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The Mah-Jongg FAQs
(
Frequently Asked Questions)

19. American Mah-Jongg
16. The NMJL Card

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

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The Mah Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION.

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

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

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

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

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

    Note: The free service that I offer is limited to what you see here on this website. I answer questions submitted by email ONLY (I do not do telephone Q&A), and I never give free private answers. "When you email me, I own it." The price of the information I give is that it is given only in this public forum. No information you provide through this website shall be deemed confidential. Emailing me with a question or comment on this topic constitutes permission for your email to be made public. (Business inquiries and scholar/journalist queries are of course treated with all due confidentiality.) Your last name and email address will usually be omitted.

    Email your question to WebmasterSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only - telephoned questions are not welcome. And don't ask me to click links, either. Give me all the information in your email.


    To ask a question, click the image or email the address above.

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

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

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

    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 sure what my tiles are made of (part 2)

    >From: "kristel2009
    >Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 5:35 AM
    >Subject: Re: mah jong tile question
    >Thank you so much for your help!


    Not sure what my tiles are made of.

    >From: Kristel S
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 3:30 PM
    >Subject: mah jong tile question
    >Hello,
    >I found your website immensely informative, thank you. But, I still am not sure what my tiles are made of. I thought fish bone and bamboo, but they seem kind of plastic-y to me, and the bamboo part is only 1/4 of the tile's thickness, not the reverse as I would have expected. I would appreciate your help on this so that I can accurately describe it to sell it on eBay.
    >1. Set contains 144 tiles, no jokers, 5 dice, 8 & 36 red counting sticks, 40 black counting sticks.
    >2. Papers:
    > a. 65 page "Mah Jong for Beginners" book by Shozo Kanai and Margaret Farrell, Charles E. Tuttle Company Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan. Fifth printing, 1959. Inscribed: This is a special, economy edition prepared for Futami Kogeisha to be included with their mah jong sets...
    >b. Count Table and Counting The Points fold out card. see photo
    >3. Something and bamboo?
    >4. Purchased at an estate sale and contains a Purchase Record Slip dated 5/23/61 that appears to be from the military or something, and a South Korean business card for a Police Capt.
    >5. Tiles are 1" x 11/16" x 1/2" dovetailed with the bamboo being 1/8" and the bone(?) being 3/8"
    >6. 144 tiles = basic 136 + 8 flowers/seasons + 0 jokers
    >7. Handled carrying case is black 11.5" x 7.5" x 2" Not sure if it is wood or plastic.
    >8. More elaborate style crak.
    >9.- 12 photos attached
    >Thanks in advance for any help that you can give me.
    >Kristel

    Hi Kristel,
    Your tiles are made of plastic and bamboo. This type of set is typically made in either Korea or Japan, for export to the West. As can be determined by the booklet, this set was made in or shortly after 1959, in Japan... or Korea (Futami Kogeisha is a Japanese name, but maybe they had a factory in Korea, for all I know, or maybe they exported to Korea too). Those sets usually come in a plastic case, but I can't tell from the photo what it's made of. The set is not suitable for playing modern American mah-jongg rules, since it has only 144 tiles.
    Good luck with your sale.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 27, 2011


    The worth of these tiles

    >From: "Sandofski@
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 5:44 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Tiles
    >Can you tell me what you think these tiles are worth?
    >It's a full set of bone/bamboo tiles. 1920's.
    >Some are a bit faded, but generally in good condition.
    >2 extra blanks and a set of 4 small dice.
    >No papers and no box.

    Hello Mr. or Ms. Sandofski,
    You say the tiles are in "good" condition, but your photos show that they are not. They are actually in only "fair" condition ("utilitarian but not attractive"). You exaggerate when you say "some are a bit faded." Many of them are very worn out and unattractive, missing paint. Hard to tell from your photos, but maybe some of them have been retouched, maybe some of them have been washed. I don't know what anybody might want these tiles for. So I can't give you a monetary value greater than $5 or $10 for the lot.
    The most valuable part of the bunch is the dice in the coffin. I cannot guess what a collector might pay for that, to complete a better set. It might be 2 times the value of the tiles. And it might not.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 27, 2011


    Looking to play in a tournament

    >From: Karen B
    >Sent: Thursday, September 22, 2011 11:22 AM
    >Subject:
    >Hi - looking to play in a tournament in the Brockton, Easton, MA area - how would I go about finding this information?
    >Thanks.
    >Karen B

    Hello Karen,
    It sounds to me like you assume, or know, that there is a tournament coming up in your area. I don't know if there is one, and I would not assume there is one. If you want to play in a tournament, you might have to travel. The top tournament organizers are listed in FAQ 4a (to get to the FAQs, scroll up and you'll see the FAQs are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). If you want to play in local games, read FAQ 15 and check the Find Players bulletin board. Good luck!

    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 22, 2011


    They're giving me the silent treatment

    >From: Joanne R
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 7:32 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I recently starting playing MahJongg with a group of ladies who do not call "hold" when they want a discarded tile. They simply pick it up and place it on the rack. Is it just a courtesy to say "hold" or "I want that tile" or something to indicate your picking it up. Or, is it okay to silently pick it. I've noticed that I miss exchanging a tile I may have for a joker on the rack of my opponent because no announcement was made when they picked up the discarded tile.
    >Thank you,
    >Joanne

    Hi Joanne, you wrote:

    a group of ladies who do not call "hold" when they want a discarded tile.
    "Hold" is not the standard thing to say when you want a discard. The standard thing to say is "call" or "take" or "I want that." "Hold" is what beginners say, or what someone says when she's uncertain about whether or not she wants it, and she needs a second to collect her wits.

    They simply pick it up and place it on the rack.
    I play with a lady who does that... when it's her turn. If it's her turn to pick from the wall, and she decides she wants the live discard, she takes it without verbalizing. When it's not her turn, she verbalizes like everybody else, since she's interrupting the order of play and needs to clearly express the desire for the tile.

    Is it just a courtesy to say... "I want that tile" or something...
    It's standard practice. At a tournament, you should always verbalize your calls, and your joker redemptions.

    Or, is it okay to silently pick it.
    It is, if it's okay with the other players. Read FAQ 14.

    I miss exchanging a tile I may have for a joker on the rack of my opponent because no announcement was made when they picked up the discarded tile.
    What? No. You can only redeem during your turn, after taking a 14th tile into your hand, and before discarding a 14th tile from your hand. And you can never claim a redeemable tile. So it's not possible to miss a redemption opportunity between other players' turns. So there must be some other drawback that happens to you because they don't verbalize calls -- but not what you said.
    The solution is to either listen and look more carefully and be ready to react quicker, or if you can't, then don't play with that group.

    P.S. I recognized your name, so I checked to see what you asked last time. And on June 29, you asked this exact same question. I'm sorry this issue is troubling you so much.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 20, 2011


    Looking for statistics, part 2

    >From: Seph Ching
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:58 PM
    >Subject: RE: Mahjong records/statistics
    >Afternoon,
    >I followed your link and read through a few thread, luckly one of them contains a link to what im looking for... The data only last a month, which is the current month it seems, but atleast it's something to start with.
    >link: http://tenhou.net/sc/ykm.html
    >Thanks for your reply!
    >JM

    Great, JM. Glad you found what you were looking for.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 20, 2011


    Looking for statistics on riichi/dora majan hand frequency

    >From: Seph Ching tsubasa_sst
    >Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 10:30 AM
    >Subject: Mahjong records/statistics
    >Hi Tom,
    >I looked around the site and some more, and i couldn't find a link to what I'm looking for...yet. I have been trying to look for some game play database/logs of some kind for download, with the winning hand information included in the data. I am interested in how often a particular combination or yakuman pops up during game play and how often they stack up with each other. For example, All Pungs and 3 Concealed Pungs overlaps ever so often at say 30% or perhaps 16% all Big 4 Winds are also All Honours etc...
    >I did find out that tenhou has some similar service, but i don't know Japanese well enough to to some specific querying. So if there's some places with statistics info or where i can find some gameplay download please let me know.
    >Thanks in advance!
    >JM

    Hi JM,
    I don't have anything like that on my site, and I couldn't point you directly to a place where you can find that. But I imagine that the players who discuss online games at reachmahjong.com would know where you could find some info. Try the Mahjong Video Games forum (http://www.reachmahjong.com/en/forum/viewforum.php?f=18) or the Reach Mahjong forum (http://www.reachmahjong.com/en/forum/viewforum.php?f=5) (one or the other -- don't crosspost on both). But yes, you might need to be able to read Japanese to navigate the menu system of an online game site to dig out the information you seek. Sorry I couldn't be more help.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 20, 2011


    About those 2011s

    >From: Harvey H
    >Sent: Monday, September 19, 2011 10:12 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:Am I correct in assuming that if you are going for the 2011 exposed hand, you cannot call a discarded tile nor can you use a joker? You pretty much have to be lucky and pull all the tiles in the passing.
    >I am a beginner and am still learning the game rules.

    Hello Harvey,
    Welcome to my website. You've asked questions that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers, I have compiled them into a series of articles or FAQs ( "Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask newcomers to explore before writing to me. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19E. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 20, 2011


    Where would you take sets w/out keys to be replaced in Tucson, AZ (USA)?

    >From: jean marie n
    >Sent: Sunday, September 18, 2011 1:45 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have come across two set of Mah_jongg games in my mother's closet. Neither one has a key to open the case. Where would you take sets w/out keys to be replaced. I live in Tucson, AZ. Thanks so much. Tim N

    Hi Tim,
    If you still have yellow pages in Tucson*, why don't you look up Locksmiths? I assume those sets' locks would be very easy to pick. If your mother is like me, she has somewhere that she keeps keys. But if she's like my ex, she tosses out old things she doesn't remember what they're for. A locksmith should have no trouble opening your sets for you, if you can't find the keys. Then if he can't give you new keys, and you need new cases, most of the set vendors in FAQ 4a can sell you cases. You can access the FAQs above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 18, 2011

    *(The only reason I said it that way is that the Yellow Pages seem to be dying out -- everything's supposedly easier to find on the Internet. Everything except local businesses, in my opinion. One old-fashioned thing that I hope doesn't die out too quickly.)


    Should I email reminders to the group?

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sunday, September 18, 2011 10:36 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: 1. Glad you replaced the monkey with your picture. Much nicer! I check your column daily and did wonder about weekly column 495 #3 the word 'any' referring to 1 D's but just didn't get chance to write. I went back to my home state of RI for my yearly visit but Hurricane Irene shorted me 3 days. I enjoy trying the exercises in these weekly columns very much.
    >2. Re: email on 9/15 from Kelby R.: I wondered why he addressed you as "Dear Sir/Madam" when he could easily see you were male both by your picture and name but you couldn't tell his gender by only his name so I understand your response especially about his lack of information and excess pictures. His response of 9/16 was completely uncalled for and shows the kind of person he really is.
    >3. Playing American mah jongg last week a lady at my table picked up a tile from the wall but didn't look at it and then put it back. I said it was hers since she had picked it up and moved it. She replied that she hadn't looked at it so she should be able to put it back. I repeated the rules of moving or picking up the wall tile and she said she thought we were playing a nice friendly game. I told her we are but we are playing by the NMJL rules. Other players agreed. The "mah jongg fuzz" in action again!! I am thinking of emailing the above rule, the "racking" tile rule and the "discarding" tile rule out every so often to refresh these players memories. Would that be "kosher"? Thanks again for all the help you provide to all mah jongg players. Lynn P.

    Hi Lynn,
    I just noticed the "westies" in your email address (I don't show readers' email addresses unless they are posting announcements and need to be contacted). Is that an homage to your departed doggies? How sweet.
    I don't recommend an email. I recommend instead a verbal reminder, very quick, of the key things people forget. Before play begins, and only after a few instances of someone forgetting the rules. "Just a reminder, we are playing a friendly game but we are playing by the official rules. When you lift it, it's yours. It's not racked until it clicks..." I don't know which "discarding tile rule" you mean, but you get the idea. A verbal reminder can be delivered painlessly, whereas an email can seem officious.
    And yeah, I decided Mr. Chimp The Maven could go into retirement.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 18, 2011


    Column 496

    >From: Susan S.
    >Sent: Saturday, September 17, 2011 4:51 AM
    >Subject: #496
    > In #1 you meant to say "Evens 3".
    >I love these - I'm learning so much on your site - thanks!

    Hi Susan,
    I'm so glad you're getting benefit from the columns.
    But wow, that goof you spotted! Good job, by the way, and I fixed it with a nod to you. But that one is so obvious, I look at it, and it makes me wonder if anyone but you has even read the column. In the month that it's been there, nobody ever said anything. I'm glad you saw it so it could be fixed.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 17, 2011


    Column 495 again

    >From: Susan S.
    >Sent: Friday, September 16, 2011 5:02 PM
    >Subject: #495 question 3
    >>"This is painful. No matter which Consec. hand you go for, you don't need any of those 1Ds. Might as well throw one now."
    >I'm new, but why would I not go with Consec. 3 using three 1Ds, the 2D, the two four bams? Did you mean to say you don't need any or you don't need all three 1Ds?

    Hi Susan,
    Valid point. I should have said "all of those 1Ds" instead of "any of those 1Ds." Only three of them are needed for Consec. #3. I'll amend the column, and add a tip o' the hat to you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 16, 2011


    My wife found this Mah Jong set, part 2

    >From: Kelby Russell
    >Sent: Friday, September 16, 2011 9:30 AM
    >Subject: Re: (Pictures)Antique Mah Jong Set with Small Leather Case
    >Wow thanks for being a ████ about it! I would love it if someone asked my expertise on something, guess it ████ you off. Good luck with Karma not biting you in your ████!


    My wife found this Mah Jong set

    >From: Kelby R
    >Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 8:59 PM
    >Subject: Re: (Pictures)Antique Mah Jong Set with Small Leather Case
    >From: Kelby R
    >Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 8:03 PM
    >Subject: Antique Mah Jong Set with Small Leather Case
    >Dear Sir/Madam,
    > Recently my wife found this Mah Jong set while working at a local thrift store, and being antique collectors she instantly bagged it up and bought it. Included in it's case are (143)-tiles, (31)-Single Red dot betting sticks, (30) - Double Dot Black betting sticks, (7)-Five green dot betting sticks and (25)-Ten blue dot betting sticks. Also included were (4) die with wooden box. After looking it over and doing countless hours of research we have verified that they tiles are bone attached to bamboo with tongue and groove. I ran across your website and instantly knew you could shed some light on it's approx. year of make, where it was made or possibly a rough value to give us an idea. We collect these antiques so that one day our son can sell them if need be. Your professional input would be greatly appreciated if you can find the time.
    >Thank You,
    >Kelby R
    >10 Attached files|11.7MB
    >
    >From: Kelby R
    >Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 8:55 PM
    >Subject: mah jong pics
    >20 Attached files|23.5MB
    >
    >From: Kelby R
    >Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 8:59 PM
    >Subject: mah jong pics
    >7 Attached files|8.8MB

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    Welcome to my website. I do give free evaluations, but I don't need, or want, to look at 37 pictures, and you didn't give me the information I need. Many people before you have come here to get a free valuation of a mah-jongg set. So I've written FAQs ("Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask all newcomers to read before writing to me. Please read Frequently Asked Questions 7H & 7G. To find them, please scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).
    After you've read the FAQs, please send me the information I need, and resend no more than 12 photos. Thank you.

    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 15, 2011


    I made it!

