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Sloper On Mah-Jongg (Column)

The Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board


Hi. I'm Tom Sloper. Welcome to my bulletin board. Here you can ask questions about Mah-Jongg, and get answers, usually within hours!
  • Before you email, please read the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Also, someone else may have already asked your question, in which case s/he was answered below, on the Q&A board! You might enjoy looking through the Q&As. I get some crazy questions sometimes.

  • When you're ready to ask your question, email your question to TomSloperama.com. I answer mah-jongg questions that are submitted by email only. I don't take mah-jongg questions via telephone, snailmail, semaphore, Morse code, or smoke signal. Also don't send your question to me via carrier pigeon. What am I supposed to do with a pigeon? I'm a city apartment dweller. And you should see the rules they got here! </rant>
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  • Please note that this site is NOT associated with the National Mah Jongg League. Although questions about the League's card and rules are welcome here, please read FAQ 16 and FAQ 19 to see if your question is answered there.

    The most frequently asked question about the 2019 NMJL card:

    Regarding Consec #5:

    FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25

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

    The Q&As are below.

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


    Not tax-deductible


  • She asked me about my hand during a game

    On Thursday, January 30, 2020, 09:36:49 AM PST, kareng1 wrote:
    Calling someone dead
    When calling a person dead, are you allowed to ask that person whether they are playing an open hand or closed hand?

    On Thursday, January 30, 2020, 09:40:56 AM PST, kareng1 wrote:
    RE: Calling someone dead
    I had tiles out on my rack and another player wanted to call me dead. She asked me if i was playing an open hand. Is this allowed
    Thanks.
    Karem

    Karen, if someone asks you if you're dead, you should reply, "You're calling me dead." She's trying to call you dead in a weaselly way, thinking she isn't risking anything. She's wrong. A death challenge has been issued (albeit in a weaselly way). If your hand is dead, admit it and stop playing. If your hand is not dead, continue playing. At the end of the hand, she owes you 50¢. It used to be 25¢ but the League upped it to 50¢ just recently.
    If someone asks you "are you playing a 2468 hand," you would say "none of your business." You are not obliged to give anyone information about what you are doing, and it is outrageous that someone would ask you. Someone who asks another player about her hand is drawing the entire table's attention to your hand, and that is very bad manners.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 30, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Addition hands

    On Thursday, January 30, 2020, 02:48:19 PM PST, Penny R wrote:
    Question about Addition Hands on 2019 Card
    Are the three addition hands meant to be guidelines for any addition?
    For example, would
    FFFF 5555+9999 = 14 also be a hand even if not listed specifically on the card?
    FFFF 4444+7777 = 11
    etc...
    And if those are ok, can you do those that do not fall into double digits, such as:
    3333 + 5555 = 08 with the x in the 0x being a dot
    Thanks for your answer!
    Penny R
    [Telephone number omitted]

    Hi, Penny. You asked:

    Are the three addition hands meant to be guidelines for any addition?
    No. Read the three principles for interpreting a hand in FAQ 19-AJ.

    can you do those that do not fall into double digits, such as: 3333 + 5555 = 08
    No. You can't use zero anywhere except where it says "0" on the card. Read FAQ 19-BH.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 30, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can I claim my own discard?

    On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 11:04:44 AM PST, Timothy A wrote:
    Question on claiming a discard
    HI Tom, Hope this email finds you well and winning your fair share of games!
    I had a quick question about claiming a discard. Now I know all about the window of opportunity and that really doesn’t come into play with this question.
    I’m playing a game, draw a tile and, without really looking at which hand I’m playing this round, I name it and, as I’m placing it on the table, realize I needed it to finish a Pung or Kong in the hand I am playing. Yes, I’ve discarded it! I fully named and placed the tile on the table. It’s now opened for players to claim.
    Can I claim it, take it back and make an exposure with it? I know it’s not something that you would normally do but if you’re mind it ‘elsewhere’ and you screw up…
    I don’t find the answer it the NMJL’s rule book or on your site where it specifically forbids the discarder from claiming their own discard, so thought I’d ask.
    TimA

    See FAQ 19B: http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#b.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 29, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can I exchange a joker for a non-joker tile (reverse redemption)?

    On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 08:28:28 AM PST, Jessie R wrote:
    The Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board
    Dear Tom:
    I was attempting hand #6 winds and dragons and called and exposed three white dragons and a joker. ( the 4th white dragon had been discarded earlier). Later I drew another joker.After three green dragons had been discard I decided to attempt hand #3 2019 instead. On my next turn I asked my friends if I could exchange my joker for a white dragon in my only exposure. They said no and I accepted their judgment. Were they correct?
    http://www.sloperama.com/majexchange/bulletinbd.htm

    Yes. They were. See the Joker FAQs. http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#jokers May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 29, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Shanghai Second Dynasty, part 3

    On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, 03:22:38 AM PST, digeoff wrote:
    Re: Shanghai second dynasty
    Hi Tom
    Update I installed SSD on my wifes laptop and the music plays.
    Tried reinstalling on my pc but to no avail music will still not play all the sound effects work perfectly well.
    Now the only difference that I can see is that my pc is windows 10 pro and the laptop is windows 10 home edition.Cheers Geoff

    Weird!


    Appreciation

    On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 06:17:40 PM PST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Cindy C
    Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Cindy C. You can view the transaction details online .
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $5.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Cindy C
    Sincerely,
    PayPal

    Thank you, Cindy! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 28, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    She exposed in error. Is she dead?

    On Monday, January 27, 2020, 01:42:48 PM PST, sheelagh k wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    A player calls for a tile, starts to put up the others from her rack and then says "on no I don't need it after all." Is she dead?

    No, sheelagh. She's not dead. But she made a commitment, and she's stuck with it. The exposure has to remain atop her rack. She can't put the tiles back among her concealed tiles. As long as it's a legal exposure, she keeps playing. Generally speaking, spoken words do not commit one to a move, but making a move cannot be retracted. See the Backsies rules in FAQ 19. And read the Death rules, too.
    If this happens at a tournament, she's definitely out of luck, but in a friendly game at someone's home, others might permit her to put the tiles back, regardless of the rules.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 27, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Shanghai Second Dynasty, part 2

    On Monday, January 27, 2020, 07:48:10 AM PST, digeoff wrote:
    Re: Shanghai second dynasty
    Hi Tom now you have it working does it play the music?

    I haven't tested that, Geoff. Music did not play during the title sequence but the dragon did roar. I have not tried using the menu to turn music on in a game. Didn't spend much time with the program last night (except to start making a 2019 card file). The music is great (all hail Carey Chico), but I had already put the game's music in my music library, so I can always play the music through another program or device. Just amazed that after years of incompatible operating systems, the game suddenly works again. Hmm, wonder if I have to change FAQ 5... Anyway, thanks again. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 27, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    P.S. Later that evening, I tested the game's audio preferences and I can confirm that the music doesn't work. There are brief musical pieces that play as sound effect files, but the Redbook music pieces on the CD do not play in the game, in my Windows 10 system. - Tom


    Picked from the wrong end, but haven't racked. Can I put it back?

    On Sunday, January 26, 2020, 03:18:52 PM PST, D N wrote:
    ruling question
    Hey Tom. I just posted this question on MJTI, wonder if you know the answer before I write to the NMJL for clarification:
    NMJL rules state (written in MJME) that if you pick a tile from the wrong end of the wall and RACK it, your hand would be dead. The word RACK is in question. Does this mean that if you DON'T rack it, you can put it back and continue from the correct end of the wall? Then, the question of the NMJL rule comes in to question that " if you move a tile from the wall in any way, it's yours" Would this not also cover picking from the wrong end of the wall, meaning, you would automatically be dead?
    This is a ruling that I'm questioning as we play by the NMJL rules and I'm questioning whether, if you pick a tile from the wrong end, but realize it before you rack it, it would it be allowed to be put back and then the player would pick from the correct end, making this ruling a totally different rule than moving a tile from the correct end, and then being committed to taking that tile.
    Hope I explained this to be easily understandable.
    Regards
    Debbie

    Hi, Debbie!
    As I understand it, your question is essentially:

    Picked from the wrong end, but haven't racked. Can I put it back?
    You better! If you rack it, you're dead. Putting it back is the only reasonable solution.

    Then, the question of the NMJL rule comes in to question that " if you move a tile from the wall in any way, it's yours" Would this not also cover picking from the wrong end of the wall
    There's an exception to every rule. In this case, the exception is "but we're talking about the wrong end of the wall here." It's illegal to pick from there, so you have to put it back. Picking from the wrong end affects the whole game. Racking an illegal tile only affects the poor sap unfortunate soul who did it.

    Go ahead and ask the League. Pretty sure they won't say you're dead if you just lift a tile from the back end of the wall by mistake. (In other words, "put it back.") May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 26, 2020 恭賀新禧! Happy year of the Rat!
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Shanghai Second Dynasty and Windows 10

    On Sunday, January 26, 2020, 11:16:24 AM PST, digeoff wrote:
    Shanghai second dynasty
    Hi Tom I like you have missed playing SSD so I thought I would try it on Windows 10 and it worked apart from the music.Also it won't open to full screen but it's a small price to pay to be playing the game again.
    Regards Geoff J

    Hi, Geoff.
    When I got your email, I thought, "that's weird, it works on his computer. It doesn't work on mine." But then I thought, "what the hey. Try it. You never know." I went looking for a disc. The game doesn't work without the disc.
    See, the thing is, the game is already installed on my computer (I installed it years ago and it did not work). I put the disc in, then navigated to its folder (putting the disc in doesn't launch the game anymore, because iTunes is set to play CDs) and double-clicked the EXE. And holy crap!

    It does work now! One of the Microsoft updates must have restored backwards compatibility. Thanks for letting me know! I never would have known. Only problem is, now I have to program a 2019 card. Haven't made one since 2011!
    May the tiles be with you, Geoff!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 26, 2020 恭賀新禧! Happy year of the Rat!
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    P.S. Discovered a drawback - I can't leave the disc in all the time. iTunes doesn't like that, nosirreebob.


    What does "limit" really mean?

    On Saturday, January 25, 2020, 11:49:17 AM PST, Kent P wrote:
    A Question Of Limits
    Here in Grass Valley, California, we are playing Classical Chinese Mahjong.
    A question has been raised about the application of "limit" when scoring and settling up. We are using a limit of 1000 points.
    Hand # 1: South won Mahjong with an intrinsic score of 1,920 points. How many points are to be paid in settling with South …
    By East?
    By West and North?
    Hand #2: East won Mahjong with an intrinsic score of 580 points. How many points are to be paid in settling with East…
    By South, West and North?
    Looking forward to your reply.
    Go Mahjong!
    Kent P

    Hi, Kent! Okay, you use a limit of 1000 points. I hope my answer won't disagree with your mah-jongg "bible." What book or website do you use as your guide? Understand that the following might differ from your book:

    South won Mahjong with an intrinsic score of 1,920 points. How many points are to be paid in settling with South … By West and North?
    The limit is 1,000, so they pay 1,000.

    By East?
    East pays double limit. 2,000.

    East won Mahjong with an intrinsic score of 580 points. How many points are to be paid in settling with East?
    East collects double score. The limit is 1,000, so the others pay East 1,000.

    I really do wish I knew which book you play from, though! I might be in line with one book but not another. And I really don't like doing math for other people. Math was never my favorite subject. Nearly failed Calculus. But now you begin to see why people kept designing new rules, to avoid all the math in Chinese Classical rules.*
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 25, 2020 - 恭賀新禧! Happy Year of the Rat!
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    * All tongue in cheek - the "math" I did was multiply 1000 by 2 and multiply 580 by 2. Not a lot of math.


    Misnamed tiles

    On Friday, January 24, 2020, 05:28:56 AM PST, Debbie Barnett wrote:
    HELLO!
    Hi Tom, Hope this email finds you well!
    This email is twofold. First, I wanted to let you know that the book I sent you was updated with a newer version...a few typos and an error found. Not sure if you've had the time to read and or if you want me to send you a new copy. Just let me know. Of course, I know you recommend Elaine's book is was hoping mine might make it on your list on your website. One thing unique I will be doing is offering a supplement for sale yearly changing out the current chapters to be able to discuss new hands.
    Now for the other which is a question. I read through the scenarios regarding misnamed tiles and couldn't find this answer anywhere:
    Player A is waiting on a 7 crak to call for exposure. Player B discards and names a 7 crak. Player A hears a 7 crak and picks a 7 crak to make her exposure. Player C says, "Wait, you discarded a 7 bam not a 7 crak and accuses Player A of picking up the wrong tile from the table. Player B & D both don't remember what was actually thrown.
    I think I know the answer but want your opinion. Since it is everyone's responsibility to watch what was thrown and it was not caught before Player A picked up and racked the wrong 7 crak, Player A is in luck and gets to keep her exposure and the others are just SOL? Your thoughts?
    Best regards,
    Debbie Barnett
    Author of Unlocking the Secrets of American Mah Jongg
    www.debbiebarnettauthor.com
    Onwer/Operator of School of American Mah Jongg
    www.mahjongteacher.com

    Hi, Debbie!
    Yes, I would want the corrected edition, please. I'm sorry I forgot to list your book in
    FAQ 3 until now (it's listed now). The idea of a yearly supplement sounds good in theory - hope it doesn't turn into a huge hassle for your life every April. As for your question:

    Player A is waiting on a 7 crak to call for exposure. Player B discards and names a 7 crak. Player A hears a 7 crak and picks a 7 crak to make her exposure. Player C says, "Wait, you discarded a 7 bam not a 7 crak and accuses Player A of picking up the wrong tile from the table. Player B & D both don't remember what was actually thrown.
    I'm confused. Player B discarded 7C and named it correctly. (Player B discards and names a 7 crak.) Player A picks up a 7C. Am I correctly following so far? Or, as your subject line suggests, did Player B misname her discard?
    So, now player C says the discard was actually 7B, but neither B nor D remember for sure.
    The question is fuzzy, so I can't answer the question you asked. I don't know if the discard was really misnamed or not, and I don't know if the claimant picked up a legal tile or not.
    But there's a larger question here. That is: What to do in a rule disagreement when two players don't weigh in? Now it's her word versus her word. That kind of standoff can only be determined by one player convincing the other, and if the parties can't come to an agreement, then the silent witnesses have to stop being silent. With no consensus on who might be in the wrong, use my philosophies in FAQ 9.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 24, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Mystery flowers, part 3

    On Thursday, January 23, 2020, 03:07:46 PM PST, Edith C wrote:
    Re: Flowers from 1920s Mahjong Set
    Dear Tom,
    Thank you for your thoughtful response and pointing me to additional sources! You're The Man-Jongg Guru!
    Best wishes,
    Edith

    I'm glad you got the information you sought, Edith. But for the record, it was Ray Heaton who translated your characters and sourced the story. He's the guru of mah-jongg flowers symbolism.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    The Charleston is deeply inefficient and flawed, part 2

    On Thursday, January 23, 2020, 09:05:13 AM PST, Juju B wrote:
    Re: The Charleston
    Thank you!

    You're welcome. I hope my suggestions will help, Juju.


    The Charleston is deeply inefficient and flawed. There must be a better way.

    On Thursday, January 23, 2020, 06:20:58 AM PST, Juju B wrote:
    The Charleston
    Is there a more efficient way for all players to pass their tiles during the Charleston at the same time. There always seems to be some confusion revolving around which is the current pass.
    For example: the fast player has finished passing her 3 tiles to player on her left for the first left of the Charleston, the slower player, who received that pass has not yet passed her 3 tiles for her 1st left. Meanwhile, Speedy Gonzalez has set her 3 tiles for the across pass, in front of her opposing player, who has not yet received her left pass from slow poke. Now, that player has two passes to play.The remaining player has waited so long for the 1st left pass that when she receives it, she can't remember if this pass she is receiving is the 1st or 2nd left. So, Speedee tells her it's the 2

    Hi, Juju!
    Your players need to adopt more mindful/cooperative habits in the Charleston.
    1. I always teach my mah-jongg students to proclaim aloud which pass they're passing at the time. Saying aloud "first left" alerts all players that it's coming up on the time when someone can stop the Charleston. When you're frequently screwing up the Charleston, every player must speak aloud the name of the pass she's making, at the time she makes it. Forever. Unless/until the process has become so automatic in your group that it is obviously no longer needed.
    2. I also teach my mah-jongg students that they must not make a pass if the previous pass was not completed by all players at the table. Somebody still waiting for her first across? Don't pass first left. Your Speedy Gonzalez needs to slow her boat and pay attention to what the others are doing. Every player needs to be mindful of the other players, not focusing only on her own tiles. Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” – and also what your three friends are doing.
    In your Tortoise And The Hare Charleston, your Tortoise player sets the pace. That's a fact, and nobody can make her go faster.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 23, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Mystery flowers, part 2

    On Thursday, January 23, 2020, 12:50:49 AM PST, heaton.ray wrote:
    Edith's mystery flower tiles
    Hi Tom,
    The top row of tiles are 延年益寿 (yánnián-yìshòu) and are a promise for a long life (or more literally 'prolonging the years adds to a longer life'): this appears to be a quite ancient phrase originating in the Warring States period of Chinese history, attributed to Song Yu, a poet who lived between the years 298 and 263 BCE! The phrase is used in Daoist texts, so I presume following the Dao is a means to acquire a longer life. I don't think this has been shown previously in the FAQ. Note these are read in 1,2,3,4 order.

    The bottom row, 月明间山, yué míng jiān shān, bright moon between the mountains, is a lyric from 'Ode to the Red Cliff' and is described further in FAQ7e (not FAQ19, as you had written!). These are read in 4,3,2,1 order.
    Regards
    Ray

    Great, Ray! Thanks for your help! This will be added to the Mystery Flowers FAQ. And thanks for the heads-up on the typo, I fixed both instances of "FAQ 19" to make them say "FAQ 7."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 23, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Mahjong question 13579

    On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 04:16:19 PM PST, Kinitaa C wrote:
    Mahjong question 13579
    Hi, I have a question about the 13579 hand, line 6 (and 5), 55 77 99 5555 5555 (Kongs, Like 5, 7, or 9).
    Can the Kongs (four of a kind) be 7s or 9s? For example, could the sequence be (bam) 55 77 99 (crack) 9999 (dot) 9999?
    Thanks! Feel free to email me the answer in addition to posting it on the board.
    Sent from my pocket

    For example, could the sequence be (bam) 55 77 99 (crack) 9999 (dot) 9999?
    Yes. That's what "Kongs, Like 5, 7, or 9" means. Good job! I'll add this to FAQ 16. Note that this answer is already given on the NMJL's FAQs page. Good links to bookmark!

    Feel free to email me the answer in addition to posting it on the board.
    Sorry. That's not what I do (as per the boilerplate above, sorry for all the fine print).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 22, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Mystery flowers

    On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 10:35:33 AM PST, Edith C wrote:
    Flowers from 1920s Mahjong Set
    Dear Tom:
    Wondered if you could shed some light on these flower tiles (what they night denote or "symbolize")? I have never seen any other flower tiles in these designs so they may be a "one-off"?
    Best wishes,
    Edith

    Hi, Edith!
    All 1920s bone-and-bamboo flowers were one-offs. Many people before you have sent me pictures of their flower tiles; you can see them in FAQ 7E-F. If you check the Mystery Flowers FAQ (FAQ 7E-F's other name), you may see that several of the Chinese characters on your tiles are translated there. (The character for Mountain, , for instance.) I don't read Chinese myself, and I'm no student of Chinese symbolism. But you should come back and check again later; we have a reader or two who may email me with more information about your tiles.
    Thank you SO much for laying out your tiles in order. Your top row seems to depict a road going past mountains and into a village. Your bottom row ends up with an ocean sunset and the moon being reflected in the ocean, maybe.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 22, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    The joker was put on the table, part 2

    On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 10:02:58 AM PST, Dolores T wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thank you so very much for your answer. I appreciate it.

    You're welcome, Dolores!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 22, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    There is a debate about the dead joker discard

    On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 08:41:15 AM PST, Martin Walsh wrote:
    Query.
    There is a debate about the dead joker discard as on the back of the National Mahjong Assoc. Cards it states that a discarded joker becomes the same tile of the last discard. A tad confusing. Please help. Thanks, Wilma Walsh.

    Wilma, the card says the joker may be "named the same as previous discard." It doesn't say the joker becomes same. There is no debate. Read FAQ 19-G3.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 22, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    The joker was put on the table instead of my hand

    On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, 06:26:42 PM PST, Dolores T wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    When you are exchanging a tile for a joker in another player’s exposure, what happens to the joker if the other player doesn’t put the joker in your outreached hand & puts it on the table?? If it’s “dead”, it isn’t the mistake of the person exchanging their tile for the joker. Who is penalized??
    Sent from my iPhone
    Dolores T

    Dolores, if someone says "that joker is dead now," just plead for common sense. The person who had to hand over the joker simply erred by putting it on the table instead of the outstretched hand (either out of inexperience or out of spite), and the exchanger should be permitted to pick it up and put it into her hand of tiles. In no way should the exchanger be penalized for another player's act, and there is no penalty on the books for a move such as you describe. It's not in the rules - so it's a simple matter of plain old common sense.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 21, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is the joker dead as it can,t be called 1 bam as 4 were in play.

    On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, 08:10:37 AM PST, Martin W wrote:
    Query.
    Concerns the use of jokers. My hand held 3 1bams plus a joker, a 1 bam was discarded which I took, giving me 4 1 bams, then i discarded the joker. Is the joker dead as it can,t be called 1 bam as 4 were in play. Can a joker be picked up if someone needs the tile the joker represents. Thanks. Wilma W

    Wilma, a discarded joker may never be picked up by any player. Down is dead. See FAQ 19-G. All the most frequently asked questions about jokers are listed at http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq19.html#jokers.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 21, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    My best guess is that it's from the 1920s

    On Sunday, January 19, 2020, 02:15:03 PM PST, Leif H wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q A
    IMG_20200119_145550.jpg
    IMG_20200119_153432.jpg
    IMG_20200119_153443.jpg
    IMG_20200119_153459.jpg
    IMG_20200119_153517.jpg
    IMG_20200119_153538.jpg
    IMG_20200119_154422.jpg
    IMG_20200119_154901.jpg
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I received a set as a gift and I am just curious about it. My best guess, based on what I've seen, is that the set is complete (at least as far as the number of tiles), and probably from the 1920s. It did not have an instruction book or any other documentation. Any further information you can provide is appreciated. I've included pictures showing the various characteristics that may help identify the set.
    Thanks,
    Leif H

    Hi, Leif. You wrote:

    My best guess, based on what I've seen, is that the set is complete (at least as far as the number of tiles)
    More than complete, Leif (at least as far as the number of tiles). No set from the 1920s would have had that many tiles. The set doesn't have scoring sticks, there are no wind incators or mingg container, there were usually more than 2 dice, and there is no dice coffin.

    My best guess, based on what I've seen, is that the set is ... probably from the 1920s.
    No, it isn't. It's of more recent origin, made to look like it's from the 1920s. Especially if those joker tiles match the rest of the set well enough to make it hard to know which tiles are jokers when the tiles are all face down. I have other clues, too, but I'd prefer not to share everything - the makers might get too good at making throwback sets if my words got around.

    Any further information you can provide is appreciated.
    Sure, if you have any other questions, just ask. See FAQ 7P.

    If you send me more photos with a followup question, please attach the photos to the email rather than send links (that would save me steps). May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 2, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Combinatorics

    On Saturday, January 18, 2020, 02:36:37 PM PST, Patsy B wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I’m wondering if anyone has figured exactly how many different possible Mah Jongg hands can be made from the 2019 card? My guess is it’s in the tens of thousands!!!

