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SLOPER ON MAHJONG
Washizu-style. Washizu mahjong originated in the Japanese manga (comic strip), Akagi, as I mentioned in column #297. Washizu mahjong is played with a special mahjong set -- some of the tiles are transparent, so that a player can see some of his opponent's tiles.
The first ever real-life Washizu mahjong tournament is to be held in Arnhem, the Netherlands, this coming July. Read about it at MahjongNews.com.
Washizu mahjong is a two-player variant, based on the Japanese style of playing. Washizu sets are available at Mahjong Mart and Daja Mahjong, and now there's even a Chinese-style Washizu set, available from (Ace of Heartz Toys & Games). The Ace of Heartz set does not come with red fives, and the Chinese graphic style differs subtly from the Japanese. But Raymond Chow of Ace of Heartz says that customizations can be requested. Like Western indices, or American jokers.
Another difference with the Ace of Heartz set is the size. At 34 x 24.5 x 18 mm, the tiles are bigger than typical Japanese (25 x 18 x 16 mm) or American tiles (30 x 22 x 13 mm).
Washizu mahjong is usually played with a set of 34 opaque tiles and 102 clear tiles (one of each tile type is opaque as normal, and has three transparent matching siblings). Ace of Heartz makes the set available in 1/4 clear, 1/2 clear, and 3/4 clear configurations.
Most Asian sets come from the factory separated by suit (36 tiles per tray, one tray just the craks, one just the dots, one just the bams, and the fourth tray the winds, dragons, and flowers). The Ace of Heartz set is cleverly separated into trays of one each of the suit tiles, wind tiles, and dragon tiles, and two flower tiles (both numbered the same). Ace of Heartz sent me a set that includes six trays of tiles -- that's two trays more than you need for a game, but it permits you to decide whether you want the tiles to be 1/4 clear, 1/2 clear, or 3/4 clear. Raymond says that their "most popular configuration is the 50/50, because the 75% transparency is too extreme and 25% transparency is too similar to the regular game."
With this set, you can try playing any un-American variant. Even Chinese 144-tile variants are possible, since it comes with the necessary flowers. Clear tiles aren't intended to be a substitute for your regular set, rather they provide a fun change of pace.
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Links about Japanese-style mah-jongg:
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© 2010 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.