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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
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Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
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3. Books on Mah-Jongg
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4a Selected Links
4b Lots O' Links!
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7.
  7a. Types of Sets
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   7c2. Is It Ivory?
   7c3. One Word: Plastics
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  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
  7t. DIY Joker Stickers
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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.


  • What's the penalty for misnaming?

    >From: Cathy S
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 8:37 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: If a mahjong tile is thrown but named incorrectly is the person fouled? Example: says 5 bam, but she throws an 8 dot and then takes it back?

    Hi Cathy, you wrote:

    If a mahjong tile is thrown but named incorrectly is the person fouled? Example: says 5 bam, but she throws an 8 dot
    I don't know what you mean by "fouled."* To see the rule about misnaming a discard, read FAQ 19AY. Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) 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. Please always check the FAQs first before asking a question.

    and then takes it back?
    She's not allowed to do that. Read FAQ 19AY. And also read FAQs 19A & B.

    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)
    The ides of July, 2009

    *Edit: On later reflection, I figure Cathy's use of the term "foul" probably means something for which a player can be called dead.


    Evaluate my set

    >From: jcp83
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:38 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have a mah jong set that I received from my grandmother and I am trying to figure out how old it is and approximately how much it is worth. I will answer the questions set forth in the "Set Age-Determination Checklist".
    >>1. Write a factual detailed list... I have a total of 154 tiles, and I still am not sure what they are made of after reading as much as I can on them. A few of them have chipping on the back side of them—which does not look like the way plastic usually chips. There are 10 Jokers, 36 Bamboos (4 of each 1-9), 36 Circles (4 of each 1-9), 16 Wind (4 of each N, S, E, W), 36 Characters (4 of each 1-9), 4 red dragons, 4 green dragons, 4 white dragons, 8 flowers (I think you call them flowers, 2 of each 1-4). I have 2 dice. The tiles are 1 1/8"x "x 7/8" in size. The box that they came in is a red faux alligator print that locks and I have the key. It has two brass hinges that allow it to open up like a suitcase. I do not have any instructions or paper. Inside the box it reads Royal Brand by Crisloid on a sticker. It has 4 trays. The box has quite a bit of wear. There are 5 racks. Also (unsure of what it is called) a circle that spins with numbers inside it.—see picture.
    >>2. Paper materials... I do not have any paper materials.
    >>3. Made of... completely unsure, but maybe some type of plastic—although the chipping throws me off a bit..
    >>4. When... the history of the set... my grandmothers—don’t have any other background—think it was purchased in the early 1970’s at the latest.
    >>5. Dimentions... Height 1 1/8", width 1" and depth 7/8".
    >>6. How many tiles... exact breakdown... Flowers 8; dragons 12; winds 16; bamboo 36; circles 36; characters 36, 10 jokers; 154 total tiles. 2 dice.
    >>7. Container... red faux alligator print, good amount of wear, brass hinges with lock and key, opens like a suitcase.
    >>8. Craks... they look more modern from the pictures on your site—like 1970’s to present.
    >>10. Dragons... picture attached.
    >>11. Flowers... picture attached.
    >>12. Jokers... pictures attached.
    > Thank you. I sincerely appreciate any help or insight you can provide.

    Hello, Mr. or Ms. P83, you asked:

    How old is it?
    See FAQ 19S and Column 311. It was made after 1971. I'm guessing 1970's. You should also see Jim May's and CHarli's websites - see FAQ 4a.

    How much is it worth?
    You should not sell it for less than $100, since it's an attractive set. Since some tiles are chipped (although I was confused by your description of the chipping) I guess the condition would be just Good, although the case appears to be VG to Fine. And it's missing the colored coin chips, so you probably wouldn't get $220 for it. Its worth then is somewhere between those two amounts.

    unsure of what it is called
    See FAQ 7. Everything you want to know about mah-jongg sets is in there. See FAQs 7a, 7b, & 7e if you have questions about tiles. FAQ 7d is about the other bits & pieces that come with mah-jongg sets.

    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)
    The ides of July, 2009


    Those confusing joker rules

    >From: carolann.n
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 9:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >If I have two jokers in my hand and I need a pung of 7's, can I pick up a discard 7 even if I just have jokers? Thanks
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi Carolann,
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) 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 before asking a question.

    In the case of the question you have asked, read FAQ 19L.
    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)
    The ides of July, 2009


    Hot tile penalty

    >From: Cheryl R
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 7:28 AM
    >Subject: Question for you
    >Tom-
    >Do you know of a house rule that addresses this situation: A player has three exposures and another deliberately throws out the tile that is needed to make that player's mahjong because her own hand is set.
    >I seem to recall playing in a tournament where the player who threw mahj with three exposures had additional points deducted from her score.
    >Your thoughts?
    >Thanks,
    >Cheryl

    Hi Cheryl,
    You correctly remember the tournament rule. Most people do not use strict tournament rules in their regular games. Most people use the official rules as stated in the rulebook and the yearly bulletins instead. If you want to use tournament rules in your home game, you can, but read FAQs 14 & 19Y before you go instituting table rules.
    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)
    The ides of July, 2009


    Joker redemption & the order of things

    >From: stacey w
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 5:52 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >HI Tom,
    >At our game the other evening, a discarded tile was called by a player. She exposed the pung, then, before discarding, took another tile from her hand and exchanged it for a joker from another player’s exposure and that gave her Mah Jongg. She said, “And I picked it myself.” The question is, was Mah Jongg made by her picking the winning tile herself (since she exchanged a tile from her hand for a joker) or was it made by the initial calling of the first tile? We do play that if you picked a tile from the wall and then exchanged it for a joker and that joker completes your hand for Mah Jongg, then you “picked it yourself.”
    >Thanks,
    >Stacey

    Hi Stacey,
    If her exposed set was complete before redeeming the joker, then it's self-pick mah jongg. Anytime the player's last act before declaring mah jongg is to redeem a joker, it's considered self-pick.
    But. If the exposed set was not complete before redeeming (if she exposed a pung, then redeemed, then promoted the pung to a kong), then she's dead. Read FAQ 19M. The FAQs are above left. Please bookmark FAQ 19, and please always check the FAQs before asking a 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)
    The ides of July, 2009


    How old is my set?

    >From: Boni
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 3:34 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have a mah jong set that I received in the mid 1960's that I am trying to figure out how old it is. I will answer the questions set forth in the "Set Age-Determination Checklist".
    >1. Write a factual detailed list... I have a total of 148 tiles that I believe to be bakelite. 144 tiles are of the characters, circles, bamboo, winds, dragons, and 8 flowers. I also have 4 tiles that are blank. I have 6 dice. The tiles are 1 3/4"x1"x3/4" in size. I do not have the box that they came in, nor any instructions. I received this set from a Phillipino Doctor friend. It was not new when I received it and I believe that she brought it from the Phillipines.
    >2. Paper materials... I do not have any paper materials.
    >3. Made of... I believe the tiles are bakelite from the research that I did.
    >4. When... the history of the set... I received it from a Phillipino Doctor friend and I believe that she brought it from the Phillipines with her.
    >5. Dimentions... Height 1 3/4", width 1" and depth 3/4".
    >6. How many tiles... exact breakdown... Flowers 8; blanks 4; dragons 12; winds 16; bamboo 36; circles 36; characters 36. Total of 148 tiles. 6 dice.
    >7. Container... I do not have the original container.
    >8. Craks... they look like the most early (1920's) sets.
    >9. One Bams... picture attached.
    >10. Dragons... picture attached.
    >11. Flowers... picture attached.
    >12. Jokers... I do not have any.
    >Boni
    >Scottsdale, AZ

    >From: Boni
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 3:41 PM
    >Subject: Fw: mah jong set evaluation
    >----- Original Message -----
    >From: Boni
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 3:39 PM
    >Subject: mah jong set evaluation
    >I just emailed you some information regarding this set. The pictures appeared large so I'm emailing you some that may be a better size.
    >Boni
    >Scottsdale, AZ

    Hi Boni, you asked:

    How old is it?
    It's what's called an "applejuice" Bakelite set. Those "cracks" in the material are places in the makeup of the plastic where the suspended cloudy stuff is separated by clear stuff. I couldn't say precisely when this set was made, because I'm not an expert on manufacturers like Jim May or CHarli are. But the set has Western indices (meaning it was not made for domestic use in China) and only 8 flowers. It was probably made for playing Chinese Classical mah-jongg. Maybe 1930's to 1950's. You could check Jim May's site and CHarli's site, see if they have more definitive information. You can find links to both of their sites in FAQ 4a, above left. Good luck!

    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Bastille Day, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question #19M3, part 2

    >From: Sharyn
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 11:25 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A friend recently asked this question of you, and her interpretation of your answer differs from mine, so I am asking for a clarification.
    >In a recent game, a player picked an 8 crack discard, added an 8 crack and 2 jokers from her hand for a kong of 8 cracks, and then realized that she, in fact, had two more 8 cracks in her hand and would not have needed to use any jokers for a kong.
    >In your answer, you told my friend (Chrys) to read FAQ 19M3 and the back of the card to find the answer. She thinks that this meant that it is illegal for the player to redeem the jokers she exposed with the two 8 cracks that were already in her hand. I think that, from reading the back of the card, it is legal, on her next turn, for that player to redeem the tiles , since the card says “Joker or jokers may be replaced in ANY exposure with like tile or tiles by ANY player, whether picked from wall or in player’s hand, when it is player’s turn.” (I added the caps).
    >Thank you very much for the clarification.
    >Sharyn

    Hi Sharon,
    Clearly, you read and fully understood FAQ 19M3 and the back of the card. You know what "any" means. Chrys either didn't read FAQ 19M3 and the back of the card, or was misled by some wording. If she was misled by some of my wording, I'd dearly love to know what the misleading wording was so I could fix 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)
    Bastille Day, 2009


    Shopping in Hong Kong, part 2

    From: "Arjen
    Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 4:40 PM
    Subject: Re: perusing mah jongg sets in Hong Kong, July 2009
    > Hi Tom
    > Thanks for your reply.
    > Thanks also for the insight about preferring plastic tiles. I suppose
    > that too makes sense in the new context. Seeing it as a playing
    > utility rather than as a collectable... then apart from the
    > superstition, a new/plastic set would then be fine, and even preferred
    > - no potential marking and so on.
    > And, it explains why the bamboo/bone sets I saw had the Arabic
    > numerals, and why Wing Shing Cheung only had one such set; so please
    > disregard my earlier note about their selection, in this case it
    > wouldn't be relevant. They've indeed got a large selection of plastic
    > sets.
    > Thanks again.
    > Cheers,
    > Arjen.

    Hi Arjen,
    Great, then we both gave each other new insights! (^_^)
    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)
    July 13, 2009


    Shopping in Hong Kong

    From: "Arjen
    Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 8:07 AM
    Subject: perusing mah jongg sets in Hong Kong, July 2009
    > Hi Tom!
    > While on holiday in Hong Kong with my daughter, I was researching
    > places to find a nice bamboo/bone Cantonese/Hong Kong set, naturally
    > also using your pages as a guide (thanks for collecting and
    > maintaining all that info!). From that and while on the ground, I
    > learnt a few new things that you may find of interest.
    >
    > Went past Wing Shing Cheung (Causeway Bay) today, and was actually
    > quite disappointed with their current selection; at least, they had
    > only one bamboo/bone set and it wasn't particularly interesting. I did
    > buy a little plastic travel set from them.
    >
    > While perusing antique stores around the Hollywood Rd area, I noticed
    > that they have some very nice boxes, but as far as I could tell only
    > new sets - additionally, nearly all with Arabic numbers on them so
    > clearly aimed at the non-locals here. At first I put the "new
    > pretending to be old" down to what one might expect (I don't know if
    > it was on your pages, but somewhere it told that Hong Kong craftsmen
    > are very skilled in the art of aging things, from creating fake
    > Egyptian artefacts), but tonight I found one reference online that
    > might actually make more sense, see http://blog.seattlepi.com/redlantern/archives/142840.asp)
    > In short, the lore is that one should never buy a used set, because it
    > might contain residual bad luck from its previous owners. As you will
    > know, various types of bad luck surrounding game flow are firmly
    > entrenched with the Mah Jongg tradition, so this set related one
    > actually appears to fit well.
    >
    > Considering this, the best place to buy a set may indeed be one of the
    > local manufacturers, as then you'd be certain it's new. One can always
    > buy a nice box from elsewhere - and again, the antique stores and
    > market stalls do have some very nice ones (undoubtedly some will look
    > old rather than actually be old, that's for the individual to decide).
    >
    > I don't have any confirmation of this, the locals I've dealt with so
    > far (in Mah Jongg context) don't share any common language with me, so
    > the interactions have been interesting but were not suitable for
    > figuring out such stories, let alone explore taboos...
    >
    > I might still go past Ying Fat Cheung (manufactory) and possibly
    > others before leaving, and I will let you know about their current
    > state (from my viewpoint, of course), perhaps of use to your pages.
    >
    > As a suggestion, since you do appear to be "mah jongg grand central"
    > on the net... have you considered using a CMS (content management
    > system) like Drupal or Joomla for your site, or perhaps even just a
    > wiki? The latter would allow (selected or all registered) users to be
    > able to add/edit/annotate content, which may be a great asset. For
    > addresses in various countries, Google maps may also be useful. It's
    > quite easy to create a map with a number of points on it.
    > Cheers, Arjen.
    > (based in Brisbane, Australia - originally from Amsterdam, The
    > Netherlands)

    Goedemorgen, Arjen,
    Thanks so much for the detailed report! It's so helpful that I plan to add it to FAQ 7m. To reply to selected items:

    disappointed with their current selection; at least, they had
    > only one bamboo/bone set
    Bone/bam sets, hmm? Plastic is better!! Bone-and-bamboo is for antiques. There is one company still making bone/bam sets, and I don't think they are made for domestic use. Only Westerners want bone/bam, and many Chinese think as I do - that plastic is better.

    as far as I could tell only
    > new sets
    I slap my forehead - all these years, I've only been thinking about shopping for new sets. It never occurred to me that anybody would want to go shopping for old sets in Hong Kong. I hadn't even thought about it.

    (I don't know if
    > it was on your pages, but somewhere it told that Hong Kong craftsmen
    > are very skilled in the art of aging things
    Yes, that's in FAQ 7g.

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/redlantern/archives/142840.asp
    Nice article. But I disagree with Nancy about one thing - it's not necessary for the new set to contain an instruction booklet. The instruction booklets those sets DO come with are USELESS. They're written in Chinglish and the rules they describe are incomprehensible. One common booklet even shows a Chinese joker and says it's a white dragon! If someone wants to learn mahjong, better to buy a good book from among those listed in FAQ 3.

    As for the superstition about old sets. I hadn't heard that before, but it fits. And it explains why we don't see many old sets in those streetside stalls. The eBay sellers offer those, when they can get them, of course, along with the artificially aged ones (which are always bone/bam, never plastic) but the street sellers don't seem to be aware of the sales potential for those bad-luck sets to foreign devils.

    have you considered using a CMS (content management
    > system) like Drupal or Joomla for your site
    I'm a video game producer, not a web programmer. And I don't have time to learn programming, or money to spend on web programmers.

    For
    > addresses in various countries, Google maps may also be useful. It's
    > quite easy to create a map with a number of points on it.
    Yes, I've thought about making a map, but of what? Mahjong shops? Too much work.

    Thanks again for the informative email, Arjen!
    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)
    July 13, 2009


    What is a "Molly," part 3

    >From: Kandra
    >Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 7:39 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >I'm sure no one else in the world uses mollies but the people I play with but would you please correct my email to you.
    >I said there are 9 groups of three in front of the mollie wall.
    >It should be 6 groups of three.
    >Thanks for your time.
    >Kandy
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi Kandy,
    This post constitutes the correction.
    FYI, I'm not particularly interested in the details of how your 3-player Charleston works. As I wrote in FAQ 13a, the official rule is to not do a Charleston at all when you have 3 players. As I wrote in FAQ 14, if you're using an unofficial rule, it's your responsibility to figure out how it should work.
    If I tried to collect all the unofficial rules everybody uses, I'd soon go crazy!
    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)
    July 13, 2009


    Picking out of turn, part 2

    >From: Ellen M
    >Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 7:24 PM
    >Subject: Picking out of turn
    >Two part question. If another player picks and discards before I have discarded, what happens? Second part. If another player picks but is stoped before they discard, what happens? Ellen

    Hi Ellen, you asked:

    If another player picks and discards before I have discarded, what [should] happens?
    It was the middle of your turn, and somebody else went ahead and took a turn? Pfft! Call her dead. She'll learn not to do that anymore. But I gotta say, you need to think about whether or not you might have been taking too much time. Are you a slow player? Read FAQ 19BA.

    If another player picks but is stoped before they discard, what [should] happens?
    It depends. You haven't painted me a clear picture. What did the player do after picking? Why is somebody "stopping" her? I'm guessing that you're just asking me about the "window of opportunity."
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) 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 before asking a question.

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

    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)
    July 12, 2009


    Does every move have to be justifiable on demand?

    >From: Jeanette
    >Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 8:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >American MJ: For simplicity sake, I'll give an example, then ask the question...
    >There aren't many tiles left, the hand is almost over.
    >N cannot possibly MJ with what she is holding.
    >S could possibly MJ
    >E could possibly MJ
    >W discards a G
    >N calls and exposes a Pung, then discards a G as well.
    >It's now W's turn again since the play went back to N
    >It's as if N only called for the Green to interrupt S having her turn.
    >Is this permissable?
    >I can't find anywhere where it's against any rules. In my opinion it's just not a smart move on N's part because she exposed something that she didn't need to and therefore missed out on a fresh tile.
    >One of the ladies in our group thinks it's against the rules. She says that if S only needed 1 more tile to MJ (a J for example) and there were only 2-4 tiles left in the wall...
    >N called for Green, discards. W picks and it's a J, discards. S picks tile that is no good...(S missed out on the J).
    >Please give us your opinion or steer us where to get it.
    >Thanks,
    >Jeanette

    Hi Jeanette, you wrote:

    N cannot possibly MJ with what she is holding.
    I presume she's the only one who knows that, otherwise you would have called her dead already.

    It's as if N only called for the Green to interrupt S having her turn.
    So you're saying that a player needs to have a reason, a justification, for taking any action. And that she is responsible for giving an explanation that satisfies every other player upon demand.

    Is this permissable?
    >I can't find anywhere where it's against any rules.
    And you never will. It often happens that we go looking for a rule and can't find it anywhere. If "anywhere" includes the official rulebook, my book, and the yearly NMJL bulletins, and this website, then there's a very good reason why you haven't found the rule. (It usually means there is no such rule.)

    In my opinion it's just not a smart move
    In my opinion, it's just an unnecessary and frivolous move (that's not to say it's un-smart or inadvisable).

    One of the ladies in our group thinks it's against the rules. She says that if S only needed 1 more tile to MJ (a J for example) and there were only 2-4 tiles left in the wall...
    And of course, she didn't have to prove it -- you got elected to do the leg work. (^_^) Read my Column #387. Click the purple banner above, then scroll down to column 387 (November 16, 2008).

    May the harmony be with you... And "Yelda."
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 10, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question #19M3

    >From: Chyde54901
    >Cc: dkrumrei
    >Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 4:16 PM
    >Subject: Joker Question
    >Okay,
    >I have not been able to find the answer to this question in print although I believe I 100% know the answer to be "NO, you can't do that!" Can you show me in print where and why one cannot claim a discarded tile and display on their rack and then on their next turn use a correct tile in their hand that they forgot to use on the display to exchange with a joker on their rack?
    >In other words:
    > They needed a Kong of 8 cracks. They claimed one 8 crack and used two jokers and one eight crack from their hand and put it up on their rack. They soon realized their mistake. They used two jokers from their hand but they actually had (2) eight cracks in their hand that they SHOULD have used. On their next turn they want to exchange the two 8 cracks in their hand for the two jokers on their rack and put the jokers BACK into their hand. Yikes! I told them no but I can't find it in print where it explains this rule. OR MAYBE, just maybe, I'm wrong! Thank you!
    >C Hyde

    Hi C, you wrote:

    Can you show me in print where ... one cannot claim a discarded tile and display on their rack and then on their next turn use a correct tile in their hand that they forgot to use on the display to exchange with a joker on their rack?
    No. Because there is no such rule.