    See FAQ 19-ci, Patsy.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 18, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Two-move play for mahj with a concealed hand

    On Saturday, January 18, 2020, 10:12:20 AM PST, Ann B wrote:
    MahJongg inquiry
    Hello Tom,
    I am hoping you can help me and my fellow Mahjong players with a question.
    This last week I was playing a concealed hand and needed two tiles to declare Mahjong. I planned on obtaining a joker during my turn, leaving me with one tile for Mahjongg. The player directly to my left put down the tile that I needed. Could I have picked up the discarded tile exposed it, then traded my tile for a joker for Mahjongg?
    We thought no as it was a concealed hand. What do you think?
    Ann B

    As you thought, you can't do that, Ann. When playing a concealed hand, you have to expose the whole hand all at once at the moment of declaring the win. To claim the discard in the cited case, you can't expose the whole hand - because you don't yet have the joker. You would call the discard, expose one set (which you're not allowed to do with a concealed hand), and only then could you redeem the joker. This is one of those cases when you would need to redeem the joker before your winning tile makes its appearance on the discard floor.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 18, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Consec #6, part 2

    On Friday, January 17, 2020, 10:59:00 PM PST, Lynn P wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hi Tom, American Mah Jongg: referring back to last hand on consecutive run. Why can’t the pair be placed other than in middle? Nothing in parenthesis says this is the case. Lynn P.
    Glad to be in touch again but as of 8/13 my life has drastically changed and one less person lives here. I know he is looking down at me playing Mah Jongg.

    Why? Because the League says so.
    I am sorry for your loss, 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.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 18, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Consec #6, soft speech claims, and stopping the Charleston

    On Friday, January 17, 2020, 04:32:56 PM PST, Lynn P wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hi Tom, I enjoy all your posts and Q&A as I have been for past 10-15 years. Here is one for you: We play American Mah Jongg every Friday and I was playing Devil’s Advocate today at our weekly Mah Jongg group and questioned last hand in Consecutive run. I posed the question: “Can the pair be in any other place except the second place? So can my hand be 111 222 33 in one suit and then followed by 333 333 in 2 other suits or 11 222 333 with 111 111 in 2 other suits.” Since ladies disagreed I said I would ask Tom. I usually don’t play concealed hands so had never questioned this before. I have 3 consecutive numbers, with 2 pungs matching pair in each case. Also have another question: If someone speaks softly and says she wants a discard but person across from her has already picked and discarded is that softly speaking person allowed to take discard and other person required to pick up her discarded tile and put it back in the wall for next person in line to take? I have tried to limit unnecessary chatter while game is progressing but sometimes someone just has something so important she can’t wait until end of game to say it. I was questioned today why I often stop the Charleston and I told them, “Because I can!” Is this a good enough answer or do I have to answer at all? BTW I play with 8 ladies ages from 93-72 years old and I am one of the youngest. Thanks for all your help and I am still checking info in your book, “The Red Dragon & The West Wind”. It is the best thing I bought regarding Mah Jongg. Many thanks, Lynn P in Inverness, FL

    Hi, Lynn, long time no see! You wrote:

    last hand in Consecutive run. I posed the question: “Can the pair be in any other place except the second place? ... Since ladies disagreed I said I would ask Tom.
    If anyone had an iPad at the game, you could have looked up the answer instantly by looking at FAQ 16, or, even more definitively, the NMJL's FAQs page. Go ahead, take a look at those now. Bookmarking them is a good idea.

    If someone speaks softly and says she wants a discard but person across from her has already picked and discarded is that softly speaking person allowed to take discard and other person required to pick up her discarded tile and put it back in the wall for next person in line to take?
    You know the rule, right? A claim for a discard, if spoken before the window of opportunity is closed, must be honored. The rule is silent on the question of soft speech that's inaudible, but a reasonable person would understand that the spoken claim must be reasonably audible. And it must occur within the window of opportunity.

    I was questioned today why I often stop the Charleston and I told them, “Because I can!” Is this a good enough answer or do I have to answer at all?
    It's polite to answer, so I'm not going to say you don't have to reply to a spoken question. The applicable FAQ is FAQ 19-AG. What I say if somebody asks me why I am stopping the Charleston is, "because the rules permit it." I don't explain what's going on with my tiles.
    But if people are complaining that you stop the Charleston often, maybe you actually do it too much. I wrote column 494 about stopping the Charleston. Stopping the dance is your right (it's everyone's right), but you have to know that others will get mad if you do it often. I frequently get emails from players complaining about a player who stops the Charleston frequently, and asking what they can do about it.
    Another thought - if you're playing with people who haven't played as long as you have, they may be hoping for some strategy advice from you. If that's what they're doing, why not share some of your thoughts, thus helping them up their game, which will challenge you to up your own game anew.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 17, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What if there's disagreement about whether a call is simultaneous with a racking?

    On Friday, January 17, 2020, 10:04:02 AM PST, bonita m wrote:
    2020 nmjl question # 4
    Sir;
    I have your book and refer to it quite often.
    I also refer to your web site re: FAQ.
    Do you have a snail mail address you could give me?
    2020 NMJL question #4--exactly who decides that the move is simultaneous? The caller of the tile will always say it was so, and the player who racked the tile will always say it was not so.
    What say you?
    Most sincerely,
    Bonita M
    P.S. I do not have a computer in my home and must use one in my local library.
    My snail mail address is: [omitted]

    Hi, Bonita! You wrote:

    exactly who decides that the move is simultaneous? The caller of the tile will always say it was so, and the player who racked the tile will always say it was not so.
    The caller take priority, per previous League rulings (see FAQ 19-CL). But every player can speak her opinion on whether the call is simultaneous or not. If you have a player who (as you said) "always" claims she's in the right, even when it's dishonest to say so, your group has a right to say "no, clearly the tile clicked into the rack before you spoke. Now stop being dishonest."

    Do you have a snail mail address you could give me?
    P.S. I do not have a computer in my home and must use one in my local library.
    My snail mail address is: [omitted]
    I'm sorry but I cannot take snailmailed Q&As. Email only (as it says in the boilerplate above). I am not snailmailing you this reply. I hope you come back and find this.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 17, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Frequently-Asked Questions destroying our friendship! Help!

    On Friday, January 17, 2020, 07:48:36 AM PST, J wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: After a heated discussion, no one came up with the answer. Lol
    My question: If a player has a combination displayed that includes a joker, and another player - in error- discards
    the tile needed to trade for that joker, can anyone grab that tile to trade and get the joker? And, if someone can, and does,
    does she need to display where she is using it? Or, is it just a bonus for the player that is quick enough to grab it?
    Does play continue in the regular sequence or does it continue with the person who grabs the incorrectly discarded tile?
    Hope you can understand the question…..looking forward to an answer….might just save our friendships…lol
    Hugs
    Janet M

    Hi Janet,
    Of course I understand the question. It is a Frequently Asked Question, and I have already written and made available the answers to all of the most frequently asked questions. You wrote:

    After a heated discussion, no one came up with the answer.
    The solution is simple. Your table needs a copy of the League's official rulebook.


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

    Not only that, did you know about my FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) and particularly FAQ 19 (American/NMJL rules)? Might be a good idea to bookmark them!

    If a player ... discards
    the tile needed to trade for that joker, can anyone grab that tile to trade and get the joker?
    That's rule 5 on page 21 of the official rulebook. It's also FAQ 19-G2. ("Can I claim a discarded redeemable tile?") The answer is no. A redeemable discard can only be taken for mah-jongg or to create a new set for exposure. Not to redeem for a joker. That discarded joker is "down." And "down is dead."

    does she need to display where she is using [a redeemed joker]?
    No. If you redeem a joker, that joker is yours and you can put it among your concealed tiles. See FAQ 19o.

    looking forward to an answer….might just save our friendships…lol
    Surely your friendship is worth the small price of the League's official rulebook. Or buy my book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind.

    Or just bookmark FAQ 19, if your friendship can't withstand the cost of printed matter. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 17, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    have seen ad for mah jongg on line.

    On Thursday, January 16, 2020, 04:09:30 AM PST, Phyllis B wrote:
    mah jongg on line.
    have seen ad for mah jongg on line. called the league could only get basic info. Wondering if you have any connections (people) I could talk to before paying the $50 fee and then deciding I dont like it. Any info you can offer would be appreciated.
    thanx, phyllis b

    Hi, Phyllis. Replying to what you wrote:

    have seen ad for mah jongg on line.
    I have no idea what ad you saw! If you look at FAQ 5, you'll see lots of different online mah-jongg games. Only a few of them support NMJL rules.

    called the league could only get basic info.
    I have no idea what you asked them, or what you're trying to find out.

    Wondering if you have any connections (people) I could talk to
    I'm sorry, I do not do that. As I wrote in the boilerplate atop this page, "Please do not ask to be put in touch with other people... Please don't put me in that awkward position."

    before paying the $50 fee and then deciding I dont like it. Any info you can offer would be appreciated.
    If you have a question, ask me. I'll answer if I can. I don't like stabbing in the dark at unclear questions, but here goes anyway:

    I am guessing that you are asking about the "Official National Mah Jongg League Internet Game" (https://www.nmjl.org/game/home.html. And I am guessing that you are asking "will I enjoy it." Asking the League that question isn't going to get you anywhere. Asking Sigma Software (the developer of the NMJL's game) "will I enjoy it" won't get you a useful answer, either. Based on these assumptions (if my assumptions are wrong, just stop reading), I can only tell you about my own experience playing that game.

    I found that when playing against real people online, they can be very rude, they can even kick you out of their table. They've spent $50 each year to play online, they've been unhappily dealing with newbies who slow down their game, and if you think about it from their point of view, you can sort of see why sometimes they might get impatient and don't want to coddle newcomers.

    The NMJL's game now also has "bots," computerized players who are never rude because they aren't human. That game's How To page describes how to start bot games (also called "practice games") so you can become familiar with the user interface before joining real people games. Back when I was using that game, the bot games feature didn't exist yet. I highly recommend practicing against bots before braving the often-rude live players. There are nice players too, but you have to patiently meet them over time. It's an adjustment to join a new community; it takes time.

    Nobody can predict whether or not you will like using any particular game or software. If $50 every year is too much for your liking, you could try one of the others listed in FAQ 5, but essentially you are in the same boat as everyone else- the only way to find out if you like it is to try it.

    If I have not answered the question you have, hit me up with the question and I'll try to answer. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 16, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How to resolve this error-upon-error situation, part 3

    On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, 09:25:15 AM PST, debbie001 wrote:
    Re: When does a game begin
    My apologies for my email. I did check your board but missed Susan's question. She was actually part of the discussion we were having.
    Thank you for your time.
    Debbie

    No apology necessary, Debbie!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom


    How to resolve this error-upon-error situation, part 2

    On Monday, January 13, 2020, 03:21:22 PM PST, Debbie B wrote:
    When does a game begin
    Dear Tom,
    There has been quite a few discussions on the Mah Jongg Facebook sites regarding when a game actually begins and when to call someone dead.
    It is my understanding that the game does not officially start until East discards. In the event someone other than East discards, game proceeds and then it is realized that East did in fact not start the game, are the players with too many or too few tiles dead or is the game thrown in and replayed? I am looking for the actual NJML rule.
    Thank you in advance for your response.
    Debbie B

    Hi, Debbie!
    The question "when does a game begin" is answered at the top of page 14 of the official rulebook, Mah Jongg Made Easy."


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

    As you said, the game begins with the dealer's first discard. But the crux of your question is not answered by that fact. Your dispute is centered on what should happen if somebody other than East throws the first discard, and the error isn't noticed until later. In other words, you're asking the same question Susan Davidson asked me on Saturday (scroll down to "How to resolve this error-upon-error situation?").
    Digging deeper, I find the official rule on page 18 (rule 8):
    If a player incorrectly assumes East position, the player continues to finish the game. The next game reverts back to the rightful East and the round continues, skipping East for the player who erred.
    That doesn't address the question of the two players who have wrong tile counts in their hands. What I told Susan holds: those players should be called dead, and they should cease playing. Susan asked if the game should be voided, and what if the incident occurred in a tournament. I stick by what I said to Susan on Saturday.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Tuesday, January 14, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I need blank tiles!

    On Monday, January 13, 2020, 02:05:07 PM PST, Meg A wrote:
    Mah Jongg Question
    Good Evening Tom,
    Have long followed your Mah Jongg pages!!!
    Enjoyed them so much.
    My daughter is an artist and would like to paint a Mah Jongg set for my mom’s 90th birthday. I was wondering if you knew of any companies that sell blank tiles that she could order from.
    Thank you for any information that you could share.
    May the jokers be with you.
    Meg A
    Cranford NJ

    Hi, Meg! See FAQ 7Q (there's a link above, or just click here). But don't get your hopes up too much. How's your Chinese? (Actually, lots of people in Hong Kong are reasonably fluent in English.) May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 13, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I can't find anything about this game, part 3

    On Monday, January 13, 2020, 07:55:10 AM PST, James M, Obl.Cam. wrote:
    Re: Japanese mahjong dice game
    Tom,
    I am working on the complete image distribution on all the dice for you. I will give this to you as soon as I can.
    My question was whether you or anyone has information about this game. Have they seen the game before? Where? Do they have the rules in English?
    Jim M

    Hi, Jim.
    I appreciate your working on more information about the set. You may have gathered from our preceding correspondence that I, at least, had no info about the game before. And I was frequenting game stores in Tokyo during the time when you said you got the set. I think it's unlikely those rules have been translated into English. Just now I googled the game's name (ロンパオ), and got a lot of Japanese sites. Have you tried that? Could also try googling "Ronpao rules" but I'm heading to class.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 13, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    3P Filipino style

    On Monday, January 13, 2020, 11:27:52 AM PST, Patrick B wrote:
    Playing with 3 players and a Dummy
    Hi Tom,
    Our household consists of three people, me, my wife and her sister. We play an extended family version of Filipino Mahjong. The issue I have is that we three play four-handed, but the fourth player is a Dummy, which we randomly draw and discard for. I claim that this is inherently unfair because the Dummy's Upper house is never in danger of his discards being Chowed. What say you?
    Thanks
    Patrick B

    You are correct, Patrick. It's not right to have a dummy hand that gets played. See what I wrote in the Three-Players FAQ (FAQ 13b):
    Build 4 walls. Deal 13 tiles to each player (14 to the dealer) as normal. Just skip the empty seat (nobody is North) -- do not deal tiles to the empty seat (exception: Taiwanese players* deal a dummy hand to the empty seat; it is never used). Player sitting to right of empty seat may chow from opposite player.
    * The Taiwanese game shares some attributes with Filipino rules. You can deal a dummy hand, but don't play it. Personally, I think you could skip dealing tiles to the empty seat, but you can do whatever your group agrees on, as I wrote in FAQ 14.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 13, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I can't find anything about this game, part 2

    On Sunday, January 12, 2020, 09:01:22 AM PST, James M, Obl.Cam. wrote:
    Tom,
    Here is more info about the mahjong dice set. I put this info together a few years ago. The other side of the sheet with the rules is included.
    See photos below.
    Jim M

    Hi, Jim! Thanks for the extra info. Since I'm a game designer, though, I crave even more info. The row of dots, for example: what is on the other sides of each die in that row? (Same question for all the other dice pictured.) With that information, I would be able to make a set and play with them.
    But that's just information that I want. I still don't know what information you want about the set. So far, all I've been able to tell you is its name. And maybe you already knew that, for all I know. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 12, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I can't find anything about this game.

    On Saturday, January 11, 2020, 04:55:01 PM PST, James M, Obl.Cam. wrote:
    Japanese mahjong dice set
    Tom,
    A woman gave me a Japanese mahjong dice set about 30 to 40 years ago. Her husband had acquired it while doing business in Japan. It consists of 24 6-sided dice representing 144 mahjong tiles. The rules are written in Japanese with sample hands and the scores associated with them. I have looked time and time again online and I can’t find anything about this game. Maybe you can help.
    See attached photos.
    Thanks,
    Jim MacMath

    Nice dice set you have there, James! What kind of information are you trying to find out about it? I'm intrigued myself.
    I see that the set's name is "Ronpao" (ロンパオ). I'd love to know the exact distribution of symbols on every side of all the dice - surely some patterns are duplicated on other dice, or is every die unique? With the info, I could make my own set. The scoring patterns are right there, but perhaps the rules of play are on the other side of that sheet?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    1/11/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    The 2019 newsletter from the League

    On Saturday, January 11, 2020, 04:25:42 PM PST, <"NEW RULE"?
    Hi Tom,
    The latest pamphlet from the NMJL states there a new rule on page 6, but i think it is an old rule just re-written for clarification. What do you think?
    Linda

    Yes, Linda. I've written a draft of a column about the 2019 newsletter (to go online tomorrow), and I wrote:

    "New Rule" was already stated last year. The penalty for either side who was wrong in a death challenge is now 50¢.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    1/11/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How to resolve this error-upon-error situation?

    On Saturday, January 11, 2020, 08:36:53 AM PST, Susan Davidson wrote:
    Two Dead Hands or Invalidated Game
    A situation was described on MahJongg That's It that has caused quite a discussion. I would appreciate your take on it. The person's post says, "I'm East but South throws the first time by mistake and no one notices, then near the end of the game I get MahJongg, but have an extra tile because South preenter me, then am I dead because of South's mistake and none of us caught it at the first, but retraced our steps at the end t figure out why I, East had 1 too many tiles, plus the 14 tiles MJ hand? What's the ruling? Am I dead? Doesn't seem fair..." I think both East and South are dead and the two remaining players should finish the game. One tournament director says she would invalidate the entire game. That doesn't seem fair to the players that do not have dead hands. Of course I realize that tournament directors set their own rules, but I do help run tournaments in my area, and we go strictly by NMJL rules. Thank you, Susan Davidson

    Hi, Susan!
    That's a big wall of text, so I'll break it down:

    "I'm East but South throws the first time by mistake and no one notices, then near the end of the game I get MahJongg, but have an extra tile because South preenter me
    The key phrase here is "no one notices." That includes the dealer who is holding 14 tiles throughout the game. She should have noticed something was wrong long before she realizes she is almost mah-jongg but will have an extra tile. She is definitely in the wrong. And yes, South is also in the wrong but has too few tiles if she began by discarding without picking first - when was she going to realize HER hand was dead?

    I think both East and South are dead and the two remaining players should finish the game.
    That's reasonable, but the two remaining players are also included in "no one notices," so they too have erred by not paying attention to the game, just focusing on their own tiles.

    One tournament director says she would invalidate the entire game.
    That's what I was thinking. EVERYBODY messed up.

    That doesn't seem fair to the players that do not have dead hands.
    Resolving a cluster-foulup like this can't always leave everybody feeling treated fairly. See what I wrote in FAQ 9 (my "Philosophy of Etiquette & Errors" FAQ): Seek the smallest unfairness to the smallest number of players. If you, as a tournament organizer, want to let the two survivors continue playing, you have a right to do 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.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    1/11/2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Looking for a specific type of set

    On Friday, January 10, 2020, 06:45:35 PM PST, Pauline <paulinev96bigpond.com> wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hi I am looking for a 160 set of Mahjong with cat, mouse, rooster and worm, how can I obtain this, as I am finding it very hard. I also need numbered tiles.
    Pauline Evans

    Hi, Pauline.
    All I've got for you are these:
    ● See the Sets For Sale bulletin board where sellers of sets post.
    ● You can post your own request on the Tiles Wanted bulletin board. (You don't need to - this is already posted there.)
    ● See FAQ 7k for where to buy sets.
    ● And there's a short list of top vendors in FAQ 4a. Just contact them by phone or email and see if they have what you need.
    Good luck!
    May the tiles be with you... literally!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 10, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I was taught that when you pick a tile you need to click it on your rack

    On Friday, January 10, 2020, 05:19:56 PM PST, Neil M wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: I was taught that when you pick a tile you need to click it on your rack to prevent another player from picking up the last discarded tile. Tonight I was told you should never click your tile after picking it up. Which is correct?

    Hi, Neil. You wrote:

    I was taught that when you pick a tile you need to click it on your rack
    You were taught by aggressive players, then. They want to move the game along quickly and no-nonsense, and they want ...

    to prevent another player from picking up the last discarded tile.
    That's an unsportsmanlike style of play. The purpose of racking the tile (not just tapping like you describe) is not to shut out the other player, but to give yourself a little time to look at the tile and decide what to do with it.

    Tonight I was told you should never click your tile after picking it up.
    That doesn't explain the rule. Tapping the top of the rack does nothing, unless you're playing with a group of aggressive players who use a tapping table rule. Racking the tile closes the window of opportunity on another player, but it's unsportsmanlike to quicklypickandrack aggressively. The League and I agree on this. See FAQ 19AD to read all about what racking really is and why pickandrack is not nice.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 10, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    100 Years of Mah-Jongg, part 2

    On Friday, January 10, 2020, 03:38:56 AM PST, H, Paul wrote:
    100 Years of Mah-Jongg in America
    Hi Tom
    Nice column on Mr Babcock’s ‘100th anniversary’.
    Amazing man – right time & place – and the drive to make it happen.
    Attached see a nice 1923 hardback of Babcock’s Rules, 10th printing which gives some indication of the rapid spread of the game in Europe during the 1920s.
    Interestingly, on the title page the publishers include the text “also known as – The Red Book of Rules”, so why publish in yellow?
    My suggestion ‘Mahjong, 100 years in the West’
    Regards
    Paul

    Dia dhuit, Paul.
    For comparison, I put an English hardcover edition of the Red Book beside your German printing, above. (Saves vertical space, don't have to scroll to see both.) You can see that the English hardcover has green art overlaid on a red bound cover. Yes, it's silly to use a different color for the Red Book. Guess the publisher wanted to help consumers identify that it was different. I presume the innards of your book are in German.
    Glad you enjoyed the column. I should have gone into more detail about the implication of Babcock's new name for the game. Today, the Chinese call the game "majiang" and they write it with different characters than those on Babcock's cover. 麻雀 means "sparrow" (ma que), which makes it useless for the Chinese (it's written one way but pronounced a whole different way? Whaaa?). So that the game's name can sound like Babcock's "mah-jongg," the Chinese now use 麻将 (ma jiang). Should have gone into that in the column - maybe I'll make an addendum.
    Since the whole world now knows the game by the name mah-jongg (with or without the hyphen, and with or without the double G), Babcock's contribution was obviously significant, even though all he did* was take an existing game, change its name, and popularize it. I agree with your suggestion (but spelling it with the hyphen and double G because Babcock) - "Mah-Jongg, 100 Years in the West" does have a good ring. I've also toyed with just "100 Years of Mah-Jongg," but then it needs a subtitle: "(By that name)."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 10, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    *"All he did," eesh! Unfortunate choice of words. Without Babcock, who knows what would have happened to the game. Who knows when the game's joys would have eventually spread beyond the Great Wall. Say, that's good. I should add that to the column. - Tom, 1/10.


    Are these two moves permitted, part 3

    On Thursday, January 9, 2020, 03:42:40 PM PST, Georgeann D wrote:
    Re: Question
    You are very kind. Sorry for the email mixup. As a relatively new player and new to your site I will "devour" faq19.
    Thank you!

    You're welcome.


