhagen should be enlightening.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 21, 2009


    How much is it worth, part 2

    >From: Rich and Evelyn
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 9:20 AM
    >Subject: Thanks for your incredibly quick reply post RE: Like many others ... looking to value a mahjongg set
    >Thanks for your light speed reply post, Tom.
    >Evelyn

    You're welcome.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 21, 2009


    How do we deal with a suspected cheater?

    >From: Joan
    >Cc: Helen
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 8:36 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Dear Tom
    >We suspect a woman in our (American version) club of cheating. No one can figure it out. She (consistently) achieves hands with 3-4-5 jokers, lots of quint hands. We already know that she likes to discard without announcing the discard, or says it very softly, so we are on to that little trick... but how can she possibly stack jokers into her hand? No one is that lucky!! And by the way, we are not playing for money at this club, because the club meets at a senior center funded by the county we live in. Thanks so much for your help...
    >Thanks so much,
    >Joan

    Hi Joan,
    So tell me: Do you roll the dice to begin each deal? Read FAQ 19AP. (The FAQs are above left.)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Obama Inauguration Day, 2009


    How much is it worth?

    >From: Rich and Evelyn
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 11:28 AM
    >Subject: Like many others ... looking to value a mahjongg set
    >Hello, I’ve been looking online for sources in order to see if an old mahjongg set we have is worth enough that we should add it to our insurance rider (I suspect not). Your web site and Jim May’s museum web site came up as the most knowledgeable. We would be appreciative if you would steer me to someone who can do a rough appraisal. We’d be glad to pay a fee.
    >I went through answers to the questionnaire you have on your web page (attached), and then stumbled on the right page at Jim May’s Mah Jong Museum web site. The box and tiles are very similar to his #282 traditional Chinese set (pdf of that web page in our web space). Also took a few photos and posted them in our web space at: http://www.weissguys.net/Mahjongg We can take more useful photos easily.
    >We’ve had lots of enjoyment both with our physical sets (we play with a plastic set, maybe too careful of this antique set …) and your Shanghaii games. Thanks for designing the game!
    >Cordially,
    >Evelyn
    >Attached: Weiss_MahjonggDescription_20090120.doc (32.3KB)

    Send me the description within the body of the email (not as an attached document).
    Send me the photos as attachments to the email (not as a link).
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Obama Inauguration Day, 2009


    >From: Rich and Evelyn
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 5:53 PM
    >Subject: Thanks, here is a re-run RE: Like many others ... looking to value a mahjongg set
    >Thanks, Tom. Will do that right now.
    >Evelyn
    >SET AGE-DETERMINATION CHECKLIST:
    >1. Write a factual detailed list of all the contents of your set. Describe all the contents, listing all dice, chips, racks, etc. If you do not know what to call the pieces, see our FAQ 7d.
    >Unvarnished wooden box 9.5 inches wide x 4.75 inches high x 6.5 inches deep with a vertical slide in front (see photo for painted kanji) and top brass handle. Front slide is bleached from sitting in the sun in our desert home, so you can see the grain easily. Fairly hard wood with a fine but pronounced grain. Very simple construction is pinned corners and simple edge dovetails, zero nails other than two brads holding on the top handle. My guess on the wood is walnut or golden oak.
    >The box and tiles are very similar to #282 on the mahjongmuseum.com web page, including the same character on the front slide.
    >Slide opens up to reveal a large bottom drawer containing all but four tiles (we’ve always kept four of the invisible dragons in a stick drawer so the big drawer wouldn’t stick) stacked four deep. Four small upper drawers hold the sticks, dice, winds and mingg. Interior drawer pulls are silver-colored polished metal. No label or any indication of manufacturer. Large drawer appears to have been re-glued at some point (visible glue at interior corners).
    >148 tiles (see photos) – appear to be bone and bamboo, overall 1.2 inches x .86 inches by .5 inches, bone portion is .125 inches plus dovetail depth
    >8 sticks 3.5 inches long (5 red dots each end)
    >36 sticks 3.0 inches long (red dot each end)
    >36 sticks 2.75 inches long (8 black dots each end)
    >40 sticks 2.5 inches long (2 black dots each end)
    >4 winds and mingg
    >4 tiny dice
    >2. If the set contains any paper materials, like an instruction booklet or scoring card, write the title, author's name (if any), and date (if any) of those materials.
    >No paper materials.
    >3. What are the tiles made of? (See our FAQ 7c.)
    >Tiles appear to be bone dovetailed into bamboo. Most show the grain and uneven darkening your web page associates with bone. Sticks, dice, mingg and winds appear to be bone, same thought.
    >4. Describe what you know about when the set was made or purchased, if you know. Describe the history of the set to the best of your knowledge. See our FAQ 11 before you make any unsupportable claims (such as "this set is over a hundred years old!" or "this set is from the Qing Dynasty!"); the knowledgeable collectors can see through claims that are ignorant of the actual history of the game.
    >We purchased the set from an antique shop in 1979 (Northern New Jersey) and have no history for it.
    >5. What are the dimensions of the tiles? Use either inches or metric (one or the other, not both - doesn't matter which; just be precise). Height, width, depth. If the tiles are bone & bamboo, give thickness of the bone portion. (Same goes for ivory & bamboo tiles.)
    >See dimensions above, please.
    >6. How many tiles are there in the set? Your best bet is to lay out the tiles on a table in 4 rows of identical tiles (as is done in our FAQ 7a), then you can just multiply and arrive at the number. And take a picture while you're at it. Tell potential buyers or appraisers an exact breakdown (you can't just say "all the tiles" or "it's complete" or "148 tiles" or "156 tiles" - you have to break it down. How many flowers, how many jokers, and are the basic 136 - suits, winds, dragons - all present?).
    >148 tiles (please see photos). There are 1 to 9 of bamboo, circles, winds and dragons plus four more invisible dragons.
    >7. What kind of container does the set come in? If it's wood, is it one of those flat boxes with a sliding top, or is it one of those squarish boxes with drawers, and if so how many drawers? Does the container have any clear signs of age?
    >Please see detail in first question above – yes, the wooden box appears to have darkened over the years (before we got it, we play with a plastic set and just admire this one).
    >8. Which kind of craks are in this set -- the older kind or the later kind? Take a picture to provide to the appraiser.
    >Please see tile photos – I’d judge by the 5 to be the older style since ours seem to be very similar to your example.
    >9. Provide a picture of the One Bams. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which part of China the set came from.
    >Please see tile photos.
    >10. Provide a picture of the dragons too. These tiles can sometimes tell a lot about which era of mah-jongg history the set came from.
    >Please see tile photos.
    >11. And provide a picture of the flowers/seasons.
    >Please see tile photos.
    >12. How many jokers (if any) does the set have?
    >There are no jokers.
    >"When you email me, I own it." When you email me for a free mah-jongg set age appraisal, you thereby give me your implied consent to publish your descriptions and photos on this website, and to use the photos in the FAQs if they depict some unusual feature. If that is not acceptable to you, then the evaluation will not be free. Email to inquire about pricing. I give free information only in this public forum.
    >Thanks, we understand the limitations and appreciate what you do.

    Hi Evelyn,
    You didn't tell me the condition of all the parts of the set (as requested in FAQ 7h), so I have to go by the photos alone.

    The set appears to be in Fine or Very Good condition (not sure which); it's apparently complete in all respects except it's missing the paper manual. Assuming the set originally came with one, of course. (Most of them did back then.)

    The tile designs are fairly ordinary. The tiles appear to be high quality (I didn't see a lot of Haversian system or stains or discoloration).

    It shows all the hallmarks of being a regular 1920s or 1930s set. Nothing much special about it that I can tell. I don't think it's particularly necessary to insure it. I'd be surprised if someone would pay $200 for it. If I was you, I wouldn't accept less than $100 for it. But the offers or bids you'd get would probably be mostly for less, especially in this economy.

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Obama Inauguration Day, 2009


    Book says you can't pass or discard flowers??

    >From: Patricia
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 11:01:02 AM
    >Subject: flowers..discard
    >I looked on your q and a and did not see this q.
    >I just got a call from some friends play MJ and someone came up with a line
    >from a MJ instruction book saying that you can't pass or discard flowers.
    >I had not heard of this and we don't play this way..frankly it does not make
    >sense to me. Could you give me some insight?
    >thanks..you are the best!
    >Peeb

    Hello Peeb,
    Since you mentioned "passing," I assume you play American/NMJL mah-jongg. If I'm wrong, then you need to tell me what kind of mah-jongg you play.
    My guess is that your friend is quoting something from either:
    An out-of-date book, or
    A book about some other form of mah-jongg (not the form that you play).
    There are only three books that accurately describe the existing rules of American/NMJL mah-jongg (they're listed in FAQ 3, above left). If it's some other book (ANY other book except one of those three books), then your friend shouldn't be using it as any sort of playing guide for today's American/NMJL mah-jongg.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Obama Inauguration Day, 2009


    Do tile positions invalidate a win? (part 2)

    >From: Gretchen
    >Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009 7:15:51 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player declared MahJongg, but the tiles exposed did not match any hand on the card. Player was asked what hand she was playing. She realized that she had placed a joker in the wrong group and then moved it to where it should have been. Would this be considered “MahJongg in error,” which the NMJL rules say means she is declared dead? Or would this correction be allowed and her MahJongg accepted?

    Hi Gretchen,
    Someone else asked this exact same question yesterday. I assume you play with Pam? Please scroll down and see the answer I gave her yesterday. If you want an official ruling, of course, you'll have to send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the National Mah Jongg League (their address is on the card).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 19, 2009


    Weekly Strategy Col. #393

    >From: keating02
    >Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2009 6:04 PM
    >Subject: Weekly Strategy Col. #393
    >I am a fairly new player and I need some clarification on Example #8.
    >You indicate that for 369 #5 there are 8 naturals.
    >I have tried hard but can only find 7. I do not count the 3 Bam because the Pungs have to be of the same suit.
    >So I am assuming you are counting the 3-6-9 craks (that's 5 naturals) and the 3 dots (2 naturals).
    >If that is correct then I would discard the 3 Bam.
    >Thank you for your time and thoughts.
    >Keating

    Quite right, Keating.

    I have tried hard but can only find 7.
    Yep. The number of naturals in that example for that hand is indeed 7. Good eye! I've fixed that, thanks to you.

    I would discard the 3 Bam.
    Or 9D. So you're killing the Singles & Pairs hand, then. Sounds like a fine plan to me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 18, 2009


    Tell me anything about my set, part 3

    >From: Harriet
    >Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2009 4:43:42 PM
    >Subject: From Harriet Kader-Speth
    >Here are 3 pictures of my ooold set and one picture of the one that my grandfather got at a pawn shop in the 40's. You can see how dark some of the tiles got since I looked at them a few years ago. I keep them in the old box and that is in a plastic bag so it is odd that just one of the 4 trays turned darker. In the newer set there are 152 tiles but my mother put polish on some flowers to make them jokers. Also there are 6 extra tiles that are shown. The money, round with square holes, is kept in a kidskin bag. Again I would appreciate any information you might have about the sets. All my life I thought the tiles were ivory, which made them so special. I think my mom, who has passed, also thought she had ivory tiles. She played Mah Jongg at least once a month for about 40 years starting with her friends as young women and then playing in their slips with fans on during menopause which was pretty funny to see. Thank you for this wonderful web site.
    >Your message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:
    >100_0300
    >100_0301
    >100_0302
    >tiles
    >Note: To protect against computer viruses, e-mail programs may prevent sending or receiving certain types of file attachments. Check your e-mail security settings to determine how attachments are handled.

    Hi Harriet,
    As I recall, your original question was "how old is it." My memory is sometimes unreliable, however, and I'm too lazy to scroll down and see what the actual question was. Also, you sent me photos of two sets, so I guess I have to tell how old they both are.

    The plastic tiles in both these sets could have been made anytime in the 1930s, 1940s, or 1950s. The fact that one set shows two flower tiles which have been painted red indicates that that set was used to play American mahjong sometime around 1960-62 when the NMJL required 2 jokers. As I wrote in the "How Old Is It" FAQ, Column #311 (purple banner above) has a table showing how many flowers and jokers the NMJL required, and in what years. I can't tell from the photo how many flowers there actually are in that 2-joker set (or how many tiles are painted red in that set -- there might be more than 2). You said that set has 152 tiles, but I don't know how many of them are jokers and how many are flowers, since you didn't present that information in this email.

    In 1960-62, the NMJL required 14 flowers and 2 jokers. But that's the only time period when exactly 2 jokers were required.

