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By Tom Sloper
March 18, 2012

Column #511

American Mah Jongg (2011 NMJL card). This past week it was my pleasure and privilege to attend Mah Jongg Madness as a guest of the director, Gladys Grad. I met a number of fun players, sellers, and tournament organizers. I'm going to try to post my pictures and tell the full story this weekend (and when I do, it'll be here). But let me share a few highlights now.

Mah Jongg Madness was founded by Larry and Dorothy Krams, whose memory is honored and kept alive by Gladys and hubby Phil.

Gladys is truly the Grand Master of mah-jongg tournaments. She runs a smooth and well-mannered event. Gladys' Gospels include the Ten Commandments of Mah Jongg, as well as some well-thought-out rules such as the Rule of Simultaneous Occurrence, and rules governing the bad habit of temporarily racking a taken discard (do it for mah-jongg, well, okay, but do it for exposure and you're dead).

A controversial pseudo-rule circulated; apparently some teachers are instructing their students to "pickandrack," an aggressive and ungracious practice designed to make it hard for players to call the live discard. I deplore pickandrack, and so does League president Ruth Unger, and so does Gladys.

Tom Sloper & Gladys Grad, Mah Jongg Madness 2012

At risk of overlooking someone important, I met some notable people at the tournament (besides Gladys and Phil and their team of hard-working folks including Gil Linderman): Faye Scher (Where The Winds Blow), Judi and Bill Nachenberg (Mah Jongg Fun L.A.), Roberta and Steve Last (Travel Wizard), Vicky Vera (Versatile Machinery), Kimberly Powell (Marvelous Mah Jongg), Slava Novozhenya (MahjongTime), Janet Woodall (The Art of Mah Jongg), Judy Blumenthal (E-Z View Racks), and Cheri Neiman (Mah Jongg at the Kalahari). Folks were selling their mah-jongg merchandise, and I was no exception. Before the tournament, I'd ordered 20 copies of my book from Harper Collins, and I sold every single one. (Yay!) Autographed, of course.

I have a couple of funny stories about this tournament, but I'm out of space for this column. You'll have to read the full article.

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Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.

Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book in existence about the American game. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the official rulebook from the NMJL (see FAQ 3). Linda Fisher's website is the only website that describes American rules:

© 2012 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.