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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(
Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
3. Books on Mah-Jongg
  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
4b Lots O' Links!
5. Computer MJ
6. "Rosetta Stone"
7.
  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
  7c. What's It Made Of?
   7c2. Is It Ivory?
   7c3. One Word: Plastics
  7d. Bits And Pieces
  7e. "Mystery Tiles"
  7f. Playing Tables
  7g. How Old Is It?
  7h. How Much Is It Worth?
  7i. Cards... and Kards
  7j. Tips For Buyers
  7k. Where To Buy (US/Eur.)
  7m. Where To Buy (Asia)
  7n. Tips For Sellers
  7o. Cleaning & Restoring
  7p. "Tell Me Anything"
  7q. "I Need Blank Tiles!"
  7r. "I Need Jokers!"
  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
  7t. DIY Joker Stickers
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
The 2002 WCMJ
The 2003 CMOC
The 2005 OEMC
The 2005 CMCF
The 2006 CMCF
The 2007 OEMC
The 2007 WMJC
Pictures of Japan
Beautiful Nikko, Japan
A Hong Kong MJ Adventure
Pictures of Beijing
Shanghai Second Dynasty
Mah-Jongg Friends

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The Mah-Jongg Q & A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

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

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

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

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

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

    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.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted.

    If clicking the picture below doesn't work for you, email your question to me. You can use Webmaster@Sloperama.com if you like. 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.


  • Can I do two questions? (part 2)

    >From: Ellen
    >Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 10:29 AM
    >Subject: Question/Answer to 3/31/09 post
    >Hi again Tom,
    >I called the Mahj league yesterday, and asked about the following scenario. Their reply was that you cannot do it this way. You have to be totally ready, with everything else already on your rack and/or in your hand, to be able to call the pair for mahj. Hope this helps.
    >Thanks, Ellen

    Hi Ellen,
    You're referring to the post, "Can you do two moves?" from Mary J., posted Thursday, January 29 (three months ago). Mary J.'s Q&A has fallen off the bottom of this page but for the benefit of readers, one can click the link at the bottom to go back in time and read that old question but here it is anyway:

      >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?

    Note that Mary J. was talking about a hand on the old 2008 card: EE 222 2222 222 WW. I had replied to Mary J.:

      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."

    Then you asked me about that on March 31 (below), and here we are now in the present. You say you telephoned the League? You didn't present the situation in writing, and you didn't get an answer in writing. And I have to tell you, I've seen many cases where people asked questions of the League by telephone, and got conflicting answers. And it's easy to see why telephone is a much less reliable way to solidify rulings than snailmail.

    First, there's the clarity with which the question is phrased to the League. If you should misspeak the question, the answer can be all wrong.
    Even if you state everything in a crystal clear manner, the listener could get distracted and miss something, or misunderstand something you say, or even just forget where you started by the time you finish.
    Then there's the clarity of what the responder says back to you. She has to state the rule in a clear manner that is absolutely true to the question you actually intended to ask, not leaving anything out. If she gets this wrong, the answer you get could be wrong.
    Even if the responder gives you the precise and correct answer to what you asked (what you intended her to understand about your question), you can misunderstand the reply and hear a different thing than what she intended you to understand about her answer.
    Then after you've gotten an answer by phone, there's the problem of it now being just your word that you got that answer. You have no evidence (unless you recorded the call).

    Any mishap in steps A, B, C, or D will result in a flawed ruling. For these reasons, the League recommends that requests for rulings be in writing. And I concur with that recommendation.

    HOWEVER. I believe you. And I believe that the information you're giving me shows that I erred in my response to Mary J. before.

    I now understand that one whose hand is ready but with a redeemable tile must be able to first make a legal exposure. In other words, the wait must not be to complete a pair or to fill in a single, when waiting but with a redeemable tile.

    So you can't say "mahj" in this case, given this new verbal ruling you got yesterday. You have to say "call" and make one legal exposure. If you're able, that is. (And in the case of Mary J.'s scenario, this was in fact not the case.) Then, after making the legal exposure, you can redeem and say "mahj."

    As it turns out, nothing in my book or my FAQs said otherwise and needs to be corrected. Which is a relief to me but inconsequential to anyone else, I suppose. And I should just shut up now. Thanks for raising this most interesting question, Ellen.

    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)
    April 30, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question 19G

    >From: "JDBASSOC
    >Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 5:55:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom
    >Can a player pick up a joker if it is discarded and a joker will give the player Mahjongg?
    >Thanks, Marie

    Hi Marie,
    Read FAQ 19G.1. 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)
    April 30, 2009


    Those same questions about "2009" and "NEWS" again

    >From: Elizabeth
    >Sent: Thursday, April 30, 2009 7:00:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can a player pick up a discarded wind to complete the sequence NEWS and then expose it?
    >Can a player pick up a discarded 2, 0, or 9 to complete the sequence 2009 and then expose it?
    >If not, can the player pick up the discarded tile to Mah Jongg?
    >Thanks.
    >Elizabeth

    Elizabeth,
    Donald asked this exact same question on Tuesday. Scroll down and see the response I gave to his question, entitled 'Questions about "2009" and "NEWS".'
    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)
    April 30, 2009

    P.S. (Hint: you've asked the three related Frequently Asked Questions 19E.1, 19E.2, and 19E.3.)


    FINALLY! I've posted my photos from my Mumbai trip last month. Click here if you wanna see'em. (Hint: if you don't wanna see'em, just don't click there.)


    Questions about "2009" and "NEWS"

    >From: Donald
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 5:10:04 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >1. 2009 are we able to use jokers or just white Dragons?
    >2. is 2009 considered singles?
    >3. is the NEWS considered singles or for NEWS can you call for the E or W, etc - open hand of course?
    >I have played with 2 different groups this week & each group plays differently.
    >Thank you for your assistance -

    2009 are we able to use jokers or just white Dragons?
    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. Always check the FAQs first. This particular question is answered in FAQ 19E.2.

    is 2009 considered singles?
    Also answered in FAQ 19E.2.

    is the NEWS considered singles or for NEWS can you call for the E or W, etc - open hand of course?
    Now you've asked FAQ 19E.1.

    I have played with 2 different groups this week & each group plays differently.
    Read FAQ 14. And may I say that I think your groups each need to have a copy of the official rules. Read FAQ 3.

    May the tiles be with you. Y'all come back anytime if those FAQs aren't clear, now.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 28, 2009


    Does the new 2009 book have any new or different than the 2003 book?

    >From: Jeryl
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 2:41:27 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Does the new 2009 book have any new or different than the 2003 book?
    >Jeryl

    Hi Jeryl,
    I'd love to help you with the information you're seeking, but I'm kinda fuzzy on what it is you're asking. Are you asking how the 2009 National Mah Jongg League card (see FAQ 7i, above left) differs from the now-ancient 2003 National Mah Jongg League card?
    Or are you asking about some book (see FAQ 3a) that was recently published, as compared to some other book, published in 2003? If so, what are their titles, and who wrote those books?
    May the answer 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)
    April 28, 2009


    "Pie" (FAQ 19.W.2)

    >From: Tom and Dana
    >Sent: Monday, April 27, 2009 11:25:52 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >First, thanks for such a wonderful site........a wealth of info I didn't know was out there until last night.
    >It is very helpful.
    >I did look thru the various FAQ's and found some info about "pie". We have a $5 per session when we play on our weekend outing, but none on our regular nights.
    >Once your pie is used up, do you continue to play just not paying? And a follow up. If you run out of money, continue to play and then start winning, do you just play and pay as normal? Sorry if this is a stupid question, but we are running into differing opinions on what should happen. Thanks so much for your clarification, in advance !!
    >Dana Newton


    >From: Tom and Dana
    >Sent: Monday, April 27, 2009 12:48:48 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Please forgive my last email, I reread what you had written and answered my questions.
    >Save your time for someone else.
    >Again, thanks for your wonderful work on your site....it is soooooo helpful.
    >Dana Newton

    Yay! The FAQs work! (^_^)
    But note that "pie" is not actually covered by the official rules.
    May the tiles be with you, Dana.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 27, 2009


    How to divide the chips?

    >From: Diane
    >Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2009 7:10:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I inherited a relative’s mahjong set which had no money chips. I purchased a bag of chips but don’t remember how to divide the different colors on each of the racks. Any suggestions?
    >Thanks,
    >Diane

    Yes, Diane. I suggest you read FAQ 7D.
    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 at them).

    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)
    April 26, 2009


    How to build walls when using 148 tiles?

    >From: terrym
    >Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2009 12:03:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: How do you set up your walls when playing with 4 jokers (148 tiles) we always wind up with 4 extra tiles and don't know what to do with them...thank you

    Hi Terrym, I don't set up my walls with 148 tiles, but I can think of a number of possible ways you could set them up:

    You could put the 4 additional tiles on the end of one wall (any wall, but probably the dealer's wall or the wall to the right of the dealer);
    You could add 1 stack to two walls (so two walls are 18 stacks long and two walls are 19 stacks long);
    You could add a "tail" -- which is easy to show how to do but I'm too lazy to try to describe it in words, much less draw you a picture, so I recommend you go with either #1 or #2.
    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)
    April 26, 2009


    Question about white dragons

    >From: Judy
    >Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 1:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-jongg Q & A
    >My Mah-jongg question is:
    >My friend and I were comparing our old sets and see that neither my set from the 1920's or hers from the 1880's China has white dragon tiles. I just thought mine were missing but now that hers is also missing it makes me wonder.
    >Did they use white dragons in the older sets? Am I likely to find 4 similar tiles (bone and bamboo) ? Neither set has jokers but my set has 8 blank tiles I can use as jokers.
    >Thanks
    >Judy

    Hi Judy,
    (^_^) Apparently you haven't read Frequently Asked Questions #7E or 7B. If you scroll up anc click the links to FAQs 7e and 7b, above left, all your questions will be answered. Read carefully (and look at the pictures)!*

    But please, tell me more about your friend's 1880s set. How does she know that it's an 1880's set? Would it be possible to see pictures of it? Sets that old are EXTREMELY rare (the only sets I have heard of that are known to be that old are in museums). So forgive me that I have to be skeptical of her set's age. I own a set or two from before 1920, and I know a thing or two about pre-1920s sets. Any way you can back up this assertion that hers is that old?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 25, 2009

    *P.S. Hint: this is a picture of a not-uncommon type of white dragon tile:


    Conflicting claim - who's right?

    >From: MSTARR60
    >Sent: Saturday, April 25, 2009 3:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I called for a tile being thrown by the player opposite me. I exposed my tiles and the player to the left of me said, "oh I was going to call that tile"
    >I maintain that she was too late to call and I kept the tile and the game proceeded.
    >I really think I was correct, but I'd like your opinion on the matter.
    >Neither of us called the tile for Mah Jongg.
    >Thank you.
    >Margie

    Hi Margie,
    This isn't exactly covered in FAQs 19C, 19H, & 19AT. I hope you've read those FAQs (or that you will). Although it's not a race, there is such a thing as being too slow. On the other hand, there's also such a thing as being too quick.

    If I assume that you didn't pounce way too fast to expose your tiles (without first taking the discard in question), then I have to say that the other lady was too slow to speak. She should have been able to speak up in the same time that you were exposing your tiles. However, your claim for the tile would be stronger if you'd taken the tile and placed it atop your rack before she spoke. And even stronger if you were earlier in line for the tile than she (considering the order of play).

    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)
    April 25, 2009


    I am going to open a store

    >From: hoangquan
    >Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2009 7:39:07 AM
    >Subject: HI tomster
    >I am quan. I am from vietnam. I like boardgames and cardgames. But in my country , no have store sell them. I am going to open a store ( it will be the first store sell board and card in vietnam). I have a problem, i have not a experience . I know you are the famous in boardgamer. I hope you will help me . thanks you.

    Hello Quan,
    I have no experience running a store either. I wish you luck, but I don't see how I could be of any help to you.
    Best regards,
    Tom Sloper
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 23, 2009


    Love your book, part 2

    >From: Ann
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 5:32:43 PM
    >Subject: Re: Love your book!
    >Dear Tom --
    >::chuckle:: We who aren't rich have to improvise at times, not so? It's a good set for practice, and would work for a game, with racks. What more could one ask?
    >
    >Now why would I send you hate mail? You wrote a very helpful book, with excellent tips for beginners (especially including the "don't try to win, just keep the game going" part). Luck and (lack of) skill finally combined last Monday to give me my first win on the very last discard, so may I add "Don't quit till the game's over" to your advice?
    >
    >Seriously, I don't understand why anyone would send hate mail to someone who's just trying to help -- I must be dense, I suppose. Hopefully, there are enough of those of us who express appeciation for your work to balance out the ungrateful ones.
    >May you always draw the tiles you need!
    >Ann Wilson

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


    Love your book!

    >From: Ann
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 4:10:00 PM
    >Subject: Love your book!
    >Dear Tom::
    >You might get a kick out of this. I bought your book a month (or maybe a bit more) ago, and read the American-rules section several times, then had about a 2-hour practice session with my landlady and her sister-in-law. Well, two weeks ago, I had my first real game at the local senior center. I didn't win any, but afterward, my landlady told me several people asked her if it was =really= the first time I'd played! That made me feel good, and I attribute a lot of it to what I learned from your book and web page -- thank you very much!
    >
    >(NB -- I had played before, but it was over 50 years ago, and one of the Oriental versions, so it doesn't count. I'd also played the Kyodai solitare version, so I was familiar with most of the tiles we used.)
    >
    >In case you think it may help others to mention it, that week I made myself a "practice set" by rubber-cementing three sheets of posterboard together, and gluing a photocopy of my landlady's set (I imagine a computer print of tiles would work, if findable) to it, then cutting the fake tiles out. Using those, I was able to study the possibilities on my NMJA card without delaying a game, then simulate the first Charleston round, studying again as necessary. It was a real help in familiarizing this beginner with the card, I must say!
    >
    >Thanks again for your wonderful book -- I strongly recommend it for anyone wanting to play this fascinating game.
    >Ann Wilson

    Hi Anne,
    Wow, you made your own practice set. That's the kind of thing I would do! (^_^)
    Also, I admire your attitude. Some folks would've written me a hatemail saying "I didn't win any!" But you were happy to just play and not appear a total novice. And that's the kind of attitude that's going to make you lots of mah-jongg friends.
    So nice of you to write. 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)
    April 22, 2009


    I need blank tiles because I bought a Chinese set but I play American mah-jongg! (requently sked uestion 7Q)

    From: "Jane
    Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 2:24 PM
    Subject: chinese blank tiles
    >I mistakenly bought a majhong set in Chinatown and did not realize
    > they do not play with jokers and that their tile size is different.
    > Do you know WHERE I can get some blank tiles so I can then apply joker
    > stickers? The tile size is 1" wide X 3/8" high X 11/16" deep. Any
    > help you can offer would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Jane,
    Read the reply I gave to "M and K" on April 15 (below) and read Frequently Asked Question #7Q (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)
    April 21, 2009


    uestion about uints #1

    >From: Arlene
    >Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 1:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: In "Quints", please explain the top line. A partner put up a 1, two 2's and a 3.....is this correct? The rest of her Mah Jongg was okay, since she showed the 2's in 2 different suits.