    The best I can tell from these photos, the set with the painted jokers is probably 49 years old or more.

    The other set, with the two differently colored tiles, appears to be cobbled together with tiles from two different sets - I find it hard to believe that the darker ones used to be the exact same color as the lighter ones. But, if you say so! Maybe some of the tiles were more exposed to the elements than the others, for an extended period of time.

    This set doesn't appear to be Bakelite or catalin - these tiles are less translucent and less glossy than the tiles in the other set. Maybe casein. Have you read FAQ 7c?

    You also wrote:

    >Again I would appreciate any information you might have about the sets.

    Again, read FAQ 7p. I don't do "any information" requests. You have to ask specific questions.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 18, 2009


    Do tile positions invalidate a win?

    From: "Pamela
    Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2009 1:22 PM
    Subject: Mah Jongg question
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > A player calls mah jongg 3,6,9. and puts up her tiles as follows 33
    > 66(bams) 333 666 cracks 9999 (dots). A player asks what hand she is
    > doing and she then moves her joker into the proper position 33 666 33
    > 666 9999. Another player questions her and calls her dead and the
    > hand invalid. Is she dead if she has then shown a valid mah jongg, or
    > does putting up your tiles and sliding your joker one set make the win
    > invalid. Help!
    > Thanks,
    > Pam

    Hi Pam,
    Your question is somewhat similar to FAQ 19AX, but not quite. Of course the win is valid, regardless of how she displayed it initially after declaring the win. Any reasonable person (you, for instance) can see that the win is valid. Reasonableness is a valid way of judging this sort of issue.
    But you may have a problem player -- someone who's overly competitive and uses the group's imperfect understanding of the rules to her benefit. Read my column #387. Click the purple banner atop this page to go to the columns. And I recommend you read FAQ 9 as well. The FAQs are above left. And lastly, I strongly urge you to buy a copy of the rulebook for your table, so you know what to do next time a rules question comes up.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 18, 2009


    Tell me anything about my set, part 2

    >From: Harriet
    >Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2009 9:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you Tom for responding to my questions so fast. I looked at the information you have (can't believe how much you have on this website) and I guess what I thought was ivory is now caramel colored so it must be Bakelite. This is my inventory 144 tiles, no jokers, 8 flowers,16 winds, 12 dragons, 108 cracks-bams-dots. My bettor has Chinese letters and it also looks like it is backlit. The oooold leather box would not accommodate racks since it is only 13x9 1/4 and has four shallow opened boxes 5x8 1/2 two on top of two with a narrow box down the side 1 1/2 x 8 1/2. The inside of the box was once red and has a double material pocket on the inside of the lid. There is a leather strap 7 x 2 that is sewn on the bottom with a metal thing on the end that fits into two holes on a metal lock 2x 1 3/4. The metal says China Woshunsing Factory which I can't find on the web anywhere. Is this so much more information than you would ever want to know? For this I apologize but I would like to know if you have any idea if this set would have been made by the Woshunsing Factory or would it just be the box it comes in. Also, any idea of the age and does Bakelite get dark because 1/4th of the tiles have darkened ? I have another set my grandfather bought for my mom from a pawn shop in the 40's but that looks more like some of the sets on your website and that would probably be easier to figure out and I won't bother about it. Again thank you for just being there - Harriet
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi Harriet, you asked:

    Is this so much more information than you would ever want to know?
    Well... The main problem is that I can't see the set. You didn't send any pictures.

    I would like to know if you have any idea if this set would have been made by the Woshunsing Factory or would it just be the box it comes in.
    Can't make a guess based solely on your written description. Really need to see pictures. And by the way, I don't know anything about manufacturers, especially Chinese manufacturers from decades past. Jim May and CHarli are the experts on that kind of thing (see links in FAQ 4a).

    any idea of the age
    Not without pictures and all the info requested in the FAQ, sorry!

    does Bakelite get dark
    Yes. Yes, it does.

    because 1/4th of the tiles have darkened ?
    I don't think I'd ascribe a causal link there... (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 17, 2009


    Mahjong history video on Youtube

    >From: "Willems, David"
    >Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2009 5:30:25 PM
    >Subject: Youtube history of mahjong
    >An interesting take on the history of mahjong:
    >http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H6Pa_yIE84&feature=related

    Hi David!
    Thanks for thinking of us with that. That same video was announced on the mahjong newsgroup last October. The entire video (not broken into 3 parts) is viewable at: http://v.cctv.com/html/xintansuo/2008/09/xintansuo_300_20080923_1.shtml

    But cctv.com can be slow to load - probably because it's on the other side of the world. The YouTube videos do load faster, and being in 3 parts makes them more bite-size. I didn't watch them all the way through, but maybe the long infomercials that cctv.com inserted into the program have been edited out. In case anyone wants to see all 3 parts, here are links to all 3:

    Part 1/3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H6Pa_yIE84&feature=related
    Part 2/3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evfRucgJ2fA&feature=related
    Part 3/3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25tIiiopgp4&feature=related

    On the mahjong newsgroup, we discussed the points raised in the video. We're very curious to see this diary of Mr. Harvey. I even wrote to Mr. Noguchi, whom the video mentions as the owner of this diary. But he denied owning it or knowing anything about it. I've been meaning to try to contact the mahjong museum in Ningbo.

    The mahjong scholars on the newsgroup were very skeptical about a lot of the other stuff said in the video - most of which is speculation based on Chinese symbolism or symbology, and isn't tremendously informed about the extant written record of the origin of mahjong (what there is of it). Since Mr. Noguchi denied a key part of the video, I have to wonder about the reliability of the rest of it. It does contain several things I agree with, but the "talking heads" I'm not sure of.

    Still, though, I appreciate the new link. I really ought to watch the whole thing again. I kind of shot my mouth off a bit there, since I'm actually just working off a 3-month-old memory and a few selected glimpses, skipping through it again today.
    May the tiles be with you, David.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 17, 2009


    Tell me anything about my set

    >From: Harriet
    >Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2009 3:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have a very old mah jong set that I got from my mother many, many years ago. The box which is leather and velvet has fallen apart but the metal closer says China Woshunsing Factory and there is a label with Chinese writing on it. The tiles have turned almost orange but they have beautiful carvings of birds, and scenes with Asian people. The tiles are 1 1/8 x 7/8 x 1/2. Any idea how I can find our how old the set is? I would appreciate anything you can tell me. Harriet

    Hi Harriet, you wrote:

    Any idea how I can find our how old the set is?
    Read FAQ 7g. The "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs") links are above left.

    I would appreciate anything you can tell me.
    Read FAQ 7p.

    Standing by when you have follow-up questions (after you've read those FAQs)...
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 17, 2009


    How George Bush lost a mahjong battle for world domination, part 2

    >From: King & Faris
    >Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 11:29:35 PM
    >Subject: "And the Lord said, 'Let there be Mahjong tiles'" - Salon
    >http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2009/01/16/the_legend_of_koizumi_2/index.html?source=rss&aim=/tech/htww
    >Benkun shares with us a scene from last week's episode, in which Koizumi battles Pope Benedict:
    > His Holiness quotes Genesis, with the help of a boy's choir, as he leads Koizumi to the Mahjong table, "And the Lord said, let there be Mahjong tiles!" ...

    Great! The "Benkun" of this continuing story is, of course, our friend Benjamin Boas.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 17, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question #19.BD

    >From: Krooznuts3
    >Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 3:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: On a concealed hand , can you pick up a tile for Mah Jongg only?
    >--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    >A Good Credit Score is 700 or Above. See yours in just 2 easy steps!

    Hello Mr. or Ms. Nuts,
    If I read your question correctly, you're asking Frequently Asked Question #19.BD:

    If I'm playing a concealed hand... Is it okay to win on a discard?
    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 #19.BD. 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 what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this question.

    If I misunderstood your question, please first see if it's answered in the FAQs, and if it isn't, rephrase it for me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 16, 2009


    Why no color tiles in the columns?

    >From: Alan B
    >Sent: Friday, January 16, 2009 5:54 AM
    >Subject: Strategy Column #20
    >Tom - I received The Red Dragon & The West Wind for Christmas. I have read it twice and have now worked my way backwards through your Strategy Columns. Great Stuff! I especially liked the color format of the tiles in Column #20. Any reason why you stopped using the color format for the tiles? I find the tiles/hands in color much easier to read. Reguardless, great info on your site.
    >Thanks - Alan

    Hi Alan,
    I'm delighted that you've enjoyed the book and the columns. There is a reason why the tiles are not in color in the columns. It's pretty simple. Maybe even simple-minded. I've always harbored the hope that the column would be picked up for print, and if it was to be picked up for print it's likely that black-and-white would be a requirement. So I've endeavored to keep the column to a strict size limit, and to not use color in such a way that the column wouldn't make sense without the color information.

    The size limit probably isn't evident in the web presentation of the column, but I first write the column within a Word template I set up, so that the column always fits within a certain box size (comparable to a certain weekly bridge column). Then when I port the column over to the website, I might enlarge the image a bit, and use paragraph spacing that wouldn't be used in print.

    I realize that newspapers are struggling for survival in the Internet age, making my print dream unlikely -- but this print fantasy dies hard. When I give it up entirely, I'll likely go to color tiles. Note, though, that I use a font for the tiles, and a font can contain only one color per character, so even if I went to color for the tiles, I probably wouldn't ever have any tiles that contain multiple colors in a tile. The font is a much easier way to go than cobbling hands together from color images, and I wouldn't want to switch to a more labor-intensive methodology. But now I've gone on much longer than I needed to, to answer your question. I hope you continue to enjoy the columns.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 16, 2009


    How George Bush lost a mahjong battle for world domination

    >From: "J. R.
    >Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:08 PM
    >Subject: How George Bush lost a mahjong battle for world domination
    > http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/?last_story=/tech/htww/2009/01/15/the_legend_of_koizumi/

    Cool link, J.R.! Thanks!
    I found that using your link I had to click through the "sitepass" page, then click another link to get to the story. Maybe this URL will work better for interested readers:
    http://www.salon.com/tech/htww/2009/01/15/the_legend_of_koizumi/index.html
    (Note: I didn't make those URLs clickable. You have to copy and paste into your browser's URL box.)
    May the tiles be with us all, especially after next Tuesday when... oh never mind. (I'm just so excited about the prospect of having a president I actually voted for.)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    The Ides of January, 2009


    How to set a value on "limit"?

    >From: Alexander
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 9:29 AM
    >Subject: Limit hands without a limit
    >Hello.
    >I ran into a problem recently in a mahjong game. We use the chinese classical rules but we don't use a limit. The problem appears when a player gets one of those rare limit hands. For example, how many points would "9 Gates" or "13 Orphans" be worth? These two hands are the extreme examples because they don't follow the standard winning hand layout at all and thus wouldn't be worth any points, according to the basic scoring (but there are other examples too).
    >
    >If you don't use a limit, it doesn't make sense that 9 Gates (I read somewhere that it's considered to be the most perfect hand possible) would be worth maybe 1 000 points or whatever the limit usually is, when a more common hand could be worth maybe ten times as much. The other day I saw the pattern "3 Great Scholars" (pung/kong of all three dragons, any pung/kong and a pair) which yielded something like 35 000 just for the basic pattern + standard doubles, but no extra doubles for the 3 Great Scholars pattern just because we didn't use a limit.
    >
    >So what I'm wondering is, do the limit hands have some precise value that you can calculate (in doubles or points), if you don't use a limit?
    >Thanks in advance. And thanks for keeping this wonderful homepage up, I've learned a lot from it.
    >Alexander

    Hi Alexander,
    It's up to the table to decide whether or not to use a limit, and to decide any and all matters related to the existence or non-existence of a limit. You've correctly identified many of the issues that need to be considered. May I suggest a thought that might be of help: "Limit" doesn't have to mean "maximum possible amount." What it needs to do is recognize the value and difficulty of these particular hands.

    If someone got 35,000 for Big Three Dragons, that's because of all the other possible ways that particular hand can earn points, and the fact that you haven't limited it with an arbitrary "roof." If you think it's reasonable for Nine Gates or Thirteen Orphans to earn 10,000 given the kinds of scores your players occasionally can obtain, then that is reasonable.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 13, 2009


    Looking for automatic mahjong table, part 2

    From: "Ryan Snay"
    Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 10:56 PM
    Subject: Re: Looking for automatic mahjong table
    > Hey Tom just wondering how much your willing to sell you table top and
    > also if so how much am I looking to spend on the two sets of tiles for
    > the table? And I reside in Kekaha, Kauai thanking you in advance.
    > Ryan
    > Sent from my iPhone

    Ryan, you asked:

    wondering how much your willing to sell you table top
    I had not given it any thought, Ryan. How much are you willing to pay for it?

    how much am I looking to spend on the two sets of tiles for
    > the table?
    I don't know exactly. I think it was a couple hundred for the tiles I bought for my other dealing machine.