    >From: Luz S
    >Sent: Tue, September 13, 2011 8:32:19 PM
    >Subject: 2011 $.75 hand
    >A while back you suggested we send in pictures if we made the triple 2011 hand.
    >Here is mine, I'm very excited I made it tonight.
    >Lucy S
    >NYClucy

    Hi Lucy,
    I don't recall suggesting that, but hey. Way to go, Lucy!
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 13, 2011


    Column 495

    >From: Vicki K
    >Sent: Mon, September 12, 2011 1:01:57 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg column #495
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am fairly new to Mah Jongg and have found your weekly column really helpful for practice. I may have missed something here, but in column #495, question 2, you do not even mention Evens #7 as one of the options. With the Joker it seemed to me that it had 9 tiles for that combination. Did I miss something?
    >Thanks in advance for your reply!
    >Vicki K

    No, Vicki, you didn't miss anything. I did! I've fixed the omission in the column, with a tip of the hat to you. Good eye!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 12, 2011


    I smell errata, part 2

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sun, September 11, 2011 7:03:58 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I couldn't find your RD&WW errata page but I did find your cat pages and enjoyed reading them and looking at the pictures. They are 2 beautiful cats especially Bob. I know it is very difficult to lose a pet as I lost my 61/2 year old Westie girl and my 10 year old Westie boy to bladder cancer 2 years apart. Please tell me what site I should click on for errata. Thanks, Lynn P

    Hi Lynn,
    Your Westies could have sniffed out the errata link on the RDWW page. Go to the RDWW page, either by clicking any The Red Dragon & The West Wind link, or the banner

    atop this or any other page, then search the RDWW page for the word "errata" - or scroll down to the bottom - to find the link to the errata file. Download either the Word doc or the PDF, as befits the file formats your computer is set up to use.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    9/11/11


    I smell errata

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sat, September 10, 2011 8:32:21 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: 1. Where can I find RDWW errata? Do you add to last year's or make a new one every year? I have one from last year which I printed out and hopefully saved that I can add to.
    >2. While playing American mah jongg with 2 substitute players and one of our regular players, the regular player said the name of the tile and touched it to the table but didn't let go. She said she didn't mean to discard that tile and lifted it back but I told her it was down since she said its name and it touched the table. She repeated she didn't mean it and put it back on her rack and I again protested. She ignored me and threw out another tile. Was there anything I could have done? I am thinking of emailing her the rule from your Q&A's. I have only been a member of this group for a couple of months and am not yet known as the MJ fuzz like in my other 2 groups. Several players in these 2 groups have asked me to send them Q&As that we have encountered in our play so I know they want to play by the rules. I suggested they buy your book. Thanks again. Lynn P

    Hi Lynn,

    It's on the RDWW page. The date of each errata file is part of the filename. The current RDWW file is 100908, that means 2010, September 8th. I know I just told Ellen M I'm adding her question to it, but I haven't yet figured out where to fit it in without screwing up my rule numbering system. It's a major addition, explaining all the different things that can constitute making a play that means that the play now devolves to the player to the right. I have to figure out where to add it. I'm thinking! I'll get to it. And I don't "announce" when there's a new errata file. I just post one when needed.

    You were right to tell her what you did. But you cannot force anybody to do anything, unless it's a tournament and you are the official judge. You told her twice, and she did what she darned well felt like. And that's that. You can let people know what the rule is, so that they know that the next time that's the rule. But you'll still find people who just do what they darned well feel like, regardless. And that's that.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    9/10/11


    Who plays next after erroneous mahj?

    >From: ellen m
    >Sent: Fri, September 9, 2011 4:03:03 PM
    >Subject: Erroneous Mah Jongg
    >Hello Tom,
    >Please help us in this situation. I couldn't find the answer in RDWW.
    >Player A discards a 1-bam. Player C calls it for Mah Jongg. When the tiles are displayed, it turns out that the 1-Bam is the wrong tile.
    >This player is now dead. The tiles on her rack, including the 1-bam, are placed on the sloped part of the rack.
    >Whose turn is next? Player B, who was next in turn before the erring tile was called for, or Player D?
    >Obviously, there is no discard since the 1-Bam is kept on Player B's rack.
    >Thank you,
    >Ellen M
    >Greensboro NC

    Hi Ellen,
    This is now officially a frequently-asked question. I will add it to the RDWW errata and to FAQ 19.

    The player who made the erroneous mahj call made a play. That means she took a turn. So, even though it was an abnormal play or turn, and all she accomplished was to kill herself, the play now devolves to the player seated to her right. Just like with a normal play or turn.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    9/9/11


    Window on 2011

    >From: Joanne F
    >Sent: Wed, September 7, 2011 3:02:55 PM
    >Subject: Two questions re Mah Jongg
    >The following two questions are at issue within our Mah Jongg group. We have checked your site but there is still some disagreement, so we have composed the following two questions and would appreciate answers specific to the two issues.
    >Questions #1:
    >Situation:
    > A tile has been discarded and declared (for example, player declares discarded tile as "5 crack").
    > The next player picks a tile from the wall and looks at the tile; the player does not put the tile on the rack because she does not want the tile and intends to discard it immediately.
    > After the player has seen the tile (but has yet to discard it), does another player have the right to claim the previously discarded tile (ie the 5 crack)?
    >This scenario is of great concern to our group; some players feel that there is no point in putting the unwanted tile on the rack if the tile is being immediately discarded, but some players believe the rules require the tile to be racked; if it is not racked, these players insist, a player may claim the previously discarded tile (ie the 5 crack).
    >Some have suggested that a solution to this problem is to "click" each tile as it is picked so that the other players know and understand that the player has seen the tile and that the previously discarded tile is no longer in play. Will this "clicking" solve the problem?
    >Question #2:
    >With regard to hands which include 2011:
    >Can this grouping include a joker or are the tiles considered to be singletons and doubletons? If the tiles are considered singletons or doubletons, we understand that jokers cannot be used in the hand.
    >Thank you very much. We look forward to your response.

    Hello Joanne, you wrote:

    We have checked your site but there is still some disagreement... After the player has seen the tile (but has yet to discard it), does another player have the right to claim the previously discarded tile (ie the 5 crack)?
    Joanne, you said you "checked my site." Please understand that I have worked very hard to make sure that my FAQs are worded very carefully so as to prevent misunderstanding. If someone reads the FAQs and still doesn't understand, then I like to find out what I did wrong so I can fix it.
    I never re-state an answer to a frequently-asked question, because I might misstate the answer, introduce some turn of phrase that can be misconstrued. And I have a policy of not copying and pasting the answers when someone asks.
    This question you asked is answered in FAQ 19C, FAQ 19AD, FAQ 19AT, "More about the Window Of Opportunity" at the bottom of FAQ 19, and column 458. Could you please check again? And if the answer is still unclear, could you tell me what I said that was confusing?

    some players feel that there is no point in putting the unwanted tile on the rack if the tile is being immediately discarded, but some players believe the rules require the tile to be racked
    The first group is correct. The second group is wrong. None of this means, though, that one should never rack a picked tile, or that one should always rack a picked tile. Please read column 480.

    if it is not racked, these players insist, a player may claim the previously discarded tile
    Those FAQs make it perfectly clear whether this is correct.

    Some have suggested that a solution to this problem is to "click" each tile as it is picked so that the other players know and understand that the player has seen the tile and that the previously discarded tile is no longer in play. Will this "clicking" solve the problem?
    It solves the problem of knowing whether or not a tile has been "racked." That solves the problem of knowing whether or not the window of opportunity (to claim the live discard) is closed. As explained in the FAQs

    Can this grouping (2011) include a joker or are the tiles considered to be singletons and doubletons?
    Please read FAQ 19E. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 7, 2011


    Can she redeem it?

    >From: velia v
    >Sent: Tue, September 6, 2011 1:52:33 PM
    >Subject: HI
    >Hi
    > When playing American Mah Jongg , with the game in progress, a player picks from the wall racks her tile, then looks around and realizes that there is a joker she could have exchanged her tile, is her exchange dead because she racked the tile or can she pick the Joker. Thank You for being there for us. Velia Velez

    Hello Velia,
    Of course she can redeem it. That's the perfect time to redeem it. She's not allowed to redeem it any OTHER time, in fact! Not sure why you even have to ask! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2011


    Frequently Asked Question #19B: Can I Change My Mind?

    >From: Jerald R
    >Sent: Tue, September 6, 2011 12:59:53 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: When I discard a tile and I change my mind immediately after discarding it and no one has picked a tile from the rack, can I take back my discard and discard another tile intead?
    >Thanks.

    Hi Jerald,
    Welcome to my website. You've asked something that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers, I have compiled them into a series of articles or FAQs ( "Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask newcomers to explore before writing to me. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19B. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    Oh, and the other "Can I Change My Mind" questions have also been answered before -- see FAQ 19AM.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Sept. 6, 2011


    What's it called when someone wins in the third round, part 2

    >From: Ginny L
    >Cc: julie b
    >Sent: Tue, September 6, 2011 2:19:18 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg ?
    >Hi Tom;
    >Sorry to confuse you, We play American MJ using the NMJL card. I did mean third go around. A few years ago, I won on the second go around. Someone we were playing with said this was not allowed. I wrote to you and you said to disregard what "Yelda" said and told me this was called The Hands of Man. Just wanted to know if the third go round has a similar designation.
    >Thanks for taking the time to respond!
    >Ginny
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Hi Ginny,
    Wow, Yelda! Haven't heard from her in ages... (^_^)
    Winning in the second go-around should not be called the Hand of Man, whether or not I said that before. Wins after the first go-around don't get special names. And it's a little difficult to know how those Asian early-win names really could translate to American mah-jongg, since that Charleston happens before real play even begins. Good to hear from you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 6, 2011


    What's it called when someone wins in the third round?

    >From: ginny comcast (glockrem)
    >Cc: julie b
    >Sent: Mon, September 5, 2011 6:57:10 PM
    >Subject: Winning on third round
    >Hi Tom:
    >Our group was playing yesterday and one of the players had Mah Jongg on the third round. Very special! Is there a specific term for this early round win?
    >Thanks!
    >Ginny
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi Ginny,
    I'm scratching my head over here, because I don't have enough information from you. I don't know which kind of mah-jongg you play, and I don't know what you mean by a "round," since most people (especially females) ask me about American mah-jongg, and the term "round" is not much used in that variant, except mainly in tournament situations.
    Do you play American mah-jongg (in which one uses an annual card from the National Mah Jongg League in New York)? Yes or no?
    I know what "round" normally means in un-American variants, but to win in the third one of those would definitely not be "very special." So by "round" do you mean that period of time in which each player has had a turn around the table? Yes or no. If yes, I call those "go-arounds," and while this is indeed early, it isn't so special that it deserves a name.
    Or do you mean the third pass of the Charleston, in American mah-jongg? (The dealer stopped the Charleston after the first left, refused a courtesy pass, and declared mah-jongg?)
    I wrote about the rarest early wins in American mah-jongg in column 476 and FAQ 19BJ. You can access the columns by clicking the purple banner atop this page, and you can access FAQ 19 by clicking the link marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ). The FAQ links are above left.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 5, 2011


    Reverse redemption and no dice!

    >From: Gene Ruth P
    >Sent: Mon, September 5, 2011 5:17:20 PM
    >Subject: mahj question
    >I would appreciate your answer to the following 2 questions. If at all possible by Tuesday at noon before I play in my regular game and it comes up for discussion. One of our players played with a different group who said this was the way they were taught. Thanks very much, Gene
    >Scenario 1: there is an exposure of 2 jokers and a 2 crack.
    >A player who has a joker in her hand and who needs the 2 crack takes it, replacing it with her joker so that now there are three jokers representing 2 cracks.
    >I have been playing mahj adhering to the National MJ League rules for quite a while and this is a new one for me! It is way beyond what is intended as a house rule.
    >Of course, we know about the usual scenario whereby a player can pick up an exposed joker replacing it with the correct tile in the exposure when it is her turn, after she has first picked up a tile from the rack.
    >Scenario 2:
    >East does not throw dice and no tiles are held back. Players just take their 13 tiles and east takes 14. Is this a standard way of playing or is it made up by the table of players and is acceptable according to the National MH League?

    Hello Gene, you wrote:

    A player who has a joker in her hand and who needs the 2 crack takes it, replacing it with her joker
    I call that "reverse redemption." Perhaps you're new to my site, and perhaps you somehow didn't know that I have compiled questions like this into a series of articles or FAQs ( "Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask newcomers to explore before writing to me (you can see that request above, if you scroll up). To find the answer to this question you've asked, please read Frequently Asked Question 19AL. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    I have been playing mahj adhering to the National MJ League rules for quite a while and this is a new one for me! It is way beyond what is intended as a house rule.
    Don't you think it's most likely a misunderstanding of the official rules (that, most likely, the members of that group have never read the official rules)?

    East does not throw dice and no tiles are held back. Players just take their 13 tiles and east takes 14. Is this a standard way of playing or is it made up by the table of players and is acceptable according to the National MH League?
    Read FAQ 19AP and column 403. Also read FAQ 14. You have a decision to make! If you want to play with this group, you can try gently pointing out to them that their practices are outside the official rules, but you cannot expect them to change their ways. I doubt they will be much impressed by a printout of my website. Your best ammunition would be a copy of the official rules, or my book.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 5, 2011


    When were jokers outlawed in pairs? (FAQ 19S)

    >Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2011 09:35:10 -0700 (PDT)
    >From: Alan K
    >Subject: mah jongg
    >I have been playing for about 35 - 40 years. I seem to remember being able to use jokers in a pair. None of the ladies I play with remember that. Was there a time when this was allowed?

    >Thank you in advance for checking this out for me.

    >Edie K

    Hi Edie, you asked:

    I have been playing for about 35 - 40 years. I seem to remember being able to use jokers in a pair. None of the ladies I play with remember that. Was there a time when this was allowed?
    Yes. You've asked a question that others have asked me before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers, I have compiled them into FAQs ( "Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask newcomers to explore before writing to me. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19S. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!

    Thank you in advance for checking this out for me.
    You're welcome! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 1, 2011


    Column 497

    >From: Chris Schumann
    >Sent: Mon, August 29, 2011 9:53:45 AM
    >Subject: Column #497
    >Hi Tom,
    >In column #497, your scenario has player 2 call the 5B for a pung, exchange a joker, and call mahjong on a concealed hand. That's clearly a bad mahjong. However, you also state that "Player 2 returns all her tiles to the sloping front of her rack, since her hand was exposed in error." I have a question about that.
    >First, Player 2 calls the 5B and exposes a pung: two 5B's and one joker. Depending on the card, there is at least one potentially exposed hand that has a pung of 5s so this is OK by itself; or there isn't, making her eligible for a dead hand. In either case, nobody called her dead on this exposure.
    >Second, she exchanges her joker for the South wind on Player 1's rack. Again, this seems like a legal move.
    >Third, she calls mahjong for a concealed pattern when she has one exposure. This is the move she rightly gets called on.
    >Since the pung of 5B was exposed first, and legally, should that exposed set (and the juicy joker in it) stay on top of her rack, or should it be hidden since this was all done in one turn?
    >Thanks,
    >Chris

    Hi Chris,
    You make a valid point. The 5B pung should indeed remain atop the rack.
    Since it was all done in one turn, and since the moment someone claims mah jongg is rather climactic, and calling someone dead is also highly charged, and since it's often the case that important game decisions have to be made in the heat of the moment, if it was decided that she would put the whole hand back out of sight, I would go along with that as well.
    But you are right; the 5B pung should remain atop the rack.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 29, 2011


    How to say mah jongg, part 3

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Sat, August 27, 2011 3:04:51 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: RE: email from Ann S. Do you make statement in quotes below in your book "The Red Dragons & The West Wind"? If so, where? If not, may I ask her where she read this statement? I would like to know the source so I can use it for a reference for my mah jongg groups. After all I am the mah jongg fuzz for 3 groups!!! A German mah jongg friend told me that "fuzz" sounds like the German word "fuch" meaning "redhead" and I am a natural one. The tiles and jokers were certainly with me on Thursday and Friday of this week. Thanks, Lynn P.
    >
    >How to say mah jongg, part 2
    >>From: Ann S
    >>Sent: Fri, August 26, 2011 2:55:24 PM
    >>Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >>My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >>Tom, you recently answered a question for me (which I have copied below). I wanted to be sure that I made myself clear that it was a concealed hand. I had read that "a concealed hand must be completed and shown on the rack when the 14th tile is picked or claimed."

