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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
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  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome.


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    Not tax-deductible

    Keep scrolling - the Q&As are below.

    But before we get to the Q&As, this needs to be said:

    Regarding Consec #5 on the 2019 card:

    FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25

    This hand may be made with Any 2 Consec. Nos. See the National Mah Jongg League's FAQs page
    (nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html), and see FAQ 16.



  • Two players wanted the discard for mah-jongg

    >From: TB C
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 5:41 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Two players called for a discarded green dragon for Mah Jongg. The first player in the rotation took the tile, exposed her hand, and found that it was incorrect and was declared dead. The next player took the green dragon and declared Mah Jongg. Her rationalization was that she needed the green dragon and since the other player used it incorrectly, she could take it. I indicated that the only tiles you can take before a hand is declared dead are jokers. She disagreed with me and suggested I email you for advice.
    >Thanks in advance.
    >TB

    Hi, TB! You wrote:

    The next player took the green dragon and declared Mah Jongg. Her rationalization was that she needed the green dragon and since the other player used it incorrectly, she could take it.
    Her explanation (as you have related it to me) does not make sense. The proper explanation is "since both claims were for mah-jongg, the second claimant is permitted to take the tile after the first claimant went dead, per rule 5 on page 16 of the official rulebook."


    This is the League's official rulebook. It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.

    I indicated that the only tiles you can take before a hand is declared dead are jokers.
    Sorry, I don't understand any of this argument nor its applicability to the situation under discussion.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 23, 2019


    DO you know who sells vintage mahjongg sets in L.A.?

    >LinkedIn.com/messaging/
    >Susan C
    >12:56 PM
    >Tom,
    >DO you know who sells vintage mahjongg sets and tiles in los angeles?
    >Hope you're well.
    >Susan

    Yes. Johni Levene. Join her Facebook group, Mah Jongg Collectors Association. Best way to get in touch with her.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 22, 2019


    Two players had the wrong number of tiles

    >From: Barbara D
    >Sent: Saturday, April 20, 2019 3:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >After playing a few rounds, two players realized they had an incorrect number of tiles in their hands (1 had 12 the other had 14). I stated that the two remaining players, whose hands were not dead, should continue with the game, which we did. However, I was told we should have just cancelled that game and begin anew. Who was right?

    You were, Barbara. Rule 10 on page 18 of the official rulebook.


    You don't throw in the game unless three players went dead.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 20, 2019


    The 2019 card and slam-exposing (part 2)

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Saturday, April 20, 2019 12:55 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Kathleen S
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Kathleen S
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Kathleen S
    >Message: Thanks for your help, Tom Kate
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    You're welcome, Kate. Thank you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 20, 2019


    The 2019 card (part 27) and slam-exposing (part #?)

    >From: Kate S
    >Sent: Friday, April 19, 2019 1:26 PM
    >Subject: 2019 card questions
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have two questions on the new card.
    >1. In the 2019 hands, the second hand with two suits. Since soaps are suitless when used as zeroes, I should be able to build this hand with a pung of 2s in any suit; a kong of soaps, and a pung and kong of 1s and 9s, respectively in the same suit, but different than the 2s. Do I understand that correctly?
    >2. When I go to the updates page on the NMJL site, where they update the card issue on the FFF 1111 2222 DDD hand, they also seem to be making a change in who gets a tile if two individuals call for it. Do I understand correctly that if I and another player both call for a tile, neither for Mahj, it is the player that begins to expose first that gets the tile as opposed to who is next in turn after the discarder?
    >Thanks so much!
    >Kate S B

    Hi, Kate! You asked:

    I should be able to build this hand with a pung of 2s in any suit; a kong of soaps, and a pung and kong of 1s and 9s, respectively in the same suit, but different than the 2s. Do I understand that correctly?
    Yes.

    Do I understand correctly that if I and another player both call for a tile, neither for Mahj, it is the player that begins to expose first that gets the tile as opposed to who is next in turn after the discarder?
    Not exactly. First in turn gets the tile, UNLESS another claimant exposes first.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 19, 2019


    The bettor is "pie"

    >from: franklin c
    >Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2019 3:43 PM
    >Subject: Money split when player is pie
    >Better bet on winning player, but one of the losing players can only
    >make partial payment due to becoming pie. How should the available
    >money be split between the winning player and the better?

    Hi, Franklin.
    Don't you think it's fair if the winner is paid first, before the bettor? If your group doesn't think that's fair, then split it 50/50.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 18, 2019


    How do I get listed as a teacher?

    >From: Megan Mc
    >Sent: Thursday, April 18, 2019 12:43 AM
    >Subject: Teaching
    >Dear Mr. Sloper,
    >I do not see, on your site, where I may register as an American Mah Jongg teacher for the area of Santa Monica, California. Would you help me with this please. I would really appreciate it as I am loving teaching and I am getting great results.
    >Very kindly,
    >Megan Mc

    You found it, Megan. Your announcement (your second email) is now on the Find Players/Teachers board, and the teachers list in FAQ 4A.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 18, 2019


    Is "12" a pair? Can I use a joker? Can I take a discard?

    >From: Susan H
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 7:01 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In addition hands are 12 considered a pair. If not can I use a joker or pick up from the discard pile ?
    >10smom247

    Hi, Susan!
    If I give you an apple and an orange, I have not given you a pair (and I haven't given you a pear, either*). A "pair" is two identical tiles. "12" is two singles. Read the back of the card, and look for the word "NEVER" halfway down the left pane.


    You can take a discard for a single or a pair only if it completes your mah-jongg hand.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 17, 2019

    *Sorry. It had to be said.


    A riichi link for FAQ 5

    >From: Lloyd W
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 5:04 PM
    >Subject: Riichi
    >I don't think you have any links to a site that has two great software Riichi games and links to sites in Japan. http://www.yuyukukan.com/ has two games that play better than the folks at tenhou. It.s very good practice. The links show a burgeoning MJ scene in Japan.
    >Lloyd W
    >Oil City, PA

    Lloyd, I looked at YuYuKukan but all it has is links to Web-Jong and Jan-Revo. It made no sense to post a link to yuyukukan, so I posted links to Web-Jong and Jan-Revo instead. As for the majan scene in Japan, it's been very lively since the nineties - doesn't fit my definition of "burgeoning," unless I'm missing something. But thanks for the links.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 16, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 26

    >From: Barbara P
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 10:35 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the 2018 card for the tiles that read
    >22 000 NEWS 111 88 (any one suit) - everything is shown in red except NEWS. Is the only tile that will satisfy the 000 the white dragon. Because it said “any one suit” I assumed that the 000 could be red dragons or green dragons as long as all of the numbers were in the same suit.
    >Thank you.

    Hi, Barbara! You wrote:

    Is the only tile that will satisfy the 000 the white dragon.
    That's what it says at the top of the card. That's the way it is.

    Because it said “any one suit” I assumed that the 000 could be red dragons or green dragons as long as all of the numbers were in the same suit.
    Read the top of the card. "WHITE DRAGON IS USED AS ZERO "0". IT MAY BE USED WITH ANY SUIT. (CRAKS, BAMS OR DOTS)" The wording of the universal rule trumps the color-coding of that one hand. I don't know why the League chose to show it in red and blue, violating one of their own color-coding rules on the back of the card.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 16, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 25

    >From: Lee C L
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 16, 2019 7:12 AM
    >Subject: Singles and Pairs? 2019
    >Tom
    >Under Singles and Pairs category-4th hand down. 11 22 33 44 55 66 77 (any run of 7 nos.) Can these be in different suits? It does not specify, and would be confusing if there were different colors shown.
    >Thanks so much for all your help!
    >Lee

    Hi, Lee! You wrote:

    Can these be in different suits? It does not specify
    Au contraire, the card does specify. Read the back: "1 color - any 1 suit." It's a one-suit hand.

    and would be confusing if there were different colors shown.
    I don't follow; I think the color-coding is not difficult to understand. Read the back.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 16, 2019


    I want to reverse-redeem a joker

    >From: Contessa
    >Sent: Monday, April 15, 2019 1:35 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am playing a hand from the single and pairs section. I draw a joker. An opponent has an exposure of 6 cracks showing. My I take one of the 6 cracks and replace it with my joker?

    Sorry, Contessa. Reverse-redeeming is against the rules. See FAQ 19-AL.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 15, 2019


    Column #717

    >From: seymour p
    >Sent: Monday, April 15, 2019 1:06 PM
    >Subject: 5 pairs
    >No doubt intentional, but try S&P #3 for 4 5-pairs!
    >Thanks for your insights!
    >Regard, Seymour

    Good, Seymour, but Lynn M beat you to it yesterday. Thanks for reading!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 15, 2019


    Thank you

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2019 6:36 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Lourdes G
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Lourdes G
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Lourdes G
    >Message: Thank you for your response.
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Lourdes! - Tom


    Column #717

    >From: Lynn M
    >Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2019 1:25 PM
    >Subject: Column #717
    >Hi Tom--
    >You asked if there are more hands that require pairs of 5s, and yes, there are more.
    >Odds #4 (2nd half), and S&P #3 (first half *and* second half,!, which requires 3 pairs of 5s!).
    >Great column!
    >Lynn M.

    Hi, Lynn! You wrote:

    yes, there are more [hands that require pairs of 5s]. Odds #4 (2nd half), and S&P #3 (first half *and* second half,!, which requires 3 pairs of 5s!).
    Nice! I'll add that to the column.

    Great column!
    Thanks! (^_^)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2019


    To bet or not to bet, that is the kerfuffle

    >From: bklynirene
    >Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2019 1:21 PM
    >Subject: A Better Betting Situation
    >Dear Tom:
    > Within my ten player Mah Jongg group, there are a few players
    >who prefer not to bet when they are out. There have been several
    >whispered discussions among those who do bet that this peculiar
    >situation needs to be addressed. We do our best to
    >honor the official Mah Jongg rules and always refer to the league's
    >handbook or your book whenever anything is in doubt.
    >This betting/no betting has caused a bit of a kerfuffle in our
    >usually cohesive and happy Mah Jongg -loving group.
    > Kindly provide any thoughts and suggestions to smooth
    >over this situation.
    >Thank you very much,
    >Irene

    Hi, Irene!
    I don't know what all the fuss is about. Players resent missing the chance to get an extra 25¢ if they win? Betting is an optional procedure, in my opinion. If I understood why people are getting all upset over this, maybe I could offer a suggestion.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2019

    P.S. Apologies for the language in the original reply.


    Consecutive Run, can't see the post on the bulletin board

    >From: Bruce
    >Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2019 7:03 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you for the [emailed] response but I reloaded the message many times and tried another device, and do not see your answer. Is there anyway you can respond back? We are playing later today and this was a bone of contention last week.
    >thank you
    >Bruce

    Okay, here you go. You asked:

    Can a consecutive run be all craks
    Yes, IF it's shown in just one color. See the back of the card. "1 color-any 1 suit." Three of the 2019 Consecutive Run hands may be made in all craks.

    made up of: 4, 5,6,7,and 8’s ?
    If there was a parenthetical saying "any 5 consec. nos." - but of the seven Consecutive Run hands on the 2019 card, only one of them uses five consecutive numbers, and that one has a parenthetical that says "These Nos. Only."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2019


    Consecutive Run

    >From: Bruce
    >Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2019 5:22 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can a consecutive run be all craks made up of: 4, 5,6,7,and 8’s ?
    >Thank you
    >Bruce M

    Good morning, Bruce. You asked:

    Can a consecutive run be all craks
    Yes, IF it's shown in just one color. See the back of the card. "1 color-any 1 suit." Three of the 2019 Consecutive Run hands may be made in all craks.

    made up of: 4, 5,6,7,and 8’s ?
    If there was a parenthetical saying "any 5 consec. nos." - but of the seven Consecutive Run hands on the 2019 card, only one of them uses five consecutive numbers, and that one has a parenthetical that says "These Nos. Only."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2019


    A bit of fun with pie

    >From: Pete S
    >Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2019 1:10 PM
    >Subject: What is "pie" continued
    >Hi Tom,
    >I read somewhere that the generic term for tiles is "pai". My thought is
    >the term was co-opted to mean the purse in the American game.
    >Also the artwork title. If the "birdie" is the One Bam than the little
    >girl with the green sticks must be planting Nine bamboo plants (maybe)
    >so the title would be just "13 Orphans". Just a thought.
    >Remember to always trust your cape!

    Hi, Pete!
    Yes, as I show in FAQ 6 (the "Mah-Jongg Rosetta Stone"), the word pai () is the word for "tile" or "card" in Japanese and Chinese. I suppose it's possible there's a connection with the American term for "purse limit" (Susan G, April 10, below) but I can't come up with a connection mechanism.
    As for Lynn P's friend's picture (April 10, below), I agree that the title probably is just "Thirteen Orphans" - I guess I got a bit too hung up on the scene in the middle. The girl is holding the Chinese character "fa" (, Green Dragon). I wondered if she was picking it up, planting it, or offering it to the bird. I keep forgetting you're not supposed to overthink art, just appreciate it. Hope I didn't say the wrong thing before.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 14, 2019


    Goodbye, 2018

    >From: Michele C
    >Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2019 9:18 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was inspired by your Year of the Pig Lunar New Year hand. So, with the arrival of the new 2019 Mah Jongg card, I decided to create a special hand commemorating the 2018 card going away. I live in the Tucson area so I thought you might enjoy this since I believe you live in the West, also. Let me know what you think!
    >Cheers,
    >Michele C
    >Marana, AZ
    >FFF WWWW 2 0 1 8 DDD (Craks & Dots only for 2018) Wildflowers are blooming as the West winds blow 2018 away, Good-bye.
    >We currently are having a bumper crop of wildflowers here in the West and the spring winds are picking up. Craks and Dots for 2018 signify the reddish dirt of the desert along with the white snow that we had this winter. The Green dragons signify the green plants after the winter rains and snow along with the G for Good-bye.

    Very nice, Michele! I live west of the West, actually. We don't see that many cowboy hats in L.A.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 2, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 24

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2019 6:13 PM
    >Subject: 2019 card
    >Hi Tom,
    >Margaret T ( in her 4/11 email) was very perceptive when she observed the frequency of "5's" occurring in the 2019 card. Since "5's" are so valuable this year, I'm thinking maybe I should avoid passing them in the Charleston except when absolutely necessary. (Like I avoid passing flowers.) I look forward to your comments!
    >Thanks, Linda

    Yes, one of the most interesting aspects of her observation is that fives become problematic for Consec hands in general, since five is the middle number.
    May the tiles be with you, Linda!
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
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    April 11, 2019


    Now I wonder, part 2

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2019 10:05 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Patricia P
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Patricia P
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Patricia P
    >Message: Thank you for what you do and for being there!
    >/Note/Note/Note
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Patricia!
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
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    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 11, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 23

    >From: Margaret T
    >Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2019 9:01 AM
    >Subject: 2019 NMJL Card
    >Hi. I always look forward to your comments about the new NMJL card every April.
    >I've noticed something in this year's card that may be unusual; you'd be the best judge of that.
    >One or more kongs of 5 could (or must) be part of 24 different hands:
    >Any Like Numbers hands #1 and #2 (the only concealed hand with a kong of 5);
    >Addition hands #1, #2 and #3 (both versions);
    >Quints hand #1 and (with a joker) Quints hands #2, #3 and #4;
    >Consecutive Run hands #2, #3 (both variations), #4 and #5;
    >both versions of Odd hands #1 and #3, first Odd hand #2, and Odd hands #5 and #6.
    >Of these 24 hands, at least one kong of 5 must be included in 11 hands.
    >Then, tack onto all that the fact that if any player exposes a kong of 5 with no jokers or only one joker, neither of the two variations of Consecutive Run hand #1 can be made in that suit -- and possibly one or both of the others, if that player is shooting for Any Like Numbers hand #1, or Odd hand #5 or #6.
    >Maybe something similar to this situation happens every year, and I've just never noticed. But 24 hands!?! That seems excessive, resulting in a lot of frustration -- except for the player who acquires 5s in the Charleston. There's always speculation around our table about whether the cards are computer-designed and/or computer-tested. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed this, after only a brief exposure to the card, so I'm inclined to think this was intentional. It could be fun! I'd like to know your reaction.
    >Thanks for your great site. It's helped us a lot.
    >Please don't show my full name, if this is posted.

    Hi, Margaret!
    I gather that the point is that fives are in high demand on this card. Yes, I did notice that, and am planning on mentioning it in the next column. To reply to selections from your email:

    One or more kongs of 5 could (or must) be part of 24 different hands:
    I find it so much simpler to simply focus on where fives "must" be used. But yes, food for thought!

    Maybe something similar to this situation happens every year, and I've just never noticed.
    Not really. It's usually more balanced.

    That seems excessive, resulting in a lot of frustration
    My advice is to avoid Addition and Odds unless you have the fives. And to avoid Consec #1 unless you have the pairs (expecially the fives) this year.

    There's always speculation around our table about whether the cards are computer-designed and/or computer-tested.
    I sincerely doubt that computers are used in the design and testing of the NMJL card. I'd be very surprised if computers were used the way your group thinks.

    I'm inclined to think this was intentional.
    Interesting.

    It could be fun!
    Huh!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 11, 2019


    if you pick up a tile for “2019”

    >From: Pam R
    >Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2019 7:17 AM
    >Subject: Re: 3 person play
    >Question: if you pick up a tile for “2019”, do you reveal immediately?
    >Pam.

    Hi, Pam! When you say "pick up" you might mean "calling a discard" or you might mean "pick from the wall." I'm not positive that you mean the former. The only time you can expose a "2019" is when you declare mah-jongg. And the only time you can call a discard for a 2019 is when it completes your mah-jongg hand. Read FAQ 19-E2.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 11, 2019


    Now I wonder if I was wrong.

    >From: Patricia P
    >Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2019 6:28 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We play Classical Chinese. A player called chow, took the discard and laid out her set. Then another (fairly new) player said, “I was going to pong that”. I told her she had to be quicker, and that the set had already been displayed. Now I wonder if I was wrong. To me, saying you were going to is not the same as saying pong, which we know overrides a chow.
    >Thank you for your response.

    You weren't wrong, Patricia. There IS such a thing as "too late."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 11, 2019


    What is "pie"?

    >From: Susan G
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 10:09 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: do you know the origin of Pie. And exactly what it stands for?

    Hi, Susan!
    Everything I know about "pie" is in FAQ 19-W2.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 10, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 22

    >From: tz1920
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 11:46 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: On the 2019 card in consecutive run is fff 1111 2222 ddd only 1’s and 2’s. And on The last consecutive run hand does the pair always ave to be the middle number
    >Trisha Z

    Hi, Trisha!
    As I wrote in the box above: No. Consec #5 may be made with "Any 2 Consec. Nos." See the National Mah Jongg League's FAQs page  (nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html).
    Yes. As I told Lourdes G (April 1), Marion B (March 31), and Jeanne R (March 30, below): yes. The pair in Consec #7 has to be the middle number.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 10, 2019


    A bit of fun

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:53 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong Greetings from Bishop
    >Hi Tom,
    >One of our Mahjong players had a bit of fun doing this little sketch. We thought you may get a kick out of it. Guess the real title?
    >Lynn Peterson


    Hi, Lynn!
    I guess you mean the title of the art. Let me guess: "Thirteen orphans and a bird planting a tree of Fortune." Or "Thirteen orphans presenting Fortune to a bird." (If anybody doesn't know what I'm on about, just Google "thirteen orphans.") Am I close? Thanks for sharing!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 10, 2019


    Can a player call a pause so she can figure out what other players are doing?

    >From: Robin G
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:13 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: can a player stop the game to see what hand another player has after an exposure?

    No.
    Robin, every player owes it to the other players to try her best to keep the game flowing at a reasonable pace.
    A player can think about her own hand and her opponents' exposures while the other players are taking their turns. It's bad enough when a player's inability to reconcile her own tiles with the card causes a slowdown in the game; it's worse when she slows down the game so she can try to figure out what another player is doing. We all have to try to do our calculations in the interstices of play, as best we can.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 10, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 21

    >From: ████ W
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 9, 2019 8:50 AM
    >Subject: Dragon Pung Hands
    >You say that there are six Dragon Pung Hands on the 2019 card. I can only find Five. Will you please list them? Thanks.
    >Don’t list my full name, Just, watsonr. Thanks.

    Hi, watsonr! I imagine the one you didn't consider is 2019 #4. It requires a pung of white dragon (so is not shown as DDD but rather 000).
    1. 2019 #4
    2. Any Like #2
    3. Consec #5
    4. W-D #6
    5. 369 #3
    6. 369 #6
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 8, 2019


    Do I really have to pay for the table if I throw to 3 exposures?

    >From: Peri K
    >Sent: Monday, April 8, 2019 4:53 PM
    >Subject: MJ question
    >Is it a NMJL rule or table rule that you must pay for the table if you throw the winning tile to a player that has 3 exposures and there is only one possible hand
    >Peri K

    Hi, Peri! Please read FAQ 19-Y. If paying for the table was an official rule, it would be on the back of the NMJL card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 8, 2019


    Saying "same" when discarding a joker, part 2

    >From: Nancy M
    >Sent: Sunday, April 7, 2019 9:46 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On back of the 2019 card it states,"jokers may be discarded at any time during the games and named the same as previous discard". Our group does not understand the second part of the statement. Hopefully you can help and many thanks in advance!

    Hi, Nancy! Kudos to your group for reading the back of the card! Louise W asked about this rule just yesterday (immediately below this response). As I told her, you can read FAQ 19-G3 for a full explanation of this confusing rule. If the explanation is not explanatory enough, email me again with a followup question, and I'm sure I can clear it up. At least you're not unclear on the concept of discarding a joker (my beginner students always ask, "why on Earth would anyone ever do THAT??").
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 7, 2019


    Do I have to say "same" when discarding a joker?

    >From: Louise W
    >Sent: Saturday, April 6, 2019 7:58 AM
    >Subject: Joker in Mahjongg
    >Hi Tom,
    >On back of card, it says "Jokers may be discarded at an time during the game and named the same as previous discard." A couple of questions about that statement:
    >When discarding a Joker do you have to name it the same as previous discard, or can you just say "Joker"? Secondly, what is the advantage of naming it the same as previous discard?
    >Thank you.
    >Louise W

    Louise, the rule says jokers MAY be named same as previous discard. The rule does not say jokers MUST be named same as previous discard. Read FAQ 19-G3 for a full explanation of this confusing rule.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
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    April 6, 2019


    Hong Kong app, part 5

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Saturday, April 6, 2019 5:48 AM
    >Subject: Joe and Hong Kong Style Mahjong
    >Hi again Tom,
    >Just to let Joe know (hoping he comes back to read this), I downloaded and tried the same app; it definitely has bugs! For example a win on discard was shown as self-pick (and scored as such), but there were other bugs I found too.
    >I did win on All Pungs, so the software, at least on one occasion, recognised the hand and scored it correctly.
    >There was no minimum Fan set at first, and I couldn't initially find a simple means of setting one.
    >There are different types of play, Beginner, Intermediate etc. - some use flowers, some not. The app differentiates these as increasing levels, it wasn't totally clear but would probably be reasonable to assume that this equates to increasing minimum Fan requirements. I tested this assumption with a low scoring hand on a higher level of play; the software prompted that the hand was too low a level (i.e. I intepret that as insufficient Fan). The ability for the software to do this prompting can be switched off.
    >All Pungs (the hand Joe illustrated) looked to score 4 Fan (it's described in the app as a level4 hand). For this to be insufficient to win, Joe must either have been on the highest level (level 6, assumed minimum 6 Fan) or Joe experienced another bug. If you look on the image Joe supplied, at the top is the level...yes, it's level 6, so his hand doesn't have enough Fan - he only has 4 Fan, he needs 2 more.
    >I think Joe would be better learning on Mahjong Time - standard terminology and bug free (at least when I've played)!
    >Illustrated in the image is the message when I tried a low scoring hand on a higher level game.
    >Ray

    Good work, Ray! I agree that Joe would be better off using a different app. I'll let him know that you have helped so he can come back and get the definitive answers about Hong Kong style. Thank you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
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    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 6, 2019


    Hong Kong app, part 4

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Friday, April 5, 2019 1:45 PM
    >Subject: Joseph's Hong Kong hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >Isn't Joseph's Hong Kong style hand (Thursday April 4th) worth 3 fan (all pungs) and therfore would most likely meet the minimum fan criteria (which if I recall is usually 3 fan)?
    >Regards
    >Ray

    I'd sure think so, Ray! Who knows what is going on with his app. Might be a bug, or it might be set higher than 3 fan, don't know if it even adheres to 3 fan for All Pungs.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 5, 2019


    Mahjong at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

    Dear readers,
    I've mentioned this before. Things may be shaping up for mahjong to be recognized as an Olympic mind game. See http://www.ejinsight.com/20170803-mahjong-eyed-for-2022-beijing-winter-olympics/. Thanks to Ray Heaton for the link.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 5, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 20

    >From: rosemary b
    >Sent: Friday, April 5, 2019 11:21 AM
    >Subject: 2019 card question
    >Hi Tom.
    >The 3rd hand down under 2019 section says “Any 2 or 3 suits”. Does that mean the “2019” can be the same suit as one of the dragons?
    >Thank you for your help.
    >Rosemary

    Yes, exactly. This hand was also on the 2017 card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 5, 2019


    The "slam-exposing" rule

    >From: Leslie
    >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2019 2:52 PM
    >Subject: NMJL FAQs Claiming a Tile
    >Tom ~
    >Please address the NMJL’s online FAQs section, specifically points #2 & #3. What’s your take on this? Would it not then be a good practice to start an exposure even prior to verbally calling the tile, to insure no other player can lay claim to it? (For instance, I hear a Flower discard, Ithen quickly place a Flower from my hand on the rack so I’d be assured of claiming that discard.) And how do you define “started” to expose tiles? Thank you.
    >Leslie Z.