    And I reside in Kekaha, Kauai
    I have no idea how much it would cost to ship a heavy thing like this to Hawaii. First, a wooden crate would have to be built for it. Then a shipper would have to be located... It would probably have to go by sea, not by air...

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 12, 2009


    Looking for automatic mahjong table

    From: "Ryan Snay"
    Email: thechad619aol.com
    To: webmaster at sloperama
    Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 8:50 PM
    Subject: Looking for automatic mahjong table
    >I just posting this to see if anyone has an automatic mahjong table
    > for sale. If so email me at thechad619aol.com. Thanks.
    > Sent from my iPhone

    Hi Ryan,
    Your "Accessories Wanted" announcement has been posted on the Accessories Wanted bulletin board, but I also waylaid it to the Q&A bulletin board.
    It so happens I have an extra mahjong dealing machine. It's a Kakinuma. It doesn't have a base, and it doesn't have the tiles. And the power cord needs a plug and extension. You didn't happen to mention whether or not you live in the L.A. area...?
    The base is fairly unimportant, you could simply put the machine on any suitably sturdy table. Or if you're handy you could make a base for it. The tiles would have to be ordered from Japan. I recently acquired the machine and hadn't yet gotten around to ordering them.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 12, 2009


    "Rooching"

    >From: "DriskellJL
    >Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 7:25:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >My 88 year old mother taught me the game. She used to refer to the Charleston as the "Rooching" (not sure of the spelling). At any rate it referred to the passing of tiles right, across, left then left across right before actual play begins. Has anyone heard this term and to what exactly does it refer.

    Hi Mr. or Ms. Driskell,
    Sorry, I never heard of the term "rooching," so I can't tell you its etymology. A lot of people learn the game by word of mouth and make up cute terms that sometimes get passed along. Maybe another reader will have heard of the term, and/or may know where the term came from.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 12, 2009


    Questions about my set I might be selling

    >From: JHR
    >Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 4:04 PM
    >Subject: set possibly for sale
    >I was in the US Navy from 1957 to 1964.
    >On my first cruise to Hong Kong, I bought a Maj Jong set that
    >is hand carved. Each piece is slightly different for CRAK symbol and such.
    >I suspect it is ivory but cannot be sure.
    >What is the value of a set if it truly is ivory?
    >What would have been the selling price of a ivory set in 1958 compared to a
    >plastic set. What would the selling price of an ivory set in 1958 in Hong Kong.
    >Jim R
    >Holly SPrings, NC

    Hi Jim, you asked:

    I suspect it is ivory but cannot be sure.
    Then read FAQs 7c & 7c2. The FAQs are above left.

    What is the value of a set if it truly is ivory?
    It depends on other aspects of the set - its beauty, its uniqueness, its completeness, its condition... But genuine ivory sets are so rare, and so many eBay sellers sell bone sets as "ivory," that I haven't been able to get any good information on the "typical" or "average" value of an actual ivory set.

    What would have been the selling price of a ivory set in 1958 compared to a
    >plastic set. What would the selling price of an ivory set in 1958 in Hong Kong.
    I have no idea. If you want me to guess at the value of your set, read FAQ 7h and give me the information I need.

    As you were!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 12, 2009


    ReachMahjong.com Press Release: Forums

    >From: Gemma
    >Sent: Monday, January 12, 2009 2:18 AM
    >Subject: ReachMahjong.com Press Release: Forums
    >ReachMahjong.com – Press Release – January 12th 2009
    >RE: Forums
    >Dear Friends and Players,
    >Happy new year everyone! First of all, a thank you to all our readers, old and new. ReachMahjong.com has come a long way. We have a more active presence globally and are dedicated to bringing our readers the best content and strategy articles available. In ReachMahjong.com’s drive to benefit the Mahjong community, we are proud to announce the unveiling of the new forums: The ReachBoard
    >The Mahjong community has missed the forums that Yakitori Online once offered. As a former partner of Yakitori Online, ReachMahjong.com has stepped up to try and meet this demand for more user-created content.
    >The new ReachMahjong.com forums will be live from January 17th 2009 and we invite everyone to come and join in the Mahjong discussion.
    >The global recession may be hitting our pockets hard this year but talk is cheap! Come and join us!
    >From the ReachMahjong.com team

    That's good news, Gemma. I've marked it on my calendar, and I'm looking forward to it!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 12, 2009


    A Hanafuda/Gostop link for your site

    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 10:03:23 AM
    >Subject: Hanafuda link
    >Hey hey,
    >(goedemorgen)
    >Here a mail from Ray from holland. How's life?
    >I have a great link 4 u 2 put on your site! It's a online GoStop server.
    >it's http://game.ijji.com/gostop/index.nhn
    >You can play it whith real but also whith playmoney! (what i prefur)
    >The site is in just readeble carracters,... So signing up is easy
    >(Sorry if mine english is rotten,...)
    >Well that's it. May the tiles be whith you,..
    >Ray, aka The Capsaicinfetishist and Autor of http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godori
    >-----------------------------
    >There are 10 kinds of people.
    >Those who understand binary,
    >and those who don't.

    "Hooya morha" to you too, Ray.
    Coincidentally, I had another email from Holland this morning. A question for my Game Design Advice bulletin board. As I told that poster, the first thing I saw on my computer this morning was photos of people in Holland skating near windmills. It made me think of my only visit to Holland a few years ago, during a horrible heat wave. So I saw very little ice then, and I never saw a windmill at all. But I learned that "goedemorgen" is pronounced "hooya morha." Anyway. I'll post your link in the Hanafuda Links page right now.
    May the cards be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    1/11, 2009


    Looking for a site where you can input your hand and determine its score

    >From: Simon B
    >Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 10:25 AM
    >Subject: Hand point calculator?
    >Hello Tom,
    >I was just looking through your wonderful site inparticular at all the links to other places. This is great and it's really helpful to someone who is just learning the game. I wonder though do you know of a site where you could input what tiles you have in your hand, and it would act as a calculator and that could tell you how many points that hand is worth. It would be helpful, the biggest problem i'm having right now is finding all the point combinations in one hand. I am learning chinese official rules.Thanks for any help you can give me,
    >Simon

    Hi Simon,
    I assume you're planning to use a mobile phone or iPhone or Blackberry to do this - although I guess if the game was taking place at your home you could put a laptop on a side table near the mahjong table... And I'm glad you mentioned which kind of mahjong you play.

    There are some downloadable mahjong calculators listed in FAQ 5 (the software FAQ, above left) but I suppose there might be some browser-based calculators out there as well. If so, I might have listed those in FAQ 4b (the websites FAQ) instead. Everything I know of is listed in the FAQs. If it's not listed in there, then I don't know about 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 2, 2009


    Tournament announcement

    >From: ManhattanMahJaol.com
    >Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 1:56 PM
    >Subject: Find Players
    >Tom: Can you please post the following for us, as you did last fall.....
    >A spring tournament (NMJL rules) will be held on Sunday, March 22 in the Greenwich Village Area of Manhattan. Tournament fee is $75.00, which includes breakfast, brunch, afternoon snacks, cash prizes and gifts for all
    >Check our website: www.manhattanmahjongg.com or write to us at: manhattanmahj@aol [dot com] for further details.
    >Thanks!

    Hi Man,
    Yes, I'm posting your announcement, but I no longer think that the Find Players board is the appropriate place for it. So I'm posting it here instead. I think it's a good idea to announce your upcoming tournament here, and I think other tournament organizers should do the same. I've also made a listing for you with other recurring tournaments, in FAQ 4a.
    May the tournament attendees be with you, Man!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 10, 2009


    How do I order the NMJL card online?

    >From: "Ruthiemema
    >Sent: Saturday, January 10, 2009 5:18:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:I got my bulletin. It says I can order the 2009 card on line with my credit card. I went on the site....www.nationalmahjonggleague.org .there was no place to order it on line with a credit card. Do you know how to do it?

    Hi Ruthie, you wrote:

    there was no place to order it on line with a credit card.
    That's not true. When you went to http://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org/orderform/info.html, did you read the first bullet where it says "Follow the instructions below to order by mail or 'Order Online' with an Online Membership"?

    Do you know how to do it?
    I didn't until I decided to have a look on the League's website to try to figure out the answer to your question. Thanks to you, I've now figured out that "Online Membership" simply means ordering stuff online and yes, using a credit card. I'd thought it meant a membership for playing online (which I've done in the past), but that's not what it means.

    May the 2009 card be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 10, 2009


    Riichi variations, part 7

    >From: Willems, David
    >Sent: Friday, January 09, 2009 5:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >In regards to the various popular styles of Reach mahjong in Japan, Jenn wrote a great article/summary recently on the Reach Mahjong site:
    >http://tinyurl.com/a8y2ha
    >Happy New Year!
    >David

    Happy New Year to you too, David.
    I knew Jenn would be the one to explain that stuff for us! But I slap my forehead for not checking her website, ReachMahjong.com, to see if she hadn't already done so. In fact, I should slap my forehead a second time for not reading her column more faithfully.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 9/09 (I tried to come up with a way to turn that into a Beatles homage and play off "The One After 909," but it wasn't working.)


    Column #392

    >From: Alan B
    >Sent: Thursday, January 8, 2009 10:11:48 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Strategy Column #392, Row 9
    >Tom - I understand the acronym "Friends" in the narrative and the need for a North Wind. For the life of me, I can make the last line (the only hand worth 75 points) work out to the hand in the example. Please explain.
    >Thanks - Alan
    >
    >From: Alan B
    >Sent: Thursday, January 8, 2009 10:13:42 AM
    >Subject: Ignore Last Email
    >Tom - DA! I was reading the wrong card. I was looking at the 2008 National Mah Jongg Card.
    >Sorry.

    OK, Alan. Consider it ignored! (^_^) Easy enough to miss that that particular puzzle was about the AMJA card instead.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 8, 2009


    Riichi variations, part 6

    >From: Vahid H
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 10:34:39 AM
    >Subject: Re: Question about possible Reach Mahjong variation
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for notifying me.
    >I read the message and found it very thoughtful and accurate.
    >Here is a response for the board and for Tina specifically:
    >Having played and studied the game a lot more since writing that message, I have to agree wholeheartedly on just about everything- including the dead wall issue. The only thing I'm not entirely convinced about is Menzen Tsumo. You can still win defensively using a no-yaku hand if you use reach. I think the random score fluctuation on larger menzen hands outweighs the defensive benefit- in fact I think it rewards the agressive players more. When you look at player stats you find an awful lot of menzen wins that really skew the game. Why is Menzen Tsumo in the A-Rules game when they took out Ippatsu for almost exactly the same reason? This is the only thing I really think should go, particularly in A-Rules. Perhaps I am still missing something?
    >
    >For Tom: The JPML (Japan Pro Mahjong League) A-Rules are normal Reach rules minus hidden doras and any additional doras beyond the first indicator. I recently also discovered online the Saikouisen Classic Rules (JPML's rival league) which are even more defensive: same as A-Rules except the dealer continues only by actually winning and there are no payments for having a ready hand in a draw game. I have to say I like these rules even more for serious play.
    >
    >Have you tried the Saikouisen Classic Rules, Tina?
    >
    >As a side note, recently my group has been playing A-Rules except without Menzen Tsumo. This has been working well. The only other experimentation we have done is playing with an Open Dead Wall. Instead of stacking the wall, each side is 2 x 17 laid flat and the dead wall tiles are turned face up at the beginning of the game. This is a kind of compromise instead of getting rid of the dead wall. What do you think of this? It helps with planning a hand and makes it easier to defend against someone who has a ready hand early in the game. Do you think this way of playing still hurts the defensive aspect? Either way, I find I am getting used to the normal dead wall- unlike Menzen Tsumo which still annoys me somewhat.

    Thanks, Vahid.
    I long for the day when somebody writes information in English, in one concise package, about all the various variations commonly used, and the various organizations in Japan.
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 7, 2009


    Riichi variations, part 5

    From: "Tina Christensen"
    Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 1:53 AM
    Subject: Q&A board: Re: Riichi variations, part 4. Dec. 19
    > Hi Tom,
    > Some feedback for Vahid H. who had some riichi ideas posted on your board:
    > Riichi variations, part 4, Dec. 19.