    Hi Arlene,
    The 2009 hands are explained in the Frequently Asked Questions (there's a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this , pointing to the FAQs). Find the link to FAQ #16 (there's a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this , pointing at it) and click it to see the explanation of Quints #1. (This hand is also explained on the National Mah Jongg League's website, 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)
    April 20, 2009


    This week's column, part 2

    >From: LBK1331
    >Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 6:37 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks for the Tip of the Hat!!!
    >I've learned to play Mah-Jongg this year by reading your columns and your book!!! I look forward to your columns.
    >But, the picture is still the same. 4 Wh 4 R

    Hello L,
    You probably need to refresh your browser.
    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)
    April 19, 2009


    This week's column

    >From: LBK1331
    >Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 4:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding your column #402 number 10:
    >you say the exposed 4 white dragons and 4 red dragons could be
    >2009 #3
    >I don't see how. #3 needs 4 green dragons and 4 red dragons.
    >The whites would be needed for the pair in 2009.
    >What am I missing?

    Hi LBK,
    I was just testing to see if anybody was paying attention. :p
    You're not missing anything. That picture has been fixed now, thanks 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)
    April 19, 2009


    Some suggestions for your book

    >From: Ellen
    >Sent: Saturday, April 18, 2009 6:43 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Just finished reading your new book (the American Mahj part), and it taught me some new things and reinforced some old ideas. I also read your “errata” file and made the changes in the book.
    >I do have some corrections and suggestions and questions, as follows:
    >
    >Page 50 - #45a – perhaps for newbies, it would be helpful to have the name of at least one tile that is not a “one something,” so they understand not to use the plural of the suit (for example, “two dot” as opposed to “two dots,” “six bam and not six bams,” etc). I know that you name the tiles at the end of the book page 108, but this would help earlier.
    >
    >Page 54 - #66c & page 55 - #69a – you say that the hand must be displayed as separate sets, and then you add that it must be organized in the order shown on the card. I read this as saying that you must have the exposures in card order. Later in the book, you say that it is a courtesy (“polite and customary”) to show the exposures in card order (page 107).
    >
    >Page 81 – under Singles and Pairs, you might emphasize that all singles and pairs hands are always concealed, and no jokers are allowed (it never hurts to remind us again and again!).
    >
    >Page 93 – At the bottom, I think that if Esther bet on Alice and she gets paid by everybody, she’s making out like a bandit! I think it should say that “if Esther bet on Betty…” she would get paid the same as Betty is paid.
    >
    >Page 97 – Under “erroneous call for exposure,” you say “…even racking it (putting it atop the flat portion of her rack)…” I found it a little confusing to use “racking it” in that instance, since I always think of racking a tile as putting the tile on the sloping front of your rack (like in “window of opportunity” discussions).
    >
    >Page 99 – under Picking, you say that merely touching the tile does not commit her to keeping it. I always thought that if you touched it, it’s yours. Is that only in tournaments?
    >
    >Page 101 – You say that it is not recommended to call yourself dead. Isn’t it “can’t” call yourself dead?
    >
    >Page 109 – you say that you should keep your hands behind your rack, because you can obscure tiles on the table. Should you mention anything about others cheating, and how to look out for that? Or should we just hope that everyone is honest?
    >
    >When I’ve taught mahj before, to help people with the matching dragons concept, I say that reds go with cracks because when your hands are cracked, they’re red and you use soap to wash dots off. It’s helped me to think of that over the years.
    >I’m now going to put your book in my mahj bag for easy reference. Thank you!
    >Ellen

    Welcome back, Ellen,
    Thanks for writing:

    Page 50
    Good idea. Added to list of things to change in future edition (but not an erratum, so not added to errata).

    Page 54 - #66c & page 55 - #69a
    See rule 60.e.

    Page 81
    Look again. It says jokers are impossible to use.

    Page 93
    Clear erratum, huge blunder on my part. Thanks, added to errata.

    Page 97
    Good catch. Added to errata.

    Page 99
    See the 2006 NMJL bulletin, as cited in FAQ 19AM.

    Page 101
    In FAQ 19AC, I cited the 2005 NMJL bulletin. I checked it again and you're right. The word "cannot" is used. Added to errata.

    Page 109
    I think cheating is a topic worth its own section. I don't think it necessarily needs to fall under the heading of "etiquette." (^_^) Not added to errata, but added to list of things to add in future edition.

    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)
    April 18, 2009


    Errata erratum

    From: "Georgianna
    Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 7:13 PM
    Subject: error in errata to RR WW
    > Dear Tom,
    > The errata states:
    > P. 53 - Rule 53.c. This rule as written here may have been misconstrued
    > from a rule given in a yearly bulletin from the National Mah Jongg
    > League. Clarification is being sought from the NMJL, but it is assumed
    > that the proper rule is as follows:
    >
    > Once the player has lifted the discard from the table or exposed tiles
    > from her hand, she is committed to taking the discard. Merely
    > verbalizing a call for the discard does not commit her to taking the tile.
    >
    > This cannot be Rule 53 as it has only one part. It is not likely to be
    > Rule 63.c. as that is a different topic.
    > I assume this is Rule 60.c.
    >
    > Thought you might like to correct the Errata.
    > Georgianna
    >
    > PS I enjoy the strategy column very much and it helped me learn a lot
    > about the Charleston. It was very hard in the beginning when there was
    > a typo on the answers to exercises and they were never later corrected.
    > I started playing in mid-summer and had gone back to all the earlier
    > columns for the specific NMJL and had a really hard time because I
    > didn't know enough then to recognize that periodically there were errors
    > on the answers. This was particularly true when you experimented with
    > playing a full game.

    Hi Georgianna, you wrote:

    This cannot be Rule 53 as it has only one part. It is not likely to be
    > Rule 63.c. as that is a different topic.
    > I assume this is Rule 60.c.
    You assume correctly! Thanks for pointing that out. In fact, the whole erratum needed to be rewritten since it was treading on the toes of rule 111 (which talks about changing one's mind about taking a discard). So I've rewritten it and posted the fixed errata file, thanks to you. (^_^)

    the strategy column ...was very hard... when there was
    > a typo ... and they were never later corrected.
    If such typos still exist, I'd love to fix them.

    there were errors
    > on the answers... particularly ... when you experimented with
    > playing a full game.
    I'd love to fix any outstanding errors, hint, hint.

    May the tiles be with you, Georgianna.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 17, 2009


    I need jokers for my Chinese set. (FAQ 7R) (part 4)

    >From: M and K
    >Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 10:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Dear Tom,
    >Sorry for all the repeats. Each time I emailed you, the message said error and I assumed it did not go to you.
    >Six minuters is a very fast reply. Winds away.
    >Kandy

    Hi Kandy, you wrote:

    Sorry for all the repeats.
    No prob! (^_^)

    Six minuters is a very fast reply.
    Yeah. Very. If I ever manage one of those, I should get a cupcake or something. (^_^)

    Winds away.
    ??

    May the tiles be with you. And I mean that sincerely.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 16, 2009


    Is there a way to even the playing field in a tournament?

    >From: sandi
    >Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2009 5:05:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Torunament question
    >I am planning on running a tournament in the fall. Our organization is made up of players with all levels of experience from the beginner to the advanced. My question is two-fold.
    > 1. Should players stay in their "compentcy" level during the tournament to make scoring more fair?
    > 2. Is there a way to handicap players the way they do in bowling to even the playing field and give everyone the chance to win?
    >Thanks
    >Sandi

    Hi Sandi,
    Bowling is a game of skill. Mah Jongg is a game of luck and skill. Everyone does have a chance to win.

    In all the tournaments I've played in, I have never experienced any attempt to level the playing field or handicap anyone. The closest I've seen to that is what was done at some international events: Rather than maintain a predetermined table rotation, after the morning rounds, the afternoon table assignments can be based on standings achieved by lunchtime. High-scorers are then pitted against high-scorers, and low-scorers against low-scorers. This gives the low-scorers a better chance at winning. But it requires the judges to have a system in place so they can create a new seating arrangement (one that still lets players play against players they haven't previously met) and have it posted by the time lunch is finished.

    Another thing you could do is what was done at the 2007 World Championship in Chengdu. Have the final round played by just the top 16 players (or top 8, or top 12). When this was done in Chengdu, the players who didn't place were a captive audience. Nobody grabbed a taxi to the airport and flew back to the home country -- everybody watched enthralled as the top 16 played (not that there was anything to watch, but we couldn't tear our eyes away). But assuming your tournament is a local affair, you'd probably see everybody put their mah jongg sets in their cars and drive home during the final runoff, rather than stick around for the awards and door prizes.

    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)
    April 16, 2009


    I need jokers for my Chinese set. I need jokers for my Chinese set. I need jokers for my Chinese set. (Frequently Asked Question #7R)

    >From: M and K
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 1:37:25 PM
    >Subject: Accessories Wanted
    >What I want is/are: I purchased a mah-jongg set in china several years ago. Do you know someone who matches color tiles so I can purchase 8 tiles for jokers?

    >From: M and K
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 1:40:59 PM
    >Subject: Accessories Wanted
    >I need 8 jokers tiles. Who would I send a tile from my set so they could match the color?
    >Thanks,
    >Kandy

    >From: Minoo
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 1:46:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-jongg tiles
    >Hi,
    >Do you know of a company that matches tile color so I can purchase 8 tiles to be made into jokers? I have a eastern set so no jokers.
    >Thanks,
    >Kandy

    Hi Kandy, you wrote:

    Do you know someone who matches color tiles so I can purchase 8 tiles for jokers?
    Yes. There are links to two websites at the top of my Tiles Wanted bulletin board. Link to the BBs above left, or go to http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/wanted.htm.

    Who would I send a tile from my set so they could match the color?
    Besides the two companies listed atop the Tiles Wanted BB, you'll find even more folks who have orphan tiles to sell -- they're listed on the Tiles For Sale bulletin board. Use the BB link above left, or go to http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/selltrade.htm

    Do you know of a company that matches tile color so I can purchase 8 tiles to be made into jokers?
    In addition to the two bulletin boards, you could also read FAQ 7R. The FAQ links are above left.

    By the way, when you email me a question, you have to allow me some time to receive the email and respond to it. I can't always get back to you within 3 to 6 minutes! (^_^)
    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)
    Tax Day (aka The Ides of April), 2009 - 2:27 PM, Pacific Time


    Is my set complete? It's heavy, man! (Parts 2, 3, & 4)

    >From: Gina Smith
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 12:46 PM
    >Subject: from Gina Smith
    >Hello Tom: Hope all is well with you.
    >I would be interested in purchasing jonahnjoan" set listed on Monday the 13th. Would you please send them my email address? I hope you would be able to vouch for me.
    >Thanks. Gina

    From: Tom Sloper
    To: jonahnjoan
    Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 7:45 PM
    Subject: Fw: from Gina Smith
    Jonah and Joan,
    Gina is a well-known collector and seller of mah-jongg stuff.
    Her email address is [deleted]
    As I said already, I think your policy of selling only to people it's convenient to hand-deliver your set to is not going to benefit you.
    Best regards,
    Tom

    From: Tom Sloper
    To: Gina Smith
    Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 7:51 PM
    Subject: Re: from Gina Smith
    Hi Gina,
    I forwarded your email address to them.
    Tom


    Is my set complete? It's heavy, man!

    >From: jonahnjoan
    >Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 9:01 PM
    >Subject: Heavy bakelite
    >Dear Tom,
    > I was at Woodstock, too, but don't remember seeing you there.
    > It's time for me to find a new home for my Mom's 50's vintage Mah Jong set (I think it's Ten Flowers) but don't know if it's gonna be considered complete: I have four jokers which, in true Long Island style have "J" written in red nail polish on two, and paper stickers on the other, so there are a total of 150 tiles. Another six flowers--mismatched plastic ones will be included for someone with a sense of humor. There are two red die, one of those counters, plus the colored discs. The racks and case didn't survive the basement floods, but the tiles are in decent condition aside from some wear on the markings. A photo is attached.
    > Should I proceed with the listing? Ideally, we'd hand deliver within the metropolitan New York area as we're skeptical about long-distance financial transactions.
    > By the way, we have a Birman cat named "Sheeza."
    >Regards,
    >Jonah [deleted] and Joan [deleted]

    >From: jonahnjoan
    >Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 9:04 PM
    >Subject: Oops
    >Tom--
    > Sorry--that's five mismatched flowers.
    >Regards,
    >Levine/Berman/Birman

    Hi Jonah and Joan, you wrote:

    I was at Woodstock, too, but don't remember seeing you there.
    Really? Take another look at your photo album. I'm the one way up on the rim of the bowl, dressed way too collegiate-looking, hair way too short, not at all hippyish...? See me there? (^_^)

    don't know if it's gonna be considered complete:
    Read FAQs 7a & 7b, above left. I'm not gonna count your tiles for ya! That's your job.

    Should I proceed with the listing?
    Read FAQ 7n. As a seller, it's your job to accurately describe your offering, in detail. And including its condition.

    Ideally, we'd hand deliver within the metropolitan New York area as we're skeptical about long-distance financial transactions.
    If that's the way you want to proceed, then you're limiting your likelihood of selling it. Post your ad in the local Stuff For Sale paper. There's probably a weekly, look for it in the 7-11 and at the newsstands. Don't bother putting it on eBay or on my board, because then you'll just get long-distance offers.

    May the tiles not be with you much longer.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 13, 2009


    Identify my set, part 2

    From: Leslie
    Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 8:08 PM
    Subject: Re: Help id set
    Thanks, Tom!


    Question about how to run a tournament, part 3

    From: Kathleen
    To: Tom Sloper
    Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 3:08 PM
    Subject: Re: MahJongg Tournament Question
    Thanks very much.