    Hi Lynn,
    No, I don't think that's a quote from my book. In my book, "14th" would be written out as "fourteenth." I agree that she quoted a nice clear statement of the rule. I don't know where it's from.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 27, 2011


    Can she claim a discarded redeemable tile for the purpose of redeeming it? (FAQ 19G)

    >From: tilly p
    >Sent: Sat, August 27, 2011 6:58:33 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A Player discards a tile--- next player claims the tile to replace a joker on her/his rack in an exposure. First player protests that one cannot do that. I realize the player who discarded the tile made a mistake by not exchanging it for the exposed joker, but the tile was down on table ---and called by "name". I am the "referee"---[unfortunately] when we play---because I read the rules & regulations and take your book, WEST WIND AND RED DRAGON to our meetings.
    > I ruled in favor with the player who claimed the tile. Can you back me up?

    Hello Tilly,
    I absolutely cannot back that up. Read rule 86a on page 58. Read #1 on page 91. Read paragraph three on page 92. AND read Frequently Asked Question 19G, then show your player the proper way to scream to the heavens in absolute frustration, "Oh! I wanted that!!!" Because that's all you can do when somebody discards a redeemable tile and you wish you could have it.
    To get to the FAQs here on this site, scroll up and look on the left side of the screen. The FAQs are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg, even some that are not in the book, are found in FAQ 19.
    Also, since you have my book, you should download the errata file -- it's available on my "The Red Dragon & The West Wind" page.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 27, 2011


    How to say mah jongg, part 2

    >From: Ann S
    >Sent: Fri, August 26, 2011 2:55:24 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Tom, you recently answered a question for me (which I have copied below). I wanted to be sure that I made myself clear that it was a concealed hand. I had read that "a concealed hand must be completed and shown on the rack when the 14th tile is picked or claimed." However, from the below response, it seems that the concealed hand can be shown on the rack in stages - first when a discarded tile is picked up and one meld is shown, and then when the joker is redeemed, the rest of the tiles are exposed. Is this an accurate description? If so, does it matter if you are picking up the discarded tile for a pair or single?
    >Thank you,
    >Ann S.

    D'oh!
    Sorry, Ann. I had totally missed that you were talking about a hand marked C on the card. In that case, the pertinent FAQ (above left) is 19M. You are required to make a valid and complete exposure before you can redeem a joker. And, as you suspected, you are not allowed to make an exposure prior to declaring mah jongg when you are playing a Capital-C Concealed hand. So, given this new clarification from you, my previous response below is invalid.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2011

    See column #497 for more on this.


    Do I have to have a natural tile to expose? (FAQ19L)

    >From: "LIONSTAR8
    >Sent: Fri, August 26, 2011 1:24:26 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Can a player use ALL jokers for 3 (or) 4 group - without displaying ANY of the actual tile in the grouping?
    >Example: Player needs (3) one dots ... exposes a Mah Jongg using only jokers.
    >Please advise.
    >Carol H.
    >Lionstar8

    Hello Carol,
    Welcome to my website. You've asked questions that others have asked me many times before. So to save myself having to constantly retype the answers, I have compiled them into a series of articles or FAQs ( "Frequently Asked Questions"), which I ask newcomers to explore before writing to me. Please read Frequently Asked Question 19L. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2011


    Miscalling after a misnaming

    >From: Billie E
    >Sent: Fri, August 26, 2011 8:42:50 AM
    >Subject: Declaring one's own hand dead
    >Dear Tom,
    >I love your website and find myself coming back to it again and again.
    >Allowing me to post my unwanted mis-matched extra tiles from Granny's set enabled me to find buyers for most of them!
    >My question today is about declaring your own hand dead. I've read FAQ19 AC, but the situation I saw isn't quite described by your examples. I played in a game where the discarder incorrectly called her discarded tile, 3 Bam when in reality it was a 3 Crak she put on the table. Another player, needing 3 Bam, and hearing 3 Bam called for it and exposed her other 3Bam tiles from her hand. Now realizing that there was no 3 Bam available to her, she declared herself dead, claiming everyone knew part of her hand and she would be at a disadvantage. Was she correct to do so?
    >Billie

    Hi Billie,
    When one player misnames a discard, normally there is no penalty to the misnamer. But if another person miscalls the misnamed discard for mah jongg (I know that's not what happened here, bear with me because I have a point to make), then the misnamer is responsible to the whole table for erroneously ending the hand for everyone. See FAQ 19AY.

    Still with me? In this case, the misnamer didn't cause an erroneous mah jongg -- she caused an erroneous exposure instead. No harm, no foul, ordinarily. But the miscaller called herself dead, which, if allowed to stand, should mean that the misnamer must also be called dead. Harm, so foul.

    So how about instead, we go back to no harm, no foul. "No, dear, you don't have to call yourself dead. Put your tiles back, and let's continue."

    But there's a problem. Your player has whined, "It's so massively unfair, though! Everybody knows part of my hand! I'd rather be dead!"

    She is wrong. It is not "unfair." She screwed herself by not paying attention. By rights, she ought to put her tiles back and continue playing, and pay better attention in the future.

    Let's go back to FAQ 19AY a sec. If she's allowed to call herself dead, then shouldn't the misnamer go dead with her, since it's a two-person fault? I'll tell you what would be unfair; for the miscaller to be able to call herself and another player dead, when nobody should be dead at all. She should put her tiles back, suck up the dumb move she made, and let the game continue.

    In my opinion, anyway. Since the NMJL never wrote a rule on this precise cluster screwup, if you want an official ruling, you could send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the NMJL (see FAQ 19BN).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2011


    How to say mah jongg

    >From: Ann S
    >Sent: Fri, August 26, 2011 4:54:05 AM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have a concealed hand and am 2 tiles away from mah jongg. The player to my left discards one of tiles I need. I have a tile that can be redeemed for a joker in my hand. I know that I must draw or take a discard first to make 14 tiles before exchanging the tile in my hand for a joker. Can I take the discard, meld that set, then take the joker for mah jongg, since it all occurs within my turn, or do I have to declare mah jongg at the time the discarded tile is picked up?
    >I have your book; can't find this exact example, but I know that you have to declare mah jongg when the tile is picked up for a concealed hand - just don't know if you can take one more (small??) step. (We're a friendly group, so allowed the player to mah jongg, but wanted to know the rule for future, if any, situations like this.)
    >Thank you,
    >Ann S

    Hi Ann,
    It would be improper to say mah jongg to begin the turn, since it's a two-step move, and the discarder is not giving you mah jongg. Call the discard, then as you redeem the joker, say mah jongg. You picked mah jongg yourself with the joker move, thus everybody has to pay you double (not just the discarder). Making two verbalizations clarifies that for everybody. "Call! And... joker, please... mah jongg!"
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2011

    A correction was posted later in the day (above). Also, see column #497 for more on this.


    Floating tables, part 3

    >From: Alison B
    >Sent: Fri, August 26, 2011 5:54:43 AM
    >Subject: floating Mah Jong
    >Hi Tom,
    >When browsing on your site the other day I recall someone trying to locate a floating Mah Jong table. I do not know where to find one these days but this is a photo I came across that was taken in June of 1924.
    >Alison

    Hi Alison,
    If you just search this page for the word "float," you'll find the posts from July 26, in which the original poster, Derek, provided a link to this photo. To search a web page (to find a word), if you are using a Windows PC, type Control-F, then type the word. If a post has fallen off the bottom of this page, you can click the link at the bottom and go back to previous pages, and search for a term there.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 26, 2011


    Your book came in handy again

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Thu, August 25, 2011 5:31:11 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: While playing American mah jongg today your book came in handy again.
    >1. A player called a soap and displayed it with 2 other soaps. Next time around she called a 7 dot and displayed it with a joker and 2 other 7 dots. She said she was dead but I told her she couldn't call herself dead so another player called her dead. She and the other two players said her joker was available to redeem but I said the joker was not available to redeem since that exposure made her dead. I got out your trusty RD&WW on p. 64 #105 - 107 and p. 101 - 102 for them to read.
    >
    >2. During the next game Player A discarded a soap and player D called it for mah jongg. Player D exposed her whole hand (#4 under 2011) as FF ... 2001 instead of 2011 so she was called dead and did not discard but put her tiles on her sloping rack. Who has the next turn - Player A again or Player B? I checked on p. 87 - 88 but these pages refer to making an exposure and discarding a tile which the player who called mah jongg and was called dead did not do?
    >
    >3. In another group, player A discarded a tile, next player B picked from the wall and racked the tile but still had her hand on it when player D said she wanted the discarded tile. (This was definitely not a 'pick & rack' as these ladies play slowly). I said it was too late and that the picked tile was racked but player B said player D could have the discard. Player B replaced the tile she had picked back in the wall. After player D took the discard and exposed her tiles, player A picked from the wall and discarded and then player B had her pick. (Obviously player B didn't want the first tile she picked from the wall and player D missed her "window of opportunity" and that tile was "racked" since I heard it click!!! I was player C!!) Player A didn't say anything to support me. What should I have done other than to voice my opposition to what had occurred? I found this in your Q&A column; "Racking" a tile means placing it on the sloping front of the rack. Period. Racking a tile closes the window of opportunity for another player to claim the current discard -
    >tapping the tile on the rack is not racking it." Guess I sound like the "Mah Jongg Police"!! Thanks for all your fine help and I love your strategy columns. Lynn P.

    Hi Lynn,
    I love it! Thanks for sharing the story.
    The player who goes after Player D is Player A. Player A made a play; Player D claimed A's discard; D went dead, ending her turn instantly; it's Player A's turn now, since she is next after D.
    You could have tried disputing the improper play, but sometimes it's more harmonious to just let an improper play go. I agree, Player B didn't mind giving up that racked tile -- she would not have relented if it had been a joker. And that happens! What I would do is point out, later, "you know -- once the tile has clicked onto the sloping front of the rack, it can't be put back on the wall. For future reference. Okay?" And yes. In your group, you ARE the mah-jongg police, since nobody else has troubled herself to read the actual rules. You go, fuzz!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 25, 2011


    Is it illegal to jump the gun during the Charleston?

    >From: "Meredith G
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 12:24:14 -0400
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When doing the Charleston is it illegal for a player to pass their tiles (ie. across) before the other players have dealt with the last pass (ie, to the left)?
    >I was playing yesterday and found it very confusing when of our players was already on the next stage of the Charleston before I had even picked up my pass from the left?
    >Thanks in advance for clearing up confusion.
    >Regards,
    >Meredith G

    Hello, Meredith,
    What you're talking about is jumping the gun -- one player placing her passes before a previous pass has been completed by the player to whom she's passing. Your question, "is it illegal," assumes that jumping the gun is a matter of rules. It is not. This is a matter of etiquette instead.
    A player who is very attentive and considerate will watch how the other players' moves are proceeding, and will hold her pass until the previous pass is completed. That's how I roll, religiously and conscientiously. A player who's always jumping the gun is not very attentive and/or not very considerate, in my opinion. But it would be inconsiderate to say that to a player. So what you have to do is be aware that other players are jumping the gun, and maybe even say, sotto voce (under your breath, as if talking to yourself): "first right, first across, first left, second left, second across, last right." This might help you stay on track yourself despite playing with a player who's always jumping the gun. Of course, it might make somebody ask you why you're doing that. That opens the door, and you could say, "I get confused when you jump the gun and pass me my across when I haven't passed left yet, so I'm just trying to keep on track." Then she might get mad at the unspoken implication that she's inconsiderate, and snap back, "you should just play faster, then."
    Which is why I religiously avoid jumping the gun. To avoid that kind of conversation.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 25, 2011


    My mystery tiles, part 2

    >From: "mstanwick
    >Sent: Thu, August 25, 2011 6:51:27 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: My mystery tiles part2
    >Tom. My connection isn't good. Did you get the post below that I sent
    >on Monday?
    >Need to check as my mail server is playing up.
    >cheers
    >Michael
    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: mstanwick
    >Sent: Mon, 22 Aug 2011 22:21
    >Subject: My mystery tiles part2
    >Hi Tom.
    >I have about 8 of these type of tile sets. In my opinion they are very
    >underrated as the engraving quality is absolutely superb. They date
    >from 1951 to about 1969. I have never come across a set with a
    >provenance dated after 1970. There may be sets after that date but I
    >have never seen any. Most come from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.
    >These sets commonly come in flattened rectangular boxes with slide top
    >lids usually with characters in grass script on the cover.
    >I agree with you about the likely area these personages may represent.
    >The Five Kingdoms saga is a very popular subject as are other early
    >Chinese historical sagas.
    >As to the cracks or wan character style in the previous post, they are
    >the flattened style commonly seen in those sets.
    >Regards
    >Michael Stanwick

    Hi Michael,
    My bad. I had received that email, but it fell through the cracks, what with it being the first day of the new semester and all. I should put this and Edwin's description of Alison's other flowers into FAQ 7E.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 25, 2011


    My flowers, part 3

    >From: Alison B
    >Sent: Wed, August 24, 2011 12:01:45 PM
    >Subject: my flowers
    >Wow Edwin!!! Thank you so very much...I DO appreciate it!
    >Take care,
    >Alison


    My flowers, part 2

    >From: Edwin Phua
    >Sent: Wed, August 24, 2011 11:10:26 AM
    >Subject: Flower tiles and their symbolism
    >Dear Tom,
    >I write regarding the most recent query from Alison B on the symbolism of her flower tiles. While I am no expert on Chinese history and literature, I can at least take those characters and do a quick search. From what I see, these sets of flower tiles refer to episodes in Chinese history and literature, in particular the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Where possible (i.e. if I know), I include an explanation of the phrase. I suspect that these phrases in particular refer to operas depicting the episodes from the novel. (After all, opera characters are frequently depicted in mahjong flower tiles. But this could just be a coincidence.)
    >
    >"Making an oath in the peach garden", this refers to a famed incident from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, where the three warriors Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Liu Bei become sworn brothers in a ceremony.
    >
    >"Kong Ming mourns for the dead", Kong Ming being the style name for Zhuge Liang, the famed strategist.
    >
    >"Crossing the river to attend a feast", referring to an episode where Guan Yu go to attend a feast alone. Actually, a more common title for this episode is
    > (literally "A Single Sword going to the Meeting" which actually means "Guan Yu attending the banquet alone").
    >
    >"Jiang Gan steals a letter", referring to Jiang Gan, a subordinate of Cao Cao, stealing a letter from Zhou Yu. This stolen letter leads Cao Cao to think two of his generals were plotting treason, and he thus executes them, but the letter is actually false and is Zhou Yu's trickery.
    >If you look carefully, perhaps the tiles depict the characters and events. For example, Tile 1 from shows an altar, most likely used for the swearing of brotherhood ceremony, while Tiles 2, 3, and 4 show men in a pose that indicate obeisance and solemnity. Tile 3 from shows an altar that may be used for a funeral, while Tile 2 shows a man holding a fan that is characteristic of Zhuge Liang.
    >Best regards,
    >Edwin

    Great, Edwin. So that means that the correct order is:

    I hope Alison appreciates your help.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 24, 2011


    My flowers

    >From: Alison B
    >Sent: Wed, August 24, 2011 7:51:52 AM
    >Subject: Flower Tiles
    >Hi there Tom!
    >Is there anything you can tell me about these flowers relating to their Chinese symbolism? If I were to 'sticker' any of these tiles to use as jokers for NMJL play, which would you choose?
    >Alison

    Hello Alison, you wrote:

    Is there anything you can tell me about these flowers relating to their Chinese symbolism?
    I have not read much on Chinese symbolism or personages or mythology, and I cannot read Chinese. In FAQ 7E, I list several books you can use to do your own research.