      >>From: Vahid H
      >>First: Menzen Tsumo. I know Zung Jung agrees with me here. Although I
      > still prefer Reach rules. Why double the size of the hand for self draw
      > when it so undermines the defensive aspect of the game? You are already
      > lucky when you draw a winner in this sense, so why DOUBLE the score too?
      > If anything it should be the other way around: Menzen Ron, so to speak.
      > Lose it, I say. Concievably it could be at least slightly strategic if
      > the Dead Wall were done away with.

    > You say that Menzen Tsumo doubles the score, but an important point about
    > it is that is you can selfdraw a hand that would not otherwise have a
    > yaku. In that case the value is not doubled; it goes from zero to a valid
    > hand. I think the hand is very important for the defensive player; and
    > riichi is very much a defensive game.

      >>Second: Dead Wall. I can see that this must once have had a superstitious
      > significance, but this should probably be dropped for competition. There
      > is no need for a Kong Box either. Just draw from the live wall. The effect
      > is ultimately the same. However, what about having a Dead Wall (or King's
      > Hand, etc.) that from the very beginning of the game is instead entirely
      > revealed rather than concealed? That would at least add some strategy in
      > both offense and defense plus add variety in each round. I've tried it out
      > and it seems to work well. Or just forget the dead wall.

    > Again I have to stress the very defensive nature of riichi. If all tiles
    > are used, the game would be less defensive. With all tiles in the game the
    > aggressive player would have a larger chance of going out, while the
    > defensive player has a harder time of playing safe tiles until the end. In
    > my opinion the dead wall is very important for the riichi game.

      >>Third: Abortive Draw When Dealt 9 Terminals or Honours. This rule I like.
      > That said, surely it doesn't go far enough? I actually find that a redeal
      > on 7 "broken" tiles is the most useful way to even out extreme
      > discrepancies in starting tiles. By this I mean that when more than half
      > of your tiles have no partner (either matching or in sequence) then you
      > can ask to redeal the round. Surely anyone would like this rule and it
      > simply evens out the odds slightly.

    > The Abortive Draw on a deal of 9 term/honours is a nice rule. But saying
    > that 7 broken tiles should be able to get a re-deal seems outrageous to
    > me. 7 tiles is just half the hand, so you could have a pretty flexible
    > hand still. If you start with a hand where 7 tiles have a match or a
    > neighboor, aren't you always 3-shanten (3 from tenpai)? If everyone begins
    > the game with a hand close to tenpai, I fear you will reduce it to a game
    > of luck in picking tiles, since the game would be very fast and you won't
    > get time to judge the strength/expensiveness of opponents' hands. Players
    > will very soon be tenpai, and most games would probably be won before or
    > around the sixth discard. I think the game would become very aggressive,
    > there would not be much room for defense, and I can't see the fun, I can't
    > see much skill. And you would definitely need an automatic table to play
    > with that rule. It would precipitate a lot of redeals which would be quite
    > annoying, not least in competitions.

      >>What do you think? I'm wondering if anyone involved in competitions might
      > like to adopt one or more of these rules. I think it might help to spread
      > the game of Reach internationally as one for competition rather than pure
      > gambling. I get the feeling that even in Japan there is a desire for this
      > change in image, so surely the rules should ultimately reflect this?

    > Riichi is already spreading in Europe as a competition game, not as a
    > gambling game. You focus on the A rules, and that's not really what the
    > gamblers use anyway, is it? Aren't the A rules exactly that step away from
    > gambling that you are asking for? Introducing new stuff and changing
    > riichi away from how the Japanese play would hinder the spread, not
    > further it. I don't see how your rule changes would make anyone choose
    > riichi who would otherwise avoid it. Riichi is a defensive game, and a
    > game where you have to carefully consider odds. If you want a game where
    > weighing the odds matters less and where it is easier to focus on building
    > your hand, go for another variant, say Zung Jung or maybe Hong Kong (which
    > often use a 3 fan minimum). I know you will hate selfdraw scoring in MCR,
    > since you already think Menzen Tsumo is too much, but otherwise I
    > recommend MCR. You might also consider Classical Chinese.

      >>Finally, we have tried using what you might call a Reverse Yakitori! The
      > Yakitori tiles start face down. When you throw someone's winner (get
      > 'Ronned') you are said to be cooked and the tile is turned over. Anyone
      > who gets to the end of the game without throwing a single winner shares a
      > bonus. With an Uma of +30 +10 -10 -30, we like to use a 30k bonus for this
      > (15k each if 2 people get it) i.e. a bonus the same size as the first
      > place bonus. We think this is a better reward for skill and good defensive
      > play than the original Yakitori which is more for humiliation.

    > Ha! that's a fun idea. Definitely better that yakitori, a rule I really
    > don't like. It could be fun in not-to-serious competitions, like a
    > Christmas competition or something, or for a side-prize/extra prize.

      >>If you or anyone you play with decides to try out any of the four rule
      > variations above, please do let me know any impressions. I would also love
      > to know if there is anyone involved in organizing competitions who might
      > be interested in implementing these or similar rules. I really think it
      > could help the spread of Reach!
      >>V

    > Happy New Year!
    > Tina Christensen
    > tina at mahjong.dk
    > http://uk.mahjong.dk/

    Nice, Tina! (^_^)
    I'm pinging Vahid to make sure he comes and reads this. What are the A rules? I'm always eager to learn more about riichi than what I can glean from playing with Ricky and his Little Tokyo friends.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 7, 2009


    Set appraisal request

    >From: Renee
    >To: tomster [at] sloperama.com
    >Sent: Sunday, January 4, 2009 4:35:39 PM
    >Subject: Set appraisal request
    >Mr. Sloper,
    >I apologize right now if I ought to be sending this to webmaster@sloperama.com instead for posting directly on the Q&A board. I wasn't sure if it was an automatic situation, and so I didn't want to post just the request there and have everyone read my nonsensical 'would you be willing to give me a rough idea of the value of my set?' I found your website when trying to figure out what kind of mah-jongg set I have in my possession.
    >
    >The set has come to me in a rather emotional set of circumstances, but I am sure you do not have time for a sob story. Suffice to say, I must sell this set to raise money, but I have no wish to be dishonest or try and push something of no value onto someone else.
    >
    >I have been through the checklist on your website and compiled an extensive (and completely sales-pitch free) description of the set, its tiles, its sticks, its defects, and its highlights (at least as best I can understand them). I have the images hosted in my flickr account and available to email as well, all properly sized. I have also read your caveats about how a free appraisal requires a willingness to have my request for an appraisal posted to the Q&A section of the bulletin board, and that by making this request and sending you the images, I am granting you all rights to use, reproduce, and alter the photos that I am sending.
    >
    >If you would be willing to grant me an appraisal, that would be wonderful. (And if you could, and I'm sorry but I found the bulletin board a trifle confusing, tell me who to email, that would also be wonderful.) If you are no longer offering this free service, but for a fee would be interested in giving me your opinion (verbal, no certificate of value or guarantee, obviously, as you will never see the set in real life) of the value of the set, could you please let me know the amount of the fee?
    >Thank you very much,
    >Renee [Last name deleted]
    >[Telephone # deleted. Don't email me your phone numbers, folks!]

    >PS. Regardless, I found your site extremely helpful. Thank you for the valuable resource!
    >PPS. Just in case it makes a difference, or rather, to prove I'm not asking you to appraise my Parker Brothers Edition, the set appears to my untrained eye to be a Japanese set from the 1920s. My flickr stream is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/10399321@N00/

    Hi Renee,
    Please just email me the minimum number of photos that I need to see, and paste your description into the body of the email. I don't follow links to go get your photos (it adds too much work). I don't like document attachments (they also add too much work). Make sure your email asks a very clear question. I don't do well with "tell me anything" requests, as I wrote in FAQ 7p. And it doesn't matter which of my email addresses you use to email me.
    You're going to have to get unconfused about how to read the bulletin board. It's really quite easy. Wait for the page to load completely, then scroll down and read.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 4, 2009


    Our annoying new player

    >From: Arlene
    >Sent: Sunday, January 4, 2009 12:30:10 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We have been playing a friendly game for 15 years( I have been playing Mah Jongg on and off since 1963). About 5 years ago a new player joined. She is "always play by the rules" no matter what the table rules are. OK I get that but what is most annoying is she has now started to always go for the hardest hands (you advise this) and will get ride of all her jokers even if she has Mah Jongg with jokers so she can be "jokerless" and get more money. She will also keep calling tiles on the last wall to get her jokers picked so she can be win with a jokerless hand. Our group has always been get the required tiles and call Mah Jongg.
    >My question is I thought the idea of American MJ with the NMJL was for the first person to complete their hand and to call Maj Jongg? What is you opinion on not to give other players the advantage of your quest to be jokerless every hand and expose jokers for other players to exchange?
    >I am really frustrated that "she" feels that is the "correct" way to play.
    >Please let me know your opinion.
    >Arlene

    Hi Arlene,
    I'm not sure I know what the problem is. She's annoying because:

    She prefers the official rules over your group's traditional table rules. (I can see how that would be annoying, but if she's 1 against 4, then her vote loses, right?)
    She goes for high-scoring hands. (I don't see how that's a problem, since it means she's giving the rest of you more time to make easier wins. By the way, I advise that be used strategically, not as an "only way to go" kinda thing.)
    She throws jokers away. (I don't see how that's a problem, for the same reason as #2. Her trying for jokerless gives the rest of you more opportunity to win before she does.)
    She calls tiles on the last wall. (If your table traditionally used a hot wall or cold wall rule, I can see how it might annoy you to have somebody trounce in and throw your rule out the window.)
    She makes exposures with jokers, but then she does some other thing in hopes that other players will redeem the jokers and make her jokerless? Or she refuses to go mah-jongg unless her jokers are all redeemed? (I didn't quite understand your last complaint. So I don't see how it's a problem for you.)

    Your questions are:

    I thought the idea of American MJ with the NMJL was for the first person to complete their hand and to call Maj Jongg?
    Well, that's the goal of the game, and if the four of you original members of the group all play that way, then I imagine you'd be winning a lot more than she does. So I don't see what the problem is. Every player is free to use whatever strategy she wants to.

    What is you opinion on not to give other players the advantage of your quest to be jokerless every hand and expose jokers for other players to exchange?
    Sorry, I don't understand this question. I think a player has a perfect right to use whatever strategy she wants to, so long as she doesn't act like "Yelda" in Column #387, and enforce her opinions as if they were rules beholding on everyone else the instant she declares them.

    Rules are enforceable. Etiquette and strategy are not.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    January 4, 2009


    What do my mystery flowers mean, part 4

    >From: Ticktoc25
    >Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 11:44 AM
    >Subject: Flower Mystery Tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thought you might like to know that I have now solved part of the mystery of my tiles, due to the help of my son who has studied Chinese and Japanese culture and languages. My Season tiles are as follows:
    >Spring seems to be portraying the Monkey King who's symbols are golden chain mail (in this case green), a phoenix feather cap and is known for cloud walking, thus the cloud under his feet. The companion tile is Guan Yin (Kwan Yin) who is depicted with a water jar in the right hand, a willow branch in the left, and wearing a Buddha crown. In the book "Journey to the West" Guan Yin enlisted the Monkey King as a bodyguard for the monk Tripitaka. This completes my search for the meaning of the Season tiles.
    >As for the flower tiles, I found a web site with old Chinese coins on it. The coin pictured on my #3 flower is the obverse of a coin. The two red symbols on either side of the coin are written in Manchurian (Boo Su or literally Su then Boo) and translate to "Soochow Mint", which is located in the Kiangsu Provence. The coin may be telling us where the set was made or where the carver from, but this is a guess. The acrobats are perhaps performing in a traditional style known as Wushu.
    >
    >As a genealogist and iconologist I find this all very fascinating. I will keep you posted as to any more discoveries if you are interested in me posting again.
    >Thanks again for the clues to get me started on my search!
    >Ellejai :)

    There you go, Ellejai. Good work!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 29, 2008


    What do my mystery flowers mean, part 3

    >From: Ticktoc25
    >Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2008 2:23 PM
    >Subject: Mystery tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your help with flower tile #3. Again, yes, I have read your FAQ's and all of the posts on mystery tiles, and as you can see many did not apply to my set. Yes, 7e helped with the Rich man and the gold pot but I'm still looking for the story behind the pictures. I thought you might know the meaning of the symbols on the gold pot since that tile is fairly common from the research I've done, and you being so learned, I thought you might have come across the meaning of them before. It doesn't hurt to ask, does it?
    >
    >The two other tiles shown that were like mine Liu Hai and the 3 legged frog didn't really include much of an explanation of what that was about. In a common symbol book I found the meaning of the 3 legged toad which is fortune and wealth and I did discover a web site with the story of Liu Hai, so now I know the meaning of those tiles and how they fit together. Thanks.
    >
    >After looking for a MJ set for 35 years, I came across this one at a flea market 4 months ago. (Yes, I have lived in remote areas of the country). I was expecting it to have tiles with flowers depicted on them, but instead they had these pictures. I'm interested in finding out as much as I can about MJ and my set. I've researched using all the MJ Internet sites I've been able to find and have come up with very little. Your site has been the best in that regard. Good work! I will keep searching for the meaning of my other tiles.
    >Thank you again for your help!
    >Ellejai

    Hi Ellejai, you wrote:
    Yes, 7e helped with the Rich man and the gold pot but I'm still looking for the story behind the pictures. I thought you might know the meaning of the symbols on the gold pot since that tile is fairly common from the research I've done, and you being so learned, I thought you might have come across the meaning of them before.
    Sorry. I've put all my knowledge about those tiles right there in the FAQ. I'm not withholding extra secrets from the FAQ.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 28, 2008


    This week's column (column #392), part 2

    >From: Andrew F
    >Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2008 10:19 AM
    >Subject: Re: this week's column
    >Drugs are a good excuse; better than most. Hand #4 still has an honor pung, so I think you just got the scores switched -- 19 for hand 4, 20 for hand 8.
    >Hoping the operation cures what ails you,

    Hi Andrew,
    Well, the drug excuse was valid for yesterday, but it doesn't work for today. :-p Column's fixed. Thanks again. Oh, and yes, my hearing is getting better.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 28, 2008


    This week's column (column #392).