    Identify my set

    From: "Leslie
    Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 11:36 AM
    Subject: Help id set
    > Dear Tom
    > I did go through the FAQ and I hope I didn't miss too many of the
    > instructions! If so, it looks like I'd be the first one.
    >
    > 29 2 dot betting sticks
    > 38 8 dot betting sticks
    > 5 1 dot betting sticks
    > 8 12 dot betting sticks
    > 9 sets bam (4 each=36)
    > 9 sets dot (4 each=36)
    > 4 red dragon (4)
    > 4 green dragon (4)
    > 4 blue Dragon (4)
    >
    > 8 flowers (8)
    > 9 sets crack (4 each=36)
    > 4 sets winds (4 each=36)
    > (144 tiles in all)
    > 2 wood dice
    > 4 bakelite winds betting chips
    > one bakelite round thing the betting chips fit inside
    > 2 bakelite tiles from another set
    >
    > paper covered light wood box is torn and has two removable trays,
    > both scuffed. Tiles are all in good shape with surface scratches and
    > some paint loss and some edge wear. Size are 1 1/8 by 7/8 by 1/2 A
    > couple appear to be newer and are less yellow. They appear to be
    > hand carved (slight variations and some loos tool marks). They have
    > vertical lines that look like celluloid lines, although I can't smell
    > a thing and am unfamiliar with either ivory or celluloid and only
    > know the pieces don't react to Simulchrome (except for the Bakelite
    > pieces). Betting sticks are bone and are discolored with paint loss
    > and are uneven in shape and size. My mother believed this set was
    > ivory but I don't see any crosshatching and I don't see any lines on
    > the two long sides of the tiles. She bought it at a pawn shop in
    > Vegas 20 or so years ago. The Bakelite and bone and wooden dice
    > pieces seem like they were added from another set.
    >
    > I don't know if she played with it and that's one of my questions.
    > Is the set playable? If not, I guess it's a How Much Is it Worth
    > kind of thing. Thanks in advance.
    > Great site, by the way.
    > Leslie

    Hi Leslie, you wrote:

    Help id set
    Celluloid. (I assume that's the question implied by your subject line - this question wasn't clearly asked in the body of your email.)

    the pieces don't react to Simulchrome
    I don't know what that is. All I know is I do not recommend applying chemicals to your tiles to determine the chemical makeup of your tiles. It isn't worth it to find out exactly what kind of plastic your tiles are, if you have to cause damage to one of your tiles! In my humble opinion...

    Is the set playable?
    I guess you're not a player. With the exception of the American, Japanese, Singaporean, Vietnamese, and Malaysian games, sure. It can be used to play the other thirty-plus variants of mah-jongg. Read FAQ 2b if you want to see more about what variants this set can be used for.

    How Much Is it Worth
    That's kind of tricky. The case is not in good shape, you say. The chips/sticks are mismatched, some of poor quality, and some may be missing. The 2 bakelite tiles can and should be removed from the set. The wind discs are not for betting (read FAQ 7d). The key thing is the celluloid tiles themselves. They have attractive designs, and solid celluloid tiles (as I've told the others who've shown celluloid sets, see older Q&As below) are fairly uncommon and prized. You say the tiles are in "good shape with surface scratches and some paint loss and some edge wear." So they're in less than ideal condition.

    If the case was in better condition and the tiles were in better condition and the paper manual was included, this set could well go for $600 or more. As it is, whoever buys it from you may need to put it in a better case (note: you didn't send any photos of the case so I'm just going by what you said) and replace some of the sticks, maybe even replace dice, to "rescue" the set and enhance its attractiveness, its presentableness. I doubt you can get anywhere near that much for it. But surely more than $200, assuming the tiles are reasonably attractive and pleasant to touch and play with. I wouldn't sell it for less than $200, anyway.

    Your mileage may vary.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 13, 2009


    I don't consider this a tech support question

    >From: DrBeverly
    >Sent: Sunday, April 12, 2009 10:57 PM
    >Subject: Re: the 2009 NML card
    >I love mah jong and I love your site. I play weekly and one of our regulars is someone we met on your message board and we thank you for that. I have Shanghai Second Dynasty and I program the new card every year. The card editor is easy and fun to use and it doesn't usually take me long. This year I ran into a problem and I hope you can help. I don't consider this a tech support question but just a puzzle to be solved. If you do think its tech support I am truly sorry and you can ignore this mail.
    >the 2468 hand with 4 flowers 3 twos, 3 eights of the same suit and 4 of the matching dragon is the puzzle. I cannot get it to work, the computer insists on allowing my opponents to use any dragon. I tried using "any dragon, suit #1, but that didn't work. I tried using 3 cards the first with the 2 and 8 in suit #1 with red dragons, then suit#2 with green and suit #3 with white but that too did not work. I know you program the card each year, can you tell me your solution. thanks so much
    >Maria ████, Huntington, NY

    Hi SpinDoctor Maria,
    Don't give me that "I don't consider this a tech support question" crap. (^_^) A tech support question is any question that is about how to use a computer program. Certainly this isn't a question about how to play mah jong... right?? Grrr! Anyway...
    Let me guess. Your SD2 game is version 1.0, right? The old green CD? And you never downloaded the v1.1 patch from Activision, right? I recall a bug in v1.0 that caused the exact problem you describe. Maybe when you are using the game in hi-res mode. Can't remember exactly. If my guess is right and you are running version 1.0, then you need to download the v1.1 patch. Here's the old Activision FAQ on that:

      HOW TO TELL IF YOU HAVE V1.0
      Run the game. Under the game's FILE menu, select ABOUT. Under the game's title, it will say "Version 1.0" or "Version 1.1."

      WHY GET THE V1.1 PATCH
      We fixed several bugs that exist in v1.0. V1.0 runs fine most of the time - you might never run into any of the bugs at all, depending on which game modes you use frequently. But v1.1 is just a little better (see list of bugs that were fixed). And if you choose to go online and play the game against real people, you both have to be using the same version. If you have v1.0 you can only meet and play with others who also have v1.0.

      HOW TO GET THE V1.1 PATCH
      First, the game must be installed on your hard drive (it should be already installed as you read this - what I'm saying is, "do not uninstall the game").
      Go to http://www.activision.com/support
      [Activision's website has changed several times since this FAQ was written - I can't necessarily tell you exactly where and how to find the patch at the moment. Just go find it and download it. It's not hard to find. Emma emailed me on December 6 (scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page and click the link to read older Q&A's, then look for the post titled "Technical support" From: Emma Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008) that she couldn't find it, and when I went to look, I found it right away. I described my steps for her in my reply.]
      Make sure you know the location on your hard drive where you download the patch file to.
      When done downloading the file, navigate to it and run it. The patch will only work when the game is already installed on your hard drive.
      Run the game and check the credits. It should say v1.1 under the game title.

      I. WHAT WAS CHANGED IN THE V1.1 PATCH
      There are two categories of changes: fixes and improvements.

      A. FIXES
      AMERICAN MAH-JONGG FIXES:
      + Fixed errors in the 2000 AMJA card file. There were some hands that were defined incorrectly or scored incorrectly. The program now adheres exactly to the printed card that came with the game.
      + Made it easier to Save in the Card Editor.
      + Fixed a problem in the Card Editor in which the program redefined suits under certain conditions.

      [REMAINDER OF FAQ DELETED]

    By the way, make sure you save your card file(s) in a safe place while running this process. Those probably won't be touched by the updater, but it's best to play it safe. Now go fix your game and don't ask me any more technical support questions, pretty please with flowers on it! (^_^)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 13, 2009


    Film with a mahjong scene, for the media list in FAQ 3

    From: "Lloyd Hugh Allen
    Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 7:20 AM
    Subject: mah jong in media -- bottom of http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq03.htm
    > In the movie http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Late_Ozu_Early_Spring/70068709
    > , 1956, there is a scene where the protagonist plays mah jong. From
    > the reviews, this might be a thread that runs through the series.

    Thanks, Lloyd.
    I just now finally got around to adding that to FAQ 3. Thanks for the tip! (^_^)
    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)
    April 13, 2009


    Question about how to run a tournament, part 2

    >From: Kathleen
    > Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 1:52 PM
    >Subject: Re: MahJongg Tournament Question
    >Yes: "East stays stationary (she sits at the same seat and the same table throughout the day's games) - South moves down 1 table each round - North moves up 1 table - West moves up 2 tables. A player who goes beyond the highest-number table goes down to the lowest-number table (just as the Ace is both lower than the Deuce and higher than the King in a deck of cards)."
    >My question is: If East sits at the same seat/table throughout, does that mean she deals every hand or am I missing something?
    >Thanks for getting back to me.
    >Kathleen

    Hi Kathleen,
    East is more a permanent seat location than a permanent player designation. At the beginning of the round, the player in the East seat deals first. After that game is finished, the dice pass around the table as is normally done. When the dice come back to the East seat again, the round has been completed (she doesn't deal again with that group of players).
    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)
    April 13, 2009


    Question about how to run a tournament, part 1

    >From: "Kathleen
    >Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 1:12 PM
    >Subject: MahJongg Tournament Question
    >Hi,
    >I'm planning a Mah Jongg tournament in May. I have 24 participants (6 tables). I would like each participant to play with as many of the other ladies as possible, so I'm planning to have them switch tables after each game. We are planning to play nine games. Do you have any suggestions as to how to go
    >about this? Thanks very much.
    >Kathleen

    Hi Kathleen,
    Did you see the suggestion I wrote in FAQ 21? http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq21.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)
    April 13, 2009


    Ready with an "Earthly" wait?

    From: "Ronda (imqt1)
    Sent: Sunday, April 12, 2009 1:22 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > Hi,
    > Is it or has it ever been a rule in the American Mah Jongg game that
    > if a player has a set hand after the charleston's, that he needs to
    > declare this to the table?
    > Thank you,
    > Ronda

    Hi Ronda,
    I'm so sorry, you asked me this question 3 days ago and my answer was never posted! Until now. Scroll down. The answer is directly below.
    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)
    April 12, 2009


    Is it now, or has it ever been a rule...

    From: "Ronda (IMQT1)
    Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 9:20 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Is it or has it ever been a rule in the American Mah Jongg game that
    > after the completion of the charlestons, a person has to declare that
    > he is waiting for maj jongg if he has a set hand?
    > Thank you,

    Hello Ronda,
    You're talking about two rules that don't apply to American mah-jongg today. I couldn't say whether either of those two rules ever did apply to American mah-jongg, though.

    The two rules you're talking about have been used in other forms of mah-jongg.

    In those other forms, a player who wins on the dealer's first discard wins on a special circumstance called "Earthly Hand." A player who wins on another player's discard within the first go-round wins on a special circumstance called "The Hand of Man." A dealer who wins before making a discard wins on a special circumstance called "Heavenly Hand."

    None of the above circumstances are recognized under the current American rules.

    The other rule you asked about is the "ready" rule. A player who's "set," as you say, in other words is "ready" or "waiting" or "calling" for her mah-jongg tile, is supposed to announce the fact. In those other forms of mah-jongg (not in American mah-jongg). And I've never heard of a rule that requires a ready/calling announcement only in the circumstance of being set for an Earthly Hand or the Hand of Man.

    That said, read FAQ 14 (above left). The fact that these features are not part of the American rules does not mean that no American players do (or ever have) used those as table rules while playing the American game.
    May the tiles be with you. URQT1, BTW.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 9, 2009


    Is a player allowed to keep tiles somewhere other than on the rack? (part 2)

    >From: Kathleen
    >Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2009 8:10:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Q&A
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    > Thank you for your initial response to my query regarding the use of racks. ("In American Mah Jongg once the Charleston(s) and Courtesy pass are complete, is a player allowed to keep the tiles in her/his hand anywhere but on the rack? Is she/he allowed to keep a tile or two on the table in front of them off the rack?") I understand your need for me to, "paint a clearer target," and I will try to explain my motivation for the question. I am a new player in my group, having picked up the game in December 2008. I have observed another player often put one or two tiles down from her rack onto her card. I do not for certain know her reason for doing so. Based upon my observations, I think she does it after she sees another player make a meld and she has a tile that she thinks they need. My guess is that she puts the tile down from her rack to prevent herself from throwing what she think could be a useful tile for somebody else. I can see this practice could have the potential to cause trouble. Here is how: if "Player A" puts a tile down on her card and another player, "Player B" subsequently observers Player A's rack and sees she has only 12 tiles. Player B might call Player A dead based upon having too few tiles. Player A would then reveal this hidden tile and Player B would be obliged to pay a penalty. In a group that is aggressive about calling a player dead, such a gambit might be useful.
    > Any thoughts?
    >-Kathleen

    Hi Kathleen,
    Thanks for painting such a clear target for me! Nicely done. Your thinking is sound. The trouble potential you describe is very real. There is no rule in the official rulebook that says "you have to keep all your tiles on your rack, and noplace else." But if you were in a tournament and asked a judge to rule on it, any judge (guaranteed) would say that she must keep her tiles on her rack.

    In a home game, of course, there is no judge. It's majority rule. (Unless you have a Yelda (see column 387) who rules the roost by bullying, and yes, such players do exist.) While I say in FAQ 9 that we should be guided by the principle of harmony, that doesn't mean you can't have a conversation. You could get a conversation started about the practice of keeping some tiles off the rack. You could even suggest other places where people might possibly be permitted to keep tiles. (^_^)

    Since you're a fairly new player, it might be overstepping if you suggest that this player would be required to keep her tiles on the rack if she was in a tournament (this shocking suggestion wouldn't be based on any actual personal experience you'd had). But you can initiate a conversation about the benefits of having all tiles in plain sight (i.e. on the rack). If it blows up in your face, that's not a group you want to stay in anyway. And hey, not all groups are forever.
    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)
    April 12, 2009


    Is a player allowed to keep tiles somewhere other than on the rack?

    >From: Kathleen
    >Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2009 5:19:32 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >In American Mah Jongg once the Charleston(s) and Courtesy pass are complete, is a player allowed to keep the tiles in her/his hand anywhere but on the rack? Is she/he allowed to keep a tile or two on the table in front of them off the rack?
    >Thank you,
    >Kathleen

    Hi Kathleen,
    You're going to have to paint a clearer target for me. Why are you asking this? Do you have a player who likes to keep a tile or two on her card rather than on her rack? Is she a beginner? Is it causing a problem, and if so, what problem exactly? Has it been a source of contention in your group, or just a pet peeve of yours?
    The use of racks isn't exactly the subject of rules per se. People use racks because that's the custom. How people organize their tiles on the rack is more a matter of table etiquette, custom, and habit more than anything else. Beyond that general statement, I can't really answer your question without more information about your situation.
    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)
    April 11, 2009


    Discard was misnamed and an error ensued (FAQ 19AY)

    >From: "Sjrohlfing
    >Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2009 11:30:01 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Question She misnamed her discard someone wanted it for mah-jongg but the next player already pickandracked her tile before the error was brought to her attention. Is the hand over or does play continue since it was not corrected before the next player pickandracked. Sheri

    Hello Sheri,
    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. Always check the FAQs first.

    Your question is FAQ 19AY.
    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)
    April 10, 2009


    Should payment be made?

