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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

1. "Mah-Jongg 101"
2a. Which MJ Rules To Learn?
2b. Which MJ Rules Do I Play?
3. Books on Mah-Jongg
  3b. 1920s Books
4a Selected Links
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7.
  7a. Types of Sets
  7b. Is It Complete?
  7c. What's It Made Of?
  -   7c2. Is It Ivory?
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  7s. Tiles 4 Sight-Impaired
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8. Strategy
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11. History of Mah-Jongg
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12.
13. Fewer Than 4 Players?
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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!
  • But BEFORE YOU ASK YOUR QUESTION, PLEASE CHECK THE FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and please scroll down and see if your question has already been asked and answered on the board.
  • PLEASE READ FAQ 19 BEFORE ASKING ABOUT AMERICAN / NMJL RULES. Your question has probably already been answered there.
  • IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT THE NMJL CARD, PLEASE READ FAQ 16.
  • IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A MAH-JONGG TEACHER, PLEASE READ FAQ 4A and check the Find Players/Teachers Bulletin Board and check FAQ 15.
  • 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.


    Ask "Mister Mah-Jongg" a question!

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

    Rules: No shouting, please. Typing in all capital letters is considered "shouting." Nobody is allowed to shout here but me! (^_^) If your question or comment is typed in all capital letters, it will be converted to all lower case before being posted here with my reply.
    Please don't ask me to click links to get more information about your question. Give me all the information in your email. Photos are okay as emailed attachments (JPG or PNG format, not PDF format).
    Please do not ask computer-game support questions here; read FAQ 24 to learn how to get tech support.
    If you are seeking a "Mah-Jong Solitaire" tile-matching game, please read FAQ 12.
    For reader enjoyment, humor is sometimes used in the responses that I give. Please don't be offended by a response given in the spirit of reader enlightenment and entertainment.
    Terms of Service and Privacy Policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.
    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted (exceptions: Find Players/Teachers posts, buyer/seller posts, and event organizer posts).
    The first time someone asks a question here, I send a reply email to let you know that you should come back and see your answer. If your email address is protected by a service that wants me to click a link and prove myself to be human, I don't click the link. You'll need to check back here to find your answer.
    This is an information exchange, not a social site. Due to the actions of spammers, all users' posts go through me, and when I post them, I omit email addresses (with exceptions as stated above). I have learned from experience that many (if not most) posters want their contact information to be kept private. Please do not ask to be put in touch with other people who've posted here, if their email addresses are not shown here. Please don't put me in that awkward position.
    Please note that this site is NOT associated with the National Mah Jongg League. Although questions about the League's card and rules are welcome here, please read FAQ 16 and FAQ 19 to see if your question has already been answered. Also, you can click here to learn how to contact the NMJL directly.

    If you appreciate the free information on this site, your donation would be gratefully accepted, and would help keep this site running as a free service. Thank you!


    Not tax-deductible

    Keep scrolling - the Q&A is below.


    homechef.com is a spammer ringcentral.com is a spammer safecrm.com is a spammer hotelangeleno.com is a spammer Anastasiia Moskovets is a spammer

  • What the heck is it? That joker is a mystery!

    >From: rgeiman
    >Sent: Friday, April 20, 2018 8:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: What does the symbol on a joker tile represent, that resembles a comet?
    >Thanks for all your informative information, it is appreciated.

    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. Your question is answered in FAQ 7-E, the "mystery tiles" FAQ. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    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, 2018 8:45 AM


    Can I redeem more than one joker in a turn?

    >From: BarbaraAnnC
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 11:43 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player has exposed 2 8 Dots & 2 jokers. I have 2 8 Dots in my hand. Can I exchange them at the same time for the 2 jokers???

    Hi, BarbaraAnn!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-N. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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 20, 6:40 AM, 2018


    20 F and 4 J pt. 4

    >From: Mark D
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 9:26 PM
    >Subject: Re: Valuation
    >Thanks for the info!
    If at all possible, could my last name be removed from the two places it appears in the email "From" section and my email signature line? If not, no problem, I just thought to ask.
    >Cheers,
    >Mark

    Oops, fixed.
    Tom
    April 19, 10:00 PM


    She always wants to look, part 2

    >From: C████
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 9:52 PM
    >Subject: RE: Asking about another's hand
    >Thank you for the quick response! I think your right. I am trying to get the ladies I am playing with to play to a different level. My Mom was an instructor and this was a given, but in the group I am playing with it’s not probably going to happen.

    >As a side. Any chance you can change my name? Or even remove the post? I did not realize my name would be on there. I think it would hurt my friends feelings if she saw this and that wasn’t my intention. I was hoping you would point me to some old FAQ.

    Post removal is out of the question. If you went into a restaurant and ordered a steak, then ate it and afterwards realized that it was not organic-grass-fed, you can't return the steak for a refund. Just so, once I have given you an answer to the question you asked, it cannot be ungiven (I cannot extract the answer I gave you from your head) - you asked, I answered, and I am unable to un-answer the question. The Terms of Service and Privacy Policy (stated above) says, in part:

      ...I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. ... No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public. ... Your last name and email address will usually be omitted...

    Even if your question had been frequently asked and there was an FAQ to point you to (it hadn't, and there isn't), your question would still be posted here. If your friend does see this exchange, then she'll have a better understanding of why you have been refusing to show her your hand, and the conversation can move on to another level. And in fact, the best way to get your group to move up a level might be to share your strategy, rather than withhold it. With them playing at your level, you'll probably find the game more challenging and interesting and fun!
    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, 2018 6:40 AM


    Can I exchange a joker for a non-joker tile? (FAQ 19-AL)

    >From: stel
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 8:38 PM
    >Subject: Joker
    >Hello Tom
    >I can’t find the answer to my question. Please forgive me if it’s in your enormous amount of information.
    >In American mahjong can a player exchange a joker for an exposed tile that is needed?
    >Thank you
    >Stella

    Hi, Stella! Sorry there's too much information on my site. You asked frequently asked question 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 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 19, 2018 9:05 PM


    She always wants to look at what I didn't win on

    >From: C████
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:51 PM
    >Subject: Asking about another's hand
    >Hi Mah Jongg King, (Just want to show my deference!)
    >I have a friend that asks to see my hand at the conclusion of every hand, when I am not the winner. If I defer and say I was playing a “3/6/9” for example (not the correct one) she will insist I wasn’t based on one of my discards. I explained to her today that this was my way of politely telling her I did to want to show her my hand. She was undeterred. So I followed up with “it’s bad strategy to show your hand for the variety of reasons.” I think she still thinks I am being rude. Do you have a FAQ on this.
    >I thought I had seen it in the past, but have spent several hours searching with no luck. I apologize if a repeat. Thanks so much for your thoughts. C████

    Hi, C████!
    You know this is not a question of rules, but is it therefore a question of strategy? There is a third thing involved, which is etiquette. She is not showing good etiquette by asking to see your hand. And if everybody at the table shows their hands, then you are not showing good etiquette by refusing. If someone asks what I was doing, I tell them. Good relations with other players outweighs any strategic advantage they're likely to get by knowing what hand you were doing, after the fact. Besides, if you ever had a fifth player, you would have to let the bettor watch what you're doing. And the bettor always changes (all your opponents will have a chance to watch you play). I don't see harm in 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
    April 19, 2018 8:35 PM


    Can a joker be used in a pair if it's for mah-jongg?

    >From: C Joan P
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:23 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: a person only needs two 4 cracks to complete mahjong. She has a spare joker and a 4 crack is discarded. Can she call for the 4 crack, put it with her joker and declare mahjong?
    >C Joan P

    No. Read 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 19, 2018 8:40 PM


    Can I expose NEWS, v3.0

    >From: Ellen P
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 11:15 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: are you allowed to call for a tile and expose NEWS?

    Hi, Ellen!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 16. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    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 19, 2018 8:20 PM


    Would like to help

    >From: Judy H
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 7:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I would like to make a donation but I prefer to use PayPal. Will you ever accept it?
    >I think your site is fabulous but I wish it had a search feature. Any possibility of that happening?
    >And, can you use any volunteer help? I am 75 and have been playing since childhood.
    >Judy

    Hi, Judy! to respond to your 3 questions:
    I do accept Paypal (clicking my Donate links sends you to Paypal). Thanks for the thought!
    I don't plan to try to learn how to do that. My day job keeps me plenty busy. I just use Google, like for instance, "can I expose NEWS sloperama.com," and I almost always find stuff on my site when I do that.
    Thank you kindly for the offer, but I manage well enough. (^_^)
    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 19, 2018 8:20 PM


    20 F and 4 J pt. 3

    >From: Mark D
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 5:23 PM
    >Subject: Valuation
    >Dear Tom,
    >I am wondering if you would mind providing a valuation of my set. If at all possible, could the photos I send of the tiles also go on the website (the one of the whole set)? The reason I ask about the photos is that I haven't really seen an identical set to mine on your site, CHarli's site, or elsewhere--I am sure there are many around, but it is good to see photos of what appears to be a complete 162 tile set.
    >If you do decide to do a valuation, here is the breakdown:
    >It is supposed to be a Cardinal set.
    >1. Tiles:
    >The 136 basic tile set with winds and dragons is complete
    >There are 20 flowers, 4 Jokers, and 2 blanks
    >The tiles are in Fine/Excellent condition
    >The material is labelled by Cardinal as Catalin and the colour is butterscotch
    >2cm x 3cm x 1cm tile size
    >162 total tiles
    >2. Racks
    >5 racks in very good condition
    >3. Chips / Counters
    >116 ( 10Y, 21W, 24G, 24B, 37R)
    >4. Case
    >Poor-fair condition. I replaced the rusted and broken hinges to make it functional. I will replace the missing handle with a leather one.
    >5. Other
    >4 NMJL 1964-64 Cards in good-vg condition.
    >Cardinal cardboard insert in good-vg condition
    >6. Date estimate based on CHarli's website and the NMJL Cards: 1960s. Sadly, it is not from the Quing Dynasty :)
    >Best,
    >Mark D
    >P4191015.JPG??
    > P4191016.JPG??
    > P4191017.JPG??
    > P4191021.JPG??
    > P4191022.JPG??
    > P4191025.JPG??
    > P4191026.JPG??
    > P4191027.JPG??
    > P4191028.JPG??
    > P4191029.JPG??
    > P4191031.JPG?

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 5:14 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Mark D
    > paypal
    > Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$20.00 USD from Mark D
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $20.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Mark D
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Hi, Mark. Okay, let's see...

    The tiles are in Fine/Excellent condition
    >5 racks in very good condition
    The tiles appear very well preserved indeed. The racks look very colorful.

    3. Chips / Counters
    >116 ( 10Y, 21W, 24G, 24B, 37R)
    It's likely that some chips have been lost. Your green and blue may be complete (divisible by 4) but your other colors have lost some. I don't know to what extent the majority of collectors might knock off points for missing chips, since they are easily if imperfectly replaced.

    4. Case
    >Poor-fair condition. I replaced the rusted and broken hinges to make it functional. I will replace the missing handle with a leather one.
    Yes, that's too bad. Those handles don't last - I've broken two on those old sets (from using them).

    5. Other
    >4 NMJL 1964-64 Cards in good-vg condition.
    Those have some value. But it's hard to pin down. (Don't throw them away.)

    Cardinal cardboard insert in good-vg condition
    Lucky thing that's still in there!

    6. Date estimate based on CHarli's website and the NMJL Cards: 1960s. Sadly, it is not from the Quing Dynasty :)
    If the set was made after 1955, I'd have to wonder why it has fewer than 24 flowers, unless the League informed Cardinal that they would never go back above 20 flowers. Manufacturers may have started including jokers before 1960, for all I know. I think "big jokers" predated "jokers" but OK, to be on the conservative side, say "1960s." The 1964-65 card requires 12F / 4J, which can be viewed as further support for that theory.

    The condition of the tiles is where the value of this set comes from. Your tiles look beautiful, the racks look good too. Having the original case doesn't enhance the value, given its condition. the other materials all seem to be in nice condition given the set's age. The solid yellow tiles (not having different colored backs) is the most common type of Cardinal set. A group I'm teaching has a set of tiles matching the quality of your tiles (or better).
    If tiles of your quality were in an equally-well-preserved case, I'm guessing the set might sell on eBay for more than $150 and less than $300. But all together, I'm thinking the set may be worth under $150, since a buyer might want to buy it a nicer case and will have to put joker stickers on four of the flowers.
    Thanks for the donation! Appreciate 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
    April 19, 2018 8:20 PM


    Didn't mean to discard that joker

    >From: Mike H
    >Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2018 1:50 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I called a 3 dots but threw a joker instead by accident, can I take it back off the table

    Sorry, Mike. "Down is dead." That means once it's "down," you can't take it back. See FAQ 19-A and 19-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
    April 19, 2018


    Fives, huh? How about nines?

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 9:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was just looking over the card in more detail tonight and noted that you mentioned that fives would be sought after due to the many hands where 4 fives could be used. I counted 22 hands where 4 fives could be used. But I also noticed that 4 nines could be used in 27 hands!
    >Both kongs of fives or nines may be very difficult to complete without jokers!
    >Bee

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 9:40 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi again,
    >I just read your column and now realize that you had an exchange with another follower on the fives and nines! Sorry to have repeated the idea that nines are also hot tiles!
    >Bee

    No prob, Bee. Always good to hear from 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 19, 2018


    20 F and 4 J pt. 2

    >From: Mark D
    >Sent: Monday, April 16, 2018 6:27 PM
    >Subject: Re: 20 Flowers 4 Jokers
    >Hello again,
    >Thank you for your response--much appreciated.
    >Mark

    You're welcome, Mark. Since your set had 20F and 4J, I think your set was made after 1947, possibly after 1949.
    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, 2018 6:35 PM


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Monday, April 16, 2018 7:45 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 MaryLou F
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: MaryLou F
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, MaryLou!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    20 F and 4 J

    >From: Mark D
    >Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2018 6:12 PM
    >Subject: 20 Flowers 4 Jokers
    >Dear Tom,
    >Thank you for your wonderful website and for the hours of enjoyment it has provided me. I just purchased my first mah jongg set, a vintage (for me this means 20+ yrs) set by Cardinal Industries. In trying to date the set, I looked at the NMJL cards which say 1964, 1964-65, 27th year. I also looked at your table of jokers & flowers. The included NMJL card rules are based on "12 flowers" and your chart lists 12f/4j for that year. Interestingly enough, my set comes with 20 flowers (5 of each number) and 4 jokers. Each number of flower is broken into a pair + three of a kind as regards their design.
    >All of this is a long winded way of saying that my particular configuration-if original-is not listed on your chart in case this information helps in some way.
    >Also, the rubbing alcohol worked great on the catalin, so thank you for that information.
    >Best,
    >Mark

    Hi, Mark! Thanks for writing. My F/J table (in column 509) is not there to delineate every possible F/J breakdown in manufactured American sets. It only delineates every combination of Flowers and Jokers on past NMJL cards. I theorize that the manufacturers of sets wanted to provide sufficient flowers and jokers for whatever the League might require in the uncertain future. Manufacturers wanted to be sure to include at least the numbers of Fs and Js that might appear on a future card. The table in column 509 does not precisely date the manufacture of a set; it's there to help readers arrive at an educated guess as to the set's approximate year of manufacture.
    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 15, 2018


    Oopsie in Column #701

    >From: Rebecca Alston Z
    >Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2018 2:57 PM
    >Subject: Column 701
    >I believe there is a “slip up” in the section of hands designated as” Two pairs, two pungs and a Kong”. The last entry on the right (FF NNNN DD SSSS) is not on the card and has insufficient tiles. The 4th hand in “2018” (22 000 NEWS 111 88) would fit this category.
    >Thanks for the 2018 card review, very helpful!
    >Rebecca Z

    Hi, Rebecca! I spotted that error right after I posted the column. Over the course of the next half hour or so, I fixed the FF hand in that image (made it into a proper FFFF hand). You must have visited the site during that time, and your browser has cached the old image so you can't see the fixed image (same filename). Although I had to figure out how to clear the image cache in my browser, I do not want to explain it for every possible browser. The easy way for you to see the updated image is to use a different browser (or google "how to clear image cache in [whatever browser you use]" - but then you might clear more things than you meant to).
    As for the 2018 NEWS hand, I did not include that in two-pairs-and-two-pungs-and-a-kong precisely because NEWS is not a kong. It's four singles, which makes it much easier (and that explains why it's concealed).
    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 15, 2018


    Thank you for the time you spend and for sharing your knowledge

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2018 3:11 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > paypal
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $50.00 USD from Charlotte I
    >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
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    >Contributor: Charlotte I
    >Message: Thank you so much for all the time you spend and for sharing your knowledge. You are awesome. I really appreciate it.
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    Thank you very much, Charlotte! I reciprocate the appreciation, like, back atcha! (^_^)
    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 15, 2018


    My mystery flowers

    >From: Peter G
    >Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2018 12:31 PM
    >Subject: What do the pictures in the Flower tiles depict
    >Dear Tom
    >Here are the Flower and Season tiles of a Mah-Jong bone and bamboo set that was bought in Selfridges, London in 1964.
    >Previous answers in your FAQs describe the meanings of the four ‘Animal Flower’ tiles (blue numbers), but I can’t see an explanation of the characters used to depict the four Season tiles (green numbers).
    >Can you say what (or who) they are and why they are used to depict the seasons?
    >Would I be correct in assuming that the red Chinese characters (in the top left hand corners) mean 1 - Spring, 2 - Summer, 3 - Autumn and 4 - Winter?
    >Many thanks
    >Peter G

    Hi, Peter! You wrote:

    Can you say what (or who) they are and why they are used to depict the seasons?
    No, sorry! One of our readers frequently enjoys this sort of thing and might post a reply. So you should keep coming back and checking this board.

    1 - Spring, 2 - Summer, 3 - Autumn and 4 - Winter?
    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
    April 15, 2018


    This week's column is up

    Dear readers,
    Column #701 is now online. Finishing up the 3-part analysis of the new 2018 card.
    Tom Sloper, April 15, 9:30 AM


    Called her dead but she's not. What now? (FAQ 19-AB)

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2018 2:38 PM
    >Subject: Happy Saturday
    >Player A calls Player B’s hand dead. Player B says her hand is not dead. Player A eventually gets Mah Jongg. After examining the tiles associated with the death challenge, Player A is indeed wrong as Player B’s hand was not dead. Is Player A’s Mah Jongg still valid? If Yes, I trust C and D pay her and then Player A pays B a quarter since B’s hand was not dead. True?
    >I know in a tournament the death challenge would have been immediately resolved, and Player A’s hand would be dead ( in our example here ) and hence she would never have been able to get Mah Jongg. It seems unfair to me that in home play C and D would have to play her in the scenario above.
    >Thx Tom!
    >Have a great weekend
    >Barney

    Hi, Barney. You wrote:

    Player A calls Player B’s hand dead. ... Player B’s hand was not dead. Is Player A’s Mah Jongg still valid?
    ¿Are you asking if a player is supposed to suffer death for making an erroneous death challenge? FAQ 19-AB gives the straight poop on that.

    I know in a tournament the death challenge would have been immediately resolved
    Tournament rules can indeed vary from what it says in the official rulebook. Every tournament organizer sets their own rules. I don't know offhand what universal process (if there is one) might be used to resolve both ambiguous and unambiguous exposures showing in a death challenge, on the spot - so I can't really respond to this.

    It seems unfair to me that in home play C and D would have to play her in the scenario above.
    Sorry, but I fail to see the unfairness of the official rule. I think you must have misunderstood how the rule is supposed to work.

    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 15, 2018 7:50 AM


    She had a "change of heart" - can she undo, or has she committed? (FAQ 19-AM)

    >From: Doris F
    >Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2018 3:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: when a player calls for a discarded tile, picks it up, and then decides she doesn't want it, is she committed to keeping it or can she put it down and draw from the wall?

    Doris, "I changed my mind, can I take it back?" is one of THE most frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg. See FAQ 19-AM. Please bookmark FAQ 19 and please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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 15, 2018 7:50 AM


    Exposed chows, part 2.2

    >From: Di N
    >Sent: Friday, April 13, 2018 10:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A - when to chow?
    >>> My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >>> (Australia - using ‘Thompson & Maloney’ book reference)
    >>> When can you chow from the left?
    >>> 1. Only in the one game of ‘Ordinary Mahjong’ Page 42 Thompson & Maloney
    >>> OR
    >>> 2. In any game that has a chow ‘meld’ included?
    >>> Thank you
    >>> Dianne

    Hi, Dianne. As you and I wrote on April 10:

    When can you chow from the left? ... in the [hand] of ‘Ordinary Mahjong’ Page 42 ? Or... In any [hand] that has a chow ‘meld’ included?
    You may make a chow if you are playing any hand that contains a chow and is not marked Concealed.

    Not exactly related but perhaps of interest: Some authors of Western/Australian mah-jongg prohibit making two chows during the formation of a hand (the only variant I can think of that has such a rule).
    Of course, you can always chow from anyone if the tile completes your mah jongg hand. You don't say "chow," you say "mah jongg."

    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
    Friday the 13th, April, 2018 10:40 PM


    Can she redeem her own joker later?

    >From: Christine W
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:07 PM
    >Subject: have tried to find an answer to this:
    >but haven't had any luck. if I missed it, apologies in advance.
    >Mary called for a 4 dot, exposed it with 1 4 dot and 2 jokers. discarded.
    >realized that she actually had 2 4 dots on her rack, and meant to expose
    >those 2 4 dots with the called 4 dot and one joker, instead.
    >can she, on her next turn, trade that 4 dot still on her rack for one of
    >the jokers that she exposed?
    >thank you!
    >best,
    >Christine

    Hi, Christine!
    Sorry that I didn't notice your email until today. Maybe it was your subject line...

    Subject: have tried to find an answer to this:
    That didn't jump out and say "mah-jongg" to me. Noticed it when I was cleaning out my mailbox today. Again: sorry for the delay!

    can she, on her next turn, trade that 4 dot still on her rack for one of
    >the jokers that she exposed?
    Sure. See FAQ 19-M3. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg (other than questions specific to the NMJL card) are found in FAQ 19. For all questions about the 2018 card, read FAQ 16.
    For your future reference, you can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    Friday the 13th, April, 2018


    Tiles were knocked off the wall; what now?

    >From: sharon s
    >Sent: Friday, April 13, 2018 11:40 AM
    >Subject: Maj rule
    >When player accidentally knock over tiles what is done?
    >Sharon S

    Hi, Sharon!
    Welcome to my website! Since you used the word "Maj," I assume you are asking about American (NMJL) rules. The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg (other than questions specific to the NMJL card) are found in FAQ 19. Your question is FAQ 19-BX.
    For your future reference, you can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. This one is easy to find (the "jokers" questions are at the top of the FAQ).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    Friday the 13th, April, 2018


    If there's no parenthetical...

    >From: peairs
    >Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2018 8:35 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >RE odd hands (example 2nd down, left side in odd hand section) it does not say 'these nos only' in parenthesis so could 111 333 3333 5555 be replaced with 333 555 5555 7777? Likewise 3rd had down, could FF 1111 3333 5555 be FF 3333 5555 7777? etc
    >Thank you!
    >Emily

    No. When there's no parenthetical, the card means what it says. Read FAQ 19-AJ.
    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
    Friday the 13th, April, 2018


    Tapping isn't racking, right?

    >From: Sara J. O
    >Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:57 AM
    >Subject: Pick and rack
    >Tom-Try as I did, I could not find the answer to this question. Sometime I play with a person who thinks racking is-tap the top of rack, look at it from the table, not rack and discard. I decided rather than to harp at her I would try to teach her a lesson. When we first started to play one gal mentioned to be more careful about really racking on the face of your rack. So when the offender tapped her rack with the tile then discarded it- I called for the previous tile and said that your tile was NEVER racked. The offender was surprised, but the other players agree. Now what would you have done if you were sick and tired of her quick, lazy? We are long time players as well.
    >Sara

    Hi, Sara!
    I'm sorry it is hard to find answers here; I'm constantly trying to find ways to make them easier to find. Your question is clearly about American mah-jongg (played with the annual NMJL card); most answers about American mah-jongg have been collected into one place: FAQ 19.

    Try as I did, I could not find the answer to this question.
    As of this date, there are 89 questions answered in FAQ 19. I realize 89 questions is a lot! I created a category system in FAQ 19 (this question is in the category "Picking, Racking") that I hope has made it easier to find answers.

    Sometime I play with a person who thinks racking is-tap the top of rack,
    FAQ 19-AD answers the question, "What does 'racking' mean?" This term is also defined in the latest edition of the rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy."

    look at it from the table, not rack and discard.
    There is no rule that says a player MUST rack before discarding. Look in the latest edition of the rulebook - it's not there. See FAQ 19-BL.

    I decided rather than to harp at her I would try to teach her a lesson. When we first started to play one gal mentioned to be more careful about really racking on the face of your rack. So when the offender tapped her rack with the tile then discarded it- I called for the previous tile and said that your tile was NEVER racked. The offender was surprised, but the other players agree.
    That makes me smile.

    what would you have done if you were sick and tired of her quick, lazy?
    I would have recommended that she buy the 2018 revised rulebook from the League, and I would have let it roll off my back when she refused or rebuffed the 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 12, 2018 10:40 AM


    Looking for the FAQ about how to handle Mah Jong errors

    >From: Dorothy D
    >Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:00 AM
    >Subject: Errors FAQ?
    >Hi
    >I see FAQ 9, Ettiquette and Errors - but it seems to be only about Ettiquette. I know that there is a FAQ - I have used it in the past - but now I can't find it! Looking for answers to questions like these:
    >Once you call for a tile, are you permitted to change your mind? If so, at what point? If you have exposed the sequence, but the next person hasn't drawn yet, can you change your mind and put the tile back?
    >If you discard a tile, I think it's on the table as soon as you name it. Right?
    >When a hand is declared dead, tiles already exposed remain in play. (Ie jokers can still be swapped.) But other tiles that are exposed as part of an invalid Mah Jong - do they stay on the rack? Do they go back into the player's hand?
    >Thanks for pointing me to the correct FAQ for more info about errors!
    >Dorothy

    Hi, Dorothy!
    I'm sorry that the name I chose for FAQ 9 misled you. It's not only about etiquette; it also includes thoughts on table practices and bad habits, and my general mah-jongg philosophies about how mistakes should be handled (when the rules are silent), in all forms and variants of mah-jongg (not only American). I'll put on my thinking cap about what I should rename FAQ 9.

    You didn't say which mah-jongg variant you play. Most people who ask me mah-jongg questions play American mah-jongg (using the annual National Mah Jongg League card), so I am often correct in assuming that the questions are about American mah-jongg (but sometimes that assumption proves to have been wrong). Although you spelled the game's name with a single G (the way players of un-American mah-jongg usually spell it), you also mentioned jokers, so I'm assuming your questions are about American mah-jongg (although some players of Wright-Patterson rules and other forms of mah-jongg also use jokers). Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg rules are found in FAQ 19. Those questions (answered in FAQ 19) are not only about errors, they're mainly about rules and also about American table practices. You asked:

    Once you call for a tile, are you permitted to change your mind? If so, at what point? If you have exposed the sequence, but the next person hasn't drawn yet, can you change your mind and put the tile back?
    FAQ 19-AM is the American mah-jongg "Change of Heart" FAQ, listing all the most frequently asked questions about wanting "backsies" or a "do-over."

    If you discard a tile, I think it's on the table as soon as you name it. Right?
    FAQ 19-A defines when a tile is "down" and may not be taken back by the discarder.

    When a hand is declared dead, tiles already exposed remain in play. (Ie jokers can still be swapped.) But other tiles that are exposed as part of an invalid Mah Jong - do they stay on the rack? Do they go back into the player's hand?
    The frequently asked question "Can a joker be redeemed from a dead player's rack" is FAQ 19-P.

    Sorry those answers were had to find! I'm thinking maybe I'll change the name of FAQ 9 to "Etiquette and Philosophy." Think that helps?
    On the Mah-Jongg FAQs main page (http://sloperama.com/mjfaq.html), FAQ 19 is listed with the titles "American Mah Jongg," "American Rules FAQs," and "American Mah-Jongg FAQs (and beginner Q's)." Now I wonder if those names need changing. What do you think?
    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 12, 2018


    Can I... expose a NEWS, part 2

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 4:50 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Sorry....I did try to find the FAQ for that question before I emailed you. Obviously I didn’t see it.
    >Thanks for your response.
    >Donna

    No need for sorry, Donna!
    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 12, 2018 9:40 AM


    Can I claim a discarded tile to expose a NEWS?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 4:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the 2018 card the hand containing NEWS and dragons...
    >Can you call for any of the NEWS tiles if it is not for Mah Jongg but to expose?
    >Thank you,
    >Donna

    Hi, Donna!
    The question you have asked has been asked many times before (most recently by Cheryl H, two days ago, below). It's a "Frequently Asked Question," or what is called an FAQ. I have written answers to all the most frequently asked questions about mah-jongg. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always look for answers in the FAQs before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Your question is about the 2018 NMJL card. FAQ 16 answers all the most frequently asked questions about the 2018 card. FAQ 16 has the answer you seek.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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, 2018 4:20 PM


    False hu in MCR, part 2

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:36 AM
    >Subject: and to continue with my question..
    >* When a person declares mahjong and displays his tiles and then finds out he doesn’t have enough points or has some other error, we understand that he continues playing and cannot win that hand, but what does he do with his displayed tiles? Does he leave them on display or return them to his undisplayed hand/rack?
    >http://www.sloperama.com/images/leta.gifThe player must return the displayed tiles to their previous upright (concealed) position. If you use racks, they must be re-racked. I guess I need to add this to the errata, for all or most of rule 84.
    >So let’s say the person declaring the incorrect mahjong already has several sets on his rack BEFORE he declares. Do all of the tiles on his rack get reracked or just the last ones he declared the hu with?
    >As always, thank YOU! Your answers are always valued and clear. My question just wasn’t completely thought all the way through yet. Lynn

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:29 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Lynn M P
    > paypal
    > Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Lynn M P
    >Donation Details
    >/Note
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
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    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Lynn M P
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Hi Lynn! Thanks for the donation.
    This is a rule that is well documented in American mah-jongg but not in MCR. So I answered it in detail in FAQ 19-P. The error was not evident prior to the player's hu declaration, which means that those prior exposures must have been proper (anyone looking at the exposures alone has insufficient cause to call the hand dead). The erroneous exposure (the remainder of the hand apart from the prior exposures) shows the hand to be dead, so the erroneous exposure must be returned to the upright (concealed) position, while the exposures made prior to the error may remain exposed. Thanks again for the donation!! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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, 2018 3:05 PM


    Column 699

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 6:44 AM
    >Subject: column 699
    >Hi Tom,
    >I noted with interest your comment on the popularity of "5's" in this year's card. I counted the places that "9's" were used and I think 9's are going to be even more necessary than 5's this year. Or am I missing something? I enjoy your insights/observations.
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    I did go out on a limb with that one. But look at the 13579 family. Every hand that needs nines also needs fives, but there are also hands that need fives and don't need nines. Also, there is only ONE hand in 13579 that needs fewer than three fives (#6). If you just count the fives in 13579, there are 42! Count the nines - just 27. Of course, nines are needed for 369 (and fives are not). So you may be onto something there.
    But we haven't talked about Consec yet. Consec #1 needs either four or two fives, depending on which one you do - and either zero or four nines. But each hand in Consec is a run of sequential numbers, and five occupies the central position in the overall scheme of things, so it's just statistically more likely that fives will be used a lot more than nines in Consec overall.
    But this is all just guesswork and approximation on my part.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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, 2018 9:20 AM


    Exposed chows, part 2

    >From: Di N
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 3:26 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >(Australia - using ‘Thompson & Maloney’ book reference)
    >When can you chow from the left?
    >1. Only in the game of ‘Ordinary Mahjong’ Page 42 ?
    >Or
    >2. In any game that has a chow ‘meld’ included?
    >Thank you
    >Di N

    Hi, Di! I'm glad you came back with a follow-up. Apologies that I am a stickler on words - mainly, what is a "game," and what is a "hand." You and I mean different things by those words. You asked...

    When can you chow from the left? ... in the game of ‘Ordinary Mahjong’ Page 42 ?
    Now I know that your book is The Mah Jong Player's Companion, not their main book, The Game of Mah Jong, Illustrated. "Ordinary Mahjong" on page 42 of MJPC is not a "game" - it's a "hand." I was going to answer yes; in the game of plain old common ordinary run-of-the-mill mah jong, players may always chow; but that's not the game you play. See page 8 of your book; Thompson & Maloney call these "hands" and they call the game "Western" Mah Jongg. Eighteen years ago, I used to call it "Vanilla Western," and then I called it "Western/British/Australian," but that's too long. When I edited Mah Jong, Anyone? by Strauser & Evans, I changed the book's subtitle from A Manual of Modern Play to A Manual of Western Play. Sorry. Went off on a tangent there.

    Or ... In any game that has a chow ‘meld’ included?
    You may make a chow if you are playing any hand that contains a chow and is not marked Concealed. Some authors of Western/Australian mah-jongg prohibit making two chows during the formation of a hand (the only variant I can think of that has such a rule).
    Of course, you can always chow from anyone if the tile completes your mah jongg hand. You don't say "chow," you say "mah jongg."

    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 10, 2018 4:00 PM


    Some advice and value

    >From: billy l
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 5:15 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi I’ve got a 1920 mahjong leather case made from bone I think it’s lovel could I have some advice on it please and value

    Hi, Billy.
    I'm sorry, but you have not given me enough to go on.
    You didn't tell me exactly how many tiles are in the set. I assume there are 148; if there are fewer, you must tell me what's missing. See FAQ 7B and FAQ 7E.
    You didn't tell me what condition everything is in. The container is very beat up, meaning its condition is "Fair." The tiles themselves look to be in better condition, but maybe I'm not seeing the worst ones. See FAQ 7H. Value is extremely condition-dependent.
    You didn't show the most attractive tiles (the flowers). You didn't show the One Bams (which can be indicative of place or time of origin).
    You said the set is from the year 1920. It is not. It might be from the decade of the 1920s but I don't see any confirmation of that - could also be from the 1930s or 1940s. See column #610 for what a 1920 set would look like.
    You didn't say whether the dice coffin contains all its original dice, or whether the mingg contains all its wind discs. You didn't say how many sticks there are of each denomination (I did see that the set has a mix of bone sticks and plastic sticks, meaning some original sticks were lost and somebody replaced them with newer ones). See FAQ 7D. I also see that some of the sticks have lost paint (that paint is water-soluble, making them highly susceptible to paint loss).
    You say the tiles are bone and bamboo. But the white portion of the tiles I see is very white, shiny, and smooth - they might be plastic and bamboo. See FAQ 7C. The fact that the design of the bams I can see looks more modern than the designs typically seen on 1920s sets further make me suspect that the tiles could be plastic. And that would make the tiles of more recent origin (maybe as late as the 1990s). The set could be a Frankenstein of new tiles in an old case, for all I know. I need to see all the tiles, arranged nicely as per FAQ 7H.
    After you've given me enough information, I can help estimate your set's value.
    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 10, 2018 8:20 AM


    Mixed chows and exposed chows

    >From: Di N
    >Sent: Monday, April 9, 2018 10:27 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Mixed chow: (Thompson & Maloney)
    >1. Can you take a discarded tile from the left to make an ‘exposed’ MIXED chow or can you only take a discarded tile from the left to make a chow of all one suit?
    >2. How would you score a hand with an exposed chow? Assume a ‘half limit’ score?
    >Thank you
    >Di N

    G'day, Di! You asked:

    Can you take a discarded tile from the left to make an ‘exposed’ MIXED chow or can you only take a discarded tile from the left to make a chow of all one suit?
    Mixed chows are not generally regarded as exposable groupings. But it is common practice for players of Australian/British mah-jongg to create their own table rules. If your group wants to try permitting that, I think you'll find that the game becomes too easy, and in fact gets in the way. Like keeping the trainer wheels on your bicycle long after you've mastered staying upright.

    How would you score a hand with an exposed chow? Assume a ‘half limit’ score?
    I don't know. Which hand? You are right that many Australian/British special hands score full limit when concealed and half limit when exposed; if you're talking about one of those, then "yes." Some hands, though, must be concealed and may not be exposed. Some even score double limit. Check your Thompson & Maloney book for scoring, on a case-by-case basis.

    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 10, 2018 8:20 AM


    Shouldn't I get a jokerless bonus for a S&P hand?

    >From: Star Fire
    >Sent: Monday, April 9, 2018 8:46 PM
    >Subject: RE: Values on a joker less hand -- Singles & Pairs
    >Singles & Pairs -- when determining values for a Mah Jongg. Drew the winning tile so everyone paid double ($1.00); but of course, it was a joker less hand, do you get credit for that also to make it $2.00? Or would it be only $1.00 since there is no choice but to have no jokers?
    >Thanks
    >Star Fire

    Hi, Star Fire! You asked:

    Singles & Pairs ... Drew the winning tile so everyone paid double ($1.00); but of course, it was a joker less hand, do you get credit for that also to make it $2.00?
    Sorry, no.

    Or would it be only $1.00 since there is no choice but to have no jokers?
    Read the back of the card (upper left corner).

    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 9, 2018 9:25 PM


    2018 S&P Qs

    >From: Shula
    >Sent: Monday, April 9, 2018 7:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the new 2018 card, the singles and pairs section.
    >NN EE WW SS 11 22 33 ( any 3 consec . No’s)
    >Does this mean the numbers have to be 3 consec . No’s . BUT what suit (1) or each number can be a different suit?
    >FF 11 22 33 44 55 DD (any 5 consec, no’s)
    >What suit?.
    >Thank you for the answer.
    >Shula
    >Merrick, NY

    Hi, Shula! I neglected to foresee these questions when I updated FAQ 16, but (thanks to you) I'm getting the chance now to make the FAQ better! (^_^)

    2018 card, the singles and pairs section.
    >NN EE WW SS 11 22 33 ( any 3 consec . No’s)
    >Does this mean the numbers have to be 3 consec . No’s . BUT what suit (1)
    NN EE WW SS 11 22 33 (Any 3 Consec. Nos.)
    You get to decide which suit (or should I say it's the Mah-Jongg Goddesses who decide).

    or each number can be a different suit?
    Count the colors. On the back of the card, it says: "1 color—any 1 suit; 2 colors—any 2 suits; 3 colors—3 suits." This hand is printed in one color. That means that this hand is a one-suit hand.

    FF 11 22 33 44 55 DD (any 5 consec, no’s)
    >What suit?.
    FF 11 22 33 44 55 DD (Any 5 Consec. Nos.)
    It's one color. "1 color—any 1 suit," it says on the card. Card color does not dictate suit.

    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 9, 2018, 7:55 PM


    Please explain the logic of this rule

    >From: Rose B
    >Sent: Monday, April 9, 2018 2:30 PM
    >Subject: Racking tiles after a dead hand is declared
    >Mr. Sloper,
    >Re: FAQ 19 – AMERICAN MAH-JONGG FAQS – THE GENERAL RULE ON JOKER VALIDITY
    >Firstly, please know that I understand the rules of the joker – when it can be taken or not. And my question is not about the joker specifically.
    >My question is about a dead hand but I found this following text in the joker section.
    >I am not questioning the rule (a rule is a rule) but I do not understand the logic. If a player has incorrectly called and exposed a MJ, why are the erroneous tiles returned back to the rack? It seems to me that the other players are being penalized. A tile they may need will never be played/discarded. When the tiles are returned to the rack, the other remaining players will never know what tiles are unavailable and that their tile will never be available to call. Seems unfair to me.
    >Thanks in advance.
    >Rose
    >**************************
    >[text quoted from FAQ 19-P omitted ]
    >**************************

    Hi, Rose!
    I was not present at the creation of the rules, so I don't know what conversations or events may have led to the creation of this one. I am happy to discuss the pros and cons of the rule, but I cannot explain it or justify it. All I can do is share with you my point of view on it. You wrote:

    If a player has incorrectly called and exposed a MJ, why are the erroneous tiles returned back to the rack? It seems to me that the other players are being penalized.
    Your feeling is that an unfairness has been perpetrated on the surviving players, I get that. But is it the fault of the rules that players feel like they've been treated unfairly, or is it the fault of the player who made the huge error? As I wrote in FAQ 9, Philosophy 5, when an error occurs, the game's harmonic flow is disturbed (I'm paraphrasing). Larger errors incur larger penalties, which cause heightened disturbance in the game's harmony. Small errors cause small disturbances, affecting one person only a little. Huge errors cause huge disturbances, causing every player pain, not only the erring player.
    Erroneous mah-jongg is a serious error; a player has dashed ice water on the other players' hopes, and some players may even throw in their tiles. The penalty to the erring player is severe; she is no longer permitted to play. Your objection is...

    A tile they may need will never be played/discarded.
    Well, you had a chance to look at them before the hand was declared invalid.

    If it helps, I have played in China and Japan and other countries, and have an extensive library of books on numerous variants, so I can attest that this rule also exists in un-American mah-jongg.

    The error was what? She showed her hand; she thought it was a winner; she was wrong. That was an error. Should the error be allowed to continue to sit there, thumbing its nose at all the players? Or should the error be rectified as well as it can be, given the enormity of the blunder that has occurred? Put the newly exposed tiles back, then impose the penalty on the erring player.

    When the tiles are returned to the rack, the other remaining players will never know what tiles are unavailable and that their tile will never be available to call.
    Whose fault is that? The dummy who created the rule (or the dummy who kept the rule from the Chinese), or the player who said mah-jongg with an invalid hand, or the player who never bothered to look at the hand to figure out that it was erroneous (or did look, but can't remember what hand it was)? Or maybe a combination? I don't think all the blame needs to be laid at the feet of the creator of the 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
    April 9, 2018, 4:10 PM


    Can I claim a discarded tile to expose a NEWS?

    >From: Cheryl H
    >Sent: Monday, April 9, 2018 10:49 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Is it acceptable to “take” a tile “N, E, W, or S” to forms “NEWS” on 2018 Mahjongg card when not having “mahjongg”?? In other words is “NEWS” considered 4 separate tile, therefore, each tile must be drawn or can to “take” a discarded tile to make the word?

    Hi, Cheryl!
    The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question," or what is called an FAQ. I have written answers to all the most frequently asked questions about mah-jongg. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always look for answers in the FAQs before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Your question is about the 2018 NMJL card. FAQ 16 answers all the most frequently asked questions about the 2018 card. FAQ 16 has the answer you seek.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 9, 2018


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Sunday, April 8, 2018 1:09 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Caroline G (kelly.g
    > paypal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$75.00 USD from Caroline G (kelly.g ).
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    Wow! Thank you so much, Caroline!
    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 8, 2018


    A "change of heart" question Can she change her exposure?

    >From: Sue A
    >Sent: Saturday, April 7, 2018 7:17 PM
    >Subject: Change mind on exposure
    >My friend called a flower, she exposes jokers and flower to form a Kong, then she realizes she needs only three flowers. She wants to put one back and then discard. I see nothing wrong with this since she has not discarded yet. But others at table objected.
    >I looked for this in your questions and answers??
    >Sue Austinson

    Hi, Sue! You wrote:

    Subject: Change mind on exposure
    Easy. See FAQ 19-AM, the "change of heart" FAQ.