    If I were to 'sticker' any of these tiles to use as jokers for NMJL play, which would you choose?
    I wouldn't.

    The writing in the corners of your tiles tell a story. I could use zhongwen.com or mandarintools.com and try to make sense of them, but since I don't read Chinese, it would be several hours of intense labor, and I am not willing to do that for free, especially just so you can cover up some of the writing with stickers.

    The four lines of characters might be out of order (but the order of the characters in a line is correct, since they are numbered). If you are determined, you can go on zhongwen and mandarintools and look up each character by stroke count and maybe decipher the story.

    Why do I say I wouldn't sticker any of those tiles? Well, here's a parallel. Let's say you have some tiles that tell a story, like for instance

      John Henry told the captain,
      When you go to town,
      Buy me a nine pound hammer
      An' I'll drive this steel drill down,

    or

      You load sixteen tons, what do you get
      Another day older and deeper in debt
      Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
      I owe my soul to the company store

    or

      Mary had a little lamb
      Its fleece was white as snow
      And everywhere that Mary went
      The lamb was sure to go

    Which two lines would you sticker over?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 24, 2011


    Just want to know how much I should sell it for

    >From: Hadley F
    >Sent: Tue, August 23, 2011 8:26:37 PM
    >Subject: Mah Jongg Set
    >Hello,
    >I just found this Mah Jongg set that was my great great grandmothers, she bought it in China (she grew up there) and brought it back here. It's been sitting in my grandmothers house and I just found it. I just want to know how much I should sell it for. Thanks for your help, here's a complete list of the set:
    >Contents:
    > 1 tin box w/ sliding lid
    > 147 (8 original flower tiles, 4 bird tiles, 4 look-a-like flower tiles, 32 tiles with bamboo marks and numbers, 36 tiles with red and blue Chinese marks on them, 16 tiles with blue Chinese marks, 32 tiles with bulls eyes on them, 4 green dragons, 3 red dragons, 8 blank tiles, 1 tile with a black mark on it.) bamboo pieces
    > 117 ivory or bone scoring sticks
    >(36 black with 10 black dots on each end, 40 with 2 black dots on each end, 35 with 1 red dots on each end, 7 with 5 on each end,)
    > 1 ivory wind marker with 4 ivory discs
    >Condition:
    > Box and Lid a bit rusty
    > Bamboo tiles clean but with a bit of ink smearing.
    > Sticks clean with a bit of chipping
    > Wind marker in very good condition
    >Over all condition: Very Good
    >Materials:
    > Tiles made of bamboo
    > Sticks made of ivory or bone
    > Wind marker made of ivory
    >Set purchased in ~1900 by my great great grandmother sat in box until now used lightly.
    >Dimensions:
    > Tiles
    > 3 mm in length
    > 2 mm in width
    > 1.5 mm in depth
    > 2. Sticks
    > ~7 mm length
    > ~ .5 mm width
    >3. Wind marker
    > 2 mm depth
    > 2 mm in width
    >The set has no paper pieces.
    >--
    >Hadley F

    Hadley, you wrote:

    147 [all-bamboo tiles total, including] 1 tile with a black mark on it
    That's too bad. A tile being missing reduces the value.

    1 ivory wind marker with 4 ivory discs
    Improbable. Read FAQ 7C2.

    1 tin box w/ sliding lid... a bit rusty
    It looks like it's very plain, no printing, no design. Too bad.

    Set purchased in ~1900
    Impossible. If you don't know a thing, you should not state a guess in your sales pitch. It's definitely from the 1920s or later.

    just want to know how much I should sell it for
    I can't tell much from those tiny photos. Why are they so small?? These bamboo sets were made to be low-cost, and they're pretty common. Since it doesn't have the paper manual, and it's missing one tile, and a blank has been defaced (unskillfully marked to replace the red dragon, presumably), its value is reduced further from its low starting point. I think you would be lucky to get $50 for it. More likely closer to $30. But I don't think anybody will want to pay even $30 for it, if they can't see the set any better. Those photos are way too small, they are not going to help you sell this thing. Be willing to part with it for $20.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 23, 2011


    My six sets, part 5

    >From: "mstanwick
    >Sent: Tue, August 23, 2011 7:40:30 AM
    >Subject: That symbol
    >Tom, that symbol may be for good luck. It is in the Japanese MJ Museum
    >book.
    >Cheers
    >Michael

    Hi Michael,
    Not to be confused with "double happiness"...

    Quite right about the book. On pages 70 and 71, tiles like these are depicted. The English translation is, as always, a bit cryptic. It seems to be saying that the bamboo characters mean "joy" and are supposed to look like cricket whiskers.

    I'd love to look up the character on Zhongwen or MandarinTools, but this is the first week of classes, first time teaching a new class tonight; no time to research Chinese characters right now.
    And yes, the book says this style comes from Suzhou. Ciao!
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 23, 2011


    My six sets, part 4

    >From: "mstanwick
    >Sent: Mon, August 22, 2011 12:09:33 PM
    >Subject: My six sets part 4
    >Hi Tom. I'm on holiday in Italy at the moment, sitting beside the pool
    >at our Villa overlooking Sorrento and the Bay of Naples. Around 38
    >degrees. Paradise. Vesuvius is in the distance.
    >Been reading the letters of Pliny the Younger about the eruption of
    >79AD. Gripping stuff!
    >Now, this set. The box is definitely very modern - of the sort being
    >churned out for those poor quality hello Hello Tom.
    >I am on holiday in Italy, staying in a villa overlooking the Bay of
    >Naples and Capri, and am beside a pool in 38 degree plus temps.
    >Paradise for me.
    >Well, the box is a modern one of good quality and used for cheap modern
    >tile sets we see on eBay so often.
    >The tiles are another matter. They appear to have been hand engraved as
    >I can see the sharp edges and the depth of the cuts. These tiles are
    >the style that the Japanese MJ Museum reckon, if I recall correctly, to
    >come out of Suzhou. The figure on the bams is used as the symbol for
    >longevity I think.
    >The human figures are seen on sets from the 50's and 60's. The dovetail
    >is of good quality so I am reckoning the rest are of similar quality.
    >But as you say, it is possible that these sets are still being produced
    >today in then21st century, since the paint is so bright.
    >But as you point out, someone has attempted to artificially age the
    >tiles. Such a shame as the tile set is quite nice.
    >Regards
    >Michael Stanwick
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hi Michael,
    Wow! Italian villa and Vesuvius. I'm jealous. You wrote:

    The figure on the bams is used as the symbol for
    >longevity I think.

    Really. I guess I could look into that. There's also the different crak. No time to look up Chinese characters right now.

    as you point out, someone has attempted to artificially age the
    >tiles. Such a shame as the tile set is quite nice.
    Yep.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 22, 2011


    My mystery tiles

    >From: Alison B
    >Sent: Mon, August 22, 2011 9:29:09 AM
    >Subject: Mah Jong tiles
    >Hi Tom,
    >I recently purchased two separate 'ladies sized' petite tile sets. I was unaware the second purchase was as similar as the first. The seller did not accurately describe the tile size. Anyway...needless to say, I don't need two so I am selling one of the sets to a friend. I was curious if you could help me determine the value or 'specialness' of the flower tiles before I decide which ones to keep as personal.
    >Following is a picture of the 1st group and I will send a separate email with the 2nd. The only thing I know is what I learned from your website about the rich man/pot of gold and the bird capturing the spider. my query lies in the second set of pictures...the bottom row. I have no clue what these represent.
    >Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated! I am mesmerized by the history of this game and it's meanings. I am a new player and would like to keep the most unique of the two sets. All other tiles are the same.
    >Thank you!
    >Alison
    >> Sent by BlackBerry

    >From: Alison B
    >Sent: Mon, August 22, 2011 9:31:00 AM
    >Subject: Fwd: IMG00258-20110822-1211.jpg
    >Tom,
    >This is the 2nd set of pictures. Bottom row...no clue!
    >Thank you!
    >Alison
    >> Sent by BlackBerry

    Hi Alison, you asked:

    help me determine the value
    These tiles have no particular value. I can only talk about the value of a whole set, but that doesn't seem to be what you're after. If you want a valuation of the whole set, see FAQ 7H and give me more information.

    or 'specialness' of the flower tiles
    There's nothing special about these tiles.

    the second set of pictures...the bottom row. I have no clue what these represent.
    They're important personages in Chinese history or mythology. I can't tell you which person is which. The writing (as you can see in FAQ 7E, which it seems you have already read) just says the names of the four seasons. If you're interested in identifying the personages, I suggest you study up on Chinese symbols and myths -- I've listed books in FAQ 7E (in green text, near the bottom of the page). You can get back to the FAQ by clicking its link, above left.

    before I decide which ones to keep as personal.
    Keep whichever set you think is the more attractive or interesting.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 22, 2011


    My six sets, part 3

    >From: Hellster
    >Sent: Thu, August 18, 2011 7:28:15 PM
    >Subject: Question about a set
    >I have completed the form as best I can and attached pictures. I am not too curious about the value (this set did end up costing me over $200 with the shipping from a friend who bought it in Shanghai and shipped it to me from Tennessee), but I am curious about the provenance, since I have not seen craks, 1 Bams and 1 Dots like the ones in this set and the bamboo (or possibly another wood?) backs are darker than most bone and bamboo tiles I have seen. So, any information you might have about this set (age, value if you do have an idea, and clarification on what seem like unusual tiles to me) would be much appreciated. I understand when I send this it becomes yours to post on the site. No problem with that. I appreciate your time and expertise.
    >SET AGE-DETERMINATION CHECKLIST:
    >1. Write a factual detailed list of all the contents of your set. Describe all the contents, listing all dice, chips, racks, etc.
    >Original 144 tiles with 8 added, for a total of 152. 4 Wind markers that appear to be bone (see photo) and 2 small dice (that also appear to be bone and have 4 and 1 in red, see photo) and a bunch of counting stick that also look like bone; see image. There are four of each tile with the exception of the 'flowers' - there are 8.
    >2. If the set contains any paper materials, like an instruction booklet or scoring card, write the title, author's name (if any), and date (if any) of those materials.
    >None.
    >3. What are the tiles made of?
    >Bone & Bamboo (I believe it is bamboo, it is very dark and the bone is stained).
    >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.
    >A friend purchased this in 2011 in Shanghai at a flea market. The merchant told her the box was new but the tiles were old (I know, I know...). She explained to the merchant that I needed 152 matching tiles to play and he included 8 extra tiles - four completely blank and four that are in the bottom right corner of the scan.
    >5. What are the dimensions of the tiles? Use either inches or metric (one or the other, not both - doesn't matter which; just be precise). Height, width, depth. If the tiles are bone & bamboo, give thickness of the bone portion.
    >1" Tall x 11/16th" wide by 1/2" deep. I estimate the percentage at 50/50.
    >6. How many tiles are there in the set?
    >The set came with 144 tiles but my friend asked the merchant to find 8 more that matched the set.
    >7. What kind of container does the set come in?
    >A 5-drawer box which the merchant told my friend was not old. It is in very good condition. See picture.
    >8. Which kind of craks are in this set -- the older kind or the later kind?
    >I am puzzled because the crak symbol does not look like any old or contemporary craks I have seen. Please see image.
    >9. Provide a picture of the One Bams.
    >Provided.
    >10. Provide a picture of the dragons too.
    >Provided.
    >11. And provide a picture of the flowers/seasons. These tiles are sometimes exotic and can provide information about the age of a set. And you need to tell me how many flowers/seasons there are.
    >Provided. There are 8.
    >12. How many jokers (if any) does the set have?
    >There were no jokers in the set; the merchant provide my friend with 8 matching tiles - 4 blank and four with images. See photo, lower right corner.
    >NOTE: None of the tiles had Western indices on them. I used transparent stickers on the craks and winds so I could play with this set as most of my friends can not discern the winds nor the numbers. I did not write directly on the tiles.
    >I give free information only in this public forum. Fine - thank you. I would appreciate any information and/or educated guess you can give me about this set..
    >Thank you.
    >Regards,
    >Cyndi
    >"Living Well is the Best Revenge."

    Greetings, Cyndi. You wrote:

    I am curious about the provenance
    Um, okay. I went on en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provenance and found that 'Provenance, from the French provenir, "to come from", refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of an historical object.' In other words, "where and when it comes from." As for where: clearly, China.

    any information you might have about this set (age,
    Fairly modern. Certainly no older than the 1960s (those personage flowers, together with those jokers, likely do not go back farther than that). The paint is extremely bright, which indicates to me that the set is much newer (perhaps 21st century). The darkness of the Haversian streaks and bone surface and wood backs indicates either extremely slovenly storage or intentional artificial aging.

    value if you do have an idea
    The fancy box adds to the value. I don't know if you could get $200 for it; maybe you could, since it has unusual carving and that fancy box. In my opinion, these modern artificially aged sets tend to go for more than they should. (Probably because most folks don't know their provenance.) (I love learning new words.) (I mean, I'd heard that word before and had a vague understanding of it, but still...)

    and clarification on what seem like unusual tiles to me
    I don't know which ones seem unusual to you. Have you looked at FAQ 7E?

    There were no jokers in the set; the merchant provide my friend with 8 matching tiles - 4 blank and four with images. See photo, lower right corner.
    Those are jokers. See FAQ 7E.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2011


    Why won't the computer let me do that? (FAQ 25)

    >From: Killua Z
    >Sent: Thu, August 18, 2011 6:08:41 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >First image is, Why I can't win by my self pick?
    >After read really useful information on your webpage.
    >I guest it's because 'it does not have Yaku?'
    >(Or not lol?) I want to be sure about this.
    >If not can you explain some information or lead me to some self read.
    >Second image is about discard.
    >I can't discard five bamboo.
    >Is it because I chi previous player?
    >I have to idea about this one. www
    >Can you advise some page about this situation (maybe on you website) to me.
    >Thank for make a great website.
    >Best regards,
    >Ryuu

    Hi Ryuu, you asked:

    Why I can't win by my self pick?
    >After read really useful information on your webpage.
    >I guest it's because 'it does not have Yaku?'
    >(Or not lol?) I want to be sure about this.

    Yes. Look at the hand, and look at the list of possible yaku in FAQ 25. What yaku do you have? You have all three suits in this hand. What yaku are possible with three suits? Well, "all chows" would be one -- but you don't have all chows. And "all simples" would be one -- but you have a pair of nines. So again I ask you: what yaku do you have? (I do not see one.)

    can you explain some information or lead me to some self read.
    Study FAQ 25 very carefully, and go in FAQ 4b and find other websites that describe Japanese riichi/dora majan. If you are fluent in Japanese, there are some Japanese sites listed.

    Second image is about discard.
    >I can't discard five bamboo.
    >Is it because I chi previous player?

    Yes, exactly. Look at the exposure you made. You already had a 345 in the hand. You chowed your neighbor's 2 to make 234, and now you want to discard a 5. You changed a set in broad daylight, in a manner that is frowned upon. You can discard something else (like the 5-man) right now, and discard the 5-so later.