    >From: Linda Fisher
    >Sent: Friday, April 10, 2009 6:08:50 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi, Tom. One of our players was going to post this, but since she didn't, I will. (I was not involved in this situation, but my opinion was asked and even though I thought I knew the answer, I'm not 100% sure.) So here's the deal:
    >NMJL game was played.
    >S declared mahj and displayed her hand.
    >Everyone threw in their tiles and paid S, whose hand was still on her rack.
    >M, who was the bettor, asked if everyone agreed she had mahj. Everyone said yes.
    >M then stated S had a 1 bam where a flower should be (I think that was the error) and really didn't have mahj, but since everyone agreed she had mahj, she should be paid.
    >A dispute arose. Since S really didn't have mahj, should she have been paid? Should M have kept quiet until S threw in her tiles - but then it was only her word the mahj was in error. Since everyone agreed she had mahj, did she really have mahj?
    >My opinion was since the tiles were still on the rack and exposed, the defective mahj was evident and she should not have been paid. Since everyone had thrown in, all were dead and the game was a wash. Others felt that since the other three players were unaware the mahj was defective and agreed she had a valid mahj, that it was a valid mahj and payment should be made. Other questions arose about the role of the bettor. We all know the bettor should stay silent during play, but what about in a situation like this?
    >Of course, nobody really cares much about the 25 cent payout, but rather the questions it brought up.
    >Thanks for your input.
    >Linda

    Hi Linda, good to hear from you.
    Your bettor is right.
    Since the active players all agreed that the winner's hand was valid, all players (including bettor) should pay accordingly.
    The players who threw in their hands, in effect, were promising to pay when they broke up their own hands.
    Of course, for harmony's sake, the bettor should remain silent until payment is completed. From what you say, it sounds like she spoke before payment was made. That doesn't matter. Payment is indeed due.
    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)
    April 10, 2009


    Can't read the Red Dragon/West Wind errata file with Notepad

    From: "Ann
    Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 3:02 PM
    Subject: Can't access errata
    > Received "The Red Dragon and the West Wind" from B&N today, but when I went
    > to get the Errata, it opened in Notepad with a bunch of boxes instead of
    > letters, and when I tried to "Save As," it tried to put it in My Pictures.
    > I'm using Windoze XP Home and the latest Firefox -- I think 3.0.8.
    > Thanks for any help you can provide!
    > Ann

    Hi Ann,
    Notepad is the wrong file. I'd meant it to be opened with Wordpad instead. But I just tried it myself, and found that Wordpad doesn't display the images. So I just now saved it as an RTF file -- that one you can definitely open in Wordpad and see properly. Go back to rdww.htm and click the link to the RTF version. It should work twice as good now... as long as you don't use Notepad.
    P.S. Thanks for buying my book! (^_^)
    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)
    April 7, 2009


    What must I do when someone passes me a joker? (part 2)

    >From: "Debbie
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 3:31 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >thanks. Being a woman of high moral standards, I di not keep the joker. I gave it back to her, with a smile on my face, and told her that she knew jokers couldn't be passed. She confessed that she did know, but had nothing else to pass. She back the joker and passed me something else. I guess the next question would be: did she pass it to someone else? and what did they do?
    >I just found out about your site yesterday, and i think it's great.

    Hi Debbie,
    I think you did the right thing, and you should sleep well tonight. (^_^)
    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)
    April 7, 2009


    What must I do when someone passes me a joker?

    >From: Debbie
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 9:12 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If someone passes a joker to me during the Charleston, which is against the rules, can I keep it or do I have to give it back?
    >Thanks

    Hi Debbie,
    You're right, the rules should clearly state the responsibility of the player who's on the receiving end of this illegal move.
    Since they don't, this is a moral choice you're going to have to make.
    Do you think she's aware that it's against the rules to pass that joker? If not, what'll happen when she finds out later that it was against the rules and you knew it -- what'll she think of you then? And if she's later informed of this by someone else, she might well blurt out that you'd knowingly cheated -- taking advantage of her ignorant rulebreaking. The rest of your group would then learn something about your character.
    Do you think she's making a pairs hand and wants to get rid of that joker? Do you want to help her to win that hand?
    Do you think she's trying to help you win? Do you want to be her "partner in crime" against the other two players?
    To put it in other terms: If the car in front of you goes through a red light, do you follow on through as well?
    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)
    April 7, 2009


    28 flowers!? (part 2)

    >From: Carol
    >Sent: Monday, April 6, 2009 4:29:54 PM
    >Subject: Re: 28 flowers?
    >I can't believe I got such a rude answer from you. I bought my set almost a year ago, and just got around to asking you about it. I have to sell it--and many other things--due to a financial crisis, including many expenses for my son who has autism. To call me a "speculator" is uncalled for. In addition, the only reason I wanted to break up the set is that I thought there were extra tiles that did not even come with the original. Why should tiles that don't even belong with the set, sit around unused, when someone might be looking for some extra tiles to complete their set? To me, that would help several Mah Jong players. Obviously, if they all belong together, I would keep them together. You intentionally misunderstood me so you could give a mean answer.

    Hi Carol, you wrote:

    Obviously, if they all belong together, I would keep them together.
    Oh good! Glad to hear it.

    You intentionally misunderstood me so you could give a mean answer.
    No. It sounded to me like you'd bought it on eBay with the purpose of re-selling it. If that was not what happened, then my bad.

    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)
    April 6, 2009


    Is this set pre-1920's?

    >From: Julie
    >Sent: Monday, April 6, 2009 7:20:25 AM
    >Subject: old set from Hawaii
    >I have an old Mah-Jongg set passed down through my family who lived in Hawaii at the turn of the century. The family had Chinese servants, and the story on this set is that it was given as a going-away present when the family moved to California in 1918. But your website says the early sets were produced around the 1920's, so that is confusing to the family story!
    >
    >The set is kept in a wooden box - red with brass hinges, corners, etc. No drawers or such so I assume the original box is lost. The lid slides on. The tiles are obviously bone and bamboo, with no jokers. I will attach photos. The set is complete and even has 7 extra tiles, which could be used as jokers if I buy one more. There is a small wooden box with sliding lid and 5 tiny dice, as well as 4 wooden round wind markers.
    >
    >Question - were any of these sets made before 1920? If so, then the family story is wrong and the set must have been purchased in the U.S.
    >
    >The family always thought this was bamboo and ivory, but through research on your website, I discovered that it is bone and not bamboo. Thanks for your thorough details and descriptions !

    Hi Julie,
    Read FAQ 7g and FAQs 11a & 11h.

    Mah-Jongg wasn't popular outside of China yet, before Babcock did his thing.
    Mah-Jongg sets weren't made for export yet, before Babcock.
    Therefore mah-jongg sets were made for domestic (Chinese) use only, before Babcock.
    How many Chinese would have needed the letters E, S, W, N on the wind tiles?
    How many Chinese would have needed the numerals 1, 2, 3, 4... on the craks? (Why would anybody need numerals on the dots and bams, but let's pass over that!)
    Therefore this set was not made during the period before sets were made for export.
    Therefore this set was not made before the 1920s.

    Anyone who's read those FAQs should see the infallibility of the logic in the above line of reasoning.
    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)
    April 6, 2009


    28 flowers!?

    >From: Carol C
    >Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2009 2:16 PM
    >Subject: 28 flowers?
    >Hi, I purchased this Mah Jong set on Ebay. It seems the pretty usual Catalin set (all solid yellow) with the usual suits, winds, dragons, jokers, and blanks. But as you can see in the attached pic, there are 28 tiles that would all seem to be flower tiles. Since I have never heard of a set that uses that many, I am wondering if somehow tiles from other sets ended up here, or if this is something you've seen before.
    >Also, since I am trying to sell this set with only the minimum flower tiles needed, and selling the others separately, how would you suggest dividing them (i.e. which 8 should I sell with the main set?)
    >If you would like pictures of the whole set, let me know. I didn't want to overload your email unnessarily. Thank you for your help.

    Hello Carol, you asked:

    Since I have never heard of a set that uses that many, I am wondering if somehow tiles from other sets ended up here, or if this is something you've seen before.
    Read Frequently Asked Question #19AI (above left) and read my column #311 (purple banner atop this page).

    I am trying to sell this set with only the minimum flower tiles needed, and selling the others separately
    I think it's a real shame that this interesting set was purchased by a speculator who's so ready and willing to cannibalize it and sell off its parts. Indiana Jones wouldn't approve either - he'd probably say "it belongs in a museum."

    which 8 should I sell with the main set?
    I am not going to help you disembowel 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)
    April 5, 2009


    How's that cruise?

    >From: Judy F
    >Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2009 11:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I was thinking about going on the mah jongg cruise (Royal Carribean) but would like to hear feedback on the way it was run, game time, organization of the event etc. Thanks, Judy from Pa

    Readers,
    If you've been on that cruise, send in your thoughts and I'll post'em here.
    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)
    April 5, 2009


    What does "only" mean? (FAQ 19AO)

    From: "Rosemary
    Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2009 10:46 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > (I am a beginner, so please forgive me if there is an obvious answer to this
    > question that I am overlooking.) On the 2009 Card, the last (7th) hand under
    > "2468," does the instruction that reads "Pung 8s only" mean that you CANNOT
    > use Jokers in the Pungs of 8s, but that you CAN use them in the Pungs of 2s
    > and 6s?
    > Thanks so much! I just discovered your website yesterday, and am thoroughly
    > enjoying the wealth of information!
    > Rosemary

    Hi Rosemary,
    I'm glad you found my site. 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.

    The question "what does 'only' mean" is FAQ19AO.
    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)
    April 5, 2009


    Joker strategy

    >From: PenniPal
    >Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 2:05 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Love your book, your column, your humor, and your zest!
    >I've got two questions related to Jokers from your book: Under Joker Strategy, you wrote, "If someone discards a joker or a redeemable tile, that's a clue that she may be working on Singles and Pairs." I understand that, of course, but what I don't understand is what is the significance of deducing it? What are we supposed to do (to play defensively) once we think someone's going for Singles and Pairs?
    >Also, you were explaining how it isn't always a good idea to redeem a joker because you might be making someone jokerless, but what about taking the Joker and discarding it just to take it out of circulation for everybody else? How can we tell when we should consider leaving it alone as opposed to when to take it to discard it?
    >Thanks for your time-
    >:-)
    >Penni

    Hi Penni,
    So glad you enjoy what I do. (^_^) You asked:

    what is the significance of deducing it? What are we supposed to do (to play defensively) once we think someone's going for Singles and Pairs?
    To back up a little bit. Before you made this brilliant deduction, she could have been playing in any of nine sections of the card. But now you've narrowed the possibilities down to one little corner of the card. Before, there was no question of trying to figure out what she was doing. But now, there are just six hands.

    So look at the exposures and discards. Do you see more than two N's or S's? If so, she isn't doing hand #1. Do you see any white dragons? If so, she isn't doing hand #6. You're eliminating possibilities. And once you've started watching her, you get even more clues about what she's not playing.

    The point of knowing what a person is or isn't doing is that now you know what tiles are hot. You know what tiles not to discard.

    what about taking the Joker and discarding it just to take it out of circulation for everybody else? How can we tell when we should consider leaving it alone as opposed to when to take it to discard it?
    Let's say an opponent has an exposure of 3D. Two naturals and one joker. There are two other 3D's on the table somewhere. If you have one of them, and you don't need it in your hand, there's still one other one somewhere on the table. On your turn, you can redeem your 3D and take that joker, thereby removing it from anybody else's grasp. Normally, you'd want to just keep that joker, wouldn't you? But if you didn't need it, then sure, you could just throw the joker away.

    But let's say that instead of a pung, she has exposed a kong. Three naturals and one joker. There's one other 3D on the table somewhere. If it happens to be in your hand, then that joker is dead to everybody else for the remainder of the game. Period. If you don't need the 3D, and you also don't need the joker, you don't need to redeem the joker from her hand. You can just throw your 3D away. Then watch the howls of despair from all the others! Because there's nothing worse than watching somebody carelessly throw away something you desperately want. Now you haven't made her jokerless, and you've also played a mind game on the other players, possibly disrupting their concentration, poise, and 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)
    April 3, 2009


    Whatever happened to the section where you posted practice hands?

    From: "Barbara
    Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 6:27 PM
    Subject: Question about your site
    > Hi, Tom. First, what a GREAT site!
    > Second, you used to have a section where you posted practice hands and
    > asked readers to guess what would be the
    > best tiles to pass and keep. I got a lot out of that and was looking
    > for it again tonight, but can't locate it.
    > Have you discontinued that feature or am I just not looking in the
    > right place?
    > Thanks so much!
    > Barbara in Houston

    Hi Barbara,
    I call that feature the "Weekly Mah-Jongg Strategy Column." (Clever disguise, eh?) You can get to it by clicking the purple banner atop this page.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    April 3, 2009


    Erratum in the 2009 NMJL card, part 5 (Which applies: colored ink? Or the alphabet?)

    >From: Linda
    >Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2009 9:05:52 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the 2009 NMJL card – the last entry under 369 shows it as a concealed 35 cent hand but the “c” is red rather than black as in all the other “c”s. Which is it – an open hand or closed?

    Hi Linda,

    [Sarcasm alert! If you can't take a little good-natured sarcasm, do not read the following!]

    So if you got the New York Times and the word "Times" was printed in some color other than black, you'd wonder if maybe it said "Post" instead of "Times"? (^_^) ...Of course it's a C!!

    [End sarcasm alert. If you can't take a little sarcasm, do not read the foregoing.]

    See the other posts on this topic, below. The color of the C is the least horrendous error on this year's NMJL 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)
    April 2, 2009


    How much is my set worth?

    >From: Randy
    >Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 7:33 PM
    >Subject: worth?
    >Dear Mr Sloper,
    >I have a Mah Jong set that the family story was purchased by my Great Grandfather in San Francisco in the early 1900's. It has been around for as long as I can remmember and I was born in 1955. Using you guide, the tiles are made of bone and Bamboo, see photo 0402092124. The tiles are 1 3/16 inch long, 13/16 of an inch wide and 1/2 of an inch thick. The bone is about 1/8 of an inch thick and the bamboo 3/8 of an inch thick. The set has suit, Bamboo, Circle and Characters (cracks-of the older type). Each suit has four each of 1-9. There are four of each wind West, East, North and South. There are four green dragons, four red dragons and eightblank or white tiles. There are four flowers of two tiles each, 1,2,3,4. See photo 0402092054. Ther are a total of 148 tiles. There are four little round flat pieces we used as the player's wind that are in a little round pill box, see photo 0402092100. There are two very small dice, one slightly larger all of which look to be of bone, and two sets of more modern dice which I believe to be plastic. There are 36 counters with a single red dot, 8 with five red dots, 40 with two black dots, 36 with 20 black dots. All counters have the same dot on both sides and both ends. The set has two books, see photo 0402092055. The first is called Babcock's Rules for Mah-Jongg copyright 1920 and 1922, photo 0402092059 and 0402092058a. The second book is called Pung Chow and its copyright is 1922, photo 0402092058. The storage box has a slide on the front that drops down for storage and lifts up to remove the trays, photo 0402092103. It is made of wood with a brass swivel handle.

    Hi Randy,
    Just now I went back into FAQ 7h and highlighted the word "condition" throughout. Nobody ever tells me the CONDITION of the sets they ask me to evaluate! And the condition is IMPORTANT!! [End brief rant.]

    Your set is a Babcock Mah-Jongg® set (see box front), not a Pung Chow set. Your GGF apparently bought the Pung Chow book separately. Too bad your Little Red Book is in such poor condition -- that reduces the value of the set. The blue and red dice don't belong with the set, but you can leave them in it (they don't affect the value either way).

    The box is atypical of most Babcock sets - most are red wood, not black. Your Eight Dot tiles are the fairly rare red type (not the usual blue). And your red and green dragon tiles are the less-common "phoenix" and "dragon" type. All the sticks are there. These aspects of your set add to its value.