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2019 2:33 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Leslie A Z
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Leslie A Z
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Leslie A Z
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you for the generous donation, Leslie! You wrote:

    Please address the NMJL’s online FAQs section, specifically points #2 & #3. What’s your take on this?
    I have long said that I dislike the way the rule is written. The new writing on the League's FAQs page today is a little new, but still problematic.

    I'm the one who coined the phrase "slam-exposing" (the subject line of today's Facebook thread), here on this website. Someone in the thread agrees with how I interpret this rule (despite the way it's currently written): the act of exposing is not intended to aggressively cut off opposing claims. I imagine one could use this rule if time is passing silently after someone discards a tile. The next-in-line may be sitting there thinking. In my opinion, if she thinks more than 3 seconds (the length of the Window of Opportunity in Chinese Official majiang), another player is free to speak and expose. It is required to speak the claim. Someone in the Facebook thread mentioned something about just putting tiles up, without verbalizing; that don't fly.

    I saw on the Facebook group today Ray Heaton's suggestion that I (or Michelle or Johni, or all of us) petition the League to change the rule. I don't roll that way. I interpret official rules - I don't try to get them changed. Larry and David Unger read my site now and then; they already know my stance on this. I think it takes more than a small handful of people to influence great changes.

    Would it not then be a good practice to start an exposure even prior to verbally calling the tile, to insure no other player can lay claim to it?
    If "good" equates with "aggressive" in your mind, then yes (I suppose). Also, note that in the rulebook it says it's  "preferable" to take the claimed discard onto the rack before exposing from the rack.

    how do you define “started” to expose tiles?
    I interpret it as meaning you have placed at least one of your concealed tiles atop your rack.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
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    April 4, 2019


    Hong Kong app, part 3

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2019 2:38 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Joseph I
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$20.00 USD from Joseph I
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $20.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Joseph I
    >Message: Thank you for providing this service to Mah-Jongg enthusiasts!
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    You're very welcome, Joe! Thank you! I hope my suggestion to check the settings helped.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    April 4, 2019


    I thought I had priority? (Hong Kong app, part 2)

    >From: Joseph I
    >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2019 11:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My Mah-Jongg question or comment is:
    >I’m using an app to play Hong Kong style mahjong against bots. Flowers, Seasons, and special hands are allowed.
    >I had the following hand:
    >2 exposed pongs:
    >- 3 of dots
    >- 4 of characters
    >1 exposed Kong:
    >- 6 of dots
    >1 concealed Pong:
    >- 3 West Winds
    >And an East Wind.
    >A player discarded an East Wind, which I thought was all I needed to Mahjong.
    >The “player” to my left claimed the East Wind for a Pong.
    >However, I thought I had priority since the discarded tile would have completed my hand.
    >Why didn’t the app, “Hong Kong Style Mahjong”, offer me the tile to complete my hand?
    >Am I mistaken in my understanding of winning through discarded tiles?
    >Thank you!
    >Joe
    >PS. My hand is the bottom hand. This snapshot was taken after the player to my left claimed the East Wind tile for an exposed Pong.

    I suspect that there's a minimum fan requirement in place. All you have of value is the pung of West, which is not your wind. I refer you to FAQ 17, and you should check your app's settings.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 4, 2019


    Why didn't the computer give me the win? (Hong Kong app, part 1)

    >From: Joseph I
    >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2019 9:59 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I’m new to Mahjong. I’ve been studying Hong Kong style Mahjong and have been practicing on apps with bots.
    >I had a hand with an honors pong, a chow, a pong, 2 white dragons and 2 of the same winds.  I self-drew a third white dragon. I thought I had a Mahjong since my hand included 1 chow, 1 pong, 2 honors pongs, and 2 of the same wind tiles. 
    However, after I self-drew the third white dragon, I had to discard one on my wind tiles. 
    Do you know why when I self-drew the third white dragon tile and had 2 of the same wind tiles in my hand it wasn’t a Mahjong?
    Thank you so much!
    Joe

    Hi, Joe!
    I don't know. I didn't make your app. It might be that your app doesn't permit a chow in an otherwise all-pung hand. Or maybe it defaults to a minimum fan count to qualify for winning. Check the game's settings. If you haven't read FAQ 17 yet, I recommend you do.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 4, 2019


    Block convention, part 2 (The 2019 card, part 19)

    >From: Leslie S
    >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2019 8:19 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I did write to the person who used the term “block convention”. This is what she wrote back:
    >"Each hand on the NMJL card is displayed in blocks using colors, letters, numbers. Each block is separated by a space to show components of the hand which creates a shape (i.e., pattern, convention). Some conventions are so popular, the have names. Here are a couple of examples: Pair pung - kong pung pair (pyramid)Kong pair - pair pair kong (gate)Pair pung kong quint (ascending)Kong pung kong pung (knitted; two suits with Dragons matching the middle pung)"
    >Leslie S

    Okay, Leslie, so she's using the word "block" to mean "grouping" and "convention" to mean what I have been calling "shape." For instance, I teach my beginner students about "four pungs and a pair" hands (the usual "shape" of the Concealed hand at the bottom of 2468, Consec, Odds, W-D, and 369). I teach my intermediate students about the biannual alternating shapes found at the top of Consec: even years, Consec 1 has the pairs clustered at the end, but on odd years the pairs are at opposite ends (yes, that latter shape is rightly called a "pyramid" based on ancient NMJL card terminology), and how Consec 2 alternates between pung-pung-kong-kong and pung-kong-pung-kong. Different writers sometimes use different terminologies, sometimes because they haven't been exposed to other terminologies, and sometimes out of preference.
    Glad you cleared that up, Leslie!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 4, 2019


    I count 66 hands on this card (The 2019 card, part 18)

    >From: Andrea K
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 3, 2019 8:31 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My Mah-jong question or comment is:
    >I count 66 hands on this card and you posted that there are 53.
    >Are you not counting the variables for the this OR that hands?
    >Thank you,
    >Andrea

    Correct, Andrea. Consec #1 is counted as one hand, although there are 2 ways it can be made (low or high). An addition hand is counted as one hand although there are 2 ways it can be made (1 suit or 3 suits). The count is based on line items.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 4, 2019


    Hilsons

    >From: tooelemountains
    >Sent: Thursday, April 4, 2019 12:30 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am wondering about why there are two names for 1920's mah jongg sets made by Hilsons. Sets marked Hilsons are sometimes named on the case and their rule books as Ma Cheuck but Hilsons sets sometimes (much less often) have another name (I think it is Mah Chiang but I don't recall for sure).
    >The rule book in their sets with either of the two names seem to use the same rule book title: "Hilson's CHINESE GAME known in China as Ma Cheuck.
    >My question is why do you suppose Hilsons changed the name of the game which they were selling in the 1920s?
    >The only ideas I can think of was just they thought a new name might be more catchy and help sell their game. Or maybe Hilsons was warned that they must change the name of their game or be sued over some copyright issue.
    >I'm not 100% sure which of those two names Hilsons used first.
    >All the many companies' 1920's sets I see on eBay have their own particular name for the game, but they seem to have used one game name for all their sets. Except for Hilsons for which I've seen two names.
    >Rob and Linda

    Rob and Linda, I am not an expert in manufacturers. I don't recall ever encountering the name "Hilsons" until you mentioned it. I don't think it's unusual for a manufacturer to change its branding.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 4, 2019


    I want to sell it

    >From: Joyce G
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 10:07 AM
    >Subject: Want to Sell Vintage Mah Jong Set
    >I have a Mah Jong set that I bought about 45 years ago at a street fair. It has 146 pieces (missing #3 and #5 Craks) and 8 blanks, Winds and Dragons.
    >I believe it is Bamboo and Bone but it could be ivory. The bottom of the box says, “made in China."
    >I’m attaching photos of the pieces and the box it came in. I’d like to sell it and would like to know where I can sell it and if you are interested. If not you, can you recommend a buyer?
    >Thank you.
    >Joyce G

    It is not ivory, Joyce. I think I see some Haversian streaks in one of your tiny blurry photos. Besides, if it was ivory, it would be illegal to sell it without a special government permit. See the "Is It Ivory" FAQ. Also see the Tips For Sellers FAQ. If you want to post your set for sale on my Sets For Sale Bulletin Board, I permit only one photo. Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 3, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 17

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 4:54 PM
    >Subject: 2019 Card Q
    >Hi Tom...you mentioned: 7 hands are new (not seen on any card as far back as 2000, which is as far as I checked). Being new to the game, I'm curious to know, what are these 7 hands that appear to be new, or more than 19+ years amiss)?
    >Thanks for all you do!
    >Debbie

    Hi, Debbie!
    The hands I deemed "New" are:
    Odds #5, #6
    W-D #4, #5
    369 #6
    S&P #6
    I changed my mind about Quints #3 (which I listed when I replied to Christine, below). It's similar to a 2017 Quints hand, the difference being this year's hand includes DD instead of FF. So I moved it to "Variation on a previous hand," and I'm revising the column.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 2, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 16

    >From: Christine B
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 4:56 AM
    >Subject: 7 hands that are new since 2000
    >Good Morning Mr Sloper,
    >I was hoping you could please share the 7 hands that are new since 2000
    >I have been playing since 2012. I don't go back that far in my cards to
    >compare
    >Thank you
    >Christine

    Hi, Christine!
    The hands I deemed "New" are:
    Quints #3
    Odds #5, #6
    W-D #4, #5
    369 #6
    S&P #6
    But now that I look at them again, I think I may be incorrect. I may have to redo the column and the pie chart.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 2, 2019


    Block convention what? (The 2019 card, part 15)

    >From: Leslie S
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 11:14 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > What is meant by “block convention”? It was a term used by someone online explaining details about the new card. She said, “This is a variety card when it comes to block conventions.” I have no idea what that means.
    >Leslie S

    I don't know, Leslie. Email the person who said that. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 2, 2019


    Conflicting claim

    >From: Elayne W
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 6:39 AM
    >Subject: Mahjongg Q
    >A player and I both both called for a tile at the same time. It went to her because she called it for mahjongg ( and was also closest in turn to the person who discarded it). However, because it was for a closed hand, she was deemed dead. Should the tile in question then go to me, or is it just out of play? Tx, EW

    >From: Elayne W
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 7:20 AM
    >Subject: Never mind
    >Found the answer in one of your previous columns. Sorry for not reading it first. May the tiles be with you. Always appreciate your column.
    >EW
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Hold on, Elayne. Your player who was "deemed dead." If all her tiles were concealed up until she declared mah-jongg on the discard, SHE IS NOT DEAD. A concealed hand is permitted to be completed with a discard. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 2, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 14

    >From: "janet2181
    >Sent: Monday, April 1, 2019 1:40 PM
    >Subject: Question on 2019 card
    >Consecutive Run Section - fifth hand down: FFF 1111 2222 DDD - do the numbers have to be ones and twos or can you use a run?
    >Thanks - Janet S

    Hi, Janet! As I wrote above and several times below:
    FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25
    MOST LIKELY, this hand is intended to be made with Any 2 Consec. Nos.
    See many posts below. And keep checking the National Mah Jongg League's FAQs page (nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html) for the official say-so.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    April 1, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 13

    >From: Lourdes G
    >Sent: Monday, April 1, 2019 7:39 AM
    >Subject: 2019 card last hand of consecutive run
    >111 22 333 222 222 (2019 card concealed last hand on the consecutive run)
    >1123 11111 11111 (Quints 2018 card)
    >For the 2019 hand, can the pair (as in the 2018 card) be any place?
    >e.g.
    >11 222 333 111 111
    >or
    >111 222 33 333 333
    >Thanks for your help!
    >Lourdes G

    Hi,Lourdes!
    As I told Marion B and Jeanne R Saturday (below), I do think that only the middle number can be the pair, since there is no parenthetical saying otherwise. That Quints hand had a clarifying parenthetical.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
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    April 1, 2019


    One player picked out of turn and a second player also picked before the error was discovered

    >From: buddyandjanice
    >Sent: Monday, April 1, 2019 7:25 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is the rule if a player has drawn and racked her tile and the next player draws a tile only to learn that play is out of turn and should have been the next players turn? THank you Mr MAhjong for your answer!!!! Janice
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Janice!
    If one person plays out of turn, she's dead. If a second player follows suit and picks also out of turn, I think all tiles should be thrown in. Either that, or the second player is also dead. The rulebook doesn't go into cascading death errors.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 1, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 12

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Monday, April 1, 2019 7:07 AM
    >Subject: 2019 card observations
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was excited to see the new card--we played with it yesterday and I had some thoughts on the new and old hands.
    >1. 2019 # 4 hand allows either 2 or 3 suits. I think this may be confusing to some who don't look closely.
    >2. Addition hands are an interesting variation from the usual.
    >3. It's curious to me that Winds/Dragons #2 is not in the 2019 section.
    >I'm always interested in your analysis of the new card each year. Thanks for doing that!
    >Best regards, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    I'll be writing more observations in the next column. Stay tuned!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    April 1, 2019


    Appraisal

    >From: Linda S
    >Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2019 7:09 PM
    >Subject: Shelk-MJ set appraisal - 1 of 2 email
    >Dear Mr Sloper: I am enclosing information about a Mah Jongg set I have recently acquired from a friend. We have agreed that our price will be determined by your appraisal. You offer a wonderful service to those of us involved with the fascinating game. You may use any and all information about this set on your web pages. I will be attaching four photos to a separate email. Please advise me if you need anything additional.
    >Linda S
    >1) Factual detailed list on the contents of the set.
    >+One wooden traditional carrying case
    >+Four burgundy racks with metal ends and 99 plastic chips in five various colors. (red, blue, green, yellow, white)
    >+eight “butterscotch” tiles, perhaps flowers. Obviously, not part of the original set and not counted in the total 148.
    >+ Tiles: bams, craks, dots, dragons, winds, flowers, blanks. Total 148
    >+No jokers
    >+two red dice
    >+one key, probably to the case but the locks don’t work
    >2) No paper materials
    >3) The tiles appear to be made of bone and bamboo. (Except the butterscotch colored eight.)
    >4) My friend’s father purchased the set about 1984 in Anchorage Alaska from a Goodwill type of store.
    >5) Dimensions: H 7/16” W 1-1/8” D 3/4”. Bone and bamboo split even, about 1/4”
    >6) How many tiles of each?
    >+One suit each of bams, craks and dots, each with four tiles of numbers 1-9. Complete.
    >+Dragons - 4 each, green, red and white
    >+Winds, 4 each of East, South, West and North
    >+Flowers - 8 total -- Four traditional design and four unusual designs
    >+Blank tiles - 4
    >+No jokers or tiles with stickers
    >+Total tiles — 148
    >7) One worn brown carrying case with Mexican decals. Two lengthy trays inside the Burgundy interior. A handle and two locks which don’t work
    >8-12). See photos in second email.
    >Linda S

    Hi, Linda!
    It's a Frankenstein - a set cobbled together from parts of two sets. Your bone and bamboo tiles are in an American case, with extra tiles added for American jokers (not yet stickered). As a set, it's worth maybe $50. A vendor or collector might want it to cannibalize its parts, and they might (or might not) pay more than $50 for its parts. Good luck!
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 31, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 11

    >From: marion b
    >Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2019 1:19 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you for responding so quickly.


    The 2019 card, part 10

    >From: marion b
    >Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2019 11:21 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: 2019 card concealed hand consecutive run..11122333 222 222 ..is only the middle number a pair of can the ones or the three be used as the pair ie.11222333 111 111 or 11122233 333 333 as in the quints 2018 card. Hope you can answer this question. Thank you

    Hi, Marion!
    As I told Jeanne R yesterday (below), I do think that only the middle number can be the pair, since there is no parenthetical saying otherwise. That Quints hand had a clarifying parenthetical.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    March 31, 2019


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Sunday, March 31, 2019 8:22 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.00 USD from Jana B
    >You can view the details for this transaction by logging in to your PayPal account and clicking the "History" tab.View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Jana B
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Jana! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
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    March 31, 2019


    The 2019 card, analyzed - Column 715

    Dear readers,
    Column 715 has been posted. First part of a multi-column series on the 2019 card.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom
    March 30, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 8

    >From: Jan P
    >Sent: Saturday, March 30, 2019 2:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: new card 2019. Under consecutive run, 5th one down.....did the league mean to leave out ‘any 2 consecutive #s’, or does it have to be the actual numbers 1111 2222 DDD. Any suit.
    >Thanks & sorry if this was asked before.
    >Jan

    Hi, Jan!
    FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25
    MOST LIKELY, this hand is intended to be made with Any 2 Consec. Nos. See todays' previous posts for more details.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 7

    >From: Jeanne R
    >Sent: Saturday, March 30, 2019 1:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Two questions on the 2019 card;
    >1. Consecutive Run line 5; FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 suit); Usually it says "any 2 consecutive numbers" in paratheses. Is it "these numbers only" this year?
    >2 Consecutive Run line 7; 111 22 333 222 222 (Any 3 consecutive numbers, pungs match pair." Do you think the pair should always be the second number in the run, or can the pair be the first or third number in the run?
    >Many thanks.
    >Jeanne

    Hi, Jeanne! You asked:

    Is it "these numbers only" this year?
    FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25
    MOST LIKELY, this hand is intended to be made with Any 2 Consec. Nos. See earlier posts below for more info.

    Do you think the pair should always be the second number in the run,
    Yes.

    or can the pair be the first or third number in the run?
    No, a parenthetical would be required.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 6

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Saturday, March 30, 2019 5:31 AM
    >Subject: 2019 Consecutive hand #5
    >Hi Tom, I see you’re still waiting for your new card and already getting questions about a hand contained on it.
    >This hand, consecutive #5 FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit), is the one in question and several people have called the NMJL and have been told that any 2 consecutive numbers is correct even though that information was left off the card.
    >TimA

    Thanks, Tim!
    Last night when I got home around 9PM, I found my card in my mailbox. I examined the question of Consec #5 and concluded that it's probably supposed to be any 2 consecutive numbers (see part 5, below). Still - it's not official until the League posts this in writing on nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 5

    Dear readers,
    Every year, there is some hotly discussed flaw on the annual National Mah Jongg League card. I got 4 emails, 3 of them asking about Consec #5 on the 2019 card, all before I even had my own card. The League will post an FAQ at nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html and then we'll know for certain. And all the stuff written below will be moot.

    Consec #5 on the 2019 card is: FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25.

    The question of the year is, "does it have to be ones and twos only?" Until the League answers this on their FAQs page (nationalmahjonggleague.org/faq.html), the players can't all know for certain. I, too, cannot answer with certainty. It's complicated, as explained below.

    In the absence of an official answer, we can be guided by:
    (1) General principles gleaned from years of cards;
    (2) Logic based on previous versions of this specific hand.

    1. General principles that apply:
    1.a. In the absence of parenthetical words saying "Any 2 Consec. Nos." or some such, a hand usually must contain the numbers indicated (FAQ 19-AJ).
    1.b. Conversely, the absence of the parenthetical phrase "These Nos. Only" can indicate that the numbers do NOT have to be "these nos. only." But note that this year Consec #1 (for the first time ever) includes the phrase "These Nos. Only" even though the phrase is unnecessary (based on principle 1.a. above).

    2. Previous versions of this specific hand varied from year to year: until now, it has always been FFFF 1111 2222 DD and FF 1111 2222 DDDD. This year's version is different in that the flowers and dragons are both pungs. This is a break from long tradition, when flower pungs only came in twos (like a split sextet), and dragon pungs were rare due to their strategic implications. Every year this hand has always been "Any 2 Consec. Nos." Given that the phrase "These Nos. Only" is shown in Consec #1 for the first time ever, and that the text even had to be squeezed to fit, the absence of the phrase "These Nos. Only" on Consec #5 - with plenty of room for the phrase - indicates that, most likely, the hand is intended to be made with... you know... any 2 consecutive numbers.

    3. Until the League clarifies, in writing, each table needs to hold a discussion, vote, and agree on their own interpretation of the hand. You can use the arguments in #2 above to sway the votes towards the probable answer. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 30, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 4

    >From: Susan T
    >Sent: Friday, March 29, 2019 4:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the 2019 card should the 5th hand down in the Consecutive Run catagory be “any 2 consecutive numbers, any 1 suit”?
    >Thanks!
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan!
    I can't answer questions about the 2019 card until I get one in my mailbox. Check back in a few days. Maybe mine is in the mailbox now and I'll get it when I get home tonight. Or maybe it'll come tomorrow. I cannot promise when it will arrive.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 29, 2019


    The 2019 card, part 3

    >From: Mary T
    >Sent: Friday, March 29, 2019 11:27 AM
    >Subject: 2019 Card
    >Hope you get your card soon! Also wondering about consecutive run, #5 hand, on the 2019 card. Doesn't indicate, "Any 2 Consec. Nos," but doesn't indicate "These Nos. Only" either.


    The 2019 card, part 2

    >From: Carol C
    >Sent: Friday, March 29, 2019 7:01 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Do you have any information written about the 2019 card? IMO the 3rd hand in the 2019 section might be confusing to new players. Referring to using 2 suits although it is written in 3 colors.
    >Carol C

    Hi, Carol!
    I can't write anything about the 2019 card until I have seen it. Check back in a few days.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 29, 2019


    Is her discard dead?

    >From: Ilene P
    >Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2019 4:40 PM
    >Subject: Dead hand in mahjong
    >I couldn’t find this question in my rules, hope you can help. If a player picks from the wrong end of a wall I understand their hand is dead. However, during our play we realized she picked from the wrong end of the wall AFTER she discarded her 4 dot. Another player called that 4 dot tile for an exposure, is that tile dead as well or does it return to the wall and we continue play? Thanks ilene

    Hi, Ilene!
    I found myself getting distracted by all the details of your question. Is this a fair rewording of your question? --> "A player made a fatal mistake and discarded, before it was noticed that she was dead. Is her discard alive, or does it have to be taken back from the discard floor?" If that is a fair rewording of your question, the answer is easy: The discard is alive, available for play. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 28, 2019


    Where to place a called discard

    >From: Nancy C
    >Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2019 5:50 PM
    >Subject: Where to place a called discard
    >There have been lengthy conversations in our groups regarding the placement of a called discard. On page 40 of your book it states that a called discard may not be placed on the sloping part of the rack however I have not been able to find support for this in the NMJL book. Several of my fellow players contest the “dead” call I have made when this has occurred. Clarification please. ??