    My friend called a flower, she exposes jokers and flower to form a Kong, then she realizes she needs only three flowers. She wants to put one back and then discard. I see nothing wrong with this since she has not discarded yet. But others at table objected.
    Oh, that's different. That's "Can I change my exposure if I haven't discarded yet?" (FAQ 19-AF). Sorry for jumping the gun on the subject line - but now I realize that the two are related questions. Under the category "change of heart" I was only answering the questions about deciding not to complete a move one had begun (an "undo," or "backsies"). I hadn't considered that changing course midstream could also be seen to fit into that category, since one is about changing one's mind, and the other is about undoing a mistake. So, thanks to you, I have now made it easier (hopefully) to find that question in FAQ 19. Full details on your situation, the lady who exposed a kong and wanted to change it to a pung (and had not yet discarded, as you pointed out), are in FAQ 19-AF (not FAQ 19-AM).

    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 7, 2018, 10:08 PM


    Typo????

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Saturday, April 7, 2018 8:04 PM
    >Subject: Typo??
    >Typo???
    >The new-pattern hands are 2014 #4, Evens #1, Quints #2, Quints #4, and Consec #7. I don't think the Twelves are all that different conceptually from last year's Thirteens.

    Hi, D N! I recognize those words as being from column #699. That means I can easily fix it. 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 7, 2018 9:50 PM


    Tomorrow's column is up today - the 2018 card (part 2)

    Dear readers,
    Column #700 is now online. Analysis of the new 2018 card, part 2. I don't know exactly how many parts the series will be, but I know there will be a part 3 - probably next weekend.
    Tom Sloper, April 7


    How do you stand it?

    >From: Cyvi L
    >Sent: Friday, April 6, 2018 7:08 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: you are so patient, although I do detect some grumpiness. My question is How do you stand it? A good drink while you write? Some medications, perhaps? Thanks for hanging in there!
    >Cyvi

    Hi Cyvi!
    "A good drink"? No, that doesn't help. I just write, then re-read what I wrote, and take out anything that's unclear or isn't nice. But I appreciate the thought! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 6, 2018


    My students refuse to play for money

    >From: barbara w
    >Sent: Friday, April 6, 2018 7:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mahjong question or comment is: I am teaching a class in mahjong strategies to a group of fairly new players. They feel playing for money is “gambling” and don’t want to that. I feel that many strategies are more important when you are paying. Do you have a good reason or argument to try and sway them to play for money? Thank you.

    Hi, barbara!
    You need to adapt to your players' moral preferences. The customer is always right - so they are right, and you are wrong. You should have them play for the colorful plastic coins/chips that come with all American mah-jongg sets. Each player needs chips representing 50¢, 25¢, 10¢, and 5¢ so they can make payments to one another with colorful plastic instead of real coins. Put them on those brass prongs at the left end of the racks, each player starting with the same combination of denominations for scorekeeping purposes as I described in FAQ 7-D.
    Personally, I'm happy to play for not-real-money, but the other players always insist, so I do as the Romans do. In your case, the Romans don't want to gamble.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 6, 2018


    Thank you so much for creating such a valuable website.

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Friday, April 6, 2018 6:50 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 Ellen F
    >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
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    >Sincerely,
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    Thank you very much, Ellen!
    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 6, 2018


    False hu in MCR

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Thursday, April 5, 2018 2:59 PM
    >Subject: False Mahjong Declaration
    >Hi Tom,
    >Another question has come up in our world of Chinese Mahjong in Bishop, CA. We’ve tried to find the answer in your book, but couldn’t . When a person declares mahjong and displays his tiles and then finds out he doesn’t have enough points or has some other error, we understand that he continues playing and cannot win that hand, but what does he do with his displayed tiles? Does he leave them on display or return them to his undisplayed hand/rack?
    >Likewise, if a person declares mahjong and realizes before he displays his tiles that he has made a mistake, does he leave the tiles in his hand or does he have to display them and continue the play , but with no chance of winning the round, of course?
    >Always appreciate your responses and expertise! And we always donate a bit. Lynn

    Hi, Lynn P.! Sorry these aren't in my book. You asked:

    When a person declares mahjong and displays his tiles and then finds out he doesn’t have enough points or has some other error, we understand that he continues playing and cannot win that hand, but what does he do with his displayed tiles? Does he leave them on display or return them to his undisplayed hand/rack?
    The player must return the displayed tiles to their previous upright (concealed) position. If you use racks, they must be re-racked. I guess I need to add this to the errata, for all or most of rule 84.

    Likewise, if a person declares mahjong and realizes before he displays his tiles that he has made a mistake, does he leave the tiles in his hand or does he have to display them and continue the play, but with no chance of winning the round, of course?
    "Empty hu" is penalized by "prohibition from declaring hu" for the duration of the hand (rule 84.c.). Player does not have to display tiles (that would be a different error - an error isn't penalized by being forced to commit another error) (see also rule 85.d.).

    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 6, 2018


    New column is up - the 2018 card (part 1)

    Dear readers,
    Column #699 is now online. Analysis of the new 2018 card. Part 2 will appear this weekend.
    Tom Sloper, April 5


    Oopsie in FAQ 16

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Thursday, April 5, 2018 11:08 AM
    >Subject: Typo?
    >Hi Tom, I think I’ve spotted a typo in your new answer to the 2018 card. In (2018 #1), right above the pictures where you’ve circled the ‘NOTE:’ item on the top of the card you say "(the parenthetical says "any 2 suits”)”. I believe that should be ‘any 3 suits’ since the hand being discussed requires 3 suits.
    >TimA

    Thanks, Tim. I fixed it. A lot of FAQ 16 is just copied from past years, since many of the hands are repeats. I missed that edit. Thanks again.
    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 5, 2018


    FAQ 16 Updated for 2018

    Dear readers,
    FAQ 16 has been updated to reflect the new 2018 card. Hope you find it helpful!
    Tom Sloper, April 5


    Looking for players tips

    >From: Lauren M
    >Sent: Thursday, April 5, 2018 9:37 AM
    >Subject: Find Players/Teachers
    >Location (city and state or zip code): Montclair NJ 07042
    >The mah-jongg variant I play is: American
    >I r to spend my time practicecently learned to play mah=jongg at the YMCA and on a cruise. I have been fortunate to find a very nice game once a week. The players are tolerant and helpful. But I want to practice and learn and speed up between weekly games. I could use lessons if that would help.
    >What to you suggest to improve my game between sessions? Lauren

    Hi, Lauren!
    I write columns about how to improve your game. Click the purple banner atop this page to get to the columns. I just got the new card a couple days ago, and I just posted a revised FAQ 16. Working on a couple of columns now.
    But the best way to come up to speed on the new card (assuming that would help you speed up in general) is to take out your mah-jongg tiles and sit with the new card, forming each hand with real tiles to make sure you understand how each hand works.
    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 5, 2018


    Can the numbers in Any Like Numbers be any number? Do they have to be alike?

    >From: Susan L
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 9:49 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Under any like numbers the example is:
    >FF 1111 DDDD 1111 (any 3 suites)
    >Do the ones always have to be ones? Or can they be twos, threes, fours, etc?
    >Matching numbers but different suites?
    >Thanks for taking my question.
    >Sue

    Hi, Susan!
    In past years, this section was only titled "LIKE NUMBERS." One new thing the League did this year was to add the word "ANY" to the section title. All the information you need about this hand is contained in the section name and the parenthetical (color-coding and the "suitedness" of dragons are explained on the back of the card). Since the name of the section is ANY LIKE NUMBERS, the numbers can be ANY numbers, but they have to be ALIKE one another. Since the number kongs are different colors, they have to be different suits.
    I'll be rewriting FAQ 16 in the next few days, to answer the frequently asked questions about the yearly card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 4, 2018


    Where is my card (frownyface emoji)

    >From: Lynda E
    >Sent: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 7:17 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Where is my card??
    >Lynda E

    Hi, Lynda!
    I am neither the NMJL nor the USPS, so I can only offer some completely useless guesses:
    Maybe it's in the mail.
    Maybe it's queued to be mailed soon.
    Maybe it got stuck behind a mail bin at the post office.
    Maybe the League lost your order.
    Maybe you forgot to order it.
    Maybe it's in the easter egg in The Oasis, and you have to find the three keys before you can unlock it.
    IOW: I have no idea where your card is. Hey, I just heard from the USPS yesterday that they have a new app for people wondering where their mail is. Seriously! I'm going to download the app - sounds like a good thing.
    May the card be with you soon.
    Tom Sloper

    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 4, 2018


    NEWS is a kong, isn't it?

    >From: Sally C
    >Sent: Tuesday, April 3, 2018 3:23 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sent from Mail for Windows 10
    >2018 card contains two hands with NEWS. In the past NEWS has always been considered as singles. This year I can not find any information on the card that indicates it is treated as singles. Can you clarify this for me?

    Hi, Sally!
    I see what you're saying - if it isn't four singles, then it must be a kong, is that it? If you look at the back of the card, you'll see the definition of a kong. But my definition of a kong is better, if I do say so myself. That's in FAQ 19-E. (I just got the new card yesterday, so I haven't been able to update FAQ 16 yet.)
    You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Another thought: in the absence of a statement saying that a rule has been changed, perhaps one could surmise that the rule has not been changed. Anyway... 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 3, 2018


    Subscribe me

    >From: Sandy H
    >Sent: Monday, April 2, 2018 4:01 PM
    >Subject: Your email column
    >I would like to subscribe.
    >sandy h

    Sorry, Sandy! I don't know how to implement that technology. There will be some columns coming up very soon! And a new FAQ 16, as well.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom


    How should this be scored?

    >From: Jeanne W
    >Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2018 4:55 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I’m east, roll doubles, draw my own tile for mah jongg, and have no jokers. What is due from each player for a 25 cent hand?
    >I think $1, others believed more was due. We settled for $1 and agreed to ask the experts for future reference
    >Thanks in advance for your answer
    >Jeanne

    Hi, Jeanne!
    I don't do math for free! :p But I'll help you enumerate the factors.

    I’m east,
    Why mention that? You mentioned jokers and 25¢ hands, so I assume you play American mah-jongg, not Chinese. Being East can increase your score in Asian rules - not American.

    roll doubles,
    I don't know your table rules. See FAQ 14.

    draw my own tile for mah jongg,
    Okay, that doubles your score, like it says on the back of the card.

    and have no jokers.
    Like it says on the back of the card, that also doubles the score.

    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 29, 2018


    Can I say mah-jongg on a discard if I'm waiting to complete a pair?

    >From: Doris
    >Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2018 5:54 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can I take a tile someone threw away to go mah jongg if it makes my pair in a concealed hand?
    >I know I could if it was a pung, kong or quint? Thank you.
    >Doris

    Good morning, Doris. Please read FAQ 19-E3. You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. (This question is in the section "CLAIMING A DISCARD, and the WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY.") Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    March 29, 2018


    What's in a word, part 2

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 9:09 AM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Barney G (barneyg
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$25.00 USD from Barney G. You can view the transaction details online .
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $25.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Barney G
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Barney!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    What's in a word: "racked"

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2018 7:42 AM
    >Subject: Racked Tile
    >Good Morning Tom.
    >Quick question. I have read everything on your site that pertains to “racking” a tile - or calling a tile “racked”. FAQ 19 AD….beautifully spells it all out. I do not see any differentiation in there between a tile picked from the wall and a tile called (the last discarded tile) from the table. Not sure there needs to be a differentiation but a nice conversation today on-line proves there is some debate. I thought if you called a discarded tile and placed it on top of your rack - the term “racked” really would not apply to that tile. That tile would simply be described as “on top of your rack”. Others feel the definition of “racking” is two-part, specifically if it’s a tile taken from the wall, it is racked when sitting on the sloping part of the rack (we all agree) and if it’s a called tile it is “racked” when either you place it on top of your rack or on the sloping part of your rack. Would love your perspective on this.
    >Thank you
    >Barney

    Hi, Barney.
    Putting a tile atop the rack is not "racking." It's "exposing."
    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, 2018


    Strategy and death

    >From: Paul A
    >Sent: Monday, March 26, 2018 8:55 PM
    >Subject: American Mahj: Making others aware of what NOT to discard; Calling players dead
    >Hi Tom,
    >Great site! I've read so much and my apologies if I missed this as I'm a new player. Three questions:
    >1) Is it illegal, frowned upon, unethical, or good strategy to make sure players know what tiles to NOT discard? Not everyone will immediately recognize that a player is working on a particular hand.
    > 2) Calling hands dead seems mean. Is it understood to just be part of the game or should I expect people to take it personally and/or argue? I could be holding a 3rd tile that a player needs for a pair, discard, then say "your dead". Sounds like fighting words!
    > 3) If the dead player denies being dead, how does she prove it in the end? After all, perhaps she wasn't dead the moment it was called but became dead later. Should the dead player take a picture of the discards?
    > Thanks in advance!
    >Paul

    Hi, Paul! You wrote:

    Is it illegal, frowned upon, unethical, or good strategy to make sure players know what tiles to NOT discard?
    Have you ever watched a poker tournament on TV? Is it normal and customary to see professional high-stakes poker players advise each other honestly on strategy, with millions of dollars at stake? As for American mah-jongg, I wrote about sharing information in column 654 and column 689.

    Since you're a new player, you might want to bookmark my column (you can always click the purple banner atop many pages of my site to get to the column). A new card is coming in the next few days, so I'll be writing a lot about it.

    Calling hands dead seems mean.
    A lot of people agree with you. I've heard from players whose groups have an "everybody stays alive" table rule. The American death rule is unique among mah-jongg variants - in un-American mah-jongg, a dead player (a player who will not be permitted to win) continues playing defensively.

    Is it understood to just be part of the game
    Well, it IS just part of the game, not that everybody "understands" it that way (which is what you asked).

    or should I expect people to take it personally and/or argue?
    You should expect that SOME people will.

    I could be holding a 3rd tile that a player needs for a pair, discard, then say "your dead".
    Yes, if her exposures demonstrably show that she needs a pair of that tile, and she didn't call mah-jongg on your discard. Not an uncommon series of events.

    Sounds like fighting words!
    Try to rise above that thought. Be the person who accepts fair penalties as just; be the person who can gently inform an opponent that her hand is unfortunately dead.

    If the dead player denies being dead, how does she prove it in the end?
    By showing her tiles at the completion of the hand, as per FAQ 19-AB (in the "YOU'RE DEAD" section of FAQ 19).

    After all, perhaps she wasn't dead the moment it was called but became dead later. Should the dead player take a picture of the discards?
    Photographs of the discard floor are probably less useful/necessary than you think. A "game" (or "hand") normally takes about 15 minutes. As per FAQ 19-AA, most of the circumstances that justify a death challenge are based on the challengee's exposures, together with other tiles on the table visible to all players. Those exposures and other tiles remain visible throughout the 15-minute hand. More tiles will be visible by the end of the hand (not fewer), so photos are probably unnecessary. After a death challenge is denied, the challenger and the challengee are going to be watching proceedings carefully and storing away any pertinent new information in short-term memory. I've never encountered a situation in which nobody could remember the reason for a death challenge and the validity of the challenge could not be proved because there was no photographic evidence.

    You can link to FAQ 19 above left. Please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    March 27, 2018


    Called me dead but I'm not. What now? (Frequently Asked Question 19-AB)

    >From: Marlene R
    >Sent: Monday, March 26, 2018 8:45 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is the penalty to a player who calls another players hand dead when it isnt.

    Hi, Marlene!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a "Frequently Asked Question" (an FAQ). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. You'll find your answer in FAQ 19-AB.
    For your future reference, you can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 26, 2018


    Frequently Asked Question 19-M2: Can I redeem a joker before I take a discard?

    >From: Jeanne T
    >Sent: Saturday, March 24, 2018 9:48 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >This may be a little bit complicated but here is my question. I encountered this in today's game:
    >East had (2) 3 BAMS in her hand but needed a total of 4 BAMS to expose.
    >A 3 BAM was discarded by South.
    >She could not pick it up of course but the West player had a tile exposed with a Joker which East could exchange for an un-needed tile she was sitting on. So she wanted to take West's joker which she could use to make 3 BAMS for her hand AND then wanted to also pick up the 3 BAM that was discarded by South player.
    >So in other words she wanted to exchange and then also pick up the discard since she now had a joker to complete her exposure.
    >I don't think that would work (and she did not do it) but we agreed to ask the experts.
    >Thank you!

    Hi, Jeanne!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-M2 (in the Jokers section: "Can I redeem a joker before I take a discard?"). You can link to the FAQs above left. For your future reference: on the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    March 24, 2018


    The "change of heart" rules, part 6

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Friday, March 23, 2018 4:25 PM
    >Subject: Barney's Typos
    >I think my word “typos” may have confused you. I was referring to my two typos in my original email to you this morning. That’s why I sent you back a clean copy of my original email without the two typos. But I think you worked so fast today - that my original email went up on your site and then the typo free version went up shortly thereafter. No big deal.
    >In your response to my original email you asked if removing the paragraph all together would help. I would have said Yes. I see you reworded the confusing paragraph. Personally I think it’s still unnecessary. Since you agree the “green” rule is accurate, people playing in a home game using NMJL rules should just follow that rule and forget all together the comment made about tournament play. I would not want people in their home game to think it’s appropriate (and in line with NMJL rules) to allow someone to place their discard on top of their rack and then be able to change their mind. If it were up to me I would just move that paragraph all together in Errata.
    >The great news here is what we are all in violent agreement. If you place that discarded tile on top of your rack, it’s too late to change your mind and put it back.
    >Have a great weekend Tom!
    >Barney

    Hi, Barney!
    I knew you were talking about your own typos. But you didn't tell me exactly what fixes to make - when you resent me your whole email after I'd spent 20 minutes working with your first email, I didn't want to go rooting out the differences between your two emails. But let's stop talking about typos.

    I see you reworded the confusing paragraph.
    No. I deleted it. It's not in the current errata file. But I did notice that I neglected to change the date at the top of the errata file, so I'll need to fix and upload a new errata file when I get home tonight.

    The great news here is what we are all in violent agreement.
    YES, WE ARE, GOLDURN IT!!! SO THERE! (See, I was being violent in agreeing that we're in agreement. Pretty good, huh? Since I'm allowed to shout here, I shouted. Heh.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 23, 2018


    The "change of heart" rules, part 5

    >From: Barney G
    >Cc: Barney G
    >Sent: Friday, March 23, 2018 9:10 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Committed to taking a discarded tile.
    >I hate typos. I just fixed some. New text appears below.
    >Begin forwarded message:
    >From: Barney G
    >Subject: Committed to taking a discarded tile.
    >Date: March 23, 2018 at 11:49:40 AM EDT
    >Cc: Barney G
    >I am very curious about this paragraph appearing on page 4 of Errata.
    >But that's just the "tournament" rule, the NMJL says. In home games, the player might be permitted to change her mind and put the discard back, even if she's put it atop her rack, as long as she has not exposed tiles from her hand. In a later bulletin, the League stated that they do not have separate home rules and tournament rules (saying they do not have tournament rules). Question: what is the correct rule?
    >The League seems clear about the rule on this and even comments in the January 2017 Bulletin Q/A section:
    >Q — When is a player committed to take a discarded tile from the table?
    >A — You are committed to a call when you have either exposed tiles from your hand, or placed the called tile on top of your rack.
    >So in a home game, using NMJL rules, we should be enforcing what appears in GREEN. No? If someone asked me what the rule is, I would state what is in GREEN without hesitation or caveat. Only reason I am asking you this is because the last part of the piece in RED says, “what is the correct rule?” I was confused by that and just wanted to make sure I was on the right page.
    >THX Tom!
    >Have a great weekend
    >Barney

    Hi, Barney.
    I just finished laboriously finding a way to use the colored text you used in your email while preserving this board's color-coding, then revising the errata, and posting the revised errata. I don't have energy to search, find, and root out the typos.
    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 23, 2018


    The "change of heart" rules, part 4

    >From: Barney G
    >Cc: Barney G
    >Sent: Friday, March 23, 2018 8:49 AM
    >Subject: Committed to taking a discarded tile.
    >I am very curious about this paragraph appearing on page 4 of Errata.
    [red]
    >But that's just the "tournament" rule, the NMJL says. In home games, the player might be permitted to change her mind and put the discard back, even if she's put it atop her rack, as long as she has not exposed tiles from her hand. In a later bulletin, the League stated that they do not have separate home rules and tournament rules (saying they do not have tournament rules). Question: what is the correct rule?
    [/red]
    >The League seems clear about the rule on this, and even comments in the January 2017 Bulletin Q/A section.
    [green]
    >Q — When is a player committed to take a discarded tile from the table?
    >A — You are committed to a call when you have either exposed tiles from your hand, or placed the called tile on top of your rack.
    [/green]
    >So in a home game, using NMJL rules, we should be enforcing what appears in GREEN. No? If someone asked me what the rule is, I would state what is in GREEN without hesitation and caveat. Only reason I am asking you this is because the last part of the piece in RED says, “what is the correct rule?” I was confused by that and just wanted to make sure I was own the right page.
    >THX Tom!
    >Have a great weekend
    >Barney

    Hi, Barney.
    Would it help if I delete that paragraph? I don't recall exactly when or where the League said something like "that's just the tournament rule" - it might have been in a letter one of my readers scanned. If so, you'll find it if you scroll back through the last couple years' worth of Q&As (at the bottom of every page, you can click the left-pointing hand to go back farther in time). Or it might have been in a bulletin. The "[green]" rule is the correct rule, in all circumstances.
    I'm deleting the paragraph that confused 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
    March 23, 2018


    Chinese maj, part 3

    >From: Zoe G
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 5:29 PM
    >Subject: Re: question #1
    >thanks Tom! I guess we were really just wondering what to do since the rule book doesn’t really say*. I now teach beginning and novice Maj Jongg (American) at my house. (Just to ladies in my neighborhood). At home with a friend we’ve been been studying and playing Chinese Maj Jongg like crazy! As best as we can without a real teacher and only 3 of us every Friday night, but we are having fun!
    >May the tiles be with you too!
    >Zoe G

    You go, Zoe!
    *(But the rule book does say what to do - prohibit the erring player from winning the present hand. The fact that it doesn't say anything else means there's nothing else to do.)
    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 22, 2018


    Seat rotation

    >From: Linda A
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 3:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Is it common to rotate seats after each game? I kept telling my playing mates that we should move seats when they complain if they don’t get any jokers and don’t make a single mahjong. They go home upset. This last time we played we rotated seats clockwise and everyone made one or two mahjong in the course of the afternoon and went home happy. The jokers seemed to be distributed more evenly, or it seemed so. Can you tell me if this is a common practice? Thanks for your time.
    >Linda

    Hi, Linda! You wrote:

    Is it common to rotate seats after each game?
    No. Certainly not after each hand (or "game" as players of American mah-jongg say). The rules describe rotation after each round (a round is when the deal has moved all the way around the table). A round typically takes experienced players an hour, give or take 10 minutes. A hand takes, on average, 15 minutes. If the dealer swaps seats with the player to her right once an hour, that's not too many times. It might mean there'll be only one seat swap, if the play session usually goes two hours. See FAQ 19-BB.

    I kept telling my playing mates that we should move seats
    Well, I wouldn't say "should." I would say "here's an idea."

    when they complain if they don’t get any jokers and don’t make a single mahjong. ... This last time we played we rotated seats clockwise and everyone made one or two mahjong in the course of the afternoon and went home happy. The jokers seemed to be distributed more evenly, or it seemed so.
    It's mildly coincidental that changing seats and nice joker distribution occurred at the same time, but really, seat rotation has no effect on randomness - it only effects the play order, so that a player isn't getting first-right Charleston passes (for instance) from the same person the whole evening. Seat rotation is more about enhancing strategy than about enhancing randomness.

    Can you tell me if this is a common practice?
    Rotating seats is more common among experienced players, and competitive players. Players who understand the reason for, and value of, the practice.
    I recommend it when players are playing for 2 hours or longer. A lot of players object to the minor upheaval, not understanding the reason behind it (or not caring about the advanced strategic aspect).

    They go home upset.
    I didn't follow, either they were upset about not getting jokers often enough, or they were upset at being asked to rotate seats after every hand. As hostess, you can influence some aspects of the game, but you cannot influence random chance. There's no way to improve the number of wins your guests will have or how many jokers they'll see in the course of an evening. Certainly not with seat rotation.

    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, 2018


    Chinese maj questions, part 2

    >From: Zoe G
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 9:10 PM
    >Subject: Re: question #1
    >In an email last night I posed the Question “When a player has the wrong number of tiles...say 12,14 or 15, I understand that player keeps playing. Do they somehow correct the number of tiles in their hand or do they keep playing with the incorrect number of tiles in their hand?”
    >Yes I was referring to MCR or the version you use in your book, Chinese Official Mah-Jongg.
    >I understand that the player is dead when he/she has the wrong number of tiles. However, if they have 14 or 15 tiles when they go dead, they are holding extra tiles that other players may need. In theory someone could go dead on purpose and cheat.
    >It doesn’t seem fair that they should get to hold those extra tiles. So when they continue on playing even though they may not claim a tile or win, shouldn’t they also get their hand down to the fair and correct number of tiles(13)? I don’t see anything in any rule book on how to do this. Or do they just go on with whatever number they had when they went dead.
    >Thanks again,
    >Zoe G
    >I am so happy a was able to take the American Maj Jongg classes with you at a AJU.

    Hi, Zoe! I'm so sorry for not recognizing you! You've asked...

    However, if they have 14 or 15 tiles when they go dead, they are holding extra tiles that other players may need.
    Yes.

    In theory someone could go dead on purpose and cheat.
    Took me a while to figure out what you were getting at. You're saying a player could somehow contrive to have too many or too few tiles on purpose. I don't know why anyone would do that intentionally. "I can't win, so nobody will win"? Is that the idea? There are surely many ways that kind of vindictive strategy could play out more effectively.

    It doesn’t seem fair that they should get to hold those extra tiles
    Well, not everything in mah-jongg seems fair to everyone. The player is penalized pretty harshly, after all - whether that makes up for the unfairness the player caused the other players is a separate matter. The classic real-life "eye for an eye" penalty isn't fair, either (the victim who lost an eye doesn't get the eye back when the miscreant's eye is also taken in punishment). The real-life death penalty isn't fair either - the murdered victim's life isn't restored when the murderer is executed. "Fairness" isn't always possible once an error has occurred.

    Or do they just go on with whatever number they had when they went dead.
    The rule is simply that the hand is dead. The only mechanism I can think of to remedy it is that the player doesn't pick but just discards until the player has 13 in hand. Some players (outside of a tournament) might ask the player to do that. It's possible a judge might ask the player to do that, but there's nothing in the written rules about it. The rule (rule 86 in my book) simply says the player may pick and discard but not make exposures or win. Yes, the game is "spoiled" for others - that's why the player is hit with the harsh death penalty.

    BTW, I think it's cool that you're interested in Chinese mah-jongg after taking my class in American mah-jongg. And this also explains why you referred to it as "Chinese maj" in your email. Nobody shortens "mah-jongg" to "maj" ("mahj") except players of American mah-jongg.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 21, 2018


    Chinese Maj questions

    >From: Zoe G
    >Sent: Monday, March 19, 2018 11:43 PM
    >Subject: Chinese Maj question
    >When a player has the wrong number of tiles...say 12,14 or 15, I understand that player keeps playing. Do they somehow correct the number of tiles in their hand or do they keep playing with the incorrect number of tiles in their hand?
    >Thanks Tom,
    >Zoe G

    >From: Zoe G
    >Sent: Monday, March 19, 2018 11:47 PM
    >Subject: Chinese Maj question #2
    >When a player has a false “hu” does the player keep the 14th, say that person doesn’t have 8 points, or just doesn’t have Maj Jong. Do they need to discard that that 14th tile? And after that what happens?
    >Thanks Tom,
    >Zoe G

    Niihau, Zoe! I was wondering which Chinese variant you were asking about, but then you mentioned an 8-point minimum, so I surmise you are talking about MCR. You asked:

    When a player has the wrong number of tiles... Do they somehow correct the number of tiles in their hand or do they keep playing with the incorrect number of tiles in their hand?
    The player's hand is "dead." He or she picks and discards in turn, but is not allowed to claim any discard for any reason, and will not be permitted to win.

    When a player has a false “hu” does the player keep the 14th
    The player is required to discard a tile.

    Do they need to discard that that 14th tile?
    The player is free to discard any tile he or she sees fit.

    And after that what happens?
    I don't know. Either one of the other 3 players wins, or nobody wins.

    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
    Vernal Equinox, 2018


    A phrase you used, part 2

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Sunday, March 18, 2018 6:11 AM
    >Subject: column 698
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for explaining about the pairs. I never really took notice of where pairs were located from year to year. I can't wait to share all this info with my MJ group. You're teaching me to be more observant!
    >Thanks, Linda

    Cool. May the tiles be with you, Linda.
    Tom


    The "change of heart" rules, part 3

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Saturday, March 17, 2018 7:39 PM
    >Subject: Hi Tom.....
    >Sue Davidson sent you a question tonight. Here is my post on MJTI that she commented on. I think this might be helpful in terms of understanding her question. THX
    >IMG_7964.jpg

    Doesn't change my answer, Barney. It's B, per the League's rulings in 2007 and 2013, and as I show in FAQ 19-H2. That doesn't mean there still won't be disagreements when it happens to someone.
    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, 2018


    The "change of heart" rules, part 2 (see March 1)

    >From: Susan D
    >Sent: Saturday, March 17, 2018 5:26 PM
    >Subject: Another Question about the Window of Opportunity
    >Tom, After much discussion, hopefully most other players now understand that even if the person who is next in line to the discarder wants the same tile as another player(for an exposure) that if a player who is not next in line has claimed a discard and made an exposure, then next in line is too late. Today, there has been a discussion on Mah Jongg That's It! about if next in line wants the tile for Mah Jongg. If a player who is not next in line claims a tile and exposes, is it too late for next in line to claim it even if it is for Mah Jongg?
    >Thank you,
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan! Your question has been answered by the League, in the 2007 and 2013 newsletters. I cited those answers in FAQ 19-H2.

    if next in line wants the tile for Mah Jongg. If a player who is not next in line claims a tile and exposes, is it too late for next in line to claim it even if it is for Mah Jongg?
    Probably yes (see FAQ 19-H2). But the players might perceive a highly aggressive player "slam-exposing" to shut out the other player.
    How aggressive was the punger/konger? How slow was the erstwhile winner? The players at the table can reasonably judge whether the claim for mah-jongg should trump the exposure, based on whether the mah-jongg claimant was reasonably quick to call for the win, and whether the other player was aggressively pushing out her tiles in such a way that the clear intent is to prevent anyone else from playing.
    Did the punger/konger speak the claim, then take the discard as is preferred by the new rulebook, before exposing tiles from the hand? All before the other player said "mahj?" If so, sounds to me like the erstwhile winner was indeed too slow. It's too late to speak the claim now, and in fact speaking it now (or suddenly gasping or looking upset) tells the rest of the table what she needs.
    Myself, I like the Chinese 3-second window of opportunity. But that's too simple (and un-American, to boot).

    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, 2018


    Errors in the MCR, part 2

    >From: Jeff C
    >Sent: Saturday, March 17, 2018 6:19 PM
    >Subject: Re: MCR errata
    >Thanks. I did download the 2014 version and have looked at the CEJ version (latest update). The mindMahjong.com website is regularly updated and there are recent competitions so I was hopeful I just missed a link. I suspect updating the MCR is a volunteer effort so it only happens when those in charge feel up to the task. If/when I send in my suggestions I can cc or bcc you if you like.

    Sure.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom
    St. Patrick's Day, 2018


    A phrase you used in regards to Consec #1 and Odds #1 in column 698

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Saturday, March 17, 2018 3:44 PM
    >Subject: learning a new card
    >Hi Tom,
    > Thanks for your column on "Learning a New Card". You brought up a lot of things that I never noticed before. Regarding alternating hand structures, what do you mean by "low pairs" (in even years) and "end pairs" (in odd years)? I don't understand what that means.
    >Thanks so much, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    You've been playing long enough to have seen red cards and blue cards, right? So you've seen Consec #1 and Odds #1 on at least 2 different cards. The structure of these hands is always "2 pairs, 2 pungs, and 1 kong." But it's specifically the placement of the pairs that I was talking about in column 698.

        
    From the 2017 card (a blue card)

    Where are the 2 pairs in the hands above, versus the hands below? Are the pairs at the low end of the hand, or at opposite ends?

        
    From the 2016 card (a red card)

    The pairs are always the hardest part of these hands; it's vital to strategy to be mindful of the pairs when trying to make these hands. That's why I talk about the pairs in these hands, not the kongs. 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, 2018


    Need tips, part 3

    >From: Theresa B
    >Sent: Friday, March 16, 2018 2:47 PM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from theresa b
    >You are most welcome. I don’t stress about such things. And I took to heart your comment about not changing the tiles. Hopefully someone knows why some of the tiles turned. I’d love to just know why.
    >By the way I noticed you teach at USC. We used to have a home in CA and visited Exposition Park. My son still talks about Figueroa Philly Cheese Steak. They had the best cheese steaks!
    >Have a great weekend!
    >Theresa

    Heh. I don't know where Figueroa Philly Cheese Steak is, and it does sound yummy. But I have minimized my consumption of meaty-cheesy foodstuffs (and not only that, but Spring Break and Girl Scout cookies already make a fattening combination).
    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 16, 2018


    Need tips, part 2

    >From: "service@paypal.
    >Sent: Friday, March 16, 2018 1:54 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from theresa b
    > paypal
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from theresa b (tb@yahoo.com ). You can view the transaction details online .
    >Donation Details
    >/Note
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: theresa b
    >/Note/Note/Note
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Theresa! I'm happy to see, by the way, that you continue to inhale and exhale. (^_^)
    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 16, 2018


    Need tips on how to clean discolored celluloid tiles

    >From: Theresa B
    >Sent: Friday, March 16, 2018 8:50 AM
    >Subject: Cleaning/restoring
    >Good morning,
    >First, thank you for your continued efforts in educating and sharing knowledge about Mah Jongg. Your site is invaluable and appreciated.
    >After reading the cleaning/restoring page there weren’t any tips on how to clean celluloid when the tiles are discolored.
    >Is the below just a product of age or storage conditions? The tiles have a neon orange hue to them that the picture isn’t capturing completely.
    >Any guidance is very much appreciated.
    >Thank you,
    >Theresa B

    Hi, Theresa! I'm sorry that I myself do not possess the knowledge you seek. FAQ 7-o is a "wisdom of the crowd" kind of thing, where I've collected tips from readers and shared them for future readers. And as a matter of fact, I personally would not be trying to change the color of my old tiles (those celluloid tiles will be 100 years old in just 6 or 7 years from now!). I did a lot of damage to old coins in my collection, trying to make my coin collection shine - and that experience has made me very leery of heroic restoration of old objects. Maybe a reader who has tried doing what you want to do will share her or his experiences. Stay tuned, but do keep inhaling and exhaling in the meantime.
    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 16, 2018


    In case you weren't aware

    >From: Brandon H
    >Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2018 7:04 PM
    >Subject: Changes to Mahjongg Made Easy
    >Hi Tom!
    >I was perusing your NMJL history pages to help prep my group for some "vintage" games where we play old cards, including using the older rules. Out of curiosity I clicked on your page comparing the old version of Mahjongg Made Easy to the 2013 revisions, and I wanted to let you know (in case you weren't aware) that 2018 looks like yet another updated version. I have not had the time to compare yet, but I make mention of it because a rule update regarding when a tile is considered racked appears to have been lifted word for word verbatim from an answer to a question that was put out with the 2018 bulletin.
    >I'm not sure if there are other changes, but it does appear that they've updated the book again.
    >Thanks for your awesome resource and your informative answers to every Mahj question imaginable!
    >Brandon H

    Hi, Brandon!
    Sounds like you found column 667 but not column 696! I realize now that I need to make them both easier to find.
    Also, something you said:

    I make mention of it because a rule update regarding when a tile is considered racked appears to have been lifted word for word verbatim from an answer to a question that was put out with the 2018 bulletin.
    I apologize, but I'm not following you. Yes, the wording in the newsletter and in the revised rulebook are the same in a couple of locations, and I saw similar wording to mine as well.
    I noted the definition of "racked tile" in column 694, when commenting on the 2018 newsletter/bulletin. I found it interesting that it had finally been officially deemed necessary to define what a "racked tile" is. Were you just commenting on this new definition... or did you have a question I can help with?

    Thanks for writing. 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, 2018


    RDWWQ5

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2018 7:04 PM
    >Subject: RDWW Book Question
    >Hi Tom, I know your book hasn’t been updated for a bit and per a recent comment you don’t know how receptive the publisher would be to doing one.
    >Does this apply to the ebook copies as well? I see both the Kindle edition and an iBook edition are available and would think that these would be easy to update each year at little cost to them.
    >Tim

    Thanks for the thought, Tim. I appreciate your desire for an updated version of my book. I assume that the effort and cost for the publisher would be non-insignificant, whether print or digital. For the time being, I still recommend keeping a copy of the RDWW errata with the book (or with your e-reader) (or with your mah-jongg stuff).
    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, 2018


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now?

    >From: "bevp1230
    >Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2018 10:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player discards a tile and names it incorrectly. After 1 or 2 rounds of play, the error is discovered. If that discarded tile had been named correctly, another player would have called it for MahJongg. What is the ruling in this situation?
    >Thank you.
    >Sent from my iPhone
    >Beverly P
    >Fort Mill SC

    Hi, Beverly!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AY. You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    The Ides of March, 2018


    I need jokers!

    >From: Linda F
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 12:42 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I just purchased a mahjong set from someone that was selling his mother's set. It doesn't have any jokers. Is there any way I can buy the jokers separately?
    >I can send a picture of my tiles, they are much larger in thickness than the regular tiles that are two colors.
    >Hope you can help. Have a good day.
    >Linda F

    Hi, Linda!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 7R,. You can link to the FAQs above left. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are found in the FAQs. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    Pi Day, 3.14.2018


    Such a tiny goof. Am I dead?

    >From: Sara J. O
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 3:23 PM
    >Subject: Is this Man Jongg in error
    >Tom- I have been playing for about 5 years with the same group of gals and we never have run across this issue. I placed my tiles on the rack and declared Mah Jongg. But another person said “hey you have the tiles in the wrong order”. I had all the correct tiles for the Maj, but somehow placed them incorrectly together ( I had 2 Flowers and 4 dragons, but should have been 4 flowers and 2 dragons.. What would be the ruling on this?
    >Thanks Tom
    >Sara O

    It depends, Sara. Were you playing in a tournament, for prizes or glory? Or were you playing in a home game? Were you playing with an established group for the first time, and they didn't tell you about their strict table rules?
    In my opinion, nice folks would say "just reorganize them and tell me how much I owe you." There's nothing in the rulebook that says you can't reorganize your tiles and collect.
    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 13, 2018


    What the heck, part 2

    >From: Debbie P
    >Sent: Monday, March 12, 2018 7:46 AM
    >Subject: Re: American Joker Symbol
    >Thank you so much !
    >Debbie

    You're welcome, Debbie. May the tiles be with you. - Tom


    Errors in the MCR

    >From: Jeff C
    >Sent: Monday, March 12, 2018 4:54 AM
    >Subject: MCR errata
    >Hi Tom,
    >I love your website, thank you for doing all that work. I have started playing Mahjong with colleagues at work after learning while in China for a work trip. I used your link to download MCR from the official website.
    >I have noticed typos, errors and omissions in the MCR. I have looked for a way to send my findings to the World Mahjong Organization but have found none. The Postscript specifically states the MCR should improve itself constantly so presumably the WMO wants this feedback. Do you know how feedback is to be provided?
    >I did find a letter you composed May 13, 2008 regarding MCR errata but there is no To: information. I also looked through all the FAQ and didn’t find a solution.
    >Thanks again,
    >Jeff C

    Hi, Jeff.
    I understand your desire to fix typos and errors, and especially omissions, in the Majiang Competition Rules. I myself spent quite a bit of time trying to help improve the printed translation of the rules, and I have an email address I used for that purpose over a decade ago. I presume someone is still checking that address but I don't imagine there is an office with paid staff handling incoming questions and suggestions. I don't know if anyone is keeping track of desired rule improvements. I assume you downloaded the NEW IN 2014 PDF from FAQ 22, not the old 2006 "green book."
    And I should help dispel any other crossed expectations you might be harboring. When I sent over my edit to the MCR, it contained a number of questions and requests for clarifications, and I was expecting some back-and-forth so a very clear rulebook would be the result. That's not what happened. Many of my edits did make their way into the green book, but some of my questions were not answered, so there were some residual ambiguities in the 2006 green book. And there were still many typos as well. I was not involved in the 2014 revision effort. Mr. Wang Yingfu of the World Mah-Jong Championship technical committee was involved with the rule communications in the mid-2000s. I don't know if he is still active in the organization.
    So as to protect the World Mahjong Organization (or whatever organization is currently responsible for maintaining the rulebook) from having its email inbox suddenly get a flood of spam because I published the address, I'll send you the address privately. After you email your notes, I don't know what will happen.
    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 12, 2018


    What the heck am I looking at???

    >From: Linda S
    >Sent: Friday, March 9, 2018 4:20 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is the picture on a joker tile
    >Minutes invested in prayer will give you greater return than hours spent in ceaseless activity ??

    >From: Debbie P
    >Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2018 5:49 PM
    >Subject: American Joker Symbol
    >Your site has been very helpful to me and I appreciate your dedication. I have tried to research on my own and have checked your FAQs, but I cannot find the meaning of the symbol on my joker tiles. Can you help ? I apologize if I missed seeing this on your site. Thank you very much.
    >Sincerely,
    >Debbie P

    Hi, ladies!
    I wrote a reply to Linda on Friday, but it was on another computer and I didn't post it! I'll do my best to recreate it from memory.
    Linda asked:

    What is the picture on a joker tile
    It depends on which joker tile you're looking at. Here's a selection of joker tiles from my FAQ 7E ("Frequently Asked Question: Mystery Tiles"), and what they depict:


    Top: clowns/jesters, a mandarin or Buddha, Buddha
    Bottom: a mandarin, "thousand uses," a mandarin or Buddha, a dragon

    A lot of players of American mah-jongg ask about the one on the bottom right (in fact, Linda just sent a picture of that today):

    So as I tell them in FAQ 7E (the "Mystery Tiles" FAQ), that's probably a poorly stylized rendition of this:


    You can link to the FAQs above left

    Today, Debbie wrote:

    Subject: American Joker Symbol
    Which narrows it down (especially given the image attachment).

    I cannot find the meaning of the symbol on my joker tiles. Can you help ? I apologize if I missed seeing this on your site.
    I'm sorry the Mystery Tiles FAQ is (1) hard to find and (2) very full of a mishmash of information. I don't know how to make it easier to find, but I'm going to think about how to organize the info better.
    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 11, 2018


    Can I reverse-redeem my joker? Pleeeezze?

    >From: Bette W
    >Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2018 8:20 PM
    >Subject: My MahJongg question
    >I will need an 8 crack to make my doubleton for a Mahjongg. Another player has put out three 8 cracs with a joker. Can I use a joker and request one of those 8s for my mahjongg??