    Can you show me in print ...why one cannot claim a discarded tile and display on their rack and then on their next turn use a correct tile in their hand that they forgot to use on the display to exchange with a joker on their rack?
    The official rules do not come with reasons for their existence.

    OR MAYBE, just maybe, I'm wrong!
    You are. Read FAQ 19M3 (the FAQs are above left). Also read what it says on the back of your card.

    After you've read those two things, if you still have a question, I'm dying to hear 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)
    July 10, 2009


    What is a "Molly," part 2

    >From: Kandra
    >Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 8:02 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >This is a Mollie. This is used for 3 players. Three walls are set in usual fashion. The Mollie wall has one level of 19 tiles. 9 sets of three tiles are set in front of this wall with odd tile off to the side.
    >The Charlestons begin. Person passing to Mollie lays three tiles on top of Mollie wall. The person receiving takes the first set of three in front of Mollie wall. This continues until all six Charleston are completed. Optional takes place in same fashion. The odd tile is added to wall. East starts the game.
    >The person who explained this to our group was taught by an instructor who plays in tournaments. This is my first experience with a Mollie. It's kind of neat.
    >Take care,
    >Kandra
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi Kandra,
    Ah. So a Molly is a dummy in a 3-player Charleston. Thank you for sharing the info. Now we both know! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    July 10, 2009


    Can the bettor speak?

    >From: ellen N
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2009 8:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Someone declares mahjong and exposes all her tiles for mahjong. Everybody begins to pay the declarer, however, the better notices that the declarer exposed her hand incorrectly. The hand was played wrong. Is the better allowed to say that the hand is wrong at that time?
    >Ellen

    Hi Ellen,
    No. The bettor is not allowed to say anything until after all players have made payment. Then, after the bettor tells everybody they shouldn't have paid the alleged "winner," nobody gives any money back. FOUR people erred (not one). When people err, they sometimes have to pay a penalty. Read FAQ 9.
    If you want to get this ruling officially from the League, you should send them a self-addressed stamped envelope.
    I guess I should add this to the FAQs!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    Date: 7/8/9


    Picking and racking and "dropping"

    >From: Ruthie
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2009 9:22 AM
    >Subject: rules
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: What are the rules or the right protocol for "picking and racking?"
    >Also, if you pick a tile and you don't want it, do you drop it immediately or give a three second window for someone to call the last dropped tile? Thanks.....
    >When you post this please use my first name only.....Ruthie

    Hi Ruthie, you asked:

    What are the rules or the right protocol for "picking and racking?"
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) 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 before asking a question.

    I'm not quite sure what you want to know about picking and racking, but you should be able to find everything you want to know there. If you don't, write me again and tell me exactly what it is you want to know about picking and racking.

    Also, if you pick a tile and you don't want it, do you drop it immediately or give a three second window for someone to call the last dropped tile?
    By "drop" you mean "discard." See FAQ 19AD and the discussion of "Pickandrack" at the bottom of FAQ 19. In fact, what I wrote about this topic in my book was quoted by the NMJL in last year's yearly bulletin.

    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)
    Date: 7/8/9


    What is a "Molly"?

    >From: Kandra
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 07, 2009 1:38 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I played MJ today with three people. What is a Molly? Is it like a dummy hand how are charlestons handled?
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hi Kandra,
    I never heard of a Molly. Why don't you ask the person who used the term, and tell me? Then we'll both know! (^_^)
    If you do find out and write me again, please tell me which kind of mah-jongg you play. Since you mentioned "charlestons" I assume American, but Western/British rules also use a Charleston. See FAQ 2a (above left) if you're not sure which kind of mah-jongg you play.
    I hope one of our more knowledgeable readers will have heard of a Molly, and will write me. So please keep watching this 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)
    7/7, 2009


    Picking out of turn

    >From: Ellen M
    >Sent: Tuesday, July 07, 2009 10:05 AM
    >Subject: Out of turn
    >If it's north's turn and west jumps ahead and picks a tile. What happens?

    Hello Ellen,
    I assume you're talking about American mah-jongg, so I assume that you're talking about a seating arrangement different from the Chinese (I assume that when you mention W and N, you're figuring that W sits to N's right).

    Since every group and situation is different, I can't tell you what will happen. I can only tell you what I think ought to happen.

    In a "friendly" home game, W should put the tile back and undo the error. Caveat: I have gone and made another assumption: that the error CAN be undone (that it's not too late to have her simply put it back). If I've assumed incorrectly, you can read more about how errors should be handled in FAQ 9. You can access the Frequently Asked Questions above left.

    In a tournament, though, you'd probably want to ask a judge to come tell you what to do. The judge would probably declare W 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)
    7/7, 2009


    What does "neutral" mean?

    >From: CarolynW
    >Sent: Monday, July 06, 2009 4:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am using "A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg by Elaine Sandberg" (with the foreward by Tom Sloper). The Glossary identifies a neutral Tile as "A tile that can be used with any other tile, regardless of the Suit or Dragon. Winds, Flowers, Jokers and Soap when used as a "0" are neutral tiles."
    >Initially, it seemed to me that a neutral tile could be used with any other tile, similar to a joker. I have been unable to find any such examples throughout the book, and now do not think that is the purpose of a neutral tile. What is the significance of a neutral tile and how is it used? If it has no significance, what is the purpose of identifying it as such?
    >carolynw

    Hi Carolyn,
    Sandberg uses the word "neutral" whereas I use the word "suitless."
    The following tiles are suitless:

    • Winds
    • Flowers
    • Zeroes
    • Jokers, when they represent Winds
    • Jokers, when they represent Flowers
    • Jokers, when they represent Zeroes

    A lot of beginners look at a "2009" on the card, and, knowing that a zero is a white dragon, and that white dragons go with the suit of dots, assume that the two and the nine must be in the suit of dots. But not so - zeroes are suitless ("neutral"). White dragons, therefore, can be suited or suitless, depending on whether you're using them as a D or a zero.

    When you see a one-color hand on the card that includes winds and/or flowers and suit tiles, the suit can be any suit (it doesn't have to be "the blue suit" which you might think since one-color hands are always in blue ink).
    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)
    July 6, 2009


    Not vocalizing the call

    >From: Laurie
    >Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 8:26 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We play the American version using the NMJL card. A couple of ladies in my group have started an unfortunate habit of picking a discarded tile without “calling” it. If it happens to be their turn next, they simply pick up the discarded tile and expose it along with the other tiles from their rack for their exposure. I feel they should always say something… “I call the three bam”, or “I’ll take that tile” or something – anything! There have been times when I looked up and there is an exposure on the rack and I had no idea it was even made. Is there a “rule” about this, or is it just courteous – or am I totally wrong. I haven’t been able to find any advice on this. Thanks for your answer.
    >Laurie B

    Hi Laurie, you wrote:

    A couple of ladies in my group have started an unfortunate habit of picking a discarded tile without “calling” it.
    I have to be persnickety about the way I say things (so as not to cause any misunderstanding among my readers), so I have particular ways I use the words "pick" and "call." You're saying these players are taking the discard without vocalizing the call.

    There have been times when I looked up and there is an exposure on the rack and I had no idea it was even made.
    You're going to get yourself in trouble if you rely solely on your ears for everything. You really have to watch every move. You mustn't just listen. I was at a tournament last weekend, and several times it happened that a player discarded a tile and named it wrong.

    Is there a “rule” about this
    It is the rule that the call should be verbalized. Unfortunately, if you look for it in the official rulebook, you won't find the rule explicitly stated. It is explicitly stated in my book. If it ever happened that two players both wanted a discard, they would find it necessary to vocalize their intent. I'm guessing that your friends are mainly doing this when it's their turn. The vocalization is mainly important for interrupting the order of play and for when two people both want a tile. When it's a player's turn to pick from the wall and she alone wants the current discard, sometimes she might pick it up without vocalizing. It's not strictly kosher, but in a "friendly" game, folks might well not object.

    A couple of other things. First, you say that "a couple" of your other players have been doing this. That could well mean that this is the way it's going to be. You might not be able to raise a large enough vote to swing things your way.

    Secondly, I'm real big on harmonious play. When folks don't play according to the rules, that can cause disharmony. But it's an unfortunate truth that to point out disharmony runs the risk of causing disharmony. I wouldn't make a huge issue of this, especially if no problems are caused from it. But if a problem comes up, you might point out, "well, Abigail didn't vocalize the call, so Bertha didn't know her turn had been skipped." You might also suggest that the calls ought to always be vocalized, but if folks raise a stink about it, and/or vote you down, then you've spoken your mind and that's about all you can do.

    You could also keep a copy of the rulebook handy (you ought to do that anyway).

    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)
    July 2, 2009


    What does "racked" mean?

    >From: Martyf369
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 8:04 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Dear Tom,
    >At our last game day...the usual question arose about when is a discard dead.
    >My recall from you and your Frequently Asked Questions, was that the next picked tile had to be either discarded (named or placed) or the picked tile needed to be "racked". I thought I remembered you saying that a tile wasn't considered racked if it was just tapped on the top of the rack. Is this true and is this the "American Mah Jongg" rule of play or is it a table rule.
    >Thank you for your clarification on this.
    >Marty

    Hi Marty,
    I gather that your question is this:

    What is "racking"?
    This is answered in FAQ 19AD. It was a little hard to find, so just now, I added some internal crosslinks to the FAQ to make it easier to find this information. 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)
    July 1, 2009


    My new set didn't come with rules

    >From: Christopher H
    >Sent: Wednesday, July 01, 2009 8:54 AM
    >Subject: Please help direct me to proper rules.
    >Tom,
    > My name is Chris H_____. I recently purchase a set (Outlaws of the Marsh Bone Bamboo Mahjong) and the set didn't come with rules or directions. Could you please direct me to the proper rules page if pasted on the net? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    >Thanks,
    >Chris H

    Hello, Chris.
    Welcome to mahjong and to my mahjong website. You can find the answer to your question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs").
    Since you purchased a set that cannot be used to play American or Vietnamese mahjong, I recommend you begin with Frequently Asked Question #10.
    Then, after you've mastered the basics, you can choose an Asian variant. FAQ 2 can help you there.
    Once you've chosen a variant to learn, FAQ 3 can help you select a book, and you can find websites in FAQ 4.
    Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    Anytime you have a question, I'm always here to answer them. But please always check the FAQs first, before asking a 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)
    July 1, 2009


    Confused about the joker rules (American mah-jongg)

    >From: Julie H
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 1:28 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I need clarification on timing of redeeming a joker. How I understand Section M in FAQ 19 to read is that you bring the 14th tile in and then you can redeem someone’s joker at that time. However, does this mean that you cannot use that same joker to declare Mah-Jongg in the same turn? My Mah-Jongg friends and I are confused about this rule. There are some who have been playing for many years and do not observe this. Please give me clarification.
    >Thanks for your time,
    >Julie H

    Hi Julie, you asked:

    you bring the 14th tile in and then you can redeem someone’s joker at that time. However, does this mean that you cannot use that same joker to declare Mah-Jongg in the same turn?
    I have read and re-read FAQ 19M, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how it implies that you can't declare mah-jongg on the same turn you redeem a joker. Let's dissect this sort of move, shall we?

    Let's say an opponent is showing a kong of E with a joker:

    And let's say you are one tile away from mah-jongg:

    And let's say you pick an E:

    So, on the same turn in which you picked the E, you redeem it.

    As you can see in step 4 above, your hand is now a full, proper, mah-jongg hand. There is no rule that says you have to discard a tile and ruin your perfectly valid mah-jongg hand. A rule like that would not make any sense whatsoever, and would be very unpopular.

    Julie, you didn't say which part of FAQ 19M was misleading you. I suspect maybe it's this?

      To clarify: If you want to call for exposure, and then (on the same turn) redeem a joker, and then use that newly acquired joker to completely fill the exposure you just made in that same turn, NO. You are out of luck.

    In case that's the part you're talking about, let's go ahead and dissect that too.

    Let's say you are holding one redeemable tile that's stopping your hand from being ready for mah-jongg:

    Now let's say somebody discards 3D. You say "take" and expose a pung of 3D.

    Now you redeem the E, add the joker to the 3D pung, turning it into a kong, and then say "mah jongg."

    You can't do that! That's what I'm talking about in the above red excerpt from 19M. You can't call a discard to expose a pung, then redeem, then change the pung to a kong for mah-jongg. You have to be able to make the kong with the discard directly, without any intervening steps. It's not the same thing as what you asked about at all.

    If I have not answered your question, Julie, please tell me precisely which thing in FAQ 19M is confusing you. I want to fix it so it's as clear as possible.
    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)
    June 30, 2009


    Using jokers in Western mah-jongg

    >From: Adriana
    >Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 5:37 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I am Venezuelan trying to understand the rules of the wonderful game of Mah’jongg. My question is about jokers,
    >We play western style with many special hands, so I understood what you wrote about NEWS, kongs and pungs. -How many jokers can have a special hand,
    >Can we used them in a run like the serpent, gertie’s garter, greta’s garden, 13 wonderful lanterns, etc. How many jokers should we use in the game.
    >GRACIAS,
    >Maria ______, Caracas

    ¡Hola Maria!
    Jeff wrote recently (below) about playing Western mah-jongg in the Bahamas, and he reported that his friends play with jokers.
    I wrote in the Revised Edition of Mah Jong, Anyone? that I recommend you not use more than four jokers. And I also recommended that you not permit redemption of jokers.
    But take a look at FAQ 14 (above left); you can make up any rules you want. Use the jokers in any hand, in any way the player wants -- as long as you're all prepared to work out solutions to any problems that might arise.
    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)
    June 28, 2009


    What is it made of, when was it made, where was it made

    From: "betty
    Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 4:36 PM
    Subject: question- please
    > hello tom
    > appreciate you giving me some information if possible.I took a few
    > pictures of this mahjong set and cannot figure out what material it is
    > made of and approximate year it was made and where it was made.would you
    > be able to tell me anything about it.I would be grateful.
    > 5 long pieces racks all different colors-163 tiles-2 round circles-box
    > islooks to me faux dark brown leather.I am enclosing as much info as I
    > can see about it.
    > looks like good condition to me- nothing looks worn out.
    > I thank you so kindly
    > betty

    Hi Betty, you asked:

    What is my set made of
    Plastic. Read FAQ 7c.

    When was my set made
    You haven't given me enough information. With this type of set, the crucial information to determine age is the number of flowers & jokers. Read FAQ 7g.

    Where was my set made
    America. Read FAQ 7a.

    Tell me anything about my set.
    Read FAQ 7p. The FAQs are above left.

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


    Two Q's

    >From: Elyse & ______
    >Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 8:45 AM
    >Subject: Mahj Questions
    >Hi Tom,
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Yesterday at our game, a woman redeemed a joker. Before she racked it, she realized it was a mistake; she was waiting for her mahj tile to complete a pair. She figured she was stuck with it and discarded it, thus giving away that she needed a pair or single AND making the other player jokerless. Did she have to take that tile or could she change her mind before she racked it? (Maybe fumble with an excuse like -- I don't want to make her jokerless and my hand is a goner anyway!)
    >Also, I did read about officially racking a tile. Some women pull the tile behind their rack, but I assume the last discarded tile is not dead until the new tile is in the rack or discarded. Is that correct?
    >Thanks,
    >Elyse

    Hi Elyse, you asked:

    Did she have to take that tile or could she change her mind before she racked it?
    That's a whole new "change of heart" question that I never heard before! Why is it that everybody wants to change their minds about doing something, after they've already done it? In my not-so-humble opinion, people ought to just be sure they want to do something, then do it, then not try to undo it later. In mah jongg, you have to be nimble and decisive. Do-overs don't belong.
    Sorry, went off on a rant there.
    You'd have to ask the League this one - and you should get it in writing. But in my opinion, they'd probably say that once she'd placed the natural tile on the opponent's rack (or handed the natural to the opponent, or taken the opponent's joker), the act was not rescindable. Just saying "I'll redeem that" doesn't commit you to the act - but doing the act does.

    Also, I did read about officially racking a tile. Some women pull the tile behind their rack, but I assume the last discarded tile is not dead until the new tile is in the rack or discarded. Is that correct?
    It says the following in FAQ 19C:
    Q: When is it too late to claim a discard?
    A: The "window of opportunity" (during which a player may claim a discard) opens when a tile is "down" and closes when next player either racks, discards, or declares mah-jongg.

    Elyse, if that wording is not clear, it would be very kind if you could work with me to figure out a better way to word it. Or is it just a question of what the verb "rack" means?

    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)
    June 27, 2009


    What are "mixed chows"?

    >From: Dorothy
    >Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 5:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >At our usual Mahjong afternoon, a friend came with a list of new hands - 4 mixed chows and a pair of dragons Red/Green/White. She and the other players interpret this as 4 chows mixed of all suits eg. 1 Character 2 Bamboo 3 Circles etc. etc. I am not so sure that this would be right - does not mixed chows mean 4 chows of mixed suits - 1 Character 2 Character 3 Character.....4 Bamboo 5 Bamboo 6 Bamboo etc.etc. Can you clarify this for me.
    >Dorothy

    Hi Dorothy,
    The key thing about the phrase "mixed chows" is the letter S. There's no such thing as "a mixed chow." You have to have chows in multiple suits to have "mixed chows."
    A chow consisting of tiles from three suits would be a "knitted" chow. There's also such a thing as a "knitted set," in use in Mahjong Competition Rules. A knitted set is a 1-4-7 or a 2-5-8 or a 3-6-9.


    This hand contains mixed chows (one chow from each suit).

    Lining up three knitted chows, in which the knit order is the same in all chows, illustrates what knitted sets are.


    Three knitted sets.


    Here you see three complete knitted sets, in use in an MCR special hand.


    Three complete knitted sets form a "Knitted Straight" in MCR jargon.

    Just curious which kind of mahjong you play, Dorothy. It's not American mahjong, so which kind is it? I have all known variants listed in FAQ 2b. If it's easier, you could just tell me the author of the book your group uses.
    And I'm also curious where your friend found those "new hands" - a book or a website...?
    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)
    June 25, 2009


    Mahjong software (Frequently Asked Question #5)

    From: "John
    Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 8:39 PM
    Subject: official chinese mahjong software for Mac
    > Tom
    > I had a PC and enjoyed playing the 4 Winds Mahjong program. The game
    > functioned very smoothly and permitted a fairly wide range of official
    > rule formats.
    > Is there a another, comparable program for Mac? 4 Winds download
    > site seems to indicate that it is only available for PC.
    > thanks for your help
    > John

    Hi John,
    FAQ 5 lists all known mahjong software. If you can't find a downloadable Mac program, you could play online instead. The Frequently Asked Question links 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)
    June 25, 2009


    How do you handle gals that you suspect of cheating?

    >From: ██████
    >To: webmaster at sloperama.com
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 2:31 PM
    >Subject: Fw: cheating
    >--- On Tue, 6/23/09, howard wrote:
    >>From: ██████
    >>Subject: cheating
    >>To: sloperama@webmaster.com
    >>Date: Tuesday, June 23, 2009, 5:25 PM
    >>dear tom: i know this is a delicate question but how would you handle gals that you suspect of cheating? a couple of the ladies in our tornaments have already been asked not to return however there seems to be others what would be the most ethical and least offending way to solve this problem? (the suspician is more than just suspect) thank you love your column c████

    Hi C████,
    This is one of my favorite topics. I rub my hands in gleeful anticipation.

    You ask what to do if you suspect. Then you say you "more than just suspect." But you said there "seems to be others." So it seems to me that you don't have proof. If you have proof, you wouldn't need to ask me how to "handle" this. You'd know. And you wouldn't care about "offending" the cheater. Cheaters do not deserve gentle treatment. Everybody ought to know they're cheaters. People like that don't deserve to enjoy the lovely game of mah jongg.

    There are several missing tidbits and inherent questions raised by your email, which makes it difficult for me to answer completely. Because I happen to like this question, though, I'll try to answer them all.