    Are these two moves permitted in one turn? (Redux)

    On Thursday, January 9, 2020, 02:04:46 PM PST, Georgeann D wrote:
    Question
    Mr. Tom
    Can you pick up a discarded tile to form a pung and exchange a tile you already have in your hand for a joker in another person's rack all in one turn.thank you
    Georgeann

    Hi Georgeann,
    As I told you on Monday, yes. FAQ 19M provides detailed rules on when a joker may be redeemed and when it may not. Please click the link and read all about it.
    Also: scroll down and read Monday's Q&A exchange.
    I always notify first-time posters when my response has been posted online. I replied to your first email, but it must have gone to your husband's inbox. Next time you email me a question, just come back here to the board to see the response - give me a few hours, though.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 9, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Mon jeu de mahjong manque des pièces

    On Thursday, January 9, 2020, 09:16:57 AM PST, <d.delalonde wrote:
    Mah-Jong Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: Bonjour, j’ai un jeu de mahjong auquel je tiens beaucoup mais il me manque des pièces, savez-vous où je pourrai en trouver ?
    Merci pour votre réponse
    D. de la Londe

    Bonjour, D.
    En anglais, s'il vous plaît.
    ● See the Tiles For Sale bulletin board where sellers of individual tiles post.
    ● You can post your own request on the Tiles Wanted bulletin board. Actually, your request is already posted there, but it does not provide enough information about what kind of tiles you need. Are your tiles plastic, bone-and-bamboo, or some other exotic material? What dimensions, what colors? You'll also need to provide a photo. Notice the links at the top of the Tiles Wanted board - links there to providers of tiles.
    ● If you manage to get some tiles but with the wrong designs engraved on them, FAQ 7T describes how to make your own labels/stickers.
    The Blank Tiles FAQ might also offer some useful suggestions.

    Good luck! I mean, bonne chance! May the tiles be with you... literally!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 9, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Who gets the discard when there are conflicting claims? (Part 2)

    Followup to my response to Ione yesterday (below). Today I got the annual bulletin from the National Mah Jongg League, and it addressed Ione's question.


    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League will receive the League's
    newsletter, which is mailed the following January.

    Here's the quote (I bolded a phrase I particularly like):

      ... when two players want the same tile for an exposure, the nearest in turn to the discarder gets preference, unless the other player has exposed or started to expose their tiles.
      This rule is protection for the player who properly called and exposed, but then next in line player decides they also want that tile. If exposed hand had to be put back, player's hand would be compromised, everyone knowing which tiles player needed.
      This rule is not meant to encourage aggressive play. Slamming tiles or racing to put up an exposure is poor sportsmanship, not supported by the League.

    To Ione: when you said, "It's very crappy, cause [sic] now everyone knows what you want/need," I wasn't sure which player you were referring to - the one whose claim is too late (now everybody knows what tile she wants), or the one who made an exposure (meaning, she has revealed a lot more than the late claimant). I think Larry and David have expressed the matter very nicely in this ruling.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 7, 2020 (I am SO watching the Jeopardy Champions show tonight! Hee hee!)
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Donation

    On Tuesday, January 7, 2020, 06:38:42 AM PST, service@paypal wrote:
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Susan P
    Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    This email confirms that you have received a donation of$10.00 USD from Susan P
    Donation Details
    Total amount: $10.00 USD
    Currency: U.S. Dollars
    Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Contributor: Susan P
    Sincerely,
    PayPal

    Thank you, Susan! Wishing you double happiness in the Year of the Rat (which begins in 2 ½ weeks).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 7, 2020 (Jeopardy Champions day, yay!)
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Are these two moves permitted in one turn?

    On Monday, January 6, 2020, 02:18:23 PM PST, Joseph D wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    Can you pick up a discarded tile to form a Pung and exchange a tile already in your hand for a joker in another persons rack all in one turn
    Thank you
    Georgeann

    Yes, you can, Georgeann. FAQ 19M provides detailed rules on when a joker may be redeemed and when it may 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.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 6, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Who gets the discard when there are conflicting claims?

    On Monday, January 6, 2020, 03:11:36 PM PST, Ione & John wrote:
    MJ
    Hi Tom,
    Question: Tile Discarded, A player 2nd to the discarded player says "TAKE". Picks up and places on tray exposing. Then the first player to the discarded player says she wanted to take it. Because she is, the first player to the right of discarded player, does she still get the tile - even though the next player has picked up and exposed.
    At what point is this TAKE considered?
    The person said, she was still looking to see if she wanted it but didn't say TAKE, till after the next person had picked up and exposed. She said the person was too fast.
    Also, this happened another time, but the 2nd player to the right had only said TAKE but not exposed, so the first player to the right took the discard, which I believe is the rule.
    It's very crappy, cause now everyone knows what you want/need.
    Please clarify and thank you.
    Ione

    Hi, Ione. The player who exposed tiles before the second player spoke her claim keeps the tiles. See FAQ 19H for the detailed rules concerning conflicting claims for a discard.
    As for that other thing you said, about it feeling terrible when you miss a claim for an important tile, and then everybody knowing what you need - my answer is: you take a risk when you claim a tile, you take a risk anytime you do just about anything. Another way of looking at it is as an opportunity to resolve to think ahead what tile is needed, then focus with eyes, not only ears, on the discards, so you can jump more quickly when your tile comes out. That said, if you're playing with one or more cutthroat players, I'm sorry, but the best defense is to become cutthroat yourself, despite your inner inclinations. Or play with a different kind of group.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 6, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Any info on this statistic?

    On Sunday, January 5, 2020, 09:02:42 PM PST, Linda H wrote:
    Card completion
    Hi Tom,
    Do you have any information on the percentage of MJ players who complete all the hands on the MJ card by the end of the year? I started playing only hands that I have not completed and enjoy the challenge very much. I completed the card in October and am now 3/4 toward my next completion. I will not be surprised if I don't accomplish it again for a long time.....so much luck involved.
    Do we begin using the 2020 card on April 1 or April 15?
    Thanks,
    Linda

    Hi, Linda! You wrote:

    Do you have any information on the percentage of MJ players who complete all the hands on the MJ card by the end of the year?
    Sorry, I have no statistics on the NMJL card. First, I would have to collect a lot of data. I'd need to know exactly how many active players there are, and I don't (see FAQ 23). I'd have to know what hands everyone makes - and I can't even imagine a way to get that data, without installing webcams over every single table where the NMJL card is used. Haven't we already given up enough privacy, so we could watch funny cat videos? We'd need a Waze for mah-jongg games - the more players sharing the more data points, the more accurate the results we'd get. AND we'd have to repeat the process every year. (Okay, so maybe I did imagine a way. I have a good imagination.)
    Long story short: no data, so no statistics for you.

    I started playing only hands that I have not completed and enjoy the challenge very much. I completed the card in October and am now 3/4 toward my next completion.
    You go, girl! (Meant only in the nicest sense, as the counterpart to "attaboy!")

    I will not be surprised if I don't accomplish it again for a long time.....so much luck involved.
    Don't be a Doubting Thomas. Skill goes a long way in mah-jongg (see FAQ 19-CQ). It's not all luck. You can do it again next year. You're what we game designers refer to as an Achiever-type player. That inner drive to hit a goal has more power than you think.

    Jan. 8: Forgot to answer last question:
    Do we begin using the 2020 card on April 1 or April 15?
    Use it when every player in your group has the 2020 card (FAQ 19-BV).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 5, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Thanks, part 2

    On Sunday, January 5, 2020, 02:47:17 PM PST, E 'two cents ¢¢' H wrote:
    Re: You received a payment
    you are welcome.
    I will do this until I am unable to do so. I just tend to be lazy, so I really need to set up a second table...
    I work your problems, and I also work a 4 rack solitaire (Like Michele Frizzel of Mahjong Central).

    Excellent!


    100 Years of Mah-Jongg in America

    New column is up, celebrating an important anniversary that's happening right now.


    Babcock (center), flanked by editions of his seminal
    "Little Red Book of Rules."

    Click the link to read the column!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 5, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Thanks

    On Saturday, January 4, 2020, 06:26:46 AM PST, service@paypal wrote:
    You received a payment
    Hello Thomas Sloper,
    You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Amount received: $10.00 USD
    For: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    Sincerely,
    PayPal

    Thank you so much, Evelyn! I really appreciate the support.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom


    Why are Three Philosophers and Little Robert scored so differently?

    On Friday, January 3, 2020, 04:22:51 AM PST, D A wrote:
    Special hand scoring
    Hi Tom,
    My wife and I have played the normal game for some time but have recently began to embrace special hands.
    We are confused as to why Three Philosophers, limit hand and Little Robert, half limit hand are scored that way when the only difference between the two is a mixed chow versus a pung. In our estimation the mixed chow is easier to achieve compared to a pung yet the scoring would suggest the opposite.
    Is the scoring of special hands 'fixed in stone' because Three Philosophers appears to be rather generously rated?
    Regards
    David A

    Happy new year, David.
    In general, I cannot justify rules or explain the reason for their existence, since I was not present when the rules were created. In the matter of your question, the best I can do is posit a comment on the difference in difficulty between the two hands. As you noted, the main difference is that one hand requires a pung, and the other requires a mixed chow. The one with the pung is worth half the one with the mixed chow. You said the pung is harder to achieve than the mixed chow. Both are Concealed hands, so maybe the pung is harder, as you say. But I don't think the discrepancy (if there is one) is that big a deal, myself.
    You asked if the scoring is "fixed in stone." No - it's fixed in ink, in thousands (I presume) of copies of Thompson & Maloney's The Mah Jong Player's Companion. You and your group can make whatever table rules you wish. See FAQ 14.

    In the future when you ask a question about mah-jongg, it would be helpful if you mention what mah-jongg variant you play and what book(s) you use. Oddly, when I opened my copy of Thompson & Maloney's The Mah Jong Player's Companion to look at these two hands, I found that I had previously bookmarked the page where Little Robert is shown. I guess somebody asked me about Little Robert before! But that's neither here nor 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.
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    January 3, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I have just found an old mah-jongg set, part 3

    On Thursday, January 2, 2020, 05:19:02 PM PST, Phyllis R wrote:
    Hope this is what you asked for

    The tile arrangement is better now, yes - but you still have the 1B tiles in the same tray as your dragons, winds, and flowers. It's the bird tiles. They're the #1 tiles in your bamboo suit.
    I thought there were going to be other photos, since the subject line of your second email indicated that there were other photos. Also, you still haven't sent me the info from FAQ 7G. All I can tell you is the tiles are a little over 90 years old. If you need more info, you need to send me the info requested in FAQ 7G. And if you have more questions, I'm standing by.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 2, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Column 731

    On Thursday, January 2, 2020, 04:01:47 PM PST, Kathryn Z wrote:
    November 11, 2019
    Hi Tom,
    I am wondering about #6 on November 11th column. If she is making consecutive 4, wouldn't the hot tiles be 3B, 4B and 5B?
    Thank you,
    Kathryn Z
    Myrtle Beach, Sc

    Quite right, Kathryn! I missed the 3B. Good going! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper 囧
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 2, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I have just found an old mah-jongg set, part 2

    On Thursday, January 2, 2020, 11:55:40 AM PST, Phyllis R wrote:
    Additional pics

    Hi, Phyllis!
    The subject line indicates that some photos were previously sent, but I haven't received them. I also haven't received the requested information about the set. But I have a complaint about these photos, and I request that you retake them with the tiles organized by suit. Put all the bams (including the crane 1B tiles) in one tray. Put all the craks in one tray, all the dots in one tray, and all the other tiles (winds, then dragons, then flowers) in the fourth tray, as shown in FAQ 7G. Please put all the tiles in proper order, so it's easy to determine which tiles are missing. Right now your tiles are not in order, and some tiles are placed next to tiles they don't need to be placed next to (for example: your 1B tiles and one 3B tile are with your dragons and winds, and some of your flowers are in the bams tray - your dots are all together but not in numerical order). Your craks are already in order, and apparently you're missing a 4C and a 9C.

    If you need help understanding which tiles are what, see FAQ 7B. For tiles without corner indices, just count the dots - count the sticks.
    I suppose it's irritating that I am so demanding about the work you need to do to get the information you seek - but just look at how much work I've already had to do to try to help you.
    I am still happy to help you with your questions, once I have the necessary info and photos...
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 2, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I have just found an old mah-jongg set

    On Thursday, January 2, 2020, 09:42:20 AM PST, Phyllis R wrote:
    Very old set
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    i have just found an old mah-jongg set and would like to find out how old and any other information on it.
    please contact me at:
    phyllis r
    [Email address omitted for your security]

    Hi, Phyllis!
    I can help you, but if you want a free appraisal, it will not be done by private email. See my terms of service above.
    You want to know how old your set is. First, you will need to read FAQ 7G. Then you'll need to take photos of your set, and you'll need to send me those photos along with the information requested in FAQ 7G. When I have your photos and your information, I can make a stab at the age of your set.
    You say your set is "very old." 100 years ago, mah-jongg sets were first exported to America. Those first sets (J.P. Babcock's wooden sets with his "Little Red Book") are the most popular sets from 100 years ago. I wrote about the wooden-case bone-and-bamboo sets in column #610. I highly recommend you read that (for all I know, your "very old set" is a Babcock set).
    You said you also want "any other information" on your set. I ranted in FAQ 7P that I cannot (and do not try to) answer "tell me anything" questions. Tell me exactly what other information you require. I don't like to shoot shotguns in the dark at black targets I can't see.
    Also, when emailing me, please make sure Caps Lock is turned off. Typing in all capital letters is considered "shouting" - it jumps out at one on the page, jarringly. When someone "shouts" in an email Q&A to me, I convert it to all lower-case letters (that's the least-work option for me when responding to questions).
    I am standing by to help you when I receive your photos and information and specific questions! (If you don't want a public appraisal, I only give private appraisals for pay, and in person, and I don't travel farther than 20 minutes.)
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 2, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is it a rule that the card must be on the table?

    On Wednesday, January 1, 2020, 10:20:36 AM PST, Kay P wrote:
    Card
    Is there a rule about keeping the card on the table or is it permissible to keep it on one's lap?
    Kay

    Happy new year, Kay!
    Nobody has ever asked me this before. There's no written rule. And I do not recall ever seeing this question answered in a yearly NMJL newsletter.


    Every year, the League issues rule clarifications
    in its newsletter. Every person who buys the card
    directly from the League will receive the League's
    newsletter, which is mailed the following January.
    I'm expecting to receive one any day now!

    Your question intrigues me. I'd like to dig into it a bit, if you don't mind. I'd like to examine it from the point of view of a player who might put her card on her lap, and then from the point of view of the other players.

    Reasons FOR putting one's card on one's lap:
    ● There is no rule against it in writing anywhere.
    ● The player can put her finger on the card as a memory aid, without giving information to her opponents. Maybe a sticky note instead of a finger.
    ● The tabletop is too danged crowded (maybe a little too small).
    ● By this time of year, one has already memorized the card and it takes up too much space on the table, so this lets me keep it out of the way until I need it. (There's no rule that says a player must even have a card at all, if she's memorized it.)

    Reasons AGAINST putting one's card on one's lap:
    ● The light isn't so good down there.
    ● It might raise eyebrows or even objections from other players.

    Reasons another player might OBJECT to a player using her card on her lap:
    ● She knows that player has a habit of pointing at her target hand on the card, and it being on her lap makes it hard to get a clue.
    ● She knows that player has memorized the card, and she's showing off by not keeping it on the table. What a showoff -- it's intimidating!!
    ● She's a real stickler for established rules and practices.
    ● She's a "Yelda," and just objects to anything she doesn't like. She'll even claim it's "against the rules," even though she's never read the official rulebook.


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

    Reasons another player might approve of a player using her card on her lap:
    ● It allows the lap player to pull her rack back a bit, leaving more room on the table for others who want to push their racks in and lean on their elbows (see the Q&A "A sticky etiquette Q," posted on Thursday, December 26, by Connie B, below).
    ● She's an understanding person who remembers what it was like being a beginner. Or she's just a sympathetic soul.
    ● It's no skin off her nose. No objection, no concern.

    Kay, if you want to get the official word from the League, you should write to the League. Only problem: the League is mad busy from now through April, and may not have much time to write back. If you phone in your question, they'll probably answer your question, but then you won't have solid enough proof to convince Yelda to get off your back. Regardless: if the others at your table all object to your keeping your card on your lap, it's best to adapt yourself to their wishes. In time, you will get better at using the NMJL card.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    January 1, 2020
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is it okay to hover my hand over the wall so I can pickandrack as quickly as possible?

    On Monday, December 30, 2019, 06:41:22 PM PST, Finnette L wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    I just can’t fold what I am looking for?
    Questions? Somewhere I read that you should not hover over the wall which is out that you will take your next tile from, as sum have sensitive fingers and know what the tile will be, Is there a ruling on this. as soon as the last person takes their tile can you put your hand over the tiles, not touching them, and then can call a tile if you wish?
    Finnette Thank you

    Hi, Finnette!
    To respond point-by-point to your email:

    Somewhere I read that you should not hover over the wall which is out that you will take your next tile from
    Not sure which kind of mah-jongg you play. If someone is accused of hovering in a tournament, a judge would tell him or her to keep hands to one's side of the table except during one's turn (whether or not the rule is written, no matter what variant rules are in use). As far as I know, no mah-jongg variant has a written rule prohibiting hover-and-swoop. Nevertheless, hovering over the wall is not polite. Reason: picking and racking as fast as possible is aggressive, because it doesn't give other players reasonable time to call a discard. That said, Chinese Majiang Competition Rules permit a player 3 seconds to call a discard, so in that variant, picking and racking at extreme speed is rendered moot anyway. In my book, I wrote that pickandrack (pretty much the same thing as hover-and-swoop, just without the hovering part) is "ungracious and aggressive [and] makes it extremely difficult for anyone to claim the current live discard" (page 109). In its 2008 newsletter, the National Mah Jongg League's late president, Ruth Unger, quoted me and added, "The League is in agreement." The League agrees with my point of view - but it's a point of etiquette, not a rule.

    [some] have sensitive fingers and know what the tile will be
    Fingers need to touch a tile's face to read them. One of the variants I play is American mah-jongg, which uses joker tiles. A lot of times American jokers are made by stickering an old flower tile. When I pick a tile off the wall that has a sticker on its face, my thumb tells me right away that it's a joker. And now you're wondering: What do I do when I know that the tile I picked is a joker? Since I had not been hovering over the wall, and since I did not move so quickly that nobody had time to claim the current live discard, and since I do not want the others to know that I'm picking a joker, I bring the tile back to my rack at the same speed as I bring all my picked tiles in. I keep a poker face just like Lady Gaga.
    Okay, so I can also tell if I've picked a Two Dot. American jokers with a dragon head in a circle feel a lot like One Dots, but the former has the word "JOKER" inset above the circle, and the 1D just has a "1" in a corner. Difference detectable with a finger or thumb. A lot of Chinese and Japanese players practice feeling tile faces so they can know what they've picked from the wall, without looking at it. Haven't met many American players who can do that.
    But what difference does it make? The tile is yours anyway (unless somebody claims the live discard) - if it happens that you know what the tile is, and somebody claims the live discard before you rack it, you put it back. So what if you know what it is? Sometimes you pick from the wall and look at the tile before somebody voices a call for the live discard. You have to put it back on the rack anyway (the American mah-jongg rule), so what difference does it make if you know what tile it is when feeling it with a finger instead of looking at it?
    I wouldn't worry about the "sensitive fingers" issue. It's a non-issue... um, issue.

    as soon as the last person takes their tile can you put your hand over the tiles, not touching them, and then can call a tile if you wish?
    It's not nice to do that. There's no written rule saying you can't hover-and-swoop. But please don't.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 31, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    A sticky etiquette Q, part 2

    On Saturday, December 28, 2019, 07:39:24 AM EST, Connie B wrote:
    Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    Thanks for the feedback! Considering I have a sense of humor and a vivid imagination I will do imagery in the future.
    You started my day with a smile.
    May you alwsays have adequate jokers!!!!


    A sticky etiquette Q

    On Thursday, December 26, 2019, 09:50:28 PM EST, Connie B wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q+A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    It is about etiquette; We have a very seasoned player(40 years plus) who consistently and continuously moves her wall and pusher to the center of the table throughout play,often encroaching on the ability of the the next wall coming out. She rests her elbows on the table taking up about at least a third of the table in front of, her hands hovering over her rack at all times, meaning they encroach into the discard area. She flicks her discards across the table. When asked repeatedly by all to move her wall or pusher back, she replies that she has short arms.
    I have played with her for 12 years. I believe this is aggressive and manipulative behavior. She is a very formidable player and I have learned from playing with her, yet her posturing is annoying to the entire group.
    Suggestions.....

    Hi, Connie.
    I'm sorry you have such a rude player in your game. Unfortunately, all the suggestions I have for you are also rude (not listed in any particular order):
    All of you take a vote and tell her that she is being rude and must stop being rude. Unfortunately, there is no non-rude way that I know of to tell someone that she's rude.
    Get a one-foot ruler and smack her hand whenever it's hanging over her rack and into the common area of the table. Better: get three rulers so anyone can smack her hand. Then get heavy gloves so you can protect your own hands when she brings her own ruler. Maybe hockey masks would also be necessary in case she escalates.
    Bring a tape measure and measure her arm length to fact-check her excuse for her rudeness. Measure everyone's arms and create an arm-length chart.
    Put colored tape around the table, demarcating where racks may not intrude into the common area of the table.
    When she pushes her rack 1/3 into the table, push all your racks in that far too. It will probably turn into a pushing and shoving match, and could escalate into anger and fisticuffs ... what am I saying, you're women, so... passive-aggressive innuendo, maybe even hair-pulling. Best case: everybody starts laughing after a few rack pushes and she says "okay okay, I get the point." (Unlikely, but then I don't know the personalities involved.)
    Bring all your degree certificates, resumes/CVs, and grandchildren photos to the table to show her that you are all her equals and demand that she treat you all with the respect that's due to equals.
    Kick her out of the group. If it's bad enough that you have to write to me and ask for advice, it's pretty bad. The behavior you describe is extremely rude, self-centered, disrespectful, inconsiderate, and arrogant. I would not want to play with her. Ever.
    Sorry I don't have any better suggestions than the above! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 27, 2019


    What's your story, Tom? Part 2

    On Friday, December 27, 2019, 08:54:08 AM EST, lindaz wrote:
    your story
    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for sharing your very interesting background. I now see why you're the MJ guru!
    Best regards, Linda


    Two sets, neither with eight properly-numbered flowers/seasons

    On Wednesday, December 25, 2019, 08:22:05 PM EST, Laury T wrote:
    Mah-Jongg Q A
    My mah-jongg question or comment is: I have a question that I suppose can be answered in 2 different ways. I've been collecting vintage Mahjong sets and have a nice collection...probably too many. I'm considering selling some of them. The issue:
    I have two of the same type of vintage set. The tiles from each set are different in color from each other. The lighter-colored set has 8 flowers. One bouquet is numbered 1-4, however, the other bouquet is numbered 2,2,3,3.
    The darker-colored set has 8 flowers; 2 sets of properly numbered bouquets 1-4. If I use extra flower tiles to make the mixed numbered bouquet (2,2,3,3) into 1-4, the bouquet will be of two different colors. Which is the best choice...flower tiles of mixed colors or flower tiles of the same color and mixed numbers? Please help with this puzzling conundrum.
    Thanks much, Laury

    Hi, Laury!
    I wish you had included photos with your question, but I'll do what I can.
    I don't know if your sets are American-style or Asian-style. Players of American mah-jongg don't need numbers on their flower tiles. I know you said your sets are "vintage" but I honestly don't know what that means to you. I don't know if your sets are 60 years old (from the 1960s) or 90+ years old (from the twenties or thirties). I don't know if they're plastic or bone-and-bamboo.
    When you say they're differently colored I assume you mean that when the tiles are face-down, it's easy for any observer to see that the tiles from one set do not belong with the other set. If my assumption is correct, it would not be good to mix tiles from a different set. Players would be able to see that a tile in the wall is a flower simply because its back is a different color. Knowing in advance what a wall tile is is like playing with a deck of marked cards. If you are going to put other-colored flowers in your set, you might as well mix the entire sets together (half the tiles in one color and the other half in the other). I don't recommend that.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 26, 2019


    What's your story, Tom?