    Hi, Bette!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AL.
    You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    March 11, 2018


    Column 669

    >From: Mary S
    >Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2018 6:22 AM
    >Subject: Apr 9, 2017. #669 column
    > Column #669, hand #7 It helped me to set my tiles in a rack and I decided that I would try FF 3 6 9 dots + joker, trying for a 369 hand and keep the 3 crack in case it became 3 suits. Thanks, I enjoyed playing your random deals!
    >Mary

    Hi, Mary! I'm glad you enjoy that type of column. Identifying a hand to target is just the prelude to the actual problem: what 3 tiles to pass. You wouldn't pass the same 3 tiles I said I would, so what 3 tiles would you pass?
    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 11, 2018


    My brows are knitted, part 3

    A followup to Howard's question earlier today.
    Curiosity got the better of me. I Googled and found that you wrote me in 2012 (http://sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive21.htm). At that time you said you were using the book "Rules & Guide to the Game of Mah-Jongg" by 'Jackpot' copyright by H.P.G. & S. Ltd. Googling that title and author turns up a book from 1950. Not the 20s as I surmised when you wrote me in 2012.
    Then the question remains, does "Jackpot" describe Chinese rules, or does he/she describe British rules? I can't be certain, but if this booklet describes British rules, then it must be among the very earliest such works (I had previously never heard of any book describing this variant before the sixties). This "knitted pairs" hand is the sort of hand one sees in British rules, so I stay with my more recent guess that Jackpot is describing British rules.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 7, 2018


    My brows are knitted, part 2

    >From: "robinson_h
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 1:25 AM
    >Subject: Re: Two Mah-Jongg questions
    >Thanks, Tom
    >Very helpful
    >Cheers
    >Howard

    >From: "robinson_h
    >Sent: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 3:16 AM
    >Subject: Re: Two Mah-Jongg questions
    >As I've said in another email, many thanks for your help, Tom.

    >I have one other question which two sets of our Mah-Jongging friends have raised independently and which I cannot find an answer to on your a-ma-zing website's FAQs:
    >There's a 2-point addition when 'winning with only possible tile to Mah-Jongg' as stated in our Chinese rules. Does this 'only tile possible' refer solely to the person's hand who wants to go Mah-Jongg; I.e. this person has, say: 4 x 3s and just one tile, thus all they want is just one more to make their final pair -or- that it's the last tile available of its kind from either the discard or a tile from the wall and not in any other players' hands; i.e. there are no other tiles left of the desired sort because they've all been played/declared previously (apart from just the one) ... before this player wants to go Mah-Jongg ... if you see what I mean?
    >Howard

    Hi, Howard.
    If only I knew what book you use as your rulebook, but oh well. It's tricky for rulebook writers to choose words that can't be misinterpreted.

    Does this 'only tile possible' refer solely to the person's hand who wants to go Mah-Jongg; I.e. this person has, say: 4 x 3s and just one tile, thus all they want is just one more to make their final pair
    The MCR community uses the term "single wait" for that. This is not what's meant.

    or- that it's the last tile available of its kind from either the discard or a tile from the wall and not in any other players' hands; i.e. there are no other tiles left of the desired sort because they've all been played/declared previously (apart from just the one)
    The MCR community uses the term "last tile" for that. And there's a term from card games that applies: the "case tile" is the last tile of its kind, because (as you say) the other 3 are visibly already unavailable. So in my book I called this one "Last Tile (Case Tile)." This is the thing that's meant.

    as stated in our Chinese rules.
    That "knitted pairs" hand you described to me is not a Chinese hand. (If I'm wrong, and your variant is one of the many Chinese variants, then this hand was borrowed from British/Australian/Western rules.) Sure would have been good, throughout this conversation, if I knew what author wrote your rulebook.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 7, 2018


    Column 698

    >From: Libby S
    >Sent: Tuesday, March 6, 2018 5:28 PM
    >Subject: Question about Column #698
    >Mr. Sloper, In reading your column about how to prepare for a new card, I was puzzled about one comment: "Most importantly, see how many hands in Consec and Odds use flowers."
    >Would you please explain why it’s important to look at the Odds section for this? Does it reveal a pattern or something that another section (e.g., Evens) does not? I wonder if I’ve been missing something over the years.
    >Thanks for your help,
    >Libby S

    Good question, Libby!
    The answer is: "gauge the odds" (by which I mean the probability, the chances). Flowers are more abundant than most tiles. The Consec and 13579 sections afford the most possibilities, given the preponderance of numbers and odd numbers. That's why they're in the center of the card. Of the 108 suit tiles (all of them fodder for Consec hands) in the 152-tile deck, there are 60 odd tiles and just 48 even tiles. Consec hands with flowers could, therefore, be among the easiest hands on the entire card. Odds hands with flowers could take second place. On the 2017 card, there are precious few flower hands in the meaty heart of the card. Who knows what we'll see in the 2018 card?
    May the odds 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 6, 2018


    My brows are knitted

    >From: "robinson_h
    >Sent: Monday, March 5, 2018 11:55 PM
    >Subject: Two Mah-Jongg questions
    >Dear Tom
    >You very kindly answered a question of mine a couple of years back re Mah-Jongg for which "Many thanks".
    >I have been playing since with several other couples and have become a little more proficient at this amazing game, so much so that if we're lucky, we now use some of the many special limit hands.
    >Two questions:
    >1. If two people are striving for special limit hands ... amazingly enough this was about to happen when we were in actual fact both out-called by someone else with a more usual hand ... and we had both called Mah-Jongg at the same time --- we both needed the same tile to go Mah-Jongg --- who would have been the winner if the required tile had been discarded by another player? Would it have been the first person to call out "Mah-Jongg!"
    >PS. We have an unwritten (?) rule that if two people call Mah Jongg at the same time ... and its happened: one to complete a Chow & the other to complete a Pung, then the one completing the Pung takes precedence. Is this correct?
    >2. One of those special limit hands would have been 'Knitting'; i.e. 7 unmatched pairs with the same numbers.
    >My hand included a pair of different 1s; a pair of different 3s; a pair of different 5s; a pair of different 8s; a pair of different 9s plus 2 x 7s & 2 x 7s but the 7s were:
    >7circles + 7characters & 7bamboo+7circles; i.e I'd separated the 2 x 7circles to match up with two other 7 tiles to make two unmatched pairs. Is this allowable?
    >Best wishes
    >Howard
    >P.S. Thought you might like to see the attached amusing article which was written by a former British celebrity for one of our leading newspapers re playing Mah-Jongg with his father before WWII

    Hi, Howard.
    I don't recall your previous visit offhand. Glad to be of help again. Since you mention special limit hands, I presume you play Western/British/Australian rules.

    we both needed the same tile to go Mah-Jongg --- who would have been the winner if the required tile had been discarded by another player? Would it have been the first person to call out "Mah-Jongg!"
    This is Frequently Asked Question 20-J. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    if two people call Mah Jongg at the same time ... and its happened: one to complete a Chow & the other to complete a Pung, then the one completing the Pung takes precedence. Is this correct?
    Yes. Pung trumps chow. Mah-jongg trumps pung. Order of play takes precedence.

    One of those special limit hands would have been 'Knitting'; i.e. 7 unmatched pairs with the same numbers.
    >My hand included a pair of different 1s; a pair of different 3s; a pair of different 5s; a pair of different 8s; a pair of different 9s plus 2 x 7s & 2 x 7s but the 7s were:
    >7circles + 7characters & 7bamboo+7circles; i.e I'd separated the 2 x 7circles to match up with two other 7 tiles to make two unmatched pairs.

    Is this allowable?
    I'm sure some authors specifically word this in a way that would make it clear that you cannot (either 7D can be present only if not matched by any other tile in the hand). Even if there is no specific wording on this in the various books, the intent of the hand is clear: Each tile may be matched in number but not in number+suit (the hand calls for siblings and not twins).

    Thanks for the article. 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 6, 2018


    Can she claim a discarded joker redeemable tile?

    >From: "tinkerbell9427
    >Sent: Monday, March 5, 2018 7:02 PM
    >Subject: stealing a joker
    >Jane doesn’t notice that she has a tile that would allow her to steal Amy’s joker so she discards the tile.
    >Mary (the player whose turns it now is) notices. Is she able to pick up the discarded tile and substitute it for the joker?

    Welcome to my website, Tinkerbell! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-G. You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    March 5, 2018


    RDWWQ4

    >From: stel
    >Sent: Monday, March 5, 2018 1:38 PM
    >Subject: Re: THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND
    >Thank you so much. I’ll do as you say. Have a great week!
    >Stella

    You're welcome, Stella!
    Tom


    RDWWQ3

    >From: stel
    >Sent: Monday, March 5, 2018 12:11 PM
    >Subject: Re: THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND
    >Thank you for taking the time to explain all that.
    >How do I compile all the rule refinements to add to your book; so my group of senior ladies can learn the same rules, since there are so many questions that arise during our playing? We are all beginners and would be happiest with one reference source.
    >Thank you for your patience with my questions.
    >Stella

    How to compile all the rule refinements? Print out the errata file from the "The Red Dragon & The West Wind." Then keep that printout with the book. If this doesn't answer your question, I'll need the question rephrased.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 5, 2018


    RDWWQ2

    >From: Stella W
    >Sent: Monday, March 5, 2018 7:14 AM
    >Subject: Re: THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND
    >Hello. I get that your book has been PRINTED a few times, but I'm confused why it wouldn't be updated with changes every now and then since changes occur every year, and you do note those changes. So do people buy the book and search through your site for each year's update and write them in? Thank you
    >Stella

    Hi, Stella!
    The rules of American and Chinese mah-jongg stay pretty much the same year-to-year. While there have been rule refinements, those have not occurred "every year" as you say, and they don't amount to a wholesale massive do-over of the rules. If you're thinking that the American half of my book was written about one specific card, it was not. It's not a book that has to be revised every year because the NMJL issues a new card every year. If that's what you're thinking. I have been thinking to approach the publisher and ask to revise the book based on collected changes, but I don't know how receptive the publisher will be to the request.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 5, 2018


    Column 698

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2018 9:35 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >HI Tom,
    >You asked if I read your new card advice column. Yes, just now. The ladies in my group think I research things too much, but your advice is exactly what I do! Everything except making the hands with the tiles. I have always compared the new card to the old and read the back of the card. It helps to do this so that when you start playing you do not make an old card hand while playing the new card. That happened to a player just this week. She had a beautiful quint hand with six jokers - but I had to point out that it was on the 2016 card not the 2017 card! She actually discarded the two Flowers she needed to make the correct hand! Ended in a wall but had she had the correct tiles she would have had a self picked quint!
    >As always, I love your site, wonderful for all players from beginners to experienced players.
    >Bee

    Cool!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom
    March Forth, 2018


    Column 696

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2018 9:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi again,
    >Just read your new rule book differences column. Very good reference! Unless this one was in the 2013 version, which I do not have, it was missing from your list. It is on pg 19, #18: "You are committed to discarding a tile once it is FULLY named or the tile has been placed on the table." They had previously ruled that even saying part of the name meant the tile was discarded, which I thought was ridiculous! Fully named makes more sense.
    >However, I wrote to Gladys Grad to see if her rule for her tournaments would change too and she answered no it stays the same. Example: if you have a 7 Bam and you say Seven, Sev, or even Se it is considered down in her tournaments.
    >Thought you might be interested in these two things.
    >Got another question: the rules say that you must have 13 tiles on your rack at all times eliminating people from having them resting on their card or in their hands. Someone asked "then how do you move the position of the tiles on your rack?" I assume this is still allowed as common sense should prevail that to rearrange them you must take them off your rack.
    >Take care,
    >Bee

    Hi, Bee.

    pg 19, #18: "You are committed to discarding a tile once it is FULLY named or the tile has been placed on the table." They had previously ruled that even saying part of the name meant the tile was discarded, which I thought was ridiculous! Fully named makes more sense.
    You're right. I covered that in column 694 when I reviewed the 2018 newsletter. The newsletter gave me the hallelujah, and I didn't think to mention it again in the rulebook column.

    if you have a 7 Bam and you say Seven, Sev, or even Se it is considered down in [Gladys'] tournaments.
    She can set her rules.

    the rules say that you must have 13 tiles on your rack at all times eliminating people from having them resting on their card or in their hands. Someone asked "then how do you move the position of the tiles on your rack?" I assume this is still allowed as common sense should prevail that to rearrange them you must take them off your rack.
    As I wrote in the column, it just means you can't rest your tiles off the rack. It's also illegal to straddle a lane divider line on the road, but the only way to get from one lane to another is to briefly straddle a line in the course of the transition. As you say: common sense.

    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, 2018


    I need technical support, part 2

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2018 2:42 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I haven't been here in awhile, life gets in the way of my MJ!
    >Just a quick note for Ann B who asked about myjongg.net not working on her iPad. It works fine on my iPad with no issues whatsoever. She should contact Matt, the owner, by clicking on "Send Feedback" which can be found on the page after signing in, top right, next to "Help and Questions".
    >Awaiting the new card!
    >Bee

    Well, I don't suppose it's likely Ann will come back and find that. Good to see you, Bee! Have you seen today's Sloper On Mah-Jongg column? All about how to familiarize with the new card when it comes.
    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, 2018


    RDWWQ

    >From: Stella W
    >Sent: Sunday, March 4, 2018 12:13 PM
    >Subject: THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND
    >THE RED DRAGON & THE WEST WIND
    >What is the date of the most current update to your book please?
    >How do I purchase a copy of the latest one that includes all the updates?
    >Thank you
    >Stella

    Hi, Stella.
    The book has been printed more than once, but without any updates. You can download the errata on the "The Red Dragon & The West Wind" page. I update it whenever I learn of a change from 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
    March Forth, 2018


    Somebody in our group is playing too slowly

    >From: "rfoglio
    >Sent: Friday, March 2, 2018 2:12 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How long does a play get to take her turn?
    >Sent from my Roseann's iPad

    Hi, Roseann!
    You seem to be saying that somebody in your group is playing too slowly. I can't tell from the way you phrased your question if it's another player, or if you are taking a lot of heat from the group yourself.

    How much time is a player allowed in taking her turn?
    It depends on the group. How much time will the group allow her without complaint? A group of all novices will usually allow more time than a group of experienced players. When the group complains about how much time a player takes, she's taking too long.

    Read column 375.

    And please read Frequently Asked Question ("FAQ") 19-BA. You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please bookmark FAQ 19 so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    March 2, 2018


    I need technical support for a computer game you didn't make

    >From: Ann B
    >To: Tom@sloperama
    >Cc: webmaster at myjongg.net
    >Sent: Thursday, March 1, 2018 6:29 PM
    >Subject: Using the I Pad as well as the I Phone
    >Sent from my iPad
    >I play my the game myjongg. Net on both my I Phone & my I Pad. For some reason I can play on the I Phone, but not on the I Pad. Can u possibly tell me why or who to contact for help. (user name Anny)
    > Thanks - Ann B

    Ann, the question you have asked is a type of question that has been asked many times before. It's called a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 24. You can link to the FAQs above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Good luck, Ann.
    Tom Sloper


    The "change of heart" rules in American mah-jongg

    >From: Susan D
    >Sent: Thursday, March 1, 2018 8:51 AM
    >Subject: Some people think this rule has changed
    >Tom, I know this has been asked and answered, but there is a discussion on Mah Jongg That's It!, so I need clarification. When is it too late to change your mind? When picking from the wall, you move it (even slide it), it is yours. Correct? When calling for a tile you can change your mind as long as you have not put the tile on your rack or made an exposure. Correct?
    >Thank you,
    >Susan from Alabama

    Hi, Susan!
    The "change of heart" rules are described fully (and up-to-date) in FAQ 19-AM.
    The rule on changing your mind about taking a wall tile HAS changed. Prior to 2018, the player could not change her mind if she had "lifted" a wall tile. That left a loophole - a bottom tile could be slid without lifting, and put back. The League closed that loophole in the 2018 newsletter (see column 694).
    The "change of heart" rule about calling for a discard has not changed.
    FAQ 19-AM cites the source of those rules. The source for the "change of heart" rule as it applies to taking a wall tile is the 2018 newsletter (which simply clarifies rulings in previous newsletters by closing that loophole I mentioned). The source for the "change of heart" rule as it applies to claiming a discard is Mah Jongg Made Easy - it was not changed in the 2018 revision.
    In case you're interested, in column 696 I wrote about what changed in the 2018 revision of Mah Jongg Made Easy. I went through that thing with a fine-toothed comb!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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, 2018


    Malaysian 3P, p2

    >From: Yong H
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 10:41 PM
    >Subject: Re: Malaysian 3-player mahjongg
    >Hi Tom,
    >Just like in 4-player mahjong, there is a prevailing wind which changes after a round, in 3-player mahjong the prevailing wind is always East.
    >So yes, it's always the East round.
    >If other players do not have fan for East PONG, then it's a bit inconsistent for the East player to get 2 fan for the PONG (like mentioned in the article).

    Great! Thanks again, Yong.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 28, 2018


    Malaysian 3P

    >From: Yong H
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 7:31 PM
    >Subject: Malaysian 3-player mahjongg
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was going through your page at http://www.sloperama.com/mahjongg/malaysian.html.
    >It is a very good description, thanks a lot.
    >I just want to add that to avoid confusion, in the "Counting Fan" section, you should add:
    >* PONG of East Wind for 1 fan.
    >And that is why the Dealer having PONG of East Wind has 2 fan (1 from his own Wind and 1 more because everyone has 1 fan for East Wind).

    Hi Yong, Thanks for that. Vincent Cheah wrote that article, and he did not say everyone gets a fan for having a pung of east wind. He said there are no round winds. Maybe a way of looking at it is to say instead that it's always the east round? I'll add this to that article.
    Thanks again. 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, 2018


    How much is mine worth, part 2

    >From: Gary
    >Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2018 9:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg set value estimate
    >Thanks for info Tom, nice to have some history on the set, and I appreciate your expertise.
    >Gary

    You're welcome!

    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, 2018


    How much is mine worth?

    >From: Gary R U
    >Sent: Sunday, February 25, 2018 11:21 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg set value estimate
    >Tom,
    >Thanks for looking and any determination of value for the set is appreciated.
    >No history, picked it up at a church rummage sale.
    >184 tiles
    >4 racks
    >4 paper rule booklets 1945 & 1947
    >1 Wood box with tile shelf insert, solid but dusty
    >Fair to good condition, some soiling from use or haversian marks but otherwise solid, the occasional hairline crack
    >Bone tiles (176) due to what I think is haversian and some bakelites (8)
    >Tile dimensions ~ 135 mm x 12mm x 22mm
    >Bone thickness ~ 5mm
    >Gary

    Hi, Gary.
    What you have is a time capsule from the forties. The League was less than a decade old at that time, and was playing around with the number of "wildflowers" needed to play the League's game. In that 1947 card in your photo, the game may call for as many as 18 flowers. This is why players back then made Frankenstein sets like yours, collecting mismatched flowers from other sets. So now the question becomes, which value applies - the value of the "time capsule" as is, or the value to someone who would like to use it to play the League's current rules.

    You say the condition is fair to good. Let's go with fair. The value is probably around $50. It could be "rescued" and modernized by the addition of a new carrying case. Then the mismatching flowers need to be removed. Hopefully you have at least 8 tiles among all those extra flowers that closely match the tiles of the set in size, thickness, and back color. The set needs 8 flowers that match the set and 8 jokers that match the set. Joker stickers are easy to find online, or make yourself. If the set was "rescued" in that manner, its value would be between $100-120. You could sell the extra tiles and the 4 forties cards separately. I don't know what you might get for those through bidding.

    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 25, 2018


    The AMJA card, part 2

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 12:29 PM
    >Subject: Re: American Mah Jong association
    >Hi Tom, Thanks for the quick response. I did manage to find a phone number for the American Mah Jong Association and spoke with them this morning. There are still around but had an apparent major (2+ day) outage with their web page. My card is in the mail so I’ll get to see the differences shortly.
    >TimA

    I reinstated those links. Acted a bit hasty there.

    May the tiles be with you, Tim!
    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, 2018


    Us non-Americans are left out in the cold

    >From: Annette
    >Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 9:11 AM
    >Subject: 2017 card
    >I live in the U k but when visiting the US I get invited to play Mah Jongg.
    >In error I ordered the 2018 American MJ card not the National League. I also now realise 2017 card is still being used.
    >The National league will only accents accept payment from an American account with delivery to US.
    >Sent several emails, no replies from anyone! Can you offer any advice or assistance?
    >With thanks.

    Hi, Annette!
    I assume that the "Americans only" policy is the bigger problem, more so than having ordered the wrong card (especially since the 2017 card is going to be old hat in 5 weeks). I suppose one solution (assuming the League isn't going to change its policy) would be for some American to act as a broker for non-American players, but I don't want to do that, and I don't know of anyone doing that. Another would be for you to ask an American friend (someone you play with when visiting) to order the card for you. Or you could try telephoning the League during New York business hours.
    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
    2/22/2018


    Need an automatic table for American mah-jongg

    >From: Will S
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 10:46 PM
    >Subject: MAHJONG Help
    >Hi Tom,
    >I live in New Jersey and I need to buy my wife a beautiful American tile Mahjong table for her birthday. She wants an automatic mahjong table. I'm finding it very hard to find a reliable company to buy this table from. I'm reaching out to people like you who are in the Mahjong world, and may be able to point me in the right direction of a great resource to buy this table.
    >Please email me any recommendations you may have as soon as you can.
    >Thank you in advance for your help.
    >Regards, Will S
    >The information contained in this e-mail may be confidential and is intended solely for the addressee. Unauthorized access, disclosure, copying, distribution or other action taken or omitted relying on the contents of this message, is prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the intended recipient please reply and advise the sender of the erroneous transmission and immediately delete the message.

    Hi, Will.
    All I have for you is the information in FAQ 7F and the Accessories For Sale bulletin board. If I wanted to buy a table, I'd start by checking with the companies listed there. If you have had a bad experience with one of the companies listed on my website, tell me about it so I can remove that listing. Some manufacturers were added to FAQ 7F a couple years ago, but some of the information is old and may no longer be correct. You can link to the FAQs and boards above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Terms of service and privacy policy: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. Your email may be edited before posting.
    No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes your permission for your words to be made public.
    The first time someone asks a question here, I send a reply email to let you know that you should come back and see your answer.

    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 2, 2018


    The AMJA card

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 3:25 PM
    >Subject: American Mah Jong association
    >Hi Tom, A couple of quick questions for you.
    >Last week I ordered a card from the American Mah Jong Association to see what it was like compared to the one From the NMJL that I normally use.
    >Today I go to see what the status of the order is and it appears that the amja.net web site is down.
    >Can you give me a brief description of the differences in cards, if you know that is and also, do you know if they are gone or is it just a technical glitch keeping them off line.
    >Foolishly, I didn’t keep a phone number for them so can’t even call.
    >TimA

    Hi, Tim.
    I don't know if the AMJA is still in business or not. If you can read the NMJL card, you can read the alternative cards. You will need to read the AMJA card carefully (front and back) to discern what the differences are. I haven't seen one in a few years. Thanks for letting me know the site is down. I removed 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
    February 20, 2018


    Conflicting info, part 2

    >From: Nancy W
    >Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2018 6:24 PM
    >Subject: Re: May Jongg sets
    >Thanks so much for your quick response!
    >I was only looking…..yes they are quite pricey but beautiful.
    >Appreciate your input. Just found your site which is interesting as well. I am new to the game and love it!
    >Nancy

    Enjoy the journey, Nancy!
    Gong xi fa cai! 恭喜发财! 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 2, 2018


    Conflicting info about brown enrobed sets

    >From: Nancy W
    >Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2018 11:57 AM
    >Subject: May Jongg sets
    >I find the enrobed sets fascinating and have seen jade and burgundy. Recently a set on ebay sold as chocolate brown. Is there a chocolate brown or is it really a deep burgundy? I had someone that sells Mah Jongg sets tell me there was no such thing as chocolate brown enrobed sets.
    >Please clarify.
    >Thanks!
    >Nancy

    I'm sorry, Nancy, but I am not wealthy enough to indulge myself in buying enrobed sets. I don't know what colors the manufacturer(s) used in enrobed sets, or what colors those colors might fade to. But I do know that brown is not an unusual color for bakelite items (I used to have a brown bakelite radio, and I have one or two brown racks). Maybe if you join the Mah Jongg Collectors Assn. Facebook group, you can get better answers.
    Happy year of the dog! 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, 2018


    What's app, doc?

    >From: Cathleen E
    >Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2018 11:07 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: Best App
    >Hi Tom,
    >Can you please suggest your favorite App for playing American Mah Jongg?
    >Thanks,
    >Cathleen

    Hi, Cathleen.
    I'm only aware of four, not counting the several helper apps. Each one has its pluses and minuses. Different costs, player friendliness (double entendre), features. I haven't drawn up a comparison grid, and furthermore I sheepishly confess to avoiding the "favorite" question.
    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 11, 2018


    A gap in our understanding

    >From: Manley"
    >Sent: Thursday, February 8, 2018 5:40 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I checked FAQ 19, Topic “EXPOSURES”, item Z, but I'm not sure it handles this quite completely. It does for a mahjong call, but not sure if it applies to exposures before any mahjong is called.
    >If someone is showing, say, two exposures on the top of their rack - not yet mahjong - I do not believe there is a rule saying they must separate them into two groups. So, if the exposures are each four tiles, they are allowed to put all eight tiles all in a contiguous row. (Obviously each foursome has to be together but they do not have to separate their foursomes.) However, in one of Gladys’s tournaments I attended about four years ago, she stated at the start that if anyone else at the table requested a player separates their exposures into groups, they must do so.
    >After that tournament, my group adopted that policy at our weekly games. However, a recent addition to our group has started to object saying there is nothing that prevents her from grouping all her exposures into one long line. She freely admits this is designed to confuse the opponents and is part of the game.
    >So, my question is, is it a “house-rule” or is it a mahjong rule that if anyone requests a player separate their exposures, they MUST do so? Is it just etiquette?
    >Thanks for any help you can give me on this matter.
    >All the best,
    >Manley P

    Hi, Manley! Let's see, you wrote:

    I checked FAQ 19
    Did you check FAQ 9?

    I do not believe there is a rule saying they must separate them into two groups.
    You are correct. There is no written rule. But on page 14 of the 2018 revised rulebook, it does mention separating exposures. "... it is courteous to leave a space between the exposures." In 2001, I talked about "viewer-unfriendly" hand exposure when I wrote FAQ 9.

    So, if the exposures are each four tiles, they are allowed to put all eight tiles all in a contiguous row.
    In a game not hosted by Gladys Grad, or by someone who enforces courteous playing practices: yes.

    in one of Gladys’s tournaments I attended about four years ago, she stated at the start that if anyone else at the table requested a player separates their exposures into groups, they must do so.
    I approve wholeheartedly.

    a recent addition to our group has started to object saying there is nothing that prevents her from grouping all her exposures into one long line. She freely admits this is designed to confuse the opponents and is part of the game.
    Oh, one of those. I prefer to play with people who take a less aggressive view of the game, but an aggressive opponent can add spice to the challenge of the game.

    Thanks for any help you can give me on this matter.
    You're welcome!
    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 8, 2018


    What's it worth, part 2

    >From: Catherine R
    >Sent: Thursday, February 8, 2018 2:22 PM
    >Subject: Re: Seeking info on value of set
    >Thank you for your prompt reply!
    >Not that it affects the value of the set, but just to clarify some of my comments, I did in fact purchase the set as a gift to a family member, who stuck it in a closet and never used it. That’s how I know where it came from (catalog) and roughly how much it cost, though it seems like my memory is off on that last point.
    >I appreciate your help.

    You're welcome, Catherine!
    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 8, 2018


    What's it worth?

    >From: Catherine R
    >Sent: Thursday, February 8, 2018 11:32 AM
    >Subject: Seeking info on value of set
    >Hi, Tom. Thanks for your very informative web site. I am trying to sell a mah-jongg set, and per your suggestion I referred to eBay to look at prices of comparable sets. Most of what I found there is either sets claiming to be vintage or antique, or inexpensive modern sets, neither of which really matches the one I have. I hope the information I’m sharing with you here might at least point me to the right ballpark for determining a sale price.
    >My set was purchased as a gift 25-30 years ago, probably from a catalog. It has never been used, and when I took the pieces out yesterday to photograph them it was probably the first time they’ve left the case. So condition is absolutely pristine, mint condition. I believe the original purchase price was $125 or $150, but my memory may be unreliable.
    >Following the format you specified in your FAQ 7h, my set contains 36 dots, 36 bams, 36 craks, 16 winds, 12 dragons, eight flowers, four “other”, and four blanks. In addition there are four wind discs and four very small dice, and 117 sticks. There are no racks, chip holders, or rulers. In all, the set looks very similar to the one you have pictured in FAQ 7h except that it has no jokers.
    >From what I can tell based on your website, the set is bone and bamboo; I am attaching one photo that shows the surface striations that lead me to believe it is bone. Dimensions are 3 cm X 2 cm X 1.4 cm, and the bone layer itself is about 0.4 cm thick. The sticks are irregularly shaped, which reinforces my belief that they are bone rather than man-made material.
    >The set is housed in a wooden box that is covered with fabric, possibly silk. The inner trays are also fabric-covered wood. Included is a paper instruction manual. All of these, like the set in general, are in pristine condition.
    >The craks are modern style, as I would expect from a set purchased 25 years ago.
    >I am attaching a number of pictures that I hope will give you a good idea of what the set looks like and its condition inside and out. I will appreciate any information you can give me about what a fair selling price would be for this set.
    >Thank you for your help.

    Hi, Catherine! You wrote:

    My set was purchased as a gift 25-30 years ago
    This is the same type of set I discussed with Jackie Z on December 27 (you can scroll down to December to see that discussion). As I told Jackie, I saw lots of these sets on sale in Los Angeles' Chinatown in the 1990s. So I'm inclined to say "probably closer to 25 than 30."

    probably from a catalog.
    This detail confuses me. If you received this set as a gift, I don't know how you would know it was ordered from a catalog (unless you asked the giver). And if you are the one who purchased it as a gift for someone else, I would have to assume you never gave it to that person.

    I believe the original purchase price was $125 or $150, but my memory may be unreliable.
    This just adds to my confusion expressed just above. It's unusual to ask someone how much they paid for a gift. So I guess you bought it as a gift but then didn't give it...?
    Anyway... When I saw these sets in Chinatown in the nineties, I saw them priced at $59.99 or $69.99. I have one I regularly use when planning a strategy column, and it still has its $59.99 pricetag. I can imagine that a catalog seller would jack up the price, but doubling the price seems kind of steep to me.

    four “other” ... it has no jokers.
    Those "other" tiles are, in fact, Chinese jokers. See FAQ 7E.

    From what I can tell based on your website, the set is bone and bamboo; I am attaching one photo that shows the surface striations that lead me to believe it is bone.
    Pulverized reconstituted fishbone (see FAQ 7C). The price sticker in my set says "T-bone," whatever that means.

    The set is housed in a wooden box that is covered with fabric, possibly silk. The inner trays are also fabric-covered wood.
    I don't know for a fact that the box and trays are wood. Mine do sound like they might be wood, so they might be.

    Subject: Seeking info on value of set
    As I told Jackie: I don't see why it would be worth anything less than $80 today. I don't think you should sell it for less than $90. In addition: I think $120 would be too high a price. These are pleasant sets to play with, and American players can use these (by putting 8 joker stickers on the blanks and the Chinese jokers). But American sets (complete with racks) can be bought for $90.

    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 8, 2018


    I wasn't thinking clearly when I called for that discard

    >From: Diane F
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 9:58 PM
    >Subject: Question about taking an unneeded discard
    >?Not thinking clearly, I called for a discard and put in on my rack. Before I exposed my tiles, I realized that my hand called for 3 of the same tiles and I had just picked up the 4th. I felt obligated to expose all four tiles which really messed up my hand. In retrospect, would it have been OK to expose the three tiles and then discard the tile I had just picked up?
    >Thanks,
    >Diane

    Hi, Diane! You caught me just as I was about to shut down for the night.
    I assume you play American mah-jongg, since you use racks. It's definitely going to raise a lot of eyebrows if you discard the tile you just punged. Eyebrows and questions and objections. Maybe even an argument. Other forms of mah-jongg are better documented, but American mah-jongg rules have never addressed this question, as far as I know. What I'm saying is, I've never seen a ruling in writing on this question.
    Of course you can just expose a pung. You exposed a kong, ruining your hand - and discarded a tile. If you exposed just the pung, would you have had nothing to discard (without ruining your hand), except for that tile you called? It's a nonsensical play, and controversial, but I don't believe the League would say you should be dead for doing 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
    February 7, 2018


    How long does the window of opportunity stay open?

    >From: cdefalco2002
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 7:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How much time does a player have to in order to call a tile that has been discarded

    Hi cdefalco2002, the answer depends on which mah-jongg variant you play. If you play MCR (Majiang Competition Rules, AKA Chinese Official Mahjong), then the answer is "3 seconds." If you play American (National Mah Jongg League rules), then the answer is "until the window is closed by the next player in turn (see FAQ 19-C*)." Do you play one of those two variants?
    * You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left. If you play American mah-jongg, then after you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    February 7, 2018


    Hop toi or bok choy?

    >From: Dee S
    >Sent: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 8:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg term
    >Hi Tom – Your site is very informative, but I haven’t seen a question like this:
    >When tiles are being dealt (or taken) from the wall, and a player receives the last 2 tiles from the current wall and the first 2 tiles from the new wall – what is the actual term used for those tiles (if there is one)?
    >I’ve heard it called several different things from Bok Choi to Hop Toi. I guess it depends who taught the game to you. I’m not even sure if there’s an actual term for it. Everyone says it’s supposed to be “Lucky Tiles”, which of course, they rarely are.
    >Just wanted to see if there is an actual term for it.
    >Thank you for your help.
    >(A fairly new player)
    >Dee S.

    Hi, Dee!
    It's a real term. I listed it in the glossary of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind." The term is hop toi. Bok choy, of course, is a vegetable.
    Gung hei fa choi! ("Get rich in the new year!") May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 7, 2018


    She ran out of money and kept playing, and didn't have to pay when she lost! Doesn't seem fair!

    >From: marie b
    >Sent: Sunday, February 4, 2018 4:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >The limit to losing money is $4. Player 1 lost all her money and continued to play. Player 2 won a mahjongg, and player 1 couldn't pay player 2.
    >Player 1 finally wins and player 2 asks if she should just keep her money, since, in effect, player 1 owes player 2. No, player 2 still had to pay player 1.
    >Is this an official rule, or is this an optional rule set up by the individuals playing? Doesn't seem fair.

    Hi, Marie! This is the customary "pie" scoring method. Traditionally, American mah-jongg was played with chips (like poker chips, with holes in the middle), but then it became the custom to play for actual coins. That resulted in some risk-averse players wanting the ability to limit one's losses in a play session. Thus the "pie." (In your group's case: $4.*) You can read about it in FAQ 19-W (you can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left). After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    February 4, 2018

    *Most groups I've heard from use a $5 pie. I've also heard of $10 pie and $3 pie. First time I heard of a $4 pie. Extra risk-averse (but not extraordinarily risk-averse) group. - Tom


    Chow limits in Western mah-jongg

    >From: Di N
    >Sent: Sunday, February 4, 2018 5:17 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Australian : Follow Thompson & Maloney “Mahjong Players Companion” but rules defined are not in depth enough / reader friendly for beginners.
    >1. Question: Can you chow (from the left & obviously expose the chow) in any hand other than ‘ordinary Mahjong’ ?
    >*** Many rules (incl Thompson & Maloney) refer to being able to “chow from the left if no player pungs a discard” but do not then continue with any nominated hands or scoring (limit) conditions that this rule applies to.
    >2. Is there any way that we are able to contact Thompson & Maloney to clarify some rules?
    >Thank you
    >Di N

    Hi, Di!

    It's customary in Australian/British rules to permit chowing no more than once per hand.

    I have no idea! You can always get more books on Australian/British/Western rules, and fill in some gaps in T&M that way. See FAQ 3, use key search word "Western." There are several such books listed 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
    February 4, 2018


    Is my set ivory, part 2

    >From: Michael F
    >Sent: Sunday, February 4, 2018 1:23 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong tiles
    > Thank you for your time!
    >Mike

    I'm sorry, Mike. The resolution of the tile image is still too low. Your camera or phone is set to create images no greater than 640 pixels in the longest dimension, and that's not good enough for what you're trying to accomplish. You need to change the resolution settings, if you can, else use a different camera or phone to get higher-resolution images. You should try to get much brighter light on the tile (just one tile) and get 2 photos of it, showing how the crosshatch effect changes with rotation. The pink paper you photographed - I can't tell if that's the cover of a booklet (which has much more writing than what's shown), or if it's a one-sided card (thus represents all the writing available to inspect - not counting the scoring card, which you have not photographed at all). I need clear images of all the writing (scans would be better than handheld photos). I can't tell anything about the sticks in that low-resolution photo. And I still want the answers to the question in FAQ 7c2 (I misspoke when I said 7c3 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
    February 4, 2018


    Is my set ivory?

    >From: Michael F
    >Sent: Sunday, February 4, 2018 9:19 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong tiles
    >Was comparing your description of ivory chevron pattern with this set. Your opinion?
    >Mike

    Good morning, Mike.
    I'm sorry, but the image quality isn't good enough for me to tell whether or not your tiles are ivory (I assume that's what you're really trying to find out). It seems unlikely, given that the set is packaged in an ordinary case, and the tiles are backed with bamboo. I would need to see higher-resolution photos of the tiles under bright bright light, and the answers to the questions in FAQ 7c3 7c2. And I would want to see high-definition scans of the written materials in the set, to see if they say anything to indicate that the tiles might be ivory. I would be interested in closeups of the sticks, too (to see if those might be ivory).
    Sometimes we can see crosshatched circular saw markings or disc sander markings on the ends of tiles, left over from the manufacturing process. Your photo above was the best one you sent, and I can't tell from that what the markings are.
    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 4, 2018


    A tile was misnamed, causing a problem, part 3

    >From: Susan D
    >Sent: Thursday, February 1, 2018 12:58 PM
    >Subject: [No Subject]
    >Tom, Thank you for your quick response regarding calling a misnamed tile. I do realize that the NMJL recommends picking up a called tile before making an exposure, but as we know there are a lot of people who ignore recommendations, and then get upset when things don't go their way. I am not just talking about Mah Jongg! lol
    >Susan

    Yeppers!


    It's almost Chinese New Year...

    >From: Sandy W
    >Sent: Thursday, February 1, 2018 12:43 PM
    >Subject: Special Tom Sloper hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >Do you have a special Tom Sloper hand for this year? Our group looks forward to it each year. We like to add it to the bottom of our Mahj cards.
    >If you’ve already posted it, please direct me to the post. I looked on your site but didn’t see it.
    >Thanks,
    >Sandy W.
    >Cincinnati, Ohio

    Hi, Sandy in good old Cincinnati! Thanks for the nudge. TBH, I hadn't given it any thought. I find that Chinese New Year is on Feb. 16 this year, so I can do a column with a Year of the Dog hand either next Sunday the 4th or the following Sunday the 11th, and not be too late! I'm starting the creative cog wheels turning now.
    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 1, 2018


    A tile was misnamed, causing a problem, part 2

    >From: Susan D
    >Sent: Thursday, February 1, 2018 12:32 PM
    >Subject: A deeper look at a misnamed tile called for exposure
    >Please disregard my previous email.
    >I need clarification about a situation that occurred during play. Player #1 discards a 6 crack, but calls it an 8 crack. Player #3 calls for the tile, but before picking it up she exposes 3 eight cracks, which were her only exposure. As she is reaching for the 8, other players tell her that it is a 6. The player returns the 8’s to the sloping part of her rack. Furthermore, she tells the miscaller that if she has an 8 crack that she must discard it. (I KNOW that is incorrect.) My questions are:
    >1. What happens to the miscaller?
    >2. Isn’t it the players’ responsibility to listen and look?
    >3. Should the 8’s have been returned to the rack?
    >4. What happens to the 6 crack, which the player never picked up?
    >5. Is the player who made the exposure dead, or does she continue play and try to build a hand around the three eights?
    >6. If she is dead, is it because she played out of turn, or because she made an exposure without calling for a tile, or both? Technically the 3 8’s are not an incorrect exposure, right?
    >7. Whose turn is it, the player after the discarder or the player after the person with the incorrect exposure?
    >8. Wouldn’t it be better to pick up the tile you are calling for before making it an exposure? (Personally, I wish it was a rule). That would prevent players from making incorrect exposures.
    >Thank you,
    >Susan Davidson

    Too late to disregard. Already answered (below). Looks like the only change to your question is that you omitted the word "tournament" in the second email. It doesn't change 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 1, 2018


    A tile was misnamed, causing a problem (FAQ 19-AY)

    >From: Susan D
    >Sent: Thursday, February 1, 2018 11:57 AM
    >Subject: An deeper question about a misnamed tile
    >I need a clarification about a situation that occurred during tournament play. Player #1 discards a 6 crack, but calls it an 8 crack. Player #3 calls for the tile, but before picking it up she exposes 3 eight cracks, which were her only exposure. As she is reaching for the 8, other players tell her that it is a 6. The player returns the 8’s to the sloping part of her rack. Furthermore, she tells the miscaller that if she has an 8 crack that she must discard it. (I KNOW that is incorrect.) My questions are: 1.What happens to the miscaller? 2. Isn’t it the players’ responsibility to listen and look? 3. Should the 8’s have been returned to the rack? 4. What happens to the 6 crack, which the player never picked up? 5. Is the player who made the exposure dead, or does she continue play and try to build a hand around the three eights? 6. If she is dead, is it because she played out of turn, or because she made an exposure without calling for a tile, or both? Technically the 3 8’s are not an incorrect exposure, right? 7. Whose turn is it, the player after the discarder or the player after the person with the incorrect exposure? 8. Wouldn’t it be better to pick up the tile you are calling for before making it an exposure? (Personally, I wish it was a rule). That would prevent players from making incorrect exposures.
    >Thank you,
    >Susan D

    Hi, Susan! You wrote:

    Player #3 calls for the tile, but before picking it up she exposes 3 eight cracks, which were her only exposure. As she is reaching for the 8, other players tell her that it is a 6. The player returns the 8’s to the sloping part of her rack.
    She's not allowed to do that. She's dead. She has to take the misnamed discard and put the entire illegal exposure on the sloping front of her rack, and discontinue playing for the remainder of the hand. See FAQ 19-AM and see rule 6(b) on page 18 of the 2018 revised rulebook.

    she tells the miscaller that if she has an 8 crack that she must discard it. (I KNOW that is incorrect.)
    You know the official rule, all right! (It is possible that the tournament organizer uses a different rule.)

    What happens to the miscaller?
    I assume you mean the misnamer. No penalty for her. See rule 6(b) and FAQ 19-AY.

    Isn’t it the players’ responsibility to listen and look?
    Yep.

    Questions 3, 4, and 5 have already been answered in full.