    If you "only suspect" that someone is cheating, you have to get proof. You should not say anything to her without proof. If you only suspect her, it's even questionable whether you should say anything to anyone else. But if someone else expresses a suspicion to you, then share all the following information with her (she who expressed suspicion).
    The manner of cheating is also important. Once you have proof that someone is cheating, you also know how she's doing it. You didn't say what she's doing. I wrote about the most common type of cheating in Column 403 (April 26, 2009). Depending on how she's cheating, you may need to make rule changes. Or there may be ways to watch her to get proof. Or there may be things you can do to prevent the cheating. The next few pointers are about ways of cheating that I know of.
    If she's coming up with multiple jokers when she's the dealer, and you do not roll dice, then the solution is simple and twofold. One, make a rule that the dice must always be rolled. If anybody objects, print column 403 and share it with everybody. Everybody.
    If she's coming up with an amazing number of jokers even when she's not dealer, then she may be palming them during the shuffle. Read my account of the cheater caught during the 2007 Open European Mahjong Championship. It's in Column 325 (July 1, 2007). If this is what she's doing, you should see that the walls are not all the right length. Before the deal begins, every player's wall should be exactly the same length. Don't let the deal begin, if they don't all look equal. Then watch her hands while you all do the count. Actually, start with her wall, then count everybody else's wall.
    If she's coming up with an amazing number of jokers and the solution I suggested in #4 above doesn't apply, then she may be loading her wall just as described in Column 403, but later palming the end tiles surreptitiously. You have to watch her hands like a hawk, and keep watching the length of her wall.
    If you suspect that the cheater is loading a wall with jokers, then there are a couple of things you can do to try to prevent it.
    - First, if when shuffling, you shuffle the tiles face-up before turning them face-down, stop doing that. The first thing you should do after throwing in a hand is to turn all the tiles face-down. It's a complete waste of time to shuffle them while they're face-up. And shuffling them while face-up is just asking somebody to cheat.
    - Second, while shuffling, make sure that the tiles near the suspected cheater are thoroughly shuffled. Just reach over to the corners by her side of the table and swish away all the tiles -- even ones she may have started building into a wall (especially if she started building the wall before everybody was done turning tiles face-down or before everybody was done shuffling all the tiles).
    If you suspect someone of cheating, start keeping a record. Document the stats - the number of wins, the number of jokers. Not just for her but for everybody. For every hand. If she asks you why you're taking notes, tell her you're recording games, like they do in chess and bridge. Maybe say you're thinking of writing a column. Or maybe say you're in touch with a game expert who's collecting facts and figures on mah jongg. After collecting enough data, you may have evidence (if not proof) of cheating.
    If there's some other way of cheating, or if someone reading this has a pertinent story to share, I'd love to hear 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)
    June 23, 2009


    Found Taiwanese MJ download

    >From: peter lee
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 8:46 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom,
    >I found the twmj.exe mahjong.
    >It's at http://www.cis.nctu.edu.tw/~gis87508/
    >I don't believe you have this in your FAQ5.
    >Has anyone tried this? How does it compare with Four Winds?
    >Thank you,
    >Peter

    Thanks, Peter.
    I just added it to FAQ 5. In my experience, the fastest and best way to get a comparison is to do it yourself. Would be interested to hear your findings.
    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)
    June 23, 2009


    New variant? (part 4)

    From: "Jeff
    Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 6:58 AM
    Subject: Re: Mah Jong Reference
    > Thanks, I happened to log on and saw it. My wife now thinks that our
    > original Bahama Mama is too difficult and we may switch it to Ps(or Ks)
    > of R,G,W and P S and pr E. You are correct we did not ask nor post a
    > request to the bulletin board for their recommendation for a Bahama
    > Mama. I should look into the symbolism of the various tiles to see if
    > any of them are feminine, etc.
    > Jeff

    Hi Jeff,
    Symbolism is FAQ 18.
    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)
    June 23, 2009


    Can't find Taiwanese MJ download

    >From: peter
    >Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 4:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hello Tom,
    >Someone told me about a computer mah-jongg game (presumably Taiwanese
    >style), whose executable has the filename, twmj.exe. I would like to know how
    >this game compares with Four Winds. I searched the Internet for twmj.exe, but
    >couldn't find anything on it.
    >Do you know anything about it?
    >Thank you,
    >Peter

    Hi Peter,
    I was thinking maybe it was TUMJ but I don't think so (T stands for "The," not "Taiwanese"). I have a few Taiwanese programs listed in FAQ 5, above left. If you do find one I don't have listed, let me know and I'll list 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)
    June 22, 2009


    New variant? (part 3)

    From: "Jeff
    Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2009 9:35 AM
    Subject: Re: Mah Jong Reference
    > Hi Tom,
    > I have enclosed the basic hands (forgive any and all typos) with some
    > slight modifications from the list I was given. "Confused Gates" did not
    > mention a pair of simples and so I was very confused as there were only
    > 13 tiles. I don't know why "Jolly Roger" is not any Dragon pair. I think
    > it should be W &/or D in 'All Pairs'.
    >
    > I rather like this list perhaps because I am more familiar with it. I
    > don't remember a prohibition against a joker in either a chow or a pair,
    > but I may have simply glossed over that "Table Rule". In this system it
    > is almost impossible to play defensively, which is a prominent
    > weakness. There are still a few Strausser et al hands I am going to
    > include, in my 'house' version. I was going to ask for input on your
    > bulletin board for a hand which I to call a "Bahama Mama". My wife and I
    > have come up with a nice table rule hand: Concealed K's for RGW plus SE
    > (which is the prevailing wind in the area).
    >
    > I like your Q&A 14, but will have to buy your book if nothing else to
    > get the international tournament rules. I tried doing a search thru your
    > Q&As for the last two updatings without finding Little Robert. It was
    > mentioned as a prelude to a question, sort of "While I was trying to
    > make a Little Robert, ....... Something else happened", so it was not a
    > question about Little Robert per se. It is pretty obvious in reading
    > thru many of the questions that many people have the same "Can't find a
    > reference for the table rules" problem.
    > Have a Good day.
    > Jeff

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for sharing that. I'm making it available for download to any reader who wants it. To address some of the things you said, and perhaps to make some more points about your variant:

    "Confused Gates" did not
    > mention a pair of simples
    You fixed it correctly. The players in Mumbai call this "Gate Hand 1." You'll probably find it in some of the other Western/British literature* as well.

    I don't know why "Jolly Roger" is not any Dragon pair.
    I don't know. Red for bloody piracy? Green for stolen money?

    I think
    > it should be W &/or D in 'All Pairs'.
    I don't understand your description of that hand. I don't understand what your description is saying the hand has to contain. And if it's called "All Pairs," shouldn't it just be 7 pairs of anything? Most British/Western variants have numerous pairs hands. Looks like you're defining Clean Pairs (one suit, with winds/dragons) - which should be worth less than your Heavenly Twins (Pure Pairs).

    I
    > don't remember a prohibition against a joker in either a chow or a pair,
    I didn't mean to imply that there should be. The Indians have no such prohibition; the NMJL (not a British/Western variant) does. I was only commenting on the easiness of those particular hands if there was no such prohibition.

    I may have simply glossed over that "Table Rule".
    You cannot gloss over something that does not exist. The rules you play by are the rules you play by. I was talking about other rules entirely.

    In this system it
    > is almost impossible to play defensively, which is a prominent
    > weakness
    That system was created to accomplish a different purpose - ease of offense (ease of making a hand). It was created to enhance fun, not to make the game more challenging / difficult / strategic.

    I was going to ask for input on your
    > bulletin board for a hand which I to call a "Bahama Mama". My wife and I
    > have come up with a nice table rule hand: Concealed K's for RGW plus SE
    > (which is the prevailing wind in the area).
    I would have said, "what kind of input do you want," but you haven't yet asked me for my input. (^_^)

    I tried doing a search thru your
    > Q&As for the last two updatings without finding Little Robert. It was
    > mentioned as a prelude to a question, sort of "While I was trying to
    > make a Little Robert, ....... Something else happened"
    Sometimes I draw a picture of a hand a reader asks about, but looking just now I didn't see anything that looks like it. Until you wrote me, I'd never heard of "Little Robert" before. Looking just now through my copy of the list of Indian Army hands, I see they have one called "Mr. Roberts." A chow in each suit, a duplicate chow, and a pair in an unduplicated suit. Concealed, limit.

    The Indian Army game also has "Mr. Rogers" (or just "Rogers") which is not quite the same as your "Jolly Roger," but appears to be a distant relative of it.

    It is pretty obvious in reading
    > thru many of the questions that many people have the same "Can't find a
    > reference for the table rules" problem.
    A lot of people are unclear on the fact that table rules aren't documented unless you document them, yeah. (~_^)

    *The other books on Western/British Empire mah-jongg are (mostly in order from smallest to largest because that's how I had them stacked when I started the list):

  • Carkner
  • McKeithan (see expecially "Mah Jongg II: A Modified Form of Play with Jokers")
  • Pritchard (Teach Yourself)
  • Headley & Seeley
  • Thompson & Maloney
  • Glass
  • Strauser & Evans (& Sloper)

    All books are listed in FAQ 3, or should be. If they aren't, let me know and I'll fix.

    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)
    Summer Solstice, 2009


    You are wonderful!

    >From: "Facebook"
    >Sent: Sunday, June 21, 2009 2:10 PM
    >Subject: Dorothy [deleted] sent you a message on Facebook...
    >Dorothy sent you a message.
    >--------------------
    >Subject: You are wonderful!
    >I've learned so much about Mah jongg from your column. We've never met but I am a big fan!
    >Kind regards,
    >Dorothy [deleted]
    >--------------------
    >To reply to this message, follow the link below:
    >[deleted]

    Thanks, Dorothy.
    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)
    Summer Solstice, 2009


    It stands to reason that a player should be able to claim a discarded redeemable tile to redeem her own joker. Right???? (Frequently Asked Question 19G)

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2009 7:39 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: When someone discards a tile that could have been exchanged for a joker on another player’s exposure, can the person with that exposure call for that tile, expose it by exchanging the joker and replace the joker back on his sloped side of his rack? I know no one else can claim that tile because once a discarded tile is claimed, it must be used in an exposure. Therefore it stands to reason that the person w/the XXJX should be able to claim the X discarded and redeem his J to use at another time. Right???? Donna

    Nice try, Donna. (^_^)
    But no. The way you worded the rule is misleading you. If you got that wording from me, please tell me exactly where. I didn't see wording exactly like that in FAQ 19G (but I have amended it to clarify this), and I haven't found any such wording in my book that might have led you astray.

    Instead of "once a discarded tile is claimed, it must be used in an exposure," think of the rule as "once a discarded tile is claimed, it must be used to create a new exposure." That wording doesn't fully state the rule, but it ought to clarify for you how you've been misconstruing the rule.

    With very rare exceptions, when someone discards a redeemable tile, your only recourse is to scream "OH! I WANTED THAT!!!" Tearing your hair out while screaming that is optional.
    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)
    June 21, 2009


    Can I change the exposure before I discard? (FAQ 19AF), again

    >From: weeziejen
    >Sent: Saturday, June 20, 2009 6:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah JongQ&A
    >When I call for a tile and expose the tiles on my rack and realize I put an incorrect tile up, can I put it back in my rack without penalty before I make my discard?
    >Louise Claire

    Hi Louise Claire,
    "sbfmom" asked this question just yesterday. I guess you two must play together. Please scroll down and read the answer I gave her yesterday (immediately 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)
    June 20, 2009


    Can I change the exposure before I discard? (FAQ 19AF)

    >From: sbfmom
    >Sent: Friday, June 19, 2009 6:12 AM
    >Subject: question
    >I called a 4 crack from the discard,exposed (4) 4 cracks and before I discarded, realized I wanted to put a joker and (3) 4 cracks up. Can I switch one 4 crack for my joker and put the 4 crack back in my rack?

    Hi Mom!

    As it says in FAQ 19AF (above left), you can make changes to the exposure before you discard. After you've discarded, you can't make any changes to that exposure (joker redemption excepted).

    However, there's only one hand on the 2009 card you could possibly be working on, if you did this, and any discerning player would immediately know what you were doing.

    This is one of those hands that requires care in advance planning. "I must remember when 4C goes out that I have to keep one on the rack, and not let it be known with body language that I'm keeping one 4C in the hand." One solution is to set aside the "24" separately from the other 4C's.

    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)
    Juneteenth, 2009


    New variant? (part 2)

    From: "Jeff
    Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 9:44 PM
    Subject: Re: Mah Jong Reference
    > Tom,
    > Thanks for rapid reply. Big Robert is a Pung (or Kong) in each suit,
    > plus a Chow, plus a pair with no Winds or Dragons. Little Robert is a
    > Chow in each suit, plus a Pung and a pair with no Winds or Dragons. Each
    > can be exposed and counts half a limit. Obviously these are about as
    > easy a 'hand' as can be made especially with 8 Jokers. It probably is
    > detrimental to learning other hands as these are so common.
    >
    > The print out of these hand is in an Excell or spreadsheet format and
    > some details are dropped on my copy, so basically I am not 100% sure of
    > all of the hands. I guess it doesn't really matter what rules we play
    > by, as long as we all know what rules we actually are playing by, and
    > that is what I am trying to establish. Perhaps I am too compulsive and
    > my focus is wrong. "Enjoy the game without getting too technical.", may
    > well be the best attitude. When I asked the people who gave me their
    > copy, they did not have a reference.
    >
    > I am glad this topic is being posted on your bulletin board. One of the
    > posts already on that board refers to trying to make Little Robert, so
    > other posters may know the appropriate reference. Many of the hands are
    > identical to those described in Strauser & Evans (& Sloper) with the
    > same names. There are approximately 40 'special' hands listed. At a
    > glance, I think that Wright-Patterson has too many special hands.
    > Strauser, et al has about 50 which is not too bad. I actually rather
    > like the list as it has been presented, butttt...... As I am teaching
    > friends (or at least acquainting them with the game), it would be nice
    > if there was some degree of consistency or transportability when playing
    > someone new. I have run into the same problem with playing scrabble
    > especially with people from the UK.
    >
    > I will get ambitious and type in all the hands and their descriptions
    > and forward it to you. I suppose that it is not unreasonable to use
    > Bahamian hands in Freeport and Strausser et al elsewhere. If I cannot
    > find a reference, I may add those hands I like from Strausser and call
    > it the Jeff Modification of the Bahamian Western Subspecies or perhaps
    > if it becomes very, very popular, we will all call it the "Bahama Mama
    > Mah Jong" which has a certain degree of alliteration, but no other claim
    > to validity.
    > Jeff

    Hi Jeff, you wrote:

    Obviously these are about as
    > easy a 'hand' as can be made especially with 8 Jokers.
    No kidding! In American/NMJL, the easiest hands are the 4-pung 1-pair hands. And if in your game you can use a joker in a chow, wow! Can you also use jokers in pairs?

    It probably is
    > detrimental to learning other hands as these are so common.
    Interesting. We were just talking about "balance" on the reachmahjong forum. And see what I wrote about the mahjong wars of the 1920s in FAQ 11. You know, if these hands are a problem, you can solve it in a couple ways: eliminate those too-easy hands, modify those hands, or alter the joker rules. Or design even more very-easy hands.

    I guess it doesn't really matter what rules we play
    > by, as long as we all know what rules we actually are playing by,
    Well, that's the norm.

    and
    > that is what I am trying to establish. Perhaps I am too compulsive and
    > my focus is wrong.
    You play Freeport rules. You already told me that's what you play. I have no reason to doubt that. I'm not exactly certain what this wrong "focus" you're talking about might be...?

    "Enjoy the game without getting too technical.", may
    > well be the best attitude.
    Not necessarily. If your rules have holes in them, then problems can arise. See FAQ 9.

    When I asked the people who gave me their
    > copy, they did not have a reference.
    Yes, they did. They had a photocopied spreadsheet.

    One of the
    > posts already on that board refers to trying to make Little Robert
    It did??

    so
    > other posters may know the appropriate reference.
    I've never heard before of a special hand requiring chows in three suits (any numbers) and a pung and pair without honors. I suppose it's a logical enough pattern, but I don't recall having seen that one listed anywhere before. But then I've seen a lot and have a poor memory too...

    Many of the hands are
    > identical to those described in Strauser & Evans (& Sloper)
    (^_^) I wasn't sure if you had the latest edition.

    I think that Wright-Patterson has too many special hands.
    > Strauser, et al has about 50 which is not too bad.
    People who become acquainted with the different variants seem to agree that around 50 is the right number. Most folks freak out when they see that there are over 80 "fan" in MCR, but actually most of those fan are not hands - they're things that commonly earn points or doubles in other variants.

    As I am teaching
    > friends (or at least acquainting them with the game), it would be nice
    > if there was some degree of consistency or transportability when playing
    > someone new. I have run into the same problem with playing scrabble
    > especially with people from the UK.
    Yes, I'm with you. But people who learn mah jong have to learn to be flexible. When I teach, I always let the students know of the existence of other variants and of table rules within variants. In Japan, whenever someone comes to a different parlor, they have to first be told the rules in use there. It's kind of just the way it is with mah jong. In fact, it's kind of like that with Monopoly, too. Establish the house rules before starting. Have you read FAQ 14 yet?

    I will get ambitious and type in all the hands and their descriptions
    > and forward it to you.
    I'd appreciate that, thanks!

    I suppose that it is not unreasonable to use
    > Bahamian hands in Freeport and Strausser et al elsewhere.
    It is not unreasonable to use your Bahamian hands anywhere, as long as you provide the complete list to all the players and they agree to use them.

    If I cannot
    > find a reference
    I'm still trying to understand this point. You mean you're still expecting to find something in print that supports the custom Bahamian hands and rules? I've been doing this for 15 years, and this is the first I ever heard of it, so I don't think this is something you're likely to find.

    I may add those hands I like from Strausser and call
    > it the Jeff Modification of the Bahamian Western Subspecies
    Sure, why not. As long as all the players agree to play that way.

    or perhaps
    > if it becomes very, very popular, we will all call it the "Bahama Mama
    > Mah Jong"
    (^_^) Cute. I like it.

    which has a certain degree of alliteration, but no other claim
    > to validity.
    It's as valid as any other not-so-well-documented variation. All you have to do is document 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)
    June 17, 2009


    New variant?

    From: "Jeff
    Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 3:03 PM
    Subject: Mah Jong Reference
    > Dear Tom,
    > Thank you for providing a very informative website. I have been
    > introduced to a version of Mah Jong in Freeport, Grand Bahama that I
    > think is a form of Western Classical. They add 8 jokers, hold 13 tiles,
    > go out on 14 and have given me a barely legible sheet of 'Special'
    > Hands. I have purchased both Mah Jong Anyone and Wright Patterson Mah
    > Jong and neither includes some of the special hands used by that group.
    > In particular, Big Robert and Little Robert are included, but are not
    > mentioned in either of these references. Since I presume that they did
    > not invent these 'Special' Hands, I was wondering if you had a guess as
    > to what book they would be using as a reference. Please let me know if
    > you do.
    > Thanks for your time and for maintaining your expertise.
    > Jeff

    Hi Jeff,
    I imagine that your Freeport friends do not use any reference book. Most players learn the game secondhand and never bother with books.

    As for your hands Big Robert and Little Robert, there's no way for me to know what those hands are. People make up their own special hands, and even when they use hands that are used by others, often make up their own names for them. Several years back I tried to do an analysis of all the known Western hands, and Chinese hands too, to see what the "best" or most commonly used names were for each. I found that sometimes a name would be commonly used and yet the description of the hand would vary.

    I would appreciate knowing what the "Big Robert" and "Little Robert" hands are, if you care to send me descriptions.

    In my investigations into variations of the game, I often come across one that's only a little different from an already listed variation. I may not have developed my mah jong taxonomy as scientifically as some might wish, but when I find one that differs from another in a minor respect, I call it a subspecies of the already known species. (I use the term "species" only for lack of a better term; mah jong isn't biology.)

    The game described by Strauser & Evans is largely the same as the game described by Thompson & Maloney (and some other authors), the main difference between them being names of hands, or which hands are included. But Wright-Patterson has enough differences from the western game as described by those authors that I've categorized it as a separate variant, albeit one that's in the same family.

    So, if your Freeport finding is largely similar to the game described in Mah Jong Anyone, with the only difference being the 8 jokers and a few hands, I wouldn't necessarily classify it as a new variant. I might, but I'd need to know more about it.

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


    Frequently Asked Question #7R

    >From: GROP1 at aol
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 12:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I bought a Mah Jongg set and it doesn't have enough blank tiles for the 8 jokers. I am in need of a 3 layer tile.
    >Green bottom, pink middle, and white top.
    >I will need as many of these tiles as somebody can spare.
    >Please help me.
    >Marilyn

    Read FAQ 7r, Marilyn. The FAQs are above left. This is also posted on the Tiles Wanted bulletin board. May the tiles be with you. Literally.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    June 16, 2009


    What does "Any Three Suits" mean? - part 3

    >From: Judy
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 11:15 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi, Tom,
    > I did receive the email and I thank you for your answer. May the tiles be with us both.