    On Thursday, December 26, 2019, 11:02:29 AM EST, lindaz wrote:
    No Subject
    Hi Tom,
    Happy holidays! While browsing your website I started to wonder what drew your interest to MJ originally. I myself was prompted by a desire to challenge my aging brain while enjoying the social interaction with friends. I was a little intimidated at first but when I looked around I thought "these players are no smarter than I am" and I knew I could learn the game. And when we moved to a new neighborhood where no one played I taught them myself (after researching your website). Now we have a regular group of 16 players. Would you share your initial learning experiences? And thanks for all the info you provide to us--
    Happy New Year! Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    From 1988 to 2000, I was a producer/designer at Activision, making video games for the Nintendo, Atari, Sega, and Sony videogame consoles and also for PC and Mac computers. In 1991, after a corporate shakeup, I inherited the responsibility for the Shanghai series of games: mah-jongg tile-matching games (not "real" 4-player mah-jongg). I produced numerous Shanghai games. My 1994 design, Shanghai: Great Moments, was a successful product for the revitalized and newly growing Activision, but the casual game market wasn't yet ready for multiplayer gaming (the Internet, or should I say, the WorldWide Web, was just catching on – people still had to use noisy telephone modems with unreliable connections, and terrible lag). But the 1997 release, Shanghai: Dynasty, included genuine 4-player mah-jongg, based on 3 years of research into the game -- during which I played Hong Kong Mahjong on my computer and several other mah-jongg programs, and I bought numerous books on eBay, all describing different variants. I paid a teacher to teach me (and some coworkers) American mah-jongg, and I paid a teacher to teach me Japanese mah-jongg (there were no English rules anywhere to be found).
    During those 3 years, I responded to customer questions on America OnLine. Through AOL, I learned that a newsgroup was being formed for discussion about mah-jongg (news:rec.games.mahjong), and I logged into the newsgroup the day it went online. As people discovered the newsgroup and started asking questions about rules, I tried answering them - and sometimes my answers were wrong (as shown by the answers given by others). I began collecting the correct answers to frequently-asked questions, and eventually I became the acknowledged keeper of the newsgroup's FAQs. In 2000, my time at Activision ended. I created my own website (my first domain name was "gameguru.net") to hang out my shingle as a video game consultant, and also to host the mah-jongg FAQs, not only in text format but also with images (since the WWW gave the Internet a Graphical User Interface). In time I also added FAQs about getting a career in video games. And I changed my website to sloperama.com, and added a section about hanafuda (Japanese flower cards originally made by Nintendo).
    My bulletin boards were created by Sandy Beach. I used to go to her website all the time and post answers to questions there. But the site was constantly being misused by spammers, and after the umpteenth time I reported spams to her so she could remove them, she gave me the boards. I put them on Sloperama, and after the umpteenth time I had to delete spam posts, I removed the ability for users to post on my site. Now people have to email me and I post them – it doesn't take an unmanageable amount of my time to do that.
    So. That brings us up to today. Here's wishing us all a happy new year!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester, New York, USA
    December 26, 2019


    What if everybody wants to blind pass?

    >On Thursday, December 19, 2019, 08:36:25 PM EST, Jeffrey P wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:  Today we were doing Charleston and all 4 players only had 2 tile for the blind pass on the first left. Since no one had 3 tile to pass we didn’t know what was correct way to proceed. We finally just each passed 2 tile 
    >Is there a solution that is correct for this problem 
    >Sue P

    Hi, Sue!
    I wrote about this in Column 534. It's my answer, not the League's official answer. If you want the official answer, you should write a letter to the League.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀
    Creator of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Rochester. New York, USA
    December 20, 2019


    Conflicting claim confusion

    >On Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 07:06:46 AM PST, Jackie M wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I am confused about the calling of a discard as it refers to the NMJL rules. I thought it was clear until I saw this on your site:

      >- The discard must be taken to form or complete the exposure. The 2018 rulebook says it's "preferable" to take the claimed discard onto the rack before exposing from the rack.
      >- In most cases, when one person speaks and another one not only speaks but also takes action, the one who made the action holds sway. Just remember that next-in-line having spoken prior to the action invalidates the action (next-in-line has priority). So maybe I've been worrying too much about aggressive players using slam-exposing as a tactic.

    >I thought the rule was:
    >When 2 players want the same tile for exposure, player next in turn to discarder has preference unless player not next in line has exposed tiles
    >When 2 players want the same tile for Mahjong, player next in turn to discarder has preference unless player not next in line has exposed tiles
    >There is so much misinformation going around about this could you please clarify. Thank you!
    >Jackie M

    Hi, Jackie! You wrote:

    I thought the rule was: When 2 players want the same tile for exposure, player next in turn to discarder has preference unless player not next in line has exposed tiles
    Yes. That's correct.

    I thought the rule was: When 2 players want the same tile for Mahjong, player next in turn to discarder has preference unless player not next in line has exposed tiles
    Yes. That's correct.

    What I said in FAQ 19H is that if a claim is spoke by next-in-turn before another player exposes tiles, the other player's exposure must not be made. Next-in-line: "I want that." If not-next-in-line then starts to expose, it's an invalid play because next-in-line spoke her claim. Sounds like my explanation went too far and caused confusion. I guess in some ways, I am like Chidi Anagonye in The Good Place. Perhaps I should just delete the sentence beginning "Just remember."

    I am traveling, so I may not be able to respond quickly to further questions. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 18, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is it permitted to put a called tile in the hand before exposing?

    >On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 11:53:32 PM PST, Romelle J wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player calls for a discarded tile and says mah, can the player put that called tile in their hand before exposing or do they have to put it on top of their rack first?

    The NMJL issued a rule in the January 2013 newsletter stating that it is permitted to put the taken discard into the hand just prior to exposing the hand for a win, or just prior to making a simple exposure. See FAQ 19K.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 18, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Frequently Asked Question #19-L

    >On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 01:39:09 PM PST, cmykitt wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:hand requires pung of 7. Have two jokers in hand .....
    >Can I call the discarded seven to make the pung?

    Yes, you can, cmykitt! See FAQ 19L.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 17, 2019 6:54 PM
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    All the books say you can chow, but...

    >On Monday, December 16, 2019, 08:35:33 PM PST, Heather H wrote:
    >Chowing
    >I have been playing mahjong for a few years and am still not sure about chowing from a discount from the person on my left.
    >All the books say you can but is this just for ordinary mahjong and not for games like “windy chow”? We’ve had a few arguments about this and I’d like to have this clarified.
    >Many thanks
    >Heather.

    Hi, Heather! You wrote:

    but is this just for ordinary mahjong and not for games like “windy chow”?
    I gather you play British/Australian rules. Most players and authors of that variant permit at most one exposed chow.

    All the books say you can
    You may be reading some of the wrong books. I mean, you may be referring to books that do not describe your variant of mah-jongg. Use only books that actually describe the "Windy Chow" hand. See the list of authors of WESTERN style mah-jongg in FAQ 2B. You should only be using books by the authors listed there. Other variants have other rules.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Penalty for wrong tile count or other unfixable error in HKOS

    >On Saturday, December 14, 2019, 02:26:59 PM PST, l thorne wrote:
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Hi,
    >With regard to a Wrong tile count in Hong Kong style "A player with more than 13 or fewer than 13 tiles forfeits the right to win the current hand. The number of tiles remains uncorrected", does the player with the incorrect amount of tiles continue to play their hand normally and just not mah-jongg? I cannot find any information on this.
    >Thanks so much
    >LThorne

    Hi, L. Yes, you understand the rule correctly. As I answered in FAQ 20 (in answer to questions from J. Yuen W on December 17, 2014 and from Zoe G on March 19, 2018 - so you would find this by scrolling down to the comments section).
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 14, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Why is the 8D tile all black or blue?

    >On Saturday, December 14, 2019, 01:37:35 PM PST, Dhirajlal M wrote:
    >Circle tile
    >Good evening,
    >Is there a reason why circle tiles representing 8 is black in all sets of Mah-Jong? Other circle tiles are representative with green or red circles.
    >Regards,
    >George

    Sorry, but I have no idea, George. May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 14, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Why isn't American mah-jongg popular among American men, part 3

    >On Friday, December 13, 2019, 08:34:36 PM PST, Pete S wrote:
    >Men and American Mah Jongg
    >Hi Tom,
    >I thought I would add my 2 Pin to this discussion. Last year when I retired I had a "month of games" during which I visited every Senior Center within 30 miles of my home. I was specifically looking for anyone playing MCR and eventually found a weekly Riichi game with some Community College students, but I digress...
    >
    >The ONLY mahjong played at every Senior Center I visited is American style. The (mostly) women there looked at me like I was from outer space when I asked about HK Old Style or MCR. One Senior Center has a huge (10+ tables) turn out and I tried setting up a table to play Asian style with a beautiful set I bought in Chinatown (huge clunky tiles) but when they discovered my tiles didn't have the Western Indices for the Characters and Winds, or racks and pushers, no one wanted to play. Too much trouble to learn 13 hanzi I guess. Anyway, I have reluctantly learned how to play American style only so I can play more often than once a week with my Riichi crew. I agree with your statement about the social aspects of the game. The NMJL games are a lot of talk whereas the Riichi games are pretty much silent and move more quickly. Like the Chinese game you are expected to play with your eyes and not your ears.
    >
    >As to why more men don't play, from my own experience I would say it's because American games have their cliques of players and aren't particularly welcoming to new players, especially someone who has never had to make up hands based on a card before. But maybe that's just me. I agree with your assessment of the WWW having an impact on mahjong. Every new player that turns up at our Riichi games has played the game online extensively before trying it IRL. They usually struggle too, because the online game does so much of the work for them, like stopping play to let them know they should call a tile. I love mahjong and would play every day if I could but trying to fit into the Senior Center games is exhausting.
    >Later
    >-Pete-
    >Tell mom I died doing something stupid.

    Hi, Pete!
    Thanks for adding your 2 Dots. When my retirement kicks in, I'll have time to explore senior centers, and will have more time to teach and play the game. You've given me a taste of what I can expect. But I gotta say: Coulda toldja you needed a set with indices!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 14, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Walter's ducks (Is this tile from another set, part 2)

    >On Wednesday, December 11, 2019, 10:02:19 AM PST, heaton.ray wrote:
    >Walter's ducks
    >Hi Tom,
    >It's easy to see why Walter wondered if his "ducks" tile came from a different set, as it doesn't simply fit in to a series of Chinese men and women as per all the other tiles.
    >But if (as in my experience) the tiles are actually sets of related pairs (in image terms that is, such as the "capture tiles" we see sometimes) and the two "ducks" are actually geese, then the #1 tile shows Wang Xizhi and his pair of geese on tile #2. Wang Xizhi was a Chinese calligrapher (perhaps the greatest ever calligrapher) from around the year 350, whose art was inspired by natural forms, including the shape of goose necks: he is depicted in Cinese art with a pair of geese (sometimes more).
    >Regards,
    >Ray

    Hi, Ray! You wrote:

    It's easy to see why Walter wondered if his "ducks" tile came from a different set, as it doesn't simply fit in to a series of Chinese men and women as per all the other tiles.
    I totally get that, I swear! :)

    the tiles are actually sets of related pairs (in image terms that is, such as the "capture tiles" we see sometimes) and the two "ducks" are actually geese, then the #1 tile shows Wang Xizhi and his pair of geese on tile #2.
    I am certain that you are right. I figured also that the geese went with the #1 flower tile, but I don't have the encyclopedic knowledge of Chinese symbols and legends that you do. Thanks once again for filling in the missing piece of the puzzle!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 11, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is this tile from another set?

    On Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 08:15:11 AM PST, Walter C wrote:
    Question re my mahjong tile
    Does this tile 2 showing ducks which I think is Bakelite belong to the same set. It came with the set in a wooden box with sliding lid. There are 144 tiles plus 4 jokers and 4 blanks. Thanks Walter

    Hi, Walter.
    Your tile clearly matches the other tiles in color and size, right? Now take a look at how you've arranged the flower tiles. Four of your tiles have Chinese characters on them, and four do not. That's how you can tell which four go together to make a "bouquet." Here. I've transformed your photo and rearranged the tiles properly.

    Now you can see that the ducks tile, not having a Chinese character on it, clearly belongs with the other three tiles without Chinese characters. So there's the answer to the question you asked!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 10, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What does "friends" mean in your four-step Charleston strategy?

    >On Sunday, December 8, 2019, 08:16:48 AM PST, Mary D wrote:
    > thank you
    >Good Morning,
    > I have just begun playing Mah Jongg and am loving it! I really enjoy your column and in it you refer to tiles having "friends". I however, can't find what those friends are and have searched a great deal in your column.
    > Thank you for your time.
    >Best,
    >M
    >Mary D
    >“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark.”

    Hi, Mary!
    My term "Friends" is defined in Column 630 and in Column 725 as "tiles that go together to make a hand on the card."
    Glad you enjoy my columns!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 8, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Two players went dead in a 3P game

    >On Saturday, December 7, 2019, 05:09:28 PM PST, Ellen P F wrote:
    >American Mah Jongg
    >Hi Tom,
    >I was playing with two others. One of the players declared Mah Jongg in error. The next player also declared Mah Jongg in error. I was the only player left. Do they both pay me double?
    >Thank you,
    >Ellen

    Hi, Ellen!
    FAQ 19-BW answers what happens when three players go dead in a 4P game. Two players going dead in a 3P game is the same thing. The sole survivor throws in her hand (nobody gets paid). Shuffle, deal (next dealer takes over), and play another hand.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Pearl Harbor Day, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Which player gets the tile?

    >On Thursday, December 5, 2019, 09:54:55 PM PST, Linda M wrote:
    >Whose Mah Jongg is it?
    >Hello Tom,
    >Love your column. I learn so much. Please let me know if I am correct about the following situation, or not.
    >Player A discards a tile (let's say a flower). Player C calls the tile for Mah Jongg, but before she even touches it, player B says that she wants it for Mah Jongg. Player B takes the flower, and exposes it with three of her own. Then she takes a tile from her hand, and exchanges it for a joker, let's say from player D. Now that she has that joker, she puts up the rest of her hand for Mah Jongg.
    >Player C says, "Hold it, the Mah Jongg is mine, because I didn't have to do the extra step (joker exchange). I would have had Mah Jongg just by taking the discarded tile."
    >I agree with player C, but some agreed with B. Am I right or wrong?
    >Thank you.
    >Linda M

    Hi, Linda!
    This question is answered in FAQ 19-M. Scenario: two players claim a discard. Both say "mah-jongg!" The problem is, one of them cannot claim "mah-jongg."
    One of them is sitting there ready for mah-jongg. She has 13 tiles that all work for a hand on the card, and just needs the 14th. That's your player C; she's ready for mah-jongg.
    The other, your player B, has only 12 tiles that work for a hand on the card, and a 13th tile that can be redeemed for a joker. She is not ready for mah-jongg. What I mean is, she can call a discard, but she cannot say "mah-jongg" when her discard comes out. If your player B won, the discarder would not pay player B double for discarding her mah-jongg tile - everybody would pay her double, because she self-picked the winning tile (win by joker redemption is considered self-pick). She can't say "mah-jongg" when claiming the discard - she can't say it until she redeems the joker.
    Revised scenario: Player A discards. Player B says "I want that" (she cannot say "mah-jongg," because she is a tile removed from a mah-jongg claim). Player C says "mah-jongg," so her claim takes precedence, she gets the tile, and she wins. The discarder pays player C double, and the others (including player B) pay single.
    I did what player B did, way back in the nineties when I was not yet an expert player. My group set me straight, and they were correct (this issue has been covered more than once in NMJL yearly newsletter Q&As).
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 6, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Consec #5

    >On Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 06:22:20 PM PST, Cynthia K wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >On the 2019 card under Consecutive Run, 5th one down:
    >FFF 1111 2222 DDD (any one suit)
    >Do the numbers 1 and 2 have to be used, or can any two consecutive numbers be used?
    >Ex: FFFF 5555 6666 DDD
    >Thanks for your help.
    >Sent from Cynthia's iPhone

    Hi, Cynthia!


    Regarding Consec #5:

    FFF 1111 2222 DDD (Any 1 Suit) x 25

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


    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 4, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Donation

    >On Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 03:21:08 AM PST, service@paypal wrote:
    >You received a payment
    > paypal Dec 4, 2019 03:20:49 PST
    > You received a payment
    > Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Customer name: Evelyn H
    >Subscription details
    >Amount received: $10.00 USD
    >For: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Evelyn!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 4, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is there research available on luck?

    >On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, 06:45:53 AM PST, iteachmahjong wrote:
    >Chinese MJ Question
    >Tom - I read through FAQs in search of information, and found none, relating to the elements of skill and luck, and what measure they play in the winning or losing of a MJ hand. I teach and lead 2 Chinese version MJ groups in my hometown and hear players comment, "Oh it just takes luck to win", insinuating that skillful play is not a factor. What are your thoughts, or is research available, concerning this?
    >Thank you, Jon
    >(Jacksonville, FL MJ teacher)

    Hi, Jon!
    As I said to Sandy on September 13 ("What's the luck ratio in mah-jongg?" below), skilled players win more often overall than less-skilled players, but even the most skilled player will have bad luck sometimes. When somebody grouses that "it just takes luck to win," I assume that's a player who has not achieved a high level of skill.
    I recommend you check out
    FAQ 8. You surely teach section A, but how much of section B and section C do you teach your students?
    And no, I do not know of any scholarly research on luck in mah-jongg.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 3, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    New mobile app for Japanese majan

    >On Monday, December 2, 2019, 01:56:06 AM PST, Ola S wrote:
    >New mahjong app for mobile
    >Hello Tom Sloper,
    >Mahjong Soul[1], which launched its English version earlier this year
    >for web browsers, has just recently released an application for iOS and
    >Android. It's an application for playing Japanese mahjong against real
    >opponents. There are microtransactions, but just for cosmetic stuff. The
    >player base is decent, though not as skilled as Tenhou's (yet).
    >Best regards,
    >Ola S
    >[1] https://mahjongsoul.yo-star.com/

    Thanks, Ola! I'm adding that to FAQ 5.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 2, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Does a dead player still have to pay?

    >On Sunday, December 1, 2019, 12:51:40 PM PST, Barbara R wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    > I checked the FAQ's but could not find the answer to my question which is: In Asian mahjong, if a player is dead, does he/she still have to pay out to the person who gets mahjong? You state that if a player is dead, he continues playing but cannot mahjong. In our games the dead player is out of the game but must take part in the payout. Which is the correct way to continue?
    >I appreciate your advice.
    >Barbara

    Hi, Barbara!
    Making an error certainly does not get a player off the hook when payment time arrives. When payment time arrives, there are two (not three) categories of player: the winner, and the non-winners. The erring (dead) player is among the latter category, and does have to pay the winner.
    Imagine for a moment that a dead player does not have to pay the winner. In that world, it would be tempting to make a mistake whenever the tiles don't go your way!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 2, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Why isn't American mah-jongg popular among American men: followup questions

    >On Sunday, December 1, 2019, 07:05:14 AM PST, lindaz wrote:
    >Nov 30 post--part 2
    >Hi Tom,
    >You made some interesting observations to my first question and I thank you for that. My second question relates to the sudden popularity of MJ among women in the US (at least in the retirement communities I have lived in) in the last 25 years. Is this something you've noticed? I know MJ has been popular among Jewish women here but now it seems popular everywhere in the US, at least among senior women. I originally learned MJ to counter the aging process in my brain :>). I wonder also about MJ's popularity in Asian countries--is it a thriving pastime passed through the ages, or is it becoming a dying art? Thanks for your cultural insight!
    >Linda

    Hi, Linda! You wrote:

    My second question relates to the sudden popularity of MJ among women in the US (at least in the retirement communities I have lived in) in the last 25 years. Is this something you've noticed?
    I started playing in the nineties. I didn't observe mah-jongg's popularity before 25 years ago, so I don't have any "pre-boom" data (assuming it has been a boom since then - which may be the case, since I've been interviewed about this "boom" many times). Everybody tells me there's more interest in the game than there was at some point in the past. I've noticed the journalistic interest, anyway...

    I know MJ has been popular among Jewish women here but now it seems popular everywhere in the US, at least among senior women. I originally learned MJ to counter the aging process in my brain :>)
    I haven't visited any retirement communities lately. I suppose I might wind up in one some day, if not too expensive. But yes, exercising the brain is a big part of the game's appeal. Among others. I always tell the news reporters that the game declined in the sixties, when young women became more interested in bra burning and free love than playing games with their elders. And if you think about it, 25 years ago is about when the Worldwide Web and the Internet caught on with the general public.

    I wonder also about MJ's popularity in Asian countries--is it a thriving pastime passed through the ages, or is it becoming a dying art?
    This "dying art" idea is pure fantasy, don't know who told you such a thing. The game is very much alive in Asia.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    December 1, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Chows in a 2P game

    >On Saturday, November 30, 2019, 10:17:39 AM PST, Rodrigo R wrote:
    >2 player Asian variant chows
    >Hi Tom,
    >I am trying to play a 2 player Chinese version with my daughter and don’t want to have each of us play dummy hands. Your site says we can build the regular 4 walls and then “chow exposures are not allowed” Does this mean no chows are allowed at all in the game or does it mean that only concealed chows are allowed?
    >Thanks,
    >Rodrigo R

    Hi, Rodrigo!
    "Chow exposures" are made when claiming an opponent's discard. You may, of course, create 3-tile runs in one suit among your concealed tiles, but you are not supposed to claim a discard to expose a chow - unless it's for mah-jongg. That's the customary 2-player rule for Asian versions, but you can do whatever want. I recommend trying the rule for a while (say, half an hour or so at least) before succumbing to the desire to claim chows. But I think you'll quickly discover that claiming chows in a 2-player game makes the game too simplistic for sustained fun.

    P.S. December 2: You mentioned playing dummy hands. Two thoughts: (1) Deal tiles to only 2 people. There are no dummy hands. (2) Or you could use the idea behind Gladys Grad's "Siamese" rules, and deal two hands to each player. There is no "dummy" unless you want to call yourself such; each player plays two hands. Google "Siamese mah jongg" for detailed rules.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 2, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Why isn't American mah-jongg popular among American men?

    >On Saturday, November 30, 2019, 05:23:23 AM PST, <lindaz wrote:
    >just wondering
    >Hi Tom,
    >Why do you think MJ is not as popular among men in America when it is so popular with men in China? You probably have some theories.
    >I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving--your readers are very thankful for all you do for us!
    >Best wishes, Linda

    Hi, Linda!
    I wrote a little about this in FAQ 19U, but I'm happy to expand on that. First, I put "American" in the subject line for this exchange for the main reason that we ARE talking about different forms of mah-jongg here. The majority of men who play mah-jongg in America are playing other variants. Asian men, playing Asian variants. Asian families, continuing the old ways, trying to teach new generations who are more interested in assimilating. Chinese variants, and the Vietnamese and Filipino forms, are played by mostly older men and women of Asian descent in this country. Japanese mah-jongg is different because Japanese culture has a following here, due to anime and video games from Japan. Mah-jongg comes up in those Japanese media, and so there is some interest in Japanese mah-jongg among the young (mostly male). But Japanese mah-jongg has a steep learning curve, so it's mostly diehard fanatic otaku (Google it) who play.
    Now consider American mah-jongg. Maybe 1% of players are male. I wrote in FAQ 19U that males don't play because it's a game designed by women for women to play and enjoy. But that certainly doesn't explain it all. Let's look at American men for a moment. How do they like to spend their free time? Older men like cars and manly sports like football, baseball, and golf. They'd much rather sit in a comfy recliner watching sports than sit at a table with three other people, trying to form sets with exotic tiles while the others engage in gossip and kvetching.
    Men of that generation might play poker once in a while with "the boys," but that might depend on their social status and what kind of positions they hold or held in business.
    I talked about the old and the young, but what about the middle age? American men in their forties and fifties grew up playing video games. They're much more comfortable gathering on a couch in front of a TV than gathered around a table. Think about school - which gender was it that was content to sit at a desk during class, and which was it that fidgeted and made trouble? Hormones impact social interactions. Men are more comfortable among men, where things can get raunchy. Women are more comfortable among women, where they can loosen up and share feelings. Generally speaking, of course. There are exceptions to everything (even this very sentence).
    P.S. And then there's the gambling aspect. Some women I've taught are reluctant to gamble for quarters. Most men who are interested in gambling games would want more excitement than coins. Dollar bills are more manly.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 2, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Where do I get certified as a mah-jongg teacher?