    The bone of the tile in your closeup shows Haversian system (see FAQ 7c), which is neither good nor bad necessarily. If this tile is typical of the set (and all the tiles are uniformly Haversian), then that's okay. Not great. Not horrible. Just okay.

    You didn't tell me anything about the condition of your set, but it looks like the condition is reasonable (except for the Little Red Book). I said in FAQ 7h that your set is worth somewhere between $80 and $500. This set is probably worth a bit more than $100. Probably no more than $175. (Your mileage may vary.)
    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)
    April 2, 2009


    A tile was misnamed and then an error occurred (part 2)

    >From: "JDBASSOC
    >Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2009 4:10:07 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hello it's Marie again about the misnamed tile.
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What happens if a misnamed tile is called and the player exposes her tiles and then the misnamed tile is discovered? It seems unfair for the player to put her tiles back in her rack, because that puts her at a disadvantage.
    >Thanks for your help. I love your site.
    >Marie

    Hi Marie, you wrote:

    What happens [to the claimant of a discard] if a misnamed tile is called and the player exposes her tiles and then the misnamed tile is discovered?
    Obviously the exposure cannot be completed. The claimant must put her tiles back on her rack. She has no other choice that I can see. What do you think ought to happen?

    It seems unfair for the player to put her tiles back in her rack, because that puts her at a disadvantage.
    I disagree with you. You say it's "unfair." I say she got off easy. She ought to be declared dead, in my opinion, but the NMJL rules do not specify that as a penalty. Consider: she's not exactly innocent in this cascade of errors! She should have looked at the discard before calling for it -- much less exposing her own tiles.

    All too many players of American mah-jongg play by ear while their eyes are on only their own tiles. If you jump without looking first, it's your own darned fault if you discover afterwards that the discard had been misnamed.

    In many countries, and when playing many other mah-jongg variants, players do not speak the name of the discard. You have to watch the discards.

    Marie, I want to thank you for asking an interesting question! This one isn't covered in sufficient detail in the official rulebook. I suggest that common sense and the principle of harmony are good guides for us when encountering loopholes in the rules. Read FAQ 9 for further thoughts that may be of interest along these lines.

    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)
    April 2, 2009


    Those confusing joker rules!

    From: "Bobbi
    Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2009 10:26 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: I was playing yesterday and a
    > friend called a 7 crak and racked it with a joker and another 7 crak.
    > She realized after another person played that she did not mean to use
    > her joker, for she had another 7 crak in her hand. We decided that she
    > should wait until it was her turn and then she could exchange it, like
    > any other player would do after she drew (others disagreed). Then the
    > person before her discarded a 5 crak ( of which Marilyn needed 4-she had
    > 2 so she wanted to use the joker to pick up the 5. Needless to say she
    > did not want to draw. Problem # 2: I was attempting an 11 hand
    > that need 48. I picked up an 8 and used my Joker to make the 4-knowing
    > that my 48 needed to be natural (as singles). We were down to the last
    > wall so I decided to try an easier Maj. Could I, when it was my turn,
    > exchange my 8 for my own joker? I say yes. Someone else said "no".
    > Your help would be sincerely appreciated. We have been playing every
    > Tuesday for 3 years and this has never happened. What fun we have!!
    > The very best game in the whole wide world.

    Hi Bobbi,
    Essentially, you are asking:
    1. When can I redeem a joker? Can I redeem a joker when it's not my turn?
    2. Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack?
    3. Jokers are wild, so they can be used for ANYthing, right? (Can I use a joker to make a single or a pair?)

    These Frequently Asked Questions are already answered in two places: on the back of your card and in FAQ 19 on my website. Turn your card over and read the back. Go to http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.htm and read questions E, F, and M.

    Your group is sorely in need of a refresher course on the rules of American mah-jongg, especially those confusing joker rules. The group should chip in and buy the official rulebook from the League, and a copy of my book. Seriously, shameless plugging aside, every group should have a rulebook handy for when this sort of question arises. My book is more complete than the rulebook, since the rulebook's updates come in the yearly bulletin and the rulebook itself hasn't been updated in 25 years.

    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)
    April 2, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question #19E

    >From: Alicia
    >Sent: Thursday, April 2, 2009 6:15:50 AM
    >Subject: question
    >My questions concern the new 2009 card under "Singles and Pairs".
    >The next to the last hand which is "223 22334 223344 (Start same No. Any 3 Consec. Nos; Any 3 Suits)". Can you use Jokers to fulfill this closed hand as long as you use three suits?
    >Also, the last hand on the card "FF 2009 NEWS 2009 (1 or 2 Suits, 2 and 9 Same Suit)". Can you use Jokers to fulfill this hand when writing NEWS?
    >Thank you for answering my questions. I am a very new player.
    >A. H

    Welcome, Alicia.
    Your mah-jongg teacher neglected to teach you the correct meaning of the terms "pung," "kong," "quint," and "sextet" when she taught you how to play the game. She also didn't tell you the basic rules governing joker usage.
    But you're in luck -- all those things are defined for you right on the back of your card. Just turn the card over and read the back.

    Also, this website has all the answers already written out. Check them before asking me. 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 19E.
    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)
    April 2, 2009


    Is she dead if she changes her mind?

    >From: Herb and Cheryl
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 8:43:46 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player calls for a discarded tile, exposes 3 tiles from her hand without picking up the discarded tile, then decides that she does not want the discarded tile and places the exposed tile back into her hand - is her hand then "dead"?
    >Thanks for your help!
    >Cheryl

    Hi Cheryl,
    No, she's not dead yet. Her having made the exposure committed her to making the exposure. The game can't continue until she completes the move. Read the "Change of Heart" rules in FAQ 19, above left (FAQ 19AM & FAQ 19B).

    If (1) she refuses to complete the exposure, or if (2) she can't complete the move (because it's a mismatch, like a flower with one bams for instance, or because she doesn't have enough tiles to make a legal exposure), or (provided she's the next player in turn from the player who discarded the tile in question), if (3) she subsequently put the discard back and picked from the wall and threw a discard, then she should be called dead.

    But in reality, unless it's a tournament situation, most groups permit some leeway among the players since it's just a friendly game. If she's a beginner she might get some leeway. If she's a habitual offender she might be called dead. If she's a Yelda (column #387), she probably rules the roost and can do whatever she wants.
    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)
    April Fool's Day, 2009


    Value of all-bone tiles (and ivory too)

    >From: Martha Y
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 8:18:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hello Tom, love your website, love your book, I'm addicted. Can you tell me (roughly) the value of
    >mah jong tiles which are 100% Bone (no Bamboo) or----is there such a thing? And......roughly the value of 100% ivory tiles (no bamboo).
    >Thank you! Martha Y

    Hi Martha, you wrote:

    Can you tell me (roughly) the value of
    >mah jong tiles which are 100% Bone (no Bamboo)
    It depends on completeness, condition, and beauty of the set. Read FAQ 7h. Trying to tell you the value of a hypothetical set of unknown completeness, unknown condition, and unknown beauty is a fool's errand.

    or----is there such a thing?
    I've never seen one or heard of one. That doesn't mean there isn't such a thing. But I can tell you that in the 1920s, China ran out of cow shinbone and it had to be imported from the United States in order to be able to keep up with manufacturing.

    And......roughly the value of 100% ivory tiles
    No, I can't give you that either. NY Findings is still selling (as far as I know) their miniature ivory sets for what amounts to $1/tile. But their tiles are tiny in the extreme. The problem with ivory is that every seller of bone tiles on eBay calls them ivory, most sellers and buyers can't tell the difference, and it's extremely difficult to collect reliable figures on them. Completeness, condition, and beauty are still factors.

    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)
    April Fool's Day, 2009


    Can I do two questions?

    >From: Ellen
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 9:48 PM
    >Subject: Mahj Questions
    >Tom,
    >Your website is wonderful, and a great resource. Thank you for all your time and effort to keep us mahj players "honest."
    >Okay, new question: One of the players picked a tile from the wall, sort of. She took it from the wall, slid it across the table towards her rack (without picking it up), and then tilted it upwards so she could see what it was. She never lifted it from the table. So, is this considered a "down" tile from the get go, and therefore there was no "window of opportunity" to call the discard? Or what?
    >The other question has to do with a question on the bulletin board. The original question and your answer follows below, but I don't get your 1-6 answers. You said that you call the discard for mahj, pick up the tile needed for a pair, and THEN (not shouting, just emphasizing), exchange the tile from your hand for the exposed joker, and complete the mahj. Is that right, because it doesn't sound right to me? When you call the tile for the pair, you don't yet have mah jongg, because the other 13 tiles in your hand don't complete the mah jongg. Isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Don't you have to have ALL (emphasis only) the other 13 tiles in your hand before you call a discard for mahj? I'm so confused!
    >Thanks again for your help.
    >Ellen

    Hi Ellen,
    Thanks for the kind words you started with. You asked:

    One of the players picked a tile from the wall, sort of. She took it from the wall, slid it across the table towards her rack (without picking it up), and then tilted it upwards so she could see what it was. She never lifted it from the table. So, is this considered a "down" tile from the get go, and therefore there was no "window of opportunity" to call the discard? Or what?
    This is one of those bad habits I see some people do. As persnickety as I am, though, I've never called anybody on it. Because I prefer to keep the game harmonious. If she was my student and she did this while I was teaching her how to play, I'd discourage her from doing this. But since she's already developed this bad habit, I'd keep my opinion to myself. She's probably played the game longer than I have (maybe even longer than I've been alive!).

    The other question has to do with a question on the bulletin board. The original question and your answer follows below, but I don't get your 1-6 answers.
    You're referring to the post, "Can you do two moves?" from Mary J., posted Thursday, January 29.

    You said that you call the discard for mahj, pick up the tile needed for a pair, and THEN (not shouting, just emphasizing), exchange the tile from your hand for the exposed joker, and complete the mahj. Is that right
    I said it because it's right.

    because it doesn't sound right to me? When you call the tile for the pair, you don't yet have mah jongg, because the other 13 tiles in your hand don't complete the mah jongg.
    You DO have mah-jongg, because the joker replacement tile is in your hand -- therefore the discarded tile completes the hand.

    If you don't believe that this is a legal play, you should send your question in a self-addressed stamped envelope to the NMJL. The 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)
    March 31, 2009

    [Note: Ellen did contact the League. See the April 30 entry in this thread, farther above. - Tom]


    Winning on a concealed hand in American mah-jongg

    >From: Cindy
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 6:16 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: If you are going for a closed hand, can you pick a discard tile for Mah Jongg or must your Mah Jongg tile be drawn from a wall?
    >Cindy :)
    >Cindy

    Hi Cindy,
    You need to read FAQs 19AQ, 19E3, & 19Y. After you read those three things, you'll have a complete answer to your question. The FAQs are above left (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.
    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)
    March 31, 2009


    A tile was misnamed and then an error occurred. What now?

    >From: JDBASSOC
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 6:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A tile is miscalled when it is discarded. Another player calls for it and exposes her tiles (not for mahjongg). The miscalled tile is detected at that time. Does the exposed tiles remain or are they put back and the miscalled tile discarded?
    >Thanks for your help.
    >Marie

    Hi Marie, you wrote:

    A tile is miscalled ... Another player calls for it
    See, I think it's confusing to use the same word to mean two different things. In this case, the problem is the word "call." I wrote about this in column #353. Saying a tile's name while discarding it should be referred to as "naming" it - not "calling" it. Because the term "call" usually refers to the claiming of a discard for exposure or mah-jongg. What you mean to say is, "A tile was misnamed, and another player called for it." Most of the time, other players will get your meaning from context. But ambiguous terms can sometimes lead to confusion; confusion can lead to conflict and disharmony. And we don't want that!

    and exposes her tiles (not for mahjongg). The miscalled tile is detected at that time. Does the exposed tiles remain or are they put back and the miscalled tile discarded?
    This is answered in FAQ 19AY.
    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.

    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)
    March 31, 2009


    Question about the new NMJL card, part 2

    >From: The Tomers
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 8:46:00 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Gotcha
    >Thanks
    >Arlene

    Oh, good! (^_^)
    My next question would have been "is there a parenthetical? If so, what does it say?"
    (I still haven't gotten my 2009 card in the mail yet.)
    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)
    March 31, 2009


    It says "any," but it's in color! Which applies: colored ink? Or the English language?

    >From: Greg
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 5:13:25 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hi Tom. Our Monday Night group has a question about the third hand under 2009. It is stating Kong Green & Red Dr. Only, Any 2 and 9 Same Suit. Following the rules and reading on the back of the card, it states three colors, three suites. So we are assuming, and you know what happens when you assume, that the 2 and 9 should be Dots only. I know it says "Any", but it seems to us with the three colors, it has to be "Dots". Are we reading this correctly, or we way off base?
    >Greg D., Gadsden, AL
    >Disclaimer: This electronic message may contain information that is Proprietary, Confidential, or legally privileged or protected. It is intended only for the use of the individual(s) and entity named in the message. If you are not an intended recipient of this message, please notify the sender immediately and delete the material from your computer. Do not deliver, distribute or copy this message and do not disclose its contents or take any action in reliance on the information it contains.

    Hi Greg,
    If colored ink trumps the English language, we're in trouble this year -- given the brouhaha about the miscolored "C" on the 2009 card. (Scroll down and read the posts entitled "Erratum in the 2009 NMJL card.")

    To read your answer: 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 FAQs 19AE & 19J. If the wording of the answers is unclear, please let me know how 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)
    March 31, 2009
    Disclaimer: "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.) 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. 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.


    What the heck are "opposing dragons"?

    >From: Diane
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 9:39 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >111 22 333 DDD DDD
    >On the 2009/7/6 cards,under Consecutive Run, the last one in this section, the parenthetical states "Any 3 Consec. Nos., Any 3 Suits, Pungs Opp. Dragons". What does "Pungs Opp. Dragons" mean? We have been searching for a definitive answer to this question for 3 years!
    >Thanks,
    >Diane
    >Ballwin, MO

    Hi Diane,
    You know what "matching dragons" are, because that's explained on the back of the card. So you know which dragons "match" which suits. Right? So, if a hand containing D's is shown in all one color, you know that you're supposed to use "matching dragons" in that hand.
    Following me so far?
    Check the color-coding on this one. It's not shown in one color, it's shown in three colors. You know what three colors means, since that's explained on the back of the card too.
    So therefore, you know you shouldn't be using "matching dragons" with this hand. You should be using... "opposing dragons" ...instead.
    Snap quiz:


    For the above tiles, which of the following shows "opposing dragons"?


    Hope you don't mind my quirky way of answering. It's my teaching the readers how to fish.
    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)
    March 30, 2009


    Is our table rule acceptable, and if so, how should it work?