    Oh good.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    June 16, 2009


    An obvious scammer

    >From: Alex Latorie
    >Email: latori_company1@yahoo.com
    >To: quinco at sticsdeco.com
    >Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 2:37 PM
    >Subject: Tiles order
    >Dear Sir,
    > Am Mr.Alex Latori and was informed you can help
    > me with a Glass mosaic tile and the color is FIORINA ROSA .Owing to this i will like you to get back to me with the price for a size 305 x 305mm or 400 x 400mm or and thickness:12mm Granite tile and the color is Baltic Brown .I will also like to know the forms of payment you do accept.Have a nice day and i want to hear from you as soon as possible.
    >Alex Latori

    Dear Alex,
    How's the weather there in Nigeria?
    So I guess you need some of those glass mosaic and granite tiles to play mahjong in the new scam call center you're building over there.
    The thing I wonder is how do you make an email that looks like it's addressed to someone else, yet have it show up in my email inbox? Not that I need to know; just curious how you even do that.
    May the tiles not 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)
    The Ides of June, 2009


    What does "Any Three Suits" mean? - part 2

    >From: Mel
    >Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 1:49 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: In both the 2008 and 2009 cards, the 6th hand under Winds – Dragons says “Any Three Suits’, does this really mean “Kong any Dragon”? I didn’t realize that I was uncertain until the other night when I picked a fourth white which would have given me mah jongg.

    Hello Mel,
    You asked this question about 3 weeks ago, and I answered it then. I emailed you to let you know where to find the answer. Did you not receive that email?
    Sometimes, for technical reasons I won't go into now, emails get re-sent automatically. I hope that's the case, and that you did already get your answer last May 27.
    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)
    The Ides of June, 2009


    Wright-Patterson, continued

    >From: Charles/Cordelia
    >Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 10:27:54 AM
    >Subject: Follow up on Wright-Patterson and 2 jokers
    >Hi Tom,
    >On may 17th I wrote to mention that in your book, "The Red Dragon & the West Wind" that you say Wright-Patterson uses 144 tiles and I wrote that actually we use 2 jokers (146 tiles.) You were right about the rule books NOT mentioning the use of 2 jokers-and I checked the new 2009 booklet with 102 hands. So I checked with my Mah Jongg maven. She learned as an Air Force Wife stationed at an Air Force base in Japan in late 60's early 70's. Many of them were teaching with 2 jokers as it became easier to teach the method using the 2 jokers. So there you are, right again-it is an unofficial practice to use 2 jokers. as you posted on your website.
    >Thanks
    >Cordelia

    Hi Cordelia, you wrote:

    I checked the new 2009 booklet
    It's always good to check! (^_^) And as I always say, it's always good to have a copy of the official rules to check.

    Many of them were teaching with 2 jokers as it became easier to teach the method using the 2 jokers.
    I don't think that's the real reason. I think the real reason for teaching it that way is either:
    That's the way the teacher was taught, or;
    That's the way the teacher likes to play.

    In fact, I think it's more difficult to teach with jokers, because now you have to explain all the joker rules. I think the real reason people use jokers is because they like to, because it makes the game easier (once you've learned all the rules). The NMJL has many joker rules, and even a casual scroll down through the Q's on this board will show that most of the confusion in the NMJL game comes from the joker rules. Since Wright-Pat rules don't govern the use of jokers, each group would have to make do with word-of-mouth, and per-table governance. But now I've gone off on a tangent.
    Thanks for writing, Cordelia! 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)
    June 12, 2009


    Any history or information you could provide about this set would be greatly appreciated

    >From: Tristan
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 5:32:16 PM
    >Subject: 1930's Mahjong set
    >Tom
    >I discovered your site tonight when looking for antique mahjong boxes.
    >I am currently in possession of what I believe is a Circa 1930's Mahjong set. Unfortunately I have been unable to track down any information relating to it on the Internet thus far.
    >I have photographed the set, which can be seen at http://gallery.zero-systems.net/thumbnails.php?album=14. The set is complete, and contains the following:
    >148 bone (bamboo backed) hand-painted & engraved tiles. Also included are 4 small dice (in their own separate wood box), 2 regular dice, and a number of scoring counters.
    >The tiles consist of 3 suites (Bamboo, Characters, and Spots), with 36 tiles in each suite (4 of each number). There are also 4 winds (North, South, East & West, 4 of each), 4 Season tiles (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter), 4 flowers, 4 green dragons, 4 red dragons, 4 white dragons (blank tiles), and 4 spare (blank) tiles.
    >The set itself was recently purchased by myself, and I have a little of the back story from it from the previous owner
    >The original owner, Mr. C____, was an officer in the Merchant Navy (pre war), and was seconded into the Royal Navy in 1943, so was probably bought it on one of his tours of duty in the far flung reaches of our pre-war empire. He and his wife moved to the same village as the previous owner's parents, who became friends in the 1960's. When Mr. C____ died, his wife gave the set to the previous owner's mother, probably as her father was also in the Merchant Navy.
    >The set was manufactured by:
    >'The Chun Wah Trading Co.' - 'The Mah Jong Manufacturers'
    >321 Rue Averue Joffler
    >Shanghai, China
    >Hong Kong branch: 31E, Wyndham St,
    >The only other identifying mark, is on the box itself, which reads: "Wushunsing"
    >Any history or information you could provide about this set would be greatly appreciated.
    >Regards
    >Tristan

    Hi Tristan, you wrote:

    Unfortunately I have been unable to track down any information relating to it on the Internet thus far.
    Did you look at Jim May's site? CHarli's? Links in FAQ 4a.

    I have photographed the set, which can be seen at http://
    I'm sorry, Tristan, but I don't follow links for you (that's not part of the free service I offer here). If you want me to look at your pictures, you have to email them to me so I can post them here on this board. Not too many, please - just the minimum number of pictures sufficient to show me what I need to see, in order to tell you what it is you want to know. See the instructions in FAQ 7h.

    Any history
    Never mind FAQ 7h, then. See the instructions in FAQ 7g.

    or information you could provide
    Read FAQ 7p. 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)
    June 10, 2009


    Hand of Man, part 2

    From: "Ginny
    Sent: Tuesday, June 09, 2009 11:08 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > Thanks so much for replying to my question so quickly. Our group (we
    > started about a year-and-a-half ago) plays American Mah Jongg. Our
    > rules books are 1) yours - "The Red Dragon and the West Wind"; and 2)
    > "A Beginner's Guide to American Mah Jongg" by Elaine Sandburg wth a
    > foreword by you. We also have a booklet that came with one of our
    > sets, but it is pretty basic. I have read both books more than once
    > as I have become the designated "teacher" for those wishing to learn
    > the game and join our group. We all find the game fascinating and
    > every time we play we learn a little more. There is only one person
    > in the group who has been playing for more than a year or so - she has
    > been playing for over 40 years and is just a whiz at it.
    > I will pass the information along to the rest of the group. I have a
    > feeling that this situation doesn't come up very often! I was pretty
    > shocked when it happened to me.
    > Thanks again. I will keep checking in on your website. I have a lot
    > to learn
    > Sincerely,
    > Ginny (Denver, Colorado)

    Hi Ginny,
    Thanks for the follow-up. That's awesome that you have two good books that both describe your kind of mah-jongg. I wish everybody had at least one book - it would save a lot of strife when those unusual situations come up. In this case, remember thing #4 that I said earlier. If you can't find it in the book, it's very likely not a 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)
    June 9, 2009


    Is "Hand of Man" really against the rules?

    From: "Ginny
    Sent: Tuesday, June 09, 2009 9:09 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I was lucky enough to be dealt an almost perfect hand. During the
    > first round of play, East discarded her first tile. The next player
    > discarded a red dragon which I needed to complete my hand. I called
    > the tile and declared "Mah-Jongg". The player who discarded the tile
    > said that you cannot declare "Mah-Jongg" during the first round of
    > play. Is this true? The other players in the room checked our two
    > rules books, and could not find it noted in either book.
    > Thanks for considering my question...Ginny [deleted] (Denver COlorado)

    Hi Ginny,
    Wow, don't you love people who declare that everything is "against the rules" if they've just never seen it happen before, or it isn't to their liking? I wrote about people like that in my column #387 (you can access the weekly columns by clicking the purple banner above).
    Winning on the second or third discard of a hand is called "The Hand of Man." (Winning on the original deal, as dealer, is "Heavenly Hand" and winning on the dealer's first discard is called "Earthly Hand.")
    It's perfectly legal to declare a win when somebody discards the tile you need to win. How bizarre would it be to have a rule that says you couldn't do that if it happens on the second or third discard? What could the justification of such a rule possibly be?
    When you can't find a rule in your books, it usually means there is no such rule.
    So. Usually I ask this first, but in this case I didn't need to. Which of the forty-plus varieties of mah-jongg do you play? You never said.
    I'm impressed that you have two rulebooks! Good for you. Which rulebooks do you have? I'd really appreciate it if you'd tell me their authors (the authors' names make it easier to identify than the book titles, but if the author names aren't given, then describe the books and tell me the titles).
    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)
    June 9, 2009


    Change of address - and thanks and new info

    >From: Robert Franke
    >Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 6:12 PM
    >Subject: players wanted correction
    >Hi Tom,
    >I placed an ad for "players wanted" on March 6 th of this year. My email address has changed. rfranke22@verizon.net is my new address.
    >Thanks Tom, you know my friends and I always talk about making a pilgrimage to "Sloperland" where we can sit at the feet of the guru and learn the ancient ways of Taiwan Mah Jong,
    >FYI The Wright Patterson ladies issued new rules and hands books about a month or two ago. I have them and my wife and I play two handed (hey at least I get play more Mah Jongg).
    >Cheers and best regards,
    >Rob Franke

    Hi Robert,
    Okay, I'm updating the email address on the findplayers board.
    I always look forward to meeting my Internet mah-jongg friends. And wow, thanks for the news on Wright-Pat. I'll order new books right away. In checking on them, I discovered that their website has changed. I'm posting the new info in FAQ 4a, 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)
    June 2, 2009


    She mistakenly discarded "same" during "hot wall" and it cost me $2.50!

    >From: Shirley
    >Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 12:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I discarded a flower and then the player on my right said "same' but she mistakenly discarded a joker..A third player decided she wanted the flower for MaJ....there was a lot of discussion as to who should pay ....me? or the player who discarded the joker by error during a 'hot' wall?
    >This cost me $2.50 but I really feel the player next to me who discarded a joker by error should pay. Thank you for your help in solving this problem.
    >s.
    >Phila., Pa.

    Hi Shirley,
    Several things.

    It is proper to discard jokers.
    It is proper to say "same" when discarding a joker.
    When someone discards a joker, that joker is dead and cannot be taken.
    When someone discards a joker and says "same," the previously discarded tile also is dead and cannot be taken. Read FAQ 19G.
    If a player wants a flower for mah jongg and didn't have time to say so after you discarded one, then I have to assume your group is playing too quickly. It's important that each player have a couple of seconds to claim a discard. It's very aggressive and unfriendly if players are picking and racking so fast that a player doesn't have time to claim a tile for mah jongg. Read FAQ 19AD.
    If your group uses custom rules that forbid discarding jokers when the wall becomes a certain length, then your group has to figure out all the ramifications of those custom rules. I can't help you if you run into problems due to some rules that your group has made up. I can only help you sort out ruling questions if you play by the official rules. Read FAQs 19Y & 14.

    The FAQs are above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's indicated by a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it. Please bookmark the page for your future reference.

    As for the $2.50, I think you'll have to chalk that up as the cost of learning. It's been paid. You can't go back now and ask for it back.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    June 8, 2009


    Dead wall in Japanese riichi/dora majan

    >From: Ian M
    >Sent: Saturday, June 6, 2009 10:36:40 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom,
    >In Riichi, most rules I have read indicate that upon calling kan, a
    >tile is drawn from the back of the dead wall and the resulting void is
    >_replenished_ from the back of the live wall (maintaining a dead wall
    >of 14 tiles). Most games I have observed (e.g. matches on youtube,
    >tenhou) do _not_ do this. The tiles are not replenished and at the
    >end of the game the dead wall has fewer than 14 tiles.
    >This poses two questions:
    >In your experiences playing in Japan, which is more common and/or correct?
    >If you're not replenishing and four tiles are pulled from the dead
    >wall, where would the fifth tile come from (since the fifth would be
    >the dora indicator)?
    >I have also noticed that in championship matches (youtube), when they
    >flip the dora indicator on the dead wall, they move the last tile on
    >the dead wall onto the table (resulting in two single tiles leading
    >from the tail of the dead wall). What is the purpose of this? I can
    >only assume it has some relation to my previous question. I've
    >noticed that some people do this and some do not.
    >Thank you very much!
    >Ian

    Konnichiwa, Ian, You asked:

    which is more common and/or correct?
    Replenish. The game stops when exactly 14 tiles remain unused in the wall.

    they move the last tile on
    >the dead wall onto the table (resulting in two single tiles leading
    >from the tail of the dead wall). What is the purpose of this?
    It's a visual cue that makes it obvious which end of the wall is the back end. If you accidentally reach for the wrong end, it will look obviously wrong -- your hand will hesitate and your brain will go "aha! Wrong end of the wall."

    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)
    June 6, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question #7R

    >From: Gail
    >Email: beng2cfl.rr.com
    >Sent: Friday, June 05, 2009 12:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I need 8 joker tiles to make my set complete. It was purchased in China in 1980
    >The tiles measure 1/14in lg. x 1in wd. x5/8in dp. color, light ivory plastic .
    >Where can I buy them? Thank you !

    Hello Gail,
    Read FAQ 7R. The FAQ links are above left.
    May the tiles be with you. Literally! (^_^)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    June 5, 2009


    Calling oneself dead

    >From: (Lana) looky.lou
    >Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2009 11:03:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom:
    >This has happened a couple of times: Someone at a table (playing American mah jongg) declares they have either 12 tiles or 14 tiles. They blurt out that they are "dead." Because of that announcement another player immediately calls them "dead." I know you cannot declare yourself "dead" -- another player must do that.
    >Shouldn't any player who finds out that they are "dead" strategically say nothing and continue playing and picking tiles that would otherwise go to the other three players -- thus thwarting any possible mah jonggs?
    >It is perfectly legal to be "dead" and just keep your mouth shut and keep playing, isn't it?
    >And, yes, I did check FAQ19 first. And...I have read your book, including the changes. You never expounded on that particular "devious" strategy (that I could find) so that's why I'm asking.
    >By the way, this has situation has presented itself during Chinese mah jongg, also.
    >Lana

    Hi Lana, you wrote:

    I know you cannot declare yourself "dead" -- another player must do that.
    >Shouldn't any player who finds out that they are "dead" strategically say nothing and continue playing
    You are correct about both the rule and the strategy. But in my opinion, the rule is unenforceable and therefore should not even exist. The League says you "cannot" declare yourself dead. But all that really means is that calling yourself dead does not mean you have to stop playing. There is no penalty for calling yourself dead -- what could anybody do -- make you stop playing? (^_^) And strategies are never enforceable. If you think there's a problem here, I'm not seeing what it is.

    It is perfectly legal to be "dead" and just keep your mouth shut and keep playing, isn't it?
    Obviously!!!

    yes, I did check FAQ19 first.
    You mean FAQ 19AC. I just looked at it again, and I think it's worded very clearly.

    I have read your book
    You mean p. 64 (rule 105) and p. 101 of my book. I think it's explained pretty clearly in there.

    You never expounded on that particular "devious" strategy
    What strategy? I am not following you. In fact, I've just decided that I do not know what your question is. Let's start over, shall we? What's your question for me? (^_^)

    this ... situation has presented itself during Chinese mah jongg, also.
    That needs some explanation. There is no dead rule, or unenforceable prohibition against calling oneself dead, in Chinese mah jongg. Do you have a question about Chinese mah jongg too? If so, make sure you're specific as to which Chinese rules you're talking about (I can't just assume that you're talking about Mahjong Competition Rules, those described in 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)
    June 4, 2009


    Mystery mahjong set, part 2

    >From: Ian S
    >Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2009 2:54:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I'm sure you would agree, broadly speaking the following:
    >>Mahjong sets fall into the following categories
    >>Japanese sets - size approx 1 in tall as per your pages
    >>Cheap sets solid plastic, sometimes backed with plastic
    >>no arabic indices
    >>Dearer sets bone/bamboo
    >>older ones always have flowers/seasons; more sets coming with blanks and only four seasons instead now since the japanese standard rules have dropped them (the four seasons being there only for the traditional throwing away)
    > No, I don't agree. The plethora of set types and configurations is not as simple as you suggest; see FAQs 7b, 7e, & 11e.
    >
    >Yes but exports of the other mahjong varieties are extremely rare, generally not stocked by shops and only available online. I was not trying to suggest that they where the only forms of mahjong but that these four major versions are the typical sets that anyone would come across outside the country of origin.
    >
    > Hong Kong sets
    >>largest of the sets
    > Vietnamese tiles are larger.
    >
    >I meant out of the four commonly used sets across the world. Viet and other sets have only recently become available outside the coutry of origin. The only Vietnamese set I've come across is stocked by YMimports and uses standard American sized tiles.
    >
    > included book was the standard japanese ruleset with riichi etc (as opposed to riichi/reach mahjong).
    > I'm sorry, but I don't follow. I would like to, though!
    >
    >I've only really started on Riichi mahjong in the last couple of months. Riichi/Reach Mahjong used to be a rather underground movement taking the Japanese Mahjong Association rules as a base but adding a set of rules that were popular amoungst the Japanese Mahjong playing public.
    >Riichi or Reach Mahjong differs from the regular Japanese rules by formalising certain unofficial rules as either a key component or an official Reach optional rule. Major differences include:
    >* akadora or kuitan/kuikae (optional)
    >'red lucky tiles' aka red fives. .... If the winner holds a set of one or more specially marked red fives (see my second picture from the ymimports riichi set)
    >* kandora (key component)
    >'quad lucky tile' ..... Once a kan is declared, the player takes a tile from the kong box from dead end of the wall and turns over another dora tile from the kong box (towards the live end). These kan-dora indicators work as per the japanese dora indicator tiles.
    >* uradora (optional)
    >'under dora' ....... The winner takes a look at the tiles under the dora tiles (incl the kan-dora tiles) to see if they match
    >* barenchan 8 consecutive wins for the dealer scoes a limit
    >
    > You will also see in the background of one of the pictures a chinese ruleset rulebook that was commonly added by a UK distributor of sets to imported items as the rulebooks rarely came with the sets and so a common chinese rules book (I have seen this rulebook in several 1970s/1980s sets from different manufacturers)
    > Yes, there are several such instruction booklets. I have no idea when any of them was written or by whom. The booklets are packaged in all manner of sets and often do not help in understanding what company the set was made by. I suppose if I had the time to devote to doing some detective work, I might be able to figure some of that stuff out.
    >
    >Certainly in the UK distributors imported these style english instruction books in bulk and stuffed them inside whichever manufacturers where supplying them. Certainly the pink instruction book in the first picture was in the vast majority of sets in the UK during the seventies and early eighties
    >
    > From my understanding the Japanese only export 'pure' sets ...
    > Sorry, you lost me again. What does "pure" mean?
    >
    >Sorry, this term is one I have picked up from a number of online stockists across europe and asia. I don't know if it is an official term but it is in common use.
    >The term pure is used by a lot of wholesalers and stores to indicate the abscence of arabic indices and labels for the tiles.
    >Good examples of this are:
    >* Japanese sets who do not (except in rare cases as seen in this tileset) add arabic indices to their tiles (I believe it is both against the manufacturers practice and the Japanese mahjong associations specifications)
    >* Chinese sets that are made for internal chinese use
    >* Vietnamese sets (e.g. http://www.ymimports.com/p-198-vietnamese-160-tiles-mahjong-set.aspx)
    >
    > so this must be quite a rare set?
    > No, not at all. I have several such sets, and I see them offered for sale all the time. Sometimes on eBay and sometimes even in stores, new.
    >
    >I did not mean monetary but within the plethora of sets available to the modern buyer. They may be more common over in the states but they certainly are unusual in the UK and you don't come across them very often over here even on ebay (probably due to the decline of Mahjong in the UK over the last 30 years ... with the advent of four TV channels in the eighties [I'm sure all your American readers thought "How Quaint"] followed by satellite TV and the rise of the personal computers boardgames and traditional games don't really get played by anybody over 8 in any kind of volume)
    >It's certainly interesting to find out that the Japanese exported sets with arabic indices
    >Thanks v.much

    Hi Ian, you wrote:

    these four major versions are the typical sets that anyone would come across outside the country of origin.
    Please understand that I live in California. The four major types of sets one can find in shops here are:
    Chinese (without jokers or racks) - with or without indices, in a variety of sizes. Usually plastic - fishbone and bamboo sets also sometimes found.
    Japanese - usually without indices, in a variety of price ranges. Always plastic. The bamboo-backed type you started with, with indices, is sometimes found in Chinese outlets.
    Vietnamese - without indices, with varying numbers of special jokers - always plastic.
    American - with jokers and racks - always plastic.