    Hi, Nancy!
    Your fellow players surely understand that a taken discard cannot reside on the sloping front of the rack; that it can come to rest only on the top surface of the rack (together with the other tiles that make up the exposure). I couldn't find the rule you cited, not on page 40 of my book. Perhaps you're talking about rule 60.b. on page 52, about when one picks up the discard, brings it to the front of the rack, and places it into the concealed hand in the process of picking up the completed grouping, preparatory to exposing it? May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 28, 2019


    Consec #5, or is it Consec #3... OR... is it 2018, or is it 2019...???

    >From: Gail E L
    >Sent: Thursday, March 28, 2019 8:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Under ‘consecutive run’
    >The hand with 1’s and 2’s and dragons (5th hand down)
    >Should it read ‘any 2 consecutive numbers)?
    >Thank you Gail

    I beg to differ, Gail! That's not Consec #5, that's Consec #3. Assuming we're talking about the 2018 card... wait a minute... you don't already have the 2019 card, do you? I hate it when people ask me about the new card when I don't have it yet. If you have the 2019 card, all I can say in response to your question is: "probably." May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 28, 2019


    One claimed the discard while the other picked her mahj tile

    >From: Dawn E
    >Cc: Dawn E
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 9:02 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Player Number 2 Discards.
    >Player Number 3 Draws the tile from the wall and looks at it. (Doesn’t rack it as Player Number 1 calls the tile that Player Number 2 Discarded.)
    >Before Player Number 3 returns the drawn tile to the wall to enable the Called tile by Player Number 1, she sees that the tile she would have drawn would have been her MJ tile.
    >Her Question: If upon looking at the Drawn tile she had immediately declared MJ, would she still have to return the tile to the wall and allow Player Number 1 to collect the Called Tile? Recall that she had not yet racked the tile.
    >I have asked this question of several friends who have played for many years and the thoughts are vary.
    >What would you say?
    >Thank you in advance for your guidance.
    >Dawn in Oceanside

    Hi, Dawn in Oceanside!
    They say timing is everything.
    The reason they say it is that it's true.
    Based on what you wrote, is this the sequence of events that happened at your table?
    Player 3 draws tile from wall and looks at it.
    Player 1 calls for the live discard.
    Player 3 starts to move her hand toward the wall.
    Player 3 stops because she realizes it's her mahj tile.
    Is that the correct sequence of events? What happened next? Inquiring minds want to know!
    In general, a mah-jongg claim trumps a call for exposure - even if they're not both wanting the same tile. It's not a race to see who speaks first, but there is such a thing as waiting too long. If the called discard is racked and/or if the exposure is made before the picker speaks her claim for mah-jongg, the claim is too late. Did player 1 rack before player 3 spoke? May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 28, 2019


    Craftmaster serial number 640731 series of 1915.

    >From: Hillary H <hillaryjane
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 6:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have several vintage maj jong sets. One looks left like a traveling set. It’s a Craftmaster tile serial number 640731 series of 1915.

    I have one of those too, Hillary! Thanks for sharing! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 27, 2019

    P.S. FAQ 7G mentions Craftmaster's patent application.


    Thank you

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2019 10:15 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Toni W
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Toni W
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Toni W
    >Message: Thank you for maintaining this excellent site!
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks for the donation, Toni! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 26, 2019


    Who deals next?

    >From: Carman W
    >Sent: Sunday, March 24, 2019 10:26 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Beginning the first game we determine who is East by the roll of the dice. Who follows as the next/2nd East? To the right or left if the 1st East?
    >Thank you!
    >Carman

    Carman, the dice move counterclockwise. After you roll the dice and break the wall, you place the dice to the right for the next dealer. See page 15 of the official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy."


    This is the League's official rulebook. It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 24, 2019


    Looking for a particular set

    >From: Kitty Carter <kitty.carter@me
    >To:
    >Cc: tomster@sloperama
    >Sent: Sunday, March 24, 2019 9:10 AM
    >Subject: Eastern Majhong set
    >Dear Tom:
    >Do you have any suggestions to where I can purchase the set listed below?
    >I can be reached at wcarter3 at gmail.com.
    >Thank
    >kitty carter
    >Don't worry about anything; instead, PRAY about everything. Philippians 4:6

    Not offhand, Kitty. Try the vendors listed in FAQ 4A and FAQ 4B. If you live in California, see FAQ 7K. Looks like you're seeking a particular set with specially marked flower tiles and Malaysian "Fly" tiles. Probably available in Malaysia. I don't know about that bow-and-arrow tile, never saw that one before. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 24, 2019


    Can she redeem more than one joker, part 2

    >From: NANCY S
    >Sent: Friday, March 22, 2019 5:29 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you, Tom. Learned a lot today. A new player and loving the game so far.
    >Do you also post tips and strategies for MahJongg?
    >Thanks, N Smith

    Yes, I do, Nancy. Click the purple banner for card-specific tips and strategies.

    Also, FAQ 8(a) describes general strategies and tips for all mah-jongg variants, and FAQ 8(e) lists some American strategies not specific to one card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 22, 2019


    Can she redeem more than one joker in a turn?

    >From: NANCY S
    >Sent: Friday, March 22, 2019 3:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >During a play can a player exchange his tiles for two jokers from a player's exposed hand?
    >Played today and a player did this and did not think correct for usually one tile is thrown or exchanged, but not two during one play.
    >Need your reply. Thanks.
    >N. Smith

    Hi, Nancy!
    You've asked FAQ 19-N: Yes, you (or anyone) may exchange up to 8 jokers in one turn, as long as you're holding 14 tiles at the time (you can't redeem jokers when it's not your turn).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 22, 2019


    Set value determination

    >From: B Jack
    >Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2019 8:43 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah Jongg Set Value Determination Checklist
    >Dear Tom:
    >I have viewed your recent response on your bulletin board to my request to determine the age of my Mah jongg set which you have said was probably in the 40s - thank you very much for that information!
    >This email includes your completed checklist to help determine the approximate value this Mah jongg bakelite set.
    >I have answered all questions fully and completely and am attaching the completed document as well as all related pictures (JPG).
    >I understand that this is not a private determination and will be posted on your website.
    >I appreciate and thank you for taking the time to help me discover more about the value of my Mah jongg set.
    >Sincerely
    >Barbara J
    >Attachments:


    Hi, Barbara!
    I didn't notice on Sunday that you'd asked not only the age but also the value. Your set is somewhat interesting to collectors because of its fancy use of silver paint (not a common feature). But your set cannot be used to play modern American mah-jongg, since it is a Frankenstein. It was OK back then to use mismatched flowers, but today no player would want a set in which some tiles are obvious jokers, stickered over flowers from another set (which is what would have to be done). Also, some unknown number of your scoring chips are from another set.
    For a player who doesn't use chips anyway, the negative for this set is still the need for matching jokers. Nobody who wants to use your set to play should buy it, unless they have a closet full of other 1940s sets to cannibalize, or are prepared to go through the long frustrating process of finding replacement tiles from one of the vendors on the Tiles For Sale Bulletin Board.
    For a collector interested in having your set because of its variant designs and use of silver paint, the negative is its condition. Your case is Fair. The chips are Fair. You say the racks are Good. The tiles, in my opinion, are in VG-Fine condition. A collector would probably not want to put the tiles in a new case and replace the racks and chips, so the condition of those items is important.
    It's an example of a Forties American set, in not-great condition. I doubt a collector would want it so much as to pay $200 for it, but it's remotely possible. Then again, you might have difficulty finding a collector to pay as much as $100 for it. So, I'm guessing a range of $90 to $150. If it's by a known and sought-after manufacturer (which I wouldn't know, since I don't know manufacturers), then bump it up an unknown amount - but it's still in not-great condition, and condition is important.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 21, 2019


    Is it ivory, part 2

    >From: V.A. E
    >Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2019 7:22 AM
    >Subject: Re: MahJongg question
    >Thank you for the quick reply!
    >You're right, I am happy it's not ivory.
    >But if not, what is it then?
    > I had read your articles on determining what it might be, but cannot figure it out...
    >Hartelijke groeten,
    >Véronique v

    Hi Véronique,
    Your tiles are bone. See FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C-3. I don't know what wood they're backed with. Some dark wood, not bamboo.
    If you want more information about old sets, you might want to try the Other Excellent Mah-Jongg Sites links at the bottom of FAQ 4A.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 21, 2019


    Is it ivory?

    >From: V.A. E
    >Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2019 6:17 AM
    >Subject: MahJongg question
    >Hi Tom,
    >I really enjoyed your website and found most of what I need.
    >I have played MahJong for many years, got devorced and now have a different set, without any western numbers, so need to figure these out before we can play again.
    >I found most of that, thank you for that!.
    >My set is very dirty (was given to us as a farewell present in Singapore), and before I can clean it I should find out what it's made of: I'm thinking it could be ivory...?
    >Can you have a look please? And maybe you would know how old it is?
    >Let me know if you need more pictures?
    >Thanks a lot already!
    >V. van den Heuvel


    Goedemorgen, V.!
    It is definitely Singaporean. It has the special Singapore-style flower tiles.
    It is not ivory. See FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C-3 (the "Is It Ivory" checklist). See that closeup of the corner of the tile - a rough tool has been used, it looks like. Not the high-quality craftsmanship one would see on genuine ivory.
    You should be glad the set is not ivory. No elephant died, for one thing. For another, if it was ivory, you'd have a problem selling it within the law.
    It is nevertheless a nice collectible. Be very very careful cleaning it - you don't want to wash the paint off. The paint is probably water-soluble! See FAQ 7-O for cleaning tips.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 21, 2019


    What if there is no parenthetical saying "any nos."

    >From: pat d
    >Sent: Thursday, March 21, 2019 5:38 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: On the 2018 card Consecutive Run #1, it says “or”. So, are we restricted to only 1-5 and the 5-9 runs? I tried 4’s thru 8’s and was shot down.

    Hi, Pat! You wrote:

    [In Consec #1,] are we restricted to only 1-5 and the 5-9 runs?
    Yes. See FAQ 19-AK.

    I tried 4’s thru 8’s and was shot down.
    Quite right.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 21, 2019


    How much time can someone take to make a decision?

    >From: buddyandjanice
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 6:40 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If two players want the same tile, not for a MAhjong, I kno the player next in line gets it, ibut if she decides she’s not sure she’s gonna take it, how long does she HAv to decide?

    Hi, buddyandjanice!
    I've written about slow players in my columns and FAQ 19-BA, but be advised that my thinking on this matter is evolving. Despite what I wrote before, Now I say, Let it slide. I don't recommend getting into fights about how long someone takes. If you complain about how long it takes for some players to make decisions, they may be apologetic at first, but then they may get angry at further complaints. Best to just sit quiet. It's up to you whether or not you want to play with someone who consistently takes a long time to make decisions, slowing down the game.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 20, 2019


    Alzheimer's Association: Mah Jongg for Memories

    >From: Rachel Schall
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 12:10 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg for Memories
    >Dear Tom ,
    >I am reaching out to tell you about Mah Jongg for Memories, an exciting new event for the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day fundraiser. Through this event, the generosity of Mah Jongg players will soon be helping to fund care, support, and research for the over 5.8 million people in the United States who are living with this disease and other dementias, and their nearly 16 million caregivers.
    >Here’s what Mah Jongg for Memories is all about. Around June 21 (The Longest Day of 2019) Mah Jongg groups across the country will be dedicating their regular play-days to the Alzheimer’s Association by making donations to the cause. Also, other players will be holding more elaborate and larger day-long fundraising events. Some will have lunch and silent auctions, while others will enjoy snacks and donate their day’s winnings. All, however, will combine the fun and challenge of Mah Jongg with the objective of ending Alzheimer’s, the all-consuming disease that threatens the mental ability of every Mah Jongg player.
    >We are asking for your help in spreading the word about Mah Jongg for Memories to your students, groups, and other Mah Jongg players. If any of your contacts want to get involved, we can help them get organized. We hope you will join us as we connect Mah Jongg groups around the country to create a significant impact on future research and services.
    >I would love to meet with you or set up a call and can even quickly help you or others register for this event online. If you have questions or would like more information, please contact me at 323.486.6447 or reply to this email. Let’s get “crakking” to have some fun and fight Alzheimer’s at the same time!
    >Thank you!
    >Rachel
    >Rachel Schall
    >Events Manager | Alzheimer's Association, California Southland |O: 323.486.6447 | C: 818.426.1605 | rkschall@alz.org | www.alz.org/thelongestday

    Hi, Rachel!

    We are asking for your help in spreading the word
    Done! (The word is hereby spread.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 20, 2019


    Mystery pieces

    >From: Sally S
    >Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2019 11:36 PM
    >Subject: A set of unmarked Game Tiles...but for what game?
    >Dear Tom,
    >I found your Mah Jongg blog and it is very informative, so I am hoping you can help identify these. This set of tiles in this 11” long presentation box was donated to our club. These tiles have no markings on them...just plain ivory, very clean. The donor thinks they are Chinese from possibly the 1920’s. They are in Saran Wrap to keep from losing any.
    >Dimensions are:
    >- Small rectangular tiles are 1 1/8” long X 3/4” wide.
    >- The longer rectangular tiles are 2.25” long X 1/2 inch wide.
    >- Round ones are 1.25” in diameter.
    >- All are much thinner than a poker chip.
    >- I have not counted them, but visually it looks like several hundred.
    >None of my Chinese friends have ever seen anything like this, and have no idea what Game this set could be used for. Have you ever seen a game set like this? And what game are they for, please?
    >Thank you so much,
    >Sally Smith

    Hi, Sally.
    They're not mah-jongg pieces. I don't know what they are. Good luck!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 18, 2019


    Exhaustive list of Asian Mahjongg calling hands

    >From: "Alec.Stephenson
    >Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2019 6:29 PM
    >Subject: calling/ready hands list
    >Dear Tom,
    >I could not find an exhaustive list of (non-American) Mahjong ready/calling hands on the web so I created one myself using computer generated tables.
    >Each hand also gives the required tiles for hand completion and the number of outs.
    >It is as attached. If you feel it would be of interest to your readers please feel free to include it on the strategy section of your site.
    >Best,
    >Alec Stephenson
    >Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO
    >Adj Prof, Swinburne University
    >Attachment: emh.pdf

    Very nice, Alec!
    For my readers who may be interested, I'm renaming the file to make it discoverable in one's own local download folder or documents folder, or mahjongg folder (if they have one). I'm calling the file CallingPatterns-AsianMJ.pdf.
    The file is located on the Web at sloperama.com/downlode/ (in the "mahjongg" folder).
    Some info about the file for the readers on this board:

  • There are 13,973 patterns, in 10 tables, 220 pages in all.
  • Data for each tile pattern: "Require," "Outs," and Edge Cases ("EC").
  • "Require" means how many tiles will complete the pattern and win the Mah Jongg hand.
  • "Outs" means how many ways there are to complete the pattern and go Out (Mah Jongg).
  • "ECs" (edge cases) occur when a terminal is involved at one end (edge) of the pattern. The combinations in the tables are indicated with "L-" for Left-hand edge cases or "-R" for Right-hand edge cases, or "LR," or are marked "--". Don't ignore those little dashes on the right for "L-" and on the left for "-R." That's a visualization aid. Think of the terminal as a barrier beyond which the 3-number sequence can no longer shift left or right along the spectrum 123456789. From 123, you can shift the numbers right to 234 and up. But you cannot shift left from 123 to 012. There is no zero in Asian mah-jongg. For example, the pattern 4555689 contains the incomplete chow 789 (but missing the seven). Because of the presence of the -89 pattern, the shift is closed on the right (can't shift beyond 9). That's a Right-hand edge case, "-R." The pattern -23- can shift left as far as 12- and right as far as -89, so is marked "LR" on the EC column. You could think of L as 1 and R as 9, but not really. This explanation of handedness may be incomplete or oversimplified; it's explained in the document.

    Very cool project, Alec! Thanks very much for sharing it. I'm copying this post to FAQ 8.B.. May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    St. Patrick's Day, 2019


    Set age determination

    >From: B Jack
    >Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2019 10:23 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Set - Age Determination Checklist
    >Dear Tom:
    >I am sending you a completed checklist to help determine the approximate age of a beautiful Mah jongg set I acquired recently.
    >I have answered all questions fully and completely and am attaching the completed document as well as all related pictures (JPG).
    >I understand that this is not a private determination and will be posted on your website.
    >I appreciate and thank you for taking the time to help me discover more about my set.
    >Sincerely
    >Barbara J
    >Attachments:

    Hi, Barbara. This photo that you sent tells me the answer to your age question.
    Your set has 10 flowers, to which another 10 have been added, for a total of 20 flowers and zero jokers. Per the NMJL Flowers/Jokers table in column 509, your set was probably made in the forties. A prior owner added more flowers in order to comply with changes in the NMJL card.

    1937-1942 8F
    1943 12F
    1944-45 14F
    1946 16F
    1947-48 18F
    1949 20F
    1950-55 24F
    1956-57 22F
    1958-60 20F
    1960-62 14F/2J
    1962-66 12F/4J
    1966-67 8F/6J
    1967-68 10F/6J
    1968-71 6F/8J
    1971-Present 8F/8J

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    St. Patrick's Day, 2019


    The age of a set, part 2 - and are they catalin?

    >From: Stacey C
    >Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2019 10:11 AM
    >Subject: Re: Do you still help people define the age of their set?
    >Hi Tom,
    >According to your website, my set was probably created between 1950 and 1955. However, I was wondering if you would confirm that and see if you might have more history. The 1 Bams seem to be very unusual. In the past 14 months, I have played on 11 other sets and none have 1 Bams that look like mine and I have played with 14 other people and none have ever seen 1 Bams that look like mine.
    >This set is the set my mother played with (I know she was playing in the 70's), it's the set I play with and the set that will be passed on to the next generation. It is Catalin made by Cardinal. Does that mean the tiles are Catalin as well as the racks?
    >The set has 168 tiles - 40 Crack, 40 Bams, 40 Dots, 16 Winds, 8 Jokers and 8 Flowers - plus an additional 16 Flowers.
    >6 of the jokers are original, 2 are nail polished. I don't know if we lost 2 along the way or if 6 was the original number of jokers.
    >The 8 flowers (that I use) are 4 different designs, 2 of each.
    >The additional 16 flowers are another 4 different design, 4 of each.
    >The original set had 5 racks, coins and a counter.
    >The dimensions of the tiles are: 30.81mm high, 22.80mm wide, 12.86mm deep.
    >I have attached pictures of the full set, racks, additional flowers, Cardinal paperwork and the 1 Bams. If you should need more specific pictures, please let me know. As I stated earlier, this set will be passed down to the next generation so any additional history you can provide would be appreciated.
    >Thank you,
    >Stacey

    Hi, Stacey.
    Those three photos that you sent tell me the answers to your age question. Your set has 16 flowers and 6 jokers. Or 24 flowers and 6 jokers (you seem to have flowers in two different pictures). It came with two blanks, which are now marked J. Per the NMJL Flowers/Jokers table in column 509, your set was probably made in the sixties.

    1937-1942 8F
    1943 12F
    1944-45 14F
    1946 16F
    1947-48 18F
    1949 20F
    1950-55 24F
    1956-57 22F
    1958-60 20F
    1960-62 14F/2J
    1962-66 12F/4J
    1966-67 8F/6J
    1967-68 10F/6J
    1968-71 6F/8J
    1971-Present 8F/8J


    Back then, the NMJL was playing around with the numbers of flowers and jokers. The manufacturers had to scramble to try to not only keep up but also predict what customers would need in their sets.

    Your yellow insert prices the NMJL card at 35¢, which was crossed out and replaced with 50¢. That dates the yellow insert to 1967.

    The tiles are catalin, and the racks are probably also catalin.

    That's all the information I have about the questions you asked. As stated in several places on my site, I'm not an expert on sets or manufacturers. If you want to research more about the set's manufacturer, you can try the links in FAQ 4a.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    St. Patrick's Day, 2019


    Are these mah-jongg tools, part 4

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Friday, March 15, 2019 8:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, I read with interest Micah's question and the information that Ray added. I believe Ray's tool on the right is a calligraphy pen, as Ray said a dipping pen. I do not know what the one on the left is for, but as a child I remember our secretary type desk had a set of calligraphy pens that included one or two pen sticks that nibs would fit in. Both of Ray's photos shows the tips that are exactly like those nibs. Perhaps these were calligraphy tools from China and just kept with the Mah Jongg set.
    >Bee

    I think I had a set of those steel-nib pens in college for art class, or maybe I was experimenting with calligraphy in the seventies. But mine certainly weren't Stanhopes. - Tom


    Are these mah-jongg tools, part 3

    >From: micahh
    >Sent: Friday, March 15, 2019 5:40 AM
    >Subject: Re: mah jong tools
    >This is very interesting, but I have searched these tools and can not find any stanhopes. There are two pieces that have the small glass like pieces inside, but i dont see any images in them. I sure wish they were there! Thank you so much for the help researching. Do you know who I might take these tools to to investigate further?

    I know nothing if it's not about mah-jongg, Micah. Good luck!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    The Ides of March, 2019


    Online Chinese Mahjong.

    >From: Bobbie J
    >Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2019 6:22 PM
    >Subject: Game
    >Can you give me the name of a website to play online Chinese Mahjong.
    >Thank you,
    >Bobbie J

    Hi, Bobbie! I have links to online Chinese mahjong games in FAQ 5. Try some of them until you find one that you like. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    The Ides of March, 2019


    Are these mah-jongg tools, part 2

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2019 2:20 PM
    >Subject: Micah h...stanhopes?
    >Hi Tom,
    >I think some of the "tools" that Micah showed on Wednesday may be what are called Stanhopes. Dating from 1860 or so, these were carved amongst other things as dip pen holders, knives and letter openers (Micah has each). Micah would need to look very closely to discover if they are Stanhopes.
    >Here's a description and a couple of example photos...
    >Stanhopes are small, often utilitarian, objects that have been set with a tiny lens, which, when held to light and close to the eye, reveals a tiny photograph. The microphotograph itself is no bigger than the size of a full stop, but is magnified when viewed through the lens.
    >There's plenty on the internet about Stanhopes, and if they prove to be Stanhopes I think each of Micah's will be of some value, $150 or so.
    >Regards,
    >Ray

    Wow, Ray, great find. It definitely looks like you've solved yet another mystery! May the tiles be with you, Ray.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 14, 2019 4:30 PM


    Need engraving

    >From: R Twersky
    >Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2019 10:32 AM
    >Subject: engraving tiles for jokers
    >Hi Tom,
    >I just bought a set and need to get jokers engraved. It’s a machine engraved set and the tiles are made from Melamine. Do you have anyone that does this. In California is preferable.
    >Thanks in advance!
    >Renee T

    Sorry, Renee, but it seems like people who were usually the go-to mah-jongg engravers keep retiring or going on hiatus. You can check FAQ 7-O and follow links -- or just do a Google search for any and all engravers in your area. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 14, 2019 11:30 AM


    Are these mah-jongg tools?