    If she is dead, is it because she played out of turn, or because she made an exposure without calling for a tile, or both?
    It's because she made an illegal exposure. Calling for the discard (speaking the request) was rescindable. Exposing from her hand was not.

    Technically the 3 8’s are not an incorrect exposure, right?
    That is an illegal exposure. She exposed eights to go with a discarded six.

    Whose turn is it, the player after the discarder or the player after the person with the incorrect exposure?
    The player to the right of the now-dead player plays next. The now-dead player made a play that resulted in her disqualification. It was a play that superseded someone else's turn. It was a turn.

    Wouldn’t it be better to pick up the tile you are calling for before making it an exposure?
    Of course. In fact, the newly revised rulebook says exactly that on page 14. I wrote about that in last Sunday's column.

    As you say: every player has a responsibility to listen and look. This game is rife with players who play with their ears, and don't bother using their eyes.
    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 1, 2018


    She won by joker redemption, part 2

    >From: MaciaWA
    >Sent: Thursday, February 1, 2018 6:08 AM
    >Subject: Re: Rules question, not on FAQ
    >Your response to my question on the bulletin board was correct — I had not provided enough detail. Allow me to correct that for a more on-point response!
    >
    >Player “A” has two kongs exposed, one of 5 bams and one of 5 craks, each of which contains 3 natural tiles and one joker. After making the exposures, she drew the remaining 5 bam and 5 crak, so the exposed jokers cannot be taken by opponents. Not wanting to telegraph to her opponents that she has extra jokers in her hand and so is closer to mahjongg than they might realize, “A” has not exchanged for the jokers in her exposures and has the natural tiles still in her hand. Also in her hand are two soaps and one flower.
    >
    >Her ruse worked, and an overly confident opponent discarded a flower. She called for it to complete her pair, declaring mahjongg in Like Numbers by exposing her entire hand, replacing the jokers in her exposures with the natural tiles and using them to complete her kong of soaps. We allowed her the win, reasoning that because the jokers were on her own exposure, they were already in her hand when she called for the flower so the call was legal.
    >
    >The underlying question: as the jokers were on her own exposures, and she had the only natural tiles that could replace them on the other face of her rack, were those jokers considered to be part of her hand so that she could legally call to complete a pair for mahjong? A related question: if she’d had 3 of the natural tiles in her hand when the fourth was discarded, could she have called for it, then made her exposure holding one of the natural tiles back and replacing it with a joker on her exposure in order to mislead her opponents (assuming she would not need that joker later to call for another discard)?
    >Appreciate your expertise!

    Hi, Macia!
    I told you on January 8 that the only way to legally win by joker discard is by making a legal exposure with the discard, before redeeming her jokers and displaying the hand. She didn't do that. Her win was not legal. As I said, "if she didn't do step 2 properly, then it was a bad mah-jongg." Step 2 was:

    she has to make a complete exposure of the one set that's completed by the discard. (If she can't do this, then the whole play is illegal.) 

    A player can never call a discard to complete a pair, unless it completes the hand immediately. She needed to redeem those jokers BEFORE she could legally call a discard to complete a pair. So that's the answer to your underlying question. It's discussed in full in FAQ 19-M. As for your related question:

    if she’d had 3 of the natural tiles in her hand when the fourth was discarded, could she have called for it, then made her exposure holding one of the natural tiles back and replacing it with a joker on her exposure in order to mislead her opponents (assuming she would not need that joker later to call for another discard)?
    That's the way her ploy would have worked legally. She needed to win on a kong, not on a pair. See 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
    February 1, 2018

      P.S. Re-reading that question, I believe I misinterpreted it when I wrote the above response. If there is still an unanswered question, then I'm ready to hear it. - Tom


    Is this cheating?

    >From: Aime P
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 4:04 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: There is no set rule on how discards are placed on the table. As older players with poorer vision, we like to discard by suits (not chronologically). We find this actually makes for a faster game as it is easy for any player to quickly scan the discards to help them decide whether to change hands. We also place the discards in front of a wall that has already gone out, thus avoiding the mess of trying to move discards out of the way when pushing out a new wall. When we have suggested this idea to other players, most have readily adapted it or at least were willing to give it a try. (etiquette) but others say it is cheating. I don’t see how it could be cheating when with random discarding, all tiles are available for players to see but it takes longer (delaying the game) for a player to look all over for the tiles they may need to make a hand or new hand (if changing mid game, which is common). We play for fun, not money. Most likely in a tournament, this would not be a method to discard but for casual play we find that has sped up our games. Your thoughts? S. P

    Good morning, S.
    It's not cheating. The naysayers are wrong about that. It's a visual aid, not a cheat. The Japanese have a practice I call "orderly discards" in which each player's discards are placed in neat rows so others can see a history of exactly which tiles that player discarded. Your naysayers would say that's "cheating," but if everybody is doing it, it doesn't give one person an advantage over another. The Chinese official game has adopted the Japanese orderly discard practice - the Chinese committee never would have done so if it really was in any way enabling "cheating."
    Some people sometimes choose the wrong word to describe something, when they can't find a better word. And some people resist any kind of change.
    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, 2018


    Wasn't the window of opportunity still open?

    >From: Marilyn C
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2018 7:19 PM
    >Subject: Declaring mah jongg
    >Playing 13 tiles. The lady across from me threw my Mah jongg tile. But the lady to my left said I already picked my tile, which was still in her hand and not racked. Do I still get my Mah jongg? I thought Mah jongg trumps her quick pick.
    >Thank you.

    Marilyn, another player just lifting a tile from the wall does not close the window of opportunity to call the live discard. Open your rulebook and show her the bottom of page 18.


    This is the League's official handbook.
    It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!

    If you don't have the rulebook, then see FAQ 19-C. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    January 30, 2018


    Where can I get it appraised?

    >From: Mark U
    >Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 7:13 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >How many tiles are in a mah-jongg set and where can I get one appraised.
    >Sent from my iPhone
    >Mark

    Hi, Mark. You wrote:

    How many tiles are in a mah-jongg set
    That depends on which type of set it is. If it's a Chinese set, it might be 144 or 148 tiles. If it's a Japanese set, it's 144. If it's American, it's 152 or more (or less, depending on its age). See FAQ 7A and 7B and 7D and 7E. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    where can I get one appraised.
    I can give you a free public appraisal right here. Just give me the information outlined in FAQ 7H, with not too few pictures and not too many pictures.

    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 29, 2018


    Chengdu mah-jongg

    >From: Joseph S
    >Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 6:47 AM
    >Subject: Re: Chengdu
    >Hi Mr. Sloper,
    >I admit I haven’t been following your Q&A in a while; has your friend in Chengdu gotten back to you about Chengdu rules?
    >Joe

    Hi, Joe.
    That was quite some time ago. It was a former student who graduated and went home to China. I don't remember which student it was now. I'm inclined to let her move on with life.
    Tom


    Not seeing the blind pass

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 6:30 AM
    >Subject: Blind Pass Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >I think I've grasped how the game is played with one exception. I've read, re-read numerous times, and read again about the BLIND PASS on your site, and even others. Something is just not clicking and I'm just not getting it for some reason.
    >What is the advantage of doing a blind pass? Why not look at all 3 tiles passed to you, keep what you want to keep and then add to what you don't want to pass 3 more tiles on to the next player?
    >If one does a blind pass and there is a JOKER in the tiles you are blind passing, does the person you are passing to have to declare there's a joker being passed?
    >Do you announce you are doing a blind pass?
    >The IOU aspect of it all makes it all more confusing.
    >I think this will help me be able to play if I can understand this aspect of the game.
    >Thanks!
    >Debbie

    Good morning, Debbie! You asked:

    What is the advantage of doing a blind pass?
    It gives you a way to deal with the fact that you don't have 3 tiles to pass to another player, without ruining your hand.

    Why not look at all 3 tiles passed to you, keep what you want to keep and then add to what you don't want
    Because that's against the rules. You're not allowed to look at the tiles passed to you until after you have passed 3 tiles from your hand.

    If one does a blind pass and there is a JOKER in the tiles you are blind passing
    That would be extremely unlikely. Why would your neighbor pass you a joker?

    does the person you are passing to have to declare there's a joker being passed?
    Yes. The new rulebook revision says a joker has to be refused if received in the Charleston.

    Do you announce you are doing a blind pass?
    There is no rule that says you must do so.

    The IOU aspect of it all makes it all more confusing.
    That's a thing I use as my stock answer to people who ask about the ASTRONOMICALLY UNLIKELY event that all 4 players want to blind pass (that NOBODY has 3 tiles to pass). First, become familiar with blind passing to the extent that you don't have more questions about normal blind passing. Second, ask yourself "what if everybody wants to blind pass?" Until you're ready for step 2, don't bother thinking about what happens if everybody wants to blind pass - maybe that has NEVER HAPPENED, for all I 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 29, 2018


    Can he add to an exposure later?

    >From: Cat K
    >Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2018 8:29 PM
    >Subject: American Mahjong_Exposing Kong as a Pung
    >Hello Tom
    >I'm a beginner in the American Mahjong world. During a game where we were learning while playing (talking rules during play) recently a player called for a discard and exposed a kong as a pung, saying it was his strategy in order conceal his hand. He exposed the 4th identical tile to make the pung for mahjong eventually.
    >Is this allowed? Or after calling for a discard does the player have to expose the entire kong immediately?
    >Thank you for your great informational site.
    >Catlanski

    Hi, Cat!
    The player has to expose the entire kong immediately. In American mah-jongg, exposed groupings may not be promoted or demoted after the player has discarded following the exposure. It says that in FAQ 19-AF* and on page 14 of the rulebook.


    This is the League's official handbook.
    It was revised in 2013, and again in 2018.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!

    If you don't have a copy, you should get one.
    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 28, 2018

    * You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks! - Tom


    Can I pung a discard on a special hand?

    >From: Di N
    >Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can you Pung from discarded tiles in any other game/hand other than ‘ordinary mahjong’ ? Eg Civil War, Dragonfly, Dragon’s Teeth, Three Sisters, Seven Brothers, Gates of Heaven ?..

    Hi, Di! You just have to look in your book and see if the hand is marked Concealed or not.
    So, let's see...
    ● Civil War - Concealed
    ● Dragonfly - Hmm, I don't find that in Mah Jong, Anyone? - you didn't say which book your group uses as its guide. Thompson & Maloney indicate that this is an exposed hand, but scored higher when concealed. Max Robertson concurs.
    ● Dragon's Teeth - Hmm, not listed in Thompson & Maloney (TGOMJI)... I have to dig into more books... Sorry, I give up. You have to tell me what book you use. I tried four different authors, and five different books. I found Dragonfly, Dragon's Breath, and Dragon's Tail, but I can't find Dragon's Teeth.
    ● Three Sisters - Thompson & Maloney say this can be either concealed or exposed (worth more if concealed).
    ● Seven Brothers - Ditto
    ● Gates of Heaven - Concealed
    Look the hand up in your rulebook (if you don't have one, get one that agrees with the rules your group uses - see FAQ 3). If the hand is marked Concealed in the rulebook, then you should not call a discard for exposure (but you may call a discard for mah-jongg). Otherwise, you are permitted to call a discard for a pung, kong, or chow. Your group may have restrictions as to how many exposures are permitted (especially chows).
    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 28, 2018


    Who should start the Charleston?

    >From: Vanora J
    >Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2018 9:56 AM
    >Subject: Charleston
    >Dear Tom
    >Would you please say who should start the Charleston.
    >I've read on how to start the charleston but I seem to missed who starts it?
    >We play the person who breaks the wall starts the charleston.
    >Want to play correctly so I may be able to play with everyone.
    >Thank you so much for The Red Dragon & West Winds. It has help to keep us on track and not lost in silly table rules.
    >Vanora
    >Grace and Peace<><

    Hi, Vanora! You asked:

    who should start the Charleston?
    You should. Don't sit there waiting for somebody to start. If you have chosen your three tiles to pass, place them on the corner to your right and say "first right."

    We play the person who breaks the wall starts the charleston.
    If you all like sitting there waiting for East to pass first, there's no mah-jongg police to tell you you can't do that.

    Really, it makes no difference who passes first. All four of you are going to pass. You placing three tiles at the corner at your right does not force your neighbor to take them before she's ready. I've occasionally had a neighbor say to me, "not so fast! I'm not ready!" to which I reply, "they're there when you're ready." Then I wait for my leftie to pass to me. It'll happen when it happens.

    The first pass is not a big deal. The thing you don't want to happen is for somebody to get lost in the dance and then for her confusion to become contagious. That happens with a slow dance, not a fast one. In a real dance, the music dictates when you should take a step. In the absence of music, if you're not with that group who waits for East to begin the dance, you can go ahead and make the first step when you're ready. Just don't move on to the next dance step until everyone is on the same step.

    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 28, 2018


    How much protection does a card need?

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2018 1:28 PM
    >Subject:
    >I couldn't find this question answered on your website...
    >The Mah Jongg card, does it have a plastic protective coating that can be wiped off, or is it just made of heavy paper stock? I guess what I'm asking, is the card cover necessary to purchase to keep your card protected? Is there anything else people do to preserve the card from getting dirty or ripped besides purchasing this cover? Could you laminate it yourself?
    >Thanks Tom!!
    >Debbie

    Hi, Debbie!
    I don't think those plastic covers are necessary. The card only has to last a year, and I've never seen one get ruined by some kind of accident. You hardly ever see them get worn out, either.
    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, 2018


    Want personalized tiles, part 2

    >From: Joy H
    >Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2018 11:15 AM
    >Subject: thanks and more..
    >Hello Tom
    >I discovered your wonderful website a couple of years ago and appreciate your quick wit and advice, and now own 'The Red Dragon and West Wind' in book form and on my Kobo! ......Great information to have at hand always.
    >Concerning an inquiry from John dated January 22 regarding personalized tiles; perhaps 'Where The Winds Blow' might help? Their website offers customized tiles.
    >Thanks for your attention to this and all things Mah Jongg.
    >Sincerely,
    >Joy H
    >Tiles Archives - Where the Winds Blow
    >Mah Jongg
    >Clicking tiles
    >Winning smiles
    >Weekly fun with friends . . . ???
    >2017 Year of the Rooster

    Cool tip, Joy! 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
    January 27, 2018


    Qs about Malaysian 3-player, part 2

    >From: mal j
    >Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2018 5:50 AM
    >Subject: RE: Fwd: Malaysian Three Player Mah Jong Query
    >Dear Mr Sloper,
    >Thick you did your response to my lengthy enquiry. Regarding your own, thing information in the 'annoying table' was compiled from two mainly to sites your own and an Australian lady whose site is named A Day in The Life...... In the past few days I have discovered an E book on the Amazon website that possibly could answer my queries. But unfortunately it has no reviews as yet and very little information concerning contents.
    >Thanks for the time,
    >Mal Jones

    Good morning, Mal.
    Okay, you made that table from a couple of sources. Googling what you said, I found 2 pages:
    http://thewriter2006.blogspot.com/2010/04/malaysian-mahjong.html and
    https://kotaku.com/a-life-lived-through-mahjong-1791801907
    As for that e-book, if I was trying to research a variant, I would avail myself of every possible lead.
    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, 2018


    Which ones should I sticker? Are any of these jokers?

    >From: D N
    >Sent: Friday, January 26, 2018 8:51 PM
    >Subject: question on set
    >I have an old set and wondered if you could tell me how best to use the tiles in the picture attached on how best to complete the set.
    >I have all the dot, bams, cracks, winds and dragons. There are no jokers. There are 4 tiles that have what looks like men on them, but those look too hard to play with as jokers, if that's what they are.
    >Can you recommend which tiles to keep for flowers? I guess the only option for Jokers is to get stickers, or are any of these tiles actually jokers?
    >Thanks for your help. Learning a lot from your site. Hoping to learn how to play.
    >Sincerely,
    >Debbie

    Those tiles are ALL "flowers," Debbie (see FAQ 7E). As for which ones not to sticker, that is entirely up to you. Nobody will care about the numbers or the designs (to American players, they're all just "flower" anyway). Don't sticker the 8 you want to look at the most, and sticker the 8 you dislike the most (or sticker any 8 that have exact duplicates). With 26 flowers, you're going to have 10 extra flowers that won't get played with anyway.
    Lucky you, having so many flowers.
    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 26, 2018


    Qs about Malaysian 3-player mah-jongg

    >From: Mal J
    >Sent: Friday, January 26, 2018 1:24 PM
    >Subject: Fwd: Malaysian Three Player Mah Jong Query
    >Dear Mr Sloper,
    >I have recently received a Malaysian Mah Jong set as a gift and would appreciate some clarification of the scoring and points system as the information on your website seems inconclusive to me:
    >As I understand you play with only one suit of tiles usually the Circles and with all the Winds and Dragons. The sets will also include 4 Flowers, 4 Seasons plus 4 Faces and 4 Animal tiles. Sets will also have 4 ‘Fly’ tiles (usually red characters) which are wildcard Jokers and can substitute any tile in a ‘meld’ of Chi’s/Chow’s, Pongs/Pungs and Gongs/Kongs/Gangs (note split wording as I realise that the terms Chows, Pungs and Kongs are a Westernised alteration to the original Chinese sounds); Japanese words sound as, Chi; Pon and Kan from what I have understood of the popular Riichi game.
    >Setting up:
    >1. Procedures for setting up the Malaysian game and starting play are as with standard rules, except the North wall is not erected. Some people suggest arranging the walls in a triangle but this is not typical as far as I can tell.
    >2. As there is no North Wind seat the North Wind tiles belong as it were to all players.
    >3. Note 1, up to 2 Fly tiles can be used to form a meld/set but never 3.
    >4. Note 2, you cannot use a Fly tile to make an exposed Chi/Chow that is, take the discard from the previous player to make a Chi/Chow.
    >5. Note 3; you can ‘rearrange’ tiles from a meld during your turn e.g. a Pubg/Pong, including ones which are ‘exposed’ (face up) which has a Fly tile or tiles and transfer the Fly tiles to another set or sets as long as you have the correct tiles in hand to complete the sets.
    >6. Note 4; you cannot use a Fly tile in a 4 set Kong/Gong/Gang.
    >Basic Points Systems. You need 5 Fann (points) minimum in your hand to enable you to go-out. These are as follows;
    >A Maximum Score which is usually 10 can be achieved from the following.

      Basic Points Systems. You need 5 Fann (points) minimum in your hand to enable you to go-out. These are as follows;   A Maximum Score which is usually 10 can be achieved from the following.
    1 One face = 1 fann 1 Having all 4 faces at start of play, game ends, you win.
    2 Four faces = 1 extra fann 2 No Flowers/Seasons/Faces
    3 One animal = 1 fann 3 Winning with first tile
    4 Four animals = 1 extra fann 4 Winning with last tile of wall or discarded tile.
    5 Your own Flower = 1 fann 5 Pongs of 4 Winds
    6 Holding all four flowers = 1 extra fann 6 3 Pongs of Winds and a pair
    7 Your own Season = 1 fann 7 3 Pongs of Dragons
    8 Holding all 4 Season = 1  extra fann 8 4 Gongs (revealed or concealed)
    9 Pong of your own Wind or North = 1 fann 9 4 Concealed Pong/Gong combinations
    10 Pong of Dragons = 1 fann 10 To win with replacement tile after two consecutive Gongs
    11 Y=Two Pongs and a pair of Dragons = 3 fann   *Special Hands can only be one suit and/or with Winds and Dragons
    12 Mixed suit hand = 1 fann    
    13 Same suit hand = 3 fann    
    14 No Chi/Chows; all Pongs/Gongs = 2 fann    
    15 Chi/Chow set from replacement tile after making a Gong or when replacing a Bonus tile = 1 fann   *Where you collect 4 faces during play you must play on and win to gain maximum fann.
    16 Stealing a Gong tile to go Mah Jong =1 fann   *These rules and scoring have been extracted from various texts and therefore are likely to be prone to error.
    17 East Wind gets 2 fann for Pong of its own Wind  

    >What I am uncertain of;
    >How many points does the winning hand receive if any for its ‘base score’ as we say in the west, i.e. the points for each meld you have in your winning hand? You describe points for Kong/Gong but not Pong/Pungs.
    >Under the heading scoring you use the phrase; ‘Count during game play’.
    >· Do you mean by this, the scores achieves at end of play after someone has gone Mah Jong/Wu? Or,
    >· Do sets receive points during normal play e.g. players make a running total of their score? This would seem strange as people would have to notify others of concealed melds they had.
    >You don’t describe the following points for some reason;
    >1. A set of 3 ‘exposed’ (face up meld of tiles) (Pung/Pong) = ……………….
    >2. A set of 3 ‘concealed’ (hidden meld of tiles) (Pung/Pong) = …………….
    >You describe points three and four;
    >3. A set of 4 ‘exposed’ tiles (Kong/Gong) = 50 ……………….
    >4. A set of 4 ‘concealed’ tiles (Kong/Gong) = 100 …………….
    >5. Fly tiles get = 50 each ...
    >· You don’t explain the term ‘a side score’ when referring to Fly tiles; what do you mean.
    >· What do you mean by ‘both player lost point’?
    >Is there a bonus score for going-out as with most styles/versions of Mah Jong; 20 points in western versions or 10 points in what is regarded to Westerners as the Classic Chinese style.
    >1. Do the ‘Pair’ of tiles needed to complete an ‘ordinary hand’ ( four sets and a pair) (sometimes called the Head Pair or Sparrow’s Head etc. receive points as they do in western versions (2 points normally if they are one’s own Winds or Dragons or nothing if ordinary tiles).
    >The section on achieving the final score is unclear to me e.g.
    >1. Are the Fann (points) from the hand you won with multiplied by the point value of the four sets and head Pair?
    >2. Or are the Fann (points) from the hand added to the point value of the four sets and Head Pair? Or,
    >3. Are the Fann points needed to ‘go out’ not counted in the final scoring; therefore, they are a ‘requirement for going out only’ but then ignored in the final scoring?
    >4. Does the possession of Fly tiles influence the final score other than receiving 50 points each and the subsequent ‘payment’ procedure?
    >Doubling procedures:
    >1. Is there any ‘doubling’ of the ‘base score’ as there is in Western versions e.g. for having a set of your own Winds. Wind of the round or a set of Dragons (colours) or for having your own Flower or Season tile etc. or for achieving a ‘Pure Hand’ with no Winds or Dragons?
    >Point/payment system with games/competitions?
    >1. How many points do you start a match/tournament with e.g. 5,000/10,000/20,000 etc.
    >2. Does the 3 Player Malaysian game have a system where players receive points/payment ‘during play’ for having a specific type of hand and specific tiles and not just for winning? I have read on some websites that certain rules allow this; but have no idea how it works as rules are nearly always badly written on the Internet including on so called official sites.
    >And finally: Do people in Malaysia play with a full three suit set and Bonus and Fly tiles in a more conventional 4 player way?
    >1. If so do the Fly tiles operate in the same way as with the 3 player game that is they are Jokers and can be swapped between melds/sets?
    >2. Do the bonus tiles of Faces and Animals have any significance other than providing additional points for the ‘base score’.
    >3. Is there a minimum Fann point per hand to ‘go out/Wu’ for a four player game?
    >Kind Regards, Mal J

    Hi, Mal.
    First, I want to make it clear that Vincent Cheah provided all the information about this variant so it could be published here. I have never played Malaysian 3P mah-jongg myself. All I did was try to edit some of his wording. Also, I have not been in touch with Vincent in the past 15 years.

    A question back to you: all the stuff you included in your email, above "What I am uncertain of" - did you find that information somewhere else? Or did you take Vincent's article and reframe it? It was a real pain in the butt to take your table and convert it to HTML (and it's way too much work to go back into it and try to make it look nicer), so I hope nobody will ever send me any tables in email format again.

    As for the questions you asked, I can answer only the first one. About 3/5 down the page, it says "Winning = 100 point (Base)." If I've misread your question and that doesn't answer your precise question, then I'm sorry. And I'm sorry that I cannot answer any of your other questions.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 26, 2018


    Looking for a list of all updates, part 4

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Friday, January 26, 2018 2:18 PM
    >Subject: Re: Hello Again.....
    >Perfect! Exactly what I would have said too!
    >Have a great weekend
    >Barney

    Cool!


    Looking for a list of all updates, part 3

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Friday, January 26, 2018 10:12 AM
    >Subject: Hello Again.....
    >If I have exhausted my allowable list of questions for the week, let me know, and I will write again on Monday! :-) If not, here is a question for Rule 95e (from Page 3 of your Errata file). Player A discards and misnames the tile. No one initially sees this. Player C has already picked and racked. Player B now realizes Player A’s misnaming and see that the tile actually discarded is her Mah Jongg tile. Rule 95e says the game cannot continue. OK. I understand that. But at what point is Player B just “too late” and simply is not entitled to the win? For example, what if Player C had picked, racked and discarded, or picked, racked and did a Joker exchange, etc. I believe at some point we have to say Player B is just too late. After all, if we don’t spell out something, Player D can go, and then Player A again, etc. and it would be impossible to recreate the event associated with the misnamed discard.
    >THX Tom!
    >Barney

    Hi, Barney.
    You're asking about this from the errata:

      P. 61 - Add rule 95.e.: If the misnamed tile was wanted for mah-jongg, but the error was not noticed until after the next player in turn had already picked and racked, closing the window of opportunity on the misnamed discard, the game cannot continue. The claimant wins, and the misnamer must pay four times the value of the hand to the player who wanted the tile for mah-jongg. No other players need pay. Deal and play the next hand.

    This is also in FAQ 19-AY:

      Q4: What if the misnamed tile was wanted for mah-jongg, but the error was not noticed until after the next player in turn had already picked and racked, closing the window of opportunity on the misnamed discard?
      A4: Once the misnamed discard has been covered by a subsequent discard, it is too late for anyone to claim the misnamed discard. A player who realizes that she has missed the chance to call her mahj tile should not reveal this fact to the other players. If she does blurt that information, she's alerting the other players to what she needs. It is every player's responsibility to keep her eyes open, not only her ears.

    You're asking "at what point is Player B just too late?" The answer is clear: once Player C has picked AND DISCARDED. If Player C has picked and racked, it's not too late. But once Player C goes on to the next thing (discarding), the line has been crossed. Player B should have kept her eyes open. The erratum in rule 95.e. draws the line at picking and racking.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 26, 2018


    Looking for a list of all updates, part 2

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2018 1:24 PM
    >Subject: Promise!! My Last question about your Errata file.
    >Let me start by saying…..I LOVED THE FILE. My plan is to take your 12 page document and update your book with a pen. Maybe someday you will (hopefully) publish a new book. I’d be one of the first to buy it! :-)
    >OK, my final question. Does your Errata document have the most current version of any ruling? For example. The bulletins seem to talk about “calling oneself dead” in almost every year!!! Your document (page 4) contains the League’s position from the bulletin of 2005, yet multiple bulletins after 2005 spoke about this. [I am only using this one as an example.] Even the most current bulletin spoke of this again, and this time they have gone back to “should not” as opposed to “may not”. So I would assume the 2018 bulletin trumps all the previous ones.
    >Do I have this right?
    >THX Tom!
    >Cheers
    >Barney

    Hi, Barney.
    I guess what you're mainly referring to is this:

      P. 64 - Rule 105. Change "should not call herself dead" to "may not call herself dead" (see 2005 NMJL bulletin).

    I missed that fine distinction in the 2018 newsletter. I've updated the errata. Let me know if you find any others.
    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 25, 2018


    Looking for a list of all updates to The Red Dragon & The West Wind

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 1:38 PM
    >Subject: Hello Tom.
    >Happy New Year…I hope this email finds you well.
    >Just wondering. Other than just finding them one at a time (and randomly), is there a list of all items in your RDWW that have been “updated” based on rulings from the League? I saw one today on your site (once you place a discarded tile on top of your rack, you can’t change your mind) and it has me wondering how many other such “updates” are out there. If a consolidated list exists somewhere I would love to see it.
    >THX so much
    >Barney

    >From: Barney G
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 1:52 PM
    >Subject: Re: Hello Tom.
    >UPDATE: If the “errata” file on your website answers my question below, you can ignore my email. Until 5 mins ago, I did not know about this file.
    >Thanks!
    >Barney

    Okay, Barney, but mind you - I have not yet seen the 2018 edition of Mah Jongg Made Easy. There may be more updates to the errata after I have time to see if there's anything new in this edition.
    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, 2018


    Want personalized tiles, not from Singapore

    >From: j m <jahhn
    >Sent: Monday, January 22, 2018 12:14 PM
    >Subject: Random Mahjong question
    >Hi, please excuse the random note! But I thought you might be my best hope!
    >I'm in need of some personalized mahjong tiles as part of a memento gift. Do you happen to have a referral for a company/person who does this? Or do you know someone else who might be worth contacting who MAY have an answer? I've found this manufacturer on the internet:
    >http://www.clikclok.com.sg/ hom-personalized-white- mahjong-with-coating
    >They are based in Singapore, and I don't think they sell to the USA, but this is along the line of the product I'm looking for.
    >Thank you!
    >John

    Hi, John!
    Tile engravers are listed in FAQ seven oh (the "Cleaning and Restoring" FAQ). You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the [personalized] tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 22, 2018


    Parts for my Jansui

    >From: "dexterleephotography
    >Sent: Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:46 PM
    >Subject: Automatic mahjong part
    >Good day,
    > I have recently read your post about repairing your jansui table where you replaced the TT sheet. I am now on the same problem and would like to ask for your help if you know where to get a TT sheet or is there a way to create one d.i.y. style? I attached a photo of the part for refference. Thank you so much

    Hi, Dexter.
    Sorry to say, I can't help you. At that time, I had Japanese friends help me with the ordering and shipping. It was a hassle for them, and I can't ask them to help someone else. That was 12 years ago, and I don't even have that machine anymore. Replacing the TT sheet made it work for a while, but I wasn't constantly using it. The machine also needed new tiles, and you may find that your old tiles have lost their magnetic strength.
    I'm sorry I can't be more help.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 22, 2018


    Calling: the steps

    >From: Debbie B
    >Sent: Friday, January 19, 2018 8:41 AM
    >Subject: Proper way to call a tile for exposure
    >tom,
    >I know there have been many discussions on who gets a discarded tile. My question is about the proper order for calling a tile for exposure. In my group most of us will call for the tile, expose from our hand and then add the discarded tile.
    >We had a discussion that there is a new rule that states you must take the discarded tile and place it on your rack and then expose. This will eliminate the question of who gets the tile if 2 people want it. Basically the quickest person wins the discard.
    >Am I correct in this assumption and any comments you can make on this subject would be greatly appreciated?
    >Thank You
    >Debbie B

    Hi, Debbie!

    You say this is a new rule? It's not in the 2018 bulletin. Are you saying it's a new rule in the just-released revision of the League's official rulebook?


    The official rulebook, and a newsletter/bulletin.
    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription
    to the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    I just learned this morning that there is a 2018 revision of the official rulebook, and this morning I ordered a copy. So I haven't yet read the 2018 rulebook. If this is a new rule, I won't know until the rulebook arrives in my mailbox.

    I have never seen a rule in writing saying that it's important in what order the steps of exposing occur. I've seen it done three different ways, and although I used to object when someone would take the picked tile into the hand prior to exposing the completed set (that one was expressly permitted by the League not long ago), I never had a problem with either exposing the set first or racking the tile first.

    Although actually I had a problem with another ruling from the League, the rule that says that a player making an exposure trumps any other player speaking a claim for the discard. That rule opened the door for aggressive behavior, slam-exposing, to shut out any other claims for a discard. If it is true that there is a new rule saying you first have to rack the taken tile (atop the rack, not on the sloping front), then I like that it shuts out slam-exposing.

    So I support the idea of this, and I hope that it really is a rule now. Will find out when my new rulebook comes!
    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 19, 2018


    What is the best rule book?

    >From: Shelley
    >Sent: Friday, January 19, 2018 7:42 AM
    >Subject: American mahj rule book
    >Hi Tom,
    >I ordered the mahj made easy (I believe that is what it is called) from the National Mah jongg league, it was expensive and useless.
    >What would you suggest is the best rule book, that covers almost every scenario?
    >Thanks for your advise.
    >Shelley

    Hi, Shelley!
    You're talking about the discussion on "Mah Jongg, That's It!" on Facebook today. The only official rule book is the NMJL's 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 disagree that it's "useless," and $10.95 is not what I would call "expensive." Remember, the NMJL is a non-profit, which means any profits they make go to charity. Mind you, I'm just a League member, not an employee. And I wrote my own rulebook (which I'll discuss in a moment), but when you need an official rule, Mah Jongg Made Easy always has to be the first place you check. I said to Larry Unger, after he became the League's president, that the official rulebook was full of holes that needed filling in (sounds like a Beatles song, "4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire," but now I'm getting silly). I was thrilled to learn (albeit a couple years late) that there had been a 2013 update, and from today's thread on Facebook, I learned that there's a 2018 update. I ordered it immediately. I applaud the leaguership for finally clarifying in print a lot of those things that have previously been covered (in print, publicly available) only in yearly bulletins / newsletters.


    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    My book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, was written based on 20 years of NMJL newsletters, together with the official rulebook, and my knowledge and playing experience of not only American mah-jongg but also Chinese and Japanese mah-jongg (which share more in common with American mahj than one might think). Because I saw all the holes in Mah Jongg Made Easy, and I was able to fill a bunch of them thanks to my newsletter collection, The Red Dragon & The West Wind is probably what you're looking for. But as Bee Germain pointed out on Facebook, you do want to download and print the errata since some corrections are needed since the book was printed 11 years ago.

    There are very few other books describing American mah-jongg (see FAQ 3), and none of the others come as close to filling the need for a rulebook.

    To my readers: sorry this post reads so advertisingly.
    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 19, 2018


    Mahj declaration with joker in an illegal place

    >From: wendy b
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 3:20 PM
    >Subject: mahjong question
    >Hi Tom,
    >My group played today and had a question. A player called mahjong on a 2017 hand with dragons. When she called mahjong and exposed her hand on the rack she knowingly used a joker in the 2017 but she did have 4 soaps(using them as dragons).She didn’t remember that 2017 was considered singles so thought it was ok to use the joker. We said it was wrong and she wanted to just switch the placement of tiles on her exposure, changing the soap for the wrong placed joker. We said it was a bad mahjong. Who is right?
    >Thank you!

    Hi, Wendy!
    Sorry for the delay in replying. I just now found your question in my spam folder. Anyway, as to your question: I would have allowed her to move the joker over to the kong -- ASSUMING that she hadn't exposed the jokerless kong of soaps prior to declaring mah-jongg.
    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 19, 2018


    Know of anyone that can duplicate a tile?

    >From: "jkcowgal
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 3:55 AM
    >Subject: tile engraving
    >Hi Tom,
    > Do you know of anyone that can duplicate a tile. I have several Bone & Bamboo & Bakelite that I need to match.
    > Thanks, in advance.
    >Joyce

    Hi, Joyce. Check the engravers and restorers in FAQ 7-o. Also see the Tiles For Sale bulletin board.
    May the tiles be with you. Literally.
    Tom Sloper

    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 17, 2018


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Saturday, January 13, 2018 2:23 PM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $4.36 USD from greg s
    >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
    >/Note
    >Total amount: $4.36 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: greg s
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Greg!
    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, 2018


    Do players have to wait for all their tiles before looking at them?

    >From: Ione & John
    >Sent: Saturday, January 13, 2018 7:27 AM
    >Subject: MJ
    >Is it recommended (or a rule) to wait till the tiles are passed to each player before starting to put on your rack?
    >Thanks,
    >Ione

    Hi, Ione. Great question!
    Open your rulebook. If this was a rule, it would be in there.


    This is the League's official rulebook, v2013.
    Every table should have an up-to-date copy!

    But it isn't. So it's not a rule. However, what you DO see in the rulebook is this: "Should any player's hand contain the wrong number of tiles before the Charleston, the tiles are thrown in and the wall is broken again." (Rule 9 on page 18.) The import is that a messup in the Charleston means having to rebuild the wall. Why do I bring that up? Because if you start looking at your tiles during the Charleston, 2 things happen:
    1. You slow down the Charleston. Anything that slows the Charleston increases the chances of an error in the complicated dance.
    2. You can easily lose count of your own tiles. The usual error is to forget to take the 13th tile from the wall (especially player 4. Rule 9 on page 18 even describes an exception to the quote above - player 4 is permitted to take her 13th tile up until the dealer discards post-Charleston, but after that, if she hasn't taken her last tile, she'll be dead per rule 10).
    3. (I lied about the 2 things) If you're paying attention to looking at and sorting your tiles, you can easily lose track of the Charleston, unless you're a really fast tile counter and/or an outstandingly excellent multitasker.

    So what I teach my students is to place each foursome cube (a stack pair from the deal) on one pane of the NMJL card. Once you have three foursome cubes, one on each pane, you need to pick your 13th tile (dealer: "one and three") from the wall.

    The player to dealer's left can't take her 13th until the dealer has taken her one and three, so she's going to nudge the dealer to get with it. And so on. If player 4 can't do anything because she hasn't taken her 13th yet, she'll remember to take her 13th tile. But if player 4 is sorting her tiles, and people start passing tiles to one another, she could well totally forget to take her 13th tile. That's why waiting is recommended. That does not mean it's a 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
    January 13, 2018


    They said I have to put the taken discard into, not onto, my rack

    >From: Leslie
    >Sent: Monday, January 8, 2018 10:04 AM
    >Subject: question
    >Tom:
    >I played yesterday and I called a discarded tile for Mah Jongg. I put the tile on top of my rack and added my tiles to it to show the group. 2 of the girls jumped on me and said that I should have put the discarded tile in my rank and the then turned up all the tiles together to show my hand. They said it is in the rules. I never heard of this but I could be wrong. Does it matter if you put the discarded tile in your hand first or put the discarded tile up on the rank. I hope you understand this.
    >Thanks,
    >Leslie K

    That's weird, Leslie. They say you MUST put the taken discard into your rack? The odd thing is, there was a time I taught my students that they'd be dead if they put the taken discard among their concealed tiles! Because that was a common tournament rule. But then the League said that it was permitted. Something may be "permissible" without being "required." Your friends are wrong - there is absolutely nothing in the official rulebook saying it's a requirement to put a taken discard among your concealed tiles prior to revealing the winning hand. I should know: I've read the official rulebook (more than once). Does anyone in your group even have a copy of the League's rulebook? Anyway, read FAQ19K. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 8, 2018


    She won by joker redemption - but was it legal?

    >From: Macia A
    >Sent: Monday, January 8, 2018 7:57 AM
    >Subject: Rules question, not on FAQ
    >Love your site and book, Tom, and appreciate the invaluable tools!
    >A question recently came up in a game regarding joker exchange that I cannot find addressed on your site. A player called a tile for Mah Jongg, then completed her Mahj hand by exchanging tiles from her rack for jokers from her own exposures.
    >One player argued that she could not do that, because you cannot call for an exposure or for Mahj without already having needed jokers in your hand. The player who made the maneuver reasoned that since the natural tiles came from her own rack and were exchanged from her own exposures, those jokers were actually already in her hand. We agreed that her strategy was clever, as it kept confidential that she had those jokers in her hand. We accepted the Mahj for the win, though wonder what the official rule would be for this situation?
    >Macia A
    >Wausau, WI

    Hi, Macia!
    Well, it depends on what she did with the called discard. Here's how it's supposed to go, and if this isn't what she did, then it probably isn't legal (you didn't give me enough detail):
    She has to say "I'll take that" (not mah-jongg, for reasons you'll see). But it's (technically) a technicality.
    Then she has to make a complete exposure of the one set that's completed by the discard. (If she can't do this, then the whole play is illegal.)
    After she's made the complete exposure of the set, then she can redeem as many jokers as she wants (as per FAQ 19-M).
    Once the whole hand is up, she declares mah-jongg. And because she completed the hand by means of joker redemption, it's regarded self-pick, and everyone pays her double (as per FAQ 19-AN)
    If she did it that way, then you all did it just right! But if she didn't do step 2 properly, then it was a bad mah-jongg. But since you all paid her, she doesn't have to give money back.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 8, 2018


    What does the word Mah jongg mean?

    >From: Lilly L
    >Sent: Monday, January 8, 2018 5:59 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What does the word Mah jongg mean?
    >Lilly

    Hi, Lilly!
    The original name, ma què 麻雀, means "hemp-colored bird" or in other words, "sparrow." The name comes from the sound made by bone-and-bamboo tiles being shuffled. The high-pitched clicking can sound a bit like sparrows squabbling over thrown bread crumbs.
    As for the name used in China today, ma jiang 麻将, I'm not sure it really means anything meaningful. It's just writing that emulates the sound of "mah jong."
    You may notice that "ma què" doesn't sound like "mah-jongg" at all. We have Joseph P. Babcock to thank for that. He decided to name the game "mah-jongg" when he introduced the game to the West. No particular reason that I know of, other than "it sounds Chinese-y."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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 8, 2018


    2P Japanese

    >From: M Z
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 3:25 PM
    >Subject: FAQ 13C
    >Hi! I have a riichi mahjong set and at the moment I am learning the rules of japanese riichi mahjong. Sadly at the moment I have only ONE other person to play with, so I searched some variants of riichi for 2 players. I found the minefield version but I wanted a version that is closer to the original style of play.
    >On your webpage under "FAQ 13C" it is said:
    >"A Japanese couple I know, both professional and international players, play a 4-handed game with 2 people. One person plays 2 hands (like playing 2 Bingo cards at once). Their rule is that one hand is not permitted to feed the other, so they can only claim discards from the other person."
    >This statement sounds interesting and I would like to try this variant. I would like to have some additional info. So each player play 2 hands separately? (In my screenshot/constellation I marked Player 1a-East, Player 2a-South, Player 2b-West, Player 1b-North) Is the play order P1a->P2a-> P2b->P1b? Or how exactly is this handled? Do P1a(East)+P1b(North) play at the same time but with separated tiles? Do I for example draw for P1a and P1b and then select and discard my 2 discard-tiles simultaneously? Player 2 should now be able to call "Ron!", "Pon!" or "Kan!" with any of his hands (2a OR 2b). But how is it with calling "Chii!" on a tile from P1a-East OR P1b-North? In the regular game any player only can call "Chii" on the discard tile of the LEFT player.
    >So here I would transfer it likewise, right?: In this constellation only P2a CAN "Chii!" on any tiles from P1a. And P1b can only "Chii!" on any tiles from P2b.
    >How exactly is the scoring, have you perhaps some examples? Because in fact we have only 2 players.... Rotating the seat winds is also like in 4 player game? Bonus for Oya?
    >TIA
    >Best regards,
    >Zenon

    Greetings, Zenon. You wrote:

    I would like to try this variant. I would like to have some additional info.
    I don't really have any additional info, but let's see if I can be of help...

    I found the minefield version
    I confess: I don't know what that is.

    (In my screenshot/constellation I marked Player 1a-East, Player 2a-South, Player 2b-West, Player 1b-North) Is the play order P1a->P2a-> P2b->P1b? Or how exactly is this handled?
    I imagine players should alternate turns (meaning each player should play opposite seats - so I play EW, you play NS, etc.). Isn't that logical?