    >On Monday, November 25, 2019, 11:16:15 AM PST, F wrote:
    >Teacher certification?
    >Is there a way to get certified as an American Mah Jongg instructor?
    >Regards,
    >Fred C
    >Brentwood CA
    >Sent from the interstices of cerebral thought.

    There's no certificate, Fred. Please see FAQ 19-CO.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 25, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Oopsie in FAQ 16

    >On Monday, November 25, 2019, 10:44:44 AM PST, F wrote:
    >Q&A error on website
    >On your site at
    >http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq16.htm
    >there’s an error in the Q&A as follows:
    >FFFF 2019 111 999 (Any 3 Suits, Pungs 1 and 9 Only)
    >(2019 #1)
    > Does the 2019 have to be in bams, since it's green?
    > No. Read the parenthetical. It says "Any 3 Suits." That's the League's way of saying that the 2019 can be from any suit, and the kong of 1s must be any second suit, and the kong of 3s must be the third suit.
    >Your answer references “kong” in two places, but it should say “pung”.
    >Regards,
    >Fred C
    >Brentwood CA
    >Sent from the interstices of cerebral thought.

    Hi, Fred!
    Fixed it, thanks to you!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 25, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Mystery Chinese characters

    >On Sunday, November 24, 2019, 09:15:26 AM PST, Diana F wrote:
    >Chinese Symbols
    >Hello Tom - Pardon the intrusion. I'm unable to find any information as to what the Chinese Characters mean on the NMJL card (under the year) and the AMJA logo.
    >Thank for your consideration,
    >Dee
    >Diana L. F

     

    Hi, Dee!
    The characters on the NMJL card are the same as the first two Chinese characters in the AMJA logo: 麻雀 (see http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq18.htm). These are the characters used by Joseph P. Babcock in his "little red book" of rules when he introduced mah-jongg to the West in 1920. These characters are widely used as "mahjong" but are actually pronounced ma que (ma chuh), and mean "hemp (colored) bird" (sparrow). I use these characters in many places on my website.
    In recent times, Chinese mah-jongg organizers have created a new "spelling" for the game's name. Now they use 麻将. It's pronounced ma jiang (sounding like the name "mah-jongg," which was never a real Chinese phrase but was made up by Babcock).
    The third character in the AMJA logo, , means "union, group, association." (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E6%9C%83). And actually, I designed the logo for the AMJA - and Activision's marketing department made it look better (October, 1999 - see http://sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq11h.htm). The character is pronounced hui. The AMJA logo uses the American flag as a word ("American") so the whole logo is read: "America(n) Mah-Jongg Association."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 24, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    A series of errors

    >On Thursday, November 21, 2019, 08:23:42 AM PST, Star F wrote:
    >Re: A series of errors
    >Good morning Tom,
    >Please clarify: Player 1 called for a discard (2 Bam) to complete her MJ. Instead picking up a 2 Bam, she accidentally picked up a 1 Crak and racked it. As she started to expose her tiles to show MJ, she realized the 1 Crak didn't fit and put it on her slant and said she thought she had MJ, but apparently didn't. She then returned the tiles she started to expose for MJ. She then realized she still wanted the 2 Bam so she picked up the discard and exposed (three) 2 Bams. At this point she has 15 tiles. After the table played through what had happened, they all realized she had called for the 2 Bam, but picked up the 1 Crak instead of the 2 Bam. They allowed her to return the 1 Crak to the table, keep the 2 Bam for MJ.
    >Officially .... shouldn't she have been dead when she picked up the wrong discard and racked it? Again when she had 15 tiles? again when she called MJ erroneously? Can she call MJ, then realize she didn't have it and return tiles to slant? A series of errors all because she picked the wrong discard, even though she did call for the right one. Clarification please.
    >Thank you!
    >Star F

    Hi, Star! You asked:

    shouldn't she have been dead when she picked up the wrong discard and racked it?
    Yes.

    Again when she had 15 tiles?
    Yes.

    again when she called MJ erroneously?
    Yes.

    Can she call MJ, then realize she didn't have it and return tiles to slant?
    No. I think it was nice of your group to forgive her for her errors.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 21, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Two players want the same discard, but one acted before the other spoke

    >On Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 09:08:34 PM PST, Sharon L wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >In playing today a tile was discarded and someone called it and placed it on top of her rack , when another player, closer to the person who discarded the tile, said she wanted to call it. She was technically closer but the other plan had already put the exposure up. Who gets it ?
    >Thanks, Sharon

    Hi, Sharon! The tile goes to the player who already put it atop her rack. Read FAQ 19H.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 20, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I discarded a redeemable tile

    >On Monday, November 18, 2019, 02:21:19 PM PST, Patsy B wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: After I laid my discard down, but before the next player drew and racked her tile, I realized that the tile I discarded could be used to exchange for an exposed Joker in someone’s hand. Was is legal for me to pull back my discarded tile, exchange it for the Joker and make Mah Jongg? I’ve been mulling this over for the last couple of hours and wanted to get your expertise!

    Hi, Patsy!
    1. Once your discard was "down," it was too late for you to take it back. Read FAQ 19A (When Is a Tile 'Down'?) and FAQ 19-AM (The "Change of Heart" FAQ).
    2. Nobody can pick up a discarded redeemable tile for the purpose of redeeming it for a joker. See FAQ 19G.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 18, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Next-in-line says "wait"

    >On Saturday, November 16, 2019, 04:28:06 AM PST, Gayle R wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If a player calls a tile but the next in line to call a tile just says wait I am thinking about whether I want it - can the player who calls the tile pick it up and expose or does that player have to wait until the next in line for the tile decides if they want it?
    >Sent from my iPad,
    >Gayle

    Hi, Gayle!
    I'd love to give you a simple answer to this question, but you've touched upon one of my raw nerves: indecisive players who don't mind making everybody wait while they think. And nobody'd better say anything, because that just slows down the thinking. I wrote in FAQ 9:

      MAKING EVERYBODY WAIT -- It's normal to need a moment or two to think occasionally. But some players make a bad habit of it. If you think you might want a discard, it's OK to say, "Wait a second." But don't stretch it out to a minute. We give you a second and you take an hour? That isn't nice! Say, "Wait a second." Then, within a second or two, make a decision one way or another. And apologize for the interruption if you decide to pass.

    But your question adds a complication: now the "wait" request is putting a claim for a discard in limbo. Yes, the next-in-line can voice her claim for the discard, and there's no rule that says she can't make everybody wait while she decides. It's bad manners to think longer than 3 or 4 seconds, holding up the game. Unfortunately, it's also bad manners to tell somebody she has bad manners.

    In case the answer is unclear: yes, the not-next-in-line has to wait while the next-in-line makes her decision. Her call for the tile takes priority.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Column 731

    >On Friday, November 15, 2019, 08:12:09 AM PST, johnh wrote:
    >Column #731
    >In Column #731, Problem 7, I believe you've listed a few too many hot tiles. Among others, you include "threes, and nines in all suits" as hot tiles. I think that should be limited to 3B, 3D and 9C; other 3's and 9's would not play with the exposed tiles.
    >I enjoy the mental challenges you present in your columns. Thank you very much.
    >John H

    Hi, John!
    If the player is showing a pung of sixes, then she needs either threes or nines to go with that (hand 369 #5). We cannot know from the exposure which way she is going. She also needs a pung of either 6D or 6B, and since we don't know if her six craks are to be matched with threes or nines, ALL threes and nines are potentially hot. We can't assume that the position of the sixes (either to the left or right of the flower kong) is in "card order." It's bad strategy to intentionally position one's exposures in card order, and there is no rule saying a player must place exposures in card order. So one should not make assumptions about card order based on exposure order. Thanks for writing, and I'm glad you enjoy the columns!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

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


    What if a taken discard is put in the rack, part 4

    >On Friday, November 8, 2019, 02:24:33 PM PST, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hey there
    >Hi Tom...I think I mentioned that I was going to write to the NMJL or maybe you suggested I do, to ask them about their rule with regard to calling a tile and at what point someone can change their mind. I mentioned that nowhere it is mentioned that someone cannot change their mind if they call a tile and place it on the sloping part of the rack. I asked them, to consider adding a written rule that would state that the action of calling a tile and placing on the sloping part of ones rack would be considered "racked" where one could not change their mind. This is the letter I got back.
    >Have a wonderful weekend Mr. T!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    There's nothing surprising here, Debbie. This is completely in line with previous pronouncements from the League, and it's also completely in line with FAQ 19-AM. Curious what question prompted you to write the League, I checked my bulletin board and found your post of October 21 (below).

    Although I said then that I had never seen a rule saying you couldn't change your mind about taking a discard and putting it in the sloping front of your rack, I did say that it was an illegal move. (It is illegal to take a discard and put it in the sloping front of the rack and leave it there.)

    It is, however, legal to take a discard and bring it in among one's concealed tiles preparatory to moving concealed tiles to the rack's top. (This is a fairly recent rule.)

    Given the Change of Heart rules from the League previously, it's only logical to assume that if one takes a discard and puts it in the sloping front of the rack preparatory to moving concealed tiles to the rack's top, that it's too late to put that discard back on the discard floor. So I'm not surprised by the letter.*

    You have a good weekend too! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

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

    *P.S. What I meant to say is that the rule for this obscure error is easy to infer from other rules. I wasn't asked what should happen when somebody either racks a taken discard among her concealed tiles and leaves it there or racks a taken discard preparatory to exposing. I was asked if this rule was in writing. Neither one was in writing, but there isn't a need to have every inferrable rule in writing.
    Tom, Sunday Nov. 10.
    P.P.S. Can she undo her action? Either way: actions commit one to a move. So, no.
    Tom, Tuesday Nov. 12


    Column thoughts

    >On Thursday, November 7, 2019, 12:35:43 PM PST, Susan H wrote:
    >Column #7
    >On hand #2, I’d also keep the 9s – you have 2-19 in dots, a 9B and a 1C , so if you get a soap, the top 2019 hand is a real possibility (and I find that one the easiest to get, since the 1s and 9s can be called with just a pair).
    >On hand #6, since there are so many things that don’t go with the pair of 7s, I’d hold onto the soap (in case 6Ds or 8Ds get passed) and the 1-2 of cracks (in case a 5B or two show up). And maybe even the 9D (for 5/7/9 or 7/8/9).
    >Thanks for your blog- very thoughtful and analytic (just the way I like to play).
    >Susan K H

    Hi, Susan!
    >囧 Which column is that?

    >On Thursday, November 7, 2019, 03:02:21 PM PST, Susan H wrote:
    >Re: Column #7
    >September?

    That helps. It's #730. You wrote:

    On hand #2, I’d also keep the 9s – you have 2-19 in dots, a 9B and a 1C , so if you get a soap, the top 2019 hand is a real possibility (and I find that one the easiest to get, since the 1s and 9s can be called with just a pair).
    So you'd pass G R S. One cringes to pass such a grouping, of course - but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! And I agree with you that singles are easier to get than pairs.

    I want to thank you, Susan. Your comment reminds me that this is a flaw in my Four Steps, and the solution is suddenly clear. (I have to add "scan the other card sections, like 201x and the change-up section at lower left corner, and Singles & Pairs.")

    On hand #6, since there are so many things that don’t go with the pair of 7s, I’d hold onto the soap (in case 6Ds or 8Ds get passed) and the 1-2 of cracks (in case a 5B or two show up). And maybe even the 9D (for 5/7/9 or 7/8/9).
    Yes, I don't like to pass soaps, especially in the first pass. Although I wrote "you could just get rid of winds and soap, and stop dithering," I probably wouldn't. I'd pass the least-likely number tile with the winds.

    Thanks for your blog- very thoughtful and analytic (just the way I like to play).
    So glad you like it!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 7, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Optional Pass? Courtesy Pass?

    >On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 06:33:21 PM PST, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hey again
    >It's been too long so I thought I'd bug you...hehe. Someone recently asked me why I use the name Optional Across in my book for the 7th Charleston Pass. I answered because that is what the NMJL refers to it as. They said, but the gaming sites (they mentioned two of them) and Sloper uses the name Courtesy Pass. I'm assuming both are acceptable and no one is going to jail for saying one over the other but is there any history behind the use of or addition of the name Courtesy Pass? More curious than anything about this. Thanks as always TS.
    >Debbie B.
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Hi, Debbie!
    The League refers to that pass as an "Optional Pass" in Mah Jongg Made Easy, it's true enough. Where did I get the term "Courtesy Pass," you may wonder? From the League. Viola Cecil, the League's first president, called it "Courtesy Pass (Optional)" in Maahj, The American Version of an Ancient Chinese Game, in the late 1930s. So, if there was such a thing as "mah-jongg police," they would have no grounds for arresting or fining you for using either term... not that there is such a thing. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 6, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Donation

    >On Monday, November 4, 2019, 03:30:02 AM PST, service@paypal wrote:
    >You received a payment
    > Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >You received a payment from Evelyn H for Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Customer name: Evelyn H
    >Profile status: Active
    >Subscription details
    >Amount received: $10.00 USD
    >For: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Amount paid each time: $10.00 USD
    >Billing cycle: Monthly
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Evelyn! I appreciate this.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 4, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Column #724, part 2

    >On Sunday, November 3, 2019, 08:01:14 AM PST, E 'two cents ¢¢' Henderson wrote:
    >Re: Column #724, example #1
    >Thank you. You are very nice to me, I can see the mistake I made. Yesterday I was operating on about 2 hours of sleep, but I still wanted something to occupy my mind, and have some fun. I guess as such I wasn't firing on all cylinders. At least I got to play with tiles. Thank you again

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend, E two cents!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 3, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Column #724

    >On Saturday, November 2, 2019, 10:09:27 AM PDT, E 'two cents ¢¢' Henderson wrote:
    >Column #724, example #1
    >In the exposure in this exercise the opponent has three dragons, soaps and six dots. You state she is going for 3 6 9 #3.
    > However, couldn't she also be going for consecutive run, fifth hand down? Which would make 5 and 7 dot with potential for being hot as well. I know it's not in my hand right now, but this would be something for future tiles that were picked.
    >I know this email is late in coming, given this is a June 2019 column, but I just started working through your columns a short time ago. I didn't see any comments on it on the site regarding this, but I doubt I'm the first one seeing this.
    >Of course the Assumption also might be that you're just dealing with what we have in hand at the moment and not a hypothetical 5 or 7 that would be coming down the pike.
    >Thank you.
    >"Curses! Tiled again!!"

    Sorry, two cents ¢¢, but no. She can't be making Consec #5 because Consec #5 needs number kongs, not pungs.
    Thanks for writing, though! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    November 2, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Off the rack, part 2

    A retraction: in my earlier reply to Leslie S this morning, I said the ruling was in a newsletter. I looked back through the newsletters seven years (to 2012) and did not find a ruling about standing one's tiles on the card there. I also couldn't find it in the latest edition of the rulebook. I even checked photos of letters sent me by readers. I heard somewhere that the League had ruled on that, but I can't find it in writing so I can't cite the source.
    Tom, Halloween, 2019


    Green set, part 2

    >On Thursday, October 31, 2019, 10:34:57 AM PDT, H, Paul wrote:
    >Re: Green Set
    >Hi Tom
    >Thanks very much for the informative reply.
    >I like the fact you rate it pretty rare, though will be surprised if no one has similar!
    >Maybe the post will get some attention and a bit more info, I figure it probably was made on a production line of sorts, so there must be more?
    >Just fyi, baize is the cloth type that you find on snooker/pool table, HPG is H.P. Gibson – games manufacturer, Rexine TM is a type of fake leather – seems to be common on MJ boxes.
    >Regards
    > Paul

    You're welcome, Paul.
    Of course it's not a one-off. And thanks for the explanation of terms. Cheers!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Halloween, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Off the rack

    >On Thursday, October 31, 2019, 09:24:21 AM PDT, Leslie S wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: (I looked through the site and could not find this question. Hopefully I did not miss it.)
    > Is there a rule about playing your tiles “off” of your rack. In other words, is playing with tiles “off the rack” ok? We have one player in our group who likes to stand up many/most of her tiles in front of her and leave some on the rack during the entire game. We were curious if that is allowed. We can easily make it a table rule and say it is fine but we are curious about it.
    > Thanks for all of your help. Love the website.
    >Leslie S

    Hi, Leslie!
    The League ruled on this in a newsletter a few years back.* It is not OK to stand one's concealed tiles anywhere other than the sloping front of the rack. I recommend that your player become more comfortable with tiles by playing a tile-matching game on her mobile device and/or desktop computer.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Halloween, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    * I have not been able to find the source of this ruling. See retraction later same day (above).


    Green set

    >On Thursday, October 31, 2019, 08:01:04 AM PDT, Paul wrote:
    >Green Set
    >Hi Tom
    >I’ve been collecting Mahjong sets for the past ~four years, bought set #1 to play with my children – seemed like a nice idea at the time!
    >The internet has been a great help to try and get a grasp on the subject and restoration [Charli, Carli, Tony Watson, themahjongtileset.co.uk, sloperama, ebay].
    >I try to go for [what I think of as] less common sets.
    >So….I got this set on ebay and have been told it’s ‘Chinese Bakelite’, I’ve browsed the internet [well not the whole internet!] and can’t find a similar set.
    >If nothing else, maybe an unusual set to display on your bulletin board!
    >I’ve done my best with the photos, difficult to photo the tiles – light reflecting from the crackled surfaces, let me know if not ok. More photos in next email.
    >The set is in overall good condition, the tiles I’d rate as very good, the box [poor] has suffered the passage of time but done a good job protecting the contents.
    >148 dark green Chinese Bakelite tiles – hand carved, slight paint loss, tiles have ‘crackles’ as shown but remain whole.
    >Tiles are 2.8*2.1*1.3 cm, photo shows sample tile beside a Gimbles 9#Bam and a CB Hawk Bam for size comparison.
    >Tiles have a gold, white and red paint palette, elaborate craks, bams & circles, flower tiles show potted plants. Tiles have Arabic indices.
    >Card box, covered with rexine?, metal latches and lock with key, functional and sturdy but tatty and repaired.
    >Card trays, covered with blue baize material.
    >Bone tally sticks, 36 #2, 36 #8, 35 #4 and 8 #12, fair quality
    >2 bone dice
    >1 wind indicator
    >2 booklets. “How to Play Ma jong” by China Curios Store, Shanghai [no phone number quoted] and an add-in HPG, both in good condition.
    >So….Looking for your observations and answers, my questions……
    >on a 1 – 100 scale how rare is it?
    >Approx. year of manufacture?
    >Approx. value?
    >Is the China Curios Store booklet original to the set?
    >What bird in on the one bam?
    >Regards
    > Paul
    >Navan



    Hi, Paul. You asked:

    have been told it’s ‘Chinese Bakelite’
    No. Looks like "Applejuice Bakelite" to me, but colored green. So-called "Chinese Bakelite" does not have a crackled appearance, and does have sharper corners.

    on a 1 – 100 scale how rare is it?
    I can't give you a number. I'll just say that I never saw green applejuice tiles before. Pretty rare.

    Approx. year of manufacture?
    Same timeframe as Applejuice Bakelite. Thirties to forties or thereabouts, possibly fifties. Check those sources you cited again, look for information on Applejuice tiles.

    Also: Note absence of any jokers, and "only" eight flowers. You're in Ireland? The set does not seem to have been made for use with American National Mah Jongg League rules, which required additional flowers after 1942. See column 509 - if the set was intended for play in America after 1942, it would have more flowers. Also, American players always want racks, and your set has none - so, the set was not made for American players, OR it was made before 1942. Again: look into Applejuice sets.

    Approx. value?
    VG tiles in a Poor box, with missing and smeared sticks, and a broken? wind indicator... but rare green Applejuice tiles, and rare booklets. No idea. I assume it's worth what you paid for it, without knowing what you paid for it. Probably more than US$100, probably less than $400. But who knows how far some collectors will go.

    Is the China Curios Store booklet original to the set?
    I have no idea. Could be. Does it fit in the box? I have heard of the "Jackpot" booklet, but I don't have either of your booklets in my collection. The booklets have value.

    What bird in on the one bam?
    Sorry, I'm neither a bird expert nor a one-bam expert. I don't know. Full disclosure: I also don't know what "rexine," "baize," or "HPG" mean. Michael Stanwick might know about your bird and your booklets.

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


    Two contradictory answers to the same question!!!

    >On Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 05:01:14 PM PDT, Star Fire wrote:
    >Re: Change of Mind on taking Discard
    >Hi Tom ...
    >Q: Someone called for the discard, exposed it along with two from slant side of rack. She then realized she needed four instead of three. Returned tiles to slant, returned discarded tile to table. ** thought as long as she hadn’t discarded a tile, she could make the change.
    >Looked for a ruling and found > (2 different rulings)
    >1). Q: So you're saying I can make changes to my exposure if I haven't discarded yet?
    >A: Yes. As I just said, the time to add to (or subtract from) an exposure is before you discard.
    >2) A: 2. Calling a discard / making an exposure. You can touch it or move it and change your mind. But once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (then you have crossed the line, and you may not backtrack - it's too late).
    >It feels like two different rulings for the same question. What am I missing?
    >Thank You
    >Star

    Hi, Star! You wrote:

    Someone called for the discard, exposed it along with two from slant side of rack. She then realized she needed four instead of three. Returned tiles to slant, returned discarded tile to table.
    Illegal play. Once she exposed tiles from her hand (the sloping front of the rack), she has committed to the play. She may not put those tiles back among her other concealed tiles, and she may not return the discard to the discard floor. (Your #2 above - FAQ 19-AM.)

    It feels like two different rulings for the same question. What am I missing?
    No, it's two different questions. Your #1 is not the answer to the question "I made an exposure. I want backsies, can I put everything back?" #2 is the answer to THAT question. Question #1 is, "Can I make a change to my exposure if I haven't discarded yet?" (FAQ 19-AF). A complete undoing of the exposure (putting it all back) is not permitted. Making a change to the exposure (leaving it atop the rack but in a different configuration) IS permitted.