    >From: micah h
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 2:10 PM
    >Subject: mah jong tools
    >Hi....my name is Micah, and i was hoping you could possibly help me. I recently won some items via a local estate sale auction. There were three items sold as a bundle. Two of the items were books from the late 1800s and the 3rd item was a cigar box full of mah jong pieces. The pieces included many of the sticks used in the game, some dice, a few tiles, and some tools. The tools are what have brought me to writing you. They appear to be the tools that are used to create mah jong sets. All of the pieces are not your ordinary pieces typically found. First, they all appear to be made of bone or possibly some of ivory. This includes the tools, game pieces, and a bracelet that was also in the cigar box. The tools look like they were created with great skill. They have very cool designs and actually screw together on several of them becuase the carving tool is inside. I will include photos to this email. You may not know anything about this, but I thought since you know the art that possibly you or someone you know could help me discover what i have come to recently own. Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.
    >Micah H


    Hi, Micah!
    Your two tiles, your three dice, and your uncounted scoring sticks are mah-jongg pieces. Nothing else in your box has anything to do with mah-jongg. Your tiles and dice and sticks are of negligible value (and only a seller or collector can use them -- as spare parts). Finding a buyer for them may be more trouble than they're worth.
    Your tools might be for clay sculpting or something like that. I can't help you with them or their value. Good luck!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 13, 2019, 4:45 PM


    The age of a set

    >From: Stacey C
    >Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2019 1:04 PM
    >Subject: Do you still help people define the age of their set?

    Why, yes, Stacey. I still do that. Before somebody asks me about their set, they should first read FAQ 7G, and do the set age determination checklist, and send photos. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 10, 2019 2:30 PM


    Can I call Pung for a mixed Pung?

    >From: mike m
    >Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2019 5:09 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Are you able to call Pung for a mixed Pung?
    >Cheers, Chris

    Hi, Chris!
    No. I suppose you play Australian/British/Western mah-jongg, or possibly Wright-Patterson rules. You can't claim a discard for a knitted/mixed pung, unless the discard gives you mah-jongg. Knitted sets are not exposable (just as pairs are not exposable). If your variant has a rulebook, you should consult it and see what it says about mixed or knitted pungs. I list variant-specific books in FAQ 2B. See FAQ 3 for details on books.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 7, 2019 6:20 PM


    Her tiles are not viewer-friendly, part 2 (Jan. 31)

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2019 8:42 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I haven't been here in awhile so I am catching up. Love reading all the questions and your answers.
    >Re: your answer to Kathleen on 1/31 concerning the player who places her tiles in the wrong order and some upside down. Your answer was a great one! Courtesy should prevail! Why make it difficult for other players to verify your hand? If you want MJ, then let them see it easily. Most tournaments have a rule that once MJ is declared and a player asks you to place it in the correct order you must do so. It only makes sense. If the player refuses and she throws in her hand without it being verified I don't think she should get credit for it. How easy just to place it in order and announce which hand it is. This would not be a player I would enjoy playing with.
    >Bee

    Great to see you, Bee. Thanks for the comment! If only everyone would simply be considerate of the other players... May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 7, 2019 8:50 AM


    Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's hand?

    >From: dody v
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 6, 2019 6:44 AM
    >Subject: when a perosn claims mahjong in error and it has jokers can the cont players claim the jokers

    No, dody. See FAQ 19-P.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 6, 2019 9AM


    Can I claim jokerless bonus, part 2

    >From: Vteneick
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 5, 2019 1:53 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you! Just read it on the back of my card... never knew it was there.

    You're welcome, Vteneick! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 5, 2019 2PM


    Can I claim jokerless bonus if somebody redeemed my joker?

    >From: Vteneick
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 5, 2019 11:57 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing for money, if you expose part of your hand with jokers to complete a pung or Kong combination, and the jokers are replaced by other players, can you count that as a pure hand that doesn’t contain jokers if you make Mah Jongg?

    Even if it's not for money, Vteneick! You'll find the rule on the back of the card, in red text.


    "EXCHANGED JOKERS FROM AN EXPOSURE CAN MAKE THE HAND JOKERLESS."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 5, 2019 1:30


    Is it really a rule that a Charleston pass must not be stacked?

    >From: Mary Jo R
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 5, 2019 6:45 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Charleston
    >Some of the new people I have played Mah Jongg with say that it is a rule that during the Charleston you must pass the three tiles face down flat on the table (not stacked in any manner.) Except that for the second left when you must have 2 tiles flat on the table and the third tile stacked on them. The person who has taught many of them instilled this rule. One lady emphasized that this is the way she plays with her friends in her home town, and that it is a rule enforced in the tournaments she plays in her home town. Is this an official National Mah Jongg League rule? I can't find anything written about the physical arrangement of tiles as they are passed in the Charleston.
    >Thank you,
    >Mary Jo R

    Hi, Mary Jo!
    The rulebook does not say anything about that. In fact, I teach my students that the second left pass must be stacked like a pyramid. But the rulebook says nothing about that, too.


    This is the League's official rulebook. It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.

    I will nevertheless continue teaching my students to lie all passes flat and the second left as a pyramid. This practice has practical benefits. It's easier to see at a glance that the pass contains three tiles when they lie flat. It's important to demarcate the difference between the first and second left visually as well as audibly. I teach my students to always say "first left" and "second left," not because it's a rule - it isn't - but because it reduces missteps in the Charleston.
    So: it's not a rule, but it is a beneficial practice. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 5, 2019, 7:10 AM


    The Mystery of the Five Racks, part 2

    >From: Caryl L
    >Sent: Monday, March 4, 2019 8:44 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much. Sorry I didn’t find those questions in your faq’s, you’re very gracious to answer me anyway!
    >Caryl

    No problem! I had to think pretty hard to remember where that was, myself! You're welcome. Now: March forth, and may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March Forth, 2019, 10PM


    The Mystery of the Five Racks

    >From: Caryl L
    >Sent: Monday, March 4, 2019 6:28 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Why are there 5 racks in a vintage set? Was there once a 5-handed game?
    >Also, when looking at some early cards, rather than having monetary values listed after the hands, it says something like 140-280, indicating Non E- East. Apparently, in the beginning, East was paid double for MJ, but double what? When did that change?
    >Thank you for your help in figuring out the mysteries of our favorite game. I really appreciate it.
    >Caryl

    Hi, Caryl!
    Yes, there was and is a 5-handed game. As I wrote in FAQ 7-D, It was because Americans used to keep score with the chips, which were stored on the end of the rack. So when you got up from the table temporarily to let another person sit in your seat, naturally you'd have needed to take your chips (thus your rack) with you. 

    As for the scoring on those old cards, it's points (not money). In the 1937 rules, each player started with 300 points' worth of colored plastic chips on the rack. The two numbers represent "single limit" (single winnings) and "double limit" (double winnings). East pays the double amount in the case of a loss, and collects double amount in the case of a win. So:
    If you see 5-10 on the card, the winner collects 5 from the others, unless one of them is East. If a non-East player wins, East pays the winner 10. If East wins, everyone pays East 10.
    I assume the 140-280 is from a later year, when perhaps players played with more than 300 points. I got the "limit" and 300 points from Viola Cecil's 1937 book "Maajh" just now. But now my momentum has waned. If more needs to be explained, just ask and I'll check another book. Now: March forth, and may the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March Forth, 2019 8:00 PM


    Do you have a newsletter?

    >From: Lorraine M
    >Sent: Sunday, March 3, 2019 6:57 PM
    >Subject: Newsletter
    >Do you have a newsletter? If so, how can I sign up for it?
    >Thank you,
    >Lorraine

    Sorry, Lorraine. No, I do not have a newsletter. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 3, 2019 7:30 PM


    My group plays with a hot wall, and a question came up...

    >From: Vernessa E
    >Sent: Sunday, March 3, 2019 3:16 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We are in the hot wall and I pick the mahjong tile myself from the hot wall. Am I paid double because I picked it myself and another double because we are in the hot wall ?

    Sorry, Vernessa. But I do not know how your "hot wall" rules work. I can help you with the official rules only. Read FAQ 19-Y and FAQ 14. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 3, 2019 7:00 AM


    If you question and they tell you what they have up is the start of a hand, do you get a penalty?

    >From: Irene W
    >Sent: Friday, March 1, 2019 4:09 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: if you question someone exposed tills and they tell you what they have up is the start of a hand. Do you get a penalty?

    Hi, Irene!
    I'm sorry but I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Are you asking "if I ask someone if she's dead, and she says no, do I get a penalty?" That question is answered in FAQ 19-AB. The thing is, like I wrote in FAQ 19-AA, if you ASK someone if she's dead, you are calling her dead. (You can't weasel out of making a death challenge by phrasing it as a question.)
    If I have misconstrued your question, and those two FAQs miss the target, try again to ask your question and I'll tell you what you want to know.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    March 1, 2019, 5:30 PM


    The player who took the tile for mah-jongg was in error, and now she's dead

    >On Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 9:33:37 PM PST, buddyandjanice wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Both myself and player on my left called MAhjong for same tile, she got it because she was before me seat wise, but she proceeded to lay her MAhjong on her rack, realizing her MAhjong was incorrect! Since I called MAhjong at the same time and hers was wrong do I HAv the option of taking the tile and making my MAhjong?????? Janice

    Yes, Janice. See FAQ 19-H4. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 28, 2019 7AM


    Thanks so much for your clearly written explanations!

    >On Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 7:53:31 PM PST, service@paypal wrote:
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Christine B. You can view the transaction details online .
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
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    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Christine B
    >Message: Thanks so much for your clearly written explanations! I finally understand discarding jokers when "dogging".
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thanks, Christine! Glad you found something useful among my ramblings! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 27, 2019 8PM


    Can she have a do-over? (part 3)

    >On Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 7:22:27 PM PST, Teddi T
    >Thanks for getting back to me.I guess I was not clear on the exposure part.
    >Glad to hear that you are up,and working again. I agree it is frustrating.
    >Teddi

    I'll have a look at FAQ 19-AM-2 and see if it needs amending. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom
    February 26, 2019 7:35 PM

    [Checked. FAQ 19-AM-2 already included wording about exposing in the course of a mah-jongg declaration, so no amendment necessary. - Tom]


    I want to grow the game and teach properly

    >On Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 4:46:30 PM PST, Dianna S
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I really like your acerbic answers,just saying. I want to grow the game,I want to teach properly.I need directions.

    Thanks, Dianna. If FAQ 26 doesn't give you enough directions, my email is working again. Just saying! (^_^) May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 26, 2019 7:15 PM


    How do we make this boring game more exciting?

    >On Tuesday, February 26, 2019, 7:21:16 AM PST, Star Firewrote:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I don't have a rule question, but I'm wondering if you can help me. I'm the director of a group of 36 Mah Jongg players. We play once a week and it gets a little boring doing the same thing every week. I'm looking for a source that will give me ideas to kick up our games a notch... games to play while playing Mah Jongg. One week I found several cards from different years of Mah Jongg all the way back to 1992 and handed them out so each person had a different card to follow and it made them really focus, and no one could assume what anyone was playing. Do you have any suggestions where I could find some fun ideas to add a little challenge to our group?
    >Thanks so much!
    >Star

    Hi, Star.
    So your group enjoyed playing with non-identical cards, eh? Well, I'm sorry but I don't have much to offer you. Your group could try doing what the ladies in Mumbai do - let each dealer declare the table rules for that deal. (They play a variation on Australian/British rules, not American.)
    Or you could teach your group how to play basic Chinese rules (it's more like rummy than American mah-jongg is).
    Or you could just wait a month for the new card. Boredom with American mah-jongg is always at its highest after January.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 26, 2019 7:00 PM


    Can she have a do-over? (part 2)

    >On Friday, February 22, 2019, 5:58:04 AM PST, Teddi wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Further to my question Teddi T on February 20, 2019
    >The tile was still in her hand and had not been placed on the rack. It was as she was starting to expose that part of the hand that she realized that she had the incorrect tile in her hand and wanted to return the incorrect tile to the table and pick up the correct tile for the mahjong.
    >Thanks for your response
    >Teddi T
    >Sent from my iPad
    >
    >On Friday, February 22, 2019, 12:19:04 PM PST, Teddi wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Further to my question Teddi T on February 20, 2019
    >The tile never touched the top of the rack or any part of the rack. It was still in her hand.
    >Thanks for your response to this question.
    >Teddi T
    >Sent from my iPad
    >
    >On Sunday, February 24, 2019, 10:50:32 AM PST, Teddi wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Further to my question Teddi T on February 20, 2019
    >Just thought you should know that one of the other players contacted the National Mahjong League about this question and the following is what she was told by them:
    >“Once you have picked up the tile to call Mahjongg and have exposed any of your tiles, the Mahjongg is in error.”
    >So although the tile in error was never exposed nor any portion of the pung that it was part of was exposed, the Mahjong is considered in error because some of the tiles in the hand had been exposed as part of the call for Mahjongg.
    >Thanks for your response to my question
    >Teddi T
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi Teddi,
    Sorry that my email was down from Thursday April 21 until today (Tuesday April 26). Long story, don't ask! As I said last Wednesday, "If she picked it up and it's in the air, she can put it back." That was assuming she didn't also expose tiles from her hand as part of her mah-jongg declaration. You did right contacting the NMJL. You didn't tell me* that the player had exposed tiles as part of her mah-jongg declaration. If you had told me that, I would have told you exactly the same as the League.
    Sorry again about the days-long delay in responding. It was difficult for me, believe me!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 26, 2019 6:30 PM

    * I didn't see the import in what you said: "but realized it before all the tiles were exposed." It didn't get through to me that she had done more than pick up the discard. - Tom, 2/27/19


    Email, part 2

    Dear readers,
    I have been unable to access Sloperama.com emails. The webhost is working on resolving the problem. As a temporary measure, if you have mah-jongg questions, you can send them to [DELETED now that the outage is over]
    Tom
    Friday 2/22, 8:30 PM


    EMAIL TROUBLES

    Dear readers,
    If you have emailed me a question since the morning of Thursday Feb. 21, the reason I haven't replied is that I haven't seen it. Hoping to get it resolved while also working a full day. Hang in there!
    Tom
    Friday 2/22, 8:30 AM


    Your hand for the Year of the Pig

    >From: Lynn M
    >Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2019 11:27 AM
    >Subject: One of our group got your hand!
    >Lynn M

    Look at that! The Year of the Pig hand from column 714! What fun!

    Thanks for sharing, Lynn!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 21, 201911:45 AM


    She was declared dead after discarding - is the discard dead too?

    >On Thursday, February 21, 2019, 8:49:14 AM PST, Regina P wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player exposes a pung and then immediately discards before the table recognizes that the exposure has made the player dead, is that discard available to the table for calling?
    >I have read and reread your information on going dead, being called dead, etc., but can’t find any explicit information on the matter of a discard and whether or not it is in play. If it’s there, I am sorry to have missed it. Thank you.
    >Gina P

    Hi, Gina.
    There is no rule saying that any discard is dead and may not be claimed (other than jokers). Her discard is available for claiming (as long as it's not a joker). May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 21, 2019 9:25 AM


    Can she have a do-over?

    >On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 5:41:42 PM PST, Teddi T wrote:
    >I have a question for you.
    >A tile was discarded and called for mahjong. The player erroneously picked up the wrong tile but realized it before all the tiles were exposed*. The tile that was picked up erroneously was not yet displayed. Can the player change the incorrect tile for the correct tile?
    >Thanks
    >Teddi T

    How far did the tile move, Teddi? She picked it up, and you're saying she didn't touch it to the top of her rack? If she picked it up and it's in the air, she can put it back. See FAQ 19-AM-2 (the "change of heart" FAQ, also known as the "oops, undo!" FAQ). May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 20, 2019 8:05 PM

    * It appears that I missed the import of these words. It didn't get through to me that she had done more than pick up the discard. - Tom, 2/27/19


    The 1986-87 NMJL card

    >On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 5:19:25 PM PST, Nita P wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hi Tom – I recently received a set of 1986/87 cards as a gift. We noticed that there is a section of jokerless hands on the bottom right of the card. A couple of the hands have kongs in them, which usually allow jokers. My question is this: may a player make an exposure of a kong with a joker in it, in the hopes that either someone else will trade out a matching tile or that the player herself will draw the 4th matching tile and remove the joker? I understand that if this does not occur, the hand would be ruled dead because of the illegal exposure based on the category of the hand, but if the hand ultimately ends up with all four matching tiles and no jokers, is that a legal hand?
    >Thanks!
    >-Nita P

    Hi, Nita! You asked:

    may a player make an exposure of a kong with a joker in it, in the hopes that either someone else will trade out a matching tile or that the player herself will draw the 4th matching tile and remove the joker? I understand that if this does not occur, the hand would be ruled dead because of the illegal exposure based on the category of the hand, but if the hand ultimately ends up with all four matching tiles and no jokers, is that a legal hand?
    All I know is the wording on that card:

      Jokers may be discarded for Jokerless hand or Jokers may be USED to switch to any other hand.

    Since I wasn't playing back then and never personally dealt with the question of No-Joker Hands with kongs, I can't tell you if exposures were permitted with jokers. If they were, of course, it would be very risky to redeem a joker from someone's kong. Making her jokerless also gives her a hand. You'll have to ask someone who was playing back then. But would it be certain that that player had the official word, or just the rule that was used at her table? You could ask the League, but it might require some archival digging to find the answer. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 20, 2019 8:05 PM


    I think it's an unfair rule

    >From: Rose B
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 1:45 PM
    >Subject: Calling for discards
    >Mr. Sloper:
    >I am not sure which is the correct email address to use; thus I sent to both. Also your website is a treasure of information and I thank you for it.
    >My question has to do with claiming a discard and specifically rule I3 (below). I understand the question and answer but have a slightly different scenario.
    >Q – If the first claimant called for a discard for an EXPOSURE – not a MJ - and it is incorrect (a single or pair or whatever), does the second claimant get the discarded tile?
    >*************
    >Q: What if the player who took the tile for mah-jongg turns out to have been in error, and now she's dead? Does the other claimant get to take the tile now?
    >A: It depends. If both players wanted the tile for mah-jongg, then yes. The second claimant takes the tile to win. But if the second claimant wanted the tile for exposure, no. She may not have it; it stays in the dead hand.
    >*************
    >As I said above, I understand the Q&A of I3 but do not agree with it. But rules are rules and I play by the rules. This one just doesn’t seem fair.
    >Why should the second claimant be penalized for the error of the first claimant? Also, at some point, player’s usually know what their opponent needs for a MJ based on exposures. So this would be a way to sabotage an opponent’s MJ. I obviously am not trying to rewrite the rules of the game, but just wanted to sound-off and give my opinion. And, yes, I know it is not worth anything…..!
    >Thanking you in advance, I am
    >Rose B

    Hi, Rose!
    To address some of your points:

    just wanted to sound-off and give my opinion.
    Well, okay. You'll need to give that opinion to the folks who are in charge, if you want to argue for changing it. Their address is on the card.

    Why should the second claimant be penalized for the error of the first claimant?
    I don't imagine that was the intent of the rule (to penalize the conflicting claimant). Perhaps this is an argument you can use with the League.

    So this would be a way to sabotage an opponent’s MJ.
    Interesting. I'm trying to envision it, and I can't. Can you spell it out step by step how one would use this rule to screw up an opponent? If it's a reasonable scenario, you can use that to support your argument with the League.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    2/19/2019, 7:11 PM


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2019 11:47 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > paypal
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Michael Y
    >The number above is the donor's receipt ID for this transaction. Please retain it for your records so that you will be able to reference this transaction for customer service.
    >You can view the details for this transaction by logging in to your PayPal account and clicking the "History" tab.View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Michael Y
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Michael! May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 17, 2019


    Can I call myself dead?

    >From: Ellen W
    >Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2019 12:56 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Tom, can you tell me if I notice that my hand is dead (I took a discard and exposed a pung of ones which was part of a concealed hand) do I have to say something if no one notices or can I go on playing, probably defensively since I can’t win? I looked all over the card for where I could use another hand with a pung of ones and alas, couldn’t find one.
    >Thank you
    >Ellen

    Hi, Ellen!
    In the official rulebook, page 19, it says in rule 14: "If the exposure goes unnoticed, the erring player should not announce it and continues to play. Of course, Mah Jongg cannot be made." If you don't have the official rulebook, you can also find this rule in FAQ 19-AC.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 14, 2019 2:50 PM


    Looking for a tile

    >From: Rose M
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 11:46 PM
    >Subject: 2005 China Majiang Championship and Forum
    >Hi, I saw that you attended the China Majiang forum in 2005. Someone gave me a set from that championship and forum, because my daughter-in-law is from China (Hainan), and her mother is coming to visit her in NYC soon. Of course, her mom loves to play Mahjongg - the Chinese, not American version.
    >The set I have is the China version (no jokers), but it is missing one tile. Since you attended the championship, I was wondering if you could advise me on the maker of this set, and how I might be able to obtain a new tile. I believe that the tile I am missing is the East wind.
    >The back of the tile is green - but the color isn't correct in the photo. I do notice there are some lines in the green, although the back of the tile is smooth to the touch.
    >Could you direct me in any way? I am not sure what the composition of these tiles are, and I am hoping that since you were there, you may also have a set, and could help me with my detective work!
    >Many thanks.
    >Rose M

    Hi, Rose.
    Sorry to disappoint you. I don't have one of those sets, and I have no idea what company manufactured it. If you're not sure you need an E, make a big square as described in FAQ 7B.

    May the missing tile be with you. You can try the tile sellers (see the Tiles For Sale board. But the likelihood of finding that specialized tile is very low.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Valentine's Day, 2019


    Why didn't the computer let me win?

    >From: Frances M
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 11:28 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Mr. Mah-Jongg and thanks in advance. Can you explain to me why this hand is not “Mah-Jongg”. I was trying for the 2018 card, Consecutive Run, 4th hand down.
    >I’m a beginner/intermediate so any help you can offer is greatly appreciated.
    >Thanks, Fran
    >Frances H M

    Hi, Fran!
    Read the back of the card. Left pane, last sentence of the last paragraph before the numbered rules. Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined).


    Every player should read everything on the NMJL card every year. In 2016, some wording was changed and some new wording was added. And many frequently asked questions are answered right there on the card. Every player needs to know these basic rules of the game.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 13, 2019 12:20 PM


    What's a sextet, part 2

    >From: Ellen W
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 11:50 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is a sextet? When I look at the card, I see singles, pairs, pungs, kongs, and quints. What am I not seeing? Thank you, Tom. I am new to mahjong and I just found your site thanks to Michele Frizzell. I hope you got my donation through PayPal. You provide a great service to those of us who are trying to learn.
    >Thanks again.
    >Ellen

    Hi, Ellen.
    Sorry! I was rushing off to class when I posted my response to your kind donation, and I didn't have a chance to email you and let you know the below response had been posted, along with the answer to your question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 13, 2019 12:25 PM


    Donation! And: what's a sextet?

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 6:00 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Ellen W
    > paypal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Ellen W
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Ellen W
    >Message: I'm a new player and slowly going through your site. Thank you for the help. By the way, what is a sextet? I don't see one on the card. Only singles, pairs, pungs, kongs, and quints. Ellen Wagner
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Ellen!
    A sextet is exactly what you think it would be: a group of six identical tiles. The League sometimes has put a sextet of flowers on the card in the past. They reserve the right to do so again in the future, so the term stays alive even though sextets are rarely seen on the card these days.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 13, 2019 8:25 AM


    What is the value of an all-pung hand, part 2

    >From: Patricia Q
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 9:03 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hong Kong version

    It's 3 fan, Patty. You should print the complete list of Hong Kong scoring combinations in FAQ 17. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 12, 2019 9:10 AM


    What is the value of an all-pung hand?