    Can you advise some page about this situation (maybe on you website) to me.
    Same advice as before. Do more reading. In addition to the websites listed in FAQ 4b, there is also a book in English. My friend Jenn Barr's "Reach Mahjong; The Only Way To Play" is listed in FAQ 3.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2011


    Hong Kong rules

    >From: Minh H
    >Sent: Thu, August 18, 2011 3:14:30 AM
    >Subject: Question about HK style (Chinese Old Style) Mahjong
    >Hi Tom,
    >I've been reading both the 4 winds mahjong knowledge base website http://www.4windsmj.com/kb/kb.htm and Amy Lo's The Book of Mah Jong: An Illustrated Guide as well as your website for rules on how to play HK mahjong and have gotten a pretty good grasp on the game. So I thought. Just today, while playing with my friends, some thing very new and rare come up. I drew the last tile on the "Live" Wall, it turned out to be a season tile, so I drew a replacement tile from the Dead Wall and won on that replacement tile. Here's my question, would that be counted as:
    >1. 1 faan for out on a replacement tile only
    >2. 1 faan for out on a self-drawn tile
    >3. 1 faan for out on the last tile of the wall (I have doubt about this one)
    >4. 2 faan for out on self-drawn and out on a replacement tile
    >I thought it was option 4 and my friend and I got into a big argument over it, so please enlighten us on such matter and put some peace in our hearts. In addition, I've always been perplexed by several rules in regard to how one wins:
    >1. According to all three sources that I read, including your website, out on the last tile from the wall is worth 1 faan, but won't I have to self-draw that tile to make this condition what it is? Otherwise, it will be out on the last discard, since someone else draws that last tile and not me. If my assumption is right, then won't going out on the last tile from the wall always worth 2 points b/c the self-drawn aspect although counted separately is a requirement for winning in this style? In other words, if I do run in to this situation then I will definitely get 1 faan for out on the last tile from the wall and another faan for self-drawn, correct?
    >2. Does out on a replacement tile includes both picking a winning tile from the Dead Wall after declaring a Kong and picking a winning tile from the Dead Wall after revealing a season/flower tile?
    >3. According to your website, since the other two sources are a little vague in this matter, robbing a kong only works if the kong is promoted from an exposed Pung by adding a self-drawn fourth identical tile. As a result, if someone declares a concealed Kong, then I won't be able to rob that Kong, right?
    >Whew!!! That was a very long question. I just want to apologize for being so wordy. I'm trying to make a summarized rules sheet for my friends, who are too busy to go look for information themselves and are interested in the game, so I just want to be thorough. Thank you very much for your time and again I'm sorry for the long e-mail. I'm looking forward to your answers!
    >Felix.

    Hello Felix, you wrote:

    would that be counted as:
    >1. 1 faan for out on a replacement tile
    Yes, if you use that rule (see in FAQ 17 that rule is not universal)

    only
    No.

    1 faan for out on a self-drawn tile
    Yes.

    1 faan for out on the last tile of the wall
    Yes.

    (I have doubt about this one)
    Why?

    2 faan for out on self-drawn and out on a replacement tile
    In the sense that 1+1=2, yes. 1 for self-pick, plus 1 for out on the replacement. AND 1 more for out on the last tile of the wall. All three circumstances occurred, so all three should be scored. None of them implies another, and none of them trumps another.

    out on the last tile from the wall is worth 1 faan, but won't I have to self-draw that tile to make this condition what it is? Otherwise, it will be out on the last discard, since someone else draws that last tile and not me.
    The person who picks that last tile might discard that same tile or might discard a different tile. If the same tile is discarded, and you win on it, then some might argue you still won on the last tile. But let's say the answer to your question is yes, since it doesn't matter (it's 1 fan either way). I think you're asking "since self-pick is implied, why can self-pick be added" -- am I right? The reason it can be added is that self-pick has not been already added in (it would be more than 1 fan if it had).

    In other words, if I do run in to this situation then I will definitely get 1 faan for out on the last tile from the wall and another faan for self-drawn, correct?
    Yes.

    Does out on a replacement tile includes both picking a winning tile from the Dead Wall after declaring a Kong and picking a winning tile from the Dead Wall after revealing a season/flower tile?
    It depends. If you look in my FAQ 17, you'll see they are separate things. And some groups recognize one but not the other.

    robbing a kong only works if the kong is promoted from an exposed Pung by adding a self-drawn fourth identical tile. As a result, if someone declares a concealed Kong, then I won't be able to rob that Kong, right?
    Right. In the case of a concealed kong, all four tiles are part of someone's hand. But in the case of a pung in the process of being promoted, that fourth tile can be thought of as a free-flying tile, a free agent. It's accepted the offer of being part of that kong, but then you made it a better offer.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2011


    Can she change her mind?

    >From: "weeziejen
    >Sent: Thu, August 18, 2011 6:58:32 AM
    >Subject: MJ Question
    >Hi Tom,
    >Is there any penalty for calling MJ, then saying, oops, never mind! (No tile was picked up, no tiles were exposed on her rack).
    >Weezie

    Weezie,
    You've been a reader of this site for a long time, so you should know that just about every question like this is already answered in FAQ 19. This one is answered in FAQ 19AM. And I don't recall if you have my book -- this is rule 112 (page 65).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 18, 2011


    How to handle cascading errors?

    >From: gail d
    >Sent: Mon, August 15, 2011 4:36:27 PM
    >Subject: rule question
    >Hello Tom,
    >Please could you help answer a NMJL rule question and dispute.
    >One player did not pick the next tile from the wall because when the
    >wall was moved out the last tile remaining from the previous wall was
    >placed on top of the new wall a few tiles back from the picking end.
    >The player had quickly picked the wrong tile and discarded the same
    >tile, which was called for mah jongg. Another player said that this
    >was not the next tile to be picked and should be placed back in the
    >wall and the player calling mah jongg would need to take the correct
    >tile and continue playing. The player calling mah jongg objected
    >saying that now everyone knew what tile she needed and that she should
    >be penalized for another player's error.
    >Another player said the player picking the wrong tile should be
    >penalized and called dead. Another said the player calling mah jongg
    >should be entitled to the win. Another said everyone should throw
    >their hands in and start over.
    >How should this issue be resolved?
    >Thanks so much,
    >Gail

    Hello Gail,
    What we have here is a cascade of errors, culminating in someone saying mah jongg. The mah jongg cannot be taken back, since "mah jongg trumps everything." So what we have to figure out is, who pays the winner double? As I wrote in FAQ 9:

      Philosophy #3: When ruling on conflicts arising out of someone's error, first determine who made the error.

    In this case, two players erred (that's why I call it a cascading error):
    1. The player who put the next tile atop the wall, too far back from the wall end, should not have done that. It's okay to put it atop the wall, but it has to be right at the end.
    2. The player who picked from the wall clearly erred too. She should have been paying better attention, and taken the tile player 1 put atop the wall.

    Now that the third player has let it be known that the exposed tile was wanted for mah jongg, the game has to end. It would be unworkable, unthinkable, and massively unfair to let the game continue with everyone knowing what she needs for mah jongg.

    So: who should pay the winner double? I can't tell you how the NMJL would rule this. I can't tell you how a tournament judge would rule this. I can only tell you how I would rule it. Two players erred, so those two should pay the winner double -- in my opinion. It's unfair to make only player 2 pay double, since player 1's error led to player 2's error. And it's unfair to make only player 1 pay double, since it was player 2 who put the winning tile down.

    That's how I see it. We will probably hear from other readers with different solutions. You are welcome to contact the League if you want -- but I recommend you do it by mail, not by phone (see FAQ 19BN).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 15, 2011


    Value of the game set in question

    >Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 19:11:03 -0700
    >Subject: Mah Jong set value
    >From: Pete C
    >Hello Tom
    >I appreciate your helping me with an idea of the value of the game set in question. I've attached a pdf with the info you requested in your FAQ in the Mah Jong Zone. When should check back on your website to find an answer?
    >Thank you for your help.
    >Pete
    >Att: CT Mah Jong.pdf

    Hello Pete, you asked:

    When should check back on your website to find an answer?
    A couple or few hours after you send me the information and pictures in a format I can use. The FAQ specifically says not to use PDF. I couldn't even open the file:

    "Adobe Reader could not open 'CT Mah Jong.pdf' because it is either not a supported file type or because the file has been damaged (for example, it was sent as an email attachment and wasn't correctly decoded)."

    Don't send me PDFs. I need the text either pasted into the email or attached in a text or Word doc, and the photos as separate JPG attachments.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 13, 2011


    Didn't notice she was dead right away, part 2

    >From: Margaret K
    >Sent: Fri, August 12, 2011 8:55:36 AM
    >Subject: Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Thank-you for your response. I had read the FAQ, but needed clarification. My understanding is that the jokers need to be returned to the rack for two reasons: #1 the pung was illegal since it was a closed hand even though it wasn't noticed right away and #2 at the time it was declared dead it was the only exposure on the rack. After more careful study of the FAQ, I see that the time the hand was declared dead would not make any difference in the situation I described. My, this game plays subtle games with the mind... and I love it! I appreciate your web site as a resource.

    Hi Margaret, you wrote:

    I had read the FAQ, but needed clarification. ... After more careful study of the FAQ, I see...I appreciate your web site as a resource.
    OK. I assume you got the info you needed by carefully reading the FAQ. If you need anything else, you know where to find the FAQs, and where to find me! Cheers.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, CA (USA)
    August 12, 2011


    Didn't notice she was dead right away

    >From: Margaret K
    >Sent: Thu, August 11, 2011 10:43:50 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Player exposed a pung of winds and a joker (2011 card all such hands are closed) not realizing it was a closed hand. No other player noticed the mistake until the next round of play and it was called dead at that time. Please clarify that even though no one noticed the error, the pung should have been returned to the rack at the time it was declared dead, making the joker unavailable. There was some question since there was a delay between the exposure and discovery. Thank-you.
    >Margaret, Kenmore, WA

    Hi Margaret.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19P. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 12, 2011


    How the flowers/jokers number changed year by year, part 2

    >From: gina smith
    >Sent: Fri, August 12, 2011 6:38:58 AM
    >Subject: from Gina
    >Hi Tom: Reading about flowers in your Q and A this week. I like that you had a section on your site which showed the number of flowers and jokers used through the years stipulated by the NMJL. Just wanted to point out that some of the older sets, for example Ten Flowers (which had ten flower tiles and two joker tiles) and MET games sets (which also had ten flowers and two joker tiles), were produced in the 1940's. The joker tiles were used to replace any 'main body' tiles that were lost and were probably not used in play for most styles, although I am not familiar with the Asian styles at the time. Maybe they were used in play for some of the Asian styles at the time those sets were produced. Gina

    Hi Gina,
    You wrote me with this information last year, and I added your info as a footnote to column 311 at that time. Thanks to this reminder, I broke one of my rules and edited column 311.
    And no, jokers were not used much in Asian styles of mahjong at that time.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 12, 2011


    How the flowers/jokers number changed year by year?

    >From: "Barbra J
    >Subject: flowers/jokers needed each year
    >Date: Tue, 9 Aug 2011 16:24:30 -0400
    >I have been trying to find the number of flowers and jokers required for every year of american mah jongg since 1940. I can find no year-by-year listing anywhere on the web or your site. (Just some vague references to there being different amounts required then.) Do you know the number that were required in each year?
    >Barb J

    Hi Barbra,
    I talked about that in FAQ 19S (with a link to column 311), FAQ 19AI (with a link to column 311), FAQ 11H, and of course, I also talked about that in column 311.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 9, 2011


    When does the 1st Charleston end and the 2nd begin? (FAQ 19AG)

    >From: JBinBV
    >Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2011 19:43:50 -0400 (EDT)
    >Subject: Stopping the Charleston
    >Could you clarify when the first Charleston ends and when the second Charleston begins?
    >I have always played that the ability to blind pass occurred in the first left.....
    >and after that first left the Charleston could be stopped.....
    >and blind passing was also allowed in the last right pass.
    >Recently it was questioned if the ability to stop the Charleston was after
    >the first left had been completed....and before the second left occurred....
    >or that the second Charleston did not start until after the second
    >left had been finished.
    >A definition as to when the first pass ends....and the second pass
    >starts....would solve the question.

    Hi Jbin, you wrote:

    I have always played that the ability to blind pass occurred in the first left.....
    >and after that first left the Charleston could be stopped.....
    >and blind passing was also allowed in the last right pass.
    Yep, that's all correct. And good for you, saying "blind pass" (and not "steal").

    Recently it was questioned if the ability to stop the Charleston was after
    >the first left had been completed....and before the second left occurred....
    >or that the second Charleston did not start until after the second
    >left had been finished.
    So, someone is thinking that the first Charleston goes R-A-L-L, and the second Charleston goes A-R. That doesn't sound a little lopsided? (^_^)

    A definition as to when the first pass ends....and the second pass
    >starts....would solve the question.
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19AG. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    8/8, 2011


    The 2nd Charleston (column 493), part 4

    >From: "Molly Abrohams"
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 10:46:07 -0500
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Tom, Thank you for your recent column giving examples of what to do after the first Charleston. This brings up a strategy question on which I would appreciate your comments. In column #493 the fourth hand, you suggest stopping the Charleston - I assume because you have seven tiles towards at least two viable hand possibilities and only two tiles to pass. Makes sense. However, I have heard another school of thought that feels stopping the Charleston is only recommended when you are two or three tiles from Mahjongg. So with a hand like the one under discussion, you should make a choice and continue play - the logic being that you have a good chance of improving your hand with three more passes plus the courtesy pass and you are not alerting anyone to any info about your hand. There are probably statistics on the chances of a hand improving during the second Charleston but I think this advice just comes from conventional wisdom/experience. Is this strategy flawed? Using your considerable wisdom/experience, could you please comment? In addition, if someone stops the Charleston, another strategy is to refrain from doing a courtesy pass with them thus forcing them to pick to improve their hand. Is that nasty or smart? I prefer to be smart not nasty. Molly

    Hi Molly,
    Okay, I understand that that other school of thought exists. Personally, I don't buy into the idea of "never" stopping unless I'm 2 or 3 tiles from mah jongg -- because that almost never happens. I am aware that there are people who use this as their strategy, but I wonder how that works out for them. And like I told Donna in part 3 on July 18, my philosophy is "never say never." Anyway, I wrote this week's column about that part of your email. You also wrote:

    if someone stops the Charleston, another strategy is to refrain from doing a courtesy pass with them thus forcing them to pick to improve their hand. Is that nasty or smart?
    It might be both. I know I've done that, especially when I have a total junk hand anyway and her having stopped the Charleston means I'll never have a hand. The chances that she'll give me anything that'll turn my garbage into gold are nil. And if she wants tiles, then maybe it's smart not to trade with her. But yes, sometimes it's a little nasty. But so what? Everybody knows that when you stop the Charleston, other players are likely to get a little upset. So a Charleston-stopper has to thicken her skin when she says, "I'm stopping."