    What's "typical" to find in shops here on the west coast probably differs from what would be typical to find in shops in other parts of this country. And what's typical to find here in this country probably differs from what would be typical to find in shops in your country (especially given what you said about table games later in your latest email). And what's typical to find in shops differs greatly from what's typical to find in online mahjong stores. Typically, the best place to shop is the Internet. Even American sets are hard to find in regular brick and mortar shops. Does that make them rare? I don't think so.

    Riichi or Reach Mahjong differs from the regular Japanese rules by formalising certain unofficial rules as either a key component or an official Reach optional rule
    Thanks for the clarification of the rule differences. My confusion results from my long familiarity of the "regular Japanese rules" as you call them -- I've always called those rules riichi/dora majan (as opposed to "Japanese Classical," which was very similar to Chinese Classical but had a riichi rule).
    Japanese Classical rules included riichi. The rules you call "regular Japanese" includes riichi. Thus I think a clearer more-differentiating nomenclature is needed. By "Riichi or Reach Mahjong" are you referring to a rule set embraced by Jenn Barr? Because she's the originator of the "reach" spelling.

    Certainly in the UK distributors imported these style english instruction books in bulk and stuffed them inside whichever manufacturers where supplying them.
    I'm just not convinced that it was distributors who did that. Why couldn't it be the manufacturers who put those in the sets?

    Certainly the pink instruction book in the first picture was in the vast majority of sets in the UK during the seventies and early eighties
    Yes, here in the US too.

    I did not mean monetary [rarity] but [rarity] within the plethora of sets available to the modern buyer.
    So did I. We weren't talking at cross-purposes. Not sure how I gave the impression that we were. That said, as I mentioned above, what's "typical" is subject to debate depending on one's region and whether or not one is including the Internet.

    boardgames and traditional games don't really get played by anybody over 8 in any kind of volume [in the UK]
    I see. That's probably why we don't get many British players at international events, then. It was a mystery among the European community. In my travels, I've noted that table games are hugely popular in Europe and in China. Only moderately so here in America. In Seoul, I saw that game clubs (where people gather to play multi-player PC games) there were board games and tables available. Interesting to know this about the UK. Thanks!

    Cheers!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    June 4, 2009


    Mystery mahjong set

    >From: Ian S
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 11:29 AM
    >Subject: Here's an mahjong oddity
    >Tom
    >I have been playing mahjong for around 30 years - mainly chinese and more recently riichi.
    >I'm sure you would agree, broadly speaking the following:
    >Mahjong sets fall into the following categories
    >Japanese sets - size approx 1 in tall as per your pages
    >Cheap sets solid plastic, sometimes backed with plastic
    >no arabic indices
    >Dearer sets bone/bamboo
    >older ones always have flowers/seasons; more sets coming with blanks and only four seasons instead now since the japanese standard rules have dropped them (the four seasons being there only for the traditional throwing away)
    >Hong Kong sets
    >largest of the sets
    >export sets have arabic indices, local sets none
    >tend to be plastic
    >Chinese sets
    >larger than japanese sets but smaller than HK
    >export sets have arabic indices, local sets none
    >Cheap sets solid plastic, sometimes backed with plastic
    >Dearer sets bone/bamboo
    >older ones always have flowers/seasons; more sets coming with blanks instead now since the new standard rules have dropped them
    >American Sets
    >more tiles, different styles of dragons, and really any shape/colour you could imagine practical
    >I recently picked up a set on ebay thinking it was a typical 1970s-1980s chinese set .... I was looking for a cheap bamboo backed set in mint condition. But when it was delivered I was shocked to find the following:
    >Tiles were standard japanese size
    >(in fact only about 1mm smaller than YMImports and mah-jong-shop.com which is manufactured by Super King http://www.super-king.net/show.asp?id=718)
    >included scoring sheet uses standard japanese scoring rules
    >included book was the standard japanese ruleset with riichi etc (as opposed to riichi/reach mahjong).
    >The book does not have any isbn or similar library cataloging system numbering or a copyright page which would suggest that it was intended to be included in the set and not for separate sale.
    >The book clearly shows both the tiles from the set and the set itself in clear photos throughout the book (English language "Mah Jong Handbook for Beginners", Futami Kogeisha, Tokyo, Japan).
    >So far so good it appears I got a good quality japanese set (yeah! decent set!)
    ><<<pictures attached ...... with some black pieces from the YMImport/Super King Riichi set for comparison. >>>
    >You will also see in the background of one of the pictures a chinese ruleset rulebook that was commonly added by a UK distributor of sets to imported items as the rulebooks rarely came with the sets and so a common chinese rules book (I have seen this rulebook in several 1970s/1980s sets from different manufacturers) was added despite the contents of the set and so I feel I can safely ignore this book as either an importer addition or a book from another set by the owner.
    >The odd thing is the tiles have arabic indices and english words for dragons. flowers & seasons. This is also shown on the pictures in the book.
    >Googling around I have found four other entries for the same set on google (one quoting 1961 as the date for the set). Apparently, the set was available for sale in the 1970s in the UK according to one owner
    >It appears that I have blundered across a Japanese set designed for export back in the 1960/1970s ..... would you agree?
    >From my understanding the Japanese only export 'pure' sets ... so this must be quite a rare set? (I'm guessing I would have come across more over the last 30 years being one for hanging around gaming shops over the years looking for Asian games).
    >Ian

    Hi Ian,
    I have several sets like this in my collection. Judging by the manual, yes -- it is of Japanese origin. I have some similar-looking sets that might have been made in Korea, if not Japan. The timeframe does sound about right. To address other things from your email:

    I'm sure you would agree, broadly speaking the following:
    >Mahjong sets fall into the following categories
    >Japanese sets - size approx 1 in tall as per your pages
    >Cheap sets solid plastic, sometimes backed with plastic
    >no arabic indices
    >Dearer sets bone/bamboo
    >older ones always have flowers/seasons; more sets coming with blanks and only four seasons instead now since the japanese standard rules have dropped them (the four seasons being there only for the traditional throwing away)
    No, I don't agree. The plethora of set types and configurations is not as simple as you suggest; see FAQs 7b, 7e, & 11e.

    Hong Kong sets
    >largest of the sets
    Vietnamese tiles are larger.

    included book was the standard japanese ruleset with riichi etc (as opposed to riichi/reach mahjong).
    I'm sorry, but I don't follow. I would like to, though!

    You will also see in the background of one of the pictures a chinese ruleset rulebook that was commonly added by a UK distributor of sets to imported items as the rulebooks rarely came with the sets and so a common chinese rules book (I have seen this rulebook in several 1970s/1980s sets from different manufacturers)
    Yes, there are several such instruction booklets. I have no idea when any of them was written or by whom. The booklets are packaged in all manner of sets and often do not help in understanding what company the set was made by. I suppose if I had the time to devote to doing some detective work, I might be able to figure some of that stuff out.

    From my understanding the Japanese only export 'pure' sets ...
    Sorry, you lost me again. What does "pure" mean?

    so this must be quite a rare set?
    No, not at all. I have several such sets, and I see them offered for sale all the time. Sometimes on eBay and sometimes even in stores, new.

    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)
    June 3, 2009


    She made two exposures in one turn

    >From: Tom & Dorothy
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 03, 2009 9:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Under Winds and Dragons #3
    >The played called for a 3 dot, then proceeded to expose two pungs (two 3-dots and a joker, and another two 3-dots and a joker). Being the player exposed two sets at the same time, I questioned the fact that it is an invalid exposure.
    >Would the player then be called dead and those two exposures be put back onto the slanted part of her rack?
    >Pollack in Grand

    Hello Tom, Hello Dorothy.
    No, a player cannot be called dead simply because you raise a question.
    But a player can be called dead if she does something illegal. Like make two exposures in one turn, then discard a tile.
    If she puts up two exposures and somebody says, "you can't do that," then she should put one back. In a friendly home game, provided she puts it back prior to discarding, she shouldn't be called dead (in my opinion). But in a tournament, it would be up to the judge to determine whether or not she should be permitted to put one back, assuming she hasn't yet discarded.
    But if she puts up two exposures and then discards, regardless of whether it's a friendly home game or a tournament, she is dead, and both exposures should go back on the sloping front of the rack.
    Very unusual question. Thanks, Tom & Dorothy!
    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)
    June 3, 2009


    Heavenly hand, part 4

    >From: klstermer
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 7:53:03 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom,
    >Thanks for believing me about my verbal answer from NMJL regarding exception for East to call Mah Jongg
    >before First Charleston begins. I called them back and asked if the info could be put in writing or on the website.
    >The response was for me to send them a self-addressed stamped envelope and their reply could be shared with
    >others non-believers. Since they won't publish this info I will send you a copy if you need it.
    >Kathleen

    Hi Kathleen, you wrote:
    The response was for me to send them a self-addressed stamped envelope and their reply could be shared
    Yes, that was the point I was making in the tirade I wrote to Ellen on April 30, entitled "Can I do two questions? (part 2)," below. It even says on the back of the card that you should send an SASE when asking for rulings.
    Thanks for getting back to me on that!
    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)
    June 3, 2009


    Riichi

    >From: Per J
    >Sent: Wednesday, June 3, 2009 4:12:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In riichi mahjong, is it ok to declare riichi with a "Seven pair" or "Thirteen orphans" waiting hand?
    >I'm trying to understand the rules at mahjong-europe.org/filer/riichirules.pdf and from what I can see it should be ok, but you never know with riichi! :)
    >Best regards
    >Per J

    Hi Per,
    There's no rule against it. Is there something in particular that made you ask this?
    Although there's no rule against it, there's no particular benefit in it either. Consider:
    With a chii toitsu (seven pairs) hand, if you declare riichi you lose all flexibility. If you don't declare riichi, you can switch your wait at any time. A tile you pick might be a hot discard, and your other single might be a safer discard.
    With kokushimusou (13 orphans), declaring riichi has no benefit. You can't score yakuman plus 1 fan. And again, if you already have your pair, declaring riichi loses flexibility -- you might draw another duplicate, and it might not be the safest discard.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    June 3, 2009


    Heavenly hand again, again

    >From: klstermer
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 9:50:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom - I do not play with or know Sun City Sue. However, I did read your Q& A on Heavenly Hand before send my question.
    >Perhaps I wasn't clear with my question but I was referring to East being dealt a Mah Jongg Hand before the First Charleston
    >has begun. I called the NMJL because all our players are using American Rules Book so the information should be the same.
    >The NMJL said this is the "only" exception to the not having to play the First Charleston.
    >Is your FAQ 10: Simplified Rules for Mah Jongg only pertaining to Chinese Mah Jongg?

    Hello kl, you wrote:

    I did read your Q& A on Heavenly Hand before send my question.
    I sure wish I'd had a clue before I wrote my answer.

    Perhaps I wasn't clear with my question but I was referring to East being dealt a Mah Jongg Hand before the First Charleston
    I was clear on that part (since you did mention that).

    I called the NMJL because all our players are using American Rules Book so the information should be the same.
    >The NMJL said this is the "only" exception to the not having to play the First Charleston.
    Thanks for saving that bomb for last. Wow, do I look dumb now! But you see, that's one of those rules that you'd think the NMJL would've seen fit to, like, mention in print somewhere...? Anyway. Too bad you couldn't have gotten that in writing (see the tirade I wrote to Ellen on April 30, entitled "Can I do two questions? (part 2)," below) . But since it would be so ridiculous for the League not to recognize a Heavenly Hand, I believe you that they do, in fact, recognize it. And I'll add that factoid to my storehouse of knowledge.

    Is your FAQ 10: Simplified Rules for Mah Jongg only pertaining to Chinese Mah Jongg?
    It pertains to all un-American forms that use 13 tiles, winning on 14 tiles. After mastering the basics in FAQ 10, one can then go on and learn the details, scoring, and strategy of any un-American variant that uses 13 tiles (and wins on 14 tiles). Why do you ask? Have you looked at FAQ 2b? Are you thinking about learning an un-American variant?

    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)
    June 2, 2009


    Heavenly Hand again

    >From: klstermer
    >Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 6:25 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If East has miraculously been dealt a Mah Jongg, does the first Charleston have to be passed or can East declare Mah Jongg immediately? My rules book that came with my set said this is the only exception to the Charleston but some books say the first Charleston is mandatory for all games.
    >Please clarify. Thank you, Kathleen

    Kathleen,
    This question was asked and answered just the day before yesterday. Please scroll down and see the answer I gave Sun City Sue. I can't help but wonder if maybe you play with her (very unusual to get this question twice in such rapid succession)...?
    Heavenly Hand is recognized by all forms of mah-jongg EXCEPT American. If you play by the book that came with your set, then that's one thing. If you play by some other book, then that's another. But if you play American/NMJL rules, then you should not be looking at books that describe other forms of mah-jongg.
    Unless you know for sure that all your books describe the same mah-jongg variant, you should not be using them. It'll just confuse you. Read FAQs 1, 2, & 3. 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)
    June 1, 2009


    Automatic table video on YouTube

    >From: Maureen
    >To: Tom, ...
    >Sent: Sunday, May 31, 2009 6:16 PM
    >Subject: Fw: YouTube - Automatic Mah Jong Table
    >Thought you'dget alaugh out of this
    >----- Original Message -----
    >From: Barbara
    >To: Maureen, ...
    >Sent: Saturday, May 30, 2009 5:54 PM
    >Subject: YouTube - Automatic Mah Jong Table
    > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffheXp2oi4E

    Thanks, Maureen,
    Maybe some readers will get a laugh out of 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)
    May 31, 2009


    how to do the calculating , part 3

    >From: clifford
    >Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 12:34 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hello Tom
    > I am beginning to feel like we are old friends
    > Yes you did tell me something helpful, you informed me that more than one kind of MJ is being played out there.
    >I'm returning to MJ after a very long time away from it, in my ignorance I made the assumption that based on no knowledge that only national MJ is played.
    >I had gone to the computer to for information & all it kept telling me was the skill & to calculate, I could not remember ever having to calculate before, so I thought I would try to find out & that is how I found you.
    >I had assumed again incorrectly that calculating had meant, that after partly exposed hand one should know the hand being played, in that sense.
    >Now about the best hand to play: I fully realize that it depends on the tiles in hand.
    >I have played many different games that have set hands, I have found that some hands seem easier to obtain, there in was my question.
    > Thanks again I hope you don't mind me calling you Tom
    > Vivien

    And I hope you don't mind me calling you Vivien, Vivien.
    Now I understand your question. You were reading about un-American mah-jongg variants. Since you now know that you play American mah-jongg, you can ignore all the stuff you were reading about those other variants.
    As for your other question, there is one hand on the card that is always reliable. I talk about it all the time in my weekly strategy column (click the purple banner atop this page to access the column). It's the 2nd hand in Consecutive Runs. Every year, it's a 2-pung, 2-kong, 2-suit hand. It has no pairs, that's what makes it reliable.
    Usually there are also other hands on the card that are similarly structured. There are two in 2468 (see #s 4 and 5) and there's one in 369 (the 2nd hand). There's usually one in 13579, but this year there isn't.
    I once played with a man who always played Consec. #2. He had identified that as the only hand he was comfortable with, and he won with it several times.
    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)
    May 31, 2009


    Heavenly hand

    >From: Sue
    >Sent: Saturday, May 30, 2009 6:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How soon can a person claim Mah Jongg?
    >During the charleston one of the players that was east annonuced that she had Mah Jongg. We were still passing tiles and had not even completed the first charleston.
    >SunCitySue

    Hi Sue, nice to hear from you again.
    The National Mah Jongg League rules do not recognize a "heavenly hand." The rules are very clear on this: the first two passes of the Charleston are mandatory. She can blind pass on the third pass, then hope she gets her mahj tile back again in the courtesy or after play begins.
    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)
    May 30, 2009


    how to do the calculating , part 2

    >From: clifford c s
    >Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 2:43 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Dear Sir
    > I thank you for your answer to my questions.
    > I must comment on some of the answers you have used, some I got a kick out of, some I thought you a little rude.
    > Some of the question I must say really are dumb, so keep your chin up on those dumb ones, as you never know what has prompted the question.
    > I thank you again Vivien S

    Well, Vivien,
    I don't know what you're thanking me for -- I didn't tell you anything particularly useful (since I didn't have enough information from you).
    I won't dispute that I've sometimes been rude - but I hope I wasn't rude to you. When I saw that there was a new email from you, before I opened it, I was thinking "oh good, she's back, so now we can see what her question is and answer it for her." But I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to help 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)
    May 30, 2009


    how to do the calculating , I have never heard about it before.

    >From: clifford c s
    >Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 6:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:the best hands to play.
    > how to do the calculating , I have never heard about it before.
    > Thank you for your help.
    > Vivien S

    Hello Vivien, you asked:

    Q: [what are] the best hands to play.
    A: The ones your tiles are most suited for.

    Q: how to do the calculating
    A: I assume you mean how to calculate scores when you've won a hand? It depends. Which kind of mah-jongg do you play? If you use a blue and red card from the National Mah Jongg League, you play American rules. If you don't use the card, then you need to tell me more about which kind of mah-jongg you play. Can't help you if I don't know which mah-jongg we're talking about! I'd love to help you, but the ball's back in your court now.

    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)
    May 29, 2009


    Proper spelling of the game's name?

    >From: Jason
    >Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 10:04 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong vs. Mahjongg question
    >Many people here in Georgia who play, have fierce discussions on which is the “correct” spelling for the game, if there is such a thing. It has been suggested that Babcock’s version of Ma que, was an adapted form of the traditional game and he took and trademarked the Mah-jongg name. I would argue that Babcock’s version of the game morphed into the more American styles of play i.e. Wright-Patterson, American League. Therefore American players would spell it Mahjongg with 2 G’s and Chinese/Cantonese/HK players would spell it Mahjong with 1 G. Can you shed any light on this and help our “discussions”. LOL.
    >Jason

    Hi, Jason!
    Not an easy question. See what I wrote in FAQs 11, 6, & 18, please. And see what "domino32" says (site is listed in FAQ 4b), which is dead opposite of what you've said.

    For the longest time I held to the strict Babcock spelling, but then I found that people weren't finding my website, because they were putting different spellings into their searches. Now I use every spelling I can, in as many places as I can all over my website, in order to make my site easier to find.

    Below you'll see that I use a variety of spellings, depending on how the asker spells it and depending on which variant is being discussed. My European friends insist on the spelling "mahjong," just as do my Japanese friends. My Chinese friends call it either "majiang" or "mahjong." Americans call it "mah jongg" when they aren't confused and call it "mahj jongg" or "majhongg" or "majohngg" out of an incertainty where the H the H should go.
    LOL, as you say.
    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)
    May 29, 2009


    She forgot to take her 13th tile; what now?

    >From: Jeanne
    >Sent: Thursday, May 28, 2009 1:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Q+A
    >In our game today, the deal, both charlestons, and optional passes were completed when the player to left of east realized she did not take her 13th tile from the wall. East had not yet discarded to begin the game....can she pick up her 13th tile or is she dead?
    >Jeanne

    Hi Jeanne,
    Take a look in your copy of "Mah Jongg Made Easy," the official rulebook of the National Mah Jongg League, on page 18.
    If this player is the player at the dealer's left (in other words, the last player to take the final tile before the Charleston began), then at this moment, before the dealer discards, she is permitted to take the tile from the end of the wall. If she's any other player, she's dead.
    This rule is also stated in my book, on page 60.
    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)
    May 27, 2009


    What does "Any Three Suits" mean? (FAQs 19J & 19AJ)

    >From: Mel
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 7:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: In both the 2008 and 2009 cards, the 6th hand under Winds – Dragons says “Any Three Suits’, does this really mean “Kong any Dragon”? I didn’t realize that I was uncertain until the other night when I picked a fourth white which would have given me mah jongg.