    >From: Andrew F
    >Sent: Sunday, December 28, 2008 9:31 AM
    >Subject: this week's column
    >I don't know whether I just don't have that many references, but as far as I can tell you need nine unique terminals and honors to claim a draw in the Japanese game (so whoever this person is better hopes he draws a new one on his turn).
    >Also, I think you added a point for unique wait in the all types + knitted straight hand? (That's the only way I get to 20, anyway.) But I don't seem to see that that's allowed. I might be misreading that scoring element, though.
    >Similarly, you've counted out 20 points for hand 8 (16+2+1+1), but you only claim 19.
    >--
    >Andrew F
    >http://tabstopva.blogspot.com

    Hi Andrew!
    Hand #3. The nine unique terms/honors applies to the dealer on the original deal. A non-dealer can only request a redeal if he has exactly eight (no more, no less) unique terms/honors... (looking it up...) plus a duplicate of one of them or draws a ninth unique honor/term. DOH! Guess I gotta rewrite that part of the column.

    Hand #4. Knitted Straight is 12, All Types is 6. Doh! again. My handy excuse: the pain medication the doctor gave me for the outpatient surgery I had the day before.

    Hand #8. You're absolutely right. Simple addition error. Darn those drugs. (^_~)

    Thanks for the heads-up, Andrew. I've fixed the column and added a tip of the hat to you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 28, 2008


    What do my mystery flowers mean, part 2

    >From: Ticktoc25
    >Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008 2:03PM
    >Subject: Tile Identification Help
    >Tom,
    >Sorry I gave too much information.  I thought it might help in the identification process of the tiles in question. I have read all your FAQ's previously and the answers I needed were not included, so that is why I wrote to you. I forgot that this would be a public posting hence the length of the email.  
    >Enclosed is a photo of the tiles in question. I believe you said you prefer .jpg.  Hope you can help me figure out what the tiles are all about or at least where the set may have been made.  
    >Thanks,
    >Ellejai
    Attached: my Honor tiles.jpg (138KB)

    Hello Ellejai,
    Are you sure you read FAQ 7e? Because some of your flower tiles are already identified therein. Does your browser display photos? I had a guy one time who said he couldn't find his answer in FAQ 7e - turned out he was reading the page on a cellphone and never saw any of the photos. You wouldn't have done the same thing, would you?

    I'm curious why you refer to your flowers as "honor tiles." Nobody in FAQ 6 calls flowers honors.

    I'm glad you've already identified the four seasons as the writing on the upper 4 tiles. I don't suppose you read those other "mystery flower" posts I've answered previously... If you had, you'd know that I can't always interpret the meaning of the illustrations (much less the Chinese writing) on flower tiles.

    Your autumn, winter, 1, and 2 flowers are depicted and described in FAQ 7e.

    Your #3 tile is a coin with a square hole in it. And yes, it looks like it depicts 2 acrobats, one is lying on his back flipping the other up in the air (like we used to see on the Ed Sullivan show when I was a kid).

    I have no idea what your Spring, Summer, and #4 tiles are supposed to represent. The green text beneath the exchange I had with "cynthia gallagher" (chiquitaroad) near the bottom of FAQ 7e should offer you some avenues for investigating the remainder of your mystery flowers. And I still recommend you find and read all the other mystery flower Q&A I've had on the archived pages of this board (click the link at bottom). Good luck, and...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 27, 2008


    Can I call a tile when joker is discarded and named "same"? (Frequently Asked Question 19G.3)

    >! This message is high priority
    >From: norman r
    >To: TOM MAHJONG SLOPER
    >Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008 12:55 PM
    >Subject: CLARIFICATION of RULE
    >I discarded a 2 crack & the player to my right took his turn & discarded a joker calling it SAME.The player to my left called the 2 crack I had discarded .She did not want to take the joker but since it was called SAME she felt she could call the 2 crack..I said NO! Who is right.?
    >I look forward to your reply & thank you for your kind attention.
    >Sincerely ,
    >FRANCES R
    >c/o Norman R

    Hi Frances,
    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 #19G.3. 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 what information is missing, so that I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 27, 2008


    What do my mystery flowers mean? (Frequently Asked Question 7e)

    >From: Ticktoc25
    >Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008 11:24 AM
    >Subject: Tile Identification Help
    >Dear Tom,
    >I recently purchased my a bone and bamboo Mah-Jongg set that seems to have unusual flowers and seasons. I have found nothing like it on any Mah-Jongg site on the Internet. I tried emailing Jim May at the Mahjong Museum site but neither of his email addresses are working. I was wondering if you might be able to help me identify them? If so, I can send you a file attachment of the tiles or embed them in an email.
    >
    >A written description of the tiles is as follows:
    >Summer: a figure that looks like it is running, hands in praying position and "ribbons" trailing out behind.
    >
    >Spring: has a figure wearing green robes, holding what looks like a bamboo shoot, standing on "flames" or a lotus blossom and has a yellow "halo".
    >
    >Autumn: has a man with red pants and a blue robe, walking or dancing, hands upraised.
    >
    >Winter: 3 legged toad with a string of coins above.
    >
    >Flower tiles are as follows:
    >1. Rich man sitting on an ornate chair wearing a "crown".
    >
    >2. Container of gold with three symbols inscribed on the vase.
    >
    >3. What looks to be acrobats, one is holding onto a frame and has his feet in the air, the other is on the ground looking up, they are both in a yellow circle.
    >
    >4. The last one is the most difficult to describe... it looks like 5 men sitting around a table in a cone shaped basket. The man at the head of the table is important and seems to have a crown or a some kind of hat on. There is something on the table, it looks like a kite? with three streamers that have symbols on the ends of the strings.
    >
    >If you happen to know what the symbols on the container of gold and the "kite" mean I'd be interested in that knowledge too.
    >
    >This set has the Bam 1 peacock with his tail down and head up.
    >
    >The one Dot is quite ornate with a green circle on the outside and 5 blue finely carved ornate petals. The center is red with either a delicate symbol or a design and in the very center is a green dot.
    >
    >The counting sticks of this set have 1-2-5 and 10 dots located in the center of the bone.
    >
    >I have no dice and two of the matching ming are missing, South wind and West. They are of white bone with a green circle green characters and the English letter in red. They have a ming jar with a lid. I don't know the character's meaning on the lid but it is green.
    >
    >Along with the traditional 5 drawer, sliding front, two handled painted or stained black case with the label reading "One Genuine set Mah-Jongg, Trademark Reg. US. Pat. Off., Made in China, Patented April 3 1923" there are two instruction books.
    >
    >One is "Standard Rules for the Chinese Domino game of Mah Jong" by Yue Sing Zung & Co. Shanghai, no date and
    >
    >"Mah-Jongg sometimes called Sparrow, Rules of the Game and how to Play It" by The Chad Valley Co., LTC, Eng, 8th Ed. March 1924, and lastly a
    >
    >Chad Valley Doubling table for the games of Mah-Jongg and AM-Duat.
    >
    >Each of the drawers has the Chinese "9" symbol on the back, the tiles fit loosely in the drawers. The Wan tiles are the simplified character. Dots have the 5 petaled flower in the centers. I count 7 colors in use on various tiles.
    >
    >The Bone is very thick and fine. The tiles are smooth and shiny and measure almost 1" long (2.5 cm) x about 5/8" (1.8 cm) wide x about 1/2"deep (1.4 cm). The bone measured from the flat part of the bamboo (not the tongue and groove part) is about 8mm thick, and the bamboo is about 6mm thick to the rounded back edge. The notch is about 1mm deep and 7mm long.
    >
    >Also, not significant but nice, is the smell of old sweet incense every time the tile box is opened.
    >
    >Thanks for reading all this and for any help you might be able to give me in discovering more about my Mah-Jongg set.
    >Ellejai D████████

    Hello Ellejai,
    Your question is about your mystery flowers. Have you read the Mystery Tiles FAQ (FAQ 7e) yet? You can link to the FAQs above left.

    I really can't help with mystery flowers without photos. First, read FAQ 7e, then if you still want me to help you with your mystery flowers, read the other mystery flower posts I've gotten before -- scroll down this board to one on Sept. 11 (it's easy to find - it has photos of someone's mystery flowers), and you should also read other peoples' mystery flower posts. You can go to older posts by clicking the link at the very bottom. Just scroll through the older posts and stop when you find photos of flower tiles.

    It's important that you do this reading, Ellejai. I need you to understand what kind of information I'm likely to give you, so your expectations aren't set too high!

    Also, your letter closed with a lot of extraneous information about your set. Was there a reason for giving me all that information? I prefer questions to be concise and succinct, without extraneous information.

    Standing by to help, if I can, once you've read that FAQ and those other "mystery flower" posts I've answered previously, and with photos you send me.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 27, 2008


    How old is my set, part 2

    >From: Alex P
    >Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 9:51 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg Age-Determination
    >The rest of the pics:
    >1 Bamboos
    >Dragons
    >Flowers/Seasons
    >Do you want the Directions pic?

    >From: Alex P
    >Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 9:41 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg Age-Determination
    >More pics.
    >Nagato Booklet
    >Tile Racks
    >Craks

    >From: Alex P
    >Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 9:33 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg Age-Determination
    >Wow, fast response.
    >The pics will have to come in a couple emails because I don't have a picture editor to make them take up less space with. Sorry.
    >Here are the first three...

    Hi Alex, you wrote:

    You stated on your Sloperama website that questions about the approximate age of a set could be emailed to you.
    Let me talk through this answer. It's a Bakelite or catalin set, in a typical "trumpet" style case. Unless somebody comes along with information about Babcock having ever made Bakelite/catalin sets, I'd say this is definitely not a Babcock set. Could be a Nagato Shokai set, I suppose that's possible. I don't know what years Nagato Shokai made mah-jongg sets, but most likely postwar. One of the other experts (Jim May or CHarli) might have better information on Nagato Shokai (see FAQ 4a for links to their sites).

    The fact that this set has just 8 flowers, and no jokers or blanks, could mean one of several things:
    It was made before 1943 (see column #311), or
    It was made after 1943 but somebody scavenged the extra tiles (if there were any) to use with another set, or
    It was made in Asia (Japan or China) for export to the US but for use with the Chinese Classical rules.

    So the age of the set is hard to determine. The third booklet, "Count Table," was surely made by Nagato Shokai. Guessing from the title, the set that the booklet was meant to accompany (possibly this one) was intended for playing Chinese Classical.

    I saw no identifying manufacturer markings inside the lid of the case in the photo of the 3 booklets. The set could have been made anytime between the 1930s and the 1960s. If it was made by Nagato Shokai, I'd have to guess 1950s.

    I was wondering if you could also email [the answer] to me.
    No, that's not how my free service works.

    Do you want the Directions pic?
    Not sure what that's a picture of, but no, I don't need 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 26, 2008


    How old is my set?