    >From: Scotty
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 4:21:32 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Our 13 tile Chinese mah-jongg group has been together 7 years. From time
    >to time we embelish the scoring or add group conventions - after much
    >discussion. From somewhere came the idea that after winning a second
    >consecutive game, the dealer could put "one up" granting an additional point
    >that could be included in going mah-jongg. Recently, it switched to putting
    >"one up" after the first win and an additional "one up" for each consecutive
    >win. Do you think this is an acceptable practice and, if so, should the
    >advantage be given after the first or second win?
    >Thank you
    >Scotty

    Hi Scotty,
    You asked:
    1. Do you think this is an acceptable practice
    2. if so, should the advantage be given after the first or second win?

    As for your question #1, your group can do whatever your group likes, as I wrote in FAQ 14. If it adds to your enjoyment, who am I to say it's not "acceptable"?

    Question #2 is a bit trickier.

    You wrote that you play "13 tile Chinese mah-jongg." I don't know which variant that is. I don't know what scoring system you use - if it's points then doubles (Classic), or just points (Modern Competition Rules), or just doubles (Hong Kong), or what. See FAQ 2b, above left.

    You also wrote that the dealer "puts 'one up'" for every win he scores as dealer. But I don't know how that works - I don't know "one" of what, and I don't know what that does to the score.

    So I can't answer your question #2. Not enough information! In Japanese mah-jongg, the dealer puts up a marker every time he scores as dealer, but this is only used to tally the number of wins. After 5 dealer wins, the minimum required score (the "qualifier" to make mah-jongg) increases from 1 fan to 2 fan. That's a bit different from the table rule your group has adopted, but it's based on a related idea.

    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)
    March 30, 2009


    Question about the new NMJL card

    >From: The Tomers
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 3:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Regarding the 2009 card: The second hand under Quints. – Any 3 Consecutive numbers – Is it one suit or can it be 2 or 3 suits?
    >Thank you
    >Arlene

    How many colors is 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)
    March 30, 2009


    Running a tournament

    >From: Hidetoshi Nakamura
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 1:36 PM
    >Subject: System of Mahjong Tournaments
    >Hi,
    >I need some information about system for Mahjong tournaments. I mean, a way of choosing people, where the same persons don't continue playing at the same tables. The most important thing is what should be done if the number of players isn't the multiple of 4 (eg. 10 players)? If there is some computer program, which create that system and show me how to deal with it? Thank you for the answer and help.
    >Dominik
    >--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    >Czy już jesteś w Yahoo!?
    >Masz dosyć spamu? Poczta Yahoo! dysponuje najlepszą ochroną przed spamem
    >http://pl.mail.yahoo.com

    Konnichiwa Dominik (Or should I say, Dzien dobry Nakamura-san) (^_^)
    I addressed the topic of table rotation in FAQ 21:
    http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq21.htm
    And I recently had someone ask me about how to handle uneven numbers of players. I answered the question on my bulletin board:
    http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm
    Scroll down to March 17, topic "(1) They don't like 3P! (2) How to rotate tables?"
    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)
    March 30, 2009


    the little specks might mean "end of the day" plastic, part 3

    >From: Sylvain Malbec
    >Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 6:13 AM
    >Subject: "end of the day" tile set
    >Hello Tom,
    >I have some request for Jean and her "end of the day" tiles :
    >
    >Hello Jean,
    >I would like to have more information about your set.
    >For this can you please send photos of :
    >1) ALL tiles in the set, like this one : http://www.sloperama.com/images/antique1.jpg

    >2) A big view of some tiles, expecialy pandas, worm-like creatures, 1 dot, 1 bambou and green dragon (and flowers and other animals, if any).
    >3) A big view of tiles showing these "tiny blackish-brownish specks", "might be some lamination" and "saw cuts criss cross". It would be nice to have a view of each side of the tiles.
    >May I sugest you to take photos under sun light rather than electric light?
    >Distinguish marks like these specks are very surprising in a non-natural material, unless it's a very very cheap material.
    >Gold paint and 4 colors drawing would indicate an high quality tile set, but the (apparently) poor base material indicate the opposite.
    >Most tiles in your pictures are unusual. Did I see a rooster, pandas, phoenix and worms?
    >One of them must be the 1 bambou (may be the rooster?) and some of them flowers (pandas and worms?).
    >But flowers have numbers or chinese writing, and they have not.
    >So your set is very interesting.
    >
    >Thanks.
    >--
    >Sylvain MALBEC

    Bonjour Sylvain,
    I agree that Jean's set is worth knowing more about. I'll let her know she needs to come back and see this continuation of her 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)
    March 30, 2009


    Erratum in the 2009 NMJL card, part 4

    >From: Bill
    >Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 3:10:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >The 2009 card-369, the last hand is concealed. Is ther a reason the "C" is in red? Is it a mis-print? Should it be a red "X" or a black "C"?
    >Thanks,
    >Mary
    >Surprise, AZ

    Hi Mary,
    What difference could it make what color the C is? "Concealed, except on Sundays" maybe? (^_^) I imagine not.
    See the other posts on this topic, below.
    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)
    March 29, 2009


    Erratum in the 2009 NMJL card, part 3

    From: "jrthom223
    Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2009 10:05:09 AM
    Subject: Re: mah-jongg card
    error, on small card, (seven hands) should read (eleven hands)
    ffff 3333+8888=11 or ffff 5555+6666=11
    Rita T

    Really?? Wow, that is news! Thanks for the heads-up.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 28, 2009


    the little specks might mean "end of the day" plastic, part 2

    >From: Jean
    >Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 11:51:23 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, Thanks for your email and your wonderful website and terrific information. I'm not sure if I was supposed to do the clarifications you suggested by email (like this) or if I was supposed to use the comments on the board. Anyhow by "end of the day" plastic I meant something similar to "end of day" blown glass (antique term) where the glass left over in the manufacturing process is all mixed together at end of the day and objects are created with leftovers, sort of like recycling. I think that was done with plastic too, but not sure when or where. The specks are random, in size and color and spacing, something like an bird's egg. My focus question should have been "have you seen a material like this before and if so, what is it? and when was it made?" I guess you answered it when you said "me neither" ha! Glad you liked the pandas. I liked your chimp! thanks again, jean

    Hi Jean,
    I doubt that a practice that was used in antique glassmaking has a lot to do with practices used in plastic manufacturing.

    It's obvious that the set was not made for export - it was made for sale in China. Surprising that after going to extra effort to design pretty new designs, and applying gold touches, the tiles were cut out cheaply and not polished/smoothed.

    A couple of things I wonder about:

    - The uniformity of size of the tiles. Non-uniformity is another indication of cost-cutting in the manufacturing process.

    - And I'm very surprised you didn't ask anything about the identification of the specific tile designs. Your pandas, and the tiles with the gold swirly-wormy thingies. Apparently you are not confused as to what each tile is. But I don't share your nonconfusion. Laying out your tiles (as I always lay them out in the FAQs) is the best way to see exactly what tiles are what.

    As to age, the only clue I have is the vinyl carrying case. Vinyl has fallen out of favor as a carrying case material of late. But it was used widely in Chinese-made sets for a few decades (ending in the 1990's). Since you can touch the case, you know if it feels supple and new, or stiff and old (but I can't - all I have to go on is a single tiny photo). You can tell if it smells new or old, but I can't.

    Oh - and two more mysteries:
    - Why you called it "vintage"
    - Why you referred to it as a traveling set

    But, all said and done, it seems to be a nice collectible (unusual) set.

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 28, 2009


    Erratum in the 2009 NMJL card, redux

    >From: "jrthom223
    >Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2009 6:36:34 AM
    >Subject: mah-jongg card
    >ERROR on369 last row (any 3 suits) RED (C)
    >thank you for ( seven hands ) oops!!eleven hands .
    >Rita T

    Hi Rita, you wrote:

    ERROR on369 last row (any 3 suits) RED (C)
    Sorry, Rita. Arlene already broke this shocking (yawn) news yesterday. Scroll down and see.

    thank you for ( seven hands ) oops!!eleven hands .
    What a mysterious (and bizarre) thing to say. Maybe I'll understand your meaning when I get my 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)
    March 28, 2009


    the little specks might mean "end of the day" plastic, recycled to make mah jong tiles, but I know this set to be old so I don't know if that's an option or not.

    >From: Jean
    >Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 6:02:23 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have a vintage mah jong traveling (?) set that I think is plastic or a bone composite, it's not bakelite (tested with simichrome) . The tiles are yellowish beige, gold paint highlighted, cut with a saw on the sides, I think, slightly beveled around the edges, and the plastic? has tiny blackish-brownish specks in it. The good part is I have the original plastic case which has a panda and Chinese ?) writing on top. The tiles measure 26mm x 20mm x 10mm. The plastic looks solid but there might be some lamination in the plastic, not sure. The saw cuts criss cross or striate on the sides. My photos aren't very good but maybe you can tell something about these tiles from them or maybe the case might help in identifying the set. I've seen a lot of mah jong sets but not one like this. If I were to guess I'd say that the little specks might mean "end of the day" plastic, recycled to make mah jong tiles, but I know this set to be old so I don't know if that's an option or not. Hope you can help, thanks a bunch, Jean

    Hi Jean, you wrote:

    it's not bakelite (tested with simichrome)
    I have no idea what that is, but in general I disapprove of the idea of applying chemicals to one's tiles since it can cause damage.

    the plastic? has tiny blackish-brownish specks in it.
    Interesting and novel. If the specks are somewhat uniform, I'd have to say they're intentional, and it is plastic. I don't know of any natural material that has those specks in it.

    I have the original plastic case which has a panda and Chinese ?) writing on top.
    Yes, it's Chinese writing.

    My photos aren't very good
    Main problem is their small size. Yes, I need them to be small for the purposes of not taking up too much space on my webhost's server, but they're so small I don't see any detail!

    maybe you can tell something about these tiles from them or maybe the case might help in identifying the set.
    It might, if the photo was bigger. But most likely, the writing just says "China Majiang," which doesn't give us any clues whatsoever.

    I've seen a lot of mah jong sets but not one like this.
    Me neither. The pandas are particularly charming!

    the little specks might mean "end of the day" plastic, recycled to make mah jong tiles, but I know this set to be old so I don't know if that's an option or not.
    (^_^) Not sure what you're saying there...?

    Hope you can help
    I wish I could, but I don't know what you're asking. Read FAQ 7p and please ask me a focused question so I know what my assignment is. No guarantee I can make you happy, though... :-p

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


    Erratum in your book

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 11:50:24 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg comment is:
    >I believe there is an error on page 51 of The Red Dragin & The West Wind
    >51. Picking the tile, (it should read)
    >she should bring the TILE behind her rack INSTEAD of she should bring the WALL behind her rack
    >and examine it or rack it ......
    >Donna

    Good eye, Donna!
    I've added that to the Errata file at http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/rdww.htm - someday if the book gets a 2nd edition, that'll definitely be fixed, thanks 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)
    March 27, 2009


    Erratum in the 2009 NMJL card

    >From: "Amcxyz
    >Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 9:28:59 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom Sloper just an FYI
    >Called NMJL today about misprint in 2009 card.
    >369 section last hand although in red c not blue, this hand is indeed closed.
    >Arlene
    >Feeling the pinch at the grocery store? Make meals for under $10.

    Thanks, Arlene.
    I'll alert the world! (^_^)
    (And... You're the second person I've heard from who's already received her 2009 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.
    San Francisco, CA (USA)
    March 27, 2009


    Those confusing joker rules...

    >From: Carol Ann
    >Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 8:57:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can a joker be used in a pair if it is to declare mahjongg. Some of the players I play with say that its the only time it can be used in a pair. Thanks

    Hi Carol Ann,
    Read the back of your NMJL card very carefully. The rule is stated very clearly there. I'm away from home as I write this, so I don't have the card to quote you and dissect with you. But I'm pretty sure you'll find the word "never" in there. Is it? Does it happen to be in bold type, or in all caps, or underlined, by any chance? (^_^)
    If what it says on the back of the card is unclear in any way, please send me the exact wording and tell me precisely what you find unclear about it, and I'll work with you to make sure it's clarified. I promise. Or you can read FAQ 19E (the FAQs are above left).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 26, 2009


    Another question

    >From: Dawn
    >Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 8:32:09 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Another question.
    >First Charleston done. Player 1 and 2 start their 2nd Charleston. 1 player picks up the tiles and looks at them. Then player 3 says I don’t want to do 2nd Charleston. Can she stop at this point? Do we just back up? This was during tournament play at the temple. Thanks!

    Hi Dawn,
    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 FAQ 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, look for the question entitled "When can I stop the Charleston?"
    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)
    March 23, 2009


    Can she change her mind? Or is the tile already "down"?

    >From: Dawn
    >Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 9:37:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Player 1 has 2 4 dots exposed with a joker. Play passes around the table to Player 4. She picks a tile to start her turn, racks it and picks up the 4 dot out of her rack and says 4 dot and has the tile face up. On her way to putting on the table she sees the exposed 4 dot at Player 1 and wants to exchange the joker. The tile never hit the table it was still her turn. Some women at the table thought her intention was to discard that tile. It should have to be played Others thought it was still her turn she should be able to exchange. What's the really story?
    >Thanks
    >Midwest Mah Jongg Player

    Hi Midwest Dawn,
    "Change of heart" questions are among the most "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs") about American-style mah-jongg. You have asked Frequently Asked Questions #19A & B. 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.

    Cheers from London Heathrow Airport!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    London, England
    March 23, 2009


    >From: "LI2MARCO©aol.com"
    >Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 11:36:39 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am hosting a mahjongg tournament cruise in Nov. 2009 roundtrip Ft. Lauderdale. The cost is extremely good and the tournament will be held during the 2 days at sea. For information, please visit our website at:
    >www.mahjongatsea.com
    >Thank you for your time.
    >Regards,
    >Linda Galenskas


    Is everybody else right? Or is she right?

    >From: "Marty
    >Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 3:15:29 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I called a discard for Maj. Discovered I was wrong and had exposed my hand...which is now dead.
    >The person who's turn was skipped insisted that she got her turn back. The rest of the table said no....the person to my right had the next turn.
    >Which is correct.
    >Thanks
    >Marty

    Hi Marty,
    Don't you love these players who make up rules based on their notion that the world ought to always treat them as special? (^_^) I wrote about such players in column #387. (Hint: I'm saying everybody else is right... not her. Once you called the tile, her turn was gone.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Mumbai (Bombay), India
    March 22, 2009


    Is it a valid jokerless hand if she had a joker at one time?

    >From: Rachel
    >Sent: Thursday, March 19, 2009 7:58:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Player 'A' exposes a pung or kong using a joker tile. During play the joker is redeemed for a symbol tile. Player 'A' calls Mah Jongg and now shows no jokers in her hand. Is the hand jokerless?
    >I read in a 1984 set of rules that it was not jokerless, as a joker had previously been used during exposure. However, I cannot find when the latest set of NMJL rules were published or any further clarification of my query on the internet. I am a new player and therefore subjected to a variety of conflicting 'table' rules by my new colleagues!
    >Many thanks
    >Rachel Snell

    Hi Rachel, you wrote:

    I read in a 1984 set of rules
    Yeah, well, that is the latest publication from the League...

    that it was not jokerless, as a joker had previously been used during exposure.
    That rule has been changed since 1984. Now the rule is: as long as there are no jokers in the hand at the time of mahj declaration, the hand is jokerless, and earns double. No matter what your new colleagues tell you. But they won't buy the truth from you. You'll have to show them proof, if you want to buck their "authority." But more on this below...