    I prefer to be smart not nasty.
    Then you're the kind of person I like to play with. But sometimes you can't be smart, and sometimes nastiness can be delivered unintentionally.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 7, 2011


    Is It Ivory? (FAQ 7C2)

    >From: "Rachel"
    >Subject: Mahjong Tiles Bracelet
    >Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2011 16:22:11 -0600
    >Hello Tom,
    >I recently acquired a bracelet made of Mahjong tiles. I was told it was ivory but am unsure now after reading your article online. I can send you photos of what I have though not sure if I can get a good picture of what I believe I see as schreger lines. Would you mind if I sent you pics so you could give me an idea if it is genuine elephant ivory?
    >Thanks!
    >Sincerely,
    >Rachel J
    >"It's the Character that's the Strongest that God Gives the Most Challenges To. Take that as a compliment!" Carroll O'Connor

    Hi Rachel,
    I thought FAQ 7C2 gave three very clear steps to identifying real ivory. If you try the three steps and you don't get any yeses (or checkmarks), then your items are not real ivory. If you get one or two yeses, though, then they probably are.
    But if FAQ 7C2 still doesn't convince you whether or not they're ivory, then I can only give you a free answer if you email me really good photos. I'll post the information here on this bulletin board, with the photos. If you can't email them, and want to snailmail the photos instead, then I have to ask you to pay me, and the charge could be more than the bracelet cost you.
    There are some sets of miniature mah-jongg tiles being sold, made of genuine ivory (imported before the ban). I have one of those sets. Its tiles measure 1/2" by 3/4" by 3/16" thick, and the tiles have sharp corners. If your tiles measure up, AND you get one or two yeses from the FAQ 7C2 checklist, then they're probably ivory.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 7, 2011


    When can I redeem a joker? (FAQ 19M)

    >From: Jeryl Genschow
    >Sent: Sun, August 7, 2011 9:51:15 AM
    >Subject: MJ question
    >A player throws a 7 Dot, I need it for a Kong.
    >I only have one 7 Dot in my hand, but another player has two jokers with two flowers exposed.
    >I have two flowers, can I claim the 7 dot, exchange the flowers for jokers and then expose my Kong?
    >My name is Jeryl Genschow. I utilize your site frequently and recommend it to the new players I have been teaching.
    >Thanks!

    Hi Jeryl,
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19M. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 7, 2011


    Interpreting American rules

    >From: Carol N
    >Sent: Sat, August 6, 2011 10:04:15 AM
    >Subject: National Card Rules
    >11 22 33 4444 5555
    >Can you do 11 22 33 5555 8888
    >The card says the pairs have to be consecutive and the kongs just ascending (doesn't state consecutive also as in the 111 222 3333 4444)
    >Thanks for your help.
    >Also, is there any rule about someone dragging all the discards toward her for viewing -- rather than 'just leaving them in place'. I read and reread the book and couldn't find anything....
    >Thank again
    >Carol

    Hello Carol, you wrote:

    The card says the pairs have to be consecutive and the kongs just ascending (doesn't state consecutive also
    It should be obvious from the depiction of the hand that, despite the fact that the parenthetical is necessarily short, the League intends that the kongs be consecutively ascending.

    is there any rule about someone dragging all the discards toward her for viewing
    No. People do it all the time, especially those whose sight is diminishing (and those who do not have the years of mah-jongg tile-matching game playing that I do).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2011


    Taiwanese, part 6

    >Date: Sat, 6 Aug 2011 10:22:10 -0400
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Joseph S
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sorry for the confusing analogy. I was trying to compare the Taiwanese dealer bonus to the dealer receiving double in other forms of mahjong. Didn't work to well. I happened to miss the bonuses on page 107, I guess. It's stated pretty clearly on page 107. oops.

    No problem, Joe. It was fun figuring out the problem.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 6, 2011


    Taiwanese, part 5

    >Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2011 22:38:38 -0400
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Joseph S
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I thought that because it made sense historically. I figured if the dealers pays and receives double in Chinese Classical, that the dealer bonus was a continutation of this. So really in Taiwanese the dealer receives "double" but doesn't pay double. So if the dealer pays he always pays hand value plus one tai?

    Hi Joe, you wrote:

    I thought that because it made sense historically. I figured if the dealers pays and receives double in Chinese Classical, that the dealer bonus was a continutation of this.
    No. The dealer multiple-win bonus is similar to a practice in Japanese mahjong. Keeping the deal over multiple hands is sort of rare, so it's awarded.

    So really in Taiwanese the dealer receives "double" but doesn't pay double.
    In any game where the dealer receives double, the dealer also pays double. But I thought you were using a "only discarder pays" rule -- and Amy Lo says the dealer either pays a one-tai bonus or gets a one-tai bonus. That means hand value plus one.

    Are we talking about two different things? This morning we were talking about the two-tai "dealer multiple wins bonus" that a dealer gets for continuing to deal (winning more than once while being dealer). Now are we talking about the one-tai "dealer bonus" (the extra tai dealer pays -- or receives when winning one time)? That paragraph on page 107 is talking about multiple situations, with varying bonuses.

    The idea of having to give his two-tai "dealer multiple wins bonus" to the next winner (and there will be one, in the vast majority of cases) is unworkable. The dealer would always know that his two-tai multiple-wins bonus is only his until he inevitably loses the hand, and the next person who won would grab all the dealer's lucky gains unfairly. And then the next person who wins can't take it away from the person who took it from the dealer.

    So if the dealer pays he always pays hand value plus one tai?
    That's what Amy says on page 107. If you're using her book as your rulebook, then "yes."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2011


    Taiwanese, part 4

    >Date: Fri, 5 Aug 2011 18:54:42 -0400
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Joseph S
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Me again. We had a lot of fun playing Taiwanese the other night. A scenario came up where the dealer won two hands in a row. I thought that the rule was that if the dealer pays after he won a hand, then he pays his bonus to the winner. So if the dealer wins two hands, then pays in the third, then he pays the hand value plus five points for his third hand. Is this right, or does the dealer only pay one point after his first win? It doesn't say in Lo's book, at least not that I know of.

    Hi Joe, you wrote:

    I thought that the rule was that if the dealer pays after he won a hand, then he pays his bonus to the winner.
    Why did you think that?

    So if the dealer wins two hands, then pays in the third, then he pays the hand value plus five points for his third hand. Is this right
    Doesn't sound right to me, no sir.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 5, 2011


    Does "0" mean whatever dragon matches the 2 and 1s?

    >From: Shirley L
    >Sent: Wed, August 3, 2011 3:24:52 PM
    >Subject: Question re 2011 Mational Mah Jongg League, Inc card
    >Hi:
    >My name is Shirley and I'm from Victoria , BC . We seem to have some dissention within our group as to the proper way to play the following pattern in Singles and Pairs on the 2011 card (American rules).
    > Last pattern under Singles & Pairs
    > FF 2011 (in Green) 2011 (in Red) 2011 (in Blue) - (3 Suits)
    >Some of us feel that with stating 3 suits the 0's in each 2011 should be the matching dragon for the group
    > e.g. 2011 in Green (Bams), the 0 should be the Green Dragon; 2011 in Red (Craks), the 0 should be the Red Dragon; and of course, the 3rd suit should be Dots with the
    > White Dragon.
    >Other members feel that all the dragons (no matter what colour the 2's and 1's are should always be the White Dragon.
    > e.g. 2011 in Green (Bams) would have the 2 and both 11 in Bams but the dragon would be White; also 2011 in Red would be in Craks with a White Dragon.
    >I would appreciate it if you could clarify the ruling on this for us.
    >Thank you for your help in the above.
    >Shirley L
    >Victoria, BC

    Hello Shirley, you wrote:
    Some of us feel that with stating 3 suits the 0's in each 2011 should be the matching dragon for the group
    Read the card, Shirley. Look at the very top. The rule is written in plain English, in red, and in all capital letters. The rule applies even if you live in Victoria, and even if it's Wednesday, and even if there are three differently-colored 2011s in the hand.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 3, 2011


    Taiwanese, part 3

    >Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2011 18:04:49 -0400
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Joseph S
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >So to clarify the scoring system you used in your Taiwanese columns, (so I have a clear scoring system for my game tonight)
    >In column 60, the dealer wins and scores:
    >One, for exposed kong, two more for concealed kong, for three; one for honor pung, for four; plus three flowers, for seven; plus two for mahjong, nine; then one for dealer, ten, and if a dealer's repeat, three for twelve; and if three-peat, five for fourteen, etc.
    >For mahjong newbies who want to learn an easy, laid back, but fun and strategic mahjong game I recommend Taiwanese. The only-the-thrower-pays feature is fun because you all get to laugh at the one loser, ie, the thrower.

    Hi Joe,
    You got all that out of my columns? Or you're combining my columns with Amy Lo's scoring? I have found three different Taiwanese scoring systems: Dragon Chang's, Amy Lo's, and Steve Willoughby's. I honestly don't even remember what scoring system I used for the columns. What you have to do is either decide on a system for your group to use, or get your group to work on it with you. Then be prepared to make adjustments if it turns out that some scoring elements seem to earn too much. Tell you what, I'll put an Excel file comparing all 3 systems at http://sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/

    So you came up with ten points on dealer winning the above hand by discard. (I marked one kong as melded/concealed by turning two tiles face-down).

    Flowers not corresponding to one's seat are worth a tai under Dragon Chang's and Amy Lo's systems, but not under Steve Willoughby's. So let's say we're not using Steve Willoughby's system. Three tai for having three flowers.

    Two points for mahjong? I don't remember where I got that. Maybe from the group I played with at Farmers Market. Let's drop those points, since they're not in any of the three systems I have on file.

    Exposed kong = 1, concealed kong = 2. Check. Honor pung = 1. Check.

    Dealer point for winning checks with Amy Lo. Which totals up to 8 points. I mean, tai.

    You mentioned the "only-the-thrower-pays feature." You can use that feature with any variant you want (read FAQ 14).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 2, 2011


    Taiwanese, part 2

    >Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2011 22:17:02 -0400
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >From: Joseph S
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sorry, I should have been more clear. On page 108, she describes "wu tsu", absence of honor tile, as one tai. This probably means not only no honor pungs in your complete hand but also a lack of honor pair.

    Hi Joe,
    Okay, wu tsu. That means the absence of any winds or dragons in the hand -- not just the absence of paired or punged winds or dragons. "Wu tsu" means "no honors." Or to put it differently, "nothing but suit tiles." It's a common type of Asian hand, that often earns a minor score.
    As for why, well, again it doesn't really matter. It's a "pattern."

    • Nothing but honors
    • Complete absence of honors
    • Nothing but chows
    • Complete absence of chows
    • Nothing but one suit
    • Nothing but terminals
    • Complete absence of terminals and honors

    See? "Patterns."

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 1, 2011


    Taiwanese scoring

    Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2011 18:37:52 -0400
    Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    From: Joseph S
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi Mr. Sloper, sorry I keep bothering you with questions.
    >I recently bought Amy Lo's book, which I've been using to as a guideline to play Taiwanese mahjong. While its a good buy, she sometimes doesn't get how English works. So I have some questions about the scoring, the most important part of the Taiwanese game.
    >1.According to one of your early columns on Taiwanese, it says you get two points for mahjong. I don't see that in the book though.
    >2. I'm also confused on how the dealer bonus works. What I got out of it was the first time a player deals its one point, the next time its three points, the next time five, etc. because she says that each repeat is two extra tais. (Taiwanese term for point)
    >3. why would points be given for not having flowers or an honor pung? I don't get that.
    >May the tiles be with you.
    >Joe S

    Hi Joe,
    No bother at all. You wrote:

    According to one of your early columns on Taiwanese, it says you get two points for mahjong. I don't see that in the book though.
    Different players in Taiwan use different variations. Some people may add points for going mahjong -- some may have those points factored in already. No matter what kind of mahjong you play, whenever you sit down at a table with people you haven't played with before, you always have to start by clarifying the table's rules. Amy Lo may play one way, while her cousin Hi Lo plays another way. She only describes her own rules in her book, thumbing her nose at her cousin all the while.

    I'm also confused on how the dealer bonus works. What I got out of it was the first time a player deals its one point, the next time its three points, the next time five, etc. because she says that each repeat is two extra tais. (Taiwanese term for point)
    Sounds to me like you understand what she's saying just fine. Then again... You understand it's only when the dealer wins repeatedly (without having to pass the deal), right?

    why would points be given for not having flowers
    Please don't expect to understand a "reason" for the existence of every rule. But in this case, there is a reasonable justification -- there being 8 flowers in the set, it's actually slightly rare to win a hand without getting one.

    or an honor pung?
    I don't know what you're asking. Can you cite me a page number and a line on the page?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 1, 2011


    Larry Krams

    >From: Mah Jongg Madness & Mah Jongg Inc
    >Sent: Mon, August 1, 2011 8:18:25 Am
    >Subject: We Have Lost Our Dear Mah Jongg Friend - Larry Krams
    >We have lost our dear mah jongg friend
    >Larry Krams
    > Our Dear Friend, Larry Krams, passed away this morning - from injuries he sustained in a plane crash July 30.
    > In 1985, Larry and Dorothy Krams founded Mah Jongg Cruises and Tournaments. Their first major Mah Jongg venture was in December of 1986, when in conjunction with the National Mah Jongg League they organized the first Mah Jongg Cruise Tournament. Over 200 Mah Jongg players started a great tradition that year, as they played Mah Jongg and sailed the Caribbean for 7 days.
    > When Dorothy passed away from breast cancer in 2005, Larry promised he would carry on the tradition, so that her many friends could continue to enjoy the fun and camaraderie of their distinctive Mah Jongg events. This tradition of unique cruise tournaments and weekend get-a-ways has continued for 26 years; and under the able management Larry established - will still be around for many years to come.
    > Larry, who semi-retired 5 years ago following the death of his beloved wife Dorothy, decided life was too short to stop doing the things he loved. Motorcycles, flying, golf, and gourmet dining were his pastimes and his passion.
    > Larry leaves behind his daughter Sherri, brothers Stuart and Steve, and many, many friends.
    >We know you will miss him as much as we will.
    >Gladys Grad and Phil Klinsky
    >Mah Jongg Madness
    >if you wish to make a donation in Larry Krams and Dorothy Krams' memory
    >Please consider the
    >Susan G. Komen
    >Breast Cancer Fund
    >http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=7kirumeab&et=1106887558954&s=2981&e=001_eV5My7grbVXwvtp1V-
    JP4fIpLRTQqSIJzlJdsu8L4hBl9qvXvLzhwGAkwY40DxOapUX6iXH9QQeRuc7mo76TTRQiZrgTc2UFzkw4SXM65GSRMcH
    iGdOVTLmjkd5ceDj-v7CthLG5aI=

    I knew and liked Larry and Dorothy. They were very kind to me when I attended my very first mah jongg tournament, which they were hosting in Las Vegas. That was back when I was working at Activision on the Shanghai games. I still use the canvas mah jongg bag they gave me back then.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 1, 2011


    Was I being overly strict?

    >Sun, July 31, 2011 8:00:36 PM
    >Dead on a Joker exchange
    >From: Donna M
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have a question and checked your book and website to the best of my ability. I play regularly with several women in various games who are seasoned long-time players. Occasionally someone forgets to pick when they make a beeline to first exchange a joker. When this happens someone usually says "did you pick a tile", reminding them to do so.
    >Page 58. Section 86 a. states that a tile must be picked (or called for first) (I teach this in my beginning MJ class to all my new players)
    >Today I watched a player exchange a joker and discard another tile from her hand without picking. I then called her out for only having twelve tiles, which she had no problem with. Interesting that the next time she did a joker exchange she did it right.
    >My question is was I being being overly strict (as you discuss on your site referenced below)? Should players be allowed to remind another player to pick? I'd appreciate your answer and any other comments on this particular issue.
    >FYI We play by standard NMJL rules, but do have a table rule that if someone throws a tile to a third exposure (regardless if it could be more than one hand) that person pays for the table.
    >Hope you are enjoying your summer!
    >Donna
    > BEING OVERLY STRICT -- When you're playing in a tournament, strict enforcement of the rules is expected and proper. But if you have a friendly group, you can be a little looser with the rules. I know one group that wanted to adopt the strict "you touch the wall tile, it's yours" rule, and another group that says "as long as you didn't look at it, you can change your mind and take the discard." I am adaptable to either rule. The latter rule is more friendly, and I like it better. But when I'm in a tournament, stand back. You touch that tile, it's yours

    Hi Donna, you wrote:

    was I being being overly strict
    No. Rules is rules. And there's a good reason for this one. If you permit a player to redeem before calling, then she might make an otherwise-illegal win, or she would collect double winnings from the wrong person or persons.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 31, 2011


    The book says you have to name a tile before picking it up.