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


    Chen Zhengyue, part 3

    >On October 30, heaton.ray wrote:
    >Re: Chen  Zhengyue
    >Hi Tom,
    >After reviewing my books on the Taiping Rebellion, I found the following included in an academic paper written by Xiaowei Zheng, titled “Loyalty, Anxiety and Opportunism: Local Elite Activism during the Taiping Rebellion in Zhejiang, 1851-1864”:
    >“... some Ningbo local elites had begun to hire foreign armies themselves. Chen Zhengyue was the first to manage it. Coming from the influential and wealthy Chen lineage of Yin County, Chen Zhengyue was renowned for his strong sense of communal loyalty and righteousness. Chen was always active and dedicated to public affairs, such as fundraising for the state and philanthropic work. The local government therefore consistently relied upon him.
    >If He Wenqing was the mastermind of the Taipings in their conquest of eastern Zhejiang, then Chen Zhengyue was the true organizer of the counter attack.
    >It all began when Chen Zhengyue moved to reside in the British concession of Ningbo City on the northern bank of the Yong River when fleeing the Taipings. Chen’s first move was to link up with the Ningbo British Consul’s translator, Zheng Weichun.
    >... After establishing connections with Consul Harvey, Chen Zhengyue decided to mobilize and combine all the forces he could. Soon after the Taipings launched into Yin, top civilian and military officials fled Ningbo, and Chen Zhengyue had to take up the leadership.
    >... With Chen’s careful planning, the recovery of Ningbo was a quick win.”
    >Of course, none of this supports the view that Chen had anything to do with the invention of Mahjong, but does show how well connected and powerful he was.
    >There must be more information about Chen, the sources quoted by the author of the document are probably worthy of consulting if I can find copies – I’ll keep looking, but I expect it’ll take me quite a while!
    >Chen was well connected into the British and presumably therefore the American consular services, though the dates that Michael Stanwick presents seem a little later than Chen’s time, so I’d be surprised to find a direct link between Chen and (for example), Wilkinson – 1880 onwards, Glover – 1859, so more potential or Himley – 1868.
    >With the document referring to Chen's connection to British Consular Harvey and Chen residing in the British Concession in Ningbo, made me think Chen could have come across others in the consular services, particularly Glover as the dates that Michael Stanwick uses for Glover's services most closely fit in to the dates Chen was actively seeking the support of foreign powers.
    >Regards,
    >Ray

    Great stuff, Ray! Thank you!
    Clearly, our man had quite a life beyond mah-jongg. Essentially, Chen amounts to Hero of Ningbo. Which does raise the question, does that jibe with him mashing money-suited cards with domino tiles and creating Rummylike gameplay? He certainly had the brains for it. And when he wasn't doing public-minded good deeds, he had time for games (he didn't work a 9 to 5 job). But then again there's the Chinese habit of ascribing inventions to the head guy, rather than to the individual inventor. If somebody else designed the game, in Ningbo while Chen was Most Favored Citizen, Savior of Ningbo, then the game might have been attributed to Chen rather than to that "nobody." Even if that nobody is a general, or two brothers, or two brother generals, or Chen himself. The plaque in Ningbo says he created mah-jongg. Fairly scant documentation, to be sure. But that's what we have.
    But for any readers who may be interested, Xiaowei Zheng's paper (with lots of details about how Chen Zhengyue carried out his plans and got the Taipings kicked out of Ningbo) can be found at https://muse.jhu.edu/article/368172/pdf (ISSN 1086-3257; Print ISSN 0884-3236).
    Abstract:
    During the Taiping Rebellion, eastern Zhejiang was a key battlefield. Drawing upon fresh data from literati writings, government records, and local gazetteers, this paper explores how different types of local elites in the Ningbo-Shaoxing region acted and how their practices interacted with and gradually changed the local political structure. This paper argues that the Taiping Rebellion was not simply a conflict between rebels on one side, and local elites plus the Qing government on the other. Eastern Zhejiang’s Taiping Rebellion was chiefly a civil war between two types of local elites. The suppression of the rebellion cannot be interpreted solely as the Tongzhi restoration policies of the central government; in fact, victory in eastern Zhejiang resulted from the new activism of the Ningbo elites, who applied various resources to ensure the Qing triumph. Finally, patterns of local dominance changed: an independent and separate sphere of local activism emerged, and economic capital became increasingly important compared to cultural capital as a source of power. All of these factors corroded the foundation of the “Confucian” way of dominance and gave rise to the independent authority of the local elite, which set in motion the political transformation that was to come.

    Thanks again, Ray! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 30, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Finessing and doubling

    >On Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 01:58:35 AM PDT, DebbiAnn L wrote:
    >Finesse vs. Call discard/joker redemption and which get paid double
    >Re: question BO and AN
    >Hi Tom! Love your column! I read an article on mahjonggandme.com regarding Ruth Unger's interpretation on finesse vs. rearrangement of your tiles. In other words, a call for a tile, whether a single (as in a pair, or 2019, or NEWS) or group of identical, with a tile in rack for joker exchange on some other player's rack is considered self picked, but with the tile to exchange in your rack for a joker ON your own rack's previous exposure is a mahjongg BUT NOT self picked. Ruth said it was a finesse move on the former situation and just a rearrangement of tiles if it's on your own rack, not an exchange for mahjongg.
    >The first, being self picked, pays double from all; the second, being a rearrangement, pays double from the discarder only. Am I reading this correctly
    >Are there two different standards and is only one considered a finesse move?
    >Thanks so much!
    >Debbi Ann L

    Hi, Debbi Ann.
    Anything Ruth Unger said in print is absolutely the rule, unless she later retracted it, or her sons changed the rule after control of the League devolved to them. The article you mentioned was not findable on mahjonggandme.com's front page so I Googled "ruth unger finesse mahjonggandme.com" to find it, at https://mahjonggandme.com/tag/ruth-unger/. As far as I could tell, Ruth's words were all relayed in the third person on that page (I couldn't readily find direct quoted rules from Ruth). But I was scanning the page with limited time before heading out for work. Nothing I saw on that page changed the current rule: winning by joker redemption (when done properly and according to the rules) counts as self-pick, thus is scored double. I have not seen anything in print modifying that rule.
    If you want confirmation, snailmail the League.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 30, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What is it, part 2

    >On Sunday, October 27, 2019, 02:10:37 PM PDT, B Margin wrote:
    >Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Dear Mister Mah-Jongg,
    >Thanks for your help! I think I've found the first 8 tiles. But I still can't found the last one. Best wishes!
    >Regards,
    >Margin

    Margin, are you by some chance asking what the Chinese character on the tile means? Is that what you mean by "finding" a tile? I was curious myself, and I found that 囧 jiǒng is a once obscure Chinese character meaning a "patterned window". Since 2008, it has become an internet phenomenon and widely used to express embarrassment and gloom, because of the character's resemblance to a sad facial expression. (Source: Wikipedia.) In other words, it's a meme and an emoji. Is that what you've been trying to find out?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 27, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What is it? ("Mystery tile")

    >On Sunday, October 27, 2019, 10:57:08 AM PDT, Bush M wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Dear Mister Mah-Jongg,
    >My friend asked me the question, and we had discuss on it, but no answer.
    >Do you know what is the tile on the right? It labelled "5" but I don't know which tile matches it.
    >Thank you for your kindly help. Best wishes.
    >Yours faithfully,
    >Margin

    It's a flower, Margin.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 27, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Questions regarding death, part 2

    >On Saturday, October 26, 2019, 06:32:08 AM PDT, Charli J wrote:
    >Re: Questions regarding Death of hand
    >Tom,
    >To clarify, can a hand be declared dead in the Charleston phase?
    >Charli

    No. There's no such thing as death during the Charleston.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 26, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Chen Zhengyue, part 2

    >On Friday, October 25, 2019, 03:34:22 PM PDT, heaton.ray wrote:
    >Bagongsheng
    >Hi Tom,
    >I couldn't find anything about Chen Zhengyue in my book on the Taiping Rebellion (well I checked just one book, I have others which I'll check out tomorrow), but I do know what a Bagongsheng is.
    >A Gongsheng was a top performing student in the low level provincial examinations for the Chinese Civil Service and selected to receive a scholarship into one of the best educational institutions. A Bagongsheng was a particularly notable student selected by the court - destined to be a real highflyer in the Civil Service.
    >Regards
    >Ray

    That's great information, Ray! The term "Civil Service," by itself, helps clarify some of the words used in the meager description(s?) I'd previously found about mah-jongg's creator. And "bagongsheng" is apparently sort of like "summa cum laude." Very enlightening.
    I suppose I should add some of this new information to FAQ 11-C!
    Thank you, Ray! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 25, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    List of mahjong centers, part 2

    >On Friday, October 25, 2019, 09:35:09 PM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >Re: Your book
    >Hello,
    >I apologize for the wrong link. This is as below. I guesd they are author of green book.
    >http://www.mindmahjong.com/eshow.asp?uver=cn
    >Thanks,

    Hi, Nima. You wrote:

    I apologize for the wrong link. http://www.mindmahjong.com/eshow.asp?uver=cn
    Oh, I see.

    I guesd they are author of green book.
    I think you're right. I note that the "New Edition" is still the same old 2014 edition of the green book. And I note that they are updating the News section (it shows 2019 events).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 25, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Questions regarding Death

    >On Friday, October 25, 2019, 11:18:12 AM PDT, Charli J wrote:
    >Questions regarding Death of hand
    >Tom,
    >In a recent game, two players had only 12 tiles. The Charleston had just been completed. A couple of tiles had been played when this was discovered. I've been looking to see if these hands were dead during the Charleston or if the players could have drawn their 13th tile before play began. I believe once play begins, they would both be dead. Correct? Also, should the other two players complete the hand?
    >Charli J
    >Arizona

    Hi, Charli! You asked:

    they would both be dead. Correct?
    Yes. See rule 9 on page 18 of the official NMJL rulebook. Also see rule 19(d) on page 20. Here on my website, see FAQ 19-AA.

    Also, should the other two players complete the hand?
    Yes. Those two are not dead. The game can continue if more than one player remains alive.

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

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


    List of mahjong centers around the world

    >On Friday, October 25, 2019, 05:41:44 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >Re: Your book
    >Hello,
    >Do you have a page on your website that is listing mahjong centers around the world? Or is there a website to do so beside mahjongmind.com
    >?

    No, Nima. I do not have a list of "mahjong centers." I wanted to see what you were talking about so I tried to visit mahjongmind.com and came up empty (Google found no such website). Are you sure you typed the URL correctly? Or do I have to go on the WaybackMachine to see a site that used to exist? Or is that site behind the Great Firewall, inaccessible to netizens in North America?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 25, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Chen Zhengyue a.k.a. Chen Yumen

    >On Thursday, October 24, 2019, 10:11:33 AM PDT, Ola S wrote:
    >Possible historical connection for the invention of Mahjong
    >Hello Tom Sloper,
    >Wikipedia writes of the occupation of Ningbo during the Taiping Civil
    >War[1]:
    >"Chen Zhengyue, a bagongsheng and member of the wealthiest household in
    >Ying County, developed a plan to retake Ningbo. He convinced the Qing
    >troops to attempt to retake Ningbo, collaborated with foreign armies to
    >organize an allied action, and provided funding for the expedition."
    >You don't suppose this is the same Chen Zhengyue a.k.a. Chen Yumen of
    >Ningbo that purportedly invented the game of Mahjong? Everything lines
    >up as far as I can tell.
    >Best regards,
    >Ola S
    >[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Ningbo

    Ola, this is great! I always wondered about Chen Yumen. The description of him at the Tianyi Pavilion in Ningbo was extremely sparse on information. I knew he was wealthy and was connected to government in some way. I had to look up "bagongsheng" - seems it means "Graduate for Preeminence." (Not that I know what that means.)
    Thank you so much, Ola. This does shed some light on mah-jongg's creator. He is less of a mystery now! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 24, 2019


    Time for a second edition

    >On Thursday, October 24, 2019, 07:55:36 AM PDT, Patricia K wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Isn’t it time for a second edition??
    >I love your book, depend on it for answers about all flavors of Mah Jongg, and have given copies to others. But I just found out about your ten pages of errata. Surely this warrants a new edition?
    >Thanks you, keep up the good work.
    >Patty K

    >On Thursday, October 24, 2019, 09:56:40 AM PDT, Patricia K wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Sorry to bug you about this. I’ve been adding your errata to my book and noticed that on p. 97, under Erroneous Call for Exposure, you have not brought this info up do date with the rule about exposing a discard atop the rack, as stated on p. 53, Rule 60.c. So I think the p. 97 errata needs to be fixed.
    >Thanks for your patience,
    >Patty K

    Yes, Patty, I realize a new edition is desirable. I did talk to my agent about it a few years ago but didn't get very far. I'll talk to her again but for all I know it might mean writing an entirely new book with a different publisher.
    And thanks for alerting me to the omission in the errata. I'll get to that soon.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    October 24, 2019

    [The errata document was updated on October 25 and may be obtained at sloperama.com/mjfaq/rdww.html.]


    Who could I contact to discuss this?

    >On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 05:16:54 PM PDT, Margaret K wrote:
    >Find Players/Teachers
    >94945
    >I am the director at Atria Tamalpais Creek Senior Living in Novato California and would like to open the activity room up to the public for mah jong Who could I contact to discuss this?

    Hi, Margaret.
    I didn't think it would help to just post this on the Find Players/Teachers bulletin board, because there's nobody to contact. Just put up signs so your members know they can play there. Either people will start playing there or they won't. You would probably burn a lot of rubber trying to find a teacher/organizer, if that's what you're thinking. Players can teach one another. Just listen to the players, that's who you should talk to.
    Good luck! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 23, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can a player call another player dead?

    >On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 10:58:15 AM PDT, Lisa and David wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Can a player “1” state player “2” hand is dead if player “1” thinks that there is no chance for player “2” to Mahjongg by what has been discarded and what player “2” has revealed?
    >Player “2” needs a One dot and a Nine dot to have the first had in the “13579” section. Another player has revealed 3 of the One dots and a Joker, 3 of the Nine dots have been discarded. Player “2” had only 1 One dot and 1 Nine dot. the rest of the hand had been completed and revealed., no incorrect tiles were revealed by player “2”.
    >Player “1” stated they could have said player “2”s hand was dead and the game would have continued with the other players until some one had Mahjongg or it was a wall game? That doesn’t sound correct to me.
    >Thanks for your assistance.
    >Lisa

    Hi, Lisa! You asked:

    Can a player “1” state player “2” hand is dead if player “1” thinks that there is no chance for player “2” to Mahjongg by what has been discarded and what player “2” has revealed?
    Yes. That's a frequent reason for a death challenge. Read FAQ 19-AA (2nd bullet, "Unwinnable").

    Player “1” stated they could have said player “2”s hand was dead and the game would have continued with the other players until some one had Mahjongg or it was a wall game? That doesn’t sound correct to me.
    Really? What doesn't sound right to you? (Read FAQ 19-AA before you respond, but maybe you won't need to after you read it.)

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 23, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Help us reconcile our "kitty" table rule with the bettor rules

    >On Monday, October 21, 2019, 12:00:41 PM PDT, Paula D wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >We have 5 players so obviously we have a bettor. We also put money into a kitty for wall games. The next person to mahj gets the Wall money plus collects from the other players. Here is our question. If person A wins and the bettor bet on that person, does she get half of the wall “pot” as well?
    >Thank you,
    >Paula in Cleveland

    Paula, I can't tell you how your custom rules should work. Read FAQ 14. Your group made up your own kitty rule; your group has to figure out all its details. But if you want to know how the bettor rules work, you'll find those laid out in the official NMJL rulebook, and in my FAQ 19W.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 21, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What if a taken discard is put in the rack, part 3

    >On Monday, October 21, 2019, 03:37:41 AM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello
    >Hello again:
    >The 10/20 Q & A is at the bottom. Apparently, I did not address the question as clearly as I had hoped, so I will ask it again to help clear things up. Here is the scenario and the question following. Would you kindly dig a bit deeper for me. Most appreciated!
    >Scenario: A player picks up a called tile. The player places that called tile on the sloped part of his/her rack, NOT on the flat top part of his/her rack. The player then decides he/she does not want that tile and returns it to the table.
    >Questions: Can the player change his/her mind as long as she has not placed the called tile atop the flat part of his/her rack and or taken tiles from his/her rack and placed them atop the flat part of his/her rack to begin the Exposure? Is there a written rule pertaining to this scenario?
    >I know this is not allowed in Tournaments so we can eliminate my needing any info regarding them. However, when a beginner poses the question to me, I like to be able to quote the rule if there is one. I personally teach that a student is never to place a called tile on the sloped part of their rack but instead to put the tile directly onto the flat part. Students that ask these questions have not been taught this way...unfortunately!
    >Many thanks again Tom!
    >[Remainder of email omitted; previous conversation can be seen below.]

    Good morning, Debbie. You wrote:

    Is there a written rule pertaining to this scenario?
    I have never seen a written rule from the League on this. All I know is that it's an illegal move. The death conditions listed on page 20 (rules/penalties #19) do not include this one.
    But see rule 19(f). If you pick from the wrong end of the wall and rack the picked tile, you're dead. Perhaps by extension this rule might apply to racking a taken discard. If you want a definitive rule, I recommend you mail your question to the League.
    In the absence of a specific rule, as I said on Friday, I would just advise the player to put the tile back on the discard floor in a non-tournament situation.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the
    Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 21, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    It has tiles I haven't seen before, part 3

    >On Sunday, October 20, 2019, 12:50:20 PM PDT, heaton.ray wrote:
    >Kendall's upside down tiles...
    >Hi Tom,
    >I couldn't see Kendall's "upside down tiles" described elsewhere on your site...they are rather amusing, so I thought I'd "chip in"!
    >One pair of tiles has the two characters 哈哈, "Ha Ha" and can mean "joke" but this is also simply onomatopoeic for laughter.
    >The other pair (one of which is the correct orientation of course) has the two characters 嘻嘻, "Xi Xi" pronounced a bit like "She She" in English (or "He He" in Japanese!).
    >Putting them together, it's 嘻嘻哈哈, "Xi Xi Ha Ha", and means "Laughing and Joking".
    >I presume then that the tiles will be capture tiles like the cat and mouse or rooster and centipede, rather than jokers.
    >Regards,
    >Ray

    Great, Ray! Thanks! I'll add this to the mystery tiles FAQ. A new type of Malaysian tile, apparently.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 20, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What's the diff between any consecutive numbers and any run?

    >On Sunday, October 20, 2019, 05:54:29 PM PDT, <lilyrig2002 wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What is the difference between any consecutive numbers and any run?

    All I can do is illustrate the difference.

    "ANY (#) CONSECUTIVE NUMBERS" (Quints #1, for example, in which the # = 4): You can use any of the following:
    11 222 3333 44444
    22 333 4444 55555
    33 444 5555 66666
    44 555 6666 77777
    55 666 7777 88888
    66 777 8888 99999
    So you have 6 choices in each suit. The word "run" is implied, as follows:
    "ANY (RUN OF #) CONSECUTIVE NUMBERS"

    "ANY RUN OF (#) NUMBERS" (S&P #4, for example, in which the # = 7): You can use any of the following:
    11 22 33 44 55 66 77
    22 33 44 55 66 77 88
    33 44 55 66 77 88 99
    So you have 3 choices in each suit. The word "consecutive" is implied, as follows:
    "ANY RUN OF (# CONSECUTIVE) NUMBERS"

    So the difference is: "run" is a noun, and "consecutive" is an adjective. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 20, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What if a taken discard is put in the rack, part 2

    >On Sunday, October 20, 2019, 08:49:52 AM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >No subject
    >Hi Tom!
    >Thank you as always for helping out with these sometimes crazy and bizarre questions. In the recent response you provided to this question:
    >
    >> what happens when the Called Tile is picked up and placed in someone's Rack rather than atop someone's Rack?
    >> If she leaves it there, she's dead (it's an illegal play). If she puts it atop her rack with the rest of the grouping (pung, kong, or quint) completed by the taken discard, then no problem. If she can't form the groupings, I would advise her to put the discard back on the discard floor and pick from the wall.
    >
    >Should I feel confident that since you state if a player can't form a grouping of a pung, kong or quint, you would ask them to put the tile back on the discard floor and I will add, might have otherwise changed her mind about doing so, that he/she can still change their mind about the tile he/she called?
    >
    >I've read through many NMJL newsletters, Mah Jongg Made Easy and letters answering questions to players but still cannot find this addressed anywhere. Just to be clear, I completely understand that a player can change their mind before they put the called tile atop their rack or before they've exposed tiles from their rack.
    >
    >And, second part of discussion:
    >Of course when you have the energy to add search categories is fine and most appreciated. Many thanks!
    >Regards!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Good morning, Debbie. You wrote:

    Should I feel confident that since you state if a player can't form a grouping of a pung, kong or quint, you would ask them to put the tile back on the discard floor
    You're asking me if my fingers somehow typed something I didn't mean to say? If you want to dig deeper into this, you'll have to paint a scenario for me. If I was a tournament judge, my answer would probably be different. If it's my Beginners class, I stand by what I said. What are you trying to ask me?

    and I will add, might have otherwise changed her mind about doing so, that he/she can still change their mind about the tile he/she called?
    Sorry, but can you rephrase the question? (If you do have a question I can answer.)

    I've read through many NMJL newsletters, Mah Jongg Made Easy and letters answering questions to players but still cannot find this addressed anywhere. Just to be clear, I completely understand that a player can change their mind before they put the called tile atop their rack or before they've exposed tiles from their rack.
    Okay.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 20, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    It has tiles I haven't seen before, part 2

    >On Friday, October 18, 2019, 10:15:21 PM PDT, Kendall R wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q A
    >Thank you!

    >On Friday, October 18, 2019, 11:28:29 PM PDT, Kendall R via PayPal wrote:
    >kattan███ sent you money
    >Hello Thomas Sloper,
    >You were sent $5.00 USD from kattan███
    >To see all the transaction details, please log into your PayPal account. It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in your account.
    >Buyer information
    >Kendall R
    >Instructions from buyer
    >Thx for your great advice. An excellent site.
    >Description Unit price Qty Amount
    >Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Item #: MJ@Sloperama
    >$5.00 USD
    >Total: $5.00 USD
    >Questions? Visit the Help Center at: www.paypal.com/help.
    >Thanks for using PayPal - the safer, easier way to pay and get paid online.

    Thanks, Kendall. Glad I could help.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 19, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What if a taken discard is put in the rack rather than atop it?

    >On Friday, October 18, 2019, 05:05:54 PM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello
    >Hey Tom, I hope all is well. So, the Q & A is as follows on your website: 2. Calling a discard / making an exposure. You can touch it or move it and change your mind. But once you have either placed the taken discard atop the rack or exposed tiles from your hand, you have committed to making the play (then you have crossed the line, and you may not backtrack - it's too late).
    >I can't seem to find the answer that includes what happens when the Called Tile is picked up and placed in someone's Rack rather than atop someone's Rack? Can you point me to this or let me know your thoughts. Thanks!!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    >On Friday, October 18, 2019, 05:27:50 PM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Re: Hello again
    >Hi again...I'm not sure if we ever finalized your adding some categories on the previous discussion and I think that putting a sub category using Erroneous Mah Jongg or Another Player Claiming a Discard after first Player went Dead would be great. Let me know your thoughts. Sorry if we discussed this already, sometimes my emails get lost in email jail!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    what happens when the Called Tile is picked up and placed in someone's Rack rather than atop someone's Rack?
    If she leaves it there, she's dead (it's an illegal play). If she puts it atop her rack with the rest of the grouping (pung, kong, or quint) completed by the taken discard, then no problem. If she can't form the groupings, I would advise her to put the discard back on the discard floor and pick from the wall.

    I think that putting a sub category using Erroneous Mah Jongg ... would be great.
    Sounds right to me. But just "erroneous mahj" is too small a category. I'll add a section for "errors" when I have the energy.

    or Another Player Claiming a Discard after first Player went Dead
    Maybe I could add a link by that name, pointing to FAQ 19-H4.


    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 17, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    It has tiles I haven't seen before. Do you have any ideas.

    >On Friday, October 18, 2019, 02:24:44 PM PDT, Kendall R wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: Hi Tom. I recently acquired this set locally off Facebook.
    >It has tiles I haven't seen before. Some look like that from a Singapore style set but the others I can't find anything on your website or on the net to determine what they are or represent. Do you have any ideas.
    >Regards Kendall R

    It's a Malaysian set, Kendall. See sloperama.com/mahjongg/malaysian.htm for lots of details. And see a synopsis of Malaysian mah-jongg (with links to additional information) in FAQ 2B (just Control-F search the page for "malaysian").
    And sorry for the notation on the photo - call me quirky about upside-down tiles!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 18, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    You are a lifesaver!

    >On Friday, October 18, 2019, 10:00:28 AM PDT, service@paypal wrote:
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Jacklin
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Jacklin L S
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Currency: U.S. Dollars
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Jacklin L S
    >Message: Dear Tom- You are a lifesaver! I appreciate your column and the time you spend on it for us. Keep up the good work! Jacki S
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

    Thank you, Jacki!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 18, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    An error occurred and then...