    But how is it with calling "Chii!" on a tile from P1a-East OR P1b-North? In the regular game any player only can call "Chii" on the discard tile of the LEFT player.
    Quote: "Their rule is that one hand is not permitted to feed the other, so they can only claim discards from the other person." That goes for pungs, chows, and mah-jongg.

    How exactly is the scoring, have you perhaps some examples?
    I do not. I put everything I know into the FAQ.

    Because in fact we have only 2 players.... Rotating the seat winds is also like in 4 player game? Bonus for Oya?
    You should decide those questions for yourself.

    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, 2018


    She picked out of turn, discarded, and someone called her discard

    >From: Marjorie G
    >Sent: Thursday, January 4, 2018 12:22 PM
    >Subject: Happy New Year!
    >Dear Tom,
    >I hope that this communication finds you warm and well! I reviewed the FAQ and did not come up with answer to my question, although I may have missed it.
    >My question is as follows: When a player accidentally picks a tile and it is not their turn, they see the tile, and then another player states it was not your turn. Then the player who picked the tile discards that tile.
    >Another player calls that discarded tile. The group insists that because the player went out of order of their turn to pick, that the tile cannot be called.
    >Is that in fact correct?
    >Thank you in advance for your clarification of this question .
    >Gratefully,
    >Margie G

    Hi, Marjorie! What fun: somebody made a mistake, and a brouhaha ensued...

    When a player accidentally picks a tile and it is not their turn, they see the tile, and then another player states it was not your turn. Then the player who picked the tile discards that tile.
    No! She can't discard it. She has to put it back on the wall. Since she discarded it, she's dead. She played out of turn, and that is strictly forbidden.

    Another player calls that discarded tile.
    See? This is why she should have just put it back.

    The group insists that because the player went out of order of their turn to pick, that the tile cannot be called.
    Wrong. That would be totally unfair to the player who wants that tile. See FAQ 9, Philosophy 2. The only person who deserves getting some sort of penalty, if anyone, is the person who made the mistake.
    Since a grievous error has been committed, and the erring player has been declared dead, the player who wants the discard should be permitted to take it for exposure. Good thing for the erring player that the declarer didn't want it for mah-jongg -- the erring player would have to pay for everyone.

    Is that in fact correct?
    The League has not, as far as I know*, issued a ruling on this precise error (player picks out of turn and discards and someone calls the discard). So I'm just telling you what I think should happen, based on my years of interpreting NMJL rules and the rules of other forms of mah-jongg internationally.
    * (I don't have time now to scour through 20 years of NMJL newsletters in my library to see if this is covered there - I can only say that it is not in the rulebook, not in my book, and not in my FAQs.)
    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, 2018


    Taoist mah-jongg, part 4

    >>From: Jeff G
    >>Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 2:43 PM
    >>Subject: Tao Mah Jong
    >>Hi Tom ...
    >>One thing that I forgot to make clear. Everyone scores points regardless of whether they Mahjonged or not. The "winner" is the person who scores the most points ... even if that person never Mahjonged. That's one of the things that people like about this game. A second thing is that a blank tile or Joker can be used to indicate a Gold Dragon.
    >>Thanks ... Jeff

    Okay, thanks, Jeff. That clears things up. The fact that everyone scores ought to be written down in your rules. I don't think we've solved the question about the 5 points for "Hop Toi or wall Mah Jong" in your score sheet. How does one earn those 5 points? Also, I had another thought about which tile should be removed from your Harvest "suit" to ensure that it's the same size as the other suits... what I suggested before was that you could do ones and nines and fives in all suits, but you could also do 3D 5C 7B, which also forms a pleasing pattern (albeit one that would be harder for newbies to remember).
    Oh, and by the way, "honor tiles" are only winds and dragons. Flowers/seasons are not honor tiles. See FAQ 6.

    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, 2018


    Taoist mah-jongg, part 3

    >From: Jeff G
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 6:24 AM
    >Subject: Tao Mah Jong
    >Hi Tom ... Thank you SO MUCH for your detailed analysis. It's really helping me get focused. I've attached a document that shows my responses to your questions.
    >Jeff

    >Questions and answers for bulletin board.docx
    >My “teacher” said she learned these rules from a Chinese woman 20 or 30 years ago and that this is her “recollection”. So, I’m not sure whether she got these rules then or she’s trying to recreate them. Or they are mostly for her to teach us “newbies”. The “additional document” that I sent you is what I’m trying to create to make her rules easier to understand and to help us see any inconsistencies or unanswered questions before she leaves town. My goal is to develop a document that explains this weird variant since it doesn’t seem to be documented ANYWHERE else.
    >She’s “not departed yet”. Her house is on the market.
    >1. Neither my “teacher” nor my wife and I have found a set with a Gold Dragon. Our teacher bought a set of colored beads and put a gold bead on a blank tile. She then put red, green, white beads on the other dragons for consistency. I’m planning on doing the same.
    >3. You’re correct that they stand for Revealed/Concealed and for Player/Dealer. As an example of how to use the P/D column, let’s say South dealt and you are East and you have a concealed Bamboo Pung. Then, in addition to the 12 points, you get to add 4 points (total of 16) because you are the Player with that suit. But let’s say you have a concealed Character Pung. Then you get to add 4 points because you have the Dealer’s suit (total of 16). But let’s say you (East) are also the dealer and you have a concealed Bamboo Pung. Then you get to add 8 points because you are BOTH the dealer (4 points) and the Player (4 points) for a total of 20 points.
    >4. Hmmm, you’re right (I’m so new to this). I’ve emailed her asking why 5c is in this.
    >5. Hop Toi isn’t a Mah Jong (although now that I look at the Score Sheet, it sure looks that way). It’s when dealing the tiles, one person gets 2 tiles from 1 wall and 2 tiles from the next. I’ll modify the Score Sheet to make that clearer.
    >6. I have NO idea! I’ll have to ask her. Maybe it’s when you go Mah Jong when taking a tile from the wall instead of from a discard or from a Steal.
    >7. I’m so new to this that I’ve been reluctant to change anything she’s given us. But one of my goals is to make sure I make the documents clear, concise, and consistent. So, I’ll change the word Tray to Rack and I’ll also deal with any other inconsistencies you see.
    >8. Yes, it should say something like “without any discard when going Mahjong” or “without any discard at the time of going Mahjong”. Or if you have better wording, I’d love to hear it.
    >9. I wonder if she was just trying to help us newbies find our seating positions. I also see no reason for the specific color of racks. My guess it was just based on the colors in her 2 sets. I’ll remove that from the rules unless she gives me a better answer.
    >10. When we were learning, people were freaked out by not everyone having the same size wall. They wanted their walls to be the exact size of their rack. In reality, the player who was fastest in putting up their wall usually had the longest wall while the slowest player had the shortest wall. I’ll reword that to say something like “the size of the wall is fairly unimportant as long as it fits in your rack”. Again, if you have better wording, I’d love to hear it.
    >11. SAWS comes from (the first letter of) Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring. It also means one of each Flower or Activity depending on your set. I’ll add a notation somewhere that the normal term in Asian Mahjong is “bouquet”.
    >12.(a) Yes, you are correct. I’ve asked this question multiple times in different ways just to make sure I understand it.
    >12.(b) No, I don’t think you’re correct. My understanding is that if you have NNEW (you have a Pair (NN) plus 3 of the NEWS (NEW) and 3 is a Pung. Hence the term Pung-Pair. Does this make more sense to you or less sense. If it makes less sense, I’ll follow up with her.
    >13.(a) No, I was completely wrong on that.
    >13.(b) It would help me to understand why you don’t like the term. In general, it’s used to replace Seasons/Flowers. Maybe “the Bouquet Wall” would be a better term.
    >14. We separate it out, put it to the side of the dealer and then do what she calls “Blooming the Flower Wall”. That means, we combine the first 2 stacks (to make 1 stack 4 tiles high) at the front of the Flower Wall to make it clear that it’s the flower wall and which side to take replacement tiles from. When it gets down to 2 tiles in the “Bloom”, we “Rebloom” it.
    >15.(a) Only once have we rolled the dice and gotten a number less than 4.At that time, we just agreed to roll the dice again for a higher number. I probably should note that somewhere.
    >15.(b) I don’t think any of us have used Kong Replacements (or maybe it was done when I wasn’t there). Are you referring to “Rules on How to Play > 7 Calling for the discarded Tile > g No player may call to complete a Kong > 2b. If so, it doesn’t seem like it’s optional, but is just part of the game and I just haven’t realized it. This opens up additional possibilities of running out of tiles in the Flower Wall. So, I guess we’d need to document a way to deal with that.
    >16. We haven’t had this occur yet. We’ve always had a Mahjong before that point. But I would say you’re correct. So, I guess we’d need to document a way to deal with that.
    >17. We haven’t had this occur yet. We’ve always had a Mahjong before that point. So, I guess we’d need to document a way to deal with that.

    >From: Jeff G
    >Sent: Wednesday, January 3, 2018 8:18 AM
    >Subject: Re: Tao Mah Jong
    >Hi Tom ... Below (in blue) is an update from my teacher on the Harvest ... I'd appreciate your input on what you think makes the most sense for our "official rules".
    >Thanks ... Jeff
    >
    >The Harvest Tiles are usually under the discretion of the group or "house rules":
    >The Harvest should have an equal representation from all three (3) suits....but again, as my teacher said, this is at the discretion of the group.
    >*******In the past, I have found that the group remembers the Harvest as being all 1's, 9's and three colors.
    >Of course, the disadvantage of that is, the suit of Characters only has two (2) tiles represented 1c and 9c..
    >Thus, that is why 5c is sometimes added into the Harvest.

    Good morning, Jeff.
    Nobody makes Gold Dragons, then - players have to craft their own. One possible reason why this variant hasn't caught on and been written about anywhere.
    So the "P" stands for "player whose season matches the seasonal element shown by the winner"? The term used in all other forms is "seat wind." For example, if you're South and you have a pung of Souths, that adds to your score. One thing you didn't mention - you have to be the winner to score this, right? You don't get points for a pung of bams if you aren't the winner, right? (I don't recall anywhere in what I read yesterday anything that says whether non-winners score points, or only winners score points.)
    I knew what Hop Toi was, but I was confused to see it in a score list that I assumed applied only to winners. Are you saying that whoever does a Hop Toi during the deal scores points, whether he or she wins or not?
    In American mah-jongg, many players use the term "wall game" to mean a game that nobody wins (all the tiles from the wall were used up, and nobody made mah-jongg). And some players use a table rule in which players throw a coin into a kitty or pot or pischke, to be collected by the next winner.
    The customary wording for this is "win by self-pick." You should change it. Your teacher's wording shouldn't be preserved as if the words came down from God - you should work to make the wording communicate concepts clearly instead.
    It's customary, when using a set divisible by 8, for every player to have equal-length walls. The racks are 18 stacks long because the Chinese manufacturers set that standard before the National Mah Jongg League in NYC decided to mess with the number of tiles. Many American (NMJL) players share your group's dislike of the fact that rack length and wall length don't match up, and create an extra "tail" with all extra tiles. That tail gets used in the deal, creating not one Hop Toi opportunity but two.
    I knew what SAWS meant; it was obvious. The acronym SAWS only applies logically to sets with flower tiles marked with season names, either in Chinese (see FAQ 7E) or English. The term Bouquet applies universally, since most people call all these bonus tiles (personages, flowers, seasons, buildings, boats, animals) "flowers." You can use the term "SAWS (Bouquet)" and that should be fine.
    I was just going by the wording of the rule you sent me. The wording of the rule states only that you can claim a discarded tile to complete the pung portion of the pung-pair. It does not explicitly say that you can claim a discarded tile to complete the pair portion of the pung-pair. If I was sitting with NEWS and somebody discarded S, can I claim it to create the pung-pair or not? I'm surprised nobody in your group has ever asked. Seems to me like it would be a frequent beginner question.
    I'm just saying that the term "flower wall" has connotations. The connotation (what a novice might assume based on the name) is that it is the only place where flower/SAWS replacements may be taken, and that it ought to be sufficiently long for all possible flower replacements to be taken from. My objection is based on how the "kong box" works in A.D. Millington's "Chinese Classical" rules and how the back end of the wall works in Japanese riichi/dora majan. Calling it "bouquet wall" does not solve that beginner confusion.
    Yes, that's standard practice in other variants as well.
    I don't remember the precise line item I was referring to yesterday. The wording seemed to indicate that forming a kong (thus necessitating a kong replacement) was at the player's discretion (you could either create the kong and take the replacement, or do something else with that tile). That is in keeping with other forms; for instance, in Japanese majan there can be a scoring/risk disadvantage to forming the kong (it's a little complicated - don't ask). Anyway, yes - you do need to tell your players where kong replacements may be taken from. Either the back end of the wall (which is the back end of the flower wall) or from the back end of the wall before the flower wall starts - depending on the rules governing flower walls.
    I'm guessing that the reason why you never have games that nobody wins is because your Taoist rules make it easy to win. Those "pung-pair" thingies especially seem easy to make (I assume people make those a lot). And that "stealing" feature totally nerfs the difficulty (sorry, that's a videogame term that fits the sentence perfectly).
    You do need to specify situations that haven't happened to your group yet. Is the flower wall untouchable by anything other than flower replacements? If so, then "flower wall" is a highly appropriate name - but it should be exactly 8 tiles (4 stacks), even if less than 4 is rolled by the dealer (if dealer rolls 3, then break at 3 and also grab 1 stack from the South player's wall).

    As for your teacher's comments on the Harvest "suit" - she says the tiles in that suit should come evenly from the other 3 suits.
    - Ones and nines and one other tile per suit would do that perfectly.
    - But having 3D and 5D screws that up. There should be only one other number besides ones and nines in each suit, for symmetry.
    - 5C isn't a 3-color tile, but it makes sense to designate the 5 since that's smack dab in the middle between 1 and 9.
    - Then you'd have fives in two suits, and a seven in the third, again: not symmetrical. What the Japanese do is create "red fives" in every suit (see FAQ 7E and FAQ 25). If your Harvest suit was simply ones, fives, and nines in all three suits, that would seem to be most Taoist, but what do I 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, 2018


    Taoist mah-jongg, part 2

    >From: Jeff G
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 10:58 AM
    >Subject: Taoist Mahjong
    >148 tiles ... composed of
    >Suits – 108 - 4 each of 1 to 9 in 3 suits
    >Winds – 16 – 4 each wind NSEW
    >Dragons – 16 – 4 each Gold, Green, Red, White
    >Seasons/Flowers – 8 – 2 each Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
    >Each person gets 13 tiles. 14 are needed to Mahjong.
    >A Mahjong is reached when any person gets any combination of Pairs, Pungs, Chows, all 4 winds, all 4 dragons and NO extra concealed singletons.
    >I'm attaching the notes I've been given plus a "Cheat Sheet" that I've been putting together, plus a Score Pad. Also a little of the philosophy behind it. That's all in case you want to add anything about it onto your website. Or if it helps us to figure out what it's closest to.
    >Thanks ... Jeff
    >Word Document Taoist Mah Jong Yin-Yang.doc
    >Word Document Basic Mah Jong Rules.doc
    >Google Document Chinese Mah Jong Additional Notes…
    >Google Spreadsheet Basic Taoist Score Pad

    Thanks for the abundance of information, Jeff! It appears that your rules were made up by someone fairly recently. A system of Chinese symbolism and philosophy has been used to set the rules for this unique variant, and the variant was named "Taoist" accordingly. At this point, having perused the documents you graciously shared (and which are now ensconced at sloperama.com slash downlode slash mahjongg slash (I dislike broadcasting that undisguised URL)), I have some comments and also some questions:

    1. Your rules include a Gold Dragon. Somebody asked me about gold dragons once, but I can't find that conversation at the moment. Can you send me a photo of a Gold Dragon tile? And can you tell me where one can buy a mah-jongg set with gold dragons included? Where did you get yours? Or perhaps you just use Chinese jokers or American jokers as "gold dragons"?
    2. The "steal" rule is unique. Never saw that before in any other form of mah-jongg. Whoever created these rules had a rebellious side.
    3. In the score pad, I see the terms "R/C" and "P/D" - I take it "R/C" stands for "revealed or concealed." But what does "P/D" stand for? Player/Dealer? I don't get how to use this column. From the "additional notes" doc it appears that P/D does mean Player/Dealer, but I couldn't figure out how it's used.
    4. In keeping with the Taoist theme, the game's designer created a "fourth suit," called "Harvest," which consists of ones and nines and 5C, 7B, 3D, 5D (the latter 4 tiles chosen because they are "3 colors." But I don't see how 5C is a 3-color tile - I've never seen a 5C with green on it (unless the corner indicia are marked green, but then all craks would be 3 colors). By the way, this Harvest suit consists of 10 different tiles, making this suit larger than all the others, creating an un-Taoist imbalance.
    5. I assume a "Hop Toi" mah-jongg would occur when winning on the first tile from a fresh wall?
    6. What is a "wall mah-jongg"?
    7. There are some instances of confusing wording. For example, the term "tray" is used where I suppose the proper term would be "rack" (and "rack" is also used). I strongly suggest that only the word "rack" be used, since there are trays in most mah-jongg carrying cases, for storing tiles separately from racks.
    8. Another instance of confusing wording: in the Rules doc, it says the aim is to win "without any discard." That would seem to mean that one is never permitted to claim a discard, or that a player who has made exposures cannot win. But in reading the four documents, it appears that a player IS permitted to take discards. I recommend that the "aim" paragraph be reworded.
    9. As long as I'm speaking of racks: Be advised that only American sets come with racks, and not every American set has racks that are green, yellow, red, and blue. And is there any reason for assigning racks based on original seat position? I suppose that's another Taoist principle - but how would one adhere to this Taoist color principle if using an old American Bakelite set with differently colored racks? (Is it really necessary for rack color to be dictated in the rules?)
    10. Walls are 18 to 24 stacks long? When would a wall ever need to be longer than 19 stacks when using 148 tiles? Or does this mean all walls are created whatever length a player decides (just not to exceed 24)?
    11. SAWS apparently means "one of each season" - or it also means "one of each flower." The usual name for this in other forms of Asian mah-jongg is "bouquet."

      Some questions about the ESWN and GRGW "pung-pair" groupings:

    12. Special Kongs 1.a. and 1.b. seem to indicate that one cannot hold NEWS OR GRGW and then claim a discard that matches one of the four. (You are required to already have your pair.) Am I understanding correctly? I presume it's because this fivesome is regarded as a "pung" (it's not really a pung, of course) and a pair, and one is never permitted in any form of mah-jongg to expose a pair.
    13. From "additional notes" / "additional discoveries" - players have to announce when they have a "pung-pair" fully concealed in the hand? Are you sure? Any idea what justification or reason might exist to support this rule? No other form of mah-jongg dictates that a player must reveal information about some portion of his or her concealed tiles.

      And I have a lot of questions about the "flower wall," primarily based on calling it by that name (I guess I'm saying that the existence of the term "flower wall" opens the door for a lot of questions). I recommend it be called simply "the back end of the wall" to eliminate some beginner confusion.

    14. The flower wall is as long as whatever number is rolled by the dealer? If it's 2 stacks long or 12 stacks long, it's that part of the wall in front of the dealer, and it's just called "flower wall" - do I understand correctly?
    15. Since there are 8 flowers, if the flower wall is shorter than 4 stacks, don't players have to take flower replacements from the back end of the regular wall? I did note that kong replacements are also an optional feature of this game, and that kong replacements are taken from the flower wall.
    16. If the flower wall is considerably longer than 4 stacks, don't players have to draw tiles from the non-flower end of the flower wall eventually?
    17. Since the last 4 stacks on the wall are earmarked for flower replacements, and since taking flower replacements is optional, do players have to leave the final 4 stacks untouched, or do players play until the wall is exhausted?

    The remaining question is who designed this way of playing. Do you suppose it was your departed teacher? If you come up with questions about how certain things in your game ought to be governed, I might or might not be able to help. I don't want to touch your "pung-pair" thingy with a ten-foot pole (so don't ask me questions about how that ought to be governed), and some of your other special "Taoist" rules might be beyond what I can help you with. I can just tell you how other variants govern standard situations. Thanks again for sharing this!
    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 2, 2018


    Is she dead?

    >From: Star Fire
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 1:11 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mah Jongg
    >Hi Tom ...
    >I think I know the answer, but would like to make sure. The previous questions I found were about tiles discarded with "someone misreading" them. Player #1 actually read it correctly, Player #2 misheard her.
    >I found this:
    >A: 2. Calling a discard for an exposure. You can touch it or move it and change your mind. But once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (then you have crossed the line, and you may not backtrack - it's too late).
    >A 2-Dot was discarded, Player #2 thought she heard 2-Bam, and called for it. Exposed her other 2-Bams and took the 2-Dot. Realizing her mistake, she returned the wrong tile (2-Dot) to the table, returning her tiles (2-Bams) to her rack. Is she dead?
    >1). She didn't rack the discarded tile, just picked it up? Is she dead?
    >2). Would she be dead if she added the discarded tile to her group of 2-Bams, before noticing the error?
    >Thank you.
    >Judy

    It depends, Judy.
    1. Is she playing in a tournament, or with a group who uses a strict interpretation of the official rules? If yes, then yes, she's dead. But she's not permitted to return the 2D to the discard floor - she must put the illegal exposure among her concealed tiles on the sloping front of her rack.
    2. Is she playing with a group of friendly novices who often forgive one another for dumb errors? If yes, then the group can decide whether to let her "take back" the exposure and the call, or not.
    Note that the player in question erred seriously by picking up the 2D. She should have been LOOKING, not just listening, to the game. Typical beginner mistake that serious players don't make. A death penalty is not out of bounds for serious mistakes. Leaping without looking first can be fatal, in real life and in mah-jongg.
    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 2, 2018


    The legality of taking notes

    >From: Amy M
    >Sent: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 3:51 AM
    >Subject: American (NMJL) Mah Jongg question
    >Hi Tom,
    >I’m a big fan of your book and web site and recommend both to MJ newbies all the time. I have several copies of the book and hand them out or tell people to buy them when I’m teaching.
    >Someone (my sister) asked me this question recently and I didn’t know the answer. I looked in your FAQ’s but didn’t see it (excuse me if you already answered it). How would you respond to this question:
    > “Is it ok for a player to take notes during the game?”
    >This person wants to write about what’s been discarded, etc in her lap. It makes me uncomfortable and it’s distracting but I’m not sure it’s illegal. Do you know?
    >Thanks so much for your time and attention to this.
    >May the tiles be with you as well!
    >Sincerely,
    >Amy M
    >Acton, MA

    Hi, Amy! Thanks for the high praise. To respond to several of your points:

    “Is it ok for a player to take notes during the game?”
    I sure hope so -- I've done that myself!*

    I looked in ... your book... [and] your FAQ’s but didn’t see it...
    I hope you also checked the official NMJL rulebook? You say you teach, so you need not only my interpretation of the rules in your library, but also the official word. By the way, have you downloaded the errata for my book, so your information is all up to date?

    ... I’m not sure it’s illegal.
    Since you didn't find any mention of it in my book or my FAQs, and there is no mention of it in the official rulebook, that means there is no rule against it. That means this is not a matter of "legality," so that leaves only two possible realms: strategy and etiquette. This isn't a strategy issue (the player may be trying to develop a strategy based on her notes, and it's also possible to engage in activities intended to irritate, to psych out opponents, but that's not so much "strategy" as "tactics") - so this is, then, an etiquette issue.

    It makes me uncomfortable
    "Uncomfortable"!? That's a powerful word! (It's every man's nightmare when a woman says she's "uncomfortable." He can expect to get a call from Human Resources, maybe get fired or questioned by the police, when a woman says she's "uncomfortable.") Surely "uncomfortable" is too powerful a word for this situation, isn't it?

    and it’s distracting
    That I'll buy. Clearly we are, then, talking about an etiquette matter here.

    I assume your sister's friend is either collecting data or trying to improve her strategy. Of course she mustn't let her note-taking slow down the game in any way. Beyond that, the polite thing to do (I should be telling her this, not you**) is to say something to the group, like "I hope you all don't mind that I take notes. I'm writing a book on strategy, and there isn't a video camera watching over my shoulder, you see."

    * I took notes during world championships (Chinese rules). I wanted to record interesting hands so I'd have stuff I could write about in my column. I also took notes during friendly home games (American rules), for the same reason.

    ** The reason I say that is the etiquette misstep of pointing out someone else's etiquette missteps. (Example: It's rude to tell someone that he or she is rude -- and does not result in making that other person stop being rude anyway).

    So, the upshot: there is no rule governing note-taking during play. I would hope your sister's friend would clear her note-taking with the other players, and I would hope that she would come to that epiphany by herself.
    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 2, 2018


    Taoist Mah-Jongg

    >From: Jeff G
    >Sent: Monday, January 1, 2018 5:55 AM
    >Subject: Tao MahJong
    >Hi Tom ... I just started playing Tao Mahjong a couple of months ago. I know the "House Rules" FAQ. But the person who taught us is leaving the geographical area and I'll probably be taking over the group. I'm trying to find out what the rules are for those situations that we don't know yet. I've looked everywhere trying to find the rules for Taoist MahJong but can't find any books or websites that even mention it. Do you know where I can find out more about it or whether it has a different name that I can look up?
    >Thanks ... Jeff

    Sorry, Jeff, but I never heard of "Taoist" mah-jongg before. I'd love to know more. Since you've been playing it for 2 months, you may be able to tell me a few key details? Take a look at http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq02b.html#Details - think you can tell me how many tiles the Taoists use, whether flowers are used, how many tiles in the hand... stuff like that? Maybe you'll find that your Taoist is similar to one of the listed styles.
    And once I have a slight idea about how your variant is played, maybe I can help with those situations that you don't know yet.
    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
    New Year's Day, 2018


    Can two people play mah-jongg?

    >From: Nawal T
    >Sent: Saturday, December 30, 2017 9:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can two people play mah-jong?

    Yes. Read FAQ 13. You can link to the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    December 30, 2017


    What do you know about this box?

    >From: Laurence W
    >Sent: Friday, December 29, 2017 1:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What do you know about this box? No pieces.
    >Thank you for your time,
    >Laurence

    Not much, Laurence.
    It appears to be hand-carved. I can't read the weight on the scale the box is sitting on, so I don't know its weight. I don't know if it belongs to you or not (I don't want to assume too much). It looks very nice. ...That's all I know offhand.
    I might be able to help you with other questions, but I don't want to guess what those other questions might be. We'll waste less time if you come right out and ask me what you want to know. "Tell me anything" questions won't get you the answers you're looking for.
    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 29, 2017


    On stopping the Charleston

    >From: Louise B
    >Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2017 4:29 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sent from Mail for Windows 10
    >Although I’m pretty sure it’s not an official rule, I’ve been playing with a few groups in my development who say that after the first left pass, if they have a choice of two hands (6 tiles of one hand, 7 of another, say) that they should make a decision on which hand to play and NOT stop the Charleston instead of playing it safe by keeping both hands in tact. What are your feelings on this?
    >Lou

    Hi, Lou!
    I'm not sure what you're questioning. Rules are one thing, and strategy is another.

    Are you asking if it's an official rule that the Charleston must never be stopped if one has two hands?

    Are you asking if it's an official rule that the Charleston must never be stopped if one has two hands that are nearly equal?

    Are you asking if it's an official rule that if a player has two hands after the first left, that she must choose one (and not stop the Charleston) if she can't keep both options open?

    It isn't.
    It isn't.
    It isn't.

    Rules are one thing, and strategy is another. Any player is permitted to stop the dancing after the first Charleston (after the first left pass). That's the rule. I assume you know that. The player's decision whether or not to stop the Charleston is a matter of strategy, not rules. Your reason for stopping the Charleston cannot be governed by rules anyway - there's no way the other players could know why you're stopping it unless you tell them. If one's reason for stopping the Charleston was a matter of rules, it would be an unenforceable rule, since there's no way for players to know what's going on in each other's heads.

    All of which makes me wonder how you know that all these groups have these [rules?strategies?] in place. You aren't talking through your thought process while passing tiles in the Charleston, are you? "Hmm, should I stop the Charleston or not? Counting... okay, six tiles for that hand..." (and so on). Or do you say you want to stop the Charleston, and then they ask you why? I mean, if you're just quietly doing the Charleston, how are people even bringing up their "strategy rules" about stopping the Charleston?

    I can think of two reasons for "don't stop the Charleston" table rules: (1) to keep the game moving along quickly (because somebody takes too much time, slowing the Charleston down), and (2) the group has experienced somebody stopping the dance too often for their liking. Is either of those things happening?

    For more of my "feelings" about stopping the Charleston, see column 494.
    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 28, 2017


    Dead hand joker redemption, part 2 (Returning dead exposures, part 9)

    >From: Susan D
    >Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2017 7:09 AM
    >Subject: Re Valid Joker Exchanges
    >Yes, Tom. I think it would be very helpful if the comment about a dead concealed hand was edited. I have been playing less than two years and am trying to learn all that I can. I value your input. Thank you, Susan

    Okay, Susan. I probably should have done that (revised FAQ 19P) after the discussion with Bee and Bonnie and Harriett concluded, back in January 2016. Guess I was too hung up on a strict interpretation of the wording of rule 3(b), which I believe is at odds with the League's intent.
    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 28, 2017


    Dead hand joker redemption (Returning dead exposures, part 8)

    >From: Susan D
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 3:39 PM
    >Subject: Redeemable Jokers
    >Tom: Lately there has been a lot of discussion on Mah Jongg Thats IT! concerning redeeming jokers from a dead concealed hand. I thought I had it straight, but am confused with your comment that once a CONCEALED hand has been declared dead ALL tiles should be returned to the rack. What about exposures that were made prior to anyone realizing that the hand was indeed concealed. Let's say that I put up two 6 dots and a joker. It is clear that there are a lot of hands that I could be going for, and I may plan on going for FFFF 2 44 666 8888. Suppose that later on I decided to go for FF 222 444 666 888. Why isn't the joker with the 6 dots redeemable? Also, what if someone redeems the joker that was with the 6 dots when the person who made the exposure still planned on going for the hand with 4 flowers? We need clarification on this.According to some comments on Mah Jongg Thats It!, The NMJL disagrees with you.
    >I always look forward to your opinions
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan! Are we talking about what I wrote in FAQ 19P? (The entirety of this response is based on that assumption.) Is this the "comment" you're referring to? ...

      Exposed Concealed Hand - Upon death declaration due to exposing a hand that was supposed to be concealed, all tiles (including jokers) are returned to the rack. See rule 3(b), page 16, of the official rulebook.

    So let's take a look at rule 3(b). For ease of reading, I have numbered its three sentences:

      1. When a player declares Mah Jongg in error and has been playing an exposed hand, the Jokers which were in the correctly called exposure before the error, may be redeemed by any of the other players with a like tile, when it is their turn.
      2. However, at the point the hand becomes dead, the part of the hand that was in error is returned to [the sloping front of] the rack, and no Jokers may be redeemed by any of the other players.
      3. But a concealed hand that has been incorrectly exposed for a declaration of Mah Jongg must be returned to [the sloping front of] the rack, the errant declarer stops picking and discarding, and nothing can be redeemed from the concealed hand.

    My "Exposed Concealed Hand" description is based on the third sentence of rule 3(b). I got into a rather involved (7 parts!) discussion with Bee and Bonnie and Harriett in January 2016. See bulletinbd-archive37.htm#beebonnet. If you search the page for the phrase "returning dead," you'll find all 7 parts of the conversation and see how it transpired over several days. Readers' questions caused me to closely examine the wording of rule 3(b) and identify some clauses that are open to interpretation.

    By the time all 7 parts of that January 2016 conversation had run their course, I concluded that sentence 3 only applies to exposure of enough sets that indicate that the hand being made (and in the process of being exposed) is supposed to remain concealed. I concluded that, due to sentence 2 of rule 3(b), only the subsequent set(s) that unambiguously indicate a concealed hand need be returned to the sloping front of the rack.
    I concluded that sentence 2 of rule 3(b) should apply if a Concealed hand is partially exposed, with the first exposure being ambiguous. I do not believe the rule is intended to say that even ambiguous exposures should be returned to the sloping front of the rack when part of a Concealed hand.

    In the case of the example you've set forth, I agree with you that the pung of 6D should remain atop the rack, with its joker still available for redemption.

    I'm thinking I could probably edit FAQ 19P to clarify this. Would you agree?
    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 27, 2017


    Column 693

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 7:32 AM
    >Subject: column 693
    >Hi Tom,
    >I learned a valuable lesson today after doing #693. I completely overlooked other possible answers on several of your questions. Just shows me that however much I think I know the card, I shouldn't get too confident. Most of the answers I missed were on the hands I rarely play, like 2017 #1. I think I need to cure my lazy habit of only playing the hands I'm comfortable with. Thanks for a great quiz!
    >Linda

    \(^_^)/    That's what I was going for, 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
    December 27, 2017


    This set doesn't fit

    >From: Jackie Z
    >To: Tom@Sloperama
    >Cc: Marc Z
    >Sent: Sunday, December 24, 2017 10:44 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg set question
    >Hi Tom,
    >We inherited a MahJongg set from my mother-in-law that doesn't seem to fit any of types you describe in http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/types.htm, so I'm hoping you can shed some light on the matter.
    >It was bought in China, so I assumed it was Chinese, but it has American-style numbers and letters on the tiles. The tiles are bone-and-bamboo. It could be a 1920 Chinese set, but it was bought in the last 10 years, and it has 152 tiles (1"x3/4"x1/2"), 4 of which have rectangles on them, and 4 of which are blank. It also has counting sticks and dice(4) like a Japanese set! Plus 4 circular markers with wind symbols. It has no racks or circular disks with holes in them.
    >Here is a picture of the tiles and a little bit of the cloth-covered case they came in.
    >MahJongg set
    >It's never been used, so I'm guessing it's worth about $50 on ebay.
    >I'm interested in knowing how you would characterize the set and whether you think my assessment of it's value is accurate.
    >Thanks for your response,
    >Jackie
    >(\(\
    >(-.-)
    >(     )
    >(")(")

    Hi, Jackie and Marc!
    I found your email in my spam folder when I checked it this morning (a precaution I always take before emptying it). Thus the delay in replying.
    You have a bone-and-bamboo set, but it was made in the 1990s (or later) - not the 1920s. I mentioned such a set to Timothy A almost 4 weeks ago (on Dec. 1) - you can scroll down and see what we discussed about it at that time. Here's a photo of my set (you can see they're the same):

    You wrote:

    It was bought in China, so I assumed it was Chinese, but it has American-style numbers and letters on the tiles.
    It was made in China for export to other countries. It's a Chinese-style set, in that it doesn't have 8 jokers or racks. It can be converted to an American set by stickering the 4 blanks (and Americans would probably need the Chinese jokers to be stickered too). I have two such sets, and I stickered 8 jokers in one of them. (In my photo above, I show both the extra blanks and Chinese jokers of one set, with the stickered jokers of the other set.)

    Also, the bone is not the same kind of bone used in the 1920s. 1920s sets were made with cow shinbone. These 1990s sets are made of pulverized, bleached, reconstituted fishbone. See FAQ 7C. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    4 of which have rectangles on them
    Those are called "white dragons."

    and 4 of which are blank.
    As you might expect, most people call those "blanks," but some players use those as white dragons (you could use either the rectangle-design tiles OR the blank tiles as your white dragons).

    There's one oddity about the arrangement of the tiles in your photo - your jokers are in between the red dragons and the flowers (where the rectangle white dragons ought to be). If the cellophane is still wrapped around the tiles, that was done by the manufacturer. The manufacturer also apparently placed the #4 flowers in the wrong columns (the fish flower should be beneath the fisherman flower).

    You can read about the different dragon and flower designs in FAQ 7E.

    It's never been used, so I'm guessing it's worth about $50 on ebay.
    Those sets went for about $70 in the nineties. They're harder to find now, and if the case is still in like-new condition, I don't see why it would be worth anything less than $80 today. I don't think you should sell it for less than $90.

    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 27, 2017


    How do you do a 3-player Charleston?

    >From: Gayle Y
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 5:29 PM
    >Subject: Playing with the dummy in American Maj Jongg
    >To Tom,
    >How do you play with 3 players. We were told not to do the Charleston, but
    >do not understand how the player to the left, right or across gets rid of the three tiles. Does the dummy
    >build a hand ( 4, 4, 4, !) ?
    >Thank you.
    >Gayle

    Happy boxing day, Gayle. You wrote:

    How do you play with 3 players. We were told not to do the Charleston, but
    >do not understand how the player to the left, right or across gets rid of the three tiles.
    If you don't do a Charleston, then how does ANYBODY have 3 tiles to "get rid of"? Don't tell me... you are doing a Charleston ANYWAY, even though you're not supposed to? Harumph! Harumph, I say (tapping a foot and scowling).

    Just kidding. EVERYbody ignores the "don't do the Charleston" rule.

    Does the dummy
    >build a hand ( 4, 4, 4, !) ?
    Understand: the three-player Charleston is NOT supported by the official rules. That means there IS NO official way to do a 3-player Charleston!!! Everybody does it their own way, and nobody can tell them how they're "supposed to" do it (since they're not supposed to do it at all, as you yourself acknowledged).

    I have written about ways people do the three-player Charleston at the following places on my website:

  • Column 532
  • FAQ 13A

    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
    Boxing Day, 2017


    Column 693

    >From: Roni Y
    >Sent: Monday, December 25, 2017 6:15 PM
    >Subject: A mistake on column #693?
    >Hi Tom,
    >I think I may have found a mistake in column #693 on December 24.
    >For problem number 6 the answer says:
    >"6. Just two Quints hands possible: #1 and #2. Her hot tiles are winds, dragons, and twos in the other two suits."
    >But can't it also be Quint #3? FF 22222 33 44444
    >Thank you for your column, I enjoy it very much!
    >Roni Y

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Monday, December 25, 2017 6:17 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Roni Y
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Roni Y
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Roni Y
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Quite right, Roni!
    I was in so much haste to write that column amid my holiday preparations that I overlooked the parenthetical on that hand. Well aware that Quints #4 was "these nos. only," I blithely made an ad hoc assumption, forgetting momentarily that #3 was flexible. So yes, 3C 4C and F are also hot.
    And thanks for the donation!
    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 26, 2017


    I have just started learning Chinese, part 2

    >From: REBECCA E
    >Sent: Saturday, December 23, 2017 10:18 AM
    >Subject: Re: Chinese Mahjongg question
    >I apologize: when I asked about making a concealed kong into a pung, I meant making it into a chow.
    >The rule I read from Mahjongtime.com says:
    >"In addition, the Kong cannot be split once exposed. However, if a Kong is made from the existing hand, the player can conceal it from the others. The advantage of concealing a Kong is that the player can split the 4 tiles and use one tile to form a Chow if necessary. Whichever the case, the player then draws from the back end of the wall for a tile and discard as usual."
    >Does "existing hand" mean only what one gets in the first deal, or would it include drawing from the wall?
    >Also, if an additional tile is drawn from the back of the wall, but then later the kong turns to a chow, what is done about the extra tile?
    >Thank you for your help,
    >Becky

    Hi, Becky! You wrote:

    Does "existing hand" mean only what one gets in the first deal, or would it include drawing from the wall?
    I agree it could be worded better. What this means is when a player holds four identical tiles within one's concealed hand of fourteen tiles. Either it just happened and I drew the fourth from the wall, or I already had the four tiles in my hand. Either way, I've decided to use the four as a kong. I can meld (lay down) the four tiles, just as I do when making a pung - but because this is a kong, I can place them face down (some of them or all of them face down, depending on the rule in use). This is called a "concealed kong." For scoring purposes, the melding of the concealed kong does not disqualify the hand from being considered "concealed." However, because your turn is now ending, if you discard a tile, you'll have thirteen tiles - four of them on the table and the other nine in your concealed hand. You won't be able to make "four sets and a pair," because with just nine remaining tiles you could only make "three sets," or "two sets and two pairs." The kong being four tiles ruins your tile count, see? So you have to take an extra tile from the back end of the wall, and if it doesn't give you "four sets and a pair," you discard one of your tiles. Now technically you have fourteen tiles - but the kong counts as a set, and with the remaining ten tiles you can make "three sets and a pair" with a fifteenth tile from the wall or from someone's discard.

    if an additional tile is drawn from the back of the wall, but then later the kong turns to a chow, what is done about the extra tile?
    If you did NOT meld your four identical tiles, you do not have an extra tile.

    If you melded the kong, it will never turn into a pung and a chow. There is an exception to this, called "robbing the kong," but a kong can be robbed only at the instant an exposed pung is promoted to a kong. I recommend you get a book, or use a website with complete detailed rules for the variant you are learning. You'll find books listed in FAQ 3. You'll find websites describing various Chinese variants in FAQ 4b (http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq04.html#Official). Make sure you know you're looking at the rules of the same variant you've been learning, or you'll REALLY get confused!

    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 23, 2017


    I have just started learning Chinese Mah-Jongg

    >From: REBECCA E
    >Sent: Friday, December 22, 2017 7:00 PM
    >Subject: Chinese Mahjongg question
    >Hi Tom:
    >I have just started learning about Chinese Mahjongg and have 2 questions about kongs. First, is it possible to have more than 1. If there are 2, then the hand would win with 16 tiles.
    >Also, some online directions for concealed kongs mentioned being able to move a tile out a kong to make a pung. Do two tiles then get discarded since without a kong the Mahjongg hand would be the normal 14 tiles?
    >Thank you for your help. I'm hoping with a simple rummy-type version of the game, I can induce more people to play.
    >Becky

    Hi, Becky! You wrote:

    ... about kongs. First, is it possible to have more than 1. If there are 2, then the hand would win with 16 tiles.
    This is a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ") that's asked by beginning players of Asian variants of mah-jongg. I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked mah-jongg questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 20-D. You can link to FAQ 20 above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 20 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked beginner questions about Chinese mah-jongg are found in FAQ 20. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    Also, some online directions for concealed kongs mentioned being able to move a tile out a kong to make a pung.
    What? Where did you read such a thing? Once you've made a kong, you can't "demote" it to a pung. Next time you write me, please tell me what book you are learning from (or what website) so I can better understand the source of your confusion.

    I'm hoping with a simple rummy-type version of the game, I can induce more people to play.
    Many have done that before you. One simplification you can make is to forbid kongs (see how kongs have already complicated things for you)! Another simplification is to remove the flowers from the game, or to make them "wild flowers" (allowing a player to use a flower to represent any 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
    December 22, 2017


    They're trying to tell me there's such a thing as seat rotation in the rules. Tell me they're wrong!

    >From: "judyr
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 4:33 PM
    >Subject: Question about rotating seats
    >A group I play with insists it's a mahj rule that after everyone is east once you rotate. The person that was the first east moves one seat to the right. I don't think this is a rule. They insist it is. Can you help? Judy

    Hi, Judy!
    The nerve of some people, telling you stuff is "in the rules"! I'll tell you one way you can check out this kind of thing: by having a copy of the official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy," by the National Mah Jongg League.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    It was revised in 2013. Every table
    should have an up-to-date copy!

    And there's another way to check out whether something is really a rule or not: by keeping and reading the yearly newsletters from the National Mah Jongg League.