    >From: "Constance R
    >Cc: "Melinda F
    >Subject: Mah-Jung Q+Aile
    >Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2011 00:06:23 -0400
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: regarding A: 2. Calling a discard do you have to name the tile before picking it up? And when you are waiting for one tile for Mah Jong is it ok to just say MJ and pick up the tile or must you name it first. We had a problem tonight on this. The book said you m ust call the tile when discarding and call it by name when picking up! I just called MJ and picked up the tile and this cause a big problem.
    >Thanking you ahead . Connie

    Hello Connie, you wrote:

    regarding A: 2. Calling a discard
    What? You lost me. Are you referring to something in one of my many FAQs? If so, which one?

    do you have to name the tile before picking it up?
    No.

    And when you are waiting for one tile for Mah Jong is it ok to just say MJ and pick up the tile or must you name it first.
    See my previous answer, above.

    The book said
    What book? Which book are you talking about? There are dozens and dozens of mah-jongg books, so it helps me if you tell me the author's name. Are you talking about my book?

    you m ust call the tile when discarding
    That's unfortunate wording. I would word it differently. I would say, "you must NAME the tile when discarding." See what I wrote about "what's in a word," in Column 353.

    and call it by name when picking up!
    I doubt it really says that in any book. Please tell me the name of the book's author, and tell me the page number, and tell me where on the page you see such a thing. I have just about every mah-jongg book, so I can look at the wording and see where this idea came from. Then maybe I can clarify this for you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 28, 2011


    We need a play-by-play announcer, part 2

    >From: "Lynn P
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2011 22:53:57 -0400
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Re: my email of 7/28 which you titled "Play by play announcer"; Mea Culpa, I did mean exposed and not racked when referring to calling a discard. I have already told the group that you cannot rack a called discard. I have asked hostesses to turn their music "so low that I can't hear it!" and even today a player requested a cloth cover for a plastic table because of the noise of the clacking tiles. You didn't answer this question (I guess I wrote too much):

      Q3: So you're saying I can take my time?
      A3: No. There is such a thing as "too late." If a player has claimed the discard and exposed, it's too late for another player to speak her own claim for the tile.

    >My question is re A3 above: What if the other person wanted to claim tile for Mah Jongg? Must the player who has already claimed and exposed called tile but not yet discarded give it to player who called too late. I say no since players should be paying attention but a few others say Mah Jongg trumps all so player who has already called, taken and exposed must give called exposed tile to player for Mah Jongg. Would not having discarded yet make a difference? I am referring to "Window of Opportunity."
    >
    >I agree with all your answers and had a few laughs at them. I did notice that your stategy column is somewhat behind but I figured you were taking your deserved vacation from your teaching position. As a retired elementary teacher I certainly looked forward to my vacations! Sorry for the different sizes and types. My old laptop died and I am getting used to this new one. Thanks again & looking forward to your new columns and answers, Lynn P.

    Hello Lynn, you wrote:

    What if the other person wanted to claim tile for Mah Jongg?
    Too late is too late. Once the other person has claimed and exposed, it's too late. Even if it's Tuesday at high noon on a blue moon in the eleventh month! Too late is too late. It happens.

    a few others say Mah Jongg trumps all
    There's an exception to every rule*. "Too late" is "too late." The customer is always right, right? So the customer being always right trumps every other rule of retail. But not after the store has closed, I mean, hello, if you can't get into the store, then you can't waltz in and expect to be right! So mah jongg trumps everything, but not after the store has closed! You can't go break into somebody's house without knocking, then when she says "you never heard of knocking?" you just say "mah jongg" and everything is all right. Mah jongg doesn't really trump "all."

    * There is an exception to the rule that says there's an exception to every rule, too: the rule is not stated, "Without exception, there's an exception to every rule." Because there can be an exception to that rule, too.

    New rule: "mah jongg trumps everything, except when it can't reasonably do so."

    Would not having discarded yet make a difference?
    I already stated the rule: "once the other person has claimed and exposed, it's too late." Even if somebody put peanut butter in your carrots.

    So if you miss calling a tile for mah jongg because you were too busy jammin' to Fred Rich's Hot-Cha-Cha Band with your eyes closed, and then after someone else has called it and exposed it, you should not say, "aw, I wanted that for mah jongg," because then you've revealed an important secret about your hand. Not that anybody would ever discard that tile again anyway, since it could be redeemed for a joker. But you get my drift.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 28, 2011


    We need a play-by-play announcer

    >From: Lynn P
    >Sent: Thu, July 28, 2011 3:09:14 PM
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Regarding this info in your Q&A 19AM:

      1. "When two players claim a discard for exposure, the player whose turn would be next in order of play (counterclockwise from discarder) gets the tile. Likewise when two players claim a discard for mah-jongg.

      Q2: What if the two calls aren't simultaneous - that one player verbalizes her claim after another player has already spoken for it?
      A2: It's not a race. The player next in turn gets the tile.

      Q3: So you're saying I can take my time?
      A3: No. There is such a thing as "too late." If a player has claimed the discard and exposed, it's too late for another player to speak her own claim for the tile. My question is re A3 is what if the other person wanted to claim tile for Mah Jongg must the player who has already claimed and exposed called tile give it to player who called too late. I say no since players should be paying attention but a few others say Mah Jongg trumps all so player who has already called, taken and exposed must give called exposed tile to player for Mah Jongg.

    > 2. In RD&WW, p. 52 #59.

      "To claim a discard, the player must vocalize the claim. 59 b. The player must speak the claim loudly and clearly enough that all players can hear the claim.

    > "Our players usually say, "Call." Just one word. Take the discard and rack it with their other tiles.
    > Sometimes we play at a large round or oval table, music is in the background and sometimes the other table is mixing their tiles making more noise, and the player speaks softly so other players don't know a discard has been called and racked with a joker. Another player will discard a tile that can redeem a joker on the rack especially if she is on the far end opposite the player who has the exposure showing. Is it the responsibility of the caller to call attention to the fact that she has displayed a called tile when she does? I don 't necessarily mean she has to say, "Look I have a joker on my rack someone can claim." but wouldn't it be Mah Jongg etiquette to at least say, "I have an exposure. or I called a discard." so all at the table would be aware of this?
    >
    > Your expertise is certainly appreciated and I thank you for your answers to all my questions and for your wonderful book, " The Red Dragon & The West Wind". I also enjoy and look forward to your weekly column. I keep hoping those jokers come my way! Lynn P.

    Hello Lynn, you wrote:

    Our players usually say, "Call." Just one word.
    Is there a point you're making here? I don't see it.

    Take the discard and rack it with their other tiles.
    A player is never permitted to take a discard and put it in among her other tiles on the sloping front of the rack. Explain the rules to the players one more time. Then, the next time someone takes a discard and puts it among her concealed tiles, tell her she's dead. She'll learn.

    music is in the background and sometimes the other table is mixing their tiles making more noise, and the player speaks softly so other players don't know a discard has been called and racked with a joker.
    There's so much wrong with this statement!
    The music is your group's decision. If they want the music on, I have no problem with that. But if it gets in the way of the game, maybe it's not a wise decision.
    When I'm playing in a noisy situation, I always speak my verbalizations louder. Your players can do the same.
    When I'm playing in a noisy situation, if a player doesn't hear another player's verbalization, she usually asks the speaker to repeat what she said. Your players can do the same.
    If a player is only listening and not looking, that is her own problem. It's every player's responsibility to stay on top of what's going on. If she doesn't pay attention, nobody else can be blamed for that.
    Hopefully you don't really mean she "racked" it -- hopefully what you really meant to say was she "exposed" it. If she racks a taken discard, she's dead.

    Another player will discard a tile that can redeem a joker on the rack especially if she is on the far end opposite the player who has the exposure showing. Is it the responsibility of the caller to call attention to the fact that she has displayed a called tile when she does?
    No. Every woman plays for herself. Every woman is supposed to pay attention. It is not necessary to have a narrator or play-by-play commentator to help the players know what's going within the three-foot space right in front of their faces. Even if there's a Victrola playing, and even if the room is lit by gaslight.

    wouldn't it be Mah Jongg etiquette to at least say, "I have an exposure. or I called a discard." so all at the table would be aware of this?
    You said she said "call." You didn't say the other players at the table are all blind. People play every week at noisy tournaments somewhere across this great continent; there's no reason why your players would need rules that are any different from everybody else. They just need to play smarter, and not blame others for their own refusal to pay attention to what's going on right in front of them.

    Sorry if I sound harsh, but mah-jongg is a game that requires some thinking and some reasonable awareness of what's going on at the table. And I don't know of a good way to accommodate players who want a more casual (read: "laid-back") play experience, with do-overs and changes of heart and rule-bending and all. I don't know why you had to quote page 52 and FAQ 19AM to me (I can see the applicability of page 52 to your question, but still).

    look forward to your weekly column.
    I've been lazy this summer. Sorry about that, Lynn!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 28, 2011


    Can she change her mind? (FAQ 19AM)

    >From: "Sharon"
    >Subject: question
    >Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2011 19:17:04 -0700
    >If player calls for a tile, sets it on rack and then realizes they did not need it can they put it back??? They have not exposed their hand nor discarded any tiles????
    >We would appreciate clarification on this matter. Thank you!!

    Sharon, please read Frequently Asked Question 19AM. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2011


    Floating tables, part 2

    >From: Derek D
    >Sent: Tue, July 26, 2011
    >Subject: re: Floating Mah Jongg tables
    >Oh Great Poobah,
    >Here is a link to the article which I found in a blog when I googled "floating mah jongg tables". Click to open or cut and paste to your browser.
    >Thanks for your feedback. If I decide to start a custom business making these things, I will notify you.
    >I remain your unworthy servant.
    >D
    >http://www.hadassahmagazine.org/site/apps/nlnet/content.aspx?c=twI6LmN7IzF&b=5698175&ct=8917911
    >Derek

    Thanks, Derek. I added the link to FAQ 7F.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2011


    Floating tables

    >From: Derek D
    >Sent: Tue, July 26, 2011 7:01:59 AM
    >Subject: Floating Mah Jongg tables
    >Oh great and mighty Webmaster,
    >I wonder if you can help me. We live here in Florida and life pretty much revolves around the pool. We have seen pictures of floating tables from the 20's but can find no modern counterpart. Can you offer any insights?
    >Thank you in advance for your assistance.
    >Derek

    Hi, Derek.
    I have not seen any of these pictures you mention. Can you tell me where you saw them? I know nothing about floating mah-jongg tables offered by anyone today, but you can contact the vendors listed in FAQ 4.
    May the table turn lazily for you...
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2011


    Can she change her mind? (FAQ 19AM)

    >From: irene z
    >Sent: Tue, July 26, 2011 7:12:23 AM
    >Subject: quick question
    >If a player (whose turn its is) touches the next tile to choose have to take that tile (because she touched it) or can she change her mind and call the down tile which was just discarded?
    >Thanks,
    >Irene Z

    Irene, please read Frequently Asked Question 19AM. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2011


    Using a joker in a 2011 (FAQ 19E)

    >From: James F
    >Sent: Tue, July 26, 2011 8:02:47 AM
    >Subject: rules
    >Hi, I have a question that no one seems to know.
    >On the very last hand of the 2011 card, FF 2011 2011 2011 can jokers be used for any of the numbers? I know they can't be used for a F.
    >I appreciate your help.
    >Doris F

    Doris, please read Frequently Asked Question 19E. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 26, 2011


    Carol Kaiserman

    >From: "Idelle D
    >Subject: Carol Kaiserman
    >Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2011 18:40:10 -0700
    >I was sad to see in one of your past columns that Carol Kaiserman passed away. Do you know when she died and do you have any news clippings you can share?
    >Thank you.
    >Idelle D

    Hi Idelle, I guess it was sometime in July 2010, probably about a year ago now (3rd or 4th week of July). I have no clippings.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 22, 2011


    Must the blind pass be verbalized?

    >From: "Alice W
    >Subject: blind passing
    >Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:17:12 -0700
    >I have a question about doing a blind pass.
    >Does the player who is doing the "blind pass" need to announce (verbally) to the table that he/she is doing a blind pass?
    >And if so, does that player also need to indicate verbally the number of tiles he/she is blind passing?
    >If no verbal announcement is required, then it is just up to all players to observe who is doing a blind pass and how many tiles they are passing.
    >Thank you
    >Alice Wright
    >
    >From: "Alice W
    >Subject: FW: blind passing
    >Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 17:34:19 -0700
    >I should add to my previous email (see below) that we play Mah Jongg according to the National Mah Jongg League rules in case this makes a difference.
    >Thanks.

    Hello Alice, you asked:

    Must the blind pass be verbalized?
    No. This is one of those FAQ 19BK cases. If you can't find the rule written anywhere, it's usually because it's not a rule.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 20, 2011


    Which tile gave her mah-jongg?

    >Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2011 19:57:45 -0700 (PDT)
    >From: Sue W
    >Subject: mah jong rules
    >hi,
    >here's an interesting question.
    >this happened in our game today and we were of differing opinions as to who gave the mah jong:
    >player a threw a tile
    >player b took the tile and exposed 4 7's.
    > at the same time, she took a tile she had in her hand and exchanged it for a joker that was in player a's exposed tiles.
    >she then called "mah jong".
    >question:
    >did player a give the mah jong with the 7 that she threw
    >or did player b get mah jong herself by taking the joker?
    >thx for your help with this
    >sue

    Hello Sue,
    Which tile gave her mah-jongg? Was it the first one, the seven thrown by player A? Or was it the second one, the joker that she got after making the exposure (that she could not have gotten without first making the exposure)? (Hint: both tiles were needed to complete her hand -- the first one did not and could not do it, so therefore...)
    If a player needs two tiles to win, the first of those two tiles can never possibly be "the" tile that gave her the win. It's only logical.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 18, 2011


    The 2nd Charleston (column 493), part 3

    >Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2011 21:02:30 -0400
    >From: Donna M
    >Subject: The Second Charleston Part 2 July 11
    >Hi Tom,
    >Thanks for your response. I appreciate your explanation about what you would have done and have a greater/different understanding about stopping the passing.
    >I didn't mean to ditch the other two questions you asked so here are the answers:
    >
    >>Just to be clear. You're not saying, are you, that your friends impose a rule prohibiting stopping the Charleston when you have three passable tiles?
    >
    >We don't impose this as a rule.
    >
    >>Are you just saying that they recognize three passable as a reasonable strategic guideline for whether or not to stop the Charleston (not a "rule")?
    >
    >It's not a hard and fast strategic guideline, but in some of my games this feeling does prevail. Some players have voiced that if you're split between two different hands, it's best to pick one as stopping limits your chances to get tiles to complete a hand as well as being "fair" to the rest of the players who do want the passing to continue.
    >
    >> Do you see a problem with my thinking as regards to problem #4 in the July 3 column, or do you have a question?
    >
    >I understand your thinking, but myself would be inclined to continue because there is not the "coveted" pair for either hand.

    Hi Donna, you wrote:

    Most games I play in lean to passing if you have three tiles you can pass.
    >We don't impose this as a rule.
    >It's not a hard and fast strategic guideline, but in some of my games this feeling does prevail.
    Yes, sure. No argument with that thinking. I, too, "lean to" continuing the Charleston if I have three tiles I can pass. (But as I said before, it can lead to a problem if I receive a useful tile in the second left.)

    Some players have voiced that if you're split between two different hands, it's best to pick one as stopping limits your chances to get tiles to complete a hand
    Yes, sure. A perfectly good principle, but as with any principle, there can be trumping circumstances or trumping principles.