    >From: Patricia Q
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2019 6:47 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is the value of a all pung hand

    It depends, Patty. Which mah-jongg scoring system are you using? Hong Kong? MCR? Japanese? Taiwanese? Wright-Patterson? If you don't know which mah-jongg variant you're playing, FAQ 2B can help you identify it. After you tell me which system you play, I can tell you what an All Pung hand scores. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 12, 2019 7:50 AM


    She threw the joker on the table

    >From: Candace R
    >Sent: Monday, February 11, 2019 7:32 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong joker exchange
    >Tom,
    >I was playing in a tournament last week. I asked the player across from me to exchange my tile for her joker. She threw the joker on the table which made it dead. What happens next? Is her whole hand dead then because she only had 12 tiles?I know I can’t take it as it is dead. What should we have done?
    >Candy R

    Hi, Candy. Wow, that lady has a temper! I'll tell you what I would have done. I would have stood up and waved the tournament judge to my table, and I would have asked her or him for a ruling.
    Although it's technically true that putting the tile on the discard floor kills the tile, maybe the judge would allow the exchange. When you are at a tournament, the judge (the tournament organizer or his/her designated official) is the arbiter of all disputes. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 12, 2019 7:55 AM


    That collector's website

    >From: CG Shaffer <comgensupreme
    >Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2019 3:50 PM
    >Subject: Question about a avid MJ collector who disappeared
    >Hi Tom,
    >You seem to be the wizard of all things MJ so thought I'd send this question to you since I have no one else to ask that I believe would have the answer.
    >When I first started playing about 9 years ago I ran across a website of a man who apparently was well known and respected in the area of MJ but he had “simply disappeared from the web and no one knew what happened to him - there was chatter about the mystery of why, etc. I was able to find his website where he had listed sets for sale (although he was no longer managing it). He gave a great amount of detail on the sets he was selling -- history, age, etc. and many of them were already sold. At the time, I noted some of this information down but have managed to lose it during the ensuing years. My questions are:
    >1. Do you know who I am talking about with the sketchy information I have provided?
    >2. Is his website still live and if so, do you have a url or other contact information?
    >3. Is there anyone besides Charlie’s web site that has lots of sets with information on maker, etc. -- her site is very difficult to maneuver and not sure its operating correctly anymore - at least it wasn’t the last time I was there.
    >Any help you may be able to provide will be appreciated. If not, then thanks for your time anyway.
    >CG Shaffer

    Hello, CG. "Wizard," hmm? Thanks!

    Yes. You're talking about Jim May.

    Yes. I believe he sold all the sets. Then he sold the site. You can find a link to it in FAQ 4-A.

    Take a look at some of the other links in FAQ 4-A. Don't ignore Michael Stanwick's site. Worth exploring (depending on what kind of information you're seeking). May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 10, 2019 6:30 PM


    My flower tiles, part 2

    >From: Clive F
    >Sent: Friday, February 8, 2019 9:23 AM
    >Subject: RE: identify tiles
    >Hi Tom I was asking what is shown on the tiles are they vegatables ? if so which ones ? , and may the tiles be with you

    Hi, Clive.
    Your tiles do indeed look like vegetables and/or fruits. I have no idea which ones. I presume they would be foods that are normally associated with the seasons (the Spring one being a food often eaten in spring, and so on). But I may be thinking too much into it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2019 4:40 PM


    My flower tiles baffle me

    >From: Clive F
    >Sent: Friday, February 8, 2019 2:47 AM
    >Subject: identify tiles
    >Hi, I have been given a mahjong set but these flower tiles baffle me can you help ?
    >Thanks Clive

    Clive, I need a specific question. So that I don't spend time answering every possible question you might have about your flowers in the hope that one of them answers the question you have, please tell me exactly what baffles you. And please look at the flowers in FAQ 7E-F, see if you can find unbafflement there. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 8, 2019 7:00 AM


    Pickin' and flippin'

    >From: Adrienne G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:02 PM
    >Subject: racking a tile
    >Hi,
    >I read your columns about racking a tile after picking from the wall. From what I understand, the window of opportunity to call a discarded tile closes as soon as the next picked tile is racked, discarded, or Mah Jongg is declared. There is a lot of discussion about racking speed; however, I didn't see a question about a player who picks from the wall, looks the tile quickly, and then flips over the tile almost immediately after picking. This seems to happen often toward the end of games when players are looking for particular tiles. "Picking and flipping" shortens the window of opportunity even more so than quickly racking a tile, so I'm wondering if there is etiquette concerning "picking and flipping."
    >Adrienne

    Hi, Adrienne.
    I firmly believe that the best thing is for each player to pause a beat before picking from the wall. That gives a reasonably engaged player a sufficient window of opportunity. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 7, 2019, Bedtime


    Conflicting claim snafu

    >From: Maureen S
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 2:30 PM
    >Subject: [No Subject]
    >1st player discards tile, players 2 & 3 call it. #2 asks #3 if it gives her MJ and she says no so #2 takes tile and racks it. Then #3 says she can take it for MJ. Who gets tile?

    Hi, Maureen. Player #3 screwed up. First she said no, the tile doesn't give her mah-jongg. Then, she let the other player rack it before saying yes, the tile does give her mah-jongg after all. She gave the tile to player 2. And now everybody knows what player 3 needs. She shouldn't have done what she did. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 7, 2019


    More mystery flowers, part 4

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:54 AM
    >Subject: Re: More mystery flowers
    >Very interesting, Tom. Wikipedia has more on the Ode to Red Cliff. Thanks for your help.
    >Bob G.

    >On Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 11:58 AM Tom Sloper wrote:
    >Ray just posted a followup.

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 11:09 AM
    >Subject: Re: More mystery flowers
    >Perfect. Thanks again, and thanks to Ray.

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 11:30 AM
    >Subject: Re: More mystery flowers
    >Yes, I was reading "Mah Jongg - The Art of the Game." But, now, I've just ordered your book.
    >Bob

    Very cool!


    More mystery flowers, part 3

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:20 AM
    >Subject: Re: New flowers mystery
    >Hi Tom,
    >Ode to the Red Cliff is a very famous piece of Chinese writing, it dates from the 11th century and was written by Su Shi, noted poet and calligrapher of the Northern Song period. The ode has been translated many times; here's an extract from one translation that includes the two phrases on the tiles...
    >"...All things between heaven and earth have their rightful owner. If something does not belong to you, then you shall own not even a part of it.
    >Only the cool breeze on the river and the bright moon among the mountains are an exception. If you can hear it, it is a sound to you; if you can see it, it is a view to you.
    >It never ends and is never exhausted. It is the infinite treasure granted to us by our Creator for both of us to enjoy...”
    >Ray

    Thank you, Ray. That's lovely.
    Tom


    More mystery flowers, part 2

    >From: "heaton.ray"
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 10:31 PM
    >Subject: Re: New flowers mystery
    >Hi Tom,
    >The second row that you at a bit of trouble with are 山间明月, "Bright Moon among (or between) the mountains", a line from Ode to the Red Cliff if I recall correctly.
    >Regards,

    >Ray
    >From: Ray
    >Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2019 12:30 AM
    >Subject: Re: New flowers mystery
    >...and apologies for my poor English in my previous email, I have Brexititis which is progressively impacting my abilities!!
    >Best wishes,
    >Ray

    I hear you, Ray. Brexit is concerning for sure. I sympathize, since I've had Trumpitis for 2 years. Trying not to let it get the best of me (feeling better this year than last year). Thanks for the translation. "Ode to the Red Cliff," hmm? Very literary! May the tiles be with you, Ray.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 7, 2019 7:30 AM


    More mystery flowers

    >From: Robert G
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 12:07 PM
    >Subject: More mystery flowers
    >Hi Tom,
    >An elderly neighbor asked me to take a look at his wife's grandmother's Mah Jongg set. It's clearly from the early 20's based on your excellent descriptions on your website. However there are a couple things you might find interesting. The Craks have the ornate Chinese characters on them rather than the simplified characters. I know you indicate in your Q&As that not all the old sets use simplified characters, but of my dozen or so antique sets, this is the first time I've seen them. Also, the flower tiles are quite unique. Any suggestions about their meaning would be appreciated. Thanks.
    >Bob G
    >Scottsdale, AZ


    Right-click to view or download the pic on the left

    Hi, Bob!
    Wow, that's a nice set, nice case - and the condition looks good in the photo. And I see you were checking it against a book. Is that "Mah Jongg: The Art of the Game"?
    I guess you were saying this is the first time you'd seen the fancier craks. I see that this set has the fluted bamboo sticks (a thing that was done by master carvers as opposed to the run-of-the-mill carvers). And the fact that the set is in an ornately decorated case jibes. It was intended to be a more expensive set, and this is the type of set one might see the fancier crak ("wan" or "ten thousand") design.
    As for reading the Chinese, that's not my strong suit. But you made a mistake in arranging them. Notice how they all have red Arabic numerals, but half of them have green Chinese characters and the other half has blue Chinese characters. So the green ones form a phrase, and the blue ones form a phrase. They're supposed to be read like this (not sure if green goes before or after blue):


    You can right-click that to view or download larger than 400 pixels wide. Comparing this, then, with some of the mystery flowers in FAQ 7E-F, we can identify some of them. In FAQ 7E-F, search for the string "How old and how much, part 2" and you'll find Ray's translation of your blue-character flowers: "a clear wind above the river." Your green ones say "mountain something something moon." Maybe my friend Ray Heaton will see this and tell us what the two in the middle mean! Or maybe they appear in other flowers in the FAQ.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 6, 2019 12:40 PM


    Can I use dragons in Consec. #5?

    >From: Cindi G
    >Sent: Monday, February 4, 2019 2:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sent from Mail for Windows 10
    >Hi my question is regarding FF consecutive run 3 mixed suits.. can one of those numbers be 4 dragon as the third suit?
    >Thank you

    Hi, Cindy!
    Okay, you're asking about Consec #5, the 3-suit version, on the 2018 NMJL card. You're asking if you can substitute a dragon for a suit tile? That'd be no. Are you asking if you can use zero in a consecutive run hand? That'd be FAQ 19-BH. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 4, 2019 8:25 PM


    Are you familiar with Berrie Bloem's program?

    >From: Carolyn
    >Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2019 3:07 PM
    >Subject: Berrie Bloem
    >2/3/2019
    >Tom,
    >Just found your very informative and accurate website!
    >I played Berrie Bloem's computer Mah jongg MANY years ago and I liked all the voices in the game announcing each discard and Pung, chow, etc.
    >It was an exceptional game!
    >Are you familiar with his program?
    >Thank you.
    >Carolyn in Iowa, USA

    Yes, Carolyn, I played his game in the 1990s. I was a video game designer/producer. I was working on mah-jongg games. I played every other mah-jongg game I could find (I checked out the competition). So, yes, I'm familiar with it to that extent. I have a link to his website in my FAQ 5. I just checked just now, and I see that his website is still online. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 3, 2019 5:15 PM


    Thanks for your help.

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2019 1:50 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Rochelle R
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Rochelle R
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Rochelle Renaud
    >Message: Thanks for your help. Rochelle

    Thank you, Rochelle! May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 3, 2019 7:30 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 7

    >From: Rochelle R
    >Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2019 4:05 AM
    >Subject: Once dead
    >Situation-One player is “dead”-by exposing a concealed hand
    >Can another player exchange a joker for one if the “dead” man’s tiles?
    >Rochelle

    Hi, Rochelle!
    The title given to your question is "Joker viability in a dead hand, part 7" because this is the 7th email in an ongoing discussion about this very question. Long answer short: "it depends." The player who exposed a concealed hand - did he or she expose it in a declaration of Mah Jongg? Or did she or he just make two exposures that unambiguously showed that s/he was working on an exposed hand? In the case of the former, the written rule is that all her/his tiles must be returned to the sloping front of the rack. The rule (on page 16 of the official rulebook) says (underline added by me):

      Please note that a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack, the errant declarer stops picking and discarding and nothing can be redeemed from the concealed hand.

    Because it says "for a declaration of Mah Jongg," this rule excludes any instances that do not involve a declaration of Mah Jongg. So if your player exposed two sets (both made from discards) and the two sets unambiguously show that the hand is one that's marked C on the card, then the rule I explained in FAQ 19-P should hold sway. The first exposure may have been ambiguous (the exposed set does not clearly indicate it's a concealed hand) so it may remain atop the rack, including any jokers it may contain. This is based on the League's ruling printed in 2007:

      YES... Jokers may be redeemed from any and all exposures that were made BEFORE the error. (Before the hand went "dead"). Once a hand is declared "dead", any Jokers that were exposed with that declaration cannot be redeemed.

    So, Rochelle - which situation applied to your situation? If the player declared mah-jongg, all her tiles have to go back to the sloping front of the rack, and may not be redeemed. If not, then only the second (unambiguous) exposure is returned, and the first exposure may remain. At least, that's the way I see it, until and unless the League clarifies otherwise.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 3, 2019 7:15 AM


    What are my tiles made of?

    From: Normandy K
    Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2019 2:55 PM
    Subject: Help with tile ID
    Love your web sight ❤️ I recently inherited this set with wood racks. Tiles look more like glass to me. There are hairline cracks on two and when I dropped one it broke off as shown. Thank you for your help Normandy K
    Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Normandy!
    I suppose they might be ceramic. Tiles with those designs are usually a porcelain-like plastic, such as polystyrene (see FAQ 7-C3) but I've never seen a plastic tile cleave like that. And I've never seen those tiles made of anything but plastic. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Groundhog Day, 2019


    How does seat rotation work, part 2

    >From: Diane K
    >Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2019 10:21 AM
    >Subject: Mahj Beginner Question
    >After you complete a round of Mahj, is the next East sitting to the right or the left of the original East? Thank you. Diane K

    Hi, Diane!
    If you're asking about seat rotation in American (NMJL) mah-jongg, as I told Maxine on Thursday, seat rotation is described in detail in FAQ 19-BB.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Groundhog Day, 2019


    Need blank tiles

    >From: Terilyn Schmuker <imbuddhist2 at aol.com>
    >Sent: Saturday, February 2, 2019 7:48 AM
    >Subject: Tiles Wanted
    >I am trying to make an American set out of my Chinese set and I believe all I need is the 8 jokers. Do you know of anyone selling maybe some blank tiles with the maroon bake and this size?
    >Material: I believe it is a bakelite material
    >Color(s): Maroon and white
    >Dimensions: 1”2cm
    >Tile(s) wanted: 8 jokers or blank tiles
    >URL (internet address) of online photos:

    Hi, Terilyn! Read FAQ 7-Q. And they're not Bakelite; see FAQ 7-C3. May the tiles be with you. Literally!

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Groundhog Day, 2019


    If you need either of 2 different tiles and you pass up one, can you call a win on the other in the same go-around?

    >From: Jonahton C
    >Sent: Friday, February 1, 2019 6:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you are calling for a mahjong and you need a 2 stick or a green dragon, and one player before you tosses out a 2 stick and you pass on it but someone else tosses out a green dragon before it comes back to your draw, can you take it and win? We know that if you're drawing for a 2 or 5 to win with a chow and you pass on a 2, you can't take a 5 if someone else tosses it before the draw comes back to you. So in the same turn, if someone tosses a 2 and you don't take, you can't take the 5 either. Unless I'm wrong.
    >I know the green dragon gives you an extra point so maybe you can pass on the 2 stick and call a dragon instead in the same turn. But same scenario when calling for an east or south when going all pongs and neither is your wind so if you pass a east, can you take a south in the same turn if someone tosses it?

    Hi, Jonahton!
    You didn't say what mah-jongg scoring system you're using. Is it Japanese? In Japanese riichi/dora majan, you may not (as you said) pass up a 2 and then on the same go-around call a 5 (assuming you are waiting to win on a 3-4 incomplete chi). I see what you're saying, that it seems a similar thing with a suit tile and a dragon, if your hand is complete except you have a pair of 2-bam (stick) and a pair of G, and you get higher score for the G.

    The principle in play here is "don't mislead your opponents into thinking you're safe to throw to." In Japanese majan, the discards are orderly, and a player can point to your opposite (or lower) player's most recent discard and say "see, since you passed on that 2B, any reasonably intelligent opponent will assume it's safe to throw 5B." That's the 1-4-7 rule. But can the same argument be made in regards to 2B and G (pairs instead of an incomplete chi)? I don't think so. How could anybody know what your two pairs are? [Edit, next day:] But your best bet is to discuss with the other players now (now that an event has occurred to raise the question), find out what rule they would use in a future occurrence.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    February 1, 2019


    Her tiles are not viewer-friendly

    >From: Kathleen B
    >Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2019 9:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: we have someone in our group who declares mahjongg and then puts it on the rack in the wrong order with a few tiles upside down. When I asked to put them in order, she said, "I don't have to". Said there's no such rule. Should be courtesy, I believe. Drama!

    Too much drama, mama! There are rules, then there is strategy, then there is etiquette. It's nice when all three work together in harmony. Yes, showing all tiles same-way-up is not a rule. Yes, it's courteous to show them all same-way-up. I'm guilty of non-viewer-friendly exposures myself (a bad habit I picked up in Japan and China). May the tiles be with you!

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2019 9:20 PM


    How does seat rotation work?

    >From: Maxine S
    >Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2019 7:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing with 4 players, what's the rule for changing positions at the table? I have seen East move around the table, but not sure how this works.
    >Thanks!

    Hi, Maxine!
    Seat rotation is described in detail in FAQ 19-BB.
    May the tiles be with you!

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2019 9:20 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 6

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2019 5:49 AM
    >Subject: Joker viability (Jan 10 discussion)
    >Hi Tom,
    >Any response from the League yet on this ruling under discussion? How long does it usually take to get a reply?
    >Thanks, Linda

    Good morning, Linda.
    No, I haven't received a reply. I don't like being a nag, and I imagine this is a very busy season at the NMJL office. The question under discussion is one about a fine distinction between seemingly similar circumstances, and the League's practice regarding rules has usually been to state general rules, from which specific rules could be inferred. Also, in order to be as specific as I could, I may have stated my question with so many words as to make it discouraging to read, while there are intense preparations going on for mass-mailing a new card 7-8 weeks hence. If I were to try again to follow up on it, I would probably deem it necessary to go back through twenty years' worth of newsletters to find the previous written answers to the question of joker viability in a dead hand. Going through so many newsletter answers is hard work - I have to read every question to see if it has bearing on the question. When I find an applicable one, the wording always differs, and nuances have to be analyzed. I did that work before, but I don't have a record of all the findings - all I have is the wording I put into FAQ 19-P as a result of it. I was satisfied that I had the rule sussed completely, until the new wording put that understanding into question. Having worked with the World Mahjong Organization in clarifying the wording in the Mahjong Competition Rules, I found that a contributor shouldn't be surprised to encounter unanswered questions and dead ends. I still had questions when the MCR green book was released, and those questions never were answered to my satisfaction. I have let go of those, and I have let go of this question, too. For now.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 31, 2019


    How about that bird?

    >From: Lynne R
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 4:33 PM
    >Subject: Bamboo Bird Sorry, forgot to ask you about the bird. What kind is it and can you tell what part of China it is from. Thanks so much


    Sorry, Lynne. I don't know offhand. You might find an answer on Michael Stanwick's website, The Mahjong Tile Set - https://www.themahjongtileset.co.uk/. He's shared a lot of his expertise on set origins there. Oh - and your case may be of more modern origin. Hard to tell. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
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    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 30, 2019


    How old is it?

    >From: Lynne R
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 11:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I Would like to know how old set is. History: came from Russia in the early 1940's. The lady who owned it migrated to here, Astoria Oregon.
    >The set was given or bought in 1944 to a lady in Astoria. She had it until her death 10 years ago. Her son had it then, he remembers the lady from Russia. He has just given it to me. I am curious to the age, told it is from the 1920's.
    >Thank You

    You were told right, Lynne! It's from the twenties. See column 610. Your case is a little different (or maybe just the front cover and the drawer pulls), but everything else is just like we usually see in 1920s sets.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 30, 2019


    What is a "single"? (NEWS, part 16)

    >From: Doug L
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 8:12 AM
    >Subject: MJ rule question
    >Tom;
    >I know that you cannot use jokers for singles and pairs or even to pick a discard for these. However, I’m a bit confused on what a “single” is. Can you clarify this?
    >Also, I believe you can’t use jokers for NEWS and 2018. Since these are defined sets, can you pick a discard for either of these?
    >Thanks
    >Doug

    Hi, Doug.
    A "single" is a tile that does not have an identical twin with it. In NEWS, no wind has an identical twin with it. So NEWS is not a kong. It is also not really a "set," but it is instead four singles mooshed together, which is why you can never use a joker in NEWS and concomitantly, why you cannot take a discarded wind to expose a NEWS (except for mah-jongg).


    For more about 2018/NEWS, FAQ 16 answers questions about the NMJL card - and FAQ 19 answers questions about NMJL rules. You can link to the FAQs above left. There's a lot of info on the FAQ 19 page, but you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords.
    May the tiles be with you!

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 30, 2018


    Column #712

    >From: Donna M
    >Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2019 8:38 AM
    >Subject: Dec. 30 column
    >Hi Tom,
    >I went to your site to copy the link to send to a friend who teaches and
    >wanted it for her students.
    >Your Dec. 30 column caught my eye. I do remember reading this in the
    >bulletin. However, your column brought to mind something for me.
    >Doesn't one technically have to say "call", take the tile from the
    >table, put it on top of the rack and then add the additional tiles from
    >one's hand? I say this because I believe one's turn begins when you
    >pick a tile either from the wall or the table. Thought I remembered
    >reading this on your site but spent the last 15 minutes looking and
    >couldn't find it.
    >Thanks for all you do for Mah Jongg. Keep up to good work!
    >Donna

    Hi Donna, you wrote:

    Doesn't one technically have to say "call", take the tile from the
    >table, put it on top of the rack and then add the additional tiles from
    >one's hand?
    The rulebook says,

      To claim a discard the player must verbalize their call by letting the other players know that they are claiming that discard. They may say "call," "take," "I want that," etc. The claimant must then expose on the rack the Pung, Kong, Quint or Sextet which has been completed by the discarded tile.

    And it says, farther down the page:

      When an exposure is called, the Pung, Kong, Quint or Sextet is placed on the top of the rack in front of the player for all to see.

    I say this because I believe one's turn begins when you
    >pick a tile either from the wall or the table.
    If the player at my left has discarded and I'm just sitting there doing nothing, people are going to yell "it's your turn" at me, and rightly so. But if somebody else claims the live discard before I do anything, it's not my turn anymore.

    I'm sorry if I'm missing the point.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2019 1:30 PM


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2019 9:05 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Jean S
    > paypal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$100.00 USD from Jean S.
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $100.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Jean S
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Wow, thank you, Jean! May the tiles be with you!

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 27, 2019 8:25 AM


    What do you call a 3-person game? (part 2)

    >From: Pam R
    >Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2019 9:19 AM
    >Subject: Re: 3 person play
    >Thanks!


    What do you call a 3-person game?

    >From: Pam R
    >Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2019 6:34 AM
    >Subject: 3 person play
    >Hi Tom,
    >What do you call a 3-person game?
    >Pam

    Hi, Pam.
    If I join a game with only 2 other players, we say we're playing "3 players." I might also say we play "the 3-player game." If this doesn't answer the question you're asking, I'm still here for a follow-up question. You could look at FAQ 13-A for details on 3-player play under American/NMJL rules, if that helps. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 24, 2019 7:30 AM


    "Paying double" vs. "Bonus" (part 3) 

    >From: Frank C
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 4:01 PM
    >Subject: bonus points ?
    >In American in a 25point value hand a player tsubongs with a jokerless hand, what are the total bonus points ?
    > Thank you,
    > Frank C

    Hi, Frank!
    How about I just explain this way:

  • The hand is worth 25 cents.
  • Now if the hand is jokerless, you double that, now it's 50 cents.
  • If won by self-pick, double again - all players pay a dollar.
  • If won by discard, discarder pays a dollar, others pay 50.

    25 x 2 = 50 x 2 = 100

    Peggy G also asked about doubles versus bonuses on November 29, below. You might find that exchange useful, and you can find a fuller explanation in FAQ 19. And I have to ask. What language is "tsubongs" from? Southeast Asia somewhere? May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 23, 2019 8:30 PM


    When someone calls double mahj, part 2

    >From: Stacey E
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2019 1:47 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much!
    >Randy

    Happy to help! May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 22, 2019 2:00 PM


    Your heading bars are too big, part 2

    >From: Becky U
    >Sent: Monday, January 21, 2019 11:49 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong
    >I see your respone. Wow. that was quick! But, actually I am on a laptop. I found it is more comfortable to use the mobile option even on my laptop.