    Hi Mel,
    I discuss how the color-coding works, and what "any" means, in FAQ 19. The color-coding is also explained on the back of the card.
    Read FAQ 19J and FAQ 19AJ.
    It's a basic tenet of the card that colors do not dictate a specific suit.
    If after you read those FAQs, your question still hasn't been answered, please ask the question again, and I'll explain. 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)
    May 27, 2009


    Joker redemption (FAQ 19P), part 3

    >From: "bobbispecial
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 3:50:16 PM
    >Subject: Butttttttt - this is what happened
    >My dear 'Mah Jongg Professor': First, I am not trying to be difficult but I am taking the rule literally. I reread the rules and still contend the following, as the rules states: It sometimes occurs that an error (for instance, too many or too few tiles in the hand) is not discovered until some time later ******(so that the exact timing of the error and any joker exposures is not known or cannot be determined). When this happens, jokers exposed prior to the discovery/announcement of the error remain alive for redemption purposes, and jokers exposed concurrent with the announcement of a problem are dead and should be returned to the rack. ******
    >case in point *****after the 2nd exposure play continued (player made 2nd exposure and then threw, next player took her turn and then it was determined that the hand was in error (which is "some time later".
    >In this case 2 turns after the exposure is some time later.
    >By the way, I love your website and have sent it on to many other Mah Jongg players.
    >Thank you,
    >Bobbi

    My dear "Mah Jongg Student," (^_^)
    So you're saying that the error was discovered so much later that nobody can remember or say which of the dead player's exposures was first? See italics I added to your email above (sorry I can't maintain all the colors and font treatments from your original email).
    If you know which exposure was made second, then you know which exposure was made in error, and you know which exposure should go back onto the rack. If what I wrote in the third bullet in FAQ 19P is confusingly stated, then it would be great if you could help me come up with better wording.
    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)
    May 26, 2009


    Looking for playing card tiles

    >From: Anthony Nguyen
    >Email: adawg01 at gmail.com
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 11:25:00 AM
    >Subject: mahjong tiles
    >Hi my name is anthony nguyen and I'm looking for a set of mahjong tiles, well its not really not mahjong but more like gin rummy in that the tiles have faces that resemble card faces, for example, 2-10 and jacks, queens, kings, aces, and jokers. The game is played like gin rummy but on mahjong looking tiles. I cant find these types of tiles anywhere but have seen them before. I live in the southern california region. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Please email me back at this address if you have any ideas on how to find these tiles. Ive tried many sites and ebay and everything. Trying to get it as a gift.
    >Thank you

    Hi Anthony,
    The problem may be in figuring out what to call them. They're not mahjong tiles - they're playing card tiles. Essentially, a deck of playing cards in the shape of mahjong tiles. I have occasionally seen these on eBay, and I have also seen them for sale in Hong Kong.
    On eBay, they wouldn't necessarily be listed in the mahjong section.
    As for Hong Kong vendors, see FAQ 7m - the FAQs are above left.
    I'm posting this on both the Tiles Wanted BB and the Q&A BB. Good luck, and...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 26, 2009


    Joker redemption (FAQ 19P), part 2

    >From: "bobbispecial
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 8:33:14 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A-
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >This is with reference to the question I wrote about the 2 exposures that were incorrect and dead
    >after play had continued. My 'friend' wants me to clarify the question by the following explanation:
    >After she put up the 2nd exposure she then discarded, the next player went and then the player
    >that made the wrong exposure declared herself dead (which she now says she was wrong in doing
    >this is a very experienced player, I might add) but took the 2nd exposure back. I said once the
    >play had continued the exposures stay and Jokers can be taken.
    >OK sir, who's right?
    >Thanks for the re-evaluation of this problem. I had copied all of FAQ 19P and gave it to her but
    >she still says the 2nd exposure goes back because she did not go again. I say that because
    >she discarded that made the play continue, etc.
    >Thanks again,
    >BobbiSpecial

    Hi Bobbi,
    Now you're asking a different question from the one you asked me last Wednesday (May 20). Now what you're asking is: "When a player goes dead, do her exposures stay atop the rack?" Although it's a different question, this is answered in the second bullet of FAQ 19P.

      Jokers which were exposed improperly are not available for redemption... Any jokers that had been exposed PRIOR to the blunder (the jokers in the first exposure) are still valid for redemption, but any jokers exposed in the course of making the blunder (the jokers in the second exposure) are dead. All portions of the hand exposed erroneously are to be returned to the sloping front of the rack, including and especially the now-dead jokers.

    So she was right to put the exposure back into her hand, on the sloping front of her rack. But the stuff you said at the end makes no sense to me:

    >she still says the 2nd exposure goes back because she did not go again. I say that because
    >she discarded that made the play continue, etc.

    She had called herself dead. The second exposure was improper (it showed her hand to be dead), so that exposure was supposed to go back on the rack, as discussed in FAQ 19P. It has nothing to do with whether she discarded afterwards or the game continued or anything else. The 2nd exposure was a blunder. It was supposed to be returned to the rack, forever out of reach of the surviving players. That's what it says in FAQ 19P, is it not?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 26, 2009


    Tile color - tile errata

    >From: JC
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 6:44:47 AM
    >Subject: "color" of Seasons tiles
    >When assigning a "color" to a Seasons tiles is the color derived from the color of the chinese character or the number of the tile? I have attached a picture of a tile for reference. Is this a "red" 3 or a "green" 3? (I have assumed that it is a red 3.) Thanks alot. Your website is fantastic and chock full of useful information!!!!
    >J. C

    >From: JC
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 7:01:35 AM
    >Subject: Tile curiosity
    >Hi, Attached is a picture of a tile that I have and it has been engraved wrong. It's kind of like the equivalent of a double stamped coin and therefore rarely seen. Is this tile of any value? Would a collector like yourself want it?
    >Thanks, Jan C.

    Hi Jan, you asked:

    When assigning a "color" to a Seasons tiles is the color derived from the color of the chinese character or the number of the tile?
    Whichever character seems dominant to you.

    I have attached a picture of a tile for reference. Is this a "red" 3 or a "green" 3? (I have assumed that it is a red 3.)
    Then so be it. When your friends come over to play with your set, if you care about differentiating four of the flowers from the other four, and if your differentiation is going to be based on color, tell them how you define the differentiation with your set.

    Is this tile of any value? Would a collector like yourself want it?
    I once saw a set that had the "S" (for the south wind) carved backwards. The individual tiles wouldn't be particularly valuable, but the set would. As for your 3B tile with the Arabic numeral 2 on it, I don't think it's particularly wonderful. If all the 3B's have 2's on them, then what do the 2B's have on those? If it's just the one tile that has the wrong numeral on it, then that's a minor oddity that might possibly add some value to the set, but probably not much.

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


    Ivory

    >From: Anne
    >Sent: Sunday, May 24, 2009 9:06:44 AM
    >Subject: Ivory mahjongg set
    >Dear Tom,
    >My name is Anne _______, living in Amsterdam, NL. From early childhood I've played Mah Jongg with much enjoyment. As a true addict I've collected several sets of stones over the 10 years. For some time I've been looking to buy a genuine ivory set of stones (preferably without Western numberings). Finding such a set is not an easy quest.
    >Browsing the net, I've come to understand, you are in the proud possession of at least one ivory set of stones.
    >If it's not too much to ask, could you tell me where you found your set, and do you have any tips for me where to find one?
    >Your response is very much appreciated!
    >Kind regards,
    >Anne

    Hi Anne,
    Ivory is a material that cannot be transported internationally. Here in America, it is legal to buy and sell ivory items that are already within the national borders, but it is illegal to import or export ivory items. Therefore the American source of my first ivory set is not available to you. My second set was purchased at auction. In your country you'll have to look to auctions and antique dealers, and it's not likely to be a quick quest. You might want to contact the proprietors of Daja Mahjong, in your country, and ask them if they have any suggestions for you. Good luck, and...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 24, 2009


    New iPhone game

    >From: William
    >Sent: Sunday, May 24, 2009 8:08:21 AM
    >Subject: New MJ app for iPhone and Android
    >Hi, Tom,
    >I thought you might find this interesting....it's a 16-tile, Taiwanese MJ application released for both the iPhone and Google's Android phone OS. It's cute and not too bad.
    >http://www.joymaster.com/iphone/MahjongFairyland/
    >--
    >This address is for personal communication only. Please do not give my e-mail address to online sites for invitations to services or any other purpose.

    Thanks, William.
    I've added the link to FAQ 5.
    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)
    May 24, 2009

    "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.


    Gonna have to play online for a while (American-style, part 4)

    >From: Molly
    >Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2009 4:50 PM
    >Subject: RE: Your non-support of American mahjong
    >So I tried to play a practice American game at mahjongg time…..all screwed up

    Sorry to hear that, Molly.
    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)
    May 23, 2009


    Has she been playing wrong all these years? Because the info I found is on the Internet, so it must be true.

    >From: Barbara
    >Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2009 5:39:07 AM
    >Subject: blind pass
    >Can the blind pass be used at any time in the charleston or just on the 3rd hand when you can steal. Barbara

    >From: Barbara
    >Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2009 5:51:45 AM
    >Subject: MAHJONG MAHJONGG everywhere
    >Maureen ______ emailed you concerning "blind pass" and stealing. This is the website I secured the definition of blind pass. Barbara _______, senior student of Maureen ______
    >file:///C:/Documents%20 and%20 Settings/Barbara%20 Coleman/My%20 Documents/MAHJONG%20 MAHJONGG%20 everywhere%20 meta%20 name=keywords%20 content=mahjong,%20 mahjongg,%20 Mahjong%20 Shop,%20 Mahjongg%20 Store,%20 rules,%20 games%20 meta%20 name=description%20 content=mahjong,%20 mahjongg,mahjongg%20 rules%20 of%20 play.htm

    Hello Barbara,
    You didn't send me a link to a website - you sent me a link to a file on your own computer. But by Googling your subject line ("MAHJONG MAHJONGG everywhere") I was able to find the website, at http://home.tiac.net/~domino32/mahjong/

    In FAQ 4b, I charitably describe that site as "an unusual and original variation on American-style mah-jongg." You wrote:

    Can the blind pass be used at any time in the charleston or just on the 3rd hand when you can steal.
    This question was asked and answered just yesterday.

    Maureen ______ emailed you concerning "blind pass" and stealing... Barbara _______, senior student of Maureen ______
    Yes, she certainly did. And I answered her yesterday (below, sounds like you haven't read it yet). I have to say that I'm totally delighted to hear from you, really! It's so seldom I get to hear from both parties involved in a question.

    Please scroll down and read the answer I gave Maureen yesterday. Please look at the back of your NMJL card. Then all you have to do is decide which to believe: the back of your NMJL card, or the domino32 website. I don't think I need to tell you which to believe, do I? And you already know which one your mahjongg teacher would tell you to believe.

    Lastly, since you're a computer user, I highly recommend that you visit my Frequently Asked Questions (above left; look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) 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.

    Listen to Maureen and enjoy learning mahjongg, Barbara.
    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)
    May 23, 2009


    Have I been playing wrong all these years? Guess not, huh.

    >From: Maureen
    >Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 7:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you for your prompt answer. I am chuckling about the word "steal" as I know better. This is my first time teaching and I have been trying to use the proper terms. However, I find that pungs and kongs only confuse beginners (and me) more. I will order your book and reread my card and Mahjongg official book.
    >Also, I have leaned even more myself since I've taken on this task of teaching. I only started because there were not enough players in my area to play, especially since several go to Florida for the winter. Our classes started in September of 2008 and have increased to more than 16 regular players now. I am so glad to have a source like you to help me.
    >May the tiles be with you also.....MMcB Watervliet, NY

    That's cool, Maureen. (^_^)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 22, 2009


    Have I been playing wrong all these years?

    >From: Maureen
    >Sent: Friday, May 22, 2009 3:40 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have been trying to teach Mahjongg to seniors in my community. One of my students tells me that she found on the "MahJongg" site that you can "steal" right from the beginning so you have your "original" tiles. Have I been playing wrong all these years?
    >M McB Watervliet,New York

    Hi Maureen,
    If you're going to teach mahjongg to others, you need to be armed with a definitive book, so you can field questions that may arise. You also need to understand, and convey to your students:

    Many people play mahjongg using various unofficial table rules, then teach those as official;

    Anybody and his dog can create a website and say any old darned thing he wants;

    Novices reading the somewhat complicated rules of mahjongg can misremember or misunderstand what was read there;

    Because there are dozens of mahjongg variants, your student might not even have been reading about American-style mahjongg at all! (I assume you're teaching National Mah Jongg League rules to your seniors.)

    There isn't just one site. You said your student found this rule on "the 'MahJongg' site" (italics added for emphasis). I just now Googled "mahjongg Charleston steal" and checked all 10 of the sites on the first page of search results, and none of those sites said what your student said was written on the site she read. I'd be curious which site she was talking about, but I'd bet that she couldn't even find it again. And if she could, that it doesn't say what she says it says (for reason 3 above).
    Besides, even if we were to honor one site as being "the" website for American-style mahjongg, that would have to be the website of the National Mah Jongg League itself (link in FAQ 4a). And the NMJL website doesn't give the rules, and the word "steal" is nowhere to be found on that site.

    The actual and correct rule is stated right on the back of your NMJL card. I assume you have the NMJL card? Turn it over and read the back (the left pane of the card). Should some website be trusted more than the actual rules as stated by the National Mah Jongg League, right there on the card?
    Some more places where you can view the actual and correct rule:

    The official NMJL rulebook, page 12. You absolutely must own a copy of the official rulebook if you're going to teach! Read FAQ 3 (the FAQs are above left).
    Right here on my website: FAQ 19AG.
    My book, "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," p. 47 and p. 82.
    Elaine Sandberg's book (see FAQ 3), p. 77.

    Besides, just think about it a minute. How could you possibly blind pass on an across? To blind pass, you have to wait for another player to pass three tiles to you first. Then you can take up to 3 of those tiles and pass them along, correct? Well, if you do that on an across, how would that work? First the player opposite you would hand over three tiles. Then what, are you going to just give those back to her? (^_^) Can you even imagine what kind of reaction you'd get if you tried that?

    And lastly, I have to nitpick your use of the word "steal." The act of passing along tiles that were passed to you, in order to keep your original tiles in the hand, is properly called "blind passing." Read the official NMJL rulebook, and see my Column #353 (purple banner above, I recommend you bookmark it) and my FAQ 19AW (please bookmark FAQ 19 for your future reference).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 22, 2009


    Joker redemption (FAQ 19P)

    >From: bobbispecial
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 3:56 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When someone makes two (2) exposures with Jokers and a few plays after the 2nd exposer we notice that these two exposurers are not part of a hand, do the exposures stay on the rack and can the Jokers be taken or is the second one put back on the rack?
    >I say since play has continued her hand is 'dead', she ceases playing but the two exposures stay on top of the rack and Jokers can be taken.
    >What's your answer?
    >I look forward to hearing from you and I will copy this email and bring it back to the game on Monday.
    >BobbiSpecial

    Hi Bobbi,
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) 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 before asking a question.

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

    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)
    May 20, 2009


    Hanafuda

    >From: Ian
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 3:01 PM
    >Subject: Hanafuda
    >Tom
    >Thank you for bringing my attention to such a fascinating game as Koi Koi (my daughter can testify to the hours of fun it has brought me since I found the game)
    >Also I would like to thankyou for mentioning the automatic wins and doubling rules that I have failed to find details of on the limited number of english language hanafuda sites.
    >One thing I am unclear of ....
    > Backgammon has it's doubling cube ....
    > Mahjong has it's dealer indicators .....
    >But Hanafuda ... Does it have a doubler indicator to indicate whether the players are playing for 1x, 2x, 3x, or 4x.
    >Obviously, 6x automatic in-hand win would not be indicated but just scored ... Also do you know how the Japanese score Hanafuda (on paper, mahjong sticks, some other option....)
    >I'm always one for realism
    >Thankyou
    > -- Ian
    >_________________ from your Hanafuda pages _________________________
    >CHECK FOR AUTOMATIC WINS OR REDEALS, TRIPLE CARDS, AND SCORE DOUBLERS:
    >After the deal and before commencing play, the players examine their hands for automatic wins, and the 8 face-up cards must be examined for 20-point cards and for any triples or quads.
    >· If there is a 20-point card face-up after the deal, the score for the hand will be doubled. Two twenties triples the score; three 20-point cards quadruples the score, etc.
    >· If there is a triple (three cards of one suit) face-up after the deal, a player gathers them together into one stack. Whoever plays the fourth card of that suit will take the stack.
    >· If there is a quad (all four cards of one suit) face-up on the table, the hand is declared void and the dealer redeals.
    >· If a player has a quad (all four cards of one suit) in the hand, the player automatically wins. Player is scored six points and takes the deal. (Note: Thanks to Graham Leonard for helping clarify the scoring on automatic wins, and a fine point about the rules below, on March 9, 2004.)
    >· If there are four pairs face-up on the table, the hand is declared void and the dealer redeals.
    >· If a player has four pairs in the hand, the player automatically wins. Player earns six points and takes the deal.
    >Ian

    Hi Ian, you wrote:

    Does it have a doubler indicator to indicate whether the players are playing for 1x, 2x, 3x, or 4x.
    I discussed my idea for how to indicate doubles in the page entitled "Rules of Koi-Koi." If your deck comes with an extra card, it can be used to indicate 1, 2, 3, or 4 doubles, by means of orientation (horizontal or vertical) and which side is up.

    do you know how the Japanese score Hanafuda (on paper, mahjong sticks, some other option....)
    I'm afraid I don't. I just use paper and pencil.

    May the cards be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 20, 2009


    Those confusing joker rules, yet again

    >From: "Budnmary1
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9:35:08 AM
    >Subject: Can you EVER pick up a joker?
    >Hi Tom,
    >One lady claims she read if you discard a 3 dot, then the next turn someone discards a joker and says "same," you can retrieve the prior 3 dot, since the joker was called 'same.'
    > I said you can NEVER pick up a joker. Who is correct?
    >Thx,
    >Mary

    Hello Mary,
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19G. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's indicated by a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it. Then Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to question G. 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a 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)
    May 19, 2009


    How can I obtain 8 jokers?

    >From: "NKL614
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 8:16:32 AM
    >Subject: white tiles
    >Morning, just going thru your web pages. I think I have a Japanese set I have no jokers I have 8 white, blank tiles which I just learned from your letters are my soaps. tiles measure 1" x 3/4" and are bamboo backed. How can I obtain 8 jokers so I can use this set?
    >Thanks,
    >Nancy

    Hello Nancy, you wrote:

    I think I have a Japanese set
    More likely it's Chinese, since it has 8 blanks. You didn't mention flowers. If your set has 8 flower tiles, then it's probably not Japanese. See FAQ 7a.

    I have 8 white, blank tiles which I just learned from your letters are my soaps.
    4 of them are your white dragons. The other 4 are your blanks.