    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription to
    the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    But if you don't have the rulebook and you don't have a collection of newsletters, there's a third way: you could check my Frequently Asked Questions. FAQ 19-BB answers the question, "how does seat rotation work?" You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    I guess you find it annoying to have to get up and switch seats every hour or so, huh? The nerve of some people, making people stand up and move several whole inches! I don't blame you for doubting their motives!
    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 20, 2017


    Donation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:50 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > paypal
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $10.82 USD from greg s
    >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
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    >Contributor: greg s
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    >From: "service@paypal
    >To: Thomas Sloper
    >Sent: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:53 AM
    >Subject: Notification of donation received
    > paypal
    > You've Got Cash!
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of $1.49 USD from greg s
    >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
    >/Note
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    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
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    >Contributor: greg s
    >Sincerely,
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    Thank you, Greg! Happy holidays to 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 20, 2017


    MCR vs. MIL, part 2

    >From: Juna Berry Madrone
    >Sent: Monday, December 11, 2017 10:42 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >I have taught Mahjong, MCR rules to over 35 people. I am listed as a teacher on your website, although now that I have moved to Bali, Indonesia, I need to update my contact info.
    >Mahjong was officially recognized by IMSA (International Mind Sport Association) last year. There are now many MIL tournaments worldwide. Here is a link to the article reporting the IMSA recognition from Mahjong News (sorry if you have to copy & paste): https://www.mahjongnews.com/index.php/news/reports/144-imsarecog.html
    >Thanks for your answer,
    >Juna

    You're welcome, Juna. I may have been fuzzy on what was future aspirations and what has already occurred, but I can say for certain that duplicate mah-jongg is not the only international competition variant. You can continue teaching MCR with a clear conscience, and with reasonable expectations of having plenty of occasions to play MCR in competitions in the Pacific world. If and when duplicate becomes more widespread, it probably still won't "take over" the mah-jongg world. People still enjoy the mix of skill and luck afforded by non-duplicate variants.
    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 12, 2017


    MCR vs. WMO vs. MIL ... ???

    >From: Juna B
    >Sent: Monday, December 11, 2017 8:59 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Regarding International Competitions with MCR, Official Chinese Tournament Rules. I'm confused about the difference between WMO (World Mahjong Organization) and MIL (Mahjong International League). I've been practicing and teaching others for years with the aim of eventually competing internationally. Are all international mahjong tournaments now duplicate mahjong games? I understand that the purpose of MIL is to promote Duplicate Mahjong and they seem to have many international tournaments. I don't want to play Duplicate Mahjong.
    >Thank you,
    >Juna

    Hi, Juna! You wrote:

    I'm confused about the difference between WMO (World Mahjong Organization) and MIL (Mahjong International League).
    The former is the organization behind Majiang Competition Rules (MCR), and who organizes competitions in mainland China. Their website is http://www.chinamajiang.com/.
    The latter is, as you said, the organization behind Duplicate Mahjong. The ultimate goal is to get mah-jongg accepted as a "mind sport" and part of international sports events. Google the term "mind sports Olympics" and check out the Wikipedia entries. Under Wikipedia's "World Mind Sports Games" entry, you'll see that bridge, chess, checkers (draughts), go, and xiangqi ("Chinese chess") are the first five games in the pantheon. The MIL's goal is to have mah-jongg added. The "duplicate" aspect was added to satisfy the IMSA's requirement that the games be all mind and no luck.

    I've been practicing and teaching others for years with the aim of eventually competing internationally.
    What variant have you been practicing and teaching? MCR?

    Are all international mahjong tournaments now duplicate mahjong games?
    No. The duplicate approach removes individual randomness, to make the game all skill and no luck. The duplicate approach can be applied to any variant (MCR, American, Japanese...). When or if mah-jongg becomes part of international mind sports competitions, duplicate will be used. But in international mah-jongg tournaments, mah-jongg rules will be non-duplicate as usual (Japanese, MCR, Zung Jung...).

    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, 2017


    How to prevent cat games?

    >From: carrollj
    >Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 8:57 PM
    >Subject: Mahj ?
    >Dear Tom,
    >My group played seven games last night and four had no winner! (We called them 'cat games ' but I see you call it a 'wall game ').
    >Is there anything to do to prevent this or are there strategies we might be use? Is there a type of player/play that could make this more common?
    >Thank you!
    > Jenine

    Hi, Jenine!
    I've had several people ask me why wall games seem to be happening more with the 2017 card. I wrote about that in column 684. And I've answered another frequent question about wall games in FAQ 19-BT.
    To answer your new question, though: I guess you could have fewer wall games if you stop playing so cagey. Got a hot tile another player might need for mahj? Go ahead and throw it! She'll win and you'll pay her double - but at least you won't be visited by that darn cat! >(^o^)<
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    December 11, 2017


    Column 692, oopsie in #3

    >From: Suzanne L
    >Sent: Sunday, December 10, 2017 1:10 PM
    >Subject: December 3rd column hand 3
    >Hi Tom
    >I think you made a mistake. We should hold 3C and 4C for the Consecutive Run hand. I would also hold the 7D for a possible 2017 hand, so I would also hold the red dragon.
    >Suzanne L

    Hi Suzanne!
    You are right, I misstated the numbers of the keepers for Consec #2. I can see holding the 7 for 2017. I was already holding Red for Consec dragon hands - but I think 2017 #2 is too far a stretch.
    Thanks for your comments! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    December 11, 2017


    My ... draggin', part 5

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Saturday, December 9, 2017 10:03 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Regarding my comment on 12/4 about my group not liking the Chinese dragons, it was because they had to stop and ask "what is this?" Every time they got one. I know, it seems silly, as how can you not know what they are? Red is red, green is green and the soap is similar to the American soap. But, they just could not wrap their minds around dragons that did not look like dragons. Me? I loved them, they were beautiful! I should never have sold my set. But the lady who bought it absolutely loved it!
    >Bee

    I agree, Bee. It is silly - how can someone not know that it's not a dot, it's not a bam, it's not a crak, it's not a wind, it's not a flower, and it's not a joker. If it's green, what else could it be but a Green Dragon???
    And how many times do you have to give me that "what is this" stuff...
    I roll my eyes.
    Too bad you sold that set.
    Tom
    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 10, 2017


    Players who put a tile on the table in front of their rack

    >From: "ssnd...
    >Sent: Thursday, December 7, 2017 5:50 PM
    >Subject: Unracked Tiles
    >Tom,
    >Is there a rule concerning exactly where all tiles must be located? On the Mah Jongg That's It! Facebook page there has been some discussion about players who may put a tile or two on the table in front of their rack and whether or not that person should be called dead. I am assuming that players do this when they know which tiles they are definitely going to discard. Technically the tiles are in their possession (usually on top of their card). I have also seen players place "unwanted" tiles on the flat part of their rack (unexposed) before they have an exposure. Is there a rule concerning this?
    >Thank you,
    >Susan

    Hi, Susan!
    Although I'm a member of that Facebook group, I don't check it regularly, so I haven't followed this particular thread.
    As long as all her tiles are on her rack or between her rack and the edge of the table, it's as you said: technically, the tiles are in her possession.
    You wrote...

    I have also seen players place "unwanted" tiles on the flat part of their rack (unexposed)
    I assume that the tile is standing on end, facing the player herself - but the tile's orientation doesn't really matter (I'm just trying to visualize the picture you're painting).

    Is there a rule concerning this?
    No. The National Mah Jongg League has never issued a rule about this.

    But I imagine that if this was questioned in a tournament, the tournament judge would order the player to keep her tiles on her rack according to custom.

    In a non-tournament game, if other players verbally object to the practice and are unanimous in their objection, then it would be very disharmonious for her not to abide by the players' request. If the other players unanimously decide to call her dead, they are within their rights (one or two persons issuing a death challenge that is unsupported by the official rules is not enough). If feelings are strong enough on this point, the group could be in danger of breaking up.

    As a teacher, I encourage my students to develop their skill beyond the point where they need to keep a finger on the card, or put gaps between concealed tiles, or utilize more real estate than is provided by the sloping front of her rack.

    As a player, I am quite forgiving of novices. My patience wears thin with players who are too slow, and with players who are not nice, and with players who insist on promulgating table rules as official rules. But when I'm playing with someone who is so confused by a straight uninterrupted line of 13 or 14 tiles that she has to resort to practices that give the other players clues about her hand (such as those outlined in the previous paragraph), I'm fine with that - I'll read all the clues she wants to give me, and I'll gladly take her quarters.

    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, 2017


    My club's rule

    >From: Kathy O
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 3:09 PM
    >Subject: Hand twice
    >My club has rule (once you win a hand, can't play again) on same day. Looked in your book, on line.
    >I personally like rule
    >Kathy O

    Hi, Kathy!
    So... you're telling me about your club's rule, so I can... I don't know, add it to my collection of table rules, I guess. 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
    December 5, 2017


    Le Jeu Chinois, part deux

    >From: Florent V
    >Sent: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 3:05 PM
    >Subject: Hi again, tom!
    >Hi again tom sorry for being so late to answer you and thank you a lot for giving so fast answers :)
    >To answer you, i got about 126 scorings sticks some looks like they do not fit in this set
    >I confirm to you that it's not ivory but all bones & bamboo (except for box wich i don't know)
    >The four discs are inside the mingg but in various states as you'll see on the picture
    >I didn't send you the upper side of the case the last time, so there it is :)
    >I send you new photos that would maybe help you about the estimation. The wind discs are, as you can see, almost erased, some of the tiles are a bit used by the drying of the wood. The whole set is obviously used and old but for me look nice and still playable

    Hi, Florent.
    I would have liked it if you would have said which of the condition grades you felt apply to your set. But you didn't, so I will go by your photos and your description: "obviously used and old but ... look nice and still playable." I see obvious flaws in the photos: uneven discoloration (some tiles being darker than others), rather heavy Haversian streaking, broken drawer pulls, non-separated shrinkage of the bamboo, some cracking and/or separation of the light-colored (bone?) inlay on the box, and paint loss on the wind discs. To me, that indicates the overall condition of the set is just Good ("worn but reasonably attractive; any normal person would notice the defects without having to look for them"). Despite the low quality of the bone used for the tiles, the carving is well detailed. The intricate design of the box makes the box itself more desirable than the pieces contained in it, so I believe the set is worth closer to US$100 than it would be worth if the box was more ordinary. Added next morning, Dec. 6: in fact, the box alone is so desirable that a collector might spend upwards of US$200 for the 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
    December 5, 2017


    What's the scoop on the dead wall, part 2

    >From: Peter Y
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 11:15 PM
    >Subject: Question about the "dead wall"
    >Hello, Mr. Sloper,
    >thank you for explaining the "dora" term. And I'd like to ask another question: what this "dead wall" symbolizes? Or, at least, symbolized originally in the Chinese Classical mahjong? I've seen that it is called "wan pai" in Japanese - "king's tiles" (not so ominous as in English). What was it for? What king was it supposed to be? Thank you.
    >With best regards,
    >Peter

    Hi, Peter.
    Since I was not involved in the creation process of any dead wall rule, I can only guess as to the motivation for creating it. I can speak, however, to the effects a dead wall has on the play of the game. And I can comment on the terminology.

    You've probably heard of the "dummy hand" that is dealt to an empty side of the table in Euchre and Bridge. The effect is to remove a small set of random tiles/cards from the play, thus affecting strategy - no player can just count the cards and know what the odds are of getting a desired tile/card which will inevitably appear at some point. Consider that in Klondike solitaire, a large number of cards are hidden from play, face down, and some players like to further increase the difficulty by flipping not every card, but a short stack of three cards, from the draw pile. Additionally, setting aside 14 or so tiles and omitting them from play has the effect of shortening the game. This has the added effect of altering the odds of winning, from 25% to 20% (since the "wall game," a game nobody wins, happens more often), heightening the joy of achieving a win when it happens.

    "The king's hand" does not refer to any specific king or emperor. It sounds cooler to say "those are the king's tiles" than to say "those are the dummy's tiles." When I speak or write about the vagaries of chance in mah-jongg, I think it's more in keeping with the ethos and mythology of mah-jongg to refer to "the mah-jongg Goddesses" (when discussing American mah-jongg, which is played primarily by women) or "the mah-jongg Gods" (when discussing un-American mah-jongg), rather than "dumb luck." Thus "the king's hand" rather than "the dummy hand." What's the mystery here is why Bridge and Euchre use the latter terminology. And I guess "dead wall" is just descriptive, without use of colorful terminology.
    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 2, 2017


    My search is draggin', part 4

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 10:06 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >For the player looking for an American set but with Chinese dragons - I had a set from Wherethewindsblow.com It was a Red Hat set which had red glitter backs with a light lavender face, red hats as jokers with extras included. I loved it, however I sold it as my group did not like the Chinese dragons! Perhaps they can help the player find a set.
    >Bee

    Thanks for the tip, Bee. I don't like that your group didn't like the chung and fa dragons. It smacks of a dislike or disrespect for the authentic Chinese origins of the game, and that bothers me.
    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, 2017


    If I'm playing a concealed hand…

    >From: Donna G
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 10:37 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you are doing a concealed hand are you allowed to claim a joker from another player's exposure?

    Hi, Donna!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-BD. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 4, 2017


    My search is draggin', part 3

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Monday, December 4, 2017 9:53 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mar Jongg Set Question
    >You wrote 'So I guess you're saying you're going to buy a new set of tiles to put into your 1940 case’, well the answer is a simple Yes and No.
    >I teach American Mah Jongg at a local Senior center and already own 2 complete sets (one of each style). Occasionally I have more then 8 people wanting to learn however and so have to turn them away. As such I’m looking for the tiles to put into the old case for use at that time. I would hold onto the existing tiles so the original set would remain intact.
    >Because I do run into color blind persons from time to time (I play with one regularly also) and they do have issues with the ‘American’ style dragons, I’m looking for an inexpensive set with the Chinese chung and fa characters.
    >Tim A

    OK, IC. Good luck 2U, Tim!
    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.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 4, 2017


    My search is draggin', part 2

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Sunday, December 3, 2017 6:32 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mar Jongg Set Question
    >HI Tom, Thanks for the quick response.
    >You wrote ‘Just to be clear…’ and you are absolutely correct. Just what I’m looking for.
    >If you don’t mind a link <https://www.nationalmahjonggleague.org/store.aspx#>, item # 29 (American-style) and Item # 32 (Chinese Style) are two examples of what I find. Now I know set #32 above has a black back but does that really add $40 to the cost?
    >I have an old 1940 set (it includes a NMJL card from that year) but doesn’t have Jokers. As such, I don’t need racks or a case. As you suggested, I’ll have to make some phone calls to see what some of the online vendors have but might not be showing online.
    >Tim A.

    Hi, Tim.
    You pointed to the store on the NMJL website. Set #29 is a typical American set, with American-style dragons in which the red and green dragons differ only in the color of paint.

    Personally, I wish the manufacturer would get wise to the fact that this is a bad practice - that the dragon designs NEED to look different. You also pointed to set #32, which (like sets 30, 31, and 33) have Chinese chung and fa characters. Those sets are all two-tone (having non-white backs).

    Personally, I think this type of set is both more authentic and more attractive. You followed up with a question:

    Now I know set #32 above has a black back but does that really add $40 to the cost?
    I really don't know what to answer to that, except to note that the plain white tiles are priced at $55.00 and the pink- and green- and black- and red-backed tiles are priced at $99.95, so: "apparently so."

    I am not privy to the manufacturing process or the cost of making those tiles. You do realize that for the plain tiles, they only have to make blank tiles and apply the designs, but for the two-tone tiles, they have to make fronts and backs and apply designs to the fronts and somehow affix the backs to the fronts (or make 2-layer plastic to start from, I don't know). I guess what I'm struggling to say is that I am not in any position to either explain or justify the price differential sufficiently to satisfy you.

    I have an old 1940 set (it includes a NMJL card from that year) but doesn’t have Jokers. As such, I don’t need racks or a case.
    So I guess you're saying you're going to buy a new set of tiles to put into your 1940 case. What are you going to do with your 1940 tiles? Seems odd to put new tiles in an old case with old racks. If you decide to sell your old tiles, their value will be reduced by dint of not having a case or racks. If you sold the 1940 set, surely that would help offset the cost of a new set in case with racks.

    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, 2017


    How is the NMJL governed, part 2

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Friday, December 1, 2017 11:27 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for the detailed info you provided--now I have many search options! Do you think it's worth a try to get my questions answered by writing to the NMJL?

    You're welcome, Linda. All I can tell you is that "worth" is subjective (whether something is "worth a try" or not is up to YOU to decide).
    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, 2017


    My search is draggin'

    >From: Timothy A
    >Sent: Friday, December 1, 2017 5:19 AM
    >Subject: Mar Jongg Set Question
    >Hi Tom, Just a (hopefully) quick question about buying sets for use in playing American Mahjong.
    >In your Column #547, you refer to the ‘American’ and ‘Chinese’ sets and their Dragon Designs. I play with a person that is Colorblind and so has difficulty with the Dragons of the ‘American’ set.
    >While I can find inexpensive (tiles only) ‘American’ style sets ($40-$70), the least expensive ‘Chinese’ style set I can find starts at $120 or so. Do you know of a place that sells the ‘Chinese’ style set (including Jokers) at a more reasonable price?
    >Tim A.

    Good morning, Tim.
    Just to be clear: you want a set to play American mah-jongg (complete with 8 jokers), but with Asian dragon tiles (not American-style dragon tiles).


    "Chung" and "fa" dragon tiles, as shown in FAQ 7D

    And you don't want racks (you want the tiles only), and you want it for under $100.
    If you want the tiles to be plastic (and to have Western indices in the corners of the tiles), the set will likely come with racks, and will likely cost more than $100. This set (below), which is pictured in FAQ 7D, is made of reconstituted fishbone and bamboo:

    Sets like the above were sold widely in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The tiles are perhaps slightly smaller than the typical size of American tiles. I had to put joker stickers on the blanks and the Chinese jokers (the set in the photo also includes 8 extra tiles borrowed from an identical set, for the purposes of the photograph). You might find such sets still on sale somewhere, perhaps on eBay. These bone-and-bamboo sets don't come with racks, and 17 years ago they cost under $80, but I don't know how much they are today.
    I own a nice plastic set with chung and fa dragons; it was made in Hong Kong by Kwong Fat Cheung (see FAQ 7Q, and click "A Hong Kong MJ Adventure," above left). I don't remember how much it cost (I bought it from one of the American vendors, I don't remember which), and I don't remember if it came with racks. It probably wasn't as cheap as what you're looking for. For what this is worth: I don't think any American-style set that costs less than $70 is worth owning; the tiles of such so-called "travel sets" are thin, chimey, and slippery, and no fun to play mah-jongg with.
    There are also American-style sets in which the red dragon is not depicted similarly to the green dragon (there is a graphical difference). But again, the price is probably going to be over $100. And many old Bakelite sets had differently-depicted dragons (but the price of those is definitely over $100). See also FAQ 7S. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    I think what you'll have to do is phone the online vendors and make inquiries. Good luck with your search!
    May the tiles be with you. Literally!
    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, 2017


    How is the NMJL governed?

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2017 5:55 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your answer about "scoring sticks". Now I have another question: I'm interested in learning about how the governing body of the NMJL works. Who makes the rules interpretations; how are the League members selected; did Larry Unger replace Ruth after she passed away or is there an election for president? How are the hands for each year's card chosen? If you could answer these or direct me to a website that has this information I would be very grateful!
    >Thanks so much, Linda

    Good morning, Linda!
    I am unable to answer all your questions, because I don't know the answers. I only know what I have been told by Larry and David (and what I was told by Ruth), and none of that answers the specifics you asked about.
    League members are self-selected (you become a member when you buy the card from the League). How the leadership of the League is selected I don't know, but it's within the legal requirements for 501c(3) organizations. Nobody owns the League (non-profits don't work that way). If you want to know more, GuideStar.org shows that the League's EIN number is 13-3791092, bridge number 3789440182, and cause area (NTEE code) is Public Foundations (T30). GuideStar's listing for the League is not complete, and shows an old address (or at least an address in NYC that differs from the League's address listed on the League's card and website). GreatNonProfits.org lists the same information as GuideStar. NonProfitList.org is more difficult to use - you can't search by name or EIN. Using that EIN, I found that the IRS lists the organization as a PF (private foundation). If you open your 2017 bulletin, you'll find a proxy form on page 7. The annual meeting of the members was held on February 7 this year; if you bought your card directly from the League last year, you'll receive the 2018 bulletin in January, with information on the next annual meeting.
    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
    November 30, 2017


    Robbing the kong

    >From: Roni H
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 3:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We had a discussion in my Chinese MJ group regarding robbing the kong. I said it has to be when there is an exposed pung and a player draws a tile to make it a Kong and it is someone’s MJ. The person who was going to Kong has to pay the person who has the MJ the amount of her MJ plus the additional amount for her robbing the kong.
    >
    >Another player had a pung in her hand and someone threw her tile for her Kong and someone else said MJ. She said that is also robbing the Kong.
    >
    >I have your book and I looked up robbing the Kong. On page 185 it states promoting an exposed pung to a Kong. In the appendix page 242 it states that a player is permitted to go out on a tile that a player uses to promote a Kong. Either case is considered a win by discard. In the second scenario “exposed” pung is not mentioned.
    >
    > With the exposed pung I assume the one who is going to Kong pays. If the second scenario is also valid there are now three players involved. The one who discarded, the one who is promoting her hidden pung into a Kong and the person who calls MJ. And if valid who pays?
    >Some clarification please. As always your time and help are greatly appreciated.
    >Roni

    Hi, Roni!
    You didn't mention which Chinese variant your group plays, but you cited my book, which describes MCR rules. (I know you have my book, but I don't know if everyone in your group plays by the rules in my book.) You wrote:

    I said it has to be when there is an exposed pung and a player draws a tile to make it a Kong and it is someone’s MJ.
    In other words, when someone picks a tile from the wall that lets her promote an exposed pung to a kong. Yes. That's one situation in which a kong can be robbed.* You are correct.*

    Another player had a pung in her hand and someone threw her tile for her Kong and someone else said MJ. She said that is also robbing the Kong.
    No. Read on...

    I have your book and I looked up robbing the Kong. On page 185 it states promoting an exposed pung to a Kong. In the appendix page 242 it states that a player is permitted to go out on a tile that a player uses to promote a Kong. Either case is considered a win by discard. In the second scenario “exposed” pung is not mentioned.
    I guess I was assuming that readers understood that the only kind of pung that can be promoted is an exposed pung. If you have a concealed triplet in the hand and you obtain a fourth such tile, that is not "promoting."

    There are two ways you can obtain a fourth tile to add to a concealed pung and create a kong - (1) by picking it from the wall yourself and then melding a "concealed kong" or (2) by taking a discard and calling "kong." The latter is not promotion - it's declaration (and subsequently making an exposed kong).

    If you call "kong" but another player calls "mah-jongg," then the mah-jongg declarer gets the tile, and you weren't involved at all (other than having your request for the tile be thwarted by the other player's mah-jongg declaration).

    So I don't think I need to issue a change to the RDWW errata (adding the word "exposed" to page 242).

    With the exposed pung I assume the one who is going to Kong pays.
    With the exposed pung, and promotion by discard, it's the discarder who pays. But as noted above, the kong never gets made (the fourth tile was hijacked by the robber) so the issue of someone having wanted the winning tile for a kong is moot.* But with the exposed pung, and promotion by self-pick, it is indeed the konger who pays (as you said). The robber is paid by the player who caused the winning tile to appear on the table.

    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
    November 29, 2017

    * Edits made the next day upon re-reading last night's post. - Tom


    "Scoring sticks"???

    >From: "lindaz
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 8:13 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was reading Florent's interesting question about her MJ set (Nov 28) and your answer mentioned "scoring sticks". I searched for the term on your site but couldn't find it. Could you please explain what they are used for?
    >Thanks, Linda

    Hi, Linda! Hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving. The use of sticks and chips is explained in FAQ 7D. I know players of American mah-jongg pay one another with coins (actual money), but as I have said often, American mah-jongg is the oddball of the mah-jongg world.
    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
    November 29, 2017


    Le Jeu Chinois

    >From: Florent V
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 10:48 AM
    >Subject: Evaluation of Mah-jong game
    >Hey !
    >I just saw your site and i'd like your opinion about that game (i'll put photos at the end, sorry in advance for bad quality)
    >So, my mom told me that my grand ma got it by a woman who get it from the Aga Khan.
    >The book inside the box say "2 years after the war", after reading on internet i guess it's a 1920 one.
    >It's in our family for more than 20 years.
    >She also told me that the tiles are made of Ivory and Bamboo and the counting sticks are in bones. If she's true the box is in SantalWood and the ornaments are in Ivory.
    >There's silver on the drawer.
    >I keep searching something that looks like it on internet but i can't, maybe because Ivory become rare or because i search bad :D
    >Sorry for my poor english too, i'm french. I hope to read you soon !
    >Good evening !
    >Florent,

    Bonjour, Florent!
    I can tell you a little about your set, but since you didn't give me enough information, I can't give you a valuation yet.
    I see from your photos that you have the usual 148 tiles, and a mingg with lid (but I cannot tell if all 4 discs are inside it), and a dice coffin complete with lid and 4 dice. I see that your elaborate case is not missing its sliding front. I see from the full-size photos that your tiles are not ivory but rather bone (see FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C2, above left). I see that the tops and bottoms of your tiles show gaps between them where the wood has dried.

    The information I do not have from you, which is necessary to deriving a valuation, are:
    - How many scoring sticks are there?
    - Are there 4 discs inside the mingg?
    - What is the condition of all the parts? I need to know, is the set Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine, Mint? You can read how each of those conditions is defined in FAQ 7H, above left.
    I cannot tell you how much the set is worth without this crucial information.

    To respond to some of the things you said:

    my mom told me that my grand ma got it by a woman who get it from the Aga Khan.
    "The Aga Khan" is like saying "the President" or "the King" or "the Pope" - there have been several presidents, several kings, and several popes. So, too, there have been more than one Aga Khan. I presume the one in question must be Aga Khan III (Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah). It's not inconceivable that a religious leader of what is now Pakistan (then, it was part of India) would have presented a set made in China and marked with Western indices, together with a mah-jongg book written in French, to this friend of your grandmother's, but without a photo showing the Aga Khan giving the set to your grandmother's friend, or a letter from the lady to the Aga Khan thanking him for his gift, this history would be difficult to prove.

    The book inside the box say "2 years after the war", after reading on internet i guess it's a 1920 one.
    So you say the book fits into the set - presumably it fits atop the bottom drawer? I see from the full-size photo that the book's author says that it's been 2 and a half years since mah-jongg was introduced to France. That makes me think the book was written no earlier than 1922. That doesn't necessarily mean that the set was made in 1922 - but it is safe to assume that the set was made in the early 1920s.

    If she's true the box is in SantalWood and the ornaments are in Ivory.
    >There's silver on the drawer.
    I can't confirm that the box is sandalwood. I can't confirm there is silver. The inlay on the box is surely not ivory, since the tiles are not ivory. I cannot tell from your photos what the box inlay is made of. The box is ornate and could be valuable, depending on its condition.

    If you're curious about your flower tiles, see FAQ 7E. If you're curious what the bits and pieces are or how they're used in mah-jongg, see FAQ 7D.
    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
    November 2, 2017


    Deluxe, vintage, possibly ivory, part 3

    >From: "d████
    >Sent: Monday, November 27, 2017 4:42 AM
    >Subject: Re: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory
    >Hi Tom--please remove all my emails to you off your blog. Thank you, D████

    Sorry you weren't happy, D████,but you ate the steak, so you have to pay. And as it has said atop this page for numerous years, the "price" is for the answer and the question to be given in public. I do regret that I took on a tone of suspicion based on the wording of your original question. It's not that I don't like eBay sellers - I've been an eBay seller myself! I am usually kinder and gentler to eBay sellers who email me questions and identify themselves as eBay sellers. I don't know why I get prickly when I perceive (rightly or wrongly) that they are being cagey. Again: sorry about my tone. Anyway, I've anonymized your name. Whatever you're going to do with that set, good luck!
    Tom


    Deluxe, vintage, possibly ivory, part 2

    >From: "d████
    >Sent: Saturday, November 25, 2017 5:06 PM
    >Subject: Re: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory
    >Hi Tom--the majong set is older than me and I am 62. My dad got it as a gift from my grandfather when he was stationed in Japan 65 years ago. I’m sure it’s a quality set that is not likely just plastic. The bottom is bamboo however the long pieces that goes with it looks like it could be plastic. Please don't post and pick everything apart that I say, its obvious you are a skilled blogger, thanks. D████

    Hi, D████!
    I'm glad you came back. I know the tone of my previous reply wasn't as warm and fuzzy as you might have expected. Explanation in a bit.
    Now you've added:

    My dad got it as a gift from my grandfather when he was stationed in Japan 65 years ago.
    Okay. It is conceivable that this plastic-and-bamboo set could be from the post-war years. It's just that your one tile looks like it could have been made as recently as the 1960s or 1970s. I needed more of the story than what you said in your first email.

    I’m sure it’s a quality set that is not likely just plastic. The bottom is bamboo however the long pieces that goes with it looks like it could be plastic.
    It looks like plastic to me, and I've seen a LOT of mah-jongg sets, and I used to work with a LOT of plastic. In my collection, I have some sets that are plastic backed with bamboo (made in Japan).
    Look at the tile in your photo - the top of the tile is very flat (no curvature), with square edges; that is a hallmark of plastic tiles. Consider that plastic tiles are machine made, and bone tiles are cut by hand.
    In addition, in your photo there is no Haversian system evident (so no evidence of bone), and there are no Schreger lines (so no evidence of ivory). Have you read FAQ 7c, 7c2, and 7c3 yet? As I said before, all I have to go on is one photo of one tile. You can check your tiles against all the info in the materials FAQs, and I cannot. You have all the real tiles in your set. I have just one photo of just one tile.

    Please don't post and pick everything apart that I say, its obvious you are a skilled blogger, thanks.
    It's not about me being a "blogger," it's about me having taken a LOT of emailed mah-jongg questions (for about 20 years), and my having to try to figure out what the asker is really trying to find out so I can answer the real question. I've had a lot of dealings with people who try to get answers from me, without their being straightforward about the reason for asking. All I can go from is the email I receive. And your first email to me was very short on information.

    Look at the words you used in your first email. If you're not an eBay seller, and you're just trying to find out what your grandfather's Japanese set is made of, why on Earth did you tell me the set is "deluxe"? What on Earth made you tell me it's "vintage"? If you aren't an eBay seller, you sure talk like one!

    By the way, I imagine that your set has 144 tiles. Because that's how many tiles a set made in Japan in the early 1950s would have (either that, or 148). If you ever decide to offer the set for sale on eBay, you'll need to provide an exact count (you can't just say it has "several pieces," if you want someone to give you money for it). And it's best not to use vague words like "deluxe" and "vintage." Before you offer the set for sale, I recommend you read FAQ 7N.
    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
    November 25, 2017


    Deluxe, vintage, possibly ivory

    >From: "d████
    >Sent: Saturday, November 25, 2017 8:36 AM
    >Subject: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory
    >Hi--can you give me an idea what this majong set is made of? It’s a deluxe several piece vintage set probably at least 65yrs old.
    >Thanks kindly,
    >D████

    Hi, D████. You wrote:

    Subject: Majong bamboo & possibly ivory ... can you give me an idea what this majong set is made of?
    It looks like plastic to me. But I can't possibly tell much from one photo of one tile. You should read FAQ 7C and FAQ 7C2 and FAQ 7C3. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    It’s a deluxe ...
    "Deluxe"? What does that mean? Is that the name of the manufacturing company? Why are you telling me the set is "deluxe"?

    ... several piece ...
    Really. Several pieces. How about that.

    ... vintage set ...
    I don't know what "vintage" means to you. Read column 502 (January, 2012). Click the purple banner atop this page.

    ... probably at least 65yrs old.
    What makes you think the set was made before 1952? It doesn't look that old to me.

    D████, a lot of the words you used in your email sound like eBay-style puffery to me. "Deluxe... vintage... possibly ivory... several piece..." Are you an eBay seller who doesn't know much about mah-jongg sets? Were you ripped off by an eBay seller's exaggerated claims? Are you trying to check out an eBay sale to see if you should buy it or not? Don't you think you would get a better answer to your real question if you were more straightforward with the reason for 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 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
    November 25, 2017


    What's the scoop on the dead wall?

    >From: lippylip26
    >Sent: Friday, November 24, 2017 2:14 AM
    >Subject: Drawing supplementary tiles
    >Hi Tom
    >Finally managed to get hold.of FOSTER ON MAH JONG book 1924
    >Am busy reading it
    >Saw something interesting
    >All the books I have seen on Mah Jong all say that when you draw a Bonus Tile or make up a Kong you draw it from the Dead Wall
    >Foster says.other wise
    >He says you draw it from the Live Wall
    >If that is the case it means there is no access to the Dead Wall at all during the game
    >Why did they do it like that and when was the rule changes from the Live Wall to the Dead Wall

    Hi, lippylip26,
    It's been a while since I went through those 1920s books. Re-checking Foster now, I see that he does indeed make no mention of a dead wall. I checked another 1920s book at random. I was trying to find one that included the American Code of Laws (Babcock, Foster, Hartman, Smith, and Work, 1924) but I didn't find one immediately, so chose Hartman.

    Hartman, too, makes no mention of the dead wall. You say the dead wall is in "all the books I have seen on Mah Jong." You didn't name any of those books, which I felt could make it harder for me to answer your question. But then I found the American Code of Laws in Work.

    And in the course of digging for your answer, found this link to The American Code of Laws for Mah-Jongg (1924) on the old rec.games.mahjong newsgroup. The introduction to the American Code of Laws begins (emphasis added by me):

      Before play begins, the players may select the Mixed-Hand game, the 
      One-Double game, or the Cleared-Hand game to determine the qualifications 
      for Mah-jongg. In the absence of a selection, the Mixed-Hand game shall be 
      played. The details of play are the same in all three games. They differ 
      only in Mah-jongg qualifications, in the dead wall provision, and in the 
      scoring.

    So, based on this paragraph, I believe the answers to your questions are:
    1. The dead wall was likely seen as necessary for certain of the variations that cropped up in the early 1920s in an attempt to mollify the hardcore players.
    2. The dead wall was likely introduced in the early 1920s.

    I know that the Japanese riichi/dora majan variant includes a dead wall with a 4-tile kong box. And that variant is much more recent, by decades, than the classic Chinese rules of the twenties. And there is no dead wall in MCR, which is much more recent.

    Curious, I also decided to check Millington (1993) to see if he describes the dead wall. He does, and that begs the question, does Millington claim that the dead wall is more "authentic" than the omission of the dead wall? In a quick perusal to refresh my memory of Millington's claims, what I find is that he merely says that his version of the various classical rules is "most perfect, philosophically considered" -- "the most logical and internally consistent."

    So that's the best answer I can give 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
    November 24, 2017


    It's virtually impossible to purchase a mah-jongg set in retail stores

    >From: Clive and Margie C
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 22, 2017 1:49 AM
    >Subject: mahjong set
    >Good morning I have become very interested in the game Mahjong and along with 10 friends play weekly in a small coastal town in South Africa. ( I am told it is the absolute basic game-but am loving it)
    >I have found it virtually impossible to purchase a Mahjong set in this country and am travelling to Auckland New Zealand in December for 6 weeks. I am hoping to purchase a set there.
    >I did come across one in Durban South Africa yesterday in a China Mall but unfortunately it did not have the numerical numbers on the tiles. (the only 1 they had)
    >Was hoping you would be able to inform me of an outlet in New Zealand.
    >Much appreciated
    >Margie C

    Good morning, Margie!
    Unfortunately, the fact is that with some notable exceptions*, it's practically impossible for anyone anywhere to find a selection of Westernized mah-jongg sets in retail stores. Even here in the US, when people ask where to go shopping for sets, I tell them to go online, and have the set mailed to you. In most parts of the world, mah-jongg sets are not in high enough demand to justify the retail inventory cost. The Roaring Twenties were almost a hundred years ago. Back then, mah-jongg was a huge fad. Nowadays, it's hardly even a minuscule blip on the radar.

    * Those exceptions being primarily large cities with Chinatown districts.
    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
    November 22, 2017


    MUST I first draw from the wall before redeeming jokers? (FAQ 19-M)

    >From: Tami W
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 12:46 PM
    >Subject: Long MJ question
    >I think I know the answer but just don’t like it!
    >A tile has been discarded, it is MY turn AND I can Mah Jong with it IF I can first exchange two of the tiles on my rack for two jokers – unbelievable but it really happened that I could capture two jokers from others. Is this possible or MUST I first draw from the stack before trading for jokers? To make matters worse, this tile was the last one available!
    >Tami W

    Hi, Tami!
    The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-M. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    November 21, 2017


    After the first Charleston

    >From: TamiW
    >Sent: Monday, November 20, 2017 7:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Second Charleston: Does all action come to a stop after first charleston and then agree (or not) to second. Or can one person quickly pass tiles on and collect/rack from person to her right and say “sorry too late, I’ve racked” without ever discussing it?

    Hi, Tami! You wrote:

    Does all action come to a stop after first charleston
    No, that hardly ever happens, except when all are beginners and uncertain if it's okay to start the second dance or not.

    and then agree (or not) to second.
    It's nice if that happens.

    Or can one person quickly pass tiles on and collect/rack from person to her right and say “sorry too late, I’ve racked” without ever discussing it?
    That happens a lot, unfortunately. Especially when the group is accustomed to just always having 2 dances*, or when that one person is accustomed to a very fast group, or when that one person is sick and tired of another player constantly stopping the Charleston**.

    *I have gotten emails from players whose groups have a "never stop the dance" rule.
    **I have gotten many emails from players who complain about a player who constantly stops the dance.

    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
    November 20, 2017


    Beginner questions about last year's card

    >From: Barbara R
    >Sent: Sunday, November 19, 2017 6:34 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We are a group of seniors who recently began playing mahjong. We are still using the 2016 card. Here is our question: In the eleven hands, can you do 6 and 5? Do you have to do the suits as shown? For example, could you do dots for 3’s and bams for 8’s and cracks for 1’s?
    >Thank you for your help. Barbara

    Hi, Barbara!
    FYI, you can see the FAQs for the 2016 card at http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/2016.html.

    You asked...

    In the eleven hands, can you do 6 and 5?
    Long answer: The League's intent is that every player must play from the same exact list of hands - that's the entire purpose for printing the card. This intent would be thwarted if people start imagining extensions of the printed list, perceiving patterns and extending them to other patterns not printed on the card. The whole strategy of the game is in knowing or guessing what hands other players might be making from the printed list.

    Short answer: no, you can't.

    Do you have to do the suits as shown?
    That question makes no sense. The card does not specify any suit. Yes, there are colors, but colors do not dictate suit. Just imagine that the colors on the card are black, orange, and purple. Read on...

    For example, could you do dots for 3’s and bams for 8’s and cracks for 1’s?
    Read FAQ 19-BY and FAQ 19-J. You can link to the FAQs above left. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    November 19, 2017


    Playing Tenhou in English

    >From: Graeme H
    >Sent: Saturday, November 18, 2017 6:05 PM
    >Subject: Tenhou in English Chrome and Firefox add-ons
    >Hi there,
    >Just thought that you'd like to know that there are now add-ons for the Chrome and Firefox browsers that let you play Tenhou in English via the Tenhou HMTL5 web version.
    >The one for Firefox https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tenhou-english/
    >And here for Chrome https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/tenhou-english-ui/cbomnmkpjmleifejmnjhfnfnpiileiin
    >They seem to work perfectly.
    >You probably know about them already, but I just thought I'd drop you a line in the off-chance you didn't. I know it's a frequent bug bear to non Japanese speakers who want to play online.
    >Thank you for the information on your website, along with your book, it has helped me a lot.
    >Kind regards,
    >Graeme H
    >Scotland

    Very nice, Graeme! Thanks for sharing the info - I'll add it to the Tenhou listing in FAQ 5. Scratch that, I'll add a Tenhou listing in FAQ 5 with that information included!
    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
    November 19, 2017


    David P's flowers (was "Is my set of any value")

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2017 11:11 PM
    >Subject: David P's set.
    >Hi Tom,
    >I thought David P (Nov 12th and 13th) may be interested in knowing a bit more about the flower tiles in his set; which as you suggest are exquisitely carved.
    >
    >The flowers have a couple of phrases that I don't see too often on mahjong tiles, one of which is my favourite found on tiles. The phrases refer to feminine beauty, and originate from stories of the four most beautiful woman in Chinese folklore, Diaochan, Yang Yuhuan, Xi Shi and Wang Zhaojun.
    >
    >One phrase is 閉月羞花, bìyuè-xiūhuā, hiding the moon, shaming the flowers.
    >

    >
    >In the Han Dynasty, Wang Yun had a singer (or more likely, concubine) Diaochan. One night Diaochan goes in to the garden and sings to the full moon; but the moon quickly hides itself behind clouds. Wang Yun sees this and says that Diaochan is more beautiful than the moon, she "outshines the moon".
    >
    >In the Tang Dynasty, Yang Yuhuan was taken as the imperial concubine by the Emperor because of her great beauty. On arrival at the palace and before she saw the emperor, Yang Yuhuan went in to the gardens; as she looked at or touched the flowers they would immediately close up. Her maids of honour said this happened because the flowers were less beautiful than Yang, and so the flowers hid themselves in shame.
    >
    >The othe phrase (and my favourite) is 沉魚落雁, chényú luòyàn, to make fish sink and wild geese alight.
    >
    >Xi Shi lived during the Spring and Autum period. One day, she and a group of her friends went to a nearby river to wash yarn. The water was so clear that they could see shoals of fish swimming in the water. The fish, too, could see the girls very clearly. The fish were so overwhelmed by the unparalleled beauty of Xi Shi, they forgot to swim and sank to the bottom of the river.
    >
    >Wang Zhaojun was another beautiful maiden who lived during the Han dynasty. Wang Zhaojun was sent as a gift to the king of an enemy country to pacify any desire for conflict. On her way to the distant north country, a flock of wild geese flying above her were so overcome by her beauty that they forgot to flap their wings and fell heavily to the ground.
    >
    >The phrases are used together, if a girl's beauty is overwhelming, she is said to have features that can make fish sink and birds alight, and looks that can outshine the moon and put the flowers to shame.
    >Ray

    Charming! Thanks, Ray!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    November 17, 2017


    Derivation of Japanese terms

    >From: Peter Y
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 11:44 PM
    >Subject: Question about Riichi
    >Hello, Mr. Sloper,
    >could you please tell, how exactly the "dora" term translates from Japanese? I know what it means, but what are its origins? Was it derived from "door" somehow? And I also found a term for dora indicator - "mekuripai" (one that opens in the dead wall). Do you know how it translates as well? Thank you very much.
    >With best regards,
    >Peter

    Hi, Peter!
    Interesting questions:

    could you please tell, how exactly the "dora" term translates from Japanese? I know what it means, but what are its origins?
    I can only guess that it's short for the English word "dragon" (which the Japanese would pronounce "doragon"). Everybody knows mah-jongg is from China, and Chinese dragons are an appealing part of Chinese mythology - so all non-Chinese forms of mah-jongg use the term "dragon" in one way or another. In Taiwanese mah-jongg, a "dragon" is what's called a "snake" in Western mah-jongg (1 through 9 in any suit). In western forms of mah-jongg, the Three Scholars are called "dragon tiles." So the Japanese also have a dragon.
    That's my guess, anyway.