    >From: Alex P
    >Sent: Friday, December 26, 2008 12:43:48 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Age-Determination
    >You stated on your Sloperama website that questions about the approximate age of a set could be emailed to you. I understand that the answer will be posted on your site in the bulletin section, but I was wondering if you could also email it to me.
    >Also, instead of attaching the photos to my email, I would rather include links to their hosting location on Photobucket.com
    >Anyway, here goes on the Age-Determination checklist...
    >
    >1) Factual Detailed List:
    >Snakeskin (not sure if it's genuine or fake) covered wooden frame case (rather heavily worn) with handle and locking clasps.
    >Link: http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/Case.jpg
    >
    >3 booklets. 2 Rulesets: 1 Babcock with a publishing date of 1923 and 1 Nagato Shokai rulebooklet with no age, but obviously much younger; and 1booklet
    >titled "Counting Table and Counting the Points"
    >Links: (3 booklets) http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=Booklets.jpg
    >(Nagato Shokai) http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=NagatoBooklet.jpg
    >(Babcock) http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=BabcockBooklet.jpg
    >
    >5 Tile Racks with what, according to your site, is a bad height. All 5 racks are bakelite and brown or red (I have 2 shades of racks, not sure which, if any, are replacement racks), they are very similar to the one pictured in your Racks section.
    >Link: http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=TileRackwithCounters.jpg
    >
    >An unknown number of round counters with round holes in the center, Red, Green and White. Most are Red, then White and the fewest are Green. Pictured on the rack in the above link.
    >
    >144 Bakelite tiles. 4 each of: 1-9 in suits Coins, Bamboo, and Characters; 4 Directions and Red, Green and White Dragons; and Also the 8 tiles for the seasons and the flowers. My wife is learning Chinese and recognizes the Seasons hanzi or characters.
    >
    >2) Written materials are listed above.
    >
    >3) Tiles and Racks are all Bakelite.
    >
    >4) I purchased the set from a sort of flea market in Anchorage, Alaska. The seller was convinced the set was from the '20s. Probably because of the Babcock booklet.
    >
    >5) The Dimensions of the tiles: Obviously metric, because they don't have an exact standard measurement of 32s of an inch or better; between 1 and 6/32 of an inch or 1 and 7/32 of an inch in length; between 27/32 of an inch and 28/32 of an inch in width; and actually right on 15/32 of an inch in thickness.
    >
    >6)Number of tiles and what pieces they are: See above.
    >
    >7) Container: See Above.
    >
    >8) Craks/Characters: Link: http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=Characters.jpg
    >
    >9) Pic of the One Bams: Ummm, I'm not entirely certain what you meant by "One Bams" but my wife thinks you mean the 1 Bamboos: They are birds (sparrows? swallows?) coloured in red, blue and green. Link: http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=1Bamboos.jpg
    >
    >10) Picture of the Dragons: Link: http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=Dragons.jpg
    >
    >11) Picture of the Flowers/Seasons: The one with red characters are the Seasons (on top) and the ones with the green characters are the flowers (on bottom) (my wife recognized the Hanzi for the Seasons, but not the Flowers) Link: http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=SeasonsandFlowers.jpg
    >
    >12) Number of Jokers: None. I don't know if the set originally had them, it just doesn't have them now. Nor does it have any Blanks.
    >
    >And here's a link for the pic of my Directions: http://s219.photobucket.com/albums/cc29/alexandertaran/?action=view¤t=Directions.jpg
    >
    >I hope this is enough information to determine the age of the set. Thank you for your assistance.

    Email me the pictures, please.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 26, 2008


    Cold wall (FAQ 19Y)

    From: "Fran S
    Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 11:35 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Could you explain the difference between a "cold " wall, and a "hot
    > wall". Are these just tables rules? I would love to fully comprehend this.
    > Thank you in advance for your help!
    > Fran S

    Hi Fran,
    I already have explained it. You can find the answer to this question in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19Y. 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, just let me know what information is missing, and please let me know how I can improve the wording of the answer 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 22, 2008


    I've found this japanese mahjong game, part 2

    >From: Willems, David
    >Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 10:42 AM
    >Subject: English version of the Flash mahjong game
    >Hello Tom,
    >Here is an english version of the same flash mahjong game:
    >http://www.nobleflash.com/index.php/game/4495/Japanese-Mahjong/
    >Happy holidays,
    >David

    Cool, thanks David.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Winter Solstice, 2008


    I've found this japanese mahjong game, see attached flash file.

    >From: Marcio Fujiy
    >Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2008 7:15 PM
    >Subject: Gamedesign flash game
    >Hi Tom!
    >I've found this japanese mahjong game in flash made by Gamedesign. It seems to be complete:
    >http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/mahjong/mahjong.html
    >Please see attached flash file.
    >Regards
    >Marcio Fujiy
    >Attachment: mahjong.swf (451 KB)

    Hi Marcio,
    I went through a number of wildly different states of mind upon receiving your email.

    I saw the email and its subject line: "Gamedesign flash game" and figured "it's an email from somebody who wants to be a game designer and he's going to ask something about Flash, but since I'm not a programmer I probably won't be able to help him. Maybe I'll be able to point him to an appropriate website."

    Then when I opened the email, I saw the body of the message, with a request to open an attachment. This made me very suspicious. It must be a trick to get me to open the attachment and let my computer be taken over by a virus. Why else would somebody be sending me an attachment and asking me to click it? Very clever ploy, finding out that I'm into mahjong...

    But then I noticed there was a URL. Not a clickable URL (those are often false, and try to send you to a site where they'll take over your browser), but one I could just copy and paste into my browser (which is always safer, especially since I have an antivirus program that alerts me if I try to go to a website with tricks up its sleeve). So I went to the website and... found a nice-looking game there.

    So, after the misleading subject line and the suspicious attachment, I've come to the conclusion that you just wanted to give me a link to add to FAQ 5. Is that right? Well, thanks, I added it. (By the way, I never did double-click the .swf file.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Winter Solstice, 2008


    Change of heart (FAQ 19AM)

    >From: Maxine
    >Sent: Saturday, December 20, 2008 11:53 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Is there a rule or is it a table rule that if you call for a tile and change your mind it is allowed ( player has not touched the tile) just decided to pass on the call . I play with a group that doesn't allow you to call without taking the tile... they said I should just say "wait"... is there a definitive rule on this?? Thanks... Player for 40 years.

    Hi Maxine, you asked:

    Is there a rule ... that if you call for a tile and change your mind it is allowed ... to pass on the call .
    The official rulebook does not have any rule against changing your mind after just saying "call." Read FAQ 19AM (the FAQ links are above left) for more about the "change of heart" rules.

    or is it a table rule
    Read FAQ 14 and learn all about how table rules should work.

    Player for 40 years.
    Well, I imagine there's still time to buy a rulebook (every table should have one). Or to bookmark FAQ 19 (assuming you play American style mah-jongg). If the wording of any answer in FAQ 19 is unclear, just let me know what information is missing, and please let me know how I can improve the wording of the answer 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 20, 2008


    Riichi variations, part 4

    >From: Vahid H
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 9:08 AM
    >Subject: Re: Question about possible Reach Mahjong variation
    >Hi Tom,
    >You may rember me as the mad scientist who still hasn't quite given up on thinking about variations on Reach Mahjong. Since you have been humoring me, I have returned once more.
    >
    >I have at last come to terms almost entirely with the JPML A-Rules, which are the most widely used competition rules in Japan (only the original dora is used, with no hidden or further doras)
    >There is also no Ippatsu in A-Rules. But Alas, I still have one or two points of contention!
    >
    >First: Menzen Tsumo. I know Zung Jung agrees with me here. Although I still prefer Reach rules. Why double the size of the hand for self draw when it so undermines the defensive aspect of the game? You are already lucky when you draw a winner in this sense, so why DOUBLE the score too? If anything it should be the other way around: Menzen Ron, so to speak. Lose it, I say. Concievably it could be at least slightly strategic if the Dead Wall were done away with.
    >
    >Second: Dead Wall. I can see that this must once have had a superstitious significance, but this should probably be dropped for competition. There is no need for a Kong Box either. Just draw from the live wall. The effect is ultimately the same. However, what about having a Dead Wall (or King's Hand, etc.) that from the very beginning of the game is instead entirely revealed rather than concealed? That would at least add some strategy in both offense and defense plus add variety in each round. I've tried it out and it seems to work well. Or just forget the dead wall.
    >
    >Third: Abortive Draw When Dealt 9 Terminals or Honours. This rule I like. That said, surely it doesn't go far enough? I actually find that a redeal on 7 "broken" tiles is the most useful way to even out extreme discrepancies in starting tiles. By this I mean that when more than half of your tiles have no partner (either matching or in sequence) then you can ask to redeal the round. Surely anyone would like this rule and it simply evens out the odds slightly.
    >
    >What do you think? I'm wondering if anyone involved in competitions might like to adopt one or more of these rules. I think it might help to spread the game of Reach internationally as one for competition rather than pure gambling. I get the feeling that even in Japan there is a desire for this change in image, so surely the rules should ultimately reflect this?
    >
    >Finally, we have tried using what you might call a Reverse Yakitori! The Yakitori tiles start face down. When you throw someone's winner (get 'Ronned') you are said to be cooked and the tile is turned over. Anyone who gets to the end of the game without throwing a single winner shares a bonus. With an Uma of +30 +10 -10 -30, we like to use a 30k bonus for this (15k each if 2 people get it) i.e. a bonus the same size as the first place bonus. We think this is a better reward for skill and good defensive play than the original Yakitori which is more for humiliation.
    >
    >If you or anyone you play with decides to try out any of the four rule variations above, please do let me know any impressions. I would also love to know if there is anyone involved in organizing competitions who might be interested in implementing these or similar rules. I really think it could help the spread of Reach!
    >V

    Hi Vahid, your questions for me in the above seem to be:

    I'm wondering if anyone involved in competitions might like to adopt one or more of these rules.
    I'm sure there must be some competitive players who would be perfectly happy to play no matter what the rules. But competition organizers have to consider what makes for the best competition, and what suits the majority of players.

    I think it might help to spread the game of Reach internationally as one for competition rather than pure gambling.
    I think what I said long ago on the mahjong newsgroup: that it's a steep uphill fight to get people to change from the way they're used to playing. In other words, people who love mahjong for gambling will keep on gambling. Japanese mahjong has its followers here in the US, but they are far outnumbered by players of American and Chinese variants. Outside of Japan, the place where those rules are held in wide regard is Europe. The international scene is already witnessing a battle between WSOM/ZJ rules and MCR, why inject a third variant into the fray, and where are you expecting to get the financial backing to fight that fight?

    I get the feeling that even in Japan there is a desire for this change in image, so surely the rules should ultimately reflect this?
    The overall question depends on whether your feeling is justified. Mahjong is so popular in Japan, I don't see any kind of upswell movement to eradicate the gambling aspect of it. Here in the US, the popularity of poker is based on the big money win - the gambling. Could you invent a variant of poker that's purely for competition without the money, and that would catch on and quash all the big money poker tournaments on cable TV? I don't think so.

    I would also love to know if there is anyone involved in organizing competitions who might be interested in implementing these or similar rules.
    You'd have to contact them. I don't think they're reading this forum.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 19, 2008


    Where can I buy a table just like that one?

    >From: Mark B
    >Sent: Friday, December 19, 2008 9:01 AM
    >Subject: mahjong table question
    >Tom,
    >I am hoping you can help me out. I have been looking for a mahjong table like the one seen in the second picture of your mahjong table faq section of your web site and pasted below. I have been doing so for years now without luck.
    >
    >Would you happen to know where I could get one of these. I am a big mahjong fan (japanese version) and would like very much to have a table designed for the game. Any help you can provide is very appreciated.
    >
    >Here is the table from your site. I would probably have to get it from a supplier that would ship it unless it was around the Indiana area. I did contact a store in Chinatown SF that had tables, but wouldn't ship them. I had also bought a table that didn't have the drawers, but it was too big. It was the size of a regular card table which made it difficult to reach across the table to the far wall.
    >Thanks,
    >Mark

    Hi Mark,
    I promise you, I don't withhold secret extra information that isn't in the FAQs. Everything I can tell you about tables, and where to buy mahjong stuff, is in the FAQs. I don't have any other information that I'm keeping out of the FAQs. Looks like you already read FAQ 7f, and maybe you've even seen FAQ 7k too. That's all I got. Sorry.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 19, 2008


    Just discovered this site

    >From: Arlene Shapiro
    >Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 11:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg site
    >Hi Tom,
    >I just returned from the 23rd Annual Mah Jongg Tournament at Sea sponsored by the NMJL and Specialty Cruises. During the course of the trip, I had the good fortune to meet a gal from Santa Cruz, CA who spoke volumes about you and your website; hence, I’ve ordered two copies of your book from Amazon.com; one for me and a gift for my cruise buddy.
    >I’ve been teaching American style NMJL rules for the past 5 years and would very much appreciate being added to your “Lessons and Teachers”.
    >State: FL
    >City/Area: North Palm Beach County
    >Type: American
    >Name: Arlene Shapiro
    >Email: artedshapiroyahoo.com
    >Thanks so much for putting it “all” out there for all the MJ mavens in the world to access.
    >May you always have love to share, health to spare and friends that care.
    >Arlene Shapiro

    Hi Arlene,
    That's so cool that you made a new friend on the cruise, that you're buying TWO copies of my book \(^_^)/ and that you've found my site. You're now added to the teachers list (FAQ 4a). Hope to hear from you again sometime.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 18, 2008


    Is this bad etiquette, cont'd.