    You're pretty fast yourself, Becky! I just posted an edit below - I found that indeed the heading frame WAS too big. If you see any others like that, let me know and I'll fix those too!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom - 12:00 noon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day


    Your heading bars are too big

    >From: Becky U
    >Sent: Monday, January 21, 2019 10:03 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong
    >Thank you for your website detailing the rules for mahjong! I am looking forward to learning and playing with my family.

    >I just have one minor comment.
    >The heading bar on some of your pages (FAQ10 for example) takes up a lot of space and doesn't leave adequate room for the page content below.

    >~Becky

    Hi, Becky!
    Thanks for contacting me about this. Let me guess. You're on a mobile phone, and you see something like this:


    I'm not an expert at CSS; this website is pretty much just simple HTML. And a lot of the site was created before smartphones arrived (2007). It's built on frames, which are fine for desktop users but not for smartphone users. When I find a problem for smartphone users, I try to fix it without having to spend a lot of time changing the whole site to use challenging technology I haven't learned yet. Instead, I just offer a way to get to the information without those extra navigation frames. FAQ 10, for example, was not yet set up to make it easy for smartphone users to get rid of the nav frames.

    Sorry, I'm saying too many words.

    In response to your email, I have now added this to the top of FAQ 10:

    I need to add that to any FAQs that don't have it, and I also need to add smartphone links to the nav frame at the left, and the master index at sloperama.com/mahjongg/index.html
    Sorry the updates are coming so slowly! Thanks for alerting me to that so I could fix that one.

    EDIT: Oh wait, I found that the header page was indeed too tall. I shortened it. Now I just have to fix too-tall header frames... May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2019 11:30 AM


    When someone calls double mahj in "Siamese" mah-jongg

    >From: Stacey E
    >Sent: Monday, January 21, 2019 9:18 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In Siamese Mahj jongg, if someone calls a double Mahj Jongg and one of the hands is called as a Mahj Jongg incorrectly, is that hand considered dead?
    >Randy

    Hi, Randy!
    I haven't played Gladys Grad's Siamese Mah Jongg yet, but I looked at http://www.siamesemahjongg.com/print-rules.html and found this:

      13.  A PLAYER HAS 1 MAH JONGG AND 1 DEAD HAND, the game continues by the opponent only - until opponent makes a second Mah Jongg, or all the tiles have been picked.
      (NOTE: In a regular 4-handed NMJL version, the “dead” player has to cease playing, while everyone else continues.  But, think of the other player’s 2 racks in the 2-handed version as 2 individual remaining players.  If one hand is “dead,” there are still players alive.)

    I believe that answers your question? If not, I recommend you get in touch with Gladys, at http://www.siamesemahjongg.com/contact.html. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2019 11:30 AM


    Charleston-stopping strategy

    >From: Rebecca E
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 10:56 AM
    >Subject: Question about stopping the passing
    >I have 10 tiles to complete a hand, and do not stop the passing because I still have 3 tiles to pass. But on the first pass in the second round of the Charleston, I am passed the 11th tile I need. Now I only have 2 to pass, but I can't stop the passing and I can't steal/blind pass. Is my only choice to pass a tile that I actually need?
    >Should I actually have stopped the Charleston?
    >Thanks for your advice.
    >Rebecca E

    Hi, Rebecca!
    I have written on stopping the Charleston. See column 494. In column 494, you'll see the phrase "the evil second across." That's what got you. You had exactly three tiles to pass, but in the second left, you got a wanted tile. That's the risk you take when you have this precise situation (it happens, but infrequently). When I've been in that position, I have either stopped the Charleston or risked having a tile coming in - depending on the way I feel about my luck at that time. I can't tell you A or B. All I can tell you is "that's the risk you have to take." So I might risk it if I thought having to pass one of them might not be so bad.

    A few times, a needed tile has come in when I have an evil second across quandary. Want to know what I've done? I don't break up any pairs. If I have a pung already, I'll pass one of those. Sometimes, the player who wound up with that tile threw it out, and then I was able to call for it and get it back. It was like not losing that tile in the first place (except now I have to give information about my hand). Hope this was helpful! May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 20, 2019 3:20 PM


    Can I redeem a joker if I'm playing a concealed hand? (FAQ 19-O)

    >From: Ann T
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 2:44 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >IMy mah-jongg question or comment is:when playing a closed hand, may one take a joker from another’s tray.

    Hi, Ann!
    Yes, you may redeem a joker if you're playing a concealed/closed hand. It says so in this year's newsletter from the League. If you don't have the newsletter, I've answered that question in FAQ 19-O. I recommend you bookmark FAQ 19. The most frequently asked questions about use of jokers in American mah-jongg are answered at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#jokers. By the way, that long thing in front of each player is a rack. Trays are usually left in the case and are not used in play.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 20, 2019 10:00 AM


    Which of us gets the tile?

    >From: Joye D
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 3:14 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >At my turn, the player to my left discarded a tile I wanted to call and then I would exchange a tile I already had with another player’s displayed joker. Those two actions would have given me mahjong. Another player called for the same discarded tile for mahjong. It was my turn and I could have had mahjong by calling the tile and doing the joker exchange. Who had the mahjong—me or the other player? Thank you.

    Hi, Joye!
    You say you were two tiles away from mah-jongg but the other player was one tile away. The other player could win immediately on the discard, but you had to first make a complete exposure from the discard (see FAQ 19-M) and then redeem a joker to win.
    So, when the discard appeared, you could not rightly say "mah-jongg." Rightly, you could only say "I want that" (for exposure of a completed set). She, on the other hand, could rightly say "mah-jongg." She gets the tile. May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/19/19, 8:20 AM


    I wanted to stop the Charleston, but...

    >From: peggy c
    >Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2019 12:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: we are always trying to encourage new players sometimes that means slow play and patience. While playing with a newbie I waited patiently for my first left and declared I wanted to stop the Charleston. Another player stated she had already exchanged and was on her second left hence I could not stop the Charleston. Her rationale was that I needed to pay more attention and was adamant that we were not stopping the Charleston. Is there a rule regarding passing out of turn?

    Hi, Peggy!
    You're saying you were waiting for your first left, but someone else had already picked up her second left? That ain't right. That person needed to pay more attention! The Charleston is a dance that requires all participants to dance in step. When people fall badly out of step, there's a problem. In the case you described, there must be two passes sitting at someone's right (a first left, and a pyramided second left). That ain't right. It's incorrect to pass a second left pass to a corner with a first left pass already sitting there. That person needed to pay more attention, too.

    It's not wrong to say that you, too, should have paid more attention. While you were waiting for the slow player, you should have monitored the Charleston and noticed when a player passed a second left, because once someone picks up a second left, it's too late to stop the Charleston. I assume your group does not verbalize the passes. It's important, in my opinion, that players announce "first left" and "second left" both, to prevent just this sort of thing. Verbalizing the left passes helps everyone pay attention. In the instance you described, it sounds to me like there was a whole lot of inattention going on, and no one person deserves the blame.

    In my opinion, the second left pass must be undone. If it cannot be undone, then all the tiles should be thrown in and the tiles shuffled and redealt. At least, that's how I see it. To get the official ruling, you should snailmail the League (see FAQ 19-BN). May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    1/19/19 8:40 AM


    Verbalizing joker redemption, part 2

    >From: Monica C
    >Sent: Friday, January 18, 2019 3:46 PM
    >Subject: Re: American Mah Jongg Question
    >Thank you so very much!!!

    You're welcome, Monica!


    Any Like Numbers #3 (2018 NMJL)

    >From: Karen L
    >Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2019 3:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing the like numbers and dragons hand, we understand there must be 3 different suits. The question is should the dragons match the suit in each set?
    >Thanks,
    >Karen L

    Hi, Karen! You're talking about Any Like Numbers #3:

      11 DD 111 DDD 1111 (Any 3 Suits)

    There are two pairs (shown in the same color), two pungs (shown in a different color, both of them the same color as one another), and a kong (shown in the third color). It says on the back of the card that 3 colors means 3 suits. This color-coded line item on the front of the card shows you how to apportion the 3 suits for this hand. The two pairs must be the same suit, since they are the same color on the card. Let's call that "suit # one." It can be any suit. Dots/Soap, Craks/Red, or Bams/Green. The two pungs must be a suit you haven't used for the pairs, both of them the same suit since they're the same color on the card. The kong can be whatever suit you haven't used for the pairs and the pungs.
    I think the answer to your question is "yes," but I'm not sure I've answered the question you were asking. If you want to read how to interpret the color-coding on the card, you can read FAQ 19-BY. In fact, I have a whole collection of Frequently Asked Questions about how to interpret a generic NMJL card at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#thecard, and I've answered the most Frequently Asked Questions about the 2018 NMJL card in FAQ 16. Feel free to bookmark them so you can come back and read anytime.
    May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 17, 2019 6:00 PM


    Verbalizing joker redemption

    >From: Monica C
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 8:37 PM
    >Subject: American Mah Jongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thank you for your column.
    >My question is when you exchange for your own Joker, is there a NMJL rule that says you need to verbalize the exchange? I cannot find one.
    >Is it just courteous to verbalize, but not required?
    >Or is it strategy not to verbalize, as to not call attention to the fact that you are now one tile closer to Mah Jongg.
    >There has been lots of debate with the folks I play with. One person I play with claims that it was in a previous bulletin that you should NOT verbalize when exchanging your own exposed Joker.
    >Thanks so much.
    >Best regards,
    >Monica C

    Good morning, Monica! To foster harmony in your game, I recommend saying something when redeeming your own joker. To respond point by point to your email:

    is there a NMJL rule that says you need to verbalize the exchange? I cannot find one.
    I can't find one, either. We should also consider harmony, and (as you noted) strategy and etiquette.

    Is it ... courteous to verbalize,
    Yes. Very courteous. And respectful.

    is it strategy not to verbalize, as to not call attention to the fact that you are now one tile closer to Mah Jongg.
    There are nasty strategies and courteous strategies. This is not a nice strategy. I think nice is nice. I like nice!

    One person I play with claims that it was in a previous bulletin that you should NOT verbalize when exchanging your own exposed Joker.
    If she could tell me which newsletter to find that in, I would be delighted to confirm. (Note: I am not going to go through all my bulletins from 1997 to 2019 again, trying to find something that I do not remember reading and that I doubt exists.)

    Here's what I do: when I am redeeming a joker atop my own rack, I say something, usually just "aha!" May the tiles be with you.

    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 17, 2019 7:45 AM


    Is she dead?

    >From: Perla
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 8:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player calls mahjongg, exposes her hand and discards one tile. Looking at her 13 tiles, she realized the hand still needed a 3 Bam for the 14th tile. Is her hand dead? What becomes of her tiles including the jokers? Do they remain exposed? Do they all go back on the slope? Can the other players exchange her jokers?
    >Thank you,
    > Perla C

    Hello, Perla! You wrote:

    A player calls mahjongg, exposes her hand and discards one tile.
    Doh! Call her dead. She only has 13 tiles now.

    Is her hand dead?
    Yes indeedy!

    What becomes of her tiles including the jokers? Do they remain exposed? Do they all go back on the slope? Can the other players exchange her jokers?
    "Can I redeem a joker from a dead player's rack" is FAQ 19-P. The erroneously exposed tiles all go back to the sloping front of her rack, and she stops playing. Please bookmark FAQ 19.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 15, 2019 10:25 PM (past my bedtime!)


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now? (FAQ 19-AY)
    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 5

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 8:32 PM
    >Subject: Yet, another question
    >Tom - a question in regard to the recent NMJL bulletin, and the question below [From column 713]:

        Q: Is there a penalty for throwing a miscalled tile?
        A: If the miscalled tile is called causing an invalid exposure, the calling player hand is "dead" and there is no penalty for the discarder of the incorrectly named tile. If the incorrectly named tile is claimed for Mah Jongg, the game stops and the miscaller pays the claimant 4 times the value of the hand; others do not pay. Remember, a tile may never be called unless correctly named.

      The word "call" means speaking a request for a live discard. "Miscall," though, refers to the act of wrongly speaking a tile's name when discarding it. I wish "miscall" could be recalled and we could all say "misname" instead. As per my rant in Column 353.


    >When NOT playing for $$, would those playing just stop the game right then and there if a incorrectly named tile is claimed for MJ?
    >As for the misnamed tile being called for, if the player who calls and picks up the discarded tile and realizes it's NOT the tile the player named can she put it back down? Or if she picks it's up and places it on the top of her rack and realizes it's not the tile she needs, but hasn't exposed the tiles on the sloped part of her rack, can she put the misnamed tile back? I ask because, sometimes it's hard on some of these tiles to differentiate between a 6 and an 8, or a 5 and 3, and yet, sometimes, bad eyesight or lighting comes in to play.
    >Still no reply from the league about the viability question I guess.
    >Thanks Tom
    >Debbie

    Hi, Debbie! Your questions:

    When NOT playing for $$, would those playing just stop the game right then and there if a incorrectly named tile is claimed for MJ?
    What happens when a misnamed tile is called for mah-jongg is spelled out in FAQ 19-AY. The only difference between a money game and a no-money game is money. The same rules apply either way. The hand is over. Throw in the tiles, deal, and play the next hand.

    if the player who calls and picks up the discarded tile and realizes it's NOT the tile the player named can she put it back down?
    The "change of heart" questions (the "oops, I didn't mean to do that" questions) are all answered in FAQ 19-AM. A player can pick up a discard and then change her mind about taking it.

    Or if she picks it's up and places it on the top of her rack
    FAQ 19-AM. The tile is on top of her rack. She cannot undo this action. As I wrote to Enid last Thursday (below), "In general: words do not commit you to a move, but actions do."

    I ask because, sometimes it's hard on some of these tiles to differentiate between a 6 and an 8, or a 5 and 3, and yet, sometimes, bad eyesight or lighting comes in to play.
    Ask the hostess to light up the table more brightly. Play with your good glasses on. And learn how to recognize the tiles without having to strain to see the tiny corner indices.

    Still no reply from the league about the viability question I guess.
    It's a busy time at the League office, I reckon.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 15, 2019 10:25 PM (past my bedtime!)


    On the back of the card, it says...

    >From: Jean N
    >Sent: Monday, January 14, 2019 4:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the back of the card, it says
    >Any tile, except a joker,may be called for Mah Jongg.
    >Does this mean that if I need one more tile,(not for a pair or single)
    >The joker has to be discarded?
    >Jean

    Hi, Jean!
    It means if somebody else discards a joker, you cannot have the joker. That rule is also stated elsewhere, so it's just clarifying that the "you can never have a discarded joker" rule still applies even if it's for mah-jongg. Read FAQ 19-G.
    [Added next morning:] It also means that if you are waiting to complete a pair, or if you need a single tile, and someone discards your needed tile, you can claim it and win. See how the card continues, saying "This includes all hands, including Concealed and Singles and Pairs hands."]
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2019 9:40 PM


    Table talk

    >From: Peggy G
    >Sent: Monday, January 14, 2019 5:50 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Regarding "table talk." Are there any rules regarding table talk or is it a matter of etiquette? Today, very early in the game, I was close to calling Mah Jongg and discarded a joker. Another player announced to the table: "Don't throw any flowers!" Since that is exactly what I needed I was pretty upset and commented "no table talk." Then player in question just laughed. Is there a rule that governs this situation and how should it be handled? Thank you, Peggy G
    >Carmel, Ca

    Hi, Peggy!
    Unfortunately, etiquette is not covered in the rules. There's no rule about how to handle a player who thinks it's smart to be nasty. Nastiness is not classy; this kind of behavior can lead to vindictiveness and disharmony. FAQ 9 discusses the benefit of harmonious play and good etiquette (i.e. being nice so people will want to play with you again).
    I've written a couple of columns about players who, unconcerned with classiness or etiquette, blurt information harmful to an opponent. You'll appreciate column 467 and column 654. ... Well, #467 isn't exactly about blurting, but blurting is part of it. Anyway, you asked how something like this should be handled. I say "try to be classy." What would a classy person do in response to a boorish act? Especially when harmony is the goal.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 14, 2019 9:55 PM


    Two beginner questions

    >From: Claire A
    >Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2019 10:31 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Greetings! I have two beginner-level questions (American Style) that I have been trying to find answers for but can't.
    > Once the wall is broken and we are drawing tiles from the left of the break in a clockwise manner, do we continue drawing from wall to the right of the break (the number of stacks we counted over after rolling the die) when we get back around to that point?
    >Whose turn is it after someone claims a discarded tile then discards? Is it the person who WOULD HAVE gone next without the interruption? Or is it the person after the player who picked up the discarded tile?
    >Thank you!
    >Grace and peace in Christ,
    >Claire T. A (she/her/hers)
    >- Final-Year Masters of Divinity Graduate Student
    > Wartburg Seminary
    >"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now." -Fred Rogers
    >Sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus.

    Pax vobiscum, Claire. Your two answers:

    Think of the wall as a circle (pretend it isn't a square). The first two tiles that come off the wall are the two tiles to the left of the break. The last two tiles are the two tiles to the right of the break. I hope this image from FAQ 19-Q helps:

    Play continues from the person who made the play. See the official rulebook, "Mah Jong Made Easy," page 14:

      The "call" or "take" has become the claimant's turn and the game then continues to the right of that claimant.



    This is the League's official rulebook. It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.

    May the tiles be with you! I don't know how to say that in Latin. (~_^)
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 13, 2019


    Consec #5 (FAQ 16)

    >From: Sharon K
    >Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2019 5:08 PM
    >Subject: Re: NMJL Question
    >Dear Tom,
    >On the 2018 card, the 5th hand down (FF 1111 2222 3333) it says "any run". Does it have to be 1-2-3? Or can it be any consecutive run?
    >That is the only line that says "any run".
    >All the other instructions in the CONSECUTIVE RUN section say "any consecutive numbers". I was wondering if I could use for example - 4 5 6. What is the difference between "any run" and "any consecutive Nos"?
    >Why does every line say consecutive numbers but only the 5th Line says any run? What is the difference?
    >Thank you so much.
    >Sharon K

    Hi, Sharon!
    You have asked about Consec #5 on the 2018 card. I'm breaking down your email to two questions. The first: how to interpret a phrase that's missing a word, and the second: why the word is missing...

    it says "any run". Does it have to be 1-2-3? Or can it be any consecutive run? ... I was wondering if I could use for example - 4 5 6. What is the difference between "any run" and "any consecutive Nos"?
    You perceive a difference between the phrase "any run" and "any consecutive run." But those phrases mean the same thing. Last April when I answered questions that I expected to be asked frequently about the 2018 card, I wrote this definition of the word "run" in FAQ 16:

      A is an ascending or descending numerical sequence.

    And in the League's annual newsletter, which we who bought our 2018 cards directly from the League received at the beginning of 2019, the League wrote:

      A "Run" is an ascending or descending numerical sequence.

    The word "consecutive" is implied although not specifically included. Because space on the card is limited, the phrase "any run" and the phrase "any consecutive run" should be considered to be equivalent. The numbers 1-2-3 are shown only as an example, which illustrates that the run should indeed be consecutive. The word "any" means you do not have to use only the numbers 1-2-3. I wrote in FAQ 16:

      The parenthetical is saying you can use any 3 consecutive numbers ...

    So yes, 4-5-6 is one of the other permissible runs. You may make any 3-number consecutive run between 1-2-3 and 7-8-9, inclusive.

    That is the only line that says "any run". ...
    >All the other instructions in the CONSECUTIVE RUN section say "any consecutive numbers".
    >Why does every line say consecutive numbers but only the 5th Line says any run? What is the difference?
    I wrote in FAQ 16:

      ... (there wasn't enough room to say all that).

    Look at the hand - there are two versions, a one-suit version and a three-suit version, shown together on the same line. The only way to make the word "consecutive" fit is to either use teeny tiny text on that line, or add another line, both of which would cause a problem. Between the size of the card and the size of the font, assuming a need for consistent font size, and assuming a need for the font to be no smaller than on previous cards, adding a line would necessitate removal of a hand. The League didn't want that.

    FAQ 16 answers the most frequently asked questions about the NMJL card. There is a listing for Consec #5 in there. After you look at it, if you think FAQ 16 might be useful for you in the future, you might want to bookmark it. Also, I highly recommend buying the card directly from the League so that you receive the yearly newsletter, which always includes rule clarifications (sometimes including clarifications of frequently misunderstood hands on the card). If you find my answer insufficiently clarifying, or if you want to argue the League's practices or complain about how the League writes the card, you can snailmail your questions or comments to the League. Their address is on the card. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 13, 2019

    P.S. A while after writing the above, I revised the wording in FAQ 16. Instead of "numerical sequence," I use the phrase "sequence of consecutive numbers." Just the latest occurrence of what I said on January 10, 2019 2:30 PM about constantly working to improve the clarity of wording on this site. - Tom


    What's your opinion?

    >From: Gwen S <goofynuffy
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 5:11 PM
    >Subject: Playing
    >I went to play Mahjong with a new group they pick a tile off the wall , say what it is and then the next 3 players do the same, but then the first player picks up another tile and then turns her first tile over so no one sees it.
    >I could not under stand this play, Only 4 tiles exposed on the table at a time. I said how can you keep track of what has been played , and they said they just try and keep track in their heads
    >They said well this is how they learned on a cruise, but I said I am sure that is not the rule from the American Mahjong League.
    >I would like your opinion on this play please.
    >Thank you
    >Gwen S

    Hello, Gwen!
    I've never heard of this one. With the little that you wrote, I can't picture the play very well. Are you saying that among the discards, no more than 4 tiles are face-up at any given time?

    I have heard of players around the world wanting to make memory a more important part of a game. I have heard of players turning all discards face-down (after first showing the tile to the other players). I have heard of players showing an exposure before turning the exposure face-down for the remainder of the hand. The benefit of such practices accrues to the player(s) with the best short-term memory retention. The fun of such practices eludes me.

    You are aware, are you not, that many groups adopt "table rules" because ... well, because they think it makes the game go faster, or more fun - or because it simplifies things somehow? And some teachers teach table rules to their students, without ever mentioning that the rule differs from the official rules. Sometimes a player is taught a nonstandard way of playing, then teaches it to others without any of them knowing it's a made-up way of playing, undocumented in any of the mah-jongg literature. [Sigh!]

    Anyway. You said you want my opinion. Read FAQ 14.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 20195:40 PM

    Busy day today! This is the 6th mah-jongg email I've gotten this day! I'm starting to detect a pattern. I may get the most emails on Thursdays (I remember thinking that the last time I had a cluster of questions like this). Maybe Wednesday is the most popular day to play, and the questions flow therefrom? - Tom


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 4

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 4:59 PM
    >Subject: MJ
    >Hey Tom,
    >I see by your post that you already contacted the NMJL regarding the question I sent you about the joker viability in a dead hand. You had suggested I contact the league for their ruling. I guess I'll leave this one in your hands, unless you still suggest I contact them to make sure we get the same answer??
    >Thanks for tackling this question, glad I was able to come up with something new to ponder.
    >Best regards,
    >Debbie N.

    The question was nagging at me, so I took the bull by the horns. We shall see!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019 5:10 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 3

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:34 PM
    >Subject: FAQ 19P
    >Hey Tom,
    >Thanks for writing to NMJL to clarify this rules question. The rule is ambiguous the way it is worded.
    >Thanks, Linda

    In the League's defense, differing interpretations of a rule's wording are often not immediately obvious to the rule writer. I've been modifying the wording on this site for about 19 years. The new heads of the League have been writing rulings for only about 4 years. They've made numerous much-needed rule clarifications in recent years, and it's really tough to get it right the first time. Heck, look at the errata for my book - I've been revising the wording since 2007! Anyway, we'll see.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019 2:30 PM


    Can I change my mind?

    >From: enid e
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:24 PM
    >Subject:
    >if a player touches the tile but does not move it do they have to keep tile.

    Hi, Enid!
    I'm going to make assumptions, since your question leaves a lot of room for uncertainty.