    I cannot find when the latest set of NMJL rules were published
    There are two ways to keep up-to-date on the latest rules:
    Buy my book. 2007 is a lot more recent than 1984. (^_^)
    Buy your card direct from the League. Every January they send the latest rule refinements to their whole mailing list. You need to be on their mailing list, and you need to read the yearly bulletin, and you need to keep the yearly bulletins.

    I am a new player and therefore subjected to a variety of conflicting 'table' rules by my new colleagues!
    Yes, that happens a lot. Read FAQ 14 -- and check out my weekly column too. You can't tell your new colleagues that their table rules are wrong. They outnumber 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.
    Mumbai (Bombay), India
    March 20, 2009


    (1) They don't like 3P! (2) How to rotate tables?

    >From: Diane
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 2:41:35 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Help
    >Hi Tom, we all value your opinion so here’s the problem.
    >We play strictly by the National Maj League Rules.
    >Our little group has grown to 25 or so each week.
    >If possible we rotate in the extra players if there are 2 extra players.
    >The problem is that some of the ladies don’t like to play 3. Sometimes we don’t have an even number. Last week we had 19 players—4 tables of 4 and 1 table of 3.
    > I have said if you don’t want to play three then find another group. The problem comes with the rotation and who changes tables and when. It is causing a lot of confusion and unhappiness with our group. Should we have just rotated in constantly with the extra 3 players?
    >Do you have any ideas for this?
    >And, what would you suggest for rotating tables with even numbers.
    >Any help you can give will be appreciated!
    >Thanks
    >Diane [deleted]
    >[address deleted]
    >Tucson, AZ

    Hi Diane,
    So you had a couple of questions about your multi-table group:

    (Paraphrased) How do we deal with an odd number of players when nobody wants to play 3 at a table?
    I don't like 3 either, so I don't blame them. 5 is better than 3. So when you had 4 tables of 4 and 1 table of 3, you could have instead had 3 tables of 5 and 1 table of 4. See FAQ 13a for how to play with 5. (No need to bet with 5 if anybody doesn't like the betting thing, it adds time to a game and also adds to the money thing). Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left.

    And, what would you suggest for rotating tables with even numbers.
    You're talking about mixing up the players at the tables (not just rearranging players at one table). I discussed this in FAQ 21 - look for the paragraph that starts "You need an East marker on the east wall..." (beneath the photo of Bill Nachenberg at his scoring computer and above the photo of Judi Nachenberg presiding over the stuff-for-sale table).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Bombay (Mumbai), India
    March 19, 2009


    What's the proper way to handle a short or long hand?

    >From: Ronile
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 8:26:53 AM
    >Subject: MJ Question
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A group of us has been playing Chinese MJ for a few years. We’ve had several new players join and there seems to be a lot of messed up hands, mainly short tiles, but sometimes an extra tile (assume they forgot to pick up for flowers or kong or forgot to discard). Since this only happened once before, in our “old timers” group”, it was declared a dead hand and the player was totally out of that hand.
    >Being nice to the “newbies”, when the short or extra tile was discovered we have done the following (depending on who was playing): (1) nice way – couldn’t pick up tile for complete hand, (or discard the extra tile) therefore could not MJ, but could score hand at end of round; (2) very nice way – no matter when discovered, allowed player to pick up missing tile from end of wall or discard extra tile from hand.
    >Now that the newbies have been playing for awhile, some of our group wants to go back to the “dead hand” where the player is out of that hand and cannot score, others want to go with (1) above. We’ve tried to find something in the official Chinese rules, but they don't seem to address these issues – guess they assume if you’re that advanced you don’t make mistakes!
    >Can you give us some insight on what usually happens in these cases? Yes, it is a friendly game, but we do play for money (please, don’t turn us in!).
    >Sorry this was so long.
    >Thanks,
    >Ronile

    Hi Ronile,
    This is a cosmic coincidence - what Kurt Vonnegut Jr. called a "chronosynclastic infundibulum." I was asked this exact same question last night, two times. I'm in Bombay, India, and depending on which time zone you're in in America, you might have typed your question at the exact time I was asked it the second time last night.

    I'm here on a speaking engagement, and addressed a Bombay mahjong club last night. My hostess asked me this in the car on the way to the gathering, and two of her players asked me this after my speech. A hole must have opened up in the space-time continuum, and allowed the question to float through the ether, where it tickled your synapses and made you type your question! Wow.

    Sorry. Should answer your question. Same answer I gave the ladies last night. The noobs have had enough time to learn the lesson. Now the actual penalty should apply.

    When a player's hand has gone dead due to too few or too many tiles, that player should not be allowed to declare mahjong (and not fix the tile count either), but should be permitted to continue playing defensively. Some rules hold that the player should even be permitted to pung and chow, though why a dead player would want to I couldn't say.

    When you say you checked the "official" Chinese rules, I have to wonder which book or website you checked. Because the MCR definitely includes this, in no uncertain detail. It's also in my book, too. But it sounds like you actually play Chinese Classical, not Chinese Official (since you permit non-winners to score the hand). Whether or not you want dead players to score their hands is completely up to you (see 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.
    Mumbai (Bombay), India
    March 19, 2009


    do u know anyone who will make up tiles to match a set?

    >From: "Suz0728aol.com"
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 6:39:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >do u know anyone who will make up tiles to match a set? i have an old bakelite set with all the tiles, except the 8 jokers. i have tried to match up and use joker stickers, but i am unable to find the exact size.
    >any ideas???
    >thank you

    Hi Suz,
    I've posted your question on the Tiles Wanted bulletin board, which is what I assume you were trying to accomplish. But really you should have been more descriptive of your tiles (dimensions especially). You should also check the Tiles For Sale bulletin board. And read FAQ 7r.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Mumbai, India
    March 18, 2009


    Everybody killed themselves; what now?

    >From: Sharon
    >Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2009 11:01:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My Mah Jongg question or comment is:
    >Three players have gone dead, (first player called for Mah Jongg and did not have it, second and third exposed their tiles. What happens to the fourth player who has not exposed any tiles and is not dead.
    >Does she receive any points for being the only one alive? Sharon

    Hi Sharon,
    This is rule 98.d. in my book (page 62).
    In my opinion, the two who exposed their tiles are in error and should be penalized, but the official rule is that only the initiator of the error cascade has to pay. She pays double the value of her own hand (the hand she thought she was making) to the sole survivor, and the two dummies who killed their own hands don't have to pay.
    Let this be a lesson to them - look before acting. Don't just throw in the tiles (or show them to everybody and start the kvetching session), but rather wait and see what the "winner" has made.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Mumbai (Bombay), India
    March 16, 2009


    No questions... just kudos

    >From: Charles
    >Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2009 8:33:44 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >No questions . . .
    >Mr. Sloper:
    >I'm an old man with a business practice in financial services. I,
    >unfortunately, have my nose stuck to this amazing, damned machine for too
    >many hours each day.
    >I have never - and I repeat, "never" - come across a website as thorough,
    >logical, knowledgeable, clearly constructed, helpful, bright, complete,
    >pleasurable to use, informative, intelligent, generous, humored, readable,
    >useful . . . I could go on but my Thesaurus is in the office.
    >Good job, Mr. Sloper . . . no, GREAT (excuse the shouting) job.
    >Charles

    Aw shucks, Charles.
    Thanks. Very good of you to write.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Bombay, India
    March 16, 2009


    Can the bettor say stuff that affects the game?

    >From: "MMGymTeach
    >Sent: Friday, March 13, 2009 9:18:01 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you declare a player dead if you are the bettor?

    Absolutely not! While you're the bettor, you have to keep your mouth firmly zipped closed.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Bombay (Mumbai), India
    March 15, 2009


    Can I use the number zero in a consecutive run hand?

    >From: "sandra
    >Sent: Friday, March 13, 2009 12:14:05 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the 2008 card, consecutive hand number four - 1111 22 22 22 3333
    >Can you play this hand with four white dragons for zeros, three pairs of one's and a kong of two?
    >If so, does it matter what suit the kong is in?
    >Thank you
    >Sandra
    >Marathon Florida

    No. (^_^) 1-9 only. Not 0-9 and not 0-10. And no half numbers either. 1-9 only.
    Cheers from London Heathrow.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Friday the 13th, March, 2009


    what is my set worth? see, i'm not even shouting! (part 3)

    >From: ROBIN
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 10:44:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah jongg
    >Thank you, Sir..........you've completly given me what I need and I will
    >in good conscious be able to show my buyer your comments. Thank you for
    >this service......you've made our world a better place
    >Robin


    what is my set worth? see, i'm not even shouting! (part 2)

    >From: ROBIN
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 4:24:40 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Thanks VERY much (this is the part I want to shout - thanks!)
    >Mah-Jongg Set
    >Age determination checklist
    >1. Contents
    >a. Dice – 2
    >b. Sticks – 38 with ten black dot; 7 with five red dots; 41 with two black dots; 37 with one red dot
    >c. Container with lid with four green character and green edged wind chips
    >d. Craks – 108
    >e. Wind tiles – 16 – four each north, south, east west
    >f. Flowers – 4 - numbered 1 through 4 in green
    >g. Flowers – 4 - numbered 1 through 4 in red
    >h. Single character in green - 4 tiles
    >i. Single character in red – 4 tiles
    >j. Blanks - 8
    >2. No paper materials were included
    >3. Tiles (per FAQ 7c) made of: bone (I think per explanation in FAQ #) 7c
    >4. History of the set: My brother bought the set in 1958 from Mrs. J.L. Brown, 301 W. 217th St, Matteson, IL whose mother had the set about 40 years (circa 1918). Paper glued on back says:
    >MAKE IN CHINA
    > KWANG LI YUEN Co.
    > EXPORTERS & GENERAL MERCHANTS
    > No. 296, East Wuchang Road.
    > SHANGHAI CHINA
    > CODE ADDRESS 7015.
    > Telephone N. 3579
    >5. Dimensions of the tiles: Height – 1 & 3/16” width – 13/16” depth – 7/16” thickness of bamboo – ¼” and thickness of bone (I think) – 3/16”
    >6. How many tiles in the set: 148
    >7. Container – rosewood slide-front type – 5 drawers – four for tiles and one for other parts
    >8. Craks – simpler-style crak character per picture #8 in FAQ 7g
    >9. One bam – picture attached
    >10. Dragons – picture attached
    >11. Flowers/seasons – picture attached
    >12. Jokers – not sure what a joker is – couldn’t find a picture but hopefully something I’ve described in #1 is a joker - if it’s the single character as described in #1h and #1i above then the character is carved into the tile
    >I have a buyer but have no idea what to ask. They want to buy the set as a gift to a Chinese family. Thanks very much for any information you can provide.
    >Robin

    Hello Robin,
    OK, well, I see that nobody wants to tell me about the condition. (Same thing happened with John & Chamie - but in their case I also don't know which tile is missing). But your pictures reveal some information about the condition. There's some pretty severe discoloration on some of the tiles. Looks like all the tiles are there. But the set has no paper manual, and most sets from that era (the 1920s) did. The box appears to be pretty faded and scuffed. Not the best condition. The dice look larger and squarer than is usual for a 1920s set - they might be later additions - and one die has a paint flaw that I can see in the very large photos you sent. Oh, and your sticks aren't complete either (they ought to be evenly divisible by 4 in each denomination).

    So the discoloration, the wear and tear of the box, and the lack of paper manual are the biggest flaws I can see in your photos. It's a standard 1920s set, and not the best example of one.

    If I was advising your buyer on how much to pay, I'd say "no more than $90."
    So perhaps that tells you what you need to know?

    By the way, you mentioned jokers. If you'd carefully checked the FAQs (like FAQs 7a, 7b, & 7e), you'd know whether or not you have jokers in your set. (You don't. Jokers did not exist in 1920s sets, as a rule.)

    May the sale 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)
    March 11, 2009


    No bones about it...

    >From: Jack
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 2:57:42 PM
    >Subject: bones
    >Hi Tom,
    >Please tell me how I can purchase mah jong bones. Thanks.
    >Jack

    Hi Jack,
    Check with the vendors listed in FAQ 4a, and on the Accessories For Sale and Tiles For Sale bulletin boards.
    http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    May the sticks or bones not hurt you. (Sorry, lousy attempt at humor)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 11, 2009


    what is my set worth? see, i'm not even shouting!

    >From: ROBIN
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 2:36:48 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: what is my set worth, please?
    >The following is your checklist, completed as well as I think is possible
    >and a few pictures which I think (my first attempt) are small and I'm not
    >shouting but asking very meekly........what is my set worth?
    >Robin = ^..^ =
    >Attachments:
    >bams.jpg
    >blanks.jpg
    >box front.jpg
    >Box.jpg
    >Crak drawer.jpg
    >Craks.jpg
    >Dots.jpg
    >dovetailing 2.jpg
    >files.doc
    >flowers 2.jpg
    >Mah-jongg checklist.pdf
    >Other stuff.jpg
    >Wind tiles.jpg

    Hello Robin,
    I'll be happy to help you with your question, but you have to send me your checklist within the body of the email, not as an attachment.
    The valuation will be given on the bulletin board.
    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)
    March 11, 2009


    When making exposures, part 2

    >From: "Alice
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:24:49 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you very much. We play tonight and I will pass on your wisdom.
    >Alice


    When making exposures... (FAQs 19AX & 19Z)

    >From: "Alice
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 1:24:49 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When making exposures do you put them in order reflecting the hand you are playing or can you put them up on the rack in any order. Also, do you separate the kongs and pungs on the rack.
    >This question came up last week when a player had exposed her entire hand except for the pairs and the tiles were in random order. She was asked to put the tiles in order and she said she didn't have to. I cannot find this addressed in any rule book. What do you say?
    >Alice

    Hi Alice, you wrote:

    When making exposures do you put them in order reflecting the hand you are playing or can you put them up on the rack in any order. 
    Read FAQ 19AX at http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.htm

    Also, do you separate the kongs and pungs on the rack. 
    Read FAQ 19Z. Please bookmark FAQ 19 for your future reference.

    She was asked to put the tiles in order and she said she didn't have to.  I cannot find this addressed in any rule book. 
    When you can't find a rule in a rulebook, that often means there is no such rule.

    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)
    March 11, 2009


    Can I change my mind? (FAQ 19AM)

    >From: Arlene
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 6:49:48 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I called a tile for MJ and exposed part of my hand then changed my mind, am I dead? I didn't retrieve the tile called.
    >Thank you
    >Arlene

    Hi Arlene, long time no see!
    The "change of heart" rules are discussed in FAQ 19AM. The FAQ links are above left.