    The principle "don't pass matching tiles in the Charleston" can be trumped by "those are the only tiles I can possibly pass without breaking up a good hand." The principle "don't throw a hot tile" can be trumped by "throwing this tile makes me ready for mahj, and the wall is still long." And so on.

    But to say "NEVER stop the Charleston unless you have only one hand and fewer than three tiles to pass" is to hamstring yourself. You should NEVER say NEVER! There should absolutely never be any absolutes. (In case somebody didn't notice, I got a little facetious there.)

    I understand your thinking [July 3 column. Hand number 4], but myself would be inclined to continue because there is not the "coveted" pair for either hand.

    Okay. I still don't know what three tiles you would pass, but I get that you wouldn't stop the Charleston. That's perfectly fine, of course.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 18, 2011


    Where are these handcrafting villages, part 2

    >Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2011 18:11:35 +0800
    >Subject: Re: MJ handcrafting in China
    >From: geoffroy d
    >thks again for your prompt reply Tom
    >ymimports told me it comes from Jiangsu province, but they do not know where exactly as they work via a distributor in Shanghai. If I get to know the source village, I sware I will let you know so that you can add this to your biblical website
    >Kind rgds
    >G


    Where are these handcrafting villages?

    >Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2011 12:19:40 +0800
    >Subject: MJ handcrafting in China
    >From: geoffroy d
    >Dear Tom,
    >thks for all this great stuff on Mah Jong on your website, it's just incredibly rich (would you say that in English, "rich" ? meant documented...) and useful
    >One answer I couldn't find though I guess regarding the handcrafting of new MJ sets made of bone and bamboo/wood : I saw on some websites articles and pictures refering to some villages " in China " where people still handcraft MJ sets the traditional way.
    >eg http://www.ymimports.com/t-aboutbbmj.aspx
    >Because I now live in Hong Kong, I would love to go there as part of one my coming trips to mainland China as I am a great MJ fan myself !!
    >Any idea where these villages are in Mainland China ?? or if not, to whom I could be asking ?
    >There may be also a couple ofplaces in Vietnam I guess, in case you would have any idea, would also be great to know
    >Many thks in advance for your help
    >G
    >--
    >Geoffroy

    Hello Geoffroy,
    I do not know where sets are handcrafted. The owners of YM Imports apparently do, though, so they're the ones you should be asking.
    May the handcrafted tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 17, 2011


    Frequently Asked Question 19BH

    >From: Nancy K
    >Cc: Pinner
    >Sent: Sun, July 17, 2011 8:36:27 AM
    >Subject: Using soaps as zero
    >Can soap be used as a zero in consecutive run or even hands, or ONLY when a zero is required in year hands? Thanks for clarifying, Nancy K
    >Sent from my iPad

    Hello Nancy,
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19BH. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question. Answers to all of the most frequently-asked questions about American (NMJL) mah-jongg are found in FAQ 19. Please always check the FAQs first, before asking me a question. Thanks!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 17, 2011


    The 2nd Charleston (column 493), part 2

    >Hi Tom,
    >You asked what I would do so here goes:
    >Being that there are 9 tiles for the Consecutive Run #1 hand with both pairs covered and the the other possible hand 2,4,6, 8 #7 only has 6 tiles without the two flowers (and this card seems to have flowers at a premium in my experience), I'd pass 2D2D 4D. I know this is not an ideal pass, but think it would be worth trying to complete the stronger hand.
    >2D2D 4D 5D5D 6D6D 7D7D 8D 9D9D
    >What are your thoughts?
    >Best,
    >Donna

    Hi Donna,
    Okay, now I see -- you haven't looked in Singles & Pairs (see S&P#2) at all. I don't think flowers are that hard to get this year, so I wouldn't discount the Evens hand as quickly as you did. Personally, I would have stopped the Charleston like your friend did, since her tiles were good for 3 hands.

    And you still haven't answered my two other questions:

    Just to be clear. You're not saying, are you, that your friends impose a rule prohibiting stopping the Charleston when you have three passable tiles? Are you just saying that they recognize three passable as a reasonable strategic guideline for whether or not to stop the Charleston (not a "rule")?

    Do you see a problem with my thinking as regards to problem #4 in the July 3 column, or do you have a question?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    7/11/11


    The 2nd Charleston (column 493)

    >From: Donna M
    >Sent: Mon, July 11, 2011 7:09:55 AM
    >Subject: Stopping the passing
    >Hi Tom,
    >I believe you've written that League rules state that anyone can stop the passing after the first left, but people don't like it if you do this too often. Most games I play in lean to passing if you have three tiles you can pass.
    >Watched a fellow player ( who stops a bit too often in my opionion) stop the passing with this and wondered what you would do?
    >2D2D 4D 5D5D 6D6D 7D7D 8D 9D9D
    >Also, July 3 column. Hand number 4 - - you stopped the passing and wondered why.
    >I love your donation option. It makes me feel comfortable in asking as many questions as I like (which I haven't done lately!)
    >Best,
    >Donna

    Hi Donna, you wrote:

    Most games I play in lean to passing if you have three tiles you can pass.
    Just to be clear. You're not saying, are you, that they impose a rule prohibiting stopping the Charleston when you have three passable tiles? Because (1) such a rule is unenforceable*, and (2) strategy principles** should not be turned into rules (in my opinion).
    * The only way it could be known or proven that a player has three passable tiles is if she stupidly (knowing that it's against the group's table rule) offers three across after stopping the Charleston.
    ** The principle of not stopping when there are three passable tiles comes with a substantial risk: you might get a usable tile in the 2nd left. Then, on the 2nd across, you have a very tough decision to make. This often happens, at least it does in my experience. I mentioned this in problem #11 in column 493. But if somebody wants to assume that risk, that's on her own shoulders.

    a fellow player ( who stops a bit too often in my opionion)
    That's the way she is. You can either stop playing with her (which probably means you'd stop playing with that group), or you can put up and shut up; play with her and be graciously silent.

    wondered what you would do?
    >2D2D 4D 5D5D 6D6D 7D7D 8D 9D9D

    Let me turn the question back on you. What is your objection to her thinking? What is it you would have done?

    July 3 column. Hand number 4 - - you stopped the passing and wondered why.
    No, I didn't wonder why. I said, "This is a better start for Consec. #2, and not bad for Like Numbers either... offer two (the fives) across." So, then, these are the tiles I kept for Consec. #2 and Like Numbers:

    I was pretty clear on my thinking there. Do you see a problem with my thinking there, or do you have a question? If so, please share it.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    7/11/11


    Two Frequently Asked Questions

    >From: "pat c
    >Subject: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Date: Thu, 07 Jul 2011 20:44:36 -0400
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I called a dicarded tile to make 2011. The other players and myself continued playing after i exposed the 2011. I think I just read that this practice is un-allowable... Is it allowable or un-allowable?
    >thanks, pea
    >Also, now that i have your ear... one of my co-players insists that "8's only" means no jokers. she has conceded and "let's us use jokers", but keeps reminding us that her informant has said that 8's only means 8's only and no jokers. Is she for real??

    Hello Pat, you wrote:

    I called a dicarded tile to make 2011. Is it allowable or un-allowable?
    Please read Frequently Asked Question 19E. Scroll up and look for the FAQs, which are marked by a blue and yellow flashing arrow (emblazoned "READ 1ST," like this ). Find the link to FAQ #19 (it's marked with a red, white, and blue flashing arrow, emblazoned "AMERICAN," like this ) and click it.
    After you've landed at the FAQ 19 page, please bookmark it so you can easily return to it anytime you have a mah-jongg question.

    one of my co-players insists that "8's only" means no jokers. her informant has said that 8's only means 8's only and no jokers.
    Read FAQ 19AO. 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

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    7/7/11


    Your writeup about Vietnamese Mahjong

    From: Simon S
    Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2011 19:12:16 -0400
    Subject: My thanks, and a bit more... (with apologies for the length of this mail.)
    > Dear Mr. Sloper, first allow me to thank you for the wonderful resource that is the Mahjong section in your website Sloperama. I first encountered the game when my grandmother returned from a trip to Hong Kong, ages ago--I was only a kid. She returned with, many stories, great photos and a fancy box filled with what felt like a myriad of small, carved bone and bamboo tiles (she claimed it was Ivory.) I was instantly fascinated by the look and feel of the set, and its intimation of ritual. A few years later, I found a description of the game and its rules in a vintage thematic encyclopedia my father had bought for me. With a jolt of delight, I confirmed what I had suspected all along: That the box with the carved tiles was a game! (The included, peculiarly small dice, of course had been my rather obvious clue all along, but now I could play it.) My grandmother found the thing very appealing at first sight, and claimed to have bought it at once during her vacation, but actually had no idea what it was for. By the time I found out about the game, the initial appeal had been lost to her, and she gladly gave me the set. We spent an entire afternoon looking for it in her attic. It was the beginning of my obsession with Mahjong. I still own that set, and it means the world to me, having become a symbol of the great love my grandmother always showed me.
    >
    > I've since been playing the standard Western version common in Europe during the 1960s, which are the place and time of origin of the encyclopedia where I found the rules. I've also taught them to anybody willing to indulge me. I don't actually remember when and how I came across your name for the first time, but it has been for many years synonymous with the game and the key to the ultimate internet reference on it. Thanks to you I've started playing the American, Chinese Official and Vietnamese variants as well. As far as the game in the west is concerned, for me there are Babcock, Millington and Sloper. I've actually begun writing to you a few times, but always changed my mind at some point, not wanting to importune you, and never sent those messages. So, for all these years of valuable information, and for your presence, which somehow made my obsession feel normal, I reiterate my thanks. :-)
    >
    > Now to my point:
    > Recently, a friend of mine, whom I introduced to the game and now plays it regularly, sent me a 12-page MS-Word document, citing your name as author. I asked him where he had acquired it, and he was a bit reticent to tell me. I checked your website once again, which I am rather familiar with, and confirmed that said document was nowhere to be found for download there. Knowing well my friend's internet habits, I can fairly assume that he didn't purchase it from you, nor got your sanction to distribute it. It's by far the most informative bit about the Vietnamese game I've encountered anywhere. A few days ago, I encountered (somewhere on the internet, the site escapes me now) a posting of yours where you offered some material about the Vietnamese game to a person that was consulting you about it. You requested what seemed to me a reasonable 12 USD in exchange for it. I have been unable to find my way back to said website, but if the material that I ended up with corresponds to what you were selling to the gentleman on that forum, I would like to send you payment for my copy... and also apologize for my friends cavalier behaviour with your intellectual property. (This might seem trite to you, but to me it seemed like an excellent pretext to contact you and write the first two paragraphs of this note, which contains the most important part of the message, in my mind. Again, it might not seem trite to you, in which case I reiterate my apologies for my friend's behaviour and my desire to pay for the material.)
    >
    > (And now, I am going to venture a consultation of my own: Do you know where, in the continental USA, I can obtain a full 176-tile Vietnamese set, like the one you describe and show in the document I got? Is importing my only option? In your website I found the address and precise directions to a San Francisco Chinatown store where I bought my 160-tile Vietnamese set, but now I'm itching to play the variant you describe in your article.)
    >
    > Which brings me back to your document. I'm including it as an attachment, despite being aware that you don't like clicking links, just in case you want to confirm it's your material. However, in case you don't want to view the attached document, I'm quoting its first paragraph below, in hopes that's enough for you to recognize it.
    >
    > ======Beginning of quotation========
    > Rules For
    > Mah-Jongg
    > - Vietnamese Style -
    > Vietnamese mah-jongg is played much like the classic Chinese game. The main differences between the Vietnamese and classic game are the special joker tiles, extra flowers, and the scoring. This document describes the use of the extra tiles in the Vietnamese game. Although the scoring is described in a general way, this document is not meant to be a comprehensive and clear explanation of the scoring. Players of the Vietnamese game play the game differently in different locales. I've heard that Vietnamese players in Southern California play differently from players in Texas and Virginia. And presumably in Vietnam there are even more differences.
    > ======End of quoatation===========
    >
    > I apologize for the indulgent length of this note, and I hope you don't find it too annoying. Let me know where I can send payment for the document.

    Hi Simon,
    Not to worry. The file is here to download for free. What I charge money for is a mailed printed copy. I haven't made the link public before now, out of a desire to keep the other files there hidden from general view. But there's no reason to keep it secret. Here it is: http://sloperama.com/downlode/mahjongg/
    You're welcome to download and print those. Just don't spread them around (they're copyrighted).
    I appreciate the kind thoughts and the kind words! (^_^)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 6, 2011


    On randomness and the perception of randomness in computer mah-jongg A.I.

    >From: J. R. Fitch
    >Sent: Fri, July 1, 2011 5:45:09 AM
    >Subject: regarding randomness
    >Tom,
    >Greetings from afar. I hope you're doing well.
    >I thought I'd forward you something I just wrote to an HKMJ customer.
    >--
    >J. R.
    >
    >Charlotte, [you wrote:]
    >
    >> > .. it seems unbalanced that the
    >> > [A.I.] players [in the computer game Hong Kong Mahjong] self-pick sometimes 4-5 times
    >> > in a row or that no one wins for 3-4 rounds quite a few times.
    >
    >Over the years I have gotten a handful of inquiries similar to yours,
    >remarking that certain events occur too often or too seldom.
    >
    >When I wrote the mahjong logic, the programming code for HKMJ, I made no
    >effort to regulate how often anything would occur. In fact, I went to
    >great lengths to insure that absolutely everything is completely random,
    >just as it would be at a table where players are rolling dice and
    >shuffling tiles. I'm completely confident that if you kept statistics on
    >a million hands of HKMJ and compared them to a million hands of a real
    >people at a table, the event numbers would be much the same.
    >
    >But that's the issue: none of us will ever play a million hands of the
    >real game or of HKMJ. We will play a few thousand at best, so we will
    >only see a small sample of the randomness, and small samples always
    >have patterns that have the appearance of great significance when in
    >fact they have none.
    >
    >Now, that's the scientific answer, based on all the lie-awake-at-night
    >planning that went into designing the mahjong "engine" inside HKMJ. I
    >realize, though, that you see what you see, so let me suggest this:
    >mahjong is a delicate balance of luck (randomness) and skill, and one
    >crucial element is the Minimum Hand setting. It's (much too) popular
    >these days to play for a 3 fan minimum and it distorts the odds of the
    >game. Please consider playing for a Minimum Hand of 0 or 1 fan, and see
    >if the overall results seem more balanced.

    Hi J.R.,
    Good to hear from you. And thanks for sharing these thoughts. I think there's another thing your correspondent isn't considering: in a perfectly random universe with all things being equal, she would win 25% of the hands she plays.
    I heard a story on randomness on RadioLab. Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich went to meet a researcher, who would ask subjects, in teams of two, to write out a series of coin flips and try to make it look random. She'd ask another team of two to actually flip a coin a hundred times and honestly record the results. She would then look at the two teams' results, and she could correctly identify the genuinely random series every time. Her secret: she'd look for those weird runs of seven or more heads in a row (or tails in a row) -- when randomness is holding sway, those runs would always exist. But when someone was trying to make a random-looking series, they'd intentionally avoid any runs of more than four heads or tails in a row.

    About a year ago, I was playing regularly with a guy who, although he was very smart mathematically, reacted emotionally to a deal of mah-jongg tiles, or when the same tile would be picked from the wall twice in a row. He would frequently declare, "the tiles weren't shuffled enough," or when we were shuffling, he'd insist that we shuffle the tiles more vigorously because they weren't random enough.

    Often, then, it's only our own perception. People often try to see patterns where none exist, in an often futile attempt to make the world make more sense than it really should.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper

    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Creator of the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations welcome.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    July 1, 2011


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        Orange = a weird or off-topic email.
        Black = none of the above. Regular question or comment.


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