    First assumption: you're asking about American (National Mah Jongg League) rules (not Japanese, Filipino, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Wright-Patterson, British/Australian...). I've written answers to the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. There is a section answering different questions about changing your mind there.

    Second assumption: you're asking about either a discarded tile or a wall tile.

    A discard: You can touch or even pick up a discarded tile and then change your mind about taking it, and put it back.

    A wall tile: FAQ 19-AM relates the NMJL rule about "undoing" taking a wall tile: After you've lifted or moved the wall tile, you may not change your mind and put it back. If you lift it or move it, it's yours and you have committed to taking it. In general: words do not commit you to a move, but actions do.

    May the tiles be with you. Oh - and I recommend you bookmark FAQ 19 for future questions. Also, I recommend you buy the NMJL rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy" (see FAQ 3).
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019 2:00 PM


    Joker viability in a dead hand, part 2

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 7:23 AM
    >Subject: D.N.'s rules question on Jan 8th
    >Hi Tom,
    > If DN writes to the NMJL I hope the answer will be published in this forum. I'm sure your readers would like some clarification!
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    I wrote the League to ask about it.

    The rule on page 16 says: "Please note that a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack, the errant declarer stops picking and discarding and nothing can be redeemed from the concealed hand." 
    Because it says "for a declaration of Mah Jongg," this rule excludes any instances that do not involve a declaration of Mah Jongg. And a question remains about other errors involving a concealed hand.

      Let's examine a situation: a player made one ambiguous exposure. Nobody can tell yet that she's working on a Concealed hand. Several things can happen next:

      Case 1: the player makes a second exposure, and now it's unambiguous - she's working on a Concealed hand. How many exposures must be returned to the sloping front of the rack? The rule on page 16 does not cover this situation (it only covers a declaration of Mah Jongg). Based on previous rulings from Ruth Unger in past newsletters, only the second exposure must be returned.

      Case 2: the player had one ambiguous exposure and now declares mah jongg, puts up all her tiles, and it can be seen by all that it's a Concealed hand. The rule on page 16 may be intended to cover this situation (but does not say so unambiguously). If the rule on page 16 does cover this situation, then all the tiles must be returned to the sloping front of the rack. It appears to be a change to the existing rule from past newsletters.

      Case 3: a player never makes an exposure until all of a sudden she says "mah jongg," and puts up all her tiles. It's a Concealed hand, but there's a problem with it: it's formed incorrectly (maybe she has a pung and a kong but she's supposed to have a kong and a pung, and the tiles cannot be rearranged to make the correct hand). The rule on page 16 is clear on this: all the tiles must be returned. But the mah jongg in error rules already say that.

    Let's assume that the League now wants both exposures to be returned to the rack when case 1 occurs. Perhaps this wording might make things clear:
    "When it is visible to all that the player is making a concealed hand, all exposures must be returned to the rack, and the errant declarer is dead (see 'Rules and Penalties,' rule 14)."
    I'm suggesting this to the League; we shall see if we can obtain clarity.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019


    Naming a discard - and - finding answer needles in this overwhelming haystack of information

    >From: Emily P H
    >Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2019 1:58 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you announce you are going to discard a tile, and you change your mind, can you keep the tile?
    >If you announce and place the tile down and let go, I realize it is too late.
    >If the tile is still in your hand and your hand is in mid-air, is it too late?
    >If the tile is still in your hand and your hand touches the table but the tile does not touch the table, is it too late?
    >Can you search FAQs without reading every topic?
    >Will you email me the answer, or at least email me to tell me how to find my answer in the FAQs?
    >Thank you very much. Very underlined.
    >Emily H

    Hi, Emily!
    I'm taking your questions out of order:

    Can you search FAQs without reading every topic?
    Absolutely. Since you mentioned naming a discard, I'm going out on a limb and assuming your question is about American (National Mah Jongg League) rules.
    Sloperama.com/mahjongg/index.html (the first landing page when someone comes to the mah-jongg portion of my website) is an index of all the FAQ topics (you can also see an index of all FAQ topics if you scroll up right now and look at the left side of the screen).
    Visually scanning the index of topics, you'll find that FAQ 19 is the place to go, to find answers about American mah-jongg.
    At the top of FAQ 19 there's a complete index of all the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg. I use the index myself to find what I wrote there. There's even a How to use this page link right up top, telling you how to find your American mah-jongg answer in FAQ 19. Beneath the "How to use this page" link is a complete, categorized index of the questions, for easy visual scanning.

    If you announce you are going to discard a tile, and you change your mind, can you keep the tile?
    "Changing my mind" is a very prominent category of American mah-jongg question. It's the second category in the index (right after Jokers, which is the #1 category of questions I get). In fact, if you go to FAQ 19, the link to the "change of heart" category is probably visible without scrolling. There are many ways to say "can I change my mind," and I tried to work several of them into the category link. At the moment, it reads UNDO, UNDO! I changed my mind, can I take it back? ("CHANGE OF HEART"). I've tried very hard to make it easy to find.

    To address your question: nobody ever announces "I'm going to discard a tile." She says the tile's name. FAQ 19-AM says that once a discard's name is spoken, it's too late to take it back. Once the tile has touched the table or you have said its name (whichever happens first), it's "down" -- and "down is dead." You can't take it back.

    FAQ 19-A says: A discarded tile is "down" when it touches the table OR is completely named, whichever occurs first.
    FAQ 19-B says: When a tile is "down," it is too late for the discarder to take it back. If you've said its name, you must put it on the tabletop and take your hand off it.
    Just so you know, the source of this rule is the NMJL's rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy." This is rule 7 on page 18.

    If the tile is still in your hand and your hand touches the table but the tile does not touch the table, is it too late?
    Once the tile has touched the table, or you have said its name (whichever happens first), it's "down" -- and "down is dead." You can't take it back.

    Will you email me the answer, or at least email me to tell me how to find my answer in the FAQs?
    The latter. I email you to tell you how to come back to this board so you can find your question and my answer.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 10, 2019


    Joker viability in a dead hand

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 5:56 PM
    >Subject: question
    > Hi Tom,
    >I've read your explanation on the ruling of viable jokers when a hand is called dead. But I don't exactly know in this situation, if a particular joker would still be viable.
    >Player A calls for a 1 bam and exposes 2 natural tiles and 1 joker to make the pung. Play continues. Player A calls for a white dragon and exposes 2 natural tiles and 1 joker to make another pung. Play continues. After about few more turns player B challenges player A and said it's not a viable hand, which player A agrees, saying it was a concealed hand and made the exposures, forgetting it was a concealed hand..
    >My question is, with the 1 bams being exposed first, is the joker in that pung still available to be exchanged for after the hand is declared dead because it wasn't until the pung of dragons was exposed was the hand declared dead? Or, would the joker in the pung of 1 bams not be taken since it was part of a concealed hand which none should have been exposed in the first place.
    >I asked the question and got 2 different answers. One was that the pung of 1 bams, the joker would still be viable. Another was the exposure that makes the hand go dead gets returned to the player's rack. In the case a concealed hand is improperly exposed, all of the tiles go back to the rack. But, this last comment sounds to me, that this is if the concealed hand was improperly exposed for mah jongg, not the same in the case I'm describing.
    >Can you please let me know which ruling it correct, is the 1 joker in the pung of 1 bams able to be exchanged?
    >Thanks Tom!

    Hello, D N!
    The 2018 rulebook covers this on page 16. "Please note that a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to the rack, the errant declarer stops picking and discarding and nothing can be redeemed from the concealed hand."
    When I reviewed the 2018 rulebook in column 696, I may have misinterpreted that rule, so I didn't mention it in the column, and I didn't change FAQ 19-P. The quote above mentions "a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg."

  • It's intuitive that a concealed hand has been "incorrectly exposed" if an exposure was made prior to a declaration of mah jongg.
  • But when you add "for a declaration of mah jongg" to the preceding phrase, it makes it sound like the player exposed, all at once, a concealed hand, but there's something else wrong with the hand.

    So when I read it in the 2018 rulebook, I didn't register the notion that it might be saying that when it's a hand marked C on the card, and an exposure had been made prior to the mahj declaration, the hand and the improper exposure must all be returned to the rack. Reexamining the wording now, I think it's likely that this is what it's saying. If that interpretation is confirmed, I'll modify FAQ 19-P to reflect this clarification of the rule.

    I think what I wrote in FAQ 19-P still applies to your situation, in which a second unambiguous exposure (not exposure of the whole hand) shows the hand to be a Concealed hand. The wording on page 16 does not say that both exposures must be returned to the rack in that case. So most likely, your best bet is to snailmail your question to the League for a definitive ruling.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2019


    I just bought a Dal Negro Mahjong set

    >From: Kristin W
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 12:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I just bought a Dal Negro Mahjong set. This is my comment.
    >I’m bitterly disappointed with the set.
    >Having read reviews of the Italian craftsman ship of all their product I can’t believe that they made this set, it’s not a Delux set, but still it’s an awful set.
    >The black ink in the engraving runs out and marks all the tile.
    >Some of the circles are completely blacked out with the ink.
    >The letters are all crooked , and not all the same size and paint wearing off.
    >It’s far too lightweight .
    >The racks are not up to standards either as they are too straight up.
    >It will be no pleasure playing with this set.
    >I don’t recommend anyone to buy this set.
    >Regards Kristín Whitehead.

    Hi, Kristín,
    Looks like you're angry, and feeling gypped, and you decided to use my bulletin board to tell the whole world about it. If I was so unhappy with a purchase, I'd return it to the seller and ask for my money back. If I couldn't do that for some reason, I might file a complaint with the website (Amazon, eBay, Etsy...) where I bought the set, maybe file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
    May the tiles no longer be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 8, 2019


    Heirloom set

    >From: Jesse C
    >Sent: Sunday, January 6, 2019 7:28 AM
    >Subject: Heirloom set
    >Hi Tom,
    >My wife and I recently received a charming, antique mahjong set as a gift. It reportedly came from Asia many years ago with a family who was immigrating to North America, and is something of a family heirloom. We’d like to know an approximate age for the set. We couldn’t find much online about about bamboo-backed bakelite sets (or anything that may help identify the additional numbered, non-flower tiles), hence our email. Our observations:
    >The set appears to be hand-carved
    >No brand-mark is visible
    >No instruction book is present
    >Tiles appear to be bakelite with bamboo backing
    >Dice and sticks appear to be bone
    >Thank you for the treasure-trove of information you’ve provided on your site. We look forward to upping our mahjong game using our new set and the instructions you’ve generously provided.
    >Best regards,
    >Jesse & Tabitha

    Hi, Jesse!
    Sorry to dash ice water on your story, but the set is neither an antique nor an heirloom.

  • Heirloom, per Google: "a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations."
  • Antique, per Google: "a collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age."

    Your set is neither old enough nor valuable enough to fit either definition. And I also have doubts that this set was treasured by the immigrant family. The set was made for export, not for use in Asia (the clue: the Western indices). It was cheaply made, and was easily replaceable. You said the original owner came from Asia, but you didn't say which country. Chinese mah-jongg players are prone to getting rid of a set once it has been played with and money was lost thereby (superstition puts blame on the tiles) - So the whole origin story is unconvincing. You were told a pretty tale that's largely untrue.

    Yes, it's unusual to see "Chinese bakelite" (the name collectors use for that non-shiny yellow plastic material; see FAQ 7C) backed with bamboo. But the set was cheaply made, with poor craftsmanship (see the gap between the yellow plastic and the bamboo, and see the paint smears). The fact that the cheap case is falling apart doesn't mean the set is generations old. You say the sticks are bone, but I can't confirm that from the tiny photo you sent. The rounded ends on the sticks make them look like plastic to me.

    You said you want help identifying some of your mystery tiles. Take a look at FAQ 7E, and FAQ 7E-F (the mystery flowers FAQ) and FAQ 7E-J (the mystery jokers FAQ). You'll surely find your mystery tiles there. If you're asking about the Singapore-style "animal flowers," you'll find those in FAQ 7E-F.

    As for the set's age, the clues I see are: (1) the style of the case, (2) the so-called "Chinese bakelite," and (3) the Singapore-style "animal flowers." I don't know when "Chinese bakelite" started being used for sets; might be forties (1940s), fifties, sixties. I also don't know when animal flowers started being included in sets. Again, maybe forties, fifties, sixties. From the cheap case, I'm guessing later manufacture: maybe sixties or seventies. Check the online Mahjong Museum website, and CHarli's website, and other such sites listed in FAQ 4A; maybe you'll find information there on the age of "Chinese bakelite" sets, or sets with animal flower tiles.

    The set looks imminently playable, for most mah-jongg variants (just not for American, Japanese, or Vietnamese). Enjoy playing with it.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 6, 2019


    How old are my mystery tiles, part 2

    >From: Linda D
    >Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2019 4:30 PM
    >Subject: Re: My Mah Jong set
    >Thank you for your quick response. I had gathered this was a more recent set and knew the tiles were plastic. Thank you for the confirmation.

    You're welcome, Linda.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 5, 2019


    How old are my mystery tiles?

    >From: Linda D
    >Sent: Saturday, January 5, 2019 1:26 PM
    >Subject: My Mah Jong set
    >I was given this Mah Jong set from my neighbour years ago and was curious as to the year it was made. Also i cannot identify the seasons tiles. Which are the 1-4 x2 located under the 4 direction wind tiles. Also what are the set of 4 tiles above the dragon tile?
    >Attached is a picture
    >Thank you,
    >Linda D

    Hi, Linda! You wrote:

    curious as to the year it was made.
    I don't know, Linda. Maybe the nineties, maybe the 2000s. The case is a style I first saw in the nineties, but your tiles are plastic, not bone and bamboo like the other tiles I've seen in that style case. Maybe twenty years old, give or take a decade.

    Also i cannot identify the seasons tiles. Which are the 1-4 x2 located under the 4 direction wind tiles.
    Your question is unclear; seasons and flowers are the same thing essentially (seasons are just flower tiles with the names of seasons written on them). Also your photo is difficult for me to work with. I think you need to read the "Mystery Flowers" FAQ and identify them yourself. Check out FAQ 7E-F.

    Also what are the set of 4 tiles above the dragon tile?
    Again, your photo is difficult for me to work with. Most people, when they have a mystery tile, they send me a closeup of the mystery tile without everything else included. I had to shrink your image, but even the full-size image was difficult to zoom in far enough. I assume those tiles are Chinese jokers, but they're not in focus. Read FAQ 7E-J, the "Mystery Jokers" FAQ, and see if you can't find your own answer there.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 5, 2019


    Is FAQ 10 included in your book?

    >From: Terry D
    >Sent: Friday, January 4, 2019 3:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Does your book,” THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND” contain FAQ 10: "Simplified Mah-Jongg Rules for Beginners" that is on your website? While I wait for your book to arrive may I have permission to copy FAQ 10, so that I might start learning the simplified Chinese version of MJ so we can have the rules at the table as none of us know the rules?
    >I took the survey to figure out what type I am and it basically came out as an “O*” or “AVWO.” I think I need to start simply after looking at the American Mah Jongg rules. It has a lot to take in for a beginner!
    >I played with a girl friend in high school for a short time but have thought about it ever since. We called the tiles Bams, Craks, and Dots which gives me clues after looking through your website. My daughter bought me a set for Christmas.
    >I live in Surprise, Arizona now but lived most of my life outside of St. Louis, Missouri.
    >Thank you.
    >Mrs. Terry J. D

    Hi, Terry!
    Yes, you may print my FAQ 10 for your personal use, as long as the copyright language at the bottom is included and you're not selling it. No, FAQ 10 is not included in The Red Dragon & The West Wind. See, The Red Dragon stands for Chinese Majiang Competition Rules (MCR), and The West Wind stands for American/NMJL mah-jongg. No room for the simplified rules too. My book does contain some useful information, though, in the first two chapters, and the appendices, and the glossary. Chapter 4.B. starts with, but marches on beyond, simplified rules (it gets into table practices used in MCR tournaments, and maybe a bit into MCR rules). So I don't feel bad that you bought my book, even though it doesn't contain the simplified rules per se!
    I think you can't go wrong by starting with simplified Chinese! That's why I wrote FAQ 10. It'll be easy for you to adapt to other variants after you've mastered the simplified game. I hope you'll enjoy learning it with your new set!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 4, 2019

    .


    Desperate for a carver

    >From: "eklectk at aol dot com
    >Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2019 11:18 AM
    >Subject: Help!
    >Hello Tom-
    >I would never bother you, but-I'm desperate for a recommendation for a Bakelite Mah Jog tile carver. Dee Gallo was carving for years, but has health issues and I'm not sure she'll be back.
    >Do you know of anyone else?
    >Thanks so much-
    >Michelle W

    Sorry, Michelle. If I knew any such thing, I would post it at FAQ seven O. I just looked, and Dee is the only carver listed. I just went to her website and I see the "until further notice" notice. If you find someone who wants to have their info advertised, let me know!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    January 3, 2019 12 noon


    Your site is blocked, and I am overwhelmed with mah-jongg set "stuff"

    >From: Rochelle R
    >Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2018 8:41 PM
    >Subject: help
    >First-Happy new Year!
    >I can’t seem to get into your website. Any suggestions?
    [Error message not displayable]
    >Second- I wish to buy a Mah Jongg set. I’ve read your suggestions, but when i got to the MahJOngg sites suggested, I was overwhelmed with “stuff”.
    >I’ve heard i can go to amazon.com to buy a set for less than $40. I’m hoping you can direct me to a specific set a beginner might purchase. Please help.
    >(or even a store in China town.
    >Rochelle D

    Happy new year to you too, Rochelle. You wrote:

    I can’t seem to get into your website. Any suggestions?
    I'm able to get into my website just fine. I suggest you just try again. I'm not aware of any malicious takeover of my site - just now, I spot-checked several folders on the server, and all the dates are as they should be (unlike the last time my site was hacked). If you get that error message from Firefox again, try clicking the Advanced button to get past the blockage. I tried using Firefox and got no similar error message.

    I’ve heard i can go to amazon.com to buy a set for less than $40.
    Surely not a set suitable for American mah-jongg, with 152 tiles and 4 racks (if that is what you're looking for). And if there is such a thing at that price, it would surely not be regular-size, regular-thickness tiles, with Western indices, pleasing to the fingers and the ears.

    but when i got to the MahJOngg sites suggested, I was overwhelmed with “stuff”.
    I can't help with internet information overload. This is life in the information era.

    I’m hoping you can direct me to a specific set a beginner might purchase.
    I can't do that. I don't know what your requirements or preferences are. I think you need the personal service you can get from a small vendor, like those listed in FAQ 4A (if your browser will cooperate and let you view my website). Pick any vendor, visit their website, find their phone number. Call them on the telephone, and tell the helpful operator what you want. If one vendor doesn't have what you want, try phoning another. Mom-and-pop stores give you good personal service, unlike "overwhelming you with stuff" Amazon.

    (or even a store in China town.
    If you mean the Los Angeles Chinatown, I recently went there and confirmed that the links in FAQ 7K are still valid (L.A. Chinatown stores listed in FAQ 7K do still carry mah-jongg sets). Haven't been to San Francisco Chinatown recently, so I can't confirm those listings. And I can't help you with other Chinatowns than those two.

    May the tiles be with you. Really!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    New Year's Eve Day, 2018 7:45 AM


    Calling a natural tile "Same"

    >From: Michele D
    >Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2018 3:25 PM
    >Subject: Calling a natural tile "Same"
    >I have scoured the rules and several books trying to find an answer for when to call a tile "Same".
    >It's clear that the dealer on the first turn throws a joker she calls it a joker. Thereafter jokers may be called "same", Most players either say joker or same, indicative of the previous tile.
    >My question is not about the joker but a duplicate natural tile. Many players just say "Same" if they throw a duplicate tile to the one before. No where does it say whether you should or should not say "Same" in this case or announce the proper tile name.
    >So the question is should you announce the tile name or is it ok to say same when throwing a duplicate tile? Is there any clarification on this matter or is it that it simply doesn't matter.
    >Thanks for the help.
    >MicheleD

    Hi, Michele! Happy new year. You wrote:

    is it ok to say same when throwing a duplicate tile?
    Yes. Without that, there would be no foundation for saying "same" when throwing a joker.

    No where does it say whether you should or should not say "Same" in this case or announce the proper tile name.
    Because that's not what rules do! Rules only tell you what you are allowed to do. Rules can't advise you as to what you "should" do (or not do) in every situation. For that, we must cross over from "rules" to "strategy."

    Many players do not understand that this rule enables a heightening of the level of play from amateur to expert. Without this rule, players just look at their own tiles and get all information about the game by using their ears. That's what beginners and amateurish players do: they use their eyes for looking at their own tiles, and use their ears (and their ears alone) for everything else, rarely bothering to look up at the table or their opponents.

    When an ears-only player hears "same," she often assumes what was discarded was just the same thing as the previous discard, in other words "nothing important." Someone discarding a joker is important! It tells you she may be near mah-jongg, and you'd better be careful what you discard. And if you aren't looking (you're just listening), you miss important information. Saying "same" separates the dilettantes from the elite, the amateurs from the pros.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 30, 2018 8:30 AM


    Scoring, paying, pie, and betting

    >From: Bonnie <stchaprast
    >Sent: Monday, December 24, 2018 12:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I need some written words about Mah Jongg betting and how it goes in order for me to explain - pie and how to collect your winnings in the proper ways so I can help my students in this area. I know it’s not a written rule but most games do adhere in the same manner. Where can I find this?
    >Thank you
    >Bonnie3

    Hi, Bonnie3!
    Since you mention "pie" I assume you are asking about American (NMJL) mah-jongg. Since you teach American mah-jongg, I further assume you have a copy of the official NMJL rulebook.


    This is the League's official rulebook. It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!
    I'm not paid to say this. Just sayin' it's important to have and read.

    I have written answers to the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. If you haven't bookmarked it yet, I highly recommend you do. You asked about 4 things: scoring, paying, pie, and betting.
    SCORING is fully explained on the back of the card. I know students resist reading, but if you show them the text at the upper left corner of the back of the card, you can walk them through all of it. Then, every time the question arises again, you can point the student to the back of the card again. Also see page 24 of the rulebook ("STANDARD SCORING").
    PAYING - I have several FAQs about paying in FAQ 19. Go to FAQ 19 and click on "WINNING, SCORING, PAYING."
    PIE is fully explained in the "WINNING, SCORING, PAYING" section of FAQ 19.
    BETTING is explained in great detail in the rulebook on page 22 ("RULES FOR BETTORS"). And I also wrote a little about it in the "WINNING, SCORING, PAYING" section of FAQ 19.
    And of course these are all fully covered in my book, too. Shameless plug: you should buy a copy! :p
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 24, 2018 3:45 PM


    Two players, four walls

    >From: christine w
    >Sent: Friday, December 21, 2018 1:53 PM
    >Subject: Two Players, Four Walls
    >Hi Tom,
    >We’re beginners following (and very grateful for!) your simplified rules for Asian style. We have started by using only one suit plus honors, and building two walls.
    >My questions concern the four walls variation for two players. Once the four walls are built, does the dealing and drawing from the walls (two players only) proceed clockwise through all the walls, including those of the unoccupied seats? And, do all four walls come down to be reshuffled and rebuilt once the hand has been played?
    >It seems to make sense that way now that I write the question...but, I’m not entirely clear. It seems like a lot of wall building for two players!
    >Thanks for your help!
    >Chris

    Hi, Chris! To take your question in its separate parts, you wrote:

    Once the four walls are built, does the dealing and drawing from the walls (two players only) proceed clockwise through all the walls, including those of the unoccupied seats?
    Yes. "The wall" consists of four segments, but it's just one wall. The wall segments have no special relationship with their corresponding seats.

    And, do all four walls come down to be reshuffled and rebuilt once the hand has been played?
    If you don't, then you'll know what tiles are present in the wall segments you played, and by extension, what tiles are present in the wall that was not torn down. But maybe you'll find that that adds a new strategy to the game.