    And I also found a term for dora indicator - "mekuripai" (one that opens in the dead wall). Do you know how it translates as well?
    I had never heard the term before you brought it up. I looked it up - the verb mekuru means to "roll up" so mekuripai means "rolled-up tile" or "flipped over tile."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    November 15, 2017


    If a player has not racked a tile and just laid it down on the table

    >From: Sharon W
    >Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 5:56 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player has not racked a tile and just laid it down on the table, can the next player go back to the previous players tile that she missed calling for and call it?
    >Sharon W

    Hi, Sharon!
    Welcome to my website. You're asking about the "window of opportunity" to claim a discard. Read column 458, column 639, FAQ 19A, and FAQ 19C. Any one of those will probably answer your question well enough, but if you read them all, the answer should be crystal clear.
    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
    November 14, 2017


    Is my set of any value, part 2

    >From: David P
    >Sent: Monday, November 13, 2017 10:15 PM
    >Subject: Re: Thank you for your time is my set of any value or was it just a fun thought to think so?
    >Thank you for getting back with me I guess a more direct question would be if I was trying to sell my set would you be able to tell me what a fare price would be based on the pictures and info I sent? I don't want to over price it and have it sitting around for years yet I don't want to give it away either.
    >Thank you and I pray you have a blessed day!
    >David Perry

    Good morning, David. You didn't provide a picture of the box, and you didn't couch the condition of the components in collectors/appraisers terminology, as per FAQ 7H. So I'm shooting in the dark here.

    Those slide-top box sets' tiles are usually smaller than the tiles of the drawer-box tiles. But you say your tiles measure 1 3/16” H x 13/16” W x ½ D, which is closer to regular size.

    You didn't say if the slide-top fits properly on the box, so I have to assume that it does. The bottom of the box is cracked, so I'm shooting in the dark and calling the box "Fair to Good." Since I can't see the quality of the paint? carving? on the box top, I have to go with "Fair" so as not to overvalue the set.

    Your tiles have Haversian System, and a 7C is smudged and an S is missing paint - I see smaller smudges or dirt on several other tiles. The condition of your tiles is also "Fair to Good," perhaps closer to "Fair." But there are desirable characteristics of your tiles: the craks' upper markings are green instead of black, and the flowers are very attractively carved.

    The set has no dice, sticks, chips, or paper materials. With no photo, I cannot see how the tiles fit into the box, to see if there is even room for those things. Those things might be missing, or they might never have been included in the first place. I can't tell. Shooting in the dark, I'm saying those things are missing, which reduces the value.

    Slide-top sets are generally not as valuable as drawer sets.

    I'm guessing it might be worth $80-90.
    May the tiles be with you sold.
    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
    November 14, 2017


    Charleston missteps with three left feet

    >From: Courtenay M
    >Sent: Saturday, November 11, 2017 9:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: three players we are at second left when east discovers she has 15 tiles instead of 14. another player decides to solve the problem by reaching over and taking two tiles off of east’s rack. East says you can’t do that. If I have too many tiles I am dead so there fore the other two players should continue to play. I thought there was a rule you never touch tiles on another players rack. So what to do since the the player who took the tiles off of easts rack is mad and wants to continue play with out calling east dead. East said lets just throw in and start over. Other player didn’t like that either and got angry and decided to pack up and go home. This happens frequently when we play someone winds up with too many tiles They don’t want to be declared dead so the group usually just lets them throw down the extra tile

    Hi, Courtenay! Sorry I took so long to reply. I took a weekend off from emails. Your email touches on several points...

    we are at second left when east discovers she has 15 tiles instead of 14. ... East said lets just throw in and start over.
    East has a copy of the official rulebook, does she? Because she's basically quoting rule 9 on page 18. Good for her! In my opinion, EVERY player should own (and read) the official rulebook.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    It was revised in 2013. Every table
    should have an up-to-date copy!

    another player decides to solve the problem by reaching over and taking two tiles off of east’s rack.
    You should show her FAQ 19-CF. (You can link to the FAQs above left).

    East says you can’t do that. ... I thought there was a rule you never touch tiles on another players rack.
    Actually, there is no printed rule that says that. It's a question of etiquette, not rules.

    If I have too many tiles I am dead so [therefore] the other two players should continue to play.
    Nobody goes dead during the Charleston - where's the fun in that?? What she said before (rule 9 on page 18).

    So what to do since the the player who took the tiles off of easts rack is mad and wants to continue play with out calling east dead. East said lets just throw in and start over. Other player didn’t like that either and got angry and decided to pack up and go home. This happens frequently
    The fix for this is simple: everybody needs to READ THE RULES. Your players are confused about what is a rule and what is an opinion - they need to all understand what the rules are, and what constitutes mere etiquette or strategy. The three are separate, and should not be confused.

    when we play someone winds up with too many tiles
    This is probably caused by a poor understanding of how the rules say the deal is supposed to happen - and/or a confused Charleston dance. It's totally common for players to get confused in the complicated Charleston dance. The best solution for that is to verbally (and clearly) announce what pass you are making, at the time you place your three tiles. "First right." "Across." "First left." "Second left." "Second across." "Last right." If everybody announces their passes, confusion is reduced. I love confusion reduction! And to complicate things even more, you are trying to orchestrate a made-up 3-person Charleston, which means people are even more likely to screw something up. See column 532.

    They don’t want to be declared dead so the group usually just lets them throw down the extra tile
    Read FAQ 14. You can link to the FAQs above left.

    I hope it goes better going forward! 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
    November 13, 2017


    Column 683

    >From: Joni D
    >Sent: Monday, November 13, 2017 4:48 AM
    >Subject: Column #683
    >Hi Tom - learning a lot from your column.
    >I have a question on Hand#6 - I see potential 369 #2. So 9D & 3C are hot.
    >Please let me know if I am seeing things. My assumption is that the exposure is not in hand order of the card.
    >Thanks, JoniD

    Hi, Joni!
    Let's see, column 683... July 23. Hand number 6, a kong of sixes in one suit and a pung of nines in another suit. You say 369 #2? No, the nines have to be a kong - not a pung. And yes, the exposures are not in card order. It is not advisable to put exposures atop the rack in card order. I always put them up in chronological order - as per FAQ 19-Z. Thanks for writing!
    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
    November 13, 2017


    Is my set of any value?

    >From: David P
    >Sent: Sunday, November 12, 2017 7:15 AM
    >Subject: Thank you for your time is my set of any value or was it just a fun thought to think so?
    >1. Write a factual detailed list
    >Wooden Box with 3 chambers inside bottom of the box is stamped “VKS 468”and it has a slide on lid with 2 Chinese letters and the words “Mait Jongg” it is dovetailed corners and has a crack on the bottom of the box.
    >2. IMPORTANT: Describe the condition of all the components of the set.
    >#5 Dots tiles look somewhat “grainy”
    >One of the #3 Bams has a chip / defect in the top left corner of the bone
    >One of the #7 Cracks has poor paint
    >One of the #S winds is missing most of its paint
    >One of the #7 Bams is missing paint on the 7
    >#5 & #6 Bams look somewhat “grainy”
    >3. What are the tiles made of ?
    >They are made of bone and bamboo
    >4. Describe what you know about when the set was made or purchased, if you know. Describe the history of the set to the best of your knowledge
    >I came across the set at a Good Will Store in November of 2017 what caught my eye was the tightness of the dovetailed tiles I then noticed that the set looked old and I started doing research on the set and that is all I know
    >5. What are the dimensions of the tiles?
    >1 3/16” H x 13/16” W x ½ D the bone is 5/16” from top of tile to bottom of the dovetail
    >6. How many tiles are there in the set?
    >36 Dots
    >36 Bams
    >36 Cracks
    >16 Winds
    >8 Dragons
    >8 Flowers
    >8 Blanks
    >0 Jokers
    >Total of “148”
    >Thank you and I pray you have a blessed day!
    >David P

    Hi, David! Sorry for the delayed response. I took the weekend off from emails. Your only question is a yes/no question:

    is my set of any value[?]
    Yes.

    You should read column 610, David. 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
    November 13, 2017


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

    >From: Betty D
    >Sent: Monday, November 6, 2017 5:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: After calling a player’s hand dead is it allowed to take the jokers used for earlier exposures or are they also classified as dead?
    >Thanks, Betty

    Hi, Betty!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-P. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    November 6, 2017


    Bakelite vs. catalin

    >From: Jacqueline M
    >Sent: Sunday, November 5, 2017 10:49 PM
    >Subject: Color of Bakelite tiles
    >I have 2 Mah Jong sets. One is Bakelite, I think, and the color of the tiles is a darker orange like butterscotch. Do the tiles darken naturally over time? Because of the dark color, is this set older or has it just been exposed to light more? This set is also very smooth. It is in a flat case with 2 trays, alligator skin like covering and velvet inside. The racks are also Bakelite, wood look with chips and pins on the end.
    >
    >The other is a Cardinal set made of Catalan. I think it is younger. The tiles are lighter in color. It also has a few minor blemishes if I look closely. It also was in a flat case and has varied colors of the racks with chips and pins on the end.
    >
    >So, is the color indicative of age or care or use? How does the color effect the value? Is Bakelite more durable than Catalan? Does one material color more than the other? Will the continue to Age? Should they be stored in the box to prevent further coloration?
    >Thank you for you help
    >Jacque' M

    Good morning, Jacque'!
    I've been told that tiles are catalin and racks are Bakelite because Bakelite is by nature quite dark. But take a look at FAQ 7c3; the two are similar plastics, possibly with different additives ("fillers").
    Tiles can darken with age and handling, but there's no precise understanding of how that works. As for value, what's best is tiles that can't be told from one another when stacked in a wall (if some tiles are easily distinguished from one another, that can decrease the value of the set). Sorry that I can't answer all your questions. I assume you've read FAQ 7C. You can link to FAQ 7C and FAQ 7c3 above left.
    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
    November 6, 2017


    game with mixed chows, part 2

    >From: kerrie j
    >Sent: Friday, November 3, 2017 3:29 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong game
    >Thanks Tom,
    >I would just like to combine our hand choices with a mixed chow and winds hand. Is it in one of your books and what is it called
    >Cheers kerrie
    >Kerrie

    Kerrie,
    You're asking me to scour through fourteen books and six websites, to find a hand that might or might not exist. I don't want to!
    Just call it "Windy Blossom," why don't you? Different authors give different names to the same hand - and use the same name to describe different hands. And people make up their own hands all the time (read FAQ 14). If you want to look at the six websites, see FAQ 4b. You can link to the Frequently Asked Questions above left.
    May the tiles be with you. Cheers!
    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
    November 3, 2017


    game with mixed chows and a pung and pair of winds

    >From: kerrie j
    >Sent: Wednesday, November 1, 2017 11:16 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong game
    >Hi Tom,
    >Do you know of a game with mixed chows and a pung and pair of winds.
    >Similar to apple blossom
    >Cheers Kerrie from australia
    >Kerrie

    G'day, Kerrie!
    I assume when you say "game" you don't mean "set of rules" but rather "hand." And since you're from Australia, I further assume you're asking about a hand in the Western/British/Australian rules, like the question from Anne M earlier this week, who asked about Little Robert and Gertie's Garter.
    Anne M's group was playing from one of the Thompson & Maloney companion books (which I found out only after searching fruitlessly through my large collection of mah-jongg books on Western rules, using Google to search the Web, and asking Anne to email me back again). I don't want to repeat that lengthy search based on my poor understanding of what you're looking for.
    So I looked in Mah Jong, Anyone? and didn't find this Apple Blossom hand, and then went straight back to T&M. I looked in the same book Anne M was using, and I found your Apple Blossom hand there. "Mixed chows," with dragons.

    Is this what you're asking about? A hand with "mixed chows," but with a pung and a pair of winds? ...

    And why are you asking, and why do you need to know? What is it you REALLY want to know? Are you in Anne's group, and you want to know if your group will recognize such a hand? Would it help you if another list of Western/British/Australian hands (in a book by a different author, or on some website) includes such a hand? Or does the hand have to be in the same book your group uses? If you are in Anne's group, then in my opinion you ought to use hands that are listed in the book your group is using.

    For all I know, the group would recognize any Western/British/Australian hand, from any book or website, as long as you can point to it. The problem with such a practice is that different books/websites may use different values for similar hands (overvaluing or undervaluing comparable hands). Since dragons are rarer than winds, for instance, an Apple Blossom variant with winds instead of dragons would be easier - thus should be valued lower.

    If you are asking me to see if I can find your Mixed Chows with Winds hand in Thompson & Maloney's The Mah Jong Player's Companion, then I decline. If you play using that book, you should study it so you can play from it - and so you can find hands in it when challenged by your opponents.
    May the tiles be with you. And cheers back atcha!
    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
    November 2, 2017


    The probability and difficulty, part 2

    >From: Jane S
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 9:02 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply

    You're welcome, Jane.


    The probability and difficulty of different hands

    >From: Jane S
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 7:16 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am trying to find information on the probability of different hands and the difficulty of achieving each. Is there anything that exists that you know of?
    >American
    >Thanks

    Good morning, Jane.
    As I mentioned in FAQ 19-CI, any player who calculates the probabilities of the hands of the National Mah Jongg League card would have to recalculate them every year, since the card changes every year, and the combinatorics would be different with each card. That's a daunting amount of mathematical work, and your assumption that some player of American mah-jongg is calculating that every year, and publishing it online, is surely fallacious.

    But let's talk generally, without mathematical analysis, about difficulty of hands on the yearly NMJL card. The factors affecting difficulty are:

  • Pairs (and singles)
  • Concealment
  • Value
  • Tile rarity

    Pairs - it should be obvious that pairs are harder to make than pungs or kongs, since jokers cannot be used and a pair cannot be made from a discard except for mah-jongg. That said, a four-pungs-and-one-pair hand is easy to make (which is why the League always marks those hands C for Concealed). Count the pairs in the hand; the more pairs, the harder the hand is. Kongs are a little more difficult than pungs, and quints are a bit more difficult than kongs. And singles are less difficult than pairs.

    Concealment - it is obvious that Concealed hands are a bit harder to make than eXposed hands (so much so that when I was speaking to 156 players at Merage JCC a couple weeks ago, a significant portion of them raised their hand when I asked how many avoid those hands). The easiest Concealed hands are the four-pungs-and-one-pair hands. The hardest Concealed hands are the S&P hands.

    Value - it should be obvious that the League values the hands according to difficulty (roughly speaking). Still, not all 25¢ hands are equally easy; some have no pairs, some have two pairs. And some have a "201x" (four singles, and one of them rare) in them. In general, it's safe to say that the higher the value is, the greater the difficulty.

    Rarity - of course, there are four of each tile, except for the flowers and jokers, meaning none of them is inherently rarer than another... but consider how they're used on the card. Suit tiles are used flexibly - that is to say, if a hand requires a two, you can use any two, and there are twelve possible twos to choose from. There are just 5 tiles that are called for inflexibly by the card: E, S, W, N, and soap. In most cases, when you see E on the card, that means the only tile you can use is E - and there are just four of those. Same for zero. But when you see D on the card, there are twelve possible Ds to choose from. The least rare tiles are, of course, flowers and jokers - not that they don't seem rare when you need a flower pair or just one more joker!

    I hope the above is helpful, because frankly, my dear, there just ain't any hard number calculations on probabilities, statistics, or combinatorics about American mah-jongg out 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
    October 31, 2017


    Can you recommend a mahjong set please

    >From: Lesley W
    >Sent: Monday, October 30, 2017 3:45 PM
    >Subject: Can you recommend a mahjong set please
    >Thank you, Lesley

    I'm sorry, Lesley, but I don't know how to help you with this request. I don't know what kind of mah-jongg you play, whether you and your group can read Chinese or not, or what your tastes are (maybe you want a new plastic set? maybe you want a "vintage" set? what's your favorite color? mine is yellow). I haven't bought a mah-jongg set in years, because I already have too many, so I haven't sampled recent selections. I recommend you click the "FAQ 4a Selected Links" link, above left. Then, when you land on the FAQ 4a page, click "Mah-Jongg Sets & Goods" to jump down to "Commercial Vendors and Suppliers." Try clicking on several of the links and check out their wares. If it's all too confusing for you, choose one vendor whose phone number you can find, and telephone them, and plead for mercy. They should be happy to help you choose a set. Happy shopping!
    May the tiles be with you (literally!).
    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
    October 30, 2017


    How can you use a discard to form a special set? (part 2)

    >From: anne m
    >Sent: Monday, October 30, 2017 2:56 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, thanks for your very detailed reply. I understand now. You ask about Little Robert, well it’s in the Mah Jong Players Companion by Thompson and Maloney and is described as a Chow in each suit, P/K + Pair in any suit. I don’t know if this version is similar to the T & M one you mentioned it has all the combinations illustrated but the description as to how to play, rules etc., are not particularly detailed. This is why we came unstuck when trying to pick up for Gertie’s Garter.
    >Do you think we would be best to find the other book by them. As beginners we are struggling. I also hasten to add that we are all senior citizens! We all belong to the U3A in our area. University of the Third Age. We set up groups to socialise and to learn new skills. They can range from card games to astronomy, in this case Mah Jong. The couple who set ours up only play the ‘ordinary’ game but one of the group had played the more complicated form. So we decided to have a go. Unfortunately the lady who has played it did so over 20 years ago and she remembers little.
    >If you can suggest anything that would help we would be very grateful.
    >Many thanks
    >Anne

    Good morning, Anne! I'm glad you returned with the answer to my question.

    You ask about Little Robert, well it’s in the Mah Jong Players Companion by Thompson and Maloney
    Darn that Patricia and Betty - they have 3 books, and after I checked 2 of them, I didn't bother checking the 3rd.

    and is described as a Chow in each suit, P/K + Pair in any suit.
    Then it's just a simple chows/pungs/pair hand, and I don't know why you mentioned it in the context of your question about how to claim a discard to complete a set.

    I don’t know if this version is similar to the T & M one you mentioned it has all the combinations illustrated but the description as to how to play, rules etc., are not particularly detailed. ... Do you think we would be best to find the other book by them. As beginners we are struggling.
    Yes, you need the book I showed in yesterday's reply. That one gives details about how to play. Their other two books do not (they are just companion books).

    I also hasten to add that we are all senior citizens!
    So am I. I don't see how that information changes anything.

    We all belong to the U3A in our area.
    I heard from another U3A mah-jongg player, last August. David of Folkestone asked about a "Shocking house rule." If you're curious to read that 2-part exchange, you can scroll down to read it (or search for the term "U3A" or "Strange Pung").

    The couple who set ours up only play the ‘ordinary’ game
    I don't know which one that is. There are many mah-jongg variants. You can see a list in FAQ 2B.

    but one of the group had played the more complicated form.
    Yes, British/Australian rules are complicated in their own way.

    So we decided to have a go.
    When I teach absolute beginners, I always start them off with simplified rules to make sure they have the basics down, before getting into the specific complications of their chosen variant.

    Unfortunately the lady who has played it did so over 20 years ago and she remembers little.
    Not unusual. Not all players are good teachers.

    If you can suggest anything that would help we would be very grateful.
    All players in your group should purchase the same book, and read it (including your player who's forgotten how to play). Since you're already using a T&M companion book, get The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated. It's readily available at the usual online booksellers. And bookmark my FAQ 20, where all the frequently asked questions about un-American mah-jongg are answered.

    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
    October 30, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 5

    >From: Belinda - Frontier
    >Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2017 4:54 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Picking up the wrong discard
    >In your retraction you quoted the recent newsletter as follows:
    >2017 (Larry Unger):
    >Q: When is a player committed to take a discarded tile from the table?
    >A: You are committed to a call when you have either exposed tiles from your hand, or placed the called tile on top of your rack.
    >In Larry's answer he states "placed the called tile on top of your rack". I believe that the critical term is "called tile". If someone picks up the wrong tile, s/he did not pick up the "called tile". Therefore I would think that this answer does not apply to someone who picked up the wrong tile. What do you think?
    >Bee

    Thanks, Bee, but I think I'll stick with my retraction. Yes, the wording of the 2017 rule is rather broad, but I'm satisfied that it covers Joan and Carla's situation. On another occasion, when a slightly different unanticipated event takes place, I might still re-interpret it. That's the way with broadly written rules; they're open to interpretation.
    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
    October 29, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 4

    This is a retraction. I'm revisiting what I said to Carla C on Oct. 24th, and what I wrote in the Oct. 29th column (#691). I rechecked my sources on the "change of heart" rule as it applies to picking up a discard. My original interpretation was based on this ruling from a National Mah Jongg League newsletter:

      2007 (Ruth Unger):
      Once a tile has been called for exposure and the exposure is put on top of the rack, player may add to the exposure or take away from the exposure as long as player has not discarded...but...PLAYER CANNOT DECIDE THAT SHE DID NOT WANT THE TILE SHE CALLED FOR EXPOSURE< (sic) PUT THE DISCARD BACK ON THE TABLE, AND THE OTHER TILES [back] INTO HER RACK...A CALL FOR A TILE IS JUST LIKE A PICK FROM THE WALL, ONCE TAKEN...IT CANNOT BE PUT BACK.

    That ruling refers to "exposure" - one could also loosely interpret this to include mah-jongg, but Ms. Unger did not specifically include mah-jongg in her ruling. I checked the most recent newsletter and found this:

      2017 (Larry Unger):
      Q: When is a player committed to take a discarded tile from the table?
      A: You are committed to a call when you have either exposed tiles from your hand, or placed the called tile on top of your rack.

    This is a wider-ranging statement, since it does not limit the rule to simple exposure. I was mistaken when I told Carla: "Unless I am mistaken (and I often am), there is no written rule that specifically says that a player must 'play with the tile she picked up,' including a mah-jongg declaration play." In addition, I was wrong when I wrote in column #691: "There is no written rule that specifically says that a player who picks up a wrong tile in the course of mah-jongg cannot rectify the error." The 2017 newsletter rule does indeed say that (albeit broadly rather than specifically).

    Thus I'm retroactively striking out my incorrect statements. Carla was not incorrect in calling Joan dead for picking up the wrong tile. It was a bit strict (and I still would let Joan have the win), but rules are rules.
    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
    October 29, 2017


    How can you use a discard to form a special set?

    >From: anne m
    >Sent: Sunday, October 29, 2017 5:11 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi my friends and I are just learning and we would like to know please: if you are trying to make a specific ‘set’ e.g Gertie garter, or little Robert, how do pick up from the discarded tiles. We have always played the original sort where you declare a Pung or chow, but how to you pick up when going for the a complete ‘set’?
    >Hope you understand what I’m asking, difficult to explain. My mah-jongg question or comment is: Thank you Anne M

    Hi, Anne!
    I understand your question perfectly, but I'm confused as to what book or website you are using as your rulebook. Since you mentioned Gertie's Garter, I assume you are playing a Western-style ruleset (Australian or British or Wright-Patterson). I dug through my books to find the two hands you mentioned. It was easy to find Gertie's Garter, which is described as either "one through seven in one suit and one through seven in a second suit" or "knitted pairs of one through seven, in two suits only."

    Based on your question, I assume your rulebook uses the former description. Since you say you "have always played the original sort where you declare a Pung or chow," I assume that you already know that you can never claim a discard to expose a pair (except for mah-jongg). So I assume your question is based on how one can claim a discard to expose a run of seven.

    You can't.

    The only sets you may expose from a discard are chows*, pungs*, and kongs. And of course you can go mah-jongg on a discard, no matter how the discarded tile is used in your hand.
    *(A chow is a run of three sequential numbers in one suit; a pung is three identical tiles.)

    So now I've answered your question, but your email raises a huge question for ME! You mentioned "Little Robert" in the context of your question, so I tried to find Little Robert in my library of books. In looking for Little Robert, I checked all these books (I just mention author names because titles always sound too similar):

  • Max Robertson
  • Wright-Patterson
  • Dieter Kohnen
  • K. J. Carkner
  • David Pritchard (Teach Yourself)
  • Headley & Seeley (BMJA)
  • Thompson & Maloney
  • Jelte Rep
  • Strauser & Evans (& Sloper) - finally it occurred to me to check this one too. Although I'm listed as a co-author, I really just edited it and added a chapter. No Little Robert.

    "Little Robert" was not listed in any of those books. Then I decided to go online and use Google. I found some mentions:

  • I found "Little Robert" on "smoothguide," a UK website where it says "All the information collected was from players of the game.  Mostly written on scraps of paper, or typed with carbon copies..." Smoothguide describes Little Robert as: "Four chows in one suit, pair of any suit." But that doesn't seem to fit with what you are asking, Anne. So I kept looking.
  • I found a 1994 list of hands including "Big Robert" on rec.games.board - a newsgroup I never frequented back when I was active on the rec.games.mahjong group. No Little Robert.
  • An Australian player mentioned Little Robert in 2013 on this board (http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive25.htm) but without a description.
  • And I found a question about it from 2009 on this board (http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd-archive9.htm). Guess what? I searched for "Little Robert" to no avail eight years ago already! Reading those 2013 and 2009 questions on this board, I realized that when I went through the books I totally forgot to check Thomas Glass and Nancy McKeithan. Not that it would have mattered.
  • In "Hillsboro Mahjong" ( a 2012 online booklet by Denny Barlow, referencing Max Robertson) I found "Chow in each suit, Pung and pair in different suits." Again, I don't see how that fits with what you are asking. And I'm not sure where "Hillsboro" is, but it might be in the Bahamas.
  • On spela.online/mahjong-specialhander/ I found "Tre 'blandade chower' ( t ex bambu 1, tecken 2, och cirkel 3), ett     par i vindar och en pong i drakar eller tvärtom." Sounded to me like knitted chows. I use Google Chrome, and made the browser translate it for me: "Three "mixed chowers" (eg bamboo 1, characters 2, and circle 3), a pair of winds and a pong in dragons or vice versa."
  • Finally (silly me) I searched the Mah-Jongg folder here on my computer. I found it in two files a player in Freeport, the Grand Bahamas, sent to me in 2009: "Little Robert: Chow, 1 each suit - 1 P and 1pr (no W or D) ½."

    So we have these varying definitions of "Little Robert":

    1. Four chows in one suit, pair of any suit. (Smoothguide, UK)
    2. Chow in each suit, Pung and pair in different suits. (Hillsboro - Bahamas? Oregon USA?)
    3. Three mixed chows, a pair of winds and a pong in dragons or vice versa. (spela.online, Sweden)
    4. Chow, 1 each suit - 1 P and 1pr (no W or D) (Freeport, Grand Bahamas)

    Anne, since you are not asking about using a discard to expose a chow, you must be asking about "knitted" or "mixed" chows. And as I already explained above, you can claim a discard only for a normal chow, a normal pung, a kong, or for mah-jongg. But to get to MY question for YOU, Anne:

    What book or website are you using for your guide to this style of mah-jongg? Where on earth did you find "Little Robert" described? And how does your guide describe Little Robert? Also, I would love to see your guide, so I can see if it is a suitable guide for you. I suspect it is not suitable (since it does not mention what discards may be used for). I recommend you get either Thompson & Maloney's "The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated," or the Strauser & Evens (& Sloper) book, "Mah Jong, Anyone?" Neither book describes Little Robert, but you can always adopt any special hands you want (see FAQ 14, above left).

    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
    October 29, 2017


    A discard was misnamed, part 3

    >From: "judyr
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 9:58 PM
    >Subject: Re: Mahj Jongg question....
    >Tom, I think you misread my account. It was a tournament. Someone threw a flower, but said white dragon. Another individual called mahj on the white dragon....but...it was a flower! The judges awarded the mahj anyway. Meaning the judges counted the flower as a white dragon!! Reading the rule on the back of the card makes this incorrect. The tile discarded must be identified correctly for there to be a mahj or an exposure. Right?

    Good morning, Judy.

    Tom, I think you misread my account. It was a tournament. Someone threw a flower, but said white dragon. Another individual called mahj on the white dragon....but...it was a flower!
    Yes. You were clear on this in your first email. Sorry about my first response, in which I hadn't noticed that this was a tournament.

    The judges awarded the mahj anyway. Meaning the judges counted the flower as a white dragon!!
    No. It means the judges awarded mah-jongg based on what the discarder said. The judges did this because in the circumstance of a misnamed ("miscalled") discard for mah-jongg, this is what the rule says.

    Reading the rule on the back of the card makes this incorrect.
    You're talking about only the first two sentences: "MISCALLED TILE: A tile cannot be claimed until correctly named. Correctly named tile may then be called for an Exposure or Mah Jongg." I think you didn't read the third and fourth sentences of the paragraph on the card. (I will address the difference in meaning between those sentences; bear with me.)

    The tile discarded must be identified correctly for there to be a mahj or an exposure. Right?
    Read the third sentence: "HOWEVER, if Mah Jongg is called with the incorrectly named tile, the game ceases."

    Let me paint two scenarios to illustrate the difference between the meaning of the first sentence and the second sentence.

    I am waiting for a flower to complete my hand. Another player discards a flower (I can see that it's a flower) but she says "white." I cannot call it, because it has not been correctly named. But none of the other players is looking, and nobody realizes she misnamed the tile - and another player is reaching for the wall! What should I do? I should do what I always do when someone misnames a tile - I talk to her: "That's not a white dragon." When she says "flower," then I can say "mah-jongg."
    That is the meaning of the first and second sentences. "MISCALLED TILE: A tile cannot be claimed until correctly named. Correctly named tile may then be called for an Exposure or Mah Jongg."

    I am waiting for a white dragon to complete my hand. Another player discards a flower and names it "white," but I am not looking - only listening. I say "mah-jongg!" Oopsie! What's supposed to happen now? The rule says I win, even though what she discarded was really a flower. The rule says, "HOWEVER, if Mah Jongg is called with the incorrectly named tile, the game ceases. Miscaller pays claimant four times the value of the hand. Others do not pay." When you see "HOWEVER," that means the previous sentence is void if the "however" circumstance exists.
    The judges ruled correctly.

    The thing that caused the brouhaha was that two people were waiting for mah-jongg, one waiting for the named tile and one for the tile actually discarded. I'm curious whether the dissenters were unanimous in what they thought the judges should have done. I'll bet some were of one opinion, and others were of a second opinion. I'll bet there wasn't unanimity.
    Did everyone think that the player who was waiting for the flower (the tile actually discarded) should have won, despite the third sentence? I highly doubt that it was unanimous (everyone in the tournament, not counting the judges and the player who wanted soap). I take it that's what you believe, and that there were others who agreed with you.
    Or did everyone think both players (the flower winner and the soap winner) should have won? Having two players win is not supported by the American rules. I doubt there was a unanimous vote on this side.

    It comes down to the fact that an error occurred. The misnamer deserved to be penalized for giving mah-jongg in the course of making an error. The player who wanted the named tile deserved the win, because that's what the rules say. The rule governing her claim follows the word "HOWEVER" on the card, meaning her claim takes precedence over the player who wanted the tile that was actually discarded.
    The judges ruled correctly.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    October 28, 2017


    A discard was misnamed, part 2

    Judy, I just now re-read the below, and found something I'd missed before when I first read your question. I hadn't noticed that this happened in a tournament. I have a couple of thoughts about that.
    A tournament judge has to make a ruling on the spot, and in the case of American mah-jongg tournaments, there may or may not be a second or third judge to consult with. In international tournaments (Chinese or Japanese mah-jongg), it does sometimes happen that judges might rethink an earlier ruling (but it has to happen during the tournament, which in American mah-jongg is usually a one-day event). But in essence, a judge's ruling is what it is, and the players have to abide by it. It sounds like there was mass dissension at your event, and that's unusual and unfortunate.
    Your judge ruled based on the rules given in the NMJL rulebook, on page 17 (rule 6) and restated on the back of the NMJL card. It sounds to me like the mass dissension at your event was from people who have not read the rulebook or the back of the card.
    I don't know what the majority of dissenters at the tournament thought the judge should have done - in a tournament, wins are scored with points, rather than coins. Did your dissenters think the flower caller should have been given the win? Did nobody think that might be unfair to the player who heard "white" and needed white to win? Did your dissenters think both callers should have been awarded the win? Was there universal agreement on the preferred alternate ruling? That would have required a deviation from the official rules, and an unusually difficult decision for a judge who was backed up by an existing printed rule from the National League. Any ruling other than the printed ruling on the back of the card and in the rulebook would have been most unusual.
    My apologies for not noticing before that you said this happened in a tournament. My answer would have been worded slightly differently if I hadn't been hasty in my reading of the question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    October 27, 2017 9:33 PM


    A discard was misnamed, causing a problem. What now?

    >From: "judyr
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 4:30 PM
    >Subject: Mahj Jongg question....
    >Major battle over this one! An individual threw a tile and said "white dragon" (it was really a flower) and another individual called mahj on the white dragon, that was really a flower! What happens? Another individual would have had mahj on the tile that was actually thrown which was a flower. It was a tournament and the individual was awarded mahj on the erroneous white dragon, that wasn't a white dragon at all, but a flower. I don't this is right.....I think the other individual that needed the flower for mahj should have been awarded mahj. What's right? Judy R

    Hi, Judy.
    It's a shame that your group got into a "major battle" over something that could have been settled very quickly and easily by simply having the official rulebook handy - or turning over the card and reading the rule on the back.


    This is the League's official rulebook.
    Every table should have a copy!


    Every player should read the back of the NMJL card every year.
    Many frequently asked questions are answered on the card.

    And of course, you could also find the rule here on my website, in the Frequently Asked questions (link above left). You want FAQ 19-AY.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    October 27, 2017


    I live near you, part 2

    >From: "mls88888
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 9:50 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mahjong
    >Will do. Thanks much!

    You're welcome!


    Can I call myself dead? (FAQ 19-AC) - Can a joker be redeemed from a dead player's rack? (FAQ 19-P)

    >From: Rose V
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 6:10 AM
    >Subject: 10-17-17 Question about dead hand
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am a beginner and this is what occurred: I had 3 exposures on my rack when I realized that I had only 12 tiles in my rack. I declared my hand dead. The question is: Can the other players take/replace the jokers in my my exposures that were called before I declared my hand dead? We have some area of disagreement so please help us solve this problem.
    >Rosed V.

    Hi, Rose! Welcome to my website! In addition to this Q&A board and my column, another thing available here on my site is the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions about American mah-jongg in FAQ 19. You can link to the FAQs above left. You think you've asked one FAQ, but actually there's another FAQ contained in what you wrote:

    I declared my hand dead.
    But are you allowed to do that?? Read FAQ 19-AC.

    Can the other players take/replace the jokers in my exposures that were called before I declared my hand dead?
    First you have to figure out when your hand went dead. To have only 12 tiles in your hand when making an exposure, you must have (1) forgotten to take your last tile during the deal and discarded without first picking, or (2) twice discarded without picking. If #1 is what happened, then you've been dead the whole time but didn't know it. If #2 is what happened, then you've been dead since the first time you discarded without picking. If you don't know which one happened, then you should assume you've been dead the whole time. Then, read FAQ 19-P - you'll find the answer to your question there (now that you know when you went dead).

    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    October 27, 2017


    I live near you - surely you know many players and games that are in need of players here in our area?

    >From: "mls88888aol.com
    >Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2017 8:27 PM
    >Subject: Mahjong
    >Hello,
    >I live in Santa Monica and am looking to find people to play with. Since you teach and surely know many players, thought you might know of some games in need of players--or even to sub in from time to time?
    >I am happy to travel ... to West L.A. or Beverly Hills or ...
    >Thanks much,
    >Margery

    Hi, Margery!
    Yeah, that's a logical thought, but no. I do know players in the area, but I don't know of any games looking for players, and I don't like playing matchmaker (giving you those players' contact info, or giving your contact info to everyone I know in the area) - so the best I can do is post your request on my Find Players Bulletin Board. Locals who know me know that I have these bulletin boards, and maybe somebody who needs a player will see this conversation and email you. And I highly recommend that you go on the Find Players Bulletin Board and look for posts from local players there. You can search the page for neighborhood names or zip codes. That really is the best I can do.
    Good luck finding some games!
    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
    October 27, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 4

    >From: "linda z
    >Sent: Friday, October 27, 2017 6:16 AM
    >Subject: Carla and Joan's game
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am glad I do not play MJ with this group! If a simple error such as Joan's occurs and is easily rectified we let it slide. (Look at your example in your tournament!) Right now we have new players and we point out the rule she has broken and allow her to correct it. If an experienced player breaks a rule we enforce it by acclaim--if the other players want to excuse a minor error we all let it slide. We have one lady with early dementia and we're pretty gentle with her. This attitude evolved from us wanting to enjoy each other's company and chat and laugh a little while we play. My former group played for money and they were a little more strict about enforcing the rules. I wonder if that was the case with Joan? My philosophy is: it's only a casual game, and is it worth $1 to be so petty? Rules are important but so is harmony and friendliness in the group (and in life!) I'd like your opinion.
    >Thanks, Linda

    Thanks, Linda. I have already stated my opinion. Since you clearly agree with me, then ipso facto I agree with 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
    October 27, 2017


    What does "concealed" mean?

    >From: Doris
    >Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2017 6:21 AM
    >Subject: Question about a concealed hand
    >Do you just use tiles you drew and not use tiles from the discards of others?

    Yes, Doris. The last tile is the exception. With a concealed hand, you are allowed to take the winning tile from someone's discard, but all the tiles up to that point must be self-picked. Read FAQ 19-AQ. You can link to the FAQs above left - and all of the most frequently-asked questions about mah-jongg are answered in FAQ 19. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Please always check the FAQs to see if your question is already answered, before asking a question.
    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
    October 26, 2017


    Chinese writing, part 3

    >From: heaton.ray
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 11:19 PM
    >Subject: Nancy P and her Chinese characters
    >Hi Tom,
    >The character you are unable to read [October 22, below] is 彂, which is pronounced "Fa" meaning "to issue".
    >I'm not surprised it was a struggle to read, but it may have been easier if the more common way of writing it had been used, as the character 彂 is equivalent to 發, often seen on mahjong tiles...part of "facai", to get rich! (See Faq7e regarding the Green Dragon tile, and the differing ways this can be pronounced).
    >I expect that the two characters together on the plaque (i.e. with the correctly identified 東, "dong", East) is a company name rather than a place name. 東彂, Dongfa.
    >Jumping to a different conclusion with no supporting evidence (!) I could suggest the meaning is a bit more tangential, "Shanghai and the East are getting rich", but that's a stretch!
    >Regards
    >Ray

    My hat's off to you, Ray! (Not that I wear a hat, much less a top hat, while working at my computer...)
    You have come through again! I didn't know about this other way of writing fa (). So, reading right to left and top to bottom, "Shanghai Dongfa." 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
    October 26, 2017


    Your future speaking engagements?

    >From: Merrill V
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 12:16 PM
    >Subject: Irvine talk
    >In your column #690, you wrote about doing a talk in Irvine, Ca. I live in South Orange County and would have loved to have my Mah Jongg club come to hear you.
    >How do I find out about your speaking engagements? Is there a 'list' I can get on for future events?
    >I really enjoy your columns. I try to read one each week before going into my Maj game... gives me a boost!
    >Thanks so much,
    >Merrill V

    Hi, Merrill!
    Here's the list of my future speaking engagements: . Did you blink? I don't have a list of future engagements. I do have a class beginning at AJU this Friday but that's a long way from South OC, and you don't sound like you need a beginner class. I'm glad you enjoy my columns. I'm sorry they can't be more regular. 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
    October 24, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 3

    >From: Pat L
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 24, 2017 10:45 AM
    >Subject: Joan's question
    >Hi, just wanted to respond to Joan's question. I was in that game. It is a rule that you must play with the tile you picked up. We felt, after reading your response, that you thought we were just being mean but we were just following the rules. We try to do that because if you let it slide one time and not the next then you eventually have a problem but if you play by the rules properly, it should be OK. Joan declared mah Jong, picked up the tile and put it on her rack and exposed the rest of her tiles. We always check the Mah Jongg hand. While checking her hand to determine correctness the error was discovered. She was declared dead because that is the rule. We weren't vindictive or mean, you can't let a rule slide for one person and not the next. We play together all the time and if you let rules slide, slide, then pretty soon you won't have rules. Thanks, Carla C

    Hi, Carla.
    I'm very glad to hear from the other side of Joan K's story. Really! I'd like to address your points:

    It is a rule that you must play with the tile you picked up.
    I agree with the concept in general, but let's be clear on this. The only hard-and-fast rules from the National Mah Jongg League exist in writing, either in the official rulebook or in a yearly newsletter.


    The official rulebook, and a newsletter/bulletin.
    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League receives a subscription
    to the newsletter, which is mailed every January.

    Unless I am mistaken (and I often am), there is no written rule that specifically says that a player must "play with the tile she picked up," including a mah-jongg declaration play. (If you can cite the rule from the League, I'll abide by it.) There is, however, a general principle about plays to which a player commits, based on physical movements of a tile. That principle is implied by certain rulings issued in newsletters, in response to frequently asked "change of heart" questions. The League has ruled definitively that when (a) picking a tile from the wall, (b) calling a discard, or (c) discarding a tile, the player must (as you have stated it), "play with the tile she picked up." But I have never seen a written rule that governs the specific case Joan K asked about - picking up the wrong tile in the course of a mah-jongg declaration.

    You're talking about a principle one can glean from other rules, but I've also gleaned another principle from other rules - "mah-jongg trumps everything." In your incident, everyone immediately recognized that Joan had simply picked up the wrong tile when displaying her hand. It's a simple matter to just let her correct her error at that moment.

    I committed a roughly similar error to Joan's at the 2017 WRC in Las Vegas two weeks ago. It was a world competition for Japanese riichi/dora majan. The elimination rounds had been completed, and the top 32 players had already been selected for the final round, to be shown on television in Japan - the remaining players were still playing with one another, for points (for their international standings). I was just a seat-filler at that point (I was a guest, not a full participant, in this world-class event). I declared mah-jongg on a discard, but the way I did it initiated a conversation. I did it the way shown at the top in this illustration:

    The taken discard is shown sideways. You see that I took the discarded 2-crak and used it to complete my pair (upper hand). The problem was, based on the rules of Japanese mah-jongg, I should have used the discarded 2-crak to instead complete the 2-3-4 chow (lower hand), because the low-scoring "pinfu" hand must be a two-way wait, not a one-way wait, to qualify as a valid mah-jongg declaration. I was waiting for either a 2-crak or a 5-crak, to complete the incomplete 3-4 combination at either end. Using it to complete the pair would be a single wait, not a 2-way wait.

    I made a mistake similar to Joan's, in other words. And this was an international competition, in which the other players were scoring their hands for international ranking records. Do you know what they did? They could have said that my mistake was "chombo" (a fatal error), but they didn't. They patiently and kindly reminded me of the rule, and let me simply move the 2-crak over to the chow and end the hand.

    The rules of Japanese mah-jongg are very detailed, much more so than the rules of American mah-jongg. If the international players could overlook a simple mistake like mine, in a high-profile televised competition, then your group could overlook Joan's simple easily-rectified error in a private friendly home game.