    >On Thursday, October 17, 2019, 04:12:07 PM PDT, Leslye G wrote:
    >Question Regarding The Wall
    >Dear Tom,
    >The wrong wall was pushed out. The next player took the first tile from that incorrect wall. It was her mah-jongg tile. She called mah-jongg before anyone realized it was the wrong wall.
    >What is the ruling? Does she win the game? Does the game continue with the wrong wall? Does the game end, no one wins and they start over?
    >Thank you for all you do for the game of mah-jongg.
    >Leslye G

    Hi, Leslye! I haven't gotten this question frequently. The win is honored. I read that in a League bulletin, I think. Couldn't find it in the official rulebook just now.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 17, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Questions

    >On Thursday, October 17, 2019, 05:03:48 PM PDT, Martin W wrote:
    >Question
    >If a player exposes a Kong of 3 one cracks and one joker and another player discards the 1 crack instead of taking the joker can it be picked up by next  player?

    >On Thursday, October 17, 2019, 05:20:11 PM PDT, Martin W wrote:
    >Question
    >Can you use a joker when doing the date? Thanks

    Hi, Martin. You asked:

    can [a discarded redeemable tile] be picked up by next  player?
    Read FAQ 19-G. A discarded redeemable tile cannot be claimed for the purpose of redeeming it.

    Can you use a joker when doing the date?
    Read FAQ 19-E, and read the back of your card.


    Every player should read the back of the NMJL card every year. Sometimes there are changes.
    Many frequently asked questions are answered on the card.
    For your question: turn it over and look at the back. Left pane, last sentence of the last paragraph before the numbered rules.
    Look for the word "NEVER" (in all capital letters, bold text, and underlined just like that).

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 17, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Calling a discarded tile already picked up but not yet racked

    >On Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 01:20:59 PM PDT, B, Caroline wrote:
    >Calling a discarded tile already picked up
    >Can you call a discard if the player to you right called it and has picked it up from the table but has not yet placed it on his or her rack?
    >Thanks,
    >Caroline B

    That tile's yours, Caroline. You just need to speak while that tile is held in the air. Read "Conflicting Claims" in FAQ 19 (it's FAQ 19-H). Read parts H1, H2, H3, and H4 thoroughly. Your answer is in there.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    If you win by picking the very last wall tile, is the score doubled twice?

    >On Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 11:37:18 AM PDT, <natcin wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >If you pick up the last tile of the game and declare mah jongg, is the score doubled because you picked the winning tile? And then doubled again because it was the last tile?
    >Thank you for your help and knowledge.
    >Natalie C

    It depends, Natalie! Which mah-jongg variant do you play? The American (NMJL) rules do not award double for the last wall tile.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Column 729

    >On Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 08:47:57 AM PDT, <lindaz... wrote:
    >column #729
    >Hi Tom,
    >I really appreciated your column #729--"When to Stop the Charleston". Your examples were excellent because there was no obvious direction to follow--just like in real life! I hope you'll present more of these problems for us in the future.
    >Thanks for all you do, Linda

    The cockles of my heart are warmed, Linda! I will make sure to do more Stopping columns!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    How old is this one?

    >On Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 04:58:37 AM PDT, Jakob wrote:
    >Mah Jongg Age
    >Hi Tom, I would first of all thank you for the great information on May Jongg that you provided for the community!
    >Would it be possible that you give me your impression about the age of a Man-Jongg game that I recently bought via Catawiki auctions?
    >I was quite surprised about the rather „new“ appearance of tiles and box of the game that was described to be from the first half of the last century (according to an expert of the seller from the 30’s or 40’s). The tiles have also a funny „chemical“ smell as if brand new or perhaps cleaned. According to some of your descriptions, I was doubting that the game is from the first half of the last century.
    >Speaking against that:
    >- It has Jokers, which would mean according to Column #311 that it is form the 60’s or later
    >- The wooden box appears to be very new. However it is most likely not the original (tiles don’t fit in very well, see picture).
    >- Newer style „crak“ character
    >- Wind indicators appear very new
    >Speaking for old:
    >- The game description seems to be old, but is not necessarily from these tiles.
    >The game is has 152 tiles (including with 4 Jokers and 4 additional white tiles).
    >It is made of bambus and most likely bone. Not sure about pulverized fishbone. A few (like the white in IMG_1368) have something that might be scratches or havarian system.
    >I found very surprising how extremely similar the engravings in similar tiles is. Are there machines that do the engravings?
    >Approx. size of the tiles (the ruler is in cm): 3.0 cm x 2.1 cm x 1.2 cm
    >Finally, although I know that it is very much personal taste: What would you think is the approximate value of this Man-Jongg game.
    >Best regards, Jakob von E
    >P.s. copyright: you may use the photos for your webpage.


    Hi, Jakob!
    Your primary question is about age. This particular type of set is hard to pinpoint. The set could be from anytime between the 1930s and 1960s. You were suspicious that the box and/or tiles might be of more recent manufacture (made to appear old). That's possible. Only you, though, have access to the box and can tell whether it's old or not. The smell might be from cleaning, or storage, or manufacture. The bone is not fishbone (you were right in pointing out Haversian system on one of the white dragons). It appears that the lid fits the box well (no warping). My experience with this type of box is that the lid is most often warped. Usually I've seen smaller tiles in this type of box, but your tiles are full size. So perhaps later manufacture during the 30s-60s range. Very hard to tell. Maybe you can find information about similar sets on other sites, linked to at the bottom of FAQ 4a.
    You also asked about value. But you did not provide me any condition information. You'll need to see FAQ 7h. But the age uncertainty is going to complicate that question.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    P.S. Your green dragons are upside down.


    It appears I can't explain scoring S&P well enough for my friends.

    >On Monday, October 14, 2019, 05:00:23 PM PDT, Robert and Le Ann C wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >I have friends who do not understand the pay out for singles and pairs. They need a simple explanation that the jokerless Man Jongg hand rules still apply. Double for picking your own and double only for the discarder of the winning tile. It appears I can not explained it thoroughly.
    >Thanks,
    >Le Ann C

    Hi, Le Ann!
    Maybe I explained it well enough in the Singles & Pairs section of FAQ 16? Or maybe they could just read the back of the card, at the lower left corner?

    S&P hands aren't doubled for jokerless (that's built into the score). May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Indigenous Peoples Day, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can a discarded redeemable tile be claimed for joker redemption?

    >On Monday, October 14, 2019, 02:07:30 PM PDT, Rebecca W wrote:
    >Re: Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom,
    >I have another question for you.
    >You have part of your hand exposed with a joker. Ex: 5 crack/joker/5crack. The player to the left of the exposed hand, misses the chance to exchange the joker for the 5 crack and discards a 5 crack. The player with the exposed hand is next to play. Can that player draw the discarded 5 crack from the discard pile to add to her exposed hand with the joker to make 3 5 cracks and then add the joker to her hand.
    > Clear as mud???
    >Thank you, Becky

    Hi, Becky!
    A discarded redeemable tile may be taken only for exposure or mah-jongg - not for the purposes of redeeming it for a joker. The redeemable tile is down, and down is dead. Read FAQ 19-G2.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Indigenous Peoples Day, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What if everybody wants to blind pass?

    >On Saturday, October 5, 2019, 01:12:49 PM PDT, Marianne L wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >What should you do if, on the first left of a Charleston, all 4 players want to steal. We had all 4 players wanting to steal 2 tiles so we were at a stalemate!

    Hi, Marianne!
    As far as I know, the League has never answered this question in writing in the past 20 years (that's how long I've been a member, collecting every newsletter and rulebook edition). I came up with what I think is a reasonable solution. FAQ 19-BS points to Column 534. If my solution doesn't satisfy you or your group, you can write to the League to get your answer in writing. If you show me something in writing from the League that shows I'm giving a wrong answer, I'll publish their ruling.
    And as long as you're reading stuff, please also read Column 353 about "stealing."
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 6, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Column 729

    >On Saturday, October 5, 2019, 06:46:34 AM PDT, Timothy A wrote:
    >Column #729
    >Hi Tom, I’m a bit behind in my reading and this morning I decided to try and catch up by checking out a couple of your more recent columns.
    >In column #729 #1, you say there are four passable tiles for the 2019 hand but I only see three, the pair of 5 Dot's and the 7 bam! Was that a typo on your behalf or has my coffee not kicked in yet? Of course I’m assuming that you will be playing the hand with just the 2 suits, as allowed, and not including the Red Dragon as your 4th tile to discard.
    >TimA

    Good morning, Tim. You wrote:

    In column #729 #1, you say there are four passable tiles for the 2019 hand but I only see three, the pair of 5 Dot's and the 7 bam!
    You are absolutely right. There are only three. Good eye! But as I reread that one again now, I also see that the other hand is not Addition #1 but Addition #2!

    Of course I’m assuming that you will be playing the hand with just the 2 suits, as allowed, and not including the Red Dragon as your 4th tile to discard.
    Stop looking for a 4th passer. Note that I also wrote "To pursue the 2019 hand, you'd have to pass a pair." That says right there that I'm only passing three (even though I wrote "four").

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 5, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can I call a discarded redeemable tile for the purpose of redeeming a joker with it?

    >On Friday, October 4, 2019, 11:59:29 AM PDT, stuart m wrote:
    >Question for Mau Jongg
    >Hi
    >I tried to find the answer to my question but I didn’t.
    >A player has exposed three, 9dots and a joker. The player to the left discards a nine dot. Can the player with the exposure, who is next in line to play, pick up the tile, replace the joker and call Mau Jongg. I’m thinking no but need to ask.
    >Norma

    Hi, Norma!
    That's FAQ 19-G2.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    October 4, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Donation!

    >On Monday, September 30, 2019, 03:31:35 PM PDT, service@paypal.com wrote:
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers - Donation from Pamela S
    >Hello Thomas Sloper ,
    >This email confirms that you have received a donation of$5.00 USD from Pamela S
    >Total amount: $5.00 USD
    >Reference: MJ@Sloperama
    >Purpose: Sloperama Mah-Jongg Answers
    >Contributor: Pamela Steuart
    >Sincerely,
    >PayPal

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


    Conflicting claim

    >On Saturday, September 28, 2019, 07:34:37 PM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello again
    >Hi Tom: I think maybe adding a category or two might work. I know I searched "Mah Jongg in Error" and got nothing. I think I did search just "Error" but there were so many places to read I probably missed what I was looking for. Let me know if you do decide to add another category.
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    >On Saturday, September 28, 2019, 08:11:01 PM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello again
    >So I read the Answer where if two players call the same tile and one wants for Exposure and one for Mah Jongg, obviously Mah Jongg wins out however, what if Player A calls the Tiles, picks it up and exposes it along with the other Tiles and after the fact Player B says, "Opps that was my Mah Jongg Tile." You have to make Player A put the Tile back and let Player B have the Mah Jongg even though they were not paying attention??
    >Thanks!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Good morning, Debbie. You wrote:

    what if Player A calls the Tiles, picks it up and exposes it along with the other Tiles and after the fact Player B says, "Opps that was my Mah Jongg Tile."
    All the "conflicting claim" questions are answered in FAQ 19-H. It's a multi-part answer because there are many ways "conflicting claim" comes up. Yesterday I pointed you to FAQ 19-H4. Please read the entire contents of FAQ 19-H. This question is answered in FAQ 19-H3 (directly above yesterday's answer). Once a player has exposed tiles, it's too late for another player to claim the same discard. Period. Look also at the NMJL's FAQs for 2019 (see #2 and #3). #2 covers both players wanting the discard for exposure; #3 covers both wanting it for mahj. The NMJL's language is very clear. And the overweening principle is clear, too - actions overpower words. When one player takes action before another player speaks, the action holds sway.

    if two players call the same tile and one wants for Exposure and one for Mah Jongg, obviously Mah Jongg wins out ... You have to make Player A put the Tile back and let Player B have the Mah Jongg even though they were not paying attention??
    Some rules trump other rules. In this case, (as I've answered others who posited the same question below,) there is such a thing as too late. Too late is too late. Player B should stifle her impulse to speak, once her chance is past. She goofed BIG TIME when she didn't grab that discard when she had the chance. Maybe she can still win, but whether she can or not, perhaps she'll pay closer attention going forward.
    As always, if my answers don't satisfy, you can always write to the League to get your answer in writing. If you show me something in writing from the League that shows I'm giving a wrong answer in FAQ 19, I'll fix it in the FAQs.

    Let me know if you do decide to add another category.
    I was hoping for more help as to category titles that would have helped you find answers. Maybe a category for "errors" would have helped you find yesterday's answer?

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 29, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Erroneous mah-jongg on a discard - can I have that tile now? Is it up for grabs?

    >On Saturday, September 28, 2019, 08:28:23 AM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello
    >Hello Mr. T: Could not find the answer to this question or the rule:
    >I need a quick answer to this: Player A calls a tile for mah jongg, but it is mahjongg in error. Player B wants the same tile for mah jongg. Is that tile dead in the erroneous hand, or can the other player take it?
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Hi, Debbie!
    That's answered in FAQ 19. As an experiment, let me see if I can find it in the FAQ and describe for you and everybody how to find that in FAQ 19. I realize it's hard to find answers in there; hoping to improve that.
    On the FAQ 19 page, I do a search for the phrase "jongg in error"* or "in error" - nope, nothing. But if you use just "error" for your search, there are 20 instances of its use. By arrowing down through them one by one, you will come upon FAQ 19-H4. This answer is contained within the question "what happens when two people both want the same tile," or "conflicting claim." And that's a subsection of "Claiming a Discard, and the Window of Opportunity." Because this is a thing that follows after two people want the same tile.
    So that's how I found that answer just now. What do you think, what other categories should I list that under? It's about "Win By Discard," and it's also about "Erroneous Mah-Jongg" - it's also about "She's Dead, Now What?" Should I add a category, or two? I can show multiple pointers to the question.
    By the way, I got that answer from the 2005 and 2011 newsletters from the League.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 28, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    * Some of us might type the word as "mahjongg" and some "mah-jongg" so I just search for the "jongg" part.


    Hi, it's me, Tom Sloper. I'll be teaching 1920s-style mah-jongg to all comers at Ticket To The Twenties, first weekend of October!

    Learn about mah-jongg's origins and myths while playing an easy-to learn version of the classic game!
    Tom


    Accrediting mah-jongg associations

    >On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, 12:31:59 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >Mahjong Associations
    >Hi Tom,
    >I know Mahjong Associations in Europa must be EMA accredited. But Do Non-European Associations need to get accredited somewhere internationally? What about mindmahjong.com? Is it an authorising body for accredited associations? If yes, how to apply?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima

    Nima, you're asking me about things way above my level. I don't aspire to host tournaments or form mah-jongg organizations. I'm just a player and writer. European mah-jongg clubs don't have to be accredited unless they want to host or organize events to attract international players and for their results to be recognized for the ranking of players. You would only need to be accredited if you want to be an EMA member organization and if you want to host Mahjong Europea Ranking System tournaments for international-standard ranking of players in your tournaments. And if that's what you want to do, I cannot advise you!
    So within the past week or two, we've established some limits to the information I can provide here:
    - I'm not an expert on mah-jongg set manufacturers;
    - I can't tell people about mah-jongg probabilities or odds or statistics;
    - And I can't help with organization accreditation questions.
    I'm sure there are a lot more questions about mah-jongg that I simply can't answer. Sorry I can't help much with your questions today - you need to find and contact others, and I can't even tell you who!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 24, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    MCR, part 5

    >On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, 03:51:17 AM PDT, heaton.ray wrote:
    >MCR scoring by Nima's app.
    >Hi Tom,
    >I would challenge the scoring shown by Nima's app using the "prohibition against identical patterns" rule, and score the hand at 45 points...indeed to check, I put the hand through a different app that identified the lower score.
    >But my MCR scoring is a bit rusty, so I could well be wrong!
    >Regards
    >Ray

    Good morning, Ray. That principle says "Once you've used a set to form a particular 2- or 3-set pattern, you can't use the same set to form an identical pattern with another set." The screen shot from Nima's app shows that chows B and D are used twice to make Pure shifted chows, once with chow A and again with chow C. So I'm with you. (I was trying to encourage Nima/Joe to learn how to fish on his/her own.)* May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 24, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    * Added Sept. 26


    MCR, part 4

    >On Sunday, September 22, 2019, 06:20:39 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >MCR Scoring points
    >Hi,
    >Is it possible to count Pure Shifted Chows twice like this image?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima

    Good morning, Joe.
    Please take a look at FAQ 22. And please reference what's written in the FAQ as regards to your screenshot. Consider that you can score any combinations you want, so long as you don't include scores that are implied or identical or repetitive... Do you think your app has violated one of the prohibitions listed in the FAQ, and if so, which one(s)?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 22, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    She made an erroneous exposure, and then...

    >On Saturday, September 21, 2019, 05:20:34 PM PDT, Patricia C wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player across from me - out of turn called and picked a thrown tile (I had discarded it) - then she racked -
    >Two 5 Cracks, a Joker and the picked tile a 5 Dot. Opponent on her left (who should have gotten to pick the next tile) called her on having racked a wrong tile. Said player put the tile back in the middle and the player on her right claimed the next tile .. this action did not allow the player on my right her turn to pick.
    >This player noted that she gets the next tile because she would have been next if the wrong player hadn't made mistake.
    >(It happened to be the very last tile - which may or may not give player to right of me a MJ.).
    >Discussion went back and forth each saying they were right.
    >What is the correct answer?
    >Who officially had the right to tile?
    >I hope this is understandably written.
    >Patricia.

    >On Saturday, September 21, 2019, 05:37:59 PM PDT, Patricia C wrote:
    >Need Answer to a MJongg Question
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player across from me (out of turn) ‘called’ and picked a discarded tile
    >(which I had discarded) - then she racked it with - Two 5 Cracks, a Joker and (the picked tile) a 5 Dot.
    >The opponent on her left (who should have gotten to pick the next tile) ‘called her’ on having racked a wrong tile.
    >Wrong player put the tile back in the middle - Then the ‘other’ player on her right claimed the next tile.
    >.. This action did not allow the player on her left - (who lost her turn to pick because of the wrong pick) - to have her chance to pick.
    >Player on wrong players Left noted that ‘she’ gets the next tile because she would have been next if the player hadn't chosen wrong. (It happened to be the very last tile - which may or may not have given player to left of wrong player to call a MJ.).
    >Discussion went back and forth each saying they were right. What is the correct answer? Who officially had the right to that tile?
    >I hope this is understandably written.
    >Patricia.

    Hi, Patricia! You wrote:

    player across from me ... called and picked a ... tile (I had discarded ... then she racked
    I use the words "pick" and "rack" differently than you do, but from context I can tell that your opposite called your discard and formed an exposure atop her rack...

    Two 5 Cracks, a Joker and (the picked tile) a 5 Dot.
    She made an erroneous exposure. Understood.

    The opponent on her left (who should have gotten to pick the next tile) ‘called her’ on having racked a wrong tile.
    >Wrong player put the tile back in the middle
    She's not permitted to do that. She is allowed to correct the exposure, if she's able (she can replace the two 5Cs with two 5Ds, if she has them - or to use jokers to complete the exposure). If she cannot correct the exposure, she is dead.

    the player on her right claimed the next tile
    I don't know if "the next tile" was a pick from the wall, or the erroneously put-back discard. But either way, the game is completely screwed up at this point. An error has been made, and everything that happens from this point is moot.

    Who officially had the right to that tile?
    I can't answer this question. It's not clear which tile we're talking about. The tile that your opposite claimed and then returned to the table? Or the next tile from the wall? But as I said above, it's moot.

    Here's what should have happened:
    (1) After your opposite made the erroneous exposure, if she could not correct the exposure (a pung or kong of the called tile, your 5D) she should have been called dead.
    (2) Dead with an erroneous exposure atop her rack, your opposite should have returned the entire bad exposure to the sloping front of her rack. Read FAQ 19-CK.
    (3) If that tile was the last tile on the wall, the game is over. But if the last tile on the wall is the next player's pick, the player next in line after your opposite may pick it. Your opposite made a play, skipping the turn of the player at your right. So the player at your left plays after your opposite made her fatal play.

    If you have a follow-up question, you can email me again.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 21, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Playing with Maribelle

    >On Friday, September 20, 2019, 03:13:46 PM PDT, Hannah B wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When playing with Maribelle do you you a 4th wall.
    >Thanks
    >Hannah

    Hi, Hannah!
    I assume "Maribelle" is your group's fanciful name for an empty seat in a three-player game? You ALWAYS build 4 walls. Read FAQ 13A for the straight scoop on playing with fewer than (or more than) 4 players, no matter what their names are. (Personally, I'd name that seat "Casper" or "Topper.")
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

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


    Who gets the discard, part 2

    >On Thursday, September 19, 2019, 05:04:01 PM PDT, Donna E wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >Hi Tom, 
    >In one of your recent answers called ‘Who gets the discard’ I believe you said it is illegal to put the called discard in your rack. According to this letter it is permitted by NMJL rules. Also, as far as I know there is nowhere in their rules or the Bulletin that has changed this. If it has been changed, please let me know. I know the rule is different in tournament situations. 
    >Thank you,
    >Donna E

    Arrr, ye landlubber!
    (Boy! Why does this "talk like a pirate day" have to coincide with a day when I get so many mah-jongg questions!?)

    I have added words to my response to Karen yesterday (please scroll down and see). Please understand: I can only respond to information I'm given. When I'm given incomplete or ambiguous information, I have to make assumptions. And you know what happens when assumptions are made: the word "assume" makes an "ass" of "u" and "me."

    Look at what Karen wrote: "Player to the left grabbed the flower and racked it."
    She did not say that the player made an exposure. The word "racked" usually means "placed on the sloping front of the rack, among one's concealed tiles." Karen never said she put the tile in the rack in the process of grabbing other tiles, and she never said any tiles were put atop the horizontal surface of the rack. So - I did not assume that Karen's player made an exposure. Karen's words made it sound like the player took the discard and placed it in among her concealed tiles, and left it there. And that's what I responded to. I always strive to write with precision and unambiguous terminology, even if the emails I receive are not written that way.

    The letter from the League describes an entirely different situation.
    Have a nice rest of "Talk Like A Pirate Day," and ... May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Talk Like A Pirate Day - 9/19/19
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    An article from the AMJA's newsletter a couple decades ago

    >On Thursday, September 19, 2019, 12:37:15 PM PDT, Marie R wrote:
    >5. ... oh, the heck with numbered items!
    >Hi Tom,
    >I’m unable to find the article referenced on this page:
    >http://www.sloperama.com/mjfaq/mjfaq09.html
    >“Here's part of an article I wrote in the newsletter of the AMJA some time back:”
    >Would you share it? I’m teaching a course in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Rhode Island.
    >Thank you in advance!
    >Best,
    >Marie

    Arrrr! Avast, Marie!
    Ye be thinkin' there's more to that article than Philosophies 0-9, I s'pose. I doubt the rest of that article is of much interest to the Lifelong Learning Institute. Probably just had an introductory sentence and a closing sentence beyond those philosophies I shared in FAQ 9. I looked on my hard drive, and I don't have them old articles there. I also looked in the downlode/mahjongg/ folder and didn't find them thar articles in thar neither, Matey! They're probably on an old CD somewhere, but it could take hours to find that old article that I already mostly shared in FAQ 9. So. Can't help you. Now walk the plank! Arrrr!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    International Talk Like A Pirate Day, 9/19/19
    Los Angeles, California, USA

    P.S. You could try asking the AMJA if they still have those old newsletters with my series of articles. Good luck with that! - Tom
    9/20/19 (Thank goodness Talk Like A Pirate Day is over!)