    >From: jetjmt
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 7:19 AM
    >Subject: Re: Etiquette Question
    >Thank you, Tom. It's nice to know that I'm not the crazy one. She claims that's appropriate "table talk."
    >OY!
    >~Cindy.

    Oy indeed.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 17, 2008


    Is this bad etiquette?

    >From: jetjmt
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 7:32 PM
    >Subject: Etiquette Question
    >Hi Tom!
    >I've been reading your web site and it is GREAT! Very helpful, thank you.
    >Situation: A player says, "I know what hand you're playing...can't you see what hand she's playing?"
    >I was SHE and it irritated me because I felt like it drew attention to my tiles where maybe some of the players wouldn't have otherwise studied them as much.
    >What do you think?
    >Thank You,
    >Cindy.

    Hi Cindy,
    Yes, of course. That's clearly very bad etiquette. But in my opinion, the situation is worse than you think. I think she's most likely an inconsiderate person, and a bad sport. It's probably a character flaw, not merely a matter of her not understanding etiquette.

    I decided a long time ago that I only wanted to play with nice people. I wouldn't want to play with someone who exhibits bad sportsmanship and an inconsiderate nature. I'd state my objection to her saying such a thing, the first time she did it. She'd be off my nice player list permanently, if she didn't understand why I objected and did something inconsiderate again.

    By the way, my weekly column sometimes discusses this sort of issue. It's not always about strategy. Sometimes it's about etiquette, foibles, and odd situations that sometimes occur. Check it out - click 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 16, 2008


    Looking for feedback on my mah-jongg solitaire rules, part 7

    >From: John Kemp (KempSoli@sbcglobal.net)
    >Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 3:13 PM
    >Subject: Revised Chinese and American Solitaire Mah Jongg Rules
    >Mr. Sloper:
    >The attached are revised rules. If still willing, I'd appreciate your putting them on your bulletin board. I demonstrated the Chinese version to an experienced player, who thought it was OK.
    >Thanks.
    >JOHN KEMP
    >Attachment: SolMJWrd.doc (77.4KB)


    This is what happened in a game, part 3

    >From: Ruby
    >Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 7:06 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-jongg Q+A
    >O.K., sorry. This is what happened. The player to my left threw a 7 Bam. I called it, to complete a set I had in my hand. Then I collected her Joker which made another complete set in my hand to make Mahjongg. I did this all at once. Since I said "mahjongg" when I called for the 7 bam and then collected the joker, which I said made me mahjongg,
    > one of the players said I could not do that. Am I not allowed to call for a tile and collect a joker all in one turn?? I don't know what her objection was all about.
    >R.

    Hi R.,
    You describe exactly the events I wrote in my first response, then. And your question is exactly the question FAQ 19M answers. Actually, FAQ 19M answers several related joker redemption questions. Here is FAQ 19M again, omitting those related questions:

      Q: When can I redeem a joker? ... Can I redeem a joker after I take a discard for exposure? ...
      A: ... you must first bring a 14th tile into the hand. There are two ways to bring a 14th tile into the hand - by picking from the wall OR by taking a discard for exposure. THEN, after picking (or after taking and exposing a COMPLETE exposure), you may redeem jokers from atop anyone's rack...

    I fail to see how this doesn't answer your question, R. Please tell me what information is missing, and please let me know how I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this same question. I strive to make the FAQs useful for all seekers of mah-jongg answers, and your help with making it better would be appreciated.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 15, 2008


    This is what happened in a game, part 2

    >From: Ruby
    >Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 11:59:26 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-jongg Q+A
    >That does not completely answer my question.  I did not need the joker to complete the exposure I was taking the 7 bam for.  The joker that I was redeeming though did make my majongg for another exposure.
    >R.

    Hi R.,
    Then I don't understand the details of what happened, and exactly what your question is. Please describe the incident in full detail, with a clear question that I can answer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 14, 2008


    This is what happened in a game:

    >From: Ruby
    >Sent: Sunday, December 14, 2008 11:03:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-jongg Q+A
    >This is what happened in a game:
    >The player to my left threw a 7 bam. I called for it saying mah-jong...as I had a tile in my rack to take a joker from her exposed tiles on the same turn which I did, making me mahjongg. Did I not have the right to call for the 7 bam and take her joker all in one turn and did that not give me mahjongg?
    >R.

    R.,
    You didn't describe the event precisely, but it sounds to me like this is what you did:

    1. When she threw 7B, you said "mah-jong."
    2. You took the 7B and used it to create a complete set, exposed atop your rack.
    3. Then you redeemed a joker, as is your right, since you had 14 tiles in your hand at that time.
    4. You then exposed all the rest of your tiles.
    5. Then somebody questioned the legality of your play.

    Assuming that I have correctly stated the event, your question is answered by Frequently Asked Question #19M. 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, just let me know what information is missing, and please let me know how I can improve the wording of the answer for future askers of this same question.

    As long as you didn't do what Mary J. Wright described in her post of Thursday, November 27, 2008 (scroll down to see that post, and my answer), that is.

    Any time you have a question about American mah-jongg, you should always look in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs") first. I'm always here to answer questions that aren't already answered in the FAQs.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 14, 2008


    Looking for feedback on my mah-jongg solitaire rules, part 6*
    >From: Sylvain Malbec
    >To: John Kemp
    >Cc: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Friday, December 12, 2008 4:02 AM
    >Subject: Re: Revised Chinese & American Solitaire rules
    >Hello,
    >
    >[On] 2008/12/9 John Kemp (KempSoli@sbcglobal.net) [wrote]:
    >"Ladies & Gentlemen:"
    >Hum... As far as I know, Tom is a guy, like me.
    >Not many things to say about this new version of your one-player rule.
    >The scoring procedure is clearer now.
    >
    >"5. Hypothetical Opponent then draws the next tile and discards it. Player may claim the discard if it completes a chow or a pung."
    >I don't doubt you are aware that opponents are in a number of 3 and that you can claim a discard for a chow only if the tile is discarded by your left side's opponent.
    >But does the reader aware of this?
    >It wouldn't hurt to precise this for the sake of players.
    >
    >"9. If a Season is drawn, it is set in front of the hand and another tile drawn to make 13."
    >Replacing a season make 14 in fact.
    >"No scoring combinations in Subtotal 2"
    >You really should rewrite this sentence.
    >
    >"5. EXTENDED DRAW FACTOR"
    >I'm not sure if your square root factor is very effective.
    >I mean your "4. ADJUSTMENT FACTOR FOR % OF TILES NOT PLAYED OR DRAWN" is already doing quite the same thing. Does it make a so huge difference to justify more calculation?

    * Note: This is a continuation of a discussion that was started on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board. But it's now carried as well on the Game Design Advice Bulletin Board, which is also part of this website, because this is more of a game design discussion than anything else. - Tom Sloper


    Where can I buy it? (was: What type of set should I buy?)

    >From: Bruce
    >Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2008 12:50:39 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: where in Los Angeles can I buy a
    >152 tile American style Mah-Jongg set? I live in West L A and work in
    >Burbank so near or between those areas would be best. Thanks, Bruce

    Hi Bruce,
    Yesterday I told you: Read FAQ 7a & 7k, no matter where you live. You have apparently read FAQ 7a, but apparently you have not yet read FAQ 7k (or you wouldn't have asked this now). You can try Chinatown and Monterey Park. FAQ 7k lists a couple of shops in Chinatown that MIGHT carry American sets. I haven't explored the shops in Monterey Park. But your best bet is the Internet. Find vendors in FAQ 4a.
    May the tiles be with her.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 11, 2008


    What type of set should I buy?

    From: Bruce
    Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 6:17 PM
    Subject: Miami Beach 1960 Jewish Mahjongg
    I know nothing about Mahjongg but my wife wants to start playing and I'd like to buy her a set for Hanukkah. I live in Los Angeles and read your site about all the places I could go but, I don't know what type of set to buy. Were talking Miami Beach 1960 Jewish Mahjongg.
    Can you advise? Thanks, Bruce

    Hi Bruce,
    I call that "American" mah-jongg. You need to buy her an "American" mah-jongg set. Read FAQ 7a & 7k, no matter where you live.
    May the tiles be with her.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 10, 2008


    I am coming up blank for blank tiles, part 2

    >From: terri cullen
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2008 6:02 AM
    >Subject: RE: American mah jongg
    >I went to the Q & A and read your reply about the mah jongg tiles I am looking for. In reply to your reply: No the pamphlet is not a red one – it’s paper (very brittle and brown at this stage) and the cover says “rules for playing mah hong”. I read your interesting facts about “other” manufacturers, but there are no distinguishing marks in the rule book or on the box (sliding lid, wood) to give a hint; I do assume it’s from the 1920’s hey day. The pamphlet states that the tiles received in the set are ivory and bamboo. I also read all you had to say about bone and ivory. And your hint not to look for blanks! I did all this before I sent my initial question to you; I should have qualified it with all the above statements!
    >
    >Thanks for being so responsive to this. Also, I am navigating your strategy page better, thanks for the instructions. I will be purchasing your book. In the mean time if you can lead me further on my quest for matching tiles it would be appreciated (I’ve done extensive internet searches already and tried the sites you have links to).
    >Terri

    Hi Terri, you wrote:

    The pamphlet states that the tiles received in the set are ivory and bamboo. I also read all you had to say about bone and ivory.
    Then the chances are that you have enough information to tell you that your tiles are, in fact, not ivory but bone. OR (now that I think of it) maybe even celluloid. A thickness of just 1/16" indicates that the latter is very likely. Scroll down to Nov. 3, or use your browser's Find feature to find posts (with photos) about tiles made of "French ivory." And on the previous archived page of this board (click the "CLICK HERE" at the very bottom of this page), you'll find one dated September 13.

    And your hint not to look for blanks!
    It's not a hint. I said it right out. You're going to spend a LOT of time, with very low chances of success, if you hold out for blanks.

    I should have qualified it with all the above statements!
    That might have saved me some typing, yes. (^_^)

    I am navigating your strategy page better, thanks for the instructions.
    Cool. Hope you find it a helpful resource.

    I will be purchasing your book.
    EX-cellent! (^_^)

    If you can lead me further on my quest for matching tiles it would be appreciated
    I promise you, I have not held back any secrets from the FAQs. Everything I got is right there.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 10, 2008


    I am coming up blank for blank tiles

    >From: terri cullen
    >Email: tac_fauxpas.1verizon.net
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 6:43 PM
    >Subject: Tiles Wanted
    >Material: ivory and bamboo (have original rule pamphlet with set and it describes the tiles this way)
    >Color(s): soft white top, medium toned bamboo bottom
    >Dimensions: 1/16” thick ivory over bamboo, totaling a thickness of 7/16”. Each tile measures ¾’’ by 1”.
    >Tile(s) wanted: 4 to 8 blank tiles
    >URL (internet address) of online photos: none
    >Thank you!

    Hello Terri,
    Your Tiles Wanted announcement has been posted in the Tiles Wanted board, but it's also posted on the Q&A bulletin board because it contains an unasked question or two:

    ivory and bamboo (have original rule pamphlet with set and it describes the tiles this way)
    I'm guessing your rule pamphlet is Babcock's little red book. I'm further guessing that your rule pamphlet doesn't say in so many words, "this pamphlet is sold only with tiles made of genuine ivory." If you want to know if your tiles are ivory or not, read FAQ 7c and follow the link to the "Is It Ivory" FAQ (FAQ 7c2). Either way, you can assuredly buy bone and bamboo tiles and save yourself a lot of money. Ivory tiles would be much more expensive.