    It seems like a lot of wall building for two players!
    Yes. That's surely one of the factors in the preference for playing with more than two players. You've tried a one-suit variant, and you can try a two-suit variant. There's no "mah-jongg police" to arrest you for making up your own variant.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Winter Solstice, 2018 7:00 PM


    Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack?

    >From: barbara b
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2018 8:09 AM
    >Subject: Joker exchange from own hand
    >I was doing the FF 3333 6666 9999 in Bams hand last week and I made a mistake. I had 3JJ and 66J, so I need a 3 or a 6 or a J to complete one section. I drew the 6 bam BUT I exposed 66JJ, leaving one 6 bam on my rack. Can I use that 6 bam to exchange for a joker from my own exposure? I have read everything I can find on this and I think the answer is "no" but nowhere is it explicitly stated.
    >Thanks, Barbara

    Hi, Barbara!
    Look at the back of the card. Left pane, the paragraph beginning with "Jokers..." just above the numbered rules (italics added). Third sentence. "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."


    The most-needed rules are printed on the back of the NMJL card.
    Many frequently asked questions are answered on the card.

    "In any exposure," the rule says. So the answer is yes. If you discarded (ending your turn) after making the exposure, then on a subsequent turn you can redeem the joker. If you haven't discarded yet, you can make the substitution and then discard a tile. Want more details about joker redemption? Here on my site, I have a directory of answers to the most frequently asked questions about American mah-jongg. Your question, "Can I redeem a joker atop my own rack," is FAQ 19-M.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 18, 2018 5:40 PM


    Donation, part 2

    >From: Julie Azous
    >Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2018 6:26 AM
    >Subject: Re: Notification of donation received
    >Tom, it is my pleasure. As a teacher, I refer often to your column probably more often than calling the league.
    >Check out my website. Happy New Year!
    >Regards,
    >Julie
    >www.masteringmahjongg.com

    Nice. A site for sore eyes! :p
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    Your FAQs really clarified things for me

    >from: charles w & judith r d
    >Sent: Friday, December 14, 2018 8:19 PM
    >Subject: Thank you
    >Tom,
    >It's been 65 years since I last played Mah Jongg, so I found the card a little confusing; I was taking it too literally.
    >So I read through your FAQs. I thought your answers were hilarious and really hammered home to need to carefully read the parentheticals and rules and definitions.
    >Thank you, it really clarified things for me.
    >Judy H

    I'm so glad my FAQs were helpful for you, Judy!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 16, 2018 6:20 AM


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Saturday, December 15, 2018 9:10 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > paypal
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $25.00 USD from Julie A
    >You can view the details for this transaction by logging in to your PayPal account and clicking the "History" tab.View the details of this transaction online
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Julie A
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you very much, Julie!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 16, 2018 6:20 AM


    She realized she was making a mistake. Can she undo her mistake?

    >From: Bonnie D
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2018 2:32 PM
    >Subject: American MahJongg Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for the many questions and answers on your site.I couldn't find the answer to my current question.
    >If a player takes a tile and starts to expose some tiles but realizes the exposure is wrong,can they put the exposure back in their rack since they haven't discarded yet?
    >Thanks very much.
    >Bonnie

    Hi, Bonnie!
    I wish I could make it easier to find that answer, but there are so many ways a person can word the question (and word a page search). Anyway, this is answered in the "UNDO, UNDO! I changed my mind, can I take it back? ("CHANGE OF HEART") section of FAQ 19. Specifically, you want FAQ 19-AM (see the 2nd question, "Calling a discard."). Once she took the discard and put it on her rack and started exposing tiles, it was too late to undo her action.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2018 3:00 PM


    Teaching kids

    >From: Elaine D
    >Sent: Monday, December 10, 2018 8:33 PM
    >Subject: Teaching Kids American Mah Jongg (ages 7 - 10)
    >Hello Tom - First, I love your book The Red Dragon and the West Wing. I used it as a text book when I taught American Maj Jongg to senior citizens as a volunteer at the San Pablo Senior Center, San Pablo, CA from July 2015 - July 2017.
    >Now I would like to teach American Mah Jongg to elementary school children, grades 3 to 5, ages 8 to 10 years old. Although I have no research or evidence to support this, I believe that their skills for reading and arithmetic will be greatly enhanced by learning and playing American Mah Jongg. Needless to say, no money will be involved with the children, but rewards they appreciate, e.g., stickers.
    >Since you are my expert regarding American Mah Jongg any information and advice you share will be greatly appreciated. In return, I would love to share with you any evidenced based results from the classes with the children.
    >With respect (for your skill) and gratitude (for the sharing of your knowledge),
    >Elaine D
    >Former American Maj Jongg Teacher (2015 - 2017)
    >President of the Friends of the Richmond Public Library (CA) (2018 - 2019)

    Hi, Elaine! Gosh, such high praise!
    With only a few exceptions, I have not taught the game to children. The conclusion I have reached from the few kids I have taught is that you will probably find that the kiddos learn the game MUCH quicker than adults. I wish you success, but I don't have any tips for you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 11, 2018


    What does "any" mean? (FAQ 19-J)

    >From: Marie F
    >Sent: Saturday, December 8, 2018 7:42 AM
    >Subject: The Word "Any"
    >We feel the word any refers to the numbers but not dragons. What do you say "any"means
    >thank you

    Good morning, Marie! Dictionary.com defines "any" thusly:

      adjective
      1. one, a, an, or some; one or more without specification or identification:
        If you have any witnesses, produce them. Pick out any six you like.
      2. whatever or whichever it may be:
        cheap at any price.

    That definition perfectly defines the word, in my opinion. The word applies to anything! That's what it says in any dictionary of the English language (see, "any" even applies to dictionaries!). Obviously you play American mah-jongg, and your group is having some kind of argument about how to interpret one or more hands on the 2018 NMJL card. You didn't say which instance of the word "any" on the card your argument is about, so I get to pick any "any" I want.

    But first I want to draw your attention to FAQ 16, where I have answered the most frequently asked questions about the 2018 NMJL card. If your group's argument is based on how to interpret a particular hand, you'll probably find that I've already answered the question in FAQ 16. And I also want to draw your attention to FAQ 19-J, the "what does 'any' mean" FAQ. FAQ 16 answers questions about the NMJL card - and FAQ 19 answers questions about NMJL rules. You might want to bookmark them.

    Now then, let's test the notion "the word any refers to numbers but not dragons" by considering 2468 #3.

    22 44 666 888 DDDD (Any 3 Suits)

    There's the word "any." This hand includes both numbers and dragons. The parenthetical and the color-coding both indicate that this is a three-suit hand. The hand is properly made in a number of ways, among them these:

    If the word any really refers to numbers but not dragons, then how exactly could my illustration above be incorrect? "Any" refers to both numbers and dragons, since dragons are suited. If I make the hand with bams and craks, then the dragons have to be soaps. If I make the hand with dots and bams, then the dragons have to be reds. If I make the hand with dots and craks, then the dragons have to be greens. "Any" is including (not excluding) dragons in that example.

    Now let us consider Quints #1:

    NNNNN DDDD 11111 (Quint Any Wind & Any No. in Any Suit, Kong Any Dragon)

    As I explained in FAQ 16, the dragon can be any dragon (it actually says that in the parenthetical). And the number quint can be any number (it says that in the parenthetical), and the wind can be any wind. So: not just Norths, not just green dragons, and not just ones (and certainly not just one craks). Because of all those "anys" in the parenthetical, this hand may be made in one suit or two suits.

    See? ANY number. In ANY suit. With ANY dragon. And even any WIND! "Any" can refer to anything. I stand by for someone from your group to argue that I'm wrong. But I am not the National Mah Jongg League. If your group needs an official answer, I recommend you write a letter to the League. But your question should probably include specific examples from the card, so the League can't just pick any example they want, like I did.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 9, 2018


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now? (FAQ 19-AY)

    >From: Beth D
    >Sent: Friday, December 7, 2018 7:12 PM
    >Subject: Misidentified tile
    >I was playing the other night and the player to my left discarded but misidentified the tile. No one realized it and i picked up my
    >Tile and racked it. After I racked the player to my right said the tile had been misidentified and she wanted the tile. I put my tile back and let her pick up the tile but was that the right thing to do. I had already racked the tile before she called out the mistake. Please let me know what was the right thing to do
    >Beth D
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Beth!
    Let's follow this step by step.

    the player to my left discarded but misidentified the tile. No one realized it
    Yes, that's what happens when everybody gets lulled (and sometimes misled) by the vocalizations. Everybody just focuses on her tiles and the card, and trusts what is said and so doesn't bother watching what's going on at the table. (Hint: there's a lot going on at the table that bears watching.)

    and i picked up my Tile and racked it.
    For clarity's sake, for my readers: you picked from the wall.

    After I racked the player to my right said the tile had been misidentified and she wanted the tile.
    Doh!

    I put my tile back and let her pick up the tile but was that the right thing to do.
    No.

    I had already racked the tile before she called out the mistake.
    Exactly. She spoke too late. The window of opportunity on that misnamed discard closed when your tile hit home on your rack. If only she'd spoken up a second earlier! Read FAQ 19-AY for an explanation of the misnaming rule, and FAQ 19-C for an explanation of the Window of Opportunity rule.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Pearl Harbor Day, 2018 7:50 PM


    That's your vinyl warning! (Was: Puzzling set)

    >From: inkyno1
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 6:27 PM
    >Subject: That's your vinyl warning!
    >Hi Tom,
    >Me again :D
    >Just wanted to say thanks for the responses! Also you said that you have never encountered vinyl tiles before? Well then either you are lying or the website is.
    >In 7c "How To Identify What Your Tiles Are Made Of" there is a section that refers to "Vinyl Plastic" tiles. So either that is incorrect or maybe your memory is leaving you, haha.
    >An just for fun I got a couple more questions for you:
    >How long have you been playing/studying Mah-jongg?
    >And what is the most expensive Mah-jongg set you have sold or evaluated?
    >And thank you again for your previous responses :)

    My memory has a gap there. That section was written by the previous owner of the domain. I've never seen or owned any vinyl tiles myself; they might exist, I suppose. I started playing/studying mah-jongg in 1993 or 1994. I've heard of beautiful and rare sets, and sets of exotic materials, going for as much as $2,000.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 7:20 PM


    You wrote a book, I hear

    >From: Claudette G
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 5:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jong question
    >I did not see these question on the list.
    >Question: On the first Charleston if a player steals a tile to pass to the left are they then allowed to say they can do a second Charleston even though they stole the tile to make their left pass. Or is the Charleston over.
    >If a person hasn’t racked their tile, and they discard with the other hand , is there hand considered dead because of not racking the tile?
    >I noticed while looking on line you have a book of rules where can I purchase that? What is the cost? The Red Dragon and the West Wind
    >Thank you, Claudette G

    Hi, Claudette! You asked:

    On the first Charleston if a player steals a tile to pass to the left are they then allowed to say they can do a second Charleston even though they stole the tile to make their left pass. Or is the Charleston over.
    There is no rule that says otherwise, and this is the first time I ever heard of this concept. Blind passing (it's not properly called "stealing") does not obligate a player to any further actions or inactions. Anyone can blind pass anytime it's permitted; no complications or prohibitions pursue thereunto.

    If a person hasn’t racked their tile, and they discard with the other hand , is there hand considered dead because of not racking the tile?
    That is not a death penalty offense. In Japan, you would be called out for using two hands and not one. But in American mah-jongg, once she has discarded a tile, her turn is over. It's impolite to continue holding the picked tile; she needs to rack it (actually, the rules can be interpreted as meaning she must rack it).

    you have a book of rules where can I purchase that? What is the cost? The Red Dragon and the West Wind
    I have numerous banners and links to my book, on many pages of my website (there's a link in this sentence, and there's one in my sig, below). I don't sell my book here; it's surely available through all the major book outlets.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 7:30 PM


    Concealed kongs, part 2

    >From: Kent P
    >To: Tom Sloper; Peter Gregory
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 5:41 PM
    >Subject: Re: Declared Kongs 2
    >Tom,
    >Thanks for your prompt reply. The issue appears to be a matter of using the correct terminology to match the concept. I was not aware there are two variants for a displaying a declared-concealed Kong.
    >We have been relying upon the BMJA sanctioned book "Know The Game, Man-Jong". On page 23, the box labeled "EXPOSED AND CONCEALED" appears to describe the second of the two variants, which I prefer not to use.
    >I prefer the first variant, where during play (1)"Undeclared Kongs" (which are not fully formed Kongs) in the hand can be distinguished from (2) melded "Declared-Concealed Kongs" displayed face down on the rack. I will cease to use the term "Concealed Kong" to describe an "Undeclared Kong". I recognize that the display for scoring a melded "Declared-Concealed Kong" is changed from its display during play.
    >Furthermore, the four tiles of an Undeclared Kong can be (A) converted to a melded Declared-Concealed Kong, or broken apart (B) to make a Pung plus a tile for a Chow, or (C) to make two pairs for an All-Pair-Honors special hand.
    >I hope I have that right.
    >Thanks again.
    >Kent P

    You have that right, Kent! If Know The Game doesn't go into enough detail for you, I list other books about British and Western and Australian rules in FAQ 3. The more books you have on your variant, the better armed you are (they fill in gaps for one another).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 7:40 PM


    Puzzling set (Well, to me at least)

    >From: inkyno1
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 3:00 PM
    >Subject: Puzzling Mah-jongg set (Well, to me at least)
    >Hello Tom,
    >My step-dad gave me this Mah-jongg set about a week ago and I'm was trying to figure out what kind of set it is. Upon finding your site (Super informative btw) and doing some research, I think I got some of it right, but I knowing me I'm pretty sure I got it wrong. So I thought I would ask you rather than false advertise if I choose to sell it.
    >And sorry for the picture quality, my phone is pretty garbage. If you need me to retake any just say, I can do them in better quality if needed, which I don't doubt x)
    >So to start off with the set has 148 tiles.
    >36 Dots
    >36 Bams
    >36 Craks
    >16 Winds
    >12 Dragons
    >8 Flowers
    >4 Blanks
    >Each tile is 2.7 cm in length, 2 cm in width and 1.3 in height
    >The underside of the tiles are a jade green and have a small lime gradient going into the white
    >There are 3 dice with a cube and cube holder Wind Indicator.
    >There is a pink instruction manual (Most of it is in somewhat broken English).
    >The manual has no noticeable damage but is misaligned slightly.
    >The case has what I believe to be leather surrounding wood. It has two brass brandishings on each corner of the lid and a brass button to keep the lid in place. It has "MAH JONG" on the front in a custom Broadway engraved font.
    >The tile count matches with a 1920's Chinese set but the White dragons are not blank so I am unsure. Also looks to modern.
    >As for what the tiles are made of I'm not too sure. I'm stuck between fish-bone or vinyl.
    >I think it could be fish-bone as the proportions of the tiles match up almost perfectly to the "Bone and Bamboo" Size averages, as well as the tiles being almost completely white with a faint beige-ness to them, cream almost. This lines up with the visual example given, the fish-bone ones are slightly more beige compared to the newer vinyl ones. On the other side, their edges are curved rather than sharp and are lacking any bamboo.
    >I think they could also be vinyl as they do look similar to the older vinyl tiles. They also don't feel like bone. Though I have never felt processed bone before I'd imagine it would be rougher or dry and not as smooth as these tiles.
    >There is also something that could go both ways. One of the West Wind tiles doesn't have a "w" on it. I would assume that vinyl have stamps that are used to place the pattern on, so it would be very weird to see one without it in place. This could mean that the w is a separate stamp or each tile is done by hand, and one was forgotten about either way.
    >So my questions are:
    >What do you think the tiles are made of?
    >What kind of set do you think it is?
    >What price do you think it is roughly? (Feel free to skip this one as I can look on eBay once I know what kind of set it is, but would be nice regardless).
    >Sorry if a question here is answered in your Q&A, I have read it all but just in case I do ask an already answered question, my bad. I can be an idiot sometimes :D


    Hi, inkyno1. You asked:

    What do you think the tiles are made of?
    Plastic. High-density polyethylene, most likely. I don't think I've ever encountered or heard of vinyl tiles. Your instinct (that bone would feel different) is spot on.

    What kind of set do you think it is?
    A bog-standard Westernized Chinese-style set. I have one just like it except my tile backs are blue and my case is black. Yours even comes with the infamously useless yet omnipresent "Chinglish" instruction booklet. The missing corner W on one tile is surely just a manufacturing error of some kind.

    What price do you think it is roughly?
    $50 new; adjust as appropriate for condition. You sure work hard for your Ebay sales! Very commendable.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018 4:00 PM


    Concealed kongs (in all forms of mah-jongg except American)

    >From: Kent P
    >To: Peter Gregory <MahJongBritishRules...>; Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 9:05 PM
    >Subject: Declared Kongs
    >I teach a course "Learn & Play Mahjong" in the OLLI program at Sierra College in Grass Valley, California.
    >A minor disagreement has surfaced, the source of which appears to be a difference in rules put fourth 1) by Tom Sloper and 2) by Peter Gregory
    >Background basic: A kong is created by adding a fourth tile to a pung, all tiles being of the same value and same suit.
    >There are four types of Kongs, depending upon the location of the pung (concealed or revealed) and the source of the drawn tile (wall or discard pile).
    >The following table can be constructed:

      Tile from wall. Tile from discard pile
      Pung concealed in hand 1) "Concealed" Kong 2) Revealed Kong
      Pung revealed 3) Revealed Kong 4) Illegal

    >Furthermore, Kongs exist in two states:
    >A) During play, before any player goes Mahjong
    >B) Displayed for scoring, after any player goes Mahjong
    >The. question is, "How is a "Concealed" Kong converted into a "Declared" Kong and how are these to be displayed in state A) during play and in state B) for scoring?
    >Note: A concealed Kong may be:
  • >immediately declared
  • >held and declared at a later turn
  • >never declared but used for some other purpose.
    >☞ According to Tom Sloper:

      >"FAQ 20. When you have a concealed triplet in the hand, and you pick [draw from the wall?] the fourth tile, you are permitted to declare a "concealed kong." You certainly have to MELD it, not just tell the others. They have to see why you've got the right to have an extra tile in the hand. But the way most Chinese variants do it, the meld is face-down.
      >
      >"The players can all see that you have a melded kong, but they can't see what it is. It is "concealed." Once you've made the meld, you are permitted to take a replacement tile from the back end of the wall. Now you have 15 tiles in the hand, and that's OK because you've got a kong."

    >☞ According to the British Mahjong Association website:

      >"Q. How should you show an exposed kong? A. An end tile is shown face down. [When? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
      >"Q. How should you show a concealed kong? A. The two end tiles are shown face down. [Again when? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
      >"Q. Must I always show a kong that I have in my hand? A. Only if you intend to keep the kong [concealed?]. If you pick up a tile from the wall to make a concealed kong you must then lay that [the kong?] down and get a tile from the kong box. However, you are not forced to declare a concealed kong if you decide that you don’t want to keep it or if you are saving pairs for the special hand “All pair honours”. Note: A concealed kong has 2 tiles face up and 2 face down.
      >"Q. Can I add a tile to an exposed pung to make a kong? A. Yes, but only if you pick it up from the wall. You cannot claim a discarded tile to add to an exposed pung.

    >Note: The answer to the third BMJA question appears to be confused and ambiguous. Should a kong be kept concealed by showing? Is that a non sequitur?
    >According to Know The Game Mah-jong, page 23, " …when a kong is claimed the tiles are placed three face up and one - usually at one end to the set - face down. Once someone has gone Mah-Jong, concealed…Kongs are shown with both end tiles face down."
    >Which of these disparate rules should be followed? Should I make the choice? In which case, I would choose Tom Sloper's rule for declared Kongs, i.e., place the declared Kong face down during play of the hand.
    >Kent P

    Hi Kent, and hello Peter.
    Kent, in your table, you used the term "concealed kong" as definition #1 (pung concealed in hand plus a fourth picked from the wall), and I disagree with it.

    In all forms of mah-jongg except American, the term "concealed kong" has a specific meaning: it's a displayed kong, either with all tiles face-down or with the two middle tiles face-up, depending on the variant being played. I disagree with calling a fully concealed kong just "concealed" - I would rather call that "undeclared." But correspondents on the old newsgroup used the term "fully concealed." I think the wrong use of the term "concealed" in your table is what's behind your question.

    An undeclared kong is not conceptually the same thing as a pung plus a fourth tile used in a chow. The former is one set, and the latter is a set plus part of a set. It's also not conceptually the same thing as two identical pairs (as mentioned on the BMJA site quoted above). If you have an undeclared kong in the hand (the only thing the four tiles can do is form a kong), you cannot declare mah-jongg. You don't have enough tiles. You have the undeclared kong, and you have ten additional tiles (when it's your turn and you haven't discarded yet) - you need at least eleven additional tiles (not ten) in order to form three sets and a pair to go with your kong. So in that case you have to declare the kong, if you ever want to make mah-jongg. For this reason, I would discourage the use of the term "concealed" to refer to an undeclared kong. The BMJA description was not wrong in calling it "keep[ing] the kong," and did not use the term "concealed kong" to mean a kept kong which might be used as two pairs. I see no discrepancy between the two, given the proper usage of the term "concealed kong" as something that has been declared (and melded).

    The reason for declaring a concealed kong is so that one can draw a kong replacement tile from the back end of the wall - so that it's possible to use the four as a kong and still have enough tiles to declare mah-jongg.

    Sorry if that was belaboring the obvious, or came across as rambling! And I hope it satisfactorily explains things.
    Cheers!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 5, 2018 10:40 PM

    December 6, 2018 3:00 PM
    Kent, a followup. I just noticed I didn't reply to some of your questions (placed within the quoted sections) last night:

    "FAQ 20. When you have a concealed triplet in the hand, and you pick [draw from the wall?]
    Yes. That's how I define "pick" in the glossary of my book.

    "Q. How should you show an exposed kong? A. An end tile is shown face down. [When? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
    When melding and declaring the kong.

    "Q. How should you show a concealed kong? A. The two end tiles are shown face down. [Again when? During play of the hand or after a Mahjong is achieved?]
    At the moment of melding and declaring the kong.

    Finally, a question for you: I'm curious which variant it is you teach to your Sierra College students. British rules? Chinese competition rules? Or another Chinese variant?
    Cheers,
    Tom


    I called you dead but you're not. What now?

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2018 10:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hello Tom. Happy Holidays.
    >I call your hand dead. You say no it’s not and we all continue to play. You end up getting a Mah Jongg on a 30 cent hand. So clearly I was wrong in my death challenge. I believe I owe you BOTH the 30 cents for your winning hand and a quarter for my incorrect death challenge. Is that correct? Thank you! Barney

    Yes, Barney. Exactly correct.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 6, 2018


    Column #710 oopsie

    >From: Margaret S
    >Sent: Monday, December 3, 2018 3:42 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom , # 3 in your new column could also be Consec. #5 any run ???
    > thanks for all your wonderful help. Peggy

    Quite right, Peggy! So another hot tile is 6C.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 3, 2018


    New column

    It's been two months since the last one! I've been going through some stuff lately, but I know people value my columns, so there's a new one today. Defense puzzles. Did I get something wrong? Let me know, and get a tip o' the Sloper hat! - Tom


    Is 1123 like NEWS or 2018, part 2

    >From: Polly B
    >Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2018 7:41 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank you very much for your timely input.

    May the tiles be with you, Polly!
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 1, 2018 10:50 PM


    Is 1123 like NEWS or 2018?

    >From: Polly B
    >Sent: Saturday, December 1, 2018 4:15 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: The card for 2018 does not allow selecting a discarded tile for completing NEWS or for the date 2018, unless it's for Mah. Does the same rule apply under section quints for 1123?


    Same rule applies, Polly. For a more detailed answer, all the frequently asked questions about Quints #3 are answered in FAQ 16 (which also answers all the most frequently asked questions about the 2018 card - you might want to bookmark it).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    December 1, 2018


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