    How can I obtain 8 jokers so I can use this set?
    As you might imagine, you're not the first person who's found herself in this situation. So this question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #7r. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (they're indicated by a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Click the link for 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.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 19, 2009


    Listing request, part 2

    >From: Sheryl Perry
    >Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 4:10:34 PM
    >Subject: Re: tournaments
    >Thank you. That was so generous. I really appreciate it.
    >Best wishes
    >Sheryl


    Listing request

    >From: Sheryl Perry (simplysheryl at msn.com)
    >Sent: Monday, May 18, 2009 2:38:48 PM
    >Subject: tournaments
    >Dear Tom, I enjoy your site very much and saw that you post tournaments. I throw tournaments in NY on Long Island and wanted to ask you is it would be possible to post my link under that section
    >It is http://4windsmahjongg.synthasite.com/
    >If the answer is no, I do appreciate your time and consideration.
    >Thanks so much
    >Sheryl Perry

    No problem, Sheryl.
    I've added your link to FAQs 4a and 4b.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mahjongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 18, 2009


    Wright-Patterson

    >From: Charles/Cordelia
    >Sent: Sunday, May 17, 2009 12:58:05 PM
    >Subject: My mah jongg comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I love your website, I love mah jongg. I appreciate the 3 answers to questions you've given me: 1 on applejuice mah jongg sets, 1 on original color of bakelite tiles, and 3. what book to refer to for basic classical Chinese rule set.
    >My daughter asked what I wanted for Mother's Day and I said, "The Red Dragon and THe West Wind". I thoroughly enjoy it even though there is almost no focus on Wright Patterson, which I knew before I requested your book. But on page 227, you mention that we play with 144 tiles. We actually play with 146 tiles-2 jokers, which you might want to change when your next edition comes out.
    >With appreciation,
    >Cordelia

    Hi Cordelia,
    I'm glad you enjoy my work. (^_^)
    I had heard previously from a Wright-Patterson player, who also mentioned using 2 jokers, but I hadn't thought much of it at the time. Prompted by your email, I just now rechecked the official Wright-Patterson rulebook, and could not find any mention of jokers anywhere in any of the four booklets available from the WPAFB-OWC. So I have to assume that the use of 2 jokers is not the official practice, so much as an unofficial table rule. The use of jokers certainly necessitates rules governing exactly how jokers may be used. The use of jokers probably causes more questions about NMJL rules than any other thing. So it's unthinkable for a rulebook to omit something so likely to raise questions. Thus my assumption that it's an unofficial rule.

    If I'm wrong, and jokers are now part of the official rules, then one would assume that the WPAFB-OWC would need to issue a revision of the rulebook. It's been a few years since I ordered my booklets (less than ten years). So it's possible that a revision has already been issued since then. If this has happened, I need to order a new copy of the rules.

    For now, I've added the use of 2 jokers to FAQ 2b, with a mention that it's probably an unofficial practice. If/when I can confirm that all W-P players use 2 jokers, or at least that a majority of W-P players use them unofficially, I will definitely add that tidbit to the errata for my book, and modify the entry in FAQ 2b as well.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mahjong East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 17, 2009


    Mixed suit? Cleared suit? Part two?

    >From: Deloris
    >Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2009 2:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I didn't use any book to teach myself Mah Jong, I printed off maybe ten versions of rule information from different websites, read them all and picked the one that was clearest to me to read over until it sunk in. One that I printed off your #10 MJ for Dummies. I feel confident I can teach the basics of the classic game to my friends and we will do just what you said. I'll print off your answer here for my file so that I can re-read it after we all get the hang of MJ play.
    >I did order your book "The Red Dragon & the West Wind" from Amazon.com and am still waiting for it to arrive. The estimated delivery is May 14- June 1. So I will have a reference book to read in a few days. Thank you very much for your help.
    >Deloris

    Hi Deloris,
    I'm delighted that you've ordered my book. But there are a couple of problems:

    Using ten different websites' descriptions can lead to confusion. For one thing, those ten websites might not be describing the same variant. And for another thing, every author who describes a variant will invariably describe that variant in varying different ways. Variously. I don't recommend doing that.
    If you are correct and all ten of those websites describe the Classical rules, and the game you want to study is the Classical game, then I'm afraid my book won't be suitable for your purposes at all. My book does not describe the Classical game, but rather describes the Official rules (the rules used at international non-money tournaments).

    If the variant you want to teach your bridge group is the Classical variant, I recommend you buy another book, and use that. My FAQ 10 is good to cover the basics of most un-American variants, but when it comes down to scoring, fine points, and strategy, you need to use one solid source. A good book will include all the fine points so that when you run into a question or problem, you can look up the answer and move on harmoniously. You can look up books in FAQ 3. Just about every book written during the 1920's described the Classical rules.

    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)
    May 16, 2009


    Mixed suit? Cleared suit?

    >From: Deloris
    >Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2009 7:20:45 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I almost have taught myself to play Chinese Classic Mah Jong and am going to teach three other ladies that I play Bridge with. My question is does one have to collect only one suit (plus the special tiles)? Or can I collect all three suits? I know this is a very basic question but it would help me to have it clarified. Thank you very much.
    >polyanna

    Hi Deloris,
    It's interesting that you ask this. This was one of the controversies that killed the mahjong craze in the mid-1920's. And depending on which book you taught yourself from, this question (whether mixed suits should be permitted or not) may not even have been discussed. It makes me very curious: which book are you using as your guide? As you can see from my conversation with Edna, below, "which book" can be the key to solving a puzzle.

    Your question of whether one can use (as you said) "only one suit (plus the special tiles)? Or can I collect all three suits" overlooks other possibilities:
    - Two suits
    - One suit without honors
    - Two or three suits with honors
    - Zero suits (only honors)

    The classic game (as it was played according to the earliest authors writing in English) did not have any restrictions whatsoever on this question. But when the game caught on in the West (primarily America and the United Kingdom), a problem arose between players of different levels and mindsets.

    Beginners and casual players prefer the classic rules, which permit making a freeform hand of any number of suits with or without honor tiles. But experienced and hardcore players prefer restricted rules, so that one has time and opportunity to pursue very high-scoring hands.

    A hardcore player who was endeavoring to build a difficult expensive hand of one suit, with or without honor tiles ("Cleared Hand"), would invariably get very upset if an opponent made a cheap quick easy hand with more than one suit ("Mixed Suit"), thwarting his attempt. This led to what I call "the mahjong wars," circa 1923-1924.

    So there were, in fact, three schools of thought on this:
    Mixed Suit: players are permitted to make any valid mahjong hand, usually four groups and a pair, without restrictions as to number of suits or number of doubles scored.
    One Double: players are not permitted to declare mahjong with a hand that does not score at least one double.
    Cleared Hand: players are not permitted to have tiles of more than one suit when making mahjong.

    So, as regards to your bridge group, Deloris, I recommend starting with the mixed suit game. After the players have become accustomed to the game and the strategy, you'll see if restricted rules need to be adopted. The main point is to have fun -- and part of the fun is in discovering how you like to play.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah jong East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 16, 2009


    Can I promote a pung to a kong, and thereby declare mahjong, in non-American mahjong? (Part 4)

    >From: Edna
    >Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2009 7:10:59 AM
    >Subject: mj
    >I can't believe I had this ridiculous blind spot about kungs and mahjongs. The light bulb finally went off. My apologies for taking up your time.
    >Sometimes I think my five years of college was wasted.
    >Edna

    Hi Edna,
    Hallelujah! (^_^) Isn't it great when that light bulb does its thing? I hope it was the picture I drew.
    This is part & parcel of the reason why konging is a tricky thing in un-American mahjong -- why one should always think twice before making a kong.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jong East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 16, 2009


    Gonna have to play online for a while (American-style, part 3)

    A followup on my discussion with Molly, below.
    I emailed the president of MahjongTime and asked if their site would be supporting American mahjong going forward. The reply:

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your email. The 2009 American Mahjong is going to be up and running on our site on Monday, May 18. We have been working on some major upgrades to the software, thus the delay in releasing the 2009 version. We do plan to continue supporting the American Mahjong.

    And that's a relief! Because if MahjongTime doesn't support American mahjong, then the only option is the NMJL's game. They don't have any A.I. bots there, so you have to play against real people. And they can be a little trying at times. (^_^) So, anyone who wants to play American mahjong against computerized opponents, just muddle through the weekend as best you can!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    The Ides of May, 2009


    Gonna have to play online for a while (American-style, part 2)

    >From: Molly
    >Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 12:00 PM
    >Subject: RE: please advise
    >I know…of course I looked there. Mahjong time has a guest thing. I tried it but it doesn’t seem to work for American mahjongg with the 2009 card or maybe I am just a clutz.  that’s why I decided to try my guru Tom.

    Hi Molly,
    I thought MahjongTime supported American mahjong? If not, then NMJL is your only other choice.
    Your guru Tom (^_^)
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    The Ides of May, 2009

    PS. DOH! I just went on MahjongTime and discovered that they only support the 2008 card.

    See, I was making a wonderful 2009 13579 hand with four jokers (!) and the game told me my hand wasn't valid. I'll contact MahjongTime, and ask them if they intend to support American mah-jongg going forward or not. Will keep you posted.
    Tom


    Gonna have to play online for a while (American-style mah jongg)

    >From: Molly
    >Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 11:36 AM
    >Subject: please advise
    >I am leaving the desert for the northwoods for the summer. Probably won’t find any players there. What do you recommend for online play for me at my level? Should I just sign up for the one at the National Mahj League site? Thanks for your sage response…..Molly

    Hi Molly,
    If you take a look at FAQ 5, you'll see that there are not just one, but TWO options available to you. NMJL and MahjongTime.
    Best regards, and may the tiles be with you.

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


    Can I promote a pung to a kong, and thereby declare mahjong, in non-American mahjong? (Part 3)

    >From: Edna
    >Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 5:53:58 AM
    >Subject: mj text
    >You asked what mj text I use. It is:"Mah Jong, Anyone?" Revised Edition by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans with new material by Tom Sloper. I cannot find in it the precise situation and answer to my question. I also cannot find it in your referenced 20d.
    >If a discarded tile can be picked up and added to an exposed pung and result in a MahJong. Some say that tile cannot be picked up because the pung is already exposed on the rack. I thought that it could be picked up if it made a Mahjong.
    >The referenced book does say it is not necessary to take a tile from the flower wall when a kung is made. If this is the case then I thought the perfect 14 tiles would be held and a mj made.
    >Thank you for your time.
    >Edna

    Hi Edna,
    Now we're getting somewhere! You wrote:

    You asked what mj text I use. It is:"Mah Jong, Anyone?" Revised Edition by Kitty Strauser and Lucille Evans
    Ah! Then you don't play "Asian or Chinese Mahjong," as you indicated before. You play British Empire (Western) rules. This form of mahjong is played in English-speaking countries. For taxonomic purposes, this variant is more similar to the Asian varieties than it is to American mahjong, but can be thought of as borrowing aspects of both.

    with new material by Tom Sloper.
    (^_^)

    I cannot find in it the precise situation and answer to my question.
    By "it" I assume you mean the promoting of a pung to a kong. In the book, "Mah Jong, Anyone?" it's discussed on page 26. Kong category 1.B.

    I also cannot find it in your referenced 20d.
    FAQ 20d pretty much says the same thing it says on page 27 of your book. It's the explanation of why just having fourteen tiles does not make a mahjong, that a kong is just a glorified pung (it's effectively only 3 tiles in the hand). I don't think you have yet come to grips with that concept, since you're still talking about winning by means of promoting a pung to a kong -- which is impossible, because konging does not advance the hand closer to mahjong, as I explained in my most recent reply to you, below.

    If a discarded tile can be picked up and added to an exposed pung
    It cannot. Not a discard. Read 1.B. on page 26 of your book (the last sentence). I've been focusing on other parts of your question, because it is possible to promote a pung to a kong in the un-American varieties, and it seemed to me that the heart of your question revolved around that.

    and added to an exposed pung and result in a MahJong.
    And that's precisely what I've been explaining to you. Promoting a pung to a kong can never advance the hand closer to mahjong. I proved that with the very detailed explanation I gave you yesterday. I even drew you a picture, with tiles.

    Some say that tile cannot be picked up because the pung is already exposed on the rack
    They're right. Read the last sentence of 1.B. on page 26.

    I thought that it could be picked up if it made a Mahjong.
    IF picking up a discard could make you mahjong, then yes, you can pick up the discard. BUT, (1) it's not possible to win by promoting a pung to a kong. And (2) you can't promote a pung with a discarded tile (only with a picked tile).

    The referenced book does say it is not necessary to take a tile from the flower wall when a kung is made.
    No. It doesn't say that. Quote me the part where you think it says that, and I'll explain how you're reading it out of context.

    I thought the perfect 14 tiles would be held and a mj made.
    The hand cannot be just any old 14 tiles. The 4th tile of a kong does not count towards 14, just as any flowers (if you play using flowers) do not count towards the 14-tile count. That's what I meant in FAQ 20d about kongs "messing up the tile count," and that's what's discussed on page 27 of the book. This is why promoting a pung to a kong doesn't advance the hand closer to mahjong. Please re-read the explanation I wrote for you yesterday. I worked very hard on that explanation, and it would be a shame if you remain unclear on this point after all that trouble I went to for you.

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


    Can I promote a pung to a kong, and thereby declare mahjong, in non-American mahjong? (Part 2)

    From: "Edna
    Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 5:16 PM
    Subject: Mahjong
    > Can one pick up a discarded tile to add to his EXPOSED pung to
    > make a
    > kung and therefore mahjong with fourteen tiles playing Asian or
    > Chinese Mahjong? Or is it necessary to take a tile from the flower
    > wall making too many tiles in hand for mj and necessitating a discard?
    > It's Edna again on the same day later but more desperate for an
    > answer. Sorry I woke you up so early.
    > Edna

    Hi Edna,
    You didn't wake me up. The computer is turned off at night, and it doesn't make a loud noise upon receipt of an email (it's a very different thing from a telephone). My only point before was that you shouldn't expect an immediate response on the BB after sending an emailed question.

    I already answered your question before. Promoting a pung to a kong does not change the status of your hand from "not mahjong" to "now it's mahjong." You need to read FAQ 20D. The FAQs are above left. I recommend you bookmark FAQ 20 for future reference. Just out of curiosity, what book or website are you learning mahjong from? Surely this is explained therein.

    I don't know what your hand is -- I don't know what your hand is waiting for. But your misunderstanding is in thinking that the final hand must always be fourteen tiles, no matter what groups the hand contains. Because that's not how un-American mahjong works.

    A kong "messes up the tile count," as I discussed in FAQ 20d. Your hand might be waiting (A) to complete a chow, or (B) to complete one of two pairs, or (C) to complete the only pair:

    In example A above, the only way to complete the hand and go mahjong is by getting a 2B or a 5B. Konging 7D is not going to finish the hand. Can you see that the incomplete 3B 4B chow would then prevent the hand from being a valid mahjong hand?

    In example B above, the only way to complete the hand and go mahjong is by getting E or 2D. Can you see that konging 1C or 8B or Wh would leave the hand incomplete? You can't go mahjong with 2 pungs, 1 kong, and 2 pairs. There's no such hand structure in un-American mahjong.

    In example C above, the only way to complete the hand and go mahjong is by getting 5B. Can you see that konging R or S would not complete the hand? There's no hand structure defined as "1 kong, 1 pung, 2 chows, and 1 singleton."

    Do you get my drift, Edna? Have I sufficiently answered your question now? I do hope you have read FAQ 20d, and that you've bookmarked the page for your future reference.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 14, 2009


    Need an English-language user guide for my automatic mahjong table

    >From: Joji
    >Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 12:25 PM
    >Subject: automatic mahjong table
    >HI! I received am automatic mahjong table as a gift directly from China! Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time putting it together and the user guide is written in Chinese characters. Do you have an English ver for the user guide? Or is there a site I can go to?
    >Thanks!!!

    Hi Joji, you wrote:

    I received am automatic mahjong table as a gift
    Wow! I need friends like that! (^_^)

    I'm having a hard time putting it together
    It has to be put together?!

    Do you have an English ver for the user guide?
    Nope.

    is there a site I can go to?
    I don't know. You'll have to look for one. If you don't find anything in FAQ 7f (above left), then you'll have to use Google, or contact your friend who gave you the gift. Good luck!

    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)
    May 14, 2009


    Can I promote a pung to a kong, and thereby declare mahjong?

    From: "Edna
    Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 5:21 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: When a pung is exposed on a rack
    > may one pick up a discarded tile to make a kung for a mahjong?
    > Edna

    From: "Edna
    Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 5:56 AM
    Subject: mj
    > Can one pick up a discarded tile to add to his exposed pung to make a
    > kung and mahjong?
    > Edna

    Well, Edna, it depends.
    It depends on which kind of mahjong you play, and you didn't tell me which kind of mahjong you play.

    If you play American (National Mah Jongg League) rules, then the answer is "read FAQ 19AF." (If your question is about American rules, you were supposed to check FAQ 19 before asking. The FAQs are above left.)

    But if you play a normal/Asian variant of mahjong, there's an entirely different problem. Although it's okay in the un-American variants to promote a pung to a kong, that would not change the status of your hand from "not mahjong" to "now it's mahjong." I can explain that for you, if your question is about un-American mahjong. And like I said, I don't know which kind of mahjong you play, based on the wording of your question.

    By the way, you didn't need to resend your question. Like the instructions say above, you should permit me some hours to reply. I was asleep when you posted your question (both times), and occasionally I do leave home and go out, sometimes for hours at a time! (^_^)
    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)
    May 14, 2009


    Mah Jong Fever session cancelled

    >From: MahJongg Fever©yahoo:com
    >To: James B; Melissa G; luckyjunk; poweroffocus; sweisfield; Marty T; webmaster©sloperama,com
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 12:42:25 PM
    >Subject: The Mah Jong Fever session scheduled for Wedneday, May 13th has been cancelled
    >Hello Everyone,
    >Due to the lack of positive RSVP's for tomorrow's session, the Mah Jong Fever meet up, has been cancelled.
    >Look forward to seeing you all in June.
    >Nancy F (Assistant Organizer)

    Nancy,
    What session? For that matter, what's Mah Jong Fever? This is the first I heard of this. If you're holding some online game meetups, I can help spread the word on my site.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 12, 2009


    When can I stop the Charleston?

    >From: "Fran
    >Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 7:25 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Question
    >When can you stop the passing if you are close to a mah jong.
    >Thank you
    >Fran
    >Fran

    Hi Fran,
    I've fully explained the Charleston in FAQ 19AG.
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it. You were supposed to check the FAQs before asking your question.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first before asking a question. After you read the FAQ, if you still have a question about the Charleston, just let me know what part of what I wrote in the FAQ was unclear and I'll gladly elucidate.

    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)
    May 12, 2009


    Please explain the "hot wall"

    From: "Suzy
    Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 2:32 AM
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    > My mah-jongg question or comment is: Please explain the "hot wall."
    > Some play that you can only call a tile from the "Hot Wall" (last
    > remaining wall) for Mah-Jongg. Otherwise why bother to throw the dice
    > and have a hot wall?
    > Others say you can call a tile from the hot wall & not Maj.
    > Which is correct?
    > Suzy

    Hi Suzy,
    I've already explained "hot wall," in FAQ 19Y. As for why roll dice, I explained that in column #403 (click purple banner above) and in FAQ 19AP.
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it. You were supposed to check the FAQs before asking your question.

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first before asking a question. After you read the FAQ, if you still have a question about the "hot wall," just let me know what part of what I wrote in the FAQ was unclear and I'll gladly elucidate.
    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)
    May 12, 2009


    Q's about my set

    >From: steven.s
    >Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 2:27 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I looked to see if there was any information regarding my set, but couldn't find it. I apologize if my question has been asked before; I know very little about the game. Up in Northern Minnesota I was cleaning out our shed and found a box containing Mah Jong tiles with a number of instruction manuals wrapped in a large plastic bag. This had been sitting at my sisters until very recently when she asked if I wanted it, as she was cleaning out old things and throwing stuff away. I brought this into work and looked the set up, as it is pretty old. It is a 1922 Pung Chow game, with the burgundy box and 144 tiles. It has plastic coins, as well as steel washers, which I think was used as part of the game. All of the tiles are in good shape (no or minor scratches, no breaks) with yellow on top and black on the bottom. The set is missing the betting sticks and a celluloid mingg jar. (I looked it up on Charlie's). I don't know what the joker's look like, but since I have 144, I assume they are still part of the set. The oilskin (leather) is mostly intact, good color, but peeling in a couple of places. The wood almost looks new.
    >My question(s)
    >Who can I have re-paint the tiles to bring out the wonderful etching and color?
    >Is there a way to restore the oilskin? The dragons just show as black lines (I believe they were gold at one time).
    >I haven't had a chance to look at e-bay yet, but if you have even a ballpark idea of what this might be worth, I'd appreciate it. It will at least allow me to understand how much money to put into repair. This is the second mystery in our family that I have found in two weeks.
    >I can send you a picture or pictures if you like. I appreciate any help.
    >Steve

    Hello Steve, you wrote:

    I don't know what the joker's look like, but since I have 144, I assume they are still part of the set.
    I don't know where you found information to support that assumption. I recommend you read some of my FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Start with FAQs 7a, 7b, & 7d. The FAQs are above left.