    We always check the Mah Jongg hand.
    Good! That's exactly what you should do! I wish every group always did that, too.

    She was declared dead because that is the rule.
    That's your rule - it's not in writing anywhere.

    if you let rules slide, slide, then pretty soon you won't have rules.
    I agree. But in this case the rule is inferred from a general principle that applies to lesser cases (picking a tile from the wall, calling a discard, discarding a tile) -- not to a mahj declaration. And this was a friendly game, not a high-stakes competition. And even if it was a competition, who knows how an impartial judge would have ruled on it?

    If you show a written ruling from the League that backs up your interpretation, I'll accept it. But I think your group was overly strict in your interpretation. Sorry if I made it sound like you were being mean, or vindictive - but I do think you were overly strict.

    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
    October 24, 2017


    Chinese writing on my box, part 2

    >From: Nancy P
    >Sent: Monday, October 23, 2017 10:36 AM
    >Subject: Re: Chinese characters on Mah Jong Box
    >Thanks so much!!!! That is very helpful. I am glad I could locate some of the answer. (Those were the easy ones - ha ha) - YOurs were the difficult ones!
    >Yes - I was thinking that other mark might be a locality in Shang Hai. There are a LOT of them!
    >N.K. P
    >Greensboro, NC

    That's just a guess, Nancy! Maybe another reader (I have one in mind) will be able to decipher 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
    October 23, 2017


    Chinese writing on my box

    >From: Nancy P
    >Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2017 8:24 PM
    >Subject: Chinese characters on Mah Jong Box
    >I believe I have the two on the right side - the top is shang (as in Shang Hai - or just meaning above). The bottom appears to be "east" - I do not know the the actual Chinese word. The two on the left - I have looked and looked and cannot match them - but I have no background whatsoever.
    >Can you help?
    >I am also interested in finding a sliding front piece for my wood box. It is quite nice - just missing that one piece.
    >Thank you!
    >N.K. P
    >Greensboro, NC

    Hi, Nancy!
    The top two characters are indeed "Shanghai." The character at the right center is indeed "East" (pronounced "dong"). The one on the left center, though, I can't decipher. I think it's 14 strokes, but I couldn't recognize it on MandarinTools (I also tried 13 strokes and 15 strokes). I imagine it'll turn out to be the name of a company, or a village or neighborhood in or near Shanghai.
    By the way, in the other photo, I see you have four poker dice with the set. I've always told people that they can take those out (that they do not belong with the set). But I've seen so many sets with poker dice included that I have to wonder. It doesn't make sense that they would be put in originally in China, though (poker dice are plastic, likely manufactured in America) - Perhaps American distributors or stores put them in? That, too, seems unlikely.
    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
    October 22, 2017


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake, part 2

    >From: Joan K
    >Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2017 7:57 AM
    >Subject: Re: Man Jongg rule
    >Mr Sloper I am very bad with computers so am sending answers to questions this way and I do appreciate your responses: answers to questions: a. Yes it was discovered as soon as I picked it up. B no. c: no D: casual game.
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi, Joan!
    Okay, that's a lot of helpful information. I understand now that this incident happened to you (that you were the one who was called dead) and it happened in a casual game, when you picked up the wrong tile in the course of a mahj declaration.
    Your other players were unnecessarily harsh, in my opinion. They could have simply let you replace the tile with the correct tile, and given you the win. Of course, it's too late to go back and ask to be paid now.
    I have to wonder if perhaps something else is going on with your group that would cause such a strict response.
    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
    October 22, 2017


    What is this practice called, part 2

    >From: "moore08moore
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 3:51 PM
    >Subject: Re: Imagine this questions about mah-jongg
    >Thanks for the response. But where are the rules for this particular type of play in MahJong? Do we go ahead with The Charleston etc. etc.???
    >Sent by CM

    Carolyn, you're making up your own rules, so I can't tell you what your rules are! I recommend you build walls and buy a rulebook. If you use the National Mah Jongg League card, you should buy the League's official rulebook, "Mah Jongg Made Easy." You can get it from the nationalmahjonggleague.org website. Or you can buy my book, "The Red Dragon and The West Wind," which also describes the League's rules (as well as the official Chinese rules). If you want to continue playing without building walls, read FAQ 14. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    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
    October 21, 2017


    Discrepancy between FAQ 19 and RDWW

    >From: Ellen F
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 1:57 PM
    >Subject: Discrepancy on your website re Erroneous exposure
    >Hi Tom,
    >I’m a big fan of yours and thought you might want to know about a discrepancy I detected concerning whether or not an exposure tile can be retracted. An issue regarding erroneous exposure occurred at my game recently. So, I checked Red Dragon West Wind and found this answer:
    >
    >As long as the player has not yet exposed tiles from her hand, she may retract her verbal call for the current discard. Calling for a discard, picking it up, and even racking it (putting it atop the flat portion of her rack) are all retractable actions, with no penalty. If she exposes tiles from her hand, though, she commits to making the exposure. She must take the discard and expose tiles from her hand, even if doing so results in her hand going dead.
    >
    >However, on sloperama.com, I saw this:
    >
    >A: 2. Calling a discard, either for an exposure or for mah-jongg. You can touch it or move it and change your mind. But once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (then you have crossed the line, and you may not backtrack - it's too late).
    >
    >So, I would appreciate your clarification on this issue.
    >Thank you,
    >Ellen

    Sharp eye, Ellen!
    This rule is on 3 places in the book: page 53 (rule 60.c), page 65 (rule 111), and page 97 (which is where you found it).
    Since the book was written ten years ago, I have not been able to make corrections appear in it. So what I have done instead is make the errata available for download here (actually, here). As I explained in the errata (rule 60.c), I misconstrued a rule given in a yearly newsletter. The January 2007 newsletter clarified it (after I'd submitted the final draft to the publisher), and since I wasn't able to make the book change, I have put the correct rule here in FAQ 19 (and in the errata). Putting the taken discard atop one's rack commits the player to the exposure.
    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
    October 21, 2017


    What is this practice called?

    >From: "moore08moore
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 1:42 PM
    >Subject: Imagine this questions about mah-jongg
    >Hi Tom, I have been enjoying your site and learning lots of new things thank you. I am chairman of a mah-jongg group here locally but have only been playing for about two years. So questions still arise.
    >What is it called when you are playing with no walls all tiles on the table and you draw from the table your tiles?
    >Trying to fill in the blank’s. Thank you again
    >Carolyn
    >Sent by CM

    Hi, Carolyn!
    That practice doesn't have a name. I use it the first day of teaching a new group of utter novices, but it's not recommended for regular play since it enables cheating. What to call it? How about these:
    Piles o' tiles;
    Up against the wall... you know, the one that doesn't exist!
    Men build too many walls and not enough bridges (Joseph Fort Newton);
    Balls to the wall (which refers to fighter plane controls pushed all the way forward - probably not whatever you were thinking) (but except for the dots, there aren't any balls in mah-jongg);
    The No Wall of China;
    Building walls? Who's got time for that?
    Call it whatever you want, Carolyn!
    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
    October 21, 2017


    When a second lemming leaps off the cliff, is she dead?

    >From: "mamzs
    >Sent: Saturday, October 21, 2017 7:06 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Question
    >Someone declared Mah Jongg then exposed her hand and it was a wrong call. She did not have Mah Jongg. We told her that she was dead.
    >I did not expose my hand but the woman across from me had 4 three bams and 4 one bams already exposed and then she exposed her 3 five bams
    > showing us that all she needed for Mah Jongg was one more five bam. She did not expose her two flowers. I told her that she was dead for
    > exposing the five bams. She said that because she did not expose the flowers that she was not dead.
    >Who was right?
    >Would appreciate hearing from you.
    >Marilyn S

    You were right, Marilyn. Like a lemming*, your opposite had lept off the cliff right behind the erroneous winner. You are now in a two-player game but all four will pay the winner.

    * No insult intended to your opposite. I have long used the lemmings analogy for this sort of situation. It's in FAQ 19-BW and I also used it last Friday, the thirteenth, in "What if three players go dead, part 2," in response to a question From: Cheryl S (below).  Your opposite can't simply expose a set from her hand - she clearly did it during the traditional "Kvetching Time" that follows immediately after a mahj declaration (and before the traditional "Who threw that" and "How much do I owe"),** and she was wrong to do so. She is 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
    October 21, 2017

    ** I was speaking ironically/facetiously when I called these practices "traditional." The proper and correct sequence is: first, all players verify the validity of the winning hand and actually listen as the winner says how much each player owes, then all players pay the winner, before displaying their own kvetch-worthy situations or destroying the wall. - Tom


    What if the winner picked up the wrong discard by mistake?

    >From: Joan K
    >Sent: Friday, October 20, 2017 8:33 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:if you call a tile for mah Jongg and accidentally pick up the tile next to it by mistake are you out and the game continues even though the correct tile was thrown?

    Hi, Joan!
    Interesting question. I'm going to need more information about this mistake. I assume this actually happened to someone in your group.

    Was the mistake noticed immediately, before anything else happened? I mean, when the player said "mahj" and displayed her hand with the wrong tile, did someone immediately say "you picked up the wrong tile"?
    Or was the mistake noticed later, after another player had thrown in her hand, or destroyed the wall to find out where her winning tile was?
    Or was the mistake noticed and spoken only after the players had paid the winner?

    Also: did this happen in a casual game, or did it happen in a tournament?

    I think the circumstances are crucial to the answer, so I must decline to answer until I know more. A principle that could govern this may be hinted at in a yearly NMJL newsletter ruling, or it may be necessary to fall back on "Philosophy #5" in FAQ 9 (above left) since this particular odd mistake was not anticipated by the writers of the official rulebook.
    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
    October 21, 2017


    Did they know what they were doing?

    >From: Margie G
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:31 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks so much for answering my question! I started playing Mahj in Cleveland, a year or so ago. I just came from Florida, where my Mom played with different rules like discarding before picking a tile, which frankly makes no sense to me. They also play with 14 tiles. The whole thing seemed strange to me.
    >Did they know what they were doing???
    >Thanks ahead for your clarification of this confusion.
    >Gratefully,
    >Margie

    Hi, Margie!
    "Did they know what they were doing?" I'm guessing yes. I'm guessing they know that they play with a "future tile" (also known as "picking ahead" and "playing with 14 tiles"). If you look on my Find Players bulletin board and search for the number 14 (or the words "fourteen" or "future") you'll find a lot of other players who also know what they are doing.
    If you want more information on the way those folks play, you can read FAQ 19-R and FAQ 19-BQ (and FAQ 14). I wrote about it on page 121 in my book, too. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    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
    October 18, 2017


    Joker exchange etiquette

    >From: "ssndvdsn
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 1:36 PM
    >Subject: Joker Exchange Etiquette
    >Tom,
    >I know this is not a rule, but I consider it good etiquette to ask for someone's joker when making an exchange rather than touching their rack and making the exchange yourself. Do you agree?
    >Thank you,
    >Susan

    Yes, Susan. That's what I wrote in FAQs 19-M and 19-CF. You can link to the FAQs above left.
    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
    October 17, 2017


    Creative accounting practices (Frequently Asked Question 19-BH)

    >From: Jan H
    >Sent: Saturday, October 14, 2017 6:23 AM
    >Subject: Is Zero a Number?
    >If zero is a "number" which comes before one ... is it appropriate to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 dots), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as previous 3) in the second consecutive run hand on the 2017 National League Card?
    >And/or -- do the 4 (following the white dragons) have to be dots making it possible to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 of any suit), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as the previous 3) a possible hand?
    >Thanks for your attention ...
    >Jan

    Good morning, Jan!
    Welcome to my website! You asked:

    If zero is a "number" which comes before one ... is it appropriate to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 dots), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as previous 3) in the second consecutive run hand on the 2017 National League Card?
    You are not the first to ask this question. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to this particular question: Please read FAQ 19-BH. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer (your question is in the section of questions about THE CARD), or you can search the page for keywords (in this case, the word "zero"). Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    do the 4 (following the white dragons) have to be dots making it possible to play
    >3 white dragons, 4 (1 of any suit), 3 (of another suit), and 4 (of same suit as the previous 3) a possible hand?
    You're asking if white dragons are still associated with dots when used as zeroes. That question is answered in red text at the top of your NMJL card. You should read everything 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
    October 14, 2017


    What if three players go dead, part 2

    >From: Cheryl S
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 5:00 PM
    >Subject: Re: American Mahjong question
    >Thank you. I did read it before I sent the email, but was confused because of how we went dead. On the back of the card there were 3 points in this regard, but it seemed to differentiate between an exposure on a concealed hand and in calling Mahj incorrectly. It says: If more than one player, other than erring declarer, exposes part or all of the hand, game cannot continue. Erring player plays double...
    >Do both erring declarers owe double?
    >The way I interpret your column[sic]* is that no money is paid by any of the three. Correct?

      Q: What if three players go dead? Who pays the survivor?
      A: It depends on how the players went dead. If one player erroneously declared mah-jongg, which caused a cascading lemminglike leap to death (in which two other players throw their hands in before it's realized that the mah-jongg was improper), then the erring declarer (who initiated the cascade) pays the surviving player twice the value of the declarer's hand (the hand she thought she was making).
      If the three players went dead by any other means, then the survivor throws in her hand (nobody gets paid). Shuffle, deal (next dealer takes over), and play another hand.

    Hi again, Cheryl. You wrote:

    I did read it before I sent the email, but was confused because of how we went dead. On the back of the card there were 3 points in this regard, but it seemed to differentiate between an exposure on a concealed hand and in calling Mahj incorrectly. It says: If more than one player, other than erring declarer, exposes part or all of the hand, game cannot continue. Erring player plays double...
    That's what I was talking about in the first part of FAQ 19-BW (the part not underlined above). That quote from the card is talking about a cascading error. What do I mean by a cascading error? This: one player declares maj incorrectly, which causes other players to start kvetching (showing their tiles or throwing in their tiles). That's what I referred to as a "lemminglike leap to death."

    That is not what happened in your case (not the way I read your previous email).

    Erring player plays double...
    >Do both erring declarers owe double?
    That quote from the card is talking about a cascading error. One player declares maj incorrectly, which causes other players to start kvetching (showing their tiles or throwing in their tiles). The "erring player" referred to is the first one, the player who declared maj incorrectly, causing the cascade of errors to follow afterwards.

    The way I interpret your column[sic]* is that no money is paid by any of the three. Correct?
    That's correct, Cheryl. After the first error, the other errors occurred independently of the first, and of one another (the way I read your previous email). So it's what I wrote about in the second part of FAQ 19-BW (the part I underlined above). The three players went dead by other means. So the game is null and void.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    Friday the Thirteenth, October, 2017

    * That is an FAQ, not a column. - Tom


    Taking conflicting claims one step further, part 2

    >From: "ssndvdsn
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 3:03 PM
    >Subject: Re: Conflicting Claims
    >Thank you so much. I needed affirmation. Susan

    You got it!
    May the tiles be with you.


    What if three players go dead?

    >From: Cheryl S
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 1:43 PM
    >Subject: American Mahjong question
    >We all read the back of the card on this, but it still was unclear as to the payout. This all happened in one game.
    >Player A: Calls a tile and exposes 1 part of hand. Her hand is called dead for a exposing a concealed hand.
    >Player B: Declares Mahjong on a concealed hand after having exposed 1 part on a previous turn. Her hand is called dead.
    >Player C: Declares Mahjong, exposes hand and realizes it is not a Mahjong.
    >Player D: How much does each player owe Player D?
    >Do both players who declared Mahjong play double and the player who only incorrectly exposed pay single? Or does just the last screw-up player (me) pay double? I think we were all very tired this morning!
    >Thank you for your guidance,
    >Cheryl S
    >P.S. Love your column. I searched for this answer, but it is probably a rarity that 3 players mess up so badly.

    Hi, Cheryl!
    Funny. Three players all went dead, but in unrelated circumstances. Did you check FAQ 19 to read the frequently-asked question, "What if three players go dead?" I just looked there myself, but rather than tell you the answer, I'd rather you get used to finding your own answers in FAQ 19. Your question is FAQ 19-BW, which you can find it in the "You're dead" section, or you can do what I did, and search the page for the phrase "three players."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    Friday the Thirteenth, October, 2017


    Taking conflicting claims one step further

    >From: "ssndvdsn
    >Sent: Friday, October 13, 2017 9:59 AM
    >Subject: Conflicting Claims
    >Tom: I know this question has been asked and answered, but I need to take it one step further. Suppose player #1 discards, then player #3 calls for the tile. Almost immediately, player #2 (next in line) calls for the tile. Neither player needs the tile for Mah Jongg. I know that player #3 would get the tile if he/she had exposed before player #2 called for the tile. In this case player #3 has not begun to expose. Lately I have played with a few people, not my regular group, who think that once two players call for the same tile, it then becomes a race to see which one can expose the quickest, therefore claiming the tile. Should player #3, upon hearing player #2 call for the tile, STOP and concede the tile to player #2. Also, what happens if player #3 does "hurry" and be the first to expose in order to claim the tile? Should that person be dead for playing out of turn? I look forward to your response. Susan

    Hi, Susan!
    You wrote:

    I know this question has been asked and answered, but I need to take it one step further.
    Interesting. Bring it on!

    Lately I have played with a few people, not my regular group, who think that once two players call for the same tile, it then becomes a race to see which one can expose the quickest, therefore claiming the tile.
    How obnoxious is that!?

    Should player #3, upon hearing player #2 call for the tile, STOP and concede the tile to player #2.
    Of course! Player 2 is first in line, and she's spoken her claim.

    The rule saying that an exposure trumps next-in-line's verbal claim only applies if next-in-line has not spoken by the time another player exposes.
    If P2 and P3 both say I want that, then P2 gets the tile (no matter who spoke first).
    If P3 exposes before P2 says I want that, then P3 gets the tile.
    If P2 says I want that before P3 exposes, P2 gets the tile.
    This is all explained in FAQ 19-H (using quotes from the NMJL's printed rulings). The rule about exposing first trumps the rule about next-in-line taking precedence, but it opens the door to un-harmonious behavior, which I think is a crying shame.

    Also, what happens if player #3 does "hurry" and be the first to expose in order to claim the tile? Should that person be dead for playing out of turn?
    No. She should give the taken discard to the rightful claimant. Game continues (albeit with players shooting dagger eyes at one another rather than playing harmoniously).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    Friday the Thirteenth, October, 2017


    Is she disqualified for saying she was hooped?

    >From: Jane M
    >Sent: Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:30 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg question
    >My friend was playing the other day and in exasperation with here tiles she exclaimed "I am "hooped". Someone at the table said she was disqualified for saying that. Is that correct?
    >Thanks,
    >Jane M.

    Hi, Jane!
    First, I don't know what "hooped" means. I googled it and as far as I can tell, it might mean "I'm exhausted/tired."
    Second, let's assume for a moment it means "my tiles are no good, and I can never make mah-jongg," or in other words, "I'm dead" (in the sense that "dead" means "can never make mah-jongg").
    Third, let's assume that "disqualified" means "dead" (in the sense that "you have to stop playing," as per NMJL rules).
    Fourth, if "hooped" means "dead" and "disqualified" means "dead," are you asking "can a player be called dead for calling herself dead?" Because that doesn't really make a lot of sense.
    I guess I'm saying I don't really follow the scenario you painted for me. Perhaps you'll find your answer if you go to FAQ 19 and read the first four questions under the category "YOU'RE DEAD." You can link to FAQ 19 above left. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a mah-jongg question. 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
    October 12, 2017


    I say she can't change her exposure, part 7

    >From: Belinda
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:46 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Regarding our discussion of August 27th on Pat L's question. The more I thought about the scenario, I agreed with your thoughts. The player called a tile but placed nonmatching tiles with it on her rack. Was she dead for a wrong exposure or was she allowed to take down the nonmatching tiles and put up the correct ones with the called tile?
    >So I wrote to the league and have a letter back. I am attaching it. Yes, she can remove and replace those tiles as long as she did not discard which would have ended her turn leaving her with an incorrect exposure.
    >Yay! You were absolutely correct (as usual)!!!!
    >Bee

    Great, Bee! Thanks for sharing that official 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
    October 11, 2017


    Who has to say a discard's correct name? (v3.0)

    >From: "BeachGirl5C
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:27 PM
    >Subject: Thanks Tom (miscalled tile)
    >I'm still getting familiar with your site. Love it! And so much to read!!
    >To answer your question about the Brouhaha...I play with a group who are pretty loose about following the rules. Normally, in this case, someone usually just speaks up, that it was miscalled by saying, "That was a one Bam" (All my references were using your Flower for one Bam example). It's worked fine and we all move on, except a couple weeks ago someone stated that it had to be the person who discarded it. I had asked Donna and she said no but when I played with this group again it was restated that it had to be the discarder and a 2nd and maybe a 3rd person agreed that it was in the NMJL rule book! At this point I just said I'd like to see it in writing.
    >Questioning other people I still get the answer it is not a written rule that it has to be the discarder. At some point Donna said "write to Tom Sloper". Not familiar with the procedure I passed but I didn't know Donna had actually written & gotten an answer. Sorry for being redundant. I do like the way you handle it & I will adopt that response myself.
    >>What I always say is "that's not a flower." Then I wait for the discarder to say its name. THEN, if I want that tile, I say "I'll take it."
    >Also we decided, as there is no penalty, who cares?!!
    >Love your answers, love your humor!! We don't have a bartender or a butler so quite certain that won't be a problem with 'who correctly names the tile'.
    >A couple more....
    >1) Should I have known somehow that you had answered this question for Donna on the bulletin? If it's not in your Q&A?
    >2) Is there any way to close the blue advertisement screen at the top of the page? It takes up half my screen.
    >Sorry if I should know these things. Feel like I need a 2 day class to learn to move around your site. As it is, I can get lost for hours and have learned so much!!
    >THANKS

    Hi, Bonnie! You wrote several things for me to reply to:

    I do like the way you handle it & I will adopt that response myself.
    >>What I always say is "that's not a flower." Then I wait for the discarder to say its name. THEN, if I want that tile, I say "I'll take it."
    >Also we decided, as there is no penalty, who cares?!!
    Sounds good to me!

    Should I have known somehow that you had answered this question for Donna on the bulletin?
    Well, there are a couple ways you could have*, but I'm not complaining!
    * (You might have played with Donna again and she might have told you - or you could have come to the bulletin board and scrolled down a little ways and stumbled on it, or you could have done a search on the page for the term "misnamed.")

    Is there any way to close the blue advertisement screen at the top of the page? It takes up half my screen.
    If you're talking about FAQ 19, there's a way to do that there. You can just click (with your mouse, if you're on a PC) or tap (with your finger, if you're on a mobile device with a touch screen) where it says  Mobile users: to display only this frame, touch here. Anytime you see that mobile phone icon, you can hit that to get rid of unwanted frames.
    Anyway, sorry about the layout - it was originally designed for desktop monitors (and that's what I mainly use myself), but when I figure a way to offer mobile-friendly features, I implement those (but I'm not a web wiz, so my repertoire of tricks is limited).

    Sorry if I should know these things. Feel like I need a 2 day class to learn to move around your site.
    Not to worry.

    As it is, I can get lost for hours and have learned so much!!
    Hope you enjoy, then!

    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
    October 11, 2017


    Broken link

    >From: Kathleen
    >Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 9:21 AM
    >Subject: Found a problem on Links page
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was checking your website when I notice that there’s a broken hyperlink on your Links page. I tried to click on it and am getting an “error message”, it seems that the site that you were linking to has moved.
    >I didn’t know if you wanted me to point it out to you to fix or remove, so if you do, just let me know.
    >Thanks,
    >Kathleen

    Kathleen, of course I want to fix broken links. But I can't remove it if you don't tell me what the link is, or the address of the Links page it's on. Is it a game career advice link? A mah-jongg link? A hanafuda link?
    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
    10/10/2017


    I was the bettor and noticed the Mah Jongg was wrong.

    >From: Barbara M
    >Sent: Monday, October 9, 2017 3:42 PM
    >Subject: Bettor
    >One of the players called Mah Jongg. I was the bettor and noticed the Mah Jongg was wrong. I know the bettor is not supposed to say anything but no one noticed. Am I supposed to pay the (supposedly) winner when I know it’s wrong? So I said it was wrong and an argument was started. What should I have done?
    >Barbara M

    Hi, Barbara!
    The fact that an argument was started ought to tell you everything you need to know, shouldn't it?
    Read FAQ 19-W4. You can link to FAQ 19 above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    October 9, 2017


    Do you have to call her dead or can you let it slide to keep her jokers alive?

    >From: pat l
    >Sent: Monday, October 9, 2017 1:42 PM
    >Subject: Maj Jongg and calling dead
    >Three 2 red cracks were exposed. The player picked up two 8 bams and exposed them with a joker. The players did not want to declare this player dead because they wanted a chance at the exposed joker. The hand was obviously dead because there was nothing to play with the exposures on the rack. Do you have to declare the person dead or can you let it ride?
    >I did read the "dead" part of your writings but saw no answer. Please let us hear your thoughts. Thank you,
    >Pat L

    Hi, Pat!
    Interesting. So the players like to exploit loopholes in the rules to gain an advantage. They know they should call the player dead, but that would make that joker go away and they know that the rule is unenforceable. I think that's downright sneaky and underhanded. In my opinion, if you know she's dead you should call her dead. They apparently don't realize that the advantage of having more tiles to pick may well outweigh the advantage of having her joker available for redemption by anyone (even by the rightfully-dead but nonetheless alive player).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    October 9, 2017


    Who has to say a discard's correct name? (v2.0)

    >From: "BeachGirl5C
    >Sent: Sunday, October 8, 2017 10:28 PM
    >Subject: Miscalled Tile
    >Hi Tom,
    >1) Is there a specific player who has to name a misnamed tile correctly?
    >Most often the person discarding is unaware they have miscalled the tile and someone else at the table corrects them (as in your 1 Bam/Flower example) but lately some ladies are telling me it has to be the person who discarded the tile. In checking your site and speaking with other people we can not find a NMJL rule that clearly states that it has to be the player who misnamed the discard. Could you please point out the NMJL rule that states that?
    >Misnamed discard. For instance, a player discards a One Bam but says "Flower." The rule is that the player must say the correct name of the tile she discarded (she does not have to discard a flower; the League has said this, in print, several times, in yearly newsletters).
    >What if someone wants the One Bam? After the discarder corrects her error and says "One Bam," the other player can claim the discard.
    >2) If the discarder does not correctly name the tile and I say "I call that One Bam" is there a penalty?
    >Thank you,
    >Bonnie

    Good morning, Bonnie! Your questions:

    Could you please point out the NMJL rule that states that [it has to be the person who discarded the tile]?
    The rules are written too loosely for my liking. The League has always just said that the game can't continue until the tile is correctly named (it does not actually say by whom). If my interpretation (that it has to be the discarder who says the tile's correct name) seems like an unreasonable leap to an unwarranted conclusion, then I'm sorry. In my opinion, it's reasonable to assume that the discarder should acknowledge her error. As I wrote in response to Donna last Friday (below).
    As far as I know, the League does not say anywhere in print that it must specifically be the discarder. But what's the big deal? If you're the misnaming discarder, just say the correct name and move on. If another player is the misnaming discarder and she refuses to say the correct name, then say it for her and move on.
    Again (as I wrote in response to Donna): I have to wonder what incident prompted this question. Did a discarder believe that she had in fact spoken the actual name of the discard, when another player believes she said the name of a different tile instead? Was there a disagreement as to either which tile was discarded, or what words had been uttered by the discarder?

    If the discarder does not correctly name the tile and I say "I call that One Bam" is there a penalty?
    There's no penalty to you for calling (requesting to take) a misnamed tile. But OF COURSE you can't take that One Bam to use as a One Bam if it's not a One Bam. And of course you can't make an exposure of flowers with a One Bam, or an exposure of One Bams with a flower. Your question is not precise as to the situation with this misnamed tile and your saying that it's a One Bam (I don't know what the discarder said the tile was).
    If the discarder named the tile "flower" and you say "I'll take that One Bam," then you're confusing everybody by NOT saying, "that's not a flower, it's a One Bam, and I'll take it." Is that what this brouhaha with you and Donna is all about?

    What I always say is "that's not a flower." Then I wait for the discarder to say its name. THEN, if I want that tile, I say "I'll take it."
    To me, a much more important matter than "who should say the tile's correct name" is "what penalty applies when an error occurs as a result of a misnamed discard." See FAQ 19-AY (which you quoted in your email).

    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
    October 9, 2017


    Column 687, #3 (part 3)

    >From: Al D
    >Sent: Sunday, October 8, 2017 2:06 PM
    >Subject: Wrong answer
    >Hello,
    >Regarding FAQ 19 BJ.
    >I believe it has a wrong answer. It states: So there must be at least one natural in an exposed set. Not specifically stated in rulebook, but logical from accurate knowledge of the way the rules work.
    >**See FAQ 19-BJ.
    >I called the National Mahjongg league and was told a Pung, Kong, Quint or Sextet may be composed of all Jokers!
    >Jean

    Hi, Jean!
    I tricked you with the tricky wording of a quiz question, and the tricky use of two asterisked footnotes to the quiz answer key.

    You are not referring to FAQ 19-BJ (FAQ 19-BJ discusses "heavenly hand"). You are instead asking about Column 687, question 3. There is one asterisk on the answer to question 3, which refers to a footnote as follows:

      *You cannot claim a discarded joker - you can only claim a discarded natural. So there must be at least one natural in an exposed set. Not specifically stated in rulebook, but logical from accurate knowledge of the way the rules work.

    Question 8, however, has two asterisks, which refers to the footnote about FAQ 19-BJ. Question 8 is about a dealer who has a complete hand before passing any tiles in the Charleston. It's question 3 that talks about having an EXPOSED set of all jokers. Linda Z also wrote me about my answer to question 3, on September 1. I explained to her then:

      It says "in an exposed set" - it doesn't say "in an exposed hand" - I'll try again, with a picture. Here's what a player has exposed atop her rack:

      That's all she has atop her rack. No other tiles.

    Jean, if you say that a player can expose a pung or kong or quint of jokers, and no other tiles, then I challenge you to explain the series of events leading up to such an exposure.

    How is an exposure made? By taking another player's discard, and then placing other tiles beside it from one's own hand. BUT: what tile could have been discarded to initiate the cascade of actions resulting in an all-joker exposure? It could only be a joker... BUT it's illegal to call for and take a discarded joker. You can scroll down and see my conversation with Linda Z on September 1. Standing by for further discussion if necessary!
    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
    October 8, 2017


    Appreciation too

    >From: Rebecca L
    >Sent: Sunday, October 8, 2017 1:31 PM
    >Subject: In Appreciation of your work!
    >Dear Mr Sloper,
    >I am a relatively new Mahjong player (2yrs )who is obsessed.
    >I have enjoyed your site so much and it has helped me enter Mahjong playing at a much higher level than most novices-(at least so I am told by people I play with)
    >I have been trying to help a non computer savvy friend to ID a set she was given and has been playing with that is missing the 3 crack.
    >It is a longer more interesting story but here is the gist.
    >All parties involved (beside myself) are Mahjong playing ladies in Queens, NY all over 90 years of age who I got to know this summer on the East coast.
    >My friend received a set given to her through a senior center contact. She thought it was new as it was /is in great condition.
    >However, as she described it to me, using information between your site and the mahjong,mahjong site, I believe it is an older possibly rare set.
    >I read your disclaimer that all emails sent are yours, and I looked through all the information links that you provide on your site (thank you) and I believe we have correctly identified the set. The gals can not believe folks would even pay a lot of money for a set- ; ) and really just want to get another 3 crak.
    >My friend was letting people take tiles to look for matches at flea markets. After speaking with her and doing some sleuthing-we have put an end to that -I told her the set must stay together!!!
    >I had her search the box( we don't live near ) and a tag fell out from under the case lining
    >The Label says:
    >Royal Imported Club
    >Hand Engraved-color fast
    >A&L manufacturing
    >But after sleuthing thru your site: I believe this is a Vintage Royal Imported Club N.Y. three colors hand engraved Mah Jong tiles.
    >It looks gorgeous to me through photos.
    >So I will use your find a tile page to try to get a new 3 crak for the ladies.
    >I want to thank you for your tremendous site!!!! as I work to help the “Golden Girls group(who are really quite brassy-as my friend says ) as they call themselves” another 3 crak.
    >This has been a fun detective story for us this summer.
    >In appreciation,
    >Rebecca L

    Hi, Rebecca! Thanks so much for writing. I hope you find a tile that rescues that lovely old set!
    May the tile literally 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
    October 8, 2017


    Appreciation

    >From: Facebook
    >To: Tom Sloper
    >Sent: Saturday, October 7, 2017 8:43 PM
    >Subject: Martin Rep mentioned you in a comment in Mahjongnews.
    >Martin Rep October 7 at 8:42pm  
    >Tom has been SOOOO important for international mahjong. He helped a great deal in making MCR and riichi popular in many countries. Keep up the good work, Tom Sloper!!  
    >Like
    >Comment
    >View on Facebook
    >Edit Email Settings

    Thank you so much, Martin! I have been honored here at the WRC 2017 by so many players telling me they'd gotten their start in riichi/dora majan from my humble old website. It was gratifying to realize I'd had such an effect!
    You, too, Martin, are to be honored for creating MahjongNews and for hosting the first European Mahjong Championship in 2005. My hat's off to you, old friend.
    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.
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    October 8, 2017


    Who has to say a discard's correct name?

    >From: Donna
    >Sent: Friday, October 6, 2017 8:47 PM
    >Subject: question
    >Tom hi,
    >Thank you for all of your expertise on your website. It's fabulous and we refer to it often to answer questions.
    >In your answer below AY, (where I highlighted) you say "the player" must say the correct name.
    > Misnamed discard. For instance, a player discards a One Bam but says "Flower." The rule is that the player must say the correct name of the tile she discarded (she does not have to discard a flower; the League has said this, in print, several times, in yearly newsletters).
    >I interpret that as meaning the "person who miscalls the tile" but in Mah Jongg Made Easy p. 17 #6, it just says, " a tile cannot be claimed until it is correctly named". Does it matter who names it? Thank you for your reply.
    >Donna E

    Hi, Donna!
    I believe it matters who names it. Absolutely it must be one of the players seated at the table playing the game. (It absolutely cannot be the butler or the bartender or the bettor.)
    I believe it is the discarder's responsibility to speak the tile's name. Another person might speak its name, but it is (in my opinion) a requirement that the discarder acknowledge the correctness of the speaker's words. Of course there might be exceptional situations - the discarder is mute and cannot speak, or the hostess's cat suddenly leaps up and grabs the discarder's tongue, preventing the discarder from uttering meaningful words, for instance. In those situations, it would not be unreasonable for another player to speak the correct name of the tile that was discarded, so that the game can continue properly.
    If you wish to have a more definitive ruling, you should send your question in writing to the League.
    I have to wonder what incident prompted this question. Did a discarder believe that she had in fact spoken the actual name of the discard, when another player believes she said the name of a different tile instead? Was there a disagreement as to either which tile was discarded, or what words had been uttered by the discarder? Because if the discarder acknowledges that she had said the name of a tile other than the one she'd actually discarded, then it seems to me that (now that all players know which tile was actually discarded) the game can continue with the mutual consent of all at the table.
    But if an error had occurred as a result of the misnaming, then there are rules governing what to do next.
    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
    October 6, 2017


    How much time can be used by each player when taking her turn?

    >From: "rfoglio
    >Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2017 11:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:how much time can be used by each player when taking her turn?

    There's no rule, rfoglio. Are you asking because your group has a slow player? Or are you asking because your group has been complaining that you take too much time? Does your group focus on the game during play, or does your group chat while playing? Have you ever observed how long one game takes with your group? (Experienced players usually finish one game, one hand, in about 15 minutes.) Have you ever observed how much time normally transpires during a player's turn?

    Most of the time, a player's turn takes less than 2 seconds. Once in a while, a player looks at the tile she just picked from the wall and has to think for another second or two - and less frequently, a player faces a quandary and has to really think. It's polite to apologize to the group when thinking longer than 5 or 6 seconds (unless that's not an unusual turn length in your group). It's impolite to take more than 12 seconds during your turn, even if you did apologize... unless you play with a group that chats during play. Especially if you do it frequently. If all the players but one keep the game moving, and one constantly halts the game when it's her turn, then disharmony can result.

    If your group has a slow player, you should read columns 375 and 621. And read pages 109 and 110 in my book.

    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
    October 6, 2017


    Wrong tile count, part 2

    >From: Veronica H
    >Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2017 4:51 PM
    >Subject: Clarification
    >Hate to bother you again, but what I was really looking for was a cut and dried, in black and white ruling on dead hands due to too many or too few tiles that I could print and hand out to my club members.
    >Simply that if a player has too many or too few tiles that player still picks and discards but the hand is dead and is no longer eligible to mah jongg (Chinese version) and player sits out and does not pick or draw (American version). I am assuming that this is correct?

    Yes, Veronica. For your players, "If a player has too many or too few tiles that player still picks and discards but the hand is dead and is no longer eligible to mah jongg," as you said. You should add that the dead player is forbidden to take any discards or to kong or take kong replacements.
    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
    October 5, 2017


    Do I have to call myself dead?

    >From: Sandy W
    >Sent: Thursday, October 5, 2017 12:33 PM
    >Subject: Dead
    >If you know beyond doubt that your hand is dead, must you drop out of the game? Thanks

    Hi, Sandy!
    Welcome to my website! The question you have asked has been asked many times before. It's a Frequently Asked Question (an "FAQ"). I have written answers to all the most-frequently-asked questions. In regards to your question: Please read FAQ 19-AC. You can link to the FAQs above left. After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. On the FAQ 19 page, you can click a link in the index to jump to your answer, or search the page for keywords. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. 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
    October 5, 2017


    Appreciation

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:54 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Joel E
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Joel E. You can view the transaction details online .
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $10.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Joel E
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal
    >Copyright © 1999-2017 PayPal, Inc. All rights reserved. PayPal is located at 2211 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95131.

    Thank you, Joel!
    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
    October 2, 2017


    Wrong tile count, in modified Chinese rules.

    >From: Veronica H
    >Sent: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 11:46 AM
    >Subject: Chinese Mah Jongg Question
    >I believe in American MJ if a player has too many or too few tiles, the hand is declared dead and player sits out the rest of the hand without drawing or discarding tiles.
    >What is the ruling for this in Chinese MJ? We had a situation where a player did not get a replacement tile for her flower tile so she discovered a few plays later that after drawing she only had 13 tiles. We had established a rule that the player's hand is dead but the player would continue to pick and throw which would allow her to possibly get a kong or hidden kong but could not Mah Jongg.
    >There are some of our members who feel they should be able to receive another tile when it is discovered that she is short a tile. Question then becomes from where does she take this tile. From the garden wall or the regular wall? Also, for a player who has too many tiles, some feel that on their turn they should just not pick but just throw a tile to get back to the correct number of tiles in her hand.
    >I feel that the hand should be declared dead but the player should continue to play until game is finished with no possibility of having a mah jongg.
    >I have written to you before and mentioned that we play a modified version of Chinese mah jongg. As I am chairperson, I would like to have your opinion or ruling if there is one on this situation.
    >Thank you.

    Hi, Veronica! You asked:

    What is the ruling for this in Chinese MJ? … We had established a rule that the player's hand is dead but the player would continue to pick and throw which would allow her to possibly get a kong or hidden kong but could not Mah Jongg.
    Close. Very close. Except for the konging part. A "dead" player is required to pick and discard but may not make any exposures whatsoever, and may not call any discards.

    There are some of our members who feel they should be able to receive another tile when it is discovered that she is short a tile. Also, for a player who has too many tiles, some feel that on their turn they should just not pick but just throw a tile to get back to the correct number of tiles in her hand.
    So they want to play by kindergarten mah-jongg rules, not grown-up mah-jongg. What other "backsies" do those players want? How many more modifications are you willing to concede? This can be a slippery slope!

    we play a modified version of Chinese mah jongg. As I am chairperson, I would like to have your opinion or ruling if there is one on this situation.
    I'm giving you the ruling from MCR (Majiang Competition Rules). It's safe to assume this ruling applies in numerous other Chinese variants as well. I don't know what other modifications you have to the Chinese rules, but I'd go with the "grownup" rule, and not start adding an ever-expanding list of "backsies" forgivenesses. Mah-jongg is a game for grownups who can accept the consequences of their own mistakes.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    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
    October 4, 2017


    You have been a great help, part 2

    >From: Linda L L
    >Sent: Sunday, October 1, 2017 8:31 PM
    >Subject: Re: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Linda L L
    >LOL - the main reasons are: I think you are doing something that is of value, something that helps a lot of people, and something that builds respect for the game and it's players!
    >Best of luck getting everything done on time. Thanks for telling me what happened with the weekly column. I was so surprised to see my last letter to you was still at the top of the column. Best, Linda

    Okay, good to know, Linda!
    By the way, THIS part of my website is not the "column." This is the "bulletin board." The Sloper On Mah-Jongg column is an entirely different thing. I try to update the column once a week when I can, and the topic is solely of my choosing. But this bulletin board is driven by reader emails. I usually reply to emails within hours, and post those exchanges here on the BB. So if nothing appeared here between Thursday and Sunday, it just means nobody wrote to me. The explanation I gave you an hour ago (below) is why there is no column this week, not why there were no new bulletin board posts since Thursday.
    You don't need to know about my obscure nomenclature for the various parts of my website, so if the previous paragraph bored you, then don't read it! :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
    October 1, 2017


    You have been a great help more than once

    >From: "service@paypal
    >Sent: Sunday, October 1, 2017 6:27 PM
    >Subject: Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Linda L L
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$50.00 USD from Linda L L
    >Donation Details
    >Total amount: $50.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Quantity: 1
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Linda L L
    >Message: Dear Tom, Making a donation today in appreciation for all you do for those of us who are part of the Mah Jongg world. You have been a great help to me more than once. May the tiles be with you! Linda
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Wow, thank you, Linda!
    I'm so glad my website has been of value to you. Unfortunately, my university teaching schedule is so crazy right now that I was not able to write a column this week. And next weekend I'll be focusing on a mah-jongg tournament (and hopefully not falling behind on preparations for midterms). So no column next week, either. Hopefully, the column isn't the only/main reason for your generosity! :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
    October 1, 2017


    Looking for an older post? Just click the link below! Several times a year, older postings are archived so as to keep this bulletin board lean and quicker to load. The archive goes back several years, and it's real easy to access older questions and answers!

    WANNA SEE MORE MAH-JONGG Q&A?
    CLICK HERE to go back in time and read older Mah-Jongg Q&A postings!
    CLICK HERE to return to the present and see the latest Mah-Jongg Q&A postings!


      Color key


        • Green = a happy email from a grateful reader.
        • DarkBlue = an FAQ, a question that's been asked and answered frequently.
        • Purple = an unhappy email from a dissatisfied reader.
        • Red = a forbidden technical support question about a computer game. Or any question that makes ME unhappy.
        • Orange = an unusual, weird, or off-topic email.
        • Black = none of the above. Regular mah-jongg question or comment: one that is not an FAQ, neither happy nor unhappy.


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