    Tile(s) wanted: 4 to 8 blank tiles
    You're making it impossibly hard on yourself if you insist on blanks only. Read FAQ 7Q.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 9, 2008


    I am coming up blank for strategy instructions

    >From: terri cullen
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 6:47 PM
    >Subject: American mah jongg
    >I have gotten into your site many times as I have been learning to play the American version of mah jongg with the National League cards. Having looked for decent books on the American version and reviewing your site many times I am coming up blank for strategy instructions. As you did for Chinese mah jongg on your site would you be willing to do a quick strategy lesson (or several) for American? The one lesson I saw referred to a very old card and without that card it’s hard to follow what you were saying. Thank you!
    >Terri C.

    Hi Terri,
    My book has an extensive chapter on strategy for American mah-jongg. And I write a weekly column, too. I think you found my column page but didn't actually look at any recent columns (I think you just looked at the introduction page). Click the purple banner above (at the very top of this page) to find the weekly column, and read the instructions so you can get recent and ongoing strategy.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 9, 2008


    Looking for feedback on my mah-jongg solitaire rules, part 5

    >From: John Kemp (KempSoli@sbcglobal.net)
    >To: Sylvain Malbec
    >Cc: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, December 8, 2008 3:23:55 PM
    >Subject: Revised Chinese & American Solitaire rules
    >Ladies & Gentlemen:
    >I may have sent you an e-mail about my revisions without the attachment. If so, please forgive.
    >I have incorporated some of your suggestions, which I think have improved these games substantially. You will notice that in the Chinese I have changed the adjustment for late Mah Jongg from a % of tiles left in the wall times an arbitrary factor to the square root of the % left in the wall. I think that this would more effectively encourage trying for Mah Jongg instead of piling up a high score with impunity.
    >I've left the American game penalty/reward as a straight %, as there is not nearly as much doubling in the American game.
    >Am curious about what you think about all this.
    >Best regards.
    >JOHN KEMP
    >Attachment: SolMJW.doc (67KB)

    Mr. Kemp,
    Providing feedback on folks' game designs goes well beyond the service I can offer for no charge. Hopefully some reader will give you the feedback you're looking for.
    Tom Sloper
    Game Design Consultant
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 8, 2008


    Another scammer, part 2

    >From: Rev. Mikel Green (mikel.green53@gmail.com)
    >Sent: Monday, December 8, 2008 6:14:53 AM
    >Subject: Re: ORDER
    >Can you please Advice me the cost on this 12x12 tiles so that I can
    >proceed with the order and do you accept credit card as the term of
    >payment? please advice

    Hi Rev. Green,
    As I said in my previous correspondence, the price varies depending on the amount desired. There's a price break for larger quantities. How many tiles do you need? And the price varies depending on which tiles you want, as well. Are you interested in the Japanese, Chinese, or American tiles?
    We do accept credit card (Visa, MC, AmEx, but not Discover).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tim Sliper

    Dear readers:
    I hope you realize that I don't really sell 12x12 tiles here -- this is a mah-jongg information site! I'm just stringing this scammer along. And trust me, he IS a scam artist. To learn about the sort of scams that often target online mah-jongg sellers, click HERE.


    What's the best way to do a 3-player Charleston?

    >From: "Chak12
    >Sent: Monday, December 8, 2008 2:47:38 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What do recommend is the best way to play with three people? I have played several variations, but find that the "honor" system of "returning" jokers to the wall, once you pick there, may not be the best way to play. Any suggestions?
    >Thanks, Helaine

    Hi Helaine,
    My crystal ball tells me that you're talking about the Charleston. I assume your group's table rules permit you to keep a joker you pick during play.

    I can't tell you the "best" way to do a 3-player Charleston. I can only tell you what it says in the official rulebook (but you really ought to have a copy of that -- everybody should), and the way my group does it.

    The official way of doing a Charleston with 3 players is answered in FAQ 13a (the FAQs are above left).

    And the way my group does it is also described there. Your group came up with an unenforceable "honor" rule of not permitting jokers to be acquired during the process. In my opinion, an unenforceable rule is probably a bad one, so should be dropped. My group took a different approach - if you got a joker, you were lucky. Read FAQ 14.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 8, 2008


    Another scammer

    From: "Rev. Mikel Green" (mikel.green53@gmail.com)
    To: webcontroller©abacussurfaces.com
    Sent: Sunday, December 07, 2008 9:10 AM
    Subject: ORDER
    > Hello,
    > I'm rev. mikel green and I will like to know whether you do sell
    > tiles with the size 12x12.And if you have some, then reply me back
    > with the prices per ones you do have.so that I can let you know the
    > quantity am interest in purchasing.Thanks and hope to read from you
    > soon.
    > My regards
    > REV.mikel green

    Dear Rev. Green,
    Yes, we have some lovely 12x12 tiles, in American, Japanese, and Chinese designs. The prices are all clearly stated on the website. They vary depending on the number of tiles you wish to purchase. What quantities are you looking for, and where would you like them shipped?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tim Sliper
    December 7, 2008


    Want to find a HKOS game near Chinatown L.A.

    >From: Jeni Z (dragonfly213)
    >Sent: Saturday, December 6, 2008 12:46:21 PM
    >Subject: Invitation to connect on LinkedIn
    >LinkedIn
    >Jeni Z requested to add you as a connection on LinkedIn:
    >Big fan of MJ and your www. I play 3-5 fans on Yahoo, and want to find a game or group to watch play tiles near Chinatown / downtown Los Angeles. Know of any? I have a bakelite set that needs some action :)
    >- Jeni
    >View invitation from Jeni Z

    Hi Jeni,
    All you have to do is be in the old part of Chinatown on a Sunday morning. Walk around, you'll hear the tiles. But there's a problem. The folks who are playing don't really want strangers interfering with their game. They're there to play, not to teach outsiders and not to have interlopers join in and screw up the game by playing wrongly. Breaking into that circle requires a creative and sensitive approach.

    I don't know if they play Hong Kong style or not, but they might. Regardless, I doubt very much that they play with a 3-fan (much less a 5-fan) restriction on winning. The folks who play on Yahoo are hardcore. The folks who gather in Chinatown are probably in it for the companionship, the pleasure of handling the tiles and being among friends. If you can get them to let you just observe silently for a while, you might get a chance to sit in.

    As for your old set, try the tips in FAQ 15 (above left).

    Let us know how it goes! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 6, 2008


    Technical support

    >From: Emma
    >Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008 8:41 AM
    >Subject: Shanghai second dynasty
    >Tom
    >Many moons ago we purchased Shanghai, and played it many many times. We have since had to change our computer and now we are unable to load the v1.1 patch due to localization issues.
    >The localization utility no longer appears to be available.
    >Hope you can help.
    >Regards
    >Emma

    You didn't try hard enough to find it. Go to activision.com/support, click Activision (not Activision Value), and type "shanghai second dynasty" into the search box there. The localization utility is right there. Very easy to find. Took me less than 40 seconds to locate it.
    If you need more help with that game, do not come to me. Read FAQ 24 (above left). Only a game's publisher can provide full technical support for a computer game... Not an ex-employee who hasn't gotten a cent from that publisher in the past 8 years, if you get my drift.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 6, 2008


    Thanks

    >From: allan s
    >Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 11:56 AM
    >Subject: Thank you for Mahjong information
    >Hello Tom,
    >I came across your website while searching for information about Mahjong tables. Just wanted to thank you for having all of the information available out there. I even read your page about the electronic machine you bought from EBAY and then restored. I really enjoyed your technique of documenting the entire experience, with pictures and callouts.
    >Anyway, thank you.
    >Allan

    (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 5, 2008


    Column #389

    >From: Willems, David
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 6:54 AM
    >Subject: Column #389
    >Sorry to hear the news about the janso. I'd imagine there are/were some in NYC where I'm from. I remember contact Jenn from Reachmahjong and she said indeed there were but that they are considered illegal due to the gambling aspect and so you really need to be able to speak Japanese in order to find them and play there. Are jansos in LA considered legal? I'd love to play on an automatic table at some point, and if there were mahjong centers open in NYC (similar to chess and go centers here), I'd certainly do my share of supporting it. I think opening something like that up to non-Japanese speakers and have the money come from renting the tables would be a way to keep some clubs open. Here's hoping they can find a new space soon.
    >- David

    Hi David, you wrote:

    I think opening something like that up to non-Japanese speakers and have the money come from renting the tables would be a way to keep some clubs open.
    Yes, that would be fine. There's no law in L.A. against having a club where people gather to play games. Gambling requires a special license and probably also depends on the location.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 3, 2008


    Frequently Asked Question 19AY

    >From: Diane2347
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 7:08 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player discards a tile and calls the wrong tile but she has the tile she called in her hand does she have to take the tile out of her hand to discard the tile. i.e. she throws a 4 bam but calls it a 7 crack. She has a 7 crack in her hand, is she obligated to take it out of her hand and put it down.
    >Thank you.
    >Diane

    Hi Diane,
    This question has been asked many times before, most recently by Ellen and Dean on Thursday, November 13 (scroll down to read it). You can find the answer to this and many other often-asked questions in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19AY. 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, just let me know what information is missing, and please let me know how I can improve the wording of the answer 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 3, 2008


    Riichi variations, part 3

    >From: Vahid H
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 6:00 PM
    >Subject: Re: Question about possible Reach Mahjong variation
    >Hi again Tom,
    >You have kindly responded to a couple of recent messages I sent concerning variations on Reach Mahjong.
    >I have specifically been interested in maximizing the skill factor and minimizing the luck factor, to which you replied that perhaps Reach would not be the best place to start. Which version of Mahjong would you suggest? I had always thought that Reach was a rather skillful ruleset, considering that sheer complexity in some rules does not equal a more skillful game per se.
    >
    >So far I have been tinkering around and find that I generally prefer Reach with these changes:
    >NO BONUS TILES (no doras of any kind)
    >NO BONUS RESTRICTIONS (all hands can be open except for reach)
    >NO BONUSES PURELY FOR LUCK (such as ippatsu and maybe menzen tsumo)
    >NO DEAD TILES (no dead wall of any kind)
    >I find that losing the dead wall is perhaps the most important factor.
    >2 BONUS MINIMUM (two hand bonuses with no doras) can also be good perhaps, because it incentivizes difficult hands a little more. it disallows hands with reach only, and discourages players with two dragons stealing a third one right away and just going for broke. 5+ dealer repeat would raise the bar to 3 BONUS.
    >As with most rules, you can still get paid on a draw round for being tenpai with no hand bonuses.
    >
    >Lastly, this is a bit of a side note, but:
    >The thing I don't like about doras is that they give you the same credit as hands that are much harder to get. Perhaps they could give a linear bonus instead, like +300 payout, but why not just do away with them instead?
    >
    >If you really want doras, just toned down, you could limit them to one and make it so that the dora indicator is the bonus tile itself such that there are less available. I also think using three red fives instead of doras is possibly more balanced.
    >
    >I have also tinkered with other ideas to replace the dead wall/doras, such as what I call the 'bank'. Put four random tiles face up at the beginning of the game. These can be stolen at any time, as long as they immediately complete a winning hand. Only players who Reach may do this. This allows possibilities for planning ahead. Scores for it are calculated as a self-drawn win. Since there is no Dead Wall, extra tiles after a quad may be drawn from the bank or from the Live Wall.
    >
    >Another possibility for the bank is that each player is dealt 14 tiles at the start of the game, choosing one (after looking at their hands) to discard face down, sideways in front of their discard piles. These are then turned over, one bank tile associated with each player. The game then begins. These can, again, be stolen at any time if a player can go out. In this case, the player whose bank tile is stolen must pay the winner in full (as with Ron). If you steal your own bank tile, it is scored as with Tsumo. Once more, this introduces some interesting planning strategies. You can bank a tile which suits your hand as a future winner, but something like a red dragon could easily be used against you by an opponent! seat wind is a good choice.
    >
    >Anyway... sorry for the long message! Any thoughts on this madness? What other changes or versions might you suggest?

    Hi Vahid,
    My thoughts on this "madness," you ask? (^_^) I swore off making up mah-jongg variations a long time ago. I figure the world doesn't need more confusing choices.
    The reason I like Japanese riichi/dora majan is because it has so much luck in it. That adds to the suspense and fun, in my opinion. So I really don't see why you'd start with that variant when your goal is to strip out the luck and make a solely skill-based variant. I think MCR or Zung Jung, which were both designed specifically for competitions, would be a better starting point. Zung Jung is the variant designed by Alan Kwan, and is used in the World Series of Mahjong events in Macau. And yes, remove all purely luck-based scoring elements from the game. I already said, in my previous response, that I think you risk reducing the fun thereby. Those are my thoughts on this "madness" of which you speak.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    December 2, 2008


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