    The oilskin (leather) is mostly intact, good color, but peeling in a couple of places.
    I have no idea what you're talking about, sorry. But let's continue...

    Who can I have re-paint the tiles to bring out the wonderful etching and color?
    Read FAQ 7o (seven oh, not seventy).

    Is there a way to restore the oilskin?
    I have no idea. Try the local yellow pages for antique restorers.

    if you have even a ballpark idea of what this might be worth
    Not without you giving me all the information specified in FAQ 7h.

    I can send you a picture or pictures if you like.
    Just a few photos to give me an idea of the condition of the pieces, case, and paper materials. You said you had multiple books or booklets. Those may be valuable.

    I appreciate any help.
    Sure, no prob. Why not read FAQ 7p while you're at 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)
    May 11, 2009


    Additions to your "Where to get MJ " page in Europe, part 2

    >From: Ian Stanley
    >Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 2:19 PM
    >Subject: Re: Additions to your "Where to get MJ " page in europe ...
    >Just blundered across another site
    >http://www.witzigs.co.uk are the only UK supplier of Riichi sets in the UK

    You're the gift that keeps on giving, Ian. (^_^)
    Cheers!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 11, 2009


    Those confusing joker rules (FAQ 19L)

    >From: Bill
    >Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 9:22 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Can I pick a dragon that is disgarded for my 4th tile and expose it with 3 jokers?
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:

    Hello Bill,
    Please scroll up and find the links to the Frequently Asked Questions (look for the blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) 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.

    You have asked FAQ 19L.

    By the way, I have to nitpick your wording a little. Since I'm an author and have this website, and conduct lots of conversations with mahjong players worldwide, I like terminology that's unambiguous. I use the term "pick" to refer only to taking a tile from the wall. Discards are "taken" or "called" instead. Um, sorry. I'll get down off my soapbox now.
    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)
    May 11, 2009


    About my mah-jongg set, "Spot"

    >From: Carol
    >Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2009 7:00:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I recently bought a vintage two toned Mah Jong set. Several tiles have brown spots on the sides. What are these spots and how can they be removed or lightened.
    >Thanks.
    >Carol

    I have no idea, Carol. I recommend you read FAQ 7o (seven oh, not seventy), which contains collected tidbits about cleaning and maintaining mah-jongg sets. Click the link above left.
    If the spots are dirt of some kind, they ought to be able to be cleaned off the tiles. I assume your tiles are plastic (see FAQ 7c), although you didn't say. One unfortunate possibility is that something has gone wrong with the plastic itself, which would not be cleanable. Good luck!
    May the clean 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)
    May 10, 2009


    Additions to your "Where to get MJ " page in europe ...

    >From: Ian Stanley
    >Sent: Saturday, May 9, 2009 9:34:12 AM
    >Subject: Additions to your "Where to get MJ " page in europe ...
    >Hi Tom
    >thankyou for your wonderful mahjong site.
    >May I recommend a website store that has a reasonable set selection, good prices and fast delivery on mainland europe. I recently bought a Riichi set which arrived in the UK in two working days from Holland. They stock Riichi, Chinese and even an American MJ travel set
    > http://www.dajamahjong.nl/en-uk/index.html
    >Another good store that I have dealt with (with a larger range of sets) is
    > http://mah-jong-shop.com/shop3/index.php?language=en
    >Both are excellent and well recommended
    >We are poorly served in the UK mahjong stocking games stores have virtually disappeared and we rely on EBay.co.uk which used to be a good source but is now overcrowded with overpriced secondhand stuff from China (or cheap toy versions).
    >My recommendation for European buyers is try Daja Mahjong or Mah-Jong-Shop first and if they haven't got want you are after then you are really looking at the big internet suppliers like YM Imports etc.
    >Thanks

    Hi Ian,
    Thanks very much. I'm adding this to FAQ 7k.
    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)
    May 10, 2009


    Can I earn "jokerless" for a hand that cannot be made without jokers?

    >From: Liz (galcruiser)
    >Sent: Friday, May 8, 2009 8:28:33 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong Q & A
    >On the new 2009 card there are some hands that require jokers to complete, other than Quints.
    >EEEE 222 222 WWWW
    >FFFF 6666 X 8888 = 48
    >If the hand is pure, except for the required jokers, would the other players have to pay double value as for a pure or jokerless hand?
    >Thanks
    >Liz

    No.
    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)
    May 8, 2009


    Looking for a mahjong teacher in DC

    >From: Susan K. Straus
    >Email: skstraus -at- yahoo.com
    >Sent: Thursday, May 07, 2009 2:45 PM
    >Subject: help finding mahjong teacher
    >I am trying to find a mahjong teacher in the Washington DC area for a new group that knows nothing. Please help me.

    Hello Susan,
    I've already helped you as much as I can. I have a bulletin board where people from all over can look for and find players and teachers in their area. My FAQ 4a lists teachers (including one in central Virginia). And I wrote FAQ 15 to help people learn extra ways to find players and teachers.
    I'm posting this on both the Q&A bulletin board and the Find Players/Teachers bulletin board. Maybe someone in your area will see it and contact you. But you need to be proactive too. Don't just sit and wait. Avail yourself of the resources I've given 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)
    5/7/9


    Frequently Asked Question 19E

    >From: Dot
    >Sent: Wednesday, May 6, 2009 6:49:37 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >if you have a 3 wind tiles in your hand such as SWE & need north can you
    >pick it up from the discard pile ?
    >thank you

    Welcome Dot,
    Did you know that this website has answers to all the Frequently Asked Questions already listed? You can find the answer to your question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19E. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, above left (there's a blue and yellow flashing arrow, emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this , pointing to them).

    Your question is about American mah-jongg, and FAQ 19 gives the answers to more than 50 of the most frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg! Pretty much anytime you run into a question about American mah-jongg, you can find the answer right there in FAQ 19.

    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. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to question E. 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.

    Please always check the FAQs before asking a 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)
    May 6, 2009


    FAQ 19G again...

    From: "Louise
    Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 6:31 PM
    Subject: American Mah Jongg rules question
    > Tom,
    > Player B has exposed three flowers and a joker. Player A, (sitting to player B's left), several turns later discards a flower. (Obviously not paying attention, or she was playing a non-joker hand). Can player B, who is next to pick, redeem the flower, place it in her exposure, and place the joker back in her rack?
    > Louise

    Welcome, Louise.
    This question has been asked many times before. You can find the answer to this question, and many other often-asked questions, in the "Frequently Asked Questions" ("FAQs"). You have asked Frequently Asked Question #19G. Please scroll up and find the links to the FAQs, 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. Bookmark the page for your future reference. Scroll down and find the answer to question G. 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. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking a 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)
    Cinco de Mayo, 2009


    Whatever happened to the future, part two?

    >From: Lois
    >Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 7:44 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jong question
    >Is Alzheimers contageous?
    >I was skimming and it just didn't compute
    >thanks, Tom
    >L.

    Well, look at it this way, Lois.
    Now you know what happened to the future.
    Which is more than I've been able to figure out since Jan. 1, 2000...
    May the fourth 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)
    May the fourth, 2009


    Whatever happened to the future?

    >From: Lois
    >Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 7:05 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong question
    >Greetings
    >I have just pulled out my Grandmother's set, got new cards, got your book and had some friends over to learn to play. I played as a child with my Grandmother, mother and their friends. Most of it came back to me reading your book, but something is nagging in my mind, and I don't seem to find it in your book or on the website.
    >It seems to me that when I played as a kid, you picked a tile and kept it on the top of your rack until your turn came up again. I think it had something to do with passing tiles around when someone called for a discard. I don't find this type of play in what I am reading, is it no longer used?
    >Thank you
    >Lois

    Greetings back atcha, Lois.
    Wow, you have a very good memory! (^_^) This practice ("you picked a tile and kept it on the top of your rack until your turn came up again") goes by a couple of names:
    o "Playing with a future tile"
    o "Picking ahead"
    You say you couldn't find it in my book? Look on pages 60-61, 121, 235, 238, and 240.
    You say you couldn't find it on my website? Check out FAQ 19R & FAQ 14.
    And, lastly, look on the back of your NMJL card. It's rule #1. And it's written in all capital letters. (^_^)
    May the fourth 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)
    May the fourth, 2009


    something touched me to contact you

    >From: mery bugiba
    >Email: merybugiba@gmail.com
    >Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 7:15 PM
    >Subject: HELLO
    >Hello,
    > it give me a great pleassure to write you i was browsing when i came across your email contact and something touched me to contact you ,i will be very happy to be in communication with you if you will have the desire with me so that we can get to know each other and see what happened in future.
    >i will be very happy if you can write me so that i will tell you more about my self and give you my pictures for a good start.
    >i will be waiting to hear from you.
    >have a blessed day.
    >from Miss mery

    Errr... yeah... sure.
    May the Fourth be with you. (It would be even better if this was April First.)
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May the Fourth, 2009


    Explantion of dead hands

    >From: Dolores70000
    >Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 6:09 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Explantion of dead hands, thank you, Dolores

    Please read the instructions above, thank you, Dolores.
    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, before asking a question.

    The "dead" question is FAQ 19AA. After you read the FAQ, if you still have questions, see if you can find the answer in the FAQs, and if you can't, just ask and I will gladly answer.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May the Fourth be with you (2009)


    My ivory set, part 2

    >From: gina smith
    >Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 4:55 AM
    >Subject: mah jong
    >Hello Tom:
    >I was looking at Avril's set. It is really lovely. I don't see any bone characteristics form the pictures except for some of the sticks. The flower tiles are really ornate and beautifully done. They are one of the most detailed designed I have seen. I am wondering if they were added at a later date or recarved from the set. The background looks "whiter" or was maybe polished before carving? The paint is not the same as the paint on the rest of the tiles. And you probably know more about this than I do, but the Characters seem squarer (Korean or Japanese?) compared to the more rounded characters on the wan tiles and wind tiles. That always confused me a bit. I don't know if it was just stylized or not. A super buy in any case! Gina

    You raise an interesting point, Gina.
    The calligraphy style can be a clue to national origin. But the different look of Japanese calligraphy from Chinese is especially apparent in more modern sets.
    The calligraphy style of the Chinese writing on Avril's tiles looks to me very much like the style that was prevalent in Babcock sets. I assume by "Characters" you are talking about the red and green dragon tiles ("dragon" and "phoenix"), since you are differentiating them from craks and winds.
    And yes, in high-quality sets, the carving of the flower tiles is often more ornate -- done with a finer carving tool. I would assume that a different carver was employed in the creation of the original set, and that would explain also the different whiteness of the ivory in those tiles.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May the Fourth be with you (2009)


    I lost a website's address when my hard drive crashed

    >From: Edmond
    >Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 4:22 AM
    >Subject: Info needed on a website
    >Hello Tom,
    >Due to my hard drive crashing, I lost all my bookmarks.
    >I had bookmarked a reference Mahjongg website that showed pictures and definitions of all styles/manufacture of tiles manufactured. It was fairly easy to match an existing tile to the pictures to determine manufacturer and year.
    >Was this your site? I cannot find the link.
    >If not your site, do you know the address?
    >Thanks.
    >EdK

    Hello Ed,
    I have two FAQs chock full of links. FAQ 4a is a shorter list of links -- I call it "selected links" (it's the websites people most frequently ask about). You are probably talking about Jim May's website, or possibly Ms. ... I mean, CHarli's website.
    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). If you click the one labeled "The Mah-Jongg FAQs," you can bookmark that, and that's a central hub of all the FAQs so you don't need to bookmark multiple pages here on my site.
    Remember: The one you want right now is FAQ 4a.

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


    Were yellow Bakelite/catalin tiles originally white?

    >From: Charles/Cordelia
    >Cc: Charlie and Cordie
    >Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2009 9:26:03 AM
    >Subject: M J Question and Answer
    >Dear Tom,
    >I have read all your FAQ on Bakelite and Catalin and the fact that in the processing of Bakelite, "fillers" were used and therefore Bakelite tiles tend to turn darker? And that Catalin processing that came later is generally lighter and sometimes opaque.My question to you is: Below is a quote about catalin from a seller on Ebay. After reading his statement, I was wondering if when new, all bakelite or catelin was white or ivory and then gradually turned the butterscotch to yellow colors they are today?" Catalin is usually very colorful. Over time Catalin develops a patina, there is NO white Catalin (unless it has been restored, reworked, or has never seen sunlight). Sunlight causes the Catalin to yellow or "petina". All of the original white Catalin has yellowed over time, and clear to "apple juice", blue to green or teal, purple to brown or tan, while green, orange and red stay about the same. White marbling in marbled pieces will be yellowed. Catalin also shrinks over time, that is why most of the radios have cracks, warping, and the fiberboard on the back no longer fits. "
    >Thanks,
    >Cordelia

    Hi Cordelia, you asked:

    I was wondering if when new, all bakelite or catelin was white or ivory and then gradually turned the butterscotch to yellow colors they are today?
    I don't know, Cordelia. Sorry! That's the impression I get from what I've read, too, but I haven't observed the phenomenon myself. Have you read FAQ 7c3 yet? The FAQ links 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)
    May 3, 2009


    Looking for North American manufacturers/wholesalers of blank mah jongg tiles

    >From: Vic
    >Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2009 8:08:24 AM
    >Subject: Question for your Mah-Jongg Q & A Bulletin Board
    >Dear Tom:
    >First, thanks so much for your comprehensive site. I've learned a lot, and I just ordered your book.
    >Would you be able to direct me to manufacturers/wholesalers of blank mah jongg tiles in North America? Or would you please post that I would like to hear from them? Please post my email address as ividiot (at) yahoo.com People who write should put "Mah Jongg" in the subject field, so I know they're not sending spam.
    >BTW, I'm not chauvinistic about North America, I'm just environmentally-conscious and want to keep down the use of fuel for shipping.
    >THANKS AGAIN!
    >Vic

    Hi Vic,
    I am not aware of any North American manufacturers of mah jongg tiles. If I was, they'd be listed in FAQ 7Q (above left). If you want to keep down the use of shipping fuel, you might need to start your own plastics manufacturing company. (^_^) Or commission a North American plastics company to make tiles according to your specifications.
    I'll go ahead and post this on the Tiles Wanted BB, at your request.
    May the tiles be with you. Literally! And I hope you enjoy my book.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 3, 2009


    My ivory set

    >From: Averil
    >Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 7:03 AM
    >Subject: Cleaning Ivory & Great Site
    >Hi Tom
    >I’m delighted to find your site it’s proved very informative - I’ve been up all night reading it J. I was fortunate enough to purchase an ivory & bamboo Mahjong set in the late seventies and have never seen another like it since. My sister and I were discussing how we could find out more about my set as she loves it too and would like to find something akin to it for herself. It was purchased locally (New Zealand) from an antique dealer and I was sold on the spot – I had seen several second hand sets prior but nothing like this one. I was told it was almost 100years old at the time (from your examples it could be more like early 1920’s) and that the Bi-coloured carved wooden box is made from Japanese timbers - that was all that the dealer could tell me. I think the whole set is of early Japanese origin and the tiles are in beautiful condition. The box has a little external damage and a crack on the lower front door panel (inside). My son and I do play occasionally but not as much as we would like. We still have a lot to learn and I am still a little lacking in the correct terminology.
    >Some specs – Tile composition (have checked for cross hatching and wavy grain) Ivory with perfectly dovetailed bamboo rounded backs
    >· Immaculate paint work and use of multiple colours especially on flower tiles – include Arabic numerals
    >· Flower tiles have very detailed and complex scenes
    >· Tile dimensions – 2.5cm H x 2.1cm W x 1.3cm D at highest point of the curved back ( something akin to a cross between your American & Japanese sizing’s or the smaller style of tile you mentioned associated with some earlier tiles
    >· Quantity = 148 tiles
    >· The box = carved on four faces including the lid and handle; cube style box with five internal drawers; two timbers used in its manufacture; carvings intricate and very detailed – did I repeat myself there? No makers mark inside or outside the box unless subtlety included in the carvings some how. I’m hoping that its origin comes to light either via the characters on the tiles as you suggested could sometimes help or by way of its carved exterior as the recognized work of some early artist.
    >· No instruction book to help with time line
    >· Drawers = no special linings and of plain wooden design - but again quality manufacture.
    >· Have a number of the counting sticks not all are original I feel as some are of Ivory ( rounded ends) while the others are definitely rougher in nature and have the dull opened pored look of bone so I divided them up in the photo’s
    >· Some indescribable did try the burn test on the small ‘Winds’ container (did you call that a Mingg?) inside which is unfortunate as although you can see the tool marks internally - this piece of all the pieces most visibly shows the cross hatching and wavy grain of Ivory
    >· Box = 20.3cm H minus handle x 25cm W x 18.8cm D x handle = 4.3cm H
    >Since you hadn’t found any tips for cleaning Ivory I checked the net and found this quite helpful link attached. I got inspired to photograph my set and will attach some pictures. I like the patina on mine which gives them a soft mellow timelessness & character so I won’t be looking at trying to change that with mine. I don’t mind if you post some of the pictures I send on your sight (post what you like and keep the rest for your own reference) as they may help or interest to others. but would prefer that you left out my email ‘addy’ as I’ve had some massive spam lately. I do not wish to sell my set but would like to confirm its age; any other details like the origin of manufacture etc and if the age is able to be determined I would like find a book of play to match that era. Many thanks I intend to introduce my sister to your site also.
    >Cheers
    >Averil

    Hi Averil,
    Your questions are:

    would like to confirm its age
    Probably 1920's, maybe 1930's.

    the origin of manufacture
    I couldn't say. You said Japanese because of the wood. I don't have any clues.

    I would like find a book of play to match that era
    Any book from the 1920's is fine. Check FAQ 3. A lot of sets from the 1920's and 1930's came with booklets (which aren't necessarily listed in FAQ 3). Two types of booklets: those with set-manufacturer attribution and those without. The place to get books or booklets is eBay. And you can also find them through a Google search (as long as you know the exact title).

    Also you said that your set is ivory, that you saw the telltale signs. I can't confirm that from your photos, but you could be right. Clearly very high-quality material, and very high-quality artistry in the carving of not only the tiles but also the box.
    It's a little odd that the one bams seem brighter than the other tiles, but other than that. It's a very nice, very beautiful set.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on mah-jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    May 2, 2009


    Ivory-cleaning tip

    >From: Averil
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 4:33 AM
    >Subject: Tips link was turned down
    >Hi Tom
    >I’m delighted to find your site it’s proved very informative - I’ve been up all night reading it J. I was fortunate enough to purchase an ivory & bamboo Mahjong set in the late seventies and have never seen another like it since. I think it’s of early Japanese origin and the tiles are in beautiful condition. Since you hadn’t found any tips for cleaning Ivory I checked the net and found this quite helpful link below. I got inspired to photograph my set and will send some pictures sometime. I like the patina on mine which gives them a soft mellow timelessness & character so I won’t be looking at trying to change that with mine.
    >Cheers
    >Averil
    >Here's my tip: http://www.canequest.com/cleaning_ivory.asp

    Hi Averil,
    Thanks. I'm adding your tip to FAQ 7.o.
    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)
    May 2, 2009


    Cascading error

    >From: Charlene
    >Sent: Friday, May 1, 2009 7:16:17 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Three of us were playing. I erroneously exposed my tiles and called a Mah-Jongg. The player to my right then also mistakenly declared Mah-Jongg (okay, we were tired). The final player did not have Mah-Jongg. Not knowing what to do, we both payed her double our hands, but should I have been the only one to pay under the "cascading" rule? -Charlene

    Hi Charlene,
    I haven't seen an official NMJL ruling about two dodoheads both declaring mahj in error. (^_^) Usually, what happens after one mahjes in error, another player throws in her hand. And that's what you'll find ruled on in rule 98.d. in my book (page 62), and on page 16 of the official NMJL rulebook.
    Since that rule does say that the erring player should pay the sole surviving player double the value of the erring player's hand, it does seem appropriate what you did (both dodoheads pay the survivor double). Chances are slim to none that this will happen again to your group!
    P.S. My apologies to the poor extinct dodo for using its name for humorous effect. m(-_-)m
    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)
    May Day, 2009


    Frequently Asked Question 19G, part 2

    From: "JDBASSOC
    Sent: Friday, May 1, 2009 8:04:35 AM
    Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thanks Tom I need that!
    Marie


      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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