    A marvelous dispute

    >On Thursday, September 19, 2019, 05:20:39 AM PDT, Kathleen D wrote:
    >Marvelous Mahjong
    >Hi I have a question about 2019 card
    >Under straight talk
    >The hand
    >MJ 111 222 fff 666
    >Explanation says any interrupted run
    >I said Mahjong with the following hand
    >MJ 111 222 fff 999
    >I was told I was dead because the the interruption was wrong
    >Can you tell me what you think?
    >Kathleen
    >I find joy in your happiness

    Hi, Kathleen! No, wait. I mean, "Ahoy there, Matey!"
    I don't keep up with the alternative cards, and I don't have the current Marvelous card. But if the example on the card shows 1-2-6 and says "any interrupted run," I don't see why 1-2-9 would be incorrect. 1-2-E would clearly be incorrect, but 9 is a number higher than 2, so I don't know why your three opponents agreed that you should walk the plank. The true arbiter of your group's dispute would be the owner of the MMJ website. You ought to be able to contact her and ask. Or maybe the answer to your dispute is in the fine print on the card somewhere.
    I also don't know what your hand's "MJ" is. I suppose J is Joker, but what is M? Is it 8B, which usually looks like a W over an M? Or is it W, turned upside down? Shiver me timbers but 'tis a naughty nautical mystery! Arrrr, where's me flagon?
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Thursday, 9-19-19
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Who gets the discard?

    >On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 09:46:32 AM PDT, kareng1 wrote:
    >Question on discarded tile
    >A player threw a flower. Player to the left grabbed the flower and racked it. Then I said I needed the discarded joker tile. I was the player to the right of discarder. I thought if two players want the same discard, the player to the right gets the discard. Another player said that player to the left gets the discard because she already racked the flower and i didn't say anything until after she racked. Who gets the discarded flower tile?
    >Thanks,
    >Karen
    >Cherry Hill, NJ

    Hi, Karen! You wrote:

    Player to the left grabbed the flower and racked it.
    That's confusing. You mean she called it for exposure, and put up other flowers for a pung or kong? It's illegal to take a discard and rack it among one's concealed tiles and leave it there.
    (Red text added next day in response to Donna E's 9/19/19 email, above)

    Then I said I needed the discarded joker tile.
    I'm confused. You can never call for a discarded joker. If you meant you said you needed that discarded flower which the other player had already "racked," then you were too late.

    Who gets the discarded flower tile?
    If the other player had already made an exposure, your claim was too late. Read FAQ 19-H.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 18, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    She's dead. Is that joker available for redemption? (FAQ 19-P)

    >On Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 11:47:21 AM PDT, Jaclyn L wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >Someone called in a 3 dot for exposure using a joker, then declared Mah Jongg, in error. Is the joker available to be exchanged?

    Hi, Jaclyn!
    That joker is not only not redeemable, it's going back on the sloping front of her rack! Read FAQ 19-P.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 17, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    MahjongNews, part 2

    >On Tuesday, September 17, 2019, 12:10:28 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >Re: Mahjongnews
    >Hi,
    >Since mahjongnews is no longer active, what about I register a domain name and I maintain it technically and you experts contribute to it? Any sense and interests? Any volunteers? Interested experts and volunteers to collaborate may contact me at:
    >joe.hark2 AT gmail DOT com
    >Thank you,
    >Nima


    How to make a quint without a joker?

    >On Monday, September 16, 2019, 07:20:49 AM PDT, Becky H wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: I don't understand how to make a quint without a joker. Could you explain? I'm a novice and read many FAQs but not all, so may have missed my answer for which I apologize. Thanks for your amazing knowledge of the game. Beck

    Hi, Beck! You said:

    I don't understand how to make a quint without a joker.
    You can't.

    Standing by for the follow-up question! (I'm pretty sure you'll have a follow-up question.) May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    MahjongNews

    >On Monday, September 16, 2019, 01:30:17 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >Mahjongnews
    >Hello,
    >Who is the owner of mahjongnews and how to contact them as their website is inactive?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima

    Two years ago, I met Nicole Haasbroek (I might have the last name misspelled) at a Japanese mahjong event in Las Vegas. She took over mahjongnews about that time, and took it offline shortly thereafter. I do not have her contact information. You can try social media.
    Good luck! May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Brouhaha on social media

    >On Sunday, September 15, 2019, 11:21:38 AM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello
    >Hi Tom: So today a big debate went on in a social media group. The debate was how to properly name a 1 Bam and Dragons. Responses to the 1 Bam were as follows: 1 Birdie Bam, 1 Damn Bird, 1 Bam Bird, 1 Bird Bam, 1 Bird and probably others. For the Dragons the debate was with the White Dragon and whether it should be called a White Dragon, White or Soap. With the Red and Green Dragons, whether you can just say Red or Green or do you have to name it Red Dragon and Green Dragon.
    >Folks get a bit annoyed and testy when they give their opinions and many said "who cares how I name it as long as no one cares" or "even if they care, I can name it as I wish."
    >Then another teacher contacted me privately and made a good point that I wanted to run by you and get your opinion on. If in a game someone allows the players' to call a 1 Bam a 1 "Bird Bam" and they say 1 Bird and then realize they can do a Joker Exchange, they can say they didn't fully name the Tile. The same applies to Red Dragon. If a Red Dragon is named "Red Dragon," one could say Red and then say, oops I want to Exchange a Joker. In both of these cases claiming the Tile was not fully named.
    >I love your take on this Tom. Many thanks!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Good morning, Debbie! You wrote:

    a big debate went on in a social media group.
    I presume that's the "Mah Jongg That's It" Facebook group. I suppose there may be another, but that's "it," as far as I'm concerned.

    Folks get a bit annoyed and testy when they give their opinions and many said "who cares how I name it as long as no one cares" or "even if they care, I can name it as I wish."
    I name a tile in a way that I know the other players will understand. But yes, some players get their panties all up in a bunch at the drop of a hat! To mix metaphors.

    If I'm playing with easily-riled players, I say tile names the way they do. But mah-jongg players are supposed to be fun people!

    If a Red Dragon is named "Red Dragon," one could say Red and then say, oops I want to Exchange a Joker. In both of these cases claiming the Tile was not fully named.
    That's an argument that won't fly. Everybody knows what tile you're naming if you say "Red." Down is down.

    It's customary to say as few syllables as possible, so that the game moves quickly. The only three-syllable tile names are the sevens.

    To throw some bacon grease into the fire, what about Soap? What if I name it White, or Zero? I had a player once who missed calling the tile because she was listening for "soap," and didn't look at the discard. And I've had players write me crying foul if someone names it "Zero" but they don't need a zero, they need a white dragon. Sheesh! Same thing! The real problem is players who only listen and don't look at each discard.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 16, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Seat rotation

    >On Sunday, September 15, 2019, 05:42:20 AM PDT, Bernice L wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >When 4 people are playing is it a Mah Jongg rule for east to move to her right after each round therefore changing the seating and passing. Our game usually plays 5 but when we play 4 do we change seats?
    >Thank you,
    >Bernice

    Hi, Bernice!
    Is it a rule? Good question. I think it's an optional procedure. The wording atop page 25 (of the official rulebook; the paragraph titled "Four-Handed Mah Jongg") begins, "To change the passing and picking..." That makes it sound optional to me.
    Many players are unaware of seat rotation, even though it's often frustrating to be at the mercy of the annoying habits of the player at your left, or that opposite player who never wants to exchange three in the Courtesy pass. Seat rotation lets you have a different person at your left "feeding" you during play, as well as a different person in the opposite seat after a round of play. I like rotation personally, but sometimes if you have a player for whom standing up and walking are a challenge, there can be resistance to "constantly" switching seats. When rotation is done properly, the dealer rotates with her neighbor about every hour. In a four-hour play session, then, the dealer can sit at every position around the table.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 15, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Gambling points conversion

    >On Sunday, September 15, 2019, 12:45:55 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >MCR scoring
    >Hello,
    >I am curious to know how gamblers convert Zung Jung and HK points to money?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima
    >PS. Thanks for giving WSJ link about Mahjong but it seems it requires payment to show the article and I am not going to do.

    I'm afraid I can't help you with any of that, Nima. Sorry!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 15, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    MCR, part 3

    >On Saturday, September 14, 2019, 10:58:58 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >MCR w chips
    >Hello,
    >On p. 176 of your book, you suggest 30 of 1-point chip for each player assuming the set is 4-colored. As no set has 120 of a chip, could you suggest another chip dividing for a 5-colored chips set, not exceeding 100 for one color?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima

    >On Saturday, September 14, 2019, 10:28:01 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >Re: MCR scoring
    >Hello,
    >How popular is zung jung vs. MCR and other variants?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima

    Hi, Nima! You asked:

    As no set has 120 of a chip,
    Silly me. I guess I assumed people would determine their own counts based on what chips they had, or buy sets of chips separately, since many sets come without any, and there's commonly a disparity in amounts of chips included in sets. At tournaments, score is kept on paper.

    could you suggest another chip dividing for a 5-colored chips set, not exceeding 100 for one color?
    Good idea! First we need to know how many points each player should hold. Page 175 says 500 points. With values of 100, 50, 10, and 1, we probably need more low-point chips - 5.

    By the way, have you downloaded the errata for the book? Since the book's release, some rule clarifications and some errors have become known. They're all collected in the errata. I recommend keeping a copy next to your book.

    How popular is zung jung vs. MCR
    All I can tell you is that Zung Jung (or a variant of it) is played in Macau for big bucks gambling. And Majiang Competition Rules is played internationally for ranked competition. So ZJ is played by gamblers, and MCR is played for enjoyable competition. Hard to know which group is larger (perhaps the gamblers).

    and other variants?
    All I know is what I wrote in FAQ 23.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 14, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    MCR scoring (MCR, part 2)

    >On Saturday, September 14, 2019, 04:31:12 AM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >Re: MCR scoring
    >Hello,
    >How are the best ways to practice and memorize the MCR scoring?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima

    Well, I suppose the best way would be to have a group of live people to play with every week. Other good ways include playing with that app you're using, and other programs (see FAQ 5). You could begin by memorizing the 6-point fan, 1-point fan, 2-point fan, and 8-point fan (before trying to memorize all the higher-scoring fan). May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 14, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is my app lying to me? (MCR, part 1)

    >On Friday, September 13, 2019, 10:50:47 PM PDT, Nima S wrote:
    >MCR scoring
    >Hello,
    >In MCR scoring, is it possible to count Concealed Kong if counting Two Concealed Pungs as we see in this screenshot?
    >Thanks,
    >Nima

    Hi, Nima!
    I assume you are questioning the accuracy of the app's scoring. This hand includes a concealed pung and a concealed kong. There is no "one concealed pung and one concealed kong" scoring pattern. Does that mean you are not allowed to claim the 2 points for Two Concealed Pungs? How would that be fair? A kong is nothing more than a glorified/fancy pung (a pung with an extra tile). So when you have a concealed pung and a concealed kong, you may count them as Two Concealed Pungs. But where'd the glory go? You have a concealed kong, which lets you have 2 more points.
    Your app is not lying to you.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 14, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What's the luck ratio in mah-jongg?

    >On Friday, September 13, 2019, 08:19:27 AM PDT, Sandy wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is: someone said that Mah Jongg is 70% luck. Is that true? Thank you.
    >Sandy D

    Hi, Sandy!
    I have no idea how to determine how much is luck and how much is skill. A friend of mine, who plays Go, prefers games where it's 0% luck and 100% skill - that's easy to determine (there is no random element at all). But there are random elements in mah-jongg (the order of tiles in the wall, which hands players are going for, the dice roll). Is mah-jongg 70% luck and 30% skill, like "someone" said? Or is it 50% luck and 50% skill? What about different variants? There's a higher luck ratio in Japanese mah-jongg than in American mah-jongg, by design (Japanese rules add more random elements to increase the payments). But what's the ratio in any mah-jongg variant? How would you even measure such a question?
    All I can tell you is: the more experienced/skilled player will win more often than less experienced players, but even the most highly skilled players are subject to the vagaries of chance.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

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


    How does payment work for bettors? (FAQ 19-W4)

    >On Thursday, September 12, 2019, 08:08:16 AM PDT, Wendy L wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >A player calls Mahjongg and she wins with a tile discarded. The person who discarded the tile pays double. If the bettor did not bet on the winner does she pay double? Or just the regular 25 cents?
    >Sent from my iPhone

    Hi, Wendy!
    You left out an important piece of information: who did the bettor bet on? The bettor pays or collects same as the bet-upon. Read FAQ 19-W4. A lot of people have questions about the card, and a lot of people have questions about the rules. I've written answers to all those questions. For questions about the 2018 card, read FAQ 16. For questions about the rules, see FAQ 19. For your future reference, you can link to the FAQs above left. Why not bookmark them both!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

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


    Consec #7 (FAQ 16)

    >On Thursday, September 12, 2019, 01:38:41 PM PDT, Bee D wrote:
    >Question about closed hand in consecutive run
    >At our game today the question came up about the closed hand in the consecutive run on the 2019 card. The instruction states Any 3 consecutive numbers, pungs match pair. The example is:
    >111 22 333 222 222
    >My hand was:
    >11 222 333 111 111
    >The majority thought that the pair had to be the middle number. Is that the case or can the pair be any number in the string of 3 consecutive numbers?
    >Thank you for you assistance

    Hi, Bee!
    Your question has been asked and answered in FAQ 16. "The pair must be the middle number. The like pungs must match the middle number." A lot of people have questions about the card, and a lot of people ask me questions about the rules. I've written answers to all those questions. For questions about the card (your question is in there), see FAQ 16. For questions about the rules, see FAQ 19. For your future reference, you can link to the FAQs above left. Why not bookmark them both!
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    トム·スローパー
    湯姆 斯洛珀

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


    He redeemed a joker after calling a discard.

    >On Monday, September 9, 2019, 12:23:00 PM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello
    >OK, hopefully this question was not answered but if it is you can direct me to the right place I'm sure.
    >Player calls a Tile for an Exposure and puts up a Tile. Then he does a Joker Exchange and find he has Mah Jongg. It seems you'd have to call a Tile and then Discard. Do your Joker Exchange and you'd still be short one Tile for Mah Jongg. You cannot Call a Tile, do a Joker Exchange and call Mah Jongg...correct or not? Isn't this where the "new action" thing takes place?
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Hi, Debbie! You wrote:

    Player calls a Tile for an Exposure and puts up a Tile. Then he does a Joker Exchange ... It seems you'd have to call a Tile and then Discard.
    He called a discard and then redeemed? That's an illegal play. After calling a tile, the player must expose the grouping (pung, kong, or quint) completed by the called discard. Only after making an exposure is the player permitted to redeem a joker. See FAQ 19-M for the proper order of things. You can't call a discard and then redeem before completing the exposure.

    You cannot Call a Tile, [make a proper exposure,]do a Joker Exchange and call Mah Jongg...correct or not?
    That's a classic play that some people call "finessing;" as long as the player is holding 14 tiles, a joker may be redeemed. See rule 4 at the top of page 21 of the rulebook (2018 edition). Please check the rulebook before emailing.

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

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    September 10, 2019


    One of our players had all 8 jokers

    >On Monday, September 9, 2019, 04:03:49 PM PDT, Mary wrote:
    >All 8 jokers?
    >Any special rules or scoring when all 8 jokers are used for mah Jong? Any idea what the odds of this occurring are? It happened today. We scored normally but just thought it was something special.
    >Thanks

    Hi, Mary! You wrote:

    Any special rules or scoring when all 8 jokers are used for mah Jong?
    No.

    Any idea what the odds of this occurring are?
    No, but FAQ 19-CI lists some good books on probability and combinatorics if you want to try to calculate them.

    It happened today.
    Wow. That's the first time anyone told me they'd seen that happen. Cool!

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

    Creator of the weekly Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated!
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    August 10, 2019


    Looking for old Shanghai game

    >On Saturday, September 7, 2019, 09:27:50 PM PDT, john C wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:hi wondering if u could help me find a mahjong game i think from the 90’s my mother who passed away had a computer game mahjong with old science fiction movie clips ,my wife and i can’t find it it was on a cd disk,had old scifi stuff robots, man in the moon from the 50s and back when u matched the video and sound effects would pop up appreciate any help if possible loved that game and reminds me of my mom. thanks john

    john, all I can do is tell you the title of the game you're seeking. I can't help you find a copy and I can't help you make it work. The title is Shanghai: Great Moments. It ran on Windows 3.1 (blue box) or Windows 95 (white box)

    So you need more than the game CD itself. You need a computer that runs an old operating system, if you want to play that old computer game. Much simpler to just get a modern tile-matching game for your mobile phone or PC. FAQ 12 has links to tile-matching games, but I suppose a lot of the links have died. I play "Microsoft Mahjong" (which is not really mah-jongg, as explained in FAQ 12) when I want to match tiles.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 8, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What if somebody plays out of turn, part 4

    >On Friday, September 6, 2019, 08:35:57 AM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Re: Hello
    >OOPS sorry for missing that!!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    May the tiles be with you, Debbie.


    What if somebody plays out of turn, part 3

    >On Friday, September 6, 2019, 07:26:48 AM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Re: Hello
    >Hello! Just wanted to be sure you saw my additional question. Thanks

    I did. I posted my response last night (below). I reply by email only one time (as I wrote in my initial reply email to you). Repeat posters are expected to simply return to the board to find answers. If you don't see your new answer, then you need to "refresh" or "reload" the page to see the most recent posts.


    What if somebody plays out of turn, part 2

    >On Thursday, September 5, 2019, 08:34:22 PM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Re: Hello
    >Hi Tom and thank you for getting back to me. So, I understand no one has asked this before and I appreciate your adding this FAQ entry. I read the the further reading areas and see that you have this written: Playing Out of Turn, Picking From Wrong End - Picking ahead is technically playing out of turn. (Just sayin'.) In tournaments, these rule violations are immediately punishable. In home games, beginner players might sometimes be let off with friendly warnings one or two times. So my question is...is this an official rule according to NMJL? You state it is if in tournaments this rule is adhered to but often tournaments have their own rules. Maybe I missed it somewhere??!!?? Thanks!
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Hi, Debbie! You wrote:

    is this an official rule according to NMJL? You state it is if in tournaments this rule is adhered to but often tournaments have their own rules.
    In general, tournament rules are stricter than the way a lot of people play in their homes. Playing Out of Turn is always a fatal error. In a tournament, if you call a judge over and ask the judge, "this player played out of turn. Isn't she dead?" most of the time the judge will not give her a break. Players at tournaments are supposed to avoid the sort of things that can get you called dead. Or let's say you ask the judge, "she Picked From the Wrong End of the wall. Isn't she dead?" Most tournament judges would surely agree that's a fatal error.

    In a home game with a novice player you're trying to train so she will play in your regular game, some players might go easy the first time a novice makes a fatal error. That doesn't happen in a tournament. Maybe I should rewrite that line in the FAQ?.

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 5, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    What if somebody plays out of turn?

    >On Thursday, September 5, 2019, 01:38:43 PM PDT, Debbie B wrote:
    >Hello
    >I scoured your website but could not find the rule on "What if a Player Picks out of Turn?" If you can direct me I'd appreciate it! Thank you.
    >Happy Mahjongging!
    >Debbie the Mahj Teacher

    Hi, Debbie! I don't remember anybody asking me this before, so there isn't* an entry in FAQ 19 asking what you asked. But it is mentioned in FAQ 19-AA as one of the things that can cause a player to go dead. You'll find it mentioned similarly on page 20 of the official rulebook - rule 19(e). *Actually, now I've added your question; it's FAQ 19-CP.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 5, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Is win by joker redemption considered self-pick?

    >On Wednesday, September 4, 2019, 09:02:29 PM PDT, Jackies wrote:
    >Mah Jongg declaration
    >I had exposed tiles that I needed for my hand. Then I called in a 9 crak to complete a Kong and I then replaced a joker on another player’s rack for a joker. That completed my ping of 6 beams for Mah Jongg. Did I pick my own tile?
    >JDL

    Hi, Jackies! Yes. Win by joker redemption is considered self-pick. Please read FAQ 19-AN. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 4, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I want to figure it out, part 2

    >On Wednesday, September 4, 2019, 12:48:18 PM PDT, Clair B wrote:
    >Mah jong set ?
    >WOW you are ON IT! That is amazing.
    >Thanks, I just wondered what kind of set this is with the all green Royal Jokers and this type of dragons...I wondered when it was made and what it is called since everyone seems to know what their set is called and I have little to no idea...
    >Much oblige.
    >Clair B

    Hi, Clair. Your questions:

    I just wondered what kind of set this is
    It's an American set, but I suppose you already knew that.

    I wondered when it was made
    I don't know. I see that it has 16 flowers and 10 jokers. It appears that some of your flowers are either discolored or were originally from another set (their color is darker than the others). And your two blanks look like a different color. So I do not know if this set originally came with 16 flowers and 10 jokers. My sets with that type of joker don't have that many jokers. If you look at the F/J table in column 509, you'll see that the National Mah Jongg League never required 16 flowers and 10 jokers. Manufacturers couldn't rely on the League sticking with a reliable number of flowers and jokers, so the manufacturer may have made more than were required by the card that year. My guess is "late sixties." That's as close as I can get. If your four dark flowers are from another set, the set might have been made between 1962 and 1966 (when 12 flowers were required).

    and what it is called since everyone seems to know what their set is called
    You're asking for a set name, and as I said earlier, I don't know that stuff. Try the links in FAQ 4A like I said earlier.
    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 4, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    I want to figure it out

    >On Wednesday, September 4, 2019, 08:29:31 AM PDT, Clair B wrote:
    >Mah jong set ?
    >Tom
    >While I think this is a butterscotch Bakelite Royal Depth Control set made by A & L in NY I can not find a set any where online that has this joker and dragon combo and I want to figure it out. Bought at garage sale and now what I use.
    >10 jokers. 16 flowers. 2 blank.
    >I read Royal jokers were always Bakelite but am not sure. Any help would be appreciated and hope you’ll let me know when you put the answer online?
    >Huge thanks.
    >Clair B

    Hi, Clair. I'm sorry, but I am not an expert on manufacturers and their sets. And I can't figure out what questions you want answered. Check the links of "Other Excellent Mah-Jongg Sites" in FAQ 4A to find information about sets and manufacturers. And of course (as the boilerplate above says) the first time someone asks a question here, I always send a reply email to let you know that you should come back and see your answer. May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 4, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    Can she correct her exposure error?

    >On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, 03:03:02 PM PDT, Toni G wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:
    >2 bam discarded.
    >Players says take and first exposes 2 cracks from her hand before picking up the 2 bam discard.
    >Player realizes she made a mistake.
    >My feeling is that she should pick up the 2 bam discard, make an exposure if she can, return the 2 cracks to her hand, then discard.
    >Is this correct?
    >Toni G

    I agree with your feeling, Toni!
    I believe FAQ 19-AF covers this. The source is page 14 of the official rulebook, where it says "A player may add to or take away from the exposure during this turn, as long as player has not discarded." I interpret this as saying that your feeling is correct.
    May the tiles be with you!
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 3, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


    She was called dead. Should she discard?

    >On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, 05:48:37 AM PDT, Robin S wrote:
    >Mah-Jongg Q+A
    >My mah-jongg question or comment is:a player has called for a tile, laid down her requested tiles which was the 2019 & because single tiles could not call, her hand was dead. She had not discarded her extra tile. Should she or is all tiles at the time consider dead?
    >Thx

    Hi, Robin!
    I wrote the answers to all the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about American/NMJL mah-jongg. Your question is answered thoroughly in FAQ 19-CK. Your question seems simple, but there's a lot more to the question than you were thinking! All explained in the FAQ.
    Please bookmark FAQ 19 for your future reference.
    Yw!

    May the tiles be with you.
    Tom Sloper
    Author of the Sloper On Mah-Jongg column and the Mah-Jongg FAQs -- donations appreciated.
    Author of "The Red Dragon & The West Wind," the definitive book on Mah-Jongg East & West.
    September 3, 2019
    Los Angeles, California, USA


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