    After calling for a discard, you can change your mind only if you have not exposed any part of your hand. In a tournament setting, you can change your mind only if you have not exposed any part of your hand AND you have not taken the discard and put it atop your rack. (Check it out - read FAQ 19AM.)

    So you are not permitted to change your mind. You have committed to taking the discard and making the exposure. Since your call was "mahj," not merely for exposure, and assuming you're not able to make good on the call, then the answer to your question is yes. You are 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)
    March 11, 2009


    My wife's grandmother's set from the early 1900's, part 2

    >From: jmoran70
    >Sent: Monday, March 09, 2009 3:20 PM
    >Subject: Mahjongg Set Appraisal
    >Hi Tom :
    >Thank you for you email and I think that with your help we have been able to determine that the set that was in my wife's family is bone and bamboo. The carring case is leather w/felt lining, and the lock is broken. The count of the pieces is as follows.
    >Tiles - 147
    >Dice - 2, very small
    >Barrel w/disc - 1
    >Wind discs - 4
    >Sticks - Red - 8 pieces w/ 5 dots
    > 36 pieces w/ 1 dot
    >Sticks - Black - 40 pieces w/ 2 dots
    > 36 pieces w/ 10 dots
    >Thanks for your help, John & Chamie

    Hi John & Chamie,
    Please tell me the condition. And which tile is missing? Read the FAQs (FAQs 7a, 7b, 7h) for information on tile breakdowns and how to define condition. Also please repeat the original question.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 10, 2009


    Hot wall, part 3

    >From: Betsy
    >Sent: Sunday, March 8, 2009 5:16:20 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Okay, so do you mean the official rules do not include calling something a hot wall? It's just leave those tile to the end kind of thing?

    Yes, Betsy,
    That is exactly what I said in FAQ 19Y:

      There is no "hot wall" or "cold wall" or "pay for the party" rule in the official NMJL rules. Other than the double payment, the official NMJL rules do not stipulate any prohibition against, nor penalty for, throwing the winning tile, under any circumstances, no matter the number of exposures or the length of the remaining wall. But many groups adopt a "table rule" to stipulate such a penalty... Invariably, these table rules are called "cold wall" or "hot wall" or "paying for the party."

    I repeat my recommendation that you bookmark FAQ 19, and that you read FAQ 14 (again, if you read it before).

    BTW, I think I know what a "BFW" is... (^_~)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 8, 2009


    Hot wall, part 2

    >From: Betsy
    >Sent: Sunday, March 8, 2009 3:32:18 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I would not have emailed you if I had been able to find the answer to my question. Sending me to the FAQs, which I have looked at, is not the specific response I had hoped for. Whether or not you recognize the term hot wall, I was asking whether a player can pick do an exposure from that wall, whatever you want to call it, or if he or she can only pick in order to claim a mah jongg. otherwise, what is the point of that short wall in the first place? BFW

    Hello again Betsy,
    You missed the point entirely. It's not that I don't "recognize" the term hot wall. The point is that everybody's hot wall rules are different. It's like I told stacey on March 2 (below). There's no such thing as a universally-agreed interpretation of how any table rule should work. I can't tell you how your group's hot wall rules should work -- only your group can do that. As I wrote in FAQ 14.
    I'm sorry I disappointed you, but that's the way table rules roll.
    I can only tell you how the official rule works - and I did that in FAQ 19Y.
    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)
    March 8, 2009


    Hot wall (FAQ 19Y)

    >From: Betsy
    >Sent: Sunday, March 8, 2009 12:00:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Question about the hot wall --
    >I was taught that no player can pick a tile that has been discarded from the hot wall for an exposure unless it is only to make a mah jongg. Is that correct?
    >And one more --
    >My other question has to do with picking up a tile. If the player to my left discards a tile that I need, can I take that person's discarded tile even if I cannot make an exposure?
    >Thanks for your help.
    >Betsy
    >Mamaroneck, NY

    Hello Betsy, you wrote:

    Question about the hot wall
    Read FAQ 19Y. The FAQs are above left.

    I was taught that no player can pick a tile that has been discarded from the hot wall for an exposure unless it is only to make a mah jongg. Is that correct?
    Yes, it's correct that you were taught that (based on the fact that you told me so). (^_^) But in my opinion, people like your teacher shouldn't go around teaching other people their table rules (read FAQ 14) as if those were the actual official rules.

    And, in my opinion, people who learn a game from other people ought to follow up by availing themselves of written and printed information that's out there. You can buy the official rulebook from the National Mah Jongg League (see FAQ 3), or you can buy my book. You can read websites that describe the official rules, like Linda Fisher's site (see FAQ 4b), and you can read the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs") here on my site. Please bookmark the FAQs for future reference.

    can I take [a] discarded tile ... if I cannot make an exposure?
    Absolutely not. I'm surprised Ms. Hot Wall didn't teach you that. The "cost" of a discard is that you have to have enough identical tiles to make an exposure (minus one). If you don't have enough identical tiles, then you can't afford it. The "price" you pay for taking a discard is that you have to show the completed grouping to everybody, by exposing it atop your rack.

    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)
    March 8, 2009


    Where to buy a case without going on the Internet?

    >From: Merrily Lewis
    >Email: merrily20 at yahoo,com
    >Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2009 12:56:19 PM
    >Subject: mah jongg case
    >Hi
    >I am looking for a shop in Los Angeles area to buy an empty mah jongg case with accompanying boxes to store the tiles. I have my mothers' old wet, but the case and boxes are moldy. Do you know of anyplace that I can go-I would prefer to see before buying.
    >Thanks

    Sorry, Merrily,
    But verily, the Internet is the place to buy such a thing. No Chinatown shops sell empty cases. Read FAQ 7k. Also check FAQ 4a for the main online vendors of such things. They've got photos, so you can see before buying. You can also call them and talk to them and ask questions. Also see the Accessories Wanted Bulletin Board. Also see FAQ 7o for tips on fixing that moldy smell. All the FAQs and BBs are above left.
    May the case 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)
    March 7, 2009


    Etiquette in the deal

    >From: Gayle
    >Sent: Saturday, March 7, 2009 11:59:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When tiles are being passed out at the beginning of the game, is it okay to start looking at the tiles before everyone has theirs?

    Hi Gayle,

    If everybody else is, sure. Go ahead. But if nobody else is, then you shouldn't. Go with the flow, Baby!

    Or you could try talking about it with your group. "What do you girls think? Should we make the deal go faster and sort our tiles while we're dealing, or should we wait until everybody has the right number of tiles first?"

    The main reason to wait until the deal is finished is just in case there's an error during the deal process. Sometimes somebody gets skipped accidentally, or sometimes the dealer might forget that she's already taken thrice, and take two stacks a fourth time, which results in an error cascade (a misdeal). It's not unusual to err during the deal, and it's most easily remedied if everybody makes three double stacks on her NMJL card (I recommend that beginners put each take on a pane of the card. It's a three-pane card, so you'll know you're done taking double stacks when all three panes have a double stack).

    Just for the fun of it, why not read FAQ 9 for more on etiquette and error-handling? The FAQs are above left.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 7, 2009


    My Vietnamese mystery tiles, part 3

    >From: Darren
    >Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 10:20 AM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks Tom! (Love your book too btw)
    >Darren

    YVW, Darren. (^_^)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 6, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question #19E

    From: "Renee
    Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 7:44 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > The hand is 1123 11111 11111. Can a joker be used for the 1123?
    > Example: 1joker23? or is the 11 a pair?

    Hello Renee,
    This Frequently Asked Question is answered in FAQ 16 and FAQ 19e at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq.html
    Please bookmark the FAQs for 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)
    March 6, 2009


    My Vietnamese mystery tiles, part 2

    >From: "Darren
    >Sent: Thursday, March 5, 2009 3:04:34 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks Tom,
    > I didn’t see these mystery tiles in FAQ 7e, so here is a picture of them.
    >Thanks,
    >Darren

    Hi Darren,

    Sorry, I misspoke earlier. Turns out I didn't have photos of this type of tile in FAQ 7e (until now). But compare that photo with this photo from FAQ 7b:

    I call your tiles the "kings & queens." They're a common feature of Vietnamese sets. They're used just like extra flowers (which is why they're numbered the same way flowers are).
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 5, 2009


    My set in San Diego

    >From: "sleeplessinsandiego
    >Sent: Thursday, March 5, 2009 10:05:23 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hello,
    > Thank you for your time reading my e-mail. I am just learning about this game. I really appreciate your web site as it has helped out a lot. I have also ordered The Red Dragon & The West Wind tonight. I do have a couple of questions. Based on the picture I have attached as my 148 tile set I want to say that this set is based off of an antique set, but I bought this set at an American store within the past 10 years. Would that be correct? The only extras my set came with are the dice in my second picture. My second question is about the dice that came with my set. I have read that you can use 2 of the dice to determine who goes first and which wall to break and where to break the wall. What is the 3rd 1-6 die used for? Also what is the other die in the orange holder for? It has pictures of the 4 winds and the red/green dragon.
    >Thank you very much for your help.
    >Paul

    Hi Paul, you wrote:

    I really appreciate your web site as it has helped out a lot.
    Aw shucks!

    I have also ordered The Red Dragon & The West Wind tonight.
    Cool! (^_^)

    I want to say that this set is based off of an antique set,
    I wouldn't say that. I have a set just like that one in my collection (I bought it at The Gamekeeper, in the shopping mall here in town, some years back). It's a fairly common Taiwanese-made set. Definitely modern origin.

    I bought this set at an American store within the past 10 years. Would that be correct?
    I have no reason to doubt you on that! (^_^)

    What is the 3rd 1-6 die used for?
    Sets often come with extra blank tiles, or extra flowers or jokers, or extra dice. Some players like to use more than 2 dice. Perlmen & Chan (FAQ 3) say that "southerners" (those from the south of China), for instance, like to use 3 dice rather than 2.

    what is the other die in the orange holder for?
    That's the round indicator, it's used to indicate the "prevailing wind." Read about mah-jongg "bits & pieces" in FAQ 7d.

    May the tiles be with you. Oh wait, I guess they already are! (In one sense, anyway.)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 5, 2009


    My Vietnamese set

    >From: "Darren
    >Sent: Thursday, March 5, 2009 2:30:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I recently purchased a Vietnamese set of tiles. According to the info you have provided, there are 8 jokers and 16 flower/season tiles. My set looks like it has 16 jokers and 8 flower tiles. The 8 jokers you provide info on are easily identifiable, but there are 8 other tiles….2 sets of 4…..each numbered (with Chinese numbers?) one through 4. Each set of 4 has a unique design or writing on it. Are these extra jokers, or are these the other flowers/seasons? If they are jokers how are they used? Any info would be appreciated. (And thank you for your website!)
    >Thanks,
    >Darren

    Hi Darren,
    All sets come in variations. The info I provided in the FAQs describes two different configurations of Vietnamese sets (not just 1 - see FAQ 2b). It's quite possible that yours is a third that I hadn't known of previously. All "mystery tiles" are shown and described in FAQ 7e (http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/special.htm). If you can't identify your mystery tiles after reading that FAQ, send me photos and I can identify them for you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 5, 2009


    What the heck game are my friends teaching me?

    From: "Susan
    Sent: Tuesday, March 03, 2009 1:11 PM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: I still can not figure out which
    > game my friends are teaching me.
    > We play with 146 tiles (36 bams, 36 cracks, 36 dots, 16 winds, 12
    > dragons, 8 flowers and 2 jokers) We have a sheet we refer to for
    > scoring "Twenty Point Mahjong Score Card - triplets and Kongs" we
    > score triplets, ling sequences and pairs and then receive Doubles for
    > various things (i.e. own flower=1 double, 3 or 4 dragons or flowers
    > (of same color) = 1 double. And there are 20 special hands such as
    > "Hidden Treasure", "All Honors", "Thirteen Orphans"
    > I am interested in buying a book or reading more on line but nothing
    > seems to be this game that I am learning...
    > If you know the answer, I would appreciate your help.
    > thanks,
    > Susan Crowe

    Hi Susan,
    I see that I didn't list Robert F. Foster's "Twenty Point Mahjong" book in FAQ 3. But his game is #23 in FAQ 2b.
    Foster wrote it in the 1920s, and copies occasionally show up on eBay. You could also look in websites specializing in old out of print books.

    Foster seems to have been the first American author to put forth a new and novel way of playing. Some of his concepts seem to have inspired female players who kept on playing after the mah-jongg craze died down in the 1920's, who developed new hands, different uses of flowers, "wild tiles," which then led to the development of modern American mah jongg as defined by the National Mah Jongg League.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    3/3/09 (Square Root Day)


    She says this is her table rule. Is that right?

    >From: stacey
    >Sent: Monday, March 2, 2009 8:08:49 PM
    >Subject: Question
    >Dear Tom,
    >I've been reading q's and a's on your site and am intrigued about the "Atomic" rule (my friend calls it "Ballistic", but that's another story. I had never heard of it.) Anyway, in her game in Florida the Atomic rule is not just that 7 pairs will make Mah Jongg, but 4 pungs and a pair would also constitute an Atomic hand. Is that right?
    >Thanx,
    >Stacey
    >New York

    Hi Stacey,
    If she says that's her table rule, then I have to assume that's her table rule. I don't know what you're asking me about "rightness." Table rules are neither right nor wrong. They just are. Every "common" table rule has a hundred different interpretations. They're all unofficial. It would be a fool's errand to try to document all the "official" unofficial table rules. That's an oxymoron.
    Please read FAQ 14 for the complete word on table rules. The FAQs are above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 2, 2009


    MCR software, in Japanese

    >From: Marcio Fujiy
    >Sent: Sunday, March 1, 2009 4:58:12 AM
    >Subject: MCR software, in Japanese
    >Hi Tom
    >That's me again and this time I've found this free software, in Japanese, which uses Mahjong Competition Rules. Last version was released last month.
    >As there are few options to play MCR offline, I think you'd want to add it to your FAQ 5 (Computer MJ games).
    >http://pokegame.cool.ne.jp/free/poke_tyunma/tyunma.html
    >(I know you don't like to click on links but it's necessary :-) )
    >Unfortunately it's all in Japanese and the player must know some basic words like ダウンロード (DAUNROODO, to download the software :-) ) and フー, チー, ポン, カン (FUU, CHII, PON, KAN).
    >Sorry for my poor English (I'm from Brazil and don't speak English very well...)
    >Regards
    >Marcio Fujiy

    Olá!, Marcio.
    Thanks for the link. I had heard of Tyunma but somehow it had fallen through the cracks, and I'd never listed it in FAQ 5. And the anti-links sentiment above mainly applies to folks who want me to appraise a set for them (they need to email the description and photos to me).
    May the tiles be with you. (Babelfish translates that into Portuguese as: "Maio as telhas sejam com você.")
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    March 2, 2009


      Color key


        Blue = an FAQ, a question that's been asked frequently.
        Purple = an angry email from a disgruntled reader.
        Green = a happy email from a grateful reader.
        Red = a technical support question about a computer game.
        Orange = a weird or off-topic email.
        Black = none of the above. Regular question or comment.


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